Entries in technology (94)


I'm Sharing on Flipboard

I'm now sharing news and articles I find interesting on Flipboard - https://flipboard.com/@gavinknight


Red Rock has acquired Jireh Consulting

Red Rock (part of publicly listed UXC) has acquired Jireh Consulting.

My congratulations to my friend and colleague Mark Elley who built Jireh over the last seven years into a successful JDE consultancy with clients who speak very highly of the high quality services provided by the Jireh team.

The acquisition brings the Jireh and Red Rock teams together so as to better serve the market for JDE services, primarily in New Zealand (under Mark's leadership), but also in Australia where Red Rock is based.

I have provided JDE consulting services through Jireh since 2008, and will continue to do so through Red Rock.

As described here on GavinKnight.com here is a refresher on the services I provide:

  • Project Manager - I have an enduring record as a Project Manager who leads business and systems projects from inception to successful completion;
  • Business Analyst and Business Systems Consultant - I have extensive experience as a Business Analyst and Business Systems Consultant who can understand business requirements, translate them into clear requirements definitions with an appropriate mix of systems change & process change and then implement them;
  • Business Coach - I use my experience as a consultant and leader to coach others to increase their performance.

To discuss how I can help you improve the performance of your business please contact me using one of the contact methods listed at the top right.


Collaboration Roadmap: You've Got the Technology - Now What?

I just ordered my copy of Collaboration Roadmap: You've Got the Technology — Now What?; the fourth book written by my friend and professional colleague Michael Sampson (@collabguy) - this time to address the following business challenge:

Many firms are struggling with collaboration technology. Either it's been installed and is not being used, or they are not sure what to do. How do you make great decisions about collaboration technology and its use within organizations? Collaboration Roadmap answers both questions.

Have you ordered your copy yet?

Michael also consults, runs workshops and speaks on these and related collaboration topics.  You can contact Michael here.

Or, you can contact me if you need more general assistance with choosing or implementing technology, or your use of it, so that your business is more effective.


Grumbles with the Finder in Mac OS X

I'm generally very happy with my switch to the Mac, but have a couple grumbles with the Mac OS X Finder:

  • I can Copy a file, but not Cut?
  • I have to use the File menu to open a new window (not the Window menu)?
Maybe I should be using an alternate file management application?

Yes, the Flower was that Yellow

Since I moved from Windows to the Mac a couple months ago I've been trying out various Mac applications. I'm particularly enjoying the range of photography apps I now have access to.

One app I like is iSplash (US$0.99 in the Mac App store) which makes a photo black & white except where you choose for the original colours to remain. It only takes a minute or two to process a photo.

It creates simple yet astonishing effects like this. Yes, the flower was that yellow. But how much more yellow it looks with the surrounding colour removed.


Day One - Oracle OpenWorld

As we type this it is Tuesday morning here in San Francisco and we are heading into day two of the Oracle OpenWorld conference.

The conference started for us with Larry Ellison's opening keynote on Sunday evening. He announced some new server products in the Oracle Exadata line, including a new Exalogic middleware machine.

Fusion Apps

The most significant announcement however was that Oracle Fusion Applications will be generally available in the first quarter of the 2011 calendar year. This is a significant announcement - Fusion Apps has already been in development five years and represents the next generation of applications from Oracle. It is likely to be a part of the future for JD Edwards customers at some stage but in our opinion this is unlikely in the next few years. Oracle themselves describe Fusion Apps as 'not instead of, but in addition to' your existing ERP, eg JDE, via Fusion Middleware. Larry himself said that initial adopters - including Oracle themselves - will be 'brave customers'!

We are spending a significant portion of our time here at conference investigating Fusion Apps in more detail. We have already had a hands on session with the software and found it very interesting. We were surprised to see how broad the Fusion Apps functional footprint is already as the messaging to date has been it would initially only have a narrow footprint that would grow over time.

JD Edwards

Yesterday - Monday here - we focused on getting the latest news about JD Edwards. Lyle Ekdahl's keynote (he is Group Vice President responsible for JDE within Oracle) emphasised that they are continuing to invest in JDE and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Conference announcements included the release of Fullfilment Management which provides more flexibility for allocating inventory to open orders when orders exceed supply. It was also interesting to hear that globally 34% of JDE EnterpriseOne customers are already on a 9.x release.

Lyle also focussed on the new Apparel module for JDE which is in development and expected to be released next year. Lyle highlighted one of our New Zealand customers who has been participating in the beta testing, and she featured in a video.

We also went to a JDE World product strategy and roadmap session. World is still a product with a future and has a loyal customer base in New Zealand. In the five years under Oracle there have been two major releases and a third is being planned. Oracle is working hard to make World more open so it can operate within a Service Oriented Architecture - like their own Fusion Middleware - even though this is more challenging with JDE World than it is with JDE EnterpriseOne. Examples of this are the JDBC driver for World which allows for integrations, including some that have been prebuilt by Oracle, and JDE World can now utilise Oracle BI Publisher which is a reporting and forms tranformation solution within the Oracle Fusion Middleware stack.

We are also renewing, and making new, relationships with key Oracle JDE people.  These relationships are invaluable to our customers and ourselves.

If you would like to meet up at OpenWorld to discuss how Jireh can help you with your JDE system, or if you have a particular question you would like us to investigate at the conference, please contact us on Twitter (@JirehJDE) or directly:

[cross-posted from the Jireh blog]


SAP up to more than 4 times more costly than JDE

Oracle has recently conducted a case study comparing the cost of ownership for their JD Edwards EnterpriseOne solution (JDE) against SAP in the same company.

Key findings:

  • SAP cost almost twice as much as JDE to implement;
  • SAP costs more than four times as much as JDE in administration per end-user;
  • SAP requires more than four times as many IT support staff as does JDE;
  • SAP has ongoing costs more than four times as much as JDE.

What is particularly interesting about this study - apart from the findings! - is that the comparison is between two similar divisions of the same company running similar business processes, so it is almost a direct comparison and therefore the findings are more compelling.

Oracle have given permission for us to share the case study, so please email me if you want a copy.

Gavin Knight, Director of Business Consulting, Jireh Consulting Services

cross-posted from Jireh's blog


My Facebook is for Personal Connections

It is my policy to only accept Facebook 'friend' requests from people I know personally, but usually not from those I only know professionally. This policy is not meant to cause offense, or disengage me from the online world.

Recently I have noticed I am increasingly being asked to 'friend' someone on Facebook who I don't know personally. My usual practice with these requests (when the person appears genuine) is to respond back with a private message through Facebook asking whether or not we have actually met. Given how active I am on other public forms (e.g. this blog, Twitter, LinkedIn) some seem surprised to find out that I reserve Facebook for connecting with people I know personally. I had such a conversation earlier today.

One of the key reasons for this policy is that (for their personal safety) we have always required our (now teenage) kids to only 'friend' people online that they know and would count as a friend in the physical world (family also counts!). To demonstrate to them the importance of this policy I follow the same policy for my own Facebook, and insist on being connected as 'friends' with them. From time to time we are allowed to check each other's 'friends' lists against this policy - and we do so. My kids are surprised at how many people their Dad knows!

The other reason is that I also like that I can keep at least one online forum (currently Facebook) more private. I am publicly active on enough public online forums as it is!

What is your policy?

Please note that I am well aware that privacy concerns with Facebook are increasing and that the policy described above could therefore be a bit of a mirage. However, until there is an alternative online forum where we can find most of the people we know then the reality is that Facebook will continue to perform this role in our lives.


IT Costs of the Proposed GST Increase

Over at my company's blog I've written about the IT costs associated with the proposed GST increase, and some advice on what to do.

The article is JDE centric as that is the system Jireh specialises in, but the advice is easily transferrable to other systems.

comments are disabled on this post so you can comment on the original post at my company's blog


iTunes libraries across 2 PCs

I've transferred my iTunes library from my netbook to my laptop.

In doing so it occurred to me to try sync'ing some items to my iPhone from my laptop and some from another PC as I'd previously seen a hint this was possible.

Turns out it is.

So I now sync podcasts & apps from my laptop, and music, audiobooks, movies & photos from the family PC - which contains the masters anyway.

This has released GBs of space on my laptop as I only had copies of the music, audiobook, movie & photo files on the laptop so as to sync them to my iPhone.


Mind Mapping Software

I've not often used mind mapping as an idea capture technique because it didn't seem to suit my personal style. However, recently a colleague recommended I try it again, and I now like it!

Wikipedia describes a mind map as:

"... a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.

The elements of a given mind map are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts, and are classified into groupings, branches, or areas, with the goal of representing semantic or other connections between portions of information. Mind maps may also aid recall of existing memories.

By presenting ideas in a radial, graphical, non-linear manner, mind maps encourage a brainstorming approach to planning and organizational tasks. Though the branches of a mindmap represent hierarchical tree structures, their radial arrangement disrupts the prioritizing of concepts typically associated with hierarchies presented with more linear visual cues. This orientation towards brainstorming encourages users to enumerate and connect concepts without a tendency to begin within a particular conceptual framework.".

In workshops for clients I've started creating maps on whiteboards and flip charts, but I also like to capture thoughts in this format directly into my PC where I archive everything of value.

I've found the following software options seem to work best for me:

  1. FreeMind is free PC mind mapping software which I've found to be functionally strong, easy to use and creates mind maps which are very visually presentable (eg in client reports);
  2. I also sometimes use Personal Brain but even the free option is significantly more functionally extensive than just mind mapping, so I don’t find it as easy to use as FreeMind;
  3. on my iPhone I use Simple Mind - whilst there is a free version which creates jpg images in your phone's photo camera roll the paid version also saves out to the web in pdf, jpg and freemind format for further editing on your PC.

What do you use?


Why Google Wave?

I wrote last week on my interest in, and the beginnings of my trialling of, Google Wave.

A commenter on that article pointed to one of the many document sharing sites out there as an alternative. This prompted me to think deeper on why Google Wave has me so intrigued, when there are plenty of collaboration services which I could implement in a way that would meet my needs.

My initial thoughts were - with my subsequent thoughts in italics:

  1. I'm looking for something to collaborate on docs (ie edit too) not just share them - the commenter pointed to a sharing site;
  2. Wave is from Google and therefore much more likely to become more pervasive if it succeeds - as a consultant working with an ever changing array of multiple customers and partnering organisations I collect too many systems, UserIDs and passwords as it is, if Google Wave takes off and removes a need for a lot of them (I don't expect it to replace all of them) that would simplify my life and hopefully enable me to deliver value to my customers quicker - rather than being distracted as I often am now by having to learn yet another system with yet another pair of UserID and password credentials;
  3. because it is designed ground up as an open protocol - very soon other providers will be able to provide Wave servers, and waves will federate among them so it won't be a closed system like too many of the current alternates - as well as the points made in 2 this one is particularly relevant to my work as a consultant working with an ever changing array of multiple customers and partnering organisations - I don't always get to choose which systems I have to work with as my customers, and sometimes my partner organisations, often choose the tools to be used for a particular project - Google Wave offers the potential of using a system that might become as common as email, without the frustrations of email (which are why we are all looking for new options anyway!).

My business partner now has a Google Wave account and I will blog my real world experience of using Google Wave in the context of running our consulting company.


Google Wave

I have started exploring Google Wave, and already see potential uses for it in the inherently collaborative project world in which I spend my working life. Many of the tools on which I, my colleagues, our clients and our project teams rely simply aren't doing the job sufficiently - particularly the all too pervasive practise of emailing documents around for review, comment and editing.

Google Wave was originally pitched when announced by Google earlier this year as a replacement for email, but that is quite misleading.

Lifehacker's explanation, from their "Complete Guide to Google Wave" is closer: "Google Wave is a new online communications tool that enables groups of people to edit and discuss documents simultaneously on the web. The Google Wave team says Wave is 'what email would look like if it were invented today.' However, because Wave is mostly a document collaboration tool, the oversimplified email metaphor can mislead new users. The initial Wave experience can feel chaotic and confusing, but use cases for Wave abound. Come on in and meet Wave."

If you would like to read more, check out these resources:


Next Actions and the GTD Add-In for Outlook

Eric has written a post describing how he uses the standard Outlook task 'status' field to supplement the Netcentrics GTD Outlook add-in. In his case he uses it for what I call "subsequent actions" (he sets the status to 'not started') which only become active (a "next action") once a prior "next action" (he sets the status to "In Progress") has been done.

I use a slightly different technique, which I have described in a comment on his post, and here:

I achieve a similar result using Due dates. In my workflow subsequent actions will usually occur on a day in the future once the predecessor next action has occurred. I have a filtered copy of the standard Actions by Project view which has an additional filter on it for actions due on or before today. An implication is I have to due date all my tasks or those with a blank due date are also filtered out, as well as subsequent actions. If when the due date comes around and the ‘next action’ is not yet done, but the ’subsequent’ action appears on my list as now due, this prompts me to either do the ‘next action’ (remembering that I should have already!) or reassess when the subsequent action is due.

The same technique also works as a tickler. For future tasks/reminders I want to be ‘tickled’ about I simply create a task with the relevant due date. On that date it appears on my filtered view as it is now ‘due’.

How are you using the Netcentrics GTD Outlook add-in, and standard Outlook functionality, to manage GTD for you?


Review: SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration

I have just finished reading Michael Sampson's second book "SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration: Using SharePoint to Enhance Business Collaboration". Michael describes the book this way:

"SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration is the indispensable guide for IT and business people wanting to use SharePoint to enhance business collaboration. The roadmap focuses on the business and human side of SharePoint, rather than the technology."

Michael has an engaging writing style. I almost heard him reading the text. I could easily envisage him delivering the content in a workshop or seminar context - both of which he offers!

The book is very readable despite being full of rich content covering some complex areas. For the last couple weeks I read a chapter every few days. Then today I completed the second half of the book in one sitting. It flows very well.

I have been a member of IT project teams for over 10 years, and in project management roles on such projects for over 5 of those years. The insights in Michael's book resonate closely with my experience.

The ideas Michael explores are equally applicable across a much broader range of IT projects. Not just collaboration projects generally, or SharePoint projects specifically. I encourage Michael to explore this further in his future writing.

This afternoon I am meeting with one of the business sponsors for the IT programme of work I am leading for his organisation, a client of mine. An imminent project within that programme - which he is quite wary of - is the implementation of SharePoint for an intranet, document management, search, reporting and collaboration. All of these processes are broken to some degree within this organisation, which is one of the key business challenges my programme of work is seeking to address.

I will be showing him Michael's book and encouraging him to buy a copy. It will enable him and his colleague executives on my steering committee to ensure they provide my programme with continuing oversight that is focussed on achieving what they need.

Now, on to reading Michael's first book "Seamless Teamwork: Using Microsoft SharePoint Technologies to Collaborate, Innovate, and Drive Business in New Ways".

Michael and I are friends. I remember us first meeting when we were teenagers. Then, in the mid-to-late 1990s, we worked closely together on the team that started a new church in our suburb. During this time our friendship developed, and continues to this day even though Michael and his family moved to another part of the country. We don't see each other very often, but communicate regularly on twitter, by email, by txt/sms, by commenting on each other's blogs and occasionally by phone. However, do not let my friendship with Michael detract from your reading of the above review. I do a lot of reading - both for my professional life, and generally. Michael's thinking and writing is world class. This book is clear evidence of that.


Solved: Missing RSS Subscribers

A helpful reader (thanks Paul) emailed me overnight to explain where my missing RSS subscribers might have gone when I moved GavinKnight.com from Google's Blogger service to Squarespace.

It seems that when you use a custom domain with Blogger (as I was) there is a setting to tie your Feedburner hosted feed to the native feed provided by Blogger (but under your domain - in my case GavinKnight.com). I don't remember specifically enabling that integration, but must have done it. When I moved from Blogger to Squarespace this integration would no longer be active, those subscribers would have been getting a 404 'not found' error - and would have dropped out of my Feedburner subscriber count.

So, I have now created a redirect within Squarespace pointing the old GavinKnight.com RSS URL published by Blogger to the new one published by Squarespace for the Blog - those subscribers should now see my blog posts coming through their feed reader again.


Odd RSS Subscriber Stats

Update: dilemna solved

I am not quite sure what is going on with the statistics for the RSS feed I maintain through Google's Feedburner service.

However, as you can see from the graph, my reported subscriber numbers declined from 50 to 30 at the very point I moved GavinKnight.com from being hosted by Google's Blogger service to Squarespace.

I could understand the subscriber numbers for this feed steadily reducing over time as people move to the RSS feed(s) hosted directly here at GavinKnight.com - but a sudden decrease makes me suspicious that somehow Google inflate the numbers for their own service. Can you shed any light on what is going on here?

By way of context, I now provide the following RSS feeds hosted directly here at GavinKnight.com:

I will also continue to provide the following feeds through Google's Feedburner service:

I previously provided RSS feeds for each of my main topic areas, but decided to close those down when I moved my hosting to Squarespace.


Evernote + Blackberry now fully functional in NZ

Yes! My Blackberry Bold has just downloaded a new version of the Evernote Blackberry application (now 3.0.155).

My initial testing indicates it now also works over Vodafone New Zealand's mobile data network, as well as over wi-fi (which it already did).

This means I hold high hopes for how it can play an increasing part in my daily workflow as part of my current project of refining my implementation of GTD.

I will write further on this after trialling it as part of my daily workflow.


Evernote Blackberry App only works in NZ over WiFi

Update: Evernote + Blackberry now fully functional in NZ

I have trialled the Evernote Blackberry Application further and can confirm it works on my Blackberry Bold over my home WiFi internet connection.

This means I will proceed with assessing how it can play an increasing part in my daily workflow as part of my current project of refining my implementation of GTD.

However, as I found this morning when I first downloaded it, it doesn't work over my Blackberry's mobile data connection - which means it as not as useful as I had first hoped.  I have asked Vodafone New Zealand why this might be in the hope it can be made to work.

On balance though, I applaud Evernote for making available a directly downloadable release of their Blackberry application today after spinning their wheels yesterday by only making it available to those in the US, Canada and UK.


Well Done Evernote re Blackberry App!

Today I am very happy with Evernote!

They have now also made the Evernote Blackberry application available for direct download.  This sidesteps Blackberry's App World which is only available in the US, Canada and the UK - ie not to me in New Zealand - hence my disappointment yesterday.

I have just downloaded it direct to my Blackberry Bold, will test during the day and post my thoughts tonight.

Hat Tip: Sean via Twitter