Monday, December 31, 2007

'Twas the night before New Year

So did you miss me? Too bad, I'm back anyway! So what was the best thing that Santa brought me this year? Well, apart from the chocolate covered macadamia nuts (which by the way I suggest you don't eat for breakfast, because you'll regret it by morning tea), I think that Project Gotham Racing 4 is the stand out.

I've been a fan since PGR2 and really like the changes that they have made for PGR4. The real challenge now is the weather! It is certainly something different to be belting along doing almost 200K's in dense fog. Man you gotta watch out for those sharp corners. I also really like the concept of a calendar for tournaments and having to complete a few events to win the tournament. So far, I think this is probably the best XBox 360 game that I have played. Can I also mention the new tracks in Macau and Quebec? Those hill climbs are cool.

The good thing about driving games are they usually plenty simply to control. I will admit here and now that I can't really play those button mashing games very well. You know the kind - jump, spring, twist, shoot, dive, in one hundredth of a second etc after which the sequence usually ends in death anyway for me. Take Halo, for example, although not a major button mashing game there are still moments when you get surrounded and have no ammo and all you want to do is run away but I usually die before I find the right button sequence. At least with driving games I know that I'm going to hit the coming wall because I have been travelling too fast into the corner. Give me simply physics any day. Maybe that makes me old but I never said that I was any good at these games, I just said that I enjoyed playing them.

I also like the Xbox's ability to connect simply and easily to the Internet to upload your player profile and download demos and additional content. I enjoy playing games on the PC but with an Xbox it just so much easier, put the CD in, power up and play! Hopefully when I get enough practice at PGR4 I might even try racing with other humans (shock horror) online.

Hopefully soon we'll get back to some meaningful technical or business posts here but hey, New Year's day is still a public holiday the last time I checked. That means I've still got a few more hours of PGR4 before I have to bundy back to reality. Till then - CD in, Power on and ....

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the night before Christmas

Well, not quite, but soon boys and girls. Here's a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone out there and especially all those who read my blog (hi Mom). Seriously though, if you do read this blog on a regular or even semi-regular basis I'd like to hear from you when you get a chance. It doesn't have to be anything flash, just a simple "Hi" would suffice. If you do want to go into more detail about the good, the bad and the ugly of what I create, not only here but generally (online videos, documents, etc), then I'd love to hear your feedback. You never know if what you are doing is helping people so feedback (good and bad) is appreciated. So send your abuse to and if there is more good than bad feedback then I suppose I'll keep posting.

Over the holidays I'll hopefully be making some changes to Supportweb to improve its performance and reliability but news on that after I have successfully completed what I am planning to do (so I don't end up with egg on my face when it doesn't work). You'll now also notice that I've added a feed from Goodreads on the blog page to show you the books in my library to give you a better idea of where I accumulate all this useless information from. I like the idea behind the site and how it harnesses the power of the Internet to build a community. If you read a lot of books then I recommend you take a look and link up with my profile so I can see what people who read this blog read.

Again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all, have a safe holiday and keep tuned for more updates.

Robert Crane

Sunday, December 23, 2007

How/Why We Use SharePoint

Proud to announce that an article I wrote for the SMB Partner Community magazine is now available in the December / January issue. For those who don't currently subscribe to the magazine you can read it online by clicking here.

The article details the benefits we have found by implementing Sharepoint 2007 internally and how we are now better able to track things like phone support calls, supplier returns and more. There isn't a whole lot that Sharepoint 2007 can't do if you put your mind to it. It is just a pity that more customers and resellers just haven't seen the light on what this tool can really do to boost the productivity of their business.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Beatrice Mulzer (magazine editor) for the opportunity to write the article as well as Harry Brelesford for the tireless work he does for the SBS community through SMB Nation. I really hope that the article appeals to the readers of the magazine and that I get a further opportunity to write more articles for the benefit of SBS resellers worldwide.

As always, I'm happy to hear feedback from readers, both good and bad about the article or perhaps what you like to read in the future. Don't forget that you'll also find more of my documents right here in the Supportweb Document Library.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Under the radar

Had occasion to be in a bookshop today and was drawn to the computer section. Great, I thought, I'll see if I can find a good book on Sharepoint 2007. Suffice to say that sadly, there wasn't one.
There were two very ordinary books on Sharepoint 2003 and the third on Sharepoint 2007 was actually more about programming Sharepoint 2007 using .ASP and dotNet.
As the year draws to close I am asking myself more and more why small to medium businesses don't user Sharepoint. Firstly, I think most SMB businesses don't even know that Sharepoint exists, that if they have Small Business Server 2003 they probably alreday have Sharepoint and if not then it is free to download! Reason number two is simply tha fact that Microsoft don't market it very well at all. All their marketing is aimed at the enterprise end of town which kinda understands intranets and portals. Thirdly, most businesses are not willing to invest the time to learn the product. I hear it all the time, "Ah yes, that looks great but I'd rather stick with my three known menu items in Word thank you very much. That looks far too complicated to me".
So Sharepoint 2007 continues to fly under the radar. Maybe one day it will be seen as they immensely helpful tool that it is. I wonder whether the spreadsheet had this much trouble getting off the ground? "Ah yes, that looks all well and good but I really prefer writing things down with my trusty pencil and paper. Look I can even erase the data if I need. Can your fancy SPREADSHEET do that?"
It is immensely frustrating to try and get people to understand a tool that will really lead to major productivity benefits in their business. I can't begin to tell you how much time and effort Sharepoint saves in my business. A good example was this week when a client asked me to reconfigure a complex email fowarding setup in Exchange server. Now I didn't intially set this up so trying to work out what the hell was going on was very time consuming. However, once I had it all worked out I added all the details of the configuration to our customer specific knowledge base in Sharepoint 2007 so that when this configuration needs to be altered in thre future at least it will be much easier to work out where to start.
I know that the take up of Sharepoint 2007 isn't really going to pick up until Microsoft puts some more marketing effort behind the product. But, thinking out it, why should they as Windows Sharepoint Services is free? Why would Microsoft spend marketing dollars in promoting a free piece of software?
So it looks like a battle on all fronts. Firstly, to make customers aware of the product. Secondly, to make them actually understand the product and finally to encourage Microsoft to put some marketing muscle behind the product.
Hopefully as a great man once said - It always looks darkest before the dawn.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Microsoft Filter Pack

Bet you didn't know that Sharepoint 2007 doesn't index Office 2007 documents did you? Well, there is a bug that prevents indexing of the latest Microsoft Office documents. See here if you don't believe me!
Finally a solutions is available - Microsoft Filter Pack. The details about installing it on Windows Sharepoint Services 2007 are located here.
Finally, we can index Office 2007 documents!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Office Sharepoint Server 2007 training

Microsoft has release some training resources for Sharepoint Server. Now most of these are still applicable to Windows Sharepoint Services so they are well worth a look. There is a stand alone version which can simply be downloaded and installed on a machine. It includes documentation and videos which should improve its take up by users.
I'm still working my way through the content and will add some more comments about this Microsoft resource when I have completed all the modules.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's all about the information

As anyone who has read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber will tell you the value of any business is not what the owner believes it to be worth but what someone else would pay for it. In this respect it is important that as much of the information about a business and how it does business is documented in a meaningful way.

I believe that is where a tool like Sharepoint can really assist since it is not only flexible and easy to use but it is also free. Read my recent thinking on the matter in the following document, which can also be found in the Supportweb Document Libraries.

Sharepoint 2007 and Outlook 2007 video now available

Probably the final video I'll do before Christmas (I think anyway). This video focuses on the integration between Sharepoint 2007 and Outlook 2007 in three key areas. Firstly, the ability to link document libraries allowing the use of Sharepoint document libraries offline. Secondly, the linking of calendars means that event information between Outlook and Sharepoint can be viewed in a single instance. Finally, most parts of Outlook are RSS enabled, which means you only have to subscribe via RSS to view the information making it easier to see what has changed recently.

To view the video directly on You Tube click here, otherwise go to our Video - Links area to view all our video presentation.

As always we welcome any feedback or suggestion you may have on how we can improve our offerings.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Office 2007 Service Pack now available

Office 2007 service pack 1 is now available. Click here to download. There is also a service pack for the Office 2007 compatability pack as well I believe. If I can locate that I will add the link here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My BS warning is flashing

Seems to me that everyone you talk to these days is flat out. Problem is guys, I just don't believe you.
Ok, once in a while I can understand but every bloody time I talk to you? I doubt it. Geeze, if you are really that busy it tells me that you aren't very good at managing your time and that you are probably wasting it doing stupid things your not supposed to be doing but you do them any way just so you say that you are busy and look important to others.
Someone once told me that they associate being 'flat out' with being successful. Maybe, but to me if someone is always 'flat out' it tells me they are inefficient, they aren't working on improving things they are just doing things the same old way. If you had any brains I'd think you would say, hey maybe I'm so busy because I shouldn't be doing some stuff or maybe I need to find a way to do this stuff in less time. From there improvements spring forth - surely?
Now, after speaking with a few people about this issue I have confirmed that I am definately from a different planet because everyone thinks being 'flat out' is good. me a person who is in control of what ever they are doing (but can go 'flat out' when required but not constantly) is far more successful.
But hey, as I said, I'm from a different planet!

Tell me why the HELL I need this patch on my server???

KB934238 reads :
On non-English versions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP, some text .....
Oh sorry, I now see, that's right, Australia is non-English, D'oh, how silly of me not to notice that.
Geeze Microsoft give me a break. Why do I need this update?

Is this the beginning of the end?

No not of the world as we know it but of the small SMB reseller. Microsoft appears to have answered Google's online document creation ability with :
Looks like you can run and store a whole lot of standard Microsoft applications and documents on an Internet server. Not exactly sure just yet, have only just signed up, more details when I know.
Why is this the beginning of the end? You tell me a customer who is going to buy applications if they can run them from the Internet? Especially, when they are all maintained on the server somewhere on the Internet. Especially when you can run these applications from anywhere you have access to the Internet. Especially ... (and the list goes on)
So why does a small business need an IT person now? Why do they even need an office? Sure, it may take some time to become popular but my guess is more and more switched on people (read 'younger' generation) will embrace this whole heartedly. They now have an even greater reason to ask their reseller 'Why do I need you?', if they can get to the Internet they can get to their data AND applications. So why the hell do I need a server when I can store everything on the Internet? Even if it costs me something per month it is going to be cheaper and easier than maintaining a server based network - right?
I agree there are some counter points but they are becoming weaker by the day. Mark my words, the beginning of the end is now here for the small SMB reseller.

Office SharePoint Designer 2007 Service Pack 1 available

Sharepoint Designer 2007 also now has a service pack, which you can download by clicking here. As yet, haven't tested this so I would advise people to hang off a while and see what issue may arise.
What idiot wants to be bleeding edge? Well, someone's gotta do it ;-)

Windows Sharepoint V3.0 Service Pack 1 now out

Yes, it is finally here. You download it by clicking here but I would strongly suggest you hang off and see what happens when other idiots like me install it! Just gotta get throught the 14 pages of documentation on how to deploy this.
This time :
- I am going to read the documentation
- I am going to a full image backup
- I am going to do a content backup
before I even attempt this. As they say once bitten, twice shy.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A first look at Sharepoint wikis

Want to know what is a wiki is in Sharepoint V3.0? Well we have released a new YouTube video that will give you an introduction to this new feature of Sharepoint V3.0. To view the video simply click here or go to the Video - Links portion of this Supportweb site.

This presentation will show you how to create and edit documents in a wiki and well as demonstrate the power of wikis to business in things like knowledge bases.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

So you want to install Sharepoint V3.0 onto SBS 2003?

Let me show you the ways.

Well more accurately let the article I just created tell you. You can find it here in the Supportweb Document Library as free download. The article takes a brief look at the different options and considerations you need to make before installing Sharepoint V3.0 onto a Small Business Server 2003.

If you don't already know then you shouldn't do an in-place upgrade (it breaks things if you do), you also have the option to install the Sharepoint into SQL if you want (although the "official" Microsoft procedure doesn't mention that).

The articles looks at the installation of Sharepoint V3.0 on SBS from a reseller or systems implementer's perspective, however hopefully this doesn't mean that it won't have value for other attempting this kind of installation. I also mention some of the benefits the Microsoft Search Server 2008 will bring to SMB space given its ability to not only index Sharepoint content but also file shares.

As always I appreciate any feedback on this article or any of the material that I create. Also, if you are interested in something specific them also let me know since I like to create material that is of benefit to "real" people.

Sharepoint Document libraries - Part 3

You'll find our latest video on Sharepoint Document libraries now here on YouTube. It shows you what is under the covers of the settings menu option in document libraries. This menu allows you to do things like changes the title and description of the library, manage the permission and RSS settings and configuration. The settings menu also allows you to configure columns and views.

For the time being, this will conclude our look at Sharepoint document libraries.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Can I just say these people still don't understand e-commerce

Well it is coming up to Christmas time and the "easiest" way to go shopping is the via the net right? Let me just show you how even big suppliers don't understand e-commerce.

Firstly, I wanted to buy some DVD's and CD's from a major retail chain. I login with my credentials so it knows who I am and records my purchases. Nowhere can I see how many "bonus points" I have with this supplier on the page, which would be nice. So I select what I'm after, add it to my shopping cart and then head to the checkout. After putting my credit card details in I'm now taken to "Verified by Visa". Here I have to put in a "Verified by Visa" password that I have no idea what it is. Sure I set it up but this is the only site that I've seen that uses "Verified by Visa". Not having my password means that I am unable to complete my purchase. So I request my password (which terminates the checkout process anyway). I have to wait a few minutes and check my email for the details, then I go back in and re-order everything, put in my 'Verified by Visa' password and complete the transaction (and only get shown my bonus credits at checkout). When I receive a confirmation of my purchase on the web site I also receive an unknown pop-up that gets blocked by my browser. Hmmm... I wonder what the pop up says and if it is important? I take a screen shot of my completed transaction details because I know what is about to happen next. I enable pop ups in the browser so I can see what the message and is and surprise, surprise my completed transaction details have disappeared from the original browser window because the window was reset when I enabled the pop up.

Issues :

1. Why, oh why do I have to jump so many hurdles to give you people my money? Why, oh why can't I check my 'Verified by Visa' password BEFORE I have to enter it? Why, oh why can't I elect to not use 'Verified by Visa' if I so desire? Sure there is security risk but I just want to pay my money and get out. Dumb.

2. Why is the site using pop ups? Geeze fellas these things went out with Internet Explorer 4.0. The only things that use pop ups these days are annoying ads and spyware. Every browser these days blocks pop ups by default so everyone is going to have the same problem of losing their transaction info if they view the pop up. Was there are warning prior to processing that I should enable pop ups? No. Dumber.

Next, I went to purchase some books. I locate the first book I want and add it to my basket which conveniently displays. Ok boys, now how the hell do I get back and make more purchases? I scout around the page and see no indication of a return link. So where's the encouragement for me to buy more? Finally I find that if I click on the company's logo in the top left of the screen I go back to the main site. basket now shows that it has 0 items. I click back on my basket and find that it does in fact still have my initial item. I again return to the main page and make more purchases. When complete I proceed to the checkout where I am asked for my loyalty card number. Yes, I do have one of those. I enter the number and it says "invalid number or password". Hmmmm.... ok I'll request my password (again) and guess what it was correct! So what's the problem here? After much stuffing around I work out that the number I need to enter must not include any dashes ('-'), I must just type the number in straight. Where the hell did it tell me that? Bloody hell I just wasted 5 minutes trying to working out what I was doing wrong when all you needed to do was tell me that I should only use the numbers on my loyalty card. Mr(s) supplier, you have either just wasted my valuable time and gotten pissed me off or I have wasted time I could have spent shopping for more product on your site.


1. Navigation. Has anyone else except the snow boarding web designers and poor suffering customers ever looked at the shopping basket page? Clearly not, since it must be so bloody obvious to press the logo in the top left of the screen to return to the main page to purchase more (Yeah right).

2. If you give me a card with a number separated by dashes I am going to assume that when I'm asked for that number you want it exactly how it is printed (ie with the dashes). If not, then pay me the courtesy of telling me this rather than wasting my time and pissing me right off. Dumbest.

In the end, sure I made my purchases and sure maybe I should be more forgiving but take a look at the check process differences between US and Australian sites. The big US sites really make it easy and want me back, these Australian sites just piss me off so I would rather go into the store. C'mon guys get the fundamentals right. Set you sites up to make it EASY for the customer to buy, stop putting all these barriers up. You complain about the lack on online sales but have you EVER looked at the check out process through the eyes of real consumer? I doubt it, I doubt it and that is plain stupid.

High CPU usage on the Trend security server

Having issues with high processor utilization or :

•It takes a long time to open applications

•High network bandwidth usage occurs

•Programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook slow down

Then the following article from Trend may help

It involves the installation of a hot fix.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blocked file types in SharePoint

Any files trying to be uploaded into Sharepoint V3.0 with the following file extensions will be blocked by default :


This list will apply not only to the uploading of documents, but also to extensions changes of documents once they are in a document library. So if you have .zip file in a document library and try to unzip that file into a document library and the .zip contains a .exe file then that document won't extract.

To configure blocked file types:

  1. Go to Sharepoint 3.0 Central Administration.
  2. Select Operations page.
  3. Select Blocked File Types under Security Configuration.
  4. Modify the list to include or exclude the file extensions required.
  5. Click OK to save and close.

SharePoint V3.0 file locations

When you install SharePoint V3.0 onto SBS 2003 using the standard "side-by-side" installation you will find the following locations in use :

<install drive>:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\12\Data\Applications\<instance ID>\Config - contains global configuration files used by the search engine, like language specific noise word and thesaurus files along with the thesaurus schema XML file.

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\SERVER12\Server Setup Controller - critical setup files that might be needed later fro re-running certain aspects of the setup and configuration wizard.

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\BIN - executables like stsadm and prescan.exe

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS - administrative pages address by the _layouts relative path on the Sharepoint sites.

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\IMAGES - is the _images realtive path for images addressable anywhere in Sharepoint sites.

SharePoint V3.0 databases

When you install Sharepoint V3.0 onto SBS 2003 using the recommended installation from Microsoft you will end up installing the WMSDE database that was mentioned in a previous post. This is typically referred to as the <SERVER>\Microsoft##SSEE SQL instance. Now of course you could manipulate this from the command line using the osql commands but if there is GUI interface why no use that? If you download the Microsoft SQL Management Studio and install that you can use a GUI to interact with the WMSDE Sharepoint databases.
So what do these databases do ? Well :
  • Sharepoint_AdminContent_<GUID> stores the information related to lists, document libraries, tasks and so so on of the Central Administration site.
  • Sharepoint_Config_<GUID> stores information about the configuration of your Sharepoint farm. Things like servers and their role are saved here. If the farm involves a multi server environment (with web front ends, content and search servers) then how the whole farm is configured is held here. BY default each server in the farm checks with the configuration database every 30 seconds.
  • WSS_Content contains information related to lists, document libraries, tasks, wikis, blogs, structure details, security information and so on for your Sharepoint user site.
  • WSS_Search_<Server> contains search metadata, history log, search log and so on that is used for the inbuilt Sharepoint search functionality.
Remember there is only a limited amount of things you can do with the SSEE instance but the GUI certainly makes it easier and now at least you have some idea as to what each database does!

SharePoint V3 databases

When you install SharePoint V3 on SBS2003 in the manner recommended by Microsoft (side by side installation), SharePoint will install Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (Windows) known as WMSDE.

The MSDE version that ships with Windows SharePoint Services is called as Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (Windows)-(WMSDE). WMSDE and has no storage limits unlike MSDE.

When you install Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services on a single server using the defaults, you have an installation that uses Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (Windows) (WMSDE) for your databases.

Some of the WMSDE Limitations as follows.
1) Cannot use WMSDE for web farm setup.
2) WMSDE overcomes limitations that MSDE has (like 2GB size limit, number of simultaneous connections). However you can't use it for anything else, because you can only use it for a specified signed schema (WSS Schema).
3) No Full Text search.
4) The instance of WMSDE installed can be used only by WSS.

Also, no matter where you specify the installation of Sharepoint you'll find that WMSDE installs under the Windows directory, which typically is on the C: drive of your server. Now this drive may not have enough space if you are planning a large Sharepoint environment so beware as WMSDE, from what we can determine, has no database limits. This means that the Sharepoint database could in theory grow and fill the entire C: drive.

If you are looking for the location of the Sharepoint V3 content databases that have been installed with WMSDE you'll find them at :


This will be the case if you have SBS 2003 standard or premium and simply accept the default installation options for Sharepoint V3. If you have SBS 2003 Premium, that includes some version of SQL, then you are able to have the Sharepoint content databases reside on the SQL server, which typically will be on the data drive of your server and not the system drive. However, to achieve this configuration you need to do thing differently from the way Microsoft recommends.

More on that later.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Search Server Express 2008 running on SBS 2003

We now have Search Server Express 2008 RC running on a Small Business Server R2 Premium. After installing Windows Sharepoint 2007 we installed Search Server Express 2008. Now because it is SBS 2003 R2 Premium (which includes SQL Workgroup 2005) we decided to install the Sharepoint databases there. During the Search Server Express 2008 installation it seems to look where Sharepoint is installed and if it is at least on SQL Server 2005 Express or better it installs its own databases in the same location. so in our case we now have Windows Sharepoint 2007 and Search Server 2008 Express both configure to use SQL 2005 workgroup databases.

Now it did seem to take quite a while to complete the configuration of Search Server Express 2008 on the SBS machine, but we have generally noticed this to be standard. So don't worry, Search Server Express does take a while to complete its installation. With the software installed we created a data share and dumped a whole lot of files in there. Next we scheduled Search Server to index not only Sharepoint but also this data share.

Once the schedule has run we could now successfully search both the server data share and Sharepoint. Impressive to say the least. Now that we were a bit hypo with this success we decided to install Search Server Express onto our production SBS server. Whoa there....we then remembered that Search Server Express 2008 still isn't production software yet! Over the years we have learnt the hard way that you SHOULDN'T install beta software onto production machines.

Dang, we'll just have to wait for the final code to be released but the more we see the more we love Microsoft Search Server Express 2008.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Talk about a D'Oh moment

Recently restored a server using Shadowprotect and had issues with the Active Directory upon reboot. The error said that Active Directory couldn't be loaded. Hmmm...Ok so we restore from a different image and end up with the same error. Ok, this doesn't make sense, the image worked not long ago and nothing since then has changed. Ah ha, because the image is >60 days the Active Directory is now too old to load with the current date.

Now back in the Novell days you could set the 'epoch' time to the current time and get around the issue. So we started looking at which utility to use to reset this in Active Directory. Strange, why can't we find anything. This could be a problem, until someone pointed out that couldn't we simply set the server date back in the BIOS, restore the data, boot and change the date. D'Oh, how stupid are we??

We did this, changed the date and it all worked - geeze aren't we stupid? So after we changed the date, we updated the server with the latest patches and re-imaged. Image how much time we would have wasted if someone didn't suggest simply to change the date? Days!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Oh dear Microsoft

Ever wondered why Microsoft Office 2007 documents didn't seem to appear in the search results of Windows Sharepoint Services? Hmmm, turns out, according to Microsoft "This problem occurs because a 2007 Office IFilter is not installed".

Is there a solution? Well yes and no. Yes in the fact that there is this KB article, and no in the fact that it involves installing Word and hacking the registry of the Sharepoint server. Now we're not too sure whether this happens on EVERY Windows Sharepoint installation or just in some circumstances but we can tell you that if it does the solution is sure nasty.

I think that perhaps it is a good idea to wait a while until Microsoft releases a proper patch for this problem. In the meantime we'll have to check to see whether all our Sharepoint sites are affected.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More than 30,000 views

We've cracked more than 30,000 views of our technology videos on YouTube. That works out to an average of almost 850 per video we have posted (currently we have 34 videos available). Our most popular video is Getting started with Virtual PC, which has been viewed almost 4,000 times.

You'll find all our videos at As always we welcome any feedback or suggestions you on how to improve our offerings. also, if you would like to see us cover a particular topic in our upcoming video also please contact us.

Thanks to all those people who have taken the time to watch our videos, provide ratings and feedback. We hope that you'll continue to watch what we upload.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WSUS causing SBS reporting issues

Seems like some update that WSUS pulls down automatically has caused an issue with the SBS reporting. We have seen something similar when there have been OEM issues with WSUS. For more information we suggest you take a look at the official SBS Blog posting. which should give you everything you need to know.

The solution appears to be that under WSUS 3.0 you force a resync from the console. since this can't be done with the standard WSUS 2.0 on SBS 2003 R2, the best bet appears to be simply to wait for WSUS to resync with the server. Admittedly, it is a bit of fingers-crossed scenario but for the time being their doesn't appear to be much choice.

In all honesty, can't say that we like or use WSUS that much at all. There are far better solutions from third parties out there. True, you have to pay fro them but when you look at the additional functionality and flexibility it is well worth the investment.

Also reading Susan Bradley's blog, seems that SBS R2 installations are not the only ones experiencing issues. See the following Computerworld article for the impact on enterprise users. And all of this the day before patch Tuesday - Yeah WSUS !!!

The Microsoft WSUS have now posted an official response to the WSUS issue. You can find it here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Home server offerings are coming

Wanna see what people like HP will be offering Microsoft Home Server on? Click here for a multimedia demo of the Media Smart Server from Hewlett Packard.

Must admit that box looks really sexy, which it needs to be if it is going to succeed as a consumer item but will it succeed? Do most consumers really want the added complication of a sever at home? Don't they really just want more disk space to save all their junk on? Today's NAS (Network Area Storage) devices are becoming more sophisticated yet simpler to use because they fulfil just one need.
Now, sure there'll be a market for home servers for the geekier consumers but on a wide scale? Hmmm..not so convinced yet. Now, I could certainly be wrong about this but I don't see as much potential as some of the suppliers see (knowing the consumers that I know).
Don't get me wrong, I certainly believe it is only a matter time before every home has its own server and perhaps this is just the first attempt at that offering. Much like the early days of Small Business Server, there will be plenty of challenges but you gotta get into the market before someone else does.
It will very interesting to see the prices of these devices when they hit our shores. I wonder whether they will make in time for Christmas? You gotta think so.

The day the guns fell silent


On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month 1918, the guns finally fell silent to mark the end of the First World War.

It was a conflict that involved Australian forces and resulted in almost 60,000 killed and 153,000 wounded, most in the battlefields of northern France and Belgium. It is hard today for us to imagine the shocking conditions and strain that these men went through in the defence of their allies. Sadly, apart from Gallipoli, we don't seem to truly provide such men with the recognition for their sacrifice that they deserve.

On this Remembrance Day we encourage you to stop and remember these men and all those who have died for their country in the vain hope that their conflict will be the war to end all wars. For those interested in the contribution of our troops during World War One in Europe, please see our web site at

Lest We Forget.

Restoring with Shadowprotect video now available

We've added a new video that details the basics of restoring information using Shadowprotect on Small Business Server. You can view the video directly on YouTube by clicking here.
The video will cover the basics of restoring a single file using the Windows interface or restoring a whole volume by booting into the Shadowprotect environment directly from their bootable CD.
Look out for additional videos on Shadowprotect coming soon that will cver topics such as: complete server recovery, Exchange recovery, etc. As always, we appreciate any comments or feedback on what we have created.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Search Server Express - first impressions

We have managed to get Search Server Express installed on a test Sharepoint machine and we admit that we are a little disappointed. Why? Well, we thought that Search Server would integrate directly with Sharepoint. It doesn't. It basically creates a seperate (Sharepoint-like) site on the machine that is used purely for searching.
This means that the existing Sharepoint integrated search functionality stays as is (from what we see so far). However, the Search service does search the Sharepoint content directly and you can extend it to search things like web sites, file locations and public folders. This is where the real power of the application is going to come into its own.
Imagine setting up Search Server to crawl not only your Sharepoint but also every data on your server automatically! This will be a godsend to finally be able to locate all those documents strewn out across server hard disks.
Apart from this what we like so far about Search Server is the fact that it is easy to configure, simple to add crawling locations as well as perform maintenance tasks like launching a full crawl. The Search Server admin site has plenty of information about the searching status and configuration which was alwasy something that was hidden in Sharepoint.
So initially we were disappointed the it didn't integrate directly with Sharepoint but the more we use it the more we like it. Can't wait for the RTM version now.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sharepoint Search Server Express

One of the really cool features of Sharepoint has always been its ability to search through all the content on your site. Now Windows Sharepoint Services (ie the free edition) did a great job but not as much as the full blown Microsoft Sharepoint Server (MOSS, ie not free). The MOSS product search had far more functiinality and things like "did you mean", "sounds like" and so on.
Well now Microsoft are making a version of this Enterprise Search available for FREE yes FREE. It's called Search Server 2008 Express and you can find out more info by clicking here.
It looks really good and should be an excellent add on to Windows Sharepoint Services, however on the initial reading we think it may have trouble if installed with Sharepoint 3 on SBS. We will confirm this as we are currently in the process of test the Release Candidate which you can download.
We'll post more information about what we find soon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Small Business Server course starts this week

This Thursday 8th of November is the start of our 3 week Introduction to Small Business Server 2003 course to be held at Macquarie Community College.
It's not to late to enrol if you are interested. For more information about the course following the link :
The course will give you all the information you need about Small Business Server as well as the basics of setting up a server and getting users and workstation connected.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Some more Facebook fiddling

Been looking at what else one can do with Facebook, especially say promoting this blog. Even though the address details are posted on my Facebook page it is unlikley that people will click.
Now there are plenty of "blogging" applications in Facebook but which one???? Interestingly I came across this post from Joel Olsen's blog -
Your Posts on Blog friends and real social networking features to promote them
Blog friends is a facebook app allows you to add your blog posts and see your friends posts and a whole lot more.  The coolest thing is when you add this app, add your blog you can see your recent blog entries, your friends blog entries, and even your friends friends posts up to a maximum of 20 (default of ~5).  The next layer of coolness is your ability to say what you're interested in, so it then tries to pull in posts that you're interested in.  So let's say you add SharePoint to your list.  Now across your own network of friends 2-3 layers deep you're getting the latest blog posts.  Then in your news feed you can see who clicks on what blog posts.  Powerful.  This is one of my favorite features.  People can then also comment on your blog posts right through facebook.  Power of social networking.  Just going to the app group I see that I have 37 friends who also have this app.  Wish it told me how many friends they have that use this app. :)

Some tips:

  • click on "more»" next to blog post titles to read the full post without leaving your profile
  • click at the foot of posts to share them with any of your facebook friends
  • visit your Home page to see which posts your friends are reading
  • keep your Interests up-to-date to get an even better service
  • By the way to add bloglines or any of the other blog apps on facebook, login go to your profile click on applications in the left hand corner.  Then click browse, search for blog.  Here's some of what you'll find including descriptions clipped directly from facebook.
    Live Blog is simple and easy to use blog, yet introduces powerful features like setting your mood, location, and music. Supports HTML and Youtube videos. The whole entry is displayed on your profile. Works in both the left and right sides!
    Flog lets you quickly and easily integrate your existing blog into your Facebook profile. Get more exposure for your blog and share your content with friends. Join the Flogosphere!
    HotBlog is the most awesome blog app available on facebook! It looks great in both the left and right areas of your profile, and HTML is allowed! Blog with photos, stylized text, and more in just a few clicks.
    Blog Friends Find great blog posts—sociably! Blog Friends taps your interests and social network to bring you just the blog posts that *you* want to read.
    Blog Link Put a screenshot of your blog on your profile. Perfect for Xanga, Blogspot, MySpace, or any other site. Get more visitors!
    Blog RSS Feed Reader Great way to drive traffic to your personal or corporate blog from your Facebook profile. Customise the application with your own image, description, published dates and more. Also sends emails to your friends when your blog is updated.
    Feed Friend  Subscribe to your friends' blog feeds within Facebook. You can even display them in your profile! If you write your own blog, you can include a 'subscribe' link under your profile picture.
    myBlog is an application that displays the contents of your blog, using an RSS Feed, on your Facebook profile. myBlog will also send updates to all your friends whenever you add a new post.
    So I went in and added a few of these to my Facebook page just to get some idea and I must admit that I am pretty impressed! The more I look at all this Facebook stuff the more potential I see for it. Sure it needs a bit of "business-tuning" but I'm sure that ain't far away.
    So if you've got a Facebook account then look me up.

    Shadowprotect on SBS video

    We have just completed our latest YouTube video. This video looks at the process of backing up using Storagecraft's Shadowprotect. This product takes scheduled image backups of your server that allow you to qucikly and easily restore either a whol file or a whole server much quicker than traditional methods like tapes.
    Click here to view the video on YouTube. This first video looks at the process of creating Shadowprotect backups. The next video will look how to restore information from these backups.
    We recommend Shadowprotect to all clients with server machines. Shadowprotect also has a desktop edition which will take constant image backups of desktops as well. Sure a desktop machine may not be as important as a server but it still takes a long time to run up if the hard disk fails. That is why we have implemented Shadowprotect on all our internal workstations so we can get these up and running quickly in the event of a failure.
    Please let us know what you think of this video (the audio is a little poor, we know) and watch for the next one coming real soon.

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    Dot Net issues

    Having issues installing DotNet updates via Windows Update? Try:

    Run cleanup tool:

    and select remove (cleanup) .NET Framework 1.1 from the dropdown list.

    Download the .Net framework 1.1 redistributable package from here

    and install it.

    Download the .Net Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1
    and install it.

    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    Popularity of Facebook

    Been thinking more about the popularity of Facebook. In one of the previous posts I was proposing that the reason is the fact that it allows non-geeks to create and maintain a web site. I now also think that it goes beyond this. A big part of the appeal is that you can add "applications" to your site that allows other to interact with you.
    For example you could add a "game" application to your site and invite other to compete. Your web site is then updated with your gaming results. A bit like a medal of honour you could say.
    The foundation of Facebook's popularity is clearly the "social" aspect. The ability to interact with people you know or have met anywhere you have internet access.
    Now is it such a stetch to imagine this sort of application being recast into a business networking environment? I'm sure we all understand the potential issues but for a moment let's dwell on the possibilities. If you created a site that was your business and then invited your customers to link to your site. They could post their testimonials up there and you could interact with them directly. As they developed their own corporate site you could see if there maybe anyone else they know that could use your services.
    The above is just one example that springs to mind. The more you think about the application to businesses the more you see that it will only be a matter of time before something like this emerges.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Second shot Microsoft exams

    If you want to get a Microsoft certification under your belt then if you register here, take the exam before January 30, 2008 and heaven forbid, not pass then you are entitled to retake the exam again for FREE.
    Having done a few Microsoft exams I know that some can be quite tricky. It generally isn't that you don't know the material, it is that you don't know exactly how Microsoft wants the questions answered. My advice is that if you are unsure then try and examine the question again from Microsoft's perspective (ie which option requires the implementation of more Microsoft software?).
    Now with this free double shot you should have no problems getting through, even if it takes two goes!

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    SharePoint and Social Networking (Business)

    My last post about Facebook was leading onto my thoughts of using SharePoint for social networking. Seems like the SharePoint team has beaten me to the punch with the following post on their blog.
    Now I think that social networking is much easier using MOSS than it is Windows SharePoint Services but I still maintain that the fundamental reason Facebook is so popular is that it allows 'non-geeks' to create their own web pages and then have other contribute. I certainly feel that SharePoint could be used in a similar capacity if it given some thought.
    The ability to easily create and link pages as well as save content is probably the greatest strength of SharePoint. Inside Saturn Alliance I use SharePoint extensively to capture all that information that either doesn't get saved or ends up spread across many mediums. If I need something additional I just go in and create it. If I need to modify something I just go and modify and then boom it is up and working.
    The power of the technology is not the product it is what it is capable of doing. People see the ability of networking with other in Facebook, to me, exactly the same is possible in Sharepoint.

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Thoughts on Facebook

    All you hear about these days in the popular media is Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. We are also noticing a sharp rise in Facebook usage in many businesses whose Internet we monitor. Clearly more and more people are into Facebook.
    Interestingly, we also heard about a company that has reversed it's policy on blocking Facebook because it wants to attract "younger" employees. Interesting eh? No Facebook access no attraction to work for you.
    This got us to thinking, why is Facebook so popular? Could it be that these sort of sites allow anyone to create a page on the Internet about their most interesting topic (ie them)? Now, geeks like us have been doing web pages for years. If you want to see the earliest copy of our original web site click here. I think our first eb page went up in 1996 over 10 years ago and we remember how chuffed we were that we 'had a page on the Internet'.
    Could it be that Facebook and MySpace provide a simple means for non-geeks to post information on the Internet so they too can be proud of being part of the revolution we know as the Internet? We're not sure and we don't have enough Facebook friends yet to really understand this yet.
    What interests us most is how this phenomenon will be extended to businesses. Apart from the all the issue but imagine a Business Facebook site where business could go and post information about themselves, quickly and easily. They could also link to their customers who could endorse theire products and services and so on. We can see it happening.
    However, the key to coverting the existing success of Facebook and MySpace to businesses lies in understanding the appeal of these site at its most fundamental.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Network basics course start tomorrow

    It is still not too late to sign up for our Network basics course held at Macquarie community college. Click here for more information and to sign up.
    The course will provide you with a good grounding on the necessary components and technologies required to network machines together.

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Things should be back to normal now

    Phew. Finally, our SharePoint sites should now be back to "normal". Because we basically re-installed SharePoint on both servers we needs to add back the ability to index and search Adobe documents ( ie PDF's).
    By default SharePoint will do Microsoft files like Word and Excel but to index PDF's then you have to install some software from Adobe, then make some configuration changes (read registry hacks) and finally do a full re-index of the site to incorporate all the existing PDF information in SharePoint.
    We have now completed all those steps so this SharePoint ( ) and our internal SharePoint site should now be back to exactly the point before the application of the recent patch.
    In thanks I'd like to offer a quick prayer : Our Father who aren't in heaven, please don't let this happen again. PLEASE.

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Lessons learnt from recent SharePoint crash

    Here's a bit of retrospective of what we learn't after teh recent Sharepoint issues:
    1. Don't be adventurous with patches, let some other poor smuck find the problem first. Wait at least 7 days before applying any patch to a system and make sure that you keep across other keep people in the industry like Wayne, Vlad and Susan (to name but a few). THese people are likley to find the problem first or have others come to them.
    2. Make sure that you have a backup and the backup works. We have 2 backups, one is a full server backup using NT backup and the second is a Sharepoint data backup using STSADM. The full backup failed to restore TWICE so we had to revert to the Sharepoint backup. Problem with this is that it takes time to build up a suitable machine onto which you can recover Sharepoint ( Service Packs, Templates and the like). Since most of our Sharepoint stuff is virtualized we will ensure that we have a more up to date backup machine ready in the future. It is also probably a good idea to take an image of the server regularly using something like ShadowProtect. This means in the event of a disaster you can at least roll back to a previous point pretty quickly.
    3. Realise the point at which you need to call Microsoft Product Support is probably much earlier than you think. If you don't work with thi stuff day and day out then a call to PSS could have you potentially hours and hours of wasted time. If you don't have access to PSS then again consult others in the community since they are all usually most willing to help. Also, keep in mind that it may take a while for any support to actually get hands onto the problem. In our case it took 24 hours, which was frustrating but in th end we were more than happy with the result.
    4. All our Sharepoint sites (both internally and externally) DON'T run on SBS. Why? Well, we reckon SBS is the heart of our network and doesn't need to be strained with additional load when we can achieve the same result using other means (read - user Virtual PC). If Sharepoint had been on our SBS it would have caused an even more major distruption. Since it wasn't we could focus on other things while working independently on the Sharepoint issue. We acknowledge that in some places this is not possible but if you can, generally host Sharepoint somewhere else on the network.
    5 Understand the fact that if Sharepoint or IIS is down you can't access ANY of your data! Let me repeat that ANY OF YOUR DATA. This is a single point of failure and admittedly fairly unique but if your business DEPENDS on Sharepoint day in and day out then you need to take steps to reduce the downtime or otherwise you'll have plenty of staff twiddling their thumbs.
    If we think of more we'll post but hopefully everything is now looking ok.

    Saturday, October 13, 2007

    SharePoint Document Libraries video - Part 2

    Click here for our latest YouTube video that covers the creation of views in document libraries for Sharepoint V3.

    The day you don't read other people's blogs

    This week was Microsoft's usual patch Tuesday. In the swag of updates was one for Sharepoint KB934525. Foolishly we installed that on both our internal and external Sharepoint site and broke both of them.
    If we had read Wayne's blog entry or Vlad's then at least we would have been aware of the potential problem and chosen not to install the patch. Typically, we applied the patch before check our RSS reader and got burned.
    After some initial too and frowing we tried Vlad's suggested fix but that didn't solve the issue. Seems that the reason for this was because we had installed the Sharepoint Groupboard that also caused problems.
    Ok now things are getting serious with our two production Sharepoint sites down, time to call Microsoft Product Support. Now as a certified partner we were disappointed with the slow response to the issue. It took a whole day before we got anyone from Microsoft to get 'hands-on' with our problems.
    In the meantime we attempted to do complete server restore of our internal Sharepoint site (since we have backups) and that failed (twice). The server restored but we got all sorts fo wierd errors. So not wanting to waste more time on that we built a new server and did a Sharepoint data restore (since we backup Sharepoint data as well seperately). A day later we had our internal Sharepoint working again just a Microsoft started working on our external Sharepoint site.
    While Microsoft continued to work on the server in background we started the process of building yet another server in case we needed to do another Sharepoint restore for our extenal site. Watching the process that the Microsoft Tech had to go through there was NO WAY we would have ever been able to recover from the problems ourselves.
    Anyway, after a full two days we finally had both Sharepoint sites working. After an initial frustration at waiting for service we have nothing but praise for our Microsoft Tech who stayed on the job and keep us up to date and then hung around after we left for the day to make sure it was all working after hours.
    There are still a few bugs to iron out in the recovered site but as you can see (if you are reading this) then the site is operational. We'll post again shortly with some lesson learned about this experience but all we can say about KB934525 is DON'T DO IT unless you know that it may TOTALLY BREAK Sharepoint V3.0!

    Monday, October 8, 2007

    SharePoint video series

    We've just created the first in a series of new videos that will focus on SharePoint 2003. The first series of videos will focus on Document Libraries in SharePoint.
    To view the video click here, otherwise go to our general YouTube homepage at
    Each video in the series will delve deeper and deeper into the workings of SharePoint 2003. It is a constraint that YouTube only currently allows a maximum upload of only 10 minutes. We do appreciate that there are other options like Google Video but for the time being we'll stick with YouTube simply because of its popularity.

    Saturday, October 6, 2007

    Master Chief if you please

    Been playing Halo 3 on the Xbox recently and can recommend it. Never was a great fan of previous Halo games and only decided to take a look when a relative bought the game for themselves.
    After initially letting them burn themselves out on it I snuck it away and played it myself and became pretty wrapped up in the not only the action but also the story. Unlike other games I've played it is pretty easy to play (I ain't too good on button mashing style games) and has a great flow so you don't get bogged down too much.
    I think that Microsoft will have a major hit on its hands with Halo 3. Besides it being a great game you gotta see the graphics WOW is all I can say.

    Monday, October 1, 2007

    The Microsoft Office Fluent user interface video

    Wanna see what the new Office interface actually looks like? Maybe you or your customers have heard some bad things about the interface? Well with this video at least you can judge for yourself. Click here to be taken to the video page and then click on the Play Video button.
    In our experience the new interface does cause some issues for traditional Office menu users but if they are willing to embrace the change then generally they all agree that the new interfac actually makes them more productive.

    Friday, September 28, 2007

    Test drive SharePoint

    One of the best ways to learn SharePoint (WSS) is to take a test drive. Office Online has provided a test environment to use online. All you have to do is click a few buttons and you can play around with a practice site in your browser.

    To get to the test environment:

    1. It says test drive the 2007 Microsoft Office release, but SharePoint is included in the test drive.

    2. Click on the big orange button.

    The Test Drive environment will open in a new browser window after you click the Launch Test Drive button. You'll see a few screens, you might be asked to click to connect to the server. There may be some lag time, so wait until you see the Setting up evaluation environment dialog box. It takes a while to get to the test environment.

    Once it opens, you'll see the following screen:

    Start with the first selection on the right-hand side of the screen, 'Overview of Windows SharePoint Services.'

    Turn off Windows Security alert pop ups

    Turning off Automatic Updates can cause Windows Security Alert pop-up balloons to appear in the taskbar tray every time you log on.

    1. Turning off Automatic Updates causes error balloons featuring a red shield. Windows XP allows you to suppress any warnings that relate to Automatic Updates. You can also do this in Vista but, unfortunately, the newer OS forces you to turn off all security alerts just to suppress the Automatic Updates warnings.
    To eliminate the warning balloons about Automatic Updates in both XP and Vista, take these steps:
    Step 1. Double-click the red shield icon in the taskbar, or open the Control Panel and launch the Security Center.
    Step 2. In the left pane or box, click Change the way Security Center alerts me.
    Step 3. In XP, uncheck Automatic Updates and click OK. In Vista, select the second or third option.

    Windows updates refusing to install most patches

    If you find that Windows Update refuses to install most patches, you can register its missing DLLs yourself. This can be accomplished by manually entering seven commands (shown in Step 2, below) at a command prompt.
    the /s switch runs the commands silently, freeing you from having to press Enter after each line
    regsvr32 /s wuapi.dll
    regsvr32 /s wuaueng1.dll
    regsvr32 /s wuaueng.dll
    regsvr32 /s wucltui.dll
    regsvr32 /s wups2.dll
    regsvr32 /s wups.dll
    regsvr32 /s wuweb.dll

    Exception of type System.Runtime.InteropServices.COMException

    See this error when attempting to install Sharepoint V3.0 on Small Business Server 2003?
    The config wizard gets to stage 5, but says:

    Configuration Failed
    Failed to Register SharePoint Services
    An exception of type System.Runtime.InteropServices.COMException was thrown. Additional exception information: Could not access the Search services configuration database.
    If so try :

    In the Registry Editor, navigate to the following subkey, and then delete it:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\12.0\WSS\Services\Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.SPSearchService

    -Run the SharePoint Products and Technologies Configuration Wizard again."

    which seems to do the trick.

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    What a difference one less number can make

    We have been usin gthe Microsoft Intelligence Mail Filter that is incorporated in Exchange Service Pack 2 for a while now. Previous we had the gateway set at 8/10 and the store set at 3/10. Basically, this means that if an inbound email scores 8 or above (on the spam scale) then the gateway action takes effect. In our case this was set to reject.
    Now over the years because our CIAOPS web site had our email address on the front page we attracted lots and lots and lots of spam. This is why it is never a good idea to put plain text email addresses on web sites. admittedly most of the spam that did get through was getting caught by the junk mail filter and ending up in the junk mail folder in Outlook, but there was just so much. So rather than try and sort through it all the best bet was to crank down the gateway setting.
    So we changed our gateway setting on the IMF from 8 to 7 ( just a single point ) and we went from > 1,000 spam emails a day to less than 10! Amazing eh? Just goes to show you gotta keep on top of these settings overtime. The other good thing is that it does prove how well the Microsoft Intelligent Mail Filter (IMF) does work.