SharePoint can do better with business application focus


SharePoint is great as a framework, and developers find it great to develop on top of it. However the share lack of business specific focus makes it a very difficult application to work with when it comes to using it to meet a specific business need.

Although each business has its unique requirements, however there are industry specific norms that are common, and an application that can address industry specific needs makes it a easier win.

IT teams find it a challenge to use the sharepoint framework capabilities to meet the specific business needs, but in doing so it ends up being a bigger job then it would have been to develop a custom application to meet the needs. Hence a customisation which ends up taking a year or so, is already outdated, and possibility is that Microsoft might already be coming out with a newer version with capabilities that the IT team has custom developed over a long time.

SharePoint provides capabilities in the form of Widgets, however the built in templates do a very poor job bringing together these widgets to provide a solution. Most of the templates are focused towards technical needs rather than business specific needs.

In my view what can make a huge difference in SharePoint adoption is to provide business specific templates to address specific business need. SharePoint team now needs to eat their own dog food and use their framework to provide business applications. This can be a set of templates that provide a starting point for say a law firm or a financial institute.

The learning from desperate efforts of various organisation within the same business line need to be harnessed to provide industry specific solution which is a superset of these desperte implementations.

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Displaying related contents in SharePoint 2010


There is no build in capability which allows related contents to be displayed in context of a specific document

However there are commercial products / web parts that allows you to do that

One of the commercial web part suit is

SharePoint Related Contents Webparts

The webpart uses the categorisation and tags for the content to show related contents within sharepoint.

Custom Implementation:

Related contents can also be managed by developing a custom implementation using the capabilities of Managed Metadata Service in SharePoint 2010 as specified in this article

Few observations on project scope managment


Over the past few years I have observed few reasons which cause a scope creep during project delivery. I wanted to document this for my own future benefit and any other unfortunate souls out there who have to face the same situation.

Who is out consultancy client and why does that matter?

Time and time again it seems that we are challenged in projects to close off the scope and meet the client requirements.

One of the key reasons of not being able to close off scope and meet the requirements is to determine the Client within stakeholders. We generally take the person who acts as the CLIENT CONNECTION to be the actual client and follow requirements set forth by him, but most of the times it turns out that actually our client was the manager of the person we have been communicating with, and when it comes to making a decision of wether we fulfilled the requirements or not, it turns out that the our CLIENT CONNECTION had limited decision power.

So our client is

1) The Person who employes us in the first place

2) Individual who makes the final decision about our services

3) Person who pays for our services

Chances are that for each engagement there will be multiple stake holders for our consultancy service, and each stake holder has his own agenda, and its hard to get a final decision from all of them, so the only way forward for us is to act as a mediator between the stake holders(or use one of the client contact as the person who will resolve conflicts), as long as they agree to some extent between them, and we have a written agreement of requirements we will be fine, otherwise we will not be able to fulfil our goal, and achieve the required acceptance from stake holders. Fulfilling requirements for all individual stake holders will always result in loss of profit and trust from the Key Client.

Filtering information for peers, bringing sanity to information overload


Problem

The amount of information that we go through every day is increasing by the day, and its becoming hard to keep up with everything. Even with internal company channels the amount of information is hard to keep up along with doing our daily jobs. There is a constant fear of missing out on things.

Need

What we feel like having is an army of people filtering out relevant information for us to review later on, but wait is that not something that is available withRead it later but with an extension of not just the articles that we want to read but the social channel updates that we might be interested in, so important links and conversation summary from Twitter, Facebook , Skype group and social cast Merged with key articles of the day, for us to review when we have time. A focused merger of company wide and external channels that we work with everyday.

Solution

The solution seems Pretty straight forward, what is needed is two key factors

1) Registration of interests

2) Automation of filtration based on interests, or Groups that are willing to filter important information for us based on our interests

Automation of such a task across so many channels is quite a complicated goal to accomplish, although not impossible but for now I think we are still not technologically ready to achieve that gracefully.

The best approach is to crowd source this filtration, your peers have a better understanding of what you are interested in. So if I spend half an hour or so on social channels than I can filter stuff for my peers as I go through the contents. Sharing can be based on individuals or groups based on their current interests.

The technical solution will look something like a browser plugin or an add-in to the various social software applications we use, so that the process of sharing with peers becomes a simple and straight forward task, and is built into the system that we are using.

The interest based filtered contents can then show up as an email digest or activity stream on a website, or even better if they can be channeled back to one of the social software channels being used (Show up in linkedin / socialcast or facebook as the reading of the day).

If there is something out there that already does that, then please do direct me to it, this will bring sanity to my information overload and take this constant fear of missing out away from me.

Follow-up

After reviewing this idea a bit further I realised that filtration can be managed by distributing the filtration process to individual client machines. Although the personal configuration for content interests stays in a central location (probably a site hosted on a cloud based platform), client application on each individuals machine can sync the configuration and process the contents from each social software source being processed for interests. Once specific contents are found matching the interests, suggestions are provided to the user, who chooses the relevant contents which are then uploaded to the server.

This is the key idea that I am working on , and will add and elaborateness my thinking as I go forward with it.

 

Fake Security alert on windows 7


I started getting fake windows security alert on my windows 7 PC.
The fake security alert would not allow me to run any applications or cancel the alert, it keeps on prompting me to buy the release version of an antivirus software online.
I have windows Security Essentials and windows defender installed on my machine.
I created a new account and was able to execute applications without any problems in that account, which indicated to me that the application was setup in that accounts personal data folders.
I could not find any windows service or installed application which could indicate any problem with the system.
After some investigation I found out that this is a spyware called antispyoem.com, found various guides online to clean it up from the computer, but most of the details did not work for me. since the executable was not found in the users personal folder that had an issue. http://www.spywareremove.com/removeAntispyoemcom.htmlhttp://blog.teesupport.com/how-to-guide-remove-antispyoem-com-antispyoem-removal-guide/
What I did initially was to login to the machine using an account different to the affected account. The spyware did not show up in the new account.
If the affected account is not critical then the simplest solution will be to delete the user account in question, and start using an alternate account. To save me time and grief that is what I have adopted and its working fine for me now.

Highlights of FOWA 2008 day 2


Thanks to my colleague Christoph Schmaltz I was able to go to FOWA on day 2. It was an interesting experience, I have not been to such a big technology conference before, and it was a good learning experience , I attended most of the presentations in the developer tack, however the most interesting talk was from Kathy Sierra on “how to grow and nurture your community”, the main idea that Kathy stressed was about creating a culture of passion among users to solve their tasks, its all about making the “users kick ass” rather then getting the “product to kick ass”, hand holding users to be champions is the only way to gain adoption and to maintain it. I have had Kathy’s book “Head First Design Patterns” for sometime but had not read it as yet, however after listening to her I came home and the first thing I did was to start reading her book 🙂

The most interesting stall was from Microsoft because of Microsoft Surface, it was my first look at this futuristic invention, very very interesting, viewing the demo of Microsoft surface I am quite sure that we will be seeing more of them pretty soon. Considering that it costs 15,000 dollars a piece I don’t think its going to be a big investment for hotels, pubs etc to use it as a customer attraction.

Since I have been working with REST in WCF now a days and have had some issues getting the required information, I discussed it with Mike Taulty at microsoft and he was very kind to guide me towards Astoria Data Services to sort out our requirements.

Listening to QA with Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook was interesting and made me think the possibilities that the internet holds today.

Comet, Reverse Ajax or Ajax Push


Comet is a web framework in which the server sends data to the client using long held connections. As soon as the client receives the message it opens a connection to the server until a complete message is read. This Architecture enables the server to push data to the client rather then the other way around.
The Architecture depends on Ajax to receive message from server and continue receiving contents from the server in the background while the user is using other features on the page.

A similar architecture is proposed in HTML 5 called server-sent events, which adds new html element event-source and a new data format called DOM event stream.

I believe with the improvement of this architecture lot of barriers for web based applications will be lifted and the difference between web based clients and desktop clients will reduce.

The main applications that will benefit from this architecture will be browser based chat applications, Web Ads delivery, email clients etc

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comet_(programming)

http://cometdaily.com/

http://ajaxpatterns.org/HTTP_Streaming

http://www.codeplex.com/comet

http://cometdaily.com/2008/06/03/various-comet-projects-hosted-at-sourceforge/