Jewish World Review March 11, 2004 / 18 Adar, 5764


Dazzling fonts help put best face forward; turned off 'puter before saving 30,000-word document; "official" documentation of when e-mail was sent

By James Coates

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | (KRT) Q. I'm hoping you can help me jazz up my presentations and documents at work. We have Word 2000 on Windows XP that has a limited number of fonts.

Is there a way to add new fonts to Word when I receive documents by Internet or e-mail that have fonts such as Papyrus that I don't have? Am I to assume that fonts can be added automatically when a new one enters the computer?

— Melanie Peters, Elmhurst

A. I'm going to point you to more fonts than any sane person could ever need, but first let's answer your opening question. It would be nice if computers somehow could just suck the fonts off the pages that arrive by e-mail, but that's not how it works.

Each font is a small and highly specialized data file that contains code for all 26 letters (upper and lower cases), the numbers 0 through 9 and a standard set of punctuation and other symbols. You buy or download a font file and then have Windows install it on your machine. The new font then appears along with all of the others whenever you use software like Word.

For many years Microsoft Corp. posted large numbers of attractive fonts on its Web site for free downloading. Now, however, you must buy new fonts from commercial outfits called foundries or snoop about looking for an amazing collection of freeware and shareware fonts designed by hobbyists.

To get a quick flavor of the possibilities check out this site listed by Microsoft for free fonts: http://fonts.tom7.com.

Microsoft has added dozens of links on its Web site like this freeware one that will start you out on your font search. Go to www.microsoft.com/typography and you'll find listings of commercial font sellers and freeware hobbyists alike. Believe me, Ms P., there are typefaces in that crowd that most certainly will jazz up your PowerPoint shows and letters.

Without bogging down in details, let me just say to make sure that all of the fonts you acquire are in the TrueType format, which makes it possible to scale them from tiny 6-point mouse tracks up to screaming 72-point headlines without distortion.

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Downloaded fonts are installed using a Fonts Control Panel in the Windows Start menu. Open the Control Panel and click on File/Add to seek out new fonts and install them in the operating system.

In addition to Microsoft's listings, there are large numbers of fonts available at various freeware and shareware Web sites, such as www.downloads.com and www.tucows.com. Just use the keyword "fonts" at either site.

Q. I was horrified the other day when I absentmindedly switched off my computer right in the middle of work on a 30,000-word document. I was using Microsoft Word 2000 and I thought that I had set it correctly to save backups of my work, but somehow the original file vanished altogether, and the backup files were unreadable.

I have used the Help section in Word and have taken every one of the many steps that Microsoft suggests to restore corrupted files to their original form. None of them worked, and so what used to be the results of a couple of months work now is in a file of gibberish. I have attached the corrupted file to this note. Can you help?

— Leonard Aronson, Chicago

A. I was able to restore almost all of your original words using a simple trick, but I fear that I, too, was unable to restore the complete document with all of the formatting that you used to create it. Still, you don't need to retype the words now.

The simple trick I used was to load your corrupted file into the Notepad text editor included in Windows and stored under the Programs/Accessories folder on the Start menu.

It is all of that fancy formatting code to establish fonts, text sizes, frames, centering, footers and headers, and such that appears as gibberish when files get corrupted, or when one tries to open a file with the wrong program.

By loading your damaged recovery file into the text editor and setting it to display text word-wrapped to the screen, I was able to find the chunks of raw text in your file and copy and paste it bit by bit into a new document.

All one needs to do is force oneself to scroll through what seems like an endless torrent of digital drivel until the first text block appears, These blocks get separated by other gibberish that had set formatting, and so it takes a bit of time to move through it all. It's a time-consuming process, but it took less than an hour to recover what you indicate took more than a month to create.

I used to recover these text nuggets by writing programs in the Basic programming language that simply read a file character by character and rejected all of those that were not simple text. That's still possible, but it would take longer to refresh my rusty Basic code-writing skills than just do the job by hand.

You might ask your information technology colleagues to put one of these small ASCII text programs together for future use.

Q. I have tried every resource I can think of and can't find the simple answer I am sure exists. I sent a personal e-mail (MS Outlook 2000) to an individual from my job (it's OK to do, within reason).

There is now a serious dispute about when the message was sent. The burden is on me to prove when I sent it. I finally found someone who knew that each e-mail has a hidden coding: date sent, date received and date modified.

That helps a lot, but I cannot find any "official" documentation that this supports my position.

I thought that I'd be able to find some Outlook manual or procedure booklet to explain this, but, to date, I have found almost nothing. I'm not asking for legal advice. But I would appreciate knowing what you would do in this same situation.

— Carl Benson, Evanston

A. Microsoft is notorious for not producing manuals for its products. Instead, the company expects users with technical questions to either use the Help feature in each program or seek out additional information by trying to find an answer in the Knowledge Base at www.microsoft.com/support.

The day of dropping a book on the table and winning an argument about Microsoft products is long gone, I fear. Still, I can show you how to access data about an e-mail message that cannot be altered and that shows when the message was sent, when it was received and what pathway it took through the Internet to move from your machine to the other one.

Your friend showed you that if one opens an e-mail in Outlook and then goes to the File menu at the top of the screen, there is a command for Properties. This brings up that box you mentioned with the information that you cited: date sent, date received and date modified.

What you need to make your case is the Internet code that underlies this simplified display box. You need the full text of what is called the Internet header. This technical data is hidden by Outlook and most other e-mail systems.

To access it, open the message and then put the cursor arrow on the subject line in your message list and press the right mouse button. In the pop-up menu that appears, select Options.

This brings up the complete history of the message, starting with the unique code that was stamped on the message so it could be broken into small bits called packets and then sent to its destination and reassembled there. This Internet header also shows all the data about when the message was sent, which paths it took across the Internet to reach its destination and when it arrived.

The transmission history is kept in local time and in the official Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC, which is based on Greenwich Mean Time. This time code is stated in hours and minutes in standard notation but also written in hexadecimal. There is no way to change this information, and it will show right down to the second what happened to the disputed e-mail.

Although the header data cannot be altered, it can be painted and copied in the Outlook Options display and then pasted into a document.

I would make my argument with a printout of the full text of the Internet header that can be authenticated by checking back with the computer.

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

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