April 30, 2008

Add sounds to your Access form events

Date: April 29th, 2008

Author: Mary Ann Richardson

Would you like a sound to play each time a user opens or closes a form or clicks on a form control? Access lets you play a sound for any form event. For example, to have a sound play when a form is opened, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Form in Design View.
  2. Press Alt + F11.
  3. Go to View | Project Explorer.
  4. Insert | New Module.
  5. Enter this code at the prompt:

Declare Function apisndPlaySound Lib "winmm" Alias "sndPlaySoundA" (ByVal filename As String, ByVal snd_async As Long) As Long Function Playsound(sWavFile As String) 'Purpose: Plays a sound. 'Argument: the fu11 path and file name. If apisndPlaySound(sWavFile, 1) = 0 Then MsgBox "The Sound Did Not Play!" End If End Function

  1. Press Alt + Q.
  2. On the form’s Property sheet, click in the OnOpen event box on the Event tab.

  1. Click the Build button and then enter the code below at the prompt. (Be sure to use the full pathname to your sound file.)
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Playsound ("C:I386Chimes.wav")

  1. Press Alt + Q.
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April 29, 2008

Low Light Photography

There is no photography without light! If your subject isn’t illuminated properly, things could become difficult. But, if you have a SLR or DSLR camera, you can make low light conditions work for you in more ways than one. Below are a few ways you can make the most out of low light and night conditions. Let's check them out!

Get the Right Equipment

First of all, it's best to wear an all white T-shirt. That gives you white balance, especially when you're taking pictures in closed spaces or taking portraits. viagra fast delivery Your flash will hit your shirt and illuminate the subject in front of you. It will not only give you even lighting, but it will also save you the bother of creating your own white balance. Of course, you need a camera with at least two extra pairs of batteries and don’t forget your tripod! In addition, it's best to go for a remote shutter release or a self-timer, because when you're using long shutter speeds, you could shake the camera and end up with blurred images.

White Balance

Low light photography can be quite exciting! On the other hand, your images could end up looking a bit surreal. By that, I mean the artificial look that comes in varying colors like tungsten, halogen and fluorescent. The best way to give your pictures a realistic setting is to keep tweaking your white balance. Trial and error is the only way to minimize the damage caused by those artificial color casts.

Aperture is Everything

The larger the aperture, the faster your shutter speed will be. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the sensor becomes to light and vice versa. And that brings us right to the essence of low light photography: longer exposure times. To increase your exposure times (longer shutter speeds), you will need to decrease the aperture. The smaller the aperture, the longer the exposure times become and the more depth of field your images will have.

Test Shots

Start by setting the ISO to 100 and the aperture to about f22 or smaller. Depending on the light conditions, shoot three images at about five seconds, 10 seconds and 20 seconds. That usually gives you a good starting point to work from. Often times, you’re looking at shooting closer to 20 seconds or even longer, depending on the lighting. In very low light conditions, use the bulb setting on your camera. It allows you to keep the shutter open longer than the camera allows with its pre-set settings (usually about 30 seconds). While in the bulb mode, if you connect a shutter release cable, you can keep the shutter open even longer. If you're using a remote control, press once to open the shutter and once more to close it. Just remember that the longer the exposure time is, the more digital noise you’re likely to get, especially in the darker areas of your picture. Try shooting at sunset when there's still a small amount of light. Capture water moving back and forth over rocks with an exposure of about 10 seconds for some interesting results. Experiment with different white balance settings for even more interesting shots!

What to Shoot

You can shoot just about anything! From buildings to lights, signs, bridges, vehicles, houses, pubs, shops, people, street lighting, fireworks, bonfires, amusement parks and pool reflections, the possibilities are endless!

How to Calculate Exposures

Use your exposures as an indicative way of doing low light photography. Also, you need to remember to tweak the settings, depending on the circumstances and the subject. Assuming a shutter speed of f16 and an ISO of 100, that is how you could set your exposures. For example, town/city (20 seconds), signs/lights (2 seconds), streets (20 seconds), churches (30 seconds), fairgrounds (10 to 15 seconds), candlelight (60 seconds), fireworks (1 to 60 seconds) and so on.

Exposure Bracketing

This works beautifully in low light photography. Try over exposing and under exposing a photo. When you do that, you will get the precise shot in between the two extremes to get the photo you're looking for. For example, bright lights warrant you to underexpose. If you take an image of a scene at a four second exposure, take the same scene with eight seconds and two seconds. That way, you will likely get the exposure you're looking for!

Practice Makes Perfect

Low light photography is all about creativity and how you make the most of the available light. It could even be capturing trails of light that follow moving vehicles, people, signs, etc. The best thing to do is a lot of trial and error. That way, you could end up taking more than just one interesting picture of a landmark, person or thing. There's nothing like practice, patience and perseverance to get the best results!

Now, get out there, turn off the lights and start shooting!

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Sorting Data in Word

Have you ever found yourself wishing that a list you typed in MS Word could be alphabetized? Or, for those of you who are good with Excel, you're probably wondering why you didn't type it up in Excel in the first place (you know, where it's so easy to sort data).

Well, stop dwelling on the "should have, could have" stuff and smile. It's very easy to sort data in Word too!

Here's all you have to do!

The first thing is getting the list into Word, so go ahead and type away.

Note: If you want the list to be double spaced, you need to set the paragraph that way. Do not simply hit the Enter button twice! If you do, your list will become an editing nightmare and when the sorting is finished, it will put all of the blank spaces at the top of the list, leaving the data single spaced anyway.

Now that you've got the typing finished, let's move on.

Here's how you begin the sort (alphabetizing).

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Highlight the entire list.

In Word 2007, you'll need to locate the Sort button in the Paragraph section on the Home Ribbon.

For other versions of MS Word, you need to go to the Table menu, Sort choice.

In any event, the Sort Text dialogue window will open:

The default is set to Sort by Paragraphs, Type of Text, Ascending. That will make your list alphabetical A to Z. (Descending will reverse the list from Z to A).

At the bottom of the window, there's an option to tell the program your list has a header row (or title). If you highlighted a title with the data, you would use this option to prevent the program from sorting your title into the list. (In other words, the first row stays in place regardless of the first letter).

Click OK.

You will then be returned to the document and you should see your list in order.

Just like magic, everything is in its proper place!

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New Release: Foxit Reader 2.3

Are you one of the many who use Foxit Reader? You know, the great little program that handles all of your PDF needs! If so, I have great news for you. On April 25, 2008 (just this past Friday), the people over at Foxit released a brand new version of the popular PDF file viewer. That's right, Foxit Reader 2.3 was released and it is now available for download! And let me tell you, it comes jam packed with new features. Let's check it out!

From what I can see, the list of new features is quite lengthy, so I'm just going to give you a sneak peek, but if you want to see the list in full, you can do so right here. Okay, here are some of the new items you can find in Foxit Reader 2.3: a brand new bookmark design, multi-tab browsing, multimedia player support, a comment text tool, rulers and guides, a magnifier and even automatic scrolling. Wow, is that a good looking list or what?!

There are also several new enhanced features, including optimized rendering, search enhancement, better annotation control and font information. You can learn more about all of those on the Web site I gave you up above as well. If you haven't downloaded this new version yet, I have no idea what you're waiting for! It's too good to pass up, so to download Foxit Reader 2.3 viagra effects on women for yourself, just click here. Everything you need can be found right there. It's a quick install, so you'll be enjoying your new Foxit Reader in mere seconds. Get it today!

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April 28, 2008

How do I… Avoid e-mail spam using Outlook tools?

Date: April 22nd, 2008

Author: Susan Harkins

Nobody knows for sure how spam got its name, but we can all agree that we hate it. As more and more spam finds your Inbox, it’s harder to find legitimate mail. Regrettably, at least from the recipients’ point of view, it looks like spam is here to stay, but resistance does pay off. You can’t keep spammers from sending you e-mail, but you can make sure you don’t ever see it. You must take control of spam, because honestly, that’s all any of us can hope for at this point.

Where appropriate, this article provides instructions for Microsoft Outlook 2003, but these spam-fighting tips aren’t exclusive to Outlook. In addition, these tips are for individual users. Server administrators have more tools to choose from, including third-party filters, none of which I discuss in this article.

This blog post is also available in the PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Start with Outlook’s Junk E-mail folder

Outlook 2003 has a decent spam filter that downloads and filters spam into an existing folder named Junk E-mail. When the filter suspects a message is spam, Outlook downloads it directly into this folder instead of cluttering up your Inbox with it. Outlook enables this filter by default. If your filter is disabled, I recommend you turn it back on:

  • Choose Options from the Tools menu.
  • Click the Preferences tab if necessary
  • Click Junk E-mail in the e-mail section and deselect the first option, No Automatic Filtering, as shown in Figure A.
  • Click OK twice.

Figure A

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Enable Outlook 2003’s spam filter

This dialog box offers several options:

  • Select the Low option and you’ll still see spam in your Inbox.
  • Choose High to see little to none.
  • Check the Safe Lists Only option for a strict filter that downloads mail only from addresses in your contacts list. This drastic setting will definitely eliminate spam from your Inbox, but it’s too restrictive for most people.
  • Fight the temptation to check the option that deletes all spam because sometimes what Outlook thinks is spam isn’t spam at all.

Note: Make sure you check your Junk e-mail folder frequently for false negatives — messages that the filter incorrectly identifies as spam.

When you find a message in Junk E-mail that isn’t spam, right-click it and choose Mark As Not Junk from the resulting submenu, shown in Figure B. You can do the same with spam that makes it into your Inbox. Select the Add Sender To Blocked Senders List option and Outlook will automatically move the message to Junk E-mail.

Figure B

Let Outlook know when it makes a mistake

By default, Outlook considers everyone in your Contacts lists as safe. If you’re using Microsoft Exchange Server, you can’t automatically send messages from anyone in your organization to the Junk E-mail folder — nice try.

Immobilize Web beacons

A Web beacon is a linked image that your e-mail client retrieves when you download the message. Spammers use this trick to save money and to track which e-mail addresses retrieve the image. The simple act of downloading your e-mail lets a spammer know that your e-mail address is alive and well. Congratulations — you’ve won more spam!

Outlook 2003 doesn’t download images by default. If you’re currently downloading images, you can pull the plug on beacons as follows:

  • Choose Options from the Tools menu and then click the Security tab.
  • Click Change Automatic Download Settings in the Download Pictures section.
  • Check the Don’t Download Pictures Or Other Content Automatically In HTML E-mail option, as shown in Figure C.
  • You might want to check the Permit Downloads In E-mail Messages From Senders And To Recipients Defined In The Safe Senders And Safe Recipients List Used By The Junk E-mail Filter <phew> option. If you receive HTML newsletters and the like, selecting this option will allow Outlook to download them into your Inbox (or any personal folder you select using a rule).
  • Similarly, you might want to check the Permit Downloads From The Web Sites In This Security Zone: Trusted Zone option.
  • Click OK twice.

Figure C

Block graphic files in e-mail messages

In truth, the jury’s out on beacons. Not everyone agrees that they increase spam, but I don’t see the point in finding out. A neat side benefit is that your e-mail will download quicker.

Be proactive

Fighting spam might mean a change of habits and showing a bit of restraint. The following list applies to anyone who spends anytime online, not just Outlook users:

  • Don’t post your e-mail address on a Web site, a newsgroup, or any public forum. Spiders (special software that searches the Internet for e-mail addresses) are everywhere. If you must post your address, spell it out-for example, ssharkins at gmail dot com.
  • Don’t respond to spam. Let me repeat myself just in case you don’t understand: NEVER respond to spam. I know I’m wasting my time on this particular warning because if spam didn’t work, spam wouldn’t exist.
  • Don’t try to unsubscribe from a spam “list.” Most spam comes complete with a handy dandy, “If you don’t want anymore mail from us, just click this button…” option. Don’t click it! Doing so verifies that your address is alive and well and that a (probably) warm-blooded being is reading mail. They then sell your address to other spammers for a high price because they know you read your spam. Congratulations — you’ve just won more spam!
  • Don’t open attachments that come with spam.
  • Don’t click hyperlinks in spam.
  • Don’t post your personal e-mail address on your Web site (if you have one).
  • Don’t add your e-mail address to online directories at sites such as Bigfoot, Yahoo, InfoSpace, and so on.
  • Don’t sign online guest books.
  • Don’t respond to spam with an irate message. I don’t care how offended you are by the content, responding only verifies your e-mail. Congratulations — you’ve just won more spam!
  • Don’t enter your e-mail address at any Internet site until you read the site’s privacy options. If you backtrack for any reason, be sure to check all those privacy options because most likely, the page will clear them — as a convenience to you of course.

That last one’s tricky because most of us use the Internet to shop, to research, and so on. Even when a site promises not to sell your information, it might. Go ahead and sign up for all those free samples, but be prepared for the spam avalanche. If you believe that someone has maliciously violated their own privacy agreement, report them to their host service provider.

Perhaps the easiest way to deal with spam is to use a free e-mail account for your Internet browsing and purchasing. Give your personal e-mail address to only the most trusted people, such as family, colleagues, and friends. Outlook doesn’t care how many e-mail accounts you have. Use a rule to download incoming messages by sender into appropriate personal folders to keep all that mail organized and to reduce the risk of important messages going astray.

Most free e-mail account providers have intense spam filters that do a good job. Enable the filter and very little spam will make it into your Inbox. However, I recommend that you visit their site frequently to check your account’s spam folder, just in case. My Gmail account filtered a response from a potential client into my spam folder. I didn’t find it for days and just assumed the client wasn’t interested. When I didn’t respond, the client thought I wasn’t interested.

Several companies provide free e-mail accounts these days. I use Gmail, but there are others, such as Yahoo and Hotmail. Consider using several free accounts. For instance, you might use one for technical newsletters, one for making purchases, one for signing up for free samples, and so on.

The down side to these free accounts is that the spammers will find it quicker than you can share it. Three days after signing up for Gmail, I had over 100 spam messages in my spam folder. On the average, I now receive around 100 a day, but Gmail’s spam filter catches them all.

Spam be gone!

It would be nice if you could wave a magic wand, mutter a few words, and never receive spam again. That’s just not going to happen. The simplest way to avoid spam is to close your door to it. That sounds simple enough, but you already know that it isn’t. There are two things you can do fight the surge: First, let Outlook do its job and filter spam out of sight; second, don’t spread your e-mail address all over the Internet.

Susan Sales Harkins is an independent consultant and the author of several articles and books on database technologies. Her most recent book is “Mastering Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express,” with Mike Gunderloy, published by Sybex. Other collaborations with Mike Gunderloy are “Automating Microsoft Access 2003 with VBA,” “Upgrader’s Guide to Microsoft Office System 2003,” “ICDL Exam Cram 2,” and “Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Microsoft Access 2003″ all by Que. Currently, Susan volunteers as the Publications Director for Database Advisors at http://www.databaseadvisors.com. You can reach her at ssharkins@Gmail.com.

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