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Sunday, July 30, 2017

1837. Remote Spreadsheets

I often need to share spreadsheets with remote co-workers. It would be great if we could both be looking at the same spreadsheet concurrently, and it would be even better if we could both be making concurrent changes to the data. Is this even possible?

Not only is it possible it works really well. If you live in the Google world the Google sheets application allows you to create a workbook like an excel worksheet and share it with other users. There's a share option in the upper right hand corner you insert an e-mail address and your coworkers could then look at the spreadsheet, make changes as you are making changes, and you can collaborate at the same time.

If you live in the Microsoft world Excel has an online version available at that allows you to create a workbook there where you can share that workbook with other Microsoft users and everyone involved can make updates concurrently.

This is a great way to do your work and actually it's the way that Doug and I work on our tips for the radio. We are on Google sheets at the same time I make changes on my computer and Doug sees those changes immediately on his computer. It's an easy way for us to work together and not have to share a single computer to look at the spreadsheet as we are creating these tips.

So check out for Microsoft or the Google Drive option to work with Google Spreadsheets they both work great.

1833. Don't lose your contacts

I recently had to replace my phone, and when I did, I realized that I no longer had all of the contact information from my old phone. At this point, all I can see to do is to ask all of my friends to send me their contact information again. Is there some way to avoid this in the future?

Back in the bad old days before there were smartphones I could see this being a thing you could do even on most of those old phones. Copy all your contacts to the SIM card and then move the SIM card to your new phone and that way you'd have a backup of your contacts. But with a smartphone there's really no excuse for this question.

I see it all the time from young friends on Facebook who have all their contact information on their phone and nowhere else in their life. The answer is your phone should not be a repository for data it should be a viewer for data. Your data should be stored somewhere else most likely in the cloud.

If you use an i Phone you can use iCloud to store all your contact, calendar, and other information. If you're an Android user or an iPhone user you can use Google to hold all of your contact information and more. In other words don't use your phone as a place to store information. Use your phone as a place to view information.

If you can't go to another computer somewhere log in to an online account and see your data on that computer then you're not set up correctly. Please believe us on this - someday you're going to lose a phone or drop it into the sink or otherwise need to replace it and you don't want to lose all your data. Make sure it's stored online somewhere so you can just get your new phone connect to your account and magically everything appears on your phone.

1838. DND options in iOS

I use the do not disturb feature in iOS, and it's great: The phone won't ring in the middle of the night once I've set up do not disturb. The problem is: If my aging parents call, I need to let them ring through, no matter when they call. If they call in the middle of the night, it's an emergency and I want to get the call. Is there some way to have it both ways? That is, have do not disturb mode on, but allow some people to ring through any way?

Of course this isn't really a story about Doug it's really a story about me where I do need to allow my aging father to call me at any time of the day or night. But I don't really want to get any other calls at night so I have do not disturb set on my phone from my bed time to when I wake up. I'm embarrassed to tell you what time my bedtime is so I won't but in any case if I want my father to be able to ring through.

There's a simple trick I can just go to his contact entry in my contacts, go to the ring tone option, and under a ring tone there's an option to allow emergency bypass. Then that contact will be allowed to ring through no matter what time of the day or night.

You can do the same thing under settings where you can select various groups that are allowed to ring through. For example I also have all of my favorites allowed to ring through so anyone who's on my Favorites list can call me at any time and finally there's an option that allows people that if they call you twice in quick succession it won't ring the first time when you have do not disturb turned on but it will ring the second time. That way you can tell people if you need to reach me after hours call me twice in a row this gives you a lot of flexibility and do not disturb so you should check these features out on your iPhone.

1834. USB Charging

I have a bunch of devices that need to be charged via USB. For example, I have a phone, a tablet, a Bluetooth headset, and a Bluetooth speaker. I don't have enough electrical outlets near my desk to charge all these things. Do you have any suggestion as to how I can charge all of my devices at once?

It’s funny: You’re looking for an answer to a problem that simply didn’t exist a few years ago. We can remember clearly when every device had a unique and dedicated charging brick; woe be unto you if you lost or mislabeled the device’s specific charger. Look in your old electronics drawer: You’ll certainly find an old Nokia or Samsung phone charger that’s of absolutely no value any more.

At some point, device manufacturers realized that consumers’ lives would be so, so much easier if most devices shared a common, standard charging mechanism. And so, USB charging was “born.” Although the device end of the charging cables isn’t completely consistent, the “plug-in” side of the cables are almost all identical, and all use the same voltage and are generally interchangeable. (We’re always amused and amazed when a friend is surprised to find that she can charge her iPhone using the USB port on her laptop, even though it’s not the charger that came with the phone!) This proliferation of USB charging means that we now need some charging station; a place where we can plug in multiple USB devices concurrently.

Oh, sure, we could use an electric power strip, and plug in all the devices’ individual chargers, one in each socket. But that takes up an entire charging strip, and a lot of room. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have one device that simply has a number of available USB ports for charging? And of course, this device exists. And it’s easy to find. And it’s cheap. And you have a ton of choices. USB chargers come in sizes with one port (like the one that came with each of your devices), up to 6 or more USB ports. The general consensus is that devices from the manufacturer Anker are the most popular—they’re often on sale on, and we’re big fans. Check out []—you’ll find a bunch of options.

Be aware that not all USB chargers are the same. Some devices take more power than others (for example, to charge an iPad requires more amps than charging a phone), and not all USB chargers handle the difference in power draw as well as others. Anker, of course, does a great job at this, and their devices clearly indicate what they’ll support. Pick up a USB charger for travel, work, and/or home. You’ll no longer need to use all your computer’s USB ports or multiple power outlets to charge your devices.

1835. Repurpose Laptop Drive

Following your suggestions, I replaced my laptop’s hard drive with a solid state drive, and as you said, the computer now runs so much faster. It bothers me to have this old hard drive lying around, however. Is there something I can do to use it for some purpose, so it’s not just wasted?

Congratulations on speeding up your laptop! Installing a solid state drive (SSD) can make a huge difference in the performance of the computer. (The other step you can take to improve a laptop’s performance is to increase the amount of random access memory, or RAM, in the computer. There is a reasonable limit to how much you need: 8 gigabytes, or 8GB) is enough for most people, we think, but 16GB is even better. More than that, for most users, is overkill. Not all computers allow you to replace the RAM. Check with your manufacturer’s Web site before upgrading.)

If you are able to replace the hard drive in your computer with a faster SSD, you’re left with the old hard drive just sitting around, doing nothing for you. Assuming that your laptop was built within the last 10 years or so, you can usually buy an inexpensive enclosure for the hard drive, insert your hard drive into the enclosure, connect it to your computer using a USB port, and use it as a backup drive. The enclosure should come with a USB cable, but if you have a USB cable that matches the standard port connector you’ll find on the enclosure, you can use that as well.

Note that the USB specification took a major upgrade a few years back: USB 3 is a much faster connection than USB 2, in terms of data throughput. If your computer provides any USB 3 ports, you’ll definitely want to make sure that the drive enclosure you find supports USB 3—the connection speed between the drive and your computer will be around ten times as fast than it would be with USB 2. Using a USB 3 drive enclosure and port, you’ll find that you can even boot your computer from the external drive with reasonable success, as long as your computer supports this (and most do).

We’ve had good luck with USB 3 drive enclosures from Orico (search on for more information). Don’t let that replaced hard drive languish in the “dead hardware” drawer—give it some new life by plopping it into an external drive enclosure and back up, store audio/video media, and more using the spare drive.

1836. Hyperlinks in Microsoft Word Documents

I create documents for work, using Microsoft Word on my Windows PC. Sometimes, I need to paste Web addresses into my documents, and every time I do, Word underlines the links and makes them appear in a blue font. Sometimes that’s OK, but most of the time, I want URLs to appear as standard text. How can I remove the special formatting?

Microsoft Word tries to be helpful as you create documents, and it assumes that anything that looks like a Web URL should be formatted as such, so that you know that you can click on the text to navigate to a Web page.

The problem occurs when you don’t want to accept the help that Word so graciously supplies. If you’d like to avoid the formatting as you paste in the text, don’t just press Ctrl+V or select Edit|Paste; instead, select Edit|Paste Special, and choose the option to insert unformatted text.

It takes an extra step, but this does bypass the automatic formatting. If you want to remove hyperlink formatting that already appears in your document, right-click on the link, select the Hyperlink menu option, and then select Remove Hyperlink.

If you’re tired of having Microsoft Word convert URLs into hyperlinks with formatting, you can modify Word’s AutoCorrect settings. Go to the Settings/Preferences, find the AutoCorrect settings, find the AutoFormat as You Type settings, and turn off the option to replace Internet and network paths with hyperlinks.

From now on, when you paste in a Web address, Word won’t automatically format the text as a hyperlink. Note that these techniques work both on Windows and Mac versions of Microsoft Word.

1844. How can I install Windows 10 without losing data?

How can I install Windows 10 without losing data?

If you’re running Windows 10 and encountering a seemingly unsolvable problem, reinstalling the operating system might be your best option. It’s very easy to reinstall Windows. You don’t need to download any software and it can all be done with a few clicks.

To begin, press Windows key + I to open Settings. Go to Update & security > Recovery. You’ll find two options Option 1 Reset this PC. Option 2 Resets and keeps your data files.

Remember you will have to reload your applications with either option. But please do an image backup of your system before trying any of these options. You can never be too careful.