Prepping for #MSIgnite – 50% discount on exams taken at the conference.

I was eventually able to find a post on Uservoice that confirmed there was a discount on Microsoft exams if taken at MSIgnite. Pick the exam and register in the normal way, but when selecting the test center, choose Orlando, FL and then select the Ignite center. This will then give you a 50% discount on the exam that will show at the bottom of the invoice.

Microsoft exam discount

All the MSIgnite information is scattered all over the place so you really do need to keep an eye out on the forums and twitter to find out whats happening.

I’m not sure what exams I will take this year but would like to get at least one done whilst I am there.

You can check out the rest of my #MSignite posts here.

Prepping for #MSIgnite – Mobile apps

It appears that the #MSIgnite2017 mobile apps are ready for download now. The Android app is available here and the Apple app here.

I only downloaded the Android version of the app although I was a bit concerned about the authenticity of the app. I have not seen any official notification from Microsoft about the apps being available and the publisher of the application is Eventbase Technology and not Microsoft. The reviews were also pretty scathing saying that the logins did not work so all the signs were pointing to a phishing attack.Microsoft Ignite app on the Google play store. Would you trust this app?However, Eventbase Technology, Inc seem to do a lot of event apps for various people so it sounded like it may be legit. After the app was downloaded it did go to an official looking live.com signin page and as I have 2fa enabled on my account and my account password is different that passwords used anywhere else I didn’t feel too nervous about signing in.

Curiously the app has an option to create a Live Id as it’s just providing the standard Live Id login page but this functionality is kind of pointless as you need an id to sign up for MSIgnite in the first place.

Unlike the others, I was able to sign in successfully and the schedule that I’ve already setup online synchs down nicely to the app. As you can see from the image below it doesn’t help with overlapping schedules ūüėČ but you can see the ability to add/remove sessions to the schedule.Android Session Scheduler for #MSIgnite 2017

Interestingly, I still don’t see the keynotes listed in the session schedules. Anyone know when these are and why they would not be in the scheduler?

Prepping for #MSIgnite – External battery pack review

In part 2 of my prepping for #MSIgnite series (see also part 1 for Session plans) I thought I would document my thoughts for extending the battery life for my laptop(s). I’m still not sure whether to take my personal Surface Pro3 or the company laptop – a Lenovo P50S. The former is lighter, smaller and much easier to lug around the conference all day and with the touch screen and Onenote I will finally be able to use the full onenote experience of recording a talk whilst making notes in Onenote with the automatic audio bookmarking enabling me to go back in time for the audio at the point that I made the notes.¬† The latter has the bigger screen but that is basically it. Most of the work apps are browser based apart from outlook but I can use OWA for that too so really either machine can be used.

The downside is that neither of the machines have a great battery life. In recent usage at work, the Lenovo didn’t even make it through half a day before needing power and I know the Surface isn’t that great either. Note that neither of the computers currently use the battery saver as the screen brightness and performance normally needs to be at their brightness for day to day usage.

For the conference I will probably be using battery saver mode to eek out as much battery life as possible. I didn’t realise there were so many options for the battery when you hit start/battery in Windows 10

Options available in Win10 after Start / Battery
Start / Battery

As I didn’t want to run out of battery and I don’t think I will take both laptops with me each day on the conference I decided to get an external battery pack that will allow me to charge either of the laptops and also my phone (which seems to have a 6 hour lifespan too).

The FAA has rules that determine the size of the battery that can be taken on a plane and as I’m not driving down to Florida, this was one of the biggest factors in selecting a device (plus price of course) . The FAA regulations basically state that you can’t have anything that has a capacity of over 100wH in either carry on or checked luggage.¬† Unfortunately a lot of the power pack ratings on Amazon focus on the total capacity as the bigger the number the more impressive it sounds and they often do not state the wH which is what the FAA require.¬† The FAA does provide some calculations to obtain wH (divide the mA by 1000 and multiply by the volts, but this ends up with widely different numbers if you have different voltages for the battery pack.¬† However searching the questions or reviews for the word fly or plane will often show someone else asking if the device can be carried on the plane.

My initial battery choice was 50,000mAh as this would apparently charge the surface about 2-3 times based on one comment but this was way over the FAA allowance – however, batteries in the 25,000mAh seemed to be compliant so in the end I decided to get the Poweradd Pilot Pro2 23000mAh Power Bank for $89 from Amazon as this is 85wH and therefore under the limit. The rating is stamped on the back of the device to easily show security at the airport if needed. This device comes with tons of different tips for the various laptop inputs including the weird Lenovo tip that I would need. Unfortunately it did not come with the Surface adapter so that was an extra $9 to get the Threeeggs DC Plug Charging Cord Power Supply for Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (which is also compatible with the Surface Pro 3). This adapter has a nice generous 5′ cord to go between the laptop and the battery bank which makes it a lot easier to use on the go. Combine that with the 7′ long power supply (if you wanted to keep the battery charging) and you have the nice ability to keep connected and trip up lots of people – so be careful where you put those cords!

 

Size wise, the battery pack is just under half the size of a surface pro 3 at 4.75 by 7.25 (the surface is  11.5 by 8in) and 0.75 vs 05 in thick so should easily fit in your laptop carry case Рsee photo below for comparison.Surface Pro 3 and Poweradd powerbank

 

As far as the power is concerned, after about 15 minutes on charge with the battery, the power pack had depleted 8% and the laptop was up to 12% full from the 4% that was left on the laptop after I received the low battery warning. At this point in time, the time to charge to full capacity on the laptop was 5 hours and 1 minute. In comparison the time to charge using a mains charger was 2 hours and 2 minutes. Note that you have to wait a few seconds for the estimated full charge indicator to popup after entering the battery settings on the pc.Battery charging indicatorThe charge time seems to be pretty excessive but the good news is that you can still use the computer while the battery is being charged Рthere were a couple of reviews on other power packs that mentioned that the laptop would not actually charge whilst plugged in if the laptop was in use. One of the reviews stated you should switch the output of the power bank  to 15v if you want to use the Surface and charging. This power bank also goes up to 19v which will be required to charge the Lenovo P50S.

After about 50 minutes I was up to 26% charged, with an estimated 2 hours left. I closed the laptop and left it complete the charge. When I came back 3 hours later, the Surface was fully charged and I had 18% left on the battery pack. This will definitely give me enough power to extend the usage of the laptop all day at Ignite and the power pack is quick enough to recharge overnight ready for the next day. Obviously a power strip is also in my packing list for #MSIgnite

I’ll be running some comparative tests on the Lenovo P50s later to see how the battery does for this device but thought I would get another post published before it’s too late.

So far it looks like this Power Bank will do a good job for me at MSIgnite2017 – at under $100 with all the tips I’d ever need (and many more besides), this won’t break the bank and should let me stay connected all day.

Let me know if you’ve tried any other battery packs and if you have other tips for keeping connected whilst at the conference.

 

 

Excuse the mess – I’m retheming the website.

I realized that my last post with multiple pictures in it was not displaying well on screens as the theme I was using was not a responsive theme and resizing to fit the screen display.

I have therefore switched to the WordPress 2017 theme as it looks pretty decent and the images and layout display as intended without nasty overlays over the top of the right hand navigation bars.¬† Having said that, this theme no longer has right hand navigation bars which I’m not very happy with and the¬†huge header image in a very low resolution looks pretty bad. Hopefully they will be back soon and the image logo rectified but we have a pretty hectic weekend or two planned.

I have quite a few from various activities I have been involved in this year so there may well be some new images making a rotation in the header.

Please let me know what you think of this – to me the static image gives a more consistent branding look as opposed to a website that looks different every time you visit.

I can’t remember the last time I changed the look and feel of the site – the previous theme was a mix of a published theme I had plus some code taken from my previous Movabletype installation adapted to work in WordPress – yes it has been that long!

If you have recommendations of (non premium) themes that look decent, are responsive and suitable for a blog format then I have an open ear for the suggestions.

Prepping for MSIgnite – Review the session plans.

In just over a month I will be heading down to Florida for Microsoft Ignite (#MSIgnite) – the conference formerly known as TechEd. This is a conference that I’ve always wanted to go to and this year I am finally able to get to go.
It’s a large Microsoft based conference and I know I am going to learn a ton and be extremely tired at the end of the work.

As this is my first visit, I thought I would add some notes over the next few weeks on my planning for #msignite. Feel free to follow along and add any comments and advice to the posts.

Review the session plans

Last week the Myignite site had the session planner activated – there are currently 1124 sessions planned right now and it is essential that you plan the sessions that need to be attended before you go to the conference.
One of the attendees has also released a PowerBI app that gives a really nice graphical browser view to the sessions in a calendar view – This is a browser option only though and doesn’t allow you to add sessions to your calendar/planner.

Neat graphical viewer for #MSIgnite sessions
1500 sessions is pretty overwhelming so I would recommend that you select the subject matter(s) that you are particularly interested in as that will then filter down the list of relevant sessions.

Don’t get too excited and expect the number to drop drastically, especially if you are involved in a lot of subjects. My list of sessions went from 1500 to 540 to pick from.
Select the Personalized sessions edit icon at Personalized session to select the topics you are interested in.

I then went through this list and selected the option to add to schedule option to select all the sessions I am interested in. Some of these sessions are ones that I would want to download and view later, some of them are ones that I want to attend. Right now I do not see a way of prioritizing these sessions as must attend, 1st choice, stream later – hopefully this is possible in the future.

Once you have selected all of the sessions you are interested in, go to my schedule under My Conference/My Schedule and then select the week view. This is where you see that you have probably double, triple or quadruple booked your sessions. This is where the priority options would come in handy so a colour coded view would allow you to see which sessions you really want to go to.

Weekly schedule in Ignite.

Last year there was a mobile app that would help you keep up to date with session changes (there has already been several changes published to the conference page) but I don’t see it available at the moment – there are plenty of ignite 2017 apps in the Google store but none of them are the Microsoft ones (at time of writing)

WordPress fixed.

Well that was embarrassing Рthis website  has been down for a while. It looks like some kind of WordPress upgrade blew the site up Рthe site was last updated 7/30 so I know it was fine then but it looks like some plugins were updated on 8/2 so probably around that point in time, but looking at my visit stats it looks like it actually went down on the 3rd/4th August.

When I went to the site this evening I got an ugly message of “Fatal error: Class ‘WP_Widget_Custom_HTML’ not found in¬†/pathtomywordpresslocation/wp-includes/class-wp-widget-factory.php¬†on line¬†106″

From what I can tell, this is the one of the core files from WordPress so is not a file that typically gets changed.

The typical advice for this sort of error is to deactive the plugins installed – either through the database or by renaming the plugins directory in the wp-content directory. ¬†I found that this didn’t actually work and I had to run a manual update for WordPress as per the instructions at¬†https://codex.wordpress.org/Updating_WordPress#Manual_Update

Note that when removing the plugins, wp-includes and wp-admin directory you may want to rename them rather than delete – this way you always have a copy to refer back to. I found that my theme actually required some files from the plugin directory so although the admin site was available, the main site was not available until after I copied the plugins back.

Even more interestingly, after installing WordPress manually and logging into the admin interface I still get “An automated WordPress update has failed to complete –¬†please attempt the update again now” ¬†This is easily fixed by deleting the .maintenance file in the main wordpress directory and then refreshing the admin page.

Phew!

I have now updated my monitor script to check for the existence of text in the page as opposed to just checking that the web page is up and running.

 

 

 

Review: Match Up

Match UpMatch Up by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had only read a couple of these authors and I am always on the lookout for new books to read so this was a great way of trialing them out. The unique idea of blending characters from different authors together in multiple short stories was intriguing and worked really well. None of the tales felt awkwardly written. Each story was different and engrossing – the only sad thing is that they are short stories and I often wondered what would happen next! Highly recommended – especially if you’ve read at least one of the authors and want to see one of the characters in a completely different scenario.
Netgalley was kind enough to give me an ARC for this book but it would definitely be a book I would get for myself.

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Review: Very Serious Haiku from a Very Serious Dog

Downward Dog: Very Serious Haiku from a Very Serious DogDownward Dog: Very Serious Haiku from a Very Serious Dog by Samm Hodges
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some funny haiku
make an entertaining read
No photos used though.

A very quick, cute read. As a fan of the tv series, I hope this book isn’t a spoiler of what is to come in the episodes as there is an unexpected and (initially) sad event in the book but keep reading!
I was initially expecting photos to be used in the book but instead there are cute pictures (which is probably just as well considering some of the subject matter!). But this combined with just a few words on the simple pages along with a read that takes less than 5 minutes, does make me wonder what the value for money is in the book.

Thanks to NetGalley for the Advanced Review Copy for this book.

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