Monday, February 24, 2014

Office 365 certified

Back in January 2014 I sat the two new Office 365 exams:

70-347 – Enabling Office 365 Services

70-346 - Managing office 365 Identities and Requirements

and when I logged into my Microsoft Certified Professional portal today I was stoked to find:


Interestingly, passing these two exams gives you another qualification:


Not quite sure why it is considered ‘legacy’ (may be it is being changed?) but now I’m also a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate!

These two exams are the more enterprise focused Office 365 exams. There is still the:

74-325 – Administering Office 365 for Small Business

Which I have also passed a while back.


My advice having now done the three exams is that it is very worthwhile to start with the 74-325 first to get a flavour of what these Office 365 exams are like. The 70-346 and 70-347 are certainly much tougher and more focused on the the enterprise features of Office 365 so you’ll have to work hard to pass them.

The challenge with all these Office 365 exams is that they cover such a wide range of topics. To pass you are going to have to know SharePoint as well as Exchange. You are going to have to know how to do things with PowerShell and via the administration portal. Finally, you are also going to have to know how to interface Office 365 to on premise servers and desktops. That is a lot to know for ANYONE!

If you need a hand with the 74-325 exam I have an exam cram guide for sale on my publications page that helped me (that’s why I created it).

Even though I now have these exams under my belt there is still a HUGE amount of stuff I am still learning about Office 365 and I honestly discover something new just about every day I use it. That’s what makes it such a great product for me as it appeals to my inner geek.

Review - Nokia Wireless Charging Plate

Full disclosure – the review unit was supplied by Mobilezap. You can find this device and others at the Mobilezap category page.
One of the really cool things that Nokia phones come with these days is wireless charging. That means you just place the phone on the charging stand when you are not using it to keep the battery full.
I have been dying to try this out and was recently given the chance to try the Nokia Wireless Charing plate.
In my testing I found the charging plate to work very well. It does take a little familiarization to ensure you get the phone lined up correctly but a little light on the base tells you when the phone is charging. Now obviously it will take a little longer to charge wirelessly than if you plugged in the USB cable but the convenience factor totally makes up for that.
The good things that I also found were firstly, it charges through the cover I have on my Nokia and secondly it seems to also charge the Nexus 5 phone I have! The downsides are that if it needs to have a long charge the phone can get quite warm, but I have seen with other charging methods as well (especially via the car charger).
All in all this is an extremely handy device that you can simply set on your desktop somewhere and then simply place you phone on to ensure it remains full charge. No more plugging and unplugging of USB cables, so for that it is certainly value for money. Because it is so convenient you’ll probably keep your phone charged longer which overcomes the downside of taking longer to charge. Just watch the heating up during long charges.
I’d certainly recommend this to other Nokia phones users (and perhaps those using a Nexus 5). Thanks again to Mobilezap for the opportunity to evaluate.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Getting Started With Lync Online 2013–update

The ePub and MOBI (Kindle) formats of my latest book “Getting Started With Lync Online 2013” are now available from the CIAOPS publishing site or booksellers like Amazon. This also along side the existing PDF versions as well.

Don’t forget that I have also made the previous version of this book, based on Office 365 Wave 14 available for free download.

I am now working on the second edition of the Getting Started With PowerShell for Office 365 book which I expect to be out in the next few weeks.

Wave 14 Lync Online eBook free to download

As my new Lync Online book has been published I am open sourcing the superseded Wave 14 version, which is still of value in many respects, however it will now be free to download in PDF, ePub and MOBI formats.
You will find this book on either:


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cloud Business Blueprint Ask Us Webinar 3

Here is our weekly free Ask Us webinar for February 20, 2014.

As you can probably tell if you watch, I wasn’t in attendance but by partner Nigel Moore put me to shame in running this one. Well done!

Remember, these are free weekly webinars where you can attend and ask any question, business or technical you wish. Sign up for these webinars at:

If you can’t attend attend shoot your question through to and we’ll do our best to get it answered for you and then you can watch on the recording at your leisure.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It pays to be enthusiastic!

Since I put my name down to be kept up to date with OneDrive developments I received notification today that it has launched and is rolling out as we speak!

You can read the blog post here:
OneDrive now available worldwide
But I also found out that gave me a 20GB storage bonus for 12 months just for being ‘enthusiastic’!
I can’t wait for my existing SkyDrive apps to start updating to OneDrive. My question is when is OneDrive for business going to hit my Office 365. I’ll just have to stay ‘enthusiastic’ and find out!

SharePoint Workflows–first steps


This is the next in my series about SharePoint Workflows. Make sure you read my previous post before proceeding:

What are SharePoint Workflows?

I am going to use a test SharePoint site on my Office 365, as shown above, to demonstrate you how to use SharePoint Designer to connect up and start creating Workflows.

The articles after that will focus on how actually create a workflow.


You will firstly need to install and run the free SharePoint Designer 2013.

When you have done that select Open Site from the button on the left.


You’ll now need to enter the URL of the SharePoint site you wish to connect to as shown above and press the Open button.


If you see the above warning message about the server version being more recent firstly make sure you are using the right version of SharePoint Designer for the SharePoint you are accessing. Then make sure that all the patches and updates have been applied to SharePoint Designer on the desktop. See this knowledge base article for more information:

Failing that try using the Click to run version of SharePoint Designer that is provided with Office 365.


When you have opened you site you should see something like that shown above which displays the structure of your SharePoint site.


The third item on the menu on the left should be Workflows. Select this and the display will change to that shown above. Typically you will find no Workflows.


As I mentioned before, Workflows are normally attached to a SharePoint element, such as a Document Library. To view this option select the Lists and Libraries from the menu on the left (normally the item just above Workflows).

Now on the right you should see a complete list of every List or Library on your site. In this case select Documents under Document Libraries on the right.


You should now see a lot more detail about that particular Document Library on the right hand side.


If you scroll down the window on the right hand side you should find an area that says Workflows as shown above.


Pressing the Create button in the top right of this area will allow to create a Workflow attached to this SharePoint item (in this case a Document Library called Documents).

In the next post I’ll show you how to create a very basic workflow and what options are available. From there we’ll look at creating something a bit more involved as mentioned in my first post.

Using the Lync Online Web Scheduler

Many people don’t realize that you can create, manage and attend Lync Online meetings directly from a web browser. I created therefore created this short video to run over the basics.

This means you can work with your Lyn Online meetings where ever you have a browser!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Melbourne next week

Next Wednesday kicks off the national breakfast road show for Microsoft and Express Data on the changes coming for Office 365 here in Australia. I’ll be assisting with all the presentation which kicks off in Melbourne next Wednesday the 26th of February.
If you are interested in attending you can still register via:
for the events in all capital cities.
While I’m in each location I plan to host an informal get together the night before somewhere in the city where people can come together and have a chat about technology, the cloud and business in general. We already have a few starters for Melbourne on Tuesday the 25th, so if you interested in attending this informal get together the night before the breakfast session please contact me to RSVP (
I look forward to seeing the folks in Melbourne either at the meet up or the breakfast the following day.

Monday, February 17, 2014

What are SharePoint Workflows?

Workflows are a powerful component that is built into all current versions of SharePoint including those available in Office 365. Workflows allow you to automate processes in SharePoint. So, for example you could create a workflow that takes some specific action when a new item is created in a list.

All versions of SharePoint have a number, and it varies between SharePoint versions, of workflows that you can create using the browser. The most common of these is the three-state workflow which you can learn about here:

Use a three state workflow

The workflows in the browser are fairly limited in what they can do but you do have the option of creating your own customized workflow using SharePoint Designer.

SharePoint Designer is a free download from Microsoft that allows you to customize SharePoint in a variety of ways. You need to use a different version of SharePoint Designer for each SharePoint platform that you are using. You can download these versions using the following links:

SharePoint Designer 2007

SharePoint Designer 2010

SharePoint Designer 2013

Thus, if you plan to work with SharePoint 2010 and 2013 you’ll need the 2010 and 2013 version of SharePoint Designer.

If you plan to work with SharePoint Online via Office 365 all you will need is SharePoint Designer 2013.

You need to think of SharePoint Designer as a tool that lies between the browser customizations and full blown coding. Importantly, it has a number of limitations in what it can be used to create. SharePoint Designer basically uses a flow chart style to create workflows. This means you can only work with a limited set of programming tools which can be extremely frustrating at times.

SharePoint Workflows are typically attached to an object (or app) in SharePoint. This means you typically create a Workflow attached to something like a list or document library. The Workflow will typically be initiated when something in this SharePoint object changes, for example, an item gets added, edited or deleted. This leads to another important point about SharePoint Workflows, they are change based typically. This means that they only progress when things change state, they can’t be made to wait until a certain time and date, they wait until something changes and then proceed.

Now before you even start programming your Workflow you need to sit down and work out exactly what it is going to do. The best way to achieve that is using a flowchart. Getting the process down on paper and understanding what you want to happen beforehand will save you many hours of frustration later on when you start using SharePoint Designer.

Let’s say that we want to create a basic vacation leave request Workflow. We’ll need to use a calendar item to attach the Workflow to and then we want employees to be able to enter an item into the calendar for when they want leave. From there we need to notify a specific manager about this request and have them approve or deny the request and for that to be communicated back to the employee.

In the next topic I’ll look at how to go about making all this happens with SharePoint Designer.

Getting Started With Lync Online 2013


I’ve just completed my latest eBook “Getting Started With Lync Online 2013” which is available from the CIAOPS publications page for AU$4.95.

Here’s what the book covers:

This book examines the basic operations of Lync Online 2013 available with all Office 365 plans. The book will take you step by step through working with Lync Online 2013 showing you items in detail, including screen shots. Using this book will help you operate and better understand the capabilities of Lync 2013 and the power that is can bring your business.

This booked is aimed at users who have never used Lync Online 2013.

You can download the table of contents to see what topics the book covers.

The book will shortly be available in both ePub and Kindle formats as well as being on the Kindle and iBook store.

If you enjoy the content on this blog then one of the ways that you can support it is is by purchasing a publication or referring others to my publications. All of these take many, many hours to create and produce so you assistance and support is always appreciated.

I hope you find the book of value and please let me know what you think of it.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

‘Ask Us’ Webinar 2

Here’s the recording from our second Cloud Business Blueprint weekly ‘Ask Us’ webinar.

Remember it is free to attend so please register for the upcoming webinars at:

and let others know who maybe interested.

Also, if you can’t make it along then email your question to and we’ll do our best to answer it and get it into the next recording so you can view it at your leisure.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Coles and Office 365

Coles is a major supermarket chain here in Australia and they have developed a portal called MyColes to allow employees to access all sorts of information about their business and their benefits.

You can find these videos here:

How Coles Transformed Team Member Engagement

How Coles is improving customer service with IT

How Coles is driving HR initiatives with IT

Cloud Business Podcast–Episode 10

The Cloud Business Podcast - Opportunity in the Cloud is only a Click Away with Robert Crane and Nigel Moore

We’ve broken into double figures with the 10th episode of the Cloud Business podcast now available for your listening pleasure on iTunes and at:

In this episode we talk about the bigger picture and setting specific long term goals and achieving them. We’ll give you some tips on how to set these as well as some great tool for managing them as well. There’s the usual Rob’s Rant and Questions and Answers as well so don’t miss this episode.

Remember as always, keen to hear you feedback on the above page or via an iTunes review or directly if you are shy. If you have any suggestions for topics you’d like to hear us cover, or maybe some guest you’d like to hear from then please let us know.

Stay tunes for upcoming episodes real soon.

Well worth watching

Hopefully by now you have heard of TED talks. They are basically a huge library of speakers on a broad range of topics from business to technology and from medical science to philosophy that you can view online for free. I’d be really surprised if you haven’t seen at least one.
TED was recent released a list of its top 20 most popular talks (measure by the number of views). You will find these over at a recent blog post:
The 20 most popular TED Talks, as of this moment
I am now working through this list myself and would commend the same thing to you as well, because if they are so popular there is probably something in there work learning.

Ask Us Webinar 1–Highlights reel

We have posted the highlights reel of our first Ask Us webinar to Youtube and you can find it here:

Ask Use Webinar 1 – Highlights

In the video we cover some information on creating a SharePoint Online demo site as well as comparisons of SharePoint Online to Office 365. Unfortunately, it is limited to 10 minutes because our Cloud Business Blueprint YouTube account is yet to be verified. We’ll take care of that for our next Ask Us Webinar on the Thursday the 13th of February at 12.30pm. Cloud Business Blueprint members can view the complete highlight reel in the members forum (since we are using a different technology there with video).

You can sign up for the next Ask Us Webinar and actually any Ask Us Webinar at:

Remember, there is no cost for these webinars. Also, if you have a topic you like to see covered then by all means shoot me an email or leave a comment on this blog about the topic or question you have and we’ll do our best to answer it in the upcoming webinar.

We hope to see you there.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

National Office 365 breakfast sessions

I’ve been working with Microsoft and Express Data here in Australia to present a number of breakfast session around the new options available in Office 365 from the 2nd of April.
These events will be held in most major capital cities initially (and maybe roll out to other regional areas later on). To register for these breakfast sessions visit:
I’ll be presenting along with Microsoft and Express Data. I have worked hard to ensure that the content is relevant and engaging for attendees and not just a stack of slides. We’ll have interactive discussions, questions and answers, ask the experts, migration scenarios and a whole stack more.
Also, as part of these events I’ll be running an informal get together somewhere in the city the night before. Very much like the Cloud Business Blueprint meetups these will be totally informal get togethers over some dinner and a drink to discuss business, technology or whatever. If you are interested in attending please email me directly via and let me know what city you’ll be attending so I can send you the arrangements.
I hope to see you there.

February Sydney Meetup next week


Our first meetup in January was a blast and exceptionally well attended. Now it’s time to do it again for February.

We have therefore arranged our next Sydney meet up to be held:

Date: Monday 17th February, 2014

Time: from 6.30pm

Location: The Oaks Hotel, Military Road, Neutral Bay in the “Bar & Grill” area


This is a completely informal get together with the goal of allowing attendees to network with each other and share interests, contacts, strategies and general information.

We are also happy to welcome anyone along who thinks they get value from attending even if they are not currently a member of the Cloud Business Blueprint yet. Feel free to come along and join in the conversation, no obligation.

If you planning on attending we would ask that you let us know via an email to so we can ensure we have enough seats reserved for you at the table.

Come along and chat to other IT Professionals about how they are successfully running a business focused on the cloud.

Image courtesy of stockimages /

Friday, February 7, 2014

This is BIG news for Office 365 in Australia

Some sharp eyed contacts alerted me today to this post on the Official Australian Partner blog yesterday:
I knew that Office 365 via Open Licensing was coming but I didn’t know about this:
Microsoft Online Portal
In this scenario, Office 365 is purchased online via the Microsoft Online Portal. This option is subscription based, with the choice of monthly or annual billing. Microsoft resellers will be able to sell via this option by attaching a ‘Partner of Record’ to a customer account.
So, that seems to mean that you can now also buy Office 365 direct from a Microsoft via an online portal! Thus your purchasing options are now:
1. Open licensing
2. Telstra T-Suite portal
3. Microsoft Online Portal
4. Via Retail for Small Business Plans
Personally, this means that the upcoming changes to Office 365 (which will happen on April 2nd, which was announced in the same blog post) are going to have a much GREATER impact for customers and more so resellers I believe here in Australia. A much greater impact.
I’ll try and ferret out some more details and report back when I have some more facts.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I got the Lumia Black Update

I received notification of an update on my Nokia Lumia Windows Phone yesterday so I pressed the button and commenced the upgrade.

It all went seamlessly across the air and after a few reboots I am now running the Lumia Black update. If you want to know the details about what the Black Update contains then I’d point you here:

Once you have the Black Update you can also get some new Nokia apps for the Windows Phone. One of these is Nokia Beamer.

Start by downloading the Nokia Beamer App from the Windows Store. Then visit:

where you’ll see a QR code like so:


Capture that with the Nokia Beamer App on your phone and then you will see the screen of you Windows Phone in your browser like so:


That’s really cool I reckon and for me really handy as it make doing demos of the Windows much, much easier.

If you have a Windows Phone check to see whether you can get the Black Update. If you can, do it! Then check for the additional cool apps you can now get like Nokia Beamer.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Exchange Online message tracking extended to 90 days

Used to be a week, now it is 90 days per this blog post:
The ever improving world of Office 365.

Next Cloud Business Sydney Meetup


We’ll be doing the next Cloud Business Blueprint Sydney meetup here:

Date: Monday 17th February, 2014

Time: From 6.30pm

Location: The Oaks Hotel, Military Road, Neutral Bay in the “Bar & Grill” area


This is a completely informal get together with the goal of allowing attendees to network with each other and share interests, contacts, strategies and general information. We have a lot to discuss this month including a new CEO at Microsoft, changes to Office 365 available in Australia, and more.

We are also happy to welcome anyone along who thinks they get value from attending even if they are not currently a member of the Cloud Business Blueprint yet. Feel free to come along and join in the conversation, no obligation.

If you planning on attending we would ask that you let us know via an email to so we can ensure we have enough seats reserved for you at the table.

Remember, it is totally informal some along and enjoy a good feed and great conversation with a fantastic bunch of people all looking to better their business through the cloud. Everyone who attended last month had a blast!

Image courtesy of stockimages /

Monday, February 3, 2014

[VIDEO] Using a site template with a new site collection in SharePoint Online

I’ve just uploaded a new video to my YouTube channel that shows you how to take a site template from one site collection and use it as the base site in a completely new site collection. You’ll find the video at:

This is based off an earlier blog post I did on the same topic.

Now using this technique you can create and template a site (including the content if you wish) and use this as the first site in a completely different site collection with SharePoint Online.