Microsoft Office 2013: 10 Best Features!

Did you know that the new Office 2013 wil be unavailable for Windows XP and Vista?

If you’re looking to start using Microsoft Office 2013 when it is released, but you’re still using Windows XP or Vista as your OS, it may be time for an upgrade. Microsoft confirmed that Office 2013 will only be available for systems running on Windows 7 and Windows 8.

That means that more than half of all Windows computers will be unable to use the new Office 2013 suite, though it is projected that by early 2013 Windows 7 will take over the majority.

Windows XP is set to be retired completely by April 2014, in hopes of pushing people to Windows 8 if software compatibility allows.

Office 2013: Big Mobile Bet

Microsoft through the years has earned a reputation for being stodgy and dull, but deep down inside, Redmond's a gambler. How else can you explain the company's decision to essentially bet the farm on Windows 8–a radical redesign of the world's dominant desktop computer operating system–to create a one-size-fits-all user interface for PCs, tablets, and phones? The new Office 2013, the latest version of Microsoft's (again dominant) productivity suite, is part of that risky strategy.

Office 2013, which won't ship until sometime next year, at unannounced prices, isn't as bold a departure from its predecessor as Windows 8 compared to Windows 7. The familiar Office Ribbon–love it or hate it–is still the primary means of navigation in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office programs. But the Ribbon has adopted a flatter, no-nonsense look inspired by Windows 8's Metro apps. And many of Office 2013's innovations are geared towards multi-touch tablets, including finger and stylus controls that may help spur Office's migration to mobile devices, where Microsoft is just another also-ran behind dominant players Apple (iOS) and Google (Android).

Here's another decidedly mobile move: Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, will come with ARM-based Windows 8 devices, including the recently announced Microsoft Surface slate.

Despite the mobile focus, there's plenty of cool stuff in Office 2013 for desktop users. Topping the list is the tight integration of Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud service, which saves Office files online and syncs them across multiple digital devices. For business users there's Office's new integration with recently acquired Microsoft properties, including Skype and the Yammer social network. And Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote have a few several compelling enhancements too, although not enough to warrant an upgrade on their own.

So what's Microsoft's game plan with Office 2013? To battle the consumerization of IT, writes Forrester analyst Rob Koplowitz in a Monday blog post:

"For a long time Microsoft ruled the knowledge worker part of the IT seas with impunity. They have fended off attacks from the expected folks like IBM and Oracle rather handily. Then the consumerization wave hit. Turns out the danger came not from a frontal assault from another battleship, but from a huge array of small pirates. Knowledge worker eyeballs that always belonged to Microsoft strayed to Evernote, Dropbox, Box, Jive, Yammer, Google Apps, Confluence, you name it."

Is Office 2013 the right productivity suite for an increasingly mobile workforce? Click through the slideshow and draw your own opinions.

Cloud Comes First

Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud service has languished for years, but that will soon change with the arrival of Office 2013 and Windows 8. SkyDrive, in fact, is being positioned to play a key role in Office users' day-to-day computing lives. Office 2013 saves your documents to SkyDrive by default, enabling you to access files across multiple devices, including a smartphone and tablet. When you sign into Office, your personalized settings and recently used files are already there for you.

The new Office is available as a cloud-based subscription service too. Office 365, currently sold to businesses, will be available to home users as well. In addition to receiving future Office upgrades automatically, subscribers will get additional SkyDrive storage, multiple installs for several users, and added perks such as international calls via Skype. You'll also be able to stream Office apps to an Internet-connected Windows PC. Microsoft hasn't announcing pricing yet, but plans to do so this fall.

Touch And Stylus

Office 2013 ventures beyond the mouse and keyboard to embrace touch and pen input. While multi-touch laptops aren't–and probably won't be–a mainstream choice for business and home users anytime soon, touch is an essential component of smartphones and tablets, obviously. The pen may be making a comeback too, judging by the popularity of Samsung's stylus-equipped Galaxy Note.

What kind of touch features does Office 2013 have? The same ones you've grown accustomed to using on your phone and tablet: Swipe a finger across the screen to turn a page; pinch and zoom to read documents; and write with a finger or stylus. And when you write an email by hand, Office 2013 automatically converts it to text.

Metro Look: For Better Or Worse

Office 2013 conforms to Microsoft's "Metro" look that's pervasive across the software developer's latest mobile apps. Note the flatness of the Office Ribbon in Word 2013 (above) versus its predecessor in Word 2010. Much of Office's eye candy, including three-dimensional elements and the translucent Aero UI that provided a hazy peek at the Desktop behind the open program, is gone.

Don't care for the Office Ribbon? As with Office 2010, when you switch to full-screen model, the Ribbon vanishes. To retrieve it, simply click three small dots in the upper-right corner of the screen.

Edit PDFs In Word

Hurrah! You can edit PDF files in Word 2013. Simply open a PDF as you would any other document. Word 2013 maintains the formatting of the file, which is fully editable. You can insert pictures and videos from online sites such as YouTube and Facebook as well. And readers can watch video clips from inside your document.

When you start Word, a right-side column shows your recently used documents. New users will see thumbnails of templates in the main window too. (More free templates are available online.) Word 2013's Read Mode, which reformats text into columns and lets you to flip through pages with a simple click or swipe of the screen, was clearly designed with tablets in mind.

Excel Tweaks

Microsoft introduced Excel nearly three decades ago. Like most mature business apps, the venerable spreadsheet does what it does very well, and Redmond certainly doesn't want to rankle millions of Excel number-crunchers. Hence, no radical redesign is necessary.

Excel 2013 does offer some useful upgrades though, including new templates for budgets, calendars, forms, and reports. The new Quick Analysis Lens lets you convert data to a chart or table in a couple of steps. Flash Fill (above) recognizes patterns in your data and automatically fills cells accordingly. Say, for instance, you want to separate first and last names into separate columns. Simply begin typing the first names in a new column, press Ctrl+E, or click Data > Flash Fill, and Excel will copy the first names (in correct order) for you.

Powerful PowerPoint

PowerPoint 2013 is a fine-tuned version of a seasoned productivity app. As before, the program steps you through the presentation-building process. It now sports an updated Start screen with a variety of new themes and color schemes. The enhanced Presenter View makes it easier to zoom in on a diagram, chart, or other detail that you want to emphasize to your audience. And the Navigation Guide lets you switch slides, even move out of sequence, from a grid that you can see but your audience can't.

PowerPoint's collaboration tools allow business colleagues to work from different PCs to build a single presentation. The Comments section makes it easy for participants to post and track their opinions too. And presentations are saved online by default to either SkyDrive or SharePoint.

OneNote: Made For Metro

Microsoft's OneNote note-taking app is well-suited to tablets, and the Office 2013 edition benefits greatly from the clean, Metro-style UI. It automatically saves your notes to SkyDrive–you don't have to click or tap "Save"–thereby making your brainstorming sessions readily available across your multiple devices running the OneNote app.

OneNote 2013 lets you grab screens (or portions thereof) and add them to your notebooks. It's too soon to tell, but OneNote may prove to be one of the most compelling apps for business users who migrate to stylus-equipped Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets.

Skype Integration

Microsoft acquired Skype last year, and Office 2013 will be the first of Redmond's office suites to incorporate the popular VoIP service. You can integrate Skype contacts with Microsoft's enterprise-oriented Lync communications platform for calling and instant messaging. And Office subscribers get 60 minutes of Skype international calls each month. There's room for improvement, though. Skype integration doesn't appear to be a major priority in the preview version of Outlook 2013.

A Social Suite

Office 2013's strong social networking component appears to be targeted mostly at Microsoft's huge installed base of enterprise users. In addition to Skype, Office now includes Yammer, a secure and private social network for businesses that Microsoft tentatively acquired just last month. Yammer integrates with SharePoint, Redmond's Web application platform, and Microsoft Dynamics, the company's line of CRM and enterprise resource planning apps.

Office 2013's People Card tool provides detailed information about your contacts, including their status updates from Facebook and LinkedIn. Now you'll know what your clients had for lunch–and perhaps whether they had lunch with your competitors.

Big Screen Bonanza

Huge touchscreen displays aren't necessarily a feature of Office 2013, but the suite's stylus- and multi-touch-oriented UI enables it to work quite well with enormous LCD panels, such as Perceptive Pixel's 82-inch monster. PowerPoint presentations, particularly ones with embedded video, are a natural for large touch panels.

Educators may find large touchscreens useful too. A professor, for instance, could use OneNote in the classroom, jotting lecture notes and diagrams directly on a gigantic touchscreen; students could later access the notes via SkyDrive.

Speed up your scrolling in large Word documents

If you’re editing a large document that also includes a number of images, you may find that scrolling is quite slow. This happens because Word has to load each image as you scroll, which can make your productivity drag.

Fortunately, if you display picture placeholders rather than your actual images, you won’t have to worry about this needless slowdown any more.

To display picture placeholders:

  •     Select Tools | Options from the menu bar, and select the View tab. (In Word 2004, select Word | Preferences.
  •     In 2007, click on the Office tab, then select Word Options. Click on Advanced.)
  •     Select the Picture Placeholders check box (Image Placeholders in 2004) in the Show area, and click OK.

If an AutoShape or some other drawing tool is slowing down your scrolling, there’s also a way to deal with this—hide all drawing objects. Here’s how:

    Reopen the View tab of the Options dialog box.
    Deselect the Drawings check box, and click OK.

8 helpful Internet Explorer keyboard shortcuts

8 helpful Internet Explorer keyboard shortcuts

You can immediately take advantage of these shortcuts to boost your online productivity. All you need is a little patience to learn them, and some dexterity to put them to good use.

    Press [Ctrl]D to quickly save a web page to your Favorites list. If you add a lot of pages to your Favorites list while surfing, you know it can be frustrating and annoying to have to have to stop your surfing to choose Favorites | Add to Favorites, and then in the Add Favorites dialog box, click OK. The [Ctrl]D shortcut reduces this task to a quick keyboard stroke.

    Press [Backspace] to return to the previously viewed web page. While performing research on the web, you often need to quickly return to websites you previously visited in that session to compare facts. Repeatedly pressing the [Backspace] key cycles back through your visited websites, and pressing [Shift][Backspace] moves you forward through previously viewed sites.

    Press [Alt]D to move your insertion point to the Address Bar. If you tend to visit multiple websites while performing your research, you probably type new URLs into the Address bar constantly. Use this keyboard combination to move your insertion point to the Address bar where the URL is automatically selected so you can immediately type the new address.

    Press [Ctrl][Enter] to shorten your typing time. This IE shortcut prevents you from having to add www. before, and com after, the sites you type in the Address bar. For example, if you want to visit, simply type elementkjournals and press [Ctrl][Enter]. Internet Explorer automatically adds the www. prefix and the .com suffix and immediately takes you to the website.

    Press [Ctrl]F to perform a quick search. If you frequently search text-heavy websites for specific keywords, you likely choose Edit | Find (On This Page) to display the Find dialog box shown in Figure A. Instead, use the [Ctrl]F keyboard shortcut to bypass Internet Explorer’s menu bar altogether.

    Press [Alt][Home] to quickly return to your home page. If you’ve been searching online for an extended period of time and need to quickly return to your home page, press the [Alt][Home] keyboard combination to have IE load the page immediately.

    Press [Tab] to move to the next line on a web page. If you often search websites that are packed with links you want to explore, press the [Tab] key to navigate through them. When you do, a border surrounds each link, as shown in Figure B. Simply press the [Enter] key when a link is active and you’ll see the page that corresponds to the link.

    Press [F4] to view a list of websites you’ve visited. To retrace your web surfing steps, you can press the [Backspace] key to cycle through previously viewed websites. However, to view a list of just the websites whose URLs you’ve typed in the Address bar, press [F4]. The Address bar displays those sites, and you can use the [Down Arrow] and [Up Arrow] keys to cycle through them and locate the one you want.

Network problems? Check your ASA License.

Network problems? Check your ASA License.

Intermittent network problems affecting only some computers on the network can be frustrating to diagnose. That’s exactly what can happen if you have too many devices on the network for your ASA license.

A common mistake is to count only the computers, rather than all the devices on the network. Printers and other network devices also have IP addresses, so don’t forget to count them when you’re figuring how many licenses you need.

Because it’s so easy to make this mistake, be wary of accepting someone else’s word that there are only so many hosts on the network; take careful inventory so you can prevent any network licensing problems from developing.

How to Clean your Computer

I have a dirty secret………..

I've never cleaned my computer!

Sure, I've dusted my monitor, but I haven't taken off the cover or tried to reach the crumbs lurking inside my keyboard. And I honestly don't know the difference between pressurized air dusters and compressed air cleaners.

"Your computer could fry if you don't keep it clean," says Jonathon Millman, chief technology officer for Hooplah Interactive.

Whether it's a desktop or laptop/notebook computer, dust and lint can clog the cooling vents. This can cause your computer's brain—the central processing unit (CPU)—to heat up. And heat is the biggest cause of component failure in computers. Regular cleaning could save you costly maintenance fees down the road.

Follow the five simple steps in the cleanup and maintenance routine below to keep your computer and accessories looking shiny and new. It's an easy, do-it-yourself solution to help them run smoothly and last longer.

Preparation – You'll need:

  • Standard (flat-tip) and/or Phillips screwdriver
  • Can of compressed air (available from computer dealers or office-supply stores)
  • Cotton swabs (do not use a cotton ball)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soft, lint-free cloths, paper towels, or anti-static cloths
  • Water
  • Safety glasses (optional)

Important: Always turn your computer off and disconnect it from the power source before you begin any of these steps.

Step 1: Inside the case

If you see dust or other debris accumulating around the vents of your desktop or laptop, you can bet there's more inside—and it's only going to cause trouble. To remove it, you'll need to open the case. That may sound more intimidating than it really is. Before you begin, of course, make sure the computer is turned off and disconnected from the power source.

One more consideration: Manufacturers' policies vary, but, in some cases, opening your computer case may void your warranty. You may even encounter a warning sticker on the case. Review your warranty terms before continuing.

For desktop computers. Desktop computer manufacturers employ a variety of fastening mechanisms to secure the case. Face the back panel: Modern cases typically use two or more small knobs that you can turn by hand, or buttons that you press in, to release a side panel or the entire shell of the case. Others may require you to remove two or more slotted or Phillips screws. If in doubt, consult your owner's manual for specific instructions.

For laptop and notebook computers. Set the computer upside down on a table or other stable surface. (You may want to place a towel or paper under the computer to prevent scratches and scuffs.) Remove the battery. On most laptops, the vents on the underside will be grouped on a removable panel, secured to the case with several screws. Typically, these are very small Phillips-type screws, which may be of different lengths. Remove them, and be sure to keep track of which goes where.

After you're inside either your desktop or laptop, touch as little as possible inside the computer—keep your fingers away from cards and cords. Look for any dust bunnies or other bits of fluff in the nooks and crannies. Pick these out carefully with tweezers or a cotton swab. Blow compressed air around all of the components and along the bottom of the case, keeping the nozzle at least four inches away from the machine. Blow air into the power supply box and into the fan.

Try to aim the stream of pressurized air in such a way that it blows debris out of and away from crevices and recesses, rather than driving it deeper in. Safety glasses are a good idea, too, to keep the flying dust out of your eyes.

Take particular care when blowing the delicate fans. Overspinning them with excessive pressure can crack a blade or damage the bearings. Position the compressed air can well away, and use short bursts of air rather than a steady blast. As a precaution, you might also carefully immobilize the fan blades with your fingertip or a cotton swab while using the air can.

Lastly, blow air into the floppy disk, CD or DVD drives, and I/O ports—but again, not too aggressively. Wipe the inside of the cover with a lightly moistened cloth, and dry it before replacing it.

Millman recommends doing this every three months if your case sits on the floor, if you have pets that shed, or if you smoke. Otherwise, every six to eight months is fine.

Step 2: Outside the case

Run a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol around all of the openings on the outside of your case. Give them one swipe with the damp end of the swab and one swipe with the dry end. Do this as often as you clean the inside of your computer.

Step 3: Keyboard

Turn the keyboard upside down and gently shake it. Most of the crumbs and dust will fall out. Take a can of compressed air and blow into and around the keys. Next, take a cotton swab and dip it in rubbing alcohol. It should be damp, but not dripping wet. Run the cotton swab around the outside of each key. Rub the tops of the keys. Don't be stingy with the swabs. Discard them when they start to get dirty, and switch to a fresh one. If you have a laptop, follow the same procedure but take extra care with your machine—treat it as gently as you would a carton of fresh eggs. If your laptop has a touchpad, use the damp swap to wipe it clean, as well. Do this keyboard cleanup monthly.

It's tempting to use a vacuum cleaner to suck the debris out of the keyboard and other parts of the computer, but technicians warn that it can create a static electrical charge that can actually damage the computer's sensitive electronics.

Worried about spills?

If a spill happens, immediately turn off your computer, disconnect the keyboard, and flip it over. While the keyboard is upside down, blot the keys with a paper towel, blow compressed air between the keys, and leave it to air dry overnight. Check to ensure that all traces of moisture have evaporated before using the keyboard again. Laptop spills need more attention because liquid can easily penetrate the keyboard and damage internal parts. For laptop spills, immediately turn off the computer and remove any external power source and other items plugged into it. Turn the laptop over, remove the battery, and then bring it to your nearest repair center to check for internal damage. Simply blowing compressed air into the keyboard and letting your computer air dry upside down overnight aren't enough, because liquids can sit inside a laptop for days.

For all spills, be aware that anything other than plain water may cause severe damage, and never attempt to dry a keyboard or laptop in a microwave or conventional oven.

Step 4: Mouse

Disconnect the mouse from your computer. Rub the top and bottom of your mouse with a paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol. Scrape hard-to-remove grime with your fingernail. If you have an optical mouse, ensure that no lint or other debris obscures the light-emitting lens on the underside of the mouse.

If you use a mechanical mouse, open the underside of the mouse and remove the ball. (In most cases, you simply need to rotate the plastic ring encircling the ball one-quarter turn counterclockwise.) Wash the ball with water, and let it air dry. To clean inside a mechanical mouse, dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and rub all of the interior components, paying particular attention to the little rollers, where gunk tends to collect. Finally, blow compressed air into the opening and ensure that the interior is dry. Replace the ball and the cover.

Clean your mouse monthly.

Step 5: Monitor

For liquid-crystal display (LCD) laptop and flat-panel monitor screens, slightly moisten a soft, lint-free cloth with plain water. Microfiber cloths are excellent for this purpose. Avoid using paper towels, which can scratch monitor surfaces. Don't spray liquid directly onto the screen—spray the cloth instead. Wipe the screen gently to remove dust and fingerprints. You can also buy monitor cleaning products at computer-supply stores.

For glass CRT (television-style) monitors, use an ordinary household glass cleaning solution. Unless your manufacturer recommends differently, don't use alcohol or ammonia-based cleaners on your monitor, as these can damage anti-glare coatings. And never try to open the housing of a CRT monitor. Capacitors within can hold a dangerous electrical charge—even after the monitor has been unplugged.

Clean the monitor weekly. Finally, make sure that everything is dry before you plug your computer back in.

Phlebotomy Student Ms. McKiney Finds Work

We are very proud of Renisha McKiney who graduated our Phlebotomy Technician Program, and shortly thereafter received employment from LabCorp.

Way to go Renisha, and good luck with your future!

Hear her Testimonial HERE.


Tiffany Estrada – Newly Nationally Certified Medical Assistant

We are so proud of everything that Tiffany Estrada has accomplished. She was sponsored by a grant and she took full opportunity of what was provided to her. There were a few times she questioned herself and if she could or would complete the program, but she listened and took to heart the advice her counselors and instructors provided, and she completed and PASSED her National Certification Exam.

She is now certified as a Clinical Medical Assistant, as a Certified Phlebotomy Technician, Certified as a Electrocardiogram Technician, and she has earned her Clinical CPR, AED Certifications.

Keep up the GREAT work Tiffany and you will go far!

Tiffany Estrada and her Instructor Mr. Metcalfe

See what Tiffany had to say about her experience on our TESTIMONIAL page.

Jeri Morris – Newly Certified Medical Assistant

What can we say about Jeri Morris that most everyone does not already know…..She is a hard worker and a pleasure to know.

She came to The Learning Pad with a healthcare background, she was a EMT.

She quickly acclimated to the class and was putting out some of the highest grade point averages the school has seen. Soon she was assisting other students within the class in their learning as well. She is a born leader and will go far in this field.

She received an externship rather quickly after her classroom studies were completed, and shortly thereafter found employment and then passed her National Medical Assistant Certification exam.

Way go to Jeri, we are very proud of all the hard work you put into your studies! Check out Jeri’s testimonial HERE.


Her externship hired her! Way to go Paula Lavizzo

We are very proud of Paula Lavizzo and all that she has accomplished. Before she started with the Medical Assistant program here at The Learning Pad, she worked many years in manufacturing. As with most, the manufacturing industry had a downturn and she needed to find another career. She always wanted to learn and work in the healthcare area, but she had to be a provider for her family. Now the kids were out of the house, she could focus on her own education and advancement.

Paula was sponsored by the rural Workforce Center and her counselor was Jamie Jenkins.

Paula quickly excelled in class and with all her hands-on clinical activities. Soon she was showing the newer ones in class how to perform venipunctures and EKG’s.

Paula soon found an externship with Specially for Children . She was a little worried if she would secure it as she needed a part time externship since she had to get a job. They were able to work with her and provide her part time hours. And as with other students of The Learning Pad, they were impressed enough with her abilities, that they extended employment to her. And she is not fully done with her externship yet!

How awesome for Paula! She now has a career path and a career taking care of children. We as well as her counselor Jamie Jenkins of the Workforce Center in Round Rock, are proud of Paula’s accomplishment. We will miss seeing her warm and caring smile everyday.

Great job to recent graduate: Marlene Gonzalez

Marlene use to work in manufacturing, but due to the layoffs needed to get into a different industry. She was sponsored by the Workforce Solutions in Round Rock, TX. It seems like yesterday was her 1st day of class.

Marlene worked hard and was an example in the classroom for the other students in a very short amount of time. Her GPA was pushing 100, and she was a natural when she was performing her clinical activities.

Marlene was nervous and sometimes doubted her abilities. But her strong will to succeed won out, and she soon secured her OWN externship at Solid Oak Internal Medicine.

The Doctors and staff at Solid Oak Internal Medicine was so impressed with her knowledge and skill she acquired at The Learning Pad, that after her externship was up, they extended to her full time employment, and she started on, Aug. 8, 2011.

The staff and her instructors at The Learning Pad, as well as her counselor, Jamie Payne at The Workforce, are very proud of her and her accomplishments.

Keep up the great work and we wish you the best, and will miss seeing you everyday!