When software attacks!

Thoughts and musings on anything that comes to mind

Speaking at VBUG Newcastle in July

Andy Westgarth and the guys at VBUG Newcastle very kindly invited me to speak about and demo some of what I consider to be key features in Windows 7 and Server 2008. If you read the blog and would like to see what I really look like, are interested in the topic of the talk or interested in VBUG in general, come along!

The venue is Newcastle University (a campus I’ve never visited before so I’m quite looking forward to that). For more information Andy has details on the VBUG site. In order to make sure the event doesn’t wither through lack of interest, please register yours on the VBUG site. To copy some of it here, however:

Topic: Key features in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2
Overview:
Key features in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. A look at the new features in Microsoft’s upcoming operating systems that will really make a difference to how we work. The session will a broad overview of new features with demos of the cooler ones to add an element of risk to proceedings. Come along if you want to learn more about technologies such as BranchCache, DirectAccess, Virtual XP Mode and more.

Location: Room 118, Claremont Tower, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 7RU, GB

Price: FREE

Things to do in Seattle: Gameworks

As you probably guess, Richard and myself were in Seattle for a short conference last week. The evening entertainment on one night was a trip to Gameworks. If you like playing video games with your mates, going head-to-head at things like Sega Rally, then you’ll have a good time in Gameworks.

I’m not the worlds greatest gamer, and I tend to struggle when it’s games that don’t use keyboard and mouse. Richard and I seemed to do best at the stand-up shooting games, the first of which was (to a non-hunting Brit) a hilarious hunting game where you had to blast moose with a pump action shotgun and avoid shooting cows.

I’m guessing that it wasn’t a terribly popular game, as my paltry efforts at taking down wildlife got me a high score.

Imagine my surprise then, when the following morning’s pre-session rolling slides said the following:

Gameworks notables. "All Rambo Team", Rik/Black Marble Limted (Extreme Hunting)

Places to eat in Seattle: Etta’s Seafood

On our arrival in Seattle, Richard and I had a great meal in Etta’s Seafood, which is not far along the road from Pike’s Market, heading out with the bay on your left. The food was excellent – fantastic chowder and a burger cooked just to your taste. A warning though – if you’re a wee slip of a lad like I am you may find the portions daunting. It was a friendly, charming place and great welcome to the city.

Places to eat in Seattle: Marcella’s Cookery

Tonight we ate in a place we’d seen recommended by Sara Ford in her blog: Marcella’s Cookery. A fantastic little New Orleans-style eatery run by the eponymous (and very friendly) Marcella and her husband, Anthony. The food was fabulous, well cooked and happily discussed by the chef himself. Between us we tried a number of dishes and all were excellent. Anthony (the chef) told us that he moved to Seattle after Hurricane Katrina and I think it’s Seattle’s gain – we had a great time and I can wholeheartedly recommend the place.

Things to do in Seattle: Baseball

Seattle 2009 008

We had a great night tonight. Our visit to Seattle coincided with three home games for the Mariners, and I went to my first baseball game tonight. Not only was it a fantastic match, going right down to the last pitch, but one of the batters obviously realised I was a baseball newbie and kindly hit me a ball as keepsake!

Seattle 2009 010

UK Hotels take note – this how to do coffee in my room!

I’m in Seattle this week (just as a big heatwave has rolled in). As I type this I’m looking out from my room at the Westin over a great view of the bay. In the corner I hear my coffee brewing. None of your little kettles and sachets of instant coffee here. Look what I got:

Coffee filter machine and Starbucks coffee

That’s right, my very own coffee machine with Starbucks coffee. Nice!

Of course, if I wanted a cup of tea I’d be stuck, but who drinks tea in Seattle?

Configuring IIS Bindings to include host headers with https on Windows Server 2008 (for SharePoint)

NOTE: We use a wildcard SSL certificate which makes our life much easier when dealing with multiple hostnames. I have not tested this approach with multiple SSL certificates for specific sites.

We’ve been reconfiguring our SharePoint 2007 farm over the past couple of days and it’s now hosted on Windows Server 2008 and using NLB (network load balancing). The load balancer has been configured with a single public IP address and all our previous DNS CNAME registrations have been replaced with hostname A registrations pointing at the address. With our previous configuration we had multiple IP addresses on the server, one for each web application. Each IIS web site was then configured with a host header and ip address to allow for secure traffic over HTTPS.

With our new configuration, I didn’t want to specify an IP address on the web site. Handily, IIS 7 makes that scenario possible (and even relatively straightforward). The only snag is that you can’t configure the necessary bindings through the IIS Manager GUI. You can do it through an xml config file, however:

  1. Look in c:\windows\system32\inetsrv\config and edit the applicationHost.config file. Make sure you take a backup first!
  2. Find the <sites> section in the file. In there you will find a <site> element for each IIS web site. Each of those has a <bindings> element with each port/protocol binding listed. Our main site looked like this:
    <bindings>
    <binding protocol=”https” bindingInformation=”*:443:” />
    </bindings>

    and we changed it to look like this:
    <bindings>
    <binding protocol=”https” bindingInformation=”*:443:myhost.mydomain.com” />
    </bindings>
  3. Repeat for each web application. If you have more than one web application on the same IP address using either http or https you need to configure a host header or you’ll have problems.
  4. Execute an iisreset.

We now have all our content web applications, the SSP and the central administration web sites all running on a single IP address, many on the same port and using SSL.

As I said at the start of this post, we use a wildcard certificate which makes my initial IIS configuration easier. I haven’t tried multiple certificates, and I’m interested to know if that works or not.

Incoming Email with SharePoint on Windows Server 2008

I’ve been meaning to write this up for a while, simply because it’s not quite as straightforward as with Server 2005.

To configure incoming email on SharePoint when running on Server 2008 you’ll need to run through the following steps:

  1. Install the SMTP feature
    Open Server Manager. Click on Features in the left hand column then click add features in the right hand pane. Tick the SMTP Server check box and click install.
  2. Configure the SMTP Service in IIS Manager (version 7)
    Start Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager from Administration tools in the Start Menu. Once open, click the name of the web server to bring up the options in the centre panel. In the centre panel, right-click SMTP E-mail and select Open Feature from the menu.
    Click the option to ‘store e-mail in pickup directory’ and set the path to be c:\inetpub\mailroot\Drop (that’s the default).
  3. Configure the SMTP Service in ISS Manager (version 7)
    Start Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 Manager from Administration tools in the Start Menu. Expand the server to show the SMTP service. In the ‘domains’ section, add any email domain aliases you need in there. Configure the other SMTP service settings just like you did with Server 2005.

SharePoint Service Pack 2 Pains

I finally bit the bullet and decided to upgrade our SharePoint farm yesterday. I’d been holding off for a while because of time constraints and because of a known issue with Project Server, also part of our farm.

I took careful steps to increment the farm from the SP1+Infrastructure update all the way through each CU up until the service pack. That all worked fine. It was when I tried SP2 I hit problems.

The first issue was that once I’d installed the WSS patch, the Sp2 patch refused to install. Rebooting the server then caused chaos as all my services complained that the SharePoint DB was the wrong version (too old, because I hadn’t run the config wizard yet).

Andy and I spent a long time poking the server yesterday, and spent time building virtual machines to take over the farm as well. We finally knocked it on the head just shy of midnight and left the server in the state it was, trying to start the upgrade installer.

When I got in this morning, the upgrade had installed. I’m guessing that the problems we were seeing were related to services starting and needing time to fail, and we simply hadn’t given them enough time to fail (mind you, the paranoid disk integrity check took a while…)

Much happier, I started the upgrade wizard. Which promptly failed. The logs showed the following:

[WebApplicationSequence] [ERROR] [5/27/2009 7:48:09 AM]: Action 12.0.4.0 of Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.Upgrade.WebApplicationSequence failed.
[WebApplicationSequence] [ERROR] [5/27/2009 7:48:09 AM]: Feature '20477d83-8bdb-414e-964b-080637f7d99b' is not installed in this farm, and can not be added to this scope.
[WebApplicationSequence] [ERROR] [5/27/2009 7:48:09 AM]:    at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPFeatureCollection.AddInternal(Guid featureId, SPFeaturePropertyCollection properties, Boolean force, Boolean fMarkOnly)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPFeatureCollection.Add(Guid featureId, Boolean force)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.Upgrade.ActivatePublisingTimerJobsWebAppFeature.Upgrade()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Upgrade.SPActionSequence.Upgrade()
[ActivatePublisingTimerJobsWebAppFeature] [12.0.4.0] [DEBUG] [5/27/2009 7:48:09 AM]: Begin Rollback()
[ActivatePublisingTimerJobsWebAppFeature] [12.0.4.0] [DEBUG] [5/27/2009 7:48:09 AM]: End Rollback()
[ActivatePublisingTimerJobsWebAppFeature] [12.0.4.0] [DEBUG] [5/27/2009 7:48:09 AM]: Begin Dispose()
[ActivatePublisingTimerJobsWebAppFeature] [12.0.4.0] [DEBUG] [5/27/2009 7:48:09 AM]: End Dispose()
[ActivatePublisingTimerJobsWebAppFeature] [12.0.4.0] [DEBUG] [5/27/2009 7:48:09 AM]: Elapsed time: 00:00:00.0312496.

A quick dig with our old friend google turned up a couple of similar posts from Jukka on Moss and MySharePointofView so I had a look at the 12 hive and to my surprise found that there was no folder for the PublishingTimerJobs feature. I copied it from one of the new servers, already patched to SP2 and ran the command:

stsadm –o installfeature –name PublishingTimerJobs

That succeeded. I then followed with the old favourite:

psconfig –cmd upgrade –inplace b2b –force

That upgrade has just completed. No project-related errors, just success, so I add my experience to the collective.