The Electric Wand

Thoughts of a technology enthusiast.

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  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #246 – The least-used key on your keyboard

    The computer keyboard will probably be with us for many years to come – it’s just such an efficient way ( once you get used to it ) of text entry, that it’s hard to imagine it’ll be replaced entirely with gestures or by speech . There are some pretty obscure keys on the standard PC keyboard though –...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #239 – OneNote templates

    As we’ve covered on ToW before , OneNote is an application that attracts legions of fans like few other productivity apps. The average user probably snips and clips, pastes and types into their OneNote notebooks, but may not realise the depths of functionality only a menu or two away. Surface 3 users...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #233 – When I'm moving windows

    As the nights are already drawing in , UK domestic interest in international football has long waned to background tolerance (apart from tabloid cannibal fever ) , massive new TV sales and beer supply forecasts drop to any normal summer level, we must amuse ourselves in other pursuits. Maybe, perusing...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #231 – Linking LinkedIn and Outlook, look!

    LinkedIn has been going for over 11 years and has resurged in user base and usefulness after seemingly getting really popular initially, and then fading a bit (remember Friends Reunited , anyone? – somebody should come up with Fiends Reunited.com , though there are many such strange things already on...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #223 – Clear your inbox

    Some people live a disciplined existence and manage to keep a very tidy desk, their to-do list at the end of each day is empty, and their inbox is clean. Many others aspire to be so organised but either convince themselves that they’re too busy to tidy everything up, or they try hard but just don’t quite...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #212 – Filing and piling of email

    The topic of filing vs piling of email has been had on ToWs passim ( here & here ) , but this week’s gem comes courtesy of a recommendation by productivity guru Tim Pash . Tim says he couldn’t live without a cracking utility which plugs into Outlook, called SimplyFile . The premise is very simple...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #203 – Remote control of Office

    Anyone who regularly presents will have had the occasion when there’s a need to wander around the stage, or instead be marooned behind a lectern on the side, yet if there’s no presentation “clicker” provided, it’s difficult to control the flow. A/V professionals complain that they can never keep hold...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #176 - F(u)11 screen ahead

    This week’s tip might seem a little obvious to some, yet partially unknown to others. Internet Explorer has offered the capability to display a page in full-screen mode, since IE4. Just like the “ content, not chrome ” ethos of the “ Metro ” Modern UI design language, reducing the various window borders...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #152 – Zoom, Zoom!

    If you ever see someone make a presentation or give a demonstration, who says “ you can’t see this, but… ” or “ this is an eye test, but… ” then you have to ask, well why are you showing it (or trying to)? Better still, throw things at them and make a jolly good scene. If you’re presenting, don’t use...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #11: SharePoint alerts

    Some of us use RSS, many of us use SharePoint, but all of use email. Did you know that you can combine these three great technologies to keep you up to date on what other people are doing? Most areas of SharePoint allow you to request to be alerted when things change – in this picture, for example, we...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #71 - Formatting tips for Office apps

    In various Office applications, pressing the F4 key will repeat the last command (if possible). Examples could be applying formatting to document elements (like turning text in Word into a header, or the borders of a table), where you could do it once then simply hit F4 to repeat it to other parts. The...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #174 – Presenting tips from the pros

    This week’s tip comes after another successful “ Tech.Days Online ” session in late April, delivered by a host of specialists covering a range of developer and IT Pro topics. The Tech.Days Online programme of events is interesting in that it’s delivered “live” to thousands of virtual attendees: in other...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #9: Delay sending email

    Some hae meat and canna eat, and some wad eat that want it. But we hae meat, and we can eat, and sae the Lord be thankit. – R. Burns If you’ve become a regular reader of these Tips, you may have spotted that we’ve skipped a few from the numerical sequence. That’s because they...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #4: Telling others you’re on holiday

    An Outlook calendaring tip today, brought to you in plenty of notice of the summer holiday season. It concerns a practice used in Microsoft – and I suspect, elsewhere – where you set up an appointment in your own calendar when you’re going to be on holiday, and you invite your colleagues/boss/etc to...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #130 – Searching in Outlook

    Ever since the 3 rd party “ Lookout ” add-in was built for Outlook about 8 years ago, the pilers have inherited the earth. That’s pilers . No connection with Chaka Demus . Research as far back as the early 1980s into how people organise their desks suggested there were “ filers ” – meticulously organised...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #10: Navigate Outlook with shortcuts

    More Outlook tippery this week. Many of these may be familiar to the “ Mouse? Mouse? We don’t need no stinking mouse! ” keyboard fanatics – if you’re a shortcut junkie, think of this as a refresher. Since we spend more time in Outlook than any other application (with the possible exception of the browser...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #40 – monitoring your PC’s innards

    Everyone can see their PC slow down inexplicably, but getting to the bottom of why can be tricky. It could be an occasional task that’s running (like an update being applied to Anti-Virus software), or perhaps something more sinister is going on – a badly constructed web page causing IE to use up system...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #46 - Reduce your influx of Corporate Spam

    We’ve all had unwanted emails from external sources – so-called “Spam”, after the famous Python sketch that featured a café with Spam in every dish on the menu. A further menace is “Corporate Spam”, or stuff that you don’t want, but which originates from within the corporate network. Usually, C-Spam...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #104 - Windows 7's clock & date

    One of the neat little design touches of Windows 7 that changed as a result of usage analysis was the calendar that is shown when you click the clock on your system tray. User feedback taught product designers that in previous versions of Windows, users would often go into the " Date & Time Properties...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #52 - OneNote on 3 screens & a cloud

    After the first year of ToWs, let’s start the 2nd with a short celebration of a cool feature in OneNote – not revolutionary, but the kind of thing that makes one smile when encountering it – somebody really thought about how OneNote was likely being used. Try typing a sum – like 52x1045= (that’s the...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #164 – Work Anywhere with Windows 8

    Recruiter Nick Papé recommended this week’s topic. Escalation Engineer with spare time on his hands Ben Phillips wrote a cracking Windows 8 app to inspire Nick , and UC overlord Steve Tassell had this to say about it: “The app is another step in the consortium providing practical advice and guidance...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #185 - Outlook, offline!

    Previous ToW entries have covered the need to sometimes tell Outlook to pipe down and let you get on with what your job is supposed to be. Where, after all, does it say on your job description, “Sits in front of a screen reading & writing email all day” ? The Pomodoro time management method is one...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #197 – When to use apostrophe's

    Grammar and punctuation fundamentalists (the Basterds !) will almost certainly have read Lynn Truss ’ ( or should that be Truss’s... discuss… ) seminal book on why punctuation is so important. The title highlights the difference adding simple punctuation makes to a term said of a Giant Panda, that it...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #28 - Windows Key is your friend

    Some people love keyboard shortcuts – producivity guru David Allen (not to be confused with the the late comedian ) recommends, as part of his Getting Things Done methodology, that learning a few keyboard shortcuts will make everyone more productive in doing routine things more quickly. ToW #10...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #101 - Finding files for dialogs

    How many times a month do you have a file (a picture, maybe, or a document) that you want to upload to some website, or attach to an email. and you know where the file is, but then have to navigate through a dialog box to locate it from within the application? I can sometimes think of 2 or 3 such scenarios...