Why start a business?

In these failing economic times many small business owners are probably asking themselves why they started their business. That doesn’t achieve anything because it is examining the past, besides I’ll give you the answer. Actually, I’ll let someone else far more qualified than me give you the answer:

 

“there is ultimately only one reason to create a business of your own, and that is to sell it!” – E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber ,P152

I will admit that for many years I never ran my business like I was going to sell it but I learned that you need to. Even if you choose not to sell your business you STILL HAVE THE OPTION if needed.

 

In this economic environment plenty of small businesses are going to think about cashing in their chips, but guess what guys? The pile of chips is only a tiny fraction of what you believe it to be. Why? Because the business depends on a single person, you. Unless you have documented and created procedures for the way you business operates and the business can run without you it is not going to be appealing to buyers. Simply reverse the situation and ask yourself whether you would buy your business? If so what would you pay for it as an outsider?

 

So if you are not making your business more “sellable” everyday what the hell are you doing? I’d say that you simply have a job or at best, a hobby. You need to run it like you’re going to sell it – end of story. The sooner you start seeing a business as something that you continually need to add value to the sooner you’ll start adding value.

 

Times change and unforeseen situations arise so if you optimize your business to be sold at any time, then you have far more options that most small business people I know.

Is nothing safe?

Ok, if you haven’t read the news or seen the TV then you should know that you need to patch Internet Explorer urgently. In the meantime the reports indicate that you shouldn’t use Internet Explorer to browse the web.

 

No problems you say, I’ll use FireFox instead. Ahh, wait on there. Apparently Firefox tops the list of the 12 most vulnerable applications on Windows according to this report.

 

So no more web browsing until the patch gets applied. Will you are downloading the patch consider this story that a company involved with the new frontrunner’s bid for Australia’s national broadband network has links with the Chinese military.

 

Man. Why would anyone ever use the Internet? Problem is, they are still going to aren’t they? And many won’t be updating their systems, so it makes the Internet an even more dangerous place even if YOU do the right thing.

 

It’s a real double edged sword isn’t it? So, please update your systems and get others to update theirs as well because we’re all in this together.

What coming in the next SharePoint Guide release?

Here is some of the new content that will be included in January release of my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide:

 

Migration to Companyweb on SBS 2008. I have retested my initial beta information of this process on the released version of SBS 2008 and added some additional information about security. So like SBS 2008, this process is no longer in beta.

 

Upgrading SQL Versions. There are cases where you may wish to upgrade the version of SQL server you are using with SharePoint. Typically this involves an upgrade from the default SQL Server 2005 Embedded Edition (SSEE) to the full version of SQL server. I have documented the full process to make it simple and straight forward.

 

Additional troubleshooting techniques. I’ve added a few more troubleshooting techniques to help overcome some common frustrations.

 

These are just a few of the items I’ll be adding for the January release. As always, subscribers will receive their new versions automatically free as part of their subscription to the Guide. If you aren’t a subscriber then don’t forget that from January 1, 2009 the price for the Guide rises to $299. So if you get in now you’ll save $50!

 

As always, information about the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide can be found at http://www.wssops.com. I thank all my subscribers for their support over the last year and look forward to providing you even more content in 2009.

Windows Live Updates

One thing that really seems to be improving in leaps and bounds is the Windows Live software. Now, I mainly use MSN Messenger and Windows Live Writer but there is plenty of great stuff now available for FREE. If you haven’t had a look then I suggest you pay http://download.live.com/ a visit to see what is available.


 At the same time take a look at http://home.live.com where you aggregate a lot of Microsoft content, like messenger contacts, Skydrive storage and so on as well as external content like Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.

Speaking of Twitter, I’m still be in two minds about using this as a communications tool since I can’t really see the value for the time invested. I know that it is big in the US which means that it will probably become big here. Now, I’m no Twitter expert (my Twitter Id is directorcia if anyone wants to “follow me”) I’ll admit but one of the nice things about the new Windows Live Writer is that I can add a Twitter plug-in so when I post something to my blog it will also appear as a post in Twitter. This makes more sense to me since I don’t want to have to be double posting.

I’m still not sold on the value of Twitter but now maybe I’ll be a bit more active there given the new Windows Live Writer plug-in. I’d also recommend that if you haven’t already you should go and see what’s on offer at Windows Live because even if it doesn’t have a business application it certainly will for your family and friends. One of the main advantages is that it is all from a single supplier (Microsoft) and is becoming very polished.

How to crash SBS2008 (and Vista)

I came across a bug in Microsoft Vista that allows it to be crashed from the command prompt by simply typing a single command. Apparently, Microsoft don’t believe that it warrants enough emphasis to provide a patch. They say they will fix it in the next Service Pack (due soon).

 

I was then a little curious. If Vista and Windows 2008 (and therefore SBS 2008) are based on the same TCP/IP stack would I also be able to crash SBS 2008?

 

I made sure my SBS 2008 machine was up to date:

 

image_6_30ADE1F4

image_8_30ADE1F4

 

Firstly, I go to the command prompt as an administrator and type:

 

route add 1.2.3.4/240 4.3.2.1

 

image_2_30ADE1F4

 

[On my test SBS2008 server it did not always happen immediately but I could normally force the issue if it didn’t happen initially by removing the route via the command:

route delete 1.2.3.4

]

 

I then wait a few moments and

 

image_4_30ADE1F4

 

BAMM! Blue screen of death!

 

Sure, to actually execute this command on Vista or SBS2008 you need to run it from a console but what is to stop some enterprising person getting this to run on a victim’s machine? We all know users just love to click and install spyware. So even though Microsoft say it isn’t a big worry I’d be concerned, especially as there is currently no patch available.

 

image_10_30ADE1F4

 

Information about the Vista issue is here but ladies and gentlemen the same thing happens on SBS 2008 so beware. Roll on Service Pack 2.

My life with Hyper-V so far

It has now been about 6 months since I converted basically all of my CIAOPS infrastructure to a single physical box running Microsoft Hyper-V so I thought I’d give you a progress report.

 

In summary, everything has gone much better than I ever would have anticipated. Previously I had converted most of machines to Microsoft Virtual PC’s so I was part of the way there. Going to Hyper-V has greatly increased performance, reliability and flexibility. Converting from Microsoft Virtual PC to Hyper-V machines was relatively straight forward (once you remove the Microsoft Virtual PC additions). After a few configuration changes for network cards and loading of the Hyper-V client software everything was up and running.

 

Probably the thing I like the most about Hyper-V is when it comes to update time. I simply shut the virtual machines down and take a snapshot backup. I found that sometimes a Hyper-V machine freezes if you take a backup when it is running, so I now always shut them down. I boot the machines back up, install the patches, reboot again and if everything is working ok I delete the oldest snapshot backup. That way I always have a backup copy I can roll back to if there are issues.

 

Because my Hyper-V host machine is running a standard version of Windows Server 2008 I also need to update that from time to time but again I can either shut the client Hyper-V machines down or I can simply freeze them while I install updates on the host Windows 2008 server. All in all a much quicker and easier process than when I had to install updates on all my physical machines.

 

In a perfect world I’d run one Hyper-V machine for production servers and one for test servers, but alas that is currently not the case. So on the one Hyper-V machine I am also running Windows Server 2008 Premium (i.e. 2 servers) again without issues. I am extremely please that I can get all these machines (6-8 in all) running on one piece of hardware, which also saves a huge amount on power bills.

 

If you haven’t investigated virtual PC technology like Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V then I’d recommend you give it a serious look. It has greatly cut down my admin time as well as saving me on my power bills just to mention two things. There are some downsides like a lack of USB support but you can normally work around these and I fully expect these things to be supported in future releases.

 

So in summary, Hyper-V has proved a real bonus for my business and helped me do more with less.

Email frustrations

I’ve just created a document that provides details on what are probably the top 5 email frustrations experienced by people. You can download a copy and let me know if you agree.

 

As a promotion to those who download this document, I am also offering a discount on my Enhanced Email quick start booklet (was $45 ex GST) and my Enhanced Email quick start seminar (was $599 ex GST). Both are designed to improve your productivity with email but the seminar is designed as a more in depth study of how to use emails effectively and efficiently in a business.

 

I’d also like to hear from any people out there who maybe interested in reselling my document or seminars. If you are, then please do not hesitate to get in contact with me directly (director@ciaops.com).

 

Otherwise, download the document, and if it is of no use to to you then I ask that you send it onto someone who maybe able to make use of it.

Edit in datasheet without Microsoft Office

Normally in SharePoint if you want to edit a list or library in a datasheet the machine you are using has to have Microsoft Office installed.

 

image_2_683EE68F

 

But what happens in cases where machines aren’t going to need Microsoft Office otherwise? It seems a little silly to purchase a copy of Microsoft Office just to have the ability to edit in a datasheet with SharePoint.

 

The solution is to download and install Access 2007 Runtime from Microsoft which is a free download. So now all client machines can have the functionality of using the ‘Edit in Datasheet’ feature without having to purchase an additional Microsoft Office license.