Busy Ass Summer

EclecticMatt/ July 25, 2014/ old/ 0 comments

As expected… but not what I expected

The Summer was always going to be busy in my line of work (University administration) but this one caught me by surprise. Probably more to do with the fact that there was a lot of stuff going on outside of work that meant I wasn’t ever running at full steam.
Anyhoo it has basically meant that I haven’t been able to give enough time to projects, although I have been cooking up a few things which have been nightmarish… more below.

New office tool

The first thing on my list was a few new office tools, basically adding some enhancements to our adequate but slightly awkward office systems. Initially I was asked if I could out a message box into Outlook which warned users if they had mentioned ‘attachment’ in an email but had not included an actual attachment to the message. This took a little VB tinkering but soon I had a fully working RegExp pattern matching which checked messages for the word ‘attach’ and counted the number of attachments.
Of course, when you do one thing…. it is NEVER just one thing. The next request was to do the same for links.
On the surface this was very similar, however there were hurdles along the way. The main ones were:

  • links are not fixed patterns – you can have so many different versions of ‘mysite.html’ ‘my.site.co.uk/this.php’ ‘http://this.mysite.org/this-is-a-site’ that the RegExp pattern could be described as ‘good’ at best. It will pick up most versions of web addresses and will ignore email addresses, but not 100% of the time.
  • links can be sneakily hidden in other places. The pattern match runs on the full message body, so any links or addresses in email signatures have to be excluded as they include a ‘href=’www.blahblah.com’ tag.
  • the whole system had to be adapted therefore to check the message body text in TWO places – a count of the number of links, link mentions and attachment mentions when the message is opened, be that a new message, a forwarded message, or a reply (this happens in the ItemLoad event in Outlook). The message body text and attachment count is checked again at ItemSend and then the difference is measured so that any links in other parts of the email thread are ignored.
  • as a result of having listeners in the ItemLoad event, I also had to adapt a quick break system to ensure that any other types of item – such as calendar events, tasks and notes – are not disrupted by the macro.

The link/attach checker is pretty much complete and several colleagues are using it currently. I understand there is an attachment check implemented within Outlook 2013, but we are still on 2010.

The Outlook tool

After this came the Outlook tool, which is a small userform which floats in the Outlook window and allows quick access to the student and staff search menus within the University’s webpages and also has quick links to the 6 most used web addresses, including a browser selection option (Chrome/IE/FF/Safari).
This was possibly the most entertaining project I worked on recently, as it got into some Shell access for browser manipulation (tabs/windows and overriding certain default browser actions). It also included some window checking and equations to keep the userform floating where you want it (top corners – 50px).
The Outlook tool just testing to ensure the settings file is written to an accessible folder (temp) on the users desktop to sync favourite links/browsers and positions, then it’s gonna be rolled out to everyone in the office.

New work webpages

I was tasked with redesigning the internal webpages at work, which I have not taken lightly and have designed a structure and design which should be the same on mobile and PC, as well as across browsers.

My Webpages

I have started developing my own website. This has been fun, with some html, php, css, mySql and design all in one. If you really fancy having a look then go here and add your name to the databaseThe database testing page is no longer available.

Java and Android halt

Sadly, I am having SERIOUS issues with my usual IDE (A.I.D.E. which is an android app which allows on-the-fly development and apk export). Changes are not saved, weird errors are appearing on newly-created projects and so I can’t progress with my project. I am developing with Android Studio on the PC now – but that doesn’t really suit me as I’m out of the flat a lot. Ho hum. I’ll get back to it soon. The Github page is coming along nicely too.

That’s it for now – speak soon!

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