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  • Hello 2008

    There is about ten minutes left until 2008. I’m spending it at home with my family this year and very quietly seeing in the new year

    2007 has been very interesting i’m looking forward to 2008 for lots of reasons.

    Just a couple that spring to mind…… 

    There are whole bunch of new products on the way from Microsoft (Server 2008, SQL 2008, Visual Studio 2008) which is great from a geek perspective (new tech!) and from a business perspective (new opportunities!)

    The business is nice and stable now and i’m hoping that this time next year we will have a grown significantly. There has been lots of planning going on in the second half of this year that i’m looking forward to putting into place over the next few months.

    In Vlad’s new year post he talks about how OWN will be launching new products in January including some suprises. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the products he’s been working on (Theiving Weasel and the public release of Shockey can i buy ativan online Monkey?)

    From an SBSC point of view things will change. I’m hoping the community will continue to grow and we’ll see more people getting involved.

    In addition to this the first anniversary of PAL’s program will come around. I’d like to take this chance to thank Vijay and Gareth for all the work they have done in the UK in 2007

    One of the things i love about new year is actually the unknown.

    As an example, at new year 2006 most people had barely heard of Facebook. Now you’ll struggle to find a net user who hasn’t at least heard the name.

    There will be new technologies and trends that people hadn’t thought possible during 2007

    Things will happen that are completely unexpected.

    Some people will come to the fore, and some people will move on to pastures new.

    Whatever happens it’ll keep us our toes and whatever it is….bring it on

    Whatever your up to tonight have a great new year and i look forward to catching you in 2008

  • Christmas Quotes

    Just a quick one

    I got this book for Christmas,

    Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

    One thing i love about reading quotes is the thoughts they can start off

    So here’s one that jumped out at me

    “Business is like a car: it will not run by itself expect downhill”

    Substitue business for whatever is relevant for you!

  • See ya 2007

    It’s Christmas eve and i’m in the office catching up on a few things while it’s quiet (hopefully it’ll stay that way!)

    This will probably be my last post of the year so i’d like to wish a happy christmas and hope you enjoy the festivities leading up to the new year!

    2007 has been really interesting for me as i made more of an effort to get involved in-person in the community. I’ve met some really great people and have learnt an awful lot.

    It’s had such a dramatic impact on the way i perceive business and i’m looking forward to the possibilities over the next twelve months

    I think 2008 will be very interesting for small business specialists as we have SBS2008 to look forward to and lots of other products and technologies on the way including ones we don’t even know about yet!

    Have a good one!

  • Customer Perceptions

    *SARCASM ON*

    So this week i’m on the wind down to Christmas hence the lack of blog posts

    *SARACASM OFF*

    So i’m spending the week before christmas putting in a new SBS.  Thankfully we have great resources such as SwingMigration.com to help ease a lot of the pains

    This particular upgrade (currently on SBS 2000) has been a long time coming and we have been talking a lot about how replacing the creaky old hardware with “bigger, faster, more powerful” kit would help safeguard the network for next few years as well as adding great new functionality such as RWW, OWA, Sharepoint, etc, etc would be a good idea

    Three people have come into the office we’re working in this week, excited to see the new kit. They all said the same thing,

    “It’s the same size? I was expecting it to be bigger than that”

    Why is there the perception that a “bigger and better” server means physically larger?

    As mobile phones become more sophisticated they are getting smaller and smaller so what’s different about computer equipment?

  • Shame on you Konami

    I never thought i’d say this but i dont think i can play Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 anymore….

    I’ve been a huge fan of this series of football (soccer) games since it’s early incaration as International Superstar Soccer on the SNES

    The previous version was the first on the XBox 360 and while it was deemed a success many felt they hadn’t pushed the hardware enough and it didn’t deserve the “next gen” tag. However the online play was massively addictive with it’s only problem being the occasional slowdown (lag) when on busy broadband connections

    So i eagerly awaited the arrival of the latest version which i’ve had for a couple of months now. As usual they have tweaked the game enough so that it is still Pro Evo but different enough so that it’s not just an graphic and team update.

    I usually play it offline for a little while then jump in once confident i’m not going to get hammered every time. It didn’t take me long to get into the swing of things and was happy with the changes

    This is where my happiness quickly wore off.

    The online version this time around is dreadful

    It doesn’t suffer from slowdown…at all! However ,the problem is what i can only describe as jerkiness. The ball and players seem to randomly jump around the pitch and the camera usually follows them

    This makes for hugely frustrating games. Earlier tonight i was playing a really close game with someone. I had the ball on the halfway line, looking to start a new attack when the ball suddenly disappeared and reappeared at the feet of the striker. Who promptly scored to send me to a disappointing loss. At least in the previous version if you got slow down you knew you’d still have the ball at the end of it

    Apparently Konami have released a patch but i don’t think it’s made any difference. I’ve stuck with it a while as the game has years of goodwill on it’s side but i came very close to damaging some equipment tonight

    In modern gaming online gaming can make or break a game. I don’t understand how they can go from having it pretty much spot on last time round to the shoddy state it’s in now 

    The basics don’t even work. There is an achievement for scoring a direct free kick during an online game. I’ve done this twice tonight (which is rare..i’m crap at free kicks) and still no achievement

    From looking on other sites i’m not the only one to be annoyed with this. Fingers crossed for a new patch soon or Fifa my get another look in, which if your a fan of either game you’ll know it’s like changing the team you support!

    🙁

  • Open Office 2007 on Apple Mac

    One of our clients recently made the move to Office 2007. While they have been getting on with it ok i was asked a question the other day i couldn’t immediately answer

    They have a subcontractor who uses Office 2004 on their Mac and wanted to be able to open documents.

    I asked what they had been doing when they were on Office 2003, as they could just save as an older version if needed?

    Anyway after a little more research i found the “Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac 0.2 (Beta)” on the Microsoft Mac downloads page

    It is a Beta so use at your own risk and also note that it expires on 31st Decemeber so keep checking back for a newer version

  • Fasthosts, Stupid or Smart?

    Fasthosts aren’t having an easy time of it at the moment.

    It was discovered in October their user database had been comprised.

    They did a couple of things to resolve the problem including getting in touch with their customers to inform them of the problem. At the same time they were asked to change their password to help prevent any further problems

    A month later they decided to reset all the passwords of the accounts where the original request had been ignored and sent out new passwords by post (customers are also able to call the support desk, verify their identity and get the password that way)

    I’m not a FastHosts customer so hadn’t been particularly following this but what caught my eye was a story on the BBC news site.

    The story covers how upset the users of FastHosts where when they had their passwords changed and locked out of their sites while they wait for post to arrive

    The reason they are upset is (quote)

    “This is causing severe problems for thousands of businesses and is only going to get worse,” said Simon Metcalfe of SDM Insight.

    A story on the Times website has some details about customers who are upset at how much business they have lost

    This article also says they were informed by post so they can’t even use the “i didn’t get the email” excuse

    I’m sorry but i don’t quite get this.

    If your website is so critical to your business that when your host has their database hacked you ignore their request to change your password?

    Your host then decides to cover your back since you can’t be bothered to protect your “business critical website” (after a month i might add, plenty of time to have done it yourself)

    And your upset?

    If your a FastHost customer and this situation has annoyed you i’d love to hear why?

  • High Definition Future

    I’ve recently ventured into the high definition video arena when i picked up the HD-DVD add-on for my XBOX 360. I love the extra quality i get with my games so moving to a better film experience appealed to me. I’ve got gripes with HD formats but i’ll get onto that in minute

    First up i was pleased to see an annoucement on the UK version of XBOX.comsaying we can now download HD movies. It’s not quite the full-blown marketplace the US get (don’t get me started on that!) but it’s a start

    Virgin have plans to reduce the entry price into HD viewing to try and grab some share from Sky. However the amount of content available in the UK for subscription prices they want isn’t really grabbing my attention at the moment.

    The BBC are getting in on the act so hopefully this will be a step in the right direction

    So onto HD formats. Every week someone from the Blu-ray camp or the HD-DVD camp will announce how they are winning the format wars

    This to all the people who start up the whole format war thing

    NO ONE CARES

    All a consumer wants to do is buy the disc, stick it in the player and watch the film. They don’t want to worry about which disc is technically superior in terms of high capacity, differences in audio quality or resolution.

    It’s hard enough explaining to the average consumer the difference between HD and SD so if you throw two types of discs in that’s going to make it worse!

    If you showed a film on each format side by side to most consumers they wont be able to tell the difference

    What also stinks is making certain films exclusive to specific formats

    No consumer is going to tell their 12 year old they can’t have Pirates of the Caribbean 3  or Transformersfor Christmas because they don’t have the right type of player so they’ll just go for the good old DVD versions instead.

    How is that supposed to encourage consumers to buy into the whole thing?

    If your waiting for the consumer to decide who the winner is it’s not going to happen any time soon.People just want to watch the films and i doubt they’ll invest in two players just so they do that. Having the two formats makes people very nervous about investing in equipment and films if they are useless in a years time (you’ve heard all this before with betamax of course!)

    It’s why i have high hopes for Samsung’s dual format player if they can get the price down soon. You can pick up a cheap DVD player here for less than £30 so sticking another £400 on top isn’t going to get you massive sales anytime soon. If they do take off the studios can worry about which format is best to show their films and the normal people can just watch them!

  • Putting in the effort

    I’m still digesting the information from the Forum last week. However, a couple of posts over on Coding Horror got me thinking (here and here)

    Jeff”s first post talks about how he feels there are two types of programmers he splits them into the 20% group and the 80% group

    The 20%ers are the leaders, trailblazers and trendsetters who are always pushing to move forward the “art of software development” whereas the 80%ers are “9 to 5 programmers” who collect their salary and go home and forget about computers over the weekend

    The first post got quite a lot of comments about people who felt insulted they were being pidgeon-holed into the 80%ers since they don’t write a blog, or run an open-source project

    Jeff’s second post goes on to say the following (quote)

    “Many of the commenters were offended that I somehow lumped them into a vast unwashed eighty-percent sea of vocational programmers. Here’s what’s particularly ironic: the very act of commenting on an article about software development automatically means you’re nota vocational eighty-percenter.”

    Sounds oddly familiar to me

    So my point? –warning, i’m going to be massaging figures here to make my point 🙂

    There are about 930 small business specialists in the UK

    about 120 of them turned up for the forum. Now i’m not saying that just because you didn’t attend the forum your not included so lets add another 20 onto that figure for the people who wanted to attend but “other commitments” stopped them

    It’s about 15%

    Not that that far off the figures mentioned by Jeff

    So if your attending user groups, commenting on blogs (or writing one!), contributing to mailing lists or helping out your fellow IT pro you can feel all happy that you fall into that 15% and your showing a willingness to learn and improve the community as a whole and not be just a “blue badge collector”

    I’m hoping that last weeks event will have created lots of enthusiasm, maybe re-energised some people and hopefully there will be some ongoing momentum and we can get that 15% to be 20% then 25%

    By getting more people involved in the community the higher we can “raise the bar”.

    Surely this is better for us and for our clients?

    As always your thoughts are most welcome