Tip o’ the Week #152 – Zoom, Zoom!

clip_image002If you ever see someone make a presentation or give a demonstration, who says “you can’t see this, but…” or “this is an eye test, but…” then you have to ask, well why are you showing it (or trying to)? Better still, throw things at them and make a jolly good scene.

If you’re presenting, don’t use small fonts and don’t put diagrams on screen that people sitting more than 6 feet away won’t be able to decipher – unless you make the point that you’re only including the slide for future reference when you give the audience the slides: and move on quickly. Oh, and think about your screen resolution too: 1600×900 might look fine on your desktop monitor but it’s not so good when the audience is far away.

When you do demos, take a tip from one of the gods of the big-stage presentation world, who regularly shows very in-depth technology (code, registry, lots of programs with very small fonts and densely packed hexadecimal numbers, etc) that would normally have people bored rigid.

Mark Russinovich (a very technical fellow) regularly presents at TechEd type events in front of thousands of cheering fans, who queue to get to the front of his sessions. And for a the best part of a decade, Mark has been showcasing one of his own tools during his demos – originally, without even saying what he was doing. He got so many people asking him what was that tool that made it so easy to see the tiny tiny text on screen, that he released it and now often mentions it whilst he’s presenting.


Thanks to David Weeks for highlighting this tool; it’s free, it’s small (and you can “run” it from the website so you might be able to fire it up on any PC you’re using for presentation). Check it out here. The ZoomIt tool allows you to – using shortcut keys – zoom in to wherever the mouse is, to draw/mark on-screen and numerous other capabilities. Mark uses it to great effect – he’s often one of the top-rated speakers at TechEd, even if he’s in-depth and his style is quite, er, dry. Check out Zoomit, especially with the ability to freeze whatever’s happening, zoom in on it, and be able to annotate what’s seen on the screen.

clip_image003WindowsKey +

Another option is to use the built-in magnify capability in Windows – just press WindowsKey and the plus key. This will fire-up the magnifier utility, and works well with Modern Windows 8 apps too: there’s even a special mode for touch-enabled machines to make it easy to zoom in and out.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, ToW Readers. Normal service will be resumed in January…

Tip o’ the Week #151 – dates, leaks, sides

clip_image001First, an update on last week’s ToW. Both Daryl Gywn & Will Thompson pointed out a quicker way of displaying the date & time (past intern-ship in the STU must have developed a keen sense of observation that other roles don’t develop) – simply display the Charms by…

  • swiping from the right if you’re a touchy sort,
  • by throwing your mouse into the bottom right corner then moving it up if you’re more 2-dimensional,
  • pressing WindowsKey+C if you’re such a productivity demon that you can’t even suffer the time to take your hands away from the keyboard. Press the same again to get rid of the Charms so you can get back to cranking out whatever you were doing before you needed to check the time (eg the email 1 minute after the deadline for sending that email).

Now that you’ve tried out each of these, or at least settled on your favourite, you’ll spot that when you display the Charms (regardless of which app you’re in, even if looking at the classic Desktop), you’ll see the day, date & time is displayed in the lower left of the screen, in nice big friendly letters and numbers. Easy!

Another erratum, of sorts – if you installed “The Time” application from last week’s tip, you would be well advised to check for and install any updates, since one or two have been issued for the app (via the Store – see ToW #149 regarding app updates). It turns out the app was originally doing something entirely legitimate (at least the developer says so, and the customer is always right after all) but which was causing the “Runtime Broker” application to leak memory like one of those round things with all the holes in it. If you’re seeing error messages from Windows 8 saying it’s running out of virtual memory, then you’re very likely to be getting hit with this issue/side effect. The Time app is presumably doing its otherwise legitimate things differently now, as it’s all fixed.

clip_image002To check on the status of memory leaks etc, simply fire up Task Manager (press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC, or else you can do all manner of faffing about with the mouse or 3-fingered salute keys if you must), and click on the Memory column to sort. Don’t be alarmed to see Outlook take the lion’s share of your machine’s resource – it does that. You may find other Office apps and Internet Explorer are shortly behind – worry not, they’re just being efficient by using the memory the system has so they can work better. Honest.

Anyway, if Runtime Broker is running at, oh, about 300 times as much as you might see above, then you have a leak. The cure? You could right-click on it and End Task, or you could do the more considered thing and just reboot. After first making sure you have the latest versions of your Windows Store apps installed… Thanks to Louis Lazarus for pointing out the leak.

This week’s tip, if you’re still reading

Assuming you’ve fought through the prologue, this week’s tip comes from a question posed by the Dynamic Phil Newman: when using multiple monitors, Phil wants to be able to have a spreadsheet open on each, so he can copy/massage/paste the data from one to the other – and he found that Excel insisted on opening multiple workbooks up in the same window.

Now it’s possible to tweak the system to change what happens when you just double-click on a file – open it in the same instance of the application if it’s already running, or fire up a new instance just for your file… but it’s a palaver and one default is only as good as the other. Sometime you want different workbooks to be in the same instance of Excel (historically, you could only move sheets between open workbooks if they were opened within the same instance, but that’s no longer the case).

clip_image003There are pros and cons to both approaches of “open in a new instance” / “open in the current one”, but the pros in former case would mean you can park different windows in different places, either on your one screen or across your array of screens should you have them.

There’s a quick way of firing up a separate window, though – if you already have Excel running or if you’ve pinned Excel to your task bar in Windows 8, just right-click on the icon and instead of clicking on the sheet you want to open from the most-recently-used list, just click on Excel 2013 (or maybe if you’re still rooted in the past, on Excel 2010 or earlier). This launches a new window of Excel, in which you can open your favourite sheet and run it alongside whatever else you’re working on.

clip_image005You can, of course, have multiple sheets opened within the same instance of Excel, appear side/side – by using the View -> Arrange All or View Side by Side to show them tiles next to one another, where you can even enable scrolling of the documents at the same time (so as you’re moving down or across through one, the other keeps pace).

As an advert for old Tips o’ the Week, this was also covered a couple of years ago … here.

Tip o’ the Week #150 – It’s a date!

clip_image001Some tweaks and tips are basically not all that exciting unless you find they solve a problem you’ve had to deal with directly, maybe on a number of occasions, at which point they’ll transform to being a miraculous time saver that you’ll continue using for years to come. One such example, is the Copy As Path trick in Windows Explorer.

Date and time functionality in applications is a particularly humdrum area to go looking for life-changing solutions, but it’s one that we all deal with a lot, perhaps subconsciously. We’ve covered date stuff before in Tip o’ the Week – #104, #102 and others.

Windows 8 – where’s the clock?

One of the strangest things to get used to in the Windows 8 world, is there’s no clock visible for most of the time – whether you’re used to the Date/Time display from the System Tray or if you’re still missing the Vista-era clock desktop gadget, the simple fact is that when you look at the start menu, and when you’re in the vast majority of full-screen Modern UI applications, there’s nothing telling you the time. Is it a bit much to have to switch to the old fashioned Desktop (press WindowsKey+D), just to see what the time is?

clip_image002Fortunately, there are Apps which can solve this annoyance. There’s a free one that’s just a simple live tile showing The Time, or if you’re a jet set type who needs to know the time in different parts of the world, what about a World Time app that scrolls between all the places you list?


Some date shortcuts

Did you know that if you’re using OneNote, and you press ALT+SHIFT+”D”, it will insert the date in whatever you’re editing – handy if you collect notes about a particular subject all in one page, but you want to annotate when you did something or spoke to someone. If you’re particularly time critical, press ALT+SHIFT+”T” and it’ll insert the current time too. The same tricks work in Word, and when you’re writing an email in Outlook, too.

If you live your life in Excel, then CTRL+”;” inserts the date and CTRL+”:” pastes the time – again, useful if you’ve got columns in your sheet about when you last called that contacts etc. Of course, you should be using CRM, not a spreadsheet; tsk tsk.

Outlook and its dates

Way back in the mists of time, 130 weeks ago if the numbering of ToW was consistent (which it’s not, quite), there was a tip about Outlook dates, but I bet most of you weren’t reading then, and if you were, well, you’ve probably forgotten.

clip_image003In a nutshell, ever since Outlook 97 was released, it’s had some smarts built into every date field  that you can edit without using a date picker – you know, date fields on appointments, Tasks, reminders etc. Instead of just picking the date from a calendar, you could enter it “9-11-12 or 9/11/2012 or 9 Nov, would all resolve to the right date (well they would if you have your system date formats set to the UK one…)

You can also enter real expressions, like tomorrow, 3 weeks, this Sunday, next Friday, Christmas Eve. Not dates that change – like Easter Sunday, or Thanksgiving day, though there are some static “holiday” dates such as Lincoln’s Birthday, Halloween, New Year’s Day etc. Have a go, it’s really rather useful