Browsing Posts in Microsoft

Our last regular Lunchinar talked about Windows 10 and how to prepare for it.  If you’re waxing nostalgic, here’s the online version:

 

Simplex-IT welcomes Microsoft (with Windows 10), the City of Hudson (with more fiber!) and the Malted Meeple (now with more…um…Meeple).

Ok, hopefully you’ve heard about our 8th annual picnic this month (Wednesday August 19th from 4:30-8pm).

(click here to RSVP)

And you know that we always put out some good food, play some strange games and show off some new technology.

This year we’re taking it a step further.  This year you can talk with:

Folks from the Microsoft Store in Beachwood will be joining us with a number of Windows devices (can you say xBox?) to show how the stuff all connects together.  Not dog and pony show, but you’ll get a chance to play with it yourself.

We’ll also be joined by the City of Hudson (not the whole city, not enough room) who will be on hand to talk about the new high-speed fiber initiative (which Simplex-IT has a role, no surprise I’m sure).  If you’re a business owner in Hudson (especially downtown) you’ll want this informal chance to ask questions.

Finally we’re outsourcing our games.  Our neighbors from down the street (The Malted Meeple) will be on hand with some quick games for those so inclined.

Let me stress:

  • No sales pitches
  • No strong arm tactics
  • You don’t have to play if you don’t want to
  • We won’t kick you out if you have an Apple tattoo.

We usually have about 60 or so people attending.  With the additional activities, here’s hoping we attract a lot more!

Invite your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, kids and that one guy who works down the hall from you.  He’s bored.

Of course this is free, like everything else we do here at Simplex-IT.

What is Office 365?

Click here to RSVP for the webinar on this topic on Thursday August 13th from 11-noon (eastern)

Office 365 is a subscription based service to the Office programs you know and love. It’s kept up to date automatically, so there’s no software for you to purchase and install. Your subscription gives you access from up to 5 devices, so you can work from your computer, tablet, smartphone, whatever you need.

 

Office applications
There are a couple different ways to use the Office products with Office 365. You have Office Web Apps, which are basically web based versions of the familiar Office products, as well as the full versions. Office Web Apps have a lot of the same functionality, although not all. And of course you will still have the full versions of the Office products available to install on your computer.

 

Email
Office 365 keeps all your emails in sync across all your devices. It’s also easy to share calendars and view scheduling information for people within your organizations.

 

Instant Messaging
Office 365 comes with Skype for Business (Or Skype depending on the subscription you choose). You’ll have individual and group Instant Messaging capabilities, availability indicators, and calling information. Check out our webinar on Skype for Business for more information on these capabilities.

 

Video Conferencing
Skype for Business also offers individual or group video conferencing. It’s fully integrated with Outlook, so creating meetings with links to Skype calls can be done right from your Outlook client. And Skype for Business isn’t limited to people within your organization, you can also communicate with people outside your organization.

 

Collaboration
Share files and collaborate in real time from any device. Working on a presentation or document with a team? With Office 365 you can edit and track other edits easily in one shared file. Version control is easy because everything is in real time.

 

So which subscription do you need? That depends on if you need email, Office, or both. Below is a more detailed table of the subscriptions:

 

 

 

 

Interested in Office 365? Join us for August Office webinar where we’ll demonstrate some of the basic functionalities and discuss the various subscriptions available.

 

CommunicationsEffective Project Communications

Click here to RSVP for the webinar on this topic on Thursday August 20th from 2-2:30pm (eastern)

Communication is critical when working on a project, but how do we best gauge how much is enough? Too much? In person or in writing? By groups or individuals?  Routinely scheduled or ad hoc? The answer depends on the size and nature of the project, the preference of the team, and organizational requirements. And all of this is determined as you create your communication plan.

Your project communication plan can be as simple or complex as you need. It’s purpose is to document how various information within a project will be communicated. Some common methods of communication you’ll see in communication plans are:

Project Reports: Probably the most important communication, reports are usually listed specifically by name. You’ll also want to document the recipients, the sender, and the schedule of delivery. Oftentimes we’ll set variances for reports as well. For example, a standard budget report might suffice, unless the budget exceed 10% of the plan, then perhaps we would want to also include a detailed budget report, and escalate the recipients.

Meeting Notes: You’ll want to determine how to best distribute meeting notes. Options might include saving a document to a shared folder, sending and email, or making an entry in a SharePoint site.

Contact Information: If you are working with a diverse team, especially those outside your organization, it’s great to get everyone’s contact information in one place.

Meeting plan: I like to document a plan for scheduled meetings in my communication plan. I’ll list who should attend, the nature of the meeting, and the options for participation. For example:

Meeting Cadence Attendees Options for attending
Working level meetings Weekly or as needed TBD In person or phone
Status meetings Bi-weekly Resources with active and upcoming tasks In person or Skype call
Project review Monthly Entire project team In person

 

Go to resources: I also like to list resources that are specifically responsible for certain things that might impact my project. For example, who should we talk to if we need elevated access rights? What about after hours supports, is there anyone available for that?

I typically like to have some conversations during the beginning of the project to determine what would work best, and then go over that plan before the project starts (or during if need be). Your communication plan doesn’t have to be formal. It’s purpose is to help document who needs to know what and when. Sometimes it’s as simple as emailing meeting notes and providing a weekly report. And sometimes it’ll be more involved. The most important thing to remember about communication plans is to customize them to meet the needs of the project. You don’t want to over communicate – your team will start to ignore your emails if they receive 50 a day. But not communicating enough can impact the project. So have some conversations about communications needs and preferences and you’ll set yourself up for an effective, well informed project team.

Join us on August 20th for the Project Management webinar on Project Communications. We’ll look at some of the reports available in MS Project and Project Web App and discuss getting the right information to each person on the project team.

Our 8th Annual Picnic (now with Microsoft and…Meeples?)

Simplex-IT started in August 2007.  In 2008 we celebrated our new offices with a picnic.  And we haven’t looked back (except to see who’s been following us).

We just like to get together with folks and have a good relaxing time.  We usually have some technology out to play with, a couple of games…that sort of thing.  No big deal.

And we’re going to do this again…except different.  We’re bringing in some friends to help us celebrate.

RSVP by clicking here

First of all, Microsoft.  Some folks from the Microsoft Store up in Beachwood are going to bring some toys so we can show off “The Windows Experience.”  It’s hard to realize just the level of integration Microsoft is bringing with Windows 10 (including non-Microsoft devices) without seeing them together.

“Sooooo….is this going to be a Microsoft love-fest, where all is wonderful, and all that?” I hear you cry.

C’mon, you know us better than that.  We only talk the reality of stuff.

So maybe you don’t want to talk tech.  Ok, then.  Games.  Our new friends over at The Malted Meeple (just down the street from us) will be joining us and bringing some interesting games for the willing to try out.  As in board games.  Without consoles, joysticks, wifi or electricity.

Simplex-IT picnic 2013

Simplex-IT’s 6th Annual Community Appreciation Picnic

Don’t want to do that?  Cool.  Just relax, have some burgers and/or brats, and have a good time.

Join us Wednesday, August 19th from 4:30-8pm

RSVP by clicking here

Windows 10.  Let the hoopla begin.  July 29th is the release date.  Obviously Microsoft was looking for just the right way to celebrate “National Lasagna Day.”

And the upgrade will be free!  Well, free to a lot of people.  Windows 7, 8.1?  Yup.  Well, except for Enterprise users.  Unless you have Software Assurance.

And of course you need to Reserve your upgrade.

Does that include Windows Phone?  Well, of course.  If the phone OEM isn’t blocking it.  And depending on your carrier.

Are you the IT guy for your company?  It’d be kind of funny if you came in the next day to a lot of workstations upgrading to Windows 10.  Well, funny to us, anyway.

Join us for the last regularly scheduled Lunchinar for Simplex-IT.  Help us say goodbye to an era of bad jokes, ok pizza, decent giveaways and bad PowerPoint slides.

We’re not going to talk about Windows 10 (we’ve already had 2 lunchinars on that).  We’re going to talk about the process of getting Windows 10.

  • When:  Wednesday, July 15th
  • Time:  11:30-1pm (Eastern)
  • Where:  Courtyard by Marriott in Stow (or online)

Click here for more information and to RSVP

 

Access your files anywhere and with any device using OneDrive (webinar)

OneDrive is the free cloud based storage solution from Microsoft. It’s accessible from any device, and much easier than emailing files or using a flash drive. A lot of our devices don’t even have USB ports, and I’d always lose those things anyway.

RSVP for the webinar by clicking here

OneDrive comes with your Microsoft account, and you get 15GB of space. If you need more, you can purchase more – anywhere from 100GB for $1.99/month to 1 TB for $9.99 per month. In Windows 8 and later you can access OneDrive from the One Drive app tile.

OneDrive for Business comes with most Microsoft Office 365 accounts, and you get 1TB of space. It’s very similar in function to the personal OneDrive (in fact it gets downright confusing sometimes).

When you save something in OneDrive it gets stored “in the cloud” (namely servers belonging to Microsoft).  If you want to, you can install a client app that will also copy all the files locally (extremely handy).

To get started using OneDrive, just save a file to One Drive instead of your local computer. It’s as easy as selecting the OneDrive option from your list of locations. If you have many files on your local computer, you can either move or copy those to OneDrive. If you chose to make a copy for OneDrive, be sure not to get the versions mixed up. They’ll be named the same thing, so you’ll want to pay extra attention to the location in which you’re accessing them.

You can change the default location for saving files to OneDrive as well. In Settings, and PC Settings, you’ll see some options for OneDrive. Under “Save Documents to OneDrive by default”, select “On.” You can also control which folders are kept in sync as well. In settings, select the Chose Folders to select specific folders to sync and not to sync.

You can access OneDrive through Windows Explorer, where it can be configured just like any other storage location. And, you can create a folder hierarchy for file management, just like you would in your hard drive, or My Documents folders.

But is it secure??  We are always concerned about the security of our data, right? With OneDrive, your files are only accessible by you, unless you choose to share them. To keep safe from hackers, be sure to use a very strong password and add security information to your Microsoft account, such as your phone number, email address and a security question.

There are apps for Android, Apple, and Windows devices too. Just install the appropriate one on each device you wish to use OneDrive with. It’s handy to have the ability to work on file at the office, and then pick back up from your tablet at home or on the go when you want to make changes.

Are there problems with OneDrive?  Yup.  Uploading large numbers of files can corrupt your local copy, plus there are some limitation.

Interested in seeing OneDrive in action? Join us on July 9th  from 11-12 for this month’s Office Webinar, where we’ll demonstrate OneDrive and talk in more detail about the benefits and capabilities.  We’ll also be giving away a copy of Microsoft Office 365 courtesy of Microsoft.

 RSVP for the webinar by clicking here

Microsoft Project is really great for managing one project schedule, but what happens when you have more than one project to manage? Sure, you can view the project indivually, but did you know Microsoft Project Online has views to show consolidate project information? Sorted, grouped, sliced and diced however you’d like!

Click here to RSVP for the webinar

Project Online is a cloud based solution, similar to Microsoft Project Server (the on premise solution). It’s designed to help you manage multiple projects, resources, budgets, etc and get an overview view of all your projects.

You can still start off by creating a project in MS Project or Project Online. Project Online has the capability to create new project schedules, so if you don’t have the full version of MS Project, it’s no problem. Think of it as a scaled down, web based version of MS Project. It has the basics to get you by, but if you’re doing a lot of schedule development, you’ll want MS Project Professional.

Once you have your Project schedules created, you can view their status on your main Project Online page, called Project Center (shown below).

 

 

 

You can also process task status updates from your resources in one place. So if you are managing several projects, you have one central screen to accept and reject all status updates.

 

 

 

 

Remember our PM topic last month, Risk Management? Using Project Online, you can manage risks (and issues) in multiple projects.

 

 

 

 

One of the key metrics we want to track when managing multiple projects, are resources, right? Resource availability and utilization to be exact, across all projects. Using Project Online, you can clearly view and report on project resources quickly and easily. One the mage below, I’ve collapsed Bob’s project so it shows a summary, and I’ve expanded my tasks so it shows all the detail.

 

 

 

 

 

The Resource Availability graph is also great – It has four options for viewing Resource information:

  1. Assignment Work by Resource
  2. Assignment Work by Project
  3. Remaining Availability
  4. Work

Below I’ve selected the third option, Remaining Availability:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s very clear which one of us has availability in this demonstration :-)

If you’re interested in diving deeper into managing multiple projects, please join on July 16th for this month’s Project Management Webinar. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to win a free copy of Microsoft Office 2013!

Click here to RSVP for the webinar

 

MicrosoftDeals on various Microsoft products expire on June 30th!

Microsoft’s fiscal year ends on June 30th.  Because of this, Microsoft always has promotions and deals for their licensing that expires on June 30th.  This year is no exception.

Offers on:

  • Office 365
  • Project Online
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft Licensing
  • Migration Costs
  • Open Value Subscription
  • Software Assurance

These offers differ from product line to product line, but they usually end up somewhere between 10-30% off what you would pay throughout the rest of the year.  And many of these offers are limited to only if you purchase the product through a Microsoft Partner (that would be someone like us).

Also, Microsoft has quietly announced that some products will actually see a price increase after June 30th.

So…act now, save money.  Wait until after, price increase.

Interested?

Click us at Sales@Simplex-IT.com, or call us at 234.380.1277.  And you know we don’t do the whole high-pressure approach.  We’ll help you determine the product and licensing plan that’s best for you and your organization (even if it’s not with us).

For June’s Lunchinar we’re going to do a business level introduction to Microsoft’s cloud service, Azure.

Although we’ll go into the technical details (to a point), the key focus is going to be how Azure can be used by Small to Medium Businesses (SMB’s).  We’ll discuss Azure in terms as an alternative to traditional Information Technology (IT) solutions (like servers).  But we’ll also discuss how Azure can be used to extend how SMB’s extend their IT resources to vendors, customers and external employees.  And Azure does this at a fraction of the cost of in-house solutions (usually).

But what is it?  Actually, it’s changing weekly.  Microsoft has created a remote environment that can be configured as servers (so it’s kind of like you having a server, but “out there”), or services (so you don’t have the server, just what you use the server for).  You can use Azure for Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery/Off Site Backups.  You can use it for distributed databases, remote connectivity and more.  You can create a Single Sign On environment based on your Active Directory (network) credentials.  And a lot more.

And you pay only for what you eat.  Increasing or decreasing the amount of resources you need is relatively easy.  So if you’re a seasonal company you can arrange to have beefier (more $) resources available during the busy season, and smaller (less $) resources during the rest of the year.

But there are tradeoffs.  Connectivity speed, full server level access become potential issues.  Security requirements need to be taken into account (well, they should be already, but you lose the luxury of being Pollyannaish about it).

Join us at this upcoming Lunchinar.  We’ll be both in person as well as online.  And we’ll discuss (and demonstrate) this environment, talk both features, functions, benefits, drawbacks and costs.  And one lucky attendee will pick up a copy of Microsoft Office Professional 2013, courtesy of Microsoft.

  • When:  Wednesday, June 17th from 11:30-1pm (eastern)
  • Where:  Hampton Inn in Stow (plus Online)
  • Click here to RSVP

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At Simplex-IT, we specialize in sharing our knowledge with several free webinar and Lunchinar events each month on topics such as Microsoft Office, Project Management and Data Practices.  Contact us at Info@Simplex-IT.com, Twitter (Simplex_IT), LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/company/simplex-it) or FaceBook: (http://www.facebook.com/simplex.it).  You can also check out our YouTube channel with over 100 videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/SimplexITBob