Community kit for Sharepoint

Thought I’d do quick posting on what I’ve found so far about install the Community Kit for Sharepoint. To get it running all you need to do is download the source and then run the batch file that is included. When you run the batch file you will be asked for your Sharepoint server and then the blog site on the Sharepoint server. Once the batch file is complete your blog site will be automatically upgraded.

What I like

– The new look and feel is great. It really make the normal Sharepoint blog site look flash. Very much like WordPress now.

– The fact that blog postings URL’s have been changed to …\blog\archive\2008\… rather than the normal Sharepoint links. even better there is translation so that anything that has already been indexed by something like Google will remain valid and accessible to visitors

– The fact that I can still get to my Sharepoint blog admin commands which remain in Sharepoint style screens.

– It didn’t break my blog. I can still post via Windows Live Writer or manually via the blog. Also, all my existing entries remained.

– The automated trackbacks and links to del.icio.us, facebook and what not. You see it everywhere and it is now nice to have in Sharepoint blogs.

What I haven’t figured out yet

– Why my postings from Windows Live Writer and manual interaction with the blog seem to remove my paragraph breaks. This make things more difficult to read. I’m sure that it is some simple HTML or CSS thing but as yet I haven’t worked out how to get my paragraph breaks back.

– How to edit the theme and perhaps ad my own graphics and text. Now, I’m sure there is a reall simply way but you need time to sit down and fiddle with all this. Was really impressed with what has been done over at http://www.wssdemo.com/blog with moving icons and what not. Somewhere, I’m sure there is way to do that but as yet I haven’t found it.

Gotcha’s

– The only one so far is the fact that with the kit installed you can’t easily roll back to the way the blog used to be just in Sharepoint. Now, I’m sure you could remove the kit files from Sharepoint and that would fix the issue but it would still be nice to be able to revert back to the original Sharepoint blog look and feel quickly.

Summary

So all in all I am pretty happy with the ease with which the kit can be installed and the “make over” it gives standard Sharepoint blogs. Sure there is still stuff I’d like to do to make the kit more personalized to my blog as well as few minor issues to resolve (which take time), but generally I think that the creators deserve a hearty pat on the back for an excellent effort and making it available for free. Well Done.

Threats from "new" devices

I’ve now seen a few stories about new IT devices containing viruses and malware. Here’s an article from the LA Times that gives bit more details about how much more wide spread it is becoming. You would think that buying something as simple a new digital picture frame wouldn’t mean you’d have to scan it for suspect software, but you do. Seems like the best idea with all these things is simply to reformat them and reload before you use them. What a pain!

Rethinking managed services

This is my reply to a posting by Robbie Upcroft on getting into managed services.

You are right in saying that managed services are the way to go but I content that perhaps the time is too late. Why do I say that? If you haven’t read the book the World is Flat then you should because it details how all this sort of work is going to be done from places like India. To get an idea of what they charge have a look at : http://www.supportresort.com/. As the site says “We hire out quality IT staff by the month for an hourly rate as low as US$3.36.”

Problem with managed services is that they are so easy to replicate. If you have the cash go out and buy something like Kaysea and you’re away. Sure you’ll be able to convince most existing customers to come on board, not because of what managed services offer but more likely because they’ll do what you tell them. Fine. Now what about new customers?

Why would I pay for you to manage a workstation? Will what they’ll ask. I don’t care if it is defragged, etc and if it fails I just use another temporarily. Sure, I’ll take managed services on a server but on the desktops? No thanks too expensive. Is typically the response we have received.

Most clients in the SMB market space are looking to save IT costs and most won’t pay a per month charge greater than say $10 because it doesn’t make sense. If you have invested all that money in backend infrastructure like servers and Kaysea are you really going to a see a return on investment? Only if you get all client machines, including workstations onboard. As I said previously I think you are going to struggle to get any new clients on board with this.

Finally, what happens when people like HP and DELL enter the market by offering managed services on every PC they sell for LIFE (which they will)? These guys will be able to drive the costs right down simply because of their size. Even the best customer at some point will look at a cheaper prices (for essentially the same thing) and tell you, sorry but I’m going elsewhere.

So, in summary, yes managed service is an opportunity but it is not a saviour for a bad business model. You need to look at the setup and on going costs and license fees and ensure that you are going to get the numbers on board to cover these and make money. This is going to get harder and harder everyday as more people enter the market for “managed services” and drive the price down. I think it is too hard to differentiate yourself enough with a managed services product these days and there are not many barriers to entry. It is basically a volume business and SMB resellers really don’t have the volume to make this work long term in books.

Only my opinion.

Can someone spare me a US based IP?

More wave of the future stuff (and currently only limited to the United States, Damm) is Hulu. Hulu is basically a new service from News Corp (was an Aussie company once) and NBC that allows you to download and view 250 shows (eg “The Office” and “The Simpsons” and classics such as “Arrested Development” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Hulu also provides 100 free, feature-length films, including “The Big Lebowski,” “Me, Myself & Irene” and “Some Like It Hot,” along with short video clips from 150 television series including “Saturday Night Live” and “In Living Color.”) free and legal! Problem is that the system is smart and must track your IP address and if you aren’t in the US then you can’t view the videos (Damm).

You’ll find an interesting article about what the service offers from the L.A. Times (which I read even though I am here in Australia). So if you are in the US I’d take a look because it doesn’t sound really good and even allows you to nominate what style of commercial you want to view when you watch the free videos (they have to make money from it somehow).

Another example of what the future holds and how not so far away it is (unless of course you live in Australia!).

Almost famous

I’d like to thank Wayne Small who have given me a bit of plug in his blog. Appreciate that Wayne. He was mentioning how I have applied the Community Blog kit to my Sharepoint blog and how different it now looks (for the better). I am preparing a detailed post about my experiences with this update and how simple it is and some observations I have come across. I just wanted to wait a while to everything works as expected before I comment too much. However, since Wayne has now graciously given me a plug I better hurry on and do it eh?

Video 41 – Configuring SBS monitoring

Our latest video is now available as always on YouTube. You’ll find it by clicking here. This video focuses on configuring monitoring on Small Business Server 2003, which will email health reports and alerts from your server. Sure, it isn’t that hard to configure but many people don’t even know that this feature is available.

As always, we are trying to improve the quality and professionalism of what we provide but that is hard without any revenue for our efforts. As such we can only continue to offer these videos whenever we get some free time. Initially we thought that perhaps asking for a donation from viewers would provide at least some low level of assistance. However, to date we have been very disappointed with the response (thanks to those that did donate – the small number of you – we really appreciate it). We are not asking for hundreds of dollars, AUD $5-$10 from people would really go a long way if enough people saw fit to donate.

So in light of this poor response we have opted to now provide a set of show notes on each video we do for a minimum of AUD$5 donation. The show notes will cover what the video covers but also provide some more advanced information about the topic at hand. We hope that perhaps this enticement will encourage people to support the work that we do by helping us fund our planned improvements. You can find a list of these by clicking here.

Book review – "The 4 hour work week"

It isn’t often that a book jumps to the top of my recommended reading list but this one from Timothy Ferriss has. Be warned you are going to have throw away many “traditional” concepts about work, career and life in general but you’ll be better for it.

Too often, as Ferriss says, we make the excuse of working for works sake rather than experiencing life. Imagine how liberating having enough money to be able to take six months off at a time and travel anywhere. The technology to achieve this is available now, the only thing holding you back is you and and antiquated beliefs. Why should you preparing for retirement when you SHOULD be living your life now?

This book will show you how to eliminate the unnecessary, become more productive, challenge your preconceptions and start creating a life that works for you rather than the other way around. It is packed with plenty of great tips and resources that make it easy to get the ball rolling.

All this may sound like a get rich quick scheme and there are many part of the book that are difficult to implement, however if you approach it with an open mind then I’m sure you’ll find something in here that will benefit you by making your life better. Remember, nothing in worthwhile in life comes on a silver platter!