‘Twas the night before New Year

So did you miss me? Too bad, I’m back anyway! So what was the best thing that Santa brought me this year? Well, apart from the chocolate covered macadamia nuts (which by the way I suggest you don’t eat for breakfast, because you’ll regret it by morning tea), I think that Project Gotham Racing 4 is the stand out.

I’ve been a fan since PGR2 and really like the changes that they have made for PGR4. The real challenge now is the weather! It is certainly something different to be belting along doing almost 200K’s in dense fog. Man you gotta watch out for those sharp corners. I also really like the concept of a calendar for tournaments and having to complete a few events to win the tournament. So far, I think this is probably the best XBox 360 game that I have played. Can I also mention the new tracks in Macau and Quebec? Those hill climbs are cool.

The good thing about driving games are they usually plenty simply to control. I will admit here and now that I can’t really play those button mashing games very well. You know the kind – jump, spring, twist, shoot, dive, in one hundredth of a second etc after which the sequence usually ends in death anyway for me. Take Halo, for example, although not a major button mashing game there are still moments when you get surrounded and have no ammo and all you want to do is run away but I usually die before I find the right button sequence. At least with driving games I know that I’m going to hit the coming wall because I have been travelling too fast into the corner. Give me simply physics any day. Maybe that makes me old but I never said that I was any good at these games, I just said that I enjoyed playing them.

I also like the Xbox’s ability to connect simply and easily to the Internet to upload your player profile and download demos and additional content. I enjoy playing games on the PC but with an Xbox it just so much easier, put the CD in, power up and play! Hopefully when I get enough practice at PGR4 I might even try racing with other humans (shock horror) online.

Hopefully soon we’ll get back to some meaningful technical or business posts here but hey, New Year’s day is still a public holiday the last time I checked. That means I’ve still got a few more hours of PGR4 before I have to bundy back to reality. Till then – CD in, Power on and ….

‘Twas the night before Christmas

Well, not quite, but soon boys and girls. Here’s a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone out there and especially all those who read my blog (hi Mom). Seriously though, if you do read this blog on a regular or even semi-regular basis I’d like to hear from you when you get a chance. It doesn’t have to be anything flash, just a simple “Hi” would suffice. If you do want to go into more detail about the good, the bad and the ugly of what I create, not only here but generally (online videos, documents, etc), then I’d love to hear your feedback. You never know if what you are doing is helping people so feedback (good and bad) is appreciated. So send your abuse to director@ciaops.com and if there is more good than bad feedback then I suppose I’ll keep posting.

Over the holidays I’ll hopefully be making some changes to Supportweb to improve its performance and reliability but news on that after I have successfully completed what I am planning to do (so I don’t end up with egg on my face when it doesn’t work). You’ll now also notice that I’ve added a feed from Goodreads on the blog page to show you the books in my library to give you a better idea of where I accumulate all this useless information from. I like the idea behind the site and how it harnesses the power of the Internet to build a community. If you read a lot of books then I recommend you take a look and link up with my profile so I can see what people who read this blog read.

Again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all, have a safe holiday and keep tuned for more updates.

Robert Crane

How/Why We Use SharePoint

Proud to announce that an article I wrote for the SMB Partner Community magazine is now available in the December / January issue. For those who don’t currently subscribe to the magazine you can read it online by clicking here.

The article details the benefits we have found by implementing Sharepoint 2007 internally and how we are now better able to track things like phone support calls, supplier returns and more. There isn’t a whole lot that Sharepoint 2007 can’t do if you put your mind to it. It is just a pity that more customers and resellers just haven’t seen the light on what this tool can really do to boost the productivity of their business.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Beatrice Mulzer (magazine editor) for the opportunity to write the article as well as Harry Brelesford for the tireless work he does for the SBS community through SMB Nation. I really hope that the article appeals to the readers of the magazine and that I get a further opportunity to write more articles for the benefit of SBS resellers worldwide.

As always, I’m happy to hear feedback from readers, both good and bad about the article or perhaps what you like to read in the future. Don’t forget that you’ll also find more of my documents right here in the Supportweb Document Library.

Under the radar

Had occasion to be in a bookshop today and was drawn to the computer section. Great, I thought, I’ll see if I can find a good book on Sharepoint 2007. Suffice to say that sadly, there wasn’t one.
There were two very ordinary books on Sharepoint 2003 and the third on Sharepoint 2007 was actually more about programming Sharepoint 2007 using .ASP and dotNet.
As the year draws to close I am asking myself more and more why small to medium businesses don’t user Sharepoint. Firstly, I think most SMB businesses don’t even know that Sharepoint exists, that if they have Small Business Server 2003 they probably alreday have Sharepoint and if not then it is free to download! Reason number two is simply tha fact that Microsoft don’t market it very well at all. All their marketing is aimed at the enterprise end of town which kinda understands intranets and portals. Thirdly, most businesses are not willing to invest the time to learn the product. I hear it all the time, “Ah yes, that looks great but I’d rather stick with my three known menu items in Word thank you very much. That looks far too complicated to me”.
So Sharepoint 2007 continues to fly under the radar. Maybe one day it will be seen as they immensely helpful tool that it is. I wonder whether the spreadsheet had this much trouble getting off the ground? “Ah yes, that looks all well and good but I really prefer writing things down with my trusty pencil and paper. Look I can even erase the data if I need. Can your fancy SPREADSHEET do that?”
It is immensely frustrating to try and get people to understand a tool that will really lead to major productivity benefits in their business. I can’t begin to tell you how much time and effort Sharepoint saves in my business. A good example was this week when a client asked me to reconfigure a complex email fowarding setup in Exchange server. Now I didn’t intially set this up so trying to work out what the hell was going on was very time consuming. However, once I had it all worked out I added all the details of the configuration to our customer specific knowledge base in Sharepoint 2007 so that when this configuration needs to be altered in thre future at least it will be much easier to work out where to start.
I know that the take up of Sharepoint 2007 isn’t really going to pick up until Microsoft puts some more marketing effort behind the product. But, thinking out it, why should they as Windows Sharepoint Services is free? Why would Microsoft spend marketing dollars in promoting a free piece of software?
So it looks like a battle on all fronts. Firstly, to make customers aware of the product. Secondly, to make them actually understand the product and finally to encourage Microsoft to put some marketing muscle behind the product.
Hopefully as a great man once said – It always looks darkest before the dawn.

Microsoft Filter Pack

Bet you didn’t know that Sharepoint 2007 doesn’t index Office 2007 documents did you? Well, there is a bug that prevents indexing of the latest Microsoft Office documents. See here if you don’t believe me!
Finally a solutions is available – Microsoft Filter Pack. The details about installing it on Windows Sharepoint Services 2007 are located here.
Finally, we can index Office 2007 documents!

Office Sharepoint Server 2007 training

Microsoft has release some training resources for Sharepoint Server. Now most of these are still applicable to Windows Sharepoint Services so they are well worth a look. There is a stand alone version which can simply be downloaded and installed on a machine. It includes documentation and videos which should improve its take up by users.
I’m still working my way through the content and will add some more comments about this Microsoft resource when I have completed all the modules.

It’s all about the information

As anyone who has read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber will tell you the value of any business is not what the owner believes it to be worth but what someone else would pay for it. In this respect it is important that as much of the information about a business and how it does business is documented in a meaningful way.

I believe that is where a tool like Sharepoint can really assist since it is not only flexible and easy to use but it is also free. Read my recent thinking on the matter in the following document, which can also be found in the Supportweb Document Libraries.

Sharepoint 2007 and Outlook 2007 video now available

Probably the final video I’ll do before Christmas (I think anyway). This video focuses on the integration between Sharepoint 2007 and Outlook 2007 in three key areas. Firstly, the ability to link document libraries allowing the use of Sharepoint document libraries offline. Secondly, the linking of calendars means that event information between Outlook and Sharepoint can be viewed in a single instance. Finally, most parts of Outlook are RSS enabled, which means you only have to subscribe via RSS to view the information making it easier to see what has changed recently.

To view the video directly on You Tube click here, otherwise go to our Video – Links area to view all our video presentation.

As always we welcome any feedback or suggestion you may have on how we can improve our offerings.