Friday, May 25, 2018

How to Set a Considerate Team "Out-of-Office Event" in Outlook

How to Set a Considerate Team "Out-of-Office Event" in Outlook

Follow these simple rules and your fellow co-worker won't hate you (well they may hate you for other reasons, but not for bad "Out-of-Office" appointments).

Nothing annoys people more than getting an "Out-of-Office Event" in Outlook that marks their time as busy, and then posts them a reminder for the event.

1. Start the "Subject" with your name.  Otherwise people get reminded of appointments labeled, "Dr. Appt" at for a brief moment of panic think it's their "Dr. Appt".  Use a title like "Mitch - OOO" with an optional explanation.
2. Set "Show As" to "Free" so you don't block other calendars.
3. Set "Reminder" to  "None" so people don't get reminder emails
4. Add invited people
5. Under "Response Options" uncheck "Request Responses" (which will also uncheck "Allow New Time Proposals").
6. Send invite
5. Make a separate personal appt with no invitees with the "Show As" to "Out of Office" so coworkers will see you are out-of-office.
6. Set your  Outlook "Out of Office" Automatic message.

Now, take the above text and copy/paste it into a local file on your machine that you promise to review before sending your next "Out-of-Office"message in Outlook.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Setting Up a New Windows 10 Machine

Here's my list of things to do with a new windows 10 box in 2018.
(I put it here so I can find it next time I get a new machine.  
Let me know your list of "got to have programs" in the comments.)
Set Preferences
Add environmental variable "HOME" and set to "C:\home\mfincher" so Emacs can find me 
(In the File Explorer, right-click on "This PC", select "properties"/"Advanced system settings"/"Environment Variables...")
Add C:\home\mfincher\bin to environmental variable "Path"
Go into "File Explorer Options" and set "Hidden files and folders"/"Show hidden files..."
  "Display the full path in the title bar"
  and unset "Hide extensions for known file types"
Install Utility Programs
Install Chrome and Firefox
Install Emacs
Install spell ( to C:\opt\Aspell and set emacs to reference that dir
Install Git
   git config --global "Johnny Cash"
   git config --global
   git config --global http.proxy
   git config --global https.proxy

Install cmder from into C:\opt\Cmdr
   Copy user-aliases.cmd to C:\opt\Cmdr\config
Install Mouse drivers
Install Notepad++ from
Install Node
  npm config set proxy
  npm config set https-proxy
Install bower and gulp
  npm install -g bower gulp
Install Maven
Install Paint.Net
Install 7-zip for zip/tar files from /
Install Visual Studio
Install ReSharper
Install IntelliJ
Install SourceTree for git repos - 

Install AutoHotKey from
Install Putty.exe
Install FileZilla -
Install PostMan inside Chrome

Install Microsoft Programs
Install SQL Server and Red Gate's SQL Search
Install "Remote Desktop Connection Manager" from 
Copy Files From Old Computer
Copy My Documents, My Pictu res, c:\home, c:\opt
copy over all the old databases
Copy over inetpub directories
Copy over old Microsoft Mail archives, *.pst files
Copy root directory of Git files, C:\Git

Git Clone Error Solved: "Permission denied (publickey)".

While cloning a repo from BitBucket on my new Windows 10 machine  I ran into this error:

"Permission denied (publickey)."

The problem was that BitBucket didn't know about my new public key.
To add the key, select "Manage Account" from the BitBucket web site,

Select "SSH keys" and then "add". 
Copy your public key from "C:\Users\Me\.ssh\" and paste it into the text box.
You should be good to go.

If you haven't already created a public/private key set enter,

ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "".

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How to Add TFS Stories Programmatically Through a URL

You can add TFS stories and features through a browser's URL.  This complements the Template process and is simpler than the real API which should be used for real work.

Here's an example URL to create a task, assign it to person, and enter a description:

This looks like garbage because it is html encoded.  Plain text, courtesy of  would be:[System.AssignedTo]=Wiley+Coyote&[System.Description]=Example+Description+Text. has a quick hex code guide.

This will create a task, but not save it.

Here is a non-trivial example, unescaped, and put on multiple lines for clarity: Story?[System.AssignedTo]=Wiley+Coyote
&[Microsoft.VSTS.Common.AcceptanceCriteria]=The Roadrunner is captured.
&[System.Title]=Giant Mouse Trap to Catch Roadrunner
&[System.Description]=Order giant mouse trap
Place bird seed in trap
wait for roadrunner to get caught

The tricky part is finding the names of the element you want to add.  Fortunately, you can get a Visual Studio plugin which will allow you to see the standard element names and your companies custom names.

You can download the TFS Process Template Editor here.
It will install into VS2017 under the Tools menu.  Select the Process Editor and the "Work Item Field Explorer".

This will display a list of the field names including your custom defined ones:

This method works will for small tasks, but for larger tasks, use the API.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Free Online Image to Text Converter

Today I needed to convert a picture of a spreadsheet to an actual spreadsheet.
I used and it worked great!
They support output in Text, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Excel.
I selected 'Text' for the OCR, then imported the text into Excel. 
Directly importing an Excel spreadsheet from the web is a little scary,

Proxy Blocking Abot Spider on Windows

I like Abot Web Crawler. It's written in C# and easy to use. Abot will crawl a website so you can get a site map for analysis. Our company's proxy blocks Abot from working. The solution is simple for windows, just set the HTTP_PROXY environmental variable like this,
set HTTP_PROXY=http://proxy_userid:proxy_password@proxy_addr:proxy_port
For example:
Also also need to set the proxy for HTTPS_PROXY. Then you can run the spider:
cd c:\Git\Abot\abot-master\Abot.Demo\bin\Debug
Abot.Demo.exe > cnn.txt

Friday, December 08, 2017

Social Security Basics

I recently attended a few workshops sponsored by GM and hosted by Fidelity.  Here's what I learned:

Important Terms:
FRA - Full Retirement Age - 66 or 67, depending on your birthday.

AIME - Average Indexed Monthly Earnings - This is the average monthly amount you earned in your highest-earning 35 years.  It is indexed for inflation.  AIME is used to calculate PIA.  If you don't have 35 years of earnings, zeros will be averaged in.

PIA - Primary Insurance Amount - amount of Social Security payments you will receive at full retirement age (FRA).

Estimating your benefits - your PIA is based on the average of 35 highest earning years, so try to work 35 years if possible.  Details are  here.

If you were a homemaker and didn't work many years, you can claim 50% of your spouse's PIA if that is more than yours.  It does not affect your spouse's amount.

When to claim your SS benefits?
If you wait until FRA, you get 100%.  If you claim earlier you get less, claim later you get more, until age 70 when the amount does not go up.  There's no magic to claiming at your FRA.  You can claim earlier or later. It's not "right" to claim at FRA, it's just one option.

From for birthdate in 1958
Age% of PIA
62 70
63 80
64 87
65 93
66 100
67 108
68 116
69 124
70 127

For each year you wait you get about 8% increase in payments.
Better to wait if you have other resources, but it depends on your expected life expectancy.
The break even age is 81 or 82.  Will you be alive then?  If not, take SS early.

The average amount of SS paid is $1,300 per month, or $15,600 per year.
$2,788 is maximum you can receive per month.  So if you paid in buckets of money during your career you may reach this level at age 64, so you might as well start taking then, because it won't hurt you.

Survivor benefits can start when the survivor is 60 yrs old.

Working before FRA may reduce your PIA.  Details
here.  Some states tax SS income.

Will SS go bankrupt?  In the year 2034 trust fund will go dry, but SS can still fund 77% of obligations from taxes, we just won't have the trust fund.

One scary tidbit was that health care costs for a couple over 65, with Medicare, was $902 a month.