Monday, 30 November 2009

My tweet cloud

I am a big fan of tag clouds, word clouds (and fluffy clouds of innovation) and often use wordle to create word clouds (as seen in my last deck used at SUGUK: – slides 24,25 and 26).


So when @soulsailor mentioned the TweetCloud at I had to try it ;)



Top 3 words:


> 2010

> blogged

> sharepoint


No big surprises there then ;)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Key considerations for SharePoint 2010

Before you rush off to deploy 2010, take a moment to pause and think if you’re going to hit some stumbling blocks…

While there is so much in 2010 to get excited about, there is the day-to-day reality of “real world IT” to consider, here are a few of my thoughts about what you should be thinking and discussing before you get too far…


1. SharePoint 2010 requires x64 (including x64 SQL).

2. You cannot “skip” MOSS2007 and go straight to SP2010 from SPS2003

3. Does your licencing cover you? Did you include SA when you bought your 2007 licences?

4. How have you customised 2007? Will your customisations migrate easily? How much have the users done (that you may not know about)?

5. Do you know which other systems within your estate integrate with SharePoint? Will they work with 2010?

6. IE 6 is NOT a supported browser!!

SharePoint Designer 2007/2010 and x86/x64

Just fell foul of not reading the documentation. DOH!


This is important information for anyone who needs their laptop/client PC to work with both SharePoint 2007 AND 2010.


On the SPD 2010 download page it does clearly state:


SharePoint Designer 2010 only connects to SharePoint 2010. To connect to SharePoint 2007 and earlier sites you must continue to use SPD 2007 . If you elect to install both applications side-by-side, you must download the 32-bit version of SPD 2010. Please also note that 64 bit Office applications will not run if SPD 2007 is installed; 64bit Office 2010 applications should only be used if not connecting to SharePoint 2007 servers.


So… If, like me, you need to work with both 2007 and 2010 then you need:


> SharePoint Designer 2007

> SharePoint Designer 2010 Beta 2 32bit

> Office 2010 beta 2 32bit (or Office 2007, I suppose…)

Note to self: RTFM!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Extending iPhone battery

I was recently asked (by a surprising convert to the iPhone, you know who you are Bob!) about extending the battery life, so i sent him this:


>Turn off WiFi/Bluetooth when not needed

>Disable "push" and sync at an interval

>Dim the screen

>Only charge when <3% remaining (requires discipline that I often don't have!)

>Turn it off overnight!

>Turn off vibration for alerts/calls/games

>Turn off notifications

>Don't have loads of email/calendar/etc accounts on the iphone

>Disable 3G! (we seldom get proper 3G coverage in the UK anyway - outside major cities)

>Disable location services

>Decrease auto-off setting to 1 or 2 mins (from default of 5)

>Turn off "load remote images" on email

>Turn off repeating alerts for email/sms/appointments


I have found it better to sync large volumes (eg app updates) over Wifi than over Edge/3G, as the time is so much shorter the power drain is actually less...


Hopefully someone will find this useful…

Teaching narrow specialists to address a broader issue

Just read this 2-part blog post that I thought good enough to share.

It is from a legal perspective but has relevance for senior consultants in many ways…


Part 1:

Part 2:

Thursday, 19 November 2009

New (or rather “future”) social features in Outlook 2010

As an advocate of social computing I was eager to look at some of the social features in Outlook 2010 beta 2 (to say nothing of the features in SharePoint 2010 beta 2!!).


I had a spare few minutes today so I thought I’d have a look at what’s there, and I see potential, unfortunately Microsoft aren’t quite there yet. Especially when compared to third party add-ins we’ve had for a while (e.g. LinkedIn and Xobni).

>> on a side note I am a massive fan of the “grab” function in the LinkedIn add-in, you select an email signature and “grab” will automatically create a contact for you!!


The advantages Microsoft have the ease of integration with SharePoint 2010, and until we migrate to 2010 I guess I have to miss out on full functionality (except in the test rigs we have).


The OOTB experience is OK, you get:


   > Conversation history from OCS

   > Emails

   > Meetings


Without SP2010 I’m missing:


   > Activities (from the Activity feed)

   > Status Updates (from, well, status updates)


This is actually quite powerful when you think about what it is offering.



This people centric view will, IMO, add tangible value to the user experience and facilitate better and more efficient interaction within a business and with the addition of external data, federated OCS, SharePoint Extranets (etc) add contextual user data to inter-business communications.


I am pleased that SharePoint and Office are leading Microsoft’s social capability, an obvious next step is to bring the same data into the Office Communicator client…


Disappointingly there are no connections to other platforms available yet, but it is still in Beta, so I think we should cut MSFT some slack ;)


You can imagine how easy it would be for users to add social platforms, just click “add” then select from the available options:





Today, you have SharePoint (2010 only!) in the list, the site where you add more currently states:


Currently, there are no social network add-ins available as of the beta release of Outlook 2010.  But in the months to come, this page will be updated with links to new partner networks as they become available. 

In addition to the add-ins that Microsoft and our partner social networks produce, we are making a software developers’ kit available that includes documentation on how to build an add-in for any network you choose. 

Please check back often for updates.


One thing that is currently confusing me is where it is trying to get the contact images from (see below).



It seems that there is an inconsistency here… I can only assume that it is looking for the picture in AD (??).

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Office 2010 issues

I have now installed (three times!) the Beta 2 build of Office 2010.


Having 2 issues:


  1. The title bar still states “Technical Preview”

  2. I have been unable to activate Office (error stated a problem with the “setup controller”)


The first seems to be a known issue, excerpt from a post to the beta forums:


“This is a known issue when you uninstall the Technical Preview build and
then install the Beta build.  As long as you click on File tab | Help and
see 4536 as your build number, then you are using the official Office 2010
Beta build.”


So, I have ignored issue 1 as it doesn’t really matter. I would add that an easier way of checking you’re running Beta 2 is that the program icons are all different!


Issue 2 was what lead me to uninstall/reinstall three times. After much digging/tracing/google-ing I was at a loss, but by chance I selected “change” rather than “uninstall” on Office 2010…




This then allows you to enter the product key!



So, go here and enter your key, then wait around 5 minutes while it does something (??), then you’re sorted ;)


Open up an Office app (e.g Outlook) and you will prompted to activate:


image    image



After activating you will still be warned that the product isn’t activated (with a rather prominent red title bar!).



Close the app, if you opened Outlook, as I did, then remember to wait until is it really closed, then re-open and you should no longer have a red title bar.


You can confirm you’re OK by looking at “help” in the out space back stage UI:



Job done.


This also seems to resolve Issue 1, an nice bonus ;)


I’m sure that it won’t be this much of a PITA come RC/B2TR/RTM…

Monday, 16 November 2009

Office 2010 Beta available!

The beta is now available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers!



But no servers on MSDN (for me anyway)…




But… They are there on Connect:




Downloading now ;)

SP2010 installation error!

I really enjoy participating in beta programmes, having to work things out for yourself with very limited support from the blogosphere and UseNet is (usually) an enjoyable challenge, the SharePoint 2010 beta is no exception…


Well, I say “no exception” but what I mean is “An exception of type Microsoft.SharePoint.PostSetupConfiguration.PostSetupConfigurationTaskException was thrown.  Additional exception information: An error has occurred while validating the configuration settings.  An exception of type System.ArgumentNullException was thrown.  Additional exception information: The errorData argument cannot be null or zero length. “


After some diagnosis found this was due to the Windows firewall blocking PSConfig from talking to remote hosts!


So, what the error should say is:


Due to the Windows Firewall being enabled the PSConfig cannot create a connection to remote hosts (eg. your SQL server!!). Please allow PSConfig out through the firewall!


Having now created the firewall rule I am making progress!


Of course, some will simply disable Windows Firewall ;)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Running multiple browsers (without installing them or using a VM)

I often have the need to quickly test something in a different browser, so I have a few installed on my Windows 7 laptop, and others (often older versions) running in VM’s. Obviously this works OK but can be a pain to boot/resume a VM for a quick browser test.


I happened across this today which works quite well:



This installs a plugin that runs the browser from the web.


I guess it’s directly analogous to Microsoft App-V, VMWare ThinApp and Citrix XenApp virtualisation.

Except this doesn’t need a massive infrastructure to run!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Sysprep Windows 2008 R2

Just wasted a day of my time troubleshooting an issue that was tracked back to being an issue with the Sysprep image of Windows Server 2008 R2 that I was using…


Basically it hadn’t been sysprep’d in the correct manner…


The issue I was seeing was the inability to add a domain user to a local group on a member server, the account would resolve OK but the user was not properly added.

I also received an error running the SharePoint 2010 config wizard:


An exception of type System.Security.Principal.IdentityNotMappedException was thrown.  Additional exception information: Some or all identity references could not be translated


This was generated after entering the SQL server name/DB and the Farm account credentials…


I had to throw away my DC, my SQL server and my SharePoint 2010 server…


Starting all over again :(


So, the correct sysprep method is as follows:


  1. Forget the GUI!
  2. Run (from elevated command prompt):

c:\windows\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /quiet /generalize /oobe /shutdown




This works fine…


-I am ignoring the spelling of “generalize” ;)




Please note: the mini-setup that runs after booting a sysprep R2 image does not prompt for Computer name, you’ll have to change this manually. I would recommend not changing the computer name in the same operation as joining a domain, change the name and reboot, then join domain and reboot. This may no longer be an issue but I remember having issues in the Windows 2000 days with doing this and these kind of practices tend to stick with me ;)

Monday, 9 November 2009

SharePoint 2010 Evolution Conference

One of my sessions has been confirmed at the Evolution Conference!




My session is currently titled: “What does Web 2.0 and social networking mean to the user?” [subject to change]


Looking through the list of speakers and sessions (agenda: it looks to be a great conference!


I’m going to miss out on Chris O’Brien (blog, twitter) talking about managing the application lifecycle (level 400 deep dive) as he’s on at the same time as me! Guess I’ll have to wait for the DVD ;)

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Fireworks photos

I managed to get out this year and take some reasonable shots of the fireworks.

I went to the “largest organised display in Leicestershire” at Abbey Park.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Audiences in SharePoint 2010

Just noticed a bit of an inconsistency between the People SA and the Audience Timer job definition/config.


Basically, you have 2 ways of configuring the same thing, however, if you go via the Timer job you can set values that don’t exist if you go via the People SA…


What is more worrying is that if you set the value to (for example) Minutes in the Timer Job UI the SA reports “no schedule set”…



[click to open larger image]


Wondering what value is actually set (or effective, depending on terminology) I thought Powershell would help… So I fired it up (and learned my lesson from my earlier post!) and ventured into the supplied help file…


Firstly, let me say OMG! what an awful help file, no search, nothing in any discernable order…


However, after much manual searching I found “Get-SPTimerJob”, sounded like it ought to do the trick ;)


So, I tried:


PS C:\Windows\system32> get-sptimerjob -type “Audience Compilation Job”


Nothing returned!


Then I tried:


PS C:\Windows\system32> get-sptimerjob -type ea4b7a03-27fa-4f64-885b-beaa8a4886c9


(got the GUID from the querystring on the URL in the web UI).


Nothing returned!


I give up. More important things to worry about…

Powershell error: The farm is not available

Running PowerShell (SharePoint v4 management console) I have been getting this error:


“The farm is not available”




Even as a member of the Farm Administrators group!


Tracked this down to a SQL access error, as although my account (DOMAIN\adm-mattg) is a farm admin and am merrily configuring SharePoint through the SCA web UI I cannot run the Powershell console as I need SQL rights.


My old friend “shift, right-click > run as” came to the rescue, running Powershell as the farm account works fine.

Monday, 2 November 2009

SharePoint is clay?

I saw a tweet from Walton Smith ( that stated:


conf #e2conf-3 #olivermarks "Microsoft is foundational" SharePoint is clay, use it to build on, it is not there yet, but getting better


This got me thinking…


Sourced from:

Yes, in many respects SharePoint is a lump of clay, you can mould and shape it into whatever you want or need it to be (within reason). This covers the “SharePoint is a platform” side of things quite nicely. I’ll add that to my list of SharePoint analogies, similes and metaphors:


SharePoint is an Elephant

SharePoint is a Swiss Army Knife

SharePoint is a Toolbox

SharePoint is Lego


* list incomplete: let’s not even go near the Pizza, Burger, Washing Line or Drug Dealer ones ;)


The thing is, none of them actually cover it all…


Clay – does nothing until you mould it (“throw it” is, I believe, the correct terminology?).

Swiss Army Knife – does various things, straight OOTB, but you can’t extend it.

Toolbox – tools do nothing by themselves.

Lego – arrives needing assembly.

Elephant - (my personal favourite) see Woody’s post


I was working on a Camera simile:


Image Sourced from: SharePoint is like a DSLR. You buy a kit and you can take photo’s straight OOTB. But, you can extend the functionality you get (or, indeed, the quality of the results) by adding specialist lens, a flashgun, a battery grip…


This is close, but I can’t really think of anything you “make yourself”, which is, for me, one of really compelling elements of SharePoint.


Steve Ballmer said (during his keynote at SPC09) “What is SharePoint? … It’s kinds like an operating system” – I don’t really like this…


I have also been working on the “house” (not the TV series) simile:


SharePoint is like your (new build) house. Yours is based on the same materials as the guy next door, but your is different. Your house serves several purposes straight away.

You can extend your house, either yourself or by having a specialist come in and do it for you.

You can decorate your house in anyway you choose.

If you don’t like part of your house you can rip down a wall to change it. Some walls are more expensive to rip down than others.

If you don’t like part of your house you can build a new wall to change it. Some walls are more expensive to build than others.

If you really wanted a house with a pool, but couldn’t afford one, you can add it later.

You may not have wanted or needed the double garage, but the house came with it anyway, you don’t have to use it. But even if you don’t use it, you’re still paying for it.

You didn't need to worry about integrating your house with mains electricity or water, it came like that.



I think this one has legs ;)

Plumbing, foundations, security, culture, adoption, accessibility… They all ought to work ;)

I could also add: The architect who designed your house will probably never live in it


So, my quest for the perfect analogy, simile and/or metaphor continues… Clay is good, I like it and will probably use it, but it isn’t perfect…


I like the “House” – what do you think ??