Thursday, 28 October 2010


I've always been a bookworm. As a child, I was one of those that used to take a torch to bed so I could read under sheets. I used to go to the library and draw out a couple of books and read through them in a matter of hours.

Even now, I have large personal store of books. At the last count well over 700; a mixture of hard back and paper back. About 150 of these are technical reference books for various things or books for my studies.

When the concept of the ebook reader was first publicised, I was quite keen to see one. I thought that the concept was good and could see real value in it; but I wasn't quite so sure about the price. I've been hoping that some kind person would buy me one for a present (yeah right!) or that I might win one in some prize draw. But sadly, no such luck.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I decided that it was time for me to get one for myself. I had a number of Amazon vouchers which were from various sources, and I decided that I could trade these in as part payment on a Kindle. I bought one and a small leather wallet to keep it in. I also downloaded the software and got a number of free ebooks from the Amazon site.

The Kindle turned up just over a week ago, and I've been playing with it ever since. It is so good! The text is really easy to read even in strong light; I don't need to change the font size although that is an option. I had a couple of issues getting in synched through the wireless, but that was down to me typing the encryption key in wrong. Once I got correct, the device connected and updated everything straight away.

I've already gone through a number of books, and really enjoyed using the device. I don't think that I'm going to have a problem as it is supposed to hold about 3500 titles. At the moment, I've got some 2 dozen books stored; that should be enough for me to take on holiday in a couple of weeks.

The alpha numeric buttons are a bit on the small size, but as I don't use them that much, I don't see that as an issue. There are a couple of big buttons on the side to change pages and they are quite firm to use. The only real criticism is the silly button with the tiny square around it for the selection / entry; I'm sure that they could have designed something a bit more solid.

The Kindle also gives the option to have newspaper and magazine on the device; as you have to pay for those, I'm not so keen on the idea. But there is a particular magazine which I might sign up for, just to try it out. At 99p per month, I think that I can afford it. It's also supposed to allow you to read certain other types of files, but I haven't tried that yet.

As you can tell, I think that this is a great little device. I'm really pleased that I bought it, and I think it's well worth the money.

Monday, 4 October 2010

SharePoint Saturday 2010 UK

A couple of months ago, I first heard about the SharePoint Saturday UK event – not sure if it was through a tweet or an email. There have been a number of similar events around the world before, but this was the first in the UK.

I’m always interested in these types of events as they offer you the chance to learn new things, brush up on existing skills, and reinforce knowledge. It also offers the chance to network with other people in the industry, which I consider is always a useful exercise. On top of that, you often get the opportunity to speak with people that have highly specific knowledge of their topic.

SharePoint is a product that I have experimented with but purely for evaluation purposes. I believe that collaboration between staff is going to become a major initiative, and SharePoint is a tool that can really help bring people together and allow them to work more sensibly. I hoped that the event would enable to learn more about the latest iteration of the product and understand more about what it can do and what limitations it has.

The event was held at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole hotel at the NEC. This is a very nice location, quite central for most people (although a bit of a journey for me). The hotel had a lot of suitable resources and I think that it was a great location for the event. I should also add that the event was free to attend!

There were a really good mix of topics – some were quite technical, some were a bit more of a high level overview, so there was plenty for most people to get involved in. A couple even involved some demos of various issues which were really helpful. I particularly enjoyed the PowerShell administration demo by Penny Coventry; as I have been recently doing some work in this area, I was able to relate it to the stuff that I had been looking at, and had the chance to clarify a couple of small issues.

What was quite amazing was that the individuals organising and speaking at the event were doing so on their own time, and travelling to the event at their own expense. When you consider that a couple of them had travelled from the States, South Africa and further afield, this shows a particular level of dedication to the concept of passing on knowledge. Many other people have expressed their gratitude, and I think that I have to add my thanks as well; they certainly deserve high praise.

I also have to say that the buffet lunch provided was really excellent. I have to get the recipe for the Blue cheese, mascarpone and red onion quiche tartlets - they were really delicious and I must admit that I ate more than a few of them! Not good for the waistline, but for a one day event, very enjoyable indeed. My compliments to the chef!

Another big thank you has to go to the event sponsors; apart from paying for the whole day, they provided a large number of valuable prizes which were awarded at the end of the day. Among these were a Kindle, an iPad, an Xbox, about 70-80 books, t-shirts as well as some really valuable licences and training offers. There was almost enough on offer for most people to walk away with at least one bit of swag.

The day finished with SharePoint Saturday 2010 UK turning into SharePint; the chance for everyone to head for the bar. I carried out a completely unscientific study amongst a number of those present, and it was clear that everyone had had a great day; learned a lot, had the opportunity to see some really valuable demos and network with other like minded people.

If you missed the event and want the chance to see another, I would bookmark their web page and watch out for next year. I get the feeling that they hope that this can become an annual event. Certainly I wish them well; the work that was put in to organising it deserves the recognition, and I think that it could become a very valuable resource for anyone interested in learning more about an under rated piece of software.