Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How to reduce the file size of an excel file

I have read a numerous tutorials in the web on techniques to reduce file size.

Some of it work okay but not to my satisfactory. I will show those that work first and then I will show my own simple way that works better.

Method I found in the web that works but not very well and comes with cons. 

- Save your excel file in binary format. Click save as, select Excel Binary Workbook. This however means it will change the format of your file and binary file format is not amendable unless you save as another file format again.

Method I found that works better 

- Highlight the last row and drag until the very far bottom row of the sheet. Then, select "Delete". The further you go the better.

- Highlight the last column and drag until the very far bottom column of the sheet. Then, select "Delete". The further you go the better.

Once it is done. Click Save. You should able to reclaim your file size back to small one.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Microsoft Project - The How To Series that Project Manager too embarrassed to ask. (part 2) - Where is the WBS in Microsoft Project?

In the PMBOK project management process groups and knowledge areas. For what ever projects that you are about to embark on planning process group, you will need to create the WBS under project scope management. However, when you think you are already using the industry most commonly used project management software - Ms Project. You simply can't find a way to start working on it using the software. You are like, WTF....
In fact, if you do a bit of Google here and there, you will end up getting search result suggesting you to buy another software that sits on top of Ms Project. The software is not bad but shouldn't WBS a fundamental of project planning? How could Microsoft miss out on this.

I am not going to elaborate about the purpose of WBS, what are the details of it and how is it going to be applied. For that, you can refer to PMBOK or any project management web sites for details.

What I am going to discuss about is the way to do WBS using Ms Project. And the items that I plan to add into the mpp which is below
- WBS Level
- WBS Code Numbers
- WBS Dictionary
- Work Package

Ms Project actually has WBS functions in it, but it is in a very obscured places. In fact, the method that I going to show you do look like a hack in my view.
Ok, let's get it started.
To enable this, you would need to add in the column to your Ms Projet mpp file.
Column to add is
- WBS predecessor
- WBS successor
- Note

Once you have done adding the column, I would suggest to reorganize your columns so then WBS starts first, then Note, WBS predecessor and WBS successor. Anyway, it is your preference how you would like to sort it, I am suggesting this because it is easier to read the plan.

Then, once you have done all these, you should have the basic means to do WBS Level, WBS Code Numbers, WBS Dictionary and Work Package.

So, how to do WBS Level?
The way to do is to use WBS column and the use of indent/outdent task to arrange your WBS level, so, the highest level of WBS would be the one in the outdent task. Work packages would be in your most inner indent task.  However, your WBS Code Number is important to match with your WBS level, so, your WBS column which should be used to store WBS Code Number has to match your level that you have indent to be consistent.
Ms Project will recognize your WBS Code Number and auto increment for you. Say if you WBS is 1.1.1, when you add a new task underneath, the new task WBS Code Number would be 1.1.2.

Now, you have WBS Level and WBS Code Number, what about dictionary. I would suggest to use the Note in the task for your write up. It can be short or long, it is up to you but having the column Note available so then you do not need to click one by one of the task to see the details.

The WBS predessor and WBS successor are useful for you to do the project time management activities later which is sequence activities. However, it is entirely up to you if you want to put it in.
I find looking at the Gantt chart is much more straightforward than doing this way.

So, that is all you need to do to have a WBS features in your Ms Project. Happy project management. Cheers.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Microsoft Project - The How To Series that Project Manager too embarrassed to ask (part 1) - How to print gantt chart and rename resource?

I often times want to do certain things in Microsoft Project that is supposed to be trivial but I always end up I could not find that particular command or function based on my current habit of looking up for things. Even I tried to google for answer but it just returns irrelevant stuff. I suppose these are consider too trivial or too shy for people to ask this sort of questions.

So, this article is meant for anyone who shares the same trait like me. Bumping into simple stuff in Microsoft Project that need a quick answer without having to attend formal Microsoft Project training.

1. How to rename the resource in the project?

Resource is the usually the team member of the project, it could also be machine or what ever that are required for the tasks to be carried out.

The default view of Microsoft Project is Gantt Chart, so, whenever someone wants to rename assigned resource for the task, usually you will just double click on the task and go to "Resources" of the task to attempt to rename the resource. However, by doing so will only add another resource into the resource pool and not renaming the original resource name.

The proper way of doing this should be going to Team Planner view or Resource Sheet view. Double click on the resource in Resource Name column there and rename it in the show up Resource Information form.

2. How to print the project gantt chart in full page and not multiple section spread out many pages?

The way how Microsoft Project interprets what needs to be printed is what you see in your current windows of your gantt chart. So, if you current viewing of the gantt chart on your monitor is already obscured in your monitor. Most likely it be the same of worse in printer. However, you would have to take into the account of your monitor size, if you monitor size if is like 19 inches or more, then, you would probably want to adjust the expectation on that when you print it in the printer.

The way i would recommend is to hide those unwanted columns in your current ganth chart view like Task Mode column and Indicator column. Also, hide the predessors column too because you can see the relationship in the gantt chart.

Then, the next thing you should do is to reduce the font size of your column. Click on the left top most cell of the tasks table and change it to smaller font size. After that, change your time scale larger scale like weeks or month. As long as you get to see the chart you want and it is not too small.

The last step is then click on Print menu, look for Page Setup link button at the bottom right corner. Click on it, you should see the Page Setup window. Change your scaling to "Fit to 1 pages wide by 1 tall. (What ever preference that you have). That is all the steps needed.

3. How to print the timeline without the gantt chart?

If you want to print only the tasks and excluding the Gantt chart. Click on the print menu, then, in the "Settings",   look for "Print Entire Project", click on that combobox. Then, you will see "Left Columns of Pages Only". Check on that and it will print only the timeline excluding the gantt chart.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Making all the sticky notes in Outlook 2010 to appear sticky again

I use sticky notes for one reason is that it will stay sticking on my screen until I have decided to remove it.
The Microsoft Outlook the moment you create the sticky note, it will stay on top of the screen. However, when you have switch off your machine or close your Outllook application. The sticky notes will go disappear itself. You have to reopen one by one in the Outlook again to make it sticky on top again. Imagine if you have tons of sticky notes in your notes folder. 
Of course for the case of Microsoft Outlook, if you want to quickly check back what you have put into the note is that you can change the view of the Sticky Note folder to list. But then again, that defeat the purpose of me using sticky note. That is not the reason why I use a sticky note, I might as well use task or something else in Outlook for that purpose.

So, here goes my solution which is to make use of Office VBA macros. It is not a daunted task as you may think, just a little bit of google search here and there you will be able to do this.

So, create a macro in Outlook by clicking on Developer tab, and click on Visual Basic. Then, right click on Project1 in the Project Pane on your left and select Insert Module. Double click on Module1 and add the following codes into it.

Public Sub OpenAllNotes()
    Dim app As Outlook.Application
    Dim ns As Outlook.NameSpace
    Dim noteFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder
    Dim collectionItems As Outlook.Items
    Dim objNote As Outlook.NoteItem
    Set app = New Outlook.Application
    Set ns = app.GetNamespace("MAPI")
    Set noteFolder = ns.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderNotes)
    Set collectionItems = noteFolder.Items
    For Each objNote In collectionItems
    Next objNote
End Sub

Public Sub CloseAllNotes()
    Dim app As Outlook.Application
    Dim ns As Outlook.NameSpace
    Dim noteFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder
    Dim collectionItems As Outlook.Items
    Dim objNote As Outlook.NoteItem
    Set app = New Outlook.Application
    Set ns = app.GetNamespace("MAPI")
    Set noteFolder = ns.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderNotes)
    Set collectionItems = noteFolder.Items
    For Each objNote In collectionItems
       objNote.Close (olSave)
    Next objNote
End Sub

Then, click save. After that, right click on the Ribbon on top and select "Customize the Ribbon".
In the "Choose commands from:", pick "Macro".
Then, you should be able to see "Module1.OpenAllNotes" and "Module1.CloseAllNotes"
Just select both and "Add >>". Then click OK button at the bottom.

Now, you are done with the setting. At any point of time you need to make all your sticky note sticky on your desktop, just click on the new buttons that you have created - OpenAllNotes.
On the other hand, if you want to close all the notes, just click on CloseAllNotes.

That's all. Enjoy. 

(Note: Some of the Outlook administrator will configure the Outlook to disable macros execution by default. That will prevent your macros from running.

To enable the macros you have just created. For Outlook 2010,  go to Files - Options - Trust Center - Trust Center Settings. Then go to Macro Settings, select Notifications for all Macros and click OK button.
After that, restart your Outlook and try to run the macro again. The system will prompt for the permission to execute the Macro, just click Yes or Allowed and next time, it will not prompt again. If you want to make that go away permanently, you can digitally sign your Outlook macro project with self signing. The details you can refer to http://office.microsoft.com/en-001/outlook-help/digitally-sign-a-macro-project-HA001231781.aspx)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ways to get more system storage for Android phones

There are a lot of ways to clean your storage so then to get more storage for new app installation.
If you search in market, you get a array of these kind of apps. Before we talk about cleaning storage. Lets talk about why we need to house keeping sometimes.
It is good to have extra system storage, not just for you to install more apps or place personal data.
In fact, by having more extra system storage will prevent running into hanging issue for your Android phone.
The reason being that some apps will generate temporary files when it performs some tasks in the phone, depending on how good is the developer of the app. If they do not do a proper exception handling in their code, if the phone run into cases that the system storage has run out, the app might cause the entire phone to hang.

So, it is important to ensure there are ample amount of system storage available in your Android phone.

OK, here goes the real topic of how to get more system storage for your phone.

My approach of doing the cleaning of storage is not those typical do one thing and all your issue will go away kind of approach. So, if you are looking for quick solution, this article might not suit you.

If you have done a simple search in Android - Google Play (market). You will get a list of available apps to help you to clean the unwanted leftover files in your Android phone. You should use that first to help to clean up the storage. However, please ensure you use the one with the most existing users and the one with most comments. Although others with little comments will work well too, but having a lot of comments give you the idea what are the side effects others have run into that you can refer on and trying to avoid. The other thing is that the storage cleaner is not a magical solution by the developer. It is a accumulated learning by experience (through complaints from users) from the developer when they craft out the ways to clean the memory. So, the more complaints or rather, tests been conducted on various model. The more reliable the solution will get. One thing many people always overlook when doing storage clean up is the side effect.
Anyone can come out with the storage clean up, but the side effect or rather aftermath is more important than your storage gets clean up often time.
Issues like missing data, missing precious contacts or personal stuff will creep up if you use a not so mature app to clean up stuff for you.

Ok, perhaps you have done some cleaning using some apps and yet the result is still undesirable. What should you do next?

In a phone, if your phone support external storage like MicroSD card slot. Your storage will be divided into 3 main zones.
 - System storage
- USB storage
- SD card

The most precious one would be System Storage. Try to reserve more for system storage. Your android phone need this for most of the tasks in the system.

First thing, you should look for a software which could help to list out what are the area in your phone that took up the most storage. A place to start could be your Android storage info. (In Settings - Storage)
Android provide a good breakdown of what are the stuff that take up the most storage. From there, you can make a decision to remove unwanted data from your phone. However, before doing this, you should always backup your data. There are a lot of back up app out  there to help you like Avast data backup and many more.

Once you have done that, next thing should be to remove unwanted apps that take up the storage in system side. Remove unwanted apps that take up the most System Storage. You can find this information using some App like AppMgr III or Move2SD and many more. If the app detected that your app is safe to move to SD slot, you should do it to save some storage. However, ensure by doing this would not cause your phone to be unstable. Some phones tend to be unstable when you have apps in SD slot. It could either the app developer issues or the phone hardware/software issues.

Next, once you have done all the above, try to reinstall again your again or by cleaning the data for your app.
The reason is that Android Market enable the instant upgrade of your app. Developer will dispatch upgrade fastest daily or weekly so you get the latest upgrade you want. However, the is a downside that most people do not realize.
First off, a proper software development circle require a full development and testing cycle from various aspect. Unless otherwise the app development that have a highly complete testing cycle. It is not possible to test on various kind of settings like
- You are upgrading from version 1 to version 7 (skipping 6 versions because may be you decided to do this after a long time)
- You have some unanticipated data in your app. When upgrading from one version to another, it might not get migrated correctly or the migration do not work well.

Stability of app aside since this article is about storage. Upgrading one version to another and many version accumulate will have tendency for you to accumulate rubbish in your phone.
You would need to clean the data. But make sure you have back up your data for your app before hand.
The other thing is that you uninstall and then install. (not upgrade, upgrage would not help)

A simple thing i tried is to clean up data for my Facebook app. After the cleaning of data. My phone instantly has excess of system storage. The Facebook has accumulated piles of unused files in Data of the app that is left occupying my system storage.

You can try to do this for other app. Preferrably those App with web site that store your personal data like Facebook, Twitter, Emailing apps like Hotmail, Gmail and etc.
These apps are having a centralized data in their server. Once you clean your data in your phone, it will synchronize back to your phone once you set up the account back in your phone.

Saw a tip to clear some more space by removing the log. This will also help to clear system storage further.

Try punching in *#9900# on keypad and choose option 2 (Delete dumpstate/logcat).
(Source: http://forums.androidcentral.com/samsung-galaxy-s-ii/266821-storage-space-running-low.html)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Evernote VS OneNote

I was running into situation to pick either OneNote or Evernote for my exam preparation.

Version that I am using to compare are
- Evernote 5.3 Windows version and  Evernote for Android Mobile.
- OneNote 2013 and OneNote2010. I synchronize across few version of OneNote for the same stuff. And then, OneNote for Android recently launched.

Experience on the software wise, I have used both OneNote and Evernote for years. Although I have to be frank that, due to heavy duty of notes that I am taking and I am using Windows on my PC. I used OneNote more often. Evernote I came across this because of its popularity in Android community.
My feeling towards both of the software are,  features wise, Onenote wins Evernote hands down.
Evernote I would say currently it only carries a subset of features what Onenote has.
Ranging from tagging, Onenote has ways more in term of doing a tagging like it allows tagging by a selected text in a paragraph. Not just by page. Evernote however uses tag extensively in the search and the organizing of information.
For grouping of information, Onenotes has notebook, section group, section, page, sub page. For Evernote, it has Notebook stack, notebook, and note.
Onenote also has this OCR feature whereby you can scan for text in a image snapshot in the software. Although I never found I need to use this feature. The last I heard is that OneNote going to get the OOM (object oriented modelling) much like its Microsoft Office Siblings. This allows heavy duty integration with Office Applications. The feature list of OneNote can go on and on.

However, in term of Integrated nicely with gadget like handphone.
Evernote wins on details like
- Small memory and storage footprint
- Intelligent synchronization with small data bandwidth usage
- Nifty web clipper for browser with a variety of options and best part of all, the outcome of clipping is nice. (Onenote version is just a screen capture, c'mon, you can do better than this? Some more the outcome is like meant for robot reading and not meant for human because no proper format adjustment for readability)\
- The Evernote is more suitable for Handphone users because of it is design for handphone. In fact, that is how Evernote got popular in the first place. Its compatibility and ergonomic design that is more suited for handphone usage like typing or editing using finger and swiping. OneNote on the other hand is designed for PC with keyboards. If you have keyboard and mouse with you and gearing towards keyboard crunching. Then OneNote is for you. Even in the Android version of OneNote, you can feel that it is merely cramming a Windows version of OneNote into a Android phone. My experience of using this is that I often time have the tendency of accidentally erase or edit the content of my notes while using it because it follows the traits of Windows version which is easily editable at any places. For  clumsy fingers touching on a phone, this often time triggers unnecessary editing. Furthermore, the Android OS does not have undo function built in. OneNote saves itself whenever you edit something. This makes thing worse. Whatever mistakes you made with your clumsy fingers get saved and synchronized over to all other devices. (A nightmare if you are having some important notes taken. Although OneNote does have this version history kept somewhere. But having to retrieve this very often is just annoying.)

So, in short.
Evernote forte is still remain in Android and IOS (I have never used it in iPhone, just words of mouth people saying it is good for iPhone too). OneNote on the other hand is still designed for Windows platform or PC.
If you are doing heavy notes taking, OneNote is for you with a host of features that you can use to organize the information.
On the other hand, if you need an agile and on-the-go type of notes taking, Evernote by far is a better choice.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ways to fix your Android (Samsung Galaxy S2) that hangs or becomes unstable

I read numerous posts or discussions in the internet forums or android/Samsung support site about how to fix the android phone problems (software related that could cause hardware to fail) . Most of the solutions coming back are like rooting, reset to factory default settings and etc. I am not sure about others but to me, the stuff most important in a phone are below.
 - Settings I have spent time putting into the phone itself, not just apps(that includes icons in the home screen, folder that stores apps, short cuts/customization that fit my style of using the phone and etc)
- Apps that I have already installed and comes with my data in it.  Apps that i have spent time configuring, store personal stuff in it. Not to mention those I have spent $$ on it.
  (If you have purchased the app from Google Play, chances are you get to re-download the app for free but if you purchased it from else where, then, good luck to you. )
- Phone data (like contacts, calendar, notes, photo, sms (text) and etc)
- Phone warranty.

Drastic stuff like the rooting, reset to factory settings are no no for me. In fact, it is like using a PC and the technician always come back with proposed solution for all the PC problem like virus, windows unstable and etc is just format your PC and re-install everything from scratch. In fact, i went to Samsung service center to request for repair and that is the solution they are proposing. This is actually quite disappointing. You don't need to chop off a tree simply because there is a little worm in it. Just catch the worm.

Following my priority list, I can formulate few basic things that i would like to achieve/avoid while solving the phone problems
 - No rooting because I am using a phone that comes with software that have warranty from manufacturer. Hacking would not make it better and might void the warranty.
  - No reinstalling all the applications that I have already purchased or installed. It might cause second purchase required.
 - Keeping the data and not resort into using the backup and restoring which the restore itself does not guarantee 100% restoration. (Ask anyone, no one can guarantee 100% recovery. )
- No factory reset.

With that, the only way to solve my problem is to fix problem by trial and error (What? trial and error you will ask. Of course, this is no ordinary trial and error. It has some technical reason to it based on my technical experience. Also some logical reason. )

The ways that i have found working for me so far is below. It has to follow the order from top to bottom.

1. Is the problem a permanent problem now? Sometimes, some problems could be caused by temporary issues like not enough memory, cache not refresh and etc. To be safe not to do anything drastic before confirming it is  a problem. I would normally restart my phone few times at least to see if the problem persist.

2. What was the last thing that I did to the phone. (in term of software/apps). You need to remember what was the last thing that you did to your phone that cause it to become unstable.And then, try to undo the action. Like an issue start to arise after you install an app, you should uninstall the app to see if the problem will go away. If an issue happen once you update an app. Uninstall the app altogether because you can't undo the update. For settings like you tamper the apps to move it to SD memory, then, try to undo that by moving it back to phone memory.

3.  Check for any third party system applications / advanced applications that claimed can do a lot of customization or advanced features to your phone. Like your anti virus, your contact/file hider, radical face lift to your phone. Uninstall these kinds of apps because the more advanced the apps, the likelihood that it has the power to stir your phone into becoming unstable is higher. So, uninstall all these kinds of apps from your phone. Sometimes, these apps work fine at first but at some point of time it starts to cripple and cause issues that you are not aware it is coming from them. Because these apps are powerful, any slightly mistakes in the design or functionality would have big impact. (Stuff like memory leak that only will happen after some time. Writing or performing some changes to system or files improperly. File becomes corrupted bits by bits and etc) So, the likelihood is higher for these kind apps to cause your phone to hang.

4. Android phone for some reasons have issues with Micro SD  extension. It could be related to File Allocation Table or storage management issue.  In fact, if you have apps moved to Micro SD and later you update the apps in the market. You will get weird and instability issues coming. I have experienced that. And the ways to solve it is not easy because the phone keep on hanging. It has to be done slowly and carefully before the phone hang. Basically, what i did is try to move the app to phone memory again and move it back to Micro SD. Then, restart your phone. If that does not help. The final resort would be uninstalling it. You would only need to uninstall the apps that you recently update that cause the problem. Not everything.  One more thing, normally, when the app become corrupted or can cause the phone to become unstable. There is a indicator for these kind of apps. (based on my past observations). In fact, I have just gotten one phone hang problem recently and that is the indicator that I observed. I got it fixed by uninstalling it and re-installing it back.

  First indicator is that the icon application has defaced. (like app icon turns into Android default icon). The application you can still run it but it just that your phone now is unstable.
  Second indicator is that the app that you put in the front of the home screen get removed itself. Try to put the app in front of the home screen and after restarted of your phone, it gets disappeared. The application you can still run it but it just that your phone now is unstable.

5. Try to free up some space in your phone, try to maintain at least 20% free space in system storage and 10% on your SD card. When your android phone is running out of storage, it will behave in a abnormal way by constantly try to look for free space for everything you are trying to do in your phone. You can also refer to my article on clearing up space.

6. Try to uninstall apps one at a time, then check if things improved. You might need to restart your phone every time when you uninstall an app. You should reach a point when all your apps are uninstalled.
When that is the case for you, perhaps you should consider backing up your data like contacts and photos and factory reset your phone.

7. Try to get the firmware upgrade. The firmware upgrade is kind of like reinstalling the phone OS. However, you need to uninstall all the system apps or advanced apps from your phone before proceed into this because newer version of firmware might not work well with those older version of system apps / advanced apps. Other reason is that those system apps that you have installed might get replaced by the new functionality of the new Android OS. It might crash with the OS itself. So, better to uninstall all the system or advanced apps from your phone.

If all the above does not help in resolving your problem. (Which it has never failed on me so far) Then, your problem is really dead serious and that you need to factory reset your phone.