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Windows XP East Asian Languages without CD

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After surviving more than a year on my work computer where East Asian Languages are not by default installed (and thus I only see squares instead of e.g. Chinese words) I decided to do something about it. In Control Panel > Regional and Language Options the solution is just a tickbox away, the problem is that the Windows XP Installation Disk is usually needed to get the appropriate files. Unless these files are already save on the PC (usually in C:\I386 or similar). The obvious solution would have been bringing a Windows XP CD from home, which I regularly forgot... This page then did it.


Last Updated on Friday, 08 February 2013 21:51

Goodbye Kodak Gallery

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Kodak Gallery, one of the once not so many "free" photo storage services, is closing down start of July. A piece of my digital life for me as it brings back memories of using it 6-7 years ago before I even signed up for a Gmail account (how could I live back then without Gmail and Picasa? In fact I did...). But seriously, how does the closure of a web service (yes Picasa could close too) relate to other examples from our "real" life? The closure of a shop down the road where we used to go when our mums told us so, that bike shops where I got my first bike. It certainly has something in common. For example the fact that as much we may look at it sentimentally it is usually better services that replace and push the older ones aside. More choice, freedom and customisation possibilities. My photos on kodakgallery.com all got deleted way before they decided to close the service. Reason was, a purchase was required once a year or so, in order to keep the account (and the photos) alive. Sure no other photo storage service will survive nowadays with such a requirement. The web has changed as much as the world, the real world, does and it is no surprise that shops are closed down and replaced. I still like to go to small shops and I hope some of them will survive, but they too have to change, find their own ways to survive by providing what other stores are incapable of. This is after all how history has evolved, only it has now dramatically accelerated, and this is for some people good enough a reason to cry about how good the world was sixty years ago.


BCD - A different kind of binaries

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Decimal "08" gets coded in binary as "0000 1000", that's because the hexadecimal representation of the number is also "08".


Decimal "39" does not get coded as "0011 1001", because its hexadecimal representation is "27" (thus binary "0010 0111").

There is however a coding system called BCD (Binary Coded Decimal) which would code "39" exactly as "0011 1001". In other words BCD does with decimals what you'd normally do with hexadecimals, i.e. take each digit and "translate" it to a half-a-byte (a nibble) binary number. As only values from 0 to 9 can be represented by a decimal digit, only binary values from 0000 to 1001 can be "translated" (1010 to 1111 remain unused).

While this is mostly a relict of "old times" there are still areas where BCD is used. A good example are digital clocks, since some chips translate directly binary digits into 0-9 digits, without having to worry about characters like A-F, which would be present if translating to hexadecimals. Or, and that is how I learned about the existence of BCD, in some digital controls for lighting devices (DALI standard).

This topic on Wikipedia.


A macro to un-mess Excel comments

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Ever experienced having tens of comments in Excel and finding they are all over the place (e.g. because you resized/added/removed cells)? I was quite sure there must be a better way and someone already did a macro to "fix" this... so here it is, I found this originally posted at this blog and allowed myself to copy and paste it (if you are the author and you want credits please let me know!).

All you need to do is:

  1. Add a macro to your spreadsheet (not "record a macro")
  2. In the VBA editor that opens paste the following code
  3. Optionally create a shortcut to the macro so that you can invoke it easily (else can run it from menu when needed)

This macro will place all of your comments back to where they belong (next to the cell they refer to).

Note: If you are trying to find a way to move comments on the sheet where you would like them to be... that's a different story. It does not seem to be possible!

Sub CommentFix()

' This macro modifies all comments in all open workbooks to:
' (1) move and size with cells
' (2) be physically positioned near the cell to which they correspond
' (3) be optimally sized appropriate to the text within
' This macro was created by combining code posted on the following website:
' http://www.contextures.com/xlcomments03.html

Dim thisfile As Workbook
Set thisfile = ActiveWorkbook
Dim MyWorkbook As Workbook
Dim MySheet As Worksheet
Dim MyComment As Comment
Dim CommentCount As Long
Dim lArea As Long
Dim fixed As Boolean
fixed = False
On Error GoTo NeedToUnprotect
For Each MyWorkbook In Workbooks
For Each MySheet In MyWorkbook.Sheets
CommentCount = 0
For Each MyComment In MySheet.Comments
With MyComment.Shape
.Placement = xlMoveAndSize
.Top = MyComment.Parent.Top + 5
.Left = MyComment.Parent.Offset(0, 1).Left + 5
.TextFrame.Characters.Font.Name = "Tahoma"
.TextFrame.Characters.Font.Size = 8
.TextFrame.AutoSize = True
CommentCount = CommentCount + 1
End With
If MyComment.Shape.Width > 300 Then
lArea = MyComment.Shape.Width * MyComment.Shape.Height
MyComment.Shape.Width = 200
MyComment.Shape.Height = (lArea / 200) * 1.1
End If
Next MyComment
If CommentCount > 0 Then
MsgBox ("A total of " & CommentCount & " comments in worksheet '" & MySheet.Name & "' of workbook '" & MyWorkbook.Name & "'" & Chr(13) & "were repositioned and resized.")
fixed = True
End If
Next MySheet
Next MyWorkbook
If fixed = False Then
MsgBox ("No comments were detected.")
End If
On Error GoTo 0
Exit Sub

MsgBox ("You must unprotect all worksheets before running the macro.")
Exit Sub

End Sub



Why I don't like multiprocess browsers

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Ok, what does that title mean? I am talking about what Google Chrome and recent versions of Internet Explorer do, namely they treat each tab as a separate process from the OS point of view. Instead of launching one big process that contains all the tabs we currently have open in our browser, they launch a new process for each tab. This has the great advantage that crashing a tab does not mean crashing the entire browser. And that is in my opinion a good thing, but not a definite advantage in usability.

Now, how often does a webpage cause the browser to crash? Fairly often, but not that often. And how often do I need to open a new tab? Very often. The thing is, with overloaded or not so fast PCs (Win 7 could contribute here...) it takes some time to launch a new process. This does not mean minutes and even not seconds, but that fraction of a second (ok, saying one second is not a stretch) that makes you forget what you were going to do with your new tab (google something most likely).

Last but not least, closing a browser with 10 tabs open (that's often an underestimation) means shutting down 10 application, from the OS point of view. That will not take minutes, but several seconds is a good estimate, even on fast machines. Firefox with "show previous session" option enabled loads and "unloads" ten tabs in a matter of seconds (not many) especially when it's run on something else than Windows (e.g. Linux...)


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