Exploring 365 apps

Recently at work the I.T department began releasing access to additional apps within Office 365, colour me surprised that there was actually something beyond Excel, Word and PowerPoint (oh and Outlook).

We became aware of these mainly because our primary Ethics application, now a dinosaur of an app, is to have the questionnaire side of things replaced using Microsoft Forms, Flow, Teams, PowerBI, and SharePoint. Sitting in the meeting where they were outlining the strategy for moving forward within things we were having a look at these new apps and instantly we could see how we might leverage these apps for our own purposes.

After the weekend had passed I decided to begin implementing one of our forms using Microsoft Forms and Flow before deploying using Teams. Microsoft Forms is particularly basic when you’re used to the likes of Qualtrics, it only has four question types:

  • Choice
  • Text
  • Date
  • Rating

Branching is supported and relatively easy to use, though I have to say it needs a bit of work. The interface doesn’t detect when the list dips below the display and adjust to bring it within view, you’re forced to scroll to bring into view to see the options in order to select.

Using Flow took a few goes to get it right, and this from a programmer, but eventually I got things where I wanted. A lot of templates exist for various tasks to help guide you along the way, or you can start from scratch. Flow supports over 100 different services allowing for extensive workflow support.

Never thought I might say I’d get excited about a Microsoft product, so I’ll just keep that under wraps shall I. Shh! I see this as a companion to the Automation Anywhere process automation software we’re using, together the two can solve problems we’re experiencing with software used in the office that users don’t like greatly.



Review: Targus VersaVu Classic Case for iPad Pro 10.5 inch w/pencil holder

I bought my iPad Pro 10.5 inch late 2017 with a view to taking up art once more, it was also a spur of the moment purchase so not much research had gone into finding myself a good case in which to house my new iPad.

The range of cases on offer as I was purchasing my iPad Pro at JB Hi-Fi was underwhelming to say the least, I didn’t like any on offer, I just bought something to ensure I had protection for my device and Apple Pencil would be stored. The eventual purchase was the Targus VersaVu Classic Case, utterly dull as dogshit to look at as you’ll see below.

This case does serve its intended purpose, but as time goes on the Apple Pencil holder is failing to hold and it keeps sliding on out with minimal effort. I wish case designers would have a thought that this pencil is smooth and needs tight, snap lock grip, or better still a pouch to prevent my current situation.

I do not recommend thus case if you have an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, do as I am now doing and order something from Etsy, it looks umpteen times better and my Apple Pencil will now stay in-place.

Can’t wait for my new leather iPad Pro case to arrive.


Around quarter one 2017 at work are were told automation would be explored at work, not from a position of saving on FTE (wages) but rather freeing up resources of staff to commit to other tasks. Naturally those who were at the presentation heard what they wanted to hear and gossip ensued that jobs might go.

Within our team we could see the benefits of automation as one of our systems is particularly distilled by staff, so if they didn’t need to interact with it (so much) we might get some wins on the board.

We began “botenizing” (I steal their team leader’s term here) the Expression of Interest process in October, and after some stakeholder testing in late November it launched in mid-December. The ‘bot’ hooks into our system by looking at emails sent for newly created EOIs, it then grabs all the necessary data from the system and a spreadsheet that tells it where to get approvals from. As all now gets done via email the School executive can more quickly approve or reject, saving them time, speeding things up and our coffee gets major wins on the board.

Of course this is just step one in our automation, and early days in our University’s ‘botenizing’. We are also looking at ways we can use this technology to standardise filenaming, something that is grossly inconsistent across all projects.

I look forward to seeing where this technology takes us in the future.

The fight for broadband

Last March overnight our internet connection went from 6Mbps to pretty much non-existent. Initially I’d thought the modem was experiencing issues as it was older than the dinosaurs, but then after borrowing a friend’s modem I soon discovered our Triassic modem was not the cause.

I cause the iiNet support line and waited, and waited, and waited some more. In fact it took so long for them to actually talk to me I think the may have discovered how to reincarnate those dinosaurs as per Jurassic Park. After finally getting through to someone and managing to maintain my cool I got agreement to get our line checked.

Two weeks later it was ascertained the line needed a more detailed check and a technician visited filing a report. I was so annoyed by the report I blew up and they knew I was not going to accept being blown off. Two weeks later another visit and they checked via a different test and found where a fault was likely located, around 650m away. After six weeks no internet we were eventually restored, however the service technician did suggest it may occur again.

I don’t know if development of vacant land nearby is to blame, or it is just as a result of time, but as the service technician suggested we are again in the shit hole with our internet connection. The past three days the speed has been dropping off but can be restored by restarting the modem. Given it took six weeks last time I am wondering if it is worth the effort as we are roughly that length of time from being migrated to the National Broadband Network (NBN), I am just hoping in migrating our woeful connection will finally be solved.

Thank the heavens for my 4G mobile and a 30GB quota.

Mapping processes

Last year I was given access to the central repository at work for diagramming processes. Unfortunately at the time I also got slightly busy and it was just before we went on leave for the year, several months later, that I would get time to again look at things. External consultants had prepared our original diagrams in 2015, prior to adopting a formal standard for process diagramming, thus all the original diagrams are now needing updating – just 140 diagrams that is.

Today I took a diagram that had been prepared by a member of our own team to reflect whether a category of output would be accepted, sent for review, or rejected. His process was simple and effective when not in the EPC standard as it was able to use decision shapes. When I went to re-diagram this process to the EPC standard it became more than twice its previous size as I was forced to rely upon XOR or AND logic and events. Whilst I am very much the EPC virgin, and am yet to see if my efforts on this one are correct, I think the resulting diagram is actually quite easy to read and follow (excluding knowledge of XOR for non-techies!).

I was particularly stoked with the updates applied today to Visio and Orbus iServer, previously when diagramming and trying to used connectors I don’t know what the heck they’d done but they just refused to play ball, but following today’s upgrade all is FINALLY going smoothly.

iPhone X arrives

My new silver 256GB iPhone X arrived today after a 5 week wait.

Collecting it from the post office this morning I headed off to Dôme for breakfast where their wifi network proved a blessing in disguise, my old iPhone needed this to receive text messages as I set up my new phone and Apple and other services checked was me. Initially I setup as a new iPhone rather than restore, a smart move as the iPhone was needing a software update at around 2.6GB.

Using 4G i downloaded 1Password which hooked into Face ID straight away. Same for Facebook. I have to credit Apple with Face ID just how easy it was to set up and use, it is really quite quick to recognise me and unlock or authenticate me within an app.

The OLED screen is just gorgeous, what is interesting however is if you angle it the colours take on a blue tinge. Thus far I have only found myself reaching for a home button once, I love that the phone is buttonless.

I got myself an Anker wireless charger, however it didn’t seem to charge the phone connecting via my car’s USB port. I’m hoping I did something wrong, or maybe it’s the case interfering. Really wanting this in the car for ease of drop and charge rather than having to plug something in as it plays around with music and directions playback. Fingers crossed.


Have you seen Querkles? It ‘is a different play on paint by numbers. An art piece is segmented by overlapping circles of varying sizes and then 5 shades of colour determined, 1 darkest and 5 lightest.

A friend of mine had bought herself and adult colouring book based upon this a year or so ago, posting the results to Facebook. When looking for a colouring book app for my iPad Pro I stumbled upon Querkles and decided I’d give it a go, it was so addictive.

Hooked, I paid for the 40 pack at $5.99, I’m sure it will keep me busy for some time. Each drawing takes about 1.5 hours minimum to complete when using the Fill tool, were I to use the pen mode instead that might extend to a day or so as there’s much to colour in. The end result is so effective and amazing when you think at the method of construction.