Sunday, June 26, 2011

Much to do about Mango

I’ve published in this blog previously annoyances I’ve had with Windows Phone 7. However, I continue to see Windows Phone 7 as a good (although currently weak) alternative in the mobile space. As such I continue to keep an eye on upcoming developments, of which I have been recently reading about the upcoming release of Windows Phone 7 known as Mango.

 

The following article:

 

http://www.winrumors.com/windows-phone-mango-overview-outlook-phone-calendar-video/

 

Is a worthwhile read about what new features are coming. The article contains two videos which cover these additions quite nicely and are well worth a minutes to view.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR5g7tHxwmQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR5g7tHxwmQ

 

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUFl4la6LdU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUFl4la6LdU

 

However by far the video that interests me the most is this one:

http://www.youtube.com/user/winrumors#p/a/u/1/4liR0XntUFA

http://www.youtube.com/user/winrumors#p/a/u/1/4liR0XntUFA

 

Why? Because it cover the Outlook and phone features which is what I need more as a business user. I also like the new calendar features which makes a big difference to using the phone. If you are a business user of Windows Phone 7 I’d suggest you watch this last video.

 

Overall it seems to me that Microsoft has taken on board the feedback it has received so far and will deliver a very worthwhile update to the platform. This certainly give me a lot more faith in platform going forward with two important caveats, that being that this update will be available soon and work on my existing device. My understanding is that the Mango update will be out in September and will work on existing devices. I’ll be keeping my finger crossed but am very happy to see the Windows Phone 7 platform advancing

Friday, June 24, 2011

Evernote for Windows 7 Phone



One of the best cloud based apps that I know and use is Evernote. It is a bit like Microsoft OneNote in that it allows your to keep notes and then have those notes sync’ed across a number of different devices.

Personally, I initially used Evernote to sync study information between my different Windows PC’s initially. However I soon graduated to using it on every device, including the web and iPad. One handy application of Evernote was when I wanted to take a screen capture of a customer’s machine I could do so directly using the web based version of Evernote. Once that was done I knew that when I returned to my office that screen shot would be synced with my desktop. Very, very handy.



The one place that Evernote was missing from was Windows Phone 7 (which I adopted recently). This made me wonder whether the Windows Phone 7 platform had a future simply because an app like Evernote is everywhere else. However, have no fear, Evernote for Windows Phone 7 is now available from the marketplace and like on all other platforms is free.

If you have never looked at Evernote then I strongly recommend you do as it is truly a great example of a cloud based application and besides that I have found that it can really improve your productivity.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Apps for when you are driving

I have come across the following two apps that function on devices that maybe of benefit to those travelling around via car.


1. Trapster.com
This app allow you to track road hazards. More importantly it allows you to track things like red light and speed cameras, school zones and mobile police radar traps. It also allows the tracking of accidents and allows you to enter anything you see to share with other users.


I think the most handy feature is the fact that it warns you both audibly and visually about an upcoming ‘hazard’. I find this very handy when travelling during school zone times as a n audible prompt that a zone is approaching can be very handy as well as saving you getting fined.


2.Waze.com
This is free GPS that works on most devices. It offers the standard stuff like turn by turn navigation but what I really like is the ‘community’ idea where users can report road issues and have that alert other users.


I have only been using this for a short while but it seems to work pretty well. I like the concept of getting ‘rewards’ and ‘points’ for contributing to the information. However, I will say that it is very easy to get distracted by trying to contribute and should only be done with caution. It is probably as bad as SMS’ing while driving so don’t do it! However, when you are stuck in traffic letting others know to avoid the area is a great concept.

What I have found that works well is to run Trapster and then let it run the background with the audio prompts about hazards while having Waze open for navigation. I’m sure there are plenty of features of both of these apps that I’ll discover over time but I gotta say they are working for me.

Easy way to install common software

I recently came across the following site:

image_2_3CA969E6

 

http://ninite.com/

What it allows via a web site is basically the ability to select from a number of common software programs (browsers, utilities etc). It then creates a single executable you can download and deploy on the local machine and it will install all those applications automatically for you.

image_4_3CA969E6

The other good things is that it is totally automated and you don’t end up with any add on toolbars or ‘commercial-ware’.

A single executable makes it pretty easy to roll out common software in a networked environment.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Office365 for SMB webinar


Confused about Office365 and how it work in the small to medium business (SMB) segment? Then this introductory webinar is for you. In it you’ll learn more about Office365 capabilities and more importantly how these map to the SMB market.

You’ll learn things like:

- How Office365 will be licensed
- What the capabilities and options of the licenses are
- Picking the right Office365 options for the SMB environment
- The real world implementations of Office365, good and bad
- and much more.

The webinar is on Tuesday the 28th of June from 10am – 11am (Sydney, Australia time) and only costs $29.90 ex GST. The material covered in the webinar is aimed specifically at the SMB Market so you’ll learn about integration with products like Small Business Server.

To sign up with a credit card visit:

http://www.pagebloom.com/content/product/o/92160/p/1103227

otherwise contact director@ciaops.com to arrange alternate forms of payment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Standalone installation of SharePoint Foundation 2010

Here’s my walk through of installing SharePoint Foundation 2010 on a stand alone Windows Server.

Standalone installation of SharePoint Foundation 2010

 

Some points to note with this method:

 

1. There are not many prompts. All the defaults are taken.

 

2. New SharePoint site ends up on the default web site for the server on port 80.

 

3. You get a SharePoint Team template by default.

 

4. You get SQL Server 2008 Express installed which has a 4GB database limit.

 

5. You generally can’t expand this installation to allow multi server (i.e. a SharePoint farm)

 

This is really the most basic of SharePoint Foundation installs. Watch out for further installation examples, coming soon.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Windows Phone 7 annoyances


I upgraded from my Windows Mobile 6.0 device a while back to Windows Phone 7 in order to give it a try. My major reason for the upgrade was for the native SharePoint integration, however I also wanted to compare what Microsoft had developed to other mobile platforms.

Overall, I must admit that it has been a very frustrating experience for a number of reasons, some of which include:

- Swiping up to do things unbalances the phone in my hand. Many times I have swiped up and the phone has shot out of my hand. This was especially true when I started using it. It also find that I have to swipe up generally more than once to get it to work.

- There is no numerical percentage charge displayed. The only indication of charge is a graphic that shows a battery. Now suppose when I look at the charge before I leave the office and see that it has some charge left. That all goes south when I next look at the phone and find that the remaining charge has now disappeared because it was right on the border before I left the office. If there, however, was a numerical percentage charge amount I would know exactly when I was below say 10% and needed a charge.

- Windows Phone 7 doesn’t allow the device to be used as an external storage device. This means I can’t simply attached the Windows Phone 7 to my PC and drag and drop files. I could do this with Windows Mobile 6.0 but not the latest version. What the? C’mon Microsoft, just about every portable device supports the ability to copy files directly to and from the device, but not Windows Phone 7!

- Many of the ‘tiles’ on the front screen could have much less white space. If you have space why don’t you make the information displayed as large as possible? Honestly, bigger text and less white space would be much easier to read.

- These same tiles only seem to support high contrast background colours with white text. It would much better if the background was darker than the text to make reading easier. Why can’t I select the colour of the tiles I want rather than being restricted to only the colours provided?

- There just aren’t enough decent apps. I understand why this is so but in today’s app driven world there needs to be so many more apps than there are.

There are plenty of other really annoying things about Windows Phone 7. Perhaps, I haven’t found all the options (and if someone can tell me what I’m doing wrong I’d love to hear) but I figure if I haven’t found them by now I ain’t going to and what hope would a normal user have?

There are also some good things about Windows Phone 7 but I’ll cover that in a separate post.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

SMBNation Spring 2011

My first time at SMBNation Spring has been a real blast. Not quite the same as the event in Vegas but still well worth the trip.

 

The facilities at the International Centre where excellent and the Wi-Fi was the best I have seen at any SMBNation event. Dana Epp’s presentation on the benefits of Tele-working was excellent (as Dana’s stuff always is). Ollie Sommer’s presentation on clustering a Hyper-V environment was another highlight. On the second day, Tim Carney’s presentation on migration strategies had some very interesting and different alternatives on SBS Migrations. Some really great sessions for attendees of all levels.

 

I was a little disappointed that my session on SharePoint wasn’t attended by a greater number, but I accept this in light of the fact that SharePoint still has a long way to go to becoming mainstream (especially with resellers) in the SMB Market, However, those that did attend I believe got something of of value and enjoyed the content.

 

You can find my presentation slides for viewing here:

 

http://docs.com/CNXK

 

Even though I’m really not focused on the managed service provider model like most that attend I was impressed by the vendor hall and the quality of people attending. Both attendees and vendor representative where extremely friendly and helpful so kudos.

 

So what did I get out it? Simple, networking. I was fortunate to be able to catch up with many familiar faces as well as meeting loads of new people. It was great to also put names to faces of people who have corresponded with me over time. These events are so much more about the hallway networking. The presentations are simply the icing on the cake.

 

To Harry and his team at SMBNation a hearty thanks and well done, another excellent event and I thank you for the opportunity of being able to present. I hope to see you all again real soon.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Indexing PDF Documents in SharePoint Server 2010

After a recent post on indexing Acrobat PDF documents in Windows SharePoint Foundation 2010 (especially on SBS 2011 Standard), I was asked whether the process is the same for SharePoint Server 2010.

 

It is much easier for SharePoint Server 2010 as it was designed with the ability to index external file types from the start. You still need to install the PDF IFilter and make some registry changes. After that you simple need to tell the search service in SharePoint Server 2010 to index PDFs.

 

Here some references to help:

 

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2293357

 

and

 

http://www.sharepointsharon.com/2010/03/sharepoint-2010-and-adobe-pdf/

The value of the veg-out


We’re all becoming a pretty serious bunch, constantly checking messages, texting, making calls on our mobile no matter where we are. Whatever happened to the simple idea of ‘taking it easy’ and ‘just doing nothing’?

The biggest challenge most people face today is not having ‘enough time’. For this reason they try and squeeze more and more activity into their daily routine. Typically, this results in very little ‘down time’. It also tends to creep into people’s sleep time. So today, most people are getting far less ‘down-time’ and rest than they actually need.

This constant on the go lifestyle may seem effective but all that it is really doing is running you down. Ever notice you don’t seem to have the energy any more and that you run out earlier in the day? Ever seem to find that you are less than 100% more of the time? Ever find that you seem to be caught in a rut more often (because your brain isn’t allowed to free associate)? Running at 110% all the time causes wear, on equipment and on people.

Many argue they can’t ‘veg-out’ because they’d feel guilty as no one else seems to be doing it, but sometimes as Mark Twain says:

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.
http://www.typology.net/quotes/twain.html

We all need regular bouts of ‘veg-out’ time to allow our minds to rest, wander, explore new concepts and consolidate what we have learnt. Just because you ‘think’ you are doing nothing doesn’t mean your brain has stopped working. You have simply slowed the processes it has to deal with at the front, allowing more resources to be dedicated to what happens in the back room, behind the curtains.

Try some regular ‘veg-out’ time and see if it makes any difference. Watch a movie, talk a walk, listen to music, be with someone, whatever. But take a regular break. You’ll probably find that you’ll respond much better to daily life once you have some time to regularly rest and recover. Remember, all those people who don’t have ‘down-time’ simply do it because that is what every one else is doing and what did your mother say about jumping off a bridge?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

CIAOPS SharePoint Bootcamp reviews



I am pleased to say that the feedback from the recent SharePoint bootcamps in Melbourne and Sydney has been extremely positive. here are some examples:


“Great venue + facilities. Outstanding content, with good labs and great takeaway materials. Incredible value for money - well worth travelling”


“It was a day jam packed with value... real knowledge and no fluff.. well worth our time and the investment of the course..”


“I learned enough to make this worthwhile, after about 30 mins. All the rest ramped up, and gave me so many ideas on how to both do things better, and leverage SharePoint so much more. Looking forward to doing the advanced SharePoint as soon as is available.”


“Robert thanks very much for an information packed day. All bases were covered with comprehensive notes, labs, a hard drive with VMs and content and ongoing access to your website and reference material. We covered a great deal of content in a short space of time and it was genuine 300 level technical material.”


“Just wanted to send my warm feedback and deep thanks for a very intriguing and interesting day at the SharePoint bootcamp! I learned a whole lot about SharePoint and the other products you’ve discussed, but mostly learned how much I didn’t know ;) You were able to pack a huge amount of info in this day to leave a strong desire to use the study material and learn more about SharePoint.”


“I definitely did gain some knowledge on SharePoint 2010 from the one-day Bootcamp course in Sydney and its installation. In addition to that I also learnt something on Virtualisation from the VirtualBox software, especially when I encountered problems with its installation on the Memory setting and BIOS setup on the HP Laptop PC. It was worth the money spent, effectively with the 1-year free Subscription of CIAOPS Operations Guide valued at $300 & the free giveaway Iomega 500GB Portable USB drive ($100), the course is effectively free of charge.”

Of course there are some things that I need to work on including ensuring that everyone can get access to the hosted SharePoint training site before the session and ensuring that everyone is able to set up the labs on their machines. However, I’m really please with the positive feedback given this is my first attempt at something like this.


So where to from here? I am currently working on a advanced SharePoint course as well as something around Office365. I hope to be able to announce something soon for August, so stay tuned here.


If you have any suggestions about what you believe would be worthwhile to cover in my bootcamps don’t hesitate to contact me (director@ciaops.com).