Live Mesh ‘rocks’ my world

 

Like many people today, I use multiple computers and use multiple mobile devices (Mobile Phone, iPod etc).  I have a designated ‘work’ PC, a Dell laptop and an Apple Macbook laptop (which I think of as a ‘lifestyle computer’). My lifestyle computer carries all of my digital media – music, pictures and video. My Windows Mobile phone carries all of my Outlook contacts and syncs my content from my Dell Laptop.  My iPod connects to my Macbook. As you can see, I spend time in the content management space. But I’m not alone.

One of the biggest issues I have, is keeping my digital life synced. The above scenario, is just one consumer’s perspective. What about a small business? Today, more people are working from a greater number of computer devices. There soon comes a need to backup. Sharing and syncing content is a headache.  Of course, there are options. Copy data to memory sticks or email data to yourself. Functional solutions but hardly elegant Microsoft’s Live Mesh platform can help consumers and businesses in data management – Best of all it is free.

I dream of a day when my data is stored in the cloud. No matter, which device I pick up, it recognises who I am and securely logs me on to the Internet.  My files are copied over to my device and are available wherever I go. Live Mesh, is a first step to that dream.

Live Mesh is currently invite only :-((  But signup over at www.mesh.com or www.sharemesh.com for chances to signup to the technical beta

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Microsoft announces Live Mesh and it’s very groovy

 

Major hat tip to Steve Clayton

Live Mesh is an ambitious initiative — it combines a software platform and a service. Live Mesh follows on from Ray Ozzie’s mission on Software + Services. Ozzie has been setting the stage for Live Mesh since October 2005, when he outlined his thoughts, in his “Internet Services Disruption” memo to the Microsoft troops.

Steve notes that the design goals for Live Mesh are to have:

  1. Your devices work together
  2. Your data and applications available from anywhere
  3. The people you need to connect with just a few clicks away for sharing and collaborating
  4. The information you need to stay up-to-date and always be available
  5. The Live Mesh blog captures it nicely with their tagline – Here, There, Everywhere.

I’m truly excited about Live Mesh and look forward to using it soon!

The blogosphere is going mental at the moment regarding Live Mesh. Here are some notable blog posts:

Steve Clayton – Steve’s Mesh Coverage

Mary Jo-Foley – Ten things to know about Microsoft’s Live Mesh

Scoble – Ray Ozzie delivers with Live Mesh

Ray Ozzie on Channel 9

Amit Mital’s blog post

Channel 10

Live Mesh blog

Live Mesh architecture

 

Ray Ozzie delivered a memo to Microsoft employees on Live Mesh. You can read the excerpt.  (The full version is also available below)

Excerpt:

Central to this strategy is our embrace of both a world of the web and a world of devices. Over the past ten years, the PC era has given way to an era in which the web is at the center of our experiences – experiences delivered not just through the browser but also through many different devices including PCs, phones, media players, game consoles, set-top boxes and televisions, cars, and more.

Guiding Principles
There are three overarching principles guiding our services strategy – principles informing the design and development of products being implemented across all parts of Microsoft, for both individuals and business.

1. The Web is the Hub of our social mesh and our device mesh.

The web is first and foremost a mesh of people. . . . All applications will grow to recognize and utilize the inherent group-forming aspects of their connection to the web, in ways that will become fundamental to our experiences. In scenarios ranging from productivity to media and entertainment, social mesh notions of linking, sharing, ranking and tagging will become as familiar as File, Edit and View. . . . To individuals, the concept of “My Computer” will give way to the concept of a personal mesh of devices – a means by which all of your devices are brought together, managed through the web, as a seamless whole.

2. The Power of “Choice” as business moves to embrace the cloud.

Most major enterprises are in the early stages of a significant infrastructural transition – from the use of dedicated and sometimes very expensive application servers, to the use of virtualization and commodity hardware to consolidate those enterprise applications on computing and storage grids constructed within their data center. . . . Driven in large part by the high-scale requirements of consumer services, the value of this utility computing model is most clearly evident in cloud-based internet services.

Software built explicitly to provide a significant level of server/service symmetry will afford choice and flexibility in developing, operating, migrating and managing such systems in highly varied enterprise deployment environments that are distributed and federated between the enterprise data center and the internet cloud.

3.Small Pieces Loosely Joined for developers, within the cloud and across a world of devices.

Application design patterns at both the front- and back-end are transitioning toward being compositions and in some cases loose federations of cooperating systems, where standards and interoperability are essential. . . . At a higher level, myriad options exist for delivering applications to the user: The web browser, unique in its ubiquity; the PC, unique in how it brings together interactivity/experience, mobility and storage; the phone, unique in its extreme mobility. Developers will need to build applications that can be delivered seamlessly across a loosely coupled device mesh by utilizing a common set of tools, languages, runtimes and frameworks – a common toolset that spans from the service in the cloud to enterprise server, and from the PC to the browser to the phone.

 

Here is the full memo (Via TechCrunch):

 

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Facebook Chat launches

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I’m a little scared this morning. I logged into Facebook and noticed the much rumoured Facebook IM has now launched!

Some days I just want to unplug!

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Twitter co-founders interviewed by Shel Israel

Shel Israel interviews Twitter’s co-founders and shares some interesting insights into how people are using the service. Twitter can be described as, “a social utility which connects with people who they already know, or are interested in”.

Of all the emerging tools of social media, Twitter is the most conversational. The mobile SMS service allows people to chat in compact bite sized 140-character blocks. Some use it 20-30 times or more per day and some even have thousands of followers. But the average user only posts three times a day and chats only with a few friends.

Some businesses are also using Twitter too. For example, employees are using Twitter to  communicate and share their information. Other businesses, are using the service to keep in touch with their customers, or using it for customer support.

Interestingly, Twitter’s global traffic can be broken down into four segments:

Web, SMS, Instant Messaging (IM) and API usage

Usage of Twitter’s API is 20 times than that of the Twitter.com web service.

The pie chart below, show’s Twitter’s International Web traffic usage.

NB. Remember this is just web traffic. It doesn’t include any of the other popular ways that people use Twitter. For example, this figure does not include: m.twitter.com, and API applications such as Twhirl and Twitterrific.

Interestingly, 60% of Twitter users are non US users and of that 39% are Japanese!  Spain and the UK are also strong Twitter users.   Good Stuff!

                       Click on the image to see a larger pie chart

The Insider’s Guide to Facebook Viral Marketing.

Via Facebook Pages

Many businesses, from leading global brands to favourite local bands, are enjoying tremendous impact using Facebook Pages for free viral marketing. Check out some key strategies from the most successful businesses on Pages:

1) Regularly adding engaging and useful content
2) Letting fans participate in the conversation
3) Expanding their distribution with Facebook Ads

We’ve collected some of these winning strategies—along with the nuts of bolts of how to create and manage a Page—into an Insider’s Guide to Viral Marketing

Download the PDF here

Size Matters…

 

I have been lucky enough to own many different types of laptop over the years. However, no computer has excited me more than the Eee PC (it should really be called the Eee Laptop!)

There are already thousands of reviews of this little machine all over the Interwebs, so I won’t bore you with that.

The laptop is very small, but perfectly functional. A laptop you can take anywhere, especially on short trips or on holidays. The laptop features Flash based storage, which ensure fast boot times and comes with a reasonable web cam, excellent for Skype. The screen and keyboard are a tad small, but you can easily use it for typing emails or for web surfing. (Indeed, the machine comes with Wifi too)

At around the £200.00 mark, the laptop is excellent value. If you are in the UK, pop into your nearest Dixons for a preview.

 Guide to install Windows XP on the EEE PC

 Eee User Blog

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Book Review: Groundswell – Winning in a world transformed by social technologies.

For many businesses who have still yet to venture into the world of social media. “Groundswell” is a must read. The book cites a number of case studies which illustrate how companies are gaining insights, increasing revenues, lowering costs and engaging their customers within today’s Web 2.0 world.

Forrester analysts, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff have produced the most up-to-book on the subject and present their findings in a clear and easy to understand format. Both demonstrate their expertise as analysts and writers and provide numerous data examples throughout the book.

What is a Groundswell?

Charlene and Josh define the Groundswell as:

“…a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions”.

 

The authors discuss why it important to participate in the “Groundswell” and why the “Groundswell” is happening now. The book begins with an overview into what “social media” actually is, and discusses many of the successes and the pitfalls that a company can go through during its journey. The book then offers steps that a business should follow to implement a successful social media strategy.

The book essentially examines how such tools threaten institutional power, and how individuals can use them to empower themselves and their businesses.

Many businesses foolishly believe that participating in social media is as simple as creating a blog, or being active in Facebook. Groundswell does a great job at explaining that creating a successful social media strategy is probably one of the most difficult things that a business can do and takes time and commitment

Hopefully by reading this book the business person will be well on their way to mastering the new dynamics of social media.

Truly, a well presented and written book that is a must read for anyone who wants to learn and utilise Internet marketing, as it exists today and will exist tomorrow.

So much so, I would say this is the most important book to be released since The Cluetrain Manifesto and Naked Conversations.

Buy it!

FOWA 2008 back in London

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FOWA is BACK!  Register your interest for the best and biggest Web 2.0 gathering in Europe – 8th – 10 October 2008.


Future of Web Apps Miami 2008 Intro Video from Carsonified on Vimeo.

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The IT department will disappear within five years

 

Computer Weekly writes that the IT department ‘will disappear within five years’.

The traditional IT department will disappear within five years as core computing services are increasingly delivered via the internet, according to software as a service (SaaS) firm Nasstar.

Nasstar CEO Charles Black says that by 2013 web-based applications in the workplace make IT departments redundant.

He said money and time are wasted because IT systems are being managed on-site, but soon the vast majority of office workers will log on to the internet to access everything they need.

“IT has become a utility. And in the same way that companies do not have a chief electricity officer to help people plug in and power their devices, so the costly overhead of IT management will be replaced by a simple plug-and-play approach over the internet.”

He said this approach will remove the need to spend money on computing services simplify installation and software asset management.

“The IT industry is in the middle of an industrial transformation, which is ending the need for IT staff who install and support traditional on-premise desktop computers.”

But he said that IT support workers will always have a place.

“As with any industry where technology transforms the way things work, there is going to have to be re-deployment of skills. IT staff should have their skills focused on delivering competitive advantage for their businesses rather than being retained to deliver standard computing services that are a utility and can be delivered over the internet. Companies should be quick to change the focus of their IT department to be business development departments that ensure business success.”

Even though the industry is moving in this direction, I think five years is still early. But what do you think?

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How to save money running a Web 2.0 startup

 

 

Hat tip to blog maverick

A few wise words for Web 2.0 entrepreneurs.  I’ve added some additional points from Calacanis.

1. Don’t start a company unless its an obsession and something you love.
2. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.
3. Hire people who you think will love working there.
4. Sales Cures All. Know how your company will make money and how you will actually make sales.
5. Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them. Pay up for people in your core competencies. Get the best. Outside the core competencies, hire people that fit your culture but are cheap
6. An expresso machine ? Are you kidding me ? Shoot yourself before you spend money on an expresso machine. Coffee is for losers. Sodas are free. Lunch is a chance to get out of the office and talk. There are 24 hours in a day, and if people like their jobs, they will find ways to use as much of it as possible to do their jobs.
7. No offices. Open offices keeps everyone in tune with what is going on and keeps the energy up. If an employee is about privacy, show them how to use the lock on the toilet. There is nothing private in a start up. This is also a good way to keep from hiring execs who can not operate successfully in a startup. My biggest fear was always hiring someone who wanted to build an empire. If the person demands to fly first class or to bring over their secretary, run away. If an exec wont go on salescalls, run away. They are empire builders and will pollute your company.
8. As far as technology, go with what you know. That is always the cheapest way. If you know Apple, use it. If you know Vista… ask yourself why, then use it. Its a startup, there are just a few employees. Let people use what they know.
9. Keep the organisation flat. If you have managers reporting to managers in a startup, you will fail. Once you get beyond startup, if you have managers reporting to managers, you will create politics.
10. NEVER EVER EVER buy swag. A sure sign of failure for a startup is when someone sends me logo polo shirts. If your people are at shows and in public, its ok to buy for your own folks, but if you really think someone is going to wear your Yobaby.com polo you sent them in public, you are mistaken and have no idea how to spend your money
11. NEVER EVER EVER hire a PR firm. A PR firm will call or email people in the publications, shows and websites you already watch, listen to and read. Those people publish their emails. Whenever you consume any information related to your field, get the email of the person publishing it and send them an email introducing yourself and the company. Their job is to find new stuff. They will welcome hearing from the founder instead of some PR flack. Once you establish communications with that person, make yourself available to answer their questions about the industry and be a source for them. If you are smart, they will use you.
12. Make the job fun for employees. Keep a pulse on the stress levels and accomplishments of your people and reward them. My first company, MicroSolutions, when we had a record sales month, or someone did something special, I would walk around handing out 100 dollar bills to salespeople. At Broadcast.com and MicroSolutions, we had a company shot. Kamikaze. We would take people to a bar every now and then and buy one or 10 for everyone. At MicroSolutions, more often than not we had vendors cover the tab. Vendors always love a good party :0

In addition, some good and some controversial tips from  Jason Calacanis

  1. Buy Macintosh computers, save money on an IT department
  2. Buy second monitors for everyone, they will save at least 30 minutes a day, which is 100 hours a year… which is at least $2,000 a year…. which is $6,000 over three years. A second monitor cost $300-500 depending on which one you get. That means you’re getting 10-20x return on your investment… and you’ve got a happy team member.
  3. Buy everyone lunch four days a week and establish a no-meetings policy. Going out for food or ordering in takes at least 20-60 minutes more than walking up to the buffet and eating. If you do meetings over lunch you also save that time. So, 30 minutes a day across say four days a week is two hours a week… which is 100 hours a year. You get the idea.
  4. Buy cheap tables and expensive chairs. Tables are a complete rip off. We buy stainless steel restaurant tables that are $100 and $600 Aeron chairs. Total cost per workstation? $700. Compare that to buying a $500-$1,500 cube/designer workstation. The chair is the only thing that matters… invest in it.
  5. Don’t buy a phone system. No one will use it. No one at Mahalo has a desk phone except the admin folks. Everyone else is on IRC, chat, and their cell phone. Everyone has a cell phone, folks would rather get calls on it, and 99% of communication is NOT on the phone. Savings? At least $500 a year per person… 50 people over three years? $75-100k
  6. Rent out your extra space. Many folks have extra space in their office. If you rent 5-10 desks for $500 each you can cut your burn $2,500 to $5,000 a month, or $30-60,000 a year. That’s big money.
  7. Outsource accounting and HR—such a no brainer.
  8. Don’t buy everyone Microsoft Office–it’s too much money. Put Office on three or four common computers and use Google Docs.
  9. Use Google hosted email. $50 or free per user…. how can you beat that?!?! Why screw with an exchange server!?!?
  10. Buy your hardest working folks computers for home. If you have folks who are willing to work an extra hour a day a week you should get them a computer for home. Once you get to three hours of work a week from home you’re at 150 hours a year and that’s a no brainer. Invest in equipment *if* the person is a workaholic.
  11. Fire people who are not workaholics. don’t love their work… come on folks, this is startup life, it’s not a game. don’t work at a startup if you’re not into it–go work at the post office or stabucks if you’re not into it you want balance in your life. For realz.
  12. Get an expensive, automatic espresso machine at the office. Going to starbucks twice a day cost $4 each time, but more importantly it costs 20 minutes. Buy a $3-5,000 Jura industrial, get the good beans, and supply the coffee room with soy, low fat, etc. 50 people making one trip a day is 20 hours of wasted time for the company, and $150 in coffee costs for the employees. Makes no sense.
  13. Stock the fridge with sodas—same drill as above.
  14. Allow folks to work off hours. Commuting sucks and is a waste of time for everyone. Let folks start at 6am or 11am and you’ll cut their commute in half (at least in LA).
  15. Go to each of your vendors every 6-9 months and ask for 10-30% off. If half of them say yes you’ll save 5-15% on fixed costs. People will give you a discount if they think they are going to lose the business.
  16. Don’t waste money on recruiters. Get inside of linkedin and Facebook and start looking for people–it works better anyway.
  17. Really think about if you need that $15,000 a month PR firm. Perhaps you can get a PR consultant to work on 2-3 projects a year for $10-15k each and save 75%. More PR firms are wasted half the year while you build up your product anyway.
    {I’m going to add a couple more of mine as I remember them }
  18. Outsource to middle America: There are tons of brilliant people living between San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York who don’t live in a $4,000 one bedroom apartment and pay $8 to dry clean a shirt–hire them!
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