Friday, October 31, 2014

Outlook RSS Feeds

It's nice that people publish all sorts of information, but constantly checking a web site to see if there's new stuff is horribly inefficient and further clogging up an already overworked email inbox with new notifications doesn't work for me.  The solution I've landed on is adding an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed to my Outlook for those things I want to follow closely.  They appear as sub-folders, just like "Sent Mail" and "Deleted Items", keeping that information stream together and apart.

This is particularly useful for team spaces such as SharePoint, allowing you to see when new documents are available, regardless of what area of the SharePoint it was added to.  You can also add this blog to Outlook using its feed link

Microsoft's directions can be found at this link.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Where There's A Will

Warning: This is really, really geeky

A couple months back I was trying to figure out why smart-phones couldn't setup new email accounts.  A problem with smart-phones and tablets is you can't see what's really going on under the covers like you can with PC's and Mac's.  After some trial and error, I ended up with the following setup.

  • I logged on to my home Mac using Chrome Remote Desktop from my Windows work desktop
  • I installed the Bluestacks Android emulator on the Mac
  • I installed the 30-day free trial of the Touchdown email app under Bluestacks
  • I ran the Wireshark packet capture program on the Mac
  • I tried to setup a new email account in Touchdown
  • I analyzed the Wireshark packet capture to see what was failing, gaining the needed insight
This is what a good day at work looks like.

Chrome Remote Desktop >
Bluestacks >
Wireshark >
Touchdown >

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

View Office Documents Online

Microsoft provides a free (I love free) tool that displays Word, Excel or PowerPoint files inside your web browser.  If you're a web developer, you can provide a link as an alternative to your customer downloading a document.  

But being a Mac user who refuses to shell out two Benjamins for Office at home, I can view documents with the full fidelity only Microsoft manages, and then download them as PDFs if necessary.  The formatting and layout in Word documents is maintained, Excel workbooks can be filtered and sorted, and animations play in PowerPoints.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Epicurious is my go-to app (iOS and Android) to find something different for dinner.  Maybe some "Stuffing Hash with Fried Eggs and Arugula" or "Thai Beef with Basil"?  

Gotta go.  Getting hungry.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bug Fix

Do you have bugs, spiders, moths or other creepy crawlers invading your house at this time of year? Yeah, me too.  My current, no-frills solution to bag these creatures is an old flyswatter with a piece of folded packing tape stuck to it.  Capture the uninvited house guests with a light press for no mess. And the length of the flyswatter lets me easily reach the ceilings.

Friday, October 24, 2014

iOS 8 Upgrade Space

iOS Only:

Have you seen this message when trying to upgrade to iOS 8 on your iPhone or iPad?  Have you just decided not to upgrade because you don't want to give up gigabytes of storage on your device?


You don't lose any storage permanently (well, probably a little, but nothing to worry about).  It just needs this for the update process and then you get it back.  So remove a movie or two, do the update and load the movies back.  But this only applies to doing the update when it's not physically attached to iTunes on your Mac or PC.  When you cable it up, the upgrade requires much less.  You have choices.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Android 5.0, aka Lollipop

Android Only:

I may not see the latest Android software on my HTC One for several months, but like every release so far Android 5.0, now officially called Lollipop, is packed with exciting improvements.  For me, the better battery life and Android Smart Lock, an optional feature that, for example, can automatically unlock your phone when paired with your car's bluetooth stereo, appear my early favorites .  The waiting begins.....

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Microsoft Project is a great tool, but what if someone sends you a Project file (e.g. .mpp) and you don't have the software to view it?  Unlike Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Visio, Microsoft does not provide a free viewer.  Well, you could nicely ask to the sender to resend it as a PDF or XLS file. Or you could use the free (I love free) Project Libre software and open it yourself.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Office Online

Microsoft has free (I love free), web-delivered versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint as part of their Office Online service.  Files can be uploaded to Microsoft OneDrive (previously SkyDrive), then opened and saved there.  OneDrive comes with 15GB of storage free.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Carillon Brewing Company

Dayton is really hopping (pun intended) with the recent opening of The Carillon Brewing Company, located at Carillon Park.  They're almost ready to serve up their own craft beers, with some favorites from Deschutes, Goose Island and a few others flowing now.  The food is delicious, with several German-style items being my favorites.  The large, two-story building with outdoor seating looks like it came out of the 1800's, complete with the staff wearing period clothing.  Two thumbs up!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Android to Chromebook Via USB

Chromebook and Android Users Only:

The latest stable release of Chrome OS includes read-only USB-attached file access via MTP (Media Transfer Protocol).  Look for your Android device to show up in the Files app on your Chromebook. I launched a movie directly from my phone, then later copied the file to the downloads directory on the Chromebook.

This combination allows me load several movies on my HTC One, which has a large 32GB micro SD card, and play them on the larger screen of the Chromebook.  This just might replace using my iPad to watch movies on airplanes.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Encryption Demonstrated

Encryption is a highly effective way of keeping your information private. The gibberish below started off as the text of The Ten Commandments, then rendered indecipherable by an encryption algorithm. Unless you know the secret key. Then it's easy to reverse the process.


To demonstrate how a small change to the input completely changes the encrypted output, I removed one period from the text and generated the cyphertext again using the same secret key.   Notice how very different it is from the one above. This is a key attribute of a good encryption algorithm.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Roku Screen Mirroring

Android 4.4.2 and higher only:

Roku recently introduced screen mirroring on the Roku 3 and their Streaming Stick.  It's still listed as being in beta and my experience, which included choppy video and audio playback, they have some work to do.

The photo below was taken from my Android phone's camera taking a picture of my big screen TV which was displaying what was on my phone's screen, resulting in the recursive, infinite mirror effect.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Herding Cats

Hump Day Humor:

EDS's 2000 Super Bowl commercial about herding cats is one of the all-time best.  Never gets old. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Noise Isolating Earphones

I purchased a pair of Monoprice's Enhanced Bass Hi-Fi Noise Isolating Earphones for $6.02 on special last month (a $2 saving), which included free shipping (I love free, particularly shipping).  I used them with my iPad while watching Spiderman 2 on flights between Cincinnati and Hartford last week, and was totally impressed with the fit, audio quality and lack of tangling.  What's even better is I can tell the left from the right without using my reading glasses.  

I thinking stocking stuffer here.  Ho ho ho!

Monday, October 6, 2014

General Fusion

Fusion produces usable energy by combining atoms and harvesting the little extra left over.  General Fusion, a Canadian company, is working to bring a full scale, demonstrable fusion system to life. Could this be the answer to abundant, clean energy, or another failed attempt to mimic the Sun's source of power?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Matchstick Streaming Stick

I have a Roku 3, three AppleTV's and a Chromecast, so (of course) I had to back a new Kickstarter project that's delivering a streaming stick built on Firefox OS, with the hope that an open source version will eventually lead to new and exciting capabilities.

And it's only $18 (I also love cheap).

This project blasted through its funding goal in just a day.  I think they're a little surprised.