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Modern Collaboration with Microsoft OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams!

I’ve recently worked a lot with the Microsoft Cloud, specifically around productivity and Modern Collaboration. I decided to start a series of posts, and this is the second post in the series of at least four blog posts. If you haven’t read the first post in the series, I strongly encourage you to start with “What is Modern Collaboration, and how does it impact business?

The Microsoft Cloud is exceptionally vast in the number of products available. We are going to focus on the Office 365 segment of the Microsoft Cloud. Now, you will see the branding Microsoft 365 occasionally also, Microsoft 365 is a product line that includes Office 365, along with Windows licensing, and other subscription products for security and managing computers and mobile devices. Recently, Microsoft started using the Microsoft 365 branding for some small business and consumer subscription services. This article will not cover any of the consumer subscriptions. However, it is still applicable to the small business plans.

When thinking about Office 365, you need to understand that it is similar to Microsoft Office. When you purchase Microsoft Office, you get multiple pieces of software that install together as a suite of products. Office 365 is very similar. You are buying a subscription, and you get more than one product with that subscription.

Pre-load awesome background images for Microsoft Teams Virtual Background using PowerShell

Microsoft Teams officially rolled out Virtual Backgrounds back in March, around the time COVID-19 went crazy in the United States. With COVID-19 came a slew of people working from home, me included.

I spend a considerable chunk of my week on conference calls for work, volunteering, and honesty – just keeping up with friends. After a while, I had to spice up my virtual background with something new. The current implementation of Virtual Backgrounds in Microsoft Teams is limited in user-friendliness to add custom background images.

To add a custom background, you have to save the file to “%AppData%\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads\” which isn’t bad once you know this. However, getting fresh background images is the problematic part. I love browsing Reddit and finding the beautiful pictures on EarthPorn or SpacePorn subreddits.

I’m a massive fan of automation, so I choose to play around with PowerShell and create a quick script. Luckily, I was able to snag the bulk of my code from u/uspeoples from a comment posted on the PowerShell subreddit.

All you need to do is change lines 2 and 4 to match your preference and run it. The script will automatically throw the images returned from Reddit into the correct directory.

#I also recommend SpacePorn, but any reddits will work.
$subReddit = "EarthPorn"
#You can use hot, new, or top for the filter
$redditFilter = "top"

#Don't change anything below this line
$teamsDirectory = "$env:AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads\"
$redditData = (invoke-restmethod "http://www.reddit.com/r/$subReddit/$redditFilter/.json").data.children.data.url

foreach($data in $redditData){
    Invoke-WebRequest -Uri $data -OutFile ($teamsDirectory + $data.split('/')[-1])
}

Now, one major caveat when running this, Reddit won’t always have the best pictures; as my girlfriend put it, “They will also get ugly pictures, and it’ll flood their Teams.” With that said, I promised her I would let my readers know that they can navigate to “%AppData%\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads\” and delete any that they do not like.

Creating and Managing a Backlog using Microsoft 365 Apps

In the last few months, I’ve spent a lot of time organizing and planning. Most of this time was spent on my personal life organization around the house, but contrary to my most recent blog posts, “Getting things done while working from home using Microsoft To Do!” and “Organizing life, while trapped at home during COVID-19.” I have also put a significant focus on organizing tasks at work. 

I want to walk you through how I’ve created a workflow for incoming requests for training videos using Microsoft Forms, automated notifications using Power Automate, into Microsoft Teams, and automated the tracking inside of Microsoft Planner. All of this accomplished with our existing licensing with an Office 365 E3 license.

Getting things done while working from home using Microsoft To Do!

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, heck before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. I started working 100% from home; this was primarily due to my being a high-risk individual to the symptoms posed by COVID-19. I had worked from home a day or two in a row here and there, but now I was looking at weeks, months, who knew working from home.

After the first week, I noticed that I was struggling to find what to focus on; I had the attention span of a squirrel while I was in my home office. There were a lot of delayed, ‘back-burner’ items at work, but nothing super pressing at that time (don’t worry, that has changed!) I then also had a TON of things I needed to get done around the house I had severely neglected. I knew I couldn’t work on the house ethically when I should be getting work done, so I felt like my wheels were spinning in the mud.

Centralizing Your Chat Clients – Including Multiple Microsoft Teams Accounts!

I ran into a scenario where I wanted to use Microsoft Teams more. I am one of those odd people who have accounts in multiple Office 365 organizations. Having multiple accounts was no issue for me when I used Slack; I am still in a few of those too! Oh yea, don’t forget Telegram and Discord and Whatsapp and the million other chat apps that different groups of friends think you should be using!

While digging into how to address the significant lack of functionality in Microsoft Teams to log into multiple accounts, I made sure to log into the Microsoft Teams UserVoice and vote to add this functionality! I stumbled across a comment by Jeff Angama. He had written a blog post about a neat tool called Franz. This tool integrates 50+ chat and other social media services into a single application that synchronizes across multiple devices. The best part is that you can get this functionality completely free. Still, I strongly recommend you pay for the premium version to at least support development efforts!