Category Archives: Office Productivity

7 Handy Internet Search Tips

How many times have you searched the Internet and had the feeling of “this is almost of what I want, but not quite”? Well, Shankar Ganesh, who is a guest writer for How-To Geek, provides us with list of seven helpful ways (something for everyone) to search various platforms and apps.

1.  Use Google’s AROUND(n) for a proximity search. You may be familiar with the AND, NOT, OR search operators, but this Google operator allows you to specify the distance between two search terms. For example, I was interested in finding information on the MOS certification and Richland College. I simply entered the following search command at Google: MOS certification AROUND (3) Richland College. I received the most relevant results which were followed by related results.

2.  Use Stars with Gmail. If you have a Gmail account, you can enable the Superstars labs addons by clicking on the gears icon, then selecting Settings, scrolling to the Stars area, making your star selection(s), and then clicking Save Changes at the bottom of the screen. You can then color code your messages. The other neat advantage of color coding is that you can search for your messages via the color coded system. Ganesh provides many of the search operators, but here are three filter codes that are based on the color starred system:

i. has:yellow-star

ii. has:blue-star

iii. has:orange-star

3.  Consider using CloudMagic if you are an avid Gmail user.  Using the CloudMagic addon will definitely speed up your email searches. According to Ganesh, CloudMagic is especially helpful if you have a lot of archived messages that need searching also.

4.  Use wallpaper to spruce up your desktop/laptop screen. If you are looking for wallpaper, Google certainly has tons of images, but Bing certainly has a lot to offer as well. Bing will show images that match your screen resolution, and you don’t need to specifically indicate the resolution. Just go to bing.com/images and then type in your search term.

5.  Make your Evernote app even more efficient. Let’s say that you use Evernote with your SmartPhone or tablet to work with a variety of applications, but you need to search your notes from one particular source. In Ganesh’s example the search is for notes that were created in any mobile client or information pasted from a Microsoft application such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. You just need to type source:mobile.* or source:ms.app.* He provides a link at this site that offers a number of advanced Evernote search parameters as well.

6.  Keep those shared links on Twitter manageable by using Delicious. Simply go to your Twitter account and make sure your settings allow your links to be collected from your tweets and retweets. The nice thing is that Delicious ignores any duplicate links.

7.  Limit your searches to folders, not files! If you are like a lot of us, you probably have some folders and some files on your hard drive, flash drive, etc.—rather cluttered. Have you ever just wanted to look for your folders that contain the word PowerPoint (you know they’re on your hard drive/flash drive—somewhere!). Well, Windows has a great search operator known as the “in-built kind: operator. So if you are looking for these that are tucked away in folder, you just need to type the following command in the search area: powerpoint kind:folder and presto! Only folders containing this word in their names, no files, will appear.

For more information on the BOSS program and how it can help you prepare for a successful career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


Job Skills Needed in 2013

At the beginning of each new year, we all tend to pause, reflect, project and to think about what is needed to be successful in the new year. Ruth Mantell, who is a writer for the online Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch, provides employees, and those looking for employment, with four key skills needed to be successful in 2013.

Use clear communications—the ability to articulate your point clearly and concisely is absolutely essential in today’s high tech world. While tweeting and texting are part of the toolkit, you also need to be able to communicate effectively in expanded written correspondence and oral conversations. According to leading employment experts, careful writers and speakers also observe spelling and grammar rules. Remember, good communication skills are seen by many as a measurement of workers’ ability, their understanding, and their potential.

Create a personal brand—if you are tech savvy and use blogs, or Twitter, or LinkedIn, etc., then please be aware that recruiters and other HR types scour these sites constantly. Because so many companies have a social media presence, they are looking for employees who can tweet or post on their behalf. For your sake, both now and in the future, it is important that your tweets and posts are attractive, positive, and interesting. With that said, your Internet postings should also reflect common sense and decorum.

Be flexible—for some bosses, an employee’s ability to literally “turn on a dime successfully” is viewed as the principal worker asset. You have got to be ready to learn new tools or work on new projects with a willing and open attitude. Many employers expect their employees to get out of their comfort zone and to be ready to adapt to change quickly and willingly.

Improve your productivity—employers expect their workers to operate in a “growth mode.” According to one consultant cited in the article, “My clients are looking for employees that have a great ability to understand what is wanted and needed, rather than needing to be told.” That means you have to keep your skills and knowledge of technology updated in order to help you increase your productivity.

If you need to take one or more classes to help you enhance your technology skills and productivity, consider taking one of the Microsoft Office classes or other skills/productivity development classes from the BOSS area at Richland College. For more information on BOSS software and productivity course offerings, the BOSS degree and certificates contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


Excel and Subtotals

If you frequently click on the Data tab in either Excel 2007 or Excel 2010, you may have noticed a button in the Outline group called “Subtotal.”  It is a feature used when summarizing repeating data in a list of information is important.  Many users of Excel’s database features are unfamiliar with this feature.  However, its utilization will save a great deal of time if the task you have been asked to perform involves summarizing data.

Here is a link to an article by Susan Harkins published as part of the TechRepublic Blog.  The article not only explains the Subtotals feature but also shows easy to follow examples on how the feature is used.  The files she uses to explain the feature are also available for you to download and practice.

Click here to view the Susan Harkins article on the Subtotals feature in Excel.

You will notice that the Subtotals feature provides a quick, easy way to group and summarize a range of data.  It also lets you create not only subtotals using the SUM function, but other statistics including COUNT, AVERAGE, MAX, and MIN.  Enjoy exploring and using this versatile Excel feature!

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For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


Tips on Motivating Others

This is the another post from Dr. Wright L. Lassiter, Jr., the Chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District.  We are honored to learn from his experience and leadership knowledge through these posts. Check back monthly for his posts!

From: Chancellor’s Weekend Memo #285

TEN WAYS TO MOTIVATE ANYONE

I make a practice of giving books to friends and associates for holiday occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.  One such book is Drive by Daniel Pink.  In it, Pink notes that people perform best when they strive for mastery, and believe that their task is meaningful.  He says money is not the best way to move players to be “players” and not “pawns.”   He also stresses that leaders should strive to understand employees’ thinking and behavioral preferences.  When leaders take that action, it will help them get their workforce aligned and moving in the same direction.  I am sharing with my associates ten ways to motivate from Pink’s book.

1. Analytical types want to know that a project is valuable.

2. People who are structural by nature want to know their work aids the company.  They like to be rewarded in writing.  An encouraging email is an appropriate way to communicate with them.

3. Social people want to feel personally valued.  They prefer to be rewarded in ways that touch the heart.  Written notes are appreciated.

4. Innovative employees must buy into a cause.  To them, the big picture is important.

5. Quiet staffers don’t need a lot of fanfare, but they appreciate private, one-on-one exchanges.

6. Expressive people feel more motivated when assignments are openly discussed.  They like public recognition, with pomp, and with ceremony.

7. Peacekeepers hope everyone will move in the same direction.

8. Hard-drivers are independent thinkers.  If they agree with you, they will be highly motivated.  They like extrinsic rewards and they tend to want whatever it is right away.

9. Those who are focused team members must have confidence in the leader and the mission, otherwise, they will falter.  They want to know up front what kind of reward they can expect.  Leaders must make sure that promises are fulfilled.

10. Flexible people go along with the team, as long as a project does not contradict the plan, and they will be happy with any kind of recognition.

                      Pink also makes the point in his book that leaders should watch for the weakest link among their employees.  If there is a slacker, drifter, or one who just hangs on, this can dampen the motivation of everyone else.

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                      For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


                      Microsoft Introduces Windows 8

                      What would happen if you powered up your computer and the desktop looked like this?

                      Windows 8

                       

                      If you are getting ready to purchase a new windows computer, be aware that you will most likely be getting a computer equipped with a new operating system, Windows 8.  The new operating system is flashy and resembles the screen on your Android or iPhone. 

                      Mike Williams writes on techradar.computing, ” Windows 8 has undergone a major redesign which sees the Start menu scrapped, the desktop demoted, and years of interface conventions thrown away.”  Click here to read what he says you will have to “relearn” to use Windows 8.

                      PC World also offers what they refer to as, “Windows 8:  The official review.”  Click here to see the PC World review of Windows 8.

                      It is still possible to purchase a new computer with Windows 7 rather than Windows 8; however, you will probably have to order the computer with specs for Windows 7 as the operating system.  Be an educated buyer before you purchase a new computer; do some research on Windows 8 and decide which operating system you prefer.

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                      For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


                      If You Think Good Grammar Doesn’t Matter, Think Again!
                      Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, which is the largest online repair community, and also the founder of Dozuki, which is software designed to write technical manuals, says he won’t hire people who don’t have good grammar skills, and here’s why:
                      • Grammar is relevant for all companies.
                      • Good grammar is credibility, and especially on the Internet—your words are all that you have in blog posts, social media, e-mails, and company websites. He goes on to say that your words, “are a projection of you in your physical absence…for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.”
                      • Good grammar just makes good business sense. Wiens’ company, iFixit, has the  responsibility of producing clear, correct online instructions for repairs—just think what would happen if some poorly written instructions caused the wrong wires to get crossed!
                      Wiens says he has found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test tend to make fewer mistakes in other work-related areas. Details do matter, and grammar is his litmus test to test potential employees’ capabilities. Anyone who wants to work for his company MUST pass the grammar test!’ Read Wiens’ complete blog, “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why,” which appears in the July 20, 2012 online issue of Harvard Business Review.

                      If you want to improve your grammar and writing skills, consider taking grammar review and business writing classes in the BOSS program. For more information contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


                      Use Hi-Tech Manners With Siri!

                      As with most new advances in technology, voice-interactive apps have opened the door to greater ease in getting some of our more basic business tasks accomplished that include making appointments, contacting others by phone or e-mail, or inquiring about simple facts. However, there are simple common sense rules that should be evident and that need to be observed when you are using voice interactive apps, whether they on a smartphone or tablet.

                      Siri, as one example, is the iPhone/iPad app that has helped usher users into the world of VPA (Virtual Personal Assistants). Using Siri means you can use your phone to issue a set of instructions and to then receive audio feedback from the device confirming or clarifying your verbal request.

                      Christina DesMarais from PCWorld offers users some helpful, practical tips for using Apple’s Siri without getting on everyone’s nerves around you:

                      1. Hold the phone up to your ear. This may sound like a “no brainer,” but there are people out there who use the speakerphone when uttering Siri commands. Don’t be found guilty of this faux pas!
                      2. Apply the standard 10-foot rule. If you are in a library, in a restaurant, or waiting in line to get a cheeseburger; remember, strangers don’t want to hear your Self/Siri conversation!
                      3. Be mindful of your audience when exploring Siri. Practically everyone who has the Siri app has probably tried asking it strange questions in order to get Siri’s response, which may be nonsensical or which may elicit a question from Siri indicating that it doesn’t understand you. Wait until you are in a solitary setting, or at least wait until you are surrounded by friends and family who love you and who don’t mind.
                      4. Tap when in public. Let your fingers do the work and tap in your question or command, if there’s the remote chance you might annoy those around you. The voice assistance feature is optional, so use good judgment.
                      5. Finally, don’t be a show-off! Save the grandstanding for something else. Use your Siri app when appropriate and for helping you with real productivity.

                      For more information on BOSS software offerings, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


                      Stay Organized by Using the Excel COUNTIFS Function

                      Have you ever been faced with the task of keeping a running tally of items that may have a change in status over time? If so, the COUNTIFS function can help you stay current with the status of your data/population.

                      Scenario: Let’s say your company has implemented a policy that requires all employees to attend a training session on safety and then to pass the safety exam that follows. Let’s say that employees are expected to attend the required training session, which will be offered over a five-month period during the year. Additionally, the exam must be taken and passed by the end of the calendar year.
                      If your company has different departments and wants to see how many people have attended one of the training sessions and also wants to find out how many people from the various departments have passed the exam, someone will need to go through the data periodically and determine who has attended by department and who has passed by department. This is not hard to do if you have a few employees, but let’s say there are over 200 people who work in the company, and remember they work in different departments! So much for tick marks!
                      The COUNTIFS function can help you look at multiple conditions at once. If you want to determine (1) who has attended by department and (2) who has actually passed the exam by department, the COUNTIFS (not to be confused with the COUNTIF function, which only looks at one condition) can be a life saver if you have large amounts of data to analyze.

                      However, there are two important guidelines that must be observed–(1) the ranges you are examining must be consistent in terms of the way data is entered, e.g., use the same case and wording—if you use IT once, then be consistent and type the same wording for this item—don’t type It. or it the next time; (2) the Criteria Ranges should be made absolute ranges, e.g., $C$3:$C$350 or the ranges should be given specific names so they remain constant when copied.

                      You will find as you update your data—in this example the date a session was attended and if a person passed the exam, you can get your updated information by totals for each department.
                      The “Percentage Completed by Department” was calculated by using the COUNTIF function of
                      =(E31/COUNTIF($C$2:$C$27,”IT”))
                      For more information on BOSS software offerings, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.

                      Customize and Adjust Your Word 2010 Settings (Part II)

                      In our July 30th post, you read about some ways to customize your Word 2010 application.  There are several more of these that might be of interest to you!

                      Along with changing the font defaults in Word 2010, you can also change layout defaults.  These include margins, orientation, and many others.  For example, open the Page Setup dialog box by clicking the launcher button in the Page Setup group on the Page Layout tab. (The launcher button is located in the bottom right corner of a group of buttons.  The group name is below the group of buttons.  The launch looks like a little arrow with a line to the top and left of it.)  After making your adjustments, click the “Save as Default” button, then choose Yes and hit the OK button.

                      Another customization you can make is to the Paragraph settings.  Use the keyboard shortcut Alt + O, then hit P to open the Paragraph dialog box.  You can also click on the Home tab and then on the Launcher in the Paragraph group to open it, too.  Change the spacing and other options, then click “Save as Default”, Yes, and OK.

                      One of the buttons that I really miss is the Autoformat command button. If someone sends you a horribly formatted document, the Autoformat feature can be a time-saver.  I’ve experienced this when someone sent me the text in the body of an email which I then had to add it into a Word document.   The Autoformat button is not on the ribbon in Word 2010 (nor was it in Word 2007).  You can bring back the button on the Quick Access toolbar, though.

                      The toolbar appears above the ribbon (directly over the File and Home tabs).  Click the down arrow at the right end of the toolbar.  Click More Commands.  You will see a drop-down menu under “Choose commands from”. Select “Commands Not In the Ribbon”.  Then, choose Autoformat, click the Add button, and then OK.  While you are here, add any other commands that you use regularly.

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                      For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


                      How to Link a Single PowerPoint Slide to Word or Excel 2007/2010
                      Have you ever had to prepare for a meeting and needed to enhance a Word or Excel report with one or two PowerPoint slides from an existing PowerPoint presentation?
                      You may already know how it is easy to create a link to a PowerPoint file within Word or Excel, but what if you don’t want to view the entire presentation? You will then find yourself “clicking through” the presentation to get to that meaningful slide, which just happens to be Slide 20! Furthermore, you should not be forced to make a separate presentation file for that all important slide or two you want to show your group at this event.
                      Ellen Finkelstein, who writes for the PC Pitstop Newsletter, has a great tip that can help you navigate quickly and easily from Word or Excel to that specific slide in PowerPoint.
                      Follow these steps to use this handy tip:
                      1. Suggestion: Put all of your Word/Excel and PowerPoint files for this project in the same folder.
                      2.  Open your PowerPoint presentation, go to the slide you want to link to Word/Excel, and note the the number of the slide, e.g., 6.
                      Tip: If you want the title of the slide to appear in the Tool Tip for the hyperlink, note the slide title as well, e.g., Contact Information.
                      3.  Then choose File Save As and change the file type to PowerPoint Show.
                      4.  Open your Word/Excel file, and go to the location in this file where the hyperlink will be inserted. You can either right click to get the shortcut menu, or use the Insert tab and choose Hyperlink.
                      5.  Once you are in the In the Insert Hyperlink dialog box, click the Existing File or Web Page button. Select the file—notice the icon is different for a PowerPoint Show than a regular PowerPoint presentation, and the file extensions are also different—.ppsx versus .pptx.
                      6. You’ll see the name of the file in the dialog box’s Address text box. If there are spaces in the file name, you may see %20 in place of the spaces. The HTML code for a space is %20, so just leave the codes as they are if they are found in name of your file.
                      7.  At the end of the file name in the Address box, add a # symbol, then the slide number. Depending on the configuration of your system, however, you may not have the %20 codes.
                      An example of the %20 codes might be: How%20To%20Link%20A%20Single%20Slide.ppsx#6.
                      Tip: To add a tool tip to your hyperlink back in your Word/Excel file, be sure you are still in the PowerPoint file, then click the Outline tab in the left-hand pane and copy and paste the slide title from so that it appears as the end of the name in the Address box. Tool Tips come in handy when you are hovering over a hyperlink because they help identify the specific link. In our example the title of the slide is Contact Information.  See an example in the illustration above.
                      8. When you have finished with the Hyperlink dialog box, click OK to return to your Word/Excel document.
                      9.  Test your hyperlink by holding the Ctrl key + clicking on the hyperlink on the text (or object in our case) to see it open to the specific slide in PowerPoint.
                      For more information on BOSS software offerings, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.