Off Topic

What happened to me?

IMG_0628For those of you that have known me for a while, you know that I absolutely deplore coffee. I’m not quite certain if it’s the tasty, the acidity, the smell, I’m not quite certain what it is but I deplore it.

Well, similar to wine, if you have bad wine, you basically never want to drink it ever again. If you drink good wine, you relish in the flavour and how it can have such vibrant taste.

In high school I would go and drink Irish Crème Cappuccinos at Starbucks, not because the taste was all that great but because it contained “Irish Crème”. Boy was that a mistake that stunted my growth and kept me from being the 6’8” man that I’d hoped to be.  Okay, just kidding, but seriously, I definitely am not much of a Cappuccino kind of guy. Why ruin the goodness of a shot of espresso with perfectly good crème and sugar that could be used in a baking process for something else?

For me I stumbled into the vibrant taste of coffee this past August. I decided I was going “cold turkey” with diet coke and was just going to switch back to purely water. This feeble attempt lasted for a few weeks before I was finding myself, while incredibly clear (drinking more water always tends to make things more clear) that I was falling asleep – maybe that’s a good thing? I was however finding that in the morning without caffeine I could be a grouch (though I’m sure that some of my closer friends had other names for it Smile).

So after conferring with myself, I decided I would give Starbucks drip coffee a chance. Besides there was a  Starbucks drip coffee machine downstairs in the building that I worked in that was complimentary to anyone that worked there. So I gave Pike Roast a try. Not too bad, but not something that grabbed me and made me say, “Oh you’re amazing.” The flip side was that the caffeine definitely was helping me to be a little more alert and the grouchiness was fading little by little. So I moved on to Bold and found that there was definitely a love affair in the making. The only caveat – it just didn’t have the right flavour to it. But how could I justify the cost I asked myself? Even as a Starbucks Gold card holder, it was still $2 a cup and required a stop by one of the several dispensaries in the area. Further more for days when I wasn’t feeling the Bold, I did have the alternative Café Americano but still, at $2 a cup without a second job, it was going to become financially burdensome to keep up this caffeinated habit.

raycharles-starbucksPerhaps I should have known that I was destined to enjoy Coffee through the enticement of the Ray Charles Starbucks card that I’d received when I bought a copy of the Ray Charles album “Genius Loves Company” (what can I say, I’m the genius and coffee is the company? Winking smile). Which further makes me laugh since whenever I go to Starbucks and hand them this card they all look at it and wonder where I had gotten such a card – primarily since it’s coming up on being seven years old and not readily available. The other typical response is that it’s the coolest or cutest card they’ve ever seen. I even had one barista try to take it when it zero’d out so to speak… yeah that didn’t happen Smile

Anywhere, where does that leave me? Besides having to beat people away from my Ray Charles Starbucks card? Well after a little market research looking at the Tassimo coffee pots as well as the Flavia and Keurig machines I did an analysis of requirements and alternatives. Not to say that I didn’t look at all the different coffee machines out there, but I was looking for something that would be low maintenance, single serving, easy to operate under the influence of next to zero sleep. At least those were the requirements. The alternatives of course were to become more disciplined at going to bed earlier, learn to live on uber-man schedule where I sleep thirty minutes every few hours or to take up something else and after all I’ve read about smoking it just didn’t seem like a good idea Winking smile

So I bit the bullet and pulled the trigger and ordered a Keurig coffee machine and a box of samples of different Kona coffee k-cups. I’ve ended up sticking with Timothy’s Kona Blend Coffee as I’m a sucker for Kona coffee having actually liked the way it smelled as a kid growing up in Hawaii.

But that’s not to say that’s the only coffee k-cups that are magnificent… I’ve definitely found a delight with what is known as “Jet Fuel” from the Coffee People. It’s a strong, dark blend with a taste that is distinct – and free of carcinogens no less which makes it all the better. Plus after taking a some to work to share with colleagues, one of them definitely seemed to think that it made the peppermint mocha mix used as an additive in their coffee that it made the peppermint taste even stronger – can you go wrong with such goodness?

Perhaps, but that’s also why I have an alternative to the Café Americano – Timothy’s Espresso blend. While it’s not a one for one replacement it comes darn close from a taste perspective. And for those late nights where you’re looking for the taste, there’s good ole Timothy’s Espresso blend decaf – sure there’s a little caffeine, but nothing that a little Kerberos documentation won’t do to push you to dream land.

So where does that leave me in the morning? Typically thinking to myself, “Decisions, decisions…” especially with the influence of the Starbucks thermos, the Panera coffee cup and the Jet Fuel conveniently edging itself toward the Keurig machine. There are definitely mornings where I’m looking for comfort and not really the kick of an after burner through Jet Fuel which leads me to the Kona or another favorite, the Nantucket Blend. Either of which provides that nice and warm flavour with a gentle nudge that wraps its arms around you and reminds you that even though it’s a jungle out there, you’ve got your emotional blanket to take with you Smile

Documentation Infrastructure

Docs: Upgrading to SharePoint Server 2010 v3 Released

Similar to other documents, Microsoft has released a second update this month pertaining to Upgrading to SharePoint 2010. Similar to other docs, no change log is included with the document – break out your compare documents to find out the differences.

The document is available in two flavours, doc and pdf and available here for download:

Upgrading to SharePoint 2010 – Version 3, Released 17 January 2001

Documentation Infrastructure

Docs: Group Policy for Microsoft Office 2010 – Update v2

In case you downloaded the Group Policy for Microsoft Office 2010 earlier this month, Microsoft has updated the documentation, still available in your favorite three flavours of doc, pdf and xps.

Group Policy for Microsoft Office 2010 Version 2, released on 17 January 2011

Unfortunately a change log page is not included within the document, thereby preventing us from knowing exactly what changed.

Adoption How To...

Productivity Hub for SharePoint 2010 – Update

Back in June 2010, Microsoft released what was known as the Productivity Hub for SharePoint 2010. It was a site collection that Microsoft provided that could be extended out for end users to visit to acquire knowledge on how to use SharePoint.  Great resource if you were short on training components and looking for assistance but weren’t able to find their IT Pro (who was probably hiding somewhere no doubt, fearing for their lives). Further for those that are looking to engage and foster adoption of the Information Worker’s in your business, the productivity hub is key to gaining their buy in and helping them to truly dive into the SharePoint platform to make it their tool set.

The best part of the hub in my opinion is the ability to customize it and add additional modules that meet your organization or business unit’s needs to ensure that your implementation is actually serving them from a business perspective rather than just humming away as another file share replacement.

Well, like most technology solutions, there are updates and enhancements.  On 17 January 2011, Microsoft released such an update for the Productivity Hub for SharePoint 2010. So, if you’re looking to just download and implement with the content packs – fear not, it’s simply and easy by just heading over to the Microsoft Download Center at:

However, if you’re feeling crafty and are looking to customize this product, it’s available on CodePlex from the team that created it (thanks RedTech!) at:

The key enhancement to the Productivity hub in this case is that of the customization documentation to provide guidance when crafting the Hub for your implementation’s UX.

Documentation Infrastructure Networking

SharePoint Products and Technologies Protocol Documentation Update

For those of you that are working with integrating SharePoint with other technologies or just plumb curious as to the interfaces and technical specifications to take into account while developing solutions, best check out the 186 MB of SharePoint Products and Technologies Protocol Documentation that was recently updated and re-released. The original documentation was released back in July 2010.

Quick access here:

Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Protocol Documentation – (1/10/11 v1.11)

Architecture Identity Management

Federation Extensions for SharePoint 3.0

If you’re running Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 or SharePoint Server 2007 and not quite ready to migrate to SharePoint 2010 to leverage the Claims Authentication Provider, take heart, there’s still hope.

Back in May 2010, Microsoft released several documents and extensions to assist with configuring the SharePoint v3 (or v12 depending on how you look at it) platform to federate with AD FS 2.0 – allowing for claims authentication federation.


So how do I do this you ask?  Microsoft used to have a document out on Connect for this, but it’s now gone RTW.  The document is available here:

Couple things to make note of…

  • Don’t install AD FS 2.0 on the same server as SharePoint.  This should be a no brainer similar to “do not use a basic install” of SharePoint on any server.
  • To keep search and other capabilities operational, leave the default zone as Integrated/NTLM Auth. This allows your crawler to still operate in its regular fashion.
  • The federation capability really should only be leveraged for extranet / internet situations and not for use for all zones of users. Sure it’s great that claims auth with WSS v3 is there and supported, but let’s not get too zealous just yet 🙂
  • Get comfy with editing your web.config if you aren’t already so that you’re able to use the claims-based role and membership providers – if you’ve set this up for SharePoint 2010, then it should seem like old hat to you. Better yet, work with your developers to craft up a solution package that updates the web.config for you so that you’re not violating the laws of thermodynam… I mean good source control practices.
  • Note that if you’re building this into a multi-server farm, the extension bits have to be installed across all servers – yes, that’s right, it’s not a solutions package and won’t copy across all the servers for you. That’s not to say that the web.config couldn’t be updated via solution package though per the previous bullet.

Just think of the applications though, you can keep your WSS v3 / MOSS 2007 farm operational and federate with the partner organizations that you’ve been looking to let into your system while building a transition path to move to SharePoint 2010 using Claims whole heartily. 

Last thoughts… how cool is it that you can actually have a better client integration environment with the extensions that weren’t available with the ADFS v1 authentication provider with Windows Server 2003 R2.

Documentation SharePoint Weekly

Monday Morning Bytes…

Wake Up Bits…

It’s Monday morning, 10 January 2011… do you know what your group policy objects are configured to that may potentially affect the end user experience between SharePoint 2010 and your Office 2010 client users?  If not, no need to sweat, Microsoft recently published a document on Group Policy for Microsoft Office 2010 (7 January 2011). It’s fairly well written, weighing in at a whopping 1.9 MB (303 pages) for the DOC file (where’s my light and low Cal docx edition???).

The document finely articulates the different capabilities of the Office system, describing the policy object settings and what their effects on the Office client family and SharePoint products and technologies are. Included in this document is information that pertains to the SharePoint Workspace product as well as the administrative templates that are associated with the product.

For instance, with regard to the Contact Card, there is an option to “Configure presence icon” with three options – Display All, Display some, Display None (page 161). While this might seem trivial, it’s definitely something to keep in mind when you’re working in an environment where you want to show presence and you have populated your SIP address or made it available to the User Profile Service for consumption.

So while knowing how the group policy objects within your Active Directory based domain are important, there are definitely individuals new to the SharePoint career that have been tasked with implementing SharePoint Foundation Server 2010 to begin assisting with a proof of concept, pilot or perhaps a full on collaboration system that has requirements that can’t justify the procurement of SharePoint Server 2010’s Standard or Enterprise licensing. Or perhaps you’re not a SharePoint Administrator / IT Pro at all and you’re looking for some additional documentation to help with planning and pushing forward with developing an implementation guide, then you’ll definitely want to pick up Microsoft’s updated “Getting Started with Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010” document (Originally Published November 2010, updated 7 January 2011).

The document provides great detail to assist in the planning phase of an SPF 2010 implementation and points out the key differences and features that have been removed from the Windows SharePoint Services version 3 platform.

Good morning, happy reading and good day!


Fresh SharePoint 2010 Content in 2011

A few new documents have been released from Microsoft for SharePoint Products and Technologies here in 2011, though they aren’t yet showing up in the TechCenter. I found this out only due to the fact that Isaac Stith (aka @mrisaac) made note of an updated Capacity Planning guide that wasn’t listed in the TechCenter feed.

These recently published documents this first week of January 2011 include:

1/3 – SharePoint Foundation Server 2010 Deployment Guide
1/4 – Capacity Planning for SharePoint Server 2010
1/4 – Planning for Sites and Solutions for SharePoint Server, Part 1
1/4 – Planning for Sites and Solutions for SharePoint Server, Part 2
1/4 – Planning for Server Farms for SharePoint Server 2010

Also something that was snuck in at the end of the year that may be helpful for all the IT Pro Individuals out there – Microsoft has released a Help File doc that contains all SharePoint Server 2010 content on TechNet through 12/17/2010 here:

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 IT Pro Content – CHM

There’s also a SharePoint Foundation Server 2010 document available here:

Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Server 2010 IT Pro Content – CHM

Happy reading!

Best Practices Community Off Topic

SharePoint Practices Poll Results

During the Holiday break I threw a quickly developed poll up on Survey Monkey to see what folks perceptions were of their favorite SharePoint Practice in the Washington, DC area.  The results were eye-opening. Okay, not really. The results were non-scientific backing, further lacking turnout and non-repudiation controls.  One major control that was lacking was the ability to limit individuals to a single vote (I have a hunch some individuals may have double voted). Further with only a small subset of the SharePoint community voting, the results were incomplete and only took into account the perceptions of those voting.  What this poll did show was that there were indeed individuals near their computing devices that had the stamina to click on a link and then make a selection followed by clicking on a submit button – well played friends.

Nonetheless, there were 34 practices that were entered into the poll and the top ten practices that were selected in order of popularity in this very non-scientific poll:

Ranking Practice
1 ActionNet
2 Summit 7 Systems
3 Booz Allen Hamilton
5 Microsoft
6 Innovative-e
Portal Solutions
Planet Technologies
9 MetroStar Systems


So what does all of this mean? Not much, except that folks were able to click through a poll.

I’m sure that the raw data could be spun in some manner or fashion, but due to the non-scientific collection means and lack of controls in place, I figured it would be more interesting to make note of the practices that did show up in the top ten. Each of these practices do great work in the DC area, Nationally and Internationally.  All of the practices listed likewise  have great people working for them, that in turn have excellent results.

So what’s next?  Speaking with my friend and caped crusader, Joel Ward, we’ve tossed around ideas of how to better poll the community but from a different angle. Perhaps rather than just voting on the best practice to work for, we take an inside look with practice members and managers to find out more about their methods, their approaches and what their expertise is.  Call it reporting and showcasing SharePoint excellence throughout the community.

Practices in original non-scientific poll – ActioNet, Applied Information Sciences, Aquilent, Inc., BlackBlade Associates, Booz Allen Hamilton, Bravo Consulting Group, CACI, CDW, ComSys, Deloitte, Digicon Corporation, HP, i3 Solutions, InfoReliance, Information Strategies, Innovative-e, JHC Technology, Juniper Strategy, LLC, Lockheed Martin, MetroStar Systems, MicroLink, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Planet Technologies, Portal Solutions, Perficient, RDA, Satory Global, Smartronix, Inc., Sogeti, Summit 7 Systems, Watkins IT, WinSmarts


Microsoft Office 365–A Closed Cloud

A few months ago on 19 October 2010, there was a news media event announcing Microsoft Office 365, the revolutionary service from Microsoft that would provide small business and enterprises to move to a services hosted infrastructure in what is loosely termed, “The Cloud.” In fact it was so fast moving, the DNS registration hadn’t hit and was still redirecting to a company that Microsoft had bought the domain name from. For anyone that was searching for the Office 365 site on Microsoft though, they quickly found that it was being hammered quite hard for information by news organizations, business leaders and information technology specialists, all trying to get a little more information on what was spun as a revolutionary service.

Fast forward to the present and we still see news stories like this, “Microsoft Office 365 beta – a suite of business-focused, cloud-based applications” being spun by news organizations such as “”.

Maybe I’ve hit the threshold of information overload or just have an acumen for picking up on spin, but I have to say that I’m frustrated with the marketing blitz that’s going on for a closed system.

So what’s Office 365? From everything I’ve gathered through whitepapers, marketing briefs, blog posts, twitter announcements, and print articles, it’s the upgraded version of Microsoft Online Services (aka BPOS Standard).

For starters, what is Microsoft Online Services? It’s a cloud based service known as BPOS (Business Productivity Online Services) Standard which consists of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Standard, and Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 for a low price with a requirement of five seats.

So wait, what’s Office 365 again? It’s a rebranded offering of MS Online / BPOS Standard with a new name with upgraded versions of the Microsoft Office Online services to include Microsoft SharePoint Standard 2010, Microsoft Exchange 2010, Microsoft Lync 2010 [formerly OCS 2007], and Microsoft Office Web Apps with the addition of a Microsoft Office 2010 Professional license. Why the addition of the Office 2010 Professional license you might inquire? It’s to allow end users to be licensed appropriately to use Microsoft Office Web Apps (while they’re housed in Microsoft SharePoint 2010, they’re still licensed by Office 2010 Professional, go figure). There is a caveat though that’s mentioned in the Press Release – only one seat is required for Office 365 services (no longer are five seats required).

That’s right, if you’re an entrepreneur or a sole proprietor and you don’t feel like having a co-lo system setup somewhere that you’re the Exchange administrator or having to pay for services from two companies (typically one that provides Exchange and Lync and another that does SharePoint) then you’re in luck, you can buy in and use the managed service with ease.

But wait, it sounds pretty cool, how do I get my organization onboard? Well about that… it’s a closed beta at the moment which according to the registration page supposedly sends an e-mail to you after you register. To this date I’ve registered with three different e-mail addresses and received a nice message stating I would receive a response that day. Zero responses received as of yet.

So is it really a closed cloud? At the moment I’d say yes, the cloud is only available to those that are chosen or were given access as certified partners. Anyone else, best of luck making your way into the cloud, you may need a parachute and stealth maneuvers.

So why this post? I guess mostly to remind Microsoft that it would be great for individuals that are used to being early adopters having the option of getting in on the beta to actually provide real feedback. I realize that would increase the information coming back to the product group which may or may not be welcome, but hey, I’d be happy to volunteer my time in providing feedback and troubleshooting to make it a solid platform for the future.

Are you listening Microsoft Online? Let us in Smile