Sunday, August 31, 2008

New video posted

I have just uploaded a new video that details the process of relocating SharePoint databases in SBS 2008 using the inbuilt wizards.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb7pOZuqa-4

All new videos will be now be available at http://www.youtube.com/directorciaops. The videos that I have already created for Saturn Alliance will remain but will no longer be updated or maintained. I therefore encourage all previous subscribers to update to my new directorciaops channel.

Serenity now! Serenity now!

Frank: Serenity now! Serenity now!
George: What is that?
Frank: Doctor gave me a relaxation cassette. When my blood pressure gets too high, the man on the tape tells me to say, 'Serenity now!'
George: Are you supposed to yell it?
Frank: The man on the tape wasn't specific.

 

(Seinfeld, Season 9, Episode 159, 9 October 1997)

 

I have decided to finish up with Saturn Alliance on the 30th of September 2008. From that point forward you can contact me via director@ciaops.com (and via http://www.ciaops.com).

 

As such I have also created a new YouTube account where I will continue to post videos. This new location is http://www.youtube.com/directorciaops. The videos I have created at http://www.youtube.com/saturnalliance will remain, however all new videos will be uploaded to the directorciaops account. If you are an existing subscriber I hope that you’ll subscribe to my new account.

 

My plans at this stage are simply to take a break and then pursue some opportunities in the areas of Sharepoint and IT productivity consultancy.

 

I take this opportunity to thank all those people who have supported me and Saturn Alliance during my time there and I aim to maintain a close relationship with Saturn Alliance going forward, however I do need to make a change. I’m looking forward to a new world of challenges which I will continue to post here. You may change other things but blogging must go on!

 

So as Frank would say - “Hoochie mumma”.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

SharePoint search

So I’ve been doing some more work on my Windows SharePoint Services Operations Guide (WSSOPS – plug, plug, plug…) and have come up against something that doesn’t seem right.

 

Now, according to :

 

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc671966.aspx - Installing Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 on a Server Running Windows Small Business Server 2003

 

there is section called Limitations. Under there it says:

 

“If you moved the Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 databases from WMSDE to the Microsoft SQL Server™ 2000 database software or to Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Search does not function after you install Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.”

 

Now I’ve been testing the migration from Sharepoint Services 2.0 with the database instances upgraded to SQL 2000 Server across to SBS 2003 (and SBS 2008) and this seems to work without issue (as long as you disable Full-Text Indexing first). So now what happens if I install Sharepoint 3.0 on the original SBS 2003 server that contains Sharepoint 2.0 that has had its databases upgraded to from WMSDE to SQL Server 2000?

 

I completed the “standard” side-by-side installation as recommended by Microsoft. I then ran a search in Sharepoint v 2.0 (a.k.a Companyweb) and as you see it still works.

 

image_2_vb9XaQ

 

So now I do a search in Sharepoint v 3.0 also installed on the same SBS 2003 box and guess what?

 

image_4_Ffbk0g

 

That search also works! So, it appears to me that the statement

 

“Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Search does not function after you install Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.”

 

isn’t correct because both search services (Sharepoint 2.0 and 3.0) appear to function on my test SBS 2003 server even after installing Sharepoint 3.0.

 

In an attempt to understand where this “limitation” has come from I have asked my local resident SBS-MVP (Wayne Small of sbsfaq.com) if he can (or find someone who can) explain what I seem to be missing here. If anyone else out there knows why this “limitation” has been highlighted in the Microsoft documentation I’d appreciate you letting me know as I really can’t see it as being a limitation, but then I am probably missing something obvious (as I have done many times before). I would be disappointed if people read this and decided not to install Sharepoint 3.0 on SBS 2003 because they had upgraded their instances and were afraid Sharepoint search wouldn’t function as I have read a few comments on the web to this extent.

 

Help me understand – I need to know!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Do you trust your bank?

No? Neither would I, however they are still out there doing stupid things. Such as? This story from the Sydney Morning Herald details how a server the bank sold on Ebay still had confidential client information. Um, like how is that supposed to happen? An “honest error” and an “isolated incident” according to the bank. Yeah, right.

 

Being involved in recycling technology myself for worthy causes I can’t tell you how much “interesting” data I have found on machines individuals and businesses have donated. Now I make sure that every machine that I recycle has its information thoroughly wiped to military standards before it is resold, so if I can do that why can’t the bank? It is simply a matter of booting to a CD and allowing to run an erase program. Still, it amazes me how little people value their information.

 

The problem is, think of all the establishments that have information about you stored somewhere on computer. What do they do with their old systems? Do they have a data destruction policy? What about your home PC’s? What happens after they have served their dues? Do you just throw them out? Ah, what about the data? It doesn’t suddenly become unreadable just because the PC is a little slow.

 

Value your data. If you want to keep it private – encrypt it. When you are finished with it - wipe it for once information escapes your control all it wants to be is free and like a genie, it doesn’t care who its master is! The real worry is those businesses who “look” after your data. What do they do? If you feel uneasy I’d ask them.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

ISP DNS vulnerability checker

If you aren’t aware there has recently been an issue with DNS servers that may allow an attacker to redirect you to a malicious web site. If you interested in some more information about the issues see a recent story in the Sydney Morning Herald.

 

Unfortunately, this issue needs to be resolved at an ISP level, which basically means your ISP has to patch their DNS servers otherwise all their subscribers could be vulnerable. How can you tell whether your ISP has patched their servers?

 

DoxPara has been setup to do just that. Go to the site and click on the Test my DNS button of the right hand side. This will then return the results of a DNS query, if the ports are random (i.e. :42039, :54311, :34597, etc) then your ISP has patched. However, if the ports are following an obvious pattern (i.e :1001. :1002, :1003, or :30000, :30020, :30100) then you ISP probably hasn’t patched and you need to ask them why.

Right on!

Just been reading the Diva’s blog where she links to the article : Tech Pros: The Next Dinosaurs? Here’s the take away for me:

 

“Managing tech equipment and maintaining older systems will become decreasingly important. Identifying the best new tools early on and figuring out how to get them into the hands of the people they’ll benefit will be the more important skill.”

If you haven’t got your head “into” cloud computing yet then be prepared to go the way of the dinosaur, because those savvy users are already well down the path to implementing it without you!

Bulk convert documents to Office 2007 format

Now, not everyone is going to need to convert all their Office documents to Office 2007 format but if you are taking the leap and upgrading all your desktops to Office 2007 it is probably an option to consider since there are many benefits with the new format.

 

Rather than opening each document and saving it in the new format you can download some tools from Microsoft and automate the process. Follow these steps to complete the process.

Applying lessons from the Four Hour Work Week

I’ve been a huge fan of the Four Hour Work Week written by Timothy Ferris. It is one of only a few books that I can say has really changed the way that I view the world. You can read my review but I would urge you to actually take the time and read the book.

 

Most people that have read the book simply don’t understand how it can be applied to a business (especially their own). With that in mind I have found the following articles about how businesses has applied the principles from the book and the benefits it has provided.

 

Local business owners swear by time-saving efficiency methods outlined in best-selling book.

 

Sandia – Being more productive

 

I’m sure there’s at least one thing in there that you’ll get benefit from. Remember to save time in the future you need to invest some time now, however any thing you invest now will reap much greater rewards in the future than simply letting things continue the way they are now. Work smarter, not harder.

 

Always being ‘so busy with work’ isn’t a badge of honour, it’s simply being stupid!

The E-Myth Contractor – Book Review


Like the E-myth revisited from Michael Gerber this book is a must read for anyone running their own business. The big advantage of this book over the E-myth revisited is that it is more concise.
This books takes the best bits from the E-myth revisited and condenses them into an easy to read, thought provoking way of looking at a business. In essence, most people in small business spend all their time doing the work, rather than building systems that allow other people to do the work for them. As a result they struggle to achieve the success and happiness that they desire.


If you want a quick introduction to the methodology that is the E-myth then this is a great start. It will start you thinking about working on your business rather than in it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Who the hell designed this?

I’ve ranted here before about stupid e-commerce systems that were designed by people who have NOT IDEA how real people actually buy stuff. Guess what? I’ve found yet another example.

 

So, I order something recently and everything appears to go swimmingly. I get an email saying that everything’s in progress and my order should take about 10 days. Yesterday I think - “Hey, where’s that widget I ordered? It’s been longer than 10 days”. So I return to the web site and check the status of my order and here’s what it says:

 

Order Status
Order Status Description

ORDER
Your Order has been entered and will be processed overnight.

ISSUE
Your Order has been processed and fulfillment is in progress.

REDEEMED
Your Order has been confirmed as fulfilled and will be delivered within 10 working days of the Order date.

REJECT
Your Order has been rejected due to insufficient details provided at the time of Order. Please submit your order again. You have been recredited for this Order.

RETURN
Your Order has been returned. You have been recredited for this Order.

RECREDIT
You have been recredited due to a cancelled Order.

 

Now reading this I’m sure most people would assume that I’ve made a mistake during ordering and thus the order has been rejected. Ok, so I go back and re-enter the order for the same item. Everything looks good, no errors. I receive an email confirming that I’ll receive my purchase in 10 days BUT this time I check the order status and guess what? My order has once again been rejected with the exactly the same text as you see above.

 

So I now place a call to the business to find out what the hell is going on. When I get through to the service representative I’m told that the text above actually means the order has been correctly processed. “Say what!” is my response. “Oh, we get a lot of complains about that message” say the service rep, “and we keep telling the IT people but they never do anything about it”. “So where the hell is what I’ve ordered if everything is as it is supposed to be?” I counter. “I’ll escalate the issue and hopefully……” replies the Service Rep.

 

I have no idea what I was told after because I switched off. Look, now call me an idiot (which I get a lot) but doesn’t this line:

 

Your Order has been rejected due to insufficient details provided at the time of Order. Please submit your order again.

 

Sorta suggest to you that there is problem with the order? Maybe the message is in Japanese rather than English and that’s why I don’t seem to be able to grasp it’s true meaning.

 

Who the hell designed this e-commerce system? Why am I told my order is rejected when it’s not? If lots of customers complain about something a smart business would probably change things so people wouldn’t complain. Don’t you think?

 

We need to start designing systems for the human being that actually use them. Gee whiz guys. What good is technology that doesn’t make things simpler and easier? I would think this is really simple stuff but clearly I’m in the minority because I see this sort of stupidity everywhere.

 

And, by the way, I’m still waiting for my order. Last time I order there.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

SBS Course starts this week

Another term and another Small Business Server course. If you are interested in understanding Small Business Server 2003 and how to get it running optimally in your business then this course is for you. It is held at Macquarie Community College over three nights and will show you:

 

- What Small Business Server is and how it can help your business.

- How to install and set up Small Business Server to ensure you get the most effective use of the product in your environment.

- How to maintain your network to ensure it remains reliable and secure.

 

It is still not too late to register with the college to attend. For more information, including how to enrol see:

 

http://www.macquarie.nsw.edu.au/index.php?action=course&course_action=detail&code=308M297

 

I look forward to seeing you there.

Going to SMB Nation? Me too!

For many years I wanted to attend the SMBnation Conference presented by Harry Brelsford in Seattle. Why? Well, it appears to me to be the premier SBS/SMB event in the world and features an amazing collection of knowledgeable SBS’ers as well as many who are starting out in the business. With the upcoming release of SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 I reckon there is going to be plenty of great technical and business content.

 

As luck would have it, I’ve also been asked to do presentation on Sharepoint.  Here are the details:

 

GS1: Utilizing Sharepoint to improve your business
You can't expect to sell Windows Sharepoint Services unless you are actually using it yourself. This presentation will take you through how an IT business like your can use Sharepoint inside your own business to improve productivity. The session will also look at how you can leverage your own internal Sharepoint experience and development to add value to existing customer relationships and attract new business.


This presentation will show you practical ways that you can start simply with Sharepoint and then grow your system to a CRM style solution for your business. You'll receive practical tips on how to most effectively get your system up and running.

If you are planning on selling Sharepoint services then you must attend this session to discover what works and what doesn't inside a business and how to leverage that knowledge to produce better business. (Monday 6th of October, 10.15-11.45am Bay Auditorium located on the third floor of the conference center)

 

So if you are coming along to SMBnation then come up and say “Hi” and let me know what you’re doing with Sharepoint inside your business and for your customers. If you get a chance to attend my session then I’d also really appreciate that and am pretty confident that you’ll get something out of it. Also, since I plan to be in Seattle from the 1st of October till the end of SMBnation, I’m more than happy to catch up outside SMBnation as well.

 

So if you’re planning to be in Seattle for SMBnation then I’d really love you to come along to my Sharepoint session. If you can’t and still want to catch up with me then just send me an email (director@ciaops.com) and I’ll make sure I arrange something.

Who needs an iPod?

Wow, I’ve just discovered a great way to listen to all your tunes using Windows Mesh. Simply use Mesh to sync a local folder with all your music to Mesh and then you can log into your account from any Internet browser and stream the audio directly over the net!



The above screen shot shows my Mesh desktop after I logged in using my browser. All I do to listen to my audio is simply select the Music folder, then change to media view and press play. Remember, all I need to listen to my music is a browser connected to the Internet.

You can currently store up to 5GB of data on Mesh and it can be any sort of data. It is interesting to consider that rather than simply being storage space Mesh actually has intelligence in determining what sort of data you have stored. How long will it be before you can preview your Word, Excel or even PDF document in Mesh? What other stuff could you do with data ‘intelligently’ in Mesh?

Just another benefit (and example of things to come) from ‘Cloud Computing’.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

KB948109 SQL Server 2005 SP2 Security Upgrade Fails To Install

Man, being trying to install this on a server for while now and it keeps failing. The log reads:

 

SQL Server not responsive prior to running Repl post script procedure

 

So it turns out that if an SQL 2005 instance doesn’t use Windows Authentication for SQL login then the patch will fail to apply. How can you find out which instance is causing the problem? Use the management tools (or download the free Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio Express) and then try attaching to each instance individually using the Windows Authentication. Find one that doesn’t, then there’s your culprit.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tech-ed SBS Preday Sydney

If you want to get up to speed with the latest SBS and EBS information from Microsoft and meet those actually using and testing the product then you really should be attending the SBS Pre-day at Teched Sydney.

 

Apart from that, for every attendee you also receive a FREE for sale copy of SBS 2008, which you can resell or use yourself. That is over $ 1,000 of value which is MORE than enough to cover the cost of entry into the SBS TechEd preday.

 

Aside from the free version of SBS 2008 and all the great information you’ll receive you’ll also get to network with the best and brightest SBS talent Australia has to offer. There’ll be MVP’s galore and a few other ‘celebrity’ SBS’ers.

 

I’ve already signed up, so if you are umming and ahhhing about attending then I can see no reason why you shouldn’t. To register go to:

 

http://www.microsoft.com.au/teched/pre_days.aspx

 

and join me in finding out what opportunities SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 will provide.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

SharePoint database options for SBS 2008

So, you’re thinking that since you went out and purchased SBS 2008 Premium, which includes SQL Server 2008 on a second server, you’d like to use that to hold the content databases for Sharepoint v3. Remembering, this is all RC0,1 stuff, here’s my take.

 

After SBS 2008 is installed, SharePoint v3 will be configured to use SQL 2005 Embedded Edition on the first SBS 2008 server (no other option from what I see). Now, before you start adding data to SharePoint you can go into the SharePoint Central Administration and specify a new default database server. Next, you are going to have to migrate the existing Companyweb databases (from SQL 2005 Embedded) to the second server with SQL 2008. Alternatively, you are going to have to create new content databases for Companyweb. Why? I’ll assume you still want the SBS 2008 wizards to work and they work on http://companyweb. Thus, it is probably easier to simply shift or recreate the Companyweb databases than try and create a completely new application and make that Companyweb. Is only my guess.

 

But hang on, let’s have a think about this. You probably decided to go with SQL 2008 rather than SQL 2005 Embedded Edition for performance reasons but my guess is that any gains would be lost as you have to send and receive data between servers. Remember the Sharepoint Web site is on the first SBS 2008 box while the content database is on the second SBS 2008 box.

 

Ok, since Sharepoint is a free application you could install it on the second SBS 2008 (which has SQL 2008). That way you get the “performance” improvement of SQL 2008 and no loss of “performance” because of cross network traffic. Ah, yes but now Sharepoint won’t work with any of the inbuilt SBS 2008 wizards because it is a new instance. I’m sure you could rectify that but my guess it would be “unsupported”

 

So I question what “performance” improvement is expected from SQL 2008? I have not found anyone who can tell me whether SQL 2005 Standard is better than SQL 2005 Embedded or SQL 2008. Therefore, I’d say you are probably better staying with the standard Sharepoint v3 install on SBS 2008 using SQL 2005 Embedded Edition. So unless you are planning another use for SQL 2008 why do you need SBS 2008 Premium? There are legitimate reasons for SBS 2008 Premium but if you are just getting it for Sharepoint maybe there isn’t.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Another iPhone rate comparison site

Here's another web site that will allow you to enter the usage details for an iPhone and then have it tell you the best plan (in Australia).

 

http://www.numbersinaflash.com

 

Simply select iPhone Plans Calculator in the top left if need be. There are also some other handy calculators available.

The bad guys win again!

Seems like a few people have been fleeced of their money via a bogus Olympic ticketing web site.


 As you can see www.beijingticketing.com looks very professional and there really isn’t much to give it away as being a scam. A story in the Sydney Morning Herald gives you some of the dollar figures for people who have been fleeced, and it ain’t small money!

This again demonstrates how sophisticated the bad guys are becoming in the quest to part you from your money. There is no simply solution to overcoming this issue because if you can fool the human at the keyboard you are well on your way to payday.

I know hindsight is 20/20 but if you read the About us page you do find some grammar issues like:

“We are special for providing sold out event tickets in very economical prices.”

and

“For being in the ticket market since a long time we have become very popular in football fans and music lovers”

Now I admit that bad grammar on a sophisticated web site does warrant concern but I don’t think it would have mattered in this case. Simply because most people would have been taken in by the professional look of the web site and secondly most would not have bothered to check the About page. Finally, grammar issues could have been put down to the site being converted from Chinese (maybe).

So all in all a very hard one for even the most vigilant computer user to pick. I suppose the only adage that can be applied is “if it seems to good to be true, then chances are it is”.

Bad guys 2 – Internet users 0

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Do lots of emails make you feel important?

I’ve been doing some research and contemplation about emails of late. Interestingly, I came across the following article from Slate called – The E-Mail Addict. The article raises a number of issues with email that I think most people, including myself fall, into.

 

To start with, ever do this?

 

“people have a tendency to simply open their inboxes and scroll up and down for several minutes, knocking off two or three messages so they feel better”

 

It is all too easy isn’t it? Not feeling like doing anything, drifting along, what can I do you, you think? Rather than face an unpleasant or difficult task that NEEDS doing it is so much easier simply to scroll through your inbox and delete or reply to one or two emails. You now feel that you’ve done something so you drift off onto something else. Sound familiar?

 

Secondly, what about this?

 

“Lots of e-mail makes you feel important”

 

So, not only is email a good time waster for most workers but the more they get interrupted by email and the more they store in their inboxes the more “important” they feel. Silly isn’t it?

 

There was a time when emails were are real productivity improvement but sadly they have plainly become an excuse to waste time. Why? Simply, people have allowed the technology to control them. They have lost the discipline of saying enough is enough. They have become so insecure that they need emails to confirm their self worth. Ad infinitum.

 

Finally, consider:

 

Today, scholars talk of the "communication enslavement" that occurs when someone sends e-mail to someone else.

 

I had never really thought of it that way but in many cases this is right on the money. You send some an email and EXPECT a reply and EXPECT the reply instantaneously.

 

It is interesting if you take a step back and really have a look at the VALUE of Internet communications (in all their forms). Consider whether they are really improving your productivity or are they simply giving you something to do and something to feel good about. It is a brave person that can walk away from emails in today’s overloaded environment but the studies seem to indicate that unless you do you are doomed to life tethered to a machine. That certainly isn’t suppose to be the way it should be, in my my opinion.

 

I will happily admit that I fall into the same traps as well but I am trying to do something about it. My starting point? The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris (see my review, in my opinion a must read), and yes I am reading it AGAIN!