Tuesday, December 28, 2010

There will be times when one's patience and understanding will be tested

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Have you solved a tech problem or found a better way of doing things with your computer? Share your information with other APC readers by sending it in as a tip to quicktips@acpmagazines.com.au, together with your name, contact number and 20-word bio. Alternately, if you have a technical question post it online on our forums at apcmag.com/forums and other readers may be able to solve it.

Experts solve your computing problems

APC and its readers can be one giant helpdesk. If you have a technical problem, chances are one of us can solve it.



Q. I use Notepad a great deal for coding and note-taking, and short of manually copying and pasting sections of frequently used text, I can find no way to speed up text entry. I'd like to be able to type 'myaddress' and have this automatically converted into my postal address. Is there any way that a feature like this can be added to programs that don't have it by default? Michael Harrod

A. This can be achieved using a free tool called ActiveWords (www. activewords.com). Launch the software and click the 'Start' button to activate the free version of the program. A new toolbar will appear at the top of your screen, so click the yellow 'Add' button, select 'Substitute Text' and click 'Next'. In the larger of the two text boxes, enter the text you would like to be able to add into documents quickly. In the smaller text box below, enter a description for the action and click 'Next'. In the 'ActiveWord' field, type a short text snippet that should be used as an activator - such as myaddress - untick the 'Add another item' box and click 'Finish'. Now when you type your chosen activation word into a document, it will be recognised by ActiveWord. Press [F8] or double tap [Space] to insert the longer section of text the snippet represents. ActiveWords can also be used to launch programs and perform common tasks.


Q. I have a large collection of MP3s stored on a network drive, and I use iTunes to manage my media collection. When I add folders of files to my library, I find that the music is automatically copied to the hard drive of the computer I am using. Can I add network files to the library and just leave them in their original location without creating a copy? Jack Newberry

A. This is possible, but you'll have to empty your existing library and start from scratch. Launch iTunes and click the File menu before selecting 'Library', followed by 'Organise Library'. Untick the box labelled 'Consolidate files' and click 'OK'. Click the 'Music' link in the left-hand navigation pane and select the 'as List' option from the View menu. Click 'Edit' followed by 'Select All' and then click 'Edit > Delete' to clear out your current library. You can then re-import your music - click the File menu and select 'Add Folder to Library'. Navigate to the folder on your network drive that houses your music collection and click 'Select Folder'. You'll have to wait while all the files are analysed and imported, but it should be much quicker than before because the files won't be copied.


Q. I've been using a beta version of Office 2010 for a little while and decided to buy the full version of the suite. However, I've run into a problem: when I try to install the software, I see a message reading: "This product must be installed to Q:. Ensure that Q: is unused and try again." I wasn't aware that I had a partition with the label Q:, but when I checked, it turned out one had appeared. How do I remove this so I can install Office 2010? Eric Bouton

A. The unexpected appearance of a Q: drive on your machine can be attributed to your use of the Office 2010 beta. The drive can be removed by using a tool called RipOutOffice2007 that can be downloaded from www.refusetosuffer.com. Despite the reference to Office 2007, it will also clean up after the beta version of Office 2010. Launch the program once it has been downloaded and click 'Go' to start the removal process. Restart Windows once this is complete and you should find that you're able to install Office 2010 without any problems. Windows


Q. I have a reasonably powerful computer that was running Vista, and having upgraded various pieces of hardware, I decided to install Windows 7 instead. Having performed an upgrade installation, I'm now left with a large 'Windows.old' folder containing my older Windows installation. I would like to remove this to regain some hard drive space, but it seems that I'm unable to delete the folder. Is there a special technique or program that I need to use to shift it? Tony Leland

A. The best way to remove an old instance of Windows left over from an upgrade is to make use of the Disk Cleanup tool. Click the 'Start' button, type disk cleanup and click the Disk Cleanup entry that's listed. If you're prompted to select a drive, choose the partition to which you have installed Windows and click 'Next'. Click the 'Clean up system files' button, again selecting your installation partition if a dialog appears. Select the option labelled 'Previous Windows installation(s)' along with anything else you would like to remove and click 'OK', followed by 'Delete Files'.

Synchronise files to different drives

The easy way to keep backups.

Q I switch between PCs regularly, and also store work on a USB flash drive when I need to use other people's machines. I use Dropbox to synchronise my files on different computers, but it's not as easy to use with my flash drive. Is there an alternative program that I can use with my USB drives? Daniel Turner

A. Dropbox is handy if you need to keep exactly the same files on several PCs and you need a web-based copy too, but it's not so easy to set up multiple synchronisations. It's also worth noting that a sync solution isn't the same as a backup plan. Synchronising programs propagate changes to files and folders across all the media you've set them to work on. In theory, this gives you an exact copy on each device, but if you delete a file on one device and then sync, it'll be deleted on everything.

A proper backup scheme should protect you against accidental deletion by keeping several copies of your files as they existed on different dates. Syncing is still useful, but make sure that you supplement it with backups as well.

Dropbox keeps a synchronised copy of your data on its servers, which is then propagated to any device that the program runs upon. If you want to sync other folders across multiple drives, or set up any more complex jobs, you really need a dedicated synchronising program like AllwaySync (www.allwaysync.com), which is free for personal use. You can set this up to sync with any Windows drive, all external devices, network folders, FTP servers and Amazon S3 storage. It also supports an OffsiteBox account (www.offsitebox.com) - which provides 1GB of storage for free - and you can use an MS ActiveSync folder, providing sync with a PDA or Windows phone.

Once you've set up a sync job and tested it, you can enable automatic synchronisation and set the program to run in the system tray so that changes are propagated as soon as you save changes to files, or the sync device becomes available. To set up a simple job, launch the program and then choose the tab marked 'New Job 1'. Click 'Browse' next to the left-hand folder to select the Windows folder that you want to synchronise. Now, ensure that your USB drive is connected and select 'Removable drive' from the drop-down list of options on the right-hand side. Click 'Configure' and choose the drive you want to use from the list. You can also supply a file path here. A removable drive can change drive letter of its own accord, so make sure you tick the box marked 'Bind to drive characteristics' to ensure that the program recognises it, even if Windows assigns it a different letter in the future. Click 'OK'.

You can find out the differences between the two folders by clicking 'Analyze'. After scanning both folders, AllwaySync displays the differences and suggests what changes need to be made. You can opt to change any of these suggestions if you like. To perform the sync, click 'Synchronize'.

If you're happy with the job, set its options to apply automatic synchronisation. Choose 'View > Options > New Job 1 > Automatic Synchronization'. You can then set conditions for triggering a sync, like whenever you connect your removable drive.

Work with Windows and Linux partitions

Get the best of both worlds.

Q. I'm running Ubuntu 10.04 and Windows 7 on my netbook. To help me get my jobs done, I tend to run the same apps on each partition - things like OpenOffice, GIMP and Adobe's PDF reader. Is there any way I can pass files between my two OS partitions so I can work on files in both? I'd also like to share files created on Ubuntu with others on the network. Jamie Boyd

A. You're in luck. Linux can read and write files to a Windows partition without much fuss. Most modern Linux distributions, including Ubuntu and Fedora, are able to detect Windows partitions on the machines automatically. You don't have to spend time messing about with configuration files or fire up the terminal to mount the Windows partitions manually. A double-click on the partition's name under the 'Places' menu should mount the partition with adequate permissions to read/write to it.

Once successfully mounted, you can work with the files on the Windows partitions just as if they were part of your local Linux filesystem. For example, from within OpenOffice Writer you can open files on a Windows partition via the 'Open' dialog box, make your changes and then save them with the 'Save' button, as normal.


What's more, you can just as easily work with Windows shares on the local network. To explore the Windows partitions over the network, head to 'Places > Network'. This will list all the computers on your network, with each one identified uniquely by its IP address. Double-click on a PC to view its shared folders.

If your network shares don't show up immediately, make sure you have the Samba package installed. If not, do so from the Synaptic package manager, which will also pull in the associated dependencies. The Samba package manages the SMB (Server Message Block) protocol, which is used to share files over the network.

Before we can access the files, we need to mount the shared folder. To do so, right-click on the Windows share and select the 'Mount' option to mount the volume. An icon that points to your shared folder will be placed on your desktop. You can also mount with the 'Run Application' dialog box by specifying the connection in the format 'ComputerNameOrIPAddress/ SharedFolderName'.

Here comes the flip side. In order to share files from the Linux partition, you need to create them as Samba shares. To do that, ensure that you have the 'systemconfigsamba' package installed, along with the Samba package. Now head over to 'System > Administration > Samba' to configure folders on Ubuntu as Samba shares. To share a folder, either hit the green '+' button or go to 'File > Add Share'. Here, you can specify the folder you want to share by pointing to it via the 'Browse' button. You should also give it a Share name, which will be used to identify it on the network, and you can add a description if you want.


Now comes the most important part of the process. The 'Writeable' and 'Visible' options enable other users to see and write to the folder over the network. If you want others to be able to view the contents of the folders but not edit your files, protect your work by making sure this isn't set to 'Writeable'.

To further protect your work, you can choose to restrict access to the folder to a particular user (or a group of users) by marking them under the 'Access' tab. Alternatively, you can give anybody permission to make changes to the folder by selecting the 'Allow access to everyone' radio button. You can also enable sharing by rightclicking a folder and then going to 'Sharing Options'. All you have to do now is click the 'Share this folder' checkbox and sharing will be enabled.

Source Citation
"Quicktips: help And Advice." APC 1 Dec. 2010. General OneFile. Web. 28 Dec. 2010.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome, that’s exactly what I was scanning for! You just spared me alot of searching around