Brave New World

I came across an interesting example the other day that illustrates how most people still don’t understand this new digital world of ours.

This particular party had just finished upgrading to a new PC. They had conscientiously copied all their data across and reinstalled all the applications. Once it was up and going they decided that they no longer had a need for the old PC. Rather than donating it to a worth cause (which is what I recommended they do), they decided to take to it with a hammer in an attempt to “destroy” it.

Now I will admit that the box certainly didn’t look like a PC when I saw it but I asked them whether I could test a theory of mine. They agreed and I proceeded to extract the hard disk, which seemed ok physically just a little scratched, and see whether I could read the information that was on there. Low and behold, in manner of moments I could see all the data. So the hard disk remained intact and well enough to be read, even after being subject to some pretty heavy physical abuse.

The owner was utterly shocked that it took me so little time to recover their precious information. “As you can see”, I pointed out, “it isn’t very hard at all”. So what should they have done? They needed to destroy the digital information digitally. How can you easily accomplish that? Use Darik’s Boot n’ Nuke.

All you need to do is download the software and use it make a bootable CD. Pop that into the drive of the computer, allowing it boot from the CD and follow the instructions. The time required to completely erase a drive will depend on its size but afterwards you can be pretty sure there ain’t anything left there for someone to recover.

I was intrigued with the contrasts between the two different ‘destruction’ methods and their results. It illustrates that even thought most people use computers these days and are generally comfortable with them they really have not concept of the idea of ‘digital information’. It is like a completely parallel universe. As Mr. Spock might have said in this situation “No, Jim. We must destroy it digitally. It can’t be harmed any other way”.

If you really want to spin people out about the differences that digital data bring to their lives explain to them how all the information they are uploading to the Internet has to live on a hard disk somewhere. Now ask them what happens when that gets “retired”? Is it digitally erased? How would you ever know? The reaction I get from most people is most interesting.

Even though we may live in a brave new world, seems to me very few people really understand what that means.

OneNote and Office Live


I’ve just uploaded a new document that takes you through the process of setting up a shared OneNote notebook that is available from anywhere you have Internet access using Microsoft Office Live Small Business.

Once you have created the OneNote notebook on Microsoft Office Live Small Business you can work with it offline until you are ready to connect back online. When you do so it will automatically synchronize all changes. You can therefore use this feature to share the notebook between different locations, different machines or even different people. Best of all using Microsoft Office Live Small Business it is totally free.

To view and download the document go to: 

If you haven’t seen the benefits that a digital notebook like OneNote can offer then I recommend you take a look at While you are there download a 60 day free trial so you can start using it right away. If you love it as much as I do then I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you find out how cheap it is to actually buy.

To those people that helped proof read the document and make suggestions before it went out I thank you and hope you can make yourself available for other documents I have in the works. It always help to have at least another set of eyes across a document because it always improves it.

So feel free to download the document, forward it to others and give me any feedback via

Office 2010

Want to know what’s coming in Office 2010? Then visit where you’ll find all sorts of information. There are a whole heaps of short videos on each of the Office products that’ll give you an idea of what to expect.

From the site you can also visit which is specifically about Office 2010 for business. There is plenty of really good information about what new features the product will have specifically for business.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information around the new version of SharePoint. There is however on the Office business site information about SharePoint Workspace 2010 (ex Groove) which allows you to take SharePoint information offline.

I would expect the content in this site to continue to grow as the product reaches a release date but for now if you want to see what’s coming in Office 2010 take a look.

Illusion of freedom

We tell ourselves that technologies like the Internet, email, BlackBerry’s and mobile phones have given us more freedom. I believe that the situation is actually the reverse, that we have allowed technology to enslave us in a ways that we simply fail to even acknowledge now.


Don’t believe me? Well consider this situation and what would be the standard reaction (even more so in the current economic environment).


– You receive an email at home from you boss or a customer at 9.17pm on a week night.


what would be the most likely response do you think?


A. Ignore it.

B. Reply saying that you only deal with such matters during normal office hours.

C. Snap to attention and complete whatever the email asked.


I think most people would agree that in today’s environment option C. is going to be the likely course of action. Doesn’t that seem to indicate that the loss of boundaries between work and leisure? How has that happened? Because we have allowed technology to take control. We are no longer in control, we are no longer free to make our own choices. We ‘think’ we have more freedom but it is an illusion.


Here’s another analogy that I read recently. Imagine the reaction back in the mid 1950’s if you had tried to make an airline reservation and been told:


– You need to purchase a computer and set it up inside your house.

– You also need to pay for the electricity to run it.

– You also need to buy a printer, the ink to print and the paper that it uses.

– You now need to use the computer to do the work airline reservations people used to do since we don’t employ them anymore.

– Now, make your own reservations, print out your own ticket all on YOUR time.


Back in the 1950’s people would have thought this to be completely unbelievable while today we simply refer to it as ‘progress’! Isn’t the reality that you are now working for the airline to which you are also paying money?


So now you are working during the day, answering and attending to emails after hours (i.e. still working), then working for the airlines as well when do you get down time? How has you life been made better by technology if you are now effectively working from the moment you wake to the moment you fall asleep? How can you honesty say that technology like a Blackberry has improved the quality of your life? How can you say it has given you greater freedom? It hasn’t. It is all simply an illusion that we have allowed ourselves to believe.

SBS 2008 Unleashed

 Windows Small Business Server 2008 Unleashed by Eriq Oliver Neale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you are planning to install, manage or maintain Windows Small Business Server 2008 then this book is a must have. It goes beyond the standard information and delves into the areas that the average installer simply doesn’t know about. The information provided in this book will ensure that Small Business Server 2008 machines in you care will not only be correctly configured they will have all the additional options enabled to ensure that users get the most from the product.

This book goes beyond the standard information that Microsoft provides by encompassing the knowledge and experience from a range of MVPs (Most Valued Professionals). That is just something money can’t buy these days. Sure you maybe able to find the same information on the Internet by why would you when it is perfectly encapsulated in this book. Along with in depth technical information it contains a whole raft of practical suggestions from people who know the product inside out.

The book covers a wide range of topics about Small Business Server 2008 from installation to configuration to maintenance. If you want information that goes beyond the ‘usual’ with Windows Small Business Server 2008 then this is book for you. It is a must have reference for anyone working with the product.

View all my reviews >>

Necessary modifications

I’d like to tell you a bit of a story if you’d be kind enough to indulge me.

I have always been an avid ‘petrol head’ and none more so when I purchased my first car. I used to spend just about every weekend pulling it to pieces to either add something new or try and improve it. Some of the most notable failures were when I created a dead short to the battery through a wire that ran underneath the carpet, which resulted in plenty of smoke, some fire and a scorched carpet. Another over sight was the inability to locate a critical part of the engine that had been removed during tuning and adjustment that went undiscovered for 6 hours! The small item turned up exactly where I had put it – in the bay between the wipers and the engine, but until that discovery the car wouldn’t start.

My avid ‘customization’ efforts usually commenced on Friday evening and sometimes weren’t finished by the following Monday morning. In many cases this meant driving the car around ‘superleggera’ style (i.e. lightweight). That was basically a car without anything except a drivers seat on the inside – i.e no other seats, carpet, roof covering, glove box and so on. Another common problem was that after I managed to reassemble the car I always had some parts left over. Plenty of times I asked myself whether the car not having these particular parts was going to make it better or worse? The answer was usually worse but took a few days to uncover why.

Being a keen electronics buff I also delved into improving the cars instruments. For example, I installed an alarm system that was so ‘good’ that it managed to flatten the battery in less than 15 minutes if it was activated (which happened quite often, thanks to a faulty trip switch). I also managed to blow up a home made graphic equalizer I have built and fill the car with dense smoke during a rainy day, luckily I made it to the side of the road before hitting anything. In the end the car probably had as much cabling running through it as a jumbo jet.

So I think that you get the picture of the lengths that I went to ‘improving’ the car, all with varying degrees of success. It was great fun (except when I needed to get somewhere and couldn’t get the car started) and I learned a lot. Probably the biggest lesson I learnt is that although mucking about with the car was fun, it really didn’t make the car that much better and consumed a lot of time. Since then, if I have purchased a car I try and ensure that it has everything I wanted and didn’t tinker much.

What’s the point of this story? Well, I’ve been thinking about how much work you need to do to bring Windows SharePoint up to the level it should be at and I kinda see it like days when I was fiddling with my first car.

Out of the box Windows SharePoint does a lot of really great things and is a huge benefit to most businesses but making some further simple modifications can it dramatically improve its functionality.

What sort of stuff doesn’t SharePoint do or have configured by default? Here’s a short list:

– No PDF search

If you upload Adobe documents then they will not be indexed and not available via the inbuilt search utility. You can still check them in and out but having the ability to search within documents is a huge time saver that really needs to be enabled.

– No PDF icon

If you do upload an Adobe document to SharePoint you find that it doesn’t display a little PDF icon next to the file type. As you can see from my Supportweb site it is possible to have the PDF icon displayed.


– No Office 2007 document indexing

You’ll get .doc, .xls and so on out of the box with Windows SharePoint but you won’t get the ability to index .docx, .xlsx, etc. That may not have been a issue a while back but with everyone moving more and more to Office 2007 native format you really need to index these formats.

– No OneNote document indexing

Of the greatest abilities of OneNote is to capture and index documents that are printed to it. So you can print a web page to OneNote and it will not only capture the information but also index it. This indexing ability also gets extended to SharePoint if correctly configured. Problem is you don’t this ability by default.

– No .MSG email document indexing

When SharePoint works with email it normally does so in .EML format, which is natively for Outlook Express. You can save email messages in native Outlook .MSG format but again, guess what? They won’t be indexed by default.

– No file share indexing

It continues to amaze me that people have no strategy for indexing the information they have saved on their internal servers. They create it, save it and forget it. From there it appears doomed to be lost in the bowels of network file shares. I bet most people don’t realize that you can enable Windows SharePoint to index all documents in all network file shares, but again not by default.

– No public folder indexing

Just like network file shares SharePoint can index Exchange Public folders, just not by default. If you have a lot of information invested in Public Folders just image the return you could achieve by unlocking it by full text indexing.

– No web site index

Again, if you have internal or external web sites that you business uses regularly you can use Windows SharePoint to index and retrieve the content. All you gotta do is configure it.

– Limited templates

Windows SharePoint comes with a number of default site templates but Microsoft makes at least 40 more available for free. These templates can save a whole lot of customization time given you can start with a site that pretty well already configured. Only problem is, you have to install and configures these after you get Windows SharePoint running.

– Wrong regional settings

As with most Windows products the regional settings for SharePoint are typically wrong. Why can’t they work out these settings from the machine they were installed on? I don’t know, but they don’t so you generally always need to go in and configure the correct regional settings for your site. Is that easy? Clearly not because most people never seem to do it.

– Usage analysis not enabled

Another hidden gem inside Windows SharePoint is its ability to display usage analysis. This will show you popular pages, locations and referring locations. Why wouldn’t you want to understand how your users are working with the site? Unless you enable this feature, which isn’t enabled by default, you’ll only be guessing.

All of the issues that I’ve mentioned here can (and should) be configured for Windows SharePoint. Even on Companyweb on SBS 2008 they are not enabled so imagine how much better your implementations of SharePoint would be if you did all this? If you wanna stand out from the crowd with SharePoint, here’s a very simply way.

If you enjoy playing around with Windows SharePoint and learning about all this ‘non-standard’ stuff (like I did with my car) then there are plenty places on the Internet that will show you how. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a single location which you can go to, so be prepared to spend a lot of time doing research. I certainly hope that if you see Windows SharePoint as a commercial opportunity then you’ll appreciate the advantage of having all that information in a single location. That is the reason I created my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide, exactly for this reason.

Rather than wasting hours of research and testing, for the cost of a few hours of labour, you getting all this information plus more. Even better its gets enhanced, updated and improved every month. It’s like every car from my second one, I worked out what I wanted and paid for it rather than wasting my time doing the modifications myself. Why? Because it is a better return on my investment.

I have even been thinking of creating a condensed version of my guide with a list of recommendations and configurations for how to optimize Windows SharePoint out of the box. However, I don’t want to duplicate what I’m already doing unless there is some demand. So if you’d like to perhaps see a shortened Guide covering items like configuring the above items please let me know via

In the end I’d urge you to consider taking SharePoint from its default configuration to something that really utilizes all the capabilities the technology has to offer.

More like it

Microsoft has had some questionable advertising and marketing of late but to me it seems like they are much closer to target with Office 2010: The Movie.

There is also some other good stuff at If you wondered what happened to ‘Clippy’ then the video may help you understand.


So tell me why is good Microsoft advertising like this not getting any traction, while the other totally lame stuff is? Microsoft seem to me to have spent more bucks on Office 2010 the Movie than other recent ads, yet this is the first I have heard about it. Strange.

New player

Unsurprisingly, Google has announced that it will release an operating system targeted at Net Books as the article “Google takes on Windows with Chrome OS” details. That made me ponder the following:


1. Why is Google only taking on Windows? Doesn’t MAC OS or Linux count? I can’t see Google OS only detracting from Windows market share, yet it is interesting in that everything I have read only talks about Google taking on Windows.


2. Microsoft has a pretty large support infra-structure around it, what does Google have? You know that some Google OS Notebooks ARE going to end up in the hands of non-technology literate people. What happens when they need support, where do they turn? How will that experience be? For all it’s faults Microsoft has been doing direct support for years on operating systems is that an advantage or a disadvantage?


3. Competition in the market is good for everyone. Many of Microsoft’s products have been lacking any real innovation when they have no direct competition. Any competition should help all players lift their game.


4. Will the average user trust a Google OS after all these years of Windows? Sure they bitch and complain but in the end they are comfortable with Windows. Does the OS really matter anymore? Do people with netbooks run applications they care about or do they simply want a word processor, spreadsheet and browser?


Only time will tell.