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My 2012 Reading List

hi friends, I am sharing here my list of books that I read in 2012. Most of them I’ve finished in the kindle version and I am also sharing some of my views about them. I hope you enjoy. Also feel free to share your recommendations with me at edge@superedge.net 

Sarah’s Key (finished on 5-Dec-2012) 
A 10 year-old girl is brutally arrested with her family by the French/Nazi police; before she is taken as prisoner she locks her younger little brother in a cupboard thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Incredibly emotional, glorious story, tear-jerker!

The Life of Pi (finished on 15-Nov-2012)
Fascinating story of a kid, called Pi, who shared months adrift in the ocean a tiger in a small boat. The story touch in several points about spirituality, God, life and death. Some might argue that this is a blatant copy of another book, Max and the Cats by Moacyr Scliar, a famous Brazilian writer, where a Jewish refugee crosses the Atlantic sharing a boat with a jaguar. Indeed a *very* similar plot. Nevertheless, a great read. I recommend.

Is Not About the Bike (2nd reading)
Before you walk away amongst all the doping controversy, let me tell you I do not condone or support drugs in sport, but as story-telling goes there is no doubt: this is a fantastic book. I am reading it once again because it is such a good read, and I am doing it with a “new set of eyes”, taking in all the input from the current Lance Armstrong scandal… it is a bit sad I must say. An interesting case: Years ago this was a life story, now is more like a fiction. A good one.

Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story, Updated and Expanded Edition
I took over this book after a recommendation from a colleague. Apparently this is a book targeting managers.Summary was something along the lines “If you need to start somewhere with storytelling there is not a better book I could recommend”

cloud-atlas

Cloud Atlas
Amazing book. The first chapters are very hard to read because the protagonist is writing from centuries ago…but once one gets into the writer’s mind and style it is definitely a page turner and there is an amazing twist further down the book. There is a movie coming about it. If you find too hard reading, try the audio-book which is also excellent and you can listen the whole in about 1-2 weeks.

the-maverick-and-his-machine

The Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson, Sr and the Making of IBM
If you love to understand how to great business minds works, or if you are a person who loves technology this book is an essential reading for you. This biography is brilliant and offers an accurate insight into one of the greatest business man of the 20th century, not to mention he founded IBM, a model followed by most of the big tech companies.

hunger-games

The Hunger Games (Book I)
Tells the story of a fascinating dystopian world where society is divided in zones and kids participate in a bloody game, watched by millions, and where only one should survive as victor. Topics are: war, authoritarian governments and obsession with fashion and celebrity.

catching-fire Catching Fire (Book II)
The second book, of The Hunger Games trilogy, our hero Katniss is the centre of a political dispute and a puppet in a crowd controlling manipulation via TV. I just can’t tell more without risking spoil the story. This book is much better than 1st one, IMHO.
mockingjay Mockingjay (Book III)
The final book of The Hunger Games trilogy. A revolution is going on and tells a story about wars, more dead kids and sacrifices. High stakes at play for a group of very deceiving people, conflicting personal desires, population needs, and power plays. A great finish to the trilogy.
steve-jobs Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
A very unique looks of the most brilliant minds of our century. Tells the story behind the Apple-juggernaut and the very conflicting, polarizing and, more often than not, brutal personality of Steve Jobs. A must-read book for everyone who wants to understand Steve, and to see that success is a very relative measure.
the-jesus-incident The Jesus Incident
Frank Herbert from Dune delivers another masterpiece. A group of people in another planet finding similarities to our life style and beliefs. Topics are: Religion, Jesus and God, Science, extra-terrestrial live, … very captivating storytelling. This is actually the 2nd book of a trilogy. I did not know that but I read it anyway and enjoyed through and through.
code-complete Code Complete
If you are an IT professional and care about the quality of your work, you must read this book; if you haven’t, do this as soon as you can. Discuss projects, timelines, deliverables, and dealing with the chaos of project managements. A classic never gets old.
linchpin-are-you-indispensable Linchpin: Are you indispensable?
We live in a very competitive workplace, and everyday we have to make choices and sacrifices to keep moving forward. This book is about these choices and how they impact our future. Linchpins are those guys who find a way to do things when others think there's nothing can be done. Seth is challenging us to become linchpins.

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Tips For a Successful Project Server Delivery

If you're a project manager, chances are you are working with Microsoft Project and Project Server. Most the times when we go to a customer and they have this setup in place one of the first things we ask is: how is your company organized? can you explain to me this environment?

Truth is, these questions are getting harder and harder to answer. The project assets are not anymore living only in the project manager's computer anymore; they are distributed, often in the cloud.

Don't be fooled by first impressions. Big corps systems are still using simple interfaces, so much so that most of them are targeted to web browsers and everything looks like a webpage; however behind the scenes there is a very intricate mix of technologies and connections. What we see in the surface is the result of data being filtered, processed and transformed to be displayed across multiple layers.

When things change, what do we do? Whilst at this stage we don't have a definitive answer (and we probably never will), our experience has paved the way for some basic points that can be seen across multiple disciplines and categorized as best practices. Let's have a look at them:

 

The Sponsor

A well established enterprise project has at least 2 sponsors, or better said, 2 sponsor roles: business sponsor and technical sponsor.

The Business Sponsor: Business executive person. This sponsor has a vested interest in the success of the project. Some people don't like when I put it this way but he is the person who we will make "look good" at the end of the project. Everything the project impacts needs to be clearly affecting this person directly as well. Forget about steering committees and find THE Person which ultimately will call the shots. 

The Technical Sponsor: Senior IT executive person. This person has enough power to direct people and actions without must effort. This sponsor will interact with IT departments and their domains: DBAs, SharePoint people, Infrastructure leads etc. If the project needs another active directory, he will make the calls to get it ready as soon as possible; if you need a new database, he will send the order to the database leads to fix it. This role might not have a vested interest in the project but it has a vested interest in be seeing as an active force within the project world. Without him, things would take just too long to get done.
 

Keep the Project Eyes on the Prize

Are you using Project Server? SharePoint? Do you really need to use them? Are they delivering the benefits you expect? These are very hard questions; regardless of the challenged they all must be aligned to the same goal: Delivery Success.

This leads to another point: Not always, but sometimes we see companies buying software just because "people are using it". More often than not, enterprises acquire software for the wrong reasons and then something is created to give purpose to that technology because...well, because we just spent $100.000 in new licenses of the SharePoint 2010.

Again, I've seen too many companies buying SharePoint solutions to later forget the reasons why they bought it and then another problem is created, to find someone to be responsible for that "baby". Purpose is lost, nobody seems to remember what was the target anymore.

Don’t buy software, buy solutions. Once the solution is in place, act quick and make sure it is delivering results. We live in a very fast-paced world and for a lot of companies out there the goal posts are an always moving target. The window of opportunity to score a goal might not be present in 6 months from now. Make sure you score them sooner and often.


Enterprise Architecture: Measure Twice, Cut Once

A couple of years ago I saw this SharePoint deployment which was created to support a Project Server installation. In theory, both products walk hand in hand...but man, what a mess was that environment. Noticed later that people did not have proper training, they lacked knowledge about SharePoint, about Project Server, they were effectivally System Analysts or Programmers who were given the task of "taking care" of the SharePoint/Project Server environment.

These products are world-class products, champions on their own; yet enterprises fail to recognize the importance of "peopleware" to work with them. As soon as possible, try to get into the guts of the current enterprise architecture, find out about their governance plans (if any) and make sure the people are living up to the expectations of the systems.


Don't Take the Storage For Granted. Replicate.

Backup. Backup. Then, Backup. And keep all 3 datasources apart from each other. In separate buildings, if possible. When dealing with Project Server or SharePoint, backup is not a trivial task. It is done in a very specific way. Invest in professional tools specifically designed to handle these environments. These tools are often expensive, but it is money well-invested.

From time to time, perform disaster recovery exercises. Because, what's the point of taking backups if they cannot be restored successfully. Keep track of the performance during these exercises; they will give you important metrics about business continuity plan and quality assurance.


Development. Test. Stage. Pre-Production. Production.

In life, there is no try, only do...fortunatelly for our systems we can create a safe environment where we can try things isolated. Make sure the enterprise has at least 4 deployment layers: Development, Test, Stage and Production. Give all access to development and as they move up the chain, revoke the access until only a few people can touch the production environment.

All SharePoint and Project Server deployments must be done in packages, with install and retract options in case of failure. All packages must have versioning and all packages must be self-contained to avoid crashing their other colleague packages.

If your enterprise does not provide this, make sure they do. We live in a world of virtualization, it is not a big deal to have these environments setup.

 

There Are No Small, or Big Changes. Only Changes.

Too many times people underestimate the ability of small things breaking big things. It is important to have devices in place to manage Project deployments and updates across the whole stack. Be very critical of service packs and feature updates. If not critical, try to delay their deployment.  stable environment is important, a broken environment worths nothing; worst, it might bleed money. for big changes, engage with a partner with good track record of desktop transformation deliveries.

 

In Short…

way too often people complain about technologies, browsers, products when in fact the root of all evil is bad management practices, be it from trying to save money, be it from trying to deliver within impossible deadlines. So next time facing these project issues, take a step back and try to reflect across the big picture. The answer might be the elephant in the room.

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Fixing error: Filename too long using SkyDrive Pro

SkyDrive Pro is an awesome piece of software. It comes together with Office 2013. However you might run into this little error screen I found the other day. I am sharing here the solution that worked for me.
 
sky-drive-pro-filename-too-long-error

 

Option 1: Old OneDrive/SkyDrive Structure

Download the “Long Path Tool” to fix this issue. This tool essentially renames the folder structure to use shorter names in order to fit the old requirements for SkyDrive. 

 

Option 2: Fix in 7 Steps in the OneDrive

1) Close all Microsoft Office applications. This includes Office apps in Windows 8 ( Lync For Windows 8 for example )
2) In the task bar, pause the Office Upload Center
    sky-drive-pro-filename-too-long-error-3
 
3) In the task bar, close the SkyDrive Pro icon
    sky-drive-pro-filename-too-long-error-2
 
4) Delete all the files from c:\<your username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\Spw
5) Delete all the files from c:\Users\<your username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\15.0\OfficeFileCache
6) Reboot the machine
7) When the system is back up again, try to add the URL to SkyDrive Pro. You should (hopefully) see your documents now being downloaded ok.
sky-drive-pro-filename-too-long-error-4 sky-drive-pro-filename-too-long-error-5
 

 

Bonus: Explaining the SharePoint Long File Name Limitation

SharePoint is a great product, but it has some very annoying aspects..and the way the document urls are formed is one of them. Basically a typical SharePoint URL rule is: http address + folder + file name + a whole bunch of parameters. The URL below is a typical example of a SharePoint 2010 URL
There is a design limitation in SharePoint that the maximum size of URL is 1950 bytes. Anything larger than that will be truncated by the SharePoint. SharePoint will start truncating the URL by the reference from the visited page, not from the destination page.
When the truncating happens and affects the destination, one might see the message "The specified file or folder name is too long". One of the examples is when you try to create a document library in a URL that has several nested levels. So, you will start realizing that there are fixed limits for the lengths of folders and document names in URLs.
Turns out that the maximum URL for files and folders in SharePoint must be less than 260 characters. It gets worse because additionally to that, there is a limit for specific file names of 128 characters.
Having said that, let's not confuse this with...

 

Browser Limitations

To complicate things even more, browsers have limitations of their own apart from SharePoint limitations. So, even if you find a shorter name and URL which is well inside the SharePoint capabilities, the browser you are using still might not be able to resolve the URL. For example, depending on the charset, IE8 restrict the limits up to 1024 characters in the URL (which well below the supported by SharePoint). Solution? try to create URLs well below 1Kb in size. The most restrictive rule wins.
What the W3C says? there is no requirements for the length in the specification. It really comes down to the implementer (Microsoft, Firefox, Google Chrome etc.) to handle that, I guess.

 

Take Away From This

  • There is no way around long document names: find a shorter name.
  • There is no way around long URLs: try to create an enterprise architecture that has the most restrictive options

I hope this info is useful for you somehow.

 

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Top 10 Free Windows 8 Apps

With Windows 8 already in full motion and with more than 4 million licenses sold just in the first week, I would like to share with you what are the top 10 free Windows 8 Store apps I like the most.

On a quick note, this list was done before November 2012, however more than 500 apps are being added to the Windows Store everyday. That’s a huge number…so expect to see changes in this list . This list is also not in order of preference, I love all these apps just about the same.

This list was supposed to be the top 10 but I ended up selecting 12. Good for you since I promised 10 and you are now receiving 20% more for the same price Smile

 

Xbox SmartGlass

I wrote before about Xbox SmartGlass, that’s is truly an amazing application in every sense. Control your TV, Xbox, movies, music, games all from one location. Must have application.

windows-8-xbox-smartglass

 

Wikipedia

this is our modern era version of the Delta-Larousse Encyclopaedia. If something exists, it is in the Wikipedia. The app is great, looks very clean and it is absolutely designed for touch.

windows-8-wikipedia

 

Shazam

Shazam is one of the coolest mobile applications which took the world by storm via iPhone users. Just point the microphone to a music playing anywhere and Shazam will identify everything: the music name, band, singles, YouTube clips and a whole bunch of other metadata associated with it. It is a magical app.

windows-8-shazam

 

SkyDrive

SkyDrive is probably the coolest and more user-friendly cloud storage system ever created but looks like this little gem was forgotten by Microsoft for many years. Now with the whole cloud computing coming to life SkyDrive is resurrecting as a big player. It has all the integration with the more popular file types, including office, pdf, Open-XML etc, and the interface works for both mobile, tablets and desktop devices.

windows-8-sky-drive

 

Skype

Skype is the leader in online communications. The app for Windows 8 is just gorgeous. Absolutely a joy to use, fluid and intuitive. Hopefully soon Microsoft will incorporate all the communications, Messenger, Lync…inside Skype.

windows-8-skype

 

The New York Times

I love news and The NYT is one of the best sources out there. The Windows 8 app is incredibly neat, clear to read and easy to navigate. Also you can set to filter by themes and mark your preferred sections like the famous New York Times Best-Seller books.

windows-8-the-new-york-times

 

Tweetro

Tweetro is in my opinion the best twitter client for Windows 8 so far… There are other apps like MetroTwit, Gleek, Rowi..but they are too buggy or too laggy when compared with Tweetro. At this moment, when I am writing this, this is the best twitter app for Windows 8.

windows-8-tweetro

 

Dark RSS Reader

This is like the most loved Google Reader but taken to a whole new level. The RSS feeds can display images from the news, you can listed to specific hashtags and you can pin keywords to the start menu. Do you want to follow what’s new with SharePoint or want to read about new Disney Star Wars ? just pin the topic to the Start menu and the news will show up in the live tiles.

windows-8-dark-rss-reader

 

Amazon Kindle

I used to read about 1 or 2 books per year. Thanks to Kindle, I read about 2-3 books per month. The Kindle for Windows 8 brings the experience of reading your favourite book to the device. You can start reading your book in your Amazon Kindle at home, then you can synchronize with your Windows 8 tablet or notebook and continue reading from the place you left. It is an absolutely must have for the book lovers and people who loves productivity. No need to carry your Amazon Kindle with you anymore to everywhere.

windows-8-kindle

 

OneNote MX

The OneNote allows you to take notes, screenshots, organize links and at the same time share them with everyone via internet. This version specifically designed for Windows 8 is Microsoft saying to the world:”Look guys, this is how we should build apps!” The interface is just phenomenal, and the new radial menu is a “Wow! moment”. If you haven't seen it, you must download it and give it a try or ask someone to demo it to you. You wont be disappointed.

windows-8-onenote-mx

 

Save the DATE

These are one of those cool little applications. If allows you to mark special dates in your calendar and show them as tiles in the start menu. Simple, small, focused in one task. Minimalistic and laser-sharp. Great effort by the team.

windows-8-save-the-date

 

SBS ON Demand

I only watch on average 3 hours of TV everyday, at most! SBS is one of my favourite channels because it is full of documentaries, news, current affairs shows and independent movies. This app brings all the TV shows to the Windows 8 so you can watch them online. Long gone are the days where we used to wait for a specific day of the week to watch a TV show. And this has a plus: No TV ads. If you want to save yourself a lot of time everyday, (giving up or) watching TV online is the way to go.

windows-8-sbs-on-demand

I hope you enjoyed this selection. If you would like to share a cool app you just found, feel free.

 

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Google StreetView em Fortaleza

O Google StreetView finalmente chega em Fortaleza, o que e’ sensacional. No mapa abaixo temos delineada Fortaleza com um tom mais escuro; por cima desse tom, temos o mapa do Google Street View em Fortaleza. Aparentemente entre 50% e 60% da cidade esta mapeada, o que e’ muito bacana. Espero que o Street View de bicicletas tambem chegue a tempo, mas acho que sera um pouco mais dificil ja que a cidade nao tem muita infraestrutura de bicicletas.

Outra coisa legal e’ que alem do Street View tambem e’ possivel ver como esta o transito da cidade.

fortaleza-google-street-view-mapa-map

Agora e’ procurar as marmotas que o Google fotografou pela cidade. Com certeza tem muitas cenas interessantes e imagino tambem que ja deve existir uma comunidade no Facebook para isso, mas como nao sou usuario regular nao posso confirmar. Quem tiver o link pode passar.

Algumas cenas curiosas pela cidade:

google-street-view-fortaleza google-street-view-fortaleza-2 google-street-view-fortaleza-5 

google-street-view-fortaleza-3 google-street-view-fortaleza-4

 

Abracos,

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Tips to Manage Email Overload

The other day I was talking to a colleague and he was complaining about being in a hurry. He said he was flooded with emails to reply. In fact he showed me his inbox and for my surprise he had 100+ unread emails!!  That’s just ridiculous. No one in their sane state can take care of that many conversations.

Let’s just take a step back and reflect: If one can’t manage your own email, how can she/he manage someone’s project?

So we started sharing some ideas about how to manage that information . Others joined in the chat and I had a chance to share some of my personal techniques. I thought the conversation was so good that I wanted to write about it so others could share as well.

One can manage his email as well, just like manage the twitter usage. Email is a dangerous tool, and because we as human beings like to connect, to communicate, we translate that need to the emails…but I will show you we don’t need to do this. Right-now I am working in a huge project, and my inbox is 100%processed. There are no emails for me to read or reply. This is a marvelous thing.

 

1st:Face-to-Face, 2nd: Telephone, 3rd:Email

In my daily routine, that’s what I try to organize my communication priority:

  • If I have something to communicate, first I try to talk to the person face to face. It is great in many ways. Makes you move, increases your interpersonal contact, works well in your engagement level. This is my first avenue to communicate.
  • If I can’t reach the person, my next option is to call. Just pickup the phone and find him/her; and…
  • only then, if I cannot reach the person and the message has to be passed, I send an email.

    This also helps me to set the right scenario for something I will mention later. In my opinion, nothing important happens on twitter, if something is really important you should try to communicate verbally. I am not guaranteeing this rule will work all the time, but for me, in my own experience, it has worked extremely well.

    And when I write the email, I try to:

  • Say what I have to say in less than 5 paragraphs and
  • Always put the question or main topic in the email in the very first sentence.

    My reasoning for that is neither I , or you or anyone should be spending too much time writing/reading emails. It is very hard to express emotionally via text, to set the context, to set the right perception. I always strive for a personal 1:1 communication above all.

     

    Have an Empty Inbox

    An empty inbox represents achievement for good work and discipline. Also, psychologically, sends a message to you that you are in control. And being in control is very important in our daily routine. You might not believe in this, but an empty inbox signals subconsciously that you are doing well in controlling the stream of information that hits you everyday.

    Likewise, an inbox with unread messages makes you come back to check, and check, and re-check your emails more often than necessary. By acting on it, you’re sending a strong message about a task you just marked as completed and then you’re free to do actual work. Again, never leave read email in your inbox. Check the inbox a few times a day. I check my emails about 4 times a day. If something is urgent, it will find me even if the mail server is down.

    Now, allow me to just be clear in one point here: You don’t have to read all the emails, but you must act on all the emails. Be it marking this email to read it later, or choosing to reply immediately, to choosing to delete it now etc.… the point is: every email must be acknowledged and processed.

    An unread email means you haven’t decided what to do with it. You can keep it there, that’s fine; but as soon as you know what to do with that email, act on it! and remove it from your inbox. Strive for a zero-email inbox.

     

    Once Reached You, Respond Faster

    Replying faster is one of the best decisions you can take everyday. Also It will help build a reputation in your professional circle, as someone who is “responsive”. That’s a great accomplishment. This is a great stepping stone to solidify your personal brand. After all, we are always selling something.

    The tricky part here is due to the fact that it is impossible to reply dozens of unread emails at the same time, but you can increase your responsiveness rate without becoming a slave to your inbox.

    From the oldest message to the most recent. If an email takes less than a minute to act on it, do it! whether is replying, deleting etc. If you can use replies like “Good idea. Thanks.”, “Sure, go ahead”, “Let’s have a chat about it over the phone. When can I call you?” it is even better. No need to make a message longer than it requires, no need for an elaborate response most of the times; just a good old phone call will suffice. You will realize that a lot of your messages fit in the minute timeframe.

     

    Schedule Meetings with Your Email

    Create a folder to organize messages by topics, people or projects and act on them together at specific times of the day. Mobiles, tablets, laptops etc.…We have way too many devices to check our emails that, honestly, adds more worrying and anxiety than benefits of being 24/7 connected. For a lot of people, the first thing the do in the morning is to check emails from work. Heck, people are even checking their work email in the bathrooms… in the actual office bathrooms!!

    Keep checking emails easily eat up a good portion of your daily time. Is not the end of the world if an email sits unread in your inbox a few hours.

     

    Never Say ‘No, I am Busy’; Rephrase It

    As a consultant one of the first skills you learn is to never say no to a client. If someone asks you to work on a task and you think you just don’t have the time right now (because… you know…sometimes you really don’t have the time!!!), try the following:

  • Ask for more details that the person thinks you will need to know before starting the task
  • Ask when is the deadline, if any.
  • Be upfront and explain how busy you are at the moment and when you think you will start.
  • Ask when the person would like to be updated about the progress

    Something like: “Look mate, things are pretty hectic right now and I’m on meetings until Friday. Can you tell me when is the deadline for this? Are you OK if this does not need to be started immediately? If you wish we can talk again about it this coming Monday.

    Basically what you are saying here is “look mate, I just can’t do it now; and here’s why. but if you can wait I am more than happy to help you.

    It is more professional, you set the right perception about your interest and it is definitely better than saying “No, I can’t because I am busy until Friday

     

    Important Things First; The Rest are Details

    There is a computer science law that states: “give a computer useless data, and it will return useless response”. How about to apply the same rule to email? Write clear/quicker, expect clear/quicker.

    If you have something to say/ask, be ruthless say it first. Say it clear and short. In the first paragraph. If need more details, then elaborate them across the rest of the email. One of the most frustrating scenes in the office is having to read a gigantic email only to find out in the last sentence what it is the person who wrote the message actually wants.

  • Always start the emails with the request or main message. Every time you write an email it means you are implying something or asking for something. If you don’t know your email possible responses, don’t write it.
  • Peer-check your email. If you are unsure about how the email is going to be received, send it first to someone to peer-check the content for you. Humans are not born writers, and you will be surprised how your message can be formatted in another way saying the same thing…because absolutely everything can be written in a better, more polite, nicer way.
  • Write Subject line with laser-focus. Most of the people will decide what they will read or not by the subject line. If your subject line is self explanatory and helps the reader to reply the answer, chances are they will process your email sooner. We live in a world where perceptions and first-impressions are very important, this applies also to new messages. Every email sets a first-impression. The subject line is like a headline in the newspaper. Gran that attention.
  • Each request is a bullet point. If you have several requests never write them one after the other, sequentially, in the same phrase. Break them down in bullet points. Part of your job in asking a question is also assisting with the answer. When you separate in bullet points you are also saying to your reader: “Look, these are the things WE need to find out. I’ve already listed them upfront for you. can you help me out?” It is a more engaging conversation and also takes the responsibility from whoever is asked the questions.

     

    Use <EOM>

    EOM=End of message. This is a great feature if what you are asking via email requires a short answer. For example, look at the following email email-1it could be written simply like that. email-2The <EOM> marker helps your reader because it saves their time. They know that there is nothing more to the message than that. You are setting the perception that there is a lot to read but you know how busy they are and you are helping them save their time. They know the email can be replied in literally a few seconds. No need to write more than the necessary.

     

     

    Email is Not To Be Instantaneous

    There is an addiction to the “there is a new message for you” warning and we hardly can control ourselves until we go check it immediately. But truth is, email was not designed to be instantaneous communication. If you start replying emails as soon as they arrive, because you want to be perceived as ON or Proactive; don’t!

    Let the people know that email is not instant messaging and should not be used as such;  let them know if they want instantaneous response, they should call you. If you don’t do this, you might fall in the trap to create the expectation that you will always answer their emails on the spot…and guess what, if you don’t the emails will just double in your inbox.

    Don’t even check email in real-time. Do not reply anything that’s not urgent.

     

    We Are Born to Talk 

    Email has no sound, no emotion, no emotional context; especially quick work-related emails. You don’t know the sender’s emotions, expressions, tone by the messages. Text messages in emails can hurt feelings unnecessarily. There is no point in not being nice everyday. People can be offended. Phrases can be taken in the wrong way. If something is important to be communicated via email between 2 people, talk! No need for emails, no need to play games, no need to hidden messages or need of expectations about what you want to hear.

     

    Be Careful with What You Write and Send to People

    Email is not private. Copies can be send to anyone. Don’t make it official controversial postures by writing an email that might come back to byte you in the future. Once you send an email, is like an arrow; it can’t be taken back. Every email is a document signed by you. If you feel the urge not to write something, don’t. It will save your time and will also avoid unnecessary emails arriving to you.

     

    The ‘TO Me’, ‘CC Me’, ‘VIP’ Folders

    That’s how I organize my mail box. Every time I go into a new customer the first thing I do with my Outlook or other email client is to setup these folders:

    to-cc-vip-folder

    1. TO folder: Keeps all the messages that contain my name in the TO field. These are messages from people asking things and wanting to hear directly from me. I read this folder about 4 times a day.
    2. CC folder: Keeps all the messages that contain my name in the CC field. These are generally people from my project, who wants to tell everyone about something but do not necessarily require an action from my part. Messages in this folder I read about once a day.
    3. VIP folder: I identify all the important people for my project; they are my VIPs. It is my boss at the client, people from the leadership, corporate communications, important managers etc. They have a special folder and deserve my immediate action. Messages in this folder I read according to the customer corporate culture.

    Truth is, most of the email in the CC does not reach me and can 99% of the time be ignored. Try this, you will love it and see how many people just send email to you because…just because.

    Also when I can, and when the customer corporate culture allows, I try not to read emails in the morning. This is an effective way I found to educate my colleagues about how to reach me for moments when they really need my action. The first time it will be a shock, they will come asking:”I asked you to do this, did not you read your email?”

    I then explain my reasoning and then we agree that if such a thing was really that important, I should have been contacted personally or at least via instant message. Works as a charm!

     

    These are some of the things I use to manage my mailbox. I hope they can be useful somehow to you as well.

     

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    Error: Oracle VirtualBox Cannot Start VHD Machine

    If you are having troubles making your VHD image working with the Oracle VM VirtualBox (IMHO the best desktop virtualization software for local machines) you might be able to see this message when trying to boot your VM. This message display for only a fraction of seconds, so it was a bit troublesome to capture this screenshot.

    vmware-oracle-virtual-box-error-vhd

    “a problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer. if this is the first time you’ve seen this stop error screen, restart your computer. If this screen appears again, follow these steps…”

    This is mainly because some versions of VirtualBox cannot identify the storage of the original VHD machine, specially if the VHD is a Windows Virtual Machine or a Hyper-V disc.

     

    If you are having this issue, here’s something you can try…

    To make it work, open your VirtualBox, and in the settings check if the VHD was attached as SATA or SCSI. If yes, remove this controller (SATA or SCSI) and attach the VHD to an IDE Controller. Make sure the hard disk is the IDE Primary Slave.

    vmware-oracle-virtual-box-error-vhd-2

    Click OK and off you go. I hope it helped you save some time trying to figure it out “what the heck is going on why my VM does not start on Virtual Box”

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    How to Protect Your Kids Online with Windows 8

    If you’re father, like myself, sooner or later you will start to worry about the surfing habits of your kids. Internet is now something ubiquitous, for a whole new generation there is no distinction between life online and offline. They are always connected. In a way these kids are like an open door letting all kinds of information come into their domain. When all the information coming in is safe and constructive, that’s awesome…unfortunately, not everything is safe for them.

     

    The Importance of Safe Internet Surfing for Kids

    I am not going to advocate against block all the information access. Truth is if they are curious enough, they will find in a way or the other, such is the power of the social networking. And out there, lurking in the shadows are hackers, spammers, phishing scams, virus threats, spyware threats, paedophiles.. all kinds of threats that can inflict heavy damage to a normal family like. The problem is not the kids, the problem is that they can’t most the time clearly distinguish between a nice person and a bad person (which is for all matters until we discover a ‘nice person with bad intentions’). The 2 most common types of attacks involving kids online are: (but not limited to)

    • Hacking, by using someone’s else computer to perform harm against someone of something, with or without financial gains or personal injury. Mostly the times they aim to hit the person and finances.
    • Sexual Predators and Pornography, by the easy access to pornographic content or internet chat rooms where predators can apply their techniques to lure unaware kids to their reach. Several of paedophiles were arrested in these virtual locations. Internet pornography probably one of the bigger threats to the online kids

     

    How Windows 8 Can Help to a Safer Online Experience

    Microsoft has a long story of fighting the online crime and threats. They are also probably the company that spends more investments in online safety in the world, beating even specialized online security companies. Windows 8 has all the online security tools that you need to technically protect your devices against malicious behaviour: A top-class firewall, built-in anti-virus, access to encrypted connections and the most advanced data encryption you can find…however all this is not enough if you don't educate your kids about online safety. You can do this in many ways, I am going to enumerate 2:

    • Teaching them, in an open conversation, about the real possibilities of a malicious element
    • Monitoring what they do online while they learn their ways in the internet.

     

    How Can Windows 8 Help You Monitor Your Kids Internet Surfing

    Before we go ahead, the monitor word might sound too heavy for the new generation. Monitoring normally is associated with: big brother, cut in civil liberties, prison etc… so let’s make an agreement upfront: When we talk about monitoring, is the same kind of monitoring you do when your kids are crossing the street to go to school, or the same kind of monitoring you do when you are teaching your kids to ride a bicycle. Monitoring as mentoring and advising.

    When you get your PC, tablet or device with Windows 8 installed go to the Charms and select “Search”. Type “Users” and when the options come up, select “Users”. This will lead you to the create new user option. The idea here is to create a new user to be used by your kid when he/she access the internet.

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-10

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-11

    You are going to create a user for your kids. Windows 8 requires to associate a valid email to everybody. If your little ones don’t have an email, create one for them with a secure password.

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-13

    That’s it. Next time your kids want to surf the web, let them use their own user, not yours. You are still the administrator of the computer and you will have all sorts of tools to monitor their online surfing.

     

    Family Safety Online Reports

    From time to time you will then receive an email with a report about their usage.

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-14

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-8

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-9

    This will give you access to an incredibly powerful tool to monitor your kids activities online…and Free. With that tool you can do all sorts of configurations to adjust their behaviour to their usage profile without your kids knowing. It tells you:

    • which websites they have accessed
    • how many times,
    • which searches they did on google, bing, yahoo etc

     

    Family Summary

    with the same tool, you can have access to a Family Summary, which gives you access to all the accounts in your family and access to their usage report. I do recommend that as soon as you can you make yourself and your partner the administrators of your kids accounts.

    Also the report will tell you not only all the computers used by them at home, but also if they have accessed by mobile or other tablets. All the usage data will be centralized into a single location.

     family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-1

     

    Activity Reporting

    This is the higher level report which groups all the family members and their activities online. From here you can drill-down to get more details. At first this report will show you:

    • all the websites accessed during the week, when they were accessed (with time and date) and if the website had any malicious content,
    • which application was used to access the website (chrome, internet explorer, etc..)

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-2

    If something looks suspicious, like for example an application with a dodgy name you never heard about it,  you can in choose to block that application immediately for only that person (your kids) or for everyone at home, if you think is the best decision.

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-3

     

    Time Limits

    This is probably my favourite feature. Here you can enforce time limits for your kids internet usage. If you have kids and tried to tell them to stop using the computer, or the videogame or the TV you have probably realised how difficult to manage this can be. Which can vary from little crying to powerful-royal-tantrum-throwing.

    Here at home, I enforced that my kids can only use my tablet 3 hours per day. No more than that. So, it means that when I arrive at home from work I give them my tablet and then I go to make dinner, shower, watch some TV etc…and they might be entertained with the device….however when the time is up, it is up! They are automatically locked and they cannot use the device. It works as a charm because they don't see this as your fault, but as a computer’s rule. and while they can argue with you, they cannot with a computer. Kids stop surfing, you stop worrying. Win-Win!

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-4

    additionally to that, you can establish not only how many hours they can use the computer everyday but also which days they can use and between which hours they can use. This is truly marvellous. A curfew for your kids online surfing, Anything outside these times, and they cannot use the computer at all.

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-5

    All these computer systems usage controls are extremely valuable and found in very complex enterprise systems, and now Windows 8 is making them available for us at home.

     

    Downloads and Parental Content Classification

    One of the most important features for modern TVs and programs is the implementation of parental controls in the TV Show itself. It allows people to configure the TV to automatically block any content based on their classification. Today you can for example configure your TV to automatically do not display TV shows that have sex scenes, nudity, violence etc. You can control this because the TV show itself brings the classification and parental control in the signal.

    Now, all Windows 8 applications have a signature for classification and parental control as well, and Windows 8 can filter content based in that signature. The screen below shows the current classification of the Australian Broadcasting Authority. It means that every thing that’s downloaded from the internet store only can be used by your kids if the parental control allows. That’s helps us to have piece of mind.

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-6

     

    Ad-Hoc Restrictions

    and to top it all, you can still select to block any installed application, regardless of the reason…simply because you can! If you think something should not be used by your kids, just block it.

    family-safety-internet-windows-8-for-kids-7

     

    In Conclusion…

    Clearly Microsoft is continuously to invest in this area since the frontiers of work and play are more and more blurry in our connected world and more and more kids are living their lives connected via multiple devices, weather is via tablets, laptops or mobiles..

    I completely understand that “to each head, its sentence” and that online safety means different things to different families. Some parents just want to have a chat with their kids and ask them what they do online and trust them; some parents wants to have full control of what they do or don’t do online…and I am not going to discuss such merit here, but what I have to add is that a safer online experience for kids comes down to awareness and education, and IMHO having access to such features in Windows 8 really makes our lives easier.

     

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