Really Old Windows

I just heard that the Start button (with a menu) will be back in Windows 8.1. Whew! Now I won’t have to reinstall an old version of Windows, to get that feature back.

Apparently it will be rolled out in an update, so I guess we’ll wake up one morning, and find the Start button back in its rightful place.

Which Versions Are You Using?

I’m running computers on three different versions of Windows:

  • Desktop is on Windows 7
  • Laptop is Windows 8.1 Pro.
  • Old laptop is running Windows XP, and I don’t have any plans to update. It’s working just fine, so why mess with it?

How about you? Do you have a variety of operating systems, or just one?

Clearing the Bookshelves

Coincidentally, I was cleaning out my office bookshelves today, and found these two old manuals, for Windows 95 and 98. I guess it’s safe to throw them out now.



Posted in Computer tips | 6 Comments

The Overly Sensitive Mouse

I’ve been using a Logitech Wireless M305 mouse for a couple of years, and it has worked very well. The only negative thing was that it goes through batteries very quickly.

But, it fits well in my hand, is lightweight and easy to maneuver, and has a very small USB receiver, which doesn’t get in my way. (I’ll complain about my laptop later – it’s an Asus N76V, with all the USB ports at the side front, instead of the side back.)


Recently, the mouse because overly sensitive, and double-clicked when it should have clicked, which made it very difficult to work. Instead of selecting a range of cells on a worksheet, I’ve find myself in one of them, editing the cell contents.

It’s okay if I’m overly sensitive, now and then, but I need my mouse to remain calm, and click reliably. So, I switched to an old wired mouse (M-BZ105A), which still works well, but has approximately 100 feet of cord. I guess it’s designed for old desktop computers where the USB might be in a unit on the floor, a few feet away.


Finally, I got new batteries, and replaced the one in the M305, but it’s still super sensitive, and I can’t work with it. There’s nothing evident that could be causing this, so it’s time for a new mouse.

The local Staples doesn’t carry the M305 any longer, so I bought the newer M325 model and just started using it. It’s slightly lower and rounder than the old model, but feels almost the same. It’s responsive, and moves well, and not overly sensitive like that poor, overworked old mouse.


Both models are good for small hands, but you’d probably want something large if you have giant man hands. Here are all 3 lined up, and you can see how much bigger the old, wired mouse is. The new M325 is at the left – it looks pink, but it’s red. The old M305 is in the middle.


Do you have a favourite mouse? I’m always wary of changing, once I find one that I’m comfortable with, but so far, so good. And maybe it will be easier on the batteries!


Posted in office gadgets | 16 Comments

Happy New Year 2014

Is your new year off to a good start? Or is your head still a bit foggy after last night’s celebrations?

I usually stay home for a quiet New Year’s Eve, but last night we went out for a dinner, to a small pub within walking distance.

In the picture below, you can see the table decorations that greeted us. There were the usual New Year’s gadgets – noisemakers, horn and hat. There was also a box that advertised special cocktails – Cereal Shooters. It’s a strange way to advertise drinks for adults, but maybe I’m just too old now, to appreciate all the new fads.


Anyway, Happy New Year, and all the best in 2014.


Posted in Away From Work | 2 Comments

Excel Web Survey vs Google Form

Which number formats are most popular in pivot tables? I have my guess, but wanted to see what other people thought.

So, I decided to create a survey in SkyDrive, using the new survey builder feature. Well, it’s new to me – I can’t remember how long it’s been available. Things didn’t go well, but the survey is included at the end of this article.

Build the SkyDrive Survey

I logged into Skydrive, and found the commands to build the survey. You can start one from the main panel, which is handy.


Or, start a survey from the Excel Web app.


It was easy to create the questions – the survey builder has a clean layout, with the question setup opening at the side.


In a few minutes, my survey was ready to share.

Share the Survey

There was a button to create a link to the survey, so I entered that in Firefox, to test the survey.


It worked well, but the results aren’t date stamped, and there’s no built in charting of the results. Half the fun of taking a survey is in clicking that button, to see how other people have responded.

Also, I couldn’t see a way to create embed code, to put the survey on a blog. There might be a way to do that, but it’s not obvious to me.

So, that SkyDrive survey attempt was a disappointment!

Back to Google Docs

I headed over to Google, where I had created surveys before, and built the same survey in a couple of minutes.

To the Excel Web Survey’s credit, I did find it slightly easy to follow the flow of setting up the survey, and making edits to the questions.

Share the Google Survey

After building the survey, you can create a link, or get the code to embed it in a website. So, I followed the link, and filled in a survey, to make sure it was working correctly.

When you complete the survey, you’re offered the chance to see the results. Nice!


And, back in Google Docs, I can see the survey results, and each record has a date/time stamp.


I hope they add these features to the Excel Web survey tool soon, because they are deal breakers for me!

Please Take the Number Format Survey

Anyway, here is the completed survey form, so please answer the 3 questions to help me see which number formats are most often used in pivot tables. Thanks!

And here is the link, in case you can’t see the embedded form below.


Posted in Excel blog | 1 Comment