Monday, March 31, 2014

Great Azure intro demo

I’ve been lucky enough to have MVP Troy Hunt on a CIAOPS podcast ( as well as present on a Desktop to Cloud webinar (

Troy has now done an excellent introduction/overview video on Windows Azure. This is really great if you are wanting to know what Azure actually does and for resellers it also goes into how you can make money with the platform.

The video is about 90 minutes but well worth setting aside the time to watch as it will answer many questions you may have.

Great work Troy. If you haven’t already, head over to Troy’s blog ( and follow all the amazing stuff he blogs about and the information he provides.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

OneNote now FREE On all platforms

Some BRILLIANT news from Microsoft. They have made OneNote available on all platforms for FREE! This includes for the MAC for which I have been waiting for so long. Not having OneNote on the MAC was a huge limitation for me given I use it so much.
What Microsoft said was:
We have some exciting new developments for OneNote to share with you! In short these include:
1. OneNote for Mac is available for the first time and for free! With this, OneNote is now available on all the platforms: PC, Mac, Windows tablets, Windows Phone, iPad, iPhone, Android and the Web. And they’re always in sync.
2. OneNote is now free everywhere including the Windows PC desktop and Mac version. Premium features are available to paid customers.
3. The OneNote service now provides a cloud API enabling any application to connect to it. This makes it easier than ever to capture ideas, information and inspirations from more applications and more places straight into OneNote.
So if you haven’t experienced the joy of OneNote, now there is no excuse not to be using it EVERYWHERE!
I’m installing on my MAC as we speak and will report shortly on what I find.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Need to Know podcast–Episode 57

In this episode I’m joined by Xbox MVP Mark Libman to talk everything xBox. Marks shares his experiences on the XBox, E3 conference and what it’s like to be a Microsoft MVP. It’s a bit different from the normal business stuff the podcast focuses on.


Mark’s interests/contacts include:

Website -
FaceBook -
Twitter -
Instagram -
Twitch -

So check them out.

You can find the episode at:

or subscribe via your favourite app like iTunes:

Remember, if you have a suggestion or want to appear on an episode simply get in contact with me.

Sydney and Brisbane event

The Express Data and Microsoft Office 365 road show rolls into Sydney this Wednesday the 19th of March from 8am at the Microsoft Offices in North Ryde. The following Friday the 28th of March it is in the Microsoft Offices in Brisbane.
You can still register for both events here:
We are also having an informal get together before each event. For Sydney the event it will be tonight, Monday the 17th of March from 6.30pm at the Oaks in Neutral Bay and in Brisbane on Thursday the 27th from 6.30pm in the city.
If you are interested in either of these events I’d appreciate you getting in contact with me ( to confirm your attendance, so we can plan numbers.
I look forward to seeing everyone at these upcoming events.

Friday, March 14, 2014

SharePoint modified date field discrepancies

One of the major misconceptions may people are under is that SharePoint is simply another files and folders repository. SharePoint is a collaboration solution and therefore a very different beast from what many may be familiar working with.

A good example is the issue around the modified field. Let me explain.


One of the many things that SharePoint allows is the mapping of a document library using Windows Explorer as you can see above. You can easily drag and drop files into a SharePoint library using this interface.


In this case let’s pay special attention to the Date modified for each file shown above


If you now look at the file listing in the web interface of SharePoint after copying the files across using Windows Explorer you will see that the Modified field is different in the web interface from that in the Windows Explorer view. Why is that?

The reason is that SharePoint is a collaboration system not simply files and folders storage as I said before. What does that mean? What it means is that when a document is copied to SharePoint it is now only part of an item in a list of items that together constitute a Document Library.

What that means is that in SharePoint an item is not only just the file but also things like previous versions, workflows, additional metadata, check in status and so on.


If we take a look at the properties of another item in another SharePoint Document Library that includes some of these additional elements you’ll see what I mean.

So for example, the above item includes a file called 0 – general index.docx and Title but it also contains an additional field called Customer. Thus, this Document Library item is composed of a file AND metadata. So if any of these elements of the item change then the Modified field for the whole item will change.

Thus, in a SharePoint Document library the file inside an item can remain unchanged but other information around that file in the item can change. These changes can trigger things like workflows so it important that a change anywhere in the item is reflected by SharePoint.

So in summary, remember SharePoint is not simply a files and folders replacements, it is a collaboration system and therefore different. Uploading a single file into SharePoint adds that file to an item in SharePoint that contain additional information such as metadata. Thus, any uploaded file is only part of the item in SharePoint. The Modified information you see in the web interface for SharePoint refers to the whole item, whereas the information you see via Windows Explorer (which is a much simpler client than a browser) refers directly and only to the file because it can’t read any of the additional item information from SharePoint.

I hope all that makes sense.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

SharePoint Conference 2014 content available

There is little doubt in my mind that the need to know and understand SharePoint is imperative if you plan to work in a Microsoft and especially Office 365 world. With this in mind, one of best events for all the cutting edit information about SharePoint is the SharePoint conference, recently held in Las Vegas. I attended the event the year before and it was huge!
For those of us that couldn’t attend Microsoft has now made available much of the content online here:
SharePoint Conference 2014
There is a huge amount of content that will take many, many weeks to work through but kudos to Microsoft for making it available and doing so quickly!

MVP ComCamp events next week

Microsoft MVPs are a community of skilled IT Professionals who share their knowledge and experience of Microsoft products. Next week MVPs around the world are coming together for a week of deep dive presentation culminating in an in person event on Saturday the 22nd of March.
During the week there is a range of webinar that you can attend and the details are here:
The week culminates on Saturday the 22nd of March with in person events in every major Australian capital city (and around the world). It is not too late to register for these events which you can do via:
You’ll also find out more about the agenda and logistics of the day.
These events are not only a great way to get a deep dive into Microsoft products, they are also a great opportunity to network with other IT Professionals. I would encourage you all to attend and to let everyone else who maybe interested also know about these events.
I look forward to seeing you on the day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lync Online external meeting attendees

Lync Online allows you to invite anyone to a meeting you schedule. All you need to do is schedule a meeting as you would in either Outlook or the Lync Web Scheduler and send them the URL for that meeting.

When they receive this link and click on it they will gain access to the meeting. If they already have a Lync Online account and Lync client software (either from Office 2013 or Lync Basic) on their desktop, the meeting will be launched in these applications. If they don’t have a Lync Online account with Lync desktop software, a browser will launch and they can use the Lync Web App to connect to the meeting.

Here’s a video from Office 365 MVP Darrel Webster that steps you through the experience of connecting using a web browser:

The Lync Web App is a fully featured Lync client that runs through a browser. This also means you can run the Lync Web App on a Macintosh.

Here are some handy links on the Lync Web App:

Join a Lync Meeting form Lync Web App

Quickstart: participate in online meetings with Lync Web App

There are some slightly different limits on what Lync can do across the plans and you’ll find that information here:

Lync Meetings

Lync Online Service Descriptions

You can have up to 250 meeting participants and here a good guide on the best practices when it comes to a Lync Meeting:

Best Practices for a Lync Meeting

This makes Lync Online a really compelling tool for smaller businesses because it can:

1. Reduce the amount of email people have to deal with since they can now quickly chat

2. Allow them to host full blown webinars that can be recorded and used later

3. Provide the ability to see what every one is doing via their presence in Lync

4. Have the same Lync experience on their mobile device and where ever they are.

5. Allow them to remain in contact with their team no matter where they connect from.

So remember, Lync is for all users, even those without Office 365 whom you wish to involve in a meeting. For them access is as simple as using a web browser.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Security for your mobile devices

The IT landscape today is filled with hackers, malicious software and disasters. Most businesses have these under control for traditional servers and desktops within their business and perhaps somewhat in their homes but when it comes to mobile devices many have adopted the ‘Macintosh fallacy’. That is, it won’t happen to me.
The bad news is that mobile devices are now more than ever the target of the bad guys and are more likely to sustain some sort of disaster (like falling into the toilet). My question is, what are YOU doing about it? Yes YOU.
The first app that I’d be looking at installing on your devices is Lookout.

It will protect your device from malware, scan every app that you download to ensure that it is safe as well as block malicious web sites. It will also backup your contacts, photos and other data allowing you to easily transfer it to a new device. Lookout even allows you to find your device and remotely wipe it if you need to.

Much like the Secunia desktop software, a version now available for Android devices allows you to ensure that all the apps on your device are up to date. This greatly reduces the chance of them being exploited as any desktop user knows.
Both of these are FREE so there is no excuse not to have them running on your device. Both also offer commercial products that provide greater amounts of control for businesses with lots of devices to manage so if you have a fleet of devices you need to manage you should also look at how these products can allow you to create your own BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) strategy.
If you don’t protect your device then you have no one to blame if something goes wrong. Reduce the risk and use these two free apps. I do!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

More from Simon Sinek

YouTube is a great thing. Not only does it have some really fantastic stuff that you’d probably never see (of course along with stuff you probably don’t want to see) but it learns what you watch and suggest more of the same. Chances are that will be appealing, you watch that and it will again learn and suggest more stuff like that. So the circle goes on.

Following on from the video I recently posted by Simon Sinek is another that has popped up. This one covers a some of the same material but there are some more great insights. The great thing about this video is that it includes a questions and answer session at the end. So make sure you watch it all the way through.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

OneDrive for business now available

Microsoft has just announced the availability of OneDrive for Business which is a replacement for the SkyDrive Pro client.

OneDrive for Business for Windows 8 and Windows RT
OneDrive for Business Desktop App for Windows
OneDrive for Business for iOS
Also interestingly it was announced in the OneDrive blog that:
Starting April 1, 2014, OneDrive for Business with Office Online will be available also as a standalone service.
It is worth reading the OneDrive blog to also get an idea of what is coming down the track. Things like more storage and security for OneDrive are very exciting.
So, I’m off to update all my apps and learn about the new benefits of OneDrive for Business.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Comparing Lync Online client software

You can connect to Lync Online via a number of different clients. You can use a web browser all the way up to the full client that comes with Office 2013 Professional Plus but what happens if you are using an Office 365 plan that DOESN’T include Office 2013 Professional Plus as a desktop download (like say a stand alone Lync plan)?

In that case you’ll be able to download and install just the Lync client software but beware, because in this case what you’ll get as a download is Lync Basic NOT the full Lync client.

If you refer to this document:

Clients for Lync Online

You will note that it says in the foot note under the Client features for stand alone plans [my emphasis added]:

The Lync 2013 client is supported for use with these subscription options, but it is not included. To access multiparty video (gallery view), OneNote meeting notes, recording, and calendar delegation features, users must have rights to the full Lync 2013 client. You can obtain the full Lync 2013 client by purchasing Office 2013 Professional Plus.

So what doesn’t Lync Basic provide then? Here’s the list:

  • Advanced call features: team ring, call forwarding, simultaneous ring, voice mail, call park, call delegation, response groups, and remote call control (not available with all Office 365 subscriptions)
  • Calendar delegation
  • Gallery video view
  • OneNote sharing
  • Recording
  • Skill search (not available with Office 365)
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) (not available with Office 365)

These items are probably not an issue for most people but the big one that is missing from Lync Basic for me is the ability to record a meeting.

So if you have Lync Online and you DON’T have Office 2013 Professional Plus on the desktop make sure you understand the limits of what your chosen Lync client software can and can’t do. Just for reference here is a table of exactly what each Lync client can and can’t do:

Lync Client comparison tables

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Another great Simon Sinek video

If you haven’t seen the Simon Sinek video How great leaders inspire action then you need to also take the time to look at that. However, make sure you come back and also watch this one.

In this video Simon breaks down what makes good leaders and how they tick. Unfortunately our current business environment is not promoting inspiring leaders who create a better world. In fact it is creating a world full of scared people who are afraid to help others.

Watch the video and see what you think. I’m fairly confident it will make you think.