30 January 2014

Hyper-V Bug In Win 8.1 Obstructs Use of Lync Test Drive

Windows 8.1 logoIn December Microsoft released the longed-for Lynch Server 2013 Test Drive, but a serious bug in Windows 8.1 makes it impossible to import the Test Drive into Hyper-V.

Seven VHDs
The Lync Server 2013 Test Drive is a set of seven virtual hard disks that can be downloaded from Microsoft. It contains Lynch, Exchange, SharePoint and several developer tools, and it is intended for evaluation of the Microsoft platforms. I find it very useful for testing and demonstrating.

Hyper-V in Windows 8Microsoft Hyper-V is needed to use the virtual hard disks, so when you have downloaded the Test Drive and installed the files on your hard drive you want to import them into your Hyper-V. You might think that this would be possible via "Import Virtual Machine" in the Hyper-V Manager, but when I wanted to do that in Windows 8.1 I discovered that it did not work.

Bug in Win 8.1
After a lot of trouble I found out that this was a bigger problem. It was not just isolated to my machine or to the Lync Server Test Drive but actually a major shortcoming in Windows 8.1. Something that has worked for a long time in Windows 8 has now stopped working in 8.1. What has happened is that Windows 8.1 no longer gives a possibility to import old virtual machines into Hyper-V.

Hyper-V virtual machines in Windows 8New machine creation not allowed
The problem can be solved by creating new virtual machine in Hyper-V and attach the Test Drive or old VM hard disks  to these new machines. This can even be done quickly with a PowerShell script – but it is against the EULA. Business Solutions is a Microsoft Silver Partner, and Microsoft prohibits partners from manipulating their VMs.

Downgrading again
Since I am a Microsoft Certified Trainer I have a lot of virtual machines in the old format. They will now fail to work, so regretfully I am in the process of downgrading to Windows 8 at the moment. I want to be able to use both my old virtual machines and the new Lync Server 2013 Test Drive.

Read more
If you want to read more about the 8.1 problem or about the Lync Server 2013 Test Drive I recommend Thomas Lee's blog "Under the Stars":

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

29 January 2014

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook V2 Released

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logotype Today I am proud to announce the release of Kanban Task Manager for OutlookV2. The new version has several enhancements and new features, and I am sure that the efforts of the team will once again be rewarded by praise from subscribers and evaluators.

Drag and drop color coded tasks
With Kanban Task Manager users can cooperate on projects and tasks in a virtual kanban board in Outlook or SharePoint. The "cards" are color coded by project or responsible, and they can be dragged and dropped within or between phases. This way it is easy to get an overview and see how work proceeds,and bottlenecks are easily discovered.

Details pane
Different teams have different requests, and to make Kanban Task Manager versatile we give two different sizes for the cards on the kanban board. The smaller size make room for more tasks on the screen, but on the other hand they don't have so much space for text. Then the new reading pane comes handy. Kanban Task Manager task with design pane
By adding a details pane to Kanban Task Manager we give users a chance to see more of the text than what is visible on the card itself. The solution uses standard Outlook or SharePoint tasks, and the text you enter in them can be seen in a pane at the bottom of the screen when you right click a task.

Custom parameter
Besides description text and subject, the project, responsible and priority (if enabled) are shown on the Kanban Task Manager cards. Project, responsible and priority are also the default parameters to filter the tasks by. However, version 2 gives an additional possibility.

When you want to filter by another parameter than the default ones and also show the value for that parameter on the card in the kanban board, you can make use of the Extra field. Write the name of the parameter in the Extra field form in the Kanban Task Manager settings, and the add-on will create a list where you can fill out the values you need.

Now your own parameter will be shown in a task dropdown, so that users can select a value when they create or edit a task. That value will be displayed on the kanban card. There will also be an additional filter possibility on the kanban board in Outlook.

These are only a two of the new features in Kanban Task Manager V2. If you are already using Kanban Task Manager, please have a look at the Revisions page for a full list. Also refer to my earlier blog post about version 2 of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook. upgrade iconUpgrades are included in the subscription, just like support, and I recommend current users to upgrade their installations. It is very easy. Just close Outlook, download the setup file to any folder on your computer and run it. The installer will find your earlier installation and upgrade it.

Try download iconDo you need a tool for keeping track of projects and tasks? In that case you are welcome to evaluate Kanban Task Manager for Outlook for 30 days without any obligations. Version 2 is easier to evaluate than the earlier versions, as it gives a possibility to create example data.

Please take a look at the introduction demo below, and if you like what you see you can find much more information on the website.

Sharing options
Kanban Task Manager data, like tasks and settings, is shared in the workgroup via a Microsoft Access database, an SQL Server database or a SharePoint site. The Access database is created by Kanban Task Manager, but to select one of the other options you need to have your own, in-house or hosted, SQL Server or SharePoint site.

SharePoint version
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeThere is also a SharePoint version of Kanban Task Manager, and if you select the SharePoint sharing option in the Outlook version you can use both versions on the same data. When a change is made in the SharePoint kanban board, this change will be reflected to the Outlook kanban board and vice versa. Both versions are included in one subscription.
By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

24 January 2014

Bill Gates Meets Norwegian Chess Champion

In the demo below you can see Bill Gates playing a game of chess with the Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen in a Swedish TV show.

In November 2013 the Norwegian "chess prodigy" Magnus Carlsen beat the Indian world champion since 2007, Viswanathan Anand. Mr. Anand has been a very good promotor of chess, and it seems that Magnus Carlsen is eager to continue that work. Yesterday's chess game with Bill Gates was of course such a promotion event.

It took just one minute and nineteen seconds for Magnus Carlson to checkmate Bill Gates. "He was a bit unlucky and eventually fell to my tactics, but he otherwise made good healthy moves," said Carlsen according to FirstPost.Sports. "I think with a little more time, he could certainly be a pretty good player."

I will sure see the whole show when it is broadcasted tonight!

By Kate Kalmstrom
Sales Business Solutions

20 January 2014

Convert Old Office Files Into New Formats With PowerShell

PowerShell iconIn an earlier blog post I wrote about my assignment where I am moving millions of Office files to SharePoint. In that process I also convert files with the old suffixes into the modern, XML based file formats introduced with Office 2007.

I will describe my work in a series of articles, and now the first one of them has been published. In the Tips section you can find a new article and a demo on conversion of old office files into new formats, what to consider and how it can be done. The same demo is included in this blog post.

Maybe you wonder why you should bother to convert your Office files with the .doc, .xls or .ppt extensions. Can't they stay as they are? As long as new Office versions support these formats the answer is actually yes, but there are several benefits to gain from a conversion to modern file formats like .docx, .xlsx and .pptx:
  • They save space, as they are automatically compressed with a .zip technique.Office 2013 logo
  • They are more secure as files with the x suffix don't allow macros.
  • They separate different data components from each other, so that files can be opened even if a component – for exampel a chart – is damaged.
  • As they all build on Open XML you can unlock information in existing systems and use it in Office programs, and information created in Office can be used by other business applications.
broken linkConversion of old file formats into new ones have one important disadvantage: links will be broken. There is no easy way to keep links to the old files in other documents, on webpages, in e-mails and so on. You should consider this problem before you start converting old files.

PowerShell script
There are several ways to convert the files. Microsoft has given a tool for it, and you can also open each file and save it as a file with the new format. This is very time consuming, but I have created a PowerShell script that basically does exactly that.

The PowerShell script gives more control that the Microsoft tool, and another advantage is that it retains the change date of the files that are converted.
SharePoint Saturday badge
SharePoint Saturday
The information in this tutorial will be included in my speech at the SharePoint Saturday in Stockholm this week. In that speech I will give much more information, and some of that content will become additional Tips.

So, if you have been thinking about moving old Office files to SharePoint you are welcome to take advantage of everything I will share. The script I am showing in the demo can be downloaded from the Tips article about converting old Office files into new formats. I will come back with more tips and scripts later!

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

17 January 2014

Advertisement That Aims Higher

This Friday I will give you some beautiful photos from kite flying Indore, as a contrast to the more technical articles I have written recently. I will also tell you about a different way to advertise.
Kite flying festival
This passed week the Makara Sankranti has been celebrated in India. It is a festival that marks the end of the winter, and kite flying events have been held in many places.

So also in Indore, where people gathered in a part of the city where the houses have roof terraces. There the kite flyers could stand on the rooftops and greet the sun with their kites. It was a day of fun and laughter, and the best kite flyers earned everyone's respect.
Skilled team member
When I visited the Indore office recently, my Indian colleagues took me out kite flying. That was when I discovered that our Lead Quality Assurance Engineer, Vijayant Rimza, not only was a good manager of the QA team. Vijayant is excellent when it comes to managing a kite, and we decided to take advantage of this in a marketing event.

Kite flying sport
The kites used in India are small, unstable single line flat kites made of special light-weight paper and bamboo. The line tension alone is used for control, and an abrasive line is used to cut other kites. Lead QA
To cut a competitor's kite means that you severe the strings of that kite, so that it falls to the ground or get stuck in a tree. When that happens children chase the falling kite to pick it up, and the winner shouts "katta hai" (=cut another kite) in a very loud voice. kites
On the day of the kite flying event Vijayant had prepared two kites with the text "", and he was also dressed in a jacket with our logotype. When the event was over, "everyone" knew, because with his two kites Vijayant had cut no less than 45 other kites.

Advertising benefit
A text on a small kite cannot reach far even if it is several hundred meters up in the air, but as many people were gathered to see the kite event it still did some good. In Indore we are not primarily advertising the solutions but the company as a work place.

We are always looking for talented people for the Indore office. Maybe this event will bring some good candidates for positions in our team? Anyway Vijayant had a great time while giving some extra publicity! kite
Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

15 January 2014

SharePoint Web Part With JavaScript and HTML5

JavaScript logoA Web Part is a fundamental buidling block of SharePoint pages. It can be added to any page, usually to let the user view or interact with data.  In a new tutorial in the Tips section of the website I show how to create a web part with the help of JavaScript and other HTML5 techniques.

Sandboxed solution
I create my web part in a sandboxed solution for SharePoint 2010.  This must be done on a computer that has a local installation of SharePoint, but when the web part has been published it can be uploaded to another site. As I create the web part in SharePoint 2010, I can use it in SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 SharePoint too.

JavaScript is a useful language that we utilize a lot in the solutions. Our JavaScript team is led by Software Developer Sharad Verma, but I also take an active part in the coding.
Visual Studio icon
From project to .wsp
I don't only show JavaScript code in the tutorial. I also describe how to create a new C# SharePoint 2010 project in Visual Studio and go through all the steps needed before I can publish it as a WSP file. There is a step by step instruction in the Tips article about this web part demo.
Kanban Task Manager SharePoint icon
The WSP file can now be uploaded to any other SharePoint site and activated there in the same way as you do with the solution Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint.

The demo is rather long, 15 minutes, and if you are new to SharePoint development you might find it difficult. Some of the Tips are basic, while others are advanced, and this one has its place in the advanced group.

The final result doesn't do much, but I believe it is a good starting point for building your own HTML 5 web part!

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

09 January 2014

HTML5 Enhances Solutions

HTML5 Business Solutions has begun using HTML5 techniques in dialogs and forms, and we are very pleased with the results so far.

Created for the web
HTML is a code language that most people connect with websites, but it can also be used for other purposes. It is widely known among IT professionals, and therefore we have used it in the Folder HelpDesk ticket form.

Folder HelpDesk iconThat way administrators of this issue tracking tool for Outlook can customize the ticket form rather easily. However, version 5 of  HTML is something more.

Cross-platform code
The latest version of HTML gives enhanced support for multimedia and  can deliver animation, music and movies. It can also be read by many different computers and devices.

But the most important for the development is that HTML5 can be used to build complicated solutions that run in a browser. Therefore HTML5 seems to be very suitable for forms and dialogs in the solutions.

TimeCard for Outlook
TimeCard for Outlook logotypeWe have recently published a major update of TimeCard, the time reporting tool for the Outlook calendar. When we rebuilt the user interface we made use of HTML5 techniques.

We are pleased with the way it looks, and so are the users who have upgraded. Below is the main screen of the TimeCard Single settings.
TimeCard Single main settings dialog
TimeCard for SharePoint iconAnother advantage is that we will be able to re-use a lot of the code in the upcoming new TimeCard product, TimeCard for SharePoint. In addition to the technical benefits, the usability is very good, with quick, responsive controls.

Outlook add-on for resource booking
Calendar Browser iconFollowing the TimeCard success, we have now decided to rebuild Calendar Browser using the same HTML5 techniques. Most organizations have a number of resources that need to be booked in advance. It may be rooms, cars, equipment or even people.

In Calendar Browser each such resource has its own calendar, and you book the resource by making an appointment in the calendar - something that most people know how to do!

Bookings overview in HTML5
Calendar Browser has an overview, where you can see the already booked resources displayed in various ways. You can also book free time periods directly in the overview. Here the HTML5 techniques will be especially useful.
Calendar Browser Overview
With HTML5 we can make the Calendar Browser overview much quicker to load and more informative, and it will also be a major building block when we start developing Calendar Browser for SharePoint. The image above shows the first build of the new overview.

The developers are always keen on trying something new, and doing so is part of the job for all of us. Sometimes we have to discard the news as not useful to us, but in HTML5 we have found techniques that will enhance the solutions during the new year.
By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

07 January 2014

SharePoint Saturday In Stockholm

I am proud to announce that I have been invited to speak at the SharePoint Saturday in Stockholm later this month. The event is already sold out, but there is a waiting list in case you would want to attend.
SharePoint Saturday badge

Fileshare to SharePoint
The subject for my speech is "Fileshare to SharePoint  –  things to consider". It is intended for IT professionals on an advanced level, who may be met with the task to move huge amounts of data into SharePoint.

Many organizations have used Office for collaboration during decades, and today they have file-shares with terabytes of data. One such organization is the Swedish Migration Board, and in my speech I will talk about the lessons learned and challenges met during the consultation assignment for the Migration Board that I told you about in an earlier blog post.

Expert group
SharePoint 2013 logoThe SharePoint Saturday is held in the Stockholm Word Trade Center on the 25th of January 2014. I am looking forward to meeting the other speakers, most of them internationally well known SharePoint experts.  I know several of them, but others I have only heard of.

HelpDesk OSP for Outlook and SharePoint iconWhen I am not having my own session, I will try to listen to as many of the others as possible. I know I will have a lot to learn from them. I will also meet the other speakers at the speakers dinner Friday night, and after the conference there will be a"SharePint". Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint icon

I am looking forward to the event. It will be all about SharePoint, a platform that is getting an increasingly central role in the development. I am sure I will have some TimeCard for SharePoint iconnew ideas that eventually will enhance our solutions!

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

02 January 2014

Calculate Stocks Profits In Excel

When you play the stock market you need an efficient way to calculate your profits – and losses. Some simple Excel formulas can do the trick and give you a quick overview over your current status. In a new Excel tutorial in the Tips section I show how to create the formulas.

Excel calculations
Excel iconThe formulas are probably the most useful of all Excel features. An Excel formula can be as simple as adding the numbers in two cells, but Excel formulas are also used for very complex calculations. Once the formula is in place, Excel does all the calculations and refreshes the result each time you change a value in one of the cells included in the formula.

However, the Excel result will only be correct if the formula defining how Excel should calculate is the correct one. I discussed this in a blog post about one of my first Excel formula demos, and I also gave an example on a miscalculation that had a huge impact.

Excel sheet
Three formulas needed
When you buy stocks you know the cost for one stock, but normally buy more that one. Therefore, the first step in a stocks calculation is to create a formula that multiplies the cost for one stock with the number of stocks bought.

Next step is to do the same multiplication for the number of stocks and the current value. And finally you must create a formula that calculates the difference between the two multiplication results to learn how much you have gained or lost.

Drag down relative formulas
Say that you have bought one hundred different kinds of stocks. To write in these three formulas one hundred times each will make you wonder if it is really worth the effort.
Excel sheet
But Excel gives you a much easier way, which I am showing in the demo below. As long as you use relative formulas – for example the second cell to the left minus the third cell to the left – you can just drag the first formula and make it valid for all the other 99 stock types too.

Excel tips
The demo above is just one of many in the Tips section. In addition to the Excel tutorials there are tips and pointers on Outlook, SharePoint and much more. You are very welcome to browse around!
By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer

01 January 2014

2014 – New Possibilities With Rebuilt Solutions

We have the first day of a fresh new year, full of possibilites. As usual I have a lot of plans, and with the help of the rest of the team, I am convinced I will reach important goals in 2014.

New architecture for "old "solutions
To tell you about the plans for 2014, I need to first look back at 2013. During last year we rebuilt product after product, starting with our knowledge base, KBase. KBase logotype

From being dependent on an Exchange server, KBase has now been made into an add-in for each PC, with a database or a SharePoint site as sharing platform for knowledge base articles and settings.

Folder HelpDesk iconAfter KBase, all old solutions were rebuilt. ("Old" means more than ten years on the market, but the products have of course been updated many times during that period.)

Calendar Browser iconThe aim has been to use the same design as in KBase, but with the more complicated Outlook solutions, Folder HelpDeskCalendar Browser and TimeCard Workgroup, we have not yet gone all the way.

TimeCard icon Why?
The transfer to the new architecture has required most of our development resources, so you might ask why we did not spend that time on adding new features instead? The answer is that we want to make sure the products can last for many more years and continously be adapted to new technologies and changes in our business.

With this new architecture the solutions will be very flexible. We can add SharePoint as an alternative to a database, and later we can take in other options as well without changing the basic build of our products again.
SharePoint icon
We can also create SharePoint versions of our products and make them possible to use with the Outlook versions when SharePoint is selected as sharing option.

Finalized transfer
In 2014 we will release new versions of the three big ones – Folder HelpDesk, Calendar Browser and TimeCard Workgroup – starting with the SharePoint version of TimeCard Workgroup and the last step in the rebuild of the Outlook version to work with SharePoint too.

Kanban Task Manager
Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logoIf you are using Kanban Task Manager for Outlook you have probably recognized the description of the KBase architecture. Kanban Task Manager is built in the same way and works with SharePoint already . There is also a SharePoint version of Kanban Task Manager.

However, Kanban Task Manager is a young solution that was developed this way from the beginning, so we did not have to consider any upgrade issues. With the older solutions we must be careful to not create problems for current users when they upgrade to the modern version.

Our first new release in 2014 will be of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook V2, and soon after that we hope to also release a single user version of Kanban Task Manager.

HelpDesk OSP
HelpDesk OSP logotypeAlso HelpDesk OSP was built in the modern way from the beginning, and eventually we plan a SharePoint based version for this issue tracking solution too. But first we will make the Outlook + SharePoint version easier to configure by giving a HelpDesk OSP SharePoint list for administrators to use as it is or customize.

Excel iconNew products
We also have two new products in the pipeline. One is a generic version of the Excel reporting tool we are using in HelpDesk OSP. It will let users select any SharePoint list and fields and transfer the data in them to Excel.

The other one, SP Attach, will help organizations to a better file sharing system than sending e-mail attachments. Users can attach files as before, but SP Attach will send the attachments to a SharePoint library and add a link to the file in the e-mail instead.

SP Attach icon Many IT admins feel that files attached to emails are a bad thing in many ways, and this tool will make it easy to do the right thing – post the file instead of attaching it. Furthermore you can take advantage of all the SharePoint library features when you share files that way.

More to come
These are our most important plans for the coming year, but there is a lot more that I will tell you about in later blog posts. As usual we are also open for suggestions on enhancements of our products.

Even before I went to India in December I knew we have a great team, and the visit to Indore made me feel still more confident that we are on the right way. 2014 will be a good year for Business Solutions, and I wish the same to readers of this blog.
A Prosperous New Year to you all!
By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions