An easy way to do a PDF to Word conversion

logo_pdftoword Don’t you just hate it when, after you’ve spent quite a few hours on doing something, some smarty pipes up a suggestion which meant you’ve just lost those hours.

So it was with a 150+ page PDF to Microsoft Word conversion.  Finished it, and to be honest, it was fairly crappy as the Word document has complex tables like this:
Child protection career structure, yes I get to work on some amazing documents.

which is hard to capture when you go from PDF –> Word.  And after 80 pages, my care factor was starting to get low.

The smarty suggested PDF to Word.  PDF to Word is a website where you upload your PDF, and your converted Word document is mailed back to you.  My 156 page document was converted in minutes.


Ok, the downsides, or faults if you like, in the converted document?

  • the header and footers were not converted.
  • heading styles were not created.

But for FREE, it is a great utility.

If it’s free, how do they make money?  They sell PDF software, such as Nitro PDF Professional, which is about a 1/5 the price of Adobe Acrobat Professional.

Bookmark and Share

Let’s take a break from that computer

workrave exercises I’ve been accused of sitting at a computer for far too long.  “Get up and go for a walk”, I tell myself.  I never do, as I get too wrapped up in the current task I’m working on.  That’s why I so like the idea of ErgoMinder.

From a support perspective, I thought the personnel department were trying to impose their “touchy, feely” policy on the rest of us.  Now I’m older and wiser, I understand the importance of taking a break.  Shame Ergominder is no longer being sold.

The importance of a product like ErgoMinder, is for the recovery from, and the prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury.  RSI is a type of Musculoskeletal disorder.

… many MSD occur due to daily work involving the maintenance of static postures, which result in muscle fatigue, for example, holding the telephone, and repetitive work such as keyboard and mouse tasks. Conditions that have this type of gradual onset are probably more common in office work than sudden injuries.
– WorkSafe Victoria – Officewise: A guide to Health & Safety In The Office

So with ErgoMinder no longer being available, and no time to develop a clone of it*, I looked around for a replacement product.

I’ve started to use Workrave, and I’m beginning to like it.

My first impressions are that it does everything ErgoMinder does, but it has less exercises (9 vs. 15).  I’ll let you know what I think in two weeks time.

* – it would be fairly easy to clone ErgoMinder.  All the exercises and screenshots are easily extractable, I would just need to write the “timer” program.  Other priorities though.

Bookmark and Share

Semi-regular web-link clearance – November 2009

Desi Dhaba Desi Dhaba
Authentic Indian restaurant.  One of the blokes at work recommends it.  Will have to give it a try. 134 Flinders Street, Melbourne.
I’ve tried it, curry was good, but I’ve had hotter.  Next time I’ll ask for “Indian Hot”.


Disk2vhd is a utility that creates VHD (Virtual Hard Disk – Microsoft’s Virtual Machine disk format) versions of physical disks for use in Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs). The difference between Disk2vhd and other physical-to-virtual tools is that you can run Disk2vhd on a system that’s online.

Free e-books: Windows 7 troubleshooting tips
Mitch Tulloch, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and lead author of the just-published Windows 7 Resource Kit has created two free books worth grabbing copies of “What You Can Do Before You Call Tech Support.” & Deploying Windows 7His website is here.

Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool

The Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool allows you to create a copy of your Windows 7 ISO file on a USB flash drive or a DVD. To create a bootable DVD or USB flash drive, download the ISO file and then run the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool. Once this is done, you can install Windows 7 directly from the USB flash drive or DVD.

Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool Released Under GPLv2
Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool


Continue reading

Leaving Geocities: “This website has won No Awards at all”


CTOS_Logo With Geocities shutting down, I had to move the CTOS Faq site.

CTOS, my friends, was an kick-ass operating system which was released in 1979, and was supported for 20 years.

It was a big thing in the business community.  But Unisys stopped supporting CTOS at the end of 1999.  I documented those reasons why Unisys did, in: Frank Brandenberg, the man who killed the CTOS operating system.

Now transferring off Geocities was fairly easy, as I still had my backups from ten years ago.  I lost very little data.  And for the missing data, there is the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

But there lies the problem.  The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine modify the html links in their pages to redirect to their archive copies (ie.… ).  Which means extra work in stripping those links out, carefully.

It’s been done, and you are invited to view a website design from 1999, the CTOS FAQ.

Bookmark and Share

“Mouth more closed.”

FireFox logo - no, really. Enterprise desktop support is a mindset.  If you’ve never done it, it’s likely you’ll not understand the issues of how things scale.  A solution for 5 PCs may not scale to 4000 PCs.

Today’s support problem is Firefox.  And it’s not that I don’t like Firefox, indeed, I use it myself.

But I don’t support the idea of having TWO browsers to support in an Enterprise IT shop.  Choice in Enterprise IT is generally bad, as it adds costs; in training and support.  To illustrative the problem of choice, let’s look at a hypothetical problem which arrived at a hypothetical help desk.

The FRED web application performs slowly in Internet Explorer (IE).  It works fine in Firefox.

The bozos who created the FRED application didn’t test FRED with Internet Explorer, which is what our 4000+ desktops have.  Their ineptitude becomes our problem.

We spend some time investigating.  Essentially the problem boils down to how Internet Explorer displays a web page, in comparison to Firefox.  (Internet Explorer is more fussy/strict/picky/<insert your own word here>).

Our solutions to fix FRED?:

  • Change our default browser to Firefox, on all 4000+ desktops.
    This will break some of our existing web applications which work just fine with Internet Explorer.
  • Replace our proxy server backend.
  • Tell the FRED developers to fix their application.

Here are some of the issues we’d hit if we deployed Firefox along side Internet Explorer:

  • No ActiveX support with Firefox.
  • Application compliance.
    Some customers have applications which have applications which have been rigorously tested and certified by third-party government bodies.  The customer would need to recertify these applications with Firefox.
  • Support resources.
    We don’t have the support resources to increase our workload by taking on an additional application.  Sure, we can get those extra resources.  But who pays?

Bookmark and Share

Jasc Image Robot

is a great little program I use for doing group conversions of graphics files.  Things like, jpg –> png format conversion, image watermarking and image cropping.

Image cropping is today’s quick topic.

Let’s take the example where I have screens of two monitors, and only want the left screen.

two monitors

If I want to save the left monitor image, I enter the values into the “Crop” option page, and Image Robot does the rest for me.


And shortly afterwards, I have my left screen:
Tanya Fischer in Life On Mars

* it’s a darn pity Corel don’t sell Image Robot.

Update December 2015: A replacement for JASC Image Robot

It’s the ErgoDudes to the rescue!

ErgoMinder, from a support perspective, had it’s problems.  ErgoMinder described itself as:

Pray for a raise

ErgoMinder is a program with three cartoon characters – called Ergo-Dudes – who remind you in a light-hearted fashion to take micro-breaks from your computer work. Most people know that they need to take breaks from computer work, and that they need to move and stretch regularly. The problem is remembering to do this while your mind is on your work. ErgoMinder solves the problem by giving friendly reminders, at interval times of your choice, in which the Dudes suggest easy exercises that you can carry out on the spot in less than a minute.

It was a Visual Basic 4 program, and it was fairly simple, as all it needed to do was:

  • at the time interval set by the user, remind the user to do an exercise.
  • keep track of which exercises were displayed,
  • but don’t display certain exercises, for the user who said “I have RSI” or “I have back issues”.

Now Ergominder had a couple of support issues:

  • didn’t support Citrix or Microsoft Terminal Server
  • the help file was expected to be in c:\windows\ergodata.
  • wouldn’t run off a network share, had to be copied down to each users PC.

Even with those issues, I still like it, as it got people taking micro-breaks.  Which reduces fatigue, and the chance of RSI with it.

ErgoMinder is no longer sold, which is a great shame as it was a fun product, Ergo-Dudes and all.

You can Google for an alternate selection of micro-break software here.

Bookmark and Share

eTrust AntiVirus, and directories / processes you should exclude from scanning.

Computer Associates used to recommend excluding particular processes and directories from eTrust anti-virus scanning.  This, I found, was very important with Microsoft SQL Server, as it would cause a significant performance hit.
You would do this via setting the following registry keys, under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ComputerAssociates\eTrustITM\CurrentVersion\Realtime

Reason for exclusion List of processes to be excluded, separated by "|"
Microsoft SQL Server sqlserver.exe  sqlservr.exe
Microsoft Exchange store.exe
  and some others …

Continue reading

No games for you!

DX-Ball screenshot courtesy of Softpedia There is an line of thinking, which quite a few companies follow, that you can’t have games on a company PC because “employees may play games all day”.(1)

I’m sure that the management teams who think these things up, have never heard of people taking breaks.  Or, in one decision I was involved in, have ever worked a graveyard shift.

When the clock ticks past 3:00am, your whole body just wants to shut down, and fall asleep.  Heck, if you’re lucky, all your systems are alarmed, and you might get that sleep.  If you’re not lucky, you need something to keep you awake, such a PC game.(2)

Continue reading

Nothing is ever HP Trim’s fault.

Tower Software Logo It’s always the other guy, when something goes wrong.  Trim is a Electronic Document Repository Management program, beloved by large companies.  Records Management types seem to love it, but from an IT support perspective, it’s a dog of a program.  It was created by Tower Software, and was sold to HP in March 2008.

These are some of the Trim issues I’ve dealt with over the years:

Security update breaks Trim?
Tower Software answer:
“Microsoft will need to change their security patch.”

Can’t package Trim installation package to Microsoft standards
Tower Software answer:
“It’s acceptable to copy DLLs to the Windows System32 directory”

Minor version updates
Tower Software answer:
“We don’t use Microsoft Windows Installer MSP technology, you need to reinstall the whole Trim product.”

Not compatible with Office 2007, or the Office 2007 compatibility pack.
HP Support forum answers:
There is a fix in the works, but because this is a limitation with ODMA itself, a Microsoft product, it is very difficult to resolve on our end.”

Normally you will not have the 12.0 structure when only Office 2003 is installed.
But if the 12.0 structure DOES exist, we then assume that Office 2007 is installed and then check to see if the DefaultFormat key exists that I specified in my last post.”

Bookmark and Share