Author Archive

Smartphones and Smarter Cars

Today’s cars are getting “smarter”.  Cars have all kinds of technology to make our lives easier: GPS, Bluetooth, address book & calendar syncing, etc.

Here are a few things to think about when selling or trading in your car:

  • Remove saved places from your navigation system (especially your home address)
  • Remove all your mobile phones from listed Bluetooth devices
  • Remove contacts from vehicles address book (if your car saves them independently of your phone)
    • Reset your built-in garage door opener (you can find instructions in the vehicle’s manual for resetting the garage door opener).
  • Perform a Master Reset
    • Most systems will have some sort of a “Master Reset” that should take care of most of this for you, but you’ll want to double check, just in case.

This advice would apply to rental cars as well. If you link your phone with the vehicle’s Bluetooth or use the in car navigation, make sure you remove your phone from the device list or perform a master reset.

We just purchased a used car. I started poking around in the system to learn it better. I found the previous owners home address, phone number, first name, and that she used an iPhone. I suspect that the built in garage door opener was also still programmed for her home.

Preventing Amazon from delivering on the weekend

For some time now I’ve been wanting to stop Amazon from delivering to our house on Sundays. I finally looked into it and found these weekend delivery options:


Here’s how to change it:

  1. From a full web browser (Not mobile app) Login
  2. Select ‘Your Account’
  3. Select ‘Manage Shipping Address’ (right side of page)
  4. Default Address and 1-Click Settings
  5. Click ‘Edit’
  6. Un-check the days you don’t want Amazon to deliver.
  7. Click Save & Continue

Disclaimer: I’ve just changed this for our account so I have yet to actually see it work.

Importing Outlook 2010 Notes into OneNote 2010 – GTD

Background

At the beginning of the year our company switch from Blackberry devices to iPhone. This caused my GTD productivity to drop significantly. I heavily relied upon the integration between the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES), the Blackberry device, and Microsoft Outlook for my GTD effectiveness. The David Allen Company (DavidCo), that produces GTD, provided several guides integrating the systems from an end user perspective. I used following guides: GTD & BlackBerry, and GTD & Outlook (2007) (2010).  In the “Getting Things Done” book David Allen defines a project as: “…any commitment that takes more than one step to complete…”) I heavily rely on Outlook Tasks and Notes. I use Tasks to manage projects and Notes to manage lists. In these two sections of Outlook, I rely heavily on the ability to categorize them using Outlook categories.

The biggest problem with moving to the iPhone is that it has very poor, integration with Outlook Tasks. The iPhone does sync Tasks via Exchange ActiveSync, however, it does not support the syncing of Outlook categories. The iPhone also does not support the syncing Outlook Notes, including the categories. (Perhaps these are Active-Sync limitation, not sure).

I needed to find an alternate application to manage projects and lists. I need the application to be free and be available on my PC and my iPhone. Enter Microsoft OneNote. OneNote is included with the version of Microsoft Office 2010 that my company uses. There is also an iPhone app for OneNote. DavidCo does not have a OneNote setup guide. A quick Internet search found series of posts called “GTD with Outlook 2010 and OneNote 2010“. I used this guide to setup OneNote and link tasks to Outlook tasks. I also setup my default OneNote notebook to be on my Microsoft SkyDrive, so that I can access it on my iPhone. This allows me to have all the category and filtering ability that the iPhone lacks natively.

Importing Outlook 2010 Notes into OneNote 2010

There doesn’t appear to be a native import feature in OneNote or Outlook that will preserve categories. A few Internet searches found that this can be accomlished in two steps. I found that it is best to make sure everything is categorized properly first. Also, this is a good time to review your Notes lists for anything that is out of date and delete them.

  1. Cleanup lists – delete anything that is no longer needed and make sure everything is categorized properly.
  2. Export the Outlook Notes to .txt files in a folder on your PC (Article – Code to Export)
  3. Import .txt files into OneNote. (Article – Download Importer)

The .txt file names will be created using the first line of the Outlook Note. Something to note is that some characters are not valid in Windows file names. The script will change invalid characters to a hyphen.

Exporting Notes to .txt Files

This requires the use of VBA for Outlook.

  1. Start Outlook
  2. Hit Alt + F11
  3. In the left pane, drill down and select “This Outlook Session”
  4. Enter the Code below into the Code Section
  5. When done, you will have a new folder on your C Drive called “MyOutlookNotes. It will contain a subfolder for each category and each Note will be in it’s own.

 


Code for pasting into VBA for Outlook

Sub ExportNotes()

'WJ Pommersheim Dec 23, 2010

'Exports all of Outlook Notes (text) into text files,

'with separate folders for each category.

'These will be in c:\MyOutlookNotes, with subfolders by category

Dim fname As String, ibi As Integer

Dim myNote As Folder, myItem As NoteItem

Dim TopDir As String, TheCat As String

 TopDir = "c:\MyOutlookNotes\"

 If Len(Dir(TopDir, vbDirectory)) = 0 Then MkDir TopDir 'create top directory if necessary

 Set myNote = Application.GetNamespace("MAPI").GetDefaultFolder(olFolderNotes)

 For ibi = 1 To myNote.Items.Count

 ChDir TopDir

 If myNote.Items(ibi).Class = olNote Then    'Text notes only

 Set myItem = myNote.Items(ibi)

 TheCat = Replace(myItem.Categories, "/", "-")

 fname = Replace(Replace(Replace(Replace(Replace(myItem.Subject, "\", "-"), "[", "("), "]", ")"), ":", ""), Chr$(34), Chr$(39))

 fname = Trim(Replace(Replace(Replace(Replace(fname, "/", "-"), "?", ""), "*", ""), Chr$(9), ""))

 fname = myItem.Subject

 If Right(fname, 1) = ")" Then fname = Left(fname, Len(myItem.Subject) - 3)  'Remove (#) if present

 fname = Right(fname, Len(fname) - InStr(fname, "\"))    'Remove folder text if present (old PDA format)

 If Len(Dir(TheCat, vbDirectory)) = 0 Then MkDir TheCat 'Need to create directory

 ChDir TopDir & TheCat

 Open fname & ".txt" For Output As #1  'This only saves note text, whereas item.SaveAs adds mod date, category

 Print #1, myItem.Body

 Close #1

 End If

 Next

End Sub

Import Text Files into OneNote 2010

The importer application and steps can be found here. Something to note is that each category will create a new OneNote Section and each individual Note will be a new page in that section. Also, you will need to rerun the import for each category.

  1. Launch the Text File Importer
  2. Point it to the folder that was created during the earlier export.

Once a category finishes importing, you should see a Done! dialog box.

Here, you can see the new OneNote Section with the 3 pages that were created for each Note.

Here you can see that I filed all the newly imported Sections into a Section group called Lists

Conclusion

I now have all my lists available to my in OnNote and they are finally available on my iPhone via the OneNote application.

How to Make Great Char Cloth

Char cloth can make the difference between getting a fire started and just throwing sparks around.

Find details here:

The Tracktor.com – Amazon Price Tracker

I’ve been eyeing a product on Amazon recently, but when I finally decided to buy it, the price had gone up enough to dissuade me from getting it right now.

I started searching for an Amazon price tracker site and found was: http://thetracktor.com It’s seems very simple and clean. I found another good one called www.camelcamelcamel.com, but thetracktor.com seems cleaner to me.

It seems pretty good and they have a Firefox/Safari/Chrome plugin that loads the tracker into product pages while on the Amazon site.

You can set a price point on an item to get an email alert.

They have a link called ‘Movers’ that show items with recent decreases in price. http://thetracktor.com/movers/

Here’s an example:

I was looking at the product “Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium”. Searching for it on the http://thetracktor.com I found the price on Amazon.com fluctuates very often on this software.
Screenshot from thetracktor.com:

Here’s what the plugin adds while on the amazon.com website:

The plugin also gives you the ability to set the price watch alerts directly on the amazon.com website

Thought I’d share.

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