Microsoft applications

Microsofty tidbits for work and pleasure

What could be more interesting on a weekend than an article about Microsoft Office? I know...a story about the most common aspects of it that everyone knows about anyway.

Those of you with recentish incarnations such as Office 2003 may be aware that unless you tell it not to, Office monitors (parts of) what you're doing and reports back to big bad Microsoft which collates this information, hopefully to inform their designers and developers rather than another step towards world domination. So guessy guess time: what were the most used commands in Word based on this data (circa 2006 anyway)?

An easy way to make the content of one combobox in Excel dependent on that of another

Comboboxes, aka dropdown boxes, are useful tools for constructing e-forms, restricting idiot-user responses to limited-choice fields and soon. Microsoft Excel has many a way of allowing you to create these, whether this be via the Forms toolbar, Control Toolbox toolbar or the Data -> Validation menu option.

One especially useful feature of such choice-enabling controls is that of making the choices in one box dependent on what the user chose in another. For instance, if a user chose "animals" in box 1, the other could allow "fox", "badger" and "pig" as options, but if they chose "vegetables" in box 1, the other box could only allow "carrots", "cauliflowers" and "cabbages" as choices.

Setting up IMAP between Google Apps and Windows Mobile 5 Outlook Mobile

Well, for a while, the lovely email solution that is Gmail> (aka Googlemail), and the custom-domain Google Apps variant, didn’t seem to be getting much in the way of new features, despite big upgrades by its main competitors. Recently though, things have changed. We can look forward to a faster interface, a better contacts management solution, more storage space and, perhaps most excitingly in the eyes of the Poorhouse, IMAP.

IMAP, the Internet Message Access Protocol, is a technology allowing offline mail programs such as Outlook, Thunderbird et al. to read and manipulate their mail. Yes, Gmail has had an alternative technology, POP3, for a long, long while, albeit a rather dodgy implementation in some ways, but IMAP has the bonus of being able to keep in sync with the web-based Gmail proper. For instance, unlike POP3, if you read a message through an IMAP client then it will appear as read when you access Gmail or Google Apps over the web. You can move the messages between labels (usually termed folders under IMAP), delete them, star them and so on.

Insight into Paint

The Poorhouse has already heaped piles of well-deserved praise on the revolution that is "Paint", the software supplied free with every copy of Microsoft Windows. It simply can't be loved enough. Anyway, for all you with the same deep affection for cute little Painty-wainty, check this video for an insight into the creation of the wonder-tool. Worth watching just for time-index 1:20 alone.


Print out your photos nicely in Windows

Not sure if this is the Poorhouse being rather stoopid-basic in only have just found it out, but a vaguely interesting feature cropped up in Windows XP yesterday. Yep, you can just tell this article is going to be a thrill can't you? The feature is...Photo Printing Wizard. Whoo! Still, it is quite handy for some auto-instant resizing and formatting of your digital photos to something respectably comparable to an albumesque page of "real" photos in appearance.

Fixing "the DLL C:\Windows\System32\Hhctrl.ocx occupied an address range reserved for Windows system DLLs"

You've got to love the user-friendly wonderfulness of Microsoft Windows XP error messages. Imagine the Poorhouse's angst upon every turn on of the Poor-computer resulting in the following morsel:

Rthdcpl.exe - Illegal System DLL Relocation

The system DLL user32.dll was relocated in memory. The application will not run properly. The relocation occurred because the DLL C:\Windows\System32\Hhctrl.ocx occupied an address range reserved for Windows system DLLs. The vendor supplying the DLL should be contacted for a new DLL.

The Poorhouse runs virus checkers, adware checkers and even tries to put some sort of cap on the amounts of p0rn and hack1ng 1llegal sites used per day. But something had clearly slipped through. Indeed it had...the nefarious and cunning creature known as Microsoft Windows Update.

Put MSN Messenger back on your Windows Mobile 5 gadgetry

These days any half-recent mobile phones have a pile full of ridiculous facilities, designed to make space travel look like the stuff of mere kiddies. If your phone can't output 100 ringtones simultaneously, surf the inter-web at above-broadband speeds whilst cooking your dinner then something is wrong. There is thus some convergence between phone and PDA, many of which run Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.

Looking at some recent Windows Mobile 5 phones from Orange, T-Mobile and probably others it seems like something is missing though. Yes, what good is your fancy-dancy 10-mega-gig phone if it can't help you ROFL LMAO with your equally bored buddies via the magic of MSN Messenger?

Online file conversion

The Internet is great for sending files around, whether they be documents, pictures, sounds, videos or any other such electro-data. What is sometimes less great is when the proud recipient of your favourite picture of your hilarious office antics, or chain letter that if you don't forward to 7 people immediately you will die a painful death, can’t actually see the file because they don't have the right obscure program needed to open it.

This problem is only exacerbated by the profusion of admittedly cool new technologies where for instance a Nokia phone can bluetooth a sound recording to your Apple Mac via a Palm PC and so on. Who knows what format that will turn up in, or how to open it? If horror-of-horrors you aren't even on your own computer the chances of you finding and installing a program that will let you convert such things is minimal. So luckily you don't have to any more, Media Convert will do it for you via the web.

Counting rows using multiple criteria in Excel

Often in Excel you have a big fat table of data that you need to perform various analyses with. It wouldn't be out of the bounds of reasonability that you would want to count the number of rows that have a certain set criteria. Luckily, Excel provides the COUNTIF function to do exactly that. But it has severe limitations.

Fixing corrupt Access files

Microsoft Access, whilst in the Poorhouse's view is often a superfast and supereasy way to get useful results from data sources, is kind of notorious for buckling under pressure. Some of this might be elitist "it makes it easy therefore it can't be any good" type nonsense, but on the other hand it most certainly get a little weak at times when several people are accessing large amounts of data with it. Whilst most often it recovers well and the only serious effect is slowness and annoyance, rarely the database .mdb file itself can become corrupt and, ostensibly, unusable.

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