automatic text generation. a variation for the easily distracted.

In the previous #pragmaticcomputingtip, entitled “automatic random text generation. improved?” I shared a nifty little feature in Word 2007 and 2010 which automated the generation of random text.

Check it out and then come on back and I’ll walk you through you a variation.

no. really. check it out. I’ll wait.

okay, welcome back.

While =rand(p,s) is effective and fun, its use has a potential problem. It generates interesting text. Okay, “interesting” is debatable, but it generates English text that makes sense, which means there’s a potential for distraction.

If you don’t want your reader/learner/audience to focus on the content of your text, there’s another, similar feature that generates nonsensical random text that will keep people focused on the form of your document/website without tempting anyone to read for content absorption. Try this:
Continue reading “automatic text generation. a variation for the easily distracted.”

automatic random text generation. improved?

For YEARS DECADES, I have been creating dummy documents for use in computer training. Usually, I ask someone to type a sentence – any sentence – and then I teach them to use keyboard shortcuts to select, copy and paste their sentence, resulting in a multi-paragraph, multi-page document to work with as I train.

It’s always interesting to see what people type:

the distracted or disinterested: “I can’t wait for lunch.”

and the suck-ups: “The computer trainer is really good!” (umm hmm)

and of course, the ever popular: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” frequently makes an appearance.

I’ve written about that third sentence before in a previous post entitled “automatically generate placeholder text in Microsoft Word“. You could automatically generate paragraphs composed of it using Word 2003 and earlier versions using a little known “=rand()” feature in Microsoft Word.

But now, with Word 2007 and 2010, it’s even better.

Check this out. Open either Microsoft Word 2007 or 2010 and, at the top of a new, blank document, type this:

=rand(8,5)

Then press the enter key.

What just happened?

Microsoft Word just reached into it’s help files and copied 8 random paragraphs containing 5 sentences each and pasted them into your blank page.

As a computer trainer, let me just say.

SWEET!

If you’re thinking the “=rand(8,5)” looks like an Excel formula, you would be correct. The first number inside the parenthesis represents how many paragraphs of text you want, the second number indicates how many sentences each paragraph should contain. If you skip the numbers and just type “=rand()” the default result is 3 paragraphs of 5 sentences each.

The formula doesn’t have to be typed at the beginning of a document, but it must be typed at the beginning of a line, with no characters before it.

Again, as someone who frequently needs fake documents to play work with, I LOVE this! I’ve tried to think of other uses and the only other one that comes to mind would be for print samples. If you can think of other ways to take advantage of a random text generator, comment and share!

printer tshooting with WordPerfect

Every once in a while, I dig into WordPerfect to disable a little known setting:

“Reformat documents for the WordPerfect default printer on open”

This eliminates a few different problems, two of which come immediately to mind:

1. Older WordPerfect documents won’t open correctly in a newer version of WordPerfect.
2. Existing documents won’t print to the correct paper trays, but new documents will.

Sometimes an error message will indicate a missing (and OLD) print driver, sending someone on a quest to find it. When it’s found and loaded on a new machine, WordPerfect can open the document.

That’s a good workaround, but sometimes an old printer driver can’t be found or and/or old universal drivers won’t do the trick. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of this type of issue since HP isn’t making Windows 7 64 bit drivers for their old printers.

Try this instead: Click Tools, Settings, Environment, 2nd check box – UN-check “Reformat documents for the WordPerfect default printer on open”

automatically generate placeholder text in Microsoft Word.

When I provide computer training, I often need fake documents to work with. Most of the time, I will have a trainee type a single sentence and then have them copy and paste it over and over again to create a paragraph. Then I’ll have them copy their little paragraph and paste it over and over again to create a multi-paragraph, multi-page document. It provides some keyboard text selection and cut/copy/paste shortcut key practice and we end up with a safe document to work with during training.

But if you’re using Microsoft Word, there is another way to build a fake document. MS Word can generate random text automatically. Try this:

In MS Word 2003 or earlier, at the beginning of a line, type:

=rand()

Press enter.

The sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” (which contains every letter of the English alphabet) appears multiple times, forming three paragraphs of five sentences each.

cool.

You can also specify the number of paragraphs and sentences by typing numbers between the parenthesis, like this:

=rand(8,5)

Typing the formula in as it appears above will generate 8 paragraphs of 5 sentences each.

Handy for computer trainers like me and for printers who need sample text. If you can think of other uses for randomly generated text, comment and share!

CLICK HERE for an UPDATE of this feature for Word 2007 & 2010!!

This will not work if:
“Replace text as you type” has been disabled under Tools, AutoCorrect.
If the insertion point immediately follows a page or a column break.