11 November 2013

Office 365 Project

I get a lot of offers to sample things that aren't wine. When it's a gadget that I think is useful or a book that might interest you, the readers, I'm happy to take a look at it. There are plenty of other offers that I turn down either out of ethical considerations or simple good taste. When I was approached to test drive Microsoft's Office 365, I was pretty excited. Despite being a committed Apple hardware user since 1982, I have been using Windows and Microsoft applications on a regular basis in school and work since the late 80s. Office 365 provides for things like cloud storage and access to the Office applications on tablets and smart phones.

When I started the wine blog years ago, I wanted to keep it simple. I'd built websites from scratch and chose to use the free Blogspot software because I didn't want the blog to feel like work. Years later, I discovered that to get ahead and keep things organized, and to build my web presence as a writer, that I really needed to treat it like a business. For most of the past nine years, I've taken notes on scraps of paper, consulted physical prints of tasting notes, and then later taken everything upstairs to type it all up.

On my recent post about Morellino di Scansano, I tried using some of the Office 365 functions for the first time. The digital tasting notes and region information came via a USB stick, which instead of dumping on the computer, I instead uploaded to SkyDrive. While tasting the wine, I could grab the PowerPoint presentation with maps and everything on my iPhone, and when it was time to jot down notes, I could utilize One Note.

Instead of jotting down tasting notes that might get lost (and trust me, that has happened, especially when that one envelope with scribbled details gets tossed out with the junk mail), I was able to type up a note, take a photo of the bottle, and sync it so that later I could access it from my desktop computer, my laptop, or elsewhere with my iPhone.

In the interest of efficiency and the striving for kaizen (continuous improvement), I'm looking forward to using these tools to take advantage of opportunities like working on the blog while sitting in line at the DMV or being able to recycle the piles of printed PR material and instead keep everything neatly organized in one central, digital, online repository.

It's obviously tough to change your habits, but because I work in Quality Assurance, I'm excited about scrapping my old processes in search of new ones that save time, eliminate excess steps, and allow me to spend more time focusing on the wine and the writing rather than digging through a pile of papers looking for that one tech sheet or trying to remember which camera got that one good label shot. Over the months I'll be going into some more detail about these process changes, and I look forward to sharing with you what works and what doesn't as I strive for improvement. I'm hoping soon to do an entire review from start to finish, using nothing but the iPhone and the various Office 365 applications. I'm not there yet, but my goal is that I can slip it in without anyone noticing a difference. Perhaps I already have...

Note: This software was provided as a sample for review. There is no financial compensation for this test drive, and all opinions are my own.


Cesar Lee said...

Your blog has always entertaining stuff, thanks for sharing this with us! Cheers!

Ben Carter said...


Thanks for reading!


William Myers said...

Thank you for the reviews, I will keep visiting you for more good wines!

Steve Robinson said...

Good stuff, and quite a head's up! It's always a welcome help to find new hardware with which to support online presence and even harness it. Always worth a try. Cheers!

Steve @ ReSEOlve