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Finally a rewards program that is easy and useful

Bing Rewards

I don’t need anymore reward programs that require me to carry a membership card or attach something to my key ring. Reward programs need to be easier and reward me for things I use or do on a regular basis. A program that I enjoy quite a bit is Bing rewards. It is easy and intersects with something I do all the time, and that is search the web. I search the web multiple times a day as part of my everyday professional and personal life.

A few of the Bing reward benefits include Amazon gift cards, Dominos Pizza, Burger King, iHop, Hulu subscriptions, GameStop, ProFlowers (ahem, Mothers day is coming up), Starbucks gift cards, Xbox points just to name few of the benefits that help me save money on practical to services many of us use everyday.  Just register or create a Microsoft account and search the web like you normally do (of course using bing.com) and you will get points in your account. You do NOT have to buy anything or supply a credit card to participate in Bing Rewards.

Bing rewards is a non intrusive, non email spamming program that gives back rewards for things that I actually use. I don’t have to do anything special to earn points and redeem points making this a program anyone can use and benefit from!

Donate Bing RewardsMaybe you have everything you need and you are not interested in any of the partner programs offered here. There is another benefit you may be interested in donating your points to help your local school or a non profit. Bing rewards enables you to donate credits from you account to schools so they can get access to modern computers equipped with Microsoft Office for classrooms or non profit organizations like the Boys and Girls club of America and TechForAmerica. The point here is Bing makes this easy for anyone to participate without carrying membership cards, getting email spam or doing something out of your everyday routine.

There is no commitment, you are not locked into a program or a subscription program, there is no down side to at least giving this a try. I think you will find the overall experience rewarding by itself. Find out more about Bing Rewards

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Visual Studio 2013 – The little things go a long way

I am big on developer productivity and features that save me time from managing the development environment allowing me to focus on the task at hand like reviewing code are excellent examples great developer productivity.

I am currently reviewing a demo for Single Page Applications (SPA) using Web API 2 and Angular.js from github (https://github.com/MarlabsInc/webapi-angularjs-spa) where I am exploring the project and realized this feature that I never really paid any attention too.

The ability to preview files in Visual Studio 2013 is great when browsing threw source code. In older versions of Visual Studio I would have to double click open the file and then close it again.

Screenshot (40)

Today I just click the file browse and move to the next one without having to explicitly open it.

Rest in Peace SharePoint – A place where documents go to die

SharePoint Memorial service for the team site that has looked like this since 2009 back when it was created. You can see there are no contacts filled in and if there are they are old. Announcements? Who comes here for announcements? Tasks don’t we have Project Server, Team Foundation Server, Outlook, OneNote and a handful of other tools to manage our tasks?

No One Notices You

Rest in peace dear team site, no one will ever find the documents shared here, this is truly the place where documents have come to die. The question is, if SharePoint is so popular and so widely deployed why is it a document graveyard in so many organizations? OK, so there are number of readers who can relate to this site and a dozen reasons why your site still looks like the one pictured here. There are also several companies using various parts of SharePoint successfully and they are very happy with the product overall. SharePoint is very easy to use for collaboration so it begs the question what is the problem here?

The issue with the site pictured here is some one imagined that SharePoint would all of sudden become the authority for the content being requested, or didn’t think thru the question who wants to maintain all this stuff here when other systems are already in place for this? SharePoint provides a great platform to integrate into the authoritative sources where much of the information lives and is already maintained. Instead of treating SharePoint like another application silo this is the perfect opportunity to bring together the other information repositories where information is generally stored.

In the team site pictured here I would work to do make the following changes

  • Contacts – Come from the CRM instance or the company directory
  • Tasks – Come from the time entry system or project repository for the projects I am currently active on
  • Announcements – Come from an external feed with relative industry news or from an automated feed inside the company that gives me business insight

You probably get the point by now in reference to pulling the information into one place from a the system in place that already manage this information is better than expecting someone to manage it here gives me a reason to make the team site a destination. There is value is not being forced to navigate multiple applications when SharePoint can act as a content aggregator across the applications for me.

Folder-Mania

What is Folder-Mania you may ask? This is the idea that someone has to take large portions of a file share and dump it into a document library create a horrible user experience of nest folders in a browser. You have seen this a time or two on your SharePoint server?

 

 

 

 

 

We know that many customers will quickly learn to only dump files out here as place holder and miss out on much of the value SharePoint has to offer here. So how we do we address Folder-Mania from running wild? There are couple of key things you can do quickly to help address folder-mania.

  • More Document libraries – Use document libraries for grouping document instead of folders. The key here is you do not have to place everything in a hierarchy. There are documents in sales with the appropriate permissions of course that plenty of applicability in other lines of business areas. Document libraries allow you to surface these documents easily in other areas of the site. In addition document libraries have the ability to create views over larger documents sets and contain powerful features for sorting and filtering.
  • Search – Just get it working to start so it is not throwing errors. I am always surprised at how many customers don’t even have it turned on. Search can do a lot even before you have a world class information architecture, taxonomy and managed metadata tuned to perfection.
  • Social – All valuable content does not end up in documents, they are often found in the discussions that takes place across your organization. This becomes more valuable when the discussion happens in context or in the same workspace as the supporting documents. Now that there are active discussions going on your documents become active references versus archived information.
  • SkyDrive Pro – Share documents from SkyDrive Pro! The documents often shared using sync utilities like SkyDrive Pro are the most active documents because they are generally the ones you are working on.
  • Governance – There are plenty of blog entries about SharePoint governance, managed metadata and the like so I will not repeat the guidance here. Note these are important and will only help to improve the value you get out of your SharePoint deployment and teaming experiences.

A great resource to see some of these features in action is the discoversharepoint.com site. Where the SharePoint team has created customer references and videos of a number of these recommendations in action. – http://www.discoversharepoint.com/

Hopefully this helps you get the most out of SharePoint and reduces the number of application silos, and inactive document repositories in your organization!

Bing Food and Drink App on Windows 8

Here is a quick tip for sharing your shopping list across devices on the Bing Food and Drink app for Windows 8. I did not want to carry my tablet around in the grocery store, yet I needed my shopping list from the Food and Drink app for a new dish I was making on my phone.

Windows 8 Share Charm to the rescue!
While my shopping list was open on my tablet

Share MenuI swiped from the right to bring up the Share command
Select share to OneNote
This generated a nicely formatted to do list in OneNote

 

 

 

Food and Drink to OneNoteOneNote is setup to sync to my phone solving the problem of getting the content for my shopping list from the Food and Drink app to my phone (and all my other devices for that matter)

 
Perfect solution!

Switching to Outlook.com is easy

Switching to Outlook.com is easy

In Ed Bott’s latest article on how he switched from GMail to Outlook.com – http://www.zdnet.com/how-i-switched-from-gmail-to-outlook-com-and-how-you-can-too-7000022642/

There were a few posters who think that switching from Outlook.com to Gmail means being forced to use folders.

Outlook.com provides the ability to use Categories, which are effectively the same thing as labels in Gmail. I am of the mindset that Outlook.com gives you the best of both worlds when it comes to organizing your mail. You can use categories(labels), folders, or a combination of the two. See the image in the posting on how Outlook.com provides Quick Views to quickly view a given category.

Hope this helps!