My Experience with Microsoft Band 2

I have been using a Fitbit for several years, I started with the Ultra, moved to the One and then moved to the Surge. I have had very good experience with the product and customer service.

Almost two months ago I participated in a contest with LoseIt as part of their #MyDayMyWay and won a Microsoft Band 2.  Needless to say I was very excited about it. I had been considering purchasing an Apple Watch and looked at the Band 2 as well. I liked the fact that the Band was designed from the ground up for fitness (something I am trying to get better at). I feel there is no need to have as many applications on my wrist as Apple Watch offers since I have my phone with me all the time anyway.

I passed my Fitbit Surge on to my father-in-law, who uses it daily now. I strapped the Band on my wrist and used it daily. I quickly stopped using it for sleep monitoring (just like I did with the Fitbit). I noticed that Band needed this time for charging more so than the Fitbit. Also, I didn’t see a huge value in monitoring my sleep. I already know that I have sleep apnea and I like to have my wrist get a break from the device while I sleep.

Now that I have over a month of using Microsoft Band 2 I figured it would be a good time to share my thoughts about this device and the Fitbit.

23546032912_0bcbee8c8c_oI really like the look and feel of the Microsoft Band 2. It is smooth, sleek and comfortable. It doesn’t feel like a watch and offers an easy action of using it. I can easily use it all day without it getting in my way. The clasp that they chose it great, that was one issue I had with the Surge but Fitbit customer service replaced the Surge after issues.

The Fitbit Surge is bulky, it isn’t as comfortable as the Band. It is nice that with the Surge you can see it in direct sunlight where what Band is harder to see because of the display. I think they both have a smooth navigation system on the device.

The Band offers more “Tiles” or apps that you can use than the Fibit Surge, I thought this was nice at first. I loaded them up with the max and noticed that the battery needed charged nightly once I did this. The Fitbit Surge I had no problem going several days with GPS on and not charging the battery. But, I still charged it nightly unless I was away for the weekend.
16220726542_1fbf0c855a_oI was able to look at my steps and my activities on my phone easily with both devices. I could sync the activities from the device to my phone to view the details. Sharing the activities is very different, with the MS Band when sharing if you have GPS turned on your map is shared but not the basic data (miles,steps etc). Fitbit has a very nice sharing feature, even if you have the GPS turned on your map is kept private and your details are shared. Fitbit also provides a way of taking a Selfie or other pic and putting the details of your activities with the selfie. I have turned off GPS tracking on Band because I don’t want to share my location with the world.

Also, the Fitbit app tracks your calories in either by logging food in Fitbit App or syncing with other apps. I use LoseIt to log all of my food and drinks and it syncs directly with Fitbit and I can see my calories in on both LoseIt and Fitbit.

CaptureOne of the biggest advantages of Fitbit is the community, Fitbit has built a community around their devices and provided features for you to build communities around you. So you can get support, you can compete with others and cheer them on. Fitbit has really talked gamification with their devices and I feel that all other devices can look at Fitbit for gamification.

So, right now I still have the MS Band 2 on me. I am now using my iPhone with the Fitbit app to track my exercises. I have already decided that I will be upgrading to the Fitbit Blaze once it is released. I do have an older Fitbit surge with a broken band that I may try to get working until the Blaze is released.

I have experienced an issue with a Fitbit devices and their customer service is just amazing!


UPDATE: (1/18/2015)

I have decided to purchase the Fitbit Flex for both of my daughters. Because of the community, web app and phone app on the Fitbit I am moving my family to Fitbit devices. My old Surge has velcro to on the band to fix the clasp issue. My wife is using the MS Band 2, once the Blaze is release both my wife and I will be wearing that.





Podcamp X – My First Time

I attended my first PodCamp this year, on Sunday the last day I decided to head to Point Park University. I have wanted to attend this conference for about 2 years and this year I finally did it and I just loved it!

“PodCamp Pittsburgh is a social media un-conference.”

This “un-conference” provides a place to learn about social media and new media from people who use it. It is offered free of charge thanks to sponsors and volunteers. I attended 2 sessions and I really enjoyed both of them. The people at the event are very friendly which makes it that much more fun.

So, below I am going to provide my thoughts on the two sessions that I attended.


Instacontent:Meerkat, Snapchat, Periscope, Oh My

First, I went to “Instacontent” which provided a great overview of some apps like:

  • Meerkat
  • Periscope
  • Snapchat

I have heard of all three and played with them a little in the past. But during this session I that both Meerkat and Periscope have some good audiences and provide a way of quickly getting content out to your users. Instead of planning a production that you might host on a different platform, you can quickly and easily use your device to broadcast a video stream to your users. This is great for getting information to your audience quickly for a specific moment that is happening.

Snapchat has a feature called “My Stories” that allows you to build a a story of shorts vidoes from SnapChat that can then be available for 24 hours or you can download it to host it elsewhere.

I loved how this session was presented, it wasn’t just a slide deck but the presentors used the tools they discussed the various uses and benefits of them.

Presented by : @Sorgatron and @Kdudders


This session was one of the reasons I went to PodCamp today. I created the website to help keep people in the Baldwin-Whitehall area informed about what is going on at the school district level. The site has been very useful and has a wonderful audience that stays active in this community. I am very grateful to all of the readers of BWAction.

More recently, I have been really trying to bring awareness and help end the stigma with drug addiction and overdose. I have been thinking of ways of doing this and have already registered for events revolving around addiction to both learn more and talk to others.

During this talk, Becca shared her passion which is a non-profit that she founded called Harmony of the Andes. She talked about about how social impact can be made by sharing what you care about and why. She described this social impact as part of building your personal brand.


Your personal brand impacts your online and offline communities. – Becca

Becca explained that you need to share what you believe in and why. Hearing what a person believes in and why they do makes people want to learn more and brings more awareness.

I really think that social media can help spread a person’s message out to a bigger audience faster than ever before. Yea, I know you knew that already. But, do you make sure that you keep that message that you are sharing both online and offline? Actions are better than words. Make sure to put a person behind that social media brand.

Presented by: @PittBecca


Back On DayOne

Last week I tried to switch to a different app for journaling, the main reason was the availabilty of a web application. I wanted to be able to record my thoughts on Windows as well as my Apple devices.

Honestly, it didn’t take me long to to return to Day One.

I feel that the user experience in Day One is just so comfortable and clean, it makes journaling easy in just about any environment. I can quickly record small text like a Tweet and save it. I can return later and add more detail in the entry using the small text as a trigger for myself.

I still feel that DayOne needs a web application to interact with, DayOne is available on iOS and Mac, but not on Windows. I use an iPhone and an iPad but I use Windows for everything else. Luckily I can use the iPad for longer journal entries or an Bluetooth keyboard for my phone. But a web app that can be used on my computer would make Day One a slam dunk.

I have been journaling every day since the end of November 2014 now with Day One. I have not missed one day, sometimes the journal entries are very small, but every day I record something. It feels good to reflect a little on the day and write.

Do you journal? If so what do you use for journal, electronic or paper?

Scrum Master Rotation & Metrics Collection

Scrum Master Rotation

My team has implemented a Scrum Master rotation and just finished up the first 2 months of it. We had a retrospective dedicated just to this new process and had a lot of great feedback from it.

I found that it provided a whole different perspective on what we do and how we understand Scrum. But, I found that this also helped really protect the sprint with this rotation, we decided to make he rotation last 3 months and extended the current person another month. We also selected the next person that will take the duties of Scrum Master.

Metrics Collection

As part of this rotation we have started to break down our stories into tasks better, well actually to doing it. We haven’t been breaking them down to the  task level. I am one that likes to keep the stories very small which could make it harder for tasks, but love the idea of having the tasks written and thought it. It provide much better understanding of the story and helps with commitments that are made.

When breaking down our stories we are not trying to estimate hours on the tasks and log hours against the tasks for daily tracking. This is now looked at during daily stand up meetings. The idea is that we can learn more about our points by looking at the actual hours that it takes to do the work. Also, it the metrics could be used to show resource gaps that we have.

Do you collect metrics other than story points during your sprints? Do you use them in your daily stand-ups? How do you break tasks down. I would love to hear from you how how your scrum works. Have you ever rotated the Scrum Master role?

Trying Blogsy on an iPad Mini

I have used Blogsy before when I used an iPad, I moved away from the iPad and now ready to Rays back to it! A big part reason is the apps that are available for the iPad and Blogsy is one that I have really liked in the past so I installed it on my daughter’s iPad Mini.

I am using this post to try out Blogsy again, it’s been about a year since I used it and to try it on a Mini. Currently I have a Surface 2 RT 64G, I chose the RT version for the battery life and regret that decision. Shortly after I purchased Surface 2 the Surface 3 Pro came out, of course enough time passed that I couldn’t return it. 🙁

The value retention of the Surface is horrible in comparison to the iPads, so I am waiting more before I bite he bullet and take the lose. I leaning to the iPad Mini 3 with plans on eliminating my Kindle Paperwhite. Luckily my daughter wanted a Mini and received one so I have more time to play and make sure it fits my needs. More on this later…..

So , I am using an original iPad Mini with Blogsy and no external keyboard. Looks like Blogsy has keep up with this amazing product and usage is great. Typing without an external keyboard for a post like this is not great but that is NOT the fault if Blogsy.


Dragging a picture from my Flickr stream is still easier and fluid like on a full size iPad.

So is dragging from my Instagram. Great work to everyone at Blogsy

I really miss an external keyboard, I had one my iPad when I used it and could make due without one for mini.

My First Try at Speaking

Well, not really my first try, but my first really public speaking. I find it funny and like to bring it up that when I was in school I would NOT speak in front of the class, I would take a failing grade instead of speaking. Now, I am facilitating meetings and talking in front of groups all of the time.

But, this past week was something completely new and I was very excited about it. I had the opportunity to speak for Baldwin-Whitehall School District’s Personal Development day which was focused on technology.  Then the very next day I spoke at a #PittAgile meetup. I was very excited about both and had very little nervousness, which in retrospective may have been one of the problems.

Below is a list of the talks:

The first two talks where for Baldwin-Whitehall School District, the third talk was for the PittAgile community group. I started by preparing for these talks as speeches which I had some experience with over the past year. My “speeches” where limited to 3 minutes during the year; this time I had a full 50 minutes to talk and present to an audience, which is vastly different. I found that starting as a speech was very helping, I just open up and starting typing like I was going to talk. First, I needed to have a short paragraph to be used for a description of my talks, this would be taken from my writing.

I followed typically writing practices with a 1st draft, editing, 2nd draft, and final draft. After I had my words ready, I then started to look for how I can present this information in the form of slides. I searched for images using Flickr, filtering for creative commons. I took my words from the speech document and placed them in the corresponding notes for each slide. There, I had my finished presentation completed and ready. I wish it was that simple, the process is simple, but doing this took time. A lot of time to think and process my thoughts. To edit and research. I like to research what I am going to talk about and also get feedback from others. I did not intend to read the notes, I just want to practice the “speech” so that I could have my content ready and be ready to adapt when in front of the audience.

Following a standard concept for Agile, I wanted to get feedback to learn and adapt. One of my mentors used a technique that I really liked so I used that for collecting feedback.

I handed out PostIts and pens so that I could collect feedback. Before even starting my talk I explained that I wanted to get feedback on my talk and that I wanted to learn. I also told my audience that I am not looking for bashing, to please keep that in mind and help me learn more.

On flip chart paper I made four quadrants as you can see to the left, with the following text.

  1. Good talk
  2. Good but could improve
  3. Not very good
  4. Come talk to my team

I told the audience to write on the PostIts their feedback for me to learn from. Agile is about adapting and a key to adapting is learning to accept feedback from others. So, I asked them to please help me improve by writing their thoughts and place the PostIt on the appropriate section on the flip chart.


I did this during my first two talks and failed to do this at my final talk;  when really I needed the most feedback. My first two received a lot of good feedback. I heard that I should have provided more hands on work during my talk about Evernote. Also, I learned that I should have requested more time for both of those sessions. Great information and this feedback will help me do better next time.

My final session was my lessons learned on facilitating my first innovation week for my team. This was a difficult one to prepare for, I started the talk with the value of innovation weeks and also some examples of other organizations that have innovation time.

My biggest problem was I didn’t go into enough detail on the concrete examples of how we performed our innovation time and the exact outcomes of our innovation week. This time was very valuable and our team was able to help our projects out a lot. I could have went into more detail about that.

What happened was my time fell short and I went through my material a lot faster than I had expected. The audiences between the talks where different and resulting in different timings that I needed. Where the first two I could have used more time the third I had trouble filling my required time. I ended up adapting though and changing the talk into an open dialog with the audience, since I had a small audience, about 10 people this worked out well. Had I had a larger audience this would have not been possible.

So, for my next talk I will:

  1. Think more about who my audience is
  2. Provide more specific examples that focus on my message
  3. Provide hands on activities if I am talking on software and in a lab
  4. Continue to use the same feedback method discussed above
  5. Continue my approach of starting as a speech

Tight Integrations for CRM, SharePoint, Office and Yammer

I have built my career based on Microsoft technologies, I have furthered my career by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of other technologies and integrating them when needed.

Slide03 of 16

One session at the Hitachi conference that I was very excited about was “How Successful Organizations are Using the Power of Microsoft CRM with Yammer, SharePoint, Lync and the rest of the Office Productivity Suite“. A very big topic based on the title of the session and something that I expected receive a lot of value from.

Personally, I would have liked to see this topic go deeper than it did, I don’t think it lived up to the title. But, I did enjoy the session and did learn a lot.

SharePoint is tightly integrated with Dynamics CRM and has been that way since CRM 2011. You could use Dynamics CRM Online and still integrate with an on premise SharePoint environment. Files that are uploaded would then be uploaded to SharePoint Document Libraries and allow you to make full use of FAST Search.

Also, you can use Yammer (Microsoft Enterprise Social Platform) to “follow” accounts. So, you have have people on Yammer follow accounts without using a CRM license. Information that is shared about an account is then available to others in the organization regarding that account.

CRM has to drive the organization as well as the workflow of the organization. This is key as I mentioned in previous posts, Microsoft has built the platform of tools that seamlessly connect together with the organization’s already familiar Office Suite.

Hitachi, then added some more powerful integration between CRM and SharePoint providing for external facing SharePoint sites. Hitachi also developed a tool that will transparently migrate attachments from Exchange into a Document Library lowering the size of Exchange and email. Provide a central location for email attachments that can be shared around the organization as well as taking advantage of FAST Search yet again.

I was impressed with everything I heard, I would have liked to see more a of demo of these features to seal the deal.

I am curious if you have integrated CRM, SharePoint, Yammer and Office. What was your experience like?


Image above from

CRM is a 360 Degree View of Clients

Center of Everything

Metropolis Globe New York

Customer Relationship Management, that is what a CRM tool is. This tool’s sole purpose is to be the full view of your clients, a 360 degree view. For any CRM to achieve this goal you must have the buy-in from high level stakeholders, everyone must understand the vision and users must use it.

It’s actually a little funny, users don’t want to use a CRM if there is nothing there useful, but to make it useful users must use it and populate data in it. This is why buy-in is so important, buy-in helps with user adoption, once there is useful data, user adoption will gain and the full value of the CRM is visible.

A CRM tool is NOT just for sales and marketing, it is for anyone who interacts with your customers. There is information for anyone in your organization that interacts with a customer in the CRM, there is also information for staff that is building products/service, they can see what how a customer feels about the product/service.

A tech support call comes in and the tech support person sees that this customer is in the process of a large purchase, what does this tell the support person.

A sales person is going on a call and sees that this customer has been having a lot of issues with something. The sales person can then contact the support and work out the issues and walk in with information about the issue at hand which is proactive.

Think of collections, collections is calling a customer that is overdue, but first they check and see there are some implementation problems. How would you react to this collection call with this information.

Using the CRM as the center of everything provides so much value to the organization and to the client. This helps keep communication open and clear. Social CRM features also helps with monitoring social media for issues or questions.

Keep your CRM as the center of everything and make it work for you and you can reap the rewards and return on your investment.


Photo credit:

Understand your business processes before you implement

This third installment of my reflections from Hitachi’s CRM 2014 Conference brings me to business processes.  CRM products are NOT silver bullets, purchasing a CRM does NOT provide you with a fix to processes that have not been documented or shared.

Before implementing any CRM product, make sure you have a solid understand of the processes that you wish to automate with the CRM. There are many advanced functionalities available within most CRM products, but understanding and being able to communicate your business processes are a prerequisite to implementing the CRM to automate said processes.

A solid CRM product should provide a 360 degree view of your customers. Integrating to other systems may be required as well as workflows to enforce a business process.

The procesess should be documented in a “living” form to track changes to the process and to understand the reasons for a process. Later there may be questions and if the process is documented you can understand (or remember) the reasoning you or someone else made certain decisions.

Having clear documentation of business processes also help you build a return on investment report that can help you justify additional expenses by showing how the funds can be recouped.

Once the vision of the CRM is defined, processes should be documented and agreed upon. Ultimate these processes are already documented and available and may just need to be refined.

Have a solid vision statement and share it with everyone

Last week’s conference with Hitachi Solutions had many great sessions as well as a lot of time to talk with other companies that are customers. This networking time I find vital to talk someone about how their implementation want, what road blocks they had and how they managed to overcome obstacles.

At the start of any project there should be a vision statement, this little piece of text is often overlooked and has very costly results in my opinion. Without a proper vision of what the intended goal is, others will operate on assumptions. Those assumptions may or may not match what the intention of the project was.

During my time at the conference I have found that I am not alone in not seeing vision statements on projects. This is a very common occurrence and sadly leads to  low user adoption as well as performance on the project.

A very clear vision statement should be established at the start of any project, not just a CRM project. This vision statement should be circulated from the highest part of the organization and shared with everyone. It should be a short “elevator pitch” that is at the tip of anyone’s tongue.

The above image is from