Software Quality

October 16, 2014

Why I love Microsoft OneNote – it helps me be more effective

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Allen @ 12:16 pm

Why I love Microsoft OneNote

1. It works well for a person on the go (mobile traveler or a Work-From-Home employee)

I can take it on my laptop, access lots of info while offline (perhaps on the plane or in a restaurant without WiFi), and then when I am connected to my network, it synchs up reliably and quickly, without drama.

3. It has quick and effective search tools

4. It works well for taking notes during a meeting.

You can easily flag things that need attention elsewhere later without losing your engagement from the meeting. I  find it very annoying when others are taking notes and are so distracted by their program (Word, Excel, whatever) that they become disengaged from the conversation. Though you can still be distracted while using OneNote, I find it is the easiest program so far for taking notes and doing research during a meeting with the least amount of distraction penalty.

5. It has ways to easily organize large amounts of data (notebooks, section groups, sections, pages, sub-pages)

6. It runs on all my platforms (PC at work, PC at home, iPhone)

I especially enjoy being able to get o OneNote on my iPhone.

And here are some of my favorite features

Below is a list of my favorite OneNote 2013 features. There are many more, features but I didn’t waste the space on obvious features. I listed things you might not notice when you first start using it. The list is concise, so if you don’t see the value, play with the feature a bit or lookup the feature in Online Help for more details.

Quick Access Toolbar

Back, Dock to Desktop


Export page/section/notebook to Word, PDF, …

Send page to E-Mail, Word, Blog

Go to

and you will see a version of this page that I posted from OneNote.


Tags – WAY more than just visual indicators.

Tag something

Try “Find Tags”

Search results span entire notebook

Example use:

I take notes in OneNote for every meeting.

I mark any to-do items with the To Do tag.

Later, when I have quiet time,

I Find Tags

Click each To Do tag, which navigates to the item

Then I copy the item to my main worklist, where I can prioritize it.

If I were to switch over to my main task list during a meeting, it distracts me from reading the agenda and taking notes. I know, I started out that way.

Shortcut to “Email Page”



Or just type something and press the “tab” key and it will make a table.

Screen Clipping

Or use the Send-To-OneNote tool (shortcut: Windows Key – S)

Send to a page, then annotate it as desired.



’nuff said


Recent Edits

Did you note something recently but can’t even remember a search term or the search term is too prevalent to be useful?


Recycle Bin



Dock to Desktop

Cool for taking notes about some other application you have open.

Restore with one click

How can I keep a LOT of data well-organized?

Otherwise, it becomes a jumbled mess  

  1. Learn the basic data containers and rearrange stuff as you learn more. The basic data containers are
    1. Notebook
    2. Section Group
    3. Section
    4. Page
    5. Subpage
  2. You can easily move pages and sections around. Right-click on a page and check out the options.

Example of how well this tool scales:

If you had 10 notebooks, each with 10 section groups, each with 10 section groups, each with 20 pages, each with 10 subpages, you would have 200,000 pages of information.

In my role, I have personal agendas for 2 subteams, a dozen groups, 30 people, and a couple dozen projects.

How to hire good talent

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Allen @ 12:02 pm

I love this article on How to hire good talent. I’ve worked has a hiring manager for several years. In those roles, I have observed that the best people for the job are not necessarily those who have the exact skills. In our technical field, where technology changes so swiftly, and where technology is so diverse, it is difficult to find someone who is an expert in the particular toy you happen to own. If that is your main critierion, then you may be disappointed with whom you hire. I love simply being transparent with them, posing the problems we face, and asking them how they will tackle them. It gives me an idea whether they have a clue, and it gives them a clue about what they will face.

October 31, 2012

Learning Windows 8 takes 15 minutes or less

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Allen @ 8:42 pm

Just read this official Microsoft document.

It’s 12 easy pages.

September 5, 2012

Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 12-Dictation software

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Allen @ 7:50 am

I just upgraded to version 12 of Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the popular dictation software. I am actually “writing” this post by dictating it on my Bluetooth microphone. I continue to be amazed at how accurate the software is. This really is a remarkable product. If you ever wanted to get dictation software, but you are not sure whether it was good enough, I’m here to tell you that it is definitely good enough. In fact this product has been good enough for several versions. I have been using it for years and it gets better and better.

What is even more remarkable is the fact that I can walk on my treadmill desk with the noise of my footsteps, and the fan from my air conditioner blowing in the background, and it doesn’t seem to interfere with the translation of all. I can remember the earlier versions were more sensitive to background noise. And still you should use it in a quiet environment.

If you have any questions about it feel free to ask. I think using this product is a great preventive measure for carpal tunnel syndrome.

March 3, 2012

Successful Large Scrum Project

Filed under: ALM (Application Lifecycle Management), Case Study, Practices, Uncategorized — Tags: — David Allen @ 10:30 pm

From 2009 – 2010, the US Veterans Administration built a system called the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS).  It reportedly used agile methods including Scrum and appears to have been a success. Here are some links for further information.

Early report mentions agile. Budget is in the ballpark of $100 Million.

A VA press release from January 31, 2011 indicates the system was launched successfully thanks to agile methods

The Linked-In profile of a person working on the project indicates that there were 12 Scrum teams involved. I am not citing that out of respect for his privacy as I do not know him. Though you should be able to find it by searching linked in for terms ‘VBMS’ ‘agile’

July 28, 2011

MOQ SetupSequence is great for mocking

Filed under: Practices, Testing, Uncategorized — David Allen @ 8:25 am

If you use mocking frameworks, you may run into scenarios in which you want an operation to behave one way on the first call, and a different way on the second or third call. In the MOQ framework, which I use, I just discovered the SetupSequence method. (more…)

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