Category Archives: General Tip

Q3 Newsletter Out Now! Covering Microsoft 365, Project Online Updates and More!

 

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Microsoft Announces Office 365 is now Microsoft 365

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Recently at Microsoft Inspire, Satya Nadella unveiled Microsoft 365, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security, delivering a complete, intelligent and secure solution to empower employees. It represents a fundamental shift in how we will design, build and go to market to address our customers’ needs for a modern workplace.

Microsoft states “the workplace is transforming—from changing employee expectations, to more diverse and globally distributed teams, to an increasingly complex threat landscape. From these trends, we are seeing a new culture of work emerging. Our customers are telling us they are looking to empower their people with innovative technology to embrace this modern culture of work.
With more than 100 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365, and more than 500 million Windows 10 devices in use, Microsoft is in a unique position to help companies empower their employees, unlocking business growth and innovation.”

I really support this change in branding. So many existing and potential customers were confused by the concept of “Office 365” as they assumed it meant only traditional Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.). With “Microsoft 365” it indicates you are accessing a store of products. This is very similar to how people buy applications for their phone. You go to the appropriate store (Google Play, Apple App store, etc.) and select what you want. Now, if you are looking for licenses for Project, OneDrive, Visio and many other products, you simply access Microsoft 365.

I’m also happy to announce that I am able to help customers buy their software from a Microsoft Certified Provider as an alternative to directly purchasing from Microsoft. This allows the customer to choose more personal and premium support as an alternative to the standard Microsoft support queue. Current customers have the option to switch to a certified provider as well. Personally, I have chosen this approach as it ensures I still get the same quality Microsoft products, but my business contact is just a different organization. I’m happy to answer questions about this approach.

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Project Online Update July 2017

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An important note for users of the Project client connecting to Project Online — as you will need a ‘2016’ level client to connect starting at the end of June 2017!

This is very relevant for customers who own a desktop client. I know the Microsoft website initially indicated this would happen at the end of June, but I didn’t notice this impacting customers till the second week of July. If you own a subscription version of Project “Project Online Professional” or “Project Online Premium” you have nothing to worry about as you already have the latest version of the desktop client as part of this subscription.

For the last several years, the option to force a specific version was left up to the organization based on a version number restriction. Now I see that this has changed for Project Online users. My personal feeling is that a number of support issues will be solved immediately by eliminating issues with the wrong version connecting. In discussions with clients who still purchase desktop software by a traditional license agreement with Microsoft, they have discovered that they can upgrade to the 2016 client at no additional charge.

Users of project desktop will notice only minor differences in their user experience when switching from 2013 to 2016. I frequently teach classes with students using 2010, 2013, 2016, and Project Online subscription users, all in the same classroom without any difficulties.

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TIP CORNER: How to Disable Auto Brightness on Windows 8

Throughout the workday and based on your background lighting, Windows 8 automatically adjusts the brightness of your laptop. Initially you might think this is your eyes getting tired, but it actually might be the screen brightness dimming. It is very frustrating when it dims and you don’t want it to. I found this useful tip and am so happy I changed my laptop!

1. Head to the Desktop of your PC by pushing Windows Key + D or clicking on the Desktop icon in the Start Menu.
2. On the bottom right of the screen, locate the battery icon.
3. Right click the battery icon and select More Power Options.
4. Select Change Plan Settings on the currently selected profile (by default it’s set to Balanced).
5. Click the Advanced Power Settings link.
6. Scroll down to Display > Enable Adaptive Brightness.
7. Change it to Off for either or both “Plugged In” and “On Battery”.

Source: https://theunlockr.com/2012/04/20/how-to-disable-auto-brightness-in-windows-8/

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Cindy 3 PMI 12-12-16

Where in the World is….. Cindy Lewis?

Sept. 27 – WMPMI (West Michigan Project Management Institute) Professional Development Day (Sponsor)
Oct. 20 – PMI-GLC (Project Management International Great Lakes Chapter) Professional Development Day (MPUG Booth)

Follow me on Twitter to Stay Up to Date!
@LewisCindy

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There’s a lot to Love about Skype!

In Skype for Business, a PSTN conference – commonly known as a dial-in conference – is any conference in which at least one participant dials in to the audio portion by using a PSTN (public switched telephone network) phone. The ability to use a phone to access a meeting is useful for individuals who are on the road or otherwise cannot attend a meeting using a mobile device or PC. Using a phone also can be a better option in other scenarios, such as when internet connectivity is limited or when a meeting is audio only.

The default SKYPE for Business calling uses your internet line for both the screen sharing and the voice sharing, but I’ve found this is sometimes problematic. If someone is at a location where the Internet goes out, the individual has no way to stay engaged in the meeting if you do not offer a dial-in number. Sometimes people are traveling during the meeting and need to join by phone until they are able to get to their computer and participate in screen sharing. I have personally decided to purchase the PSTN conferencing option so every time I hold a SKYPE meeting individuals can choose to join with a computer headset or with their cell phone or conference phone. It’s only about $4 a month, and I do not have to worry about the costs associated with international charges as the system provides alternative numbers based on the country of the attendee. This has saved my meetings and training engagements numerous times when the person who was disconnected by their computer could dial-in by phone and let us know they would be back online soon!

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The Inside Scoop on Being a Microsoft MVP – From a 5-Year (and counting) MVP – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of this post, I gave you some insight into what the Microsoft MVP award is and how it is awarded. This post will focus on the unique benefits to actually being an MVP.

Quick Answers to Tech Questions

Being an MVP means I can get answers to technical issues almost instantly from the community.

I can pick up the phone and call another MVP or even participate in a private forum to see if someone else around the world has experienced the same issue. Clients are often amazed that I can get the answer they need faster than their own IT departments!

As an MVP, I have had the opportunity to create a mental rolodex of the most qualified tech professionals in business today.

Access to Microsoft

Being an MVP means I share what I hear directly from clients to individuals at Microsoft who can truly make a difference.

Recently, while at an MVP feedback meeting, and with my client’s consent, I was able to show someone at Microsoft my automotive client’s instance, describing what they wanted to do and their pain points with the software. Microsoft was eager to receive this feedback as they continue to improve their products.

Another example is that of one of my retail clients, who was having an issue with a specific Project Online resource feature. I was able to reach out to someone at Microsoft who was involved in the development of this feature. My contact suggested that I have the client submit a proposed change to Microsoft backed by a business case. The feature was reviewed by Microsoft, which then decided to make a change to the software. With the power of Project Online, the customer was able to see the change within a few months of it being rolled out.

Serious Network Benefits

Being an MVP means I know the best of the best around the world. It’s a real kick when a customer says they read an article from another MVP, and I can often comment that I know the individual personally and that we recently chatted on the phone or participated in an event together.

An MVP might call me about a challenging timesheet/task update question, while I might call another MVP to get advice about integration with another Microsoft product. As an MVP, not only can I call people in my software area of expertise, but I can get connected to other MVPs in other areas when needed. This is very powerful and gives me a huge network of resources across all Microsoft products.

Also, MVPs in my software specialty have become friends for life. Sometimes in our forums we share stories about weddings, babies and life-changing events like floods, terrorist attacks, and even war. This is not a news report, this is someone sharing personal feelings of things they are experiencing right now, and I’m honored to be there for them when they need me.

Nonstop Learning & Sharing

Being an MVP means I am passionate about what I do and helping others get more from their software.

Being a frequent (okay….constant) traveler, I get to meet lots of people all over the country at all levels of ability and in all industries. I learn from them all. Novices help me to see pitfalls to software usability and experts help me to see the range of ways technology can be used. My head and my heart are in this business together because every time I travel I feel grateful for my unique opportunity to learn, grow and share.

One thing an MVP is not, is someone who knows the answer to every question. However, I continue to learn and gain knowledge every day and customers help me in that growth.

Are you interested in becoming an MVP? Or do you need the kind of help only an MVP can provide, specifically for Microsoft Project or Project Online? Please feel free to contact me to start the conversation!

 

 

Photo Credit http://www.motophotoknappscorner.com/

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Recap of “Office 365 Grand Rapids” Event

I am really excited to tell you about a cool event I attended recently. Held on Saturday April 1st at Davenport University, it was a free workshop for any attendee who wanted to learn more about Office 365 including Word, Excel, Access, Power BI and more.

The event was organized by Microsoft MVP Andy Tabisz of WorkSmart Database Masters.

Underwritten by sponsors, including Davenport University and WorkSmart, there was no cost to attend and even included lunch.

Without further ado, here are some of my takeaways from this event:

 

 

Presented by Amy BabinchakThe Art of Integration: How Do Your Programs Work Together?

  • Skype can really help your business. You can do simultaneous editing in a document during a meeting. You can simply share a document via Skype for someone to view. Even better, the document shared will follow your security policies tied to that document (e.g. hidden content, or sharing within organization only).
  • Don’t be worried about Microsoft support and your data. They can’t see your data at all even when viewing your account to solve technical issues.  The data is blurred out on the screen.
  • Every Office 365 membership has security features that might not be enabled, check your security score to see where you stand.
  • Set up your security so you can see who sees your data in your organization and where they send it.

Presented by Bethann Talsma – How to Give an Effective PowerPoint Presentation 

  • Less is always more in PPT. 
  • Your PPT deck should enhance your presentation.
  • No more than 7 down and 7 across on your items is a good rule of thumb.
  • PPT has an accessibility checker – which helps with individuals who use screen readers.
  • Personal note: Her amazing tips helps me completely refine my presentation for PMI-NEFL conference.

Presented by Corentin Cras-Meneur – Taming Outlook for Mac (and some Tips for Windows too!) 

  • While his session focused on Mac users, the Q&A section was very helpful PC users as well. 
  • Text expanders that work across programs really help with efficiency so you don’t have to retype or recreate the same information (e.g. Typinator).
  • Save common searches in your e-mail to speed up your efficiency.
  • Switch an e-mail back to unread so you know you still need to take action on it.
  • Check out Uservoice for providing suggestions to Microsoft (community issues are listed and people vote).

If you missed it, the next event will be held in Southfield, Michigan on June 6. Details are on http://www.office365day.org.

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Don’t Be Scammed!

Over the last few months, I have been chatting with customers and colleagues about various calls, e-mails, or text messages which are scams.

Scam Alert Button
Scam Alert Button

This very popular scam has been scaring people into thinking they need to pay for unneeded services because their computer is issuing viruses. You can read more about this by reviewing the Snopes article on this scam.  http://www.snopes.com/fraud/telephone/microsoft.asp  Also if you get bored at lunch sometime, there are lots of scams you can read about. Just because it is on the Internet and listed as news, does not mean it is true!

I actually experienced a call from one of these scammers and he was very convincing. For example he said he was from AVG virus protection, but when I said that I wasn’t using that on this computer, he rattled off a few other programs. Next he said he was from Windows support and asked me what version I was using (I did not answer). Next he said he had the model number of my computer (he rattled off some number that did not match my computer). Over and over again it appeared the caller was trying to get a match of something specific to my computer.  Just because you have heard of the company does not mean the call is legitimate!

The caller indicated my computer was sending out viruses and had to be fixed immediately. I indicated my computer was still in a laptop bag from my recent flight and not turned on.  The caller indicated my computer can still send out viruses even if it is not on. I pressed the caller for a company name or website and what I got was a fake website. The company name also seemed suspicious “USA Services” which clearly is not Microsoft, not my Internet Provider and not my virus protection provider. He prompted me to turn on my computer and I faked my way through some preliminary steps with him.  Next he told me to go to a website so he could “help” me find the viruses on my computer. I asked him to instead direct me through the steps he was going to do and I would do them myself. He did not agree to that. After much frustration on his part, he finally said he would call me next week when I had more time to work with him . Immediately after I hung up, I searched the internet to learn more about this scam. The caller made what appeared to be several more attempts over the next week but never left a message and luckily I never wasted anymore time with this person.

This week I had a customer who shared with me the best response ever to one of these phone scams – “I don’t have a computer.” Amazing how fast the scammer hung up the phone :).

Over the years I have experienced several scams. I have received text messages, e-mails and phone calls from places claiming to be from my bank, from Amazon, or from some other reputable company. All of them are asking me to click a link or in some way provide personal information. When in doubt, always go to a new browser windows and enter the actual website of the real company to view your account details.

Here are some guidelines to help you determine if it is a scam

  • Ask how they got your information and ask them to be very specific with date, location, etc.
  • Ask a friend. Literally if anyone tells you it is a scam, believe them.
  • Tell them you are going to contact the company directly to deal with this matter.

Here are a couple of stories from customers about scams –

A company that is in the insurance industry sent out a test email message saying something like “look at my cute cat video” just to see who opened it. Over 50% of the employees opened it and clicked on the link. The company instituted training about avoiding e-mail scans later that month. If it is not company related, do not open it! became their new motto.

A company that is in the architecture business fell victim to a computer virus that sends out e-mail messages that appear to be from the owner of that computer. A high percentage of computers were later infected and when the company’s HR department asked employees why they opened such a suspicious e-mail, the answer was that it came from the IT Manager so it must be a real e-mail. It does not matter who sends it to you, if it sounds suspicious and you were not expecting it, do not open it!

Be cautious out there and when in doubt, delete the e-mail, delete the text message, or hang up!

I’d love to hear other stories about your experience with scams, please feel free to comment on this article.

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