Windows 7 And The SMB

September 3, 2010

I have been going through the process of upgrading the PC Workstations of our Software Development, Multimedia, and Program Development teams.

As these teams do fairly compute intensive tasks we chose to replace the old machines with new 64 bit engineering class workstations, with Microsoft Windows 7 pre-installed.

Overall, 64 bit Windows 7 has impressed us, with a few little caveats.Windows 7

Manipulating large graphics and other types of rich media is significantly faster. By faster I mean seconds, rather than minutes. That has been the major benefit – worth the price of admission right there.

I had minimal issues with some older software we use such as Microsoft Office 2003, and Visual Studio, but found that versions of Adobe Acrobat earlier than version 9 are not compatible. So we were forced to upgrade a few version 7 and 8 licenses.

An upgrade of my backup software is also being required.

My largest frustration is that we have many remote workers accessing our network via a Cisco Systems VPN (Virtual Private Network) device, and for that, a small piece of software has to be installed on each machine.

The older 32 bit versions of that client  software had a feature that we relied on very heavily, which was the ability for the remote client computer to log in directly to our Microsoft Windows Domain. This allowed login scripts to provide access to resources, automatic user authentication to our Microsoft Exchange Server etc.

The 64 bit version of the VPN client has lost this functionality (at least as of this writing) which forces extra training for remote users on how to manually access resources, and training on how to properly authenticate (the name and password) for resources such as e-mail.

If you are a smaller business using some ancient piece of home built software built circa the mid 1990’s, you will most likely find that it will no longer work.

The SMB Takeaway

Overall, for compute intensive tasks, I believe you will find an immediate benefit to Windows 7. Testing all your older applications is a mandatory chore first.

Have you found major applications that gave you grief with Windows 7?

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We had some frustrating issues getting fonts that install with some Adobe products working in the 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows. Both Windows XP and Windows 7 ( I assume Vista would be the same)

It took too much time finding the resolution – so this post is a little lower ‘techie’ level than what I normally write, but maybe it will save someone else some hassle

Problem

When installing certain Adobe products such as inDesign or Photoshop, the Adobe fonts that ship with these packages are not visible within the Adobe applications.

Details

This issue seems to ocurr with Adobe applications using older Adobe Type 1 fonts. Adobe Type 1 fonts consist of two separate files, the font_name.PFB file and font_name.PFM. Installing the fonts into the Windows Fonts folder will allow the font to work with Microsoft Windows products such as MS Word or PowerPoint, but will not be visible to Adobe Products.

NOTE: Installing the fonts into the Windows Fonts will generate error messages for each PFB file – these can be ignored.

Resolution

To have you fonts visible in your Adobe applications, manually copy both the font.PFM and font.PFB files into the \Program Files(x86)\Common Files\Adobe\Fonts directory (folder) on the drive where Microsoft Windows is installed (usually the C:\ Drive)

Note, both files must be copied into the directory, and there are both a Program Files directory and Program Files(x86) directory in 64 bit Windows. The (x86) one is the correct one to use.

Book Review: ReWork

August 5, 2010

I recently read ReWork by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson of 37Signals.ReWork

(published by Crown Books ISBN 9781407062853)

Let me say it; A must read for every entrepreneur and SME business manager! I say that because to effectively cover this book – I would have to rewrite it all here word for word!

Rather than being written as a lecture or treatise, each chapter is a loose federation of points, with each point dedicated to one thought, and each thought is a only a couple of pages.

Some of these lessons you have heard before, for example, on Competitors; Who cares what they are doing?

But under Promotion; Out teach your competition is one example of brilliance. Or on Progress; Throw less at the problem

You may not agree with every point. But if you have to defend your argument – you win both ways.

Over my vacation a week or so ago, I read Behind The Cloud The untold story of salesforce.com by Marc Benioff & Carlye Adler.Behind the Cloud - salesforce.com

(published by Josey-Bass –  ISBN978-0-470-52116-8)

It was an interesting read following at a high level how Mr. Benioff and team formed Salesforce.com, got it started, and how it exploded into the poster child for Software as a Service (Saas) or a piece of what we call ‘cloud computing’.

Each chapter describes the issues, decisions and actions that were taken along their road to growth. Call it a road map of what worked for them.

There are two really key points in the text that we all should be thinking about.

First, in selling the product, Salesforce.com did not sell the features 0f what their product could do, they  evangelized the concept of Saas, selling the experience & advantage,  not the product. In fact in their book The Power Of  Pull, Hagell, Seely Brown & Davisson state that 80% of Marc Benioff’s communication was educating – not selling the product.

There was also a huge second  recurring theme threaded throughout the text;

People People People

‘Nuff Said

I talked with a chap that related the following story;

A B2B manufacturer wanted to provide some channel information to its independent retailers.I did not pry into the details, but I believe they wanted to introduce new products or product lines.

To do this, the vendor set up a Web Conference. Simply put, web conferencing allows you to stream audio and video meeting materials live over the Internet, these tools also allow conference listeners to type questions into the conferencing software  or provide input to the people that are hosting the conference.

All in all – web conferencing is a pretty decent way to disseminate information without incurring huge travel costs.

But can you see the problem here?

These independent retailers are this vendors customers. How do you think they felt about this web conference?

A guess?

I was told they were furious.

They were furious because that vendor did not think about them as customers. They were furious the vendor had such a poor knowledge of its own market.

The reason for their anger?

Like many smaller business, these customer retailers have varying levels of technology literacy.

And?

Some of these customers still hand wrote receipts on carbon paper forms!

Some had PC’s, but no Internet connection.

In essence this organizations customers had a well deserved feeling of being left out.

As I mentioned above – I have no issue with web conferencing, but I do have an issue with hanging a bunch of your customers out to dry because you never bothered to understand them.

How could they have done this differently?

How about before the event communications offering a recording of the event on DVD (or even VHS! since if carbon paper is still in use..)

The SMB Takeaway

Technology is a tool. Only one tool. In marketing, or service consider which tool or tools is best for your market.

Many will have noticed that on June 10th, if you visited google.com, you found the sparse, white, typical Google web page was gone.

The Google search box was surrounded by one of many large, colourful images.

The ability to change the image was there too. To customize it the way you want.

Many complained – but guess what – many did not complain – (most in my office loved it …)

A few hours later this background disappeared, Google says it was a bug – much of the press said that they backed off due to pressure.

Personally I think it was a great experiment

What is the distinction between your computer desktop and the web?

Look at your computer – you are staring at a screen – you probably have set yourself a desktop picture too – you have a couple of icons for email and some other tools you use.

Google demonstrated yesterday that you can but your favorite desktop image on google.

The only thing missing?

A few icons for email and other tools?

Perhaps the ability to add your most frequently used Google Apps icons to Google as well?

It is not that far out if you think about it.

Tell you what – I am going to build you a new house!

Now, we are all human, when I say that phrase I am confident that one of the following visions crossed your mind;

a) You saw your current place, the one you have,  it is already perfect – just the way it is now.

b) the dream house you would love to have, that perfect idea of the future

c) or possibly, that worst one you ever had – the place you don’t want to go back to.

With no further information than;  I am going to build you a new house! we fill in our own desires, we fill in our own perceptions and expectations.

Now the twist

I am not going to tell you where this house is, I am not going to tell you what it will look like, and I most definitely will not tell you what it will cost you!

(But I promise to let you see it when I finish!)

Does that sound just a little strange to you?

Unless this is a charity such as Habitat for Humanity, I don’t think most of us would be to keen on that idea.

Think about it!

No idea what the end result will be.

No idea what it will cost you.

And no idea if it even meets your needs!

Yet in business IT we do this all the time!

Michael Krigsman writing at ZDNet has this article titled; IT failure and collaboration: Ten big symptoms
Now look at this quote;

More simply, many projects fail because participants and stakeholders are not on the same page regarding shared goals and expectations.

Now Mr. Krigsman writes for the larger enterprise, but let me tell you bluntly, in the small to mid-market business we are often worse at building our IT houses than larger enterprises.

Most larger enterprises do have methodologies, processes and various governance procedures that try to remove this mismatch in communications and expectations.

And I fully grant that these methodologies may be broken, they may need improvements, and they may need better execution, but they exist.

In the SME, we often do not even have the basics. These methodologies and processes and governance structures don’t exist.In fact in many small to mid-market businesses, there is not even a formalized project management structure.

An Example

I spoke to the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of a SME who was implementing a particular enterprise software package (ERP)

That was it!

No questions or answers on whether this IT house was a 6 bedroom McMansion, when all they needed was a 3 bedroom bungalow

No questions or answers on whether this IT house was rural, urban or inner city.

You get the idea.

From this point forward, the IT leadership will be carrying the ball to implement something that I will bet you a paycheck that no one will be happy with.

I say no one, because each officer in that company is going to have an their own internal perception and expectations;

a) that this is going to work for them, their way, (their dream house) or

b) that it won’t work at all – my house is fine the way it is (yes expectations can be negative)

When there is no discussion on the requirements and expectations, the only data that we as humans can mentally process is what fits our experience and knowledge.

If you have not set the requirements and expectations, and set those expectations clearly – any technology investment is little better than a crap shoot.

Because with no further frame of reference, we all will fill in the blanks with our own perceptions, with our own expectations.

Just like my house example, if 100 people see this post, there will probably be close to 100 different internal perceptions and expectations on what that house would be.

So what do you think my odds of meeting those 100 different expectations?

Your IT won’t be any different.

Oh yes, here is your house – did it match your expectations?

Manage Expectations

Photo Credit Aaron Landry via flickr