Month: November 2018

Best Dimming Light Bulbs

We purchased a house full of Z-wave dimmers (Leviton VRMX-1LZ and DZSM-1LZ) as a Christmas season special from Leviton two years ago. We were really happy to have dimmers throughout the house — we could use the existing lighting as nightlights, have movie nights with a little pathway lighting … and then we installed a few dimmers and realized the bulbs dimmed. But not DIM dimmed. It was a massive bummer, and significantly diminished the couple hundred bucks we’d dropped on these smart dimmers. 

We even called Leviton & got a paper they publish with how different bulbs dim with their various dimmers. And realized that all of the bulbs that went down to 1 or 2% were discontinued. Another bummer! The paper is updated periodically, but even the early 2018 iteration failed to yield any in-production well-dimming bulbs.

Over the summer, I came across a review of various dimmable LED light bulbs. The guy had an integrating sphere rigged up and was measuring output and colour — seemed like he put a lot of effort into it (and I’d LOVE to find that write-up again!). His write-up indicated that Home Depot’s “house brand” bulbs, EcoSmart, dimmed down to basically nothing. I added EcoSmart 60W bulbs to my “next time you’re at Home Depot” list and finally remembered to pick them up in September. Except there were two types — plastic ones and glass ones that can be used in closed fixtures. The plastic ones dimmed well — way better than any of the Cree, Phillips, or Lighting Science bulbs we’d tried. But the glass ones — they dimmed to the point of being off. We had to go through and change what the dimmers consider zero because these bulbs were TOO dim. And they didn’t hum, buzz, or flicker. I was thrilled — swapped out the downstairs hallway bulbs with these glass EcoSmart LEDs and the light fixtures have become nightlights. 

I wanted to get bulbs for the other hallway, bedrooms, and bathrooms. So I ordered the bulbs online & they showed up. Replaced one set of bedroom bulbs, dimmed them … and they’re about on par with the Cree bulbs we had. Huh? Upon investigation, while the bulbs we got delivered had the exact same part number, they had a different UPC. And a different product code above the UPC. Even odder — the energy draw and estimated annual cost were different. Apparently there are different revisions of the bulbs, and the 02 revision doesn’t dim any better than every other bulb out there. 

We returned the bulbs and checked the light bulb aisle at the store for any with UPC 693690563636 and product code ABA19A60WESD01 — and found a bunch on the shelves. They also had the 02 revision and a 03 revision. Since the 01 ones were a known quantity, we bought them. And they dim down to nothing! It’s been just about two years, but the dimmers we’ve put in are finally PERFECT. 

Off Label Use: Git

I store a lot of code in Git-based systems, and I read through parts of my state’s Revised Code on occasion. But it never occurred to me to store the Revised Code in a Git-based system

Imagine being able to comment on a pull request and have your commentary considered during the public hearings for the proposed change. Sure, there’s elitism to assuming everyone’s got a computer and time to peruse proposed changes. But not more than assuming everyone’s got an hour to head over to Town Hall and attend the public hearing. 

And the storage system retains history for you — a pull request created by government officials due to newly enacted laws could reference the law itself. If you’re convinced the auxiliary building was totally in compliance of zoning regs when you built it … you could run through the history and identify exactly when the setback requirements changed. 

Did you know …OneNote can extract text from images?


You’ll need to use the application, not the OneNote website. Insert the picture – from the ribbon bar, select “Insert” then “Pictures”. Select the image you want and click OK.

Right-click on the image. “Copy Text from Picture” does exactly that – if your image is low resolution or really blurry, it’ll take a minute for this option to be available. Wait a bit and right-click again.

The text from the image is now in your clipboard. I’m pasting it into the same OneNote page, but you can paste it anywhere.

Voila! Text:

Did you know …OneDrive can search for text within images?


It can! Store pictures of business cards and you can search for names. Take pictures of installations and find a set of photos by the business signage. Search through your expense reporting receipts for a specific restaurant. You don’t even to do anything except save an image file on OneDrive for Business to enable this feature.

To find an image containing specific text, open OneDrive from WinAnywhereand use the search dialogue.

In this example, I’m looking for the receipt from a meal –but I haven’t included the restaurant name on the receipt images. But I can search for the restaurant name – type part of the name and hit enter.

The search result set include an image file:

And that’s exactly the receipt I needed!

Text indexing is performed on image files like bmp, png,jpg/jpeg, gif, tiff, and even raw. Slightly blurry out-of-focus pictures snapped in poor lighting are indexed too 😊

* Text is not immediately indexed upon upload – it took about twelve minutes before I was able to search for the image I had uploaded.

Did you know … there are keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Teams?

I know modern software is driven by graphical user interfaces, but as an old-school Unix admin (there were loads of interface choices – Bourne shell, c shell, korn shell, bash shell!) it’s weird to take my hand away from my keyboard just to turn a bit of text bold or move to a new field. And Microsoft has done a decent job of standardizing keyboard shortcuts across their applications – ctrl-b will toggle “bold” pretty much anywhere (even Teams!)

But … within your Teams client (even the web client) hold the “Ctrl” key and type a full stop (.) and look – special keyboard shortcuts!

There’s even a link at the bottom for all of the shortcuts on Windows and Mac. I can hit ctrl-shift-1 to flip over to my Activity feed; ctrl-shift-3 puts me back in the Teams chat section.

Just like Helsinki

When Trump first trotted out his hypothesis that logging would have somehow saved the large swaths of construction from forest fires, I rolled my eyes and thought back to his campaign touted secret plan to defeat ISIL … which turned out to be consulting Generals. Which, as far as a military tactic goes is, worked about as well as all of the previous approaches (which, I suppose in his head, did not include this brilliant consulting step). Logging — which generally takes the big solid part of the tree (a.k.a. the trunk) and leaves behind all of the little bits (twigs, branches, leaves, underbrush) seems more apt to promote conflagrations — all of those little twigs, branches, leaves, and whatnot lay around, dry up … insta-kindling.

But yesterday’s proclamation that we’d be fine if we were only cleaning up the forest floor like Finland really bothers me. Not because of the obvious climate differences between a country averaging 27″ of rain (and I believe had an above average precipitation total last year) and an area that got, what, not quite 5″ in the last July-June season? Or the twenty or thirty degree temperature difference. But because of the absolute ignorance of international news. This is the sort of thing people at the White House get paid to keep track of. Finland had an unusual number of fires this last yearSweden too.

Did you know … there’s version history for Microsoft Teams files too?

There is — which is obvious once you start thinking about how Teams data is stored. The “Files” tab is a pretty front end for a SharePoint document library, and document libraries store version history. The problem is I didn’t know a good way to walk an end user through accessing that document library. I’d generally do a screen sharing session with the user & navigate them to the right place myself. And then I saw this — on the Files tab, there is an “Open in SharePoint” button. You don’t need to drill down to find the specific file you want to revert – as long as you are on the proper channel, we’ll be able to get to the document.

Voila! A new tab opens and shows you the SharePoint document library that underpins the Teams Files tab. Now drill down until you find the file for which you are looking.

Click on the not-quite-a hamburger menu – the one between the file name and modify time.

Select “Version History”

To view the previous version, click on the hyperlinked modify timestamp. To restore the previous version, hover your mouse over the modify timestamp of the iteration you want.

On this menu, “View” will show you some information about the file – not actually view the file. Select restore “Restore” to replace the current version (the one that shows up in Teams) with the selected – you’ll be asked to confirm that you want to overwrite the current version.

Once the document has been restored, you’ll have a new entry on the version history pane – so you can even revert your document reversion if needed.

Did you know … Screen Sharing in Teams Chats Is Rolling Out!

I’ve been tracking an RFE for screen sharing in Teams chat — it’s super-simple in Skype, and while it’s possible in Teams (schedule a meeting), it isn’t a one-click simple process. But today, we’ve got a new button in our chat sessions — start sharing your screen!

I don’t see the option in the web client on Firefox or Chrome, but I hope it is coming there too.

Did you know … you can organize your Microsoft Teams list?

You’ve been using Teams for a while, created a few Teams, been added to even more … and you realize that all of these Teams and channels have created clutter of their own. Teams are listed in the order you joined them. Channels are listed in the order they were created. And those first couple of Teams spaces you played around with? All at the top!

But the Teams interface – both the client and the website – allow you to drag Teams around to reorder them. Simply click and hold over the Teams listing you want to move and drag your mouse – there will be a “ghost” listing that tells you where the Teams listing will appear when you release the mouse button.

OK, that’s a little better – now the Teams spaces for my groups are at the top.

That’s still a lot of channels, though. If you remove ‘favorite’ designation from a channel, it will collapse into an expandable menu. Click the hamburger menu next to the channel, then click “Remove favorite”

That’s a LOT better – those channels are still available, just click on “# more channels”

You can remove the favorite designation from a Teams space as well – it will no longer be so prominently displayed in your Teams list. Click on the hamburger menu next to the Teams space listing and click “Remove favorite”

Down to one page! If you want to check one of the hidden Teams, just click “More”

And if you want to get notifications when an important-but-infrequently-used channel has some activity, click the hamburger menu next to the channel and select “Follow this channel”. New posts will be listed in your Activity feed (and e-mailed to you if you’ve set up e-mail notification for followed channels).

Did you know … you can use markdown in Teams messages?

Teams supports markdown within messages – type something like this

And you actually see this:

You’ll know it’s working because the markdown is converted as you type it (pasting a marked down string into Teams doesn’t work — you’ll have the literal characters and not the implied formatting)

You can even type a backtick (`)

To get an inline code block

You can insert multi-line code blocks as well. It’s a little trickier to get a code block in a message since you’ve got to use shift-enter to move to a new line then type three back ticks.

After you type the three back ticks, your cursor will be in the code block. Enter will now move to a new line instead of sending the post.

They’ve got a bug where you cannot do anything after the multi-line code block … but you can always reply to your post if you’ve got something to add.

As of this writing, you cannot paste markdown text into the message and have the formatting rendered. You can paste content into the multi-line code block composer, but you cannot paste *things* with ~markdown in them~ and see “`
pretty output