650 – All hands meetings


Even though Dilbert isn’t funny any more there have been some good ones in the past, satirising corporate life. People who used to be cubicle or office based might struggle to deal with the new reality that most office workers would rather not be in the office 5-days-a week, 9 to 5, yet bosses would prefer people to not be slacking off at home in their PJs.

Zoom, Teams and other platforms adopted a metaphor in an online meeting, where attendees can figuritively raise their hand so they can be asked to speak. It works well when the people running the meeting have the discipline to check that they don’t have a forest of lifted paws before asking, “are there any questions?” to their audience.


It helps if presenters are not doing the lowest-common-denominator thing of sharing their desktop to present slides. Using Teams’ own slide sharing means you can see the chat, and who’s joined, and whether they have their hand raised.

clip_image004Meeting participants also need to have the practice of raising their hand and waiting to be invited to talk, rather than blaring in to raise new topics or talk over others. Other attendees can also see who has their hand raised (look in the video gallery and you may notice those who have their hand raised are highlighted) and if you look in the People pane, you’ll see the order that attendees raised their hands as well, so if you’re the organizer then you can ask the top and most patient questioner to contribute at a point that makes sense.

A new etiquette has sprung up in hybrid meetings, though – how to balance commentary from remote attendees with chatter that’s happening in the room? Ordinarily, you’d rely on body language in a meeting room to decide it’s time to interject, nodding and perhaps making hand gestures yourself.

When some / half / most of the attendees are remote but you’re in the physical meeting room, it might be prudent to actually join the same Teams meeting on your PC – you’d only be sitting in the room looking at email on your screen anyway – and use the hand raise function before speaking, even if you’re sitting next to other contributors. This way, you’re on the same footing as all the remote attendees and it shows that you are at least giving the pretence of thinking about them too.

clip_image006When joining a Teams meeting on your PC, there’s a yeah-yeah dialog box which pops up just before entering the “room”, which presents various potentially relevant audio related options. The norm would be to use comptuer audio, then select what speakers/mic you want to use.

These join options can also give you a number to dial in to (or be called by the meeting, so you can stay silent and camera-less on somebody else’s dollar).

If you’re the first to join while in a physical Teams Room, you could bring the room system into your meeting and control it from your machine.

clip_image008If you are a bod in the room, though, then choose “Don’t use audio” to avoid any mic or speaker issues, causing endless echo. That way, you can enter the online meeting while being in the actual room, interact with other attendees on chat and use features like reactions and hand raising just as if you’re sitting at home.

Just remember that you are, actually, in front of other people, and also remember to change the default option back to “Computer audio” next time you enter a truly remote meeting, or you’ll spend the first few minutes saying “hello, hello? Can you hear me…?”

649 – Exploring SharePoint libraries

clip_image002SharePoint is now old enough that it could walk into a bar and buy itself a beer. It has changed a lot over the versions; starting out as a server product that would produce “portals” (or “digital dashboards”) it grew quickly to being rather more document-centric. SharePoint became the back-end for OneDrive for Business storage, and both have evolved a long way.

Two years ago, SharePoint was said to be used by over 200 million users. The following year, the Gartner MQ had it way out in front on the “Ability to Execute” Y-axis and slightly behind only one other supplier on the “Completeness of Vision” X-axis. It won’t be long now for the next MQ report to appear.

Nowadays, SharePoint underpins quite a lot of Microsoft 365 functionality, such as apps like Lists which provide a groovier UI over the top of the base web services, and the document oriented collab in Teams.

clip_image004If you look at a file library in Teams, you’ll see a bunch of SharePoint-y options – you can Sync the content offline and it will be held offline, using OneDrive to sync it (and if you like, syncing only the files you’ve opened rather than the whole shebang).

clip_image006The Sync’ed libraries show up in the Windows Explorer app, and in any number of applications’ File | Open / Save dialog boxes, so you can access and interact with the files through the apps you use rather than browsing to SharePoint.

You’ll see a collection of folders that have been set up to Sync, shown with your organization name, alongside any personal OneDrive and OneDrive for Business synced libraries.

The Download option (next to Sync on the Toolbar in Teams), creates a single ZIP file your computer, with the entire contents of the folder you’re looking at, so use it carefully.

clip_image008One somewhat overlooked option further to the right of the toolbar (or may be on the ellipsis (“…”) menu): Add shortcut to OneDrive. This creates a shortcut link to the current SharePoint folder within your main OneDrive for Business storage, making it easy to find that SharePoint folder in the future, even though it’s not synced offline. The Add shortcut option is also visible on the ellipsis to the right of sub-folders when viewed in SharePoint or Teams.

Don’t add shortcuts to libraries – or sub-folders – which are already being Synced offline. That would be bad.

One downside to the OneDrive shortcut approach is that it just dumps the link into “My Files”, which is the root folder in OneDrive. The shortcut is named the same as the original source – so if you have lots of Teams folders with the same name (eg “Documents”), they will clash with each other as adding a new link would try to create a shortcut with the same name as one that exists already.


One solution would be to create a subfolder in OneDrive, called Sites (or similar), and after creating the shortcut to your latest Teams/SharePoint site, go to the root OneDrive folder and move your new shortcut – maybe renaming it too, so you can see what its parent site was (since the shortcut doesn’t make it clear what the source SharePoint site is) – you’d then have a Sites folder with lots of Shortcuts like Project Team – Documents etc.

Another side benefit of using shortcuts rather than Syncing offline, is that if you have multiple PCs – or feel like accessing OneDrive through a browser on a different machine altogether – you will always have access to the same collection of shortcuts, whereas the Sync offline capability is configured separately on each machine.

648 – F’ing Home Networks


The profusion of wireless devices – from PCs and phones, to all kinds of internet-of-stuff, has exploded in recent years.

IoT reached peak buzzword in 2014/5 and analysts predicted 200+ billion t’Ings would be internet-connected by 2020. Unsurprisingly, they were wrong by a factor of 5 or maybe 10.

Still, few people probably imagined they’d have dozens of electronic devices in their own home which connect themselves to the internet. Do you know how many things you have? Careful people might have a separate network isolated from the rest of their house just to host all their connected stuff, reducing the risk of attack from the unknown services that sit behind their internet-connected radiators, washing machines or home automation rigs.

clip_image003You probably have a lot of Wi-Fi enabled kit, using TCP/IP to connect through your home router. Do you really know how many there are? If you log onto your own router’s admin page, you can probably see everything that has been given a network address – maybe you’ll see the IP address assigned, and the unique MAC address which the device has presented to identify itself.

Figuring out what is what can be one of the minor annoyances that leads people to such crazy actions as not renaming their home router SSID or changing its default password.

clip_image005If you’re not all that interested in managing addresses on your home network, you may still want to peer into what is on it and why. Never mind joining your laptop to a guest network – what else is there, too?

A neat app called Fing has been listed in the Windows Store, which gives an analysis of your network, using a source database to tell you what other machines are there. The unique physical address that each device presents usually contains a reference to its manufacturer, and Fing has some logic to figure out which is what, so you’ll get a description for most or all of the devices, with unknown ones flagged as worthy of investigation.

You do need to sign up to use the app, but once you’ve done so, it will show an intersting view of your network. Some premium paid-for features in proactive security monitoring and in-depth reportingmay tempt you to spend a few montly £ to see what they could do for you.

clip_image007There are lots of other freemium tools in the Store which can help understand or even troubleshoot the network(s) you have at home – WiFi Analyzer, for example, will show you lists and graphs of all the wireless networks it can see in your vicinity.

647 – Power of the Toys

imageAfter Windows 95 appeared on 25 August 1995, one of the later updates was to release a bunch of tweaks and addons which had been built to enhance the OS, but not considered mainstream enough to include them in the box – the Windows 95 PowerToys. They included such amazing advances as a round clock, or tools to help manage the country of your modem. Some more history of the PowerToys was covered back in 2005 by veteran commentator Raymond Chen.

In 2019, the Power Toys name was dusted down for a new run at building addins to Windows, this time using an open source approach; the vision document lays out what the team wants to achieve, and they are steadily releasing new versions with fixes, improvements and new features. You can find Power Toys in the Microsoft Store, or if you like to do to prove your geek creds, you can go straight to GitHub and clip_image002download it.

Recently, v0.62 came out and added some new functions, like a draggable box (Screen Ruler) which shows you the exact number of pixels between the start point and the mouse – useful if you’re looking to figure out how large a part of your screen is.

There’s clip_image004a neat Text Extractor tool which can take a selected area of an image and read the text within it straight to the clipboard – handy if you needed to get the serial number from a piece of electronics; take a picture on your mobile of the tiny writing on the back of the device, and quickly extract the details for pasting into some other app or website.

Other PowerToys of note include the Mouse Utilities, which can help find the mouse on screen – a double-tap of the CTRL key and you’ll get a temporary spotlight on the mouse, which can be super useful if you have multiple monitors and are not quite sure where the pointer has gone.

646 – Finding stuff in OneNote

clip_image002[6]Many people ❤️ OneNote. It has evolved much over the ~20 years since it sprang from the “Scribbler” project at the turn of the century and was released in the Office 2003 wave, under the name which the developers disdainfully referred to as “Onay-no-tay”. A recent update to the OneNote strategy for Windows was covered in Tip #632.

clip_image004[4]There were other OneNote tips a few weeks previously, in Tip #617, including OneTastic, a great addin to the traditional desktop app – the Metro Modern app never had an addin capability.

As well as powerful macro capabilities, which can do things like generate tables of contents or sort pages and other works in ways that the base app doesn’t offer, the OneTastic addin includes the OneCalendar application – also available to install separately – which lets you see which OneNote pages were edited on each day.

If you keep a note of every meeting, stored in different places – by topic, by customer etc – then this is invaluable when it comes to finding notes, as you can see what you last wrote on a given day.

Of course, OneNote has searching capability where you could look across notebooks for key words. There is the ability to Tag notes too, and you can search across notebooks for tagged content.

clip_image006[4]A powerful yet somewhat hidden search capability in desktop OneNote is also available – you can press CTRL+F to search on a given page, or CTRL+E to run a simple query across multiple places, for where a particular word is mentioned.

clip_image008[4]Look, however, at the “Pin Search Results (Alt+O)” option at the bottom – it opens search results in a pane to the side, and lets you sort by different criteria, e.g. date modified.

This ALT+O option can only be invoked from within existing search results, so if you want to find all your recent notes with a searched-for word, press CTRL+E to start, then ALT+O and search by date modified to see the results clustered by month.