The Gebesse Blog

Thoughts from the world of technology and business

Gebesse Newsletter – August 2014

Swiftpage takes over
In the latest stage in the absorption of Act! into the Swiftpage organisation, Swiftpage have announced that they will be taking over distribution of Act! in Australia from ACTCRM who have been fulfilling this role for the last few years. How this will affect both Certified Consultants and Act! users is currently being discussed, but ownership of the product and the way it has been distributed and marketed in Australia have both changed several times in the more than 20 years since Gebesse first became involved (with ACT! 2) so there is reason for optimism. Details will be released as soon as they are known, but hopefully any changes will be for the better.

The few very long-term Act! consultants will of course remember the launch of ACT! 2000, where the official announcement that Symantec had sold ACT! was made at 10:30 in the morning before about 300 ACT! users were scheduled to meet in a Sydney hotel at 3pm to see the features of the new product. It was a tense time but we managed to carry it off.

howtoThe book
In 1997 the best selling non-fiction title in Australia was a slim volume, How To Connect To The Internet, from Choice Books (at the Australian Consumers Association) aimed at people who wanted to know what this new thing called “The Internet” was all about. There are still copies in various libraries, but a slightly revised version is now available. As befits a book about the Internet, the new version is only sold online and is distributed in digital form. It is available as a Kindle book from Amazon and you can buy a copy here.

The introduction to the book says:

The text of this edition is as close as possible to that which appeared in the original print edition in 1997, with a few additions and changes for clarification and style. A lot of it is obviously out of date (nobody uses Gopher or Archie any more, in 1997 the biggest search engine, Lycos, indexed 70 million pages (Google stopped displaying the number of indexed pages when it went over 9 billion, who even remembers Netscape or CompuServe?) but it is a historical document. It was written when the World Wide Web was only three years old and everyone was wondering what this new thing was and how (and why) they should use it. I can joke now about having to research pornography, but in every radio interview I did while promoting the book the second or third talk-back caller would talk about the fear they had of their children being unwittingly exposed to unacceptable material. There was cynicism about any future utility of the Internet, and I remember one big-name radio star berating me for wasting people’s time talking about this useless invention.

There were lots of things we didn’t know then that we know now, but that has been the story throughout recorded history.

Another book
A second book which might be of interest is Things I Think About Volume 1. This is the first book in a series reproducing articles I have written and talks I have given over the last 15 years and covers the period 1999 to 2003. It’s not just about IT, management, or what I do for a living but covers a wide spectrum of my interests. There is enough in there that is relevant to business to justify mentioning it here. The first two chapters are about the Y2K bubble, for example. It is available as a Kindle book from Amazon and you can buy a copy here. Another book describing some of the weird and wonderful management practices that I have observed over more than three decades as a consultant and manager is scheduled for release before the end of the year.

Save me from “experts”
It seems that every week I get invited to hear some expert tell me about the wonders of social media and how I should use these systems to improve and promote my business. Recently I received two such invitations in a single week, one to employ a consultant and the other to attend a paid seminar. The first one has been around for a while and charges clients a ridiculous amount of money to set them up on Twitter (which takes about three minutes). He has made 377 tweets to 261 followers. The second one has made 29 tweets to 42 followers. Neither of them have links to their social media presences on their web sites. The second one also sells Search Engine Optimisation to get clients’ web sites higher ranking in Google and Bing searches. His web site has a Google page ranking of 1/10.

I don’t use social media nearly as much as I should to promote my business (but I am about to do a lot more with Twitter), but for comparison I have sent 20599 tweets to 1402 followers (in two accounts) and the three web sites I run have page ranks of 4/10, 5/10, and 6/10. Page rank is a measure of how important the rest of the web sees a site (it is generated by counting inward links and traffic) and is a logarithmic scale, so 4/10 is 1,000 times greater than 1/10. My concern about fake expertise is not new, and you can see something I wrote about in a couple of years ago here. The message is that not everyone claiming expertise actually has it, but hey are all prepared to take your money.

Other activities
Because of book-writing activity there hasn’t been much blogging or Weekly Buzz lately. This is about to change, and the Weekly Buzz with IT and business news will be back shortly. All newsletters and Weekly Buzz reports will be reproduced on the Gebesse blog as permanent records, so if you lose the email you can still read them.

Performance tip of the month
Anti-virus software is vital, but it can have a significant performance impact. To work properly, the software has to examine every file as it is opened to see if it contains anything malicious, but the vast majority of files on your system will never pose a threat of any kind. Depending on the software you use there should be some way to exclude files and folders from being examined. How this is done will vary between programs, but here is the exclusion panel from my installation of Norton Antivirus. The excluded files are my Act! databases and the relevant programs (note that these are not excluded from regular scans, just from being checked every time they are used). I’ve seen systems brought to their knees by overenthusiastic virus checking, so this is something worth doing. And remember to do it on the server as well as the workstations.

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