Outlook Calendar Tips for Remote Teams

As mentioned in my last blog post A New Role with Microsoft Graph Team, I mentioned I am joining the Microsoft Graph team. One of the nice aspects of our team is that we are diverse and globally dispersed. With the different time zones that our team all reside in I thought it would be helpful to review a few of my calendar settings in Outlook desktop and Outlook on the Web to help with scheduling meetings or calls.

Working / Meeting Hours

Set your working / meeting days and hours so that teammates will know when you are generally available for scheduled meetings or calls. Personally, I wake up early most days and hence my start of the day is likely earlier than some others.

Outlook desktop: File -> Options -> Calendar -> Work time

Outlook calendar settings for working hours

Outlook on the Web: Settings -> Calendar -> View -> Meeting hours

Outlook on the Web calendar settings for meeting hours

Time Zones

Since my team is all over the world, it is important to be aware of time zones for scheduling meetings. In Outlook desktop it is possible to set your primary time zone and display 2 additional time zones. In the following screenshot I have set Eastern Time (US & Canada) as my primary time zone with additional time zones for Pacific Time (US & Canada) and East Africa Time (Nairobi). I have purposely kept the labels short so that they fit easily in the display on calendar views.

Outlook desktop: File -> Options -> Calendar -> Time zones

I have only been able to add a single time zone in Outlook on the Web. If someone knows a way to add multiple please let me know in the comments or contact me.

Outlook on the Web: Settings -> Calendar -> Language and time

End Meetings Early

Whether you are hosting a meeting in-person or online there are many reasons you may want to end your meeting early including:

  • Allow attendees time to walk to their next meeting room
  • Encourage attendees to wrap up their meeting without overlapping the following time block
  • Give attendees time for a mental break / chance to use the restroom in between meetings
  • …and more

Outlook desktop: File -> Options -> Calendar -> Calendar options

Outlook on the Web: Settings -> Calendar -> Events and invitations -> End appointments and meetings early

Share Free / Busy Times

In addition to setting your working / meeting hours, you can also come to show your free / busy times (and more) with other people.

Outlook desktop: File -> Options -> Calendar -> Calendar options -> Free/Busy Options

By default you may see that all users in your organization are able to see your free / busy times. You can adjust permission levels to show more details or add / remove additional people to have access to view your calendar.

Outlook on the Web: Settings -> Calendar -> Shared calendars

Publish Calendar

Aside from showing your free / busy times to people internal to your organization, sometimes you may want to publish your calendar to people external to your organization. Currently I have found this easiest to do through Outlook on the Web.

Outlook on the Web: Settings -> Calendar Shared calendars -> Publish a calendar

After you publish your desired calendar you can provide people with either an HTML (render in browser) or ICS (universal calendar file format) link.

Conclusion

In this post I walked through a number of calendar settings and preferences on my Outlook desktop and Outlook on the Web client. I hope this helps you to think of the diverse and global audience that you may be working with currently or in the future. If you have any additional tips you recommend please share them in the comments.

-Frog Out

Get Exchange Online Mailbox Size in GB

   As mentioned in my previous post I was recently working with a customer to get started with Exchange Online PowerShell commandlets.  In this post I wanted to follow up and show one example of a difference in output from commandlets in Exchange 2010 on-premises vs. Exchange Online.

 

Problem

   The customer was interested in getting the size of mailboxes in GB.  For Exchange on-premises this is fairly easy.  A fellow PFE Gary Siepser wrote an article explaining how to accomplish this (click here).  Note that Gary’s script will not work when remoting from a local machine that doesn’t have the Exchange object model installed.  A similar type of scenario exists if you are executing PowerShell against Exchange Online.  The data type for TotalItemSize  being returned (ByteQuantifiedSize) exists in the Exchange namespace.  If the PowerShell session doesn’t have access to that namespace (or hasn’t loaded it) PowerShell works with an approximation of that data type.

   The customer found a sample script on this TechNet article that they attempted to use (minor edits by me to fit on page and remove references to deleted item size.)

 

Get-Mailbox -ResultSize Unlimited |
   Get-MailboxStatistics |
   Select DisplayName,StorageLimitStatus, `
   @{name="TotalItemSize (MB)"; expression={[math]::Round( `
   ($_.TotalItemSize.Split("(")[1].Split(" ")[0].Replace(",","")/1MB),2)}}, `
   ItemCount |
   Sort "TotalItemSize (MB)" -Descending |
   Export-CSV "C:My DocumentsAll Mailboxes.csv" -NoTypeInformation

 

  The script is targeted to Exchange 2010 but fails for Exchange Online.  In Exchange Online when referencing the TotalItemSize property though it does not have a Split method which ultimately causes the script to fail.

 

Solution

   A simple solution would be to add a call to the ToString method off of the TotalItemSize property (in bold on line 5 below).

 

Get-Mailbox -ResultSize Unlimited |
   Get-MailboxStatistics |
   Select DisplayName,StorageLimitStatus, `
   @{name="TotalItemSize (MB)"; expression={[math]::Round( `
   ($_.TotalItemSize.ToString().Split("(")[1].Split(" ")[0].Replace(",","")/1MB),2)}}, `
   ItemCount |
   Sort "TotalItemSize (MB)" -Descending |
   Export-CSV "C:My DocumentsAll Mailboxes.csv" -NoTypeInformation

 

   This fixes the script to run but the numerous string replacements and splits are an eye sore to me.  I attempted to simplify the string manipulation with a regular expression (more info on regular expressions in PowerShell click here).  The result is a workable script that does one nice feature of adding a new member to the mailbox statistics called TotalItemSizeInBytes.  With this member you can then convert into any byte level (KB, MB, GB, etc.) that suits your needs.  You can download the full version of this script below (includes commands to connect to Exchange Online session).

$UserMailboxStats = Get-Mailbox -RecipientTypeDetails UserMailbox `
   -ResultSize Unlimited |
   Get-MailboxStatistics
$UserMailboxStats |
   Add-Member -MemberType ScriptProperty -Name TotalItemSizeInBytes `
   -Value {$this.TotalItemSize -replace "(.*()|,| [a-z]*)", ""}
$UserMailboxStats |
   Select-Object DisplayName,@{Name="TotalItemSize (GB)"; `
   Expression={[math]::Round($_.TotalItemSizeInBytes/1GB,2)}}

 

Conclusion

   Moving from on-premises to the cloud with PowerShell (and PowerShell remoting in general) can sometimes present some new challenges due to what you have access to.  This means that you must always test your code / scripts.  I still believe that not having to physically RDP to a server is a huge gain over some of the small hurdles you may encounter during the transition.  Scripting is the future of administration and makes you more valuable.  Hopefully this script and the concepts presented help you be a better admin / developer.

 

      -Frog Out

 

 

Links

The Get-MailboxStatistics Cmdlet, the TotalitemSize Property, and that pesky little “b”

http://blogs.technet.com/b/gary/archive/2010/02/20/the-get-mailboxstatistics-cmdlet-the-totalitemsize-property-and-that-pesky-little-b.aspx

 

View Mailbox Sizes and Mailbox Quotas Using Windows PowerShell

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/exchangelabshelp/gg576861#ViewAllMailboxes

 

Regular Expressions with Windows PowerShell

http://www.regular-expressions.info/powershell.html

 

“I don’t always test my code…” image

http://blogs.pinkelephant.com/images/uploads/conferences/I-dont-always-test-my-code-But-when-I-do-I-do-it-in-production.jpg

 

The One Thing: Brian Jackett and SharePoint 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sg_h66HMP9o

Links for Getting Started with PowerShell for Office 365 and Exchange Online

   This past week I worked with some customers who were getting started with using PowerShell against Exchange Online as part of their new Office 365 solution.  As you may know Exchange is not my primary focus area but since these customers’ needs centered around PowerShell I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn more.  What soon became apparent to me was a few things:

  • The output / objects returned from Exchange Online vs. on-premises commandlets sometimes differ (mainly due to Exchange Online output needing to be serialized across the wire)
  • Some of the community scripts posted on TechNet Script Center or PoSH Code Repository that work for on-premises won’t work against Exchange Online due to the above
  • I went to multiple resources to get an introduction of using the Exchange Online commandlets

 

   In light of the last item I would like to share some resources I gathered for getting started with the Exchange Online commandlets.  I will address the first two items in a follow up post that shows one sample script that I helped a customer fix.

 

Links

Using PowerShell with Office365

http://blah.winsmarts.com/2011-4-Using_PowerShell_with_Office365.aspx

 

Administering Microsoft Office 365 using WIndows PowerShell

http://blog.powershell.no/2011/05/09/administering-microsoft-office-365-using-windows-powershell/

 

Reference to Available PowerShell Cmdlets in Exchange Online

http://help.outlook.com/en-us/140/dd575549.aspx

 

Windows PowerShell cmdlets for Office 365

http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/office365-enterprises/hh125002.aspx

 

Role Based Access Control in Exchange Online

http://help.outlook.com/en-us/140/dd207274.aspx

 

Exchange Online and RBAC

http://blogs.technet.com/b/ilvancri/archive/2011/05/16/exchange-online-office365-and-rbac.aspx

 

Conclusion

   Office 365 is being integrated into more and more customers’ environments.  While your PowerShell skills can still be used to manage certain portions of Office 365 (Exchange Online as of the time of this writing) there are a few differences in how data is passed back and forth.  Hopefully the links above will get you started on scripting against  cloud based services.

 

      -Frog Out