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Office 2013 live tiles

Tech blog The Verge broke the news today …

..That Microsoft Office will be coming to Android and iOS devices in 2013. Looks to me like they missed the big picture here…

Office 2013 live tilesIf you read the article and you are an Android or iOS user then that is good news for you.

If you are a CIO of an organization that has invested heavily in either of these platforms for your road warriors then that’s an even bigger slice of good news pie.

The question being asked by some is,

“Isn’t Microsoft shooting Surface and Windows Phone 8 in the foot doing this?”

The fact is if you are something of a Luddite and stuck on the idea of emailing attachments then yes this probably seems so to you.

The reality is that as important as proprietary, front-end devices are to Redmond, by allowing Microsoft Office to work cross-platform they are solving a huge strategic battle.

Microsoft Office will in one fell sweep unite all front end productivity devices, regardless of platform with the same Productivity Suite.

There are two strategic advantages here: –

  1. COLLABORATION – this has been the buzzword for Office and Office-like productivity suites since they went online. Now picture working from your iPad from home while another team member offshore collaborates on the same document from their Galaxy Note or Asus Transformer and yet another team member pitches in with their input from a Surface or Windows 8 laptop.
  2. BACKEND – whether you are already in the Cloud or moving that way the key phrase in the Verge article was “Office 365” and this is as much about Microsoft Office in the Cloud and the backend as it is the Office UI and frontend features.


When push comes to shove it seems to me that an organization of any scale with all its devices collaborating via Office 365 will be well served to use the included Sharepoint and Exchange / Outlook. Looking further afield is this an entry-point for Microsoft to leverage Windows Azure to these same CIOs to better serve all these Office 365 users?

Personal Android / iOS users already have some access to Skydrive via an Apps Page that has 3rd Party Apps and the Official Apps can be found here.

Apps for Skydrive

 In a nutshell, does it look like Microsoft has cut the knees out from under Google Apps? If the price is right then this may harken the end of Open Office and its kin but also see the demise of Google Apps too.

If you are an Android or iOS user will you be investing in Microsoft Office for your Phone / Tablet?

 

In the convergent universe of digital and real worlds Microsoft has implemented a really nice technology known as Microsoft Tag.

Tag is defined in Wikipedia as,

"Microsoft Tag is an implementation of HCCB using 4 colors in a 5 x 10 grid."

Microsoft on the Tag Website dive a little deeper and describe it as,

"Microsoft Tag connects almost anything in the real world to information, entertainment, and interactive experiences on your mobile phone. Tags are a new kind of bar code that can be displayed anywhere."

Users may create their own Tags using the  Tag Manager which can be accessed with the ubiquitous Microsoft Live Login. De facto this makes it an addition to the ever increasing list of Live Services.

The key here is how to access and process the data encoded in the Tag format: this is done using Tag Reader which can be found for your mobile here:

In essence this is the Redmond answer to QR Codes which were first created and used in Japan but now can be seen on product labels, utility bills etc.

Tag has also taken some of this market share what was the sole domain of the lowly bar code.

At present Microsoft Tag can encode the following data-types:-

  • URL
  • Free text
  • vCard
  • Dialer

G810

I had a crack at creating all of these, installing the Tag Reader on my Toshiba Portege G810 that runs Windows Mobile 6.1. Whilst appearing fuzzy to the 3 Mp camera when I displayed the tag on my laptop screen, the Tag Reader read, decoded and handled the data for each type as relevant e.g. opening the URL in the browser / adding the vCard to my Contacts or Dialing the number encoded in the Dialer.

All I had to do was run the application on my Mobile and get the Tag in the crosshairs (NB this application requires a data connection to function)

The tags a user creates can be password protected and even given a shelf-life. The variety of implementations listed on the Tag site are varied, creative and numerous e.g. Tags on a Movie Poster to trailers, locations of nearest Cinemas etc, vCard data as a Tag on a Business Card.

The big question is what’s next for this very cool, eminently usable technology?

POTENTIAL FOR ABUSE:

If a user can encode a URL in a Tag then why not use it as a device for Malware or Viruses via said URL. This is a similar problem to knowing which shortened URLs to click on or not: the nature of encoded data precludes the user knowing what they are going to get.

 

GOOD USAGE OR EXPANDING THE PLATFORM:

What would I like to see next?

  • A Tag toolbar for Internet Explorer or Accelerator that allows me to Tag encode data on the fly – if I click on Contact Info in the browser and right click to get the Tag Accelerator it should automatically recognize it as such and encode a vCard Tag on the fly, likewise for URLs and so on.

image

  • Integration with Office Applications. Office regularly imports data in a variety of formats into Access, Word and Excel e.g. CSV, XML, Outlook Contacts etc. If I have data in Tag format why shouldn’t Office include the feature of importing Tags I have created or captured with my Mobile either to my Client PC Office after a Sync or online to the Office 2010 Web Apps?

image

Finally, to those of you saying, "I don’t have Windows Mobile. I’m an iPhone / I’m a Blackberry / I’m an Android.." have no fear, Tag technology is available to you right now, subject to device compatibility (http://tag.microsoft.com/resources/mobile-support.aspx)

     
The times you need a printed resume these days seem to be fewer and further between. Everyone wants resumes in digital format RTF, DOC, DOCX or even PDF (some even have video resumes).
There was a job fair this week in Tel Aviv so of course I checked my resume and and off I went to print it up. On the way out of my house I stopped for a second and asked myself, which resume do I print, the English or Hebrew. Yes there are still tech companies in Israel that prefer Hebrew over English.
It occurred to me that this was a case of being able to have my cake, eat it and do something so elegantly simple that I could save paper and make a good impression too.
Picture this, I’m asked for my resume and I hand over the …. Hebrew copy; “Oh do you have this in English?” They ask, I hand it over and now they have to ensure the two loose pieces of paper stay together.
Now flashback to the question and imagine I give them two stapled sheets English and Hebrew; their first impression will be, “Oh no another two page resuem to wade thru”
First impressions do count, so I took my resume and made the Hebrew version a mirror image of the English in terms of layout and format and I printed it double-sided.
I know, forehead slappingly obvious and yet…. So I took it to the job fair, small in size but appreciated nonetheless. The response to my bilingual, double-sided resume was positive. One prospective employer has a long chat with me on the layout, format and the double-sided idea.
So, if you are looking for work and need to print your resume for someone in more than one language, feel free to use this idea. Remember, this falls under the idea from my previous blog, shared information is empowering. Good hunting.

I have been Twittering a lot recently about my Nokia cellular phone which needed repairing. I had my backup phone an iMate sp3i which my brother Jeremy, CEO of First Contact UK supplied me with in my time of need (Cheers Jeremy .. oh yes: First Contact they do so much more than this, Website design, content management, SEO, IT and IT ROI).

Finally, I had the time to take the Nokia for repair two days ago and for the nominal fee of 100-150 NIS (approximately $25) they told me it would be back fixed today.

Why not settle for the iMate? Several reasons, I do like it and Windows Mobile really does rock but it is an older phone with little support, limited functionality and a few hang-ups (no working speakerphone, no Hebrew font support and compared to the Nokia contacts well, it doesn’t stack-up; the Nokia allows me to personalize each contact to a greater level). However, the Nokia doesn’t use ActiveSync but Nokia’s own program thus Outlook may be supported to sync but not directly whereas the iMate with Windows Mobile on it obviously does.

Anyhow, this morning I trotted merrily to my cellular provider to get my repaired Nokia back. A sincerely sad customer support rep informed me that the on/off button was broken (tell me what I didn’t know) rendering the phone irreparable and for a small (but larger fee) I could purchase an identical Nokia and finish my contract happily.

As you can imagine I was torn between annoyance at the provider for failing to fix a wear and tear issue and at Nokia for making what should be a simple problem unfixable. Obviously I have no intention no matter how much I liked the phone of having the same issue occur in another several months so I declined her offer.

Perhaps a brief email to Nokia regarding this might help but I doubt it.

Oh well, one more reason to hold out for the when the G-Phone becomes available in Israel.

Technorati Tags: ,,Consumer dissatisfaction,,,,,

It is a definite sign of intelligence when you find other smart people who have the same idea as you but it’s also a sign that you need a stronger coffee blend in the morning if you have the idea five minutes after them.

My resume has been a challenge to me on several levels; as my job hunt progressed in the past I have had positive responses to the design and layout even though I broke one of the cardinal rules that all the people in the know, blogs and books tell you: it was a two page document.

I didn’t see how to pare down the level of detail to one page and still maintain confidence that I was showing my full skill set to prospective employees. In my moments of doubt I wondered if maybe I was simply overwhelming them with detail and not presenting a polished personal brand.

I have been the one recruiting in the past so I tried to get my head around being the recruiter who needs to understand the terminology and can grasp my brand in a short glance yet have a resume that still stands out from the pack.

I have a rule of thumb for productive brainstorming to solve any problem: –

Use a pencil and pad and do the brainstorm away from the computer.

I decided to sketch a “map” of how the resume should look. I used to be a cartographer at one time so maps of any kind always appeal.

Whilst doing this I wondered what was missing from my resume and how the resume fitted into all the information on the Internet about me. I wanted it all to jell into a cohesive picture that did represent my personal brand. My attempt at creating a business card for networking events helped me realize I wanted my LinkedIn, Blog and Twitter addresses in there; (I also wanted my Facebook link but since I feel that I use Facebook for my Social Networking more than Business I have left it out until I can revamp my profile there sufficiently) I also added a head-shot photograph to the personal information section.

I was (surprise, surprise) having a cup of coffee when it occurred to me that this was evolving into a Web 2.0 Resume; something was missing and still trying to reduce the document down to one page my Management and Technical Skills sections leaped out as important but in need of reducing in size drastically.

Today I took a metaphorical meat-cleaver to some of the details having realized that the ultimate Web 2.0 component needed adding: a Tag Cloud based on my technical and management skills and experience. 

The act of ensuring the tags I felt were the most important and thus prominent in the cloud made me look long and hard at my skill set which in turn helped me refine how I describe myself.

What is left for me to do?

    1. Translate to Hebrew: this I am going to post online and add a link to the English version for the more and more infrequent occurrence that someone in hi-tech requires the resume in Hebrew.
    2. Revamp my Facebook profile and add the link.
    3. Create a ready to go PDF copy of English and Hebrew resumes.

The resume is down to one page and I am hammering out the formatting so that I can insert the tag cloud as a vertical sidebar in both the Word doc and PDF alike.

In away the process of doing this has been more about self-awareness and interview preparation than just redefining my resume. Now I just need to get some good hits and sit down in the interview calmly and confidently knowing that I am the best person for the job. Wish me luck.

When you aren’t working most of your time is spent thinking about looking for work, looking for work and doing the odd job around the house that your spouse or you have put off doing because of lack of time.

However, there are a number of things I had wanted to do over the last 6 months to a year that I never got to while I was working because of job pressures and scheduling issues. I stumbled on Jeff Pulver’s blog during the last year and became an avid follower. His networking breakfasts seemed like a great idea but I just never got off the dime I guess.

I decided to use my time to do more than just email resumes I was going to implement a more proactive plan to find a new job based on some of the articles of Penelope Trunk; her blog and book have been a guiding light to me in my recent job search and I recommend what she has to say to anyone even thinking of seeking new employment.

When I saw that there was going to be another networking breakfast this week I signed up and arranged with my wife how we were going to deal with our morning schedule.

Then I thought to myself, “I’m going to need business cards at least, this is not the sort of shindig to hand out printed resumes..” I looked at several ways of getting my resume into people’s hands there but all seemed to complex:

  • Printed – besides the sheer volume of paper to carry it felt inappropriate.
  • Wireless transfer from my phone – I saved as Word and PDF on my phone and thought great I can use Bluetooth or IR to send the files; but what if the recipient doesn’t have a Smart Phone?
  • Email/ MMS from my Smart Phone – “Ummm excuse me can I have all 200+ email addresses of everyone attending to send them my resume?” Okay, Right.

So one visit to Office Depot later I downloaded, modified and edited a Word Template and remembered to add my Linked In, Blog Address and Email to the card but managed to forget my Twitter name.

The cards are basic white, double sided and adhesive backed so you print the card, peel it from the backing and fold the sticky backing onto itself to make the card. It worked better than expected and produced nice results.

It all got me thinking, why not use magnetic ink to encode any data onto a Business Card and then have the ink create a basic circuit-board so that on receiving the card the recipient can connect it to the computer and download the embedded data; in my case my resume.

Well I have no idea if this is even feasible but perhaps it is and can be done at a reasonable price.

Ah yes, Microsoft Outlook. With all that processing and management muscle one might think you could run a small country with it. Let me ask you though, do you use Tasks?

Do you allocate them to yourself via Outlook, do you use them to allocate work to your team members at work or to send a shopping list to your significant other? Tasks are great and you can Categorize them and Deadline them. Some of us tend just to use the Calendar appointments though.

Now think a minute, how many of you use Microsoft Project? Do you get misty eyed at thought of intricate project planning and Gantt charts. I use Project because I have to at work; we all do. Ask yourself this though in all of the Microsoft Live revolution involving collaboration why is Project the most high maintenance?

Once you have invested hours on balancing the Gantt and distributing the workload and time per task, resource allocation etc you save your MPP file and ….. then what?

You discover that your organization never invested in Project Server so the collaborative options, the true beauty and strength of Project are disabled and you perform an act straight out of the 1990’s you email the whole MPP file to every person who has a task and your boss. The Exchange Mail server groans under the collective weight of multiple attachments ricochetting back and forth with each miniscule change by each addressee … hyperlinked, server based documentation anyone?

Somewhere between needing a full-blown Project Server and attaching that MPP file Outlook needs a scalable, Enterprise/ Business version that allows Outlook Tasks to be part of the Gantt tree structure and link one task to another.

Shared View is this scalable Live product to Sharepoint server, so when can we expect to see the Project product team join the 21st century and leverage a scalble solution using Outlook/ Exchange as their Client – Application/ Web Server architecture?

Last post I raved about the winning features, design and functionality of Microsoft Shared View. Now don’t get me wrong it’s amazing, I’m still using it and my on-the-PC version of Office 2003 in concert.

However, since then I logged into my scarcely used account on Buzzword, now Acrobat.com and remembered why I liked it and why I didn’t.

Buzzword is Adobe’s online Word Processor and so much more. When I was in the throes of job hunting I imported a copy of my resume and discovered that at that time there was no save as PDF option; now resolved – you can just about save to every major format including PDF. Furthermore, the GUI and interface is nothing short of gorgeous; in a beveled black. Adobe have gone to lengths to ensure that the Macromedia acquisition is not for nothing so of course there are implementations of Flash technology there.

For the font junkies out there a plethora of non-Office fonts are just waiting to be tried but, I have not checked if they are True type or not yet.

The user may share documents and create online meetings to discuss these much akin to the Shared View paradigm.

This is competes nicely with Office/ Shared View and Google Apps but, my resume was laboriously slow in loading and why does Acrobat.com insist on loading a Microsoft Scripting Component to work?

So, will I be using this beautifully designed, elegant offering from Adobe? Yes, but if you are reading this at Adobe, remember the P-word … performance!

Several weeks ago I made the leap and made the update to Office 2003. The update was seamless but as a prior user of Office 2003 there was one feature I was determined to keep. Microsoft Photo Editor.

Every other application in the Office suite is markedly improved yet Photo Editor which allows multiple images to be opened and is child’s play to use as a basic editor is replaced with the Office Picture Manager.

Picture Manager is divided into three primary panes: –

    • Left pane: this is a classic explorer tree with view of folder structure.
    • Center pane: the user may see single images, a thumbnail of each image in the selected folder or single picture view.
    • Right pane: this is the Office 2003 goodness – the drop down menu containing primary functionality

The crop feature is undeniably nice in Picture Manager but the lack of paned view or a standard Microsoft -> Window drop down menu was a little exasperating.

I used Photo Editor as my external editor in IrfanView (probably the best free image editor available) and opening multiple images from IrfanView in this manner would open one instance of Photo Editor with multiple images inside.

Picture Manager however opens a new instance of itself each time IrfanView sends an image to it as the external editor – irritating and an excessive use of screen real estate on the system bar.

So I decided no matter what, Photo Editor was going to stay. I searched for the PhotoEditor.EXE and copied it and its sub-folders to a new location prior to the upgrade to Office 2003. Unsurprisingly (Microsoft makes robust applications after all) it ran and is now co-existing nicely with Office 2003 on my PC. Of course, I am sure that if Picture Manager had feelings they would be hurt by all this – this is why when you offer an improved version you don’t drop major features.

Technorati Tags: ,Killer Apps,,,,,Practical Technologies,

Continuing in the Geographical / Mapping / Locational Services vein …

Of all the features in Microsoft Outlook the one that has been consistently under-implemented since Outlook 2000 is the Map Address feature for Outlook Contacts:

Outlook-Contact 

The Map Address button found on the Contacts Toolbar contact-map has never fulfilled its potential throughout each iteration/ version of Outlook. What does the button do? It takes the address data and locates it in Live Maps (once upon a time this was done via Expedia Maps). However, once the data is displayed in the user’s browser Window, then what?

The user has no real way of embedding the map into the Contact; at best you can manually paste the hyperlink from the browser into the Contact.

Furthermore, for the most part, this feature is not supported outside the United States. Microsoft is an International corporation and Outlook is used the world round. Windows Live Maps supposedly has full-World coverage so why not enable the user to: –

  1. Locate any address in the World.
  2. Have the option to save from the Live Map back to the Contact a copy of the map using the Map Cruncher Add-on to decide which layers are relevant.

In an ideal world, much the same way as Internet Explorer 7 allows the user to add Search services and select a default this feature should allow the user to add and select a default Geo-search service of their choice (Live Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Google Maps to name a few).

There is a way to alter this but it requires a deep knowledge of the Windows Registry to understand where this is defined. This is not something I recommend playing with unless you have in-depth knowledge of Outlook, the registry & how to roll-back should you make a mistake.

Until Microsoft fixes this, the Map Address feature will languish unfulfilled.

Technorati Tags: ,,,Map Contact Address

http://clanrossconcepts.blogspot.com/2008/03/will-it-sync-or-my-dream-for-google.html

The very next day I open up some of my favorite tech blogs e.g. http://www.techcrunch.com and find stories about Google’s new Sync tool for Outlook. It was as if someone with a big G- before their name was listening; no not that G- I’m talking Google!

Anyway, I promptly decided to download and test this out only to discover after download and when I tried to run it that it only supports Outlook 2003 and onwards. Robbed I say, robbed! Me with my Outlook XP left out in the cold 🙁

Seriously though, I should have expected it. The major changes to functionality to Outlook between versions XP and 2003 are phenomenal in my mind (At my previous job we all used Outlook 2003).

As of now I am reading other peoples experiences and bugs.

This is not completely what I wanted for sync between Google services and Outlook/ my Pocket PC but still, it is one more reason to make the upgrade to Office 2007.

 

Technorati Tags: ,GCal,,,,,,,QA and Software Testing

My life is managed well by the technology I use. Sometimes there is an overlap or redundancy between two pieces of technology; often because of budget or my unwillingness to add unproven 3rd Party solutions to the mix.

Of course it is not enough to look at how I do things but how this works within my little family unit.

  • Our home PC is probably the central switchboard for all information: Outlook XP sits on Windows XP and my wife and I share an XP user and an email address for Outlook.
  • I sync my PDA (HP Pocket PC) to Outlook for Contacts, Appointments, Notes etc.
  • My wife and I each use GMail and GCal as our away from home PC switchboard.

Each appointment added to Outlook is also assigned to my GMail address so that it appears on my GCal which my wife can see. Likewise I can see hers. This way we are always able to see in one place all the family appointments.

So why use Outlook you ask? Not just because I like it and all the functionality and abilities it has but because I do run my life e.g. Job Hunting from my PDA and Outlook because they Sync together.

In an ideal world my PDA would be my cellular phone but I have a Nokia candy-bar and my wife has a Sony-Eriksson (I have larger fingers which just can’t manage the tiny space between those tiny Sony buttons) so we have Sync/ Backup software for our phones on the Desktop PC too.

I don’t Sync my cellular phone but I do backup the information therein.

Ultimately the R&D teams in Google and Microsoft should be competing to fully integrate Synchronization with Web Services like GMail/ Hotmail or GCal. The first to market value would make this a killer app in my mind.

Of course the user can just use the mobile browser to login to these web services but the advantages of having a synchronized local copy for offline work are immeasurable.

So I am dreaming or hoping that the Google Phone will know how to seamlessly synchronize with GMail, GCal and any other Google Services; that an onboard Google Toolbar will index new entries/ changed entries on the fly so that Google Phone Search incorporates my local contacts, local mail and local appointments.

I am hoping that Google doesn’t cop-out on me and settle for desktop icons on the phone to each service.

I guess I just have to wait and see.

Technorati Tags: ,,GCal,,,,,,,,