Archives for October 2006


Pathetic Small Business (?) Consultant

This is not a particularly nice title, I know, but enough is enough. I generally like Small Business Trends , sometimes even quote their material, but I can’t help but wonder what Jack Yoest is doing there.  

The first weird post I picked on was 10 Reminders for Effective Management, which technically was advice to small business owners, but it reminded me of the 80’s corporate mid-manager’s survival guides, as in “how to BS your way through your career, looking busy while doing nothing“.  No kidding.

In his next piece he recommended that small businesses be run like a military unit. That shocked me again; I for one tend to believe (small) businesses are better off with a team of partners and collaborators than a military organization.

Today he writes about Small Business Business Structure.  A few selec quotes:

“Companies should be designed on the ol’ fashioned hierarchical organizational chart so that praise can easily flow up. And the heart-burn can flow down”

“The best structure is a pyramid with the small business owner at the tippy top with a few direct reports. The employee wanting to bother and waste the time of the boss will have to crawl over layers of managers before getting to you, the owner.”

“Put each business function in a box. Every action and process in to a discrete description. … Put employees in a box and a label.”

“And finally, close your door.”

I’ve been long wondering  if these posts are meant to be satirical, but I’m afraid they are real. He really means it.  Read his posts – if for nothing else,  the entertainment value.



JotSpot Google Deal – Who Wins, Why it’s Big:First Thoughts

A few weeks ago the “wikirati” was having dinner with the Enterprise Irregulars in San Francisco, on occasion of the Office 2.0 Conference. Our gracious sponsor was Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes, and JotSpot’s Joe Kraus showed up, too. Missing from the photo is Socialtext’s Ross Mayfield, who was there for the first part, a briefing for Forrester‘s Charlene Li, but left before dinner. (Hm, did Joe eat Ross’s dinner?smile_tongue )

(photo credit: Dan Farber)

I heard a rumor that one of us in the group had likely gotten a few million dollars richer – and it wasn’t me smile_sad… but Joe Kraus, having sold Jot$pot to Google. The source was credible but of course we had already heard about a Yahoo acquisition, then eBay .. so who knows, after all.

I found the timing ironic, just having come back from a Google briefing where they announced Google Docs & Spreadsheets, which left me largely unimpressed. This is what they were missing, I thought.

Today we know it’s a fact: JotSpot is part of Google. After the quick post, here are my first thoughts around who wins, and what it may mean from a user prospective.

Who Wins:

  • Joe, Graham and team for obviou$ rea$ons.
  • Google, for now they have all the pieces for a small business collaboration suite, if they are smart enough to get rid of the junk and integrate the good pieces together – something they have not done before. I’ll talk about this more a few paragraphs below.
  • Some paying JotSpot customers: Jot has had a funny pricing model, where you can start free, but if you exceed a page limit (10?) you have to upgrade. Most users probably don’t realize that because in Jot everything is a page (i.e. add an event to the Calendar, it’s a new page), 10 pages are essentially nothing, if you wanted to do anything but testing, you’d have to upgrade – until now, that is. From now on paying customers will enjoy their current level of service for free.
  • Competitors: JotSpot’s market direction has never been entirely clear; they focused on consumers and small businesses, but were present on the enterprise market, too. I think it’s fair to assume that they are out of the enterprise market at least for a while, leaving only Atlassian and Socialtext as the two serious players.

Who Loses:

  • Some JotSpot customers who’d rather pay but have their data at a company whose business model is charging for services than enjoy free service by Google whose primary business model is to know everything about you. Clearly there will be some migration from JotSpot to other wiki platforms. Update: the competition isn’t sleeping, see migration offers by Socialtext and Atlassian.
  • Me, for having half-written a post about the merits of pure wikis, Office suites and hybrids, which I can scrap now.

Who Needs to Move:

  • Some of the Office 2.0 Suites, including my friends at Zoho. This may be a surprising conclusion, but bear with me for a while, it will all be clear.

So far the balance is good, we have more winners than loserssmile_regular – now let’s look at what Google should do with JotSpot.

They have (almost) all the right pieces/features fragmented in different products, some of them overlapping though. They should kill off the weak ones and integrate the best – a gargantuan task for Google that so far hasn’t pulled off anything similar. Here’s just some of what I mean:

Google Docs & Spreadsheets:
One of the reasons I found the announcement underwhelming was that there really wasn’t a lot of innovation: two apps (Writely and Google Spreadsheets) put together in a uniform look and a file management system. It’s this very file management system that I found weak: how on earth can I work online and manage a jungle of thousands of documents in a flat, alphabetical list? JotSpot may just be the right solution.

Google Groups:
It’s rare for a mature product to go back to beta, but when Google recently did it, it was for good reason: the Groups which so far has been just a group email mechanism, became a mini community/collaborative platform, offering functionality found in collaborative editors like Writely, Zoho Writers, page cross-linking a’la wikis, file management..etc, combining all this with group email and the ability to share with a predefined group. I seriously considered it a major step forward, likely attracting previously “email-only” users to the native web-interface – and we all know why Google loves that.

JotSpot, the “hybrid” wiki:
This will be the somewhat controversial part. First of all, JotSpot is an attractive, easy-to-use wiki, and I believe that’s the value Google should keep.

Second, they’ve been playing around with the concept of being an application platform, which just never took off. The “applications” available in JotSpot are all in-house developed, despite their expectations the world has not come to develop apps on their platform. (Will this change in Google’s hands?). In JotSpot 2.0 they integrated some of the previously existing applications into user-friendly page types: Calendar, Spreadsheet, Photo ..etc, along with regular (text) wiki pages. This is what I considered Jot’s weak part. Just because a page looks like an application, it does not mean it really is:

  • Try to import an Excel spreadsheet into a Jot Spreadsheet page, you’ll get a warning that it does not import formulas. Well, I’m sorry, but what else is there in a spreadsheet but formulas? The previous name, Tracker was fair: it’s a table where you track lists, but not a spreadsheet.
  • Look at a Calendar page: it does not have any functionality. You cannot do group schedules, can’t even differentiate between personal and group events. It’s just a table that looks like a Calendar – reminding me the “electronic” calendars of corporate executives in the 90’s: the Word template that your secretary maintained for you and printed daily…

I guess it’s clear that I am unhappy with Jot’s “application” functionality, but I like it as a wiki. In this respect I tend to agree with Socialtext’s Ross Mayfield, who believes in best-of-breed (whether that’s Socialtext is another question…). Best-of-breed of everything, be it a wiki or other productivity tools. I’ve also stated that my ‘dream setup’ for corporate collaboration: is a wiki with an integrated Office 2.0 Suite. Why?
Other than its collaborative features, a wiki is a map of our logical thinking process: the cross-linked pages provide structure and narrative to our documents, one could think of it as a textual / visual extension of a directory system, resolving the problem of the flat listing of online files that represent fragments of our knowledge. Of course I am not implying that a wiki is just a fancy directory system… au contraire, the wiki is the primary work and collaboration platform, from which users occasionally invoke point applications for number crunching, presentation..etc.

Now Google has it all: they should kill the crap, and combine the JotSpot wiki, their own Office apps ( a good opportunity to dump the lousy Docs & Spreadsheets name), Calendar, Gmail, the Group email from Google Groups and have the Rolls -Royce of small business collaboration.
(Update: Dan Farber over at ZDNet is pondering the same: Is JotSpot the new foundation for Google Office?)

By now it’s probably obvious what I meant by Zoho having to make their move soon: they either need to come up with their own wiki, or team up with a wiki company. Best-of-breed is a great concept and enterprise customers can pick and match their tools on their own. For the SMB market it makes sense to be able to offer a hosted,integrated Wiki/Office solution though. So far Zoho is ahead of Google in Office 2.0, if they want to maintain that leadership, they will need a wiki one way or another.

Of course I could be way off in my speculation and Google may just have bought the team.. either way, congratulations to Joe, Graham and the JotSpot team. thumbs_up

Related posts:



I’m busy writing up a JotSpot / Google piece, but since I am in the habit of coming up with silly post-acquisition names, how is this: Wireddit (WiReddit?).



Jotle? GoogSpot? Joogle? GSpot? JotSpot Acquired by Google

So the rumors at the Office 2.0 Conference were true – JotSpot is now part of Google. (hat tip: Charlie)

This is huge, and I’ll post my first reaction soon – after breakfast.  You gotta have your priorities rightsmile_regular

Congrat’s to Joe and team! thumbs_up

Update: See my longer post here.    Btw, I’ve “stolen” the Joogle and GSpot names from Paul Kedrosky‘s blog.



Windows Vista is Officially 2.0 Compliant

Windows Vista is now officially 2.0 compliant: it has rounded corners and the right colors. smile_shades 

Btw, you can be 2.0 compliant, too: order your business cards here, like I did; rounded corners are a $20 upgrade. clap

Joke apart, it’s really reassuring that the most  important  things are taken care of…

Update (10/31):  Gee, am I glad I said it before TechCrunch


Voting Machine Votes INSTEAD OF You in Florida

Remember Chad from Florida?  No, it’s not a friendly chap, it’s the hanging chad that became the symbol of everything that can go wrong with elections.

Now here we go again: the Miami Herald reports Glitches cited in early voting:

Several South Florida voters say the choices they touched on the electronic screens were not the ones that appeared on the review screen — the final voting step.

Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist.

Now, if I were cynical, I’d say, wow, the votes are skewed towards to Republicans – again.   But I think we’d miss the bigger picture here: it’s all about user (voter) convenience.  Why bother making a hard decision?  The machine does it all for you. It votes INSTEAD OF you.  How convenientsmile_wink

Update (10/31): Time magazine’s cover story: Can This Machine Be Trusted? 

Other blogs on the subject:


IBM’s Giant Brainchild

IBM NORC – The Naval Ordnance Research Calculator.  Should the embedded player not work, watch the video here.


Thanks to fellow Enterprise Irregular   Thomas Otter for discovering this gem. Btw., his article is worth reading, too. smile_wink




Downloading IE7 Was a Mistake

I just started to write this post when the email from ZDNet arrived: Another IE 7 security flaw pops up .   But that’s not what I want to write about.  Another ZDNet piece, Is Firefox 2.0 a dud? prompted me to check out Internet Explorer 7.  Not that I agree with the title, being part of the 76% using FireFox, according to the poll in the “dud” article.

Are you using Firefox 2.0?

  • Yes (76%)
  • No (12%)
  • Not yet, but I plan to (12%)

Total Votes: 7,944

OK, let’s get started, download IE7.  The download itself is simple and quick, let’s click on the file to install it.  It wants to do the Genuine (Dis)Advantage Validation again, although this PC has been validated before  – fine, so be it.  Next it downloads the latest updates to IE7.  WTF? It’s not like I bough a retail CD months ago, I’ve just downloaded the thingie from Microsoft this very moment!  I should have the latest and greatest, but it’s updating for a looooooooong time.  Then it installs for long minutes – I don’t know if it’s frozen, but I had enough trouble with failed Windows updates to know better than interrupt the process.

About 25 minutes later the damn thing tells me to restart the computer. After reboot, in just a bit less than half an hour total I have control of my PC again.   I haven’t touched IE7 yet, but I’m already biased against it.  I did not agree to half an hour of my time stolen. Any program that takes more than a few minutes to install should warn the user – otherwise it’s hijacking my computer and stealing my time, which it has not right to do.  Microsoft just does not learn.  thumbs_down



Life Becoming Normal Again

This is mostly a thank you note to the countless friends who commented here on the blog or emailed me wishing well to my Dad prior to his heart surgeryheart I can’t tell you how much it meant to me, and even more to my Dad, although he does not even know you…

He is now back home recovering after a successful surgery, and life is gradually returning to normal (?) – that means  I will resume blogging soon.

Thanks again, everyone smile_regular


How I’ll be a Star on MTV

“I want my, I want my MTV
I want my, I want my MTV…”

(Money For Nothing, Dire Straits)

The voicemail on my cellphone says:

This is …. from MTV Casting. Everybody liked you. The Director wants you to come back tomorrow noon and you’ll all be recorded individually. Please call me to confirm at  310-xxx-xxxx.

Wow… I’ll be a star!  I’m really excited… but why does she call me Carla?  

Oh, well … I won’t be the next star after all … just called the casting agent to let her know she reached the wrong number.