Tip o’ the Week #175 – a ‘tastic OneNote add-in


Regular ToW readers might recall a previous mention of an add-in to OneNote which provides useful additional functionality, perhaps most notably OneCalendar – which gives you a calendar view, with the titles of OneNote pages which were edited on that day… hover over the title to see a preview of the page, click on it to jump to that page.

OneCalendar can be installed as a separate app, then pinned to the Task bar or Start menu if you want to fire it up quickly, without first being in OneNote.

If you have multiple notebooks and if you have hundreds of pages, this is a great add-in, since it quickly lets you see pages you’ve updated, regardless of where they are.

The bigger OneTastic add-in does a load more, too – the newest addition to its arsenal of features being the ability to write and play back OneNote Macros. Even if you have no interest in creating your own, Omer has a whole slew of macros installed by default or available to download from Macroland. Sometimes simple things like being able to quickly insert a horizontal line, or add capabilities common to other Office apps, like auto-fill of tables.

Check out this brilliant – and free – add-in, on http://omeratay.com/onetastic/.

Tip o’ the Week #174 – Presenting tips from the pros

clip_image002This 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 words, you could visit the Chicago auditorium and see the whole thing being presented to an empty room, except for the camera and audio crew and perhaps a few interested supporters.

Andrew Fryer suggested this update of an old feature of the somewhat-maligned Windows Vista. Pressing WindowsKey+X on a Veesta machine would display the Mobility Center, a collection of tools that are relevant to laptop use. In Windows 8, the Win+X combination has grown somewhat, and throws up clip_image003a list of potentially useful utilities and quick access to the more commonly used (by technical types, anyway) aspects of the Control Panel. On a laptop, Mobility Center also features here.

If you like it particularly and a few more clicks is too much to ask, you could even start the Mobility Center then pin it to Taskbar for future one-hit execution. clip_image004

The Presentation Settings applet in Mobility Center will allow you to configure how your machine looks and feels whilst you’re presenting – maybe change the background image of your desktop from a leering photo of your dog/child/spouse, to something a little more corporate and dry. Or don’t let the screen go blank, even if you’re running on battery… To set the options up, click on the projector icon within the Mobility Center. clip_image006

It doesn’t set your Lync status to tell people you’re presenting, and it won’t configure PowerPoint to send things to the right screen, though… more on that in a future tip.

Tip o’ the Week #173 – LinkedIn Contacts in Outlook


This week’s tip focuses on the power of LinkedIn. Some people use it as their system of managing customer and partner contacts. Some find new employment by schmoozing their network – some even use it as the launchpad for their next career.

Hands up who’s ever thought that a work colleague suddenly connecting with them, means that work colleague is a soon-to-be-ex one? Or been in the middle of a meeting and had a LinkedIn request from someone (external) who’s currently in the same room?

LinkedIn is undoubtedly a powerful business connection tool, and using clip_image004it in Outlook makes it even more so. First step, if you haven’t done so already, is to enable the Social Connector. In the past, this was a separate addin to Outlook, but in 2010 was included (though you had to install each social network provider as a separate addin). Now in Outlook 2013, Facebook, LinkedIn and internal SharePoint services are all built in.

There was a recent issue with LinkedIn that could mean even if you had previously configured it to work with Outlook 2013, it may have broken – to check all is well, look at the bottom of the preview of an email (in the “People Pane”) from an external user who is in your LinkedIn network, and see if there is an error message, or if you’re seeing LinkedIn status messages. To ensure you have everything configured correctly, go into the View -> People Pane menu in Outlook, then click on Account Settings to ensure you have the correct username, password and options set.

clip_image006Enter your own LinkedIn username & password, and if you also check the “by default, show photos…” option, then you’ll see the LinkedIn photo of any contact – external, or in fact internal too – within any emails etc that sit in Outlook.

An interesting point – if you look at any standard LinkedIn list of people, or of the individual profile of any one person, their photos are typically shown on the left side of any text. Since we mostly read text (in western cultures) from top left, and all the way down to the bottom right, this lends itself to preferring photos which are facing left-right, especially if placed on the left of the page; so it looks as if the individual is looking on approvingly of their own profile, rather than dismissively starting away from it. Thanks to Eileen Brown for pointing this out.

Try it as an experiment on Linkedin.com: look at all your own contacts, then open up a few who are facing left-> right and others facing right-> left, and see if you agree. Time to change your picture?

clip_image008clip_image010Anyway. LinkedIn contacts, once the Social Connector is configured, show up in a separate contacts group within Outlook’s People view – you can “Peek” by hovering the mouse over the People icon on the shortcut bar, and search details of contacts there, both those in your existing Outlook contacts list and those from LinkedIn. If you click on the People icon, you’ll see lists of Contacts that can be searched in or filtered as appropriate – so if your contacts in LinkedIn have allowed it, you can see email addresses and phone numbers within Outlook.

If you open up a LinkedIn contact and make a change – let’s say, added a mobile number that you’ve gleaned from their email – then Outlook will make that a copy of that contact in your own Contacts folder, and make the change there. Synchronisation of content from LinkedIn appears to be one-way – and if you get into creating custom fields and categories on LinkedIn itself, they might not synchronise at all. Best try a few experiments out before relying on information being available everywhere.

clip_image011There are other ways of using, and benefitting from, LinkedIn integration – and we’ll explore some of these in a future Tip o’ the Week: how LinkedIn plugged in via your Microsoft Account can mean you can share info across Facebook, Twitter and other services, for example.

Careful though – It sometimes makes sense not to cross the streams of “work” and “life”. Like Monty Python said, “…don’t take out in public, or they’ll stick you in the dock, and you won’t come back.”

Tip o’ the Week #172 – Dreaming of Apps

clip_image002Clearly, the most obvious difference in Windows 8 compared to other operating systems (from inferior *NIX based desktops to fancy fondleslabs) is the Start Screen – the colourful, dynamic  and interactive tile-based view of apps available to you with just a click, touch or swipe. It’s also the most controversial aspect of the OS, with a whole slew of “start screen replacements” available, and the environment garners more grumbling in online forums than anything else in Windows 8. There are rumours that the next generation of Windows will allow users to skip the Start Screen and go straight to the desktop. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Those of us with long memories will recall Windows XP being dismissed by some  customers, disliking the green start button and colourful window surrounds, demanding ways of switching it all off and making the OS look like Windows 2000. Now the same people may be clinging on to XP, even as the clock ticks down to less than a year before support ends

The apps that appear on your Start Screen will, of course, evolve as you use it, and we’d all like it that (even better versions of?) the best apps available on other platforms will also be made available for Windows 8. It may take time to really understand what works best on the platform, just like the best games on a console often come out late into its lifecycle, as developers learn how to exploit it best.

Kevin Ashley wrote a great blog post about the developer opportunity for writing Windows 8 Apps – that now is the “Magic Moment” – the time to get established in the store, before it grows to the point where there are lots of apps all purportedly doing the same thing. Kevin’s point is well made because he’s an accomplished app developer – how many of us would still turn up for work if we were taking $30,000 a month in app revenue, I’m not sure.

If you hear anyone saying that they don’t plan to support Windows 8 with their app, and that all their efforts go into iOS or Android development, perhaps highlight Kevin’s blog post above. Maybe some of the top customers could focus their efforts on building their own great apps, and maybe less on taking down the apps that others build. Fingers crossed.

Start me Update


Previous ToWs have harped on about the importance of updating your installed Apps through the Store. We’re now seeing a whole slew of app updates to built-in apps, like the Bing Travel or Maps app. Mary Jo Foley writes about some of the updates, and anyone who’s been using Xbox Music across Windows 8 devices, Windows Phone and Xbox console, will enjoy the latest version of the Music app.

It can take a bit of digging to find out what each of the numerous updates actually doesPaul Thurrott (for example) has unearthed a few of the details.

ToW Update: Several eagle-eyed readers commented on the last Tip. Rather than following the process to wangle SkyDrive to replicate eWallet data, perhaps just take a look at Sky Wallet – a Windows Phone app with free desktop companion (if you buy the app – but then, it’s cheaper than eWallet anyway), and the developer’s apparently working on a Modern UI version too. Oh, and it just stores its data in SkyDrive to start with. I’ll get my coat.