Saturday, May 29, 2010

Revisiting balance

I received a comment on my recent blog post about sweat, talking about how important balance is and how without it you run the risk of injuring yourself. I couldn’t agree more as these older blog posts highlight:

http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog/archive/2007/07/16/the-one-thing.aspx

http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog/archive/2007/07/16/its-all-about-control.aspx

and

http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog/archive/2007/07/16/your-greatest-strength-is-also-your-greatest-weakness.aspx

However most people don’t achieve balance without effort. If you try and stand on one leg and tie your shoe lace you are certainly going to have to do some work to prevent yourself from falling over. Everyday, in fact, your ability to walk upright requires a constant balancing act yet you do it so often that you don’t even realize you are doing it. Also, because you do it so often your body has developed a way to ensure maximum balance with minimal effort. That didn’t happen overnight, it took years and years of practice yet many time we forget that. Shouldn’t you be able to achieve the same ease of result with everything else? Not without putting in effort you won’t.

The key to balance is control as I wrote in an earlier blog post and control requires effort and discipline (i.e. sweat). In many ways control comes back to being a mental discipline because your mind controls just about every function of your body. Interestingly, one could also content that those who can’t control themselves are destined to be controlled by others.

Like a true Zen puzzle, there are many small pieces which individually they appear very simple. However as you start to interlock them you begin to discover that they actually interact and influence each other. Understanding the pieces comes first, getting them to work together is the challenge and only then do you achieve balance. Yet that all comes to naught without control.

If balance is the goal, effort is the way.

Blog URL rectified

When I started this blog I simply used the native blogging in SharePoint v3. As I felt that was a bit bland I then used a Codeplex template to make it look a bit slicker. One of the big benefits was that the URL of blog posts became more ‘standard’. Thus instead of:

 

http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog/Lists/Posts/ViewPost.aspx?ID=816

 

it became:

 

http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog/archive/2010/05/28/sql-server-express-2008-r2-database-size-increase.aspx

 

which as you can see has the date and topic of the post. Problem is that behind the covers the URL was still the top more complex one.

 

Now if you subscribed to the blog via Feedburner you could read the post but when you clicked on the post in your reader you received a login prompt. Typically, you’d go no further.

 

To my own detriment I have known about this issue for a while but never gotten around to getting it fixed. I was having a conversation with Hilton Travis about the issue recently and he quite rightly pointed out that even though the RSS feed does display in the reader correctly it only displays the first part of the blog post. Thus, if it is a long blog post and you want to read it and click on the item to get more you are confronted with a login and password. As Hilton quite rightly pointed out, this fact is limiting my readership and frustrating existing subscribers. D’oh, what an idiot I am! Good example of a failure of customer service there. Shame, shame, shame.

 

So long story short, I believe the issue should now be resolved so that if you click on a link from Feedburner that has a cryptic URL would should be taken to the correct post, without any password prompts and the URL should now read the updated friendly one.

 

If it doesn’t PLEASE let me know and I will fix this. Apologies to all who have suffered through my lack of attention on this matter and I hope your reading experience with this blog is now much better.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

SQL Server Express 2008 R2 Database size increase

In my ongoing saga to provide the best solution for SharePoint Foundation on SBS 2008 I have been alerted to the fact that SQL Server Express 2008 R2 has had its maximum database size limit increased from 4GB to 10GB by Andy Parkes (thanks Andy). The actual SQL Server Express 2008 blog (yes there is a blog) mentions it here:

 

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlexpress/archive/2010/04/21/database-size-limit-increased-to-10gb-in-sql-server-2008-r2-express.aspx

 

Why is that important for SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2008 you may ask? Well to install SharePoint anywhere you need a version of SQL Server installed first. Generally, if you don’t already have a version SharePoint will install a free version automatically for you. With WSS v3 this version was SQL Server Embedded Edition 2005 (#SSEE) which has no limit on the size of databases (although it has other restrictions). SharePoint Foundation 2010 in contrast installs SQL Express 2008 which has a database limit of 4GB. So if you did really want to install SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2008, and migrate your existing WSS v3 site across without having to pay for a version of SQL Server and your SharePoint content database was > 4GB  then you were out of luck.

 

So, if you have SharePoint content databases > 4GB and you don’t want to pay for a full blown version of SQL Server you can now use SQL Server Express 2008 R2. Only problem is that you have to install this version first before installing SharePoint Foundation 2010 AND you also have to do an advanced SharePoint install, which means you have to setup and configure SharePoint manually on the server. This is not a simple process for someone not familiar with SharePoint so I would not recommend it.

 

I think this is where SharePoint sometimes gets a bum wrap. Out of the box there are some limitations, however they can be overcome, problem is that information isn’t always readily available. That is exactly why I document all of this in my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide that I make available for people. If you are going to be working with SharePoint my Guide is going to save you hours and hours of mucking around looking for the answers. Come July 1 I’ll also be announcing another improvement to the Guide so stay tuned.

 

So thanks to Andy Parkes I’m off to rewrite my SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2008 guide to incorporate SQL Server Express 2008 R2 because bigger databases are always better right?

Job recruitment

I’ve been helping another reseller with some recruitment using a method I’ve developed over the years to find not just competent technicians but also good employees. However, I must admit that I’m pretty disappointed in the quality of responses that I’ve seen so far. I was also stunned to see that none of the applicants for the position used any sort of social media tools. No Linkedin, blogs, etc to promote their qualifications.

 

To me this indicates that good technical people don’t reply to online job ads any more. So what are they doing? I reckon they have their details up on places like Linkedin, for example, and use it to connect with people and solicit testimonials from their contacts. I’d also say that they are blogging about technical topics to demonstrate firstly their discipline to write regularly but also provide a ‘living’ CV that they can refer anyone to as a way of highlighting their ongoing efforts in their professional field. There are plenty of other ways that smart people are using social networking to get ahead. Take a look at this example:

The Google Job Experiment - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FRwCs99DWg

 

If you are someone looking for a better job then you really need to be using social networking and becoming connected with as many people as possible. In many cases it is the strength of weak ties that lands you the job you never expected via a friend of a friend. Best of all, most of the tools of social network are free to join and maintain.

 

Now if you are looking to hire someone I gotta say that the same message also applies to you. If you think you are going to land that great employee simply by running an online ad I think your chances are going to be fairly slim. Many smart businesses, again are using social networking to stay in touch with ex-employees, customers and other contacts. In this way they are extending their reach and ‘weak links’ so when the day comes that they need someone they will either have that individual with their existing social network or they can use their network to find someone.

 

As a business or an employee you need to maintain and foster your networks but by doing this you are constantly giving yourself the greatest chance of having the position or person you want find you. Personally, I think now days the first place I’d start looking for someone is via Twitter or Linkedin. Why? It doesn’t cost anything. Only after exhausting all my social networks would I consider running an online ad.

 

Most amazingly of all, many small businesses totally ignore social networking as a method of recruitment. Most prefer to employ ‘someone they know’ but few utilize the tools that effectively allow them to do just that. To me, this is simply another example of how important social networking is in the SMB market. Smart business are leveraging it for all sorts of things like marketing, publicity and, as I outlined here, recruitment. Most businesses know how hard it is to recruit good staff. You have a much greater chance if you go to where progressive talent is located (i.e. social networking). If you simply run an online add you are really just ‘hoping’ there ‘maybe’ someone out there. Not a very good return on investment in my books.

 

Times are changing. If you are a good business or a good employee don’t rely on the old ways of recruitment, start to understand and utilize the tools that social networking provide and save yourself time, money and really stand out from the crowd. I really feel sad for not only all those people who have submitted ‘bland’ CVs for me to evaluate but also for the business who is using this method to recruit. The chances of any of them truly finding what they are after is very slim in my books, very slim indeed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Backup workshop roundup

Over the weekend we ran a Backup and Disaster Recovery workshop for SMB resellers. It was pleasing to see the event so well attended, with people even travelling from inter state to be present. I’d like to think that we did something a little different at this workshop by inviting a number of vendors to demonstrate the ability of their products to not only backup a standard SBS 2008 server but also to do a bare metal restore to different hardware without them actually touching the hardware (a volunteer was used to perform all the work). The consensus on day was that BackupAssist provided the best result in our tests but all vendors performed superbly and we thank them all for their efforts.

 

Another first for us was that the event was conducted over two days, stretching from our previous single day. Even then we could have probably gone another day but most attendees agreed that three days would be just too much. Apart from the content around backup and disaster recovery we also had a number of other technology presentations including those from:

 

IMG_1642_2_7347BF35

 

Jeff Alexander on Microsoft Data Protection Manager,

 

IMG_1646_2_7347BF35

 

Peter Vane from ITWest on selling Backup and Disaster Recovery to customers,

 

IMG_1647_2_7347BF35

 

Kieran Cook from Trend Micro and

 

IMG_1645_2_7347BF35

 

yours truly on SharePoint and Cloud Computing.

 

We where also luck enough to have both Susan Bradley and Kevin Royalty present remotely. Many attendees commented on how much they liked the mixed of presenters and topics over the two days so we take this opportunity to thank all those who did take the time to present over the workshop.

 

So what did people think? Well here’s a number of feedback comments from attendees:

 

“The SMBiT workshops are excellent. They offer real value for money with solid technical and business content. Almost as valuable is the time spent networking with other IT professionals. Well worth it.”

 

“For the busy IT consultant, these workshops offer a great way to learn a lot in a short space of time. Like TechEd but without the massive cost!”

 

“After the first day I can whole heartedly recommend attending the events that are run by the NSW group, the content is at the perfect level for the attendees in both technical and informational levels.”

 

“The SMBiT Workshop days are some of the best value for money seminars I have been to. They are real hands on rather than theory, powerpoint & overview. A lot of the additional value is undocumented such as networking with colleagues & other technical hints that come up during presentations.”

 

“Absolutely fantastic. You'd be crazy not to attend at least once! We picked up so many ideas from the two days, I'm looking forward to working out how to fit them into our business!”

 

Thank you Sydney SMBiT Professionals group for organising most stimulating and informative workshops. They were well run and had the level of information I was looking for. Each of the workshops were true to their names and the practical nature of them, was what I wanted to see and not the marketing hype of the vendors.
Well done and I am looking forward to more similar professional sessions. Great value for money and a good investment of my time.

 

You’ll also find some further feedback from Susan Bradley and Peter Vane that is very much appreciated.

 

A big thanks for the day must also go to Hilton Travis from QuarkIT who travelled down from Queensland to webcast and record the event (as well as provide his unique point of view on most topics) as well as Ryan Spillane and David Wales from Correct Solutions for the hardware and the pre work that went into getting it ready for the workshop. A heartfelt thanks.

 

We are now towards the next workshop on the 20th and 21st of August that will be around business development and cloud services. Make sure you reserve the days because after this one I’m pretty sure places are going to fill really fast!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sweat


One of the most important things an independent IT Professional (or anyone for that matter) needs to do is take care of their health, for without your health you can’t hope to earn a living. Sadly, this is generally not the case for most IT Professionals I know as well as many other people I must say. The secret has really got more to do with your mind than your body, but that is a topic for another blog post.

Attempting to be health conscious myself I spend a certain amount of time each day at a small local gym keeping my self in condition. I do however notice a constant stream of people who come in and ‘pretend’ to exercise. To get any benefit from the exercise you are doing you need to look at your heart rate and in effect raise it from what is considered the ‘resting rate’. Here is a good article all about heart rate and intensity, but basically you should exercise with your heart rate at 65-85% of its maximum (which varies with age) and maintain that for the duration of your workout. Doing that consistently has all sorts of benefits which again is fodder for another future blog post.

What I want to focus on here is what also comes with lifting your intensity – sweat. After every work out I make sure that I’m sweating, if I’m not then I haven’t trained intensively enough. However, the other people I see in the gym would probably get more exercise sitting on the couch watching TV. They are deluding themselves if they think have achieved any benefit of going to the gym for that time period. They are simply wasting their time because they are not even breaking a sweat.

So let’s now translate that to how you run your business. Can you honestly say that you are lifting the intensity of your business? Are you pushing your business (or yourself) to make it ‘sweat’? Unfortunately, most are like the people I see coming into the gym, fooling themselves that they are working out. Their business may have made it into the gym but it sure ain’t doing a workout! Again, there is no sweat.

Much like maintaining fitness, you need to push your business beyond the comfort zone. Again like exercise, you don’t go mad and try and run a marathon without preparation you need to build your intensity up but you need to keep building, you need to keep sweating if you plan to improve it. There are going to be the odd aches and pains along the way but the main aim of the game is to continue to lift the average which is never going to happen if you leave your business sitting on the couch eating potato chips.

Take a look around at the people that you know, are they lifting their intensity? Are they looking to improve their average? Are they and their business getting fitter? A wise man once said that you are the average of your surroundings. If you want to improve your average many you have to make a change to your environment. Any change will require effort resulting in sweat which is the easiest way to know you have increased your intensity.

Make sure that when you take yourself or your business to the gym you come away sweating. I can assure you that over time that the results of this effort is worth the investment.

Today I reached 100

image_2_51D6FD5E

 

No not quite 100 years yet (but that will happen one day soon) I actually reached 100 Facebook friends. Wow! I can’t say that I’d even have thought I’d see the day. Now obviously that number can drop back if some ‘un-friends’ me (which would make me sad) but reaching triple figures made me ponder this whole ‘friends’ thing, briefly at least.

 

As Seth Godin says in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0h0LlCu8Ks

 

The Internet has allowed a huge amount of fake networking. Why? Because there’s a scoreboard that clicks over and allows you to compare that to others. Just because Facebook says they’re your friends are they really? And once they are your friends what then?

 

With almost 500 million Facebook users there is little doubt that anyone, let alone businesses, can afford to ignore the ‘Facebook factor’ but my question is, if you use Facebook for business what do you use it for? What are your trying to achieve with it? If you simply want to accumulate more friends, send me a request an I’ll be your friend but I’d really like to hear what business strategy people have with their Facebook accounts. Drop me an email (director@ciaops.com) and let me know how you use Facebook to grow your business. Also, please feel free to Facebook friend me via http://www.facebook.com/ciaops, I need to keep that score ticking along.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Full length videos now available

Many of the videos that I create I place up on YouTube. One of the biggest limitations I find with YouTube is that videos can only be no longer than 10 minutes. This means that I have to split up many of my free webinar videos which I believe reduces their effectiveness.

 

For a while now I have been using SlideShare to share documents and presentations I have created. Turns out that SlideShare now has the ability to host videos, and best of all they place a limit on the file size of the video not the length.

 

With that in mind I have uploaded two of my recent webinars which you can now view in a single sitting:

 

Basics of Using SharePoint - http://www.slideshare.net/directorcia/basics-of-using-sharepoint

 

and

 

An Introduction to SharePoint - http://www.slideshare.net/directorcia/an-introduction-to-sharepoint

 

Going forward I’ll still be using YouTube to host my videos, simply given its popularity but for anything longer than 10 minutes I’ll post it to SlideShare. However, if you are interested please go and have a look a the videos on SlideShare and let me know what you think and whether they work for you.

SharePoint 2010 on SBS 2008 – Yes but why?

Susan Bradley posed a good question in a recent blog post as to why you would even consider putting SharePoint 2010 on SBS 2008. Even though it can be done as I have demonstrated recently, it isn’t a pretty process and may end up breaking a number of SBS integration components. So why would the average IT Professional even attempt it?

 

As Andy Parkes notes in the comments to Susan’s post the implementation of Office Web Apps is one reason. Office Web Apps requires SharePoint 2010 to operate so indeed if you wanted to run Office in a browser you’d need to have SharePoint 2010 installed.

 

I think the other main reason is to run Search Server Express. Previous I’d been battling away to get this operational on SBS 2008 without much luck but now I have also successfully installed in onto SBS 2008. Search Server Express provides enterprise level indexing of not only SharePoint sites but also file shares, public folders and web sites all through a familiar browser interface. I never really understood why Microsoft didn’t provide details on how to install it on SBS 2008 as I think it was a natural fit for SBS 2008.

 

Now given that it is POSSIBLE to install both SharePoint 2010 and Search Server Express on SBS 2008 the question still remains – for the average reseller – is it worthwhile? I’d have to say no. I believe it is a far better option to have a second server in the network (say a Windows Foundation Server) onto which goes both SharePoint 2010 and Search Server Express. It makes the setup easier, cleaner and provides better separation. The other question you have to ask is that if you did install SharePoint 2010 on SBS 2008 what happens when a service pack becomes available? Will it break that is there? Will there need to be a separate ‘SBS 2008’ service pack to accommodate this? Hmmmm….I think having on a second server in a ‘standard’ installation is much more robust.

 

The other issue I’ll raise about SharePoint 2010 on SBS 2008 is the fact that SharePoint 2010 typically runs on SQL Express 2008 (although installing to other SQL versions is supported). Given that most IT Professionals would prefer to install SharePoint 2010 on the SQL Express 2008 since it is free, they will face the inbuilt limitation of a 4GB database. So, if your existing Companyweb installation is greater than 4GB then you are probably going to have to install a full version of SQL before you install SharePoint 2010.

 

Again, as Susan says, I reckon you need to carefully consider that although you CAN install SharePoint 2010 on SBS 2008 whether you SHOULD in fact do it considering all the issues that it may unearth. However, if you REALLY want to at least you can, however I would still wait and see if any official guidance from Microsoft is forthcoming. I’ll certainly be putting more together about my process when I have attempted to resolve the integration issues.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SharePoint 2010 on SBS 2008 – Yes we can

Been neglecting the blog lately but I do have a good reason, honestly. I have been working hard behind the scenes trying to work out how to get SharePoint 2010 onto SBS 2008. I have documented my previous attempts with the beta and most recently with the RTM.

 

Not willing to accept that it couldn’t be done I went back to the drawing board and can now proudly announce that I have finally managed to get it working as the screen shot below shows.

 

image_2_16FB9689

 

Now I have to tell you that the process isn’t very clean or simple and honestly I really don’t why anyone would want to go through the pain but at least you can if you so desire.

 

I am still working on tidying some related issues around the process so I can provide a full set of documentation around how you can upgrade/migrate WSS v3.0 Companyweb on SBS 2008 to SharePoint Foundation 2010 Companyweb. This means retaining as much of the initial WSS v3.0 functionality as possible. So give me a little while to get all that down and document the process.

 

Stay tuned for the magic behind how it can be done if you REALLY want to!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Australian SharePoint Conference

A while back I said that I’d got a gig speaking at the upcoming Australian SharePoint Conference, well now I have some more details.

 

Title:

Running SharePoint on Small Business Server: Pros and Cons - 100 Level

 

Description:

The least known component of Small Business Server 2008 is SharePoint and yet it offers the greatest opportunity for your business. This session will explain to you in simple terms exactly what SharePoint technology is and how it can be utilized to improve your business and that of your customer when using Small Business Server. You'll learn how SharePoint works, how you can use it and how to sell it to customers bundled with SBS. You'll also learn how to take SharePoint beyond the default install to configure an installation that truly provides business benefits to you customers by removing their pain points. You'll learn also how software like SharePoint designer, Search Server Express and third party add-ons work with SharePoint to provide true business value on Small Business Server.

 

Day:

June 17 (Day 2)

 

Time:

1:30pm – 2:30pm

 

Location:

Ballroom B

 

So if you are interested in SharePoint come along to this fabulous event and hear from some of the most experienced people using and implementing SharePoint.

 

General Conference info:

Only six weeks to go! Don't miss out on Australia's biggest SharePoint event of the year!

Something for everyone - one of the few IT events that specifically reaches out to multiple audiences

 

· 20 sessions of end user/power user/business content including some great case studies including Telstra, Volvo and a number of Industry verticals such as finance,  insurance, legal and engineering.

 

· 20 sessions of pure technical content for IT Pro, Administrators, Developers and Analysts

 

· Content is relevant to those using WSS, MOSS 2007, and new 2010 products

 

FREE Hosted SharePoint Server 2010 Site for EVERY delegate - thanks to Emantra - Hosted Solutions Australia you get to try out everything you learn AT the event and  for 3 months after - try 2010 first hand!

 

Hear from the best - International, Local, Microsoft, Industry Experts and Customers - see the Speaker list and get to collaborate with hundreds of your fellow SharePoint enthusiasts - ask all your SharePoint questions!

 

Additional Training - Pre and Post event Get to the Point Training Workshops for intensive half day courses - an excellent chance to up skill in both 2007 and 2010 content.

Exhibitor area - Support our sponsors and see all the great products and talk to the experts - 5 gold, 9 silver and 7 bronze sponsors

 

June 16 and 17   Hilton, Sydney  

$650 ex GST (group discounts available)

www.sharepointconference.com.au

Monday, May 3, 2010

WSSOPS May update available

I have just posted up the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide (WSSOPS) subscriber update for May. Inside you’ll find updated information about uninstalling and reinstalling SharePoint on SBS 2008 as well as a new chapter on SharePoint Foundation 2010 security.

 

Also, don’t forget the CIAOPS email support group at:

 

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

 

which I am looking to build as a forum for information about SharePoint, productivity and cloud computing (as well as anything else related to the products and services of the CIAOPS). You’ll need a Yahoo Id which you can obtain from the above web site. Then you’ll be able to email through questions, answers and comments for everyone else on the list to see and provide feedback on.

 

So what’s coming in the June update for WSSOPS? Still early days but it is certainly going to have information about installing Office Web Apps, more information around SharePoint Foundation 2010 and most likely a detailed walk through of getting Search Server Express 2008 running on SBS 2008. Remember, this is only available to subscribers and for more information about that visit www.wssops.com.

 

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

WSSOPS turns two

I’m very proud to say that my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide (WSSOPS) has now turned two. It has certainly come a long way since that initial very rough release to the few foundation subscribers who were good enough to sign up back then. I certainly hope that their faith in what I have created has been justified.

 

There is also all the other subscribers who have come along over the years (and some who have now moved on). I thank you all for your support and hope that you have received value from what I have produced over the years. I continue to work hard every month to improve that value that you receive for your subscription.

 

I’d also like to thank Karl Palachuk from SMB Books who has provided me the opportunity of selling my Guide through his site. Due to his continued support, patronage and promotion I’m sure the Guide would not be as popular as it is now, especially outside Australia.

 

So where to now for the Guide? Well, from its initial focus on Windows SharePoint (WSS) and Search Server Express (SSX) the Guide has expanded to include information on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) and Windows Foundation Server 2010. Soon the Guide will include information about Microsoft Office Web Apps and BPOS SharePoint. As always I welcome any suggestions as to what people would like to see included.

 

As subscribers are aware, the Guide is more than just a tome of pages about SharePoint, it includes a DVD full of white papers, links, videos and other marketing material. It includes a free internet hosted demonstration SharePoint as well as a discount on support rates from the CIAOPS. As well, all subscribers gain free access to all of the CIAOPS webinars for their period of their subscription as well as any prior webcasts which have all been recorded. For a full list of benefits see www.wssops.com. I hope to keep improving these benefits in the future and welcome an suggestions people may have.

 

In creating the Guide I have also tried  to continue to produce a number of free resources for people who are interested in learning more about SharePoint. You can find free document downloads at http://www.slideshare.net/directorcia and free video tutorials at http://www.youtube.com/user/directorciaops. Recently, I also created a CIAOPS yahoo email list that allows anyone (once registered) to ask any questions or contribute on issues dealt with by the CIAOPS. More information about this group can be found in this blog post. I will be posting more information there this month and can hopefully encourage some really positive information around SharePoint, productivity and cloud computing (and anything else of interest).

 

So to the many, many people who have been supported of the Guide over the years I say thanks. I will continue to work hard to increase the information and the value that the Guide contains for subscribers going forward. I always welcome any comments or feedback so please let me know what’s on your mind via director@ciaops.com.

 

Finally, where’s the best place to keep up with Guide and what’s happening with Windows SharePoint? This blog of course!