How to add and maintain references to appendices, including page numbers (without going crazy)

Say you have a document with a main body and several appendices with supporting information in different sections. You want to make references in the main body to the appendices, including the name of the section and the page number. Like so:

The problem: what if you change the name of the appendix section? Or the page number of the reference changes as the document is edited?

Some people wait until they finish writing the document to finalize the references, and then do it by hand. (And then need to update it by hand again after minor revisions cause page breaks to reflow….) But there is a better way!

Use Word’s Insert Cross-Reference feature along with Heading styles and Word will handle it all for you automagically.

Here’s how inserting those links works:

It’s as easy as that! And now, all you need to do when editing is select all (ctrl-a), then update all (F9) and all your references will be updated instantly.

I hope this saves you a ton of time and annoyance.

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Malware masquerading as repair tools

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Wow, my hat is off to this crew. (Warning: malware ahead, so I’m not linking to any of the sites or searches referenced.)

I’ve been getting this error when trying to accept autoupdate prompts from the WebEx Outlook plugin:

After a week of that, I finally got sufficiently annoyed to Google the error, as one does.

Lots of off-target results when searching the first sentence of the error, so I added quotes around the string; that search gave me ONE hit:

Wow! Perfect! Oh, sweet, there’s a tool to fix the problem!

Hey wait a minute – this is not webex.com. And the language on the page is a bit techno-babbly.

Whose website is this? There’s no links to the home page, so just hack the URL off in the address bar and go to http://www.%5Bredacted_bad_guy_domain%5D.com and…

WOW.

Bonus points: that language drop-down menu was just added for verisimilitude – it doesn’t actually have any options other than English!

In case it wasn’t obvious: don’t download anything from this website.

Virustotal.com confirms the obvious: it’s packed with malware.

This is a great opportunity to point out that there are people at great software companies who DO make sure that when customers search for error messages, they can find good content which helps them solve problems – instead of falling prey to malware scammers like this. SEO FTW!

Tesla Model 3: Seattle to Crystal Mountain and back – can it be done without recharging?

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This post answers the question – can you take a Tesla Model 3 on a multi-day ski trip from Seattle to Crystal Mountain and back without recharging? Even when:

  • there are 4 people in the car
  • fully loaded with ski gear and groceries for several days (though all packed inside — no extra drag from a rack)
  • the cabin heat and seat heaters are running
  • a nice crusty layer of frozen snow needs to be brushed/defrosted off the car before departing
  • you’re staying overnight and the lows are in the teens and twenties, so the battery will be very cold when you head downhill, possibly limiting regen

I did stop and charge for a couple hours at a Blink station in Maple Valley on the way while we ate lunch at Original Pancake House and shopped for groceries at Fred Meyers. This took about 2:15, cost $4.10, and added 10.5 kWh or 13% battery capacity (aka State of Charge or SoC) — but it turns out I didn’t need the charge to make it round trip.

MilesElevation 𝚫 feetState of Charge (SoC) 𝚫
Seattle – Maple Valley36+200-15%
Maple Valley – Crystal55+3857-33%
Sit for 3 nights00-9%
Defrost/preheat00-2%
Crystal – Enumclaw40-3624-3%
Enumclaw – Seattle50-479-18%
Total171-80%

Want more details? Here you go!

Depart Seattle, preheated on shore power, SOC95%.

Drove to Maple Valley: SOC 80% Usually 5mph over the limit. Cabin set to 68F, but no seat heaters the whole way out. Drove I5 to I405 to WA169. 

Charged at the Blink station behind Fred Meyers in Maple Valley: SOC 93% Total charge time was about 2:15; ate brunch at Original Pancake House & grocery shopped. Added 10.5kWh for $4.10. Tesla trip navigation estimated Maple Valley to Crystal would leave us at 68% on arrival, and 61% back to start (in Maple Valley).

Arrived Crystal: SOC 60%. We kept boards & skis in the Tesla (with one of the rear seats folded down). This meant we’d unlock it at least twice a day, often using the app so I could unlock for my kids if they came back from the slopes at different times than I did, which of course wakes it from sleep. I did make sure the cabin heat didn’t automatically come on each time. Stayed for 3 nights, overnight temps between 14-28F. 

Day 4 morning: SOC 51%.   Preheated cabin while loading in and defrosting, brushing snow off. Also used heated seats + heated cabin to 68 for the whole drive back to Seattle. 

Departed Crystal: SOC 49% – cold battery (snowflake) icon still on Road was bare and wet. Mostly went speed limit +5.  Got plenty of regen coming down, the regen indicator line had dots for half its length, which sufficed to give enough regen that I hardly ever touched the brake pedal. At one point instant range estimated 999 miles. 🙂 

Arrived Enumclaw: SOC 46% and had lunch at Jackson’s Pizza, which we love.

Drove back to Seattle: SOC 28% Once on I5, mostly 70mph. 

So without the 13% recharge in Maple Valley on the way down, we still would’ve had 15% SOC remaining on the round trip. For our next day trip with no overnight loss to worry about, I probably wouldn’t even charge on the way (unless we wanted breakfast, in which case a combined charge/OPH stop sounds great). And once the Enumclaw supercharger gets built, there won’t be the slightest worry.

There you have it. Any questions?

Book recommendation: Storytelling with Data

I want to recommend a very useful book: Storytelling with Data, by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic. It’s available from the Seattle Public Library. (I wish I could credit where I heard about it, all I know is I put it on my ‘to read’ list about 5 months ago.)

Storytelling with Data book cover image

What I really appreciated about it is that is chock-full of highly practical suggestions that can be readily implemented.

It’s also a nice balance of viz authoring advice (much of which will be a refresher if you’ve read Tufte, Few, Yau, Cairo, etc) along with very concrete suggestions for how to present data in a way that can drive action – thinking about the audience, what story you’re telling them, and what you want them to leave with.

Showing the steps involved, whether in building / improving a viz, or in telling a story using data, was tremendously helpful to me – showed how to put principles into practice.

Cole gave a related 15-minute talk at the Tapestry conference – one of my colleagues was there, and their review was:

Brilliantly relevant to our customers.  Cole did a skit of a typical boring business presentation of data findings.  She then itemized a clear set of storytelling techniques: repetition, pictures, narrative arc (plot, rising action, climax, falling action, ending).  She then retold the story.  Might have been the best talk of the day.

Here’s the talk:

I highly recommend the book to anyone who wants to communicate with data.

The Lost Macalester I-Fries Recipe, Reconstructed

Aka Italian Fries, as served at the Grill in Macalester College‘s old Student Union (circa 1990s, before the remodel and adding an extra “e” to create the Grille, which seems WAY too healthy to ever serve such a concoction). I got a tip on ingredients list relayed from a friend of a former Grill student worker. Came up with quantities & directions through several (mostly delicious but occasionally ridiculously cheesy) trials.

Ifries2

Ingredients

  • Pizza crust, 12″ (Boboli original is the closest I found, feel free to use your preferred pizza dough – it needs to have some body to be like the originals)
  • 4 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 4 oz creamy Italian salad dressing (I use Field’s)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic salt
  • Pepper
  • Marinara sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Brush outer ring of pizza dough (crust) w/olive oil
  3. Pour 4oz dressing in middle of pizza, brush out to meet crust/oil band. Feel free to go lighter depending on how “juicy” you liked your i-fries.
  4. Sprinkle 4 oz mozzarella evenly. (It might look like it’s not enough, but it is.)
  5. Grate Parmesan generously over the pizza
  6. Garlic salt: 3-6 shakes
  7. Pepper:  3-6 grinds
  8. Bake at 450 until cheese starts to get a little browning – 8-12 minutes.
  9. Take out, let rest for a minute or two so all the cheese doesn’t slide off, slice into 1″ wide strips, rotate 90 degrees and cut all the strips in half
  10. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping

What Mac memories do i-fries bring back for you?

 

Finding Free Images for Presentations

Ready to move beyond bullet points for your presentations?

People are visual. If you’re sharing data, try creating a data visualization, instead of a table of numbers. (See Tufte for a start on this.)

And if you’re conveying an idea, a single bold image can be more compelling than a slide full of text. (Check out Presentation Zen and the companion website for much more.)

Here are some of my favorite places to search for images to use in presentations.

  1. Flickr search (need another license? More Flickr CC search links here.)
  2. Google image search supports usage rights, too. (Google’s help article)
  3. Creative Commons search (and as of July 2017, a new CC search is in beta) has pointers and a front end for searching additional resources that support usage rights.

These searches help you find images you have permission to re-use. (The Creative Commons license is a very widely used way of indicating these permissions.)

Always pay attention to re-use rights and respect the creator’s intent – don’t just take any image you find.  If the re-use requires attribution, be a mensch and include the credit in your preso.

Building a Tableau dataviz of Tesla Model 3 reservation data

Twice as many Americans as Germans want self-driving cars.

That’s one of the first things I learned from asking the next set of questions.

About 400,000 people have put down $1000 each to reserve Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 – the all-electric, potentially self-driving automobile. Some of them even stood in lines that stretched for blocks to put down $1000 on a car they hadn’t even seen pictures of yet. (I’m one of them.)

Teslas can all be custom-ordered. Tesla has a great configuration site where you can pick out every detail – if you’re ordering a Model S or X. But so far, we Model 3 reservation holders don’t even have the opportunity to tell Tesla what color we want.

At least, not through Tesla’s site.

Model3tracker.info to the rescue! This crowd-sourced data lets anyone self-report the options they want to choose for their Model 3. Just register and fill out a survey based off previous official statements, and maybe some rumors and tea-leaf reading, too.

Now, Teslanomics’ Ben Sullins – formerly the Chief Data officer at Pluralsight – has uncracked that dataset with a Tableau Public viz:

We interrupt this blog post to try out different ways around the problem of embedding Tableau Public vizzes on WordPress. Seeing a couple different suggestions using Tableau’s new support search.

Tried using the “logical line breaks” method John Barr described on the Tableau forums.. It did not work, even when I copy/pasted from John’s example. Though clearly it works on his blog.

Ugh. The regular embed code works just fine on WordPress in general – it looks like it’s a problem with specific WordPress themes. Bleah. Ok, for now I’m just going to cheat, strip out most of the embed, and use only the static image. Click through to Tableau Public to interact. There are other approaches I can use, I’ll come back to those…

Alright, back to Tesla datavizzing!

Pretty cool, huh? Seeing this dataviz made me want to ask some more questions, though. What about the rest of the world’s orders? Do we all want the same thing? Let’s see:

Model 3 Options v2

I plan to come back to this blog post and update it with a few details about how I made this viz, and keep updating it. Already I’ve tried out a few techniques and features I haven’t previously, and learned a thing or two.

Sharpening the saw: program manager reading list

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One thing that works very well for me is reading, especially lessons learned and case studies from practitioners.9780596517717-228x300

A book I frequently turn back to is Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun (he was a Microsoft program manager who shipped things like Visual Basic for Excel, and Internet Explorer 4 – the first really good version of IE). It has been a few years since I last read it, I should do a re-read soon. Scott’s blog is also excellent.

Over break, I read a book recommended by a coworker: The Membership Economy. This is one of those business books tha510x2zsjzkl-_sx329_bo1204203200_t has a few excellent insights which then get spun out to fill a book. Worth checking out from the library and flipping through for an hour or two. Or find a good summary online. It may help crystallize things by providing a shared vocabulary for discussions with my colleagues, but I don’t think it is as insightful (or as data-driven!) as Effortless Experience.

I’m currently reading Kathy Sierra’s Badass: Making Users Awesome. I love it so far; it has the 5199hst-ofl-_sx332_bo1204203200_great design of Kathy’s Head First books, and I love the message and mindset. Highly recommended.

For this year, the topic I’m thinking a lot about is how to work effectively in teams. The book I’m reading now is Beautiful Teams from O’Reilly, with dozens of chapters contributed by a wide range of thinkers and practitioners, from programming gucatrus Grady Booch and Scott Ambler to sci-fi writer Cory Doctorow.

Another book in my queue is from Bob Lewis, longtime Infoworld columnist (and IT consultant). He has some great, short books like Bare Bones Project Management: What you can’t NOT do. (And a followup on Bare Bones Change Management that is also very helpful for 51veo882b2bl-_sx331_bo1204203200_1anyone making changes.) The book I’m going to read next is his latest: The Cognitive Enterprise. I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t tell you if I recommend it or not! But now that I’ve told you about it, it’ll motivate me to actually follow through and pick it up off my to-be-read pile – aka tsundoku.

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Tsundoku illustrated by the daughter of redditor Wemedge

Tableau Easter Egg: The simplest, fastest way to get Tableau Desktop’s version, build number, and architecture

Of course, you can SEE the version and build number of Tableau Desktop from the Help menu, with Help > About.

About Tableau

But usually you want to give this information to someone else – for example, pasting it into an email or support case form.

You could use your eyeballs and fingers, and transcribe the sixteen digits the old-fashioned way.

But I just learned there’s an even easier way to do it.

When the “About” dialog is open, just Copy!

There’s no need to select anything. Just hit Ctrl-C, or right-click > Copy – and you’ll get the version and build right on your clipboard for easy pasting, like so:

9.0.0 (9000.15.0325.1651) 64-bit

Boom.