Archive for March, 2008

THOUGHT: When will recruiters take to Twitter?

Posted on March 31, 2008. Filed under: Social networking |

These days it seems the best indication of when a particular social media source has reached it’s used by date is when recruiters are using it more than your ‘real’ connections 🙂

Take LinkedIn for example. A year ago, this was a valuable tool, allowing us all to connect to business associates. These days, all I seem to get is requests to connect with recruiters, and poorly targeted job offers. Facebook isn’t so bad, but that’s more likely to be because I don’t have technology related keywords against my profile.

So, I’m wondering how long before the recruiters start swarming over Twitter? How long before we get shotgun broadcast @replies to everyone about new jobs?

My guess, the wonderful Twitter landscape we enjoy today will be polluted within 6 months. The Block button will be a regular in our daily use, and the ‘continual conversation’ we enjoy now will regularly be little more than a prelude to a job offer…

 

But hey, on the flip side, maybe there’s an opening for someone to develop a Twitter app for recruiters…

Here’s what RecruiTwit could do:

1. You seed it with a few people to follow (eg Scobleizer). Then it goes along following the followers of the seed people (all automatically of course)

2. Then, when you are ready with your job ad, you type in the description and click Send. RecruiTwit creates individual @replies to everyone you follow, spamming them with a ‘personal’ job ad tweet

3. In the Premium edition it’d allow you to use multiple Twitter accounts so you can avoid the Twitter API limitations (60 an hour currently I think)

4. In the Platinum edition it automatically creates new Twitter accounts for you every 7 days, since everyone will have blocked your existing ones by then

 

Am I being too cynical? You can reply to me on Twitter here if you like.

 

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TIP: Fixing IE so it doesn’t go mental with lots of tabs open

Posted on March 27, 2008. Filed under: Microsoft, Tip |

This one has bugged me for ages – you open up stacks of tabs in IE and after a while weird things start happening. Perhaps its the menu not appearing on some tabs, another tab has missing toolbars, etc.

And it affects other programs as well including File Explorer, shortcuts, and in my case SharePoint Designer (and even Live Writer – with which I am currently writing this post).

Well, thanks to Jon Galloway we now have a (Microsoft non-supported) solution. Jon points to posts by Ed Bott and Kevin Dente, the latter being almost 4 years old. Some things never change huh?

Warning: All registry changes are ‘do at your own risk’ affairs, so be careful as always with this one.

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CLARITY: CRM Live becomes CRM Online

Posted on March 27, 2008. Filed under: Clarity, Microsoft |

The main interest in this article from Mary Jo is not about CRM (who cares about a name change after all) but rather how Microsoft are clarifying their terms:

Live: Consumer focus

Online: Business & Enterprise focus, hosted by Microsoft

Hosted services: hosted by Microsoft partners

And don’t miss the revenue sharing snippet at the bottom – Microsoft will share 10% of the CRM Live charge with reseller partners (its at the bottom of page 10 of the linked document).

(via Mary Jo Foley)

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TIP: Repairing Outlook .ost and .pst files

Posted on March 25, 2008. Filed under: Tip |

I’ve had issues recently with Outlook crashing when I shut it down. Initially I thought this was due to a rogue Outlook Addin (eg I’ve got Xobni, ClearContext, OutTwit and others installed). So I went through systematically getting rid of them. Put the problem persisted.

Finally I found the issue was to do with the actual .ost file being corrupted. The way I discovered this was by chance when trying to clear my Deleted items. Outlook gave me a message informing that the file was corrupt, and even better recommended using scanpst.exe to fix it.

I’d never heard of scanpst.exe but a quick Google check shows it has been around since the dark ages, and has been a regular in the Sys Admin’s toolbox for years.

If you are looking for it you can find it in your c:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office 12\ folder or equivalent.

Everything Outlook related needs to be closed down (eg Mobile Device Sync) and then you run it up. It’ll prompt for the ost file and away you go.

Since repairing my file I’ve had no further issues with Outlook.

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SBTUG: Unified Communications – this Wed 26 March

Posted on March 24, 2008. Filed under: SBTUG |

This Wednesday we’ve got another great Sydney Business & Technology User Group (SBTUG) lined up.

This month: Unified Communications: What is it, and why does it matter? Presented by Craig Pringle.

  • When: This Wed 26 March 2008
  • Time: 6pm (until approx 8:30pm)
  • Where: Microsoft, North Ryde
  • Contact: Craig Bailey : 0413 489 388
  • Cost: Free (Pizza all provided)

Sessions

Craig Pringle (Unified Communications Practice Leader at Gen-i Australia) will be explaining why Unified Communications (UC) is getting so much attention right now.

Microsoft is making a big push into the UC space, and this session will give you an overview of what UC is, why it matters and how it applies to your business. He’ll also be covering some of the pitfalls with adopting this latest technology. More details

Wave Launch recap

Prior to Craig’s talk I’ll be giving a quick recap of the Microsoft 2008 stack launch that happened around the country (and the world) these past few weeks. I’ll quickly cover what was included in the release and the main benefits as they apply to various businesses.

I’ll then be opening the meeting to discussion about how we shape SBTUG for the remainder of the year. Speaking with many of you lately there’s plenty of great ideas flowing. So, I’m asking for your help in organising the group better as we proceed.

Plus, we’ll have a quick ‘Member Spot’ – this is a new item each meeting where we get to meet one of the SBTUG members and find out a bit more about who they are and what they do.

And as usual we’ll be having our monthly News roundup from 6pm.

New SBTUG web site

Check out the revamped SBTUG web site.

We’ve made it into a Wiki, which means anyone can edit the pages (after simple Registration). Please feel free to contribute to the site.

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Facebook

Don’t forget, if you haven’t already, you can join the SBTUG group on Facebook.

And please RSVP for Wed night’s event here. This helps us know how many people are coming (for catering).

Twitter

Last but not least, you can always follow us on Twitter here.

 

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TIP: How to uninstall IE8

Posted on March 10, 2008. Filed under: Tip |

If, like me, you rushed out and installed Internet Explorer 8 last week, then you may, like me again, be regretting it.

IE8 has been slow, unstable and ugly. By ugly I mean that most of the sites I viewed looked really bad (or didn’t render at all). The price of progress you may say? After all, the push is on for better standards compliance right? Unfortunately, the IE8 Beta 1 release seems to have been rushed out the door without proper testing, and more importantly, without the proper user preparation – users need to be informed of the potential issues and in effect, properly change managed.

When is a Beta a Beta?

Short answer: it’s never a beta anymore.

Ever since Microsoft (and others) started pushing out Beta versions of products to everyone (think Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 and onwards) we’ve all grown accustomed to using Beta software in production settings. Previously the domain of die-hard testers only, now everyone runs them. They are not Betas anymore. The real Betas are now called CTPs and come with explicit this-may-not-work doco (sometimes that is their only doco) – although many people still end up putting CTPs on production machines as well (example :-).

So when IE8 was announced with such fanfare at MIX last week – it was pretty much a public event (I mean why else would you have it noted on the Microsoft home page?). Everyone was being invited to download and uninstall it.

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It’s a shame really

I’ve had nothing but nice words to say about Microsoft over the last few months. Their releases have been continuous, innovative and of high quality. But this IE8 release is an unwelcome exception. Now, it may turn out to be my machine that’s playing up given I have so much junk installed on it (it’s due for a reformat actually), but even in that state it runs Safari Betas, Firefox Betas and a host of other Beta software fine. IE8 is the only thing I’ve had problems with.

The real shame for me is that I won’t be getting to play with all the new features any time soon. And there’s a stack of them.

I gave it my best shot. I spent Thursday in IE8 mode, and then on Friday when I couldn’t stand it anymore I shifted to IE7 compatibility mode. That didn’t change things (although sites did look fine again). It crashed repeatedly and was slow. Slow to start, slow to open a new tab, slow to render a page. Slow. Saturday morning was the end. Off it came.

The sad part about this – Microsoft had a chance to win over a lot of people with this release. And they definitely need to in the browser game, with so many people favouring non IE options. But if others have suffered the way I have (and from my Twitter reading many have), then Microsoft has a lot of work to do to win them back.

Back to the uninstall

Oh yes, so how do you uninstall IE8? If you are on XP it is in the same place – Add and Remove programs. But on Vista it is hidden away in the View Installed Updates section. You still get to it via Control Panel -> Uninstall a program. But then it is sitting over on the left panel.

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Click on View installed updates.

Find IE8 in the list and click Uninstall from the top bar.

In fairness to Microsoft I have to say the uninstall process was very smooth and after rebooting I had IE7 back and working fine. I’ve had no problems with missing links, components or saved settings. So at least they got the uninstall part right.

I’m looking forward to Beta 2.

Am I over-reacting? What’s been your experience with IE8?

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TIP: How to create a Microsoft LiveID with your own domain name

Posted on March 7, 2008. Filed under: Tip |

This one crops up from time to time. You need a Microsoft LiveID for use with say Windows Messenger. But when you go through the sign up process, you only have options for a .hotmail.com or .live.com domain on your alias.

If you have registered your own domain name, then ideally you want your LiveID profile to be somehow linked to that as well.

Turns out it is pretty simple. There are many ways to get to the right place, here’s one:

Go to Microsoft.com

Scroll down to the bottom of the page

Click on Manage my profile

Click on Sign In up the top right

Click on Create new LiveID

And there you are – you can add your own email address.

Use this with Windows Messenger and all the other Microsoft Live services.

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TIP: The Top Mistake of public speaking

Posted on March 6, 2008. Filed under: Tip |

I mentioned in a previous post that I was really nervous when I presented at the Microsoft Launch last week.

This actually caught me by surprise, because I am usually pretty comfortable presenting in front of groups.

At home that night I was wondering why I had suddenly tensed up. Was it the large crowd (the room was packed – probably more than 300 people)? Unlikely. I’ve done that before. Was it the fact that I was coming in half way through someone else’s session (and thus  wasn’t in control)? No, I don’t think so – although that is always difficult. Was it because I had come running over from presenting at another event? No, not that either.

No, the reason I got nervous is because I suddenly relapsed into making the fundamental public speaking mistake: I thought it was about me!

Lesson reminder: It’s never about you – it’s about them.

Some background

Like most people I used to be scared of speaking in public. What if I stuff up? Forget my presentation? A demo doesn’t work? etc.

But I remember distinctly the day I lost all fear of pubic speaking. It was when I realised that presenting is not about me, it’s about them. That was approximately 3 years ago.

Here’s the deal: People are giving up their time and attention to listen to you and gain benefit. It is about them being helped. They want to get maximum benefit from their time, and they are hoping you help them. They actually don’t care much about you. You’re just some guy (or girl) up the front yabbering away*. They only care about themselves. [But, I might add, with themselves in mind, they are usually on your side, willing you to do well.]

So, the realisation comes, and the nerves go, when you discover you just need to focus on helping your audience. In fact, even if you completely stuff up, forget content, break demos, present with a quivering voice, whatever – if your audience sees you’ve put in effort, and they feel they’ve been helped they’ll appreciate it. So just focus on them and how you can best help them benefit. That’s all.

(Of course, if you haven’t bothered to put in any effort – that’s a different story – audiences can get a little reticent about that).

So back to the Microsoft launch

Where did I go wrong?

Standing on the side waiting to go on I was fine. But the minute I was introduced and went on I suddenly had a panic attack and worried about me. I fell into the trap of worrying about how well I would speak. What if I stuff up? What if I let Microsoft down? What if I’m not polished enough. All about me.

Instead I should have just made a quick mental check – is what I’m presenting useful and relevant to the audience? If yes, then fine – no nerves.

As it turned out I think the presentation went OK (but I’ll be checking with a few honest friends for feedback in the coming days). Fortunately I had prepared thoroughly, and practiced the presentation more than 20 times, so that even in that completely unexpected weird moment, with my mind gone blank, and struggling to breathe, I could get through on autopilot.

Anyway, enough about me – it was a good reminder, and perhaps it might help a few others out there.

Your thoughts

Please leave me a comment with your thoughts, advice or suggestions – I’m keen to hear other’s experiences.

 

* Note that this applies to most people. Some presenters of course get to be so good at speaking that people attend their sessions simply to hear them. And when you are at that point, a post like this one is irrelevant – nerves is not likely to be a problem 🙂

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TIP: Fixing the annoying Vista Windows Explorer View quirk

Posted on March 6, 2008. Filed under: Tip |

Like many people I was hoping that Vista SP1 would fix the issue with Views in Windows Explorer changing randomly. But alas, it didn’t. Gee, must be a big bug.

Anyway, there is a registry hack that fixes it – sort of. It doesn’t actually fix it, rather it just sets all the folders undefined, which in effect will keep them at the current view.

To enable it you’ll need to add a registry key, amongst other things. 

The full instructions are here on the Vistax64 forum, and includes details on deleting all the existing settings first. (BTW despite the x64 name, this works on both 32 and 64 bit versions of Vista)

And as usual, any registry changes are all on your own head.

(I was alerted to this by someone, but I can’t remember who. So I can’t link to them here… sorry)

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MEDIA: Speaking at a Microsoft Media event

Posted on March 6, 2008. Filed under: Microsoft |

Last week I spoke at my first media event. Which was kinda fun.

Here’s what happened.

As part of the Microsoft Heroes Happen Launch event last week, Microsoft put on a media event. It was all organised by their PR company (in this case Howorth Communications) and involved getting a few key Microsoft executives (Martin Gregory and Bob Kelly) plus a few clients (5 in this case) to tell of their experiences with the new Microsoft products.

Elcom was asked along to present on our increased performance using Windows Server 2008.

The event was reasonably small, with perhaps 15 journalists, the 2 key Microsoft execs, plus a few Microsoft staff and the 5 client representatives (of which I was one).

Martin Gregory hosted the lunch (the food was pretty good I should add), and spoke about Microsoft’s message for the launch. He then handed over to Bob Kelly who outlined the Microsoft vision and covered off a number of the new features in the Microsoft products released in the last year – focusing of course on the 2008 stack.

Following that, each of us (ie the 5 clients) had a few minutes to outline the company we work for and our experiences with the 2008 stack.

The clients who presented were Lion Nathan, CargoWise, University of Canberra, Mincom and Elcom. It was interesting to hear about how massive an impact the 2008 stack is having on these companies. Each had good stories to tell about increased productivity, performance and functionality. As you’d expect at an event like this it was all positive about Microsoft of course, but that doesn’t diminish the breadth of results being experienced. Coding times are being cut, turn around times are being reduced, network upgrades are being fast tracked and performance is being increased (as we are testament to) – to name just a few advantages.

After the presentations each of us had a little booth with 4 chairs where journalists could come and chat about our results/experiences if they wanted further information. I chatted with 2 journalists but had to rush off (I was already running late for my presentation in Dave Glover’s session). Interestingly, many journalists left straight away without talking to any of us one-on-one.

All in all another great experience. But what can I learn from this? I was reflecting on what I said at the event (you can see media snippets here and here) and thought about what I’d do differently next time.

My main thought was that I probably didn’t explain Elcom as well as I could have. I launched into our experiences, results and plans, without first explaining who Elcom is. I wonder if I could have been more helpful to the audience in that regard.

[Note to self: Write a blog post outlining ‘The Elcom Story’ because I get a few people asking me what it is we do, and realised I have never really explained it here.]

Anyway, that was the fun I had last week.

Have you ever spoken at a media event? If so, what did you do, and what tips do you have?

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MICROSOFT: Heroes Happen {Here} presentation

Posted on March 3, 2008. Filed under: Microsoft |

I had the pleasure of speaking as part of Dave Glover’s session in the Visual Studio track at last Thursday’s Microsoft Wave launch in Sydney.

Dave’s session was on some of the new productivity enhancements in Visual Studio 2008. In my spot I covered off the experiences we’ve had with the 2008 stack at Elcom.

In particular I outlined how we, as a software development company – and thus mostly focused on Visual Studio – have benefited hugely from the performance improvements in IIS7 on Windows Server 2008. My point being that we need to investigate the entire stack – not just those parts that we deal with most.

One interesting thing about presenting the session – I got really nervous just as I went on. This is strange because I’m usually pretty comfortable as a speaker (having presented at user groups for years, spoken in front of large groups and even run conferences). Later that night I realised why… I’ll be outlining that in a separate post.

My PowerPoint slides from the presentation are here. And the case study we handed out is here.

During the session I asked for feedback from people about our results. I’m keen to hear suggestions and field questions. I offered a prize for the best suggestion or question that came through. Most of the feedback I received was in relation to the resource usage of IIS6 compared to IIS7 – with people asking for more details. This is good feedback and I’ll be detailing some of that in the coming weeks. Alan took performance monitor screenshots as he conducted the testing, and he’ll be writing that up shortly.

And I’m happy to announce that the best suggestion/question winner was David Perks from Brennan IT. Two Hoyts Gold Pass movie tickets coming your way shortly Dave.

Finally, a big thank you to Microsoft and Dave Glover for having me along.

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TIP: How to access SQL Server Developer edition over a network

Posted on March 1, 2008. Filed under: Tip |

This one has caught out people for ages, so I thought I’d clarify that it IS possible to connect to SQL Server 2005 Developer edition over a network.

The problem is that the Express and Developer versions of SQL Server 2005 turn OFF remote access by default (Standard and Enterprise have it ON by default). That’s why out-of-the-box you can’t connect over a network to it. But it’s easy to turn on.

Now, you might think that using the SQL Server Configuration Manager is where it all happens. Turns out you need to use the SQL Server Surface Area Configuration tool.

It should be available from:

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 > Configuration Tools >

Select the SQL Server Surface Area Configuration

Run it up and choose the configuration for Services and Connections

SQL Server Surface Area Configuration  Choose the Remote option tab

SQL Server Surface Area Configuration

and make sure you’ve allowed both Local and Remote connections.

Note: This works with SQL Server 2005. If you are playing with SQL Server 2008 CTPx then you’ll have discovered that the Surface Area Configuration tool is no longer available. I’ll update you on that front when I’ve investigated further…

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