Ask Leo! #617 – Travel, Repairing Office, Reinstalling Windows, (Learning Excel Macros), and much more…

A very packed newsletter this week!

Excel Macros for Beginners

Excel is a great tool for working with all types of data. You can slice and dice that data in lots of preset ways using the tools and functions that the program makes available. You can develop your own formulas that mix Excel's rich set of functions to get just the results you need.

Note that I said that Excel allows you to work in lots of "preset" ways. For some people, using those preset ways is enough, but for others, Excel may be a bit restrictive in allowing them to work with their data in exactly the way they need.

That's where the power of macros comes into play. With macros you can extend what Excel can do, making it process your data, worksheets, and workbooks just the way you want.

Allen Wyatt, a friend of mine, has been publishing his ExcelTips newsletter since 1998. (Yes, for 18 years - that's even longer than I've been doing Ask Leo!) He's also been writing books about Excel and teaching others how to use it for even longer than that.

He's put together what he's called the "Excel Macros for Beginners" course, and it's awesome! He's prepared a great overview to the course that you should definitely check out if you are new to the whole idea of creating your own macros.

Allen opens the doors to his course only a few times each year, and it opens today. The great news is that you can sign up for the course at 20% off the regular price! (This early bird pricing is available for only a limited time.) When you register for the course, you get 24/7 access to all materials--and there's a boat load of them--for a full year. Plus, Allen personally provides support for the first 6 weeks of the course.

Do yourself a favor and check out the course. You've got nothing to lose and an entirely new skillset to gain.

Oh, and in the spirit of full disclosure, you need to know that I do make a small commission if you decide to join Allen's course. You know I don't just recommend anything and everything, but I've been pointing people at Allen's work for years. His course has the quality and value that make me happy to recommend it without hesitation.

Give it a try. Remember that you've only got until September 22nd to take advantage of the early bird pricing, though.

Leo's Blog

A Couple of Travel Thoughts

Two of my more popular Ask Leo! articles cover travel related issues. I'm about to travel overseas, so touch on the two.

Continue Reading: A Couple of Travel Thoughts


How Do I Repair Microsoft Office?

When I want to open a file in Excel a dialog box appears: "PROGRAM ERROR: EXCEL.EXE has generated errors and will be closed by Windows. You will need to restart the program." How do I fix this?

This can happen for a number of reasons. In fact, it can happen to any of the Microsoft Office programs, including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, and others.

Fortunately, Microsoft Office has an option to help deal with situations like this.

You can repair Microsoft Office.

Continue Reading: How Do I Repair Microsoft Office?

How do I reformat and reinstall Windows?

To reformat and reinstall is the computer equivalent of erasing the chalkboard and starting over with a completely blank slate.

To a computer, that means erasing the hard disk and starting over with nothing.

That phrase "erasing the hard disk" is something exceptionally important – and worth understanding.

Continue Reading: How do I reformat and reinstall Windows?


The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet
Expanded Edition

You can use the internet safely!

Learn how to protect your computer, your data, your accounts,
and most of all, yourself!

All digital formats included.
The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet - Expanded Edition

Previous Issue

Glossary Term

wifi - open

Open wifi (more correctl,y Wi-Fi) is any Wi-Fi connection that has not been configured with a password. Anyone with a Wi-Fi-capable device can connect to an open Wi-Fi hotspot.

If a password is used on a Wi-Fi connection, then the data being transmitted over the air is encrypted. Open Wi-Fi uses no password, and as a result, the data in transit is not encrypted. It can be easily viewed by anyone in range with an appropriate Wi-Fi capable device, such as a laptop, and packe- sniffing software.

Ask Leo! – How do I use an open WiFi hotspot safely?

Glossary Terms are featured selections from The Ask Leo! Glossary.
Have a term you'd like defined? Submit it here.

Featured Comments

How Do I Find Who Hacked My Email?

Frank writes:

If you know the ip address of the culprit then use

Mark Jacobs (Team Leo) writes:

That's not a bad tool to determine the general area of the IP address, but not for finding out who the IP address belongs to. That would only give a rough estimate of where the IP address is located. Today it got mine pretty close, only 15 miles away. I've seen it off by several hundred miles in some cases.

What can people tell from my IP address?

Ten Tips for Fall

David writes:

I would add that Snopes can be a good resource, but they also have a bias and aren't always completely forthcoming in their assessments.

Leo writes:

They've been accused of bias over and over and over again - usually by people with agendas that are, to put it politely, not in alignment with facts. This so-called bias has, itself, been debunked time and time again by other third parties. Bottom line: no one is perfect, but Snopes is pretty darned good.

aa1234aa writes:

Good list Leo. When it comes to emails and new people entering the business world, it's good to learn some "good practices". These may seem silly when you're a newbie, but they'll pay off as you move up in the world. Here is my list of good email practices:

(a) Always write a subject line for the email.

(b) Do read the entire text of a received email before replying or acting. The subject line wasn't meant to be the entire email. It's embarrassing when the sender points out that he or she already addressed your issue in the original email - which you never read.

(c) NEVER send an email with just the subject line and no text in the email body. You do that a few times and your emails won't be opened.

(d) When you're feeling pressured or perturbed, write your email (or reply), but don't sent it. Save it and read the next day before sending. Chances are that you'll decide to tone it down.

(e) Sometimes in the chain of replied and forwarded emails the subject matter morphs and changes. Take the time to change the subject line or add to it. Also, take the time to pare down the list of recipients who will no longer be interested in the new topic.

(f) Use proper English and complete sentences. If you write like you speak, don't expect people to understand you (they don't see your expressions, hand gestures or hear your voice intonation). If you're not understood, you won't be heard - and eventually you'll be ignored. To err may be human, but too many of such "errs" and you're unprofessional. To say another way: Forget your smart phone texting habits for (business) emails.

(g) When sending an email to a large number of people, introduce the topic and say why you are including all of them in the email. Not everyone has been following your hallway conversations.

(h) If you want something from someone, state that explicitly. Ask a question or tell them to do something. If you're sending an email for information, then say this is FYI only - no action is required. As a corollary, if you're describing something and expect the recipients to reach a conclusion, then explicitly state the conclusion that you want ALL the recipients to reach.

(i) If your topic is complex and has a lot of data associated with it, don't just cut and paste a large volume of gibberish into your email and expect the receiver to decipher and understand it. Summarize the topic at the top of the email (like an executive summary) and say the details are attached.

(j) Never respond to an email with a one-word or brief reply, such as "Yes", or "I understand". This type of response gets lost in translation and the other guy is never sure what you understand or you're saying a "yes" to which part of the original email.

Finally, even if you think you're the big boss, do practice proper email communications, otherwise there is a good chance that you'll look silly.

Additional Comments


Thanks to the folks who took time out of their schedules to meet up in Montreal!

I always enjoy meeting readers. Putting faces to names and email addresses helps what I do feel just a little less impersonal. smile

And I have to say that Montreal itself exceeded my expectations - it's a beautiful city. My biggest impression was the tremendous amount of really great food, everywhere.


My next meet-up? The Netherlands!. I'll be visiting relatives the last week of September, and I'll be trying to carve out a meet-up location and time. This may be kind of a last minute thing, so stay tuned for more information.

Really looking forward to a return visit to my parent's homeland. It's been 16 years since I was there last. (The background image in this week's video is a photo I took during that trip.)

Coming Soon!

I've got a bit of an announcement coming next week. Something that, to be completely honest, has me pretty excited. It's an opportunity to make Ask Leo! less reliant on ever declining advertising revenue. I'll probably give it a test-whirl with my Facebook fans later this week, so if you can't stand the suspense and can perhaps give me a little feedback on it, go "Like" that page for the sneak-peek. Smile.

Leo A. Notenboom

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