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  • SharePoint Designer – Free?

    There has been a rumour kicking around the last few weeks that Microsoft are to make SharePoint designer available for free

    (Posts from various SharePoint based blogs here, here and here)

    Any software announcement scheduled for April 1st always makes me suspicious (a couple of the blog posts I’ve mentioned have updated to say it’ll be the April 2nd now) but the post that made me think this could be the real deal was from the Lady Licensing blog (If you haven’t already subscribed to her blog do it…it’s very helpful!)

    Product Licensing Changes to SharePoint Designer, PerformancePoint Server and Forms Server – April 2009

    The post outlines that SharePoint Designer will become free (if you have software assurance you can get a copy of Expression Web 2 in replacement) and also says that Performance Point Server 2007 and Forms Server 2007 are to be retired

    I’ve got a few thoughts on this so lets start with SharePoint Designer

    If this is true then i think it’s a move that makes sense. When your working with SharePoint you have three ways to customise your site

    1) Through the browser

    2) With SharePoint Designer (SPD)

    3) Using developer tools such as Visual Studio

    SharePoint designer is sort of pitched as an advanced end user tool but in reality (based on my own experience) someone with specific knowledge would do this on your behalf (such as your IT consultant)

    If you want to do anything more advanced then you’d get developers involved who would side step SPD completely so I’ll bet Microsoft aren’t selling too many copies of SPD and I imagine the people who are at this level are using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) as opposed to Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) so they are already paying customers

    Since WSS is free making it a part of that adds to the overall feature set and wont make too much of a difference to the Microsoft bottom line

    Just for the ability to create workflows alone i think SharePoint Designer is an excellent tool, that’s before you look at any of the other stuff it can do

    While it can be quite a scary product (people worry about “breaking” their SharePoint sites) it is extremely powerful and worth getting to know (Penny Coventry’s book on the subject is great!)

    Forms Server 2007 and PerformancePoint

    According to the information on Emma’s post both of these products are being retired

    PerformancePoint is being rolled up into the next release of Sharepoint and will be called “PerformancePoint Services for Sharepoint” (see here for official details). They did the same thing with Content Management Server which helps build on the feature set of MOSS

    Forms Server though is an odd one which falls under the same category of InfoPath

    I personally think Microsoft missed a trick with InfoPath and the small business market. InfoPath is a very useful tool when combined with SharePoint but it’s one of those products no one knows about. (I have the same argument about OneNote – but that’s for another time)

    This is because of the way it is bundled. InfoPath 2007 comes with Office 2007 Professional Plus and Office Enterprise (we’ll just pretend “Office Ultimate” doesn’t exist) which means buying it under a volume license agreement. While we do have customers who buy office in this way lots of them prefer to buy their office software OEM with a new PC

    You can buy InfoPath separately but that means boxed product (expensive) or via volume licensing but if you going to do that you may as well get Office Professional Plus right?

    So if you don’t already know InfoPath lets you create electronic forms which are much more powerful than anything you could create in Word (which is where most people create their forms!)

    They also integrate nicely with SharePoint so you can unlock the data within them and when combined with workflows you can create powerful solutions (timesheets and expense claims i always think are a good examples)

    The downside to this is that obviously you must have InfoPath installed to work with the forms. This is where Forms Server steps in. You can create a form and then convert it into a web form so all you need to fill it in is a browser (you can even create forms for your mobile device!)

    This functionality is “baked in” to MOSS so the product is aimed for those people using WSS but with the need for web based forms. Generally this means smaller businesses so as an example what costs more?

    10 user system

    1 copy of InfoPath  + Forms server 2007 and CALs

    or

    10 copies of InfoPath

    I imagine Microsoft aren’t selling too many copies of Forms Server so i can see why this is being retired. I couldn’t find any official announcement so I’m not sure if that’s the end of Forms Server and if you want that functionality you’ll have to move to MOSS or if we’ll see some Forms Server functionality in the next version of WSS (fingers crossed!)

    It’s April 1st tomorrow so i guess we’ll at least find out something then!

  • Placing Blame Correctly

    Can’t believe how long it’s been since my last blog post! I’ve really no idea where the days are going at the moment

    I’ve had a few problems with my work PC recently. It becomes very unresponsive and gets progressively worse during the day

    I fired up the trusty task manger and the CPU was at 100% usage

    I switched to the Processes tab and sorted the list so i could see which process was causing the problem

    At the top of the list were various Trend services (We use Worry Free Business Security – I’m not a fan of the product name to be honest!)

    When i stopped the Trend client the CPU usage went down and back up when i started it again

    I trawled various online resources to see if could get to the bottom of it with very little luck

    I was planning on submitting a support case with Trend but decided to have one last go myself

    This time i looked a bit closer at the process list a saw multiple entries for TASKENG.EXE

    The total process count was at 2675 – that couldn’t be right

    I knew that TASKENG is the Vista task scheduler so had a look in there

    Turns out this is a pretty common problem and it’s simple to fix (it’s in various different blog posts and forums)

    • Go to the start menu.

    • Type task scheduler and press enter.

    • Press continue on the UAC prompt.

    • In the left pane of task scheduler, right-click on Task Scheduler Library.

    • In the view submenu, make sure the Show Hidden Tasks option is selected.

    • The hidden task that is likely at fault has a name that starts with User_Feed_Synchronization.

    • Select the scheduled task

    • To verify that this task is creating all the taskeng.exe processes, select the History tab in the middle pane near the middle of the screen.  If you expand out the Level and Date and Time Columns, you should see errors and that are about 5 minutes apart.  If that’s the case, then this task is the problem.

    • Right click the task and select Disable.

    image

    Obviously this will stop your RSS feeds from updating (the Windows list – this has nothing to do with Outlook 2007)

    If you do want to use your RSS feed list you can also try deleting the task and then from an elevated command prompt enter

    msfeedssync enable

    This will re-create the task for you if the problem with causing by the task being corrupt

    Once I’d deleted the task i used

    TASKKILL /IM TASKENG.EXE /F

    This killed off all the extra processes that had been created. I know i could have just rebooted the PC but it was a nice feeling watching them all disappear

    My process count went down to 67 and the system suddenly got a lot more responsive

    A did eventually reboot and Trend started up happily without taking too many of my system resources

    My guess is that Trend became overwhelmed with trying to monitor so many processes which why it was the one that initially seemed to be the cause of the problem

  • Dr Who Exhibition

    Like any self respecting geek I’m a Dr Who fan

    I read a ton of the books when I was growing up and since the BBC brought it back, Saturday nights has the wife and I tuning in (we’re especially gutted we’re only getting “specials” this year”)

    So when we spotted a billboard advertising a Dr Who exhibition at the Coventry Transport Museum we had to get some tickets!

    me and Alice by the Tardis

    As well as the Tardis we got to see lots cool stuff from the show including models of various characters

    A moving model of the Empress of Racnoss

    empress of racnoss

    Slitheen

    slitheen

    K9!

    K9

    Cybermen

    cyber

     

    At the end of the show we were “attacked” by Daleks and addressed by Davros! It was great seeing these characters come to life

    daleks 

    While we enjoyed the content what wasn’t fun in my opinion was the organisation.

    The exhibition was basically a path through the museum with exhibits to look at along the way. At the end of the path was the “Dalek and Davros show” (what a great sitcom that would be!)

    Our tickets were for a specific time so the idea was that a group of people would go through then half and hour later the next group would go through

    In practise this didn’t work which resulted in the exhibition basically being a very long queue. It did mean that we spent a lot of time on each individual exhibit if you wanted to look on the bright side!

    I think there were two reasons for this

    1) There were far too many people each group

    2) With the Daleks and Davros at the end it meant that only a few people could see this at a time and everyone else had to wait for them to finish which is what basically caused the queuing

    This would be bad enough under most circumstances but it’s made even worse when you have children in tow! (Luckily Alice was very patient and Evie slept through it all)

    We tried to not let it ruin the visit for us but I felt very sorry for the people after us. They were queuing out of the door!

    I’d certainly recommend a visit. But maybe during the day when it’s quieter

    (Pictures courtesy of Bryony Parkes!)

  • Unable to release items from quarantine when using Outlook 2007 with McAfee Groupshield

    Following on from my last post i mentioned that getting an email out of quarantine wasn’t fun

    Basically the procedure should go like this

    • End user receives a message telling them an email to be delivered to them has been quarantined
    • End user contacts administrator with ticket ID from quarantine notice
    • Administrator locates email and releases message
    • End user receives an email telling them their message has been released. In this message is a save button they have to press to save a copy of the email

     

    It’s not quite that simple though for a couple of reasons

    1) When the email arrives Outlook blocks the scripts from running in the email (quite rightly) which means there is an extra step to save the message to the hard disk as a HTML file

    2) Once saved as a HTML file the save functionality isn’t very dynamic. You have to specify the save location manually as there is no browse button

    3) The email is supposed to be saved in .eml format but the webpage adds an extra extension on for some reason which isn’t a great experience for the end user

    4) EML files aren’t readable by Outlook so you have to open in them in Outlook Express / Windows Mail and then import them into Outlook

    Lengthy and irritating

    To make matters worse if you using Outlook 2007 when you do save the quarantine release notice as a HTML file the save button doesn’t work

    It turns out this is because Outlook 2007 butchers the HTML and adds it’s own tags

    To get around this

  • With the email open in Outlook 2007, click Other Actions, View in Browser.
  • When prompted for the change in security settings, click OK.
  • When the email opens in the web browser, click File, Save As.
  • Browse to the location where you wish to save the file – for example the Desktop.
  • In the Save as type field, select HTM.
  • Click Save.
  • After the file has been saved, double-click it to open it.
  •  

    The save button then works

    This is from McAfee KB51838 

    My advice is that if you come across this when you locate the message on the server DONT release it from quarantine. Instead there is an option to download the EML file directly yourself.

    image

     

    This skips the whole save as HTML nonsense and you only have to worry about converting the EML message so Outlook can open

    While on that subject – another McAfee article (KB53007) indicates that groupshield SP1 does away with this and will allow you save as MSG. If you read the last article you’ll know why you’d want to install SP1!

    I haven’t had an email i can release from quarantine yet so can’t confirm this works

  • McAfee Groupshield Incorrectly Identifying E-mail as Corrupt

    Just a quick one as a reminder in case i come across this again!

    If you are using McAfee Groupshield 7 and are noticing users are receiving the following on emails that are seemingly ok

    CORRUPT CONTENT ALERT
    The content this replaces was found to be corrupt.
    Cause of corruption: Invalid character set or encoding.
    Ticket Number: <ticket number>
    See your system administrator for further information.

     

    Upgrade to Service Pack 1 and this will fix the problem

    We had two different sites that were experiencing this problem and the procedure you have to go through to release a quarantined message isn’t fun!

    Full details in McAfee article 53009

    I’ve been critical of McAfee support in this past but it appears as their knowledgebase as undergone a revamp as it’s helped me out quite a lot recently

    kc.mcafee.com