Last July, when Julia White posted her blog post on the Office blog, Microsoft’s unified technology event for enterprises, she broke a few hearts. If you didn’t read it, or have blocked it out, allow me to sum it up. She announced that all the big Microsoft Enterprise tech conferences, TechEd, SharePoint Conference, Project Conference, Exchange Conference, Lync Conference, and Todd’s SharePointorama (okay, I made that last one up) were being combined into one, big, huge conference in Chicago May 4-8, 2015. Those other conferences have sung their swan songs. As someone that has been a speaker at three of those shows (not counting Todd’s SharePointorama) I was a little concerned. Not quite ready to hang up my Microsoft slippers, but I was concerned.
Over the last nine years I’ve been very fortunate to be involved with many Microsoft conferences as a speaker. It’s been a great opportunity and has opened a lot of doors and I’ve met a bunch of great people. I’m kind of a nerd, and with as many conferences as I’ve been involved with (Microsoft and others) I’ve always wondered how the sausage was made. How did the organizer choose the venue? The rooms? How are they able to make sure every little morsel of flavor is cooked out of the chicken they serve for lunch? Does that cost extra? I’ve buddied up with some of the organizers and gotten some of those answers (it doesn’t cost extra) but I was still curious.
A month or so ago a unique opportunity was dropped into my lap. Last year Microsoft started a Roundtable discussion about TechEd. They invited a few folks from different product disciplines, different areas of interest, and different communities to provide Microsoft input on TechEd. They were doing the same thing for the Big Microsoft Conference and they invited me join them. Woo Hoo!
Last Monday and Tuesday I was in Chicago with 17 or so of my closest nerd friends, and another 20 or so Microsoft folks. Our mission was to tour the location of the Big Microsoft Conference, McCormick Place, and let Microsoft know what our opinion on was on a bunch of issues. It was a great time. First, a few pictures. Here is a quick shot I took of the main entrance along with some of my fellow Roundtablers:
The size of this place is immense. The exhibit halls alone are 2.6 million square feet, with one over 800k square feet.
This is the South exhibit hall. Not only is it large enough for all the IT Vendors, and the pallets and pallets of free t-shirts and 2 GB USB drives they’ll be giving away, if you look closely you’ll see it has an island in the middle. This island has some meeting space, some possible food vending spots, and most importantly, bathrooms! My biggest problem with large exhibit halls is that the potties are only on the outside walls, and sometimes those walls are a very long ways away. My bladder does not approve of that.
Here’s one of the smaller exhibit halls with a plumbers convention going on. I’m not sure why, but that cracks me up.
The views from the Lakeside Center were beautiful. The organizers haven’t decided yet where stuff will go, but I hope I get some sessions over there.
I talked to the McCormick IT guys and they assured me we’d have more than enough bandwidth to get out to the cloud for our demos and still be able to satisfy our constant cravings for cat videos. It’s a tall order, but they are confident they are up to it.
For the rest of the first day, and the second day we talked about The Big Conference itself. How the sessions will be decided on, keynotes, entertainment, etc. I let them know I was available for the keynote. We’ll see what happens. I was initially concerned about how Microsoft was going to bring all of these conferences together without killing the things that made them great. The Big Conference will probably have 20,000 people as opposed to the 10k or so at TechEd or the SharePoint Conference. It’s tough to manage that many people, especially such tight groups. And where will they all stay? How will they all get there and back? Will there be enough ice cream at break time?? After hearing what the Microsoft organizers had to say, I think they’ve got a good handle on it.
It was very clear that they know the networking and community aspects of these tech conferences are very, very important. We tech nerds aren’t always the most socially outgoing and they don’t want to lose the ability for people to find each other, or for people that already know each other to stay together. They also know that with the increase in the number of sessions and attendees they’re going to have to make sure things are discoverable. I suggested using <blink> tags for all of my sessions. I’m not sure anyone wrote that idea down.
It feels like the organizers of the Big Microsoft Conference have thought this through really well. They spent a lot of time letting us talk and really listening to what we had to say. TechEd and the SharePoint Conference were very important to me, and I’ll miss them both dearly. But I feel like their legacies are in good hands. I’m looking forward to the Big Microsoft Conference in May. I’ll post more about the conference here as more details emerge.
It’s hard to believe, but we’re only a few days away from SPTechCon in Boston. As I’m making my lists and checking them twice I thought I’d put all of my events in one convenient location. That way folks that are attending SPTechCon will more easily be able to avoid me.
Monday, September 15th
Live Netcast Recording – 9:00 PM-ish Location: It’s currently a secret
Shane and I will be doing a live recording and stream of my SharePoint netcast. If you’ve ever wanted to heckle in person, here’s your big chance. You’ll have to bring your own tomatoes, we will not be providing them.
Tuesday, September 16th
Upgrading from SharePoint 2010 to 2013 – 9:00am – 12:15pm
Everyone is doing it, so what are you waiting for? The best answer would be that you are waiting to learn all of the fun that goes into an upgrade. Well, if that is the case, then wait no longer. Come to this class to learn about all things upgrade. Topics to be covered are the options you have to upgrade, planning for the process, and looking at the tools Microsoft includes with SharePoint to help along the way.
The good news is this time around there is only one upgrade option to show you for getting the database upgraded, but when it comes to upgrading the UI, it is a brave new world. Visual upgrade is gone and now you have 2010 versus 2013 site collections running in the same 2013 farm. And the transition from a 2010 site collection is now self-service for the site collection administrator--crazy! Come hang out with us as we explore this together.
Office 365 vs. On-Premise Panel – 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Andrew Connell is hosting a panel with some of the brightest minds in the SharePoint world to discuss what the future of SharePoint in the cloud and on-premises is. They decided it would be fun to invite me to have someone to make fun of. Join us and let us know what you think, of both SharePoint and them making fun of me.
Wednesday, September 17th
Introduction to Windows PowerShell for SharePoint Administrators – 11:00am – 12:15pm
Do you plan on working on Microsoft products for the next five years? Do you only know enough about PowerShell to spell it correctly? If you answered yes, then this is the class for you. PowerShell is the present and future tool that is the cornerstone of administering Microsoft products like SharePoint, and if you don't know it, then you are working too hard. Come to this class to learn the key fundamentals of PowerShell, and how to use those skills to solve every problem you have ever had. That's right! If you have a flat tire, PowerShell can even fix that.
SharePoint 2013 Administrator Skills – 3:45pm – 5:00pm
In this class, we will go over the different admin topics that are new for 2013. Some experience with 2010 is assumed, so the class can focus on topics new to 2013. Some of the high points will be an overview of how Office Web Apps have changed your farm topology; the move to loving Claims authentication; and why all the talk about host name site collections. For certain, PowerShell will sneak in not because it is new, but because it is that important.
Lightning Talks – 5:15pm – 6:30pm
Watch vendors try to hawk their wares without it looking like they’re trying to hawk their wares. Also see Shane and I try to be funny, even though we’re not.
I’ll also just be wandering the halls chatting with folks. If you see me, be sure to come up and introduce yourself and say “Hi!” and maybe take a minute or two to explain why you like me better than Shane. Rackspace will also have a booth, so I’ll be hanging out there, too.
See you next week.
It’s been a busy summer and I’m just getting around to installing the PowerShell v5 Preview. And it’s a good one. It’s officially called the “Windows Management Framework 5.0 Preview September 2014” but it’s all PowerShell. It will install on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1, both 32 and 64 bit varieties. This is a Preview, a beta, so don’t install it on a Production machine. Don’t test in Production. But if you have a test machine, go ahead and install this and take it for a spin. You’ll be glad you did.
There are a ton of great new features in PowerShell v5. Several blog posts worth. Too many for me to list here, though they are all listed in the 59 page Word doc that comes with the download. I will, however, tease you with two of my favorites.
Transcript works in the Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) Huzzah!
This has been my main disappointment in PowerShell for a couple of versions. I teach PowerShell classes and write blog posts on PowerShell, and am generally a PowerShell doodler. The Transcript is invaluable in all of those situations. And while the first generation of the ISE was nothing to write home about, it’s gotten pretty impressive lately. I’ve wanted to take advantage of it, but it didn’t work with the Transcript. <sad panda> In the past I’ve had to choose between my old, faithful functionality, the Transcript, and the new hotness, the ISE. Conflicts aplenty. Well, no more.
The ISE now supports the Transcript. No more choosing. I get my cake and I get to eat it!
Now I have no more excuses, the ISE will be my PowerShell interface of choice.
PowerShell natively zips and unzips files
This is another one of those, “What do you mean PowerShell doesn’t…” situations I keep having with PowerShell. It seemed amazing to me that there wasn’t easy native support for zipping and unzipping files in PowerShell. I’ve spent hours looking for it. Now in v5 it’s finally here. Two new cmdlets, Compress-Archive and Expand-Archive handle the zipping and unzipping respectively. As of the writing of this article, there aren’t any –examples in the help documentation, but I expect after a few Update-Help executions some will show up. Here’s an example to get you started:
Compress-Archive power*.txt -DestinationPath .\gold.zip -CompressionLevel Optimal
Running that in the folder that has all your PowerShell Transcript files into a single file, gold.zip. To keep it updated, run the same command with the optional –Update parameter.
There you go, two excellent reasons to install the PowerShell v5 Preview on your favorite test box.
This was written in August of 2014. As technology marches forward, the prices and features of the products mentioned have probably gotten cheaper, bigger, faster, stronger, and better smelling. If you’re from the future and reading this, keep that in mind.
Last week Dropbox announced they were upgrading their $100 a year ($9 a month) Pro plan from 100 GB of storage to a massive 1 TB. (insert picture of Dr. Evil with his pinky to his mouth here). Because of that announcement Dropbox has been all over the tech news. In Windows Weekly #377 my friend Paul Thurrott comments that $99 a year is as much as a license for Office 365 Home, which gives you email, Office Web Apps, and 1 TB of OneDrive For Business (ODFB) for 5 people (5 TB total) . He wondered why anyone would pay the same amount for just storage, and 1/5 of the storage at that. I hope to provide a satisfactory answer to that question with this blog post.
I’ve been paying for Dropbox Pro for a couple of years and it’s worth every penny to me. This is the case even though I get a free Office 365 subscription because I’m an MVP. While I do use a bunch of the functionality of OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, there are a few things that Dropbox does so much better that it’s worth giving up a couple of of venti hot chocolates a month at Starbuck’s to pay for Dropbox Pro. Here is my list of why I pay for Dropbox Pro even though I get OneDrive and Office 365 for free.
File size limitation of 2 GB in OneDrive (250 MB in ODFB) , Infinity +1 in Dropbox
I store a lot of different types of files in Dropbox. Like most folks I store pictures up there and a few documents. But I also store all the videos from my Netcast there. I store a bunch of commonly used software installations up there as well. I have the database backups from my blog syncing to a machine at home through Dropbox. I’ve even been known to store a virtual machine or two in Dropbox. Using the desktop sync client, any file I copy into a Dropbox folder will show up on all the other machines syncing that same folder. When I first tried to move over to OneDrive that didn’t work. OneDrive has a hard file size limit of 2 GB. ODFB has a similar limit of 2 GB. Dropbox’s limit is infinity. If you have space in your Dropbox quota, the file will sync. 2 GB might be more than enough for most people, but I regularly deal with larger files so it’s a big deal for me.
Shared folders in OneDrive or ODFB don’t sync to the file system. Dropbox is happy to
Despite the fact that I’m an only child, I share pretty well, regardless of what my wife might say. With OneDrive or ODFB if I share a folder with someone it does not sync to their local hard drives, even if they have the desktop sync clients installed. Even if they ask nicely. That means if I share a folder with someone they have to go to OneDrive (or ODFB) with a browser, or the Metro OneDrive app to download the files I’ve shared with them. For some situations, this might not be a big deal, but it’s come up a few times for me. For instance, I have a shared Dropbox folder with my parents where I copy pictures of my cats and any of my artwork that’s refrigerator worthy. My parents have that same folder set up as a location for a slideshow screensaver. So as I proudly drop pictures into that folder on my computer, they magically sync to my mom’s hard drive and show up in her screensaver. She doesn’t have to remember to check for them, they’re just there.
Files don’t just have a URL in OneDrive or ODFB, you have to download them from a web page
If I share an individual file with someone in OneDrive, the link I send them takes them to a web page that hosts the file. It doesn’t take them to the actual file itself. Again, it’s not a huge deal, but it’s more work that they have to go through than if I share the same file the same way with Dropbox. If I send someone a link to a Word doc shared from Dropbox, the URL goes to that exact file. They could download it with PowerShell if they wanted to. With OneDrive and ODFB it’s a whole big affair.
OneDrive For Business alters Office files, Dropbox keeps its dirty mitts off of them
It recently came out that files stored in ODFB are actually altered when they’re uploaded. On the backend, ODFB is a SharePoint document library. When an Office document is uploaded to SharePoint it puts a unique tag in it so it can keep it straight from other copies of that file, or other versions of it. I understand why they do it, but it doesn’t seem necessary for non work files. Dropbox doesn’t change the files. I like that better.
While a few of these issues are pretty small potatoes, a couple of them (file size and local syncing) are show stoppers for me. As one as OneDrive or ODFB doesn’t support them, I’ll continue to happily pay for Dropbox.
It was a sad day when the original MSDN ULS Viewer was discontinued. There was much weeping at the Klindt household when the news broke. Fortunately I found a backup copy. I put it on a USB stick and buried it in my backyard for safe keeping, next to the coffee can with my Honus Wagner baseball card in it. I also put a copy in The Cloud, whatever that is. There was still an open spot in my heart though.
Then today I was putzing around the Internet, looking for some cat videos and discount pharmaceuticals when I saw one of the happiest headlines I’ve ever seen on the Internet, “ULS Viewing Like a Boss (ULS Viewer is now available)”
First, I was in denial. I wouldn’t let myself believe it. I was worried it was an old blog post bubbling up some how. Then I was worried that maybe it was just a mean joke from Bill. He’s like that, you know. But I clicked it, then I clicked the Download Link, then I downloaded it, and it actually worked! Hallelujah!
So run, don’t walk, to your nearest web browser and go Bill Baer’s blog post and download the new and improved ULS Viewer. It has some bug fixes and it has some new features, like some fancy command line parameters, and easier support for monitoring multiple servers. All the while maintaining the same charm and panache as the original version.
This time around the ULS Viewer looks a little more legit, so hopefully we don’t have to worry about it disappearing in the middle of the night like a deadbeat relative that owes you money, like it did last time. If you’re smart though, you’ll bury it in your backyard like I did.
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