1. Microsoft tells Windows 7 users to uninstall faulty security update (Updated) →

    "Microsoft has pulled a Windows 7 security update released as part of this month’s Patch Tuesday after discovering it caused some machines to become unbootable."

    I read this and wondered what on earth had happened at Microsoft. What little glitch had been thrown up that missed their testing.

    Then I wondered more what happened to their communications department, because the messages haven’t been as clear as usual.

  2. littlebigdetails:

letterboxd - Uses famous movie quotes as their Captcha during sign up.
/via designedinorangecounty

This I love- much nicer than the usual garbled words, and really stays on brand and engages with the target audience. Could you ask for anything better?

    littlebigdetails:

    letterboxd - Uses famous movie quotes as their Captcha during sign up.

    /via designedinorangecounty

    This I love- much nicer than the usual garbled words, and really stays on brand and engages with the target audience. Could you ask for anything better?

  3. Social Media Primer- Part 2 - Who are your audiences?

    2. Who are your audiences?

    As well as knowing where they are, you need to know who they are.  If the people you are telling things to receive the message at the wrong time of day, or just aren’t interested, your efforts are lost and wasted.

    ·      Knnow who follows you. Analyse the data from your follow list, understand where they are from, their age demographic. Find and weed out the spammers and dummy accounts.

    ·       Know what time of day your followers are active. Are your followers working people (peaking at 9am, midday and 5pm) or late in the day users (peaking at 10pm?) or are they able to be online almost all the time (rare). If you post outside of these hours you may miss your audience. Remember most people’s feed of information moves so fast that for a message to be seen an hour later is a rarity. 

    Know what your audience is into - follow them as well. Look at what they do, follow, discuss and get involved. That way you’ll be aware of the times and concerns of our followers. If you list is too huge to follow, follow a small selection to get the same effect.

    Keeping the followers list clean and clear is important. If you are sending your message to thousands of spammers and only a few “real” accounts you cannot easily engage with your audience.

    Social Media is not about one-way traffic, it is about engagement.

    Time of day is very important in building engagement. Look at a your followers (or a selection of them) and see the time of days they are most active. Think about how their online activity times relate to the actions/engagement you are driving them towards  e.g. posting a voucher for free delivery for takeaway food at 7pm is missing a sector of the audience, who will get the voucher the next morning.

    Think about the volume in your followers list. You want to get your message to the top of their reading list just as they start to become active. Then you become one of their possible engagement points during this time. If your post arrives when they are engaged with other activities (tweeting conversation with friends, posting and watching videos) the pull to engage with you will be less.

    Catching the engagement window is like catching a wave surfing, it is all about timing, getting that moment that gets you noticed before other distractions crowd in.

    This engagement can happen off line also. If you are facing huge social network reaction against you, find the leaders and invite them in for a chat/coffee. They will come, as they will love the attention, and they will give you their undiluted opinion (although it will be softened by being face to face).  If you then show them that you take their complaints on board, and make changes to address them (visible changes) they will become advocates for you.

    This worked very well with Heathrow Airport and the Mumsnet community- building up a picture for the management of what it is actually like taking a family through the airport- and one of the first changes was family lanes on security.  

    Part 2 - Who are your audience- Checklist, and Technoboffin answers as an example:

    How many spammers are in my audience?

    There are a number of spammers following me on Tumblr and a smaller number on twitter. I manually clear my followers lists each day (because I have 1 to 3 followers per day). 

    Can I remove spammers from my audience?

    On twitter yes, on Tumblr this is a little more difficult. I don’t follow back any spammers.

    Can I say who and where my followers are? Does my follower list meet my demographic expectations?

    My twitter followers are mostly UK based, and mostly in the digital industry. This meets what I guessed my demographic would be. My digital fame still awaits me- one of these days I’ll go bloody viral :)

    What times are my users most active?

    My twitter account is mostly from midday (unless the tubes in London are impacted, then it kicks off a little earlier) until about 8pm or so. 

    What activities are my users engaged in at those times?

    Commuting to work, getting morning work underway, working, lunchtime, then evening and or travel home. 

    Should I have an offline meeting with influential online voices?

    I do coffee occasionally with what I consider influential online voices, generally because they are as funny over coffee as they are online.

  4. @bubblejobs gives good LinkedIn advice →

    The endless job hunt continues- but one of the brighter parts of my day is reading the @Bubblejobs posts. 

    This posting I especially liked- as I’m being sent LinkedIn profiles of people I am interviewing with- and so many people make these mistakes. Always amusing when they then ask me about my Social Media knowledge.

  5. Social Media Primer- Part 1 - Who are you?

    Social Media Primer and Digital Marketing.

    Digital marketing has roots in traditional direct marketing, with changes to the scale and scope of the engagement, specifically the speed and the reach of the message. It is about connecting with customers/audience through digital platforms (although those connection points don’t always have to be digital).

    Where traditionally messages about brands went from small group to small group, the digital technologies afford a larger potential audience. If your customers are engaged and enthused by your messages, they can tell more than the four people they met in the shops, influential voices can reach millions online very quickly.

    Social Media is the methods and tools used for digital marketing.

    What does it do?

    Good digital marketing gets your customers involved and engaged in your brand. It builds brand equity in the digital mind space, and builds a concrete, two-way interaction between brand and consumer (B2B or B2C).

    What it does not do?

    Automatically give you a new audience.

    Just because you appear on a social media platform does not guarantee you an audience.

    What is this primer?

    Focussing on the following questions, to cover a basic guide to getting a started with social media.

    1. Who are you?
    2. Who are your audiences?
    3. Where are your audiences?
    4. What to say?
    5. How will you interact?
    6. How do you measure success? 

    Note: originally published in a two part format while at prospect.eu

    1. Who are you?

    The currency of social networks is you and your words, pictures and deeds. Your social value, in other words, is you. You need to develop a personality for your brand that works in the digital space and is true to your values and what you believe in.

    Have a single persona for your organisation. Unless there is a burning external need for your marketing to be separate from your sales department, present a single unified identity on social media. If your most active followers are your internal departments, this does not look good from outside your company.

    Interaction Styles

    Your audiences and the people who read your posts will know you by your online behaviours and your engagement. There are a number of styles of behaviour in the social media space but they can be largely grouped into 4 categories: RTs (re-tweeters), Streamers, Aggregators and Creators.

     image

    There are three styles appropriate for a business or professional user, the “stream of consciousness” style being inappropriate for a business account. These styles are applicable across all of the social media platforms.

    The RTer

    Follows a large number of people, from the leading voices to the interesting oddities within one or more areas of interest, and RT’s (or reposts, or reshares or +1’s) links or tweets that are interesting. There is no attempt to comment on the information (over one or two words - usually Great!!)

    Pros:

    • Very easy to build up followers (a large number of people auto follow accounts who RT them)
    • Low energy expenditure
    • Keeps your account live and active
    • Simple to train users
    • Consistency of message generally not a problem
    • Can almost be automated

    Cons:

    • Almost no personality
    • No “pull to follow” 

    The Aggregator

    This at first glance looks like an RTer, but is different on closer inspection. The aggregator follows the brightest and the best and brings them into a single place, and publishes from there. This is common amongst the commentator accounts; some of the most obvious are @SocialMedia411 and @boingboing. They post links to others content but they always provide a nugget of analysis, explaining why the writing or analysis is particularly on the ball (or not and disagreeing).

    Pros:

    • Easy to build up followers (most people follow one or more aggregators)
    • Reputation builder
    • Creates a “pull to follow”
    • Can have a personality
    • Consistency generally not an issue
    • Easier to manage
    • Can have a focus related to your business

    Cons:

    • Takes some time reading articles and choosing best/worst
    • Building followers can be slow

     

    The Content Creator

    This is the hardest type to be. You can spend hours crafting an article together to find it gets only half a dozen readers. But you get to spread your voice and your message to the world, and suddenly you find your reach is wide, and you have active listeners and participants.

    Pros:

    • Personality plus
    • Able to spread word about your business
    • Become acknowledged as the “go to” for a subject
    • Creates a “pull to follow”

    Cons:

    • Building reputation/followers slow
    • Takes time and effort
    • Training for staff needed
    • Consistency hard to maintain

     

    Part 1- Who are you? Checklist, and Technoboffin responses as an example.

    What is my online persona? 

    Technoboffin is smart, widely read, and picking around the shore of the technical and design opinion ocean. A beach comber of interesting bits.

    Is my persona a mix of types? (Content creator and Aggregator is a common mix- but needs to be clear how much of each type)
    Am I an RTer, Aggregator or Content Creator, or a mix.

    Technoboffin is a mix of Content Creator and Aggregator - about 50/50 is my aim, but it depends on the time I have.

    Does it align with my brand persona?

    Technoboffin is the thought place for @drjharrison- it is cheeky, intelligent, catholic in it’s influences, enthusiastic and very much like talking with me over coffee.

    Do I have the resources to meet the commitment of my persona?

    This can be a real headache at times. You try and queue a lot of posts, but end up with either feasts or famine. 

    Does everyone representing the brand understand the persona?

    As Technoboffin is handled by one person- yes. 

  6. Hacked action gets no better →

    Hacking your photoshop to remind those who set our perceptions what they do.

  7. Keeping the peace between IT and Coding teams

    The DOs and DON’Ts of creating a good relationship between your Coders and IT

    In 2006, R&D Developers at a Fortune 100 company were building code for a new variant of a programme. They found the native virus checking to be an annoying obstacle to their work, and were allowed to become Local Administrators on their machines to disable it. A virus entered through a malware web address visited during testing and spread through the LAN into all unprotected machines. The clean-up took thousands of man-hours. In reaction to the security breech, the IT department released an improved virus checker that could not be disabled by Local Administrators, and it was rolled out to the R&D Developers. The new virus checker increased build times 400%, resulting in thousands of hours of lost productivity in the two weeks it took to uninstall. The new virus checker could only be uninstalled with intervention from IT, and a year later the company was still running two virus checkers with a large population of unprotected machines on their network.

    This sobering story is just one example of many where your Coders and the IT department clash while both are trying to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. It demonstrates just how tricky managing the relationship between your IT department and your Code developers actually is.  Get it right and you can sit back and contemplate your coffee.  Get it wrong and you’re at risk of losing countless hours of productivity. What can be done to ensure that it doesn’t go wrong? 

    There are seven keys to making the relationship work for both sides. As with the best business advice, the keys are in and of themselves very simple. It will be in practice that the “how” of these keys become evident. And like any tool, they will be more effective the more they are used.    

    1.    Accept that it will always be a fraught relationship

    These two factions are the competing übergeeks within your organisation - they both love their computers, codes and networks with a passion.  Set clear ground rules in the relationship.

    • Be Open: both sides need to clearly state their needs and priorities
    • Be  Clear: While both developers and IT speak geek and computer fluently, this can get in the way of real communication. Try to have conversations without acronyms.
    • Be Reasonable: If something breaks your work, it’s important. If something means a small change to your ways, it is less important. 
    • Be Respectful: Both developers and IT play vital roles for the company. Get them to be respectful towards each other, this may eventually build to respect. 

    2.    Understand what your Code developers need

    To write the software that is often the backbone of your company, Code developers will have some very specific needs and wants. 

    • Installations: Developers will need to be able to install their developer software, script languages, scripting tools, and a multitude of programmes. Different development teams will have different installation requirements; the testing and documentation teams will differ markedly from the code developers.
    • Updating system files: Developers will want to change all sorts of system files. Registry and hosts file changes are often needed to test software.
    • Creating multiple versions of key files: Developers often need to have several versions of Java installed. They may also need different versions of  .Net.

    The Code developers require these to fulfil their roles as a developers - they don’t want to spend time managing their machines and doing “IT work”.

    3.    Understand what IT needs

    To maintain a good corporate IT environment, the IT department will have some very specific needs and wants.

    • Standardised Environments: IT needs to have a known, small set of machines and Operating System variants to maintain.
    • Managing the environment: IT wants to prevent users changing their machines in ways that will introduce new variants for testing. 
    • Knowing the consequences: IT wants to be able to roll out changes to the computing environment fully cognizant of the implications

    IT wants the above in order to fulfil their role as an IT department - they don’t want to spent time managing problems and resolving complaints.

    4.    You have to treat the Code Development environment as a special case

    IT must know and understand what Coders are doing and are planning to do. 

    Work with the Coders: Help deploy Code development software. That means IT is aware of updates and changes and can plan around them. Note: this suggestion will upset both Coders and IT, because Coders considers IT to be inflexible and IT will worry about the amount of updates. Resolving this requires a light touch, both in terms of process and technology. If it takes 12 to 16 weeks to package and test a release, Code teams will look elsewhere, as this timing is too slow for them. 

    At the same time, IT will chafe at the idea of installing non-standardised software, which may be open source, have a small support group, or be outside corporate guidelines. IT will also resent the workload on the packaging team, and may seek to deprioritise any Coder packaging work. 

    Testing on Code Development Machines: Ask Coders to create automated testing of the most common steps in development (get SDK, get binaries, build, run). Have IT learn to use this and run updates through these tests. Note: this is again a big ask but a huge win. If IT can spot issues that could impact Coders in the early testing phase, a solution can be found prior to any roll out to the production environment. Catching potential problems early keeps them from becoming actual problems. 

    Deliver updates on a schedule: Coding teams agree to take tested IT updates on a standard schedule (same day each month). This means any overnight work (builds and automated testing) can be planned around potential reboots. Note: both Coders and IT will always want to cancel or change this because of an “urgent need”.  To manage this, ensure that only staff reporting to the CEO can stop this agreement. If it is important enough to get the issue discussed at this level, it is important. 

    5.    Coding teams will hate talking to IT (and vice versa)

    If you spend your day writing code, being walked through your settings when you know the command line shortcut to the same place is very frustrating.

    If you spend your day walking people through the trouble shooting process, having someone argue with you about your methods at each step is equally frustrating.

    It’s all about respect. Build on this quickly:

    • Ensure Coders problem’s are handled by your most knowledgeable IT staff at that level
    • Ensure IT staff handling Coder calls have an understanding of what the Code Development teams do everyday.

    This comes down to documenting, training, and up-skilling your frontline IT staff. 

    6.    Coders will hate talking to Code tool Developers

    When you create and maintain tools within your Coding department, you must maintain a small, focused support desk. This will take over the triage, training and some testing functions for the Coding Tools Development team. 

    Depending on the number of Coding teams to support and the number and complexity of the tools, this can be handled by a small team (less than 10 people). Don’t try to put in full IT processes - a light touch process and issue tracking tool will be sufficient. 

    This support team provides a catch-all point for the Code developers and the issues are then passed on to the correct Coding Tool Development team or off to IT.

    The IT department won’t be able to up-skill all of their staff to understand the Coding tools and processes. Note: they will try, but you need a team focused on supporting Coding tools, and this team need to be able to go through the processes for development of your code. If the support team can’t go through the code development processes, how can they confirm issues and test patches?

    The Coding Tools Developers won’t have the time. If you are trying to create patches and updates, the last thing you want to respond to is “How do I…?” questions and “It broke when I did this…” emails. Note: they will try, but will get frustrated at the interruptions in their workflow and provide less than ideal support - often referring to ‘functions as specified’ as a solution.

    You will need a strong manager with both a developer and a support background for the team. You need someone who understands both sides of this schism. They do exist, generally in telecoms network third level support teams.  For the other members of the team, this can be an ideal starting role for junior developers as they get exposure across the organisation. 

    7.    Manage the relationship

    Even if you follow the above six keys to the letter, success is still not guaranteed. This is a relationship that must be continually managed and guided. Someone has to keep checking and smoothing the friction points.

    Create a team of people equally respected (or equally hated - both work) by Coding and IT departments. This team must have liaisons in both departments from the mid-grade to the CEO level, and must be able to escalate issues through management levels.

    The team must be close enough to the Code developers to be able to understand how code is developed, built and tested. 

    It must be close enough to the IT department to understand ITIL, especially change management and problem management.

    Get the team right and the rest will follow. 

    These seven keys will lead to a functional relationship between your IT and your Coding departments. 

    Our Fortune 100 company eventually repaired their Coder/IT schism. A test plan was agreed between the camps and the virus checker settings were updated with input from the manufacturer until there was no more interference in the automatically tested Code Development machines. A roll-out plan was created to incrementally roll out to Code developers and any issues arising were picked up immediately (there were two, both due to hardware issues). In 6 weeks, a standardised virus checker was working on all machines in the company.

    Original version publish at Prospect.eu.

  8. Opportunity space- the interstitial space between physical and digital

    Currently the forward thinkers on the internet are looking for Web 3.0 - the Internet of things, the vision described by Bruce Sterling in Shaping things, where a physical world becomes able to be read and connected with digitally, bringing an overlain layer of information from the digital world to physical objects.

    The objects themselves don’t require connection to the digital world, this is not the world of fridges with IP addresses, but a new way of bringing data into the physical world.

    There is an interstitial space between the physical and the digital worlds, a gap between them, that needs to be bridged to make this a reality. The current crop of attempts at creating a physical digital connection all fall short, at both a technical and engagement level. There is not yet a frictionless method to connect.

    QR Codes fall short as they need a reader to decode the photograph, and then deliver the customer to a website, in most cases the site could be more easily entered directly as a URL in any browser by the user. There is a lack of transparency, as Bruce Schneier reports QR codes to malware sites are now in the wild. With most implementations there is a complete lack of interaction with the end user.

    NFC (near field communications) are still a nascent technology, with a limited ecosystem with only Android and Windows 8 phones. There are only a small number of applications, most focus around payments systems. An app is still needed to interact with an NFC point, the interactions are not yet integrated with the phone OS.

    Augmented Reality, overlaying information onto a camera view of the world, via apps from Layar and the like, has not moved beyond the novelty. It has not delivered on the early promise, due to the density of information, and the lack of usability in the current implementations.

    However apps such as The Night Sky work well at delivering an information layer, because the design is focused on information you will want at the time you want it. This lesson is usability seems lost by the majority of AR apps.

    New technologies for connecting with Smartphones, such as ByteLight which uses a high speed blink, unperceived to human eyes to communicate digital information (or location information). An app is required for smartphones to interpret the signals, and this is currently in early conceptual work, again an app is required to interact.

    This technical innovation in bridging the physical gap is only one side of the coin. As many early implementations show, with an amount of engagement, users will ignore the amount of friction and effort because they feel the payoff.

    However for a majority of the current implementations there is a complete lack of engagement with the customer- there is often little or no value to the customer in the information delivered from any of these apps, no reward for the effort the customer has gone through.

    So how to resolve this? It is all about engagement, not just as a buzz word, but as a way to enter a dialogue with your customers mediated by technology. Find ways to reward the customer for their effort, and ways for them to connect back with you. It’s not just about the likes and followers, the website metrics, it’s about the people who comment, respond and find ways to engage with you, including purchasing from you.

    In physical locations it’s about finding ways to engage customers in new technologies, using full motion sensors, face detection to build a reason for the passing customers to stop and interact. It’s about being able to pass information across platforms, from the flat screen/projection to my own device, and the information and context matching that allows for real engagement.

    A new world of these interactions are trialled with virtual dressing room mirrors in some stores, but as these require a level of technical sophistication to use them, and as they are limited in the information they can provide, giving no idea of draping and movement of clothes, they are little more than a “Tomorrow’s World” level gimmick. An interactive display in the street that allows me to try on the sunglasses from a closed shop with no ability to reserve my purchase, or send the information to my phone is little better than a static display.

    If the mirror could not only allow me to put together an outfit, but also make suggestions on what outfit would best suit my body type, and then assist in organising for these items to be ready for me to actually try on, then we would be making a start on the engagement needed for these ideas to take off.

    A web 2.5 future is close, when the experience is moved into a between platform space, the contextualisation of information switches from physical to large screen digital to small portable screen digital.

    That is the opportunity point I see at the moment. 

  9. Does Project Management Matter in design projects? →

    In my opinion good project management is one of the hardest balances ever. Should it all go right, no one will notice. Should it be going wrong, they’ll all be gunning for you. 

    Good project management is always thinking ahead and has a plan B (and sometimes through to D and beyond) sitting ready to go. Good Project Management is all about creatively solving problems- quickly identifying the root cause, the perception changes needed and putting forward pragmatic solutions. 

    You can survive a happy project without a Project Manager (and a very bad interfering project manager can derail a project, but that takes a lot of work). In a happy project the Project Manager is almost invisible, checking in on meetings, letting the designers and client talk quite happily (while staying in the loop), and ensuring reports and governance just happens. 

    You cannot survive a project going off the rails without a good Project Manager. Someone who can present a redo of the plans on a moment’s notice (because they sketched this out 2 meetings ago when they had a suspicion of a hint this might happen) and so keep the client happy, the team happy, and most importantly these days the finance team happy. 

    As to the article, Adam does make a few good points about Project Managers not interfering with the client/designers relationship, but he fails to see the Project Manager as the smoother of the relationship, the person who can play “bad cop” when it comes to ensuring the scope doesn’t creep and creep and creep. The Project Manager can keep everyone on track for meetings, and keep the ephemera of budgeting and governance away from the creative team, and let them get on with what they do well- designing beautiful practical things. 

    I am sure Adam has been on projects with good Project Managers, but because they were good and the project happy, he never would have noticed.

  10. LinkedIn Upgrade - in the UK Digital Market?

    I’m job hunting, you may have noticed this… (which is why I can post so much these days)

    So my question from about six months ago still stands- is it worth paying to upgrade to Job Seeker Premium? For the UK Digital Market? Will I get a decent ROI (even if only perceived)?

    I can see a benefit if you are in the US corporate big chip companies, or a recruiter. But I can’t quite see the use for someone like me, hunting for a job with small to mid agencies in London.

    Any thoughts?