Sunday, 28 May 2006

Chris Pratley (Microsoft's Group Program Manager for Office Authoring Services) mentions it's now possible to blog directly from OneNote via a connection with Word 2007, which has some late-addition features that let you use it to create blog posts directly. Gone is the messy Office markup/HTML gobbledy-gook, as the code if cleaned up and made quite basic. Finally! I've blogged from OneNote using the email integration capability in the (distant) past, but this makes it much more practical and "real."

Bonus Track!
Also - Rob Bushway at has a quick audio interview with Chris Pratley - lots of great information there. Chris discusses small software teams and the many benefits of staying small and focused. While a small team means high demand, it also means agility and a powerful sense of ownership and intimate knowledge of the codebase. Chris also discusses the use of Ink in OneNote and why they didn't use the basic Ink control in the OneNote 2003 release, as well as what they're doing with ink in the new version.

05/28/2006 08:01:17 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Friday, 26 May 2006

I've been testing the Office 2007 beta releases for awhile now (without blogging about it really), ever since the Beta 1 version came out. Just the other day Microsoft released Beta 2 and it's significantly improved. Outlook is snappier and lots and lots of bugs are fixed across all the apps. Plus the new OneNote is just sweet and the integration between OneNote 2007 and the awesome new version of Outlook is greatly expanded and improved.

Chris Pratley, program manager for OneNote, tells all on his blog entry, "OneNote 2007 and Outlook: Best Buddies."

"When we did 2007 planning, it was clear from our user surveys that anything we could do to integrate better with Outlook would be most welcome. So here it is, my long-awaited post on all the great things OneNote can do with Outlook (and some additional goodies at the end)."

Read all the details here.

05/26/2006 22:37:48 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Thursday, 25 May 2006

Overwhelmed my the sheer volume of email and the work assignments and stress that go along with it? Help is available. Microsoft's Leadership Forum event for June 8th will be "Getting to Zero in Your Inbox."

Link to register for the LiveMeeting event -


  • Sally McGhee, Founder / Managing Partner
  • John Wittry, Executive Consultant, McGhee Productivity Solutions
Seminar Overview:  Using the McGhee Productivity Solutions E-Mail Processing Model
Is your e-mail in box managing you or are you managing your e-mail inbox? Is the constant influx of e-mail keeping you in reactive mode rather than strategic? Are you spending too much time opening and closing e-mail looking for what to do next? Learn how to use your objectives to prioritize your e-mail, how to reduce the amount of e-mail you get, how to differentiate between reference information and action information, and how to set up a system to handle reference and action information.  Clients who use MPS methodologies for e-mail management have seen the number of e-mails in their inboxes reduced by as much as 80%, and spend 1/3 less time in their e-mail on a daily basis.  There is relief for e-mail overload!

In this seminar you will learn:
  • How to Get to zero e-mails in your inbox
  • How to Use a clear focus on your objectives to manage your e-mail inbox
  • New and effective ways to prioritize your day
  • To Free up at least an hour a day

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Office 2003 | Tech
05/25/2006 00:11:36 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Sunday, 26 February 2006

The Office 12 system release has been formally named "Office 2007" by Microsoft. I'm running Beta 1 software and it's quite interesting and looks like some great changes. The new Outlook is terrific in design. I can't say anything (per NDA) on the server side of things, but prepare to be wow'ed.

Anyhow, here is a list (from Microsoft) of the MS blogs that cover the Office 12 components. If you know of any others, please post them in the comments.

Microsoft® Office Access

What's New in Access 2007 (Eric Rucker)


Microsoft® Office Excel®

What's New in Excel 2007 (David Gainer)


Microsoft® Office FrontPage

What's New in FrontPage 2007 (Rob Mauceri)


Microsoft® Office OneNote®

A User-oriented View of OneNote 2007 (Chris Pratley)

OneNote General (Owen Braun)


Microsoft® Office Outlook®

Outlook General (Will Kennedy, GM)

Outlook Tasks and Time Management (Melissa MacBeth)

RSS/Search/Sharing (Michael Affronti)

Outlook Programmability (Ryan Gregg)


Microsoft® Office Project

What's New in Project 2007 (Dieter Zirkler)


Microsoft® Office Publisher

Publisher 2007, XPS and more (Jeff Bell)

What's New in Publisher 2007


Microsoft® Office Visio

Visio 2007 (Eric Rockey)



Microsoft® Office Word

What's New in Word 2007 (Joe Friend)


Microsoft® Windows SharePoint Services

Windows SharePoint Services (PJ Hough)

Document Management, Workflow, & Records Management (Rob Lefferts)


Office 2007 New User Interface

Office 2007 New User Interface (Jensen Harris)


Office 2007 New XML File Format

Office 2007 New XML File Format (Brian Jones)


Publishing XPS Documents

Publishing XPS Documents (Andy Simonds)

Publisher 2007, XPS and more (Jeff Bell)


PDF Support in Office 2007

PDF Support in Office 2007 (Cyndy Wessling)


TechTalk with Steven Sinofsky

TechTalk with Steven Sinofsky


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Office 2003 | Tech
02/26/2006 20:18:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 20 February 2006

Microsoft has posted information regarding which apps will be included in each of the Office 2007 product suites, as well as pricing for the packages and individual apps/servers.

In Word .doc format:

02/20/2006 08:42:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 11 November 2005

Holiday_cardWant to create some of your own holiday cards and stationery? Hey, might as well get started now. Head over to Office Online and download templates for:

  • Greeting cards
  • Recipe cards
  • Mailing labels
  • Meal menus
  • Gift labels
  • Banners
  • That dreaded Family Holiday Newsletter

There are content categories for holiday cards in general, Christmas, Hanukkah, and lots of others, too.

Lots of stuff there to use and customize. Enjoy.

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Office 2003 | Tech
11/11/2005 16:22:10 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 29 October 2005

Apparently it's my weekend for pointing to Omar. He just wrote that he's created what he calls "Thread Killer for Outlook" with the new Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Microsoft Office - an Outlook add-in that lets you flag an email thread and dispose of it, if you don't want to monitor it anymore.

Finally, a solution to the reply-to-all problem that doesn't rely on appropriate behavior of the whole world. What a concept! Man, I need that.

Read his post here. No, it's not released yet, but hopefully he'll be able to soon. 

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Office 2003 | Tech
10/29/2005 09:42:30 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Hls_exchsp2Lots of service pack and patch announcements the past couple weeks, and here's another one of note. Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 was released the other day, and it contains a number of fixes and important enhancements.

Better support for Windows Mobile devices (push technology with Windows Mobile 5, for example - which stands a chance of giving RIM a run for it's money eventually if the devices keep getting better) and incorporation of the Sender ID protection from spam, enhanced security, better offline address book support and even enhanced mailbox store sizes (75GB per store).

Webcasts are available here, and a top-ten reasons to upgrade list can be found here. The latest information about Exchange Server can always be found on the Exchange web site.

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Office 2003 | Tech
10/19/2005 18:30:15 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Tuesday, 18 October 2005
SharePoint Portal Server (SPS) 2003 Service Pack 2 is now available to be downloaded. It contains a significant number of important security fixes and enhancements as well as changes to improve performance and stability. Several previously released fixes and those from the previous service pack for SPS are included in this release.

Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) Service Pack 2 was also recently released. It is also a roll-up of the previous service pack and previously released (post-SP1) fixes, plus it includes some new fixes.

Finally, Version 1.7 of the WSS Administrator Guide has been updated to reflect changes in WSS SP2

10/18/2005 21:16:46 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Sunday, 02 October 2005

Brian Jones posted an item about the announcement this weekend of the fact that Office 12 applications will all support PDF as an output format natively. This might not seem like much to some, but in reality it's a big deal:

"The PDF support will be built into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, OneNote, Visio, and InfoPath! I love how well this new functionality will work in combination with the new Open XML formats in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. We've really heard the feedback that sharing documents across multiple platforms and long term archiving are really important. People now have a couple options here, with the existing support for HTML and RTF, and now the new support for Open XML formats and PDF!"

More here.

10/02/2005 03:30:58 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Tuesday, 27 September 2005

Microsoft today released SP2 for Office 2003, which can be downloaded via Office Update, or you can grab it here and you can read about it here.

In addition, OneNote 2003 SP2 was also released today - read about it here, and download it here.

One of the notable features in my book is the Phishing protection update for Outlook:

Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003 Phishing Protection and Junk E-mail Filter

SP2 contains a new Phishing Protection feature to be used with the Outlook Junk Email Filter. Phishing is the luring of sensitive information through e-mail, such as passwords and other personal information, by an attacker masquerading as someone trustworthy. Phishing attacks can result in a user divulging sensitive information, including financial information, that can result in a loss of privacy or money. Phishing e-mail is hard to identify, because attackers make their e-mail appear genuine and often mimic recognizable e-mail sent out routinely by legitimate organizations such as banks and credit card companies.

To enable phishing protection, you need both Office 2003 SP2 and the latest Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail Filter Update. Once both are installed, Office 2003 SP2 has phishing protection turned on by default.

For best results, we recommend you regularly download the latest version of the Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail Filter Update. To determine whether you need this update, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base article
(872976): How to obtain the latest Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail Filter.

09/27/2005 18:59:59 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Sunday, 07 August 2005

Fact is, unless you're developing from scratch, there hasn't been a whole lot of help out there in terms of building apps on top of Windows SharePoint Services in order to enhance business.

Until now, that is.

Last week, Microsoft released 30 new application templates that enhance WSS and let you use the platform to solve more problems and meet more needs common to business. And these are out-of-the-box applications, not just starting points, although knowledgeable people could certainly use them as a beginning for something bigger if they like.

This is exactly what we need more of - help extending the platform without having to do it all ourselves. This is the kind of thing that makes SharePoint viable for smaller businesses that can't or don't want to take the time to customize from the ground up.

You can see them all in action, live and for real, at Bil Simser's public SharePoint site (found via Mark Harrison).

Also - for help installing them all, check out Raphael Londner's weblog post.

Here are the new apps, and they are no slouching solutions - these looks to be some solid business templates:

Scenarios Available for Download
arrow Absence and Vacation Schedule
arrow Board of Directors
arrow Case Work Management
arrow Change Management
arrow Classroom Management
arrow Competitive Intelligence
arrow Employee Activities Site
arrow Employee Timesheet and Scheduling
arrow Employee Training
arrow Event Coordination
arrow Expense Reimbursement
arrow Help Desk
arrow HR Programs and Services
arrow IT Developer Team Site
arrow Legal Document Review Workflow
arrow Loan Initiation Management
arrow Marketing Campaigns
arrow Meeting Management
arrow New Product Development
arrow Performance Review
arrow Professional Svcs Contracts
arrow Professional Svcs Site
arrow Project Team Site
arrow Public Official Activity
arrow Public Relations Work Site
arrow Publication Editorial Review
arrow Recruiting Resource Center
arrow Request for Proposal Management
arrow Room and Equipment Reservation
arrow Travel Request

08/07/2005 13:09:44 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 23 July 2005

The other day I downloaded a copy of Anagram. Now, in the interest of full-discosure, I should point out that I got the software with free a registration key as the result of being a Gnomedex attendee (perks for conference-goers eh?).

But it should also be pointed out that I now intend to buy a stack of copies for the sales force, execs and administrative assistants where I work. I've been using it for a few days now, and I love this program.

You see, I hate making address book entries. I can't stand the tedium of copying and pasting from one window to the next, one field at a time. I hate keeping address books up to date if it means that much work. It's a computer, forgoshsakes... It shouldn't be that hard.

Home_animThat's why I love what Anagram does - it takes all the work away and makes these business-critical tasks really freakin' fast.

It's hard to explain. It's probably easiest just to show you, so here's some words and pictures.

Below I have an email (yes, one that I sent to myself, don't start with the psychology jokes) with a signature block in it.

Lets say I want to create an address book entry from the email signature data. Until a few days ago, I would highlight, copy the sig lines to the clipboard, and start pasting. I'd probably paste them all into the notes field of an Outlook 2003 contact, then start highlighting and dragging blocks of text.

Anyhow, the first step with Anagram is the same - but after that it's completely different.

First I highlight the block of interesting text. Then, I hit CTRL-C+CTRL-C (that's Control+C two times fast, just like a double-click, only it's a double CTRL-C instead).


and magically, with no more effort, look what pops up on my screen (click to view full-size):


Is that cool or what? No filling in the fields or anything. Nice. And you know what else is cool? You can have Anagram send the info to Outlook, like shown here, or it can send it to or Palm's desktop app. Or, a combination of the three!

So I started diving deeper into the program. Here is what it captures in terms of how the program sees it. Note the direct feedback links and the ability to rescan the text copied as different Outlook items.


Also, note that an Anagram button is added to your Outlook items where applicable:


I choose the mapping option from the Anagram menu, and look what I get (click to view full-size):


Now, that's nice, cool and useful.

But wait, there's more. Ever make airline reservations, receive your flight info in email, and need to get them on your calendar? Ever done it by hand? Yuck, forget that, dude. Anagram to the rescue. Check it out - here's the email:


After double-CTRL-C'ing the thing (we really need a catch-phrase for this), this magically appears:


See - it saw the times listed in the text that was copied and decided to make a calendar item. Now, is that cool or what?

And as I mentioned before, Anagram also uploads contact and other info to and to Palm. It's for many people in many places.

And it's priced to sell at $19.95 a copy, $6.95 to run on an additional computer, and $6.95 a month for the integrated version.

There's also a 45-day free trial available, so you can download and check it out.

By the way - I test tons of software that I never write anything about. It just goes to show that good software can really get someone excited and talking about it eh? Try it yourself, and if you like it, pass the word.

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Office 2003 | Tech
07/23/2005 13:08:49 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Monday, 18 July 2005

Over on the Microsoft Office Assistance web site, there's a great video of Chris Bertelson - an long-time Microsoft employee with lots of experience demonstrating software - navigating his way around the features available in Office OneNote 2003.

  • If you've never seen or used OneNote, this video will show you all kinds of cool things, and gives a great idea of what OneNote is all about.
  • If you're already a OneNote user, don't skip this one! Be prepared to see all sorts of great things that you can add to your personal toolkit to make you a OneNote power user.

This 45-or-so-minute video (see links below) should be mandatory training for OneNote users. It's that good.

I use OneNote every day on my Tablet PC as well as my desktop machine. One thing many people don't realize is that OneNote is not just a Tablet PC application - In fact OneNote was initialy conceived and designed before the Tablet PC was born, and it's a great program for desktops and laptops, too.

Chris covers some serious ground in the video:

And if you want even more detail, check out the webcasts:

The Webcasts of this demo are available on demand. These are generally more in-depth than the demos because they include audience interaction and questions and answers. You can watch them on your own schedule.

07/18/2005 22:07:54 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 01 June 2005

Microsoft just announced that Office 12 files will all be XML-based.

XML: It's not just for InfoPath anymore... From Microsoft Watch:

The new Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats will be designated as .docx, .xlsx and .pptx , respectively. Microsoft is referring to the family of new formats as "Microsoft Office Open XML Formats."

Microsoft is committing to publish the forthcoming XML formats and make them available under the same royalty-free license under which the current Office 2003 file formats are. Licensees will be able to integrate these formats into their servers, applications and business processes "without financial consideration to Microsoft," according to the Redmond software vendor.

Awesome - this is big news, and while some will undoubtedly scoff, this is a great move in a good direction. Integration, integration, integration - EXCELLENT!

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Office 2003 | Tech
06/01/2005 21:34:05 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Monday, 23 May 2005

Shane has started a weblog covering how to customize a SharePoint web site to create a site that provides some form of content management, etc. The first few posts are up, and it looks like it will be a detailed, step-by-step tutorial for people who want to learn something about SharePoint customization.

From his weblog: 

"This entry will likely span into a 4-5 part tutorial on creating a SharePoint site that looks like a 'real' website.

"I'll try and take things step-by-step in creating a "real website" and then converting it into a SharePoint site. I will keep it as simple as possible so that it's relatively easy to follow.

"For anyone that just wants to follow along and get their feet wet I will include everything I've used for the site creation, HTML/Graphics/CSS etc.

"This will be a fairly long post(s) but hopefully if there are a few people out there experiencing the SharePoint (Learning Pains) this should help you.

"I'm going to be fairly in-depth about the entire process of the site creation, covering everything from; brainstorming, what make's sense/what doesn't, sketching, creating the graphics, creating the site, styling the site and finally converting everything to a fully content-managed and dynamically driven SharePoint Site."

Sounds great to me - I've implemented a large number of SharePoint sites, and have done some amount of customization, but I am interested in reading Shane's guide and learning some more. He's also posted a list of what to expect from the tutorial:


Step-by-Step guide on creating a SharePoint website that looks like a "real website".

Things to Cover:

  • Why SharePoint? - Benefits of creating a site based on SharePoint
  • Brainstorming - What's the purpose of the site
  • Planning - Creating a site that works for both the end-user, and the owner
  • Sketches - Laying the groundwork
  • Graphical UI - Bring your sketches to life
  • Initial Site Creation - Setting the stage w/ SharePoint in mind
  • Creating a WSS "SharePoint Site" - The "basic" SharePoint site
  • Setting up the dynamic elements - Lists, Libraries and all that fun stuff!
  • SharePoint Conversion - Turning your site into a SharePoint Site
  • Programming (without a) a Programmer! - Let's bring in those dynamic elements and create some nifty data-views
  • Styling the site (CSS) - Styling the data-views and other elements to be visually appealing
  • Styling the admin pages using "themes" - Step-by-Step on theme setup and customization
  • Backing up your work - Using FrontPage 2003 to backup your work
  • The Final Result! - See, that wasn't so hard now was it!
05/23/2005 07:08:34 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 21 May 2005

Indy_tabletEngadget has a great little article about an Indy 500 racing team's use of OneNote on Tablet PCs in the race pits and planning stages. It's pretty cool what they're doing with technology in auto racing these days. Go check it out.

"... Robertson said they are now recording a driver’s spoken comments about how the car is handling as a Windows Media Audio file and can do a voice overlay within a OneNote document along with a track diagram to show where the car went fast or slow. Such OneNote documents can be instant messaged to engineers back at the garages and stored for future use ...

... He said OneNote is useful in creating reports and presentations that combine computer-aided design (CAD) drawings, data from the on-board data logging systems, and engineering notes with information gathered from various sources, such as photos of necessary parts from catalogues, on the Internet."

[Read the story at Engadget]

05/21/2005 10:28:10 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Monday, 02 May 2005
Lots and lots of SharePoint Portal Server related live webcasts coming up - here's a list of all the sessions (many are repeated): (click for the list)
05/02/2005 09:58:56 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 30 April 2005

I frequently get asked, "Do I have to install Visio just to view a Visio diagram someone sent me?" or "I don't want to install Office on this computer - where can I get the viewer program for PowerPoint files?"

And sometimes people are looking for file version/type converters because someone sends them a file created with a different version of an Office application.

  • Converters allow you to open files created by people using different versions of your Office programs.
  • Viewers provide a means for people who don't have Office programs to see your work. You can provide them with the appropriate viewer along with your Office files.

Both are useful and requests from all sort of people seem to come up every now and then.

So, here's a one-stop place at to download the latest versions of Microsoft's free Office viewer and converters. Or, just click below:

Access viewers

Excel converters and viewers

Outlook converters and viewers

PowerPoint converters and viewers

Microsoft Project converters

Visio converters and viewers

Word converters and viewers

Converters and viewers for Macintosh users

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Office 2003 | Tech
04/30/2005 12:12:59 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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Microsoft on Friday released Live Communication Server 2005 Service Pack One (SP1), which is a free update that incorporates some important new and enhanced features as well as security changes:

Download links:

More information:

04/30/2005 11:24:17 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Tuesday, 05 April 2005

If you're looking to learn about SharePoint Portal Server 2003 for the first time, or if you'd like to get some hands-on experience with a system that you can break and not have to worry about as you ramp up on the technology, check out the TechNet Virtual Labs offer for SPS 2003.

It's a good resource for people who want to learn in detail from the comfort of their own desk chair.

TechNet Virtual Lab: Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003

Get first-hand deployment experience through the Virtual Lab series. The Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 hands-on labs will teach you how to set up the portal, organize content on the portal, manage user permissions, create Web Parts for custom tasks, and much more.

It's simple — no complex setup or installation is required to try SharePoint Portal Server running in the full-featured TechNet Virtual Lab. You get a downloadable manual and a 90-minute block of time for each module. You can sign up for additional 90-minute blocks anytime.

As part of the TechNet Virtual Lab, you will have full access to SharePoint Portal Server's features and tools through ten modules:

04/05/2005 00:25:39 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Monday, 04 April 2005

Oh, how I wish this SharePoint podcast series was available in English! But, it's only in German. I know some German (took three years classes in school), and I have been listening to it and trying really hard to pick up the content of the podcast, with little success. I'm just too out-of-date to be able to catch it all. - with Michael Greth

The only thing I can tell for sure is that there's plenty of info in there that I'd like to be able to understand better, so I am relying on the links on the weblog to help me understand more. I'm also looking at this as a way to help refresh my German (maybe, it's tech lingo so that can be difficult) before my trip to Germany this fall.

Anyone know of any SharePoint podcasts in English? Hmmmm, maybe I should think about podcasting after all... Anyone out there want to co-host a SharePoint podcast?

04/04/2005 22:01:30 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 12 March 2005

Got a PowerPoint presentation that just doesn't fulfill its "Power" requirements?

Cliff Atkinson, author of the book "Beyond Bullet Points," has written a post seeking volunteers who want to take their PowerPoint presentations from typical and run-of-the-mill variety to something truly effective and powerful:

"Are you ready to transform one of your presentations Beyond Bullet Points? If you have an existing PowerPoint file and you want to liberate the great story buried deep beneath all those lines of text, drop me a note and tell me about it.

"I'll review the applications and select a few presentations that represent a range of professions and purposes. If your presentation is selected, all you need is a copy of my book to guide you through the details of the process, along with your critical thinking and creative skills. The other resources we'll use are free, and we'll find graphics from free or low-cost sources, or we'll make them ourselves.

"The one condition is that you are fine with making all of your presentation materials freely available for other people to see through the course of the public makeover - we'll even ask blog readers for their comments and suggestions."

Cool idea! If you're interested, contact Cliff though his weblog - the post is here.

03/12/2005 08:15:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 04 March 2005

From Microsoft, news announcing SQL Reporting Services SP2, which will include two web parts for SharePoint 2003 that can be used for displaying reports in the SharePoint portal or site:

Along with security and product enhancements, SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services SP2 will include two SharePoint® Web Parts, which enable users to explore and view reports located on a report server through Windows® SharePoint Services or SharePoint Portal Server. The Web Parts will make it easy for customers to build business intelligence (BI) portals with SharePoint that include Reporting Services reports. This, in turn, will give their end users access to their enterprise information from one seamless interface. SP2 also will support a rich client-side report printing experience directly from Microsoft Internet Explorer, so customers can quickly print their reports by clicking on a single button.

Good move. One of SharePoint's strongest points is that it can act as a "one-stop-shop" for finding, aggregating, viewing and using information across a company or organization, usable by both individuals and groups. The more web parts are made available to do this kind of thing out of the box, the better. It should be a requirement for any Microsoft business product, I think, and other companies should follow suit.a

03/04/2005 06:25:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 29 January 2005

Microsoft has opened up the Office document formats and made them available for the world to see.

The Schemas provide developers and representatives of business and government a standard way to store and exchange data stored in documents. The download contains documentation on a number of XML schemas for Microsoft® Office 2003 Editions including:

  • Microsoft Office Word 2003
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2003
  • Microsoft Office InfoPath® 2003
  • and Microsoft Office Visio® 2003

It also includes schema information for:

  • Microsoft Office OneNote® 2003
  • Microsoft Office Project 2003
  • and Microsoft Office Research Services

Download the schemas and documentation and read the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas Frequently Asked Questions.

News coverage from TechWorld:

"The move puts Microsoft on a better footing to compete against open-source applications and non-proprietary document formats. Governments around the world have begun to reconsider the use of proprietary formats, which usually lock them into using particular applications and may hinder archiving efforts.

"Microsoft Office formats have become a de facto standard, one of the factors making it difficult for organisations to use alternative applications."

(via Robert Scoble)

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Office 2003 | Tech
01/29/2005 23:36:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 20 January 2005
Yesterday I mentioned a commercial announcement by a company that had released an IFilter for CHM files. A reader, Sean, pointed out that there was another IFilter available for that file format - for free. It had been a month or more since I last Googled for the term, so I updated the post (thanks, Sean) and and started looking at the most recent information on the 'net in the IFilter area. If you know of more/other resources, please comment below and let me know.

Full-text indexing of files on a computer system allows the user to search for information on a computer, and for that search to extend into the files themselves. Because many computer files that contain text are actually proprietary in format, it can be difficult to "read" the content of those files. File formats need to be optimized for applications, but we need a way to get the text content out, so we can search across multiple file types to find information without having to root through files one by one.

Enter the IFilter. On Windows, IFilters are special little programs that contain the information needed to pull the text content from these proprietary files. Once you get the data out, you can work with it in a number of ways.

Now, remember that I'm not a developer, I'm a business-process guy, so keep that in mind when reading this explanation of IFilters and how they are used.

Q: What's an IFilter?

IFilters are special DLLs used by Windows applications to index the content of specific types of files. From the Microsoft Platform SDK Indexing Service document:

"The IFilter interface scans documents for text and properties (also called attributes). It extracts chunks of text from these documents, filtering out embedded formatting and retaining information about the position of the text ... IFilter provides the foundation for building higher-level applications such as document indexers and application-independent viewers."

Q: Where and when are IFilters used?

There's been some new activity in this are, likely as the result of the release of the MSN Desktop Search tool (which uses IFilters to index files) and the fact that SQL 2005 will be coming soon. IFilters can be leveraged by any application that calls them, and they are typically used to generate an index of information that users can then search through to find information. That's how the Indexing Service on your Windows desktop machine works, for example, and these other Microsoft applications use IFilter to generate their search indexes:

  • MSN Desktop Search
  • SharePoint Portal Server
  • Windows SharePoint Services
  • SQL Server 2000 and 2005
  • Indexing Services

Those are not the only apps that use IFilters - but they are good representative examples.

Applications typically call the IFilter DLLs and then use them to examine the content of files stored on a computer. The information that comes from the IFilter is used to build a searchable text index that correlates to the discovered content back to its source. From there an application can allow the user to query the index.

Q: What IFilters are available?

Nothing beats a good Google search for finding the latest and greatest, but the Channel 9 wiki has a useful page listing a variety of IFilters and how to find them.

Q: How can I tell what IFilters are installed on my system?

A newer (and free) application from Citeknet called IFilter Explorer will let you see what all is installed on your computer, with more information than the average person will likely need. Developers who need to work with IFilters will find the information very useful in its detail.

If you know of other IFilter resources or facts, please comment here or post them on the Channel 9 wiki to share with others.

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Office 2003 | OneNote | Tech
01/20/2005 08:45:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 19 January 2005

Finally!!! I have been struggling with the fact that there has never been an IFilter available for CHM (Microsoft compiled help) files. But now there is!

UPDATED INFO: Apparently there is another relatively new freeware CHM IFilter avalable in addition to the commercial one mentioned below. I have not had a chance to check it out, and documentation is pretty much non-existant on the web site, but check out Citeknet. They have a CHM IFilter, a tool called IFilter Explorer that you can use to examine your system's IFilters, and a bunch of other IFilters (CAB, CHM, HLP, MHT, ZIP) on their web site. Thanks to Sean for the comment and the pointer - I stand corrected. I think IFilters in general deserve another post here (click to read the followup), especially with the genesis of these new desktop search applications and new activity/interest in IFilters in general.

If you use a system that can leverage IFilters to index or discover the content inside of proprietary files (systems like SharePoint or Windows built-in search, for example), this is for you. There are IFilters for all kinds of binary formats, such as PDF, TIFF files with optical character recognition (OCR), etc... And now, CHM!

In fact, IFilterShop has a whole slew of filters for sale:

  • CHM IFilter
  • MindManager IFilter
  • Inventor IFilter
  • WMV/WMA IFilter
  • SHTML IFilter
  • WF IFilter
  • Msg IFilter
  • PDF+ IFilter
  • Zip IFilter
  • XMP IFilter
  • StarOffice IFilter
  • OpenOffice IFilter
  • vCard IFilter

There are also a whole bunch of free IFilters available on the Internet.

Here is the official announcement:

IFilterShop releases CHM IFilter 1.0

IFilterShop is pleased to announce the release of new product CHM IFilter.

CHM IFilter extends Microsoft Indexing Service to extract content from Compiled HTML Help (CHM) documents. Microsoft HTML Help is Microsoft's online Help authoring system. It is designed for use by authors or developers who create Help for software programs, multimedia titles, intranets, extranets, or the Internet. CHM IFilter makes Microsoft HTML Help files instantly searchable in all products built on Microsoft Search technology.

For more information, please visit our website at:

(ED: removed direct reference to .exe file)

01/19/2005 14:31:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 31 December 2004

Nick Finck has just released a more finalized set of Visio Stencils for Information Architects. He says anyone can feel free to download use and tweak to their heart's content. He’ll be making updates to the files over time so check back every so often to see if there is a newer version out.

They work in Microsoft Office Visio 2003. Not older versions.

His IA stencils are in broken down into three types/files:

  • Wireframe Stencil
  • Sitemap Stencil
  • Process Flow Stencil

Nice stuff – will be useful to have for work. Thanks Nick.

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Office 2003 | Tech
12/31/2004 02:14:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 15 December 2004

Are you a Microsoft OneNote user? I am – big time. If you’re getting started with OneNote and are interested in learning some of the basics about how to use OneNote to be productive and organized, you might want to check out this webcast, scheduled for December 21st:

Microsoft Office System Webcast: OneNote Tips and Tricks (Level 100)
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
9:00–10:00 A.M. Pacific Time, United States and Canada (UTC-8)
Join this webcast and learn how to flag notes, manage pages and sections, and use stationery and outlines in e-mail and other Office applications.

12/15/2004 22:30:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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If you’re someone who needs or wants to learn more about InfoPath (an addition to the Office suite in the 2003 version) and building some really cool XML forms, you’re in luck.

“Create dynamic interactive forms in an advanced XML forms editor that feature strong validation with built-in business rules and use them to collect, re-purpose, and present data throughout the organization. Use existing data schemas, Web services, and XML data to create solutions without complex data mapping. Use point-and-click integration with back-end systems and take advantage of "silent" deployments and version upgrades via simple centralized management.”

A series of recent webcasts, Understanding InfoPath, is available now for on-demand viewing. Titles include:

Best Practices for Designing InfoPath Forms
Level 200 - Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Presented by Scott Roberts, Software Design Engineer, Microsoft Corporation

User Roles in InfoPath 2003
Level 200 - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Presented by Josh Bertsch, Software Test Engineer, Microsoft Corporation

Building Advanced Dynamic Solutions in InfoPath 2003
Level 200 - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Jun Jin, Software Design Engineer, Microsoft Corporation

Business Logic in InfoPath 2003
Level 300 - Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Presented by Yuet (Emily) Ching and Prachi Bora, Software Test Engineers, Microsoft Corporation

Using Managed Code and Visual Studio to Build Solutions
Level 300 - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Presented by Willson Raj David, Software Design Engineer, Microsoft Corporation

InfoPath in End-to-End Enterprise Solutions: Integrating InfoPath with Siebel and SAP
Level 300 - Monday, November 2, 2004 - 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Presented by Hagen Green, Software Test Engineer, Microsoft Corporation

Digital Signatures in InfoPath 2003
Level 300 - Monday, November 15, 2004 - 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Presented by Mihaela Cristina Cris, Software Test Engineer, Microsoft Corporation

Creating Custom Controls for InfoPath SP1
Level 400 - Monday, November 29, 2004 - 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Presented by Andrew Ma, Software Test Engineer, Microsoft Corporation

Programming Workflow into InfoPath Solutions: Using InfoPath with BizTalk Server 2004 and Human Workflow Services
Level 400 - Monday, December 6, 2004 - 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Presented by Rick Severson, Software Test Engineer, Microsoft Corporation

Database Connectivity in InfoPath Through ADO.NET DataSet Support
Level 400 - Monday, December 14, 2004 - 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Presented by Mikhail Vassiliev, Software Design Engineer, Microsoft Corporation

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Office 2003 | Tech
12/15/2004 22:15:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Lots of Microsoft downloads recently it seems… Catching up…

If you have a Tablet PC and use Office 2003, Microsoft has released an update that you need to download and install. The update improves recognition of “inked” handwriting in Office 2003 applications, including:

  • Microsoft Office 2003
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2003
  • Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003
  • Microsoft Office OneNote 2003
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003
  • Microsoft Office Word 2003

Get the update patch here.

12/15/2004 21:32:26 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 12 December 2004

If you’ve worked on rebranding (to any significant extent) SharePoint Portal Server 2003, you know how difficult it can be to feel confident in what you’re actually doing, due mostly to the lack of documentation on the subject.

Well, Microsoft has released two papers on the Office Developer Center to help:

  • Branding a SharePoint Portal Server 2003 Site:
    • Part 1, Understanding the Use of a Corporate Brand
      Learn what it means to "brand" a SharePoint Portal Server site, and about the different types of branding you can apply to a portal site to reflect an organization's identity.
    • Part 2, How to Apply Your Own Corporate Brand
      Through step-by-step examples of the typical tasks involved in branding a Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server site, learn to change the standard banner, introduce a custom style sheet, and enhance the user experience of your portal site through interface, navigation, and page layout changes.
12/12/2004 10:31:26 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 04 December 2004

Tariq’s new SharePoint Tools Galore list is a great resource for people who work with WSS and SharePoint Portal Server. He lists a ton of third party and other tools for use with SharePoint. Check it out:

Also – Joris Poelmans updates the list:

Not sure if or where this will actually “live,” but it’s a great start.

For my part – I can tell you that TeamPlate for .NET is very powerful and interesting when plugged into SharePoint and elsewhere, and they have a new version about to come out.

12/04/2004 11:05:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 18 October 2004

Microsoft has published 2005 calendar templates for Word, Excel, FrontPage and PowerPoint:

10/18/2004 19:59:51 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Thursday, 23 September 2004

I know he didn't mean to (so I won't act all flattered or smug or anything), but Robert Scoble just sort of summed up the better part of my topic/category list for this-here-blog of mine, over on his blog...

I thought it would be interesting to compare his list of cool upcoming topics for the future to what's categorized or searchable right now on my site. So, I did just that and have added the links, below. Not a bad start, and it points out to me where I am falling shorter than I had realized in my content. Hey Robert, thanks for the copy. :-)

“For the next 18 months, where are the business opportunities going to lie? Tablet PC. Bigtime. Windows Media Center. Gonna be a big deal. SmartPhones. Wanna watch how fast the Motorola MPX220 sells when it's released in the next few months? Xbox Live. You only need to say one number and everyone knows exactly the Xbox thing I'm talking about: "2." Visual Studio 2005. Tons of stuff coming there. MSN has a whole raft of things up their sleeves. And we haven't even started talking about BizTalk, SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server, 64-bit Windows, SBS, CRM, LiveMeeting, and OneNote, among other things.”

It also gives me a gut-check on my existing blog categories. Here they are, with the ones that apply to this posting checked:

09/23/2004 07:51:30 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Monday, 20 September 2004

Starting in October and running into mid-December, MSDN will have a whole slew of Infopath webcasts going on. One of Office 2003's best kept secrets (and that is not necessarily a good thing), this program provides a powerful front end to designing, creating and using XML forms.





Best Practices for Designing InfoPath Forms

Scott Roberts

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

9:00 AM-10:30 AM

User Roles in InfoPath 2003

Josh Bertsch

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

9:00 AM-10:30 AM

Building Advanced Dynamic Solutions in InfoPath 2003

Jun Jin

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

9:00 AM-10:30 AM

Business Logic in InfoPath 2003

Yuet (Emily) Ching and Prachi Bora

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

11:00 AM-12:30 PM

Using Managed Code and Visual Studio to Build Solutions

Willson Raj David

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

1:00 PM-2:00 PM

InfoPath in End-to-End Enterprise Solutions: Integrating InfoPath with Siebel and SAP

Hagen Green

Monday, November 08, 2004

11:00 AM-12:30 PM

Digital Signatures in InfoPath 2003

Mihaela Cristina Cris

Monday, November 15, 2004

11:00 AM-12:30 PM

Creating Custom Controls for InfoPath SP-1

Andrew Ma

Monday, November 29, 2004

11:00 AM-12:30 PM

Programming Workflow into InfoPath Solutions: Using InfoPath with BizTalk Server 2004 and Human Workflow Services

Rick Severson

Monday, December 06, 2004

11:00 AM-12:30 PM

Database Connectivity in InfoPath Through ADO.NET DataSet Support

Mikhail Vassiliev

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

11:00 AM-12:30 PM

All times are Pacific Daylight Time (UTC–07:00) until Oct 31, and Pacific Standard Time (UTC–08:00) on and after Oct 31st.

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Office 2003 | Tech
09/20/2004 22:39:23 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 08 September 2004

The awesome and bloggerific KC Lemson points to a Knowledge Base article that describes how to tell Internet Explorer to leave your Office documents and files alone when you're opening them from a web server via hyperlink. We use SharePoint where I work, and it can be downright annoying at times when a document opens in-line in Internet Explorer when what I really want is for it to open in the application that was used to create it.

This is easy but good stuff - excerpt from the KB article:

To configure Internet Explorer to open Office files in the appropriate Office program by using the Folder Options tool:

  1. Open My Computer.
  2. On the Tools menu (or the View menu), click Folder Options (or click Options).
  3. Click the File Types tab.
  4. In the Registered file types list, click the specific Office document type (for example, Microsoft Excel Worksheet), and then click Advanced (or click Edit).
  5. In the Edit File Type dialog box, click to clear the Browse in same window check box (or click to clear the Open Web documents in place check box).
  6. Click OK.
09/08/2004 22:49:35 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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I received an email this evening announcing that SharePoint Experts has just released PowerUndelete for WSS:

"Whenever someone deletes a list item, or a document from a document library, PowerUndelete captures it and stores it in an "Undelete bin". End users are empowered to "undelete" their own documents, saving the support desk from the trials of recovering files and list items from database backups."

Very cool - this is promising stuff. I have not been able to try it yet (but may do so once I can see it in action). A video demo showing the product will be made available within the next day or two. You can get more information on the SharePoint Experts web site. They have a few different add-on enhancements available for SharePoint.

09/08/2004 21:36:17 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 28 August 2004

This is not exactly breaking news, since it was officially announced a few weeks ago, but I neglected to point out at the time that Microsoft dropped the retail price of their OneNote 2003 software to $99 early in August, with similar reductions in other currencies worldwide.

See Chris Pratley's weblog announcement for more info. Chris is the Group Program Manager at Microsoft for Office Authoring Services, and as such is a member of the OneNote team. His blog is a terrific resource and insightful read, by the way.

Don't have OneNote yet? Want to buy a copy of OneNote for yourself, your new college student, or someone else? Hey, you just can't beat the price now. If you really want to make someone crazy who desperately deserves it (and have a little fun with a colleague of mine at the same time), call Scott Rommel at Softchoice, at 503-241-6554, and order a copy directly from him on the phone. Tell him Greg said to call and you're looking for the extra-special price, and he'll take care of you. :-)

Oh and no, I won't get anything in return for software orders placed through Scott. All I get out of it is a good laugh at the calls he'll get from you. That's all I really need. DOPS attack! (Denial Of Phone Service, that is).

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Office 2003 | OneNote | Tech
08/28/2004 14:20:45 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 28 July 2004

Yesterday Microsoft kicked OneNote SP1 out the door, and today we already have the first two new PowerToys for OneNote 2003 SP1. Note that the SP1 release provides a sort of plugin-in interface to OneNote that allows people to build interfaces that let OneNote interoperate with other programs - and you'll need to install the service pack before you can use these new apps.

And, apparently there will be more to come!

From Chris Pratley's weblog:

You can check out the PowerToys page (may not be up just yet if you're reading this post July 27-28):

Or go directly to these download pages to get the first two PowerToys:

IE to OneNote. This PowerToy adds a button to IE that lets you send any page or a selection on a page to OneNote. You get the same results as a copy/paste would give you, but you can do it all in one click. It also nicely puts the clippings in a single section so you can browse and clip, browse and clip. Then review your research later, complete with links back to the source pages. Link:

Outlook to OneNote. This PowerToy adds a button to Outlook so that you can send any email message (or group of email messages if you multi-select) to OneNote to keep them together with notes and other docs. Very handy if you like to have a “project folder” section in OneNote that keeps all your stuff together in an easy to flip through and modify/reuse format.

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Office 2003 | OneNote | Tech
07/28/2004 07:26:05 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Microsoft has release Office 2003 SP1 (which includes InfoPath SP1) as well as OneNote SP1 (which is a separate download). Bug fixes, security improvements, and enhanced functionality abound. Be sure to read the release notes and linked web pages/articles before you download and install, especially if you have a pre-release version installed. Also note that you may be required to provide the original CD, depending on how you installed the software in the first place.

If your software is centrally managed and installed over a network, don't install these files yourself unless they specifically tell you to do so - Your IT department will need to update their network installation points and push the updates out (once they test and make sure all is well, of course).

Regular users of Office 2003 can also just browse to the Office Update site and use the “Check for Updates” link provided there. An ActiveX control will install and check to see what software is installed on your computer that requires updating, and then it will download and install the updates for you.

Note: The links below provided by Microsoft on their web pages to the related Knoledge Base articles and related web pages are not active as of the time of this writing, and they have not yet updated the Office Resource Kit Administration site. Those links shoudl become active shortly.

Office 2003 Service Pack 1 contains significant security enhancements, in addition to stability and performance improvements. Service Pack 1 (SP1) also includes many performance and feature enhancements to Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003. Some of the fixes included with SP1 have been previously released as separate updates. This service pack combines them into one update. You can get specific information about this update in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article (842532): Description of Office 2003 Service Pack 1UPDATE: Those who control Office 2003 with Windows Group Policy will want to get the updated Administrative Template (ADM) files.

OneNote 2003 Service Pack 1 contains new features and significant security enhancements, in addition to stability and performance improvements. You can get specific information about this update in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article (842774): Description of OneNote 2003 Service Pack 1. I also posted a list of changes and enhancements back when the OneNote team released a preview version of OneNote SP1, but note that the final version may contain additions/changes. You might also be interested in reading Chris Pratley's blog - he writes a lot about the OneNote team and the evolution of their product. His blog was one source of ideas that were funneled into the product team for potential future enhancements.

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Office 2003 | OneNote | Tech
07/27/2004 08:24:39 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Friday, 16 July 2004

I spent some time today trying to figure out why PowerPoint 2003 was throwing errors when trying to open a file that was created on a PPT 2003 system, edited by a consultant off-site, and emailed back to a staff member, where it conveniently and immediately broke.

The error displayed when trying to open the PowerPoint file indicated that a part of the file appeared to be missing. I had seen this error before, back when PowerPoint XP was brand new and in beta, when trying to open a file that was generated in the new version of the application but then edited in an older version (like PPT2000 for example) and shipped back to the original owner.

The knowledge base didn't really get me any further than my memory did, but it turns out there was a patch released for Office 2003 that puts functionality in place to work around the fact that the consultant had edited the PPT 2003 file in PPT 2000. It's available from Office Online in the downloads section.

Now, it's nice to have the patch/fix, but since it's more of a high-quality band-aid than a true solution, we will be upgrading the consultant's computer the next time he's in the office.

Remember one thing: It's never considered to be in keeping with best practices to edit files in multiple/different versions of Office programs, especially when it can be avoided, and especially in those programs that do a lot of multimedia and embedded content (PowerPoint, Word, Excel). You may not always know the problem exists (like in this case where the consultant is using their own computer system and working off-site), but if you do know it's just not worth the risk or the software savings to use the older version: It costs more in lost time to report, troubleshoot and fix the problem than it costs to install the right software.

Lesson learned: When a consultant comes on site, be proactive and make the time to ask them briefly about what they will be doing with any shared computer files and what programs they will be using while they work. Had I done that in the first place, the problem would have been resolved before it ever happened.

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Office 2003 | Tech
07/16/2004 22:47:52 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Sunday, 11 July 2004

Over at there's an article describing surprise in some circles that Office 12 won't be married to the Longhorn release of Windows.

What people may not remember is that Office 2003 (AKA Office 11 - the current version) was originally planned to release with what would become Longhorn (back in the day), and that as the Longhorn release has changed over time, that relationship was also broken off well before it reached the altar.

The fact that Microsoft keeps its productivity apps moving while building a healthy platform for them to run on - In other words not gluing them to each other - is a good thing. Longhorn will be a monster-sized change in the Windows operating system world, and while Microsoft will almost certainly build special hooks into Office 12 that will take advantage of Longhorn's new features when(ever) it's released, I'd expect (based on my conversations) that another version of Office will soon follow or parallel the Longhorn release, but Office 12 will include some pre-baked Longhorn capabilities. Besides, they'll have to support previous versions of Windows for at least some time, in order to allow people to properly interoperate.

Longhorn will be to Windows XP and 2003 what Windows 95 was to Windows 3.1 -- It will be huge, a major change in the way we use computing power from both the end-user and programming/design perspectives. Longhorn represents the next paradigm shift in the Windows computer world, if you will.

Microsoft now does a better job of quickly finishing better and more-frequent releases of their software. In-house quality assurance and release management tools implemented in the past year or two help them reach bug-free, clean code state ("Milestone Q") faster and with greater confidence, which better enables them to get products ready and out the door, with more features and fewer problems. It also enables them to switch gears and attack issues in existing products ruthlessly when needed.

I, for one, am glad we won't have to wait for Longhorn to keep growing and improving in areas like Office and some of the other productivity applications. New versions of Office mean we can reasonably hope for new or enhanced versions of other Office System tools, which we know are coming - specifically tools like Live Communication Server (look for some very cool and improved features there in the next couple of releases), SharePoint, Exchange and other Office System products on the server-side. Longhorn should be the platform to beat all platforms from a computing perspective, and other applications should be built to fit when Longhorn is ready (meaning feature-completed, tested and secured in a way that Microsoft has never done before). To do otherwise would be akin to the tail wagging the dog, and that just won't do.

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Office 2003 | Tech
07/11/2004 12:03:23 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 10 July 2004

A simple online web service allows you to take a Word-HTML file and clean it up quite a bit. Nifty:

"This is intended for fairly basic styled text documents; there is no support for notes, sectioning, ‘widow’ and ‘orphan’ control, etc. Typographic quotes, proper dashes and other special characters, if they exist, will be converted to HTML entities to increase their portability among browsers and platforms. Links, tables and image references should come through fine. Everything else is stripped."

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Office 2003 | Tech
07/10/2004 11:21:57 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Friday, 02 July 2004

A friend recently turned me on to a very cool program - It's a plug-in for Outlook 2000 or later that adds a whole bunch of new features and checks-and-balances that get executed every time you send or receive an email.

Image borrowed from Chris Sells - click to view his comments on the subject.Have you ever sent an email where you told the recipient to "See attached," but forgot to actually attach the file? Ever sent a reply-to-all without realizing you were BCC'ed - only to embarrass yourself or the sender of the original file? Ever forget to reply to all when you should have? Sent huge attachments without realizing how big they were? Sent an email containing angry or inappropriate words, only to regret it later? Chris Sells' image at right explains the potential problem clearly.

LookOut! for Outlook solves these problems. It pretty much does what the humorous picture above depicts. It also allows you to establish a company central database to store contact information, so you can keep track of client communications. And a lot more.

I have been using LookOut! for about a week, and I love it. Just this evening it asked me if I meant to attach a file to an email on which I had just clicked the "Send" button, but where I had forgotten to do so:

Rule: Attachment Word Warning
You mentioned the word 'attach' somewhere in your email, but there are no attachments.

I was then able to choose from options to send the email anyway, or to fix my mistake before sending. Nice.

Now that I've been using it for a little while, I don't think I can put it away - it's just too darn useful and makes too much sense to just stop using it. And that, my friends, is the first sign of really good software.

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Office 2003 | Tech
07/02/2004 21:01:21 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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Serge van den Oever suggests using an inexpensive commercial product called WebDrive to connect to SharePoint document libraries and sites via WebDav (note that you can also use WebDrive to connect to other types of servers with a drive letter, as well - WebDrive can connect to WebDAV, FTP, SFTP, and HTTP Servers supporting Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions). See Serge's site for more details about using it with SharePoint:

WebDrive: Accessing SharePoint document libraries through drive letters

I downloaded the trial version and was immediately able to map W: to a document library on MySite on the portal server at work, over a VPN connection, using WebDav. I then transferred files, made sure they work on both ends, ran through the site to make sure everything's operating properly -- It works great!

This will be useful for people who need to map SharePoint "drives" from Windows 2000 or other OS versions, and provides a solid way to repeatedly reconnect drives at login, manage drive-letter connections, etc. On top of using WebDav, you can also connect via FP extensions, FTP, SFTP (SSH), and GroupDrive protocols.

Add WebDrive to the list of useful tools for the SharePoint power user - especially if you're running a version of Windows prior to WinXP and need drive/folder-level access to SharePoint 2003 sites.

07/02/2004 18:43:16 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Monday, 28 June 2004

Evan Feldman has written an interesting article about the process of field trials during the initial development of the Tablet PC. We've deployed more than 50 tablet PC's at the company where I work, and as the guy responsible for that decision (read: they guy whose neck is hanging out), I can say that I have heard the same concerns and have seen the same "celebrity" status (whether right or wrong) attached to using one of these truly nifty devices.

Ultimately, what matters most is finding and implementing a tool that makes people more effective and productive. Among other recent technologies we've deployed, the Tablet is one that is starting to show us its unique ability to help people become more flexible and effective in their day-to-day work. I'll be shocked if Tablet PC functionality doesn't eventually become commonplace or even standard in notebook computers - it just makes sense.

Tablet PCs, OneNote, SharePoint Portal and Windows SharePoint Services, Office System 2003, Live Communication Server, Exchange 2003, and much more -- It's been quite a year for those of us at work behind the scenes. What I especially appreciate is the noticeable improvement in quality in all of these product areas with new version releases, and the resulting increases in use and adoption by end users.

Personally, I've used a Tablet PC since the first models were released commercially more than a year and a half ago, and I'm lucky enough to be in a position where I get to (or unlucky enough to have to, depending on your point of view) test new equipment and software in the process of deciding how, when and whether we should use them at our company. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next in the Tablet world -- There's plenty of room and opportunity for this platform to grow, and the potential is certainly great.

06/28/2004 23:26:56 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 23 June 2004

Many are not aware that in PowerPoint 2003 (and 2002/XP) there is a feature available called Presenter View, which allows you to use your computer's multi-monitor capability to better control your presentations.

In order to use presenter view, your computer must meet the following requirements:

  • The computer must have multiple monitor capability - check with the manufacturer about this if you're not sure. Usually desktop computers require two video cards in order to have multiple monitor capability; laptops often have the capability built in.
  • The computer must be running an operating system that supports multiple displays, such as Windows 98, Windows 2000, or Windows XP (or later).
  • Multiple monitor support must be enabled by setting the display options. In Control Panel, click the Display icon.
  • Presenter view must be turned on in PowerPoint.

Basically you just set up your second monitor in the display settings and check the "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor" box. Then in PowerPoint, follow the menus to set up the slide show (Slide show... Set up show...), and in the multiple monitors section, choose the extended monitor (your projector output) as the device on which to place the slides, then check the box to indicate you want to use the presenter view.

There you have it: One monitor with your notes and controls, and the other for your audience with just the slides. Cool stuff.

06/23/2004 22:13:03 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 16 June 2004
Chris Pratley asks: How do you use OneNote? From his weblog site:

"Although we have several different ways to collect information about how OneNote is used, I am always interested to hear how people use it. And this forum provides an opportunity for a dialog that our other data collection systems don’t really provide. So, let's hear it. How do you use OneNote? How is your notebook organized? What do you do with it? Would you prefer a different type of organization, or even a different concept for OneNote besides a tabbed notebook?"

He goes on to describe how he uses it, how he organizes his OneNote notebooks, and then lists some of the things he doesn't relaly like about his organizational method and its use.

Chris is asking for real-world feedback here. If you're a user of OneNote, take the time to describe for him and his readers - via a comment on his blog entry - how you use the program in your daily life. He wants to hear from others, so this is your chance!

06/16/2004 07:08:04 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Wednesday, 12 May 2004

Office 2003, SharePoint, etc. Things you never knew or might not otherwise find:

MSFT tool to remove hidden history and collab data from Office documents - A couple of months ago Microsoft released a nifty tool that will permanently remove hidden and collaboration data, such as change tracking and comments, from Word 2003/XP, Excel 2003/XP, and PowerPoint 2003/XP files. When you distribute an Office document electronically, the document might contain information that you do not want to share publicly, such as information you’ve designated as “hidden” or information that allows you to collaborate on writing and editing the document with others. Before you email that doc to your customer or partner, or post it to a web site, run this tool and clean things up.

A couple of quick ways to stay up-to-date on SharePoint resources and information - Check out these resources if you're interested in SharePoint Portal or WSS 2003 - good stuff to be found:

I'll post a more complete OPML file sometime soon.

05/12/2004 09:08:25 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Monday, 26 April 2004

The other day I was trying to get a OneNote blog post to work, and had some problematic results. True to OneNote team style, Peter Baer with Microsoft emailed me directly and asked me to send him the .one file that was causing problems. So, I did and he wrote back (quoted with permission):

“I can repro the bug as well, using your file.  I’ll look into it – great bug, I don’t think we've seen this before.”

“Great bug.” Now, there's something you don't hear too often. But if you think about it, a bug is either a lump of coal or a nugget of gold, and it's all in the approach. I like the gold approach, myself. :-)

I also inquired about whether there was an ability to control whether or not OneNote does text-to-graphic conversion - sort of a way to tell OneNote not to convert no matter what. I pointed out to Peter that I had seen different results publishing from OneNote to email vs. doing a copy-paste from OneNote. Peter's reply was interesting, and sheds some light on the way OneNote deals with HTML content:

“As to your question: no, you can’t control it directly, but we do produce different HTML when copying to the clipboard vs. publishing to an MHTML file or email.  The in the 'publish' case, we attempt to preserve the original 2D layout as much as possible – hence the possible conversion of text to graphics, absolute positioning of divs, etc.  In the 'clipboard' case, because our main target destination apps are traditional word processors, we produce serialized content – mostly out of simplicity, since we don’t know just how the user will want to repurpose the data (and if the user really wants WYSIWYG fidelity, she can insert it as a picture).  So in that case, all text (including recognized ink) really will appear as text.”

That makes good sense, and the fact that Peter took the time to interact was really very cool. OneNote has quickly become a powerful and useful application that seems to care about its users just as much as its users care about it.

All this brings me to my real point: I have recently come to realize that the OneNote application itself is my second-favorite thing about OneNote.

The OneNote team at Microsoft is my first. I've learned more from meeting smart people at conferences, reading truly interesting blogs and using their application than from any other Microsoft program.

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Office 2003 | OneNote | Tech
04/26/2004 20:55:59 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 24 April 2004

First Glance at the OneNote SP1 Preview

Saturday, April 24, 2004

11:40 AM



So, I figured I'd just jump in and take a first look at the new OneNote SP1 Preview and see what stands out. So far, a lot. Too much to play with this morning, and some of it I'll need to try at work with the team.


The above image was clipped directly into OneNote using the new "Capture Screen Clipping" tool, which lets you activate the function, and then use the pen or mouse to drag a rectangle around what you want captured. The clip is saved to the memory clipboard and/or to a SideNote (your choice).


Sharing with Others:


This is a big improvement area, and I think it will be a popular item in the future where I work. The previous OneNote email capabilities appear to be improved, as are the SharePoint capabilities, and newly added in this preview release are Shared Sessions - live note-taking sessions on the network between multiple participants. Password protect the sessions if  necessary, and share the OneNote sections relevant to your need. Chris Pratley described it well in a web log entry he made describing the new preview release: See


Audio and Video recording:


Support for webcams is added (uses WinMedia 8 and 9 codecs configured for typical PocketPC optimization, but you can tweak that, too). Found some weird behavior in the video player interface, but hey, it's complicated and this is a preview release. But at least people who care can see my cat (see below for the video file). :-)


Video recording started: 11:49 AM Saturday, April 24, 2004


Integration with Other Devices/Apps:


Ability to create appointments, contacts and tasks are in the Tool menu, and PocketPC integration is there, as well - You can copy your notes manually or automatically from your  PocketPC device.




Odd behavior and bugs don't get listed here (since I am reporting those anyhow elsewhere), but rather the few things I can think of that I don't see in the program just yet. In fact, for now I can only think of one glaring thing. Hyperlinks.


It appears there is still not an option to insert a hyperlink on one or more words of text (which you can do in other office apps, so was hoping to see that here in the service pack). This image is from Microsoft Word:



Screen clipping taken [from Microsoft Word]: 4/24/2004, 10:38 AM


You know - highlight a block of text, right click, choose "Hyperlink" from the menu and from their either add or edit the hyperlink associated with the text block. Link to a web page, or whatever. Maybe there is something about OneNote that makes this difficult to do, or maybe it's there and I just can't find it. But I have definitely tried!




Very cool. OneNote is already a great example of smart product building by a clearly talented team. It's a power-productivity tool, is able to be used by a wide variety of end users for an equally wide variety of purposes. The SP1 preview has addressed not only the top problems in the initial 1.0 release, it's added the low-hanging-fruit functionality that a) people are asking for and b) the product team could realistically deliver in the context of the service pack.


It's pretty nice. Will be interesting to see what the blog entry looks like.


More later.


Created with Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 (SP1 Preview)
One place for all your notes

Download: First Glance at the OneNote SP1
Download: Side Notes - First Glance at the OneNote SP1 Preview.WMV

04/24/2004 12:26:47 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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It's been a busy couple of weeks, so I'm late in publishing this one, but Microsoft released the OneNote SP1 Preview earlier this week. LOTS of new fixes and enhancements, too much to go into in this post, but will say more shortly. Chris Pratley (OneNote Group Program Manager at Microsoft) made a post on the release date that explains a lot, though. Better Sharepoint integration, big improvements in shared notebooks, and fixes for all of the top 25 issues from the 1.0 release are just some of the things that have changed - and there's more. Go read about it!

Can't wait to try a blog post from the new version... :-)

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Office 2003 | OneNote | Tech
04/24/2004 09:59:30 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 Saturday, 17 April 2004

I was catching up on blog reading and noticed Jim Blizzard points to Infopath training now available on MSDN. Very cool. I need this. For those who don't know, Infopath is basically an Office 2003 app that allows you to create and use XML forms - it's a pretty powerful front end. Sharepoint 2003 supports it, too, as do a few workflow tools that are offered by third-party channel partners.

He also points to a day-log session on April 21 in Portland being put on by Microsoft called “BizTalk Server 2004: Developing the Integrated Enterprise.” Registered.

I've never attended a Portland Nerd Dinner before, but as much blog reading as I am doing by the participants, and since I am sure Scott will be going (he's tried to get me to go before), I might just stop in and see what its about.

04/17/2004 21:03:44 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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