Microsoft Vista

Between now and the end of the first quarter, we’ll see releases of Microsoft Vista and Office 2007. A lot of words have been spilt in the press over the hardware requirements for Vista. Most of these words have been about Aero Glass, the new 3-d interface that makes overlapping windows on the screen partially transparent, as well as other things.
To see a bit of what Vista will do, visit the Microsoft Vista site. Click on the User Experience link at the top to see print screens of the new interface. In a recent presentation, the presenter referred to these features as “eye candy.” Other than the thumbnail images of pages that come up when you press Alt+Tab in the new version, he came up with very little productivity enhancement from the new interface.
Other features in Vista deserve a bit more consideration. The main features I think businesses will be interested in as of now are:

  • Bitlocker. In XP, it was possible to encrypt folders. Unfortunately, this was fairly easy to override. In Vista, bitlocker will encrypt the entire hard drive. Without a password, the drive appears empty to any operating system. I suppose it’s just a matter of time before this encryption is broken–just like any encryption–but by that time we’ll have bitlocker version 2.0.
  • Search. It’s possible to search for files on your local computer, including email, etc. with the enhanced search. It will be much faster than using the current Windows search. If you’ve loaded LookOut for Outlook 2003 (and if you haven’t, you should go to the Microsoft site, search for it, and load it), you can imagine what this is like.
  • Security. Most analysts are saying that security is better.

I’m loading Vista RC 1 on a new machine this weekend. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Microsoft Zune…

Your teenager will be interested in Zune, the newest MP3 player from Microsoft, but should you?
I had lunch with a friend on Tuesday. He’s into music, and is looking forward to getting an MP3 player for all his 50s and 60s music. But what about business applications?
I’ll leave that question hanging for a few more weeks, but you can bet the answer has to do with podcasting.
Zune Pricing Shows Microsoft Waging Market Share Gamble – Mobile Technology News by TechWeb

No Visual Studio on Vista…at least at first…

As of the last time I looked, there wasn’t an official list of “compatible with Vista” software. Vista is the soon-to-be-released version of Microsoft’s Windows Operating System, and will eventually replace Windows XP.
And as I expected, the list of the software that won’t run on Vista has already begun to trickle out…and the first entry into the fray is…Microsoft’s premier software development tool…Visual Studio.
You’ll have to read the article for the full announcement, including the release of a BETA SERVICE PACK for Visual Studio (I don’t think I’ve ever seen that one before…a BETA service pack!). Here’s Microsoft’s quote:

“This was a tough decision for us internally, whether to hold the service pack to get all of the [Vista] fixes or get it out there sooner,” said Jay Roxe, group product manager for Visual Studio at Microsoft. “The feedback from customers was that they want it sooner.”

This is always the dilemma. All software has bugs. If we kept testing until all the bugs were gone, we’d never release the software.
I just hope Microsoft has enough of the bugs worked out.
ChannelWeb Web Services Weekly

Should Your Business Have A Blog?

First, I should say that the link below is to Dan Bricklin’s article about Small Business Blogging. If for no other reason than that Dan is the inventor of the program Visicalc (the first electronic spreadsheet, and great-great grandaddy of the current generation of spreadsheets like Microsoft’s Excel), you should spend a second on his website.
Anyway…back to the subject…I’ve been blogging for a while but never really recommended the practice to many clients. That wasn’t because I didn’t think they could get some benefit from it…there are a lot of benefits…it’s mostly because clients in general don’t have time to get information together for their main web sites, let alone a blog. So what’s the deal?
Since you’re reading this, I assume you have some idea of what a blog is. To quote Brickland, “A reverse-chronological list of postings, with a managed archive,” is a blog. To put that in English: A blog is two things (a) a list of short (or not so short) things you write, with the most recent one first, and (b) to keep the list from getting intolerably long, some filing system to handle old items.
The items on a blog are called posts. I don’t know why. You probably don’t want to know anyway.
So why in the world would anyone do a blog? Several reasons:

  • To have an easy way to update a web page. Most blogging software is web-based, and all posting takes is a few seconds plus the time to type the entry
  • To continually change their web site, which results in better search engine coverage. Pages that are updated frequently are given better standing in most search engines like Google and Yahoo.
  • To talk to their clients or customers or allow employees to talk to clients or customers in a real voice, unhendered by the normal censoring process
  • To talk to themselves. Just joking. I hope they have something worth saying
  • To communicate news.
  • To receive feedback from clients and customers. Since most blogging software includes the ability for customers and clients to respond (post comments), the blog can be a good way to have dialog.

I’m sure there are more reasons to blog. One of them is…it’s fun.
More later. Please comment if you have thoughts.
Small Business Blogging

Tempting…but Deadly

You’ve probably gotten the emails: “Contact 3,000,000 potential customers for only pennies per reach…”
It’s generally called SPAM. Some people get enough of it to fill a bucket. Because my email account is set up to receive any email sent to our domain for an email address that doesn’t exist, I get tons of it in my mailbox. Some of this has names or addresses on it. Much of it I recognize from my wife’s emailbox at home. I get emails with one employee’s name on them that hasn’t been at Data Guidance Group for 5 years. Another employee must have browsed a lot of sites that marketed products for enlarging certain body parts…most of the email I get for him offers such products.
But I supose it’s tempting. With a first-class letter costing $0.39 to mail, the idea that you can reach a prospect for a few cents (or fractions of a cent) per piece is attractive. As I look through my SPAM blocker (which allows me to look at email that the software thinks is SPAM in order to decide whether it really is), I see a certain number of emails that look legitimate. I see others for products that I wouldn’t think about buying from an unsolicited email (lose weight, get taller, grow more hair, increase the size of various body parts, buy vicodin, buy viagra, etc.)
SPAM has become a problem. Most businesses that use email eventually wind up blocking SPAM. It’s a tradeoff. When the quantity of SPAM in email gets so large that it is hard to delete SPAM without deleting genuine email, it’s time to get some type of SPAM detection and elimination software.
If you’re thinking about using SPAM to promote your business…don’t! You’ll earn a bad reputation quick as a wink. Sending email can be a great business tool. But be sure you send it to people who want it.

Just In Time For Christmas

Apple has upgraded iTunes and announced (sort of) the iTV box (internal code name, not the product name). iTV, according to media reports, will be a 6 x 6 x 1 inch box with WiFi (wireless network) that connects to the television. The idea is that you can download videos from iTunes (the last episode of the TV series you just missed is $1.99) and play them on the TV…or iTV. Take a look at the press release on iTunes 7.
And the iPod Nano (no hard drive, up to 8Gb of memory or 2000 songs) is newly redesigned. The silver (stainless) is really cool…I just bought one.
And Microsoft has announced the Zune, a sweet little mp3 player with a few features that the iPod doesn’t have…like WiFi built into the player. You can download without connecting it to a PC. Some of the analysts are claiming that it’s 2 years late…since the Apple iPod has about 75% of the market. But for us Gizmodicts…the $299 price tag (estimated) may not be a barrier. It may be an “I’ll buy it…I’ll try it…if I like it, I might use it…purchase.”
Meanwhile, I’m sure the teenagers in your life will be really interested in your Christmas budget. Take a look…
Apple Announces iTunes 7 with Amazing New Features

Is HP Desperate or Just Paranoid?

Telephone records obtained by “pretexting”? HP Board members involved? Journalists? Posing as the person whose call phone records you want?
This stuff sounds more like something a jealous spouse would do than an international company. But HP was so worried about where the media leaks were coming from that they did this and contemplated more to discover the names of the guilty.
Although HP blames outside investigators, it’s hard to know exactly what happened when. Take a look at the article below for more information.
HP CEO to Testify to House Panel on Leak Scandal