Technology Windows

Stopping items in batch files from running

Batch files (.bat) are a set of commands that are sent to the command line. They can include limited flow, and do support variables. Windows XP onwards has slowly improved the function of these files.


They can be edited in any text editor (for some history see edlin). If there is a particular command you wish to stop running in a batch file then you can use the command REM at the start of the line which will then cause the operating system to treat whatever appears aftewards as a REMark.

So in the batch file below

@echo off

MD junk

REM DEL *.zip

MOVE*.*  junk


the command to delete all zip files (del *.zip) would not run as the REM command in front of it


Digital Etiquette – Subject Lines

E-nails have a subject line – please use it. The subject should be specific and aid the other person in processing your e-mail. 

Also consider who your recipient is. If you are emailing finance then don’t just put ‘Invoice’ in the subject line – but something about more descriptive e.g ‘invoice for front office from Staples (invoice no:3512) 

Replying to an old e-mail may be the easiest way of ensuring the mail is correctly addressed, but if you are starting a new topic or discussion ensure you put a new title. 


Digital Etiquette – CC and BCC

CC means Carbon/Courtesy Copy – and should be used where a recipient needs to be aware of the e-mail but doesn’t have any actions and isn’t directly involved. 

BCC should be used if you are sending out something like a newsletter and the recipients don’t need to or shouldn’t know who else is receiving the mail.  If you send lots of these and they are to external addresses then a service like MailChimp is really useful as it will avoid accidentally sending to everyone (and the subsequent replies) and it will also handle unsubscribes legally for you too.


Digital Ettiquette – onetime logo

Death by PowerPoint – we’ve all experienced it. This is a simple plea – only have your company or organisation logo appear once in the slide deck. 

If you’ve introduced yourself clearly then the audience is not going to need a reminder 5 minutes in on slide 70. 

The chances are your presentation is going to be for the delivery of information, or telling a story – not direct marketing or branding. 

Corporate templates may seem like a good idea, but try saying the name of your company each time you advance to the next slide, and you’ll quickly see how silly they are. I’ve seen templates that swallow up a third of the slide – that just leaves your remaining message cramped.  


Digital Etiquette – File Sizes

You should check the size of any file you send via e-mail. Great, thanks for the 1 page newsletter – now tell me how you managed to get it to be 4megabtes in size. 

There are lots of guides out there that tell you about how file sizes are measured so you can get used to checking what you are sending.  As a rule if it is an unsolicited e-mail (regardless of how important you think it is) then the size of it should come in at under 1megabyte.


Digital Etiquette – Attachments

If you are sending something out as an attachment then send it as a pdf file. This will ensure that no matter what system they view it on (Mac, Windows, iOS, android, chromeOS, etc) it will render pretty much as you sent it.

Text won’t get moved due to subtle difference in fonts, document converters won’t mangle your exquisitely layed out table, and there is no risk of accidental corruption during printing. 

The other side effect is that it makes document management far easier for the recipient as the files that they will receive will mostly be PDFs and they won’t end up of a folder full of someone else’s editable documents. 


Digital Etiquette – e-mail siguatures

E-mail signatures – you need one for new e-mails. This should contain as a minimum. 

  • Name
  • Job Title
  • Employer
  • E-mail address
  • Phone number(s)

It should not contain

  • Graphics
  • Quotes

It should ideally be in plain text, with no formatting used. 

You should also have a second e-mail signature used for replies. This should just contain name, job title, and e-mail address. 

People will ask why an e-mail address when this will be evident from the e-mail client. This is true only if you are a sender or recipient. If your e-mail is forwarded, ther is no guarantee the client will preserve your e-mail address in the header. 


Default mail account in Outlook

I did a mail merge to e-mail in Outlook 2016 on Windows 10. Before i did this i ensured the default account was set correctly, but instead the e-mail went from the club’s gmail account and not our own domain.

Turns out that the default account in Outlook is frequently ignored and uses the address for the message store that currently has focus. Now annoyingly i use this every day at work, and i’m aware of the behaviour and actually like it. However, this is not so great for sending of mail merged e-mail.

On having a google around I came across this post which details how to get this fixed. I’ve included the registry links after the break should this site go down.


Calculating fiscal month number in Excel

This has come via this post at Mr Excel. and a response provided by Ron Coderre.

Assuming the fiscal year starts in April, the formula below will give you the fiscal month.


The value of ‘9’ is derived by the months remaining in the year that are the new financial year. In this case there are 9 months left in the year that are the new financial year (April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December)

Microsoft Office Outlook

Inbox wrangling

A few months ago I started using a tickler file like system in outlook. My inbox got removed from sight and I moved e-mails from there to a ‘working folder’ a couple of times a day. 

This worked well, but there was a lot of moving e-mails about. This was annoying as there is enough metadata in outlook to enable this automatically, so after working with the system I spent some time and implemented using Outlook’s powerful (but under documented) search folders. 

My e-mail folders now look like that, with my work flow bring as follows. 

E-mail gets moved into the ‘unprocessed e-mail’ folder a couple of times each day. From there the e-mails are processed (GTD based – email actioned if it will take 2 minutes or less). If the e-mail will take longer a due date is set which will then have it appearing in specific folders. 

Each morning e-mail due  from yesterday gets a quick review and either marked as completed or has the due date altered, which may not necessarily be today.

So far this system is working well – it keeps my inbox clear and means I know exactly what is outstanding.