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Showing posts from 2008

Happy Yuletide From Me

Have a cracker everyone! Thanks to all the readers, all the commenters, all the workshop attendees, all the listeners, all the clients, all the teachers and to my loving family. (click on the photo to learn how to add your own Santa hat/beard to your Flickr photos)

Increasing The Impact Of Your Intranet: Use an iterative approach

An Intranet is not a ‘product’ but a ‘process’ that is evolutionary and without end Susan Wiener at Cognitive Communications (NY) If your Intranet has started to stagnate, you may be tempted to go for a big fix. It may be better, however, to identify the key areas that need improvement, and plan for small but effective fixes. A series of successful, small wins will be much more effective than waiting for the one big, and sometimes elusive, win. Don’t let your Intranet grow haphazardly. Try starting with a small project that has a really visible and beneficial result. Make sure it is one you can deliver on. A quick and effective win early on in the project gives you credibility and creates an ‘upward spiral of improvement.’ Measure and report on the progress of each ‘mini project’, tweak your plans if necessary, or even re-evaluate your whole approach if circumstances warrant this. This post was kindly supplied by the fine folk at SnapComms

Install IM And Turn Your Employees Into Time Wasters

A great (GREAT!) sentence Enterprise 2.0: It's About Command, Not Control Often when talking to clients about Enterprise 2.0 (or even something as basic as instant messaging) I'll get the feedback that "they might spend all their time messing around". I have to respectfully suggest they have seemingly well behaved employees up to today, and something as simple as instant messaging turns them into serial time wasters then a) they have the wrong employees and b) they have employed some rather strange people who will transform from productive worker to time waster just because they have discovered instant messaging! Trust those highly paid people ... or change your hiring policy

Old Fellas May, Actually, Know Stuff

We're young, we're web-enabled and we're funky and we're also (definitely) sons, granddaughters and neighbours AND therefore we're NOT doing anything that hasn't been done before. Sex ... sorry ... was invented by your parents. Social networking was ... sorry ... a precursor to sex. Your parents ... sorry ... maybe still having sex ... as I write this. My point, and I have one*, is let's not get lost in the shiny stuff, the Google-ness of seeing our own house on a computer (no because, I can see it by ... looking at it) and by being Friend-ed/Follow-ed on some webservice. Digital natives - listen to the immigrants because they are make it better. Just like real life. So here's our challenge - between now (Sat, 12:19am NZT) and Monday ((9am, Mike time) - ask a"real person" what they think you're up to and how it benefits them/the company/society .. really, ask them .. why be scared? * I know

Wordle Me - This Blog In One Picture

Tag clouds are

But I Can't Use Google Docs Because My Client NEEDS To Use Microsoft Word

Bollix! Google Docs to Micrsoft Word ( more ... ) And as you can see Google Docs to a stack other formats as well - HTML, OpenOffice, PDF, RTF and Text ... that should do ya! And yes, it is good enough! Getting Microsoft Word into Google Docs ( more ... ) What if you want to go the other way? You can either upload from the site or email them in. And if you have a whole stack of documents then check out the Document List Uploader ( download Windows .exe ). So there you are - documents in, documents out in loads of formats PLUS an API so you can write your own importer/exporter if that works for you.

5 Articles About YOU

1: The End of Online Anonymity We'll pay for our services on the new internet with our identity and personal information. When the companies we sold ourselves to use it for their own benefits, our outrage will come too late. We'll only have ourselves to blame. 2: Google’s User Data Empire I don’t understand how prominent geeks normally so paranoid over spyware and whatnot can ignore Google. They function on a higher level than any spyware company in history, and do it all by winking at the webmaster community and acting like they’ll look out for us. “Do No Evil” is the motto of a private company. Not a public company. It’s the antithesis of the free market economy. What is good for the consumer is not good for the company, and that is especially true with an advertising company that has access to so much data. 3: Google Knows Where I Am and Everything Else I Do Just how much does Google know? Ok for Google to control these many bits of data on each user no matter if they us

Email, The Number One Government Record Keeping Tool

Under the fine steerage of Miriam Lips (Professor of E-Government) the fine folks at Victoria University here in Wellington have released their Effective Electronic Records Management in 21st Century Government * research findings. This research project investigated how public servants across the New Zealand government handle emails of significant organisational value. The project also identified specifications for effective electronic record management across New Zealand central government, and made recommendations to government agencies on how to improve email management practices that support compliance with the Public Records Act. Whilst the findings aren't world shattering they do solidify what most of us are thinking. And, even if you're not working within a government agency they have ramifications - here's the summary (my emphasis ) Similar to available research on e-mail management (e.g. Ducheneaut & Bellotti, 2001; Seow et al., 2005) our research finding

Off Topic But Worthy: Stop Racism In New Zealand

(a cross posting from my personal blog - I know you'll forgive the blurring of the boundaries in this instance) Stop Racism - it's not much to ask ... is it? Especially when you read Protecting My Child’s Innocence by mrsgooding This is the moment when I thought, "Fuck 'em, racist bastards - STOP IT!!!" But sometimes, there are things that you can’t ignore. Especially if they are emotionally affecting someone you love more than life itself. That someone is my only daughter, Bea. Yesterday, she came home from school hysterical after a very traumatic bus ride. Five teenage boys taunted her and THREW STONES at her INSIDE the school bus while taunting her saying she doesn’t belong here and that she’s an Asian b*tch . If she was not in a public place, who knows what extent they’d go to in their desire to be hurtful and destructive. I shudder at the thought. It took all my herculean effort not to break down while my daughter narrated what happened to her over

Recession Time Calls For Tough Calls - Here's Your List

Vaughan Merlyn takes a pragmatic look at what IT Departments can do in these increasingly tougher times at his IT in a Recession - What’s Different this Time? post. Echoing an earlier post here ( Tough Times Call For Easy Decisions ) he sets the scene for his list of actions: We’ve been in recessions before, and the innovator versus controller behaviors - ever present - do tend to stand out during such times. I guess the appropriate variation on the old cliche is “When the going gets tough, tough CIO’s innovate!” There then follows a list of actions that any CIO can ponder , including: If you have been a responsible IT leader, you’ve already done the reasonable cost cutting and cost take-out measures, and run an efficient IT operation. Cutting any further is likely to cut into bone and muscle rather than fat. Is the best thing we can say about IT that when money is tight, we should do less of it? My problem with the knee jerk reaction is it reinforces the perennial perspective t

Why Don't Government Agencies Ask?

Following up from How Will You Know It Works? Ask Those That Use It! this popped into the reader, How much would your department pay for a 10% improvement in customer satisfaction? : Every agency struggles to provide the best possible outcomes and customer service with the resources they are given. However few departments or agencies look outside for help - even to other government bodies. Yep, the answer is to ask : The article, If you liked this, sure to like that , discusses how Netflix's programmers had gone as far as they could with their available resources and skills, so the company decided to make a large slice of their information available publicly (anonymised to protect privacy) and see where others could take it. So how about it NZ Government agencies, why not let go a but and ask. And we know you can :-) This isn't just a pipe dream. The UK government is running a competition at the moment, asking the public to come up with innovative ways to use government data

How Will You Know It Works? Ask Those That Use It!

So, you're putting in something new or improved* and you don't know if it's working ... ask someone! That's it. Get off your butt and ask. Simple? Welllllll, not always. For those individuals that already look at information, systems or service from the "real persons" point of view this is just plainly obvious and to learn that others don't operate like this will probably a bit of a shock - it was and devastatingly still is to me In my experience, most "head office" staff members operate with a, "I have something to say, what tool can I use to make sure everyone gets to hear me?" ... that tool is usually email and/or the "news" section of the company Intranet. How about this, replace "I have something to say ..." with "What question will I be answering by supplying this information?" . Simply changing your view will ... Have you supply answers not novels; Prompt you to use language appropriate to those

Using The Web, How Does Anyone Find The Time?

A common (yet slowly diminishing) cry from management of organisations is still, "This web-stuff, isn't it just playing ... we don't have time for our staff to be playing on our Intranet! "* And that's correct, no-one has time for staff that playing, FULL STOP! If you're paying someone to do a job then they should do the job. Some jobs, however, are not as easily defined and measured as, say a bus driver. The bus needs to be driven from A to C via B arriving with a required amount of money at very particular times. Having said that the bus driver is now-a-days also seen as "an ambassador for the company" and therefore is given a whole lot more tasks around "customer satisfaction" that are a lot less measurable. And the word "playing" for some coms with a meaning of "mindless, unfocused time wasting". If the word is "playing" is replaced with "creating innovation" then it's allowed because the &

In Troubled Times It's Good To Extend A Hand - Your Turn

The fine and very fabulous Brenda W ( http://www.coffee.geek.nz ) passed this on and I now ask you to read it, pass it on (cut-n-paste is grand, go for it) or even better donate! Time for me to ask fir a little favour. On Monday, we are going live with another round of G1G1 [ Mike: "Give 1 Get 1" ]. It's turning out to be really hard to ship outside of US, but we're starting get better at twisting Amazon's arm, and there's an initial promise to start shipping to parts of Europe. Aus/NZ aren't yet on the list, but I am hopeful for an early-to-mid-2009 push. People from anywhere can "just give" which means donate via Amazon. The more XOs [ Mike: name of the laptop - more ... ] that move via G1G1, the more laptops we have to run small and medium sized pilots, to developers doing interesting stuff (like Moodle!), and most importantly to supply laptops to small Pacific Island nations where a "small pilot" can cover the whole place -- like

Ideas From The Innovators On Where Enterprise S/W Is Going [video]

From Derek’s Blog - Cloud Computing Panel A wonderful discussion from an all-star panel at the recent ReadWriteWeb conference where they took a closer look at the implications of the current shift towards cloud computing and discussed the possible business models around it. The panel featured Adobe’s CTO Kevin Lynch , Salesfore.com’s CEO Marc Benioff , Google’s Dave Girouard , and VMware’s CEO Paul Maritz . It was moderated by Tim O’Reilly . Listen for a great response from David Girouard (Google) in response to the question, ¨What do you guys think of Microsoft Azure?¨ I feel like I’ve been saying for 18 months now that comparing Google Apps with Microsoft Office was apples to oranges and I feel like, great, bring out there and we’ll finally be able to have apples against apples and we think our apples will taste better. So, it’s great ... it’s not gonna be here for a while and we have a great opportunity to extend the lead that we have [...] but it’s a great endorsement finally by

Rotorua: Engage Your Community Conference - agenda, venue and my workshops

Waiariki Institute of Technology, Mokoia Drive, Rotorua - Friday 29th November 2008 See everyone at the workshops (1pm - 2:15pm / 2:30pm - 3:45pm) - http://www.miramarmike.co.nz/engageyourcommunity How to get there (by 8:55am) View Larger Map The day's agenda ( more on the RoSSCo website (pdf)) Here's our Google Calendar version of the Rotorua conference agenda (pdf) so you can add it to your own calendar using its iCal feed To learn how to create your own public Google Calendar showcasing your own events read our guide: Make Your Public Event Calendar Usable To All What the conference is about A key aim of the conference is to raise confidence amongst the local community to use new Internet tools to improve effectiveness and efficiency. The event is also an opportunity to find out about the free or affordable IT support available to Rotorua community groups through the Rotorua E-Rider Service, Webhealth.co.nz and the Waiariki IT Literacy Campaign, and also

"Microsoft in some ways remind me of Brittany Spears"

Ha ha ha ha ... *ahem*, this paragraph from Why do SharePoint Projects Fail - Part 3 made me giggle somewhat: Microsoft in some ways remind me of Brittany Spears*. Both crash things, both can be abusive, both get themselves into trouble with the law, both have ignored legal judgements, both have loyal fans who love them no matter what and detractors that will never accept they can do anything right, both get caught with their pants down on occasion, and both have produced some pretty ordinary crap in their time. Despite this, they sell squillions of copies and make a ton of money. *Just in case you read this article at some future point where Brittany is long forgotten, substitute whichever starlet is in rehab The articles though are a top read if you're looking at SharePoint, and a lot of you are. Don't rush down the Microsoft SharePoint route without first talking with Knowledge Cue who deliver to your business needs and not just a "working SharePoint platform"

Service Level Agreements With Cloud Computing; Google Ups The Ante

An interesting post from Google today talks about how they measure up time for GMail and how they are oodles better (both in performance and cost) that three main competitors (Groupwise, Lotus and Microsoft Exchange): Compared to the costs of Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus or Novell GroupWise — including software licensing, server expenses and the labor associated with deploying, maintaining and upgrading them on a regular basis — Google Apps leaves companies with much more time and money to focus on their real business. All quite interesting but then again I have worked for a software vendor and always remember the line given to me by their head of sales: You are always number one - just make sure you the size the pool to make that so! Granted, Google is playing in a very big pool but they chose the attributes used to describe that pool. Annnywho, it's not that part of the post that interested me, it was this : Today, we're announcing that we will extend the 99.9 percent

Steve Balmer (Microsoft CEO) Talks Past Me And Directly To Many Many Millions

After the "cloud computing" announcement of Azure from Microsoft yesterday I received an email from Mr Balmer himself (I signed up so it's not spam). In it he describes to the recipients of the email the "brave new world" What's missing is the ability to connect these components [ ... massive datacenters, social networking sites, cell phones that double as digital cameras, large flat-screen PC monitors and HD TV screens, hands-free digital car entertainment ... ] in a seamless continuum of information, communication, and computing that isn't bounded by device or location. Today, some things that our intuition says should be simple still remain difficult, if not impossible. Why can't we easily access the documents we create at work on our home PCs? Why isn't all of the information that customers share with us available instantly in a single application? Why can't we create calendars that automatically merge our schedules at work and home?

Wondering Why You Should Care About "Web 2.0"/"Cloud Computing"?

If you're like a lot of people I know both working with IT and those purporting to support those using IT) and are wondering what the big deal is about using a damned browser to do some fancy dancy things then I urge you to read Tim O'Reilly's Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing Key phrase (out of a couple, I must admit): This top level of cloud [ Cloud-based end-user applications] computing definitely has network effects. If I had to place a bet, it would be that the application-level developer ecosystems eventually work their way back down the stack towards the infrastructure level, and the two meet in the middle. In fact, you can argue that that's what force.com has already done, and thus represents the shape of things. It's a platform I have a strong feeling I (and anyone else interested in the evolution of the cloud platform) ought to be paying more attention to. Ah yes, but the web, it's still a playground for those that have the time, inclination and not enoug

FREE: Building Successful Online Communities Event

I am such a shocker, Mauricio sent this through a week or so ago and it's only now that Ben has posted it, Building Successful Online Communities , that I remember, doh! All the details at Diversity but here's the nuggets: How to create, develop and evolve a social media presence to increase collaboration, drive awareness and improve customer loyalty ... Intergen has invited Andreas Stjernström from Swedish enterprise software company EPiServer to New Zealand. He will highlight the reasons why developing a community is important, and give real world examples of organisations that have successfully created and maximised the benefits of online communities. Intended as an introduction to online community development, these free events are targeted at: Organisations that are currently creating or are looking to create or sponsor an online community. Agencies who want to offer your customers options for taking advantage of social media. Marketers and communicators who are look

Which Laptop Should I Buy?

MiramarMike.co.nz is very nearly wired up with equipment and needs one last thing - the laptop. And for those that have given advice, thanks and please bear with me just a little longer :-) Everyone tells me to get an Apple MacBook Pro but it's a darned expensive beastie. Having said that I am willing to pay a little premium for the ease of use over and above Windows Vista and Ubuntu. Also I have a mate currently traveling the US who's willing to pick up a laptop over there but I'm sure how much cheaper they actually are. And so, three questions I'd love some help with: Should I go for an Apple MacBook Pro no matter what (and why?) Should I get my mate to buy the laptop (any make) in the US? If not buy in US where in NZ/Wellington would you recommend? What do you think - leave a comment My calcs. You can edit this spreadsheet with more options at: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pmxKow-YfvkpQWjvBfAcpVw

"saving time on your intranet is a bad metric" - YES!!!

I have no more to add to James' fantastic post, 25 reasons why saving time on your intranet is a bad metric , over Column Two apart from - YES! To start with, here’s my “big five” problems with this metric: We’re not measuring end-to-end task completion. Can we realise the value? Time saving and productivity is complex. We are multiplying a lot of assumptions. Many financial people won’t accept it. (of course James outlines his thinking behind each one, I've snipped it out - go read the original ) And if James argues the case against "we'll save time" what does he replace it with - useful . An Intranet (or any site) must be useful and, as I have said previously , the only way you can measure usefulness is to get off your Intranet designing butts and go and ask those that will be using the product day in and day out. Further reading on this: Useful - The Only Criteria Software Should Be Measured Against Increasing The Impact Of Your

Microsoft Looks Down At Google And Google Reacts

Was it timing that merely 2 days after Steve Balmer (Microsoft CEO) says (of Google Docs)*: ... you can’t even put a footnote in a document! ... that Google releases footnotes into Google Docs? Or was it to show that the on-line world moves at a different speed to the "traditional" PC software environment and that Google has more ability/agility than most realise. This isn't to say that Google Docs is more or less useful than Microsoft Office - that's for each business/individual to decide - but it does highlight how a product can become more useful before your very eyes and as you ask. As to who will "win" - maybe the tortoise, maybe the hare - I don't care as long as we get software than is useful! Further reading on this: Google Docs ... so what - the ONE reason why you should care Constant Beta Is A Bit Like Hair Growing - No-One Notices Useful - The Only Criteria Software Should Be Measured Against Agile, if it can work for millions of user

Who Wants To Be In My P.I.S.S.U.P. Gang? [Updated]

[Updated] We have a full winning team and therefore the offer is closed :-) Go Julia, Sue, Chan, Rowan, Sandy and myself - team name coming And I know that putting it out there may result in zero results but what the heck! "Gang for what Mike???" - this: Webstock has been asked by leading scientists to conduct some research. They’re concerned about how people act under pressure, and in particular, how certain types of people act under pressure. Let’s be frank - people who attend Webstock events are smart. (They’re also charming and sexy, but that’s another story for another time.) But how do smart people react under pressure? Do they crumble? Do they lift their game a notch and shine? That’s what we’ve been asked to research. We’re calling it our P rimary I nvestigation into S erious S martness U nder P ressure. You can find out all about it here . Salient details: Where: Upstairs at The Brewery Bar (On the Wellington waterfront, corner of Cable and Taranaki Streets

Agile + Business Analysts, A Marriage Made In Heaven Or Head Straight To The Divorce Courts?

A while ago I posted up Chicken and Pig Make Breakfast - A Scrum Team Story which gives the background to describing a useful and effective Scrum team members as either "pigs" (a team member that is committed to the success of the project) or "chickens" (a team member that makes contributions to the success of the project). Amongst chickens I included Business Analysts "(mostly)". Yesterday I had a coffee with a top BA to discuss her agile wedding project (the whole thing came together successfully in 6 weeks - all without a Gantt chart :-) and flicked her the above link. She had a view on what I wrote and this is it: I must admit I've often been called a headless chicken - that's because I'm running around trying to juggle the needs of the pigs (what do we do now) and the chickens (we want this now)! However, as you can understand, I don't really agree with your inclusion of "Business Analysts (mostly)" being lumped in with

Increasing The Impact Of Your Intranet: Have A Clear Vision And Do Your Planning

Every Intranet project starts somewhere and the best ones never end Tim Horgan, CIO Magazine webmaster and vice president of technology Start by clarifying your objectives. Your objectives should focus on creating value: selling more, saving costs, developing new products/services, attracting and retaining employees, etc. You may need to carry out some research or conduct focus groups to understand the value that different departments hope to derive from an improved Intranet. Next, put together your team. Having an effective, company-wide cross-functional team is really important. It is a good idea to get a balance between representatives from IT, Comms and HR. Consult with your Intranet team and key stakeholders to define why you are establishing or revamping your Intranet. Ensure your objectives and strategies align with the business goals. Use a template for your planning and write down your plan. This will help you clarify your thoughts. It will also ensure you include al

NZ Government Discussing Its "Cloud Computing" Guidelines

A document (set of pages) that I will be reading and commenting upon v soon - and if you're in the SaaS/"cloud computing" business in any way shape or form I'd suggest you do the same. Government Use of Offshore Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Service Providers Interim Guidance The State Services Commission has released draft guidance for government agencies looking at using offshore ICT providers. The guidance is intended to help agencies take a professional approach to considering offshore as an option to improve service delivery. The documents here are draft guidance and we welcome any feedback or suggestions for improvement. Thanks to the SSC blog, In Development , for the link

Tough Times Call For Easy Decisions

When the times get tough and the debt clock pops there are two ways companies can go: Clamp down and micro-manage Call upon the staff to stay responsible, be innovative and creative With micro-management the mirage generated is that whilst the world is going to hell in a handbag the senior members of the organisation are in control and have detailed plans that guarantee the company's ongoing success. The underlying message this sends is that the majority of staff are children and in these trying times the "parents" are in charge and only they know what's best. A classic example of this behaviour is for expense authorisation to migrate up the organisation hierarchy where you suddenly have the CFO micro-managing how much paper staff are allowed to use in their printers. If, on the other hand, you have an organisation that understands that they are "in this together" and everyone needs to watch the pennies without someone from above telling you the company

Win A 'Cloud Computer' With Ben

Leave a comment on Diversity Competition - Experience Life at the Edge and win: a Nova Navigator ‘hybrid’ cloud computer along with a 6 month subscription to TechNovus’ cloud based applications. Actually don't enter as I want to win it ... lean forward, look into this light and forget everything you've just read.

Constant Beta Is A Bit Like Hair Growing - No-One Notices

I'm sure you've had the comment, " Oooh , nice haircut" after a trim. The visit to the hairdressers has stopped people in their tracks, made them think about your hair as it was and compare it to how it is. This, in IT terms, is the "big bang" approach and is used to put out new pieces of functionality/design in one hit. It generally requires a lot of project management, change management and communications and is inherently risky - all or nothing. Of course sometimes the big bang approach can't be avoided: corporate re-brand, e.g. BNZ as of today introduction of new legislation, e.g. new NZ personal tax bands as of today introduction of brand new functionality, e.g. Google Moderator as of a few days ago ( learn more ) However, many (most?) pieces of software do not need a complete visit to the hairdressers with such a dramatic change. They are like the everyday combing, curling and general coiffuring that we all do to make it a bit better. And, l

Open, The Word Of The Moment

Actually "open" isn't the word of the moment, it's "collaboration" which I seem to stumble across in every business conversation I have - at a recent conference it was used a total of 71 times and by every speaker (myself included). However, collaboration is nothing if the bases it builds upon are not open. How can you collaborate if the information is closed, the functionality ("tools") is only given to a select few, the connections between the people/information/tools are controlled or communications are betwen slecet people in secret places. Nope, for true collaboration you MUST have an open environment. Whlst open communication is something that IT can assist with it is more of a cultural issue and so let's look at three of these core components separately - tools, connections and information ("data"). Open tools - nearly done This is the area which has seen the most progress. In the past the best tools were expensive, install