SharePoint book review

I have completed a review of Mastering Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 by C.A. Callahan for those who are interested.

In summary, I liked it because it is one of the few books that is specifically focused on Windows SharePoint Services rather than SharePoint in general (which also includes MOSS). It covers a good deal of ground from installation to using to advanced configuration including things like network load balancing. Some of more advanced topics may not be relevant to those using WSS v3 with Small Business Server but none the less I feel this book is a worthwhile reference for those looking for information about WSS v3.

Twitter clients

I’ve been searching for a Twitter client that works the way I want to work. Here’s a run down of the process I’ve been through so far.

1. Web Client

When you start out using Twitter you simply post and monitor your updates via the Twitter web site. This has the advantage that you can achieve that from any Internet connected device but it also has a number of drawbacks in that the interface is pretty simple and to keep track of things can be difficult.

2. Twirl

Twirl is very much like Microsoft Live Messenger in that it keeps all your Twitter info inside a nice little application that can be minimized. It is easy to follow people and post using Twirl. The problem is that Twirl is another application I have to install, swap between when monitoring Twitter and has all the annoying interruptions that Messenger has (although it can be customized). The other issue I have with Twirl is that all the posts, including direct messages, simply appear in the same feed.

3. TweetDeck

TweetDeck is another very popular Twitter client application. The good think here is that it splits up replies and direct messages as well as other updates. It has a whole host of other features and is very pretty to look at. Problem was again it is a separate application that I needed to install and swap to when I wanted to monitor Twitter traffic. Annoyingly, by default, like most other “messenger” style clients it keeps interrupting me when a new post arrives.

4. OutTwit
By far the best client I have found is OutTwit which is an add one for Outlook. Once installed you can easily configure how often OutTwit checks for postings (yeah!). You can also select a folder in your mailbox for postings to be sent so you can review them at a later date. With the OutTwit toolbar in Outlook, you can post Twitter updates directly from Outlook. It even keeps track of Twitter statistics that are displayed in a graphical format.

To maintain productivity I really don’t want to be running another program to check Twitter. Given that I use Outlook for emails it makes so much sense to have Twitter postings also delivered here as well. I love the ability to schedule and automatically route incoming postings. Now with all my Twitter information inside Outlook I can use all the power of Outlook (searching, categorizing, archiving etc) to make better use of what come to me via Twitter. For me it just makes so much sense.

OutTwit wins hands in my books down because it integrates with the way I work now and means I don’t have to open and monitor a separate program. It would be nice if Microsoft could do this also for Messenger I reckon. Sure, I’ll still use the web interface now and then when I’m not in front of my Outlook, but these days how often is that?

Productivity costs

So, I was reading “Average weekly pay now $1166” in the business section of the Australian newspaper and thought I’d just run a quick calculation based on my favourite email productivity statistic which is:


In a study last year, Dr. Thomas Jackson of Loughborough University, England, found that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover your train of thought after interruption by e-mail. So people who check their e-mail every five minutes waste 8 1/2 hours a week figuring out what they were doing moments before.


If we assume a 44 hour week (normal 40 hours + 4 extra hours i.e. 10% = 44 hours per week average, which I reckon is high on average anyway). That means the average earnings per hour are $26.50.


So, if 8.5 hours are lost per week to email interruption that’s worth $ 225.25 per week and $10,812 per annum (assuming 48 work weeks a year) PER EMPLOYEE. Now if the “average” number of employees is say 10, that’s $108,120 per annum lost in productivity simply due to email interruption. ON AVERAGE, per business!


That’s almost the cost of two people on the average wage (which comes out to $111,936 based on the same assumptions). It certainly indicates that by simply being more efficient with the ubiquitous technology like email and preventing interruptions, perhaps businesses could maybe save two full time jobs.


It might not sound like a lot when you look at lost productivity per person, per day but add it up over a year, over all employees and I think you’ll start to understand that poor email behaviour is money down the drain. Who can afford to throw away that sort of cash these days?


For more information about improving productivity don’t forget to visit

Paralysed by Twitter

I was reading “Politicians twitter throughout address to Congress like bored schoolchildren”, and liked the following observation:


It’s bad enough that Americans are paralysed by economic jitters. Now the President has to deal with politicians paralysed by Twitter. At a time of national emergency, when America needs the focused attention of contemplative and reflective lawmakers, they are dispatching rapid-fire thoughts in 140 characters or fewer.


How can we expect our politicians to be any different from the general population when it comes to technology distraction? We can’t. Again from the article:


But to view the hodgepodge of messages sent from the House floor during the speech, it seemed as if Obama were presiding over a support group for adults with attention deficit disorder.


On many previous occasions I have wondered about the business benefits of Twitter. Used incorrectly, like email, it is simply another way that we are giving away our time and attention for free. It amazes me that anything gets done these days with all the distractions we have allowed to pollute our lives. Strangely enough people are complaining even more loudly that they don’t have enough time to do things. HELLO? Can’t you see the linkage here? if you spend all your time Twittering what you do every five minutes how the hell can you expect to get anything done?


Technology like email and Twitter have their place and can be used effectively but you have to know how to use them effectively. Most people simply do it because ‘everyone else is doing it’. They don’t take the time to learn and understand where the technology can be applied and where it provides the most leverage.


Unfortunately, it seems like the majority of our population is doomed to be constantly distracted by technology. If you don’t want to be one of those people and you want to have a real life then maybe you should look at some of the training that I offer to help you become more productive. Have a look at and for more information.

Delayed sends

So here’s another You Tube video that focuses on Outlook. In this case the video will show you how to configure Outlook so there is a delay when you send emails.

Why would you want a delay? By default, Outlook will send an email as quickly as possible when you hit the send button. What happens if you make a mistake or want to delete the email prior to it actually leaving your mailbox? What about if you realize that perhaps you shouldn’t have sent the email? If you do that after pressing the send button chances are you won’t have the opportunity to do anything since the email will probably be well on its way to its destination.


By inserting a delay for all sent emails you get an opportunity to recover from error or stupidity much easier. It doesn’t take much to configure this in Outlook as this video shows.

Outlook notifications

By default Outlook will notify you via a variety of means that a new email has arrived. This can be very distracting and greatly reduce your productivity as I have eluded to many time here before. As such I have created a new You Tube video that shows you how to disable these notifications.


Death of dreams

I’ve just read “Shop owners shut doors on their dreams” which details how a small business of 21 years in the US shut up shop. It also highlights how this story is becoming more and more common. With every closure more pressure is placed on other business around that depend on that business for trade.


Now, we may all feel pretty smug that the same won’t happen here in Australia but are you will to take that risk if you have your own business? Most small businesses are establish as dreams and run as hobbies rather than as a business. When times get tough many do not have the structure or the resources to cope. This can put extreme pressure on those running the business that could mean they end up losing more than just the business.


No matter where you are the current economic issues are going to have an effect. You need to ensure that you are suitably prepared if you want to hang onto your dream. This means planning and discipline and perhaps facing up to tough decisions. That’s why in many circumstances it helps to tap an outsider to give you help, one who is not directly connected with the business, one who can give you an honest and objective opinion.


So if you need an objective and honest opinion about your business or assistance in any way please do not hesitate to contact me ( for further information on how I maybe able to help. Even if you just want someone to chat with about your situation please do not hesitate to drop me a line.


What’s a Serio? It’s an imaginary email currency that helps you prioritize the value of emails you send and receive. It is available from a company called Seriosity who provide a plug for Outlook that allocates you so many Serios which you apply to outbound emails. As the system learns about your contacts and they start using Serios as well you can establish costs for sending each other emails about certain topics. So, to prevent lots of trivial replies or CC’s you simply hike up the cost for people to send you email on that topic.


There’s a neat little video on the site that takes you through all the major aspects. The product is in beta so you can download it and try it out.


Personally, I’m a little sceptical because it really requires for your major contacts to opt in. I can see how it would work in a large corporate but on the general Internet, ummmmm, I kinda don’t think so because it seems to require extra effort and people aren’t into that are they? I also think that in some ways it really doesn’t change people’s bad email habits but it would certainly make them think more about sending emails if they only had a limited supply of Serio currency.


I applaud Serioisty for the idea and their development which has a very sound base. If every email you sent cost you 1 cent (like a postage stamp) then we’d certainly have a lot less spam for starters and perhaps less frivolous emails as well. Such an idea has always fallen down because it is firstly too hard to get all the software people to agree on how to implement it and second who collects all the money you pay for sending emails? Great concept, tough implementation.


Maybe Seriosity, their software and imaginary Serio currency can solve these issues. I wish them every luck because it would certainly help reduce the overload most people face.