Tuesday, May 27, 2014


By default, the background color for typing in Word is bright white. For some people, myself included, this bright white can cause eye fatigue after a while. So, I've found that changing from the white to a gray background can help.

To change your background color, open up your normal.dotm file to edit it. Go to the Page Layout tab in the ribbon and click on the Page Color button. There, you can choose a color more to your liking. Be sure to save your normal file.

Now that your eyes have thanked you, there is another consideration. If you print this out, it might print out the colored background. There are times you may find this desirable, but most of the time, you won't.

To fix this, go to the File tab, then choose option. Click on the Display button on the left side menu. Ensure that "Print background color and images" is unchecked.

Now, when you print, it will ignore the gray background. Of course, if you want to actually print a background in the future, you will need to check this box.

Lastly, when you re-open Word, it might not display your new, colored background. To fix this, you will probably need to display background content. Go to the File tab, choose options, and then choose Advanced from the options on the left. Scroll down and check the box for "Show background colors and images in Print Layout view".

Thursday, May 22, 2014


As you know, I'm a huge fan of the Android operating system and Google in general. In particular, I love Google Now. The cards telling me about traffic issues, keeping me up to date when websites I frequent are updated, and reminding me of where I parked are great. But, one of my (many) other hobbies is cooking and smoking meat.

In the past, I would tell Google Now to set a timer for 15 minutes, and it would actually set an alarm for 15 minutes in the future. Fine, it worked, but it wasn't really a timer. Moreover, as a result of setting all of these alarms, my list of alarms in the clock app would be incredibly lengthy.

Now, when you ask Google Now to set a timer, it actually does just that. It uses the clock's timer feature and sets the timer through that.

Yes, this might seem like a minor thing. But, for me, and I'm sure for others, this is a very welcome change. And more to the point, it makes me happy to see Google constantly trying to improve what they do.

H/T Droid Lawyer

Monday, May 19, 2014


I've never been a fan of the Calibri default font for Microsoft's 2010 office products. Instead, I prefer using a serif font, typically opting for Century Schoolbook. Changing the Styles in Microsoft Word is the most long-term efficient way of setting the default font. But, what about Outlook. The answer is not as obvious as it is in Word.

To set a different default font in Outlook, go to the File tab and choose options. On the left side of this window, choose Mail. Then, scroll down and push find the Stationery and Fonts button. From there, you can choose from various themes or set the default fonts you want.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Recently, we explained how to insert your electronic signature into a Word document. It isn't a terribly complicated process, yet, going up to the insert button and then searching through your file system to find your signature can be annoying. Or, if you've forgotten where you saved the file, impossible. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to automate that step?

Fortunately, Word's macro feature provides the perfect solution. Moreover, it is an exceptionally easy macro to write. The entirety of the code is:

    Selection.InlineShapes.AddPicture FileName:= _
        "your signature file", LinkToFile:=False, _

Create a new macro and insert this code. All you have to do is replace the red words with the location of your signature file. As an example, if your signature was called signature.png and was stored in your MyDocuments folder on the C:/ drive, you'd replace the red letters with c:/MyDocuments/signature.png. Note, you have to put that between the quotation marks.

From there, you can create a shortcut key or put it in your quick access bar for easy inserting.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


I work in a rural legal services program. If we are unable to get software donated or a substantial discount, we often look to open source solutions. For a nerd like me, this is wonderful. However, if you were to start your own small office and had a limited technology budget, could you function primarily on open source and outdated technology? Could you spend a minimal amount of money to put together the hardware and software sufficient to run a solo law office?

To start this mostly thought experiment, I thought I'd choose the hardware. For this, I went with a Dell Insprion 600m. It is 10 years old, has 40 GB of memory, and 512 MB of RAM. It came preloaded with Windows XP and a wireless card. To say the least, it's specs show its age. And with XP's death a few weeks behind us, it's not something you would want to be using at first blush for, well, anything other than a paper weight or recycling.

I chose this laptop simply because I had it lying around from when my wife was in college. You can find one of these around for under $100.00 easily.

Of course, you can't leave it running Windows XP, but it definitely can't handle Windows 7 or 8. So, I went with Linux Mint, Version 13 code named Maya. Specifically, I chose the version with the Mate desktop.

Maya Mint is a FREE operating system. With the Mate desktop, it has some elements that will feel familiar to Windows XP and Windows 7 users. It is infinitely customizable, and a there is a lot of free, open source programs available for download. This includes web browsers, office suites, email clients, and others.

I've been using this particular setup for android app development for several months and for some light word processing without any problem. It boots quickly, I can access the internet, can receive Word files, and can open Adobe documents.

Linux might not be for everyone, but if you're looking to start a solo career and don't have much to invest in technology, a cheap, old laptop can be found and a safe, free operating system can run it. In the future, we will talk about the open source software available to run your low cost office.