Connected cows and Windows 10: Microsoft Tech Net Sydney

Microsoft experts talked Windows 10, Microsoft Cloud OS and the Microsoft Internet of Things strategy in Sydney. 

IoT: cows with wearable ear tags for health and movement tracking

Raspberry Pi -windows 10 light sensor demo

Cortana is still learning how to speak Australian: mobile demo

You can also help build Windows 10 alongside PC experts, IT pros, and developers around the world by joining the Windows Insider Program.

Enterprise cloud team management that actually works

On Wednesday I went to a Microsoft Biz Data executive breakfast where CIO Dave Rumsey and CFO John Mackenney from Tourism Australia presented on their move to Azure cloud platform for BI. 

CIO and CFO Tourism Australia -Azure
I’ve sat through a lot of these project showcase things now and most of it is utter rubbish and people stand up and take credit for a broken system they didn’t even work on and lie about how successful it all was. 

You’ll be pleased to know this was not one of those sessions. 

myTA user walk through Sharepoint-Azure

Both Dave and John had a very practical understanding of how global, centralising systems and reporting works which started with the main problem enterprises face: people love Excel. So everyone has a little Excel spreadsheet they budget and report and do their washing in and their is no centralised way of using information for decisions.

I was very impressed with how sensible the solutions were and how they kept saying ‘we are a marketing organisation’ and ‘we are a media organisation’ so the main purpose of the system is to aid with campaign management and stakeholder management. Old systems were turned off. Report formats were standardised across global teams. I think sometimes with all the smug-ness around anti-meeting and anti-project culture we can forget that people talking to each other, clarifying what the issues are, figuring out what's trying to be achieved is work  and really important work that saves everyone freestyling off on their own and losing any benefits of centralised cloud systems. 

Choirs of angels and big gold stars for Dave and John who managed to actually work together and put together a cross-functional, shared analyst team so campaign management e.g. adobe web traffic data is linked to budget management finance data for ROI. What that means is that a digital analyst sits in the same team as a finance analyst ‘because it all connects back’. Yes it does. Thank you for being clever. And before you say ‘well that’s ok for them because they are a big org and have lots of money’, Tourism Australia only has 200 employees and four analysts so that’s not huge really. 

As I mentioned to the Microsoft man next to me who kept trying to show me how great Cortana is, “it’s almost as if they like each other” and I think the main reason their system implementation worked is because Dave and John might actually like each other and enjoy working together. I could be wrong but when you get a CFO and CIO who actually talk to each other and make decisions, a nasty ERP 18 month rollout turns into a charming and insightful breakfast presentation with blueberries. Well done. 

A very demanding blog post

I first noticed this the other morning on a bus going to physio. A man boarded the bus and sat next to a young woman across from me. She was late twenties, early thirties, he would have been early fifties perhaps? She was reading something on her phone and looked like any regular commuter on her way to work. 

The man said some sort of ‘good morning’ type greeting and she returned the pleasantry and continued to read whatever she was reading on her phone. 

The man then asked her a question and she did the weak smile response thing. He repeated the question and she did the correct thing in my opinion…she blanked him. 

He then had a spray at her how she was obviously more interested in looking at her phone then talking to him and that he found women like her boring and that was the problem with ‘people like her’ who look at their phones all day and can’t have a proper conversation on a bus. 

She continued to blank him. 

I noticed a similar interchange with three young university students (also girls) who were sitting in Starbucks. A man (much older and uglier than said three university students..look it was just a David Attenborough observation) tried to spark up some sort of asking questions directions type situation and they ignored him and continued to laugh and play around on their Snapchat accounts. He similarly vented that they were ‘rude little b’arches’ and sulked off. 

Not to be left out, I had a similar encounter this week sitting in a corporate building lift lobby watching ABC News on one of those big communal area TVs. 

‘What are you watching?’

‘Just the news’

‘What is the cricket score?’

‘I don’t know, there will probably be some sports news on’

‘It’s the weather. the sport news has been on. What did they say the cricket score was on the sport news?’

‘I don’t know sorry’

‘I was just going to get the cricket score’

‘You can change it if you want’

‘How do you change it?’

So then I too went into blank mode. Change the channel or go away I don’t care.

‘How do you change it?’

‘how do you change the channel. do you think I can get cricket on this? Where are you from? Do you follow the cricket?’

(listen buddy don’t make this sound as if this is some sort of personal benefit you are providing to me you crashed in on my peaceful war in Middle East news watching)

Annoyed with my blanking, the cricket man did the venting ‘hey I’m just trying to be friendly but if you would rather just look at your phone’ thing and I was left wondering how my sitting quietly minding my own business had suddenly gone all Gaza IRL.  

I don’t have to talk to you.
I remember thinking that when I saw the first girl on the bus. 
She doesn’t have to talk to you. 

Her preference to sit quietly and read stuff on her phone or stare into space or whatever is no more or less of a thing than your preference to chat. The university students at Starbucks were having fun on Snapchat with their friends. I was quite happy watching the news and tapping away at an email. I probably have more human interactions with people over an average month than most people because I go to a lot of events. I go to church on Sunday. I like people and I talk to a lot of people but sometimes, I want to have some thinking space to myself and/ or talk to someone who might not be physically there. I don’t think it’s being rude…is it? 

I’ll do the pleasant thing but if you don’t have the social skills to interpret when someone is in the middle of something important like staring into space then that’s your problem. And before you say it, no I don't think he was trying to chat me up or the bus situation one either was (the Starbucks one... probs yes), I think they were just people who weren't very considerate. Note I think the real-world chatters were the ones being rude and not the often-accused mobile users.

Perhaps something even more interesting is going on here and smartphones are empowering women to reclaim their own headspace?  Goodness where did that come from. 

so demanding

Maybe it’s got nothing to do with gender or smartphones and new social etiquettes are forming around the Attention Economy and some people just don’t get that attention is something you have to earn and people are starting to realise this and value theirs. Good communicators will be rewarded. Rude talkers who barge in with their own agenda be it to talk to girls, check the cricket score or sell computer software will be blanked. The Gen Y’s love people, are very social and have great human connections, they just might want some time out or to chat quietly about the things they like and in a non-demanding way. Is that just me?


Not a cloud in the skynet for Australian CSOs

I went to a security conference which was great because I have dedicated a large part of my career to going around company IT security systems so it was nice to know who I had been avoiding detection from. 

Friendly CSO people at Daltone House, Hyde Park Sydney

Going around the company systems has got easier over the years with cloud apps and smartphones so I kind of thought a truce had been called with security and they knew that if things are a pain, employees will just spend two hours on Monday morning configuring their desktop to go around all the firewalls and app blocks for the week- hypothetically speaking….

Wired's Kim Zetter presenting on Stuxnet which was initially installed via usb stick by the looks

As it turns out, I was wrong and the company systems and plans for future systems sounded very much like the old ones you know and don’t love. 

Five things I heard from security types at Sydney CSO

1. People in our company can use anything they like, so long as it’s Blackberry that we issued

2. BYOD is a hassle so we just keep saying no, I don’t see the point

3. We will never have cloud email because it’s not secure

4. It’s Gen Y just wanting to use Facebook at work who keep going around our systems

5. Nothing has really changed- we’ll be running Windows/Citrix just different versions

A desktop based workforce with Windows/Citrix, a company Blackberry phone and limited apps pre determined by your tier when you join the company still seemed to be the model everyone was using which is not that surprising but the total lack of appetite to actually change and consider other products and models did surprise me. 

Consumerisation of IT is real

When I mentioned to one group that Fairfax Media (yes I used to work for them) implemented BYOD and Google Apps, a table of security experts blinked at me and my strange other-worldly information. Yes there are other, non-Windows products. Yes BYOD can work. No, they didn't have a lot of money. Yes I used to spend every Monday re-gearing my Windows/Citrix computer to go around the company's old system because none of the apps I needed to use would run in the company approved browsers. 

BYOD iPad with company email? Nope. “we can’t wipe it”

But does the workforce have decent tools like laptops and smartphones? “they have a laptop with 3G on it”

Can employees check Facebook at work? “the young ones bring their own phone and check it on the guest wifi network”

It was as if the cloud has not arrived in the company security team and if it has, it’s certainly not being considered as part of a serious architecture. High profile hacks like Sony and Target may have spooked some people but to me, that’s more about isolating and protecting the valuable stuff (payroll, credit card systems) and letting people frolic around in the not so risky stuff like third party productivity apps and web tools. Super secure email is only as secure as a user hitting the Forward button and the most vulnerable areas are probably shared printer networks that nobody really bothers to check anyway. Smartphones that automatically backup to cloud drives and personal document management in Dropbox seemed to be conveniently not included in CSO architectures, even though everyone knows that’s how most employees work. 

So if you’ve been hibernating for the last 10 years don’t fear, the enterprise work environment will still look very familiar to you- the clouds are still far, far away. 

The one thing you can do today to properly understand social media

If you want to understand how social media works, listen to the Facebook earnings calls. I tell people this.They don’t listen to me. 

That’s why I’m happy to tell you my little secret here, because you probably would rather pay two thousand dollars to go to a half day workshop and listen to people who aren’t Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg talk about social media. That’s up to you. 

Facebook has the family lunchbox users and Twitter wants them
And then Sheryl would have explained to you that social media is still a very small part of most brand’s marketing mix and that there is still a big job to do with marketers getting them to understand how to use and measure the ad products to demonstrate ROI. That would have explained to you the Twitter Australia/ Nielsen TV presentation last night and also the overly sorry apology from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo for not zapping enough trolls because they need to reposition Twitter as family friendly. The proactive communications machine roared into life well before the Twitter earnings results this morning which showed that, other than the Google deal, there wasn't much to say. 

Tony-hater of keyboard warriors, the Internet, coffee and the future of the free world
Apparently the Twitterati trolling politicians like former Prime Minister of Australia Tone Abetz for calling social media ‘electronic graffiti’ is not good content for top media buyer Woolworths selling 85 cent loaves of bread to working families so everyone needs to be a bit nicer so Twitter can attract newer, more gentle, kid’s lunchbox users and take some TV ad revenue. You would have heard Mark Zuckerberg explain very clearly to you that social media updates started as text and then went to photos- where Facebook got the big mainstream growth surge from- and that the next wave is mobile video. So if you want to make your posts to rank well on Facebook, perhaps you could post a video? Just a thought… 

If you are the one person that heeds my advice, then the Twitter earnings call this morning is a walk in the park to understand. You would have heard Sheryl talk about the growth of video on mobile and instantly understood why Twitter have incorporated video into their mobile app this week. 

You would have heard Mark talk about search and providing a search experience that ‘nobody else on the internet can provide’. By that he means Google. So then you would understand why Twitter has restarted their deal with Google to index data for search because everyone seems to go through the process of figuring out that a walled garden always seems like a good idea for ad revenue but it’s a big fail for content and discovery. 

Next gen products-mobile, visual, hyper social friend networks
You would have heard Sheryl talk about ‘next generation’ products like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and understand why Twitter launched group direct message functionality.You would have heard the Facebook CFO chappie Dave say (at great speed) that ad prices went up 300%, mainly due to growth in mobile video ads and because they can measure stuff better now. Um what? Yes the prices are going up. 

It’s brilliant, Facebook tells you everything. You have to be a bit more Turing code-breaker to pick the winners in the Google call because it’s basically everything they aren’t talking about that’s interesting. Analysts are spooned up some token numbers about ad network rates that don’t really mean much and then there’s a dismissive hand waggle to ‘emerging non-ad business’ and Google for Work’s plans to take over the world with their operating systems and work tools …look at the self-driving magic Noddy cars everyone!

Today, Facebook is setting the pace in social, definitely in a commercial sense and arguably in an innovation sense and they are worth listening to to give you clarity about the big chunky things that matter in the industry whether you personally like Facebook as a platform or not. 

But that’s up to you. 

Asia Pacific average page load times mobile versus broadband

Akamai have added some situational performance metrics in their latest state of the internet report. 

What’s the situation? 
Countries with super fast broadband like Hong Kong have high -what Akamai have called- mobile penalty. A mobile page takes 2.9x longer to load than a page on broadband. 

Figure 41: Average Page Load Times Based on Real User Monitoring

If you stop and think about it, it would be easy to think Hong Kong =fast internet so we can use lots of HD video and we only have to worry about low bandwidth for places like Vietnam. Then you look at Vietnam and see it has the same mobile penalty as South Korea, a traditionally fast internet type place and realise that the gap between broadband and mobile is the thing and not just the total speed. 

So if you are designing for the sophisticated Samsung Galaxy Y Hello Kitty BFF Smartphone business user in Hong Kong, it would be more like Vietnam and less like South Korea in terms of mobile page load, even though the broadband speeds are really different. I think it just really shows too the limitation of of thinking regionally as there are big differences between say Malaysia and Philippines in this data even though they are close together geographically and both very fond of all things Hello Kitty.

Akamai State of the internet

The real reason I love screenshots

alt title: screenshots are amazing and I love them
how to screenshot on a mac
why did they make it so hard to screenshot on a mac?
just get over yourselves and get a print screen button give Bill some credit he’s doing good with AIDS and Ebola

I’m a big screenshotter which is mainly because there are lots of things on the social web that are really hard to explain in words and wouldn’t make sense even if you were super amazing at describing them. It’s like reverse Pictionary or something. 

I know designers HATE screenshots because they are low res and pixelated and then sometimes I run a screenshot through a filter just to to really make them cry but to me, it’s just pointing you to something on the web and if you want to go and see the real one then go online and look at it. What makes social media different is the peer to peer, two way communication thing so you need to show comment reactions and how users are interacting with your content. That's the super important thing that matters. So for your pizza delivery presentation which is the best image? 

A: Pretty Getty images proper image with nice lighting and happy people and high res and big file

I am Dan your fake model pizza guy, here is your fake pizza

knock knock

B: Crappy mobile screenshot run through a filter and mashed together on some collage tool with another mobile photo so it's all blurry

Of course A is the better photo but B actually shows you the customer interacting with the pizza company. Which image gives you more insight? B. B tells you that your delivery person might be a woman and might be going to probably harmless but slightly TMI customers in their undies watching Bond films. B tells you the person ordered on mobile. B is real. 

Screenshots are the best way of showing what's really happening so don’t waste you time (like I used to) trying to recreate pretty graphics and diagrams, for internal documents especially. It’s a massive time soak and today, I am officially done with the anti-screenshot people. 

We are done

No good times for New York Times but some of us are smiling

"The Times will hit another milestone — 900,000 — in paid digital subscribers in the upcoming Q4, up from the 875,000 at which it finished the third quarter. That will represent almost 3 percent of the Times domestic unique visitors of 31 million...
More than half of The New York Times’ traffic is now mobile, up from about 33 percent a year ago”

Those are some numbers from the New York Times Co. Q3 earnings release and there is some hard reading in there and a lot of 'loss' and 'decline' stuff. The Times always gets picked over mainly because it seemed to represent ‘the one that would survive’. 

-It had the brand. We wrote reports about the future of news brands and destination URLs. Trusted brands.

-It had high quality journalists with personal brands that would drive traffic. 

-It had a huge subscriber base that would be converted to digital through magazine style formats on iPad. Readers would pay money for this new digital magazine iPad app thing and everyone could return to their corner office and pick up their dry-cleaning to go to the media awards. It’s at the casino. Can you get my EA to order a taxi please? 

Three percent conversion isn’t much though is it for all that effort to run a news operation? Sounds like an email marketing campaign. And the print subs are really crashing out now. 

So now the reality is hitting and a quick read through the earnings release will show you keywords like “restructuring”, “layoffs” and "losses". Lots written about the loss of this and the loss of that. 
YouTuber Troye Sivan and his parentals

What we didn’t factor in:

-Facebook as the primary driver of news site traffic

-People reading the news on their mobile phone screens and snacking on links their friends curated on social sites

-Buzzfeed running newsrooms with way less cost and way more agility and way more cats

-Teenagers on YouTube running their own media channels from their parent's house

New Zealand fur seal sunbathing on Sydney Opera House VIP entrance steps. Like a VIP.  

The social web. 

Your friends (IRL and URL) as your editors of choice. A distributed information network run by people with little computers in their pocket who lol'd and commented and shared all day long. All bloody day long on the social things. Nobody predicted it would happen this quick and it makes me quite happy. It makes me happy because I was seeing things that I couldn't really explain in a report in any commercial way but I knew they were happening. I knew I got my news from Twitter and my info was running about a day ahead of mainstream media. I knew there were people I followed (and still do) who I have no idea about them or what they do but I just really like their social streams. It's sad panda that people have to lose their jobs and all that but then, I had to walk away from projects too because I could see a wave was building and the teams I was working with weren't in a position to catch it. I wasn't in a position to catch it and I had to paddle out and hope like hell my imaginary wave was there. It is there and it's real and that makes me happy. I'm sorry if you aren't pleased about the changes but for some of us, this is very good news because we made choices (with very real consequences) a few years back and they are now paying off. Reading this release made me realise I'd made the right choices and I really like the new media environment much more anyway. 

Good times. 

Marketing software to self-educating customers

Users are getting a bit more clever and they want to research and try things for themselves before they commit to the full assault of your sales team. 

"Cisco’s customers were beginning to purchase and use technology in new ways. Increasingly, tech-savvy business managers, instead of just IT professionals, were making buying decisions; user-generated applications were being added on top of the basic technology; cloud computing was becoming prominent; and digital media was becoming a key influence in deciding which technologies to purchase. Customers were self-educating and researching buying decisions in new ways – not just with a sales person."

Self-educating customers, the horror. I'm always moaning that enterprise software companies make you sit through half day demos and then you get to the end and you can't have a play around. Two things I came across today that are good. Splunk. See these guys are smart enough to create a sandpit for you to have go with. Very good, everyone do this please

grab your dataz and have a go
product info and play area

Number two is this launch campaign from Adobe for Premier Clip. It’s a free mobile movie making app that aims to make video more accessible and useable for those that don't want to go hard out with Final Cut Pro. 

#madewithclip Purrrmiere -get it hahaa 

I really like the video with the marketing team explaining their products and the simple walk throughs that encourage users to download straight away and try for themselves.  

Content is all tagged up and optimised nicely. Personal and useful and makes everything look easy and fun while still maintaining the product quality of Adobe Creative Cloud. Most excellent blog links through to themed user content 

Think about products and tools that you use regularly and how you originally came across them. Self education is getting more crucial for marketers so always think how you can get your products into the hands of your users ASAP before their little minds wander off to the land of cat gifs --ooo look it's Maru (=^‥^=)

no1 best cat on the internet Maru

Twitter Digits designed for people like Steve Wozniak

Twitter Digits pleases me greatly. 

I started using Twitter on a dumb phone via the SMS thing where you text your tweets. It seems like an age ago but that to me has always been the power of Twitter- the ability to communicate openly and efficiently via SMS. When all sorts of display ads started appearing about the desktop and mobile versions I thought this could be the end of the great era of low-juice social media that Twitter is so good at and ultimately, their demise. Enabling third party developers to use their SMS technology sort of corrects two weird tacks that twitter took- booting out all the third party developers (like one of my favourite products Twitcleaner -tears) and getting so rich media heavy that it wasn’t the nimble messaging beast that it used to be. 

One of the drivers here is that people in emerging smartphone markets might not have an email address so by allowing app developers to use their Digits protocol for free, they can get online which is pretty ace. 

Are people going to hand out their mobile phone numbers willy nilly to lots of app companies?

We were a bit cagey about email addresses there for a while and it’s become so standard that you have to have an email to sign in that people have just sort of given up and give it out for everything. By ‘people’ I mean me. I usually give the old 555 5555555 in web mobile forms because I don’t want to give it out and I regularly change sim cards which is a pain for two factor authentication and why I don’t use that so much but I think the new era of internet users might have a different idea about their mobile number as a primary contact? 

Let’s look at the use case for this random interwebber mister steve wozniak -whoever he is. [am i just pointing out that steve wozniak commented on my G+ post? - yes I am]. We can see in the footer of this-obviously novice-computer person that the email is hashed out but the phone numbers are visible. What a n00b. 

This reckless user clearly has no concern for privacy and doesn't get how the internet works because he also checked in to his hotel room using the exact room number on Twitter/Swarm app. Wow I think those technology companies need to take some responsibility to educate users about their data. This old guy is just pushing rando buttons all over the place. His kids probably bought him an iPhone for Christmas to take on his big holiday to Australia and now he wants to stay on a 'distinguished talent' visa. Dude better learn how to work his iPhone first. 

Poor guy might get targeted for burglars or something. The weird people on Tinder or the terrorists might get him. Terrorists in burqas on Tinder- I'm sure that's a thing. Either way, I blame the technology companies and Miley Cyrus. 

So yes, I think people will give out their mobile numbers more just like late-adopter Steve Wozniak and Digits is a very good thing and Twitter will live long and prosper and that will be great. 

[Also- Tony Abbott, please give Steve Wozniak a visa thank you].