Microsoft Live Mesh – here, there, everywhere

August 1, 2008

 

“Imagine the possibilities

Imagine all your devices—PCs, and soon Macs and mobile phones—working together to give you anywhere access to the information you care about.

With Live Mesh, you can spend less time managing devices and data and more time connecting with family and friends or collaborating with colleagues.”

All your devices working together

No more e-mailing attachments to yourself. Instead, synchronize the information you need across all your devices. The most up-to-date versions will be at hand when you need them—at home, at the office, and on the go.

Just install the Live Mesh software on each device. Then add folders to your mesh. Folders are automatically synchronized, always available.

Access from anywhere

Anything you add to Live Mesh is available from anywhere, including the web from your Live Desktop. Your Live Desktop comes with 5 GB of free storage, and can be used from most web browsers.

Need a program that’s only on your home PC? With Live Mesh, access to all your devices—and any programs on those devices—is at your fingertips, no matter where you are.

Simple to share

Easily share files and photos with friends, family, and colleagues—invite them to a folder. Everyone is kept up to date because files can be synchronized automatically with all your devices and all their devices.

Update documents, post comments, or send instant messages, all right from the folder. The Live Mesh bar helps you connect instantly with other folder members.

Stay informed

Keep track of all the activities in your mesh. See the online status of friends and colleagues, find out who has updated which files or folders, post and read comments, and check the status of your devices.

News about your mesh is easy to access. You can view news items in the notifier, from the mesh bar, and on the Live Mesh website—available whenever, wherever you are.

Protection you know

Your mesh is password-protected with your Windows Live ID, so only you have access to it. When you share a folder with family and friends, they sign in with their own Windows Live ID to access it.

All file transfers are protected using Secure Socket Layers (SSL), the same technology your online bank uses.

For further details visit https://www.mesh.com/welcome/LearnMore.aspx and see a video demo.


Sony Ericsson Xperia X1

February 29, 2008
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I am still searching for that “perfect” PDA or Smartphone and am now considering the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 which I was introduced to by Jason Nash at Microsoft’s London offices at the CRM User Group meeting.  Thank you Jason!  It’s due for release “second half of 2008” and I can’t wait to try it.
From Times Online
February 15, 2008

Mobile World Conference – Barcelona – Feb 2008

“Sony Ericsson Xperia X1
Perhaps the real wowser of the week was Sony Ericsson’s new Xperia X1.   This is one covetable device. Housed in an elegant, arc-shaped sliding phone is an interface that really brings the web to the fore. The massive three-inch screen divides into nine panels – some will probably call them widgets – which are arranged at the owner’s discretion. They can either be simple applications, like a calculator, or full web pages – e-mail, YouTube, Google and so on. Unlike many phone menus with icons, however, the Xperia’s panels aren’t just pictures; they’re the full page – in miniature, and they glisten before you, updating in real time. Navigation is via a optical joystick at the side – a bit like a mini mouse pad, with your finger as the mouse – or full touschscreen, like the iPhone. (Though whether it has all the iPhone’s screen wizardry is unclear – we couldn’t play with it.) The partnership with Microsoft – Sony Ericsson’s first – also brings with it the benefit of Windows Mobile, which should make it attractive to the professional market too. Other specs: 3.2-megapixel camera,7.2 megabit per second HSDPA, and ARM’s latest series 11 processor, meaning it will be, well, ultraswift.

Out: second half of the year “


The Internet, Anywhere … Is PocketSurfer2 the answer?

October 11, 2007

Do you need Internet access and a QWERTY keyboard and a decent sized screen?

I have been looking for a PDA or Smartphone for what seems like ages but nothing really ticked all the boxes for me.  I currently make do with a powerful laptop and a nifty, small, Smartphone but I am still in the market for something which will enable me to access the internet which is small enough to easily carry around AND which is big enough to easily type emails.

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Have I found the answer in the PocketSurfer2?

In the UK it is currently available via Amazon and will be available from John Lewis from the end of October 2007.  I contacted Datawind for further information who replied:

PocketSurfer2 is a dedicated Internet browser that enables the web surfing experience is seen just as it is at home or work, in its original format, with the original layout and full graphics in seconds.  There is no mobile phone functionality.  The device uses the Orange network. PocketSurfer2’s larger screen delivers an experience similar to that of the desktop through a full VGA-width, 640-pixel, color screen, compared to 320 pixels on most PDA’s and 120 pixels on most wireless phones. A full backlit “QWERTY” thumb keyboard allows for fast data entry, while lithium rechargeable battery keeps the device powered through active usage for up to 5 hours (5 days standby). You can enjoy the internet for surfing any website (BBC, Yahoo, Google, MSN), GPS (location based service) , News, Stocks, Online banking/ Trading, Remote PC access, Maps, IM (Chatting) and do much more which conventional hand held Web Access devices like Blackberry and Treo’s have failed to deliver.

PocketSurfer2 is priced at £179.99 in UK. This incredibly low price includes 20 hours per month usage extended over 1year. Should you need more hours on this unit there is a unlimited usage per month and that would cost £5.99per month. At this price and the access to Mobile Internet anywhere anytime, you are looking at applications which one can never get on any PDA at this price even in near future. Once outside the UK roaming charges do apply. This can be done by calling Customer Services who will be happy to activate you device for roaming. Currently the charge for roaming is £14.99/hours chargeable in one minute increments.”

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There is a review in PC Advisor (November 2007 edition) but they were only able to review a pre-release version.  Has anyone used one yet?  If so, I would love to hear from you … 


Inbox/Outbox 2007

August 28, 2007

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CHAINED TO THE INBOX – IS EMAIL RUNNING YOUR LIFE?

Over 50% of UK business users are self-inflicted ‘emailaholics’ according to new research by Mesmo Consultancy, announced at Inbox/Outbox 2007

London, UK – Over 50% of UK business users are unable to walk away from their emails, even when on leave or off sick, according to the results of Mesmo Consultancy’s latest research on email behaviour as revealed at Inbox/Outbox 2007.

More than half of the 415 respondents check emails when out of the office and 12% check over 5 times a day. When questioned on the main reason for keeping in touch with the office, 67% admitted that it is purely self-inflicted whilst only 20% log in because their office expects them to do so.  Couple these figures with the fact that 1 in 4 Britons works longer than 48 hours each week, as reported last month by the International Labour Organisation, and the picture painted of work / life balance is pretty bleak.

In a technology-enabled “always-on” society, where people are connected to their workplace 24/7, email addiction is rapidly becoming a widespread affliction, highlighted by the mushrooming number of internet sites and blogs suggesting rehab tips and techniques. As the Mesmo survey reported, only 17% of respondents give colleagues permission to deal with their emails in their absence and over 80% read every single email in their inbox.

“The role that email plays in office politics (CC and BCC being the most lethal weapons), the fear of missing something and being blamed for it, together with the amount of personal emails received at work addresses are surely accountable for the lack of delegation and obsessive inbox scanning behaviour, contributing directly to the addiction,” commented Dr. Monica Seeley, founder of Mesmo Consultancy. “Moreover, as the survey showed, the majority of users are expecting to receive a reply to a business email in less than 24 hours. And if a reply is sent immediately, that sets the expectation for the next round of communications, fostering a very reactive and rather unproductive way of working.” 

Issues around work efficiency and productivity were even highlighted by the way in which the survey’s responses were collected. The research, conducted by email amongst 4000 UK business users with 66% of respondents at managerial/director level, attracted approximately half of the responses within the first hour of sending out the survey. This indicates that the majority of business users are willing to be distracted from the task in hand by emails landing in their inbox, breaking concentration with obvious loss of productivity as a consequence.

Mesmo Consultancy is planning to run another survey in association with the organisers of Inbox/Outbox within the next few months, to delve deeper into business users’ email behaviour and addiction. The results will be announced at the next Inbox/Outbox event (www.inbox-outbox.com), due to take place on the 27th and 28th of November at the New Connaught Rooms in Central London.


Nokia and Microsoft announce mobile tie-up

August 28, 2007

Microsoft’s most popular internet applications, including Hotmail and Messenger, will be available on Nokia phones

Nokia, the handset manufacturer, has announced that it will start pre-installing a raft of Microsoft internet applications on its phones from early next year as a way of increasing revenue from web services.

From January, owners of Series 40 handsets will find Windows Live Hotmail, Messenger, Live Contacts and Live Spaces installed on their phones, while the applications will be available for five phone models this week.

[full article available at:  The Times Online :-


Microsoft People Moving Business Awards

August 19, 2007

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“One of the issues facing British business is the successful adoption of mobility solutions by small and medium sized enterprises. The United Kingdom remains behind other European countries in terms of productivity per head, despite the overall efforts put in by the workforce. This suggests the solution to increasing productivity lies in working smarter rather than harder. The implementation of mobile technologies and flexible working practises in small and medium enterprises will allow creative methods to evolve, and allow many workers to enjoy a better work/life balance. I am therefore delighted to support Microsoft’s People Moving Business Awards.”

Margaret Hodge MBE MP, Minister of State for Industry and the Regions

The Microsoft People Moving Business Awards, in partnership with Management Today, the Chartered Management Institute and Business Link, have been created specifically to reward excellence in mobile working wherever it may be found. With a strong focus on people, we will be seeking to recognise the achievements of both individuals and organisations that are really making the most of mobile technologies to boost both productivity and employee and customer satisfaction.

Microsoft’s vision is that it is people first and foremost who make a company successful. With this in mind, we will be looking for winners where both the individual and organisation have reaped benefits, in terms of productivity and customer satisfaction, or work/life balance and professional fulfilment, as a result of mobile working.

http://pmba.managementtoday.co.uk/

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Anyone shortlisted for the People Moving Business Awards will have been notified by 31st July 2007…watch this space for an update…


Remote Working at the BBC

August 19, 2007

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Sarah Griffin, Head of the BBC Club, discusses how the BBC’s HR team have utilised new technology to engage their remote workforce. (Published by Symposium Events Ltd.)

“remote” • Located far away• Hidden away; secluded• Distant in time• Faint; slight: • Far removed in connection or relevance• Operating or controlled from a distance

With another National Work From Home Day under our belts, very few of us can be unaware of the increasing interest in flexible and smarter working practises. Once seen as being a staff demanded “benefit” many companies have embraced, even championed, the cause, being quick to see the associated financial benefits and more latterly, the environmental ones.

BT is noted for its well established commitment to home or remote working and can easily identify the benefits: BT has 63,000 staff working flexibly and a further 12,000 working from home: “Over £220 million has been saved in the last 10 years from real estate costs alone. Travel costs have been reduced by £9.7 million per annum and 1800 person years of travel time is saved each year. Another benefit has been the retention of key skills and the ability to attract talent, reducing employee turnover.”
As you would expect, Microsoft UK uses smart technology to enable inclusive remote working.“We provide Wi-fi enabled tablet PC’s to enable people to carry their office with them and hold meetings wherever they want and “Live Meeting”, which combines audio conferencing with shared information on PC screens, to pull together virtual teams.

Again the benefits to the organisation are clear: “Flexible working has allowed an extra 400 people to fit into the existing campus in Reading and delayed the construction of another building for two years so far. Each year’s delay saves the company about £1million.”

“fragmented”• A small part broken off or detached.• An incomplete or isolated portion

Whilst remote working is not a new concept, it has historically been associated with specialist functions or professions; the artist, the researcher, the farmer. Fragmented working is often the result of history, geographical spread or specialist operating sites; the engineering plant, the local radio station, the warehouse.

As social animals most of us are attuned to our need for engagement and companionship. Some of us do our best work, produce the greatest ideas and build up helpful networks in the office, with our peers or in the canteen at lunchtime. Many organisations provide good facilities for staff at head office, city centre sites or large depots. The canteen, the on-site gym, Occupational Health and maybe even a sports and social club. Workers out on the road, tucked away in satellite sites or working mainly from home often miss out on these goodies and some complain of management centric benefits or of a “them and us” culture.


Virtual Communities
The BBC employs around 22,000 staff across the UK across a wide range of functions and within a fair number of sites.

The BBC Club is a not-for-profit, members owned and run organisation providing leisure, social and recreational activities and services to the staff of the BBC and its service partners. It is funded by members trading activity and membership subscriptions. The Club has sports and social facilities within some of the larger BBC buildings across the UK. Whilst many members benefit from these on-site facilities, the Club recognises that staff working in smaller BBC sites, or away on Outside Broadcasts or working from home, don’t have easy access to these networking opportunities. Research carried out last year demonstrated that BBC staff had a desire for greater engagement with colleagues and with BBC output regardless of where they worked and unsurprisingly, remote workers wanted the same access to facilities and services that their office and city centre based staff enjoyed.

Whilst it is not practical to replicate the physical premises of larger sites for staff based at local radio stations for example, the Club has developed an online Virtual Club accessible by anyone working for the BBC. Currently, Club members can access the site from work or home to find out what’s happening in their area or sign up for lunchtime classes such as sign language or creative writing. They can read their colleagues reviews of local bars and restaurants, access a giant on line shopping portal offering discounts or get in touch with other BBC staff who share their interests. .Staff can also learn more about volunteering and other CSR opportunities and can sign up to take part in local community or charity projects.
Further developments in the pipeline include links to the Sport England Active Places website where you can simply pop in your postcode and find out where you can play badminton, join a beginners running group or learn how to juggle. Live web chats and staff reviews of BBC TV and Radio programmes and latest broadcast technology will also feature along with live ask-the-expert sessions

There is no doubt that this is an exciting time for using technology to bring together remote or fragmented workers and for enhancing work based communities. You only have to look at the popularity of Myspace and Facebook to recognise our intrinsic need for connection and community.
—————Sarah Griffin, BBC

Sarah would be very interested to learn from other organisations that have set up similar virtual community opportunities. She can be contacted by email: sarah.griffin@bbc.co.uk