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Rule #1: DON'T DISREGARD this factor!

As many technology-driven people are in their families, we end up being the Nick Burns of the family.  We are often called on by our non-technical members of our families to explain, install, fix, debug, and generally be a shoulder to lean on for technology woes.

I'm no different. 

My mother-in-law, bless her heart, hates technology.  She views it as a necessary evil rather than a blessing.  Here's some things she's had wrong with technology (NOTE: had I not seen them for myself I wouldn't have believed it):

  • bad black printer cartridge - it printed only green
  • two defective hard drives -- to the clicking type of defect: one on an emachine, the other on a dell (after recommending a dell because they are more reputible than emachine)
  • docking station hardware failures to BSOD on her laptop
  • CD burners scratching backup data
  • failed USB keys
  • scratched scanner lense
  • defective wireless access point that would reset to manufacturer configuration every other day

As you can see, she has had some troubles...this makes her hate technology.

But she uses it.  But she doesn't use it well, in my opinon.  Here are a few anecdotes descriping the Mother-in-law Factor (MLF):

  • Bookmarks:  I was called into her office one day and she said 'you have to see this website I visited, let me find it.'  Perplexed, I waited.  She ruffled through stacks and stacks of stapled papers and produced the 'website' in paper form.  That's right, her bookmark system was printing out the websites she liked.  I tried to explain the concept of bookmarks, but she didn't trust them and to this day prints out her 'bookmarks.'
  • Saving in Word:  She couldn't find a file one day and I told her to look in My Documents.  She wondered why because 'I don't save them there, I save them in Word.'  She could not initially comprehend (and still doesn't a bit) the concept of an application versus documents and how they relate...to her, all her stuff was saved 'in Word.'
  • Email: let's not even go there...try explaining POP3 to your mom and why two different computers don't share the same email storage.
  • Wireless: she bought a laptop because it 'had wireless' and figured she could use it when meeting with clients (she's a real estate agent).  She didn't realize you needed someone to provide access to the Internet -- she thought that if she bought wireless it wouldn't be needed.
  • Database: how does she manage her client list.  In a database of course, unless you don't consider a 2-column Word document as a database.  Mail merges?  Oh she does that.  By hand.  Print out database, write on paper...that's her mail merge.  Every month she does this -- to about 100 people.  We finally bought her ACT...hasn't even been installed yet.
  • Plug-ins: she doesn't know what this is and if you mention it, she'll be looking for an outlet.

So as you can see, MLF is your least common denominator for technology.  Design to this personna.

Please don't disregard it, you'll be sorry.

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if you are jealous of the people who got the book at teched, well you can get it for free (in PDF form) now.

7 Development Projects with the 2007 Microsoft Office System and Windows SharePoint Services 2007

whew, as if our product names weren't long enough...here's the short version: 7 Dev Projects with MOSS 2007.

UPDATE: Leaving a comment below asking for the book will do you no good.  I don't own the book, nor did I ever distribute it...this was a link provided at this time over 3 years ago.

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wow!  responding to market demands, microsoft has just announced virtual pc will now be free!

sweet… get virtualpc for free now!

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[warning: if you are reading in an aggregator, this post has some video, so visit the site if you can’t see it]

well, some cool stuff hapening in the land of heat.  two really smart guys have been working on a project that one of them alluded to earlier this year.

well, i’ve been invited to beta test the site/product.  this isn’t necessarily a review of the product…i’ll have to download the end result and get motivated to exercise first :-), but i thought their use of technology use is cool and they are microsoft developers who are passionate about technology.

i think simon got motivate when came out at and wanted to leverage some of the features, but didn’t see any really helpful ui stuff until some of the things came out — i’m paraphrasing for him of course…he’s not here to defend himself, so there.

so what is ? basically it’s a ‘create-your-own-audio-workout-designed-by-you-for-your-designated-workout’ thingy.  seriously, check out their site for the real scoop.

so where are they using ?  well when you create a workout, you can see the and :

and when you choose what to add to your workout, here’s some :

there are some other places where it is used (updatepanel goodness, etc.) but these are some of the control uses.  i’ve seen other versions of the workout page and i know they are working on some interesting interactions, so there will be more to come i’m sure.  what is cool about this is that the site/user experience is *enhanced* by these implementations and didn’t take much effort to drop some of them in — creating a much nicer experience as you are editing your workouts.

the other cool use of the technology…the audio mixing.  this is being done dynamically, based on *your* chosen workout schedule, etc.  the audio beats, etc. are merged together when you mix the workout — it’s pretty cool.  i’m confident there are some high-tech oompa loompas working hard to mix your music to your workout…i haven’t seen them, but i know they are there — and they work fast.

anyhow, kudos to the team — it’s an intriguing idea and great use of microsoft technologies.  it uses (at least i’m pretty confident simon didn’t map .aspx extensions to something crazy like ruby or php ;-)), profile, membership, , sql server, whiz bang widget stuff, etc.  it’s all good.

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the latest valleyschwag shipment came -- check out the goods!