Looking forward to the Imagine Cup Hackathon

It’s a busy week this week and I’m really looking forward to being involved with the Imagine Cup Hackathon for the North East Region this Friday and Saturday (1st and 2nd February).

Black Marble have a long history of supporting the UK Imagine Cup teams and it’s great to be able to continue that support. We’ll be in The Life Science Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne in force this week. Steve Spencer, Richard Fennell, Robert Hogg and myself will be accompanied by Riccardo Viglianisi and Josh Whittle from Black Marble.

We’ll be proving help and support to teams from the North East alongside Andy Westgarth, MVP and founder of NEBytes, who has worked hard alongside Sunderland Software City and Steve Spencer to promote the Imagine Cup across north eastern schools, universities and colleges. We’ll also be joined by Black Marble event regular Gary Short and members of last year’s North Eastern Region winning teams.

That makes a total of five Microsoft MVP’s, hopefully five members of last years winning teams and other enthusiastic supporters (that would be me!). If you are already involved in the Imagine Cup in the North East we’ll see you there. If not, head over to the Imagine Cup site, or see if your university, college or school is already involved for more information on how to take part. You can register to attend the hackathon on its eventbrite page.

More UK TechDays on System Center 2012 and Windows 8

Our good friends in the UK TechDays team have announced another raft of events in their fantastic IT Camps series. I’m hoping to be there for at least on of them and if you’re at all interested in Windows 8 or System Center 2012 I cant recommend them highly enough.

No slides, no marketing – just technical content, demo driven with as much audience participation as they can manage. Everyone I’ve spoken to at previous camps has enjoyed them and learned a great deal.

I’ll be helping with the server camp in York on the 5th of March and you might see me at other camps too.

Enough of the gushing plug, here are the dates and venues, with links so you can register:

Date Event Location
12th February 2013 Windows 8 Glasgow
13th February 2013 Windows Server 2012 – Virtualising Servers Glasgow
14th February 2013 Windows 8 Camp Glasgow
19th February 2013 System Center 2012 Manchester
21st February 2013 System Center 2012 Birmingham
5th March 2013 Windows Server 2012 – Virtualising Servers York
6th March 2013 System Center 2012 York
17th April 2013 Windows 8 Southampton


If you want to know more about forthcoming Techdays keep an eye on the main events page.

User profile service failures caused by Distributed Cache on SharePoint 2013

This is a relatively quick post, largely because I was not able to record the details of the error messages we saw in the farm before we fixed them.

On a recent engagement we were investigating problems with a SharePoint 2013 farm that had been installed for our customer by a third party. There were a number of issues that we worked through but I wanted to record this one for the community.

The user profile service in the farm was not responding. Attempts to manage the service resulted in an error page. In addition, the user profile synchronisation service was stuck in the starting state. Documentation suggested that both had been configured during installation and checked to be working.

We ran through a number of checks to no avail. Then I started looking at how the farm topology was configured.

The distributed cache service had been stopped on the two web front end servers and the two app tier servers in the farm. Two additional SharePoint servers were in the farm, but had no services at all on them, other than the distributed cache. As an experiment we started the cache service on the other servers and the user profile service sprang into life. The synchronisation service also started without error.

I haven’t had chance to attempt to recreate this issue and check whether there was a server-to-server communication issue or whether the distributed cache service actually needs to be running on the servers that host the user profile service and user profile synchronisation service, but if you have strange service issues with 2013, check your cache topology!

Upcoming presentations

It’s the start of a new year and my engagement diary is filling rapidly. Once again I am covering a wide range of topics for an equally broad audience which is something I really enjoy.

  • January 15th will find me in Manchester at a Microsoft event for Fire Services. I’m giving an overview of Windows Azure PaaS and IaaS services and how they might be used to complement as well as replace existing IT systems.
  • January 30th is the annual Black Marble Tech Update. For our tenth year we have changed the format slightly. The morning will be focused on IT and the afternoon on Development. IT Managers attending the morning session will hear myself, Andy Dawson and Andy Davidson run through the recent releases and upcoming changes to Microsoft product and service offerings in order to help with strategic planning for the coming year. The afternoon session will be similar, but for Development Managers.
    Find out more on the Black Marble web site.
  • March 5th is the next UK Techdays IT Camp that I will be helping out at. This one is in York and will cover Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V.
    Find out more on the UK Techdays events page.
  • March 6th takes me to London where Robert Hogg and I will deliver a Tech Update for the Public Sector at Cardinal Place.

Also this year Black Marble are pleased to be involved with the Microsoft Imagine Cup once more. Teaming up with Andy Westgarth and our friends in Sunderland, we are running an Imagine Cup Hackathon on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd February, where a number of us will be on hand to give teams from the region help and advice on development and technical matters, but also presentation techniques, business plan and other areas important to success.
Find out more on the Imagine Cup site.