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Another Change

You may have noticed that the site look and feel has changed.  I felt it was about time to get a new theme on the blog since much has recently changed.  For those that didn’t know I began working directly for Microsoft at the end of June 2015.  As I continue to grow professionally I have decided it is time for me to spend a greater amount of time focusing on Identity and to begin to move away from my focus in SharePoint.

The wonderful thing about identity is that I won’t actually leave SharePoint, but now my focus will be on WHO is accessing the portal.  I also get the opportunity to expand my technology base into Skype for Business, CRM, Mobile Apps, basically any and every technology you can think of.  I’m excited about this change and I hope to share lots of new information with everyone.

As always, come back often and if you have questions always reach out.

 

FeedBurner Update

Recently I departed MicroLink and have now had the chance to update my FeedBurner settings along with migrating my Live Space Blog to this brand new WordPress blog.  For all my FeedBurner fans out there I have had some issues with my original FeedBurner URL so if you re-subscribe to my neeed FeedBurner Feed those issues should be resolved.

New FeedBurner URL:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/DavidMcWeesSharePointBlog

Thanks and keep an eye out for future content to come from here!

~David

My Stolen Credit Card

I recently received a herbal supplement in the mail, one which I did not order, so I decided to call the company and find out why I was the “lucky” recipient of this product.  

When an operator answered the phone she asked me how I liked the product so far?  I told her I had not tried it yet and I was a bit surprised to receive it and to what I owed the honor?  She seemed a bit shocked, and I started to get a bit worried at this point, especially when she asked “Are you sure you didn’t order this?”.  I wrapped up the call with the operator by getting the last four digits of the credit card, my credit card, that had been used to order the product as well as the phone number and e-mail address used. 

Next I called my bank, who issued the card, and informed them of the card being compromised and a total of four charges that had been made using my card.  The bank, USAA, immediately terminated the card and rejected the transactions.

Funny thing in all of this was that I received the purchases someone else made at my home address…

Aren’t identity theft criminals supposed to be able to navigate the underbelly of the internet and allude detection as well as police?  Guess not, proof only the criminals we see on TV in shows like CSI, NCIS, etc are intelligent.

I Bing’ed it

Hmmm…that doesn’t sound quite as common as “I Google’d it”, but maybe the latest search engine from Microsoft will change this.  So have you tried Bing yet?  If you haven’t then you should, and here is why.

My company works a great deal with search engines such as Autonomy’s IDOL and Microsoft’s FAST so I was excited to see what the new Bing would provide.  Described not as a search engine but as a “decision” engine Bing provides some nice UI enhancements over Google and cleans up the result display so information is more visible.

Enhancements

Result Grouping

Results rather than just being displayed by their “relevance” to the search term(s) entered are now grouped into common categories.  A search for TicketMaster groups results into Customer Service, Jobs, Careers, Coupons, Catalog.  These categories are then listed under the new Bing Logo for easy filtering of results as well as headers dividing the displayed search result list.

This grouping allows users to find the specific “types” of results in a much more efficient manner.

Related Searches

Under the new search results categories is an additional section which provides a nice list of Related Searches.  This is highly important because many times when searching it is a guessing game as to what else to add to the search terms to find that actual results you are looking for.

Search History

This is something Google already supplies, if you have an iGoogle account.  Microsoft has taken this to a new level, while your browser remains open, Bing will remember what searches you have performed.  If you don’t like Bing remembering your search, that’s fine too, just click the Turn Off option.  About to start searching on another topic, clear your old Search History to help keep track of how you are searching.

Along with this feature is also the ability to See All, and we are not just talking about all the search terms you used, we are also talking about what results you clicked on.  So now if you want to find that article you were reading earlier from that search, but you can’t remember the exact terms you used, by using the See All you can find it again.

Results Display

Ok, so we made it down the left most column, yeah all that was in just the left hand column, pretty impressive huh?  Now lets look at the heart of the page, the actual results we got back.

Best Match

Like Google, Bing displays the most likely match at the top of the results list, so as search for Ticketmaster on both sites results in the #1 item as being www.ticketmaster.com.  Both sites also display immediate links under ticket master to things like Music, Sports, Arts & Theater, and both have a “Search Ticketmaster” text box directly from their search results.  However, Bing has a one-up on Google in that it also provides the Customer Service number there in the result summary.  Other Bing search results will provide similar information and “important” phone numbers.

Search Results Display

As mentioned above search results are now displayed not just by their significance in relation to the search term, but they are grouped into the categories that best describe them.  So rather than getting 10, 20, 30 results in a relevance order you will now get about 3 results per category.

Green Dot

Users now mousing over the search results will now notice a Green Dot appear to the right of that result summary.  When they mouse over the result summary they will see a nice summary of what is on the page, and links the page includes.  This will allow users to review the page content without actually looking at the page.  As a developer you will get to see a couple of lines from the page so you can determine what is displayed, more so than when you just look at the result summary.

So, the next time you have to search for something, will you Bing it?

A Year in the Life

I’m coming around on my one year anniversary with MicroLink and in honor of that I decided I would talk about how I got to MicroLink, the company itself and the work I have been doing for the past year.

 
 

My Departure and Arrival

A little over a year ago now the company I was working for announce it had lost the contract I was working on to Lockheed Martin. This was a stunning blow to the company because it was our largest contract at the time, and as far as we knew our performance on the contract had been more than satisfactory.

 
 

We received word a few weeks later that our company had begun a protest and everything, interviews/communication with Lockheed came to a screeching halt, which just lead to greater anxiety about the turnover. I had already contacted and been interviewed by MicroLink and several other companies about working with them while this continued and finally had completed negotiation of a contract with MicroLink.

 
 

Finally, I made my decision to accept MicroLink’s offer still hopeful that I would have an opportunity to get back to KnIFE even though I was leaving. The day I sent my acceptance letter to MicroLink my boss told us that we had lost the first appeal, but were appealing another contract award point. I told him my decision in private, and he was very gracious and congratulated me. The next week the other two KnIFE developers announced their decision to leave as well, one followed me to MicroLink.

 
 

Two weeks later, I was a MicroLink employee. By December, my old company announced it had lost the appeals, and by January/February Lockheed Martin was in charge.

 
 

Me at MicroLink

The first project I was assigned to at MicroLink, and one that I’m still involved in today, was HARMONIEWeb. This project is an attempt to bridge the communication gap between DoD and Non-Government Organizations, including foreign countries. I have worked on numerous pieces of HARMONIEWeb, account registration, lost password, mapping and imagery, adobe connect, and have really enjoyed the unique tasks. This being said I’m pretty sure I’m cursed, seems like very time I’m working on a piece of the project I discover a problem with Microsoft or Adobe code that we either have to develop a work around for, because they don’t have one, or we have to wait for a patch.

 
 

I have, as I hoped, been able to go back to KnIFE on occasion to assist in deploying items to their systems. I have written a few blogs about ECTS in which my experiences deploying at KnIFE have been the basis for the information. Recently this work has lead to additional work for the JCREW, a Jamming/Counter IED group, where I have been able to migrate users from a DotNetNuke platform to a MOSS platform.

 
 

I have also been able to work on projects internal to MicroLink, specifically on Virtual Earth – Mapping and Imagery concepts. Although my work on HARMONIEWeb, KnIFE, and JCREW have demanded much of my time I have really enjoyed working on the Virtual Earth capabilities and incorporating them into SharePoint.

 
 

My personal perspective on MicroLink

Over the past year I can honestly say I have never once been bored while working for MicroLink, frustrated (with my code not the company)…yes, but never bored. I have one of the best commutes, walk down the hall to my office, and resources that only Microsoft could rival. I have had the opportunity to work on everything from Network Infrastructure to web parts. I have been challenged to do a lot for the company, sometimes working three projects at once, but I have also been fairly compensated for those "above-and-beyond" hours.

 
 

I can also say that MicroLink has not yet allowed me to go naked, I receive some company attire just about every quarter. I have also been made to feel as though I’m a valuable resource to MicroLink, that while we continue to grow the opportunities for me to lead have grown, and the opportunities for me to learn have grown.

 
 

So I reached my goal this year, one company for at least a year, here is to what I hope will be another successful year at MicroLink.