August 2011 Q&A
Working with PDF files
Q: I have two questions. I'm a member of a club and have a PDF that is the membership email list. I couldn't figure out how to convert it to another format so asked the person who sent it to send it as Word document. I got a .dotx file and wasn't sure what to do with it.
A: Open the PDF with Adobe Reader or whatever PDF reader you use. Highlight the material you want to copy (you might need to select one of the reader's tools if you can't just drag the mouse across the document while holding the left mouse key down). Right click on the highlighted copy to save it to the clipboard. Open a blank document in your word processor and paste the saved material in. This can be done in Adobe Reader; you don't need the full Acrobat program.
If you get a .docx document and an earlier version of Microsoft Office, you need to download the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/support/microsoft-office-compatibility-pack-for-word-excel-and-powerpoint-2007-file-formats-HA010168676.aspx so you can read the document. Users of the latest Word can save documents in the old .doc format if they know that the person they're sending the document to is someone who has an older version.
Michael Shalkey: The .dotx file is the Word template, which contains all settings for new Word documents. If a person saves a document in the .dot format, everything in that document will appear in every new document you open.
Computer asks for login
Q: My computer used to go directly to my desktop when I booted it. Now, after an update, I'm being asked to click on my user icon. I'm using Windows XP.
A: There are a two ways to fix this; the instructions are at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315231. Microsoft has an automatic fix there, along with instructions for a manual fix by editing the registry. Because this is a specialized question and the instructions are long, we're not reprinting them here.
Also check the users list to be sure that you're the only one. Some programs add a user when they're installed.
Saving Yahoo mail to a flash drive
Q: How do I save a Yahoo email that has a link to a webinar so the link still works?
A: Use Ctrl-S to save it and then pick where you want it to go. It will save as an HTML file with working links.
The questioner posted a note on the CIPCUG Facebook page that the solution didn't work for her. A couple of ideas were suggested.
Speed vs. bandwidth
Q: What's the difference between speed and bandwidths (rate vs. amount)?
A: The speed rating is how many megabits or kilobits you can download or upload in a given time. FiOS can do 25 megabits per second at its highest speed. Bandwidth is the total amount of information that has been transmitted in a month (or other period). The bandwidth is less important for computer users, but for cellphones, it's very important because they limit the monthly bandwidth you can use. Most of the "unlimited" plans are actually limited and going over the limit can boost your bill considerably. Some companies don't count uploads. Sprint is the only one that is truly unlimited. The bandwidth is usually the total amount of data you've uploaded and downloaded.
Q: What's the usefulness to the home user?
A: Recently, a user was cut off by, I think, a cable provider that has a limit. He was doing a lot of bit torrent, uploading a ton of data and got a letter from his provider that he'd be shut off if he wasn't careful. He didn't comply and was shut off and won't be let back on for two years. No other service is available where he lives so now he's using his cellphone.
Q: How can you check your speed and volume?
A: There are several places to check your speed. I like http://www.speedtest.net/
The only way to determine your bandwidth is with your provider, and many Internet Service Providers don't track it because they don't care. Cell phone companies definitely track it and should be able to tell you how much you're using.
Capturing streaming audio
Q: How can I capture an audio stream?
A: Michael Shalkey: Use Audacity, which is on the freeware flash drive.
Q: I'm listening to a radio station.
A: It's illegal, but it can be done. Talk to me at the break.
Toby Scott: It's much easier if you're listening to the station on the computer.
Upgrading Acrobat Reader
Q: I have Adobe Reader 8. Should I upgrade to 9?
A: Michael Shalkey: Go directly to 10, which fixes a lot of security problems. If you haven't updated, do so. Q: Should I go to Internet Explorer 9?
A: Are you using Vista or 7? (Vista) Yes. IE 9 won't work on anything before Vista.
Q: Some of the printers don't work with IE 9. My Canon does not.
A: That's a problem of Canon, not IE. Canon apparently wrote its driver in "quirks mode" for the earlier, less-standards-compliant versions of IE.
Q: Will it work in Mozilla?
A: It should, but I'm not sure.
Q: Windows Secrets said you have to do some special upgrades for IE 9.
A: Without more details, I can't comment on that. We've had no problems with standard installations on Vista or Windows 7. But it is probably a good idea to follow the advice of Windows Secrets: http://Windowssecrets.com/top-story/its-time-to-move-up-to-internet-explorer-9/.
Q: A couple of meetings ago, we were discussing Firefox add-ons. Did I understand correctly that you said pick only from those with ratings of 4 or 5?
A: Yes. You can sort by both categories and ratings. I've used some three-star add-ons but they've usually had significant warts.
Q: How do I uninstall a program that doesn't show up in Add or Remove Programs?
A: If it doesn't show up in the list, it's not a program. It might be a script or software that does not install itself and is fully self-contained. An example is the online repair program on the Ventura County Computers website. Portable Apps, which we've discussed and which is on the freeware flash drive, also is fully self-contained and does not make any changes to your registry or install anything. There are add-ons to Internet Explorer that you have to remove from the add-ons manager in IE.
Q: In some of those, there's an uninstall entry in the menu.
A: It's still running in something else. It will remove from IE or whatever it's running on. That probably means it's a script.
Desktop grays out
Q: On my Vista computer, when I'm surfing the Web or shifting to another document the screen fades out, stalls and doesn't do anything for about 3 minutes.
A: That's usually a RAM problem or a stalled program. The grayed out screen is the same the spinning hour glass in XP. It means the computer is completely tied up with what it's doing. Try to figure out what's running what it happens and what the common denominator is. Once you figure out what the problem program is you can repair it, fix it, delete it or use something else. Often removing it and reinstalling it solves the problem.
Q: My computer tells me there's an update to a program and gives a version number. I want to know if I already have it. How can I tell what I have?
A: Almost always, if you go to Help > About, it will give you the version number. If it doesn't, the only other way to find out is to go the program's folder, find the .exe file, right click on it and go to Properties > Details and check the version number.
Q: The last time Rick worked on my computer, he put in his flash drive and installed Magic Key. Its icon keeps coming up.
A: That's our mistake. It's a diagnostic tool, and we should have uninstalled it before we gave the laptop back. Just delete it.