• February 22, 2017

Wilson & Associates Monthly Newsletter, February 2017


    Where the Magic Happens

     By:  Bonnie Bryan Denham

    As a Technical Editor that’s spent 4 years in the aerospace industry and 11 years in the oil and gas industry, a popular phrase I’ve gotten used to hearing is, “Work your magic.” This “magic” (mostly white magic, but sometimes involving a little black magic when MS Word is misbehaving) can encompass a lot.  I should probably say, it encompasses everything.

    Checking documents for spelling and grammar errors is just the beginning of what this phrase means to the teams I’ve supported over the years. To me, this magic also includes stellar customer service and a never-ending, enthusiastic willingness to help.

    While writing this article I was asked to think of the most seemingly mysterious issues I’ve been asked by clients to remedy – things that don’t just involve formatting fixes. Three issues that come to mind are:

    1.  Reducing the size of a file that started out small but has suddenly grown, to make it email-able again
    2.  Removing stuck watermarks
    3.  Consolidating multiple files of revisions into a master file (when reviewers didn’t use SharePoint or MS Word’s Track Changes feature)

    Continue reading the full article on our website

    The magic behind the first issue actually involves three things: accepting all changes in the document if they’ve been tracked for any extended time (this backlog will eventually affect a document’s formatting as well), cutting figures out and re-pasting them using Paste Special, and/or resizing figures using layout options instead of dragging the corners.

    The magic behind the second issue (and yes, this issue is a weird, unexplainable one) requires double-clicking to access the header area on the page that contains the rogue watermark. Once you’re in the header area, click on the watermark down below as if you were selecting an image.  Then, just hit the delete key.

    The magic behind the third issue involves using MS Word’s Document Compare/Combine feature. Go to the Review tab, and click on the Compare button in the ribbon. Make a selection based on your needs.

    Over time I’ve also become acutely aware of how much trust is involved when a client hands over a document, and all they offer me in terms of what to do with it is a brief “Work your magic!” that they shout over their shoulder at me as they rush back down the hall to make a meeting. It’s a lot of pressure, but by this point we’re both (Author/Engineer and Technical Editor) comfortable; we’re in the zone.  It’s a good place to be. This zone of mutual understanding, where you can literally witness Office NPT (non-productive time) being reduced, is where W&A strives to be with each of our clients, from day one.

    While I’m always willing to do whatever I can to help, I also want to ensure that I’m not seen as a gate-keeper or roadblock. I don’t want people to feel like they can’t do something without me. (I’d also like to enjoy vacations without my phone.) When asked, I’m always willing to showcase a little of the so-called magic. And no, I’m not worried about teaching myself out of a job. (As soon as you fix one issue, MS Word specifically will loyally issue another.)  After the “magic show,” people will often comment, “Wow! How did you learn to do that?”  “Practice,” is my usual, humble (and truthful!) response. 

    One way I try to continue to offer this help to current, past, and prospective clients is through the Tips & Tricks offered in each one of our e-newsletters. I’m open to Tips & Tricks suggestions as well, and you can submit requests via the Contact Us form on our website. I’d love to hear from you, and would also like to stay current on issues you’re facing.

    First Principles

     By: John Wilson

    One of the benefits of being old, and I am, is that you can “remember when.” As in when stuff happened. It helps with that thing called perspective.  I can look back and see how the landscape has changed, and think about what I might or should have done differently. Email, for instance, has made mincemeat of business communications. Torn it apart and left it on the floor for dead. I should have known better, but I fell into the trap along with everyone else. But it is time to reclaim the territory.

    In the old order, business communication focused on two areas: business-to-business and interoffice. Business-to-business communication had three facets:

    • Face-to-face
    • Phone
    • Letter

    There were increasing levels of formality, the letter being the ultimate, iron-clad tool for summing things up and sealing deals. Face-to-face happened at trade shows or in offices and was typically expensive because it involved travel. The phone was the preferred medium for daily work.

    Interoffice communication was a slightly different story. It primarily involved phone and face-to-face, but with the memo standing in for the letter. Around the office we talked to one another, a lot. You sent memos to make proposals, summarize meetings, and formalize plans. It was all straight forward and hierarchical and well established by the time I arrived.

    1701 Newsletter Figure 1


    What followed would completely reshape business communications, practically ensuring the need for the company I founded to step in and help sort through the noise using tools based on those first principles.

    Continue reading the full article on our website


    Files not opening in SharePoint?

    You uploaded a document or video into SharePoint and now it won’t open, or won’t play, but other files at that location have no issues.  What could suddenly be wrong?


    First, make sure the file name doesn’t contain any special characters, like & or #.

    Next, make sure the file name is not too long.  When a document or image is uploaded to SharePoint, information is stored in the URL (or hyperlink).  That entire path/hyperlink is part of the file name as far as the system is concerned.  SharePoint “out of the box” or “off the shelf” (meaning not customized) has a 255 character limit.  If you exceed that limit, files will no longer open.

    The same goes for videos.  When a video is uploaded to SharePoint, not only does the file name get tacked on to the end of the URL, but video rendition information gets added as well.  All of that contributes to the length of the file name.


    First, delete any special characters from the file name before you upload the file to SharePoint.

    Next, shorten the file name. Note that this must also be done before you upload a document or video to SharePoint.  Simply going in and shortening the file name in the Document Properties will not change the length of the URL that was assigned when the file was first uploaded.

    If a file opens for you, but will not open for someone else, make sure you checked in the file.

    One last trick for videos that still won’t play after you tried the tricks above – In SharePoint, video renditions also have to be checked in.  To check the status of this, go into the video’s properties and click on Manage Renditions. The current rendition will be displayed just like a file.  Click the drop-down that appears to the right of the file name when you mouse over it. (In later versions of SharePoint, click the ellipsis [3 dots] to the right of the file name). Select the option to Check In.  If you receive any errors, verify that you have all required metadata filled out first.

    Get more Tips & Tricks in the online archive on our website as they are added with each new newsletter.

    Email phishing

    Throughout the day we all get so many emails.  When productivity is highest, we are at a higher risk to fall prey to phishing attempts. Phishing is “the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information.” As you’re answering email after email, making lots of progress lowering that high number to the right of your Inbox folder, you come across an email that doesn’t stand out from any other.  You click on a link or respond to questions, and now… well, it may be too late. A computer virus could be running on your computer, or a malicious entity could have access to personal information.

    The following tips & tricks can assist you in figuring out if an email is likely a phishing attempt.


    Trust your instincts.  If something about an email just looks “off,” proceed with caution. It is not uncommon for phishing emails to contain company logos or use names and email addresses that are similar to real ones. Do not click on any links or call listed phone numbers. Do not save, reply, or forward the email, except to send it to your company security personnel for evaluation, if possible.


    1. Take a close look at the sender’s email address. Is the formatting consistent, or is there extra information added?
    2. Google any included addresses or phone numbers of companies mentioned in the email to verify they are a match.
    3. Mouse-over (but do not click) any hyperlinks in the email. The real, full path will appear in a pop-out near your cursor and also at the bottom-left of your screen. Does it look suspicious or not match the link in the email?
    4. Be cautious of any email that asks for personal information. Most institutions will not ask for such information over email.
    5. Be cautious of any email that prompts you to take action quickly or that contains a fast-approaching deadline to respond. This is a method used to make you act quickly without thinking.
    6. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors are also “red flags” that something is amiss.

    Get more Tips & Tricks in the online archive on our website as they are added with each new newsletter.