Thursday, August 16, 2018

Digital farewell from beyond the grave

After my father passed away, any recordings of his voice became precious to me when I could no longer remember what he sounded like. I realized with all the technology available today, there was no reason my kids would have to share that experience. I wanted to find a way to leave some last words of comfort for them while at the same time make sure they had access to all my photos, videos, documents and passwords.

It all starts with with Google’s Inactive service ( Once your account has been inactive for a specified amount of time (for example, due to injury or death), Google will reach out to you via email and phone numbers you associate with your account. 

After no success, Google will then contact up to 10 people and give them access to the services (Photos, Gmail, etc.) you choose. You can also choose to have your account automatically deleted after the notifications have been sent.

In addition to the message provided by Google, you can leave a customized message for each recipient. Knowing they will be 3 months into their grieving process, you can include words of comfort, advice and love. 

This message can also include special links to photos or videos and this is where the magic begins.

With online storage so readily available, it’s easy to find a place to store personal video messages. For me, I use Youtube. Anytime a major event happens in my life or I feel the need to leave some words for one of my kids, I take a few moments to record my thoughts and upload a video. Once uploaded, the videos are automatically added to a specific playlist based on the title

To ensure you have content for your playlist, put a yearly reminder in your calendar. In addition to a digital farewell, have a plan to pass on your passwords

Instagram - Memorialization

Friday, December 8, 2017

Google Drive Stream - all the files without the space

With unlimited file storage, fast search, straight forward collaboration and easy sharing, Google Drive is a great tool. However, there are some file types Google can’t read and so you need to continue using local applications (e.g., Microsoft, Photoshop, video editing, etc) to edit those files (which means downloading the file to your computer).

Google Drive recently announced Google Drive File Stream. If you’ve used Google’s Desktop Sync tool, then you’re already familiar with the concept: files stored in Google Drive are also available on your desktop (if you’re fine working through Google Drive on your browser then you don’t need to install Drive File Stream). With the new tool, instead of maintaining a copy on your desktop, Google will “stream” it to your computer when it’s needed. This means you can have access to all your files without actually storing them on your computer. However, as it is streaming from Google, you will need an internet connection to access the files, but you can also indicate which folders/files you want to maintain offline copies of for those times you don’t have internet access.

Installation is pretty easy — just download and run the installer ( and Google will mount a new drive on your computer called Google Drive. This container acts like an external drive with all your Google data. Best part, you can access your regular Google Drive files as well as Team Drives — all in one location. And you will always have access to your files using your browser.

If there are files that you’d like to have stored on your computer, just right-click and mark it available offline.

Google Drive File Stream is only available for education and business Google accounts. Personal Gmail accounts can use Google’s new Backup and Sync solution (, although education/business accounts can also use it. Both products are intended to replace the old Desktop Sync application, which will stop functioning in March 2018.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Google/Outlook Calendar Dating Game

When my university first moved to Outlook, one of the first things people asked was how they could see events from their personal Google calendar in their MacEwan Outlook calendar. So, we’re going to take a look at a few things:

  1. Show your work availability from Outlook to anyone (great for users outside of your domain)
  2. Share your Outlook events with details (to share with individuals or your personal Google calendar)
  3. View your personal Google calendar in Outlook.

You must use the web client to set this up. Sharing or publishing your calendar allows you to view the information — you can only make changes in the original calendar.

1. Share your availability with everyone
MacEwan Outlook users can use the Scheduling Assistant ( to see each other’s availability when booking a time. However, external users can’t do the same unless you publish your calendar. This will not only provide a html page with showing your busy/free times (no details), but a link to have the same information appear in your Google calendar.

To start:
  1. Login to
  2. In the top right, click on the Settings icon (i.e. gear) and go to Calendar - Shared calendars - Calendar publishing (
  3. Select the calendar called Calendar (your personal calendar) and select Availability only for permissions. This will not display any details of your schedule.
  4. Save

You’ll now have 2 links:
  • HTML (generates a web page)
  • ICS (used by other calendar apps to subscribe to your schedule)

With the HTML link, users can view your schedule by Day, Week, or Month for any date.

To make this easy to access, add the link to the signature line in your email (you can use a link shortener like Here’s my signature:

Trevor Beck
Web Services, MacEwan University
See my availability:

2. Sharing the details of your schedule

Sometimes you have people you want to be able share the details of your calendar (e.g. your personal Google account, a colleague, your spouse). As you don’t want to change the sharing on your published page for everyone to see (as above), we will share the calendar with just the individual.

From the Calendar view, select Calendar (i.e. your MacEwan calendar) from the Share menu.

Here you can choose different individuals to to share your calendar with different levels of details. To share with my personal Google account:

  1. Enter personal email.
  2. Choose Can view titles and locations from the permissions.
  3. Click Share.

An email will be sent to that email with a link that will allow the user to subscribe to your schedule. If they pass that link on to someone else, the other users will also see your schedule.

When you receive the email in your Gmail do not click on the Add this calendar button (this will prompt you to login to Outlook). Instead, click on the attached file (don’t download or add to your drive) for a preview of it’s contents. At the bottom you’ll find a link that starts with https and ends with .ics.

Copy the link and go to your Google Calendar. From the Other calendars list on the right, select Add by URL and paste in the link.

Your work calendar, with details, will now appear in Google Calendar under other calendars. You can use the settings to change the name and other preferences.

3. Add your personal Google Calendar to Outlook

Rather than repeat what’s already available, check out this handy tutorial from Microsoft:

Trevor Beck is a tech enthusiast whose training expands everything Mac, Google and is slowly making his way back to Microsoft.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tutorial: Proper Filtering and Sorting using Filter Views

Data often gets corrupted when people improperly sort information so they can group items together. Discover how Filters and Filtered Views can temporarily hide and sort your data without destroying its integrity .

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Power Searching Google Drive

Google's superpower is search and to really narrow down on what you're looking for, it's important to be familiar with the advance search function.

Google indexes any file stored in Google Drive. Not only can you search for words in the title, but within the document itself. Using the advance search, you can pinpoint your results to a specific file type, owner or date.

By combining the URL Google Drive uses to display your search results with Google Chrome's search engine function, you can start a search from any page. In other words, you don't have to go to Google Drive first to enter your query.

Discover how easy it is to create custom search engines to search Google Drive.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tutorial - Create reports using the Query Function

Having Google Forms enter your information directly into a spreadsheet is a great time saver. And once it's there, you can easily filter and sort your data. However, too many times people will mess up their data when they only sort some of their columns - making the data invalid and useless.

Instead of manually sorting, you can use the QUERY function to do all the work for you, while automatically updating your data as new information comes in. Check out the video below on the details:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Import Data from One Spreadsheet to Another

With every new intake of trainers, the question always comes up about how to move data from one spreadsheet to another. For example, I have a sheet with information on grade 7, 8, 9 students in a master list, but I only want the Grade 7 student list to be available to the Grade 7 teachers.

ImportRange is one of the amazing functions available to us in Google Sheets. Think of it as a live import - always updating itself as the master sheet gets updated. You can't make any changes to the data (i.e., read-only), but you can still apply filters to the data.

Here's a video on how to use the ImportRange function to setup this process: