#DevTO – Part 1

I attended the second #DevTO session held at Richmond Day. I read a tweet about it and though it might be a good way to network and meet some new people. I knew some of the people involved more than the event itself, so though I wasn’t sure what to expect, I knew it would be great.

This particular time, I was the only woman out of 6 people; four organizers, one presenter and me. It was marketed not only to developers specifically, but also to anyone who has an interest or deals with developers. I’ve done a bit of coding in my time and work as an IT Generalist, so I deal with developers, designers and more acting as a translator between the technical types and the business types.

An event like this helps me understand what developers face and perhaps help my clients by asking the right questions the first time, hence saving time and becoming more efficient.

At the first one I attended, I had the privilege of hearing Chris Brooker present Epilogger from the developer’s perspective. I’d seen their short presentation at Code Your Art Out a few days earlier, but it only scratched the surface. In this more intimate setting, I had the chance to ask more questions that helped me understand what difficulties they faced, why certain pieces were chosen and why others weren’t as well as what the process behind it was. It was also helpful to Chris to get feedback from users and developers alike, to provide more functionality and get ideas on how to solve some of the problems that they might have encountered so far.

I’d also recently signed up for #LadiesLearningCode (another post coming on that one soon). I went to their brainstorming session later that week and found that many of the women there were in a similar situation to myself. I thought many of them would probably appreciate something like #DevTO, so when I saw the invites come up for the next one, I started “marrying” the two hashtags together. Next thing I know there is a waiting list for the next #DevTO! I’m not sure how many spaces were filled because of my actions, but it came out of nowhere!

I’ll post more on the next #DevTO tomorrow, but in the meantime, Make sure you follow @DevTO_ca for more updates and register for the event here. At last check, they only have 5 spots left. Did I mention that they provide beer and pizza? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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External Hard Drive Problems

So, I’m pretty good at solving most technical difficulties. And, like most I turn to Google and have done a pretty extensive search. However, here are so many forums out there, I don’t know where to post it, so, I’m hoping that I can get some assistance here.

I am running Windows 7. I have an external portable hard drive from Transcend (500 GB). I also have a Western Digital external hard drive (2 TB). I’m quite sure that none of this is hardware related, but could be handled through disk management. I’ve done something to the smaller drive and don’t know how to reverse it. There are no partitions on either drive.

Here’s a screen shot of what I see in Disk Management:

Disk 0 is the drive in question. Disk 1 is the internal and Disk 2 is the working external drive. The problem is that the capacity (not the partition) is stated incorrectly. I honestly don’t remember what I did, but I was essentially trying to start from scratch and format the drive. Some how, it’s stating that the size of the drive is approximately 500 MB not the actual 500 GB.

I’ve tried taking it offline, but that doesn’t do anything. I’ve tried making it a healthy partition, but that won’t work either. Extending only works with partitions upto the maximum capacity. What happens when the capacity is wrong? Would love to hear any suggestions on how I can reset this.

UPDATE: I finally took the drive in to get looked at since I can’t get it to even load. It turns out that something has mechanically gone wrong with it so it is getting replaced for a small fee. Never did figure this one out.

Advice on a Twitter Handle

I am looking to get a Twitter handle for a company. We will call them X. The ideal twitter handle has been taken by a company in Scotland, so I need alternatives other than X1. They are a computer and technology company.

I would love suggestions on this. The best thing I can think of is to make it by region:

  • XCA (for Canada)
  • XTO (for Toronto)

They have a remote office in Quebec, but their main business is inย  Ontario. Any other thoughts on how I can modify the name of the company to make it better? Don’t think I want to get into use the underscore idea. Would love to hear thoughts and I’ll let you all know next week of what I’m doing. Many thanks! Good karma upon you all. Hope I can help to bestow it in future very soon!

FITC FTW

I’d noticed recently that a few people that I follow on Twitter have been talking about this conference called FITC. For those that don’t know, FITC = Flash In The Can. For more info on the conference, you can check it out here.

Enter Justin Kozuch and 49 Pixels (aka Pixel to Product). I entered a contest to win a conference pass worth about $700. Did I mention that he would be a great Manager of Conversation? (@FITCJustin). Well, he should.

But now I have a dilemma: What sessions should I attend? I’ve got a background in doing web sites, but the skills need some upgrading. Have even thought about getting back into it recently. I was pretty good at coding them, but could use some more design ideas.

So dear readers, if you were granted such a gift, how would you use your powers for good? The schedule is here. What would you attend and why?

Creating Your Own MP3 Ringtones with iTunes

This was something that drove me nuts! I have over 60 GB of music on my computer and yet, I can’t seem to make 30 second clips to use as my ringtones. What’s the point of having a phone that can play MP3’s if I can’t pick my song? What if I can’t find that specific ringtone anywhere on the internet? I have a pretty weird choice of music. (No comments from the peanut gallery, thank you!)

I found this post: http://www.businessinsider.com/best-itunes-tips-and-tricks-2011-4#forget-about-buying-ringtones-create-your-own-using-a-song-in-your-itunes-library-7 which describes how to make them out of your music library through iTunes. Now, I didn’t make my files into an AAC format, but into an MP3 format, but the methodology is the same. In addition, I keep my files on an external hard drive and not in the iTunes directory. My new file was saved under the iTunes directory, with the same directory as the original file. In my case, it saves it under the artist name/album name.

Now, I’ll spend the rest of my evening making up new tones that I can use on my phone, especially for particular contacts. What to chose for….?

Rogers Cable Volume Too Low

I have one of those really simple digital boxes from Rogers Cable. (Model: Explorer E940). When I play a DVD through my TV, the volume doesn’t need to be much higher than about 14 out of a range of 0-63 (I don’t know either…just go with it). When I watch anything through Rogers, I almost always have to have it up to the max. So, I decided to do what any technically minded person would do…I Googled it.

I should note that I have already programmed my remote to control my TV’s volume control.

I found a great discussion here: http://forums.redflagdeals.com/archive/index.php/t-752470.html One of the first things it suggests is under the Audio Range in Settings, change it to “Narrow”. Turns out, mine is already there. Still not very good. Further down, it talks about Audio Control = “Fixed”. Turns out mine was set to “Variable” and as soon as I changed it, I had to turn down the volume! Not much mind you, but I noticed a difference right away. It’s not as good as when I watch the DVD, it’s still better than having it all the way up and not being able to hear anything.

So even though the post was almost 2 years old, it was still relevant. Thought this might help some of you out there without Netflix. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Advice from a Newbie on Blogging

A friend of mine has taken to my blog posts lately and asked my advice about creating one since she wants to do the same. Well, my first statement to her about writing a successful blog: I don’t know how. I’m still figuring it out myself. And though I haven’t read all the articles about blogging successfully, I have an idea of where to find some and some tools that can help.

One piece of advice I had for her is to use WordPress. I’ve downloaded it for my Blackberry and I like it. I switched from blogger and was able to import from there as well as live journal, so it’s all in one spot. I can also manage multiple blogs from the same spot. There are also articles right from the home page with advice.

The other tool that goes hand-in-hand, in my humble opinion, is Twitter. Much of the advice and examples of blogging is through the people I follow. Sometimes it serves as inspiration too!

The one piece I’m still learning about is how much to streamline my blog. Make it all technical and businesslike, or just categorize my posts in one place and let readers decide on what they want to read.

I’m certainly no expert, but to paraphrase, a person in power surrounds themselves with those who can give good advice. Once she gets set up, I’ll give her a dedicated post so you can all say hi. Hope that helps!

-Shanta

Changing the Default Folder for saving attachments in Outlook 2010

My father just asked me how to do this and though I don’t typically enjoy or advise making changes to the registry, I thought this was pretty easy.

Upon doing a Google search, I found this article: http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-5314762.html. My father is currently using Outlook 2010, so instead of drilling down to 11.o, you must use 14.0. After making the change, we tested out both right-clicking on the attachment as well as “Save As…” from the menu and both were successful. You can probably do this for many more options, but figured it was a good little post. Enjoy!

Blackboard version 9 – Grade Center

For those that have used Blackboard in earlier iterations, this would have been called the Grade Book. Now, in version 9, it is called Grade Center.

There are some serious improvements to this version. Up until this past summer, Ryerson was running on version 7.3. One of the big improvements is that you can edit grades right in the grade center by clicking into the cell that you want to change. It operates much more like Excel now, but depending on your connection, it can be slow to enter grades directly into this interface. It’s good for a mark or two, but I wouldn’t recommend entering an entire classful of grades through this interface. You’re better off downloading the grade center and then doing it in Excel.

Downloading the Grade Center is just as easy as before, and then some. One of the new features is something called Smart Views. This allows you to customize what you see in the Grade Center and can be based upon a query. Now here’s the great part: you can download the Smart View! So if I don’t want to download all of the test scores, and assignments, and…and…and, I can simply select the Smart View and download by Smart View. This gives me the records and columns that I want, nothing more. Obviously, I don’t recommend downloading this without things like Student name or number.

Let me give you a great case for this: You have a number of TA’s that are assisting with marking. At Ryerson, we divide our classes by section number. You could be taking ITM102 at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson along with 1500 other students. So how do you know which day you attend lectures and which day you attend your even smaller tutorials? By section number. Let’s say that one lecture has 500 students in it, but they all have different tutorials. The lecture section number could be 011 and the tutorial would be 012.ย  In the lecture you could have 12 different sections and 4 TA’s. You can set up a Smart View to have just the sections that a particular TA is responsible for (sections 011, 021, 031 and 041) which will list just those records and then have an assignment for which they are entering grades (10 mark assignment). Set up the Smart View by the TA’s name, and then they don’t enter anything they aren’t supposed to. Even better, you simply download that spreadsheet and send it to them. Have them fill in the blanks (with no formulas!) and then upload it back into the Grade Center.ย  If you download the column from the Grade Center and the TA fills in the blanks, the header of the column has a unique identifier that Blackboard will recognize when you upload it. During the upload, Blackboard will ask you which column to upload. Keep in mind, to upload back into the Grade Center, you need to save the .xls or .xlsx file as a .csv!

There’s your first lesson. How did you do? How did I do? Let me know and what you would like to know about Blackboard.

Alt-PrtScr

If you’ve ever had to call a technical support or help desk line for your computer, raise your hand…I thought so. Almost everyone.

Most of you have at one time or another have had to make such a call for a computer either at work or at home. One thing that not only helps the people supporting you, but also is great tool for gathering info for you to refer to in a second is the Print Screen button (PrtScrn) in Windows environments. It’s fast and easy to use, and you don’t have to install anything. What could be better?

When I worked on a help desk and I was unable to connect to a client’s computer, I would have them do a screen capture using this key and then put it into a document and send it to me. Keep in mind, this wasn’t always possible, but at least in some cases, I could then see what the client was seeing, even if it was delayed.

Set up your screen the way you want it, i.e., with everything in the place you need it. Press the PrtScrn button on your keyboard. This saves a screenshot image to your clipboard. Now open a program that can hold an image. I usually suggest Microsoft Word since most users that I deal with have it. Then simply use the “Paste” command. Save the file and send it off.

This feature will capture the entire screen. But what if you don’t want everything? What if you only want to capture the active window? Click on the window that you want to capture and then use ALT + PRTSCN. This will just copy that window or dialogue box, which is great for error messages.

I was surprised how many students that I deal with at my university don’t know how to use this wonderful feature, so forgive me if you already know how to use this.