Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Silverlight, I think I love you

Well let me be utterly honest about one thing, there is no need at all for Silverlight. Silverlight is just trying to repeat Flash and for the web you would be crazy to use Silverlight over Flash.

10 years ago I worked on a Flash project which connected to a back end Apache system using JSP. We had interactive client to server connection using multi-media, no page reloads, and great graphics.

What Silverlight offers is state of the art 1999. For most projects you should consider Flash first.

But Flash is Adobe now, and Microsoft could not use the best client platform in the world if it mean giving that to Adobe. So in short Microsoft rebuilt Flash, and from what I can tell in Expression Blend it made a pretty piss poor version.

BUT, the ability to lay out objects on a Grid now, and apply actions to objects in any .NET language, and the potential to connect this to SharePoint.

I think I might just be in love.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Host Headers Real Basic Start, for the truely lost and stressed out

You should only read this article if the prospect of host headers makes you look like this.

I have recently had to do a lot of thinking about host headers. Normally I don't like them. If you can use port numbers you can make 10,000 web applications on IIS just using XXXX. This is more than enough and I like to give teams web applications with their own port number. Let them favorite it and I find soon there is not problem.

But I was landed with a piece of work where the CISCO firewall will only allow a limited number of ports. I hate this but it happens.

The key first step is not to panic. Don't worry if you don't understand host headers, because host headers are not very well understood by anyone. Host headers are essentially a technology that allows you to extend a port. Normally you have one web application on a port. For example say your have a server at IP You can put a web application on a port. Say you have Using ports you can add thousands of web applications on a IP address. So its like have thousands of servers with their own unique IP.

You can further load an IP by adding a host header. Say I want to add a host header to a URL I want everyone in my network to be able to access this URL. And I need it to be on port 80. When everything is finished the IP will be with host header and users will be able to access it on your network by typing

But you have to get network exports involved. And they will have developed their own way of managing host headers, you hope. The key thing to keep in mind is that you can't do this with SharePoint alone, so don't panic.

When you can't assign a new port number to each web application you need to load all your web applications on a single port, usually port 80. Whatever you do please don't take the easy way out and build one web application on 80 and put all the site collections under it. This is grow on you and almost always go beyond the ideal 80GB of storage per content database.

What you can do is when you create a web application you can assign a host header. The problem is that when you create a site with a host header you then can't see the URL from a web browser. IIS has a web application for the host header, but your network can not resolve the request.

This is the point where I have to be kind of lame and tell you that you need to contact you network administrators. This is not to get out of the issue, but it is because different infrastructures will use different technology to resolve this. Remember that when dealing with host headers you need to work with your network team, don't pressure yourself to do it all yourself.

I can tell you one way to do it. Get a hold of who ever manages you GSS and tell them you need a URL for your SharePoint server. When they create one for you then use DNS to create an alias mapping you host header to this URL that GSS gives you. But you will need to check this with your network administrator.

What I can tell you is my opinion. I don't think its a good idea to create a site with the host header first. The problem is you can not see the site until all the administration work is done and in a large estate this could take days if not weeks. If the site looks wrong you will have to then restart building the web application with the host headers.

Rather I would first create a web application with a port number. You can test this on your server to be sure that it works. Once you have tested the server on its port you can create a new web application with a host header. Then extend the site you created to the new site with a host header and raise your request with networks or who ever else manages network traffic.

Here is a link that explains how to do this.

Ideally you should look something like this now

The outcome, worried about Host Headers but silently confident

In closing I would invite you to talk to your network people about not blocking ports and not using host headers. I have worked with a large SharePoint that did this and it worked great.

Monday, 26 October 2009

BBC NEWS | Technology | End of an era for early websites

Yahoo, which acquired the site for $3.57bn (£2.17bn) in 1999 at the height of the dotcom boom, said sites would no longer be accessible from 26th October.
BBC NEWS | Technology | End of an era for early websites
Blogged with the Flock Browser Goes Drupal [Updated] | Personal Democracy Forum has gone Drupal. After months of planning, says an Obama Administration source, the White House has ditched the proprietary content management system that had been in place since the days of the Bush Administration in favor of the latest version of the open-source Drupal software, as the AP alluded to in its reporting several minutes ago. Goes Drupal [Updated] | Personal Democracy Forum
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SharePoint Is Microsoft's Real Window Of Opportunity | BNET Technology Blog | BNET

So while everyone has been running to the Web in the hopes of beating Microsoft to the punch, Microsoft has, since 2003 when it first introduced WPF, been quietly protecting its interests on the Web by creating products that work on the Web, but only according to its own rules. And because so many customers already use Microsoft, and so many business processes are already etched into Microsoft stone, they will keep using Microsoft on the Web rather than reinvent their wheels.
SharePoint Is Microsoft's Real Window Of Opportunity | BNET Technology Blog | BNET
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Saturday, 24 October 2009

Only pleased?

Microsoft has said it is "pleased" with the "strong consumer demand" for its new Windows 7 operating system.
BBC NEWS | Business | Windows sales 'please' Microsoft

Microsoft will need to announce these numbers fairly soon, and it will be key to see if the OS is having a take up. If Windows 7 is not taken up we could end up have a wide range of machines from XP to Windows 7 running Intel IV to Quad Cores in the market place, and a difficult mix of 32bit and 64 bit with IE 6, IE 7, IE 8 and all the others.

The only reason to have a Microsoft is to present a more flat and uniform space for software firms and other companies to develop and sell in. Microsoft is doing everything right so far in Marketing Windows 7, returning to its classic features, implicate confession Vista was a failure, and working as a consolidator and not an innovator.

But the buzz is everything. So far so good with the Twitter with twits coming in on Windows 7. There are a good number of complaints but they are the standard things you would expect with drivers and failed installations. If a standard story against Windows 7 that the average business user can grasp does not emerge on Twitter in the next week I think it should be clear for Microsoft.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Universal phone charger approved

A new mobile phone charger that will work with any handset has been approved by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations body.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Universal phone charger approved
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Friday, 23 October 2009

My Strange Dream

I had a dream last night, a real while you are sleeping the story pops in to your head dream and not a "it would be nice if.." kind of dream.

I dream that I was advising someone very very knowledgeable in Computer Science on a SharePoint install. Yes I do dream about SharePoint installs. I was concerned they would reject the project for all the typical reasons like lack of Enterprise functionality, blog data storage, poor UI accessibility.

But when he did reject it, which I guess I knew he would all along because it was my dream and I was having it, he said something strange. He said it was because of the lack of an installation wizard.

And when I woke up I started to think about this. Given all of SharePoint's obvious faults it still has a lot to offer. And yet the building of farms is a very time consuming process. Building a farm involves a great deal or talking, writing and guessing. You have to build SQL Servers and the SharePoint separate, one at a time. You have to estimate what you need on paper or with a tool.

Wouldn't it be great if you had a wizard that guided and controlled the entire process of installation, upgrading, patching, and solution deployment in a controlled version controlled way for the entire farm.

Maybe I am just saying Dimensions for SharePoint, but I keep thinking about the dream.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Too many new SharePoint 2010 SKUs

I realize there’s a theory at Microsoft that product names of business software can be more unwieldy and matter less than those of Microsoft’s consumer-focused products. Yes, SharePoint is a complicated, multifaceted Swiss army knife of a product, but it sure seems like all these SKUs and components would make it tough on customers trying to tread water in the SharePoint swamp.

I know it way way to early to say, but I keep getting a bad feeling about SharePoint 2010. I hope I am wrong but I think we will get a Vista or Office 2007 level consumer selection in the next 6 months. I am looking for a new killer feature that makes it worth upgrading to 64 bit?

SharePoint 2007 was a no brainer, the 2003 product was a collection of limits and frustrating features.

But what makes 2010 better? In 2006 it was pretty easy to sell 2007:

  • Easier to install
  • Better interface
  • Better administration environment
  • More templates
  • Better search experience
  • You probably have not implemented 2003 yet so lets start at 2007
Please someone tell me what is the 2010 story here? Lots of people have 2007, why should they migrate?

Has SharePoint peaked???

As an IT professional I spend my life worrying if what I am doing is about to go out of style or be flooded with lower cost kids.

I fear SharePoint may have reached its height. If this report that two couples getting married at the SharePoint 2009 conference are true, it is a clear sign that geek generated hype has overtaken real potential an benefit.

So it may be time to start looking for a new gig. Well right now SharePoint is still red hot, maybe a few more years until the kids take over and do it for £15 an hour.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

CodeProject: Recreating Frogger in Silverlight. Free source code and programming help

CodeProject: Recreating Frogger in Silverlight. Free source code and programming help
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The rapture of Truth and Trials of being a SharePoint consultant.

Again another Tweet

RT @McBoof: Shock, horror! RT @apoorv: Ballmer at #spc09: Internet facing websites were not in the initial design goal of SharePoint
So its now out in the open. Anyone who actually know WCM could see that MOSS 2007 was an INTRANET DM and collaboration tool. Trying to sit in rooms as people talked about using it to face the Internet was always very very painful.

This raises an issue us techie guys have to deal with every day. You hear things you know are false or even lies. Do you speak up based on your own rational conclusions, or do listen to your mother and take it for granted you just don't know anything.

The problem with MOSS 2007 on the Internet is many users just wanted it to be true so bad they would not listen. I have told some clients that they should consider another tool, perhaps a free tool, for WCM. But after one complained about me to my former boss I became a bit shy.

I really wanted to help that client. But is helping them telling them what they politically want to hear at that moment or telling them the "truth" as you can understand it.

I got the feeling a lot of clients were looking for gurus who would somehow make it happen. That great myth of guru magic in the hacker community is used again and again to deny reality. The truth was SharePoint (an excellent back office tool IMHO) was useless for the Internet.

I will be frank here, in 99% of cases you are better of using Dreamweaver to manage your web site, or having something written in ASP.NET of JSP than using SharePoint for WCM.

Now that Microsoft has open the door it feels very good to finally be able to openly say that.

Not to be too direct about it

Came across this Tweet today

schu RT @sherod: RT @jthake: in #SPC09 keynote Ballmer said MOSS2007 was never intended for Internet sites, <- oh the irony, the irony!!!

Seems Ballmer has confessed what I have said since 2006. Not to gloat but I WAS RIGHT, you should never have even considered using MOSS 2007 as an Internet WCM. It didn't work.

After several years of pushing this one I am glad to see that I was right. The question is will 2010 be as good as free or cheap WCM systems on the market?

Monday, 19 October 2009

BBC NEWS | Business | Why Microsoft can't afford Windows 7 to fail

BBC NEWS | Business | Why Microsoft can't afford Windows 7 to fail

BBC consider the unthinkable, an end to Windows.  But reading the article you soon see that really in this economy, even after Vista, its just not possible to imagine a Microsoft free world.
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Sunday, 18 October 2009

BBC NEWS | Business | Twitter and Facebook aid small firms

From "mom and pop" diners to cupcake shops to technology start-ups, small business owners across America have been thrown an unexpected lifeline in the midst of the recession by social networking sites.
BBC NEWS | Business | Twitter and Facebook aid small firms
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Friday, 16 October 2009

A Warning About Forums

ScreenShot006_4a43d6e40edf47a28e5340c78b70fe3a.jpg (JPEG Image, 701x419 pixels)

A SharePoint team site provides you a discussion list.  Discussion lists are standard web information tools.  People can post in a discussion.  Members can write comments.  While blogs post the newest on top, a discussion places the newest at the bottom of the group.  As you discuss a subject you work downward.  New topic are stacked on the top, like dishes on a stack.

Its a simple structure to organize discussions.  You see whats latest on top and you can drill down.

Technically speaking a blog with comments turned on is essentially a forum.  I once created a blogging toll in PHP by simply changing the logic of a discussion group.

So this seems like an easy tool.  You might think about using it to promote communication, to capture discussions. 

But I ask you to stop and think: what have you seen in discussion on the internet?  Two words come up again and again: "flame war"

The issue with discussion groups is that essentially they are archaic. Think of the recent town hall meetings in the United States.  No matter how many rational people you have behaving themselves, you only need 1 or 2 "trolls" to ruin any forum on any subject.  You might think that in a work place this won't happen, but stop and think about the reality of work.  Bullying and clique formation is a key problem in any company, and a chat forum could easily digress in to a bully session.  I have seen it happen several times.  And people become obsessed and waste masses of time.

Forums just do this.  It seems almost to be a physical law of chat groups. Think about other tools to promote communication and team building.  SharePoint is not everything.  VoIP allows you to get groups talking to each other.  Talking provides the social cues that prevent flame wars.  People feel the presence of other people and regulate themselves. 

Groups need to think carefully about how they are going to create themselves as a group. 

How they are going to establish members.  Ideally they will spend time together, but in the modern world you need to relay on computer messages.  DON'T think you need to do everything in SharePoint.  Other tools are better at keeping in touch with each other.  Groups can IM, VoiP, Email and just call each other. 

Team making at the start of a project is essential.  Once you feel confident you have a team with enough shared respect and ideas you might want to give them chat groups.

Don't open up company wide chat groups open to everyone.  Don't have forums where management participates with staff.  A forum should be ONLY a tool for existing groups that have enough respect they will not flame each other.  Otherwise you are taking a risk.
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Interview with Fujitsu on Document Scanning Systems with SharePoint-Episode 36

<a href="">Click here to download the show!</a>

In episode 36 Rob, Nick, and Brett catch up with Thomas Postulka of Fujitsu to discuss document scanning systems and how they relate to SharePoint. Thomas was kind enough to sign up for an interview as part of the Road2SPC road show and even came out during a horrific storm to do the interview!
Interview with Fujitsu on Document Scanning Systems with SharePoint-Episode 36

Nicolas Georgeault's Twitt post thank you
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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Sociology of SharePoint 101: Blog Bling

Blogs are light weight web content publishing.

If you have critical information to share with your organisation that must be right, use Web Content Management tools. By the way SharePoint is kind of weak on WCM side of things so you may even consider not communicating in mass with SharePoint at all. SharePoint is best at collaboration.

But if you have a number of people or teams you want to allow to quickly communicate to the greater community without the requirements of of full WCM than a blog is an excellent tool. Example cases where a SharePoint blog is a useful tool:
  • Status updates for IT to the rest of the company
  • Feedback from ongoing events in real time
  • Sharing knowledge of an expert
  • Keeping status information on the Intranet (microblogging)
SharePoint has a expansion kit that just about everyone installs.

But there are problems with blogging as a tool in your office. The push back I get mostly is "we don't want people to waste their time blogging." And that is actually very good push back.

Look at the side of this blog, or almost any blog, and you will notice that I have added tonnes of bling bling. I have added mashups, blog rolls, links, Flickr graphic feeds, RSS feeds, etc.

And bloggers generally form in to communities where they exchange kudos and fight it out for status. I roughly know where my Second Life blog now ranks in all Second Life blogs. I check constantly my hit rates, where my hits are coming from, and when one of my blogs once made the top 100,000 in technorati I could not focus on anything else for a while.

The problem is the the medium becomes the message, that blogging as a social activity stresses the status of its author so much that it could lead to the following negatives:

  • Information created to gain attention rather than be accurate,
  • Large amounts of time wasted on adding features to blog that add no benefit,
  • Competition between bloggers for status.

What to do about it? Well Blogs are just too useful (unlike Wikis) to decide not to use at all. In a large company with lots of people and departments with messages to publish nothing beats a blog. Just using WCM involves too much effort and using email will further harm already stressed email usage.

I would suggest that an organisation set up a simple set of practice for all bloggers. These would include keeping blog minimal, posting only significant data, and not tracking hit rates.

It might seem silly but I find that just knowing how many people visit your what ever it is leads to obsessive economies on the Internet. On Flickr people get view counts and make contacts, so there is intense rivalry between users on these. In Wikipedia people are judged for number of contributions. Facebook people show off their friend lists with pride.

And this is the core problem, Internet technology tends to promote quantity over quality. Its up to your and your companies culture to promote quality. The tools themselves won't do that, certainly not SharePoint which though useful is far from an ideal ECM.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Plans for Windows 8 allegedly leaked online - Software - Technology - News -

Microsoft staffer forgets social networking is public.

An employee has allegedly accidentally leaked details of Microsoft’s next operating system via his LinkedIn profile.

Robert Morgan, a senior member of the Microsoft Research team for the last seven years, posted the details on his profile at LinkedIn, a popular social networking site for business professionals.

He describes himself as: “Working in high security department for research and development involving strategic planning for medium and long-term projects. Research & Development projects including 128bit architecture compatibility with the Windows 8 kernel and Windows 9 project plan.”

If correct the new operating system will be a major jump for Microsoft, which is producing a 32bit version of Windows 7 as well as a 64bit one. The jump to 128bit suggests Microsoft is banking on machines using much faster processors and a buoyant hardware refresh cycle.

Steve Ballmer has confirmed that the company is working on a client operating system to follow Windows 7 but details were not released. The earliest expected date would be 2012 he said.

Also revealing is the planning of Windows 9, something no-one at Microsoft has confirmed before.
Plans for Windows 8 allegedly leaked online - Software - Technology - News -
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Socioology of SharePoint 101: Wiki, the Bad News

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I guess the first first rule about first rules is never to have a first rule.

Which actually means sometimes its probably okay to have a first rule.

As for SharePoint there are a number of techie first rules from not to use virtual hardware for databases in live to always run application pools on unique AD identities.

But as for once SharePoint goes wild, what rules are there?

Companies will spend vast amounts of time and effort to lay the technical groundwork (generally being taken to the cleaners by contractors making it all seem much harder than it is) and rush SharePoint to the users without much thinking about what does or does not work. IT will find itself being hit by requests for things like Blogs and Wikis without any criteria for selection.

Well let me make one rule I think is pretty hard and fast: don't use Wikis.

This is for a number of reasons:

  1. SharePoints Wiki is not very good
  2. Wikis are not very good
  3. Users find wikis impossible to use
  4. Wikis can never be finished (you can prove this actually and its a real flaw)
But I would like to concentrate on the social reasons Wikis make for bad collaboration.

Wikis have the following key problems:

  1. Because Wikis an unstructured media it is unclear how to use them. This means different users will go about them in various different ways. But because most wikis deploy open contribution models (there is just too much work for 1 person) this leads to endless debates on how the Wiki will be used. Look at wikipedia, which gets more press over its debates on how to govern than its freedom of expression.
  2. Because wikis provide for a massive network connecting all nodes, the number of missing links grows exponentially with the number of nodes added. That means for every piece of new information added to the site the amount of linking grows in relationship to the existing sites. To but it not too nicely the more you work on a wiki the more undone it becomes.
  3. Wikis push consolidation and power of political process on the web. There are millions of blogs out there, and only one Wikipedia. Wikis demand so much effort, and require so much time be spent on their government that they consolidate effort and thus control in a few hands, thus ruining the entire collaboration benefit of the web.
  4. Wikis produce unstructured code that is hard to machine read, hard to mash up, and ugly.
  5. Collaboration on the text, rather than follow up comments as in blogs, makes for long poorly written post that make less sense in time.
The key problem with wikis I would sum up is that they are hard to start, require lots of work and lots of management, and the more you work on them the less they get done.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Youth 'cannot live' without web

A survey of 16 to 24 year olds has found that 75% of them feel they "couldn't live" without the internet.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Youth 'cannot live' without web
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Tuesday, 13 October 2009

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Sociology of SharePoint 101: Team Site

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SharePoint offers a set of collaboration tools. Social tools of all kinds like telephones, televisions, and trucks support certain kinds of social activities. What SharePoint really does is support kinds of social working, and to really understand SharePoint is not the technology as much as the social uses made by web pages.

In my experience the most popular SharePoint feature is the team site. A team site allows a set of members to share documents, comments, to make list items and track tasks. It includes the ability to make calendar items.


Over the past 5 years I have seen this tool more than any other used by businesses. Business is generally about project work which is what Information workers usually do.

Team sites not only support small project team working, they also avoid some of the dangers of other web 2.0 tools. Unlike Wikis its unlikely that a small team will get side tracked with arguing about how the SharePoint site should be created, mainatined or governed, or who has control over it. Unlike blogs there is little chance that producers will concentrate on status and kudoos over doing some work. Discussions among team members who work together are not likely to contain flames. Team sites are generally safe ways for busiensses to make clear use of Web 2.0 featues.


But there are also negatives to team sites. These negatives are the negatives of teams. Remember its not the tool but the kind of group that the tool is used by. Team sites are used by teams and thus the problems of teams are the problems of team sites.

Teams can develop loyalty with established members wanting to work with each other and not allowing new members to join. Team sites can produces an internet of unconnect little kingdoms that don't work together.

Teams will inherit work without a clear understanding of the history of it. SharePoint reflects these problems. Team sites are generally be created without any information about the pre-history of the project. Work is repeated. Clients get billed again and again for the same work until they have enough. It becomes hard to join up small teams in to enterprises. You get a few gurus with some people around them over a company able to form to meet new needs.


When using a Team Site or planning Team Sites you should think about how to prevent a team from becoming a clique.

How can you connect teams to a company wide vision?

I think RSS feeds that come from company wide blogs or other information feeds to put the big picture there. Using an tool like Quest's web parts will enable the business to collect data from teams. Also trying to keep standards can promote shared working standards.

I would also suggest you talk to your users and get them involved in the process of making teams that work with the company. SharePoint is only a space to do social work, you still need to work with the people.

Bob Hooker's Golden Rules of Making SharePoint Community Work

What follows are a set of "rules" I have generated over years of working with SharePoint, more years on the Internet, and research. The goals of these rules are to create sites that provide collaboration while reducing opportunities for conflict, flames, and turf building.

First I present a set of inescapable truths:

The Inescapable Truths

  1. People trust people they have worked with before
  2. On any network there is a value of being first
  3. Discussion forums almost always explode in to flames
  4. Wikis, no matter how advanced, always look unfinished
  5. When you start setting down rules you have already lost
  6. The Internet presents as many risks for bad behavior as opportunities for good

Accepting these truths leads to these rules

The Golden Rules

  1. Provide collaboration in WSS project teams sites.
  2. Provide access only to members with a shared folder or blog to communicate to the greater community.
  3. Company wide information should almost always be controlled by Web Content Management available in MOSS 2007 and not WSS.
  4. Open discussions and chatsshould only be allowed on project sites by project members.
  5. Establish a shared understanding of proper SharePoint practice. Net guides can only be of so much value. For example it is very bad form on the net to flame someone for spelling mistakes, in a business it is probably necessary to point them out.
  6. Do not let managers and the works in the same forums.
  7. Make sure you bloggers understand a shared set of rules, to not "hot dog", blogging is a duty and right.
  8. Avoid Wikis unless you team is highly experienced and skills, and then try to avoid wikis all the same.

Authority and SharePoint

I need to recommend Cyberchiefs by Mathieu O'Neil

Though the work concentrates on the Open Source web community and not Microsoft, its study of wikipedia, blogging, and project communities are very useful to anyone thinking about how SharePoint technology will impact their organization.

I find that organizations don't tend to think of the risk of Web 2.0. You get people who ignore Web 2.0 and people who think its great, but O'Neil is for those who thinks "it just is", and looks at collaboration and community on the web as a social reality with its negative and positive impacts.

O'Neil studies authority and autonomy, and these are the key issues on SharePoint systems as well. O'Niel identifies four spaces of kinds of authority on the Internet.

  • Projects
  • Networks
  • Assembly
  • Forum
Each one tends to be dominated by its own kind of leaders, to form its own kind of community and will tend to follow its specific history.

SharePoint offers Web2.0 tool to provide all these spaces. Team Sites are classic project sites where experienced leaders can guide teams to produce text. Blogs provide at hand network tools, and Wiki and document libraries can provide Assembly function. Discussion forums are a standard of SharePoint.

Reading this book you can get some idea of what social impact these structures can have on your organization.

A few points, more my ideas but coming out of a third reading of this amazing book:

  1. Organizing your collaboration by projects will promote a community of experience, with more senior and experienced staff gaining status and cultivating sites as super users guiding new users. Team Sites are really SharePoints killer app as far as collaboration goes.
  2. Providing Blogs will produce a culture of competition and rankings, with key blogs and bloggers becoming more and more interested in outdoing each other, having more viewers, getting more content and being seen as more important to the organisation.
  3. Wiki projects will almost always become involved heavily in rules and regulations, as the leaders emerge trying to give some order to a fairly chaotic content too.
  4. Discussion forums are the hunting grounds of male macho bullies. I would strongly suggest to any IA or System Admin working with SharePoint to not give out discussion groups lightly, and to keep an eye on them in case they get out of hand. Discussion forums almost inevitably become full of flames.
The examples O'Niel usese from Wikipedia, LambdaMoss, Second Life, dailykos and debian all strike home for anyone who has used SharePoint in an office.


SharePoint is a great project tool, and projects are great social structures for companies to get work done. If you are looking at SharePoint as a collaboration tool you might ask "what kind of collaboration is good", and the project structure is the best.

These are not O'Neils rules but mine, but I think they can server as a good starting point:

Bob Hookers Golden Rules of SharePoint Sociology:
  1. Provide collaboration in project sites seen only by project members.
  2. Company wide information should be provided in managed sites with managed feedback.
  3. Discussions should only be allowed on project sites and limited to project time.
  4. Establish a shared understanding of proper SharePoint practice. Net guides can only be of so much value. For example it is very bad form on the net to flame someone for spelling mistakes, in a business it is probably necessary to point them out.
  5. Do not let managers and the works they work with access to the same forums.
  6. Avoid long life sites and projects that are collaborative.
  7. Make sure you bloggers understand a shared set of rules, to not "hot dog"
Sadly many of the most interesting new tool in SharePoint like Wikis, blogs and chats are also those with the most social danger. Flame wars and deletion by "net nazis" are bad enough on the web, but imagine if any of these problems came to work.

Think about how Wikipedia works, would you really want to work like that? To have your work suddenly deleted by a more senior manager because it was not relevant or some other subject assessment? Would you want to talk with you managers in a chat room full of flamers?

My suggestion to someone thinking about the impact of SharePoint, stick mostly to collaboration by groups within groups, give projects with set life times, and keep a keen eye on what is Company wide vs. project local. Don't hand a company wide tool to users by accident.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Creating a Web Application in SharePoint

To create a new site in SharePoint in a new Web Application first you create the web application. Web Applications create spaces in IIS to hold web sites or site collections. First start from the configuration page.

Select Application Management and then create or extend web application

Select create a web application. To create a new web application you need to select a port number. MOSS will assign a unique port but I tend to find its best to plan this out before hand. Then assign rights. Also MOSS gives the database an impossibly long name which can make backup confusing so I assign a real name.

This process has created a Application, but a Web Application is empty. So you have the option to create a high level site collection.

To create a site collection you assign a template and administrators. If you don't assign yourself as an administrator you won't have access. In this case we make a collaborative portal.

This then create a top level site collection.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Quantum computing may actually be useful, after all

Quantum computers are computers that exploit the weird properties of matter at extremely small scales. Where a bit in a classical computer can represent either a "1" or a "0," a quantum bit, or qubit, can represent "1" and "0" simultaneously. Computations performed on a string of qubits are thus the equivalent of computations performed on every possible value of a string of ordinary bits. Since eight classical bits can represent 256 different values, a single eight-qubit calculation is the equivalent of 256 classical calculations.
Quantum computing may actually be useful, after all
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Collaboration and Content Strategies Blog: Is SharePoint Inevitable for My Organization?

In an ideal world, architectural principles that optimize long-term, enterprise-wide value would guide IT decisions. And those architectural principles, in turn, would reflect the needs of the business. But years of speaking with clients about their real-life situations have demonstrated the reality of how those decisions are often made. Decision making in a sub-optimal or unbalanced environment requires a bit of extra foresight. Politics is the art of the possible, so in these cases, central IT decides to just let SharePoint in rather than fight it.
Collaboration and Content Strategies Blog: Is SharePoint Inevitable for My Organization?

Well an interesting article, but one that shows gain the point why Microsoft has risen to such domination.  Opposition to MS technology generally comes from a "architectural principles" concept without looking at the economics.  The main point I would make for at the least doing a PoC of MOSS for ANY organisation is simple: Collaboration is a growing business need.  In 5 years time most knowledge worker will have some SharePoint experience, how much do you want to spend training when it starts becoming re-training? 
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Wednesday, 7 October 2009

BBC NEWS | Business | EU approves new Microsoft pledges

The European Union has voiced its approval for Microsoft's latest pledges to curb its anti-competitive practices.

The technology giant has agreed to give customers a wider choice of web browser through its Windows operating system and to share information with rivals.

The EU will now consult PC makers, software firms and consumers on Microsoft's offer.

The breakthrough could see an end to the anti-trust battle that has lasted for the best part of a decade.

"The commission will formally market test proposals made by Microsoft to address concerns regarding the tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows PC operating system," said the EU's competition commissioner Neelie Kroes.

"The preliminary view is that Microsoft's commitments would indeed address our concerns," she added.

"PC users should have an effective and unbiased choice between Internet Explorer and competing web browsers."

In 2004, the EU ruled that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position by freezing out rivals.

It said Microsoft must let competitors' products run on its operating system.

BBC NEWS | Business | EU approves new Microsoft pledges
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Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Researcher Discovers Method to Fully Process Encrypted Data Without Knowing its Content -- An IBM Researcher has solved a thorny mathematical problem that has confounded scientists since the invention of public-key encryption several decades ago. The breakthrough, called "privacy homomorphism," or "fully homomorphic encryption," makes possible the deep and unlimited analysis of encrypted information -- data that has been intentionally scrambled -- without sacrificing confidentiality.

IBM's solution, formulated by IBM Researcher Craig Gentry, uses a mathematical object called an "ideal lattice," and allows people to fully interact with encrypted data in ways previously thought impossible. With the breakthrough, computer vendors storing the confidential, electronic data of others will be able to fully analyze data on their clients' behalf without expensive interaction with the client, and without seeing any of the private data. With Gentry's technique, the analysis of encrypted information can yield the same detailed results as if the original data was fully visible to all.

Using the solution could help strengthen the business model of "cloud computing," where a computer vendor is entrusted to host the confidential data of others in a ubiquitous Internet presence. It might better enable a cloud computing vendor to perform computations on clients' data at their request, such as analyzing sales patterns, without exposing the original data.

Researcher Discovers Method to Fully Process Encrypted Data Without Knowing its Content
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Download details: Office SharePoint Server 2007 VHD

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 VHD Download for trials
Download details: Office SharePoint Server 2007 VHD
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Jive to Socialize Content Across the Enterprise; Liberates Microsoft SharePoint Content in First Phase of New Strategy | Search Journal

Jive to Socialize Content Across the Enterprise; Liberates Microsoft SharePoint Content in First Phase of New Strategy
Jive to Socialize Content Across the Enterprise; Liberates Microsoft SharePoint Content in First Phase of New Strategy | Search Journal

With the SharePoint Connector, Jive customers can search, browse, and link to SharePoint repositories and content from wherever they happen to be working in Jive, including groups, discussion threads, documents, and blogs. The SharePoint Connector enables Jive customers to:
  • give authorized users transparent, click-through access to both applications while exposing Jive SBS social features in the heart of SharePoint;
  • keep track of modifications to SharePoint content and activities as well as SharePoint content that has been socialized in Jive;
  • conduct unified searches that reflect both application environments, and link to and embed content in both directions;
  • publish content from SharePoint to Jive SBS allowing for content to be reviewed, edited and processed prior to sharing with the entire community;
  • publish content from Jive SBS to SharePoint to leverage SharePoint's storage and content capabilities to comply with company data and security policies; and
  • manage corporate governance policies through a granular, semantically rich business rule language to help IT and SharePoint administrators strictly define what, how, and when content gets socialized out of SharePoint hierarchies.
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Still waiting for Wave

Well I am a collaboration expert with one of the worlds largest implementer, a long term user of Google tools like Google Doc, Calendars, Maps, and Blogger and someone who could give them feedback comparing the product to SharePoint, which I would be happy to do.

So why the wait?

Microsoft made Beta's of SharePoint available to anyone in summer of 2006 almost a year before RFM. This just seem like hype.
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Mashing up with SharePoint, the good, the bad and the ugly

Facebook | My Photos - TouchGraph Photos

Sadly the badges from Pipes failed all my tests on SharePoint, which is depressing because Yahoo Pipes is the best mashup tool I have ever used. The problem is that SharePoint does not like the JavaScript you use to server up pipes. So I have my pipe of Twitter posts containing the terms SharePoint and WSS but I can not put it on my WSS test machines.

Facebook | My Photos - TouchGraph Photos
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On the other hand SharePoint prefers iFrames and if you are planning on mashing up with SharePoint the best way is to create iFrames to material not blocked by your local firewalls. Firewall policy can be beyond idiotic. Blocking facebook is probably like taking Internet access away in the late 1990s or not giving staff phones.

So if you want to extend your SharePoint by linking it to the Web 2.0 collaborative revolution, thus unleashing its true potential, and you want it more than just links make sure you network allows access and RSS feeds. If they don't I suggest you ask the business why Security polices are often set in a vacum.

In a very large organisation Twitter and RSS twitter feeds surfaced via SharePoint could be a major tool in keeping the company in line with its consumer base. A shared Wikispace could link a community of experts at your firm with government staff who also form policy around your clients. SharePoint could provide a major hub for information from inside and outside your company, bringing it together with secure data on sales compared to RSS feeds of Twits or blog posts about your industry.

Come on everyone, think a little.......

Going Linux but keeping your SharePoint job

Facebook | My Photos - TouchGraph Photos

Okay I am going to be very honest here. Right now Ubuntu 9.04 - the Jaunty Jackalope is far beyond Vista or XP, and its a platform that anyone would rather work on. It makes excellent use of even toy hardware like I have. I have a Pentium for God's sack. And yet running Ubuntu I have an excellent experience. And now with Sun's Virtualisation tool VirtualBox I can do a significant part of my development work inside of Ubunut by running off VHD created for Virtual PC but running in (far superior IMHO) VirtualBox

Facebook | My Photos - TouchGraph Photos

There are two truths: First Open Source is overall going to provide more innovation at less cost than anything Microsoft can make. The other truth is that Microsoft continues to dominate business computing and with the migration to service many of Microsoft's core products like SharePoint will continue to be a part of what workers are offered by management.

The danger is that the two sides could become inflexible with Microsoft people ignoring the greater universe dominated by Open Source solutions and a spirit of group cooperation. On the other hand the Linux developer can find themselves excluded by the power and wealth created by software while they develop all the best ideas and lead the entire software "project".
Facebook | My Photos - TouchGraph Photos

You can see clearly the benefit here. It simply would not be possible on this "shit" machine to run XP with Virtual Server dishing up VMs of SharePoint in a efficient way, but here you can see it does it wil little problem. Using all Open Source tools I can create a VM environment to develop and test Microsoft features. it is possible to use the two world together to profit.
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Sharepoint.jpg (JPEG Image, 447x270 pixels)
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BBC NEWS | Technology | New rules to end 'blogger payola'

US regulators will for the first time crack down on bloggers who fail to disclose fees or freebies they get from companies for reviewing products.

The Federal Trade Commission, FTC, decided to update its nearly 30 year old guidelines to clarify the law for the vast world of blogging.

Offenders could face eventual fines of up to $11,000 (£6,900) per violation.

The updated policy on how advertisers can use endorsements will also apply to celebrities and research firms.

Until now, bloggers had not been covered by the guidelines - something which had concerned consumer groups. They had argued that for a long time that the links between some bloggers and companies were not always totally transparent and clear for readers.

"Consumers are increasingly dependent on the internet for purchase information," said Jack Gillis of the Consumer Federation of America.

"There's tremendous opportunity to steer consumers in the wrong direction."

There is nothing in the new rules about how disclosures must be made.

"That's left up to the endorser," said Richard Cleland, assistant director of the FTC's division of advertising practices.

"It can be a banner, part of the review. The only requirement is that it be clear and conspicuous."

BBC NEWS | Technology | New rules to end 'blogger payola'

No one has really ever given me anything for any of this.
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Monday, 5 October 2009

BBC NEWS | Technology | Thousands of Hotmail users hacked

BBC NEWS | Technology | Thousands of Hotmail users hacked
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Microsoft predicts 80,000 IT jobs for UK - News, Gadgets & Tech - The Independent

Almost 80,000 new jobs will be created over the next four years as thousands of new technology firms set up in business in the UK, technology giant Microsoft predicted today.

Research by the firm suggested more than £50bn will be spent on information technology (IT) this year and will increase by 1.8 per cent a year between now and 2013.

The IT market will drive the creation of nearly 2,500 new businesses and 78,200 new jobs between the end of this year and 2013, according to the study.

Most of the new companies will be small and locally owned organisations, and the jobs will be highly skilled and high-quality, said the report,

Microsoft underwent a "cultural reformation" when it felt the effect of the global recession, chief executive Steve Ballmer said today.

"Consumer spending was impacted, we had to decide how to cut. We suffered the first revenue declines in our company history. They were a few per cent," he said during a visit to London.

"I had a journalist say to me: 'Severe revenue decline' and I had to concede that any revenue decline felt severe if you've never had one.

"It was a cultural reformation for us," he said in the CBI annual lecture.

Microsoft "locked" its research and development budget and made sure it keep enough money to continue to establish new businesses, he said.

Microsoft predicts 80,000 IT jobs for UK - News, Gadgets & Tech - The Independent
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BBC NEWS | Technology | Flash moves on to smart phones

BBC NEWS | Technology | Flash moves on to smart phones
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Sunday, 4 October 2009

BBC NEWS | Technology | Court order served over Twitter

The High Court has given permission for an injunction to be served via social-networking site Twitter.

The order is to be served against an unknown Twitter user who anonymously posts to the site using the same name as a right-wing political blogger.

The order demands the anonymous Twitter user reveal their identity and stop posing as Donal Blaney, who blogs at a site called Blaney's Blarney.

The order says the Twitter user is breaching the copyright of Mr Blaney.

He told BBC News that the content being posted to Twitter in his name was "mildly objectionable".

BBC NEWS | Technology | Court order served over Twitter
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Get Online Microsoft Services Demo

Microsoft Services offering demo at, gives you a view of the future of the Microsoft Stack as a Service.
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Microsoft TechNet – Server Quest II

Microsoft TechNet – Server Quest II

Are you Geek enough to play the IT game?
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Friday, 2 October 2009

SharePoint 2010 Silverlight Web Part, and why it is not a big deal

SharePoint 2010 Enhancements for End Users: New Silverlight Web Part & Improved UI for Adding Web Parts to a Page - SharePoint 2010 - Bamboo Nation

SharePoint 2010 Enhancements for End Users: New Silverlight Web Part & Improved UI for Adding Web Parts to a Page - SharePoint 2010 - Bamboo Nation

Bamboo Software, having seen the same demo as the rest of us, has ripped a few slides to make a piece promoting the Silverlight Web Part in 2010.

Well I have only seen the video demo from which the 2 screen grabs above come from. It seems to show that you have an OTB Silverligth Web Part, but all it does is let you place silverlight applications in your sharepoint page, not create or edit Silverlight with SharePoint content.

SharePoint can already do this, not only SharePoint 2007 but 2003 and I assume 2001. Let me show.

To prove I am not cheating I use a VM of Windows 2003 with WSS 2.0 running on Sun VirtualBox VM technology on Ubuntu Linux. The ultimate 'nothing up my sleeves kind of demo'. Here you see me installing Silverlight on the VM. (By the way this took significantly less time on VirtualBox than on VirtualPC).

I actually have created hundreds of Silverlights over the past year. Most went down with Popfly. But Photosynth is still there and seems to be growing. So I rip the silverlight Photosynth from my page.

Now I just edit a simple content web editor web part.

Just past the URL for the Photosynth Silverlight in to the html editor

And you have a WSS 2.0 site running a rich silverlight 3-D photosynth.

So as it stands today the entire Silverlight Web Part in 2010 just streamlines function that already exists in in SharePoint 2003 and 2007.

Very disappointing.

What I wanted was something like Popfly that would allow Silverlight mashups of Sharepoint material for projects. As of right now you don't have that.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Event ID to track for SharePoint

I have come up with this list of key Event IDs to track for SharePoint 2007 in the event logs. They are not all the possible ones, but a list I have taken some effort in making. I would love to hear anyone who has any more Event IDs.


Pretty exciting hum? Well I hope that help someone somewhere who has to hack together a quick project but I would really love some feedback on this one.