VS Code Hack: Easy Window Identification

VS Code has definitely become my tool of choice for everything from everyday editing of text and config files, to full web project development and testing. That said, I frequently find myself with a handful of VS Code windows open at any given time—bouncing between projects and trying to keep everything straight in my head (project X is on this screen, project Y is on that screen, etc). Then I discovered workspace theme overrides, and everything became 10x easier.

Analyzing Fitbit Data with Telegraf & Grafana

Having previously moved my Telegraf instance to a Synology-hosted Docker environment, I’ve spent some time adding additional measures for tracking and visualization using Grafana. With that task, I recently discovered the Telegraf Exec plugin, which allows you to execute custom scripts for the purposes of collecting external data for ingress into InfluxDB (or any of the other Telegraf output options). To prove out this concept, I’m using a Bash script to connect to Fitbit and pull data from my Fitbit Blaze into InfluxDB.

Moving Telegraf to Synology-Hosted Docker

In a previous post, I walked through the process of configuring Telegraf to run on a Virtual Machine hosted on my Synology DS1817+. While I quite liked the idea of running a virtual machine, with a complete OS available for configuration and installation of anything I might need, I also wanted to explore a thinner deployment of Telegraf using less resources and operating more like a service than a VM I would need to patch and maintain. Enter Docker.

Creating Your First Logic App

If you’ve used Microsoft Flow before, you’ll feel right at home working inside a Logic App. That said, while there’s a lot of similarities (Flow itself is built on top of Logic Apps), there’s still several core differences, and reasons why you might elect to use Azure Logic Apps over Microsoft Flow to implement no-code and low-code process automation.

While Flow is intended to be used by business users and offers a more self-service and user-specific workflow experience, Logic Apps are really designed for IT Pros. Logic Apps run as event and/or timer-based process within your Azure environment, meaning they’re not necessarily tied to a specific user. Logic Apps offer more advanced integration and lifecycle management capabilities, including the ability to leverage Azure Resource Management and source control.

For these reasons, you may choose to use a Logic App over Flow for scenarios that span across the organization, are scoped to a wider number of users, or have the mission criticality that justifies deeper testing, source control, and deployment techniques.

In this guide, we’ll create a basic Logic App that leverages ElasticOCR to OCR files added to OneDrive for Business. This guide is intended to show the mechanics of creating and rolling out your first Logic App. Error handling has been omitted for the sake of simplicity. If you don’t currently have an ElasticOCR subscription, you can sign up for 30-day free trial to follow along with this guide.

Configuring Telegraf on a Synology Virtual Machine

As part of my Home Automation series, we configured a Grafana dashboard to display status and statistics about SmartThings devices, the local weather and more. A few months ago, I retired an 8+ year old Windows Server storage solution and replaced it with a new Synology DS1817+. I knew that I wanted to leverage Grafana to display health statistics about the Synology (disk temperatures, throughput, disk conditions, etc.)—something that I never took the time to setup for my Windows server. Thankfully, Synology’s DSM platform natively supports SNMP, and we can easily run Telegraf to monitor the SNMP data and log it in our previously created InfluxDB instance.

On the backs of the ElasticOCR launch event at SharePoint Conference North America, I found myself with dozens of photos taken by the team that all needed to be sized and cropped. Previously I would have simply spun up Photoshop and created a quick batch solution to accomplish this, but this scenario had some challenges. We had specifically taken photos of people at our booth, and I wanted to attempt to automatically crop the photos around people as to somewhat normalize the photos without manually cropping all of them. Enter Azure Cognitive Services, and the start of CogServe-PS a new project that will become a holistic library for interacting with the Cognitive Services portfolio via PowerShell.

Introducing ElasticOCR

To say it has been a busy year would be an understatement. Surprisingly, we were actually able to keep what we were working on under wraps, and with the veil lifted a couple weeks ago at our SharePoint Conference North America product launch, I can now formally introduce ElasticOCR.

The team and I have been hard at work, transforming a paper napkin idea of the world’s first modern document OCR solution into not just a “minimal viable product”, but a generally available solution with a dedicated brand and native integration with the systems and platforms that you already use every single day—and we did this in almost a year to the day from our first white-boarding session.

In case you missed the press release and social promotion last week, my company announced the release of Record Center Version 2, greatly enhancing the records management experience within SharePoint. At B&R Business Solutions, our ultimate goal is to simplify what are otherwise stressful and complicated tasks for users and record managers, making the overall records management life cycle in SharePoint much more manageable.

While many people see the intranet as a pretty (hopefully) homepage, in reality the modern enterprise intranet is a complex animal of many moving parts. Structuring of the information within the intranet, how that information is presented to the user, how the user interacts with it, how the organization manages it, and the physical branding that sits on top of all of it are all critical conversations to have if an intranet is going to be effective. In this session we’ll explore the building blocks of a successful intranet and discuss common intranet pitfalls to avoid on your next intranet roll-out.

I've been a Microsoft supporter (dare I say fan boy) since... well... as long as I can remember, and an equally strong critic of Apple for just as long, but last week I did something I never thought I would. I ordered an iPhone.