Dot Net Mafia

Group site for developer blogs dealing with (usually) .NET, SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2010, Office 365, SharePoint Online, and other Microsoft products, as well as some discussion of general programming related concepts.

This Blog



Corey Roth [MVP]

A SharePoint MVP bringing you the latest time saving tips for SharePoint 2013, Office 365 / SharePoint Online and Visual Studio 2013.
  • A quick way to get to list settings in SharePoint-hosted apps

    If you are a developer working with the SharePoint app model and have deployed a list, you might have noticed that the list settings button is missing from the ribbon.


    Now, you typically probably don’t want to adjust list settings inside an app through the UI.  However, it’s not uncommon that you want to look at your list settings in the development process to confirm you did everything right.  For example, maybe you want to check the permissions on the list. 

    If you know the List Id, you can always just go directly to ListEdit.aspx, but I find that’s a lot of work.  Instead, I found the easiest way is go to active the LIST ribbon and then click Modify View.


    That will take you to a page where you can edit a view.  However, it also gives you a breadcrumb back to Settings.


    You’ll now be on your list settings page.


    This is a great way to manually set permissions on your list when needed.  You can also adjust a number of other settings.  Just be warned that some settings don’t work such as Information Management Policy Settings.  You will get a 500 error when you do that.

    This is a simple tip but maybe some of you developers out there will find it useful.

  • Windows 10 Technical Preview on the Surface Pro 3: two months later

    I’ve been running Windows 10 Technical Preview since it came out on October 1st.  We’re now on our third build (Build 9879) so I thought I would share my experience so far on my Surface Pro 3.  With Windows 10, they have given us access to builds earlier than we used to get in the past.  As a result, you are going to get to deal with different challenges with each build.  That’s just what you get when installing on an early release.  We expect that though.

    Dealing with issues (bugs)

    When you decide to run any beta operating system, you need to decide if the potential issues are too much of an annoyance for you to get work done.  I am running this on my primary device (my Surface Pro 3).  Sometimes the issues can be a pain, but nothing has been a showstopper yet.

    In the first build, we had to deal with issues such as mouse wheel scrolling not working on external monitors.  That’s been fixed.  Now the most common issue is explorer.exe crashes.  When this happens, applications in the task bar may not show an icon properly.  Be warned, it will also cause the clock to get “stuck in time”.  I found myself being late once or twice because of that.  KB3020114 is supposed to fix this issue though.  If you haven’t installed it yet, you can also mitigate this issue some by reverting back to the Start screen instead of the Start menu.  You can do this by right-clicking on the taskbar and choosing Properties.  Then click on the Start Menu tab and uncheck Use the Start menu instead of the Start screen.


    If you use any Windows Store (metro) apps, you will notice a few issues as well.  In build 9879, any time an app gets minimized (or you lock your device), it will stop running.  This causes streaming apps such as Xbox Music or iHeartRADIO to stop streaming. 

    Another issue with Windows Store apps is that they will all crash at once.  You’ll find that all of them simply have stopped running.  There is a process named Application Frame Host which powers all of your Windows Store apps to run in windowed mode.  When this process dies, so does your Windows Store apps.  When this happens you simply restart the application.

    Windows 10 Features to adjust to

    Windows 10 adds the ability to runs Windows Store apps in windowed mode.  This sounds great in theory, but I find myself constantly adjusting the windows sizes as they are never right.  This especially applies when you drag them onto secondary monitors.  When you drag them over, display scaling messes it up when you try to snap them in one continuous action from the primary monitor to the secondary.  This means you’ll have to snap the application again.  I then often find myself resizing the application two or three more times to get it to snap just right. 

    I am not a fan of the new Start menu at all.  The titles have no sense of arrangement and they are just all jumbled together.  This leads me to go back to the original Windows 8.1 style Start screen.  I know I am probably one of the few people on the planet though that prefer it though.

    Selecting a WiFi network has a new touch friendly menu.  This allows you to connect but getting to advanced network settings from here is tough.


    OneDrive (consumer) has also changed as I mentioned in my last article.  It changes the way synchronization happens.  For the most part I think it probably works better now but occasionally I still have issues.

    Surface Pro 3 specific issues

    The Surface Pen works in Windows 10 just fine.  However, the ability to wake the device up while it is sleeping by pressing the button currently does not.  I didn’t find myself using that feature very often though as cool as it is.

    I have had a lot of issues with the device waking up and running instead of going into connected standby mode with Build 9879.  I have pulled my Surface out of my bag to find it running hot more than once.  I honestly don’t think connected standby works at all right now so I have started shutting the device down when I want to make sure it doesn’t come on.

    Battery life is also considerably less with Windows 10.  I’ve found that this happens every time I run a beta operating system though. 

    Should you install it?

    Unless you are just dying to see the new features, I would probably not install Build 9879 on your Surface Pro 3.  None of the issues are absolute deal breakers, but they can be annoying at times.  However, they aren’t so bad that I am considering going back to Windows 8.1.  I am just going to hold out until the next build.  Microsoft has announced a Windows 10 event on January 21st, so I would guess we’ll see something around then.

    If you do decide to proceed with the install you can get it by joining the Windows Insider Program.  Be sure to read the Before you Install link and have backed up your data or have it in the cloud somewhere.

    - @coreyroth on twitter

  • Querying Office 365 Groups with Search

    I have been working with the new Office 365 Groups feature a little bit and I wanted to see how I could surface them from a regular SharePoint Online site.  In my example today, I have created two public groups and three private groups.


    My first thought was to use Search.  Ultimately, I knew the file storage behind groups was powered by a site collection.  I just need to figure out which WebTemplate was being used.  You can see the name of the site collection fairly easily by looking at one of the documents in search.  It’s simply stored at /sites/<GroupID>.  You can see your Group ID when creating the group initially.


    Using the REST API, we can then just assemble the URL with /_api/web onto the existing URL such as  Looking through these results I found out that the WebTemplate for the site is simply named GROUP.  Now that we have this, we can query search using the WebTemplate managed property.  The query we want is simply:


    You can type this directly into the keyword textbox in your Search Center.


    Now wait a minute.  I am in five groups but it’s only showing me two.  After doing some research and some additional queries, I discovered that no matter what I did, search could never find private groups or the documents within them.  I am not sure if this is a bug or it is intentional, but as of right now you can only see public Groups with search.  Still this might be valuable to you, so you could always use this query inside the Content Search web part.


    I am hoping that we can query private groups as well in the future, but it’s still nice to be able to query your groups if you use a lot of public ones.

  • Troubleshooting “There was an error during the operation” when deploying SharePoint Apps with Visual Studio

    When working with SharePoint Apps in Visual Studio 2013, you might receive the following error during deployment.

    App installation encountered the following errors:
      @"Error 1
            CorrelationId: c423d0af-c32b-4702-8be3-a3c1a4b3010e
            ErrorDetail: There was an error during the operation.
            ErrorType: Configuration
            ErrorTypeName: Configuration
            ExceptionMessage: RestrictAssociationToId - ListId Lists/ListName
            Source: Common
            SourceName: Common App Deployment
    Error occurred in deployment step 'Install app for SharePoint': Failed to install app for SharePoint. Please see the output window for details.


    Although there are a number of causes for this, I find that these are typically related to dependencies in your Feature Manager.  Take a look at mine below.


    As you can see for some reason, my list is not included in the package.  Although this example is simple, it’s not uncommon when you start dealing with multiple features and lists.  The specific ExceptionMessage trictAssociationToId - ListId Lists/ListName is because I have a workflow associated with the list, but the list is not getting deployed.  Once I add the list back to the feature, the issue goes away.

    If you start receiving errors like this go back and look at your feature manager and make sure everything in your project is getting deployed in the order you want.

  • A look at the OneDrive updates in Windows 10 Technical Preview

    The second update to the Windows 10 Technical Preview (Build 9879) came out today and there are a lot of exciting updated.  Today’s release in particular had a large number of changes in how OneDrive worked.  The way you sync files has changes and I am thinking this is going to lead us to a more reliable sync experience. 

    Sync Changes

    After you login for the first time, you will see a new prompt for OneDrive.  Clicking on it will allow you to select which folders you would like to sync.  If your OneDrive is massive like mine, then you understand the importance of selective sync. 


    Select the folders that you want to sync and OneDrive will start doing it’s thing.  However, if you were running a previous build of Windows and had files synced already there will be a few peculiarities.  If you don’t select the folder here but you still have it on your PC, then you will get a notice after a while that there are some sync issues.


    This notice instructs you to delete the folder on your local PC if you want it to fix itself.   This does in fact fix the issue.  Just delete the folder and the error goes away.   However, you may not want to do this if you aren’t sure things are synced back up to the cloud.  Instead if you decide you want to sync the folder in question, go back and choose it in the OneDrive settings.  To do this, you’ll find a new icon in your taskbar.  Click on it, go to Settings –> Choose Folders.  Here you can pick the folders you want to sync like you did.

    Be careful here people!  Don’t ruin your day by accidently losing a folder in OneDrive.  Make sure your files are where you think they are.  I haven’t had any issues, but you can see where there is plenty of room for error here as we make this transition.

    According to the Windows Blog, people really struggled with what files were synced and what were not.   For this reason, the direction is to not show any folder on the file system that has not been synced.  Therefore there may be folders in the cloud, that you cannot see unless you go to the OneDrive web site.  I’m not sure if I like this change or not.  They’ve added some nice enhancements to the shell (which I’ll cover shortly) and that means you cannot take advantage of these unless you have the files synced to your file system.

    Progress Updates

    When OneDrive is doing something, it’s actually easy to tell.  First, you’ll see a moving bar undeneath the cloud icon.  Even better though is if you hover over it, it will tell you how many files it is syncing and how large they are.  This is a great improvement!


    Shell Changes

    If you take a look at OneDrive on the file system, you’ll notice slightly different icons to indicate which folders are sycned and which one have issues.  You’ll notice a lot of mine have the red icon because I have the folder present but I am not syncing the file.


    Right clicking on the folder, I can see in the context menu that my only option is to View Sync Problems.


    However, when you click on a folder that you have synced, you get a few more options.


    The first menu item is Share a OneDrive link.  Be careful with this one!  This will share whatever folder you have highlighted anonymously.  It will share the folder immediately anonymously and put the link in your clipboard. 


    If you want to control what you share and what permissions, then be sure and use the More OneDrive sharing options link.  This will take you to where you can fine-tune the permissions.

    Lastly, the View on link will open a web browser with a link directly to your document or folder.  I think these will be useful improvements when using explorer to view your synced files.

    New Settings

    There are some new settings in the OneDrive app.  Available by right clicking on the icon in your task bar and choosing settings.  One of the most exciting settings that you will find here is the setting Let me use OneDrive to fetch any of my files on this PC.


    This setting disappeared from Windows 8.1 and I am glad it is back.  It lets you access any file on your PC through the OneDrive web site.  Just look for the list of PCs available in the navigation.  Clicking on it the first time will prompt you for a security check.  I assume it is supposed to send a text message to your phone like other checks but this time it just let me right in.


    Once you continue, you will be able to see the files on your computer and access them.  This is great when you forgot to put a file in OneDrive.


    Buried in the settings, on the Performance tab, you will also find a new setting Improve upload speed by uploading files in batches.


    This leads me to believe that they have made improvements in how file syncing occurs.  I’ve selected in and I am going to see how performance goes, but it does warn you that it uses significantly more bandwidth.


    I’m pretty excited about this latest round in improvements in OneDrive.  If you are running the latest build of Windows 10 Technical Preview, give it a try.  Just be careful so that you don’t accidently lose something.

    Follow me on twitter: @coreyroth

  • First look at Windows 10 Technical Preview on the Surface Pro 3

    With the new of the release of Windows 10 Technical Preview, I was quick to download it and try it out.  Despite all of the warning about only using this on a secondary PC, I went ahead and installed it any way on my favorite device the Surface Pro 3.  I have a long standing history of installing beta operating systems on computers I shouldn’t, so why should this one be any different. :)  The nice thing about Windows 10 installer is that it will let you install on existing Windows 8.1 installations.  You can even do other things in the background while it is installing (although it tells you not too).  I let it install over lunch and things are looking good so far.  Here are some of the highlights and answers to questions you might have.

    Do I have to reinstall everything?

    No.  You are able to upgrade from Windows 8.1 Pro to Windows 10 Enterprise without any issues (at least I didn’t have any).  You will have the option to keep files, apps, and settings.  This means you aren’t doing a clean install.  All of your applications and files will still be there when you have upgraded.

    How long does it take?

    The installation takes about half an hour.  The installer looks similar to the Windows 8.1 installer. 


    You will reboot a few times during the process.


    After the install you will need to choose a Wireless network and type in the password for your account.  Once you get booted up, everything should look similar and all of your programs will still be there.

    Getting started

    Microsoft has included a link on the desktop to the Windows Preview web site which has a series of links to help get you started.  I recommend taking a look as it has some useful information about the new features.


    Does everything still work?

    It appears to.  All of my devices are installed correctly in the device manager. 


    I tried a number of programs including desktop programs like Office and Windows Store apps such as Mail and Flipboard. 


    Everything seems to run just fine.  Touch input still works and so does the Surface Pen.

    The new Start Menu

    I’m not sure what to think of the new start menu. 


    It’s goal is to combine the best of both worlds between desktop and touch.  It combines a traditional desktop start menu with tiles from the start screen.  I find it works great for desktop, but in touch it doesn’t really make sense.  Some of the icons are hard to touch.  It’s not terrible but I think it can be better.  You’ll even notice that the Power button is easy to find.

    Clicking on the All Apps button shows you a list of all installed applications that reminds me very much of the Windows XP start menu.


    If you were one of the few that liked the Start Screen, you can turn it back on.  In the Start Menu, type Navigation Properties and click on the Start Menu tab.


    Once you select this, you will be prompted to close all applications and logout. 


    When you log back in, the start menu will be back.  It looks exactly like it did in Windows 8.1.

    Taskbar Changes

    The taskbar has a few new icons next to the familiar Windows icon. 


    The first icon allows you to search.  Clicking it will show you a list of trending searches.


    It doesn’t just search the Internet though.  It will show you your own apps and matching documents in addition to results from the Internet.


    The next icon is your app switcher.  It will show you all of the applications you have open whether they are desktop apps or Windows store apps.  You can flip between applications here or even close them.  It comes up by pressing Alt+Tab or Windows+Tab as well. 


    The app switcher also gives you the ability to add an additional virtual desktop.  A lot of operating systems have had this for while so this is a welcome addition to Windows.  This gives you the ability to have different sets of apps running on each desktop.  This can be nice to keep things less cluttered.

    Finally the last icon is our new Windows Explorer.  You’ll notice a new section called Frequent Folders and Frequent Files.  This will help you jump quickly to files that you have worked with recently.


    Windows Store Apps in Windows Mode

    This makes a lot of sense for desktop users.  For touch users, I’m not so sure.  Everything resizes just fine.  However, I miss being able to dock apps like Skype and iHeartRadio to a nice narrow bar at the side of the screen.  You can still do it, but it takes a lot more effort.  Also the familiar “Swipe-down” motion appears to be gone (even when the app is running in full screen mode).  Now, you have to click on the elipsis (…) in the taskbar and choose App Commands.  It seems to take a lot more effort since that menu appears to be geared towards desktop users.


    Can I still run Windows Store apps in full screen mode?

    Yes, by clicking the Full Screen menu item in the menu above.  However, I found that none of the gestures work when the apps is running in full screen such as swiping down.  For example, you can’t swipe down and drag to dock the window to the side of the screen.  Swiping in from the left side while in full screen mode now brings up the app switcher.

    What has remained the same?

    Surprisingly a lot.  Microsoft has pointed out that none of the new consumer features are in this preview.  This release is focused on the Enterprise.  Lots of things remain the same including the Settings screen, logging in, the charms menu, and the issues with DPI scaling and multi-monitors.  That means your Lync window is still going to be massive when you drag it onto your second screen.

    How stable is it?

    It’s hard to tell yet.  I have put my computer to sleep with the power button once or twice and I have found that the device has rebooted.  Maybe it’s just installing updates, I don’t know.  It’s too soon to tell.

    One new feature is the Preview Builds in Update and Recovery in PC Settings.  Here you can configure how your PC looks for new builds of the Technical Preview.

    Should you install it?

    Only if you are willing to accept the risks of installing a beta operations system.  Just because it worked for me (so far), doesn’t mean you won’t have issues.  Microsoft recommends installing on a secondary device.  Be sure and save a copy of your recovery drive before you install it.  This will let you revert back to your previous operating system should you have issues.

    If you have any feedback for the Windows product team, just open your start menu and type Windows Feedback.  This will launch an app that allows you to report issues.  In fact it feels a lot like user voice in a lot of ways.  I think this is a great way to express your thoughts about the new operating system.

    So far Windows 10 Technical Preview runs fairly well on the Surface Pro 3.  In fact you really won’t notice that many changes using it aside from the start menu and the Windows Store apps running in windowed mode.  I’ll post updates as I use it for and let you know of any issues.

  • Office 365 YamJams are a good place to learn about new features

    Have you checked out one of the YamJams yet on the Office 365 Technical Network?  I’ve participated in the last few around new features in Office 365.  I found that I have been able to learn a lot about the topic at hand directly from Microsoft product team members.

    On September 10th, they had the Delve YamJam.  Here I was able to learn more about the new feature.  What excited me is that I was able to get some of my developer specific questions answered.  They did an excellent job.

    On September 29th, they had a YamJam about the new Office 365 groups feature.  Members of the product team went into the details of how the underlying features were implemented using hidden site collections in SharePoint Online.

    Next up is the Driving Adoption YamJam coming up on 10/1 at 9:00 am PDT.

    Did you miss a YamJam?  Don’t worry the content is still there even after it occurs.  They even write up a summary post a few days later with the key takeaways.  Here’s an example from the Delve YamJam

    If you are not a member of the Office 365 Technical Network on Yammer be sure and join.  It’s a great place to ask questions.

  • A quick look at Delve in Office 365

    You might have heard the news that Microsoft is rolling out Delve to Office 365 starting today.  I was lucky enough to get it pushed to my demo site so I wanted to share some details.

    When Delve is activated on your tenant, you will see a link in your suite bar.


    Click the link to get started.  Your first time, you will see an intro screen, telling you a little bit more. 


    By default, you are going to get an empty screen unless you have some content shared with you.  You won’t see the full power of Delve until you have a sufficiently active SharePoint tenant.


    However, if you have some content loaded, you can start to see it in action when you click on My Work.


    Here you will find documents relevant to you because you have modified them. 

    You can easily do keyword searches with Delve and get a nice visual display of the results.


    Delve can figure out people that are relevant to you and you will see them listed in the navigation.  Click on the link and it will show you the documents that they have worked on.  Remember, you only see documents that you have permission to view.


    Delve has a small settings menu which you can access in the top right corner of the Suite Bar.


    It takes you to a settings page where you can disable Delve.


    For those curious about where Delve lives, it’s hosted by the My Site (Personal Site) collection on a page named me.aspx.

    You can see some of the URLs below.

    Delve Home Page URL example (v=home):


    Delve Search URL example (q parameter):


    Delve People Results URL example (p parameter):


    Delve My Work URL example (v=mywork)


    I have noticed that the pictures of people aren’t loading correctly on my tenant.  I don’t know if that is a Delve issue or something else.

    If you are wanting to check out Delve, be sure and read Office Delve for Office 365 admins.  You’ll need to turn on the First Release program in your Office 365 Service Settings.


    You’ll need to enable Delve on the SharePoint Settings as well.  Choose the option Allow access to the Office Graph (default).


    If you don’t have Delve yet, check those settings in the post above and then be patient.  You should have Delve soon once you make those changes.

  • Completing Real Estate Transactions with OneDrive and OneNote

    My wife, @jennifermason, and I recently sold our house and bought a new one in the Dallas / Fort Worth area.  We didn’t use a realtor (I refuse to capitalize that word) in selling our house and we didn’t use one in buying the new one.  As a result, I had to manage a lot of the paper work myself.  It really wasn’t that hard to do thanks to OneDrive, OneNote, and document signing tools.  We’ll look at how we managed all of this on both the selling side as well as the home loan.

    Selling the house

    When we went to put the house on the market, I did my research and I kept a lot of this info in OneNote.  Since we hadn’t had the house long, it wasn’t hard for us to come up with a selling price.  We looked at what we owed, what we paid, and used Zillow to figure out what houses were moving for.  This gave us our price and we went with it.  We went to Home Depot and picked up a For Sale by Owner sign and stuck it in the yard.

    Along with the yard sign, we printed up some nice flyers for our house to stick in an IntoTube (which you can also get at Home Depot).  Realtors will tell you that you shouldn’t put flyers in front of your house as that doesn’t attract buyers.  The only reason they tell you that is that by having only a phone number on your sign they can show them someone else’s house if yours isn’t the right fit.  Remember, everything a realtor tells you is to put more money in his or her pocket faster.

    The phone number I printed on the sign was not my own.  Instead, I used Google Voice and had it forward calls to my phone.  This gives me a nice buffer to keep crazies from calling my phone and for me to block bad seller’s agents telling me I’ll never sell my house.  I had one call several times.

    I had my first phone call on the house within an hour and I ended up having three showings by the end of the weekend.  All of this from a sign and listings on Craigslist and Zillow.  After the initial period, I decided I wanted to put our house on the MLS so it would show up for realtors and on  Normally, you have to have a seller’s agent do that and now they get your 3% and 3% goes to whomever presents the buyer.  There are a number of realtors now that will do it for a flat fee between $250 and $500.  One happened to call me called ListingSpark and they do theirs for $7 / day (billed monthly).  What I liked about them is that their services included a lock box, sign, and they would even show your house if the buyer didn’t have a realtor.  This meant realtors could find my house in the MLS, request a showing, and we didn’t even have to be present to show it (just like with a traditional realtor).  It didn’t take long to get some showings with this service and eventually we had an offer.  With the offer in place, we had to get our documents in order.

    Setting up OneDrive

    My wife and I were already heavy users of OneDrive.  We have a shared folder on my OneDrive account in which we both have contribute access.  In here, I started a new folder simply named Real Estate.  Before you sell a house, you will want to get a few documents together.  We’ll keep these in the Real Estate folder so that we can easily find them and share them throughout the process.  The most important document you need is the Seller Disclosure. 

    Luckily, in the State of Texas, you can find just about any document you need on the Texas Real Estate Commission web site.  They are all in PDF form here.  The poor people that run the web site actually believe you can’t edit them because of that.  You’ll actually see a link to companies selling software that makes the forms editable.  Ha!  As some of you might know, there are a number of options when it comes to editing PDF.  We can use Adobe Acrobat, FoxIT Writer, the PDF reflow feature in Microsoft Word 2013.  There’s actually a much simpler option though, document signing tools such as DocuSign.

    My first exposure ever with DocuSign was signing contracts with Microsoft.  You simply upload a PDF and then it allows you to drag text fields, checkboxes, and signature lines onto your document.  The first step is to upload the document.


    The service will allow you to have yourself as a signer and then you can add your spouse, the buyer, realtors, etc, as needed.  In the example below, we both are signing it and then it gets sent to the realtor.  DocuSign will automatically send it once all of the signatures are received, but sometimes I preferred to send it myself so I would leave that step out.  Instead I would upload the file to my OneDrive and provide a link.  More on sharing with OneDrive soon.


    Once you go to the next step, you can edit the document.  It’s as simple as dragging and dropping the fields throughout the document.  In the example, below you can see how I have added text boxes to the blanks in the contract.


    DocuSign works great.  It really is the Cadillac of document signing services.  Unfortunately, it is really expensive and not geared towards consumers at all.  When you first create an account you get 5 documents you can sign.  That is it.  This is a real estate transaction so obviously you are going to need more than that.  DocuSign has absolutely terrible pricing plans.  They are geared towards business and come with annual terms for the lowest rates  Their individual account lets you sign 5 documents a month for $10.  When you run out, you get to upgrade again.  Then the professional plans are $20 for unlimited (if paid annually) and $30 if paid monthly.  No thanks.

    Although DocuSign works great, it was time to find a new service.  This led me to run into HelloSign.  They gave you three free documents a month and you can upgrade to unlimited for $15 / month.  What’s nice is their unlimited plan gives you a 30 day trial.  That was enough for me to close my transaction.  HelloSign has similar features to DocuSign but not as many controls to pick from that you can drag onto your PDF.  However, I found the ones it had were sufficient.  What I didn’t like is that it put an audit page with the dates everything was signed in the PDF.  I think this could only be removed if you signed up for an Enterprise plan. The product worked though and it got me through my transaction.

    Sharing Documents

    If you have gotten a mortgage recently, you know how much of a pain it is.  They are constantly asking for documents and they lose half of the ones you send them.  Surprisingly, none of them ever use any kind of secure document sharing service.  I’d be happy with a SharePoint site using Office 365.  Unfortunately, most of them just want you to e-mail them.  Someone from my lender even insisted that sending these documents with sensitive information is secure over e-mail.  I laughed.  To handle this situation, I created a new folder named Home Loan and started dumping things like tax returns, investment statements, and pay stubs in there.  Then I made use of the Sharing feature in OneDrive.  Just click on the folder and then click the Share button at the top.

    There are a number of sharing options when it comes to OneDrive and you want to get this right.  You don’t want to just provide a link that anyone can use to access it.  You want these users to authenticate.  Start by typing in the user’s e-mail address.  This doesn’t have to be a Microsoft account.  Typically, the user’s live account will be different than his or her e-mail address.


    Be sure and click Recipients can only view.  This provides an option where you can specify what permission the user has and whether or not they need a Microsoft account.  I find that lenders don’t ever need permissions to edit documents, so I choose Recipients can only view.  Next choose Recipients need to sign in with a Microsoft account.  This ensures they have to login to see your documents.


    Now this meant I had to add every single person that needed access to the files at the lender one-by-one.  I’d rather do that then open it up to the world though.  With all the people that I had to share documents with, I only had one that couldn’t seem to figure out how to login and view the documents.  I suspected she had multiple Microsoft accounts and that was the issue.

    For sensitive documents, you don’t want to use the Get a link option.  This generates a random URL in which anyone can access your documents without authentication.  However, I found this useful for sharing documents such as receipts to the buyer’s realtor when I was selling my house.  Since this information was less sensitive, it made sense to use this option to share documents.

    Using OneNote

    My wife and I kept a lot of information about the process.  We already had a shared notebook in our family room, so we created a new section called Real Estate.  In here, I had a page for the for sale process including where I am marketing it and what to put on the flyer.  I kept another page for house showings.  When I was doing showings myself, I asked for information on the buyer including photo identification.  Once the contract was signed, I created a page to manage the amendment items that the buyer requested.  We also used a page to keep a checklist of all of the utilities we needed to disconnect and connect.  When we were looking for a new house, we used it to keep track of the ones we were interested in.  Once we selected one, we kept things like the new house measurements in it.  Finally, we started keeping a list of all of the new things we need to buy for the house.  OneNote has been a vital part of our real estate process.


    When it’s all over…

    Don’t forget to revoke permissions to everything that you shared.  You don’t want to keep these documents shared with people that no longer need them.  This goes especially for documents that you allowed anonymous access on.

    I sold our house without a listing agent and I bought our new one without a buyer’s agent.  When I was looking at houses, I even had a seller’s agent it was illegal in Texas for me to see a house without a buyer’s agent.  That liar has been reported to the Texas Real Estate Commission. :)  This kept thousands of dollars in our pocket and let us negotiate a better price with the builder since they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission.  Realtors will tell you that you can never do it without them but in reality most of them don’t do that much for you.  If you do a little research, you can do it yourself too.

  • Achievement unlocked: Inkmaster

    When it comes to using Ink in Microsoft Office, it’s been there for longer than you probably have realized.  Even if you had a Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2, you probably never took advantage of it.  The device was simply too heavy.  Now, with the Surface Pro 3, you might have noticed the ability to use Ink is all throughout Office.  It turns out it’s not just in OneNote.  You can use it throughout the Office suite, you just have to look for it.  Read on this post to make the most of the Surface Pen so that you can become an Inkmaster!


    Inking in Word

    Did you know that you can use ink when reviewing a document?  I didn’t until Surface Pro 3.  When you are reviewing a document, look for the Ink Comment button, it may be collapsed depending on the width of your screen.


    Once you click it, you will see a new special comment box, just for inking.


    Grab your stylus and start writing.  It will automatically expand as you add more text.


    You can also use the Start Inking button to start drawing on your document anywhere.  As soon as you bring the stylus close to the screen in an Office app, the Pens menu will appear.


    Once you click the button, the standard inking ribbon appears and you can write and draw all over your document.


    You can use a variety of pen colors in addition to highlighters.


    Inking in Outlook

    You can also use Ink in Outlook of all places but it’s a bit more difficult to find.  When you are replying to a message, click Popout to open the message in a unique window.  If you remember, Outlook is actually launching an instance of Word for the text editor.  By doing that, you can click Start Inking from the Review menu.  When you do that, you can Ink in your reply along with using the highlighting features.


    Inking in Excel

    Ink will show up just about anywhere.  All you have to do is wave the stylus over the screen in Excel and you will see the Pens menu show up.  Click on it and you can start Inking to your heart’s content.


    Inking in Excel is a great way to annotate things.  Take a look.


    Inking in PowerPoint

    PowerPoint supports ink as well.  Want to make some comments on someone’s slides?  Just bust out your Surface Pen and make your notes.


    Ink in Lync

    When you are conducting an online meeting with Lync, it supports Ink as well…sort of.  You can use the whiteboard feature in a meeting.  It works ok, but it’s not really designed for a stylus.  It doesn’t feature any of the standard menus nor does the eraser function work when you press the bottom button on the Surface Pen.  You can still draw some things with a stylus, but it would be nice to see an update.


    Ink in Visio

    Like the Lync team, the Visio team apparently decided to go with their own Ink implementation as the controls are a bit different.  Hovering the stylus over the screen will not activate a Pens menu in Visio.  Instead, you need to go to the Review menu and click on Ink.


    Here you have a choice between a Ballpoint Pen and Highlighter.  However the icons in which you select them are different.  After you select the tool you want then you have to select the Color and Weight.

    Once you draw on the diagram, it will create a shape automatically for whatever you draw (if you have the option checked).


    It also features highlighting tools.


    Ink is everywhere in Office

    It doesn’t matter what Office application you are using, chance are you can use your Surface Pen in it.  I find that this has already transformed the way I work.  Even when I am using the mouse, I often keep the Surface Pen in my hand so that I can mark on something with ease.  I use it to review documents, take notes, and annotate.  Having the Surface Pen in your set of tools gives you a slight advantage when you are working on Office documents.  Maybe, it’s not for everyone, but once you get used to using it, it’s hard to go back.  In fact you wish your colleagues had a stylus too when they are working on documents with you!

    Be sure and check out my complete Surface Pro 3 review if you are considering one.

  • How to: Fix content types that won’t unpublish from a content type hub

    I’ve been doing a lot of work with content type hubs and sharing them between multiple SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 farms.  The main thing I took away from this experience is that.  Content Type publishing is easy to break and hard to fix.  In my particular case, I ended up with content types that were published by one Managed Metadata Service Application and I wanted them to be published by another service application instead.  If you just change the settings on your Managed Metadata Service Application proxy before unpublishing the content types, you are going to end up in a bit of bind.  The old content types won’t unpublish no matter what you do.

    Here’s how you fix it.  From here on out we’ll refer to the bad content type hub and the good one.  The bad one being the one where the content types are published from but are no longer wanted.  What I have discovered is that if you change the Content Type Hub Url to an invalid address, we can get the types unpublished.  Run the following command in PowerShell to change the Content Type Hub to an invalid URL such as http://server/contenttypes.  Set the name of the Managed Metadata Service Application as appropriate to your environment.

    Set-SPMetadataServiceApplication -Identity "Bad Managed Metadata Service Application" -HubURI http://server/contenttypes

    You will get an error that says that it cannot activate the Content Type Hub feature but that is ok.  Now, you need to ensure that the content type hub is activated on the proxy.  Select the following options:

    • Consumes content types from the Content Type Gallery at http://server/contenttypes
    • Push-down Content Type Publishing updates from the Content Type Gallery to sub-sites and lists using the content type.


    You can leave the other options checked or unchecked as desired.

    Once you have configured the proxy, you need to make sure that this service application is associated with the web applications that you are having trouble with in the service application associations.  This may be the case already, but if it is not associated this content type hub won’t be present on the Content Type Publishing page in the site collection.

    Now, we need to run a few jobs.  Go to Monitoring –> Job Definitions, and then run the Content Type Hub job.   Do this on the server farm that is hosting the Managed Metadata Service Application.  Check the job history to make sure it executes.  It usually is quite fast.  Now on the farm hosting the web applications that you are having issues with, run the Content Type Subscriber job for each web application.  If you did this right, you should be able to watch the job run on the Running Jobs page.  Sometimes, it takes quite a while.


    Once, it’s done, you can go back to the subscribing site collection and verify that the content types from the bad content type hub are no longer published.  Now you need to go back to the proxy settings of the bad Managed Metadata Service Application and uncheck the content type hub settings.

    • Consumes content types from the Content Type Gallery at http://server/contenttypes
    • Push-down Content Type Publishing updates from the Content Type Gallery to sub-sites and lists using the content type.

    At this point, the bad content types are gone and we need to transition over to the new good Managed Metadata Service Application.  Set the Content Type Hub Uri to the new correct content type hub if you haven’t already.  You can use a similar PowerShell statement like the one we used above.  Next ensure that this service application is in the service application associations for the web applications you want to publish content types to.

    Now, you are going to need to republish all of the content types.  Your best bet is to run a PowerShell script to do this.  There are some out there on the Internet, but I’ll post mine to the TechNet script center in the future.  Finally, go to the Content Type Publishing page of each affected site collection.  This is kind of a pain if you have a lot of site collections and I haven’t found a script to automate it yet.


      Finally, run the Content Type Hub job on the farm hosting the good Managed Metadata Service Application.  Once it has finished, run the Content Type Subscriber job on all affected web applications.  With any luck, you should have your published content types working in good order again.

    • Complete Surface Pro 3 Review - 3 days later

      While I have always been a die hard fan of my Surface 2 and Surface RT, when the Surface Pro 3 was announced I was pretty excited.  As someone that travels a lot, I question every item that goes into my bag.  I am done with carrying around an 8 pound Lenovo W520.  With the shift of SharePoint to the cloud with Office 365, I hardly ever need to run a local virtual machine any more.  I found I could get a lot done on the road with my Surface 2.  It has all the Office applications I need plus runs a variety of apps.  However, the once place I had issues is when I needed to use a proprietary VPN to connect to a client.  Although Windows 8.1 has made great strides in this area, most companies don't upgrade their VPN servers very often so I have yet to get the native VPN support to work anywhere.  I need a device that I can use like a laptop while still meeting my tablet needs.  Enter Surface Pro 3.

      This tells my experience after using the device in the last three days.


      My biggest complain with the previous Surface Pros was weight.  Every time I picked up my wife's Surface Pro, I nearly drop it because it's so heavy.  It's just not convenient to hold in your hand and use touch based applications.  If you want to run some desktop apps or connect to the VPN it works great, but it feels like it weighs twice as much as my Surface 2.  In reality it doesn't (2 pounds versus 1.49 pounds), but I've come to realize in the world of tablets every ounce counts. 

      I had a chance to spend some time with a Surface Pro 3 at Best Buy before launch and I was blown away.  There they had all of the Surface devices there which made it easy to compare the weight of them.  Although the Surface Pro 3 is a larger device it is noticeably lighter.

      Let's take a look at the devices   On that occasion where I know I need a Virtual Machine then I would bring my Lenovo T420s.  Although a slightly lighter laptop than my old W520 it still packs a lot of weight.  Recently, I also picked up a Dell Venue 8 Pro which I carry around from time to time.  Let's look at the weight of some of these devices that might be in my bag and why I would bring them with me.

      Device Weight (Pounds) Purpose
      Surface 2 1.49 Note taking in meetings.  Preparing deliverable documents.  Watch videos on the plane.
      Lenovo T420s 5.0 VPN.  Virtual Machines (5 pounds with 1 pound power supply)
      Dell Venue 8 Pro 0.87 Watching videos, reading e-mail, playing games

      If you add all that up, that's 7.36 pounds.  I might as well carry the W520.  Now on good days, I would travel as light as the Surface 2.  This was nice because my bag felt empty.  However, sometimes, I would be caught by the limitations of Windows RT.  The only reason I brought the Dell Venue 8 Pro is because it was shiny and new.  However, I have found that it doesn't make a good device for travel.  It's more suited for casual use around the house.

      The new Surface Pro 3 comes in at 1.76 pounds (around 2.45 pounds with the keyboard) and has the capability of replacing all of the devices in my bag.  Admittedly, I can't run large VMs on it, but that's not really a requirement for me any more.  That means my bag now weighs at least 5 pounds less.  That's significant.  If you look at the average traveler, you will see him or her with a laptop in their bag along with a tablet (usually an iPad).  They have to bring their laptop because they know the iPad is absolutely worthless for business use.  It's gotten a little better with Office but with no keyboard, have fun hunting and pecking letters on that proposal with the on-screen keyboard.  Sure there are Bluetooth keyboards, but they aren't allowed to be used in flight.  Why carry multiple devices?  With the Surface Pro 3, you can leave all of your other devices at home.

      Now, Let's take a look at the device and see why it really is the tablet that can replace your laptop.


      I covered the unboxing on Friday, but I wanted to include some of the highlights here again.  The Surface Pro 3 box itself looks similar to its predecessors with a large number 3 on it.


      The back of it has the specs of the device.


      The box slides out to the right after removing a piece of tape.  Inside, we see the Surface Pro 3 awaiting us.


      Removing the Surface Pro 3, we’ll find a small instruction booklet and the Stylus.  Underneath the instruction booklet is a AAA battery to power the Stylus.


      The power supply is hidden away in the compartment on the right.  It’s similar to the model used on previous Surface Pros.


      When you power on the device, you will see the similar Surface logo and quickly be prompted to enter your region settings.  After you set your region, the device will ask you to pair the stylus.  Unscrew the stylus and you will find the spring loaded cap has a tag attached indicating how to insert the battery.  I figured it would be possible to remove this tag but it didn’t appear to come out easily.  So instead you have to cram it back in with the battery.  After you get the battery in and the cap screwed back on, you need to hold the button on the top of the stylus down for seven seconds for it to pair.  The stylus is simply another Bluetooth device.


      The Surface Pro 3 is a great looking device.  Microsoft is really trying to reinforce that the Surface Pro 3 can be used vertically.  As a result, the familiar Windows button has been moved to the right side of the device.  Making it ideal when you are holding the device in that direction.


      Like the Surface 2, the Surface Pro 3 went with the magnesium color in the back with the Surface branding on the kickstand.  The back really looks a lot like a Surface 2 only a bit larger.


      The rest of the buttons on the device (Power and Volume) are in similar position compared to the previous Surface devices.  You can find the volume and headphones out on the left.


      You can find the Mini DisplayPort, USB port, and power connector on the right.



      As you might have heard, the kickstand on the device has been improved significantly.  When you open it, the kick stand goes to a position similar to the default position of previous devices.  I find this position to be good when I am working at a desk.


      If you want to adjust the position further.  You just pull it a little more.  The hinge on it is quite tight and gives a bit of resistance.  You almost feel like you shouldn’t be pushing on it that hard.  Not to worry though, you shouldn’t break your new tablet as you bend it all the way to 150 degrees.  This allows you to lie the device nearly flat which is great for people using the stylus to do graphic design work in Adobe Photoshop. 


      Here’s an angle in the middle.


      With the Kickstand open, you can see the model information for your Surface.


      Ports, Cameras, and Power

      The one common complaint I have read in early reviews is the device’s single USB 3.0 port.  This is a minor inconvenience, that I have been able to work around.  For example, I have the ArcTouch Surface Edition mouse which is Bluetooth.  My headset is Bluetooth as well.  I plan on getting a docking station as well which features 3 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and an additional Mini DisplayPort.  Unfortunately, it’s not available until August, so in the meantime, you can always make use of a USB hub if you need more ports.

      The Surface Pro 3 features 5.0 megapixel cameras on the front and back.  These are useful for video chatting in Skype and taking pictures of whiteboards with OneNote.

      Whereas the Surface Pro 2 had a 48w power supply, the Surface Pro 3 has a 36w power supply.  As a result, it’s a little bit smaller.  The Surface Pro power supply is to the left and the new Surface Pro 3 is on the right.


      It still features the same USB port on it so that you can charge device as well.  What is really different is the connector to the Surface itself. 


      This connector is much easier to plug into the Surface and you’re much less likely to misconnect and find your device’s battery dead in the morning.  It lights up to indicate it’s connected like previous devices.



      Although the new Surface Pro 3 is a larger device, you can still use your old keyboards that you have purchased.  They'll be a little smaller than your device, but if you want to use them, knock yourself out.  I’ve attached an old Type Cover 1 to the device in the picture below. 


      Although the width of the keyboard compared to the Surface Pro 3 is pretty comparable.  It looks just plain silly when the cover is not in use.


      That’s why I recommend dropping the $129 and buying a new type cover 3.  The new covers come in Black, White, Red, Cyan, and Blue.  You can only get the Red covers from Microsoft stores and you can only get the Blue covers from Best Buy.  Right now, Best Buy doesn’t seem to have the Blue cover in many stores, but you can get them online. 

      They have redone the packaging a bit on the new covers.


      When you open the device be sure and get the Stylus loop that comes in the pouch in the bottom right of the package.  It’s easy to miss.  This little loop will hold your stylus when you are on the go.


      Once it’s attached with your stylus, it looks like this (red keyboard shown below):


      You can see the new Surface branding that they added to the back of the cover on the right.

      The new type keyboard is similar to the previous ones but with a larger improved track pad.  I find the track pad to be quite easy to use compared to the previous type keyboard where I was always having issues getting it to do what I want.  This keyboard is also backlit which is nice when you are using it in a low light environment.

      One of the pain points with Surface to date is it’s use when sitting in your lap.  The issue is that the keyboard isn’t held sturdy when you are typing on it because of the way it is designed.  The new Surface Pro 3 type keyboard addresses this by adding an extra fold to the keyboard with a magnet that snaps it onto the front of the device.  This keeps the device quite steady as you are working with it although it’s still not as solid as you are used to with a laptop.  It works though and I have typed half this product review on my lap to test it out.


      It also puts the keyboard at slight angle which you could argue to be “ergonomic”.  Looking at it from the side you can see how it’s connected.


      The one drawback with this is that it can make some of the icons at the bottom of the screen hard to touch.  It’s not a deal breaker just a minor inconvenience.  Either way, this is a huge improvement.  It will make using the device at conferences much more enjoyable.


      Surface Pro 3 comes in a variety of processor, memory, and storage combinations.  However, currently only the i5 / 4 GB memory / 128 GB storage and i5 / 8 GB memory / 256 GB storage combinations are available.  I went with the latter.  If you plan on running a number of application at the same time in desktop mode, I highly recommend the 8 GB models.  I found in my typical workload, I easily exceeded 4 GB of memory.  It costs an additional $300, but it’s worth it.


      Looking above, I am sitting at just 4.1 GB of memory with Outlook, a few browsers, Lync, OneNote, Word, and PowerPoint open.

      The device easily keeps up with all of my tasks with the i5 processor.  I know some of you are holding out for the i7, but I can definitely get the job done with this.  When the device does get going, you’ll hear the fan kick on.  When I see this most is when I am installing software.  Although it’s not as loud as some laptops I have had before, it is definitely noticeable.  The device also tends to get hot when this happens.  The heat is centered around the right side (bottom side when holding vertically) of the device and you may not want to be holding it when it warms up.

      The device vents air with a groove that goes around the top of the device just like the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2.  You won’t usually notice any air coming from it.


      Connected Standby

      If you have been using a Windows RT device, you have come to expect having your device wake instantly and be always connected.  That means with Windows RT, your device chimes when you have a new e-mail or rings when you have a new call over Skype.  With Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, if the screen was off, none of that was going to happen.  That means your call is missed.  What's cool is Surface Pro 3 brings connected standby to the device.  That means you'll get that call even when the screen is off.  It has power management settings that eventually shift it from connected standby to hibernation after being unplugged for a long period of time.  So it may not be quite as good as a Windows RT device in this area, but it's close.

      If you leave the device in standby overnight, it will hibernate after a few hours.  Pressing the power button the next morning, the device is back up in running in about 8 seconds.

      Screen Resolution

      With a resolution of  2160x1440, this 12” screen is quite impressive.  The aspect ration has shifted from 3:2 from the previous Surface’s 16:9.  While this aspect ratio might not be as good for watching movies, it’s better for productivity and holding the device vertically.


      With the high resolution of the screen, the scaling level is set to medium by default.  If you change it all the way to the smallest setting, you’ll take maximum advantage of the number of pixels on the screen.  However, you may need glasses to be able to see everything. 


      You can connect an external monitor using the Mini DisplayPort.  If the display resolution on your external display is lower, you might notice that things look large on the second monitor because of the scaling.  This isn’t a deal breaker and there might be a way to tweak it, but it’s a minor annoyance.  I’ve also noticed that my external display seems to not be as bright when connected to the Surface.  It’s like the text is a little fuzzy.  Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the refresh rate is just a bit off or something.  I have tried tweaking the settings but it doesn’t make any difference.

      Another issue relating to resolution and scaling with external monitors is when you drag a window from the Surface to your external monitor.  Since my 27” monitor only supports 1920x1080.  Windows dragged over to it will often be way too large and extend past the bottom of the display.  It’s not really a Surface issue, but more of an “I don’t own a 4k monitor” issue. :)  If you connect an external monitor, I recommend one that can do resolutions equal to or higher than what the Surface Pro 3 does.


      The stylus is cool but I haven’t used it a lot.  Obviously, the primary use cases here are OneNote and graphic designers using Adobe Photoshop.  Clicking the top button on the stylus when the device is locked will open up a special locked down version of OneNote where you can jot down a quick note.  You don’t have access to any of your existing notes here unless you click the Unlock button and login.


      Clicking the stylus again should save the note.  However, I have some trouble with this.  You seem to need to click and hold for a bit.  If you click the Unlock button, you’ll find your notes in the Quick Notes section.



      When the Surface Pro first came out, the media freaked out about the available storage present on the device when you received it.  A significant chunk was taken up by the recovery partition.  Surface Pro 3 follows suit but the devices in general have more storage than their predecessors.  My 256 GB unit had about 211 GB amount of storage free when I got it.  The recovery partition used <X>.  You can use the same processes as before to backup your recovery partition onto a removable drive.


      The system ships with four partitions.


      Here is how they are allocated:

      Partition Space Allocated
      Recovery Partition 1 350 MB
      EFI System Partition 200 MB
      Primary Partition 232.73 GB
      Recovery Partition 2 5.08 GB

      Like all Windows devices, you can recover your space from the recovery partition by backing it up to an external device.

      The device is equipped with a TPM chip and device encryption is also enabled by default.  That should help the device comply with some company’s device security requirements.


      SDXC Slot

      The SDXC slot is tucked away underneath the kick stand.  It’s in a spot that is pretty easy to access.  This is a great way to store your music and videos externally.  I simply took it out of my Surface 2 and popped it in my Surface Pro 3.



      One of the complaints about previous Surface models is that the speakers did not get loud enough.  Part of the problem was that the speakers were pointed away from you out of the side of the device.  This new device features speakers in front of you.  They aren’t noticeable at first but if you look closely, you’ll see two small slits on both sides near the top of the screen.  To really test this out, I tried bringing the device outside to my back porch with me. 


      Typically, I have to rely on a Bluetooth connection to my Jambox to have any hope of being able to hear music out there.  With the Surface Pro 3, you can hear the device easily at 30% – 40% volume.  Get it much above 50% and your spouse will be telling you it’s too loud. :)  I’m very impressed with the speaker performance.

      Battery Life

      The device ships with about 50% power when you first get it.  This could vary greatly when you get yours.  It makes claims of all-day battery life.  I suspect the 9 hours will come in under that by a bit with significant use.  It will definitely be a lot lower if you are using the CPU a lot or playing videos.  It’s still too early to tell on battery life at this point, but I’ll be posting updates as I have them.

      The device does manage power quite well.  On Friday night, I simply turned off the screen by pressing the power button.  I unplugged the device intentionally to see how it does.  When I turned it on, the device had hibernated so it took about 8 seconds to be back up and running.  The amount of power had not significantly drained by any noticeable percentage.  A common issue with Surface Pro was that the device would turn itself back on and run itself dead.  I am thinking we won’t see those problems this time around.


      Windows 8.1 Pro makes it so easy to move from one device to another!  When I first powered up the device and logged in it prompted me if I wanted to copy my settings from a previous device.  I opted to copy the settings and through the magic of the cloud, my start screen reappeared with all of my familiar tiles.  I only had to re-arrange a couple of tiles and it ended up looking exactly like my the start screen on my Surface 2.  It recognizes which apps you had installed before and you can click on just click on the icons to get them downloading.

      One thing to note.  If you happen to buy your device when you are on the road, configuration at a hotel might be a minor issue.  Typically the WiFi at hotels requires you to sign-in, enter a code, or click a button before you are online.  The initial configuration experience doesn’t play well with this.  To get around it, I fired up my MiFi and did the configuration with that device.


      No device is perfect, so it’s natural to run into a few issues with the device.  Especially as it has first been launched.  When I first got it, I had a couple of issues with the keyboard coming out of sleep mode.  In one case, it was as if the Windows key was stuck which made it quite difficult to type.  On my wife’s device, it had the issue where it wouldn’t turn on right away.  There was a firmware released on launch day along with a heap of patches and we haven’t seen either issue since.

      I’ve had another issue where the device refuses to rotate the screen.  I can be holding the device vertically on the couch before logging in.  Once I log in, it flips to landscape mode and won’t come back no matter what I do.  I suspect it could be a desktop app causing it, but it could just be a bug.  Either way, it’s annoying.  The only way to fix it is to reboot.


      Since Surface Pro 3 runs Windows 8.1 Pro, it can run both desktop and modern apps.  If you have had a Windows 8.1 device previously, it will start to download apps gradually after a while.  Otherwise, you can click on them on the Start Screen to get them downloading.

      Since it’s not an RT device, Office is not included.  I chose to use the Click-to-run version included with my Office 365 subscription.  It installs within minutes and I was up and running quickly.  One thing I have noticed about Office though is that it defaults everything to compact mode since it’s running on a tablet.  However, since the screen is so large and can do such a high resolution, it’s really not needed.  I found myself pinning the ribbon bar in Outlook, Word, and the rest of the Office applications.

      Can you run Visual Studio on the device?  Of course!  You might like the high resolution the device can do to get all of your stuff on the screen at once.  It will be small, but if you have good eyes, it’s pretty nice.


      Tablet or laptop or both?

      The Surface Pro 3 is a great tablet running Windows 8.1 Pro.  It also has the power and size to make it a very viable laptop.  Because of this, when you are installing apps, you are going to have to make some decisions about how you are using the device.  With a device that can truly do both, you have to decide if you want to use the desktop version of an app or the modern (Windows 8 metro) version.  For example, which version of Skype should you use?  What about OneNote and Lync?  The problem with apps like Lync and Skype, is that the desktop version is horrible to use with touch.  The problem I have is when I am using the device as a laptop, I want the desktop versions of all my apps.  When I pick it up as a tablet, I want the modern version of all the apps.  I think this is what the Windows app platform really needs to evolve to. Apps need to seamlessly go between full screen and desktop mode depending on how you use the device.

      The device works pretty well as a tablet, especially with the stylus for taking hand-written notes.  When using it as a tablet, I find it feels better to detach the keyboard than simply detach it.  It makes it quite a big lighter that way too.  I tried using it as a tablet as I was sitting in bed the other night.  Although it does let me play a nice gigantic game of Wordament Snap Attack, I find it is a bit bulky to use there.  I’ll stick with my Dell Venue Pro for that use case.  On the flip side though, the next night when I was paying bills I had the keyboard attached and had the device simply sitting on the covers.  It worked great there thanks to the snapping keyboard.  That never worked well on the Surface 2.


      It’s only been three days, but I love the device.  I have fully transitioned to the Surface Pro 3 as my primary device for work.  I think this device is fully capable of meeting most of my daily needs without significant compromise.  Your needs may vary but I think this device is going to work for a lot of you.  When I was talking to the staff at my local Microsoft store they told me that they were already out of stock yesterday to no surprise.  If you have any doubts, drop into a local Microsoft store or Best Buy and check it out. 

      Follow me on twitter: @coreyroth

    • Surface Pro 3 Unboxing

      My wife and I rushed to the UPS facility to pick up our Surface Pro 3 devices this morning.  I just wanted to take a few minutes to show the unboxing before I post my full review coming up.

      The Surface Pro 3 arrived in a gigantic box compared to it’s size.


      Peaking inside, it was tucked away behind protective padding.


      Hiding beneath was the new Surface Pro 3.


      The box itself looks similar to its predecessors with a large number 3 on it.


      The back of the box has all of the specs and details about the device.  I picked the i5 / 8GB / 256 GB model.


      The box slides out to the right after removing a piece of tape.  Inside, we see the Surface Pro 3 awaiting us.


      Removing the Surface Pro 3, we’ll find a small instruction booklet and the Stylus.  Underneath the instruction booklet is a AAA battery to power the Stylus.


      The power supply is hidden away in the compartment on the right.  It’s similar to the model used on previous Surface Pros.


      At this point you are ready to set up your new device. 


      Can it really replace your laptop?  Keep on the look out for my full review.

    • Removing links from the Office 365 suite bar

      When it comes to Office 365, you may not want to have some of the links enabled at the top such as Yammer, OneDrive, and Sites.  Although, I don't recommend disabling them.  Sometimes you just aren't ready or there is a business reason preventing you from showing those links. These settings creeped into Office 365 a while back, but I still have people ask me about them from time to time, so I thought it warranted a quick blog post.


      These settings can be changed by your Office 365 Global Administrator by going to the SharePoint tenant administration site.  Click on the Settings link and you'll find the options to show and hide the OneDrive for Business, Yammer / Newsfeed, and Sites links.


      Hide the links that you don't want to show and then click Save at the bottom of the page.  Once you save your changes, you won't see the navigation change right away.  It seems to take about five minutes.  It seems to be cached per user as well.  Just be patient and the changes should be made.


      If you want to customize any of the other links in SharePoint (or add your own), you'll have to revert back to customizing the master page.  It's not ideal, but it's possible.

    • New branding and publishing content on Office 365 demo sites

      As a partner, you have access to, where you can provision a free Office 365 tenant good for 90 days.  If you aren't familiar with these demo sites in SharePoint Online, they come packed with demo content to demonstrate various Intranet scenarios.  All you need is a Live ID associated with your organization's partner record.  If you are a Microsoft partner and don't have your Live ID associated, the person that manages your partnership in your company can help get you associated.

      What I love about these demo sites is that they are constantly being updated.  The latest revisions brings us a new home page demonstrating a carousel feature for showing off articles using display templates.  You can click on the image in the carousel, however, I find getting to the article to be not very user friendly.  You have to click on the item in the carousel and then click on the large image above.  This might be better implemented using a hover effect.


      Scrolling down, you'll see some familiar content from previous Contoso demo sites, but now they actually have real content behind them.


      If you don't remember the previous home page, take a look at the screenshot below.  It demonstrated content roll-up but you couldn't actually click on any of the links. 


      Now you'll be happy to know that you can finally read the message from the president of Contoso!


      Unfortunately, the news page is still static.  I would like to see this page updated with a Content Search web part to do the news roll-up.  I could see this coming in the future, but in the meantime if you need to demonstrate the concept, it's easy for you to implement.


      Going back to the home page, there's a nice video slider. 


      Clicking on the image of any of them, takes you a video article page.  Unfortunately, I could never get any of them to play even though there is a video player control there.


      At the bottom of the home page, it features some sales metrics.  Unfortunately, this is just a content editor web part with a static link but it does help to demonstrate that you can bring in metrics.  I would love to see this get wired up to some data.


      The web part in the center at the bottom is supposed to show events.  However, there must not be any data loaded for them.


      Lastly, the web part zone in the bottom right shows documents that belong to the user using Content Search.


      This site really is a great example of the kind of things you can do with Content Search web parts and Display Templates.  You can see a list of them that they used when you edit the page.  If you like them enough, you could probably even "borrow" them to make your own.


      As far as the rest of the subsites, I didn't see a lot of differences.  They have new branding but the content appears to be the same.

      Mark Kashman (@mkashman) pointed out that the design is responsive too.  When viewed on a mobile device, the navigation collapses to a "hamburger" menu. You can click on an article and see that content too formatted nicely for your mobile device.


      The Yammer feed is also available using the floating "Y" icon.


      However, when I tried clicking on the Yammer link on my phone it prompted me to get the Yammer App for Windows Phone.  I already had it so I said "no thanks" and it gave me an error trying to render it.

      I think the Office team did a great job with this new home page.  It does a great job showing how you can roll-up content in SharePoint 2013.  It actually demonstrated article publishing and these are the kinds of things that I am guessing a lot of you out there have implemented for clients.  This is going to be absolutely great for demos.  If you don't have a demo Office 365 tenant, go provision one today!

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