Month: September 2010

Received the AIIM SharePoint Specialist Certification

After getting the AIIM SharePoint Practitioner certification in August, I completed all modules of the SharePoint Specialist course today and received the certification.

While the Practitioner course is mainly about “what is SharePoint”, the Specialist course focuses on the process of rolling out SharePoint in your organisation, so more like a “how do we manage the SharePoint project implementation”.

This course consists of the following 11 modules:
SharePointSpecialistProgram

 

My favourite part of the whole course was the “Assess” category, I found the three modules “Information Gathering”, “Strategy”, and “Business Case” the most valuable. It is in this phase of a SharePoint project that the basis for success is created! I paused regularly during these modules to reflect on my current implementation project, and if we should revisit certain documents and phases again to update them.

One small “drawback” of this course (or one could even say such courses in general) is that the contents are usually on a relatively high level, and don’t go too deep. For example, in the “Migration” module you’ll hear about possible approaches to migrations and what to consider, but (naturally) it can’t go into too much detail and give you a step by step approach, telling you what to do specifically in each situation of your content migration. For these situations the live classes will be much better, as e.g. mentioned by Mark Own here and here in his report on the AIIM SharePoint Master class, as you’ll be able to discuss and share your and the other participants’ experiences.

As for the difficulty level, I actually found the exams for these modules easier than the modules from the Practitioner course. One reason could be that I was more interested in this course, and thus it was easier for me to remember and understand things. Or, my experience from my two Asia Pacific wide SharePoint implementations might play a big role in this, as there were many things that were not new to me, which I had encountered before, just not in a structured format. I could say that a lot of the contents from this course are things that I encountered through some way or another before, but this was the first time I actually sat down to learn it directly in a structured format, whereas before it was individual bits and pieces.

As for the value of this course, I would strongly recommend it to others that deal with SharePoint implementations regularly in a (project) management role and don’t have too much experience with it yet. However, if you’ve done several rollouts already, there might be nothing new for you in it, though, and the only reason to do this certification is for the sake of having a certification.

Fixing erroneous GUID creation in Visual Studio 2010

After I got my new laptop, I installed among other things Visual Studio 2010. However, when I wanted to create a new GUID through Tools -> Create GUID, I got the error "Encountered an improper argument." from guidgen.exe :
image

After confirming this dialog, the guidgen.exe window opened, but clicking on copy or New GUID resulted in the same error message:image

As I found out, VS2010 calls the guidgen.exe inside the NETFX 4.0 Tools folder (inside the bin folder of the Windows SDK). Inside the bin folder, there is another guidgen.exe. Comparing these two, I saw that the one in the %PROGRAM FILES%\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A\bin folder (left) is an older version for Visual Studio 2008, the other one %PROGRAM FILES%\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A\bin\NETFX 4.0 Tools (right) is for Visual Studio 2010:
image

I updated the command in Visual Studio to use the older version, and this did the trick, I was able to create GUIDs again.

If you get the same error, in order to correct it, go to Tools->External Tools, and select Create GUID. Select the NETFX 4.0 Tools in both the command field ("Befehl") and the initial directory field ("Ausgangsverzeichnis") (my VS is German, thus the different looking dialog) and remove it:
image

You should have something like this:
image

 

Running Create GUID again should give you the properly working window:
image

New Laptop – Dell E6410

A few weeks ago, my trusted companion, the Lenovo ThinkPad R61e suddenly started to hang. Not just when I was in Windows, but at different “occasions” :right after I switched it on; when it checks which OS to boot; while loading Windows; Windows login screen; after using Windows for 15mins; .

Sometimes it hung right after I switched it on for the first time of the day, other times I could use it for a few minutes. To sum it up, it became unusable.

So, the time had come to get a new laptop. As I planned to use it, amongst other things, to do some SharePoint administration and development (both 2007 and 2010) with virtual machines, I knew I needed to get one with quite good specs. On the other hand, I also knew that this would not be an everyday, multiple hours per day activity for me, and that I’d use the VMs only a few hours per week. Thus, spending too much money on an absolutely high-end machine was ruled out. Furthermore, I wanted to get a 14″ laptop, I didn’t see myself carrying a bigger, heavier laptop around a lot.

After a very long evaluation (consisting of lots of online research, and a few trips to the Funan centre here in Singapore to have a look at some models directly), I knew that in the end I’d get either a Lenovo, an HP, or a Dell due to their build qualities. I settled for a Dell E6410, as it allowed me to configure the laptop (nearly) perfectly for my needs:

  • i5-540 processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • Nvidia video card (as I still plan to play some “older” games like Football Manager 2009 or Fallout 3 occasionally)
  • 14″ screen with 1440×900 resolution
  • 9cell battery
  • backlit keyboard (I seriously love the quality of this keyboard and the lights!)

I also ordered a HDD caddy to replace the DVD drive with a second hard drive. That way, I can put my virtual machines on that second hard drive. I currently have one VM only, which naturally takes up nearly all of the remaining empty space of my SSD.

My opinion so far: this laptop is amazing! The build quality is great, working with 8GB and the SSD is extremely smooth! I installed my SharePoint 2007 VM in the past two days when I had time, and managed to still get more than 5 hours of battery life yesterday despite lots of VM activity.

Presenting at the Southeast Asia SharePoint Conference: Experiences with two AsiaPacific-wide SharePoint Deployments

I will be presenting at the upcoming Southeast Asia SharePoint Conference (26/27 October 2010) here in Singapore.
spcsea

Here are the details of my session:

Stories from the field – Experiences with two AsiaPacific-wide SharePoint Deployments

A SharePoint implementation with a scope targeting multiple countries comes with several challenges. Various cultural differences and technological barriers have to be considered for a successful rollout.

These include factors like different management styles and working cultures, multiple languages ("can my SharePoint be in Chinese?"), distributed locations ("can we have a local server here?"), varying connection speeds ("our SharePoint is too slow!"), and others.

In this session, experiences from two SharePoint deployments in the region Asia Pacific will be discussed.

Consider the following situation:

asia   Your company is rolling out SharePoint, and you have subsidiaries in multiple countries. This means that your users are spread across different locations, sometimes even time zones, and speak different languages. While your company might have a standard language to communicate with other people (English, usually), your colleagues speak a mix of different languages (Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish, Bengal, French, …), some even only their local language. So when you implement SharePoint, you have to keep in mind that the visitors to your sites might not be able to understand your contents, or that your contents are targeted at a smaller group of people (e.g. only the colleagues in the Paris office) and thus your site has to be in that language.

Considering different cultures is very important as well. The way people in China deal with problems can be very different from the way Americans do it. Project members in India may handle tasks in a very different way than you expected it, and your meetings with members of a business unit in Japan turns not out to be as you imagined. These are just some ways that local cultures can influence your SharePoint deployment.

In addition to that, depending on your network infrastructure and how your offices are dispersed geographically, you need to consider solutions (more servers? faster network? caching?) to make access for employees in these locations more convenient.

I will talk about these topics as well as a few more in my session.
See you there!

Using Gmail as your email centre with your own domain email address and an iPhone

One of the smaller "issues" with having my own domain on a normal (nothing fancy) web server (in fact, just some web space, it’s not the whole server) is that the webmail interface I’m using (provided by the hoster) is extremely simple. Searching through mails is inconvenient, I can only write plaintext emails (no images, no formatting….), etc.  That’s why I’ve been using Outlook to grab my emails via POP3.
Drawback of this approach is, of course, that once they were downloaded, I could only access them from my notebook (which was not always with me).
I was deliberating whether I should get the emails via IMAP instead, but I was still not happy with the web interface, which I need to use whenever I don’t have my notebook with me (e.g. at work, sometimes when I travel, etc.).

In the end, I decided to try a different approach:
I pull the emails from my own domain to my Gmail account, which I access via IMAP from both Outlook (well, not yet right now, as my current notebook is unused as it freezes regularly; new laptop coming in the next few weeks) and the iPhone. Through the Gmail web interface, I also have a very convenient and feature-rich way of accessing them as well as sending out emails. In order to make this work, however, I had to make some smaller changes to the way the iPhone accesses the emails and sends them (incoming emails through Gmail, outgoing emails through my own domain). Once I have my new laptop and Outlook installed on it, I will configured it similar (e.g. as in here http://products.secureserver.net/email/email_outlook.htm)
Below are the steps how I set everything up.

 

This was my initial setup:

03bc665c-1886-4960-8fbc-137bede97a4c

I pulled the emails from my own domain from my Outlook, whereas I also accessed them (as long as they were on the server) from my iPhone (which also got my Gmail emails, which were only a handful each month anyway; my domain email address is my major email).

 

This is the new setup with my Gmail account being the centre of the setup:

a5dac533-d68d-40ef-bf3c-511b79a1a92e

My Gmail account pulls the emails from my own domain email address. I access these then through Gmail via IMAP from both the iPhone and Outlook

Setting up Gmail

First of all, I configured Gmail to get the emails from my own down account. Under Settings and the Accounts and Import tab, I selected Add POP3 email account in the Check mail using POP3 section:2e1af52b-85a9-41a3-b157-d6a97feab717

 

In the next screen, I added my account information from my domain account. Furthermore, I kept Leave a copy of the retrieved message on the server unchecked so that there are no duplicate emails anywhere.

e58b9e0d-b545-4a05-96cf-2fac4f30f6a4

 

After confirming, I selected my newly added account as the default account for sending emails, and chose Always reply from default address so that any emails will be sent directly through my own email account (note: the outgoing SMTP server has to be configured for this as well).

2211bcf5-9caf-4573-b52e-6e6bfdc4d575

That’s it already, Gmail now fetches all emails from my @modery.net account, and additionally any emails sent through Gmail (or rather, the Gmail web interface) will be sent from it as well.

Setting up iPhone
On my iPhone, I needed to set up a connection to Gmail, however not through the default Gmail option, but through Other. The reason for this is that this way it is possible to set a different outgoing server than the incoming server. This is necessary as you would otherwise send/reply from your Gmail email address, not your own domain email address!
9cb66a77-e48c-4916-8b6d-aef39394f5e9

 

Next step, I selected Add Mail Account
b2bfe5b7-7801-47b1-be8d-99e7c2862a61

 

I entered the relevant information for my own domain email account, and confirmed. In the next screen, I kept IMAP
6338e93a-499b-4d7c-b1e2-9e3c02640779

 

Now comes the crucial part: In this screen, I added my Gmail account information (imap.gmail.com as host name, and the correct user name and password) for the Incoming Mail Server. For the Outgoing Mail Server, I added the correct SMTP server for my own domain and the relevant login information.
c94682c6-cd68-4348-9e22-ad6fd07c4d3b

 

For the next step, I kept Mail, but did not select Notes (didn’t test if it works as I don’t need it).
0dcd0e32-1bb0-4b66-a094-37cc440cdaa5

 

The last thing to do is to set up the corresponding Drafts/Sent/Deleted Mailboxes. For the just set up account, I went to the Advanced settings
7e71c688-01db-481f-bf83-9489e68c1478

 

And selected the three options above.
e359c7d2-35b9-4dcf-b253-1e883226a27b

 

so that it looks like this:

df41fe21-df9a-4835-95dd-982426bc182a

That’s it!
What happens now is that on my iPhone my email is fetched from the Gmail account (which, as outlined above, collects the email from my own domain account). If I send an email through this account (either create a new one or reply to an email), the server of my own domain account is used instead of the Gmail account, and thus any replies come from @modery.net