Microsoft Online Services

I’m beginning to get up to speed what will be offered via Microsoft Online Services here in Australia.

 

Microsoft has created a site www.discoveronlineservices.com which has a huge amount of information and resources about the offerings. If you are a Microsoft partner and you are considering offering online services then you should take a look. Even if you aren’t then I still recommend you take a look to understand the huge investment that Microsoft is making in this area.

 

Microsoft Online Services will be offered here through Telstra (Why? Not a good idea I reckon but that’s the way it is) and you can find more information of this via the Telstra T-Suite site. Interestingly, I can’t find any links to actual pricing here (early days perhaps?) Given that T-Suite has been around for a while you will find the pricing elsewhere in the T-Suite store site.

 

Microsoft Online Services is still in its infancy here but can only be expected to grow once the dual marketing monoliths of Telstra and Microsoft get going. A recent webinar I attended certainly indicated that Microsoft expected the greatest uptake of the service to be in the 5-50 user seat arena, in other words prime SBS territory. We are also starting to see documents like “Integrating Windows Small Business Server 2008 with Exchange Online”, which confirm the push for online services in the SMB space.

 

As I have said before (almost 12 months ago now), SBS 2008, I believe, will be the very last version of Small Business Server. Why? I simply believe that online services in some shape or form is going to gobble up the SMB market and the primary reason doesn’t have anything to do with technology or security. In fact it is all about price. Mainly around the ability to pay per month, per user.

 

Like it or lump it online services are going to have an impact on the SMB market and I reckon now is the time to get in early and be ahead of the pack.

Coming in May

May is a big month for my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide, simply because it is now 12 months old! I’m amazed at how its grown and how many people have subscribed. So, I’m planning a number of things:

 

For existing subscribers

 

– There will the normal May update which will include additional sections on prep’ing a Windows 2008 Server for SharePoint, embedding an updating Microsoft Excel chart into SharePoint as well some additional troubleshooting tips.

– There will be an updated DVD containing a whole swag of additional videos, documents and programs including 64 bit editions of the installation files and SharePoint Designer.

– I’ll also be throwing in a few thank you surprises for subscribers only, but I don’t want to give away the surprises just yet!

– and more

 

For non-subscribers

 

– I’m going to be offering a never to be repeated special on the Guide in celebration of how far it’s come. This offer will only be available for May 2009 and after that it’ll be gone for good. So if you were umming and arring about whether to subscribe can I say that next month is going to be your best opportunity.

– As part of the special offer I’ll be offering the second chapter of my Guide FREE to those who register and only those that have registered will be eligible for the May special offer.

 

I’ll announce more details for both subscribers and non subscribers in May so stay tuned.

OneNote – redux

I’ve had instance to talk to a few people recently about some productivity and collaboration solutions, obviously based around SharePoint. One thing I always try and mention is OneNote and sadly, I find that most people have consigned it to the “seen it once, never used it” bin which is really unfortunate.

I will readily admit that for a long time I too considered OneNote in a similar way. That was until I attended a session given by Todd Colbeck at SMBNation 2008. Todd was able to readily demonstrate how effective and powerful OneNote can be. He also demonstrated what a great solution it was on which to build some revenue. This was probably the biggest eye opener of the conference and I went away with the goal to do more with OneNote.

Now days, I find OneNote an indispensible tool to the way that I do business. Because OneNote appears so simple to use many people get fooled into believing that it somehow just a “optional extra” for Microsoft Office.

So what can you use OneNote for? Well I find it is great for all that ad-hoc material you always have floating around that never really seems to want to live anywhere. Personally, I use a simply paper notebook to keep track of things (in the good GTD way), because it is the fastest and most convenient method of documentation. However, I regularly transfer information from this notebook into OneNote so I have an electronic copy. No matter what the information is I can always create new sections and pages within OneNote to store it.

When you start looking around you’ll actually find many of the existing applications on your computer are already OneNote enabled. Both Internet Explorer (above left) and Outlook (above right) are just two examples. If you find something interesting on a web page simply highlight it and click the Send to OneNote button. The same applies with emails and Outlook.

The power of OneNote becomes more obvious when you share notebooks via a network or SharePoint. This means that whenever you open a shared OneNote notebook all the information is sync’ed with your local copy. When you are working online anything you enter is also automatically updated for everyone else sharing the notebook to see. When you are ready you can disconnect and still retain a local copy of the notebook which you can continue to work with and then sync again next time you connect.

Even better, if you have SharePoint available via the Internet then your OneNote notebooks become available anywhere you have Internet access. You could, for example, create a notebook for each client and share that directly with the client. I find this solution great when designing SharePoint sites for a client because they can add information as well as keep up to date with the design progress. It is an excellent collaboration tool that once customers actually start to utilize appreciate its power and actually start rolling it out throughout their business.

OneNote has so many features including full search, tagging, freehand annotations and so on. Even better, if it is not already on your desktop via Microsoft Office then it is very cheap to purchase (a free 60 day trial is available). If you haven’t looked at OneNote in a while I recommend you take a look and I’m sure you’ll find how valuable it can be. Even better, consider combining it with an online SharePoint solution for true collaboration.

Mobile SharePoint

One of the great new features of SharePoint is that it has support for mobile devices built right in. You don’t need to do any special configuration.

 

So here’s what you see when you visit this blog with a web browser using the URL http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog.

 

image_2_215E3007

 

However, if you are using a mobile device to access the information you probably want something more stripped down to reduce the download time. If you do, then simply add /m to end of any SharePoint site. So, in the case of my blog go to http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog/m and you’ll see:

 

image_4_4F4B82BF

 

which is a listing of the recent entries and if you click on one you’ll see:

 

image_6_4F4B82BF

 

You’ll get the same information but you’ll get in a “leaner” form, which is perfect for mobile devices.

 

As I said in the beginning the mobile accessibility is automatically configured with SharePoint right out of the box, nothing more to do. Also, don’t forget that all this functionality comes with a product that is free for you to download and is already included with SBS 2008. How could you ask for any more?

New video

I have created another quick video based on the blog post I did about configuring Usage Analysis processing on Windows SharePoint.

 

SharePoint Usage Analysis

Hands up if you knew that Windows SharePoint includes a basic Usage Report similar in some ways to Google Analytics? Now the tough question – who also knows how to enable it (since it isn’t by default). If you answered No to either question, then this post is for you.

 

The first step is to check whether Usage Analysis is enabled on your Windows SharePoint site. It isn’t on SBS2008 Companyweb so I’ll use that as my example. Log into the SharePoint as an administrator and select Site Actions in the top right of the screen. You’ll only see Site Actions if you have the appropriate rights.

 

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From the menu that appears select Site Settings.

 

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In Site Settings select Site usage report in the Site Administration section.

 

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If you see a screen like show here chances are the usage analysis has not been enabled. Next step is now to enable it.

 

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Run the SharePoint Central Administration from the server console via Start | Administrative Tools | SharePoint 3.0 Central Administration.

 

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Select the Operations tab, then click Usage analysis processing under the Logging and Reporting section (at the bottom left).

 

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Click to Enable logging and usage analysis processing. You will also need to choose time when usage processing will run. Usage processing can be intensive so select a time of low load on your server. Click OK when complete.

 

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You will not be able to view any logs until the scheduled processing runs. After that you should see something like that shown above when you return to Site Usage Report. Here you can select to view a number reports of you site’s access. This can be extremely handy when you need to get a feel for the usage of your site.

 

For further information about configuring Windows SharePoint to take advantage of all the product has to offer please visit www.wssops.com for information about the Windows SharePoint Operations Guide.

Determining TCP activity

There a few ways that you can determine the TCP/IP activity on your system.

1. Netstat
 
Simply go to a command prompt and type netstat –an and you should see something like that shown above. You can see the protocol, local_ip_address:port, foreign_ip_address:port and the state.

This really only tells you the basics of which ports are connected to what IP addresses but it doesn’t actually tell you what programs are using those ports.

2. Fport

Fport is a free program that can be downloaded from :

http://www.foundstone.com/us/resources/termsofuse.asp?file=fport.zip

and when run in the command window will not only show the TCP ports but it will also show which program on your system is using that port, as shown above. For example we can see that iTunesHelper.exe is using port 1029 TCP is is process 3548.

Fport therefore provides a lot more information but it isn’t updated constantly and you need to run it in a command prompt.

3. Prio

 Amoungst other things Prio can do what both netstat and fport do but do it as part of your task manager. You’ll find the free download Prio at:

http://www.prnwatch.com/prio.html

Once installed Prio will provide you with an additional tab in your task manager (accessed via Ctl-Alt-Del) called TCP/IP as shown above. In there you’ll see an up to date list of all the TCP connections and the programs using these ports.

So all 3 tools provide you with the ability to inspect what TCP/IP connections are taking place on your system. This can be of significant assistance when tracking down rogue applications accessing the Internet without your knowledge.

PDF icon in SharePoint

Now that you finally have Windows SharePoint up and running on SBS 2003 or SBS 2008 via (companyweb) you start uploading documents. When you upload Microsoft Office Documents like Word and Excel you see a nice icon next to the document, however when you upload an Acrobat document (PDF) you don’t.

 

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As you can see from the above screen shot there are 3 files in document library. The bottom two being Excel and Word files automatically have a little icon to the left denoting the type of file, however the first file is actually a PDF and as you can see there is no distinguishing icon.

 

Unfortunately by default SharePoint doesn’t include a PDF icon, however with a little bit of configuration you can add it. Here’s how:

 

Firstly, you’ll need to download a suitable PDF icon to use. A good one can be found at:

 

http://www.adobe.com/images/pdficon_small.gif

 

and looks like:

 

 

Download the file and save it into the directory c:\program files\common files\Microsoft shared\web server extensions\12\template\images on the SharePoint server.

 

Next locate the file c:\program files\common files\Microsoft shared\web server extensions\12\template\xml\docicon.xml on the SharePoint server. Right mouse click on the file and select edit.

 

image_6_548C42BE

Locate the element where you will see entries for each icon starting with <Mapping key=”…. Enter the following on a new line:

 

The name of the file must match the name of the PDF icon you downloaded. Note that the extension names in the docicon.xml file do not have to be in alphabetical order so it is best to place the entry at the end of the existing list.

 

When complete, save the file and exit the editor.

 

Go to the DOS prompt on the SharePoint server via Start | Run | Cmd and type iisreset to restart IIS.

 

If you now refresh the page you should find the PDF icon displayed like so:

 

image_8_02799577 

Just because you have now have a PDF icon doesn’t mean that your PDF documents will be indexed by SharePoint (which is possible). That also needs to be configured, but that’ll be the subject of a future post.

 

This information can also be found in my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide along with exactly how to configure PDF search. Not only that the Guide has a vast array of information about not only installing and configuring SharePoint but also how to get some of the best add-ons for SharePoint up and running to provide your installation with additional value and functionality.