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.

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.

Why experts cost so much

If a task takes me 30 minutes to do, it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes.

Unknown

If you’re a consumer, you may get taken aback by how much certain people charge for their services. These might include professionals in well-established fields like lawyers and accountants, but may also extend to people who are professionals in their own right, but in less traditional fields, like photographers, web developers and wedding planners.

The truth is, these people are experts in their fields and it took them a long time to get to where they are. Certain tasks they can do very quickly, not because they are simple (otherwise you would be doing them), but because they spent years (and probably lots of money) learning and perfecting their craft.

Visualizing bends rolled in 3D

I had an interesting problem come up today, which defeated my Friday afternoon trigonometry skills.

I was laying out some piping today, and it’s easy to figure out how much distance you’ll cover in each direction if the bend is installed completely flat, or completely vertically, but if you roll that bend to achieve a given amount of rise and horizontal offset, it’s harder to figure out the resultant angle in plan view and how much horizontal distance the pipe covers in the other direction.

The case for role-based email addresses

I’ve worked with my own websites for long enough now – and certainly enough client websites – to know that it is a nightmare to either publish your email address, or to route contact forms to your own email address.

As you’ll come to realise, people come and go at companies. So if you’ve been writing articles for years, inviting people to email [email protected] if they want to discuss it further, when Sarah resigns and now you want people to contact Lisa instead, you’ve got to go through and change all of those articles.

Mini Metro: the perfect iOS game for nerds and engineers (or nerdy engineers!)

I just came across a new game for iOS which has me embarrassingly addicted.

Let’s be clear: I don’t play games on my phone. The only exception is Chess. However, as a big old nerd with autistic tendencies, building my own Metro/Subway/Tube system, refining it, expanding it, making it more efficient and watching it run makes me happier than it should. So when I came across Mini Metro, I found a new pastime.

A Photoshop template for Oregon PE seal

Previously, I created and shared a Photoshop template for a Florida PE seal. Now, since I’ve moved to Oregon, I also needed an Oregon PE seal. So I made one.

Without any fanfare, here it is for your use.

Elon Musk’s visions for the future

I see and read a lot about Elon Musk, between his appearances in the news and the technology and engineering articles that I tend to gravitate towards, but I don’t recall having ever seen an interview with him.

My love of Wait But Why has given me a very thorough run-down of Elon’s projects over the last few years between Tesla, Hyperloop, SpaceX and more recently Neuralink, and it has always been clear from the sheer scale of his vision that he’s a brilliant mind that is thinking decades ahead of us. However, reading about him and his projects doesn’t make you appreciate his genius quite like seeing him talk about them.

Elon recently did an interview at TED2017 and for 40 minutes, he and Chris Anderson talked about all of the projects that Elon is juggling. What is most captivating is the way in which Elon thinks about the future and rationally asserts how things are going to change in the future.

Adverbs and Americans

One thing in particular that bugs me about what Americans say and how they say it is their complete disregard for adverbs.

For those who have forgotten since fourth grade, adverbs describe how something is done. The very name is a portmanteau of adjective (describing how) and verb (something is done).

For example, if I run down a hill and I do so with some speed, you might say that I have run down the hill quickly. I did not “run down the hill real quick“. Similarly, if I don’t know the rules of grammar, you might say that I don’t know how to speak properly. It is not the case that I “can’t speak proper“.

Adverbs help add color and imagery to an otherwise factual description of something. They are distinct from adjectives and should be treated as such. I can be quick and I can run quickly, but I cannot run quick.