Thursday, June 12, 2014

3 reasons why TaylorMade is pissing off it's market

Today ends my love affair with TaylorMade. I just want it to be known by them. I’m done. I’m a relatively new golfer – having fallen in love with the sport 5 years ago, primarily at the pushing of my friend Jeff Alexander. He plays TaylorMade, and it was through him that I started playing their gear as well. But recently I’ve been delighted with their products but also incredibly annoyed with their all too frequent product releases.
While I’ve been recently turned off by their frequent product release strategy, I’ve seen commentary from so many others about it too. Here’s a few reasons why I’m looking elsewhere.

Loss of prestige
There’s a certain niceness to walking out on the course with the latest and greatest. The problem with TaylorMade, is that prestige ends relatively fast. Within 6 months there’s another new one. Its and annoying thing that you just spent $400 and then less than 6 months later the same club is $200. I hate that. The joy of “new” suddenly becomes soured, in less than a season. The niceness of having that new club that your wife bought you superseded that quick and discounted that heavily smacks of ripoff.

They are confusing the buyer
Burner, Burner 2.0, RocketBladez, SpeedBlades and now, guess what? SLDR irons! That’s all in the space of a few seasons. But in between there is the JetSpeed series. What the hell is JetSpeed? Is that better or worse that the SpeedBlades currently being promoted? I didn’t see any email about that. But wait, there’s now SLDR irons. You "need" them because the speed pocket thing they introduced in RocketBladez that got improved in SpeedBlades is now betterer in SLDR because it goes all the way through (ie: they took three goes to get it right) And does the JetSpeed have that? Is that better or worse? 

The mess of colors and design
You buy the Burners, all the colors are red, black and white. Then R1 comes out. Orange, black and white.  SLDR comes out, blue, grey and black. OMG! This isn’t a fashion show TaylorMade! I want all my colors to match. Now I look like an idiot because I have a multicolored rainbow in my bag. And who thought that grey, black and blue was a good idea? I mean isn’t the SLDR driver the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen? It’s grey and metallic like an American Airlines plane, and has this robotic, industrial sliding blob on the bottom. Looks horrible. Their design department is all over the place with radical design and color departures from the previous model.

Who wins out of this?
Certainly not you the golfer. I pity their poor product marketing department that has to come up with a new word every 6 months to describe “distance” and how “revolutionary” this club is. It’s over hyped market churn. You buy the shiny new thing that’s claimed to get 5 more yards, and the next thing you have to change all your clubs, bag, hats etc so you don’t look like a hacker. ?Or maybe I just have OCD when it comes to stuff that looks mismatched...?

Looking forward to giving Ping, Titlelist and the others a try.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Telerik Sitefinity deprecates XML-RPC in a dumb move

Recently I've had the chance to play around with a Content Management System (CMS) called Telerik SiteFinity. It's a solid performer and a very welcome move from our current CMS, Wordpress. I already know what many of you are thinking - why would you move from Wordpress? Pretty simple really, the security of it is nothing short of appalling. Its the most hacked CMS in the world - so a pretty simple decision along with the fact it was never designed to be a CMS, it was designed to be a blog platform.

One of the harder decisions though was where to put the blog itself - I had originally thought that we could simply put the blog on Blogger with a URL of however my SEO expert told me this was a bad move. We had to have it on if the blog traffic was to positively help our SEO rankings.

So we chose to go with SiteFinity's blog implementation. Honestly, I thought the blog move would be a snap - we would just hook up Kapost via Metablog API to SiteFinity and push all the old posts to the new blog and hey presto we're done. I mean, who doesnt support MetaBlog API? But then we hit a MAJOR roadblock.

Turns out SiteFinity doesn't support Metablog API (XML-RPC). Telerik made the ludicrous decision to deprecate the worlds most supported blogging API. I was stunned. Instead, Telerik in their infinite wisdom decided to go with another standard that they felt sometime, somewhere, somehow in the future would take over - AtomPub.

I'm all for supporting useful and emerging standards - but at the right time. And now isn't the right time. Why? There's almost no support for AtomPub at the present by any of the major blog editors.

  • Kapost - AtomPub unsupported (extensive XML-RPC/Metablog support)
  • MarsEdit 3 - supports AtomPub though it doesn't work with SiteFinity
  • BlogJet - AtomPub unsupported
  • BlogDesk - AtomPub unsupported
  • Windows Live Writer - supported 
  • Qumana - AtomPub unsupported 

Note ALL of the above support Metablog. This is to name but a few that I've tried. So out of this list Windows Live Writer is the only one supported. While it's a great blog editor, and I personally like to use it, it's totally useless for migration - it doesnt sync down the posts from the old blog so that you can move them to the new. It also only works on Windows, not Mac - so our Mac users are forced to use the web interface.

I tried to escalate this via our development partner, though Telerik were steadfast in their decision. They simply aren't going to reimplement support for Metablog.

So I have the choice to switch to another blogging platform (which I dont want to implement or support) or to manually move the posts, one by one. Neither is the choice I wanted.

Thanks Telerik. Great decision.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

BYOD and device wiping policies. What's the point of this again?

I keep hearing about organizations with acceptable use policies (AUP) that require the employee to essentially assign the rights and control of their phone to their employers IT department. They essentially are forced to assign the permission that the employer is permitted to wipe the device upon leaving or on lost or theft of the device.

I frankly don't get the first part of the rationale of this policy. It doesn't make any sense at all - unless combined with a comprehensive approach that covers all the other vectors for data leakage.

There is only one situation that I would permit my device to be wiped. If I lost it or it got stolen. That's it. The other choice of wiping the device as an employee leaves the organization, you may as well not even bother with. It's pointless plus there are a ton of better solutions that address the apps and data problem without destroying personal data.

The "employee left thus we wipe it" policy is clearly aimed at mitigating the risk of damage by confidential data and email being available to the now ex-employee after they leave. But does wiping a mobile device really do that? Does it fully mitigate that risk?

No. There are two other areas organizations should be more worried about plugging up.

1. 99% of the time, people now have laptops. They have Macs and Windows laptops all loaded up with apps and data. Data that is all too easy to leak outside the corporate audit trails, inclusive of email, especially when taken home.

2. Theres also little stopping employees configuring their Exchange/Office365/Gmail account to be used on their home Windows PC or Mac, with zero ability to wipe that data.

I would suggest that 9 times out of 10 no organization addresses these two areas. Thus this kind of device wipe policy is nonsense. If someone leaves an organization, sure their IT team can very easily wipe the phone, but theres a lot more data where that came from on their home PC or Dropbox account - if someone had that mindset to steal data. Besides there are plenty of solutions out that (namely MobileNow) that do mobile data wipe properly, providing the ability to securely wipe the business apps and data without destroying the user's personal information.

What do you think? Agree or disagree?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Windows XP: A disaster waiting to happen...

Do you believe the Windows XP migration statistics? I don't! Microsoft assures us that Windows XP usage is now under 40% and I bet most of these numbers come via Windows Update tracking as they get pretty good stats via that service.

Most businesses by now are well aware of the need to migrate. Some still don't get the risks, which is scary, but most do. So I don't believe the numbers because there is still so much of this (see picture, courtesy of Mark Wilson) behind the corporate firewall and Windows Server Update Services, hidden from Microsoft's gaze. Hotels, cash strapped state and local government bodies, small businesses. Thousands of PC's still running Windows XP. I wrote a paper on the enormous risk to business of it while at AppSense (yes I know its gated content...). 

The real worry is the consumer. I worry for a bloodbath the moment Windows Update stops delivering patches to the 11 year old platform. Most of all, I worry that Microsoft isn't doing enough to connect with the consumer to help them understand whats going to happen the day after April 8th 2014. 

Here Microsoft, I'll help you in this.

Dear Consumers around the world.

We know you love Windows XP. We know it works for you and that you're very comfortable with it. We know you hate change. But seriously, you need to migrate and at the least get onto Windows 7. Here's why.
The day after Windows XP support ends which is precisely April 8th 2014, you are going to get hacked. Guaranteed. There are tons of organized crime hackers in China, Russia, Ukraine etc all rubbing their hands in glee waiting with really nasty malware based on holes in the OS that they know about and we don't and they know we won't patch it. Except you don't know because we aren't doing a good job of telling you. Hence this letter. Let's be super clear. There is nothing that will save your crappy Windows XP PC from this onslaught, certainly not your 100 day out of date antivirus package.
You really need to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.  And do it pronto. Not a nice choice, but a necessary one.
Sorry about this.

Cheers, Microsoft

I was recently talking to my Dad. He's a pretty progressive updater to new software, and he is already on Windows 7. Recently he recounted a visit a friends house that had Windows XP and did the right thing to help them update it to the latest patches and put an up to date anti-virus on it. I immediately told him of the risk to Windows XP and that the very best thing you can do for your friends right now is to tell them to get off it. Like right now. Once he understood the risk, he took the right steps to immediately tell his friend about the risk. They are making plans to migrate. At least thats one down. 

But what about the thousands of people out there that just don't know? What steps are being taken to educate them?
So Microsoft. Time for you to step up with at least a TV ad. Throw your customers a bone. Do something to tell them.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Microsoft annoys IT Pros worldwide and retires TechNet Subscriptions

This morning I got an email from Microsoft, informing me that the TechNet Subscription service, loved by many IT Pros, is being deprecated. IT Pros will have until August 31st to renew for one more year.

I have personal history with this service. At the time it was conceived I was an IT Pro Evangelist at Microsoft. We got constant feedback from IT Pro's that they wanted a comparable subscription to MSDN's subscriber benefits service as up till that point, IT Pro's received their TechNet subscription by DVD.

This service was a crucial service for a variety of reasons:

1. Evaluation product - the ability to trial software and test it out to learn about how it worked
2. Demo product - the ability to retain installed software beyond a trial date. This was a crucial demo selling resource.

We pitched the team at the Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) corporate hard. We felt it was crucial to help deliver parity between IT Pro's and developers so that IT Pro's didnt have to carry around a bunch of DVD's and could download and install product to be able to demo to a customer overnight. The corporate team listened and we have what we have today - a wildly successful way of being able to evaluate and crucially, demo with a complex and integrated environment built over a long time, customized as needed.
Many System Engineers and presales teams working at Microsoft partner organizations were incredibly happy with this decision and bought subscriptions for all their SE and professional services teams. The company I work for does this today! Its been a successful program for many years now.

Well as of the 31st August, IT Pro's will be Microsoft's second class citizen. They will not have access to this valuable resource. Without clearly stating the reason for the deprecation, pundits believe this is because of piracy.

Microsoft is citing two choices:

It's safe to say that this is a short sighted decision that is definitely going to cause a backlash with already a petition is being circulated to reverse the decision.

For IT Pro's just trying out software, and understanding how it works for a short period, the evaluation style media is fine. I've used it for that purpose in the past. 

But thats just one use case...

Many internal company and home labs are built with a TechNet subscription. These environments become a place for longer term learning and scenario testing not unlike the use case for MSDN. 

The audiences most affected by this decision are the hundreds of thousands of Microsoft's partners, consulting organizations and ISV's that utilize this subscription daily to do their work, demoing solutions to customers and testing out new scenarios over a longer term for which evaluation media is impractical.  I personally have a test environment at home that has been running for years that I use regularly. Just over the weekend I added more to it. I try out all the new software on it, integrate it and it adds to my environment. I'm not the only one. 

For those that can't do without it, means a tripling of that cost to get the same benefit utilizing MSDN, (which actually has more software keys), an offering unchanged without the suspected root cause of the problem being addressed - piracy. 

So again Microsoft makes an unbelievable decision that again shoots themselves in the foot rather than actually addressing the root cause of problem. 

When will you learn Microsoft? 

Added: July 2nd 9am

Lots of comments into my twitter account now. Couple of additional points that Microsoft may like to consider.

  • The ROI on TechNet Subscriptions is significant but probably difficult to measure. Lots of people saying they generated lots of money for MSFT using it. I know we do...
  • If piracy is a real issue, how about a win/win? Limit the TechNet subscription to certified MCP/MCSE's. That way you get the benefit of certified people using the product, not random others...
  • Between 30-180 day evals are too difficult to manage. I install Windows Server on one day - 180 day eval. Next product a week later is 30 day. Some products don't notify when expiring, they just die. If you are insistent on this at the least, be consistent with eval time periods. Nice to have an expiry right when you have to show the product to the customer...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Why Windows 8 may struggle in the enterprise

 I read with interest today Alex Williams article on TechCrunch about Why Windows 8 will do fine in the work world.

He makes some interesting points but also missed some very key points that I think forms the foundation of why he may be incorrect and really underscores why Microsoft’s Windows earnings are down.

Anyone who has actually used Windows 8 as a desktop OS will know just how frustrating Window 8’s bi-modal interface is. I continue to assert: Windows 8 makes a great touch/tablet interface but at the present will face challenges for desktop usage. The constant switching back and forth between the Start Screen and other apps is frankly time consuming and annoying.

The worry for Microsoft has to be certainly on the enterprise desktop front. I was at Microsoft when Vista was released and had to do PR associated with it. Enterprise’s wholeheartedly rejected it because of very good reasons, such as stability, performance and resource overhead. While Windows 8 exhibits none of those issues, it has many of its own especially around the Start Screen interface which center on the fact that Windows 8 is a consumer play, not an enterprise one.

Canon T3i 18.0MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm IS Lens - Digital (Google Affiliate Ad)

My personal belief is that Windows 7 will remain the mainstay of enterprises; small and large with Windows 8 used as a secondary device strategy to solve “the iPad issue”. I think that the Surface will do very well in market – as a Windows “light” option on ARM.

Lets take a look at Alex’s rationale for a moment and provide commentary against them.

·      It’s time for enterprise customers to do a refresh from the still widely used Office 2003.

I totally agree with this statement, but I don’t get how it’s necessarily linked to Windows 8. After all, to solve this issue I can use Windows XP to deploy Office 2010 to and many enterprises have done this. In the migration to Office 2013, if customers deploy Windows 7 they have much less user interface impact and re-training requirements. So there’s a much better argument to be made for Windows 7 than Windows 8 on the desktop.

·      Windows 8 represents the consumerization of IT in a package that the CIO understands.

No it doesn’t. Consumerization of IT is about user choice, not the CIO’s. The CIO understands Windows for sure…the Intel version. My bet is that user’s choosing something like Surface will be with the Windows RT version as an iPad substitute. The CIO isn’t going to want to hear that 99% of their enterprise applications wont run on the Windows RT version. And that existing management tooling can’t manage it.
So what the CIO is getting, certainly for the RT version (today), is really Office. Windows RT is just the shrink-wrap Office came in. Important sure, but it still has the same issues as iPad that are currently causing concern, namely management, corporate compliance, security and governance.

·      Microsoft got the user experience right with the tiles and the Metro-style UI.
The user experience is pretty and definitely makes sense for tablets and touch devices. However it’s kludgy as a desktop interface, certainly for right now. Give it a year or two and eventually users will warm to it, just like they did with Windows XP. However right now the CIO will be super concerned about retraining and productivity and I'm afraid in this economic climate, they just can’t afford to create significant business impact.

·      Windows 8 represents one platform that is available across multiple screens — desktop, mobile, ultrabooks, etc.
ARM and Intel are fundamentally different platforms. So you really have two platforms you have to think about. Thus it’s the platform everyone is used to (Intel) vs the one that’s emerging that has little enterprise applications written for it.
I remember talking with a major enterprise customer that said to me; “…We have over 1000 applications and we segment them into groups according to business priority of A, B and C class applications…”
How does this customer adapt their 1000 applications to Windows 8 on ARM? I’ll tell you; when their application developer does. And then charges them a pretty penny for the “upgrade”.
Now you could make the argument that HTML5 will change all that. Maybe in time however this vision is still a long way off in the enterprise.
So if you had the choice between not paying for the app upgrade now and staying on Windows 7 vs upgrading EVERYTHING to a “single screen” Windows 8, what would you choose?

·      It’s like chasing cats trying to manage cloud best of breed hell – you still need a corporate standard. Windows 8 fits the bill.
Gone are the days of “corporate standards” I’m afraid. This is a naïve statement out of touch with today’s enterprise that has now past and is a legacy. The flood of mobile devices entering the enterprise already wrecked that notion.
The real game is managing applications and data, not the platform. The enterprise applications of today are being targeted for more than one platform including iOS and Android. Look at Salesforce as an example of that.

·      Legacy apps will work on Windows 8, making the transition to the new operating system relatively simple.
Big assumption. Sure customers that tested apps on Vista (brave people them) or made the transition to Windows 7 will probably have a lot easier time but there is still a helluva lot of customers on Windows XP and its not easy switching out a user from the platform and pulling all their personalization and data along with them…
But the issue of application compatibility is still important and an enterprise would be foolish to not do their due diligence and test applications on Windows 8. Go tell a healthcare provider to do that, and circumvent HIPPA in the process.

·      It is inconsequential that Microsoft is not the most far out in front innovator. Over time, the enterprise that adopts Windows 8 will catch up to market innovation.
There is a real disconnection in this statement between innovation and market platform penetration. Plus I think the real challenge is getting application developers to develop enterprise applications specifically for the Windows 8 platform. And despite Microsoft’s best efforts that’s something that will be a long tail effort with much of the enterprise market sticking with Windows 7.
Defend that statement Alex. 

·      The CIO can consolidate under Windows 8.
With limited native app support (even with Microsoft Office) how do they expect productive users from the outset? Why not put them on a platform they know until the market adoption catches up.

·      The Surface, which runs Windows 8 RT, doubles as a laptop. It’s ready for the knowledge worker to do the day-to-day work that needs to get done.
Now this I agree with. It’s the only real statement Alex made that makes sense.
As I stated before the Surface is an excellent form factor for a secondary/mobility device. But even then, it’s naïve to assume that all enterprise applications will work on it. I think the fact that the 32GB Windows RT Surface blew out its ship date is a very encouraging sign for enterprise app developers to target that platform specifically.

·      Windows 8 has built-in mobile device management and security, making it enterprise class.
I’m sorry, but platform features alone don’t make anything enterprise class.  The Mac has device management features and security and it certainly isn’t enterprise class. What makes an enterprise platform is a broad set of capabilities inclusive of enterprise application support. I’m not sure that exists today.

Let’s be clear. Windows 8 wasn’t even designed for the enterprise. It was designed to win back the hearts and minds of the consumer. That’s perfectly reasonable for Microsoft to return to its roots and try to change the game, though I think its dangerous to assume that the platform is suitable for every use case, certainly right now with low awareness and enterprise app support.

·      “…Big business has good reason to adopt Windows 8. But small and medium-sized businesses are far better off, in my opinion, of not adopting Windows 8. Their choices are just too numerous. They have their choice of platforms such as Google Apps or Zoho. They can use Dropbox or Box for keeping documents in one place…”
WTF?! If anyone was ripe for Windows 8 it’s the small business. Their needs are much less complex and apps like the ones Alex mentions are easily consumable on Windows 8.

Alex’s article fails to convince me of my own belief.  I still believe Windows 7 is a great operating system that meets the needs of business today. I believe Windows 8 RT and Surface will continue to gain market interest and eventual enterprise developer interest simply by virtue of the fact of Microsoft’s installed base.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see enterprises waiting until Windows 8 has a good consumer penetration (user interface training in the home) before deploying due to the training challenges.  That could be a couple of years away from now.

There are numerous enterprise challenges that Alex has ignored in his article that can’t be ignored such as:
  • ·      Lack of Enterprise application support for both Windows 8 Intel and ARM (RT)
  • ·      Lack of support from security software – VPN etc
  • ·      Considerable re-training effort
  • ·      Interface out of step with todays applications 

Had Microsoft delivered a “compatibility mode” like they did with Windows XP, enterprise probably would have been quicker to adopt. Until these challenges are solved, Windows 7 will remain the mainstay of the enterprise. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The case of the MacBook Pro and ReflectionApp

Recently I got a MacBook Pro Retina. Actually its not so recently...I've had it now for 4 months!

Wonderful hardware. Really nice design. The screen is unbelievable plus its so quick!! But anyone who says to you that the Mac experience is way better, easier, has less in my opinion clearly smoking crack and doesn't do any real work on it. I've had nothing but:

  • Application crashes
  • Poor application functionality compared to equivalent Windows apps
  • Bugs in hardware
  • Bugs in software
One of my favorite bugs is the fact that I cant use Bluetooth and Wifi at the same time. Bear in mind the MBP Retina is a Wifi only device means that the moment I want to actually for wifi drops out. Does it with my Bluetooth headset or the magic mouse. Charming Apple, charming...

Anyhow that's not what we are here to talk about. I promised the case of the MBP and Reflection.

So part of my job lately is to demo our new MobileNow software to customers, utilizing my iPad. ReflectionApp is a fabulous little app (also look at AirServer) that allows you to use the AirPlay protocol to project the iPad on your desktop. 

I installed it and lo and behold it didn't work. Did lots of troubleshooting. Checked ports that were open; some were and some weren't. I contacted Reflection and in troubleshooting also tried the AirServer app...which did the same thing. The support teams of both these organizations, I'd have to say are slow. Very very slow at responding. They tried their best over a long period of time and neither of them could get to a low enough point of troubleshooting to actually diagnose the fault.
I tried removing apps, changing the firewall etc etc. To no avail. 

Then my colleague Doug Lane says to me today on a call... "Oh I've seen that...It's the CheckPoint VPN client". So I go about testing it. Here's what I did:

1. Stop the CheckPoint VPN client from running 
2. Go into Finder, and then Applications, and drag the EndPoint VPN client to the trash
3. Then open a Terminal window and navigate to /Library/Extensions and look for the Kernel Extension (kext). Its called cpfw.kext. 
4. As its a directory you have to type sudo rm -rf cpfw.kext
5. You then supply your password.
6. Reboot

After you reboot it will all be back to normal...ReflectionApp now works. Except for the fact you now can't VPN. Hey but at least you know what it is now right? Go yell at CheckPoint. 


Update: Oct 19th. This could also fix other Airplay related issues such as projecting your MBP to Apple TV. Try it and see. Come back and comment if it also fixes it.