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 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 😉 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 – see 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 – there 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.



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)