Goodbye ModNotebooks, Hello OfficeLens

I like taking notes, the old fashioned way (by hand in a notebook, on… paper), but I like finding them the new way (using search on my PC). I love OneNote and how easy it is to keep an online notebook with all sorts of data. For example, due to archival rules some of my email starts to “disappear” from my work account after a couple of years. But some emails I like to keep – little nuggets of wisdom, notices, personal information and such I like to keep around. So, I export them to OneNote, where I can keep them safe.

So, I was living this duplicitous life of daily note taking with pen and paper but also filling my online notebook with all sort of information. I wanted to find a way to bridge these two. A few years back I was at a Microsoft convention and ran into a member of the OneNote team that turned me on to a small startup firm called: ModNotebooks. Their website is now gone, this is all you see:

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What they did was to send you a very high quality notebook, you would fill it up and ship it off to them. In the back of the notebook was a folder with a mail pouch and prepaid postage. They would receive it, scan it in for you and then dump the contents into your OneNote file behind the scenes. I filled 7 notebooks with them. But alas, their business model did not work, I am guessing, and they have gone out of business.

Now, I am left with my seeming duplicity again. wlEmoticon-disappointedsmile.png How do I get back to having my handwritten notes in OneNote again? Enter, OfficeLens.

I have actually been using this app for some time to scan travel receipts to PDF to turn in for expense reimbursement. And while I have always known I can use it for OneNote notes, I never tried it – namely because I had a better thing in ModNotebooks – or so I thought. Being forced to use something is sometimes what it takes. So, I gave OfficeLens a shot.

First, you download it to your phone. It comes on all three platforms (Windows Phone, iOS, and Android). Next, you hook up your Microsoft account (Live/Hotmail/MSN) and then you start scanning. It automatically finds the page and draws a border around it:

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When you click the button at the bottom, it shows you what it got:

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In the lower left, you can click the (+1), to add more page (up to 10 at a time – my only complaint – more on that later)* Once complete with your scanning, you click Done at the top right. This will take you to the “Export To” page.

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From here I select OneNote and it asks me where I want to put it in my Notebook and when I click Save, it begins to upload it to my OneNote notebook:

And once it is in OneNote, it is fully text searchable, based on my handwriting. Yes, I said “fully text searchable” from my handwriting. Here is what it looks like once it gets to the final destination and I perform a search:

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Amazing, eh?

So, my only complaint is that the tool only allows you to scan in 10 pages at once. I wish there was a way to override this, for two reasons:

  1. I take a lot of notes and I fill 10 pages quickly. I have to get into the habit of scanning every week at this point to keep up. It is not impossible, but it would be nice to skip a few weeks and then scan them all in – in bulk. Right now, I have to upload it in several different batches of 10.
  2. I recently was working with legal documents and needed to print them out, sign them, scan them in and then send them off. The document had 11 pages. 11. 11! So, I had to scan 10 pages, then scan the last one and then find PDF merge software to merge them all together. That was NOT fun.

With that said, Au Revoir ModNotebooks. You were great while you lasted. I will likely be going back to using Moleskin’s and then using OfficeLens to digitize. We shall see… TUL (the “u” is long, so “tool”) has some nice notebooks too – I love their fine-point pen:

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If you have any suggestions, please leave comments below. wlEmoticon-hotsmile.png

Going back to taking notes by hand…

 

Docs.com is Retiring

I went all out using Docs.com for my code starting last year. But, I just got notified that it is being retired this December. wlEmoticon-cryingface.png

However, effectively immediately, all the code pages I was using now display an error like this all over my site:

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This is VERY frustrating I know. wlEmoticon-sadsmile.png

I have decided I will be converting all my code blocks over to Gist. Unless anyone has a better idea for a WordPress site. P.S. I really do NOT want to use add-on’s either. Anyway, this may take me a while as I have a LOT of code content out there on Docs.com. So, please bear with me.

Also, please note, I (kind of) anticipated this. In all my code pages there is a link above every Docs.com embedding you can click to expand and to see the full code on my site:

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OneNote: Do Your Tabs Disappear?

Recently, a customer I work with asked me to investigate why the tabs in their shared OneNote notebooks were disappearing. It is especially prevalent when they moved to OneNote 2016. The cause as it turned out was something called Windows Deduplication. At its simplest, it is a way to reduduplicate files and similar streams of data on a disk. It is a form of compression at its simplest which is to say it is a mechanism to allow you to stick more stuff on a computer or server disk. What we found was the deduplication was corrupting the OneNote index (toc) on the server and each time someone went to make changes to the OneNote file on the server. Tabs would start disappearing for other users when multiple users were editing the files. When we enabled the exception for OneNote files in the data deduplication feature and then moved the OneNote files from one folder to another and then back (which is required to de-optimize the files), the problem went away. To resolve this problem you will likely need your administrator involved:

  1. You will need to set an exception for the OneNote file extensions in Windows Server 2012 Data Deduplication.
    • Here are some details on configuring that with PowerShell. See the “Modifying Data Deduplication volume-wide settings” section.
    • You will need to exclude these extensions: *.one, *.onebin, *.onetoc2
  2. Next, have everyone close OneNote on their systems.
  3. Finally, you will need to “deoptimize” (or, and I love this, de-dedup) the files. To do this, you will create a folder somewhere in the shared folder, move all the files in the OneNote folder to that location, then move them back.

NOTE: Nothing needs to be done on the clients, they will just work the next time the users launch OneNote. You might notice the tabs will still initially appear to be missing, but they will re-index and come back. This might take a few minutes depending on how many tabs there are.

Once completed, you should find that your tabs are no longer disappearing.

Convert from VMWare to Hyper-V

I have used VMWare for a long, long time. I have development environments going back to the dark ages of .NET, long before there was a Hyper-V and long after Microsoft killed off Virtual PC. So, I have a LOT of virtual hard drives (VHDK) files in VMWare format.

Recently, I got a new Surface Pro 4 and decided now was the time I am going to make the switch to Hyper-V. But like hell was I going to rebuild all my machines. I looked on the web and found a ton of references on converting from VHDK to VHD, but not to VHDX. So, I came up with a two step process that I will discuss here.

To start, you need to have VirtualBox: https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads

Next, you need to convert from VMWare VHDK format to VHD format. You can do this with the following command which I placed in a BAT file to make the process easier:

“C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe” clonehd –format vhd “%1” “%2”

NOTE: Above, %1 is the full path and filename to the VHDK file, and %2 is the full path and filename of the VDH.

Finally, you need to convert the file from VHD to VDHX and luckily, Hyper-V Manager will do this for you. You just perform these steps:

  1. Open Hyper-V Manager
  2. Select Edit Disk on the right hand task pane.
  3. Select Next, then browse/enter the path to the VHD and click Next.
  4. Click Convert and click Next.
  5. Select VHDX and click Next
  6. Select the type of disk you want and click Next.
  7. Then specify the output file name and click Finish.

NOTE: Once you have performed a conversion like this you CANNOT create a 2nd Generation Hyper-V VM. You can only use this disk in a 1st Generation Hyper-V VM. The only way to use in Gen2 is to migrate it – not an easy task.

Windows 8 CP

I just installed Windows 8 Consumer Preview (beta) on an old Dell D830 Laptop I had lying around. I installed the Win8 Metro Testbed (from Splashtop) on my iPad, installed the streamer app in Windows 8 and viola, I have Windows 8 with full gesture support on my iPad. I then found a WordPress app to install from the Windows Marketplace and here I am, blogging on Windows 8 from my iPad.
 
I just love technology. Such fun! ☺
 

For more information on how to do this see this:

http://www.splashtop.com/category/tags/windows-8-consumer-preview

Hobowars Hotfix

About 3 years ago I started playing a Facebook game called Hobowars. With some help from a browser plug-in that refreshed the training page for me 24 hours a day, I was able to make it to #1. The developer of the game then created a CAPTCHA to verify humans from refreshing programs or bots. In addition, he created a place called “The Big House,” or jail, where cheaters went away for good. Well, a select few of us used a new cheat: Service Pack 1 (before it even went commercial). This program would solve the CAPCHA and continue to allow you to refresh. I used it until my character got chunked in jail only because I was #1 too long. Winking smile

Well, I eventually moved over to the full game of Hobowars, but the Service Pack 1 cheat program did not work there. Just this week, Excited Heaven has released a new cheat program called Hobowars Hotfix. This program works with the full version of the game. Now, I am nowhere near as active at online games as I used to be, but this program (and Excited Heaven) deserve a shout out.

If you play the full version, or even play the Facebook version of Hobowars, you have to check out this application. It allows you to train your hobo secretly while you are not even there… it’s a must have. Smile

Humor, That is Still Valid (Sadly)

A Texan dies and goes to Hell. The devil is excited as he has never met a Texan before. So he runs down to the lowest depths to find the Texan sitting with his boots propped up and a big grin on his face. The devil shocked, as others are wailing in pain and asks the Texan what he is so happy about. The Texan coolly replies, “Well, Devil, I thought it would be much worse, but this reminds me of Texas in June.” This steams the Devil…

So the devil heads back to the control room and turns up the dial a few more notches. Almost instantly the wails of pain raise across all of hell. He returns to the Texan who has removed his shirt, but still had that damn grin on his face. So the devil asks why he is still so happy as he obviously sees the others around him writhing in agony. The Texan coolly replies,” Well, Devil, it did get a bit warmer, but it feels like Texas in July. And that is my favorite month.” Now the devil is incensed.

So the devil goes back to the control room and cranks up the heat as high as it will go. The instant deafening roar of screaming is almost too much for the devil. But he gets back to the Texan who is in nothing but his boxers. Without being asked, the Texan states, “Devil, did you know my birthday is in August and this feels great!” The devil blew his lid in anger.

So the devil heads back, feeling dejected by this first representative from the great state of Texas; but he hatches a new plan. We walks to the control panel and turns it down as low as it would go. All smug now, the devil returns to the Texan to find snow piled in the corners, kids throwing snow balls, laughing and playing, icicles hanging from the ceiling… but what was this? The Texan was running around in circles, jumping up and down and whopping an hollering. The devil stopped him for a moment and asked what had gotten into him. The Texan replied, “The Texas Rangers just won the World Series!”