Bye Bye Xmarks (part 2)

In response to my yesterday’s post about the upcoming demise of Xmarks, Jim Casale suggested that I could use my own WedDAV server to do the synching.

What a great idea, I thought.  I never previously noticed the Advanced settings option to use your own server.  So reading a little bit on what’s required, I set off to configure my Windows 7 desktop as an IIS server supporting WebDAV.  After doing some reading on setting up IIS with WebDAV here and Xmarks with one’s own server here and spending a couple of hours, I had it working.  And…  few minutes later I was removing IIS from my desktop.  The option to use your own server only existing in Xmarks for Firefox.  It is not there in Xmarks for Safari or for Chrome.

Well, my time wasn’t entirely wasted, I did learn a few new things, including the repeated confirmation that reading fine print can save you wasted time and even buy you a couple of extra hours of sleep.  (Nah, who am I kidding?! I wouldn’t be sleeping anyway.)

So back to the drawing/research board seeking replacement for Xmarks.  (Maybe I just won’t bookmark anything.)

Bye bye Xmarks

Xmarks service ends January 10, 2011.  If you’re one of the existing users, earlier today you should’ve received an email like this..

Details of their decision to cease operations is outlined on the Xmarks blog.  The primary reason being luck of available funds.

I’ve been using Xmarks for a few years now.  It’s a service that I will miss.  I don’t think that their alternatives, synch tools built into Firefox or Chrome, will cut it for me.  I liked being able to synch across browsers (Firefox, Safari and Chrome, even an occasional IE) and across platforms.

I wouldn’t have minded paying a small $5-$10 yearly fee for this service.  Judging from the comments on the blog, a lot of people wouldn’t have minded paying it, too.  And at 2 million subscribers, that’s 20 mil+.

It is too bad that the folks behind Xmarks felt that they are no better than the free services built into Firefox and Chrome.  The cross-browser and cross-platform ability of Xmarks is its power.  Sad to see this service go.  Not yet sure what will replace it.

Twitter is NOT a social network – I agree

Earlier this month, at Nokia World 2010, Kevin Thau finally openly confirmed that Twitter is no longer a social network.  While this seems to have come as a shock to a lot of people, I couldn’t agree with Kevin more.

When I first joined Twitter, it promised to allow me to communicate with my friends in quick short messages.  It offered itself as a micro blogging site.

Today, it no longer mentions my friends.  Instead, it promises to deliver short, timely messages from so-and-so.  It is irrelevant whether I even know this so-and-so.

Twitter has become a place for people to vie for followers and promote their websites, blogs, companies and, finally, themselves.  It is also a major source of news.   And, at times, a vehicle to communicate directly with the companies that are willing to listen and engage.

Clearly, the focus of Twitter has changed from what it started off as.

How do you use it?  Is it still a vehicle to communicate with friends or do you find yourself consuming information more than contributing to the conversation?

Has this change in direction turned you off Twitter?

The way it ended

Saw this episode for the first time last night.

Evolution of BlackBerry

Making Money in a Down Market

How long, how many years will it take for us to stop sending and receiving ads like this?  What needs to happen to the economy for it to stop being a “down market”?


Apple in the Enterprise

Last week PSC was invited to participate in the global IT summit held by one of our clients.  We had a couple of hours to facilitate a discussion and to present our view on several topics.  One of the “hottest” discussions was centered around Apple in the organization.  Users (executives) want it, IT is afraid of it.

The ever expanding presence of Apple device in the enterprise cannot be denied.  And it is no longer just the creative and marketing departments that are using them.  People are increasingly becoming Mac, iPhone and now iPad users.  And if they have these devices available to them at home, they want to use them at the office.  When the company executives are asking to be able  to use them, the IT department is hard pressed to say no to them.

The IT response to Apple is fairly standard: we’re a Windows shop, we’re a BlackBerry shop, iPhone is not secure, I can’t join you to the Active Directory domain — in short, we don’t support Macs.  But that’s a position that is becoming increasingly hard to maintain, so I’m seeing more of my clients providing some form of support for Apple in their enterprise.

Once the IT gets over its initial fear of Macs, support for Apple devices generally come in two flavors: organizations either completely outsource all Apple support to a 3rd party Apple consulting shop or, if the Mac contingent is substantial enough, hiring staff dedicated to supporting Macs.

The one mistake a lot of IT departments make is trying to treat Apple computers the same way as they treat Windows machines, expecting them to require constant feeding and care, where the contrary is more of a case.  Macs generally don’t require a lot of maintenance and support.  Sure they experience occasional hardware issues, just like any piece of equipment would.  But on a day-to-day basis, Mac users don’t require a great deal of attention.  In fact, once these machines are setup and configured, they just sort of run.

Mac OS and software updates are much less frequent than those of Windows and are generally pretty safe, they don’t cause things to break.  Viruses are nearly non-existent in the Mac world.  Applications are easy to install and remove and they don’t step on each other, breaking an enterprise application with a newly installed piece of some freeware.

So unless you have a crazy power user who likes to poke around with command line parameters and explore hidden directories, having a few Macs in your organization is pretty safe and rather painless.

Macs are definitely not Windows and problems arise when you need Macs to run the same software, or you trying to make them function just like a Windows machine.  This happens  when you have a large number of Mac users and your software vendors offer none to limited support for them.  I’ve seen these situations with everything from common Microsoft Visio and Project products to SAP clients, IBM/Lotus Notes clients and Lotus Notes desktop managers (CooperTeam Desktop Manager and Panagenda’s Marvel Client).

When this happens you need to be prepared to offer your users compromises.  The options include the obvious of not buying software that doesn’t support Macs; running Windows (VMware Fusion, Parallels, Bootcamp) on the Mac; finding Mac-specific versions of software in question; offering Terminal services (Citrix or Windows) or, of course, simply not using a Mac.  Your particular answer will differ based on the situation, software or user in question.

In either case, you should be prepared that one day your users will ask to use a Mac at work.  And to keep your users happy, you should know how you’re going to answer that question.