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Windows 8 Basics for those who can’t Touch!

Many users of Windows 7 or older OSs are apprehensive about the new Windows 8 Operating System. They are prejudiced when they think that Windows 8 is inclined more towards the touch screen interface than the conventional keyboard – mouse interface that we are all familiar with. But the fact is Windows 8 is designed not only for the Touch user but also the Can't-touch user. Almost all that you can do with the touch interface can also be done with one or more keystrokes or one or two mouse clicks.

Here is how…


Move from the lock screen to the login screen with the tap of your Spacebar key or the spin of the mouse wheel.


Press the Home or End keys to jump from one end of your Start screen to the other. Spin the mouse wheel to scroll the screen forward and backward. Use the cursor keys to move to a particular tile. Tap Enter to select it. Double click a tile to launch the app. Press the Windows key to return to the Metro screen. Right-click apps you don't need and select Unpin to remove them.  Drag and drop the other tiles around to organize them as you like.
To find all your installed apps, hold down the Windows key and press Q (or right-click an empty part of the Start screen and select All Apps).You can use the horizontal scroll bar now. Browse the various tiles to find what you need and click the relevant app to launch it.
A text based Start menu can be accessed with a right-click in the bottom left corner (or hold down the Windows key and press X) which provides easy access to lots of useful applets and features: Device Manager, Control Panel, Explorer, the Search dialog and more.


If you launch a Metro app, play with it for a while, then press the Windows key you'll switch back to the Start screen. Your app will remaining running.
Metro apps don't have close buttons, but this isn't the issue you might think. Apps are suspended when you switch to something else so they're only a very minimal drain on your system, and if you need the system resources then they'll automatically be shut down. (Their context will be saved, of course, so on relaunching they'll carry on where you left off.)
If you want to close down an app anyway, though, move the mouse cursor up to the top of the screen. When it turns from the regular mouse pointer to the icon of a hand, hold down the left mouse button and drag it down the screen. Your app should shrink to a thumbnail which you can drag off the screen to close it. If that's too much hassle then simply pressing Alt+F4 still works. 
And when all else fails then press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to launch Task Manager, right-click something in the Apps list and select End Task. Beware, though, close something you shouldn't and it's easy to crash or lock up your PC. 


Wonder how to shut down the system? Just move the mouse cursor to the bottom right corner of the screen, click the Settings icon - or just hold down the Windows key and press I - and you'll see a power button. Click this and choose "Shut down" or "Restart". 
Some of the tricks available in previous versions of Windows still apply. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del, for instance, click the power button in the bottom right-hand corner and you'll be presented with the same "Shut down" and "Restart" options. And if you're on the desktop, press Alt+F4 and you'll be able to choose Shut Down, Restart, Sign Out or Switch User options.

Can’t-touch users! Improve your productivity with Windows 8

Navigate easily - Group together your applications

The Start screen apps are initially displayed in a fairly random order, but if you'd prefer a more organized life then it's easy to sort them into custom groups.
E.g. You might drag People, Mail, Messaging and Calendar over to the left-hand side to form a separate "People" group. Click the magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the screen to carry out a "semantic zoom", and you'll now find you can drag and drop the new group (or any of the others) around as a block.
Right-click within the block (while still in the semantic zoom view) and you'll also be able to give the group a name, which - if you go on to add another 20 or 30 apps to your Start screen - will make it much easier to find the tools you need.

Access quickly - Push-pin your app to the Start screen

If there's an application you use all the time, you don't have to access it via the search system. Start by typing part of the name of your application.
E.g., type Control. Right-click the "Control Panel" tile on the Apps Search screen, and click "Pin to Start".
Now press the Windows key, scroll to the right and you'll see the Control Panel tile at the far end. Drag and drop this over to the left somewhere if you'd like it more easily accessible, then click the tile to open the desktop along with the Control Panel window, and press the Windows key to return you to the Start screen when you've done.

Become versatile - Run two apps side by side

Metro apps are what Microsoft call "immersive" applications, which basically means they run full-screen - but there is a way to view two at once.
if you're using a keyboard, use Win+. (period) to snap an app to the right, or Win+Shift+. (period) to snap to the left. (Whatever the interface, you can't snap apps unless your screen resolution is at least 1366 x 768.)
E.g. Launch the Map applet and press Win+. (period). Then switch back to the Start screen and launch your desktop. And now you have a live, scrolling Map applet on the right side of your screen which is effectively working as a desktop sidebar, and you can access simply by moving the mouse there and clicking on it. If you need more space then drag the separator to the left and the desktop will shrink to a left-hand sidebar, but both apps remain active and working, so you can use Metro and regular desktop tools side by side.

Save your time – save a screen shot automatically

If a Metro application is showing something interesting and you'd like to record it for posterity, then hold down the Windows key, press PrtSc, and the image won't just go to the clipboard: it'll also be automatically saved to your My Pictures folder with the name Screenshot.png (and then Screenshot(1).png, Screenshot(2).png and so on). The earlier Win+Alt+PrtSc won’t work anymore.

Find Settings information faster – Smart search your way

If you'd like to know what's new in the area of storage, say, just press Win+W to launch the Settings Search dialog, type drive , and the system will return a host of related options. That is, not just those with "drive" in the name, but anything storage-related: BitLocker, Device Manager, backup tools, disk cleanup, and interesting new features like Storage Spaces. 
This Search feature isn't new, of course, but it's easy to forget how useful this can be, especially when you're trying to learn about a new operating system. So don't just carry out specific searches, use the Apps search to look for general keywords such as "privacy" or "performance", and you just might discover something new.

More Realestate on the MS Office Screen!

​Have you ever thought "if only I could have more space on the screen to work in MS office apps - Word / Excel / PowerPoint!" Do you consider the Ribbon Interface an encroachment, occupying more space on your screen, sapping your productivity?

Do not worry!

Just double click on one of the tabs of the Ribbon. The Ribbon disappears leaving behind only the tab names and you can see more working space for your document or worksheet or your slide. (Office 2010 also helps you do this by clicking on the carat icon close by the Help (question mark) icon).

You can continue to work in your current file until you are in need of a command on the ribbon for a mouse click . All you need to do now is to click on of the tab names and the ribbon displays the respective commands for you temporarily.

If you want the ribbon commands to be displayed permanently as in the beginning, then a double click on one of the tab names will do this. (Office 2010 user - click on the inverted carat icon again

I came across a 2007 user who had hidden the ribbon permanently with a double click on one of the tabs unknowingly and had kept wondering what to do to acces the ribbon commands or display the ribbon permanently again. As a result, she just avoided using the Office 2007 applications as much as she could. When I told her of the double click trick, she was quiet relieved.

Three Danger Zones of Virtualization

​In the area of virtualisation, three general risk areas have been identified.

The first revolves around traditional security risk areas. These risks affect both virtual and physical machines. Virtual software layers expand the potential attack surface for targeted malware and breach attempts. In some cases, a malware-infested virtual machine can be introduced to attack a network from within. The risks of data loss also increase with virtualisation. With the creation of virtual networks, more confidential data is located at more areas both inside and outside of the organisation. Virtual machines can also suffer from gaps in the security updates and patching process. Furthermore, traditional protection models can also fail to track the fluidity of virtual instances, thereby leaving open gaps for intrusions.

The second consists of risks exclusive to virtual environments. Accelerated provisioning may enable organisations to provision and run new services much more rapidly, but it gives little time to identify and address security risks. Moreover, sensitive data previously restricted to certain trust domains can now reside beside other data on host systems, increasing the risk of data loss. Virtual networks also add new layers of complexity due to the dynamic movements of virtual machines, as well as more workload interactions, administrative and user access points. This decreases virtual machine visibility.
The third area concerns hybrid environments. With quick provisioning and dynamically mobile workloads, these environments are incredibly susceptible to threats. Advanced security threats can deploy techniques such as drive-by downloads, zero-day vulnerability exploits and rootkits to attack virtual machines. Applications are also distributed across physical and virtual environments, resulting in many pieces of code across multiple platforms. Visibility is also lost in the complexity of adopting IT managed services and Infrastructure-as-a-Service outsourcing services
- Securing the promise of Virtualization
A Symantec/VMware Position Paper

Link your cell values for automatic update

While working in Excel, we come across a situation where we want to display the content of one or more cells at a different place - in the same worksheet, a different worksheet in the same work book or in a different workbook altogether. We usually copy-paste these values from the source to the target. But when the values in the source change, then, we are bound to update them manually. Now, we have this challenge taken care of by Excel in 2010.

If we want the value in the source to reflect in the target cells realtime, then, while pasting the selection, we need to choose "Link" option in "Paste Special". Thereafter, any changes in the source cells will immediately reflect in the target cells. If the link is pasted in another workbook, and if the target workbook is not open at the time of change, then, when the respective workbook with the link is opened the next time, Excel will update the results in the target cells when you "Enable Content" - the command appearing at the top of the workbook.

You can have as many links created this way between workbooks but be careful enough not to change the original location of the workbooks that are linked.

All linked workbooks need to be saved with a specific name to enable the links.

This is a real time saver!

Fit your Excel sheet columns in one click!

​Are you puzzled how to fit the column width of your excel sheet columns that contain information that vary in their width? Very easy... Just select those columns at the column names (A, B, C etc). Go to the column seperators (at the top near the A or B or C or any of the included columns) and when a two-pointed arrow (pointing to the left and the right) appears, double click. Hey! your work is done.

You can also fit the width of even a single column using this "Autofit" feature.

Readymade Macro to display Keyboard Shortcuts in Word

Do you want a document that contains all the keyboard shortcuts available in Word?

There is a macro available in Word that will give you this document.
Go to the “View” tab and under Macros -> View Macros, search for ListCommands after choosing “Word commands” in the “Macros in:” dropdown box.

Run this macro. Choose “Current keyboard settings” radio button.
You will see the macro generating a complete document with all the keyboard shortcuts.
(N.B. Practice the shortcuts, at least a few at a time, so that you will become thorough with the shortcuts.)

Scroll Together Two Pages to Identify Changes

I was working with two documents that looked identical - the content and the formatting. But I wanted to make sure whether they are one and the same. Would Word 2010 help me do this easily?

Yes, there is help available!

I had both my documents open. Then,under the View tab, I clicked "View Side by Side". And I started scrolling. Both these documents started scrolling together in a synchronised fashion! Now, I was able to compare the documents.

This can also be used to verify whether two different parts of the two documents are identical or not. All I need to do is to switch off the "Synchronous scrolling" option close by the "View side by side" option in one document and then move to the specific portion of the document that needs to be compared. When the contents in both the windows look almost alike, I will switch on the "Synchronous scrolling" option. Now, both the documents scroll together.

We can do the same even if we want to check two different parts of the same document. It will still work.

How many number of days have you walked on earth?

​Do you know how many days it has been since you started walking on this earth? (Make sure you subtract the days when you were, as a baby, being held by somebody or you were just crawling, from the result, if you want a more accurate answer)

Excel contains a function datedif() that will give you exactly this number. Here is how it is used...

Enter your birth date in cell A1

Choose another cell and enter the formula =DATEDIF(A1,TODAY(),"d").

You will see the number of days displayed in the cell.

You can also use "m" in the place of "d" for the number of months and "y" in the place of "d" for the number of years.

You can also find out the number of days you have put in your current company (or past), the number of days you were working on a certain project (Week ends, Sundays and holidays are included here) and the number of days you have known a certain person, or just the number of days between any two dates.

How many days has the Earth borne your weight so far?

Assign Offs for your staff scientifically!

If you are working in an organization that allows an off day during the week (apart from a Sunday which is a holiday, in most cases) and you want to assign offs for your staff, you might face a difficulty of choosing these off days for the staff if this assignment is done by you manually. There is also a complaint of favaouritism against you by the staff, some times. There is also the human tendency to repeat numbers in a certain sequence in such cases. As a result, you might also overload a day with many staff offs or underload a day with few staff offs. 

You can do a scientifical assignment of these offs using an excel function randbetween(). Here is how it is used...

RANDBETWEEN() function takes two arguments inside the brackets and then generates a random number.

If we assign 1 for Sunday, 2 for Monday and so on till Saturday is assigned 7, then we can make use of the random number generator.

We enter the names of staff in one column and place the function in the adjascent column. The formula in the cells would be =randbetween(1,8). You can place this formula in the cell at the top of the column that requires this Offs assignment information and then drag it till the last cell (or just a double click from the bottom right corner of the first cell). Now, all 2s stand for Monday off, 3s for Tuesday off and so on.