Office 365 utilises Azure Intelligent Services for a number of features including dictation, designer and smart lookup. One of the features we love is the automatic alt-text generation when you insert a picture into an Office document.
We are strong advocates that accessibility is not just important to users who need these features; everyone who creates content should be making it accessible.
A picture tells a thousand words but when a screen reader is parsing a document it will read out the alt-text for an image. If there’s no alt-text then you’ll just hear something along the lines of ‘picture’. Not very helpful. It’s been possible to manually enter the alt-text of course and this is very helpful in online content for search engine optimisation.
Intelligent services can automatically generate the alt-text for you based on the image contents. If you are dealing with sensitive images, this feature can be turned off in options as it does require information being sent to Microsoft.
Let’s insert an online image into a document to see how it performs.
For blatant blog-promotion SEO purposes I’m going to search for an online image of the royal wedding. Megan Markle Prince Harry Royal Wedding Windsor Castle. That should raise us at least one place in search results.
When I insert the fourth image, intelligent services analyses it and generates an alt-text tag for me. In this case, it’s accurate but not quite hitting the spot of wedding dress and it certainly doesn’t even try to achieve facial recognition; we know that’s a minefield. This result is far better than leaving alt-text empty though.
So you’ll get mixed results. Insert the third image and you’ll get an amusing result of “A picture containing dancer, indoor, sport, red” when clearly the image is all about the military and boys in culottes.
Now, we’ll try a business image and search for Donald Trump. I can feel our SEO going up.
The alt-text is accurate but again, no face recognition. Last example to see if there’s some Microsoft bias. I inserted the Microsoft logo.
No alt-text was generated but there’s a button in the image option alt-text panel which you can click to generate some. If you need to use this button, the image was typically not obvious enough for intelligent services to work out straight away so the confidence level will be lower.
Our result? A drawing of a face. Perhaps Bill Gates’ face is in the logo subliminally.
It’s common to have recurring meetings in our Outlook calendars. If the unexpected happens, such as snow or disruption on the trains (not so unexpected), it can be useful to change one of the meeting occurrences to a virtual meeting or a hybrid meeting where some staff are present in the same room and others can dial-in.
Outlook doesn’t provide the option of changing a single occurrence to a Skype for Business meeting however so here’s how to solve it.
If you double-click a meeting entry in calendar and select ‘Just this one’ to edit only this occurrence (below)
You will not be offered the Skype Meeting command on the ribbon (below). Note we have the Teams Meeting option because we have the Teams app installed alongside Skype for Business; you may not see Teams. We’ll be blogging about Teams and it’s relationship to Skype for Business at a later date. Note the ribbon tab showing we are editing the Appointment Occurrence.
If we had chosen to edit the entire series, we will see the Skype Meeting option in the ribbon. Note the ribbon tab showing we are editing the Appointment Series.
Outlook is being helpful here because if you edit a single meeting in a series, it will break the recurrence. In this instance, that’s exactly what we want to do though.
To overcome this, we can add the Skype Meeting command to the meeting Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) by right-clicking the command and selecting Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
The next time we edit a single instance of a meeting, we can click the Skype Meeting icon on the QAT to add-in the virtual meeting options.
When we save the updated meeting, our calendar shows we have broken the recurrence with the icon in the bottom right of the meeting block. But at least our colleagues stuck in some rain-soaked train station can still dial-in and take part in the meeting.
Using Tags in OneNote can be an effective way to fight against information overload. One of OneNote’s most powerful, yet underutilised features is tagging. Tags help you extract and organise data across notebooks. Every note or item marked with a particular tag will show up in the search results when you search for that tag. A summary can also be created to pull out and group all tagged items. This can be extremely useful when making a to-do list or focus on particular information.
To use tags:
Click on the Home ribbon
In the Tags group, click the drop-down arrow to see a list of the built-in tags
NOTE: Custom tags can also be created in this section
Use tags to organise your data. For example, you could mark important items with the ‘Important’ tag, To-do items with the ‘To Do’ tag or questions with the ‘Question’ tag and so on. Keyboard short-cuts can be used to tag items faster. You can apply more than one tag to an item.
Click the Find Tag button
By default, all tagged items will show grouped by tag name. You can also change the search options to include the current section, the current notebook or even all of your existing notebooks.
Click Create Summary Page
A new page will be created in your notebook that contains all of the tagged items organised in to groups. This is a great way of creating to-do lists and organising your data more efficiently.
Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) face a complex and changing landscape when it comes to understanding all of the different ways new technologies can help their businesses.
Many Microsoft partners are capitalising on the opportunity to grow their businesses by expanding their roles to that of a trusted advisor and business consultant — looking for ways to help SMBs modernise across the IT platform.
Microsoft is focused on helping you deliver solutions that address your customers’ key goals and business challenges. So you can use technology to help make them be more successful, whether by improving operational efficiency, protecting data, helping employees be more productive, or better connecting with customers. In fact, only Microsoft offers a complete platform with the flexibility to deliver the solutions your customer’s need, from server to cloud, desktop to mobile devices.
ModernBiz Technical Series
The ModernBiz Technical Series provides training, demonstrations and hands-on instruction on how to use the latest Microsoft technologies to deliver solutions to SMB organisations. This set of training courses is designed to prepare Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners to help customers get the benefits of the modern business by providing solutions and services that span the entire IT ecosystem, from server, to cloud, to devices.
In this training, you will:
Get hands-on experience: With a focus on building real-world solutions, this training consists of presentations, demos, and hands-on labs.
Get the skills you need to build real-world SMB solutions: This technical series is designed specifically for partners working with SMB customers to build solutions using the latest products and technologies from Microsoft.
Any of the ModernBiz Technical Series courses can be attended as a standalone course or as a part of the complete series.
Who should participate: The ModernBiz Technical Series course is for Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners who work with small and midsize organisations. The training is designed for those who are ready to learn more about meeting the technical needs of SMBs with Microsoft solutions.
Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers
Level: 200 (Technical) This training aligns to the Microsoft ModernBiz campaign for SMB partners.
There are free one or two day courses for each of these key technology areas.
These courses are designed to help you migrate customers off legacy infrastructure and get the most out of their technology. Example topics are Windows Server 2012 on-premises, Azure infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Windows 10, Office 365, and Azure.
Grow Efficiently Track 1 is designed to teach you how to migrate SMB customers off of legacy infrastructure to either Windows Server 2012 on-premises or Azure IaaS
Track 2 covers how to migrate SMB customers to Windows 10 and get started with Office 365
Track 3 teaches how to integrate on-premises infrastructure with Microsoft Azure
Safeguard Your Business
In this track, learn how to use the latest Microsoft technologies to deliver solutions that help SMBs protect company information and improve business continuity. Modules in this track include Azure Backup and ASR, Securing Windows 10, Data Loss Prevention in Office 365, eDiscovery and Archiving in Office 365, and Office 365 and Azure AD Premium RMS.
Connect with Customers
These training modules cover Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online as well as Office 365 collaborative services.
Track 1 is devoted to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, including Introduction to CRM Online, CRM Online Integration with Office 365, and CRM Online Integration with Power BI
Track 2 teaches how to implement Office 365 collaborative services and business intelligence to solve business problems. Example modules include Modern Collaboration, SQL Server 2014 Data Platform, Azure Relational Database Services, Creating and Exploring a Power BI Dashboard, and Reporting from On-premises Analysis Services with Power BI.
Here, you’ll learn how to enable SMBs to work from anywhere on any device. Topics include Windows 10 Management (with IE 11 and Edge); Mobile Device and Identity Management with Intune, EMS, and Office 365; Remote Desktop Service and Azure Remote App; Deploying Office 365 ProPlus; Skype for Business Conferencing; and Securing Windows 10.
Imageframe are pleased to be running many of these courses so come along and say hi!
In the Office 365 Exchange Admin Centre there are several default apps that can be turned on in Outlook by your administrator such as Action Items, Bing Maps, Suggested Meetingsor Unsubscribe. These apps can help to streamline your daily workflow and save you time.
All emails received into your inbox will be scanned. If Outlook notices anything that needs to be ‘actioned’ it will flag these items to you in the form of buttons above the reading pane.
In the following example, Outlook has picked up and flagged an address and an item that needs to be actioned.
Click on Bing Maps to see the exact location of the address.
Click on Action Items to see what items need to be actioned. In this example, Outlook has picked up that the sender has asked me to download a form from the files library. It has flagged this with a suggested action of adding it into my tasks lists for follow-up.
So next time you receive an email, take a glance at the bar above the reading pane for Bing Maps, Action Items, Suggested Meetings etc. These can be really helpful and time saving little apps!
How do good trainers run great training sessions that are inspiring for different types of attendee?
As far back as I can remember I have been made to feel somewhat guilty about my introverted personality. I was that child that preferred spending the summer holidays inside reading a book, drawing or making a fabulous princess palace out of old cardboard boxes and toilet rolls. Most of my friends would be outside on their bikes or up the hills playing games but for me, it was never as appealing. I think my parents found this somewhat unusual and I was always gently encouraged to go outside and play. Sometimes I did, but all the time longing to get back inside doing something creative on my own.
As an only child I grew up enjoying solitude and seeking out activities that I could do on my own or with one other trusted person. I always felt different to others. I didn’t really understand when I was younger why I didn’t enjoy being around lots of people or partaking in social activities. I felt weird. I felt that there was something wrong with me. If this rings true for you, then you are not weird, you are an introvert.
So what is the difference between an introvert and an extrovert? It relates to where you gain your energy. It was the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung that popularised this definition. Extroverts feel energised and most alive being around people and feeding off others whereas introverts get their energy from within themselves. An introvert needs solitude like most people need oxygen.
As an introvert I can tell you that if I have to spend a number of hours in a social situation, particularly with people I do not know I feel totally drained at the end of the day. My batteries are flat. I find that people tend to drain the energy out of me and I usually cannot wait to get back home and recharge. Now that makes me sound completely anti-social and a bit of a people hater. I am not. I do enjoy the company of others but it does tire me out. And this is the problem that introverts encounter on a daily basis.
All of our institutions, be it schools or the workplace are setup to cater to extroverts. The gregarious qualities of an extrovert are prized more highly than the contemplative qualities of an introvert in today’s society. It’s easy to understand why this is but let’s look at a scenario.
Richard and Daisy are both going for a job interview. They both have excellent skills and qualifications on paper. Richard walks into the interview and confidently speaks about his achievements. He oozes charisma. He has fabulous anecdotes. He’s social, gregarious, a go-getter and real man of action! Daisy follows him. She has a quiet confidence, she pauses in deep thought before each answer. She has amazing, well thought out and creative ideas but seems shy and reserved. She indicates that she works best on solo projects as this is how her creativity flourishes. As an employer, who would you hire? I am guessing probably Richard. Why? He fits the mould of the modern office environment. However, sometimes the quiet people have the loudest minds.
Introverts make up 1/3 of the population and in general this personality type is misunderstood. Introverts are not shy. Introverts do not lack confidence. This is the most common misconception. Type Introverts into a Word document and hit Shift+F7 to see what I mean.
I am an introvert and I do a very extroverted job. I am a trainer, which means I stand in front of large groups of people and speak. If I lacked confidence or was shy, I would find it very difficult to do the job I do. That’s not to say that I do not find my job challenging. Being in the spotlight is not something that comes naturally to me. I’ve had to work at it. A lot of trainers I know are extroverts. They are comfortable running a training session with very little preparation and to a certain extent ‘winging it’. I’m not accusing them of running bad sessions or not caring as much, they are just more able to absorb the unexpected and run with it.
That’s not me. I plan, I research, I think about all the things that could go wrong in advance and try to counter them, I prepare, I practice, all so that my time ‘in the spotlight’ runs smoothly. It is this that enables me as an introvert to do an extroverts job. It’s my process that enables me to feel comfortable. It is very frustrating for an introvert when someone tries to change your process or doesn’t understand your need for meticulous planning.
This leads us into talking a little bit about training sessions and how, as a trainer, you can execute an interactive training session that is conducive for both introverts and extroverts.
Let’s briefly go back to talking about schools. Schools these days are setup in a way that caters to extroverts. Students sit on large round tables, facing each other and are encouraged to partake in countless group activities. The idea being to encourage interaction, learn how to work in a team and share ideas. I am not saying this is a bad thing. Young people do need to learn these skills. But what about the introverted child in that classroom? The child that is uncomfortable working in large groups. The child who prefers to reflect on a subject quietly before sharing his or her idea. The child that is often labelled as anti-social or difficult. Forcing introverts to work like extroverts is counter-productive and only serves to alienate that child from the group.
This is similar in an adult learning environment. Most trainers use a technique at the start of training sessions to ascertain the different learning styles and personality types of their students. It’s called an ‘Ice Breaker’ and usually involves some kind of activity or exercise. I use Ice Breakers to sort out the introverts from the extroverts. Many trainers I have met are very focused on the interactive element of training sessions. Group activities, high energy exercises, getting the students to voice their opinions, ask questions etc. I agree that these are important parts of training in order to keep participants engaged and interested. However, I would encourage all trainers to think about the introverted participants who are sitting there dreading the next group exercise or next question that puts them on the spot. Often, the fear of what is coming distracts them from their learning.
Susan Cain did an amazing Ted Talk on the ‘Power of introverts’ and I think this quote is very true. ‘Stop the madness for constant group work!!’ Think about alternative methods that will allow extroverts and introverts to flourish equally. Instead of large, boisterous group activities, pepper your sessions with solo exercises or brain training activities. Instead of large group work, stick to partner work. If you need to do an exercise in a large group, make it a more relaxed ‘Café style’ workshop where you start a discussion with the group during a coffee break. This is immediately more relaxed and informal. Students can participate as much or as little as they like with no pressure. Try not to fire questions at a student that appears to be quiet and not interacting as much. They are probably listening intently and processing.
Introverts hold so much power that is overlooked. They tend to be more effective than their extroverted counterparts, statistically more intelligent and oddly better leaders as they don’t dominate others and are more inclined to let individual ideas flourish. Introverts are creative. They are imaginative. They are deep thinkers. They are invaluable to this world. Where would we be without the likes of Einstein, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parkes or Bill Gates? All introverts who changed the world.
Employers are slowly starting to understand this concept. Our workplaces are changing and becoming more flexible. Employers are introducing different ways of working and home working is on the rise. There is a mini revolution going on at the moment confirmed by the amount of blogs and articles popping up all over the web on this subject. Let’s embrace everyone, introverts, extroverts and all those that are in between and recognise the supreme benefit of letting individuals work within their natural personality type.
And whatever personality type you are, you’re more than welcome on our courses.
As it’s Guy Fawkes Night this week and everyone is getting excited at the prospect of sparklers, amazing fireworks and toasting marshmallows on an open fire, we thought we would dedicate this week’s blog post to something new and exciting in the world of Microsoft!
If you are one of the many millions of people that have upgraded to Windows 10, you will probably be aware of Microsoft Edge already. If not then carry on reading and start living on the edge!
What is Microsoft Edge?
Microsoft Edge is your new browser for Windows 10. It’s a new way to surf the web! Microsoft Edge gives you new ways to find stuff, read and write. It’s the browser for doing stuff!
Click the icon to open Edge.
Searching from the address bar
No need to go to a website to search for pictures of cute kittens or funny memes, just type what you are searching for into the address bar and Edge will give you search suggestions, your browsing history and instant results right on the spot.
The Hub: Everything in one place
Think of the Hub as the place where Microsoft Edge keeps the things you collect on the web. Select Hubto view your favourites, reading list, browsing history, and current downloads.
Looking for your favourites? In the Hub, choose Favouritesand then select Import favourites.
Read without distractions
Turn on reading view to bring articles front and centre
NOTE: If the reading view icon is greyed out it means that the web page is not available in read mode.
Save articles to read later by adding them to your reading list. Click the star icon and select Reading Listand Add.
Write on the web
Add your own personal touch to web pages with Web Note.
Use the Pen, Highlighter or Type Tools to add your own ideas.
Save your notes to share with a friend or co-worker.
Get answers from Cortana
When you stumble across a topic on the web you’d like to know more about, Cortana is your ready and able, all-knowing guru. Highlight a word or phrase, press and hold (or right-click) it, then Ask Cortanato find out all about it.
Happy browsing and have a safe and enjoyable Guy Fawkes Night!
Conditional Formatting in Outlook is a really useful tool that allows you to customise how different messages appear in your inbox message list based on criteria that you set.
By default, conditional formatting makes unread messages appear in bold but you can add your own customisations also. For example, you may want messages that are just sent to you and no one else appear larger in your message list, or you may want message that are sent to you from your manager to appear in a different colour so they stand out. Both of these things can be done by applying conditional formatting.
Setting up Conditional Formatting
From your inbox:
Click on the Viewtab
In the Current View group, click View Settings
Click Conditional Formatting
Click Addto create a conditional formatting rule
Let’s look at an example. I want to create a formatting rule for mail that is sent only to me. I have named by rule ‘Only Me’.
Put a tick in the ‘When I Am’ box and specify ‘the only person on to To line’
Select how you wish these messages to appear. As these are important I have changed the font style, made it purple and bigger so they really stand out.
When I switch back to my inbox, I can now see the conditional formatting has been applied to my message list.
Another example would be setting conditional formatting for mails that come in from a specific person.
To do this, repeat the above steps but when you click Condition, enter the name of the person in the From field. Click OKand then set the formatting options through Font.
There are lots of options within conditional formatting so its worth taking a look at trying out different options to make your important mails really stand out from the others.
As its Halloween this weekend we thought we would dedicate this week’s blog post to something that people find particularly scary! Something that sends chills down your spine! OK, I am being a little dramatic but it is fair to say that when it comes to Excel, Formulas are the thing that tend to strike fear into the heart of most.
Fortunately, formulas have never been easier or more human in Excel which means you don’t have to be a mathematical genius to understand them. Today we are going to take a look at ‘Using VLOOKUP to extract data’, a really common and useful formula which will help you cross-reference spreadsheets and save a lot of time.
Using VLOOKUP to extract data
VLOOKUP is a great time saving formula.
Let’s set the scene…
In this spreadsheet, I have a table (Table 1) that lists Items in column C and their associated unique Item Number or ID in column A. When a customer orders an item, I log the Item Number and the Customer Name in a separate spreadsheet (Table 2). However, the Item Name is not listed. I am going to use VLOOKUP to quickly and easily reference the Item ID and pull back the Item Name.
STEP ONE: Name your lookup range
This step is optional. You do not have to name your lookup range but I find that this is the best way of ensuring that your data pulls through correctly and it means that you don’t have to mess around making cell references absolute (fixed).
Highlight the lookup table (the table that contains the data you are pulling through, in this case Table 1)
Click in the Namebox and type a name for your table i.e. PRODUCTS.
NOTE: It is worth noting that table name cannot have spaces. If I wanted to name it ‘PRODUCT KEY’ I would need to use the format ‘PRODUCTKEY’ or ‘PRODUCT_KEY’.
STEP TWO – Create the VLOOKUP Formula (the scary part)
Click in the cell where you want the value to appear (C12)
Click on the Formulasribbon
Click Insert Function
Enter the criteria into the fields
Lookup_value – The lookup value is the information that you want to reference. It is normally a piece of information that is in both tables. Excel needs a reference point and in this example we are using the Item ID.
Click the cell that contains the first Item ID (A12)
Table_array – The table array is the table Excel is referencing. Excel needs to know which table to find the Item ID. This is where naming your table in Step 1 comes in useful.
Any named tables will appear in a list. Select the table ‘PRODUCT’. If you did not name your table, you would need to highlight the cells instead.
Col_index_num – This is the column in the lookup table that contains the data you want to pull through. In our example, we need the ITEM NAME. This information is contained in Column 3.
Range_lookup – This field can be left blank or will contain the value ‘TRUE’ or ‘FALSE’. Which one you use depends on how your table is sorted and the data you want to pull through. If you have your tables sorted in Ascending order, you can leave this field blank or use TRUE. TRUE also searches for an exact match. In our example, my data is not sorted and so I need to enter FALSE. In my experience, most data that you are dealing with is not sorted nice and neatly and so FALSE is the more common value to go in here.
If the formula has been added correctly, you should now see the item name in cell C12. Excel has essentially looked in the lookup table for the Item ID and then pulled through the corresponding Item Name.
Once you have used the helpful dialogue box a few times and you are comfortable with the format, you can just type the formula into the cell. E.g. =VLOOKUP(C12,PRODUCTS,3,FALSE)
You could repeat the above steps to complete the rest of the table but that can be quite tedious especially if you are dealing with a lot of data. To quickly copy the formula down, you can use the AutoFill handle in the bottom right-hand corner.
Drag the handle down OR double-click on the handle
TIP: If you get an unexpected result when using the auto-fill handle, such as the wrong data being pulled through or the same Item Name repeated, it is worth checking that you do not have your Auto-fill settings set to manual.
Click the Formulasribbon
Click Calculation Options
Set to Automatic
So as you can see, Excel formulas do not have to be a scary prospect.
Do you forever find yourself running the same search over and over again in Outlook? Maybe you frequently have to search for emails from your manager that contain attachments?
Outlook has a really useful search feature that you can use to find your emails but wouldn’t you rather be able to find what you are looking for in one click? Creating Outlook Search Folders for your frequently searched for email items is a great way to cut down on the amount of time you spend searching for emails.
Click the Foldertab
Click New Search Folder
You can choose to select the items you would like to search for from the default list presented, i.e. if I want to create a search for all emails from my manager, I would select ‘Mail from and to specific people’and then select my managers name by clicking ‘Choose‘.
However, if you would like to create a folder that searches using multiple criteria you will need to create a Custom Search.
Scroll down in the list and select Create a Custom Search Folder
Add a name for your search folder
You can select criteria for your search from any of the three tabs. In this example, I want a search folder that quickly searches for all emails from David that contain attachments.
A new folder will be created under Search Folders in your folder list. Click on the folder to run the search.
I think you will agree it is worth taking the time to setup some search folders in your Outlook as it will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend searching for emails.