Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Using Microsoft Flow to Search Bing News and Post to Microsoft Teams

So continuing the theme of finding ways to use Microsoft Flow with Microsoft Teams for Microsoft Ignite, I've cooked up a flow that uses Azure Cognitive Services to Search Bing News for news related to Microsoft Ignite, Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams and then posts articles that match that criteria to a Microsoft Teams Channel.

One of the problems I had to solve is that by default, Microsoft Flow Bing News trigger for new news, triggers Azure Cognitive Services way too often! The plan I configured for Cognitive Services allowed 1000 hits a month and my original flow burned through that in less than a week. If I had a different plan that allowed overages, I quite possibly would have had quite a big bill. So, I set out to see if I could control how often my flow would look for new news. The secret was in using a somewhat hidden feature of timeout for a trigger.

Anyway... let me show you how to put all this together!

So before we do the flow, we need to create the Azure Cognitive Service for Bing Search.
Start by accessing the Azure Portal and click the "+" to create a new service. Then select AI + Cognitive Services and the click "Create" under Bing Search APIs

Give the service a name. I used "BingSearch" and then select the appropriate Subscription that you want to bill the service to. Under the Pricing Tier, I suggest that you select the $1 tier that limits you to 1000 calls per month. The other Tiers allow for overages, which if not planned for correctly could get costly. 

Next, I suggest creating a new Resource Group. As a rule I name my resource groups something similar to the service they are used with, in this case I named it "BingSearch-RG". Make sure the Resource Group is created in the data center you want and then Check the box for the confirmation of the notice. Lastly, Click the "Create" at the bottom.

 After the service is created, the Overview is displayed. From here you will want to click "Show access keys"

Two access keys will be displayed. Copy the first one into the clipboard and put it into notepad or somewhere else where you can reference it later.

So, now we start to build the Flow. Much like my first blog using Microsoft Flow, you'll need to access "My Flows" and then click "Create from blank"

Next click on "Search hundreds of connectors and triggers"

Click on "Schedule"

Then Click "Schedule - Recurrence" under Triggers

Configure the Recurrence trigger for every 4 hours. Then Click "New Step" and choose "Add an action"

Search for "bing" and select "Bing News"

Switch to Triggers and select "Bing Search - On new news article"

If you haven't setup Bing News before, Microsoft Flow will prompt you to setup a connection to Azure Cognitive Services for Bing Search. 

This is where that Access keys come into play. Give the connection a name. In my example below, I used the name "BingNews". Next provide that Access key you saved earlier and click "Create".

Specify the Search Query. In my example below, I use the Logical OR between specific search terms encapsulated in quotes. The result is that any new news article that contains "Microsoft Ignite 2017" or "Skype for Business" or "Microsoft Teams". 

To keep the Bing News search from going nuts making queries to Azure Cognitive Services, click the ellipses menu in the upper right of the Bing News step. Select "Settings"

In the dialog box that appears, configure the Time Duration to be PT10M. This will configure Bing News to timeout after 10 minutes of not finding new news. Combined with the Recurrence of every 4 hours, this means we will have 2 queries to Azure Cognitive Service every 4 hours. 

Click "Done" and then "New Step" and "Add an action"

Search for "teams" and select "Microsoft Teams"

Click on "Microsoft Teams - Post message"

Select the appropriate Team ID and Channel ID. Then specify the message. As you can see below I used a combination of HTML markups and dynamic content in the message. Click "Save Flow" when done

Your flow will run immediately. Since it will run for awhile, feel free to go to "My Flows" and check on it later.

When you click on the flow later you can see the run history. The only thing I don't like with how Microsoft Flow is with the Timeout feature is that when it isn't successful before the Timeout, the flow looks like it failed, when in fact it did exactly like it was configured. So before you freak out and start changing things, let it run for a day or two and see if it is successful.

That's it! Hopefully this inspires you to experiment with some other uses for Microsoft Flow, Azure Cognitive Services and/or Microsoft Teams.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Microsoft Ignite Weather to Microsoft Teams using Microsoft Flow

So I'm headed down to Microsoft Ignite along with a couple other guys from Time2Market. I've decided to setup a Microsoft Team to help us keep recorded, take notes, and share information with others at Time2Market that couldn't go to the conference.

So I decided to see what interesting things I could cook up in our use of Teams. I recently noticed that Microsoft Flow has had quite an update. One of those updates that I really like is that there is now a connector for Microsoft Teams. The connector is pretty basic right now, but it does allow you to post a message. So to start to play with Flow and Teams I decided to cook up a flow that posts the Weather forcast in our Microsoft Ignite Teams General channel.

First off, you need to gain access to Microsoft Flow. There is a free version, but it is limited in some of its features. Beyond that, it appears it is part of every Office 365 and Dynamics 365 plans.

Anyway, now that we got getting access to Microsoft Flow out of the way. Login and Navigate to "My Flows"

This is where you can see all the flows you've created. For the weather flow, there isn't a template that matches what we want to do, so we will need to "Create from Blank".

Microsoft provides some commonly used connectors, but for this flow we need to hit the link for 'Search hundreds of connectors and triggers"

On the search screen click on "Recurrence" and click Advanced Options. Then set the Frequency to "Day", the Interval to "1", Time Zone to "Eastern" and then "2017-08-19T08:00:00" for the Start time. Make sure you change the date to the current day.

Next click on "New Step"

Click "Add an Action" and then search for "Weather". Click on "Get Weather for today".

Set the Location to be "9800 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819" for the Orange County Convention Center and set the Units to be appropriate for whether you are used to Imperial (US) or Metric (Practically everyone else)

Click "New Step"

Click "Add an Action"

Search for "Teams". Then click "Post Message". At this point you could select a number of places to send this message. You could send it to email, or a mobile notification. A great way to discover is to just scroll through the list of Actions available. 

Select your "Team" from your Microsoft Teams in your tenant. Then select the Channel, the default one created is "General". Finally format the message. You can see in my example I mixed in text along with the dynamic content tags. You can really go nuts and HTML tags to format things how you want.

When done click "Save Flow"

To test it out immediately click "Run Flow". Otherwise you'll have to wait til 8:00am Eastern for the flow to run. You can see in the Teams client behind flow what the message looks like

There you have it... hope this inspires you to explore what else you can do with Microsoft Flow and Microsoft Teams. Stay tuned to this blog for more flows as I dream them up.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tips and Tricks / Unofficial Party and Sweepstakes list for Microsoft Ignite 2017

Looking for the Microsoft Ignite 2018 Party List? Go here


Every year there has been a Microsoft Ignite, it has sold out. Don't delay registration. The Microsoft Ignite 2017 website already indicates there are limited passes available. Update: Conference Passes have now been sold out! There are still some other types of passes available, including Expo Hall passes and Day Passes.

At the time of writing this blog, there are only a couple of conference discounted hotels with rooms available. If you find that those hotels don't work for you, you might take a look at Airbnb, there are still a number of options around the Orange County Convention Center available.

Choosing Sessions

Microsoft as of August 15th has released the Schedule Builder. Once you go to Myignite you will want to choose "Personalize Schedules" and start to filter and select sessions that interest you. I didn't bother with trying to determine which sessions conflicted with others on my first pass, I just simply selected anything that looked interesting to me. Then later I went by into "My Conference -> My Schedule" and whittled things down.

If you really want a cool way to look at all the sessions @tyGraphTweets built a PowerBI mashup of the Sessions and it is awesome way to slice and dice things.

Taking Notes and Recording during Sessions

Microsoft does provide a video with the slide deck for most of the sessions that can then be later referenced, if you can't quite remember that one little detail.

If you are really bent on recording sessions, I'd suggest using a Jabra Speak 410/510 (or similar devce) with OneNote. If you have the Bluetooth version you might even get permission to put it up near where the speaker is speaking. Using OneNote in this manner, you can take notes and they will be tied to the audio so you can go back and listen to the audio at that moment you made the entry in OneNote. I cover this technique in my Lync Masters report.


I'm no style expert... so don't expect any style tips from me. The expected temp in Orlando for September is around 90 Fahrenheit (32C). To me... being from Colorado that is rather hot. Some people from further down south will likely disagree. My point is you know yourself better than I do. Bring appropriate clothes and be prepared for rain.

Shoes are really, really, really important. Did I mention REALLY important? Even if you have a car, you will do an enormous amount of walking just in the convention center. If you plan to visit any theme parks like Disney/Universal while you are there (Microsoft Attendee party is at Universal) they can be quite large as well. Please bring your best walking shoes... you'll thank me later. If you want to really be prepared, take a look at what some die hard Disney fans prepare for.

Dress code... In all the searches I did, the only places you'll encounter a dress code are Night Clubs and upscale restaurants. Once I know party venues, I'll try to dig that up and post here if I find something.


Not the wired kind of networking... but the people kind of networking. You know... like LinkedIn... but in person. For me, networking with others is by far the most important part of going to a conference. There always seems to be a way to get the "information" shared at a conference before or after, but you can't replace that face to face interaction, especially with people that understand your tech language.

Use the time wisely to meet people and make connections. Many of the connections I made at conferences like this have come in handy when I have questions I can't answer on my own.

If you are looking for me... just ping me on Twitter @ucomsgeek . Feel free to follow me too, because I'll be trying to feverishly be more social than Matt Landis (which is impossible) ;-)

It's always a good idea to bring your Business Cards to hand out and there are usually a number of drawings that you'll probably want to enter (some right on the spot during a session). If I come across any really good ones, I'll post them here.


Most people will be flying in, and I'm sure a great number will be new to Orlando. If you plan to just stick to the Agenda and not do anything extra, you can likely get away with not having a rental car. But if you plan on exploring Orlando, or going to any Vendor parties, you might want to have one available or at least be prepared to do a Taxi/Uber. To use Uber, you'll want to download their app to your device.

Getting from the Airport to the Hotel without a rental car is as simple as getting a Taxi, Super Shuttle, or use Uber.

Super Shuttle will cost about $18 each way (I used the Orange County Convention Center as reference). I've used Super Shuttle in many cities and they are very efficient and professional. You can usually find them close to the rental car counters... but I highly recommend having a reservation ahead of time with so many people traveling to Orlando the same time you are.

The Uber method from the Airport to your Hotel, you should be aware that there are specific instructions you need to follow in order to find your ride successfully. Cost will probably be in the $23-28 range but you won't be sharing with others (I used the Orange County Convention Center as reference).

The Taxi method from the Airport is the most common. There should be signs for Ground Transportation at the airport that takes you to the Taxi area. Cost will be in the $40-65 range depending on traffic (I used the Orange County Convention Center as reference).

Sweepstakes / Awards

Cloud Burst Sweepstakes by Turbonomic - Do you want to attend Microsoft Ignite® in Orlando, Florida but your company won’t pay for the conference passes? Enter the Turbonomic® Cloud Burst Sweepstakes to earn your chance to win a full conference pass and unlock access to other monthly cloud prizes – including our grand prize worth $4,950.00! Microsoft Ignite drawing takes place on September 1st!

$300 DINNER AT FOGO DE CHÃO! by Nigel Frank International -
Microsoft Ignite Orlando 2017 is fast approaching, and to celebrate Nigel Frank are offering attendees the chance to win a $300 voucher for Fogo de Chão. Nigel Frank are thrilled to be Silver Sponsors at Ignite 2017, and we can’t wait to see you there. To make one lucky attendee’s Ignite experience even more incredible, we’re giving away $300 to spend at fine dining, full service Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão.

GSX Super Hero Giveaway - Got complaints with Office 365 performance? Be a Super Hero, Fight Against Poor End-User Experience Today! GSX is the Office 365 End-User Experience Monitoring Company. Measuring and improving service delivery within complex hybrid and cloud scenarios
will make you a super hero. With SuperPower, Come SuperPrizes! Enter to win prizes totalling $2,000!

Convergence Consulting Group Drawing - As a Premier Microsoft Business Partner, Convergence Consulting Group has access to a select number of passes that we are offering free to clients and connections!

2017 Microsoft Ignite Pass Giveaway by Adaptiva - Participants enter the Microsoft Ignite 2017 free pass contest by completing the Adaptiva online entry form in addition to liking or following us on one of the following networks: Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. By completing the Adaptiva online entry form and following at least one of our social sites, participants will automatically be entered into the contest drawing.

SAPIEN Technologies, Inc., developer of PowerShell Studio and PrimalScript, will award a full conference pass for Microsoft Ignite 2017 to a woman in the Windows PowerShell community, or any individual who is new to IT or devops within the last two years, and works with Windows PowerShell in some capacity.  SAPIEN encourages other Ignite vendors to match this award and support the attendance of technical women and new talent at IT and devop conferences. See details on the link!

Metalogix Microsoft Ignite 2017 Conference Pass Giveaway - We're giving away two free passes to Microsoft Ignite 2017! For a chance to win a Microsoft Ignite Full Conference Pass, simply fill out the entry form by Wednesday, August 23, 2017 to be automatically placed in the raffle. Winners will be selected on Thursday, August 24, 2017.


There are a always a number of parties being thrown during Microsoft Ignite. Some by Microsoft you can find easily in the agenda on the Microsoft Ignite 2017 site. There are other extra-curricular parties that are put on by different vendors and groups. At the time of writing this blog, it is still a bit early for vendor announced parties. When they are announced I will only list the ones I know are public so far. If you are a vendor and would like to be listed on this blog, please reach out to me via @ucomsgeek


First #SharePint party by @SPCPartyPatrol - Saturday Sept 23 at The Rocks in Hyatt Regency Hotel from 5 PM until ???  Just show up... Capacity for 150! 


Microsoft Ignite Community Happy Hour - by Microsoft Tech Community - Community Members! Start off Ignite right, and join us for happy hour! Let’s have some post Pre-Day fun over drinks and appetizers. The dueling piano’s should provide some great entrainment while you connect with friends, old & new, and put faces with those familiar names. This is an open party for anyone with an Ignite badge. Likely to be very very busy so get there early!

See below for details:

Date: Sunday, September 24th
Time: 5:00pm – 7:30pm
Location: Howl at the Moon
8815 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
Directions from OCCC: 

BindTuning Azul Party - by BindTuning - Kick off your week at Microsoft Ignite 2017 with BindTuning from 7:00pm to 10:00pm at Marlow's Tavern. Join us for good food, cold beer, wine from Portugal & tech talk (or not!). RSVP on the link!

The Krewe Meet N Greet 2017 - by The Krewe - This is the place to be on Sunday night to kick off your week at Microsoft Ignite 2017! Join us at Howl at the Moon Orlando for an evening of networking and fun! For a number of years, The Krewe has gotten together the night before TechEd to meet new faces and renew old friendships. This year is no different.This year, we have Howl at the Moon to ourselves with food and beverages for all from 8:00-11:00pm thanks to our awesome sponsors! There is no better way to meet others in the Microsoft Ignite community and build bonds that will last long past the conference. Make sure not to miss this event! There is a $23 cost for this event.


Microsoft Ignite Welcome Reception


Azure Stack Customer Meetup - If you are familiar with hybrid clouds and are interested in shaping the future of Microsoft Azure Stack by interfacing with the Azure Stack engineering team - this meetup is for you! The event will take place on Tuesday 26th September in the evening at a hotel location near the event center. An email invite detailing the exact details will be sent closer to the event. To receive an invite it is a pre-requisite that you have successfully deployed the Azure Stack Development Kit . By Ignite will you have completed a successful deployment? (There will be a test!!)

Veeam's Annual Ignite Party 2017 - by Veeam - Join us Tuesday night at Dewey’s Indoor Golf & Sports Grill for Veeam's Annual Microsoft Ignite Party! Enjoy a night of music, interactive entertainment and drinks on Veeam! A Microsoft Ignite 2017 badge is required for entrance. If you are bringing a guest, please mark that on your registration and EventBrite will send you two separate tickets. Register & bring your Eventbrite ticket to show at the door for entry in a FASTER line!*Occupancy is limited, so admittance will be granted on a first come, first serve basis.

SolarWinds Microsoft Ignite 2017 Meetup - by SolarWinds - Both residents in the Orlando area and Microsoft Ignite attendees are encouraged to register and attend this SolarWinds User Group. See details below! Beer, wine and non-alcoholic refreshments (along with a Buffet it looks like) will be served throughout the evening along with talks and demos!

1 E Party - by 1 E - Join us for an evening for great conversation, entertainment and drinks with your industry experts and peers at one of Orlando’s most unique venues! Stop by the 1E Booth to collect your wristband. Transportation will be provided from the convention center beginning at 6:00 PM.


eNow has done some pretty epic parties in the past and the Microsoft Ignite "//scheduledMaintenance"... is likely to be something you won't want to miss. Tired of your servers receiving all the attention? Need your own Scheduled Maintenance? This might be the place for you... space is limited and like the other parties... spots might go quickly.

MetaFest 2017 by Metalogix - Join us for our annual MetaFest on Wednesday, September 27, at Mango’s Tropical Café! MetaFest will feature an amazing lineup of live bands, dance performances, and an abundance of food and drinks. It’s one party you definitely won’t want to miss! Passes are limited, so register now to reserve your spot! It’s guaranteed to be a great time.


Microsoft Ignite Attendee Celebration - Get ready for one of the biggest parties Microsoft has ever thrown—we’ve reserved both Universal Orlando Resort™ theme parks for Microsoft Ignite attendees only. From 7:30pm to 12:00am on Thursday, 9/28, you’ll have unlimited access to immersive, award-winning rides and attractions.

SharePoint Party at Ignite 2017! - by @SPCPartyPatrol - Seen by many as the after-party to the big Microsoft party... SharePoint Party at MS Ignite 2017! #SharePint brought to you by Sharepointalist Inc, PDF ShareForms, @SPCPartyPatrol, and Crush Networks, Inc. RSVP to grab your FREE drink before 9:00 PM! Get ready for the most unique nightlife experience in the country! Come sing, dance and howl as the most versatile and talented musicians perform your favorite songs from 80's rock, 90's pop and today's dance hits on pianos, guitars and more in a high-energy show!

Keep checking back... this blog post will be updated as more information comes out!