2017 Thought Asylum Annual Review
Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 11:20PM
Stephen Millard in General

2017 has passed into history and so I’m taking my annual look back at what’s been getting the page hits on thoughtasylum.com and a personal look at the past year.

Once again, other commitments have limited my achievements with the web site. I’d hoped to work on updating the look and feel and to get quite a few more blog posts out but alas that was not going to be. A switch to HTTPS and a more mobile friendly styling remain on my to do list for 2018, but it’s a big chunk of work to migrate the site to what will effectively be a new platform version to support these things.

This year saw a big hit on my productivity as I suffered a sports related injury that was limiting for a little while then post operation, severly limiting for the recovery period. however, on the bright side I did get to spend a few days in Heidelberg for some training which was an enjyable experience except for the heat wave they were experiencing and the lack of air conditioning … anywhere in the region.

The organisation I was working for (ROC) also got acquired in the last quarter, so I now find myself working in a similar way, doing similar things but with the expectation of more demands on my time from a wider group and the opportunity to look at lots of new and interesting opportunities and practices. Possibly not what most people enjoy doing, but I’m always looking for better ways to do stuff so it’s actually something I’m really looking forward to for this coming year.

Enough about me. It’s high time I sprint through the 2017 top 10.

10. Workflow (iOS): Server Commands (~1,000 hits)

Published 15 February 2015. We start off with a new entry in the top ten … in fact the only new entry in the annual list. This post about the Workflow app for iOS (always one of my very favourite iOS apps) provides a fairly simple workflow that allows you to run scripts remotely on *nix compatible systems over SSH. I continue to use this sort of script to control my Mac Mini server and I might well have a post or two relating to that publishing in 2018.

9. Notepad++ Workflow: Find Lines Not Containing (~1,300 hits)

Published 30 April 2013. Holding fast at number nine is my post on excluding lines in the Notepad++ text editor on Windows. The post is a quick look at what is effectively an algorithm or set of instructions on how to mark and remove lines in a text file. A simple posting but one that can make dealing with text files significantly easier.

8. A Flexible Progress Window in VBScript (~1,300 hits)

Published 19 July 2009. Number eight remains unchanged. My post about a VBScript for a progress window based on Internet Explorer to show script activity is still proving to be a top ten post. I have quite a few scripts that make use of this and whilst I don’t use them daily I do get a great deal of benefit in using them when I have the need. Whilst VBScipt is not most people’s preferred scripting solution it is one I continue to quickly solve challenges with on Windows to this day. In fact I recently instigated the details in this post to provide feedback on a file processing script that takes about an hour to run - it does hundreds of thousands of operations on large files! I’m glad to see that it’s still attracting some attention and I hope others are finding it as useful as I do.

7. View Your Android Device on Your PC Using Droidscreen (~2,200 hits)

Published 30 January 2014. The biggest dropper (four places) this past year is my post on using Droidscreen to view your Android device on your PC. Once again I’m really quite surprised to see this post in the annual top ten. Android and screen sharing approaches have developed so much in the last few years and I don’t use this myself any more; seriously, check out Reflector by Air Squirrels instead.

6. VBScript to Convert Microsoft Office Files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) to PDF (~2,400 hits)

Published 20 December 2012. Holding fast at number six is my post on converting Microsoft Office files to PDFs via a VBScript. I actually continue to use this almost every working day and I love that I can carry out mass conversions with almost zero effort on my part. Quite simply it is one of my favourite and most often used scripts. If you ever create PDFs from Microsoft Office files on Windows this post I think constitutes a must read.

5. Workflow (iOS): Some Example Workflows for Dates (~2,800 hits)

Published 14 January 2015. Up one place from last year this post continues to be rather surprising as I’d predicted this post would drop off the list this year. Well before Workflow was acquired by Apple (in 2017), the dates functionality was updated and this post described various workarounds for limitations that were in place at that time. It was out of date in 2016 and I guess is at least as out of date this past year. I hope people aren’t disappointed in what they find; there is some value in the posts still, but it is probably around learning how to use Workflow and maybe in particular some of the regular expression techniques I used to manipulate text based versions of dates.

4. Using SED on Windows (~4,200 hits)

Published 30 September 2011. Coming back up one spot is my post on using SED on Windows. This post actually dates back to something I wrote to help me process huge log files when I first started at ROC. I’d had a few challenges trying to get even a simple SED command to run, so when I got it working I popped a few bits down in a blog post just in case it could speed things up for anyone else. Hopefully that’s been the case and certainly it’s been seen by quite a few people now having been viewed almost 30,000 times in total since it was published.

3. 24-Hour Clock Calculations in Excel (~5,235 hits)

Published 28 December 2012. Dropping down one place this past year is my post one some ways to do 24 hour based timecalculations in Excel. Not my most advanced Excel post, but sometimes people just need a pointer on how to do something; I know I do from time to time.

2. Adding Multiple Sets of Looping Slides to PowerPoint (~6,100 hits)

Published 30 May 2014. Creeping up another couple of places this year, with alomst a 50% increase in page views is the post on running looping sets of slides in PowerPoint. This post I created out of a need to be able to loop multiple slide decks within a master slide deck. This is something that apparently more and more people are looking for instructions on how to do online. Fortunately for the number two position, I wrote it up and it’s available to all.

1. Auto Incrementing in Excel (~25,900 hits)

Published 29 June 2013. For the third year in a row this post from four and a half years ago takes the number one spot. It seems that Excel is a popular topic and my approach to a robust way of incrementing numbers is helping scratch an itch for a lot of Excel users out there.

Compared to last year, there’s not much change. Some of the entries have swapped around a bit, number 10 changed to something new and overall the figures were in the same ball park, but slightly down on 2016’s figures. Given my lack of time on the site and pushing posts that’s not unsurprising and is actually quite promising as things have stayed on a pretty even keel.

I think 2018 is probably going to be similarly demanding with my time on other things but fingers crossed I’ll be delivering some useful new content to folks out there and maybe one of the 2018 posts will even make it onto the top 10. Who knows?

Hopefully you found this review useful and maybe even read or re-read some of the top posts. Do keep checking back for new content throughout the coming year and hopefully you’ll find something great to share with your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours or even strangers; it’s that good!

Article originally appeared on Thought Asylum (http://www.thoughtasylum.com/).
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