Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

New CommonSpot Tutorial: Creating a jQuery Accordion

June 29th, 2011
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New CommonSpot Tutorial: Making Collapsible Content with jQuery

April 15th, 2011
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Google Maps Mashup Guest Lecture

April 11th, 2011
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I was recently invited to speak in Dr. Anuradha Mukherji’s Urban Planning class. She is getting her students to collect data and produce a map mashup to display the data. My role as guest lecturer was to talk about mashups, map mashups, and provide information and resources for someone wanting to produce a map with no programming requirements. Here is the slide collection I showed:

[slideshare id=7525206&doc=mapmashups-110405122302-phpapp01]

As usual when I get to speak about mapping, visualization, and data analysis, I was very excited to share the resources and lessons learned.

ECU Web Sites, General Information, How To

VCL Best Practices Talk

March 23rd, 2011
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Shown via SlideShare, the following slides were presented at a March 18, 2001 Office of Faculty Excellence workshop. Professor Lee Toderick ( and I co-presented on the topic of best practices for incorporating East Carolina University’s Virtual Computing Lab.

You can also watch the video of the presentation (requires ECU login).

[slideshare id=7362040&doc=vclbestpracticesfinal-110323131436-phpapp01]

General Information, How To

New CommonSpot Tuesday Tutorial: Include HTML

March 15th, 2011
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Helping Others Help You

January 24th, 2011
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Today’s topic is one near and dear to everyone at TechTips: ways for everyone to help IT staff maintain your work computer.  Posted at the Microsoft At Work blog (also available as an RSS feed), the article describes “8 simple ways to help IT maintain your computer and devices at work“.  It’s good advice for all of us, and many of the tips apply to personal / home computers and devices as well.

General Information, How To

New CommonSpot Tutorial: Analytics Tips

November 5th, 2010
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Two simple tips to make your Analytics reports more accurate and easier to understand:

CommonSpot, How To ,

Building TechExcel Reports

February 4th, 2010
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Good morning, today I’m going to go through setting up reports in TechExcel so you, your manager, or your team can get important data out.  I’ll show you in this article how to go about setting up your own reports.  Subsequent articles will go into detail on other topics about TechExcel reporting.

  1. The first thing to do is to log into the technician portalof TechExcel.
  2. Next click on the Utilities tab at the top of the screen.
  3. Expand the plus sign by the Report Settings link in the Utility Settings box on the left of the screen.
  4. Click on the My Report View link.  If you do not see these options, please submit a ticket for the TechExcel admins to check your account type.  It may need to be altered to allow reports to be run.
  5. In the top right corner of the browser, you’ll see a button called New Report.  Click this button, it’s the launching point for all new report creation.
  6. You’ll see a list of all the report types available like this:
    Report List
    Looking over the list of available reports, the most common ones to use are Incident Distribution, Incident List, and Incident Trend.  The distribution report lets you see who is doing what.  Incident trends let you look at your workload over time.  Incident Lists allow you to view all the details about all the tickets that have come your way.  This data can be exported to Excel for further analysis or printed if desired.  For this example, I’ll be using an Incident List report.  Find it in the list of reports and check the check box.  Click the Submit button.
  7. You’ll now be presented with a configuration screen for the report.  Give it a meaningful name, if not you can end up with a lot of Incident Lists show up and not be able to differentiate them.  Add any desired data fields from the left hand list to the right side by using the Arrows.  Add grouping to the report in the same fashion.  Grouping allows data to be listed together based on a particular attribute in the report data.  If grouping isn’t setup, you’ll be presented with a long list of data ordered by your specification.
    Add fields to the report view
  8. Below this section, you’ll see more configuration options for sorting, sort order, field return size and a new feature in 8.0, showing the conditions used in the report execution.  This allows users to see how the report was set up if the box is checked so they can recreate it if desired.Other Misc Options
  9. Once completed, click the Submit button.
  10. Now it’s time to run the report that was created.  Click on the Report tab.
  11. From the Report drop down, find My Reports in the list and select the report you just created.  In order to execute the report, a few conditions need to be set.  In the below example, you can see I’m going to run the report I just created for my team’s queue, the consulting/training queue.  Other options include ticket statuses and date ranges.  Click the Refresh link in the top right section of the report area to execute the report or by clicking the Go button.  Do NOT click the browser’s Refresh button (F5).Report Settings
  12. The results of the report will be shown below the settings window and can be printed or exported to Excel.  If you’d like to make this report available to everyone, you can click the little Q icon beside the date field selectors in the report configuration image above.  This will give a URL to directly access the report. Note that you may receive a 400 or 404 error when doing this.  It is a known issue we have brought up with TechExcel.  If that does occur, log out of TechExcel and log back in.  You should see the report in the Web queries section in the Report drop down.  It is crucial to give the report a distinguishing name or it’ll get lost in the mix of other web queries.

How To, Tech Excel

Sharepoint Lists and Libraries and Spaces

January 20th, 2010
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A new blog post has been published on the Sharepoint blog about a technique to use to not have spaces in your URLs to lists and libraries.


How To, SharePoint ,

Alternative Monspaced Fonts

January 14th, 2010
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I recently found instructions for changing the console font in Windows (covers XP and Vista, haven’t tried in Windows 7).  Note that this tweak requires a regsitry change, so it’s only for those comfortable with adding registry keys.  If you don’t know what the registry is, or if you start trembling at the thought of running regedit.exe, do NOT try this on your machine.  ECU and the Tech Tips Team are not liable for failed experiements.

Background: Vista and Windows 7 have new fonts that are very nice.  If you do much web page editing, scripting, or programming, one in particular is very nice: Consolas.  You can get Consolas for XP or Mac  if you have Office 2007 installed.  You can also get Consolas if you download and install PowerPoint Viewer 2007.  If you aren’t on a Windows or Mac platform (or even if you are and want a nice visualization), it might be worth reading a comparison of the top 10 programming fonts.  In addition to those, I have come across another example named Dina.

The details of how to make the command prompt use Consolas is below:

If anyone has other fonts they like to use in their plain text editors, I’d be interested.

PS: In the spirit of fanboyism, I’ll just note that those using Linux or Mac OS can just change their terminal fonts with menu options; you don’t have to use such foolishness as a registry hack.

How To