Friday, December 21, 2007

Good luck guys!

As the festive season is upon us and we get a chance to have a holiday break, I would like to extend good luck wishes and seasons greetings to Justin and James who are currently crossing kayaking from Australia to New Zealand. Right now they have been out there crossing the ditch for the last 38 days, you can check out all their details at

Other than these guys being truly inspiring, what's cool about what they are doing is the technology they are using to support the expedition. GPS, texting and podcasts are all part of the experience but what I really like is the google maps mashup on the homepage. Its awesome we can see clearly their route, how far they have to go - 855km at last count, and how far they have come each day.

Go lads, best of luck and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's not rocket science, it's SharePoint or google docs?

Is it funny how the simple things in life are often the best. I had a classic example of this last week. We were working in a virtual team on a bid for some work - familiar story?

Let me explain how it worked, there was about 5 of us on the bid team, we used sharepoint as the central file storage and it worked like a treat, no emailing with attachments, no multiple versions. All that we used was one simple document in a sharepoint document library. Versions were kept, the document was checked in and checked in out when being modified and alerts were set by the various team members to know when changes had been made.

I was actually offline for most of the working hours during the week doing jury duty and this didn't even present any challenges or stop the progress of the bid. It was with smooth sailing and we delivered the bid well before the closing date.

The collaboration was so easy, all I could think was finally - this is not rocket science, it was SharePoint at its finest.

That said though, I came across this little video - Google Docs in Plain English which explains the collaboration above and also introduces some friendly competition to this space - so stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tafiti is very cool, so is gmail spell check

I have just been playing with Tafiti, It's very impressive, combining live search and silverlight technology.

For those who don't know, Tafiti means "do research" in Swahili. Even if you didn't know that it probably doesn't matter - what does matter is we need to do all types of research and information mining on a daily basis. By the end of most days I have at least 10 tabs open in IE 7 and quite often am going back to these for reference. I am also using one note 2007 more and more to store random pieces of content. If Tafiti can help on this front to collect and store my findings then its going to be a winner.

Things are moving pretty fast in the race for the browser to become the new OS and I feel this is another step in that direction.

I also started using the spell check in gmail, ok not as impressive as Tafiti, but it is all good for the user experience.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What do SharePoint, Facebook, Myspace and Youtube have in common?

The times they are a changing and I am loving it. I keep saying it but we are truly going in the throws of a revolution that history will truly measure. The internet revolution is alive. By my approximations the public net is only around 10 years young, so its still a young pup. But look whats happening - have you noticed how quickly things are ramping up and how much information we now have at our finger tips.

I was asked a bunch of questions the other day on the Web 2.0 technologies and platforms like wikis, blogs and RSS and how they could be used to advance an organisation's collaboration strategy and it got me thinking more and more about this wave of technology.

I was having a conversation with my sister in law, her uni semester involves doing an online class, taking part in another subject online forum and collaborating for an assignment in another subject on facebook. It really dawned on me what is happening here. We finally have content for the masses by the masses en masse. Ok some of this stuff isn't new, its just that its really catching on. The ability to easily produce and broadcast mass amounts of content has arrived and its social. If you look around on the net you can see its kind of taken off like wildfire. Ok, first there was the deluge of myspace and Youtube. Now facebook is having its time in the sun. And the one close to my heart, good old SharePoint is standing in the shade but I don’t think it will be for long.

As a matter of fact SharePoint isn't far away from hosting a party of its own and being on the A list to a few others shin digs.

SharePoint shares those ingenuus character defining elements that all web 2.0 killer apps share - market share and differentiation!

Size goes without saying, its come from the Microsoft stable so global computing reach is a given.

The differentiation of SharePoint is a little more subtle. There's a whole bunch of collaboration tools out there, but you see this little guy is different. This little guy is designed to sit inside your organisation and is integrated directly into your organisational security and directory and then what this little guy does is it works with the applications most of us already know like Office, Word and Excel.

So the platform is just kind of sitting around waiting to be used for inside the organisation and when everyone starts to cotton onto this - look out, its going to be a keeper.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Error in PortalCrawl Web Service

I experienced some strange behaviour with People Search in MOSS 2007 recently and wanted to share my thoughts on how you can resolve it.

I had configured the user profile import, which imported over a 1,000 profiles, configured an instance of search and began a full crawl of the environment to create the index. Once this completed I then went into the portal site and tested profile searches were working by querying user names. At this stage everything was ok.

Later in the day I went back into the search configuration and edited some of the addresses in the Local Office SharePoint Server sites content source. A day later I noticed user searches were not displaying any results.

I went back into the SSP to have a look at this, it seems at this stage everything was ok, so I tried to reset the index and re crawl. It was here I got the message ‘Error in PortalCrawl Web Service’ for each of the user profiles I had imported.

The resolution for this was to delete a batch of the user profiles and then re crawl. This did the trick of sticking the user profiles data back into the search index and I was away from there.

There’s quite a few blog posts out there on this issue but a lot of them are related to SharePoint Portal Server (SPS 2003) and I think you can save yourself a lot of time but trying this approach early on.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Enterprise Search awareness

Whilst catching the latest new headlines on the following advertisement caught my eye!

It looks like Microsoft is running an awareness campaign for an Enterprise Search on SMH and who knows what other sites. The click through for the ad takes you to

The call to action is a complimentary 3 hour Enterprise Search workshop offer provided by key Enterprise Search partners. I was involved in one of these about a week ago and its great to see SDM listed as one of the partners so we can do a whole bunch more.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Enterprise SEO - SharePoint Search

A heads up to invite everyone to the next meeting of the Sydney Business & Technology user group where I will be giving one of the sessions on using SharePoint as an enterprise Search platform.

Feeling rather inspired by the SEO & SEM (search engine optimization/marketing) from the last user group by Fred Schebesta, I am going to talk about using Search within the boundaries of the organisation, so this should be quite interesting as we talk about some of the subtle differences between whats needed within the company as opposed to what works out in the web landscape.

When: Wednesday 29 August 2007

Where: 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Microsoft Sydney Office
Theatre 2
1 Epping Road
North Ryde NSW

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reduce information overload and save time and money for your business

We are running SDM Seminar for Knowledge Managers around Enterprise Search and Information Management over the next week or so:

The challenge for Knowledge Managers is to find tools which aid them and encourage employees to share information leading to bottom line cost reductions across the business. Nearly half of all labour costs are now allocated to employees performing so-called ‘Information work’. And so with a typical information worker spending up to a 25% of their time searching for the right information to complete a given task, some organisations could be frittering away their staff costs.

It makes good business sense to make the information access and knowledge management process as productive as possible, and one way in which organisations can reduce the burden associated with information work is to implement an enterprise search and find solution.

The hands-on workshop is designed to:
  • provide an avenue for Knowledge Managers to discuss different issues and road-blocks in managing information
  • demonstrate how a tailored Information Management solution can reduce your workload
  • provide tips and tools on how you can reduce time and increase productivity through tools which help people help themselves including desktop searches and intranet search


Tuesday, 1 May 2007
Microsoft Office
Level 26, 91 King William Street, Adelaide

Thursday 3 May 2007
Microsoft Office
Level 2, 1 Epping Road North Ryde

Tuesday 8 May 2007
Microsoft Office
Level 5, 4 Freshwater Place

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Prescan.exe finished with failure

We have started a large upgrade SPS 2003 to MOSS 2007 project for one of our customers. The approach we are taking is to the content database migration upgrade. As confusing as anything with the words migration and upgrade joined together may sound, there is a logic to the approach over the other ways of completing the upgrade, which I will get to later.

An important first step in the upgrade is to run the prescan.exe over your SPS 2003 environment and content database.

On the source SharePoint Portal Server, run the Office SharePoint Server 2007 Prescan utility.

You will need to copy the following files from a base MOSS installation (i.e. from C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\BIN)

  • Prescan.exe
  • PREUPGRADESCANCONFIG.XML (if you have created custom site definitions in SPS 2003, then update this file)

The syntax of the command is:

prescan.exe /c preupgradescanconfig.xml /V http://urlofsitecollectiontobeupgraded/

When I first ran this command, the results I got was the scan finished with failure.

And errors like these in my log file:

  • Error: The following site has not been scanned. Id = 2ceb5f7d-gb8b-41ff-ad61-0712e0e9098a and Url = test/jr
  • Error: The following list has not been scrubbed: Id=2ceb5f7d-gb8b-4c71-b251-0712e0e9098a, Name=Web Part Gallery, Containing Web=personal/alfpha

What I found out here was the prescan was failing because of some orphaned lists that needed to be removed from the content database.

The resolution to this involved:

1. As well as making sure you have SPS 2003 SP2 and WSS SP2, you will net to get this hotfix

2. Once you have the hotfix, follow the steps on this KB
• To detect orphaned items, use the following command line:
stsadm -o databaserepair -url http://URLofWindowsSharePointServicesSite -databasename DatabaseName
• To delete orphaned items, use the following command line:
stsadm -o databaserepair -url http://URLofWindowsSharePointServicesSite -databasename DatabaseName -deletecorruption

3. This resolved all my issues but one.
To resolve my last issue also involved using the stsadm command line.
In this case I used it to delete the site /test/jr with the following syntax:

Stsadm –o deletesite –url http://SITENAME/test/jr

From there I was able to successfully run the prescan.exe utility and get to the next step of the upgrade process.

A couple of other good references for similar prescan and orphan issues are:

Sunday, March 4, 2007

SharePoint and Reporting Services Integration

I have had the opportunity of the last few days to explore the new integration capabilities of the SharePoint and SQL Reporting Services recently released courtesy of SQL 2005 SP2 with my co-worker Nick Barclay.

As a SharePoint specialist, it's great to see the release of another integration capability that further deepens the relationship between SharePoint and the rest of the MS product family. This is another sign of the convergence into the SharePoint sun that knowledge workers will orbit around in the coming years.

Troubleshooting SQL 2005 SP2 installation

First of all, I had some problems installing SQL 2005 SP2, so if you do have this problem, this is the work around that worked for the VPC image I was testing on.

Error message when you try to install a SQL Server 2005 service pack or a SQL Server 2005 hotfix package: "Error 29528. The setup has encountered an unexpected error while Setting Internal Properties"

Installation and Configuration


  • SharePoint Team Blog

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 SP2 Reporting Services integration with WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007

  • Liam Cleary's post –

MOSS2007 – Reporting Services Add-in

In terms of installation and configuration, I found that going through these 2 articles put me on the right track, so I recommend following these. The one thing I did find a little bit different compared to Liams post in the Application Management > Grant Database access, my SQL server name was already configured (same machine) and when I went into it and was asked to enter credentials, I entered the admin credentials, I got 'Unable to log on with the given username and password'. At first this bugged me but in the end I thought it would be ok and it turned out to be the case.

Working with Samples

To road test the new capabilities I grabbed some of the SQL sample databases from:

SQL Server 2005 Samples and Sample Databases (February 2007)

Grab and install:

  • SqlServerSamples.msi -- 25,469 KB
  • AdventureWorksDBCI.msi -- 29,177 KB (case-insensitive collation)
  • AdventureWorksBICI.msi --

Open All Programs > Microsoft SQL Server 2005 > SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio

Open the solution AdventureWorks Sample Reports.sln found at

Go into Properties in AdventureWorks Sample Reports

Deployment paths need to change deploying to a SharePoint Document Library with settings.

In this case, I am deploying to the reports center site I have at http://sharepoint/reports and creating two folders to be the container for these http://sharepoint/reports/data , http://sharepoint/reports/reports

Given that I haven't changed any of these, this should deploy successfully and if you browse into your site you should be able to browse the reports, proving a successful implementation of the Reporting Services Integration.

I can now see Data and Reports libraries added to my sharepoint site:

We can then go and view some of the reports:

Add a Reporting Services Viewer Web Part

The final step in this walk through is to create and add a web part page that displays the Reporting Services reports.

To do so create a page under pages and a web part as below:

Open the tool pane to configure the web part and browse to the folder, in my case, http://sharepoint/reports/reports and select report.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

SharePoint Wiki on MSDN

First we had news the US Microsoft website had been moved over to SharePoint Server 2007.

Now in another show of their movement and commitment to web 2.0 applications, Microsoft has launched a SharePoint Wiki on MSDN.

It can be found at

The community grows at large!