Power Up Project

#015: MS Teams Inline Translation: Testing It Out.

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What is Microsoft Teams Inline Translation

〉How to enable Inline Translation

〉Does it work and how accurate is it?

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Podcast, we share a little bit more information on Microsoft Teams Inline Translation.

Hey, welcome back to the Power Up Project podcast. My name is Ben Love. I’m your host for today.

Now a few episodes back, I shared some new features. Well, one particular new feature I want to touch on in Microsoft Teams, which was the Inline Translation. So just to recap, Microsoft Teams is a product from Microsoft, part of the Office 365 family that lets you do, amongst a lot of other things, a text chat so you type chat messages back and forth. So it’s a real head-to-head competitor with Slack, which a lot of people have been using and also Hipchat, which less people have been using, but still one of the big ones.

So what we touched on last time is that Microsoft released a feature which was inline translation within chats in Teams. So what that means is that if somebody in a chat enters some words there, a sentence or whatever in a language that is not your native language, Teams is able to translate that automatically for you into whatever your native language was.

Now, at the time that we mentioned with this, we hadn’t had a chance to play but, I have since had a chance to play and I just want to share a couple of things that I’ve learned. First of all, you need to enable this feature using some funky behind-the-scenes stuff called PowerShell. Now, for an IT person that’s pretty straightforward. For your average user, it’s probably not. So if you do want this feature enabled, get in touch with your IT person and I’m sure they can switch that on for you. I imagine at some point soon they will move that into a nice little on-off button somewhere in the settings. But for now, you need that PowerShell script run to enable this feature on your Teams, on your tenant.

The next thing is that this Inline Translation feature is not available in the newly announced free version of Microsoft Teams, so if you are an Office 365 user, you’re good to go, but if you are not and you’re taking advantage of the free Microsoft Teams version, apparently this inline translate is not part of that particular package. So be aware of that.

The other thing I wanted to follow up onto is how it actually works. So, we’ve done a little bit of testing here. The accuracy of the translation between a couple of different languages into English and vice versa seems really good actually. It’s using one of Microsoft’s cloud translate micro services, so that’s a micro service that is part of the larger Microsoft as your suite of stuff that you can actually use yourself, build it into your own software products and whatnot. It’s very cool.

But Microsoft are leading on that to provide this translation service within Teams, which makes perfect sense if you think about it. That’s what micro services are really intended for. The accuracy of the translation is really, really good subject of course, to some of the vagaries of how people use language colloquially and some of the different grammatical constructs that you can use in some languages to the other, but in terms of actually communicating and getting the message across, it’s actually really, really good. But, what you need to understand too is that in order to translate a line of text in a chat, you still need to click a button so it’s very easy to do. I mean, right next to the actual line of text you wish to translate, you just pop open a little menu and say translate, so it’s very quick and very easy to do, but it does not automatically recognise that a line of text needs to be translated. If that makes sense.

Now, I’m wondering whether they’re going to bring this automatic real-time translation into the product at some point in the future. I imagine they will, to be honest, but for now, it makes sense that this is the way it is, because there will be times when you don’t want this thing to decide that you want that translated, so I don’t see it as a problem the way it currently is. In fact, I had a quick chat with someone from my office whose familiar with WeChat, which is one of the other really big chat platforms on the Internet, but WeChat is very much a Chinese language thing predominantly, and it has offered this inline translation for a little while now.

Primarily between Chinese and English I believe, I haven’t used it myself. This is just anecdotally and with WeChat, you also need to click a button and say, “Please translate this line of text.” So that’s another interesting little thing there, WeChat, which is definitely ahead of Teams and came out with this feature well before Teams is still sticking with the manually translate this line of text option. So, interesting thing for us to learn there.

So, that’s really our recap on the inline translation feature in Microsoft Teams. Look, bottom line is it works bloody well. It’s really super clever. It’s very, very quick and easy to use. And if you do use Teams, which I would encourage you to have a look at, and you do communicate with people who speak another language, even if only just to have a play and test about I’d get in there, give it a go. It’s a fun bit of tech.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit-IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep powering up.

#014: Hosted Phone Systems: are they worth the hype?

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What are Hosted Phone Systems

〉Is it expensive to have a Hosted Phone System?

〉What the benefits of a Hosted Phone System and why you would you need one

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project, we talk about hosted phone systems.

Welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host, Ben Dampney. Today we’re going to power up your business with a hosted phone system. A hosted phone system is a phone system that is hosted, funnily enough, on a remote service via in the cloud. We recently moved a client of ours from an old, digital, on-the-wall phone system to a new hosted phone system using the existing cabling infrastructure. We deployed a mix of IP handsets, which is a traditional desk phone. You are using your IP cabling or managed cabling. Also, soft phones. Now, a soft phone is a phone application on your desktop or laptop. It can also be on a tablet or a mobile phone.

Now, the beauty of this is that you can be connected through those devices using a headset or through the speaker and microphone natively to make and receive calls, which can actually dramatically reduce the cost of deploying these sort of solutions, without putting a handset on a desk so to speak. It also allows for hot-desking and travel, meaning you don’t need to be tied to the phone that’s on your desk. You’re actually able to use your device wherever you have your laptop, or potentially tablet or mobile phone with the application.

These hosted phone systems can lead to reduced call costs. They’re often traditionally very much cheaper than your big tier-one phone system guys, particularly the big T and others. It also gives you flexible provisioning, so you don’t have to buy 30 handsets if you have 30 staff. You can only deploy what you need at that time that you need it, particularly on the soft client side or the soft phone side. You just run up an extension when you need to use it.

Also, as I alluded to earlier, it gives you remote access to your phone system. A fantastic example of this was the phone system we recently deployed for someone. The business owner was overseas in Thailand for work, and he was able to work using the soft phone client on his iPhone and the hotel wifi where he was staying. He had the ability to make calls as though he was sitting in his office, which is incredibly powerful, but also his staff had the ability to see his presence. They knew if he was on the phone or available to take calls, so they could transfer incoming calls from the phone system on their main number, through to his soft phone client on this mobile phone. As far as his clients were aware, he was working and available as though he was in the office, which is a really powerful tool.

Hosted phone systems also are incredibly easy to programme these days. They give you so much variability in call flows, as in how a call moves through your business. One of the key factors we find people taking them up for is that they would like to more directly get calls to the people that need them, rather than going to reception and then through the accounts and then to one particular person. Automated systems can be used to get calls directly to the people that need them answered more quickly and more efficiencies and cost-savings in your business.

Voicemail to email is another fantastic feature of hosted systems or virtual PDXs, in that you can receive a voicemail via email, meaning you get the voicemail immediately on whatever device you have. If you’re out of the office, it gives you some powerful ability to more easily and quickly react to someone’s query. We all know these days people like to get information or be able to contact you as quickly as they can.

Call presence I also talked about earlier, but it’s a powerful feature as well. It gives you the ability to know where your staff are and who’s on or off a call, if they’re in a do-not-disturb status. Some of these features are in traditional systems, but certainly widespread across hosted phone systems.

Listen, I’d encourage everyone to explore the opportunity of a hosted phone system. There’s trials out there that you can take up. They’re very easy and simple to deploy. You can have your existing, traditional, primary phone number be diverted through or ported across to a phone system so you don’t lose any of your existing customer base due to a phone number changes. Look, I think they’re great for cost savings, great for efficiency, and I would recommend you go out and try it today.

Thanks for listening to the Power Up Project, brought to you by Digit IT and Grassroots IT. Please remember to leave a review for us, wherever you found this podcast. Until next time, keep powering up.

#012: Backing Up Your Xero Data is Probably a Good Idea.

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What is Xero?

〉Why should you back up your Xero data?

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project, we’re going to talk about whether you should be backing up your Xero data.

Hi, welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host for today’s episode, Ben Love. Today we’re going to be touching on the topic of whether you should be backing up your Xero cloud accounting data. Now, I’m going to touch specifically on Xero in this case but the same discussion holds true for any other cloud accounting system you may be using. You might be using MYOB Online, you might be using QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks. There’s a few of them out there but Xero is definitely one of the more popular ones around at the moment. It’s the one we use here, at Grassroots IT, so it’s certainly something that I can talk about and that I’m familiar with.

Xero is a cloud-based accounting package. We put all of our financial information in there. Some us invoice from there. Some of us, it’s our CRM, where we keep our client information, supplier information. It’s pretty fundamental to running our business. So are we confident that that data is safe up there in the cloud? Look, I’m confident that the data is secure, that Xero themselves are doing a fantastic job of making sure that their platform is reliable and no one can access my data without my authorization. I also am confident that they’re doing a good job of backing up that data, right. So they take their own backup, so if they have internal failures within their system, they know that they’ve got copies of that data everywhere.

But you know what? I still want a copy of my Xero data for myself, because what does happen if Xero themselves do have a catastrophic failure? What happens, perhaps, if maybe some of that data in there gets corrupt? What happens if it’s human error, even? Perhaps I have a trainee bookkeeper come and join my organisation here who makes a heck of a mess of my books and we don’t discover that for a day, or a week, or a month later. How do I roll back to a previous backup or how do I look and see what the books are meant to look like? Interesting question, isn’t it?

Well, the good news is that there are options for backing up your Xero data. I actually had to reach out to some of my professional peers on this one. I’ve got friends who specialise in the world of cloud accounting, and the answer they came back with was a little product called ControlC. You’ll find it if you Google it, control-c.com. It’s a New Zealand-based company and they provide a product which does exactly this; it backs up your Xero accounting data.

It does some really interesting things, too. So it’ll take the daily backups, it gives you full access to historical data, so it keeps all of that history of those backups so if you need to go back and reference a particular point in time, you can. It gives you the option of local storage so you can actually store it in New Zealand data centres, and they also have other options in other countries if that’s of interest to you. But one of the really interesting things here is actually about the restoration or the restore if you actually need to get into one of those backups to get some information out. The way ControlC works is that they have an app and it gives you full access on your computer, in your office there, totally offline, you don’t need an internet connection once you’ve obviously got the backup down, to go through your historical accounting information and get access to what you want.

It’s also very cheap. It starts at about $5 a month, so for a little bit of peace of mind around your Xero accounting data, if that is something that interests you, I’d encourage you to go and have a look, control-c.com, but obviously, Google it, or of course, talk to your IT people. See if they’ve got any other products they suggest to do this job.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please, leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts, and until next time, keep powering up.

#011: Schedule a Skype Meeting Directly in Outlook

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉How to set up virtual meeting in Outlook.

〉How Skype helps in making a scheduled video conference call happen.

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project we talk about turning your Outlook meetings into video conference calls.

Welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host, Ben Love, and today we’re going to power up your business by using Outlook, and those Outlook meetings that you’re already using there and with one click turning them into video conferences for all of your attendees.

So, there is one assumption that I’m working from here and that assumption is that you are using Microsoft Office 365 for your email and as part of your Microsoft Office 365 subscription that you have Skype for Business. Now, in most cases, you’re going to have all those bits of the puzzle and so many people are using Microsoft office 365 these days for these pieces of their IT infrastructure it’s almost a given.

So let’s get straight into it. We’re going to be short and sweet today.

We all know Microsoft Outlook, and we all know that Microsoft Outlook has got the calendar section in there. This is where you can keep track of all of your upcoming meetings but what you can also do is you can create new meetings in there and invite other people. Now you probably already know this, so you would go to your calendar in Outlook, you would click on the area you want and click on new meeting or new appointment and up comes the little appointment window. You can type in the subject and location, you can invite attendees.

There is a button at the top there that says invite attendees. This is where after you click that, you type in the names, or the email addresses of the other people who you would like to join you at this meeting, and they will get an email in their inbox with all the details of this meeting. And on that email they can click on accept or decline, whatever the case may be.

And Outlook with all of its magic will track who has accepted your meeting invitation and who has not. Now, what we are going to do today is take that one step further though, and what we’re going to do is we’re going to use that meeting or that appointment invite and Outlook to coordinate a Skype meeting. And when I say a Skype meeting I mean a video conference. So if you’re trying to coordinate a meeting here between multiple people who are not in the same office, but they’re all sitting at a computer and ideally they’ve all got a web cam on their computer, then what you can do is you can click the little button at the top of that meeting request page that says Skype meeting.

It’s literally as simple as that. Now there is a whole lot of magic that’s happening behind the scenes right now when you click that button but what you will actually see is that within your meeting invite there, some blue text is going to appear there, which is actually a link, which says join Skype meeting.

Now, really simply, when the time comes for this meeting to actually occur all of your meeting attendees will be able to open their meeting invite from their calendar, and they will click on the blue link. A whole lot of tech-o magic behind the scenes is going to happen. Skype for business is going to open on their computer and on your computer and you will all be automatically joined into the one meeting with one click of that little button.

So, that’s it. It really is as simple as that. If you’ve ever struggled to coordinate multiple people, getting them all in the one video call, inviting other attendees, losing the original attendees, you know the song and dance, then try doing this. Use Microsoft Outlook, create a meeting and in that meeting click the button at the top that says Skype meeting and Outlook will automatically do all the coordinating behind the scenes to coordinate that video conference call.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep powering up.

 

#008: Network Issues Cause Nationwide Closures at Coles

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What lesson can we get from the “minor” network error on Coles that kept the supermarket chain closed until late morning?

 

 

Transcript:

Welcome to the Power Up Project. In this episode we talk about Coles’ nationwide outage.

Ben Dampney: Welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your co-host Ben Dampney, here with Ben Love. How are you, Ben?

Ben Love: Mate, I’m really well. But I tell you what, I’m glad I was not planning on doing the shopping this morning.

Ben Dampney: That’s right. So, it’s a Sunday morning here in Australia. And we saw, came across a news article that was quite interesting about one of the very large supermarket chains having some problems. Tell us about it, Ben.

Ben Love: [00:00:30] Well mate, this is directly from the ABC News homepage, “Coles supermarkets open after early morning technical glitch kept stores shut across Australia.” So, Coles supermarkets across the country were unable to open on time this morning due to a network error. Ouch.

Ben Dampney: Indeed, ouch indeed. Yeah, that’s a massive outage for every store in the country to be closed. It obviously shows the widespread effect that their particular network outage had. What’s the lesson here for us, Ben? As business owners and IT consultants?

Ben Love: [00:01:00] Mate, the lesson here I think, is that outages can and probably will happen, even if you’ve got the resources behind you of Coles, bad stuff can still happen. So, in our businesses, we certainly don’t have the resources of Coles to keep everything running and nor do all of our clients, but there are ways to be ready for when this does happen, and that’s called business continuity.

Ben Dampney: [00:01:30] Yes, indeed. So having a plan in place to make sure your systems are functional to some degree. Whether or not that’s … hey, even back to paper. Having something that you can rely on to do your business and your trade is really important.

Ben Love: Absolutely. Hey, I’ve got a quote here from a Cole’s spokeswoman. And I love some of the lessons this brings to us. “Earlier this morning we had some minor IT problems, in some of our supermarkets, which were out of our team members control.” So just think about all those key words that that spokeswoman has put in there. This was not a major problem. This was not a catastrophe. This was nothing in their control. But look at the flow an effect, their stores have been closed for a period of time. Can you imagine the money that did not go through the cash registers for Coles. And this was ‘minor’ IT problem that caused that. Anyway, we’re talking in circles here. The lesson for your listeners though, is that bad things do happen, no matter how prepared you might be or how many resources you throw at this. So, move your thinking a little bit sideways, away from purely technology and think more about business continuity planning. If or when your technology does fail, how are you gonna keep your business running?

Ben Dampney: [00:02:30] Good question. Something worth thinking about. All right. Thanks Ben. And thanks for listening guys, we’ll catch you on the next episode. Bye.

Ben Love: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep powering up.