Creating Multiple Custom Email-Alias Addresses with one Outlook account

Update thank you to Johannes in the comments.  This is called Email Sub-Addressing.

I was catching up with my brother, and he showed me a pretty cool trick with gmail.

If you mail mark-liu@gmail.com (not his real email address) with mark-liu+test@gmail.com - the email would arrive at his inbox.

Not to be outdone, I tested this with Outlook, and sure enough.  If you mail: john-liu+test a outlook dot com they'd arrive in my personal mailbox.  You can do anything after the + character.  +spam, +newspaper, +test1 etc etc.

I have no idea what this feature is called - for Gmail it seems to be called "Creating Multiple Custom Email Addresses with one Gmail account".  May be this is called Email-Alias? 

So this is just a short blog about an Outlook version of this feature.  This works for Hotmail as well.

What is this good for?

  • Test throw away emails, e.g. testing your registration process code
  • Spam emails and figuring out where they came from
  • Easy to set up filter rule to get rid of emails you don't want
  • You should definitely have a john-liu+spam alias for signing up to newsletters.

Notes

  • Doesn't work for Exchange or Office 365 email addresses.

A Hybrid Future for On-Premises

Hybrid - In Theory

I think it is no suprise for us watching from the SharePoint world (sometimes with a slight envy) at all the investments in the cloud.

Microsoft makes no secret about this - cloud is a massive growth area and an area that Microsoft is and will aggressively pursue.

SharePoint itself is a product born On-Premise. But many of the Experiences are now born-in-the-Cloud.

What I was very relieved to see though, is that in this mad push for Cloud-First, Microsoft reaffirms that they will not leave their customers behind. This is where I feel the Hybrid story that has came out is so refreshing.

What's coming down?

  • OneDrive for Business coming to SharePoint 2010
  • Delve coming to SharePoint 2013 first
  • Continue to evolve Hybrid Search

Hybrid in the Real World

The landscape "I" see.  This part is where I get yelled at, or perhaps I'm seen as a Fanboy.  I'll just say what I saw.

In the year 2013 - I saw the future that Microsoft wanted was all Cloud.  I was very dismayed - Australia is not particularly fast at going to the cloud.  Many of our enterprises aren't even migrating their SharePoint installations from 2010.  What about data sovereignty?  In the light of NSA spying case in 2014 it looked even worse. 

In the following year June 2014, the Australian Government modified its policy to say it is up to each Department Head to decide whether it is OK to store data offshore.  No doubt pushed by both budget cuts, internal push, external Vendor Pricing and a public statement of cutting out unnecessary Red-Tape.

Now, I hear cloud being implemented left and right.  Prime examples?

  • Exchange Online - much bigger mailboxes than on-prem.  Mobile friendly.
  • To get Exchange Online, a company pretty much has their Active Directory synchronized to Azure AD.  ADFS is nicer for SSO, but more servers.  Small and medium enterprises are pretty happy with DirSync.  That's another tick.
  • OneDrive for Business - relatively large personal storage space that allows Enterprise IT control
  • Office Client Licenses.  As part of the Office 365 package, the cheaper client licenses (and up to 5 devices, as well as additional mobile/tablet licenses) are also a huge win.
  • Yammer - Corporate-friendly, sanctioned "social platform".  Seriously, your youngster employees wants to talk, at least give them the right place to make that conversation heard.
  • Lync/Skype for Business - Lync Online took care of a lot of remote VOIP scenarios.  Lync Server worked well with Polycom and other On-Prem solutions.
  • Extranet Sites (SharePoint) where the company wants to share "some" content with an external partner.

There will always be companies that can't move everything to the cloud, but I think more and more companies are considering what they *could* move.  Most companies don't really want to host their own Exchange Server, unless they really have to.  And even for those rare cases, my Bank client is implementing Yammer as their Enterprise Social solution.

 

Reading the Tea Leaves

Oh my favourite activity.  I love doing this and yet I'm so bad at it.

I'm terrible at reading the future.  So I only wanted to mostly comment on the past.  Perhaps as a consultant that works across many different sectors (building, education, transport, mining and banking), and as a community person that loves to talk to everybody I meet, I do see quite a bit.

And what I see aligns with what Microsoft is doing.  So I think it's safe to predict this one:

Bet on the Cloud.  And if you can't do that yet, Bet on Hybrid.

 

[Meta] Updating johnliu.net from Squarespace v5 to v7

This is actually something really, really long overdue.  v5 is from the year 2008.  That is SEVEN years ago.

You will notice:

  • Responsive Design
  • Comments are replaced with Disqus - the original comments are imported, but Squarespace's own comment spam detection has not been great for me. 
  • Squarespace v5 renders pages in X-COMPAT-IE8 which means it looked extra sucky.

You will find missing:

  • Some of my game blog pages - I've removed them because they are just the rambling of a young man.
  • /Storage is a bit funny - I "hope" I imported my old stuff properly.
  • My badges and tag cloud.  I hope to add them back in time.
  • I noticed the RSS feeds got confused and prepended www.johnliu.net - I've removed the www but there may be duplicate records in the RSS reader.

What I am missing:

  • I am absolutely devastated that v7 doesn't work with Windows Live Writer.

taskeng.exe command prompt - get out of my face

 

So I was minding my own business working, and suddenly, a command prompt popped up, blocking my work for a few seconds and then disappeared. 

Very annoying.  Because now I'm distracted.  I need to hunt this thing down.

 

Figure: It can look like this.

 

A quick Bing search reveals that this is actually frequently reported, but most people have the wrong idea to go about fixing this.  They think "oh this is a virus, because I don't know what it was", so I'm going to run anti-virus and just blast away everything.

 

Here's what you should do.

 

Task Engine is Windows' Schedule Tasks.  It is running something.  That something can be a virus, but most likely, something you have installed.

  • So run Task Scheduler
  • Expand the "Task Status" area - this shows you tasks that has run in the selected time period.  You will see there are hundreds of tasks that has ran and will be running.
  • Change the time period filter to the smallest setting "Last hour"
  • Now pick off the single task just just ran.  Moments ago.

image

 

Bingo!

Dell SupportAssistAgent AutoUpdate

 

Task Schedule Library

 

  • Head to Task Schedule Library on the side menu
  • Find the task that's the culprit

 

image

 

Strangely, this app checks for update at 2:33PM every Thursday, right after lunch.  It's been annoying me for nearly a month.  I must have installed it on 13/02/2015.

Now, it's a fairly harmless app doing it update check.  Instead of just disabling the task, I can also:

  • Move the trigger to logon
  • Change the time to 1pm (lunch)
  • Or my favourite - wait for Idle

 

image

 

So, at Thursday 1PM, wait for up to an hour (so between 1pm to 2pm) for my computer to be idle for 15minutes.  Then you can run this app.  When I'm not watching.

 

Perfect

Living with the Surface RT for 4 weeks

 

Across the new years holiday, I took a long four week holiday off in Indonesia with my family and in-laws.  Previously I have always taken my Dell laptop(s), but this time, I decided to take my Surface RT tablet.  (Yes, the first generation one, not the Surface 2).  I have owned the Surface RT for over a year and while I always thought it is a decent device, it lacked the number of Apps that the iPad has, and lacked the ability to run old x86 apps.  I wanted a decent attempt at using only the Surface RT for a number of weeks, and figure out where I stand on the device.

My Surface RT has been regularly updated and runs the latest Windows 8.1, it also synchronizes with my Microsoft Account and shares the Apps I have purchased on my main machine. 

In Indonesia, I have access to slow internet, based on where I was.  I didn't have mobile data, and turned off roaming.  So I relied on the Surface RT for both online and lots of offline activity.

So, consider this my report card.

The good:

  • Mail (not Outlook)
    The built in Mail app is very handy.  It downloads both my gmail and Outlook.com emails, which are available and fast to browse and read.  I can compose emails offline which is very handy.  I did not use either gmail or outlook.com websites during my 4 weeks.
  • Internet Explorer
    Is surprisingly useful for almost everything else:
    • Newsblur
      Runs great and I was able to catch up on all my blog reading.
    • Twitter
      Runs fine and I was able to read and write tweets.
    • Facebook
      Runs fine.  Although the people Tile was updated regularly, I find the browser experience for Facebook on par with what I have at home.  My wife isn't so impressed with many of the Flash-based Facebook games, some do run, but is sluggish.  I wondered if the new Surface 2 would handle these a lot better.
    • Reddit
      Actually works very well.  The only thing I missed is the Chrome extension: RES.  But I've stopped using Google Chrome a while back and increasingly don't really miss that plugin.  I will probably look for an App for Reddit next time.
  • Office
    I had to read a number of attachments: Word, Excel and PowerPoint on my holidays.  The built in Office did the trick, and I didn't feel I missed a beat.
    I had not set up Outlook to my office exchange server, and didn't want to start downloading a lot of emails on a slow data connection.  Luckily, my colleagues were really nice to me and didn't send me much work!  All the Office documents I was reviewing are related to conferences and activities throughout the year.
  • Apps
    I wanted to download a bunch of games and play them everywhere, but honestly I've stuck with Tiny Death Stars and Frozen Freefall - both great apps by Disney and available across both Windows 8 store as well as WindowsPhone.  Very happy with the games.
    I also downloaded a manga application and had it download some manga for offline reading. 
  • Account sync
    I really enjoyed the tiles' positions being synchronized across my Windows 8.1 desktop at home and the Surface RT.  I had no trouble remembering where my apps are. 

 

The bad.

  • Touch Cover
    The touch cover, oh how much I wanted you to work, but you are just not comfortable.  I can type reasonably well on the touch cover, but I'm afraid I will never be able to type perfectly.  I need the Type-Cover.  Rumour goes there is a better Powered-Type Cover coming.  I can't wait.
  • Windows Updates and poor battery management
    Windows Update must have ran at some point, and I found the Surface poor at handling the battery when I'm not using it.  I did read there was a firmware over December that was causing a lot of issues but I thought it was only with the Surface PRO devices.  This one was not good.  I could use the table for half a day.  Close it and put it down.  And there won't be any battery left when I pick it up again in the evening. 
  • No Windows Live Writer
    I wanted to update my blog, but without a good blog writing software, I was stuck with the web interface.  I ended up writing most of my blog on OneNote, and then copy the text over to the web interface to post to my blog site.
    A Windows 8 Store Blog Application needs to be a thing.

 

The surprise.

  • Dropping the Surface RT
    I dropped the Surface RT - face down, from a bedside table onto the wooden floor.  Luckily there was no damage.  I... don't want to try this again.
  • Rotational Lock and reading manga
    Rotational Lock and how easy it was to access from the charms bar was great.  On the Windows Phone rotation lock is a bit harder to reach in the settings.
  • Fast charging
    The Surface charges really quick.  From a depleted Surface it can be charged within 2 hours.
  • Take picture from lock screen
    I discovered that you can swipe down from the lock screen and the Surface RT will activate the camera!  I was not able to do this on my laptop - I can't swipe the lock screen down.