Categories
stsadm

STSADM Extensions… explored

First off, for those of you not familiar with Gary LaPointe’s STSADM Extensions, I would recommend checking out his blog over at http://stsadm.blogspot.com and investigate what he’s got to offer.

For those of you that are familiar with stsadm for WSS and MOSS then you’re familiar with the likes of Ben Curry‘s Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Administrator’s Pocket Consultant which provides a thorough reference of the STSADM command set.  Sometimes the command set can be tedious, at other times, fairly trivial, but more than likely scripting something with it is somewhat tedious.

Enter Gary LaPointe’s stsadm extensions which take stsadm to the next level.  Gary’s extensions go above and beyond where arduous scripting would more than likely lead you, allowing you to quickly step out on administrative tasks without having to get stuck in the world of windows script host.

My current favorite extension would have to be the gl-backupsites extension which allows for the quick and easy backup of all site collections within a web application or farm.  For those of you that have had to write scripts to do this in the past, you’ll find that this is far simpler.

Thanks for your contribution to the community Gary!

Categories
Infrastructure Technology

Sun xVM VirtualBox – Small Footprint, Speedy

So I came across an article earlier today making mention of Sun’s xVM standards compliant Virtual Sandbox software and I figured, "It’s free and it looks halfway decent, plus it’s standards compliant."

So a quick visit over to Virtual Boxes web site (http://www.virtualbox.org) and a little download magic and I was off and running setting up my first Virtual Machine using Sun’s software.

win2k8-sunVirtualBox Needless to say, my first impression is that while it may not have all the fancy features that VMWare Workstation has or Microsoft Virtual PC, its small footprint makes up for it as it blazes ahead.

Additionally, it’s cross platform nature allows you to quickly and easily take a virtual machine from one platform (Mac OS-X) over to another quickly (Windows XP) without the need for exporting a machine or going through a laborious process to bring it across.

I’m sure that I’ll find some bugs in it over the next few days, but I thought it would be interesting nonetheless to try it out for the sake of being vendor neutral in the realm of virtualization.

Categories
SharePoint

MOSS 2007 SharePoint Server 2007 Best Practices – First Thoughts

So I met Ben Curry at TechEd IT Pro Week 2008 and I must say that he’s a decent fellow that’s quite knowledgeable about SharePoint administration and provided some of the gotchas during his presentations.  But what’s better than an hour with Ben Curry?  767 pages of Ben Curry (and Bill English) goodness.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=u015-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0735625387&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrRecently their newest book "MOSS 2007 SharePoint Server 2007 Best Practices" was released and I have to say that it’s put together quite well.  There are still some holes in the table of contents that need to be filled, but that’s where third party authors like myself get to come in and fill the void right?

It covers the entire life cycle of SharePoint being used in an organization from the planning phase, the design phase, the change management aspects and the deployment piece.  If you’re looking for something to hold your hand as you go through the process, definitely recommend this piece of literature to.

Now Playing – Jack Johnson – In Between Dreams – Banana Pancakes

Categories
Technology

Skype Finally Supports Skype Out Numbers in the US!

Alright, so this is completely devoid of anything to do with SharePoint, but I was pleasantly surprised this evening when placing a call to a colleague over Skype and having him tell me that a local number in his exchange was showing on caller ID.  Sure enough, not only can my SkypeOut number show up, my mobile number can show up when using Skype.

skype

Needless to say, "like whoa!" as Keanu would say…

Now Playing – The Crystal Method – Vegas – High Roller

Categories
Apple

WWDC 2008 Keynote Mentions SharePoint

So I’ve been pondering whether or not to procure a MacBook Pro for my personal use and to hopefully push myself toward greater creativity and to disconnect myself from corporate work in some sense.

Nevertheless, while watching the WWDC 2008 Keynote speech, the first video regarding the iPhone in the Enterprise using Firmware 2.0 mentions the use of SharePoint as a document management system for one of the companies participating in the beta.  Quite interesting to hear mention of the Apple iPhone accessing SharePoint through the mini-Safari browser.

Where will SharePoint pop up next?

Categories
Certification Infrastructure SharePoint

TechEd 2008 – Day 1

Day 1 of TechEd 2008 was a long first day to open up the conference.  Starting off with breakfast at 7:30, heading to the keynote at 8:30 and then onward to breakout sessions, hands on labs and interactive sessions through 6:30 in the evening was quite a lot to digest – but the day didn’t end there as we headed over to the MCP/MCT/MVP Gathering in the evening and then over to the City Walk for the TechEd Groove.  Nevertheless, the core personal highlights included:

  • a better understanding of Dynamics CRM 4.0 and how it integrates with other products (Microsoft and other)
  • tips and tricks using PowerShell for web content management and the SharePoint object model
  • an understanding of the certification path for Windows Server 2008
  • hands on lab for advanced SharePoint administration – how I’ve missed working with the CLI
  • how records management is improving in MOSS 2007

All in all, a great first day at TechEd 2008.

Categories
Infrastructure

TechEd 2008 – IT Pro Week

So I’m down here in Orlando, FL at the Orange County Convention center for TechEd 2008 – IT Pro Week.  The Windows 2008 pre-conference session so far is definitely eye opening and has definitely made me realize that there’s more to what is available with the W2K8 software than first perceived – have to rethink utilizing VMWare ESX for everything (not say that it won’t be used for the majority of things :-)).  Most interesting to me is probably the Server Core mode that is available – somewhat reminiscent of a shell command line interface (my favorite) that you’d find in Linux / Unix.

Funniest quote by Corey so far would probably be with regard to the “Microsoft Moment” where the status bar moves and then starts over again, again and again.

Categories
Uncategorized

Utilizing Social Bookmarking

This isn’t necessarily SharePoint related, but just a recommendation that if you claim to be the expert on a topic, or at least a journeyman that has significant interest in a topic and some experience such that they wouldn’t be considered a rookie, I would highly recommend becoming involved with social bookmarking circuits such as Technorati, Del.icio.us and Feedburner.

And just to have a shameless plug…

Technorati Profile

Categories
Troubleshooting

Making Sense of Troubleshooting and Preventive Medicine…

If you’ve ever had to troubleshoot a SharePoint issue within the realm of the third iteration of SharePoint’s platform, then you know that there’s more than just what you’ll find in Central Admin that sometimes requires tinkering to resolve problems.

I’ve dealt with everything from timer jobs not firing off due to daylight savings time patches not being applied, to workflows not working properly due to network latency and message traffic not arriving when it was supposed to, to the joys of sAMAccountNames being modified after a user accessed a site, to the glories of psconfig failing to provision and deprovision web applications properly during an upgrade and leaving a cloud of dust within the ULS logs.

I’m not here to tell war stories, but rather to provide a few ideas and suggestions when attempting to troubleshoot a problem.

1 – Document everything – How is this troubleshooting?  It’s not really, it’s more the preventive medicine for when you’re going to have to troubleshoot… consider it a part of the Boy Scout Motto "Be Prepared".  Knowing your interfaces to other systems, your taxonomies (security, site and features), and your architecture (both physical and logical of everything) will save you hours and hours of time when you’re attempting to troubleshoot an issue.  Otherwise, troubleshooting becomes a blind analysis, feeling along the walls hoping to find the issue.  I’d recommend keeping a OneNote journal with configuration settings and changes for your systems so as to consolidate information to a single source (or if you want to use Google Sites, Notebook or Docs, that’s cool too :)).

2 – Know your AD environment – do you have custom domain security policies that are being applied to a specific organizational unit?  Did someone inadvertently move your server where they shouldn’t have within an OU structure while they were performing directory maintenance and now regardless of what you do to try to reconfigure your server the domain policy continues to lock it down?  Knowing your AD environment and providing relevant data to your domain administrator will at least allow you to rule out the possibility that it’s something outside your immediate control.

3 – Plan your system appropriately – this goes back to #1.  If you aren’t planning things out appropriately in a technical sense and haven’t put forth a plan of how you’re going to implement a system, it’s going to be a while, get a Snickers bar.  I’d recommend by starting with the planning worksheets as defined in the SharePoint 2007 Deployment Guide and Checklists – better yet, build a project plan so that you’re able to be sure you’ve thought through everything.  If you’ve got your system planned appropriately and you have your documentation handy which shows how you configured Kerberos and the affiliated SPNs in your domain schema troubleshooting should be too easy, right?

4 – Be prepared to hit the logs for troubleshooting.  There are two logs that you should probably be acutely familiar with – the IIS logs for the associated web applications in your SharePoint enclave, as well as the Unified Logging System (ULS) logs for SharePoint.  If you’re familiar with web applications and how to read IIS logs, then you should be fine and not have any issues.  ULS logs for SharePoint on the other hand can be somewhat cryptic in nature.  I would highly recommend using something like the SharePoint Logging Spy from CodePlex to provide insight into what is truly going on within your SharePoint instance.

5 – Did you check to make sure your interfaces were still connected?  It’s always embarrassing when you realize after the fact that your data communications problems with SQL server weren’t necessarily a password change or a malicious DOS attack to down your data sources, but just a lose HBA or Ethernet connection.  As my CCNA instructor mentioned five years ago, start at the bottom of the OSI model and work your way up.

Are these the only five things you need to know and consider when troubleshooting?  By all means no.  I would recommend having a few other resources handy when troubleshooting as well (e.g. Google, Live Search, TechNet, me) near by to diagnose an issue and work toward a solid solution to fix the problem in the most elegant way possible (and remember to document the fix should it ever pop up).

Categories
Search

Interesting Search Results…

If you’ve ever wondered how the SharePoint Search Crawler crawls, what it’s crawling (whether it be major versions or minor versions or the associated meta data with either), I would highly recommend checking out Bill English’s article "What Does the Crawler Crawl and When?"

For those that are search aficionados, it’s a nice review.  For those that know very little on the topic and are wondering why their search results aren’t operating the way that they may expect them to (or they just don’t know what to expect) a must read.