Life after Windows Mobile

Well its been almost two year since I posted on this blog and a lot has happened. When you last saw our hero (that’s me) he had left the warm embrace of Windows mobile and began a trek over to the Apple camp. Many strange and terrible and wondrous thing did he see. But he yearned for his homeland and returned to Windows mobile where he has been until a few months back when the demise of his beloved virtual kingdom had deteriorated beyond what he could bear.
But where to go? He could return to Apple but the iPhone had left him cold and unimpressed. That left Android. He feared the unfamiliar interface that seemed to change for every user he spoke to. Other travelers warned about security issues and instability. What to do. Of course! Replace his wife’s Windows mobile phone with a Samsung S8 first and see if chaos ensued! He watched as early frustration gradually left and, well she seemed to get along. He would grab the device when she went for her runs or left to retire before him and toy around. Many familiar apps were there but they were somehow, better. He could manipulate and change the UI which was not possible in the kingdom of Apple. But more dangers lurked in these environs. Yes but other adventures had made weapons to deploy against threats that again were not there on Apple. Our hero even found an app that could make Android appear and operate like his familiar Windows device. Praise the Devs!
So he jumped in and got his first Android, a Samsung Note 8. Praise be it even has a pen (which we all know is mightier than, well no pen).
So after downloading and installing almost every Microsoft app in the Play Store and setting up Launcher 10 with its tiles and scrolling app list our hero is once again at home on a new platform. And new worlds are open to him. He has McAfee guarding his device against the many threats in this land. And has installed over 100 apps, an untold number in his old kingdom.
But he occasionally goes into his basement and pulls out a hidden locked chest and carefully removes his HP Elite x3 and pushes the power button. He waits for the warm glow and searches for updates and signs of new life. but, inevitably he powers it down and puts it away and as he carefully secures the device wonders, will the magic ever return?


Office Mix: No more death by PowerPoint

Recently, healthcare has been hit by a rash of ransomware attacks that have crippled entire hospitals. Medstar Health, which runs several hospitals in the Baltimore-Washington area, was the most recent victim of an attack that forced them to shut down critical systems and severely hampered operations. Read the story HERE. Given Medstar is in our own back yard, our team met daily to assess our own posture and shore up our security systems. We updated, tuned, locked down in every way we could while trying to not impact our daily operations.

However, all the security tech in the world can’t stop every phishing email or every bad link,  or questionable document from getting through to users. User awareness, actions and behavior are key to preventing security issues at the source. Therefore a  key element to any security program is educating your end users. We have had a cyber security education program for several years but wanted to respond quickly to the current situation to further increase awareness and sensitivity to the risk now impacting health care organizations. We did some emails and posted content on our SharePoint intranet to inform and heighten awareness, but wanted to get something more interactive and engaging to better communicate to our user base. We were able to do this quickly using PowerPoint and a free add on called MIX.

Over the years we have invested in a number of tools to do desktop video, mouse and keyboard capture and used them to create user training. But back in 2015 we came across an add-on tool for PowerPoint from Microsoft called Office Mix. MIX is a Microsoft developed add-on that adds the capability for PowerPoint to perform screen captures, and add inking, video and voice overs and embed them in your presentation. Starting with PowerPoint allows you to use a familiar app to create your outline and structure and then use the MIX tools to add in audio and video content and interactive elements that take your training to the next level. You can walk your users through static content using narration or add your own presence by imposing yourself as a speaker in video in  the corners of each slide. This provides an element to your presentation that is much more effective in holding the user’s attention and keeping them engaged in the content. Additionally, you can add other plug ins such as quiz components. We added this in order to have the user validate their knowledge at the end of the presentation.

MIX can be downloaded from Microsoft at the link in the above paragraph. It installs itself as a Ribbon element, again presenting itself in a familiar way. There are numerous examples on the site, most uploaded by users who created them and allowed Public Access. This is another powerful element of MIX. Once you finish your MIX, you can upload it to the MIX content and sharing platform. Microsoft has provided the ability for anyone using MIX to upload their creations, invite users and event rack utilization and viewing down to the slide level. This is powerful. For the MIX I created I wanted to incentivize users to participate by entering everyone who watched the presentation in a drawing for a Windows 10 tablet. By setting the access permissions I was able to force logins with common personal credentials (not my organizations credentials) like a Microsoft, Google, or Facebook  account and track who took the session. I could download this to a spreadsheet, run a random number generator and pick a winner. In the download I could see the users name, time on each slide, answers to the quiz, correct and incorrect responses and total time they spent in the MIX. The site also allows users to leave comments and discuss the content. Did I mention this doesn’t require any fee or subscription expense? I’ve had hundreds of users from my organization access content from the site, take assessments and provide feedback and all I needed was my Microsoft account to publish the presentation and alert my users of its availability.

MIX is a great example of how Microsoft is expanding Office through plug ins and cloud support. I hope developers embrace this model and bring lots of functionality like MIX to the Office suite.

Visit the MIX site and explore the possibilities for your education and training needs.


Using Microsoft (on my iPhone)

So about a month ago I had to make a decision regarding a smartphone platform and made the move to using the iPhone. I’ll refer you to my previous posts for the background on that. So its been very interesting and I am glad for the experience. I still walk around  the house using the Lumia and actually like placing my 950 xl next to my iPhone to run comparisons and tests. But I pick up the iPhone when I leave the house while the Lumia sits on the charger.

A key element to my being able to make this move successfully has been Microsoft’s decision over the last few years to actively develop for other platforms. Obviously there is the process of learning a new OS and adjusting your work flow somewhat but using familiar apps, current accounts and services goes a long way in making the transition.

So here are the Microsoft apps on my iPhone

  • MS Office
    • Word
    • Excel
    • PowerPoint
    • OneNote
  • Outlook
  • OneDrive
  • Office Lens
  • Sway
  • RD Client
  • Bing
  • Bing Rewards
  • Skype for Business
  • Cortana
  • Azure Authenticator
  • Microsoft Health (connected to the Band 2)
  • Healthvault
  • Translator
  • MSN News
  • MSN Money
  • Channel 9
  • Microsoft Selfie
  • Xbox One Smartglass
  • Wunderlist

After installing the apps and logging in with my Microsoft account, my settings, content, filters or pointers as the case may be were all there.

Next I went on the hunt for non-Microsoft apps that would work regardless of being on the iPhone or my Windows 10 desktop or mobile device.

Here are the Cross Platform Apps I’ve installed and use across iOS and Windows.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Flipboard
  • Enpass
  • Ring
  • Insteon
  • Audible
  • Amazon
  • Ebay
  • Kindle
  • Slack
  • Straw
  • Life 360
  • Pandora
  • VPN App
  • Citrix Receiver

So I’m off to a good start. I’m actually feeling pretty good about managing the move with little disruption and my friends are having a great time having fun over it at my expense. At work, we are moving all our Lumia users to the iPhone. We are sending them to YouTube for a training session before we visit to drop off and set up the device.  So I will revisit this topic periodically but its time to focus on other matters. BUILD just kicked off and I need to catch up on the keynote. We are prepping to move our organization to Windows 10 and there is the current security crisis plaguing health care that’s demanding immediate attention. Plenty to do and write about. See you soon!

Blessings to you my friends!

Comments on moving to the iPhone


I had lunch this past weekend with a dear friend who was my high school english teacher. He was a guiding figure in my teen years and we have stayed in touch through the years. He is 72 now and me 54. Like old men do,  we reflected on the changes that have occurred in our professions and opined on the good and the bad. One of the things we agreed on was the speed of the change seems too fast and that was leading to a lack of control of the details and the outcome.

Microsoft figured this out when they saw the industry expanding beyond the desktop to mobile. They tried to meet the demand but figured out they had to change to adjust to the reality of what had happened and where they were positioned. They reasoned, Lets develop really good versions of our products for these other platforms AND try and see if we can lay the foundation for the next big leap. They adapted to roll with their situation and, hopefully, get in front of the trends. I still have my Lumia 950XL and I still use it daily to check updates, features and to see where it will best fit the needs for myself and my organization.

Fact is life is moving at a rapid pace. We have immediate access to information, people and services. This “here and now”, “immediate access”, “wherever I am”, “no limits”, expectation is rapidly becoming the standard. This sets the expectation for all industries, including my own, health care, among them. When we were moving to Windows 8 on the desktop adopting a phone that paralleled that experience made sense. With Windows 10 it doesn’t at this time.  Most individuals in my industry utilize iPhones and I oversee the technology they use on the devices. It was time for us to change as Microsoft has changed. Now if the Windows 10 mobile story comes to full fruition I’ll be there to champion that and help others through the adoption.

People are both the recipients and the agents of that change. Our reaction, that is the adoption to change, never stops the change thats coming. We can have a positive impact by guiding and directing it but often, if you think you can stop it, you end up frustrated and hurt. How many of us know people stuck in one of these phases, never getting to acceptance? Hopefully you don’t work with any of them!


To do things faster, with fewer errors, across broader boundries requires us to adopt new tool sets and skills. So how does one manage that, how do you adapt to adjust to this new reality? I have a few thoughts:

  • Stress is compounding. Get centered. Stay fit. Find a focus outside yourself for fellowship with others, meditation and/or prayer and exercise regularly.
  • The ball is moving down the field. Become a learner. Determine to learn something new each week. Use resources like YouTube, Audible Books, Podcasts, a online or on site class, but stretch and enrich yourself.
  • Stay up to date. You can connect with collegues on LinkedIn, follow experts, vendors and corporations on Twitter and Facebook to keep track of trends and breaking news.
  •  Do something new. If you are not used to the new equipment or software use it to do a test run or project. Get with someone who has some experience and work through a few scenarios. Dont fear it or ignore it, learn to make it work for you.
  • Get involved in whats going on around you. Find out how changes could be impacting your industry, department, organization, community and plug in to the processes directing the change.

The only constant moving forward is change and each of us needs to develop techniques for dealing with the impact of that force with our lives. Heres hoping your aware, accepting and getting ready for the ride!

Over to the not so Dark Side

So yes, I have ordered an iPhone. Lets get this out of the way, in the past I have referred to Apple products as “toys” and “entertainment devices” and always considered Microsoft as the leader in business software and productivity platforms. And they still are. But they have made a change in strategy with Windows 10  mobile that leaves its current users in a holding pattern while they “re-trench” and attempt to leap frog Apple and Android by envisioning a future where your phone IS LITERALLY a PC (check out this video to see what I mean  That’s cool but its a few years off. My months with the Windows 10 Lumia 950 XL has shown this device to be a prototype. I mean it works its just not stable enough right now to be a daily driver. I am responsible for a business that needs productivity and stability today.

Fortunately Microsoft has also shifted in this regard and many of the products I used on its mobile platform will be there when I move to the iPhone. Office, OneDrive, Office Lens, One Note, Bing, Cortana, Skype for Business, Sway, MS Health (still connects to the Microsoft Band), Translator, Channel 9 are all there. I can still even connect to my Xbox and play Halo Spartan Assault (when I am home of course!). This wasn’t true 2 years ago. Under new leadership Microsoft has embraced the present by developing more aggressively for Apple and Android (Apple makes me less nervous than Goggle regarding data security) while seeing if they can get a jump on the future of mobile where you plug your phone into a monitor and its also your PC. They have also started to integrate these other OS’ into the Microsoft infrastructure so these devices can be secured and managed by our networks. So the tide has changed and in this case its a good thing; at least for right now. I’ll be using and playing with the Windows 10 Lumia in the background and seeing what develops. Could this be a use case for clinicians in the future? Carrying a device is such an issue in the clinical setting BUT if that device were the size of a phone and we provided docks they plugged into for a full screen experience when needed, yeah I could see that working. We will see.

But for now, I’m getting an iPhone.

The Red Pill and down the Rabbit Hole

In my last post I mentioned using the clip from The Matrix as a metaphor for the class we put together to introduce those in our training session to what was ahead of them. No we wouldn’t be providing psychotropic drugs or plugging cables into their brains (yet!). We did however want them to see that they would need to look at their world and their work differently. The class would be demonstrating navigation and how-to’s with our desktop and productivity platform. But more important was to teach the concepts of leveraging the tech to become more efficient. Efficient first at the level of personal productivity and then extend that beyond to their departments and product lines. We pressed the cost of migrating them stating we didn’t want to hand off “a thousand dollars worth of equipment only to be used for email.”  We highlighted the investment made by the organization over the last several years in software licensing and infrastructure. Then, we reinforced the value the organization could realize IF there were adoption of the tools we were reviewing and the automation available to users across the system.

The users in the class received their devices 1-2 weeks prior to class. We assigned them a set of YouTube videos on Windows 8 to review along with their device prior to class. We also encouraged them to go out and get their own case or cover of choice. This gave them a bit of time to familiarize themselves and put their own touch and style in getting used to transporting and carrying around this portable “desktop.”

One of the things the team assisting with the training noted was the anxiety present in the users on deployment and at class time. Our initial sessions were comprised of all senior leaders and physicians. These folks were used to being competent and decisive in every aspect of what they do. They were also all “digital immigrants,” somewhat familiar with computers but only the very basics and they were getting ready to go into the deep end of the pool. To address the anxiety and allay the fears we made the training relaxed, personal and fun. While there was an agenda, it was more of a guide. We worked to limit repetitive “click here, tap that, open that, type this” series of lessons. We were very unscripted and went where we felt the class lead in terms of interest and need.

To lighten up the day we used a number of humorous videos to relax the group and break the monotony:
Blue Pill/Red Pill – Class Introduction and concept discussion.

Paper still has Some use – I argue during class that every print out not only cost money but initiates a manual process that could be automated. This video helps poke fun at the concept of all things being digital.

Medieval Help Desk – Funny take on converting from one medium to another. In the case of this video, from scrolls to books.

Conference Call in Real Life – Used as an intro to the Lync/Skype training section.

Our class outline flowed as follows:

  • Device overview
  • Windows 8 Concepts and Navigation
  • Security Essentials
  • SharePoint
    • My Site
    • Storage
    • Sharing
    • Work Flows and Automation
  • Office 2013 concepts and tips
  • OneNote 2013
  • Lync/Skype

Overall the day started out awkward and tense but by mid day the groups got into a grove and by days end they were usually out of control. In a good way!  Users would start experimenting with the things they had learned. They were moving documents to SharePoint, using the pen and practicing with OneNote, or playing with features they didn’t know existed in Office. The most distracting (and humorous) practice were users deciding to make a Lync video call in the middle of the session! For many this was their first introduction to desktop communications and video conferencing was too enticing to wait on. We simply lost the class for 30 minutes but it was good experience and great fun. In fact after a few classes, we ended up moving Lync (eventually Skype) to the last session of the day.

Since our start two years ago we have held a dozen classes training over 200 users, established our automation and efficiency platform and set a standard for end user technology in our organization. We are continuing to refine the program and adapt to changes such as upgrades in the tools. Since we started we have upgraded hardware going through Surface Pro 2, 3 and now 4. Moved from Windows 8 to 8.1 and now 10. We have upgrade from Lync to Skype, SharePoint 2010 to 2013 and have tweaked a number of settings via SCCM (System Center Communications Server) and AD (Active Directory). As our users learn and apply the technology they challenge us back so IT is learning and growing with its user base.

Ultimately the desire is to innovate our processes to enable more efficient, safer, cost effective care for our patients. This enables those overseeing those processes with the tools and guidance they need maximize efficiency and even redefine how they provide services and meet requirements in this rapidly changing healthcare environment.

Thanks for checking in and blessings to you all!