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Are the big IT vendors holding us back?
Business
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 24 November 2011

Its been reported by IT News of Australia that at a Gartner symposium recently analyst Dennis Gaughan said none of the big four IT vendors (Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP) are “re-imagining” IT,  “You won’t find innovation in their product portfolio,” he said. “You might find it if you try and talk to the research parts of these organisations. I would argue that a lot of what they are trying to do is keep status quo and find ways to increase share of wallet. There isn’t an innovation agenda. They have to think about investors. If they get on the leading edge, it exposes and impacts them on the short-term.”

In other words, these vendors are trying to hold us back.

Microsoft are partciularly keen to lock users into the Windows stack to protect their cash cows of Windows and Office. The analyst advised CIOs to consider migration to Windows 7, Office 2010 and SharePoint 10, but said they should only consider Windows 8 for tablet deployments in the short and medium term, and take extreme caution before deployment of Office365.

While for the most part the IT industry loves Microsoft (it provides many a techie with lucrative employment) I personally find the underlying complexity and sometimes downright ineptness of some of the company's products hugely frustrating. As an example the management of file permissions under Windows server is at best a blunt instrument and at worse a mess. Something that annoys me on a daily basis. Most IT people now won't know what I'm on about, but anybody who has used the no longer fashionable Netware and it's asociated directory services will understand how these things should work. In my view it's the weakness of Microsoft's file system that's driven the demand for Sharepoint.

Fortunately innovation can be found in other quarters. Apple are making inroads into the traditional desktop space which is increasingly going mobile, and Google is after Microsoft's crown jewels of collaboration and email (although Google brings with it another set of worries). Meanwhile, on the web, Open Source software, which has failed to make much impression on end users, is dominant with the majority of webservers running an open source stack ( Linux / Apache / MySQL PHP ).

Interesting times to work in IT, where an increasingly broad range of skills are going to be required.

Reference: IT News of Australia

 

 
Kashflow Accountants interface - online accounts software
Software
Written by Ian Edwards   
Thursday, 03 November 2011

I have blogged a couple of times already about Kashflow, an online accounts software package aimed at small businesses. I've been using it for a couple of years now and it's been a big help in managing my least favourite task - keeping the paper work in order. The only criticism I had of Kashflow was that there was only one user account - only one login that gave full access to the system. This is ok if you do your own accounts but for bigger businesses where you might employ someone to manage aspects of the business it's a bit of a no no, you shouldn't have to give your username and password to somebody else. At the time Kashflow said they wouldn't implement multi-user accounts but there has been a change of heart and now I am pleased to say you can setup Accountant's access. This allows you to give your accountant access to your Kashflow account, for free, without giving away your username and password. For Kashflow to be usable by larger organisations it needs still more user account controls, but this is definitely a move in the right direction.

For more info on Kashflow small business accounts click here.

 
Google Analytics Realtime
Web Development
Written by Ian Edwards   
Thursday, 03 November 2011

Anybody involved in running websites should by now be familiar with Google Analytics, a remarkably useful tool as it is, but now Google have taken another leap forward with Google Analytics Real-Time. Google Analytics Real-Time (beta at the time of writing) can be found tucked away under the optional new style user interface in your Google analytics account.

What it does is quite remarkable. As the name suggests you get a near real time display of activity on any website currently configured to use Google analytics. The display shows you the number of currently active visitors, whether they are new or returning visitors, how they have found your site (if by search the search term they used) which pages are active, the number of page views in the last minute and per second. There is also a top locations map which shows you roughly where your visitors are located. (Note: Google Analytics says it does not collect personally identifiable information).

In my own tests I've found some variance in the number of users on a site reported by Google Analytics Real-Time compared with the "Whose online" function on the site. I've noticed anyway that Google Analytics usually reports fewer site visitors than the server logs. This could be that Google Analytics is missing some data, or it could be just a difference in the way things are measured - if someone spends some time on the same page analytics may not see them as being "active". Bearing in mind that the actual numbers may not be too precise it makes fascinating viewing and offers insights into how your website is being used that might have otherwise required some digging to discover. If you use Google Analytics already then Real-Time will add considerably to your understanding of how your site is being used, and it's free!

Read more on the Google Analytics Blog.