New – Mac and PC offerings!

As I look at the training available, and remember my 10 year history with Apple hardware, it occurred to me how I learned the macOS.  I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars for training, but to learn the macOS, you need one thing – a Mac computer.  At Microsoft, we brought in a number of rented iMacs right after an Office launch to show how it could be used cross platform (and a Mac could even be booted into Windows physically or virtually).  I decided with DESA DRIVE to also offer affordable training for Mac.

Next week, I’ll launch three offerings – virtual Mac training (you access a Mac securely through the Internet), physical Mac training (you rent or purchase a Mac computer and do the training on the device) or a hybrid of the two (low end hardware rented or purchased and for any higher end lessons, you access a more powerful system remotely).

Here’s where the Mac offerings differ from the PC offerings – greater flexibility.  A Mac computer allows you to virtualize both it’s OS versions AND Windows client and server versions locally.  You could take a Windows version of Office class on a rented Mac and then at the same time or right after that, take an Office for Mac training class ON THE SAME HARDWARE (or virtually if you don’t have a Mac!)


A Macbook Pro running Windows Server, macOS Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan and Sierra, as well as Windows 10!

Learn at your own pace, flexibility in how and where you learn, networking with other students.  DESA DRIVE (Delivering Relevant Information Via Experiences) launches Monday – at!


Bing Rewards – They’re Real

I get a lot of questions about Microsoft scams – it seems like the amount of email threats, scams, and phone calls from people pretending to be Microsoft (or another computer company) must be making someone somewhere money.  We have taught our kids if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.  That’s why I was really proud when both of them didn’t believe me when I told them about Microsoft Rewards (“how do you get real money from just using the computer and Bing?!?!”  my son asked).  This is that too good to be true offer that’s real.

You don’t get paid directly – Bing Rewards is something you opt into with a Microsoft Account.  It allows you to collect rewards for what you already do – surf the web, search, use a mobile device or tablet.  My son is quickly becoming the expect in Microsoft Rewards.  He shared the news with his younger sister who is now old enough to earn rewards as well (you have to be at least 13 years old –

Sam has already turned some of his Bing Rewards into gift cards.  I think he was more excited about this than working for me in our new business (which he earns a lot more than just Bing Rewards for).  Stay tuned for another “too good to be true” offer involving online training from DESA Enterprises.

Post of the week of 12/19

Here’s a post for the holiday week – it includes a hardware tip from my father, John and a software tip for any platform.  The hardware tip is for any printer.  My dad stopped by to have us assist him with some mailings.  He had some labels to print and walked me through mail merge (something I have not had the need to learn yet).  When we were getting ready to load the labels into my printer, I suggested we run a test page to figure out how to load the labels (should the label be on the top or bottom?  Which side is the top of the page, etc.  My dad showed me the picture on the bottom of the tray that helps you load letterhead, labels, or any other kind of special paper.

There is also an Office Insider program.  Similar to the Windows Insiders, this gets you early access to the Office features that are coming to Mac, Android, iOS and/or Windows!  Since this can be your productivity suite, a secondary system or a virtual system might make sense for features that are early in the cycle, but fortunately I use Parallels on my Mac computer so I can virtualize Windows and Mac OS X on the same system.  Perfect for testing Office and other applications.


Skype for Business – Contacts


Reply with IM – one of the many Outlook 2016 features I used A LOT at Microsoft

I used Skype (and prior to that Lync and early on Office Communicator) – it truly transformed the way I work.  Instead of everything in email, with Skype you can ask a quick question directly.  If a coworker starts something in email that can be quickly answered (or maybe should have been an instant message in the first place), you can respond in context with an IM.



Reply with IM


Here’s the response – and yes we are having Thai.

Tips and Trick Office 365 Groups and Outlook

I was teaching a tips and tricks session today on Outlook for Mac focused on various aspects of scheduling.  Shared calendars came up and we discussed various forms of shared calendars as well as Office 365 Groups.  On the Mac version of Outlook, you don’t see groups, but you can see them from the Web version.  You can also decide when you create an appointment whether to only have it on the group calendar or also on group members individual calendars.  Here’s how I put an appointment only on the group calendar (these screen shots are from Outlook and Internet Explorer on the PC.  The left shows the email a user receives when they join or are added to an Office 365 Group (it has a link to view the group from a browser) the right shows managing the group’s calendar (separate from an individuals calendar).

What if you want everyone in the group to be able to reference appointments or a schedule without cluttering up each member’s local calendar?  This would be one of a few ways to accomplish that (manage the group’s calendar but don’t send the invites to members)

If the appointment makes sense to have on my local calendar as well, I would check the Send an invitation to the group – if not it’s only on the group calendar.


Outlook – Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks + Notes

Some of these tips I have known for a long time – some I have learned more recently.  This is one in the I learned recently column.  If you are using Outlook on a Mac or PC, you can switch between the various views with the following keyboard shortcuts:  CTRL + 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 (on Windows) or Command + 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (on OS X)


How I learn keyboard shortcuts – look at the menus (most applications have the keyboard shortcut listed next to the menu item – on both Windows and OS X)


Tips and Tricks Word 2016 for Windows

I promised a tip for Windows next.  I tested this on a Mac hoping it was a cross platform tip, but it’s still a Windows only trick today.  I discovered one of these and then the other in Word 2013, but it’s been around since at least Word 2003 as well (there’s a link to another article for Word 98 which was a Mac version, so maybe it originated on the Mac, like Word and the Office Suite itself

)  When you are in Word and you want to focus on the layout or the look of a document more than the words, sentences, paragraphs, etc. Use the following =lorem() and press enter.


Here is how you enter the “non-localized, pseudo-Latin sample text” in Word (it also works in PowerPoint or could be copied/pasted into other programs)

It’s handy and can control how much text is placed into the document.  If you use two numbers in the parenthesis separated by a comma, you get the number of paragraphs and then number of sentences specified – (2,4) would produce two paragraphs each with 4 sentences of “non-localized, pseudo-Latin sample text”.  Since it’s Windows only, the files could be saved from a Windows version and then used online or on a Mac or mobile/tablet version of the apps.


Here’s the default output of the lorem feature.

Watch for more features in Office applications coming next week.

Tips and Tricks: PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

PowerPoint was always an app I enjoyed working with and up till discovering this feature, I always preferred the Windows version.  But the Reorder Objects feature on the Mac – wow! Here I have an animation I’m working on and the graphics weren’t in the correct order (I want each graphic to be in front of the previous graphic).  The Reorder Objects gives you a visual representation of each layer and the further to the right indicates that layer is on top of anything to the left.

Launching Outlook.jpg

This PowerPoint build slide shows the OS X Dock, then the Launchpad and finally the Applications window.


Tips and Tricks: Outlook 2016 (Windows + Mac) @mentions

@Mentions – I spend a lot of time in email.  In Outlook 2016 you can now @mention someone to add them to the distribution of a meeting or email!  I met someone at Toastmasters and Sam and I are going to get together to talk.  I need to respond to the sender but add Sam – it’s as easy as typing a name – if there is more than one option, you see the choices:


Adding someone to an email is easy!  Just type the @ symbol and the contact name!


If you want you can delete the contact’s last name.  If you delete the @ and contact, they are removed from the email!


By adding @mention to the calendar invite adds attendees to the meeting automatically!

Had to Leave Microsoft to really appreciate OneNote

One of the first jobs I have landed is providing custom support to LinkedIn members.  It’s fun and reminds me of how much I have enjoyed working with various aspects of support and organizations like HDI in Chicago and Wisconsin.  I have not had to contribute or maintain a knowledge management system in years.  The questions that come up are often the same, so I was using Word to start organizing my responses.  Since the responses need to be categorized and searchable, I thought about what programs I have at my disposal on my computer and it dawned on me OneNote would be a great place to organize, search and retrieve these nuggets.

I have resisted OneNote except in my last position at Microsoft.  OneNote is where we shared customer notes as a team.  Up to that point, I hadn’t collaborated in a shared notebook often.  Now between this customer support job and training, I’ve found the real power of OneNote.  I’ll post some examples later – back to answering questions.