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ISSUE 17.23.F • 2020-06-15

 

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The AskWoody Newsletter
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In this issue

SMALL BUSINESS COMPUTING: Office tools: Something old, something new

BEST OF THE LOUNGE: Understanding a Service Set Identifier (SSID)

Additional articles in the PLUS issue

LANGALIST: Unexpected shutdowns suddenly plague Win10 laptop

PATCH WATCH: Windows 10 2004 is slowly rolling off the assembly line

BEST UTILITIES: Freeware Spotlight — Spydish

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INTRODUCTION

News. Insight. Help. Free on AskWoody.com

It’s been an interesting month for Windows 10 customers.

We’ve seen a bumper crop of bugs in cumulative updates, some USB-related shenanigans, and what appears to be forced upgrades to the new Version 2004.

Keep up with the latest developments on AskWoody.com. The news and views are free. Ask for help: it’s free, too. Take advantage of the million-plus Qs and As — no strings attached. Tell your friends.

Of course, we hope you’ll feel moved to become a Plus Member, which includes the full weekly AskWoody Plus Newsletter and access to Susan Bradley’s detailed Patch Watch lists — and helps keep the whole AskWoody ship afloat. Remember: We’re on the donation modelyou decide how much you want to spend to become a Plus Member.

Speak truth to power. And stay safe.     — Woody


SMALL BUSINESS COMPUTING

Office tools: Something old, something new

Amy Babinchak

By Amy Babinchak

Most of us begin our workday with a heavy sigh and a click of our email app.

So many messages to review, so many meetings to accept and schedule … so little time. For all of you who toil in Outlook, there are many tools for making the task of managing email and meetings a bit easier. Two of my favorites are Outlook’s built-in Quick Steps and the newly enhanced Microsoft 365 app called Bookings. Here’s why and how I use them every day.

Something old: Quick Steps

Part of Outlook for a few years now, Quick Steps are simple pre-set and user-created automated scripts that can kick off one or more “actions” with the press of a button. For example: one click, and all selected messages are moved to the “Done” folder.

I’m always surprised when I discover that a client isn’t using Quick Steps. I find them handy for a variety of tasks, such as sending an email to everyone on my team, mailing an encrypted message, and quickly forwarding email. A simple Quick Step can relieve the tedium of repetitive typing.

Figure 1 shows the default options in the Ribbon’s Quick Steps section. Figure 2 shows my customized version with three frequently used Quick Steps I created: New Securemail opens a new message that will be encrypted; Cabal opens a new email that’s immediately populated with a specific group of people; Purchases instantly marks an email as “read” and moves it into the Purchases folder. You can “Quick Step” many types of repetitious email and meetings tasks.

Default Quick Steps
Figure 1. Outlook’s default selection of Quick Steps

My Quick Steps
Figure 2. This is my Quick Steps box with three custom options for quickly managing my daily mail.

To get started, try the default Quick Steps. If you’re not already there, jump to the Home section of the Outlook Ribbon. Now look for the Quick Steps section, typically found in the middle of the Ribbon. Here are the standard options and what they do:

  • Move to opens a window where you can choose a folder and move the selected message to it. Use this option if you tend to shuffle lots of messages in just one or two folders.
  • To Manager automatically forwards an email to your boss. The first time you use this, you will need to enter her or his email address.
  • Team Email creates a new message that will be sent to a designated group of recipients. Again, the first time you use it, you’ll need to enter the team’s email addresses.
  • Done marks the selected message as complete and sends it to a specific folder. You’ll need to select the folder the first time you use this Quick Step.
  • Reply & Delete opens a new reply to a selected email and then deletes the original from your inbox.

Those defaults are handy, but the real power lies in creating your own Quick Steps.

To create a new Quick Step, just look for Create New in the Quick Steps box and click it. If it’s not visible, you can use the scroll bars on the right side of the box to reveal more options — including Create New. A third method is to click the tiny diagonal-arrow icon in the lower-right corner of Quick Steps. Any of those methods opens the Manage Quick Steps dialog box.

Next, select New (bottom-left) and then select Custom from the drop-down list (see Figure 3).

Manage Quick Steps window
Figure 3. In the “Manage Quick Steps” window, click New and Custom to begin the process of creating a new Quick Step.

You’re now in the Edit Quick Step window (see Figure 4). Let’s run through it.

Edit Quick Step window
Figure 4. The steps you define to create or modify a Quick Step are called Actions.

Start by giving your new Quick Step an intuitive name. While you’re there, click the lightning-bolt icon; a box will pop up with a sizeable selection of alternative icons. This option isn’t just to be cute — icons serve a useful purpose. You can usually find a Quick Step icon with just a glance, whereas reading its label takes a bit longer. Changing the default icon can simply help you work faster.

Next, select the Choose an action drop-down box to begin adding action steps. Outlook gives you lots of choices, as Figure 5 shows. You can even build fairly complex workflows by combining multiple actions.

Action options
Figure 5. The Edit Quick Step window offers a long list of “actions,” and each Quick Step can contain multiple tasks.

Once you have your actions in place, jump down to the Optional section in the Edit Quick Step window. There, you can add a keyboard Shortcut key and/or descriptive Tooltip text.

Something (sorta) new: Bookings

Bookings (Figure 6) has been around in MS 365 Business subscriptions for a long time. But it was originally a “second-class” utility, meaning it was an optional add-in that did not work with MS Teams. Now, it’s a full-blown app that’s integrated with both Office and Teams; you can use it to schedule meetings with staff — and clients, too.

Bookings splash screen
Figure 6. The Bookings calendaring tool has been upgraded to a standalone application.

Appointments and meetings are a fundamental part of nearly all businesses. Working directly with Outlook calendars, Bookings checks your availability and lets others schedule meetings within open time slots. You set when you’re unavailable for bookings by blocking out, for instance, lunch breaks or days off. That ensures you’re not invited to a meeting you can’t attend.

As a self-service application, Bookings can be incorporated into Facebook or some other webpage. No more phone tag! Your customers can book an appointment right from their phone or computer, 24/7 — without having to call!

Bookings administrators can track customer preferences, manage employee lists, set available hours, and customize how appointments are scheduled. You can also manage your bookings on the go using the mobile edition.

Setup Bookings: To get the app, go to your Microsoft 365 homepage (portal.office.com). Select All Apps and look for Bookings. If you don’t see it, it’s probably because the app isn’t enabled. Head over to the MS 365 admin center and follow the instructions on the MS support page “Turn Microsoft Bookings On or Off for your Organization.”

Bookings starts with the Choose a calendar window. Either select an existing calendar or create a new one, as shown in Figure 7.

Choose a calendar
Figure 7. Bookings has a simple user interface for selecting a new or existing calendar.

If you chose “Add a booking calendar,” Bookings will ask you to enter some business information (Figure 8). Click Continue — or No thanks.

Business info entry form
Figure 8. When you add a new calendar, Bookings would like a bit of information about your company.

You’re now in the Bookings interface, where all of the magic happens! Your calendar page includes a URL for sharing with customers, embedding into your website, hosting on Facebook, and/or posting any other places you do business online.

If you have multiple people in your company, you can set up Bookings for the entire team. It’s a simple but powerful tool.

Together, Quick Steps and Bookings can help you automate small tasks. On their own, they might not seem like big time-savers. But when you get into the habit of automating all sorts of smaller tasks, you’ll soon realize just how much time they were sucking up in a typical workday.

Questions or comments? Feedback on this article is also always welcome in the AskWoody Lounge!

Amy Babinchak is the owner of three IT-related businesses: Harbor Computer Services, Third Tier, and Sell My MSP. She has been working in the IT field with small and medium businesses for more than 20 years. She’s also a Microsoft MVP and has received numerous leadership awards.


Best of the Lounge

Understanding a Service Set Identifier (SSID)

Plus member WShlewton has an eero mesh (aka whole-house) Wi-Fi network set up — an excellent solution for extending a wireless network’s range throughout a home or small business. The typical layout is made up of a router and one or more remote “nodes” placed at various locations within the building. Once it’s properly set up, you’ll have a strong Internet connection anywhere: from the attic to the basement playroom, and out into the back yard. And as your device moves from node to node, SSID authentication ensures that the connection remains secure — and that only authenticated devices are allowed to link to the local net.

But WShlewton had a problem signing in to secure websites and was led to believe the cause was multiple SSIDs. Seeking help from the Lounge, WShlewton kicked off a long discussion about cookies, SSIDs, UUIDs, Mac addresses, and other Internet-security issues.


SECURITY

Plus member petermat was considering a fingerprint reader for signing in to websites. With over 200 passwords stored in KeePass, a fingerprint reader might simplify the routine sign-in process. But will it work with the majority of sites? Fellow Loungers have different views and experiences. What’s yours?


ENTERTAINMENT

For Plus member Travasaurus, copying music to a flash drive isn’t the problem; it’s getting them to play in order of file name. Loungers worked out the cause: it’s based on a quirk in how the OS copies files from one drive to another. But the fix proved clumsy and time-consuming. Do you have a better solution?


Windows Registry

Modifying the Windows Registry is risky, especially if you don’t know how it works. Simply flipping a digit from 0 to 1 or vice versa can render the OS unstable or even unusable. Having had a lot of experience with Registry tweaks, Plus member WillFastie offers a tip for finding and rolling back changes that go south. Fellow forum members chime in with their methods for the madness.


ChromeOS

MVP Nathan Parker enlisted the help of Lounge members for running ChromeOS on VirtualBox. There are good solutions for VMware virtual machines, but the options for VirtualBox are sparse. Eventually, Nathan finds what he was looking for — though the new installation keeps prompting him to install Adobe Flash Player.


Wi-Fi

Plus member pkoryn installed an external AC generator that has Wi-Fi–based management capabilities. But the wireless signal at the box could be better. pkoryn turned to the Lounge for tips on the best signal boosters/extenders. Opinions differ.


AUDIO

When Plus member Cthru bought pre-owned Bose speakers to improve sound from a Dell PC, the results were less than expected: too much bass and a weak high-end. Eventually, that annoyance kicked off a search for better audio drivers and software. Surprisingly, the solution came from Dell. But responding forum members offered other options.


If you’re not already a Lounge member, use the quick registration form to sign up for free.

Stories in this week’s PAID AskWoody Plus Newsletter
Become an ASKWOODY PLUS member today!
Fred Langa

LANGALIST

Unexpected shutdowns suddenly plague Win10 laptop

By Fred Langa

A PC’s owner suspected overheating as the cause of unwanted shutdowns, but they continued even after excellent troubleshooting and maintenance — including a full fan and air-duct cleaning!

Here’s how to track down and correct even stubborn, subtle, or indirect causes of potentially damaging, heat-related crashes.


Susan Bradley

PATCH WATCH

Windows 10 2004 is slowly rolling off the assembly line

By Susan Bradley

The Win10 May Update is coming to a PC near you — sooner or later. Best to make it later.

The other news for June is vulnerabilities — lots of them. On June 9, Microsoft started sending out updates with an astounding 129 security fixes ranging from remote-code-execution threats to privilege escalations.

And yet the number of actual patches is virtually unchanged from previous months.


Deanna McElveen

Best Utilities

Freeware Spotlight — Spydish

By Deanna McElveen

Remember a time when we could install Windows without needing to immediately go through settings and turn on “features” that impacted our privacy?

Fast-forward to Windows 10, and managing privacy settings has become only more complicated. And looking for them can be time-consuming. To make that process easier, developer Belim from mirinsoft.com created Spydish — a small and light tool that’s easy to use, uncomplicated, and — of course — portable. You can also use it to debloat Windows 10. Grab a copy from the OlderGeeks.com page and follow along with my review.


Publisher: AskWoody LLC (woody@askwoody.com); editor: Tracey Capen (editor@askwoody.com).

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