Set yourself unavailable with this open source PowerShell based Pomodoro timer

Update: An executable Windows app has been created based on this open source script to simplify the process. Read about it here

MVP Jan Egil Ring and I have created a GitHub PowerShell project called PsProductivityTools. There you will find a function called Start-Pomodoro with the following features

  • Count down for 25 minutes by default or a period specified by you
    • Start-Pomodoro -Minutes 10
  • The function will set your computer in presentation mode which will suppress all notifications and popups on your windows machine
  • Set your Skype for Business client in Do Not Disturb using a custom presence state called Pomodoro Sprint and set your personal note to when you will be available
  • You can mute and unmute your phone during the Pomodoro Sprint using IFTTT triggers
    • You need to have created the mute and unmute triggers, generated a webhook key and installed IFTTT on your mobile
    • Will write a tutorial in a later blogpost
  • It will make you available again after 25 minutes or your specified time, turning on notifications, making you available again in Skype for Business and unmute your phone. Awesome stuff :)

This is an open source project on GitHub so please feel free to add your own suggestions to the project.

How to get started

  1. Open PowerShell and run the following cmdlet
    • Install-Module -Name PSProductivityTools
    • if you need to update it later run Update-Module -Name PSProductivityTools and restart all PowerShell instances
    • You need to run PowerShell as administrator in order to install the module
  2. Now you can run Start-Pomdoro at any time from PowerShell
    • Start-Pomodoro
      • This will set your computer in presentation mode
    • Start-Pomodoro -Minutes 15 -EndPersonalNote “It’s a good day today”

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The goal of the technique is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions on focus and flow. A pomodoro is indivisible. When interrupted during a pomodoro, either the other activity must be recorded and postponed (inform – negotiate – schedule – call back) or the pomodoro must be abandoned. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are named pomodoros. Read more about the Pomodoro Technique here

Why the Pomodoro Technique?

If I can get one Pomodoro done in between meetings, workshops and calls, then I am happy. That Pomodoro is priceless and it helps me answer that long email, get started on that document or wrap my head around a problem. 25 minutes is long enough so that I can reach my flow state and short enough that I feel that I actually can do it. It may take between 5-10 minutes to reach the flow state. If I manage to interrupt myself with social media, coffee break or decide to do something else, then I may spend longer time in total on that email instead of just get it done during a Pomodoro. If you want to succeed with Pomodoro, you need to make yourself unavailable, but equally important, you need to make yourself available again when those 25 minutes have passed. That is why we created the Pomodoro PowerShell tool

What is flow?

Flow is the peak performance state where you feel your best and you perform your best. The good news is, it’s hackable. One of the hacks is inducing flow using the Pomodoro Technique. Read more about flow over at the Flow Genome Project

An important part of succeeding with the Pomodoro Technique is lists with your most important tasks that you can prioritize. I use OneNote for that. Check out how I do it in my OneNote LifeHacks YouTube series 

My thoughts on Pexip getting certified for Skype for Business

This is good news! The certification process validates the seamless way Pexip Infinity Fusion integrates with Skype for Business Server 2015 meetings. Pexip has the ability to integrate video endpoints seamless in to Skype for Business meetings so that anyone from any device can call in to a the meeting and join with audio, video and screen sharing both ways.

The Pexip and Skype for Business integration explained in one picture

Why the certification at this point?

Personally I see a lot of enterprise customers moving to Skype for Business Server for VoIP and meetings including moving their telephone conferencing solution. If the enterprise has video endpoints from other vendors the end-user story becomes complex. The goal is always to have as few options as possible when it comes to how to do meetings to ensure widespread adoption. Pexip helps with this story and they can even register endpoints directly which helps the enterprise decommission older outdated and complex video servers and still keep the meeting room investments. Another reason for this move by Microsoft is probably that Cisco has a good video interoperability story with their acquisition of Acano that happened in 2016. Also their own offering, the Video Interoperability Server (VIS) that was introduced with Lync Server 2013, has not seen much development since it’s release. The VIS role has the limitation that it only works with certain Cisco endpoints and only with internal endpoints without any firewall between the endpoints and Skype for Business Servers.

What does the integration look like?

From a video endpoint that is internally registered on separate video servers or directly to Pexip, all they have to do to join the Skype for Business meeting is dial the Skype for Business meeting conferencing ID and join directly in to the meeting. For external endpoints that is not registered to any local video servers, they need to dial skype@domain.com and type the conference ID when prompted to join the meeting. To learn more about the capabilities and setup process read my blog post on the subject

How it looks like when a Pexip registered endpoint joines a Skype for Business meeting, from my blogpost on how to set it up

Why this has a big impact for customers

A lot of enterprises moving to Skype for Business has an existing investment in video based meeting rooms. In my design process I always ask what their meeting rooms look like and what kind of equipment are being used. Many larger organization has many vendors for video and audio in their meeting rooms and are not ready to replace all that technology with Skype for Business based equipment. The Pexip integration helps them capitalize on the investment already made and still succeed with Skype for Business. This helps with flexibility when designing future meeting rooms and ends the technology debate regarding what vendor is best. You can have the best of both worlds and remove the technology barrier for meetings.

What does the certification entail?

Here is what Microsoft writes about the certification process “The Skype for Business Certification Program is designed to offer Microsoft customers badges or designations as indicators of third party solutions that demonstrate a high quality experience and compatibility when used with Skype for Business. Only products that pass the specifications outlined in the Skype for Business Certification Program can be associated with each designation. Specifications are designed specific to each category based on, but not exclusive to, industry standards, enterprise class solutions, functional interop or audio/video quality. All vendors participating in Skype for Business Certification Program participate in common support infrastructure (TSANet) for rapid resolution of support tickets.”  Read more here

In short, it means both Microsoft and Pexip has tested, adjusted and validated the integration and that both parties support the solution and will work together to resolve any unforseen issues. This is good news for customers and partners that use and work with both Microsoft and Pexip.

To sum it up

Pexip is now supported by Microsoft when integrating with Skype for Business meetings. This is good news for customers because they can now easier choose best of both worlds when designing meeting room experience. Removing the meeting technology barrier results in widespread adoption in the enterprise. The focus of this certification is clearly Skype for Business Server meeting integration for enterprises. Pexip has other capabilities such as support for hybrid topology, distributed meeting across servers in a global environment and scale-out capacity using Azure. I am looking forward to see how this relationship develops and working with helping enterprises succeed with Skype for Business user adoption in all scenarios.

References

Is your next productivity headset the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC?

I say, yes!

Why?voyager-focus-uc-system

  • It is optimized for Skype for Business
  • It is wireless using bluetooth, connection to up to eight devices, two at the same time
  • It has noise cancelling, removing the white noise but keeps voices voyager-focus-in-standwhen people are talking to you
  • It has really good music quality, can be compared to the best music headsets on the market
  • By installing the Plantronics Hub software it will set your Skype for Business status to “In a Call” when you answer the call on your cellphone
  • It can easily be charged using MicroUSB or the charging stand

Check out my thoughts on the headset on YouTube

Also check out the video review by MVP Matt Landis

Link to the product page: http://www.plantronics.com/us/product/voyager-focus-uc?skuId=sku7140027#fndtn-overview

Five years of blogging and 1,000,000 hits!

ThankYou!First off, thanks to all who have visited msunified.net and given feedback to the blogposts. I am stoked that my blog msunified.net now has more than 1,000,000 hits. Since I started blogging in 2009 it has been the place where I post my notes from the field, collections of links and Thoughts on UC.

Some of the most popular blogposts of all time

  1. Installing Exchange 2010 Prerequisites on Server 2008 R2
  2. Enabling Lync Server 2010 for Lync Mobile Clients
  3. Installing Lync Server 2010 Prerequisites on Windows Server 2008 R2
  4. Configure Exchange 2010 InternalUrl PowerShell script
  5. Lync Server 2010 features and how to configure them
  6. Lync Server Mobility Troubleshooting Tips
  7. Lync Server 2010 Troubleshooting Tips
  8. Installing OCS 2007 R2 Prerequisites on Windows Server 2008 R2
  9. Script for Configuring Exchange 2010 Internal and External URLs
  10. Lync Server Front End: Lost connection to the Web Conferencing Edge Server
  11. Lync client sign-in and DNS records recommendations

Some of the most popular blogposts the year of 2014

  1. Installing Exchange 2010 Prerequisites on Server 2008 R2
  2. Lync client sign-in and DNS records recommendations
  3. Enabling Lync Server 2010 for Lync Mobile Clients
  4. Lync 2013 Downloads
  5. Configure Exchange 2010 InternalUrl PowerShell script
  6. Lync Server Mobility Troubleshooting Tips
  7. Troubleshooting Office Web Apps Server for Lync
  8. You see only a white screen when viewing Lync 2013 desktop sharing
  9. Installing Lync Server 2010 Prerequisites on Windows Server 2008 R2
  10. TEL, SIP, mailto, and Lync meeting links association

Where do the all time visitors come from

  1. Search engines
  2. TechNet Forums
  3. Twitter

Some thoughts on the activity

  • People are still installing Exchange on Server 2008 R2 :)
  • The old blogposts from 2010 are still relevant
  • Twitter is a relevant platform to reach out to my audience as it is number three all time source for visitors
  • The type of article that drives recurring hits are
    • the ones that solves a specific problem
    • troubleshooting guides
    • link repositories
    • articles explaining how stuff works
  • I also use this blog as a landing page for all my content, but articles like this one will not drive much recurring users, but helps me communicate my thoughts in a better format than the 140 characters on Twitter :)
  • I always try to remember to blog solutions I find to strange problems, typically the solution was tips from multiple sources and by collecting them and describing how I solved the problem is a good blogpost, and will help others having the same problem.

Afterthought

The amount of hits really motivates me to continue share my experiences as an IT-PRO with solutions to problems, but also highlighting not so mainstream knowledge like I do in my LyncPro Tips series and Thoughts on UC YouTube series. Thank you for your continued support :)

OneMillHits1

On December 23 2014 msunified.net reached 1,000,000 views!

Thoughts on UC: Productivity

As an Information Worker I am passionate about productivity and finding techniques, equipment and devices that may make me more productive.

In this YouTube video I touch upon productivity from a personal perspective and business perspective

About Thoughts on UC YouTube series

I want to share mye ideas on what I  considers to be the defining elements to a successful UC rollout.The goal is to get people thinking by hightlighting important topics in and around UC deployment and adoption phases.

References

“Productivity, Chance Favors the Connected Mind”
-Steven Johnson