Thursday, May 28, 2009

Intro to SBS

Now that Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 is fading into history (slowly, I’ll admit) and I have revamped my Networking with Small Business Server course to focus on SBS 2008 I have decided to post the slides from my three part SBS 2003 course for anyone to download.

 

You’ll find them all on my SlideShare but here is a brief description of each:

 

Introduction to Small Business Server 2003 – Part 1

 

[This is the second of a three part series that covers the basics of installing, configuring and maintaining Microsoft Small Business Server 2003.

This part covers an introduction to what Small Business Server is and how to determine the best configuration. It also covers how to install the product.]

 

Introduction to Small Business Server 2003 – Part 2

 

[This is the second of a three part series that covers the basics of installing, configuring and maintaining Microsoft Small Business Server 2003.
This part focuses on configuring Small Business Server to work with users and workstations as well features like remote access.]

 

Introduction to Small Business Server 2003 – Part 3

 

[This is the third of a three part series that covers the basics of installing, configuring and maintaining Microsoft Small Business Server 2003.
This part focuses on SharePoint v2 (companyweb), Outlook Web Access, Remote Work Webplace and how to secure and troubleshoot your Small Business Server network.]

 

Now that the focus has moved to SBS 2008 I’m not going to be going back and making any changes to the SBS 2003 course, so rather than sit and gather dust in some forgotten corner of my hard drive I hope that someone out there obtains some benefit from what I’ve posted like all the students who have attended my course over the years.

Dead tired

I’m always interested in things that can improve personal productivity and well being. That’s why I was fascinated by a TV documentary (in 2 Episodes) called Dead Tired. You can view the first episode online by simply clicking here.

 

It examines the effects of sleep deprivation and how that contributes to a whole range of aliments including obesity, high blood pressure and so on. It also demonstrates that you are twice as likely to make mistakes when you miss out on even a small amount of sleep.

 

One of the most interesting experiments they ran was with putting someone with sleep deprivation behind a wheel of a car for 2 two hours while monitoring them. They found that for 25 minutes in that 2 hours the driver was actually asleep! In some cases their brain was asleep even if their eyes were open. Scary stuff.

 

The show demonstrates how chronic lack of sleep has a direct impact on the physiology of the body including reduced heart function and increased chance of diabetes. Another interesting statistic is that 20% of the worlds workforce is composed of shift workers and these people generally fail to get enough sleep. This has direct impact on their lives AND the work they perform, which potentially affects a lot more people.

 

In many cases these days we generally overlook the effects of sleep deprivation and consider it weak to need ‘sleep’. However, studies show that individuals who have better sleep patterns are much more productive and far less error prone. So stop and think about it. If you don’t feel 100% maybe you aren’t getting enough sleep? If you want to see if more does make a difference try getting at least 7-8 hours of good sleep for a week. I guarantee you’ll notice the difference.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Amazonian

I just got an email from Lulu.com, where my Overcoming Email Frustrations with Outlook 2007 book is listed, telling me:


 Wow, on Amazon you say! So I checked it out and sure enough there it is:
 
Pretty cool eh? Who would have ever thought? Not me certainly.

Hmmm, maybe I should get around to uploading one of my other creations. I’ve got plenty about SharePoint but I’m really keen to do something about OneNote. If you have any ideas or suggestions please let me know (director@ciaops.com).

The next trick is to see whether it actually sells more now that it is on Amazon. This I think will be a much harder task but hey it’s a start!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SBS Course starts this week

My Introduction to Small Business Server course starts this week at Macquarie Community College at Carlingford. It will run for three consecutive Thursdays from 7-9pm. It will provide an overview of the benefits of a Small Business Server network, the differences between SBS 2003 and SBS 2008, then a complete installation of product. From there the course will examine in more detail the requirements for configuring and maintaining the product as well as focus on how to ensure that your whole network is kept secure.

 

The course is designed for those who are considering a server or those who already have Small Business Server in their business. The course includes notes and is help in a friendly lecture style format which encourages discussion and questions.

 

If you are interested you can still enrol with the college. For more details see:

 

http://www.macquarie.nsw.edu.au/index.php?action=course&course_action=detail&code=209M297

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Issues with SharePoint SP2

For anyone who’s applied SP2 to a SharePoint Server site (not Windows SharePoint Services tho’) you should check “Attention: Important Information on Service Pack 2” from Microsoft. Basically if you have an affected installation your license has been reset to a 180 day trial. There are some work around for some versions of SharePoint but there is also a patch on the way.

 

Windows SharePoint v3 is unaffected but Search Server Express 2008 is affected. Don’t understand why as Search Server Express is also a free download from Microsoft, but given this is the work from Microsoft you need to ensure that you install any forthcoming patch so the product won’t expire.

 

Hopefully not a major issue but certainly something that would worry some very large SharePoint installations. Luckily as SBS 2008 is powered by Windows SharePoint there is no issue.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wiki home page

When you create wiki in Windows SharePoint the first thing you normally do is delete the two default items that SharePoint creates for you. You then start populating the wiki with your own items as show below.

 

image_2_6E6D530E

 

This means that when you click on the link for your wiki you will be taken to a list of items like that show above. However, what happens if you want to come to a landing page and from there select different options to perhaps make it less confusing for users?

 

image_4_6E6D530E

 

All you need to do is create a new item in your wiki called ‘Home’, like shown above. Now whenever anyone click on the link for the wiki library they will see the ‘Home’ page displayed.

 

image_6_6E6D530E

 

If you click on the name of the wiki in the breadcrumb navigation at the top of the page (in this case Knowledge Base) you will again see all the items in your wiki.

 

So to create a default landing page for your wiki simply create an item called ‘Home’.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Microsoft My Phone

Here’s something new from Microsoft:

 

Microsoft® My Phone mirrors information between your phone and your online account. This enables you to:

•    Backup and restore your phone's information to a password-protected web site
•    Access and update your contacts and appointments from your web account
•    View and download photos to share with family and friends

 

Try it out (You'll need a Windows Mobile device)

 

I found that if you are already using ActiveSync to Exchange server then you can’t sync your emails, calendar and contacts to My Phone but you can do other stuff like text messages, photos, documents, etc (just watch the data transfer charges). My Phone also currently give you 200MB free space into which you can store your information.

 

I think My Phone is really handy, especially for those who don’t sync to Exchange server but it would be nice if you could sync to Windows Live or SkyDrive wouldn’t it? But hey, it’s only beta software so maybe in future versions?

Distractions

Just read “In Defense of Distraction” from the New York Magazine, which although 8 pages in length,is a very good article on how distractions are a real problem and how human beings are programmed to respond to distractions. Clearly, we will always have to cope with distractions but learning how to control them is the biggest secret we need to learn as we encounter more and more every day.

 

Here are some pertinent quotes from the article:

 

“Q. Are we living through a crisis of attention?

“Yes,” he says. “And I think it’s going to get a lot worse than people expect.” He sees our distraction as a full-blown epidemic—a cognitive plague that has the potential to wipe out an entire generation of focused and productive thought. He compares it, in fact, to smoking. “People aren’t aware what’s happening to their mental processes,” he says, “in the same way that people years ago couldn’t look into their lungs and see the residual deposits.”

 

“Over the last twenty years, Meyer and a host of other researchers have proved again and again that multitasking, at least as our culture has come to know and love and institutionalize it, is a myth.”

 

“The only time multitasking does work efficiently, Meyer says, is when multiple simple tasks operate on entirely separate channels—for example, folding laundry (a visual-manual task) while listening to a stock report (a verbal task). But real-world scenarios that fit those specifications are very rare.”

 

“Since every interruption costs around 25 minutes of productivity, we spend nearly a third of our day recovering from them. We keep an average of eight windows open on our computer screens at one time and skip between them every twenty seconds.”

 

It is interesting how distraction is compared with smoking, in that, we as yet don’t full comprehend the impact it maybe having not only in our jobs but also in other areas of our lives. The worry is that everyday we face more and more distractions that are being targeted more effectively to the way our brain’s process information. So not only are we facing a greater number of distraction but we are also facing distractions that are more effectively targeted to distract us. What chance do we have?

 

We can clearly take numerous steps to tame our technology and prevent it from distracting us but in the end only you can make that change. Only you can configure the technology the way you wish to operate. Only you can take steps to discipline yourself to avoid distraction. As the article says:

 

“if you allow that to be squandered by other people who are as bored as you are, it’s gonna say a lot about who you are as a person.”

 

Our brain’s are programmed to enjoy all the benefits of distraction but, left to it’s own devices (like overeating) there can be serious consequences that may not at first be all that obvious. Read the article and have a think about whether you are letting distractions, especially from technology, control your life. If you are honest you may find they are more in control that you thought.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nightmare job

After a while we all get frustrated with our job. For many this leads to greater frustration because our work is now so much a part of our lives and our personality. Here’s a example of how frustrating a job can be:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1TcJKFB0sY

See, it’s all about perspective isn’t it? When people come to me and tell me about frustrations with their current situation the first thing I ask them is ‘What do you want to do?’. Most are dumb founded. All they have thought about is getting ‘out’ of the current situation but many have not thought about what they actually ‘want’ to do. Even fewer have a documented plan for what they want to achieve. Many claim they ‘know’ what they want but unless they actually commit something to paper they are a very long way from achieving it.

 

See if you can answer the question ‘What do I want to do?’ and then start achieving it. Life’s too short for regrets.

Productivity without email

When you read “When the inbox is on the outer” you again get the sense that email is doing our productivity far more harm than good. Quotes from the article like:

 

“One study from Hewlett-Packard, for instance, found that workers constantly distracted by email and phone calls suffer a temporary 10-point fall in their IQ - more than twice that found in studies of the impact of smoking a joint.”

 

“A recent study from AOL suggested that many people are increasingly addicted to email, with researchers reporting that 10-50 per cent of work time is spent using email, which is having a huge impact on productivity.”

 

“Another study, cited in Gail Fann Thomas' 2006 article "Re-conceptualising email Overload" in the Journal of Business and Technical Communication, found that the average worker had 2483 inbox messages and 858 filed ones.”

 

demonstrate the worrying trend that we have become consumed by our emails. I ask however, why this is so? As “When the inbox is on the outer” illustrates tools such as wikis are a very effective method of providing team collaboration. This means rather than having all you ideas bouncing around in email they are stored on a shared space that people contribute to.

 

Wiki’s are one of the major new features in Windows SharePoint v3 and although not the greatest example of a wiki on the market it does make a great starting place to start accumulating business information. With a SharePoint wiki you can create and edit documents online without anything but a browser. You can track changes, check in/out items as well as link to other items quickly and easily.

 

A major use of SharePoint wiki’s is to store technical knowledge. Things like how to’s, procedures, policies and more are great examples of where a wiki can reduce email. Rather than having ideas bounce between different parties they can all be stored and updated in one central location for all to see. The great thing about SharePoint is that all the information entered into the wiki is automatically indexed making it simple to search for the information required.

 

Another fantastic tool for sharing information is Microsoft OneNote. It’s simple yet powerful features allow you to save just about any sort of digital information. You can easily create additional pages if required, share with people remotely, search the contents and more. If you are collaborating with a number of people using OneNote you can quickly and easily see the changes they have made in last day, week, month and so on. If you haven’t had a good look at OneNote I recommend you take some time and have a look at what is possible.

 

Inside the information age in which we live it is amazing to find people not implement more productive methods inside their business. Do they want to work longer? Do they want less free time? It really doesn’t make sense to me when tools like SharePoint and OneNote are available so cheaply (if not free the case of Windows SharePoint). If you could save just 1 hour a day being more productive, that’s 240 hours a year which is about 30 working days a year (assuming 8 hours a work day). That’s almost an extra month a year! What sort of advantage could you obtain by doing things in 11 months where everyone else takes 12?

 

Remember time is our most precious commodity, because we can never create more. The best we can do is use what we have effectively and efficiently. The technology is available. The price is right. Just because we do something the same way every day doesn’t mean it can’t be done better, we just need to take the time to find out whether it can. You’d always want to invest your money in the highest rate of return you could right? Why don’t you do the same with your time?

Friday, May 15, 2009

SharePoint 2007 Unleashed review

Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Unleashed by Colin Spence

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was disappointed that this book was more focused on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) than Windows SharePoint Services (WSS). I also believe it includes things that shouldn't be included in a SharePoint book like Windows Services Update Server (WSUS), Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) setting up a VPN etc. Given they are all applicable in some way to a SharePoint installation I believe if the book is about SharePoint it should be focused in SharePoint.

Also like many books on SharePoint I felt that this book simply covered what is in the menu options without venturing further beyond. Again, like many other books on SharePoint I believe that it has attempted to cover too much material and as such doesn't get to the depth that would make it a worthwhile read.

In summary I would only rate this as an average book on SharePoint but below par if you were only looking at Windows SharePoint Services (WSS). I think many of these type of book about SharePoint need to go it more detail about actually creating content to solve a problem. Even if it is only as an example it greatly improves the readers knowledge of the product, rather than simply working through all the menu options.
View all my reviews.

Beyond hype

Here’s some interesting current thinking on Twitter.


If we accept the above ‘Hype Curve’ to be true then where does Twitter adoption now lie? I kinda think that we are still heading down towards the Trough of Disillusionment. Now whether Twitter does pull out from this dive seems to be what all the talk is about. Will it reach a bottom and then start actually being used for improved productivity?

So where does the future for Twitter lie? It seems clear now that it has past the hype phase and turned the corner down to disillusionment. As I said before it will be interesting to see if it manages to pull out of this dive or simply ploughs into the deck in a flaming wreck.

Bottom line? I was the owner of Twitter, now is probably a really good time to sell!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Now that’s interesting

Was reading the following from Microsoft:

 

Makeover for Groove: SharePoint Workspace 2010!

Heads up – Groove is getting a new name as of the coming release of Office 2010.  Please welcome SharePoint Workspace 2010!

 

The name makeover is in concert with the direction the product is going.  SharePoint Workspace will provide easy access to SharePoint content (or content from any server that implements the publicly documented protocols) in an effort to provide a seamless online/offline experience.

SharePoint Workspace 2010 will be easier to deploy and easier to manage, and it supports a new set of scenarios to help Office and SharePoint users be more productive.  It will also make it easier for IT folks to implement a consistent information strategy based on SharePoint technology throughout the organization.

There will be changes in the way the product is delivered, as well – e.g. SharePoint Workspace (and OneNote, for that matter) will be added to the Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 release.  Keep an eye peeled for further announcements from Microsoft on new product plans for Office.

 

You sort of get the impression that Groove will become an offline reader for SharePoint which would be really great. I always thought that Groove was kinda off on a path of its own and really wondered whether it would survive. However, incorporating it into the SharePoint makes a lot of sense.

 

Can’t wait to get hold of all the new things coming down the line with Office 2010, now more than ever!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SMBITPro presentation

Did a quick SharePoint presentation last night to the Sydney SMBITPro group. I have posted the slidedeck up on my SlideShare for download.

 

Apart from the six secrets of selling SharePoint which I have covered in a previous blog post I made the following analogy:

 

If

Word = is a tool for entering information

Excel = is a tool for calculating information

Browser = is a tool for viewing information

Outlook = is a tool for sending information

Google = is a tool for finding information

 

Then

 

SharePoint = is the one tool to rule them all

 

Thus

 

SharePoint is Lord of the Tools!

 

Silly I know but a good way to pitch it to clients who don’t appreciate what SharePoint can do for them.

 

As always, if you have some feedback I’d love to hear via director@ciaops.com.

Office 2010

Seems to me that the big thing that Microsoft has learnt from Vista is that it needs to spend more time marketing its products in a creative way (e.g. like Apple). A new version of Office is due soon, known as Office 2010, and includes a refresh of all the standard Office applications and a new version of SharePoint (v4.0).

 

According to this blog post they plan to make a technical preview available to those who sign up. To do so go to http://www.office2010themovie.com/ where you’ll also see some of the new marketing Microsoft is producing around the release. Given that Office is one of their largest cash cows it makes sense. Anyway, watch the ‘movie preview’ and sign up for a chance to get on the technical preview.

 

Speaking of SharePoint 2010 Microsoft has also released some preliminary info about the requirements to run. You can these at the following blog post but the major points include:

 

  • SharePoint Server 2010 will be 64-bit only.
  • SharePoint Server 2010 will require 64-bit Windows Server 2008 or 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2.
  • SharePoint Server 2010 will require 64-bit SQL Server 2008 or 64-bit SQL Server 2005.

     

    So if you are about to build a SharePoint server make sure you do it all on a 64 bit platform so you can upgrade when the time comes.

  • Future videos

    If you take a trip over to Microsoft Office Labs you find some really interesting videos about potential ways that we might be using technology in the future. They are all worth a look but I would recommend you especially have a look at Productivity Future Vision.


    While you are at Microsoft Office Labs also have a look at Canvas for OneNote. I’m a real OneNote fan and I really like the added functionality this brings to the product and hope they incorporate it soon. Have a look at some of the video demonstrations to get a better idea of how different an interface can be. If you really like what it does you can download and start using it.

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    Selling SharePoint

    I’m giving a SharePoint presentation at the upcoming Sydney SMBITPro meeting. Part of that presentation will be about the ‘Six secrets of selling SharePoint’. As such I have created a short document covering this document that you can download from here.

     

    In summary when looking to implement a SharePoint solution remember the following:

     

    - Start small.
    - Solve a problem.
    - Keep it simple.
    - Seek a champion.
    - Show the possibilities.
    - Search.

     

    For more details download the document (in PDF format) or view it below and let me know what you think.

    Future of email

    Came across an interesting forecast on email. “Email Statistics Report, 2009-2013” from the Radicati Group contains some interesting numbers:

     

    The number of worldwide email users is projected to increase from over 1.4 billion in 2009 to almost 1.9 billion by 2013.

     

    a 36% increase in users but

     

    Worldwide email traffic will total 247 billion messages per day in 2009. By 2013, this figure will almost double to 507 billion messages per day. 

     

    So the amount of email you receive, on average is going to double in the next four years. What will that mean for your productivity? If you haven’t taken steps to limit the interruptions that emails can cause then you are going to get interrupted twice as much and only get half as much work done logic would seem to dictate.

     

    The message is that if your emails are out of control now they are only going to get worse so it’s never too late to start looking at you system of email processing. The first is to configure your email program to prevent interruptions by turning off all alarms that activate when a new email arrives. From there you should spend time learning the feature of your email program like using message rules, categorizing and search. The more time you invest in learning your email program the better you can make it work for you. Too many people simply use their email program with its default configuration which may be fine for some IT programming guru somewhere but isn’t for ‘normal’ people.

     

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that ‘you will’ get around to dealing with all those email in your inbox one day. Unless you decide to take control of your email then you are never going to get to the bottom of you inbox and the situation will only get worse as email volumes increase. For more information about working effectively with emails see www.doemailless.com.

    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    Oops

    Chalk up another win for the bad guys. If you read “Computer spies breach fighter jet project” you’ll find the following:

     

    “In the case of the fighter-jet program, the intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems, officials say, potentially making it easier to defend against the craft.”

    Yup, you read that right, 7TB of data. Roughly 7,000GB! Where from? The Pentagon no less. You have also gotta love this:

     

    “The spies inserted technology that encrypts the data as it's being stolen; as a result, investigators can't tell exactly what data has been taken”

     

    Talk about a “prefect crime”!

     

    What is clear these days is that the latest developments in technology are not only being used for good but also bad. Like most tools, the Internet is neutral but it provides a platform that can be used in many different ways, which many people seem to overlook in their rush to get systems ‘online’.

     

    As the standard law of computer security goes:

     

    Q. How many vulnerabilities do you have to defend against?

    A. EVERY SINGLE ONE

     

    Q. How many vulnerabilities does someone need to find to exploit your system?

    A. ONE

     

    The odds are certainly not in your favour. That’s why you have to keep working so hard to keep the bad guys out but with odds like that do we ever really stand a chance? It certainly doesn’t seem so does it?

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    BPOS links

    Here are some handy Microsoft Business Productivity Online Service (BPOS) links that I have found and reviewed lately:

     

    - Microsoft Online Services FAQs: covers some of the most technical questions asked about BPOS.

     

    - Migrate to Microsoft Online Services: This document describes how to migrate your on-premise Exchange Server mailboxes and POP3 and IMAP4 mailboxes to Exchange Online.

     

    - About Using Your Domain with Microsoft Online Services: If your company has registered an Internet domain name, you can add that domain to Microsoft Online Services.

     

    - Microsoft Online Services Trial Guide: Step-by-step instructions for setting up and using a trial account for the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite from Microsoft Online Services.

     

    - Microsoft Online Services Team Blog

     

    There is plenty of information out there and in some cases probably too much. As I work through what I find I’ll post up what I think has the most value.

    Complaint handling

    Every business get complaints, whether they be from customers, suppliers or employees. The question is what processes do you have in place to deal with these? Are they handled in an ad hoc or a structured way? Are they reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that there are no fundamental flaws in business processes? How are the resolutions communicated to those who raised the complaint as well as others?

     

    I would suggest that there aren’t many businesses that have a complaint handling system in place. We have all experienced making a complaint and then failing to have that complaint addressed or resolved to our satisfaction. However, if you have ever dealt with a business that did have an effective complaint system then you can probably appreciate how it may have actually increased your loyalty to that business. Why? Because you were treated with respect. Your concern was taken seriously, acted upon and you received timely communication as to its resolution. Unfortunately, these types of experiences seem to be few and far between these days.

     

    Think about what processes you currently have in place to handle the whole complaint process. How easy is it for the complaint to be recorded in the first place? What steps are in place for it to be routed to the correct person? How can its progress be communicated to all parties, especially the person who made the complaint? How are the resolutions to complaints documented and made available for later reference? After any complaint how can your systems be reviewed to prevent any reoccurrence?

     

    The cost of obtaining new customers is far high than retaining existing ones. Complaint handling should not be seen as a burden but as a chance to not only build customer loyalty but improve you internal systems. In many cases you can’t see the issues with your products and services because you are too close. That being so, your customers are in the best place to provide you with feedback (good and bad) as to how well these systems are delivering on their promises. Before you go and consider adding to these systems take a look at how you handle problems that may arise with them.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    Killer app

    I’ve been doing some more playing with Microsoft Business Productivity Online Services (good old BPOS for short) and I reckon I know what is going to be the killer app for the small to medium business. Firstly, let me cover a few other nice things I’ve discovered about BPOS recently.



    The first is the Single Sign On (SSO) tool that comes with BPOS. Basically, you install it on your workstation, log into it once and it logs you into all your BPOS applications. Not only that it will configure the local applications for your use automatically. Things like Outlook get configured to allow seamless access to Exchange in the cloud. That is nice and it is going to make it real easy for users on their desktops but that isn’t the killer app.

    Next there is SharePoint. There are some limitations around exactly what can be done with BPOS SharePoint but it is more than most customers require anyway. I tested out the ability to index PDF documents, for example, and that works fine, which is great since they are not normally indexed by default (see www.wssops.com for more info). SharePoint in the cloud is going to be huge boon for users since it is going to give them so much more functionality that what they currently have with traditional file shares. Yet that is still not the killer app in my books.

    The real killer app for the small to medium business is going to be Web Conferencing (aka Live Meeting). As part of the BPOS package they are going to be able to conduct meetings, conferences, presentations all via the web. This is not only going to save them time and money, it is going to make them appear more professional as well as greener (i.e. less travel). Once you appreciate that you can do so much more business with web conferencing you being to understand that even though the other BPOS stuff is great (and it is), Web conferencing I believe is going to tip most people in its favour.

    I can just hear it now - “Wow, you get all that – email, collaboration (SharePoint) AND web conferencing for a low monthly fee? Where do I sign?”

    Monday, May 4, 2009

    Microsoft BPOS

    What does BPOS stand for? Business Productivity Online Services or in more simple terms Microsoft’s cloud based application offerings. I’ve been keen to get my hands on this for myself and had the chance this week during some classroom training.

    If you are new to what Microsoft is planning to offer then start with:

    http://www.microsoft.com/online

    If you are a Microsoft Partner then I’d suggest you take a look at:

    http://www.discoveronlineservices.com

    There you’ll get a better idea of how much Microsoft is going to invest in cloud based services.

    To get a better idea of what these services actually look like have a look at the following video presentation:

    http://www.microsoft.com/online/demo/v2/demo.aspx

    The training was very interesting in that it gave you direct hands on with the product as the following screen shots show:


     The Home page includes overview of the services available, tasks and actions.
     
    User management screen displays what products user have as well as actions that can be performed on these users.


     Service settings page – showing the applications (Exchange and SharePoint in this case) and how resources are devoted to each. Along the top you’ll see Live Meeting and Office Communications Online are another 2 applications.



    If you now click on the SharePoint Online from the menu you’ll see the information about the SharePoint application. You can easily create a new site (via the New button) or administer the existing site via the Site settings button.



    Here’s the Migration tab that allows you to configure synchronization with an existing Windows network.

    Now BPOS will have its challenges, some of these being unique to Australia, but in general I believe this is the way things are going. Sure it may seen immature now but it is only going to improve.

    I’ll spend some time in some upcoming blogs going into a bit more detail of what I’ve found but if you are at all interested in online services from Microsoft I’d suggest that you starting looking at it now!

    Sunday, May 3, 2009

    Hypothetical no longer

    A few posts ago I spoke about the opportunity that Twitter presented in the case of recent problems with WebCentral email hosting. Well it seems that someone else was also thinking along the same lines:

     

    Cheeky Twitter campaign takes advantage of WebCentral email outage

     

    It does demonstrate that Twitter can be used effectively within a business. Also, don’t overlook the fact that just because you might not understand Twitter or use it yourself, it doesn’t mean your competitors and customers don’t. At the very least you should be monitoring the ‘twitter-verse’ for topic of interest to you and that is very easy to do, so there should be no excuses now should there?

     

    If you want more information about the WebCentral outage and its ramifications take a look at:

     

    WebCentral resellers staggered by lack of service

     

    Interesting how the article leads with:

     

    “web hoster's Exchange email server outage was a pain,”

     

    which implies that it was all Microsoft’s fault doesn’t it? Rightly or wrongly, interesting how they like to always stick the boot into the big M, eh? Guilty by association unfortunately.

    SharePoint TIFF indexing

    One of the greatest features of SharePoint and Search Server Express is their ability to provide full text searching for a range of documents. They achieve this via something known as an iFilter. Out of the box both SharePoint and Search Server will do most Microsoft Office documents and common file formats (i.e. .txt, .html, etc). With the addition of some custom iFilters and some configuration you can also get them to index Adobe PDF’s, Zip files and so on. For information on configuring these additional document types see www.wssops.com.

     

    It now seems that Microsoft has made available an iFilter for TIFF files via this download:

     

    Windows TIFF IFilter Installation and Operations Guide

     

    It would appear however that the TIFF iFilter is part of Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 rather than a separate download. None the less I think this represents some very powerful new functionality for SharePoint.

     

    How is that? Consider all the network copier/faxes that are now in businesses. Wouldn’t be nice if you could automatically have a document scanned and delivered to a SharePoint document library? Well that is already possible, but what if now all those scanned TIFF documents could also be fully searchable without any further interaction? It certainly seems that provides you are running SharePoint on Windows Server 2008 R2 and the TIFF iFilter is enabled.

     

    Imagine that, you could scan in a whole swag of you existing paper documents, have them sent directly to SharePoint where they could be saved and indexed. Also imagine if you could have all your faxes sent to a SharePoint library where again, they could be saved and indexed. The more I think about this the more powerful it becomes I reckon. Don’t forget that SBS 2008 has inbuilt faxing reception to document libraries. So if SBS 2008 R2 ever becomes available then the integration of this TIFF iFilter is going to be a huge boon I reckon.

     

    So what do you need to make this happen? Windows Server 2008 R2 with SharePoint installed. Excuse me while I go off to do some testing.

    Outta play

    With all this talk about swine flu and the mixed messages that are coming for public officials maybe it’s time to step back and have a look at the bigger picture here. What would happen if you really got sick and couldn’t work for say three weeks?

     

    If you are employed then generally that isn’t a worry since sick leave is part of the benefit of being employed, however what happens when you own and operate a small business? If the business is dependent on you and you get sick then typically the whole business stops. Unfortunately, both you customers and competitors don’t, so you would probably spend extra time worrying about these even when you are sick rather than worrying about getting better.

     

    Before you drive your car anywhere you generally know you have a functioning spare tire on board to cover unforeseen emergencies. It wouldn’t be much use to hit the road without one now would it? It is also too late to think about having a spare tire when you get a flat isn’t it? Preparation is the key but do you apply the same logic to your business?

     

    If you were to get sick or be taken out of action for a few weeks what contingency plans do you have in place? What funds do you have in place to tide you over? Whom can you rely on to help you with the work that you can no longer do? You may have income protection insurance but have you taken steps to protect your income?

     

    Prior to any personal outage you need to build a business support network, people whom you can trust to cover for you in a pinch. You want to start making those connections as soon as possible because you never know when you may need them. Next, you probably need to consider your documentation. Do you have your business and customer information recorded in such a way that it is easy for someone else to get up and running? You have have all the help in the world but if they have to keep coming back to you and asking you questions what good is that? Also, how much of a financial buffer do you have to tide you over any downturn? What do you actually need financially to pay all your business and keep the business operational?

     

    The hope is that you will never have to implement your ‘emergency’ plan but that should never stop you from working on one and working on it on a regular basis. Developing contacts, documentation and buffer fund all take time so the sooner you start building these up the more valuable they will be in the any unforeseen circumstances.

     

    When did Noah build the ark? Before the rain, before the rain.

    Friday, May 1, 2009

    One year on

    I am proud to announce that my SharePoint Operations Guide is now one year old. How it has grown from that initial release. Firstly, I want to take the opportunity to thank all the subscribers, without whom the Guide would not be where it is today. I’d especially like to thank the small group of foundation subscribers who supported me back in May 2008. Without you especially standing up early to support me, the Guide would probably still be sitting unfinished in some folder on my computer.

     

    Before I start waxing on lyrically about the Guide I’ll just let you know that in recognition of this milestone I’m making a special offering. During the month of May 2009 you can not only get Chapter 2 free but also you can purchase the Guide for only $249. That’s a throw back to the initial release price and a $50 discount over the current price. To do this simply send me an email (director@ciaops.com) and I’ll send you Chapter 2 and a special redemption code that can be used until the first of June 2009 to obtain a discount. This is a special offer that will not be repeated, so if you are interested in learning how to install, maintain and migrate SharePoint then take advantage of this offer before it expires.

     

    So a full year, wow! When I look at the Guide now I’m pretty proud of what I’ve been able to achieve. It now stands at over 1,250 pages, the DVD includes 4.2 GB of information, there is a  Linkedin group for subscribers and those interested in the Guide plus more. I’m happy to say that I’ve still got plenty of ideas for additional content so the Guide is only going to keep growing. I’ve even come up with a logo:

     

    clip_image001_2_27C460A8

     

    Looks familiar doesn’t it?

     

    I’m always keen for people to let me know what would be a good addition to the Guide or to contact me (director@ciaops.com) if they have any questions about Windows SharePoint or the Guide.

     

    Once again, I thank all the existing Guide subscribers and I look forward to working hard for another twelve months to make the Guide even better.