Support Movember – In Memory of Dave Coleman and Men Everywhere

Image from :

Image from :

As Movember draws to a close and those of us in the USofA have given thanks for all we have, please consider donating to Movember. Movember isn’t just about raising money, but that’s one goal.  You can donate via my Movember page, or by finding others you may know who are participating. (Hint: they have unexpected facial hair this month.)

If you don’t feel you can give, please reach out to the men in your life and make sure they have the support they need to confront physical and mental ailments that strike us.

In modern society, many men feel the need to be stalwart and stoic at the expense of their own health. That doesn’t have to be the case, and we can all be a part of the solution. Encourage your loved men to go to regular doctor checkups, even if they don’t want to. It could mean the difference between a long, healthy life and a foreshortened one for no need. Remember that these are men you’re talking to – loving encouragement usually works far more effectively than ultimatums. We’re a stubborn bunch.

The other angle to this is for men to understand that into every life some rain will fall. Good mental health is as important as good physical health. A wonderful physical plant with poor management doesn’t work, either. Men are as susceptible to mental health issues as anyone else. If your men are down in the dumps a lot or not enjoying life as much as it seems they should, see if they will go and talk to someone. A little talk therapy can help in many cases, or possible some medication if it is merited. There’s no shame in admitting we need a little help from time to time.

I first participated in Movember last year (2014) after the untimely death of my friend and SharePoint colleague Dave Coleman. (You can read about my motivation last year in my post Dave Coleman, Men’s Health, Movember, and a Request.)

Dave Coleman

Dave Coleman 1959-2014

Dave realized that had he had himself checked out earlier, the prostate cancer that felled him may not have gotten such a hold and he might have lived a longer life. I put a link to an interview he did in that post from last year, and it’s worth adding here again. It’s not a long interview, but it’s poignant and a tribute to the courage of a man who saw his own mortality staring him in the face.

Dave Coleman, Claire Smyth – 05 February 2014 15.36.21 (Original link)

If you knew Dave or listen to the interview and admire him for his guts in it – as I do – please give to Movember in his name.

But even better, give for the men in your life. Let’s try to make sure to keep them around as long as they should be.

New Office 365 Admin UI Preview

On the November edition of CollabTalk, I did a short demo of the new Office 365 Admin Center. This new UI is available as a functional preview to folks who have opted into First Release in their tenant as well as some of the small business licenses.

If you’d like to take a look at the new UI and you’ve got First Release enabled, you should see a couple of links at the top of the screen when you visit the main page of your tenant Admin link from the App Launcher, a.k.a. “the waffle”. From these links, you can either take a sneak peek at the new UI or watch a video.


All of this is changing swiftly, so think of these screenshots as indicators of where the admin UI is going – it’s not final. The great thing about it, though, is that what is there actually works. You can use it to get some of the more common activities done.

Here’s a view of the new page as it stands. You can see that it isn’t – by any means – everything you can do in the current Admin Center. To me, that’s a great thing. The full UI can be overwhelming, anyway.


If you start taking the tour, it will highlight the important parts othe new UI in an order that makes a lot of sense to me. I love the fact that Microsoft is starting to build these in-application tours into the newer UIs. We shouldn’t need to read the manual before we know what to do anymore!


What are the most important things we do in the Admin Center? Well, I’d argue it’s managing users, billing, and checking system heath. The next three steps in the tour show us exactly where we’d do each of those important activities, as well as showing us how we can navigate to each activity. Plus – a ninja cat riding a fire-breathing unicorn!


Managing users is front and foremost. Users are at the core of Office 365 – of course, right?


Taking care of licensing and billing is a central activity on Office 365, because there’s no concept of server licenses here. In the new Admin Center, it’s easy to buy additional licenses and assign them.


We all care about service heath, and the new Office 365 Admin Center gives us a one-glance view of what is having problems, rather than a long list of things that are fine, as in the current Admin Center, but with the option to drill into the details.


If you try out the new Admin Center and can’t accomplish something, it’s easy to switch back to the old UI.


What do you think is missing? Well, there’s a feedback link built right into all of the pages so that you can send feedback to the team behind it. And because this is the new Microsoft, they are really listening.


Finally, there are links to helpful videos and articles that can help you get up to speed if all this is new to us – and we’re all new to this at some point.


So what’s not so great yet? Well, the UI isn’t fully responsive. It’s housed inside the newer semi-responsive Suite Bar but the Admin Center itself isn’t responsive enough to work on a phone. (For that form factor, we have the Office 365 Admin app at the links below.)

The functional map between the old Admin Center and the new one is pretty sparse. But like I pointed out already, managing users, billing, and service health are some of the most important aspects of admin, especially for smaller organizations. More will come, and I expect we’ll see it come quickly.

Right now it’s a little stormy in the cloud. But Microsoft is clearly “Working on it…”


This article was also published on IT Unity on 11/19/2015. Visit the post there to read additional comments.

The ‘MVP Thoughts’ Series – Live from Sharegate World Headquarters

2015-11-18_17-30-46Last month a handful of SharePoint and Office 365 MVPs (now Office Servers and Services MVPs, but who’s counting?) gathered at Sharegate‘s offices in Montreal to help them with their next series of Damn Simple videos. Stay tuned for those.

After all the silliness – I mean serious cinematography – Jennifer Roth (@jennifermason), Corey Roth (@coreyroth), Fabian Williams (@fabianwilliams), and I sat down with the great Benjamin Niaulin (@bniaulin) to talk about Office 365 and SharePoint. You know – the usual. Each time a bunch of us gets together, though, the conversations tend to go in different directions. It’s even interesting for me to watch these, as our opinions often change over time.

I’m not sure how many segments we ended up with, but I’ll keep adding them here as they come out. If you’d like to read the transcripts instead, follow the title links.

MVP Thoughts: What to Expect From SharePoint 2016

MVP Thoughts: SharePoint Workflows & Forms in Today’s Environment

MVP Thoughts: What Should SharePoint Developers Focus On?


Coming soon:

SharePoint and Office 365 in the Modern Workplace

Today’s SharePoint Developers’ Challenges

News Flash: Wandering Office 365 Waffle, Or “Who Moved My Waffle?”

Call it the waffle or the App Launcher or whatever you want (internally it has the CSS class ms-Icon–waffle2, so I think Randy Drisgill [@drisgill] is right, as usual), but if you use Office 365 or the soon to be available SharePoint 2016, you probably click on it dozens of times a day.

Recent changes to the Suite Bar (CSS classes start with suiteBar) have made it more responsive for different sized screens. This is a good thing, as the Suite Bar can now scale from a wide-screen desktop monitors down to a phone screen. How modern.

The implementation may confuse, though, so be prepared for some quizzical looks from your users.

Desktop Mode

Desktop Mode

Tablet Mode

Tablet Mode

Phone Mode

Phone Mode

As you can see, the waffle is where you’d expect it in desktop mode, and I get to see my Sympraxis Consulting logo as well.

The phone mode also seems to make sense. The logo is gone – there’s not really any room for it – and the icons are all hidden, albeit behind the dread ellipses rather than the hamburger most people are used to.

It’s the tablet mode that will probably throw your users. “Where my waffle?”, you might ask? Well, it hops over to the right, jumping over the Suite Bar title (“Sites”, “Outlook”, etc.) to hang out by the notifications icon (at least for now – the Suite Bar changes frequently).

It looks like the media query kicks in at 1024px, which may be the width of some of your users’ regular desktop screens, even in this day and age. Even if they have higher resolution monitors, they may not use their browser in full screen mode. (I’m a full screen guy myself.)

All in all, it’s no harm – but some of your users may cry foul. Be prepared for it. I’m seeing it in my own First Release tenant as well as in several non-First Release tenants as well.

Thanks for Stefan Bauer (@StfBauer) for the heads up on why this is happening.

Recent Changes to Task Management Conventions on Office 365

2015-11-13_14-20-24If you’ve been using Task Lists in SharePoint as long as I have, you will notice even the tiniest changes. Task Lists have never worked exactly the way people want them to – why doesn’t marking a task %100 complete also mark it as Completed? – but by adding a few extra columns to each list to customize them for your organization, they have always gotten the job done.

I wrote about how I generally use Tasks Lists years ago in my post Simple Best Practices for Using SharePoint Task Lists. I’m no longer a huge fan of the “best practice” term – there can be many different “better practices”; rarely is a “best practice” the best for everyone – but I’ve been following that model for Task List usage since I wrote the post in 2009. That’s through SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013, and SharePoint Online.

Well, sometime in the last few weeks or months, the way Task Lists work in Office 365 seems to have changed, and my model doesn’t work so well any more. These changes seem to apply only to Task Lists that have been created since the changes, as my older Task Lists still work the same way they always have.

I don’t see anything in the Office 365 roadmap to explain the changes (I admit I didn’t pore through every item, but the prose there is difficult to follow, IMO), so I figured I’d capture what I’m seeing. Here’s what’s different:

  • If you change the Task Status from Not Started to In Progress, the % Complete column is set to 50% on save
  • When you change the % Complete column to 100%, the task is marked as complete on save

These two little changes can make a big difference. I think that they are actually an improvement, but for anyone who is used to the old way, it’ll be frustrating. This will be the case especially if you have some older Tasks Lists and newer Tasks Lists in the same site!

My new suggested model will change a bit:

  • When you start working on a task assigned to you, set the Task Status to In Progress, then immediately change the % Complete from 0% to whatever is appropriate. SharePoint seems to respect the % Complete you set rather than updating it to 50% on save.
  • When you’ve completed a task, leave the Task Status in the In Progress state, as we have before. Now, however, mark the % Complete to 99%. This will prevent SharePoint from marking the task as Completed when you save it.
  • When the person who originally made the request decides you have completed the task appropriately, they can change the % Complete to 100% or just tick the Completed box, which is generally to the left of the task, at least in the default view.

One of the main goals I’ve always had in my model is to make it an exception – rather than the norm – for people to mark tasks complete which they work on. We don’t need to enforce it strictly, but by convention. These tweaks under the new Task Lists behavior still supports the goal.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose