Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Wonderful Thing About Windows Is...

That Windows Just Loves to Reboot. (Apologies to A. A. Milne)

I've finally got my mouse wheel back in Windows 7.  I've tried again and again, in Control Panel > Mouse resetting the parameters on the wheel. It never seems to work. And it's been rebooted countless times in the interim.

Today, I was making sure that my Node.js tool chain worked in windows, so I could hand it off to a windows developer. The lack of scroll wheel was driving me insane - I finally had enough and said to myself "I'm fixing this before I do anything else". So, armed with the old adage that 'the wonderful thing about windows is that windows just loves to reboot'  I tackled the issue. Here is what finally worked.

  1. Reboot.
  2. Enable touchpad (I hate touchpads, they trigger too often when my hands get tired). Reboot.
  3. Using the tray touchpad utility from Dell, I reset the pointer devices to default. Reboot.
  4. Went into Control Panel > Mouse, and changed my Mouse wheel params. Reset them Back. Reboot.
  5. At this point, the mouse wheel finally started working. I went back to the touchpad utility, and disabled it. Reboot.
  6. Now I have a working mouse wheel, and a disabled touch pad. 
Hooray for Windows!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Parsing a PDF file in Excel

Every Linux distro comes with a handy utility called pdftotext. But you can use it on a windows machine, as well.  Using the browser of your choice, visit, and download the precompiled for x86 Windows.

Different windows versions and installs give you different default directories, so I'll tell you what I did.

1. The file you downloaded is a zip, so first unzip it.Then look in the subfolders - on my pc:


     if you are running on a 32 bit OS, there is also a


2. Go to Start>Run and enter cmd. That puts me in C:\Users\Bruce. Then enter cd Documents. My dos prompt now says


    That maps to the Documents folder on the start menu. In an explorer window, copy the pdtotext.exe file from the folder in step 1 to your Documents folder.

3. Put your PDF doc in the Documents folder. Now, from the dos prompt, enter:

      pdftotext <filename>.pdf -layout

In the explorer window, you should now see a file named <filename>.txt

If that gives you the results you are looking for, then this excel macro will probably make things easier - just change the line:

        exe = "C:\Users\Bruce\Documents\pdftotext.exe"

to reflect where your exe ended up:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How To Uninstall Firefox in Linux Mint

One of the best features of Linux is the package manger. The package manager gives you the freedom to install your choice of many great software applications. And, if you so choose, you can also remove those same applications. After all - it's a free distro. Free as in beer, and free as in choice.

It is pretty easy to remove Firefox - just open a terminal window and enter:

$ sudo apt-get remove firefox

Firefox came pre-installed in the latest version of Linux Mint, which I recently installed. So is it safe to remove? Why not - after all, it's not Internet Exploder! And, if you read my post Enabling the Java Plugin for Chrome in Mint, which piggybacks on Firefox, don't worry - the Java plugin still works in Chrome.

Now, if it turns out you do need Firefox after all - perhaps there is a web app that you use that only runs in Firefox, just re-install it:

$ sudo apt-get install firefox

I did and voila - all of my preferences and settings were still there, along with all of the plugins I had previously installed.