Sunday, July 23, 2017

My blog turns 10

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July 14 2017, marked a significant anniversary for this ‘wee tiny’ blog of mine. It has just past the 10 year mark! I actually think that I started before the 14th of July 2007 but the first entry here on blogger is:

http://blog.ciaops.com/2007/07/determining-whether-your-machine-has.html

So, let me tell you the story of my blog over the years.

The genesis of the blog was back around 2003 on Small Business Server 2003. When I was applying Windows Updates to my SBS box I wanted a place to record what I had just installed. The reason for this was I finding a lot of updates at the time were causing issues on the SBS so recording what I had put on when made it easier to roll back if necessary.

Most of this recording was done the Companyweb wiki, which I soon expanded to holding more than just server updates. Soon, the Companyweb wiki was full of all those hard learnings I made over time.

About this time I discovered a colleague was ‘blogging’ using some proprietary blog software (sorry, I can’t remember for the life of me what it was). Finding the concept intriguing I did what any technician did, I downloaded a copy of the software, set it up on my own web server and started publishing to the Internet. Me too, me too.

As time went on this software became harder and harder to manage and more and more things started to go wrong with it. I decided to move my blogging platform to a standalone version of SharePoint, again running on a server I managed and maintained.

That solution worked for many years. I eventually virtualised the underlying hardware the blog was running it on and continued to run it for many years. In fact you may still find some of today’s links pointing to the old SharePoint location.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for SharePoint as a blogging platform was all the blog spam that was accumulating. I really wanted people to be able to add value to conversation and comments I had started but alas the SharePoint platform was simply overwhelmed by the amount of blog spam being thrown at it, no matter what I tried to prevent it.

Another reason for shifting platforms is that when I went overseas to speak at an event I was pointing everyone to my blog for information but unbeknownst to me, my server running the blog had blown a power supply the day I left and was down until I returned. Not good.

At that point I knew it was time to move to a completely hosted system and someone else worry about the infrastructure. I had a look at a few platforms but settled on Google’s blogger for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was simple. Next, it didn’t seem to have as many security and vulnerability issues and others and most importantly, I figured that being on a Google platform would give me the best SEO ‘Google-juice’.

So, around May 2010 I moved all the existing posts from my own SharePoint machine to Blogger, and continued from there. I did this manually (i.e. copy and paste) and as you can imagine it took a long, long, long time. That also taught me a lesson about backing up my posts to another medium. I now do so using an automated sequence in If This Then That that takes a copy of each blog post I create automatically and saves it to a cloud based OneNote. That means that I not only have a back up copy of all of my posts on every device, it also means I can easily search all my posts offline and easily reuse them elsewhere. If you have a hosted blog, my question to you is, how are you backing up your content?

Since then, Blogger has worked well for me. I use Open Live Writer to compose my posts and upload to Blogger. A few years ago there was a hiccup with publishing as Microsoft had discontinued Live Writer but had made it open source (a la Open Live Writer). However, Google had made changes to improve the security of services like Blogger and now Open Live Writer couldn’t post! Talk about painful. However, the end result was that representatives at Google and Microsoft worked together to resolve the issue for everyone (and there were many). You can read more about this here:

A story with a happy ending

Apart from that, I really can’t fault Blogger as a platform. I acknowledge that it may not be the most sophisticated and it may not have all the features, but you know what? At the end of the day it does the job of helping me to get my information out so I reckon it is pretty good.

If I add up all the posts I have done here it comes to about 2,309 (including this post) over the 10 years. These days I’m writing about 230 – 240 posts a year, which is effectively one every few days. Some are about my business and what I provide but the majority are around the technologies I work with, these days Office 365 and Azure. Why do I do this? Why do I spend so much time writing and publishing?

In essence, the reason that I blog is chiefly for myself. When I learn something new I have a discipline to document it. In most cases, there is no reason that other can’t benefits from that documentation as well. That’s why I publish what I find here. I have benefited from others shared information so my blog is a small contribution back to greater good I feel.

The second reason I blog and recommend it as a practice to all is that when people ask me what can I do to improve myself and my business? My answer is three fold, read more, write more and speak more. You wanna get better? Consume more information by reading. I’m talking about ‘deep’ reading, not just web articles, I’m talking about books. You can follow what I read here:

Goodreads (reading list) feed -https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/708903-robert

Nothing has expanded my knowledge more than reading and as they say, “Leaders are readers”.

Reading is a private activity but the second leg of improvement comes from writing. There is of course nothing wrong with writing privately and I do that via a journal, however, there is more benefit to be gained by writing publically. The best way to understand this is to watch this video with Seth Godin and Tom Peters.

In essence, writing helps get thoughts out of head and into a form that others can understand. Doing so successfully is a skill worth cultivating, especially in business. Unfortunately, it is a skill I don’t see many developing today. So, by writing stuff down, and making it public, you are improving the way that you communicate with others and you are learning how to deal with others who will judge your work both good and bad, rationally and irrationally. That experience, that risk, is an opportunity for personal growth many don’t take. But if you do, then you have the advantage over the majority who don’t.

The final piece of the puzzle is speaking more. Speaking in public builds on what you have learned in your reading. It builds on the experiences and method you use when you write. It is the quintessential business skill. Those who can speak well can get their point across to others. I was lucky enough to be ‘forced’ into public speaking in my first job out of university. I continued to develop the skill from there by teaching at community college. I continue to polish that skill today with every class I teach, presentation I give or workshop I’m involved with. They say that people fear public speaking more than death. Thus, if you can conquer that fear using a system built on the skills of reading and writing, you become one of the few who no longer fears death. In essence, you become immortal.

Ten years is a long time to be at something in the technology game. I’ve seen and written about a lot of changes in the industry. I hope to be doing the same for many more years to come. It is however, nice to take a breath and reflect on a body of work that started out as nothing more than your own documentation to being a place that random strangers on the internet can find value from that one piece of information they are looking for. I work hard to make it a place worthy of those that subscribe and follow regularly. I welcome constructive comments, not spam though, both good and bad on any post I have or will write. People taking time to comment on a blog post adds additional value on top of what I create, so don’t be afraid to add something. Even something as simple as letting me know the information I provided helped you in some way goes a long way to giving me the energy and focus to dedicate to what I produce here.

Yes, each and every blog post takes time (sometimes a significant amount of time) to create. Yes, I am happy to give it away for free in order that others may benefit because it helps me get better. It helps me improve the way I communicate. It helps me be a better at my business. It helps me 'polish’ my art and improve with each post. The more I write the better I get and the same applies to anyone else who does so regularly and consistently. It ain’t hard. Get behind the keyboard and publish. You’ll be amazed, as I have, at where the journey will take you.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

July Webinar Resources

My latest webinar is complete. You can now download the slides from:

https://www.slideshare.net/directorcia/ciaops-need-to-know-webinar-july-2017

If you are not a CIAOPS patron you want to view or download a full copy of the video from the session you can do so here:

http://www.ciaopsacademy.com/p/july-2017-need-to-know-webinar/

We focused on the various methods you can use in Office 365 to share information with those outside your business. Everything from email attachments to Yammer we spent time on. Thanks everyone for attending

you can also now get access to all webinars via:

http://ciaops-academy.teachable.com/courses/need-to-know-webinars

for a nominal fee.

See you next month.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Office 365 supervision policies

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One of the really great things about Office 365 is it’s compliance features. Here’s one you may not know about.

Navigate to the Security and Compliance center after logging into your tenant as an administrator with appropriate rights. From the menu on the left select Data Governance.

Then from the menu that appear select Supervision.

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You’ll need to create a new policy which you’ll start by giving a Name and a Description.

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Next, select which users in your tenant you want to supervise. That is, which users communications do you wish to monitor.

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Next, select the monitoring direction, here I selected Inbound and Outbound. I also elected to Add a condition but you’ll also see there are lot of monitoring choices here form the pull down menu.

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I decided that I want to monitor my users for the use of the word ‘bananna’ because I really want to know what the monkey’s are doing with my banannas. Yes, I spelt it in a special ‘unique’ way so I can trigger this condition deliberately for demos.

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Next, I decided what level of communications I want to review. The default here is 10% and you’ll need to be careful about overloading yourself with too much to monitor. I set this to 100% in this case so I will always get a result (again for demo reasons).

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Next, I enter the users who will review the material. Basically, these people will get access to the material to review which I’ll come to soon.

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You review your settings and Finish to save and enforce the policy.

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What Office 365 now does is effectively create a private shared mailbox that the reviewers can attach to and into which the material to review will be sent. They simply attach to this mailbox as they would any other shared mailbox. The details of this mailbox will be provided once the policy has been enabled.

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As you can see, my reviewer can now attach to the supervisory shared mailbox and view any contents there. As you can see there is already a need to review an email that mentions the search term ‘bananna’. Those damm monkeys!

As I mentioned, Office 365 really has some great tool to monitor communication in your business. Take a look inside the Security and Compliance center to see options are available to you.

Monday, July 17, 2017

How to demo Office 365–My system

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I’m happy to announce the release of my latest course – “How to Demonstrate Office 365” which you can find here:

http://www.ciaopsacademy.com/p/how-to-demonstrate-office-365/

The course contains over 15 video lessons, including downloadable material and course notes. Importantly, it gives you a framework you can use to effectively show people what Office 365 is about. It is not designed to give them a deep dive, it is designed to give them a taste of what Office 365 can do for their business in a structured and engaging manner.

I created the course because I saw so many people struggling to annunciate what Office 365 is and how it can be used to solve business pain points. The course gives you a method you can follow to present effectively every time. It show you how to prepare and target your material and what to actually show. If you are a reseller of Office 365 this is going to improve your conversions, and that means more opportunity for you.

The secret of success is to use a system, and that is what I have created for you in this course. I have also included the option for a one on one coaching session where you can show me how you present Office 365 and I’ll provide you feedback and tips on how to improve further. All of this included for the low cost of US$99.

Sign up today and start presenting Office 365 better.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A few new SharePoint Online settings

If you haven’t already noticed, there are a few additional options in SharePoint admin center settings. You get there by going to the Office 365 admin centre.

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On the left hand side at the bottom expand the Admin centers option like so:

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Select SharePoint.

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From the menu that appears on the left select Settings.

A couple options you may wish to check and set here.

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Recommended to ensure that the Sync client for SharePoint is set to Start the new client so you ensure users get the most update to date version of the OneDrive for Business sync client when syncing data to their local machines.

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If you had a tenant that included the old SharePoint external public web site you’ll see that you have the option to extend it’s life until the 31st of March 2018. I’m happy to have my one delete so I’m leaving the setting as is.

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Interestingly, I can’t change the Global Experience Version Settings option and it is set to Prevent creation of new site collections. I assume this means that when you create a Site Collection now you only get the ‘modern’ experience. Can’t be changed for me so nothing I can do here but it may become available down the track.

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Today, you typically get an Office 365 Group when you create a Team Site but you’ll see here that you can control that option if you want. You can also determine where the new sites are created.

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The Access app is being retired, here you can control whether users can still use it to create new Access apps in your site collections.

There are lots of additional options on the Settings page so make any changes you want and then select Save at the bottom of the page to updates these for your environment. Also, don’t forget to come back regularly and check to see whether any new options have been added.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Need to Know podcast–Episode 158

An episode full of Microsoft Cloud news and what's going on in places like the Microsoft Inspire conference currently underway in Washington DC. We cover off news on some recent layoff at Microsoft, the recent announcement of Microsoft 365 as well as plenty of what's been happening with both Azure and Office 365. Listen in to get the latest.

Take a listen and let us know what you think - feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen to this episode directly at:

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-158-cloud-news/


Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

@marckean

@directorcia

Azure news from Marc

Introducing Microsoft 365

New apps for Office 365 Business Premium

Workplace analytics

Calendar.help

New Word and PowerPoint online viewing experience

Job cuts at Microsoft

This episode brought to you by:


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Meet Calendar.help

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In a recent article I wrote about how Findtime was under going a transition. Maybe, this is part of that change?

If you navigate to:

http://calendar.help

and sign up (you may need to wait to be accepted) using your Office 365 account you’ll be able to use Cortana intelligence to handle your meetings.

How?

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As you can see by the handy introduction message I received when I was approved, you simply CC the Cortana email address and allow the bot to take care of everything.

This is even better than find time because the bot takes care of all of the interactions with the other parties.

Calendar.help is still in preview but go, sign up and give it a whirl. I think you’ll find it something as helpful as Findtime, if not more. I also expect it to improve over time, so stay tuned for further updates.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Changes for Findtime

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One of the best Outlook add-ins and a great service from Microsoft was Findtime. It basically allowed you to easily schedule meetings amongst multiple people, within and outside Office 365.

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If you however visit Findtime today and try and sign up you’ll be greeted with the above message.

Basically, if you are a new user you can no longer sign up to Findtime. However, if you are an existing user of the service you’ll still be supported.

Although it says that FindTime will continue to be supported and that there will be some exciting news soon, I hope it won’t be too long, otherwise FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) will start to creep in about the future of FindTime.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar–July 2017

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Lots of news to cover around Office 365 this month and you’ll get it all on our regular monthly webinar. We’ll also do a deep dive into sharing documents with people in Office 365, especially people outside your business. This is a common need for most business so attend and learn the best practices and how to do it effectively.

You can register for free at:

July Webinar Registrations

The details are:

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar – June 2017
Thursday 20th of July 2017
11am – 12am Sydney Time

All sessions are recorded and posted to the CIAOPS Academy.

There of course will also be open Q and A so make sure you bring your questions for me and I’ll do my best to answer them.

The CIAOPS Need to Know Webinars are free to attend but if you want to receive the recording of the session you need to sign up as a CIAOPS patron (for only USD$10 per month) which you can do here:

https://www.patreon.com/ciaops

or purchase them individually at:

http://www.ciaopsacademy.com/

Also feel free at any stage to email me directly via director@ciaops.com with your webinar topic suggestions.

I’d also appreciate you sharing information about this webinar with anyone you feel may benefit from the session.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Need to Know podcast–Episode 157

Marc joins us from his deathbed as he struggles with the 'man-flu' to stay lucid. You'll get to experience his flem up close and personal in this episode along with our regular cloud news. After some medication we continue our deep dive into how to migrate from on premises to Azure and Office 365. We build on our previous episode and discuss topics such as file migrations and AD integrations.

Take a listen and let us know what you think - feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen to this episode directly at:

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-157-migrating-to-the-cloud-ii/

Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

@marckean

@directorcia

Azure news from Marc

Microsoft Teams external access gets delayed

Microsoft Forms now available to commercial customers

SharePoint communication sites now rolling out

This episode brought to you by:


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Azure Backup Reports

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One of the things that Azure Backup has been improving is the reporting it provides. A new addition is Backup Reports which you can now view in Power BI.

You’ll first need to go into your backup vault and select the option Backup Reports under the Monitoring and Reports section of that particular vault as shown above.

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You’ll then need to select the Configure button.

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You’ll then need to change the status to On, select an existing Storage account for the logs to accrue into and select the retention period.

Once you have done all this you’ll need to save your settings.

You’ll need to wait about 24 hours for data to start accumulating into the storage account so it can be read by Power BI.

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After you have waited an appropriate period of time login to your Power BI console and select the option to Get Data. Then select the Services option.

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In this list of content pack, locate the Azure Backup as shown above. Once you select this you’ll be prompted for the Azure Storage Account name into which you selected to send the backup reports. You’ll also be asked for the Storage Account Access key.

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After a few moments, where your data is imported and configured, you should be able to a see a dashboard like that shown above. Remember, you’ll only see data from the point which you created the storage account to capture the logs.

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You should also find that you have a Power BI report you can access with the tabs shown above for more detailed information.

You can now customised your reports and dashboards to display exactly the backup reporting information you wish to see. If you monitor multiple backups, for multiple different customers say, you can now construct a single location to view all of these thanks to Power BI.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Turning off Teams cloud storage connectivity

I wrote an article recently about how Microsoft

Teams adds cloud storage connectivity

and I noted in there that the ability to connect Microsoft Teams to things like Dropbox and Google Drive was enabled by default, as it typically is.

Of course, there may be the need to disable this ability, which can be done. Let me show you how.

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You’ll need to login to the Office 365 portal as an administrator with the rights to make the changes. You’ll then need to navigate to the Admin center as shown above.

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In the search box on the right hand side of the page, type “service” and from the menu that appears select Service & add-ins settings.

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Scroll down the page and select Microsoft Teams from the list.

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Locate and select the option Custom Cloud Storage Options and expand it as shown above.

You can now unselect one or all of the storage services here.

After you have made your choice ensure you scroll to the bottom of the page and select the Save button to update your preferences.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Need to Know podcast–Episode 156

In this episode we talk to Tas Gray about the tools and processes he has developed to allow resellers to automate Office 365 billing. We discuss the solutions, how to set it up as well as the benefits of billing automation via CSP licensing.

Marc and I also give you the latest cloud news on Azure and Office 365 to help you stay up to date in this fast paced environment. Don’t forget to rate us and let us know your feedback.

Take a listen and let us know what you think - feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen to this episode directly at:

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-156-automating-office-365-billing/


Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

@tasgray

@marckean

@directorcia

Office 365 WHMCS

WHMCS

Azure news from Marc

Microsoft Build Australia

Amazon now a big Azure customer

Amazon vs WalMart

Microsoft Forms now available

Microsoft Stream

Microsoft Teams and Dropbox

New Azure VPN gateways

Storage service encryption for Azure managed disks

Increased Azure disk size

This episode brought to you by:


Monday, June 26, 2017

Teams adds cloud storage connectivity

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if you go into the files area of any Microsoft Teams channel you’ll now see an option to Add cloud storage.

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You can then add a connection to one of the services shown above.

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In this case, I added a connection to Dropbox where my podcast recordings are located.

This means that you can now easily access your third party cloud storage locations directly from within Teams and you can effectively put a link to the location of your files directly into the appropriate location within a Microsoft Teams channel.

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Even better than that, you can now easily go to the cloud storage location you have added and copy or move a file, all within the Microsoft Teams interface.

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You can then copy the file to another location, not necessarily within the added cloud storage. What immediately sprang to my mind was the ability to copy/move from the added cloud storage directly into the Microsoft Teams files area.

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This therefore makes it not only dead easy to migrate files from other cloud storage locations into Microsoft Teams but also dead easy to move them directly into a SharePoint Teams Site.

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Thus, Microsoft Teams now has added an integrated ability to migrate files from other cloud storage services to Microsoft Teams. This is going to be very handy because I see a lot of customers who are already using something like Dropbox but want to move to Microsoft Teams. This new ability allows them to link the appropriate location quickly and easily within a channel and start using those files in their current location. Then over time, they can start migrating them to Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Teams Sites without additional assistance.

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Once the location is linked it will also appear in the Files area of your Microsoft Teams interface as shown above.

I can see Microsoft Teams becoming more and more a central hub of not only Office 365 information but also cloud information. I also like how it is making it easier for people to get started using Office 365 by removing a lot of the complexity and allowing them just to get things done!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

June webinar resources

We’ve now crossed the Rubicon of 12 months of CIAOPS Need to Know webinars with the June episode. You can now download the slides from:

https://www.slideshare.net/directorcia/ciaops-need-to-know-webinar-june-2017

If you are not a CIAOPS patron you want to view or download a full copy of the video from the session you can do so here:

http://www.ciaopsacademy.com/p/june-2017-need-to-know-webinar/

I covered as much as I could on Rights Management and had some issues with buttons on the screen when sending emails but I hope that didn’t detract too much from the information presented. But, as always, there is so much more I could have done, so if you have questions let me know. Thanks everyone for attending

you can also now get access to all webinars via:

http://ciaops-academy.teachable.com/courses/need-to-know-webinars

for a nominal fee.

See you next month.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

When to use Internet Explorer with SharePoint Online

Although there are fewer people using Internet Explorer these days, there is still a reason to use it when it comes to SharePoint Online in Office 365.

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That is because when you do you get one additional option you don’t get elsewhere – View in File Explorer as you see above. This option is only available (at the moment) when you browse to a Document Library in SharePoint Online using Internet Explorer.

Viewing in File Explorer effectively maps a location from your Windows file manager on your desktop directly to that Document Library in SharePoint Online. This comes in real handy if you need to bulk copy and move files from one location to another as it makes the Document Library just like any other folder on your computer.

I cover all the basics in the above video, so take a look and let me know what you think, and remember, for the time being at least, Internet Explorer still has its uses when it comes to SharePoint Online!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Need to Know podcast–Episode 155

We'll apologise up front for the poor sound quality on this episode. The stars didn't quite align for us. We'll work to fix it for the next episode. In this episode we focus on bringing you up to date with the latest Cloud news from Microsoft. Plenty for events and updates to services like Azure and Office 365 that we cover for you. So tune in to stay up to date.

Take a listen and let us know what you think - feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen to this episode directly at:

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-155-cloud-news/


Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

@marckean

@directorcia

Azure news from Marc

Upcoming Microsoft Ignite session

Skype for Business PSTN calling in Germany and Belgium

New sharing experience for Onedrive for Business and SharePoint

Office 365 Saturday Australia

Azure AD conditional access now supports Microsoft Teams

System state backup for Azure file backup

Modern Flow Approvals

New Windows phone flow app

OneDrive support for Apple files app

This episode brought to you by: