One year on

I am proud to announce that my SharePoint Operations Guide is now one year old. How it has grown from that initial release. Firstly, I want to take the opportunity to thank all the subscribers, without whom the Guide would not be where it is today. I’d especially like to thank the small group of foundation subscribers who supported me back in May 2008. Without you especially standing up early to support me, the Guide would probably still be sitting unfinished in some folder on my computer.


Before I start waxing on lyrically about the Guide I’ll just let you know that in recognition of this milestone I’m making a special offering. During the month of May 2009 you can not only get Chapter 2 free but also you can purchase the Guide for only $249. That’s a throw back to the initial release price and a $50 discount over the current price. To do this simply send me an email ( and I’ll send you Chapter 2 and a special redemption code that can be used until the first of June 2009 to obtain a discount. This is a special offer that will not be repeated, so if you are interested in learning how to install, maintain and migrate SharePoint then take advantage of this offer before it expires.


So a full year, wow! When I look at the Guide now I’m pretty proud of what I’ve been able to achieve. It now stands at over 1,250 pages, the DVD includes 4.2 GB of information, there is a  Linkedin group for subscribers and those interested in the Guide plus more. I’m happy to say that I’ve still got plenty of ideas for additional content so the Guide is only going to keep growing. I’ve even come up with a logo:




Looks familiar doesn’t it?


I’m always keen for people to let me know what would be a good addition to the Guide or to contact me ( if they have any questions about Windows SharePoint or the Guide.


Once again, I thank all the existing Guide subscribers and I look forward to working hard for another twelve months to make the Guide even better.

Hypothetically speaking

If you aren’t aware, probably the biggest hosting company in Australia, WebCentral, is still having a major email outage (been over 30 fours for some people now). Now I don’t want to speculate why this has happened or how people need to understand that email is not a guaranteed method of delivery. What I do want to focus on is a business opportunity for a smart operator.


If you visit the Whirlpool forums you find this outage is costing people real money. Here’s but a few examples:


i’m the poor IT admin for my company who uses webcentral for over 5 years now, my CEO is sending me txt every hr to check whether it’s back online, i’m still working on an instant backup plan now, tried to forward them to my other host, but looks like the webcentral email forwarding isn’t working as well, can someone help pls….!!


We are talking about several hotels who’s main booking engines had relied on WC for over 3 years. There is a significant loss of business from unconfirmed bookings. One stats showing 52% occupancy from the daily average of 80%+.. in dollars thats about aprox $9,000+/day per hotel. What a nightmare. The pointing began at us then we pin pointed at WC. We are red faced for ever suggesting WC. So much for the 99.5% server uptime guarantee claim.

Now, I spoke about how to use in a recent post as a method of monitoring, in almost real time, what is happening with customers. Now let’s say, hypothetically speaking of course, you have a competing business. What would stop you also monitoring the same Twitter feed and then approaching each affected customer with an offer to change over to your business? Chances are pretty good that if can offer a solution a lot of people are going to jump ship right now since they are currently experiencing real pain and loss. With something like Twitter you can do just that!


If you step back and have a think about that and apply it to other areas then Twitter may be a great way to leverage some opportunities for very little cost. So while some may look at Twitter as a total waste of time, it is far more intelligent to learn how it can be added to your marketing toolkit to bring in more business. A good craftsperson knows it is not about the tool, it is how that tool is used. In this circumstance, I can really see how Twitter can be very effective if used correctly.

Separate SP2 downloads

The SharePoint SP2 might be available as a single download but if you are using the following you will also need these separate SP2 downloads:


SharePoint Designer – Download SP2


Microsoft Search Server Express – Download Office Servers SP2


As the last link says:


Install SP2 for Other Office Products
If you have other Office products installed, please be sure to update them as well.


Seems everything works better when they all have the same updates installed. Strange that! Happy updating.


All of these updates will be sent to Windows SharePoint Operations Guide subscribers as part of their May 2009 DVD update.

SharePoint SP2 is here

Microsoft has now made available Service Pack 2 for Windows SharePoint.


Description of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SP2


Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Service Pack 2 (x86)


Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Service Pack 2 (x64)


Since these have only just become available I am yet to fully test them. I do also note that you can also download the complete installation of SharePoint v3 including Service Pack 2:


Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 x64 with Service Pack 2


Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 with Service Pack 2


Windows SharePoint Operations Guide subscribers will finds these updates automatically on the upcoming May 2009 DVD release that is part of their regular update.


You will find that Office 2007 SP2 is also available.


Microsoft Office 2007 SP2

Human digitizer

When you do a lot of research like I do on the Internet sooner or later you end up at Google Books. The idea is that Google wants to digitize every book ever printed and place it on the Internet so it can be searchable. Now this has lead to some controversy around copyright but generally seems to be proceeding.

The question is how can you actually go about digitizing every book. You have to scan in every  page and then convert that page to text so it can be searched. As anyone who has ever used a scanner (or a fax for that matter) knows scanning something into a computer can sometimes mean illegible results. Generally, the only way to overcome this is for a real live human being to decide what the scanned text actually says. That could take years I hear you say, ah ha but you didn’t figure on the power of the Internet did you?

A huge issue on the Internet are programs (known as bots) that scan through web sites looking for emails. The bots report these emails back to spammers who add them to their list so they can send you more junk. Bots can also be used to automate the creation of web based emails and reply to forms – ah what a pain! To overcome this many sites use something called Captcha. This means that prior to any confirmation you are presented with some text that is difficult for a machine to recognize but hopefully not for a human. In this way the web page knows that the entry most probably came from a real human (assuming it was entered in correctly).

So what has bots got to do with Google Books and text recognition? You can imagine that there are many pieces of scanned text from books that needs to be viewed by a human being to determine what they are. So now it’s time for the Internet and Captcha to come to the rescue.

As you can see, a site I recently visited needed to verify I was a real person so it threw up this Captcha. However, note that down the bottom it says the words come from scanned books. So by typing in the text you are help to digitize scanned books.

So how does the Captcha know the correct word when the scanned word can’t be read you may ask? On the reCaptcha site you’ll find the answer:

But if a computer can’t read such a CAPTCHA, how does the system know the correct answer to the puzzle? Here’s how: Each new word that cannot be read correctly by OCR is given to a user in conjunction with another word for which the answer is already known. The user is then asked to read both words. If they solve the one for which the answer is known, the system assumes their answer is correct for the new one. The system then gives the new image to a number of other people to determine, with higher confidence, whether the original answer was correct.

If you a more in depth explanation then check out the reCaptcha site where you’ll the answers in much more detail.

A good example of how the power of the Internet is being put to good use. Pretty clever eh?

All about attention

Just been reading a nice article,”Taking control of e-mail”, that provides a good summary of the issues around information overload. What I liked was the following quote:


“Attention is the bedrock to learning, memory, social connection and happiness”


So if you are allowing yourself to be constantly distracted by incoming emails then your attention is very low and chances are it is affecting more than just your productivity.


The article covers some of the basic steps to help remove the distractions of email and is therefore well worth a read. I’d also recommend you take a look at where you find additional resources if you are looking to improve your productivity.


At the very least I’d commend you to try some of the steps mentioned in the article and see whether it does help. I’m confident that after a few day you’d agree that even a small change can reap significant benefits.

When Twitter helps

Ok, so most people believe Twitter is a total waste of time, well here’s an example to the contrary. At the moment Australia’s largest ISP, WebCentral, is having a major outage affecting hosting, emails, databases, etc. Their phone lines are flooded, they have failed to update the issue statues on their web site in a timely manner so where can you turn for information? Twitter of course.

The bets place to start is and type in webcentral to search for. Here’s the current results:

There are a whole swag of postings from people who have been affected so you know that it isn’t just you. I can also see from the results that 36 minutes ago someone actually managed to logon to their email, so maybe the problem’s fixed? In short, you get a better idea of what’s going on from a group of affected users rather than trying to ring Webcentral. Even better you can subscribe to this search in your RSS reader so you can keep tabs on the situation without having to constantly run a search. Now that’s gotta save time!

Whether it is or whether it isn’t I think that the above situation can give you a good example of where Twitter can be used beneficially.

One of the few?

Just read “Self-employed go back to the boss” in the paper today and found some of the issues highlighted interesting. Here are some choice quotes:


“For seven years, he battled to keep his … afloat. It was an around-the-clock effort.”

“He was struggling to make ends meet, to find reliable workers, and to strike any sort of work-life balance.”

“I’d been trying to do everything myself.”

“said he would never again try to set up his own business.”

“He was turned off by “having to chase work, being able to deliver quality work but having people call you up and say ‘I’ve got a quote from some cowboy across the road for half that price — how come?””


Sound familiar? If it does you’d be interested to know that the guy in the article ran a windscreen business but I have heard almost exactly the same quotes from people in IT. In good times it is certainly much easier to run a business but when things turn tough then you’ll soon find out whether you are running a business or simply enjoying a lifestyle.


When I talk to people and say that I work in my own business they automatically assume you make oodles of money (which you don’t) and you don’t do much work (which isn’t right either). It is only those who have run their own business that understand that it comes down to hard work. However, you gotta enjoy working hard or else being in business for yourself just doesn’t make sense.


Most people who run a business probably never should. They simply believe that because they are good at something that will automatically translate into self-employment. Generally this is far from the truth since running a business is about so much more that just being good at one thing. You usually have to do EVERYTHING even if you don’t like doing it, which unless you are disciplined will mean you are going to struggle like the person in the article.


My advice would be to start by reading something like the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. This book is a MUST READ for anyone who is self–employed. Next, I would suggest that you start looking for people with whom you can talk and discuss ideas, including issues you are struggling with on a regular basis. To be a success in business you need to build a network of people whom you can turn to for advice, work or simply to lend an ear. Finally, you need to run your business like a business and not simply as a hobby because in the end, if you want to make a living from it your business will have compete with every other business out there.


These are just the first steps you need to take if you want to run a successful business in my experience. Failing to do so is not going to guarantee you’ll fail but is going to make it much harder than it could be. So seek out information from successful business owners and thinkers. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice because you’ll be surprised at how many are willing to help.


Only the businesses who are working on their business rather than in their business these days are generally going to come out the other side of these recessionary times. Ask yourself if you really want to run a business and if the answer is yes, then run it like a business!