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.

 

image_4_0E2E0184

 

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:

 

image_6_0E2E0184

 

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

 

image_8_0E2E0184

 

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.

 

image_2_1A44EA3A

 

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.

 

image_2_2DB68CB0

 

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

 

image_4_5BA3DF68

 

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

 

image_6_5BA3DF68

 

Which you could view from the browser.

 

image_8_5BA3DF68

 

Unfortunately, after a while the upgrade process failed.

 

image_10_46B25CF5

 

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

 

image_12_46B25CF5

 

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.

 

image_2_3785D9EC

 

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

 

image_4_3785D9EC

 

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.

 

image_2_22D6B5D9

 

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.

 

image_4_22D6B5D9

 

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.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta on SBS 2008

It’s Buster the SharePoint crash test dummy back again with more early experiences of SharePoint 2010 beta. In our last episode you’ll remember that I tried to install SharePoint Server 2010 beta onto SBS 2008 with the results being a fiery wreck. I’m sorry to say that it is much the same story if you try and install SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta on SBS 2008.

 

When you do install SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta on SBS 2008 it at least recognizes that a previous version of SharePoint exists and gives you the option to upgrade.

 

image_2_242AED87

 

Problem is, that is the ONLY option you get to choose. After merrily clicking away and waiting for the installation to complete you get a screen displayed like so:

 

image_4_5218403F

 

So the end result is that it doesn’t install. I’m a little annoyed that I have to pick through the flaming pieces to find the location of the setup log. Why couldn’t there simply be a link here? Maybe in the full version.

 

The good thing, from I can see, is that even after this failed upgrade process http://companyweb and the SharePoint Administration site all appear to be working ok. Thank goodness. So even though the upgrade of the existing SharePoint v3 failed, the upgrade process doesn’t destroy the existing SharePoint installation unlike what happens when you attempt an install of Search Server Express on SBS 2008.

 

Now, just because it didn’t work the first time doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work with some ‘tweaking’. Let me get back into the lab and see what I can work out. However, in the meantime I’d recommend you DON’T install SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta on SBS 2008.

SharePoint crash test dummy

If you don’t already know, Microsoft have released the beta of Office 2010, which you can download and test out for yourself. As expected they have also released SharePoint 2010 beta.

 

image_2_1A73BDD4

 

As you can see from the above you only have two options, both of which are SharePoint Server (i.e. the old MOSS) and not SharePoint Foundation (i.e the old WSS). Ah ha, as it turns out the beta of SharePoint Foundation 2010 is also available for download, you just gotta know where to look!

 

Now, fans of the show Mythbusters know about Buster the crash test dummy they subject to all kinds of cruel and inhuman tests in the name of science. If you don’t then you are a poorer person for it. In honour of Buster I have decided to volunteer myself as a SharePoint crash test dummy so you can see what happens when you install SharePoint in different scenarios. Are you ready? Here we go. One, two, three…

 

I downloaded SharePoint Server 2010 Beta (Enterprise CAL features) first and decided to throw it onto SBS 2008 initially. Now boys and girls don’t attempt this at home as I am a trained SharePoint Professional with far too much time on his hands. And in all seriousness, please don’t install beta enterprise software on a production server. Please!

 

The end result?

 

image_4_1A73BDD4

 

A flaming wreck that kinda looks like what happens when you try and install Search Server Express 2008 on SBS 2008. The files get copied but the configuration wizard bombs. So now you know. SharePoint Server 2010 beta doesn’t install on SBS 2008 by default. NEEEEEEXT.

 

Now I wonder what happens if you instead use the SharePoint Foundation 2010 beta on SBS 2008? More details of what’s sure to be another flaming wreck on SBS 2008 soon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SharePoint webinar

Here’s the information on the next SharePoint webinar from the CIAOPS:

 

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.

 

Sign up now!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vehicles and drivers


The aim of most car manufacturers is to win a Formula One motor racing championship. Now, there is no way they can achieve this without a vehicle (let’s just consider the rest of the team part of the vehicle for the time being) and a driver. Both items are vital to achieve this aim.

If either of these components don’t work or don’t work well together then there is little chance of winning the championship. You can have a great driver and lose because of a lousy car and likewise, a fabulous car and a lousy driver. So either one could be a limiting factor.

Lets now translate this to a business. If the business is going to achieve the dreams of an owner it needs to not only have a successful driver but also a vehicle. If a business is not achieving the goals of the owner then these are the first two places you need to start looking for a solution.

Firstly ask yourself, is the driver the right person? If you are running your business, are you in fact the right person to be doing that? If you are also the person doing the customer service, accounting, marketing, etc are you the best person to do that? The less a driver has to worry about the more they can focus on getting the best performance from the vehicle. That’s why they have a team of people to help them. Someone to look after the engine, the tyres, the fuel and so on. At the speeds formula one cars travel you certainly don’t want to have a driver worrying about those things do you. Isn’t a business similar? If you’re driving it and you have lots to worry about, aren’t you are going to have trouble keeping it on track aren’t you? Can you perhaps do  better job somewhere else in the team?

Now consider the vehicle. Is the business (or occupation) you’re currently in really going to allow you to achieve what excites you? Is the business (or occupation) going to provide you with the end result you are looking for? Win the world championship if you may? Like I said before, you may be the most brilliant business person (or driver) but with a hobbled and limited business (or vehicle) you’re only going to be frustrated aren’t you?

So if the driver, and let’s assume it is you, needs to improve what can be done? You must continually work to improve your skills, your knowledge and experience. To survive the rigours of driving at such speeds one thing Formula One drivers need to be is pretty fit. That’s not something that just happens, it is not something that gets easier the older you get and it is not something you get while driving in a race. It is something that needs to worked at outside a race but ultimately helps a driver perform better. Let me ask you, in relation to your business (or position), what are you doing outside of that to improve your skills, enhance you experience and knowledge?

If, however, the vehicle is the issue what are the alternatives? You could tune it but maybe it would be better to abandon the vehicle altogether for something else that better suits the track and the driver. What’s the use of driving around in something that doesn’t work for you? It is only going to cause greater frustration and thereby impede performance and the ultimate goal even more. Ask yourself, is this the best vehicle for me to win ‘my championship’? If not, then maybe a change of vehicles is in order.

I feel there are a lot of similarities between Formula One racing and business. The teams that manage to get everything together win championship but they don’t achieve this by chance. They closely examine both the driver and vehicle all the time to determine whether they have ‘the winning combination’. If not, they don’t simply settle, they make changes because they want to WIN.

If you’re not looking to win ‘your championship’ then you’d be better off heading to the pits and retire. Let the real racers get on with their jobs.

Dumb businesses

Most businesses in this day and age are constantly looking at ways they can grow their sales and generate more revenue from new customers. In many cases this total fixation with ‘new’ sales is blinding them to collecting ‘easy pickings’, and in some cases may even be driving business away.

What do I mean? Let me give you an example from my own experience. I wanted to buy something, so I contact the business via email and obtained all the details. I tell them to send me an invoice so I can do an electronic funds transfer. Sale complete right? Nope. Firstly, there are no banking details on the invoice I received. I then troll through the lengthy email and find the account details, but guess what? They’re wrong. So now I gotta email them back and I HAVE TO ASK for the correct details. Can you see the issue?

It is almost like they are TRYING to make it hard for me to purchase from them. Wouldn’t you think that the most logical thing would be to put the transfer details on the invoice? Failing that, don’t they have a standard payment document that lists all the payment methods, including the right funds transfer details?

How many things like this are you overlooking in your business? It all comes down to building effective procedures. If you take the time to create a payment method document you can send it out every time you need to and you know it is right every time. As I have mentioned many, many times in this blog people are so happy to waste their time repeating low end tasks, duplicating information and promoting errors yet they constantly complain they are too ‘busy’. A businesses failing to conduct itself professionally, especially at the transaction moment of the sale, tells me a whole lot about how well that business generally operates. In some respects it may even warrant me taking my business elsewhere, because if they can’t do that what else aren’t they doing properly?

So rather than investing significant amounts of time constantly taking the rough road looking for new sales, have you examined your own processes to ensure that they are as efficient as possible? Have you ensured that it is as easy as possible for your existing customers (i.e. those who ALREADY pay you money) to keep giving you more money? Have you asked them whether you can make their dealings with you simpler?

Remember, what I’m saying here is making the process easier for money coming into your business not necessarily what suits you best. You want to make the whole process of getting paid as quick as possible. This means you need to look at it through the customer’s eyes, not your own. Remember the more friction there is in a process, not only the slower the process becomes but also the more heat it generates (i.e. customer frustration).

So, spend the time ensuring your gears are as oiled as possible before commencing on the great quest for more sales, because greater revenues may be just a tweak away.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I’ll bet

Many people I’ve spoken to are under the misapprehension that I’m already working with SharePoint 2010. Sorry to say that I currently have exactly the same access to the product that everyone else has. This means I’m reading the while papers and watching the video but not working with product.

 

We all know that SharePoint 2010 is due for public beta sometime in November as Steve Ballmer announced recently at the SharePoint conference. I’m willing to bet that the announce of the beta releases of SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 will be made at the upcoming Microsoft Professional Developers Conference to be held next week (17-19 November 2009).

 

As I said, I have just as much of an idea about the release as the next person but hopefully my bet will pay off and I can finally get my hands on the new SharePoint 2010 product.

You know times are changing


When Microsoft is set to release a version of Office that is free to consumers and supported by advertising. It is called Microsoft Office Starter 2010. Here’s the details from the Microsoft Office 2010 Engineering blog:

As part of Office 2010 software that will be pre-loaded by the PC manufacturers on their PCs, we’re introducing Microsoft Office Starter 2010. Office Starter 2010 is a reduced-functionality, advertising-supported version of Office 2010, available exclusively on new PCs. Office Starter 2010 will provide new PC owners with immediate exposure to the Office 2010 experience on new PCs right out of the box.

Office Starter 2010 will include Office Word Starter 2010 and Office Excel Starter 2010, with the basic functionality for creating, viewing and editing documents. Office Starter 2010 will replace Microsoft Works, offering a consistent Office user experience, such as the Ribbon, with a simple path to upgrade to a fully-featured version of Office 2010 directly from within the product.

Microsoft will soon be offering the product in beta and is asking people interested in the product to complete a quick survey as a way to nominate for the program. If you are interested then you’ll find the nomination process at:

http://survey.confirmit.com/wix5/p1059269618.aspx?type=1

This is further evidence of how much Office 2010 will be a game changer not only for Microsoft but for all those people that make living selling Microsoft Office. With the product available free on the web as well as free for download, how many existing are likely to upgrade to these products? Most, I reckon. Alternatively, how many people are going to upgrade to a paid edition? Not many, at least initially I believe. As I have said before, not only is the technology changing but also the economics. People who made their living from selling Microsoft Office are going to have to re-think their strategy as free versions of Office cannibalize existing sales. If they were smart they’d realize that there is going to be a huge potential market implementing and training customers on all versions of Office 2010 but luckily most won’t see this and will unsuccessfully continue to try and sell Office.

Why do I say luckily? Because it means more business for me as they focus on the wrong area. Sorry, as Donald Trump says - ‘It’s not personal, it’s business’.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Being busy is just an excuse

Now, I know that I’m not going to be very popular in what I’m about to say here but I truly believe it to be the case. There is a HUGE difference between being busy and being productive.

Lately, I’ve come across so many people claiming to be ‘busy’ and blaming this for having failed to get something important done. It is becoming that common now it is really starting to annoy me. Why? Because it is a total cop out I believe. The bottom line for most of these people is that ‘being busy’ is simply an excuse for not setting correct priorities. ‘Busy’ is typically a state in which people believe they need to be to achieve something, but in reality they are simply in motion without moving. They are merely creating action for action’s sake in the belief that they are being productive.

It’s human nature that there are things we like to do and things we don’t. Being productive usually means doing stuff that you don’t like doing AS WELL AS as stuff you do. Most however, fill their time with stuff they like doing but which is generally of such a low priority that they shouldn’t be doing it at all. In a word, they procrastinate. Procrastination doesn’t meaning sitting around twiddling your thumbs, it means failing to do what NEEDS TO BE DONE and you can just as easily achieve this by being ‘busy’. The issue for such people is that they do not value time appropriately. Just because you have eight hours a day ‘at work’ does that mean you have to spend that total time ‘working’? Definitely not! If I can get the same amount of productive work done in six hours, or four hours or even two hours why do I need to fill the remaining time with useless unproductive tasks? Because that’s what everyone else is doing I hear you say and therein lies the problem.

Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t make it right does it? Being productive is about what works for YOU not what everyone else SAYS works for you! We all have exactly the same amount of time allocated to us each and everyday, yet why do the vast majority of people always seem to be ‘busy’? Stressed? Tired? Unable to do what they need to get done? Simply because they have failed to prioritize their time correctly. Maybe they’d prefer to re-read their emails than actually starting on that report or maybe they’d prefer to surf the web just a bit longer rather than actually resolving an urgent problem. Sound familiar? It should be, because this how most people operate.

Another painful truth I’ve come to understand is that YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING! Thus, you need to prioritize. I’ll pretty much bet that if you prioritize correctly you’ll find you’ve been doing stuff that you don’t need to do at all. There is going to stuff you like doing, but to get the more important things done you are going to have to stop doing stuff, period. If it produces a low return on your time investment its gotta go. Do you leave your money under your mattress earning no interest? Unlikely. Most people put it somewhere where it will earn the maximum return. That is called INVESTMENT. Now tell me, what is more valuable? Your time or your money? Hmmmm… you can never get more time but you can always get more money, so I’d have to say time. Wouldn’t you? So why the hell do most people do their best to not only waste their own time on low priority tasks but also allow other people to also waste their time? Unfortunately, it is generally the worst offenders who can’t even see this fact.

If you are finding that you’re constantly ‘busy’, if you find that you are constantly letting things slip because you are ‘busy’, I’d say you need to take a long hard look at your priorities. It is probably going to involve some pain but the payoff to your health and well-being is well worth it in the end. If you think I’m joshing, stop and take a look at those around you always seem to be ‘busy’. Are they actually getting stuff done? Are they simply creating motion for motions sake? Are they using the excuse of being ‘busy’ to prevent you from giving them something that actually NEEDS to be done?

So you’ve been warned. Don’t keep coming to me saying that you’re ‘busy’ because if this keeps happening I’m going to leave you being ‘busy’ and find someone who can make time for what I need and I am unlikely to return. The inability to prioritize your own time automatically tells me you are unlikely to value my time as important. Sorry, but MY TIME is important so I ain’t going to let you waste it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

SharePoint Webinar resources

The first in what will be an ongoing series of webinars presented by the CIAOPS has been completed (An Introduction to SharePoint – 091112). Some of these will be free and some will have a small cost associated with them. When they are free, like this one was, I will post the video to YouTube. Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t allow you to post videos greater than 10 minutes in duration so I have had to break the webinar into 4 parts which you can access via the graphics below.

Introduction to SharePoint - Part 1

Introduction to SharePoint - Part 2

Introduction to SharePoint - Part 3

Introduction to SharePoint - Part 4

 

If for some reason the links don’t work simply go to my YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/directorciaops

 

If you want the complete video to download and view simply send me an email (director@ciaops.com) and I will let you know how to obtain it. Also if you have any feedback please let me know as I want to keep improving what I offer.

 

At this stage I’m think that the webinar in two weeks will focus on actually using SharePoint at a basic level. For example, uploading documents, adding meta data and so on. I’ll confirm exactly what the next webinar will be and when it will be here. In the meantime, enjoy the presentation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Never forget

image_2_0D75B7BC

91 years ago today the guns fell silent on the bloodshed that we refer to was World War I. As a result Australia lost almost 60,000 killed and over 150,000 wounded which represented 65% of those who embarked for war. As a percentage this is greater than other nations such as Britain and Canada whose commitment (and losses) were also significant.

 

It is not until you experience the country side in which a great many of these losses were sustained, do you appreciate how different the world is today from that time 91 years ago when simply surviving each day was a monumental feat. It is only then that you begin to contemplate what a different world it could have been if they had not gone to war, perhaps naively. Even after experiencing the horrors of war most continued to serve with distinction, which for most people today is simply unbelievable.

 

Relic of Mon St Quentin at the Australian War Memorial

 

We owe a huge debt to these people who have fought and died in all wars to protect the land and lifestyle we now simply take for granted. Of all the locations where Australians have actively participated in military actions none, for me, stands out like the battle of Mon St Quentin on the 30th of August 1918. It is here that we were awarded 8 Victoria Crosses, the highest decoration that can be bestowed on soldiers, yet ask any Australian today and is unlikely that have even heard of the action. To me, that is simply wrong. To me, this is not good enough. To me, we must never forget their sacrifices and the sacrifices of all our soldiers.

 

If you do nothing else to remember the day the guns feel silent then spend a moment and read about, in my opinion, a battle that demonstrated what courage and determination were all about. In essence, understand the remarkable achievements Australians made over 90 years ago and in doing so never let their memory fade. Never let their contribution go unrecognized and at the going down of the sun say we shall remember them.

 

For more information about the Australian Battlefields of World War One – France see my web site www.ciaops.com/guides/battle. Click on the link 1918 to view the battle of Mon St Quentin.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Avoid multitasking

I was reading a blog post from David Mackie about how he finds he needs to work with the TV on in the background. He was considering this in light of the article - ‘One thing at a time’ which again further points out the fact that multi-tasking is a sure way to kill your productivity. I replied to David’s post saying that firstly, having the TV on in the background is probably not true multi-tasking merely distracting because you don’t NEED to pay attention to it. Secondly, if you find that it does improve your productivity then there is nothing wrong with that PROVIDED that it is actually improving your productivity.

I recently came across the article - ‘If you only do one thing this week, avoid multi-tasking’ which again provides ample evidence of the inefficiencies of multi-tasking but the following caught my attention in relation to David’s post:

‘And if you think that cannot apply to you because you're a whiz at juggling tasks, consider the recent findings of researchers at Stanford University in California: people who routinely multitask are the worst at ignoring irrelevant information, regularly switch between tasks and have poorer short-term memory – in short, all the skills needed to multitask successfully.’

My point being that unless you MEASURE your productivity how are you every going to know doing something is making it better or worse? Having the TV on in the background MAY make you feel more productive but is it really? You’ll never know unless you MEASURE and experiment. There is also plenty of research about the effect that music has on concentration, especially the so called ‘Mozart effect’ which I am experimenting with now. At the end of day all this doesn’t count for squat unless it actually works for YOU!

Improved productivity is something that needs constant work and discipline because it is so easy to fall off the wagon and end up browsing the web for cats flushing toilets.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49jKeGyUCJE
and as you can see I have exactly the same problems because I have found the video on cats flushing toilets!

The next question is how do you start to measure your productivity? Here’s a few of my suggestions:

Rescue Timehttp://www.rescuetime.com. Great piece of software that tracks the time you spend doing different things on your PC. A free and paid version is available.

Manic Time - http://www.manictime.com. Another great free piece of software that tracks just about everything you do on your system in a huge amount of detail and provides a really nice interface to see exactly what you are doing.

OneNote – http://www.onenote.com. Part of the Microsoft Office suite of programs, which will be included in every version of the Office 2010 release. Amazingly handy for recording most ad-hoc information on a day to day basis. Combine it with an Internet hosted SharePoint and it really shines.

Theses are probably the top 3 applications I use to measure/improve my productivity but as I said it is always an ongoing process so if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

Google-juice


Everyday I’m finding more and more benefit from Twitter as method of promoting my business. I am always intrigued when I get new Twitter followers who ‘protect their tweets’. Ah why? Are you saying something you don’t want everyone to know? If you are doing that, why are are doing it on the Internet? Why are you also doing it on with a third party who effectively owns whatever you post up there? It just doesn’t make sense.

After recently reading the book “What Would Google Do” I have a much better appreciation for the need to generate as much ‘Google-juice’ around my business as possible. Twitter is an excellent method of doing exactly that. Don’t believe me well I’ve just type ‘robert crane’ into Google and look what appears:



It is probably a bit hard to read but I have a Google entry on the first page thanks to my postings in Twitter (currently the 6th entry!). I don’t think I could every achieve this with any of my web sites or blog but thanks to having an open Twitter account I’m getting some excellent Google-juice. I think this is pretty good given I’m up against a very famous (or infamous name-sake).

There are plenty of reasons for keep information private and I think the best advice that I could give is that if you want to keep it private don’t post in on the Internet no matter what form. And for heavens sake don’t post it to Facebook. Conversely, if you want to promote yourself or you business take the advice from “What Would Google Do” and make your information available to Google to index at all times.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let the SharePoint webinars begin



As promised, the first of what hopefully will be many webinars provided by the CIAOPS, will commence next Thursday the 12th of November. Here are the details:

091112 – An Introduction to SharePoint
Topics covered:
- What is SharePoint.
- Why use SharePoint.
- Versions of SharePoint.
- Basic operation of a SharePoint site.

Presenter: Robert Crane
Date: Thursday 12th of November 2009
Time : 10.00am (Sydney, Australia time)
Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: Free
Level: 1 (Basic)
Prerequisites: None

Details
This webinar will help you to understand what SharePoint is and how it can be used in a business environment. It will provide you with a basic understanding of SharePoint technologies and the versions that are currently available.

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

I am aiming to present a webinar like this every two weeks or so. Some of them will be free to attend and others will require a small payment (AUD$39 ex GST typically). The aim is to provide a series of webinars that takes attendees through the range of skills they need to not only understand SharePoint but also to be able to successfully install and maintain the product.

So, if you are interested at all in learning more about SharePoint then I urge you to register for the upcoming webinar. If you have any questions or want further information about this or other webinars I have planned please do not hesitate to contact me (director@ciaops.com).