Monday, April 30, 2007

Handling reading material

Staying on top of things in our field means we must stay on top of professional reading. In addition, to professional journals, we all have the things we simply like to read for pleasure. How can we manage it all?

My last post talked about listening to books on tape as a substitute for some of print material. That still leaves me with a great deal of reading material.

I have a section of my briefcase devoted to reading material. As I am going through the mail at work or at home, magazines go straight into the briefcase. That one simple act keeps all of my awaiting reading material in one place. There is no doubt between what has been read and what has not. Anything in the briefcase is either unread or partially read.

When I have down time, I simply pull out something from the briefcase. That means if I am waiting to see the doctor or dentist or if I am waiting to get my hair cut, I pull out some of my reading material. On the way home, I am frequently stopped by a train—so, out comes reading material. I tend to get to appointments early, and while I am waiting, I have reading material.

In short, I match reading material with time that would otherwise be wasted. It keeps the reading material from building up and keeping me from getting bored.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Commute time

Like many of you, I have a bit of a commute to work. Mine is 23 minutes, small in comparison to many people, but gargantuan compared to the 3 minute drive to work from my early days in teaching. For the last year, I have turned what had been wasted time into an enjoyable and productive daily experience.

For the past year, I have never been without a book on tape or CD from the public library. The number of books I have experienced during that time numbers several dozen, and that is a conservative estimate. The latest has been The World is Flat. Listening to all 15 or 16 CDs kept me busy for quite a while, and proved to be fastinating listening. Of course, I have always been aware of the availability of audiobooks. Up until the last year, I had simply never made regular trips to the library for them a priority.

In today's world, lifelong learning is essential. Books are the shortcut to that learning. Their authors have carefully honed and summarized a body of knowledge into a coherent message. At the same type, the pace of today's world makes time for reading hard to find. Making commute time do double-duty has been a simple answer, and easy enough I will actually do it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Office update: the problem and the fix

I ran the Office Update earlier this week, a good thing. Afterwards, I realized I could not open my saved searches. Each time, I would get an error message. I also could not re-create them. They would not save.

A Google search put me onto this explanation and the solution.

The workaround presented in the article is as follows:

Warning Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly by using Registry Editor or by using another method. These problems might require that you reinstall the operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved. Modify the registry at your own risk.

To work around this problem, re-enable the Office Saved Searches feature. To do this, follow these steps:

Exit Outlook.

Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.

Locate and then click one of the following registry subkeys:




Note If the General subkey does not exist, follow these steps to create the subkey:

Click the Options subkey, point to New on the Edit menu, and then click Key.

Type General, and then press ENTER

On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.

Type EnableOfficeSavedSearch, and then press ENTER.

Right-click EnableOfficeSavedSearch, and then click Modify.

In the Value data box, type 1, and then click OK.
Note To disable this feature, type 0 in the Value data box. Or, delete the registry key that is mentioned in step 3.

On the File menu, click Exit.

I followed the directions, and my searches were working again!

I was wondering if this problem was just a bug or if Microsoft did this on purpose. I posed the question to an Outlook discussion group and was directed to this explanation. When you reach that site, Expand Vulnerability Details>Microsoft Outlook Advanced Find Vulnerability. I hope a future patch fixed the security problem while still allowing saved searches. Explaining to someone fairly new to Outlook how to set up a saved search is challenge enough. Having to explain how to change the registry is too much!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Creating Outlook Saved Searches

I have three “saved searches” which I have created in Outlook

Task has not been completed and information I am looking for is in the subject line

  • Create a new “Advanced Find.” (Ctrl+Shift+F).
  • Change the “Look for” drop-down box to read “Tasks.”
  • On the “In” drop-down box, choose “subject field only.”
  • Click the “Advanced” tab.
  • On the “Field” drop-down box, choose “Frequently-used fields” and then “Complete.”
  • The “Condition” drop-down box should read “equals” and “Value” should be “No.”
  • Click “Add to List.”
  • From the “File” menu, select “Save Search.”
  • Assign a name to the search.
  • Select a place to save it. Since I use these searches often, I save them to the desktop. Since I use this particular one the most of all, I drug mine to the taskbar at the bottom of the screen so that it is always visible.

    Task has not been completed and information I am looking for is in the note section
    Create a new “Advanced Find.” (Ctrl+Shift+F).
  • Change the “Look for” drop-down box to read “Tasks.”
  • On the “In” drop-down box, choose “subject and notes field.”
  • Click the “Advanced” tab.
  • On the “Field” drop-down box, choose “Frequently-used fields” and then “Complete.”
  • The “Condition” drop-down box should read “equals” and “Value” should be “No.”
  • Click “Add to List.”
  • From the “File” menu, select “Save Search.”
  • Assign a name to the search.
  • Save to the desktop.

    Task has been completed
  • Create a new “Advanced Find.” (Ctrl+Shift+F).
  • Change the “Look for” drop-down box to read “Tasks.”
  • On the “In” drop-down box, choose “subject and notes field.”
  • Click the “Advanced” tab.
  • On the “Field” drop-down box, choose “Frequently-used fields” and then “Complete.”
  • The “Condition” drop-down box should read “equals” and “Value” should be “Yes.”
  • Click “Add to List.”
  • From the “File” menu, select “Save Search.”
  • Assign a name to the search.
  • Save to the desktop.

    The search I use by far the most often is the first one. If someone walks in my office or calls my on the phone, I can click the icon on the taskbar for that saved search, type the person’s name in the “Search for the words(s)” line, and click “Find Now.” Everything I need to talk to that person about, regardless of when it is due, is not displayed.

    With these three saved searches and using the appropriate one for the information I am trying to find, I get my results much more quickly. When we compare the advantage/disadvantages of organizing digitally versus paper/pencil, one area where the digital system wins out is the ability to search data. We need to maximize that capability, and the “saved search” is one of those ways.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Outlook Saved Searches

Sometimes, we do not fully appreciate something until we face the prospects of not having it anymore. Such is the case of the “saved searches” I created on Outlook. For about 20 minutes yesterday, I could not access them and could not re-create them. I was able to determine the problem and the fix. In my two posts, I will share how to create saved searches, tehe prolem I encountered, and the solution.

The prospect of not having them and realizing how valuable they are to me prompts me to write this post. If you organize with Outlook, they such might be as valuable to you.

I use several “saved searches” to search my Outlook Task list. Why would I need to search the task list?

  1. To satisfy myself that I had indeed put a particular task on the list, even if the start date was not to occur for months.
  2. To find a particular item that I just know I put on the list but somehow don’t see it.
  3. To find a piece of information that I know I put in the note section of a Task but may not remember how I had worked the subject of the Task.
  4. To find a piece of information either in the subject line or note section of Task that I had completed sometime in the past.

We can at anytime perform a search (Tools>Find>Advanced Find or Ctrl+Shift+F) So, why do I need special “saved searches”? The answers might sound trivial, but when you use this valuable tool as much as I do, saving a few keystrokes and 30 seconds a shot adds up. Before I begin a search, there are generally a few things I know about that search. Having a “saved search” allows me to narrow the search from the beginning, this saving me considerable time. This example should make the explanation clearer.

When I go to search for a piece of information that is somewhere in Tasks, I have a good idea of the following:

  1. Whether it is a piece of information in a task completed in the past or whether the information is contained in a Task not yet completed. Since searching all Tasks takes longer than searching Tasks not yet completed, it would be nice to have a “saved search” that searches for Tasks which have been completed and another for Tasks which have not been completed.
  2. Whether the information is in the subject line of the Task or in the attached note. Searching just the subject line is much quicker. Searching just the subject line of the Tasks not completed really saves time over searching every Task in Outlook.

In my next post, I will discuss how to construct saved searches. In the post which follows that, I will describe the problem caused by an Office Update and how to fix it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Gone Phishing!

A couple of posts ago, I talked about how easy it is to tell whether an e-mail you are getting is for real or a hoax. Just highlight and copy a hunk of text from the message and paste it into Google. A couple of days ago, I received the message pasted below. My first thought was that I was going to be spending some time trying to figure out who had charged something to my account.

I saved myself quite a bit of time and frustration by taking a couple of seconds to simply practice what I preach. The text I chose to highlight and copy was the "Transcation ID"--which was "2LC956793J776333Y." Pasted that string into Google gave me a whole page of hits , each one making it obvious that the whole thing was not only a hoax, but a phishing scheme. What the culprit wanted was for me to click on a certain link as quickly as possible to "report" the false charge to PayPals. The result would have been I would have been asked for information that would then have resulted in identity theft.

Dear PayPal Member,
This email confirms that you have sent an eBay payment of $43.78 USD to
andrew2091 <;head=f> <> for an eBay item.
Payment Details
Amount: $43.78 USD
Transaction ID: 2LC956793J776333Y
Subject: Digimax 130
If you haven't authorized this charge ,click the link below to dispute transaction
and get full refund
Dispute transaction <> (Encrypted Link )
*SSL connection:
PayPal automatically encrypts your confidential information
in transit from your computer to ours using the Secure
Sockets Layer protocol (SSL) with an encryption key length
of 128-bits (the highest level commercially available)
Item Information
eBay User ID: scratchandgnaw2
Andrew Harrell's UNCONFIRMED Address
Andrew Harrell
211 David St.
Springtown, TX 76082
United States
Important Note: Edward Harrell has provided an Unconfirmed Address. If
you are planning on shipping items to Edward Harrell, please check the
TransactioYn Details page of this payment to find out whether you will
be covered by the PayPal Seller Protection Policy.
This payment was sent using your bank account.
By using your bank account to send money, you just:
- Paid easily and securely
- Sent money faster than writing and mailing paper checks
- Paid instantly -- your purchase won't show up on bills at the end of
the month.
Thanks for using your bank account!
Thank you for using PayPal!
The PayPal Team
PayPal Email ID PP127