Monthly Archive: March 2004

Users Don’t Know What They Want

Users don’t know what they want!. 

I have developed quite a few systems, and worked as an architect and systems integrator on many more and it’s always been pretty clear to me that in general users don’t know what they want.  Even if the user takes the trouble to write a specification, in the end it won’t meet their requirements for at least one of the following reasons:


  1. The most likely is that they are not the customer, they just happen to be nominated as the customer’s representative.  If you are lucky it’s because they are respected by the customer community for being in touch with their needs, unfortunately that’s rarely the case.  I once had a customer who described his requirement for an aerodynamics analysis platform as, “I need a mega-floppy Unix box”. At first I thought he was joking but that really was the limit of his capacity to explain his requirement.  The guy could do computational fluid dynamics but he had no concept of his needs.

  2. Even if the customer rep really understand the requirement they often don’t have the skills to communicate that requirement

  3. If they can define the requirement they …

Who will Longhorn appeal to?

Right now it seems to me that Longhorn is being targeted at three communities:

  1. Home users, particularly those looking for a great multi-media experience

  2. Knowledge workers, especially those at the top end, who aggregate, integrate and assemble lots of information from many different sources

  3. Mobile workers, for whom thin client computing solutions don’t work and to whom the blend or personal and corporate features will appeal.

It’s got lots of other features that will appeal to the mass of task and structured task workers in corporate environments, but true thin client approaches will probably appeal more strongly for these users IT managers, particularly with the current wave of smart client rich UI toolkits that run on top of a JVM.

So how might this pan out in reality:

  1. Microsoft might get 20% market share from portable users

  2. A maximum of 20% market share from high end knowledge workers, who are not mobile

  3. Maybe 20% that it picks up just so they can use the same environment as the rest of the people in the office

So maybe that leaves 40% of users who will either switch to thin clients, unless Microsoft can convince businesses to stick with them because of the benefits …

My typical working day

  1. I get up at about 7:30 and have breakfast

  2. Then before 8:00 I start working,  normally I try and get some good quality work done for about 2 1/2 hours

  3. By 10:30 I am ready for a break, so at that point I print off some reading material or download it to my tablet

  4. I then go for a walk and usually end up at one of my nearby beachside cafes, where I settle down for lunch, and review whatever paperwork I have taken with me, and then wander home for about 12:00 – 12:30

  5. I then try and get another 2 1/2 hours work in until about 2:30

  6. Then I go for another walk, usually to my local health club and spend about 30 minutes swimming, probably spend 15-20 minutes reading and then head back home, usually arriving at about 4:00.

  7. I try to get another hours work done then and then have tea with my wife and four kids

  8. Depending on kids activities then I will generally get another hours work done sometime before bed.

Why home working?

I called this blog, ‘adventures in home working’.  Why did I choose this title?  Well it sort of sums up a lot of things for me:


1.     I have this disease, AOSD,  and home working is more suited to people with this condition

2.     I am an IT guy, and for a while I have wanted to see how viable it is to work from home

3.     I have 4 children, and I wanted to spend more time with them, and be able to arrange my work life more flexibly

4.     I have always been a person who works better with people I know and interacts with them face to face.  I wanted to get beyond these limitations and extend my circle of friends and contacts

SharePoint RSS and more …

Just came across this great Blog that describes how to really exploit WSS.  One of the interesting points in here is about how to reuse existing WSS functions using for example XSLT, rather than writing custom web parts.

Several useful things, but the one I liked was the web part to present lists and document libraries as RSS feeds.

A good description of WinFS?

I have been looking for a good description of how Longhorn would behave in a client server environment.  The Longhorn evangelists have been posting some scenarios, but they don’t completely work for me because they are not general enough to allow me to easily extend them to my own environment. ...