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Office 2.0 - Desktop

My employer has decided to initiate a work from home program starting in October of this year. I am very excited as this is something I have wanted for years. Back in 1998 when I started working as a consultant developing web sites I had thought for sure I would be working from home most of the time. The reality was that none of my clients liked the idea. They were still under the impression that people were more productive when they were being watched. So finally I will get my opportunity.

My employer is in the process of revitalising its core business (pharmaceuticals) and has hired so many scientists that IT folks were asked to leave the campus to make space. Of course, our budget was also cut and like all of IT these days we are asked to do more with less. Back in 2004, our CIO made the decision to outsource the corporate network and some SAP application development as a cost-saving measure. It's now been two years and the business (which is finally making a turnaround) is asking again, "What have you done for me lately?". Our CIO is under pressure to reduce cost and consolidate into a building that can not hold all her staff. Reducing staff would hurt morale so she has opted for a compromise.

I am not sure what the arrangements would be in October. Unsubstantiated rumours abound but I expect that we will have three days from home, two in the office schedule. Come in on Monday, talk with your manager about the week's priorities and hold in-person meetings; come in on Friday to recap.

I also expect that we will all be issued company laptops. My employer is becoming more and more Windows-centric each day. The only computer in the house that is mine exclusively is a mac mini. Of course, none of the corporate desktop apps (Oracle calendar, Internet Explorer, McAfee Anti-virus, Office 2003, etc.) exists on my mac mini. If the company is willing to purchase those things...But I expect it would be cheaper to issue a corporate laptop. I have the Cisco VPN client for OS X and so far it has worked well.

So until October, I am spending my time searching the web for cool home office setups like the one in the photos.

What the Flock!

About a month ago I read about a new project called Flock whose apparent aim is to build a browser aimed at bloggers. They decided to use the existing Mozilla Firefox code base as a starting point and leverage XUL to integrate blogging, social tagging networks and RSS news readers. The project was still in beta but I downloaded and installed anyway. The feature set truly was useful. I found that tagging a web site to was as easy as a right click using the Star feature. Simply click the Star in the URL bar and you've flagged a page. The favourites manager doubles as an RSS reader.

Just like Firefox, Flock puts an icon in the URL bar when a site has one or more feeds. In Flock, you can click that icon to get a feed view of the page. Flock includes a blog editor that works with WordPress (and the new hosted service), Movable Type and Typepad (and shortly also Live Journal) and Blogger. Simplye Click the feather blog icon, enter the setup information for the blog, and enter the post into the text editor. Flock!also allows selecting and posting text from a web site with the "Blog This!" function available from the "right click" menu.

Flock also integrates Yahoo!'s Flickr photsharing application. One can drag and drop pictures from the Flickr topbar right into a blog post.

Most, but not all, of Flock's functionality is available from any of a number of Firefox extensions. In fact when Firefox 1.5 was release I found that I could do everything that Flock did with a combination of the Google Toolbar (for posting to Blogger), the Firefox extension, and Performancing for Firefox, a full featured blog editor that sits right within Firefox. My Firefox extensions solutions may not be as slick or as well integrated as those in Flock but I did not find too much in Flock! to recommend my switching at this time. The Flock blogging function also supports more blog API than my Google Blogger only extension. The post from Flickr functionality also saves time by providing a view into the photostream directly from the blog post editor. Flock has promise despite what may seem to be a feature war with the Firefox development crew and extension developers. I'll keep Firefox as my blogging tool for now but I 'll keep a close eye on Flock as it develops.