Oct 20
Blog moved to

​I've moved my blog to, onto a WordPress platform. WordPress helps me reach more people and connects effectively with other social networks.

I keep this site running, so show what can be acheived with the SharePoint Online public site.

For my current blog posts, opinions, how-to's and tips, visit

Aug 21
Lync Tip 366 | Remind yourself to get back to that person

You know, the person who you should have responded to a while ago.  

The person who when you get to the end of the day you remember that you were going to call them or respond to their email. 

Prompt yourself to get back to this person with a gentle but persistent reminder. Even better than a nagging task alert or calendar reminder in Outlook. When this reminder appears, you know you'll they are available to respond to.  

Have you guessed it yet? 

Tag for Status Change Alerts 


Every time that person is available, Lync will tell you. What's more, when their face pops up in the bottom right-hand corner of your desktop, it's a motivator. They are only a click away.   

At this point, you have no excuse... send them a short IM. "Have you got a minute?" 


- Darrell Webster | | @DarrellCWebster 

Aug 12
Outlook Reading Pane In-line Reply and Signatures

​A new feature in Outlook 2013 lets you can reply to messages, 'in-line' from the Reading Pane. Instead of opening a reply to an email in a separate window, your reply is crafted within the Reading Pane. Personally, I like this feature because it helps me reduce the number of windows I have open on my desktop. If I need to open my reply in a separate window, I use  the Pop-Out button. But some people find Reading Pane in-line replies, a pain.


Make your replies open in a new window every time by clicking through File > Options > Mail > Replies and Forwards > select Open replies and forwards in a new window.


Quick Access Signatures

For those of you who want to keep using the Reading Pane in-line reply, here's a tip to make adding your signature more accessible.  I like to use keyboard shortcuts a lot. I touch type, so with my fingers already on the keyboard, it's often faster to use shortcuts than it is to use a mouse. While the Ribbon menu is useful for mouse and tablet, it often adds a few extra steps to keyboard shortcuts. 

Adding a signature while crafting an email are the keystrokes Alt - E - A -S. What if it was just Alt - number?


Add Signatures to your Quick Access tool bar

File > Options

  1. Quick Access Toolbar
  2. Choose Commands from: Compose Tools | Message Tab
  3. Signature
  4. Add
  5. Change the order


The order of the buttons determines which number you will use as the shortcut.  I like to put the Signature button in third position.


Now your list of signatures are available with the keystrokes Alt - number (in my case, 3.)


- Darrell Webster | | @DarrellCWebster 

Aug 08
Is Persistent Chat coming to Lync Online?

While helping out a client, I was looking at the Lync configuration information and noticed something new.
I opened Lync configuration using Ctrl+Right mouse click over the Lync icon in the system tray.

I noticed some URL's for pChat Room management. This must be for Persistent Chat. Persistent Chat is topic-based discussion rooms that persist over time.  I've floated the idea that Lync meetings could make use of this feature, spilling over from an online meeting to continue chat after the meeting has finished. 

Does this mean Persistent Chat is coming to Lync Online?
From the configuration, it looks to be currently disabled. But maybe the infrastructure is there, just waiting to be activated with a new release of an Office 365 feature.

Waiting and seeing...


- Darrell Webster | | @DarrellCWebster 

Aug 07
Chrome and Firefox display stored passwords easily

After reading Chrome’s insane password security strategy,  a blog post by @ElliottKember, a colleague of mine said Firefox also lets the user show their passwords in plain text. It's as simple as going into the settings of Chrome and Firefox and using the show password button. 

Internet Explorer stores saved passwords in Windows Credential Manager, where the passwords are not visible, but can be edited if a password is changed.

How do you prevent someone borrowing your computer, from seeing your passwords? Create a guest account on your computer. If someone wants to borrow it, sign them into the guest account.
Simple solution.

Setup a Guest account

Windows -

Mac -

Switching User Accounts

Windows -

Mac -

Aug 02
Lync and tablets as wireless presentation devices
LyncTabletWirelessPresentation.jpgDid you know you can do this with Lync?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I was reminded of the idea when I attended the Office 365 IUG. Sean McNeil talked briefly about Miracast, a peer-to-peer wireless screencast technology used to send HD video and audio to supported display devices. It will be available in Windows 8.1.

If you can’t wait for Miracast and you have Lync available to you, try the following.

  1. Plug a computer or notebook into the display cable for your projector – nothing new here.  We’ll call this the projector computer.
  2. On your tablet, start an IM conversation or start a Meet Now and invite the person logged into the projector computer.
  3. Still on your tablet, share your desktop. Accept the desktop sharing invite from the projector computer.
  4. On the projector computer, full screen the shared desktop and use the scaling button to see the whole tablet desktop.
  5. Now use your tablet to wirelessly present, mark up PowerPoint slides, use OneNote as a whiteboard. You are free to present and wander the stage, illustrate your point using the tablet, while remaining engaged with the audience.


  • If you share your desktop using Meet Now, you can record your presentation using Lync and invite others to attend you meeting online.  However, the shared desktop needs to be transmitted back to the Lync server, which may impact the display of the inking and animation.
  • If you share your desktop from an IM, then the sharing is between the two Lync clients over the local network. It doesn’t have to transmit back to the Lync server.

The video demonstrates the setup process and some of the things you can do while you present wirelessly.
I used a Surface Pro as the tablet and an HP notebook connected to a projector via VGA cable.

I apologize for the quality of the video, exposure and focus.


- Darrell Webster | | @DarrellCWebster 

Aug 02
Using Remote Desktop from iPad or Surface RT – What’s the Diff?
iPadSurfaceRemoteDesktop.jpgThe NZ Herald’s Mac Planet recently wrote about “Banking on iDevices“.  The article heralded what a great job ASB bank had done, providing their staff with iPads to work from, in their deskless environment at the new building near the Viaduct Basin. 1500 iDevices were issued, a third of them were iPads. If iPad users wanted to use Microsoft Office software, they would use a Remote Desktop app to access the applications in a Remote Desktop Services environment.

That’s a logical work around. If the iPad can’t do what you need it to do, Remote Desktop into a Microsoft Windows environment to overcome the iPad shortcomings as a corporate device.

Fantastic, well done. Praise iPad…

Hang on.

If it’s good enough for an iPad to use Remote Desktop, it’s also good enough for the Surface RT.
I use the Remote Desktop app for Windows 8 and it works very well. It responds well to touch, placing the cursor where I want to type, selecting icons and buttons as well as if it were a mouse, dragging a page to scroll. For all intense purposes, it’s as if I was using my desktop computer at work, just on a smaller, portable screen.

But unlike the iPad, the Surface RT runs Office 2013 on the device (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote).  I don’t have to remote desktop into a computer/server to use it. I can work from documents stored locally or I can connect to them in cloud storage such as SkyDrive or SharePoint Online/Office 365. I can take plenty of notes and sync them using OneNote, accessing them from other devices and from a browser if need be. I’m using Windows 8.1 Preview, so I also use Outlook 2013 for email.
Most of my ‘apps’ are browser based and there are an increasing number of apps useful for business, available in the Windows 8 App store.
Battery life is great, the keyboard cover is smart and convenient.  I could go on… and on…

If Remote Desktop is good enough for iPad users at one of New Zealand’s largest banks, then it’s good enough for the Surface RT.

I think the Surface RT is a more capable, light-duty corporate device and Remote Desktop fills the gap to run other Windows applications.

- Darrell Webster | | @DarrellCWebster 

Jul 15
Lync meetings - Show IM and Participant panes

I attend a lot of Lync meetings. The latest Office 2013 update delivered a feature for Lync 2013 client that will be useful.

When you join a Lync meeting, the Lync client focuses on the content being ​shared. But like many others, I like to see who is attending the meeting and I also open up the IM pane so I can see the message list.

The update to Lync adds a new setting.

When I join Lync meetings

  • Show IM
  • Show the participant list


Turn these settings on and each Lync meeting you join, IM and participant panes will be displayed.

- Darrell Webster |  | @DarrellCWebster

Jul 11
Co-Authoring and Synced Documents

CoAuthSync_feat.jpgCo-Authoring is one of those great but forgotten SharePoint features. More often than not, colleagues bump into each other, exclaiming "oh, there's another user working on this document with me. I forgot Word could do that". Yet once you've experienced the usefulness of co-authoring, it's on the forefront of your mind when 2 or more team members begin to work on a document together.

 I've found that when working with documents that are synchronized to your desktop, you need to an additional step to make sure you are co-authoring.


SharePoint Beginners, continue reading. Everyone else… jump to the point.


There are some important concepts to understand about co-authoring and documents located in SharePoint. Some of these concepts will be familiar to readers already.


When a document is opened, an application like Microsoft Word remains "connected" to the location of the file.

  • If the file was opened from your computer, the application will remain connected to the file on your computer.
    Changes will be saved and refreshed back to the local computer copy on your hard drive (or file server).
  • If the file was opened from the SharePoint website, the application will remain connected to the file in SharePoint.
    Changes will be saved and refreshed back to the SharePoint copy.

A computer or file server will only let one person open a document to edit. Subsequent people will be allowed to open a read-only copy and may choose an option to be alerted when the document is closed by the first person, making it available for editing.


Document Libraries, Versioning and Check In/Out.

SharePoint stores documents in containers that are appropriately called Libraries. 

Document libraries can be set to:

  • Keep multiple versions of documents for comparison and control purposes;
  • Require a person to Check Out a document before they start editing it, in the same way you check a book out of a library to reserve your own copy to read.

To be able to co-author a document, the document library needs to have versioning and check out/in turned off. A document stored in a SharePoint document library can be accessed concurrently by up to 100 people. This can be done either by opening the document in the browser using Office Web Apps, or opening the document on your desktop using a compatible edition of Microsoft Office.

So to co-author a document, each person needs to open the document from the same location, SharePoint. 


Co-authoring and Synced documents

Document libraries can be synced to your desktop using SkyDrive Pro syncing software. Open a document locally on your computer and changes are saved and synchronized back to the document library in SharePoint.

What happens when two or more people open the synced document and save changes? There is possibility for version differences and upload problems to resolve.

So why wont a synced document slip into co-authoring mode and simply let many people access and change it? Return with me to the concept I introduced earlier.

When a document is opened, an application like Microsoft Word remains "connected" to the location of the file.

Where is the synced document located? Locally on your computer. That's the point of syncing. However, you're not opening the master copy located in SharePoint.

To co-author, you need to open the document from SharePoint.



SkyDrive Pro syncing software is integrated with Windows File Explorer. To open the document in SharePoint.

  1. Locate the document in SkyDrive Pro (in File Explorer)


  2. Right-click the document and choose Copy Link


  3. Paste the link into the address box of File Explorer and hit enter to launch the document in Office Web App.


  4. From here, choose to Edit the Document on using Office on your desktop.


It's a round-about way of opening the document from SharePoint.

I think that SkyDrive Pro syncing software's right-click (context) menu could do with an additional choice.

Open SharePoint copy, Open from SharePoint or Co-Author.


- Darrell Webster |  | @DarrellCWebster



  • Co-Authoring is supported in Word and PowerPoint documents when the document is opened directly from SharePoint. Only the changes are saved directly to the document stored in SharePoint.
  • When a Word or PowerPoint document is synchronized locally using SkyDrive Pro software, changes are saved to the local copy of the document and the whole document is queued up and synced to SharePoint.
    Conflicts can occur.
  • OneNote Co-Authoring is different in that when you work on a notebook locally from your computer, the OneNote program manages the syncing.
Jun 28
Windows 8.1 Preview - Easy there Tiger


It's like they said, "This preview is mainly for experienced PC users, so if you're not sure whether it’s right for you, read the FAQ".

IT Pro's, go ahead and get familiar. But if you are not confident with backing up Windows 8 and restoring it, you may be painting yourself into a corner.  Note the following from

If you are currently running…

Going to…

This will migrate:

Windows 8

Windows 8.1 Preview

All data, settings, and applications

Windows 8

Windows 8.1 final release

All data, settings, and applications

Windows 8.1 Preview

Windows 8.1 final release

Only data


If you try Windows 8.1 Preview now and later install Windows 8.1 when it is finally released, only your data will be migrated. At a minimum, that may mean your data will be copied to a Windows.Old folder and you'll have a blank Windows 8.1 machine.  You'll need to reinstall applications, reconfigure settings and perhaps restore migrated data to previous locations.

To those who don't like asking for directions when they're lost or reading instructions, please spend a few moments reading the Windows 8.1 Preview FAQ's.  And if you haven't already done so, get familiar with backing up Windows 8 by using methods like creating a USB recovery drive.

And now for something completely different...

Opinion: Start Button, schmart button. I didn't miss it. It was hiding there all along anyway, like the sub titles button on a remote that I occasionally bump and turn on accidentally.
> A virtual chocolate fish for the first person to find out how to hide the Start Button in 8.1.  Post your creative "hiding methods" to me on Twitter

- Darrell Webster |  | @DarrellCWebster

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