Aug 25

Get Windows 10

Some of us are quite happy to stick with Windows 7. After all, it’s supported by Microsoft until 2020. So the ‘Get Windows 10’ icon in your system tray can be a bit of an annoyance. On the other hand, you may not want to update to Windows 10 just yet until some of the early bugs have been ironed out.

A number of posts have appeared over the past few months with instructions on how to remove the ‘Get Windows 10’ system tray icon but not many tell you how to remove it permanently. The problem is, Microsoft considers it an important update, and once you’ve uninstalled it, it reappears back in your system tray as early as the next system reboot. Here’s how to permanently remove it. It’s a two-step process.

Uninstall the update

To uninstall the ‘Get Windows 10’ update in Windows 7, go to Start, Control Panel, Programs and Features, and select View installed updates. Then hit Ctrl-F and search for the update ‘KB3035583’. Once you have found it, right click on it and select Uninstall.

After this, you will be prompted to reboot or postpone that till later. I suggest postpone for 4 hours to give the system time to realise it’s missing this so called important update. You’ll know when Windows wants to reinstall it because when you click Start, the Shut down button will have an exclamation mark indicating that important updates will be installed on reboot. Now is the time to stop that particular update.

Hide the ‘Get Windows 10 update’

So don’t reboot. Instead go back to Start, Control Panel, Windows Update and you will see that important updates are available, in my case just the one. We are now going to hide that update so it is ignored for update in future. By the way, you can also see that if you change your mind you can restore hidden updates in the left panel.

Get Windows 10 - Update available

So click on ‘1 important update is available’. This will show that KB3035583 is available to install. There may be others as well.

Get Windows 10 - Hide Update

Right click on update KB3035583 and chose Hide update, then close the window.

Now when you reboot, this update will not be reinstalled and you will no longer have to suffer that ‘Get Windows 10’ nag screen.

Jul 7
Taking Fitness to the Next Level
icon1 techandlife | icon2 Life | icon4 July 7, 2015| icon3No Comments »

jogging for fitness

As a freelance editor, I sit at my computer most of the time getting up now and again to walk around. To get more exercise, I’ve been walking for about 40 minutes most days since about 2007 when I started listening to podcasts. I had heard that brisk walking was beneficial to a healthy lifestyle. However, I was always a little doubtful that my heart was getting enough exercise from this, so about 10 months ago, I decided to try regular light jogging to get my heart pumping and exercise my cardiovascular system.

I started in a small way at first, partly because I didn’t want to overdo it. I did consider myself reasonably fit for my age but this was breaking new ground for me. I hadn’t really run since I left school years ago. So I started jogging for short spells on my walk each day. Initially I tried a 200 metre short jog to loosen up followed about 5 minutes later by a longer jog for as long as I felt able. At the start, all I could manage was about 300 to 400 metres before my legs felt like jelly and I just couldn’t go on. Next day, my legs usually ached. To make matters worse, I must admit that my regular jogging route was essentially flat. I bought a pair of running shoes last Christmas to give me a little more incentive to carry on.

It was a few months before I got through this barrier and was able to jog 800 to 1000 metres. Again, in the early days when I got this far, I just had to stop. But a couple of months ago, I was finding that I could finally jog this distance and not feel dreadful at the end of it. In fact I felt quite good when I stopped each time and I realised I could go further. My legs didn’t feel like jelly any more and I wasn’t gasping for breath at the end of it. So, a couple of weeks ago, I dug out an old running top and tried to run a mile which I’d measured earlier with my car odometer. I managed it in just under 11 minutes. Not great I know, but I can feel my heart pumping as I go, and I know it’s doing me good. I know I can go further and that feels great.

So I’m now going to finally get some proper running gear and going to try to work up to 5 km, and when I reach that, I’ll enter a 5K somewhere local, and see how I get on. Not to win, just to take part and run with others. If you haven’t tried jogging, give it a go. Don’t overdo it, don’t give up when you feel terrible, you will get through it as your fitness builds up. If you are finding it hard at the start, try slowing your pace down a little to see if that helps.

How’s your fitness? Have you tried jogging or entering a 5K?

Jun 25


Like me, you may have been with your internet service provider (ISP) for quite some time. You may also have taken up their offer of a free set of email addresses when you started, for example, for your family members. Well, the time may come when you may want to change ISPs but the problem is you will probably forfeit that email address you’ve by now handed around to friends and families and also to online newsletter subscriptions, forums, logins and as your contact address.

I was with Virgin Broadband in the UK ever since I took up a broadband internet connection in 2006, according to their first email to me. They recently decided to move us all over to TalkTalk which I wasn’t happy about for a number of reasons. I decided to move to BT Broadband and when I contacted Virgin for a MAC code to complete the move, they informed me I would have my Virgin emails for up to 3 months and then it would disappear.

That was fine; it would give me enough time to find a new email provider and inform all my contacts. And that’s my first point. If you do use an email address provided by your ISP, it’s worthwhile finding out just how long they will support it after you move away from them.

Right, now to find an independent web-based email service preferably with a free option. I won’t be using the free email offer from BT Broadband having learned my lesson with Virgin, so I dug through my bookmarks on free email providers in Diigo and came across this 2011 post on MakeUseOf. One of the suggestions there is Zoho Mail. I remembered Zoho from mentions on various tech podcasts and I always had a hankering to give them a try as a Google alternative but never got round to it. Well here was my chance to try them out.

So I signed up for a free Zoho Mail account ( This gives me 5GB free mailbox storage which should be more than enough for my personal use. The interface is nice and it’s ad-free. But the major benefit for me is that the email account is independent of my ISP and I won’t lose it if I move broadband provider again.


If you have your own domain (e.g. you can set up a free email account on Zoho Mail with up to 10 users each with 5GB mailbox storage.

If you do fancy trying a free Zoho Mail account, sign-up is a little confusing. You have to click the button on the Pricing & Sign Up page which looks like this:


After that, sign up is very straightforward and you’ll have a free web-based email account in no time. I decided to set up IMAP, which isn’t the default setting in Zoho Mail. There’s a great explanation of IMAP versus POP here. Basically, IMAP allows you to retain email on the remote server for online access while also allowing you to set up access on a desktop email client such as Thunderbird with the option to retain local copies there permanently. To set up IMAP in Zoho Mail, click Settings at the top right of the screen, then go to Email forwarding and POP/IMAP. Here you can set up email forwarding and POP or IMAP access. Disable POP access and enable IMAP access. You can also see the settings there that you need to set up IMAP access in Thunderbird so you can set up and store local copies of your Zoho Mail there as well if you wish.

You can also install Zoho Mail apps on your Android or iOS phones and tablets so you can access your emails there too.

I’ve been with Zoho Mail for just a week now and I’m pretty pleased so far (by the way, they aren’t sponsoring this post). All in all, it took me about a day’s work to change over all my Virgin email addresses to Zoho Mail, and I’m still seeing a number of Virgin emails coming in that I’d forgotten I had and I’ll have to change over. Hopefully after the 3 month period, I’ll have caught just about everything so I think it pays to start transitioning to your new email provider just as soon as you can after you’ve made the decision to switch ISPs.

Better still, don’t start using ISP email in the first place and save yourself this headache if you move providers later.

Jun 16


You may have had to scan parts of books before so you know what it’s like to try to position a page on the flatbed scanner platter and scan it. It doesn’t always work out well first time with parts of the page missing, slanting pages, some pages upside down, etc. I’ve spent a little time scanning indexes from cookbooks recently. About half of my cookbooks are indexed on the website Eat My Books but for those that weren’t, I decided to scan those indexes as PDFs and send them to Evernote for a more complete record of all the recipes in my books. So here’s a few tips I learned about flatbed scanning along the way.

Clean the scanner platter

We’re going to be doing OCR (optical character recognition) on the scans to convert PDF images to text so the first thing is to make sure the platter of the flatbed scanner is spotlessly clean. Any specks of dust, dirt or smudges will lower the quality of the scan and possibly hinder the OCR and word recognition.

Prepare for scanning

If your scanner has a side-hinged lid as mine has (see image at top), this is going to hamper laying the pages of large books such as cookbooks on the platter, unless the lid is detachable. Check if yours is. If not, and you’re scanning single pages from large books, you will have to turn the book through 180 degrees for each page to avoid the lid. No such problem with an end-hinged lid. If you’re scanning indexes (usually at the end of books), or thick books, you’re probably going to have to somehow support the heavy side of the book as you scan the page on the light side (again see image above). You can help support one side of your book by finding a shoebox or some other support which is the same height as the scanner platter and laying half of the book on this while you scan the other page.

Know your scanner software settings

Anyway, for a multi-page scan to a PDF on a flatbed scanner with a side-hinged lid, you’re going to inevitably end up with a PDF where pages are alternately inverted and right way up. Check your scanner software settings to see if inverted text can be automatically corrected. I use a Canon Pixma MP280 multifunction printer with Canon MP Navigator software and I found I could change the settings to correct this. Here’s the initial screen I see when I select Save as PDF file

Canon MP Navigator - scan as PDF

The scan settings at the top of the screen can be changed depending on what you want. I’ll deal with the Resolution a little later. The important part here is to select PDF (Multiple Pages) obviously for a multi-page scan, then click Set. This brings you to this screen with some important settings:

Canon MP Navigator - PDF settings

Check Enable keyword search for OCR. Check Detect the orientation of text documents and rotate images to correct the alternate inverted pages in your file, and check Correct slanted document so you get a scan with nice horizontal text. You’re scanner software may have a different layout but dig around in the settings until you get it set up correctly.

Another couple of points. If the font size of the book text is small, try increasing the image resolution to 400 or 600 dpi to improve OCR (on the first screen above). But even doing this, I still found that some text was not recognized when searching the PDF later using Ctrl-F. Coloured text background and contrast between text and background also have an effect on the quality of the OCR.

Finally, when you are struggling to position and hold a heavy book on the platter with one hand and reaching for the mouse to click Scan with the other, I found that it was easier to just hit Enter on the keyboard as that would activate the scan and also restart the scan after a new page had been selected in a multi-page scan.

The multi-page PDFs were saved to my hard drive and after that it was just a case of opening a new note in my Cookbook indexes notebook in Evernote and dragging the PDF there. I do know it’s possible to scan books directly with your smartphone straight into Evernote and I’ll tackle that in a later post and link to it here when that post has been added.

Do you have any tips for scanning books on flatbed scanners? Drop a comment below.

Jun 3

I’ve been using Microsoft Word for close on 20 years and still technical things crop up either I didn’t know about, or haven’t had to know about. I recently received a Word document to work on in which a significant number of words at the end of lines were hyphenated. Nothing strange about that, except that, when the cursor was advanced over the hyphenated word, it completely jumped over the hyphen to the next character as if the hyphen wasn’t actually present in the document.

I did a bit of searching and discovered that automatic hyphenation had been turned on in that document. In Word 2007 and later, you can check the status of hyphenation in your current document and turn off automatic hyphenation by going to Page Layout, clicking Hyphenation and selecting None.

Word hyphenation

In Word versions earlier than 2007 go to Tools, Language, Hyphenation and uncheck Automatically hyphenate document.

So you’ve never noticed automatic hyphenation? Well, that may be because it’s turned off in all your documents. So this doesn’t apply to me? It might. if someone sends you a document in which automatic hyphenation has been used, it will be turned on for that document in your system, i.e. the hyphenation setting travels with the document. So a hyphenated document will open on your system. But it’s easily turned off as I’ve described.

May 21

One of the many great uses for a PC is to have it quickly search through your photo archive and pull out the photos you are looking for. This can be done by adding keyword metadata to your images. It may take a little time to complete but it’s worth it. In the first part, I looked at adding multiple IPTC keywords quickly to selected photographs using four free photo management packages. Zoner Photo Studio came out on top for this. But that’s only half the story. Now we need to be able to search and pull out the photos we want.

To find the photos with (or without) your keywords, we can combine the keywords as you would in other types of search. This is called Boolean search and uses the operators AND, NOT, and OR to apply search conditions to keyword combinations (e.g. keyword1 AND keyword2; keyword1 OR keyword2; keyword1 NOT keyword2). It’s also essential that the software searches for photos in all subfolders as well, if instructed. So let’s look at the same four free photo management packages used in Part 1 and see how they shape up in IPTC keyword search.


Although you can add IPTC keywords in IrfanView, unfortunately it doesn’t have the ability to search directories or filter photos by keywords.


GeoSetter will search or filter photos by keywords and will include subfolders as well. Navigate to the folder that you want to filter. To filter by keyword/s, you must first click on the Search & Filter menu at the top, then Filter, then click Activated near the bottom of the slide-out menu. Next click Crtl-F and you will see the following window.

GeoSetter search for images

You can choose AND (all conditions have to be true) or OR (at least one condition has to be true) and then add your keyword filters. Check the box Include Subfolders (if you want to search subfolders). In the example above, all photos with keyword1 AND keyword2 will be listed. I tried searching for all photos of my wife AND myself in my Pictures directory (currently about 13700 images in 74 folders) on a 1TB hard drive. This took about 8 minutes. No doubt this would be much quicker on a solid state drive. GeoSetter displays a running log as the search progresses and you can press Esc at any point to stop the search if necessary.

Unfortunately, GeoSetter hasn’t been upgraded since January 2011 which is a shame although a beta version was released in June 2014.


In XnView, navigate to the folder that you want to filter. To search the folder and subfolders, click Crtl-F and you will see the following.

XnView search for images

Check Include subfolders and IPTC. Select Keywords from the IPTC fields to search. Add your keywords and choose the filter condition from the menu by clicking the double right arrows next to the keyword entry box. I chose With all of the words. The same search for keyword1 AND keyword2 that I tried in GeoSetter took about 3 minutes in XnView – and found the same files. XnView displays a running log as the search progresses and you can click the Stop button to stop the search if necessary. To view thumbnails of the images that met your keyword search criteria, choose Browse rather than View.

Zoner Photo Studio

In Zoner Photo Studio, make sure you have Manager selected in the top right menu bar. Navigate to the folder that you want to filter. Slightly confusingly, when you click Organize in the top left menu bar, you will see options to Filter and Search. Choosing Filter will only search the current folder so it seems best to choose Search if you want to search subfolders as well. The Crtl-F key combination doesn’t work here so click Search and you will see the following window.

Zoner search for images

Unlike XnView, all your previously used IPTC keywords are remembered in Zoner and can be selected on the left side. So select the ones you want to search for then select the search mode. I chose All (AND). The same search for keyword1 AND keyword2 that I tried in GeoSetter and XnView took just under 3 minutes in Zoner – and found the same files. Unlike Geosetter and XnView, there was no indication of search progress in Zoner, just a ‘working’ cursor. There was also no way to stop the search when under way. But on the plus side, previous keyword search results could be recalled in Zoner from a drop-down box directly above the thumbnail window.


Of the four free photo management packages tested, only three would search by IPTC keywords. All three could search through subfolders but GeoSetter was significantly slower than XnView and Zoner. GeoSetter doesn’t seem to be being actively updated these days. Only Zoner retained a list of keywords to select from. Zoner was the only one to allow AND, OR and NOT searches although these search conditions could not be combined in any of the software packages (e.g. keyword1 AND keyword2 NOT keyword3). XnView seems to have improved markedly in IPTC keyword management since my earlier review several years ago and it seems a pretty versatile free photo management package.

But overall, Zoner Photo Studio is still my choice of free software for photo management and IPTC keyword search on a Windows system. How about you? What’s your choice for photo management on a Windows system?

I hope these two parts have given you enough information to start working with IPTC keywords in Windows. In the next part in this series, I hope to look at IPTC keyword entry and search with Linux photo management packages.

Apr 29

Zoner IPTC

In an earlier post, I looked at free software for tagging photos with keywords. This is useful so as to be able to search for them quickly later on. The point I made in that post was to make sure to use IPTC keywords rather than proprietary systems so that they would be portable with the image file if you ever moved to a new photo management system. I particularly liked Zoner Photo Studio at the time but is this the best option available now?

If you’ve got folders and folders of photos, you want to be able to add keywords as quickly as possible to speed up the tagging process. This means being able to select multiple photos and add multiple keywords to them at once, preferably from a pick list.

The free photo management packages I looked at were Zoner Photo Studio, XnView, GeoSetter and IrfanView.

Adding multiple selected tags to multiple selected images

I’ll have a look at the four photo organization packages I’ve mentioned, list some tips for using each and identify their strengths and weaknesses with tagging. I’ll also try to suggest a website for further information with tagging. The information presented doesn’t make for easy reading but is meant to help out if you are using any of the four packages to add keywords. For a summary of my findings, just jump straight to the end of this post.

If you’ve found ways round any of the problems or shortcomings I’ve encountered with each utility, let me know and I’ll update the post.


To tag photos with keywords, it’s best if you can open a folder of thumbnails, select the files you want to tag, then add the keywords. With IrfanView, you can open a folder of thumbnails from Windows Explorer by right clicking the folder and selecting Browse with IrfanView. Otherwise, open one photo in IrfanView, then click the keyboard shortcut T to open a folder of thumbnails. To add a set of keywords to a group of photos, select a discontinuous group of photos with Ctrl-Left Click or a continuous group of photos with Shift-Left Click. Then Ctrl-I brings up the IPTC Information box. Before you add your keywords, go to the Options tab and check that Edit the first file only; apply text to all files has been checked. If not check it.

Irfanview IPTC

Select the Keywords/Categories tab and add your keyword/s for this selection of photos and click Write. That’s all there is to it. If you choose another selection of photos and then go to tag them, you won’t find a pick list of keywords from your previous entries so that’s a real disadvantage.

Just in passing, I also noticed that when the folder of photo thumbnails was displayed in Windows Explorer before going into IrfanView, you can hover over a thumbnail and see a list of any keywords already assigned to that photo under Tags.


To add keyword/s, select the files. Then Ctrl-E brings up the Edit Data box. Add your keywords or select them from the drop-down pick list (if you’ve used them before), then click Enter to add it; Then click Set Current Values for All Selected Images. On the next screen Keywords, Changed Items Only should be checked; click OK. Note that all selected photos on the left will now be highlighted in bold. In the Thumbnail browser, your changed photo(s) will now be highlighted in purple. As you add keywords, they are automatically saved to a drop-down pick list for future use.
Finally when you have added all your keywords, you’ll see that all changed images are shown in red. To save the keywords in the changed files, click on the Images menu and click Save Changes (Ctrl-S) or Save Changes of Selected Images (Ctrl-Shift-S). Or use the hotkey combination.

One niggle I found was that keywords weren’t listed alphabetically in the drop-down keyword pick list. For a fuller explanation of the process to add keywords in GeoSetter, have a look here.


XnView has improved its IPTC keyword tagging since I last reviewed it. There’s a good video of the keyword tagging process on YouTube, so I’ll just go over the highlights.

As with IrfanView, it’s Ctrl-I to bring up Image information once you have selected your images.
There’s no drop-down pick list of previously used keywords, but you can save a text file of keywords previously and call that up by clicking Open text file.


I did find I had to call it up each time I wanted to add new keywords to photo selections. When you’ve added your keywords, chose Writing options; Add new values to current value; Then click Write all selected. It doesn’t do this automatically straight away. Once you click Close, it then writes the keywords to the selected files.

In XnView, when you select a photo with IPTC keywords, the keywords can be viewed in a window below the thumbnails by clicking Ctrl-Shift-P and then clicking the tab IPTC.  A nice touch.

Zoner Photo Studio

Although XnView has certainly improved over the last couple of years, I did find Zoner to be the best photo management package overall. There’s a nice summary for adding keywords in Zoner here so I won’t go into much detail just to point out the key features.

Zoner scores in providing a nice alphabetically sorted pick list of keywords on the right side of the thumbnails.

Zoner IPTC


With Zoner, it’s Shift-Enter to bring up the Image information box to add new keywords. Or you can also just drag them from the keyword window onto you photos. You can also categorize your keywords under, for example, People, Events, Places. I did find it difficult to add new categories at first so here’s how to do that.

In the keyword window to the right of the thumbnails, click on the empty space below the categories, for example, below Topics in the image above, and select New Keywords… This will open the Keywords box.

Zoner add keyword category

Fill in your new category Title, in this case Location, and then be sure to check This keyword also serves as a category. After clicking OK, your new category will be added and you can then add keywords in it.

Once you have all your keywords defined, you can select your photos, select the multiple keywords you want to add to that set of photos, then drag the keywords onto one of the selected photos. The tags will be added to each and you will also note a small label symbol near the top left corner of the thumbnails. Hover over any of these label symbols and you’ll see the keywords assigned to that photo. And if you come back later to continue tagging, your sorted keyword pick list is still there.


So that’s a quick look at adding IPTC keywords in these four photo management packages. For me, Zoner still stands out head and shoulders above the rest. The free version is fine for adding keywords, the interface is very nice and I believe it’s probably the quickest option to add keywords if you have a large archive of photos.

In the next part of this series, I’ll look at searching through your photo archive for photos with the keywords you’ve selected.

How do you add keywords to your photos?

Apr 9

Evernote confidential

I’ve read a couple of blog posts recently where the writer was concerned about adding sensitive notes to Evernote: ‘I didn’t feel comfortable keeping such data in the cloud, or on an unencrypted server’.

There are a couple of solutions for storing confidential or sensitive data in Evernote.

Encrypt your notes

In Evernote, you can encrypt part or all of a note, but not a complete notebook. To encrypt part or all of a note, highlight the text or the whole note (Ctrl-A), right click, and select Encrypt Selected Text, or hit Ctrl-Shift-X. If your sensitive data are attached to notes as PDFs, you will have to encrypt those PDFs before attaching to your Evernote note. There are free tools available to password protect and encrypt PDFs, for example, Free PDF Tools.

Use local notebooks

But let’s assume you aren’t happy with storing sensitive, password protected, encrypted notes on Evernote’s servers. Well there is a straightforward way around this, one which seems to be commonly missed by many. You actually don’t have to sync all of your data to the Evernote servers, indeed you actually don’t have to sync any of it!

Here’s what to do. Make a new local notebook. On the Windows client, go to File>New Notebook and choose New Local Notebook:

Evernote - New Local Notebook

Local notebooks are not synced to the Evernote servers or to any of your other devices where Evernote is installed. They stay on the machine where they were created. They’re not the same as offline notebooks in Evernote Premium where you can select to have all your notes in certain notebooks synced and saved on your mobile device ready for offline use.

Advantages of local notebooks

Adding more data to these notebooks obviously doesn’t count to your monthly upload limit – because it’s not taking up space on the Evernote servers, so there is no cost involved. Indeed if you really wanted, you could make your entire Evernote system from local notebooks, everything would be stored on your PC or laptop, Evernote would see none of it and you would only have the limits of your storage space as your storage limit. You can store your sensitive data here without it being synced up to the Evernote servers.

Disadvantages of local notebooks

Well there are some. You obviously won’t have access to them on online or on your other devices. Evernote won’t be able to run their OCR magic on attached PDFs and JPGs (to make them searchable) as this is done on the Evernote servers. But you could OCR them before you add them to your Evernote local notebook. You can’t change a synced notebook to a local notebook (or vice versa) but you can create a new notebook (synced or local) and copy the notes into the new notebook.

Searching PDFs and other attachments in local notebooks

If you’re an Evernote Premium user and you place your PDFs in a synchronized notebook, Evernote will index them and they will become searchable even if you move them to a local notebook later. Obviously that’s not what you want for sensitive information. Problem is, if you have a PDF scanned as an image without OCR and you put it straight into a local notebook it won’t be searchable. So it’s best to run OCR on your scanned PDF before sending it straight to your local notebook in Evernote. Then it will be searchable within Evernote but the data won’t appear on the Evernote servers. You’ll have to check if your scanner is producing searchable PDFs. Here’s the dialogue box I see when I send a PDF from my ScanSnap S1300i to Evernote.

Scan to Evernote with text recognition

Certainly my Canon MP280 multifunction printer and ScanSnap produce searchable PDFs. How do I know? Well, to check, open the PDF, hit Ctrl-F and enter a keyword which appears in the PDF and see if it can be found. One word of caution – if you’ve scanned a PDF upside down and then used a utility like PDFill PDF Tools to rotate it, you may lose the searchability of your PDF.

Backing up local notebooks

All your local and synced notebooks are stored in the same Evernote database. If you have both synced and local notebooks, your database will not be the same on the Evernote servers (only synced notebooks) as it is on your hard drive (synced and local notebooks). Because the local notebooks aren’t synced to the Evernote servers, you must back them up yourself. If you don’t do this, and you later reinstall Evernote, your database will be restored from the servers so you will lose all your local notebooks an that would be disastrous.

To get all your data back including local notebooks, you’ll have to restore the database from your backup. In Windows, to backup your Evernote database to an external drive, go to C:\Users\[Your Username]\AppData\Local\Evernote\Evernote\Databases and backup everything that’s in that folder. To restore notes, you must restore your entire Evernote database from where it’s backed up. Your note attributes (tags, notebooks, etc.) will be preserved if you restore your database.

Of course you can also copy your database to another PC or laptop and access all your local notebooks there too.

Still not happy?

But let’s say you’re still not happy with a database where some notebooks are synced and some aren’t. Well you could open a new Evernote account and make all notebooks local and keep that separate from your synced account. There’s no cost involved as obviously there are no uploads to Evernote so you can add as much sensitive info as you like to this database. However, I have read the possibility that you may have to keep one default synced notebook. But just keep that synced notebook empty. Of course if you are really sensitive about your data, you could even keep it in local notebooks and encrypt the notes as well, just in case.

Do you store sensitive data in Evernote? Any tips? I’ve tried to verify as much of this information as I can from Evernote blogs and forums, etc but if I’m incorrect on anything or there’s some tip I’ve forgotten, let me know and I’ll update the text.

Apr 1

I’ve looked at tracked changes and comments in LibreOffice Writer and MS Word before but thought it might be worth another closer look now with the release of LibreOffice 4.4. As I’ve said before, tracking changes and inserting comments are important features of MS Word for authors and editors in the publishing field and any progress towards a more seamless exchange of changes and comments between MS Word and LibreOffice Writer (shortened to LO Writer from here onwards) may help to encourage use of open source rather than commercial software in that particular field.

If you just want a summary of what I’ve found, just jump down to the Conclusions and read on there, otherwise if you’re interested in the details of exchanging comments and changes between Word and LO Writer please read on.

As an editor, I usually receive files from authors and publishers in Word doc format and have to return them in the same format after editing. So I’m going to start with a simple doc format file created in MS Word 2007 with changes tracked and comments added, I’ll open that in LO Writer 4.4 and make some more comments and changes there, then save the file in doc format and open that in MS Word again to see the final state. Obviously, my eventual intention is to be able to receive documents from authors, edit them in LO Writer and return the file in Word doc format. I’ve managed to make some progress with changes and comments in a very simple file which I’ll go through here. However, I’ve no doubt that files with other complex formatting will show some incompatibilities. I’m only looking at tracked changes and comments in this post.

For compatibility of changes and comments between the two programs, the first thing that has to be considered is the labelling of comments and changes as they pass between the programs. In MS Word, this means setting the user name (or author name) and user initials. In Word 2007, this is done by clicking the Office button at the top left of the screen and choosing the Word Options button at the bottom of the menu that opens. Under Popular you can enter your User name and Initials.

User name and initials in MS Word

If you’ve used tracked changes and comments in MS Word, you’ll know that, when changes are visible, if you hover your mouse over changes or comments, information bubbles will appear explaining when the change was made and starting with the user name or author name you’ve chosen. Comments will be labelled with the initials you’ve chosen followed by a number in ascending order through the document. The simple example below shows the Reviewing Pane on the left with ‘User name’ for the user name and INITS for the initials. The first comment is labelled INITS1.

Reviewing pane in Word

So now here’s a Word document with change tracking turned on and showing Markup. This time I’ve used T&L for the initials. As you can see, to the original document I’ve added a sentence, deleted a sentence, inserted bold and italic in places and added three comments labelled T&L1, T&L2 and T&L3.

Lorem ipsum with changes added in MS Word

After much trial and error with user names in Word and LO Writer, what I’ve found is that, to achieve compatibility of labelling when adding comments and tracked changes in both Word and LO Writer 4.4, you must have the same user name/initials in Word and again the exact same Company/last name in LO Writer. The problem seems to start in LO Writer which won’t use the Word initials field for labelling comments inserted in Word but uses the Word user name field instead. But when you add new comments in LO Writer, it will label them using information in the last name field in LO Writer. Interestingly, when you save your work as a doc file in LO Writer and reopen the file back in Word, the original Word comments reappear labelled from the Word initials field but new comments added in LO Writer have all labelling dropped and are just numbered consecutively.

So to avoid these labelling problems, open LO Writer and add your Company name and last name by clicking Tools>Options>User Data. Company name in LO Writer appears to be the equivalent of User name in Word while last name in LO Writer appears to be the equivalent of initials in Word. As I’ve said, to maintain compatibility between the programs, these should be the same as entered in Word.

User name and initials in LO Writer

Now we can open the Word doc file in LO Writer, turn on tracked change and add more changes and comments. The old and new comments are all added with the correct label T&L but aren’t numbered.

Lorem ipsum with changes added in MS Word and LibreOffice

All the old and new comments are highlighted correctly in the text as shaded boxes. They weren’t last time I tried this with the older version of LO Writer. All additional comments and changes made in LO Writer occur in the same colour as the older Word changes as they are done by the same user.

So far so good, but after adding the new changes and comments in LO Writer, we now have to save the file in doc format then reopen it in MS Word to see how the original changes and the new changes made in LO Writer are displayed.

Lorem ipsum with changes added in MS Word and LibreOffice and viewed again in Word

Everything looks file. The old and new comments have been integrated into one consecutive list labelled T&L1 to T&L5, and all tracked changes have been made by the same user.

Of course, you may not want to pass files from Word to LO Writer and back to Word, but instead just create the file in LO Writer and save it as a doc file so that someone else can open it in Word. After much trial and error with Company name/first name/last name/initials in LO Writer, I was unable to produce labelled comments when the doc file was opened in Word. The comments just appeared numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. That’s disappointing. I hope someone can sort this out in LibreOffice in a future release for the sake of seamless transfer of doc files to MS Word.


If you want to ensure compatibility of tracked changes and comments when moving documents between MS Word and LO Writer 4.4, you must have the same label in all four of these fields: User name in Word, initials in Word, Company in LO Writer, last name in LO Writer.

I’ve also found that that this only works for the older doc format. Try using the newer docx format and compatibility breaks down – new comments added in LO Writer are not labelled when viewed back in MS Word, they just have consecutive numbering and aren’t integrated with the older comments as happens when using doc format. A good reason to stick with the older doc format, something which publishers seem quite happy to do when you look through author guidelines for manuscript submission.

I also couldn’t produce labelled comments in MS Word when a doc file created in LO Writer and with comments added in Writer was later opened in Word. That’s disappointing and I hope it can be fixed in LibreOffice.

But all in all, quite encouraging. If developers working on LibreOffice could fix the user name/initials/company/last name labelling issue of changes and comments so there was no need to use my workaround, then that would be one more reason to drop MS Word in favour of LO Writer.

I have recently discovered that an overseas author client of mine does in fact use LibreOffice Writer, then saves his file in Word doc format for me to edit. As we exchanged files for revision, it was only the comment labelling that gave away the fact he wasn’t using MS Word! In fact he’d been using LibreOffice to prepare doc format manuscripts for some time and I hadn’t noticed! That’s very encouraging and hopefully we’re not far away from a viable open source solution for authors and publishers.

So if you’re still using an old version of MS Word and don’t want to upgrade to the latest version, if you can’t afford to upgrade or if you’re using a pirated copy of MS Word, have a look at LibreOffice. It may just be an adequate replacement for MS Word for the things that you do.

Do you use LibreOffice and exchange documents with someone using MS Word or vice versa? What’s your experiences?

Mar 17

Recipe books I have about 40 cookbooks mostly picked up from charity/thrift shops. That’s fine but it can be difficult to find a recipe starting from a shelf of books and it’s often just a case of picking one book, and thumbing through it till you find something you fancy. Or you could just go online and search recipe blogs till you find what you want, then save it to say Evernote. But I like thumbing through cookbooks and it’s a shame not to make full use of a great resource I have. Well, I’ve discovered there’s another way – Eat Your Books, a site where you can sign up and add your indexed recipe books then search them for recipes. You won’t find the full recipes online but that’s the whole point – you have to refer back to your own recipe books. If you have only 5 cookbooks, great, you can add all five for free if they’ve been indexed by Eat Your Books. Check the Library tab and select Books, then search for each of your recipe books in turn. At the present time, they seem to have indexed around 5500 cookery books so yours may well be there, particularly if your cookbooks are by well known or celebrity chefs. Of my 40 cookbooks, I found that 20 had been indexed with over 3000 searchable recipes in those books. I’ve decided to try a year’s membership at $25 (currently about £17) or the price of a couple of new cookbooks as I felt it was worth it to get more from all the recipe books I have on my shelves. One thing I like is that I can actually search my cookbooks for recipes with particular ingredients. You can find the different benefits of non membership, free membership and premium membership here. You can also add indexed food blogs and cooking magazines, and it’s also possible to add recipes as you surf the net. There’s a bookmarklet available to help you add recipes, however, I did find it impossible to add recipes from recipe aggregator sites. So now if I feel the need to pick up additional recipe books in charity shops, I’ll check first to see if the books have been indexed by Eat Your Books. Unfortunately, there aren’t Android or iOS apps available for Eat Your Books as yet but hopefully they’ll come with time. So if you have a shelf full of recipe books gathering dust and you want to get more from them, give Eat Your Books a try.

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