Category Archives: !SharePoint

The new SkyDrive app–is it better than Dropbox?

I kind of missed the release yesterday of the new SkyDrive app from Microsoft. I’ve been using Dropbox for so long I haven’t really searching for alternatives, that allow me to sync files to and from the cloud between multiple computers.

So today I had a chance to install the new SkyDrive app on my laptop (using Windows 7), while simultaneously running Dropbox. Which one is better?

SkyDrive vs. Dropbox clients

The SkyDrive client is really barebones and has nothing extra built in. It synchronizes files and that’s it. It sits in system tray and thankfully doesn’t bother you unless something goes wrong.

The settings page is somewhat 1.0’ish, with only a setting to disconnect the current computer from your SkyDrive account, and make files available directly from my PC (as opposed to using the web site).


Compared to Dropbox, I’m missing a few crucial features. The ability to pause syncing would be nice, as I use this anytime I’m working remotely through a mobile broadband. 3G is fast but chokes easily.

The ability to restrict bandwidth usage would be nice also. Dropbox leads the way here:


Dropbox is also capable of showing storage usage:


While Skydrive is pretty clueless when it comes to storage:


It’s not that important but always nice to know if I’m almost hitting the quota or not. There’s a nice view up on the site but you’ll have to go there each time to check the status:



I’m paying $9,99/month for Dropbox. For this I get 50 GB of storage, which seems to be more than enough for my needs at the moment. Alternatively I can pay $99/year in advance, which comes to $8,25/month (or about 6,2 euro). The free alternative gives you 2 GB by default.

For SkyDrive I get 25 GB by default, which is more than Dropbox gives me. I can upgrade to 45 GB for $10/year, or 75 GB for $25/year or 125 GB for $50/year. So by paying roughly half of what I’m paying Dropbox, I can get 125 GB storage, which is twice the storage I get from Dropbox.


What about security then? Dropbox states the following on security:

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and AES-256 bit encryption

Since Dropbox uses Amazon S3 for storage, apparently Amazon’s own security policies apply here as well. It’s pretty comprehensive. In fact, searching with the keyword “security” from *, I get +10,000 hits with topics like security clarification, privacy and security.

For SkyDrive the security story doesn’t look as good. In fact, there’s not much to tell about security since apparently Microsoft believes talking about security might compromise security.

A quick search for “security” on * gives me exactly one hit:


Thanks, but not really what I was looking for.

Other findings

Both apps are unobtrusive once installed and configured, which is a good thing. Synchronization should be in autopilot and not require the user to check up on things. Dropbox.exe takes around 60 MB of memory when sitting idle. SkyDrive.exe takes around 20 MB when idle. It’s impossible to make any meaningful comparison between the processes, since SkyDrive might as well be offloading logic to Windows Explorer, while Dropbox might be doing the same work independently.

In Skydrive, I hate the forced Hotmail toolbar I’m given whenever I access the files through a browser. It reminds me too much of 1999, and hints at the fact that I should be using some email as well – which I don’t feel is of any use to me.


In comparison, Dropbox’s UI is nice and clean and doesn’t have the historical weight of Hotmail:


For some reason whenever I open the Dropbox site, I’m automatically authenticated and logged. SkyDrive requires me to log in manually each and every time. Fix this, please.

So, which one?

I’ve been happy with Dropbox. Now that SkyDrive is around, I’m tempted to switch because of the much lower pricing. I’m not happy with the lack of documentation around security and privacy on SkyDrive, so that’s kind of a big deal to me.

For a 1.0 beta-release, the SkyDrive app is pretty solid. Hopefully in the coming versions Microsoft continues to add more configuration options while keeping the pricing at a lower level. Until then, I’ll stick with Dropbox.

I’m now an MCSA–again?

Having just written about the latest changed to Microsoft’s certification program, I was immensely happy to receive this email yesterday morning:

Congratulations on earning your Windows Server® 2008 Core certification! We hope you enjoy the benefits of your certification and of membership in the Microsoft Certified Professional community.

Wait, what? I thought I was already a certified Windows Server 2008 guy, with both the necessary MCTS-based certifications and MCITP for Enterprise Administrator. I’ve kind of lost track on all the different Windows Server-certifications, there are simply so many available.

A quick peek at the MCP site reveals that nothing has changed with regards to actual certifications I’ve taken:


Clicking on my transcript, I see that I do indeed have the new MCSA, or Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate certification:


What about my previous MCSA from 2003? It’s still there in my transcript:


What this means is that I get to keep my existing MCSA from 2003, and I’ve also earned the new MCSA for 2012. In time, my old MCSA will still be visible but will eventually lose value while the new MCSA gains in popularity. This probably takes a few years for HR managers, recruiters and managers to realize that MCSA is new, and not 9 years old.

A few productivity tips for working remotely

Day 20 -  KeyboardI used to be a huge fan of working remotely. I still am, but I used to be, too. My view on working has changed drastically in the past 3-4 years, when I’ve had to come up with ingenious ways to work while not being at home, or at my own office. In fact, I spend around 4 hours a week at my own office, and the remaining ~45 hours per week that I put in I work elsewhere.

I’ve listed a few quick productivity tips that I find invaluable and keep using on a daily basis:

Instead of meetings, arrange voice conferences. Whenever I get an invitation to attend a meeting, the smallest unit of time is typically 60 minutes. It’s never 15 minutes. I simply feel that most work should be done before the meetings, and meetings should be quick status checks.

I’m happy to see so many companies embrace online video conferencing – it’s usually Lync, Skype or WebEx and they all work wonderfully. The downside is that it might be challenging to find a private space to attend a voice-based meeting.

CappuccinoArrange to have breakfast and lunch meetings on the same day. For me it’s Friday. I have all my breakfast meetings, lunch meetings and similar arranged for one specific day of the week. This helps me to avoid breaking my week into multiple shorter periods of work divided by random meetings around the city. Friday is considered “do stuff that needs to be done but doesn’t necessarily yield direct revenue”. It took me a few years to embrace this ideology, and now I’m more effective because of this.

The obvious downside is that on certain Friday’s I do 4 lunch meetings in a row, so I aim to eat lightly.

UptimeFind ways to convert downtime to uptime. We all have downtime. For me, it’s travel time, and random timeslots here and there when I’m moving from one client site to another, or when a workshop ends 2 hours earlier than I’ve anticipated. The number one productivity tool for me to catch up on things, check emails, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and RSS is iPad. I use it constantly, if just for checking something trivial for 30 seconds. If I have more than 30 minutes I head to the nearest café to work with my laptop. If I have more than an hour, I either head home or one of our offices, whichever is nearest.

Charlie Gilkey's Productivity System

Avoid doing useless stuff that is interesting. There’s so much interesting stuff to do. Too bad most of the interesting stuff is pretty useless. It doesn’t grow my business and it doesn’t provide me with anything else than satisfy my curiosity or force me to act based on external stimulus.

A great example comes to mind, that I just recently encountered: My mobile phone informs me that there’s an update available. Having just reinstalled my laptop I don’t have Zune installed, or a micro usb-cable available. I could spend the next 15 minutes setting those up and patching the phone – or do something more worthwhile, and just leave the phone without the update. I’ll probably perform the update on a slow Saturday evening anyway.

Some vaguely familiar software vendor sent me an email asking to fill out their customer satisfaction survey. It will only take 25 minutes, they promised. Or, I could spend 25 minutes doing something productive and simply not answer the survey. It’s amazing how much time emails can command by simply asking you to do something.

You don’t have to do everything people ask you to do – you just have to do what’s essential.

Multitasking – yes, I prefer it to single tasking. I’m writing this article while conducting 2 instant messaging conversations, and listening to a webcast. I’ve tried moving back to single tasking and feel that my productivity drops by at least 50%, and so much is left undone. The challenge with multitasking is the fact that you need to be aware of what is important, so that you can quickly and effectively drop whatever you are doing when something more important arises. And have time at the end of the day to clean up the tasks that are not done.

bucket listMake a list. Make it short. I start each morning with a simple list. It’s a list of 3-5 most important things I have to get done before I head home. When I’m done with those 3-5 items, I stop working. If the list grows too long I know I’m not concentrating on proper things, but just cherry-picking what I feel like is nice to do. It’s a gruesome exercise to leave out something you so badly want to do in favor of something mundane that has to be done.

And I write the list by hand on real paper. OneNote just doesn’t give me the sense of urgency.

Stacked LogsCut it and stack it. In Finnish we have a saying, “Poikki ja pinoon”, which roughly translates to cut it, stack it and forget about it. I’m a huge advocate of doing things fast, being efficient and shipping when it’s “good enough”, rather than polishing it indefinitely. The key here is to have the mind’s eye to understand when something is good enough, and when something is still crappy.

Be productive & be happy!

Issues with Windows 8 Consumer Preview on a HP 8560w laptop

Just a quick post this time:

imageI’ve been running Windows 8 Consumer Preview on my main laptop, which is a HP 8560w laptop.It even says EliteBook on the back so definitely a good workhorse for most of my SharePoint needs.

Everything ran mostly smooth after removing Windows 7 and switching to Windows 8 Consumer Preview. I hate using virtualization on a desktop, but I wanted to try out Hyper-V 3.0 also.

After a few weeks my laptop started acting up. Random reboots, and system halts whenever I’d put it to sleep or hibernate. Not good, Windows – definitely not acceptable.

I wasn’t sure what caused the issues, since the error codes didn’t give a specific reason, just the typical IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL errors.

The reason could be one of the following:

Running Hyper-V 3.0 on a laptop – not a far-fetched thought. Considering there were some slight issues to get Hyper-V running when your regional settings are not US English, this was my first suspicion.

Any of the random hotfixes Microsoft pushes through Windows Update – There were plenty, and I wasn’t really sure which of them did what. Didn’t have time to investigate.

IIS + SharePoint + SQL Server 2012 – These are fairly well-behaving citizens on the operating system so I didn’t inspect these further.

3rd party hardware drivers – Mostly I used native Windows 7 64-bit drivers from HP’s support site. A few were Microsoft’s own (apparently experimental) drivers and a few from vendors.

Eventually the issue boiled down to NVidia’s drivers. There’s a nice write up on this at but the fix is not nice – effectively disabling most of your GPU abilities to do something doesn’t feel like a fix to me. A lot more insights at the forums here.

So for now, I’m back to Windows 7 on my laptop and hoping for Nvidia to come up with a proper release for their GPU driver. Alternatively I could go back to the Intel GPU drivers available here.