Category Archives: How-to guides

Windows 7 Update – SERIOUS problem

I have my Windows 7 updates set to manual, meaning I get the notification, but the update isn’t installed automatically. If you do the same, and you haven’t already installed update KB4512506, do NOT install it:

The update is called:

2019-08 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows 7 for x64-based Systems (KB4512506)   285.9 MB

That 285.9 MB update size was suspicious, so I tried to get further information, but the links [on the update page] did not work. So I went online and searched for KB4512506. This is what I found on the Microsoft forum:

The critical part here is this:

Further down the Microsoft forum page you can find workarounds that may help you fix the error if it’s already happened to you.

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/security-update-kb4512506-leads-to-bootbcd-error/8f97ba71-6da8-44be-9478-7542312b39bd

If it hasn’t, I strongly recommend ‘hiding’ this update so Windows won’t install it. This is how:

With the update page displayed, right click update KB4512506. You should now see a small popup with just two options:

Click ‘Hide update’.

This will cause the update to be ‘greyed out’. You can now install all the other updates if you wish.

Just a bit of history about this contentious update. The size of the file makes me think it’s an updated version of an earlier update [March? April?] that I refused to install. The reason I refused to install it back then was because under the Support link it stated clearly that installing the update would lead to problems with the Network Card. Thanks but no thanks.

I still don’t know exactly what this update was meant to fix, but I continued to not install it while I waited for Microsoft to fix whatever caused the problems with the Network card. Microsoft never did, through multiple updates. Now, it appears they’ve made it even worse, all without warning ordinary users of the potential harm it can cause.

Curiously, not installing the update allowed nothing ‘bad’ to happen to my pc. I admit that might be because I have one of the best anti-virus software installed, but it does make you think, doesn’t it?

If I were a writing a novel, the cast of characters might include an unscrupulous multinational corporation that deliberately sabotaged its clients just to make them buy its latest product. Luckily, even I’m not that much of a conspiracy theorist. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 


How to disable Quick Access in Windows 10

I have to use Windows 10 when I’m teaching, and I’ve found that the new Quick Access option in File Explorer is confusing the hell out of my students.

Quick Access is like the old ‘Recent Places’ in Windows 7, except that in Windows 7, you control whether you see those recently accessed files and folders or not. In Windows 10, the ‘Quick Access’ function displays recent places by default, and they always appear at the top of the navigation tree. Essentially they are duplicating some of the files and folders shown under ‘This PC’, making my students wonder:

  • Which version of a file or folder should they use?
  • And if they do use the handy Quick Access area, why doesn’t it show ALL of their files and folders?
  • Have those other files and folders been lost?

For beginners, this duplication only leads to confusion and makes understanding how to save and retrieve their work even harder. For this reason, I told them to ignore Quick Access and go straight to ‘This PC’.

Why? Because only in ‘This PC’ will you find all the files and folders stored on your computer.

Sadly, it’s hard to ignore Quick Access when it’s the first thing you see and you have to scroll way down the screen before you can even see ‘This PC’. To solve this problem, I went searching for a way to tame Quick Access without requiring the powers of a super geek to do it. And here it is:

Step 1

Open File Explorer.

Step 2

Click the File button [or tab] on the File Explorer toolbar as shown:

Step 3

You should now see a menu of options. Click ‘Change Folder and search options’ as shown:

 

Step 4

You should now be looking at a popup menu of Folder options. The first option on the General tab is ‘Open File Explorer to:’ Quick access’. To change this option, click the small arrow next to ‘Quick access’ as shown:

Step 5

You should now be looking at the two available options – Quick access and This PC. Click the option for ‘This PC’ as shown:

Now, File Explorer will automatically go down to ‘This PC’ whenever you open it.

But…

Quick Access is still there, and it’s still saving a ‘history’ of every folder you’ve opened and every file you’ve created or edited. In other words, the confusion continues.

Step 6

To stop Quick Access from continuing to duplicate your movements, you’ll have to stop it from saving that history. With Folder options still open, go down to ‘Privacy’ and untick the two options shown there:

 

Step 7

File Explorer will no longer track what you do on your computer, but your past movements are still there, in Quick Access. To clear everything out of Quick Access you have to clear out the history as shown below:

Once you click the ‘OK’ button, all of the File Explorer history will be gone from Quick Access, and it won’t come back!

There doesn’t appear to be any way of getting rid of the Quick Access option entirely, but at least now it won’t duplicate every thing you do on your computer, and you will be in control of what you see on File Explorer. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Lots of hands but no feet

I’ve lost track of how many of these progress posts I’ve published, but here’s the next milestone in the creation of the iVokh:

That’s a screenshot of my desktop. It’s where I place the latest iteration of the image so I can see it without the distraction of the Corel Draw 8 work screen. Plus, I have to admit that seeing the image in a different context makes mistakes more ‘visible’ somehow. The same thing applies to writing; even a small visual change can force the brain to see what’s there instead of what should be there.

This next pic shows the Corel Draw work screen. If you look at the bottom left of the screen, you can see that the composite image is made up of 102 individual ‘objects’:

The tiny, shiny dots scattered across the image are ‘nodes’ on the objects. Nodes allow you to manipulate vectored images with great precision. For example, many images that appear to be one image are in fact many images, layered over each other to match up colours and lighting effects [as much as possible].

To keep all those objects in the right place and the correct order, I’ve used the Corel Draw ‘Group’ function to keep myself sane. This is the same image split into its component groups:

If I were a plotter instead of a pantster, I would have created a discrete ‘layer’ for each group. Layers are like transparent sheets of glass, stacked one on top of the other. Thus, you can work on an individual group without disturbing the groups in front of or behind it. Using layers would have made this simple little project [hah!] a hell of a lot easier to manage…

-sigh-

Unfortunately, I’m not a plotter and have to do everything the hard way…

Still, I am getting happier with the overall image every day. Not only am I having fun, I’m also setting the iVokh biology in stone, so to speak. Like the dictionary and mini-encyclopedia of ‘world facts’, I need to know exactly what the iVokh [and Vokh] look like so I don’t make stupid mistakes in books 2 and 3 of Vokhtah. Series are a pain like that. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Lefties – how to adjust the mouse buttons in Windows 10

I wrote up a quick how-to for a student of mine and thought it might be useful for other left handers out there.

Step 1

Click the START button [circled in red] to display the Start Menu. On the Start Menu, click ‘Settings’[shown in green] :

Step 2

With the Settings dialog box displayed, click ‘Devices’ [shown in green] :

Step 3

With the Devices dialog box displayed, click ‘Mouse & touchpad’ [shown in green]:

Step 4

With the ‘Mouse & touchpad’ dialog box displayed, click ‘Left’.

The option for ‘Right’ will now be displayed.

Click ‘Right’ as shown:

Left handers should now be able to mouse click using the index finger of their left hand and the right button of the mouse. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Self-publishing a paperback – trim size and bleed

The following extract is taken from my how-to books and explains about two key printing terms: ‘trim size’ and ‘bleed’.

Trim Size

The term ‘trim size’ refers to the finished size of your book – i.e. after the pages have been glued inside the cover and trimmed off neatly.

There are many trim sizes available, but the most popular sizes for non-fiction are shown in Table 1 below:

As even the largest of those trim sizes is slightly smaller than a normal A4 page, the trim size you choose will inevitably change the total page count of your book.

Note: the size of a default Word document is A4, and A4 is 8.27” x 11.69” in size.

This change in page size will have consequences in terms of layout. For example, you may find large gaps on pages where the graphics no longer fit. As a result, some re-formatting will be required. Furthermore, as the spine of the cover depends upon the number of pages in the book, trim size will indirectly affect the width of the spine as well.

You can see a complete table of trim sizes available in KDP – in both inches and cm – at the web address below:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201834180#trim

Bleed

Although selecting the right trim size is the first critical step in printing your book, ‘bleed’ can be the second.

To illustrate the concept of ‘bleed’, consider the two pages below:

Note: the dotted green line represents the trim line.

The image on the left extends past the trim line into the ‘bleed’. When the page is trimmed, the image will have a crisp, clean edge with no white showing. By contrast, the image on the right does not extend into the ‘bleed’ and will have a thin white edge after it is trimmed:

Although most novels do not contain photographs, some do include maps and illustrations, and for them, bleed may be an issue.

If those images sit within the normal margins of the page, the book will not need bleed, but if they extend to the very edge of the page, the book will need bleed. This point is highlighted in the two pages below:

So keep ‘bleed’ in mind when you select the trim size of your book.

Another factor to consider is the length of your book.

A short book printed in a large trim size may end up looking too thin. A long book printed in a small trim size may end up looking too ‘fat’. More importantly, the spine may not be wide enough to allow for the printing of the title.

Note: KDP requires a minimum of 100 pages to print the title on the spine.

And finally, there’s the question of genre. Books are tactile objects and readers get used to a certain size in their favourite reading material.

Note: books that are either too big or too small for their genre may not be as ‘visible’ to a reader intent on buying a book.

Table of trim sizes – with and without bleed

The following is a table of trim sizes available with KDP:

I hope this proves to be useful. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


2 free days for the KDP how-to books

I should probably stretch these promotions out but…meh, let’s have some fun. 🙂

Okay, from October 23 to 24 [2 days], the ebook version of How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing and How to Print Non-Fiction with Kindle Direct Publishing will be free on Amazon:

The difference between the two books is that the How to…Novel is pitched at absolute beginners while the How to Non-Fiction is for self-publishers who have to deal with lots of graphics. Oh and the How to Non-Fiction has a new Index of Links at the very back. You can find it by looking at the bottom of the Table of Contents.

If you’re just interested in the KDP side of the equation, both books cover the same information. This includes three appendices that contain information specifically for Aussie authors.

Both how-to books are in colour and fixed layout:

Although you can pinch-and-zoom with fixed format ebooks, you can’t change the font size to suit your comfort zone. That’s why I made the font size 24. On my Kindle Fire, that size is like a normal size 12 font in a paperback. I also made the pictures as ‘visible’ as possible so you wouldn’t have to keep zooming in and out all the time. I haven’t tried either book on a phone so if anyone gives it a try I’d love to know how well [or badly] it works.

Fixed format ebooks can only be read on one of the Kindle Fires or via the free Kindle app.  You can get the app. for a variety of devices at this web address:

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/fd/kcp

The free promotion should start at midnight tomorrow for the Northern hemisphere. For us Aussies, it will begin at about 6 pm tomorrow.  I genuinely hope lots of people download the books, and I would really, really appreciate the odd review. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


How to fudge an Index with Kindle Create

There used to be a number of individual Kindle applications you could download and install, now there’s just one: Kindle Create.

When you open Kindle Create on your computer, you’ll be presented with two options – text heavy novels or graphics heavy non-fiction:

The one I use is ‘Textbooks, Travel Guides, Cookbooks, Music books’. It requires a PDF file and allows me to control exactly where and how text and graphics appear on the page [of the ebook].

Termed ‘fixed format’, these ebooks behave almost exactly like print books in that the size of the e-reader screen is the size of the ‘page’, and the text and graphics have to be sized to suit that page.

The screenshot below was taken from within Kindle Create and shows how the fixed format ebook will appear on a Kindle Fire:

The three things you should notice are:

  1. The page is in colour,
  2. The page contains a graphic image that fits exactly within the margins,
  3. The page contains a hyperlink.

All three elements, and their placement, were set in the original Word file, before it was converted into a PDF. Kindle Create then imported the PDF and converted it to a proprietary format called .kcb. [When the file is ready to be published to the Kindle, it will be converted to its final format which is called .kpf]. The important thing to note is that all three elements are retained in the .kcb file, including the hyperlink.

You won’t be able to do much in the way of editing, but you will be able to create a Table of Contents. The TOC is bog simple, manual and only allows for one TOC entry per page. It also allows for only one level of TOC.  Effectively, this means that you will be able to create a table of chapter headings and not much else. And, of course, there is no option for creating an Index.

The lack of a deep TOC and no Index means that non-fiction ebooks are kind of hard to dip into and ‘browse’. Yet that is precisely what most non-fiction readers need. How was I going to make my e-textbook more user friendly?

The answer was kind of obvious, once I thought of it. -sigh-

As mentioned before, Kindle Create gives you the option of preserving any hyperlinks present in your PDF. This means you can tap a link inside the ebook and be taken directly to that location…both inside the ebook and out.

-cue light bulb moment-

What if I added a list of hyperlinks to my Word document before I converted it to the PDF?

If Kindle Create preserved all those hyperlinks, I’d end up with a list of links in alphabetical order! I’d end up with an Index of Links!

As with all great ideas, mine turned out to be a wee bit harder than expected.

I started by creating a simple two column table in Word.

Then I printed off the Index pages of the paperback and marked the most important Index entries. I then typed those into the left hand column of the table with one Index entry per cell.

Next, I trawled through the print Index a second time, marking the most important ‘Subentries’. They went into the right hand column with one subentry per line.

Finally, I selected a subentry, opened the Insert tab and clicked Link:

The screenshot above shows the ‘Insert Hyperlink’ dialog box in Word 2016. If you have text selected before you open the dialog box, Word will automatically make that text the ‘Text to display’ [see two linked orange circles]. In other words, you will see that text rather than the hyperlink itself.

The orange circle labelled as ‘A‘ shows that ‘Place in This Document’ has been selected as the general location of the hyperlink.

The orange circle labelled as ‘B‘ shows the TOC sub-heading selected to be the actual location of the hyperlink.

Wait…’TOC sub heading’?

Yes. When you create a link within a document, Word looks for the same heading styles that are used to generate a Table of Contents. As my document contains five levels of heading styles – i.e. from Heading 1 through to Heading 5 – those headings are the locations I can use for my hyperlinks. Effectively, I’m using all the TOC levels Kindle Create won’t let me put into its Table of Contents to create an Index of sorts. It’s not perfect, and this work around does entail a lot of work, but…a fudged index is better than no index at all.

In case you’re wondering, this is what the Index of Links looks like in Kindle Create:

Apologies for yet another how-to post, but I was kind of pleased with my little solution. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


How to work with images in Word 2016 (Part 1)

Strictly speaking, Word is a wordprocessor not a graphics application. Neverthelss, it does offer a small, but functional range of tools for do-it-yourselfers. So whether you’re an Indie creating a cookbook of favourite recipes, a student putting together a thesis, or simply someone with a report to write that includes a lot of graphics, this series of posts is for you.

Changing Word defaults

As mentioned in the introduction, Word is primarily a wordprocessor. More importantly, it is a wordprocessor for business applications, so it automatically reduces image quality in order to provide the best overall result for business documents. To control the quality of the images in your document, you have to change two of the Word defaults: image compression and image resolution. Both of these settings can be found in File/Options.

To begin, open your manuscript in Word and click the blue File tab on the Ribbon.

Select ‘Options’ from the navigation pane on the left:

Word now displays the Options dialog box:

  1. Click Advanced to display the Advanced options on the right hand side of the dialog box. Scroll down until you see ‘Image Size and Quality’.
  2. Tick the box next to ‘Do not compress images in file’.
  3. Next, click the small arrow next to ‘Default resolution’. This will display a drop down list.
  4. Select the option for ‘High Fidelity’ as shown in the screenshot above.
  5. Click the OK button to exit the Options dialog box.

Now, when you add an image to your document, you will be in control of the quality of the image.

Inserting an image

If you are working with images, chances are you already know how to insert an image into a Word document. Still, it doesn’t hurt to cover the basics so this is how you place an image in a document.

Click the cursor at the location where you want the image to go [roughly].

Click Insert on the Ribbon and select the ‘Picture’ option:

Note: the ‘Picture’ option is for images saved to your computer. ‘Online Pictures’ allows you to search the internet for pictures and paste them directly into your document. Quite apart from copyright issues, ‘Online Pictures’ is not a good option because you can’t control the size or quality of the image you import into your document.

Locate the required image on your computer and select it.

Word will automatically resize large images to fit the space available. It will also place the image ‘In Line with Text’. This is the default ‘Wrap Text’ setting, and it will ‘lock’ the image to the text at that location.

Wrap Text Settings

The ‘Wrap Text’ settings determine how the image will interact with the text. If you leave ‘In Line with Text’ as the setting, you will be able to change the size of the image, but you will not be able to move it.

There are two ways of changing the ‘Wrap Text’ settings of an image. The first is via the Ribbon. The second is via the small icon displayed next to the image.

Wrap Text via the Ribbon

Click an image to select it.

This will open the Picture Tools/Format menu:

The available ‘Wrap Text’ settings show ‘In Line with Text’ at the top of the list. Next to each setting is an icon that represents the function of that particular setting. The same icons are shown on the mini menu available next to each image.

The Wrap Text mini menu

When you select an image, it is displayed with ‘handles’ around the outside and a small icon to the right:

 

Click that icon to display the mini menu of ‘Wrap Text’ settings.

The mini menu displays the same icons as the ‘WrapText’ option on the Ribbon, but it does not label those icons so it’s only useful once you know what each icon represents.

 

The Wrap Text Icons

In Line with Text

This is the default option for each new image. It does not allow the image to move freely.

 

Square, Tight & Through

These three options make the text flow around the image on four sides. There are minor variations, but the image will look as if it’s ‘boxed’ in by the text.

Note: click-hold-and-drag the image to position it horizontally in the paragraph from the far left through to the far right.

Top & Bottom

This option pushes the text above and below the image, like bread in a ‘sandwich’.

Note: the image is locked to the paragraph that comes before it. If text is deleted above this paragraph, and there is not enough room for both paragraph and image to ‘move up’, neither will, resulting in a gap on the page. To fix: reduce the image size or change the text wrapping.

Behind Text

This option allows the image to become the background with the text sitting on top of it.

Note: the image can be hard to select if you need to do any editing.

In Front of Text

This option allows the image to float over the top of the text. It will also obscure any text beneath it.

To select any of the ‘Wrap Text’ options, simply click the icon that represents the setting you wish to use.

cheers

Meeks

 

 


How-to guide is now free!

Good morning all. 🙂 It’s 6:57am here in lovely Melbourne, and I just realised I forgot to post about the freebie here on WordPress. So….

‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ is now free on Amazon:

https://preview.tinyurl.com/y8fl4bks

The promotion ends at midnight US time and about 5pm-ish Australian time.

For those who have never tried any of my how-to’s, all my guides are pitched at the true beginner and include step-by-step instructions, with examples for the ‘why?’ and pictures for the ‘how?’.

If this appeals to you, please download the ebook version while it’s free. This ebook can be read on Kindle Fire tablets or on the free Kindle reading app for tablets, pc, mac and phone.

cheers

Meeks


KDP pricing vs IngramSpark pricing

I’ve just been speaking to IngramSpark [Australia] and discovered that Ingram only charge for the actual print cost of a paperback!!!!

-dance-

No idea why that’s such a big deal?

Allow me to explain. 🙂

When you print [and sell] your paperback through KDP, your royalty is calculated as the difference between the sale price of the book and two things:

  1. the print cost
  2. the cost of distributing [i.e. selling] through Amazon

Amazon’s distribution cost will always be 40% of the List Price [the sale price], but the print cost will vary depending on what, and how, you print. For example, black & white costs much less than colour.

To explain how distribution and print cost affect royalty, I’m cheating a bit and taking the next bit straight out of my KDP how-to book:

Royalty = (List Price – 40% [to Amazon]) – Printing

Or to put it another way, when your paperback sells on Amazon:

  1. Amazon takes its share – 40% – from the total sale price,
  2. This leaves 60% of the total sale price.
  3. From this 60%, Amazon takes the actual print costs.
  4. Whatever is left over is your royalty.

To illustrate this point, let’s say the List Price of a book is $10 and the print cost is $5.

  1. From that $10, Amazon takes $4 – i.e. 40%.
  2. That leaves $6.
  3. From that $6, Amazon takes $5 – i.e. the cost of the printing.
  4. That then leaves $1 as the royalty owed to the author.

 [10 – 4] – 5 = 1

Note: back when you had the option of selling your paperback directly through CreateSpace, the cost of selling through CS was 20% rather than the 40% owed to Amazon, but there was still a charge.

Knowing how Amazon and CreateSpace calculate royalties, I assumed that IngramSpark must have a distribution cost factored in there somewhere as well. But they don’t, and I couldn’t be happier! IngramSpark will distributre your paperback worldwide without charging for the distribution. All they charge is the print cost. Suddenly, the setup fee and the revision fee don’t feel so bad any more.

Until I see exactly how Amazon and IngramSpark function together, I won’t be completely sure of my figures, but I am now itching to try it and see. And of course, you’ll be the first to know what I’ve learned. 😀

cheers

Meeks

 


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