Friday, October 26, 2007

Click and Type in Word

Microsoft Word has offered the "click and type" feature for quite some time, but I recently decided to give it a try, and it is really quite useful.

I was preparing some user documentation with screen shots, using Alt-PrtScr to capture the active window and then paste into my Word document. I would then crop the image as necessary to better fit the printed page.

I had a section with dialog boxes displaying possible messages and/or warnings from my Access program, and I wanted to add a comment alongside each dialog box to explain why the message would appear, and the user action required for each.

In the past, I would have created a one-row, two-column table to hold the image alongside the text; I tried the click-and-type to add a comment next to each image, and it works great.

If you are in a click-and-type-compatible area of the document, the cursor looks like a short vertical bar with several smaller horizontal bars to the right. Simply click where you want to start your text & start typing. Very slick. It also wraps the text automatically so you don't have to worry about that - the only limitation is that if your text extends below the bottom of the image, the placement of the image vs. text can get a bit messy, so the text needs to be brief for the best appearance.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Confused Updates

Microsoft Update seems to be confused lately. I have two machines that have never had Office 2003 installed; they are both running Office 2007 Enterprise Edition. One is running Server 2003, the other has Vista Business.

Both PC's had been previously running other OS's and Office's, but then I did what I call a bare-metal install; starting by reformatting the hard drive and then installing fresh OS and Office, so I'm certain that there are no Office 2003 components whatsoever.

However, Microsoft Update thinks that I need to install Office 2003 Service Pack 3. Makes me wonder if there is "a little something extra" in SP3 that MS wants to get installed regardless.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Stealth Updates

Microsoft Update has recently evolved into a system of stealth updates, taking away the control of updating from the user. This is not a good thing.

I usually set my Automatic Updates for "download, but ask to install" and when the updates would be released, the Automatic Updates icon would appear in the system tray, alerting me that "something" was ready to install. I would then click the icon & run the "Custom" update option, since occasionally I would not want an update e.g. Office 2003 Service Pack 3, at least not until I've had a chance to review the details of the changes.

Nowadays, the icon will flash briefly but then disappear. Then, when you go to shut down the PC the "Shut Down" option is replaced by "Install Updates and then Shut Down" without revealing what exactly is about to happen to your machine.

The workaround is that you have to cancel the shutdown, then go to the Windows Update site, let it discover what updates are available, and then run the Custom install so you can select which updates you really want. Usually the so-called "Critical" and "Important" updates have already been downloaded, so you can immediately install those chosen updates. Typically in MS fashion, 9 times out of 10 you need to reboot for the changes to take effect, but you'll note that the normal Shut Down option is back on the list.

Another downside of this new "feature" is that it won't automatically get the "Optional" updates, so if you have developer software like SQL Server or Visual Studio, or if your system vendor has updates for their products, that can require an extra visit to Windows Update.

So much for Trustworthy Computing.