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I just added a new section to the site on robotics resources.  Really a group of links to various robotics resources, mostly focusing on the Lego NXT and Tetrix lines and NXT-G and ROBOTC programming tools.

STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is the focus of industry today.  Folks planning to enter the workforce need to have some exposure to STEM subjects in order to be as successful as possible.  Robotics is an excellent vehicle for delivering STEM training to students who enjoy building and designing new an innovative things.

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An issue that comes up often with folks who make the transition from Word 2003 to a newer edition is the display of the page.  It is irksome to those who use screen magnification technology because the newer “Normal View” is actually Print Layout View.  In the 2003 and earlier editions of Microsoft Word, the Draft View was the Normal view, which stretched the display of the page across the entire application window.  Print Layout displays the page as it will appear when printed, so the display isn’t stretched across the entire window and a large border, representing the workspace area behind the page, appears around the edges of the page.  This is especially evident on wide screen displays.

For those who long for the “Normal” view that was the standard with Office from the beginning up until 2007, it’s easy enough to switch views.

The first few controls on the View Tab in Word 2007 and 2010 allow for adjusting the displayed view.  For keyboard navigators, Alt, W, E will switch to the Draft View, the old Normal View.  Alt, W, P will switch back to the Print Layout View, the new Normal View in Word 2007 and 2010.

Categories : Robotics, STEM, Uncategorized
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I teach Microsoft Word every day, and no question comes up more since the release of Office 2007 than, “Why is the Normal style double spaced?”  The change in the Normal style appears to be sticking around as Word 2010 uses this style as it’s default, as well.  So why did Microsoft make this change that makes it difficult to use our old label templates and to create basic lists without bullets?  More importantly, is there a way to revert back to the old style and claim it as “Normal?”

At first I had thought the the style change was due to Microsoft’s bent to move to universal, web formatted document styles.  This does not seem to be the case, though.  For some proof, here’s a quote from the Microsoft Office site.

Microsoft Office Word 2007 introduces a newly designed default template for creating documents.

The new template uses fonts that were designed with readability in mind. According to a blog that was active during Word 2007 development, “the new fonts used in Word are based on the ClearType technology that provides a crisper, more easily read display of the fonts on most modern monitors.” Calibri is the new default font for body text, and “to complement the look of Calibri, Cambria was selected for use in headings.”

The default template for creating new documents in Word 2007 also uses “looser” line spacing and introduces extra space between paragraphs. The looser line spacing is actually only 15 percent greater than single spacing (it is not double spacing, or even 1.5 line spacing). Its purpose is to introduce more white space in blocks of text, which makes the text easier to read.

Because many Word users press ENTER twice after every paragraph, the Word 2007 default settings build in that extra space. Customers need to press ENTER only one time to add space between paragraphs.

Really, Microsoft?  On days where I’ve had to spend time selecting text and choosing,
“No Spacing”, only to have to go back and reformat again certainly has saved lots of time since I no longer have to double space between paragraphs.  Actually, if i’d thought ahead and selected the “Word 2003” style, I’d have saved myself a lot of trouble.  But nonetheless, I’ve met nobody who’s said that they were glad this change was made because their documents weren’t readable nor especially because they were tired of hitting the Enter key twice after each paragraph.  Further, it may not be more than 15 percent but it sure looks like a lot more to me.  With the choice of 11 point Calibri font instead of something larger, as used to be the case, the gaps between lines and paragraphs appear even bigger.

There is an easy way in Office 2007 and 2010 to choose to use the Word 2003 style as the default style.

  1. Open a new document in Microsoft Word 2007 or Word 2010.
  2. From the Home tab, select Change Styles.  You can use key commands to do this; Alt, H, G, Y.
  3. Select Office 2003 from the list.  You can use the mouse to click on it or use the up and down arrow keys to scroll to it and press Enter to choose it.
  4. Now, go back to the Change Styles control and choose “Set as Default” to set this as your default style.  Alt, H, G, S.
  5. Enjoy!  Remember, switching back to the Office 2007 or Office 2010 format, is just as easily accomplished.
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XBox Project Natal

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This BBC video, hosted by Lionhead Studios’ Peter Molyneux, demonstrates some of the astounding possibilities of Microsoft’s interactive system called Natal.  Although it seems a bit too polished and scripted to be what one might expect out of the box, it does demonstrate the direction in which gaming, and all of technology aspires to move.  Enjoy!

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New Blog Location

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I am moving my blog here.  This will allow for greater flexibility.

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Here’s a satellite view of Hampton Ct Palace, East Molesey, KT8 9AU, United Kingdom, where I had my phone booth picture taken. The booth was just outside the gate, under the bushy tree directly to the right of the triangle just before the traffic circle. The restaurant along the river is where Suzy and I ate lunch just before returning to London.

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Minneapolis, Minnesota – January 27, 2009

Serotek Corporation, the leading provider of internet and digital information accessibility software and services, will launch a new online radio station this week. The station is called SAMNet Radio and can be heard from The name of the station is derived from Serotek’s online community, the System Access Mobile Network, or SAMNet. SAMNet Radio will air the best music of the last 40 years, the latest technology news, live and interactive voice chats, and a portal for all to know what is happening in the SAMNet community. Directed at an audience who is blind or has low vision, SAMNet Radio’s slogan is “Your station, your community.” The station’s manager is Michael Lauf, former creator, host and producer of HandiTalk, the first interactive internet radio program to discuss the needs of the blind and visually impaired. “I’m excited to oversee a radio station that specializes in the needs and interests of the visually impaired community,” said Michael Lauf, SAMNet Radio station manager, “The combination of music, home-grown podcasts, access technology news and interviews, and interactive talk shows, all on one radio station, will make us like no other entity in the world.”

The inaugural broadcast will stream live on Wednesday, January 28, from the Internet Café of the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) annual conference in Orlando, Florida. Those unable to attend ATIA can hear what is happening at the event and stay abreast of news announced at the show. Reactions to the first broadcast will also be discussed during the next installment of Serotalk, Serotek’s podcast and interactive blog. For more information about Serotalk, visit To add the RSS feed for Serotalk to your web browser, news reader or podcatcher, visit

Serotek CorporationSerotek Corporation is a leading technology company that develops software and manufactures accessibility solutions under the System Access brand. Committed to the mission of providing accessibility anywhere, Serotek began with the launch of the first online community specifically designed to meet the needs of people with visual impairment. Since then, Serotek has introduced several powerful, affordable solutions that require minimal training and investment. For more information, visit

Categories : blind, samnet, samobile, Serotek
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This solution was posted to the Winhelponline Blog and the AVG forum.

It works, and really saved me a lot of time and hassle. Thank you, Ramesh Srinivasan, wherever you are!

September 10th, 2008 • by Ramesh Srinivasan

When updating AVG 8.0 today, I received the error “Invalid Update Control CTF
File”. The error could be fixed easily using the solution posted at AVG Forum.
From AVG forum:
You need to rename/remove the CTF
temp files in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application
Data\Avg8\update\download…. Dont delete all the .bin files in there unless you
want to re-run all updates since your original installation (reinstallation
seems to cause a problem in IEs Link Scanner which causes IE to Crash). Only
rename/remove the avginfo files that end with .ctf.
There were two .CTF files
(avginfoavi.ctf and avginfowin.ctf) in that folder, and deleting them fixed the
problem indeed.
Note: The Application Data folder is hidden by default. You
need to enable Windows Explorer to show hidden files in order to view the
Application Data folder. Alternately, type the above folder path in the Start,
Run dialog and press {ENTER} to launch the folder.
Windows Vista users:
Delete the .CTF files from the following

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I’ve found a quirk (actually, I’m not the first) in Excel 2007.

In Excel 2003, you could use the key combination Control + 9 to hide rows and Control + Shift + 9 to unhide rows. You could also use Control + 0 to hide columns and Control + Shift + 0 to unhide columns.

These same commands work in Excel 2007 except for Control + Shift + 0. For some reason, while it appears on the Microsoft web site, they left out this shortcut even though it doesn’t conflict with another process, nor is it used for any other command. You have to go into the Ribbon and unhide columns. Alt, H, O, U, L. Easy to remember, right? We’re going to have to start inventing cheers to keep them straight. Alt, H, O, U, L, unhidden columns are really swell!

The keyboard command is conspicuously absent from the Microsoft Press book, “Microsoft Office Excel 2007 Inside and Out”, which leads me to believe it was an unintentional omission by Microsoft, and they’re hoping nobody notices or cares.

How much does Excel 2007 cost?

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Students planning to enroll in computer instruction are often required to first complete a rigorous and thorough course of instruction in keyboarding. They must demonstrate speed and accuracy. Often, students will ask why it is that they need to know the keyboard so well before they can begin learning to operate the computer. To answer that question, let’s explore the reasons why operating a computer through the use of keyboard commands may frequently be the best input method – even over using the mouse to point and click.


Using the keyboard to directly enter commands like Control + P to print, Control + O to open and Control + S to save documents is much faster than locating, routing to and clicking on the appropriate button with a mouse or other pointing device.

If you like, you could try it with this very document. Press the key combination Control + P, meaning, hold down the control key with your left little finger and tap the P key with your right little finger. This will open a print dialog box. Next, use your right little finger to press the Enter key to confirm that you want to print the document on the default printer. That’s it, you’re finished! Now try to do the same thing with only a pointing device like a trackball or mouse. First, if it is possible at all, you must find the button or menu item that corresponds to opening the print dialog. Next, you must point and click on the OK button in the print dialog box.

For most people, this isn’t a difficult task, however; if someone cannot see the computer screen, or if they require screen magnification of significant proportions, they may not be able to locate the appropriate controls at all. Even for those who have no difficulty locating the correct controls, they will never point and click as quickly to complete the aforementioned task of printing this document as someone who knows the keyboard commands and is a proficient typist.


Ask anyone who has used a mouse for any considerable time and they’ll tell you about the times that they totally messed up a document or clicked on the wrong button because they weren’t as in control of the mouse as they thought when they pressed that button. Even with great improvements in mouse technology, pointing and clicking on things, while a somewhat natural activity, isn’t nearly as accurate as keyboard entry by someone who is an excellent typist.

Think for a moment about what is happening when one uses a mouse or other pointing device. The person using the mouse is operating the device in three dimensions on a perpendicular plane to the two dimensional representation on the computer’s screen. What this means is that they are required to move the mouse away and toward themselves in order to make the pointer move up and down, respectively, on the screen. To make things more complicated, the angle of the wrist changes with the proximity of the mouse user’s arm, changing the angle required to properly click the buttons on the front of the mouse. This is possibly one of the most significant contributions to errors in clicking and dragging activities with the mouse. Manufacturers have offered various styles of mouse with buttons located in different positions to make mouse control more comfortable, but there remains a physical disconnect between the user and the computer that inhibits accuracy.

Keyboard users who are proficient typists will often report that they don’t even really think about the location of the keys as they type, because they have become so accustomed to typing. They just think the words and their fingers do the rest! Hand and finger movement is restricted to a confined, constant space unrelated to the spatial orientation depicted on the screen. There are two less things to think about; judging distance and motor control.


Especially for folks planning to use a computer on the job, accuracy and speed are essential requirements to increase productivity. Any employer will tell you that non-productive employees don’t last long on the job site. The employees who are happy in their work and keep their jobs for long stretches of time are those who are, consequently, the most productive. If you attempted the earlier exercise of using both methods for printing this document, you may think the difference in time savings is trivial. Consider that three to five seconds of time might be saved each time you use a keyboard command instead of the mouse. Now consider that all of the most frequently used operational and formatting commands are mapped to the keyboard, directly. At three seconds savings per command, issuing two hundred or more commands per day, a savings of ten minutes per day may be achieved. If you still think that’s trivial, wouldn’t you like to add ten minutes to your lunch break every day? Has your boss ever made you take leave for the times you were ten minutes late to work? In a two hundred and fifty day work year, at ten minutes per day, more than a full forty hour week is saved by using keyboard commands when it is most efficient to do so. Now, you can go to your boss and tell him or her how he or she can give you an extra week’s vacation every year! Don’t forget to bring me back a souvenir.

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