Talko – Talk. Share. Do. – Predicting a Winner

Image from http://www.talko.com/

Image from http://www.talko.com/

Yesterday, a lot of us read about Ray Ozzie’s latest venture, Talko,  in the media. The guy does know how to get the word out. That and the fact that he basically invented Lotus Notes, built and sold Groove to Microsoft, became Microsoft’s chief technical officer or chief software architect (or whatever, depending on where you read it), and left Microsoft to, well, “Beyond that, Ray has no plans at this time“. Oh, and Groove is under the hood in OneDrive for Business. Comments on that last one withheld.

All kidding aside, in my playing around with Talko yesterday with Kris Wagner (@SharePointKris) and a few of my other nerd friends, I think Ray and the boys may have Another Big Thing here.

The big benefit of Talko in my mind is to bring all of the disjointed “conversations” we have across different tools on our phones together in one interface. How often do you start a “conversation” in texts (maybe surreptitiously from an another meeting), then move to email (at your desk after the meeting), then maybe call (once you realize that it’s easier than typing)?

With Talko, that can all happen in one annotated stream. You can flip from mode to mode in the stream painlessly. That gives you a mixed media record of the *real* conversation. No more hunting for “Where did Kris say that thing about…”. I can picture people basically living in the Talko app rather than flipping from one app to another. Once they have our captive attention, they can do with us what they choose.

This is what Skype or Lync should or could be, IMO. Ray’s going to give them a run for their money. I can hear the network admin conversations starting already about how to block Talko in the “enterprise”. Like Dropbox, it’s going to fill a need that people didn’t know they had and organizational secrets will be flying through the airwaves. I predict it’s a winner.

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WordPress and Blackbird Pie: “There was a problem connecting to Twitter”

I have been using WordPress longer than a lot of people. I think I first moved from Windows Live’s blogging platform to WordPress around 2007. Because I’ve been here a long time, I’ve got some plugins that have been around for a long time. One of those is the Twitter Blackbird Pie WordPress Plugin.

The Blackbird Pie plugin was great when it came out. It let you use an embed code to add a live tweet directly into a post. It looked something like this:

[blackbirdpie id=”507693704581500928″]

The id was the unique id for one individual tweet. Twitter was just getting popular and this seemed really cool.

Later, Blackbird Pie got smarter and you could just give it the URL for the tweet on Twitter’s site.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/sympmarc/status/507693704581500928″]

The WordPress crew noticed the Blackbird Pie plugin and they even added it to WordPress in 2010. Instead of using the [blackbirdpie] embed code, you could just drop the url directly into your post. But dang it, it still wasn’t working for me.

I assumed the problem was that Twitter kept changing their interface and APIs and Blackbird Pie stopped working, regardless how you used it. For probably a couple of years now, all my Blackbird Pie -enabled tweet links have been broken. Each one has been showing the message “There was a problem connecting to Twitter”.

I’ve tried quite a few times to fix this, but I’ve gotten nowhere. All of the forum posts out there say things like “It was such a great plugin. Why doesn’t it work anymore?” The owner of the plugin seemed to give up on it, too.

WordPress 4.0 “Benny” came out today and I immediately upgraded, as I am want to do. One of the things I noticed in the release notes was that Twitter embeds are supposed to just work natively. “Well, why haven’t they been working on my site?”, I asked myself.

I don’t know why it occurred to me to do it, but I decided to uninstall the Blackbird Pie plugin. Presto, change-o, all was right with the world. Well, with tweets embedded in my test post. The problem was the Blackbird Pie plugin itself!

You can fix this on your blog by searching for all of the Blackbird Pie embed codes and switching to plain old WordPress embeds.

  • Go to Plugins and Deactivate and/or Deletel the Blackbird Pie plugin
  • Search for all of your posts with the [blackbirdpie] embed code by going to http://YourWordPressBlog/wp-admin/edit.php?s=blackbird
  • For each of those posts, edit it and copy the url to the tweet
  • Delete the embed code line
  • Paste the tweet url into your post

That should do it!

Cold Calling Doesn’t Work, Nor Does “Cold Emailing”

Here’s a new one in my email inbox this morning: “As per my discussion with you receptionist, I have enclosed…” Yeah, my receptionist, which I don’t have.

That was in an email from a company some would consider “legitimate” in the SharePoint space. They have a set of products for SharePoint that may work well (I have no first hand knowledge), but it doesn’t matter. By sending me that come-on via LinkedIn mail they are guaranteeing that I will actively stay away.

People, cold calls don’t work! It doesn’t matter whether you send them via LinkedIn, email, voice mail, whatever. Scatter-shot approaches to sales and marketing in the 21st century just can’t yield enough value to continue doing it.

Cold-CallingFrom “Why Cold Calling Is A Waste Of Time (And What You Should Be Doing Instead)“:

 A little internet surfing revealed that the stats for cold calls were not encouraging:

And that’s for cold calls in the traditional sense: picking up a phone and dialing a number. Email response rates are so much lower.

Unfortunately, sending bits is way too cheap. The bad guys have figured that out. Just a sampling from my Junk E-Mail and Spam folders this morning:

RE: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: Sir/Madam, My name is Brown Morgan, Esq. I am a Barrister, Solicitor and Financial Advocate based in the Republic of Ghana West Africa. I brought a Business Deal at your doorstep for your consideration and hereinafter to confirm if you will be willing and interested to participate in the Business Deal. My client has privately acquired the sum of US$88 million and whereas need someone that is trustworthy to receive the aforesaid funds on condition that my client’s information will not be disclosed as the Original Owner of the Funds. Send me your telephone numbers for discussion of this offer in full details including your commission for your participation. Yours Truly, Brown Morgan. Barrister-At-Law

Have you been searching for a Business loan, Company loan or loan to pay off bills? This is to inform you that We Offer all kinds of loans at 3% interest rate.

Mr. Edgar Walker of compensation and finance house, as he is our representative in United State, contact him immediately for your Compensation payment of $500,000.00 USD (Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) Funds will be release direct to you in accordance with legal clearance and procedure.

Рассылки по любым предприятиям  Большой выбор аудиторий  Обращайтесь по любым вопросам: (Ч 9 5 ) 54 5   1 4 92

No idea on that last one. Am I likely to dial that phone number? Ever?

Blasting out thousands or even millions of emails has about the same cost as sending out one: almost nil. Therein lies the problem that marketers today face. There’s too much noise and chaff and it’s too easy to do the wrong thing.

After I attend a conference, something similar happens. I get a slew of emails saying things like:

  • “Thanks for stopping by our booth” when I haven’t stopped by any booth at all
  • “We enjoyed the conversation we had with you about our products” when I didn’t talk to a single person at that company
  • “Because you attended conference XYZ, we’re sure you’d be interested in…” even when there’s no connection to what I actually do in my business

The “legitimate” marketers are just riding the “free bits” tide. There’s no shortage of articles out there with titles like “5 Secrets to Cold Calling Success” or “Secrets To Successful Cold Calling”. Those articles are the cold calling of the blog post world, trying to suck you into following a practice that the writer can profit from. That’s an even more circuitous cold calling approach that probably leads to an even *lower* success rate.

Looking forward to having a long lasting business relationship with you and your Organization.

If I thought you had the least idea about who I am or what my organization does, maybe, just maybe I might read your email.

I’ll leave you with a few last thoughts on this. Do you want to contact people who may feel the way I do about it and even take the time to rant about it as I’m doing here? Or do you want to carefully seek out people who truly might buy your product or at least listen to your pitch? In this age, your “social presence” is based on the sum of every one of the interactions you have with potential customers, no matter how inconsequential those interactions may seem. How do you want your potential customers to think of you?

</rant>

Feminism in Tech – Be a Part of the Solution

My friend (and client) Dan Antion (@dantion) tweeted a link to an excellent article this morning entitled An Open Letter on Feminism In Tech. The subtitle is “We are tired of pretending this stuff doesn’t happen.” I’m right there with this.

My role models about feminism were my mother Christina Bellamy and my paternal Grandfather Denton (of all people!).
Mom and Me18800
Their type of feminism wasn’t the radical feminism of the early 70s with all of it’s harsh demands and in-your-face rhetoric. It was exactly the type of feminism described in this excellent article by a group of women technologists.

Feminism is not a dirty word. Feminism is the radical notion that women are people, and that we want to be treated as equals.

As more eloquently said in the article, we can’t allow the sorts of bad behavior that occur in tech, or anywhere else. In the article, the writers point out that these tenets should apply to *any* group within tech that isn’t the mainstream, white male group that has dominated the industry historically.

But it goes much further than that.

At our son Calder’s school they have a zero tolerance rule about bullying. It causes some uncomfortable moments, but the effect is virtually zero bullying, creating a nurturing, healthy learning environment. Here’s a Wordle that shows many of the words that describe what this leads to. Take out the obviously unaligned ones, and I’d say that this is how we should make tech feel to women, or anyone else.

Runkle Olweus

Each of us should be a part of the solution. In SharePointlandia (aka the SharePoint Community), we have far less of the bad behavior than what I’ve seen in other technologies. So on some levels, we’re lucky. Working with SharePoint to some degree means a sort of self-selection for people who see collaboration and group work as a useful, productive thing. The characteristics of who is a part of those activities becomes less important. But we aren’t perfect either.  There is always room for improvement and collective enlightenment. (Yeah, that sounds a little sappy, but even when you get really good at something, you can strive to be great.)

To borrow a phrase, “If you see something, say something”. Let’s make sure that SharePointlandia is a land of openness and opportunity for all of us, no matter who or what we are.

Addendum: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Women in SharePoint, which “is dedicated to helping women working as SharePoint professionals reach their career objectives through a variety of community, training and mentoring programs.”

Booting Windows 8.1 in Safe Mode

MinecraftThe other day I realized that I had done something very dumb. I have a killer laptop and I sometimes let my nine year old son play Minecraft on it. The worlds he builds are spectacular. (He also wants you to know that he loves pigs.)

Well, he’s gotten interested in some of the mods that are out there and wanted to try out the Anti-Gravity mod. Minecraft itself is pretty kludgy, but branching off into the wilderness of mods is an entirely different story. There’s no real “place” to find them, just endless forum posts about this, that, and the other thing with links that take you from one forum site to the next with lots of detours into spamware sites and worse.

I thought I’d finally found the mod Calder wanted so I downloaded and installed it. Yeah, too fast. I ended up with my laptop infected with at least two insidious, crapware, bloatware pieces of $hite that I certainly couldn’t leave on there. And the install wasn’t even the mod we wanted.

I’m pretty good at digging myself out of virusland, but one of these little buggers was dug in deep. It was called gorillaprice, and it had itself wedged in way too far to get it out easily.

No problem. I figured I’d just boot my Windows 8 laptop into safe mode and stomp out the little bugger.

Not so fast.

Apparently the wisenheimers in the Windows Division at Microsoft decided that getting to Safe Mode in Windows 8 should be like a treasure hunt, but without a map or eyeballs to help out.

F8 doesn’t do anything on boot up anymore.

I found many articles and blog posts out there, but every single one of them was wrong. No, “mashing” Shift-F8 on start doesn’t work, nor do any of the other ridiculous suggestions I found.

I actually did find an article on the Windows site on Microsoft.com that was close, but not close enough. It didn’t show up very high in Bing results, either, so it took me a while to find it.

I’m running Windows 8.1 with the update on top of the update (I’m up to date), so maybe that’s why the article is off. It’s damn hard to keep documentation up to date, especially when people are running every single variant that is possible all the time. “Smart docs” would be awesome. They could detect what you’ve arrived with and adjust their content accordingly. As soon as they invent them.

Without more ados, here’s what worked to get me into Safe Mode, modified from the instructions at the link above. Count the steps and clicks. It’s tough.

  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings. (If you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)
  • Under PC settings, tap or click Update and Recovery
  • Click on Recovery
  • Under Advanced startup, tap or click Restart now
  • On the Choose an option screen, tap or click Troubleshoot
  • Tap or click Advanced options
  • Tap or click Startup Settings
  • Tap or click Restart
  • On the Startup Settings screen, choose the startup setting you want
  • Sign in to your PC with a user account that has administrator rights

Simple as pie, and about as hidden as something could be. Maybe we don’t “need” Safe Mode anymore with the wonderfulness that is Windows 8, but in this pickle I sure did.

BTW, the junk I got is gone and I’m back to running speed. We got the Minecraft mod installed and Calder’s been adding upside-down floating trees to his world. Very cool.