Issue #11 July 16, 2002

1. The Power of Right-Clicking (Part 1)

I am always looking for ways to be more efficient when using software applications, and clicking the right mouse button is one way to do this. In this issue, I will deal with some of the features in Word and Excel, and next issue I will address PowerPoint. In Word, if you select a word and right click, you get a menu that allows you to change the font, paragraph properties and supplies you with alternative words from the thesaurus. If the selected word is misspelled, it automatically suggests the correct spelling and allows selection of the properly spelled word. If you right click inside a table in the document, it allows you to change the text direction, borders and table and cell properties. In Excel, right clicking on a cell allows you to insert or delete cells or rows, clear the contents of the cell or format the cell. There are more shortcuts available through the right click method, and I encourage you to right click in different places and situations in your software to see what is offered.

2. Phone line caution

Many of us connect our computers to phone lines to enable Internet access or voice services. When you do this, take two precautions. First, there are two types of phone jacks which look identical but are very different inside. The phone jacks we usually have in our houses are called analog phone jacks and they carry the phone signals only. Many businesses and hotels have digital phone jacks, which carry the phone signals and a power voltage to enable certain phone features. The power voltage can severely damage your modem or computer if you connect to this type of a plug. My rule is to not connect unless someone can tell me for certain that it is an analog line (there are devices you can buy to plug into a jack that will tell you what type it is). That’s why at a hotel you should always plug into the phone jack on the side of the hotel phone or in the light instead of the phone jack from the wall. The second caution is to use a phone line surge protector whenever possible, especially if there is lightning in the area. Lighting strikes can cause your modem to pick up the phone line and not release it. This has happened to me and the phone repair person charged me a lot of money for a service call to simply unplug my computer phone connection. Phone line surge protectors are becoming very common on many surge protected power bars now and it is another reason to travel with one.

3. Useful Resource –

E-mail is great and it can be annoying all at the same time. This web site is a good resource for using e-mail more effectively as a tool, as well as providing a free newsletter with good tips. When you visit, download the free book on stopping spam (unsolicited e-mail that clogs up our e-mail systems). This e-book has good suggestions for cutting down on the pile of junk e-mail you have to wade through each day.