Thursday, 5 December 2013

Windows 7 "audio service is not running" - solved

If you get no sound, and there's a white cross on red background against the speaker icon in your Windows 7 system tray (bottom right hand side), with the message "The Audio Service is not running" when you hover your mouse over the speaker icon, there is often a simple solution to this problem.audioWin7

Restarting the audio service usually works to fix the lack of audio sounds in Win 7 (follow this link for instructions on how), just like it usually does in Vista.

A simpler solution may be to just move your volume slider (click the speaker icon then move the slider).

Monday, 23 September 2013

PDF - highlight text with keyboard

This post shows how to highlight selected text in Adobe Acrobat using just the keyboard, after you select text with the keyboard.

In Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional and other versions of Acrobat, you can highlight text using the Highlight Text tool by selecting the tool, then dragging the cursor over the desired text using the mouse.

Not good enough for me. I don't want to highlight text with the mouse, I want to select text with the keyboard, then use a keyboard shortcut or hotkey to highlight the selected text.

I tried selecting text first with the keyboard (using the Select Tool and the usual Shift keyboard shortcuts), then clicking on the Highlight Text tool, but that didn't work to highlight the selected text.

The secret workaround? After selecting text with the keyboard (by holding down the Shift key then using the arrow keys, End, Home, PageUp, PageDown etc to navigate in the usual way):

  • rightclick the selected text or
  • use the Windows key for the rightclick context menu (usually to the immediate left of the right Ctrl key on the keyboard), or
  • press Shift+F10 (ie while holding down the Shift key press and release the F10 key)

This brings up a context menu which, aha, allows you to  highlight the pre-selected text with the h key. In other words, to highlight text using only the keyboard in a PDF: select text with the keyboard, press the context menu key or Shift+F10, then press h, and voila!

Unfortunately sometimes (not always) the Select tool that lets you select text with the keyboard may vanish or turn into the Hand tool. To get the Select tool back again using the keyboard, try pressing the Esc key, or either press e (quickest, but sometimes inserts the letter e instead!) or press the context menu key or Shift+10 again and then press e. As usual, Ctrl+z is the "undo" hotkey combo, and tapping the Esc key after pressing the e helps if you find it's adding text rather then selecting them or moving the cursor when you try to use the keyboard.

This tip might seem obvious to some but it escaped me for ages, so I thought it was worth blogging this.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Powerpoint 2010 too slow to update slides? Fix

Here's how to fix very slow display of text and pics on Powerpoint 2010 / 2007 slides on the screen, whenever you change or even edit slides? A big annoyance - it affects productivity, as sometimes Powerpoint becomes unresponsive and won't refresh, redraw or update the screen at all unless you change slides away and back (only a workaround, and slows things down).

Below is a step by step 'howto' solution to solve this problem of the slow graphics rendering in Powerpoint (others have solved it by changing to the Windows 7 Basic theme, this suggestion has the same effect, on my system at least, and changes the theme for you when you use the shortcut icon concerned to launch Powerpoint):

  1. Rightclick the shortcut icon that you use to start Powerpoint
  2. Choose "Properties" from the menu
  3. Now click the "Compatibility" tab (outlined in red below)

  4. Make sure "Disable desktop composition" is ticked as shown (also outlined in red, above).
  5. Then click "OK".

That's it. Worked for me on a Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit desktop, Powerpoint is a zillion times faster now. I hope it works for you too.

Thanks qwerty15!

Background - after a recent Windows update I started getting this problem of Powerpoint is displaying slides too slowly (and it seems a common problem) when moving between or editing slides.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Stop spam event invites displaying in Google Calendar

Have you had events appear in your Google Calendar from people that you don't know? Anything from fraudulent requests for money to other stuff like pron. They appear without your accepting the invite, taking up space in your calendar, and you can't delete them without hitting "Decline". A real annoyance.

I recently helped a friend troubleshoot to prevent such spam event invitations showing up in her Google Calendar.

Others have already produced howtos, so I'm posting links to some pages providing the solution to stopping spam invites from appearing in your Google Calendar - the main fix being to set "Automatically add invitations to my calendar" to "No":

  • with screenshot - the best one, as it has a screenshot that also mentions disabling "Show events you have declined" (ie set that to "No"), which may help
  • similar advice

This way you'll still get emails of invitations, which you can choose to accept or decline (or 'maybe'), but the events won't automatically get added to your diary even before you'd chosen to take any of those actions.

But I'd add one more comment. Some people have suggested hitting "Decline" on the invites in question, to stop them from displaying in your Google Calendar, ie get rid of the spam events completely from your calendar.

My reservation about that is that it may send an email back to the spammer, so that they know that your Gmail address is active, and can keep on sending you spam calendar invitations or spam email!

When I set "Automatically add invitations…" to "No" for my friend, doing that immediately stopped the spam event from showing in her Google Calendar. And it didn't send the spammer anything to prompt them to keep pushing spam calendar invites to her!

So I'd recommend trying to disable "Automatically add.." first, before you start hitting "Decline" or "Reject" or the like on the spam event. And only if it doesn't work, consider doing that.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Stop Word from reducing all windows!

Too many times, when I want to close the current window in Word, I accidentally hit Alt-F5 (instead of Alt-F4) which means it then 'restores', ie reduces the size of all my open Word documents. Every single one of them. I then have to maximise them one by one, individually going to each window first. This is a big annoyance as there is no single command to 'Maximize all windows' in Word, as far as I can find. What a pain.

My solution or workaround, short of finding a way to maximise all Word document windows together at once in one go, is this fix: simply disable the Alt F5 hotkey! Then it does nothing if you hit that combo inadvertently, instead of reducing all your Word windows to tiny unusable ones.

Here's how to disable that hotkey.

  1. In Word, rightclick an empty spot in the toolbar and choose "Customize the Ribbon".
  2. Towards the bottom against "Keyboard shortcuts", click the "Customize" button (outlined in red below):image
  3. Now on the left under Categories, scroll down to highlight "All commands":image
  4. Then click in "Commands" at the top right, and scroll down to find and highlight "App Restore".
  5. Under "Current keys" (outlined in red above) it should now show "Alt+F5".
  6. Click on the line that says "Alt+F5", then click the button (also outlined in red, above) saying "Remove".
  7. Then click the "Close" button.
  8. Then "OK".
  9. That should be it, you should be rid of this nuisance!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Help make 080 calls free from mobile phones!

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom intends to make calls to 080 and 116 numbers free from all telephones, fixed and mobile, with
03 to be the only non-geographic number range linked to the price of a call to a geographic number (ie an 01/02 number).

But this is only its intention at the moment, it may change its mind. So if you want calls to 080 numbers to be free from your mobile phone, you've got until 28 May to respond to Ofcom's consultation to tell Ofcom that you agree, yes please!

It's been a big bugbear of mine for years, that calling supposedly freefone 0800 phone numbers in the UK is not free on most mobile networks - ie it doesn't come out of your allowance of minutes if you're on a monthly plan, instead you actually get charged extra by the phone company for making 'free' calls from your smartphone or other mobile phone.

Hence the rise and popularity of services like SayNoto0870 and apps like my pal Simon Maddox's 0870 app.

I hope lots of people will respond to Ofcom so that they change the current consumer-unfriendly situation. Please pass it on!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Error 0x80070052 The directory or file cannot be created - can't delete files - solution

Can't delete folders or files? I kept getting error code 0x80070052 in Windows when trying to delete files, and they just wouldn't delete. Bit of a problem.

However I found that I could permanently delete files (hold down Shift when selecting Delete or pressing the Del key). Ie bypassing the Recycle Bin.

I kicked myself when I realised the answer was simple. Just empty the recycle bin first! (Just rightclick it and choose Empty, for those unfamiliar with the process. It make take a while.) Then you can delete documents, pictures and other files again.image

Nothing to do with file or folder rights or permissions, just as well as I couldn't take ownership of files where I was already the owner!

I just wish the error code was "Recycle Bin too full, please empty it!". That would have been rather more helpful.

Hope my posting this tip saves others some searching.

(If you get error 0x80070052 with USB flash drives apparently the solution there is to move files at the root into an existing folder, or new folder if you can create it.)

Monday, 18 March 2013

Funny sign - Arts & Graft!

Seen in Soho, London recently (and I'm sure it was a lot of work to make those products too!):


Monday, 18 February 2013

Get rid of Word pop up on selecting text

After you select text in Word 2007 or Word 2010, a rectangle pops up with options for font type, font size, bold etc etc:


This is meant to provide helpful "quick access to formatting tools". In reality, it's always getting in the way of editing, for me and many others.This annoyance that pops up on selecting text drove a friend crazy for years, as she didn't realise that you can turn it off! But if you don't know what that box of formatting menu options is called, you can hardly search for help on the internet to figure out how to disable it…

Well, it's called the 'mini toolbar'. And you can stop it from popping up all the time like a maddening 'son of Clippy'. Here's how.

Word 2010

Go to menu File > Options.

In the General section, under "User Interface Options", UNtick "Show Mini Toolbar on selection".


Then click OK, and that's it!

Word 2007

Go to Word Options (which you get to via the Office symbol top left).

In the Popular section, under "Top options for working with Word", UNtick "Show Mini Toolbar on selection" and click OK. And that's it!


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Nominative determinism - the animal edition!

A web article on Vulpes vulpes (the red fox), was written by…
David L Fox.

And an article on how to identify small mammals from their footprints was written by…
H Ratz.

Contributed by an ecologist friend, who shall remain nameless - any other suggestions welcome!