Need to share large files with a large number of folks? Drop Box is for you!

December 2nd, 2009

Drop box is a free* web service where you can back up files, share files with others, and as long as you have an internet connection, save files to this location.

And it is simple simon to use.

And you can download the software to multiple computers and log in with the account you created.

How much easier can it get?

To get started, first visit Drop Box’s website to download the software:

1.  Download the software by following the links. Drop Box works on Windows, Macs, and Linux systems.

2.  Create an account – give yourself a password.  When you log in for now on, you will use the email you provided as a user name and the password you just created.

3.  And that is about it.  For Windows users, a drop box icon will appear on your desktop; for Mac users, you will be asked where you would like your drop box icon to live.

So how do you share files with others?

1.  Double-click on the private folder.

2.  Right click on the file you would like to share.

3.  Choose Drop Box.

4.  Click “Copy Public Link.”

You’ve now just created a hyperlink to the file (even though you can’t see the link until you paste it somewhere).  Within an email message or another document, right-click and choose paste – you have just pasted a direct link to that file (try it here:

This works very similar to our current Nefiles sytem, except you have the opportunity to share files with folks who do not have Richmond accounts – maybe you are in a dual-degree program and want to share files with colleagues at VCU;  perhaps you’re working with Professors across law schools.  This is a quick and easy way to share files.

If you’re working on multiple computers, this is also an easy way to work on files across platforms.

And lets not forget about a nice place just to back up your My Documents folder!

*Drop Box provides 2GB of space for free – you can have a lot more; it will just cost you a bit.

Shortcuts for Excel

November 19th, 2009

I recently read an article on fun and useful shortcuts in Excel – enjoy!

CTRL €” Shift & Outline border to the selected cells.

CTRL Shift # €” Change Date format with day, month and year.

CTRL Shift @ €” Change Time format with hour and minute, AM or PM.

CTRL Shift : – For the current time.

CTRL ; €” For current date.

CTRL 9 €” Hide selected rows.

CTRL 0 €” Hide selected columns.

CTRL ` €” Display Formulas/Alternate in the worksheet.

CTRL+K €” To insert Hyperlink.

CTRL+H €” Opens up the Find and Replace dialog box.

CTRL+R €” Uses the Fill Right command to copy the contents and format of the leftmost cell of a selected range into the cells to the right.

CTRL+7 €” Hides or displays the standard toolbar.

ALT+F1 €” This creates a chart out of the data in the current range (selected cells). This is the most well-known feature of Excel, and now you know a new way to use it!

ALT+SHIFT+F1 €” Inserts a new worksheet into a workbook.

F6 €” Switches between the worksheet, Ribbon, task pane, and Zoom controls. This is probably the most useful shortcut of all. This cool shortcut is also the most beloved to all the anti-mouse users out there.

SHIFT+F6 – The reverse of the F6 shortcut.

CTRL+F6 – Switches to the next workbook window when multiple workbook windows are open.

CTRL+SHIFT+$ – Applies the currency format to the selected cells.

CTRL+`– Alternates between showing the value of a cell and the formula in the worksheet. Great for complex worksheets.

CTRL+D – Fill down command on the selected cells. Fill down copies the content and format of the topmost cell into the cells below.

CTRL+R – Fill right command on the selected cells. Fill right copies the content and format of the leftmost cell to the cells to the right.

Converting a PDF to a Word File

October 19th, 2009

We’ve all been put in the situation of needing a PDF to be a Word file.  There is a free internet service – – that will let you convert MOST files from PDF to Word.

  1. Log into the website.  Click the “browse” button to browse to the PDF file you would like to convert.
  2. Choose either to convert the file to a .doc (Word) file or .rtf file.
  3. Type in your email address.  Click “Convert.”

You will get an email from PDF to Word with the converted file.  Open the attachment in Word.

What else do I need to know?

  1. There is a limit on the size of the file that this free service will convert (8MB).
  2. Sometimes the service is unable to perform the function.  If the original document was scanned sideways, if the PDF file has a lot of handwritten information in the margins, or if none-clear text is the PDF file, the service will not be able to read the words as actual “words” but will look at the text as a image and convert it as such.
  3. Works on all operating systems.
  4. However, if the PDF file is a clean document, this service does a GREAT job of stripping the PDF code out of the document so it can be manipulated in Word.

Would you like a handout?  Click pdftoword.pdf

Social Networking – What is it? How can I effectively use these tools?

October 16th, 2009

Social media tools have become very mainstream in today's society.  Just a year and a half ago, I was about the only person my age that had a Facebook account.  I opened it in the days when you had to have an ".edu" email account to even create a profile.  I noticed a year ago that people starting coming out of the woodwork!  Folks I haven't heard from or seen in €¦ 20-something years.  It was great fun to catch up with folks.  It was an online high school reunion on a daily basis.

Monitoring Twitter, I came across an event being held at VCU by the Richmond Chapter of the Social Media Club EDU (geared towards those in education in one way or the other).  The event was called Tweet That!, and was moderated by Professor Messner of the Mass Communications department at VCU.  The panelist included a current student at VCU, a recent grad from UofR, a local recruiter, and a professional blogger.

I created a Twitter account and frankly, had no idea what to do with it.  I know some folks who use twitter in a way too personally (it's really OK not to let everyone know that you had to leave a meeting because you had to throw up.  Really.).  But I started "following" people on twitter who posted on subjects that I found interesting:  good wine and instructional technology and the like.  I have sinced dropped the wine following (except for a few of my favorite tweeters!), and have focused on finding information that is useful to the Law School and the University of Richmond.

Highlights included:

Why use Web 2.0 tools?

In this context, Web 2.0 tools included using tools like Google Docs for collaborating on projects and for content sharing.  Having used Google Docs, I can vouch for its usefulness and for its ease of use as well.

Interestingly enough, some of the panelists and some of the audience felt like Professors should be teaching students how to use some social media tools in the classroom.  As a law school environment, I'm not sure how we could incorporate the teaching of these tools in a particular class, but it may be the subject of a Technology Tidbit lunchtime series class in the near future.

So what about other tools?  LinkedIn?  Twitter?  Facebook?  Flickr?  Can these tools be used professionally?  The answer is yes.

The recruiter panelist talked about these tools:


o   Build your site like an online resume.

o   Because this service is free, a lot of recruiters are using this tool to find employees.  Services such as charge hiring agencies for the use of their database.


o   Tweet about the content that you are interested in (some Professors tweet about their subject interests, i.e., environmental law, etc.).

o   Recruiters search for key words in Twitter.  If you've been active, your twitter account will come up more often.  Think of it as micro-blogging.


o   Need to draw a line between personal and professional content.

o   May keep two accounts, but you should keep them all clean.

o   Learn how to use Facebook privacy settings – THIS IS KEY, FOLKS.  Learn how to lock down your settings so only those who you WANT to see you content can.


o   Use Google Alert to keep abreast of content that is posted about you online

Even though none of the panelists touched on this site, is a very interesting site.  It's amazing what might be out there on you that you may not even know.

The final piece of advice the panelists gave was that it's not necessarily to be come an expert on every social media tool.  Decide what you want to use and get good at using them.

More on Cross Referencing

March 20th, 2009

Cross Referencing in Word 2007 is a not-so-painful task.  Attached is a document produced by the University of Wisconsin that discusses most aspects of cross referencing, including how to update the references once paragraphs have been moved. word2007-cross-referencing.pdf


Mastering Table of Contents

March 20th, 2009

Using Table of Contents in Word 2007 can be a chore.  Once you can master how Word would LIKE you to manage your TOC, however, changes can be made in a snap, and leading dots and page numbers are your friend.  word2007-creating-a-toc.doc 

Ever have a need to create a survey? Check out Survey Monkey and Wufoo

December 11th, 2008

Ever have a need to create a quick survey? Two popular free web services just might be able to help you with your endeavors. Wufoo and Survey Monkey both provide free survey building software; Wufoo also provides other tools you might find useful. Have a few moments to spare? Complete this survey for me:

Cross-Referencing Information in a Word Document (Footnotes and Table of Contents)

November 4th, 2008

I found this great article on cross-referencing within Word 2007 – enjoy!  (

Cross-Referencing Information in a Word Document


Fun with RSS Feeds – or – Adding RSS Feeds to Outlook

November 4th, 2008

So … what is an RSS feed anyway?  Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a way for content publishers to make news, blogs, and other content available to subscribers. You can add your favorite RSS Feeds as subscriptions in Outlook 2007.  RSS provides a convenient way for content publishers to distribute information in a standardized format. A standardized XML file format allows the information to be published once, and then viewed by many different programs (such as Outlook).  Common examples of RSS content are sources of information such as news headlines and blogs that are frequently updated.

 The delivery mechanism for RSS content is known as an RSS feed. There are millions of RSS feeds that consist of headlines or short summaries of content with a link provided to the original source. The feeds can also contain the complete content, and include attachments of almost any type. Other names for RSS feeds are Web feeds, XML feeds, RSS channels, and syndicated content.

You can discover new RSS feeds in several ways. On Web sites that offer this feature, you might see the Button image, RSS button or, XML button . In some Web browsers, such as Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox, when you click these buttons, you can subscribe to the associated feed.

You can also enter the Internet address, known as the URL, of an RSS feed directly in Outlook.

Add an RSS Feed through the Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 Account Settings dialog box

  1. On the Tools menu, click Account Settings

  2. On the RSS Feeds tab, click New

  3. In the New RSS Feed dialog box, type the URL address for the RSS feed. For example, (yes — you can subscribe to this blog!  With every new entry, you will receive an email in your RSS folder)

  4. Click Add

  5. Click OK

You will see a folder in your Outlook folder list called RSS Feeds.  If you click the plus sign to expand the list, you will see the RSS feed in which you subscribed (e.g., this technology tidbits blog).  When I clicked on the plus sign, I also found several (three, in fact) RSS folders that came with Outlook — I didn’t subscribe to them.  To unsubscribe to those feeds, right-click on the folders and choose “Delete [name of feed here].”  Because RSS feeds live on the internet, they do not take up precious email quota space.

Tips and Tricks for Vista users

October 20th, 2008

I recently read an article in PC World Magazine on tips on how to help Vista run faster. A lot of our users have not been impressed with Vista; even though our hardware is beefed up with more memory and more hard drive space, the operating system seems to have disabled all the features that would be normally beneficial with its over indulgence of features.

Below are some of the features I have disabled and I must say, my Vista computer seems much happier (and faster!) for it.


The Windows sidebar is a new feature with Vista. Among other things, the sidebar shows the clock; it can be customized to include a post it note for quick note jotting, the weather report, add RSS feeds, and the stock market ticker (although that may not be as popular as it once was). There are those who really like and use the sidebar (present company included), but many more who find this feature useless. To disable the sidebar:

1. Right click anywhere on the sidebar

2. Select Close Sidebar

3. Uncheck Start Sidebar when Windows Starts

4. Click OK


Aero was developed so that Vista would compete with Mac's operating system. It has neat features like creating thumbnails of your programs when you hover the mouse pointer over the task bar (one of those features you see and think to yourself, "oooo! That's pretty cool!") as well as other graphics. Aero adds little – very little – practicality and a lot of panache, and is also using a lot of your valuable resources. To shut off Aero:

1. Right click anywhere on the desktop (not on top of an icon)

2. Select Personalize – Windows Color and Appearance

3. Click the link that says Open class appearance properties for more color options

4. Choose Windows Vista Basic

5. Click OK

Assorted Interface Beautification Options

These are the options that make Vista "pretty" – gives it its new look. To see what all of those options are:

1. Click Start (round button in the left hand corner of your computer screen)

2. Right click on Computer

3. Choose Properties

4. Click the Advanced System Settings link

5. Click the Advanced tab

6. Click the Settings button

To make Vista look like Windows XP, check "adjust for best performance." When I tested this setting, the colors on the monitor didn't look as vibrant. I advise to leave the box "Let Windows choose what's best for my computer" checked, but UNCHECK all the boxes that say "Fade," "Show Shadows" and "Drop Shadows." I have not noticed at all what I am missing by having these boxes unchecked, but I am noticing my computer running faster.

Internet Printing Client

One of the new printing features in Vista is something called Internet Printing. We use network printing, local printing, but not internet printing – and there are no current plans for the University to adopt internet printing. By turning off the service, you will increase your computers' performance.

Windows Meeting Space

Windows Meeting Space is a built-in peer-to-peer space where you can share files amongst your colleagues – much how we use Netfiles, and the reason we don't use Meeting Space. Disabling Meeting Space will speed up your computer.

Tablet PC Features

Except for the very few of us who chose a PC Tablet, the rest of us can turn off the Tablet PC features on our computers because, well, we don't need them.

To turn off Internet Printing, Windows Meeting Space, and Tablet PC Features:

1. Click Start (round button in the left hand corner of your computer screen)

2. Click Control Panel

3. Double click Programs and Features

4. Click on the Turn Windows features on or off link (left hand side)

5. Find and expand the Print Services section by clicking the plus sign next to Print Services

6. Uncheck Internet Printing Client

7. Find Windows Meeting Space and uncheck the box

8. Find Tablet PC Optional Components and uncheck the box

9. Click OK

It will take several minutes for this service to disable; you will be invited to restart your computer. Do not restart your computer at this time.

There are also several services that most of us just are not using. Vista has a built in service called ReadyBoost – supposedly, it speeds up Vista by caching memory to a flash drive. Another service that is just slowing down your computer is called Offline Files. If you work on files stored on a server (i.e., Netfiles), and you would like your computer to sync a copy of those same files to your hard drive, Offline Files features can do this. Unfortunately, you will run the risk of files not always being in sync (it's safer to simply work in Netfiles if that is where you file is stored). The third worthless feature, and arguably the most worthless feature windows has, is the Windows Error Reporting Service. We've all seen this. A program crashes, and you're invited to send your error report to Microsoft in hopes that they find a solution as to why the program crashed in the first place. More than likely, your report will either go unresolved or end up in a big ol' pile of other people's reports on the same program – either way, you're wasting your systems resources on a feature that isn't doing anyone any good.

To disable ReadyBoost, Offline Files, and Windows Error Reporting Service:

1. Click Start (round button in the left hand corner of your computer screen)

2. Type Services

3. Press the Enter key

4. Find and double click on ReadyBoost

5. In the Startup type drop down menu, select Disabled

6. Click OK

7. Find and double click Offline Files

8. In the startup type drop down menu, select Disabled

9. Click OK

10. Find and double click on Windows Error Report Service

11. In the startup type drop down menu, select Disable

12. Click OK

13. Close the Services box by clicking the red "x"