Jewish World Review August 12, 2004 /24 Menachem-Av, 5764

Excel spreadsheet shortcut is tab simple; blocking e-mail; retrieving data from crashed computer

By James Coates | (KRT) Q. Hi, Jim. I work in Excel spreadsheets a lot. Is there a shortcut to changing the direction of the next cell where data is entered? Sometimes I need it to move laterally across the page and other times down for tabulating numbers.

Could the command be programmed into a function key maybe?


A. Hi yourself, Michele. I don't work with spreadsheets because those in charge at the job and at home don't let me anywhere near the money, but I do play around with them a lot.

That's a wordy way to say your answer is simplicity itself. To move the cursor in Excel one cell to the right just hit the Tab key. To make it drop down to the cell below, use the Enter key. To back up from right to left, or from below to above, just hold down the Shift key while tapping Tab or Enter.

Q. For 18 months I have e-mailed the White House. My question is this: If they don't like what you are saying, can they block you from sending e-mail to the White House?

Mel Pohl, Tamarac, Fla.

A. Just about everybody in business (and politics is business, too, Mr. P.) eventually encounters some customer, constituent and/or critic whose e-mails become bothersome and, just as you suspect, there are ways of cutting off unwelcome messages.

I lack the kind of security clearances that would let me know whether the government can stop citizens from sending e-mail to the White House, but it's possible to route all incoming messages from a pesky voter directly into the trash bin.

If I decided your notes were cutting too close to the bone, I could create what is called a rule to order software like Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express to deep-six every incoming message from anybody named Mel Pohl.

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I could even order the software to reject all incoming notes from the Internet service provider that you use.

The White House, for example, could set up Outlook to monitor all incoming mail and send to the trash can everything sent from addresses ending in The rules can even be drafted so that any given keywords such as "disagree with" anywhere in the message text will be enough to deep-six a message.

There is much more than ideology at stake here. It is not uncommon for an unhappy customer (or reader) to mail bomb somebody by sending them large numbers of messages to clutter their mailbox and thereby get attention.

Here's how to censor such stuff:

In Outlook, click on Tools and then select Rules and Alerts. Outlook Express uses a Message Rules choice instead. Either way you will find a set of wizards that will let you create a wide variety of commands that select e-mail by sender name, keywords, etc., and then take action like moving targeted notes to a specified folder.

These rules can be a godsend for harried e-mail users because they can be set to do things like automatically send all messages from valued customers or family members to a special folder, thus ensuring that important stuff never gets lost in a morass of spam.

Q. I need help recovering some important data that I stored on my computer but didn't back up before disaster struck. Specifically, I have a Gateway all-in-one computer in which the monitor screen and the CPU are built into the same case to save desktop space. But the power supply stopped working and I cannot get the computer to turn on.

The lights flash for a second and nothing else happens. My repair shop said that there are burned-out contacts inside the case and that I would need to find special parts. I want to upgrade anyway and hate to go through the cost and time to get it fixed.

Darrin Westby

Is there a way to get my data out of the hard drive in the dead computer?

A. This problem with those otherwise elegant and space-saving all-in-one computers is all too common, Mr. W. If a monitor dies or a power supply goes bad , everything stops working at once.

My solution to this kind of problem is to keep on hand a device from ADS Technologies called a Dual Link Drive Kit.

It amounts to an empty case with a power supply, fan and circuitry that lets one plug in either a hard drive or a CD or DVD burner. You then link it to a PC or Mac using either a FireWire or USB connection. The kit amounts to a very easy way to salvage data from hard drives taken out of broken-down computers and costs $119 at

You just remove the hard drive from the faulty computer and plug it into the data ribbon and power supply in the ADS case. You now have an external hard drive that plugs into the FireWire or USB connection on another 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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