I don’t know if these tips are useful or stating the blinkin’ obvious. But I’ve used them a few times over the past couple of weeks so figured I may as well share, just in case…

Keeping your Messenger status as offline when you are online

If you use MSN/Live Messenger for instant messaging and presence status (automatically shows when you are online/offline/busy etc.) sometimes you might want to remain offline even when you are online.

You can select ‘appear offline’ within Messenger but, maybe it’s just me, when my computer is first connected to an Internet connection, Messenger will immediately start trying to connect. In otherwords, I’ve already appeared online by the time I want to select offline.

There is a simple solution:

  • Before your computer is connected to an Internet connection, open Internet Explorer (IE – you have to use IE for this, not Firefox or others)
  • From the File menu, select Work Offline
  • That’s it, you’re done!

It seems that Messenger relies on IE to detect network status – if IE is offline, Messenger stays offline.

There is one side effect. If you still want to browse the Internet, you have to use a different web browser. I use Firefox. And don’t forget to change the settings if you ever want to appear online again (back to the File menu in IE, and click on Work Offline to turn the setting off).

Opening DOCX files

Microsoft has released a new version of Office – Office 2007 – and has changed the file formats. If you are using an older version of Office, you will not be able to open documents created in the new version. There are two solutions:

1. Download the Office Compatibility pack

The Office Compatibility pack enables older versions – specifically Office 2003 and OfficeXP – to open, edit and save documents in the new file format.

– or –

2. Open the file anyway

From the Office Compatibility web page, if you are using an even older version of Office, you will helpfully be told:

Office 2000 users, as well as users of Windows 2000 SP4 and later, can convert Open XML Formats to binary file formats from within Windows Explorer.

Not quite sure what that means exactly, but if you haven’t/can’t/won’t download the add-on, here’s the alternative way to open Office 2007 docs. This method isn’t pretty and is really for just reading the docs, but it works:

Take an example document – helloworld.docx (.docx indicates the new Office 2007 file format)

  • Rename the file from ‘helloworld.docx’ to ‘helloworld.zip’
  • Open the newly named .zip file using WinZip or similar file-extraction tool
  • Select the file called ‘document.xml’ and read (by default, it will open in a browser, alternatively use Notepad – found in Start All Programs Accessories)

‘document.xml’ contains the actual content of the file, the other bits and pieces contain all the formatting. You’ll get a bunch of XML tags as well, but the content will be in bold and quite easy to locate.

%d bloggers like this: