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Ask Me Anything

Time

The continual movement of time is like a pendulum, swinging gently back and forth, marking time at equal intervals. From some angles, the pendulum seems to stop as it hangs and then speeds up nearly, but it continues to move constantly. The passage of time is effervescent as the perspective changes as we move forward in life.

We only have a particular amount of time during the day to live, work, and rest. During the hours within which we work, a lot can occur, requiring re-prioritization of our time to meet the needs of who we are working on a task. Keeping track of that time can be difficult; planning that time and aligning to objectives even more.

At least for me, I’ve worked to adopt a few different solutions. For time tracking, I use a little app on my laptop that tracks time against whichever category I start the clock running. It’s primitive, but I’ve yet to find a solution that tracks time and understands the work’s intent. This inability to determine intent is especially true when it requires me to use skills or talents that are me drawing on a piece of paper or tablet to convey an idea, process, or basis for an architecture.

When it comes to my work calendar, I’m still working to determine best ways to manage this. I look through Viva Insights for, well, insights. I try to make use of Findtime and Calendar Availability for scheduling meetings. I strive to have blocks of working time. And yet, work still continues to progress forward in a positive motion. It can be tricky at times, especially in the ability to protect my time.

Many different companies provide tools to help in managing your time – I’m looking for one that will act as an assistant to literally protect time. Maybe that’s more a methodology or a practice, and I’m interested to learn from others; care to share yours?

Categories
Mobile

Now featuring… mobility…

Admit it, you get excited when you read a post or a tweet that says a certain capability is coming to an app that you make use of on your mobile device. That capability is something that you think will make your life better by enhancing your workflow or give you the ability to not be chained down. Maybe it will help you be more productive. Maybe it will save you a few clicks of trying to cut and paste on your mobile device.

What’s probably the most interesting of course is that the mantra that Microsoft has of mobile first cloud first is totally true. Before features have been made available in desktop apps… at least for the most part hit the mobile app first.

Of course, there’s the law of unintended consequences where the app actually delivers the capability but in a way that was unimagined that ends up causing frustration as it goes in a direction that you weren’t anticipating.

Fast forward to 2020 and I find myself hopping back and forth between tenants in Teams to attend meetings as well as to engage with friends in other tenants. The caveat of course being that at least for the past 2 years, I haven’t really gone too many places during the work day. . . Hopefully that changes soon 🙂

Nonetheless, what’s your favorite feature that’s on mobile that helps in your productivity?

Categories
Certification Cloud

Learning to Cloud…

It’s hard to believe that 15 years ago, I was working on a SharePoint 2007 deployment and embracing the service provider model, which seemed so new and different. I learned through friends in the SharePoint community by reading blogs and chatting over IM. I would share what I learned with others as we helped fill in our knowledge gaps. Fast forward to 2022, and we find ourselves with more knowledge than we know what to do with.

Microsoft docs are chocked full of information and updated regularly by the paid employees that are sharp and have worked in the field and community members. Microsoft has invested so much in it that they’ve established the Learn platform – more about that over here – https://danusher.com/2022/01/27/microsoft-learn/.

In addition to Microsoft Docs, many learning providers provide anything from Labs to Podcasts to Practice Exams and presenting material to help educate on topics. A few of my favourites include:

  • Microsoft Learn (see above)
  • A Cloud Guru – https://www.acloud.guru – overall they’re well known as being an AWS training provider, but over the past few years they’ve branched out and have an entire cadre of MVPs support Azure topics in a regularly scheduled video / podcast. Further, they’ve got some terrific Azure training courses with labs to test your skills out.
  • Adrian Cantrill’s AWS training – https://learn.cantrill.io – yes, it’s all AWS cloud focused, but if you’re going to flourish in this world you need to put the time and energy into it. Adrian will get you there pretty rapidly and you’ll be deploying environments and solutions in no time flat due to his realism in the hands on labs.
  • Pluralsight – https://www.pluralsight.com – while the training tends to be more lecture style than hands on learning labs, they’ve got topics that cover a good chunk of Microsoft as well as others and help you get moving in the right direction. Also they just started the acquisition of ACloud.guru, so I can only imagine that things will get better in terms of their hands on labs. In addition to Cloud, they have a ton of materials that are related to Office 365 and Microsoft services and apps.
  • Voitanos – https://www.voitanos.io – How could I not stop to take a moment and remind you of the premier Microsoft Developer training curriculum that’s out there for all of the SharePoint developers learning new ways to leverage the platform and framework. Great training, great trainers.

Many great providers cover many topics, and there are variations of every form to help you along the way. This does assume you have a budget unless, of course, you want to go with Microsoft Learn, which for the most part, is free (just your time is required).

Bottom line – if you’re looking to gain a certification or knowledge, check across the providers, watch a video or two through their free libraries, figure out if it’s what excites you and then go for it.

Happy learning!

Categories
Office

Are you an Insider?

A decade ago we found ourselves craving new features from Microsoft for the Office platform. We found ourselves getting a Service Pack every 12-18 months that was comprised of hotfixes and perhaps one or two new major features. Release cycles were long and innovation came in fits and spurts. Testing new features was something that as an outsider, you never got to see until that Service Pack was released.

Microsoft introduced their Office delivery rings in 2015 and we began to see an increased cadence in fixes and features being pushed to end users in small increments instead of in large service or feature packs. Caveat being that with increased release cycles that meant that a lot of changes were suddenly flowing to end users.

As those features moved the interface around rapidly end users found themselves suffering from change fatigue and Microsoft introduced some changes to how updates would be pushed out, changing the defaults of channels that users were put into. Rather than having users receive updates monthly, it was recognized that business users (and consumers at home) likely would benefit from a slower release and delivery cycle and also provide help desks time to adjust pushing users into a 6-month cycle.

Where do you find the information about features that are a part of each release?

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/officeupdates/update-history-microsoft365-apps-by-date

For those that prefer to have the latest and greatest, there’s the Microsoft insider program. If you’re an unmanaged user (e.g. a home user) then it’s pretty simple to join the Insider program by following the steps provided as a link off of the Microsoft Office site here – https://insider.office.com/en-us/?ref=O365.Help

If you’re a Business user where things are locked down by GPO or Intune, there are options to work through how to make “Insider” capabilities available to your users – https://insider.office.com/en-us/business/deploy

Even if you’re not looking to shift your user base to the latest and greatest, I’d encourage you to check it out for a single user account perhaps to get a feeling of some of the cool new features that are on the public Insider’s blog.

Categories
Training

Microsoft Learn

If you find yourself here because you searched on “Microsoft Learn” because you heard about it at a conference or on a podcast or somewhere, you’re in the right place.

Microsoft Learn is a site that Microsoft has been slowly but surely growing over the past few years, putting together technical documentation to help you in enhancing your knowledge to in part make use of their platforms. Whether you’re someone that is looking to learn more about Microsoft 365 / Office 365, Dynamics, the Power Platform, or Azure, Microsoft.com/learn has content that is easy to digest and consumable in small bites.

In the past, if you wanted to learn about a particular product that Microsoft developed at a 100 level you may find a few blogs out there or you might find a training class that cost a few hundred dollars. Microsoft has truly removed the barrier to learning its products through this learning platform.

One of the features that are pretty handy if you’re looking to learn Azure is the sandbox capability – effectively Microsoft spins up a pre-configured subscription that only allows you to perform certain actions but at no charge to you for consuming services to learn how to make use of Azure. Well done team.

Categories
Off Topic

The year that made us blind…

In the year 2020, a lot of individuals stayed home a bit more. For remote workers, we all stared at screens a lot more. For many, going to a doctor’s office instilled fear and concern. I’m willing to doubt that everyone had seen an optometrist or opthamalgist immediately before or during what many have termed lockdown or quarantine.

In as much, I’m willing to bet that many didn’t always wear their glasses while staring at screens.

I think similar to general physical fitness, optical health likely was impacted by many workers that were working remotely these past 18 months.

How have you protected your vision? What have been the “game changers” when it comes to how you’ve get your eyes healthy?

Categories
Community Office 365

We’re getting the band back together…

It’s been a long time coming, but with the normal of “COVID” and how we operate tech communities, we’re re-launching the Reston SharePoint Users Group as the Northern Virginia 365 and Azure Cloud Group.

In July I reached out to the greater Twitter community to see who was interested in participating as a speaker and was blown away by the response.

“What’s that? I can present remotely? I’m all in…”

That’s effectively the response that I received from individuals in the tech community. Some that I knew, some that I hadn’t met before or even heard of before. But that’s the beautiful thing about this community, there are a ton of individuals out there that do so much for the tech community that we just don’t happen to have a connection – yet.

So how do you find us? Head on over to http://www.nova365.ms

How do we meet? Back before we went on a hiatus when our lives got overly busy due to fast ring releases from Microsoft (I kid, I kid), we were meeting in the Microsoft Reston offices. Now we’re making use of Microsoft Teams for our sessions, but also recording the sessions and posting them over on our YouTube Channel

Want to get involved? Send an email to us at nova365 dot ms.

We look forward to meeting you all virtually through Teams meetings!

Categories
Office 365

Sticky Notes

If you’ve been using OneNote for a while you’ve probably found the ability to review tour notes on mobile as something helpful. Caveat, you probably don’t leave OneNote open at all times… and sometimes maybe you don’t need a whole notebook, just a Sticky Note.

In Windows 10 you may have noticed an app on your desktop calmly Sticky Notes. Recently (maybe the past 6 months… hard to say…) Sticky Notes on the desktop became integrated with the OneNote mobile app.

It’s pretty helpful when you just need to put together a quick bulleted list while you’re out and about that you need to be on your desktop.

Nonetheless, more details here on Docs – https://support.office.com/en-us/article/get-started-with-sticky-notes-86b36182-fdf5-4f9b-af7a-2846f83263f5#ID0EAACAAA=Windows_10

Categories
Cloud Community

Reviving a User Group…

The year was 2019. We had just wrapped up Cloud Saturday DC in Reston, VA at the Microsoft offices. We were pumped. The community had shown up in a fairly large capacity. Finally it was go time to restart the Reston SharePoint User Group… then the fall hit and school started, and priorities shifted.

January 2020 hit… we’re doing this we told ourselves. Then news started coming out of Asia of Covid-19. Then, the world stood still.

So here we are, nearing Memorial Day 2020, and it’s time to revive the Reston User Group with the help of Jay Leask. We are transforming it a bit… like most organizations we’re going online (hope Meetup.com doesn’t mind…). We’re using Teams (and maybe Skype for Business).

We’ll be looking for speakers from around the world. If you’re interested in being a part of this journey, feel free to ping us on Twitter Dan – @binarybrewery or Jay – @jayleask. We’d be delighted to have you as a part of the community!

Categories
Windows 10

Windows 10 PowerToys

Do you remember the good, old days when we have Power Toys for Windows? We could do all sorts of nifty, novel, and in some cases, silly things with them. Enter Windows 10 Power Toys!

What exactly are these? They’re Github hosted code components to add additional capability to Windows 10 that you might have in other Operating Systems through apps. At present there are a handful of enhancements that include a bulk image resizer, a window walker, and fancy zones (aka snapping to custom zone layouts), among others.

The team that is working on these tools seems to be sticking to a monthly cadence and we’re at 0.16.0 at the moment.

Curious to know more?

https://github.com/microsoft/PowerToys#overview

Definitely worth your while!