Tip o’ the Week #271 – Finding your Friends


Sometimes, people don’t want to be found. That’s maybe understandable if you’re a sweary unemployed pugilist, but often, you’d like to locate your friends and colleagues and you’d like them to find you.

Start by letting people see your calendar – in days gone by, the norm in Microsoft Outlook and Exchange was to let everyone see what your calendar says, but in recent versions, the only clip_image003info you’d see by default would be their free/busy status – which isn’t really much use if you’re trying to collaborate with them. All it would take is some eejit to invite you to their holiday, marking the time as out of office and therefore obliterating your own F/B status for people looking to book you for meetings.

Free/Busy is basically rubbish – it doesn’t let anyone know where you are, how likely you are to be available in a given location, etc. So, if you regularly get meeting requests from people expecting you to be in one place when your calendar shows you’re somewhere else, then maybe you should share your calendar better, and tell them to look in your calendar before emailing to ask if you’re available.

Thereclip_image005 are a few options for better calendar sharin: if you look on the Share tab when looking at the Calendar in Outlook 2013, you’ll see a clip_image007Calendar Permissions option, which will let you set the default permissions on your calendar, and see/set it you’ve granted more rights to certain folk – so you could allow everyone to see basic info, and your closest colleagues can be given the right to see everything.

Unless you’ve got something to hide (and if you do, you can always set those appointments as Private), then set the defaut sharing level to be Full Details – in which case, people will be able to see where you are, and who else is supposed to be at your meeting. If you choose any other option, then others won’t be able to open your meeting, so they wouldn’t see body text (like agenda, directions etc) or the attendee list.


FindMe – a Microsoft internal tool

There’s a snazzy tool developed by a group of Microsoft staff (in an internal development effort akin to the Garage), called FindMe. There are two parts – the installable software agent sits in the PC’s system try and provides your whereabouts to friends who you want to allow to see your location, and there’s a web front-end which will show you where your friends are.

The killer app part of FindMe is its ability to see the meeting rooms located in your chosen location – you can use it without needing to install the agent, and in supported locations you can see the floor layout, and a colour-coded view of the meeting rooms to show availability at a clip_image004given date and time (and a one-click link to make a booking).

As for finding people, if they have the agent running and if the location services detect that they’re sitting in a supported Microsoft building, you’ll see them on a floor plan, otherwise you’ll be shown a world map.

The software can use triangulated positions against known Microsoft WiFi network points, to show not just which building someone is in, but potentially right down to which desk they’re sitting at – it’s brilliant, but it needs a good deal of work in surveying the buildings to make it useful – but the team is working on how to make it available to customers as part of a Microsoft Services engagement. If you’re interested in learning more, ask your Microsoft contact to get in touch with the FindMe team (just send mail to the DL with alias findme).

Tip o’ the Week #270 – Renaming Windows Phone


No, we’re not talking about the rumoured change of brand from Windows Phone to simply, Windows 10. This week’s tip is inspired by Edward Hyde, whose several-phones-in-one-family position meant that it was difficult to tell one from the other when referring to them by name.

Edward’s specific scenario is when you’ve paired the phones to a car’s Bluetooth setup, and particularly if you’ve had the car longer than your current phone, you may end up with multiple “Windows Phone” pairings in the list on-screen.

Not that we’re suggesting your phone is developing sentience, but to see what it calls itself, look under Settings -> about (quite far down the list… keep swiping…) and you’ll see what name it has taken or been given. If you’d like to personalize it, first you’ll need to connect to your PC using a micro USB cable.

After the phone has connected (and if it’s your first time, you might need to wait for it to install a driver or two), then look in Windows Explorer and you should see it appear as a storage deviceclip_image002. Select it, tap F2 or click the Rename icon in the ribbon, and you can give your device a better moniker. Better still, if you use the Windows Phone app on your Windows PC, you’ll be more easily able to name and put content like ringtones & music onto the device, and manage other stuff like photo libraries.

clip_image003Keeping the travelling public on their toes

The device name only really shows up when clip_image005you connect the phone to something else – whether via a cable or long-dead Danish King, but another identifier is probably more visible to other people – the name you give the WiFi hotspot created when you enable internet sharing.

Why not, just for giggles, give your device a name that stands out from the crowd of “Steve’s iPhone” etc that you’ll see from a PC when looking to connect to your own device?

Now that Bluejacking is largely a thing of the past, how else will you keep yourself amused on the grind into the smoke?

Tip o’ the Week #269 – Clip to OneNote, once more


Time moves on. Things that are news soon turn into things in history: 20 years ago, Microsoft Bob came into the world. Bob was ahead of its time in some ways, foretelling some UI principles and ideas that later became more refined. It also indirectly gave us Comic Sans, too (though the font never shipped with the software – it was too late).

clip_image003Bob featured an animated mutt, the precursor to Clippy, aka the greatly-maligned Office Assistant.

Recalling Clippy, ToW has covered a few clip-related topics before, notably #219 (almost a year ago), which included a section on a new tweak that could grab web pages into OneNote notebooks.

clip_image004Well, the OneNote Clipper v2.0 has just been released, and is much-updated – the point being that you can easily add a “Clip to OneNote” button to your browser (drop into desktop IE or Firefox, addin to Chrome).

Use the shortcut to quickly clip whole pages or, new in this version, sections of web pages, to a location in your OneDrive storage – offering the choice of the multiple OneNote notebooks that you may have saved there.

You can clip “products” too – handy as you do shopping or browsing and want to remember what you’ve been clip_image005looking at.

It also recognises recipes as a specific content type, so you don’t need to snap all the clutter that might be on the web page, instead only grabbing the detailed instructions.

This is a great bit of non-work productivity software that really showcases the power of OneNote and OneDrive. Installation is a breeze, over at http://www.onenote.com/clipper.

Tip o’ the Week #267 – Synchronising Outlook Signatures again


Hot on the heels of last week’s missive about how to snaffle more storage space, once again we turn to OneDrive to solve a problem. First, let’s journey back in time to recall some previous tools.

Once, there was a peer-2-peer (P2P) file sychronisation product called FolderShare which was acquired by Microsoft nearly a decade ago; it allowed files and folders to be replicated amongst multiple machines, essentially for backup or for making sure you had your stuff (music, pictures etc) everywhere you needed it.

FolderShare begat Mesh or Windows Live Mesh, which became Windows Live Sync and eventually all became part of SkyDrive, as the latter became less of a simple place-to-put-stuff-in-the-sky/cloud and more of a storage mechanism with a means to sync and replicate it onto multiple places. Now OneDrive is part of Windows, and as well as giving away oodles of online disk space, it’s the mechanism by which Windows 8 and 10 users can synchronise settings between computers. It’s getting better and more granular all the time, too.

One of the nice features of Live Mesh/Sync was the ability to automatically keep several settings on multiple PCs in sync with each other – like IE favourites, or settings from Office like dictionaries, templates and email signatures. Though it’s now obsolete, this was first covered in ToW #69, back in 2011. Email .sigs used to be a big deal.

Windows manages to do a good job of keeping PC-specific settings in sync between machines, or even just backing up settings from one machine to the cloud using OneDrive – so once you’ve signed in to your shiny new machine with your MSA, then it’s quite amazing how much of your stuff just appears. But one thing that doesn’t is your Outlook email signature. If you want to back up your .sig and also make it/them available on multiple PCs, you need to work a bit harder.

The Dark Art of Symbolic Links

Worry not, however. Through a cunning bit of sleight of hand, it’s possible to fool dusty old Outlook into thinking that its Signatures folder is stored in the usual place, however we all know it can be moved into OneDrive and therefore made available to multiple machines. This is similar to the technique of replicating Desktop which was covered a little while back, except that instead of changing a registry setting to tell Windows where the folder is, we need to create a special kind of folder, which is really just a redirection to somewhere else.

Here’s the method – it’s best to close Outlook while doing this.

  • Find your current Signatures location – try pressing WindowsKey + R then paste into the run box, %appdata%\Microsoft (which opens the special location that many applications will use to store files that clip_image003pertain to how they work).

  • Then look for the Signatures folder – select it, copy it and paste into your OneDrive folder (in Explorer; paste it into the OneDrive\Documents folder, for example).

  • … rename the original Signatures folder to something like Signatures.old

  • clip_image005Now, we need to create a Symbolic Link to make something that looks like a folder at the same location, but points elsewhere – start an elevated command prompt (on Windows 8 or 10, press WindowsKey-X then press A to start an admin command prompt).

  • Now create the symbolic link by entering the following as one line into the command window:
    mklink /d %appdata%\Microsoft\Signatures %userprofile%\OneDrive\Documents\Signatures
    (if you know your OneDrive folder is in a different place, then substitute the 2nd parameter for whatever is appropriate – maybe D:\OneDrive\Documents\Signatures, for example)

  • If you now go back to the %appdata%\microsoft location from the 1st step, you’ll see the Signatures folder clip_image006with a special icon showing that it represents a link rather than a real folder. Open it to check that your signature files – as stored in the OneDrive folder from earlier – are showing up in there as expected. Feel free to close the command window.

  • Now, on each other PC you want to synchronise with, go back to the first instruction and repeat, except that you don’t need to do the “copy to OneDrive bit” since your Signatures folder is already there – in other words, you create the Symbolic Link to the local replica of the OneDrive folder, and Outlook will think that the data is in its own appdata location.

  • Don’t worry if you get to the 2nd step on a destination PC and realise the Signatures folder doesn’t exist – it’s only created when you first set up a .sig