Archive for June, 2011

Print process – FinePrint

I’ve been doing clever stuff with Word this last ten days that I’ve not done before. Well, not quite true. I was – 20 years ago! And it’s depressing how advanved Word 2010 is *not* compared to Wordstar.

First up I needed to write a letter to 250 of my customers. The names and addresses are all in a database, so I thought, quick mailmerge.

Well, I had the letter drafted in half an hour and I dropped in the Contact name, Company name, Address, etc., and ran a preview merge. And saw honking great gaps in the address. When an address field is blank, it doesn’t close up.  I daresay there’s an option to do it somewhere but it wasn’t as simple as clicking on the field and setting a “don’t print if blank” option from a flyout menu. That would be modern and trendy.

Then I found the “Address Block” variable. Ah – this seemed to do what I wanted. Only after the first batch of letters was folded and sstamped and in the post did my associate notice that the “City” name was missing.  This eventually turned out to be because Word naturally assumes your data will be Addr1, Addr2, City, State, Zip., where we had Addr1, Addr2, Addr3, Addr4, Postcode. It had worked out for itself that “postcode” was good for “zip” but for some reason had made NO such assumption about “Addr3” and “Addr4”.  But I finally, at least, found a way to tell it so it’ll work next time.

Today, I needed to print out the newsletter for our 4×4 Response Group. I’ve been sent an 8 page Word document. No sweat. Power up the colour laser, click Print… OK, I can print Odd Number Pages, then Even Number Pages. But like most modern printers my laser prints documents in “normal” reading order, and doesn’t offer a “print in reverse” option. So I’d get Page 8 on the back of Page 1, Page 6 on the back of Page 3, etc.

Ah – there’s a “manual duplex” check-box. I check it. I print one copy (hey, been burned before). Sure enough it prints pages 1, 3, 5 and 7. It tells me to take the output stack and feed it back in. Click OK. Ah, it says it’s printing 2, 4, 6 and 8 but surely it’s smart enough to be sending them out backwards….. Nope, it’s done exactly the same as if I’d used the Odd Numbers / Even Numbers options. Bin that. Good job it’s paper recycle collection day tomorrow.

So Liz tells me her HP inkjet has an option in the driver to do duplex, it tells you when to feed the output stack back in, how to orient it… and I find so does mine! Except taht it doesn’t bother to stop for you to flip the stack so you get another supply for the recyle man.

So, FinePrint to the rescue.  This is a fabulous little utility that I’ve been using for abotu ten years. It has saved a fortune in pre-printed letterhead. I just buy plain paper (better quality for letters, but still plain) and the output from Word, or our invoicing system, or, whatever, goes to FP which adds our letterhead, or my personal letterhead, or, lately, cleverer stuff like a direct debit mandate form with required logos, etc., in the right place, then sends the combined document to the printer.

I tend to forget it can do other things too. I had remembered taht it could print a document two- or more pages on a page, so compress an A4 so it prints as 2xA5 documents per page. IN fact we used to use this to print file copie of our invoices four to a page to save paper and toner (now we don’t print file copies – we keep the data, we can pritn them on demand).  One neat trick is “boolket”. It prints a couple of test pages andf asks me which way they came out, so it learns how my printer works. Then it does just what both Word and the HP driver’s built in s/w failed to do – prints the top of each page, then, the right way around and in the correct order, prints the backs, all I have to do is fold them up and hand them out!

So – my tip for the day, whatever you print, check out FinePrint.

Sync that Android

Having an HTC Android phone has lots of good points. But one of the things which constantly has me tearing at what remains of my hair is trying to sync the data with my PC.

I even switched from my old mail system to using MS Outlook to avoid any possible issues of compatibility with “less popular” software.

The problem, as I’m sure more than a few of you know, is that you plug the phone in, you select “Sync” on the phone, and then, after a delay, it says “can’t find HTC Sync on your PC. Would you like to install it?” And, of course you know HTC Sync is not only installed but is running.

Thing is, it *isn’t* running, not any more. It might’ve been last time you synced half an hour ago or last week, but not any more.

Well I think I’ve found a trick to make it work, without having to totally reboot the machine. Especially these days, with XP or Windows 7, unlike the bad old days, you don’t HAVE to reboot windows every day, and, in fact, I get cross if something makes me reboot it more often than once every couple of months.

Here’s the trick. Please let me know if it works for you, or if you find a quicker way.

  • Unplug the phone from the PC
  • Close the HTC Sync app
  • Using Task Manager, kill the process called CapabilityManager.exe
  • Similarly kill the process called ClientInitiatedStarter.exe
  • Finally, kill the process called FsynSrvStarter.exe
  • Now close task manager.
  • Re-start HTC Sync from the Start menu (or your desktop icon) in the normal way.
  • Connect the phone, and tell it to sync.
  • Cheer. For it will work. I hope…

I shall experiment further and find out if the trick can be accomplished by killing just one of these modules, coz I assume it’s a bug in one of them that causes the problem.

It’s a pity HTC wont’ admit to the existance of the problem and fix it. (Well, I say they won’t, I can’t find any reference to it on their website, FAQ list, etc.)