Imagine having a “bot” that anyone can ask questions of via Skype or any number of communications services, that’s based entirely off of an FAQ that you’ve already created?

Check this out: You can now create your own Bot with the new “QnA Maker” – a wizard that simply asks you to name your bot, point to the URL of your FAQ (or a document with your questions & answers), and you’re DONE.


Using a combination of:

  • Microsoft Cognitive Services to consume & learn from your FAQ/QnA
  • Microsoft Bot Framework for creating the interactive service

For a training video on how to do the above steps, go to:

For a quick tutorial on the proicess go to


There are 4 different editions of Microsoft Flow that a lot of folks don’t know about.  They are detailed in this rather hard to find URL:

Basically, here’s the breakdown:
Flow is free for 750 runs/user/month, with a frequency of once per 15min
Usage of Flow is free however there are limits to it’s usage and there are certain capabilities that require premium payments.

        1. More runs per month? Higher frequency?
          If you require more runs per month or a higher frequency of runs, you must get any of the other 3 plans (Office 365, Plan 1, Plan 2).
        2. SLA?
          If you require an Service Level Agreement, you must get any of the other 3 plans (Office 365, Plan 1, Plan 2) which will grant you a 99.9% availability SLA.
        3. Salesforce? Common Data Service?
          If you require any of these Premium services, you must get either Plan 1 or Plan 2.
        4. On-prem Data Gateway?
          If you need to access data on-prem, you will need a data gateway and get any of the other 3 plans (Office 365, Plan 1, Plan 2).
        5. Share & Edit Flows?
          If you want to collaborate on Flows, you must get any of the other 3 plans (Office 365, Plan 1, Plan 2).
        6. Create environments to deploy your Flow in?  View Flow usage overall? Policy enforcement for Flows?
          These are Enterprise features that require Flow Plan 2 explicitly.


Join us for a free technical training session covering the latest Microsoft tools and services. You’ll learn new skills, tackle challenging puzzles and help complete a mission on Mars. No pressure.


At 05:14 GMT, the Joint Space Operations Network lost all contact with the Mission Mars: Fourth Horizon team as they were conducting routine sample collections on the Martian surface. The cause of the interruption is still unknown.

Your mission is to join us in reestablishing communications between the Earth and Mars.

In this free hands-on event you’ll learn the full capabilities of the Microsoft Development platform while sharpening your skills in a fun, fast-paced environment. Meet our experts, develop your skills, and a get chance to put your development abilities to the test.

Microsoft experts will be on hand to take you through the following topics during the event:

  • Azure IoT Hubs
    Learn how to establish bi-directional communications with billions of IoT devices.
  • Azure Functions
    Dive into the event driven, compute-on-demand experience that extends the existing Azure application platform.
  • Cognitive Services
    Build multi-platform apps with powerful algorithms using just a few lines of code.

Sound good? Accept the mission with the link to the right, and find details about an event in your city.

Los Angeles
Mission: MARS Cloud Developers Event


For other locations, see the table below:



Los Angeles, CA


San Francisco, CA


Chicago, IL


Austin, TX


Seattle, WA


Boston, MA


New York, NY


Philadelphia, PA


Atlanta, GA


imageMicrosoft IT is broadcasting on February 15th, (10-11AM PST) a live streaming event: “Driving Skype adoption through service improvements”

Join Dwight Jones, Senior IT Service Manager, as he discusses how Microsoft IT is making the transition to Skype for Business—unified communications in the cloud. He will share how we reconciled Microsoft Lync and other technologies to become Skype for Business, and how we’re listening to our users to drive service improvements, increase call quality, and optimize the user experience.

February 15th, (10-11AM PST)


Posted by: kurtsh | February 8, 2017

NEWS: Office 365 Update: February Edition Available

Office 365 Update for February 2017

Watch this video to learn about recent Office 365 enhancements and innovations, including a wide array of new capabilities that empower our customers to collaborate more effectively than ever before. In this February update you’ll explore:

  • iTunes and RSS Availability
  • OneDrive Update
  • LinkedIn Learning Office Courses
  • Microsoft Staff Hub
  • Free Stock Photos
  • Homepage
  • Data Loss Prevention

Viewing/listening options:

clip_image002Are you attending RSA Conference 2017?

Join Microsoft, February 13–17 in San Francisco, where you will learn about our unique view of threat intelligence, the investments we’re making into a secure platform, and how Microsoft fits into your security portfolio.

Here are some of Microsoft’s speakers at this year’s RSA Conference:

  • Protecting and defending against cyber threats in uncertain times
    Brad Smith, President, Microsoft Corporation
    Tuesday, February 14, 8:35 AM–8:55 AM
  • Advances in Cloud-scale Machine Learning for Cyber Defense
    Mark Russinovich, CTO Azure, Microsoft Corporation
    Tuesday, February 14, 3:45 PM–4:30 PM

  • How to Go From Responding to Hunting with Sysinternals Sysmon
    Mark Russinovich, CTO Azure, Microsoft Corporation
    Tuesday, February 14, 1:15 PM–2:00 PM
  • A Vision for Shared, Central Intelligence to Ebb a Growing Flood of Alerts
    Dan Plastina, Partner Director, Threat Protection, Microsoft Corporation
    Tuesday, February 14, 1:15 PM–2:00 PM
  • Learnings from the Cloud: What to Watch When Watching for Breach
    Sara Manning Dawson, Principal Group Program Manager, Microsoft Corporation
    Wednesday, February 15, 2:45 PM–3:30 PM
  • Critical Hygiene for Preventing Major Breaches
    Mark Simos, Director Business Development Analysis, Microsoft Corporation
    Tuesday, February 17, 10:15 AM–11:00 AM
  • Securing the Making of the Next Hollywood Blockbuster
    Joel Sloss, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Corporation
    Wednesday, February 15, 1:30 PM–2:15 PM

Don’t forget to visit our boot at North Expo #N3501:

For more information, visit:

Posted by: kurtsh | February 7, 2017

INFO: Surface Pro 3/4 Hub Adapter – $12.99


Dow you own a Surface Pro 3/4?  Do you find that you need an extra USB port for your mouse and another device a lot? 

Check out this little $12.99 adapter that connects to the USB 3.0 port of the Surface Pro – and doesn’t block the power port – and provides the following additional ports:

  • USB 3.0 port
  • USB 2.0 port
  • SD card slot
  • microSD card slot
  • microUSB charging port
    (only for boosting power to the adapter)

imagePurchase this $12.99 adapter here:

imageAzure Active Directory & Office 365 as a whole has a massive, globally-distributed model leverage Microsoft’s cloud footprint.

As a result, Microsoft is able to absorb attacks across a very large surface area, mitigating denial-of-service attacks against authentication – keeping customers operational, even during DDoS attacks.

As a global organization with a significant Internet presence and several prominent Internet properties, Microsoft is a large and common target for hackers and other malicious individuals.  In fact, for the last several years, Microsoft has been continuously and persistently under some form of cyber-attack.  At just about any given time, at least one of Microsoft’s Internet properties is experiencing some form of denial of service traffic.  Without reliable and persistent mitigation systems that can defend against these attacks, Microsoft’s services would be offline.

This document talks generally about different types of attacks and how Microsoft defends Office 365 and its network against those attacks. Office 365 uses defense-in-depth security principles to protect against internal and external risks.  The network–the communication layer between clients and Office 365–is one of the biggest targets of malicious attacks.

To read more, download the paper below:

imageEarly this year, I had a customer ask me, “What’s that tool on your screen?”

I said, “Oh, that’s my bandwidth meter tool.  It tells me if my machine is actually doing anything over the network & at what speed. It’s called DUMeter.”

“Uh… can you send me a link to that?”

DUMeter is a tool I’ve used for more than a decade since Windows NT 4.0 and it’s been exceptionally useful.

It provides a monitor that hovers over all your windows (even during PowerPoint presentations if you want it to) and tells you what kind of bandwidth you’re consuming.

In it’s “mini-mode”, it hovers at the top of the screen and is perfect for tablets & desktops.  It takes up very little room and tells you at any moment what bandwidth is being consumed either up or down.  There are two tabs that allow you to specific “traffic over the network” vs “traffic over the Internet”.


The usual view of DUMeter is a histogram that shows you the bandwidth consumed over time, both up & down.  It typically sits in the bottom right hand corner just above the System Tray but you can move it anywhere and it will (usually) stay in front of any other windows that appear.


This is my favorite:  It’s a view that shows you the bandwidth being consumed per-application.  Sure it’s nice to know if your machine is transmitting or receiving data, but what you really want to know is if the program you’re using is DOING ANYTHING.  This mode gives you a precise view of what application is consuming bandwidth… or not.


There is also great reporting available on how much bandwidth has been consumed per hour or within the last 24 hours.  You can create thresholds to ensure that you don’t exceed a certain amount of consumption if you’re on a limited plan, say over your cellular carrier.


There are two plans available for purchasing:

  1. Single user: $29.95
  2. Family Pack (5 installations) $59.90
    (I bought this because I have the DUmeter client on ALL my machines at home)

All in all, this is one of my favorite tools and hopefully you’ll enjoy it too.

Posted by: kurtsh | January 29, 2017

RELEASE: Microsoft Privacy Dashboard

image<taken from the Windows blog>
Many of you have asked for more control over your data, a greater understanding of how data is collected, and the benefits this brings for a more personalized experience. Based on your feedback, we are launching two new experiences to help ensure you are in control of your privacy.

  1. Microsoft has launched a new web-based privacy dashboard so you can see and control your activity data from Microsoft including location, search, browsing, and Cortana Notebook data across multiple Microsoft services.
  2. We’re also introducing, in Windows 10, a new “privacy set up experience”, simplifying Diagnostic data levels and further reducing the data collected at the Basic level. These Windows 10 changes are being introduced in a Windows Insider build soon for feedback first and will be rolled out to everyone when the Windows 10 Creators Update becomes available.

We also recognize organizations have different needs than individuals when addressing privacy. Learn more about what we’re doing to help IT pros manage telemetry and privacy within their organizations here.

For an explanation of these features, read the blog post, “Our continuing commitment to your privacy with Windows 10” below:

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