Friday, April 30, 2010

Only for SharePoint 2010

In a recent blog post I mentioned how SharePoint Designer 2010 was now available for free download from Microsoft. What I have discovered after downloading and installing it is in fact that it only works with SharePoint 2010 sites. This means that if you want to work with previous versions of SharePoint (version 2 & 3) then you are going to have SharePoint Designer 2007 installed as well.

 

Luckily SharePoint 2007 is also a free download from Microsoft that you can find here:

 

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=baa3ad86-bfc1-4bd4-9812-d9e710d44f42

 

Clearly there must be some major changes behind the scenes if the new version of SharePoint Designer doesn’t support older version of SharePoint. However, when you look at the changes to the SharePoint 2010 interface (e.g. ribbon interface) you can understand why this is so.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cloud and proud

Do you wanna know how long it took me to go from this:

 

image_2_739289AE

(i.e. Exchange 2007)

 

to this?

image_4_739289AE 

 

(i.e. Exchange 2010)

 

A whole 10 seconds! How did I manage that? Simple, I have my Exchange server hosted in the cloud. Someone else worried about the hardware, someone else worried about the software, someone else worried about the migration. In short, SOMEONE ELSE worried about EVERYTHING! All I had to do was a choose a time at which I wanted the change over to occur.

 

After going through many onsite Exchange migrations over the years I have gotta say that I really don’t miss them and couldn’t be happier that I migrated to Exchange in the cloud over 2 years ago. I truly believe, going forward, that the ease with which such an upgrade was carried out is going to endear itself to more and more technology users as they now simply want just to USE the technology and not have to worry about MAINTAINING it.

 

During my 2 years so far with my emails in the cloud I have not had one outtage, not one! Sure I’m just one person using one single instance of hosted Exchange but baby let me tell you that not having to worry about all the usual dramas with emails such as viruses, spam, disk space and so on has been a boon for my productivity and my business.

 

It is exactly for reasons like this that I happily proclaim that I’m cloud and proud.

SharePoint Designer 2010 now available

Now that SharePoint Foundation 2010 is readily available for download (see previous blog post) I have also found that SharePoint Designer 2010 RTM is also available for download free.

 

Just click the links below for the version you desire and you will be taken to the Microsoft download site for that product:

 

SharePoint Designer 2010 (32-bit)

 

SharePoint Designer 2010 (64-bit)

Monday, April 26, 2010

SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2008

After manually installing all the prerequisites for SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2008 I attempted to install SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2008. If you really want to try this yourself and are baffled where the prerequisite Microsoft Filter Pack 2.0 is then you should contact me as you won’t find it on the Microsoft download site (that’s version 1.0 and 2.0 Beta, neither of which works) from what I see.

 

Because SharePoint Foundation 2010 detects an existing SharePoint v3 installation the only option that is available is an upgrade. Fair enough you say, but when you proceed you get:

 

image_2_0B701405

 

which is basically game over. Interestingly when you go to the web link provided (http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=975805) it doesn’t exist which kinda indicates that maybe the KB article is still being written on this one. Nothing also comes up when you do a Google search.

 

So that’s it game over eh? One would have said that also about running Search Server Express 2008 on SBS 2008 wouldn’t you? Especially if you have been reading this blog (especially here). Well I’m here to tell you that I have worked out how to successfully install Search Server Express on SBS 2008. It ain’t pretty but it can be done and it’s only taken me almost 2 years to work out. Maybe getting SharePoint Foundation 2010 running on SBS 2008 is my next challenge from the gods of code? Hopefully, this won’t take me another 2 years!

 

Oh, you want more details on how to install Search Server Express 2008 on SBS 2008? You’ll just have to stay tuned or subscribe to the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide as it will be published there real soon.

ANZAC Day

Yesterday was the 95th anniversary of landing on the Gallipoli peninsula by Australian and New Zealand troops.The 25th of April is beginning to mean a lot more in our national consciousness as current generations begin to appreciate and honour the sacrifices these men and others through the ages have made to ensure we live the lifestyle we now do.

 

Yet only 3 years after the landing in Gallipoli, again on ANZAC day, Australian and New Zealand troops liberated the town of Villers-Bretonneux in northern France from the Germans after fierce fighting. It was a remarkable feat with Brigadier General Grogan VC, who saw the action, describing the successful counter attack by night across unknown and difficult ground, and at short notice as "perhaps the greatest individual feat of the war". The Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Foch, referred to the "altogether astonishing valiance" of the Australians, ( most likely meaning valour ).

 

The town and people of Villers-Bretonneux have never forgotten the feats of the soldiers from so far away and to this day also celebrate ANZAC day. Having been to Villers-Bretonneux myself I would recommend that if you are ever in the region you spend some time visiting where another ANZAC legend has been forged, on another ANZAC day.

 

There is no greater honour for the men who never returned than this tribute in the school grounds of Villers-Bretonneux:

 

IMG_1115_2_0FFE98D1

 

For them and everyone who never returned from their service to our nation we simply say

 

Lest we forget

 

For those still on active duty we say stay safe and return home soon, we are proud of you.

 

To learn more about the ANZAC contribution in France during World War I visit – www.anzacsinfrance.com.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SharePoint how-to document

I recently posted up a SharePoint how to video covering creating and managing email notifications. As promised, I have now created a companion document covering the material that you can access via my SlideShare (along with plenty of other documents I have created). The direct link to the document is:

 

http://www.slideshare.net/directorcia/getting-started-with-sharepoint-alerts-3796685

 

and you can view it online as well as download it.

 

As always let me know what you think.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

SharePoint command line backups

For many IT Professionals who deal with SharePoint as part of other systems (especially Small Business Server) I would have to recommend strongly that you always configure a command line stsadm backup. You’ll find the details here:

 

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc288541.aspx

 

The stsadm –o backup command creates a single data file of your site that can easily be restored. Without this you are going to have to try and recover databases and web applications and it all gets very messy, especially with versions prior to version 3. An stsadm –o backup allows you to blow away a defective SharePoint site, install a new clean site and then use stsadm –o restore to get the data back.

 

This can be really handy if you also have to do a restore to different hardware or different network topology. To get the backup functioning in a different location typically takes some additional steps around security but that process is much easier than trying to recover SQL databases (especially MSDE) on a different server.

 

I’d also recommend that you also do an stsadm –o export (Windows SharePoint v3 or better only) since it allows you to more easily extract pieces of your backup as well as merge the data with existing sites. The stsadm –o backup command is a complete backup, all or nothing, and will overwrite any existing site if it is restored. The export command is how Microsoft recommends you part of the migration of companyweb in SBS 2003 to SBS 2008. More information about the export command can be found at:

 

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc288940.aspx

 

The easiest way to automate these command line backup sis to create a batch file with the command and use the Windows Scheduler to trigger it at the appropriate time. Personally, I do it in the middle of the night and send the data files up to storage on the Internet.

 

Without an stsadm command line backup you may struggle to restore a SharePoint site in teh case of a disaster. Be proactive and implement an stsadm backup and then use the data file to test a full disaster recovery, just to be sure you know how to do it. Better now than in a crisis!

Monday, April 19, 2010

New SharePoint how-to video

I’ve just posted up a new ‘how-to’ SharePoint video. This one covers how to enable notifications via emails from a SharePoint site when changes occur.

 

 

This feature can be very handy to keep track of what is happening in just about any part of SharePoint.

 

I have also just about completed a complimentary document to go with this new video so you can also that to learn how to enable on of the most handy features of SharePoint (it will go up on my Slideshare site where my other documents are soon). Don’t forget that I’ve also got a range of other ‘how-to’ videos on my YouTube channel that covers SharePoint and other topics.

 

As always send me your feedback and comments, all welcome.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

CIAOPS Email support list



I’m always on the look out for better ways of helping people with things like SharePoint, productivity and cloud services as well as boosting my business of course. These days I have the usual social media stuff, like this blog, Twitter, Facebook and so on. I also do what I can to monitor and contribute to sites on the Internet where people need assistance but that is difficult to manage given the sheer number of sites. I have also found over the years that most techie types still tend to like email lists.

So what I’ve done is gone and set up a CIAOPS Yahoo list that people can subscribe to and email messages with questions about anything they’d like assistance with or that they may think is of interest. Hopefully I can encourage a few other experienced hands to come on board and cover some of the areas that I’m no so good on. However, I see it mainly as a vehicle to help people with SharePoint and especially my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide.

Now I’m sure there are probably better options out there and I would love to hear about them, but hopefully this is something that will suit a certain audience, so I’d like to try it and see what happens.

If you are at all interested in signing up for the CIAOPS Yahoo list you can do so by the following means:

Email subscription to ciaops-subscribe@yahoogroups.com 

or visiting

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/ciaops/

You’ll need to create a Yahoo ID first to contribute in this group which you can do here. Once that is done I’ll approve you and you can start sending emails to group.

Hopefully, this will be a way to build a bit of a community around some the stuff the CIAOPS does as well as helping others.

Friday, April 16, 2010

SharePoint v2 Set Configuration Database server

image_2_61649410

 

Been doing some recovery work on a SharePoint v2 site on SBS 2003 ( i.e. on Companyweb ). SharePoint v2 had lost the configuration database information so when you try and run the SharePoint Central Administration you are greeted with a window asking you for a database server and SQL server database.

 

I did know what these were but wasn’t sure of the format. Being unable to find these on Google I worked it out from my own test SBS 2003 system. Thus:

 

Database server = <SBS_SERVER_NAME>\<sql_sharepoint_instance_name>

typically = server\sharepoint

 

SQL Server database name = STS_Config

 

remember this is what the settings are for the default install of SharePoint v2 on SBS 2003.

 

Hopefully this entry will get crawled so others can find the information quicker than I did.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why the Droid is cool

Now why can’t they market Windows 7 phones like this? Here’s a swag of video’s on the Motorola Driod but I reckon this one is the best:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7y-mN0c_Kk&feature=player_embedded

 

You’ll find the rest here:

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/DROIDshortcuts#p/u

 

Reality? No. Funny? Yes.

SMBITPro Sydney event

 

I am involved with an association of IT Professionals here in Sydney called SMBITPro - Sydney, of which I am currently the President. We meet on a regular monthly basis (the second Tuesday of the month) from 6pm. During our meetings we normally have a few technical presentations from vendors as well a contributions from members. At the end of each meeting everyone in attendance get to do some networking over pizza. All in all it is a good way to keep abreast of what’s happening in the SMB market as well network with other IT Professionals.

 

Also in past 12 months we have commenced full day SMBITPro workshops. So far we have had ones on virtualization, migration and security. The next one, focusing on backup and disaster recovery, will actually run over two days (Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd of May) and will focus on vendors demonstrating the ability of their products to not only backup an SBS 2008 server but also restore it to completely different hardware. To further demonstrate the simplicity of their products each vendor will not be allowed to touch the hardware at any stage, during back or restore. Instead they must ‘instruct’ a volunteer from the audience through the entire process. We reckon this is as close to real world as you can get in a workshop.

 

Although the workshop’s major focus is backup and disaster recovery there will also be a number of other sessions on business and technology. Depending on the scheduling, I plan to give at least one session on SharePoint. One topic will be around helping IT Professionals understand the basics of SharePoint, as from my experience most people supporting SBS networks really have no idea about where to start troubleshooting when something goes wrong with SharePoint. This sessions will show them exactly where they should be looking. I’ll post up more details about this session and some others I have planned as the agenda gets firmed up (we are still waiting on a few vendors to confirm their attendance).

 

Perhaps more important that the technical discussions is the ability to network with fellow IT Professionals, before, during and after the event. Even if you can’t attend one of the two days I’d encourage you to come along to the pre and post dinners and network with attendees. Over the last three events we have generally found that many people actually discover they get just as much from these networking opportunities as they do the technical presentations.

 

So, where do you find out more information about the Backup++ event? Visit http://event.smbitpro.com.au for all the details including prices and registration. The front page of the site is actually an RSS feed so you can subscribe there to get all the updates as we get closer to the event. We already over one third full and expect more registrations as the event approaches so if you are considering attending please do as I’d love to see you there. If you can’t stay tuned to the web page for the next workshop event hosted by SMBITPro – Sydney.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Uploading to SharePoint document

When people start using SharePoint for the very first time the most frequently asked question is ‘How do I upload documents?’. Having already created a YouTube covering that topic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZYRbbPp4Es

 

I’ve now also created a document which I have posted up on my SlideShare for free viewing and downloading.

As always feel free to send me your feedback (director@ciaops.com) and watch out for more documents coming soon.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Use Linkedin

 

I was reading an article called “How Linkedin will fire up your career” and it made me start to think about how much things have changed when it comes to finding work these days.

 

We all know that it is not what you know, it is who you know right? For many, many years I stupidly ignored this in the mistaken belief that the way to succeed was to keep improving my technical skills. Unfortunately, Google came a along and ruined all this by making information about everything so readily accessible. Now you don’t need years and years of experience you just need to use Google to make you look competent. So with just about everybody competing on the same level these days how do you get ahead?

 

As much as Facebook has swept to the forefront of social networking there is a site that is older and much more businesses focused. That site is Linkedin. As the article says, if you haven’t got your details up on Linkedin then you are going to miss out on many of the most lucrative jobs because Linkedin is fast becoming the first place people look to connect with people for business. Linkedin has always been about business and allows you to document your business skills and experience. Many businesses are finding that rather than going through the traditional screening process for job applicants they are using the power of Linkedin to seek out suitable candidates.

 

Another great thing about Linkedin is that you can provide recommendations of people who you have worked with and as you know testimonials speak louder than any qualification. Linkedin also allows you to join business groups that suit you interests as well as have and contribute to discussions. The interface is still a little clunky and it doesn’t doing everything that something like Facebook does but Linkedin is certainly gaining in popularity as a business networking tool.

 

If you haven’t used Linkedin then I’d recommend you get your profile up there. If you haven’t visited Linkedin for a while I recommend you take a look at what’s changed, bring your information up to date and link in other applications like Twitter and SlideShare. You can also make your profile available publically like mine:

 

http://au.linkedin.com/in/ciaops

 

however, you get the most benefit when you join Linkedin and connect up with others there.

 

So if you are already on Linkedin then by all means feel free to connect with me. I’d also appreciate, if you are so inclined, any Linkedin testimonials and recommendations you can provide me as they all really do help. Think of Linkedin like your living CV that you can not only show a recruiter, customer or colleague but also something that others can use to find you and your skills. You can never have enough paths to your door in business I say. If you don’t believe me then have a read of “How Linkedin will fire up your career” as it may just change your mind.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Re-loaned

I’ve spoken before about how I think one of the best charities around is kiva.org. Basically, it makes micro-loans to entrepreneurs in disadvantaged locations to help them expand their businesses. Because the funds are loans they are paid back over a period of time. The good thing is that, once returned, the money loaned can be withdrawn or re-loaned, which is exactly what I’ve just done.

The great thing is that it brings together those who need the loans with those prepared to lend using technology. By having many different people contribute to a single overall loan lenders can mitigate their risk. Given the regions where some of these people are running businesses is not the most conductive to commerce. I must say however, that I have not yet had a loan not repaid, ever.

It is really very easy to get into the microfinance game. Simply go you kiva.org and sign up. From there select from a list of people whom you’d like to help and then make a secure payment via credit card. As the loan progresses you’ll get updates and information about the person who you lent the money to. At the end of the term you’ll generally get the money back and be ready to make another loan.

This form of charity appeals to me on a number of different levels. Firstly, you are loaning money to entrepreneurs who are trying to better themselves through business (which I can associate closely with). Next any money you give is provided as a loan with the intention of having it repaid. Thus, any funds you contribute can be loaned out to others so it is helping more than just one person. Finally I like the way that you actually find out more about the person you are loaning to quickly and easily by the web site.

I would encourage you to sign up and kiva.org and start helping those trying to help themselves. If you want a better idea of how my money has been allocated see my lender page at:

http://www.kiva.org/lender/robert5824

It doesn’t take much sometimes to make a big difference.

iPad thinking


Apple is about to ship (in the U.S. anyway) it’s latest gadget known as the iPad. I thought that I’d cover why I think this device will have a similar impact as other Apple devices such as the iPod and the iPhone. The broad basis of my argument proceeds along two lines of reasoning: rational and emotional.

On the rational side I would say that there currently isn’t a successful ‘tablet’ style device out there at moment. Lots of people have tried to create something but they haven’t really taken off. Sure, the odds maybe against Apple here but that still doesn’t mean they can’t be successful and fill what is a current hole in the market.

Next, I’ll point to the fact that no matter what Apple bring to market a significant number of people will buy it. This alone gives the product momentum which many competitors fail to achieve. This is one of the differences about Apple, they don’t have users they have fans and fans buy whatever you peddle. Thus, the first shipment is already sold out and second one is also I believe. That’s a pretty good way to kick start any market acceptance.

We are now living a world where ubiquitous Internet is almost a reality. It is certainly more ubiquitous in the places that we frequent, i.e. at home, at work, travelling, etc. the iPad is a device for these places because it supports ‘instant on’ and access to the Internet. Wanna see what’s on TV? Grab your iPad and view the on line program. Want to catch up on the news before a flight? Grab your iPad and get the latest information. The key factors here are ‘instant on’ and form factor. Being bigger than an iPhone reading becomes less of a strain and you also don’t have to wait for it to boot. Also don’t overlook that we have an aging population and our eyesite isn’t getting any better.

In the places that we frequent where the Internet is not ubiquitous (like cars) the iPad will most likely drive connection there as well. Imagine a GPS screen the size of an iPad rather than that of a pokey iPhone? What about all those places you need to lookup while on the move? What about some entertainment (movies and games) while you’re travelling (on a bus or train rather than driving a car in this case)?

However, rationally I think the most powerful feature of the iPad will be as an eBook reader. Take a look at all the books kids bring home from school these days. Imagine if they were all available in a simple device like an iPad. Electronic books allows students to much easier search, mark up and  share the information they use in their studies. I’m not only thinking of kids in school but what about those in technical colleges and universities? Need to check something in the text book while you are in the lecture? Just whip out your iPad to see. Again, in the past eBooks have never really taken off but that doesn’t mean they won’t now.

I do a lot of reading and writing everyday and I can see the iPad working in both aspects. I take a lot of notes in a paper notebook everyday simply because it is easier and quicker to do this than entering it in via a keyboard. I also don’t always have a keyboard in front of me and once again, most mobile devices screens are too small for this. However, an iPad is in a similar form factor to what I’m already using with my paper notebook so it has already checked off one box here.

As I said, I do read a lot of stuff as well everyday. From emails, to web pages, to magazines, newspapers, to RSS feeds, fiction and non-fiction I read it all daily. I certainly see the appeal of all that reading matter being in a single place. I see the appeal of it all be searchable as well as being able to remember where I’m up to. I also see the potential for this information to be delivered automatically to an ‘instant on’ device that allow me to read any of material whenever the mood takes me without me ever having to worry about how or when it gets onto that device.

I think you can start to see the rational reasons why the iPad may become widely accepted as a ‘new platform’ for IT in the very near future. But about the emotional reasons? These reasons have no logic but they are none the less just as valid in my opinion.

Firstly the device is from Apple and Apple is cool. Apple doesn’t make technology devices, it makes consumer products. As much as IT people love to discuss Apple technology it is the ‘huddled masses yearning to be free’ that buy their stuff. That’s why it looks the way it does and that’s why it is sold the way it is. If logic had anything to do with it we wouldn’t find the PC vs Mac ads funny now would we?

Secondly, to a consumer the iPad is simple. It doesn’t have a keyboard (which most users hate), it is just like a notebook. You simply point at what you want and it appears. Remember, I’m talking about emotion here not reality. I believe people secretly yearn for simpler technology, most use less than 20% of the features available in current software because it has become a case of feature overload. Something that is simple had great appeal.

Lastly, no matter what you think about Apple’s products you have to recognize that they have been successful. One could argue that iPod and iPhone were devices that changed our world and forced many others to reconsider the position in the market. Again, there is never any guarantee in a commercial world about what will be successful but if history is anything to go on then you’d certainly have to say it has a better than average chance.

So there you have it, why I reckon the iPad will be a success. Maybe not initially but the more I stop and think the more I can see an application for a device where one doesn’t currently exist. More importantly one where the iPad would fit the bill. I believe the real secret to the iPad is not that it is more technologically advanced but that it is simpler, or perceived that way, that will make it a winner with its target market – the average consumer. Too often technology people get seduced by the geez whiz factor and forget that the far bigger market is those who simply want something they can use easily and makes them look cool. That my friend will be the iPad I believe.