Monday, September 10, 2018

The Microsoft IC/UC Water Cooler

Not many know this... but the main reason I actually started to pursue being an Office Servers and Services MVP was because the Microsoft Masters program and subsequent Lync Masters discussion/mailing list, was not going to be maintained anymore. Having access to that many knowledgeable people was a huge benefit when I came across something that I didn't have an answer to... and now that source of information was being threatened. 

Fast forward a few months later, I was successfully nominated and then awarded as an MVP. Once again, I had access to a discussion list of peers that if they didn't know the answer... it was real problem that needed a case to be opened. 

Anyway the point of this blog is not a history lesson about me. It is that I've come across this new Microsoft tool called Kaizala and it seems to be a great low barrier method to get like-minded people together to communicate.

So I've decided to take the Discussion List experience I've had access to for years... and bring it to the Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams masses. 

First things first, Kaizala is a mobile only app. So, you'll need to download it first. Next you'll want to click on the join link
( from your mobile device.

The rest is easy... say Hi and join in the conversation. Unfortunately Kaizala doesn't have chat history so you will only see the conversation point from when you joined. All the more reason to not delay joining! 

See you there!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Tips and Tricks / Unofficial Party and Sweepstakes list for Microsoft Ignite 2018


Every year there has been a Microsoft Ignite, it has sold out. Don't delay registration.

At the time of writing this blog, there are no hotels available for the entire week through the Microsoft Ignite website 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.

Choosing Sessions

Microsoft has yet to release the Schedule Builder for Microsoft Ignite 2018. When they do, 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. It's actually a good idea to pick more than one session for a given time so that if plans change last moment you know what your options are.

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.


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 . Last year I cooked up a way using Microsoft Flow to share my location when I pressed a button on my phone.

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).

How to use Microsoft Teams for Ignite

For Microsoft Ignite 2017, I published a blog with some ideas on how to use Microsoft Teams for a Team attending the conference. Hopefully it will give you some ideas on how you can use it to maximize your time while at Microsoft Ignite


@tidjani_b sent me his checklist and I think it is a great way to make sure you make the most of Microsoft Ignite, even before he added some things from this blog ;-)   Check it out and share with others that are going!

CommsvNext Organizer Hunt

I'm one of four organizers for CommsvNext and we've decided to have a little fun at Microsoft Ignite to help get the CommsvNext brand out there a bit more. The basic idea is that you need to find either Adam Ball, Josh Blalock, Pat Richard or Jonathan McKinney (myself)... Take a selfie with us and then post on twitter and tag @CommsvNext and include the #msignite hashtag! Doing so will enter you into a drawing to be done after all four of us have left Orlando that the winner will get a free pass to CommsvNext 2019 targeted for June 2019 in Denver, CO. This does not include hotel or airfare those are on you. This is just the conference pass.

The rules:

  • If we are in a session, wait til we are out in the hallway. We don't want to affect the ability of people to get in and out of sessions.
  • If we are working a booth, wait til we are done. It's perfectly fine to ask us when that is.
  • Parties are off limits
  • No Photoshop... looking at you Richard (see #NotPatRichard)
  • These rules may be modified at any time.
Here are the pictures of us so you know who you are hunting for...

Sweepstakes / Awards /Giveaways

@NigelFrank is doing a coffee, cab, food and fun giveaway! It's a standard follow and RT type of entry. From the looks of it... it is $50 for Starbucks, $50 for Uber, $100 for Ruth's Chris Steak House, and $50 for Windows Store! Not too shabby for less than a minute of work :-)

@Thycotic is giving away t-shirts, socks, amazon and Starbuck's gift cards, $100, magnets, and a ton of other swag! All you have to do is spin their massive Price is Right wheel!! Come on... you know you want to... Make your way to Booth #2801!

@1E_Global is going to be hiding GOLDEN TICKETS daily throughout the exhibit hall! If you are lucky enough to find one take it back to their booth for a prize!

@IxiaCom We are going to raffle off an Amazon TAP in the booth and will also be handing out an assortment of smaller giveaways to all booth visitors – pens, USB chargers, and mints.


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. When public parties 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

One thing new this year is the use of Kaizala. There is a Kaizala group that discusses parties along with lots of other Microsoft Ignite topics. If you have the stomach for hundreds of messages a day it is probably the best way to keep track of the pulse of what is going on at Ignite. To join download Kaizala on your mobile device then click the join URL


No Parties announced yet


The Krewe Meet and Greet 2018: 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 Tin Roof to ourselves with food and beverages for all from 7:00-10:00pm thanks to our awesome sponsors!

Ignite SharePint: SharePint is a tradition starting from the early days of SharePoint. Friends would gather for a pint at conferences to celebrate being together.

SharePoint doesn’t exist on its own anymore, and we’d like to celebrate our connections with people from all Microsoft technologies. Please join us to say hello to old friends and maybe make some new ones! People from all backgrounds and technology areas ware welcome.

  • Where: Hyatt Regency Rocks Bar
  • When: September 23, 2018 - 8:00 to 1:30am
  • Access: Just Come


SYNCOPATH PARTY: This is the first annual SyncoPath Party sponsored by KnowledgeLake and SkySync. Get in touch with your inner Syncopath at Microsoft Ignite’s hottest afterparty. Come chill out after the conference with killer cocktails, fiery entertainment, and – yes – a full, roasted pig. The first annual Syncopath Party, co-sponsored by our friends at KnowledgeLake, is going down at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24.

Get your name on our waiting list and we’ll follow up with your official invite and all of the important details later. Tickets to the Syncopath Party are extremely limited.

Please note that this event is intended for registered Microsoft Ignite attendees only – you’ll need your conference badge and party confirmation to get in.
  • Where: Not Announced Yet
  • When: September 24, 2018 starting at 8pm
  • Access: Limited Pass


Omada Ignite Party: Join us on September 25 for our exclusive Microsoft Ignite party. Enjoy food and drinks while meeting our identity governance and administration experts and connect with peers while hearing more about news in enterprise business applications.
  • Where: The Pharmacy – 8060 Via Dellagio Way, #106, Orlando, FL 32819
  • When: September 25, 2018 starting at 6:30pm
  • Access: Register

US Intelligent Cloud Developer Party: Please join Microsoft’s US Intelligent Cloud team members and other developers for a one-of-a-kind event on September 25th at Orlando’s IceBar! Come and enjoy great music, food and beverages while making new connection and networking with your peers and your Microsoft contacts. You won’t want to miss this ‘chill’ evening of adventure and fun!

  • Where: Icebar - 8967 International Dr., Orlando, Florida 32819
  • When: September 25, 2018 from 7:00 to 9:00pm
  • Access: Register (targeted at developers)

Ixia Cocktails and Conversations: Attending Microsoft Ignite? Make sure to add Ixia Solutions Group’s exclusive networking event to your conference agenda! Join us for cocktails, hor d’oeuvres, and networking with your fellow conference attendees.

  • Where: Charley's Steakhouse - 8255 International Dr. #100 Orlando, FL  32819
  • When: September 25, 2018 from 5:30 to 7:30pm
  • Access: Register (space is limited)


>_scheduledMaintenance: Tired of your servers receiving all the attention? Need your own Scheduled Maintenance? ENow has thrown legendary parties usually at venues with killer views. Register to request a pass. For extra consideration follow the instructions at the bottom of their page.
  • Where: Icebar
  • When: September 26, 2018 - 9:00pm to 12:00am
  • Access: Limited Pass

1E Party: Join us for an evening of food, drinks, networking and entertainment!

Stop by Booth #127 to pick up your wristband. Wristbands are required for entry.


Microsoft Ignite Attendee Celebration
Venue: Universal Studios
Time: 7:30pm

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