I added a new custom view to my Outlook Tasks but it automatically put it at the end of the Current View list in the Outlook Tasks Home Ribbon:

Screenshot showing the expanded Current View list in the Outlook Tasks Home Ribbon with newest View at the end of the list.

Obviously I want it in the top row so I don’t have to go digging. You can’t drag and drop them in either the “Manage Views…” dialog box or in the UI. I found this on a quick search: https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook_com/forum/all/outlook-contacts-can-you-arrange-the-views-in-the/8e6d9609-a57f-47e2-af3c-74fa54bb8faf

TL;DR – you can’t manually rearrange them…

But that doesn’t make sense because I clearly have in the past. “Maybe it only shows four ‘custom’ views or it’s (somehow) alphabetical,” I wondered. To test this, I went to “Manage Views…” I copied a View and renamed it and… it automatically sorted all of my custom Views in alphabetical order to the top of the list!

It seems that any rename will trigger this re-sort.

I’ve never done much work with groups in PivotTables but I have used PivotTables a lot. One thing I like do is make a simple PivotTable and chart and copy this sheet multiple times, editing as appropriate. I then link charts in Word to the data in Excel. This makes it easy to go back and make modifications

I’ve been working on a sheet this morning and, to my horror, have discovered that my previous efforts are being altered as I update subsequent efforts. It’s a bit like that scene in Labyrinth where Sarah discovers her lipstick marks have been changed. Of course, when you are working on lots of charts your memory plays tricks on you so I had to actually CHECK that this was really happening.

It really was.

A quick Google reveals that:

To help improve performance and reduce the size of your workbook, Excel automatically shares the PivotTable data cache between two or more PivotTable reports that are based on the same cell range or data connection

Usually this isn’t a problem unless you use, for example, grouping. In that case it does the grouping in the shared cache, thereby updating all your previous tables and charts. “Your mother is a fragging aardvark,” indeed!

This article explains how to unshare the cache but I don’t want a separate cache for each chart so I’ll settle for unlinking and embedding the charts in Word instead.

I’ve been creating Office Themes and colour palettes for our team so we can have a more consistent visual brand on throw away documents.  Why? Because throw away documents have a habit of either a) becoming a standard document or b) finding their way into broader circulation.

I’ve had a lot of success with this when it comes to Word and Excel but just now I wanted to get the colour palette in Outlook sorted.

I managed to go all round the houses on it but it’s actually extremely simple.

  1. Exit Outlook completely
  2. Go to %appdata%\Microsoft\Templates
  3. Right-click on “NormalEmail” and choose “Open” NOT “New”
  4. Edit the Theme and Theme Colours (even applying already established Themes/Colours)
  5. Hit save and close

Simple.

Found a new annoyance in Excel. I am analysing some data in Excel that’s been extracted from CiviCRM. Most of the data was submitted via webform. I easily managed to pull the URL out of the data to view the original webform submission. However, clicking the link in Excel I get an error:

Microsoft Excel Error
Unable to open URL. Cannot download the information you requested.

A quick Google brings me to this site. Of course, you need to be an authenticated user to view the web form but Excel is unable to authenticate so it just fails. Well, in reality it just sees a 404 and tells you the link is broken. Once Excel makes this decision it won’t pass the URL to the browser to open. Great.

So, another quick Google about stopping Excel validating links brings me to Stack Exchange. Of course, I can’t comment on SE due to their chicken/egg “reputation” rules so the only option I have for drawing these two threads together is this blog post.  Hope it helps!

I tried really hard to like Evernote. I really did. In that time when it ruled as one of the trendy start-up darlings I really wanted to make it work for me. I loved the design and aesthetic but using it just left me a bit cold. The Android app was OK, and that was probably where I got the best out of it, but as I tried to use it via the web app it just seemed less and less intuitive. Worst of all, though, it was pretty much file and forget. Stuff was going in but because of my lack of buy in it wasn’t coming back out

When I started a new job back in September 2015 I had an opportunity to start fresh with some new ways of working and I was determined that one of them would be digital note taking. I was all set to give Evernote another go but decided I better check out the competition as I’d not really looked into for a while. Like most good geeks/nerds I went straight to Lifehacker.

It’s here that you should know a bit about me in terms of the tech I like. Short version: aside from a dabble with an iPod Touch 4th generation, I am an avowed Apple critic and Android proponent. I started using Linux in 2003 and am a big fan of the open-source “why pay for something you can get for free” mentality. Apple to me was the antithesis of this. Microsoft, on the other hand, was a professional inconvenience. I’ve never worked in an environment where I can choose which software I use and so I’ve made the best of what I had. This might be a reason why I couldn’t get on with Evernote, does it have an Apple-centric philosophy?

So, what did Lifehacker tell me? Well, I was surprised. Not only did the readers and writers of Lifehacker think OneNote was OK they actually thought it was pretty great. Since I’ve never been one to invest in a platform that didn’t have decent backing this was important to me. As I’m writing this I’m looking back at Lifehacker and reading some direct comparisons of EN and ON and much of it agrees with my experience.

Tagging

I never got on with tagging in Evernote, in fact, I don’t get tagging at all. Tagging is something that works well when you want to collate items by tag, like tasks in Remember the Milk. What it doesn’t do well is help you find items with particular tags. Also, most tagging systems don’t do much to help you avoid duplicating tags with slightly different names. Tagging made sense when searching was slow and inefficient but now, for example, OneNote will let you search text in images without any user intervention. Tags are old hat.

Clipping

When I got interested in Evernote I was mainly through the web clipping craze. This is YEARS back now but there was a real goldrush around web clipping until Evernote cornered the market. Most of the other web clipping tools are closed now but may favourite used to be Amplify. I had two amp logs, which I used as pseudo-blogs. Twitter eventually made a lot of what amplify did rather pointless when it introduce twitter cards, effectively providing a clip of the site you were sharing automatically. Anyway, web clipping, it was a big thing and, apparently, it still is. I don’t do it anymore; it doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe the idea of saving whole articles offline was great when online storage didn’t cost $0.02 per GB but now the only thing that makes content disappear from the web is bankruptcy.

Price

In the early 20-teens, Evernote had a bit of a shake-up. Obviously it needed to monetize, and I can’t begrudge them that, but for me the costs associated with Evernote (before another rethink) became laughable. At around about the same time OneNote became free…

I also blame Evernote for encouraging other providers to offer ridiculously over-priced premium versions (looking at you Pocket and Feedly) that offer limited additional functionality. Just charge everyone a $1 a month for anything other than the most basic product.

Microsoft Office Integration

Work was my main motivation for digital note taking and this is where investing in OneNote has paid dividends for me.  We just upgraded to Office365 and with that came Office 2016 on the desktop; a shared OneDrive and SharePoint sites. All of this just makes having a team notebook in OneNote a doddle. You can link meetings to notes in OneNote with a click and the whole team can read and contribute. Also, it’s helping me get out of my inbox. I used to keep emails indefinitely just in case I needed to refer back to them. Now I can push them to OneNote, cut out all the crap and keep the key details, and file it in a relevant notebook or section. Chances are I’ll actually stumble upon it when I need it now rather than forgetting it was ever there. You can also embed documents into notes, which again everyone can open. While this is a terrible idea for work products it’s great for the things you want to keep or share “for information.” I mean, where do you file that stuff in a shared drive anyway?

Evernote does none of this that I know of.

Personal Life

With OneNote firmly established in my work life it’s been even easier to adapt to it at home. OneDrive integration means I can access various notebooks kept in various places from any location. I’m drafting this blog post in OneNote. It just makes sense. For me it excels in capturing researching from the web. If you copy and paste from a page it captures the URL automatically. Inserting links and images is a piece of cake. I just found out today you can make sub-pages too, which makes organize your notes so much more intuitive than I ever found Evernote.

Everything Else

I haven’t even touched on some of the more powerful aspects of OneNote because, frankly, I’ve never even used them. There’s a thing called templates. No idea what that does but I can imagine that capturing things like recipes would go very well in a template!

To Sum Up

If you don’t use Macs almost exclusively, you’ll probably have a Microsoft account already and access to the OneNote app. It’s all you need to get started. Microsoft even have a tool to help you migrate from Evernote now.

Since IFTTT improved its OneNote integration I’ve abandoned Evernote completely. And it looks like other’s will follow soon.