Archives for 2007


Christmas -2

Techies Sing Holiday Songs




Christmas -3


watch the video here, in case the embedded player does not work.

(Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid)


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Web 2.0 in the Enterprise

Now, here’s a powerful way of using Web 2.0 tools in the Enterprise: smile_nerd

Source: Geek and Poke.


Microsoft in Your Car

Watch the video here in case the embedded player does not work.

(hat tip: TechCrunch)

Related: If You Crash, Crash BIG


Christmas -4


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Christmas -5

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25 Tips for a Better Wiki Deployment + 1 Tip on How to NOT Use Presentations

Thanks to Stewart Mader I found this presentation on 25 Tips for a Better Wiki Deployment. As someone deeply interested in wikis and their use in business, I attempted to read through, but grew increasingly frustrated. Not because of the content, which is good, but the format. Why on earth have they (who?) delivered this in a presentation format?

All slides in this deck are divided in two half, one textual, the other graphical. Consequently they all show signs of the two cardinal sins of “committing” presentations.

1. – There’s way too much text. If you want me to read a story, you might as well type it up, use paragraphs, title fonts, bullet-points…etc, but don’t pretend it’s a presentation.

2. – Visuals are supposed to illustrate your point, capture my attention, shocking me, entertain me – whatever, just do something! This slide deck uses identical (rather boring, but that’s beyond the point) graphics on all 25 slides, which is just as good as no graphics at all.

In summary, the textual half of each slide is way too busy, the graphical half is a missed opportunity: this is NOT a presentation.

What’s a good presentation like? Enjoy the winners of the World’s Best Presentation Contest on Slideshare (hat tip: Guy Kawasaki)


Analyst’s Cloudy View on Cloud Computing (Updated … a lot)

Burton Group Analyst Guy Creese decided to add some of his views originally left out of the New York Times article “Google Gets Ready to Rumble with Microsoft.” (hat tip: Mary Jo Foley). He’s making reasonable arguments in the first half of the post -for example I agree that corporations will use Web Office products as leverage to squeeze Microsoft in licence negotiations. But then comes a twist that leaves me speechless:

“It took electricity 60 years to move to the cloud model; why should software be any different?”

Steve asked me about Eric Schmidt’s assertion that the cloud (and hence Google) can handle 90% of today’s computing tasks. My answer was, “Maybe in the next 30, but not in the next five.” This response is colored by what happened with electricity in the late 1800’s. Edison invented the first long-lasting incandescent lamp in 1880, but it wasn’t until 50 years later (1930), that 80% of businesses and 70% of homes were electrified in the U.S. And it was really only in the 1940’s and 1950’s that the numbers climbed into the 90% range.

If you look at the electricity adoption curve, it mimics what is happening now. People made their own electricity for the first 30 years. It was only in 1910, when Samuel Insull began creating electricity holding companies, that businesses and people decided it was easier and cheaper for someone to take over the task. If you figure usable PCs were invented in 1975, we’re about 30 years into a 50- to 60-year adoption cycle. People move a lot slower than technologists want them to; that’s why I think Microsoft’s “software and services” viewpoint is the less exciting but more sensible one.

The electricity metaphor is indeed a good one – for more details, read Nick Carr’s The Big Switch. There really are a lot of similarities in the process – except the timing. I can’t even begin to comprehend how a business analyst can equate the rate of technological advancements today to that of the late 1800’s, early 1900’s – and apparently that’s what Guy Creese does. And as for the 30-year prediction… oh, please… where were computers 30 years ago? I don’t want to use cheap tricks like the famous misquote attributed to IBM’s Thomas Watson: ” I think there is a world market for maybe five computers“, but who could have predicted where we are now 30 years ago? Anyone who claims he can see computing trends for the next 30 years is smoking something, IMHO.

Update (12/18): Hmm… just because a study by NPD finds Web Office adoption rate low, Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Watch is ready to bury it. He conveniently ignores the fact that we are in the very early stages of the transition to cloud computing. Nick Carr has it right, stating:

Wilcox misreads the study. He writes that “94 percent of U.S. consumers have never heard of Web-based productivity suite alternatives.” Actually, the survey, as indicated by a chart in Wilcox’s post, puts that figure at 73%. That means that more than a quarter of PC users are aware of the online alternatives, which actually strikes me as fairly high given that it’s so early in the market’s development.

ReadWriteWeb adds: Path to Market is Only Just Beginning. Mathew Ingram agrees. Or here’s Between the Lines:

This survey simply indicates that a tipping point toward the cloud hasn’t been reached yet. So-called Web phenomenon like Google search, Facebook or MySpace didn’t mystically reach warp speed in adoption. Moving robust applications to the cloud is a bit more complex than instant messaging or a social graph. At some point software-as-a-service applications, with offline support, will take the bulk of the pie, but it will require a few more turns of the crank.

And I suppose Damon Darlin, technology Editor of The New York Times is part of the 0.5%:

I’ve lived for a month without Word. And it has set me free.

Update to the Update… I guesssmile_wink (Who would have thought that what started yesterday as a quick rant becomes part of the hot topic du jour a few hours later…)

Don Dodge joins the list of those who conveniently ignore where we are on the innovation curve and declares Google has its head in the clouds. Ironically, Don himself declared yesterday: Google vs. Microsoft = Microsoft vs IBM 30 years ago, and he is right (although I suspect he means a different end-game this time). He quotes the “Innovators Dilemma”, by way of Henry Blodget (apologies for the long quote, but it’s a perfect fit to our discussion here):

Disruptive technologies do not destroy existing market leaders overnight. They do not get adopted by the entire market at the same time. They do not initially seem to be “better” products (in fact, in the early going, they are often distinctly “worse.”) They are not initially a viable option for mainstream users. They do not win head-to-head feature tests. Initially, they do not even seem to be a threat.

Disruptive technologies begin by providing a cheaper, more convenient, simpler solution that meets the needs of the low-end of the market. Low-end users don’t need all the features in the Incumbent’s product, so they rapidly adopt the simpler solution. Meanwhile, the Incumbent canvasses its mainstream customers, reassures itself that they want the feature-rich products, and dismisses the Disruptor as a niche player in an undesirable market segment.

But then the Disruptor improves its products, adding more features while keeping the convenience and low cost. Now the product appeals to more mainstream users, who adopt it not because it’s “better” but because it’s simpler and cheaper. Seeing this, the Incumbent continues adding ever more features and functionality to its core product to try to maintain its value proposition for higher end customers. And so on. Eventually, the Incumbent’s product overshoots the needs of the mass market, the Disruptor grabs the mainstream customers, and, lo and behold, the technology has been “disrupted.”

Don’s conclusion is that Microsoft, having been a disruptor before learned the ropes and will come out a winner this time around. The magic potion: Software Plus Services. Software Plus Services does not work for me, like Dennis, I am a weirdo, living in the Cloud. I am a consumer / prosumer / business user, you-name-it, but not an IT specialist; so I simply want to enjoy the power of software, without the hassle. That is the promise of Software as a Service.

As a user / customer, I don’t like Microsoft offerings, including Office Live Workspace, because of the product tie-ins. But I don’t join the “venture capitalists and A-list bloggers who are ridiculing the Redmondians for not discontinuing immediately any more client-based Office development and turning Office into a Web-based product.” They can’t. They shouldn’t. They have a huge legacy business to defend. They owe it to themselves and their shareholders to milk the desktop market for as long as it remains this lucrative. But what am I doing here… I let Don Dodge explain it better: Why The Next Big Thing doesn’t usually come from market leaders.

Thanks, Don, for so persuasively debating with yourselfsmile_wink

Update to the Update to the Update (I’m losing it..): How could I have missed WinExtra and ParisLemon


Google: I’m NOT Feeling Lucky

Just about every 3rd Google search I make tonight results in the message below:

We’re sorry…

… but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.

We’ll restore your access as quickly as possible, so try again soon. In the meantime, if you suspect that your computer or network has been infected, you might want to run a virus checker or spyware remover to make sure that your systems are free of viruses and other spurious software.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope we’ll see you again on Google

Somehow I’m Not Feeling Lucky today…

Update: It’s really not just me. Breaking: Google is Broken reports Mashable.

Update (4/10): Paul Adams describes a similar experience @ Wired, and his commenters believe it’s caused by some anonymizer software.  It’s not.  It JUST HAPPENS.


Intuit’s Update Fiasco: There is a Better Way

Intuit appears to have entered a new market, that of permanent file deletion. Whether you want it or notsmile_angry:

“Mac users who installed an update to their QuickBooks software over the weekend were met with a nasty surprise: missing data.

The update caused several Mac users to lose data from their Desktop folders, infuriating many who were hoping to close their books this week for 2007, only to lose valuable purchase orders and spreadsheets” – reports

Intuit’s recommendation:

“For those of you who have been affected, we are testing out options for recovering the deleted files. Our recommendation for now is to turn off your computer and do not use it further. If you continue using your computer or reboot, you may over-write the area on the disk where the deleted data is stored, preventing any recovery efforts from being effective.”

Hm…considering the type/size of businesses typically using QuickBooks, not touching their computer in the middle of the year-end rush may not be a viable option.smile_sad. Intuit is clearly throwing in support resources, customers can register and will be called back to individually assess their situation. For many, the damage may very well be more than losing a few hours:

(This is where I wanted to quote an Intuit forum message claiming lost file, lost business damage – I saw the post 15 minutes ago, now it’s gone. Could it have been deleted?)

We’re living in the age of crappy software. QuickBooks is not alone, this incident is just more dramatic than the typical update failures. Even when updates don’t fail, they are becoming a nuisance. Last week I just pinged someone on Skype, when my Internet connection dropped again – a “standard” Vista feature, to be remedied by a reboot. So there I was, waiting to resume the chat session when the machine decided to implement 9 updates. This being a ‘screamer’ PC the update only took 7 minutes before shut-off, and a few more to configure on re-start; by the time I could come back online, my chat partner was gone. The two XP laptops in the house are a lot slower, so I just left them alone to complete their 11 updates… experience tells me sometimes these take half an hour or more.clock Who has time for this? Between the applications we actually use and all the crapware needed just to keep our computers running (virus scan, firewall, anti-spy, desktop search, backup, synchronization …etc), it’s just getting way too much to deal with.

By now my regular readers probably know where I am heading: there is a better, safer, easier way. Proponents of Cloud computing (On-demand, SaaS) typically point out portability, collaboration as key benefits, but there’s another huge benefit: ease of mind. The web applications I often use (Gmail, the Zoho Productivity Suite, CRM..etc) get updated just as frequently (actually, more) than their desktop counterparts, but I don’t have to worry about these updates: the service provider takes care of them. The whole process is not transparent to me, the user. I dumped the responsibility on the service provider: they work for me. smile_wink

Are you ready to have peace of mind?

Update: I could not have made this up: just as I was about to post this, I checked TechMeme for updates to the Intuit story, only to see this headline: Microsoft security update cripples IE .

I rest my case.

Related posts:, CNET, The Apple Core, CrunchGear, MacUser, Macsimum News, Ubergizmo, Apple Gazette, O’Grady’s PowerPage, Zero Day , Donna’s SecurityFlash, AccMan Pro.