Recently I was setting up a new phone number queue in Microsoft Teams. As part of this, I was trying to set up a new phone number for the queue. The problem was that every time I tried the Microsoft Teams admin page said that I didn’t have any available phone numbers even though I knew for a fact that I had a phone number current available and set up as a service phone number.
The solution to this was to use the PowerShell cmdlet Set-CsOnlineVoiceApplicationInstance to update the Resource Account with the correct phone number. The problem was that everything online said to connect to SkypeOnline with PowerShell, but nothing every said what needed to get that done. (Yes, this cmdlet is from Skype for Business not Teams, even though this is being done through Teams.)
I was eventually able to piece together what needed to be done.
Skype For Business cmdlet modules aren’t available through install-module. They need to be downloaded and installed from the Microsoft Website.
After the installer is run, open a new PowerShell window in Admin mode.
From there use PowerShell to authenticate and connect to SkypeOnline.
If you don’t have MFA configured use the following PowerShell code.
Now keep in mind that I’m using a US Phone number here, hence the +1. If you are in another country your country code will be different. Whatever the phone number that you have available as a service phone number is the phone number that you enter here.
Once this cmdlet was done the phone number listed was allocated to the resource account, and the phone number was setup and ready to go.
We don’t talk about inclusive design nearly enough in the Power BI community. I was trying to recall the last time I saw a demo report (from Microsoft or the community) that looked like consideration was made for basic accessibility, and… it’s a pretty rare occurrence.
Part of the reason for this might be that accessibility was added into Power BI after the fact, with keyboard accessible visual interactions being added in 2019 as one of the last big accessibility improvements. But I think the more likely reasons are that inclusive design requires empathy and understanding of how to build reports for people who work differently than ourselves, and Power BI accessibility features take time and effort to implement. While we can never make our reports 100% accessible for everyone, that doesn’t mean we should just not try for anyone.
In order to start designing more inclusively, we need to increase conversation around accessibility requirements and standards for our reports. I fully understand that it can feel tedious or confusing as you get started. I hope that as Power BI matures, the accessibility features will mature as well to make it even easier to create a more accessible report by default. For now, the only way to make accessible Power BI report design easier for report creators is for us to start forming accessible design habits and to offer feedback to the Power BI team along the way.
My Accessible Report Design Proposal
This is what I would like to see from report creators in the community as well as within Microsoft. I’ll define what I mean by accessible report design in the next section.
Before publishing a report, implement accessible design techniques as thoroughly as possible.
For demonstrations of report design/UI techniques where you are providing a finished product at the end, implement accessible design techniques as thoroughly as possible.
For demonstrations of things that are not inherently visual, implement bare minimum accessibility or add a disclaimer to the report. Example: “Here’s a cool DAX technique that I just threw into a quick table or bar chart to show you the results. It hasn’t been cleaned up and made accessible (alt text, color contrast, etc.), but I would do that before publishing.”
For demonstrations of report design/UI techniques where you show only part of the process, implement bare minimum accessibility or add a disclaimer to the report. Example: “This is the part of the report creation process about creating bookmarks, and before I publish to an audience, I want to make sure I’m following good design practices including accessibility.”
Power BI Report Accessibility
I have a full list of things to check here. That is the checklist that I use to ensure my report designs are generally accessible, when I have no specific compliance requirements or knowledge or any specific disabilities that need to be accommodated. In my opinion, this is what we should be doing in all of our reports because we want everyone in our intended audience to be able use our reports. You’ll find a very similar checklist on Microsoft Docs.
If you need to start smaller, you can go with my bare minimum accessibility and work your way up to the full list.
Bare Minimum Accessibility
This is the short list of the most impactful (according to me) accessibility changes you can make in your report. Use this because you have to start somewhere, but realize there is more we should be doing.
Ensure text and visual components have sufficient color contrast
Use descriptive, purposeful chart titles
Avoid using color as the only means of conveying information
Set tab order on all visuals in each page
Remove unnecessary jargon and acronyms from all charts
Give It a Try
I just learned that the Power BI Community Featured Data Stories Gallery theme for September is Accessibility. So here’s your chance to win a free t-shirt and internet bragging rights by showing off your accessible design skills. You need to submit your report to the Data Stories Gallery by September 30th in order for your submission to be considered. But a well designed, accessible Power BI report added to the gallery is appreciated any time of year!
SQL Server Agent is probably one of the least loved, but most used components in Microsoft SQL Server today.
As applications go it hasn’t really gotten any sort of upgrade in probably 20 years, at least I can’t really think of any changes since SQL 2005 was released, maybe even SQL 2000. And that does show just how solid it really is.
The SQL Server Agent just sits there and does its job without any real love or attention. That really is a testament to the work that was done on the SQL Server Agent back in the day that nothing has really needed to be done to it in the last 15-20 years. So for this I say, “Well done Product Team, well done”.
It can be used for job scheduling, alert notification when resources utilization is high, etc.
I’ve written a couple of recent posts that were extremely critical of PASS and more so C&C which is the company that manages PASS. Someone who read my last post pointed out that I probably didn’t emphasize the budget numbers I talked about enough. So let’s talk about that. I grabbed the most recent PASS financial data which was published in March 2020.
Cash on Hand (effective)
Summit Revenue Projections
This is a challenge, because obviously I don’t have the actual costs for PASS is spending per attendee for virtual summit. Many years ago, my rough understanding of Summit cost per attendee was that it was $400. So, for the purposes of my math, I’m going to estimate that virtual summit will cost $100/attendee (I suspect the actual cost is closer to $250 given that is what chapter leaders are being charged. Per the June, meeting minutes C&C has agreed to reduce their expenses by $500,000. It’s not clear where that comes in, but let’s just say that drops non-Summit expenses to $2.7MM.
If we have 2000 attendees of virtual PASS Summit in 2020 which I think may be generous estimate, all paying for the whole conference.
Cash on Hand (effective)
If we have 1000 attendees doing the All in One Bundle and 500 attendees doing the 3 day conference.
Cash on Hand (effective)
Given my experience and the current economy, I think my above projections are fairly optimistic. Let’s say my cost projections of $100 per person are too low, and the costs are $250 per person. Also, let’s say only 500 people sign up for the full conference and 500 register for the three day conference.
Cash on Hand (effective)
PASS doesn’t officially release attendance numbers, they say that 4000 people attended PASS Summit last year, which sounds really great. However, conference math is a factor here—many conferences count precons separate from the individual conference attendance. If you attended two precons, and the conference you would count as three conference attendees. In a best-case scenario where you had 4000 attendees, top line revenue would still drop by $3.5 million (or 54%) and fixed operating expenses are only down $500k (or 16%). That is as they say in business school is an untenable situation.
This is just focusing on the short term—2021 will face similar challenges. It is very possible that by November 2021, in-person conferences will be back (this assumes a vaccine in place, but Goldman Sachs does, and I trust them when it comes to money). However, I don’t see attendance quickly returning to pre-pandemic levels until 2022 or 2023, which means PASS will likely continue dipping into its cash on hand until reaching bankruptcy.
Sure, PASS Pro is a second potential revenue source, but it faces many challenges in getting of the ground and adding enough revenue to have any substantial impact. In addition to the fact that it has many community speakers feel alienated by the conversion of their Summit sessions or networking events into paid of profit sessions.
One final note, in FY2020 PASS spent approximately five percent ($385K) of its revenue on community activities. That number was substantially beefed up by a Microsoft SQL Server 2019 upgrade effort and to the total community spend has been dropping over time. For a point of reference C&C charged pass $525k for IT services in 2019. It’s important to remember that PASS exists to serve the broader SQL community and not a for-profit firm.
As Microsoft MVP’s and Partners as well as VMware experts, we are summoned by companies all over the world to fine-tune and problem-solve the most difficult architecture, infrastructure and network challenges.
And sometimes we’re asked to share what we did, at events like Microsoft’s PASS Summit 2015.
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