Middle East Dec2010

Posted: December 11, 2010 in General discussion

The Journey over to MENA:  I have the privelage to visit several cities on this trip, Jeddah, Al Khobar, Dammam (all KSA), Doha (Qatar) and two Emmirates in UAE.   Enough of the background….

  • This time I started from Atlanta toFrankfurt, nice flight and I had power for the computer and internet access, very cool
  • Try not to sleep, at all.  I think that I slept about one hour headed to Frankfurt and the same to Jeddah.  As a result, it is 11pm local and I can bearly keep my eyes open.
  • When in Frankfurt people would start talking to me, assuming that I as German
  • It was 20′ in Frankfurt and 80″ in Jeddah
  • Our partner here in KSA had a car meet me at the airport.  Now that alone is not that odd; however, the car was sitting on the tarmac, right next to the plane.  The gentleman swept me up, went to a Customs check-in area (one other person in line) and then went to get my bags sent to the hotel.  Now, that is by far the best assistance I have ever experienced on International travel (which is typically a real pain)

All for now, very tired…

What was your first computer and computer experience?  I hesitate to share with you my first experience as those who know me will likely remind me of this factoid for years to come.  However, in the spirit of celebrating Microsoft’s 25th anniversary of Windows, I will muster the courage to share with you some of my deep secrets….

My first exposure to computers was when I was still working in the field with our service company (family business).  Fresh out of school I set out to master test and balance (air and water).  Well, balancing buildings and distribution systems required processing tons of numbers and drawing as-built drawaing of air and water distribution and controls.   In those days, way back when, if you wanted to do anytype of drawing you had to use an Apple.  Yes, you heard it right, my first computer was an Apple MacIntosh.  http://oldcomputers.net/macintosh.html .  As a matter of fact, scroll down the page and check out the carrying bag, I still have that bag today!

So now that the cat is out of the bag on to the great news!  Microsoft Windows has likely touched each of us, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way.  Happy Anniversary Microsoft Windows, it is great to be 25!   Click this link to see the first Windows computer:  http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=picture+of+the+first+windows+computer&FORM=IGRE&qpvt=picture+of+the+first+windows+computer#focal=a7eb677a3f9e6f7eaccdecef7ec508cb&furl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nordhornantiques.com%2Fimages%2520computers%2Fxerox.jpg

What was your first experience?  Use the comments and share with all of us….

That’s all!

Geo tracking. Friend or Foe?

Posted: November 12, 2010 in General discussion

Mobile devices are just great!  The consumption of GPS based information by applications is really pervasive.  Heck, driving down the road I pull up Bing maps, search for a sandwich shop, and shaazam there it appears in reference to my location.  Certainly I would call that a “friend”. 

The flip side explanation will have to start with the movie “Eagle Eye”.  Now that supposed fictional movie was a strong shot of reality for me.  Today I was forwarded a note from the FBI regarding instructions for setting Facebook properties to not allow GPS based tracking.  This is a quick read and I know that tonight you can bet my daughters facebook account will see some modifications.

Please, for the safety of yourself and your loved ones take this document into consideration.  mod_facebook_places

That’s all!

The water has certainly become quite murky regarding the definition between the laptop, netbook and ultra mobile PC.  As folks heading into the Christmas buying season contemplate the best computer for them or their children a brief definition and practical explanation may be helpful.
I’ve written on many occasions about the desktop vs. the laptop, this is not one of those rantings.  We’ve seen recently that folks which have purchased a Netbook, mostly due to its affordable cost, and then discover that….well…. they get what they paid for…. 
Nowadays this can generally refer to any type of portable computer which contains a multi core processor.  For the most part you can see that information as a sticker on the computer around the keyboard and mouse pad area.  Certainly, if I was to purchase a laptop today I would make sure that it was 64 bit and add as much memory as I can shove into it.  Keep in mind that memory and hard drive are different things.  For instance, my current laptop has 4 GB of memory and 120 GB of hard drive.  If you are going to be traveling a lot with this laptop and bouncing around, you may consider a solid state drive as opposed to the traditional mechanically based drives.  Acceptable price range is between $750 and $3000.  The lighter that you go with a laptop the more expensive the device will be so you should really think carefully about how you will you use the computer daily.
The dead giveaway regarding if you have a Netbook or not today is the presence of an atom based processor.  I imagine we will see other types of processors introduced in the future however the first series of low cost netbooks have all come packaged with the low power, low performance components.  Buyer beware these computers are great as a second computer, very mobile, and perfect for email and Internet traveling.  However, if you are doing functions which requires high video processing you will likely find the experience less than desirable.  Acceptable price range is between $300 and $500, the highest end Netbook currently is around $1000.  Many of these computers, since they are meant to be mobile devices, will come packaged with internal radios.  These radios will allow you to connect to the Internet where ever you are located.  Interestingly we see phone carriers now promoting and subsidizing the cost of these netbooks with two year data contracts.  Be careful, make sure that you understand how much data you get and what penalties are when you exceed those numbers.  You may consider ordering your notebook without an internal radio and replace your Internet connectivity with a MiFi device currently offered by sprint and verizon.  The MiFi device creates a mobile hotspot which allows you to connect to the Internet as well as four others.
Ultra Mobile PC:
Now this is a very fuzzy area.  Typically we see screen sizes for ultra mobile PCs from six to eight inches.  One of distinguishing characteristic is the installation of Microsoft Origami.  This application is designed to work with very small real estate screens.  The performance and battery life will match that of the Netbook, maybe even slightly slower.  These devices are very special purpose and have traditionally been three times the cost of a Netbook.  Our estimate is that the ultra mobile PC will likely be replaced long term with the Netbook.
Good luck, and as always make sure that you understand your requirements BEFORE purchasing any type of technology based solution.  That’s ALL!

I imagine that some folks are a bit surprised to see me publishing any entries related to the virtues of an email client.  One of the most powerful aspects of using the Microsoft Outlook (client) and Exchange (server) in the enterprise is leveraging the incredible power of the calendaring tool.  The use of calendaring is really an all or nothing effort, when only a few use the tool is does not work very well.  I can tell you, for folks which have either a few meetings or a ton of meetings (like myself) your calendar in Outlook is the tool of choice.   Please check out some of my favorite aspects of Outlook calendaring:

Dispositions and notifications

  • Populating and maintaining an active calendar works very well when folks are looking for available times to meet with you.  I personally prefer that meetings be set for conversations so as both parties may be focused on the topic at hand.  Certainly flexibility is also important to respond to ad-hoc calls; however, when possible scheduling time with folks pro-actively will yield more effective conversations.  As you and your team become efficient in using the calendaring tool you will discover how easy it is to make changes to your schedule, yet be respectful of others time.
  • Vignette:  Disposition and notification 4m39s

Checking for available time, increase your odds of an "accept"

  • The Microsoft (MSFT) Outlook calendaring tool uses a function which allows you to search across numerous calendars for available times.  Every time that I send a meeting invitation I try to fit the meeting into everyone’s calendar.  Sometimes you will not be able to find an available time for a participant (or participants) here is what you may consider:  Instant message the person to check if something can be moved around; confirm in your mind if the participant is required to attend or may be added to the optional attendee classification. 
  • Vignette:  Calendar availability 6m01s

Send a calendar to someone inside or outside of the TLG environment

  • Very handy feature when interfacing with folks outside of the organization and newbie internal calendar users.  You will discover that you can send a copy of your schedule to anyone and the coordination efforts will be sharply reduced.  Keep in mind that folks outside of the TLG environment can send you a meeting invitation and you can respond, regardless of your outside contacts calendaring tool. 
  • Vignette:  Send calendar 3m30s

Integration with CRM

  • Here is where the rubber hits the road, a "triple play" of efficiency.  Always start with the Outlook client and then associate the calendar event (meeting generally) with a CRM record (using the "set regarding") function.  When executed properly the appointment will appear on your Outlook calendar, your pocket PC device, and inside of CRM. 
  • Vignette:  CRM and Calendar interface 7m2s

The power of any organization lies within their ability to collaborate and have positive impact.  That’s all

Where shall I store my data?

Posted: August 25, 2008 in Uncategorized

I am constantly challenged with a simple question; where will I find information in six months? My take is that many folks struggle with where to place information which will need to be retrieved six months from now. Unfortunately one of the most convenient ways to file information by name, by folder, in your  Outlook inbox. Many of you already know what comment is to follow; there is no "i" in collaborate. 

It seems easier for me when I automatically think about all business related information as consumable by a community. That is not to say communities cannot vary in size and individuals. For instance one community may be everyone or just a very private group.  So what is your thought process?  I will tell you that the hardest information to store is that which is business "private"; however, not difficult to overcome this challenge.  Here are some of the questions that I ask myself every time I disposition an item in my Outlook environment:

Team related information?

  • Post to team based team site

Location related information?

  • Post to location based team site

Multi reply correspondence thread

  • Determine the overall theme and then move thread over to appropriate discussion or issues log within SharePoint team, project, or team foundation workspace.
  • If only related to a Customer "set regarding" to Account or Contact within CRM, read and then delete

Project related?

  • Forward to project team site in project server or team foundation server
  • Associate to a contract within CRM (prefer for correspondence management)

Review related?   IE:  Statements of work from partners; internal files with team decisions required; review of BOD meting notes; contracts; license agreements; most legally related documents

Customer related? Internal or external customers

  • Dynamics CRM, either the CORP tenant or the EXEC tenant (depending upon level of confidentiality)

Meetings | Project related

  • Meeting notes contained within MSFT OneNote and then copied to the event within the project calendar in the project team site.  Actions captured in the meeting notes from OneNote and then managed within Outlook or the Project team site

Meetings | Contract or case specific

  • Meeting notes captured within MSFT OneNote and then copied to event within CRM

Meetings |  Status, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly

  • Agenda topics captured within meeting team site (SharePoint).  Meeting notes updated within the agenda item.  Tasks from meeting managed within Outlook tasks or as future meeting agenda discussion topics

The key is to collaborate, we are stronger as a team.  We will be deploying "Enterprise Search" in the near future and this application will search for information across all line of business applications (financial, CRM, work order, SharePoint, Project server) however WILL NOT search personal email boxes.  Okay, what can I do today to start using the collaborative tools better today so I can increase my chances of finding valuable information now and in the future?

  1. Configure team or location based team sites (portal assistance request)
  2. Use Project server for all internal and external projects, regardless of size and scope
  3. Manage recurring meetings in meeting workspaces
  4. Leverage CRM in your location or Business Unit, if you do not have it, get it!
  5. Evaluate the five most common recurring data types entering and exiting your Outlook inbox. 
    • Take that list to your evangelist and get that information automated and moved to a collaborative location.  We have the tools, leverage them to enhance our Customer value statement and increase productivity!

That’s all!

Thank you Nora Spinaio (LFS Government – Hopkinsville) for requesting this blog topic

In our world of acronyms and abbreviations we are often rushed right past the formality of it all….  Often I am guilty of firing a note to someone via Instant Messaging, Electronic Mail or Calendar invitation failing to exercise basic letter composing skills or for that matter social etiquette.  The keyboard seems to insulate us all in some way, for some it is often easier to fire off a correspondence then pick up the phone.  So where do all of these points converge?  How do we communicate across generations and cultures?  While considering this blog topic I conducted some light research in three areas; social etiquette in the United States; composing messages (IM, Email, letters); meeting etiquette.

Social etiquette:  I find the linked page interesting and packed with "common sense" elements, very worth a quick read.   http://www.professionaltravelguide.com/etiquette/united-states/destinations-672785/

Composing messages:  This is a great "top ten" list of items to consider when composing a message, whether that message is posted as a discussion; issue; or email (if you must).

  1. Greet your recipient warmly and with respect
  2. Be brief and simple
  3. State (and repeat) your position
  4. Personalize your message, show your passion
  5. Be polite
  6. Make your message timely
  7. Avoid emotional venting (this is best face-2-face or via the phone)
  8. Review message content and read as if you are the recipient (s)
  9. Only copy those which require the information.  Post in the portal and allow folks to travel at their discretion to the information, do not force them to deal with your "copy the world" process
  10. Conclude your message with sincere appreciation

Meeting etiquette:  Distributed environments makes it challenging when scheduling meetings.  However, we are blessed to utilize Microsoft Office calendar tools.  The more folks which use the calendaring tool the better it is for the entire community.  I find that it is best to always schedule time with someone as opposed to just calling them on the phone.  People want to be efficient and the way to do that is have time to focus on the current topic and prepare for future discussions (since they are in the calendar).  This Microsoft site has some great tips:  (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/CH102499821033.aspx). 

Certainly, every good meeting has a couple of core components; agenda and actions.  Some of the most effective meetings are those which organizers spend time before and after the meeting.  I have started to set meetings for 45 minutes (as opposed to an hour) to allow some time to get the actions addressed or assigned after the meeting. 

Finally, and likely the most important is overall meeting Etiquette.  punctuality is important for all business functions.  If you arrive late, you should call ahead with an explanation.  Under no circumstances should you just "not show up" without showing the organizer the respect of a phone call or a message.  Distributed meeting management is effective when respected and leveraged by all equally.

That’s all!