November 2003 Blog Posts

I seem to be bumping into SharePoint issues at the moment. Okay, last week's wasn't SharePoint specifically and was down to dcpromo, but only came to light installing WSS.

Now we have this one:

833019 - You Receive an Error Message When You Install Windows SharePoint Services, Create a New Content Database, or Provision a New Virtual Server

You get one of the following errors:

  • Metadata manifest 'C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\60\bin\sqmcfg.dll' does not exist or has invalid signature. (Error code: 2779).
  • Metadata manifest 'C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\60\bin\sqmsto.dll' does not exist or has invalid signature. (Error code: 2779).

The problem is mysteriously date related. The code checking the validity of the DLL's is apparently broken and stops working after November 24, 2003. The current work around is to set the date back on the server, a less than comfortable experience. Hopefully there will be a new release soon with a fix.

A few weeks ago, I complained that VB.NET was missing features that programmers using languages of the braces and semicolon ilk had had for ages.

Paul Vick announced a couple of weeks ago that code analysis for missing return values and unreferenced or uninitialised variables will be coming in Whidbey. This is good news.

Excel spreadsheet illustrating network ports used by Microsoft products. Interesting and useful both at the same time.

If you install IIS6 on a Win2K3 server before promoting the server to be a domain controller using dcpromo, some IIS permissions don't get upgraded correctly:

I was trying to remove FrontPage Server Extensions 2002 from the default virtual web on my Windows Server 2003 install so that I could install Windows SharePoint Services 2.0.

When I right clicked on the web and selected Remove Server Extensions from the tasks menu, I got an error "Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions. Server extensions administration port not found."

For some reason, the admin port wasn't set but according to Phil Jankovitch, a quick fix is possible using the owsadm tool from C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\50\bin:

To check current admin port type: owsadm -o getadminport
To change admin port type: owsadm -o setadminport -p 8888 where 8888 is a port number.

The following tool for Windows XP allows image files to be mounted virtually as CD-ROM devices. This tool is provided here for your convenience, and is unsupported by Microsoft Product Support Services.

(Via Mike Gunderloy on win_tech_off_topic - this tool is pointed to on the MSDN subscriptions FAQ page - click on "What are ISO image files and how do I use them?" and the link is near the bottom of that section.)

Last night I watched the online video of Bill Gates giving his key note at COMDEX. Partly as a measure of the difference in audience at COMDEX compared to the PDC where Gates was given a rapturous welcome, this speech was somewhat understated focussing mostly on basic topics Microsoft followers probably know a lot about already.

Incidentally, it is worth watching the video as the transcript has quite a few mistakes that could give the wrong impression in places (video: 56k 100k 300k).

Considering the audience, the demonstrations of SMS 2003 and ISA Server 2004 probably went down pretty well. In an environment where managing the patching of desktops in an organisation with the variety of security fixes coming out of Redmond must be a nightmare, the additions to SMS will help out a lot.

I suppose the biggest thrust of the speech is about the concept of Seamless Computing. This is pretty ill-defined but has to do with removing the boundaries between different computing environments. Microsoft's goal is to make your data pervasive across whatever devices you own, from your powerful business servers through your mobile PC's, PDA's, phones, and even your wristwatch, and between different applications, systems, and even organisations in a controlled seamless manner. This is a software problem and managed code and web services will be the glue to bind these applications together, we're told.

The section I was most interested in was to see if any announcements would be made about the Tablet PC. Gates indicated that the next version of Windows XP Tablet Edition will be available next year as a free upgrade to existing users with enhancements including a better ink recognition engine and interface. On the hardware side, we see the release of the second generation of Tablet PC's. I'm left somewhat disappointed so far however.

I've wanted a Tablet PC since Microsoft first announced their return to Pen Computing, but now in an age where the hardware and software could deliver on its true promise. My current laptop, though, whilst over 2 years old has a 14.1" 1400x1050 resolution (SXGA+ apparently) display. Now, if I buy a Tablet PC, I don't want to lose that and step back to what was available when I bought my previous laptop over 4 1/2 years ago (1024x768) and this was the best available with the initial Tablet releases. The new Toshiba Portégé® M200/205 looks ideal: 1400x1050 display, up to 2 gig of RAM, and up to a 1.7GHz processor. But it only has a 12.1" screen - won't you need a magnifying glass? The Acer and Gateway devices have 14.1" screens but still only running at 1024x768. I don't quite get it. Here's hoping that someone soon puts the two together, and the right way around.

Joe Gregorio suggests that WinFS can't work because people don't add relevant meta-data to their files today. I think he is missing the point somewhat.

First of all, one of the things that we need to do is to make applications that encourage the capture of this data and that make it simple to add and difficult to forget. For years, Office apps have had the facility to prompt for summary information when you save if you so choose. In addition, some data can be automatically derived from your documents - smart tags show one particular way that this can happen.

Document management is all about meta-data. Competing software document management systems each come up with a unique and generally imperfect way of storing and exposing this information. WinFS is going to introduce a revolution in this space. I've been working with a company on and off over the last year who specialise in this area. One of their products is specifically targeted at sifting through all those files and documents on your system, post-processing them and extracting meta-data, and then allowing you to interact with them. While we can talk to different document management systems, we currently store the data we derive in an NTFS stream alongside the original file and we have a custom IFilter implementation that can pour this into index server to support advanced searching.

WinFS will take this to another level. Not only will we be able to store the meta-data in a standard way meaning that other applications including the shell will automatically gain access to this data but we can also start to form relationships between the items in the store, and we're not just limited to NTFS bit streams.

I still think we're only at the beginning of the story here - one of the themes from the PDC is that even Microsoft doesn't yet know all the ways this technology can be employed - there are opportunities for some radical thinking and I firmly believe that WinFS and the applications it supports will be one of the driving features that pushes people in their droves to upgrade to Windows Longhorn.

I made it back from the PDC yesterday after staying on for a few days in LA. Just got to get over the jet lag again now - currently have little clue what day it is let alone which time zone I'm in.

While I was in the queue for check in at LAX, I was chatting to the person ahead of me in the line. When I mentioned the new file system and told how it was sort of a combination of a database and a file store I got kind of a blank look (understandably). When I explained that it meant you could tag your files with different information like the project it was for and the author of the document and then explore your files in different ways depending how you wanted to his eyes lit up. "We always have that problem", he said. "We never know what folder hierarchy to use, whether to use project name or client name or whatever."

You know what? I think this thing might catch on.