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You Really Should Be Using Office Lens

20 Oct

I regularly use Microsoft Office Lens for scanning in receipts and tickets as it’s remarkably good at automatically cropping and correcting skew, and the results are usually very impressive.

Yesterday I used the whiteboard option for the first time in quite a while, and I’d forgotten how good that is too. It managed to process this photo:

Office Lens_20151019_120648

into this:

Office Lens_20151019_120648_processed

Yes, the second image is the automatically processed version of the first.

Microsoft Office Lens is available for free on Windows Phone, iOS and Android.

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To The Cloud!

1 Apr

I’ve been using OneDrive for many years now, starting not long after it’s release as SkyDrive. Back then new users were allocated 25Gb of storage space for free, an incredible amount for the time. In later years this initial free allocation has fallen to 15Gb for new members, although existing users kept their 25Gb quota (this is listed as 15Gb free and 10Gb loyalty bonus in the graphic below).

Also over the years I’ve taken up or been assigned various other offers of additional free space, the most notable of which was the 200Gb of free space for two years after I purchased my Surface Pro 2. This has meant that I’ve always had plenty of cloud space to play with, and saw me starting to transition my digital photo backups to the cloud, consisting of many gigabytes of files.

Recently I took out an office 365 subscription which now means I have 1 terabyte of cloud space at my disposal. Actually, that’s not true, I have unlimited space but either Microsoft is still rolling this out, or it’s assigned as you come close to needing it, I can’t remember exactly what the situation is but it’s not an issue right now.

OneDriveAllocation

So how much does all this cost… well an office 365 Home subscription for 5 people officially costs £79.99. So that’s Office on the desktop for 5 people (including all updates, so when patches or the next version are released you are eligible for them), plus that 1Tb/Unlimited OneDrive space for each of the 5 users (alternatively for £59.99 is Office 365 Personal, a single user licence is available). Oh, and there’s 60 minutes of Skype calls to landlines (worldwide I think) per month included too.

It’s expensive for some users, but for somebody like me it’s good value. Not that I paid full price, a quick search on eBay can reveal some decent savings, along with the fact that a lot of phones and small screen tablets come with a year of Office 365 Personal thrown in for free, sometimes with devices costing less than the £59.99 of the licence when purchased on its own!

So considering I never used more than about 10% of my free allocation, with more than 1Tb of space I now have it was time to start shifting more of my precious files to the cloud. I’ve already mentioned moving my photo archive over. This is a slow process as I’m trying to take the opportunity to make sure the photos are correctly tagged and filed as I go.

So what else goes up?

Well, I started to copy over the FLAC rips of my music CDs I’ve completed, since this took so much time and it would be nice to have an offsite backup.

And now Xbox music allows you to stream MP3 and AAC files stored in the Music folder on OneDrive, so I’m currently copying them over slowly (the flac rips have gone on hold until this process is completed). Unfortunately this archive consists of many gigabytes of data so it is a slow process, especially with the comically bad upload speed I get on my current Virgin cable connection (I can’t upgrade as I’ll be locked in to a new contract for another year and I want to move house soon). I’m trying to alleviate this by performing as many uploads as I can over hotel Wi-Fi, but even so it’s a slow process.

So what next?

Well, my documents are already on there. Personal videos are going up as a by-product of the photos. I don’t think I have the bandwidth to put ripped DVDs and Blu-Ray files in the cloud. So I’m not sure.

What I do know is that it’s good knowing I have a backup of my files offsite. Being able to easily stream or view those files is also a fantastic feature.

Now then, let’s get that move sorted and get some serious internet upload speed.

OneNote Goes Free on the Windows Desktop

18 Mar

The jewel of the Microsoft Office suite in my opinion is OneNote. Microsoft have just released their first version of OneNote for the Macintosh as a free download. I wonder why this version took so long considering that OneNote has been available on Android, iOS, Windows RT and of course Windows Phone and Windows desktop versions for quite a while now. I guess devices with a sub 10% market share are not worth developing for as a priority…

The one thing all versions aside from the Windows Desktop SKU have in common is that they are all free. To rectify this Microsoft has now also released a free version of OneNote for the Windows desktop, but it’s not all good news.

My recent ramblings around Office 365 all really hinge on the fact that OneNote 2013 is better under touch than earlier desktop versions.

Not only is OneNote by far the application I use most often in the office suite, but it’s also the application I use most with touch, preferring traditional input methods (i.e. mouse and keyboard) most of the time for everything else. Essentially the thing pushing me towards Office 365 was the new version of OneNote, but now that’s free I’ll be backing away from the upgrade even more… right?

Well, yes and no.

The problem is the free version of OneNote has a few missing “premium” features. I’ve not been able to find a list of what these are, but have encountered one through my usage – audio note taking. Unfortunately I use this extensively in meetings, so not having this is a huge problem for me and I have found myself reverting back to the Office 2010 version I already own for meetings.

Otherwise, so far, the free version seems to do everything I need, so for non-meeting notes I’ve been using this. But it’s not a very elegant solution (running two versions) so I’m not sure how long this setup will last.

At the end of the day I think I may end up transferring everything back to OneNote 2010 and sticking with that for the near future, but I fully understand what Microsoft has done here, OneNote is a tremendous piece of software and it’s understandable they want to be paid for it.

But for most people I’d be surprised if the free version doesn’t more than meet their requirements.