Thursday, July 24, 2014

If it's free then you're the product

...but isn't this taking it a bit too far. Perhaps they need a new accounting system at Microsoft.




Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Microsoft patch Tuesday

I've been reminded a couple of times recently how few people are aware of Microsoft's security update policy known as "patch Tuesday".  I wrote a post on it for a recent Constructor newsletter,  which can be found in our articles on the website.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

How do you use templates in Word 2013

I can only see Online Templates, none of which I have ever needed!




Word 2013 will only show you the "Featured" AND "Personal" options on the "File / New" screen, if you have something entered in the "Default Personal Templates Location", which can be found in the Word Options screen. (Go To "File" in the top left, then down to options.)


Enter the path to your templates, in the "Default Personal Templates Location" field - I am sticking with the old Office 2010/2003 etc location.

Once you have a valid path in that field, the "Personal" link will appear on your File / New screen, and you'll be able to see your old documents.

Discouverable software - right! - discoverable only using Google.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Home grown is so tasty!

The Internet, and a Tablet, has changed cooking so much, with a bit of help from Evernote.

Rach told me she had lamb chops out for dinner.  I was in the mood for something a little tasty, and we have a bazillion tomotoes and even more cherry tomatoes from the garden at the moment, so 10 minutes before leaving work I "GoogleBinged" a recipe for lamb chops. The first hit included plenty of herbs and as luck would have it, cherry tomatoes on the side - pure luck I promise. A quick view of the recipe, using the Evernote's "Clearly" Chrome add in, a web clip, and I was off.

So I stopped and bought some fresh garlic and a couple of lemons. The rest we had - home grown tomatoes, herb and shallots.

At home, I flick on the tablet, pick some herbs and shallots, let Evernote Sync and there's my recipe for dinner. And how good was it!?







Thursday, February 27, 2014

Support Notes....

I'm going to point people here in the future...

... it's all common sense, problem is, common sense isn't always that common.

DYPII questions! http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2013/10/22/speaking-the-language-of-customer-service-recovery/

Any list of things has to be good too - http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-things-help-desk-techs-can-do-to-improve-service/


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If it's worth fixing, fix it!


Imagine the door handle on your front door is broken. Most of the time it falls off in your hand when you try to open the door. If you concentrate, you can hold the handle in place, and get the door open, but it's slow, fiddly and annoying, and visitors always have difficulty and end up really annoyed with your front door. So one day, you decide you're going to fix it. You've got visitors coming on the weekend and you are embarrassed by your broken front door. 
So you get started,  you loosen the whole handle and disconnect it. 

Then, with the door handle it pieces, you realise that from the front of your house, it's very easy to simply walk down the side and enter via the side door. In fact, it's better because that way, you can see from outside whether anyone is home, and you enter the house, right into the main living room, which is where you (or your guests) are usually going anyway.  Really, it just needs a path down the side of the house to make it a bit more "user friendly". Add that path, and you and your guests will never use the front door.

So, you rush out and buy some paving stones, and pave a beautiful pathway down the side leading to your sliding door. You even add a "Welcome" door mat for good measure. Your guests arrive and are led straight down the side of your house. All weekend, you're in and out via your sliding side door, up and down the path.... brilliant!

Then, an interesting thing happens. You order Pizza for dinner one night. Half an hour later, there's a knock at the door.... the front door. You wander down and to your surprise (and embarrassment) there lies the front door handle, still in pieces, now completely non-operational. You call out through the door, trying to explain to the pizza guy, that the door doesn't work, and he needs to make his way, in the dark, around the side, to your sliding side door. He trips (in the dark) drops the pizza and leaves in disgust - most likely to sue you for the medical bills incurred when he sprained his ankle, and burnt his arm on the hot melted cheese from your pizza. (That's right, the pizza was actually still hot!)

This sort of thing happens a lot when maintaining legacy computer code too. A problem is identified. A solution might be started. Then, someone notices a better way - a way that if only the users could see, would avoid the mess in the first place - mostly. Most of the time, if they did things this other way, they wouldn't even need this bug fixed in the first place. 

The temptation (especially if the "other way" is easier to code) is to jump in and code away. Now, if you've started with the fix, stop right there!  Document the new idea by all means. But always fix that initial bug. If it's broken, and it's worth your time to fix, fix it properly. Then, go right ahead and do the second thing as well, but "don't leave broken door handles lying around, just because you think there's a better way to get into the house."

=========

Having written and just re-read this, I'm struck by some overlap with the broken windows theory, which I am a subscriber too, but was far from my mind when I started dumping this thought from my mind...

I love lists.... and Trello

Geez I love a good list.

I'm the guy that needs lists to organise his lists.

I loved Teux Deux for a long time. So simple, so clean, so easy... and you get to cross stuff off! I also have an Android phone and tablet, so when they started charging a minimal subscription for Teux Deux, and still didn't offer an Android app, I bailed....



At about the same time I discovered Trello. (I am a complete Trello fanboy.) However it's not cutting it as a To Do list for me. It is so much more! I have too many boards. I have detailed cards, with attachments, and check lists and tags. I want something like a Trello overlay - something I can scratch notes onto, before they warrant a card in Trello, before the evolve into a fully fledged Trello card.

I've been trying the Momentum add-in for Chrome for a few weeks now. It's almost perfect. Beautiful background picture, a one liner to get you focused for the day, it's in your face when you're about to derail and head into Facebook, or anywhere else you need to not be for a while... and it has the simple, Teux Deux style list in the bottom right corner. I've read that momentum is by no means finished, and there's more to come so I'll definitely be keeping an eye on it, but, lack of centralised storage is the road block for me. If I drop a quick, "remember to read this" not on my Momentum task list, I really need to see that, when I open Chrome, on my laptop or my tablet or phone, of home pc or... Unfortunately, it seems, the to do list is stored locally so what I decide to do at work can't follow me home, and vice versa. So close!


Then, in my eternal quest for the perfect to list, I stumbled across "Remember the Milk". Looked great. I signed up, confirmed, linked to Evernote, Twitter et al. I started entering some tasks and quickly discovered this is a seriously powerful solution. I forced myself to keep my number of lists to three, downloaded the Android app which was pretty slick I must say, and battled on with the clunky web app interface, because, hey it's free - you get what you pay for, I can wear that. The App was nice and I'll spend most of my time there anyway.

So, I checked that my first task entered on the web, showed up on my phone, and pushed on. I entered a couple more tasks, and went to check how tasks in different lists appear in the Android App.... nothing.   Ah ha.. theres a sync button. (Press).... "please wait 24 for your next available sync - or sign up for the Pro version."

Now that's fair enough, nice app, gotta pay - they aren't a charity I get that, but really, I'm already uneasy about the tangents this app is taking me on.... priorities, multiple lists, tags, interaction with other apps, reminders.

Back to my original goal, a simple high level view of what I need to get done. I've got Trello for the details...I'm happy there... I love Trello....I said that didn't I.

So, "Remember the Milk" want $25 for a year's subscription - a very reasonable price for a very powerful system... but I don't want a very powerful system. I want an online task list - that's it. Items in, a couple of lists like I write on the notepad on the desk next to me, that I can get at where ever I am, in the car, at the cricket club, at home on the couch or when I wake up a 3 in the morning and remember that one thing...

Sound familiar - yep, it's Teux Deux. Break out the credit card and subscribe. It's time. Teux Deux will be my 10000 foot view of things, that I don't want to forget. I'm not looking to collaborate, Tweet, blog, email, or share - I just want to move stuff around in  lists and cross them off. When I need to keep notes, comments, add attachments, I'll use Trello (did I mention I love Trello). For the rest, its Teux Deux for me.

I really like all the products I've mentioned here - it comes down to "horses for courses":