Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Microsoft .Net Stories

Microsoft has just launched a new site called Dot Net Stories. This has a collection of videos on how people have used the Dot Net Framework to build their applications.

You can filter the stories based on technologies such as SharePoint, Windows Server, Windows 7, Windows Azure and SQL Server.

The SharePoint section is a bit light on content right now. The good thing is that you can submit your own story and be in with a chance to win some great prizes, including a Galapogos Islands Adventure. Just promise me that you won't use a cheesey profile story in your submission. You'll know what I mean when you have a read of some of the current entries.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Remote Management of Hyper-V (and others) on Windows 7 and Vista

I've recently rebuilt my laptop to run Windows 7. For the last year or so I have been using Windows 2008, so that I could run SharePoint natively and use Hyper-V. I gotta say that I'm pretty happy with the Windows 7 build. Getting things like Hibernate back has been nice and I have definitely noticed a performance increase. It's hard to know how much that is down to just having a fresh start. Either way, happy with the move.

So now I'm using a separate Hyper-V server that we have set up in our office. Managing this was a little tedious. I was using Remote Desktop to connect to the host, then launching the Hyper-V management console to create and change VMs. The Hyper-V Windows gadget simplified some of this work -

Then I discovered that there is a download to allow you to manage Hyper-V directly from Windows 7, along with a bunch of other Windows Server management tasks such as AD users, SMTP and remote desktop services. My life has just got that little bit nicer:

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7:

Windows Vista 64-bit Hyper-V Remote Management:

Windows Vista 32-bit Hyper-V Remote Management:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

“Create or Extend Web Application" link missing in Central Admin

Here is a strange one for you – I was setting up a new virtual machine today. I went with 64-bit Windows 2008 R2, SQL 2008 and MOSS 2007 patched up to the April 2009 cumulative updates (

Everything had gone pretty smooth until I went in to create a new Web Application in Central Admin. Lo-and-behold, the link was missing. Hmm, seen this one before, so I got out my favourite search engine and found a recommendation to run Internet Explorer with admin permissions. This seems to have fixed most peoples problems, but not mine.

After a number of futile attempts I noticed that the computer date format was mm-dd-yy. I’m in Australia, so I prefer dd-mm-yy. I updated the Format and Current Location regional settings via the control panel and I kid you not, this fixed it!

Trust me, I understand if you are sceptical, I still don’t understand how this would affect the visibility of certain links in Central Admin. I would be curious to hear if anyone else experiences the same problem and resolution.

Monday, October 26, 2009

SQL Service not starting – error codes 17182, 17826, 17120

I had a very frustrating issue with a WSS environment recently. This was a single server deployment, using WSS, the Windows Internal Database (a special edition of SQL Express 2005). Things had been going well until one day the Windows Internal Database service stopped working. Browsing to the web site would result in a "Cannot connect to the configuration database" message.

Trying to restart the Windows Internal Database service failed. The event logs on the server had error codes 17182, 17826 and 17120. The details of these errors were missing from the logs, but I was able to track them down by going to the Windows Internal Database logs at C:\Windows\SYSMSI\SSEE\MSSQL.2005\MSSQL\log:

2009-10-21 10:54:21.10 Server Error: 17182, Severity: 16, State: 1.
2009-10-21 10:54:21.10 Server TDSSNIClient initialization failed with error 0x5, status code 0x90.
2009-10-21 10:54:21.10 Server Error: 17182, Severity: 16, State: 1.
2009-10-21 10:54:21.10 Server TDSSNIClient initialization failed with error 0x5, status code 0x1.
2009-10-21 10:54:21.10 Server Error: 17826, Severity: 18, State: 3.
2009-10-21 10:54:21.10 Server Could not start the network library because of an internal error in the network library. To determine the cause, review the errors immediately preceding this one in the error log.
2009-10-21 10:54:21.10 Server Error: 17120, Severity: 16, State: 1.
2009-10-21 10:54:21.10 Server SQL Server could not spawn FRunCM thread. Check the SQL Server error log and the Windows event logs for information about possible related problems.

Doing searches on the interweb suggested that I re-install SQL Server, as there may be corruption in the registry. Since I was dealing with the Windows Internal database, I didn't really have the option to re-install just that component. Some newsgroup posts suggested looking at what registry entries the database server was trying to access.

My Windows Internal Database was running as the Network Service account. As a quick test, I added this account to the Local Administrators group. I was then able to restart the Windows Internal Database service. This confirmed that my issue was related to permissions. It is definitely not a good idea to give Network Service this level of permissions, so I took it out of the Local Administrators group and moved on to the next stage.

I downloaded Process Monitor from Microsoft. This tool replaces the old RegMon and FileMon utilities. I configured it to filter for Registry events with a Result of ACCESS DENIED. I then tried to restart the Windows Internal Database Service via the Service Manager console. Sure enough, I found that the Network Service account was being denied access to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\MICROSOFT##SSEE\MSSQLServer\SuperSocketNetLib. Why did it no longer have access to this? I have no idea. My suspicion is a Windows Update modified permissions, but I can never prove that in a court of law.

I dropped into RegEdit and granted my Network Service account full control to this registry location. I then restarted my Windows Internal Database service and everything worked perfectly.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

SharePoint 2010 Extravaganza

The SharePoint 2010 parties are starting already. Here is an announcement from the Sydney Business and Technology Users Group:

A huge night covering Microsoft’s SharePoint 2010.

Prepare for 2 hours of in-depth SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 goodness.

Presented by Kathy Hughes (SharePoint MVP), Aaron Saikovski (Senior Consultant with Microsoft Services Australia) and Alistair Speirs (Microsoft Technical Specialist), with a panel question session at the end to ask your questions.

If you can’t make the SharePoint Conference in Vegas (USA) this October, then all is not lost! We are pleased to announce this SharePoint Server 2010 Extravaganza evening.

Whether you’re a seasoned SharePoint Server 2007 user or new to SharePoint, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about some of the new features in 2010 and also to ask questions.

We plan on making the evening a ‘demo intensive’ and interactive one. We’ll cover several functional aspects, including operational, some developer and design/user interface.

We’ll publish further details and agenda, closer to the event. Look forward to collaborating with you on the night!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Time flies when you have daylight savings issues

If you are not keeping up-to-date with your SharePoint patches, chances are you are behind the times in more ways than one. Have you checked the timestamp on a recently created item? Is it out by an hour?

Well, there is no time like the present (plus or minus 1 hour) to start patching. If you need information on daylight savings patches for WSS you can find them at

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sydney SharePoint User Group session for October 2009

This month, the Sydney SharePoint User Group is going to be hosting something special for those not making their way to Vegas for the SharePoint Conference. We are going to run a joint event with the NSW Knowledge Management Forum at the Price Waterhouse Coopers building on 201 Sussex Street, Darling Park.

Normally we have a main presenter tell us about some aspect of SharePoint. This time, we are taking a leaf from the Open Spaces/World Cafe events and providing the option for you to talk to other people about topics of mutual interest. Who is going to decide these topics? Well, you are. We would like you to e-mail us your top three topic areas. We will tally the votes and kick off the night with a number of discussions on the most popular topics. You decide which one to sit in on. The topics will change based on the attendee’s preferences to make sure that no dead horses get flogged.

How do you sign up? I’m glad you asked. Because this meeting will be held at the Price Waterhouse Coopers building, any attendee must be on our door list. Simply e-mail with your favourite topics and we will add you to the door list.
The meeting is on Tuesday 20 October 2009. Doors open at 5:30pm for a 6:00pm kickoff.
For more details and a list of suggested topics check out the SharePoint User Group website

Hope to see you there

Monday, August 17, 2009

August Sydney SharePoint User Group - Tuesday 17th

Don't forget, the SharePoint User Group in Sydney is meeting at 280 Pitt Street this Tuesday. This month's presentation is all about organising your company's information. Michael Moore will guide you through such scary buzz words as Taxonomy and MetaData.

I hate it when we have a "Not to be missed" session and I can't make it. This is one of those topics that you won't see covered off in Microsoft online content but is at the core of what SharePoint is aiming to achieve for businesses.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Exclude Hidden Mailboxes from User Profile Import

I never knew this before, but seemingly Exchange allows you to mark certain mailboxes as hidden. This prevents them showing up within the Global Address List when someone is doing a name lookup, for example using Outlook "Check Names" functionality.

With Microsoft Office SharePoint Server you can populate your User Profiles by importing account details from Active Directory. I always use a custom LDAP query as the source for the connection. This allows me to be more specific about which Active Directory entries to bring across to SharePoint. There is a great KB article on the Microsoft Support site on how to set this up - This article also describes how to filters out Active Directory accounts that have been disabled.

What if you want to also exclude accounts that have been marked as Hidden within Exchange? Well, the LDAP property that you want to look at is called msExchHideFromAddressLists. This is a Boolean property, so in theory we would just include entries where this property = FALSE. It is not quite that simple though. Since this is an optional property, I suspect that it may not exist for every user object. Therefore, testing that it is FALSE will not always work. Not to worry, just test that it is not TRUE. Logically this is equivalent and it turned out to work in my environment.

This means that the User Filter value from the KB article gets updated to:

(&(objectCategory=person)(objectClass=user)( !(userAccountControl:1.2.840.113556.1.4.803:=2))(!(msExchHideFromAddressLists:=TRUE)))

But the fun doesn't end there! Both Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server have a People-Picker field. This is the field that you use any time you want to assign an Active Directory user to a field, such as in a Task list. Updating your User Profile query has no affect to what the People Picker returns when you perform a search. There is an STSADM command line query that does help though. Gavin Adams has a good blog post that describes this command. Here is the syntax that you can use to exclude the hidden Exchange mailbox accounts:

stsadm -o setproperty -pn peoplepicker-searchadcustomfilter -pv "(|(!(msExchHideFromAddressLists=TRUE))" -url <intranet site address>

Change the text <intranet site address> to the address of the web site. Do not include the angle brackets.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sydney SharePoint User Group July 2009

The next SharePoint User Group in Sydney is on Tuesday 21 July 2009. John Liu will talk about his experiences developing SharePoint Websites. Learn about how John deploys solutions from development to production, living with CAML, what 3rd party tools he uses and what you will need when SharePoint 2010 comes along.

The user group meets at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts at 280 Pitt Street. Doors open at 5:30pm and all are welcome. For more details see

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A SQL Server at every port

I'm no firewall expert, or a SQL expert, but I'm not going to let those things stop me handing out advice on how you should configure your firewall or SQL configuration! I recently ran into a problem with getting a SharePoint Server to communicate with the SQL Server on a brand new installation. I turned off the Windows Firewall on the SQL Server and everything worked fine. Now, while I did mention that I'm no expert on firewalls, I know enough to realize that keeping the firewall turned off is not the best approach.

Usually SQL Server communicates through port 1433. Looking at the server's firewall configuration I could tell that port was opened. So how come I still couldn't access the database from a remote machine? The Windows Firewall with Advanced Security management console allows you to turn on logging of dropped packets. By using this I figured out that my SharePoint server was trying to access port 61683. Well, OK, I opened up that port by creating a new Inbound Port rule for TCP traffic.

That did it, my SharePoint Server was able to chat away to my SQL Server and off I went on my merry way. But I couldn't rest easy at night. Why port 61683? My searches on the internet brought back no real references to that port number. So I searched the registry on the SQL Server for "61683" and lo-and-behold, there it was – TCPDynamicPorts buried deep under the HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server hive. This led me to the MS Support article How to configure an instance of SQL Server to listen on a specific TCP port or a dynamic port.

Yes indeed, the SQL Server was using a Named Instance. It seems that the default configuration for this means that SQL searches for a free port number to make the named instance available on. This dynamic allocation of a port number is not great from a firewall configuration perspective. Luckily you can change the configuration to use a static IP address. Look up the topic How to: Configure a Server to Listen on a Specific TCP Port (SQL Server Configuration Manager) in SQL Books Online (here's the SQL 2008 link). You can then set the firewall on the SQL Server without fear that the port will change randomly the next time your SQL instance restarts.

One final note – from what I have read, your SQL firewall should also have a rule to allow access to the SQL Browser application. This is how remote computers can find out what port your named instance is on. Checking the SQL Server in my environment, there is a rule called SQL Browser that allows the application C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Shared\sqlbrowser.exe.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SharePoint 2010 Now Showing

Want to get a peek at what the new version of SharePoint 2010 looks like? Well then pop over to and view the videos.

There are three different videos - an overview, IT Pro (i.e. administrator) and Developer. All up, it is about an hour of footage.

As they stress several times in the video, this is beta so there is a good possibility that some of the details will change between now and the release. Also, Microsoft aren't saying what features will be available in the different versions of the product (WSS, SharePoint Standard, SharePoint Enterprise). They generally don't make this information available until just before the release.

Here are some of the highlights I picked up from watching the footage:

  • Ability to perform an action on multiple documents at the one time (like check-out or delete)

  • Many UI operations are now asynchronous, so you can get on with the next task without waiting for your last command to complete

  • SharePoint gets the Ribbon - if you haven't been using Office 2007 then you are missing out on how beneficial this really is. It makes it much easier to see what you can do with whatever you are working on, such as a list item, document, text or picture. You can also turn off the Ribbon if you want to maintain the same UI as the current product

  • The text formatting toolbar no longer floats AND it stays visible at the top of the page. In the current version this toolbar disappears as you scroll down through your text

  • Unattached Content Database Recovery. I can't wait to try this. It should make disaster recovery a lot less of a disaster

  • SharePoint Workspace - could this make Groove relevant again? It gives you the ability to take part of your site offline and sync back up when you are next connected

  • Central Admin - logging to SQL AND can be extended to include your own log entries. I must admit I never did like those text files that 07 writes to. Give me SQL tables over that any day.

There's lots more of interesting content in the videos, I think the next year will be a fascinating time in the SharePoint world

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WSS Service Pack 2 - installed without any problems

I have just applied Service Pack 2 for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 to my test environment (x64 Windows 2003 running in HyperV). The installation took just over 10 minutes and didn't require a reboot. Everything ran smoothly and my Windows Event logs are not reporting any problems.

You can download the service packs for WSS and MOSS from the links on this blog post

Click here to see a spreadsheet of the 34 issues fixed in WSS SP2

Some of my favourites are:
SharePoint does not allow some field names to be changed to their original values.
Users are not warned when their files exceed the maximum path.
List views fail when they are grouped by calculated fields or by lookups to calculated fields.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Storage Space Allocation Reports

Did you know that you can access a report on how much space your Site Collection is using and see a list of your largest (and smallest) document libraries, documents and lists? All of this from the comfort of your web browser. The option is available from the top level site collection settings menu. It's called Storage Space Allocation. Here's a sample of what it looks like (with all the drop-down options visible):


But what if you don't see the Storage Space Allocation item in your site settings menu? Well, firstly this is only available to Site Collection administrators. You should ask the owner of the Site Collection whether you have that level of permissions or not. But more importantly, you need to have assigned a Quota to your Site Collection. This restricts the amount of disk space that your site collection can consume. Even if you don't need a quota, you will need to assign one to get access to this report.

Site Collection quotas are maintained within the SharePoint Central Administration web site. Generally this will be maintained by the IT department. Here are the steps that you need to go through to assign a quota to an existing site collection:

  • Go to the Central Administration SharePoint site
  • Click on Application Management in the left panel
  • Select the Site Collection Quotas and Locks link under the SharePoint Site Management heading
  • Make sure that the correct site collection is selected
  • Select the checkbox beside Limit site storage to a maximum of
  • Enter an appropriate number of megabytes for your site collection to grow
  • Click OK


You will now have the Storage Space Allocation item in your site collection settings page.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April SharePoint User Group Meeting

This month's user group meeting will be held on Tuesday April 21. The venue is our usual spot at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street. Doors open at 5:30pm, pizzas and soft drinks available until they run out, so get in early.

This is going to be the first month of the Sound Bytes session, a concept suggested by Brad Saide. This is a 20 minute slot for someone to discuss a SharePoint related concept or product that they love. Tim Kremer is kicking us off with a talk on using the iPhone to access SharePoint. This is based on his experience with developing iShare

Then Peter Chapman will be discussing how to integrate SharePoint with SAP. Peter's company Sower have done quite a bit of work in this area. Come along and hear what options you have using both out of the box and third party features.

If you intend coming please send an e-mail to so that we have an idea of numbers.

If you would like to get e-mail notifications about upcoming events, visit our site at and sign up to our e-mail list.

James Milne – Australia’s newest SharePoint MVP

I just heard from James Milne that he has been awarded an MVP (Most Valued Professional) by Microsoft! Congratulations James, well deserved.

If you haven't done so already, you can check out his blog at In particular, have a look at the Content Type Toolbar web part that he has built. This is very neat.

It’s SharePoint all the way down

Big announcement from Microsoft today on the next release of SharePoint. We get our first indication of timelines – "will enter a technical preview in the third quarter of 2009 and will release to manufacturing in the first half of 2010"!

We also find out what the marketing team have been up to. The acronym "MOSS" is gone, the next release of the server product will be called SharePoint Server 2010. No word yet on what the next release of WSS will be called.

You can read more about this and the Exchange 2010 announcement in the interview with Chris Capossela here

Thursday, April 02, 2009

SharePoint Designer now free

You may have heard about this already, but now it is official. SharePoint Designer is now free. You can download it directly from Microsoft by going to

In case you don't know, this is THE tool for hacking the SharePoint interface. It is not just for creative designers. You can configure the Data View web part in SharePoint Designer to do all sorts of groovey things that are not possible just through the web interface.

Of course, you can also shoot yourself in the foot with this one, so do be careful. Also, avoid the SharePoint Designer site (one of the nodes in a site collection) backup option if your site is larger than 25 MB.

Apart from those caveats, download and have fun! If you have previously licensed SharePoint Designer under a Software Assurance (SA) agreement, then you are now entitled to install Expression Web.

If you want to read more about this, see the open letter published on the Microsoft site

Thursday, March 26, 2009

SharePoint Podshow interview

I was in Seattle at the start of March, where I got a chance to catch up with two of the SharePoint Podshow hosts - Rob Foster and Nick Swan. One thing led to another, and the next thing you know we are recording an interview for the Podcast!

If you don't already subscribe to the podcast, I can highly recommend it. As far as I know, it is currently the only podcast dedicated to SharePoint. For more information, check out

To listen to the interview I did with the guys, click here. It covers a range of topics including the role of a SharePoint architect, using WSS for document management and the challenges of change management.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gulf 2 Gulf

As you may have guessed from the title, this post is not about SharePoint. It's about a couple of guys - Dave Turner and Tim. They are just starting a crazy adventure, attempting to cycle 2,520 kilometres off-road from Spencer Gulf in the south of Australia to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north.

Dave is no stranger to crazy adventures. He has already managed to do some epic rides in New Zealand, Tibet and Mongolia. This one may be the craziest though. Especially considering that they will be travelling through areas that are still flooded today.

The whole journey is unassisted, which means they won't have anyone carrying supplies for them. Any food and water that they need they will need to pick up along the way or haul it with them. Not easy when you will be travelling through some of the driest parts of the continent. To make sure that they will have enough water, they have trailers attached to the back of their mountain bikes. As I said, crazy people.

So why? Well, the usual reasons - because it's there, because it's hard. But also they will use this epic journey to raise funds and awareness for World Vision Australia. I am going to be doing my little bit for the guys by posting daily updates to their blog at Add the feed to your RSS reader or follow along on Twitter at Don't forget to donate at the EVERYDAY HERO site



Thursday, February 26, 2009

Search Server Express installation error

I discovered an error with the Search Server Express 2008 installation process that I thought I would share.

I was installing this on an existing WSS 3.0 server. I had previously modified the server's web.config to include a defaultProxy element in the section.

Once the Search Server Express installation process had completed, my main WSS site stopped working. Trying to access any page on the site would bring up an error page.

It looks like the Search Server Express installation made an incorrect update to the web.config. I guess it wasn't expecting there to already be a defaultProxy entry. Once I removed the invalid elements the site started working again.

If you come across this error, I hope this post helps you get back up and running quickly. If you are running WSS and haven't installed Search Server Express yet - do it! Of course, you will get more out of it if you do some up-front planning.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sydney SharePoint User Group, Jan 2009

If you are in Sydney this Tuesday (20 Jan 2009) then drop into the SharePoint User Group session being held in the city at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts on Pitt Street.

This month, K2 will be showing off their blackpearl workflow solution. Unfortunatly I won't be able to make it, as I am stuck on a beach in south Sri Lanka. Not to worry, Brad Saide will be hosting the night's proceedings