Tip o’ the Week #165 – Take the tour

clip_image001When was the last time you actually read the manual? Or actually skimmed over the Terms & Conditions you’re agreeing to when clicking on a button somewhere? Sometimes, attempts to make things easy aren’t exactly riveting.

Now and again, though, it’s worth assuming the role of true n00b: you might learn something. That’s right, gents. R.T.F.M.

In this case, try taking the tour in the New Office applications – select New from the File menu on Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and you’ll see a selection of tips clip_image003to get the most out of the new apps.

The Excel tour is particularly snazzy. The first tip is pretty cool – it’s all about the awesome Flash Fill function, which can spot common patterns in the data you’re dealing with… like the first names or surnames in a list of email addresses.clip_image005

The tours finish up with Getting Started sites for Excel, Word and PowerPoint… try out the in-app tours, and have a look through these sites and you might even figure out some new tricks.

Tip o’ the Week #164 – Work Anywhere with Windows 8

clip_image001Recruiter 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 which our growing community so dearly crave. This is also an important vehicle in helping us promote the second annual Anywhere Working week which is running again from 18th-22nd March.  There are many activities planned for the week but,  I want to highlight to you the roadshows running all week.  We are planning an ambitious tour of the country taking our Office hub experience nationally.  In Partnership with local authorities, we are providing a networking opportunity, technology experience and Ignite-style sessions from businesses and experts already working flexibly.  You can find more details and means to register here.“

Of course, Nick and Steve are both very keen to stress the possibilities of remote working using Lync – every “snow day” is another day to celebrate and sell the technology benefits, in other words. Well, news reached us of a looming collaboration between Skype and Lync, and the promise of some groovy new Lync 2013 mobile clients, due in the coming months.

Tip o’ the Week #161 – Windows Phone 8 “Portico”

clip_image001Attention, Windows Phone 8 owners… you may not have spotted it, but there’s a pretty decent update already available – code-named “Portico”. (Aside: If you visit certain Italian cities – like Bologna – you’ll see porticos as the things that provide the apparent multitude of graffiti artists shelter from the sun/rain/Carabinieri).

Portico” is not a wholesale new version, but rather a bunch of fixes and/or additions to the platform. You may be notified of the availability of the update, but if you poke the phone to check (via settings | system | phone update -> check for updates) then you’ll know for sure.

EE rolled out the update to both Nokia 920s and HTC 8Xs, so everyone who got their phone through Microsoft UK should be able to get Portico (which updates to OS version 8.0.10211.204, as seen in settings | system |  about).

Can’t take the call, reply by text

clip_image002Thanks to Richard Watson for pointing out one of Portico’s coolest features, the “text reply” function – and it’s enabled by default. When someone on another mobile phone calls, you can choose to text back an automatic response from one of 4 pre-defined messages (“I’m on the phone, please leave a message” / “Sorry I can’t take your call, please try again later” / “I’m not available, please call someone else” / “Stop calling me, I’ll report you to the Police” etc). Great for when your boss calls and you want to respond “I’m on the phone, please try again at the end of the working day, about 9pm”).

Tip o’ the Week #167 – Flash! Ah-Aaah!

imageSome big news for Windows 8 IE10 users this week (especially those using “Immersive IE”, aka modern/Metro IE): the way the browser handles Flash websites has changed. More details, here. In a nutshell, the Flash player which is built into IE10 has changed its default from not allowing Flash sites unless specifically allowed, to allowing Flash unless specifically disallowed. Pretty big change, then.

The Flash player in IE10 is updated by Microsoft, so you won’t get plagued with unwanted browser toolbars – (does anyone actually want the Ask toolbar?) – and updates will be rolled out more or less automatically to everyone.

Amongst other updates, a new Surface RT firmware has also appeared, alongside IE10 and Office updates. If you have a Surface device, make sure you run the check for updates. More than once, to ensure you’re all tickety-boo.

It’s been a busy few weeks for Internet Explorer – Windows 7 users now get to enjoy it if they choose to.

Trivia: did you know that the actor who played Ming the Merciless (pictured) also played chess with Death in the Seventh Seal, and was the priest in the Exorcist?