Category Archives: Random Thought

Office 365 (Enterprise) Payment Planning **Updated**

As part of my recent employment, I helped my company transition from on-premise server applications (semi-cloud as we were using Azure as IaaS) to full cloud services for daily operations (i.e. email, applications, and communications). The reasoning behind the change can be debated extensively on all sides (I’ll share my thoughts on another blog) but what we were not prepared for entirely is the complexity of billing, especially for worldwide operations for small organizations. In this post, I’ll highlight some of the lessons learned to help others with their payment planning.

The first topic you need to be aware of when creating a new Office 365 plan is the hosting of the service has huge impacts, not only on where your data sits (what datacenter stores your data) but also how you pay.  When you sign up for Office 365 Business subscription you will be asked to identify what country you want to sign up for.  This is very important, even if you are running a trial, as just like Azure (its built on top of Azure so of course, it has the same painful limitation, right?) you cannot change region after the fact. Even (in our experience) you cannot move any data found on one O365 account to another region. You have to shut down and set up a completely new account and manually move data (luckily in our case we still had data in our on-premise instance of Exchange still backing up the accounts we had on O365 during the trial).

So why did we not use our original O365 account we set up? By mistake, when we first set up the account, we selected the wrong country, not the country which wanted to bill in.  You see, to pay for Office 365 (particularly related to Credit Card, but invoice as well) the billing address of payment method must be in the same country as you registered. You cannot use a credit card with a different country as billing address (NOTE: for an Azure subscription you can, however, you cannot use an Azure subscription to pay for Office 365, this is disappointing for corporations who want to have single invoicing from Microsoft would never be an option).

Now that we established billing country restrictions related to the hosting of O365 in the combination of Credit Card/Invoice location, we now look at Payment Methods.  O365 actually has 2 payment methods available, Credit Card and Invoice, but Invoice is not as straightforward. Invoicing is only enabled if a given order is over a certain threshold, uniquely defined per country. For example, if a given order of Office 365 is over 3800 HKD (about 200 USD) Invoice is not an option. Now I emphasized given order because, in O365, each time you order a license or add-on service (even for the same account), MS O365 views this as a separate order. this means if, for example, you paid 6,000 HKD in first order of say 10 E3 licenses, but you suddenly have a new hire 1 month later and you need to get them an E3 license, that order is only 30 HKD well below the threshold of 3800 HKD thus you need to pay by Credit Card for that one license. If your organization plans to have an aggressive hiring plan in the upcoming year, appropriate planning should be accounted for if Invoicing is a requirement, especially for small and medium-size businesses.

Last note about each order topic. Although O365 aligns all payment renewals on the same day after the first-month order is placed, they are all charged individually on your credit card (you will not see a single charge from MS but an individual charge for each “order” of Office 365 license or add-on you placed at separate times. This makes life pretty interesting for the accounts payable department.

So what has been your experience with your company’s transition to Office 365 services?


One important point I failed to raise earlier when determining the location of your Office 365 account is that you cannot link more than one Office 365 account like you can with Azure. Azure, you can mirror your VMs across many datacenters/regions for an optimal experience, but in Office 365, it is limited to a single datacenter. Any additional location is considered a separate account, thus separate domain needs to be used.


iPhone 7 Home Button Unresponsive *UPDATED*

So, after hanging onto an iPhone 5 for what seems forever, I finally decided to make the jump to iPhone 7 with the plan to pass the iPhone 7 to the Mrs. when iPhone 8 (or likely called just “iPhone”) is released later this year. It is amazing how much can change when you wait 4 generations hahaha. But then after about 2 weeks of use, I started to notice something flaky (funny) going on. When I press the home button, it did not seem to respond (I felt the haptic engine but I am not taken to the home screen) and would need to press a second time for the action to take. I did not think much about it, but then it started to act up even more. After trial and error, I eventually discovered that the unresponsive home button occurred when I was in an app (any app) for 45 seconds or longer that the issue would happen, but after going to home screen successfully, I can open the app and return to the home screen with no problem. This issue continually happened even if I:

  • Rebooting the phone
  • Restore phone by a backup.
  • Restore Phone with no backup (start new phone)
  • Take it to Apple, and they restore it by downloading OS from Apple,
  • Resetting settings on the phone.

Here is the funny thing, after doing any restore or Resetting the settings, the issue would go away but only for about 1/2 day (sometimes only a couple hours, sometimes 12 hours). Apple Support reports the first time they heard the issue, and so did Apple Service Center. The Apple Service Center even connected it to the diagnostic machine and found no hardware faults (never open device). I was just about to drop the phone off to have it sent in for service (takes 7 days even though I just bought the phone AND paid for Apple Care but still take 7 days!!!!), when I noticed the day before, that my screen cover (an aftermarket add-on) had a small chip or bubble. So I placed my nail under to see what happened and that is when the screen cover cracked. As a result, I decided to trash the cover. I then immediately noticed that the issue with the home button is completely gone! No reboot, restore or reset required!!!

It appears the 3 weeks of painful troubleshooting is all due to the screen cover that I added to the phone.

Anyone else sees a similar issue?

*UPDATE – May 15, 2017*

I forgot to mention that the screen cover was a tempered glass screen protector with a gap over the home button.

Push Feedly articles to Microsoft Teams

Are you an informationholic? Do you wish you can share interesting stories with your teams to help extend their knowledge as well? Well now there is! After much trial and error, I figured out how to push articles from Feedly (my most favorite digital media aggregation tool) to Microsoft Teams (Microsoft’s answer to Slack with Office 365 subscriptions). For this solution we will use the following services:

  • Feedly Pro or Feedly Teams, sadly, cannot use Feedly Basic as it does not support the next requirement
  • IFTTT (If This, Then That), free, but to link to Feedly service, you need Feedly Pro or Feedly Teams.
  • Microsoft Teams
    • NOTE: you can use a similar configuration below but have output to Office 365 Groups or general email as well if you prefer or do not use Teams in your office. This article, however, focuses primarily on MS Teams.

The general concept is, when you see an article you are interested in, you can add notes and highlights to the article, then finally save the article to a personal board.  These features are actually new to Feedly and you can read more about them here (this is actually what finally got me to buy a subscription to Feedly Pro) –

Once the article is saved to a personal board, the IFTTT service will automatically pick it up, then POST a message immediately to the Microsoft Teams channel of your choosing.  An important note: In IFTTT we will be using Applets which are much easier to build compared to a full recipe which IFTTT provides support for as well. This means we will be limited to creating one applet per channel. If you want a single article to push to many channels, you will need to create separate applets or create a recipe without using the GUI (i.e. developer method, and beyond my current skill :-P)

Ok, let’s dive in and see what we have.

Continue reading

Recap of Week of November 30 (Sorry forgot to post this!)

Around the Blogosphere

Another nail in the coffin for Internet Explorer.

Late last week, Microsoft has announced the ending of support for all versions of Internet Explorer (IE) with the exception of IE 11 (announcement here, This decision ends years of heartache and suffering of our talented Front End Development team as earlier versions used unique rendering engines, causing excess hours, tears and sweat. But this move is not to push IE 11, but it’s more powerful and well-planned heir, Microsoft Edge.  If you are not aware, Microsoft Edge is the new browser that was released with Windows 10 earlier this year. Unlike Internet Explorer’s rocky history with excess bloat, Edge is very light, and extremely fast (beating out the likes of Firefox and Chrome!). As mentioned, this is a well-planned browser by Microsoft, with that said, Edge currently does not provide all the same features and capabilities that you would find in Chrome and Firefox, one of the biggest missing features is Extensions, but just like Windows 10 OS, Microsoft is continually enhancing it, and we should see Extensions introduced by mid next year with Windows 10 “Redstone” release. To learn more about MS Edge, check out this video –

Adobe admits death of flash by reinventing Adobe Flash Professional

We are a step closer to complete and utter destruction of Adobe Flash with the announcement that Adobe will be launching a rebuild Adobe Flash Professional to become Adobe Animate CC.

Rumor: iPhone 7 ditches headphone jack… Really?

Although I agree the headphone jack is one of the largest ports left on the iPhone, but do we really need a thinner iPhone? Doesn’t that just mean the camera sticks out even more? Chinese paper thinks Apple’s next goal is to kill off the headphone jack like they successfully did with the CD-ROM (yes, I really did write that!)


Great Site for Deal Tracking

Lifehacker has an awesome deal tracking site called Kinja Deals, highly recommend following them.

Best Interview Questions, Provided by the CEO’s of the world

I have to say, my most favorite one is Jeff Zwelling:

“A hammer and a nail cost $1.10, and the hammer costs one dollar more than the nail. How much does the nail cost?”

UX Development Tool for iOS and Android

Interesting new platform called Fuse that helps with UX development by providing real-time streaming to your devices.

Apple has Swiftly moved their Swift Programming Language to Open Source

Like how I played on words there 😉 Read more here –

Everything about Nothing Recap

How to Kill (Hide) Status Bar in Firefox (without Add-Ons)

See past articles here.

Hybris Blank

No new articles published this week, but see past articles here.

Favorite International, Inspirational Videos

I have been lucky to see some great inspirational videos recently produced from a variety of Asian countries and would like to share them with you. I think each one speaks to itself. Take a short break from your busy day and have a look:

and lastly, my most favorite

What an interviewer really thinks about that 10 page essay, I mean CV/Resume (Updated)

Just finished reading an interesting perspective of how to deal with a terrible interviewer and suddenly caused a random flashback to my own experience in the past as an interviewer myself and reading and reviewing endless essays, err CV/Resumes to find that right candidate to interview. And if I had to give just one suggestion, it would be this: Please don’t send me an essay/book about your life. 

True I am the furthest from being an expert when it comes to HR and recruitment, but I have been involved in the interview process for potential candidates many times in the past and first thought that comes to mind when I am handed a 5 page printout of someones CV is how much BS is there? 

Now do not get me wrong, I am sure these people have done incredible things over the last 10 years, ran amazing projects and have an endless list of skills, but if you add so much “fluff”, the reader either gets lost, loses interest or misses the points that are relevant to the job you are applying for, which leads me to my secondary recommendation, take the time to modify the CV to the job you are applying for. It’s perfectly ok to create a baseline CV, but tweak the content, the opener, the skills to the job and drop irrelevant stuff. I think this is another reason why people end up with such long CVs because they prepare one with every possible job combination, then mass send to all employers. Remember, you get only one chance to impress and land that interview!!


So pleased to find someone have same thoughts as me! Checkout Laszlo Bock’s blog on LinkedIn, in particular point 2. Better yet follow Laszlo Block for more great blogs and insights!

 Happy job hunting!! 

Plug for my employer on the topic of recruitment:

If you are seeking employment in Vietnam, be sure to checkout PycoGroup in Ho Chi Minh City! Also one of PycoGroups many successful Vietnam ventures Atlassian has several openings as well!

How to get started AND maintain a successful blog?

Welcome, Hello, Chao, Xin Chao, Hola, Whazzzupppp.

So many ways to say hi, but the real task is to keep the conversation going. That is what I have been faced with for about a month since I first opened my WordPress account. Blogging can be fun… scratch that, it MUST be fun. Because if it is fun for the author, it will be fun for you, I hope, my faithful reader  (hint, hint).

So what are you in store for if you become a faithful reader? I really have no idea! But hopefully some great laughs, meaningful thought, great tips, and helpful reviews.

What is most exciting is that I am an Expat in VIETNAM and absolutely love it. So expats out there… I’ll be giving you tips from what I have learned and still learning (hint, tomorrows blog will help if you want to get your driver’s license in Vietnam, so keep your eyes posted).

I guess all I can part you with for now is… happy reading 🙂