Windows 7: Am I running in Safe Mode?

Tutoring home computer use, you face all kinds of questions. The tutor shares an answer to “How can I tell if I’m running in Safe Mode?”

My wife pointed out, and I agree, that our desktop has appeared different lately. She asked if we are running in Safe Mode.

I restarted the computer in Safe Mode, and noticed the words

Safe Mode

in the bottom left corner. I next did a normal restart: the words Safe Mode were gone.

Therefore, from my experience, the way to know if you’re in Safe Mode is to look to the bottom left of the desktop: if in Safe Mode, the words

Safe Mode

will be there.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Windows 7: the blue screen with white bird near green branch

Trying to repair a computer this weekend has involved self-tutoring. The tutor mentions the beloved “blue screen with white bird near green branch.”

If you don’t know the screen mentioned in the title, you might be lucky. I’ve encountered it after the repair option from F8 during boot. However, it may not appear immediately after selecting the repair option. Rather, the user may have to wait well over half an hour before it appears.

Likewise, the blue screen with the white bird (near the green branch) may persist another 45 minutes – or longer – with no apparent action. However, it eventually can give way to the Startup Repair window. That process can persist for hours, then possibly offer choices, one of which may be System Restore.

That’s how I remember it, anyway.

With either of those screens (blue screen with white bird or Startup Repair), it’s best the user doesn’t hold their breath.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Microsoft Word: date format: English (Canada) compared to English (US)

Tutoring Business English, date format is of interest. The tutor shows a date format available in English (United States), but perhaps not in English (Canada), in Microsoft Word 2007.

In my April 14 post I mention that I prefer the date format

April 16, 2017

because it gives no chance of misunderstanding. However, among the English (Canada) date formats offered, the closest seems to be

16 April 2017.

Clicking Insert, then Date & Time, the dialogue box that emerges offers a Language choice. Clicking the dropdown arrow, one choice is English (United States). Selecting that, the available date formats change to include April 16, 2017.

Interesting, eh?

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Microsoft Word 2007: changing date format

Tutoring Business English, word processing formats inevitably arise. The tutor suggests how to change the date format in Microsoft Word 2007.

I prefer the date format April 14, 2017. There’s no chance of misunderstanding it, since the month is a proper noun and the year is four digits.

On my computer, anyway, Microsoft Office Word 2007 prefers the format 2017-04-14. What can a user do to change the date format?

  1. Click Insert at the top (next to Home).
  2. Locate, in the Text area of the toolbar (probably right side), the option Date and Time. Click it.
  3. You will be offered a menu of date formats.
  4. On mine, among the English (Canada) choices, the closest to April 14, 2017 is 14 April 2017.

Of course, the user can type any date format they want. However, Word will try to autocorrect it to the chosen (or else default) format. To stop the autocorrect, simply left-click when it’s offered. (Make sure the mouse pointer is on the cursor when you do so, or else your cursor might be sent wherever the mouse pointer is.)


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Spreadsheets: how to reference a cell on a different sheet in Excel and in LibreOffice Calc

Tutoring spreadsheet usage, cell references are important.

Let’s imagine you want a1 in the first sheet of a workbook to have the value of b1 in sheet 2.

Here’s how you can do so with text:

  • Excel: type, in a1 of the first sheet, =sheet2!b1
  • LibreOffice Calc: type, in a1 of the first sheet, =sheet2.b1


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Spreadsheets: Excel, LibreOffice Calc: number formatting: how to get rid of E-05 (for example)

The tutor explains how to change from scientific notation to regular number format in Excel or LibreOffice Calc.

In my post from Feb 14 I mention that 1.69e-05 equals 0.0000169. Written 1.69e-05, the number is in scientific notation. Perhaps the user is not familiar, or not comfortable with that format – what can be done?

  1. Right-click the cell with the number in scientific notation.
  2. Click Format Cells…
  3. Click Number. There is a click box for the number of decimal places; if the number is in scientific notation with e-05 or such, you’ll likely need lots (maybe 10 or more). There are also choices for how you want the number to appear; select the one desired.
  4. Click OK: Hopefully the number will now be in “ordinary” format.
  5. You may need to widen the column to accommodate the number.
  6. If there is a positive number after the e, the cell contains a large value: for example, 1e+06 is 1 000 000. In such a case, you probably won’t need more decimal places, but might need to widen the column to accommodate the number in regular format:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Spreadsheets: How to border a selection in LibreOffice Calc

The tutor explains how to set a border around a range of cells in LibreOffice Calc.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Select the area around which you want a border.
  2. Find the icon that’s a square divided in four; it’s perhaps four in from the right. If you mouse over it, you’ll see Borders, add lines
  3. Click that icon, then select the style of border you want.

You’ll see a thin, black border around your selection. To customize that border, do the following:

  1. Make sure the range is still selected (or select it again).
  2. At the top of the screen, click Format, then Cells…
  3. Select the Borders tab. Therein, you’ll see where you can select the style, width, and color of the border.
  4. I find a border really doesn’t become obvious until it’s 1.25pt or more.
  5. Click OK to apply your choices.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Navigating the file system from the terminal (aka Command Prompt): how to enter a two-or-more word directory or file name

The tutor shares a hint he noticed recently.

When I started with computers, I don’t believe you could have a folder name like this folder: as I recall, you couldn’t have a space in the name. (You could have an underscore as in this_folder).

I don’t know for sure, but I’d say Windows opened up the possibility of having a space in the name of a folder (or file). Nowadays, on people’s desktops, you commonly see folders with two-or-more word names, such as Road Trip Summer 2016 or Kitchen Reno. (I wonder if anyone else realizes what computer users seem to take for granted:)

On the desktop, two-word names don’t matter: you can just double-click the folder to open it. In the terminal, though, you need to type the folder (aka directory) name to enter it. Will the terminal know what you mean when you type a folder name that contains a space?

The terminal (aka, Command Prompt) in Windows 7 does understand a two-word name. For instance, if you want to enter the Kitchen Reno directory, just typing

cd Kitchen Reno

will work.

In the Linux terminal, from my experience, the command

cd Kitchen Reno

won’t work. However, you’ve got two options that will:

  1. cd “Kitchen Reno”
  2. cd Kitchen\ Reno


cd “Kitchen Reno”

works in both Windows 7 and Linux:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Microsoft Excel: how to make a square grid for graphing

The tutor explains how, on Excel, to make a grid useful for displaying a graph.

In these days of software availability, one would expect making squares on a page to be obvious. Here’s the easiest way I know:

  • In Excel, in the Cells cluster (Home menu), click Format→Column Width. A diaologue box comes up in which you can enter the column width you want. In my case, the default column width is 8.43; I change it to 2.2, then the cell looks square.

Now, to copy the square shape to a range of other cells:

  • Select the square cell, right click it, then click Copy. Next, select a row of cells you want to become the square shape. Right click, then click Paste Special→Column widths, then OK. Hopefully you’ll see the associated cells are now square.

Once you have a spacious region of square cells, you can capture it as an image:

  1. Select the region of cells, right click it, then click Copy.
  2. Open Paint, then click Paste.
  3. Save the image (I use .png format).

I’ll be talking more about Excel, Paint, and other software in future posts:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Home computer use: Windows Live Mail 2011: opening a draft to edit

The tutor shares, to him, a very useful find.

Writing an email, I often want to check something else – possibly another email. Sometimes, when I’ve gone to do so, I’ve lost what I was writing (or at least, that’s what seemed to happen). The solution is, of course, to save the current message as a draft.

Re-opening the draft, however, I couldn’t, at first, edit it: I didn’t know to double-click it. Apparently, double-clicking opens the draft so you can continue writing it. It works for me, anyway:)


PC Advisor

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.