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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
I read you loud and clear  
By J. Carlton Collins
April 2012

Q: Because of the smaller screen size of my laptop, I find it difficult to read news and articles on the Web. Is there a way to make Web content easier to read?

 

A: I know exactly what you are talking about. I do most of my reading on a computer screen, and my eyes aren’t getting any younger. Here are three possible solutions.

 

1. Zoom your Web page. As mentioned in the August 2011 Technology Q&A item “Internet Explorer (8.0 and Higher) Shortcuts” (page 64), rolling the mouse’s scroll wheel while holding down the Ctrl key will enable you to enlarge (or shrink) the font size. (In addition, you can click on the magnifying glass in the bottom-right corner to change the size, or from the Internet Explorer menu on the top right, select Page, Zoom, and make the appropriate size selection.) This action also works in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers.

 

2. Copy and paste to Word. Another solution is to copy and paste Web page text to Microsoft Word, making sure to copy only the article content and not the extra advertisements and Web page clutter. A good technique for accomplishing this task is as follows: Use your mouse to select the first letter or word at the beginning of the article, scroll to the bottom of the article (using the scroll bar if necessary), then click the end of the article while holding down the Shift key. This will select all of the article content. Next, press Ctrl+C to copy the article, switch to Word and press Ctrl+V to paste the article content into Word. As an alternative, you may choose to paste the article as text (so the pasted content displays results using the Word document’s default font and point size) by selecting Alt+Ctrl+V, and selecting Unformatted Text, and clicking OK. Once the article text appears in Word, you can then zoom the text or increase the font size to achieve a more readable article.

 

3. Windows Magnifier. Another possible solution is to use the Windows Magnifier, which works like a magnifying glass to enlarge a portion of your screen as you move your mouse. To launch Magnifier, click the Windows 7 or Vista Start button and select All Programs, Accessories, Ease of Access, Magnifier. Press Ctrl+Alt+L to toggle to the lens view, and click the plus (+) or minus ( - ) options on the Magnifier control box to adjust the amount of magnification to the desired setting. Thereafter, Magnifier will follow your mouse movement and provide an enlargement window to help make portions of your screen easier to read.

 

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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Elbows on the table, please  
By J. Carlton Collins
April 2012

Q: How do you enter two labels into a single Excel cell, separated by a diagonal line? I’ve seen this done, and I want to add this to my table, but I can’t figure out how.

A: The solution you are referring to is called an elbow, and you can create one in Excel as follows:

1. Right-click on a cell and select Format Cells.

2. Select the Border tab.

3. Click the diagonal border tool as circled below, and click OK.

4. Type your first label (Month, for example) and press the Alt+Enter keys, then type your second label (Department, for example) and hit Enter. Your results should now appear as shown in cell A4 below to the left.

5. To complete the process, edit the text and insert spaces in front of the first text label (in this case “Month”) to position that label on the right side of the cell as shown in cell A4 above to the right.

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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Is it time to ditch your thumb drive?  
By J. Carlton Collins
April 2012

Q: Our firm wants to provide everyone in our office with new and larger USB thumb drives to be used for transporting and sharing data files. Is this a good idea, and, if so, what size and type should we get?

A: The emergence of cloud-based data storage such as the free Windows Sky Drive (“Technology Q&A: A Sky-High Solution,” JofA, Oct. 2011, page 78) is fast making USB thumb drives obsolete. With a cloud-based solution, your data can be shared securely with anyone on virtually any computer, tablet or smartphone.

If you are still determined to implement a portable solution, I recommend that you consider using Secure Digital (SD) cards instead of thumb drives because SD Cards are easier to keep up with. I’ve purchased at least 30 USB thumb drives in the past 10 years, but I currently can account for only six of them. Where did the others go? I have children in high school and college—that might explain where some of them went. In all probability, however, several of them have been lost, misplaced or, perhaps, stolen. Because a USB thumb drive must be unplugged before transporting a laptop computer, it can be harder to keep track of.

In contrast, an SD card fits securely in your laptop (or desktop) computer’s SD card slot and can remain there when transporting your laptop. Other benefits of SD cards are that they typically cost a little less than thumb drives, and they can be used in most digital cameras, cellphones and smartphones. In addition, many SD cards have a sliding tab that locks the SD card, allowing the files on the SD card to be read, but not erased. I would recommend 8 gigabyte to 16 GB SD cards at a minimum, and a quick price check (at pricegrabber.com) shows 8 GB and 16 GB SD cards available starting at $6.17 and $11.49, respectively.

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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Transposition errors in Excel  
By J. Carlton Collins
April 2012

Q: Is there an easy way to copy formulas that are arranged horizontally across an Excel worksheet and paste them vertically down the page? When I try this using Excel’s Paste-Transpose command, the cell references change and no longer reference the correct cells.

 

A: I can think of three ways to accomplish your task, as follows:

 

1. Copy using absolute references. Edit each formula to be copied by inserting a dollar sign in front of each row and column reference. This action creates absolute cell references, which prevent the formulas from changing when they are copied and pasted. Next, copy the row of edited formulas and paste the formulas to the desired location by selecting Paste, Paste Special from the Hometab, then check the box next to Transpose, and click OK.

 

2. Replace equal signs. A slightly faster way to copy-transpose formulas is to highlight the formulas to be copied and replace the equal sign (=) with a number sign (#) as follows. From the Home tab, select Find & Select, Replace, enter an equal sign (=) in the Find what box and enter a number sign (#) in the Replace with box. Make sure that the Within box is set to Sheet, and click the Replace All button. This action temporarily converts the formulas to text so they can be copied and pasted without changing the cell references. Next copy the row of formulas and paste-transpose the formulas to the desired location from the Home tab by selecting Paste, Paste Special, then check the box labeled Transpose, and click OK. To complete the process, highlight the pasted formulas and replace the number signs (#) with equal signs (=) by selecting Find & Select, Replace from the Home tab, enter a number sign (#) in the Find what box, enter an equal sign (=) in the Replace with box, then click the Replace All button.

 

3. Using the OFFSET method. My preferred option for solving this problem involves using the more advanced OFFSET function, as follows: In the cell where you want your vertical formulas to start, write a formula using the OFFSET function as pictured below.

 

In the OFFSET formula =OFFSET($A$1,3,ROW(B1)), the first criteria ($A$1) references the top-left corner of the data range; the second criteria references the number of rows down from the top row where the data to be copied resides; and the third criteria references the number of columns across from the first column where the data to be copied resides.

 

To complete the process, copy the newly created formula down the appropriate number of rows. As the formula is copied downward, it references cells across the page. (Note that inserting the phrase ROW(B1) as the third criteria instead of the number “1” allows the formula to be copied down vertically while referencing horizontal data across the worksheet.)

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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Secure your laptop  
By J. Carlton Collins
April 2012

Q: I use a Windows password to protect my laptop computer (which runs Windows 7 Professional), but my colleague has advised me to set up a BIOS password, too. Is a BIOS password warranted?

 

A: The use of BIOS and Windows passwords will prevent others from turning on your computer or booting up your Windows operating system, which does result in added protection. However, these passwords are not enough to adequately protect the data on your laptop in the event that it is lost or stolen. The data files on your laptop’s hard drive would remain vulnerable because a thief or hacker could remove the hard drive and install it in another computer as a secondary drive to access your data. The thief also could boot up your computer using an external USB drive containing Knoppix—an operating system specifically designed to boot from a CD or USB drive. Thereafter, your primary hard drive would become the secondary drive, and your data could be accessed, stolen or compromised.

 

For proper security, you need to encrypt the data on your laptop’s hard drive. There are numerous methods for accomplishing this goal, many of which are described in the article “Protect Your Portable Data—Always and Everywhere” (JofA, June 2009, page 30). In your case, I would recommend that you employ the Encrypting File System (EFS) because it is included in your Windows 7 Professional operating system. (EFS also is included in the professional editions of Windows Vista and XP.) Step-by-step instructions and additional comments regarding EFS are provided below.

 

To enable EFS, right-click on the data folder you want to protect and select Properties, Advanced, then check the box next to Encrypt contents to secure data, and click OK. (Repeat this step for each data folder you want to secure).

 

Once EFS has been applied, the folder name and all file names contained in the folder will display in green text, indicating that the folder and files automatically are encrypted when you log out of Windows. Likewise, when you log in to Windows, the data files are instantly decrypted. The result is that a thief or hacker no longer will be able to access your data once you have logged out of Windows or turned off your computer.

 

Note that EFS works only on hard drives formatted in Windows NTFS (New Technology File System). Because most USB drives and SD cards are formatted using FAT32 (file allocation table), those drives must be reformatted using NTFS before EFS can be applied.

 

To reformat these external drives, click the Windows Start button and select Computer. Right-click on the external drive and select Format. From the File system dropdown box, select the NTFS option and click the Start button, as shown below. (Warning: The formatting process will erase all data on the USB or SD drive.)

 

Beginning with the Windows XP operating system, it is possible to share encrypted files with other users across a network, but this sharing process can be fairly involved depending on your operating systems, network configuration and security. Although your specific procedures will vary widely based on many factors, the process of sharing encrypted files across a network essentially is as follows:

 

1. Each user must create and export a public key certificate, and those certificates must then be imported and added to the encrypted files. Certificates can be managed and exported in the Windows Certificate Manager, which is accessible by typing certmgr.msc in the Windows Start, Search programs and file box.

 

2. Once a certificate has been exported from the remote user’s computer, launch the Certificate Manager on the computer containing the encrypted files, and import the certificate.

 

3. To complete the process of enabling the remote user to access an encrypted file across the network, right-click the encrypted file and select Properties, Advanced, Details, and click the Add button, then select the newly imported certificate and click OK three times.

 

Keep in mind that remote network users should also be set up as users on the host computer and that proper share and security permissions should be granted to those remote users. As a safety precaution, you should make a backup copy of the encrypting key just in case the key file on your computer becomes corrupt. A Microsoft article summarizing the best practices related to using EFS is available at support.microsoft.com/kb/223316.

 

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