End of a decade

31 12 2009

I was going to write a post about what I have achieved this year, and to be honest there has been a heap. But, it occurred to me whilst I was writing the post that it was also the end of a decade, a pretty big one for me as it goes.

Now I was going to use interpretive dance to go over the major milestones of the past 10 years, but the video camera is broken, so here it is in a smart mosaic format (I won’t rule out doing the dance on special occasions though)  🙂

1. Australia

I came to Australia, just over ten years ago on holiday, but only really decided to stay in the year 2000 after being made an offer by my boss at Admiral (-> CMGAdmiral –> LogicaCMG –> Logica) to stay on as a consultant. It was a huge decision to make, to leave my friends and family and to start afresh. Luckily I had already made a stack of friends in Australia and caught up with a mate from the UK who also lived in Melbourne. On reflection it was the best decision I made 🙂

2. Rachel

In 2001 I met Rachel, since then we have never really been apart. We have been through a heap together, building a house, starting a family and bringing up two fantastic children. She is my best friend and I love every moment we are together.

3. Abbie

In March 2006, my daughter Abbie came into the world and changed everything. She is awesome. Perfect in every way. I am loving watching her grow up, explore the world around her and learn. I love her inquisitive mind, her pure logic and banter.

4. Jack

In March 2007, little Jack joined his sister in the world. Whilst Jack had a pretty full on couple of months when he first arrived, he has gone from strength to strength ever since. I sometimes forget he is only 2 and 3/4 years old, he has such a developed vocabulary and self awareness. Every week he totally flaws me with what he says, not the words, but also the context

5. Family

Even though I live in Australia, I am in full contact with my family in the UK thanks to Skype and cheap telephone calls. I have been really lucky that Rachel’s family have taken me under their wing and treat me like a son. Unfortunately since being out in Australia a few people have passed on and I was unable to attend their funerals, Grandad Bob, Nan and my cousin Janet.

6. Work

Work has been an interesting one. In the last ten years I have done a number of things including:

  • Sheep Rousing – Working on a sheep farm outside of Geelong
  • Road Crack Counter – Long long story
  • Developer
  • Business Analyst
  • Project Manager

At the moment I have switched back into a consultancy role, specialising in Microsoft Enterprise Project Management (EPM) solutions. It may sound strange, but it’s the ideal mix between my love of all things techy and Project Management (which I am actually quite good if I do say so myself).

7. Nerdy

There have been a number of nerdy milestones in the past ten years. For what started out with me minus any gadgets whatsoever whilst backpacking, has seen me morph into a gadget collecting superfreak. Of course during this period I have had many different computers and run a stack of different software which I am not going to list as it would be way to sad.

8. Permanent Residency

For some damn fool reason, Australia decided that I could stay in the country. Glad they did really as it would have been awful to be paying off a house I couldn’t live in. Up until getting my PR there was a very real possibility that I could have been sent back to the UK, giving up everything I had made in Australia. This was very much the case until 2006, when it was finally granted 🙂

9. Geelong

When I first got to Australia I worked on a sheep farm outside of Geelong, hence when it came to picking a team, they were my first choice. When I was in the UK, sport never really bothered me, but it’s part of the Australian psyche, and if your in Melbourne, you might as well be a leper if you can’t hold your own in talking footy.  Since 2000, I have watched them lose and then win, finishing up with three grand final appearances in the past three years and two wins, the final being an epic battle against my wife’ family team of St Kilda. Way to go Cats!

So there you go, my reflection on the past decade. At the beginning of the decade, when I was seeing the new year in with some backpacking buddies at Wineglass Bay in Tasmania, I had no idea that I would still be in Australia ten years later and all the things mentioned above would have happened. It will be interesting to see in another ten years what transpires 🙂

And on that note, Happy New Year, 2010 is going to rock 🙂

Advertisements




Do you Poken?

19 09 2009

 ... Poken” and you’ll be

Last week at TechEd there were a few people going around with some strange monsters with massive hands attached to their passes. On further investigation I found out these were called Poken and probably one of the coolest things I have seen in a long while.

So what is a Poken? Well it’s an RFID device with a USB interface that when you touch another Poken or ‘High four’ there is an exchange of RFID Id’s.

Now why is that cool? Well when you insert your Poken into a computer USB slot, you are taken to a website where you can configure your contact details and more importantly, your social networking details. So when you High Four someone else, you automatically exchange contact details, but also add them to whatever social network sites you have configured. Tres cool.

Now I just have to hope more people get on the Poken craze so I can use mine a bit more! In the future it would be great for conference organisers to consider giving out something like this as part of the freebies, so you can exchange contact details with fellow delegates instead of it being exhibitors grabbing delegates details.





Yes it’s true, I’m certifiable

14 09 2009

image Recently I started a new role at OBS joining the EPM team in Melbourne which I am incredibly excited about. In order to ensure I become a productive member of the team as soon as possible, I set myself a goal of completing all my remaining MS EPM certification whilst at TechEd.

Well, I am pleased to announce that after successfully completing my 70-633 and 70-634 exams last week, and along with the 70-632 exam I passed last month, I am now a Microsoft Certified IT Professional in Enterprise Project Management with Microsoft Office Project Server 2007.





Tech-Ed 2009 thoughts….

14 09 2009

image

Last week I was lucky enough to attend Tech-Ed on the gold coast. This was my first Tech-Ed after wanting to go for a number of years but not having a job that easily allowed it. This year I decided to fund the trip myself so I could go and to 
sum it up in one word – AWESOME!

Here is my round up of the event, including some thoughts on things I would like to see in the future…

Session choice – There was a raft of sessions to choose from across a number of tracks. I picked a number of sessions and in many cases had three or four options to choose from for each timeslot. From my perspective there were a couple of standout sessions including Reed Shaffners Office 2010 overview, Project Gemini and Will, Lee Hickin and Elaine’s BPOS presentation.

Networking – I really underestimated the networking opportunities at Tech-ed. As usual it was great to catch up with the usual ex SDM Crew and other Melbourne based SharePoint people, but it was also good to catch up with other SharePoint and Project Server people from both Microsoft and other partners.  On the way home I was giving a bit more thought to the networking aspect, next year it would be good to formalise some of the networking aspects other than just the expo hall and adhoc sessions in the local bar. I personally would love to see a Microsoft competency or technology based breakfasts / meetings / dinners similar to what happens at the partner conference for the various groups of partners or people with relevant technology skills could meet up and build their network.

Social networking – Twitter was huge with an absolute stack of posts and information being distributed via the #auteched hashtag. It was funny to go to sessions and see everyone sitting there on their netbooks with Tweetdeck running away :)  I read Jeremy Thake’s post about improving the social aspects and having some kind of twitter integration into the session planning tool would be great. Building on this I would love to see users twitter names on their delegate badges as well as many of us are known by our twitter alta egos.

Facilities – The facilities at the Gold Coast Exhibition Centre were excellent. The quality of the catering absolutely blew me away.

Network – There was a heap of posts about getting the GCECC network up to scratch for the Tech-Ed. The Microsoft team did a fantastic job in getting the network up and running and maintaining the speed. There were a few idiots who thought it would be good to start up bittorrent, with one wally sitting next to me in a session surfing The Pirate BayTechEd 224

Netbooks – The netbooks were fantastic. Microsoft pulled off a blinder with the netbooks that will be the envy of other conferences the world over.  Seeing delegates that haven’t used Windows 7 get blown away by it’s speed and functionality on the netbook was really cool to see and no doubt served to build on the already fantastic reputation of  the software.  My only gripe around this was the TechEd websites, it would have been great to have optimised the sites to work on the smaller screens of the netbooks as this was the main mechanism for access.

Session level – On reflection of the content, I felt that the level of the sessions was more aimed at customers and didn’t really hit the target for the more cutting edge partners. I brought this up with a couple of my colleagues who agreed that a more partner focussed technical track would be good.

Certifications – I had the opportunity to take two exams whilst I was at Tech-Ed at a vastly reduced rate. The process for signing up was incredibly simple and the prometric exam centre well set up and staffed. As for the exams, more on that in a later post.

Hands on Labs – I stumbled across the HOL area late in the piece and had a pretty limited experience. However what I saw and tried out was easy to use and well implemented. I loved the fact that at the end of the lab you could email the lab notes to yourself to try again later. Whilst valuable, it is limited as you don’t have access to the the underlying VM. On the friday afternoon I was hoping to kill some spare time doing some labs, but they had shut, it would have been great to extend the opening times until the end of the Friday. Finally I would love for MS to allow the other HOLs that I hadn’t specifically tried to be available for use / download after tech-ed.

image Free BPOS account – The free BPOS account was a stroke of genius.  I loved trying out the functionality and trying out the full functionality of Office 2010 including Communicator and using it to connect to my peers and people I met during the conference. The only downside to the whole BPOS experience was the need to register and have it configured at the BPOS stand in the expo hall which meant some attendees had to wait a while before it was set up. Next time it would be good if the default password was included on your attendee credentials and the user prompted to change them again.

All in all, I loved the whole experience and can’t wait to go again next year and learn about the next wave of technologies coming through and catch up with my peers! If you get the chance to go, do!





Windows 7 – two weeks on

30 01 2009

I have been running Windows 7 for a couple of weeks now and thought it was time to share my thoughts on it (besides at the time of writing, Telstra have stuffed up my ADSL Churn so I have no internet. Update : all back up and running now).

As you would no doubt of already seen on the internet, the stability and quality of the build is rock solid. I haven’t really run into many show stopping bugs with day to day use of the operating system, but what I am finding as I explore more and more are the little things that make Win 7 stand out.  So in the style of Tim Sneaths post, here are some things I love!

1. Progress is displayed in the taskbar

When you do a file operation that results in a progress bar dialog being displayed, the item in the taskbar will also show the progress (see the copy below)

image

2. The Common Dialogs now have Search

Not sure if this was there in Vista, but the Common Save As dialog now has search in it. Damn it’s useful!

image

3. Improved Search Experience

By default each Explorer windows has a Search box in the top right hand corner, just the same as Vista, but the the text in the search lets you know the scope of the search straight off the bat.

image image

Vista

Windows 7

Also, when you start to enter a search term, it will autosuggest, and give you the option to filter the search straight away.

image

Finally, the results displayed via the new Content view are pretty impressive. It shows more information, notice the thumbnail and image size and creation date.

image

4. Libraries

Instead of having to consolidate tens of folders into one folder in one location, through the concept of libraries you can have a virtual catchall that encompasses a number of directories spread out throughout the computer, both internal and externally attached drives. The GUI also looks to let network drives to be included in a library but I haven’t managed to get that to work yet. 

image

In the library you can set one of the included folders as the default directory, so if you are downloading files to the Documents library, they will always be stored in your nominated directory within the library. Pretty neat. 

5. Problem Steps Recorder

This isn’t something you would use everyday and certainly most home users would never encounter it. However, I work in the software industry and have been involved in many projects where users have been testing software and gone through nightmares documenting issues they found in the software. Enter the Problem Steps Recorder, the answer to my (and most IT companies) dreams.

image

What the PSR lets you do is record all the actions you take on the screen, each time you do something it takes a screenshot and highlights what you did. You can also choose to annotate each step manually. The output is a HTML archive that contains all the screenshots and steps you took which can be passed on to the IT dept, or development team with the most detailed steps to reproduce ever seen!  Awsome!

6. Gadgets

Well it wouldn’t be a post from me without something on gadgets. Vista introduced the concept of gadgets, they could exist in two places, either docked in the sidebar, or undocked on the desktop. Windows 7 removes the need to dock them in the sidebar, you can have them wherever you want. Each gadget now has an option next to it allowing you to choose between the docked (smaller) and undocked (larger) version of the gadget.

Weather Gadget Forecasted image

Microsoft have updated a couple of the gadgets and introduced another new one around the Media Centre. I have to admit, the Media Centre one is good, but it’s too big and obtrusive for me.  The weather gadget changes have impressed me, it now uses Windows 7’s location functionality when you configure it to make an educated guess on where you are. If you lose your net connection (as I am experiencing now), it will still show the weather as per when it last downloaded, including a xx hours ago notification in red. Finally, if there is still no connection, it will show the forecasted weather instead of the real up to date info. Nice!

6. Reliability Monitor

Another concept that Vista introduced was the Reliability Monitor. This gave you an indication of how reliable your system was behaving. When you first installed your machine, it would start at 10, and then as an error occurred, either in the OS itself, or an application or driver didn’t behave itself, it would decrease. 

With Win 7, the reliability monitor has been given a face lift and now has a much more polished way of showing the issues affecting the machine and provides a mechanism for looking up those issues within the GUI. 

image

On the whole my machine has been behaving pretty well and I reckon the reliability monitor is being a little harsh (as per the above screenshot). As you can see, there are no real Windows failures, but heaps and heaps of Application failures which are mainly cases of the Windows Installer bug and Internet Explorer crapping out. I really hope IE 8 gets better with RC1, because the version in the Beta is letting the side down at the moment.





Windows 7 : First impressions

11 01 2009

On Thursday night I took the plunge and installed Windows 7 Beta 1 onto my ‘production’ PC at home. Gutsy move I know, but in my previous experience with operating system beta’s (95, 98, 98 SE, ME, XP and Vista) you need to use it in anger to find the real issues.

The install was painless and only needed a small amount of interaction from me, which was great because I got to watch Iron Man that Father Christmas got me for Christmas ;). Once it was installed my first impression was WOW. Not because I am a Microsoft fanboy (I am), but because it was quick and responsive. For what is supposed to be Beta 1, it is behaving like Beta 2 or something that is way further along in the development cycle.

There are some things that immediately caught my eye:

  • Libraries – Instead of Documents / Photo’s / Videos etc, there is now a concept of libraries, which are virtual containers of folders. They appear to be very much what WinFS was supposed to be.  It was a relatively painless experience adding a new folder to a library, and I even managed to create a couple of new libraries in a matter of seconds.
  • Superbar – This took a bit of getting used to, instead of a taskbar you now have a pseudo taskbar that shows what is running, launch programs and show the status of things like file copies. It’s a bit hard to describe and I am sure a quick Google will find much better descriptions than mine.
  • Sidebar – The sidebar has gone but there are still gadgets thankfully for us gadget developers 🙂 With no sidebar to dock the gadgets in, there are some subtle changes to how they work which I will post about later.
  • Aero Peek – When you choose a program that is running from the superbar, all other windows will change to a transparent glass frame and only the program you selected will be rendered. This is great for finding a program when you have lots of windows open.

From a beta testing perspective, Windows 7 Beta 1 is a bad build, the quality bar is so high it makes it damn hard to find bug which is why we are testing it. It does on the other hand make it a joy to use, and I am certainly looking forward to diving into the depths of what it has to offer.





Microsoft Tag

8 01 2009

Coooooooooollllll.

image

More info over at IstartedSomething.com.