Aug 152008

and in more ways than one!

Sorry for the long and slowness on the update. Since coming to London I’ve had…

  • Long hours
  • Long commute
  • Limited Internet access at work (it’s an investment bank…)
  • Super-limited Internet access at “home” (Imagine a 64K ISDN line shared by a 100 unit apartment building with DNS servers powered by hamsters on wheels. The line is, seriously, *that* slow, and when it’s up, there’s no name resolution…)
  • And, to top it off, the hard drive (or something) in my laptop died. Yay, backups.

So that’s that, but I am updating now.

Warning: no obligatory picture (not even food porn) due to aforementioned hard drive dying. The IT manager in me excluded pictures from my backups. What did that blank DVD cost me? Oh. Yeah.

Update: Jobsearch

There isn’t really one of these at the moment. It’s going onwards. There are a few things that I’m really excited about, and a few things I’ve turned down because it’s not really the sort of thing that I’m looking for. Plus, as I don’t fit so well in boxes, people don’t quite know what to make of me.

I am completely OK with that. Broadly. The source of some stress, but as my friend says “Boxes are for s”…

Update: Project

Working on this project, and it just gets more and more interesting. It’s really great having people who are working on OB issues who are really data- and results-driven. We even managed to take transcripts of 70+ interviews and compile them into a quantitative format, so we are blending qualitative and quantitative data, which really helps, as Man is very quant-driven.

I am remembering my love for technology (hard drive failures notwithstanding), and seeing great fruits of my year at Oxford soaking through. It’s hard to describe exactly what the difference is, but I’m fundamentally approaching problems in a much more structured way, with a much deeper understanding of what’s going to keep the execs (myself included!) awake at night worrying.


So what I’m doing is, largely, heading up the knowledge management part of the project. The company’s using Sharepoint, which has come quite a long way in the last couple of releases. I expect that it’s been significantly rebuilt. It’s faster, has better usability, and integrates with Office.

Sort of.

So here’s my open letter to Microsoft. (warning:tech-geeky heavy)

Dear Microsoft,

I love you. I really do. Despite years of slagging you off, touting the benefits of AIX, Linux, Oracle, Solaris, and Java (not J++), you do some great things. And I started out my IT career managing windows systems! The clustered system built on .NET that I worked on was a dream, and it really was better than Java, most of the time. Some of the slagging off comes from frustration about stability or customisation, but, really, much of that is just a difference of opinion. And often you’re addressing most of those problems.

But there are a few things you’ve got to get straight.

Please stop assuming that everyone upgrades to the latest release of everything as soon as it comes out.

Seriously. There are all these great features in MOSS (Sharepoint 2007) but they don’t work so well if you’re running, sa, 2003. Even though it was state of the art less than a year ago. Don’t get me wrong! 2007 is great. Except that it’s slow. Especially Outlook. But when you’ve got a thousand (or ten thousand) seats, you only want to move one thing at a time. The MOSS upgrade is a significant, architectural change. Office is going to wait. So half of the features won’t work. What about backporting some of those features? Even cut-and-paste from Word 2003 into MOSS wiki doesn’t quite work. Almost… but not quite.

Please stop writing software for future releases.

Even with Outlook 2007, Sharepoint 2007, and Microsoft UC server:

  • You can only access past chats and message boards as read-only. Write access is coming in Outlook 2009. Or you can buy a third-party app to fix this.
  • Authenticated RSS requires 2003 server and an upgraded 2003 AD installation.
  • Probably some other things… That’s as far as I got.

Please support other common software!

Oracle. PeopleSoft. DB2. SAP. They don’t really compete with you, do they? No, no they don’t. There are lots of reasons why companies use these packages and other software… not the least of which is organisational inertia– “We have it, it works, why change?” So please stop making me write connectors and jump through hoops to make it work.

Please make core features work out of the box… especially when we *are* using all MS products!

I really appreciate your new decision to lock down the boxes so that they’re closer to “secure by default”, but I should, really, be able to punch up a Sharepoint installation to test it and have the people search, skills, blogs, wikis, etc. work right after turning them on, without having to write any code to do it. We had to get a senior developer to work on that.

Please support this year’s open standards… or at least last year’s?

You’ve put blogs, wikis, forums, and other “Enterprise 2.0” functionality without tagging? Really? Is it that hard? And on that, why on earth can I get read access to ical servers (google calendar) in Outlook, but not write?

That’s pretty much my list, at least for now.

I do love you, I really do. SQL Server is great. It’s not Oracle, or DB2, but then it’s not meant to be, is it? It does a great job as what it is. 2003 Server, loves it. Excel… I want Excel to have my babies. Word: Fantastic (except when I alt-tab and the system just hangs for no reason). I’d love it if you wrote a lightweight PDF viewer. XPS is OK, but you’ve sort of lost that battle, haven’t you? Silverlight looks really cool, and just the thing to keep Adobe moving and innovating. Yay!

Just try to remember the poor schlubs who are… well, I guess you do keep us in work, don’t you? If everything were easy… less of us would have jobs. So keep up the good work, and keep Project Managers, Developers, and Sysadmins employed.

Love, us

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 Posted by at 14:50

  One Response to “Please Stand by… Technical difficulties”

  1. Hello from North Carolina! *grin* Hopefully you remember me from long ago…I’d love to catch up!
    Roxie (the one always with Cynnamon)

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