Monthly Archives: August 2013

Which WordPress Contact Form Plugin to use?

Reviewing the plethora of Contact Form plugins for WordPress is daunting.  I have looked at dozens of possible options.

This review is relatively brief and focuses on obvious contenders. The rest can be summarily dismissed:

Contact Form by reads very well, with all the common features. The catch is that it requires registration at yet another software as a service provider that wants your name and email address and offers ‘features’ that are totally unneccessary for the purpose of a contact form. Not for me.

Custom Contact Forms is another that sounds promising when reading the blurb and it installs smoothly, but then the top line is “Are you looking for a more customizable, reliable, and secure contact form solution for WordPress? Try Gravity Forms” which says to me that this plugin is not reliable or secure or customisable? Just a weird approach to marketing. Did not go further as Gravity Forms is one I am also looking at and if this one promotes Gravity then who am I to argue?

Fast Secure Contact Form is anything but fast with screen after screen of options, fields, and settings in one very long page. While I started to trawl down the list, I was overwhelmed within 30 seconds and decided that it would require far too much thinking and effort when all I want is a simple ‘Contact Us’ page.

BotDetect CAPTCHA is not a contact form tool but a method of adding Captcha processes to an entire WordPress site. The issue is that the plugin install does not include the native Captcha library, which must be downloaded separately and only after registering your email address with the service provider, etc. I had hoped to build a contact form and add this, but it just gave me headaches trying to get it configured.

Contact Form With Captcha is a nice contact form but the Recaptcha process is difficult for some users as the distortion of the words can be too much. In fact I have deployed this one on a number of sites and this review is simply to find an alternative that provides flexibility in the Captcha options.

Contact Form 7 is the one I eventually went with as it provided an easier Captcha option.


Powerpoint file opens read only for single user

This morning I opened an older PP deck that I had in order to update the branding. I then closed it and re-opened to confirm that the file looked right before emailing it out.

It opened with the Read-Only statement showing in the title bar and even though I did want to make a simple change (resetting the saved deck at Slide 1 instead of Slide 12).

I could not save as I got an error with the Read Only flag. The error within Powerpoint stated that the file was in use on the network or words to that effect. Trying to save over the top of the existing file gave another error that the file was already open in Powerpoint, which suggested to me there two Powerpoint instances.

My fix was:

1. Close Powerpoint.

2. Open Task Manager (Right click task bar -> Start Task Manager) and under the Processes tab

3. Look for a Powerpoint process and select End Process (click ok to kill it as you are the only user – right?)

4. Reopen your file in Powerpoint

Seems that Powerpoint is holding the file open with an incomplete process when the app is closed. This means the most recently used file is flagged as still in use by that process and opening the file again is done with a read-only process as a result.

For the record this is Windows 7 x64 with Office 2010

Adding batch files to the Windows Task bar

I use a batch file regularly for connecting to my network and mapping standard drives for my various file shares.

In Windows 7 and 8 there is no simple drag’n’drop of a shortcut that was ok in Windows XP.

While there are numerous options discussed around the web the one that works for me is the simple rename of the batch file extension so that Windows 7 & 8 think it is an executable file.

1. Write your batch file and save it

2. Change the file extension from .bat to .exe or .cmd

3. Right click the file and select the option to Pin to Taskbar (which is not available for batch files)

4. Rename the file extension back to .bat

5. Shift + Right Click your new task bar icon and select Properties

6. Modify the file extension to .bat so that it finds it

7. Optionally, Change Icon and select something appropriate.

It is all ready to go, with the exception that the icon change will not display until the next restart (or possibly just logout / login but I tested with a restart)

Windows 8: the joy, the tears, the remove-myfingernails-with-pliers-is-less-painful……

Ok, I admit I use Windows all day everyday.

I started with Windows when it was version 1 on 5.25″ floppy drives and took 6 hours to install on a 80286 computer…  (yep, that old !)

The pain of Windows Me, further failure of Vista, and numerous ‘do not update until Service Pack 1 is tested by others’, the grief with UAC, etc. However, the pain of Windows 8 makes all of that pale into insignificance.

Stupid tiles on a desktop corner settings that require the precision of threading silkworm threads through pinholes, and the assumption that we like the iPad therefore we must like Metro.

Bah, humbug!

Ok. So I have my new Toshiba Kira notebook with touch-screen but I really prefer the old-school desktop. Shades of XP with Windows 7 but not Metro.

So today I embark on ridding myself of the Windows 8 settings that irk me.

First up, the extra picture lock screen that I have to dismiss to get to the login screen on start up.

For this there is a simple group policy edit setting.

1. The group Policy option: from the Start screen (the tiles screen) type ‘gpedit.msc’ (ignore the No apps found message as you type – it will come up when the full filename and extension is complete) and press Enter to run it.

2. Select Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Control Panel -> Personalisation

3. In the Setting list is ‘Do not display the lock screen’, just Enable this Setting option and Apply or OK.

4. Close the gpedit application and the lock screen will no longer appear.

Next I want the desktop to be my default screen with the task bar at the bottom with the apps I need constantly. I might be being old-school but the Start screen with bulky icons is not useful for me. So desktop view, menus, a Start button all led me to Stardock Start8 which installed in 20 seconds, configured in less, and only costs $4.99!

Not sure what I’ll find next that needs fixing in Windows 8 but with these items done, I think I can get back to real work.