Tip o’ the Week #70 – Windows Phone 7 usage abroad

clip_image002If you’re planning on taking your Windows Phone to sunnier climes over the autumn/winter, this tip might help. One side-effect of going abroad is that the numbers you may have saved in your contacts, won’t be able to dial – 07802 etc won’t make any sense if you’re in the US….

clip_image001One elegant solution to this problem would be to fix up all your contact numbers in Outlook, using a technique discussed way back in previous posts (here and here) to sort out the formatting of contacts’ phone numbers (the E.164 format – such as +44 118 etc – again, something I’ve dealt with before).

Now, Windows Phone 7 has some built-in intelligence to try to figure out what you’re attempting to dial when you’re overseas. It should be switched on by default – to check, go into Settings, then swipe right to applications and clip_image003look under phone, and check International Assist is on.

Allen, being a fiduciarily responsible sort of chap, was concerned that he didn’t want to rack up lots of data charges whilst abroad, and so was keen to make sure data roaming was switched off. This is also the default setting: if you’d like to verify the fact, or if you’d like to switch roaming back on so you can use (at astronomical expense, mind) the phone’s data services whilst overseas, go into Settings, swipe down to mobile network and check to see if roam or don’t roam is set.

When you’re abroad, you might find that you can connect on free WiFi networks instead – go into Settings / WiFi and look for suitable networks. There are various apps which purport to tell you if you’re connecting via GSM/3G or WiFi, however if you switch off Data Connection and/or roaming from the mobile network settings, you can be certain you’re only using WiFi.

There are even tools which promise to do all the “yes, I accept your terms and conditions, yadda, yadda” stuff that you might have to complete in the browser after connecting to Starbucks etc WiFi, before you can use the rest of the internet. As they say, YMMV.

Tip o’ the Week #69 – Keep your favourites and Office settings synchronised

clip_image001We covered using Windows Live Mesh to synchronise OneNote files between computers in ToW #52, but overlooked one really simple but useful check-box capability – the ability to sync your IE favourites between PCs, and to sync your Office settings too. Jamie Burgess suggested this would be worth covering.

In essence, this gives you a one-click (on each PC) means to keep your favourites up to date across multiple home and work PCs, as well as keep your Office spelling dictionaries, templates and email signatures up to date too.

clip_image003If you have multiple PCs and one of the first things you need to do when building a new machine is to recover your Outlook signature and IE favourites, then this is just for you.

To switch on, install Live Mesh (as part of Live Essentials) if you haven’t already, then switch on by entering “mesh” into your start menu and then click on Windows Live Mesh to open up the settings. More detail here.

Turn on and off with a single click and you’re done. For the more advanced users, you could set up a Sync Folder to copy your Favourites (generally found in c:\users\<alias>\Favorires) etc to SkyDrive, and that way they’d be available from any PC (via http://skydrive.live.com), or a useful way of backing up your settings if you only use one PC.

Tip o’ the Week #67–Lync Conferencing Tips

clip_image002An earlier Tip o’ the Week featured “5 Golden Rules” for OCS and Lync conferencing, and those tips still stand.

If you host or participate in a Lync conference, you can dial-in to the meeting from a phone as well as joining from your PC – eg for Microsoft-hosted Lync conferences, attendees can find numbers here when joining from elsewhere. The same URL can be used to set your conferencing host PIN, so if you dial the access number, you can sign in as the meeting leader.

Enter the conference ID that’s listed in the appointment, or which can be gleaned from the Lync client in the conference itself – so the leader could potentially pass on the joining instructions to other users who are not online.

Lync has some touch-tone commands that can be used to control the phone call – as an attendee, the most important is possibly *6, which mutes/unmutes your phone. Do everyone a favour if you are dialling in to a conference call, and mute your phone when you don’t need to talk. You’ll hear confirmation that “you are now muted” or the reverse, so it should be pretty clear what your current status is. Hopefully no embarassment of you starting to talk while still on mute and wondering why no-one’s listening, or the even less desirable inadvertent heavy breathing that can distract everyone else on the call.

Other touch-tone commands can help to provide the kind of info you can see when you join a conference call using the Lync client directly. Examples:

*1 – plays a list of conferencing commands you can use
*3 – plays a list of other attendees’ names
*4 – Toggle “audience mute”
*6 – Mute yourself
*7 – Lock/unlock the conference
*8 – Admit all participants currently in the lobby
*9 – Enable/disable announcements while entering/exiting

Clearly, some of these are only applicable if you’re a conference leader: it is worth remembering that you can still dial in and control a conference, even if you aren’t able to join from a PC.

Tip o’ the Week #65 – SharePoint 2010, a starter for 10

clip_image001There are many advantages to SharePoint 2010 if you’re coming from 2007, especially from a usability perspective, and there are a few nice tips to get the best out of it. SharePoint guru Jessica Meats provides a couple and will have more in weeks to come…

Update your MySite profile & picture

Head over to the new MySite (simply enter “my” in IE9’s address bar†) The default view gives you information about what’s been going on with people you work with. You can an activity feed which displays things your colleagues have been doing, such as adding new colleagues, joining groups, updating their status, leaving people notes, harvesting their Farmville crops and other interactions. So you can keep up to speed on the actions of people you’ve listed as your colleagues.

As well as seeing what your friends and co-workers are up to, you can add some information about yourself. If you click on profile, you see information about yourself that’s on your profile. Some of this stuff, like your job title, is filled in for you. There are other fields though that are all yours.

Click on the edit profile button and add your skills, interests, external blog link, even projects you’ve worked on. By adding a bit of information here, you can make it easier for people to know what you do, both inside Microsoft and outside.

If there’s a bit of information you don’t want to broadcast too loudly, you can choose to show it only to your manager, team, colleagues, or even just to yourself.

clip_image003 Last week’s IE9 tips ToW spawned a micro-tip, courtesy of Neil Cockerham. You can set IE9 to assume that any single word you enter in the address bar is the name of an intranet site – that way it will always try first to go to the website, and if it fails, it will fall back to searching Bing for that word… rather than the default, which searches Bing and asks you if you’d like to go to the website instead.

To enable this option, go to the Options in IE9 by clicking on the little Cog icon in the top left, then go into Advanced, scroll down and look for the appropriate option


Sync your documents

Got a document stored in a SharePoint team site you want to work on? Got a long train ride where you won’t have an internet connection?

If you go to a SharePoint 2010 document library, there’s a button in clip_image006the Library tab called Sync to SharePoint Workspace (as above).

Note that the new UI of SharePoint 2010, akin to the Ribbon that’s been in the last couple of versions of Office, needs to be switched on for every site that’s been upgraded. If you’re using an existing site and the administrator hasn’t yet switched it over, then the option to sync to SharePoint Workspace is in the Actions menu – if you select either of these options and you haven’t already configured the new SharePoint Workspace software that’s part of Office 2010, you’ll go through a wizard which will recover your account and email you a temporary password to get things moving.

SharePoint Workspace, as well as being the new name for Groove, allows you to pull SharePoint content offline, work on it locally and then synchronise up your changes later. By clicking on this button, you will launch SharePoint Workspace and it will start saving a local copy of the documents in the library.

You don’t have to lock the document first. SharePoint Workspace is clever enough to only synchronise up changes. So someone can work on the document from the library while you’re offline working on the local copy. When you get back to the office, your version will merge with the updated version in the SharePoint site.

So now no internet connection is no excuse to take it easy. Sorry…

Tip o’ the Week #64–Some IE9 tips

This tip was originally written shortly after the release of Internet Explorer 9, however it’s still valid today. IE9 is the fastest, most modern and most secure browser we’ve ever made (some would say, that anyone has made – recent independent analysis from NSS Labs shows IE9 blocking the vast majority of malware, versus all other tested browsers which fared less well – less than 20% effective, in fact).

If you haven’t installed IE9 yet, just head to http://microsoft.com/ie9 and click the “Download Now” – it’s as simple as that. Reasons to install are here, if you need convincing.

What’s new?

There’s a good overview of the new features in IE9, here. Far too many to cover in one Tip o’ the Week – so it’s a subject we will be returning to.

One key usability improvement is the ability to Pin sites to your taskbar, so you can launch them (or return to them) with a single click: just open the site, click on the tab it’s located in, then drag & drop the tab to the taskbar in order to pin it. Another is the simple display of recent & popular sites you’ve visited, when you create a new tab in IE9 by clicking on the clip_image002end of the tabs list, or by pressing CTRL-T.

The overall UI is much sleeker and simpler, doing away with lots of icons and even the separate search bar – if you want to search for something, just start typing it into the Address Bar and if it doesn’t get returned via your favourites or your recent history, then it will query your defrault search engine directly from there.

There’s even a “suggestions” option that can be turned on with one click, to suggest search results as you type. This is the off by default, as it would also send keystrokes of URLs you might type in… so the user has to opt in.

Show me the intranet! (add a “/”)

If you enter an intranet URL in the address bar, it will generally try to search online for that “word” – but in the background, IE9 can check if there is a web site available with just that name, and will offer you (displayed at the clip_image003bottom of the screen) the option  of going to that site. Try it with a site you haven’t visited since upgrading – eg hrweb

Once you’ve said “Yes” once to the offer, if you next enter the same phrase, IE9 will check from your history and see that you really did want to go to http://hrweb, rather than search Bing for it…

If you want to force IE9 to take you straight to the intranet site (and miss out the whole “search Bing, then confirm that you do want to go to the intranet..”), simple put a “/” at the end of the term. So you enter “itweb/ into the address bar (not bothering with http:// etc) and IE9 will take you straight to the designated site. Thanks to MSIT’s John Owen for this tip.