Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cyberville Q&A On Word Documents & SD Cards

Here are a few of the latest questions (and answers) from the Cyberville inbox:

Q: I recently received a document from a business partner that was in a “.docx” format. When I try to open it in Microsoft Word, all I get is gibberish. How can I open it?

A: In Office 2007, Microsoft changed the long-time default formatting that had been used in Word 97, 2000, XP and 2003 to an XML-based standard.

While that allows for more creative documents to be easily be produced in Word 2007, it also means earlier versions of Word can't open the documents. The same applies to new versions of files from Excel and PowerPoint.

There are a number of ways to deal with this issue. Once of the easiest is to ask the sender to use the “Save As” function and select an earlier version of Word, Excel or PowerPoint, and resend the document in a compatible format.

If you have an earlier version of Word, you can download the Microsoft Office Compatibility pack, which will allow users of Office 2000, XP and 2003 to open Office 2007-formatted documents. Be aware it is a large download, however (more than 27mb). It can be found at, and several other sites.

Users of Sun's free Open Office Suite may have more difficulty. There is a compatibility tool that can be downloaded from Sourceforge (do an online search for Open XML Translator), but it may not always work. Microsoft is involved with developers to improve the reliability of this tool and has promised an updated version in the near future.

If you don't have Office, and need to open a .docx document, there are other options available.

One is to ask an online file translator service to do the conversion for you. I recently used the free Zamzar service ( to translate a .docx file to a .pdf and .doc file type, and got back a link to download the conversions about 20 minutes later. The conversions generally worked.

If you want even faster results, you can download a free program called “Docx2RTF” from NativeWinds Software which can convert a file to either the common RTF format than can be used by nearly any other word processing program, or save the document as a PDF (Adobe Acrobat/Reader) file for quick viewing. Docx2RTF can be found at a number of sources online including and others.

Q: I have a digital camera that uses SD cards, and would like to get one of the larger size cards so I can shoot more pictures at once. What is the difference between SD and SDHC?

A: This issue is one of the more confusing, and common to come along in a while in consumer devices.

2GB was the limit for SD memory cards until recently, when the SDHC standard was introduced which will allow for a 32GB card. However, in many cases it will take a firmware update for the cards to be used in a given device, so check your manufacturer's support page to see if one is available.

There have also been 4GB standard SD cards introduced recently which will work in most devices, but they can be difficult to find, and some brands don't work in some devices. The best bet is to go with 4GB SD cards from Transcend, which are available in standard (40x), 133x and 150x speeds, but may still not work in older SD devices. The faster speeds are better for cameras that can shoot multiple images in succession.

Tom Meek is a computer and media consultant working with businesses and individuals on high-tech needs. Another Day In Cyberville is published weekly in print and online via The Gainesville Voice, a weekly publication of The New York Times Regional Newspaper Group. You can reach Tom Meek at


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Anonymous said...

My friend and I were recently discussing about the ubiquitousness of technology in our daily lives. Reading this post makes me think back to that debate we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further develops, the possibility of transferring our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could experience in my lifetime.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4[/url]NDSBro)

Anonymous said...

Nice post... Looks like solid state memory is really starting to take off. Hopefully we'll start seeing decreasing solid state harddisk prices real soon. $5 32 GB Micro SDs for your DS flash card... imagine that!

(Posted by N3T 2 for R4i Nintendo DS.)