Archive for August, 2007

SBTUG: Winning new business, Enterprise Search, Prizes and Facebook

Posted on August 23, 2007. Filed under: Community, SBTUG |

Next Wednesday 29 August we’ve got a jam packed Sydney Business & Technology User Group (SBTUG) meeting all lined up.

The meeting kicks off at 6:30pm with free pizza.

Business

Kicking us off will be Steve Herzberg (http://steveherzberg.blogspot.com) from NRG Solutions (http://www.nrgsolutions.com.au/) with an detailed session on ‘Winning New Business’.

Steve is a sales and marketing guru who specialises in training SMEs and company managers. His session will outline tools and tips for company owners, software managers and senior developers to increase their effectiveness at winning new business.

Steve has more details about his session here (http://steveherzberg.blogspot.com/2007/08/winning-new-business.html).

Technology

For our technology session, SharePoint expert Deon Taylor (http://sharemypoint.blogspot.com/) from SDM (http://www.sdm.com.au/Pages/home.aspx) will be going through Enterprise Search and its implementation within the company perimeter. Enterprise Search is an extremely important business requirement these days, so this session will be invaluable to people investigating the different options available. Deon has details of his session here (http://sharemypoint.blogspot.com/2007/08/enterprise-seo-sharepoint-search.html).

SBTUG on Facebook

Perhaps you’ve avoided Facebook so far (it can be a time waster, that’s for sure).

However, if you are on Facebook I invite you to join the SBTUG group (and also the SBTUG Events).

The benefits of the Facebook group are that we can easily stay in touch, post comments and notices, as well as sign up for events and RSVP to events (which will help me with catering).

To join simply visit this page (you’ll need to log in for all these links) and click on the ‘Join Group’ link:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5695001142

To add the SBTUG 29 August Event, go to this page and click on the ‘Add to my Events’ link:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=5058354417

Please use the RSVP link to let me know if you’ll be attending.

If you’d like to add me as your friend, please go to my profile and click ‘Add Craig as a Friend’:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=650760158

Prizes

I’ve got some great SBTUG T-Shirts, so as a special incentive to join me on Facebook, I’ll be giving a T-Shirt to the first 10 people who join the SBTUG group on Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5695001142

(You’ll need to attend an SBTUG meeting to pick up your prize.)

Looking forward to seeing you this coming Wednesday 29 August 2007 at 6:30pm.

More details on the meeting at the SBTUG web site: www.sbtug.com

Address is:

Microsoft Sydney Office
Theatre 2
1 Epping Road
North Ryde NSW 2113

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VFP: Importing VFP data into SQL Server

Posted on August 15, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’ve written an article outlining How to use SQL Server 2005 Integration Services (SSIS) to import Visual FoxPro data into SQL Server.

The article is reasonably basic and covers:

  • Using SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio to create the package and manage errors
  • Using SQL Server Management Studio to create the Integration Service
  • Using SQL Agent job to schedule it
  • Gotchas (including UNC mapping, and the VFP OLE DB driver)
  • Brief overview of a real world implementation using SSIS
  • Brief discussion of SSIS versus VFP Upsizing Wizard

The article is 49 pages long, but don’t be alarmed, most of it is screen shots. It is available in Word or PDF format. I’ve included the Word format in case you want to edit the article, add your own comments, copy stuff out etc.

It is available here (and from my Articles page).

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SIMPLE: Rocket science

Posted on August 12, 2007. Filed under: TechEd |

Not wanting to pick on anyone in particular, but I’ve heard the expression “it’s not rocket science” all week at TechEd, usually in the context of how easy it is now (as compared to previous versions of products) to build wonderful, enabling, awe-inspiring solutions to enterprise problems.

I have to admit I wasn’t exactly sure what rocket science was, but thankfully Wikipedia came to the clarification party yet again:

Rocket science is an informal term for aerospace engineering especially as it concerns craft which operate in outer space.

Due to the complexity and depth of this area of engineering (requiring mastery in subjects including mechanics (fluid mechanics, orbital mechanics, flight dynamics), mathematics, control engineering, materials science, aeroelasticity, avionics, reliability engineering, noise control and flight test), it is also informally used as a term to describe an endeavor requiring great intelligence or technical ability.

Whilst the tools are certainly getting better, I have to say that enterprise development is getting more and more like rocket science, with a complete range of specialists required on most large developments these days…

Is it just me that thinks this?

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TECHED: Why attend the locknote?

Posted on August 11, 2007. Filed under: TechEd |

I’ve held off talking about the TechEd keynote from Wednesday (because it was extremely disappointing), but thankfully the locknote was slightly (but only slightly) better.

It was good because it was a chance for us developers to say goodbye to Frank Arrigo (he’s heading over to Redmond). Frank has had an amazing impact on the developer community (and to a small extent the IT Pro community) in Australia. He is much loved, and we’ll miss him.

Apart from that we were dragged through a mildly interesting insight into the AFP (which really only served to confirm my thoughts from the earlier Computer Forensics session).

Why attend the locknote?
Answer: We’ll miss you Frank.

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TECHED: Why Computer Forensics?

Posted on August 11, 2007. Filed under: TechEd |

I popped into the end of a session delivered by some of the AFP (Australian Federal Police) Computer Forensic experts. The surprising discovery for me was how under-resourced they are. Sure, they know how to recover data ‘deleted’ from a hard drive, and they also get pretty good at finding incriminating stuff, but overall my impression was that these guys rely on a lot of luck.

Quickly banishing visions of NCIS-like teams that were the uber-crime-sleuth I’d wanted to be when I was younger, these guys are just hard working blokes (no women apparently) who often get called into really disgusting crime scenes (drug user’s premises with discarded syringes etc), and can find themselves at the end of their 24 hour search warrant with nothing to show for it.

I had hoped I would come out really scared about how powerful and technologically innovative this crack team were – but no, they are just coping (like computer crime agencies world wide no doubt).

Why Computer Forensics?
Answer: Because it is better than nothing at all…
Note: The AFP is looking for more recruits – they are in dire need.

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TECHED: Why Online/Offline Gadgets?

Posted on August 11, 2007. Filed under: TechEd |

More out of interest than any compelling business need I dropped into Neil Roodyn’s session on Vista Gadgets.

And I have to say I found it quite thought provoking. Neil went through some simple examples but most importantly stressed some of the design considerations to be employed. Designing for Offline (or worse, unexpected disconnection scenarios) from the outset is the most important of course, but then issues of having initial data in the install were covered.

His session had examples including Bus timetable, Routing (via Virtual Earth) and Recipe gadgets.

Neil finished with a few directives summarised as:

  • Build gadgets to work offline
  • Utilise more opportunities (Vista will be on up to 1 billion desktops one day…)
  • Decide which functionality option is correct for the circumstance (eg having huge offline caches can lead to performance issues

However, my main takeaway, and answer to the question of Why is as follows:

Why Vista Gadgets?
Answer: To complement existing applications

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TECHED: Why SharePoint Branding and Customization?

Posted on August 11, 2007. Filed under: SharePoint, TechEd |

Why SharePoint Branding?
Answer: Because we can. Finally.

Yes, the customization ‘features’ of SharePoint have been well criticised for a while, so it is good to see that branding and formatting is now a simple combination of master page changes and CSS.

Not that it is trivial, but as Kathy Hughes covered (extremely well I might add) in her session, it is very straight forward once you know how. Getting your head around the Content database and how pages are constructed with Page layouts, Content placeholders and web parts is a little confusing at first, but soon starts making sense.
Themes are also supported, but I had to leave the session before we got to this part (a pity).

The customization tools are spread across SharePoint Designer, Visual Studio and also in browser changes.
The session covered the basic steps of Design, Coding and then Cascading down through sites.

So, to repeat my earlier answer to Why SharePoint branding…
Answer: Because we can, and we can do it reasonably easily now.

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VFP: Visual FoxPro posts of interest

Posted on August 11, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’ve been a little behind on my blog reading of late, so here’s a quick list of links I’ve enjoyed (many of which you no doubt read weeks ago 🙂

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TECHED: Why Silverlight?

Posted on August 9, 2007. Filed under: Silverlight, TechEd |

What an awesome end to the day. I’m already sold on the whole Silverlight concept, but this session was an eye opener. Joe Stegman impressed, with a slickly crafted presentation, perfectly delivered. No woffle or hype, just demo after demo of Silverlight goodness.
Part of the attraction of Silverlight is how it opens up the programming of media and interaction via Visual Studio (admittedly mostly in v1.1 which ‘aint out for a while yet). But in 1.0 (due for RTM in a month or so) there is plenty to appreciate. The graphics rendering on this is incredibly smooth and fast. A demo with 9 separate video streams was pushing (only!) 50% CPU on his notebook.

Joe covered the various toolsets – this was the first time I’d seen Expression Blend demoed in a compelling way (it’s actually a really nice product), but the standout was Expression Media Encoder which was packed with features (it even has a command line extension for batching media conversions.

Why Silverlight?

  • Broad reach (his words) which means they are ultimately aiming for it to run on everything (but initially this is just Windows and Mac), including mobile devices
  • The rich media experience is easy to achieve
  • The tools are available very soon

I’d be looking at Silverlight very seriously for web sites wanting to deliver rich media. The learning curve is not that steep, and the results are incredible.

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TECHED: Why WPF?

Posted on August 9, 2007. Filed under: TechEd, WPF |

The old joke about WPF being the answer to a question that hasn’t been asked is still around I guess, and thus a session on WPF is treated by some with a little bit of skepticism. Although only a mini-session, Paul Stovell did a great job of explaining why WPF is now relevant. Actually I don’t really think his aim was to address relevance, but he did it none the less. With the release (finally) of tools that help build the XAML behind WPF applications, the space is becoming more and more compelling.

Paul went through the development of a calendar control in WPF and along the way offered an insight into the way of thinking through a control’s design (he’ll have details on his blog in the coming days no doubt).

I had to leave half way through his sessions sadly, but the few minutes I saw allowed me to answer the basic question:
Why WPF?
Answer: A newer, richer user experience; Tools are finally delivered; Graphics engine is highly performant and easy to harness.

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TECHED: Why LOLCODE?

Posted on August 9, 2007. Filed under: TechEd |

INSERT INTO cheek (tongue)

This was a great mini-session, with the remarkable Nick Hodge covering the all-too-important science of LOLCODE.
I’m with Nick on this, in believing it to be the single most important technology initiative in years.
The benefits are countless, but include the long lost art of ensuring maintenance coders are amused long into the future, and also the ability to SMS in code updates. As noted by a guest-appearing CLR expert (who likely wants to remain anonymous :-), LOLCODE may well be the savour of the IT industry, as it stands to attract back a brand new generation of high school leavers into the Uni IT courses.

Removing tongue from cheek now…

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TECHED: Why ForeFront Server Security?

Posted on August 9, 2007. Filed under: TechEd |

Developers (like me) often can’t comprehend the overhead of installing security tools across a large server count. Afterall, we are usually only dealing with a handful of servers. So how do the people looking after large numbers of servers (eg hundreds) cope?
This is a difficult problem and a number of vendors are targetting applications at the problem. One particular area is ensuring all Exchange and SharePoint servers have their security products kept up to date.
As Tim Smith explained, this is where ForeFront steps in. Acquired by Microsoft from Sybari, the Antigen product range has largely been re-branded as ForeFront.
The product has a number of versions, but in general is a means of linking in servers to be updated automatically, no matter what security suite they run (eg Kaspersky, CA, Norman etc). Forefront does all the management of deployment out to the servers.

Why ForeFront Server Security?
Answer: To easily manage deployment of security updates out to Exchange and SharePoint servers.

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TECHED: Why BizTalk and BAM?

Posted on August 9, 2007. Filed under: BizTalk, TechEd |

Business Activity Management (BAM) is an important area for growing businesses to embrace. IT is basically the act of observing key processes in a business and being able to proactively respond to issues.

In this session Mick Badran (local BizTalk guru and MVP) along with Rahul Garg (Microsoft Technical Specialist) took us through an introduction to using BizTalk to implement BAM.

The functionality is largely OotB (Out-of-the-Box) in BizTalk 2006 R2 and is easy to implement.

The need for proper BAM will be decided at each organisation, usually the larger ones, and will require analysts to first work out what needs to be observed. Then it is handed over to the developers to implement using BizTalk orchestration. The general result is a tracking portal that allows activity searches, reporting, queries and alerts (eg even a Vista gadget for displaying summary information).

Why BAM?

  • It is becoming more necessary in companies, especially as timeframes are continually squeezed
  • Companies are requiring real-time activity information
  • The cost of the technologies available are allowing it to be implemented cheaply
  • The cost of not implementing may be high for companies due to lost revenue, opportunities, etc

Why BizTalk?

  • Easy to implement OotB
  • Feature set is growing in future versions
  • Mature toolset
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TECHED: Why Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO)?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Rounding out a solid day of excellent sessions was Australia’s favourite son Andrew Coates (OK, so I might have hyped that a little bit).

Office Business Applications (OBA) will be getting increasing focus from Microsoft in the coming year and it is no wonder why.
VSTO, now in its third version, allows developers to easily build functionality on top of the Office applications. With Visual Studio 2008 Pro we can be building rich, powerful apps right into Outlook, Word, Excel, etc. As a third version, it is a classic case of the product maturing, and offering significant value.

Why VSTO?
Answer: Because Office is no longer a suite of applications, rather it is a platform.

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TECHED: Why SharePoint?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

This session was my pick of the day. Perfectly presented by Jon Barrett and Ian Palangio, the content covered an immense amount of material, complemented by excellent demos.

SharePoint is of course a mammoth platform, so any session on it is only going to cover a small chunk. This sessions’s chunk was document management.

Covering Document management, Records management, policies and workflow (the whole Enterprise Content Management (ECM) thing really), this was a session where I think I finally ‘got’ it!

Why SharePoint for document management?

  • There is so much out of the box
  • It covers so much of the ECM requirements
  • It is massively scalable
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TECHED: Why Windows Server 2008 Web edition?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’ve decided to cover a lot of areas this year (not just Developer sessions). This includes Server and Security sessions.

This session blew me away. Eric Deily gave an excellent overview of the Web Server edition of Windows Server 2008.

IT Pros who’ve been following Server 2008 will be well aware of the details of course, but for me it was an eye opener.

Here’s why companies (especially Software Dev companies) should be getting their IT Manager to install a Windows 2008 Server for them to be working with ASAP:

  • IIS7 has been rebuilt from the ground up
  • Everything has been modularised, and by default only a minimum set of modules are installed
  • This means a small footprint, reduced attack surface and higer performance
  • All IIS settings can be configured via a config file (if permissions have been delegate to the config file – an Admin can still control this)
  • This means that sites can be effectively XCOPYed between servers

Summary: Why IIS7?
Answer: Security and performance

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TECHED: Why Web 2.0?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I missed the start of the blogger’s lunch, but managed to catch the panel answering the whole Web 2.0 question.

The panel: Phil Sim, Michael Platt, Darren Neimke, Jane O’Connell and Des Walsh were guided by Frank Arrigo.

Highlights included hearing them each give their view of what the hell Web 2.0 is. My favourite was Phil who summarised it along the lines of ‘it is a period in time when the technology, infrastructure, privacy concerns, thirst for interactivity and advertising have all come together’. As he went on to explain, some of the technology (eg AJAX) has been around for a while, but just needed the other factors to be there too. The whole social networking ‘thing’ would never have taken off if we still held the same concerns for privacy that we did 10 years ago.

I think he is right. Whilst we can point to styles of web site, and even the way we interact, there is definitely a mindset element that has made it take off.

These same success factors will also likely be problematic in the future, as IP, defamation and other legal implications catch up in the next 5 years.

The discussion was thought provoking, and perhaps even cautionary.

 

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TECHED: Why Visual Studio Team System 2008?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Always entertaining, and sometimes even informative :-), Adam Cogan walked us through Visual Studio’s history, and then looked at the future of the Team editions of the product.

Many of the benefits are already shipped (in part at least) via the recently released Power Tools for TFS. Team Foundation Server incorporates and builds on these.

A few warrant special mention, and effectively answer the question of WHY?

  • New policy pack features allow easy checking of file types, directory locations and other filtering
  • The revamped editor makes customization of process templates much easier

Adam is the only speaker I know who can run 30 minutes overtime and still have the room packed…

 

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TECHED: Why Visual Studio 2008?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

In the first session of the day I stepped into Tony Goodhew’s overview of Visual Studio 2008 (previously Orcas).

The session covered VS2008 Pro (as opposed to the Team editions) and was a slick high level flight over the product.

Answering the question of WHY?, Tony gave three reasons:

  1. Tools for Office 2007 and Vista
  2. Improvements for Web developers
  3. Language enhancements (especially data handling eg LINQ)

The reasons are compelling, even if some are no more than catchup (eg the split view – touted as an improvement for Web devs – has been in FrontPage for years).

I won’t be giving a recap of sessions or what was covered, instead just summarizing what the most compelling answers to WHY? are for me.

Here’s why I think we should move to VS2008 asap:

  • You can target multiple versions (ie you just select whether you are targeting .Net 2.0, 3.0 or 3.5), so there is no downside, but plenty of upside
  • LINQ data handling is just about ready 🙂
  • Support for Vista
  • Support for Office 2007 development (more on this in a later post)

Beta 2 has just been released.

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TECHED: Why SoftGrid?

Posted on August 7, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

At the TechEd Technology Showcase booth tonight I was blown away by a very cool technology called SoftGrid. Microsoft acquired this recently.

SoftGrid is a virtualisation technology allows applications (as opposed to operating systems) to be delivered to the desktop (ie they are never installed on the desktop – rather it is almost like they are ‘streamed’ to the desktop). They are delivered by a SoftGrid server.

Why SoftGrid? Because it allows multiple versions of products to be run side by side – the demo showed Excel 97 and Excel 2003 running side by side on the same desktop, and then three different Java applications (each requiring a different Java runtime) running side-by-side. Amazing.

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TECHED: Sun soaked and technology packed

Posted on August 7, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’ve made it to the Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia) for TechEd 2007. Just back from the opening party where I caught up with a bunch of people.

My initial thoughts:

  • A great start to the event
  • The Technology Showcase is by far the best booth (I spent half the night there)
  • Having the Technology Showcase at the same location as the bull riding was unfortunate (because the bloke MCing the bull riding was way too loud 😦 )
  • There was stacks of high quality food
  • I met a heap of new people (by wandering up to tables and sitting with complete strangers and even jumping into taxis with other delegates -they’ve all been friendly 🙂

[The full album of photos (in proper size) is available from my TechEd 2007 Web Album]

But, in summary, here’s the view from my hotel window:

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Here’s the bloke who made it all happen this year (Andrew is on the right)

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And here’s a shot of some bloke about to fall off a mechanical bull

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More to come…

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VIDEO: Monkey Boy iPod… I mean Zune

Posted on August 6, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Yep, pretty funny (but not for the person who made it apparently)

And less than 40,000 views even though it’s been up since February – what has the world come to?

(Via Fake Steve Jobs who was recently outed)

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OZFOX: Thinking about OzFox 2008

Posted on August 4, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’m starting to think about the next OzFox conference, and I’d love your thoughts.

To help me organise the most appropriate conference for y’all, I’ve put up a very simple survey.

If you are a potential attendee, please take the OzFox 2008 survey – it only takes 60 seconds.

It’s anonymous (unless you optionally want to leave your email address), so you won’t be held to anything.

And please help spread the word…

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SEO: Jargon list

Posted on August 4, 2007. Filed under: Clarity |

Useful: A Complete Glossary of Essential SEO Jargon (from SEOmoz)

My favorite:

Google bowling Maliciously trying to lower a sites rank by sending it links from the “bad neighborhood” – Kind of like yelling “Good luck with that infection!” to your buddy as you get off the school bus – there is some controversy as to if this works or is just an SEO urban myth.

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VLOG: WebbAlert

Posted on August 4, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Yes, I agree with TechCrunch that WebbAlert is pretty cool. Only two episodes so far, but well produced, fast paced, easily consumable (5 mins), interesting, and perhaps a even little quirky. I mean, who knew that there was a guy called Rupert Murdoch (I wonder where he’s from) trying to buy the WSJ?

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SUPERB: How NOT to be Happy

Posted on August 1, 2007. Filed under: Personal |

I was going to wait until Michele had at least ten posts complete before linking to it, but with content like this, I’d be doing you a disservice not pointing it out now:

How to be Happy

Check out her Tips on How NOT to be Happy – priceless!

And there’s more to come…

Subscribe to HappinessStrategies here

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CeBIT: How to have a ‘sticky’ booth

Posted on August 1, 2007. Filed under: Technology |

I was going through a pile of papers and found my notes from CeBIT earlier this year. Yay! I thought I’d lost them.

Anyway, back in early May (yikes – was it that long ago?) I attended CeBIT to check out the latest and greatest in the technology stakes.

There were a few things that struck me about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of exhibitor’s stands. So I compiled a list, with the aim of referring back to it should I ever want to set up a booth in future years.

Here’s my observations:

  1. You need to stand out. Obvious yes, but mentioned up front because that is what most of the following points will build on.
  2. Descriptive names are everywhere (you know, things like: Superior Data Solutions, Expert Managed Hosting, Integrated CRM Management, etc, etc). Whilst this might be helpful in some ways, for the most part it is very boring. Few people (with perhaps Internet Dashboard being the exception) can get away with it.
  3. Instead you need to have a cool name. Something short and funky, and easy to remember.
  4. And you must have really cool branding. Bright colours are part of it, but a really slick look is the most important. Standouts were google and eWay. Everyone was flocking to their stands.
  5. In general most stands were ‘blah’, they need to be ‘hey you!’ and grab attention. It was sad to see so many booths being walked past simply because they were drab, had long boring names, or didn’t have even a dash of colour.
  6. You must look different. For example, so many online hosted services companies looked the same.
  7. You must be in the middle. Booths on the outer rims were like a ghost town – ideal for people who needed take a phone call (or catch up on sleep) due to them being so quiet.
  8. I don’t have the cost schedule for the booths but I’m sure the extra cost of being in the centre of things would be worth it. Imagine if you’d managed to get the booth next to the google stand…
  9. You need to have people form a line at your booth. Nothing generates interest better than a crowd (as nightclubs and buffet RSL restaurants know all too well :-). The campaigns that worked well that I noticed were: lining up to use a voucher to redeem a specially prized gizmo (eg IP telephony handset) or answering a quiz question to get a CD (anti-virus software with 6 months free updates, in this case).
  10. You should make noise. But not annoying noise. Having widescreen TVs with interesting demos and the volume up was effective. Most stands however had demos but the volume muted. Perhaps there are some restrictions on volume that I’m not aware of?
  11. You need to come up with a new gimmick. Coffee carts with baristas are old hat these days. A Juice bar would have been good, as would a company handing out bottles of water (with their branding of course), but I didn’t see either of these. You need to say, ‘give me your card, and we’ll give you a free gift’ (of value). I did see a popcorn machine at one stand which was generating a bit of a line.
  12. You need useful flair. Everyone is sick of the stress balls, caps, even T shirts, demo CDs, etc. Instead you need to give something of value. One stand was giving out the new wallet flash USB sticks to select enquirers (not everyone). Nice.
  13. Some stands had Xboxes and Playstations going, and these got some interest. Overall I suspect they weren’t a great draw card.
  14. The days of scantily clothed ‘booth babes’ is almost gone (but not quite). One stand had a spa bath with two bikini clad girls. Heaps of people wandering past, but no one stopping. I actually think this worked against the company.
  15. Instead, I noticed that attractive, professionally attired, immaculately groomed females were drawing in enquiries all the time. Even late in the day when booth after booth was occupied by just the company rep, those with the professional women were always occupied. This might sound obvious (or even sexist – it is), but it was very noticeable. And I should mention that the ladies were engaging about the products – they knew their stuff, they weren’t just eye candy. So forget the lame booth babe concept (from point 14). [And, I should mention that by far the majority of attendees were male.]
  16. Present at one the theatres around the event. In each corner of the main hall there was a mini theatre, with huge screen and PA, for select companies to present. Aim for around lunch time, because everyone is looking for somewhere to sit and eat. Why not take advantage of that captive audience? But your talk needs to be interesting. I was surprised at how bad the two presentations I stopped for were. One presenter was boring, monotone and repeated himself. What the? They must have paid a fortune for that gig and then basically advertised why you should be running away from them screaming… The other presenter I saw was an arrogant know-it-all, who couldn’t stop patting himself and his company on the back. Yawn. You need to be interesting and add value. Don’t try to sell at these presentations.
  17. Talk about the customer. I was surprised at how many stands were ‘us’ focused. All their brochures and demos were about how great their company was, how their software was the most innovative event of the year, etc. Who gives a toss? In the few seconds you have to attract attention, you need to either intrigue the person (ie with a cool logo, branding or giveaway) or, and this is the most likely, show them immediately that you can give them value. You can help. You can solve their problems. You can improve profits, etc, etc. And don’t use scare tactics (eg trying to generate fear about internet security attacks) – people are well aware of the problems; you just need to indicate that you can help.

Some other thoughts about the event:

  1. As an aside, the toilets were appalling, too few, and inaccessible to wheel chair attendees in most cases. This is a criticism of the venue, not the event of course. But, call me crazy, one of these days a vendor is going to come along and set up a big line of ‘glammed up’ Portaloos, and be the most talked about company of the show…
  2. Food was very expensive (eg a sandwich and drink set me back more than $10). Perhaps if an exhibitor did a deal with the caterers to offer some discount to attendees, that could be an option. Attendees would have to line up, hand over their business card, and in return be given a lunch discount voucher.
  3. I have to say that one thing CeBIT has absolutely spot on is the registration process. It was very smooth. Nice work.
  4. I’ve heard some people say that you should focus on getting the right contacts, as opposed to just heaps of unqualified contacts, at these events. This is of course true. However, the people who makes those comments sometimes use this as justification for not having a popular stand – instead, they say, focus on the few good leads you get. This seems bizarre to me – surely you need to be attractive and positioned well to get the qualified contacts too. Weeding out inappropriate prospects takes a few days of phone calls after an event – a small price to pay if it yields even a few extra good leads.
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VFP: VFP5 for dessert

Posted on August 1, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Michele and I were out at dinner on Saturday night with Adam and Anastasia Cogan.

The food was good, the conversation was great, but then came dessert… Here’s what Adam had organized prior with the staff to deliver to me for dessert:

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It’s a copy of Visual FoxPro version 5.0, and it now sits up on the shelf above my desk. It’s still got the plastic wrapping on it! And weren’t those the days – the box weighs a ton: Developer’s guide, programmer’s guide, language reference – I can still hear the trees crying 🙂

Adam tells me he fought a valiant bidding war on eBay to secure it.

And here’s me modeling the new acquisition:

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Ahhhh, the joys.

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