Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Windows Live updates are trash

Recently I received an email from Microsoft inviting me to "update" my Windows Live beta account. I have been a big fan of the Windows Live Beta, blogging about it and comparing it positively to Google Docs.

Well I take it all back. The update took a folder I had in Windows live, like the one above, which had almost all the features of a SharePoint document library and left me with the crap we see below, and pathetic Sky Drive.

I have to be frank, I really am having serious questions about Microsoft's execution on the cloud. Frankly I simply don't use it in the cloud anymore. This recent "downgrade" to something as useless as Sky Drive has made me very happy I kept my main files in Google Docs.

One really has to wonder from the failure of Kin, the failed effort to get Yahoo (should they even have tired) and Ray Ozzie leaving one has to wonder if the Cloud is even a place Microsoft has any future at all in.

I am writing this as a concerned SharePoint professional. SharePoint in its current firm is the best Enterprise collaboration tool, but is the very concept of the Enterprise valid in a world of network culture and clouds. This world of network culture is more the place for Google, and I am getting very concerned.
Posted by Picasa

BBC News - EU launches antitrust probe into alleged Google abuses

BBC News - EU launches antitrust probe into alleged Google abuses:
Google's European headquarters
"The European Commission has launched an investigation into Google after other search engines complained that the firm had abused its dominant position.

The EC will examine whether the world's largest search engine penalised competing services in its results.

The probe follows complaints by firms including price comparison site Foundem and legal search engine ejustice.fr."

Security by an away the primary concern with the Cloud

Mission Critical Data Not Getting Backed Up, Slowing the Move to the Cloud:

"Managing Failovers
While security is still the principal concern for two-thirds of companies putting applications in the cloud, over half of companies said that their biggest problem with cloud computing deployments was how to control failovers and to ensure that the effected data could still be made available.

Cloud deployment concerns"

Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life

Monday, 29 November 2010

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Facebook and MySpace to Make Joint Announcement on Thursday

Facebook and MySpace to Make Joint Announcement on Thursday:

"Our best clue as to what the two companies will announce is that Facebook’s VP for Platform Marketing will be making the joint announcement on behalf of Facebook. If we had to guess, we’d say the announcement will be related to MySpace using the Facebook Platform or Facebook Connect."

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Models of different workload patterns for the Cloud

The following graph was shown as part of "Microsoft’s PaaS Solution: The Windows Azure Platform" presentation at UP 2010. These are the usage patterns I guess any service will likely see. In developing a sizing solution for SharePoint you need to make an educated assumption about which one it will be, and provision your sizing or Cloud services for that. With SharePoint the growing Fast solution is very common, and you must be prepared for rapid take up.
Posted by Picasa

Looking inside the machine that runs the Cloud


Microsoft's Azure Cloud Datacenter in Chicago

This is the Machine behind the Matrix. Just looking at these images lets you know the power of Cloud over local hosted web solutions. Clearly the future is in the Cloud.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Tweether Report: Find the present density of geo tweets anywhere in the world

The Tweether Report: Find the present density of geo tweets anywhere in the world

Fabasoft Folio Cloud

Fabasoft Folio Cloud offers a cloud based niche direct competition to SharePoint Office 365.

You can test Fabasoft Folio Cloud for free by registering for an account. Give it a try at https://folio.fabasoft.com The site has the advantage of being free up to 1 GB of free storage so you can give it a try to see if it works for you. I will be playing with this and see how it compares to Google Docs. I have been a Google Docs users for about 4 years now ad have a love/hate relationship with the product. So it will be interesting to see how Fabasoft.

Warning, Fabasoft has a lurker site called Fabsoft. Make sure you type in FABASOFT and not FABSOFT. Even the url folio.fabsoft.com will take you to another companies site.

And it works with my iPad, which is a major plus. Though I do already use the SharePlusLite iPad app for connection to SharePoint sites.
Posted by Picasa

Web 3.0: The Next Phase of the Net

This animation illustrates how we see the web moving from a boring work tool to a social enabling tool linked to the real world and mobile.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Tablet war, a war I saw coming a year ago

Today, the Android and iPad products

MSNBC writes about how the Samsung Tablet gets a war going between Apples iPad product and Google Android based alternative.

Galaxy Tab vs. iPad: The tablet war begins now - Technology & science - Wireless - msnbc.com

In January of this year, before the iPad was even launched I wrote a small piece about how I saw this coming war shaking out

A year ago, my outline of how the battle was like to work out, still waiting for the Microsoft relaunch.

So far the Apple and Android products have taken the hand held in to the tablet space, or slate as I was calling them at the time. Microsoft past efforts to make a tablet have been ongoing and frustrating. This, I feel, is because of Microsoft inability to part with the concept of "Windows". Windows is the idea that has made the company. With the rise of web 3.0 it is time to stop looking at windows.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

BBC News - Yahoo shares rise 5% amid rumours of private equity bid

Yahoo shares have risen sharply amid rumours that it is about to be bought.

Its shares jumped almost 6% to $17.60 at the start of trading in New York, before dropping back to end 2.2% ahead.

Unconfirmed media reports have claimed that a number of investment firms are preparing a deal that would take Yahoo private.

E-commerce firm Alibaba declined to comment on reports that its chairman had been approached to head a takeover of Yahoo.

Meanwhile, the New York Post said that private equity giant KKR was interested in either taking Yahoo private or helping to finance a deal.

And AOL is also reported to be among the firms eyeing the possibility of buying Yahoo

BBC News - Yahoo shares rise 5% amid rumours of private equity bid

Long story short, this may be the last chance you ever have to make, and most likely lose, money on Yahoo.

Google vs Facebook, the big picture

BBC News - Facebook and Google in data sharing spat

BBC reports about a spat between Google and Facebook over access to GMail account data. This battle between the two primary Internet players is not repeated between Facebook and Microsoft, who are pretty close to each other. Not only did I load MSN data in to Facebook by my MSN Live Messenger and Live Email now have Facebook integration.

The way I see it Facebook and Microsoft have a natural alignment. Microsoft is a major investor in Facebook and as we move forward expect to see more and more integration between Microsoft Cloud products and Facebook services.

I see more and more the Cloud shaking up to a larger battle between Google and Microsoft. And I think any battle between Facebook and Google is really part of this larger war.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Jive Overview, one of SharePoint's few remaining competitors

Jive's SBS software probably has a slight advantage in UI and functionality over SharePoint. Though SharePoint 2010 catches up with a great deal of these features, there is still a market alternative to SharePoint. Since Jive works with non-Microsoft platforms like Linux and MySQL it offers "SharePoint" for those firms not on the Microsoft Stack.

For a firm solidly in the Novell SUSE world this offers a Social Content Management without having to migrate from Novell to Microsoft. Migrating from Novell to Microsoft can be extremely time consuming and costly and returns no benefit beyond being on Microsoft. Administrators I know who work at Novell shops seem pretty happy with the set of solutions and I would first suggest they look at Jive before thinking about bringing SharePoint in to the mix.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Ballmer sells over 1 billion bucks of Microoft

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has sold $1.3bn (£800m) worth of shares in the firm, the first time he has sold its stock in seven years.
BBC News - Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer in sale of shares

I for one hope this is the first sign of the end of Ballmer's rule. Not that he has been bad, totally. Its just that what ever he was going to do he has done. I think Gate's main problem was he was a geek, and sometimes he was more interested in the code and concepts rather than the business. Gates was trying to be Job and Wozniack at the same time. In things like Windows 95 and Office he did it. In things like .NET, Vista, and a vast array of other failed projects the point was often confusing. Ballmer I think was to make the company grown up and in SharePoint and Enterprise he has done that. Microsoft is more stable than it was under Gates and more mature in how it works with the Enterprise.

The thing is the overall Internet market is a far cry from being grown up, and there is a real need for a lot of kids.

In praise of PHP, yes you read that in praise of PHP

Why did I learn ASP back in the 20th Century? There were other server side systems from Pearl to Java and ColdFusion. I had worked on projects with these and others, including List and SmallTalk. So why did I learn, and for years code in VB on ASP?

Because it was simple and cheap.

All you needed was a IIS server on a Windows machine. Anyone with a Windows 2000 or Windows XP machine could develop ASP code. You could write in in a text editor. To run the software you only needed to get a server with Windows NT server with IIS.

You could develop on an Access Database and then migrate easily enough to SQL Server. This made ASP an idea platform for young entrepreneurs who wanted to quickly pick up server side coding and produce a web solution at cost. You could write it and test in on your own PC and deploy. Sure it cost more than Perl, but Perl was not a very easy language to understand.

Things have changed a great deal. With the confusing way Microsoft had introduced .NET, through the different version of .NET and the issues with compatibility, to the fact you have to have a MSc in Computer Science to really fully understand .NET to the fact that .NET seems to think it knows what you wanted to write, year after year it became actually harder just to trash something out that implemented your core idea with the Microsoft back end.

Though WSS in theory can accelerate Web Development, the fact is if you don't intend to do with WSS what Microsoft thinks you should do with WSS its a pretty hard system to build web solutions in.

Recently I have been doing some development looking at Web 3.0 crowd sourcing ideas. I don't have much budget and I don't have much time. I will say simply that I would not even try to do this in .NET. Just the costs of getting the proper server and the fact that ASP.NET now using C# has become almost as difficult to code as J2EE. If you are running an Enterprise solution it is great, but I just want to get some quick server side code out.

And thus I have been introduced to PHP. Lets say it has been love at first site so far. The language is simple at its base, easy to learn and use just like the old VB was. And without typing all the casting issues of VB.NET are gone. I have found I have been able to implement POCs for Web 3.0 logic connecting to RESTFUL Twitter APIs using PHP on a server that costs be about £30 a year. I could download Komodo for free, and I don't have to spend hours and hours figuring out what everything is.

Certainly I am not making mature complex Enterprise ready solutions, but that is precisely the point. As technology evolves individuals without a lot of time and money are going to want to test some strange idea. They are more likely than not going to throw the idea away. The entire process of planning and documentation leading to Enterprise standard code in .NET or J2EE is not right for everyone.

And it is especially not right for the kind of activity that adds the most long term value to the Internet as an industry: quick R&D by small groups of guys and gals in their dorm rooms or late night in the den.

So as ASP open the door to a new class of web developer in 1999 and helped accelerate the rise of the Web PHP continues this. Sadly ASP.NET is now too costly and too complex to be a comfortable place for a new generation of start ups to play and create the future.

BBC News - Facebook eyes mobile domination

"This deals product is a game changer," said Augie Ray from analyst firm Forrester.

"When you consider that check-in sites like Foursquare has five million users and Facebook has 500 million, you begin to get a sense of where this can scale.

BBC News - Facebook eyes mobile domination

NYT: Chasing pirates: Inside Microsoft's war room - Technology & science - The New York Times - msnbc.com

The raid added to a body of evidence confirming La Familia’s expansion into counterfeit software as a low-risk, high-profit complement to drugs, bribery and kidnapping. The group even stamps the disks it produces with “FMM,” which stands for Familia Morelia Michoacana, right alongside the original brand of various software makers.
NYT: Chasing pirates: Inside Microsoft's war room - Technology & science - The New York Times - msnbc.com

Well Open Source would prevent this kind of crime I guess.

Friday, 5 November 2010

BBC News - Burma hit by massive net attack ahead of election

An ongoing computer attack has knocked Burma off the internet, just days ahead of its first election in 20 years.

The attack started in late October but has grown in the last few days to overwhelm the nation's link to the net, said security firm Arbor Networks.

Reports from Burma say the disruption is ongoing.

The attack, which is believed to have started on 25 October, comes ahead of closely-watched national elections on 7 November.

International observers and foreign journalists are not being allowed into the country to cover the polls.

BBC News - Burma hit by massive net attack ahead of election

What Star Wars can teach us about Technology

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace

Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace

With SharePoint 2010 Microsoft has taken a great lead with social software. Accroding to Gartner's recent Magic Quadrant Microsoft is in a tight fight with Jive and IBM. Interesting that IBM Lotus technology has been established so much longer and yet Microsoft has been able to come up to if not beyond it.

Jive is an interesting company that has thrown so much in to the Social Web, and as I read Magic Qadrants this one says SharePoint 2010 and Jive are probably overall equal, with slightly different strengths. Remember that this is only valid for 2010. SharePoint 2007 Social capacity can be summed up in one empty phrase "blogs and wikis". In short really nothing.

I don't mean to pound on this drum too much but for most organisation, even teams with less than a 100 members or even 1,000 members it is highly unlikely you will get 1 active blogger and impossible to get the 5 people you would need to make a Wiki. Blogs and wikis are certainly key parts of Web 2.0, but they require massive crowd sourcing since they are governed by extreme power laws. Only a tiny fraction of users will contribute content and very very few will stick with the project for long. Remember 2005-2006, the year of 5 entry blogs cluttering the Internet? Take a look around Wikispaces and see how many Wikis get started and go no where.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Mobile Sharepoint 2010 & Office 2010 Demo

We are not at all impressed by Windows 7 Mobile for SharePoint. Not much improvement, really, from 2007 reduced look at SharePoint sites. Microsoft must start doing better at mobile.

I really liked my own test of the Samsung Galaxy Android Tab

I tested the Samsung Galaxy Tab and it is pretty sweet. It has a camera, some ports, and is much smaller and easier to use. Loved it.

An open letter to Microsoft

Over the past 5 years there were a number of things I learned.

I learned about Microsoft Social Network Services. I could give a great sales pitch how Microsoft would release, by 2007, tools to support companies forming social networks and developing social computing solutions. Groups I spoke to loved the idea, and could understand how this tool would promote finding needed information and people.

Later I learned PerformancePoint, spending several weeks learning just how to install it.

I learned PopFly and produced dozens of MashUps using the Microsoft tool.

I created a Windows Office Live workspace to manage my own files.

All of these came to nothing, and now it seems pretty clear Silverlight is being crashed.

The thing is I got wise already. I spent a few days learning Silverlight but when I saw it was trash compared to Adobe Flash I stopped learning it. I also didn't bother to learn Vista.

You see I am getting wise to being let down. Its not so bad that I have been let down again and again, but beyond the promised products not being very good I have had the problem of lost effort and lost content.

Frankly I really would not trust Microsoft Cloud right now. When my Windows Live files were taken away and suddenly I had SkyDrive I was happy I kept my Google Docs page. And I am very happy I got off Microsoft Live blog in 2005 and kept with Blogger.

When I got caught in Indian floods this summer I learned the hard way that Hotmail will not work now unless you have very good Internet. With the Internet very weak because of the flood I was happy to have a GMail account to let people know I was okay.

Anyone see a pattern here? My career is predicated on SharePoint technology and things still look good, but I am looking more and more at PHP based systems, and I keep an eye on Apple, Google and Linux.

Microsoft I need you, but I don't trust you any more.

End of the line for Silverlight? I for one would not mind

Developers say Microsoft has "betrayed" them by changing strategy on the Silverlight web technology.

When first announced Silverlight was portrayed as a rival to Flash and key to getting Microsoft software running on many different devices.

Now Microsoft is slowing Silverlight development and turning its attention to web standards such as HTML5.

Silverlight will remain as a way to get apps running on Windows phone 7.

The strategy shift emerged as a result of an interview that Bob Muglia, Microsoft's head of servers and tools division, gave at the company's Professional Developers Conferenc

BBC News - Coders decry Silverlight change

I was so excited when I first started looking at Silverlight 3. "Introducing Silverlight 3" from Microsoft Press is probably one of the few technology books I have read cover to cover. Then I started to play around with it. In short, it stinks. Silverlight 3 can't even touch Flash 3, the interface is terrible and tool is so complex. I think only a .NET developer could get anything much out if and it utterly lacks Flash's intuitive interface and use.

Frankly I am of the opinion that Microsoft was wasting its time with Silverlight, that it would take Microsoft almost a decade to get it anywhere near the level of Flash. And Flash best period is probably over. From what I have seen and heard about HTML 5 its hard to see the real value of having to get a plugin at all. In 2002 Flash was pretty amazing, but it probably is time to embrace an open browser standard for defining rich multimedia.

My vote, Microsoft should probably just drop Silverlight entirely and make a deal with Adobe to create a Flash with .NET offering.

BBC News - Amazon's Kindle offers access to banned sites in China

Amazon's Kindle devices are selling in China because the e-reader allows users to log on to banned sites such as Twitter and Facebook, reports say.

The device bypasses the infamous Great Firewall, making it popular on the so-called grey market according to the South China Morning Post.

Officially the Kindle is not available in mainland China.

But a quick search of Chinese auction site Taobao reveals hundreds of them on offer.

BBC News - Amazon's Kindle offers access to banned sites in China

Fast Search with Content Transformation Services

Fast Search with Content Transformation Services should be pretty easy for anyone who has looked at something like Yahoo Pipes. These new feature in Fast Search gives developers a graphic tool for transforming Internet content before is sent to the Fast search engine.

Having used Pipes a lot be warned, what looks easy in graphic demo can be very difficult to implement in reality.

Are you Web 1.0, Web 2.0, or Web 3.0?

Are you Web 1.0, Web 2.0, or Web 3.0?

Total Social Media allows you to determine what level of web user are you. Are you an old fashioned Web 1.0 user, a social Web 2.0 or have you entered the Internet of things?

Quiz Planet on Facebook

What is SharePoint after all? A short video pitch for those utterly confused.

If you are utterly confused at what SharePoint is, or what is is suppose to do, and you find all the information on the web too technical, I have produced this short introduction "talking head" video. No complex graphics, and as little IT jargon as possible, just a description of how you can use SharePoint.

I go over the key feature of SharePoint as a business tool, tell how it can be used to manage documents and potentially also for Web 2.0 services like Blogs, Wikis, and Social Networks.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

What is Office365?

Office 365 is Microsoft in the Cloud. They are selling IaaS services via Lnyc IM, SharePoint collaboration, and Exchange Server in the Cloud. The solution works both with Office in the Cloud or you can connect and collaborate via Office 2010 on your desktop.

It seems idea for smaller Enterprises that would like to have a full Enterprise information management solution but can't afford a data centre I really don't see existing data centres moving to Office 365 in the near future.

I have signed up for the Beta but Microsoft has not replied yet. A word to the wise, Microsoft has tried and pulled other Cloud solution in the recent past. I had a small business using Windows Live a few years back only to find it became a much more limited SkyDrive. Not cool. I also made dozen of PopFly Microsoft MashUps only to have them vanish one day. You are going to want to give Microsoft a year or so to prove this.

But I am pretty confident that this product will be a major part of Microsoft future.

The Check-in War: Gowalla vs. Foursquare - AppJudgment

How to Unlock Your World With Foursquare

Taking a Second Look at Google Chrome OS

At first I utterly dismissed Google Chrome OS as nothing compared to Windows 7 or Mac OS X, or even Ubuntu. From a first view, and as someone who uses a number of Linux OSs, Google Chrome looks like a diminished version of SUSE Linux. Which is for the user all it is. You have a word processor and an email client and Chrome. So it is ideal if you use Cloud service for the just about everything. I have been reading more about Chrome OS and I have learned that it is a very secure OS. So for a future table iPad like computer or note book it might be a good idea. It is fast and easy to use.

But the problem is that it is just a window on the Cloud. 4 years ago I built a Linux machine on an old LapTop which could no longer handle even Windows XP and I did an experiment of "living on the Cloud". So I speak from 4 years of trying out being a Cloud user. Now I didn't just test it a few hours a year and think about this. With that Linux box I wrote all my papers for my Masters degree in Google Docs, I joined facebook on it and use it watch YouTube. So I can say I have already been where Chrome OS is trying to take us.

There is no question that going Cloud reduces the demands for a OS. When you are Cloud you no longer need all the features of an OS X or Windows 7. But I still find going utterly Cloud a bit minimal. Like the iPad it has its uses, but at some point you are probably going to want to get your hands on a powerful PC computer that you can install software on, play high end games on, and attach lots of devices to. And this is where Chrome OS, in my opinion, fails. You really just have a web browser. On the version I am running the security prevents me from installing new software. One of the great things about a Linux computer is you get tons of Software for free.

It seems to me that Google Chrome OS is more of how Google wants you to use your PC, not how you want to use your PC. Google has a stake in making everyone to use Google web sites for everything, cutting out Microsoft entirely from the picture. This OS seems to be more built upon the requirements of Google for how they want the OS to support their business model, rather than being a OS I would want to use.

And the close tie to Google sort of violates the entire idea of Linux. Linux is there to make you independent of any specific company. I have another Linux machines I use for PHP and 3D design. I can't see myself doing that with a Chrome OS.

So to sum up, if you only use your computer to go the the Internet and you only really use Google services, you might look in to getting a nice light net book or tablet with Google Chrome OS. But if you are a gamer, a developer, a graphic artists, a music downloader, or you really want to hold your digital assets on your own desktop I can't see using this OS.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, 1 November 2010

Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain | Video on TED.com

Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain | Video on TED.com

SharePoint 2010 Access Services Demo

Crowd Source Luddite, should you give free work to Google.

Notice when Facebook gives you this two words to type in to confirm you are human? This is called a Captcha. When you have two words like this you have a reCaptcha. In a two word reCaptcha only the first word is really a test. The second word is being used by Google to crowd source converting digitally scanned books in to text format. The idea is that if someone gets the first term correct, they will also get the second word correct. You might have noticed that the second term is always an actual word, though the first one is often just a meaningless combination of symbols. Once the second term I got was in Russian, which might happen rarely to people.

Most sites that use reCaptcha have a link and tell you clearly that your "cognitive surplus" is being used by Google to convert digital books in to text. But Facebook does not seem to think this is worth telling you. You can "elect" to not take part in Google's efforts by typing in anytihing for the second word. In the case above the item was shared with Facebook fine.

Though I think the idea of reCaptcha's are way cool I have two issues. First I don't see why Facebook does not bother to tell you that you are doing free work for Google. On a deeper level I am not sure that Google will use this free work I provide for the good. If the plan is only to convert scanned books in to digital books so they can be shared with the world that is great. Give me all the reCaptchas I can do. But I personally am a bit troubled with the possibility that Google might try to sell what I am doing. In that way Google will be getting work from everyone and then charging them for the benefits of the work they did. I think that is called slavery.

Though I will continue to fill my reCaptcha's out correctly I would like to see Facebook be more public about this, and get a more firm assurance for Google that they will not seek to profit from the work done. And if they do sell the work people have a right to some of the profit generated from their own work. Google does this with adSense and YouTube revenue sharing.

Now if you are thinking about a revolt against reCaptcha don't bother. If say 10% of users started to put in wrong second terms in protest Google would only have to implement a system of mixed checks. Sometimes the second word could be the test and the first the scanned word, and sometimes both words could be a test. People who repeatedly type in the wrong second word could easily be dealt with (up to loss of access to the authentication service and less free web product). But for right now, if you have a moral issue with Google, you can type in what ever you want for the second term.

Frankly I am surprised the entire reCaptcha thing has not been majorly hacked. I remember SETI's perfectly alturistic and open efforts to get people to give their unused computing type to the search of intelligent life in the Universe. The program was made impossible by hackers very quickly, proving that there may or may not be intelligent life in the Universe, but there is none on Earth.
Posted by Picasa