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The winds of change are blowing

I've had this phrase set on my various instant messaging clients for the past few days and it's prompted more than a few curious inquiries about just what is up.

This will be my last post here at The Office Weblog. I've been invited to contribute at ZDNet where I will be writing under the title "Office Evolution". Don't click just yet - I'll be back online sometime in the next few days, once the wires get twisted together and the lights start blinking.

I've had an incredible time writing here at Weblogs, Inc. I jumped when Jason Calacanis invited me to join a handful of other bloggers. Back then, the promise of this network was just that - tons of potential and and a lot of big dreams. These past two years I've had the great fortune to work with some fantastically talented people, make more than a few good friends, and have had a chance to speak with, interview, and pick the brains of a number of scary smart people.

After almost two years, nearly 2500 posts, and more than 2 million words, I am really excited about this new opportunity to explore the changing way we approach work:
  • Office: Not just the obvious office software suite coverage but also Software as a Service, Web 2.0 online applications, and the changing nature of office and knowledge work (think time-shifting, virtual teams and companies, telecommuters, and free agents).
  • Productivity: I love talking about techniques and tools to get more done. Whether it's Getting Things Done, a great new add-in for Outlook, a compelling life hack, or even a Moleskine Journal, if it relates to reducing stress and creating more time to focus on what's truly important, I'll be all over it.
  • Mobile Computing: From the Tablet PC to the Treo or Smartphone, we're getting cooler mobile toys every day. Not only do the latest mobile platforms offer more computing power, better battery life, and greater usability than ever before, the variety of form factors is increasing at an incredible pace. The recent introduction of the Nokia Internet Tablet and the refresh of the OQO palmtop are good examples of net-gen mobility tools that continue to push the envelope on portability and power. USB thumb drives with a complete suite of software are another trend I'm simply fascinated by and plan to cover.

As you can probably tell, I'm just a little bit excited. ;^)

Check me out at the new address and let me know what you think.

See you on the other side...

MindManager add-ins for SharePoint

Mindjet continues to find interesting ways to integrate MindManager into Microsoft's products. The latest addition is a set of add-ins that integrate mind maps into SharePoint, Microsoft's collaboration server. Maps can be posted to a SharePoint space and checked out for local editing using MindManager 6. Very nice.

SnagIt 8 redefines "best" in screen capture

I've been a huge SnagIt fan for a long time. It's a staple ingredient in my must-have list of tools. and it's one of the first things I install on my system when I either rebuild or get a new toy. TechSmith has just announced SnagIt 8 and the new features and shiny interface are a great example of an upgrade that delivers solid value, improved usability, and a whole new set of "this is so cool!" ways to think about using captured content. Here are a few of my favorites:

Copy Web Pages with Links: You can capture a Web page with SnagIt and all of the links remain clickable.You can save the capture in a number of formats that support embedded links: Web page with image (.mht), Adobe PDF, (.pdf) or Macromedia Flash (.swf). The links are embedded in the capture and clickable.

Add Interactivity: SnagIt’s new hotspot feature makes adding interactivity easy. Use SnagIt’s hotspot feature to specify parts of the image that can display text or images when moused over or open a Web page when clicked. These interface features allow you to add helpful hints, explanatory illustrations, or even create a functioning prototype of a Web page or application interface.

Save as PDF: Self-explanatory. Save any screen capture as an Acrobat file - a great addition to the wide range of file types SnagIt supports.

A comparison chart showing all of the features in SnagIt 8 and earlier versions is here. A new SnagIt 8 license can be yours for a very reasonable $39.95. If you are a current user, you can check your upgrade availability from SnagIt itself on on the web - discounted upgrades are available for current customers. If you've yet to try this indispensable tool, a 30-day trial version can be downloaded here.

Happy 250th Wolfgang

Today is the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Google marks the occasion with a nice logo and search results page. NPR has a slew of articles and links.

I remember as a kid going with may parents to the Young People's Concerts at Lincoln Center in New York. These concerts, performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra were first led by Leonard Bernstein and later by Michael Tilson Thomas. I have fond memories of trips to the city to listen to some fabulous music followed by lunch (usually crepes at The Magic Pan) and maybe a trip to F.A.O. Schwartz (if we didn't fidget too much during the concert).

Mozart was one of my favorites because of the stories the great conductors told about him and the awe they obviously held him in. My other favorite was Stravinsky. It wasn't until years later that I learned how scandalous this was ;^)

Claritude releases SpeedFiler for Outlook

Claritude Software has officially released SpeedFiler. I've covered SpeedFiler during its beta phase (here and here) and have found it to be a welcome addition to my Outlook environment. The two things this add-in does that have saved me enormous amounts of time are:
  • Filing new e-mails in a subject folder rather than dumping them into the Sent Items folder. I don't always want to do this but when I do, it's a great time saver. You have the option of selecting any folder as the default repository for new e-mails you send or, like me, can choose on an individual message basis when you want to redirect where the message gets filed.
  • Keeping my hands on the keyboard. I can file any message by invoking the SpeedFiler hotkey (CTRL Shift V) and typing the first few letters of the destination folder's name. Much faster than using the mouse. I tend to use the SpeedFiler toolbar wen I'm in pen mode on my Tablet PC which is also a great time saver since SpeedFiler caches the most recently accessed folders in a handy drop-down menu.
A single license costs $19.95 and a trial version is available.

Firefly Season 2 - help make it happen

Shiny. The Firefly saga may not be over yet. A group of folks are trying to bring back one of my all-time favorite sci-fi series are rallying the browncoats to demonstrate there is enough fan support to warrant a new series. Alternative distribution is the key - they're thinking about pay-per-view, monthly DVD mailings, and streaming episodes to your PC or Mac. You can create a profile to add to the demographic data they're assembling to convince the production and distribution companies this can fly. Check it out, add your profile, and keep your fingers crossed.

UPDATE: From the Season 2 page, it's clear this is an independent effort:

"We are an independent production company and core group of Browncoats. We are not affiliated with 20th Century Fox or Universal Pictures.

We are currently pursuing the rights to continue the series from Fox and make it available to the fans, either directly or via another broadcaster.

The optional information collected at this site is simply used to determine where and how the series should be marketed to consumers. (that's you!)

This site is NOT a solicitation for funds. If anyone claiming to represent this site, or any other site for that matter, asks you for money or sensitive personal information, you should report it immediately."

Hyperwords extension out of beta

Hyperwords is a new Firefox extension that provides an incredible range of actions you can perform on selected text on any page you can open in your browser. Options include search, reference look up, mapping, tagging, blogging, and e-mailing. I love the power!

What I didn't love in the early beta releases was Hyperwords popping its menu every time I selected some text. Simply stated, it got in my way. I mentiond this to the developers and they assured me hat the official release would provide control over how the menu was invoked. I'm happy to report that Hyperwords now provides a number of options to manage the menu's appearance (see image below).

Every option in Hyperwords has a single letter shortcut key associated with it so you can quickly invoke a particular operation by a series of letters to execute the command you wish to select. For example, if I want to tag a page in del.icio.us, I simply tap g, p, d.

Hyperwords is free and currently works in Firefox 1.5 on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. An Internet Explorer version is being considered.

Que jumps into eBooks - offers free Office 2003 guide

Que Publishing has jumped into the eBook business and is offering a free eBook guide to Office 2003 to introduce their new electronic versions of the 10-Minute Guide series.

Que is offering a free download of the 10-Minute Guide to Microsoft Office 2003 (PDF e-Book) for free to quickly learn how to use Office task panes, customize your Office applications, use the Office web integration features, and migrate from your older version of Microsoft Office to the 2003 edition. This PDF e-Book can be printed, saved, and e-mailed without limitations.

A full line of 10 Minute Guides on all of the Microsoft Office 2003 applications are available in Secure Acrobat PDF format (DRM restrictions apply on saving the file and printing) for $6.95 each. The current promotion knocks 10% off that price. Registered members of the site get a 30% discount which brings the price per title to under five bucks.

No more personalized menus - hooray!

Jensen Harris reports some very welcome news on his Office blog - Personalized Menus will no longer be switched on by default when Office is installed. Since the introduction of this feature, the default preference in Microsoft Office has been to have the Personalized Menus feature - one of Microsoft's most ill-advised attempts to be helpful IMO - turned on by default.

Personalized Menus truncate every menu in Office applications in an attempt to make navigating easier. The theory was that, over time, Office would learn which menu items you used most often and would present those options in the shortened menus. The very first thing I do when I do a fresh install of Office is turn this feature off.

Now you might be thinking this isn't such a big deal - what with the new Ribbon UI in Office 12. Yes and no. Many of the Office applications (the main Outlook UI, Visio, Publisher, Project) are not getting the new interface in Office 12. There are a number of reasons why and Jensen has written some great posts explaining the reasoning behind these decisions. The long and short of it is this - beginning with the next build, Personalized Menus will only show up if you want them to.

Gmail update: a Delete button

At first I thought I was seeing double. Long frustrated by Google's refusal to add a delete button to Gmail, I had installed the compiled Greasemonkey script I posted about a while back and it's been working fine. A short while ago, I clicked on the button and... nothing happened. I looked to see what might have gone amiss and saw not one but two Delete buttons. I disabled the add-on button in the extensions dialog, restarted Firefox and...


There was a shiny new Delete button. This hasn't been officially announced yet (no red text at the top of the page) but the Digg kids are all over it. If you use Gmail, expect to see it show up sometime soon.

Time Bandits: a great GTD article in American Way

I just received a note from a business acquaintance that he'd just finished reading "Time Bandits", an article in American Airlines' in-flight magazine about David Allen's Getting Things Done productivity system. He told me it made the article even more enjoyable because he knew a certain blogger who was quoted throughout the piece. Chris Tucker, the author, interviewed me months ago. Frankly, I had all but forgotten about our chat until I got the e-mail this evening.

It's a fine article (no, not just because I'm in it). Tucker does a terrific job documenting how GTD has impacted individuals and companies large and small. My blogging buddy Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, is also quoted in the article.

It's been quite a month (and it's barely half over).

Google honors MLK with today's logo

"I have a dream... " I remember hearing Dr. King's most famous speech (I was a lad of 9 at the time) and the uproar, furor, passion, and celebration it ushered into our lives. Over the years, I've listened to this speech many times and it has never failed to touch me deeply and give me hope. These closing lines give me chills... always have... always will.

"And when this happens, when we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.""

SpeedFiler 1.0 release candidate

Claritude Software has just announced the first Release Candidate of their forthcoming SpeedFiler add-in for Microsoft Outlook. Installation instructions and download information is available here. I first discussed SpeedFiler in a December post. It is a lightweight* add-in for Outlook that makes the process of filing incoming and outbound e-mail messages a lot easier and is quite adaptable to a number of productivity workflows including Getting Things Done and Michael Linenberger's Total Workday Control.

SpeedFiler will cost $19.95 for a single-user license when it is released. A discount is offered if you subscribe to the Claritude e-mail newsletter.

* Lightweight, in this context, is a good thing. As many Outlook users know, some add-ins can consume significant RAM and CPU resources and make Outlook... well, cranky. I've found SpeedFiler to be very well behaved in Outlook 2003.

Call Log makes the Treo even more useful

Chapura has released a great tool that makes the Treo 650 an even more powerful mobile tool. Call Log allows you to take notes related to any call you make (or receive) while you are on the call or after the fact. These notes are then synchronized to your Outlook Journal as a new record associated with the contact you were speaking with.

I use a Bluetooth headset when I'm on a call on my Treo to keep my hands free for other essential tasks (like holding the steering wheel when I'm driving - but that's another sermon). As I've been using Call Log for the past couple of weeks, I've been typing notes right into the call log record as I talk. Which means I no longer have to be sitting in front of my PC or rely on pen and paper to capture notes from the call. It's a great mobility solution.

These notes are easily accessed in Outlook once I've synced where they can then be transferred to a mind map, e-mail message, or other digital file. And, as an added bonus, Call Log lets me use the Treo's 5-way Navigator in a way the standard Call Log application built into the Treo doesn't.

Call Log costs $29.95. A trial is available.

egoSurfing - like web surfing only it's all about you

The latest game to measure your online cred is called egoSurf and it searches across a number of domains including Google, Yahoo!, and Technorati to determine your score. The score is curious at best and suspicious at worst but the toy is fun to play with and the resulting multi-dial display would make a fighter pilot smile. You can subcribe to an RSS feed for your egoSurf too (not sure why you'd want to do that but you can). I was going to pretend to be shy and retiring but since a number of other bloggers, including my podcast partner James Kendrick, have been posting their scores, I figured I'd play along.

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