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Issue #6: August 30, 2007

Q: I have a lot of out of town guests that use my computer while they are in my home. I have confidential financial files in Excel on my XP computer that I use daily, but don’t want guests to be able to access. Is there a way to secure these files so guests cannot gain access to them without copying to a floppy disc and reinstalling to the computer once they have left? These guests are annual visitors. Thanks for any suggestions.

– B. T.
Destin, FL

A: All of Microsoft’s Office products, including Excel have a built-in method to password protect files from unwanted access. It can be a little tough to find if you don’t know where to look. Click on “Tools” and select “Options…”. Select the “Security” tab. Provide a password of your choice in the “Password to open:” field. You’ll need to enter this password every time you open the file, but your data will be safe from prying eyes.

Note to readers: I received lots of input regarding my response to Melissa’s question on e-mailing pictures that appeared in my August 16th column. Thank-you! Bear in mind that I try to only publish tips that can be used by everyone, and many of your suggestions were specific to a particular piece of software or a feature of your camera. Of all the suggestions I received, there was one tip will work for ALMOST everybody, so I felt like it was worth passing on: You can use a feature that’s already built right into Windows – the “Send To” option. Start by navigating to your photos in Windows Explorer. Using your mouse, highlight one or several pictures that you wish to send, then right click on them. On the pop-up context menu, you’ll find “Send To”. Choose “Mail Recipient.” Windows prompts whether you want to reduce the size of the pictures before sending them, and even allows you to decide on the size. This technique only works if you send e-mail via the default e-mail program defined in your computer’s Internet Options (i.e. Outlook Express, etc). That means if you use one of the many popular web mail services, this technique might not be for you.

TIP OF THE WEEK: Did you know that Windows XP and Vista keep constantly updated logs of “events” that occur on your computer? I’ve fielded a lot of questions recently involving computer problems of unknown origin, or that don’t seem to generate an error message, only to have the person discover that there is more information available than he or she was aware of. To access the Windows XP event log, go to your Start menu, and click on “Administrative Tools” then “Event Viewer.” In Vista, go to the Start menu and type “Event Viewer” into the Search box, and double-click it in the results. When the viewer runs, you’ll get a list of perhaps several thousand events ranging in severity from “Information” to “Error.” You can browse through them if you want, but you’ll be much more effective at finding what you’re looking for if you view the event log immediately after a problem occurs. At that point, whatever caused the problem should be the latest entry. “It’s Geek To Me” now has its own space on the Daily News website! You can read the latest issue, as well as an archive of previous editions at http://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/geektome. Check it out!


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