Believe in your dreams

Almost ten years ago I was lucky enough to be invited by my college to attend a Microsoft conference called “A Glimpse into the world of a computer scientist”. It was held at the Microsoft Research building in Cambridge. Can you remember something you were doing ten years ago?

My certificate of attendance to "A glimpse into the world as a computer scientist", a Microsoft Research Cambridge conference
My certificate of attendance to “A glimpse into the world as a computer scientist”, a conference held at Microsoft Research in Cambridge.

The conference gave me grant insight into Microsoft and the world of computer science. Frankly it was rocket fuel and really kick-started my career off in IT! I volunteered to participate in a research project discussed during the conference. My family and I were selected a help test a product called the Whereabouts Clock (pictures below) – imagine the Harry Potter clock! A few months later we were working with a Microsoft Research Employee called Alex Taylor –  a researcher in the Socio-Digital Systems team. The clock was designed to display the whereabouts of everyone in the family. This was achieved through location data transmitted from smartphones and shared with an application. Each member in the family were then placed in a pre-defined segment of the clock, Home, Work or School. You can read more about the Whereabouts Clock on the Microsoft Research website.

The Microsoft Research Whereabouts Clock, 2006
The Microsoft Research Whereabouts Clock, 2006
Find my Friends iOS App ten years on from The Whereabouts Clock
Find my Friends iOS App ten years on from The Whereabouts Clock

Scarily ten years have passed. While Microsoft never released “The Whereabouts Clock”, their work directly or indirectly can be seen on the smartphones in our pockets today. Google launched its Latitude app, although this has now been retired, Apple have their Find my iPhone and Find my Friends apps (picture above) and Microsoft have their Find my Windows Phone. Other applications exist to manage scenarios similar to those of the “Whereabouts Clock”, one such example is Life360 Family Locator. Ten years on, I also still have my bright orange Microsoft Research bag (picture below) – you know how much I like my bags!

I still have my Microsoft Research conference bag ten years on!
I still have my Microsoft Research conference bag ten years on!

Back in February I got my dream blue badge and started my new job with Microsoft. working in the Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) group. I emailed Alex a few days ago, ten years on he still remembered me and my family and the research we did with him. He was so happy to discover I’m now working for Microsoft! Alex still works for Microsoft Research in Cambridge. I hope to meet him in person soon as he has kindly offered to give me a tour of the labs in Cambridge.

I’d like to leave you with one last message, inspired by a wonderful article published by Scott Hanselman when he was hired by Microsoft. I was particularly lucky to attend the Microsoft Research conference in 2005 and to be involved with “The Whereabouts Clock” research. But all that aside, I worked very hard at college and spent the last ten years working equally as hard developing my career, doing something I thoroughly enjoy and am passionate about (see Scott’s dream job Venn diagram in his post). All this enabled me to achieve my dream to work for Microsoft – thank you to all those who have helped me along the way – massive kudos to those who have helped me along the way such as Marshall Aerospace and ClearPeople. If you have dreams – don’t stop believing in them!

James Callaghan, jamecal,, jamescallaghan

#MSIgnite sessions available in a single spreadsheet

Update (31/01/15): Session spreadsheet updated and now includes 275 sessions.

Those involved with SharePoint, Office 365, Yammer, the communities and the wider industry will already know about the Ignite conference Microsoft has planned for May this year. Microsoft published the conference sessions on the Ignite website this afternoon, introduced through this Office Blog post.

The Office Blog post included a video from Julia White in which she shared what to expect from the conference. She also said in the video “without giving away too much, be the first to see a lot of new technology”, hinting that we will probably see the next versions of SharePoint and Exchange etc. The SharePoint Twitter account also shared the tweet below, with another video (#InBillWeTrust) confirming the next version of SharePoint (SharePoint 2016) will be shared during the conference.

The conference is just around the corner. At the time of writing this post, there are 272 sessions published on the website and I’m sure this will increase in the coming weeks and months. Over a year ago, I created a PowerShell script to help myself and others easily review all the sessions that were planned for the then SharePoint Conference (#SPC14).

You’ll be pleased to know I’ve done something similar again this year, although this year I’ve quickly gone about it using jQuery. I plan to create and share a bookmarklet but until then I’ve shared the first Ignite sessions spreadsheet for your viewing. The latest version of the sessions spreadsheet and jQuery bookmarklet are shared below.

MSIgnite Sessions Spreadsheet

Javascript via JSFiddle

Fingers crossed I can attend #MSIgnite and have the opportunity to meet the great people I met at #SPC14 again!

Discover what’s inside my man bag…

Ok, it’s time for me to confess that I like a man bag or two. I really appreciate a stylish and high-quality bag and have to admit I have a few. I don’t buy them at a rate like my partner does (along with her shoes) but when that time arises, I take a trip to France! Join me in this post to discover my various bags and what’s in them bag – inspired by one of my favourite blogs Lifehacker.

Inspired many years ago by the various stories of ‘Featured Bags’ from Lifehacker and ‘What’s in our bags’, I’ve always wanted to write one of these posts for myself at the right time – that time is now!

As a SharePoint Consultant who is often on the road, it is important for me to have various pieces of technology & equipment and those other ‘things’ with me for when the need arises. Equally as important as having the right things with me at the right time is having a bag that is high quality, elegant in design, durable and comfortable to carry around. Let me share with you my collection of bags…

The bag collection

I have two French laptop bags, an overnight bag and a Crumpler Good Boy 13″ sling bag. My favourite is the smaller, more recent laptop bag. I received this for Christmas from my girlfriend (thank you, thank you, thank you) along with the overnight bag. They’re both from the same town in France where I brought my first laptop bag a year or so ago.

My favourite bag (Francinel 13" laptop bag)
My favourite bag (Francinel 13″ laptop bag)
The workhorse (Katana 15" laptop bag)
The workhorse (Katana 15″ laptop bag)
The sleeper (David Jones overnight bag)
The sleeper (David Jones overnight bag)
Undercover (Crumpler 13" Good Boy sling bag)
Undercover (Crumpler 13″ Good Boy sling bag)

Where do they come from? Well, the Crumpler I brought in the Crumpler store on the Strand, London a few years back. The other bags…I cannot say. It’ll give away my secrets – I can say though that they came from France!

What’s inside my bag?

Lots of people have asked me what I carry in my bag…here is your chance and theirs, to see what’s inside my bag (on a typical day):


  1. A good book to read – at present I’m reading “The man who knew too much” (Alan Turing) by David Leavitt
  2. My favourite watch!
  3. A strong umbrella
  4. Oakley Sunglasses
  5. Cacoon Grid-it organiser
  6. Canon PowerShot SX280 HS
  7. Beats Headphones
  8. iPhone 5 (this may become a Lumia soon)
  9. MacBook Air 13″ (although I’m sure this might change to something less Apple-based like a Surface Pro 3 soon)
  10. Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse
  11. Huawei 4G Mi-Fi
  12. Leatherman Titanium
  13. Powerbank (RavPower Deluxe)
  14. Western Digital Pocket drive and various flash drives (all but one encrypted mind!)
  15. Various adapters (USB to Ethernet, Miniport to VGA etc)
  16. Logitech R700 presentation remote
  17. Laptop lock cable (for the bag, not the laptop)
  18. Moleskin notebook
  19. Bluetooth speaker with microphone – great for conference calls
  20. Pens. Pens. Pens. Particularly my Parker fountain pen and a really good whiteboard marker.
  21. Welfare stuff like tissues, hand cleaner, wet wipes and some Nurofen!
  22. Envelope to stash receipts
  23. Peter Rabbit and Paddington Bear – when I travel I like to take pictures of these two in front of recognisable and special places to send to my daughter.

There you have it…my bags and what’s in them.

Home brew grain milling with a coffee grinder

I unpacked all our ingredients and equipment to start the home brew project off today, only to find I made a very silly mistake. I had ordered 3kg of Maris Otter uncrushed and had no way to crush it. No problem, I’ll just order some more I thought. It got me thinking though, and not waste this grain, was it possible to mill the grain ourselves before the online order arrived?

Maris Otter uncrushed grain
Maris Otter uncrushed grain

First home brew disappointment

Hoping to start our first brew off on Tuesday evening, I was doubtful that the online order would be delivered in time. The order was dispatched and estimated to arrive within two working days. The race was on!

Local breweries, forums & rolling pins

The research began. I reached out to two local micro-breweries and asked them if they had a grain mill available, unsurprisingly they didn’t! One suggested using a pestle & mortar or a rolling pin which I tried but I felt the result wasn’t great. While attempting the pestle & mortar method I questioned whether we needed a grain mill to crush the grain or can we use some other tool?

Homebrewer Research & Argos

I did want any home brewer would do and reached out in search of an answer in the homebrewer forums. It seems we’re not the only ones to have made this mistake! One method suggested by many homebrewers was to use an electric coffee grinder. Staying clear of any internet suppliers to avoid any further delays with delivery etc, I leapt on the Argos website, where I found three different coffee grinders available. I read their product descriptions and reserved the one with the largest capacity and easiest access (De’Longhi KG40 Coffee Bean Grinder). Within 20 minutes of making the reservation, I had the thing unboxed on the counter, grain loaded and all!

Milling grain with coffee grinders

A few test grinds indicated I needed to grind for 12 seconds to get it to the consistency I needed. I was able to grind just over a 100g each go and milled our batch of 3kg in less than 15 minutes. The coffee grinder solution does work!

Crushed Maris Otter
Crushed Maris Otter

The solution is not all perfect as we’re not able to grind, mill or crush grain consistently as you might be able to with a true grain mill but we do have an efficient tool for those rare occasions when we need it. Bonus, we can grind coffee beans as well!

3kg of Maris Otter crushed using a coffee grinder
3kg of Maris Otter crushed using a coffee grinder

We beat the online order!

It is Tuesday, our uncrushed grain is now crushed. Two working days have passed and the online order still hasn’t arrived. Nothing can stop us from starting our first brew as planned this evening.

What types of email does SharePoint send automatically?

Update: After reviewing the SMTP logs, on a very active SharePoint 2013 environment and some further research, I now have an extensive list of the types of emails SharePoint sends. Most of these now include an example image of the email that is sent.

I recently responded to a question posted to Twitter using the #SPHelp hashtag. Tim Ferro was trying to understand all the different types of email that SharePoint sends automatically.

While I may have misunderstood his tweet to begin with, it certainly got me thinking about what emails does SharePoint actually send. I gave it some thought with a colleague and have produced this post as a result.

  1. MySite Cleanup Notification
  2. Task assigned to you notification
  3. Alerts
  4. Storage limit exceeded
  5. Sharing – Invited to
  6. Site Mailbox Created
  7. MySite Setup Notification
  8. Mentioned in a conversation
  9. Site Deletion Notice (Site Policy)
  10. Site Access Requests

Example of SharePoint Emails

There is very little information that provides an answer to Tim’s question. I’ve attempted to create a consolidated view of all the different types of emails that SharePoint sends. I have sourced example images from various sources on the internet. They have been credited to the author and include a link to the originating content.

MySite cleanup notification

MySite Cleanup Notification. Credit: SharePoint 2013 Admin blog
MySite Cleanup Notification. Credit: SharePoint 2013 Admin blog

Task assigned to you notification

Task assigned to you email. Credit: Tomislav Tasic
Task assigned to you email. Credit: Tomislav Tasic


SharePoint Alerts. Credit: Merin Nakarmi
SharePoint Alerts. Credit: Merin Nakarmi

Storage Limit Exceeded

Storage Quota Exceeded. Credit: Three Will
Storage Limit Exceeded. Credit: Three Will

Sharing – Invited to …

Mentioned in a conversation email. Credit: Jennifer Mason, CMS Wire
Mentioned in a conversation email. Credit: Jennifer Mason, CMS Wire

Site Mailbox Created

Site Mailbox Created. Credit: Mark Kashman
Site Mailbox Created. Credit: Mark Kashman

MySite Setup Notification

MySite Setup. Credit: Sudhit Kesharwani
MySite Setup. Credit: Sudhit Kesharwani

Mentioned in a conversation

Mentioned in a conversation
Mentioned in a conversation email. Credit: Jennifer Mason, CMS Wire

Site Deletion Notice (Site Policy)

Site Deletion Notice. Steven Boyle, SharePoint IT Pro Blog
Site Deletion Notice. Steven Boyle, SharePoint IT Pro Blog

Site Access Requests

Site Access Requests. Jasper Oosterveld
Site Access Requests. Jasper Oosterveld

Other possibilities

There are a number of other emails that SharePoint might send, which I have been unable to confirm at this time.

  • Health Analyser – Alerts
  • Managed Metadata Service – term managed and term submission
  • Solution resource usage – site collection exceeded daily resource usage
  • Membership requests (requests to join/leave groups)
  • MySite new followers and Colleague and keyword suggestions
  • Site Collection Upgrade Notification (2010 > 2013)
  • Created and Delete Upgrade Evaluation Site Collections
  • Removal notifications of user provisioned Site Collections
  • Search Service Application
  • Apps Service Application
  • eDiscovery
  • Record
  • Publishing
  • Retention

Community Contribution

Not stopping there, I have also asked the community via the Office 365 Technical Network on Yammer (10,000+ members). Let’s see what people come back with. In time I’d like to add more detailed summaries of these including a sample of the emails.