Tuesday 21 January 2014

2013 was pretty good... 2014 will be better!


So... I didn't post anything since March 2013! What happened since then? Well, a lovely new lady entered my life (actually she entered it a bit before March but she stayed in it for a while and is kind of still there, in spirit if not in person). Actually we just returned from a lovely trip to Italy where we had a weekend of shopping in Milan and a sunny ski trip in Cervinia. A few trips to see ballet at the Royal Opera House and Teatro alla Scala, nice food and nice smiles; It was great. Sadly she's had to return to her own country, much to my dismay as I need a visa to go there!

We also had a few other nice trips. Several road trips to France, where we discovered some wonderful places in Normandy, another ski trip in Italy and a road trip in the UK to Wales and the Lake District, which was just as lovely as Normandy but in different ways.

Many gastronomic delights were discovered, many beautiful sunsets observed, and many good times were had.

Long may it continue :)

What else has happened?

Well, I tried mountain biking for the first time.

I bought this cool mountain bike in 2007 with the intention of using it abroad, but it's not been used off road much at all, only the occasional forest trail. It was a bit like buying a Range Rover to use on the school run. I have a group of friends who try to get me to go to the Alps every summer but it's always my birthday, but this year they were away the week after so I joined them for a long weekend. It was awesome! We were in Sauze D'Oulx where I've been a few times for skiing. It was really nice to see the place in summer, especially as my first mountain experience was in the summer in the piedmont region anyway. I'm hoping to go back this year, maybe for a bit longer this time. But it depends on holiday allowance, which is massively constrained due to my next topic:

Lots of politics at my last employer, a public sector transport organisation which is the most wasteful place I have ever seen. Individually everyone seemed quite reasonable but as a collective it was trying to move a herd of drunk rhinos through a swamp. Pure madness. Eventually politics killed me off as the part of the organization I was in got absorbed into the parent company and the project I'd spent the last year working on got cancelled. £2 million of public money wasted on what would have been a fantastic project if only people would listen!

And then I was enticed to work for a fresh fashion brand company where so far everyone is lovely and the office is grey on the outside but sunny on the inside. I've only been here a few weeks but so far I'm enjoying the work and the people. If only I could do something about my evil commute in the morning!

What else? Oh yeah, Amsterdam. 30 people came with me to Amsterdam for my birthday where we did the Friday skate and spent the rest of the time enjoying nice sunny weather and relaxing. I was surprised how many of them chose to stay in the Hilton DoubleTree hotel with me. We had a good deal on the pricing and it was right next to Centraal station so well located for the city. It also had a skybar with awesome views!

And I bought Mr Wolf, my ongoing restoration project:

He's a 1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 which to those in the know is a pretty special car. I might post about him later :)

What's coming in 2014?

Well it got off to a pretty good start with a nice New Year celebration enjoyed with some close friends. I've just come back from a ski trip with my wonderful lady...

...and I went to France last weekend for someone's birthday. I haven't seen her for 10 years and her husband asked me on facebook if I could come. Last time I saw her it was a surprise for her 30th birthday also secretly arranged by her husband. It was pretty cool :)

I managed to take this cool photo from the plane on the way back... Wish my iPhone camera was a bit better!

And next week I am off on an absolutely epic ski trip to Tignes, with a group of about 45 people. I've arranged the whole trip and it's getting pretty stressful at the moment but I'm hoping we have good snow. Good snow makes everyone happy, regardless of what goes on apr├Ęs-ski!

I suppose then, that my next post might be about the ski trip.... though at the rate I'm going it will probably be about 2 trips and an entire year worth of adventures compressed into a few paragraphs.

Bring it on! :)

Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Templates


There you were thinking I was going to blog about my ski trip, or something fun. I say "there you were" as if there is actually someone there. Anyway I digress.

I had to explain an interesting concept to a couple of colleagues today. It's something that I've noticed in every organisation I've worked at.

Microsoft has gone to great pains since at least 1995 and probably before, to segregate a document from a document template. The theory here is that you might create a document but if you want to re-use it you should save it as a template. Then every time you open the template, the office application be it Word or Excel or whatever knows to open a new document based on the template and prompt you to save it with a different name as a regular document.

How many times have you seen this? I bet it isn't very often.

And what does this have to do with SharePoint?

Well, we had a requirement that a user has to be able to click a link on a page and that it should allow them to create a new document which they save and email to another team (don't get me started on this, or I'll be ranting forever). But the user had uploaded a regular document and because we have Office Web Apps enabled by default, it just opened the document in Office Web Apps.

I was asked how we could get around this. Normally I'd want to set up content types and have the ability to create a new document within SharePoint, but that's not how the business process works at the moment and an InfoPath form is in development, so rather than change the business process twice I suggested they save the original document as a document template and upload it to the library.

And hey presto! It worked. When you click the link to the document template, it opens a new document in the local office application!

Enterprise content management may save trees, but if you can't see the wood for the trees when you implement it you are wasting a lot of effort!

Next time I will talk about something more interesting... honest guv'nor :)