The best piece of equipment you can take to a tech conference

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If you have some spare time and want to meet me for a beer at a conference we can spend a long time talking about the bad points of Windows Phones. However there is one feature that I cannot find on Android or iOS which almost makes it worth carrying around. I have to carry my windows Phone with me as it is supplied by my employer and it is our main route of communication when I am away from my laptop. If you have a Windows Phone, through choice or circumstance, then I wholly recommend that you get this one app.

Office Lens is an app that connects with the phone camera and your Microsoft Live account. You can take pictures with your camera and it will automatically sync the content into a chosen OneNote file of your choice. That in itself is pretty neat but that isnt the best trick that Office Lens has to offer.

Imagine yourself in a tech presentation, somewhere near the front but you got there a bit late and are off to one side. You can read most of the slides but the content is going past very quickly – perhaps too quick to take adequate notes. Maybe the slide is full of code, you cant possibly type that in accurately while it is briefly on screen. Open up Office Lens and snap away a few photos while you listen to the presenter.

The view from your seat might be like mine was at a PowerShell session by Andre Kamman at SQL Saturday Dublin.


Office Lens will automatically straighten the image from the skewed view of a whiteboard or projection that you get from your seat and paste a brilliant, highly readable image into your OneNote document. From OneNote you can even ocr this content and paste it right into your code editor or Word. As you can see from the image below, it also automatically recognises the edge of the projection and crops to that.


This also works on paperwork like menus, receipts and so on. Surely this will make a lot of people’s expense claims a lot easier now!

I wholly recommend you get this app installed on your device(s) as soon as you can.


Office Lens download –

Microsoft Office Blog – Office Lens How To –

What is Office Lens? –

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Jonathan Allen

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Jonathan Allen has been a SQL Server DBA since 1999, most enjoying performance tuning and development but also working with SSIS, SSRS to provide suitable business solutions. He is SQLSouthWest PASS Chapter Leader, blogs for Simple Talk, is a forum moderator at and is on Twitter. If you would like to find your nearest user group or just want to say hello then he would love to get an email from you.

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