Jul 23, 2014

misc: cool things about onenote

onenote has been my constant companion for many years now. between onenote and outlook, i can’t think of very many things that can’t be effectively managed, tasked, or tracked -- at least from a day-to-day perspective. i found some pretty cool things about onenote recently that i thought i’d share: subpages and onetastic.

 

SUBPAGES

Snagit screen capturefor those of that don’t know, i’m an avid pool player. naturally, since i use onenote, i’m a pool player that likes to keep a lot of notes about billiards as you can see in the screenshot.

the first thing i want to point out is onenote allows the use of subpages. i went for far too long without knowing that. if you look at #1, you can see how onenote looks when you collapse subpages. #2 is the expanded view.

once you collect your pages as subpages, it makes managing them easier since you can work with them in bulk (move, copy, delete, cut, etc.)

to create a subpage, right-click the page tab and choose make subpage. the shortcut trick to make or promote a subpage is to drag the page tab left or right with your mouse as shown below.

Snagit screen capture
http://screencast.com/t/l5mpZ4vy

 

ONETASTIC

i stumbled on this gem while i was looking for a tool to apply styles like you can in pretty much every other office product. enter onetastic. onetastic for microsoft onenote is an amazing collection of tools Snagit screen capturethat integrate directly with onenote. since most of the tools are macros, it’s as extensible as you want to make it. so far, i’ve found that their collection of macros is more than enough for me.

if you’re a heavy onenote user, it’s definitely worth checking. i found all kinds of other cool macros like sorting pages, creating a table of content, search & highlight, etc.

 

 

BONUS

onenote 2013 keyboard shortcuts

Jun 4, 2014

excel: my first use of power query (and i love it)

let’s face it. if you’re a techie and you don’t use excel, you are not peeking out your geeking out. :o) i use excel for a number of different things. it’s a really powerful program which can handle doing much more than figuring out how much i’ve spent on lunch over the last three months.

at teched, i got my first taste of power query during some of the hands-on-labs (available online for free now.) something came up recently that gave me a chance to explore it a bit more to see its value. let’s explore a scenario where your organization is absorbed or is absorbing another organization. after a domain migration, human resources decides they want to start over with new employee IDs.

 

SCENARIO

HR provides you with a file claiming it has all the information you need. (and clearly, you’ve no reason to doubt their claim.) upon examining you file, you notice that the only thing in the file is a column with the old employee ID and a column with the new employee ID.

drawing from your history, you know that employeeID is not an indexed attribute in active directory and would take quite a length of time to query each user by their old employeeID and write their new one. you’re also short on time to get any changes to the AD schema pushed through.

knowing you’ll need it, you create your own export of user ID and employee ID from active directory. game on.

 

THE VLOOKUP WAY

the way i would have approached this in the past (and did to be honest until my colleague encouraged me to use power query) is to create two sheets in excel. one sheet would contain the information from HR, and the other would contain the information from AD. from the HR sheet, you could run a vlookup formula in a new column, pulling the user IDs that match from AD.

 

THE POWER QUERY WAY

i’m about to demonstrate is magic, my friends. magic known as PFM… the purest kind available. i’m going to take one file that looks with just the old id and the new id and merge it with another that contains the old id and the user id ending up with a new dataset that contains the old id, the new id, and the user id. there’s also a little wrinkle here. the new id value they want starts with a leading zero. excel loves converting them which basically switches it to a number, removing the leading zero. no problem.

here’s a sample of how the files look:

SNAGHTML24c0fb47

  1. open excel (DUH) and start with a blank worksheet.
  2. if you haven’t downloaded power query, you will need to do that first.
  3. switch to the power query tab.
  4. select from file > from csv.
  5. open the first .csv file.

everything looks good except that leading 0 problem. hell, even the first row header was automatically applied. the leading 0 is a non-issue since it can be changed as an applied step!

  1. change the query name to emplIDs.
  2. click the new id column.
  3. right-click the new id column and choose change type > text.
  4. make sure the old id column stays as number. if not, change the type to number.
  5. under load settings, choose load to data model only.
  6. click apply & close.

image

you can’t see it in the worksheet, but have faith in magic that it’s all there (or use the peek by hovering your mouse over the query.)

image

let’s work on getting the merged results from both files into a worksheet now that we have a dataset with which we can combine.

  1. on the power query tab, choose from file > from csv.
  2. open the second file.
  3. name the query userIDs.
  4. choose merge queries from the ribbon bar.
  5. drop down the query selection and choose emplIDs.
  6. select the old id column in both tables and click OK.

a new column now shows up in the query with a peculiar little symbol image and values that state Table. we need to indicate what we want to pull back from the emplIDs data model.

  1. click the symbol of confusion.
  2. select the column new id and click OK.
  3. rename the new column to new id.
  4. click apply & close.
image

the result should be a beautifully merged set of data!

image

May 30, 2014

misc: power savings problem with snagit 12

I have been a fan of snagit for very long time now. when I saw snagit 12 was released, I had to get my hands on it! as a mvp, one of the many benefits you get is nfr (not for resale) licenses for a lot of different software by a lot of vendors.

I won’t pretend there was some immediate correlation I drew to the problem I started having after installing snagit. it wasn’t something immediate or evident. my monitors will go into low power mode after 10 minutes of inactivity. I noticed after coming back to my desk several times that it wasn’t happening anymore.

I checked all my power settings to make sure nothing changed. everything looked fine. I recalled at some point that powercfg was a utility I had seen and played with some while back that could be useful in narrowing down where the issue might be.

 

LOOKING FOR THE CULPRIT

the first thing I did (other than figuring out how to use the tool) was run an energy report.

powercfg /energy /output "energy.html"

 

without the /duration switch, the default collection period is 60 seconds. this seemed more than plenty to catch what I needed to see. looking through my report (energy.html) I found these lines:

System Availability Requests:System Required Request
The program has made a request to prevent the system from automatically entering sleep.
Requesting Process \Device\HarddiskVolume3\Program Files (x86)\TechSmith\Snagit 12\Snagit32.exe
 
System Availability Requests:Display Required Request
The program has made a request to prevent the display from automatically entering a low-power mode.
Requesting Process \Device\HarddiskVolume3\Program Files (x86)\TechSmith\Snagit 12\Snagit32.exe

 

I was able to verify what was displayed here by looking at the current requests:

powercfg /requests

 

as you can see, the snagit32.exe process is clearly registered as a process in two places.

DISPLAY:
[PROCESS] \Device\HarddiskVolume3\Program Files (x86)\TechSmith\Snagit 12\Snagit32.exe
 
SYSTEM:
[PROCESS] \Device\HarddiskVolume3\Program Files (x86)\TechSmith\Snagit 12\Snagit32.exe
...

 

I ran a very quick test to make sure I could reproduce the effect (as I had intended to open a bug.) sure enough, when I closed the snagit program and ran powercfg /requests, it no longer appeared. when I turn on snagit, it still doesn’t register anything. it happens only after you initiate a screen capture.

it would appear proper that it should request not to go into a low power mode while the capture is occurring. I think where it’s failing is removing the request after it completes the capture. bug filed.

 

USING OVERRIDES

powercfg has another useful switch: requestsoverride. it’s not one of the more friendlier switches since it doesn’t provide any positive feedback if you do something right. (it ain’t your mama.) I like to have snagit running all the time. you never know when I need to capture a picture of a cat and create a quick meme. it happens.

image

since, in my scenario, the snagit32.exe process is registered in two places (display and system,) I ran the requestsoverride switch like this:

powercfg /requestsoverride process snagit32.exe display system

 

and when I hit enter, nothing. validation was only found running the switch with no parameters:

[SERVICE]
 
[PROCESS]
snagit32.exe DISPLAY SYSTEM
 
[DRIVER]

now my monitors switch into low power mode just fine with snagit running. hurray for cats!

 

CLEARING OVERRIDES

I’m sure there must be a hidden switch to do this in powercfg, but I wasn’t able to find it. I took a guess that the overrides were written to the registry somewhere and thus fired up procmon. tracing powercfg.exe to find it was cake.

image

 

jumping over to this section in the registry confirmed that this is where the overrides are:

image

so… if you need to clear them, just delete the values of interest.

 

FOLLOW UP WITH TECHSMITH

techsmith is a great company to work with. I used their support forum to file a bug indicating that I could easily repro it. the same day, techsmith responded with their acknowledgment. :]

Hi Marcus,

This is a bug we have logged and are hoping to get this fixed for an upcoming release we're working on. Im really sorry for the trouble.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.

Kind Regards,
Mike
Senior Support Specialist

May 20, 2014

atlanta techstravaganza 06.06.2014

did you save the date? well, it’s not too late!

what is atlanta techstravaganza you ask? it’s a yearly group meeting where atlanta systems management user group, the atlanta powershell user group, and the atlanta windows infrastructure and virtualization user group come together for a gigantic event.

we have three tracks running concurrently providing information from topics on system center, powershell, and windows server. along with that, we have a BYOD hands-on lab. along with great content, networking opportunities, and free food, we always end the event with some great giveaways.

we’ve moved locations this year from the microsoft alpharetta campus to the georgia tech research institute. while we love and appreciate what microsoft does for us, their campus size was unfortunately limited to 100 people. at GTRI, we have doubled the capacity!

having twice the space doesn’t mean you should wait. seats will go fast, and as in previous years, we are likely to completely sell out. come get educated with a fully belly and meet some of your atlanta peers! look forward to seeing you at the event.

registration link is available here: http://www.atltechstravaganza.com/