Friday, August 29, 2014

OneDrive mobile app update coming


With the growth in cloud storage the way that people access that information also changes. Much access, especially for cloud services, is now undertaken away from a traditional desktop and in many cases on mobile devices. With that in mind Microsoft is again updating its mobile OneDrive apps.
You can read the specifics about what is happening in this blog post:
https://blog.onedrive.com/onedrive-gets-smarter-on-your-phone/
One of the enhancements on the Android platform is the ability to access your OneDrive consumer and OneDrive for Office 365 directly from the same app on Android devices. when combined with Office on Android this will make it extremely easy to work with files no matter where you are. Microsoft is crafting the app to ensure that information is easily separated between personal and business. They are also improving access by utilising pin code access.
The rapidly improving features of mobile apps are really beginning to shine light on the power of the cloud as they give people access to their information where ever they are, optimized for the screen they are using. If you are not yet using the OneDrive app for your mobile device download and give it a go. I’m pretty sure you won’t look back. If you already have the app key an eye out for the latest round of updates as they look like some major improvements.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New SharePoint Online Sites page



If you fire up your Office 365 portal and select Sites from the menu bar across the top you now see your Sites home page is now different (see above screen shot).
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Gone is the old format (above), with the new format doing away with the left hand column (which was basically a picture of the user who was logged in. And really how useful was that?).

It now also displays the logo from the individual sites you are following which helps identify these much quicker to users.
Remember the Sites page is the entry point for many users into all your different Site Collections in SharePoint Online so you should spend the time to make sure it is appealing as possible. This means you should not only add icons for all your sites so they easily identifiable but you should also go in and customise your promoted sites as the top with icons like I have done in the first screen shot above.
A much cleaner and simpler interface is always a good thing in my books, so I think update is a good move from Microsoft. What will be next?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Getting Started with SharePoint Online Tutorial Template

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I am happy to announce the release of a new product from the CIAOPS. This one is called Getting Started With SharePoint Online Tutorial Template. It can be purchased from:

http://www.ciaops.com/publications

This is a SharePoint template that can be downloaded and installed on any Office 365 plan that includes SharePoint Online. This product will help your business learn about the different features of SharePoint Online by actually using it. There are over 20 lessons that users can work through to increase their knowledge.

The product includes:
-  3.5 hours of video lessons
- Links to over 30 additional content web sites
- Over 250 pages of downloadable documentation (excluding free version)
- Easy to install, customise, extend and update
- Premium edition permits editing/re-branding of content
- Annual Maintenance provides free updates of all content for 1 year

This product is aimed at users who have never used SharePoint Online and want to learn more. Download the User Guide for more details or watch the video.

You can download the free version to see what the product looks like. The free version excludes any downloadable content.

The Standard version includes videos streamed from YouTube which may contain advertising. This however, keeps the download size small and reduces the impact on the SharePoint site as well as bandwidth.

The Premium version includes the same content as the Standard version but you will receive all the source videos and documents as a separate download. The Premium version permits you to modify this content to suit your business needs. It also permits you to re-brand this content and make it available directly to your customers.

Please note you are not permitted to resell or give away this product.

There is also an Annual maintenance option that provides 12 months of free upgrades to both the template and content for Premium purchases. This ensures you always have the most recent and up to date version available as Office 365 changes.

Finally there is also free version you can download and install, however this version does not contain any content but includes all the links and the structure so it could be used as a starting point to build your own solution. Please note, there is no support provided withe free version.

Using this template will provide your business with an easy option to create a learning portal in your SharePoint Online environment. Your users can learn about SharePoint Online while actually using it, which is the best method to achieve fast adoption of the product.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Free Windows SharePoint Services eBook

I’m making way for a new product to be announced very shortly (if you want an early taste check out my latest videos on YouTube) and as such it is time to clear out the e-commerce store a bit.

With that in mind I have decided to make my publication Windows SharePoint Master Class Tutorials available for free download.

You’ll find the download on either my publications or downloads pages. Here’s the book summary:

This book is designer for those that want to take Windows SharePoint Services v 3.0 beyond the basics. Implementing things like workflows and integrating with Microsoft Office allows you to unleash so much more of the power behind SharePoint. Every chapter in this book will give your techniques you can use with SharePoint to make it work better in your business.

Apart from workflows you’ll learn how to create linking with Office products to create updating charts, the ability to take SharePoint information offline and more. Even though this book focuses on Windows SharePoint Services v3.0 the information is relevant for all versions of SharePoint and provides a quick way for readers to get up to speed with this powerful tool from Microsoft.

Look out for my latest product real soon!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Add the Discover SharePoint app to a Team Site

One of the biggest challenges around SharePoint is end user adoption. I have written about this many times including:

The classic SharePoint migration mistake

SharePoint Online migration – Pilers and Filers

SharePoint Online migration–Start up is key

End user adoption in the SMB space is more of a challenge but I get REALLY frustrated when I see resellers ‘implement’ SharePoint Online by simply copying user files to a single Document Library and then running away screaming that there is no opportunity with cloud services. SIGH.

One of the best sites you can point people to when it comes to learning about SharePoint is:

www.discoversharepoint.com

But I’ll bet you didn’t know that you can embed this content directly into a customers SharePoint Team Site. Here’s how.

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Navigate to a SharePoint Online Team Site.

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Select Site Contents from the Quick Launch menu on the left.

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Select add an app

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Select SharePoint Store at the bottom of the Quick Launch Menu.

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If you get this warning select a language in the top right.

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You should now see the store with apps inside as shown above.

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Go to the search box in the top right and enter discover and select the magnifying glass to search.

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Hopefully the first result should be Discover SharePoint BETA. Select this.

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This will take you to a screen with more details about the app.

Select ADD IT on the right.

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Select Trust It.

(You may need to use a Microsoft account to complete the purchase if this is the first time you have purchased from the store. These accounts are free. I have a previous post that cover creating such an account this if you need to.)

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You should now see the Discover SharePoint BETA app listed in the Site Contents. Select this.

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It will take a moment or two to set up.

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You should then see the app displayed on the page as shown above.

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If you select the Cog in the top right of the page you will see a menu as shown above.

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The Settings option will allow you to determine whether analytics is sent to Microsoft to help improve the product. Note that it is enabled by default.

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If you select Admin Panel you will be taken to a screen where you can select what content is displayed by the app. Maybe you just want to start simple with a limited amount of information so as to not overload your users, you can de-select what isn’t required initially and then return and add it later when ready.

When complete select the Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

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You’ll then need to select Exit Admin Panel in the top right of the page.

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This will return you to the app. To to return to your Team Site select Back to Site in the top left hand corner of the window.

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On the Team Site you should now find the Discover SharePoint BETA item listed in Quick Launch Menu allowing anyone to access the app directly.

From here the Discover SharePoint BETA is just like any app in SharePoint, you can remove it at anytime if you want.

Don’t forget that the content in this app is being updated regularly so continue to visit it to see what’s new.

So hopefully, there is a nice simply way for you to add some information and training about SharePoint Online to help end user adoption directly into a Team Site.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

End of support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2


I know there are still plenty of people out there running SQL Server 2008 and 200 R2, especially for SharePoint 2010 and Companyweb. Well, the word from Microsoft is that these products have reached the end of mainstream support as of July 8 2014. You can check that out here:
http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/search/?sort=PN&alpha=sql
Microsoft will continue to provide technical support for these via extended support but the message is that you really should look at migrating off these products as soon as you can. Why? Because things like non-security updates will only be available to customers with an extended hotfix agreements and that rules out most smaller customers.
The bottom line is that the longer you sit on your current versions of software the less support will be available. This to me, if one of the great benefits of a cloud service like Office 365 that is always up to date and you no longer have to worry about these sorts of issues.
So beware that the sands of time continue to march on and much like us all the software you are using now isn’t getting any younger.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Azure data centers are coming to Australia!

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Living in a country with low population density and very poor internet, going to the cloud can be a big challenge at times. What looks fast and responsive on US demos ends up being very substandard here for many reasons.

We have known for a while that Azure data centers are coming to Australia and it seems like they are starting to come online as you see from the above graphic. This shows the speed to different Azure data centers and down the bottom of the list now appears Australia! Yeah!

It will be fantastic when these become available via the azure portal for hosting things like Virtual Machines. It’ll be nice to have a piece of the Microsoft cloud in our own backyard for a change.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Restricting remote access to Azure Virtual Machine

If you create virtual machines in Microsoft Azure, you typically connect to them using RDP (if they are of course Windows machines). What you may not be aware of is the fact that you restrict, or whitelist, which remote IP addresses are allowed to RDP to these machines. Here’s how you configure this.

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You login to you Microsoft Azure console as shown above.

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In here is a Windows Domain Controller machine. What I want to do is restrict remote RDP access to this machine for security reasons (since it is a Domain Controller after all).

To do that select the Virtual Machine from the list and then the Endpoints option from the menu across the top as shown above.

At the moment there are only have two endpoints, one for PowerShell and one for Remote Desktop (i.e. RDP). Both of these services are accessible to the outside world via the Public port (which I have obscured for privacy reasons). These Public ports map to familiar Private ports at the virtual machine.

Thus, Remote Desktop connects via a random port from the Internet and this then mapped to the familiar port 3389 port internally at the machine.

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To set security on an Endpoint, simply select it and then select the MANAGE ACL button at the bottom of the screen.

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You will then see a dialog that allows you to enter a description as well as a remote subnet. You can then set the action to be either Permit or Deny. With RDP traffic the default is to allow all inbound traffic for that endpoint. All other ports are blocked for inbound traffic unless endpoints are created for those ports.

Points to consider:

  1. No ACL – By default when an endpoint is created, Azure permits all for the endpoint.
  2. Permit - When you add one or more “permit” ranges, you are denying all other ranges by default. Only packets from the permitted IP range will be able to communicate with the virtual machine endpoint.
  3. Deny - When you add one or more “deny” ranges, you are permitting all other ranges of traffic by default.
  4. Combination of Permit and Deny - You can use a combination of “permit” and “deny” when you want to carve out a specific IP range to be permitted or denied.

(Reference - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn376541.aspx)

You can of course configure these ACLs using PowerShell and the reference for that is here:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn376543.aspx

more information about setting endpoints for virtual machines can be found at:

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/virtual-machines-set-up-endpoints/

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Introduction to SharePoint Online Picture Library video

Images are a significant part of the data that resides on most hard disks. Getting this into SharePoint Online in Office 365 is a perfect way to make this information more visible and searchable.

In this video you’ll see how to add the Picture Library app to a SharePoint Online Team Site. You’ll also see how to upload images and edit their keyword and description fields for better searchability.

This video is part of my Getting Started With SharePoint Online playlist which will give you all the basics of how to get up and running with SharePoint Online in Office 365 quickly and easily.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Add a custom domain to Azure

Microsoft Azure shares many commonalities with Office 365. When you sign up you are given a default .onmicrosoft.com domain but you can also add you own custom domain. here’s how to do just that.

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Login to your Windows Azure portal at:

http://manage.windowsazure.com

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From the menu on the left locate the Active Directory icon, which is near the bottom and select it.

You should then see a single entry called Default Directory displayed, select this.

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From the menu that now appears across the top select DOMAINS. You’ll then see the above message indicating that you can add a custom domain.

Select ADD A CUSTOM DOMAIN.

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In the field that appears, enter the custom domain you wish to use and then press the add button at the bottom.

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You should now see a message at the top of the dialog saying that the domain has been successfully added.

Select the arrow in the bottom right to move to the next page in the process.

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Much like Office 365 you’ll need to verify that you own this domain. You do that be adding a DNS record to your domain records and having Windows Azure verify it.

There are a number of verification options but the best is normally a simple TXT record. If you therefore select RECORD TYPE as TXT record at the top you’ll be provided with the DNS information you need to add to your domain.

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You then got to the name records for you domain and add the supplied details to match the record selected in Windows Azure.

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When you have updated your domain record return to Windows Azure and select the verify button at the bottom.

Windows Azure will then query the DNS records of your domain to verify that a matching record can be found. If so, you will receive a verification confirmation message at the top of the dialog as shown above.

Press the check mark in the lower right to complete the process.

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You should now see the domain you just added listed in the domains option as shown above.

Again, much like Office 365 you can add multiple domains to Windows Azure as required.

With that done, now we can start utilizing this custom domain inside Windows Azure and I’ll cover that in upcoming blog posts.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Making an Office 365 calendar public

If you want anyone to be able to see your calendar by simply browsing to a web page and you are using Office 365 Exchange Online for your emails then simply follow this process.

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Login to the Microsoft Online portal with your account details. Select Calendar from the menu options that appear across the top of the page. This will display your calendar as shown above.

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Under the option My Calendars on the left, right mouse click on the calendar you wish to share (in this case Calendar).

From the menu that is displayed select permissions..

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An options pane will appear from the right as shown above. The option should show Public Calendar Not shared currently.

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From the pull down options select a calendar sharing option to suit your needs. In this case the selection is Full details.

Now select Save in top left of this pane to update your preferences and return to your calendar view.

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If you then again right mouse click on the calendar you wish to share as before and again select permissions to reveal the pane, you will find two new hyperlinks as shown above.

The View Calendar link provides you a URL link you can send to an external contact they can enter in their browser.

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When they do they will see a copy of your calendar (depending on the permissions you provided previously of course) as shown above. In my experience it may 10 – 15 minutes for a calendar to be accessible publicly via this URL as it obviously need to be ‘published’ securely in Office 365.

At this stage there does not appear to be a way to allow anonymous users to actually make changes to the calendar which may be handy in some circumstance. I am pretty confident that we’ll see that down the track very soon.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Getting started SharePoint videos

One of the most common challenges with SharePoint Online is actually getting started. That’s why I created these books:

 

which you can find over at my publications page. Purchasing one or more copies helps me to continue creating resources like these and my YouTube videos.

What I thought I’d start doing is take advantage of the playlist features in YouTube to start building lists of common videos to help people get up and running with SharePoint Online quickly.

That meant that I needed to create a few new videos which you’ll find here:

Uploading documents to SharePoint Online

Basics of working with Document Libraries

Basic calendaring in SharePoint

I have then combined these, along with an existing video, into a dedicated playlist:

Getting Started with SharePoint Online 

where these, and the ones I add in future, can be played one after each other. This makes it a nice series you can get someone to work through to get them up to speed with SharePoint quickly.

The videos are generally 5 – 10 minutes and provide the main points you need to get up and running quickly.

As I said, I’ll keep working on creating new videos to add to this playlist as well as looking at developing new playlists on different Office 365 and SharePoint Online topics. Let me know what you’d like to see.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

OneNote for Mac now opens OneDrive for Business notebooks


Another recent update Microsoft released, this time for OneNote for Mac, is the ability to open notebooks on OneDrive for Business in Office 365.
I know plenty of people that have been waiting for this.

Edit document directly in OWA

Here’s a handy little feature that has just been added to Office 365.

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Let’s say that someone send you an attachment as shown above. if you now click on that attachment Office 365 will automatically show you that document side by side (provided of course it can be viewed in Office Online).

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You’ll see the document on the left in Office Online and the email on the right. You can still download it to your desktop if you want.

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At the top of the page you’ll also see the option to Edit a copy.

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When you do it will create a new reply email on the right, take a copy of the attached document on the left and then place that copy into edit mode with Office online.

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Once you have finished editing and adding anything you want to reply email, just press Send away it will go to the recipient.