Jewish World Review July 15, 2003 / 15 Tamuz, 5763

E-mailed spreadsheets are being received with formulas changed and different figures; two computers with router --- way to print from one that does not have any printers connected to it | (KRT) Q. Spreadsheets sent as e-mail attachments from us to a client are being received with some of the formulas changed and different figures. We have Excel 2002 and this client has Excel 2002 as well. This has been happening for several months, but apparently was not a problem previously.

The client is networked, and this has happened to spreadsheets sent to several different e-mail addresses within the company. Any ideas as to why this is happening and how it can be corrected?

So far everyone is telling me that it can't happen, but it has!

_Franket Kral

A. I pondered your puzzle for days and days and asked around the technical support community and got nothing but agreement with what everybody is telling you. It can't happen.

It's impossible for spreadsheet software to change itself.

So I turned to Sherlock Holmes for help, using his first principle of detective work: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

I suspect your gremlin is a human being, somebody most likely in your client's shop but possibly in your own with a prankish bent for switching data. Keep in mind that I am shooting from the hip and possibly casting unfair aspersions, but it certainly bears consideration.

And even if I am wrong, I have a fix that will make your spreadsheets intact until the intended recipient gets them.

I suggest that you use some form of encryption to lock the spreadsheets you are sending so that only the authorized party can decode them. Any spies on either network will be defeated with this strategy.

An easy way to do this is to use the bulletproof Pentagon-level encryption built into WinZip 9.0 for Windows available at The 128-bit and 256-bit AES encryption built in to the WinZip file compression software is considered close to impossible to crack and certainly will keep your gremlin's paws off the corporate data.

The idea is that you cook up a password and confide it in only the exact person at the client's shop to whom the spreadsheet is intended. The 128-bit security requires passwords of 32 letters and the 256-bit needs at least 64 letters. I use some snippet of poetry that I know well to create these passwords, and I tell the targeted person the code face to face whenever possible.

Q. I have two computers, both Pentium 4s, both running Windows 2000, connected through a router. One of the computers has a Hewlett-Packard Laser Jet 4 printer. I cannot figure a way to print from the other computer that does not have any printers connected to it.

I have set up the printers in both machines, and printing from Windows applications is no problem, or if I print from the computer with the printer attached to it.

I use PFSWrite and PFSFile (both great DOS programs) because I have an extensive amount of files that I use, and to reformat them to Windows is, and would be, a lifetime of work. Any thoughts?

_Rodney Hill

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A. The networking software that is supposed to let both machines share a printer cannot see the 16-bit code from those early DOS word-processing and database programs from PFS. But the driver software for the printer is able to handle the archaic code. So your files on the second machine won't print because they can't reach the printer due to the networking code - not the printer software.

You need a workaround, and an easy one is at hand.

Since you've networked the machines, it's as easy as having you move the files that you want printed into the shared folder on the primary machine by clicking on the network icon for it. Just drag the icon from your secondary machine onto the primary one. Now all you need to do is click it open and issue the print command.

Q. In regards to the reader in a recent column who had a problem with his old Windows NT machine and therefore needs to transfer his files to a new machine: Why doesn't he just install his old hard drive as a second drive on his new machine and transfer individual files as he needs them?

Transferring files from drive to drive is fastest. Also, transferring files only as he needs them will avoid clutter on his new machine and maybe prevent the new machine from freezing up like the old one did.

_Adelore Petrie

A. That thunk you may have heard last week was me slapping my forehead when I got your helpful note.

I passed it along to reader Michael Ogaway, whose NT machine went into gridlock and didn't respond to conventional fixes.

The problem was how to get data from the sick NT machine onto a new computer running Windows XP Professional.

I told him how to use the skimpy tools available in NT to attempt fixing problems like the corrupted device drivers that were making his workstation melt down a minute or so after boot-up.

If that didn't work, I suggested that particularly with Windows NT, it's best to take an ailing machine to a service center to have the data extracted and burned onto CD-ROMs.

I should have offered your suggestion about moving the whole hard drive onto the new machine. The new machine will be immune from the corrupt drivers and other ruinous problems on the old NT box but can easily read the data stored on it.

It's ironic, but the technical support folks where I work implemented this very fix in my own NT machine just days after the column when Mr. O's answer was published.

Doing this requires somewhat more than merely physically removing the hard drive from the old machine and bolting it into an available bay on the new one.

Changes must be made in the BIOS settings that the machine invokes at every boot-up.

These involve making the old drive from the NT machine a "slave" to the "master" drive on the Windows XP machine to which he is moving, and it's dangerous for the uninitiated to fiddle with BIOS settings.

But any shop that can extract data from a faulty drive can also do the needed installation work.

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James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Let us know what you think of rthis column by clicking here.


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07/07/03: Don't spend like a pro to convert audio to CDs; "browser hijackings"; automatically checking a CD
07/02/03: Saving time on distribution lists; he changed the color of the fonts in just that one spreadsheet file; not enough space on 'c' drive, lots on 'd'
06/25/03: How to get rid of porn spam; Windows XP dictionary?; Windows ME system can no longer find the Internet with Windows applications
06/25/03: NT flashes "at least one service/driver failed during system startup"; automatically converting .doc and .xls files to .dat; transfers to XP not as vexing as they may seem
06/19/03: Can't open Zip files; RealPlayer won't play .avi files; step-by-step process to "burn" digital images
06/18/03: Restore missing Word task bars in a normal way; computer was zapped, how to fix it; spell check won't upgrade

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