NFL Expands Their Use of Microsoft’s Surface Tablets

The NFL is expanding it’s use (and reliance) on Microsoft Surface tablets this season. The new procedure began with this year’s Hall of Fame game between Dallas and Arizona. The technology reportedly worked “like a charm”, with a coach’s challenge settled in quick order by the officiating staff in New York.

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Unlike in the past, the referee no longer will be charged with making that final decision; The Referee crew, located at the league headquarters will do so in consultation with the “on the field” referee.

Already, the Surface tablets were being used by coaches and players on the sidelines to download photos of the action. Troy Vincent, who oversees football operations for the league, says the NFL is moving carefully on the use of video by coaches, rather than just photos, during the regular season.

In using the Surface tablets for officiating reviews, two systems will be set up, one at each end of the field, as opposed to the single under-the-hood procedure of the past.

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Unrelated but I love this photo. Here you find the champs of Superbowl 50 finding their own use for the Surface tablet.

This will be the most visual use of the tablet, but it’s hardly the only one. All 32 teams have been utilizing it for virtually every task.

Also for the first time this season, medical personnel on NFL sidelines will have access to Surface devices which will feature the NFL’s “Game Management” system. That app displays key moments in every game and allows for medical data collection and sharing across games.

 

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Outlook.com Rolls Out Enhancements

I have recommended Outlook.com many times as my “personal email service” of choice. The interface has always been easy to use while maintaining a professional – clean environment to work in. This service continues to get better.

Outlook is rolling out a bunch of new features in a new beta version that was recently announced. If you’re interested in test driving them now, it’s a simple as using a different URL to log in.

https://outlook.live.com/mail/

This will give you immediate access to the beta, without having to wait for it to show up as an option in your account.

When you first load the beta version, Outlook will give you a rundown of the new features you can use. If you change your mind about using the beta version, you should be able to go back to the pre-beta version by toggling the beta button.

According to The Verge, however, if Outlook hasn’t already rolled out the new beta to your account, this workaround will no longer work if you toggle the beta off.

So what do you get with the beta?

New Interface and Robust Search

The beta interface is sleeker, with shortcuts to your inbox, calendar, contacts, photos, and tasks. Search has also been improved with the ability to now preview files and photos in your conversation lists.

See All Your Photos in One Place

A key feature that Outlook highlights when you make the switch over to the beta version is the ability to view all your photos in one place. Click the photo icon in the menu on the left to see all photos you have sent or received. This is also searchable, but only by file name.

Quick Suggestions

As you type, Outlook will offer suggestions based on your email. For example, if you suggest a coffee shop when arranging to meet a friend, Outlook will create a link that you can click and insert more info about that location or event right in your email.

If you prefer to turn this feature off, go to Settings > View Full Settings > Mail > Composeand uncheck the Quick Suggestions box. (Although it is worth mentioning that with the beta features toggled on, we never saw any quick suggestions no matter what we typed.)

New Personalization Features

The sleek interface brings with it so much more robust personalization features for how your inbox is set up. You can put your favorite contacts or folders front and center, making it easier to find the messages that matter to you.

You can also search for emojis and GIFs by clicking the smiley face button in your compose window, to add even more personality to your messages.

Microsoft has also said to be on the lookout for more changes to Calendar and People over the next few months.

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Patch Tuesday Brings Several Windows 10 Updates

Starting today Microsoft is rolling out a brand new cumulative update for Windows 10 that brings several new security updates and under the hood improvements and fixes. These updates are rolling out today as part of “Patch Tuesday”.

Patch Tuesday Updates for Windows 10 (Build 15063.540)

The updates include:

  • Addressed issue where the policies provisioned using Mobile Device Management (MDM) should take precedence over policies set by provisioning packages.
  • Addressed issue where the Site to Zone Assignment List group policy (GPO) was not set on machines when it was enabled.
  • Addressed issue where the AppLocker rules wizard crashes when selecting accounts.
  • Addressed issue where the primary computer relationship is not determined when you have a disjoint NetBIOS domain name for your DNS Name. This prevents folder redirection and roaming profiles from successfully blocking your profile or redirects folders to a non-primary computer.
  • Addressed issue where an access violation in the Mobile Device Manager Enterprise feature causes stop errors.
  • Security updates to Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Windows Search Component, Microsoft Scripting Engine, Microsoft Windows PDF Library, Windows Hyper-V, Windows Server, Windows kernel-mode drivers, Windows Subsystem for Linux, Windows shell, Common Log File System Driver, Internet Explorer, and the Microsoft JET Database Engine.

Microsoft provides one known issue for the cumulative update rolling out today: Installing this KB (4034674) may change Czech and Arabic languages to English for Microsoft Edge and other applications.

The update is rolling out to everyone on the stable version of the Windows 10 Creators Update (including Insider Release Preview) right now under the name KB4034674. Users on the Anniversary Update, November Update and original Windows 10 release are also receiving cumulative updates today too.

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Reading Aloud with Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word has a new trick up its sleeve, and it should help anyone who struggles with the written word. The new feature is called Read Aloud, and it’s a significant improvement on the previous text-to-speech offerings in Word.

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Most of us can look at a word and immediately tell whether it’s spelt wrong. Or look at a sentence and tell whether it’s structured correctly. However, some people struggle with these things. Which is the main reason why Microsoft has upped its text-to-speech game with Read Aloud.

Microsoft Word Can Now Read Your Documents Aloud

 

Read Aloud is a new feature which has arrived as part of the latest Office 365 updates. Read Aloud does exactly what you’d expect it to do, with Word reading your document back to you. However, Word can now highlight each word as it’s read aloud right from within your workflow.

In its blog post detailing all of the new Office 365 updates Microsoft states that Read Aloud “makes it easier to recognize and correct errors as you write, improving reading and editing accuracy for everyone, especially users with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.”

Read Aloud, which is listed under the Review tab, is currently only available to Office Insiders. However, Microsoft promises it will become widely available to the general population “later this year”. Which, in Microsoft parlance, means anytime between now and December 31st.

Let’s Make Typos a Thing of the Past

Not everyone will need to make use of the new Read Aloud feature in Word. However, for those who struggle with spelling for whatever reason, this is sure to be useful. And if Read Aloud makes typos a thing of the past then people like myself will be able to sleep more suondly soundly.

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Microsoft Kill’s It’s Windows Keyboard for iOS

This is a sad day for me as another little piece of Microsoft’s Window Phone is being taken away.

Microsoft is removing Word Flow from the App Store. This means that the critically acclaimed keyboard app will no longer be available to iOS users who haven’t already downloaded it. And those that have face the prospect of Word Flow never being updated again. Because that’s how Microsoft rolls.

Having failed with their “Windows Phone” Microsoft began releasing several apps including Word Flow for iOS. Word Flow being a keyboard app designed to replicate the Windows Phone typing experience on your iPhone. Microsoft released Word Flow in April 2016, and gave it a major update adding GIF search and other features in August 2016. You can check out my April 25, 2016 review of Word Flow here.

Now, Microsoft is delisting Word Flow on the App Store. This means that while existing users will be able to carry on using Word Flow (without any future updates or support) new users are being denied the opportunity to try Word Flow out for themselves.

On the Microsoft Garage website, Microsoft describes the Windows Phone keyboard app as “an iOS app with a blazing fast keyboard that comes with search (GIFs, restaurants, and more), free customization options and includes Arc mode for comfortable one-handed typing.”

That one-handed typing is what separated Word Flow from the crowd. Once you got the hang of it Word Flow could speed up your typing, and all while leaving one hand free for other things.

Microsoft is advising Word Flow users to download SwiftKey instead because the former acquired the latter in early 2016. And this acquisition is probably why Microsoft is killing Word Flow in the first place. Let’s just hope the one-handed typing feature now makes it into SwiftKey.

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Organizing Your Folders in Outlook 2016

Would you rather spend less time searching and scrolling in Outlook and more time composing and replying? Then you need to learn about the benefits of folders and subfolders.

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Read on to get started with folders.

Folder management

By default an Outlook account will present the following folders:

  • Inbox — The inbox is the primary location for incoming messages.
  • Drafts — Drafts are messages that have been either completely or partially composed but have not been sent yet. Drafted messages are still able to be opened and edited before sending.
  • Sent Items — A copy of each message you send will be saved in the Sent Items folder. They are not visible in the inbox folder.
  • Deleted Items — As a message is chosen to be deleted, it’s moved to the Deleted Items folder. These messages will be automatically purged after 30 days unless the Retention Policy is changed. Users can also choose to empty the folder of its contents at any time.
  • Clutter — Messages that are considered low priority will be redirected to the Clutter folder. Outlook recognizes which messages are read and determines the unread messages to be of little importance.
  • Junk Email — Messages that seem to exude the appearance of junk mail will be redirected to this folder.
  • Archive — Archiving older messages moves them from the main .pst file into a separate archive.pst file.

Depending on your organization, you may see additional folders created by an administrator or by other services, such as Skype or Yammer. Now understanding the folders that are first presented to you, you should know that you cannot delete these folders. You can, however, create folders of your own and delete them, as well.

How to create a folder:
  1. Locate where the new folder should live on the left pane.
  2. Right-click on the location.
  3. Select New Folder.
  4. Input a name in the resulting Name box.
  5. Press Enter to create.
How to delete a folder:
  1. Right-click on the folder to be deleted.
  2. Select Delete from the command menu.
  3. Select Yes to confirm.

Folder creation and deletion are parts of the overall folder management options found when you right-click on the left pane of the Outlook interface. Keep in mind that many of the actions are grayed out for default folders. Here are the options that are presented:

  • Open in New Window — This opens another Outlook 2016 window with the selected folder opened.
  • New Folder — Creates a folder or sub-folder.
  • Rename Folder — This allows you to rename any folder or subfolder that you created.
  • Copy Folder — This copies the selected folder as a subfolder. You can then choose the destination folder in the resulting Copy Folder pop up box.
  • Move Folder — You can move the folder into any existing folder from inside the popup box.
  • Delete Folder — This option moves the folder and its contents to the Deleted Items folder.
  • Mark all as Read — All messages and other items in the folder will be marked as read.
  • Clean up Folder — Duplicate or redundant messages will be automatically moved to the Deleted Items folder.
  • Delete All — All items in the folder will be deleted. If you choose this action with a folder that contains subfolders, the sub-folders will be removed as well.
  • Show in Favorites — Choose to add this folder to the Favorites section, which is located near the top of the left panel.
  • Remove from Favorites — This option appears when right-clicking in the Favorites section. It removes the folder from Favorites but does not delete it.
  • Sort Subfolders A to Z — All sub folders within a folder will be listed alphabetically.
  • Move Up/Down — Folders and subfolders can be moved up or down the list, one entry at a time.
  • Properties — This action takes you the properties menu of the folder. A series of settings are presented such as selecting the folder policy, permissions and viewing the folder size.
Search folders

searching folders

Those who need Outlook to retain a large volume of messages could potentially have difficulty retrieving information. A Search Folder aims to eliminate the needle-in-a-haystack scenario. It presents messages that match search criteria determined by the user. It doesn’t matter if the messages are stored in various folders. As long as they are contained within the same .pst file, they will be found.

How to create a customized search folder:
  1. Select the Folder tab from the ribbon.
  2. Select New Search Folder.
  3. Select Create a custom Search Folder from the Select a Search Folder list.
  4. Click Choose.
  5. Enter the name of the folder in the name box.
  6. Click Criteria to pick your options from the following sections:
    • Messages – Choose to search for specific words from the subject or body, specific contacts or recipients.
    • More Choices – This offers more criteria such as specifying read or unread items, attachments and level of importance.
    • Advanced – This gives the user the option to create finely tuned criteria to narrow down result. This provides a list of criterion and allows you to choose conditions and values.
  7. Click Browse to select a specific folder to include in the search.
  8. Click Ok on each dialog box to confirm your selections.
How to create a pre-defined search folder:
  1. Select Folder from the ribbon.
  2. Choose New Search folder.
  3. Select a folder type from the Select a Search Folder list.
  4. Select Criteria under the Customize Search Folder section.
  5. Select Ok to save the search folder.
Folder sharing and delegation

sharing folders

Your Outlook folders can also be a place for collaboration. Depending on the necessary tasks, you can either choose to share a folder or delegate one. To delegate is to allow someone to act on your behalf, such as responding to emails or managing items in your folders. Sharing folders is commonly used to promote collaboration.

How to delegate a folder:
  1. Click on File.
  2. Click on Account Settings under Account Information.
  3. Click on Delegate Access.
  4. Click on Add.
  5. Search and select the individual.
  6. Click Add
  7. Select the permission level for the individual under the Permissions box.
  8. Right-click on the account.
  9. Select Folder Permissions.
    • Reviewer – Users can read items but cannot delete them.
    • Author – Users can read and create items.
    • Editor – Users can read, create and modify items.10.Click on the name of the person.11. Select the Permission Level. (then select OK)
How to remove a delegate:
  1. Click on File.
  2. Click on Account Information.
  3. Click on Delegate Access.
  4. Select the name of the current delegate.
  5. Click Remove.
  6. Click Ok.
How to share a folder
  1. Click on the Folder Tab in the ribbon.
  2. Click on Folder Permission in the Properties section
  3. Click on the Permissions tab in the Inbox Properties box.
  4. Click Add to add a user.
  5. Locate the person in the address list.
  6. Click Add
  7. Click Ok.
  8. Select an option from the Permission Level list.
    • Owner – Change permission levels for others who have access. Create, read, modify and delete contents of a folder.
    • Publishing Editor – All contents that the owner has created can be read and deleted. Content and subfolders can be created as well.
    • Editor – All items can be created read and modified.
    • Publishing Author – Items can be modified, deleted, created and read. Sub-folders can be created as well.
    • Author – Allows users to read and create items that the owner has created.
    • Nonediting Author – Owner created items can be deleted. Can create and read items.
    • Reviewer – Can read items but cannot delete them.
    • Contributor – Users can only create items.
  9. Select specific permission in the provided fields.
  10. Click Apply.
  11. Click Ok.
How to stop sharing a folder:
  1. Access the Folder tab from the ribbon.
  2. Select Folder permissions.
  3. Click on the name of the individual.
  4. Select None to suspend sharing.
  5. Select Remove to stop sharing.
Wrapping up

Being able to effectively manage folders enables you to be more productive in your communication. It also allows you to make Outlook both personal and comfortable.

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Microsoft Awesome Surface Book Deal

I rarely make purchasing recommendations here. I realize that everyone has varying tastes and of course varying needs from their tech. However I wanted to pass on this deal that is going on over at Microsoft. My laptop of choice for almost the past 2 years (a lifetime for me in respect to my tech) has been the Microsoft Surface Book.

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If you’re looking for a powerful, yet portable, 2-in-1, Microsoft’s Surface Book has probably come across your radar a time or two. There’s no denying that they are a bit on the more expensive side, but there are ways to get them for less.

Right now you can pick up the Intel Core i5 model with 128GB SSD for just $883 as a certified refurb. Normally, this configuration runs for around $1,499 in new condition and $1,149 as a refurb, so you’ll save $266 right now. There are other models available, like the 256GB Intel Core i7 variant for $1,374 or the decked out 512GB Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM for $1,766.

You shouldn’t have to worry about it being a refurbished model, though. Microsoft states:

Good as new, each refurbished Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 undergo a rigorous refurbishing process that includes hardware and cosmetic quality inspections, software updating, and diagnostic testing. And all refurbished Surface devices are backed by a manufacturer’s limited one-year hardware warranty.

Microsoft does not state how long these prices are good for, so you won’t want to wait too long before making your purchase. Whether you are looking for something basic, or something with killer specs, you can get it right now at a pretty substantial discount. Don’t miss out.

 

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Free Microsoft Books

Thanks to Microsoft, you can now download hundreds of useful ebooks for free. No catch! And these aren’t old copyright-free classics from way back in history — we’re talking about up-to-date copies of tech books related to Microsoft’s most-used products.

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Grab the free ebooks here.

Why Is Microsoft Doing This?

The ebook extravaganza is being coordinated by Microsoft Director, Eric Ligman. Every year, Eric gives away a selection of the best Microsoft books, completely free of charge.

Since the project began, he estimates the books have been downloaded more than ten million times.

All the books on offer are the real deal. There’s no shortened copies, time restrictions, or other limitations. Once you have the book in your possession, it’s yours to keep. Forever.

What’s Available?

Doing justice to the amount of material available is hard. Broadly speaking, the books cover Azure, cloud computing, app development, Dynamics, licensing, Microsoft Office, PowerShell, SharePoint, SQL servers, virtualization, and Windows.

Within each category, there is a wide selection of content. You’ll find titles dedicated to everything from Windows 10 tips for IT professionals to .NET guidance for business applications.

Most of the books are available in PDF and EPUB formats, though some are also available in MOBI and DOC.

The only downside is that you cannot download all of the books as a single ZIP file.

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Goodbye Windows Phone

Microsoft has officially pulled the plug on Windows Phone, having ended all support for Windows Phone 8.1.

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I have written about Windows Phone many times and for about 2 years I was a kind of happy Windows Phone user. The vision Microsoft had for their smartphone in many ways was unique and innovative. Also the idea of only two platforms for mobile users has also bothered me. The choice should include, at least a third option after Apple & Android. For a few years Microsoft was that third option.

Sadly Windows Phone is now officially dead.

Goodbye Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft ended support for Windows Phone 8.1 on July 11, 2017. Windows Phone 8.1 shared this death date with a host of other older and obscure products no one cares about, including Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007, Microsoft ProClarity Analytics Server 6.3, and Microsoft Visual SourceSafe 2005 Standard Edition. None of which anyone has ever even heard of.

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In layman’s terms Microsoft ending support for Windows Phone 8.1 means there will be “no new security updates, non-security updates, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates”. Which means you’re on your own, even if something goes badly wrong.

While it’s now official, many declared Windows Phone dead a couple of years ago. Which is unfortunate as most of the Microsoft-powered smartphones in the wild are still running Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8, or Windows Phone 8.1. None of which are supported any longer.

So, Windows Phone is dead, long live Windows 10 Mobile, perhaps?

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Me & my Windows Phone – in happier days.

Unfortunately even Windows 10 Mobile only boasts a incredibly minimal share of the mobile market. So Microsoft’s previous attempt at overcoming the might of Android and iOS is over, and its last remaining attempt is on life support.

For nostalgia purposes only you can check out my many Windows Phone articles here.

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Tip! Closing Windows Fast

How many different ways do you know to close a window in Windows? You can click the X in the upper-right corner, use the Alt + F4 shortcut, or right-click a Taskbar icon and choose Close window. But did you know there’s an old relic hanging out in Windows 10 that’s been around for decades?

In any Windows version, you can double-click in the upper-left corner of the title bar to close a window. For many programs, the spot you’ll need to click is marked by the app’s icon. This menu actually contains several other commands, like RestoreMove, and Minimize.

You can also activate this menu in any open app by pressing Alt + Space or by right-clicking the title bar.

Because keyboard shortcuts and newer Windows versions offer better ways to perform these functions, most people have forgotten about this menu. Probably its most useful function is the Move command, which lets you click and drag to slide a window around.

This comes in particularly handy when apps disappear off-screen — anyone who uses a laptop with a dock will know this annoyance. The Move command instantly snaps your mouse to the title bar of the affected app, so you don’t have to hunt around for it.

Most people probably don’t use this menu often, but it’s a neat trick to keep in your pocket. It’s fun to see what’s left over from Windows versions of old, and the Move command might save you some stress in the future!

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