Saturday, 30 April 2005

I frequently get asked, "Do I have to install Visio just to view a Visio diagram someone sent me?" or "I don't want to install Office on this computer - where can I get the viewer program for PowerPoint files?"

And sometimes people are looking for file version/type converters because someone sends them a file created with a different version of an Office application.

  • Converters allow you to open files created by people using different versions of your Office programs.
  • Viewers provide a means for people who don't have Office programs to see your work. You can provide them with the appropriate viewer along with your Office files.

Both are useful and requests from all sort of people seem to come up every now and then.

So, here's a one-stop place at to download the latest versions of Microsoft's free Office viewer and converters. Or, just click below:

Access viewers

Excel converters and viewers

Outlook converters and viewers

PowerPoint converters and viewers

Microsoft Project converters

Visio converters and viewers

Word converters and viewers

Converters and viewers for Macintosh users

Add/Read: Comments [2]
Office 2003 | Tech
Saturday, 30 April 2005 11:12:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Microsoft on Friday released Live Communication Server 2005 Service Pack One (SP1), which is a free update that incorporates some important new and enhanced features as well as security changes:

Download links:

More information:

Add/Read: Comments [1]
IT Security | Office 2003 | Tech
Saturday, 30 April 2005 10:24:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback
 Friday, 29 April 2005

In December I had a minimally-invasive surgical procedure done on my lower back to try to help correct a herniated disc down there in my spine at the L5/S1 joint (that's just below hip level). The end result was a limited success, and I am pretty much back where I was before the procedure nowadays, as far as the back/leg pain, numbness and reduced motor skills in my legs go.

The original procedure was no guarantee, but we had high hopes. I decided a minimally-invasive procedure - one that would not require any permanent changes, cutting or physical limitations - was a good first shot to take. It just didn't work out as well as I would have liked.

MRI picture to gross people outSo, I have seen three highly-recommended doctors recently to talk with them about what can be done to help. I am in some level of pain 24/7, I wake up several times every night from the pain, and I am basically restricting my own activity so much that I am becoming fairly miserable and generally unhappy in life. I can't stand for any period of time, I can't stay seated for very long, walking any real distance is painful, lying down requires me to shift around constantly (hence waking up from pain), and really the only position that I can get into that gives me some relief is whatever position I am not in at the time.

The doctor who did the procedure in December told me he thought there were a few remaining possibilities for me: Live with it (always an option), maybe do a microsdiscectomy (an iffy proposition), bone fusion of the joint, or artificial disc replacement.

And, as it turns out, each of these three doctors I consulted with came to pretty much the same conclusion: The only thing that will work for me at this point is removal of the bad disc, followed by either fusing the joint or replacing the disc with an artificial one. Both methods have been around for a while. Artificial discs received FDA approval in the U.S. last year.

It's been very interesting (and enlightening) to visit three neurological surgeons with no information other than my MRI films and a verbal history of my pain and medical care, to see what they would tell me. I did not tell any of them what the other docs said or thought or diagnosed, but all three came up with the same result. That's encouraging, at least in terms of knowing where I really stand. Of course, the idea that I need a fairly major surgery to be better is a little intimidating. But, one further point of encouragement is the fact that all three doctors were quite confident that surgery would make a huge difference in my quality of life. All three said that I am practically the perfect candidate to benefit in a huge way from the procedure.

Then I started thinking about whether it's the "right" thing to do - Is it right to cut into your body and remove parts or put in fake parts? These thoughts keep going through my mind and I'm actually a bit surprised. I guess I just never had the chance to think them before now.

So now comes the decision. Oh boy, this is definitely not the easiest part. Deciding which doctors (it takes two - a vascular surgeon as well as the neurological surgeon), when to have it done (if at all), and which procedure is the best option for me. Not to mention the health insurance company part - who knows what they'll have to say.

A fusion means six to nine months of take-it-easy time, and a longer period of relative inactivity (that includes work). An artificial disc does not have the healing time (there is no fusion process to worry about) and so return to work/normal life is much faster. Fusion has been around for a long, long time. Artificial discs are newer - especially in the U.S. - but have been around for about 15 or so years.

The actual surgical procedure followed to do either the disc replacement or the fusion is pretty much identical. The only real difference is what goes between the vertebrae once they get to where they're headed - some metal cages, some bone, or the artificial disc. Getting in there and closing up is virtually the same.

Anyhow, if anyone who reads this also happens to have received an artificial disc (or knows someone who has), please let me know - I'd like to communicate with you. Also, anyone who's had a fusion, same deal - please contact me by commenting on this post, or click the mail icon over in the navigation sidebar.

Add/Read: Comments [6]
Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery | Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Friday, 29 April 2005 19:19:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback
 Thursday, 28 April 2005

I took this test, and here's my results. What's your English sound like?

Your Linguistic Profile:
85% General American English
5% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
5% Yankee
0% Midwestern

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

(via John Dunshee)

Add/Read: Comments [1]
Random Stuff
Thursday, 28 April 2005 20:40:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback
 Wednesday, 27 April 2005

Talisman_screenSveaSoft has published the new Talisman/Basic release of their replacement firmware for the Linksys WRT54G and WRT54GS wireless routers. It's available for v1.1 and newer revs of the router hardware (see the label on the bottom, if it's v1.1 or newer you'll see the numbers there).

Subscribers to Sveasoft's firmware service can download it now. It's only $20 a year, and if you're a hardware/software geek with a WRT54G, it's worth the $20 a year just for the fun of messing with it, not to mention the great functionality.

This firmware is excellent, and includes a large number of technical enhancements and improvements over both the default Linksys firmware and the previous SveaSoft firmware versions.

Just some of the extra features the SveaSoft firmware provides above and beyond what the default firmware gives you:

  • Increased output radio power (from 0 to 500mw - the router's default is 28mw)
  • Improved QOS capabilities
  • Advanced Routing Protocols - BGP, RIP2, OSPF, able to run simultaneously
  • Read-Write file system with standard SysV startup and shutdown scripts
  • in /usr/local/etc/init.d
  • Unlimited port forwarding, port range forwarding, and port redirection
  • Unlimited port triggering
  • Advanced QoS bandwidth management
  • PPTP server
  • Improved PPPoE handling
  • Enhanced Web Interface based on CSS
  • Repeater mode (WDS)
  • Bridge mode (client) - either routed or direct bridged
  • IPv6 support
  • Advanced IPv4 filtering
  • Ebtables L2 filtering
  • Safe parameter backup and restore with support for RW parition backup/restore
  • Enhanced DHCP server
  • Enhanced DNS server
  • Unlimited DHCP static leases with MAC ignore capability
  • Enhanced onboard time services
  • WPA security on WDS/repeater mode links
  • WPA security on bridge/client mode links
  • Enhanced status reporting

Add/Read: Comments [2]
Wednesday, 27 April 2005 22:48:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Classic funny moment - I've been victim of the Slashdot effect (lots of referral traffic) a couple of times in the past. A friend pointed this out to me just a minute or two ago. Looks like Slashdot's got a little hair of the dog that bit 'em problem? What comes around... Heh...


Thanks, Dave.

Add/Read: Comments [1]
Humor | Random Stuff
Wednesday, 27 April 2005 20:41:04 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback