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Using Skype for Business as a Broadcast Tool–Lessons Learnt

UCDay UK has just taken place on Oct 24th 2016 and I was lucky enough to be there with The Skype Show broadcasting and recording some live interviews. Although the day went well and I was still breathing by the end, there were a few niggles. For those who may attempt this, here is my lessons learnt.

My original plan was to use XSplit Broadcaster to create the scenes so I can add multiple sources such as cameras, microphones, captions and transitions so that the show would look a bit like the late late show. I was then taking that XSplit stream into Skype Broadcast Meetings using the virtual webcam driver supplied with XSplit. My initial testing at home produced positive results, both video and audio where good. The only slight concern was that my CPU (Quad-Core i7) was running around 90% trying to run XSplit and Skype for Business client at the same time.

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Give Your Skype for Business PowerShell Scripts a UI In 10 minutes

First off, this is not really a Skype for Business post, and I do not pretend to be a Dev, so if you are looking for in depth coding then there are others out there who are way better than me. However, I wanted to share with you a method that can be easily adopted to give your PowerShell scripts a nice User Interface.

Previously, designing a UI in PowerShell meant you had to either write hundreds of lines of code referencing the Windows.Forms library, drawing out objects, assigning styles to them etc. etc. Or buy expensive software such as Sapien’s PowerShell Studio that did most of the heavy lifting for you, but you needed to be somewhat of a PowerShell wizard to create even basic scripts. Neither solution for me was ideal, PowerShell Studio just made my head hurt, while going old school and writing line by line was inefficient and often a simple script would bloat out from 50-60 lines of code to easily 2 or 300 lines. This of course may be down to my n00b coding skills but I imagine there are many people out there like me.

Looking around, I found a few projects that had made PowerShell modules you could reference to build your UI, but still there was a dependency on that module being installed on the system the script would eventually run on. I stumbled on a forum post that suggested to use Visual Studio to build your UI and then import it into your PowerShell script.

I have never used Visual Studio before, mainly because I am scared of it and didn’t really know where to start. Plus I am an impatient man, so I just wanted to get things working as fast as I could. However, I was astonished how easy it was.

The process is really simple. Create your UI in Visual Studio using.. you guessed it, a UI to design your UI, drag and drop, select component etc. Once complete copy the code to your PowerShell script, convert into variables, then reference the variables in your code to “do stuff”.

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Skype for Business–Block Call Identified as Malicious

For a long time there has been a little used feature within Lync and Skype for Business that allows end users to highlight a nuisance voice call to the administrators called Malicious Call Trace (MCT). MCT basically allowed the end user to report a call immediately after hanging up which would register in the call detail records database as a trouble call. This information could then be used by Skype for Business administrators to highlight potential issues and act accordingly. Often acting accordingly means not doing much, not because you don’t want to, but because you can’t. Whether that is time or money, they are usually the two main factors. Skype for Business doesn’t provide any administrative blocking options for incoming numbers, instead relies on end users keeping their relationships up to date and/or some third party tool that costs $$.

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Skype for Business– Migrate-CsAnnouncements

Those of you familiar with Skype for Business voice functionality will be aware of the use of announcements. Announcements are pre-determined messages that can be played when a user dials an incorrect number, unallocated number and they can even be used to route into response groups and other third party applications.

These announcements are created and assigned to a particular application server pool i.e a front end pool. This assignment means that the application server is responsible for the announcement and the response group service of that application server is used in order to play the announcement to the caller.

When this application server pool is down, the announcement service will also fail. Pool pairing and automated failover scenarios out of the box do not handle the failover of announcements to the DR application pool. Therefore, in a pure failover scenario, the announcement service is not resilient.

Many customers can often have numerous announcements for whatever reason, and the normal process of migrating these is sadly to recreate them on another pool. Even migrating from previous versions of Lync, the announcements are not automatically migrated and there is no move-csannouncement PowerShell commandlet to help.

Announcing the new function Migrate-CsAnnouncements

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Backup your Server Roles and Features

The following short script gathers the installed roles and features on a server and outputs them to PowerShell script that can be used to redeploy them on another server. This can be useful during migration scenarios or when you need to deploy an additional server with the same requirements.

Copy the below code and save it as a ps1 file.

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Free e-Book – Preparing for Skype for Business

I am pleased to announce the release of my first e-Book, titled Preparing for Skype for Business. The book focuses on all the underlying technology and dependencies you need in order to deploy Skype for Business.

There are numerous step by step guides out there that show how to install Skype for Business, but they all assume that dependencies such as an internal CA, SQL server cluster or Exchange UM are already installed.

This book is intended to fill that void, and talks about these dependencies, together with helpful step by step walkthroughs in order to install and configure ready for Skype for Business.

Learn how to configure your CA, CDP, AIA extensions, SQL clustering, SQL AlwaysOn, DFS and more

You can download the free e-book from technet here: https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/eBook-Preparing-for-Skype-4f130b0b

I have been working on this for a little while now, and think I have managed to get a decent version to release

I will be making bulk updates to this book over time. I welcome your feedback, if you wish to comment, please email me directly to mark@skype4b.uk  as I will be able to keep better track on revisions

Hope you enjoy

Skype for Business Online Dial-in Conferencing Settings Export Script

Microsoft having released native Dial-in conferencing into Office 365 to the masses is now taking the world by storm. More and more of my customers are now adopting Skype for Business Online with PSTN Conferencing as their number one choice for Non-Enterprise Voice workloads. When you enable a user for PSTN Conferencing the PSTN number is chosen based on the user’s location. They are also assigned a Conference ID and PIN. This information is emailed to the user by the tenant when they are enabled, like so:

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Skype for Business Enable Shared Line Appearance Script

With the latest version of Skype for Business Server (November 2015) a new feature called Shared Line Appearance (SLA as it’s known in the Skype world) was released.

The details of what SLA is can be found here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3092727

There are many blogs out there which have looked at SLA in detail, so I am not going to rehash other people’s hard work here.

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Skype for Business – Statistics Manager Agent Update Certificate

After you have installed the Statistics Manager Agent, things should run smoothly until that date 3 years down the line the service suddenly stops working and cannot be restarted. You will no doubt start to sweat a little and wonder why after so long has this stopped working – there have been no changes, no updates, no messing.

You will probably find that your Statistics Manager server certificate has expired. If you renew this certificate or get a new one then you will need to perform the following steps

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Skype for Business 5 minute Admin – Snom 300 UC Edition

Today I have been getting to grips with the Snom 300 UC Edition phone. Nothing new to the Lync community, but it was a new experience for me. Largely the deployment of a single phone went pretty well but there was an interesting gremlin that I wanted to share with you all.

The Snom 300 UC Edition (version 8.8.2.26) uses the Skype for Business DHCP options to discover some of the services required for the phone to register and DNS for the rest. An interesting output in the log file shows that the phone actually discovers the UCUpdates URL and asks the front end server for any approved firmwares! If only Snom released an nbt file, firmware could be loaded and managed by Skype for Business.

Anyway this is not the point of this post. The topology I was deploying the phones contained a backup Standard Edition pool. The behaviour experienced on the Snom phone was that the extension would not register with Skype for Business for long periods of time and then suddenly sign-in. Everything would then appear as normal until some point in the future the phone de-registered and then could not sign back in.

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