Thoughts from the clay guru.

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Creating Outlook Meetings that end early.

Here are the instructions to create a macro that will allow you create Outlook 2010 meetings that are scheduled to end 15 minutes shorter than the selected time.

First, we need to enable the Outlook Developer toolbar:

  • In Outlook, select the File | Options menu
  • Select “Customize Ribbon”
  • Then on the right, check the Developer option under Main Tabs
  • Click on the “OK” button to close the Outlook Options window.
You should now see a Developer tab item appear at the top of Outlook.
  • Select the Developer tab
  • Select Macros | Macros menu item in the ribbon bar.
  • In the resulting dialog, enter “CreateCustomApp” in the Macro Name: field
  • Click on the Create button
  • Copy and paste the following code into the Microsoft Visual Basic for Application (MS VBA) window that appears, overwriting the existing empty Sub CreateCustomAppt() code that is there
    Sub CreateCustomAppt()
     Const minShort = 15
     Dim objOL 'As Outlook.Application
     Dim objAppt 'As Outlook.AppointmentItem
     Dim oView As Outlook.View
     Dim oExpl As Outlook.Explorer
     Dim oFolder As Outlook.Folder
     Dim oCalView As Outlook.CalendarView
     Const olAppointmentItem = 1
     Const olMeeting = 1
     Set objOL = CreateObject("Outlook.Application")
     Set objAppt = objOL.CreateItem(olAppointmentItem)
     Set oExpl = Application.ActiveExplorer
     Set oFolder = Application.ActiveExplorer.CurrentFolder
     Set oView = oExpl.CurrentView
     ' Check whether the active explorer is displaying a calendar view.
     If oView.ViewType = olCalendarView Then
     Set oCalView = oExpl.CurrentView
     With objAppt
     .Subject = "<Placeholder>"
     .Start = oCalView.SelectedStartTime
     '.Duration = 55
     .End = DateAdd("n", -minShort, oCalView.SelectedEndTime)
     .ReminderMinutesBeforeStart = 15
     .ReminderSet = True
     End With
     End If
     Set objAppt = Nothing
     Set objOL = Nothing
    End Sub
  • Save and close down the MS VBA window.
Now we are going to create a custom ribbon bar icon for this macro.
  • Select File | Options menu from Outlook again
  • Select the Customize Ribbon
  • From the “choose commands from:” dropdown on the left side of the window, select “Macros” (you should see your CreateCustomApp macro there)
  • On the right, the Customize the Ribbon should have “Main Tabs” already selected
  • Highlight the “Home (Calendar)” item below the Main Tabs title
  • Click on New Group ( a “New Group (Custom)” is created)
  • Click on Rename… button.
  •  Let’s rename it to Custom and select any symbol you want.
  • Click on the “OK” button to save your changes.

You should see the name change, and your Custom tab highlighted on the right list of tabs.  We are now going to add the Macro we just created to our Custom Tab group.

  • Click on the CreateCustomAppt macro listed on the left of the Outlook Options window to select it.
  • Click on the “Add>>” button in the middle.  This will add the a button for the macro in the selected (in this case our “Custom”) tab
  • Click on the “Rename…” button.
  • Name the button “Custom Appointment” and select an icon you like.
  • Click on the “OK” button  to save  and close the Rename window.
  • Click on the “OK” button to close the Outlook Options window
  • Select the “Home” tab at the top of the Outlook application, and you should see your Custom Appointment icon in the ribbon bar.

Now to use the macro, find a date & time where you want to create your appointment.  Select the range, let’s say “tomorrow from 4pm – 5pm”.  Now click the Custom Appointment button in the ribbon bar, and an appointment dialog will appear with a meeting created that is 15 minutes shorter than the selected time.

That’s it.  If you want sometime other than 15 minutes less, then you can change the following line in the macro:

Const minShort = 15

to the number of minutes you want to “shorten” the meeting by.


WP7 Feature Request – Backup and Restore Apps

This is a separate callout of a WP7 feature request from my previous post.

A lot of WP7 users are gadget geeks…we buy new phones at least every 1-2 years, and we buy lots of apps.  Come on Microsoft, make it really easy for us to backup and restore our applications on our mobile phones.  I spent about an hour with my new phone reinstalling all the applications I had on my old phone.

Anyone that knows an easier way than using Reinstaller, either through the Zune desktop app or other option, let me know.

I really want to love the Nokia Lumia 900

Quick Note:  The comments below are based on my usage before the Nokia update was release and subsequently installed.

I owned the Samsung Focus, and pre-ordered a black (I know…plain Jane) Nokia Lumia 900 within the first few hours when it was available on the AT&T site.  I got it on Good Friday like all the other Lumia preorders…and I immediatly started using it.  Here are my initial negative impressions of the Nokia phone and the Microsoft eco system.

  1. Wow, what a pain to reinstall all my previously installed apps.  I downloaded and installed the “Reinstaller” app on the new phone…but I still had to install each app individually and then “back” through a number of screens to get to the next one on the list and install.  It was way harder than it should be…and very manual.  I did choose not to re-install some apps, but the overall process needs to be improve.  Now anyone that knows of a better way by using the Zune app, please let me know…because I don’t know of a backup and restore process like iTunes.
  2. I still wish the power button was on the top.  I do like the buttons on one side better than the Focus’ layout of the power opposite the volume controls.  I hit the power button a lot less….but I still hit it.
  3. Screen in sunlight might be slightly better than my Focus, but still not great.
  4. No headphones?   Oh well, I guess I will use my Focus provided ones.
  5. Battery life.  I was so hoping I could make it through a day of what I consider moderate use, but by 8pm, it seems I need to plug it in if I am going to be out and about.  To be fair, I do listen to podcasts (either audio or video) during my commute which is 20 minutes each way, so that 40 minute of playback (turned up to 30 to get it at “line level” for my Aux input) may be to taxing.  I too have run the Diagnostics app and the Battery Status shows my Current (discharging) hovers jumps around 100mA with periodic spurts up to 400 mA (maybe it is checking mail – set at every 30 minutes)….with no background tasks (shut em all down through Settings), and closed down any open apps by “repeatedly pressing the back button”.
  6. Not sure what is going on with background tasks, or maybe it is just the Weather Channel app, but at least once during the last week, I pulled my phone out of my case and it was REALLY hot, and the battery had went down about 25% in a 1/2 hour period.  The phone was off, but something was taxing the processor and draining the battery.  It only happened once, but I don’t want it happening when/if I really need my phone.
  7. I miss my 16 GB SD card I had in my Focus.  I am running low on memory (I have a few audio and video podcasts loaded).
  8. Camera is not near as nice as I was expecting.  To be honest, I shoot with a Nikon D7000, and no phone even comes close.  But, I find the pictures I take with the Lumia to be slightly yellowish.  Just try this yourself,  point your camera at something with a lot of white in it, looks good on the screen, then snap the picture, and the picture turns slightly yellow.  If I spend the time to adjuste the image, it seems to be better, but why the yellow tint?
  9. I sort of miss the USB cover my Focus had.  Not a big deal….but keeping dust out is nice.

To be fair, there are a number of thinks I like about the Lumia 900, so here is that list:

  1. Love the bigger and brighter screen.
  2. I think the speaker on the bottom of the phone in an improvement over the back of the phone where I have to “cup my hands” to create a way for the sound to “bounce back” so I can hear it during a movie or audio file.
  3. Nokia Drive is awesome.  Now it is not as nice as my Garmin, but that maps on that are out of date, and the money I would have used to update the maps I spent on buying the Nokia Lumia 900…a win/win.
  4. Feels solid compared to the Focus.  I have not dropped it yet…nor do I plan on dropping it, but as long as the screen does not crack, I think it would hold up.
  5. LTE is great.  I live fairly far outside Chicago, but downloads @ 12Mbps+ and uploads at approx. 4 Mbps is sweet.
  6. Front facing camera is a nice addition.

Feel free to post your thoughts and comments to this post.

What’s wrong with the press saying the Nokia 900 has under powered hardware?

I will start of my rant by saying, “Yes, the Nokia 900 does not have the highest end quad/dual-core processors” so some will perceive this as a bad thing, so let’s compare this to another real world analogy…

Let’s say you have two car choices for your next purchase; The Autobahn Android 2012 and the Likus Lumia 2012 models.  Both cars perform quite well…they go over 100 MPH (which you will likely never hit) and accelerate quite well (although when loaded with a lot of passengers, the Autobahn can get a bit sluggish).

The Autobahn Android 2012 looks like the same Autobahn car they have built for the last 4 years, but an overall favorite of drivers.  Under the hood is a 350 HP engine (eg. powerful Dual-Core processor) with an estimated fuel economy of 18 city and 25 highway (more cores = slightly more power usage – not exact, but click here for comparison of single vs. dual core power usage).  When doing 70 MPH, if you step on the pedal, it has lots of “get up and go”.  You pay for that power through everyday gas mileage.

The new Likus Lumia 2012 looks nice, and operates like every other car out there, but doesn’t have wood paneling on the dash (eg. Draw Something or Words with Friends), but almost every other feature is available.  Under the hood is a 300 HP engine (eg. slightly less powerful, but still has acceptable pickup) with an estimated fuel economy of 22 city and 33 highway.

You love the look of the Likus , it gets great gas mileage, and has 99% of the features you want.  Which car do you buy?  Based on that information, and the fact that gas prices are over $4 per gallon in parts of the US…most folks I would guess would go with the Likus (just look at Honda Prius and hybrid sales).  So, why would you not pick a phone that performs every bit as well as the “more powerful” ones on the market, has a really great OS and UI, and by using a single-core processor, which does not affect everyday performance, but instead will increase battery life (eg. gas mileage)?

What it really should boil down to is usability, overall performance and battery life…why worry if the processor is Quad Core 2 GHz processor when better than half the time the phone is either off, or only using a fraction of the processing power.  And for most of the time the phone is on, you are doing nothing more than talking, texting or viewing facebook feeds.  We are not rendering 3D images or crunching numbers to solve cancer.

Go and try the new Nokia 900 (I don’t have mine yet…but FedEx has it in there truck right now).  If you don’t like the UI, the big 4.3″ sccreen, or find the phone sluggish…then by all means, buy a different phone that best meets your needs.  But don’t let some journalist tell you that you don’t want the new Honda Lumia 2012 car because the engine is only a 300HP engine and you can’t get wood trim on the dash….that’s just silly.  You are smarter than that.

Why I like my WP7 phone over my iPhone – part 2

After a few days, I came up with a few more features I like on my WP7…that iPhone users have to learn to live without.

  1. Damn IOS Auto Correct.  Now WP7 has “auto correct”, but it seems to perform much better than the iOS version of auto correct.  I remember turning it off on my iPhone when I had it, and I still have it turned off on my iPad.  (see  there are entire sites dedicated to the auto correct silliness of iOS)
  2. Late for meeting.  If I am running late for a scheduled meeting, there is a quick “Late” button when I view my meeting invite.  When I press this button, I am given the option to send an email to the person that scheduled the meeting, or everyone invited to the meeting that states; “I’ll be a bit late, but I’m on my way.  See you soon.”  So from the meeting, I am 3 clicks away to tell folks I am running late.
  3. Edit response to meeting invite.  When declining a meeting, on an iOS device I cannot give a reason.  I am so used to this in Outlook and now WP7 that I do not accept or decline meetings using my iPad (that and the number of issues iOS devices have had with meeting synchronization in the past).

Please feel free to add your favorite reasons in the comments.

Okay, I tried it…

(click on the picture to enlarge)

This morning, on my way into work I saw the truck pitured in the photo.  Yes, is a QR code on the tailgate.  Initially, I thought that was silly, but when I came to a stop, I snapped a picture and tried Bing to see if I could follow the link…but no go. Maybe if I had a little more time I may have been able to zoom in and get it.

What’s next? QR bumper stickers?

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