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Office for Mac Preview

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that there is an Office for Mac Preview.  Being that I love to live on the bleeding edge I took the plunge.  I installed the Office suite on my Macbook and everything worked up until the point that I imported the profiles from Outlook 2011.  After I did that Outlook in Mac Preview kept crashiPhoto on 3-19-15 at 5.21 PM #3ng over and over again.  It took me a couple of days but I finally figured out (thanks to multiple Google searches) that I had to run the built in Profile editor and delete the existing profile and add a new one.  Once I did that the problem was resolved.  I was able to add my new Exchange account and now I am flying around nicely.  Once I have worked with this version of Office and have something intelligent to say I will attempt to do a review of it in a new blog post.

Did you install it ?  What has been your experience?  I would love to hear your feedback.

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Office for Mac Preview available

One of my local friends, Michael Carnell, posted to social media about the Office for Mac preview that is now available for download.  You can run Office for Mac preview along side of Office 2011 for Mac.  The install package is 2.5 GB in size so you will need a fast connection to the Net in order to download it. I am downloading it now and I will make an effort to review the new ribbon and other new bells and whistles that has been added.

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Evernote to OneNote adventure

For several years I have been a fan of Evernote. I was so much of a fan, that I considered myself a fan boy. I was an Evernote evangelist. Everyone that I met that might have a need to manage data, I would introduce them to this wonderful program.

I became a fan boy of Evernote after using MS OneNote. I have no idea which version of OneNote it was but it must have been one of the first couple of versions. At some point I learned that data in OneNote was good as long as you did not have a need to export it out to other applications or import data into it.

I am thinking that I must have gotten a new computer that did not have OneNote installed or the version of MS Office did not come with it. No matter the reason, it did not have OneNote and all my data was trapped in that program with nowhere to go. At that point I hopped off of the Microsoft Office train and started looking for an alternative. That is when I found Evernote and I have been using it for several years now with much success.

When I told my boss about my fan boy like adoration of Evernote, she smiled and showed me MS OneNote 2010. She showed me how integrated it had become in MS Office and especially MS Outlook. I still love Evernote, but I love the seamless integration with Outlook, and since I live in Outlook for corporate communications I decided to take the plunge again. After all, I love living on the bleeding edge of incompatibility.

The first thing I had to figure out was how to export data out of Evernote and import it into OneNote. I quickly figured out that this was not going to be a trait that either program has built into it. I spent some time on the Net surfing around for solutions and found two.

The first convertor is called Ever2One Convertor and it is free and works fairly well. It works as long as you do not try to export all 2000 notes out of Evernote at the same time.

The second convertor is called Onenote Batch and it costs 25.00 to purchase a license. When it comes to software utility apps the cost was very reasonable considering how much time it was going to save me in the long run.

If you are like me, the last thing you want to do is read the freaking manual also known as RTFM.   How much fun is there in reading a manual from cover to cover, before you get to use the application. I will have to tell you that when you like to do that, you usually allow technological gremlins to invade the process of converting your data from one app to the next.

The first mistake that I committed, other than RTFM, was to set up the notebooks on a new Onedrive account on the cloud. I spent hours upon hours last night creating new Notebooks and sections in OneNote and then using OneNote Batch to export out of Evernote. On my first attempt I tried to export all 1550 notes from Evernote into OneNote. That just dumped all of them into one OneNote folder and then I had to manually move everything where I wanted.

I finally learned that I had to export one Evernote Notebook at a time and point it over to the corresponding OneNote section. Once I did that then I was on a roll. Every EverNote Notebook exported over to OneNote like a dream. That dream turned into a nightmare when I went to the office and plugged my laptop into the work network. When I fired up OneNote on my main workstation it did see all of the new OneNote folders and sections but it gave me the error “this section was created by another copy of OneNote but has not uploaded the data yet, please synchronize OneNote” or something to that affect.

Instead of reading the manual I launched over to Google and found the devil in the details. It appears that Onedrive used to be called Skydrive. Lots of folks lost their ability to synchronize their OneNote data when that happened. There were lots and lots of horror stories from folks that were not able to synchronize their notebooks between devices while using the Microsoft Cloud solution One Drive. What, a Microsoft product is causing problems? Tell me it is not so.

At some point I realized that synchronization was not going to happen between my devices using One Drive. I opted for option B which was to log on to One Drive from the web and delete the OneNote notebook. Then I created a new One Note notebook on my user drive on our LAN. I can get to that from the workstation and my VPN connected laptop at home. Both devices are now synchronizing data with zero problems. It helps that I manage my network and I understand how to use network drives. Most home users are stuck with cloud solutions and would be caught in synchronization hell.

For now, I am going to drive the shiny new software toy around and see if it will be all that is cracked up to be. I will leave Evernote on all my devices “just in case”. Just in case I need to get to a piece of information quickly while I get accustomed to the Microsoft solution. I am also going to take advantage of the corporate training videos on OneNote and hopefully it will show me some tricks that will shorten my learning curve.

For those of you that are uninitiated with regards to note taking apps or have a need to organize and manipulate notes here is a good article on LifeHacker that will give you a great comparison of the two apps.

What do you use for note taking and why?

 

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Introducing the Boogie Board

Ok, so the Boogie Board may not be new to you.  It is new to me, thanks to my boss giving it to me yesterday during her visit to my office. I must say this is a slick gizmo to use.  How many times have you desperately been searching all over the place for a pen and paper to write down a quick note.  How many note pads and sticky notes have you used over the years?  I have probably used enough of those to fill up a land fill.  One of the nice things about this device is that it helps to keep our planet green.  🙂

Check out the review of this device below.

 

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Your technology is HOT….

Did you know that your technology is HOT?

HOT CPU

No, I am not talking about the cute little colored case you have on your laptop.  I am not talking about color at all.  I am telling you that your computing devices will get hot.

Just the other day someone asked me why their laptop felt so hot.  I just happened to remember that they like to put the laptop on top of a pillow.  The problem is that when you do that, you cover up the ventilation slots on the side that allows the hot air to escape.  The fan inside the laptop actually vents the hot air OUT to keep the CPU and the motherboard as cool as possible.  It is sort of like the radiator on your car. There are air vents in your grill that allows air to below on the radiator, and therefore provide natural cooling for the water that flows through it.

I can’t remember how many times I have gone to a customer’s house or business and had to play “lets find the CPU” game.  The CPU (central processing unit) is the box that has the CPU, motherboard, RAM and other assorted goodies that allows you to interact with what is showing up on your monitor.

CPU

 

Covering your CPU with magazines, trash or other assorted items is not good for it.  Why?  Because your are not allowing it to breath and get proper air flow.  Imagine for a moment, if someone stuffed you into a box that is barely bigger than you are with no air holes, and you had to stay in there for an extended amount of time.  Before you know it, your body would start to overheat and you would start sweating to cool off.

Your CPU does not have sweat glands and therefore does not have that mechanism in which to cool off by.  The CPU will get so hot that the computer will start to hang and not respond to any input.  If the heat remains for long enough it will permanently damage your CPU and all of the electronics within it.  While we are talking about the CPU lets talk about dirt and dust bunnies.  Depending on how clean or dirty the computing environment is, you may want to consider turning off the CPU, unplugging the power cord and opening up the case. Please understand that you can damage the components of your computer if you are not familiar with what you are doing.  Static electricity kills electronic components.  You need to know what you are doing, before you open that case.  If you are uncomfortable doing this, get someone that knows what they are doing to help you with this.

You might be surprised what you find inside.  Insects, mice and other little critters love the warmth that the CPU provides, and they will take up residence in your CPU if you are not careful.  You need to visually inspect inside the CPU on a regular basis, and make sure that you remove anything that is not meant to be there.  Arm yourself with a static free hand vacume or a can of air so you can clean it out.  Whatever you do, do NOT put your CPU in the dish washer.

If your small hairy pets like to camp out on top of your CPU that may be something you need to consider changing.  Computers are magnets for dog and cat hair, dust, dirt and critters.  You should think about discouraging your pets from using your computer or laptop as a butt warmer.  Yes, it makes for adorable pictures for Facebook, but it does not extend the life of your hardware.

Now that we have examined why you want to keep your personal computer (CPU) as cool as possible lets examine why it gets hot to begin with.  The personal computer is nothing but a boat anchor, until you plug it into the wall and apply that wonderful thing called electricity.  Electricity flowing through the CPU helps to cause the personal computer. laptop , tablet to get warm.  The power supply inside the computer case helps to step down or regulate the exact number of WATTS  that your particular computer needs to run.  You should consider placing a GOOD  Uninterruptable Power Supply UPS between your computer and your  utility power source.

Most of us do not think about electricity.  Almost everything we own runs on some sort of electricity.  When we plug appliances and computers into the wall outlets in our home we assume that we are plugging our equipment into a reliable power source.  What is going to surprise you is that you could be placing your equipment at risk by not using a UPS.  Why is this important?  Go out to your sidewalk and look around until you find a large silver or grey power transformer up on a power pole near your house.  What does that do?  It steps down the power coming through the power lines and feeds the right amount of power to your house.  I am not an electrician but I know enough about electricity that the power that comes into your outlets in your home are regulated or stepped down to a safe amount of electricity for your devices.  The reason you need a UPS is because of a thing called Brown Outs and Power surges/voltage spike.

In layman’s terms a “Brown out” is a condition in which the flow of electricity into your home drops below acceptable levels for your equipment to run normally.  Power surges are when the power coming into your home spikes ABOVE acceptable levels.   The UPS will provide several things.  The first thing a good UPS will do is it will monitor how much electricity is coming into the device and will help to keep the electricity levels safe for your equipment. A UPS will protect your equipment from Brown Outs and Power Surges.   Intelligent or SMART  UPS’s will also provide a battery backup, should the utility power were to go completely out.  This will give you time to save the data you are working on and shut down your computer gracefully.

When you decide to shop for a UPS make sure that you pay attention to how many JOULES the UPS is rated for.  The higher the number of Joules the UPS is rated to protect the BETTER the UPS is.  Power bars do not typically protect against power spikes or brown outs.  Some of the Power strips that are on the high end do have a MOV switch  that can provide a very limited amount of protection for a limited amount of time.  After so many power surges , no matter how small, that MOV switch will cease to function and you will have no idea that your equipment is totally unprotected.

In summary, if you have a personal computer, make sure that the CPU Case is sitting in a clean environment with plenty of space around it so it can get plenty of air flow.  Purchase a cooling pad for your laptop to sit on top of it.  If you do not have a UPS for your personal computer then please consider purchasing one.  The life of your computer electronics depends on your having one.

 

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Keeping up with technology

I have experienced a lot of change in the last 24 years as an I.T. professional.  For the most part, technology refreshes itself every 6 to 12 months.  Everyone is familiar with Apple and how their products are introduced one month and then 6 months later another version of the same product is introduced to the market.  I love Apple products because they just work.  I certainly can’t afford to keep up with all of the new models of this and that in the Apple world.

At work I support workstations running Microsoft products.  We run Windows 7 Enterprise edition x86 (32 bit) operating systems.  Our office productivity suite is Microsoft Office 2010.  Microsoft products have been out there for a long time and I do not see it going away any time soon. Apple OSX , Microsoft Windows , Unix, Linux operating systems are the most popular operating systems on workstations in the corporate world. In the corporate world there are folks like me who are in the background keeping technology humming smoothly so you can do your job.  When something goes wrong I am an e-mail or phone call away.  I am the “I.T. guy” or “I.T. Gal” you depend on when trouble happens with technology.

Who is the “I.T. person” when you run into problems at home?  Personal computing has become more and more a part of our every day lives.  Once upon a time a  personal computer ran upwards of 5K and the software for it was very expensive.  That was back in 1980 when the personal computer became available for individuals at home.  Fast forward to today and you can go to Walmart and buy a laptop for under 400.00 and a personal computer with monitor, keyboard and mouse for less than 500.00 if you want a basic set up.  Software is no where near as expensive as it used to be.

Most computer manufacturers recognize the fact that home computer users do not have an I.T. support staff and that they need to make home computers as self healing as possible.  Microsoft Windows computers/laptops come with the automatic updates set up to do your Microsoft security updates and OS patches for you  while you sleep as long as you leave the computer turned on and connected to the Internet.  Most Antivirus & Spyware software will automatically search for updates and apply them for you without any effort on your part.  The same goes with driver updates and firmware updates as well.  In the system tray you will get notifications from the hardware manufacturer that driver or firmware updates are available.  You will have to pay attention to those and apply them manually.  Those updates typically require a reboot.

Why is all of this important to you?  It is important if you want your personal computing device to run efficiently.  When you get into your car you want to turn the key and you expect the vehicle to start and take you from point A to B without too many issues.  No one likes to get stranded on the side of the road with no gas or a flat tire.  That is why we take care of our vehicles and perform basic maintenance tasks like checking the oil, transmission fluid and air pressure in our tires.  If we do not know how to do those things we learn how or take it to an automotive professional who will do it for us.  The same thing applies to personal technology devices.

No matter how “idiot proof” hardware and software manufacturers make our personal computing environment we still need to have some basic knowledge of how things work and what basic maintenance tasks we should pay attention to and verify they are happening correctly.  In the next couple of articles I will explain some of these maintenance tasks, why they are important and what you need to know for an end user stand point.

 

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Tooting my horn for a moment

For the most part I do not like to toot my own horn.  I do not want to come across as proud or arrogant.  On the other hand I am happy about this event, so I am going to share it with you.

During my annual review at work, I was surprised when my supervisor rewarded me for a job well done.  I was given a promotion and a nice raise in pay.  I was pleasantly surprised.  For the last 5.5 years I have been categorized as a Technician, on an associate level. Now I am officially an I.T. Manager, with a professional band rating.  That means I no longer punch a time clock and I am now on salary.  Of course, that means that they can work me 60 to 80 hours per week with no over time pay.  I do not see that happening though.

Having said all of that, my job and what I do to put food on the table, does not define who I am.  It only defines a part of who I am.  I am very thankful to have full time employment that provides my family with income to put food on the table and pay bills.  I am very fortunate to have health care benefits for my family as well.  I try to remember to thank God for this part of my life as often as possible.  I know that there are other folks out there that struggle to survive because they are either under employed or unemployed.

One of the things that I am thankful for at work is the team spirit that we all strive to have while we are working.  We support one another and we help one another where help is needed.  There is something to be said for that in the I.T. industry where most folks are afraid to share their knowledge or information for fear of no longer being needed.

I like my job because I like providing technology support and solutions for my fellow associates.  I love being able to solve problems so that others can provide work class customer support to our customers.

D0 you love your job reader?  What do you love about it the most?  What challenges you ?

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Guest post from the Servants of Grace Website

As I was scrolling Google Plus I saw the following article entitled  The Blessing of Technology and the Dwarfing of Biblical Spirituality.  For the most part I agree with what this article has to say.  It reminds us of how easy it is to substitute one idol for another and not even be aware of it.

 

 

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Apple MacBook Pro

Thanks to a friend of mine who owns a local computer shop I was able to try out a MacBook Air. After using the MacBook Air for about two weeks I decided to upgrade to a MacBook Pro.

I will list the things I like about MacBook Air first.

  • very light weight and easy to carry
  • SSD drive gives you instant on and off
  • very small platform so easy to sit anywhere
  • very mobile device

Now for the list of things I do not like about it

  • you can NOT upgrade the ram or hard drive
  • no super drive
  • no ethernet port
  • only two USB ports
  • small 11 inch screen
  • no media card reader

Now, with that said, I do have the new iPad. That means that I already have something that fits the bill for media consumption. If I did not have the iPad then I would be ok with the MacBook Air.

I use computers all day long for both business and personal use. I decided that the MacBook Air limits me too much. It seemed as if every time I turned around I was wanting to do something I could not do.

I upgraded to the MacBook Pro and here is what I love about it

  • 13 inch monitor with great video
  • 500 gb hard disk
  • dual boot Mac OSX (Lion) 7 Windows 7 Pro
  • 4 GB of RAM (upgradeable)
  • backlit keyboard
  • webcam
  • card reader
  • twice as fast as the MacBook Air

I have supported both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh for years. I always tell people that they need to use the tool that will get the job done. It does not always have to be either Microsoft or Apple all the time. I own both Intel Personal Computers and Apple products. One of the things that I love about Apple products are the following two things.

  • they just work
  • the apple care customer support is out of this world

I am configuring my MacBook Pro with the software I will need in order to enjoy social media as well as be productive. I have Adobe CS5 installed as well as Microsoft Office for Mac. i am writing this blog post with a Mac blogging program called Ecto. The product gives you a 21 day trial and only costs 19.95 compared to the other products that are 40.00. That is not to say that the other products are not any good, this application is more budget conscious for me.

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How much connectivity is too much?

Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Gtalk, and lots of blogs to read and respond to.  Social interaction and connectivity seems to be the buzzword these days.  I connect to the “social media” hive through multiple conduits.  I connect through my work computer,  laptop, Blackberry Storm and now my iPad 2. 

It is almost as if I must stay connected for fear of missing out on what my friends are doing, or missing something that is happening in the world around me.  I can turn it all off when I need to. When I am at work and I am busy I forget about social media and get the tasks at hand completed.  It is almost a welcome relief to turn off the noise. 

I read online, where someone proclaimed 2011 as the year of social media.  I also read where “experts”, have determined that Facebook is harmful to the well being of my children, and that I should not allow them to use that service.  I must be a bad parent because both of my children have been on Facebook for years.  In our household broadband Internet connectivity is a necessity and not just a want.  Katy and I both attend online classes for two different universities and as an I.T. professional I need to have access to VPN and the work network so I can do support work and pay the bills.  I could lose cable television tomorrow and I would not shed  a tear.  Losing the Internet connection would cause problems. 

I feel like Katy and I are fairly tech savvy, and we are aware of the dangers of being connected to the Net.  I told Katy the other day that I wish that Justin and Kristina were not so addicted to Facebook, but then I look in the mirror and realize, that they must get it from me.  Maybe it is a genetic code thing?  One of the positives of my children being online so much is that they are sitting at home where I know they are safe.  What would they be doing without Internet connectivity?

Maybe they would be out in the world hanging with their friends, and having even more opportunity to get into other kinds of trouble.  I believe that our teenagers socialize just as much online as their adult parents.  I am not sure where the shift happened.  At some point society withdrew within itself and now it is safer to talk to strangers around the globe instead of talking to the neighbor next door.

In the midst of the constant social media noise I find myself looking for a balance that will help me to be socially active online, but enable me to turn the noise off, and find an inner peace and tranquility. When I get home from work I force myself to leave the iPad and laptop off so I can sit down and watch the idiot box and eat supper.  Again, I am always having to be entertained with some sort of visual stimulation.  Maybe I am on to something here. 

How much visual stimulation is too much?  The other day when I was in Dallas Texas, I ran out of minutes on ATT broadband service for the iPad.  I found myself with a cup of coffee in hand and walked outside to get some air.  When I walked to the front yard there was a cool breeze blowing through the trees.  I sat down in a lawn chair and the coffee cup in my hand.  It was nice to disconnect and just sit there enjoying the sounds of nature and the cool breeze.

Do you struggle with being connected to social media and e-mail?  How do you disconnect from it all, and find peace and tranquility?  Do you think we need to start a support group for those of us that are too connected?  How would you advertise that support group?  How much is too much?  

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