Month: July 2006

On vendor forums

Tony Byrne posted earlier this month about using community as a distinguishing characteristic during content management product selection.

A couple of colleagues and I were just talking about this earlier this week: Why do certain vendors make it so hard to find technical information on their products? The cynic in me says it is because they have something to hide. Product complexity. Complaining customers. Open support cases. Some vendors don’t want you to see that kind of stuff until after the deal closes. But does anyone really expect to find communities with 100% customer satisfaction and no open support cases?

I always thought IBM/Lotus did a great job with this and they still do. The old site is now under developerWorks. User forums are completely open. Technical documentation is freely-available. There are more learning resources than you can shake a stick at. And most are available without a login.

For open source, it goes without saying that the strength and openness of a community is an important factor in technology selection–without that you wouldn’t even think about implementing in production. In the closed-source world, I agree with Tony–for big vendors and small vendors alike, it makes sense to do some homework as part of your due diligence.

Links to info on SharePoint Server 2007

Many in the content management industry are curious to see exactly what is going to be included as part of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. CMSWire has a few links to some Microsoft resources in this recent post.

At Navigator we had at least one client that was betting heavily on the new release. They believed Microsoft’s promise that it will include web content management, records management, workflow and better security. As more and more people get experience with Beta 2 we should start to find out how well they’re going to be able to keep that promise.

In the meantime, if you’re ready to do an MCMS 2002-to-Alfresco conversion, just let me know.

Testdisk saved my Ubuntu bacon

Last week I got my Dell D820 running Windows XP set up to be dual-booted to Ubuntu. I used Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger) because that’s what I had handy. I was following Mathew J. Miller’s excellent instructions on how to do it.

My only problem came when it was time to install the boot loader. I had forgotten (or chose to ignore) the little partition that Dell puts on their hard drives. That meant that my Linux partition was actually number 2 (the third partition) instead of partition number 1 (the second partition) which is, unfortunately, where I told it to put the boot loader. Partition number 1 is my Windows XP partition–exactly where I did not want the boot loader written to.

And neither did Windows XP. On restart I got the dreaded “Missing operating system” error. “Thanks for the new laptop. Look what I did!”

I had used the Ubuntu Live CD to run QTParted to successfully partition my hard drive so I thought it might be able to get me out of the jam. But after the erroneous boot record write, QTParted didn’t want to have anything to do with that partition. It just threw up its hands.

I booted to the Windows XP Recovery Console and ran fixmbr as well as fixboot but neither of those were effective.

Fortunately, for times like these, there’s testdisk. Testdisk is a wonderful little utility freely-available under the GPL that can recover Windows, Mac, and Linux partitions. I booted into my Ubuntu Live CD, used apt-get to install testdisk (sudo apt-get install testdisk) and fired it up. I then disabled the “bootable” flag on the Linux partition and made my Windows XP partition bootable-primary. When I restarted, Windows XP was alive and well again.

I thought about leaving well enough alone–I was leaving for a client site the next day–but my success bolstered my partition recovery confidence. I formatted the Linux partition and re-did the Ubuntu install paying closer attention to the boot loader step. That time everything went off without a hitch.

I’m still getting used to Ubuntu. It’s a bit different than RHEL but overall I think it’s going to work out.

IBM developerWorks evaluates open source CMS

A team at IBM’s developerWorks has written an article on their evaluation of open source content management software. They were looking to build a closed community web site with freely-available software and ultimately chose Drupal for the task. The article covers the requirements, design, selection process, and gives a highlight of the customizations they made.

(I came across this while taking a look at Krugle, which is a code- and technology-centric search engine).

Big News: I’ve changed companies

This is pretty well-known by now, but I haven’t blogged it yet: I’ve left Navigator Systems (now Hitachi Consulting). On Monday I start my new gig with Optaros and I couldn’t be more excited.

Leaving was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I started working for Navigator almost nine years ago as employee number twenty-five. During that time I worked with extremely sharp people on some of the best clients in Dallas (and a couple elsewhere).

Beyond the sharp people and the cool projects, Navigator was just a great place to work. The character of the leadership, the radically open communication, and highly collaborative environment were all critical cultural elements.

In the end, though, it was time to move on. Time to start a new chapter. And I’m pretty pumped about who I’ve chosen to write that chapter with. Optaros first caught my eye a year or so ago. I came across Seth Gottlieb’s blog and added it to my blogroll immediately. Seth heads up the ECM practice at Optaros so at the time I figured he’d have some really relevant insights to leverage as I built out my practice.

As a followed his posts (and upon talking to Seth in-person at a conference) I could tell Optaros was a company that potentially had many of the same cultural characteristics as Navigator. And with its focus on open source it was pretty hard to resist.

So, long story short, I start with Optaros on Monday. I’ll be working with Optaros’ local business development guy to grow Dallas and the surrounding geography, playing architect roles on multiple projects, and working with Seth and others on open source content management research, publications, and presentations.