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. Hmmm…my 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.

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 :

:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\12\Data\Applications\\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 \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_ stores the information related to lists, document libraries, tasks and so so on of the Central Administration site.
  • Sharepoint_Config_ 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_ 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.

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.

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!