It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged. Work has been especially busy for the past month or so, and as my calendar gets squeezed from every direction the first thing to disappear from it is the time to post here.
That’s unfortunate, and I must get better at it.
Anyway, a few weeks ago I came across a post elsewhere about project management proverbs, and some of them are certainly worth sharing.
One in particular caught my eye because my boss Matt recently welcomed his new son Jude to the world. I know that toward the end of his wife’s pregnancy he was getting anxious, as I’m sure any expected father would, and they wanted the birth to be sooner rather than later.
It takes one woman nine months to have a baby. The project management proverb I read reminds us that, despite conventional project management wisdom, the same result cannot be achieved in one month simply by impregnating nine women.
Other notable points:
The sooner you get behind schedule, the more time you have to make it up.
A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected. A well planned project only twice as long as expected.
The person who says it will take the longest and cost the most is the only one with a clue how to do the job.
If you’re six months late on a milestone due next week but nevertheless really believe you can make it, you’re a project manager.
The ability to quickly and easily forward an Outlook meeting
to another recipient is an essential feature. Maybe you can’t make it and you
need to send a delegate. Maybe you identify from the invite that bringing along
a colleague who’s a subject matter expert would be beneficial. There are
probably many other scenarios.
As a meeting organizer though, it’s possible that you don’t
want people to be able to forward your meetings. Perhaps the location you have
booked is of a limited size. Perhaps the meeting content is sensitive and
discussion restricted to a particular group. There are probably many other
scenarios for wanting to keep tight control over the recipient list too.
Well, good news! I’ve recently discovered this is possible,
and with just a few lines of VBA you can create meetings that have the
“forward” button disabled. If a recipient wants to extend the invite to someone
else, they have to come back to you and ask that you do it for them.
It’s worth pointing out right at the top that this technique
only works in the Microsoft Outlook desktop client. You have to be using it,
and so do the meeting recipients. If your recipients also have their
email/calendar available to them on another client (including mobile devices
and webmail) then
they can use the other client to
forward the meeting.
It’s also worth pointing out that full credit for this goes
to user GranEYb
on Microsoft’s TechNet
forums. I have merely tidied up his/her instructions, and turned them into
a quick screencast. The instructions are for Outlook 2013. I know the code also
works in Outlook 2010. I haven’t tested it with other versions. YMMV.
First, enable developer tools in Outlook:
Open Outlook 2013
-> Options -> Customize Ribbon
In the right-hand pane, place a checkmark next
to the Developer group and click OK
Open Visual Basic for Applications and write the code:
Navigate to the Developer tab on the ribbon, and
select Visual Basic
In the Visual Basic for Applications window,
click Insert -> Module
Copy the code from below, and choose File -> Save, or click the Save
Close the Visual Basic for Applications window
ActiveInspector.CurrentItem.Actions("Forward").Enabled = False
MsgBox "Forwarding of this item has been disabled"
ActiveInspector.CurrentItem.Actions("Forward").Enabled = True
MsgBox "Forwarding of this item has been enabled"
buttons in Outlook:
File -> Options -> Customize
the right-hand pane, select the Appointment tab and click New Group
the New Group (Custom) item and click Rename
the Display Name box, enter Forward
Control. Click OK
the left-hand pane, select the Choose Commands From: dropdown and select Macros
Project1.DisableForwarding and click the Add
>> button between the panes
Project1.EnableForwarding and click the Add
>> button between the panes
the right-hand pane, select Project1.DisableFowarding and click Rename
the Display Name box, enter Disable
Forwarding. Click OK
the right-hand pane, select Project1.EnableForwarding and click Rename
the Display Name box, enter Enable
Forwarding. Click OK
OK at the bottom of the Outlook
If you wish, you can now hide the developer tab that we enabled with the first
To use the
tool, create a new meeting invite as you normally would, but before hitting the
send button hit the Disable Forwarding button first. Recipients of your invite
will find that the Forward button is disabled.
not have forwarding disabled by default, but if you need to re-enable
forwarding for any reason then the Enable Forwarding button is your friend.
Just a couple of days ago I wrote a little bit about how cloud servers are such a commodity item now, easily created and destroyed.
Today I wanted a server to test out a new tool, but I didn’t want to risk there being any impact to any of my existing production servers. So I created a new one on Vultr. From the time I started to the time I had a running server was just over a minute, and I recorded a screencast.
When I was done testing a couple of hours later I destroyed the server. Total cost to me for this exercise was about $0.02, or it would have been were it not for the fact that Vultr gave me a $5 account credit when I signed up.
It’s hardly riveting viewing, but it’s nevertheless amazing in its own way.
I’ve had a personal website of one description or another
for a long time now. For much of that time, the site was hosted by renting
space on someone else’s large server – so called “shared hosting.”
The theoretical problem with this model was that the
server’s resources were shared between all its users, and if one user chewed
through a whole lot of them then that left fewer available for everyone else.
I’m not sure I ever actually experienced this (although I’m sure it really was
an issue for web hosting companies to contend with), but the problem I did come
across was that to protect against this kind of thing hosts often put policies
and configuration options in place that were very restrictive. Related to this
is the fact that server configuration options apply to everyone with space on
that server, and they’re not for individual users to control. A problem if you
want to do anything that deviates even slightly from the common-case.
The alternative to shared webhosting would have been to rent
an entire server. This was – and still is – an expensive undertaking. It also
was – and still is – far more power than I need in order to host my website.
Sure, it’s possible to build a lower-powered (cheaper) server, but the act and
cost of putting it in a datacentre to open it up to wider world mean that it’s
probably not a worthwhile exercise to do all that with low-cost hardware.
I have a small app on my computer that I wrote myself. It’s
small and simple, and it’s the default application for opening BitTorrent files on our computers. When I
download one of these files the app takes the file and moves it to a folder on
the server. This folder is watched by my torrent
client of choice which runs on the server and immediately starts the
download when it sees the file.
The app then pops up a notification to the user to ask if
they want to be directed to the deluge web interface to see the download
I rewrote the app about a year ago. The original version was
written in RealStudio but the
location of the watched folder and the URL for Deluge’s web interface were
hard-coded in: a reasonable design decision given it was just a small app for
only my use one, but still a poor one – when a change I made to my network
configuration required me to adjust these variables I no longer had a copy of
I wrote a new version in Visual
Basic 2010 Express, and this time I did a little extra work to take the
configuration variables out of the source code and put them into an .ini file.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, not that I think you’d need the app, but I have today
made the source code
(and the compiled executable, for good measure) publicly available on my brand
new GitLab account!
I’ve been using Git for a while (and I’ve written about it once
before), but I really haven’t been taking advantage of its featureset.
I’m working on something right now that’s big and complex
and I value having version control and branches to work with. I already have
Git installed on my server (both my home server and my public webserver), but
I’ve downloaded a windows Git client
to compliment that setup and opened a GitLab account to use as an external
repository and a means to eventually make a finished product public.
Why have I chosen GitLab over the more ubiquitous GitHub? GitHub makes you pay to host a private
repository, and I want somewhere where I can both host code that’s a work in
progress (and not ready for public distribution) and distribute completed code
that’s ready for download, public review and maybe even improvement by the
wider community. GitLab gives me free private repositories for
partially-completed things that I can later make public once I’m ready to.
I’ve already created a couple of public repositories, mostly
to test the platform out, and TorrentApp is one of them.
So use it if it’s a tool that might be useful to you,
improve upon it if you have the expertise, and send me a merge request so I
can incorporate your changes into the code!
There was one day last week where I accomplished more in the last hour of my day than I did in the previous 6ish. This happens to everyone from time to time: despite our best intentions, there are all sorts of things that can cause a workday to go sideways on us.
We all have unproductive days. Maybe an unexpected event throws your schedule for a loop. Maybe you’re not feeling well. Whatever the reason, it can be tough to get back on track. Here’s how to get past the dip in productivity and back into gear.
For me, key to recovering when a day turns unproductive is to find a way to reset and tackle the remainder of the day with a renewed focus. I spend 15 or 20 minutes at the start of every day composing a to-do list and defining my action plan for the day, and when I find myself unable to execute on that plan for whatever reason I repeat that exercise and re-define my action plan based on my new reality. I also find it helps a lot to have a change of scenery: if I’m in the office and my day isn’t going the way I wanted it to then I’ll go home and work the rest of the day from there. If I’m already home then I might head to my favourite coffee place and spend an hour or two working in that environment.
I also find that as part of redefining my to-do list it’s important to be fully inclusive. My day consists of both big and small tasks, and it’s tempting when putting a list together to omit the small ones and just do them immediately, but of course this only leaves the big tasks where I’m more reliant on others and unforeseen things are more likely to occur. When things don’t go to plan it’s entirely possible to end up with a to-do list that has nothing checked off at the end of the day, and it’s important to me not to finish my day that way – I’d much rather spend my evening relaxing with at least a small sense of accomplishment than worrying about a perceived lack of achievement. If I’m only able to achieve smaller things that day then so be it, but that’s better than nothing and cause for correspondingly small celebration, but celebration nonetheless.
If you’re not able to recover your productivity within the working day? Well, that happens to the best of us and isn’t cause for panic. The article I’ve linked to above has some tips and tricks to help us get back on the metaphorical horse the following day.
On Tuesday I wrote about installing SharePoint Foundation
2010 on my home windows server, which also acts as a domain controller, and I
concluded by saying that I’d encountered performance issues as a result of that
Turns out, the performance issues were a complete coincidence,
and everything is now running just fine.
The problem I was experiencing was that two of my three forward
DNS servers weren’t working correctly. Now that my
service provider has corrected their issue, everything is great.
For a small setup like mine, I’d say go ahead
and install SQL Server Express and SharePoint on the domain controller. It