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!

Categories
Community Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365…

Recently I was speaking with a few individuals in the community and it was oddly interesting to hear that there seemed to be some misconceptions about Microsoft 365 and what exactly it is comprised of… is it the Operating System, or is it Office 365, or is it something else.

Literally. Eye opening. So eye opening that I feel the urge to drink coffee as I scribe this. Hold on while I go get another cuppa coffee.

Pertaining to what Microsoft 365 is and isn’t… it shouldn’t be too difficult for an individual that works in the IT field to keep up to date by reading all documentation, updates, tweets, articles, etc. in their field – right? Perhaps we need to assess how much time we’re reading as opposed to doing. Seriously though I read a lot during the day… almost as much as Ciphertxt and his trusty bot as they process feeds of information at all times of the day and night while listening to industry podcasts to stay ahead of the rest of us. Yes, even I feel somewhat overwhelmed.

If you’re feeling like there’s too much information to consume and you do want to know more about the platform that you’re working with and the new technological changes that are coming forth… I’d highly encourage you to read the Service Description for Microsoft 365 on a regular basis – perhaps once a month.

The Service Description is sitting in plain site with a URL that’s easy to remember – http://www.office365sd.com. Be advised that it this document link does redirect you to a docs.microsoft.com site.

In addition to the Office 365 Service Description, it’s not a bad idea to follow the conversations and articles being released over at https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/. This is where Microsoft works to digitally meet the community. Many new features or changes are socialized through with supporting documentation back at the Microsoft Doc’s site.

Also, if you’re looking for something that you can download, maybe the Microsoft Cloud IT Podcast is for you to able to consume information in byte size chunks – https://www.msclouditpropodcast.com/

Back to the subject at hand and dispelling misconceptions of what Microsoft 365 actually consists of? It’s the overarching brand for all Microsoft Collaboration products and in some sense security and OS. This covers home, personal, business, enterprise, education, and government product lines.

For Enterprise level users, Microsoft 365 includes Windows 10, Microsoft (Office) 365, and EMS.

For Business, Home, and Personal users, it means rebranding of the services but not necessarily inclusion of the OS or EMS – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2020/03/30/new-microsoft-365-offerings-small-and-medium-sized-businesses/

What’s fascinating to me though is when individuals get wrapped around the axle differentiating the workloads of Enterprise Microsoft 365 and what was more commonly referred to up until recently as Office 365. Why? Mostly due to individuals referring to Office 365 as Microsoft 365 without realizing that they were now including the OS and EMS components into the discussion. Now that they’re all bundled together I foresee many individuals that previously did not work much with EMS, InTune, or the OS side of things getting involved and engaged (perhaps just the IT Pros) in developing solutions that encompass mobility in more ways than just having apps on a device to access their data (OneDrive, Office, etc.)

It’s an exciting new world – dispell the misconceptions of Microsoft 365 by picking up the Service Description and a couple of pots of coffee and get cranking on learning all of the things… and also start working to learn some new things today.

Categories
Off Topic

Sometimes you got a rar…

Sometimes you find yourself listening to Katy Perry sing Roar. Okay, so to be honest those times are far and few between… except of course when it’s truth because you’ve just received a rar file from a digital purchase and you scratch your head and say, “How do I open this again?”

Don’t worry, breath, it’s not as bad as you think. If you’re on a Windows desktop and don’t know what a rar file extension is you may sit there clicking on the file getting frustrated. Again, set back, breath, queue up some Katy Perry and get your left shark action on.

If you don’t already have 7zip downloaded, head on over to 7zip’s site and download it. Once you’ve installed it (yes, this assumes that by downloading it you’re also going and installing it) you should then be able to open up rar files with a few taps of a mouse button (or trackpad or pointer). Where’s 7zip’s site? https://www.7-zip.org/

If you happen to be sporting a Linux desktop, you can grab the appropriate package for running an unrar command dependent on your Linux distribution. Handy page for finding the appropriate command yonder – https://linoxide.com/how-tos/how-to-extract-rar-files/

Good luck and back to getting your Roar on…

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter…

Categories
Conference Development Office 365 SharePoint

SharePoint Conference 2020

Have some free time on your hands in May and itching to get to know the SharePoint Framework and all the other capabilities of SharePoint and SharePoint Online? Check out the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada the week of 17 May 2020 … and if you go and check out Andrew Connell’s session I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

https://www.andrewconnell.com/blog/learn-sharepoint-framework-with-me-sharepoint-conference-2020/

Why do I say this? Because Andrew knows the SharePoint platform inside and out from the Developer perspective (which means also understanding a good chunk of the underlying architecture). He’s incredibly well positioned to teach on the SharePoint Framework having worked alongside the Product Group in testing it and maintaining portions of the Patterns and Practices for SharePoint Development. Further, if you didn’t know, Andrew has been around the platform since “the beginning” back when we all used to struggle with SharePoint Portal Services 1.0 – those were the days…

Nevertheless, check it out, say hi to Andrew, enjoy some “cooler weather,” and get smart on the Framework.

Categories
Azure Cloud SharePoint

Azure Shared Disks are coming!!!

Do you still have a need or desire to continue to run your SharePoint environment in an on-premises data center so that you can have them luxury of Always On Availability Groups with SQL Server? Well… now you can really take that workload to the cloud (with some minor caveats) once Microsoft fully goes GA with the Azure Shared Disks server.

https://azure.microsoft.com/blog/announcing-the-preview-of-azure-shared-disks-for-clustered-applications/

If you’re thinking to yourself, isn’t this just the next revision of Azure Files? Nope, that makes use of SMB and NFS protocols for accessing disk – akin to your favorite file share or iSCSI device. This is effectively zoning disk and making it available to your operating system as a logical volume that can be accessed by your server.

So if you want to create a volume that’s a part of a clustered file share, look no further, we have a “better” solution for you now… the real question of course is what the performance will look like and whether or not it will be able to keep up… I’m pretty certain that this will be something that will become the de facto standard for architects and IT Pros as they begin to set something up in the cloud.

Categories
Certification Training

Online Training…

Brace yourselves, I’m going to share my thoughts on online training and certifications.  I know, you’ve probably read a few different articles out there but I figured, why not share my thoughts too…

If you’re working for a company that has training benefits – awesome… USE THEM.  It’s effectively free money, even if you have to pay it back because you determine that you want to move onto another opportunity, USE THEM.  Those training benefits help to move you forward and give your grey matter some nosh that’s needed to keep it active and energetic.

Don’t just jump on the backwagon of what everyone else is using.  Do your homework (I know, I just mentioned you should study… which you might think is doing your homework)… research the various providers and figure out what it is that you want to learn and what your area of focus is.  There are a ton of training providers out there – to name a few PluralSight, Udemy, Skill Me Up, Linux Academy, and A Cloud Guru which all have decent quality materials that they try to keep up to date.  These are all companies that have on demand training, and a few have live training as well.

The caveat on each of these training providers however is similar to how you make investments in what your areas of expertise are, the training providers also recognize (at least for the most part) that they can’t be all things to all people – so they each have their specialities. . . sort of.  I say that mostly because most of the training providers originally started out in a niche area, but have since hit their saturation level in that area of expertise and are diversifying their training coverage.  I have yet to find any of these stooping to the level of teaching underwater basket weaving however.  In terms of the investments these companies have made, as an example, A Cloud Guru was (and may still be) the crown jewel of training materials for anyone that was looking to achieve their AWS Solution Architect Associate certification, but when it came to Azure, they basically had nothing… or it was dated and had materials for good ole Azure Service Management APIs (most of which have been retired at this point).  On the flip side, if you wanted something that was Azure focused, you turned to your friendly neighborhood Skill Me Up or PluralSight and dive deep to learn the materials and move forward.

If you find your self slowly but surely feeling as though you were being hypnotically controlled and put to sleep by screencasting, then there’s no better way to break up the monotony than through hands on labs.  Some training providers have a robust hands on labs training system (Skill Me Up); others have handy sandboxes (Linux Academy); and others are still figuring out what a hands on lab exactly is (A Cloud Guru).  Labs aren’t everything though – training providers are constantly battling with the same problem that you and I are – keeping up with the changes.  As such, a lab that works one week, may or may not work the next.  Additionally, because the underlying platforms are being updated, sometimes the APIs are updated and you find yourself not being able to complete a lab.  The best lab providers invest in keeping their lab systems up to date.  Others, they say they have labs… and they do, but they just may not meet the need in helping you to be able to learn the basics.  Of course in those circumstances of labs that are somewhat old… maybe that’s the challenge you’re looking for and you want to participate in a troubleshooting activity.

As one of my college roommates tended to say, “Know thyself.”  If you find yourself being someone that does well with online training and can dedicate an afternoon, evening, or late night to (who studies and learns in the morning?)… more power to you. If you’re me, and you prefer to go snag a cup of coffee or tea and have your phone or tablet with you, a mobile device that can sync conetnt down can be your best friend.

I’d recommend if you’re going to make an investment in a cloud training program, take some time and figure out what your objective is, then poke around at the above… minor caveat being that A Cloud Guru recently bought LinuxAcademy… so at some point we may see them merge… maybe?

If you don’t have the time to invest right now but you think you might be able to invest some time near the end of the year – Black Friday Sales – they’re a thing… most of the training providers have discounts that will knock your socks off.

Regardless, you’re doing awesome! Keep up the good work on seeking to better yourself whether it be in the world of Infrastructure as a Service, or something more on the Platform or Software as a Service side of things like Office 365.  Keep on learning!

Categories
Off Topic

SharePoint, where for art though?

Captain’s log… the vapor and mist of the cloud have formed and we see that things are starting to take shape in the realm of Office 365. Dan Holme and his cadre of excellence have continued to chart forward with making experiences usable by end users, providing capabilities that to build on-premises, while feasible in large chunks of time, come to life.

In the day of past with SharePoint before “v12” came out, developers seemed to hack away at the core of SharePoint, injecting and reflecting methods to bring to life the Frankenstein solutions that clients were seeking. Not that these solutions weren’t valuable, nor was it that they weren’t well put together, but the typical SharePoint developer had to know how develop using Object Oriented Languages… namely C# or VB.net. Both languages were not for the commoner, or the SharePoint Citizen as some may call it.

Then came SharePoint 2013 and the app model was brought forward. The Internet had solved identity for the Internet (no one really likes leaving port 88 open on the Internet for Kerberos tickets to be passed between realms mind you). Developers were now free to roam about and develop where they wanted, how they wanted. And it was good.

Then Microsoft took a page from it’s competitors and started offering experiences and building out a Framework that would allow developers to interact with the underlying components of SharePoint and Office 365 using REST API calls. Gone were the days of requiring developers to know C#… the day of the JavaScript developer (and really any other developer that knows how to make REST calls) was here.

Experiences like PowerApps and Flow though have also largely taken away the needs and desires to learn a “hard” language (actually, thinking about it, if you don’t know how to construct the logic of a program, JavaScript becomes all out hacking in some cases… not that people didn’t copy others C# code and wonder why it didn’t work).

So where do we find ourselves? Well, as a SharePoint admin, I must say that there’s less and less I find myself worrying about. Sure I still have my concerns about opening up Access Services on my 2013 farms that are still operating and having developers create app after app watching the SQL server backend topple over. And sure, in the 2016 environments I’ve embraced MinRoles with open arms.

But why should I continue to build on-premises when Microsoft has Office 365 / SharePoint Online available with SLAs that I can’t match on-premises? What’s a trusty admin to do? It’s time to take some time and REST… just kidding, it’s time to help organizations migrate to SharePoint Online where it makes sense and make use of Hybrid to help them make use of some of the tools (ala PowerApps and Flow) that make their end users lives a little bit easier.

And maybe also learn some REST… because you never know when some prototyping will come in handy.