Visio 2013 Connector Text Block Background Color

I recently switched from Visio 2010 to Visio 2013, and while I quite enjoy the fluidity of 2013’s UI, some of the changes have had me run in circles before finding the 2013 equivalent for 2010 features I already knew. Here’s one of them:

Working on a diagram of our DNS server setup I wanted to adjust the background color of the connector text block. There are many good tutorials on the web on how to accomplish the same in Visio 2010… but in Visio 2013 the “Format” context menu option is gone, and there’s “Format Shape” which opens the Format Shape sidebar which has no options to adjust the text block’s background color.

A text block with the default white background.
A text block with the default white background.

Finally after clicking around for some time I found the new hiding place of the Text Block options. Here’s how:

First left click on the connector to select it; the green and yellow selector indicators show up:


Then click on the little symbol in the lower right corner of Home > Font, or Home > Paragraph area in the ribbon bar. This opens up the text dialog (with ‘Font’ or ‘Paragraph’ tab selected, depending on which area you clicked). Select the “Text Block” tab, and you’ll see “Text background” options:


Now the earlier tutorials I mentioned apply. If you select “None” for the background, or set its Transparency to 100%, you’ll get an undesirable effect:


The better option is to use some color picker tool like Nattyware’s free pixie (or one of many other alternatives) to sample the color surrounding the text block and then set the Solid color value to match (with Transparency set to 0%). Or, if you use standard colors in your diagram, select the same standard color for the text block background. Now it looks a lot better:

The little arrow symbols in the lower right corners of various Ribbon areas are good to get to know — lots of options hide behind them! For example, the arrow symbols in Design > Page Setup, or View > Visual Aids open dialogs to many everyday workflow options that are frequently needed.

Finally, couple of other Visio tips. A blog post Work Faster With Our Visio Keyboard Shortcuts by “Visio Guy” outlines the navigation shortcuts that also work with Visio 2013. Mastering and memorizing them makes Visio use a pleasure!

Another task that I frequently run into while using Visio is the need to replace an object, say, a square with another such as a diamond, for example. Visio does not allow you to do this natively. You’ll have to delete the object, reconnect all the connectors, etc. If you have many objects to replace, it translates to a lot of work. Then I found Paul Herber’s Super Utilities and Tools for Visio. Among its many features, there is “Shape substitute” command that does exactly that — very handy!

Marvell 88E8056 and ESXi 4.1

So I have an older development/experimental server that runs couple of VMs on ESXi 4.1. The server’s motherboard (ASUS P5BV-C/4L) is from an old workstation, and it has integrated quad NICs which would be nice to be able to use.. except that the default build of ESXi 4.1 doesn’t see them (even though ESXi 4.1 technically supports Marvell 88E8056 NICs).

There are several pages that discuss the issue extensively, and have a lot of good information on them. Yet another page has a quick low down on how to get the driver properly installed.

However, having not worked on ESXi CLI for some time I had forgotten, for example, that busybox that ESXi uses wipes the root files on every reboot. After a while I recalled (from an old note) that to save changes to the /etc/vmware/ I would need to execute /sbin/ 0 /bootbank/ after making the edits. But even that was unecessary.

One sentence on the brief recap page, would have saved me couple of hours tonight. So here it is: »Just upload the attached oem.tgz into /bootbank folder with scp, then reboot, and you’re done!» And when you do that, you are done – the pre-prepared oem.tgz works perfectly!

Yes, had I known, I would’ve known, but I didn’t. 🙂 Hopefully this saves time for someone else!

Adding graphics, comments to PDFs

I needed to fill out a PDF document today, date it, and sign it. It took me a good hour to accomplish the task as while the latest incarnation of Acrobat has custom stamp feature, annotated text doesn’t print by default (I also wanted to avoid having to print out the document only to scan it back in). In fact, I found no way to print text annotations. Whether “Documents and Stamps” was selected in the Print properties or not, the text annotations would remain missing from the printout. It should not be this difficult to add a text box to a PDF document and then flatten it to be part of the document, and not an annotation per se.

After some more Googling later I happened on this page that outlines a simple way to add “flatten” options to the Acrobat document menu. The associated script to be placed in “Program Files/Adobe/Acrobat 9.0/Acrobat/Javascripts/” folder (the script works with older Acrobat versions, too, as the mentioned instructions are for Acrobat 7.0) is just two lines long:

app.addMenuItem({ cName: "Flatten page", cParent: "Document", cExec: "flattenPages(this.pageNum)",cEnable: 1, nPos: 16});
app.addMenuItem({ cName: "Flatten document", cParent: "Document", cExec: "flattenPages()",cEnable: 1, nPos: 17});

With the above script installed, the task was a snap: I added my signature from a transparent PNG as a custom stamp, added the text annotations, and then flattened the document. Done! Now the annotations print out as they should (whether or not “Documents and Stamps” is selected in the Print properties as now the annotations are part of the ‘base’ document). I can’t imagine why Adobe doesn’t include “flatten” as a default feature!

End of C·O·M·O·D·O Firewall (only)

For few years now I’ve used the lightweight C·O·M·O·D·O firewall in conjunction with ESET nod32 AntiVirus. Both are lightweight and effective. Or were. ESET nod32 is still getting better with every consecutive release (the recently released 4.x, for instance, it lighter on system resources than its predecessor). But C·O·M·O·D·O just merged the “Personal Firewall” with their AntiVirus product hence effectively discontinuing the separate, lightweight and easy-to-configure firewall. Time to part ways — I’m not willing to use C·O·M·O·D·O’s A/V.

ZoneAlarm Pro may be the next good choice.