I had an odd question come up the other day: Who still uses Wordperfect? It’s a fair question. Wordperfect, as you may know, is still very much in production. Corel releases new versions every year or two. It’s the #2 word processor in the market, still. Someone is still using it, then.
I was selling computers at retail when I heard of Gary Kildall’s death. We had a few copies of Wordstar for Windows and someone asked about it. I said it was easier to remember the keyboard shortcuts in Wordstar than Wordperfect.
“You sound like a CP/M guy,” said someone who overheard me. “Did you hear that Gary Kildall died last month?”
I hadn’t, and he wasn’t surprised. I was curious, so I went to the library and found a whole lot of nothing. A month or two later, I found a mention in a computer magazine column that Kildall had died in a barroom fight but it gave no specifics.
Cheap laptops are nothing new this time of year–they’ve been practically a holiday tradition since 2002 when Sotec released a decent laptop for $900, which was jaw-droppingly low for the time–but this year, Best Buy is selling a Lenovo Ideapad 100s for $149.99, which, while not jaw-droppingly low given the number of $199 laptops that were available last year, is still the cheapest name-brand laptop I’ve seen. Note: Best Buy has since raised the price to $199, but Ebay has limited stock of the same item for $129.
I’ve seen some reviews, but there is one thing I haven’t seen anyone bring up yet: This is a netbook in every way, except I think we’re supposed to call them cloudbooks now. So keep that in mind. The machine is probably worth $149.99, but it made some compromises to reach that price point.
I couldn’t figure out how to justify text in Publisher 2013, but I finally found the way. Here’s how.
I did some layout in Publisher 2013 after having not done page layout in a decade or more, and Publisher 2013’s interface confused me a bit. I finally found two ways to justify text.
The fast, easy way: Highlight the paragraph you want and press CTRL-J. Done. I love keyboard shortcuts. Justify starts with “j,” so that makes the keyboard shortcut pretty easy to remember.
The harder, slower way: In the paragraph tab, click the down arrow in the lower right corner. In the “Indents and Spacing” tab, there’s a dropdown box called “Alignment.” Select “Justified,” then click “OK.” Scout’s honor, I looked past that option at least 17 times.
Oddly enough, once I used full justification, then I got a little icon in the paragraph section of the ribbon for that, but I’m 100% certain that option wasn’t there before.
Pro tip: If you’re going to justify text, make sure you enable hyphenation. Click inside the text box, then click “Format” under “Text Box Tools” under the ribbon. Justified text looks much better when hyphenation is on. Hyphens reduce the number of spaces the computer has to insert. Fewer spaces mean fewer “rivers” in the text, and that makes for a better-looking page. Here’s more on hyphenation if you’re curious.
One of my coworkers accidentally enabled scroll lock on a Lenovo Thinkpad L440 the other day, which is bad news when you do it accidentally and can’t find the missing Thinkpad scroll lock key.
Recent Thinkpad laptops have no scroll lock key marked on the keyboard, but we found that the <Fn+K> key combination works as scroll lock. On other Thinkpads, it may be <Fn+C>. I found later that the <Fn+K> combination also works on the Thinkpad T440s and T450s. So it’s likely that on recent Thinkpads, <Fn+K> is a safe bet.
The design decision makes some sense. The public demands ever smaller laptops but still wants full-sized keyboards, so jettisoning keys that some people never use is one way to accomplish that goal. Sometimes I live in Excel for weeks at a time, yet I rarely use the Scroll Lock key. At least half the time I use it, it was accidental. The missing key makes accidents more rare, but it makes them more problematic when they do happen.
Believe it or not, there are some keys you’ll use even less often than Scroll Lock. Lenovo squirreled those keys away to save space too. Here are the other keyboard shortcuts for the L440 and other Lenovo Thinkpads for other little-used keys that are present on a traditional PS/2 keyboard.
Rick Broida wrote a fairly harsh piece on Cnet about why he’s ditching Microsoft Office. Our reasons differ, and while I agree with all of his reasons he may not agree with all of mine. That’s OK.
I stuck with Office 2003 because its user interface is familiar and makes sense. By using the program, you learn the keyboard shortcuts from the menu and can graduate from casual user to power user relatively quickly. That went away in Office 2007, so I never moved on. Office 2003 was the best version Microsoft ever made, but it loses security updates next month, so it’s the end of the road.
Fortunately, Libre Office has a traditional user interface and most of the same keyboard shortcuts. If you don’t use mail merge, it’s a capable replacement, and it’s free and actively maintained. It’s not as fast as Office 2003 was, but neither is anything Microsoft has made since.
Now, in corporate environments, with a recent version of Office and Sharepoint you can do some really nifty things, like automatically building Powerpoint presentations from Excel spreadsheets created by different people. You could probably approximate the same thing with other software, but what I saw a Sharepoint-literate colleague build this week with MS Office was very impressive.
But I don’t need that at home, and I don’t want to pay $100 per year for the rest of my life to use a program that I tolerate at best, so I’ll save my money and move to Libre Office.
Sometimes my coworkers will watch me write, because they like a freak show. I guess they’ve never seen someone who uses the mouse as little as I do. If I know a keyboard shortcut, I use it. It’s faster, I say, and they agree I have a point.
If you need to change power plans to manage your computer’s power usage, here’s the easiest way to do it without fumbling around in control panel. This works in either Windows 7 or Vista.
After years of workarounds, and even sometimes denying there was a problem, Mozilla has identified a fix for Firefox’s sometimes out-of-control memory usage.
Compiling Firefox for modern-ish (Pentium 4 and newer) CPUs is relatively common on Linux, and presumably on Mac OS X also, but not for Windows. On Windows, Firefox assumes you have a first-generation Pentium CPU, since that’s the slowest CPU that will boot Windows XP.
Enter Pale Moon.Pale Moon is compiled to use the instruction set in newer Pentium and Athlon 64 CPUs. In layman’s terms, this results in about a 25% increase in performance, which is significant.
Also significant is that the current version is based on 3.6.3 of Firefox, before Firefox broke Farmville, people started laying eggs, and they started breaking Firefox to keep Farmville working.
I couldn’t care less about Farmville and other stupid Facebook games; I just want Google Maps to be fast.
And in my quick tests, Pale Moon is fast. It loads faster than the standard Firefox build. It renders complex pages like Google Maps faster.
I’m not ready to make it my default browser yet, but so far I like what I see. It at least narrows the performance gap with Chrome, while retaining the user interface and keyboard shortcuts I’ve been using since those pre-release versions of Netscape I was using in 1994.
Experimental, optimized Firefox builds have come and gone over the years. Hopefully this one sticks around a while.