Category Archives: Utilities

Macro to Extract Comments from a PPT to a Text File

Use the macro below to extract all the comments in a PPT file to a text file. You can then print the text file.

When you run this macro, it opens an Output File dialog box asking for a path to store the text. Remember to enter a name for the file when you specify the path in the ‘Output file’ dialog. Example: C:\Documents and Settings\User1\Desktop\comments.txt

Sub ExportComments()

    Dim oSl As Slide
    Dim oSlides As Slides
    Dim oCom As Comment
    Dim sText As String
    Dim sFilename As String

    Set oSlides = ActivePresentation.Slides
    For Each oSl In oSlides
    sText = sText & "Slide: " & oSl.SlideIndex & vbCrLf
    sText = sText & "======================================" & vbCrLf
        For Each oCom In oSl.Comments

            sText = sText & oCom.Author & vbCrLf
            sText = sText & oCom.DateTime & vbCrLf
            sText = sText & oCom.Text & vbCrLf
            sText = sText & "--------------" & vbCrLf

        Next oCom
    Next oSl

    sFilename = InputBox("Full path to output file:", "Output file")
    If Len(sFilename) > 0 Then
        WriteStringToFile sFilename, sText
        SendFileToNotePad sFilename
    End If

End Sub

Sub WriteStringToFile(pFileName As String, pString As String)
' This writes the text out to a file

    Dim intFileNum As Integer

    intFileNum = FreeFile
    Open pFileName For Output As intFileNum
    Print #intFileNum, pString
    Close intFileNum

End Sub

Sub SendFileToNotePad(pFileName As String)
' This opens the file in notepad

    Dim lngReturn As Long
    lngReturn = Shell("NOTEPAD.EXE " & pFileName, vbNormalFocus)

End Sub

Macro courtesy:

1 Comment

Posted by on July 8, 2011 in MS Office, Tools, Utilities


Digsby – The New Age IM Client

The thing that has recently caught my attention is Digsby. I have always longed for a multiple IM client that helps integrate all chat services but is not minimalistic and geeky. Though, Pidgin is a great multiple IM client, it has issues in enabling file transfers and video chat. It calls for extra-geeky meddling with options, if these things are to be made possible.

Digsby is a cool IM client which is sure to be the next big thing like Firefox. And like Firefox, it seems to hog a lot of memory. However, trust me that should not be a deterrent in using Digsby. This is because Digsby can make up for Msn, Yahoo, AIM and Gtalk clients. Imagine running all of these clients individually and it would certainly work out to that much of memory usage.

The setup file is over 11 MB and takes a while to download. Once this thing is installed, it is completely hassle-free. Though, it has the characteristic geek tinge to its minimalist interface, it can quickly be customized. In fact, geeks have more to rejoice for because it allows for back-end customization and a lot of scope for the ones that cannot keep from exploratory coding adventures.

Rightly represented by a friendly cute logo, Digsby is intuitive all the way. You can immediately configure all your IM accounts. But here is the easter egg. You can also configure your Facebook and Twitter into this IM client. It will give you updates about your Facebook pokes, friend statuses and other notifications. You can also update your Facebook status by using Digsby.

As if this were not enough, there is good news for the compulsive twitter addicts. Twitter allows for updates via IM but Digsby also lets you read your friends’ tweets. You can click on the Twitter tab in your Digsby interface to do this.

Digsby allows for tabbed conversations and has amazing skinning options that makes your boring IM windows look really new age. Those who use gtalk must especially be starved for some skinning and emoticon action. Now you can quench those cravings with Digsby.

I personally use Windows but I understand that Digsby is compatible with Linux and Mac as any open-source software is likely to be. They also have support forums and wikis to assist the newbies.

Digsby is here to stay. Check it out!


Posted by on April 30, 2008 in Reviews, Utilities


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Web 2.0 on the Desktop

Ever wished you could do away with folder structures on your desktop/laptop computer? The visual idea we have about files and folders as objects and collectors has become so innate to file organizers that it gets irritating some times to find files. With the proliferation of high bandwidth and the huge increase in the data being collected and stored by people, the mp3 revolution, the p2p revolution, etc., finding data and organizing data has become a bane on the desktop. None of the three primary operating systems offer a convenient way to automatically and intelligently sort the data in downloaded files into categories, which explain what the files consist of and what they do.At least I have this problem of downloaded files not getting noticed after I download them. I download papers, articles, files, programs on to my desktop and at times, they clutter the desktop, but when I am done organizing them (into folders) I find it difficult to find the files I need. With file names such as “do2376.pdf” “math_izz_ipr_pdf.pdf” and “web45ghu.exe”, most downloaded files and programs have neither an unambiguous name nor an indicative meta data which shows what the file/setup program contains.

  • A useful and underused technique in Windows could have been implemented into the tooltip system. The tooltip is a very common meta data organizer which lets us know what we are doing in Excel sheets, tells us the names of commands or what they do, and so on. Unfortunately, although people use tool tips well otherwise, it is not popular with the masses who create content which can be downloaded or programs.
  • The linux desktop offers a great alternative to the folder maze. Enter Leaftag. This is a nifty little set of utilities which can tag folders and files and make the information inside the folder make sense. What is especially interesting is that on linux systems with Leaftag there will still be files as usual, but they could be tagged in case you want to remember something about them.
  • Delicious‘ system of social bookmarking is a great way to organize information on the web specific to a user’s browsing activities. It is interesting what a combination of RSS and Delicious bookmarks can do. Why is it not possible to do the same within the framework of a desktop?
  • There is a software for Windows too, as shown in this lifehacker post:

In order to encourage you to tag new files as they’re created, tag2find can also monitor your new files and prompt you for tags. tag2find then provides a couple of ways to search through your tags, both of which seem to provide snappy results. Add to that automated tagging by filetypes, tag clouds, and Windows Media Player integration, and tag2find is a surprisingly powerful tool.

I await more proliferation of the ideas of Web 2.0 to the desktop. But this is second in line after my favorite wishful hack idea: instant-on computers. (And no, I don’t mean boot times of under 15 seconds as you get in SSD powered computers.)


Posted by on February 16, 2008 in Gadgets, Tricks, Utilities


Easy File Transfer Methods in Windows

Last year I was working on a project to analyze how humans make decisions under certain conditions. For this project, I had to develop a game that students in my University could play and they were paid up to $50 for their participation. I developed the game in Visual Basic. NET and initially wanted to run it in the computer laboratory in my Department. However, I decided that it would be easier to put the game up online and let people download it onto their computers and play it at their convenience. At this time, I had to come up with a technique to capture their responses. I did not want them to mail me their responses at the end of the game because it was going to be inconvenient to them and to me. Also because their payments was based on their responses, they could manipulate them to increase their payoffs.

To avoid such a situation, I decided to use Microsoft’s own File Transfer Protocol (FTP) service, which is very easy to configure. Visit this link to learn how – FTP: Setting Up Windows NT 4.0, 2000, or XP Workstations to Accept FTP Transfers .

The advantage in Microsoft’s FTP is that no special client software is required to view the files on the FTP. They can be viewed directly from the Explorer window. Also, the VB.NET code used to open the FTP connection and to read/write files is pretty simple. The code can be found here: VB. Net FTP Client.

A second level of protection I used was a Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol (TCP/ IP) connection which prevented people from playing the game more than once. The advantage of this technique is that the connection stays on as long as the server machine is on and the internet is working. Because of this, people could play the game at any time of day.

The game was a success. Overall, 50-60 people played it and except for one response which was not captured due to a faulty internet connection, all other details were successfully captured.

The TCP/IP server is still on in Tucson, AZ and since I’m in California at the moment, I use it for accessing files etc. on the host server (in addition to using Remote Desktop Connection). Another technique (which was incidentally suggested to me by a Microsoft programmer) is to use Cygwin’s Secure Shell (SSH) service (Cygwin is a Linux-like environment for Windows, in case anyone is wondering). Simple configuration instructions are given here. I used FileZilla Client on the client machine (which, in my opinion is the easiest to use SSH client) and it worked like a charm. I had to shut down and restart the SSH service occassionally, but other than that I never had any problems.

I’ve transferred over 8 GB of data from one computer to another (within the same network). By the way, I did try other solutions, including using the FileZilla server, but found the above two methods to be the easiest.

As an aside, in my opinion, this is the most relevant article I’ve written on this site, considering its focus on Web 2.0 and Linux. My previous articles had more to do with Microsoft desktop software and an mp3 player that no one is interested in. :-p


Posted by on October 2, 2006 in Utilities


Launchy for Windows

Launchy opening an .mp3 using the Default skin 


Launchy is a free windows utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager.

Launchy indexes the programs in your start menu and can launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes!

More details are available here. It’s a very useful tool. Simply press the key combination: Alt + Space to bring up the launcher and in a few keystrokes, you can run your favorite program. Furthermore, you can also index your documents, music, etc.  Of course, if you’ve found a better alternative, please feel free to leave comments.

1 Comment

Posted by on September 29, 2006 in Reviews, Utilities


Better Fonts

A friend referred me to this superb fonts site called Better Fonts.

The site calls itself user-friendly, and that is precisely what it is. The site lists over 10000 free fonts for viewing and downloading. Usually fonts sites are cumbersome to navigate through, and previews are either unavailable or misleading. Clicking on one link could take us to another site altogether. Advertisements litter the pages and you generally have a hard time before you find a font you were looking for (which is unlikely) or before you settle for something lesser.

Better Fonts is better in so many ways because it shows a direct and immediate preview of every font. There are very for all types of documents, listed in alphabetical order. There are some interesting fonts like A Bug’s Life and A Picture Alphabet. Navigation is a breeze.

This is the interface of the site.

Clicking a font from the list on the left will display its preview on
the right. You can change the  preview text as well. After this, if you
wish to download the font, you can immediately do so from the link given

Go ahead and download your favourite fonts now! 🙂

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Posted by on September 26, 2006 in Reviews, Utilities


Microsoft Max

A year or so back, Microsoft decided to develop applications that made use of Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and the new .Net Framework 3.0. So far, Microsoft seems to have developed only two such applications, the first being the New York Times Reader (see screenshots here) and the second, Microsoft Codename Max. A friend of mine told me about Max in October 2005. At that time it was simply a photo-sharing tool. I saw screenshots and description on the web and that was all. I didn’t think it would be useful since in order to share photos with someone, the other person would need to download the software too. In November or December 2005, Microsoft added a news reader to Max. I downloaded it this time, but uninstalled it after a couple of days. The software was way too heavy for my 700 MHz Pentium III Dell Laptop with 512MB Ram. Finally, this year, Microsoft added the ability to add RSS feeds to Max. Since most bloggers were raving about how gorgeous it was, I decided to download it and give it a try. This time I was downloading it on a faster 1.6 GHz AMD Turion Laptop with 512MB Ram.

As mentioned earlier, Max is a photo-sharing tool and an RSS reader. Now, I have no idea why one would need both these features in one piece of software. In this review, I’ll examine the features of Max.


The software installation process is painfully slow. It takes 20 – 30 minutes (because the .NET framework has to be installed too) and the computer needs to be rebooted at the end of it. I guess things will improve with Vista. As of now, the software is not compatible with Vista, though.

The photo sharing features are decent.

One can make some cool looking albums in 2-D and 3-D view, but there is no provision to publish it to the web. As mentioned above, you can share photos only with people who have this software installed. On the whole, I don’t see this as a very useful feature.

The news/ RSS reader, on the other hand, though rudimentary, is gorgeous. Adding a feed is simple – simply click on “Add a feed” and enter the address. All feeds that you’ve added are visible on the left. Clicking on any of them brings up a nice view of the page, as shown below. Deleting feeds is also a simple two step process. However, several advanced options that are available in web-based feed readers, are not available in Max.

On the whole, Max makes great use of WPF but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to make this product useful.


Posted by on September 26, 2006 in Reviews, Utilities