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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
The paperless business card  
By J. Carlton Collins
February 2012

Q: I use Outlook 2010. What is the easiest way to send my updated address and telephone information to my contacts so they don’t have to manually re-enter the data into their contact management system?

 

A: Microsoft Outlook provides the ability to create a paperless business card, which you can send to others electronically. Upon receipt, the recipient can import your new information directly into his or her Outlook and to most other contact management systems. The steps for creating and sending your electronic business card in the vCard format are as follows:

 

1. Start by entering your contact information in Outlook. From the Home tab, select New Items, Contact (if the Outlook Mail view is open), or select New Contact (if the Outlook Contacts view is open). Enter your contact information in the various fields, such as Full Name, Company, Job title, E-mail, Web page address, Phone numbers and Addresses, as pictured below.

 

You can also include your picture by selecting Picture, Add Picture from the Contact tab, or add additional information on the Contact tab’s Details screen, including the contact’s birthday and the names of his or her manager, assistant and spouse. When you have finished entering your contact data, select Save & Close from the Contact tab.

 

2. To send your new electronic business card to others, click on the Contacts button on Outlook’s left rail, navigate to your name in your list of contacts, right-click on your contact name and select Forward Contact, As a Business Card, as shown.

 

This generates an email with your electronic business card attached. Insert the email addresses of your intended recipients, add a subject and message as you normally would, then send. Outlook creates the attached electronic business card using the industry standard vCard file format, which is compatible with most email systems.

 

Upon receiving an email with an attached vCard, recipients can update their Outlook 2010 or 2007 contact manager by right-clicking on the vCard in the Attached box and selecting Add to Contacts (as pictured below), or by double-clicking on the attached vCard to open the sender’s contact information in Outlook and clicking the Save & Close button.

 

 

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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Help for people with dating problems  
By J. Carlton Collins
February 2012

Q: I have a problem copying dates to a certain spreadsheet. After pasting a date from another Excel spreadsheet, the new spreadsheet changes the date to one day and four years later! However, if I enter a current-year date (such as 9/15) and hit enter, the date correctly defaults to the current year. It’s a large, complex spreadsheet, and I’ve attached a sample for you to look at. If you have a solution, I would greatly appreciate it!

 

A: Thank you for sending the workbook in question. After a quick review, I was able to determine that the problem is that your workbook is set up to use the 1904 date system. After disabling the 1904 date system, I found that your workbook handles pasted dates correctly. This problem usually arises because the workbook was created on an Apple computer system, which uses a different date system than Windows computer systems.

 

Apple uses the 1904 date system (which is based on the number of days that have occurred since Jan. 1, 1904), whereas Windows uses the 1900 date system (which is based on the number of days since Jan. 1, 1900).

 

Most likely, when your Apple-based Excel file was opened in Windows, it carried forward the 1904 date setting for that workbook, making it four years and one leap day off.

 

Following are steps for disabling the 1904 date system:

 

Excel 2010 and 2007. From the File tab (or Office Start button), select Options (or Excel Options), Advanced, then under the When calculating this workbook section, uncheck the box next to Use 1904 date system, and click OK.

 

Excel 2003. From the Tools menu, select Options, then on the Calculation tab, uncheck the box next to 1904 date system, and click OK.

 

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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Ready, set, action!  
By J. Carlton Collins
February 2012

Q: We would like to produce and publish on our website a simple, three-minute movie clip featuring two people talking about the merits of our financial services. I don’t want to spend a lot of money or take a lot of time, but I am finding this task to be a far bigger production than I expected. Can you suggest some inexpensive and easy-to-use tools that might help us accomplish this goal quickly?

 

A: You might want to consider tossing out the amateur actors and handheld camcorder and instead produce an animated movie clip using cartoon characters. Once you have prepared your written dialogue, the website Xtranormal.com (free, registration required) enables you to produce and publish a movie based on your dialogue. Here’s how it works:

 

1. On the Xtranormal.com website, click the Make Movies menu option, then choose the type of characters you want to appear in your movie, and select the 2 Actors option. A few examples of available character types are pictured below.

 

2. Select the background setting you prefer, the specific characters you want and voices for each character. If desired, you can also insert background noises, such as the noise of a city street (see screenshot below).

 

3. Add dialogue to your video by copying and pasting the dialogue into separate story bubbles. Use the Xtranormal icons to animate your characters and control the camera angles. For example, you might direct one character to scratch her chin, while the other character signals “air quotations” using his fingers. You might also add additional sounds, control facial expressions and make pointing gestures. To use these icon tools, drag and drop the desired gesture icons into the dialogue text where you want the gesture, sound or motion to occur.

 

4. Preview your video and, when you are satisfied with the results, click the Publish button to render the final movie clip. Xtranormal then produces your movie and provides you with a URL and embed code so you can publish the movie seamlessly on your website.

 

The Xtranormal Make Movie tools are easy to learn, and once I prepared my dialogue, I was able to produce a three-minute movie in less than a half-hour. Given your situation, you may find this to be an effective and practical solution. To view sample Xtranormal movies, visit Xtranormal.com and select the Watch Movies menu option.

 

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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Keep those names flowing  
By J. Carlton Collins
February 2012

Q: We have 170 hourly employees and, as part of my job, I prepare job assignment reports in Microsoft Word that contain several lists, sorted by name. As you can see in the attached example report, I use a three-column table in Word to list these names. The problem arises when I make small changes to these lists, such as deleting a name in column one. This forces me to readjust each subsequent column using the cut and paste commands multiple times. There has to be an easier way to do this, and I’ll bet you are going to suggest an Excel solution, but I don’t know how to use Excel. Is there an easier way to accomplish this in Word?

 

A: Your best solution might be to use Word’s Column tool to display multiple columns. The key to using the Column tool is to insert continuous section breaks before and after the columns to prevent the remainder of the Word document from also displaying multiple columns.

 

To use this feature, insert a section break where you want the columns to start, as follows: From the Page Layout tab, select Breaks, Continuous (under Section Breaks). Next, from the Page Layout tab, select Columns, Three. Thereafter, your three-column list of names flows seamlessly from one column to the next.

 

This allows you to insert or delete names anywhere in the list, and the columns adjust accordingly. Once you have completed this process, insert another section break at the end of your last column, then set the formatting back to a single column to prevent any text or data below from displaying a multiple column format, as follows: Position your cursor after the last column entry, then from the Page Layout tab, select Breaks, Continuous (under Section Breaks). With your cursor positioned after the second section break, from the Page Layout tab, select Columns, One. The results appear as follows:

 

 

Note: If necessary, you also can sort your Word list as follows: Highlight the list and, from the Home tab, click the Sort icon from the Paragraph group. You also can force a column break at any point in your list by positioning your cursor where you want the column break to occur and then, from the Page Layout tab, selecting Breaks, Column.

 

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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
PivotTable growing pains  
By J. Carlton Collins
February 2012

Q: I have created several dozen PivotTable reports in Excel to meet our reporting needs. However, as new rows of data are added to the source data, I must constantly redefine the source data range for all PivotTables, which is very time-consuming. Is there a way to make my PivotTables automatically recognize new data rows and columns as they are added?

 

A: Excel 2010 and 2007 provide a new feature that enables you to convert your source data to a Table. Thereafter, the data range referred to by your PivotTables automatically expands as additional columns or rows are added to your source data.

 

To use the Table feature, make sure that there are no blank rows or columns in the source data, and select a single cell within your source data. Next, from the Insert tab, select Table, and click OK. Create your PivotTable from the source data (or if you have already created your PivotTable, redefine your PivotTable source data ranges), and thereafter, your PivotTables automatically refer to the correct source data range, even if the source data shrinks or grows. In addition to creating a table that grows dynamically as new data are added, the Table tool also adds a table name, banded row formatting, dropdown filter buttons, table styles and row totaling. Examples of data before and after table formatting are shown below.

 

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