Windows Live Calendar–are you using it?

A lot of people are using web mail, e.g. Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo but most of us are not using the calendar that is associated with web mail.  Calendar is a great time management tool that can improve our productivity and ability to meet goals.  Let me use Windows Live Calendar to illustrate how powerful web calendar can be.

Add an event

We can add all our upcoming events to our Live calendar.

  • Click New and then select Event.

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  • Add event details

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  • Click Save button.

Invite Others

When we add an event, we can also invite other people.  Click Add more details link in the event details dialogue.

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Click Invite people button, then we can select people that we want to invite.

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    Add a new calendar

    We may want to add events to different calendars.  I have 2, one for personal event and another one for my business (ALG Consultings). 

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If I want to add a new one, then just click the Add a new calendar hyperlink.

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Fill in the details and click Save button.  We can create as many calendar as we need; one of my clients created one calendar for each massage therapists for booking purpose.

Share our calendar

Click the Share link on top of the calendar.

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We have a lot of options on how to share the calendar, we can:

  • Make it public
  • Send a view only to people that we select and
  • also decide if they can add, edit or just view events or to-dos.

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Click Save button.

On the road

We can sync our Live calendar to our phone or see our calendar from the web browser.

To-do list

Live Calendar also has a To-do list; I find it is extremely useful for myself to remind what I should do.

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To add a new To-do item is very simple, click New, and then select To-do.

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Fill the details and then click Save button.

Weather

It even tells us local weather.

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Conclusion

Live Calendar is a very handy but yet powerful tool to increase our productivity and customer satisfaction.  Don’t miss it if you are using Hotmail.

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.

We help you to make better and faster decisions!

Hotmail is getting better and better!

Hotmail is my first webmail; I started using it more than 10 years ago.  I switched to other webmail like Yahoo and Gmail for various reasons.  But about 2 years ago, I switched back to Hotmail and I found it was getting better and better.  And I like to share some of the favorite features with you.

 

 

It doesn’t have to be hotmail.com

Our email address does have to be xyz@hotmail.com; it can be xyz@live.com or local live domain, e.g. xyz@live.ca.  And if you are using Microsoft Office Live Small Business.  It is free and we can register our own domain, then we can have up to 100 email address for our specific domain name.  My email address is chan_a@algconsultings.com and I can access it from Hotmail just like my personal Hotmail accounts.

Ever-growing storage

Hotmail provides us with as much storage space as we need, i.e. there is no limit, provided that we send and receive a normal amount of e-mail. Our inbox capacity will automatically increase as we need more space.

10 GB email attachment

How big is 10 GB?  I really have no idea because I never send any email with 10 GB attachment, not even 1 GB!

Sending/receiving email from other accounts

How many email accounts do you have?  I have quite a few, e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, …etc.  Now we can send / receive email from these accounts within Hotmail.

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Virtual Broom (Sweep)

This is my favorite Hotmail feature.  I receive over hundred emails everyday.  A lot of them are from social media, e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn…etc.  I like to read all of them but at the same time, I want to read email from my clients / business partners first.  So I create different email folders and use the Sweep function to move all non critical emails to these folders; then I have a clean inbox and I can see all my critical emails.

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Office Web Apps Integration

When we receive an email with Office documents attached, we no longer need to download them.  We can just read the documents online within Hotmail.

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Active View

We probably receive e-mail that includes photos and videos. Active View allows us to preview photo / video right in Hotmail.

Hotmail Active View

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Vacation Reply

We all love vacation!  When we are on vacation, our email is still busy!  And we want to let our clients and business partners to know that we are on vacation and who they should contact instead.  Hotmail gives us Vacation Reply.

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Group messages by conversation

Gmail introduced this feature many years ago; it group all emails from the same conversation together so that we don’t have to search all over inbox.  Now, Hotmail also provides the same features and we have the option to enable / disable it.

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Hotmail on the road

I can read / send Hotmail on my Blackberry, iPod Touch and obviously Windows Phone.  So I won’t miss any critical email even I am on the road; critical features for any mobile worker.

Social Media Integration

Hotmail is no longer just email.  It integrates with MSN Messenger, Calendar, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace all into a central message hub.  We are in a better position to see everything in 1 single place, i.e. HOTMAIL.image

Conclusion

I can’t cover every single Hotmail feature because there are a lot.  I need to write a book if I want to cover them all. 

If you are using Hotmail, have you fully unitized it?  What is your favorite Hotmail features?

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.

We help you to make better and faster decisions!

Connect SkyDrive Folder as Network Folder

SkyDrive is a FREE online storage offered by Microsoft which:

  • Provides 25 GB Storage
  • Sync 5 GB of data from your PC
  • Shares documents with people we choose
  • Integrates with Office 2010, e.g. anywhere, anytime access from the browser, edit documents together in real time, version history and lot more.
    But I like to discuss another great feature; connect your SkyDrive online folder as a network drive in Windows Explorer.

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  • Enter Live Id and password.

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  • Now, we have a network drive (N:) that connects to our SkyDrive online folder.

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And we can use it just like any normal network drive.

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.

We help you to make better and faster decisions!

 

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office

While Microsoft is driving full speed to move its products to cloud, e.g. Office 365, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Dynamics CRM Online, Windows Azure, SQL Azure… etc., Google has released a desktop plug-in for Microsoft Office to some selected beta users. 

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is an Office plug-in that synchronizes our documents with our Google Docs accounts.  Once our document is stored in our Google Docs accounts, then we can easily share our documents and even simultaneously edit them with multiple people. Google  Docs also provides version control so we can revert to earlier versions. It would work with Office 2003, 2007 and 2010.

Unfortunately, Google Cloud Connect is only available to selected beta users.  So if we want to save our documents to cloud and share our documents with other people now, then we may have to use SkyDrive from Microsoft.

Now Google wants to connect to Microsoft?  What would happen next?

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.

We help you to make better and faster decisions!

Are you using USB Flash Drive?

USB flash drive is inexpensive.  We can get a 8GB driver for less than $20.  So a lot of people use USB flash drive to transfer files back and forth between their desktop and laptop; some even carry two USB flash drivers for backup.  But that gets awkward and keeping track of versions can be annoying. 

I use Windows Live Mesh which can sync virtually unlimited files directly between my PCs and up to 5GB of files between my PC and SkyDrive. So no more flash drive transfers – whether I’m using my desktop or laptop, I have the current version of my files.

Install Live Mesh

Windows Live Mesh comes with the latest version of Windows Live Essentials.  Once we install Windows Live Essentials, all we need is a Windows Live ID and Internet access.

Sync a Folder

  • Click Windows Live Mesh
  • Click Sync a Folder (located next to the icon of your computer).

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  • Choose from the folders on your computer.
  • Click Sync button.

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  • Select Devices dialogue will appear and we can select which devices we want to sync the folder to.
  • Click OK button.

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  • Once the folder is added, Windows Live Mesh will sync the files with the other machine.

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Go to the other PC and make sure Windows Live Mesh is launched.  That’s all we need to do. Windows Live Mesh will automatically keep the folder up to date as long as both machines are on and connected to the internet.

We can also sync folders between our PC and SkyDrive, a free online storage from Windows Live. SkyDrive provides 25GB online storage but we can only sync up to 5GB of space on SkyDrive.   Once our files are on SkyDrive, then we can access our synched files from any computer that has an Internet connection.

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.

We help you to make better and faster decisions!

Collaboration Systems – from floppy disc to Microsoft Office Web Apps for SkyDrive

You probably know how old I am when I mentioned floppy disc in the title; because floppy disc was the only way that we could share information on an IBM PC 25 years ago.  Later, we had local area network (LAN); and when I prepared the business case for installing the first LAN in my company, the key benefits that I mentioned was collaboration.  We could share information securely!  How amazing! But the collaboration was still limited to a small group of people, typically within the same department.  Then email has become very popular and we could share information with our business partners, customers, suppliers… etc.  And yesterday, I read from the news that Microsoft launched Microsoft Office Web Apps for SkyDrive which would take collaboration to another level, i.e. multiple users can discuss and edit a particular document concurrently.  Why has collaboration been so important?  Virtually all major software vendors provided collaboration systems, e.g. Google, IBM, Microsoft and even Facebook.

Should my company use collaboration system?  I believe most of us are using them now, e.g. email, shared folders or instant message (IM).  The question is if you want to bring in a more effective collaboration system.  Before you answer this question, you may want to ask you a more fundamental question: what are the benefits of collaboration?

Frost & Sullivan published a whitepaper which was based on a survey of 946 decision makers in key positions.  Below is a summary of its finding:

  • Overall performance: Collaboration contributes 36% of overall business performance; twice the impact of a company’s strategic orientation.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Collaboration is the sole influencing factor; driving 41% of customer satisfaction.
  • Labour Productivity: Collaboration delivers 35% of labour productivity; 4 times higher than company’s strategic orientation.
  • Product: Collaboration is also the main driving force for product quality (34%) and product development (30%).
  • Innovation: 30% and it is 7.5 times higher than company’s strategic orientation.

You may wonder how collaboration could deliver such incredible effects, how can you achieve such results?  I believe there are 6 main areas that are positively influenced by collaboration:

  • Communication: It is quite obvious that improved collaboration means increased communication and hence better innovation.
  • Innovation: Once you have better innovation, then you would improve productivity and increase quality of your services / products.
  • Customer: If you deliver better services / products, then more customers would come to you.
  • Planning: Today’s collaboration system allows your and business partners to do planning more flexibly and effectively.
  • Control: Improved collaboration also give you better control on your business; you can have a better and timely picture on your financial, operational and sales performance.
  • Stronger team: You can collaborate with your team more effectively, no matter if they are in different offices, working styles. You can all stay connected.

Most current collaboration systems allow you to:

  • Reduce time and cost that are required to do a face to face meeting.
  • Building team and developing new client base that were used to be out of your geographical boundaries.
  • Provide more responsive services to your clients
  • Effective control your time

If you are still using email as main collaboration system, then you may miss a lot of opportunities, i.e. improve bottom line, reaching out to new clients and building a stronger team. What next? You should at least try Microsoft Office Web Apps for SkyDrive and Skype.  They are both free collaboration systems.  And if you are ready and looking for something much more powerful, then Microsoft SharePoint Online and Office 2010 would deliver features that you would not even imagine.

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.

We help you to make better and faster decisions!

Microsoft Releases Office Web Apps for SkyDrive

You can now create Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents on Windows Live SkyDrive.

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It is my shortest blog so far!

Microsoft Office 2010 Web Apps and SkyDrive – Microsoft’s answer to Google Docs

 Microsoft Office 2010 Web Apps Technical Preview is available on Windows Live SkyDrive, a free, 25-gigabyte virtual hard drive on the Internet, accessible from any computer, e.g. Windows, Mac, or Linux at your office, at your home, at your friend’s house, so you don’t need to carry around a physical disk to transport files.  You can easily create, edit, and share your Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents.  All you need is a computer with a web browser (IE, Firefox or Safari) and an internet connection.

Create a new Office document

Edit an existing Office document


Share Office Documents

Office 2010 Web Apps is easy to use because it is the same Office tools that you are familiar with, in a Web environment.

Microsoft Office 2010 Web Apps will be officially launched in June, 2010, so why don’t you get ready and start using Windows Live SkyDrive now.  You can seamlessly integrate SkyDrive into your Windows environment as a network drive.  Does everyone in your office need a full Microsoft Office license?  Microsoft Office 2010 Web Apps may give you an opportunity to cut some IT budget.

If you have any further question, you can reach me at chan_a@algconsultings.com.

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.

 

 
 

Knowledge is power!

Microsoft Outlook LinkedIn Connector – effectively manage your professional network

You can already send email, fax, call (VoIP), and SMS in Microsoft Outlook.  Microsoft Outlook Social Connectors even allows you to stay connected to your social and business networks, e.g. LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, Windows Live … etc.  Microsoft Outlook is now your central communication hub!

 I am only focus on Microsoft Outlook LinkedIn Connector in this article and come back to discuss other Microsoft Outlook Social Connectors later.

 Microsoft Outlook LinkedIn Connector allows you to:

  • Keep track of all your LinkedIn connections` latest activity for who e-mails you right at the bottom of that e-mail.  If they have a Profile Photo, you’ll see that too.

  • Get the latest contact information from your LinkedIn connections.  Outlook would add a new Contacts folder “LinkedIn” and automatically sync information from Linkedin.

  • E-mail your LinkedIn connections directly.  You can make use of all Outlook power features including mail merge to send personalized email to all your LinkedIn connections; and you are not restricted to only send to 50 connections in each email.
  • Click the green “Add” icon next to any email sender to easily invite them to join your professional network on LinkedIn.

Microsoft Outlook LinkedIn Connector is a FREE, easy to use but yet powerful tool to manage your professional network in a central place.  You can download it from http://www.linkedin.com/outlook; however, you must download and install Microsoft Outlook Social Connector first.

If you have any further question, you can reach me at chan_a@algconsultings.com.

 
 

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.