How to automatically approve shifts in Microsoft Teams

Since COVID-19 came along and required us to have more space between people, it has been necessary to find tools which allow us to limit the number of people that work together in a given space.

As an Office Manager, I quickly found the Shifts tool in Microsoft Teams. It proved really promising, but after giving it a shot for a few weeks, I quickly found its biggest pain point: Teams requires you to approve a shift that someone signs up for.

That’s a necessary and useful step in many industries, such as hospitality, however, in my case, I wanted to create a set number of open shifts, to limit occupancy of our office to 25%, and just have people sign up for them on a first-come, first-served basis, but the manager approval step quickly became a bottleneck, especially when people were looking to come to the office on short notice.

I finally found a solution that I just tested which removes the manager approval step by automatically approving shift requests.

Drawing a line in the sand with Donald Trump and the Republican Party

Featured image by CAHIER D’ART on Istagram

The piece of art above helped me to have a clearer mind on where I stand with respect to Donald Trump and how it should shape my activism.

At the heart of everything, I believe in individuals’ right to have their opinions and I indeed I appreciate having good discussions on any number of topics with people who have different points of view than me.

However, in certain situations, you just have to draw a line. This is one of those situations. It’s not just that I disagree with Donald Trump and his supporters on so many issues. It’s that he’s objectively a terrible human being, who puts his own interests above those of others, while turning a blind eye to the damage that his racist, sexist, self-centered remarks and actions have.

The Social Dilemma

“We live in a world in which a tree is worth more, financially, dead than alive, in a world in which a whale is worth more dead than live. For so long as our economy works in that way and corporations go unregulated, they’re going to continue to destroy trees, to kill whales, to mine the earth, and to continue to pull oil out of the ground, even though we know it is destroying the planet, and we know that it’s going to leave a worse world for future generations.

This is short term thinking based on this religion of profit at all costs, as if somehow, magically, each corporation acting in its selfish interest is going to produce the best result. This has been affecting the environment for a long time. What’s frightening and what hopefully is the last straw that will make us wake up as a civilization to how flawed this theory has been in the first place is to see that now we’re the tree, we’re the whale. Our attention can be mined. We are more profitable to a corporation if we’re spending our time staring at a screen, staring at an ad, than if we’re spending that time living our life in a rich way. And so we’re seeing the results of that. We’re seeing corporations using powerful artificial intelligence to outsmart us and figure out how to pull our attention toward the things they want us to look at rather than the things that are most consistent with our goals and our values and our lives.”

– The Social Dilemma

Use a Raspberry Pi to provide Dynamic DNS to your home network via Cloudflare

I have a home network that I routinely have need to access from remote locations. Up until now, I’ve just made do, by waiting to handle the tasks when I’m at home, or by physically going home in order to access the network.

The reason that accessing your home network from anywhere outside the home is problematic is because you most likely don’t have a static IP address from your ISP. That means that your IP address of your modem changes frequently, so if you want to even begin to access your home network from a distance, you need to know the address to reach it. When it changes all the time, that can be a problem. That’s where dynamic DNS comes in.

Dynamic DNS is a service that allows you to channel your ever-changing IP address to a static domain name. The idea is that even though your IP address changes all the time, you can enter a given domain name and that will point you to the correct IP address. When your IP address changes, you update the DNS for the domain name and it still gets you to your home network.

The sad circumstances of the death of RBG

It is sad that upon hearing the news of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it didn’t take but 3 seconds for me to start considering and dreading the political implications rather than being able to mourn her loss.

It’s a great shame because she was a truly memorable and remarkable justice who left a true legacy in her wake. Women and minorities were afforded much greater protection under the law thanks to her. I spent the weekend remembering her, watching RBG and reading up on her life’s work.

The balance between oversharing and pulling back from sharing publicly

I’ve been posting a lot less here in the last few years. When I look back at when I was posting here the most between 2014 & 2016, I was posting about all sorts of stuff with some regularity.

These days, I’m a busier guy for sure. That’s definitely playing a part. However, I’ve also been hesitant to post about some things which I definitely wasn’t shy to post about 5 years ago. It’s not that I have less to say because God only knows there’s been so much to talk about in just this year alone. There’s a lot on my mind and maybe I’ll get back into the habit of posting again because I find the writing cathartic.

Building a wood storage rack above my garage door

During the COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve taken up a new hobby/skill in woodworking. Now I’ve found myself collecting some common lumber ready for if I suddenly want to undertake a project, as well as off-cuts from previous projects. Trouble is, I don’t have much room to store it, not to mention that lumber can be hard to store neatly.

That’s where my new wood storage rack comes in.

I’ve been meaning to make more use of the ceiling in my garage for storing some larger, less-commonly-used items. I decided that lumber fits into this category perfectly. So, I did a bit of research to get some inspiration for how to help build some storage that I could use to keep my lumber at bay and I found surprisingly little information about people using the garage ceilings for this use.

Create direct link to chat in Microsoft Teams without going through browser

Lately, for my engineering projects, I’ve been creating “project dashboards” in OneNote for colleagues to find all of the key information, contacts and documents for the project.

I wanted to be able to link the names of key people directly to a chat window in Microsoft Teams to that you can just start chatting with them immediately.

I found a few guides online which recommend a URL scheme utilising https://teams.microsoft.com. I tested it out and it does indeed work, but it does so by opening a browser window first. Not only does this add to the delay, but it means opening extraneous tabs which need to be closed again. Since I’m all about efficiency, I wanted to find a way around that.

What Trump can teach us about Constitutional Law

I feel it is my civic duty to share with you my absolute favourite new podcast: What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law, or Trump Con Law for short.

Before you see the word Trump and instantly start forming opinions for yourself about what this podcast is, let me inform you. The beauty of this podcast is that it gives a really deep dive into constitutional law with a lot of case law, assuming that you have next to no knowledge of the Constitution, and the topics are prompted by the things that Trump says or does; that is, it takes current affairs, and looks at how the Constitution applies to them and provides the case law that establishes the precedents.

One of the main values of bringing Trump into the equation is not too rally behind him, or rail against him, but rather to give us context for these constitutional principles and how they apply to our lives.

Becoming an American citizen

I live and die by my to-do list. Anything that needs doing needs to be in there or it won’t get done. So, when I got my permanent green card 12 years ago, I set up a reminder for earlier this year that I would need to renew it.

After taking a look at the situation, I was presented with a choice: renew my green card for 10 years for $540, or become an American citizen and pay $725 one time.

Previously, I’d never given it much thought. I had zero desire to become an American citizen and very much wanted to retain my British citizenship. But after actually thinking about it and asking myself the question, I decided there were definitely some benefits to becoming an American citizen: