Moving to Windows 7 while keeping one foot in the past

17 11 2009

I finally made the commitment to Windows 7 as my main OS on my tablet PC.  I’d been running it in a dual boot configuration for a while, but a few weeks ago, it was time to move on.  My Vista installation was over 2 years old and was starting to act unpredictably.

As with every fresh operating system installation, the pain of starting from scratch makes you swear to never let your machine get to its inevitable ugly state again.

Keeping that promise might be a little easier this time around though.  By using some cool virtualization technology, you can have the best of both worlds.

Easy transfer wizard

There are many discussions about how to make life a little bit easier when moving to Windows 7 by using the Microsoft Windows Easy Transfer wizard.  I discovered a few things that I didn’t know while using it and thought I should pass it along.

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When Licensing Metrics Must Change

5 11 2009

Everyone knows that technology changes quickly.  So it’s surprising (at least to me) that licensing metrics for software are so difficult to change.  Purchasing contracts, license agreements, and license enforcement tend to lag technical milestones.  Sometimes this is a good thing – for instance, everyone waited out the predicted move to 64-bit servers during the development of the Itanium processor.  At other times, licensing metrics are not compatible with IT practices that develop due to technology – you license per-Ethernet port and they buy per-device.

Consumer packaged goods don’t usually have to keep pace with technical changes.  Cars are licensed per unit, not per cylinder, seat, or window.  In many ways software is licensed “per cylinder” which makes it susceptible to fundamental changes.  Think of the impact hybrid technology or turbo chargers would have on a per-cylinder vehicle licensing model during the current green movement.

What to disrupt when you’re disrupted

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Usability and people skills are the key to catching the Wave

8 10 2009

When you open the top of a soft drink and look under the cap, chances are you’ll see a code that you can text in or type into a web site for the privilege of entering a loyalty club or contest.  Years ago, that same cap used to tell you if you were an instant winner.

Soft drink companies made a choice about usability and culture – do you have far fewer entrants, but collect more information, or do you make more people instant winners and hope it builds anonymous brand loyalty?

How many of you have texted in one of those codes on a cap using T9 entry?

That’s what I thought…

So, usability and culture are intertwined (e.g. “do I want to go through the effort of texting” and “what are they going to do with my phone number?”).  The reward has to be tremendous to get over the “activation energy” of user inertia and suspicion.

Enter Google Wave.  Technically speaking, it has got some pretty incredible components underneath it.  No, I was not one of the 100,000 preview invitations to Wave, but I do think it shares the same soft drink cap adoption conundrum.

Google is looking for passionate digital natives right now (they build a tribe, the tribe can structure a community etc.), so a long explanation (an 80 minute intro video) makes sense.  But, if Wave requires a culture change or a large shift in user habits, there is a long road ahead for it.  Ray Ozzie has some great insight into this conundrum.  He should know a thing or two about collaboration as the founding father of Lotus Notes and Groove.  I like that guy.

In New York City, there are 2,375 mentions of “Facebook” every minute

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Windows Home Server and the 12 hour undelete

6 10 2009

A thoroughly scary and disappointing thing happened to me this weekend that made me reevaluate my cavalier way of doing IT work at home (you know, where the data is actually important).

I admit I was over-confident about certain things.  Heck, the thing we were doing worked before, so why shouldn’t it work again?

Here are some of the lessons and quirks that I uncovered:

You’ve got 720 minutes

Windows Home Server (WHS) does some really great things.  It mirrors your files so that in case of most hardware failures, your content is safe.  It backs up your other computers so that you’ve got peace of mind when your computers start making funny noises… but what’s backing up your WHS box (I would link in JungleDisk here, but they just pulled their WHS backup beta until further notice)? 

What if you make a mistake (or something else does), and you lose some files?

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Web sites vs. beer – guess who wins?

24 09 2009

It’s time for an update.  Vacations and a flurry of event activity has gobbled up most of my time recently.  And that’s a good thing!  Further pricing discussion will wait another few days while I write about the launch of a new idea that’s been hatching over the past few months.

SAP for Utilities 2009

This is a top-notch event.  This year I was lucky enough to be involved in the mechanics of a new extension of the event itself – a new, utility-centric collaboration and social networking community.  The event’s theme was “Collaboration Fuels Innovation”.  More specifically – cross-company collaboration. Nobody has to reinvent the wheel or solve the same problem twice if they work on common problems.

The event itself draws a very high level audience.  At the event itself, CxO’s, chief architects, and anyone involved in creating the next generation (pun intended) utility company all rub shoulders and share stories.

Utility companies (generation, transmission and distribution, retailers, and operators of all types) show up to talk about their plans for working with new demands in the marketplace as well as any new governmental mandates.

Our objective was to keep those conversations going beyond the event.  So, we created the UtilityCollaboration community.  The idea was first envisioned by the event organizer, Eventure Events.  I just helped figure out how to do it with them.

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Pricing topics round up

26 08 2009

It’s time to look back at the ground we’ve covered in order to establish the road ahead.  In a series of strategy posts, I talked about the fact that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.  I also said it was important to have a sense of purpose and continue to review the goals that you started with in order to see if they’ve changed.

Let’s review what has been covered so that readers can easily catch up with anything they’ve missed and also to plot the next post.

Human behavior

It’s only natural to look for the best deal.  That’s exactly what happens when you get down to brass tacks with any business negotiation.  Humans treat everything with lots of variables as a game.  We like to play with graphic equalizers because we think we can make our music sound better when we have a greater degree of control over the gain of each frequency band.

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Pricing metrics and the customers that suboptimize them

6 08 2009

There are many truths in life.  If it didn’t sound so geeky and pessimistic, I would add to the list “customers will always suboptimize your product based on your metrics.”  It’s not very catchy.

I previously wrote about points to consider when choosing your metrics.  It was by no means exhaustive, but it did have a “salesy focus”.  That’s because your sales people play a vital role in your pricing and licensing scheme both before it is rolled out and when their boots hit the ground (and I saved one harsh reality for the end of this post).

Additionally, I brought up a few “rules” (or at least observations I’ve discovered) about choosing your metrics.  I could have added suboptimization to the list, but I’ve found there are some finer points to consider about this psychological pattern when it comes to your software’s sales, adoption, deployment, and expansion.

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