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Mysteriously Moving Margins in Word

In Microsoft Word 2008 (and older versions), if you put your cursor in a paragraph and then move a tab or indent marker in the ruler, the change applies to just that paragraph. If your markers are closely spaced, you may have trouble grabbing the right one, and inadvertently work with tabs when you want to work with indents, or vice-versa. The solution is to hover your mouse over the marker until a yellow tooltip confirms which element you're about to drag.

I recently came to appreciate the importance of waiting for those tooltips: a document mysteriously reset its margins several times while I was under deadline pressure, causing a variety of problems. After several hours of puzzlement, I had my "doh!" moment: I had been dragging a margin marker when I thought I was dragging an indent marker.

When it comes to moving markers in the Word ruler, the moral of the story is always to hover, read, and only then drag.

 
 

VCR Backups

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I'm sure many people have thought of doing disk backups to a VCR tape, particularly the poorer crowd that can't afford all sorts of snazzy backup hardware. I know I thought of doing it several years ago, but gave up because I couldn't find information on how. That was before I knew how to navigate the nets. Well, someone else has realized that a VCR is basically a big, dumb, slow tape drive. The trick is figuring out how to hook your computer to your VCR - those little RCA plugs that connect to your stereo won't cut it.

The net people produced information on a product that allows you to do this. It's called Videotrax from a company called Alpha Micro. Videotrax is a combination of an external SCSI controller and software that provides basic backup features and talks to the controller. It's not terribly expensive, at $499 or $1299 if you want the special Videotrax VCR that does automatic backups as well. Unfortunately, it's not a lot cheaper than the no-name SyQuest drives. Videotrax saves 80 meg on a normal cassette, which is better than a standard SyQuest's 42 meg, but a good backup program like Retrospect or MacTools Backup can come close to 80 meg of original data with file compression.

I've heard that using a VCR to backup computer data is relatively dangerous in that videocassettes and VCRs aren't designed to the exacting specifications that computer equipment must to work at. A single bit of data doesn't make the slightest difference in displaying an image on the TV screen, but it could destroy a file. I had a similar idea about converting a cheap audio CD player into a CD-ROM drive, and was told basically the same thing - a skipped bit in music is nothing, but a skipped bit in your program is fatal. This low level of accuracy might be a reason why we aren't all using the Videotrax, because otherwise it's a good idea subject to a few logistical problems, such as the separate locations of my VCR and computer. Details, mere details.

Alpha Micro -- 800/253-3434 or 800/821-0612 in CA (old #)

Information from:
David Elliott -- dce@smsc.sony.com
John Kratochvil -- moebius@mofh
Ted Morris -- morris@ucunix.SAN.UC.EDU
Mark H. Anbinder -- mha@memory.uucp

 

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