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5 Tips to Tame the Teams Fire Hose

By Curtis Johnstone

If you are like many users in an organization where Teams adoption is growing fast, you are being added to a LOT of teams. After a certain point, it becomes daunting; an overwhelming list of teams and activity that is akin to drinking from a fire hose.  Most chat based collaboration app’s suffer from this challenge – how do you allow end-users to participate in all of the projects and teams they are part of it, yet, allow them to focus on what they need to do?

There are many different approaches to this problem, and the right one depends on your situation (how many Teams and Channels and your level of participation).

This blog post offers a few simple tips to help focus on the collaboration you need to be part of day-to-day. It is not an exhaustive list, but will hopefully offer some effective quick help.

Tip #1 – Customize your Notification Settings

Teams ships with default notification settings that can be very distracting when you start to leverage Teams for a lot of day-to-day collaboration. These notifications can be customized quickly (click on your Profile Picture | Settings |Notifications).

The most distracting notifications are Banner and email, so reserve those notifications for time sensitive important notifications. For me, that is “Replies to conversations I started“, or “Replies to conversations I replied to“. FYI, Banner notifications are large notifications which appear in the bottom corner of your screen.

My settings are included in the screenshot below. What this reflects is moving away from active distracting notifications to relying on the Activity feed. Which is a segue into Tip #2.

Tip #2 – Live by the Activity Feed!

As you start participating in many teams, there is no escaping the fact that there is just a lot going on! The best method I have found to handle this is to have a quick birds eye view of all that activity. Enter the Teams Activity feed – the Activity Tab in the left hand side bar as shown here:

If you adopt similar Teams-wide notification settings as in Tip #1, the majority of activity in your teams that you are a member of will go to the activity tab. A convenient notification bubble with the number of new activity entries will also be included, which also shows up on the Teams app icon in the Windows taskbar as shown here:

One of the big benefits from adopting the activity feed as the main source of ‘what is new?’ and ‘what needs my attention?’ is that it shifts the mindset from being a disruptive and reactive notification workflow to a more intentional workflow chosen at the time that best suites when you are able to process it.

Tip #3 – Customize Individual Channel Notifications Based on Your Level of Participation

Confession – I do not like customizing a lot of individual notification settings, especially individual channels, so I was reluctant at first, but it does make a HUGE difference in being able to effectively manage all the teams you are a member of. Your participation level on all the teams you are part of varies greatly – so it makes sense that customizing your notifications will be beneficial.

A good approach is to set most channels that you actively use to a custom notification that either has “all new posts”, or as I have set it here, only “each time the channel is mentioned” show in the activity feed.

Channel Notification Settings

If there is a Channel where you need to follow the activity very closely, you can set the customer notifications to show all new posts and channel mentions to “Banner and feed”. Be careful with the Banner though – again – it can be very distracting.

Tip #4 – Pin Important or Frequently Used Channels

Many users surprisingly do not know use this feature, but you can select the settings for any channel (the three “…” to the right of the channel name) and select Pin channel. This pins the channel in the Teams client above all of the teams you are a member of as shown here:

This makes it very convenient to access these channels. Use it just for that – channels you are actively using everyday that you need to visit often. You should not have more than 10 channels here.

Tip #5 – Use the Mobile Client!

Microsoft has truly embraced a mobile-first mentality and has done a superb job with high functioning native look-and-feel mobile applications for Microsoft Teams.

These clients are built with a different technology stack (then the web and desktop version), and can offer an easier and sometimes faster method to catch up with all the activity you are part of.

Specifically if you are part of many Teams organizations (aka Tenants), switching between those tenants and associated identities can be very slow and cumbersome on the desktop or web client. The Teams mobile clients allow you register multiple identities and all the Teams organizations they are part of. Tenant switching is one-click and usually happens within a couple of seconds! This makes quickly scanning the activity in several organizations quick and easy.

Also, with the mobile client you can do this anywhere. Whenever you have a couple of minutes to check-up on Teams activity you can open the mobile client and do a quick scan. As a bonus tip, if there is a Channel post you need to revisit later, you can click on the settings for that post (again the “…” settings on the specific post), and mark it as unread. This will treat it as an unread entry in your notification feed. Likewise you can Save that post and access it in your Saved posts which is accessible with one-click from on your profile picture.

This blog post offered a few simple tips and a starting point. Really do spend a bit of time knowing what you can customize and play with the different settings – one or two settings can yield a huge pay off in productivity.

Tip–Muting the Audio in a Skype for Business Call

By Curtis Johnstone

I have talked to several people lately who have had the need to mute the audio coming from a Skype for Business meeting or web conference.  Not mute their microphone, but the speaker/headset audio stream from the conference.  They they are needing to listen to something else  – take another call, listen to music while they just watch the conference, or even trying to participate in two conference calls at the same time.

They have struggled in the Skype for Business 2016 client on how to control this, so I wanted to pass along a couple of tips.

The simplest option to just mute the incoming audio stream is using the volume controls on the call control icon in the client. As shown below, you can either fully mute the audio, or reduce the volume.


Another option is to use the “Hold” control on the same Call Controls (as shown with the ‘pause’ icon in the screen shot above). My web conferences are all VoIP audio, so many users do not realize they can put the audio stream "on hold", just like a regular phone call.  This is nice for momentary interruptions where you just need to pause the audio, do something, and then resume it.

Putting the call on-hold has some pros and cons. When you put the call on hold, a visual indicator updates in your participant entry which let’s other participants know that you have the call on hold and are not available right now, as shown here:


Another advantage is that you can a periodic ‘beep’ reminder that the call is on-hold, so that you know to return to it if you get disrupted or distracted.

A major disadvantage one reader pointed out is that a Skype for Business user can choose to configure their client to Play Music On Hold. Obviously this would be a major distraction for the rest of the participants if you put the call on hold because they would all hear music being played.  The is off by default (and can be disabled by an Administrator client policy), but if you have this enabled, do not put the call on hold.  The ‘play music on hold’ setting is in the Skype for Business ‘Ringtones and Sounds’ setting in the client as shown here:


Another useful feature in this scenario is the Devices button (next to the Hold).  You can use this to transfer the audio to another device (like a headset instead of an external speaker).

Wireless troubleshooting – mesh access points stop accepting clients

By amyengineer
Today’s topic initially spawned from mesh troubleshooting.  If you’ve worked with mesh much, you may have just thrown up a little and are frantically trying to close the browser tab that led you here, and that’s totally understandable.  For my voice engineer readers, mesh troubleshooting is one of the few things in the universe that […]

Major Update to the Remote UC Troubleshooting Tool (RUCT)

By Curtis Johnstone

Some said it wouldn’t happen.  Some said it couldn’t be done.  Well, it’s here :-)

After several years, I have made a major overhaul to the RUCT tool – a simple native Windows application to troubleshoot Skype for Business & Lync Sign-in, DNS, and Certificate issues.

With the release of several similar good free Microsoft tools over the past few years (such as the Microsoft Lync Connectivity Analyzer), I didn’t see the need to upgrade this tool. But after repeated requests it was obvious it was filling a need that other tools were not. During a recent Skype for Business hybrid implementation, I ended up going back to this tool myself. It was just the easiest way to query all the important DNS records externally and internally from any location, test that certain ports were open, and remotely retrieve the certificate information information on that port.

You can download the updated version here:

The new RUCT.exe has been digitally signed (with my personal certificate). This will make it easier and safer to run the tool, and be more friendly to spam and malware software (note: some browsers may still give a warning because it is not a ‘common’ download’).

The workflow and features of the tool are largely familiar, with the addition of a feature many folks have asked for over the years – the ability to specify which DNS server to use to resolve the DNS records as shown here:


If the DNS Server is left blank (or set to “<use client default>”), the tool will use the default the DNS server configured for the network settings on the primary NIC; otherwise it will use whatever hostname or IP address provided in the DNS server textbox.

I’ve found this really helpful working on Edge related configurations on an internal network. The tools gives me the internal DNS records by default, and then setting the DNS server to “” (Google’s public DNS servers) allows me to query the external records.

Here are all the New & Updates Features in this Version 3 Release (March 2017)

  • The ability to specify the DNS Server used to use to resolve the DNS records
  • The RUCT.exe is now signed (with my personal certificate)
  • Support for Skype for Business 2016 Client and x64 Build Client Version Detection for newer clients
  • Updated Skype and Lync Client Version Event Log and Logging Tracing Folder Launcher
  • Better support for new Windows clients such as Windows 10
  • Support for .NET Framework 4.5 or above
  • Added DNS records:
    • SfB online clients connecting to Office 365
    • More Edge server DNS records (i.e. webcon and av)
    • Autodiscovery records for newer SfB and Lync clients
  • XMPP records

Here is an updated screenshot:


I was re-inspired after updating this tool. I forgot how much I enjoyed working with C#/.NET in Visual Studio.  Visual Studio 2015 has evolved nicely – working with .NET is very slick and it’s easy to get things done.

So, if you have any feature requests add them as comments to this post, I might just add them in. I would like to rebuild the tool with PowerShell underneath so that many other diagnostics and information gathering can be done for SfB on-premises and online.

Thanks for being patient.  If you do find any bugs, please add a comment.

DNS Records in a Skype for Business Hybrid Deployment

By Curtis Johnstone

The DNS records for a Skype for Business (SfB) on-premises deployment can be somewhat complex, but are well documented (see Microsoft TechNet – DNS requirements for Skype for Business).  While working on a recent hybrid Skype for Business (SfB) deployment, I realized there is a lot of confusion. This was a classic hybrid deployment – some SfB servers and users on-premises, and some in SfB Online sharing one DNS namespace. This article aims to clear up some of this confusion.

The unique question that comes up in hybrid is where should I point my DNS records for clients to logon?  On-premises or online?

The general golden rule in a SfB hybrid environment is:

All Skype for Business external DNS records should point to the on-premises infrastructure.

This is a bit hidden but documented here in this TechNet article Plan hybrid connectivity between Skype for Business Server and Skype for Business Online.

A source of this confusion usually happens when client logins do not work for Skype for Business Online (SfBO) users in a hybrid deployment. Several Microsoft sources citing SfB Online client login issues and that DNS records should point to Office 365:

NOTE – both of these resources are meant for pure Skype for Business Online deployments in Office 365, NOT for hybrid.

For hybrid deployment the client autodiscover login DNS records should point to the on-premises deployment.  The TechNet documentation is quite clear on this requirement “In a hybrid deployment that has an on-premises Lync Server deployment and Skype for Business Online, the DNS records for Lync Autodiscover must be pointed to the on-premises Lync server”.

When a Skype for Business Online user attempts to sign-in, the on-premises SfB server will go through a process of being redirected multiple times until they reach their final home server in the Skype for Business Online topology. This process is well documented in the bottom half of this Microsoft Support article: Users can’t sign in to Skype for Business Online in a hybrid deployment of Lync Server 2013.

For hybrid deployment, here is a convenient summary of the external DNS records and where they should point to on-premises:

(Note: this example uses the domain

DNS RECORD RECORD TYPE WHERE IT SHOULD RESOLVE TO PORT A Public IP of Access Edge n/a SRV External on-premises Access Edge Interface ( 443 SRV External on-premises Access Edge Interface ( 5061 A Public IP of Access Edge n/a A Public IP of Access Edge n/a

But What about the CNAME records I read about Required for Office 365 Users?

Again, this is part of the confusion as this only applies to pure SfB online deployments.  In this case, you will want the following two DNS records, but NOT FOR HYBRID:

> A DNS CNAME record for which points to

> A DNS CNAME record for which points to

If you add these external DNS records, external client login will break for the SfB on-premises users.  They will receive this error:


For the internal DNS records, these are the same as the internal DNS records for a non-hybrid on-premises Skype for Business Deployment (which you can find here) so I won’t repeat them, but I will point out one exception:

> An DNS A record for which resolves to the IP address of the internal interface of Edge server

DNS and Using PowerShell with the Skype for Business Module in a Hybrid Environment

Now, to further confuse things, the Skype for Business Online PowerShell module relies on the DNS CNAME record for pure online deployments to connect with PowerShell. This record:

A DNS CNAME record for which points to

Because this record is not used in a SfB / Lync hybrid deployment, the Remote PowerShell connection will fail.

This is well documented with the work around, here:

Lync administrators can’t connect to Skype for Business Online Remote PowerShell in a Lync hybrid environment

The work around is to use an OverrideDomain property on with the default domain for your Office 365 tenant (i.e. the * domain that was included with the tenant subscription).

This is also documented here:

5 Tips to Improve Skype for Business Wi-Fi Performance

By Curtis Johnstone

This article offers 5 tips to increase overall performance for Skype for Business (Sfb) over Wi-Fi at home or a Public Hotspot. These tips were created from my own experiences at home and using Wi-Fi in different circumstances. 

Delivering a good SfB Wi-Fi experience in the enterprise is a much larger topic with more infrastructure and configuration options and recommendations. A good start here is Microsoft’s Guide “Ensuring an Enterprise Class Wireless Skype for Business Experience” which provides end to end planning, best practices, and proactive maintenance and operations to deliver enterprise grade Wireless Skype for Business service.

Here are the 5 tips I will discuss:

  1. Make Sure the Gas Tank Isn’t Empty
  2. Use a Dedicated 5 GHz Wireless Band if Possible
  3. Try a Different Wi-Fi Channel
  4. Consider Implementing Quality of Service (QoS)
  5. Still Having Issues … Ditch the Wi-Fi


Tip 1 – Make Sure the Gas Tank Isn’t Empty

Diagnosing and resolving Wi-Fi issues can be really challenging.  Ensuring these basic pre-requisites are met will greatly increase the chances of success:

  1. Keep Skype for Business Clients Up To Date.  This sounds like advice your mother would give you, but it really can help – especially with the SfB mobile clients. Update an Windows desktop clients in use to the latest-and-greatest via Windows Update.
  2. Ensure there is Adequate Network Connectivity from the Wireless Access Point (WAP) / Router to the Internet!  I’ve lost track on the number of times I was trying to diagnose a Wi-Fi issue, and it the real problem was a temporarily internet outage on the Internet Service Provider (ISP). The Windows Network Troubleshooting tool will usually identity whether it is a problem with the Internet connection, or to be sure, test connectivity from a wired device (pointing your browser to is an easy and convenient method to test the connectivity and download speed).
  3. Ensure you have Adequate Bandwidth. Support for real-time communications that use real-time media such as audio, video, conferencing require, above all, a consistent and reliable network stream to work well. Bandwidth is not the same as ‘stability’ (i.e. low latency and jitter), but when bandwidth is congested, network reliability will suffer.  The more bandwidth, the better. One often overlooked bandwidth requirement is upload (or uplink) bandwidth. It is often overlooked because many ISP’s offer a fraction of upload speed compared to download speed. Microsoft’s recommends a consistent 1.5 Mbps of consistent uplink bandwidth to support real time communications. In my experience, I can have good quality audio, video, & conferencing Skype sessions with as little as 800 Kbps but your mileage may vary.
  4. Use a Good Quality Network Interface Card (NIC) and Wi-Fi Router.
    • Most Wireless NIC’s shipped with desktops and laptops in the last 3-4 years have an adequate NIC. However performance and stability differ between.
      • If Wi-Fi issues occur on multiple Wi-Fi networks (e.g. your neighbourhood coffee shop, work, and your friends Wi-Fi network), take a look at your NIC, and make sure it has the latest drivers installed.
      • Performance – newer cards supporting the 802.11n with multiple antenna support typically offer the best performance (Intel has a good article here explaining this Multiple-Input Multiple-Output technology).
    • For your Wireless Access Point (WAP) / Router, I highly recommend newer models that support dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz).  They are engineered to support many devices connected at once.  If you add up all the Wi-Fi enabled devices in your home, you will likely be very surprised at just home many there are.  Using a router which supports the new 802.11n and 802.11ac standards will generally give much more network throughput than the older 802.11a and 802.11g.
  5. Consider Bluetooth Device Interference.  In theory Bluetooth devices can interfere with Wi-Fi communications. I have a wireless mouse and keyboard and have not really noticed a difference, but this is something to consider if you have many Bluetooth devices.


Tip 2 – Use a Dedicated 5 GHz Wireless Band if Possible

Many routers are multi-purpose devices (acting as wireless access points (WAP) for a variety of devices, DHCP servers, and firewalls).  Worse, as a WAP, most run with one ‘network’ (SSID) that all devices (smart phones, tablets, TV’s, etc..) connect to. In this scenario, the real-time voice and video traffic Skype for Business uses is competing with, and prioritized the same as, the Netflix cartoon your children are watching and the firmware your Smart TV is doing … among other things.

If the router supports ‘dual band’, that means it can support essentially two separate wireless networks simultaneously on different Radio Frequency (RF) bands.  The two bands are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

To help real-time applications perform well, it can make a big difference to dedicate one wireless network (SSID) to devices running real-time applications and move all the other devices to the other 2.4 GHz wireless band.

The 5 GHz band is preferred because it offers less interference with other consumer products such as cordless phones. The trade-off is the 5 GHz band usually has less range than the 2.4 GHz range. Your range however will depend greatly on the location of the router and the device connecting to it. Having a clear-line-of-site from the client to the WAP will increase the range.

What about wireless range extenders?

Many people consider adding a wireless range extender – especially if their work area typically does not have clear-line-of-sight to the WAP. Generally this will not help for real-time media because these extenders increase network latency and jitter. I have had good results with an extender that plug’s into a power wall socket and uses Ethernet over Power to get to the WAP / Router. Bottom line though, you are probably relocating your router, or investing in a better one with better antenna range.

What about adding a second dedicate router?

This might seem like overkill, but it seemed like a good idea to me!  With a growing number of Wi-Fi enabled devices in my house, I added a newer second Wi-Fi router capable of better handling simultaneous connections and the latest 802.11 standards to combat my intermittent poor voice performance and dropped connections – mostly on my laptop running Windows 10 and the Windows version of Skype for Business.  The result?  It did not help, and the performance actually got worse!

This is when I started to learn about 802.11 channel congestion… which is the perfect segue into the next Tip.


Tip 3 – Try a Different Wi-Fi Channel

After my unexpected two router results, I had learned about the “802.11 Channel 6 Congestion” issue, and made some simple changes that helped my Wi-Fi experience.

802.11 Router Basics

As perviously discussed many home routers operate on one or two bands or frequencies – 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Each band is further segmented into channels – 11 narrow radio frequency channels.  When devices communicate with the router, they use whatever channel is set on the router.  If many devices (a close neighbours WiFI devices, cordless phones, etc…) use the same channel, this will likely result in congestion in that frequency – and that means trouble for your WiFi.

Wi-Fi devices bought in North America ship with a default of Channel 6 – increasing the likelihood of congestion unless you change it.

802.11 signals are designed to partially overlap – the spectrum of one channel will overlap a bit with another channel, but the further away your channel is from what is being used around you, the better throughput and performance you will have.

If you are on channel 6, one simple change is to try channel 1 or 11 – these are far away from the de-facto channel 6 specturm. However many people have started to use 1 and 11, and some devices by default use this, so you should try a couple of different ones. The change is easy to make on your router (consult your router documentation).

Another approach which is more involved is to scan the wireless environment around you using a third-party or open source application. This will show you exactly how congested each of the channels are.

I settled on using channel 8 on a dedicated 5 GHz band and had much improved performance.

Some WAPs / routers support automatic channel selection (ACS) which will in-theory auto-select a new channel when it detects RF interference. In my experience, enabling ACS has not made a difference, and I question the impact on real-time media sessions while my router attempts to switch channels.  I prefer a dedicated static channel.

There are many third party Wi-Fi application (for Windows clients) which scan and analyze your Wi-Fi networks to show which channels are in use, and the interference levels. I’ll be updating this blog entry with some of them shortly.


Tip 4 – Consider Implementing Custom QoS

In a nutshell, Quality of Service (QoS), is a network tagging methods which allows certain types of traffic to me tagged and treated as priority on the network. In practice, real-time media requirements for more important applications (such as voice and video application like SfB) can be tagged a higher priority over entertainment applications such as NetFlix.

Implementing QoS on a home router is likely beyond the expertise of many users, but highly recommended for those who use Skype for Business a lot from home (e.g. home workers).  It will make your life better!  Watch for a future blog article on how to do this.


Tip 5 – Still Having Issues … Ditch the Wi-Fi

Getting to the root cause of Wi-Fi issues can be frustrating and time-consuming. If you are still experiencing issues, and rely on good consistent networking for your daily activities, another option is to ditch the Wi-Fi at home all-together!  This might seem inconvenient and sliding down the evolutionary technology chain, but new wired options such as Ethernet over Power adapters make it very easy to add wired capabilities to almost anywhere in your home. I’ve had very good experiences with NETGEAR Powerline products.


Got a Wi-Fi tip for Skype (or any voice and video application) you want to share?  Please do!


Resources & More Information

Easily check your Download Speed in any Browser with (Powered By NetFlix)

Microsoft TechNet – Ensuring an Enterprise Class Wireless Skype for Business Experience

Microsoft TechNet – Planning for Optimal Skype for Business Experience over Wi-Fi

Microsoft Download – Delivering Lync 2013 Real-Time Communications over Wi-Fi

Microsoft TechNet – Plan network requirements for Skype for Business 2015

Five Productivity Tips to get the most from Skype for Business

By Curtis Johnstone

As a daily user of Skype for Business and someone who specializes in it, I often see other users struggle with some relatively common usage scenario’s in the client. This blog entry describes 5 productivity tips that will increase the productivity of Skype for Business users in specific situations.

1) Easily Start a Group Conversation from an Outlook Meeting

I frequently see the need for this and it is a real productivity booster. Many times users are participating in a meeting from their Outlook calendar which does not have a corresponding Skype for Business (SfB) meeting or conference.  Typically these meetings have a mix of internal and external participants with an external audio bridge, or other non-SfB conferencing solution.

Inevitably the needs arises during the meeting to collaborate – a group IM chat, a desktop share, or sharing a PowerPoint presentation.

A very effective way to instantly start collaborating with all meeting participants in Skype for Business is to:

  1. Open the Outlook Meeting
  2. Go to the Meeting tab
  3. If you are the meeting Organizer –select the Contact Attendees option (click on the icon), and select Reply All with an IM
  4. If you are a meeting Participant – select the Respond option (click on the icon), and select Reply All with an IM

This seldom used option instantly starts a Skype for Business group conversation with all Outlook meeting participants. All the people on the call can now chat, add audio, share their Desktop, or share a PowerPoint presentation. If an external participant (outside of the company hosting the SfB conference) does not have Skype for Business, you might have to send them the URL for the meeting and they can join via a web browser.

The screen shots which illustrate this capability are here:

If you are a Meeting Organizer


If you are a Meeting Participant


2) Transfer a Call from a Mobile Client to your Desktop

Many times users want to know how to keep a call going when they are participating in a Skype for Business session on their mobile client (i.e. using the SfB client on an Windows Mobile / iPhone / Android device) after they have reached their desk.

In these scenarios the call can be transferred from the SfB Mobile client to the SfB Desktop client by doing the following:

  • While in a call on the SfB mobile client, select the “…” circle icon to bring up additional options
  • Select yourself in the SfB client mobile address book
  • Select “Transfer Call” and then “Skype for Business call
  • The call should now ring the SfB Desktop client where it can be answered and the mobile session can be disconnected

An example of the call transfer process is shown here:

Blog Entry Call Transfer

3) Change Devices During a Call

Having multiple audio and video devices is becoming the norm for most users.  Many times users will join into a SfB web conference with audio and video, and the client is using an different audio device then the one they want (e.g. a speakerphone instead of a USB headset).

Most users know of the “Select your Primary Device” shortcut setting in the bottom left-hand corner of the SfB client, but users often forget that this device selection feature can be used mid-call. So if you join a SfB session with a device you do not want to use, it can be changed on the fly. The client device shortcut is shown here:


Note: when an incoming call is ringing the SfB client, the device cannot be changed; it must first be answered.

During a SfB voice call, the dial-pad contains an obvious Devices icon which allows users to easily switch devices as shown here:


4) Use Shortcut Keys for Common Tasks

Like most Microsoft client software solutions, the Skype for Business (SfB) client has several well document keyboard shortcuts. One of the best references is available here:

Keyboard shortcuts for Skype for Business

Keyboard shortcuts are most useful for frequently used actions, or features that require multiple clicks. Here is a list of my useful favourites that not many users know of:

Windows logo key+F4

Mute Yourself (On/Off).  Useful for quickly toggling your mute setting during a call.


With a Contact selected, use Alt+Enter to open the contact card.


Quickly start a new ad-hoc Meeting (i.e. “Meet Now”)


Pop-out the Gallery / Pop-in the Gallery during a web conference.


5) Use the Address Book instead of the Contact List

This is possibly the simplest tip, but one that alludes even experienced users of the Lync & SfB clients.

Users, including myself, get into a habit of adding people that you communicate with even when these are contacts not commonly used.

Few users are disciplined enough to categorize their contacts into Skype for Business Groups that meet their work habits, so the contact list ends up diluted with a lot of contacts – many of which are rarely used.  This is a typically a productivity drain because whether users realize it or not, they spend extra time sifting through their huge contact list trying to locate the people they communicate with most frequently.

A simple way to solve this is to make ample use of the built-in SfB Address Book, and save the Contact List only for contacts that you frequently communicate with (or need to know the Presence Status of).

This takes some getting used to – but after doing it for awhile the benefits of simply typing a name into the Address Book search bar will make you more productive.

Cisco IPSEC VPN Client for Windows 10 – Painful Experience

By ben

As most of you know the Cisco IPSEC VPN Client is not officially supported on Windows 8+. I have Window 10, now that puts me in the not so friendly basket. After googling this, there a raft of blogs and websites advising you to install additional components and modify registry settings.. Not all of which are proven. I finally found a sequence that worked for me.. AND successfully connected to customer sites.

First thing is to get around this virtual adapter filter thing that doesn’t get installed with Windows 10.. The SonicWall VPN Client however does install the ‘DNE Lightweight filter network client’. Beautiful.. Job done.

Link to Sonicwall website for vpn client.

If the above link is not available and you cannot find it anyway.. Ping me and I’ll email it to you.

Right. Lets install the Cisco IPSEC VPN Client now.. No wait another error.. ‘This software doesn’t support Windows 10′, great. To get around this one.. Extract the install files and manually run the .msi file. Job done.

Now the client is installed and we are away and running.. Try to connect to a customer site and low and behold another error.. ‘Secure VPN Connection terminated locally by the client. Reason 442: Failed to enable Virtual Adapter.’ we are getting closer though right?

Here comes the infamous registry change.. Now I’ll add the general blurb that everyone would say… ‘Backup your registry settings in case you absolutely blunder this change’. Now lets get started.

Open registry and go to HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\CVirtA look for the key ‘Display Name’. We want to modify this key from something like this ‘@oem47.inf,%CVirtA_Desc%;Cisco Systems VPN Adapter for 64-bit Windows‘ to ‘Cisco Systems VPN Adapter for 64-bit Windows‘ (screen shot below of change).

Cisco IPSEC VPN Client

Now open the VPN Client again and try connecting to a customer site.. Whola! Job is now done. Thanks Internet.

Find out how many users are logged into Jabber

In order to find out how many people are logged into Jabber  at any given time, issue the following command on your Cisco Presence server.

admin: show perf query counter "Cisco XCP CM" "CmConnectedSockets"

output example:

 - Perf class Cisco XCP CM(CmConnectedSockets) has values:
                    -> CmConnectedSockets             = 373

Persistent Chat with Multiple Front-End Sites and Pools

By Curtis Johnstone

A quick post about a misleading error you might experience in a Lync Server 2013 topology with one Persistent Chat Pool servicing multiple sites and front-end pools. Using one Persistent Chat (PS) pool for multiple sites or pools is a supported Topology configuration, but the errors outlined in this blog post are triggered after deploying Persistent Chat, or a new Lync Site using an existing PS Pool, and forgetting to set a Persistent Chat Site or Pool policy. I assume this experience is the same with Skype for Business Server, but I have not verified that.

Forgetting to set the Persistent Chat Policy can be tricky because to the end-user, the Persistent Chat functionality will show up as available in the client, but an erroneous error message will be shown that says “Your chat room access may be limited due to an outage” as shown in the screen shot below:


When a user attempt to enter a Persistent Chat room, they will receive this error:


From an Administrative point of view this can be easily overlooked because the bulk of the PS chat configuration is done in the Topology Builder. However, there is a group of PS Chat administrative settings in the Lync Control Panel (and also available through Lync cmdlets) that should be configured during your deployment.  Specifically pay attention to the “Persistent Chat Policy” tab on the Lync Control Panel. Users must be enabled for Persistent Chat either Globally or with specific policies for each site or pool. Many deployments do not enable Persistent Chat globally, so a PS Chat policy per site which PS Chat enabled is required.


Another aspect that can get overlooked by Administrators is that if the Persistent Chat policy set on Lync user accounts is set to “Automatic” – the default – Lync will use the most granular PS Chat policy that applies, which will be a Pool or Site specific policy (if one exists).  If this is the case and a Lync user account is moved from a site or pool with PS Chat enabled to a site or pool with no PS Chat policy defined, they will get the errors shown in the first two screen shots above.

Skype for Business Mobile Client Preview Release

By Curtis Johnstone

For those of you not active on Twitter :-) , details of the Skype for Business mobile client were announced today, along with an associated preview program here: Both Skype for Business online and on-premises (Lync and Skype) can sign-up for the preview program if the mobile features are deployed today. To participate, either an IT administrator or tenant administrator nominates 4 of their end-users here:

Each participate is identified by name with their device type and OS version, and individual instructions are sent to them to participate.

In addition to the details in the Microsoft Office blog post, are are some details to clarify common questions:

  1. The Skype for Business mobile client replaces (upgrades) the Lync 2013 mobile app on iOS and Android when the end-user upgrades the app from the store.
  2. The Skype for Business mobile client will work against a Lync 2013 Server, but not a Lync 2010 Server.
  3. The Lync 2010 mobile client will be a separate mobile client and will be kept and maintained separately.
  4. Windows Phone users can already download the Skype for Business Windows Phone App here:

The new mobile client follows the same new streamlined UI and workflow theme of the thick client.  Looking forward to giving it a whirl!

Skype For Business Preview

By Christian Renaux
La pré version du client Skype For Business est disponible depuis le début de la semaine.

Pour en savoir plus concernant les évolutions par rapport à Lync 2013 

Pour la télécharger:


How To Stop Lync From Chiming In So Much

By Curtis Johnstone

[This is a guest blog post authored by Microsoft PowerShell MVP and expert Kirk Munro. You can reach Kirk through his blog at or through his Twitter handle @poshoholic].

I am often invited into Lync meetings that I want to passively watch and/or listen to on a second screen while I continue doing other work on my main monitor. Unfortunately, whenever I switch the active application away from the Lync client during these meetings, Lync plays the IM notification chime every time someone else in the meeting sends out an IM to the meeting attendees. On some of these meetings, which have dozens of attendees, there is a lot of IM chatter and these chimes can be very annoying. A portion of the meeting I was passively tuned into last night went something like this:

> “DING! All hotels DING! offer DING! free wi-fi DING! access DING! DING! except DING!…”

I was feeling a little like Captain Hook with a whole lot of clocks ticking nearby. Clearly, something had to be done.

The first step was to verify that I had the correct option set in my Lync options. In the Lync 2013 client, if you open the Options dialog (either by selecting Tools | Options from the menu or by simply clicking on your Lync photo) you will see a section labeled “Ringtones and Sounds”. This section contains the following options:


There are two applicable settings in the options screen shot above:

  1. Play sounds in Lync (including ringtones for incoming calls and IM alerts)”.  This is a master kill switch for all sounds in Lync aside from the audio streams. That would do the trick, however it is overkill, and I want to be able to hear incoming calls or new IM request alerts when I am just passively listening in.
  2. Mute incoming IM alert sounds when viewing an IM conversation”.  IM alert sounds are the sounds that I want to disable, so that sounds promising. When enabled however (by default) I still hear the IM alert sounds when the IM conversation window is open. That happens because “viewing an IM conversation” (the last portion of that option label) means this is only applicable when actively viewing a conversation, with the Lync meeting window having focus. If you switch the focus away from the Lync meeting window, you’ll start hearing IM alert sounds whenever anyone sends a message to the IM chat. As I hinted at with my earlier example of a meeting last night with ~100 attendees there can be a lot of chatter (DING! …. DING! … DING!) in the IM window, and the repeated IM alert sounds are very distracting (read: incapacitating) when trying to concentrate on getting something else done while simply keeping an ear open to the meeting discussion.

Neither of these options resolved my problem so I searched for and found a better solution which is fairly simple.

While the Lync options dialog is open, open the Sound setting on your Windows client machine. This dialog should be shown:


Within that dialog, scroll down the Program Events list until you find the events for Lync. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you see the Lync section header (the selected item in the screenshot shown above). Continue scrolling down in that section until you find the entry called “New Message” and select it. This entry is set to the “LYNC_newim.wav” sound by default (the DING!). Use the Sounds combo box on that dialog to change the sound from the default value to “(None)” (which can be found at the top of the list of values in the combo box). Then click on the OK button to close the sound settings, and then on the other OK button to close the Lync options dialog.

Once you have made these changes, you should be able to passively listen-in on Lync meetings that don’t need your full attention without being distracted/annoyed by the incessant beep if the IM chatter gets noisy. Boy do I ever wish I had discovered this option a long, long time ago.

Important: I should point out that making this change means that you won’t hear an IM alert if you have a chat window open in the background and someone adds a message to that chat. The chat window icon in your taskbar will still be highlighted with a flashing Lync icon when a new IM message is received, but I know that some people want the sound notification as well. You’ll have to decide if that trade-off is worth it. Personally, I can definitely live with it! :-)

Kirk out.

Can Lync fly?

By LuisR
This was a proof-of-concept that I made quiet a time ago (may 2013). I was hoping to perform it again with more data and images, but never got the right time :( With all the new features of Lync 2013 (mobile devices), one of my curious questions was: can I make a video call using Lync […]

Reading Cisco jabber logs : A glimpse into the inner workings of Cisco Jabber for windows when exchanging chat messages via Cisco IM and Presence server

By Maxwell
This is another attempt to share what I’ve researched in my personal time with other Engineers simply because  I have benefited  a lot  from reading  other people’s blogs also.  My  hope is that this post is useful to someone out there. Not too long ago, I wrote a post about  the boot process of Cisco […]