Tip o’ the Week 454 – Time Zone Tumult Ahead

clip_image002You may be affected by upcoming changes to time zones, as much of the northern hemisphere moves out of Daylight Saving Time and back to winter, which for is happening over the next couple of weeks.

Many Southern Hemisphere nations have already moved into “summer time”, though a few will make the transition on 4th November.

Europe, most of Mexico and parts of the Middle East will move out of DST this weekend, but most of the North America and the Caribbean will “fall back” the week after. See the list of places that currently observes DST and when they transition.

This can play havoc with people’s electronic calendars; systems these days generally take notice of time zone changes pretty well and that means the relative times of meetings are preserved, though what this does mean is that a 9am meeting organised in Seattle (and therefore hosted in Pacific Time) will be 5pm for attendees in London this week, but it would be 4pm GMT the week after, then back to 5pm after that, as the US moves clocks back.

This topic was covered 3 years ago in ToW #301, and most of the tips contained therein are still valid today.

Maybe future generations will stop the winter/summer time flip-flop effect altogether (Californians get to vote on whether to join their neighbours in Arizona, by staying on the same time zone all year, and the EU may stop the practice of changing clocks too). In the meantime, for a few weeks a year, those of us who deal cross-border may need to think a bit more about what the time is in our neighbour’s locale.

clip_image004clip_image006If in any doubt, make sure you add another time zone to the time scale on your Outlook calendar view, so you can see at a glance what the time is in other regions.

One further innovation since the last time this topic was aired, is that Outlook now lets you show a third time zone in calendar if you so desire.

Tip o’ the Week 453 – Outlook Quick Steps

clip_image002Somewhat improbably, one fairly prominent feature of Outlook has never been discussed in detail on a previous ToW – Quick Steps. Hiding in plain sight on the Home tab, it’s likely that every Outlook user has clicked on Quick Steps at some point, but do you use them regularly?

Put simply, Quick Steps make some repetitive tasks easy with a single click or even a shortcut key combo – start by selecting a message you’d like to apply some action to (such as moving or categorizing it), or if you’d like to start some new item based on the contents of the message – like create a task or an appointment, including the body of the original mail.

clip_image004Quick Steps can be applied to individual messages or multiples (hold CTRL key while selecting more than one), including selecting the whole clip_image006conversation if you’re viewing in that mode. Click on Create New Quick Step (or click the little expand icon in the bottom right, for the Manage Quick Steps dialog, and create one from there).

clip_image008You’ll see there are plenty of options available for actions that you can take on messages, clip_image010some already combined if you kick off the New step from within the Manage Quick Steps dialog box – though you can add multiple actions to any one after the initial creation. The Categorize and Move option is particularly handy if you want to file all your mails for a given customer or a specific topic, into a subfolder.

clip_image012For more on Quick Steps, see the tutorial here. If you ever think about backing up and restoring your defined Quick Steps, see here (very much not for the faint-hearted), or here.

If you haven’t played much with Quick Steps before, have a go – they’re fab-u-lous!

Tip o’ the Week 451 – OneNote auto-listing

clip_image002Here’s a quick tip in OneNote – both the full-fat desktop client and the modern app version – which was inspired either through PEBKAC type unexpected clickery or maybe an Office update that inadvertently switched something off. A common feature stopped working, and it caused a serious dent in productivity…

Despite the two parallel PC versions of OneNote – which have been covered previously in ToWs #441, #427, #386, #320, et al – offering a good chunk of similar functionality to each other, there are still quite a few areas where the old desktop x86 version wins through.

Add-in support is available in the 2016 variant, for example, so you can run OneTastic (and in particular, OneCalendar, which is immensely helpful if you use many notebooks and take a lot of notes throughout your week).

clip_image004A simpler and more useful feature for many is the ability to grab the contents and context of a meeting request from your Outlook calendar – so you can take notes during a phone call or a meeting, with all the text in the invite, names and email addresses of attendees etc. Can’t do that with

Search in the desktop OneNote is more powerful, too – CTRL-F takes you to the search box, CTRL-E expands your search, but the most powerful and probably least used is to press ALT-O when you have search results from the CTRL-E dialog; it will order them by the date of the page update… helping to filter out current vs obsolete info.

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Bullet lists & indentations (sounds like a Muse song)

Did you know that, in both OneNote versions, if you’re typing notes and press the asterisk or dash key at the start of a new line, and then the space bar, it automatically turns your text into a bulleted list? Asterisks in the middle of a text block are ignored; it’s only seen as an auto-correct function if on a new line.

Just hit enter after you’ve started typing to add another new bullet or hit enter at the beginning of new bullet to finish the list. TAB and SHIFT-TAB lets you indent and un-indent a bulleted line. It doesn’t sound all that revolutionary, but if you’re typing notes during a phone call, it can make all the difference between keeping up or missing discussion points as you fish around with the mouse looking to click the toolbar. If you’re used to it and it gets switched off, it’s a real pain.

The same kind of functionality exists in Word and Outlook too, but now and again it does get in the way – if you’re marking a block of text* that you then want to expand on later without auto-bulleting, for example.

* The simplest way to get an asterisk or dash at the start of a new line is to quickly press Undo – CTRL-Z – as soon as the indentation with the bullet happens, and you’ll be reverted to simply having the character at the start of the line.

To enable or disable the automatic list features on desktop OneNote, go into Options and look under Advancedclip_image008.

There doesn’t appear to be any way of disabling the feature on the Modern App (which you can start by running onenote-cmd: at the Win+R box, if you read ToW #445 and #443) – maybe that’s a good thing, preventing the user from harming their own productivity…

Tip o’ the Week 450 – blur: team life?

clip_image001Teams is coming – it’s going to Skype for Business Online – which we know – though the Skype for Business server will still be there for on-prem use. Teams works arguably better in a purely online scenario, since Skype for Business has its roots in a different era, where infrastructure was nearby and closely managed,

clip_image003The Lync / OCS / LCS application family has been with us for a while now, and Skype for Business is largely a 2015-era re-branding and update of Lync, which itself dates back to 2010.

Back in the OCS days, it was assumed you had a server on-premises (style note the opposite of “in the cloud” is “on-premises”, ie in or on the premises you have, possibly abbreviated to “on-prem”. It is definitely not, ever, “on-premise”.  If you are on-premise, that means you’re in agreement with a point of view, not that you still run your own datacent(re|er)…), not an assumption that you’d make today, with flexible working and Wi-Fi everywhere.

Anyway, as well as having on-prem kit that’s quite possibly connected to a physical phone system, Lync/S4B largely assumed your client (wired to a LAN) connected to a local server. That communicated to other clients and servers in the same environment (mostly) and, maybe via a gateway, to the outside world for the POTS. How cool it was to click a link in the communicator client, and next thing your desk phone was calling that number!

Computers!

As Teams imminently starts to replace Skype for Office 365 customers, we’re seeing lots of best practice guides and other resources for successful adoption. Further Teams ToWs will follow as well – in fact, if you have one you’d like to share, please write it up and send it over.

This week’s tip focuses – or rather doesn’t – on a very cool trick when using Teams for video calling: the ability to blur your background, so as to remove distractions for other parties in the call. There’s a great short video ad illustrating the feature, here. See it in action here.

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Blur background was made generally available to coincide with Ignite – as were a bunch of other updates.

Tip o’ the Week 449 – Snipping Tool gets the snip

clip_image002As mentioned in ToW #447, there are some tweaks coming in the Windows 10 October 2018 update, which might be with us sooner than you think.

The old Snipping Tool (not to be confused with the similar screen snipping utility that’s installed if you have OneNote 2016, activated by pressing WindowsKey+S) is going away, and giving way to a new program. And some people aren’t happy about it (in fact, if this was a story which features on the sponsored clickbait tiles on the Edge browser homepage, it’d be described as Microsoft Has a New Trick, and These People are Furious About It…).

clip_image004The new Snip & Sketch tool (which is a Modern App, and that in itself means Some People Are Mad at What Microsoft Just Did…) also replaces the previous OneNote method (by using WindowsKey+S), launching a simple toclip_image006olbar at the top of a greyed-out screen, making it quick and easy to either grab a rectangular portion of the screen, a free-form selection, or the whole screen itself.

If grabbing a free-form selection, once you’ve more-or-less completely made a shape and when you release the mouse button clip_image010you’ve been holding down, then a large “toast” appears in the bottom right of the screen advising that it’s now in the clipboard. If you click on that, clip_image008you’ll be launched into the Snip & Sketch app, where you can do various tweaks to your grab, save it, share it and so on. An alternative to the Win+S method of invocation is to go into Snip & Sketch to start with, and initiate a new screen grab from there.

Despite the fact it’s a Modern App and People With Too Much Time On Their Hand Think This… is a bad thing, it’s actually pretty snappy and provides a useful polish to one of the more esoteric but handy features in Windows.

clip_image012Handy especially if you prepare any kind of training documentation, or you’re stupid enough to send out a weekly tips email to thousands of people for 9 years.

Of course, another method (useful in the preparation of this very note) is to rely on the old PrntScn button, the pressing of which dumps the contents of the screen – floating toolbars and everything – straight into the clipboard.

Paste the contents into MSPAINT, then use the Snipping method above to grab the relevant section of your screen grab, and you’re sorted.