b5media.com

Advertise with us

Enjoying this blog? Check out the rest of the Business Channel Subscribe to this Feed

Pimp Your Work

August 6th, 2007

Save all open documents and other easy tips for MS Word

Did you know you could save all open documents by just holding down the shift key when selecting the File menu?  Yeah, Save turns into Save All (okay not in Word 2007 it appears)!  Web Worker Daily has six more tips in their article:

Many of us writerly types spend a lot of time in Microsoft Word, and I even know a few Web designers who like to use it and Microsoft Excel for doing simple site prototyping work. Whether you’re sentenced to use Word all day by a dictatorial IT department, or it’s simply your word processor of choice, you can save time and have more options by mastering a few easy shortcuts.

The seven tips I’ll list here are very easy to learn. They work in most versions of Word, and under Windows or on a Mac: Source: Web Worker Daily » Blog Archive 7 Tips to Get the Most Out of MS Word «

So why is it that software developers hide some of these great shortcuts?  Why isn’t there a great cheat-sheet that you can print out?  Huh?  Come on guys (and gals), tell me really.  There is a meme going on right now that desktop software is dead and no it isn’t (sounds like the fights my kids have over the computer … my turn … no my turn…), me, I’m still a big fan of desktop software.  I eschew web-based apps for my core work.  Sure I use them, but I don’t compose posts in WP, I use Live Writer.  I don’t write a document in Google Docs, I use Word (then upload).

Okay a bit of a tangent there, but really why do developers put awesome features into their apps and freakin’ hide them!  Arrggghhhh!!!!

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

August 5th, 2007

Is PowerPoint a required skill for business?

Just when you thought applying to college, university, grad school couldn’t get any worse:

Now talk about stereotypes. So are they now encouraging geeks to try business out? But I doubt if PowerPoint would be the geek’s primary weapon of choice. Perhaps a bit of Flash presentations should be in order. However, it is quite encouraging that business academe has started to acknowledge technology as a real driver in today’s business. Source: School Requires PowerPoint Presentations for Applications

Yeah, a business school is requiring part of the application to include a PowerPoint deck.  Yikes.  What is this supposed to show?  Are we forcing people to learn bad habits early or …

Is it cooler and more subtle.  What if the goal is to see if applicants can convey their thoughts clearly and simply.  Do they go for flash and glam, hoping that people won’t notice they have nothing to say?  Or will the presentation be elegant, simple, but powerful.  I would have a problem with this approach because my slides tend to be Spartan … I actually give talks as in my slides are just a guide, I’m doing the talking not reading from slides.

Now if the applicants could record their talk that goes with the slides … well that would be cool.  However I have had situations where someone wanted a slide deck that wasn’t going to have a talk associated with it.  I hate those, but I’ve done them.  Again, it’s a challenge to ensure that you can convey your message without confusion.  That people “get it”.

Maybe this isn’t a bad requirement after all.

Technorati Tags:

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

August 3rd, 2007

Being that it’s August, let’s talk hardware and heat

Today is our channel theme day and while my fellow bloggers are working off the meaning of “august”, I’m taking a different tack.  August is one of the hottest months of the summer in North America and so I thought it might be a good time to talk about heat, sun, and computers.

First, heat is not a computer’s best friend.  One of its greatest foes, actually.  So for starters, don’t leave/put computers, cameras, etc in direct sun for long.  Not good.  LCD screens can get damaged quickly and the heat can start doing real damage quickly.  Of course cars are a related bit to this.  Leaving a DVD on the dash in the sun … you’re asking for trouble.  Same with mostly anything else electronic (unless it’s designed to be there).

For desktop computers, if you don’t get into the whole overclocking thing (which if you’re doing that at work … well you know what trouble you’re getting into), the fan will be working overtime in the summer for sure.  Give it a break and turn it off at the end of the day.  Remember it isn’t just the outside air that is hot, the processor and other parts generate heat (it’s electric resistance … a little physics).  Hence the fans.

Now laptops are a whole different class of cooling issues.  They generate heat, but because they sit pretty flat they also have trouble dissipating the heat well.  I’ve used lots of things to lift a laptop up and help cool it.  There are even USB-powered cooling mats with fans to help pull heat away.  Right now I have a stand that I use on my desk to lift it up for a better typing angle and give it some passive cooling.  It also works great on my lap … which is often ignored.  I also have an APC device that lifts the computer up to the point where it is more like a monitor … it’s designed to be used with an external keyboard and mouse.

The best advice I can give is … when the fan on your laptop really starts screaming (I had a Dell like that) … it’s time for a break.  If your laptop starts to overheat it will start acting strangely and might even shut down.

By Tris Hussey -- 2 comments

August 3rd, 2007

Work with your IT folks, not against them

Doing a little testing here for the tech crew at b5. We’ve got some kick-ass coders and server admins at b5 who work to keep the lights on here. They’re using PYW here as a test bed for some upcoming code changes, and asked me to test ‘er out. Which then reminded me…

IT is not evil. Really IT has a hard job, when something goes wrong it’s all their fault, when something is working … you think someone even buys them a coffee? Nope. Having done tech support and been an IT Manager I really appreciate the job. Here’s a tip … befriend your IT person. Buy him/her a coffee or a beer. Cut them some slack. Educate yourself. Try to understand their perspective a bit. Believe me, it will pay off in spades when you need a favour.

By Tris Hussey -- 3 comments

August 1st, 2007

Even Free I don’t think MS Works is worth it

 Gee I guess MSFT is feeling the heat from all the free office options out there:

Microsoft has released the new version of Microsoft Works as a free, ad supported office package that will compete directly with Open Office and Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

The Works package offers word processing, spreadsheet and slide (powerpoint) functionality partially based on code from older versions of Microsoft Office. Source: Microsoft Offers Works For Free

So … you going to jump on that bandwagon?  I wouldn’t.  I’ve always hated MS Works.  It’s pretty stripped down and the spreadsheet didn’t play nice with XL (maybe that will be different in v9).  Really if you’re dying for a free office suite … Yeah Google Docs & Spreadsheets coupled with OpenOffice is going to work for you just dandy.

By Tris Hussey -- 2 comments

August 1st, 2007

Laser printers give off micro-particles that are bad for your health

This is not a headline you want to read after unboxing your new home laser printer:Study: Laser printers may pose health risks | CNET News.com.  Here is something from the Grasshoppers blog (which I encourage readers to join):

The laser printer problem was found accidentally while doing tests on office ventilation systems, where they discovered five times as many particles indoors as was produced by traffic outdoors. Using an electronic sniffer they traced the emissions to office laser printers and found that emission levels continued to rise throughout the day even while the laser printers where idle.

With the cost of laser printers dropping, and the cost of ink jet cartridges being perpetually over priced, more and more people are bring laser printing to into the home. I’d say its time to test the small office home office level machines as well. Source: Beware of Second Hand Laser Printer Emissions - grasshoppers

I couldn’t decide if this was a post for PYW or Homely Scientist … right now the problem is in the “learning and investigation stage”-as in we know it’s a problem, fixing it is another matter.  Micro-particles in the air are very problematic.  They are breathed deep in to the lungs, but don’t come back out.  Often they are angular so the stick into the flesh of the lungs.  Then there is the question of the composition of the bits.  What does toner do to the body?

Personally I have a home laser printer after seeing that for $100 I could buy new ink cartridges for my inkjet or a home laser printer-new.  Yeah, laser printer.

I guess the only thing that can be done is to turn the buggers off when not needed and maybe a HEPA air filter.

Stumped I am.

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

July 31st, 2007

Tweak Firefox for widescreens and make it stay in the background when you want it to

Have a widescreen monitor?  Chances are if you have a newer laptop you do.  Even lots of desktop users are jumping on the widescreen bandwagon.  Well, funny thing is that applications haven’t caught up with this change in monitor size.  Fear not, though, help is on its way.

I found this from GHacks a long while ago, but there is a very, very simple way to tweak Firefox to make the most of your monitor. Jonathon Weare’s tips will take you, oh, 5 minutes to put into place and the benefit is immediate.  In fact when I was using a desktop machine with a (now) standard 1024×768 monitor I really missed these tweaks!  I might have to make the tweak on that system too!

Speaking of tweaks, don’t you hate it when you want to open a link from another application (and I’m thinking about reading RSS feeds in FeedDemon myself) and Firefox jumps to the front?  Sure lots of times you want this to happen, but when I’m trying to open stuff to blog, well I’d rather Firefox stay nicely in the background.  Amit Agarwal posted this oh so simple tweak to keep Firefox in the background.

How’s that for pimping your browser!  And it didn’t mean any animal prints or fuzzy dice!

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

July 31st, 2007

Outlook 2007 Sucks

Outlook continues to drive us all batty.  I’ve just upgraded to a newer machine and while it might not be the speediest beast on the planet, the 2 gigs of RAM makes everything run better including Outlook.  But I digress.  Outlook 2007 is trying to make our e-mail more secure, but it’s junk mail filtering system has some flaws:

Microsoft Outlook 2007 sucks. Or at least it sucks in how it handles its Junk E-mail functionality. Microsoft’s brilliant decision is to prevent users from Replying to any email that lands in your “special” Junk E-mail folder. Microsoft Outlook 2007, part of the Office 2007 suite, displays the following dialog box popup when I click Reply to an email in the Junk E-mail folder:
“To help protect your personal information, this message has been converted to plain text. Links and other functionality have been disabled. To restore functionality, move the message to the Inbox.”
There is also a ‘Do not show’ check box which adds a setting to the Registry so the popup doesn’t appear again. I happened to check it, so now when I click Reply to an email in my Junk E-mail folder nothing happens. The mouse cursor just sits there mocking me and my futile clicks of the Reply button. Strangely enough the Forward button works which makes absolutely no sense. Block Reply for security reasons but not Forward? Source: Outlook 2007 Sucks

I’ve run into disappearing e-mail problems with Outlook 2007 and Junk Mail.  I mark it not junk and it leaves the junk folder … but no where to be found in the inbox … strange behaviour.

Ever wonder if Microsoft is just doing this to us because they want to drive us crazy?  You have to wonder sometimes.

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

July 28th, 2007

Vista Battery Saver Goes Open-source

I talked about the Vista Battery Saver tool in May when it was first launched in beta.  I tried it for a little while, but I think something about my machine didn’t like it.  Doesn’t really matter though, because everyone else liked it so much so that it’s been release as an open-source app:

Project Description
This tinny program will save up to 70% of your battery by disabling those nice, but greedy Vista features. Running in task bar with private workset of 5.5M and 0% CPU it will do all work for you, by enabling and disabling customizable features when power source changed or battery power fall under certain percent. Source:Vista Battery Saver - Home

Funny that my recent problems with Vista and my laptop have to do with power issues.  This application looks like it has matured a great deal since I looked at it, when I get my machine back, I’ll give it another try…

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

July 27th, 2007

Backpack gets refreshed by 37Signals

Something for all you Backpack fans…

37Signals relaunched their Backpack service today. The app’s back end code was completely rebuilt from scratch, according to Jason Fried, and the service also got a new UI to match some of 37Signals’ other recently updated products (such as Basecamp). The design still feels very familiar to any 37Signals app user, however. Source: 37Signals Relaunches Backpack Organizational Tool

I have to admit that I haven’t gotten into Backpack much.  I know, shock, gasp, etc.  I’m just into that many web-based tools.  However, given that my laptop is on the fritz and I won’t be getting it back until week after next…

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

Close
E-mail It