March 2009
Vol. 25, No. 1

A Technology Newsletter for Extension Specialists

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Office Communicator Can Save Money
by Joe Lear, Associate Director/Systems Administrator

With the economy in bad shape, every Extension office needs to stretch their budget where they can.  One way to do this is by using Office Communicator 2005 to talk with Extension Faculty and staff instead of using the telephone and reducing costs for long distance service.  Office Communicator allows you to Instant Message (IM), share files and even talk in real time to other faculty and staff in Extension.  The only requirement is that the people you want to talk or IM with have Office Communicator installed and running as well.

Office Communicator is installed on every Extension machine that has Vista installed.  During the initial computer setup, instructions were included to setup Office Communicator for your account.  If Communicator has been setup then you should see an icon in your system tray (lower right hand corner of your computer screen) that looks like a comic dialog balloon with a green dot.

If you do not see this icon or the dot on the icon is red with an X through it, then you may need to follow the instructions at S:\MuCampus\ETCS\helpdesk\Communicator\Setup Microsoft Office Communicator.docx to properly setup office Communicator for use.

If you are still using Windows XP and want to install Office Communicator follow the installation instructions at S:\MuCampus\ETCS\helpdesk\Communicator\

Communicator is tied into the Active Directory and Outlook, so you can add anyone in Extension as a contact in Communicator.  To add a person as a contact; Open Office communicator by double clicking on the icon in the system tray, Click Contacts on the Menu Bar and then click Add Contact (figure 2).  You can then choose to search for a contact, which will allow you to search by first name, last name, and e-mail address or any combination.

You can click “By e-mail address or sign-in name” if you know the person’s username (figures 3 & 4).  If you choose this option, do not use “” with the person’s username.  You must use “” to add the account properly to your contacts.  Contacts can also be sorted into Groups.  Since you can invite multiple people into an IM conversation (max of 32 including yourself), you can use groups to organize contacts in to collaborative efforts or meeting groups.

You can have one to one voice communications using Communicator as well (figure 5).  You can right-click on someone in your Contacts list and choose Call, and then click Computer, or use the find function to type in someone’s to see if they are on line and then click the drop-down arrow next to call, and choose Computer.  If this is your first time to connect via voice, then you’ll be taken through the Audio Wizard.

Once completed, the call will be made and if the person accepts the call, you can begin your conversation.  If you are in the County office you must have the Extension VPN connection running to use the voice calling feature of Office Communicator.

File transfers (of office documents and other files considered safe) can be transferred from one person to another by simply press the send file icon during a conversation.

We hope that you’ll find Office Communicator a useful tool for inter-office communications and that it will help you stretch your office budget.


Last Revised: 03/02/09



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