Forward, positively..

August 19, 2010

Not so Much a Tiger in the Tank….

Filed under: Rants and Opinions, Work — Tags: , , , — thebestbrew @ 12:07 pm

As a ghost (or at least a bug) in the machine and a word in your Shell-like…

Stopping for petrol at a station with the (near ubiquitous) pay at the pumps (and save us from employing people) machines – imagine my surprise!

It’s always amusing to see the places where a software fail appears – well here’s mine. I just couldn’t find how to get a mouse movement to click “Send Error Report” to point the finger at the GUIFrameworkLoader of shame 🙂

Not so good, Shell



February 19, 2010

LearningPoint CourseViewer(tm)…

Filed under: sharepoint 2010, Work — Tags: , , , — thebestbrew @ 4:22 pm

The excellent technical Sharepoint/Silverlight house that is Point8020 has released a free version of it’s new course delivery vehicle as CourseViewer(tm). You can download it with the how-to from their site here (in exchange for some minor registration details). The CourseViewer(tm) can be inserted into a website or into a Sharepoint 2010 Silverlight webpart.

CAVEAT – this is not a ‘system’, it’s a content viewer – so on one hand, don’t expect song, dance, bells, whistles and the tea made to boot – but on the other hand, it’s how you use it that will let you get some good use out of it.

The snip below shows the CourseViewer(tm) – it’s some Silverlight code which consumes an XML file which describes your course. The top panel displays a list of modules (defined in the XML) within your course – these module graphics slide right/left as you scroll through them and the module content list (lower left) refreshes with thumbnails of the content items. You can switch from a thumbnail view to a list view of the content. Click on a content item and it will either launch in the panel on the lower right (if it’s a WMV) or in a separate app window (depending on the content type). You can stick in a simple self-test at module level. So far, so Simples and all defined in XML.

For me the trick comes with thoughtful use of course collateral. For instance you can produce a voiced-over Powerpoint and generate a WMV – make it high resolution and you can expand the player to full screen for a good experience – all within the viewer. Put it on your corporate portal with a list of internal or external resources – web pages, PDFs, SWFs – use the modules to layer your content within the restrictions of the viewer – using modules for summarisation, testing and recap and you’ve got yourself a very useful and reasonably attractive micro-learning tool.

You could see this and think that it’s not that greatly useful but if you put your mind to it, you can work-up something interesting, a bit different and with a taste of (Sharepoint) things to come.


February 5, 2010

Not Drowning but Waving…

Filed under: Office 2010, sharepoint 2010, windows 7, Work — Tags: , , — thebestbrew @ 2:05 pm

With the recent release of the 2010 Information Worker VM the grand old Virtual PC needs to be superseded (for me) by the colossus of virtualisation that is Hyper-V. I run a (fairly quick) laptop with the elegant Windows 7 and the ever-boisterous Office 2010 beta (including Project and Visio). What would be my route ahead? Naturally it would be Windows Server 2008 R2 X64 [Rim-shot sound and supportive polite applause from other Villagers].

After an abortive attempt to setup a ‘boot from VHD’ configuration (my fail – it clearly works fine for others) I decided that introducing a well-behaved neighbour of an operating system to share some silicon in an old fashioned dual-boot setup  would fall into the ‘suits you sir’ category. After a brief Google, this seemed to be 1. Possible 2. Do-able 3. and most importantly, do-able by me. But How? Could it be as simple as run Setup.exe and DON’T USE C:/WINDOWS?

Fortunately, my laptop has a small partition which I can hijack for the purpose (but I can’t tell you what it is ‘cause you’ll laugh). The question was how much space would be required – baby lemur or sasquatch footprint – Core is not really an option for me despite the amount of command-let and scripting support on the web – nowadays I need an interface which supports me like a virtual Zimmer-frame.

A blog entry (which I can’t find again) mentioned a 6Gb installation so I decided to crash ahead confident of success!!

The Outcome??

1.2008 R2 Standard edition has nestled snugly into a 6.5Gb corner of my available extra partition. 2. I now have an (automatically generated) dual boot menu offering me a choice of 2 of Microsoft’s best. 3. Said instance of Win 2008 R2 with the Hyper-V role occupies only around 630Mb of RAM and 4. All do-able by me so far.


The next step is to assemble the VM’s from the down-loaded RAR’s and check that they play nice in my modest sandbox.

December 16, 2009

BI Futures…

Filed under: Business Intelligence, Work — Tags: , — thebestbrew @ 12:24 pm

I submitted a short presentation to the Microsoft Architecture Journal on the subject of BI Futures – it was accepted and can be found here.

December 14, 2009

Sharepoint Server 2010 on Windows 7…

Filed under: sharepoint 2010, windows 7, Work — Tags: , , , — thebestbrew @ 2:27 pm

It just worked!!

When looking to build a sandbox for a potential piece of SP 2010 testing, I found a few articles which covered installing SP 2010 on Windows 7. Jolly good but does it work without MCM or MVP levels of knowledge?


Using this article on setting up a developer environment for Sharepoint Server as a starting point and checking the comments for a couple of supplementary blogs, the install was painless and straightforward. Follow the steps and it falls into place – excellent. Well done for such easy advice. Next stop PerformancePoint Services and a Business Intelligence Centre as well as PowerPivot for Excel.

Remember – this is strictly for the geeky sandbox. There is a mammoth iceberg of planning and preparation, configuration, environment, security, husbandry and good governance as well as the solutions, features and applications which need to be considered BEFORE you run setup.exe. As ever, Spence is producing great stuff about SP2010 – checkout his blog, his MCM cadre, see who he is following on the Great Twitter and you’ll find loads of resources.

November 10, 2009

Sharepoint 2010 – Differentiating the Platform…

Filed under: sharepoint 2010, Work — Tags: — thebestbrew @ 11:56 am

Arpan Shah provides a neat little exposition of what differentiates the Sharepoint 2010 platform. Not detailed features, but in broad areas – the top level of the conversation, as it were.

PerformancePoint Services 2010…

Filed under: sharepoint 2010, Work — Tags: , — thebestbrew @ 11:30 am

Over on the Product Team blog, we have a list of the new features to come in PerformancePoint 2010

Nice to see the feature list – now gimme the product!

Waiting impatiently for the Sharepoint 2010 beta……….

October 21, 2009

Because You’ll Need to…

Filed under: sharepoint 2010, Work — Tags: — thebestbrew @ 10:44 am

Sharepoint Server 2010 and associated development tools will run on Windows 7 – yay.

But it’s less easy to install than MOSS2007. So when you need to create a single server complete install using local acounts – here’s a how to from Neil ‘The Doc’ Hodgkinson in the From the Field series

Sharepoint 2010…

Filed under: sharepoint 2010, Work — Tags: , , — thebestbrew @ 10:34 am

The Sharepoint 2010 fire hose has been turned on with the Sharepoint Conference this week in Las Vegas. Huge elephants of information are ready to be eaten – showing up on Microsoft web, MSDN, TEchnet and blogs…

Technet content here

Start with the Sharepoint team blog and spread out from there.

Read Spence’s blog…pick up on people and blogs he links to.

Follow @harbars, @sharepointdev, @MirjamvanOlst and other that they follow

Experience it live here

Register for the public beta coming in November

The biggest app just got bigger – be ready for it.

October 2, 2009

Outlook 2010 Neat Little touch…

Filed under: Office 2010, Work — Tags: — thebestbrew @ 12:45 pm

Outlook 2010 neat little feature. Meeting invite shows your calendar in the body – nice.


Windows 7, Welcome….

Filed under: windows 7, Work — Tags: , — thebestbrew @ 12:26 pm

Although I had put the RC on an old machine at home, I’ve been waiting to get the RTM internally here at Company Net.

It finally happened and I’m now all Win7’d-Up. The upgrade from Vista to Win 7 Enterprise x64 was a painless if slightly slow process. A couple of apps flagged as “might not work properly after the upgrade”. No sweat. Had to a couple of reboots to finalise the process but no problems.

Note for Vista Windows Mobile Device Centre users – it doesn’t work so uninstall it, connect your mobile device and hey presto, the new version downloads, installs and you’re off and running.

Next Steps – BitLocker(maybe) but definitely Office 2010 tech preview (32-bit not 64 as this bit me last time I tried it). Then, get setup to boot from a VHD as an option to my hard disk – details from James O’Neill’s Blog.

September 3, 2009

Imagine my Delight…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions, Work — Tags: , — thebestbrew @ 2:59 pm

With access to the Office 2010 Technical Preview (O2010TP, or maybe O2kXTP/OMMXTP), running 64 bit Vista and this statement from Microsoft

“Office 2010 is available in a 64-bit edition for 64-bit Windows operating systems.  With Office 2010 64-bit edition, advanced users will be able to leverage the increased memory capabilities of 64-bit computing and harness this capability for analysis and manipulation of very large data sets and documents. “

Wow, at last, 64 bit Office – the chance to try a great Office productivity suite in all its 64 bit glory. Tremendous!

Download…….wait……for a wee while…….done. Disclaimers – OK, backup…..patience…..done.

Install……wait…..”Sorry, you need uninstall your 32 bit Office”. WT?

Seemingly gone are the days of versions of Office sitting side-by-side, letting you compare, giving you the comfort of compatibility with your main office app – seeing how things looked and worked in different versions.

Oh No, Frank, not this time. OMMX is an upgrade. Clearly it shares components with O2007 so needs to upgrade a bit-like version and wouldn’t like, at all, to have to share an outlook.ost file with a 32-bit app.

For my sins, I bit, jumped in the deep end, committed myself, took the giant leap for dumb-kind. I was seduced and entranced by the prospect of having a bright, shiny new thing which could offer me untold excitement, head-spinning new features – and which could blow my mind with its higher, faster, stronger functionality. Was this a prudent move, the action of a cautious, intelligent, experienced, seasoned, nay – (would some say) even cynical – IT pro? CLEARLY NOT.

Did it make some sense? Well of course it did. I had a backup, I wanted to look at what new stuff was on offer. So the 64 bit was the first route to try. We are a Microsoft Gold Partner with the Information Worker competency so we have to give this a spin.

It didn’t last 24 hours – small problems which gave me big issues meant I had no option but to reverse out OMMX and re-install O2007 having sent OMMX support several ‘frowns’ in the few frustrating working hours we had together. So a more prudent route beckons – go with the 32-bit version, try that, trust that it won’t have the niggles of its bit-wise bigger sibling and then spread some GOOD WORD on the delights which, I am sure, lie within.

Office2010 TP 32-bit…..Download…..wait….

July 10, 2009

eLearning and an Industry Spectrum…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions, Work — Tags: — thebestbrew @ 1:32 pm

I’ve just read (on paper) an article on e-learning and the motor industry by Mark Rewhorn. This featured in Prime, a print version of Microsoft’s manufacturing magazine.

Summary – lightweight piece, not giving any decent insight into e-Learning, certainly not realising/appreciating/understanding the breadth and depth of e-Learning which has been successfully going on for years in other sectors and showing the auto sector firmly following rather than leading in e-Learning.

Given that the basic automotive product hasn’t changed much in a hundred years and that GM and Chrysler are the two largest US bankruptcies to date in 2009, it is probably unfair to expect that (other than in making cars) the industry will be at the forefront of the majority of technologies.

However, it does a great dis-service to other economic sectors for Mark to not acknowledge that automotive is very much playing catch-up in e-Learning. From my own experience in Company Net, we have for around 6 years been providing the platform, content management and support of one of the largest e-Learning programmes in the country, if not in Europe, in the form of the NHS in Scotland’s Cleanliness Champions programme. This program is oriented at combating Healthcare Associated Infections(HAI) and the online version of the program has seen thousands of clinical staff in the NHS consume an extensive volume of course content in addition to undertaking work-place based activities. The system now supports over a dozen individual courses and programmes targeted at HAI prevention.

Blended learning is not the future, as Mark Rewhorn reports, it is here, in progress, happening now and delivering real learning and development.

Several factors such as:

  • the rapid growth of corporate intranets (the natural home for online-learning),
  • the need for ever-greater levels of evidenced compliance training
  • the need for more effective (and efficient) staff training
  • the crucial need for the enterprise to have a more flexible, agile workforce

are driving more and more e-learning across all sectors and sizes of enterprise. Car makers – welcome to the world of e-Learning.

June 4, 2009

In Defence of Eye Candy…

Filed under: Work — Tags: , — thebestbrew @ 1:53 pm

This is a very brief and well-presented article called ‘In Defence of Eye Candy’ about the importance of aesthetics – especially with reference to visual interfaces.

Very accessible and well put, well worth a read.

May 22, 2009

Sharepoint SP2- Important Information…

Filed under: Work — Tags: — thebestbrew @ 7:38 am

…on the Sharepoint Team Blog.

If you have deployed SP2, you must read this….

May 20, 2009

Win7 Fun and Games, BCD and VHDs….

Filed under: Work — Tags: , — thebestbrew @ 3:42 pm

Hands-up, this is a depth of working on Win7 and 2008 R2 which I do not expect to explore. However, I can appreciate how useful this post from James O’Neill is, so I thought it worth linking here.

Booting from VHD (and some gotcha’s) will be a useful feature for all sorts of reasons. If you read that post and think “Oooh, that sound like a bit of a wheeze, I could try that” then YOYO and perhaps you should probably wait for his explanatory video?

May 17, 2009

New Friend/Old Tosh….

Filed under: windows 7, Work — Tags: , , — thebestbrew @ 9:23 pm

….interesting. Everything is going swimmingly. Oddly, despite being defined in the power plan, the machine will not hibernate when the lid is closed, nor will it power-up when the lid is opened. I’m guessing it’s maybe just a compatibility thing….duh!

Only browsing on the machine so far but with OS, Firefox, and Live Writer running, task manager reports only 444Mb of RAM used (60%) and the cpu is really low – much as you would expect. (Interestingly, IE8 consumes less RAM than FFX.)

Until you hit a site using Flash or Silverlight. Again, not unexpected – cpu usage leaps. Watching a movie from the MSFT BI site comfortably pegs the cpu at 100% (I had hoped for better) – but only when the movie is visible, whether or not the browser window is active. This lends itself to a little fun, gradually covering up the movie with the task manager window and watch the cpu usage reduce (slightly) – that’s how dull the TV is right now.

It’s definitely smarter with power consumption on battery. I’m suffering from a lack of scientific rigour (no pre-Win7 benchmarks) but I know the battery is lasting longer – very good for an old stalwart like this.

May 15, 2009

On Distraction and Focus…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions, Social Media Commentary, Work — thebestbrew @ 10:09 pm

I posted the following as a comment to this blog post by Colin Gilchrist on Creativity, Food and Distractions. I thought it was worth posting here. An extract from his post is…

“….No distractions were an interesting one for me because it’s a real challenge – I am permanently submersed in media from all angles – but hey it’s opened up a whole new world. This is where Westwood and Cleese come in. They advocate the no distraction; sit in peace, sleep on it, and way of living.
John Cleese talks eloquently about Creativity and his time in the Cambridge Footlights making him realise that loosing an entire script, rewriting it the next day – only to discover the original and compare – the second was far superior to first – he’d let it gestate in his mind and form a more rounded story.
Vivienne Westwood famously does not allow music in her studio and does not own a TV she finds that all this constant bombarding of media in every day life is holding back the human disposition for Creativity.
What do you think?…”

My response is – It’s less that they HAVE something but rather that others have lost that thing. It is ability and aptitude to find calmness and focus.

We, especially those involved in new-ish media, so constantly immerse ourselves in and are bombarded-by multiple message streams that we develop a bumble-bee attention span. We dip into and out of content, picking attention-grabbing goodies and moving on.

Even finding a small oasis of calm in a day can be immensely beneficial – not just for the refreshed feeling which immediately follows but also for the enhanced and freed thinking which you subsequently can be capable of.

Only 20 minutes of enhanced relaxation in the middle of the day can yield great benefits for you – and for your employer.

May 14, 2009

Welcome, New Friend…

Filed under: Work — Tags: , , , — thebestbrew @ 10:13 pm

Well, I just upgraded an old Toshiba Satellite A30 to Windows 7 RC. Very painless, straightforward – just what you would expect from Microsoft nowadays.

Several blogs have alluded to the comprehensive support for devices so I had high expectations and was very relaxed in approaching the install. Maybe too relaxed.

All went well and bingo – there was new-Windows. Except that I had no connectivity. Hhrumph…..of course – I had done the install while connected wirelessly – with an old Belkin 54g PCMCIA Notebook wireless card. Had I really expected New-Windows to notice this and to have the insight and preparedness to have the required drivers? Well yes, I had, but not consciously – I just hadn’t thought about it.

Feeling rather foolish, I did dig out the original disk, installed the required magic and hey-tesco, there was the network.

New-windows had also not picked the audio (RealTech AC97 – no default was used or offered) or the video (Intel(R) 82852/82855 GM/GME Graphics Controller – some MSFT default was clearly working OK).

So – looking forward to enjoying the new experience – see what’s in the tin, under the hood. I hope there’s something interesting.

May 12, 2009

Sharepoint 2010 – Be Ready….

Filed under: Work — Tags: , , — thebestbrew @ 8:16 am

…and a timely reminder to keep up the best practices.

Sharepoint 2010 preliminary system requirements on the Sharepoint team blog.

But remember the MOSS 2007 Best Practices – play nice and be a good citizen.

Ooh… and don’t forget, official IE6 support stops next year.

Older Posts »

Blog at