OCS Custom Status updates – another update

Some time ago, I wrote on OCS custom status fields and how to implement them…

Well, security changes in the way Office Communicator works mean that, by default, the client needs to download its configuration file from a secure location. This has caused a problem for a good many people who used to rely on the status file being on their hard disk.

If you don’t have access to a web site that can publish a file via SSL, then I’ve posted a few other samples here… thanks to Matt McSpirit for the tip on how to do it 🙂 I struggled for a while by using SkyDrive to do it, but the eventual URL kept changing – now I can host a bunch of these files on the blog server!

Applying the settings
Here is the Registry file which will configure Communicator to use the “Microsoft UK” custom status below. If you’re happy with that, just

  • Sign out of Communicator entirely, close the application (right click on the Communicator icon in the system tray, choose Exit).
  • Click on the Registry link above, choose “Run” from the dialog, then confirm that you want to allow the registry settings to be applied.
  • Restart Communicator again – if everything works, you’ll see custom status appear by clicking on the big coloured blob in the top left…


If you’d rather use a different set of statuses, try downloading the registry file and save it somewhere, drag/drop it it into a new, blank Notepad window, and replace the URL with one of the following ones… then save it, and apply the settings as above.




Microsoft UK








OCS Ewand

Ewan D placeholder –

  <?xml version=”1.0″ ?>

<customStates xmlns=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/09/2005/communicator/customStates xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/09/2005/communicator/customStates http://livecommteam/sites/main/ice/Wave%2012%20Docs/CustomActivities.xsd>

<customState ID=”1 availability=”online>

  <activity LCID=”1033>In TVP</activity>


<customState ID=”2 availability=”busy>

  <activity LCID=”1033>Actually pretty busy</activity>


<customState ID=”3 availability=”online>

  <activity LCID=”1033>Working from home</activity>


<customState ID=”4 availability=”do-not-disturb>

  <activity LCID=”1033>Presenting and Projecting</activity>




Snipping tool for OneNote users

Following on somewhat from my off-topic Walking in the Country post, I thought I’d recount one useful tip that helps in grabbing the maps (or any other screen content, for that matter . at least anything that isn’t rights-protected).

If you have OneNote installed, press WindowsKey+S to initiate a snapshot, just like the Windows Snipping Tool. OneNote 2007 snaps the selected area of the screen into an unfiled note, and you can copy/paste the content from there to whatever application you like.

OneNote 2010 – which will be included with all versions of Office 2010 when it’s realeased later this year – even has the option of just copying the content to clipboard right away, rather than putting it into a OneNote file first.


OneNote is a great app which has a devoted set of followers out there – many Heart it, apparently.

Going for a walk in the country

I know it’s been a bit quiet in recent weeks here, but I figured I could chip in the now traditional New Year random post, which might of interest outside of the working day. Here’s last year’s post on how to wash you car.

During the Christmas and New Year holidays, I’ve been doing a bit of walking – going out for a few hours in the countryside, occasionally taking in the odd pub en route, that kind of thing. Over the last few months, I’ve come across several invaluable aids to finding and navigating some great walks.

If you search online for “walking in <name of area>”, you’ll probably find plenty of links to ramblers associations or other groups wanting to tell you about or sell you access to maps and documented walks. Ditto, there are thousands of books with details of walking in the UK . and very good I’m sure they are too.

I discovered the AA’s web site to be a particularly great source of free info, though – the walks are usually very well documented . though they make no sense when you’re reading them at the PC, they make perfect sense when on the walk itself (instructions like “walk along the edge of the field to a style, then cross the next field and two styles to a metal gate, turn left and cross a bridge to another field” don’t make for easy imagining, but when you’re at the edge of the field looking at the styles, it’s just right).

The AA “Walks and Bike Rides” site

Have a look on this site and see what there is in your neck of the woods. It’s been a brilliant source of inspiration for us. What I normally do, though, is to take the text from the AA site and copy/paste into a Word document – set the margins nice and tight, paste the text in with giant font size and copy/paste any maps they show from the AA page. and it’s easy to print out double-sided on a sheet of paper or two and take it with you on the walk.


What’s really got me out of trouble a couple of times, though, is Bing Maps. The most recent revamp includes the ability to display Ordnance Survey maps data (in the UK) as an alternative to Road & Satellite maps. Simply go to your favourite destination and from the “Road” drop-down, you should be able to view OS Landranger and OS Explorer maps (depending on your zoom level – if the OS option is grayed out, try zooming in or out to see what happens). image

Ordnance Survey Explorer maps are great, listing all manner of bridleways, byways, rights of way etc. But manhandling an A2 sized bit of folded paper when out and about is a bit cumbersome. these Bing Maps let you copy just the bit you’re interested in, and if you paste into your Word document, you could even have the OS version of the map on the back of the AA map & directions. Perfect.


I’ve also got a Windows Phone device which has the Bing for mobile available – and since the device has a GPS, it can show aerial views of where we are currently. Manually cross referenced with the OS maps, it’s got me out of trouble on more than a few occasions – knowing we’d missed some turning on a designated path, but been confident enough of making it back to the path just a few hundred meters ahead. I hope some future version allows the showing of real OS maps on the mobile screen . now that would be sweet.

Have a play with the OS features on Bing Maps – it’s truly brilliant, and might teach you a load of stuff about your own manor.