Thursday, December 31, 2009

Upcoming SharePoint webinar

Announcing the first of the CIAOPS webinars for 2010.

 

100107 – SharePoint Questions and Answers 1

Topics covered:
- Configuring and scheduling command line backups
- Document management best practices
- SharePoint alternatives and downsides
- SharePoint 2010 Foundation
- Embedding YouTube into SharePoint

Presenter: Robert Crane
Date: Thursday 7th of January 2010
Time: 10.00am (Sydney, Australia time)
Duration: 60 minutes
Cost: $10 ex GST
Level: 2 (Intermediate)
Prerequisites: None

Details
This webinar will answer many of the most popular questions we see regarding SharePoint technologies.

Registration: To register send an email to
director@ciaops.com.

Don't forget that our previous webinars:

091112 – Introduction to SharePoint (Free)

091126 – Basics of using SharePoint (Free)

091210 – Basic SharePoint administration ($10)

 

Are also available upon request (director@ciaops.com)

I
hope to see you there.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Up in the sky


A few posts ago (I smell fear) I was lamenting the fact that Microsoft seemed to be getting pretty desperate about getting resellers on board to sell its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). I pointed out that in my opinion existing resellers and their inertia when moving to this new platform was going to be a millstone around Microsoft’s neck that it needed to address.

Now the following article ‘Microsoft must sell the cloud to IT Pros in 2010’ covers similar ground. The article points confirms a number points that I have been speaking about for quite a while, such that if IT Pros

"don't get in line to compete [with online services], they put themselves at a significant risk of being not there when real money starts to get spent in this space."

and the fact that a majority of businesses are going to be dipping their toes into the world of online services:

“data also shows that only 16% of those who have adopted cloud computing, or will within 12 months, will go solely with an off-premises model. But 50% of those respondents will go with a mixture on both on-premises and off premises.”

and that BPOS is the best opportunity for IT resellers:

“The most popular is software-as-a-service, represented for Microsoft by BPOS, and infrastructure as a service, represented by SQL Azure and integration technology.”

and finally Microsoft has a major challenge on its hands but only a limited time frame in which to achieve it:

EMA's Mann says couple all that with the fact that "IT never gets rid of anything" and you have a situation where "IT is not going to move to the cloud, they are going to add the cloud to what they have."

And how IT can go about doing that will be Microsoft's challenge. The clock begins ticking louder in 2010.

The reality is that most businesses are considering the adoption of some form of cloud technology in their business. It is certainly, not in the short term at least, going to replace on premise infrastructure it will supplement it. However the majority of IT Pros that I know have no online strategy at all, they like Microsoft, are focusing on the wrong aspects of changes online services are going to usher in. It is not about selling a per month service, it is about what opportunities become available with the wide spread availability of these tools.

To survive in this new environment you are either going to make money by volume (many sales at low margin) or specialization (fewer sales at much higher margins). It seems to me the option with the least effort required is simply moving up the food chain (i.e. the second option) but this appears to put the fear of God into so many IT Pros. Why? Because in past they became comfortable selling their IT knowledge. The reality is that Google has changed that landscape FOREVER. As evolution has taught us, now is the time to adapt or perish, because the window of opportunity will not remain open forever.

All new and shiny

I have now swapped over to the new hosting package for www.ciaops.com that I have been talking about of late. A bit early perhaps but I wanted to make sure it was all operational by the first of January.

Now, there is still plenty of work to do but the first step is always making the change. My previous design had the navigation menu on the right hand side of the screen much like my other recent web site upgrade (www.anzacsinfrance.com). I asked a few people their thoughts and they said that the perhaps the menu should go on the right. ‘I don’t like that’, was my initial reaction, ‘this is MY web site’, I thought. Wrong! I then remembered the whole reason I had gone down this refurbishment path. I was looking to create a web site that worked for visitors not for my own ego.

I swallowed my pride and decided that I needed to do some research. The first place I went to was probably one of the most popular sites on the Internet – Amazon. Guess what? Menus on the left. What about the BBC? Again, menus on the left. Wikipedia? Again, menus on the left. If I wasn’t finally convinced I found a tool form Google called Browser size.

According to the site:

Google Browser Size is a visualization of browser window sizes for people who visit Google. For example, the "90%" contour means that 90% of people visiting Google have their browser window open to at least this size or larger.

This is useful for ensuring that important parts of a page's user interface are visible by a wide audience. On the example page that you see when you first visit this site, there is a "donate now" button which falls within the 80% contour, meaning that 20% of users cannot see this button when they first visit the page. 20% is a significant number; knowing this fact would encourage the designer to move the button much higher in the page so it can be seen without scrolling.

So if I had my menus on the right of the page it was likely less people would have been seen them without scrolling. This would have meant they were less likely to stay and view the content, which is exactly what I don’t want.

Luckily with the new hosting tool, swapping the columns was a piece of cake and after doing this I must admit I liked the site better myself. This whole process goes to prove my earlier point about focusing on the reasons you have for doing something. I have some very specific goals for my web site going forward but what good is that if I ignore that when I go about implementation? Like derrrr, however it is very, very easy to overlook. I must now revisit some of my other projects and see if I’m making similar mistakes. Focus grasshopper, focus.

Another great set of tools to help me achieve my web site goals I have found is Google Webmaster Tools.
 
Once I have configured my sites in here I can see if they appear in Google and not only what search queries have resulted in my site being displayed but also how my sites raking in that query. There is a whole swag of tools available here that I need to fully explore but honestly, it is yet another way that Google is helping my business. Best of all, like most of Google’s stuff, Webmaster Tools is free. I once again see this a confirmation that Microsoft is falling behind in the battle to win hearts and minds in this ‘new economy’.

So I’m off to do some more fiddling and migrating of my web site www.ciaops.com. Stop by, have a look and let me know what you think as I’d really love to get feedback from some real visitors. Feel free to contact me via email (director@ciaops.com) with your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Improving the response to feedback

I’m a big one for measurements and metrics. You know the saying – ‘If you can’t measure it then you probably shouldn’t be doing it’. This statement however probably neglects the most important aspect of metrics, that being adjustment. Once you measure something you need to use the results to improve what you are measuring. In many ways that means creating a constant feedback loop as changes are made and then their results are compared, changes made and then measurements taken again. Sometimes, an adjustment may make things a little worse or with any luck, a little better. In the big picture, the result should show a continual improvement.

One of the areas where I have been making measurements but failing to make adjustments has been with my web site www.ciaops.com. I have watched as the metrics have continued to fall and for various reasons failed to lift a finger to make any changes. From January 1 that is going to change as I have migrated my main web site to a new platform and am committing myself to much closer monitoring and adjustment going forward. The main reason for this is that I am coming to appreciate how critical a web site now is when selling your business. It is the number one place where potential customer will come to check out who you are and what you have to offer. If you fail to measure up here, guess what? They’ll be gone.

Probably the major reason that I failed to make adjustments to my web site was simply the fact that the platform I was on with my previous ISP was simply so ancient now. I was working with old fashion tools trying to keep up with the modern advances of the web. Having identified previously that I did need to do something I soon came to appreciate that the platform I was on was not going to be suitable. That has driven me on an extensive search of what is available and I am now very confident of the platform I am adopting. Yet that is still not good enough. As ‘good’ as I ‘think’ this platform is, a ‘nice’ as I think my remodelled web site will be it makes no difference now unless I see improvements in my metrics. This means I need to focus more fully on what visitors use my site for. This means I need to spend more time looking in depth the analytics of my web site. It means making changes to my site that may not seem to make sense to me but in the end I need to focus on what I deliver to people who visit my site because it is going to the central to my business in the future.

My initial attempt at migrating my site is clearly going to be far from the most effective result possible however, the important thing will be my enhanced focus on examining the site metrics and make adjustments. With 2010 fast approaching let me ask you firstly whether you have adequate metrics in place for the critical aspects of your business? Secondly, I’d ask that if you do have these metrics in place what are you doing with them? For it is silly to simply collect the results without converting them into action.

When my new site goes live around January 1 have a look and let me know what you think because now I have the tools and desire to make the site what it should truly be – the central location of my business going forward and I can use all the feedback I can get.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dear web hoster


Haven’t I been a good customer? Haven’t I always paid my bills and never asked any really demanding questions? Haven’t I been using your service for over 10 years now as well as bringing all my clients along as well? But guess what? I’ve finally realized that I’ve been stupid. I’ve allowed you to take me for granted, take my money and provide nothing above the basics in return. Now that I’ve finally woken up to this fact guess what? I’m outta here.

If you look at any business, it probably makes 80% of its money from 20% of its customers. Typically these 20% simply pay their accounts every month and continue to buy product from you, but what do you do for them? In all the years I’ve been with my ISP I think they have contacted me once about upgrading the plans that I was on and that was because they wanted me to shift to a new server. Was that better for me? Nope, it was better for them. What was in it for me? Nothing except extra expense. Now I maybe dumb but I ain’t stupid. Why should I pay more and get nothing additional? Give me a break. Is this how you treat me after all these of good patronage?

How many relationships in business (and life) do we take for granted? Too many I’ll bet. We simply assume they’ll always be there and thus, we never need to do anything to maintain them. Problem is that overtime, left unattended like a garden, the weeds start to grow. The relationship starts to decay as the parties drift apart. Now the bonds that maintain that relationship become weaker and weaker until even the smallest change the landscape causes them to break. The smallest enticement is enough for the customer to switch.

Clearly my current web hoster really doesn’t care if I’m a customer, even after all these years. Even though I maybe small fry I feel totally taken for granted. Even as I scaled back my investment with the web hoster I have still not received any queries as to whether there were any problems or something additional that could be done to retain my business. So rather than be continually ignored I’m taking all my business elsewhere. Worse still, I’m going to tell everyone that I’ve done that. That can’t be good for the web hoster’s business now can it?

It doesn’t take much to maintain a strong relationship but like a garden it still needs to be tended. It needs to have the occasional weed removed. If not, then that lack of focus soon becomes obvious and it’s generally down hill from there.

If you don’t know which customers in you business contribute the most to your profitability then you should. Once you do look after them and fire the 80% who continually cause you grief. The impact of losing a good customer is going to far higher and typically you won’t realize it until it is too late. Even if your car is running well you take in for service don’t you? If you aren’t doing that with your best customers now, like me, it is only a matter of time before they are someone else’s clients.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Free CD sampler

If you interested in IT resources then I’d suggest you head over to SMB Books to have a look at what they have to offer. You may even find that last minute Christmas gift for that geek who is near and dear to you. One thing you will find is a free CD Sampler that SMB Books have put together showcasing a range of products that are available on the site.

A full listing of the products that are showcase on the CD Sampler can be found here. Low and behold you’ll find that one of the products showcased is my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide. As part of the offering for the CD I have made available a number of my documents as well as well as interviews that I have conducted recently. However, you’ll also plenty of really handy stuff on there and best of all it is free to you. Simply complete the details on the request page and lickity split you’ll have a CD before you can say Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Help others


As Christmas draws near and the season for purchasing gifts draws to an end (just before the sales of the New Year start) I’d urge you to stop and have a think about those who may not be going to have such a merry Christmas this year.

Sure we can all sit here and dwell on the issues at hand but that achieves very little in the end. I reckon that taking action is the best method of actually making things better. As I have mentioned before, one of my favourite ways of making a difference is Kiva.org. It is a system where you can contribute small amounts together with others that is lent out to small business people all over the world.

I like this system for a number of reasons. Firstly the money that you give is an investment rather than an donation. The recipients of the funds use it as loans for their business. They are obliged to pay the amount back (and to date everyone I have lent to has done just that – see my donor page). This means that once the money has been repaid it can be withdrawn or re-lent. If you choose to re-loan the money it means that same amount is working over and over again. The other reason I like Kiva is that a business operator I feel a close association with those working in a business and trying to get a leg up. Finally, I think Kiva is a really great example of the power of the Internet for good. It shows you how technology can be utilized to provide benefit to many of the most disadvantaged on our planet.

If you haven’t see Kiva then I’d ask that you at least have a look at the site and see what it is all about. I’d also encourage you to take the opportunity to look around your community and see what assistance you maybe able to offer someone in need this Christmas. Even if it is just a friendly ear because there are more people in need out there that we realize.

Sick of giving feedback



A while ago I must have agreed to be on this Microsoft Partner Research Panel. Basically it means I have to fill out a web based survey once a month about my relationship with Microsoft. Well no more, I’m sick of doing these things. Why? Because I’m self centred and I see no benefits for ME.

Now mind you I have no problems doing the occasional survey but this once a month thing is becoming a real drag. I can’t see that I’m receiving any benefit personally or for my business. If I am, I wish Microsoft would tell me because I certainly can’t see it. I never see any results from these surveys, I never get contact by Microsoft about what information I enter in these surveys and like I said I can’t see ANY benefit to me or my business of spending the amount of time I do on these things.

It’s like when Microsoft (and any other vendor) ask for customer case studies. What’s the benefit to end customer? No much really. They get to see their name on some anonymous white paper buried in some obscure web site. How does that help their business? How does it improve their revenue or decrease their expenditure? It doesn’t. So why should they do it? It is simply distracting and only really benefits the vendor.

Now I appreciate that people like Microsoft need feedback and this maybe the most efficient way for them to receive it but I’m getting the feeling that this feedback thing is becoming a one way street. What’s in for me? If there is something, then I sure as hell have no idea what it is!

You can’t just keep going along and sucking information out of people without giving something tangible back I’m sorry to say. If you want my opinion then there has to be something in for me, I’m sorry. I have a business to run. I’m know I’m a greedy, self centred and pompous but hey you’ve had your chance. I’ve done you lots of favours and the now your relationship bank account with me has been overdrawn and I’m bouncing all your cheques until you start putting something back into it. As The Donald says – It’s no personal, it’s business.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A fresh coat of paint

One of things that I have been conscious of late is that fact that many of my web sites are looking a bit old and tired. Given that the people that I host them with are making noise about wanting to upgrade their service (for more money obviously) I thought it was time to have a look for a better web platform.

I’m happy to report that I have found something that I reckon is pretty good. As a test I have migrated my World War One Battlefields across using this new tool and I have to say that I’m impressed. It has taken only about six hours to get it up and functioning. What I can do now is really just amazing and the speed is so much better as well. If you are interested in seeing what I have been able to create then take a look at http://www.anzacsinfrance.com.

Now that I have the process pretty much down-pat I’m probably also going to move my main CIAOPS web site across. This might take a bit longer to migrate as I want to redesign and re-architect what I have on offer here to take advantage of what the new platform offers. I’ve also settled on a really nice e-commerce solution that should also integrate nicely.

Bottom line is that I’m so confident about this new platform that I’m going to start offering it as part of a complete web development package from the CIAOPS. So if you are interested in revamping your site, incorporating e-commerce and improving your web presence or that of your clients I’d suggest you drop me an email (director@ciaops.com) so we can work out exactly what you need and how much it will cost.

In the meantime give me you feedback on www.anzacsinfrance.com and watch out for further updates.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Looking for topics

I’m in the process of developing the next of my webinars and thought it would be good to offer a SharePoint questions and answers session. Now I could come up with what I believe are the most relevant questions around SharePoint but I think it would better if people out there let me know what they’d like to know about when it comes to SharePoint.

 

For that reason I’m asking for people to submit any SharePoint questions to me directly (director@ciaops.com). They can be on the installation, implementation. migration and even how to sell SharePoint solutions. As an added incentive, if you provide a question that I use in the webinar I’ll give you free access to both the live presentation as well as any recording of the event made.

 

So please have a think about what you would like to know about SharePoint and send it to me (director@ciaops.com). I’m sure that you won’t be the only one who wants to know the answer and if you come up with a good one you’ll get free access to the webinar!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The importance of fitness


I’ve been talking a lot about ‘cop outs’ of late and this post is not going to break that mould. I recently overheard a number of IT people saying that the profession doesn’t lend itself to keeping in shape. What a crock I gotta say. If a doctor said to them that they needed to eat better, get more sleep and start exercising because they would die or catch some terminal disease I’m pretty sure they make an abrupt change. So the issue isn’t ‘can’t’ it’s ‘won’t’.

It is not just the IT profession in which this happens mind you but it is certainly the place that I hear the most excuses about how the ‘special’ requirements of the job require the need to sacrifice other parts of one’s life. This is simply rubbish, it is a decision made by the individual of their own free will to leave things as they are. In many cases it is just that they are too lazy, afraid and undisciplined to make a change that they know they need to make.

I will put up my hand and freely admit that for far too many years I did exactly the same thing. I avoided making decisions about change that needed to be made to regain some semblance of ‘a life’. Many today use their job to hide from ‘a life’ and in the process not only affect themselves but also those around them. They believe that ‘soldiering’ on the same old way is ‘just what has to be done’. Again, what a crock I say. These people shouldn’t fool themselves that they don’t have choices. They should also not fool themselves that their indecisions, as much as any decision they make, directly affect more than just the lives they lead.

The old saying goes that your body is a temple but perhaps an even simpler consideration is that if you don’t respect your own body how are you expected to respect anything else? People aren’t fools you know. No matter how much you tell them one thing, if it isn’t backed up by reality they simply won’t buy it.

There are so many reasons to maintain a decent level of physical fitness: it generally allows you to live longer, makes you more resistant to aliments, improves your stamina and not least of all makes you feel good about yourself. If you don’t feel good about yourself then you really aren’t going to feel good about anything else are you? Honestly, no you’re not.

I believe in karma and none more so when it comes to looking after yourself. You can continue to abuse your body for many years, but when it has had enough you are going to find how different life is without it. People maintain their homes, their cars, their knowledge but yet they let their physical condition slip. The reality is that without physical fitness you may not be able to do any of these other things may you?

We all know there are a million reasons why you should take better care of your physical fitness but I’ll give you just one. What would your life be like without it? Because if you continue on making excuses and ignoring the warning signs then you’ll certainly have no one else to blame but most likely you won’t be the only one affected by your own indecision. At the very least this is grossly unfair to them. So consider that as you let your girth continue to expand with inaction.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

SharePoint webinar preview available

Having completed the next webinar in the SharePoint series (Basic SharePoint administration) today I have posted up the first few minutes as a preview on my YouTube channel:

Basic SharePoint administration (preview)

 

Because those that attended the 60 minute presentation had to pay to attend I am not planning to post the complete video online. However, for anyone interested in viewing the complete video can contact me directly (director@ciaops.com) to arrange a downloadable copy.

 

Given that the next webinar would normally be scheduled for Christmas Eve I have decided to reschedule it to Thursday 7th of January at this stage. If you are interested I’d suggest you get on the mailing list (director@ciaops.com) for updates or stay posted to announcements on this blog.

 

I hope that all those who attended today got something valuable and I look forward to having you on future webinars in 2010.

BPOS Technical School live meeting recording

Although this webinar comes from the UK it provides a pretty good overview of what BPOS is and how resellers can go about incorporating it into their suite of products. You’ll find the download at:

 

https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/WebCastRegistrationConfirmation.aspx?culture=en-GB&RegistrationID=1304293125&Validate=false

 

it runs for about an hour and is particularly worthwhile if you are considering Microsoft Business Online Productivity Suite (BPOS).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I smell fear

In a bygone age Microsoft was able to dominate its rivals by bullying, blustering or buying. In the online services market that is no longer the case and in fact I believe that Microsoft is running scared, without a good strategy to complete with Google.

Why do I say this? Very recently I have been approach by a number of larger SMB resellers asking me about Google in the SMB market. I knew from the questions they were asking the questions hadn’t come from the reseller but from Microsoft. Here is the first piece of evidence I have about Microsoft not having a suitable strategy. It is asking its partners in the SMB space how to compete and they don’t know either! What can you expect? These partners are now ‘old world’. They are not part of the new hip iPod generation where everything is delivered instantaneously from the Internet. They make their money from traditional means like selling software on DVD and hardware in boxes. Not many resellers like this even have an online strategy, so what good is it asking them? None what so ever.

Microsoft has traditionally sold its products through resellers, not directly to customers (although this is also changing) but that has now created a millstone around Microsoft’s neck when it comes to online services. How can Microsoft sell online services when these resellers aren’t skilled enough in these applications? Why would they bother selling online services if they can’t see the revenue return? The answer is – they won’t, period.

Now let’s examine how Microsoft has chosen to compete with Google. They do so mainly via email services and Exchange Server online. But guess what? Email services are simply a utility now. Email is just a product that is expected, and if there isn’t much perceived difference between the offerings of Google and Microsoft (which there isn’t as email is email) then all that is left is a decision by the customer based on price. At the moment Google is the cheaper option and it wins. Guess what? If Microsoft drops it price so will Google. In fact Google could afford to give it away and there ain’t a damm thing Microsoft can do because it now faces an adversary who is as big and rich as they are. That’s something it has never had to face before.

As any good strategist will tell you, never fight an adversary where they are strongest, on ground not of your choosing or at a time that doesn’t suit you. In summary, attack an adversary where they are weakest not where they are strongest. Is Microsoft doing this? Nope. They go after Google in search ( al la Bing ). They go after Google via Exchange online. Dumb, dumb, dumb. If they stopped and thought about things they’d realize they have the perfect weapon with which to compete with Google in the online space.

Not surprisingly I believe this weapon to be SharePoint. Not only is it a product that is far more feature rich and mature than Google Sites, it provides superior collaboration with products that most clients already have on their desktop like, Outlook, Word, Excel and OneNote. SharePoint has the flexibility to solve many common business problems. The value of SharePoint is what you can create with it. The value of SharePoint is that you can solve REAL business problems without overlaying complex technology and increasing costs. The value of SharePoint is that it is simple to use and implement. Yet I’m sad to say these benefits fail to resonate with most people (except fanatics like me of course).

If you ask most Microsoft resellers what SharePoint is, you’d be lucky to find some that knew and even luckier if you found some that have used it. However, if you take the email component out of Microsoft BPOS because it is simply a utility now, as I have discussed above, what is left? SharePoint. But how many resellers are comfortable selling that? Not many. So perhaps Microsoft should be promoting SharePoint more to its resellers and customers. Maybe it should be showing everyone the real benefits you can achieve with just a browser and the even greater benefits when you combine it with Microsoft Office.

Alas, it doesn’t seem to me that Microsoft appreciate this and they are too busy trying to go toe to toe with Google and that is simply dumb. For probably the first time they now face an adversary who is pretty evenly matched with them and yet probably, has the edge in online services. Microsoft have yet to implement an effective competitive strategy and in fact seem to be actually making their situation worse, if the BPOS product events I have recently attended are any indication (where they are pleading with resellers to sell Microsoft BPOS). If they are not careful the smell of fear is going to turn into a reek real soon!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Overtime slaves

If you, like most people, feel you are working too long then I’d suggest you read “Slaves to the overtime habit fail to loosen shackles”. It talks about how Australians are chaining themselves to their desks and doing over 2 billion (yes billion) hours in unpaid overtime.

So what’s the major reason for this? Most said they had too much to do (i.e. too busy) but also confessed that something else had come up (i.e. allowed themselves to get interrupted). So what does this mean? Well, according to the article these people are:

- unable to eat properly
- unable to pay bills on time
- unable to see their partner
- unable to exercise
- unable to relax
- and so on

I especially like this example:

“…he calculated he was working probably twice the hours he was paid for.’ I have no time for exercise and no time to see my friends, let alone spend time with my girlfriend. On my one day off I’m so tired I lie down all day at home….life sucks when there is no time to live it. I am a slave’”.

Sound familiar? So many people’s of identities these days is totally tied to their work. What’s the first question people will ask when they meet you at an event? ‘So what do you do?’ is the typical ice breaker, not ‘have you read any good books?’, ‘seen any good movies?’, ‘been anywhere interesting lately?’. No, they want to know what work you perform so they can better understand who you are because these days your job is the best description of who you are.

Sad isn’t it? Here is someone basically saying they feel like a slave with no freedom and no ability to enjoy life. How is that living? Basically it’s not. We were all led to believe that technology would free us from this situation whereas, as I have said many, many times here, it has simply enslaved us. Why? Because we accept the defaults. We don’t customize the systems to suit ourselves, we modify our behaviour to suit the systems. Like D’oh!

The interesting thing is that it is easily within everyone’s power to achieve the lifestyle they desire, however like an alcoholic, first you need to admit you have a problem and secondly you have to want to do something about it. Why wouldn’t you want more time to do what excited you? Why wouldn’t you want more time with your partner, kids, hobbies, etc? Seems from this article that more and more people don’t want to lead an enjoyable life? More and more people want a life chained to a desk, forced to continue on the never ending treadmill. They are no longer in control and those who are not in control are destined to be controlled by others.

If you can admit you have a problem and do want to have a ‘life’ then I suggest you have a look at some of my work on SlideShare, especially Enough Time and Power of an Hour, or the Smarter Productivity training I run. If you want to go beyond this and save at least one hour a day (which adds up to more than a working month a year) I’d suggest you get in contact with me (director@ciaops.com) so we can develop something to help free you from your current enslavement. Remember life is about doing what excites you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

SharePoint webinar

Here are the details for the next CIAOPS webinar:

 

091210 – The basics of SharePoint Administration

 

Topics covered:

 

- How to administer a SharePoint site

- How to manage SharePoint database files

- How to backup and restore SharePoint

- How to manage SharePoint securities

 

Presenter:          Robert Crane

Date:                 Thursday 10th of December 2009

Time :                10.00am (Sydney, Australia time)

Duration:            60 minutes

Cost:                 $ 9.90 ex GST for non WSSOPS subscribers.

Level:                 2 (Intermediate)

Prerequisites:      None

 

Details

 

This webinar will provide you with a good overview of how to administer a SharePoint site. It will show where all the basic administration options are as well as what function they perform. You’ll also learn about the low level SharePoint file and databases required to allow SharePoint to function correctly. The webinar will also cover the different ways that you can backup and restore SharePoint as well as manage securities.

 

Registration: To register send an email to director@ciaops.com.

 

Note: that this webinar runs for a longer period of time (60 minutes), cover a much higher level of technical understanding of SharePoint and has an entry fee (for non WSSOPS subscribers).

 

Sign up now!

Monday, November 30, 2009

SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta data location

I’ve been poking around to find out where SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta actually puts the content databases when you do a default installation. It certainly wasn’t where I expected it to be.



As you can see from the above screen shot it ends up in c:\program files\common files\microsoft shared\web server extensions\14\data\mssql10.sharepoint\mssql\data.

Now there is nothing really wrong with the location per se but it sure is a mouthful. Personally, I don’t like long data paths as it generally adds complications. Now I know that the content database location can be moved and I certainly hope that SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta includes a wizard to do this because I’d actually like to move ALL the SharePoint data (content databases, search index, configuration files, etc) into a single directory somewhere just off the root of my drive.

The reality is that I’m not really expecting to find a wizard to move all this data so I suppose I’ve just gotta get used to it. I’m I the only one that thinks doing this has made things more complicated?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Only in stand alone mode

I’ve now progressed to trying custom installations of SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta. This means that I basically want to set it up in a server farm configuration.

 

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If you install SharePoint this way you firstly need to have the database server in place. No problems because before I commenced the SharePoint installation I installed Windows SQL 2008 Express Edition intending this to be the location where SharePoint stores its content databases.

 

The installation process continues until I need to nominate where my database server is located. So I enter in the information as follows:

 

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And press the Next key, as I have done many many times with Windows SharePoint v3. Low and behold, something different happens.

 

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Because I’m running this installation on a standalone server not connected to a domain I’m prompted that

 

The specified user server2008\administrator is a local account. Local accounts should only be used in stand alone mode.

 

and I can go no further with the installation.

 

I’m not sure whether this is an issue because of SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta or Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express Edition. Whatever the case, it appears that I can create a SharePoint server farm on a stand alone server, it has to be connected to a domain. This was certainly not the case previously with Windows SharePoint Services v3 and Microsoft SQL 2005 Server.

 

So here’s the first major configuration difference I have discovered. You have been warned!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Basics of SharePoint webinar available

I have just completed the next in the CIAOPS webinar series on SharePoint. The webinar is now available in 4 parts on YouTube at:

Part 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38p_fgjHMlE

Part 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5YlDULrsEA

Part 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt6CQiEghvg

Part 4 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YSRIbrBB5U

 

If you’d prefer to download the whole presentation directly to your desktop just send me an email (director@ciaops.com) and I’ll send you the link.

 

Watch out for our next webinar on Thursday the 10th of December. Details will be posted here soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I won’t bore you further

I’m not going to continue to prattle on constantly about my failures and hopefully some successes with SharePoint 2010, but I do want to take an opportunity to illustrate the fact that the testing, like you have seen over the past few posts, all ends up in my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide.

This means, that if you are a subscriber, you are going to save plenty of time by not having to determine how to get everything working. That is my job. I do all the hard yards testing and retesting all the options. Everything that I learn about SharePoint ends up in the Guide not just SharePoint 2010 but also Windows SharePoint Services v3 (WSS), Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) and Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). It’s all there, with more being added every month.

I’m happy to announce that from December the complete Guide DVD will be available for download every month. Be warned, that means > 4.3GB of information through your Internet connection. It is also starting to look like I’ll have to expand the Guide onto a second DVD starting in the New Year. I’d challenge you to find a more comprehensive SharePoint resource (perhaps apart from Microsoft themselves) for the price. So if you are a subscriber watch out for the December update which will start to include information on SharePoint 2010.

Also, don’t forget our regular webinars. The next will be:

091126The basics of using SharePoint
Topics covered:

- How to upload and management documents.
- How to create and manage wikis
- How to work with lists.
- How to create sub sites


Presenter:              Robert Crane
Date:                      Thursday 26th of November 2009
Time :                    10.00am (Sydney, Australia time)
Duration:               30 minutes
Cost:                      Free
Level:                     1 (Basic)
Prerequisites:         None

Details
This webinar will show you the basics of using a SharePoint. It will help you understand the benefits of using SharePoint to store documents and other information. You’ll also learn the basics of extending a SharePoint to include features such as wikis and sub sites.


Registration:      To register send an email to director@ciaops.com.

Normal programming will resume shortly.

Don’t forget Search Server Express

With all the hoopla surrounding SharePoint 2010 beta you should also not forget that there is also a new beta for Search Server Express.

 

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Like the previous version, Search Server 2010 Express is a free download from Microsoft. As you can see from the above screenshot  I have just completed installing it and am now beginning to learn about what makes it tick.

 

I am still at a loss as to why more people don’t see the benefit of Search Server Express. It allows you to index just about all your documents on your file servers including all the information inside them without having to make any changes and search them from a web interface. This means no matter how messed up your existing file storage is, with Search Server Express you’ll be able to find what you’re after.

 

Just about everyone uses Google to find stuff they want outside their business yet they have NOTHING to achieve the same inside their business. Am I the only one that sees the opportunity here to provide a solution? Am I the only one that sees the opportunity to do this with a product that costs nothing to obtain? Clearly I must be, because no one else I have ever met has even heard of Search Server Express.

 

As I have said in this blog before, it is no longer about the information it is about finding the information you want quickly. Google has built a multi-billion business doing just that so why hasn’t it be done inside businesses? Beats me, but don’t say I didn’t tell you how it could be done.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Another failed attempt

After the last failure I created a new clean Windows SharePoint v3 site. I then added all the Microsoft templates that are present on my Internet facing site. I then restored the Internet facing site from a backup and commenced the upgrade to SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta again.

 

After installing the files the configuration wizard started and this time failed pretty quickly with this nasty error:

 

image_2_410AF749

 

An exception of type Microsoft. SharePoint.Upgrade.SPUpgradeException was thrown. Additional exception information: One or more types failed to load. Please refer to the upgrade log for more details.

 

Now this is interesting, because in my last attempt (with no additional templates) I got past this stage (even though it failed later).

 

Whatever the result I’m going to have to dig deep into the log and start trying to work out what the problem is. If you have never done this let me tell you it ain’t much fun.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A do not do list

Since I wrote the post of ‘Being busy is just an excuse’ I’ve come across some additional information that reinforces the premises I put forward.

I came across a something that said ‘achieving perfection is about elimination’ which resonates very strongly I believe. When a sculptor creates a work they don’t do it by adding something to what they started with, they generally chip away and remove stuff to create their work of art. The same is true about life in general I believe. You need to eliminate, simply, declutter and generally do less to achieve your goals.

I’ve also found a very interesting piece by Jim Collins who wrote the books Good to Great and Built to Last. At the beginning of the year he doesn’t make a traditional ‘to do’ list he makes a ‘not to do’ list. Novel eh? You’ll find the whole article on his web site but again it demonstrates the point of achieving the things you want by not doing the things that waste your time and are unproductive.

A similar idea comes from Carl Newport who says

Fixed-Schedule Productivity: How I Accomplish a Large Amount of Work in a Small Number of Work Hours


The basic idea being that you set your ideal work schedule and then MAKE everything fit into that. The above blog post from Carl is a highly recommended read for people who claim they are ‘too busy’ to achieve things as there are also plenty of other helpful tips in there.

So if you are too busy you have no one to blame but yourself. The good news is that you can makes the changes requires to actually achieve so much more by actually doing less. The proof is in the pudding as these articles demonstrate. I’d urge you to at least give it a try and whether you can make it work for you.

SharePoint 2010 beta in place migration

The next test on the list to conduct with SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta is an in place upgrade. In this case what I did was create a new Windows SharePoint Services v3 machine and use the STSADM command to import my existing internet facing SharePoint site http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au.

 

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I then commenced the installation of SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta.

 

In due course it found an existing site and provided the option to upgrade as expected

 

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At the end of the configuration it commenced the site upgrade.

 

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Which you could view from the browser.

 

image_8_5BA3DF68

 

Unfortunately, after a while the upgrade process failed.

 

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The good thing this time was the original site was still working.

 

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Looking at the error log that was produced (with 233 errors), most seem to be about missing components (i.e. templates, add-ons etc), so I get the feeling it would have probably worked if I had done the migration on the original box where all the other add ons are installed. Problem is, that box isn’t 64 bit so a migration to a new 64 bit base machine is going to be necessary. Clearly, that is going to make any migration process that much longer and more challenging in that you have to get all the extra little ‘tweaks’, you added across onto the new machine before you attempt an upgrade. That could certainly take some time and test your memory!

 

So, it’s back the lab once again.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Flaming wreck

Buster the SharePoint 2010 beta crash test dummy is back again with some good and bad news. First, the good news is that the recent light bulb moment from last time allowed the successful install of SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta on SBS 2008.

 

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The bad news is that the upgrade process after this failed.

 

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Digging through the log file produces the following error:

 

[psconfigui] [WyukonToSqlExpress] [ERROR] [11/21/2009 7:10:00 AM]: An error occured while trying to grant the user
NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE access to the SharePoint_AdminContent_d4e397f2-a27a-48a0-a628-d25db6672bab database
on the SQL server, CIASVR01\SharePoint.  This may be expected if the caller does not have permission to perform
this operation in sql server or if the database is read-only.  To ensure that SharePoint functions correctly,
manually grant this user access to the database before performing this operation.  The user must also be granted
access to the db_owner group in the database.  The following information was provided with this error:
System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException: Cannot open database "SharePoint_AdminContent_d4e397f2-a27a-48a0-a628-d25db6672bab"
requested by the login. The login failed.
Login failed for user 'SBS2008\robert'

 

Which unfortunately results in http://companyweb ceasing to work.

 

image_6_3785D9EC

 

Blast. So close. Seems like an error that can be over come with a little bit of tweaking on the permissions so we’re now off to try that.

 

Message from the labs is currently still – DON’T install SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta on SBS 2008!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Light bulb moment

It’s Buster the SharePoint crash test dummy back with you again for the next enthralling episode of Installing SharePoint 2010 beta.

 

In this episode we’ll attempt an install of SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta onto a Windows Server 2008 Standard machine to get a bit of a base line.

 

Once we have a Windows Server 2008 Standard machine we install Windows 2008 Service Pack 2 and complete all the Windows Updates. We then commence the installation of SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta.

 

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Unfortunately, we don’t get very far before the following message appears telling us we need to install KB971831 and Microsoft Geneva Framework. The KB is easy enough to install via:

 

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=160770

 

But the Microsoft Geneva Framework proved a little more difficult. I eventually found a version here:

 

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=118c3588-9070-426a-b655-6cec0a92c10b&displaylang=en - Beta 2 of Active Directory Federation Services 2.0, Windows Identity Foundation & Windows CardSpace 2.0

 

But don’t install it until you’ve ready the WHOLE blog post!

 

With those two pieces of software installed the reinstallation process if recommenced.

 

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Everything is going well and I select the Standalone installation. The files get installed but when I run the configuration wizard I get the following:

 

image_6_22D6B5D9

 

An exception of type System.IO.FileNotFoundException was thrown. Additional exception information: Could not load file or assembly 'Microsoft.IdentityModel, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35' or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.

Damm. After a bit of Googling turns out the issue may be with the version of Microsoft Geneva Framework that was installed as mentioned here. So now the current version of Microsoft Geneva Framework is uninstalled and the following new version of Microsoft Geneva Framework is installed:

 

http://download.microsoft.com/download/F/3/D/F3D66A7E-C974-4A60-B7A5-382A61EB7BC6/MicrosoftGenevaFramework.amd64.msi 

 

The configuration wizard is run again and viola,

 

image_8_50C40891

 

So where’s the light bulb moment you are probably asking? This error I got installing on this standalone Windows Server 2008 looks almost identical to the error I got when attempting an installation on SBS 2008! So now I’m off to put those two updates on my SBS 2008 box and THEN try another installation of SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta on SBS 2008. Wish me luck.