8 Tips for Safe Text

by Kendall Callas

After learning enough to effectively use WordPerfect as your word processing tool, and after investing a judicious amount of time or money to automate your routine tasks, it's wise to look again at your habits and procedures to make them safer.

1) Backups
Regularly making safety copies of your data is key to success with computers. Frequent backups are the best way to recover files lost to hardware failure, user error, disgruntled employee, virus, theft, fire, earthquake, or water damage (flood, sprinkler malfunction, or fire hose).

Follow a schedule -- daily or weekly at least. Use good equipment -- tape is best, but other options work, too. Assign responsibility to one person. Test the Restore function at least twice a year. Cross-train a second person in both the backup and restore process.

2) Original Document Backup (.BK!)
An option for the very safety conscious with lots of hard disk space, is to turn on the Original Document Backup feature (available in all versions of WordPerfect). This keeps the prior version of each document you edit, slightly renamed (it's given the extension .BK!). For example, on day 1, let's say you create a letter called SMITH05.LTR; on day 2, after you make some changes and save the file, you are left with 2 files: SMITH05.LTR contains the latest version and SMITH05.BK! contains the version from day 1.

This added level of safety protects you even within a day's work, which even daily backups cannot. Using this feature, however, eats up disk space, potentially doubling the storage required for active documents.

Recommendation: Enable the Original Document Backup feature and regularly purge the accumulated of .BK! files. (A DOS utility or the Windows File Manager can automatically delete the *.BK! files across all directories). Of course, make sure users understand that the .BK! files are the old versions, and are not to be used except in emergency.

3) Save with F10 not F7
Train WordPerfect for DOS users to save with F10. New or self-trained users learn to use F7 to save when exiting, and often never get far enough to know that F10 is the Save key. To save keystrokes and reduce lost documents, emphasize F10. Here's why: a) It saves keystrokes -- count them; b) it avoids confusion -- it's not intuitive to press the cancel key to continue working on the document; c) it reduces "downside risk", that is, it avoids the potential of a distracted user exiting the document without saving it.

4) Don't save if you were just looking
In WordPerfect for DOS, if you retrieve a document and don't need to save changes, clear the screen with F7, No, No. That is to say, if you're just looking, or wish to abandon changes and start over, exit without saving -- this leaves the document untouched. This saves time and avoids saving accidental modifications. New or self-trained users often look at a document then unnecessarily save it again upon exiting, fearing that the document will be deleted if they don't go through the process of saving it.

5) Alt+S or Ctrl+S to save
Work that hasn't yet been saved is at risk -- to power failure, machine malfunction, and human error. The almost perfect letter interrupted by a phone call, the dictation finally completed and waiting for the draft to print, the brief carefully being spell-checked -- all documents are stored in vulnerable main memory (RAM) until you save (store on disk).

By making it easy for users to quickly save the document, you can systematically reduce your risk of losing work in progress. In WordPerfect for Windows, this is easy with the Ctrl+S shortcut keystroke (assuming you use the default WPWin keyboard setting). In WordPerfect for DOS version 6.0, the keystroke is Ctrl+F12.

It's easy to record a simple macro to do this. A good name is Alt+S. First, retrieve a document onto your screen. Here are the keystrokes to create this macro in WordPerfect 5.1 (or prior DOS versions):

Ctrl+F10 to start the macro recorder
to name the macro (if you get the message "ALTS.WPM Already Exists", you better cancel and first check your existing Alt+S macro)
F10 to save the current document
Enter to agree to re-use the existing document filename
Y to affirmatively answer the Replace (Y/N) question
Ctrl+F10 to turn off the macro recorder

This macro can be improved slightly by removing the {DISPLAY OFF} code that WordPerfect places automatically at the start of every recorded macro; this will make the save process visible. Use exactly these keystrokes: Ctrl+F10, Alt+S, 2/Edit, DELete key, F7.

Now, every 10 to 20 minutes, record your work to the safety of disk with Alt+S.

6) Check your Envelope macro for a dangerous booby trap
If you use WordPerfect 5.1 or a previous DOS version, you may be playing with a ticking time bomb. Many users have recorded macros to copy the address block from a letter, use Doc 2 as a work space to format and print an envelope, then clear and exit back to Doc 1. The danger is that any text previously placed in Doc 2 is lost.

Over the years, as the average user's skills have increased, Doc 2 has come to be used more and more. (Doc 2 is the secondary work space in WordPerfect for DOS, reachable with the Shift+F3/Switch key).

Sooner or later, a macro that employs Doc 2 as a disposable work space will trash some work in progress. Even the magazines published macros using this unsophisticated technique.

Recommendation: A) Reprogram your Envelope macro to create a new page at the bottom of the current document as the work space in which to format and print the envelope; or B) add a safety check to halt the macro if text is already present in Doc 2 -- use this code:

{;}warn that Doc 2 not empty~
{CHAR}x~ABORTING: Doc 2 not empty! -- Press a key~

7) Protect your infrastructure
Sometimes curiosity gets users in trouble, sometimes ignorance. It's important to protect the infrastructure you create, such as macros, templates, forms, format files, styles, and settings (defaults, toolbars, abbreviations, etc.).

Use ATTRIB to protect files, or use network rights. Files that don't change, such as macros, templates, and merge documents, can be frozen by making them read-only. This protects them from deletion or alteration. Use this DOS command to do so:
ATTRIB +R file-specification
For example, to protect WordPerfect for DOS macros, you would use the command ATTRIB +R *.WPM in the directories where you have stored macros. You must, of course, reverse the command (ATTRIB -R) before you can again edit them. (WordPerfect for Windows 6.1 users can make a file read only from the File Open, File Options, Change Attributes menu.)

In a network situation, user rights set within your network software allow for more flexible allocation of the privilege of editing controlled files.

Files that do change, such as files that store settings or styles, cannot be made read-only. The best protection is to create backups of them on a special diskette.


WordPerfect for DOS
- *.SET in your program or settings directory
- LIBRARY.STY in the program or styles directory

WordPerfect for Windows
- WPCSET.BIF in the Windows directory (settings, QuickList, template Personal Info)
- STANDARD.WPT in the template directory (styles, toolbars, abbreviations, envelope addresses, template Address Book, keyboard assignments)

8) Use F1 to exit the Macro Editor if you were just looking
As in #3 above, in WordPerfect for DOS 5.0/5.1, sometimes one just wants to look at a macro, then exit, leaving it untouched. You can use the Ctrl+F10/Macro Editor to look at macro code, but if you use F7 to exit, changes are automatically saved. Use the Cancel key (F1) to exit without saving (Yes, cancel changes).

More than once I've been called in for emergency repair of a macro that "went haywire", only to find that a user who knew enough to be dangerous had looked at the macro in the Macro Editor and hit or some other accidental keystroke before using F7 to exit (and save).

"A stitch in time saves nine." Be pro-active; by applying these tips to prevent trouble, you'll be better off compared to the confusion and greater effort it takes to recover from a problem.

Copyright (C) 1996 by microCounsel, (415) 921-6850. All rights reserved.

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