Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You orphaned your data connection, stupid!

Once again, today, I found myself beating my head against the wall trying to figure out why my InfoPath 2007 form, which worked perfectly in Forms Services just yesterday is suddenly blowing up and leaving little intelligible information in the SharePoint logs to hint at the nature of the problem.

When I try to edit my form, I get the delightfully informative message, "The form has been closed." No warning, no hints. :-(

So, I think through what I actually changed, and realize that I have orphaned a data connection that was used to seed a form drop-down. Doh! That is the culprit! The Forms Services gods do not like it when you orphan a data connection associated with your form. Remove the data connection, and suddenly things start behaving nicely again.

Feature request for WSS 4.0/MOSS 2010: Please include a log entry called "You orphaned your data connection, stupid!" so I can more quickly realize the cause of such problems in the future.

AT&T announces the largest U.S. corporate commitment to Clean Natural Gas vehicles to date!

More exciting news from the AT&T- News Room...

The company has announced a huge investment in fleet vehicles running on alternative fuel. In fact, the largest investment in CNG vehicles of ANY U.S. corporation.

Posted using ShareThis

Disclosure: I am an employee of AT&T

AT&T announces it will add (yes, ADD!) 3,000 jobs in 2009 and invest heavily in wireless and wired broadband infrastructure!

I am pleased to note that in this release from the AT&T- News Room, the company will be adding some 3,000 jobs over the course of 2009, and will be investing heavily in the U.S. economy to make major wireless and wired broadband infrastructure improvements.

It will be great to see other big players making similar investments to spur the economy along!

Posted using ShareThis

Disclosure: I am an employee of AT&T

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

InfoPath form template won't finish uploading through Central Admin

If you are using MOSS 2007 and InfoPath 2007 and you are using the Central Admin Manage Form Template page to upload a new version of a form, and your form template never finishes uploading, the spadmin or sptimer job is probably stopped.

Go to the command line on your server and fire the following commands.

net start spadmin
net start sptimerv3
stsadm -o execadmsvcjobs

This should execute the necessary jobs.

Go back to Manage Form Templates in CA, and look for a new status.

This post originally appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Feedback welcome!

Jeff is planning to attend SharePoint Saturday DC on May 2 -- will I see you there?

I am planning to attend the next SharePoint Saturday in Washington, D.C. on May 2, and I hope to see you there.

For more info: http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/dc/default.aspx

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Jeff Becraft Quoted In Today's Issue of The Rainmaker Report

Mary Flaherty quoted me in her article, "Getting Business Value from the New Worlds of Social Networking: First-Hand Tales of Entering the Twittersphere, Blogosphere & More" today in The Rainmaker Report, The Premier Site for Marketing & Sales for Professional Services.

The article focuses on how to generate real business value out of the leading social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, including lead generation in particular.

Mary seems to have found consensus among myself and the others that she interviewed that the value derived from such services is relatively proportional to how much effort is invested in using the tools.

She makes a strong case for professional services organizations to leverage the social media in order to extend their brands into new markets and to reach customers they may not be able to reach with face-to-face contact initially.

While not promoting social media as a replacement for face-to-face networking, Mary does conclude that it is a smart move for professional service organizations to leverage these tools as a complement to their face-to-face efforts.

I hope you enjoy Mary's article.

This post originally appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Your feedback is welcome!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Implementing SharePoint? Have you developed your Strategic Plan first?

In discussing the shortage of tools and guidance on SharePoint development, a situation that remains a challenge for developers looking to develop custom applications for Microsoft's increasingly popular collaboration and portal software, the recent article in Visual Studio magazine makes a compelling case for developing a strategic plan for rolling out your SharePoint solution whether this is your initial implementation, or a follow-on phase.

"Even as general IT and development budgets turn south," Michael Desmond says in his article, "industry watchers say the amount of activity around SharePoint applications and features continue to rise... Organizations are looking to leverage [their] investments [in SharePoint] by adding custom functionality and applications to their SharePoint infrastructure."

As many organizations have learned the hard way, installing SharePoint and having a .NET developer or two on staff does not guarantee you an effective SharePoint implementation that transforms your business.

Desmond goes on to say that "SharePoint projects tend to be client-facing, involving frequent and intense interaction with business stakeholders. There's a good deal of expectation setting that must be addressed, in part because these users are often familiar enough with SharePoint to expect quick results."

Before you begin your SharePoint implementation or major follow-on phase, a wise course of action is to enlist the aid of a seasoned consultant or consulting team with well-rounded knowledge of SharePoint's many nuances. In this way, you'll be able to strategically plan your effort to ensure that your goals are met, and that the project is a tightly run, cost-effective endeavor, rather than an endless pilot project or runaway development nightmare.

Quoting Anne Thomas Manes, VP and Research Director at Burton Group, Desmond notes that "SharePoint presupposes a bunch of design patterns and you kind of have to build your application around those design patterns. And if you want your own design pattern, it's probably not worth the time and effort. Don't attempt to force fit other design patterns into it, because it will just be a very frustrating experience." Desmond goes on to quote Spencer Harbar, a U.K.-based independent SharePoint developer as saying, "Easily the most common mistake is not having a core understanding of the product architecture and therefore choosing the wrong approach to meet specific business requirements. SharePoint is such a huge platform that it's incredibly easy to start implementing custom code for a task that SharePoint [already] does."

By developing a sound strategic plan with a qualified consulting team, you'll be able to maximize the built in or "out of the box" features that SharePoint offers, thereby reducing custom development costs that may not even be necessary, and ensuring that future upgrades are simplified, because your solution will stick to the best practices espoused by Microsoft and the partner community.

Many great companies are now offering such planning workshops. If you're looking to roll out SharePoint in your organization, you would do well to avail yourselves of such a service. Your IT budget will thank you later.

This post originally appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. You comments and feedback are welcome!

[Updated 3/18, removed reference to specific company's workshop]

U2's Twelfth Is A "Rose"


The 12th studio album and first in half a decade from Rock and Roll Hall of Famers U2 blasts off quickly with Larry Mullen’s drums crackling under a sonic landscape that is quintessentially both U2 and Eno/Lanois, the album’s by now legendary producing team. Indeed, Eno and Lanois are actually credited along with the band with the music on more than half of the new disc’s tracks. Longtime collaborator Steve Lillywhite is also credited as a producer, which perhaps accounts for the album’s ability to, depending on the track you’re listening to, remind you of the band’s early records or the recent masterpieces they released earlier this decade.

“No Line On The Horizon” is both the album title and the name of the first track. The number fits nicely into the tradition of classic U2 album openers such as “Where The Streets Have No Name,” and “Zoo Station,” boasts elegant, concise and memorable lyrics from Bono, and most importantly, gets the album started off with a rocking beat reminiscent of “Achtung Baby”-era music from the Irish rock gods.

Following a fairly set pattern for recent U2 albums, things slow down a bit, but just a bit, for the second track, “Magnificent,” a studio creation that veers a bit toward the electronica of “Zooropa” and “Pop,” stopping short of the excesses of a number of tracks on those albums, while featuring the unobtrusive gospel lyrics Bono has artfully woven into so many previous tunes. “The Moment of Surrender” is another in this vein. One can imagine that "Moment" is Eno’s favorite track on the album, he being unabashedly interested in crafting the perfect post-modern gospel sound.

“Unknown Caller” begins with a simple guitar part that would fit in perfectly with the band’s sound on “All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” and features Bono trying to communicate despite a bad connection and making amusing poetry out of what sounds like the troubleshooting manual for your iPhone (or is that a metaphor for your heart?).

“I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” finishes out the hypnotic first “side” of the album, with keyboard assistance from Black Eyed Pea Will.i.am among others, including Bono himself. Again, Bono’s lyrics here are among his finest, and that is really saying something.

But in case you have been lulled into thinking by this point that this is not a Rock record, the trio of tracks beginning with the first single “Get On Your Boots” takes things to a higher, harder level, in which Bono demands again and again “let me in the sound” and features some of Larry Mullen’s fastest drumming in memory, the percussion supplemented on the record by Sam O’Sullivan.

“Boots” gives way to the rock radio-friendly “Stand Up Comedy” which features another of the Edge’s so-called “eternal” riffs, one that feels both fresh and new, and yet as if it’s been there all along, just waiting to be played.

“Fez-Being Born,” is a curiosity that is described as two distinct creations in the liner notes, perhaps hinting that the track is a mash-up of two half-finished songs. It somehow works, even featuring an echo of the “let me in the sound” refrain over an insistent beat and a wailing, echoing Bono.

Winding down the last quarter of the album are the soft and sublime “White As Snow” which is a little island of a song that stands on its own quite nicely, and would have fit comfortably onto “Joshua Tree” or “Rattle and Hum.” Following that, “Breathe” is a great example of latter day U2, following the trajectory of the songs on “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” and “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb” and featuring some fine guitar from the Edge.

Closing out the set is “Cedars of Lebanon” featuring soft-spoken lyrics over mellow, haunting music, and some memorable lyrical passages, including the one that sums up the album best: “This shitty world sometimes produces a rose.”

This review is copyright 2009 by Jeff Becraft, and first appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Your feedback is welcome.

Emerging Trends in State and Local IT Spending

As you’ve seen for yourself if you’ve been reading some of the links I’ve posted recently, Washington Technology has been doing a great job of covering the stimulus package and the corresponding rise in State and Local spending patterns for IT.

Today, they published two articles, one, a Who’s Who in the State and Local Market, and the other, a color commentary companion piece by William Welsh, which emphasizes some key points about where the opportunities may be in this exploding market:

1) “Sharp rise in demand for call center services.”
With reduced resources and more people in need of services from their government, call center volumes are through the roof.

2) “Incumbents are likely to be in the best position for the added work.”
So you're not an incumbent? Partner! Partner! Partner! Subcontract to a Prime! Prime a contract with a major as your sub!

3) “Strong push for shared services in several states.”
This open the door to lots of interesting possibilities.

4) “Statewide agencies putting aside turf battles during such economic times and being more supportive of statewide IT consolidation efforts.”
Outsourced hosting anyone? Portals? SOA? BI?

5) “Environment… is ripe for the real cost-effective solutions that IT can provide”
Elimination of redundant systems.

6) “States want to get [unnecessary] costs out of their infrastructure.”
State CIOs can use their budgets more efficiently by consolidating key aspects of agencies' IT portfolios.

7) “Any large-scale physical infrastructure modernization that would take place as a result of the stimulus is likely to have a technology component attached to it.”
Systems that enhance and facilitate the efficient flow of "shovel-ready" projects will be winners in this area.

8) “State and local governments will require assistance tracking stimulus funding expenditures and outcomes as part of the Obama administration’s push for greater transparency in government."
Compliance, auditing, data warehousing, and BI all have a play here.


This post first appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Your feedback is welcome.