Sunday, November 30, 2008

Security videos

Have a look at these security videos from Watchguard. Down the bottom of the page you’ll also find some videos that may help ‘non-IT’ people understand some simple security principles.

 

The good thing is that you can download the videos and use them offline.

The value of “clear space”

I was reading an article from Intel recently saying they have noticed a decided drop off in innovation with the advent of interruptions (linked to things like email). They believe that because people’s head are so full of things that are perceived to be urgent that there is little room for new ideas to form. Intel are trying to foster the idea of “clear space”. Time simply devoted to thinking rather than doing.

 

I can’t but equate this back to the eastern philosophy of meditation. Many people I know laugh meditation off as some ‘new age hippy’ treatment and would never be caught engaging in the practice. To these people I’d content that it far more difficult to empty your mind of thoughts and keep it empty for a period of time. If you don’t believe me then try it for yourself. See how long you can go without thinking about anything. I’m certain you’ll find all sorts of things popping in there. Maybe then you’ll appreciate that finding ‘clear space’ is far more difficult that first imagined simply because we have become so accustom to filling it.

 

If your mind is a cup and constantly overflowing how is anything else ever going to get in? If you feel your mind is always preoccupied with ‘stuff’ perhaps you need to look at exactly what ‘stuff’ is in there. The problem is that most people believe they have to remember everything they need to know in their heads. For example, some time during the day you drill yourself into ‘remembering’ that you need milk. Later on, you find yourself standing in the dairy isle of a supermarket trying to rack your brain for what you needed to remember. Everyone’s been there.

 

The simplest way to empty the cup of your mind and allow it some ‘clear space’ is to move information from your brain to a trusted location where you can retrieve it if necessary. Where this information ends up doesn’t really matter, what matters is that your brain is confident that it is somewhere safe where it can be retrieved later and so no longer was to worry or ‘think’ about it.

 

Personally, I find a pen and paper to be the fastest, most convenient and flexible way to get things down however electronic means like OneNote, Evernote or whatever can achieve the same result. The secret is you have to find out what works for you. You’ll also find that you’ll improve the system that you use as you go along, which is exactly what is supposed to happen. The important thing is to take steps to free you mind from the mundane issues that can easily be dealt with in other ways.

 

I think that you’ll be surprised at how quick it is to create some mental ‘clear space’ and how easier things become once your mind has room to accept and process information. Your mind is like a high performance engine. If you keep filling it with crap fuel it is never going to reach its potential. If however, you highly refine what goes in then you are guaranteed of top performance.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

SharePoint subsite basics video

You’ll find a new video at http://www.youtube.com/user/directorciaops. This one give you an overview of the basics of SharePoint subsites.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQlJBE-3RHM&hl=en&fs=1


Subsites are basically just normal SharePoint sites that live underneath the original SharePoint home site. They can be created using an existing template (40 of these are free from Microsoft) so that you don’t have to start completely from scratch. SharePoint sites also have the ability to have unique permissions and navigation if desired.

 

As always I welcome feedback on what’s been created.

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Starter Kit now available

How to Sell, Deploy, and Build Business with Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and SBS 2003 R2

Overview: A new partner enablement tool helps you create solutions using Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2. Access the toolkit?s resources?including a process cookbook, technical documentation and marketing materials?to learn how to build your business by selling and deploying customized solutions

In case you were not able to get your hands on one of those fantastic WSS Starter Site Toolkit DVDs, the files are now online here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Free team portal site

The Computer Information Agency is proud to offer a fully supported, free portal site to non-business teams. This will allow your soccer team to quickly and easily see when events are on. Your swimming team can quickly upload documents that everyone can access. Your team portal provides a quick and easy way for everyone to always be up to date.

 

Why is it free? What’s the catch? I hear you say. Your portal remains free for you to use provided you are not a business and you provide at least one converted referral per month. Otherwise, you will be charged $5 per month to cover basic hosting costs. Alternatively, if you provide a converted commercial referral then you’ll receive 12 months portal use and support for free.

 

For information about the conditions and how to take advantage of this offer Contact us or download a brochure.

SharePoint Starter Pack

Do you want to get your business into using SharePoint but don’t know how? Why not try our new SharePoint Starter Pack, that for a fixed price we will deliver a configured SharePoint site including training and support.

 

This is a great opportunity to start improving the productivity of your business by utilizing the tools that are available in SharePoint. Best of all it is all done for a fixed price so you know exactly how much it is going to cost. For more information download the brochure or email director@ciaops.com.

 

If you are a technology provider then you can also resell this pack and increase your revenue while introducing your customers to the benefits SharePoint can provide their business. For further information about reseller opportunities please contact the above email address as well.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Is your business ‘email qualified’?

We all make the assumption that everyone we know, including people that work for us and with us, knows how to use email, but is that really the case? Have you ever been taught how to use emails or have you simply picked it up along the way? So what’s to say that you haven’t also picked up some bad habits along the way and are simply reinforcing them constantly? Have you ever stopped to consider whether you and your business are actually using emails in the most productive and appropriate manner?

 

When a new person in your business commences, are they simply given an email address with the businesses domain attached and left to their own devices? Do you appreciate that it is now possible for that individual to send totally inappropriate emails to any place or person on the Internet? Better yet, do you appreciate that they are doing this with the business details attached? So all that hard work the business has invested in building up goodwill and reputation can be dashed by an employee who has been there less than a week.

 

Does you business help people understand when it is a appropriate to use Carbon Copies and Reply to all? Do they appreciate that anything they send via email will be retained, not only on your systems but also on whomever they send it to? Do they realise that any email information is easily searchable and can’t be recalled or deleted once sent? Do you let people send and receive personal emails from their business accounts? Most importantly, has the business ever made it clear to employees what they should and shouldn’t do? Has it explained to them the email ‘standards’ of the business, such as appropriate subject lines to be used, how they should address emails and how they should sign off? And importantly, when it maybe more appropriate to speak directly with the person rather than using email. Probably not.

 

It is amazing to think that email is probably the most used tool in business today and yet there is next to no training on how it should be used. There are next to no business standards about what is appropriate or acceptable usage. There is next to no understanding that information in emails that leaves the business from anyone, provides a direct reflection of that business in the minds of the receiver, wherever that may be. There is next to no effort or investment placed into the idea of using emails to improve the productivity of the business. Strange isn’t it? When businesses spend so much money on getting their corporate logo and stationery right, proof reading any document that leaves the business but almost no care is placed on what impact emails have inside and outside the organization.

 

We still seem to see email is a toy. We fail to treat it as a real business tool, although it has been that for a long time now. The most likely reason is that email transcends our lives. We use email to correspond with friends, family, strangers and business colleagues. What we have failed to appreciate is that the context in which we use email is very, very important. Businesses need to be mindful of this fact and should be reinforcing the correct context to its staff at all times. Email, like most technology is a tool. Used effectively it can garner great efficiencies. Used inappropriately it can not only be a weight dragging productivity down, it has the potential to cause real problems for any business.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Are you a bargain?

How easily do you give away your time and attention? Have you ever considered the cost of obtaining your time and attention? I’ll bet that most people give it away for next to nothing.

 

If you pass a colleague and they ask you for $100 the first thing that you’re going to ask them is probably, “What for?”. However, if someone comes to you and wants to interrupt you most people allow it automatically, for no charge. Even worse, it doesn’t even have to be a person that gets your time and attention for next to nothing, it can be a machine.

 

By default what happens when a new email arrives? Your machine goes ‘ding’ and you may see something flash on the screen. That’s your machine interrupting you. Most people typically stop what they are doing and like the ‘Pavlovian dog’ go and check to see what the email is about Problem is, the ‘ding’ isn’t very smart is it? Any email that arrives will solicit the same response from your computer. Sure, you may get a small preview, but does that actually prevent you from checking it? In most cases it makes it more likely because you want to see the whole message! Human beings are curious creatures. So, you’ve now allowed anyone, anywhere at anytime to interrupt you. It could be your boss, your partner, your mother or a spammer, it does matter. They all make the computer go ‘ding’ and obtain your attention. Should they all have the same access and priority? How cheap are you?

 

Wanna actually get something done? Maybe its time to challenge the defaults you currently accept. Why does your email program have to check email every 5 minutes? Maybe 15, 30 or even 60 is more productive. Here’s a radical thought, set the defaults to ‘manual’ so you can check the email when YOU choose! Why do you need to be notified of every email the instant it arrives? Why do you allow your machine to interrupt you with noises, flashing signs and the like when most of what you receive in email does not warrant immediate instant attention. You are giving low priority stuff much greater priority than it deserves. How cheap are you?

 

Don’t believe me? Try turning off all the notifications and increasing the retrieve times for email. Better yet, try a morning when you have something important to do, even a few hours, without opening your email program at all and see how much more you get done. If it works then maybe you’ve become too cheap and need to re-evaluate the value of your time and attention, because guess what? They’re far more valuable than you think, because they’re FINITE!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy chappy

I’m proud to say that I’ve recently passed the SBS 2008 configuration exam and can add another Technology Specialist qualification to my CV.

MCTSrgb_1107_2_600A8B36

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New subscriber benefit

I am happy to announce that all subscribers to my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide will now receive a free supported hosted SharePoint site for testing and demonstration purposes. There are limitations on the account but it is designed to give subscribers the ability to learn about SharePoint v3 with direct email support from myself.

 

Subscribers may also elect to use their site as a way to demonstrate the benefits of SharePoint to their clients and businesses while all the time receiving direct email support from myself. It will also give subscribers a better feel for the performance and limitations of hosted SharePoint solutions.

 

I also take the opportunity to clarify that the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide is not merely a book. It is firstly access to a vast body of information about SharePoint that continues to be updated regularly. It is access to a DVD containing downloads, documents, videos, programs and more all focused on SharePoint that again is updated regularly. It also provides email support from myself around issues concerning SharePoint. And now the subscription also includes a supported SharePoint site with more additions coming very soon.

 

The benefits of subscription continue to grow.

Feedback is in

So I got the ‘official’ feedback from my presentation at SMBNation in October.

image_2_3A96C92A

 

image_4_3A96C92A

From the above results I’m glad to say that the vast majority of attendees were very positive on what was presented which certainly makes me happy I provided something that was relevant, applicable and interesting. You just never know doing something like SMBNation for the first time. On the other hand all these good results may have been due to the fact that I bribed everyone at the start of the session with free beer if they gave me high marks. Hmmm…So I’ll look at this as a glass half full situation and say that either I’m a good speaker or a good marketer.

Some other general comments included:

- Best presentation I attended
- Great presentation.
- This was without a doubt the BEST presentation I attended. Bring him back next year!!
- Great presentation.
- GREAT!
- Right on the mark.
- **Excellent SBS speaker--real sales opportunities
- Well done!
- Excellent!!!

 - Add a more technical track to show...nuts & bolts for some of the integration points.
- Not technical track material!! Would only recommend speaker to a colleague if in the business track.

 

I have to agree with these last two points. Firstly, I would have loved to do a more nuts and bolts examination of SharePoint and I did propose that as a topic at SMBNation but it didn’t get a run. In the end the event organizer goes with what they think is the most appealing and ‘nuts & bolts SharePoint’ didn’t appeal. Oh well, maybe next year on that score.

 

I totally agree with the second comment here about my presentation not being purely “technical” and must admit I was very concerned when my topic was flagged in the technical track upon receiving my program. I was so concerned that I contacted SMBNation directly to see whether I needed to change the content. I suppose we both took a risk running with what I had but in the end it appears the majority of people got value, so I can ask for no more.

 

In response to the last two comments and the one person who gave the presentation a negative result, I will keep trying to offering pure technical sessions on SharePoint at events as well trying to ensure they are categorized correctly in the future.

 

Remember, if you want a copy of my presentation from SMBNation you can download it from:

http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/Shared%20Documents/SMBNation2008-GS1.pdf

 

To everyone who took the time to complete their feedback I say thank you and I obviously owe you a beer!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Get the SharePoint guide before January 2009

From January 1, 2009 the price of the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide will rise to $ 299 ex for new subscribers. Now that the Guide has grown to over 1,000 pages and continues to grow every month it still represents real value (it will pay for itself in just a few billable hours I believe). The additional funds will allow me to take the Guide to the next level in the coming months. I plan to be adding plenty of new content and special deals for subscribers so get in quick before the price goes up!

You can find out more about the
Windows SharePoint Operations Guide at http://www.wssops.com. Australian orders can be made via director@ciaops.com and for international orders please go directly to the product page on SMB Books web site at http://www.smbbooks.com/products/procra01.htm where a special offer on the Guide is available.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What do you get in return?

I’ve been doing some thinking about the growth in mobile devices that allow you to not only accept phone calls but also emails. There is little doubt that these devices provide those calling or sending you direct unparalleled access to your time but let me ask what do you get in return?

Think about the ability of these devices to allow interruption to your time whenever they ring or go ‘ding – you’ve got mail’. How do you handle these demands on your time? Most people I know stop what they are doing immediately and take the call or read the email. Is this productive use of your time? Is it helping you get things done? In most cases I doubt it.

What is more precious time or money? Time. Why? Because you can never get more of it but you can always get more money. Think about the people who have access to your time right now. Right at this very moment. Who can demand you attention immediately? Does this align with the way you want it? If not then you only have yourself to blame and the method by which you allow people to gain that access is perhaps something you need to examine.

Everyone only has a limited amount of time and attention they can allocate. How you allocate this says a lot about how much you will achieve your goals. Don’t fool yourself into believing that being ‘more connected’ saves your time, the reality could be very different if you stop and take a look.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Microsoft software direct to end users

In response to the need to keep up with the likes of Google Microsoft has launched an online store according to this article.

”The Microsoft Store is a possible death knell for the practice of selling software on computer discs that buyers install on their machines”.

“The big difference is that after your payment is confirmed, you can immediately download the product to your computer."

“The Microsoft Store has the full gamut of Microsoft products, from Windows Vista to Microsoft Office and hardware such as Xbox 360 consoles and Zune MP3 music players”

Ok, so where does that leave the traditional reseller who took orders for software for customers and then bought from a distributor? Unless they are adding some value to the transaction (doubtful) then this maybe yet another example of how the world of the traditional IT reseller business is again facing change.

Although not currently here in Australia yet, it is only a matter of time. In all honesty we’ve seen it before, haven’t we? Can anyone say Dell?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Two more online videos available

I’ve done two more videos. The first is based on my recent post about locating documents in SharePoint.

 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulzMFRyroW8

and the second one is on adding a workstation to a SBS 2008 network.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sJRAdrSKX4
The reason for two so close together is that I discovered the Camtasia transition effects just after I completed the SBS 2008 video, so I couldn’t resist seeing what they looked like. By all means let me know what you think.

 

Remember you’ll find all my videos going forward at http://www.youtube.com/directorciaops and all the old ones at http://www.youtube.com/saturnalliance.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Locating documents with SharePoint

Now let’s say that you’ve heard great things about my SMBNation presentation (naturally). You also know that I have created a document on the presentation that you’d like to download. You know that it is somewhere on my Internet SharePoint site (http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au) but you aren’t exactly sure where. How do you go about locating it?

 

First step is to go to the document library on http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au since that is the obvious location for documents. To do this simply click on the Documents link on the left hand side menu under the Documents heading (just below Site FAQs):

 

image_18_75AF8681

 

When you arrive at the document library you will see a screen full of documents like so:

 

image_4_75AF8681

 

Now, you could scroll down the list of documents to see whether you can find it, however the list is sorted by document name which you don’t know. What you may suspect is that the document is large, so if you sorted the list by file size it may be at the top. How would you do this? Simply click on the File Size column header like so to reveal the sort menu for that column as shown here:

 

image_6_75AF8681

 

At the top of the menu you see an option that says Descending. If you select this the list will be reordered with the document of the largest size at the top of the list:

 

image_8_75AF8681

 

Unfortunately, you still can’t see the document you’re after. If you now click on the column header Technology, which is just to the right of File Size to display the sort menu for that column you see the following list:

 

image_10_60BE040E

 

In the list that appears you will find an entry called SharePoint. If you select this option, any document in the list that hasn’t been tagged with SharePoint will not appear. Using this option you are able to filter the display of the data based on the value in a column. You should now see:

 

image_12_60BE040E

 

The desired document is now at the top of the list and you can click on it to download. Where did the field Technology come from? It was an additional field that I added to this document library in SharePoint for exactly this reason, to assist in document location. This is what is known as ‘meta data’. With some simple additional information I am able to capture more about what is entered into SharePoint which can then be used for a variety of tasks.

 

If you need to use this type of location method with SharePoint a lot then you can create what is known as list views to display the data exactly the way you have just filtered it but without having to repeat the whole process. This needs to be performed by a SharePoint administrator so I’ll cover that in a later post.

 

Now, there is of course a simpler way to locate the document based on the fact you know it was an SMBNation presentation. Simply go to the document library and enter the word SMBNation into the search box at the top right of the screen like so and click the search:

 

image_14_60BE040E

 

and the results should appear like;

 

image_16_60BE040E

 

and as you can see the required document is at the top of the list.

 

So in summary, I hope that you can see that it is easy with SharePoint to locate a document by using the inbuilt sort and filtering capability. Even easier is the fact that SharePoint is able to index all content stored inside it.

Not all businesses are affected by the downturn

 

From http://business.smh.com.au/business/mafia-untouched-by-crisis-20081112-5msk.html

 

“The Italian mafia, the country's organised crime network and biggest enterprise, has not been affected by the global economic crisis, a report by an Italian business association said.”

So how come legitimate businesses are so affected?

 

“The mafia has a turnover of 130 billion euros ($248.71 billion) - surpassing any other Italian enterprise in 2008 - and a profit approaching 70 billion euros ($133.92 billion),”

Who says crime doesn’t pay?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Uploading multiple documents in SharePoint

In a previous post I indicated that to enable the ability to upload multiple documents to SharePoint v3 you need to have MS Office installed. I neglected to show the interface to allow this once you selected the option to upload multiple documents. So here it is:

 

image_2_7C28B861

 

Once you have selected the Upload Multiple documents from the document library menu you will be presented with the window you see above. Simply navigate through the folder list on the left and select the desired files on the right by placing a check in the box in front of the filename. When you then hit the OK button all these files will be transferred into the current document library.

SBS Course starts tomorrow

My Introduction to SBS course starts tomorrow at Macquarie Community College begins tomorrow. For more information or to enrol please go to:

 

http://www.macquarie.nsw.edu.au/index.php?action=course&course_action=detail&code=408M297

 

It is held over 3 weeks and will give you a better understanding about what SBS is and how you can achieve the best results from the product. You’ll learn how to set it up, configure and administer SBS. Although the course is focused on SBS 2003 there will be content covering SBS 2008.

 

So if you want to learn more about SBS I encourage you to attend.

Handy add-ons

I’ve always got my eye out for SharePoint add-ons that improve the functionality of SharePoint for user and administrators. Here are some that cater for both.

 

One really nice thing to have is the ability to know exactly what’s been added or changed on a SharePoint site in a single location. By default, if something new is added to a SharePoint site you’ll see the !NEW icon only next to the entry but wouldn’t it be nice if we could see all changes, from all parts of a SharePoint site in one location? Well now you can.

 

image_2_2B97DA20

 

As you can see from the above screen shot I’ve added the What’s New web part to my site’s front page so I can see at a glance exactly what’s been added or changed by date. The web part also supports some customization, so in the above case I also know which SharePoint user made the change. Now, I can click on either the changed item or the location to be taken straight there. Really handy I reckon.

 

The second add-on extends the normal functionality of the Site Actions menu which can only be seen by SharePoint administrators and appears in the top right of the screen as shown below.

 

image_8_2B97DA20

 

With this add-on you can see that the Site Actions menu now has a whole lot more options including List Settings, Feature Settings, Users and Permissions, etc. Access to all of these options is still available by the normal means in SharePoint but with this add on installed an administrator can get to then much quicker.

 

How to install and configure both of these add-ons will be available in the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide in December. You may also be interested to know that come December the Guide will now exceed 1,000 pages! Best of all, each month it continues to grow, add up to date and handy information that will help improve any SharePoint deployment. If you are planning to deploy SharePoint for your business or for customers then the Guide is a great investment and will save you hours and hours because I’ve done all the hard work for you. Because it’s a subscription the information just keeps growing and growing each month. All that for less than a few hours work. Why would you try and do it yourself? Be smart and get the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest we forget

Eighty years today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh month 1918, the guns feel silent on the First World War. It was the conflict that heralded the realization that future battlefields would be dominated by technology that could and main more effectively than any human. However, in the end the reasons for war are simply human. We have no one to blame than ourselves for the misery that has been wrought across the ages. We like to consider ourselves ‘enlightened’ yet the excuses to go to war continue.

 

Let us hope that in this new age of re-examination of issues that face society, the reasons why our world has fallen apart so quickly we remember those who never had these opportunities and died for a cause they believed in far from home. Today we pause to remember the almost 60,000 Australian killed and 150,000 wounded in the First World War alone, along with everyone else affected by war. May their memory live on and may we never forget them or the sacrifices they made under conditions we hope never to witness again.

 

Lest We Forget

http://www.ciaops.com/guides/battle/ – Australian Battlefields of World War 1 (France)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Uploading multiple documents to SharePoint

One of the most common questions that people ask after they decide to deploy SharePoint is “Can I upload my existing documents to SharePoint”. The answer is “Yes”. The very next question is “Do I have to do them one at a time?”. The answer is “No, provided you have Office software installed on the machine you plan to use to upload”.

 

If you access a SharePoint document library from a machine without Office installed and select Upload from the menu you will only see one option like so:

 

image_4_403329D2

 

However, if you repeat the process using a machine that has Office installed you will see two menu options like so:

 

image_6_403329D2

 

Typically, you’ll get the first option when you access SharePoint from a server machine, thinking you can do the uploads from there. Better option is to go to a workstation and use the Upload Multiple Documents so you can transfer your documents up to SharePoint in one hit.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Did you know?

Here’s an interesting presentation that should make you think. It perhaps gives you some perspective on how fast the technology is moving as well as how its effect on millions (or in the case of China and India, billions) is truly going to be.

 

I admit that I have heard/read these stats but the way they are presented here is pretty groovy.

 

http://www.onlinepc.com.au/movies/Technology.wvx

 

Now, I really like the above presentation (which has a great sound track from Fat Boy Slim). After doing some Google’ing I found a few similar presentations on YouTube if the hi-hop-rock ain’t for you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHWTLA8WecI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2U

Friday, November 7, 2008

I didn’t expect to be asked that

I was recently talking with someone and they started quizzing me about Microsoft Azure. Don’t know what that is? Well, it is Microsoft’s recently announced ‘Windows in the cloud’. Although it is still early days I get the impression that it far more developed that most people think. Anyway, back to my conversation. What was amazing was this person wasn’t a ‘techie’ by any stretch of the imagination, yet it was very clear that they had already started trying to work out how their world would change with the advent of Azure.

 

Another recent conversation around technology stopped me in my tracks again recently. Someone else asked me about Windows 7. Again, even though it is in pre-beta the word is already out on the street. People are wondering what are the benefits and what it will means for them.

 

I find of these conversations extremely interesting because it highlights a number of issues. Firstly, IT is now mainstream. No longer is the knowledge locked up with geeks, people use technology everyday and they want to stay informed. Secondly, the power of the Internet means that their ability to be informed (correctly or incorrectly) is much greater than it ever was. There are so many businesses who make money from disseminating information, it isn’t long before everyone’s heard the rumour for some dark obscure corner of the globe. Thirdly, it demonstrates that people want to know what the direction of technology is and how it is going to affect them? How can they benefit from what’s not only available now but also in the future.

 

Gone are the days when the ‘techie’ was the only who knew what was going on. Now days, everybody is far more informed and interested. If you are in the technology game then you are going to have to work hard to stay up to date because it’s all changing so rapidly now. Ignoring or denying the change is likely to be painful but not nearly as painful as not altering strategy to accommodate. When the ‘average’ person in the street starts asking about cloud computing you know it is here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Further evidence of the coming of cloud computing

Microsoft announcement 31 October 2008

“As part of a strategic companywide shift toward embracing web-based solutions, Microsoft today announced plans to deliver Office Web applications – lightweight versions of Office – through web browsers.”


and


“Microsoft will deliver Office Web applications - lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote - through a browser. With these new applications, people can use a browser to create, edit, and collaborate on Office documents.”


and


“we will offer Office Web applications as a hosted subscription service and through existing volume licensing agreements.”


and


“Together, these new tools enable new styles of community-based collaboration where multiple people can contribute simultaneously to various work through the internet.”


So there you have it. Before long Office will be available from the cloud as subscription from Microsoft. Interestingly, it is my understanding that the same web technology will be available to be deployed inside an organization. Thus, instead of Office on every workstation, you’ll have a server providing Office Web products. Won’t know until the product ships but that wouldn’t be half bad I reckon.


If Microsoft are making a “strategic companywide shift toward web-based solutions” are you? Even if you are only dipping your toe in the water, that’s better than nothing! If you need assistance with what’s available or what suits your business then just contact me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Great cloud apps

Here are some applications available in the cloud that I have come across recently and think are pretty good.

Slide Rocket -  www.sliderocket.com


A PowerPoint competitor. It has some really nice effects. There is a free version that does all the basics but for a fee (which I think is a little pricey) you get additional features like being able to webcast your presentation.

Zamzarwww.zamzar.com


A great online tool that allows you to quickly and easily convert between different formats. Great when you need to quickly convert Office 2007 back to Office 2003 and you can’t access the software but it does so much more!

iDrive - www.idrive.com


With this free software you can store up to 2GB of data in the cloud, encrypted with your own key. Even better for US$50 pa you can store 150GB. The iDrive software allows you to configure scheduled backups, appears as a ‘standard’ drive on your Windows machine and can even recover deleted files. Best of all it uses SSL to transfer the data and encrypts it in storage. So what’s the problem with storing data in the cloud now?

Picnik  www.picnik.com


Use this site to edit your digital images. For most people this site is going to do everything they require without the need for expensive desktop software. If you pay a small annual fee you get even more features. You can even work on images sorted in places like Picasa, Flickr, etc (which I note are also in the cloud).

These are but a few but I’ve certainly added them to my list of favourites. This stuff is just better and better all the time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Just gotta love VoIP

A while back I converted to naked ADSL. This meant that I could do away with the standard phone line and the normal line rental. Problem was now no normal phone line to make voice calls. Solution was to get an ATA and enable VoIP over the new naked ADSL broadband connection. Apart from not having to pay line rental I’m only billed on the calls that I make, which are at a cheaper rate than Telstra anyway. So I’m miles in front.

 

Now the other day I was umming and erring as to whether I should join in a conference call to the US in which I was interested. I finally decided that it would be worth it so I dialled in using my VoIP phone line. I was expecting to pay $10-15 for the call which lasted about 45 minutes. Boy was I surprised when I received the bill.

 

image_6_0B479E77

 

As you can see, that 45 minute phone call to the US cost a total of 91 cents! Yes 91 cents, even at 8.30am in the morning. Now I’m sure there are even better plans than that available but I gotta say I’m impressed and if I was a traditional phone company I’d be shaking my boots when VoIP becomes mainstream. In these economic times VoIP can really save you some bucks.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Intro to Search Server Express 2008 video

I have just completed a new video about what I believe if one of the most “unknown” technologies from Microsoft – Search Server Express 2008. It provides such a great capability and is a FREE download from Microsoft but no-one seems to know about it. I really can’t fathom this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dkycMN4RsE

The video will take you through the basic installation and setup procedure that should allow you to get Search Server Express 2008 running in your business. This is also another example of a technology that you can virtualize quickly and easily.

 

Search Server Express 2008 will allow to to search any SharePoint site, network file share, Exchange Public folder and web site in your organization. It is based on the same technology used for SharePoint so it looks like a SharePoint site. So if you have network shares that are chock full of all sorts of files in which no one can find what they are looking for, rather than going through the whole share file by file simply drop in Search Server Express 2008 and index the suckers. Once indexed you’ll be able to search the contents of most of them (Office, HTML, Text, Acrobat, etc) so to find all the business information you need now all you need to do is like what you do on the Internet – run a search.

 

Search Server Express 2008 is featured in my Windows Sharepoint Operations Guide (http://www.wssops.com) which has a whole section dedicated to installing and configuring the product.

 

Sure Search Server Express 2008 isn’t prefect. I’d like to be able to integrate directly into SharePoint search, I’d like to be able to have external results displayed from Google rather than Live.com but these are small gripes compared to the functionality your receive. I have configured Search Server Express 2008 to run previously and it was invaluable assistance when attempting to location information inside a document I ‘knew I had created’.

 

If your or your customers business is struggling to find digital information in a maze of network shares and public folders why not drop in Search Server Express 2008? For the price there isn’t much out there that can beat it.