The Information Worker

May 31, 2010

My New Blog

Filed under: Personal,Sharing Minds — adamclark @ 3:31 pm

It’s a busy lifestyle running a compnay, and as part of improving our brand at Sharing Minds.  I will be moving my blog in the next few weeks.  Once complete you’ll find my blog at http://adamclark.sharingminds.com.au.  However at the moment you can find the raw blog at http://www.sharingminds.com.au/adamclark

I’ll be sure to post again once i’ve completed the application of the Sharing Minds master page and put the propoer URL in place.

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November 2, 2009

Running Multiple MSN Accounts

Filed under: Sharing Minds — adamclark @ 2:40 pm

This isn’t a new trick by any accounts, but now that the company has been up and running for a while I want to begin changing my online presence to include my Sharing Minds branding, rather than just personal accounts. Part of this is associating my Live ID with an MSN login (I do a lot of communication over MSN). Now it’s simple enough just to log into my Live ID account on my MSN messenger, however I still want to access my personal MSN contacts at the same time and MSN OOTB won’t allow me to do that.

There are a couple of ways to get around this, simplest of this is to just run a copy of MSN messenger with one ID and a copy of Windows Messenger with another. However I am on Windows 7 so that isn’t going to work for me. To get around it I have loaded a little application called MSN_Polygamy from TechnoBuzz that allows you to run multiple instance of MSN.

Now I can run both ID’s through MSN, yay!

June 18, 2009

SharePoint Content Database Sizing

Filed under: SharePoint Technology,Sharing Minds — adamclark @ 1:48 pm

Over the past few days I’ve had some questions from a couple of different clients around the right process to define SharePoint content database capacity planning.  This is quite an interesting topic and there is a lot of different theories out there  as to the right method to use.  Having planned several large and small SharePoint implementations I thought I might throw a few comments into the ring around capacity planning for SharePoint sites and how and when to worry about content database size.

 First up, in my view I don’t think that there is any one method that fits all SharePoint builds and site collection deployments, and second there are no hard and fast limits to (most) content database size related items.  In my view each SharePoint solution should be looked at in regards to a number of factors including:

 –          Disaster Recovery Tools,  One of the most contentious issues I find is that the choice of tool that will be used for backing up the SharePoint database will affect the recommended content database size.  For example, If your SharePoint site is only using the Out of the Box (OOTB) SharePoint Backup/Restore tool then I don’t recommend that you exceed 15Gb in any content database.  In the past I have found timeout and restore issues using the OOTB tools.  If your using a 3rd Party tool for backup/restore (i.e. Backup Exec, AVEPoint, CommVault, etc) I don’t see an issue on this front.

–          Type of Content being stored,  To a lesser extent I have found in the past that the type of content your storing will affect how big you want to plan your SharePoint content databases.  If your mainly storing list based information or lots of little pieces of information on your SharePoint site then you will likely want to have smaller content databases, thereby allowing content to be indexed and retrieved faster.  SO at the other end of the extreme I hold the view that if your databases is holding large files (i.e. couple of MB or larger) that having a large content database (up into the range of 50 – 100Gb) is allowable.  Of course there are also a number of factors to cover in regards to SQL config and the like that may affect the maximum size you want your content database to be, so use this as a starting point only!

–          Server Specifications, One of the big ones to consider is the specifications of the server that is hosting the content databases.  Is your SharePoint implementation on a single server or are you managing your SharePoint sites on a farm with a dedicated SQL Server (in most cases I hope your using the latter).  I take the view that larger databases will require different underlying SQL configurations to those of smaller databases.  I find the key is to ensure that organisations know their stance on SQL configurations and that they are open to talk both immediate and longer term SQL goals.

–          Information Management Policies / Governance, Now in my view the theories on how to implement governance are as broad as the amount of people working in the SharePoint field,  We’re still trying to get to some type of common thinking in this space and everyone will have their view.  However, in my view it is important to defined how your going to manage the information lifecycle of information within your SharePoint sites, know when your going to archive information, when your going to delete information, know how many versions of information your going to keep, etc.  Knowing / defining this will provide you with a way to limit the size of your content databases.   This is actually a REALLY big and COMPLEX area so i’ll leave it here.  But!!! Take a look at this area and always plan to do this work, you’ll never regret it.

 So at a very broad and high level there is my view on the way to plan and look at the right way to approach SharePoint Content Database Sizing,  hopefully while note giving you the hard and fast response you need on “What’s the Maximum size of my content database?” these items can help you on your way to defining these things.

 There are also a number of other great blog entries out there that can provide further assistance.  In some cases they don’t always follow the same path, however always good a reference material:

 –          http://blogs.msdn.com/joelo/archive/2007/01/31/tips-on-site-collection-sizing.aspx (This is the one that I find most clients reference and a good place to start).

–          http://www.intranetjournal.com/articles/200804/ij_04_07_08a.html (Some good information and views, though I have some different thoughts on some content).

–          http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb961988.aspx (Overview on a Microsoft Capacity Planing tool)

–          http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2007/12/17/hardware-recommendations-and-sccp-sharepoint-capacity-planning-tool-beta-models.aspx (The system Centre Capacity Planning tool, I use this a lot of the time to begin the capacity planning process).

May 6, 2009

The Social Networking Dilemma

This is something that has been on my mind for a while, however at the Brisbane SharePoint Users Group last night (#BSPUG) we where lucky enough to have Adam Cogan up from Sydney where the topic was discussed passionately with the group. At the core of the matter around social networking is the point that out on the net there are a Multitude of social networking tools and sites that facilitate the sharing of our status, information, documents, IP, photos and anything else you can imagine out to the greater community of people (99% of who we don’t even know). And while the readership is one issue that we will not discuss now, the question is which too do I use?

At the moment I have my blog page open, MSN with three conversations, Twittering my status, reading a face book page and syncing my Skype with my latest outlook contacts (well exaggerating that last one, but you get my gist). A big problem is that all of these tools take time and creative talent away and stifle my already stretched focus.

Since starting Sharing Minds, I have found most of my time goes there, posting blogs has become non-existent and replying to email and MSN gets tiresome, sometimes even reading a twitter is time stretching. The proliferation of these tools a lot of the time means that I have to follow on all of them to stay connected, but I don’t have the time to provide quality content, feedback and social connections on all of them. So what is the answer to stretching your time on social networking tools and quality input. I’ll be honest, I don’t know, I’m still attempting to figure out what it means to both me as a person and a business, however there are a number of thoughts that I am developing, solutions in the background I am working on, and once I have something i’ll be happy to post it!

March 19, 2009

Working SharePoint over Hamachi

Filed under: SharePoint Technology,Sharing Minds — adamclark @ 2:31 pm

Ok, this is a little different to most remote access requirements for MOSS but is a kewl little trick to know if you ever need a quick access method for Internal resources. The Requirement Recently I rebuilt my entire environment to fall in line with the policies lined out by my company Sharing Minds. Being a young company and still finding our feet in the world we need an Intranet to store and share our information and build our IP base. So being SharePoint guys we have of course deployed SharePoint as our Intranet.

The construction of the Intranet is ongoing and takes a back seat to the development of client items, but most important is the ability for the Intranet to be accessible to our resources out on site. Add to this that when we’re in the office we want to access the Intranet over the URL http://intranet and when we’re out of the office we want to access the Intranet over the URL https://Extranet (for example). The Solution With the rebuild of the environment, I have yet to finish configuring the remote access and SSL capabilities for everyone to access the Intranet resources stored securely on our network. SO how is it possible to allow access to the Intranet without SSL and a fully configured remote access policy. The answer is fairly simple, Hamachi and Alternative Access Mappings.

Hamachi is a client to client VPN tool available from http://www.logmein.com , is free and secure. I have used hamachi for various tasks over the years from sharing files to playing games and it has always worked well.

Alternative Access Mappings (AAM) is a way that SharePoint can provide content from a single web site on different URL’s.

To describe the process I used, here are the steps:

1. Create the base SharePoint Site Collection (i.e. http://Intranet)

2. Define a static IP address for the Site Collection and apply that IP Address with a Host Header in IIS.

3. Ensure that a DNS entry has been created for the URL with the IP addressed assigned.

At this point if set-up correctly you will be able to access your site collection via the URL specified.

4. Set-up Hamachi on your SharePoint Server, hamaci will supply the server with an IP address for the VPN connection, you will need to note this IP address.

5. Create a AAM that points to the new URL (i.e. http://Extranet)

6. Assign the Hamachi IP address and DNS name as a new host header in IIS..

7. Create a DNS Entry that points the Hamachi IP address to the DNS name.

From a server perspective your SharePoint site will accept connections from the hamachi (VPN) address to the external DNS name provided. If your remote machines don’t have the correct cached credentials it is possible that you may need to a Hosts file entry that maps the DNS name to the hamachi IP address on the client machine, then it will work. This has turned out to be a quick secure way to get our organisation up and running with a minimum of fuss while we get a full remote environment up and running.

January 27, 2009

Install MOSS 2007 on the Windows 2008 Platform

Filed under: SharePoint 2007,Sharing Minds — adamclark @ 9:18 am

Recently I began the process of rebuilding my internal compnay environment to a Windows Server 2008 base for all systems that were supported on the platform.  This included installing SharePoint onto the server 2008 platform.

So after backing up my old environment and building my brandnew Intranet server on 64bit windows server 2008 platform (previous was on 32bit) I niaviely installed my MOSS install disk in the DVD drive and hit install….

This is the point that most IT professionals dread, support the application on the platfrom is there but are there instructions on how to install the app, of course not!  At this point my great friend Google came to the rescuse and I started reading a number of blogs on how other people have gotten round the issue  of installing MOSS on Server 2008.  Simply put here is how I did it:

1.  Get a MOSS 2007 install that has Service Pack 1 included with the install (my install media did not, hense my issue in the first place).  The best thing I found was to download the trail version of MOSS + SP1 from the Microsoft Web site, you can find the 32bit version HERE and the 64bit version HERE.  Also note that the download is around 400Mb so for those of us on slower links give yourself a little time.

2. Next, once you have the download run the install on your Windows Server 2008 environment. From this point there are two options:
A – During the install wizard use your compnay license key to install the product (Recommended).
B – If your compnay license key is an old one I have read posts that state you need to use the trial key that comes with the download.  In this case install MOSS on Server 2008 with the tiral key then go into Central Admin and ‘Upgrade’ the install to you compnay license.  (not 100% sure on the details of this one as I was able to do option A).

Following this you should have a fully functioning MOSS 2007 install on the Windows Server 2008 platform.

Let’s hope that Microsoft soon release install media with the full MOSS + SP1 application so we don’t have to play around as much!

I also found these blog posts handy while sorthing this out for myself:

http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2008/03/07/moss-2007-with-sp1-slipstream-officeserverwithsp1-exe-released.aspx

http://www.mindsharpblogs.com/ben/archive/2007/12/16/3837.aspx

http://edge.technet.com/Media/Installing-MOSS-2007-on-Windows-Server-2008/

January 16, 2009

Learning to Grow, Walk, Eat, Ask, Seize, Give…

Filed under: SharePoint Technology,Sharing Minds — adamclark @ 2:53 pm

When I first made the decision to leave my old workplace, I knew that I could do something great, that was different to everyone else.  The founding of Sharing Minds was a big step into a great big world that I knew was there but had never truly entered into.  While I have not yet been running Sharing Minds for 12 months I have to say that for the most part I still have that sense of awe for those people who run their own businesses.

The challenge that I now find is having enough time to proactively do things rather then just reacting to requirements.  The chance to Grow Sharing Minds is awesome and I am really happy to now be adding my second full-time employee (Now there are Three!).  But in growth there is risk, you have to take a chance, step out of your comfort zone, pray that the work will be there, that your employee’s are going to say and do the right thing to clients.  These are the lessons that I am now learning in growing Sharing Minds.

When I started Sharing Minds, SharePoint opportunities were abounding, and work was plentiful.  Now the work is still there but harder to find and learning to Walk in the current downturn in the economic climate is not easy.  I think that small businesses just need to adjust to longer sales cycles, help their customers to find the benefit in the product and make sure they get what they need.  Within Sharing Minds we have the saying that “We help our clients on the Journey”.  We don’t want to do the work for them, the best result is when they have learnt from us and they ask us back to continue walking the journey with them.

Another area I am really learning is is that of discussion,  for most of my career I have always had aa degree of comfort when talking to people, the gift of the gab as some people call it. But now running Sharing Minds I am learning (and really enjoying) the opportunity to grow my linguistic skill and social abilities. 

Microsoft have a saying ‘ Eat your own dog food’.  That is that they use all of their products within the organisation before they release a product to a client/customer.  At Sharing Minds I am really trying to get a similar process up off the ground.  But I also find that challenging at the same time, being a small business still in start-up mode, we don’t have lots of processes or methodologies documented, our hardware is not always up to spec and we’re always playing catch-up.  But things are getting there, we’ve got a great Intranet that is slowing getting some content running on it.  And hopefully in the first few months of 2009, we’re going to have a proper, professional Internet site running in a hosted environment.  All in all though I have to say that this is what I have so far found to be the single hardest aspect of running a business.  Eating is hard!

When I worked for a company I found that asking for information, tools, clients (or sometimes permissions) was easy.  I had skills and the need was always easy to define.  With starting Sharing Minds I have found the need to learn how to Ask.  Asking for tools is more internal but harder as I see the bottom line.  Asking clients to pay invoices on time (all of them have so far which is great) and the hardest is learning how to ask a new customer to give you work.  I still have a long way to go on that last one, but I am once again finding the process an interesting challenge that I am enjoying!

Carpe Diem! This line to seize the day and go for what your after is something that has always been of great encouragement.  Being bold in a lot of circumstances brings great results, but learning to temper that is also a skill. 

Do unto Others… that famous line is a cornerstone upon which I have created Sharing Minds,  like all business we’re there to do business, but at the same time I have found it important to give back to the community.  In 2009 I hope to get Sharing Minds more active within the business and greater community with all Sharing Minds employees giving some of their time to community activities that benefit others. 

I find this is a great time that I am in and my journey is just beginning, what has gone before has only prepared me for what lies ahead and I hope that Sharing Minds will continue to grow to become a leader in the collaboration areana, a partner to those who normal compete and a company that is both respectfull and respected in the community!

May 12, 2008

A New Time of Sharing Minds

Filed under: Sharing Minds — adamclark @ 11:14 pm

It has been a while (ok, it’s been longer than a while) since I have posted any kind of blog entry.  This is unfortunate as I always enjoy posting blog entries.  I find blogging even on the small things something of a stress reliever and in some ways as a way to help me process through information that is running through my head. 

Kicking off this week I have had a major change in my circumstance’s in that I have left Avanade and gone out on my own and created my own company to do Portal and Enterprise Collaboration around SharePoint and Office Technology.  While a scary step for me it is one that I am also excited to be taking as I see the journey to creating a successful technology consulting company is paved with great intentions and just a few pot holes along the way.  My new company Sharing Minds kicked off this week (well today actually) with it’s first client and had what I think was a great day. 

I spent the majority of today doing some classic SharePoint Consultancy with a very capable client who really just wanted to take their implementation and migration processes to the next level.  I was really enjoying discussions around Information Architecture, Disaster Recovery & even a little customs application development.  And while I was nervous being my first day (normally I am not ‘too’ nervous) I think the day went well.

So with the creation of my new company, new clients and less travel I am looking forward to posting a couple of blog entries every few weeks…

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