About Me

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Frisco, CO, United States
Hi, I'm Joel Levy owner of PC Applications. I have been providing quality Windows and MS Office Training and Consulting services to Central Colorado for over 16 Years. I have been specifically teaching computer classes since 1993 and bring incredible enthusiasm in a relaxed, laid back style that makes the learning fun and enjoyable. My personable teaching style makes it easy to understand concepts of how the software works, not just what buttons to click. My experience in working with Windows and ALL of the MS Office Applications at ALL levels allows me to explain things from a broad perspective comparing and contrasting MS Office features. Check out our website www.pcapplications.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Take Control of AutoCorrect Options

Hello Again:

If you have used MS Word, then you have experienced "AutoCorrect". As one may be aware, there are many things that become Automatically "corrected" when typing in a Word document (and other Office Applications). This can be good news or bad news, there are the pros and cons, the yen/yang, the double edged sword...

Microsoft (as always) has made some important decisions for you about the AutoCorrect feature. And, as most of the time, you have options about these decisions.

To get to the option settings in Word, in version 2003 and earlier, Tools>AutoCorrect Options (AutoCorrect Tab) and in 2007 Click the Office button and choose Word Options in the lower right-hand corner of the menu then click Proofing Options (on the left), you will then see a button to get to the AutoCorrect options dialog box. In the AutoCorrect dialog box, there is a tab with the AutoCorrect options: Here is where you can see the specific options that are ON by default. Clearly, here is where you have the option to turn things OFF if you don't want the AutoCorrect feature. Be aware that the AutoCorrect options can be set through any Office Application and the current settings effect all of the Office Applications.

Specifically you have access to the Replace Text as You Type feature which can be used to replace common typos or what ever you want. For example you could setup replace Breck with Breckenridge to save some typing time. You can also delete entries in the list (select and entry in the list and click Delete) or turn the feature OFF if you don't want to use the replace as you type feature at all.

Another handy option is the Exceptions which applies to Capitalize first word of sentence, Correct Two Initial Capitals, and Other Corrections. After a period (.) Word is set to automatically capitalize the next word (assumes a new sentence). This is fine except for after abbreviations where the next word is not Capitalized and thus enter these Exceptions in the list. You can also list words with two capital letters that are NOT to be "fixed" such as "ID's" as well as Other Corrections as Exceptions to AutoCorrect options that are ON.

So, by "tweaking" these options, you can get Word (and the other Office Applications) to do what you want them to do as far as AutoCorrect options. Getting the settings to work for you can create tremendous efficiency.

Take care in the meantime until next time, Joel

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Highlights about highlighting in Word

Hello Again:

In my last blog, I discussed the concept of making selections in Word or just about anywhere else you are working with text in a computer. I also differentiated the words "selection" and "highlight" and pointed out that there is actually a "highlight" feature in Word. Well sure enough, one of my great fans (and it's mutual), my brother-in-law Jan V. Nystrom commented on my post and questioned this highlighting feature. So for you Jan, and everyone else out there in blogland, here's some information about the Word "highlight" feature.

But first:

My mind drifts back...and for those of you old enough, you remember when one would emphasize text in a book by underlining it with a pencil or even a pen, or perhaps drawing brackets around the text in the margins of the page, etc. This was probably the case until 1963 when the Avery Corporation created the first "Hi-Liter", a felt tip pen with translucent-ink, which is what a highlighter pen is by definition.

The first felt tip pen was invented by Sidney Rosenthal in 1952. It was made with a wool felt wick and tip and a glass bottle filled with ink and was called a "magic marker" so named for it's ability to mark on any surface. Yes, the good ole "magic markers" and the living room carpet.

The modern fiber-tipped pen was invented by Yukio Horie in 1962. He worked for the Tokyo Stationary Company in Japan. His original pens used bamboo fiber for the pen tips although synthetic fibers later replaced the bamboo. His pens also were the first to use dyes rather than inks to get their pigment.

In 1978 the Avery Corporation introduced their first highlighters with fluorescent colors having various pastel shades. The first fluorescent color was yellow which is why most people stereotypically think of highlighters being yellow. So now in this modern world one "highlights" text with a highlighter to emphasize text in a book.

Sorry for the diversion of historical perspective.

Back to Word and highlighting. So YES, there is a highlight feature in Word with the same concept of "highlighting" text but in a document rather than book.

To "highlight" text in Word, click on the highlight button. In Word 2003 and earlier, it's the second button from the right in the formatting toolbar (looks like a highlighter pen on the button). In Word 2007, it's a button in the Font Command Group in the Home Ribbon. When over text in the document, the cursor will have a highlight pen icon; highlighting is "on". Then with the highlighter "on", select the text to be highlighted (see last blog about making selections). The default color is yellow (what-da-ya-know). The down-arrow for the highlighting button has various color options. To "remove" any highlighting that is already there, choose "no color" as the highlight and then select the text that has been highlighted to apply no color. Yes, we have no bananas...

Well, there are the highlights about highlighting...

Take care in the meantime until next time, Joel

Friday, October 15, 2010

Making selections in Word (and many other places)

Hello Again:

Alright, so I'm going to be a little picky here...

One of the things that comes up all the time is when I am working with someone in a Word document and they click and drag the cursor over some text and say "here, I highlighted the text ..." I usually at that point go into a discussion about concepts and semantics. I say "you mean you selected the text?" They look at me like I'm crazy and say "OK, but you see the text is highlighted, right?" I say "yes, but that is the result of you having 'selected' the text."

So what's the point here? Clicking and dragging over text "selects" the text. The software "highlights" the text to let you know it is selected. Just to be clear, there is a "highlighting" feature in Word. So knowing about this and in light of the discussion, when someone tells me they "highlighted" some text in Word, I have to question their meaning of "highlight"; do you mean highlight or perhaps select? See what I mean...semantics.

Now that I have cleared the air about the concept of selecting text, how might I make selections in a Word doc??

Below are ways to select anything in a document from a single character to the entire document:

Any amount of text: Click where you want to begin the selection, hold down the left mouse button, and then drag the pointer over the text that you want to select. Or Click at the start of the selection, scroll to the end of the selection, and then hold down SHIFT while you click where you want the selection to end.

A word: Double-click anywhere in the word.

A line of text: Move the pointer to the left of the line until it changes to a right-pointing arrow, and then click.

A sentence: Hold down CTRL, and then click anywhere in the sentence.

A paragraph: Triple-click anywhere in the paragraph.

Multiple paragraphs: Move the pointer to the left of the first paragraph until it changes to a right-pointing arrow, and then press and hold down the left mouse button while you drag the pointer up or down.

An entire document: Move the pointer to the left of any text until it changes to a right-pointing arrow, and then triple-click or CTRL+A.

Try 'em out. These methods usually work in any text editor, not just Word. Talking about improving efficiency!

Take care in the meantime until next time. Joel

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More Words about Word: What's "Normal" in Normal Style?

Hello Again:

Well, some more words about Word. But first a question...What's a Style (as applied to software like Word)? How about a predefined compilation of formats (my definition)? Such as {Times New Roman, 12, Green, Left Aligned, 2 Line Spacing}. Each Style has a name and a definition of the formats that make up that Style. Then there are of course default settings such as the default Style for a given application. Microsoft seems to like the word 'Normal', many of the default settings in MS applications are set to Normal, although Normal may mean different settings for the specific format in this case. Excel has Normal Style by default but has different settings than Word.

As far as the Word Normal Style, low and behold, MS decided to change what Normal is for Word after Word 2003 (Word 2007). So, for those of you who have worked with both versions (or even 2010), you probably have "seen" this and wondered what happened.

In Word 2003 and earlier versions, basically the Normal Style is {Times New Roman, 12, Left Aligned, single space, no before or after spacing}, there are certainly other setting to fully define Normal, but good enough for comparison.

In Word 2007 and 2010, Normal is {Calibi, 11, Left Aligned, 1.15 Line Spacing, 0 pt Before, 10 pt After} and other settings.

The HUGE difference as I would see it, not so much the font change but the spacing changes and the implications. Word 2003 has single spacing with no before or after paragraph spacing, thus one would press Enter twice to create the end of a paragraph, a "blank line", and then start a new paragraph. In Word 2007, 2010, pressing Enter once, starts a new paragraph but 'appears' to have a blank line between the paragraphs. This is of course is due to the After Paragraph setting of 10 pts and the line spacing of 1.15. MS decided this for you. They decided the font and spacing setting are the most visually appealling and the easiest way to make it work.

So what if you want it to be the way it was? In Word 2007 notice there is a style "No Spacing", it is the old style spacing but still uses Calibri 11. To change the font, right click on "No Spacing" and choose Modify. In the lower left click Format, Font and then change it to what you want. Do this for any of the format options. After you are done changing any formats, click "New documents based on this template" to make it the default style for new docs. You could do the same thing to the Normal Style, just modify IT and make it the default. You could even create a New Style and make it the default...

So you don't have to be Normal I guess is the bottom line...

Take care in the meantime until next time. Joel

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Word: Basic but Important

Hello again. I guess it's time to put in a word about Word. So I'll start at the beginning...

I taught a Word Level 1 class last week and and once again was reminded as to how some of the most basic concepts about how an application works are missed sometimes when people just "jump into" working with an application and "fumble around" (these are the terms I am told by users, I didn't make it up).

When I teach a Word Level 1 class, one of the first things that is taught in the class is about the "Show/Hide" button. It's the paragraph symbol button. It's in the Standard Toolbar in 2003 and earlier versions and a button in the Paragraph Command Group of versions 2007 and later.

What does the button do (it is NOT on by default)? Well, it shows or hides non-printing characters (dot's for spaces, paragraph marks for paragraphs, right arrow for tab spacing, etc.) Non-printing means the characters don't print but show you the "data" in the document such as spaces.

How many of you after typing something have wondered "is that one or two spaces there???" If Show/Hide were on, just count the number of dots as one dot is one space (zoom in if you need to see it better, like 250%). You all know that one creates paragaphs in Word and the document starts with one blank paragraph (with Show/Hide on you see one paragraph mark in the upper left of the blank document). Honestly, I don't know how someone can confidently work on a document without Show/Hide on or at least turn it on every now and then to see what's there or not there. White space in a document is hard to interpret without this feature; several things can cause white space such as spaces, tabs, indents, alignments, etc. Show/Hide makes it obvious as to what is creating the white space. Do you "see the white", har har.

I hope this gives you some insight and opened your eyes as to what the Show/Hide button in Word is about, no pun intended.

Stay tuned, I'll have more to tell you about in the near future.

Take care in the mean time until next time. Joel

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Smart Tags

Hello again, I know it has been awhile but here's something that I'll bet you have seen but may not really understand the significance thereof...Smart Tags

Starting with Office 2002 (also called XP) Microsoft added a new feature to the Office Applications called Smart Tags. Upon completing an action (such as Paste or Insert) and Icon related to the action (such as a Paste Options Smart Tag (Clipboard icon on a button) in the event of a Paste action) appears on the screen. You can ignore the button, keep on working and it will go away. If you move your cursor over the button you will see a down arrow. Click on the down arrow and you will see a list of options. The idea is when you perform an action, Microsoft has decided for you what happens by default but the Smart Tag is to offer you other options. You ought to at least look at the options to see what your choices are, you may be surprised as to the number of options. For example, in Excel, the Paste Smart Tag has 9 (yep, 9)different options as to what may happen when you Paste!

For those of you who have "been around awhile" you may have known about the Edit>Paste Special command. After a cut or copy, you could choose Edit>Paste Special from the menu and you would be presented with many options as what to do upon Paste. I suspect MS's intent was to provide a way to have options related to an action more "up front" or obvious by using the Smart Tag concept (no personal communication with Bill Gates and his team).

Check it out...I believe it's always good to know what your options are!!

Now just make a decision!

Have fun in the meantime until next time, Joel

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Statistics Linear Regression Excel 2007

OK, so the weather has been so nice lately...

Let's see, how about for you statisticians or wannabe stat kinda guys or gals...you all remember r (linear correlation coefficient) or r2 (coefficient of determination) from statistics? Anyway, something about how well points fit a line. If r or r2 = 1, there is a perfect fit of the data to a line. In plain english, r is equal to the cross product of the sum of difference of each data point from it mean for x and y values divided by the number of data point minus 1 times the product of the standard deviation of the x and y values. Of course the line equation is y = mx + b (m is slope of the line and b is the y intercept).

In Excel after you have created a line chart (really could be several other types but makes most sense with a line chart (remember linear regression...). In Excel 2007 select the chart and the Chart Tools Layout Tab, the Analysis Command Group has Trendline, More Trendline Options (at the bottom of the list). By default, what we want in this case anyway, is Linear. This will add the best fit linear trendline to the chart. But now, maybe the best part...At the bottom of the trendline options dialog box are the options to force a Y intercept value (many times 0) and show the line equation and r2 values on the chart..pretty cool. I just think of all of the calculations to do this...

Otherwise, not into stats...never mind...

Have fun in the meantime until nextime, Joel

Monday, June 14, 2010

Databases: Excel vs Access

This discussion comes up frequently about databases...

What software should I use to manage my data? In my opion, right up there with knowing about word processing (Word) and spreadsheets (Excel) I would want to understand database concepts and database software (Access).

Many people tell me Excel "does everything...", even database...yes, to some degree...Actually we could set up a "database" using a Word table and it could be used as a data source file for mail merge for example (but probably wouldn't).

Flatfile vs. Relational Database:

What most people don't realize is that it is not very efficient to store all of the information that you may be dealing with in a single table (flatfile). As Dr. Codd (developed relational databases in computers) would suggest, one would want to setup a relational database where one would have many related (linked) tables. This design cuts down on duplication and inconsistencey of information (as well as many other advantages such as referential integrity, had to throw that in).

Access is relation database software and allows one to design and develop a relational databases where Excel is basically a flatfile database. Access has several parts in the database file including Tables and Forms (for entering, editing, and viewing data), Queries (questions about the data in the database), Reports (compiling, viewing, printing data), and Macros and Modules (automation with Macro commands or VBA code contained in Modules). So it has features that go "way" beyond what Excel can do in term of managing a database.

So, if you are "serioius" about having a database, you might consider Access. BTW, Access can be easily interfaced with Excel to take advantage of any of the unique Excel features that could be applied to your Access data even though Access has it own analytical features such as Charts, Pivot Tables, Crosstab Queries, and many others.

PC Applications specializes in Access training and database design and development and can help you at any level of setting up your database(s) using Access.

So, not right or wrong but a matter of being efficient...how do you manage your data? Excel, Access, Index Cards?

Have fun in the meantime until next time...Joel

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Email Accounts, Hosting, Email Clients

Well Hello:

Sorry it has been some time since my last blog post...I did take some vacation. Anyway recently I was working with a client in regards to Email access/accounts/setup and several things came up that I thought might be of interest.

Email account: Where is it? Do you know where your account is?

You may have an Email account in association with your hosting service (how you get connected with the Internet, DialUp, DSL, cable, etc.). john@vail.net

You may have an email account associated with an Internet Site such as Hotmail (Microsoft), GMail (Google), Yahoo Mail (Yahoo), etc. john@hotmail.com

You may have an Email account associated with a web hosting service for your website (if you have one). john@website.com

You may have several of these setup as many people do!

In any case, your Email account will have a login and password established when you setup your account.

How do I get my Email?

If you have an Internet site account or web hosting based account, once you have Internet access, you go to the website where you Email account is setup, such as www.google.com or www.godaddy.com (web hosting site) and then to the Email part of the website and log onto your Email account. All of your Email managment is done on your hosting website.

If you have an account with a service provider, you can log onto the Internet and access your account at your service providers website (check with your service provider to see what the web address is), or you can access you Email though an Email "client" such as Outlook or Outlook Express. Outlook Express comes with Windows and Outlook is part of MS Office. To use Outlook Express or Outlook you need to setup an account in Outlook Express or Outlook to access your Email at you service provider. Your service provider usually has information about setting up Outlook Express or Outlook to access Email. Once setup, Email management is done using Outlook or Outlook Express on your computer as Emails are download from your Email site to your computer when you "check mail".

Many free web based email services do not let you access your account using Outlook Express or Outlook and you must access you account directly through the internet.

Of course PC Applications can help you with any of these issues about setting up and accessing your Email account through the internet or using Outlook or Outlook Express.

Happy Emailing.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Excel: Dates, Serial Date Value, and Leap Year

OK, now for something a little different. For you Excel users...

I was teaching an Excel Level 1 class at Keystone for Vail Resorts yesterday. As always in my Excel Level 1 class, I go over the concepts of how Excel deals with dates. So I thought this might be some good information for the blog and thus here it is.

As I explain in my Excel 1 class, if you type in a date in a cell of Excel such as 5/6/2010, you are really doing two things: assigning a value to the cell as well as a numerical format (Date). I continue to explain in the class that Excel uses what's called the 1900 calendar relationship which defines January 1, 1900 = 1.

Thus Excel really uses what is called the Date Serial Value or just Date Value in Date/Time calculations/functions. I also expain that Excel is aware of leap years...but then the plot thickened as just for grins I looked into this issue and low and behold here's the real story:

Pope Gregory XIII back in 1582 introduced a calendar to correct errors inherent in the prior Julian calendar.

The Gregorian calendar is based on a year of 365 days. But because the actual length of a year is 365.242190402 days, a "leap year" occurs every four years and consists of 366 days with February 29 being the extra day for the leap year. As you can see this is fine if the fraction were exactly .25 but it's .242190402. If you do the math (use Excel) you would discover that in a 400 year interval there should only be 97 extra days and not 100 as per above. To compensate for this error, the Gregorian calendar defines a "leap year" as: Any year that is evenly divisible by 4 but for years that are evenly divisible by 100, they must also be evenly divisible by 400 to be a "leap year" and consequently 3 of the 4 years in the 400 year peiod that would otherwise be a leap year aren't. Thus the years 1700, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300, 2500, 2600 are not "leap years". Did you know that 1900 was not a leap year even though it is evenly divisible by 4? So what does this have to do with Excel you ask?? Ever heard of Lotus 1-2-3, Lotus Corp.?

Well, Lotus Corp. (makers of Lotus 1-2-3) assumed the year 1900 to be a leap year when it created the Lotus 1-2-3 program (to make things easier in date calculations, which works for the most part). Lotus 1-2-3 was a spreadsheet program that was around before Micosoft had Excel. Lotus's Date calculations were based on the 1900 calendar but incorrectly had 1900 as a leap year. To be compatible with Lotus, Microsoft decided to use the same date value relationships as Lotus and thus the 1900 calendar was adopted in Excel. SO, Jan 1, 1900 = 1 but also has a February 29 with a Date Value of 60. There shouldn't be a 2/29/1900 but THERE IS!...3/1/1900 should be 60 but it's 61...Microsoft documents this situation and notes that there are "workarounds" if you deal with dates prior to 3/1/1900. There is no problem with any calculations involving dates after 3/1/1900.

Holy smoke screens batman! Think about it..

Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

And that's not's all, a "final" comment on shortcuts

What else might I know about shortcuts you ask...well "Page 4" as has been said before. Thanks Paul.

Have you ever noticed (particularly in Office applications version 2003 and earlier) there is an underlined letter in the Menu items eg File, Edit, etc.? Ever just wonder WHY?? Just because??

If you like using the keyboard, pressing the Alt key "activates" the keyboard menu commands, ie, the underlined letters. In other words, Alt>F (press Alt then press F) is the same as clicking "File" in the menu. Notice menus and submenus also have items with an underlined letter. Pressing the letter (if you have already pressed Alt) is like clicking on the item using your mouse. Thus in an earlier blog post I mentioned Ctrl+P (Ctrl and P keys pressed together), to print, could also be accomplished by Alt>F>P. Now you see that all Menu items have some keyboard shortcut!!

In Office 2007, pressing Alt causes a shortcut key to "highlight" over the Tabs, eg an H appears on the Home Tab after pressing Alt; pressing H causes the shortcut key or keys for the ribbon items to highlight eg an AR apprears on the align right button in Word 2007. Thus Alt>H>AR would align right a paragrah in Word 2007.

Thus, there are many options of getting things done without grabbing the mouse and having to click somewhere. It might behoove you to get to know a few of the keyboard shortcuts for things you tend to do repetitively! It's all about being efficient in gett'n er done! Do the best you can...

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Even more about keyboard shortcuts

So far in the first 2 blogs about keyboard shortcuts, I provided information about specific shortcuts such as cut, copy and paste. Now some generic information about shortcuts.

Have you ever noticed that in many dropdown list in a menu, to the right of the command such as Edit>Cut there is Ctrl+X in this case? Yep, that's the keyboard shortcut for that command. I was teaching a class yesterday and mentioned this to the 2 attendees and they both were surprised that they had "never seen that before".

If you tend to do the same thing over and over again like Edit>Find you may just remember Ctrl+F. You may also find the command you learn in one application is really more generic and works in many applications such as Ctrl+F for Find...

Happy Shortcutting

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Other useful shortcuts

So if you like cut, copy, and paste shortcuts, here are some others that can be used every day while working with MS Office applications:

Open - Ctrl + O
Save- Ctrl + S
Print- Ctrl + P
New - Ctrl + N

Give these a try!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Welcome to PC Applications Blog! I will post tid bits of information from time to time relating to working with Windows or MS Office applications. Having worked with Microsoft applications for over 20 years I have a few things to say. Otherwise check out our website www.pcappplications.com for all of our services. Well with out further adou...here's the first tip...

Sometimes learning keystrokes to get something done can be more efficient than grabbing your mouse and clicking or even right clicking to use the shortcut menu as it as called. My favorites are: cut (ctlr+x), copy (ctrl+c) and paste (ctrl+v). These can be used even if you do not have access to a menu or shortcut menu (like in a dialog box, eg). Give it a try!