Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Microsoft Vists, Longhorn, and evolution of operating systems

Microsoft recently released Beta 3 of Longhorn, the Windows Server replacement for the Windows Server 2003 operating system. In digging through some of the historical details, I discovered that operating system evolution is still of major importance.

For example, the Vista code base was reset to Windows Server 2003 in early 2004. With Vista released in Jan 2007 and Longhorn continuing development there is synergy in the common code base between the "client" (Vista) and the "server" (Windows Server). Of course it makes perfect sense to operate in this coordinated fashion, but I think that it escapes the typical media reporting of Microsoft events. Where it goes from here is the expected release of Longhorn in the last half of 2007 and an expected release of Vista Service Pack 1 without a date, but obviously with some linkage to Longhorn development.

ComputerWorld reviewed the Beta 3 Longhorn release in early May. The review was positive and highlighted several significant enhancements including:
  • Windows Server Virtualization
  • Server Manager
  • Terminal Services
  • Server Core
  • Internet Information Services 7.0
  • Branch office scenario enablement - incorporating security issues
  • ... and a laundry list of security enhancements, tool enhancements, and availability improvements
  • (I've seen other references to Active Directory changes as a key improvement)

The conclusion by Jonathan Hassell:

"My impressions of this release: Windows Server Longhorn is a major upgrade, one that promises benefits and advantages for a wide swath of shops across the world. Depending on where your heavy technology investments are, or how your company and its IT infrastructure are laid out, you'll find a lot to like -- and little to dislike."

Friday, May 04, 2007

APress - computer book publisher with the right approach

Ok - computer application books are a dime a dozen and even though they look good in the bookstore - by the time you crack the cover, the reality is the first few chapters cover the basics, the middle of the book covers some good info ... but not in enough detail to get you past the first roadblock (back to Google for answers!), and the final "advanced topics" chapters aren't (advanced ... of course they are "final").

Apress caught my eye in the bookstore today with a couple of uniquely titled Excel books (pivot tables and database functions). The books cut right to the chase and into the meat of the topic. No generic how to find the power button Chapter 1! Their website has the tagline "books for professionals by professionals". The website also contains sample chapters, table of contents, and source code files. Great way to check out the details.

Books that caught my eye:
A Complete Guide to PivotTables: A Visual Approach
Excel 2007: Beyond the Manual
and Beginning Python: From Novice to Professional which has potential application for writing data analysis detectlets in Picalo.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Presentations ... and PowerPoint of course

Presentations are a fact of life. A comedy video on what not to do with PowerPoint caught my eye. Don McMillian is an engineer turned stand up comic .... working in PowerPoint!

PowerPoint as a comedy routine!

A somewhat more serious take on PowerPoint and presentation tips in general is nicely illustrated by Garr Reynolds. His insight is to step back and
  1. begin with the end in mind - what do you want the audience to walk away with
  2. simple is good - how about 3 take aways
  3. simple is also good for slides - sometimes communicate only with a number. Or a picture. Or a word.
  4. high quaility graphics are necessary. Dump the ppt templates (yes!!)
  5. use color and fonts effectively
  6. audio and video are multimedia tools that may enhance. I think in terms of clips and break the flow, i.e. get your audiences attention.

Also some commen sense (which isn't always so common) delivery tips.

Garr Reynolds also links to several other videos about presentation skills on his blog: PresentationZen . Also goes back to that old reliable resource: a flip chart in "Flip charts as visual enhancers"! Great stuff!!