Sorting lists randomly in Excel

Recently, I needed to sort a list of names in random order. Rather than manually figure out a random sort, I decided to see if Excel could do the sort for me. Guess what - it can! It's a little clunky, but it works.

  • Enter the list of names in an Excel column.
  • Select the column, right-click and choose Insert to insert a new column next to the list of names.

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  • Enter the formula =RAND() into the first cell of the new column.
    • (The RAND function will generate a random number in the cell.)

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  • Copy the =RAND() formula from the first cell to the rest of the cells, until you get to the end of the list of names.
    • (Click on the lower right-hand corner of the cell, and then drag the mouse down to the end of the list.)
  • You will now have a column with random numbers.

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  • Select the column of random numbers.
    • (Go back to the top of the column and click on the column's letter to select the column.)
  • Go to Sort & Filter and choose Sort Smallest to Largest.

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  • You will get a pop-up. Choose Expand the Selection, and click the Sort button.

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  • The list of names will sort in a random order, based on the numbers that were generated by the RAND function.
    • (Note that you can repeat the Sort & Filter process to generate a new random sort.)

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  • You can delete the column of numbers after you are satisfied with the name sorting. 

Change the default search engine in Microsoft Edge (Windows 10 users)

Those of you that have received a new PC within the last several months have seen that we are deploying Windows 10 PCs. With that Microsoft Edge has taken over Internet Explorer as the stock browser.  Edge uses Bing as the default search engine. Some users may not care for Bing. Users can change this default search engine to any they would like but the process is a bit different than other browsers like Chrome or Firefox. The following will explain how to change the default search engine for Microsoft Edge:

  • In Microsoft Edge, go to the website of the new, preferred search engine (exa. Google.com)
  • Select More actions > Settings, scroll down and click View advanced settings, scroll again and click Change search engine
  • Select the new search engine’s website within the list, then select Set as default
  • *Note* You must have visited the site prior to be able to see the website in the list

Why Jing?

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Jing is a productivity tools that I have relied on for years. This free, easy to use, and powerful screencast program is useful when answering reference questions (even on chat), creating quick training videos, and developing step-by-step procedures. 

Here are my 5 favorite Jing features along with resources to get you started.

 

Favorite Jing Features:

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1. Annotate Images: After using Jing’s Capture feature to grab an image, you can add arrows, text, frames, and highlight features.

2. Narrate Videos: With Jing’s Capture, you can create a short video (less than 5 minutes) with or without narration. If you choose to add audio, you are prompted to connect to a microphone. Pause and restart buttons make it easy to record, and re-record the video.


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3. Retrieve and Update Content: Jing’s History feature lets you locate, select, and reuse previous Jing content.

 


2017-05-19_1013_0014. Capture HotKey: Jing provides More features for defining preferences such as customized hotkeys. The Capture HotKey can be useful for capturing pull-down menus. 

 

5.  Web Hosting: If you setup a screencast.com account, you can upload your Jing videos and/or screenshots to the web.  A url and embed code is then available for sharing the Jing content.  (Limitations = Jing users have 2 GB of storage, and 2 GB of bandwidth per month.)

 

Resources:

Free Jing Download:  https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html

Jing Training Materials: https://www.techsmith.com/tutorial-jing.html

ScreenCast Account FAQ: https://www.techsmith.com/tutorial-jing-what-is-screencastcom.html

Disable Video Autoplay

How often have you been peacefully reading online content on your PC and some garish video unexpectedly takes over? Boom! Peace gone. You can configure your browsers to disable video autoplay. Here’s how.

Disable autoplay

Before we get started, please note that not all browser versions may have some of the click-through options mentioned below. That could be interpreted in a variety of ways. It could be that the video autoplay was not enabled to begin with or your version of browser has a different set of steps to disable this feature. Consider the steps below as guidelines.

 

Firefox

- Type “about:config” in the address bar.
- Accept the warning.
- Do a search for “media.autoplay.enabled”
- Double-click it. This will set the ‘value’ to ‘false’ and will turn off HTML elements

 

 

 


Ie
- Go to “Tools” and select “Manage-add-ons”
- Select “Tool bars and exensions” in the left pane.
- Locate and double-click “Shockwave Flash Object” on the right.
- Select the “Disable” button and then click the “Close” button.

 

 

Chrome

- Go to the Chrome Web Store
- Search for “disable HTML5 autoplay”
- Click the “Add to Chrome” button
- Click the “Add extension” button in the pop-up

 

 

Each of these ‘disable’ steps are reversible. The effectiveness of the disable may vary from browser to browser but hopefully videos barging in on your reading will at least be diminished.  Peace out!

 

What do you know about BadgerLink?

BadgerLink is a service provided by the Department of Public Instruction which provides Wisconsin residents with licensed content not available through regular search engines.
BadgerLink
Some of the resources BadgerLink provides include LearningExpress Library (practice tests and tutorials for students and adult learners), EBSCO databases (everything from auto repair to articles on business, health, and general topics), HeritageQuest Online (genealogy resources), to name just a few. We link to some of the BadgerLink resources from the SCLS System-Wide Resources webpage for easy access for SCLS residents, and the full collection resources is available from the BadgerLink website.

Here are some more interesting tidbits about BadgerLink.

Did you know...

Although I use BadgerLink resources all the time, I had never known exactly how BadgerLink is funded, who is behind the scenes, and how BadgerLink came to be until I read "Behind the Scenes at BadgerLink." It's worth a look!

Updated PC order form

The SCLS order form has been updated to include the current Dell PC and laptop models.

The form now includes two PC (Optiplex) and two laptop (Latitude) models. Both systems offer a lower end 3000 series and a higher end 5000 series device. The 3000 series PCs and laptops are configured more for patron and the low level staff stations that don’t have a lot of devices connected to them. The 5000 series PCs and laptops are configured more for staff stations that have several devices connected to them, like RFID tagging stations, Label printers and receipt printers. Both of the 5000 series models can accommodate higher end processors like the Intel core i7 and more RAM, up to 16GB.

The biggest differences between the new 3000 series models and the 5000 series model PCs is the number of ports available. The 3000 series has 8 USB ports, 4 in the front and 4 in the back. It also has one display port so you can control two monitors from the same PC. The 5000 series has 10 USB ports, 4 in the front and 6 in the back. It has two display ports to control up to 3 monitors. It also has legacy serial, keyboard and mouse ports, which I know you will not need, but they are there, just in case.

Both laptop models have a 15.6 inch screen; they also include the number pad on the keyboard. The 3000 series laptop has 3 USB ports whereas the 5000 series laptop has 2 USB ports and a USB C port for connecting to a dock.

Undo Send for Outlook on the Web

Microsoft added an Undo Send feature to Outlook on the Web back in January.  Those of you who use the SCLS-supported Office 365 mail can enable the Undo Send feature for up to 30 seconds by following these simple steps.

  1. Log into your Office 365 mail.
  2. Click the Settings gear button at the upper-right.
    Gear
  3. Click Mail at the bottom.
  4. Beneath the Automatic processing menu, click Undo send.
    Menu
  5. Select Let me cancel messages I've sent for and select a time period from the dropdown.
    Time
  6. Click Save.
  7. Click the back arrow to go back to your mailboxes.
    Options Arrow

You have now turned on the Undo Send feature.  How do you actually use it?

  1. After you have sent your email, click the Drafts folder.  All mail that you send will hang out in the Drafts folder for the amount of time you specified earlier.
  2. In the Drafts folder, select the email you want to stop from sending.  It is probably the top message.
  3. In the upper-right of the email, you will see a progress bar.  Click Undo.
    Undo Progress bar
  4. At this point, you can either edit your message and Send it again, or simply get rid of it by clicking Discard.
    Discard

Have a good weekend everyone!

Parents - Stop Hovering and Start Monitoring in Google Chrome

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As a parent to a preteen, I have struggled with giving my daughter unsupervised access to the internet.  Even though schools provide a lot of information to children about internet safety and we’ve had many discussions about household internet rules, I still wanted a way to monitor her activities without “hovering.”

Google Chrome has an easy solution I find useful.  Chrome allows you to set up a separate profile for your child, which parents can monitor and control.

You will first need to create a new profile by going to Settings > People > Add person. Make sure to click the box next to "Control and view the websites this person visits from [your log-on account] and click Add. These supervised profiles will not be set up with their own Google identity/log-on account.  (This means they are not supposed to be tracked or targeted by Google's ad business.)

Within 15 minutes, you should receive an email link to access the supervised user's page. There you will have the ability to block certain sites, keep SafeSearch on lock, and view that user's Web activities. You can then log your kid into Chrome under their own profile by clicking the identity tag up in the top-right corner of the browser window. You also have the ability to set up and customize multiple profiles for multiple children.

This has been an easy way for me to have some peace of mind and also prompts communication between me and my daughter about what she is viewing online.   Of course these discussions aren't always easy, but are sometimes necessary given our increased use of the internet in every day life.   

 

Amazon for photos?

Are you like me and tend to take a lot of pictures of your cats and dogs with your cell phone?  My phone alerted me the other day that I was running out of space, so naturally I assumed I had a lot of pictures.  7 GBs of just pictures! (Most of them of my cats and dogs)  So I went looking for a backup solution.  I backup my pictures on a hard drive at home, but I wanted a second way to back up so that I can remove some from my actual phone but still view them if needed.  Cloud storage was the answer I was looking for. 

After doing a basic google search I found out that Amazon offers cloud storage similar to Dropbox and Google drive called Amazon Drive.  However, if you are an Amazon Prime member (which if you aren’t and order as much as I do, you’re missing out) you can get a sweet deal. 

Having a prime membership means you can store 10 GBs of videos and files with them and unlimited storage for photos.  That’s a lot of cat pictures.  That is a great deal for myself since I already have Amazon Prime anyways.  If 10 GB for videos and files isn’t enough space, you can purchase the unlimited storage plan for $59.99 a year.

That's a lot of cat pictures...
My Amazon Drive details

There are a couple apps to know about when beginning this process.  The first being Amazon Drive where you can see all videos, files and pictures you have stored in the cloud.  You can choose which files to upload or just have them all upload as soon as they are on your phone. 

The next app you will want is Amazon Photos which you can use to actually transfer photos from your phone to the cloud.  You can set up the transfer to auto-save after you take a picture too.  I set my phone up so that it will only backup on a Wi-Fi connection and when it is charging.  That way it will do it at night and not use battery power or mobile data during the day. The other nice thing about the Amazon Photos app is that is you can share the photo directly from the app through a text message, email, or post on social media.

The final app is one for your computer where you can additionally view and backup photos with Amazon Drive.  This is available for Macs and PCs and allows you to view and organize the photos with a computer rather than your phone.

One last cool thing about all of this is if you go Amazon.com on your computer and open photos that way you can actually order prints from Amazon.  They have just plain photo options or you can put all those cat pictures on coffee mugs, canvas, cards, or calendars.  The prices are good and free shipping if you’re a prime member! 

 

My cats Bud & Weiser
Example of a cat photo you can store on Amazon Drive

There is no such thing as too many cat photos.

Is that shortened URL safe or not?

Shortened URLs are very popular and are used quite frequently on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. They have been around for a while and we've even written about them in past TechBits articles.  (Shorter URLs and Sneaky little URLs)

Is that shortened URL safe?Just because shortened URLs been around a while doesn't mean they're always safe to click on though.  For example, if you saw a Facebook post that said that http://bit.ly/2pmmQqK was a video of two Olympic hopeful figure skaters, would you know if it was safe or not?  Where is the link really going to take you?  Well, now there is a website that will both tell you where it is really going and also let you know if it is a safe site or not.  The web site address is http://getlinkinfo.com.  This website works with all of the URL shortening services out there, shows you where the URL is really going and lets you know if the URL is safe or not.  Test it out with the shortened URL that I gave you earlier in the article.  Then once you know that it's safe and where it's going you can click on the link and enjoy the show.

(Photo by mensatic at Morguefile.com)