Michael's Books

Writing a Book: Key IT Enablers

Much of the past couple of months have been spent in getting Seamless Teamwork completed. There have been 5 key IT enablers that I am very grateful for.

First, my Lenovo X60 Tablet PC, running Vista Business, and connected to a 22″ monitor. I have written the final edition of the book on the X60, and it has performed admirably. It could do with a speed bump, particularly when starting up, but once it is going, it has been great. This is the first Lenovo I have purchased for myself, and I hope to get one of their top-of-the-line laptops at some point, and perhaps even an IdeaPad. The machines feel solid and reliable, and perform the same too.

Second, SugarSync (www.sugarsync.com). I have a common set of files across three computers — my MacBook Pro, my Lenovo X60 Tablet, and my Dell XPS laptop. Anytime I make a change in any file on any of those three computers, the updated file is automatically and immediately synchronized to the other three. Finally I have found an application that enables such seamless commonalization of files across computers and platforms. I have used it mainly in this way: using the Dell (which hosts my SharePoint Server), I have taken a screen shot for the book, saved it to a file directory on the Dell, and then a couple of minutes later, it has appeared on the Lenovo for inclusion in the text. If you are not using SugarSync and need access to your files across multiple computers, I can not recommend it high enough. I have a paid subscription.

Third, TechSmith SnagIt 9 is the most awesome screen capture program I have ever used, including the ones I have used on my Mac. All of the screen shots in Seamless Teamwork are taken using SnagIt 9, and in particular, the ability to create a profile for a screen shot and use it repeatably is fantastic. Thank you TechSmith! I purchased a copy this week … and I recommend that if taking screen shots is something you need to do (and you use a PC), check out SnagIt.

Four, ActiveWords. Although ActiveWords can do a lot more than I have used it for — and I need to explore all of those capabilities — the ability to type “sp” and have it automatically expand to “SharePoint” after pressing the space bar is very helpful. This is called text expansion, and works across all applications on the PC, not just one application. Another text expansion I have is “mse”, which transforms to “michael@michaelsampson.net”. If you don’t have a tool for text expansion, I highly recommend ActiveWords.

Finally, thanks to Mail2Web in the UK for a highly reliable hosted Windows SharePoint Services v3 offering. Until Chan built me a SharePoint Server 2007 Enterprise Edition instance for the office, all of my research and writing was undertaken against Mail2Web, and it has also been the SharePoint instance I have used in my workshops and seminars. That will change going forward, since I will take my SharePoint server to workshops going forward (including to my KMWorld talk in 4 weeks). If you are looking for a hosted SharePoint place for collaboration, look at Mail2Web.

So that’s it … 5 tools of great use to an author. My thanks to each.