Sunday, January 28, 2007

Birds, Home Improvement Stores and Adaptation

I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself.

I was making my weekly pilgrimage to Lowes today, had my cart full of 90% of the things I needed for my tiling project (the remaining 10% to be discovered mid-project) and headed toward the checkout.

Since I go to this Lowes quite often, it was no surprise to see a few birds flying here and there. If I was a bird in Seattle, I could think of worse places to start a family than in a home improvement mega-store. I was imagining a sturdy nest with vinyl windows and radiant heating when I saw one bird head toward the exit.

'This could be grim,' I thought to myself as the bird swooped toward the glass doors. My home (the one I try to improve) has a couple panoramic windows that, every summer, cause a major headache for a few unfortunate winged friends. But just as I was anticipating the 'thwack', the bird did something amazing.

It dove low to the ground and then performed a hammerhead stall... right in front of the doors motion detector! The doors opened and the bird flew out!

And the bird didn't just get lucky-- nobody was entering or leaving the store. I believe it was actually a learned behavior, hammered home after many, many headbutts. But the fact of the matter is one bird figured it out, and I can only assume these birds talk-- or at least observe what works for their brethren.

I mentioned this to the cashier and she just said, 'Damn birds, always letting the cold air in!'

Perhaps being called a 'bird brain' isn't quite the insult it used to be.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Add In that Tied MS Project, SharePoint and Groove Together

[October 2008 Update - New, Improved BETA Available!]

Deep in the TeamDirection labs a new product is taking shape. It's goal, unify Microsoft Collaboration with an out of the box solution.

Here's how it will work:

TeamDirection's IntelliGantt Add In will add an extra set of menu options for Microsoft Project Standard or Professional.

This intelligent feature will let you share your tasks to a SharePoint 2003 or 2007 system, or to a Groove 2007 system. Right out of the box. No installation on the SharePoint server is required. No installation for Internet Explorer required. Your team members can use out of the box Microsoft tools to view their tasks and update them.

For instance, here's a standard SharePoint workspace with tasks published from MS Project:

And here is what that same task list might look like after your team members reported their progress:

Finally, at the project manager's discretion, the tasks are synchronized back with the original project. Afterwards, MS Project reflects the state of the project, as updated by users via their SharePoint workspace:

It's all in a day's work!

[UPDATE -- It's Available! Check out a few of the demos and give it a 15-day free trial today.]

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The First Presidential Blogger

For whatever reason, a scene recently popped into my head from the movie "13 Days". Actually, I know the reason: its that I fancy myself a corporate blogger. I imagine my blog posts affecting the captains of industry because, after all, that's how the captains of industry posts affect me. Which brings me back to the scene.

As the US and Soviet warships sailed inexorably closer to each other during the final hours of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Robert McNamara is shown at the Pentagon evaluating a giant map of the globe. One of his aides asks if he should interpret the data for the President, and McNamara responds with a revelation that the world has changed and that, because of technological advances, the middle men had been removed from the equation. In this new era, real time telemetry was, in essence, a means with which Kennedy and Khrushchev could engage in dialogue.

As I feverishly wrote the proper spin for my corporate strategy, I could imagine corporate titans across the globe analyzing my posts, laboring over nuance and looking for weakness.

But after my revelry, it occurred to me that world leaders are in the business of communication too. Remember all the CNN stories about world leaders communicating with each other via CNN stories? Of course, CNN had been on the air for quite a while, but these were the stories that legitimized it.

Perhaps President Roosevelt's Fireside Chats was the final step for legitimizing radio. The famous Kennedy/Nixon debate was the final step for legitimizing television. The question:

Would an honest to goodness presidential blog, written by the president himself, be the final legitimization of blogs? Aside from the fact that the first presidential blogger would immediately rocket up the technorati ranking, what better way for the president to communicate more directly with the people, and indeed with the world?

I can almost imagine the first presidential bloggers first post:

"My friends, I'd like to talk about the Middle East today..."

While I doubt the comments section would be of much use, just imagine the possibility that, one day, a few day-to-day thoughts could be posted by the president and read by the people.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Polling Our Audience

If you've been to our home page recently, you probably noticed our poll. If you didn't notice our poll, then you must have been talking on your cell phone and driving 'cause its pretty hard to miss. But just in case:

Take Our Poll

I thought it would be both fun and useful to see what customers and potential customers have to say with respect to projects currently underway in house. What I'm quite pleased about is the top two poll answers are the two projects closest to completion. How's that for marketing serendipity!

There should be a demo of the MS Project Add In next week, which is good timing as we are going over to Microsoft next week to talk to the project group. I'm hoping for general availability in the third week of January with a price point of $199.

The Basecamp integration is going well, but since its a bit more complicated, look for a demo by the end of the month with general availability in February.

I also noticed the MindManager Add In is quite popular, so we probably shouldn't wait too long for that. In fact, it's possible it may pass Basecamp integration as the second most requested feature.

Unless the Basecamp audience has something to day about that :)

Here's to an exciting 2007!