Tip o’ the Week #271 – Finding your Friends


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Sometimes, people don’t want to be found. That’s maybe understandable if you’re a sweary unemployed pugilist, but often, you’d like to locate your friends and colleagues and you’d like them to find you.

Start by letting people see your calendar – in days gone by, the norm in Microsoft Outlook and Exchange was to let everyone see what your calendar says, but in recent versions, the only clip_image003info you’d see by default would be their free/busy status – which isn’t really much use if you’re trying to collaborate with them. All it would take is some eejit to invite you to their holiday, marking the time as out of office and therefore obliterating your own F/B status for people looking to book you for meetings.

Free/Busy is basically rubbish – it doesn’t let anyone know where you are, how likely you are to be available in a given location, etc. So, if you regularly get meeting requests from people expecting you to be in one place when your calendar shows you’re somewhere else, then maybe you should share your calendar better, and tell them to look in your calendar before emailing to ask if you’re available.

Thereclip_image005 are a few options for better calendar sharin: if you look on the Share tab when looking at the Calendar in Outlook 2013, you’ll see a clip_image007Calendar Permissions option, which will let you set the default permissions on your calendar, and see/set it you’ve granted more rights to certain folk – so you could allow everyone to see basic info, and your closest colleagues can be given the right to see everything.

Unless you’ve got something to hide (and if you do, you can always set those appointments as Private), then set the defaut sharing level to be Full Details – in which case, people will be able to see where you are, and who else is supposed to be at your meeting. If you choose any other option, then others won’t be able to open your meeting, so they wouldn’t see body text (like agenda, directions etc) or the attendee list.

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FindMe – a Microsoft internal tool

There’s a snazzy tool developed by a group of Microsoft staff (in an internal development effort akin to the Garage), called FindMe. There are two parts – the installable software agent sits in the PC’s system try and provides your whereabouts to friends who you want to allow to see your location, and there’s a web front-end which will show you where your friends are.

The killer app part of FindMe is its ability to see the meeting rooms located in your chosen location – you can use it without needing to install the agent, and in supported locations you can see the floor layout, and a colour-coded view of the meeting rooms to show availability at a clip_image004given date and time (and a one-click link to make a booking).

As for finding people, if they have the agent running and if the location services detect that they’re sitting in a supported Microsoft building, you’ll see them on a floor plan, otherwise you’ll be shown a world map.

The software can use triangulated positions against known Microsoft WiFi network points, to show not just which building someone is in, but potentially right down to which desk they’re sitting at – it’s brilliant, but it needs a good deal of work in surveying the buildings to make it useful – but the team is working on how to make it available to customers as part of a Microsoft Services engagement. If you’re interested in learning more, ask your Microsoft contact to get in touch with the FindMe team (just send mail to the DL with alias findme).

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