The Electric Wand

Thoughts of a technology enthusiast.

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  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #87 – Hello? Hello?? Can you hear me?

    There is an all-too common refrain which echoes around the open-plan offices of many a Microsoft location, following the receipt of an incoming call… “Hello? Hello..?” The joy of Unified Communications with Lync sometimes means that receiving a phone call isn’t always as straightforward as it could be...
  • Blog Post: Custom presence states in Office Communicator

    I just discovered how to modify presence states in Office Communicator 2007: it's documented in the Office Communicator Deployment Guide (page 21, if you're interested), and allows for either the managed deployment of Communicator with additional corporate-set presence states, or if a user is savvy enough...
  • Blog Post: Custom presence states in Communicator, reprise

    A quick follow on to my post the other day about having custom presence states in Office Communicator 2007 - the Communicator Deployment Guide has a couple of minor errors which could frustrate you, as one commenter pointed out, and I've had comments from a couple of people who've had trouble getting...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #121 - Networking with Lync

    This week, we have a semi-rehash of earlier tips ( #51 and #67 ), based on some investigation work that’s been done inside Microsoft’s own IT group. If you’re going to join a Lync call (especially if you’re using video or app sharing, using a Roundtable/Polycom CX5000 device etc), then best practice...
  • Blog Post: Voicemail sizes on Exchange 2007

    A question we get asked a lot is regarding the sizing of voice mail messages in Exchange 2007. If you're not familiar with the built-in voicemail capabilities, Exchange can function as a voice mail system (or Unified Messaging system, really - it's a way of unifying voice and inbound fax messages with...
  • Blog Post: Communicator phones sneaking out

    When Microsoft first announced the Unified Communications strategy & partnerships last year, one of the pictures that was shown off was of a prototype "Communicator phone" - a networked device which could be used to make phone calls through the Office Communications Server, and would show the presence...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft Roundtable transitions to Polycom

    Microsoft & Polycom announced yesterday that the Microsoft Roundtable conferencing device (used with Live Meeting or OCS 2007 to present a 360° view of the room to participants joining from elsewhere), will be replaced. Polycom are taking over the manufacturing and distribution of Roundtable and...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #113 – Add context to your Lync status

    One of the biggest cultural impacts of using Instant Messaging and UC technology in a business context is the way that people tend to check the status of someone before contacting them. It’s a relatively rare occurrence to get an internal phone call out of the blue if both parties are online: usually...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #17: Broadcast PPT to customers & partners

    Many Microsoft folks have experienced the joys of scheduling Live Meetings with customers and partners, where they get an email or meeting request with lots of links, asking them to install software on their PC before they try to join the meeting. How often do the attendees not manage to click the right...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #51 - Five Golden Rules for OCS & Lync

    A tip this week concerning best practices for using Enterprise Voice in OCS or Lync for making and receiving voice calls… Participating in OCS/Lync Calls: Use a wired* connection when you are on OCS/Lync calls. (Performance over WIFI will not be as good) Ensure you use an approved...
  • Blog Post: Identity & presence: the key to anyone's Unified Communications strategy

    I spend a lot of time talking with customers about what Microsoft is doing with various new technologies, mostly involving or revolving around the Unified Communications stuff with OCS and Exchange. It's really interesting to see how many people just "get" the point of UC technology, whereas others are...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #199 – Checking your home network speed

    As winter bites, as roadworks cause pandemonium , there may be a trend for staff to work at home more. Microsofties all know Lync powers the ability to effectively work and be contactable when you’re sitting in your shreddies in your home office. If you have a less than perfect broadband connection,...
  • Blog Post: OCS 2007 RTMs

    The title says it all really - Office Communications Server 2007 released to manufacturing on Friday. Mark posted about it then, so I guess it's official (though there's not much hoo-haa yet on Microsoft.com). It's getting pretty exciting with the use of desktop video (even though it's nothing new: we...
  • Blog Post: Exchange 2010 beta & high availability strategies

    Today, the Exchange team released details of Exchange 14, now to be known as Exchange Server 2010. [ download here ]. There’s plenty of new stuff in the box, but I’m just going to look at one: high availability & data replication. [My previous missives on Exchange 2007 HA are here , here and here...
  • Blog Post: Careful what names you give to Outlook Contacts when using UM!

    This is a follow up to Friday's post about what happens if you have Exchange Unified Messaging set up to send you notifications on missed call alerts (and on voicemail), using caller-ID to reverse lookup against the personal contacts folder. Stephen Spence commented: Fingers crossed nobody is using silly...
  • Blog Post: Living the dream with Office Communicator 2007

    I've been a long-time fan of instant messaging and pervasive "presence", especially the cultural changes it allows organisations to make in order to communicate and collaborate better. As a result, I've been really interested to see what's been happening with Office Communications Server (the soon-to...
  • Blog Post: I learned a cool thing about Exchange UM today

    I've seen this behaviour in practice before, but I don't think it really clicked with me until Neil May from PostCTI (who was hosting our penultimate Exchange Unplugged event today) told me how pleased he was with it. This functionality concerns the "missed call notification" feature of Exchange Unified...
  • Blog Post: Bulk update Outlook Contacts' phone numbers to be E.164 compliant

    Here's a quick & dirty tool I put together for Outlook to be able to update all the phone numbers of contacts to make them E.164 compliant. It relates back to a post a while back around the challenges of formatting numbers 'correctly', particularly important once you get into using click-to-dial...
  • Blog Post: When the weather outside is frightful…

    … the UC technology is soooo delightful. OK, it’s cheesy as you can get, but very true. The weather forecast on Sunday night was for heavy snow, and sure enough we awoke on Monday to about 4-6 inches of fresh snow – something that many countries would take in their stride, but in southern England, we...
  • Blog Post: OCS2007 trial edition now available

    If you want to get your hands on trial software for the recently-released Office Communications Server 2007 and its client, Office Communicator 2007 , then you're in luck... OCS trial download (both Standard & Enterprise editions) Communicator trial Bear in mind that these trials are for tyre-kicking...
  • Blog Post: Outlook 2010 beta and E.164 number format updater

    Well hello again; it’s been a while. Normal service should now infrequently resume. I thought I’d update the instructions of a previous post, after I was showing someone how to use my old “ Contacts updater ” application to make all their Outlook contact phone numbers be E.164 compliant. (see blogs passim...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #81 – I’m Late!

    We’ve all had that feeling when you just know you aren’t going to make it in time for your next meeting… You know, you’re in Building 1 and the meeting’s at the top of Building 5, or you’re stuck in traffic, or in another meeting that’s already running over and isn’t going to end any time soon..? Obviously...
  • Blog Post: Business continuity – it’s a people thing, not just a premises one

    I had a really interesting discussion with a customer last week, when we were musing over the effects that the snow had on UK businesses. It was another example – like the floods which have hit parts of the country over the last few years – of a threat to business continuity which it’s easy to overlook...
  • Blog Post: OCS Custom Status updates – another update

    Some time ago, I wrote on OCS custom status fields and how to implement them… Custom presence states in Office Communicator Custom presence states in Communicator, reprise Custom presence states in OCS – revisited again Well, security changes in the way Office Communicator...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #159 - Avoiding breakers on the side

    What’s that you say? A Breaker on the Side ? Well, Back in the late 1970s and early 80s, no self-respecting furry-dice-toter would be without their Chicken Box in their Roller Skate . The radio was channel-based, and though the users could agree to move a conversation onto a specific channel, there...