PC Plus HelpDesk - issue 229
|This month, Paul Grosse gives you more insight into
some of the topics dealt with in HelpDesk and HelpDesk
From the pages of HelpDesk, we look at:
- Blocked File Attachments;
- Fixing broken Windows boot.ini file with
- Animated icon file.
From HelpDesk Extra, we look at Mind Maps on
- About OpenOffice.org;
- Mind Maps;
- Creating a mind map with OpenOffice.org;
- Editing; and,
Blocked File Attachments
If you send out
zipped attachments that could contain contentious files
such as .bat and .exe files, or you attach such files
directly, you could end up having them blocked by email
filters that look for such things.
The example on the right is what you should not do as
html can contain virtually anything that will run with
local privileges unless you do something about it and,
the .doc file could be riddled with viruses.
Ideally, if it is text that you want to send, you
should have it inline so that it is easier for the
recipient to quote - if you want to make sure that they cannot claim
that you sent something that you didn't, all you have to
do is to sign it with a public key cryptography program
such as PGP or GPG.
If layout is central to the purpose of your mail, a
fairly good way of achieving this is to use a PDF file as
the export. All good, modern word processors have PDF as
an export file option so there shouldn't be any problem
with getting people to see it the way that it should be
As for the contents of .zip files, you can either
encrypt the file (and send the key in the body text of
the mail - remember that you weren't bothered about
keeping things secret in the first place or this problem
would never have arisen) so that the recipient can open
it but the spam filter cannot see inside the file.
Fixing broken Windows boot.ini file with KNOPPIX
I have been getting many visitors to my web site that
have used missing boot.ini or a similar phrase in the
search engine. There is a simple way of reinstating the
boot.ini file (which should be in the root of the first
hard drive's first partition, ie its full path is
C:\boot.ini or, /mnt/hda1/boot.ini on a Linux system
which we shall come to in a little while) if you have a
Insert the KNOPPIX CD and boot the machine.
In KDE, click on the hda1 icon and when Konqueror has
opened up, right click on the same icon and select action
and then change the write status of the partition.
- If your boot.ini file exists, click on it (which
will open it up in KWrite) and then, still in
Konqueror, right-click on it and change its
permissions so that it can be written to.
- If your boot.ini file does not exist, open up
Your boot ini file should look something like the
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XP Home" /fastdetect
Once you have it looking okay, save it or, if you are
writing a new one, save the file as boot.ini on your hda1
partition (Windows C: drive).
Next, shut down KNOPPIX and remove the CDR (it will
tell you when you can do this) and then re-boot. It
should all now work.
Animated icon file
Here is a link to Wilf's animated icon (Earth.ani)
from this month's HelpDesk.
Suite: OpenOffice.org is a suite of
very capable office programs providing a word processor,
spreadsheet, vector drawing program, presentation program
and so on. They are a direct replacement for the
Microsoft office programs and will even load and edit
(and save if you think you should) your legacy MS
proprietary format files (.doc and so on). The only gap
in the suite at the moment is a database program and if
you want one of those, you can opt for the Sun
Microsystems version of the programs. If you are not
bothered about writing your own databases, you can get it
all - fully functional - for free.
License: Licensing for the normal
user means that you can have as many copies as you like
at no cost. This means that you can have several copies
at work and, if you want to take your work home with you,
you can have a copy or two (or three and so on) there as
well, totally legally.
No worries about extra copies installed:
This has the effect that there will be nobody threatening
to sue you if you install an unregistered copy on your
home machine and you can have as many copies at work
without anybody worrying about a knock on the door or a
letter from someone who wants some money.
Licensing not an issue: Therefore,
licensing is not an issue which has the knock-on effect
that you do not need to manage licenses so that gets rid
of all of those silly programs that make money out of you
having to pay money.
A mind map is a graphical representation of a set of
organised thought processes. It is a very good way of
analysing a problem and discovering what needs special
attention and resources. Some applications of mind maps
include: programming; moving house; going on holiday;
installing a network; setting up a company; and, so on.
I've used them
for many years and I have found that a good way of
generating them on paper is to put the object of the
exercise in a box in the middle of the page and then ask
questions that are relevant of it such as which, what,
where, who, why, how, when. Not all of these will be
applicable and once you have started, you might find that
one you have left out becomes important but that is just
where the flexibility of it all comes into play.
If you do this on paper, you will have the advantage
that you can work on it in places that you might never
take your computer. However, paper has limitations -
especially when it comes to flexibility when editing - on
a computer with a program that is up to the job (such as
OpenOffice.org's presentation or vector drawing program),
it is easy to highlight areas and move them around,
knowing that all of the thought links will remain intact.
If you click on the image above, you will see a
full-sized version in a new browser window. It is a
hypothetical holiday, just to demonstrate how mind
mapping on a computer works. From it, you will be able to
see how to generate one on a piece of paper but this is
how to create a flexible, editable one on a computer.
If you have OpenOffice.org installed on your computer,
you can open the file here.
Creating a mind map with OpenOffice.org
Thought Blobs: You will see from the
image above or from the file that you have opened that
the obvious starting place is to draw a filled rectangle
(you can use an empty rectangle if you like but why not
start off with colour coding?). If you double-click on
the box, you can add text to it, changing the font
properties (typeface, bold, colour and so on) as you
wish. In this central box, put the name of the project -
it will be the only thing with corners on the final sheet
so it will be fairly easy to spot and you can tell one
sheet from another quite easily if you put the project
title in the central box.
Next, you can create a number of filled ellipses, and
put your text in there for your basic questions. At this
stage, it is easier to colour code the ellipses as this
will make following the thoughts easier although you do
not have to do this if you don't want.
Now that you have
colour coded ellipses with your text in, it is easy to
work your way along a branch, noting your thoughts in a
logical manner. The easiest way that I have found to do
this is to click on the ellipse that will be the source
of the thought (so that you get the right colour and any
other properties), press [Ctrl][C] to copy it then
[Ctrl][V] to paste it, then move it to where you want and
type in your text. Whilst this takes a little longer than
doing it with a pencil and paper, the advantages will
soon manifest themselves. To make another entry on the
same train of thought, just press [Ctrl][V] and drag that
new box - you only need to copy when you are changing
your thought path.
Joining them up: With some ellipses
in place, you can now join them up so that they retain
their meaning. If you click on the link icon down the
left hand side and select the curved link that finishes
with an arrow, you can click on a 'parent' ellipse and
then on the thought that is effectively its 'child'.
There are several ways of achieving this...
you hover the mouse over the main part of the
first ellipse, a dotted box will appear
surrounding the whole shape. If you press the
mouse button now, the start of the link will
appear from the most appropriate of the NSEW
positions for where it has to link to.
you hover the mouse over one of the NSEW
positions, a small box will appear. Clicking now
will make the start of the link appear only from
same goes for the destination of the link. If it
is over the larger part of the shape, it will
attach itself to the most appropriate part - you
can see how the link will go from the way that it
if you use just one of the NSEW positions for the
destination, it will only link to that one -
Note that whatever you use to
start your line, you still have a choice over how
you attach the end of it thus, you can have a
line from any position on the starting shape and
specify the end as, say, the north position. When
you move one of the shapes around, the links will
adjust themselves with the unspecified one
choosing the most appropriate place to link.
If you want to move
the whole mind map to a slightly different place, you can
just put the mouse in one corner and drag it to the
diametrically opposite corner to highlight the whole page
and then drag the highlighted objects (along with their
links) to wherever you need them to be.
However, if you want to move just a portion of them -
say, to make way for another idea you have just had - you
can just highlight the ones you need to move and drag
them. With OpenOffice.org, the links will stay linked and
any that are changed will adjust themselves accordingly.
In the image, you can see the orange coloured thoughts
have been highlighted and their outlines indicate where
they are being moved to - you can see how the links
within the move stay the same but the one that bridges
the moved ideas with the static ones adjusts its position
If you need to distribute your thoughts, you can
export them as PDF files if you want to be truly
cross-platform. Like all good office programs, PDF export
is native to OpenOffice.org although, if you have
OpenOffice.org on more than one machine, you can of
course, distribute your files in the OpenOffice.org open
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