Tag: <span>ZIP</span>

Have you ever shared a Word document with someone only to find the images it included didn’t get sent over?

This is probably because the images you had were linked rather than embedded. You now have two options:

  1. ZIP the entire folder with the Word document and all the images (and hope that the links are relative and not absolute). I use 7Zip for such things (it’s free).
  2. Change all the linked images to be embedded within the Word document.

The latter option will result in a larger file size, but means you are only sending one file. But how do you do it? Microsoft haven’t made it very easy but the key is locating the Links dialog. This shows all the linked images and allows you to break the link and embedded them. The tricky bit is finding this elusive dialog.

Here’s how it works on my version of Microsoft Word, Office Professional 2010.

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If you don’t see the Edit Links option, here is how to add it, once it’s added, it should appear as per the video above.

I’ve written about this twice already, but as they continue to be amongst the most viewed I thought it was worth updating the information.

Tech

How long is a piece of string?

It’s a common question and one I’ve occasionally used in reply when asked “We are building this new thing. How long will it take to provide some documentation for it?”

Estimating the amount of time it takes to write documentation is tricky as it relies on many differing, subtle, factors and, for many people working outside of a highly regimented and heavily project managed team, it tends to boil down to a mixture of guesswork and experience.

However, it’s not impossible to come up with a more reasoned estimate as long as you don’t mind doing a little planning. Although, to be frank, if you aren’t planning your work, you can probably stop reading now and go find a copy of Information Development: Managing Your Documentation Projects, Portfolio, and People.

So in the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d cover a planning aid I’ve used in the past and have, very recently, uncovered again. It’s focussed on topic based writing, so can be used whether you are single sourcing your content, or not but I should caveat that it was created with single sourcing your content in mind. This is based on a system I’ve seen elsewhere, alas I can’t recall the original source, if you know where this comes from, please let me know. I’ve adapted it for my own needs but happy to credit the original author (Hackos?).

The idea is simple enough. You break down your planned content into topics, with a topic defined as a discrete amount of information that shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to write. Then, when you add in time for review and rewrite, you can take an educated guess at how long an ‘average topic’ takes to complete. So, for discussions sake, let’s say an average topic* takes around 5 hours to complete. Nothing revolutionary so far.

Each topic is then scored against four criteria, with the scoring used to add/subtract an appropriate level of variance:

  1. Difficulty of Topic – do you know what you are writing about or is it brand new? Is it a simple topic or something complex?
  2. Scope of Topic – Does the difficulty dictate that a lot of content is needed? Or is it a short topic of fixed content?
  3. Availability of Information – are you updating an existing document? Do you have a specification to work from? Or are you having to write from scratch?
  4. Access to SME – do you have good access to a Subject Matter Expert? Do you have limited access only? Or none at all?

Each topic is scored, from 1 (long, hard, complex) to 5 (short, easy, simple), against each criteria. An ‘average topic’ would score 3 for each criteria and won’t affect the estimate from the standard 5 hours. Scoring the topics this way allows you to factor in a level of variance, so a difficult topic with a large scope which has no information available and for which you have no access to an SME, will score lowest marks (all critera score 1) and has the highest level of variance from your standard topic estimate.

The criteria are fairly high level and you could certainly expand on these for a more granular approach but I’ve found that most issues can be assigned to one of the above criteria and that keeps the estimation as simple as possible.

The variance can then be calculated (again with an estimated time) so that you can adjust the time it takes to complete the topic, for example:

  1. Score 1 – variance of +2hrs per criteria
  2. Score 2 – variance of +1hr per criteria
  3. Score 3 – zero variance
  4. Score 4 – variance of -30mins per criteria
  5. Score 5 – variance of -1hr per criteria

The figures given above are, also, estimated. You’ll note that the higher scored (and therefore lower variance) topics don’t ‘gain’ you proportionately the same amount as you lose to the lower scored (higher variance) topics. The reality is that, no matter how simple the topic, they still take time to create (increasing the gain numbers could result in a topic taking less than zero time to create!).

So a long, complex and hard topic, with little to no information and no available expert will will score 1 across the four criteria and so add 8 hours (2hrs per criteria) to the estimated completion time for that topic, taking the estimated total for that topic to 13 hours.

Flip the example round, a short, simple topic which comes with sufficient supporting information and an SME sitting on your desk to help you write it. That topic would score 5 for each criteria, and gain you 4 hours, meaning the estimated total for that topic would drop to 1 hour.

Now, the obvious thing to do would be to create a spreadsheet for all of this, that allows you to simple add in your topics, score them against the criteria and calculate the total estimated time (and whilst it’s at it, it can add in a level of contingency too). Which is exactly what I did.

Download the estimation spreadsheet (6KB ZIP file, contains Excel Spreadsheet)

The spreadsheet is annotated to help you understand it, and includes two additional columns which let us track when a topic was added to the spreadsheet (either as part of the initial planning, identified during the review cycle, or because of a change in product scope). All of the calculations are basic arithmetic so feel free to have a poke around and try this out.

It’s not an exact system, but that’s why they are called estimates and if nothing else it helps my team plan what they are writing about which, sometimes, is more valuable than the estimates themselves.

* this is probably the most contentious part of this method and may take some refinement to arrive at a workable number.

Work

What I did (for Lyle and anyone else).

Usual caveats apply, if you’ve done a lot of hacking then YOU need to know what YOU’VE changed. This is all taken from the WordPress Upgrade documentation. Worked for me.

The Preparation
1. Backup your database and the files on your site.
2. Download the WordPress ZIP file for 1.5.2.
3. De-activate all plugins on your site (will make your site look funny until the files are upgraded). I’d suggest taking a note of them as well, just in case you need to upgrade them too (I didn’t have to).

Note: It is NOT necessary to run install.php or upgrade.php as no changes are made to the database. As with all WordPress upgrades, the contents of your /wp-content/ folder should remain intact and unchanged.

The Upgrade
1. Delete /wp-admin/ folder.
2. Delete /wp-includes/ folder
3. Delete all the wordpress files in the root directory where the root index.php file is found. DO NOT DELETE wp-config.php. Note: My WordPress install is in a separate folder, I deleted all the files in my “WordPress” folder, leaving the remaining folders intact.
4. Download and extract the new version.
5. Upload the appropriate folders – /wp-admin/ and /wp-includes/ – and the files they contain.
6. Upload all the files in the WordPress root directory to your WordPress folder.
7. Re-activate your plugins.

Done. Hopefully. Was a breeze this time round, the docs could still do with a little “dis-ambiguating” and I guess it’s about time I used my membership of the doc team to good effect!

Blogging Tech

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Odd

Cripes. Almost over. Where did it go? What did we do?

I hate weekends like this, ZIP! and they’re done.

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ZIP

Caron Keating R.I.P., create World Blogs page, finish compiling book list, which car to buy?, compile DVD list, find PNG icons for Y’z Dock, Kevin McDermott Orchestra CD needs replacing (it’s almost transparent), Pick up futon tonight, clear out colleagues desk for her, when is ellipitical trainer arriving?, gas bill needs paying, Stuart’s birthday, Mother-in-laws birthday, Jennie’s birthday, Claire’s birthday, what else in May?, kids at weekend, working at weekend, SCOTTISH BLOGS STILL NOT FINISHED!!!!

Phew. I can’t keep up, several other news items have zipped into, and through, my head today and I can’t remember a single one. I think I need a new blogging tool, one that isn’t browser based so I can store snippets/drafts easily… maybe ecto is the answer, or w.bloggar, or hell Notepad would do.

Or maybe I need to train my brain to store things for longer than a nanosecond or two.

I’m very busy at work, so things will be quiet here until the end of next week. Well, quieter than normal, maybe… christ knows I’ve said that before and ended up posting twice as much (there must be some sort of psychological reasoning going on somewhere in my head but I can’t be arsed thinking about it right now). Ohhh and if anyone feels sorry for me and wants to cheer me up, you can buy me this.

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Back on the skinning/custo thing. Been downloading wallpapers and skins like mad. My hard disk is getting seriously whacked and I really need to back things up. So I should really be saving my pennies to buy a new power lead for my ZIP drive, but it’s so damn slow and a lot of the stuff I would quite happily dump onto CD. So I should really be looking at getting a CD rewriter, but I don’t think my PC could handle it, so I should really be looking to get a bigger harddrive, not sure I’ve got room, so maybe a new PC… damn that was too easy.

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