[TipJar] Say What?

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Have you encountered an unfamiliar word when reading email or an article in the web? Normally this would require a quick dictionary search but Google may present an easier route. Navigate your internet browser to www.google.com and enter the following in the search box:

define:[place unfamiliar word here]

If it is popular enough, Google will present the searched definitions.

Popular and upcoming words can also be searched:

Browsers equipped with a Google search bar may offer keyboard shortcuts that will make the process easier. For Firefox, Ctrl+K will send the focus to the search bar.

[TipJar] Rock-a-bye-baby

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[Advanced Disclaimer: Use the information in this posting at your risk]

If you want to minimize the amount of electricity used by your computer but dislike shutting down your computer because of the amount of time it need to start it up and open your applications, there is a compromise to be had if your operating system is configured properly to hibernate.

Hibernating an operating system means that all the information in the system memory (RAM to be precise) is written down as a “snapshot image” to the hard disk. The PC hardware is then turned off since the hard disk will not lose its information when powered down. When the machine is turned back on, the booting process of the operating system will look for a store snapshot image and load it back into the system memory. If this is successful, you will have your desktop at the same state as when it was hibernated. The time it needs to resume a hibernated image is relatively small compared to when booting the operating system from scratch (or what is called a cold boot).
All modern operating systems have support for hibernation but not all are enabled by default. To following steps will enable this feature in Windows XP:

  1. Go to Start->Control Panel->Power Options.
  2. Go to the “Hibernate” tab and ensure that the “Enable hibernation” check box is ticked. Click OK to dismiss the dialog and apply the change.
    WARNING: This will reserve space on the system drive equal to the amount of RAM in your computer. If you have 2GB of RAM, 2GB of hard disk space will be set aside for hibernation.
  3. To hibernate, shutdown the machine but select the hibernate option. The machine will be turned off automatically (if this is properly configured).
  4. To resume the hibernated image, turn on the machine. The image will be invalidated after a successful resume.

NOTES:
– Some applications, usually those that have time-bound login sessions, do not like being hibernated.
– The space set aside for the hibernation support is different with the space allocated for the virtual memory.
– If the machine fails to resume or hangs while in the process of resuming, reboot the machine and boot into safe mode (Press F8 after the BIOS screens). Reboot the machine to invalidate the hibernate images and the machine should boot normally after.

[TipJar] Office Copycat

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MS Office provides a helpful function in ensuring that style consistency is easily done on the documents being created. The function is called the “Format Painter” which is part of the Standard toolbar.

If the icon is not visible (if not previously used) it can be added from the toolbar dropdown which is located at the end of the toolbar section.

How to use the Format painter:

  1. Highlight the text (or cells in spreadsheets) containing the style that you want to copy.
  2. Click on the “Format Painter” icon to copy the style into the painter memory.
  3. Highlight the text (or cell) that you want to have the same format.

Format Painter loses its “memory” after every cycle so repeat steps 1-3 as you see fit. Styles can also be used in Word documents to facilitate the document formatting process.

[TipJar] Removing zip integration from Windows Explorer

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Zip integration was introduced starting Windows XP which enables the Windows Explorer to treat zip archives as a normal directory. This allows users to visit the content structure of the archive without depending on an external application like Winzip or extracting the content.

The downside of this integration is that Windows Explorer needs to finish reading all of the zip archives in the directory being visited before the directory contents are listed. This can cause a significant performance slowdown if there are many or huge zip files in the directory.

To disable the zip integration, the following command can be invoked (requires admin privileges):

regsvr32 /u zipfldr

The command above will clear all zip file associations. If you have Winzip installed, launch a new instance and Winzip will prompt if you want to restore the association. Select the ‘Yes‘ option otherwise zip archives will not be handled properly when double-clicked from Windows Explorer.

If another archiver utility is used, look around the preference page for the association options if the prompt doesnt show at the startup of the the utility.

NOTES:

  • If Winzip was configured to not show the prompt above, the associations can be done from the Tools->Configuration->System menu.
  • If you are using a different application for handling archives (e.g. WinRar, 7zip, etc.), explore it’s configuration window or refer to the manual.
  • The command “regsvr32 zipfldr” will restore the zip integration of Windows Explorer.
  • BONUS: Dump Winzip and switch to 7zip. It supports more archive types, achieves significantly better compression, and best of all it is Open Source and free!

[TipJar] Before you flick me off…

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Windows Explorer suddenly died and you are left with a bunch of application windows open. Before you perform a hard reboot by flicking off the switch, here are a few tips to enable the system to cleanly recover or reboot. These are all assuming that the system is still responsive.

Restart Windows Explorer

The Windows taskbar is actually handled by an instance of Windows Explorer. To launch a new instance, the following may be done:

  • Press “Alt+Tab” to cycle to an open command terminal. Execute the command “explorer” from there.
  • Press “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” and press the “Task Manager” button to launch the task manager. Navigate to the Applications tab and use the “New Task…” button to execute the “explorer” command.

If the mouse is also not responsive, you can use the “Tab” button to navigate the controls in the dialog windows.

Restart Windows

If the new Windows Explorer instance also refuses to function, a soft boot of the operating system would be in order. Since the “Start->Logoff” menu will also be inaccessible, try using the shutdown command to restart the machine.

  • Press “Alt+Tab” to cycle to an open command terminal. Execute the command “shutdown -r” from there.
  • Press “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” and press the “Task Manager” button to launch the task manager. Navigate to the Applications tab and use the “New Task…” button to execute the “shutdown -r” command.

The shutdown command also has a graphical interface if you prefer to use a Window to shutdown a window. Invoke the command “shutdown –i” to launch the GUI.

If all else fails

A hard boot is the only remaining option. Try pressing and holding the power-off button for a few seconds to invoke the motherboard’s power-down feature. If this still doesn’t work then go for the last resort of pulling the plug.

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