Monthly Archives: May 2012

Technology

Useful Links: May 2012

A list of items I’ve come across recently that I found potentially useful, interesting, or just plain funny:

Photography

DSLR sensor cleaning hints and tips

I started to write this post back in September 2010 but it’s been sitting in my drafts folder since then, waiting for me to check my facts.  Even so, as I found myself taking up more of my friend Andy Gailer’s time than I suspect either he or I would have liked (as he helped me to clean the sensor on my DSLR a couple of nights ago), I knew it was time for me to finally put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and finish this off…

It’s a fact of life that, the more often a lens is changed on an SLR camera, the more likely it is that some dirt or dust will find its way into the chamber. Back in the days of film it was easy – grit would scratch your negatives, but a few specks of dust were rarely a problem (indeed, the action of winding on the film moved the dust/dirt away from the active area). Ask anyone with a DSLR though, and they will almost certainly regail stories of frustration as they try to remove dust spots from their sensor (or at least the low-pass filter immediately in front of the sensor).

This post has a few hints and tips that might help you if you have ugly spots appearing on your images. I also recommend reading Thom Hogan’s excellent article on cleaning sensors.

Dust off reference image

I use a Nikon DSLR and it includes a feature called teh dust off reference image. The idea behind this is that, by taking an image that shows the dust spots, this can be compared with others and changes made automatically. It’s a nice idea, but it requires the use of Nikon’s Capture NX software. I don’t use Capture NX (I use Adobe Lightroom), so this feature doesn’t help much… I’m not sure what Canon (and other manufacturers) do, but probably something to be aware of if you have a Nikon DSLR.

In camera sensor cleaning

My Nikon D700 has the ability to clean its own sensor at startup/shutdown but I’m not sure how effective this is.  Even so, it’s probably worth leaving the option enabled – it won’t do any harm.

Arctic Butterfly

One tool in my friend Andy’s arsenal is his Arctic Butterfly. Basically a selection of brushes with a motor to spin off any dust, this kit allows skilled operators (i.e. not me!) to lift away dust by breaking the static bond that is attaching it to the sensor. You’ll need to lock up the mirror (the camera will usually have an option to do this in its firmware) in order to access the sensor.

It’s a useful tool and on at least two occasions now Andy has helped me to clean away most of the dust (there’s always some left behind). The downside is that the Arctic Butterfly is quite an expensive piece of kit.

Rocket blower

I spent at least half a day working through a multitude of boxes, drawers and even some more unlikely places hunting high and low for my Giottos air blower but I can’t find it anywhere.  If it doesn’t turn up soon, I’ll almost certainly replace it as it’s an excellent investment for blowing loose particles away.  The trick is to hold the body with the lens mount facing down, then blow upwards (so that any dirt falls away from the camera and towards the ground). If you’re lucky, this is all you need to do to clear away the dust, but never use compressed air blowers (the propellant can sometimes get squirted onto the sensor) and, certainly never be tempted to blow with your mouth! I found, to my cost, that even a dry mouth will result in saliva on the sensor… which leads me onto the next tip…

Sensor swabs

Sensor swabs can be used for removing stubborn stains (like saliva… or grease).  Available in specific sizes to suit full frame 35mm or APS-C sized sensors, I have used the Photographic Solutions Sensor Swabs Pro product previously, but my swabs seem to have gone AWOL with my rocket blower…

As it happens, Andy had some swabs from Visible Dust that probably did a better job – the main difference was that they needed to be  moistened with a special fluid instead of being pre-moistened and sealed in a foil packet.

Checking for the presence of dirt on the sensor

Regardless of the technique(s) used to clean the sensor, it’s necessary to check for the continued presence of dust/dirt on the sensor.  Some spots will be too small to view with the naked eye but, thankfully, it’s relatively straightforward to take a photograph that will show any problems.

  1. Take a picture of a plain object (e.g. a sheet of paper) from about 10cm away in good light. Make sure that you use the following settings:
    • A narrow aperture (e.g. f22) for maximum depth of field.
    • Zoom in as far as possible.
    • Focus to infinity (you may need to do this manually).
    • Some people suggest setting the exposure to +2.0EV but I tend not to do this as the dirt will still be visible on a grey image and over-exposing may blow out the image leaving no dust spots visible.
  2. View the image at 1:1 scale in your favourite image editing software. It may take a while to view the whole image (with several scans across and up/down) but it should be possible to see if there are any remaining dust spots. If the largest ones have gone and there are only a few left (especially at the edges), it may be advisable to cut your losses and leave them there…

Disclaimer: I feel the need, in today’s increasingly litigious society, to point out that this information has been given in good faith but that I can’t be held responsible for any damage to equipment as a result of following the advice on this website.

Technology

IT consumerisation: adapting to meet the demands of an evolving workforce

I’ve written (and tweeted) quite a bit about IT consumerisation over the last year or two and tomorrow I’ll be joining a “think tank” on the Evolving Workforce as a part of Dell’s 2012 Technology Camp in London.  Being one of a panel will be a new experience for me but the only reason I’m there is because someone, somewhere has got the idea that I might have some opinions – and it’s the people who read this blog (and consume my stream of consciousness on Twitter) that have got me there… so thank you!

The discussion will work through three areas: people; productivity; and progress looking at topics such as the generational divide myth; recruiting and retaining talent; new working practices; technology choices; security; controlling costs and driving profit; and the impacts of geography and market sector on progress.

Now, this is where you come in – I do indeed have opinions on these topics but, as its the readers of this blog that have put me on the panel, I’d like to bring your views, opinions and experiences to the table:

  1. What do you think about consumerisation? Is it really a “megatrend” that threatens to turn enterprise IT on its head – or has it been blown out of all proportion?
  2. What are the challenges you’re seeing in your organisations as they grapple with the people, process and technology issues mentioned above?
  3. What should IT vendors be doing, collectively or individually, to evolve enterprise IT and to help our customers negotiate this minefield?

If you’d like to take part in the discussion join the live stream or tweet using the the #DellTechCamp and #workforce hashtags tomorrow afternoon (31 May 2012) from 14:15 BST.

Technology

Highlights from day 2 of #iStrategy London

Yesterday I posted some highlights from my time at the iStrategy digital media conference. Having written about day 1, it seems sensible to follow up with a post about day 2.

Using content to complement your brand

The morning keynote was an awe-inspiring look at the Red Bull Media House, founded in 2007, 20 years after the drink/brand organisation, to focus on creating a media business – building a structure and organisation for the commercialisation of Red Bull’s content assets.

Red Bull’s Chief Commercial Officer, Alexander Koppell, believes that brilliant content should be at the centre of every great brand. But, with content as the company’s major asset, Red Bull found that they needed to consider how to create more; to create a platform and tools; and to handle distribution. Rather than turn to agencies the Red Bull Media House was created as a 360 degree media business with content, its own production facilities, marketing communication, publishing press, music label publishing, broadcasting, platform provision, and worldwide distribution. As a result, Red Bull is the third most influential social brand globally.

Now, as YouTube has become the world’s global video pool, it has partnered with brands to move into content creation. Red Bull is one of those brands and this is just one of the results:

Koppell summed up by highlighting Red Bull’s key focus areas of:

  1. Brilliant content
  2. Multichannel execution
  3. Reach and monetisation
  4. And a new paradigm based on Google’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).

As for his advice to other organisations? Build structures, invest inside your company – if you go for third parties be aware of the risks to you as a content player – and at same time build up your asset (be that technology, events or Formula 1 racing teams!). Whatever your core product is, make sure that you can differentiate your company from its competitors!

Online video: great to watch, even better to share

The next session was a panel on video and, as is usual with this format, I found my mind wondering to other things – panel discussions just don’t engage me! I did get to a session later in the day on the topic (more in a moment) but a couple of quick points I picked up were:

  • We have always loved video but it’s now easier to distribute and consume.
  • An emotional video ad that makes you feel good about a brand is unlikely to lead to an immediate purchase – it may influence future decisions though.
  • And, as for the future of social video:
    • Expect to see more value exchanges – e.g. watch a video in preference to a micro-transaction (e.g. buying a crop in Farmville).
    • Infomercials will become common.
    • The democratisation of video creation (as the barrier to content creation is now very low) will create an explosion of channels and an amazing amount of content.
    • Brands can be content creators too and users will decide whats good or not (great stuff will bubble to the top).

The accidental social campaign: understanding the multiplier effect

As the conference moved into a series of breakout sessions, I decided to join Jonathan Wolf (@JonathanWWolf)’s workshop looking at creating the multiplier effect – taking advantage of user generated content and using it as many times as possible to maximise value.

In stark contrast to a later workshop, Jonathan took a refreshing approach to self-promotion, joking about having six slides to present about his company first, and then saying “not really” and moving straight into content. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jonathan. That, combined with some quality advice is an example of thought leadership. And it meant that I did actually read the literature about BazaarVoice rather than blanking them from that point forward (take note Wildfire and Telligent – more on Telligent in a moment…).

Jonathan outlined a couple of case studies where companies used user generated content to build loyalty and brand advocacy:

  • White Stuff‘s UHT campaign gave customers the opportunity to put their man on a charity calendar. In step 1, people contributed stories/photos and participated, but step 2 was to get people back to vote on the best stories – a second wave of the campaign (for free as heavy lifting already done). Once the finalists had been selected, White Stuff got people to come back again and vote once more (and if your partner was there you would have got all your friends to vote…). Now they have selected a winner but not told us who yet – so expect a fourth wave as they market back out to us – combined with the press opportunities as this is a charity calendar… In all, the same content has been (or will be) used four or five times so the return on investment is great!
  • Domino’s Pizza had a brand crisis in the US – so they reformulated their food and gave people insight into how things work (Amy is making your pizza, Joe is delivering your pizza) with a pizza tracker. On top of this, they encouraged customers to write reviews and the company put them on screen in New York’s Times Square. This campaign has several effects: it gives insight and solicits feedback; it is used internally as a measure of how well the company is doing; it engages employees to have pride in their work (employees don’t want their name on a bad review…); it serves as an advertisment (in Times Square); and it’s driven from the web – so the Times Square activity acts as an ad campaign in itself.

After whetting our appetite, Jonathan stopped and got us to have a go at a practical exercise. But I wanted more… the workshop was good, and well-run, but it was a lot to squeeze into a short session which ultimately led to us over-running the time-slot. Hey ho, I guess that was the brief…

Video: it’s how we see the world

In this next session, Google’s Harry Davies (@HarryDavies) gave some insight into the world of online video (and advertising… after all he does work for Google!)

He’s absolutely correct that it’s to video we turn to to understand great events (citing an example from 9/11 – watching events unfold on the TV in his boss’ office [I did that too]).

Harry’s hypothesis is that video is the closest media we have to life and that makes it “super-important”. And advertisers have long understood the magic of television and used that so that they can ride on back of great content and provokes an emotional response (for example the John Lewis Always a Woman ad) – which attempts to connect with customers on an emotional level:

Quoting from Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking fast and slow”, Harry highlighted that we make snap decisions based on emotional connections – and that’s what TV ties into. Online provides an opportunity to take the emotional journey further.

Some more snippets from Harry’s talk:

  • On average people watch 4 hours and 2 minues of  TV each day and 54 minutes of online video viewing – but half of the ads are not watched, so Google developed skippable ad format to avoid annoying users.
  • Skippable ads are  good from an advertiser perspective – getting rid of those who don’t care about your product/service and retaining those who are truly engaged (you don’t pay for those who skip).
  • So what’s next? The democratisation of video – examples include:

Of course, Harry demonstrated some YouTube functionality, like trends, charts and video statistics (look for the button next to the play count), but that was in context, and useful… so not really pitching.

Summarising the session in four points:

  1. Emotional ads work.
  2. Follow the user (where are they watching – if there is an 80/20 split between  TV and online watching – split your budget and plan accordingly).
  3. Only pay for engaged users.
  4. Develop content for the new video generation (you don’t have to stay with traditional ads – think about generating your own content – people don’t care where it came from as long as it’s good).

How to transform your marketing with social customer engagement

This session promised a lot. And delivered very little.

In short, Telligent showed us a 3 minute corporate video (with United States contact details) and then their partner (Insites Consulting) spent some time telling us about themselves… Hello? We are not here to hear your pitch!

I'll say it again: *do not pitch to me at a conference*. Use as an opportunity for *Thought Leadership*; sales will follow later #iStrategy
@markwilsonit
Mark Wilson

I very nearly walked out of the session at this point, but I stayed to listen to Insites talking about the co-creation that they did with Heineken and upcoming designers to create  the nightclub of the future (I could have just read Insites’ blog entry - and there is an expanded version of the slide deck online) but there was nothing about some of the other brands mentioned in the conference brochure (Heinz, Unilever).

I’ve used Telligent’s software (Community Manager) in the past and I hope it’s a lot better now (that was in 2003). I won’t be engaging with them though based on their performance at iStrategy. And next time I see a presentation is being delivered by a “Sales Director”, I should know better than to expect anything other than a pitch…

The iPitch

Post lunch, the conference moved in to a Dragons’ Den-esque session with six companies each given six minutes to pitch their product. It was a bit of fun – and quite interesting, although, by this point I had one eye on the clock as I needed to leave soon…

Redefining marketing success: why ROI and marketing don’t always belong in the same sentence

The first thing that this panel did was to redefine the topic to “A decade of focus on metrics (measurement, accountability and ROI) is inhibiting innovation and progress in social…”

Moderated by Thomas Brown (@thinkstuff), the panel included Georgios Kolovos (@gkolovos) Azeem Azar (@azeem), Delphine Remy-Boutang (@delphineRB), Joshua Graff (@joshgraff) and Marc Munier (@marcmunier) and there were some interesting points put forward.

Some of the key points raised in this debate included:

  • The Days of Don Draper are over – we need goals, not just eureka moments – and what better goal than ROI? Combine this with an iterative process to get closer to that goal.
  • Metrics make sense when you know what to do and you have done it before but don’t make sense for innovation. To deal with this and avoid being late to the table 90-95% of time needs to be driven by metrics (in order to be operationally efficient) but 5-10% should be around experimentation, within a framework and with the right people.
  • Scale is an issue – in a large organisation it’s not so much about new ideas but ideas that are scalable. That means that a rigorous approach to assessing innovation is needed, and process and rigour come with ROI. Marketers need to be bold enough to agree that others brought an idea to market and also to say it’s not viable for us.
  • Perhaps, consider a “return on ignorance”, which also has a cost. Eurostar spent €6n to reduce journey times but meanwhile customer feedback suggests they are less concerned about journey times and want Wi-Fi on trains. We need to listen to our customers – not so much for the I in innovation as the C in collaboration.
  • It’s not either/or (ROI or not) but striking a balance: data vs. creativity; and data vs. innovation. Data driven marketing decisions help drive innovation by better understanding consumer behaviour, segmenting customers and what they are doing, we can be  more thoughtful and creative. Data, creativity and innovation are not mutually exclusive and the greatest innovations come from a balance: work with data, innovate and then mesh with creativity.
  • Marketing needs invest ahead of curve (unlike sales, finance, customer service, etc. who can ramp up as need to based on sales, invoices, customer interaction, etc.).

Going global: how Ford Motor Company sets the tone for a global social media strategy

I had to leave early and missed the final keynote, scheduled to be delivered by Scott Monty (@ScottMonty) from Ford although I understand he was unable to travel and Alex Hultgren (@AlexHultgren) stood in for him.  Even so I’m sure it would have been a pretty interesting close to the conference as Scott’s story at Ford is an often-quoted case study on crisis management and I’m sure they have a pretty good grip on social media with lots of advice for the rest of us.  In leui of my own opinions, I’ve picked some tweets from others that were in the session

#istrategy secrets to reinventing Ford Motor Co 1 - break down silos, get common vision
@KayWesley
Kay Wesley
Universal truths in social: create strong products, create engaging content, speak like them,let people speak, & then listen #istrategy
@georgeioannou
George Ioannou
The important thing for Ford is to make the brand more human #istrategy
@thesocialbureau
the social bureau
"How to make your brand more human? Showcase the humans that work at your brand." @ of @ #istrategy
@NealSchaffer
Neal Schaffer
Ford driving massive numbers with Yahoo! activity and Facebook for 2012 Explorer. Outperformed a Superbowl ad! #istrategy
@philptaylor
Phil Taylor
#istrategy Ford gave a fiesta away in a competition on Facebook using Instagram.
@KayWesley
Kay Wesley

Wrapping up

Yesterday I said that I had mixed feelings about iStrategy and the major letdown for me was the apparent inability for certain presenters to avoid their own marketing pitches. I’m told by one of the conference organisers that guideline number 1 for speakers is “do not pitch”. I guess you can’t help some people but it’s particularly galling when “social media gurus” and marketing professionals don’t understand the difference between promoting your brand from a thought leadership perspective and turning your audience off with thinly (or not so thinly) disguised sales tactics.

On the whole though, iStrategy has let me take stock (and think a little about my own future direction) as well as to arm me with additional knowledge about the world of digital media (although it’s also true that some of that knowledge can be obtained from free events too – I’ve written on these pages about Dell’s B2B Social Media Huddles and about Digital Surrey and those are just two examples). Nevertheless, for busy marketing professionals, iStrategy should represent a pretty good return in their (time) investment – particularly if they are grappling with their own organisation’s move into the brave new world of connected consumers and data-driven marketing.

It has a good mix of keynotes, workshops, case studies, networking and the ever-present panel (in a variety of formats) and, whilst not all formats will appeal all of the time, there should be something in there that works for everyone.

That’s not the end of my iStrategy coverage on this blog – I’ve got some additional notes that I’m likely to shape into blog posts over the coming days and weeks but, in the meantime, I’ll be switching modes, back from geek marketeer into solution architect as I fill the rest of my week with the immediate day-job concerns around IT strategy and governance…

Technology

Highlights from day 1 of #iStrategy London

I’m spending a couple of days this week at the iStrategy digital media conference. Whilst my current role is not strictly concerned with marketing, elements of it have led me to describe myself as a “geek marketeer” in the past and I hope that I’ll be able to do so again in the future. Either way, I live and breathe “digital” and we all need to be something of a marketeer these days…

iStrategy attracts a broad range of marketing professionals and executives from all sectors (a quick glance at a few badges shows a wide range of brands that we would all recognise) and, equally, features some high calibre speakers. Its multi-stream approach is both a blessing (allowing delegates to attend the sessions that mean most to them) and a curse (inevitably some sessions run up against one another but this post gives a rundown of some of the highlights from the sessions I attended yesterday.

The social media brandsphere

Kicking off the event, Adam Burns (@AdamRobertBurns) welcomed us to Stamford Bridge, home of the newly-crowned European Champions, Chelsea FC, before international speaker and author Brian Solis (@BrianSolis) spoke about what he calls “frictionless sharing”. I’ve heard Brian speak before and he is certainly entertaining and engaging but the subtext to his talk is “buy my book”, giving just enough to whet the appetite but not enough to make anything real (some might say that’s smart).

I’ll probably write a more complete blog post over the next few days but, in short, Brian suggests that:

  • We have lost our way in digital media, confusing brand engagement metrics with likes/comments/shares whilst missing the true metrics which are about how people feel and engage.
  • The challenge for digital marketers is to design a form of engagement which provides a worthwhile interaction, to make today’s more discerning “connected consumers” come back and to get them talking/sharing your content.
  • Context is now king: mobile and web, online and offline need to work together seamlessly because, whether we like it or not, customers contribute to the state of our brands simply by sharing their experiences.
  • Great content is consumable; and great social content is sharable – alwyas think about relevance, resonance and significance. What we say is far less important than what we do.

Mobile first, exploiting the potential of the mobile economy

The next session was a panel discussion about the use of mobile technology in marketing. I’m not a fan of these panel discussions and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the audience checking his email etc. as five people sat on the stage chatting amongst themselves with very little audience interaction…

The most useful points (for me) can be pretty much summed up with a tweet:

Yes! Apps vs. HTML5: not an either/or; make mobile site work (concentrate on UX); mobile accessible; apps about rich experience #iStrategy
@markwilsonit
Mark Wilson

(I’m not sure, but I think most of that was based on comments from Mastercard’s James Davlouros (@james_davlouros).

The (real) value of social media

Introduced by Alistair Beattie (@bicameralman) from Tribal DDB, this break-out session was a workshop looking aiming to ”look beyond the value of media in social media.” and to reconnect with the importance of the social graph, and with marketing as a whole.

Re-enforcing some of the messages from Brian Solis’ keynote, Alistair highlighted:

  • Interaction: the 200 top brands only get 1.3% interaction on Facebook and other social platforms – and that’s likes, commenting is even lower.
  • Reach: fans are only a small portion of the available market – and pages naturally reach just 5-20% of those fans.
  • Loyalty and advocacy: purchasing frequency doesn’t increase after becoming a fan – and, because of a phenomenon known as edgerank, likes aren’t actually seen by 250 friends – the real number is closer to 16 as not all friends will see that status update.

Regardless of the above, social media is still a powerful medium. When considered with the “Four Ps” of promotion, product, price and place we can use the social graph to improve connections and the session broke out into groups looking at how to apply this principle to a second tier shoe brand looking to retain and attract 16-24 year-olds to its brand.

Open innovation: how EMI learned to love APIs

Betrand Bodson (@bbod)’s case study session was another one that warrants a more complete examination in a separate blog post – and I found it very interesting to hear how EMI Music has managed to create an environment for open innovation (OpenEMI) in a market sector that is traditionally considered slow to adopt new business models.

By creating a secure, managed environment (a “sandbox”) for developers who have signed up to OpenEMI, the company provides a brief and content to for the creation of commercial apps for iOS, Android and the web.

The system is based on a partnership approach with regular reviews and a 60/40 revenue split between EMI and the developer/platform owner:

  • Developers are responsible for the apps, engineering, product development, upgrades and maintenance.
  • EMI provides content, manages the clearance with rights holders, and markets the app
  • The EchoNest provides a technical platform and tools, intelligence on app trends, and facilitates the creation of a network of developers.

Incidentally, one of the other case studies in the same slot examined at how Macdonalds used crowdsourcing in Germany for its Make Your Own Burger campaign – and the challenges that presents to the business if adopted more widely. I would have liked to have heard that talk, but there’s only one of me so I can only be in one place at one time! Nevertheless everyone I spoke to who attended seemed to find it interesting.

Social unleashed: unlocking the transformative power of social media

After a pitch-side lunch, the afternoon keynote was probably the biggest disappointment of the day and, based on the RTs I received, I was not alone in my view that hijacking a keynote to promote your product is unacceptable – even if you have paid a lot of money to sponsor an event.

In fairness to Wildfire’s Doug Laird (@dougbytes) he was a substitute speaker but instead of using the keynote as an opportunity to be a thought leader he simply marketed Wildfire’s social media marketing platform and, ultimately, put me off any future engagement.

If “earned media” is the holy grail of social media marketing – exposure via word of mouth marketing – maybe 13,000 brands can’t be wrong but it all felt a little “me, me, me”:

Adaptive brands: delivering contextual value in a shifting world

In what was probably the best session I attended at the first day of iStrategy, Neil Clemmons (@neilclemmons) from Critical Mass got me on board right from the start when he said that everyone has a list with two columns: urgent (those things you need to do to hit your numbers) and important (those things that will become urgent if you ignore them).

Neil’s presentation was about the “important” things and examined how the 4Ps (used in the morning session on the value of social media) no longer apply – how brands need to adopt new attributes to adapt to a changing market as the emphasis moves from product to service to serving.

Much better than any synopsis from me, Neil’s team had his slides on Slideshare soon after he finished – and I recommend you take a look:

(It struck me as a little odd that fewer speakers are sharing their decks this way – after all this is a digital marketing conference…)

[At this point I missed Didier Drogba being interviewed an photographed on the pitch about his impending departure from Stamford Bridge!]

#istrategy Drogba on the pitch. Might be the last time we see him here. Id like £250k a week! http://t.co/ooOfGvax
@RobertArwel
Robert Arwel Hughes

Data and creativity: the near future of display advertising

Micheal Steckler’s session was full of insight into the future of display advertising as the data held on each of us allows for more personal approach.

Michaels own final thoughts make a good summary in that:

  • The data you own is still the most powerful.
  • Consider that most activity is talking to existing users online.
  • Differentiate creative, offer and pricing by user group (this is the future of display ads).
  • Use sophistication to marry data insight and creativity.

The social club

Hosted by Adam Burns, the final session of the day actually made the panel discussion format work (more chat-show style than discussion around the table). Some of the highlights from Gillian Muessig (@SEOmom), Kerry Bridge (@KerryatDell) and Azeem Azhar (@Azeem) were:

  • Corporate values have to match brand values – we can tie employees up with social media guidelines but not their friends, family – or our customers… and they will talk about their experiences.
  • When people come to your “place” to discuss something (your website, your blog, etc.) then you are the centre of the conversation… be that place for your industry or topic…
  • Dell trains employes in social media just as they do for presentations…
  • For proof that word of mouth is real – Telenord found that if someone has a frind with an iPhone, they are twice as likely to buy one themselves within the next 90 days. If they have two iPhone-toting friends, they are five time more likely – and that’s based on real world conversation (not social), together with Telenord’s insight nto phone data (i.e. who calls who).
  • We are putting more online… expect to see more companies seamlessly segment users – not as rough as influence engines but in same way might by, for example, postcode, today…
  • We often compare influence scores with credit scores but Experian would never disclose your credit score – that’s a key difference with influence engines (and credit is due to Azeem for his transparency and honesty in highlighting this!)

End of day 1

At the end of day 1, I have mixed feelings about iStrategy. As an event it has a lot of potential, but I’m not convinced the mix is quite right (maybe, given the early start, providing some breakfast might have put me in a better mood!) – and I’ve already given my views on Wildfire’s abuse of the afternoon keynote. Even so, I got a lot of value from some of the other sessions, so it can’t have been all bad – and I am writing this on my way back to London for day 2 after all! Watch this space for highlights from day 2 (and some more of the detail from day 1 too).

Technology

File copy issues with Symantec Endpoint Protection on Windows 7

I’ve been trying to copy some files from my work PC to my home PC. That should be straightforward enough – after all they are both running Windows 7 (x64) with all current updates installed – but I frequently found that Windows Explorer would hang in the middle of a file copy.  I found anecdotal evidence that disabling anti-virus software may help as the file filters can get in the way but my attempts to disable Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) were thwarted by the policies that my admins have, understandably, put in place.

It seems that certain versions of Symantec Endpoint Prevention (ahem…) Protection 11 have an issue with Server Message Block (SMB) 2.0 file copies. Disabling SMB 2.0 is one option, using the following commands on the client machine:

sc config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb10/nsi
sc config mrxsmb20 start= disabled

(I’m not sure if a reboot is required, but I rebooted anyway.)

Whilst this could potentially reduce performance of the file copy operation, I could that it did at least allow it to work. (There’s also an unofficial Symantec tool that can be used to disable/enable SMB 2.0 on Windows 7.)

Unfortunately, the copy process was still not flawless and several times a dialog box appeared warning about Error 0x8007046A: Not enough server storage is available to process this command. Restarting the Server service on the remote PC (net stop server, then net start server answering Y to continue the operation when prompted about existing sessions or dependant services such as Computer Browser or HomeGroup Listener) and then clicking Try Again on the client, let the copy process continue

Once the file copy was completed, I enabled SMB 2.0 again, using:

sc config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb10/nsi
sc config mrxsmb20 start= auto

Sadly, the lost time circumventing issues caused by security software doesn’t seem to be a criteria used by IT departments when considering their approach to desktop service provision, which is another reason I believe that a “dirty” network is not such a bad thing

Technology

More SharePoint shenanigans

This week, I’ave mostly been working in SharePoint (those of a certain age may spot the reference to Jesse from the Fast Show?)

Earlier this month, I wrote a post with a few hints and tips I’d picked up whilst developing a site based on SharePoint.  Since then, I’ve come up against a few more barriers…

Item level permissions on document libraries

SharePoint allows administrators to set permissions on lists so that users can read and/or edit only their own items. Unfortunately, whilst that functionality is exposed in the user interface for lists, it’s not for document libraries (although it is in the object model). Basically, if you can write some code, you might be able to set the requisite permissions, but that’s beyond my abilities.  Thankfully, others have done the legwork, either in the form of a rough-and-ready utility like Matt Morse’s or Tim Larson’s Read/Write Security solution.  Either way I need to get the the changes applied to our SharePoint farm… which may well be more trouble than it’s worth…

Changing the contact for a page

Even though there is a page contact in the properties for each page (at least there is in my company – that might just be metadata that we use…), changing that property doesn’t seem to affect the page contact (which our templates show at the bottom of the page – and is also shown in a view of all pages).  The answer is to edit the page settings (in the same way as to change the page layout). Thanks to Ian Mitchell (@ianmitchell2) for setting me on the right path there…

A calculated column, with a formula based on a Yes/No field

I wanted to display a tick or a cross instead of a yes or a no in a view on one of my lists and, in order to do this I needed to create a calculated column that produced the necessary HTML (and a script to display it…). I’ll write another post about the fancy formatting but I really struggled to work out how the Yes/No is recorded (Yes/No; 1/0; TRUE/FALSE?). Exporting my list to Excel proved that SharePoint stores boolean values as TRUE/FALSE (confirmed by Peter Allen) but the trick is to leave out any quotes – if you look for =IF(Column="TRUE","This","That") it will always be negative and the outcome will be “That”.  The correct formula is =IF(Column=TRUE,"This","That").

Editing in data sheet view but the view is read-only?

I needed to perform some bulk updates on lists in SharePoint but, frustratingly, the view was marked as Read Only so I couldn’t make any edits.  I couldn’t see why this was, but googling turned up an explanation – the list was set to require content approval.  PointBeyond has more information on configuring approval in SharePoint but temporarily removing this setting allowed me to make the necessary updates, before re-enabling it.

Connecting data in web parts

Back in around 2003/2004, I remember attending a SharePoint training course where I connected a couple of webparts to work together.  For someone like myself with little or no coding skills, this was magical… and then I forgot how to do it.  Yesterday, I ran up against an issue where, partly as a result of some database design decisions by the previous  designer, I found myself unable to display the view on a list that I wanted to, as there was an implied hierarchy in the data, but the lower levels in the hierarchy link to their parent, rather than parents linking to children (it would be better still if things could work both ways…).

The workaround, albeit clunky, was to configure two webparts, each showing a view on a different list, before configuring a data connection so that the first list provided a row upon which to filter the second list.  I needed to be careful in selecting columns (i.e. the second list needs to have a column that is a lookup on the first) but, with that in place, I was able to at least show the relationships between the items in each list.

Technology

Wake on LAN braindump

I lost quite a bit of sleep over the last few nights, burning the midnight oil trying to get my Dell PowerEdge 840 (server repurposed as a workstation) to work with various Dell management utilities and enable Wake On LAN (WoL) functionality.

It seems that the various OpenManage tools were no help – indeed many of the information sources I found for configuring the Baseboard Management Controller and kicking SOLProxy and IMPI into life seemed to be out of date, or just not applicable on Windows 7 (although ipmish.exe might be a useful tool if I get it working in future and it can be used to send WoL packets). I did find that, annoyingly, WinRM 2.0 needs an HTTPS connection and that a self-signed certificate will not be acceptable (according to Microsoft knowledge base article 2019527).  If I ever return to the topic of WinRM and IPMI, there’s a useful MSDN article on installation and configuration for Windows Remote Management.

In the end, even though my system is running Windows 7, the answer was contained in a blog post about a PowerEdge 1750, WoL and Debian

“Pressing ‘CTRL-S’ brings us to a configuration panel which allows for enabling the Wake-On-LAN (WOL) mode of the card.”

I’d been ignoring this because it the Ctrl-S boot option advertises itself as the “Broadcom NetXtreme Ethernet Boot Agent” (and I didn’t want to set the machine up to PXE boot) but, sure enough, after changing the Pre-boot Wake On LAN setting to Enable, my PowerEdge 840 started responding to magic packets.

On my WoL adventure, I’d picked up a few more hints/tips too, so I thought it’s worth blogging them for anyone else looking to follow a similar path…

“Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 do not require that WOL be turned on in the NIC’s or LOM’s firmware, therefore the steps using DOS outlined in the Out?of?Box and Windows NT 4.0 procedures are not necessary and should be skipped.  Enabling WOL with IBAUTIL.EXE, UXDIAG.EXE or B57UDIAG.EXE may be detrimental to WOL under Windows 2000 and Windows 2003.”

    • Presumably this advice also applies to Windows XP, Vista, Server 2008, 7 and Server 2008 R2 as they are also based on the NT kernel, so there is no need to mess around with DOS images and floppy drives to try and configure the NIC…
  • I downloaded Broadcom’s own version (15.0.0.21 19/10/2011) of the Windows drivers for my NIC (even though Windows said that the Microsoft-supplied drivers were current) and I’m pretty sure (although I can’t be certain) that the Broadcom driver exposed advanced NIC properties that were not previously visible to control Wake Up Capabilities and WoL Speed. (Incidentally, I left all three power management checkboxes selected, including “Only allow a magic packet to wake the computer”). There’s more information on these options in the Broadcom Ethernet NIC FAQs.
  • There is a useful-sounding CLI utility called the Broadcom Advanced Control Suite that I didn’t need to download; however its existence might be useful to others.
  • Depicus (Brian Slack) has some fantastic free utilities (and a host of information about WoL) including:
  • Other WoL tools (although I think Depicus has the landscape pretty much covered) include:
  • There’s also some more information about WoL on Lifehacker.
Technology

Fixing a Dell server that required F1 on every boot

Last weekend, I dusted off (literally), my Dell PowerEdge 840 that was retired in favour of a low-power server a couple of years ago. My employer’s IT policies are making it harder and harder to do any personal computing from work (I know my laptop is for work but there’s a big grey area between work and play these days) and whilst the Mac Mini is fine for music, a bit of browsing and email, I wanted something a bit more “heavy duty” for some of my home computing needs.  With 8GB of RAM and a Quad core Xeon CPU, my old server is a pretty good workstation (7.0 on the Windows Performance Index for CPU and memory, 5.9 for primary hard disk, but only 1.0 for graphics!) and so it’s been brought back into service as a Windows 7 PC.

Unfortunately, every time I booted it, I had to press F1, until I worked out that it was still looking for some hard disks that I had removed.  Delving into the BIOS and switching the spare SATA ports to Off, rather than Auto, sorted out the problem and now the system boots without issue.

Site notices Technology

Half-baked cookies…

I don’t know if this website uses cookies. I think it probably does beacuse I have Google Adsense code and Google Analytics code in place. It wouldn’t surprise me if WordPress uses some cookies too but, like many bloggers, I use off-the-shelf software and, as long as it works, I don’t worry too much about how things happen.

Unfortunately, some half-baked EU directive about privacy and cookies (half-baked – get it…) takes effect this month after even the UK government needed a year to get its act together (the Information Comissionners Office, which is responsible for enforcing the associated UK legislation, only removed its last cookie in March).

What’s worse is that the ICO’s guidance for website owners is really difficult to follow. Peter Bryant (@PJBryant) pointed me at an article in PC Pro magazine that suggests I should be OK without doing anything, meanwhile Kuan Hon (@Kuan0) from the Cloud Legal Project at Queen Mary University suggested a few weeks ago that we all need to be looking carefully at our sites if we want to avoid a fine…

I’m no lawyer and I can’t afford to be paying fines so I checked out some WordPress plugins that might help me. Some were linked to websites that should check my site for cookies… except they didn’t seem to work – and, anyway, I don’t really want to be making a big deal about cookies (they are, mostly, harmless).

I selected a very simple plug-in called Cookie Warning that presents a message (importantly, not a pop-up) to first time site visitors. The message is customisable (although changing the size of the text on the buttons will involve me editing the plugin) and it seems to be enough for me to gain consent from users. Importantly, it doesn’t seem to impact the way in which search engines see the site.

Only time will tell if this change negatively impacts my traffic – I’d like to think that most of my visitors understand enough about cookies to realise that this is not really such a big deal – but it will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few months as companies big and small update their sites to comply with the legislation.

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