Friday, March 18, 2011

How to Use IE7 in Windows 7

Try to ignore the fact that this post is about a Microsoft tool. After my rant about how Microsoft people are horrible, anyone reading this is probably a bit perplexed about the title.

To make a long story short, I got a new laptop, and it came with Windows 7.

I am working on deploying live chat software for a client, and despite my hatred of Internet Explorer, more than 50% of the world's population still uses it, and it's up to me to put aside my personal distastes and make my clients' happy.

I found a bug in IE7 using IECollections. Generally, when I find IE bugs that I can't seem to immediately find the answers to, I figure it's just caused by the fact that I'm not using a real version of IE7. I spent over an hour trying to find someone in the organization who had IE7 installed, and another 20 minutes trying to get a screen share started to verify that we were really looking at IE7.

Well, after stumbling around Webmasters Stack Exchange, I found this question about How to Test IE7 on Windows 7. It turns out it's very simple. That link will show you a picture that will speak a thousand words. Go ahead, check it out!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

StackOverflow Changes Name to StackExchange

The best time to make changes to something is during times of change. If you know your name isn't marketing your products to the right target market and need to change it, the best time to make that change is when everyone is watching, such as when you're recently awarded $12 million in venture capital funding.

If no one is watching and you change your name, there is a very strong likelihood you could skip away into obscurity. If no one was paying attention, there will be no transition of existing brand loyalty and brand recognition to help keep you afloat.

The name "StackOverflow" speaks to programmers, but it is meaningless to non-programmers. Non-programmers know "StackOverflow" as some wierd, obscure programming term. If you're a Motor Vehicle Repair enthusiast and your friend tries to convince you to join this Q&A network that was originally a Q&A site for programmers called StackOverflow, they may look at you like your crazy and pretend they never got your email invite to the private beta.

The reason for the name change was to fit the contours of the other Q&A sites that have absolutely nothing in common with programming. It was a strategic decision, and it was the right decision.

It's important to understand that the famous programming Q&A Site,, is still called Stack Overflow. The company changed it's name, not the Q&A site itself.

I am working on one of the newest Q&A sites, targeted at project managers. Project Management Stack Exchange is in public beta and has some great, experienced users who are able to help answer your professional project management question. If you have project management experience, we could use your expertise. Sign up for an account today!

Monday, March 7, 2011

How to Convince Project Team Members to Use Web-Based Tools

As Web technologies get more and more advanced, and as user interfaces become richer and snappier, desktop tools will decline. However, it's tough to convince some people to use the Web based tools.

According to this resource on How To Encourage Team Members to use Web Collaboration Tools, it's important to get over the initial reluctance.

There are some tips that you can use to help motivate people to accept the change:

Show them the value of the tool

Managers want to know that the tool isn't something that you just happen to find on some obscure website that hasn't seen a pageview of more than 10 in the last two years. From a risk perspective, if no one else is using the tool, then what's the point of the original developers spending their time maintaining it. Managers want to see that there are recent updates and that other reputable organizations are using the tool. It also helps to show a Google Insights search demonstrating upward trends.

Get support from others in the organization

As a project manager, it's your job to persuade people to join your cause. To accomplish this, you'll need to be attentive to who your audience is. While managers want to see low risk, employees on the team want to know that it's not going to create more unnecessary processes that impede their workflow.

The best time to try something new is during a time of change. For example, if the team has reorganized and has a new technical leader, he or she may be open to new ideas simply because no patterns have yet been established. If the team has new employees, the training they receive can include the new software. Trainers should approach the new employees with the software as if it were something already used within the organization.

Sign up users for a test drive

Sometimes the best way to gain support for a new tool is to just simply start using it. For push-based tools like Basecamp or Manymoon, this is easy, just sign up members of your team so that they get emails from the tool. With Basecamp, for example, the users who reply to the emails end up unwittingly using the tool. After a few weeks, it will become a habit to continue using it.

Some of these tips were originally suggested by Pawel Brodzinski, a consultant and coach in the field of software project management. For more information, check out the Project Management Stack Exchange Q&A Site.