Microsoft Designer Makes Masterpieces

Posted Posted in Microsoft

Every so often Microsoft launches a program that turns my head. This Microsoft 365 design tool (Microsoft Designer – Stunning designs in a flash) is one of them. Microsoft describes its new Microsoft Designer program as follows: “A graphic design app that helps you create professional quality social media posts, invitations, digital postcards, graphics, and more. Start with your idea and create something unique for you. Microsoft Designer – Stunning designs in a flash“. I was lucky enough to be given early access and my opinion, in a word, is WOW.

You don’t need a Fine Arts degree or design and graphics training to easily create anything from holiday greeting cards to promotional sale flyers. There are templates and even AI (Dalle2) generated images. You can upload your own images from your computer and/or your phone (the app generates a QR code that lets you send images stored on your phone directly to the app).

Want to create a brand for your business and establish an identity? No problem, there are color schemes and typefaces (which you can completely customize).

The Microsoft Designer app supports layers, and some limited animations (mp4 files). I’m impressed with the designs that others are creating; if you follow @MSFT365Designer ( you’ll see examples of what is being done by Microsoft 365 customers.

I’ve been experimenting (and learning just how powerful the app is). Here’s a mini mp4 created by Microsoft Designer:

You can extend the capabilities of Microsoft Designer as well. I used Microsoft Clipchamp to produce this piece as a test:

I wanted a unique Hanukkah greeting to post to Facebook, and I ‘asked’ the AI to generate “chanukah menorah in the style of  Picasso” and the graphic below was among the choices. Yep, that’s a statement graphic, so I quickly added some text and was done.

Microsoft Designer is going to be a VERY popular program among Microsoft 365 customers. I’ve already used Microsoft Edge to “install as app” to keep the app quickly available on my desktop.

Join the waitlist! Head on over to Microsoft Designer – Stunning designs in a flash to get started.


Microsoft Authenticator Gets Account Backup and Recovery

Posted Posted in iPhone, Microsoft

I’ve been a big fan of Microsoft’s two factor authentication (2FA) client since day one and I’m also one of the tester’s. My only concern, as I wrote nearly a year ago in is what might happen if my iPhone was damaged and I needed a quick replacement. That concern is no more! Backup and Recovery is rolling out for iOS testers.


Cortana, IFTTT, Invoke all together now

Posted Posted in Connected Home, Cortana, Microsoft

Microsoft just announced that Cortana now works with IFTTT. Cortana has had an appalling lack of third party skills (still does) but at least IFTTT offers some hope to folks who have services and devices that are not natively supported by Cortana but which have IFTTT support.

One of the neat things Cortana and IFTTT can do is post to Facebook, Twitter, etc. I can be working in the kitchen and ask Cortana/Invoke to TWEET or post to Facebook.

I’m sharing the recipes for these for others to play with below.




Get Hue or LIFX light alerts for Dona Sarkar Build Tweets

Posted Posted in Connected Home, Home Automation, Microsoft, Windows Insiders



If you’re a hard core Windows Insider, you’ll want to be one of the first to know when new Insider Builds are available for download and corresponding blog posts go up. You can always watch @donasarkars Twitter stream (and check the hints that builds are coming in images she posts), but if you have Hue or LIFX connected bulbs, you can use IFTTT to set up an Applet (used to be called a recipe) to get a visual alert.

Dona has graciously agreed to include a new hashtag #flight when she tweets notifications about builds.

It is really easy to set up the IFTTT piece, and you will need to enable the Hue/LIFX integration by signing into your account if you haven’t already connected it to IFTTT.






Surface Pro 3 Batterygate Continues

Posted Posted in Microsoft, Surface

While Microsoft’s response to the SIMPLO issue has been restricted to “working on a possible software fix”, customers are starting to report that even when plugged in, their SP3 tablets shut down. In essence, they can’t use their Surface Pro 3’s at all. This seems to happen when the amount of usable battery fully charged falls below a certain point, and as the days continue without a fix, more and more customers will have unusable devices. I don’t see that they will be able to keep their devices running long enough to even apply a software fix, should one actually become available. These customers are trapped. Microsoft won’t swap them out, and some are paying the usurious $450 out of warranty exchange fee. Note that Microsoft committed to a $200 battery replacement program on a Reddit AMA but has refused to honor this or even comment on it. (And as an aside, Apple charges $129 to replace an out of warranty battery.)


Microsoft told customers in the same Reddit AMA that “the battery can get charged daily (5 days a week) for over 4.5 years and still maintain 80% capacity”. Again, customers are responding in the thread that they can’t even use their devices while connected or docked.


I checked my sent email and note that as a Community Forum Moderator that I brought it to the attention of Microsoft on March 3, 2016. And a couple of times thereafter. I saw the trending that early.

And as of Saturday, March 6, afflicted Microsoft customers have not had a single update on the situation since the initial “we think we can fix in software and are working on a fix”.