Teams is more than just a replacement for Skype for Business on your PC, it’s also a consummate mobile app that functionally eclipses its predecessor in many ways, and even its desktop sibling in some. If you haven’t installed the Teams mobile app on your phone, go and get it (and other Office apps) for Googly Devices or Fruity Phones. The remaining Windows Phone users can follow the setup link here, though be prepared for disappointment.
The “Calls” tab on the mobile version on the app is more usable in some senses than Calls on the PC version of Teams is, since it exposes phone numbers more easily. On the desktop Teams app, if you want to use the service to call an existing contact via the POTS, the actual phone number you use can at times be somewhat obscured.
On the PC app, for example, if you look at History, you’ll often seen a list of people but it’s not clear which number they called from (or you called them on), and you’ll need to use the Contacts list within Calls to be able to direct a new call to a specific number.
In the Teams mobile app, if you look at the Calls tab, under History, tap on a line and then the card to the right side of the list of icons, you’ll get a contact card and the ability to respond back – using Teams – to any one of the listed phone numbers.
Under Settings, you also get a bit more direct control over do not disturb functionality with quiet hours and days.
Finally, one of the great new functions in Teams mobile is the building-in of Org Chart functions, so you can browse the global address list hierarchy while on the move (assuming such info is populated in the directory).
Just search for a contact’s name, and their organisational tree is only a tap away.
For more tips on using Teams Mobile, see here.
Tag: Unified Comms
Tip o’ the Week #199 – Checking your home network speed
As winter bites, as roadworks cause pandemonium, there may be a trend for staff to work at home more. Microsofties all know Lync powers the ability to effectively work and be contactable when you’re sitting in your shreddies in your home office.
If you have a less than perfect broadband connection, though, Lync may be a cause of frustration as it reverts to warning of a “pretty bad” connection, and remote participants might complain about not being able to hear you, even if you can more-or-less hear them.
This is a symptom of a poor internet connection at home – very likely nothing to do with whether you’re on WIFI or wired, as the connection to the internet is likely the bottleneck in both cases. If in any doubt, there are a few tests you can run to see if your network is under pressure, and maybe even figure out why.
Test, test and test again
It’s always difficult to get an accurate idea of your own broadband speed – it’s quite variable so from one minute to the next, you can get wildly different results. If there is a bottleneck, it could be anywhere between you and the resource you’re trying to connect to – and any *** in the chain could be causing the issue.
Speedtest.net is a popular site for testing your connection speed over a minute or two (making sure you don’t click on any of the adverts to speed up your PC, clean the Registry, install Google Chrome etc).
It will first test your “PING” (the time in milliseconds it takes to send a request and get a response, ideally in single or low double figures), then tries a download followed by a short upload test. Typical ADSL speeds could be 2-6mbps (megabits/sec, so 6mbps would equate to 0.75 Mb per second) download, and a few hundred kbps upload (kilobits/sec, so a 250kbps rating equates to only 31.25 Kb per second). Fancy-pants cable or fibre broadband types need not worry – generally – though sometimes may see varying spikes and troughs in the connection fidelity. The very rural who insist on living miles from the nearest telephone exchange may be stuck with 1mbps down though your upload speed may still be in the few hundred kbps.
If you imagine being on a Lync call, the upload speed is the bottleneck to decent quality – where you might be made sound like a fast/slow/quick-quick/slow Dalek to other participants if you have too low bandwidth, or too high latency, or PING results (a symptom of the latency in the network being too high to effectively support real-time communications such as a voice call or an Xbox Live game).
To find out what your theoretical maximum speeds should be, you might be able to check in the configuration of your router, or else (assuming you’re on BT provided broadband), try using the BT Wholesale Speed Tester. Run the first test, then click on Further Diagnostics, provide your landline phone number and you’ll get more info.
Pingtest.net needs Java (oooh, how quaint) installed on your PC to get the most out of it, but still kinda-works without it. It will test the quality of your connection (as opposed to the speed of it) and can be a useful barometer of troubles elsewhere. One issue that can cause very high reported latency could be that your connection is being maxed out by something else – kids in the house streaming movies, downloading large files etc.
Uploads can kill the capacity of your connection, however – if you’re uploading files to a SharePoint site over DirectAccess, for example, you’ll see a drop in perceived download speed too and your reported latency will likely shoot up.
There’s a nice utility called WinMTR which can be used to track the latency between you and the internet (or in fact, of your broadband supplier’s network – who knows, maybe the problem is upstream and in the telephone exchange?). Drop in a URL or IP address and you’ll get the equivalent of a TRACERT performed repeatedly, showing average, best & worst response times for each hop between you and the eventual resource – if you’re seeing averages that are reasonable but the odd very high spike, then you’ve got a problem.
What’s causing the bottleneck?
If you’ve managed to rule out errant family members as possible causes of your poor connection, it’s worth checking your own PC before chewing out the broadband supplier – you never know, it could be a background process on your own machine that’s doing the damage.
With Windows 8.1 and the deep SkyDrive integration, as well as SkyDrive Pro and the ability to take files offline with SharePoint 2013, it’s quite possible that your own PC is busy uploading Gbs worth of content back to the office, all the time hammering your home network uplink, and causing massive latency for Lync and other applications. To perform a quick check on what is using the network on your machine, then Resource Monitor is your friend.
To start the tool, go to Task Manager (right click on the Taskbar and choose Task Manager, or else press CTRL-SHIFT-ESC, a simple three-finger gesture all along the left on your keyboard). Once in Task Manager, you can get some basic info on what’s hogging your machine’s resources, both now and (for Modern Apps) historically, and you can also see some pretty detailed stats on how the machine is performing all-up.
In the Performance tab, there’s an Open Resource Monitor button. If you know you want to go straight there, you could just type resmon at the Start menu to jump straight to the app.
Once you have the Resource Monitor up and running, a simple check is to look in the Network tab – click to sort by Send B/sec and you can see if something is bogging down the machine’s performance trhough upload…
If you tick one of the check boxes next to a particular process, you’ll see (under Network Activity, TCP Connections and Listening Ports) what activity that particular application is doing. Watch out for GROOVE.EXE and SKYDRIVE.EXE as potential file synchronisation villains…
You could try right-clicking on the SkyDrive Pro applet in the system tray, and choose to Pause syncing. That’s GROOVE taken care of (you thought you’d seen the last of that application? Think again…). If you’ve other processes causing problems, try right-clicking on the process name and Search Online to find out what it might be, and get you one step closer to figuring out how to return normality.
Tip o’ the Week #164 – Work Anywhere with Windows 8
Recruiter Nick Papé recommended this week’s topic. Escalation Engineer with spare time on his hands Ben Phillips wrote a cracking Windows 8 app to inspire Nick, and UC overlord Steve Tassell had this to say about it:
“The app is another step in the consortium providing practical advice and guidance which our growing community so dearly crave. This is also an important vehicle in helping us promote the second annual Anywhere Working week which is running again from 18th-22nd March. There are many activities planned for the week but, I want to highlight to you the roadshows running all week. We are planning an ambitious tour of the country taking our Office hub experience nationally. In Partnership with local authorities, we are providing a networking opportunity, technology experience and Ignite-style sessions from businesses and experts already working flexibly. You can find more details and means to register here.“
Of course, Nick and Steve are both very keen to stress the possibilities of remote working using Lync – every “snow day” is another day to celebrate and sell the technology benefits, in other words. Well, news reached us of a looming collaboration between Skype and Lync, and the promise of some groovy new Lync 2013 mobile clients, due in the coming months.
Tip o’ the Week #159 – Avoiding breakers on the side
What’s that you say? A Breaker on the Side? Well, Back in the late 1970s and early 80s, no self-respecting furry-dice-toter would be without their Chicken Box in their Roller Skate. The radio was channel-based, and though the users could agree to move a conversation onto a specific channel, there was always the possibility that someone else could either come in and crash the conversation, or they might be on that channel already.
Which was often interesting.
This week’s Tip comes after a day of being on both sides of the modern, Lync-based equivalent – that of having a conference call which has unintended participants. This often happens because the organiser of the call is using the same conference ID for multiple Lync meetings – by default, when using the Outlook addin to create an online meeting (or to add Lync meeting details to an existing appointment), the user’s default Conference ID is used to create that meeting. And that can lead to unexpected and potentially embarrassing behaviour.
It’s possible when you’ve finished a conference, that new people will start to join for the next one, and previous attendees will still be online (they may have hung up the audio piece, but if they haven’t closed their Lync window and they haven’t been booted out specifically, they’ll still appear as attendees). Worse, if there was material – such as slides – being presented in the conference, it could still be available to the newly joined people. Another scenario is that if a call is over-running, and new attendees for the next one scheduled join straight into the tail end of the previous call. They’ll probably be all, “Hello? Hello?” when they come online, and of course they’ll hear the dregs of the previous meeting as it wraps up. Bad enough in an internal meeting, but terrible in a customer or partner one.
In order to make sure this doesn’t happen, when you create a new appointment and make it a Lync Meeting, check out the Lync Meeting Options on the ribbon – the default will probably be to use your dedicated meeting space, but you might want to create a new space… with its own conference ID, and its own settings regarding whether people get to wait in the lobby, who’s a presenter etc.
Thanks to Chris Parkes for suggesting this timely tip.
Now, 10-10, see you again.
Tip o’ the Week #121 – Networking with Lync
This week, we have a semi-rehash of earlier tips (#51 and #67), based on some investigation work that’s been done inside Microsoft’s own IT group.
If you’re going to join a Lync call (especially if you’re using video or app sharing, using a Roundtable/Polycom CX5000 device etc), then best practice is to use a wired network connection. If you’ve a laptop which is on WiFi, then you need think about your connection if you want the call quality to be at its best.
Windows 7 and Windows 8 prefer wireless networks, on the basis that if you’re connected to a WiFi network, then there’s a reasonable chance you’re on a laptop and therefore you’re likely to move around.
Lync really wants a nice, fast, low-latency network connection. In a typical Microsoft office environment, most users have laptops and most will be connected to wireless, meaning the WiFi is going to be pretty congested, compared to a wired network at least. And congested, slow(er) networks don’t make for great call quality (as is sometimes evidenced by the network connectivity icon).
The Lync client is network-aware, though, and will default to using the highest-performing network it can. So, if you’ve a laptop that’s on WiFi and plugged into Ethernet, then Lync will use the wired network in preference. There’s one important consideration though – Lync can’t switch an in-progress call between WiFi and wired!
So if you establish a call on Wireless, then see the dreaded red bars that tell you all is not well with your network, simply plugging in a network cable won’t do you any good. You’d have to drop the call and re-establish it to make a difference.
To be sure which network you’re using for the call, fire up Task Manager – right-click on the Taskbar and choose Task Manager, or just press CTRL-SHIFT-ESC.
In Windows 7, select the Networking tab, and if you’re using Windows 8 Consumer Preview, look under Performance and you’ll see little graphs of how your networks are doing. This will help you see which network is being used to carry all that data.
A simple way of checking the behaviour is to use the Lync client’s test call facility and see which one spikes…
If the WiFi is taking the brunt, then make sure the wired network is connected OK, then disconnect the call and re-establish it, and you should see the wired network usage jump up.
No real need to disable WiFi, but if you have a switch on your laptop to do that, and you’re a suspicious sort (or untrusting type), then doing so may hurry the process along.
Tip o’ the Week #113 – Add context to your Lync status
One of the biggest cultural impacts of using Instant Messaging and UC technology in a business context is the way that people tend to check the status of someone before contacting them. It’s a relatively rare occurrence to get an internal phone call out of the blue if both parties are online: usually, it would be set up with a quick chat on IM first – then the calling party knows that the call they make isn’t going to drop to voice mail.
To quote UC aficionado Tony Cocks, “it’s all about presents”.
Or presence, and the value that it gives to anyone trying to contact you.
If you’re set to Do Not Disturb (DND), for example, we probably all know that means trying to send an IM won’t work. Trying to call via Lync or on the internal phone number won’t get through either – setting yourself to DND sends all calls straight to voice mail (or straight to oblivion, for many people). I heard a story the other day about someone who got an unannounced incoming cellular call – the caller saying, “yeah, I saw you were on Do Not Disturb so thought I’d call your mobile…” Like, duuuuh…
Did you know you can allow people you trust to interrupt you when you’re on DND..? Right-click on their name in Lync, choose “Change Privacy Relationship” (right at the bottom of the menu). Set them to be part of your Workgroup, and when you set yourself to DND, they’ll see you instead as being on Urgent Interruptions Only. And they can IM you.
Anyway, we can infer a lot from someone’s automatic status – if they’re Busy, then chances are their Outlook calendar has been blocked out or they may have manually set the status to show they’re busy. That doesn’t mean they’re uncontactable – only that if they don’t respond, then you shouldn’t be surprised. If they’re In a Meeting, it means not only is the Outlook calendar blocked out, but it’s being blocked by a meeting with more than one attendee. Maybe that means you could still IM the person, but they probably wouldn’t be able to take a call. If they’re on In a Call or In a Conference Call, then they’ll definitely not be able to take a call as they’re on one already…
If they’re Away (like Richard, here), then they’ve probably either wandered off from their PC or else they’ve locked the computer (WindowsKey + L), and you may get some extra context about how long they’ve been away for. If only a few minutes, they could be sitting at their desk talking with someone (or reading a paper etc), and sending an IM might get an immediate response … but if it’s been 30 minutes, they probably are genuinely not there and you’d better look elsewhere, or send an email.
Add further context
As you can see from Richard’s status above, he’s also got a line below his name that says where he is – TVP. Actually, this is just set by the free-text note field at the top of the Lync main window (which asks “What’s happening today?” if you haven’t set anything else). It’s a handy way of giving a little more context if you want people to know, or just provide a pithy one-liner akin to a Facebook status.
If you want to be a little more specific you can also provide a number of custom presence states, so rather than just being Busy you could be Busy writing reports, or instead of being Available you could be Working from home. See TechNet or previous missives on this blog.
For place specific info, you could try setting up custom locations – in short, when your PC appears on a particular network, you can give it a name and then whenever you use the PC at that location, it will show up in your own Lync client right under your name and your status. Different locations needs to be named separately (eg Home, CP, Edinburgh, TVP).
It’s not all that obvious to everyone else, however – to see someone else’s custom location, right click on their name and View Contact Card (or just click on their name and press ALT-ENTER). If they’ve set a location up, you’ll see it – otherwise they’re either not in a place they’ve named, or you’ll just see their time zone. If you want to make it plain to everyone else where you are, then you may want to stick to custom status and/or using the Lync “What’s happening today?” text status field.
You can see set the Lync status on the above screenshot is Off work – that tells the world that even though I’m online via Lync, I’m not online to do work… and if someone was to click on my details, they could see a whole load of information about whether I’m likely to respond to their IM. If you’ve set your status to Off work and someone IMs you about work, then it’s perfectly acceptable to just ignore the message (press Esc to get rid of the popped-up window in one fell swoop). Well, depends who it is…
Tip o’ the Week #111 – Sharing PowerPoint in Lync?
If you’re regularly part of a Lync call which involves presenting slides, here’s some best practice that everyone should know about. In a nutshell – don’t share your whole desktopto show the PowerPoint slides; don’t even share PowerPoint as a single program (something that Lync would allow you to do), but it’s really not the best way.
Why not?In general, the user experience is better if you show slides by uploading them into the meeting/call. Showing slides by sharing the whole desktop is inefficient on the network too; if the network isn’t so great (eg when attendees are on slower lines), it can be practially unusable. Also, unless you’re really smooth in the way you operate the PC, you’re in danger of showing more than just the slides – email alerts, incoming IMs from other people popping up etc. A slicker way of sharing slides is to use Lync’s built-in functionality designed to do just that.
If you have slides sitting on your PC, the quickest way of adding them into your meeting is to click on the Share button within the conversation window, and select PowerPoint Presentation, which will then give you the option to choose a PowerPoint file to be shown – the Lync software will then upload the PPT to the server, and convert it to an HTML format that can be shown in a browseror in the Lync client. This process of uploading & conversion can take a little while if you have a large or complex PPT, so it’s best to start uploading as early as you can.
The nice thing about using this mechanism to share slides is that they are now in the meeting, and other attendees could take over as presenter quickly – you could even leave the meeting and let them continue.
If you store your slides on a SharePoint site, there’s a trick to quickly uploading the slides to your meeting. One way would be to navigate to the document library in the browser, and then Open with Explorer – another would be to simply open the SharePoint site in Windows Explorer, by using the UNC – eg instead of going to http://sharepointemea/sites/love-it/tipoweek, go to the start menu and simply type \\sharepointemea\sites\love-it\tipoweek.That way, you could browse to the document just as if it’s on your hard disk.
If you go back up to the point earlier in this tip, to where you’d add a slide deck from your PC – you could type the \\sharepointemea\sites\etc link into the file dialog and then select the appropriate PPT, or else you could prepare in advance by opening the library using explorer, then re-use the tip from ToW#101on how to copy the full path of a file name to the clipboard, and just paste that into the dialog when it comes time to upload the PPT.
Once you’ve converted to using this approach, you may freely mock anyone who still does it the (admittedly, easier, with one click) old fashioned way of just sharing out their whole desktop to show a single slide deck. Live the dream – upload the slides to the meeting using Lync!
There’s a really good explanation of some of the other benefits to using the PowerPoint sharing method on this blog.
Tip o’ the Week #87 – Hello? Hello?? Can you hear me?
There is an all-too common refrain which echoes around the open-plan offices of many a Microsoft location, following the receipt of an incoming call… “Hello? Hello..?”
The joy of Unified Communications with Lync sometimes means that receiving a phone call isn’t always as straightforward as it could be, if you have a laptop that moves around and may have different devices plugged-in or removed (eg headsets or USB telephone handsets). Occasionally, the sound starts coming out of laptop speakers rather than headphones, or the other party might complain that they can’t hear you well / are hearing lots of background noise…
Often these symptoms are caused by Lync using the “wrong” audio device – maybe because the PC is still dealing with the fact that you plugged in your headset or similar. Plug in a Roundtable device in a meeting room and (especially if it’s your first time), it could be a minute or two before it becomes visible as an audio device to the PC, and therefore ready for Lync to use as a suitable “end point” for your call.
Never fear: if you do manage to take or even make a call and the sound is happening in the wrong place, it’s possible to switch the active call to a different audio device – so you could even take the call, plug in your headset, then transfer the call to the headset once it’s been detected.
There is a little icon on the bottom left of the main Lync window that will show what the current audio device is (such as, a standard speaker, maybe a headset or even a Roundtable icon). Once you’ve received a call, the same icon is also visible in the call window – and you can switch the call between any devices that are visible to the PC, by simply selecting the right device from the drop-down list.
No need to take the take the call and say “Oh, you’ve come through on my speakers, can you call back..?” again…
Of course, not being heard or being able to hear the other party might have nothing to do with whether you’re using the right device– it could simply be that your network connection isn’t affording you enough bandwidth to have a decent quality call. There are a few things you can do to optimise the network: a topic covered in ToWs passim (including festive ToW #51).
Lync introduced a nice ”Check Call Quality” test that puts in a simple call to a dummy attendant where you record a bit of “blah bla-blah bla-blah” and have it play back your recording to simulate what you’d sound like another party. If the network is bad, you’ll see the little signal-strength style icon going yellow or red. If all is well, you can be confident that the call you’re about to make is going to be a good one.
Well, as confident as you could ever be when relying on this new-fangled technology, that is…
Tip o’ the Week #81 – I’m Late!
We’ve all had that feeling when you just know you aren’t going to make it in time for your next meeting… You know, you’re in Building 1 and the meeting’s at the top of Building 5, or you’re stuck in traffic, or in another meeting that’s already running over and isn’t going to end any time soon..?
Obviously, it would be polite to tell people when you can’t make it to a meeting on time… but emailing everyone to say you’ll be late will just make you later still…
If you use Windows Phone 7, have a look in a calendar appointment which is a meeting (ie where there are invited attendees, rather than just an appointment you’ve put in your own calendar), and you’ll see a “late” option on the menu at the bottom of the screen…
…tap on that and it will create an email ready to be sent to everyone in the meeting (if you’re the organiser), and if you’re merely an attendee, you can choose if you want the whole meeting to know of your tardiness, or if you’d rather just send an email to the organiser directly.
Everyone who uses Exchange 2010 with its Unified Messaging capability (where voice mail is handled by Exchange) can also dial in to collect voicemails, have the Exchange Server read out emails and calendar appointments etc. One of the options when in the calendar, is to say “I’ll be late” – whereupon the server will send an email on your behalf to everyone – useful if you can’t actually type at the time (maybe you’re in the car, or running along the corridor…)
From within Lync, it’s easy to get to your Voice Mail – click on the large telephone icon near the top of the main Lync window, and you can dial into or set up Voice Mail from there.
Try calling Voice Mail and saying “Calendar for today”, and the Exchange server will read out details of your current meeting, or others in the schedule. You can then tell it you’ll be late, and by how much, or even simply say “I’ll be 10 minutes late”.
To call from your mobile, try setting up a contact in Outlook to dial into your Unified Messaging mailbox – set the contact’s phone number (for Microsoft UK users) to: +44 118 909 nnnn x p12345678#, replacing “118 909 nnnn” with the phone number you’d use to dial in to your own Exchange UM, and “12345678” with the handy 8 digit (or whatever length) PIN that the Exchange server wants you to set.
If you don’t know what your PIN is, never fear – you can reset it quickly from Outlook 2010, by going to the File menu and clicking…
Just make sure when you have to change the PIN, you remember to update the Outlook contact(s) that contain it, to reflect your new number. If you call the standard access number from another phone, you’ll need to tell it what your extension number is, but if you’ve got your mobile set up in the GAL properly, then it’s possible that Exchange can tell it’s your phone, so all you need to provide is your PIN. If you dial from Lync (as above), then you’ve already logged into the network so don’t even need a PIN. Clever, eh?
It’s worth setting up a couple of contacts to get you straight into UM – one with the number as above to take you to the spoken voice prompt, and one with the number +44 0118 909 nnnn x p12345678#001, which will automatically switch to using touch-tone numbers, and will drop you into playback of voice mail messages – handy if you know you have a new message to retrieve, especially so if you’re in a public space (where talking aloud to the server will have your tarred with the epithet “loony”) or other noisy environment, where you’d never be understood anyway.
Finally, if you like to update your voice mail message (saying you’re at WPC or MGX or Tech Ready, for example) then set up another contact with the number +44118909nnnn x p12345678#006212 – dialing that from your mobile phone will take you straight to the “record your message after the tone” prompt.
Tip o’ the Week #51 – Five Golden Rules for OCS & Lync
A tip this week concerning best practices for using Enterprise Voice in OCS or Lync for making and receiving voice calls…
Participating in OCS/Lync Calls:
- Use a wired* connection when you are on OCS/Lync calls. (Performance over WIFI will not be as good)
- Ensure you use an approved OCS/Lync headset (available from the service desk in TVP and CP).
Hosting a OCS/Lync Meeting:
There is also some best practice for hosting a OCS/Lync meeting – the 5 golden rules. In summary:
If you are hosting the meeting, always set-up 5-10 minutes in advance, to upload presentation(s) and to complete the following steps..
- Connect network cable to presenter PC first, then start the meeting
- Switch off wireless networking on presenter PC.
- Always run “Audio Video“ wizard to make sure that your speakers, micro and webcam work correctly after all audio/video devices are connected.
- Avoid noise in the meeting room when microphones are not on mute**
- typing (e.g. email or instant messaging)
- rustling papers
- tapping solid objects
- be aware of fans (e.g. projector) which are close to PC
- side talk
- breathing into your own microphone …
- Do not start multiple Live Meetings in the same room – use projector to save bandwidth!
**Also remember to Mute yourself if you are not speaking
*the reason for using a wired connection is partly due to a behaviour that Windows Vista and Windows 7 introduced – where a PC has both a wired and wireless connection, the PC assumes you are using a laptop and needs to be prepared to be disconnected, so it uses the wireless in preference to wired network.
You you can set your PC to always favour the wired network, if one is available…
- Go to Control Panel / Network and Internet / Network Sharing Center / Change Adapter Settings (or just go WindowsKey-R and run ncpa.cpl)
- Press ALT if you don’t see a menu, then go into Advanced and select Advanced settings (stay with me)
- Change the binding order so that Local Area is higher than Wireless…
The downside of doing this is that if you do unplug your laptop from the wired network, it might disconnect you from OCS/Lync and any file copying etc might get dropped.
If you want to check what your network is doing, and in particular, which connection is being used, check the Network tab in Task Manager (start it quickly by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-ESC).