TNPC observations, cool tool, and changes….

by DanB

A nifty app…

TNPC Newsletter
by Dan Butler

Helping you stay more productive.

Hi ~

Hope you are having a productive week.

This week Al Gordon takes a first look at the new Microsoft Office
file formats and what they mean to you. Like it or not Microsoft’s
file formats affect all of us eventually. Personally, I am sticking
with my old version of Microsoft Office 2000. It does everything I
need and I can not justify the price of upgrading.

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We also discuss a few more loose ends with Microsoft Vista and a
cool piece of freeware I had forgotten about. You will like the

First go read last weeks issue at the blog:

Share your thoughts and get technical assistance at the TNPC Forum:

More Vista Notes by Dan Butler

I’m still getting Microsoft Vista into a useable state. One thing
is for sure – Vista likes RAM and lots of it. (Anyone wanting to
contribute some RAM to the cause let me know – we can work out a
trade – Dan
) The barebones system I purchased barely has enough to keep
the system running. I am truly amazed that Microsoft would release
a system that runs this sluggishly. Okay I am really not that

One observation – and I am not implying anything – but running
Mozilla Firefox takes a ton of memory and noticeably drags the
system down. Internet Explorer on the other hand does not have this
effect. Intentional on Microsoft’s part? More than likely it is a
function of how Internet Explorer interacts with the Windows
system. It is more fun to think of a sinister conspiracy.

I did find that Vista was indexing every file on my system and
grinding to a halt in the process. So I turned off the indexer
inside the Control Panel. The result was a dramatic instant speed
up in my system.

This was exacerbated by my copying the contents of the hard drives
from my now dead computer to the new drive. Introducing literally
tens of thousands of new files into the system set the index on a
permanent quest. Many of those files would be deleted so there is
not reason for them to be in the index in the first place.

Enough about Vista for now. You can follow my notes on Vista over
at the blog:

I’ll tell you about that nifty freeware after this brief commercial

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FontList A Really Nifty Piece of Freeware

While cleaning up my hard drive I stumbled on an old program called
FontList. FontList does one thing. It creates an HTML page showing
all of the fonts installed on your system. The page lets you make
the font bigger, bold, and italic. I really like this and wonder
how it fell off my radar. So how much is this handy tool? Free and
you can get yours here:

Yes it works just fine in my copy of Vista.

X marks the new format. by Al Gordon

DOCX. XLSX. PPTX. XPS. Microsoft Office 2007 has ended the freeze
on file formats it has maintained since Office 97 and introduced
these new XML-based ones. The first three are the new file
extensions for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint respectively. XPS is a
new Microsoft attempt to compete with Adobe Acrobat PDF (the
result, according to industry gossip, of a dispute between the two
companies over licensing terms for PDF in Microsoft programs.

You and I haven’t been demanding XML-based file formats, but the IT
community has. XML is a formatting language that can be used
interchangeably for documents and web pages. Plus it also is the
format for the RSS news feeds that are spreading like wildfires.
Putting information in XML allows for wide distribution options.
Plus, the new Microsoft file formats are zip-compressed,
substantially reducing their size.

The open source world already is on board with XML via the OpenDoc
file format used in OpenOffice. But Microsoft, as it always does,
wanted its own standard, which it calls Open XML. I have little or
no interest in getting into the tedious debate raging between
supporters of the two standards.

From a practical, real world perspective the key issue is this:
virtually everyone uses some flavor of Microsoft Office or uses the
existing Office file formats – and no version of Office except 2007
can read the new format natively. Furthermore, the new formats are
turned on by default in Office 2007, which means that sooner or
later someone with a new PC will send you one of the X Files.

Microsoft has released a conversion package
( that will allow users of
older version of Office to hand the new files. You probably ought
to install it now. Mac users, though, will have to wait a couple of
months because converters for OfficeMac won’t be released until
March or April.

As for conversion between Microsoft Office and OpenDoc, Microsoft
has started an open source (!) project - – that so far has
yielded only a converter for Word 2007. However, this is a dramatic
reversal for Redmond, which previously vowed it would never support

XPS, though, I wouldn’t worry about much yet. Only a PC with both
Windows Vista and Office 2007 (and then only if the Office 2007
user installs an add-on) will be fully capable of creating or
viewing such documents. The software to work with other versions is
not yet released.

(c) 2007 Al Gordon.

In addition to his computer interests, Al Gordon is a political and
media consultant in the Boston area.
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Copyright 2007 Dan Butler
All Rights Reserved.
ISSN: 1522-4422

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  • http://n/a Dave

    Thanks for the information about FontList. I use quite a few commercial fonts and a quick handy html based preview would really help. The only issue I found is that most of my commercial open type format fonts were not cataloged by FontList. I kept looking at the list and wondering where a font was that I knew was installed. (I use standard XP with latest service packs) Not to give up easily, I googled “microsoft font list macro 2003″. I’ve never used macros before, but in 30 minutes or so I’ve got a new template that generated a complete font listing formatted the way I like it. However, I have to print the font list out for reference so it’s not as handy to access as a html bookmarked file.

    I just tried “The Font Thing” also and I’m having the same issue of missing fonts. Strange as the fonts are all available in Office 2003 and in Photoshop CS2. Is there an issues with these older font cataloging tools and the newer OTF fonts? Or is it just me? :-)

  • DanB

    Dave ~

    It probably is the age of the utilities. Both are several years old. The Font Thing is dated 1999. Pretty old and before some of the recent font types were around.

    Did you try just saving the file the Microsoft Font created as an HTML file? It might do the trick.

    ~ Dan

  • Catmoves

    Please, please, please use a legible type face. Skinny, non-serif, minim sized type is not clearly legible. Remember the first principle of typography: LEGIBILITY. Don’t make your readers strain or you are likely to lose them.

  • DanB

    I’m working on the format of the site. It will get better as we go. All a matter of time.

    ~ Dan

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