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National Rail Strike – June 2015 – Latest News

Updated – Monday 1 June 2015

National Rail Strike Suspended!

The forthcoming industrial action for this week and the next has been suspended.

More information can be found here.

Again we would like to thank our customers, suppliers and our colleagues for going the extra mile and helping with contingency measures.  All this preparation has meant that were the strikes to go ahead we would have been ready to run all planned 21 training events during the strike days.

Updated – 29 May 2015

Industrial action due to affect National Rail services- 2 strikes on 4-5 June & 9 – 11 June 2015

The RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport) union have decided to strike over 24 hours from 5 pm June 4th to 5 pm June 5th and 48 hours from 5 pm June 9th to 5 pm June 11th.

As stated on our previous notice page, we are taking additional measures to ensure all our courses run on the days affected. As before we hope the strikes will be averted but will prepare regardless.

Our commitment – courses never cancelled

In the last 10 years we’ve only had 27 out of 12,364 courses disrupted!  As you can see it is a rare event and we are confident that our training delivery will not be disrupted with these latest rail strikes. We are going to great lengths and costs to ensure all our logistics run as well as possible.

As we have done in the past, should our contingency measures fail, we will reschedule the course with delegates agreement and offer a free course.

Your options:

  • Come along as planned safe in the knowledge we will be prepared
  • If you face travel disruption, you can reschedule your course, please see options and fees here.

We understand that should the strikes go ahead provision will be made by Network Rail for rail ticket refunds, please see links below.

Useful resources:

Our status page

Latest national rail strike information from Network Rail

Network Rail status page

follow #IndustrialAction

BBC – Network Rail workers to go on strike in June

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National Rail Strike – Latest News

UPDATE – 21 May 16:40

Planned industrial action has been suspended

Good news, the planned strike has been called off!

Many thanks to all our customers and staff for the support in ensuring we were prepared to deliver all our planned events!

Good news training team, you don’t have to spend Monday night in a hotel. 😉 enjoy your long weekend.



Industrial action due to affect National Rail services on Monday 25 & Tuesday 26 May 2015

The RMT have announced that Network Rail workers are to stage a 24-hour national rail strike from 5pm on bank holiday Monday in a dispute over pay.

As with any potential disruption to our training schedule, we are taking additional measures to ensure all our courses run on the day affected (Tuesday 26th May). Whilst there is a possibility that the strike may be averted we will assume it is going to happen.

Our commitment – courses never cancelled

Again we are committed to running all our planned courses. In the last 10 years we’ve only had 27 out of 12,364 courses disrupted!  As you can see it is a rare event and we are confident that our training delivery will not be disrupted with this latest rail strike.

As we have done in the past, should the worst happen, we will reschedule the course with delegates agreement and offer a free course.

Your options:

  • Come along as planned safe in the knowledge we will be prepared
  • If you face travel disruption, you can reschedule your course, please see options here.

It is our understanding that should the strike go ahead provision will be made by Network Rail for rail ticket refunds, please see links below.

Useful resources:

Our status page

Latest national rail strike information from Network Rail

Network Rail status page

follow #IndustrialAction

BBC – Network Rail workers vote to strike…

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Best in Class Training – Be delighted not just satisfied

Our new homepage goes live.

(April 10 2015) We have brought some firsts and plenty of innovation to our industry over the years. This has led to frequent “flattery” from imitators in our market and we feel it is time to provide even more proof to our claims.

To this end you will find our new homepage features proven performance. You can not only drill-down into our own record on performance – you can see what our customers say. Check out independent reviews and browse over 40,000 customer feedback testimonials.

We will continue to set the bar for quality, value and transparency in our market and wish our imitators the very best of luck. We thank our customers for helping us make a difference as a training partner and look forward to forging new long term mutually beneficial relationships.

Kind regards

All at Best STL


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Four benefits of Moving to Office 365

By J. Peter Bruzzese

The recent global recession is still quite fresh in everyone’s minds. From an IT perspective it forced IT administrators to tighten their belts and hold off on upgrades of both hardware and software for quite some time.
The growth of “cloud” solutions (like Office 365) has provided IT teams with another option when considering new hardware and software. Here we’ll take a closer look at the features available, benefits and a key consideration when moving to Office 365.

What is Office 365, and why move to it?

The name is somewhat confusing because it appears to be the next flavor of the Office product suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc…).  In fact, Office 365 is many things, it is a cloud-based, hosted services solution for Office applications, email, collaboration, and more.
Exchange, SharePoint and Lync have moved from a traditional on-premise hosting to Microsoft datacenters (i.e.. their “cloud”). Instead of paying for the software upfront, you pay as a monthly/annual subscription for those services (hence the term Software as a Service or SaaS).

Office 365 has a variety of different packages to choose from and some of them offer the Office Suite as part of the subscription too.  If you choose one of these plans you can put the latest flavor of Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) on desktops/mobile devices.  And there are a variety of other services offered with Office 365 like OneDrive for Business, Yammer, Office 365 Video and more.

There are some key reasons why a move to Office 365 can benefit your organization from the perspective of an IT team getting ready to decide on-premises vs. cloud.  Let’s consider four benefits for moving to Office 365 and one key user consideration for IT administrators.

Four benefits of moving to Office 365:

No-Cost Server Infrastructure:  If you are looking to modernize your server-side solutions the cost of upgrading your existing infrastructure could be exorbitant.  Moving mailboxes to the cloud eliminates that concern and cost.  Microsoft will worry about the hardware and storage, and you can pay as you grow for easy scalability.

No More Upgrades or Fixes:  Much of the stress of an admin is handling fixes and upgrades for solutions to ensure they are patched properly and as secure as possible.  With Office 365 this is all handled for you.

Availability:  Microsoft provides a 99.9% SLA for availability.  Whereas on-premise you would have to have redundant servers on-site and additional servers in an off-site location to provide that level of availability, Microsoft has it all in place from day one to ensure your users have consistent access to their email and other services.

Services Offered:  As mentioned earlier, Office 365 is a mix of different services.  It’s quite amazing really when you consider all the different tools provided.  You can access the services through traditional means (Outlook connected to Exchange Online) or through browser-based connectivity (Yammer or SharePoint Online through your browser).

Upon logging into your portal you are offered a variety of tools to choose from, and the list is growing!  Note the options in the figure below.  OneDrive, Sites, Delve, Video, Office Online (Word/Excel/Point/OneNote) … offering a compelling price/features proposition.


Office 365 App Launcher – benefits of moving to office 365

So we’ve covered four benefits of moving to Office 365, what could the key consideration be? Here it is…


Take a user who has been on Windows XP with Office 2003 for the past 10 years.  Give them a new laptop running Windows 7/8 (v10 coming soon) and Office 2013.  Introduce the user to the new tools for communication and collaboration like Yammer, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business and so forth.  Instead of praising your team the users vent frustration at the dip in performance as they struggle to process all the new upgrades.

Don’t do that to your people.  Going from the menu structure of legacy Office into the new ribbon interface alone will be an overwhelming task for some.  If you have gone with Windows 8, the new interface is quite a step change (even for experienced users).

Support your people.  You want to give them the latest and greatest and you want them to experience the productivity boost that should come with new hardware and software possibilities.

But you must do so through training first.

Manage the change for users through classroom training, with all the benefits of hands on exercises under the guidance and support of an experienced trainer.  Or even run workshop sessions BEFORE you put that new laptop or desktop in front of them with all the new bells and whistles.

And then you might want to provide 24/7/365 support training through a video portal, which perfectly complements any classroom based training. An eLearning portal with an easy to use interface and short searchable learning clips helps users improve and maintain performance.

We are certainly living in exciting times.  Cloud solutions like Office 365 are offering small-midsize business an opportunity to have enterprise grade solutions right at their fingertips, without all the server side heavy lifting being placed on the IT admin.  The end-users will love the new possibilities opened to them and the increase in productivity through new communication and collaboration tools.  Exciting times indeed!

J._Peter_Bruzzese J. Peter Bruzzese (Office 365 MVP) is the CIO of ClipTraining.com, providers of short, task-based video training through an online portal solution.  He is an internationally published author with over a dozen titles to his credit about Windows/Office/Exchange/etc.  He is a technical speaker for Microsoft and others.  He writes a weekly column for InfoWorld entitled “Enterprise Windows” and is a strategic technical consultant with Mimecast.  You can follow JPB on Twitter @JPBruzzese and email him at jpb@cliptraining.com

For information on eLearning services in the UK, ClipTraining partner and UK distributor, Best STL, can be emailed at info@microsofttraining.net

Further reading

Office 365 Training in the ClipTraining Library
Classroom based MS Office training

36.5 Office 365 Features That Will Boost Your Productivity
What’s In & What’s Out In Office 2013
A well-trained I.T. team: Your company’s secret weapon


London Tube Strike – July 8 to 9 2015 – Latest News

Updated – Wednesday 1 July

London Tube Strike Dates Confirmed by RMT Union

As reported in City AM, the RMT union have confirmed the strike dates from Wednesday 8 July at 6.30 pm to Thursday 9 July at 6.30 pm.

Attending training with us on these dates?

We are making plans to ensure all scheduled training events go ahead. We hope the strikes will be averted but if not we will be ready.

Our commitment – courses never cancelled

Find out more on how we don’t let you down.  We go to considerable lengths to make sure our courses run. Only 27 out of 12,364 courses have ever been disrupted!

In the rare event that our contingency measures fail, the training event will be run on a mutually suitable date and an additional free course provided.

Your options:

  • Attend your training knowing we will be prepared
  • If you do face disruption to travel plans, course rescheduling options and fees can be found here

Useful resources:

Our status page

BBC – Tube Strike

How to Build an Automatic Gantt Chart in Excel

An easy to update Gantt chart in Excel

Building a Gantt chart in Excel is pretty easy. But what if you needed to update any of the tasks? This would usually mean lot’s of time consuming manual editing of cells.  But there is an easier way….

Step in Excel and the ever flexible conditional formatting function! Yes by deploying some neat conditional formatting tricks you can produce a presentable usable Gantt chart in Excel.

Recap: A Gantt chart is made up of task bars, one for each of the tasks required to complete the project in hand. The task bars typically have start and finish dates and therefore have different lengths on duration.

By using Excel’s Conditional Formatting feature we can create our project task bars for our Gantt chart. We will be able to different colour task bars conveniently managed by conditional formatting. An example is shown below on how cell colours can be changed; sales figures green if they exceed a target figure of 1200.


Let’s create a Gantt chart in Excel

By using conditional formatting we can easily create the following.

Gantt Chart in Excel

Creating the conditional formatting rule

Step 1. Start by selecting the range of cells where bars are to be displayed. In the above example range F2:T11.

Step 2. Select the Home tab then choose Conditional Formatting.

Step 3. Pick New Rule then Choose a formula to determine which cells to format.
In the empty box box (format values if formula is true) enter the formula:


This formula returns True if a task Start Date is before or equal to the chart date (entered in row 1) AND the Finish Date is after or equal to the chart date.

AND means both conditions within the brackets must apply. The $ sign before a letter means keep that column fixed when applying the rule to the range of cells. Similarly, the $ before a number means fix that row when applying the rule.

Step 4. Now click the Format button and choose a fill colour then OK.

In the example all cells that obey the rule are coloured blue.

Adding more rules

Additional rules can be added for example if certain tasks are designated critical by typing CT in the C column then colour the bars pink.

Project Chart

To do this create a new rule as before but include a third condition where the type is CT.


Click Format and choose pink as the fill colour.


For consistency you can choose specific fill colour by selecting Fill, More Colours, Custom then entering 255,153,255 for Red, Green and Blue.

Adding a white top and bottom border as part of the Formatting rule can help to separate the bars when touching.

To make changes to colours or to formulas you must highlight the exact range containing the conditional formatting then select Conditional Formatting, Manage Rules. To help do this quickly select Home, Find & Select, Conditional  Formatting.

Conditional formats can be copied using the Format Painter.

Additional Resources

Present your data in a Gantt chart in Excel

Pro tip: Create a Gantt chart in Excel