Drug testing

Put Order and Information into File Names

Unless you place your faith in internal search engine software or document databases to track your work, consider a relatively low-tech enhancement to your work methods. I promise it will pay big dividends.

Consider how you name your files and folders. Have you missed an opportunity to clear the clutter and make your work more accessible? When you look at file names within a folder, do they sing out to you with sweet meaningfulness, or are they a cacophonous jumble of confusing heiroglyphics?

The eye likes symmetry. The mind loves order. When you create files and they pile upon one another over time, does their accumulation reflect a master plan or a disaster unplanned? When you view your list of files, is your eye happy, your mind content?

Basically, filenaming is an unrecognized art. Most of us are left to our own devices to figure it out. The good news: with some thought, you can be the artist of a system which will resonate with function.

Let's start by considering the basis upon which files should be ordered. I will jump to the punchline and say it out loud: chronologically. To order files chronologically, have the filename start with a datestamp prefix such as YYYYMMDD- or YYMMDD. If you do this, your files will always sort themselves chronologically and you will have no trouble finding the latest and greatest work within a folder.

What you do following the datestamp prefix depends upon how the file will be used. If the file travels to someone else as an email attachment and then returns back to you after some sort of review, I recommend having the second portion of your filename be a locator.

The locator can be a 3-5 character abbreviation which will give you a solid hint about where the file needs to be refiled upon its return. You develop the locator so that you and others in your group recognize it as an abbreviation for a project. When they see the datestamp prefix and locator, they will already have much information about the contents of the file.

After entering the datestamp prefix and locator, now you can write a nice, meaty descriptive text (descriptor). Use as many characters as you like, just beware that beyond a certain length, the filename will be truncated during display, and you will lose, rather than gain information. Consider 30 characters to be a maximum filename size.

Subtracting 7 characters for the date stamp and 3-5 characters for the locator, this gives you 18-20 characters to tell your story. The way to know if you are doing a bad job with descriptors, is when you see the identical descriptor in multiple files. Don't repeat descriptive text unless you specifically want to highlight the similarity between the two files.

Tip: NO spaces in names of files or folders. Spaces are not FTP-friendly and you may be FTP-ing sooner than you think.

Tip: NO unnecessary capital letters and DEFINITELY NO TEXT WITH ALL CAPS. It's not only irritating, but it also takes away a useful tool, that of using upper and lower case text for better conveying your message.

Tip: Find a style and stick with it. For example, if you like the looks of hyphens separating datestamp, locators and descriptors, then do it that way every time. If using underscore between words in the descriptor feels right, then make it a habit. Even artists can have discipline, you know.

Tip: Use language to the greatest extent possible. In other words, use words more than acronyms. Cutsey corporate acronyms, after the first dozen or so, get pretty boring.

Examples of good file names:
050727-par-FieldTesting.doc
2004-o4-21-oak-Access_to_site.xls
Bad file names:
article.doc (too vague - what article? )
Work Project.xls (too general - what work project? when? )

Copyright 2005 Mark Meshulam

A versatile denizen of Northbrook, IL, USA, Mr. Meshulam is an owner of a productivity software company (http://www.poingo.com), a construction company (http://www.buildersarch.com), and a document scanning/reprographics company (http://www.repro.docsys.us). His software product Poingo Email Printer has a feature which adds timestamps to filenames.

In The News:

The current heatwave in the British Isles has revealed a host of long-hidden historical sites that have suddenly become visible through the parched earth.
Archaeologists in Ireland have uncovered a megalithic tomb containing two burial chambers, complete with elaborate carvings.
A team of scientists made an enormous discovery when they recently uncovered a "quadrillion" tons of diamonds,buried more than 100 miles below Earth's surface, according to a new study.
Doctor Richard Harris was thought to be the one who decided which boy was saved first, but new details have emerged.
Astronomers in Australia are eager for a special celestial alignment this week that could tell them more about one of the most intriguing candidates for hosting life beyond Earth.
Attention, anglers in Pennsylvania: A northern snakehead, also known as “frankenfish,” was found recently in Octoraro Creek in Little Britain Township.
As hurricanes continue to cause greater impact from factors such as climate change, NASA's new hurricane-tracking satellites could be up and running by as early 2019.
Scientists have discovered 12 previously unknown moons orbiting Jupiter, and one of them is a real oddball.
Once again, scientists have shown that Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity is right — this time, thanks to a particle detector buried deep beneath Antarctica.
Scientists searching for sea snakes never expected to stumble across this find.

More Cool Web Tricks

If you ask most people what frustrates them most about... Read More

Virtual Memory - What is It?

I recently got an e-mail asking about virtual memory. The... Read More

Desktop Security Software Risks - Part 2

This is the third in a series of articles highlighting... Read More

Be Your Own IT Department

If you use a computer, you need to know more... Read More

5 Steps to Remove Spyware for Free

Have you ever tried to remove Spyware off your PC... Read More

How To Remove One Operating System from a Dual Boot Windows XP Computer

In Windows Xp, you can install two operating systems on... Read More

How Do MP3 Players Work? Digital Audio Technology Revolutionizes Music Enjoyment

Millions have enjoyed recorded music since 1877 when Thomas Edison... Read More

Getting Started with HTML

The basic language of the internet is html. If you... Read More

Computer Geeks and Garden Gnomes

First and foremost before I begin my ranting it is... Read More

Be Prepared in the Event Computer Disaster Strikes

ComputersBusinesses and individuals alike have all grown to rely on... Read More

Font Organizers Review, Part I

Do you know how many fonts are currently installed on... Read More

DVD The Ultimate Consumer Digital Media

Digital Video Disc or as it is sometimes referred to... Read More

Is Desktop Search Deserving?

Google, in their march to stay ahead of the pack... Read More

Wordpress Plugins

Maybe you always wanted a feature that hasn't been available... Read More

Keeping the Windows Registry Operational

The registry is where the computer stores information about the... Read More

Windows Task Manager in English

You use Ctrl+Alt+Del to see what's running on your PC,... Read More

Are You Well Protected?

Winter?the official start of the cold and flu season. Though,... Read More

Setting File Permissions On A Unix Server

File permissions are one of the strengths that the Unix... Read More

Upgrading Your PC for Non-experts

IntroOne of the big advantages of PCs over earlier types... Read More

Do Higher Digital Camera Prices Mean Better Cameras?

Understanding digital camera prices makes finding the best camera value... Read More

Cisco Certification: What To Expect On Exam Day

Cisco Certification: Taking Your First Certification ExamYou've studied hard; you've... Read More

How To Have Two (Multiple) Copies Of Windows

Having two operating systems is not as difficult as many... Read More

New Computer? Steps to Protect Your Computer Before Connecting to the Internet

Getting a new computer should be an exciting and gratifying... Read More

Your Computer Cant Keep Time

A computer needs a certain amount of information to operate;... Read More

Enhanced Web Browsing With Toolbars

As the Web grows more crowded and just plain "noisy"... Read More

induction lighting versus led led flood light fixtures Pete's produce ..