Geeks on Campus

Another amazing bgsu blog

Archive for the 'Tools' Category

What The Font!

Posted by jeggent on 20th March 2015

Did you know that there is a website that will identify the font used in an image?!

It’s true.  If you need to edit an image and need to match the font to add or change text, you can use What The Font to find out which font was used.  You just upload the part of the image that has the text and What The Font will tell you which font was used.  In my case the font was Forte’.

Cheers!

-John

Posted in Resource, Tools, Web | 2 Comments »

How I use OneNote

Posted by jeggent on 31st January 2014

OneNote

Since I have talked about OneNote in two posts already, I thought I should expand upon how I use this software.  Kind of like how Trello has boards, lists, and cards; OneNote has notebooks, sections, and pages.  Each notebook can contain multiple sections and each section can contain multiple pages.  I only use a single notebook, both for simplicity and because I don’t need more than two layers (sections and pages) to organize my content.

The Structure

So within that single notebook I have a number of sections and those sections each have a number of pages.  You may want to begin with a structure similar to your paper files where the sections are like the folders and the pages are like the… well, pages.  Or you may want to mimic your e-mail folder structure as many of you have probably refined your e-mail over the years.  Some of the sections that I use include Projects, Committees, Systems, People, and ForNext.  Within these sections each page is for information on a specific item, group, or person.

One of My Favorite Things

Of all of the things that I consider to be a component in the system that keeps me organized, maybe my favorite thing is within OneNote.  I have a section called ForNext and each page contains items I want to cover the next time I meet with a given person or group.  If you’ve ever said “I know there was something else I wanted to talk about with you.” then you need a list like this.  This is a sample of what the ForNext page for my boss might look like:

Next

  • Vendor selection
  • Staff training

1/13/14

  • New project
  •  Hardware request
  • Vacation request
The next items I want to discuss are always at the top for quick access.  Once we’ve talked about those items I date that group of things for future reference and begin the new “next” list.

Other Stuff

I have my OneNote connected to a free Microsoft SkyDrive account.  That is how I’m able to have it synced to my Nexus tablet.  The search function in OneNote works really well.  Although I don’t use it much because of my simple structure I can usually find things quickly without searching.  There are lots of other tools within OneNote that I don’t use such as freehand drawing and audio notes.  I think these would be useful for those using a tablet with a stylus and are kind of reminders of Microsoft’s earlier attempts at tablet computers.  Notebooks can also be shared with multiple users.  One other thing that I do use which is kind of nice is dragging highlighted content from a web page into OneNote.  It copies the content and includes a link to the page you were on.  And that is how I use OneNote.  Good luck.

Posted in Productivity, Tools | 1 Comment »

Trello-ize your work

Posted by jeggent on 24th January 2014

I saw this link yesterday, How we use Trello & Google Docs to make UserVoice better every day which gives a good example of a pretty sophisticated Trello setup.  A great point from the post, which I also give as a warning when I reccommend Trello, is:

“Trello is a VERY open ended product. Trello, purposefully, doesn’t prescribe a “right” way to use it so it requires you to get inside and move the furniture around a bit to get it feeling like home.”

So, while I think it’s a great idea to do a little research and see how others use Trello the best advice I can give is to just start using it know that you may well end up starting over with a different layout.  Having said that, I will describe how I use Trello.  Maybe you can use this as a starting point or just borrow some of these ideas for your setup.

Boards

I only use a single Trello board for work stuff.  The latest updates discussed on the Trello Blog make it sound like using multiple boards is fairly easy.

Lists

Some people use lists as steps in a process (such as in this Trello Introduction Video).  I use lists to represent entirely different conditions.  My lists are Quick, To Do, Waiting, Others Doing, and Done.

Quick:  I’ve only recently added this list (see comment about changing your setup).  This list is for quick little items that will likely never be more than just the title on the card.  I wanted a place to put these items to get them out of my email and my paper notebook.

To Do:  This is the main list of projects.  These are items that I can act on now and the list is sorted by priority.  Most cards begin on this list.  I often paste the contents of an e-mail that led to the card’s creation into the description.  I also enter comments and attach files as needed.  I’ll talk about checklists later in this post.

Waiting:  I move cards from To Do to this Waiting list when I am not able to act on a card because I am waiting for a person or a date or for any other reason.  Every couple of days I review all of the items on this list to see if they can be moved back to the To Do list or if another follow up is needed.  Whenever there is activity on one of these cards I move it to the top of this list.  So cards that have not had any activity will be at the bottom of the list.

Others Doing:  These are items that other people are working on that I still need to track.  I use the labels to indicate who is working on each of these items.

Done:  As cards are completed I move them to this Done list.  They stay on the Done list until I record the accomplishment on a bi-weekly unit report.  After it has been recorded I archive the card.

Checklists

If more than a single step is needed to complete a card I use a checklist.  I enter all of the steps as checklist items.

Tags

A lot of activity related to Trello cards takes place in email.  To make the connection between the two systems without a lot of duplicating I enter tags in the card titles.  For example I will create a card with the “Move community content out of Blackboard #bbmove”.  Then when there is an e-mail related to this project I just include “#bbmove” at the bottom of the e-mail.  Then if I need to find all of the emails related to that Trello card I just search for the text #bbmove.

At a glance

Using all of the structures discussed above I can see a lot of information very quickly on my Trello board.  Since my To Do list is prioritized, the very next thing I should be working on is the next uncompleted checklist item on the top card on my To Do list.  The cards at the bottom of the Waiting list have not had any action on them recently.  Because of the label colors I can look at the Others Doing list and see what each person is working on.

Hopefully I’ve given you some good ideas on using Trello.  Still the most important thing is to be open to changing your Trello setup, it’s super easy with the drag and drop functionality.

Posted in Productivity, Tools | 2 Comments »

Nexus 7

Posted by jeggent on 23rd December 2013

When I started my new job I had to learn a lot.  There were new systems, new people, and lots of information that was new to me.  So I wanted a way to easily take this information with me to meetings.  Of course the answer was to get a tablet.  I put a lot of thought into which tablet I should get.  I decided early on that I wouldn’t be entering much data in via the tablet.  I hate “typing” on touch screens.  And I didn’t want to take around a table with a blue tooth keyboard, I might as well bring a laptop/ultrabook with me at that point.  I was going to use a 7″ tablet for information retrieval and a paper steno book for taking notes.

My choice was the Google/Asus Nexus 7

The Google Android platform has apps for the tools that I am using: e-mail, calendar, Google Drive, Trello, and OneNote.  I use Google Drive for the PDFs, spreadsheets, and documents that I need access to at work/home/mobile.  I use Trello for project and task management.  And I use OneNote as a knowledge base and for meeting agendas.  The other apps that are not core to my work activities but are nice to have are Twitter, Pocket, Feedly, Kindle, and Keep.

The Nexus hardware is great.  It’s super fast, even when I have all of those core apps mentioned above all open.  It fits right into my pants pocket, so I don’t feel burdened taking it around campus for meetings.  I take my notes on paper and then transcribe just the important parts into Trello, OneNote, e-mail, or my calendar once I’m back at my desk.  I will create more specific posts to talk about how I use e-mail, Trello, and OneNote which will hopefully show how taking this information with me on the tablet is so beneficial.

Your mileage may vary.  Of course I considered the Apple iPad.  I don’t already have any Apple products that I use regularly, so I’m not already locked into the Apple ecosystem in any way.  I really wanted to go with the 7″ system for portability.  I also looked the the Samsung Galaxy Note and Tabs.  They looked really nice, but the performance data that I looked at indicated the the Nexus was superior hardware.  I’ve used a Kindle Fire at home for two years now and really like it.  It looks like Amazon is working on getting the Fire line updated to support more business apps, but I don’t think it’s there yet.

Happy computing.

-John

*Edit
I ended up receiving a bluetooth keyboard/case  as a Christmas gift.  I don’t currently plan on taking it with the tablet to meetings but I guess we’ll see if I change my tune after having some time with it.  It will be nice for typing e-mails at home though.

I have found another use for the Nexus now that I have the keyboard.  With the additions of the AndFTP and 920 Text Editor, I am now able to download, edit, and re-upload webpages right from the tablet.  Both apps are free and very easy to use.  The 920 Text Editor even supports multiple files open at the same time, so I can review both the HTML and CSS at the same time.

Posted in Tools | 2 Comments »

Google Drive Sync

Posted by jeggent on 25th July 2013

I may be a little late to the party with having an online file share keeping files in sync between computers.  But now that I’m using it, I love it!  I know there are other options such as Dropbox but since I was already using Google Docs, for documents and spreadsheets, it was seamless to use Google Drive for other files also.  Google Drive is great and I recommend it all the time to people as an MS Office replacement.

I eventually followed Google’s prompting and downloaded Google Drive for my desktop at work and laptop at home.  That’s when the fun started.  I have projects that I work on both at work and at home.  I’ve tried the USB flash drive and uploading the files to a server each time I finished working on them but I would inevitably forget and have version control issues.  With Google Drive for PC I have a folder setup to sync and just save my development files in that folder.  It takes only seconds each time I modify a file for it to automatically upload to Google Drive.  Then when I use the other machine it automatically downloads any files that changed so I’m always working on the latest version.  It even has a little indicator graphic on the file’s icon to show that it has been synced.  This has been a real time saver and helped me to finish projects faster by not needing to wait until I can retrieve the latest version of a file.

P.S.  With smaller files like PHP and HTML changes are synced in just seconds (or less).

Posted in Resource, Tools | 1 Comment »

Keep using Firefox with PeopleSoft

Posted by jeggent on 23rd April 2012

Around two months ago a Firefox update caused the browser to stop working well with PeopleSoft.  Sadly the same thing had happened with Chrome not long before that.  IE and Safari both appear to still work well with their current versions.  If you, like me, would like to continue to use Firefox there is a work-around.  You can download Firefox version 3.6 from portableapps.com and use it with PeopleSoft.  Since this is not a current version I would not recommend using the browser with external web sites.  This “portable” 3.6 version will not harm your “current” Firefox version, but they cannot be running at the same time.  I use Firefox 3.6 as my primary PeopleSoft browser, IE as my secondary browser (when logged into two environments at the same time), and Chrome for external sites.

** I just checked the new Firefox 12 and it is the same story of super slow page loads.  A random update broke it and I keep hoping a random update will fix it.

** Update 2:  Make sure you turn off auto-updates in your 3.6 version in order to stay at that version and not get bugged about updates.

** Update 3:  This issue has been fixed for us.  Thank you Casey!  I’m told the issue had to do with SSL ciphers.  PeopleSoft is now working with the current versions of Firefox and Chrome.

Posted in PeopleSoft, Tools | 2 Comments »

Readable .log files

Posted by jeggent on 6th April 2012

Are you tired of .log files that look like this:

Do you want .log files that look like this:

You just need to change your default program for .log files from Notepad to WordPad.  Here are some links with instructions:

Windows XP

Windows 7

Posted in PeopleSoft, Tools | No Comments »

Paint.NET

Posted by jeggent on 9th January 2012

Before I begin the long process of creating the next aid year in PeopleSoft, lets talk about something more fun.  Image editing and creating!  Whether or not you have experience with the software package Photoshop you are likely familiar with the name.  Photoshop or Photoshopped or just shopped, has come to mean a picture that has been digitally altered.  Photoshop and programs like it can be used to create digital images or touch up images such as digital photographs.  I needed to create a logo for a web site recently and I turned to my favorite Photoshop alternative Paint.NET.  The last I checked, Photoshop costs hundreds of dollars to purchase and Paint.NET is completely free.  Paint.NET has many of the features of Photoshop and those lacking can often be added to the program through plugins.  For example, I needed to have text arch around a circular image.  A quick Google search identified a Paint.NET plugin called Circle Text which does just that.  I find Paint.NET easy enough to use and recommend checking it out if you are in need of this type of program.  Good Luck!

**Update**
Well, check it out.  The day after I post this, one of my favorite web sites (lifehacker) posts about the same topic.  The Best Image Editing App for Windows

**Another Update**
Here is one of the logos I created with Paint.Net and the circle text plug in.  I’m happy with how it turned out.  I also did some web site updates with Paint.Net.  You can check out Byrne Road and Adrian Vein Clinics to see the site.  Check them out for treatment of spider and/or varicose veins.

Posted in Resource, Tools | 1 Comment »

Drilling URL

Posted by jeggent on 9th May 2011

Cool New Tool: Drilling URL


In starting loan origination for 2011-2012, I wanted to know what status all of the loans were left in after running the process.  So I created a really quick query to just count the IDs by loan status for the aid year.  When I saw that some loans were in a “Hold” status I wanted to then get the listing of those IDs so that I could go and look at those accounts.  This reminded me of the drilling URL example from the Maximizing the use of PS Query for Financial Aid session from the Alliance 2011 conference.  After setting up the Drilling URL, I am able to just click on the loan status and see a listing of all the loans in that status.  There are lots of examples that I can think of that this technique would be useful for.  A department could show the count of students in their classes for a semester and click the class name to show a roster of students in the class.  I will now step you through setting up a query with a Drilling URL.

A drilling URL actually connects two different queries.  So the first step is to create what I will refer to as the detail query, the query with the specific listing that will be reached by clicking the link in the top level query.  In my example this is the BG_FA_LOAN_STATUS_DETAIL query.

For my detail query I am just going to output a few fields from the LOAN_ORIG_DTL record along with the student’s name.  The first important step is to create the Prompts in this query that will be part of the linking process from the top level query.  I want to list the details for all of the loans in a given status for a given aid year, so my two prompts will be for Aid_Year and LOAN_PROC_STAT.

Of course these prompts must be in the Criteria of the query in order to be used.

Next, save this query and begin a new query.  My top level query is called BG_FA_LOAN_STATUS.  It will display a count of records in each loan status by aid year (prompting for aid year).  You’ll see that I have a “Count” on A.EMPLID and I am displaying LOAN_PROC_STAT twice.  This is because I want to display the long translate of the field for the user (note the ‘L” in XLAT) but I also need the one character code to use in the prompt of the detail query.  To do this I just created an expression that is simply A.LOAN_PROC_STAT, displayed that expression and used the translate on the actual field.  The aid year is also displayed and will be used for the detail prompt.

Now you need to setup the Drilling URL.  In “Expressions”, click the Add Expression button and select “Drilling URL” from the Expression Type drop-down.  (the expression text will get filled in for you after completing the following steps).

There are different Drilling URLs that you can use, but we want a Query URL, so click the Query URL link.  You can now search for the detail query that you will be linking to.  It will bring in the prompts from that query (URL Keys) and you choose the fields from your query to populate those prompts.  You also choose (in Map URL to Query Columns) which value or values to turn into clickable links, I am only using the translate of the LOAN_PROC_STAT as the hyperlink, but any or all of the fields can be used to the same effect.

That’s it!  Now when you run this query the Status field will be a link that you can click to get the detailed listing.  Let me know if you try this and have any questions.  Enjoy!

Posted in Financial Aid, PeopleSoft, PS Query, Tools | 4 Comments »

First Pop Update

Posted by jeggent on 12th January 2011

Now that Fall grades are posted, we are updating our Pell 2 offers.  However this often causes the Pell 1 offer to change when the student was not full time in Summer (our header term).  So I have used a Pop Update process to mark all of the Pell 1 awards (for students with Pell 2) as locked.  Here is a brief outline of the steps needed to do a Population Update.

  1. You need for your User ID to have access to update the record.  “Set Up SACR > Security > Secure Student Administration > User ID > Population Update Security”
  2. The field to be updated must be associated with the record.  “Set Up SACR > System Administration > Utilities > Population Update > Population Update Setup”
  3. Write the query to select the population to update.  Don’t forget to join in the correct bind record, they are different for each record.  For the STDNT_AWARDS record the bind record is SCCPU_STAWD_BND.
  4. Set up the Pop Update run control. “Set Up SACR > System Administration > Utilities > Population Update > Population Update Process”
    • If you cannot find your query here than you probably do not have the correct bind record on your query.
  5. Run the process.

Here are all the records and fields that can currently be updated with Pop Update and the bind record for the records.

  • Record (bind record)
    • Field
  • ADM_APPL_RCR_CA (SCCPU_APRCR_BND)
    • RECRUIT_SUB_CAT
  • ADM_PRSPCT_CAR (SCCPU_PRSCR_BND)
    • FIN_AID_INTEREST
    • HOUSING_INTEREST
  • INAS_CALC_RECS (SCCPU_STDNT_BND)
    • CALC_STATUS
  • INAS_FED_EXT (SCCPU_STDNT_BND)
    • BUDGET_DURATION_A
    • BUDGET_DURATION_N
  • INAS_PROF_EXT (SCCPU_STDNT_BND)
    • PE_BDGT_DUR_A
    • PE_BDGT_DUR_N
  • ISIR_CONTROL (SCCPU_ISIRC_BND)
    • CORRECTION_STATUS
  • LOAN_ORIG_DTL (SCCPU_LNORD_BND)
    • LOAN_PROC_STAT
  • PELL_ORIGINATN (SCCPU_PELOR_BND)
    • PELL_ORIG_STATUS
    • PELL_TRANS_STAT
    • UPDATE_PELL_ORG
  • PELL_ORIG_DTL (SCCPU_PELOD_BND)
    • SFA_COD_CITZN_STAT
  • PERS_INST_REL (SCCPU_PERS_BND)
    • Looks like most fields
  • SFA_ASG_ORG_DTL (SCCPU_ASGOD_BND)
    • SFA_COD_CITZN_STAT
  • SFA_EASTAGE_DTL (SCCPU_EADTL_BND)
    • SFA_EA_PROC_STAT
  • SFA_SLC_STUDENT (SCCPU_SLCST_BND)
    • SFA_SLC_P_ATT_IND
  • STDNT_AID_ATRBT (SCCPU_STDNT_BND)
    • 31 fields including…
    • AID_APP_STATUS
    • FA_SS_AWD_SECURITY
    • FA_SS_INQ_SECURITY
    • LN_EXIT_INTER_STAT
    • LN_INTERVW_STAT
    • PROCESSING_STATUS
    • QA_SELECTED
    • QA_VERF_SELECT
    • SAT_ACADEMIC_PRG
    • SFA_REVIEW_STATUS
    • VERIFICATION_STATUS
    • VERIF_STATUS_CODE
  • STDNT_AWARDS (SCCPU_STAWD_BND)
    • LOCK_AWARD_FLAG
    • SFA_EA_INDICATOR
  • STDNT_CAREER (SCCPU_STDCR_BND)
    • SAA_SYNCHRONIZE
  • STDNT_CAR_TERM (SCCPU_CARTM_BND)
    • COUNTRY
    • ELIG_TO_ENROLL
    • EXT_ORG_ID
    • FORM_OF_STUDY
    • OVRD_BILL_UNITS
    • OVRD_INIT_ADD_FEE
    • OVRD_INIT_ENR_FEE
    • OVRD_TUIT_GROUP
    • PROJ_BILL_UNT
    • STUDY_AGREEMENT
    • TUIT_CALC_REQ
  • STDNT_EQUTN_VAR (SCCPU_EQUTN_BND)
    • VARIABLE_CHAR1-10
    • VARIABLE_FLAG1-10
    • VARIABLE_NUM1-10
  • STDNT_FA_TERM (SCCPU_FATRM_BND)
    • BUDGET_REQUIRED
    • FA_STATS_CALC_REQ
  • STDNT_PKG_VAR (SCCPU_STDNT_BND)
    • RATING_CMP1-20
    • RATING_CMP_VALUE1-20
    • VARIABLE_CHAR1-10
    • VARIABLE_FLAG1-10
    • VARIABLE_NUM1-10

Process in pictures
(click for full size)

Good luck with Pop Update.

Posted in Financial Aid, PeopleSoft, Tools | 2 Comments »