MDGx MAX Speed WinDOwS
Proud Sponsor of
Ojatex's Laptop Tips - Part 2

Go to Ojatex's Laptop Tips Contents!

2-9-1998 Laptop Tricks, added to LAPTOP.TXT by the author, and part of my ©Tricks + Secrets Files:


100. BAD DISKS: If you have a portable disk or two that just won't mount in your portable drive, you may have lost your data but maybe not your money.
Check your portable drive documentation, look for the manufacturer's free 800 numbers, and go to the company's web-site. Often you can get free replacement disks and save $15-$20 per disk. The same replacement policy frequently applies to program disks gone bad, and replacements often contain an upgraded version of an older program.

101. SQUEEZED FOR SPACE?: If you have a compressed hard-drive and the Drivespace program [usually in the Windows folder], you may be able to add a few more megabytes to your hard-drive. Open Drvspace.exe; from the Menu Bar select "Advanced" then the "Change Ratio" option. If you are at the limits of allowable compression ratio, select "Drive" from the Menu Bar and choose "Adjust Free Space" between the compressed drive [usually C:\] and the host drive [usually H:\]. Move the slider to the far left to add more space on the hard-drive.

102. BUILD A LIBRARY: When you want to change a file extension icon or shortcut icon, the usual default is the program's standard icon or one from a "dll" file which is often just a plain Windows symbol. You can make your own library of icons and customize the look of shortcuts and Windows Explorer directories. Many of the "icon extractor" programs [which are plentiful and free on the WWW] also have a feature which allows the user to make their own icon library in the form of a "dll" or "icl" file. Gather your favourite graphics that you want to use as icons from all your disks into a single library [a dll or icl file]. Then put the file on your hard-drive; new pictures can be added at any time and old ones deleted. If you have an artistic bent, you can make your own icons with a Paint program and add them to your library.

103. CREAKY CURSOR: Is your cursor just creeping around; even cleaning the trackball does not seem to improve anything. Check your mouse settings in the Control Panel to adjust the pointer speed. If you somtimes have a hard time locating the cursor when reading or working on a text file, open the Keyboard icon in the Control Panel to increase the cursor blink rate. Many laptops also ship with OEM trackball/mouse software which allows you to reset the distance the cursor will move in relation to a movement of the trackball. Set these values up the maximum. If you have configured your browser settings to warn for cookies and if you have enabled "Smart Move" where your cursor automatically moves to the next dialogue item, this can be annoying when surfing the web. Before going online, disable "Smart Move".

104. RENAME README: Windows has several "Readme.txt" files in many folders; many applications have their "Readme.txt" file also. Readme has become the conventional information file which is fine, but with many applications on your hard-drive and portable disks, the large number of readme.txt files can be a source of confusion. Also when you move/install files and applications, a readme.txt may inadvertently get over-written. {To find out how many "readme.txt" files you have, use the Find option [Win 95] on the Start Menu, or Tools/Find from the Menu Bar [Win95] in Windows Explorer, or File/Search from the Menu Bar [Win3.x] in File Manager.} To customize the readme.txt files, rename them with a title which is descriptive of its governing application.

105. DRIVE BY CONTENT: When you create new files, the default location is often the folder of the application that created the file or just the Windows folder. That approach scatters files of similar content or subject through-out the entire list of files. Try a "content-driven" file structure instead - that is similar categories of personal documents are filed by subject such as correspondence, taxes, medical, insurance regardless of the application[s] that created them.

106. EXPORT REPORT: If you use financial/investment software, such as Quicken or MsMoney, the Reporting function can be used to add informative data to your file system. On a regular basis, create Income and Expense reports using your financial software by those categories for which you maintain personal folders. For instance, if you have a folder named "Taxes" [which may contain files of correspondence, tax forms, scanned documents of tax returns, bills, receipts, etc], create a "Tax Expense Report". Using the Report function of your financial software, select the pertinent tax expense categories to create a "Tax Expense Report"; then export the report in text or spreadsheet format to your "Taxes" folder.

Back 2 Contents
2-1-1998 Laptop Tricks, added to LAPTOP.TXT by the author, and part of my ©Tricks + Secrets Files:


94. GAS POWER=12 VOLTS: Many airlines are now outfitting with laptop outlets. You can use several other types of transportation to power your laptop. First you need a 12 Volt DC adapter [about $100]; most auto cigarette lighters will accept these adapters. In addition other 12 volt vehicles such as travel trailers and boats either have 12 volt outlets or can be easily fitted with these outlets since most have 12 volt systems along with standard 110 volt AC. Even a generator can be used to run a laptop while charging its battery, the 12 volt system battery and run other appliances. But be careful - generators can surge especially when called on to power up an air conditioner. Use a good surge protector, and try to plug in to a receptacle that is on an isolated breaker.

95. 2000 READY: If you have an older portable computer, when the year 2000 comes your machine may not recognize it properly. A good first resource is your computer manufacturer's website. Often they have lists of which machines are year 2000 compliant and which are not. They also may have BIOS update software that will correct the inability to recognize the year 2000 properly. Other resources include free testing software on the WWW such as "2000.exe" by National Software Testing Laboratories which tests your system's BIOS for year 2000 compatibility. Also there are free fix-it programs such as "" by the Right Time Clock Co.

96. GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY: If you use an inkjet printer you know that new ink cartridges are often very expensive. If you don't mind a little messy work [or you can use surgical gloves], buy ink refills for your empty cartridges.
Many computer supply catalogues offer refills at prices which are 50% or less than new cartridges.

97. HIDDEN WEB-SITES: Sometimes when you access a web-site on certain servers [such as Geocities and Tripod which offer free web space], an advertisement page appears rather than the site you targeted. The page you want is "behind" the ad page. To show the page you want, either click on the upper left corner of the ad page or hit Alt-Spacebar and select Close from the drop-down menu.
The ad page will disappear and the page you want will appear.

98. TAKE A MEMO: If you regularly use spreadsheets, sometimes it would be advantageous to make an entry for information purposes only similar to the "non-add" key on a calculator. For instance if you keep your checking account on a spreadsheet and want to reflect the receipt of a check that you endorsed to a second party, make a MEMO entry that will not affect the checking account balance. To do this, make a regular entry in the description column with the word MEMO in the number column. In the deposit/credit column, precede the amount with an apostrophe [']. The apostrophe converts the amount to a text entry. Other uses of a MEMO entry in a Checking Account include cash expenditures that you may want to keep a record such as car repairs/maintenance, medical prescriptions, and charitable contributions. Investment activity in a brokerage account such as dividends, interest, and purchases/sales of securities can also be recorded as MEMO entries. A comprehensive checking account record with supportive MEMO entries can serve as the principal source of financial information when preparing one's yearly income tax returns.
[NOTE: If you want to hide the apostrophe that "disables" the MEMO entry, place the cursor in the Formula Bar just behind the apostrophe. Hold down the Shift key and hit Backspace.]

99. IT'S IN THE WASH: If you use financial software such as Quicken or Microsoft Money, MEMO entries as outlined above [Item #98] will not work because only numerical entries in the debit and credit columns are acceptable. However workarounds are available in the form of WASH entries.
A WASH entry is one which has no effect on the overall income or expense accounts. Depending on the program which you are using, you can use a VOID entry, two offsetting entries or an entry which debits and credits the same account. When using two offsetting entries, it is handy to create a Clearing Account whose balance will ultimately be zero; it is used as a temporary repository of values which will be offset by a subsequent entry. As long as the final effect is zero and a record is made, any transaction format which your software will accept is a satisfactory platform for a Wash entry.

Back 2 Contents
1-22-1998 Laptop Tricks, added to LAPTOP.TXT by the author, and part of my ©Tricks + Secrets Files:


90. ARISE FROM THE DEAD: When a shareware program expires because of the time limit [commonly 30 days], if you reset your computer's date, often the program will work. Instead of making a shortcut to the expireware's "exe" file, make it to the program's folder. Inside the folder, create a "txt" file entitled "STOP-RESET DATE.TXT" whose contents enumerate operable dates.
Before opening the expireware, reset your computer's date. A shortcut to the date/time function [located in the Control Panel] can also be placed in the same folder. [Note: when making a shortcut from the date/time function, Windows95 will advise that the shortcut will be placed on the Desktop. From the Desktop, just copy or cut the shortcut and put it in the desired folder.]
When you have finished with the program or just after you open it, reset the date to the current day.

91. WEBSITE WALLFLOWER?: Is your web-site lonely? Nobody but you ever seems to stop by for a look. A little free self-promotion is in order:

  1. List your site with Search Engines and Directories. If a description of your web-site is requested, use Keywords which cover broad categories.

  2. When you visit other web-sites, look for an "Add URL" graphic.

  3. Add Meta Tags to your web-page's Header using terms which "generously" describe your site's contents.

  4. Request Links [with description and graphics if possible] to your friends and correspondents web-sites.

  5. Announce your Web-site via E-mail with your correspondents- use Live Links if your e-mail supports them.

  6. Offer "freebies" or links to sites which offer free stuff.

92. LOST DLLS: Sometimes after a "crash" or re-installation of the Operating System, certain system files may be lost which are needed by some of your older programs. Old system files such as "mfcoleui.dll" or "cmdialog.vbx" may turn up missing. There are a few places you can look to obtain a replacement:

  1. Backups of your Windows/System folder. [Backing up this folder periodically can save future time and trouble.]

  2. Libraries of archived files that "clean-up" and/or "space-saver" programs make.

  3. File libraries on the WWW that are maintained by various companies and the FTP directories of such organizations as Winsite, Simtel and Microsoft.

  4. Web Search Engines can be useful tools for finding information about similar missing files which other users have experienced.

93. PAGE AFTER PAGE: When you get involved in reading a web article that goes on for page after page after page, there is a faster way to get the entire article into your system so you can read it later at your leisure. As soon as a page loads, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Next Page. Keep loading all the pages until the end of the article is finally reached. Now the entire article is "cached" where you can read it offline. [See Item #36 for instructions on how to use your cache files.] If you didn't have time to load all the pages of the article, when you are in the cache folder, right click on the "Next Page" of the last page loaded. Select the function that copies the URL to the next page in the article. Paste this URL to your Bookmarks/Favourites; next time you go online, you can resume downloading the rest of the article.

Back 2 Contents
1-15-1998 Laptop Tricks, added to LAPTOP.TXT by the author, and part of my ©Tricks + Secrets Files:


86. RE-TARGET SHORTCUT: When you click on a shortcut that gets a message that the target is missing, it may be because you moved the target to a portable disk. Windows will try to find the target and even suggest an alternate location, but Windows does not generally look on portable disks. You can select the "Browse" option to find the target, but to re-target the old Shortcut, right click on it. Then select "Properties" from the drop-down menu. In the Properies dialogue box, select the "Shortcut" tab; change the drive letter on the "Target" and "Start in" lines. You can also "jazz" up the shortcut icon by selecting the "Change Icon" option. After correcting the Drive letter, check the related "ini" file [if any] in the Windows folder.
References to the old drive letter should be changed to the new drive letter.

87. IDLE WEB SPACE?: Do you have empty web-space from your ISP or other servers? {AOLers have 10MB available; several providers offer from 200KB to 3MB for free.} There are a few ways to use it other than storing a web-site.

  1. If your correspondent has an E-mail program that cannot handle attachments, then use the WWW to send the files. As long as you both have access to the WWW, upload the file attachment through FTP. Then send the URL in the e-mail to your correspondent who can download the file. Alternatively you can write an HTML page with a download link to the attachment and upload it.

  2. If your hard-drive is low on free space, store files on unused web space in zip format. If you have a posted web-site that has reached its limit of byte space, start linking additional files to a different FTP directory. If you are taking a trip without your computer or portable drive and want access to certain files, upload the files to your web-space.

  3. If you like to send greeting cards [such as Birthday, Christmas, Valentines, etc.], make up a card, upload it then send it's URL to your friends via email. One "card" can be used for multiple recipients.

  4. If you ever have lost the ability to access the WWW but can still connect to your ISP, often you can still connect to FTP. From there you can upload and download from your own directory or that of others.

  5. Have you lost or corrupted your web-site files on your own system or are not sure what are the last files you uploaded? Then download files from your own FTP directory to recover them.

88. E-MAIL COOKIES: If your E-mail server only supports plain text, then the URL addresses must be converted to live links to access the web-sites. But with an HTML E-mail server, the links are live; this is very handy and time-saving. But there is a price to pay - COOKIES. Since HTML e-mailings are much like web-pages, the sender often attaches "cookie" files with the principal "letter". The e-mail cookie looks similar to a web-site cookie such as this one received while using the Netscape browser:

The server
wishes to set a cookie
that will be sent
to any server in the domain
The name and value of the cookie are:

This cookie will persist until Fri Dec 31 05:00:00 1999
Do you wish to allow the cookie to be set?

If you accept the cookie, a line of text will be placed in the "cookies.txt" file in the Netscape directory. Internet Explorer's cookies are in the Temporary Internet Files folder as txt files. For further information about cookies, how to handle them and how to set browser preferences please see "Are The Cookies Watching You?"

89. STRIP THE PIX: Often when browsing the web, you run across banners that have some picture elements in animated gifs that are very attractive. You would like to incorporate these elements in a picture of your own, but, of course, you don't want the advertising or some other elements. With a little free software [such as an animated gif program], you can strip off those pictures you want. When you see a banner you like, either save it directly or snatch it out of your cache folder. Using the "animated gif" program, open the file and select the "image strip" function. The result will be an entire strip of all the individual pictures. Save the strip in a format you can work with [such as "gif" or "bmp"]. Now you can cut out the pictures you want from the strip using a standard graphics program and save them as individual files with which to build your own pictures.

Back 2 Contents
1-8-1998 Laptop Tricks, added to LAPTOP.TXT by the author, and part of my ©Tricks + Secrets Files:


83. CORRUPT DATA SETS: On occasion or even more often, a data set for a financial program becomes "corrupt"; the program's "exe"file cannot open your personal financial data. There are various solutions/workarounds to this problem. Remember, although a fully functional data set is the ideal condition, what you really are aiming at is the recovery of your data which may be accessible in another format.

  1. Replace the corrupted set with your back-up set, if you have one. Before replacing the corrupted data-set, save it to a new location; you may be able to recover data that post-dates the back-up set.

  2. Many financial programs have a restore/re-index function which can straighten out the problem.

  3. Look in your "Temp" folder or other locations; sometimes an improper shut-down puts your data set in limbo as a "tmp" or other type file [such as an .01 file].

  4. Run scandisk; part of your data-set may be corrupted and scandisk may be able to recover it or create a useable "chk" file.

  5. Call Tech support; they may have suggestions. But be advised; they may charge for data recovery and/or want you to send them a copy of your data set which exposes your private financial data.

  6. If you have another financial program which is "dormant", try the export/import function.

  7. Re-install the program from the original disk[s].

  8. Use the "Quick View" function and/or a word processing application to "read" the data set files. Often you will be able to find your account names, entries and scheduled transactions which you can re-construct into a new data-set. Most any file on your hard-drive, regardless of type, can be "opened" with a standard word processing program; although it will act as a word-processing file in this mode, you can recover data from it.

  9. Future problems can be minimized with current back-ups, running two different financial programs simultaneously [using import/export to save time if desired], and/or periodically printing to disk or paper current financial information in your data set.

84. COMPRESS FINANCIAL ENTRIES: If you want to track your profit/loss but can't be bothered with all the accounts and myriad transactions, you can boil them down to two account types and one entry per day or less. There are only two account types:

  1. REAL ACCOUNTS - These are all the Balance Sheet accounts, that is the Assets and Liabilities.

  2. NOMINAL ACCOUNTS - These are all the Income Statement [AKA Profit and Loss] accounts, that is the Income and Expense accounts.

Since a net debit [increase] to Real accounts is a net credit [profit] to Nominal accounts and conversely a net credit [decrease] to Real accounts is a net debit [loss] to Nominal accounts, all financial transactions over a time period can be reduced to one. [The vernacular term "in the black" describing a Profit refers to the Real accounts; the simultaneous condition in the Nominal accounts would be "in the red".] Even if you only have a spreadsheet program or happen to use investment software [such as Fund Manager, Fidelity Investments, Wealth Builder, etc.], you can create a Profit/Loss account to emulate financial software that will track your ongoing financial activity.

85. EXIT ON CANCEL: When trouble comes, many of us blame the computer, the operating system or the current program. But sometimes the trouble is of our own making. There are a few simple routines you can use to avoid these troubles:

  1. When working in dialogue boxes, where you can change settings or delete items, always EXIT the box on the CANCEL option unless you purposefully want to change a setting and know what your old setting was. Do not select the OKAY option just to close a box; exit on CANCEL; you may have inadvertently changed something.

  2. Backup often. And create new registry back-ups, and emergency recovery and system disks.

  3. When working on long files, SAVE your work at various intervals.

  4. Don't delete files unless you are sure of the outcome. Save a copy in a safe location until you are sure you won't need it.

  5. If you deleted E-mail you want to read again, many e-mail providers have an option where you can save recent e-mail on their server. For instance for AOL, access MAIL on the MENU Bar and select Mail You've Read/Sent; AOL will save mail up to seven days if you so choose.

  6. When "reading" files in their non-native applications, such as using a word processor to open a "dll", "exe", "ini" or scandisk created "chk" file, do not save the original file in the word processing format.

Back 2 Contents
1-5-1998 Laptop Tricks, added to LAPTOP.TXT by the author, and part of my ©Tricks + Secrets Files:


81. MASH YOUR CASH: If you use one of the popular financial programs [such as Quicken, MS Money, etc.] and have a hard time keeping current with making the daily entries, you can consolidate multiple cash transactions into one daily, weekly or even monthly entry. Typically small cash expenditures account for the majority of financial transactions, and they can be a real pain to keep track of. For example, suppose you had $50 at the start of the week, got $100 out of the ATM machine and now have $35. You went to the grocery store several times, the gas station, a few fast-food spots and the hardware store. You may have receipts for some of these items and remember how much some items cost, but other expenditures you don't remember; besides making a whole list of small entries into your financial program isn't the most efficient use of your limited time.
Rather than trying to reconstruct [and estimate] these transactions, allocate them to various expense categories based on prior patterns of expenditures. Review one or two month's prior cash expenditures, calculate the percentages that constitute the major expense categories, and allocate current cash transactions by the calculated percentages.

82. 97 CLEAN-UP: If you use financial software, before archiving the 97 data set and starting a new data set for 98, review your account balances for accuracy and completeness. Even if not yet paid, record amounts you owe for 1997 as well as income you have earned in 97 but not yet received.
Typical unrecorded expenses/income include utilities, taxes, interest, insurance as well as holiday purchases made by credit card and year end bonuses. Make estimates if actual amounts are not available.
  1. For income earned but not received by the end of 1997, create a Receivable [asset] account. Record the expected income to the Receivable with a credit [increase] to the applicable income account.
  2. For expenses incurred but not recorded/paid by the end of 1997, create a Payable [liability] account. Record the expense to the Payable with a debit [increase] to the applicable expense account.
  3. - For further information on how to adjust account balances see the website: MONEY SOFTWARE at - in particular the subject covering Integrity of Accounts.
  4. If you expect a material income tax refund in 1998 for 1997, record this expected refund in 1997. This may well cause a debit, i.e. receivable, balance in your tax liability account, but will accurately reflect the income tax expense for the year.
  5. When each item that was recorded in 97 to an asset/liability account is received/paid in 98, the clearing entry is made to the Receivable/Payable account in 98, not to income or expense. If there are differences between the original entry and the final receipt/payment, then an adjusting entry to income/expense can be made which will clear to zero the unresolved difference.
  6. NOTE: Most financial software has an "archive" option. By archiving prior year's transactions, your new data set will be much smaller, your program will run faster and the necessary periodic back-ups will take less time.

Back 2 Contents
12-20-1997 Laptop Tricks, added to LAPTOP.TXT by the author, and part of my ©Tricks + Secrets Files:


76. OPEN A BLANK: To speed up the opening of your browser and to keep the cache folder small, open your browser on a blank page. Set the start-up preference to a Blank Page. This works for both Netscape and Internet Explorer whether online or offline.

77. SCAN NOT: If you scan the same type of document regularly [such as an electric bill or a mortgage receipt] and have OCR capability, you can make a template from the "RTF" document that resulted from a prior scan. Copy the "RTF" document's contents, such as a mortgage receipt. Paste the copied document into a blank spreadsheet to make a fill-in-the-blanks template.
Eliminate the non-recurring information; format the cells which are to be filled in with coloured backgrounds [or borders] and the appropriate "number" formatting such as fixed, currency, date, etc. Save the template as a spreadsheet file and use a copy of it to fill in the recurring data in the coloured cells instead of scanning and OCRing the document. By substituting templates, you will save time and disk space. Even if you do not have scan and OCR capability, you can make a spreadsheet template with fill-in-the-blanks functionality which emulates the document.

78. MAKE A RECEIPT: If you regularly collect rent, utilities, loan installments, or payments of any kind, instead of purchasing a Receipt Book and handwriting receipts, make a receipt template in a fill-in-the-blanks format. On a spreadsheet template, fill in the cells with the permanent information. Format the cells to be filled in on receipt of payment with coloured backgrounds or borders and the "number" style of each cell such as date, text, fixed, currency, etc. After filling in the template, save the file with a descriptive name and date. When printing the receipt, specify "no gridlines".

79. EAZY CHECKING: There are many financial programs available such as Quicken and Microsoft Money with a myriad of features for tracking income and expenses. But these large programs are not for everybody for any number of reasons. Many people have these programs and never progress further than the checking account feature. You can make your own checking account "program" on one spreadsheet and save megabytes of disk space. A spreadsheet with a few formatted columns will serve as a template you can use year after year. With a few modifications to the checking account template, it can be used as a credit card template to track charges, payments and the outstanding balance.

80. DISASTER PROOF: Backup your files is a common caveat and it's good advice, but it can be expanded to encompass more than just computer files.
When harm comes in the form of fire, theft or other forms of natural and unatural disasters, backup disks may fall victim as well as other property.

  1. Store a copy of your vital backups in a secure location; a safety deposit box is ideal.

  2. Create files detailing the cost basis, age and description of your real and personal property that is subject to physical disaster.
    Insurance companies, police departments, the legal system and the taxing authorities may require proof of loss and original cost of lost assets.

    1. You can use a commercial asset program, construct your own files preferably in spreadsheet form or even create separate data sets using popular financial software for "asset information" about your property.

    2. If you have scanning capability, add scanned files of at least major purchases to your asset listings.

    3. Keep copies of these "asset information" files on portable disks in a secure location. Ideally your vital asset information is disaster proof and, after a disaster, you can prove the value of the assets you owned.

    4. These "asset information" files can also be use as evidence if you are involved in an income tax or assessed valuation dispute.

Back 2 Contents