Geeky/Programming Reviews

Moving from Google Apps to Office 365

I have been using Google Apps premier since 2007. Almost 4 years. Before that I used hotmail and tried to use the Microsoft ecosystem as I had a Windows Mobile phone, many of them actually. Before Windows Mobile was “cool”. The thing with Google Apps is that it only offered the “core” apps for a loooong time. (Mail, Calendar, Docs, Chat). Recently they allowed you to “transition” to more Google services (apps), such as Reader, Voice, etc, etc.

Now, this sounds great right? Yeah, except in the last 4 years I had to create a regular gmail account to use most of the Google services (YouTube, voice, Reader), and now I have 4 years of content and what not built up with that account. Google wants me to “start fresh” with my Google Apps account? Doesn’t sound like much fun. Also Google+ just came out, and it doesn’t work with Google Apps accounts, another great way for Google to alienate paying customers, and rewarding free ones. You can’t be signed into both a Google Apps and Google Account at the same time (at least without problems) So I end up having to run one browser with Google account and one with Google Apps? No thanks again.

What I decided to do is try something new. There aren’t many options.

1. Hotmail
2. Yahoo
3. Hosted Exchange (Rackspace, etc)
4. Office 365
5. Other

With Hotmail.. It works, I actually changed it over in a hour or so.. but, there is no 1st class citizen mail client on Mac. Mail, other 3rd party, even Outlook, only connect with POP, not with IMAP. iOS at least uses Activesync. This is somewhat of a deal breaker for me, as I like to use a client on the desktop, or at least try them out.

Yahoo is just out, well, because it is Yahoo. Hosted Exchange looks promising, but too much $$ for not the same features I currently get. Office 365 seems like the logical choice.

I was in the beta for Office 365 and dorked around with it a little bit. I decided to take the plunge.

It is a little more expensive than Google Apps a year, but really no other choices. My first concern was with my Google Talk with my Google Apps. Probably not going to work. Why? Well, with Office 365, if you are on the small business plan, you have to delegate your DNS to Office 365. You can create CNAME and A records, but not TXT or SRV records, etc. Google Apps GTalk needs SRV records in your DNS.

Also, when you sign up for Office 365, you get a weird account, not a Windows Live ID, but Online Services ID, like .. and then you have to set up your custom domain inside the Office 365 web app.

Currently, this is where I am at, and I hope to have a follow up to this..

I made all the DNS changes for Office 365. I created another account in my system, and assigned it a license. I made the account admin, so I had 2 admin accounts. Everything was working.

I decided to cleanup the account, by removing the mailbox and account. It had the same “Full Name” as my regular account, Steve Novoselac. I went to delete and it said “Do you want to remove Steve Novoselac”, I was weary but figured it was keyed on email address of the account record, not name.

Boom, it deleted both the records on my account. Currently I can’t even login to my account. Even better with the small business account you don’t get 24/7 support. Just “service tickets” and the community forum. I did put in a service request and a forum post, and I am working through the issue, but it seems ridiculous. Why?

First off, you shouldn’t be able to remove the “last admin” from an account. Second, it should delete by email address and not full name. We will see how and when I get this resolved, but currently I just switched my DNS back to Google Apps so I can continue to receive email.

Another unknown is the Lync online. It is federated with WLM, but I am curious to see how that is all going to work. Giving support a few days and hopefully will have it all sorted out. More to come..


Thoughts on Google+

A couple of days ago, one of my developers got me on Google+ (or do you write it Google Plus?) Anyways, it is pretty cool. New social network, yay. Kind of like Facebook, but not. More granularity on sharing to “groups” or circles out of the gate. Integrates nicely with some Google offerings.

Do I see it taking off? Well, if history repeats itself, I could say .. it depends.

First off, Google has bombed on social in recent years. Buzz? Wave? yeah, not too good. But they are adding all the pieces that other social networks have and now trying to integrate them (location, micro blogging, sharing, photos, etc, etc).

Second, Myspace is dead. Friendster is long gone. No one though Myspace would topple, but Facebook dethroned them. Can Google do the same thing to Facebook?

Hard to say, but at the current moment they have the best chance.


Agile: Day of Autonomy, 20% Time, etc

A about a year ago or so, I watched the RSA Animate short on YouTube,


RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Go ahead, watch it, pretty good and just a little over 10 minutes.

One takeaway I got from the short was this: The “Day of Autonomy”. If I remember, they talk about a place where once a quarter or something they let everyone have a day of autonomy, to do whatever they want, but the goal is, at the end of that day, they need to show the group what they did. They saw people doing things that were probably never on any agenda or plan, but some things could help the company and spurred other ideas.

Google is infamous for their “20% time”, which has created things like Gmail, and more.

Just recently, I decided to give this a go in the Business Intelligence group, a day of autonomy. Our velocity for that sprint would be slightly lower, but I was intrigued to see what would come out of it.

The results are still being analyzed, but yeah, seeing some cool things. I think for the next one (if we do it), we will need to plan it a little better to get the results shown to everyone. We are a semi-distributed team, so there are some challenges there.

Overall though, I think the Day of Autonomy is probably a good thing, as long as it isn’t taken advantage of. The players on the team should just be bursting with ideas that they should have no problem coming up with something to do. If you don’t have ideas always swirling on something you could crank out or improve, then you probably need to start there and think a bit differently on how you approach your work.

To me, it almost adds on to the Agile way, being able to do things like this yet still adjust and be flexible, and get some great output on regular stories as well. Always keep improving.


Dusting off the Blog Theme

Most people that might follow this blog probably hit it though RSS readers, or a post here or there from a Google search, so the changes aren’t probably noticeable to many, but they are to me.

Having started blogging back in 2004, on Blogger, and then a year or so in moving to WordPress (self hosted) – but moving it and changing it over time, you get some cruft. Back in the day, things weren’t so “easy”. You wanted a change, it meant PHP time. Over the years WordPress has become more and more “drag and drop” if you want it to be, of course you can still code whatever you want in your themes, etc, but the “widget” concept is pretty cool.

I think the last time I changed my theme in a major way was around 2006 or 2007, (if I remember, it was a “code camp” Saturday with Joel Dahlin at G Allens). It didn’t change too much but I think I started with Google AdSense after the last theme change. In order to do what I wanted it was code code code

Fast forward to today, where the theme is looking outdated, hard to update, etc. I wanted something new. Without totally jacking everything I had, I wanted to start fresh but yet be able to continue what I am doing and how I want to do it. The ads on the site pay the bills, for the hosting and other tools I use. By no means am I living high off the hog, but it is nice to have the site pay for itself and also allow me to do other projects online.

I searched around a bit, and was looking at WooThemes and others, but then stumbled into Headway. It really isn’t a “theme” in the sense that most other themes are, but a framework/system to be able to do whatever you want easily, visually, etc.

I set it up and I am really liking it so far, I have some ideas where I can go at my own pace yet keep things they way I want them easily, fully extensible and the “code” I might use isn’t at all embedded in the PHP files of the theme, but configurable like a modern CMS.

I hope to get more pictures and article, magazine type look as I move forward, that’s the goal anyways. It’s fun to dust off the site and theme and get back into it a little bit, so much out there to learn and use, pretty cool, also is making me rethink all my plugins I have been using, etc.

Another minor changes? I changed the favicon to my current avatar, which is kinda cool.

Another minor note, I am approaching 1000 posts on this blog. I should amend my 2011 goals and try to get to 1000 by the end of the year.

More to come as time goes on, as always.

Product Reviews – Docs in the Cloud

For a while, there have been offerings from Google (Google Apps/Docs), Zoho, and others, and recently, Microsoft jumped into the “online office” game with

Pretty cool. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in the cloud. Limited, but you can create docs, share them, edit them, with *no software* installed on your system. Good in a pinch, good to sync some docs up that you might want to edit, good on a relatives computer that doesn’t have office.

Where have I started to use it more though? OneNote. What is OneNote? Well, before Office 2010, OneNote was installed as a separate application with Office. Kind of like Visio. My biggest problem with OneNote was that I was stuck to my laptop, or whatever. Had to be on the actual box.

Now, you can create a OneNote notebook in the cloud, and edit it in the browser, or on your machine. OneNote also has some cool features, like

“You can now share your notes with other OneNote users in real time by hosting or participating in shared note-taking sessions. Over a live connection, you can work together on a project or share a read-only copy of your notes with an audience.”. It also integrates nicely with tablet/bamboo and mic/text/voice recognition, as well as Outlook and meetings, etc. Integration everywhere.

I actually like OneNote better than Evernote – but Evernote I can get on my computers, web, iPad and iPhone. Yes, there is a OneNote iPhone app (MobileNoter) but you have to install a client, blah blah. Should just work over the cloud.

Anyways, if you need office online in a pinch, try, but also check out OneNote and using it with others to share/read notes in real time, really cool features.


Application Shortcuts in Google Chrome – Awesome!

I use Google Chrome as my primary browser in Windows (it is blazingly fast and minimal). (I use Safari on my Mac’s) .. one awesome thing I have started to utilize is Application Shortcuts in Windows 7 and pinning them to the taskbar..

Which are apps and which are just browser app shortcuts? Pretty sweet. I set up Google Apps (Gmail), Reader and Unfuddle as my shortcuts and I love the one window no hassle that comes along with it, allows you to focus on the app instead of the browser/tabs. Pretty nice feature.

Product Reviews

Reeder, a Google Reader App for iPhone

I have tried many iPhone Google Reader apps, and nothing has come close to working well for me but the web app as a web clip shortcut. That changed this week when I checked out Reeder (

I read a ton of Google Reader (usually 10,000+ posts a month) so I need something good. Reeder has actually replaced my Web Clip Reader link on my second iPhone page as my go to Google Reader app.

If you read a lot of feeds, from Google Reader, I suggest checking out Reeder.

Business Intelligence Geeky/Programming SQLServerPedia Syndication

Microsoft BI: Creating Local OLAP Cubes using XMLA and ascmd.exe

Most people, when using OLAP cubes, are hitting the live version that is located on SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS). They hit it with Excel, or some other reporting tool, etc. I have blogged previously about offline cubes and how you could possibly use them.

Now, the blog I did before, I talked about creating them with Excel, and that works great for end users. But what about automating the process? What about filtering dimension members, or measure groups, etc?  Now that you can use the Panorama Gadget for Google Apps/iGoogle ( you can upload .cub files and do BI in the cloud, how cool is that!


Well, one option is purchase CubeSlice –  and use that to create your .cub files. CubeSlice works great, and is a good option if you want something with a ton of options and ease of use.

You can also create .cub’s using CREATE GLOBAL CUBE syntax in MDX, and you can also use XMLA to create a .cub. Options galore! Chris Webb blogged a few years about about using XMLA to create .cub’s here –!7B84B0F2C239489A!877.entry  He was using the MDX Sample App (I believe that comes with SQL 2000?)

What I was looking for was an easy way to us GLOBAL CUBE or XMLA and automate it, CubeSlice is nice, but there has to be a way to replicate (at least in a basic way) what they are doing. Thinking about XMLA – as to me it seems more powerful, that was the route I chose. I didn’t want to install the MX Sample App from SQL2K, and what Chris Webb says in his blog, and other things I read, basically the problem with using XMLA to create you .cub in SQL Server Management Studio is that you can’t specify a connection string, you have to connect to an SSAS instance. Using the MDX Sample App, you can specify a local file, and then run the XMLA and it will create the .cub file. So I just need to replicate that. 

I have also blogged about using ascmd.exe here . ascmd comes with the SSAS Samples with SQL 2005 (usually located here: C:Program FilesMicrosoft SQL Server90SamplesAnalysis ServicesAdministratorascmd) . You just need to compile it and you can use it to execute XMLA. So I decided to try that. I created an XMLA file to create my cube, and then executed it with ascmd.exe

ascmd -S c:MyOfflineCube.cub -i c:MyOfflineCube.xmla

In seconds, you have an offline cube. Now, in your XMLA you can have filters, etc. You could create an XMLA file that has some kind of variable, and you could create a replace task to replace that with what you wanted filtered, think maybe based on location, or employee, etc, and then kick out personal cubes for users, etc.

One thing I didn’t really get into is how to get your XMLA script. You could figure it out for yourself, but I actually just used CubeSlice for this example. You can create an offline cube with CubeSlice and actually see the XMLA code and use that. Maybe creating the XMLA script manually/yourself would be good info for another blog post 🙂

Product Reviews

Book Review: The Cult of the Amateur by Andrew Keen

Recently, Amazon released their Kindle application for the iPhone. Since I don’t have a Kindle (but I want one!) I figured this would be the next best thing. They have this technology in the app called WhisperSync which sync’s up the page you are reading, so if you do have a Kindle, you can switch between that and the iPhone app and pick right up where you left off.

I have had the Kindle app for a few weeks now, but have just read samples on it (you can send samples of books from the Amazon site to your iPhone). Now, whenever I hear of some book that might sound interesting, I will note it in the iPhone, and then later go to Amazon and check it out. One of these books I heard about recently was “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture” by Andrew Keen

I heard Mr. Keen on an NPR program talking about his book, and it piqued my interest. First off, let me say that reading the book on the Kindle iPhone app rocks. I read this book in like 3 days just reading it here and there when I had some free time, just pulled up the iPhone and started reading, very slick.

Now, about the book. He goes into detail about how Wikipedia, Illegal movie and music downloads, blogs, YouTube, Google, User Generated Content, remixes, mashups, etc, and everything Web 2.0 (and even Web 1.0 – in my opinion sometimes he just blur’s the distinction) is killing our minds, and media, and jobs, and culture, and everything else.

I got the feeling while reading this, imagining an author back around the time cars started to get popular, but horses were still on the roads, where the author is complaining about autos and transportation using them, arguing we need to save horses as the method for transport.

If newspapers, local tv news, magazine, artists, etc don’t want to keep up with changing technology, then in my eyes they almost deserve to fail. He refers to Beethoven and Mozart and how they would never use the methods today to distribute their works, etc. It seems that there is this same arguement over and over. I can just see/hear it: “Sheet Music is killing the ability to play by ear!”.. “Radio is killing Sheet Music!”.. “Vinyl Albums are Killing Radio”.. “8 Tracks are killing Vinyl” (ok, I am joking on that one).. “Cassettes and CD’s will kill Vinyl”… “Mp3’s are going to kill CD’s!”..

Wait up. The part I didn’t add on all those quotes was this . ” and the artists suffer”, yet the artists always continue to survive. Its the fat cats, the middlemen who end up losing out. The publishers and then go betweens that need to change their models and they just don’t adapt to change fast enough, or do they want to change. It seems that they just want it how it is right now, and everything will be fine, and I guess I disagree.

Wikipedia, YouTube, all the mashups – they release creativity. What you as a user of these services need to realize is that you need to take everything at face value. You shouldn’t take Wikipedia as gospel, it is up to you to know that. Most people don’t do that though, and thats the problem. Instead of blaming the services and the content, how about we look at ourselves?

Ok, I could keep ranting on every part of this book in the same manner, but I will stop. It is a good read, gives another perspective of the “Web 2.0 Revolution” (as I roll my eyes – it isn’t a revolution at all, its an evolution – things will always change).

In the end ,it just seems as the old media and the old ways of doing things are trying to cling on to anything they can to try to make it stay the way it was, but that just isn’t going to happen. With everything, you CHOOSE to be a part of it or not. You don’t need to use Google, or the internet or anything, and you will be just fine, but if you do choose, then you play by the rules (or non-rules) of the net, plain and simple.

So, if you do have an iPhone, I would gladly recommend checking out the Kindle app from Amazon and start reading some more books (And if you have a Kindle as well, even better!)

The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of today’s user-generated media are destroying our economy, our culture, and our values

Business Intelligence Geeky/Programming

Trends for GMail?

Google Reader has had “trends” for a while now, it really lets you see what you read, when you read it, etc.

Why doesn’t Gmail have a trends page? Why doesn’t it show you who you get email from, who you email the most, time of day etc. Something like Xobni. I know there is a Python app that a dev at Google made, but why can’t Google just add this to Gmail? They already have the information. Maybe it would be nice as a labs feature.

There are so many things out there like this. Where the metadata is available, but not available to you. From your TV, to you car, to your computer, apps, even your body. You can’t automatically get the times you went to sleep, bathroom, eat, etc from yourself, but it would be nice. Build the ultimate Data Warehouse.

I just wish that apps that had the data would let you see it, use it, and improve your productivity. Someday.