Catch-up: Jobs and Windows 20 Oct 2011Posted by Tony Law in IT marketplace, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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Travelling yesterday, I caught up on a couple of Tech Weekly podcasts from The Guardian featuring reactions to Steve Jobs’ death, and an earlier feature on the announcements of Windows 8. These podcasts are good value: 20-30 minutes of serious comment bringing together people with real expertise.
For the Steve Jobs special edition, The Guardian brought in not only its tech people but its editors for design, film, and music alongside a Gartner VP who specialises in smartphones. This wove a coherent picture of Jobs’ impact. In design, the point was made that he (or Jonathan Ive, that is) didn’t try to align with the latest design fashions; Jonathan Glancey referred to Apple’s design roots in the Bauhaus movement which is culturally well established (we might say de-bugged) and, to a significant degree now, has become timeless. What’s now Disney Pixar was Jobs’ initiative after he left Apple – and the same perfection of design shows in Pixar’s animation. The coherence of the iTunes/iPod ecosystem turned the threat of downloaded music on its head, making it easy for people to legitimately buy music – and has led to a resurgence of individual songs rather than albums. And, looking forward with Gartner’s Carolina Milanesi, the impact of the iPhone (and iPad) are only just starting to be felt.
Throughout, the speakers developed a picture of Jobs as an holistic, user-centred entrepreneur. The question he asked himself and his designers wasn’t “What can we do with this new tech stuff?” Rather, it was “What will the users like/want/need? Now how do we provide it?” Implementation is secondary, which is why it doesn’t matter that the iPhone and iPad aren’t built on MacOS. The iPad doesn’t feel wildly different from the Mac – although it is, just as OS X is different from Classic. The same understanding informs the design.
Then, backtracking a few editions, there was a review of early information on Windows 8. I was left, there, with quite the opposite feel. The reviewers seemed to be saying that Microsoft is working very hard to build a common code base that will service different platforms: from standard PCs to tablets to smartphones. But the resulting compromises will affect the user experience on all of them. For example: in an OS created for the tablet’s swipe-screen paradigm, conventional mouse operation is less well supported. Somehow the feel was exactly the opposite of what I’d been hearing about the way Steve Jobs worked. The conclusion seemed to be that Windows 8 will either be a miracle, if they pull it off, or a car crash. We’ll see; the developer beta is available.
This week produced favourite short from the Guardian letters page. “Blackberry jam helps Apple turnover” … The earlier podcast had some comments on RiM and the future of the BlackBerry service and other communication channels. BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) scores with Generation Y through its realtime presence; as we all know, SMS text messages can get delayed. Email in that generation is dead: JP Rangaswami quoted his daughter as saying, of one of her friends, “His phone’s dead. You’ll have to inbox him on Facebook”. Yet RiM is having trouble shifting both older models still in the channel, and newer ones which they can’t abandon because they are leading in the new OS. Step forward both Apple with the iPhone, which knows its market, and the multitude of Android models.
• Steve Jobs special, The Guardian Tech Weekly podcast, 6 Oct 2011
• Windows 8, bad news for Rim, JP Rangaswami, The Guardian Tech Weekly podcast,20 Sep 2011
• Carolina Milanesi, Gartner blog (though the most recent post is February 2011)
• Previewing Windows 8, Microsoft
Hype Cycle thoughts 17 Oct 2011Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, Insight services, IT marketplace, ITasITis, Managing IT, Technorati.
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Gartner’s Hype Cycle is one of the most widely recognised technology assessment tools. Right now, in the run-up to Gartner’s Symposium season, there’s activity around this so a review is timely.
Before I forget: well worth watching the Gartner website while Symposium progresses round the world, because some keynotes tend to be webcast for open access. Symposium was in Orlando last week, and comes to Europe next month (Barcelona, 7-10 Nov, since the Cannes facility isn’t available this year).
First off, of course, the Hype Cycle concept has exploded in the past few years. It has, though, gone through its own hype cycle and is now, I suggest, on its Plateau of Productivity. Not least because Gartner, under Jackie Fenn’s tutelage, have surrounded it with other related tools and a much better published understanding of how it should be used. It’s not an easy guide to where to invest (or not); it’s more a guide to what the parameters are for an investment decision as technologies move through what is, in fact, a version of an economist’s standard adoption cycle.
Right now, there’s a short video from Jackie on Gartner’s home page outlining what the hype cycle is and how it’s intended to be used (C S Lewis’s “corkscrew or cathedral” test). And there are some overview reports on Gartner’s library which, if you’re registered as a free user, you can access in full. These list all the current Hype Cycle reports – though these, of course, are not on open access.
Gartner added their “Market Clock” some while ago, and now have released a tool called the Priority Matrix which partitions emerging technologies according to their potential benefit (from “low” to “transformational”) and (estimated) time to mainstream adoption. There’s a note on its use in the Hype Cycle 2011 review. I think what’s missing, here and elsewhere – though I’m not sure how you’d bring it in to the tool – is how to factor in an organisation’s risk appetite and strategy. Do you want to be transformed? Can you afford not to be?
Gartner’s list of around 90 current Hype Cycles covers Technology and Appplication; Information and IT Services; and vertical Industry sectors. Clients can also make use of the data through the My Hype Cycle toolkit, which can filter data for a specified subset of the 1800 technologies covered by the reports and create a tailored Hype Cycle graphic for use in internal strategy discussions.
My own guide to using the Hype Cycle is embodied in this comment I added to some verses posted on the Mastering the Hype Cycle blog two and a half years ago. The blog, incidentally, has emerged from a dormant period and is publishing again.
The strategists won’t allow hype to dictate:
It’s a servant to them, not a master.
They let it inform, and they factor the risk
‘Twixt competitive edge and disaster.
Or they hold for a while, till it’s over the peak -
Or even invest in the trough,
When the prices are low, and there’s knowledge around
To ensure the return is enough.
Hype can be a snare: but provides a great guide
If your buyer’s informed and is practical,
And knows when investment is for the long haul
Or when it’s short term, and is tactical.
• Hype Cycles 2011, Gartner website section, with links to these downloadable documents:
•• Gartner’s Hype Cycle Special Report for 2011, 2 Aug 2011
•• Understanding Hype Cycles, 19 Jul 2011
•• Toolkit: My Hype Cycle, 2011, 12 Sep 2011
• Gartner IT Market Clock website section, and see also:
•• Understanding Gartner’s IT Market Clocks, 2011, 8 Sep 2011
• Technology adoption lifecycle, Wikipedia
• The Hype Cycle as Art part 2 – poetry, Mastering the Hype Cycle, 27 Mar 2009 (see comment)
• Gartner Symposium
A few thoughts for Open Source 12 Oct 2011Posted by Tony Law in IT marketplace, ITasITis, Managing IT, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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I’m moderating a webcast on Open Source this week. In preparation, a couple of interesting links.
What’s important to remember, of course, is that Open Source Software (OSS) means different things in different contexts. At one level there’s still a significant debate about OS, centring around three things:
- interoperability: not just, for example, how well Open Office documents interchange with Microsoft Office users, but whether the applications that work with MS Office will also work with Open Office or other OSS offerings
- maintainability: there’s a reluctance to rely on the OSS community maintenance model when what you’re paying a supplier for is support for what’s there, not the software itself
- compliance: in applications where security or other forms of compliance are crucial, whether OSS can meet the audit and validation requirements
It seems to me that these debates often focus around Open Office (and its relations, like Star Office or the latest versions of SmartSuite). But there are many areas where OSS is a de facto standard. Linux, of course, is the prime example at the platform level. Among servers, many websites – enterprise internal as well as outward-facing – use Tomcat or Apache. In my own work I use Smalltalk (open sourced from Cincom) for development; I use Audacity for voice recording, for podcasts; my web browser of choice is Firefox; and so on. And I do use Open Office on the few occasions I need to process Office documents on Windows although I use the Microsoft free readers, and it’s Microsoft on my main Mac platform. I don’t use an OSS mail reader or address book, but I know plenty of people do.
Mark Driver of Gartner believes that “The presence of open source is inevitable within mainstream mission-critical IT portfolios.”
So the debate about OSS needs to focus on what, where, and why. And IDC recently posted a note in its Smart Government blog highlighting a debate in UK local government, in Bristol, which is helping to clarify some of the issues for Office software. There’ve been some high profile cases elsewhere: Mitt Romney’s Massachussetts, for example, though I understand the Commonwealth has stepped back from this initiative.
But Bristol’s consideration is publicly minuted, and that makes it interesting as they’ve obtained input on security and compliance from the Cabinet Office and been given a moderate nod to proceed. As IDC point out, there’s potential impact on costs and licensing models for commercial off-the-shelf software as well as for the direct use of OSS; Microsoft Office for small purchasers is vastly cheaper than it was a while ago, for example. It’s worth reading the Bristol paper.
And, of course, with an Open Source community there’s the chance to get involved and help shape the direction of the development. Most commercial or government enterprises won’t want to commit those resources, I guess. But the opportunity is there.
There are a few analyst links included below: it’s worth putting “open source” into the InformationSpan Gartner blog search (see the Analyst Blogs index) for a range of ongoing postings. Mark Driver of Gartner believes that “The presence of open source is inevitable within mainstream mission-critical IT portfolios.”
• Little by little Open Source increases its government penetration, IDC Smart Government, 11 Oct 2011
• Open Source Leadership, Notes of meeting at Bristol City Council, 7 Oct 2011
• New Research: A CIO’s Perspective On Open Source, Mark Driver, Gartner, 31 Jan 2011
Beyond gmail: Google apps event with BCS 11 Oct 2011Posted by Tony Law in Cloud, Consumerization, IT is business, IT marketplace, ITasITis, Managing IT, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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I’m at a BCS North London event at Google’s London office, listening to presenters from the AppsBroker consultancy extend my understanding of how Google Apps work. We’ve passed through the background stuff about using cloud apps in general and now getting to the meat. If you’ve wondered, like me, what Google APIs can really do, then this is an as-it-goes posting; watch the space! Any errors in understanding or interpretation are mine, of course.
How to write a Google-extended app …
1 – Appscript; 2 – Gadget APIs; s – Data APIs
Just seeing the down side of everything being online rather than on the device; the demo’s gone down through being unconnected. Notwithstanding that I’m doing this on Google’s guest network,, the demo doc is, it appears, “offline”. Embarrassing, even when the demo’s working on a ChromeBook, which admittedly does reboot nice and quickly!
When it’s come back, we get a quick view of the script code inserted into a Spreadsheet to quickly create a form with follow-on technology such as mail-outs based on the respondent’s input, or sending update notifications when an online document is changed.
2: Data APIs, based on REST rather than SOAP (HTML based, IIRC, but can use other languages eg. Java/script .NET, …). Can for example use Data APIs to push data into a shared spreadsheet in real time from multiple users/locations/sources, but maintaining one version of truth.
Google App Engine and Cloud Storage will have a >99.9% SLA from November. Cloud SQL (see Google Blog last week) is under beta.
— adding to the interest level, we just had a fire evacuation and a quick tour of Eccleston Square with the fire marshals. Now trickling back – at least, most of us. I think some people have decided to duck out.
In the pipeline: Google Big Query: online dataset analysis – data mining/BI application. And something called the Google Periodic Table (there’s an extra column in the Transition Metal section …) which visualises the family of applications and extensions. Prediction, for example, can look at web traffic and draw interesting conclusions. Lots of searches on “sore throat” might signal the start of a flu epidemic.
Abbreviated in response to the disruption: Dalim, chair of the Branch, talking about governance. What changes with the cloud? Some of the controls e.g. for change management; assurance from third parties, and provider management; identity and access management (d0 you still have super users?) and monitoring; evolving technology, complexity and challenges. Dalim offers an app assurance checklist [see BCS NLB website in due course].
Q&A … references to Google’s global infrastructure capability; e.g. guaranteeing at least four copies of data on different continents (that is, replication like Lotus Notes used to do). Regarding data protection issues – Google can’t at present commit to (for example) segregating data into the EU though this is being worked on. The offering currently may not be appropriate for heavily regulated in-country enterprises e.g. some areas of government, finance. Google, though, takes the approach that they are not data owners; they are data holders, and would pass access requests to the data owners. And there are data online about which countries request legal discovery, how often, and when. From the security point of view, just a glimpse of the multiple levels of protection applied to data.
Thinking about a portfolio of services: Google Apps will integrate both on-premise (e.g. with AD) and other cloud services (e.g. a strategic partnership with salesforce.com). And there’s a commitment to back data out if a service relationship is terminated. Cloud, to Google, is short term contractable (e.g. 12 month; or a little as 1 month) – no lock-in.
• Google Apps (follow the links)
• Google App Engine, Cloud Storage and Prediction API are open for business, Official Google Blog, 11 Oct 2011
• BCS North London Branch: Past Events 2011 (you may have to scroll for this event; presentations are not yet posted but are expected)
• AppsBroker consultancy
The Crazy Ones 7 Oct 2011Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, IT marketplace, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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This from YouTube is commented by Jason Hiner in TechRepublic today; read the article for the context
A question from Gideon Gartner 6 Oct 2011Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Managing IT, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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Researching something completely other, I came across a six-month-old post from Gideon Gartner which, in turn, refers to a post I can’t find from Tony Greenberg. So this is third hand, but here is an excerpt from what Gideon quotes:
We buy too much from big companies that lock us in by hiding detail and complexity. Then we happily reward dubious value by never shopping around even as the rift between market and BigCo’s rates grow.
RFP’s are what most [many?] companies use to show how little they know about what they really need and who to buy it from. Vendors use any little bit of weasel room to sell you their value proposition.
We think that we can’t change our contract mid-term even when business need and market conditions change. So we endure the 3 or 5 or even 10 years when we could have used that same business need to realign even the most onerous deals real time. And no contract is non-negotiable even when it’s closed. In reality, you never get what you deserve – it’s always what you negotiate. Razor sharp guardrails and multi-vendor relationships are where success lies.
All you need is the upper right quadrant? 9 times out of 10, if you pick the generic “best” recommendation, it won’t be the right fit. Sure, it’s better than the 99% chance of screwing up if selecting randomly, but no quadrant will replace an analysis of optimal fit.
Gideon then asks if this applies to what I call the Insight Services sector. Here’s an expanded version of my response which as I write is waiting his moderation.
Gideon – I only just found this post, but sure it applies to insight services and (as in so many areas) particularly to the market leader. IT strategists don’t always understand how to use these services and the tools that they offer.
For example: there are two global market leaders in this space. One – Gartner – has taken a strong direction towards identifying, supporting and working with key individuals in an IT organisation. The other – Forrester Research – is still up for providing services which can be opened up to most or all of IT staff.
Then there are other next-tier providers such as Ovum Butler who may be more limited in the markets they support, but offer good expertise within those areas at a lower price. And there are specialists: some of them such as Mike Rasmussen’s Corporate Integrity or Charlene Li’s Altimeter Group spin-offs from the majors; others like IDC covering a specific range of market sectors. There are different delivery models, All in all, over 400 potential providers.
Just as in any other space, a proper needs analysis is a pre-requisite to the procurement of an appropriate portfolio of services. Who are the potential users for the service, what are their needs, what will encourage them to actually use it? What’s the value you expect and how will you demonstrate that you’re achieving it?
It isn’t just about information content and price. Are you “just” buying content, are you aiming to develop a strategic partnership with your insight provider, or are you buying in panic mode because something’s gone wrong in your estate? Will your users identify and engage with specific analysts? Will you be able to share strategic thinking so as to get advice before your decisions are shaped, rather than just to confirm (you hope) a decision that’s already made? What are the additional values in the relationship, such as events, analyst interactions, and so on? Can you shape their research directions at the same time as they influence your strategic thinking? Different providers respond in different ways to these drivers.
I’m not entirely in agreement about multi-vendor strategies in this space. Conflicting advice from different insight providers in the same space can lead to problems. But it’s a useful strategy in the evolution of your portfolio, and likely you will use different providers to meet different needs.
And finally, of course, you use G***r or F***r (or someone else) to advise you on IT. But who advises you on buying these insight services, which influence the whole IT strategy and budget? Analyst Relations aims to develop skills among those who influence the providers on behalf of IT vendors. But there’s almost nothing to develop informed buyers and users of insight services.
Naturally I wouldn’t be posting this if I didn’t believe that InformationSpan fills that gap. We have the market model, the needs analysis framework, and the database of potential providers.
I need to remind people that Gideon Gartner no longer has any direct connection with the insight firm which he founded and which still carries his name.
• Sharpening Instincts: Review of an IT post, Gideon Gartner, 1 Mar 2011
• Tony Greenberg (maybe you can find the original post; if so please let me know!)
• InformationSpan; click “Enterprise IT”
Steve Jobs, influencer extraordinary 6 Oct 2011Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, IT marketplace, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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The news of Steve Jobs’s death reached me on the early morning news today. Not exactly unexpected, I guess, since his sudden stepping down a couple of months ago. And I offered a note about that at the time.
I never met Jobs, nor even saw him on stage except through online video. But I’ve been in his debt for over 20 years since I encountered my first Mac computer, working in BP Research’s IT Research Unit, several years before DOS evolved into Windows. I remained, and still am, a Mac user for preference though with many years of Windows experience now. And I did visit Cupertino on a research mission shortly after joining SmithKline Beecham a handful of years later – at the time when Apple’s Taligent was supposed to be the last word in application architecture.
There will be many tributes and a lot of reports, posts and other content rehearsing Steve Jobs’s enormous contribution to creative technology evolution. I don’t propose to add to that; I don’t have the first hand knowledge, except as a long time user.
Apple’s own tributes so far are muted; his picture is alone on the home page, and there are very brief statements from the press office and the Board. An online “book of condolence” has been opened, for anyone to share thoughts.
When I visited Cupertino, Apple was losing its way. It was being squeezed out of the corporate domain because Windows was more directly accessible to developers, and there was a far wider range of enterprise software available for it; and because the variety of competing manufacturers resulted in lower hardware costs: critical mass had been reached. Microsoft Office was a Mac application first, reaching version 5 on the Mac while it was still at 2 on Windows; but it became the archetypal Windows application. It was easy to connect a couple of Macs together: networking was built in from the start: and it’s still (in my opinion!) easier with MacOS than Windows. Networking was grafted on to Windows after the fact, and perhaps some of the compromises are still with us.
But what’s important for Apple now is that, when Jobs returned to the company, he didn’t carry on fighting that battle. For the Mac itself, I’ve always admired the progression of the long term strategy towards the Intel platform: first, reinvent MacOS on its Unix base; then, transfer seamlessly to less proprietary hardware. And there were other moves away from proprietary: adoption of Ethernet and USB in place of Appletalk and the Apple Desktop Bus helped drive the adoption of those standards as well as giving Apple users early access to the new ranges of peripherals.
Alongside this, Jobs moved Apple in a different direction: with enormous success. And in the corporate space, he turned the tables. The story now is that the iPad – still highly proprietary, still different to the Windows world – is taking the enterprise by storm, and is finally persuading (forcing?) enterprise IT to develop different, more open, enabling architectures to replace the uniform Windows environment. Which was always an illusion anyway!
One thing strikes me beyond this, which is relevant to enterprise IT and those of us who work in that space. It’s a given, these days, that we need to know what our customers want and be in a position to provide it. Jobs’s Apple went beyond that. They identified what the customers didn’t know they wanted, and provided it! In that world, you make some mistakes, and Apple has missed some targets. But business is about taking that sort of risk, and Apple’s risks have paid off handsomely.
Steve Jobs was a one-off. Thankyou.
• Remembering Steve Jobs: online thoughts at Apple.com (contributions via email link)
• Statement by Apple’s Board of Directors, 5 Oct 2011
• Employee letter from Tim Cook, CEO, Apple Media Advisory, 5 Oct 2011
• Steve Jobs, Apple Co-Founder, Dies at 56, Technorati, 5 Oct 2011
• Reprise: Apple after Jobs, ITasITis, 25 Aug 2011
• Steve Jobs (1955-2011): statement from Steve Ballmer at Microsoft, 5 Oct 2011
• Wikipedia on Taligent [not to be confused with the currently active company of the same name)
BT’s broadband outage 5 Oct 2011Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, IT marketplace, Managing IT, Technorati.
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Plenty of coverage in the mainstream and IT press about the outage which affected BT Broadband services in many areas of the UK this week, and I’m not going to add much to it. Instead, here’s some information you may not have spotted.
BT have an online status page at http://btbusiness.custhelp.com/app/service_status. This lists areas with known and recently resolved problems. The list shows 14 areas with resolved problems, and 3 ongoing at the time of writing (Wednesday morning). Did you have a problem? Is your area listed here? I hope you aren’t in Poplar, as their problem has been going on since last week and isn’t expected to be resolved till the end of this one!
I have to say I’m not desperately impressed. First, against each recognised incident there’s a “more details” drop down, but in each case the ongoing issue detail only says “There’s a problem, we’re working to fix it.” No indication of the cause of the problem, and though there is an estimate of time to resolution this mostly says “2 hours” which could mean anything. Date and time, please!
Second, I was in Manchester yesterday at a client site where I could see a BT Openzone node, but could not log onto it at any time during the day. Indeed, for a period during the afternoon the Openzone node disappeared completely. Now I don’t know whether this was a BT-provided node or just someone’s personal router operating on the BT Fon cooperative service; but the online information (above) says that the problem in Manchester was resolved at 07.22 which therefore, anecdotally, I think was optimistic.
Third, we’ve had problems back at home in the Brighton area, and there’s no recorded incident in our area at all.
Two points, though. First, an incident like this makes us realise how much we now depend on being online. But second, it’s worth noting that nowadays there are many and multiple ways into the Internet. It would be easy to poke fun at an Internet service provider whose status information is online; but in fact it’s not stupid, because people whose landline broadband is down can get access through their mobile network, or even through old fashioned dial up if they still have a service available.
What could BT (and other providers) learn from this? As a customer, a few ideas.
1 – when the service is down, users do need access to service information. There’s scope surely to host basic information on the home hub. It only needs a phone number for an up to the minute recorded message confirming the network status and likely time of restoration – and if there’s no current estimate of the latter, then say so! The phone number can be kept up to date by an occasional central download.
2 – similarly, provide a local copy of full information for re-booting the modem. This is online at the above URL, where it truly is of limited use if the service is down!
3 – a broadband service should also include access to a basic dial-up service for emergency. Another option would be to provide free mobile access for the duration of an outage longer than, say, 2 hours. Of course, such backup services would need to be independent of the service provider’s own network so that any central problem – like this one – was bypassed; but providers might mutually cover each other’s problems.
Finally, here’s BT’s recommendation in detail for re-starting the hub modem. It’s a bit more complex than just power-off/power-on – note, though, it’s officially on the BT Business site so use with intelligence – no liability accepted if it doesn’t work for a home hub!! And it’s on the site incident page (URL as above) so may well disappear after a while. Print out and keep, together with a note of your own username and password!
You will need your username and password.
1. Switch off your PC
2. Switch power off to Router for 3 minutes then switch back on
3. Wait 5 minutes to allow Router time to stabilise
4. Switch PC back on
5. Open internet browser
6. If still unable to access the internet follow steps below:
7. Log into Router home page
for BT Business supplied equipment type the following in the address line:
BT Business Hub 192.168.1.254
for non BT equipment please refer to your supplier
8. Click on settings tab
9. Click on Broadband
10. Click on link configuration
11. You will now be able to see your username and password fields
12. Please change the username details that appear before the @ symbol as follows:
bt_test_user @XXXXXXXXXX (you must insert underscore _ in the name as shown)
13. Please leave password field blank unless prompted in which case enter ADSL (upper case)
14. Scroll to bottom of page and click on save
15. If prompted for Router password please input if not known click on “forgot password” link
16. This will connect the router on test details and the internet light will change to green
17. Repeat from step 7 above and change user name and password back to your own details.