Thursday, March 23, 2006

MiniMage Finally Gets to Go to a Microsoft Event (Microsoft Across America)

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Microsoft Across America Bus Event at New Horizons Learning Center. The focus of this event was on Microsoft Business Solutions (now called Microsoft Dynamics).

Although they were giving away an XBox 360, my goal was to see what was in that bus. It's a good thing, too, because I didn't win anything they were giving away. I was also hoping for some swag, I must admit, and we didn't leave empty-handed.

The day started off (for my group, anyway) with TrinSoft folks talking about the business software Microsoft has. To be honest, I knew MS could always be counted on to wander off and get their hands on something new, but I truly had no idea how far they'd gone into business-oriented software. Most of this discussion went right past me, as a PC support tech at my organization has little to do with CRM and its fellows. I did warm to the SharePoint demo, Smartphone discussion and Microsoft Office integration pointers, since my organization makes a lot of use of the business portal and Microsoft Exchange. I couldn't restrain myself from asking what model of Tablet PCs the presenters had (Toshiba M205). I was delighted to see them there, but I wished they were using them like tablets, not regular laptops.

And then they let me us in the bus!

I would have been upset if I had not seen a TabletPC there. As it was, the first thing I saw was a Hewlett-Packard TC4200.

A TrinSoft rep (right) was poised to use the portables and the giant NEC plasma display above to show attendees how Microsoft's business packages can help organizations succeed. Once again, it is obvious that the new camera I bought probably wasn't worth the shipping cost, let alone the money I spent on it.

Across from the TabletPC, more lovelies to inflame my technolust: Windows Mobile powered Smartphones. How I have craved one for years! Top left: i-mate SP3. Top right: Motorola MPx220. Middle: HTC Wizard. Bottom left: i-mate JAM. Bottom right: Samsung SCH-i730.

Next to the phones, more machines for demonstrating Microsoft Dynamics. See the Cisco VoIP phone in the back (BTW, if anyone knows how to hack those things to add ringers, let me know. My phone should not be saying, "Come in, Number 1;" it should be saying, "Captain, we are being hailed!")?

Now here is one time I night demand be seated at the back of the bus. I wanted to get comfy in the booth and check out the TabletPC and see what MSN TV2 is all about. The life-sized picture of the lady kind of spooked me, though (and still does); I'm not sure why.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I had to be retrieved from the bus to make the second session, Microsoft Office Tips and Tricks, though I may not have been the only straggler. I was pretty sure I wouldn't see anything to interest me in this presentation, but, as usual, I was wrong. The exceedingly perky New Horizons instructor was a veritable font of Office product knowledge. Thanks to Ms. Chipper (not her name, I'm sure), I now know that the Search Folders functionality is the key to finding all email sent from and to my very communicative supervisor, so that I can more effectively clean out my Exchange account (I'm getting those evil "your mailbox is full" messages again*). I made a mental note to try out the integration between Office and SharePoint the next time I have to post application configuration instructions where my fellow techs can see them. The use of Smart Tags in Word was something I wished I'd known about much sooner. Of course, I was all excited when she demonstrated OneNote to us; Tablethead I may be, but I've never actually tried the app. I was afraid I'd love it and then have to pay for it. The one thing that really marred the excellent OneNote demo was that she had no TabletPC, so she really couldn't put the best face on the note-taking features, though she gave a heck of a try with her mouse. Also, she didn't touch on the recording feature at all. Still, she gave a good talk, even if we sometimes wondered what she was on. I have only mentioned a little bit of what I took away from that session.

I had to hit the bus for a few more pics before I left, of course. It was a lot less crowded, then.

Yeah, I know. Only I can have so much to say about an event that lasted maybe four hours!

*You want a laugh? My tablet translated that as "your matrix is hell!"