Microsoft Office for Engineers
Did you know that I maintain (adj. to sporadically apply fixes that break everything) three add-ins for the Microsoft Office suite? Each one borne out of a frustration with the software from continued exposure to an engineering environment. Well, a few days ago I found some time to work my way through some of the feature requests and bugs people had (so kindly) discovered, so now seems as good a time as any to (re-)introduce these usual suspects…
EngCel – Engineering for Excel
In a nutshel, EngCel provides you with a convenient syntax for writing out engineering equations and symbols in Excel. As you type (hopefully) familiar characters, such as ^ (for super-script) and _ (for sub-script) EngCel will apply the wanted formatting, as well as substituting keywords such as ‘\alpha’ for the right Greek and mathematical symbols. Just to top it off, EngCel also allows you to colour your formulae by dependency, and quickly mix-in common templates (like pass/fail).
You can find out a bit more about EngCel from previous posts:
- Being Brunel – EngCel: Colours, Names and More
- Being Brunel – Inline Sub/Super- Script in Excel, and More…
- EngCel on GitHub
preDict – Predictive Text for Word
It might come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t looked too hard at this blog, but if there’s one thing I really hate, it’s extended writing. There are few things more daunting than a blank page, and as an engineer writing technical reports- I see a lot of them! That said, a lot of engineering reports say the same thing, which is why I wrote preDict. My own copy of preDict is now so trained to me, that all I really need do these days is write a few key words and hold the tab button down to generate enough nonsense to get me started on writing another damn paper!
This latest update to preDict is fairly substantial (although it will still work with any old dictionaries). Everyone who was asking will be pleased to learn that I’ve finally gotten my hands on a copy of Office 2013 (isn’t it beautiful?) and fixed the compatibility issues. Anyone who doesn’t speak English will also be glad to hear that preDict now respects the language of the document, however prediction memory (i.e. guessing the next word) is still limited to Latin /[A-Za-z]/ characters.
You can find out a bit more about preDict here:
postBox – Outlook Time-Savers
Outlook, love it or loath it; you most probably have to use it. postBox is a collection of the two macros I wrote to save me from the RSI of forever repeating the same basic e-mail manoeuvres. The first, QuickLink, converts any text to a link; something that Ctrl+K almost does, but annoyingly fails to do properly if you’re referencing a file on a shared network. The second, ScanAttach, takes that e-mail the scanner gave you (with the bewildering attachment name) and pulls the PDF onto a new e-mail whilst allowing you to give it a name that makes you look half-way proffessional.
Because Microsoft has yet to find a way to tell the difference between code that is trying to kill you and your family, and code that you’ve put their yourself to make your life easier; installing postBox is less trivial than preDict or EngCel. For that reason I really recommend you RTFM; you can find detailed guidance on getting postBox working here.