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  • Is Social Networking behind in the Enterprise?

    The short answer is Yes it is, but there are reasons.

    There is a bigger problem than just Social Networking, which is that many enterprises are behind on the Web 2.0 push. I’m not sure they are behind, but there just isn't always a good business reason to push to something that could just be a buzz word. There are two sides to Social Networking that should be looked at (maybe in another post):

    • Social Networking for intranets (internal)
    • Social Networking for business web sites (external) and applications provided by companies

    I was talking to a friend of mine that works at a large bank, and I told him that the first bank to figure out how to bring Web 2.0 to enterprise banks will have a major advantage. Now, this may never happen because you have to find the business reason for doing this first.

    Back to Enterprise Social Networking, and keep in mind I will be looking at it from a SharePoint 2007 point of view. I think there are many large enterprises looking to bring in Social Networking right now. Most large enterprises are probably looking for a way to increase the collaboration they have now. If they weren't, they wouldn't be doing their job.

    Some of the reasons preventing the private enterprise sector from adopting Social Networking might be based on a number of factors and challenges that are very different from, and may not affect, the public sector users.

    1. The governance of the sites, information, and time. You don’t want to have people on the computer all day trying to set up social networks and leaving messages on other people’s walls. This would not be a good use of time.
    2. Cost is one of the biggest factors that I have seen for why a company might not bring in the tools. This includes hardware and software costs. The investment can be very high for enterprise level tools, especially when the number of users starts to climb.
    3. Integration seems to be a problem that has always been a challenge. Some recent challenges have been how to integrate the data from these products. Although it is much easier in SharePoint 2007, this is still a concern for many companies.
    4. There are always features that companies want that they cannot get from a product, and that is where the community has to step up and create them. You need to have a good community of people continually improving the product. The good news for SharePoint users is that it does have great community involvement.
    5. There are always a large number of companies looking to see who “jumps” first and was successful doing so. As soon as there are a number of large companies that are successful, I think there will be a wave of other companies following the trend.
    6. Competition! Many companies don't know what the best solution is yet, and they are still evaluating what is out there. This can be a problem if your product is just like any other product available. For instance, some people use Linkedin and some use Facebook, but when you have free access to both, you can use both. If you had to invest a lot of money into each one, you may be forced to evaluate the cost benefit of each and select only one of them to buy. What would you do if you had to pick just one?

    I am sure there are many other factors, but I think many customers are getting ready to move and they just need more time and/or resources, one of which being money. It is difficult to change without the availability of these.

    Social Networking may be behind right now, but I don't think it will be for very long. I have been talking with some leading enterprise companies, and they are looking at the tools. They are looking not only for productivity, but also as a requirement to attracting good employees. Some of the best and brightest workers have come to expect a certain level of tools at work that help them accomplish their tasks.

  • Weekend with patio furniture and Harry Potter

    Saturday and Sunday were definitely days.  Not sure if they qualify as good or bad, but they were definitely days.

    Saturday started with Kim and I leaving the house early to get some errands done.  One of the errands we ran was to clean up the back yard at the house we're still trying to sell (if you're looking for a 2 bedroom in Alpharetta, let me know).  Anyway, we get there and mow the grass and trim the bushy stuff when we realize we really need another lawn bag or two and the electric hedge trimmer.  So we get in my car to drive home and pick up the other stuff and find that my car battery is dead.  We called a friend to come give us a jump but it turns out that the cables they borrowed from a neighbor were just not up to the task.  This is according to the AAA mechanic I had to call after our friend left to take Kim home.  Kim had to get home b/c we were expecting Home Depot to deliver our order of patio furniture that afternoon.  She receives the patio furniture and drives back to the Alpharetta property just in time to follow me to the car dealership where I am going to have them replace the battery.  This is the car's 3rd battery in under 44k miles and less than 3 years!  To my great surprise, the battery was NOT under warranty.  Apparently it carries its own warrantee which is only good till 36000 miles.  I'll argue this point with the dealership later, I just didn't have the patience to deal with them in a reasonable fashion.  As it was, it took them nearly 3 hours to replace the battery and they charged me about $65 for the priviledge.

    After we got out of the dealership, we went home to start putting together the patio furniture before our previously scheduled dinner out with friends.  We spent about 45 minutes screwing stuff together only to realize that we'd done it upside down.  Frustrating.

    At least dinner with our friends Courtney and Elliot was enjoyable.  We went back to their place after dinner to meet the brand new puppy and play board games.  After I demolished them at Trivial Pursuit, we decided to play a new game - Pimps and Ho's.  Check out www.pimpsandhos.com to learn more about this Monopoly-like celebration of low-brow humor.  The game was gross and funny.  We had a blast playing it.

    Sunday, starting at about 10:30am, Kim and I spent about 5 hours putting together the patio furniture (right-side up this time) and we also went to see our friend Melissa's new home for the first time since she moved in 3 weeks ago.  After dinner I ran to Barnes and Noble and picked up a copy of the new Harry Potter book.  I'm about 50% through it now and I've threatened everyone near me who's already finished it with death should they reveal any of the story to me before I finish it.

    So, that was my weekend.  Oh - it also rained every day.  I know that Georgia is experiencing a drought, but it's rained every day for the last eight days at my house.  My grass, which was previously dry and brittle, is now nearly 2 feet tall.  I'd mow it but it's always raining!

  • Emergency update! Tonight's Geek Dinner cancelled!

    Due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, or at least due to things I don't know about, the Geek Dinner originally scheduled for tonight has been cancelled.

  • Cursed

    It's beginning to feel a bit like I've been cursed recently.  Things which should work, aren't.  Things which other people have done successfully in the past are killing me!

    Example?

    MakeCab.exe takes a parameter which identifies whether or not to span a CAB file: 

    .set DiskDirectoryTemplate=CDROM ; All cabinets go in a single directory

    It recommends that right here in MSDN

    I try it on my disk, and my 3MB .CAB file (WSP) is being spanned at 1.44MB, as if it were a floppy disk!  No idea why!

     

    Man this sucks!  However, at least I'm not infected with some kind of bowel-shattering virus which would force me to the emergency room all night, right?

    Outbreak hazmat suits

  • IASA Regional Event in Forbes.com

    The IT Architect Regional Conference 2007 that will be held in Atlanta was on Forbes.com today.  This should be an awesome event with tons of great speakers.  If you haven't heard about it yet, Atlanta will be the first region to hold the event.  Check out the full article

    http://www.forbes.com/businesswire/feeds/businesswire/2007/07/10/businesswire20070710005688r1.html

    The event will be on September 13-14th so make sure and register.

  • Special Event at Microsoft Building Tonight 7/9 - All Welcome

    We are lucky to have a bunch of Microsoft DE's in Atlanta and they are going to put together some great training .  This should be a great time and we will have some fun time for developers at the Alpharetta Microsoft Building tonight.  Make sure and check out the great presentations as well as the "Whose Slide improv"!

    Check out the full agenda on Doug's Blog

    http://blogs.msdn.com/dougturn/archive/2007/07/06/whose-slide-is-it-anyway-atlanta.aspx

  • Photos from the new house

    I've promised to post some photos online from the new house.  Here you go!

     

    All my photos are hosted at Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ranlett/.  Be sure to click through to read comments on each photo.

     * posting this has been a distraction from the real work I'm supposed to be doing

  • SharePoint Server 07 - Web Content Management is crippled, by design

    OK - so I'm a bit irritated, but this is a great case of Microsoft's dev teams doing something which contradicts documentation and expected behavior.  Here is the story, including the business case which this bug stomps all over.

    Doug Ware (formerly of Magenic fame and now an independent SharePoint consultant) and I have been engaged by a client of Intellinet's to provide them with a custom web publishing solution.  The business scenario is fairly simple.  The client has indepenent authors creating valuable content which the company wants to sell to a variety of customers.  The nature of the clients are such that each client needs its own private branded web site, so the custom publishing solution is responsible for taking the centrally created content and pushing it to n number of structurally identical portals.  Sounds like an ideal case for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 WCM, doesn't it?  We certainly thought so.

    So here is the problem.  Create a pair of web applications.  Call one Publishing and call the other Destination.  On the Publishing site, create some subsites and some content in those subsites.  Leave Destination alone for now (a blank template is fine).  Now, in the Content Publishing Paths and Jobs section of SharePoint Central Administration, create a path to push content from the Publishing site collection to the Destination site collection.  Create a job from that path which pushes the entire site collection from the Publishing site collection to the Destination site collection.  At this point, it is important to do the entire site collection at one shot to guarantee that all the site features and structural elements are synchronized.  This last statement was confirmed by Microsoft Support (getting to that bit next).  Run the job and check that the Destination site looks EXACTLY like the Publishing site.  Notice that even site images and titles are changed! 

    Phase two of the publishing SHOULD be to brand the client's Destination site with custom themes, site images, layouts, etc.  The top level site is really just a landing page directing users to the subsites, and is not expected to be re-published.  So go try that - give the Destination site collection's top level site a different theme and title.  Now go back to the Central Admin's paths and jobs section.  Create a new job which excludes the root site and only includes one of the subsites for publication.  Notice before you click OK on the job that the default setting is only to synchronize changes in content.  Click OK and run the job.  At this point, you would expect nothing to change, right?  After all, you didn't make any changes to the Publishing site's selected subsite so there are no deltas.  Ready for a surprise?  Go check the Destination site's top level site.  Remember that new theme and title?  They're gone!  Ready for another surprise?  Go back to the definition of that job you just created, the one which specified a single subsite for replication instead of the entire site collection.  Notice anything different?  Now the job definition has changed and includes the root site!  WTF!?!  Doug discovered this when doing some basic POC testing with content publishing at the beginning of the client engagement.

    So Doug and I called Microsoft Premier Support Services.  We spoke with a support representitive named Lokanath who took a few days to understand the actual issue we were reporting.  Once the actual issue was understood, he referred the issue to the internal development teams.  Here is what I got back a week and a half after opening the issue:

    "In any case, the behavior customer is seeing - Content deployment will always deploy root site collection even if the content deployment job only defines subsites to be deployed and explicitly excluded the root site. This behavior is by-design and that is the expected behavior. The reason is that Content Deployment requires the site collection features to be synchronized in the source and target site collections. And instead of assuming that they are synchronized, Content Deployment will always re-synch each time it is ran. To re-synch, Content Deployment needs to re-deploy the root site every time. The final outcome of the content deployment is to get the synchronized source and the destination site collections."

    Bogus answer guys!  This totally contradicts your documentation and even the tool's UI!  The following links take you to Microsoft documentation stating that it is not necessary to replicate the entire site collection when using Web Content Publishing:

    All of these different sources point to the ability to publish a single site independently of other sites, not on an entire site collection by site collection basis. 

    I'm going to lobby Microsoft to consider this a bug and not a side effect of good design and bad documentation.  If the only use of publishing is to create exactly identical sites, it is limited in functionality to supporting only a single staging/production environment type of scenario.  News publishing and general CMS strategies immediately go out the window.  I'll post a follow-up to this entry if and when I hear back from PSS.  IMHO this is a pretty big bug.  Doug Ware was even more colorful in his general description of the problem.

    [edit] - Before I even posted this, but after I'd typed it up in draft form, I received a call from a manager in the SharePoint product team's support staff.  He heard about my dissatisfaction with the proposed resolution and has offered to put one of his tech leads on the case and to call me back by 2pm Friday.  If nothing else, at least they're trying to leave me with a satisfied feeling as I work through this issue.

  • Using the Samsung Blackjack as a modem over Bluetooth

    The online documentation for the phone makes it seem like using the 3G phone as a wirelessly tethered modem is impossible.  However, a quick search of the web found the following directions, which I have re-organized for easier consumption.

    Here are the directions I followed to get it working: (adapted from http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=1096867)

    *** One time setup ***

    1. Hook the Blackjack to your PC using the USB cable.
    2. Open ActiveSync and browse the phones files.
    3. Make sure that in your folder options on the PC that you have it set to "show hidden folders".
    4. Go to My windows mobile-based device>windows...the windows folder takes a few seconds to open, scroll about halfway down until you see IntShrUI,
    5. right click and create a new shortcut (there is some form of security on existing shortcuts)...it should place this at the bottom of the page...find it and cut it (right click>cut)..
    6. also in the windows folder is a start menu folder, open that and paste your new shortcut inside the start menu.
    7. Rename the shortcut to Internet Connection Sharing and go find it in the start menu of your phone.

    *** every time ***

    1. Turn on Bluetooth (FN+B), go to wireless manager to verify that you are indeed visible,
    2. open the internet sharing program on your Blackjack, change the "pc connection" to "Bluetooth PAN", then hit the connect softkey on your Blackjack,
    3. it should say "device setup finished, on the PC, connect Bluetooth PAN", now just hit connect on your PC, and it should work.
    4. Go to your network connections on the PC and verify that you are connected to the internet using Bluetooth.
    5. *note - you have to hit connect on the phone before connecting on the computer, or it will always say "connection denied".
  • Presale tickets to the Police

    Thanks to my membership in the Best Buy Rewards Zone (which I totally forgot about until I got some spam), I was able to purchase some pre-sale tickets to the Police concert in Atlanta this November.  These tickets went on sale even before the Fan Club tickets did.  I've got great seats too!

    Yay!  I'm excited - I love the Police.

     

    [edit] - Looks like Dan and Glen will be joining Kim and myself at the Police concert.

  • My TV is being hung on the wall

    Even as I sit here and type this, the TV is being hung on the wall.  Tonight I'll be looking up to watch TV, which will be convenient in my reclining sofa!

  • Experian - the credit reporting service with an almost complete lack of customer service

    I'm trying to order a new cellphone from AT&T.  Since I don't currently have a contract with them, they have to run a credit check to verify that they want to allow me to enter a contract.  Basically I get no cellphone reception on my TMobile Blackberry at my new house.  Brendon's new AT&T Blackjack worked fine however, so I figured I'd get one too.  Not only is it a neat new toy to play with, Amazon.com is currently selling them for free when you sign a 2 year contract.  Amazon uses a reseller, so I have to go their website to check the status of my order.  The reseller's site said they needed more information to complete the order.  I called them up and they said they couldn't complete the credit check b/c there was a security freeze on my credit history at Experian.  I needed to remove the freeze before they could continue the approval process.  Now, it turns out that there is no freeze on my credit history and someone must have typed something wrong, but the story is about me trying to deal with Experian.

    Experian clearly is not in the business of providing service to consumers.  Oh, you can deal with them through the mail (snail mail that is) or you can call and talk to the automated phone system.  Talking to a person on the phone is a big problem.  It took me 2 days and 20 phone calls to finally get through to a person.  The gist is that you call up initially and the system tells you that it won't talk to you if you don't have a credit report from them that is less than 90 days old.  You go get that (luckily you can get one for free) and it gives you the option to dispute elements on your credit report.  Mine was fine and I didn't want to dispute anything.  However, the only thing I could do was dispute that, so I pretended like I wanted to dispute my personal information then had to confuse the voice recognition in order to be given to a person.  The most frustrating part is that if you do anything unexpected, like hit 0 to talk to an agent when that's not an explicit option, the system will hang up on you.

    The agent was able to clear up the confusion right away (no lock on my file and no requests for credit history from AT&T).  Getting to the agent was way too frustrating.  I'd have been fine sitting on hold for an hour (speakerphone!) but the constant disconnections and horrible phone system wore me down.  I was on the verge of filing a Better Business Bureau complaint over what turned out to be AT&T's mistake.

    What a pain!  Experian sucks!

  • Talk about stupid business policies - No cancellation policies

    The Holiday Inn Express at 805 West Arrowood Rd in Charlotte NC 28217 has a free room for anyone who would like to use it.  Thanks to their no refunds for cancellation policy, I am going to call the hotel to guarantee that the room will not be release for use by other paying guests.  This room in Charlotte is going to cost Intellinet $100 and I won't be there to use it b/c my trip to Charlotte was cancelled.

    Lame!  I've got half a mind to dispute the charges on my credit card.

  • My 360 is going wireless

    According to UPS, my wireless network adapter for my Xbox 360 has been delivered today.  This means that I've now got networked games on my nice big new flat screen TV.  Hi Def baby!  Oh yeah!

    posted 12-06-2007 10:52 by Matt Ranlett | 3 Comments
    Filed Under:
  • Echo for SharePoint

    You want me to do what and in how many hours? Imagine that you're a SharePoint administrator of a company which has hundreds or possibly thousands of SharePoint sites out there?  What happens when you need to deploy a new webpart which should be available to all existing and new sites?  What if you need to turn on a feature for a few hundred sites?  SharePoint doesn't provide you an easy way to do this at an enterprise level.  This could be a painful rollout process if you did everything manually.  Fortunately for all those administrators, Echo for SharePoint 2007 is coming out (currently in Beta and can be seen at TechEd at booth 253).  I've not tested the tool, but it sure looks like it will relieve this kind of pain for overworked SharePoint administrators.

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