Welcome to InterconnectNow - Interconnected Technologies' blog about technology and other items of interest to small businesses and individuals.

The topics here will usually deal with productivity-enhancing technologies of interest to small businesses and individuals, but are often of broader interest.  Productivity is the goal of all of this technology that we use. Enabling productivity through refining or adding technology-based capabilities is what we're obsessed with at Interconnected Technologies, and so this blog is dedicated to discussions of all things related to that.


Entries in Cloud computing (23)


Quick, efficient meeting scheduling

A minor holy grail:  the ability to quickly come to a group consensus about when to hold a meeting.  Yes, if everyone has Exchange or everyone uses Google Calendar you can accomplish something like this.  And, there are many, many tools like www.meetingwizard.com that faciliate this, but most of these tools are quite cumbersome to use, requiring that the user pre-enter the names and email addresses of the rest of the group being scheduled. 

Enter www.doodle.com.  Now, I have no idea the pedigree, longevity, etc. associated with this tool/site, but from a usability point of view, it's top notch!  To create a "survey" as they call it, you click on the days on a calendar grid to select the choices, enter the possible choices of times on those days (in a remarkably free-form way), and you're done.  You receive an email with a link to the survey.  You can forward that email to anyone you want, but presumably to the people with whom you want to meet, but ANYONE who receives the email can chime in on their availability, making it possible for one of the attendees to themselves ask someone to join the meeting.

OH!  And as people enter their availability, you, as the instigator of the meeting, get status updates with links back to a very visual grid showing, and tabulating, everyone's availability.

I'm just trying it out, but so far it's a very simple, very powerful, VERY efficient tool to accomplish the dreaded "when should we meet?"


Google may have something - marrying Gmail with one's own email address

Google offers the ability, after some occasionally-complex steps, to keep one's own email address while adding the benefits of some of the features of Gmail to the mix.  Those of you who've talked to me about it know that I'm not a big fan of the Gmail user interface (which I think is awkward, klunky, inefficient, unattractive, inconsistent, and so on), but the core functionality of Gmail is quite good, especially with the addition of Postini spam filtering (Google recently bought Postini). 

The steps to implement this are as arkane as the benefits are real.  One can obtain many of the benefits of a hosted Microsoft Exchange account (which is still the gold standard, and at $8/mailbox doesn't cost a lot of gold) for free and without having to become my-name-was-taken@gmail.com.  Gmail can achieve synchronization with a variety of mobile devices while at the same time allowing users who love a web interface to have mail/contacts/calendar that way, and users who prefer a more responsive local email client like Outlook or other mail clients to use them.

Setting this up is not for the faint of heart.  I've done it a few times now and still don't have all the subtleties completely documented (some of them are real doozies!).  That's where InterConnected Technologies comes in - we know how to do it now!


Surprising aspects of technology

"Why would I want to pay $8/month for email when I can get it for free?"

That was my first reaction when I heard about hosted Microsoft Exchange email. Boy has my thinking changed after using it!

In thinking about what I wanted to say about hosted Microsoft Exchange email on this new site, it occurred to me that amongst all the things that people usually say about Exchange, and things that I will no doubt say on this site, there is one aspect of it that hardly anyone focuses on, and it's one surprising aspect of it that perhaps is one of its best features: freedom from any one computer.

Think about it: if you use Outlook (as most people still do), and if you have regular email provided by your internet service provider, and if your computer failed right now, what is one of the first things you'd wonder. If you're like most people these days it's "how am I going to handle my email?"

Well, with Exchange, the answer is easy: on any computer, or on your mobile device. You see, the mobile device support and Outlook Web Access support provided by Exchange mean that even if your primary machine crashes, is stolen, is somewhere else, you can still access all your "Outlook stuff" - email, calendar, contacts, tasks and notes.

People who use web-based email have experienced this by default, but they're also experienced the drawbacks of purely web-based email: it's only email (until recently), it's relatively slow, and it's ONLY there when you are online. With Exchange, you get the best of both worlds: the speedy performance of Outlook on your local computer, plus the freedom to access that same information anywhere you are!

Some people will try to compare Gmail or other modern free email services to Exchange, but those comparisons rapidly reveal the value of Exchange.

If any of this resonates with you and you don't have Exchange, we should talk!

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