A fresh coat of paint

One of things that I have been conscious of late is that fact that many of my web sites are looking a bit old and tired. Given that the people that I host them with are making noise about wanting to upgrade their service (for more money obviously) I thought it was time to have a look for a better web platform.

I’m happy to report that I have found something that I reckon is pretty good. As a test I have migrated my World War One Battlefields across using this new tool and I have to say that I’m impressed. It has taken only about six hours to get it up and functioning. What I can do now is really just amazing and the speed is so much better as well. If you are interested in seeing what I have been able to create then take a look at http://www.anzacsinfrance.com.

Now that I have the process pretty much down-pat I’m probably also going to move my main CIAOPS web site across. This might take a bit longer to migrate as I want to redesign and re-architect what I have on offer here to take advantage of what the new platform offers. I’ve also settled on a really nice e-commerce solution that should also integrate nicely.

Bottom line is that I’m so confident about this new platform that I’m going to start offering it as part of a complete web development package from the CIAOPS. So if you are interested in revamping your site, incorporating e-commerce and improving your web presence or that of your clients I’d suggest you drop me an email (director@ciaops.com) so we can work out exactly what you need and how much it will cost.

In the meantime give me you feedback on www.anzacsinfrance.com and watch out for further updates.

Looking for topics

I’m in the process of developing the next of my webinars and thought it would be good to offer a SharePoint questions and answers session. Now I could come up with what I believe are the most relevant questions around SharePoint but I think it would better if people out there let me know what they’d like to know about when it comes to SharePoint.


For that reason I’m asking for people to submit any SharePoint questions to me directly (director@ciaops.com). They can be on the installation, implementation. migration and even how to sell SharePoint solutions. As an added incentive, if you provide a question that I use in the webinar I’ll give you free access to both the live presentation as well as any recording of the event made.


So please have a think about what you would like to know about SharePoint and send it to me (director@ciaops.com). I’m sure that you won’t be the only one who wants to know the answer and if you come up with a good one you’ll get free access to the webinar!

The importance of fitness

I’ve been talking a lot about ‘cop outs’ of late and this post is not going to break that mould. I recently overheard a number of IT people saying that the profession doesn’t lend itself to keeping in shape. What a crock I gotta say. If a doctor said to them that they needed to eat better, get more sleep and start exercising because they would die or catch some terminal disease I’m pretty sure they make an abrupt change. So the issue isn’t ‘can’t’ it’s ‘won’t’.

It is not just the IT profession in which this happens mind you but it is certainly the place that I hear the most excuses about how the ‘special’ requirements of the job require the need to sacrifice other parts of one’s life. This is simply rubbish, it is a decision made by the individual of their own free will to leave things as they are. In many cases it is just that they are too lazy, afraid and undisciplined to make a change that they know they need to make.

I will put up my hand and freely admit that for far too many years I did exactly the same thing. I avoided making decisions about change that needed to be made to regain some semblance of ‘a life’. Many today use their job to hide from ‘a life’ and in the process not only affect themselves but also those around them. They believe that ‘soldiering’ on the same old way is ‘just what has to be done’. Again, what a crock I say. These people shouldn’t fool themselves that they don’t have choices. They should also not fool themselves that their indecisions, as much as any decision they make, directly affect more than just the lives they lead.

The old saying goes that your body is a temple but perhaps an even simpler consideration is that if you don’t respect your own body how are you expected to respect anything else? People aren’t fools you know. No matter how much you tell them one thing, if it isn’t backed up by reality they simply won’t buy it.

There are so many reasons to maintain a decent level of physical fitness: it generally allows you to live longer, makes you more resistant to aliments, improves your stamina and not least of all makes you feel good about yourself. If you don’t feel good about yourself then you really aren’t going to feel good about anything else are you? Honestly, no you’re not.

I believe in karma and none more so when it comes to looking after yourself. You can continue to abuse your body for many years, but when it has had enough you are going to find how different life is without it. People maintain their homes, their cars, their knowledge but yet they let their physical condition slip. The reality is that without physical fitness you may not be able to do any of these other things may you?

We all know there are a million reasons why you should take better care of your physical fitness but I’ll give you just one. What would your life be like without it? Because if you continue on making excuses and ignoring the warning signs then you’ll certainly have no one else to blame but most likely you won’t be the only one affected by your own indecision. At the very least this is grossly unfair to them. So consider that as you let your girth continue to expand with inaction.

SharePoint webinar preview available

Having completed the next webinar in the SharePoint series (Basic SharePoint administration) today I have posted up the first few minutes as a preview on my YouTube channel:

Basic SharePoint administration (preview)


Because those that attended the 60 minute presentation had to pay to attend I am not planning to post the complete video online. However, for anyone interested in viewing the complete video can contact me directly (director@ciaops.com) to arrange a downloadable copy.


Given that the next webinar would normally be scheduled for Christmas Eve I have decided to reschedule it to Thursday 7th of January at this stage. If you are interested I’d suggest you get on the mailing list (director@ciaops.com) for updates or stay posted to announcements on this blog.


I hope that all those who attended today got something valuable and I look forward to having you on future webinars in 2010.

BPOS Technical School live meeting recording

Although this webinar comes from the UK it provides a pretty good overview of what BPOS is and how resellers can go about incorporating it into their suite of products. You’ll find the download at:




it runs for about an hour and is particularly worthwhile if you are considering Microsoft Business Online Productivity Suite (BPOS).

I smell fear

In a bygone age Microsoft was able to dominate its rivals by bullying, blustering or buying. In the online services market that is no longer the case and in fact I believe that Microsoft is running scared, without a good strategy to complete with Google.

Why do I say this? Very recently I have been approach by a number of larger SMB resellers asking me about Google in the SMB market. I knew from the questions they were asking the questions hadn’t come from the reseller but from Microsoft. Here is the first piece of evidence I have about Microsoft not having a suitable strategy. It is asking its partners in the SMB space how to compete and they don’t know either! What can you expect? These partners are now ‘old world’. They are not part of the new hip iPod generation where everything is delivered instantaneously from the Internet. They make their money from traditional means like selling software on DVD and hardware in boxes. Not many resellers like this even have an online strategy, so what good is it asking them? None what so ever.

Microsoft has traditionally sold its products through resellers, not directly to customers (although this is also changing) but that has now created a millstone around Microsoft’s neck when it comes to online services. How can Microsoft sell online services when these resellers aren’t skilled enough in these applications? Why would they bother selling online services if they can’t see the revenue return? The answer is – they won’t, period.

Now let’s examine how Microsoft has chosen to compete with Google. They do so mainly via email services and Exchange Server online. But guess what? Email services are simply a utility now. Email is just a product that is expected, and if there isn’t much perceived difference between the offerings of Google and Microsoft (which there isn’t as email is email) then all that is left is a decision by the customer based on price. At the moment Google is the cheaper option and it wins. Guess what? If Microsoft drops it price so will Google. In fact Google could afford to give it away and there ain’t a damm thing Microsoft can do because it now faces an adversary who is as big and rich as they are. That’s something it has never had to face before.

As any good strategist will tell you, never fight an adversary where they are strongest, on ground not of your choosing or at a time that doesn’t suit you. In summary, attack an adversary where they are weakest not where they are strongest. Is Microsoft doing this? Nope. They go after Google in search ( al la Bing ). They go after Google via Exchange online. Dumb, dumb, dumb. If they stopped and thought about things they’d realize they have the perfect weapon with which to compete with Google in the online space.

Not surprisingly I believe this weapon to be SharePoint. Not only is it a product that is far more feature rich and mature than Google Sites, it provides superior collaboration with products that most clients already have on their desktop like, Outlook, Word, Excel and OneNote. SharePoint has the flexibility to solve many common business problems. The value of SharePoint is what you can create with it. The value of SharePoint is that you can solve REAL business problems without overlaying complex technology and increasing costs. The value of SharePoint is that it is simple to use and implement. Yet I’m sad to say these benefits fail to resonate with most people (except fanatics like me of course).

If you ask most Microsoft resellers what SharePoint is, you’d be lucky to find some that knew and even luckier if you found some that have used it. However, if you take the email component out of Microsoft BPOS because it is simply a utility now, as I have discussed above, what is left? SharePoint. But how many resellers are comfortable selling that? Not many. So perhaps Microsoft should be promoting SharePoint more to its resellers and customers. Maybe it should be showing everyone the real benefits you can achieve with just a browser and the even greater benefits when you combine it with Microsoft Office.

Alas, it doesn’t seem to me that Microsoft appreciate this and they are too busy trying to go toe to toe with Google and that is simply dumb. For probably the first time they now face an adversary who is pretty evenly matched with them and yet probably, has the edge in online services. Microsoft have yet to implement an effective competitive strategy and in fact seem to be actually making their situation worse, if the BPOS product events I have recently attended are any indication (where they are pleading with resellers to sell Microsoft BPOS). If they are not careful the smell of fear is going to turn into a reek real soon!

Overtime slaves

If you, like most people, feel you are working too long then I’d suggest you read “Slaves to the overtime habit fail to loosen shackles”. It talks about how Australians are chaining themselves to their desks and doing over 2 billion (yes billion) hours in unpaid overtime.

So what’s the major reason for this? Most said they had too much to do (i.e. too busy) but also confessed that something else had come up (i.e. allowed themselves to get interrupted). So what does this mean? Well, according to the article these people are:

– unable to eat properly
– unable to pay bills on time
– unable to see their partner
– unable to exercise
– unable to relax
– and so on

I especially like this example:

“…he calculated he was working probably twice the hours he was paid for.’ I have no time for exercise and no time to see my friends, let alone spend time with my girlfriend. On my one day off I’m so tired I lie down all day at home….life sucks when there is no time to live it. I am a slave’”.

Sound familiar? So many people’s of identities these days is totally tied to their work. What’s the first question people will ask when they meet you at an event? ‘So what do you do?’ is the typical ice breaker, not ‘have you read any good books?’, ‘seen any good movies?’, ‘been anywhere interesting lately?’. No, they want to know what work you perform so they can better understand who you are because these days your job is the best description of who you are.

Sad isn’t it? Here is someone basically saying they feel like a slave with no freedom and no ability to enjoy life. How is that living? Basically it’s not. We were all led to believe that technology would free us from this situation whereas, as I have said many, many times here, it has simply enslaved us. Why? Because we accept the defaults. We don’t customize the systems to suit ourselves, we modify our behaviour to suit the systems. Like D’oh!

The interesting thing is that it is easily within everyone’s power to achieve the lifestyle they desire, however like an alcoholic, first you need to admit you have a problem and secondly you have to want to do something about it. Why wouldn’t you want more time to do what excited you? Why wouldn’t you want more time with your partner, kids, hobbies, etc? Seems from this article that more and more people don’t want to lead an enjoyable life? More and more people want a life chained to a desk, forced to continue on the never ending treadmill. They are no longer in control and those who are not in control are destined to be controlled by others.

If you can admit you have a problem and do want to have a ‘life’ then I suggest you have a look at some of my work on SlideShare, especially Enough Time and Power of an Hour, or the Smarter Productivity training I run. If you want to go beyond this and save at least one hour a day (which adds up to more than a working month a year) I’d suggest you get in contact with me (director@ciaops.com) so we can develop something to help free you from your current enslavement. Remember life is about doing what excites you.

SharePoint webinar

Here are the details for the next CIAOPS webinar:


091210 – The basics of SharePoint Administration


Topics covered:


– How to administer a SharePoint site

– How to manage SharePoint database files

– How to backup and restore SharePoint

– How to manage SharePoint securities


Presenter:          Robert Crane

Date:                 Thursday 10th of December 2009

Time :                10.00am (Sydney, Australia time)

Duration:            60 minutes

Cost:                 $ 9.90 ex GST for non WSSOPS subscribers.

Level:                 2 (Intermediate)

Prerequisites:      None




This webinar will provide you with a good overview of how to administer a SharePoint site. It will show where all the basic administration options are as well as what function they perform. You’ll also learn about the low level SharePoint file and databases required to allow SharePoint to function correctly. The webinar will also cover the different ways that you can backup and restore SharePoint as well as manage securities.


Registration: To register send an email to director@ciaops.com.


Note: that this webinar runs for a longer period of time (60 minutes), cover a much higher level of technical understanding of SharePoint and has an entry fee (for non WSSOPS subscribers).


Sign up now!