Short takes: pairing my headphones, firewalls and Exchange SMTP communications, tethered photos with a Mac

Some more snippets that don’t quite make a blog post…

Because I always forget how to do this: how to pair a Plantronics BackBeat PRO headset with a mobile device.

And a little tip whilst troubleshooting connectivity to an Exchange Server server for hybrid connectivity with Office 365… if telnet ipaddress 25 gives a banner response from the SMTP server then that’s a good thing – if the firewall is interrupting transmission then I’ll get nothing back, or asterisks ********. Joe Palarchio (@JoePalarchio) writes about this (see issue 7) in his post on Common Exchange Online Hybrid Mail Flow Issues. Note that firewalls doing any form of blocking between Exchange servers are unsupported but that doesn’t stop customers from putting them between their email servers and anything running in the cloud (e.g. Hybrid server in Azure).  If you need to do this, then you should have any ANY/ANY rule (i.e. allow free flow of traffic) between the Exchange Server servers.

Take photos with OS X Image CaptureFinally, back in 2009, I  wrote about tethering a DLSR to a computer and taking pictures using Windows PowerShell (I think I’ve also written about using software to do this). Well, it turns out that the OS X Image Capture utility can also take a photo on a supported camera – either on a timed basis or by pressing a key.  Could be useful to know if setting up a time-lapse, or for studio work…

Plantronics Voyager Legend not connecting with PC (but fine with phones) – re-pairing required

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a couple of Lync accessories I use every day – including my Plantronics Voyager Legend (BT300M). Since then, I’ve successfully paired the headset with both Windows and iOS phones (so presumably Android will work too) using their native stacks, although I use the supplied Bluetooth dongle on my company-supplied Windows 7 laptop.  I’m still impressed with the headset and the battery life is great too as it automatically goes into standby when I forget to turn it off (although it’s often sitting on its charging stand).

Unfortunately, I did find one day that my headset had “fallen out with” my laptop and whilst it would happily connect to the phones I couldn’t use it for Lync (VoIP) or CUCILync (VoIP breakout to our Cisco phone system and beyond to the PSTN). After some frustration of taking out and re-inserting the dongle in various USB ports, etc. I found an article on the Plantronics Sounding Board that gave the answer:

“Try pairing the headset to the dongle. Typically you would turn your phone(s) off to make sure they don’t  interfere in the process. Then press the call button on the headset until you go into pairing mode and insert the dongle in the PC, it should pair.”

Interestingly, the article also referred to a tool I’ve not come across before called DriveCleanup which can remove orphaned registry items related to non-present USB devices (forcing the dongle to set up the stack again on insertion). I didn’t need this but it could be a useful tool (there are several others on the page too).

Incidentally, at a Lync event at Microsoft last week, I tried out the Plantronics Backbeat PRO wireless noise cancelling headphones with microphone and they will be great for listening to music in a shared office but still being contactable for calls. Having upgraded my phone this week, I need to do some saving before I can buy more gadgets, but these could be on the list…

A couple of Lync accessories that I find improve my user experience

The company where I work recently upgraded from Office Communications Server (OCS) to Lync. Whilst Skype for Business is just around the corner, bringing many more features, our upgrade to Lync is a massive improvement and has allowed me to stop using WebEx for most of my conference calls and even to stop using my Cisco softphone for many of the direct voice calls (unfortunately we don’t have PSTN breakout configured for anything other than Lync conference call dial-backs).

Related to Lync, I’ve recently acquired a couple of accessories which, as well as creating discussion in the office, I find really help my user experience:

  • First up is the Bluetooth headset I use: a Plantronics Voyager Legend (BT300-M). Freeing me from the shackles of my desk on endless conference calls, I can nearly make it to the kitchen to make a cup of tea but, even when it does lose the connection, it seamlessly reconnects when I’m back in range. Not only do I use this with Lync but it’s also useful for my Cisco CUCILync softphone and, I’m told, as a mobile phone headset in the car (I haven’t tried that yet as my current car has Bluetooth built in but that will change in a few weeks…). Now, having said I can make it to the kitchen on a call, I have also heard about a colleague with a DECT-based headset who made it to his local village post office without losing his connection!
  • The other tool, which creates a lot more discussion from interested colleagues, is my Kuando Busylight. This is a visual indicator of my Lync status and, whilst it can be ignored just as much as the virtual version (I find that “busy” is treated as if it’s just a different coloured version of “available”…), it does have potential in offices with large groups of workers on the phone and a reliance on presence information. It also has a visual and/or audible notification when I’m called or IMed and I can customise the colours, create hotkey combinations and re-route second calls using the supplied software. Unfortunately It’s Windows-only – but so is my work PC! I do hope that the manufacturer, Plenom (@plenom) will release a Mac version too, so I can use it with Lync and my personal Office 365 account.

Whilst on the subject of Lync, I’m not sure if I’ve blogged it before but there is a shortcut to force the use of Lync Web Access for a call, rather than the full client. Simply add ?sl=1 to the end of the Lync meeting URL to force use of the browser client.