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   Astradyne Blog/Tips and Tricks - Excel Negative Times/Word Reading Layout/Windows Shortcuts


In this section I'll be including more tips and tricks, along with some advice and stories from the world of PCs.


I was asked: “I‟m writing a time sheet in Excel. The problem is when an employee works fewer than their core hours, Excel does not show a negative time, it shows a string of hash symbols. How do I get around this?”

Answer: Excel‟s date system starts in 1900. There‟s a bug in it, but that‟s another story. A negative date would result in an answer before 1900, resulting in an error. You can switch to the 1904 system though, which does allow for negative date and times.

To switch to the 1904 system, in Excel 2003, Click Tools, Options, and choose the Calculation Tab. Put a tick in the 1904 date system‟ box.

In Excel 2007, click the Office button, choose Excel Options, and then click Advanced on the left hand side. Scroll down, and put a tick in the 1904 date system‟ box.

Do be careful though when linking two workbooks with the different date system settings – your calculations could be off by four years!


The Windows key is usually between Ctrl and Alt at the bottom left corner of the keyboard.  Those marked with * also work in Windows XP and Vista

Windows – E opens Windows Explorer*
Windows – Left arrow docks the current program on the left side of the screen
Windows – Right arrow docks the current program on the right side of the screen
Windows – Up arrow maximises current Windows
Windows – Down arrow restores/minimises the current Window
Windows – T highlights the first Item on your task bar. Then use the arrow keys to move through them
Windows – U opens up the Ease of access dialogue box
Windows – Plus Key zooms into the screen
Windows – Minus Key zooms back out
Windows – D displays your desktop*
Windows – M minimises all, very similar to Windows – D*
Windows – L locks the computer*
Windows – R opens up the Run dialogue box*
Windows – P opens the projector shortcut keys
Windows – F opens the search box*
Windows – X launches the Mobility dialogue box. Great for quick access to tools you use on a laptop


Although Windows 7 is in the shops, many people still use Windows XP, so I thought I’d include a few shortcuts in this newsletter (though they do still work in Windows Vista and 7). The Windows key is usually between Ctrl and Alt at the bottom left corner of the keyboard.

Hold Windows key, press D to display the Desktop
Hold Windows key, press M to Minimise all windows
Hold Windows key, press Shift-M to Restore the minimised windows
Hold Windows key, press E to Open Windows Explorer
Hold Windows key, press F to Open Find dialogue box
Hold Windows key, press L to Lock the keyboard
Hold Windows key, press R to Open the Run dialogue box


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