Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: SharePoint 2010 Sync with Excel 2010


  • Not SharePoint Enterprise
  • SharePoint 2010
  • Excel 2010 (although should be possible with 2003-2007)


Work is frustrating when I have to research on solutions that take more time than it would take for me to just create a custom application. The latest project is to create metrics from lists that were created in SharePoint.

At first glance, seems like a very simple task. Get access to the list, then aggregate the data. But of course, Microsoft does not make this easy at all. First you need to have so many other MS products which I (unfortunately) do not have access to.


Cons

  • Only Excel to SharePoint
    • I could not find a way to have sync if the list originated from SharePoint first
    • Must be saved as 2003 (*.xls) to save the connection for syncing
    • If you lose the connection, by saving as 2010, deleting the excel file, or losing the file, you lose the connection
    • I was unable to find a way to reconnect for syncing
    • BUT- I was able to refresh data in excel to data from SharePoint with Refresh data
  • Does not save with Excel 2010
    • It will work when you export to SharePoint but cannot save the connection
    • When saving select *.xls (2003)
  • Who knows how long this will be supported for as his has already been deprecated in 2010
    • Clearly MS trying to require more customers to purchase more products like Access when most of companies already have MS SQL
Although the ability to update SharePoint lists from Office Excel 2007 is deprecated in favor of publishing and synchronizing lists using Office Access 2007, you can use the Excel 2007 SharePoint List Synchronizing Add-in to update SharePoint lists from Office Excel 2007. ~ (Reference-1 MSDN)

Pros

  • More feed for Microsoft haters
  • At least the refresh is sufficient for reporting purposes since SharePoint is the primary entry of data
  • It appears there are other solutions but have financial costs
  • Free if you already have SharePoint (non-enterprise version) and Excel 2010

Reference

http://itblog.wolthaus.net/2012/03/synchronize-excel-2010-with-sharepoint-2010-list/ - Synchronize Excel 2010 with SharePoint 2010 List

  • Does not address having SharePoint list before having the excel file
  • Does not address if you somehow lose the excel file or create a separate file



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vay-J97xl44 - Export Excel Lists To SharePoint And Connect Them

  • This is most helpful for connection only
  • Does not include setup, see link above for SynchronizeWSSandExcel.xlam


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZdZMaKOg7s - QA0001 - Synchronise SharePoint with Excel


  • Video I found for SharePoint 2013 (enterprise) and Excel 2013 (untested since I do not have either versions)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuW8QwAPSBw


Other SharePoint 2010 Tips
http://www.mssharepointtips.com/tip.asp?id=956&page=2


1 - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb462636%28office.11%29.aspx#Office2007SynchronizeSharePointListfromExcel_Synchronizing

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Scammish: MeetMe and XBox Email Verification Completely Useless

I do not know what is going on but I received emails from MeetMe and XBox to verify a new account which I did not even create an account for. So, I ignored the email. Yet, I continued to receive email as if my account was verified. Not only that, it appears that there are activities going on in the respective accounts that required them to flag the accounts.

What a bunch of non-sense... I cannot even address the accounts and yet they are accusing me of wrong-doing on top of the spam mail? I cannot even remove myself from their either site because I did not technically even have an account. No responses from their support, but at least I was not expecting that to happen anyways. XBox email unsubscribe does not work with a supposedly non-validated email address.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review: Letters from Whitechapel (Board Game)


  • 2+ players
  • Competitive and Cooperative play
    • Cooperative requires at least 3 players
  • Good party game, new player friendly
  • Theme may not be appropriate for young kids


I have now played or watched people play Letters from Whitechapel a few times now. The mechanics are simple but still challenging. A similar game to this was Scotland Yard which I have not played for over 10 years.

The basic concept is that there is a character, Jack the Ripper, that has to navigate around the map to accomplish his objectives. Whoever plays Jack will be playing against everyone else (typically an experienced player). This is the competitive portion where Jack has to mislead or bluff to his goal.

The rest of the players are the detectives in hunting for Jack. 1 player or multiple players can play the detectives. They can cooperate with each other to find leads, cut off certain paths, and/or hopefully arrest Jack.

Pros

The best part of this game is that it has both elements of competitive and cooperative play. One of my problems in finding a good game for a party where everyone can play. Typical games are either too competitive (i.e. Settlers of Catan) or too cooperative (i.e. Pandemic). I think one of the biggest problems with people who usually do not play board games is that they do not want to upset other players because they do not know how to play. This is even more so when you have very competitive friends (who always wants to play so I rarely play coop games).

For Whitechapel, all the cooperative players should be on the detective side since they can all discuss strategies. Competitive players can play either Jack or detectives. On the detective side, they will tend to direct the other players. I try to encourage that the head detective (who rotates after each round) do most of the talking.

Cons

I do not have much against the game so far. With friends who I think are good at strategy, Jack has a high tendency to win (4 out of 5 games). With another group of friends who I thought were less strategic in their play-style, Jack almost always lost.

Personally, I've played Jack 3 times and detective 2 times. I've won all except one. The lost game did not follow the strategies I think was needed to win. The other time as detective, I think it was a fluke that we found Jack.

Overall

This is definitely one of my top party games with people who like strategy and minimal random factors (like dice and/or card drawing).

Sunday, June 22, 2014

HOWTO: Google Chrome Remote Desktop - Change Pin/Password, Forgot Pin

This took me a while to figure out and could not find a satisfactory solution. I was testing at first and just used a test pin since I didn't have a 6 digit pin readily thought through, so forgot what PIN that was.

1. Open Google Chrome
2. Go to Settings
3. Click Extensions
4. Find Chrome Remote Desktop > Click Visit website
5. Click Launch App
6. At the bottom of the page, there is a link at the bottom of the page "Change PIN"


This is on Google Chrome on Windows 7.


Reference

If the above does not work, try the links below in Google Chrome, but I'm not sure if these will work. It works on my pc but unsure if keys are specific to my install
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/chrome-remote-desktop/gbchcmhmhahfdphkhkmpfmihenigjmpp

You may have to copy/paste this manually:
chrome-extension://gbchcmhmhahfdphkhkmpfmihenigjmpp/main.html


Key Search Terms

Forgot Chrome Remote PIN, Forgot Chrome Remote Desktop PIN
Change PIN for Remote Desktop

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Work Life: Windows detected a hard disk problem

Windows detected a hard disk problem - Back up your files immediately to prevent information loss, and then contact the computer manufacturer to determine if you need to repair or replace the disk. Start the backup process. Ask me again later. If the disk fails before the next warning, you could lose all of the programs and documents on the disk.

I was getting the somewhat frequently last year over a span of 2-3 months. Some days it would just come up every 15-30 minutes. After a while, the problem just went away.

A few months back, the problem started back up again. This time around, I had more downtime to report the issue to support. They were going to "re-image" to a new disk.

Typically a reimage would provide me the same configurations and such, but it was not so. I also received a larger disk. Even though the support tech said re-image, the programs were reinstalled and not re-imaged. This forced me to reinstall quite a few other applications that are not part of the standard install.

The process also took 2 days to complete. At first this was odd because a re-image should not take so long. But in hindsight, reinstalling Windows then all the applications will take quite a bit of time.

Unfortunately with a larger hard drive, my computer seems to run slower even though everything else seems to be exactly the same.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Game: Candy Crush 605

I was waiting for people to stop by so I figured I checked out where Candy Crush is at. So I started playing against a couple weeks ago and just finished the last 105 levels which currently ends at 605.

In reference-1, I was a bit addicted to the game. This time around, I was not as addicted by not having to play it during my free time. I also did not have that itching feeling that I have to continue playing nor did I feel as frustrated when not able to beat a level.

In reference-2, I had run into a lot of problems with the supposedly "random" pieces that falls and the movements of the chocolates. I have to say that the latest levels were pretty challenging yet not as frustratingly difficult. There were still a couple levels that took a lot of luck like level 586 (which I did not enjoy playing at all). I am not a big fan when a level depends too heavily on luck than skill.

It still seems that I get good combinations after the last move. Chocolates still seem to me to have some backend logic depending on where you leave your mouse after a move (although I'm not sure if this is a problem in the mobile version). After suspecting this, I have found if I leave my mouse (right after I move a piece) in an area that I rather have the chocolate go towards that it has a higher chance in going in that area. But, this does not work all the time. When it does not work, it does seem to be more random-ish.

In conclusion, I actually found the last few levels much more enjoyable. I really liked the conveyor concept.

Reference

1 - http://douglastclee.blogspot.com/2013/10/game-candy-crush-saga-addiction.html
2 - http://douglastclee.blogspot.com/2013/07/game-candy-crush-saga-rigged.html

Life: Watching American Ninja while Working Out is Very Motivating

I have been trying to be better with my workout. I have been pretty bad since my last update (in that I have gained weight... yet again). Eating unhealthy and not working out are always bad for a healthier lifestyle. I have just been super busy with moving out, moving, moving in, and more moving in.

Normally at the gym, I watch food network when I run on the treadmill. Usually a very standard run. One evening, American Ninja was on. Just watching them struggle through obstacles made me want to run harder. I find myself running faster than the speed set. The more they struggled the easier I found to run faster. Somehow I imagine that me running harder will transfer that effort to them.

Then there was one person that hurt his calf or ankle. I think I almost wanted to fall down too as if I also sprained my ankle. Each time they showed the replay, a little part of me cringe.

On a side note, I feel that I run more easier to the pace of music that is playing. The faster the beats per minute, the faster I run. Interestingly, the effort level does not feel different within a short period of time (usually until I run out of breath). When the song changes to a slower pace, I try to motivate myself to run at the previous pace but for some reason it just seems harder.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Work Life: False vs Not True in programming and db logic

Oftentimes, I think that false is when logic fails by which I mean a logical contradiction like "true = false". But in reality (like in MS SQL), false is that it is not true. And a lot of logic is also built in this fashion even though most of us do this unconsciously.

In a less technical view, the difference is like saying that someone "unhappy" is sad. Although we typically understand it to be sad (given certain context) but someone could be in other states that are neither happy nor sad, thus being unhappy and not sad. The person could just be indifferent, content, angry, etc.

The minor difference is important particularly with passwords where it either passes or it does not. When it "fails", there is no reason to why it fails except that it is not true. This is important because we do not want to provide a reason to what may be wrong because it may provide a clue.

To further explain the technical logic and design, the minor difference also includes when something cannot be computed like when variables are unknown or conditions that were not met. The most common is with nulls or anything that results in an unknown like dividing by zero. A simple null example is (null = null) which returns false. An 'unknown' example is (1/0 = 1/0) which also returns false.

It is somewhat fascinating to me that classic philosophy does not quite consider the concept of null or unknown... but then, my knowledge on classic philosophy is extremely limited to what I had to read in college as an engineer.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: SharePoint 2010 - Check DateTime Field is Blank (solution)

My preference in setting up flags is to use a datetime field. If there is a date, then the flag is set. If it is null, the the flag is not set. My problem is using SharePoint Designer to check if the datetime field is empty.

Solution

After some searching, I found the second solution in Reference-1 to work for me. The solution is to create a text field variable, then set the datetime field to the variable. The text variable will have the options to check if it is null, and will be null if the datetime field is null. For me the important step was making sure that the variable is of a type that triggers the conditional statement to include null checks.

Analysis

For whatever reason, the conditional statement does not include null for datetime fields. My guess is that there is something about checking datetime field as null because I did try the first checked solution in Reference-1 by setting a variable as null then comparing it to my datetime field.

As I write this, I think I may have created the variable as a datetime variable. There is a possibility that this may work if compared to a text variable set to null. I would check if I was not already frustrated with working with SharePoint and if I still had that example. Perhaps, I'll try this at a later time.

There was another alternate solution which I did not get around to doing. It requires another column. .

Reference

1- http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/6dc36021-5c7d-4d70-8ead-afa36c45dfd5/how-to-check-for-the-date-is-null-in-sharepoint-designer-condition-?forum=sharepointcustomizationlegacy
2 - http://howardmcd.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/how-to-check-if-a-date-field-is-blank-in-a-sharepoint-designer-workflow/

Buggish: SharePoint 2010 - Unable to filter lookup through Designer

After what I think was an update (see recent problem with SP), I noticed different behavior with the lookup. For some reason, I am not longer able to filter the lookup by creating a calculated field. In the past (I am pretty sure that I tested this), I had created a calculated field which was used for the lookup. When the calculated field was empty, the lookup only had values that I wanted to be shown (by ignoring blanks).

Now that I am trying to implement this into our production site, this option is no longer there. Going back to my test site, this option is also not there either. It has been a couple months since I last touched this so my memory on this is a bit fuzzy. The columns that I thought was referencing the lookup, now only references the main column that the lookup was calculated on. The update should not have done this automatically because the calculated field could have potentially had multiple fields. It may be possible that the admin had subjectively updated the fields appropriately which may be why the site was down for a couple hours.

Overall, this is still all just speculation. I wish there was more update from the SharePoint admin team on what is being done. One would imagine that the SharePoint team would be at least one of the teams that maintains a site with the updates. Also at the end of the day, I can no longer use a lookup on a calculated field. I do not have access to the server, so I cannot use the other options... and still wishing that I could just build an app which I think I could still create faster.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Work Life: LinkedIn, More Recruiters than Professional Contacts?

I occasionally log into LinkedIn to read some of their articles. Although somewhat amateurish, they are rather insightful in getting me to think although no always in agreement (at least not 100%) with the article. Every so often, I get a new request from someone that wants to be added to my contacts list.

If this keeps up (although would take a rather long time), I may eventually end up with more recruiters than business professional contacts. This got me thinking that LinkedIn really needs a new feature to separate recruiters from my regular contacts.

First, recruiters really know nothing about me. Personally, I think they are just poaching my contacts list. I have added one or two that I have worked closely with in the past but have since removed them from my list. I may consider keeping recruiters that really are professional contacts. I may consider adding them if my contact list was not shared with them.

Second, they do not care about my work. They do not provide any value to my professional portfolio except maybe to make my contact list look larger. But, I know plenty of excellent people with very few contacts. Do they really look at my list for referrals? How would they know who I actually work with?

Third, I do not want to be adding recruiters while being employed. I do not this it looks good when your managers or coworkers (who are also on LinkedIn), suddenly see an influx of recruiters on your new contacts news. I do not wish to risk my boss to think that I am a liability to the team.

But, I am curious what they have to offer. Although I am not interested in leaving, I still need to do my due diligence as a professional. LinkedIn would provide an excellent portal for me to see what other opportunities are out there. Somehow I am meeting more people who are also looking for work, and reference would be a much better way to introduce someone to an opening. I think there are some good benefits LinkedIn should look into for these types of avenues. It will grow higher quality candidates, as opposed to candidates from the masses (i.e. Monster, Dice, etc.).

Work Life: SharePoint 2010, Why Do You Hate Me So?! Unable to display this Web Part

I received this error:

Unable to display this Web Part. To troubleshoot the problem, open this Web page in a Microsoft SharePoint Foundation-compatible HTML editor such as Microsoft SharePoint Designer. If the problem persists, contact your Web server administrator.

The page always seem to know when I need it most. We use SharePoint to present in our meetings to discuss open items. I get this problem maybe once every month or two. I work on it frequently throughout the day so the frequency is not because that is the only few times I open it.

I think our SharePoint is on a server farm, because we also have a page that displays which SP server we are on. Usually, someone on my team will be on a different server and the page is working fine. We have not figured out what causes this problem nor how to switch to a different server. We think closing and reopening the browser will at least switch us to another server but this usually does not work.

The problem is only on one of our views. The other views appear to be fine, although they are usually empty or have few records (i.e. 1-5). The all views page also works. The list itself comes up without any problems. Usually if I wait a couple hours, the problem will fix itself. It is quite a hassle to get in touch with our SP administrator so I have never contacted them and usually just wait for it to fix itself.

While searching the error on-line, there appears that there could be a couple sources of the problem. At the frequency that we get the problem, my guess is that there was some updates done on the servers. Assuming the rest of the company follows the same as our infrastructure team, we update each server on separate days. There were solutions to actual changes made, but we have not made any changes (at least to our knowledge). Unfortunately, I do not have a solution nor explanation to this problem.

Off topic, I also looked up what the correlation id meant (site provided below). This appears to be an id associated with my session so is not useful to a web search. It is useful for searching the logs for an admin. Unfortunately, I do not have admin rights.


Reference

http://zimmergren.net/technical/sp-2010-find-error-messages-with-a-correlation-id-token-in-sharepoint-2010

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Life: Blogger May 2014 Stats

Google Analytics

Sessions = 267

Google Webmasters

Total Queries = 232
Approximate Impressions = 5700
Approximate Clicks = 318

Google AdSense

Page Views = 638
Clicks = 1

Blogger

Pageviews Last Month = 960
All Time Comments = 38
All Time Posts = 210
All Time History Visits = 19267



* Approximations are rounded down