Tag Archives: Tips

Open a zipper bag

Quick tip: slide to open cheap resealable bags

You know those tiny little bags of screws and bits you get with Ikea furniture and computer components? Don’t struggle to pull them apart, just squeeze and slide!

opening zipper seal bag

The cheap re-sealable “Ziploc” bags that come already filled are often made out of very thin plastic and the seal can be stronger than the material to which it’s attached. I’ve found that the easiest way to open these little bags is to slide the two tracks against each other and the bag will pop open at the corners. In most cases you can even open the baggies one handed, keeping the other hand free to pat yourself on the back (something I find necessary since my wife is rarely as impressed with me as I am with myself).

Launch your web browser as another user

In SharePoint 2013 there is no longer a quickie menu choice to allow you to indulge your alter ego. I’ll let others go into depth on why it went a way, but I wanted to share a quick tip for how to be another user when you need to test your SharePoint install: create a desktop shortcut to launch your browser with the runas CL argument.

image

New identity, no waiting

When you created your new SharePoint installation you probably gave yourself Epic Guru level access (it may be called Farm Admin in your version). This is good, it allows you to get tons done. It doesn’t, however, allow you to verify you’ve adequately secured the CEO’s Beanie Baby picture collection, or pretend to be an adoring fan posting to your My Site news feed. To do that, you need to be someone else.

For my example I’m going to use Internet Explorer, because I’m an unapologetic company man. You should feel free to swap in your browser of choice… like Netscape or Lynx.

  1. Create a shortcut to your favorite browser. In Windows I did this by navigating to C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer and dragging iexplore.exe to the desktop (by default this creates a shortcut).
  2. Right click your new shortcut and select “Properties”
  3. Modify the shortcut target by adding runas and the desired user account to the beginning of the path. Change the target to (replace user@domain with your test acct):
          %systemroot%\System32\runas.exe /user:user@domain "%ProgramFiles(x86)%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe"
  4. Click OK to save changes.

image

(Note: if you’re not running 64bit windows, the target should be: %systemroot%\System32\runas.exe /user:user@domain "%ProgramFiles%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe")

Double-click your new shortcut and you’ll get a prompt to enter a password. You won’t see anything on the screen as you type, so just go on faith. Type your pw and hit enter.

A little extra for style points

Because I can never leave well enough alone, I had the need to soup up my shortcut (I’m way to old to say “pimp my shortcut”… but you know I was thinking it). The icon of the runas.exe shortcut is boring. I need an icon that screams “I’m a browser shortcut!”

Once again, right-click the shortcut and select properties. Click the change icon button. I went for the globe with a mouse on top.

image Just because I want to customize it, don’t assume I have any imagination.

Finally, give yourself a reminder that you’re someone else. Double-click your shortcut to launch the browser. When your browser comes up, enable the favorites bar (in IE, right-click the title bar and choose favorites bar). Bookmark a site (any site will do) and add it to the favorites bar. Right click your new favorite and rename it to the user name of the special account.

image  Must remember to put on the glasses…

Instant split-personality. Let me know how it works out for you!

Showing more detail in SharePoint Calendar

image

The SharePoint calendar is an ideal place to give people a quick overview of team events, but the overview can be a bit thin on detail for some people’s tastes. The calendar structure is pretty rigid, so we can’t just add columns to the view like we do in other SharePoint lists. We can, however, pick which column to display in the calendar view. Using calculated fields we will build a new event title to have our calendar events communicate extra information at a glance.

Here’s what we want: when looking at the calendar we’d like our site members to see the title of the calendar event AND the location of the event in parenthesis. The pictures below show what SharePoint gives us out of the box compared to what we’d like for our site members:

SharePoint gives us: image We Want: image

Here’s what we’ll do in brief:

  1. Create two calculated fields, one to be the month view title and one to be the sub heading for day and week views.
  2. Modify the view to show our new columns instead of the default columns.

Create new calculated field columns

imageIn our SharePoint calendar we’ll navigate over to the Calendar tab and click the "Create Column" ribbon button. We’ll call this column "Month View Title" and set the type to "Calculated". Now, let’s build up the formula. Remember, we want the end result to look like this:

Event Title (Location)

To create that string, our formula will look like this:

[Title] & " (" & [Location] & ")"

SharePoint’s calculated field will (among other things) combine, or "concatenate", strings. To concatenate strings we use the "&" (ampersand) symbol much the same way we use the "+" (plus) symbol for adding numbers. Building a string is as easy as double-click a column, type an ampersand, type some text in double quotes ("). We use the double quotes to make sure SharePoint knows we’re concatenating a string and not just another field.

For consistency with the month view, we also would like the location wrapped in parentheses for the day and week views. Let’s create another calculated column for this. Repeat the steps to create a column and call it “Day Week View Sub Heading”. The formula will look like this:

"(" & [Location] & ")"

Modify the calendar view

Now that we have the strings we want, we can change the calendar view to show our new calculated columns instead of the default, "out of the box" (OOB) event title.

imageIn your calendar, head back over to the Calendar tab again and this time click the "Modify View" button. In the Edit Calendar View settings we’ll change the "Calendar Columns" to show our new calculated fields. The title fields we’ll change are the "Month View Title", the "Week View Sub Heading" and the "Day View Sub Heading". Since we’re extra clever, we gave our calculated columns names which match up very nicely with these field titles. Click the OK button to save changes and we’re done.

Go crazy

The SharePoint calculated column feature gives a lot of flexibility and can be used without having to open SharePoint Designer or learn to write custom SharePoint solutions. Check out this article on MSDN to get your creative juices flowing.


Update: We’ve cross-posted this on the SharePoint for End Users blog.

A couple box packing tips

When a release is finished at Microsoft people pull their heads out of their current product and frequently move around between teams (and that means packing up your office to head to a new location). Watching professional movers pack my house for the move to and from Ireland did teach me a little about moving. There are two biggie tips, however, that stood out.

Tape your boxes the wrong way first

Going from flat cardboard to a box can be awkward with one person. It’s not tremendously hard to assemble a box, but if you want it to be nice and square you can speed the process by running the first piece of tape perpendicular to the seam.

IMAG0068 (2)

Align the bottom flaps and run a piece of tape across the bottom of the box and it will be held closed and aligned while you tape the seam.

Pack your boxes on top of other boxes

The first tip will save you a little time, but this second tip will save your back. No matter how careful you are, moving is tiring and often hard on your back.

IMAG0069 (2)

Once you have a box or two packed, put your next empty box on top of your packed boxes. Loading this top box will be much easier as you won’t be bending down to put items in the bottom of the box. You should, of course, protect your back from the beginning and start your first box on a chair.

Combo bonus!

I recommend combining the two tips and build your new boxes on top of the other boxes (see first picture). Constructing your fresh box on a raised pedestal will preserving your back even when you’re straining to lift your collection of dolls action figures.

Watch what you eat

Not really a packing tip per se, but the logo on the bottom of the packing boxes did make me worry that if I’m not careful I might die of dysentery.

IMAG0070 (2)

Quick image straightening with Photoshop

Microsoft Digital Image Suite, for all its limitations, does a few things really well:

  • Fix red-eye
  • Stitch together panoramas
  • Make straightening images brain-dead easy

I love Photoshop.  It’s definitely my image editor of choice but I always used to launch Digital Image to straighten pictures, then I’d go back to Photoshop for the rest of my tweaks.  It wasn’t until I bought The Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby (also in flavors for CS2 and CS3) that I learned the Photoshop method.

Straightening images is actually a pretty simple process, but nowhere in the Photoshop UI does it say “straighten”.  I suppose I could have read the manual, but where’s the fun in that?

The basic steps are:

  1. Use the measure tool to figure out the angle to rotate
  2. Perform an “arbitrary” rotation
  3. Crop your picture

Let’s say you’re in a hurry (or drunk) and snap a quick photo at a wonky angle.

The first step (after opening the picture with Photoshop, of course) is to select the measure tool from your tools palate.  The measure tool is the ruler buried under the eyedropper tool and can be accessed by clicking and holding or by hitting shift-i repeatedly until the measure tool is selected (I’m a big fan of keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop, they save me a bunch of time and make me feel like a power user).

Once you have your measure tool selected you need to pick a line in the picture you think should be horizontal or vertical.  If you’re straightening a landscape the horizon is a good bet.  If you are shooting buildings using a wide angle lens you’ll want to pick a line near the center of the picture and probably a vertical one.

Use the measure tool to draw along the line you think should be vertical.

Rotating the picture is now a fairly automatic process.  From the Image menu select Rotate Canvas -> Arbitrary.  When the dialog pops up you’ll note Photoshop has already filled in a number.  The software has looked at the line you drew using the measure tool and input the number of degrees to rotate automatically.  All you have to do is press OK.

Your image is now straight but you have some extra gunk you need to trim off.  Grab the crop tool from your palate (or hit “c” on your keyboard) and pick out the part of the picture you want to keep.  Hitting enter on your keyboard will crop the picture and after you save you’re done.