Category Archives: Collaboration

BlackBerry has great features you may not be using

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The BlackBerry’s physical keyboard lets you take advantage of many shortcuts. Some are obvious, like using the space bar to page down; and holding Shift at the same time to page up. You can actually move back and forth between applications without navigating back to the screen. Press Alt and Escape, then release Escape and use the trackwheel on the side of your phone to select the desired program. Then press Alt again to select it.

When you are checking a list of emails, hit C to compose one yourself. When an email is highlighted, press R to reply, F to forward it or J to see the oldest message in that email chain. In the body of a message, pressing the space bar twice inserts a period and capitalizes the next word.

Press the left Shift and Alt at the same time to activate the number

lock. Or press the right Shift and Alt for the caps lock. Holding any letter

down will capitalize it. Using AutoText code in email can save time. Type “my

number” to display your BlackBerry phone number; LD for the local date.

Check BlackBerry Support and Services for more tips.

 

Should I Start A Wiki?

Logo of DokuWikiImage via Wikipedia

 

I have written about several web-based collaboration tools, but have not dedicated any space in this blog to wikis. I often use Wikipedia and have been involved in projects completed by utilizing wikis as collaboration platforms. Now it’s time to shed some light on them as wikis can be very effective in managing group projects.

Tikiwiki.org features a pretty sophisticated collaboration and project management or maybe even an online community platform. TikiWiki can be your Groupware/CMS (Content Management System) solution. It has the following features:

  • Wikis (like Wikipedia)
  • Forums (like phpBB)
  • Blogs (like WordPress)
  • Articles (like Digg)
  • Image Gallery (like Flickr)
  • Map Server (like Google Maps)
  • Link Directory (like DMOZ)
  • Multilingual (like Babel Fish)
  • Bug tracker (like Bugzilla)
  • Free source software (LGPL)

DokuWiki provides less customization options than TikiWiki. Small business owners may prefer this solution as it is easy to implement and use. Some organizations may even set DokuWiki up as a website, especially when they need to provide information such as guidelines or purchasing policies.

The most popular wiki (open source) currently available is MediaWiki with familiar interface (Wikipedia).

Creative instructors can use wikis to make courses more interactive and engage today’s students in a range of environments such as high schools, small colleges, universities, and online schools.

For more detailed information about wikis go to Stewart Mader’s blog Grow Your Wiki.

Not convinced? Watch Wikis In Plain English.

Extra credit assignment:  Watch Blogs vs. Wikis.


Google Docs – Create documents, spreadsheets and presentations online

I am very impressed with the increased capabilities of GoogleDocs application. Not only can you upload, store and edit your existing files, you can also use well designed templates,  collaborate as well as edit and present with others in real time. 

Templates include business plan, resume, letterhead, business cards, presentations and more. 

Are you stuck in an airport for hours and would like to use your time wisely by working on your schedules, albums, or wedding plans? Google Docs enables you to do that as well if you have a gmail or Google account, accessible via web from any place with an Internet connection.

GoogleDocs Help Center provides answers to your burning questions. You will find how-to videos and easy to read instructions.

Going Virtual – Going Green

Several factors are affecting company travel plans this year.

Energy costs. Because of high fuel prices, airline tickets cost more. Also add the cost of lost time, the hassles of going through airport security lines and late arrivals.

All of these situations are making air travel a less attractive choice. The days of flying cross country for a one-hour meeting are disappearing. Increasingly, virtual meetings are replacing travel. Researchers for Hewlett Packard and Cisco Systems, who studied body reactions, say that co-workers in different states and countries experience the same chemical responses to virtual meetings as to face-to-face meetings.

Travel by car for distances of 200 miles is less of a hassle than flying. But it takes more time than conference calls. And it costs more, 58.5 cents a mile.

It’s not just time and money. The frequent-flyer lifestyle can wreak havoc on a person’s health and family life. People who are involved in virtual meetings seem to be pleased with the reduction of air travel.

Here are some web-based options for webinars and online meetings:

GoTo Meeting

Webex

ConferenceCall.com

Skype

Consulting firm BDO Seidman, quoted in Business Week, says it’s not just about travel reduction, it’s also about increasing communication. They say meeting more frequently and in short bursts of time is more productive than flying off to long meetings.

Most companies are considering the green factor in all of their decisions. Flying and driving less will reduce a company’s carbon footprint.


Indexed Outlook – Marketer’s Dream

Millions of people including myself use Outlook as their main email program. Many of these users are frustrated when they can’t find email addresses and phone numbers they are looking for. Outlook can also slow down significantly. A company, called Xobni was created to fix these problems.

“Using Outlook today is like taking a Volkswagen Beetle into space,” founder Mr. Adam Smith said. “People are kind of exerting all these stresses upon it that it wasn’t originally designed to withstand.”

Xobni is introducing a new downloadable tool that plugs into Outlook. This tool indexes all the e-mail in Outlook and makes messages quickly and easily searchable. It is available at www.xobni.com.

Are You Using Dimdim?

I am always looking for new and cool web-based tools that I could introduce to my customers and utilize myself. That’s how I found Dimdim when it was still in alpha testing.

With Dimdim you can share your desktop, show slides, collaborate, chat, talk and broadcast via webcam with no download required for attendees. Dimdim’s mission is to enable web collaboration for everyone.

After 3 rounds of beta testing, Dimdim is less buggy and open for business. Anyone can sign up and hold their own web meetings using Dimdim. Customers who prefer to customize or brand their own web meetings, can purchase Dimdim Pro for only $99 per year. Institutions in need of larger meetings can purchase Dimdim Enterprise for less than half the cost of existing solutions.

Unlike other web conference products, Dimdim does not require users to install software on their computers to attend web meetings. Users can initiate or join meetings with couple of clicks. Basic version of Dimdim is available for free. Dimdim is an open source software, therefore users can extend and improve it freely. It already integrates with CRM and LMS software and can be extended. Dimdim is available in hosted as well as onsite configurations and easily customizable. It is easy to set up….took me 10 minutes or less.

Cons: You may hear some echo during the meeting. Does not let users record their web meetings.

Mr. Microsoft’s Chase After Ms. Yahoo

I have been following Mr. Microsoft’s chase after Ms. Yahoo and have to announce today – this “soap opera” did not have a happy ending, or maybe it was Mission Impossible after all….

Mr. Microsoft did not win Ms.Yahoo’s heart. He tried, adding more bells and whistles to his marriage proposal, but Ms. Yahoo said NO and is still waiting for a Prince On A White Horse to come and rescue her from the Land of Uncertainty. Ms. Yahoo has been winking at Mr. Google who is way more skilled than her at search and online advertising…but their relationship is still in the early stages, and the two of them have not found solid common ground yet…..

Something tells me that this story will have a sequel as Mr. Microsoft is restless, desperately trying to find a partner who would balance his shortcomings in web advertising and search. He was hoping to create a harmonious island (cloud) with Ms. Yahoo, but did not find the right key to her heart.


Ms. Yahoo Becoming Friends With Mr. Google

I did not think I will be blogging about Mr. Microsoft again today, but the relationships I am following are getting more and more complex. While Mr. Microsoft is learning to be social, Ms. Yahoo is getting close and personal with Mr. Google. Ms. Yahoo and Mr. Google were rivals, but they seem to be becoming the new best friends. Mr. Google wants to maintain its leadership role in the online advertising arena as well as control search space, and Ms.Yahoo does not want to get married to Mr. Microsoft. She has perhaps checked Mr. Microsoft’s Facebook page and does not like what she sees. She definitely dislikes the proposed prenuptial agreement.

Mr. Microsoft is Not Anti-Social After All

As it turns out – Mr. Microsoft is not as anti-social as I claimed in one of my previous blog posts as it has collaborated with Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, LinkedIn and Tagged to enable its users to access their contacts from more web portals. The collaboration includes an exchange of application programming interfaces that will allow users to move their contacts and relationships between Windows Live services and social networks more safely and securely.

Well, maybe Mr. Microsoft has found his new role as a security policeman of social networks?

The Internet might eventually turn into a web of user-controlled web networks that focus on the interests of the individuals, compared to the community-run platforms. As data is freely transferable over the Web, users can easily recognize information of interest. User-oriented content is replacing writer-oriented content. Just like blogs are starting to replace home pages. Security issues can’t be overlooked, however.

Map Your Mind and Keep Track of Your Time

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I discovered another cool tool while working on a SWOT analysis for my client. It is easy and fun to use, a free version is available. Use Gliffy to create diagrams, floor plans, flow charts, and wireframes for your web site. Created diagrams can be published as images or URL to Blogs and Websites. You can even share your diagrams with others. I like the revision control feature – team members can sometimes get too creative with their add ons.

I have been looking for a web-based solution to track my time spent on different projects. I had wished to find a widget that I could put on my desktop. That’s how I found Harvest. The $9 per month solo plan is perfect for the freelancer who is working on several projects and is looking for that extra level of organization for time tracking and reporting.

Features:
• 1 active user
• 20 active projects
• Harvest Timer
• Expense tracking
• Estimates tracking
• Daily backups
• Excel/CSV export
• QuickBooks export
Basecamp integration
Harvest Widget

A free trial is available.