2010 in review

Seeing its New Years Eve and I’m home early (perils of a young family) I thought I’d take a few minutes to reflect on 2010.

For me professionally 2010 was a phenomenal year.  Here is a bit of a break down :

This year I spent a lot of time presenting.  I presented at a grand total of 12 events, which is a huge improvement on the 5 of the previous year, some highlights include :

  • Over the course of the year I presented at every SharePoint Saturday in Australia except for Perth.  Sorry Perth, you were just too far… this year!
  • In May and December I organised and ran two successful events in Brisbane, SharePoint Saturday and Infrastructure Saturday
  • In December I presented at an overseas gig, SharePoint Saturday New Zealand
  • In June I presented at the Australian SharePoint Conference, this was a great experience and one I hope to repeat in 2011.
  • In August I had the privilege of presenting at Tech Ed Australia with Ben Fletcher.  This one was a long term goal I did not really expect to achieve this year, but somehow got there.  Thanks for the help Ben!
  • And finally the highlight of the year, I had the honour of attending the inaugural Microsoft Evangelist Academy.  I could rave about this for days, but its probably easier to look back a post or two on the blog for the full details.

Career wise what I think is probably the best and most exciting step and joined OBS in April as an Infrastructure Consultant.  Since before I even started I have been in awe of just how fantastic this company is, after sharing an office with them for 18 months prior to joining up, I got a very exclusive sneak preview into the exceptional people and work that really makes this company pop.  I had a fantastic first eight months, worked on some mammoth projects, got to work shoulder to shoulder with some of the people I consider to be the best in the SharePoint world, learnt a heap and generally had a blast.

So what is there to expect in 2011?

There are two professional aspects I am really going to focus on in 2011.

  1. I’m really looking forward to seeing what 2011 has to offer for me at OBS.  There are some fairly exciting things on the boil, and I have a few goals I’d like to achieve that I’d rather not share here yet.
  2. With the help of the Microsoft Evangelist Academy and a lot of my own hard work I’m going to really focus on my Presenting.  There are a lot of things I can do to really improve my presentation skills and making some really excellent presentations at events this year.  I also have a mini-goal of presenting at an event in the States, hopefully I can make that happen!

So 2010, thanks for a exceptionally good year.  Bring on 2011, I think it will be even better!

A few days at the Microsoft Evangelism Academy



I had the privilege of being invited to attend the inaugural Microsoft Evangelism Academy last week in Melbourne, run by the DPE team at Microsoft.

The people in attendance were (aside from myself)

The event was organised by Andrew Coates and Sarah Vaughan from Microsoft and run by Steve and Melony from NRG Solutions.  Steve and Melony have in the past have been involved with speaker training for the TechEd Australia events.

The idea of this Academy is to, in Microsoft’s words, take technical “gurus” and turn them into “super gurus”.   It was an intensive three day course, focused on helping us become great speakers with lots of exercises and activities to firmly put us outside our comfort zones. The program does not just end there either, it continues until August next year during which we have :

  • Monthly conference calls
  • Monthly 1 on 1 catchup over the phone with a mentor
  • 1 day of group training in Melbourne every 3 months
  • Talk at UserGroups, Conferences and whatever we can!

Microsoft also provided what I think is one of the greatest tools available today to a public speaker, a small MinoHD video camera. This enabled us to get our own instant feedback on what we like or dislike about our own speaking styles.  This kind of feedback is gold to a speaker, I was able to instantly identify several things I disliked about my speaking style as well as pick up on a few things I did not even realise I was doing, such as gesturing with my thumbs and swaying slightly. 

So what did I come away with? After 3 days I had a card with a list of tips that I found helpful, which are outlined below :

  • Don’t be afraid to be Different!
  • Don’t spend too much time on “About Me” as it can detract credibility. If you are on stage you already have credibility
  • Have a good start and a good finish. The first 100 words will be more powerful than the next 1000.
  • Don’t be afraid to change the environment. Own the space!
  • If you are presenting on multiple topics or points, move to a specific space for each point and return to it if you return to the topic. (Spacial Anchoring)
  • When preparing aim to present for exactly the time you are presenting for, or 10% less.
  • Don’t be afraid to link to other presenters to establish rapport with your audience.
  • Showing is better than telling.
  • Build up a library of stories that can be told on any relevant situation.
  • Make eye contact with as many people in the room as possible.
  • It can be very powerful to hold eye contact for an entire point or paragraph with one individual, but do not make them feel “stared at”
  • Do not tinker with your tech before your presentation, welcome your audience, get out from behind the podium!
  • Stand still or Move with purpose.
  • Don’t forget to Pause – A good pause is far more effective than words.
  • Less is More!
  • Recovery is more important than delivery, and you get to practise it a lot more!
  • Build up a presentation kit and checklist to make sure you are prepared every time
  • Walk for 7-10 minutes before you present, to build up energy
  • Use gestures deliberately, not accidentally
  • Stand with feet at shoulder width
  • Point your feet at whatever has your attention. If you have attention on your audience, they will pay attention to you. If you have your attention on your slide, they will pay attention to your slide
  • Let your visuals augment You, not the other way around
  • The room is yours, feel free to change it how you see fit, even if that means restricting access to the back seats, or even turning the room around
  • If you are talking on a negative point, do not make eye contact with the audience, talk to the floor. And do this in a sacrificial space, that you will not return to
  • Don’t be afraid to be theatrical, everything looks way less dramatic from the audience
  • Gesture BIG!  It will appear smaller from the audience.
  • Stand with your hands clasped in front of you, or by your sides

This is only a tiny fraction of what I learned in the 3 days and I can tell you that I will never again look at a presenter the same way, nor will I ever present again in the same ways I have in the past. I am already looking at some of my prior presentations wondering how I can make my presentations really stand out.

This training really put me outside of my comfort zone, which immediately forced me to learn and while I did find it difficult I really enjoyed the whole thing. The final activity was a huge example of this as we had to pick a random topic and speak for 3 minutes on it, to members of the general public, at South Bank in Melbourne.  This also had the side benefit of removing any possibility of me ever being embarrassed or nervous prior to speaking to an audience again.

This was captured on video and I have uploaded it to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqcZGHDRedM

I picked the topic of “Three things about me, and try to pick which one of them is false”. While I think I spoke reasonably well within the constraints of the stress this activity generated, upon reviewing it I can see a half-dozen things I wish I had done better and hopefully with practice will improve on.

I am really looking forward to working on my presenting over the next year and it will be interesting to see where it takes me! 

Also lastly, A massive thanks to everyone involved! this is probably the most exciting thing I’ve seen from Microsoft in the community space in a long time, and I am really proud to be part of it.

Upcoming Events

The next couple of months are going to be very busy as I have a handful of presentations and events that I will be presenting at :

Infrastructure Saturday
Brisbane – November 6th 2010

Join System Administrators, System Engineers, Architects and other IT Pro’s that work with Microsoft Server products for our ‘Infrastructure Saturday’ event. Infrastructure Saturday is an educational, informative & lively day filled with sessions from respected IT Pros, MVPs and other Community Members covering a wide variety of Microsoft server orientated topics. Infrastructure Saturday is FREE, open to the public and is your local chance to immerse yourself in Microsoft Infrastructure!

Infrastructure Saturday – Introduction to SharePoint Server 2010
Brisbane – November 6th 2010

SharePoint 2010 adds an amazing amount of new and exciting changes for IT professionals including radical improvements to Farm, Service and Health architecture.  Join Mark as he introduces all of the new functionality that will make IT Professionals drool with possibility.  This session will cover new functionality, including Service Applications, PowerShell, Health Monitoring, Redundancy and Performance improvements and even more.  If you are looking at deploying SharePoint 2010 do not miss this session!

Infrastructure Saturday in a very exciting one in particular.  A few people have likened this to a “Community driven mini Tech Ed”.  Places for this event are filling up fast and if you want to go I’d click the above link and register now!  Check out the site for more information on the Speakers, Sponsors and also how to register.

SharePoint Saturday Melbourne – SharePoint 2010 PowerShell Primer
October 2010

Whether you are a developer, IT Pro or even a day to day user if you are not using PowerShell you are missing out! In this session Mark will introduce the audience to PowerShell with a focus on its role with SharePoint 2010. While this session starts out aimed at helping first time users get started with PowerShell, even more seasoned users will benefit from the introduction to SharePoint 2010′s huge range of functionality.

Brisbane Infrastructure Group – Cloud Secret Sauce and What you can cook with it (With Ben Fletcher)
Microsoft Brisbane – 12 October 2010 – 5:30 PM

Ever wondered how a public cloud is made? Considered using cloud techniques and methodology in your own infrastructure? In this session Enteprises can learn how to improve security, efficiencies and services by utilising the methods and principles applied in hosting cloud services in their own infrastructure. This high level and thought provoking discussion will talk about the challenges of hosting, what tools and principles used in hosted and cloud services can be used to provide services in the enterprise such as user and department self management, control panels, identity management and automation. It will highlight the challenges and limitations of hosting cloud services from an enterprise point of view, with a focus on AD, Exchange, SharePoint, OCS, and IIS. It will also talk about Microsoft’s Dynamic Datacenter and how you can create your own private cloud.

For anyone that was not able to go to TechEd and wanted to see our “Cloud Secret Sauce” session, we will be doing this again at this months BIG.  Hope to see you there!

Set Site Collection Search Settings by PowerShell

Setting your Site Collection Search Settings by Powershell, what a tongue twister, try saying that six times fast. Setting your search settings via PowerShell is not something that is immediately obvious and requires a bit of digging.

First – how do we see what settings we’ve currently got?  First lets get our web and throw it into a variable to make it a bit easier to handle.

$web = get-spweb http://address

By digging down through the properties of the $web object we can see two areas that might house this : allProperties and Properties.  I do not know why there are two property areas, seems a little confusing.

The properties we are after are in AllProperties and are called :

SRCH_ENH_FTR_URL and SRCH_SITE_DROPDOWN_MODE

SRCH_ENH_FTR_URL is pretty straight forward, it is the URL or relative path of the Search Center you want to use and can be set like follows :

$web.AllProperties[“SRCH_ENH_FTR_URL”] = “http://address.to/searchcenter”

Controlling the drop down is a little more difficult, as there are lots of not too transparent options to pick.  Here they are mapped out :

Site Collection Search Dropdown Mode Property Value Search Results URL
Do Not Show Scopes Dropdown, and default to contextual scope HideScopeDD_DefaultContextual Y
Do Not Show Scopes Dropdown, and default to target results page HideScopeDD N
Show scopes Dropdown ShowDD Y
Show, and default to ‘s’ URL parameter ShowDD_DefaultURL Y
Show and default to contextual scope ShowDD_DefaultContextual Y
Show, do not include contextual scopes ShowDD_NoContextual N
Show, do not include contextual scopes, and default to ‘s’ URL parameter ShowDD_NoContextual_DefaultURL N
It is pretty easy to set this with the following :
$web.AllProperties[“SRCH_SITE_DROPDOWN_MODE”] = HideScopeDD_Defaultcontextual
If a dropdown mode is selected that requires a results URL set, then this can be set using the SRCH_TRAGET_RESULTS_PAGE property.  Please note that this is NOT my typo, this is how it is in the Web AllProperties property.
$web.AllProperties[“SRCH_TRAGET_RESULTS_PAGE”] = “http://address.to/searchcenter/_layouts/OSSSearchResults.aspx”

Nice and easy, and you’ve just set your search settings via PowerShell.  If you are like me, and I’m guessing you will be, you’ll be doing a $web.update() just to finish this off and write all the settings back to the site.

Here is the full script, please note it assumes you have loaded Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell

$web = Get-SPWeb http://www.address.com
$web.AllProperties[“SRCH_ENH_FTR_URL”] = “/search/”
$web.AllProperties[“SRCH_SITE_DROPDOWN_MODE”] = HideScopeDD_Defaultcontextual
$web.AllProperties[“SRCH_TRAGET_RESULTS_PAGE”] =”/_layouts/OSSSearchResults.aspx”
$web.update()

Presenting at Tech Ed Australia 2010

I’ve had some very good fortune this year and will be presenting two sessions this year at Tech Ed Australia 2010.

My two sessions are :

1.  ARC203 – Cloud Secret Sauce and what you can cook with it.

Thursday 9:45 AM – Meeting Room 5

Hosting services poses unique challenges, and for good reason – exposing services to 6 billion people has to be secure, but also has to be efficient to be commercially viable. Enteprises can learn how to improve security, efficiencies and services by utilising the methods and principles applied in hosting cloud services in their own infrastructure. This session will talk about the challenges of hosting, what tools and principles used in hosted and cloud services can be used to provide services in the enterprise such as user and department self management, control panels, identity management and automation. It will highlight the challenges and limitations of hosting cloud services from an enterprise point of view, with a focus on AD, Exchange, SharePoint, OCS, and IIS. It will also talk about Microsoft’s Dynamic Datacenter and how you can create your own private cloud.

This session is being presented with an old friend of mine Ben Fletcher, and should be an entertaining and informative look at the advantages, disadvantages and difficulties that can come with having your own private cloud.

2.  THR007 – SharePoint 2010 Server Health Monitoring

Thursday 1:15 PM – AvePoint Interactive Theater

SharePoint 2010 adds an amazing amount of new and exciting changes for IT professionals and one of those changes is the dramatic improvement to the health monitoring within SharePoint.  Join Mark as he introduces these new features, demonstrates how they work and shows you how to keep your farm healthy!

A huge thanks must go to AvePoint for this, as a major sponsor they are putting on an Interactive Theater and have asked a slew of community experts to present on a variety of interesting SharePoint 2010 topics.  I think that this theater is going to be at capacity the entire event!

I am also looking forward to Wednesday night SharePint which promises to be a lot of fun, come along to meet with Australia’s SharePoint community, have a few laughs and beers!

Looking forward to it already, if you haven’t already bought a ticket to Tech Ed, better jump on it quick as they are selling out fast!

Resolving a HTTP/1.1 200 OK Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.5 Error with a SharePoint 2010 Web Application

This error stopped me in my tracks for a couple of hours, while just editing IIS bindings and Alternate Access Mappings my site stopped responding entirely.

Instead of displaying a lovely site, my browser just displayed a blank error message.   Turning off Friendly Error messages I found the following error message displayed :

HTTP/1.1 200 OK Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.5 Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2010 03:19:45 GMT Connection: close

Unfortunately this error is not as helpful as you would think.  The only time I’ve seen similar errors with SharePoint were with 404 errors, usually because a Web Application existed, but a Site Collection did not.

I also noticed quite a few of these errors in the event log :

Unknown SQL Exception -1 occurred. Additional error information from SQL Server is included below.
A network-related or instance-specific error occurred while establishing a connection to SQL Server. The server was not found or was not accessible. Verify that the instance name is correct and that SQL Server is configured to allow remote connections. (provider: SQL Network Interfaces, error: 26 – Error Locating Server/Instance Specified)

Again this was not helpful, as I had other Web Applications on the same servers, which had no problem connecting at all!

Out of some desperation I decided to try detaching and reattaching the content database for the Web Application, and Voila!  The site came back online.   I do not have any idea why this was actually happening, however I’m putting it up here in case someone else comes across it.

Avoiding duplicate Service Principal Names when using setspn.exe

Heres a quick Kerberos tip I was given the other day :

When registering a SPN with setspn.exe, rather than use setspn -a, use setspn -s  as this will take a little longer but it will check to ensure that that Service Principal Name (SPN) is not registered anywhere else.  This is  a very handy little feature!

C:\Users\Administrator>setspn -S http/server.demo.com spservice
Checking domain DC=demo,DC=com
Registering ServicePrincipalNames for CN=SPService,OU=Service Accounts,DC=demo,DC=com
http/server.demo.com
Updated object

C:\Users\Administrator>setspn -S http/server.demo.com spservice
Checking domain DC=demo,DC=com
CN=SPService,OU=Service Accounts,DC=demo,DC=com
http/server.demo.com
Duplicate SPN found, aborting operation!

How cool is that?  Wish I'd known about this a long time ago!  Bear in mind that it was only introduced in Server 2008, so it has not really been around all that long.

Enabling or Disabling Claims Based Authentication

If you have already provisioned a Web Application then it may not be immediately obvious how to change the authentication over to Claims (or revert back to Classic) as this cannot be done within the GUI and can only be done within PowerShell.

Note : To do this you will need to load PowerShell and the SharePoint 2010 snap-in.

To Enable Claims :

$webApp = Get-SPWebApplication "http://webapplicationurl"
$webApp.UseClaimsAuthentication = 1;
$webApp.Update()

And to revert back to Classic mode authentication just change the 1 to a 0 :

$webApp = Get-SPWebApplication "http://webapplicationurl"
$webApp.UseClaimsAuthentication = 0;
$webApp.Update()

Fairly easy, but not immediately obvious 🙂

South East Asia SharePoint Conference 2010

After an extremely successful SharePoint conference earlier this year in Sydney run by the fantastic folks at SPEvents, it looks like there is going to be a South East Asia SharePoint Conference around October of this year!

The conference is going to be in Singapore on the 26th and 27th of October this year at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.

The site is up and can be viewed at http://www.sharepointconference.asia/ and has details of the location, speakers, sponsors and more.

More details of the event can also be found at the following sites :

Linkedin: http://events.linkedin.com/SharePoint-Conference-South-East-Asia/pub/364552
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/SharePoint-Conference-South-East-Asia/135980859759693
Twitter: #SPCSEA @spcsea

If you are in South East Asia and have the opportunity to attend this conference, do not miss out!   For a wrap up of the Australian conference check out my post here