Giving Up

Over the weekend I saw an Internet Explorer 9 commercial. It caught my attention mostly because of the surprise I experienced. It has been clear for some time to me that Microsoft has given up on dominating the browser market.

Internet Explorer 300X200 1In 2003 Microsoft OWNED the browser market. They had driven Netscape into the ground and had, according to www.w3schools.com, close to 90% of the browser market. But that year a forerunner of Firefox, Mozilla began. And they began to get users.

By the end of 2005 Firefox has nabbed nearly a quarter of the browser market and IE had fallen below 70%, never to return. By the end of 2008 Firefox had more than 44% of the browser market, IE had fallen to 46% and an upstart, Google Chrome had appeared on the scene.

Chrome 1Fast forward to the spring of 2011 and an amazing thing happened. Chrome zoomed past IE, grabbing 25.6% of the market to IE’s steadily dwindling 24.3%. And shortly after that Chrome began biting into Firefox’s dominance to the point where, as of the end of August 2012, Chrome has 43.7%, Firefox 32.8% and IE a measly 16.2%.

Which brings me back to the commercial I saw. Why, I wonder, is Microsoft investing in advertising a browser that is shrinking in its share of the market? I was on an “off” channel not one of the main networks’ main channels. If you’ve given up the market already, why would you invest in advertising?

While I may never know Microsoft’s reasoning, I can draw the following conclusions for how not to grow my business:

  1. If I want to get or keep market share, work it at the top of your market. It is easier to stay on top than it is to claw my way back to the top.
  2. If I want to advertise on traditional media, advertise something that is growing / coming.  For Microsoft that could be the Windows Phone or Windows 8 – a piece of the market that is ripe for conquering.
  3. Be clear on what you need to accomplish with your marketing dollars. It is good to find your niche and then advertise intentionally in that market. It is not good to find the portion of your market that you’re losing and not likely to regain and to market there.

But the positive take away from Microsoft continuing to advertise IE 9 is to never give up. I speak with a lot of competitors that give up after a couple of tries at something. I have found that some of our best clients come through persistence – especially in following up with someone who has expressed interest but hasn’t responded yet. More often than not that persistence is met with “Thank you for not giving up. I was so busy I didn’t respond but now I’m finally getting caught up.”

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The Internet Comes Alive

Well really it is your computer that is getting livelier but it sounds better (scarier?) to say the Internet. I have asserted for years that my kids will be able to reminisce “remember when computers used to be 2D?” That time is quickly drawing near.

In the 70’s and 80’s we heard a lot about how technology built for NASA worked its way into our everyday lives. Now that model has changed – technology built for cutting edge games is working its way into our lives.  I thought it was kind of cool when ESPN set up cameras across the football field so they could give us views almost as though we were in the action – just like many of the video games my kids play.

But late last year Microsoft rolled out a new technology called Kinect that lets you be the game controller. That is pretty cool. Whether you’re driving, dancing or a variety of other activities, your movement is what controls what happens on screen. Seems pretty cool for game technology.

Now pause and think how that could affect your computing experience. If you’re creating a new design, instead of drawing with a mouse, wouldn’t it be cool to draw with your finger – not on the screen but on your desktop? If you’re an architect, wouldn’t it be cool to build a house or building with your hands and have it show up on screen? Med students could perform surgery, rocket scientists could build spacecraft, and the list of possible uses just goes on and on.

Some of the cool things that Tony Stark does in the Iron Man movie as he builds himself a new iron man suit might not be that far off. Add some Kinect-type technology to hologram technology, and you’ll be able to build your own Iron Man suit – well maybe we’re not quite there yet but these technologies are developing.

How does that affect you? You might be done with school but the technology will affect us all. Wouldn’t it be cool to flick your finger through your emails without holding on to a mouse or touching a keyboard? Kiss double-clicking goodbye and greet the finger tap? Be able to dictate (did I mention it also incorporates voice recognition?) a lengthy letter (or chapter of your book) and then edit with your hands instead of having to scroll and click with your mouse and type with your keyboard? The potential impact, on our everyday computing experience, is immense.

And surfing the internet? No more clicking links – just point at them. Marrying Kinect to the Internet could open up some amazing possibilities. Have you heard the stories about people in remote outposts getting sick? Now instead of needing a full time doctor, you could take the right tools and the doctor could operate in Antarctica while sitting in her office in Houston. And being able to operate a robot from afar? Well maybe the movie “Real Steel” is not that far off either but there are all kinds of potential uses.

Learn more about Kinect at the Microsoft Kinect website.

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Office 2010 Released

It’s out. It’s nice. If you’re using Office 2003 or earlier, it’s time to upgrade.

Office 2010 uses the same kind of ribbons that Office 2007 users have grown accustomed to. The new “ribbon” that you’ll find in Word 2010 is the one that 2007 should have had. It’s called file. The file ribbon gives you all the options and information about the particular file that you’re working on that you could possibly want to know.

For example, as I type this blog entry in Word 2010, when I click the file tab, I have lots of nifty choices like Open, Save, Save as, and Print but the option that is highlighted is Info. Under Info I can Set Permissions (protect the document so that only those who should see it can), Prepare for Sharing (basically let’s me easily strip hidden information that other’s shouldn’t see but that is useful to have for an in house document) and work with different Versions of the document.

I can also see useful information such as how long I’ve been editing this document, add or view the Title and any Tags, see who the creator is, and lots of other information. It is also from the file tab that I can open recent or other documents and do many of the tasks from the old File menu.

As is usually the case, the biggest change comes with Outlook. As the way people communicate continues to change, Microsoft tries to make Outlook the tool to help you do this. Outlook now has its own ribbons (for some reason Outlook 2007 didn’t get the ribbon makeover).

The newest feature here is the Quick Steps box. Basically what this box does is let you create macros or rules on what do with certain messages. Once that rule is created, you can run it by clicking the appropriate button in the Quick Steps box. I’m still experimenting with this but this feature holds potential in helping to tame the email beast.

Access has some nice new features, one that we’re taking a very close look at right now is the Project template. What is nice is that Access is now really designed from the get go to be interactive. I opened the Project template and the first thing I had to do was create a user (myself) and then log in. Then I was off to the races creating and entering information on the project.

The downside is I wanted to watch the video which required SilverLight which I had already installed which Access didn’t recognize as being installed. Still a few issues, it would appear but all in all I like this latest version and could see moving some of our folks to it even before the first service pack.

Other tools that come with the complete version of Office 2010 include OneNote (great for taking quick notes or for having a notebook on a particular task or subject) and InfoPath – the tool for forms – now comes with a Designer part and a Filler part. For business users (those with lots of computers and users), there’s also a new program called SharePoint Workspace. I’m still investigating these but they look to be pretty nifty tools for improved work flow.

The full version “Professional” retails for around $500 but as a productivity tool is well worth it.

 

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Instant On Operating System

What an interesting week this has been. I helped a wonderful couple from my church transition from their old computer to a newer XP computer. It was interesting when they first called because I asked them what operating system was installed. “Thelma” as I’ll call her, replied that she wasn’t sure.  I asked her to click on the start button but she couldn’t find that either. When I arrived, I turned on the computer and it was on almost instantly. Have you got it figure out yet? This was a 486 computer running DOS and Windows 3.11.

The thing that stunned me was how quickly it was ready to go. Even my faster computers will take 45 seconds or longer to boot up. This one was ready in less than 10. But of course it was Windows 3.11 so there wasn’t alot that could be done on it – although I did notice that it had an AOL icon so theoretically they could have gone online.

Why write about this now? Well our friends at Google are trying to take us back to the days of instant on with their new Google Chrome-OS.  They have had Google Chrome – the browser – out for awhile and it works pretty well (though I still prefer Firefox). Their next step is to have an entire operating system that boots quickly and basically just connects to the web from which you can access everything you need. Afterall, with Google Docs and all the other Google apps, what else do you need?

I have to admit it would be nice to have an instant on system that meets 21st Centry expectations of performance and usability because it was nifty to see how quicky that old computer fired up.

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Outlook Follow Up

A couple of months ago I wrote about the overwhelming feeling I had every day when my inbox was over-stuffed. I was pushing 2000 messages just in my inbox – and I was doing a lot of filing of messages then. Well I am happy to report that I have stuck with the program. Back then I whittled my inbox down to 6 messages.

Right now my inbox is bloated up to 38 messages. 15 of those will be removed as soon as I take care of the small tasks associated with them. Now don’t get me wrong. Other than spam, I don’t throw anything away. I’ve got emails dating back to 1999. But instead of letting them fill up my inbox, I regularly file the messages away to where they belong.

Even if there is a “to do” associated with an email, I can flag it or categorize it and then file it. With Outlook 2007’s powerful search tools, the flag or category let’s me know I need to follow up with it. And it feels so good to turn off a due flag on an email and watch the “For Follow Up” search category go down by one.

So if you are sinking in your inbox, set aside the time to clean it out. Once its clean, be ruthless. Make sure you come back to it each day or each week and whittle it down. Do I need this email? Does this email represent a to-do for me? Where can I file this email? Does it belong to a specific category? All of these questions can help you figure out where to put the email.

One final confession: I have learned to delete messages as well.  Yes, I had to face it – some emails, like a single word “yes” in reply to a question I asked, might not be worth keeping.ikoni

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Stay Organized and Stay Productive

We’ve been giving and receiving Outlook training this week and it hit me how important it is to stay focused with productivity tools of which Outlook continues to be one of our most important. In an office environment, using Outlook as the front end to an exchange server gives lots of opportunities for sharing schedules, assigning tasks, sharing calendars, and storing emails in public folders so that others in the company can easily access the same information.

Outlook 2007 is a powerful tool whether in a business environment with Exchange server or as a standalone program. The search component in particular is powerful. I have on my Outlook Favorites the search folders Unread Mail and For Followup. You can also add particular category searches that help you to stay connected and keep moving forward. The To-Do bar on the right side of the screen is a handy tool that you can expand or hide to meet your needs but when expanded shows your upcoming schedule and flagged emails.

Another productivity tool that I use in conjunction with Outlook is Jott. I’ve written about Jott previously but it is a great time saver if you’re out and about a lot. I can call Jott to send myself emails, ask for reminders that will come to my phone and email, or send an email to anyone in my address book. Yes, from my phone. So when I’m driving down the road and remember that I need to confirm an appointment via email, I can call (using my hands free bluetooth device of course) and tell Jott to send an email to Ted, letting him know that I’ll be at the breakfast meeting on Friday and Ted will get the email.

Between Outlook, Exchange and Jott, I manage to stay organized and on top of my schedule and keep my productivity high.

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Taming the Inbox: Managing Volumes of Email

I’ve done it! I’ve taken a huge step towards taming my inbox. For years it has had no fewer than 300 messages in it and when busy-ness hits, it regularly balloons to over 1500 messages.

Until now. What is the secret to taming your email? you may ask. The answer is so simple (once you know the answer it always seems simple): Right now, as I write, I have 13 emails in my inbox. Each of them is something that will be dealt with within the next business day and then filed away.

When there were 300+ emails in there, it was so easy to let it balloon up to 400 or 600 or more. With 0 to 20 in there, its very easy to identify what needs to be done, do it and then file it. The biggest thing that worked for me was opening a Word document so that when I started through the laborious process of whittling down 1100 emails to 5, I could jot a note about something that needed to be done.

So, it worked like this: file, file, file, delete, file, delete, delete, oh, I need to call Frank about this one. Hmm should I quit working on filing which isn’t fun or should I call Frank? This time I mastered the urge to bail and made a note to call Frank in the Word Document. Then back to file, delete, file, file, delete, delete, delete.

It took six to eight hours to do this but I finished over the weekend and this has been one of the most productive weeks I’ve ever had and its only Thursday!

So if you are stuck in email purgatory, set aside the time, ignore every distraction, and file, categorize and make notes until you’re down to 0. Right now I’ve got 9 items in my inbox, the oldest of which dates back to 5:20 PM on Tuesday. Ohh, that feels good

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Real Passwords

PC Magazine has posted the list of the 10 most common passwords. Is your password on the list? We hope not. What do you think about having a 6 – 8 character password? Some people really struggle with creating a password of this length, coming up with complex patterns like q2!%vSDv. But can you remember something like that? We continue to advocate creating long but easy to remember passwords.

For example, start with a simple sentence: I like to waterski in the summer. That makes 33 characters – a good length. Now we make a few transformations. We change the l (el)to 1 (one). W e change one of the i’s to an exclamation point (!). And we change one random letter from lower case to upper case. The end result is: I 1ike to watersk! in the sumMer. It’s easy to remember. I’m no mathematician but I believe that is something like 94 possibilities for each of 33 characters which makes an astronomically large number to try to crack.

What do you think? Is this a good password or not?

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Local Search Takes Off

Do you ever search for local things – a restaurant or other business – online? A lot of folks are. A whole lotta folks. In fact, you might be missing out on local searches if you haven’t prepared for it.

How big is it? Well, simply by the fact that every major search engine has a special vehicle for local search should tell you something. For Yahoo! you can visit local.yahoo.com. For Google it’s local.google.com and for Microsoft it’s maps.live.com.

It was easy to sign up for Yahoo and Google (register my business so that it would be listed) but even though I have a Microsoft Live account I spent about 20 minutes searching for a way to register my business so it would show up. That search proved fruitless. Both Yahoo and Google allow you to sign up for free. Yahoo offers additional services for additional cost. Google offers additional services at no extra cost. You can add coupons, upload images, and add as many services as you like.

The Google local search wants to make sure that you really are at the address you list so they send a letter with a code that you have to respond to. The process takes a week or two. Yahoo reviews your info in four to five days and then posts your listing.

We recommend getting listed in all three of these local search engines. Local search is only going to continue to grow in importance and popularity. Get in now and continue to monitor your progress. Need help getting listed or benefitting from your listing? Call EduCyber at 720 275-4646

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Google Office?

The word Office has come to mean a suite of productivity products from Microsoft that includes Word, Excel, Outlook and depending on your needs other programs like Access, OneNote and more. But Google, which has become a verb in its own right, is determined to give the Bill Gates and company a run for their money.

Enter Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets. This cool new “product” from Google lets you keep all of your data online so you can edit, retrieve, use your documents from anywhere. And yes, you can import your Microsoft documents and use or save them in Docs and Spreadsheets. But can you afford it? If you can afford $0, you can. Check it out and let us know what you think.

But there’s more to it than word processing and spreadsheets. What about email? Sign up for a free Google email account and you can manage your email from the same interface. And Google really does email pretty well. The interface provides you with all the bells and whistles of modern email clients from filters, to archiving and what about storage space? I’ve got 2.8 GB of space! That’s a pretty big mailbox.

Just like the old cable TV commercials though, I have to say “But wait! There’s more . . .” You can manage contacts, your calendar or group calendaring and much more. The docs and spreadsheets interface even lets me collaborate with others on a document. We can all login and work on it together.

It does sound pretty cool and I continue to learn more as I go, but . . . I have to confess I still use Microsoft and my testing of Office 2007 so far leaves me impressed with how they continue to improve upon their products.

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