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Archive for the ‘Techologically Illiterate’ Category

Here on my next episode of “How Technologically Illiterate Can I Be?” let’s delve into Youtube.

Photo by Joey Huang on Unsplash

This is also a reminder that as writers we need to explore new things and learn new to us (sometimes now old and perhaps less popular in certain demographics) social media to share and market ourselves and our writing with.

Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know, but in my attempts to set up a Youtube author channel, create and upload some content, link it to a few social media resources to upload that content, and cross-link social media to each other, I managed to create a second Youtube channel.

Whew, that was a long sentence.

See all my subscribers? Yes, that’s me subscribed to my own self. (I also subscribed to myself using my other author channel for middle grade dark fiction, Vivian Munnoch, which has a whopping one video uploaded – text to speech again as noted below, because I have yet to learn the ability to speak coherently while recording myself.)

This is the “L. V. Gaudet, author” channel I want to keep. It has a whopping two subscribers (both me) and two videos uploaded:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz7ihUUNsNGpMLksRTZk2og

I think these were both the videos where I used a text to speech app for the voiceover because I am really bad at reading script while being recorded. So bad that the awful text to speech app sounds way better than I can, even after a ridiculous amount of time spent rehearsing reading the same flash fiction piece.

Two Identical Youtube channels serves me no purpose and would split any potential followers between the two, making the numbers on both worse than they already are.

p.s. this is also why you want to maximize your publishing numbers for your book by using fewer publisher methods (ie uploading to Smashwords, Amazon, Draft2Digital, IngramSpark, etc – because bigger numbers on one book or channel is better than those same numbers spread across multiples in smaller numbers on each.

This should be a breeze, right? All I need to do is delete that extra channel. Sounds easy to me. Except that I’m not always as technologically smart as I think I should be. I can’t find where to delete the extra channel! Great.

But that won’t stop me. Research time. And This will drive me to distraction until I figure it out, so I will find the answer.

Okay, so it turned out to be very easy, both to research and to do, although frightening that it took SOOOOO LOOOOONG on a channel with zero followers, zero follows, zero comments or likes given or received, and zero content.

In the top right corner click your profile picture, then click “Switch account”.

Click on the channel you want to remove (the top is my personal profile, the two identical are the channels).

On the left click “Settings” and then click “Advanced settings” at the bottom (see how bad I draw with my mouse? Haha).

Here it actually gives you the option of just hiding the content or removing it and your channel. Click “I want to permanently delete my content”.

Google gives you a chance to change your mind. This is your last chance. Click the boxes to let Google know that you know what you’re doing and aren’t just like drunk or something. Then click “Delete my content”.

Ok, so just in case you are actually RAGE QUITTING! your Youtube channel and deleting all content in a fiery burn of fury, Google gives you one last last chance to go back and not do this.

Type in your Youtube channel name in the box to verify. Just in case you do happen to be too drunk or something to remember, it conveniently shows it here in brackets for you.

Somewhere in one of these steps it made me log back in again. So if you can’t remember your Google password you’re kind of screwed there.

Then I had to wait a crazy long time for it to delete the channel despite it having zero followers, zero follows, zero comments or likes given or received, and zero content.

And apparently Youtube or Google felt like I just unfriended them or something, because after a few refreshed attempts to get back into Youtube to check – after that really long wait for the deleting message to clear – and having to re log into Google again even though I had it open  and my login active, I also had to re log in again to get into my account Youtube. Isn’t that supposed to be automatic when you are logged into Google? I mean I didn’t have to log into Youtube when I started this exercise.

And the extra channel is gone! Yay!

It was actually pretty easy. It took longer to re log in to Google and Youtube than to delete the extra channel. The longest was that wait for it to delete all the nonexistent content. I’m afraid of what it might take if I actually had a bunch of content and activity. I think that might actually take a day or two.

Keep writing my friends.

Any tips on speaking coherently when you are recording yourself so you don’t sound like you are tripping over your own lips and tongue? Hahahahaha. Seriously, those text to speech programs are not good. They sound like bad robots and confuse a lot of English language words, especially with Heteronyms like lead (is it the metal or to lead?), read, live, wind, etc.

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An Epic Journey Figuring Out Why My Shared Word Document on OneDrive is Read Only. But Why? It is NOT a read only file on the computer. I Want to Edit It On My Phone!

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

If you know me, you know my technological literacy is spotty and incomplete. Some things I learned; others are as mystifying as the vastness of the Netherworld.

I also have an annoying habit of having to figure it out when I don’t know something. Who is that actor who seems so familiar and what did I see them in? Well, put that movie or show on pause because I have to know. (Nope, that guy in the episode of Yellowstone has a resemblance sort of, and voice that we thought sounded like him, but was not the actor who played Face on the A-Team). That nagging feeling something in a story I’m working on doesn’t mesh with something? I’m going to prove it to myself, even if it looks like it’s just a weird unprovable déjà vu because I can’t find it. I still won’t just drop it, though, because that nagging sense will still be there.

Why can’t I edit my file on One Drive? I have to know!

Jump to the answer! Or read on through all this rambling drivel.

Or; here is the quick answer if you don’t want to waste time reading anything else here:

In the document open on your phone Word app, just click the three dots in the menu (…) and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. Save in the identical file location of the existing file and click “Replace” when that popup message appears. Wait for it to save and update. It will convert your “read only” Compatibility Mode old version of Word file to the new version and make it editable and syncing across all open files on different devices.

In my efforts to get back to writing and editing with some reasonableness of frequency (aka not not writing and editing), I tried saving a few WIPs in Microsoft Word with the AutoSave to OneDrive feature. The idea being that I can edit the same file whether I’m on my laptop or on my phone in another room, or perhaps laying in bed awake at 3am with insomnia.

I’ve been very hesitant to embrace cloud saving of any kind. I’ve also been accustomed for years to working on anything personal (aka not the pay-the-bills-job) as much in places where I have no Wi-Fi as I do at home with Wi-Fi, including on my lunch breaks at that job for years before Covid sent us to work from home. No Wi-Fi in that lunchroom. Thus the learned extreme hesitancy of using any sort of cloud-based storage where I wouldn’t be able to access anything stored there half the time. One of my favorite places to write before we had to sell it was at the camper, in the peaceful  relaxing slower pace away from home and happens to be far from any sort of working Wi-Fi.

So this attempt at cloud-based file sharing with myself is both an unutilized technology and behavior to be learned.

I tried it with one WIP file and it was pretty cool. The idea of being able to edit the same file with real-time live updates on both devices was fun. I sat there typing on the laptop and watching the words appear on my phone. Then I did it the other way around just because I could. Yeah, I know. I’m lame.

My second file attempt – The Woods, a novel I have been so painfully close to completion for so long and promising to finish and have published, and actually think might in many ways be one of my, if not ‘The’, best – did not go so well.

I’ve clicked the AutoSave in Microsoft Word to save it to OneDrive cloud-based storage, deleted that OneDrive file, and re-clicked it a number of times. I just cannot get it to open in the Microsoft Word app on my phone as an editable file like the other one. It will only open as a read only file.

So what am I doing wrong?

The first thing I found on the issue was a Microsoft issues chat from 2014 where all the answers suggested the *fix* of just downloading and saving the file as a new file to edit. Sounds easy right? As long as you have no intention of going back and forth between devices or have multiple people co-working on the document. As the original poster of the question commented, this is not a fix, but rather a workaround. It also means you essentially end up with more than one file document you now have to be on top of constantly making sure to either upload, download, and save as every time you are going to work on it, or will later have the laboriously time intensive task of using Microsoft Word’s compare files feature to try to combine all the revised file copies into one revision copy.

I’ve actually done that with files and it’s a great feature when you have the need for it. It’s nice when you find yourself with multiple rough WIPs of something and don’t know which is better or what changes were made on which and why. But I would not choose to do it unnecessarily because you are going through every single space, character, word, sentence, paragraph, and formatting change made on the two versions through the entire document. And repeating if for every extra revision copy you need to combine. You then have to go through and thoroughly edit the whole thing because you may or may not have remembered right and clicked yes or no to changes correctly throughout the entire document.

So, nix that non-fix.

Next try:

I tried opening the OneDrive folder and checking that the file folder within it and the WIP file both have the sync symbol showing sync is turned on. I don’t think you can actually turn that off? Here are three status symbols that show up:

  • The cloud one is a video of my itty bitty teen punching out another girl sparring at boxing. (She’s pretty good!)
  • “Shroud Eaters” is a horror in early stages and my first attempt at file sharing between the laptop and phone. That’s the one I could open and edit no problem with it revising the file for both devices in real time. This was my NaNoWriMo 2021 challenge to continue working on, which I did not get far on.
  • “The Woods 2021” is the newest save (thus the “2021”) version, keeping the previous save intact as an unrevised just-in-case backup. This is the file that will only open as a read only file on my phone with the Word app.

What do these symbols mean? I had to look it up. This is what I found:

  • The cloud – this file is available only online and cannot be opened without some form of internet connection. This file takes no space on your device.
  • Green checkmark in a circle – “When you open an online-only file, it downloads to your device and becomes a locally available file. You can open a locally available file anytime, even without Internet access.” In other words, this file when opened will download to your device, take up file space, can be edited with or without internet, and should automatically save back to the cloud location to sync and update with revisions made to the shared file on other devices. Sweet.
  • The circling arrows – means that a sync is in progress. If it shows this with a “processing changes” message, you may have a problem. Processing changes is okay because that means it’s actively syncing, but if it doesn’t go away your sync is stuck. When I hover the mouse over the file line with the circling arrows in the folder it does show “Availability status: Sync pending”.

(P.s. as noted below, closing the file on the laptop turned these to green checkmarks – so sync pending was not actually stuck or anything. However it apparently can get stuck. In this case it was just letting me know the file was open somewhere and waiting to sync when I start typing in it.)

I tested by editing “Shroud Eaters” on my phone while watching the OneDrive file folder on the laptop. The green checkmark didn’t even blink. The file is open on both the laptop and phone. I tried typing in each while watching the file on the other device, and the watching it change on the other screen in real-time didn’t happen this time. Weird.

So, I closed OneDrive and clicked the app on the phone to open the file folder and saw this:

This actually doesn’t surprise me because I’ve already encountered the problem I have yet to resolve of somehow ending up with multiple OneDrive files for the same file. That’s why you see the “Shroud Eaters (3)” file.

So now I have the added issue of which of these is the most recent and current file with the hours of work added? Bugger. And why when both the phone and laptop open files should be the same file syncing on both devices did the changes not sync? It also shows one updated a half hour prior, not both just now, which would answer why the two devices show the revisions from each other.

I figured out the most recent revisions file and deleted all the extra “Shroud Eater” files from OneDrive via the laptop. I got the warning that deleting the files will delete them everywhere.

Now, in the OneDrive folder on the laptop the one Shroud Eaters file shows the same circling arrows that when I hover over them is shows “Availability status: Sync pending”. Great. Now both files are broken and not syncing. Good job.

The weird thing is the rest of the files are gone from the OneDrive folder on the computer, but not from that same folder on the phone. “Shroud Eaters (3)” vanished, but the others are all still there.

After about ten or fifteen minutes the warning that deleting the files will delete them everywhere came up again for another file and I clicked okay through it again and the extra files vanished from the phone folder a few minutes later. So, a major delayed reaction which might be a clue to the non-syncing issue. Or not.

I don’t always think of trying things in the most logical order, so thinking my sync pending is stuck, now I try closing the files in Word. Magic. Sync pending circling arrows is gone and they are green check marks. That’s not the problem apparently.

I opened Shroud Eaters and testing it again, typing on the laptop and it did not change in real-time on the phone document like it did the first time I tested out doing it. But closing and reopening the file on the phone synced the changes. It also made the typing in either device make real-time changes on the screen of the other again. Cool. It also showed them as markup changes – aka the text added on the phone and deleted on the laptop showed as strikethrough text on the phone and flagged a revision spot on the laptop file saying I cannot revise it until I finish revising it on the phone to avoid conflicts.

This hasn’t happened before. And the phone gave me the option to accept or reject the change. Clicking accept brought a notification that I can use the feature if I buy Microsoft 360. Um, no. Not right now. But maybe that’s why the navigation isn’t on the phone like it is on the laptop Word program? It’s something to think about when I maybe need to buy the personal or family plan by the end of the school year. Closing and re-opening the file on the phone again made the updates happen, so no worries there. It will update eventually and lose the markups.

So, back to trying to open The Woods on the phone. Nope, it’s still a read only file. Why? Hell if I know.

I deleted The Woods from the OneDrive file, opened the file on my hard drive, and re-saved it again on OneDrive. I opened it on my phone with the Word app, and it’s still a read only file. Crap. Why? Why does this technology hate me?

I found this curious and completely useless for my problem conversation about this issue. Except with their issue they discovered it opened as read only when saved in Google Drive and opened fine as an editable file when saved in OneDrive. My files are saved in OneDrive automatically by the Word app and one file works while the other only opens as read only in the Word app on the phone. So mine should work!

One commenter said whether a file worked on their phone (Andriod like mine) depended on how they opened the file. But I’m opening both files exactly the same way and one opens as editable and one as read only.

Both files are Word documents with .docx file extensions.

I tried opening “Blood And Canvas” on my phone. It too opens as a read only file. I have a new clue! What do “Blood And Canvas” and “The Woods” have in common that “Shroud Eaters” does not?

All three are Word documents created on my laptop and have .docx file extensions.

They were all three each started and the files created originally at different times years apart using different versions of Microsoft Word, and different laptops as one died and was replaced with another, so that it something none have in common.

“AND BINGO IS HIS NAME-O”!

Under the “File” tab at the top of your Word document on the computer click the “Info” option to view the information on your file. How to do this might be different on older versions of Word.

Both Blood And Canvas and The Woods show “Compatibility Mode”. Shroud Eaters does not! So now I know what the two files that open as read only on my phone have in common that’s different from the one that works.

Compatibility Mode is how Word allows a file created in an older version of Word to be opened and used in a newer version of Word. I found this: “As long as a document is showing [Compatibility Mode], new or changed Word features that were not included in the earlier version will be disabled.

Good thinking. I’m talking like really old versions of Word each these files would have been created it, even though they are saved with the .docx file extension.

Then I found this on the types of file extensions that are supported by Word:

This tells me that all three files were created using versions of Word from anywhere between 2007 and 2019. If they were .doc files, they would be from even older Word versions. With that and reading that link about how Compatibility Mode disables  features that were not available in the Word version the document was originally created in, I think Compatibility Mode is stopping the files from being editable on the phone – a phone app and OneDrive cloud storage that was created AFTER newer versions of Word replaced those older outdated ones.

THE BIG TWO SECOND FIX THAT TOOK ME WAY TOO LONG TO FIGURE OUT!

If your Word document is in Compatibility Mode, that is likely blocking it from opening as an editable file from OneDrive on your other device. You need to get rid of Compatibility Mode by have Word convert it to the new Word format.

In the document open on the computer, I clicked the “Convert” button in the document information screen and clicked “OK” through this popup warning message to let Word convert, clicked the Save/Sync button to make sure it saves the converted file to OneDrive, closed the file on the computer, then tried to open it on the phone. I had a little gray line at the top that opened to a message giving me the option to refresh to the new file. I did. And IT WORKED! The files saved on OneDrive now open on the phone Word app as perfectly editable files.

Now I’m asking myself, what if I did not have the laptop handy to fix it? What if I was somewhere else with just my phone and want to be able to edit and have the file sync when I open it later on the computer?

How do I fix a “Compatibility Mode” problem through the Word app on the phone?

I deleted the OneDrive “The Woods” file and re-saved aka clicked the Auto-Save to OneDrive on the hard drive document that is still in Compatibility Mode to test this.

  • Save the file using your phone: In the file opened with the Word app on the phone (this was using Android) Click those three dots to open “File actions” and click “Save”, not “Save As”. Click “Save” again, chose the save location, and save it.
  • Here’s the trick: Make sure you are saving it in the exact same OneDrive file location, including whether it is in a sub-file. You want the “Replace file?” popup message. If you don’t get that message you are just saving it as a second file instead of replacing the existing file. Click “Replace” and your Word doc file saves as the newer version of Word.
  • The good thing is the new file is in the new format and does not open in “Compatibility Mode” on the computer, and you didn’t just create a secondary file to figure out later. When you or whoever else opens OneDrive to work on that file with another device, it’s fixed just the same as if you fixed it with the Conversion option on the computer.

Now, what if someone is using the file, say on the laptop while I do that trick with my phone?

Hint: this is totally awesome!

Do the exact same thing! It worked!

I deleted the OneDrive file and did the re-AutoSave to OneDrive again with the Compatibility Mode file to test it. I added some gobbledygook nonsense typing to it on the Laptop. Yup, when I opened the file on the phone it was read only and the added gobbledygook nonsense typing was there. This is definitely the same file and not some weird other file that somehow exists.

With “The Woods” Compatibility Mode document in OneDrive still open on the laptop…

On “The Woods” read only file open on my phone I did the … and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. I made sure it was the identical file location of the existing file. I even clicked on the existing file for good measure, although it’s totally not necessary. I clicked “Replace” when that popup message appeared. Waited for it to save and update.

Magic! My file is now editable and not read only, updated to the new file type.

I typed some more gobbledygook nonsense typing in the file on my phone and watched it magically appear in real-time in the still open document on my laptop – a document that also now just like that was also the newer version of Word and no longer in Compatibility Mode.

Easy frigging peasy fix! (How the heck do you even spell “peasy”?)

My final question is why can I never come up with the right and very fast and simple answer first without wasting a lot of time searching for and answer that apparently exists NOWHERE in the whole World Wide Web, experimenting, and finally getting it after so much wasted time?

From my online searches, apparently I’m not alone. I could not find any answer anywhere that simply says, “In the document open on your phone Word app, just click the three dots (…) and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. Save in the identical file location of the existing file and click “Replace” when that popup message appears. Wait for it to save and update. It will convert your “read only” Compatibility Mode old version of Word file to the new version and make it editable and syncing across all open files on different devices. I can’t guarantee if more than one are actively typing in the shared document it will pick up all synced changes at the moment it saves over that file, but hopefully it will. After all, the document stayed open and unchanged on my laptop, other than losing the Compatibility Mode until I started editing the file on the phone – which updated the other file in real-time sync. I’m not talented enough to type in both the document on the computer simultaneously without pause while saving it on the phone to test it. That would take the help of another person to do one part while I do the other to test that fully.

Keep writing my friends.

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Confession: I completely forgot how to do this. Not because it’s hard to do, it’s actually surprisingly easy, but because it’s a thing I seldom need to do.

I added a page to my WordPress blog for my short story Dark Shadows coming October 30th in Dragon Soul Press’s anthology All Dark Places 3. Then I tried to add the page to the dropdown list in the “Published Books” page tab in the menu at the top of my blog and discovered I had no idea how to do it.

I wasted some time mucking about trying to figure it out, then the old tried and true random trying of things, and rediscovered again how easy it actually is if you know what to do. I have the bad habit of trying all the wrong things first before trying the right things.

I wanted to add the dropdown option to click and go to the “All Dark Places 3” page I created in this “Published Books” menu item.

First, I had to get to the screen that allows you to edit the menus:

In your left menu click on “Appearance”, then on “Menus”.

This new menu (below) opens:

This is the screen if you are in ‘edit in live preview’. It still works basically the same way:

Now you are in here:

  • Under “Pages” drag down the scroll bar to the page you want to add, check it off, and click “Add to Menu.
  • The page shows up here. Just click and drag the block to spot in the order you want it. Flush left will make it a main menu item. Offset to the right will make it a sub-menu item under the other item. As you see here below under (2) “All Dark Places 3 anthology” is a sub-menu below “Published Books”.

Making it look like this on the main blog page. So when you hover over the menu item “Published Books” all those showing below it show up on the screen to click to go to those pages:

This is the screen if you are in ‘edit in live preview’. It still works basically the same way:

Testing your menu tabs:

This is where I point out the magic of the Ctrl-Shift, Ctrl-Alt, Shift-‘other key’, and such commands.

It’s like when you call the customer service of a company and are faced with an endlessly running one-sided robot dialogue of menu items, none of which is simply “speak to a real live person”, when all you want to do is speak to a real live person. Zero (0) is the magic key they don’t list in their verbose-overloaded menu that generally bypasses the whole thing to ring the phone on a living person’s desk. Aka about a hundred pressed button choices later, the option to “speak to a representative”.

If you want to view these menu tabs to test them; from the window viewing your WordPress blog as a visitor:

”Ctrl” + tab:  ”Ctrl” plus click on the tab opens the tab to view it as a visitor, opening and adding the page to the open page tabs on your browser.

”Shift” + tab:  ”Shift” plus click on the tab opens the tab to view it as a visitor, opening the page in a new browser window.

Note:    If you are new to WordPress and don’t know this, click your blog name with the world next to it in your left menu to view the blog as a visitor sees it.

Keep writing my friends.

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This problem has driven me to distraction with frustration ever since I upgraded to my (now not so new and already partially broken ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  ) new laptop.

I use spreadsheets a lot and for multiple purposes. I’m also not a super technology-type person.

Photo by Vivek Doshi on Unsplash

My issue boils down to learned behavior. You know, when you do something so much that it’s an automatic reflex.

Typing is a learned behavior once you really know how to type. You know what words and numbers you want and your fingers do it without you having to consciously focus on them.

On my day job, in every program we use including Excel, it’s the same date format: month day year. All day, every day, Monday to Friday. Month day year. Month day year. Month day year. An endless stream of typing month day year in the same format: 5/27/21

My previous laptop was the same: month day year.

I’m so used to it that it’s an actual burden to have to stop and think to type anything other than month day year. It’s the same typing format always and it automatically translates to show the date in any form you formatted it to, whether it’s the short numerical form (8/15/21), short date form (Aug 15/21), or long formal date form (August 15, 2021). You can even set it to show day month year or any other order after you type 8/15/21.

  • 5/27/21
  • 6/30/21
  • 3/18/21
  • 2/28/21
  • 8/15/21
  • 5/5/21
  • 5/8/21

    .

You get the idea. Consistency is golden. Your dates are always correct when you enter them consistently, in my case month day year. You don’t have to stop and question, or go back and verify anywhere, was that May 8 or August 5th.

     .

     .

Why oh why did Excel suddenly demand a new date format?

The issue and where the frustration lays is that when I reinstalled Microsoft Office on the new laptop, it flat out refused to use the ‘month day year’ date format.

I periodically tried repeatedly to reset the date format in Excel to take month day year. But no, it persisted in only accepting day month year. My dates kept coming up wrong and I ended up taking the more lengthy process of entering them as text instead of dates: ‘May 8/21 instead of 5/8/21.

I periodically tried researching how to fix it with no luck finding any answers.

Yeah, it sounds like a minor issue. But entering dates as text renders all formulas using those date boxes unusable.

    .

I like formulas. They make life easier.

For example, if I submit to a publisher who does not respond unless the story is accepted, but instead tells you to assume you’ve been rejected if you don’t hear from them in 75 days.

If I enter the date I submitted as May 8/21 text, I have to count 75 days on the calendar to find the date I should assume they rejected my story.

On the other hand, let’s say in the spreadsheet box K11 I entered the date I submitted my story properly (5/8/21), Excel now sees it as a readable date number. In box M11 where I want the assumed rejection date of 75 days after May 8th, I add the very simple formula =K11+75 and Excel automatically finds that rejection date (Jul 22/21) for me in the fraction of seconds it took me to type =K11+75 (in this case actually =<arrow over two boxes>+75, which is even faster).

With the ability to use formulas that use date boxes, you can also create formulas that will average how long a particular publisher you submit to frequently takes to respond, the longest time it took them to respond, or the same for all publishers’ responses.

    .

For me, not being able to use formulas on Excel boxes with dates is the equivalent to the dating dealbreaker. It’s just a big fat NO.

     .

The Solution to the Excel Date Entry Format

There is absolutely nowhere in Excel or any Microsoft Office program that allows you to change your date format to determine whether you should enter mm/dd/yy, dd/mm/yy, yy/mm/dd, or any other variation of 5/15/21.

The key date format is in your operating system. Windows, for example. That is where you need to fix it.

Microsoft Office pulls the date format it uses from your operating system.

Buggers.

I’m not familiar with Apple, so if you have a similar issue with a program I you can maybe try a similar fix, but for Windows here is where you need to fix it:

*What you see depends on what version of Windows you are running.

  1. Open your Control Panel (Settings).
  2. Click on Clock, Language, and Region (Time & Language).
  3. Click on Change date, time, or numbers formats  (Date, Time, & Regional formatting – scroll down to it).
  4. Under the Formats tab (scroll down to Related Settings), click on Additional settings (Additional, Date, Time & Regional Settings).
  5. Click on Time (Region: Change date, time, or number formats).

Make your changes here and click Apply and OK:

   .

You should see the little clock in your computer taskbar change to show your new date format if you changed it, for example, from day month year to month day year.

   .

   .

I’m still working on fixing the why my Microsoft Word documents are all such smaller print on my laptop screen now at 100% scale. My eyes are not going to get any younger!

Changing the Windows screen resolution settings just makes everything in every app and on the Windows desktop …

SUPER BIG!

Or small like Word. It also completely messes up some programs that require a specific screen size/resolution to work properly.

And yet, I’ve downloaded word templates that are normal sized on my screen.

That’s a problem for another day.

   .

Keep writing my friends.

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Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

 

We’ve all heard the age old trope, “Back up your work.” This has been repeated as long as computers existed in the writers’ world.

It’s so easy to say, “Yeah, I know.” It’s just as easy to say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Especially with today’s beyond busy lifestyles.

We all get it. We’ve all been there, busy as all heck. As a writer, you are probably juggling the “paying job”, school, family, kids, pets, friends, other activities, and all (or many of) the things that make your house function day to day (you know, the dreaded laundry list of cleaning, cooking, shopping, and other chores). And all this is in addition to trying to put that precious time into writing, editing, revising, more revising, schmoozing, and promoting yourself.

Nothing brings home that reminder to back up your work like having a sudden unexpected computer emergency.

 

 

 

I have been dealing with this for the past weeks. I even have a dedicated external hard drive that exists for just that very purpose – to back up my work. It used to be a dual purpose drive, until one of my kids decided to ‘borrow’ it and dropped it. Everything on the drive was irretrievably lost, but luckily the important stuff, writerly stuff and family photos, were only backed up on it and not the only copy.

So, I bought a new external hard drive and declared it a, “Keep your hands off my frigging hard drive this is for writing and photos backup only!” drive. I dutifully backed up all my important stuff.

Once. Like a year ago. (Or was it longer?) Okay, it was definitely longer.

 

Photo by FuYong Hua on Unsplash

Photo by FuYong Hua on Unsplash

Flash forward to yesterweek, when my laptop decided to die an unplanned and untimely death. I faced the loss of more than a year of my life. Three books that I completely redid, spiffing them up better than before, after getting my rights back, plus the completion of the fourth in the series. Three other books finished and published since I backed up, and another book on the verge of publication.  Plus the hours spent on other writing projects and my writing bookkeeping files, among so much more.

At least it was better than completely and totally losing everything, my entire writing library and my self. I still had the older stuff from when I backed up, however long ago that was.

I was lucky this time. It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last time I am caught unprepared and un-backed up. Once again, my work was saved. My awesome fantastic can fix and make anything better mechanic (yeah, I know, that is not a professional computer person) came to my rescue and was able to retrieve all my files. It looks like it wasn’t the laptop hard drive that quit, thank goodness. The bad news is the laptop itself is un-repairable.

Once again, I have everything backed up. I swore to back up every day. I’ll probably push for backing up every week once I am back up and fully functional again, and hopefully between life and everything I can keep to that.

 

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

And so, I will leave you with this extremely very don’t lose yourself and everything you are by losing all your writing files important piece of advice: BACK UP YOUR WORK! REGULARLY! PLEASE.

Not just once. One backup copy is great. Two is better. Best, is to have those all important backup, backup’s backup, and your backup’s backup’s backup. But, what if your house burns down? An offsite backup is good too and maybe another, and … okay, we might be going overboard now, maybe.

 

 

 

But there are alternatives. There are the now getting bigger and better thumb drives. But in my world those are much too easily lost. External hard drives are bigger and harder to lose.

How regularly you back up your work depends on how much time you put into writing. If you do a spattering of words here or there, you probably don’t need to back it up so often.  However, if you write daily or near to daily, I would recommend a weekly backup. Or more. More is better. If you just put in hours writing voraciously, I would suggest backing up at the end of your writing session. Trust me on that.

 

Now, let’s talk backup drives.

There are basically two classifications of hard drives:

HDD: Hard Disk Drive: These drives have more capacity and are cheaper. They are basically a bunch of magnetic discs spinning like a CD with a head that reads and writes data on the magnetic surface of the disks. They are slower and require the head to be reset to a new location every time you want to read or write data. If you drop these they are probably now a paperweight! Moving parts = it breaks if it is jarred too hard or dropped, particularly when the head is not parked off the disc. Think of a vinyl record needle skipping across, only it’s a much more fragile CD disk instead of a more durable vinyl record.

SSD: Solid State Drives: These are probably your better option for a hard drive. Too bad you will probably only find it as an option for an internal drive, but I do strongly recommend it if you are working on a laptop. Data is stored in memory (flash) chips, so there are no moving parts to damage. They also cost more and are faster, but don’t come in the capacities of HDDs.

However, backing up means external backup drives.

There are two main types of external hard drives:

Both are based on SATA drives (the most common connectors used in laptops) and external drives are of the HDD type.

2.5″ magnetic drives: These are smaller drives powered by the port they are connected to, so they are more portable external hard drives. They mostly connect using USB 2.0 (480 Mbps) or USB 3.0 (5 Gbps)

3.5″ drives: These are a larger version of the 2.5”, but require their own power supply. So, instead of being powered through the USB plugged into your computer, there is a second power cord.

While the 2.5″ is more convenient, portable, and easily stored, the 3.5″ is typically more heavy duty and reliable, and tends to be faster because of the dedicated power supply. If you could find an SSD external hard drive, you would be golden! JUST DON’T DROP IT! (Like I said, paperweight. Just ask my kid.)

But now if you want a backup to your backup, something protected from break-in thefts, fire, you name it, you are looking at offsite storage. While you could keep a backup drive at a friend’s or relative’s house, it’s not very convenient for doing those regular back ups.

Luckily for us writers, there is a Cloud for that.

There are options that are free, available for minimal costs, and the pricier options, all depending what meets your needs. Once I am fully up and running again, I will definitely be looking into the cloud backup option in addition to my external hard drive backup. The downside to backing up on the Cloud is it requires internet to access it.

Here is PC Mag’s list of The Best Cloud Storage and File-Sharing Services for 2019:
https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/306323/the-best-cloud-storage-providers-and-file-syncing-services

Some of you probably use an online writing platform, so you don’t have the fear of losing everything when and if your computer or other device decides to die an untimely and unplanned death.

Even users of online writing programs and platforms need to back up their writing files somewhere else in addition to having it there. I have seen people in writing groups online desperately seeking ways to retrieve lost files when something went wrong on those sites and their writing project was lost.

So, no matter how or where you write, back up your files. Back up your back up. And, maybe even back up that too. You will thank yourself some day, probably.

 

 

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

The search for a new laptop is entirely another thing. 

I researched any and every use I could possibly use it for and the recommended specs, which is quit different from the minimum specs.  Minimum specs are the minimum it needs to function, and that’s about all you will get. It will function. Barely.  The “recommended specs” is what it needs to function properly and usably. And then I looked for something a little better than that for a cheap price because I’m a writer and I’m broke.

DO NOT buy the first “affordable” computer you find that meets your specs. No. Nope. Bad idea.

DO thoroughly seek out reviews on the computer you are considering purchasing and ask questions. Like, “What is an ‘unfriendly keyboard’?” I saw that on a review and it sent a chill down my back even a Stephen King novel cannot elicit.

Further reviews on that particular item included a lot of complaints like, “I have to use Cortana to do anything because the keyboard is crap!” A laptop with a useless glitchy non-responsive keyboard. For a writer. The thought is more terrifying than any story I can write.

Another laptop that had a mix of both a lot of glowing reviews and bad reviews included a few reviews warning that they were offering a FREE $100 headset to anyone who gives them a glowing five-star review. I ignored every single good review after that and read only the bad ones. And they were bad. And a lot.

We finally found one that ran me $1121 CAD after taxes with free shipping to the store. The only bad reviews were the pad on the laptop not working. I don’t use the pad. I don’t like the pad. That I can live with. It’s only been a few days, but so far the pad works. Hopefully it keeps working for those rare moments my mouse dies an untimely and unplanned death, leaving me mouse-less and forced to use that horrid pad.

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Photo by Trần Toàn on Unsplash

Photo by Trần Toàn on Unsplash

Have you opened that Microsoft Word document to start editing or writing to find to your horror that you are staring at those ugly glaring little red squiggles bringing to your attention two words strung together missing the space between?

Then the horror deepens when you realize the document is littered with them. You think, “What the Hell?! That wasn’t there before.”

You second guess yourself. “That wasn’t like that before, right?”

You wonder if you missed it. But how? And so many?

No, you aren’t losing your mind, and yes, maybe Word is gaslighting you.

It is real. It’s a thing. You are not trapped in The Twighlight Zone or in a Tales from the Dark Side.

If you are like me and running ancient software, you will occasionally run into issues caused by the age of your program. Sometimes these problems come up only when you have to reinstall them.

Due to an unforeseen computer problem, I had to reinstall my Microsoft Office. I’m running 2007. Sometimes I’m on another machine running Word 2010.

I now find myself regularly coming up against this problem: When I open a Word document last saved in one version in the other, Word is losing spaces in the translation from one Word version to the other. A lot of spaces.

This is a huge formatting and editing headache when you are getting an entire novel ready for publication.

After some research I learned the issue is a known glitch in Word 2007 and specific to the conversion between 2007 and 2010 versions.

The good news is Microsoft developed a fix for it and it was likely fixed in a patch to Word 2007 years ago.

Now here is the bad news: I found the Office fix, installing the patch, but it won’t work.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/2633585/spaces-are-missing-between-some-words-when-you-open-a-word-2010-docume

The problem with this fix is that Microsoft is no longer supporting Word 2007, so the patch is no longer available.

Since installing the patch is no longer possible, that leaves other workarounds involving either getting creative or spending money.

1) The Money Fix: Throw money at your computer. Literally. No? Okay, figuratively.

You can uninstall Office and purchase a bare bones one device only Word, Excel, and PowerPoint only Office package with no service available for the one time purchase price of $169 CAD.

Alternatively, you can get more with a monthly subscription for $8 per month ($79/year) or even more for $11 per month ($109/year)

*prices at the time of the article

https://products.office.com/en-ca/buy/office

While I’m not a “starving artist”, I am an author and I am broke. So, I’m going to look at what is behind door number 2.

2) The Creative Fix:

Workaround 1: Before saving that Word document you can do a “replace all” to replace all single spaces with double spaces. After opening the document in the other Word program repeat the replace all changing all double spaces with single spaces. This is clunky and impractical, but a workaround. You will have to do it every time you will be working on or sending to someone using a machine with the other Word version. And, there is no guarantee it won’t occasionally drop a double spaced double-space.

Note: to make this work I had to show all paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols before doing the replace all.

Workaround 2: Both Word 2007 and 2010 saves files as a .docx document. So it’s not as simple as looking at the extension on the file name.

I will note here that the curious thing is the issue with Word dropping spaces does not happen with every document I have. It seems random and yet specific to certain documents. This led me to this fix.

I tried saving as .doc

Instead of just saving as “Word Document” (.docx extension), I selected save as “Word 97-2003 Document” (.doc extension)

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployoffice/compat/office-file-format-reference

While this is not a perfect workaround, and it will show “[Compatibility Mode]” at the top of your document, it fixes the problem for now until I can afford to update my Office program to the current decade.

I’m pretty sure when I tested this theory Word knew what I was doing, because when I opened the document (.docx) last saved in Word 2010 in Word 2007, EVERY SINGLE SPACE WAS GONE. Not just random spaces, every one.

The Word 97-2003 document (.doc) on the other hand was just fine.

Go technology!

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