Monday, 31 January 2011

Apple, Microsoft and Google, the battle is joined

My overview of where the tablet and Cloud are fighting it out between the 3 major players.

ZDnet Down Under on what I call the "Cloud War" how Google, Apple and Microsoft are fighting for the future of device to Cloud computing.

BBC News - Microsoft profits flat despite strong Kinect sales

A Microsoft booth featuring the Kinect controller

BBC News - Microsoft profits flat despite strong Kinect sales: "Microsoft's profits for the last three months of 2010 were barely changed, despite the popularity of its Kinect controller and strong sales of Office 2010 to businesses.

Net income was $6.63bn (£4.18bn), down from $6.66bn in 2009.

Sales in the Windows division fell 30% because of the launch of Windows 7 in the corresponding quarter of 2009.

The results were better than expected, as analysts had predicted weak PC sales would hit Microsoft harder."

Despite all the doubt, year after year Microsoft still does better than most people anticipate.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

RIM to release SharePoint App

Document Mgt Roll-up: Full Libre Office Release, SharePoint Docs on Blackberry: "In the mobile space, Research in Motion (RIM) has said that it will be releasing a Blackberry SharePoint client that will manage documents and share SharePoint calendar events."

Maybe it is just mean but my impression is that Microsoft should embrace RIM as their mobility partner in the same way they have embraced Facebook as their social network partner. Build the alliance with RIM leading to purchase or just extremely close partnership.

RIM essentially is the Microsoft player in the Smartphone market, a low cost easy to use solution popular both with business and the lower end of the Smartphone market. Blackberry is the mobile phone Microsoft should have made.

I know from personal experience that a few years back Microsoft had very negative attitudes towards Blackberry, butt hat was an entirely different world. Today with the likes of Google and Apple eating up the mobile market it makes sense for Microsoft to play a strong hand in an alliance than try to finally make a good mobile phone OS.

Does Flickr have a point, the death of niche site in the face of massive Social Network sites like Facebook and Twitter

Back in 2004 Flickr was the flagship of Web 2.0 sites. Great community building tools, wonderful interface, ability to self publish text and images quickly with an innovative tool, and RSS feeds allowing you to link the tool up to outside sites.

Then it kind of lost it way. Maybe it was all because of Yahoo! buying it, or maybe it was the greatest threat to IT firms: they become to inward looking. For several years Flickr seemed more interested in regulating and controlling its users than enabling them, and it actually changed its early branding which stressed the connectivity and flexibility of the tool to a site that focused in on itself, even to the point of showing images of staff rather than users in the community icon.

The result of combined failures of Flickr and Yahoo! is that the Social Graph is owned by Facebook. Well under new outsourcing by Yahoo! you can now attach your Flickr site to Facebook. This works great for importing your friends.

But the authentication of account using Facebook was not working for me. I was able to do it with Google though.

But I have to wonder. I have just created a Flickr account using my Google Account. On Google I have a Picasa site with hundreds of images in it. There is no way I will ever load all those images to Flickr and given Flickr tendency to delete accounts for unknown reasons I frankly don't see the point.

Now I actually have my social network that I have built up on Facebook in Flickr, but again I have photo sharing on Facebook and people go on that site every day, what do I get by having photo sharing on Flickr. Given I can't even post a URL on Flickr the tool just seems like more work to get a smaller audience to see my pictures. Why not just do what most people do already and post images on Facebook.

Now I am sure some Flickr enthusiasts will tell you that you get more functionality, though I frankly can't see it. I would respond that other photo enthusiasts I have read are as quick to complain about the limits of Flickr. Even if Flickr offers more functionality than Facebook it is at best marginal and likely will be just as good shortly.

So what is the pont of any marginal targeted site in the age of Facebook. Are sites like YouTube and Flickr only as good as Facebook does not yet offer that functionality?

Is there any space for Web 2.0 services between Blogging, Twitter and Facebook? I have my publishing tool, my promotion tool, and my social network. Other sites support the three, my YouTube videos are distributed via blogs, FB and Twitter. But as for photos Google and Facebook already provide me a massive amount of storage, why would I waste my time with a third place to dump images unless it is obvious to me what I am getting?
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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Finally SharePoint can perform like a real CMS system, thanks to Blog Remoting


Lets be honest, the fact you are constrained to 200 GB databases is a real pain in SharePoint.  The fact that you have to store all your documents in database is the cause of this and many other problems.

Because SharePoint since the beginning stored the documents as unstructured blob objects the load places on SQL Server by SharePoint solutions has been a limited factor.

Blob storage probably offers no real benefit for the massive cost.  Blobs can not be indexed by SQL Server, so you have to run SharePoint Search Crawler or Fast to index a store of data you have in SQL Server.  I mean think about that!!!!

Worst of all you have to put every documents loaded to SharePoint in the most expensive storage.

100 GB limit on SQL databases drives the creation of lots of little sites, each a silo.

But you pain is over with SharePoint 2010 running with SQL 2008.  The solution is RBS or Remote Blob Storage.  With this technology SQL stores the blobs as external files, while still presenting the SQL interface to SharePoint.

This reduces the content you need to save in SQL by 95%.  That is right, a 1 TB database should become 50 GB!! 

Now you can run a true Enterprise document system with every part of your organisation sharing documents centrally, as it should be.  NO SILOs of Site Collections any more.  All because of one SQL side technology.

So send an email to your SQL DBA and start talking about RBS in SharePoint 2010.  This way you can architect true Enterprise Content Management systems in SharePoint like you get with OpenText, FileNet and ECM, but at a fraction of the cost.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

BBC News - Buy into it: The technology of online shopping

Amazon fulfilment centre

BBC News - Buy into it: The technology of online shopping:
"Shopping online is now easier — and more popular — than ever, whether for physical goods like books or groceries, or music and movie downloads.

The web made its name as a home for bargains, since internet retailers could undercut shop prices by avoiding overheads such as rent.

But using the web to lower prices is not the only hi-tech trick that internet retailers have up their sleeves."

Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Microsoft explains Windows phone 7 'phantom data'

Steve Ballmer holds a Windows Phone 7 handset

BBC News - Microsoft explains Windows phone 7 'phantom data': "Microsoft has confirmed that some handsets running its Windows Phone 7 software are sending and receiving 'phantom data'."

What I find telling about this story is how long it took this issue to emerge and how little I have heard about it. When the iPhone 4 came out I think we knew every little bug and major problems in a few weeks.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Get your binary files out of my database! Making the case for remove blog storage in SharePoint

First let me say that remote blog storage didn't start with SQL Server 2008 and SharPoint 2010. 3rd Party products have provided these feature to SQL for some time. So remote blog storage (RBS) is something you should be thinking about with almost any SharePoint solution.

In fact looking back at things there are a few times that RBS could have saved some serious problem I had concerning migration.

Rob D'Oria has written an excellent post laying out the case from RBS here. I think probably you should read Rob's article over my own. The only thing I would want to ad is a very high level view of why SharePoint kind of forces RBS.

Rob D'Oria noticed what I notice, SharePoint has a unique and deeply disturbing problem of taking the content documents you upload to document libraries and storing them in the database. When a document like Word is stored in a database as a long string of binary data it is called a BLOB. Blog is an ugly name because BLOBs are simply put: ugly. You get no real benefit by putting the data in the database and you end up paying a fortune for storage.

Every ECM I have worked with (Open Text. EMC, and FileNet) takes the documents and stores them as just files on a file store. Open Text has some wonderful products for moving to cheaper and cheaper storage, right down to something called WORM, Write Once Read Many.

The important point is that BLOB storage is neither normal for ECM nor cheap. SharePoint has implement a normal data storage model which is both expensive and strange. And it gets worse.

Most ECM system use database to simply track metadata and some other overhead. So with something like Open Text you can store all your files in a massive single location with TBs of data, and the database is fairly small, all the major storage is on the local drive. If there is a database failure you can restore the small database very quickly. And the database does not grow very much as you add new files. And perhaps most importantly the size of the files does not directly drive up the size of the database.

SharePoint is fundamentally flawed in placing all unstructured data in the SQL database, meaning you get very large databases by the user loading up large documents. Since databases can not index BLOB storage this always felt like a radical fault to SharePoint, and it was one reason to front it with something like Open Text.

But BLOB storage is a SQL issue, and you can use a 3rd party product to support RBS with any supported SQL Server. So if you are using SharePoint and you find you have these massive SQL Server Databases that have grown over the years, and you can see no easy way to reduce them, or you have a requirement to build a site with a massive SQL Server database, I would point you to Rob D'Oria article and say GO REMOTE BLOB STORAGE.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Jimmy Wales admits Wikipedia too complicated, cat meows, and the Pope is Catholic: Reflections upon the obvious.

"Wikipedia is too complicated for many people to modify despite billing itself as 'the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit', its founder has said."

This is probably something of an understatement. Wikipedia is surely an amazing collaboration project and can only be judged as a major success.

BUT, editing the tool requires a fairly skilled computer user. And negotiating the streams of admin and conventions is maddening.

I find the admins have learned, or been selected, to be more positive and helpful, but the tool probably does need a major update. An update that continues to insure quality while opening it up to the Long Tail of knowledge out there.

A site like Quora shows the potential for user collaboration knowledge. Also Wikipedia is a bit isolated from the knowledge creation ecosystem. It's facebook page seems only interested in asking for money. It would be interested to see a new initiative that tries to extend the quality information in Wikipedia to cover every street in the world, every prominent person who ever lived, ever book ever written, ever newspaper article ever published, every item ever put up for sale.

The thing is that I trust Wikipedia. Sure I don't fully trust the crowd, but I trust the crowd more than I trust companies of any kind.

Microsoft Lync formerly Office Communications Server 14

Office Communication Server was one of the most revolutionary products to come out Microsoft in the past 10 years. Not sure why the change to name Lync, but the product should be part of any collaboration solution.

Microsoft Office 365

Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Write code in SharePoint 2010: CMS Wire covers both sides

3 Reasons You Could Write Custom Code for SharePoint 2010

3 Reasons to Not Write Custom Code for SharePoint 2010

There is probably only one really good reason to write code in SharePoint: and that is if you come along a limitation of SharePoint that requires code.

Sadly far to many SharePoint people are infrastructure experts who don't fully understand just how tricky code is, especially SharePoint code

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Setting Up a SharePoint Developer Virtual Machine | SharePoint Sideshow | Channel 9

It's easy to get started with SharePoint 2010 development using the Information Worker Virtual Machine (VM). In this episode, you will learn all of the tips and tricks to get the VM up and running.

The Information Worker virtual machine is a Hyper-V based VHD file that has everything you need to build SharePoint solutions already installed. The VM includes Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visual Studio 2010, Exchange 2010, and more. In fact, this is the VM that we use for all of the SharePoint and Office training and Hands-On Labs on Channel 9.
Setting Up a SharePoint Developer Virtual Machine | SharePoint Sideshow | Channel 9

How to aggregate data from many SharePoint sites to one view using Quest Web Parts for SharePoint

If you are not familiar with Quest Web Parts for SharePoint you certainly should become. After doing some work with them I am starting to wonder if it makes sense to deploy SharePoint without them. Aggregating multiple content sources is just one of their many useful features. As you can see above you can aggregate a large number of different sites and sow them in a folder view. This allows a single users to have view of many site collections in a single folder structure. This even allows bringing in site collections in other web servers!

The hierarchy tool is collapsible and easily expandable. The UI is very nice and I have found the fool fairly easy to learn and it solves lots of SharePoints problems. This shows the use of only one web part, qListView, the package comes with many others.

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Monday, 10 January 2011

Who is going to write all this content, things to keep in mind when moving to user generated content

(3) What activities make up the (web-based) social pyramid? - Quora

Notice that the numbers don't add up to 100%. That is because someone can be one of several roles. In fact s Spectator is likely to be a Joiner and a Creator.

The key point to take away from this is that the 20/80 rule essentially holds up. 80% of the population is reading, collecting content, commenting on content or stating their opinion on content which is created by about 24% of the total population.

When ever planning a collaboration system remember that only 20% of your users will ever engage in Creation behavior, and most them them at a very low level. If you have a small department of say 30 people there is a chance that you will not have enough people willing to produce content with enough time to produce content.

Friday, 7 January 2011

BlueTie Takes On Office365 in the SMB Enterprise Collaboration Market

"BlueTie’s Smartbins

"Smartbins offers some of the functionality of SharePoint Online in that it enables users to put files into the cloud and share them with designated users who can access them anytime and from any place.

"It also lets users tag files with contextual information rather than forcing them to bury them in assigned folders. Files can also be placed in workflows required for business processes.

"While that’s very useful and a considerable addition to BlueTie’s cloud email offeringsthat also compete with Microsoft, in the current climate the real differentiator is going to be price. This is where the reseller restructuring comes in.

"The first thing BlueTie has done is to build a reseller program that is specifically for Smartbins. It also created a ‘white-label’ system whereby resellers will be able to brand Smartbins as their own. According to BlueTie, the Smartbins program can offer partners margins ranging from 40 percent to 60 percent, free API integration and a dedicated team for support."

Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life

I got the message "Windows SharePoint Services Web Application Required on Farm, not running Upgrading", and here is the fix that worked.

Recently a SharePoint 2007 server farm I had been working with for some time stopped giving any of my users access. I check IIS and all the premissions were as they should be for all the Web Servers, but any account that could access it the night before stopped working.

Looking at the services in Farm I noticed this error

Windows SharePoint Services Web Application Required on Farm, not running Upgrading

Turns out the solution is a simple bit of command line, but not STSADMIN but psconfig. I wasted some time trying to find the STSADMIN fix.

Well the solution was rather simple,:
  • I just open the CMD command line editor in Windows Server.
  • I used the CD command line to get to the BIN file C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\BIN on my machine.
  • Typed the command psconfig -cmd upgrade -force
This then runs for a few minutes and afterwards problem was solved.

Microsoft taking positive steps to move Surface to mobile and tablet market

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Takes Surface To LCD Displays | "Microsoft said today that it is unveiling its latest generation of Microsoft Surface, the firm's touch sensitive user interface and display technology. Microsoft said that the firm, along with Samsung Electronics, is introducing a new LCD display, the Samsung SUR40, which incorporates Microsoft Surface technology. The new product is targeted at corporate customers. Microsoft said that so far, Dassault Aviation, Fujifilm Corp., Red Bull GmbH, Royal Bank of Canada and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. have agreed to deploy the product. Microsoft said the new Samsung SUR40 has a 40-inch display with 1080p high definition support, and can be used bot horizontally or vertically."

Microsoft taking positive steps to move Surface to mobile and tablet market. Surface is a wonderful concept that could expand the nature of mobility and Web 3.0. Rather than just having to carry a web device with you all the time, Surface offers the opportunity to have Internet information "surfaced" all over our environments, touch ready.

The potential of even a small blog

Share the Point is not one massively popular blog, but I did catch a moment where a small community of users were watching the page at once. This graph can show the extensive reach one person with a blog, a little knowledge, and a lot of motivation can reach a global audience.
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Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Recommending SharePoint.Sharon

I am not sure if it is normal for bloggers to recommend each other as a community or to compete for views as companies, or do both, but there is a blog I really simply must recommend for an excellent expert Sharon Richardson.

SharePoint.Sharon should be regular reading for people trying to make sense of the SharePoint world all the way up to administrators of large farms. I have no idea how Sharon keeps this up to date on the product but she does.

If you still bookmark things you should bookmark this, or maybe follow her twitter at @sharepointguide!/sharepointguide

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Yahoo! Developer Network on Facebook

If you are using Yahoo! Development tools there is a site on Facebook where you can get support. They seem to be pretty responsive to issues. Interesting that Yahoo! is making such excellent use of Facebook to keep in touch with users. But I also find the best SharePoint networks are on Facebook.

This is all part of a larger trend of Facebook evolving from a "friends" contact network limited to top end Universities and then families and friends, in to a global and agile social networking tool.

If only they would come out with a good iPad app!
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The Economist 2.0: Economist Magazine embraces Twitter

The Economist magazine is probably the best source of graphics on the planet. If you want to see any economic of social trend visualised here is the place to do it, and now the Economist has a TwitPic page where you can browse these amazing graphics.

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More Proof Facebook is in the Microsoft Camp!

As if you needed more proof that Facebook is in the Microsoft camp against Google here has got to be the final piece.

As you see the foursquare site shows your geo-location in the rich Google maps. Google Maps is, frankly speaking, still light years ahead of Bing maps or Microsoft Virtal World. But when you post this link to Facebook:

The information is shown in a bing map over a Google map. Clearly an intention to use Microsoft over a better more establishd Google product and further proof that if Microsoft has a future its in Facebook.

The thing is, if one buys the other it is no longer clea that it will be Microsoft buying Facebook. But Microsoft is pretty smart to move on from the failed effort to get Yahoo and move on to something really big. Though a Facebook merger with Microsoft would be a pretty scary Monopoly.
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Monday, 3 January 2011

Windows Live Alive?

Well perhaps its kind of nice to just go to Facebook in another window. Perhaps Windows live can make it as a portal of all my social sites but somehow I don't think Microsoft is really going to make it big with a Portal. This was Yahoo's play a few years ago.
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Windows Live Mail Provides "Newsgroups"

We really like like the Windows Live Mail client for Windows 7. The ability to hold multiple email accounts makes it a very useful tool, and the new feature of grouping emails by discussions meets the promise of Wave without all the failure of Wave stuff.

But near the bottom we saw something out of 1994: Newsgroups. Nostalgia led us to click and see what it did.

But the walk down memory lane was short lived. None of the Microsoft Newsgroups loaded up. Not sure if a newsgroup has any value at all in the age of twitter and Facebook. Which leads to the main question: why does Windows Live mail not just let import my streams from twitter or my emails from Facebook? Now that would be cool.

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Microsoft Live Writer for Windows 7

Untitled - Windows Live Writer 03012011 161124

Microsoft Live Writer for Windows 7

Microsoft has given some gifts for the new year.

Some, like new controls for your children’s web access is of no value to me.  Other’s like “mesh” seem kind of pointless. It allows me to synch data from my IE and Outlook together on the web.  If you don’t use both the point is kind of lost.  But if you use IE and Office you might want to use Mesh to backup your key data and style.

Windows Live Mesh 03012011 161704

 But Windows Live Writer promises a nice blog tool.  I like Blogger’s service because it is fairly easy to use, and I have been using it for over 8 years.  But editing tool is a bit weak, and linking it to Google Docs has never been useful to me. 

Microsoft Live Writer for Windows 7 - Windows Live Writer 03012011 161606

Microsoft Live Writer gives me a Office 2010 tool to write blogs with, which is something promising.  Especially compared to the very limited Picasa function I usually use. 

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Will 2011 Make or Break Microsoft?

There is not question that Microsoft is in a bit of trouble, and has been for some time since Google took the search space.

So far Microsoft has been lucky in Google and Yahoo. Google has not had the luck many people had imaged producing a rich set of apps for the web that would get people to stop using Microsoft products. Google Docs did not kill office, Google Search did not replace the need for Enterprise Search and Google Wave did not end up being a SharePoint killer.

But Microsoft right now is profiting as more on leverage and luck than innovation. When the new Office Web Apps came out the impressive thing was that Microsoft had produced an excellent Web Based App.

This year we saw MSN (once the main social network in the world) have to make a deal with Facebook Social Graph to keep MSN IM relevant. Bing is now forced in to a period of heavy advertising to try and crawl search market share it never should have lost to Google, and don't even start to talk about mobile.

Frankly speaking, SharePoint is in danger of a future real Cloud service. People are talking about a Facebook like SharePoint experience, but I am not entirely sure it would not be easier to build a SharePoint like Facebook.

Microsoft really has to start thinking hard and thinking fast. It can't count on Google's failure to execute in the Enterprise space forever. With the Cloud the now clear line between Enterprise and Web might soon vanish, and Microsoft presently has lost that war.

Over the coming year of two the very survival of Microsoft as a technology leader will depend on a few features:

  1. Office 365 much launch and be effective, even if it cuts in to Office revenue
  2. NO MORE VISTAS!!!! Windows 7 must be enhanced in a way that makes it a better link to the Internet NOT a tool simply to stop change from the ICT infrastructure.
  3. Windows 8 Mobile MUST be the best. I am will to go on the line right now and say that Windows 7 Mobile is going to be a flop, but not as destructive as earlier versions which did massive harm to Microsoft reputation.
  4. Microsoft must get a Table
  5. The partnership with Facebook must be strengthened at the expense of Google with Twitter and Google forming an even better counter relationship.
  6. To sum up Microsoft must stop seeing the world in terms of Windows and Offices.
Microsoft has had some major failure in the 21st Century after a wonder 1990s. Office 2007 and 2010 Ribbon did as much to confuse as help users. MSN has been a bomb. Vista was a catastrophic failure and .NET release has been confusing, the install clunky, and the outcome has been a bloated system which seems more concerned with outdoing Java as king of the Geek work that providing a platform for rapid maintainable development.

With the rise again of the Tech Start up and VC market Microsoft could face more than just Google in the near future.