All posts by Richard

Women in Technology: A Call for Obsoletion

Tomorrow, I’m going to be on a panel discussion about women in technology, moderated by the very inspirational, crater-shirt-rocking Karen Lopez. The discussion’s key focus is gender disparity in IT, the why and how and how much. And it got me thinking, both about women in technology, and about Women in Technology, and how the lack of the former is the why of the latter.

In 1991, women held 36% of all computer-related jobs in this country. By 2008, that percentage had dropped to 25. Of the few women who do go into the tech industry, even fewer stay more than a decade. According to a report by Dr. Catherine Ashcroft and Sarah Blithe from the National Center for Women & Information Technology:

“Forty-one percent of women leave technology companies after 10 years of experience, compared to only 17 percent of men…Fifty-six percent of women in technology companies leave their organizations at the mid-level point (10-20 years) in their careers.”

So that’s the what. But why? Knowing how to program might not always garner you an iPad and a $10k signing bonus, but it does, and has ensured relatively high pay for relatively low stress (in CareerCast’s annual list of best jobs, “Software Engineer” is always in the top 10). So why the dearth? Continue reading Women in Technology: A Call for Obsoletion

Around the World in 63 Days: a SharePoint Vacation

We’re officially three days into spring, but as any New Englander knows, “official” is code for “probably not going to happen,” or “snow falling on crocuses.” Which is what’s currently happening, by the way. There are two time-tested ways of dealing with late-onset SAD:

1)Drown it in liquid courage. Nowhere’s warmer than an Irish bar two hours after a Dropkick Murphys’ concert!

2)Nurse it under a palm tree.

Now, if you’re type 2, but a full-on vacation isn’t really in the cards, but you happen to work with SharePoint, you’re in luck.* These next few months are filled with top-notch SharePoint conferences in locales warm (Vegas), historic (London) and warm, historic and exotic (Lima). Here are 7 that caught my eye—if I’ve left any out, let me know in the comments! Continue reading Around the World in 63 Days: a SharePoint Vacation

Notes from the User Testing Files: Content Grouping

[Photo Credit: Jocko B]

Useability testing, be your testers sheep or goats, is a fascinating, frustrating and (hopefully) enlightening process. Once you’ve chosen your tasks and assembled your testers, you sit back and watch them use your site. Grapple with it, actually. You wonder: Why are you looking there? Don’t you see that tab? Can’t you tell this is a local search? Whyyyyareyoudoingthatstopitanddoitright!

This sort of thinking is counter-productive.

Your poor, beleagured tester is doing this instead of that because that is not obvious. Or, alternatively, this seems to be a more likely goldmine than that. If the latter is the case(something you’ll need to ask the tester during the debriefing bit) then it’s time to rethink your categories.

Let’s say you run an online boutique that sells clothing for dogs, Um, yes, these exist! And no, I don’t dress my dog in argyle. Yet. Continue reading Notes from the User Testing Files: Content Grouping

SQL Blogger Superlatives

When I get into the office each morning, the first thing I do is fire up the ole Google reader and revel in (and tweet about) the bounty of new reading material. In both quantity and quality, the amount of information members of the SQL community share on a regular basis is staggering. As a former full-time blogger?, I know just how much mental effort a well-constructed blog post can demand, and the fact that many bloggers are doing this for free, on top of their not exactly insignificant day jobs, is beyond impressive.  Sooo…where I am going with this? Well, I decided (in a bout of gratitude and high school nostalgia) do write up a superlatives list, yearbook-style. Of course, as I was the sole decider, many of you may disagree with my choices. (And, as my memories of senior year are, um, rather hazy, I may have missed some vital categories.) If so, feel free to let me know in the comments!

And now, without further ado, I present the Superlative SQL Class of 2011!

Most likely to be in a rock band: Thomas La Rock






Life of the party: Brent Ozar





Continue reading SQL Blogger Superlatives

5 Exciting SharePoint Apps

Choosing a SharePoint application isn’t exactly as easy as choosing one for Twitter, iPhone/iPad or Gmail—as of now, the closest the EIM behemoth comes to having a centralized marketplace is Microsoft PinPoint, which is hardly comprehensive. The majority of SharePoint apps and web parts are either sold by their individual creators or housed under a handful of big developers like CorasWorks, filtering and pinpointing (cough cough) the one you want a lengthy and inefficient process. Which isn’t to say there aren’t any good apps out there. There are plenty, but you have to look. (Or let me do the looking for you.) The following five apps stood out among the dozens I examined in terms of their usefulness, scalability and pop-factor (no dundering Windows 95-era dinosaurs here). Think I’ve missed one? Feel free to add it in the comments.

1) Loqu8 Insight

What it does: Billed as an “augmented learning” solution, this application provides its users with contextual pop-ups pulled from Bing, Google and Google Docs, foreign language translation services, LinkedIn and Salesforce while they’re in SharePoint, Outlook, Word, Excel and/or PowerPoint.


Example: Jerry is tasked with creating a presentation in SharePoint on how to use social media in the workplace. One problem: he doesn’t really know what this “social media stuff” is, so he activates Loqu8, selects the Bing or Google search tab in the Loqu8 pop-up window and then scrolls over those mysterious words. The window instantly populates with search results, including an article on using social media in the workplace. Cha-ching! Continue reading 5 Exciting SharePoint Apps