Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hypothetically speaking

If you aren’t aware, probably the biggest hosting company in Australia, WebCentral, is still having a major email outage (been over 30 fours for some people now). Now I don’t want to speculate why this has happened or how people need to understand that email is not a guaranteed method of delivery. What I do want to focus on is a business opportunity for a smart operator.

 

If you visit the Whirlpool forums you find this outage is costing people real money. Here’s but a few examples:

 

i'm the poor IT admin for my company who uses webcentral for over 5 years now, my CEO is sending me txt every hr to check whether it's back online, i'm still working on an instant backup plan now, tried to forward them to my other host, but looks like the webcentral email forwarding isn't working as well, can someone help pls....!!

 

We are talking about several hotels who's main booking engines had relied on WC for over 3 years. There is a significant loss of business from unconfirmed bookings. One stats showing 52% occupancy from the daily average of 80%+.. in dollars thats about aprox $9,000+/day per hotel. What a nightmare. The pointing began at us then we pin pointed at WC. We are red faced for ever suggesting WC. So much for the 99.5% server uptime guarantee claim.

Now, I spoke about how to use http://search.twitter.com in a recent post as a method of monitoring, in almost real time, what is happening with customers. Now let’s say, hypothetically speaking of course, you have a competing business. What would stop you also monitoring the same Twitter feed and then approaching each affected customer with an offer to change over to your business? Chances are pretty good that if can offer a solution a lot of people are going to jump ship right now since they are currently experiencing real pain and loss. With something like Twitter you can do just that!

 

If you step back and have a think about that and apply it to other areas then Twitter may be a great way to leverage some opportunities for very little cost. So while some may look at Twitter as a total waste of time, it is far more intelligent to learn how it can be added to your marketing toolkit to bring in more business. A good craftsperson knows it is not about the tool, it is how that tool is used. In this circumstance, I can really see how Twitter can be very effective if used correctly.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Separate SP2 downloads

The SharePoint SP2 might be available as a single download but if you are using the following you will also need these separate SP2 downloads:

 

SharePoint Designer – Download SP2

 

Microsoft Search Server Express – Download Office Servers SP2

 

As the last link says:

 

Install SP2 for Other Office Products
If you have other Office products installed, please be sure to update them as well.

 

Seems everything works better when they all have the same updates installed. Strange that! Happy updating.

 

All of these updates will be sent to Windows SharePoint Operations Guide subscribers as part of their May 2009 DVD update.

SharePoint SP2 is here

Microsoft has now made available Service Pack 2 for Windows SharePoint.

 

Description of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SP2

 

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Service Pack 2 (x86)

 

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Service Pack 2 (x64)

 

Since these have only just become available I am yet to fully test them. I do also note that you can also download the complete installation of SharePoint v3 including Service Pack 2:

 

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 x64 with Service Pack 2

 

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 with Service Pack 2

 

Windows SharePoint Operations Guide subscribers will finds these updates automatically on the upcoming May 2009 DVD release that is part of their regular update.

 

You will find that Office 2007 SP2 is also available.

 

Microsoft Office 2007 SP2

Human digitizer

When you do a lot of research like I do on the Internet sooner or later you end up at Google Books. The idea is that Google wants to digitize every book ever printed and place it on the Internet so it can be searchable. Now this has lead to some controversy around copyright but generally seems to be proceeding.

The question is how can you actually go about digitizing every book. You have to scan in every  page and then convert that page to text so it can be searched. As anyone who has ever used a scanner (or a fax for that matter) knows scanning something into a computer can sometimes mean illegible results. Generally, the only way to overcome this is for a real live human being to decide what the scanned text actually says. That could take years I hear you say, ah ha but you didn’t figure on the power of the Internet did you?

A huge issue on the Internet are programs (known as bots) that scan through web sites looking for emails. The bots report these emails back to spammers who add them to their list so they can send you more junk. Bots can also be used to automate the creation of web based emails and reply to forms – ah what a pain! To overcome this many sites use something called Captcha. This means that prior to any confirmation you are presented with some text that is difficult for a machine to recognize but hopefully not for a human. In this way the web page knows that the entry most probably came from a real human (assuming it was entered in correctly).

So what has bots got to do with Google Books and text recognition? You can imagine that there are many pieces of scanned text from books that needs to be viewed by a human being to determine what they are. So now it’s time for the Internet and Captcha to come to the rescue.


As you can see, a site I recently visited needed to verify I was a real person so it threw up this Captcha. However, note that down the bottom it says the words come from scanned books. So by typing in the text you are help to digitize scanned books.

So how does the Captcha know the correct word when the scanned word can’t be read you may ask? On the reCaptcha site you’ll find the answer:

But if a computer can't read such a CAPTCHA, how does the system know the correct answer to the puzzle? Here's how: Each new word that cannot be read correctly by OCR is given to a user in conjunction with another word for which the answer is already known. The user is then asked to read both words. If they solve the one for which the answer is known, the system assumes their answer is correct for the new one. The system then gives the new image to a number of other people to determine, with higher confidence, whether the original answer was correct.

If you a more in depth explanation then check out the reCaptcha site where you’ll the answers in much more detail.

A good example of how the power of the Internet is being put to good use. Pretty clever eh?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All about attention

Just been reading a nice article,”Taking control of e-mail”, that provides a good summary of the issues around information overload. What I liked was the following quote:

 

“Attention is the bedrock to learning, memory, social connection and happiness”

 

So if you are allowing yourself to be constantly distracted by incoming emails then your attention is very low and chances are it is affecting more than just your productivity.

 

The article covers some of the basic steps to help remove the distractions of email and is therefore well worth a read. I’d also recommend you take a look at www.doemailless.com where you find additional resources if you are looking to improve your productivity.

 

At the very least I’d commend you to try some of the steps mentioned in the article and see whether it does help. I’m confident that after a few day you’d agree that even a small change can reap significant benefits.

When Twitter helps

Ok, so most people believe Twitter is a total waste of time, well here’s an example to the contrary. At the moment Australia’s largest ISP, WebCentral, is having a major outage affecting hosting, emails, databases, etc. Their phone lines are flooded, they have failed to update the issue statues on their web site in a timely manner so where can you turn for information? Twitter of course.

The bets place to start is http://search.twitter.com and type in webcentral to search for. Here’s the current results:



There are a whole swag of postings from people who have been affected so you know that it isn’t just you. I can also see from the results that 36 minutes ago someone actually managed to logon to their email, so maybe the problem’s fixed? In short, you get a better idea of what’s going on from a group of affected users rather than trying to ring Webcentral. Even better you can subscribe to this search in your RSS reader so you can keep tabs on the situation without having to constantly run a search. Now that’s gotta save time!

Whether it is or whether it isn’t I think that the above situation can give you a good example of where Twitter can be used beneficially.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

One of the few?

Just read “Self-employed go back to the boss” in the paper today and found some of the issues highlighted interesting. Here are some choice quotes:

 

“For seven years, he battled to keep his … afloat. It was an around-the-clock effort.”

“He was struggling to make ends meet, to find reliable workers, and to strike any sort of work-life balance.”

"I'd been trying to do everything myself.”

“said he would never again try to set up his own business.”

“He was turned off by "having to chase work, being able to deliver quality work but having people call you up and say 'I've got a quote from some cowboy across the road for half that price -- how come?"”

 

Sound familiar? If it does you’d be interested to know that the guy in the article ran a windscreen business but I have heard almost exactly the same quotes from people in IT. In good times it is certainly much easier to run a business but when things turn tough then you’ll soon find out whether you are running a business or simply enjoying a lifestyle.

 

When I talk to people and say that I work in my own business they automatically assume you make oodles of money (which you don’t) and you don’t do much work (which isn’t right either). It is only those who have run their own business that understand that it comes down to hard work. However, you gotta enjoy working hard or else being in business for yourself just doesn’t make sense.

 

Most people who run a business probably never should. They simply believe that because they are good at something that will automatically translate into self-employment. Generally this is far from the truth since running a business is about so much more that just being good at one thing. You usually have to do EVERYTHING even if you don’t like doing it, which unless you are disciplined will mean you are going to struggle like the person in the article.

 

My advice would be to start by reading something like the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. This book is a MUST READ for anyone who is self–employed. Next, I would suggest that you start looking for people with whom you can talk and discuss ideas, including issues you are struggling with on a regular basis. To be a success in business you need to build a network of people whom you can turn to for advice, work or simply to lend an ear. Finally, you need to run your business like a business and not simply as a hobby because in the end, if you want to make a living from it your business will have compete with every other business out there.

 

These are just the first steps you need to take if you want to run a successful business in my experience. Failing to do so is not going to guarantee you’ll fail but is going to make it much harder than it could be. So seek out information from successful business owners and thinkers. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice because you’ll be surprised at how many are willing to help.

 

Only the businesses who are working on their business rather than in their business these days are generally going to come out the other side of these recessionary times. Ask yourself if you really want to run a business and if the answer is yes, then run it like a business!

Microsoft Online Services

I’m beginning to get up to speed what will be offered via Microsoft Online Services here in Australia.

 

Microsoft has created a site www.discoveronlineservices.com which has a huge amount of information and resources about the offerings. If you are a Microsoft partner and you are considering offering online services then you should take a look. Even if you aren’t then I still recommend you take a look to understand the huge investment that Microsoft is making in this area.

 

Microsoft Online Services will be offered here through Telstra (Why? Not a good idea I reckon but that’s the way it is) and you can find more information of this via the Telstra T-Suite site. Interestingly, I can’t find any links to actual pricing here (early days perhaps?) Given that T-Suite has been around for a while you will find the pricing elsewhere in the T-Suite store site.

 

Microsoft Online Services is still in its infancy here but can only be expected to grow once the dual marketing monoliths of Telstra and Microsoft get going. A recent webinar I attended certainly indicated that Microsoft expected the greatest uptake of the service to be in the 5-50 user seat arena, in other words prime SBS territory. We are also starting to see documents like “Integrating Windows Small Business Server 2008 with Exchange Online”, which confirm the push for online services in the SMB space.

 

As I have said before (almost 12 months ago now), SBS 2008, I believe, will be the very last version of Small Business Server. Why? I simply believe that online services in some shape or form is going to gobble up the SMB market and the primary reason doesn’t have anything to do with technology or security. In fact it is all about price. Mainly around the ability to pay per month, per user.

 

Like it or lump it online services are going to have an impact on the SMB market and I reckon now is the time to get in early and be ahead of the pack.

ANZAC Day

Over 90 years ago a group of Australian and New Zealand soldiers went to war as a nation for the very first time. They went up against another group of determined soldiers now forced to defend their country from the invaders at Gallipoli.

 

The tenacity of both sides resulted in 9 months of stalemate eventually seeing the ANZACs withdrawn and sent to northern France. Here they again distinguished themselves but at a horrific cost along with other unfortunates caught in the mincing machine that became known as the Great War. So scared by the experience, those that returned home refused to speak about the horrors they had witnessed and the mates they had lost.

 

The 25th of April is the one day of the year when we as Australian’s are asked to pause and remember the sacrifice that all members of our armed forces have made in executing the duties asked of them. We remember all those who have never returned along with those currently serving in locations all over the world. Their sacrifice and sense of duty provide no greater example of what it means to serve your country.

 

Let us never forget those who have been prepared to put themselves in harm’s way at our request. Let us never forget those who died in places far from their homes. Let us not forget those who continue to follow in the footsteps of the first ANZACS serving us today. We can never appreciate, understand or fathom the sacrifice but we can remember them, and on the 25th of April we shall remember them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Coming in May

May is a big month for my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide, simply because it is now 12 months old! I’m amazed at how its grown and how many people have subscribed. So, I’m planning a number of things:

 

For existing subscribers

 

- There will the normal May update which will include additional sections on prep’ing a Windows 2008 Server for SharePoint, embedding an updating Microsoft Excel chart into SharePoint as well some additional troubleshooting tips.

- There will be an updated DVD containing a whole swag of additional videos, documents and programs including 64 bit editions of the installation files and SharePoint Designer.

- I’ll also be throwing in a few thank you surprises for subscribers only, but I don’t want to give away the surprises just yet!

- and more

 

For non-subscribers

 

- I’m going to be offering a never to be repeated special on the Guide in celebration of how far it’s come. This offer will only be available for May 2009 and after that it’ll be gone for good. So if you were umming and arring about whether to subscribe can I say that next month is going to be your best opportunity.

- As part of the special offer I’ll be offering the second chapter of my Guide FREE to those who register and only those that have registered will be eligible for the May special offer.

 

I’ll announce more details for both subscribers and non subscribers in May so stay tuned.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

OneNote - redux

I’ve had instance to talk to a few people recently about some productivity and collaboration solutions, obviously based around SharePoint. One thing I always try and mention is OneNote and sadly, I find that most people have consigned it to the “seen it once, never used it” bin which is really unfortunate.

I will readily admit that for a long time I too considered OneNote in a similar way. That was until I attended a session given by Todd Colbeck at SMBNation 2008. Todd was able to readily demonstrate how effective and powerful OneNote can be. He also demonstrated what a great solution it was on which to build some revenue. This was probably the biggest eye opener of the conference and I went away with the goal to do more with OneNote.

Now days, I find OneNote an indispensible tool to the way that I do business. Because OneNote appears so simple to use many people get fooled into believing that it somehow just a “optional extra” for Microsoft Office.

So what can you use OneNote for? Well I find it is great for all that ad-hoc material you always have floating around that never really seems to want to live anywhere. Personally, I use a simply paper notebook to keep track of things (in the good GTD way), because it is the fastest and most convenient method of documentation. However, I regularly transfer information from this notebook into OneNote so I have an electronic copy. No matter what the information is I can always create new sections and pages within OneNote to store it.

When you start looking around you’ll actually find many of the existing applications on your computer are already OneNote enabled. Both Internet Explorer (above left) and Outlook (above right) are just two examples. If you find something interesting on a web page simply highlight it and click the Send to OneNote button. The same applies with emails and Outlook.

The power of OneNote becomes more obvious when you share notebooks via a network or SharePoint. This means that whenever you open a shared OneNote notebook all the information is sync’ed with your local copy. When you are working online anything you enter is also automatically updated for everyone else sharing the notebook to see. When you are ready you can disconnect and still retain a local copy of the notebook which you can continue to work with and then sync again next time you connect.

Even better, if you have SharePoint available via the Internet then your OneNote notebooks become available anywhere you have Internet access. You could, for example, create a notebook for each client and share that directly with the client. I find this solution great when designing SharePoint sites for a client because they can add information as well as keep up to date with the design progress. It is an excellent collaboration tool that once customers actually start to utilize appreciate its power and actually start rolling it out throughout their business.

OneNote has so many features including full search, tagging, freehand annotations and so on. Even better, if it is not already on your desktop via Microsoft Office then it is very cheap to purchase (a free 60 day trial is available). If you haven’t looked at OneNote in a while I recommend you take a look and I’m sure you’ll find how valuable it can be. Even better, consider combining it with an online SharePoint solution for true collaboration.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mobile SharePoint

One of the great new features of SharePoint is that it has support for mobile devices built right in. You don’t need to do any special configuration.

 

So here’s what you see when you visit this blog with a web browser using the URL http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog.

 

image_2_215E3007

 

However, if you are using a mobile device to access the information you probably want something more stripped down to reduce the download time. If you do, then simply add /m to end of any SharePoint site. So, in the case of my blog go to http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog/m and you’ll see:

 

image_4_4F4B82BF

 

which is a listing of the recent entries and if you click on one you’ll see:

 

image_6_4F4B82BF

 

You’ll get the same information but you’ll get in a “leaner” form, which is perfect for mobile devices.

 

As I said in the beginning the mobile accessibility is automatically configured with SharePoint right out of the box, nothing more to do. Also, don’t forget that all this functionality comes with a product that is free for you to download and is already included with SBS 2008. How could you ask for any more?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New video

I have created another quick video based on the blog post I did about configuring Usage Analysis processing on Windows SharePoint.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l52vEpldE_s

The only difference in the video is that I spend a little time towards the end showing what the results are from the Usage processing and what the reports actually look like.

 

As always send me any feedback or suggestions (director@ciaops.com).

Monday, April 13, 2009

SharePoint Usage Analysis

Hands up if you knew that Windows SharePoint includes a basic Usage Report similar in some ways to Google Analytics? Now the tough question – who also knows how to enable it (since it isn’t by default). If you answered No to either question, then this post is for you.

 

The first step is to check whether Usage Analysis is enabled on your Windows SharePoint site. It isn’t on SBS2008 Companyweb so I’ll use that as my example. Log into the SharePoint as an administrator and select Site Actions in the top right of the screen. You’ll only see Site Actions if you have the appropriate rights.

 

image_2_01F4084F

 

From the menu that appears select Site Settings.

 

image_4_2FE15B07

 

In Site Settings select Site usage report in the Site Administration section.

 

image_6_2FE15B07

 

If you see a screen like show here chances are the usage analysis has not been enabled. Next step is now to enable it.

 

image_8_2FE15B07

 

Run the SharePoint Central Administration from the server console via Start | Administrative Tools | SharePoint 3.0 Central Administration.

 

image_10_2FE15B07

 

Select the Operations tab, then click Usage analysis processing under the Logging and Reporting section (at the bottom left).

 

image_12_2FE15B07

 

Click to Enable logging and usage analysis processing. You will also need to choose time when usage processing will run. Usage processing can be intensive so select a time of low load on your server. Click OK when complete.

 

image_14_5DCEADBF

 

You will not be able to view any logs until the scheduled processing runs. After that you should see something like that shown above when you return to Site Usage Report. Here you can select to view a number reports of you site’s access. This can be extremely handy when you need to get a feel for the usage of your site.

 

For further information about configuring Windows SharePoint to take advantage of all the product has to offer please visit www.wssops.com for information about the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Determining TCP activity

There a few ways that you can determine the TCP/IP activity on your system.

1. Netstat
 
Simply go to a command prompt and type netstat –an and you should see something like that shown above. You can see the protocol, local_ip_address:port, foreign_ip_address:port and the state.

This really only tells you the basics of which ports are connected to what IP addresses but it doesn’t actually tell you what programs are using those ports.

2. Fport


Fport is a free program that can be downloaded from :

http://www.foundstone.com/us/resources/termsofuse.asp?file=fport.zip

and when run in the command window will not only show the TCP ports but it will also show which program on your system is using that port, as shown above. For example we can see that iTunesHelper.exe is using port 1029 TCP is is process 3548.

Fport therefore provides a lot more information but it isn’t updated constantly and you need to run it in a command prompt.

3. Prio


 Amoungst other things Prio can do what both netstat and fport do but do it as part of your task manager. You’ll find the free download Prio at:

http://www.prnwatch.com/prio.html

Once installed Prio will provide you with an additional tab in your task manager (accessed via Ctl-Alt-Del) called TCP/IP as shown above. In there you’ll see an up to date list of all the TCP connections and the programs using these ports.

So all 3 tools provide you with the ability to inspect what TCP/IP connections are taking place on your system. This can be of significant assistance when tracking down rogue applications accessing the Internet without your knowledge.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New video

Just to make it easy I thought I’d turn my last post into a quick video.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE9BnEdVKbg

 

As with the previous post it will show you how to configure a PDF icon in your SharePoint sites quickly and easily.

PDF icon in SharePoint

Now that you finally have Windows SharePoint up and running on SBS 2003 or SBS 2008 via (companyweb) you start uploading documents. When you upload Microsoft Office Documents like Word and Excel you see a nice icon next to the document, however when you upload an Acrobat document (PDF) you don’t.

 

image_2_548C42BE

 

As you can see from the above screen shot there are 3 files in document library. The bottom two being Excel and Word files automatically have a little icon to the left denoting the type of file, however the first file is actually a PDF and as you can see there is no distinguishing icon.

 

Unfortunately by default SharePoint doesn’t include a PDF icon, however with a little bit of configuration you can add it. Here’s how:

 

Firstly, you’ll need to download a suitable PDF icon to use. A good one can be found at:

 

http://www.adobe.com/images/pdficon_small.gif

 

and looks like:

 

 

Download the file and save it into the directory c:\program files\common files\Microsoft shared\web server extensions\12\template\images on the SharePoint server.

 

Next locate the file c:\program files\common files\Microsoft shared\web server extensions\12\template\xml\docicon.xml on the SharePoint server. Right mouse click on the file and select edit.

 

image_6_548C42BE


Locate the <ByExtension> element where you will see entries for each icon starting with <Mapping key=”…. Enter the following on a new line:

 

<Mapping key=”pdf” Value=”pdficon_small.gif” OpenControl=””/>

The name of the file must match the name of the PDF icon you downloaded. Note that the extension names in the docicon.xml file do not have to be in alphabetical order so it is best to place the entry at the end of the existing list.

 

When complete, save the file and exit the editor.

 

Go to the DOS prompt on the SharePoint server via Start | Run | Cmd and type iisreset to restart IIS.

 

If you now refresh the page you should find the PDF icon displayed like so:

 

image_8_02799577 

Just because you have now have a PDF icon doesn’t mean that your PDF documents will be indexed by SharePoint (which is possible). That also needs to be configured, but that’ll be the subject of a future post.

 

This information can also be found in my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide along with exactly how to configure PDF search. Not only that the Guide has a vast array of information about not only installing and configuring SharePoint but also how to get some of the best add-ons for SharePoint up and running to provide your installation with additional value and functionality.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Traffic on Twitter

Here’s something that I think is of benefit on Twitter – road traffic reports. Someone has taken the reports from the local government web site (in Sydney’s case the RTA) and automatically posted them to the Twitter account sydneytraffic.



I had a poke around and there seems to be plenty of other traffic reports from places all over the world on Twitter.

Now when you are out and about traffic information like this, regularly updated, could be very handy. It would be a little hard to read on a PDA as you are driving along but none the less I think this is a great demonstration of where Twitter information does have benefits.

Interestingly, this sydneytraffic account is put together by someone not affiliated with the local authorities. I hope they at least take notice of things like this that could be of real benefit to people on the go.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Challenge the norm

One of the best ways to improve your productivity is to do email less. Yes, that’s right do email less. This means setting aside dedicated times to check and respond to email. Now many people would say that is totally impossible for them to do but my response is, have you actually challenged that way of thinking? Have you actually tried rather than just saying you can’t?

 

Here’s a great video (4 mins) from Tim Ferris the author of the Four Hour Work Week on how he manages email.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDhfaIbstIY&rel=0&border=1&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1

You’ll notice in there he actually briefly mentions this topic of challenging the norm when it comes to email. Interestingly, the person Tim speaks of who did this found that their boss actually commended them on improving their productivity and recommended the idea to other managers.

 

At the end of the day email is a tool, it shouldn’t rule your life. As Tim says, if you have a system that isn’t working you need to try something to improve it. In short, I encourage you to challenge the norm with email. Try looking at you inbox less and see how much more work you get done. All I ask is you give it a try.

 

For more help with improved technology productivity please see www.doemailless.com.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another dud

Well April 1 has come and gone and the Conflicker worm didn’t destroy humanity. As “Worm chaos fails to strike” noted:

 

“there was no evidence it was doing anything other than modifying itself to be harder to exterminate.”

 

Like, duh! Why would it do anything else? As I noted in previous posts (here and here), the media does nothing to help the cause of IT security by using inflammatory articles. Why? Because they get ‘average’ users all apprehensive as to what will happen to their machines and then when nothing does (in this case again), users believe that it is all simply a case of ‘crying wolf’ and don’t change their online behaviour. This means their systems continue to remain unpatched and unsecured making it easier again for the bad guys.

 

There seems little doubt that the Conflicker worm is real and that it has many systems in its grasp but in the end it is all about money not about some sort of security statement or proof of concept attack.

 

The disjoint between informed IT security and the ‘average’ user simply grows when incidents like this occur. The lack of understanding and drive for sensationalism by the media simply makes the situation worse. In the end the only solution I can see is to force people to update their systems. You’re not allowed on the road with an unsafe car are you? Why are you allowed on the Information Superhighway with an unsafe PC? In the end regulation is the only way we can overcome this issue as I see it.

 

Till then, the bad guys just keep kicking goals.

SharePoint Designer is now FREE!

It just keeps getting better for SharePoint users doesn’t it? Microsoft has just announced that the tool that allows you to customize SharePoint sites, SharePoint Designer, is now FREELY available! Yes, I did say free and Microsoft in the same sentence.



This is big news as it means probably the three best tool for improved productivity in a business, Windows SharePoint, Search Server Express and SharePoint designer are now all FREE to download and use. Combine this with the new Windows Foundation server that has just been announced (and assuming it will run SharePoint) you can now drop a high quality Intranet solution into a business for very little money.

If you want to see the video of the announcement about SharePoint designer click - http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=901f0335-63da-4e9c-bfbe-4ed22a92d276#filelist

To actually download SharePoint Designer to start modifying your SharePoint site click - http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=baa3ad86-bfc1-4bd4-9812-d9e710d44f42&hash=gw61uO9NAwuBCXKIqV1LhuYD9Omkv5eLYQkFoqVFMUp9BZFnh8BuAaLkZa3gI1ndEgvoXQhF9vcR7Oy0%2fSJPLg%3d%3d#filelist

and the Homepage for SharePoint designer is here - http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointdesigner/FX100487631033.aspx

All Windows SharePoint Operations Guide subscribers will receive this free version of SharePoint Designer in the May DVD release.

I’m excited!

Web Edition

I’ve been doing some investigating into some questions I’ve had for a while around Windows Server 2008 Web Edition. Web Edition is a basic version of Windows Server that is really only designed to run web sites. It won’t allow the installation of high end database applications and also has certain memory restriction. The good thing is that it is cheaper than Windows Server Standard given it is designed for a single purpose.

 

I have always wondered -

 

Q1. Will Windows SharePoint Services run on Windows Server 2008 Web Edition?

 

A. Yes it can.

 

Q2. Will Search Server Express 2008 also run on Windows Server 2008 Web Edition?

 

A. Yes it can.

 

Don’t believe me? Here’s a screen shot of my test machine.

 

image_2_0EB8B652


The top windows shows Search Server, the middle window shows Windows SharePoint and the lower window shows the system is running on Windows Server web.

 

My preference is normally to run Windows SharePoint and Search Server Express on a separate machine for performance and reliability reasons. That would always require an additional Windows Server license (typically Windows Server Standard). Even though both Windows SharePoint and Search Server Express are free it makes doing things this way pricey. However, now that I know you can use the Windows Server 2008 Web Edition it significantly reduces this price, making it a very viable option in my opinion.

 

So what you could provide is a stand alone server running Windows Server 2008 Web Edition, Windows SharePoint and Search Server Express. Not only does that give you a great intranet solution but it also provides a search solution for all the documents and public folders in your network. If you then install this configuration on a virtual machine (i.e. no hardware cost) all you are up for is the cost of Windows Server 2008 Web Edition. That’s a a lot of functionality for very little cost.

 

So, if you are thinking about a stand alone SharePoint / Search Server Express server you can definitely achieve that using Windows Server 2008 Web Edition.

Default location

For those who are not aware, when you install Windows SharePoint Services v3 onto a machine and you use the Basic install

 

image_4_34E93C60

 

SharePoint will also install Microsoft SQL Server Embedded Edition (SSEE) onto your system and do so into the C: Drive! By default the location is C:\windows\sysmsi\ssee\msql.2005\mssql\data as shown below.

 

image_6_32AFF0FD

 

This means that SharePoint data and indexes (including search data) will reside on your C: drive. Thus, as the amount of SharePoint data grows the free space on you C: drive will shrink. Normally the C: is also the boot partition that holds the Windows boot files. If that drive starts to get full it will generally make your system unstable.

 

Unfortunately, if you use the basic install there is no way to avoid this. The best option then is to move the SharePoint databases straight after installation to a data drive. You can do this using the SQL management tools which are available via the command line (messy) or via a free downloadable GUI tool from Microsoft. You simply need to detach the databases using the SQL tools, move the files (both MDF and LDF) to another location and then reattach using the SQL tools again.

 

image_2_09F787B8

 

SBS2008 has exactly the same issue as, by default, the SharePoint databases live on the C: drive. The great thing about SBS 2008 is that it has a built in wizard that will move the databases (detach, move, re-attach) for you automatically. The recommendation is to always move these data files immediately after installation as SharePoint databases can grow very large, very quickly.

 

SQL database management is something that I cover extensively in my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide. So, if you have SharePoint installed on a system and the C: drive is running low on space check C:\windows\sysmsi\ssee\msql.2005\mssql\data to see whether the databases are filling the disk. If so then you should shift them elsewhere as they are only going to continue to grow.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

SharePoint Guide – April

The latest update of the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide has been released for subscribers. One of the major additions this month, is a new chapter titled - tutorials. In here you’ll find out how to do things to improve your use of SharePoint. The first three tutorials are:

 

- Connecting to Outlook - How to link SharePoint with Outlook

- Creating linked fields - How to utilize look up fields in SharePoint

- Configuring a basic workflow - Implementing a basic workflow

 

Over time this chapter will continue to grow with step by step instructions about how you can get the most from Windows SharePoint.

 

I’m also excited to announce that next month (May) will be the first birthday of the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide (who would have ever thought?). I’m planning some special offers to attract new subscribers plus a swag of additions as a thank you to existing subscribers, so stay tuned for more details. As always, I thank my subscribers for their ongoing support of the Guide, without them it would not be possible and remind them to go to the download site for the latest updates which are now available.

 

If you have any questions about the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide or suggestions for inclusions please contact me (director@ciaops.com).