Hello, Trello

When I came across the Japanese concept of kanban boards I was somewhat sceptical about their effectiveness. Project management shouldn’t be this simple! However, I was persuaded to try them out and I chose Trello, a service provided by Atlassian.

Although Trello is used by companies the world over, it has a free option.

First though, what is a kanban board?

A typical kanban board consists of three columns, labelled To Do, Doing, and Done. For example:

kanban boardYou’re not limited to three columns, and you can name them whatever you want. Trello also supports multiple boards.

Each column can have multiple cards. Cards can be added, amended, archived and deleted. They can be switched between columns. Multiple notes can be added to the cards, too, making for a comprehensive information system.

Trello is cloud-based, so it is accessible on any internet-connected device.

I’ve been using it for a few months now and it’s become one of my must-have pieces of software.

 

Straight Delete in Outlook

I learned something today that I want to pass on. In Outlook, when you delete an email it is designed to go into the Trash folder. This is useful if you might want to retrieve that email later. To delete it from there permanently though you have to select Empty Folder.

But supposing you want to delete it immediately because there’s no way you ever want to see it again (e.g. spam), which is the case for many emails I receive. It’s surprisingly easy. Hold the shift key down when you hit the Delete key. Now it’s gone for good.

This way you avoid the tedious two-step process to completely remove an email from your system.

Stop MSN News Page Popping up in Chrome.

If you get the MSN News page popping up in Chrome, you may think your default Home page has been compromised. In all likelihood, it hasn't. Nor will you find a Chrome setting for it, because it's set outside Chrome.

The culprit is a registry setting. To fix it, follow these steps:

  1. From the Start menu, enter regedit
  2. Rightclick the regedit.exe and choose Run as administrator.
  3. When regedit opens, choose HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and expand it until you arrive at SYSTEM/CurrentControlSet/Services.
  4. Expand Services and scroll down to NlaSvc. Expand it, select Parameters, then Internet, and expand it.
  5. In the right panel, if EnableActiveProbing has a value of 0x00000001, double click it and set the value to 0.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Close regedit. Your mission has been accomplished.

Careful: the 1903 Update has a Bug [Updated]

There’s much to be said for keeping up to date with new releases, and Microsoft’s 1903 major update should be implemented as soon as possible. However, the update is not necessarily straightforward, as I discovered.

Towards the end of a lengthy process I received an error message to say that the installation had failed. Looking further into it, I discovered it was because I had a USB drive connected. I disconnected it and started the install again (which includes the download). It did pick up where I left off, however, and then it started the drawn-out process of implementing the changes.

Microsoft is aware of the problem. Nevertheless, it would have helped if it had warned me ahead of time.

UPDATE

15 July 2019: The latest release has now fixed this problem.

How to Wrap Cables

Wrapping cables is a regular activity for some of us, especially when travelling. If they're not coiled up properly, cables may develop kinks, which can lead to erratic performance, or, worse, break. Roadies face this task with audio cables each time they take down after a session, and they have a technique that may be applied to all items that coil, such as hosepipes, though I'd probably not try it out on snakes.

The method is best explained in a video:

Locating the Gmail Spam Folder

When I couldn’t see certain mail sent to my Gmail account, I thought the sender had made a mistake with my Gmail address. When they assured me it had been correctly addressed, it dawned on me that it must have been treated as spam, but where was the Spam folder?

It appears the Spam folder is not shown by default and has to be enabled if you want to see it. Here’s how:

Hover the mouse over a folder name in the left column. This reveals all the possible folder options.

In this example, the highlighted folders are the ones I see by default and by choice. If Spam is not highlighted, click the name to see the folder contents.

If you decide that a mail item isn’t spam, click the check box next to the item. Then select the Not spam button. The item will move automatically to your Inbox.

If you want to have the Spam folder available permanently, you need to select the gear icon in the upper right corner. Click on Settings from the dropdown list, and then the Labels tab.

Choose show or show if unread.

 

 

 

Enabling Multi-processors

If you have a dual or quad microprocessor installed, there's a good chance you're running only one of them, as that seems to be the default, in which case you're losing out on performance.

Multi-core processors range through 2, 4, and 8 cores. Each core handles two processing threads. Not all programs take advantage of multi-cores, but most games and other processing intensive programs do.

You can check whether your PC is set up correctly by typing msconfig into the Start menu's Run box. Select the Boot tab.

msconfig general tab

In the Boot tab, select the Advanced Options button.

msconfig boot tab

At the top left is the Number of processors checkbox. Select this and the dropdown.

In my case, I have a 4-core processor, so I set it to the maximum. If your PC has a dual core processor then it will show only 1 and 2 in the dropdown list.

msconfig boot advanced tab

Then continually click OK until you've exited msconfig.

 

Totalling Cells in Word Tables

There was a time when, to sum a column or row of numbers in a table, you probably did it manually or used a VBA macro. These days, Word has a nifty little function called Formula in the Layout tab.

To use the function, you need to position your cursor in the cell in which the total is to be placed and select Formula.

Sample table showing cursor placement

Here is the function with a description:

Formula function in Layout tab

For our purposes we need SUM(LEFT):

Formula text entry

Select the number format and hit OK. The total is now showing in the last column.

Total shown in final column

To get totals for the cells below, you will need to repeat the process. However, the formula offered will assume SUM(ABOVE), because it thinks you’re totalling a column, so you need to change it to SUM(LEFT).

When you’re finished, you can if needed sum all the columns, like this:

Row and columns totalled

If any of the values are changed, the totals adjust automatically.

 

 

God Mode in Windows

God Mode is a special folder that gives you access to an array of system tools, including Administrative Tools (Disk Management, Event Viewer, Services, Task Scheduler, etc) and a host of functions that you would otherwise need the Control Panel to access. The beauty of the God Mode folder is that they are all listed together rather than in separate tabs.

To create the God Mode folder:

  1. Make sure you’re logged is an admin user.
  2. Right-click on the desktop, select “New” and click “Folder”.
  3. Now the important step. Rename the folder as “God Mode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}” (without the quotes).
    You can replace “God Mode” with another name, but everything that follows must remain (e.g. “Admin stuff.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”)
  4. If you now double-click the folder, you will see a list of tools covering more than 200 functions.
  5. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Format Thyself

I have a laptop with Windows 10 on the single drive. Because I was lending it to a friend, I needed to clear the drive so they could install their software. I backed up an image of the drive, and was ready to reformat it. Clearly, I couldn’t do that from within Windows.

The first step was to make sure I had a Windows repair disk. I did, on a USB complete with system files.

The next step was to change the boot sequence so that it tried the USB device before the hard disk.

Then it was just a matter of restarting the system.

Once the USB had loaded the repair/recovery screen, I chose Troubleshooting from the menu:

Windows 10 Repair/Recovery screen

From the Troubleshoot menu I selected Advanced Options, followed by Command Prompt.

I entered the format command: format C: /fs:NTFS

(NOTE: If the C: drive has a volume name, e.g. OS, it will prompt for this.)

The reformat didn’t take long, as it resets the indexes rather than wiping the drive. In other words, using the right tool, the data is recoverable, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen.