September 2005 - Posts

About one and a half month to go till IT Forum 2005 in Barcelona (November 15th - 17th). A couple of days at Barcelona surrounded by great Microsoft technology in the fall is pretty attractive, isn't it? You still have 10 days for early bird registration. More information about the conference can be found on the IT Forum 2005 website.

A quick overview:

  • The slogan: "Three days of learning, one year of solutions". Notice the event is reduced to 3 days based on feedback of earlier editions, saving time and money for your company without compromising content or opportunities to meet with delegates.
  • Over 170 technical sessions in 10 targeted tracks for IT folks, being Solution and Infrastructure Architects, Administrators and Senior IT Managers/Directory, etc.
  • Covering technologies going from Windows Server System, over SQL Server 2005 to Navision. Also Windows Server 2003 R2 and Windows Vista will be covered.
  • Built on three key pillars:
    • Technology Education with pre-conferences on November 14th, more than 170 technical sessions filled with infrastructure content, Chalk-&-Talk sessions and a delegate website where you'll find all of the resources.
    • Technology Evaluation gives you an opportunity to see (new) products in action (Navision, Solomon, Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, SQL Server 2005, Windows XP, ISA Server 2004, SharePoint Portal Server 2003 but also Windows Vista/Longhorn and "Office 12") and to experiment with these technologies yourself in Hands-on Labs. More than 80 partners will tell you about their products, services and technologies too.
    • Community & Networking is the place to be to get in touch with Microsoft technology experts from the product teams, support services, MVPs and MCTs on the Ask The Experts. Join the partners in the exhibition hall and attend panel discussions to ask anything you want to ask.
  • The keynote presentation will be delivered by Bob Muglia, Senior Vice President of the Windows Server Division.
  • !!!NEW!!! Lightning Demos are targeted at people with or without a lot of experience with the product in order to get a quick overview and level of understanding. These 30 minute demos with high level explanations show the capabilities and top level functionalities of selected products and how they fit into the overall Microsoft Platform Strategy.

Consult the on-line brochure as well to find out more about this great event you should not miss if you're an IT guy in the Microsoft technologies space. Register now as an early bird (till October 7th) on this page and join over 3000 European IT peers. Hope to see you there on ATE or on my Chalk-&-Talk together with Lukasz Pawlowski, Program Manager on SQL Server Business Intelligence responsible for Reporting Services and Notification Services, on "SQL Server Notification Services Demystified" (CHT063). Scheduling has not completed yet, but I'll keep you up-to-date through my blog.

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Hop, go to http://update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate/v6/default.aspx?ln=en to scan your computer for Office 2003 updates. The list looks as follows:

  • Office 2003 Service Pack 2
  • Visio 2003 Service Pack 2
  • Project 2003 Service Pack 2
  • OneNot 2003 Service Pack 2
  • Update for Outlook 2003 Junk Email Filter

Notice the use of "Microsoft Update" instead of "Office Update". Way cool and easy!

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A few days ago I was faced with the challenge to create an MST (transform file) for an MSI package, other than Office. I knew about the MST capabilities of MSI from the Office installation space since, if I'm not mistaken, Office 2000 using the ORK (Office Resource Kit). However, this time I needed a way to do this for arbitraty setups. So, I found a tool called "Orca" in the Platform SDK (bin folder) that does all of this stuff, and even more (see http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;255905).

Some documentation extracts to put the Orca taste on your lips :-)

Orca is a Windows Installer package editor provided as part of the Windows Installer SDK and designed to provide full access to the database tables that compose a Windows Installer package. While Orca provides powerful access to all features of the Windows Installer, it is not intended to replace a full-featured package-authoring environment.

Windows Installer enables the efficient installation and configuration of your products and applications. Orca can be used to create and edit Windows Installer databases. These include installation databases (.msi files), merge modules (.msm files), database patches (.msp files), database transforms (.mst files), validation modules (.cub files), and patch creation (.pcp files.)

Have fun (if you ever need it and you didn't know it exists - which was the case for me). Btw, information on Orcas will follow later on over here as well :-).

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Interesting link - http://blogs.msdn.com/sql_protocols - brought online a couple of days ago. Looks/sounds promising. Another interesting one is the Transactional NTFS = TxNTFS (now abbreviated as TxF) blog on http://blogs.msdn.com/because%5Fwe%5Fcan/ which I'm following for quite a while already. Enjoy!Del.icio.us | Digg It | Technorati | Blinklist | Furl | reddit | DotNetKicks

Today I've been playing around to find a mechanism to update the My Network Places folder in a network environment to contain links to all SharePoint Document Libraries on a given server. I still have to put pieces together and fill in missing links, but here are some frustrating things I've been sailing around :o. Notice that all of the following only works on a machine with Office 2003 (maybe earlier releases too) to introduce the notion of "web folders" in the shell.

1. My Network Places contains links to - guess what - network locations. These are stored in %HOMEPATH%\Nethood under a user's profile in the form of folders (which have the name of the link that appears in the list in Windows Explorer) containing two files: target.lnk and desktop.ini

2. target.lnk is the hardest one to get right. Up till now, I've not found a way to create such a link programmatically (doing a lot of P/Invoke and interop stuff in C#). The pieces of the puzzle are called IShellLink, it's method SetIDList, PIDL and SHGetFolderLocation and CSIDL_NETHOOD. If someone finds a way to create a .lnk file to a web folder using these pieces of the puzzle, let me know (C# managed code preferred, but WSH/VBScript or C++ solutions are also welcome). In most cases, the file was renamed to a .url file which is handled by IE.

3. desktop.ini contains the following:

[.ShellClassInfo]
CLSID2={0AFACED1-E828-11D1-9187-B532F1E9575D}
Flags=2

4. Retrieving all document libraries in all subwebs of a given SharePoint site was a piece of cake using the SharePoint .asmx files. You can find the code of my "crawler" over here in a zip file: sharepointwebcrawler.zip. It retrieves the title and url of every document library it can find recursively. Please notice this code can be improved further, especially the tricky part to extract the document library's base URL.

5. Once you have the list of all document libraries (URL + title) you need to create the target.lnk files and the folders. Right now, this is the missing link in my solution (see point 2 above) and requires manual interaction.

6. Deploy the created .lnk files to all target machines. If you thought it was as easy as doing xcopy of the entire Nethood folder, you're wrong. Okay, it's basically that but first you should not forget to copy the hidden desktop.ini file too, and second, all folders need to be marked as read-only (otherwise these don't appear as "shortcuts" but as normal folders containing a target.lnk file). I did end up with something like this:

cd %USERPROFILE%\Nethood
xcopy /E /H %SOURCEDIR% .
attrib +R /D /S .*

What a nightmare :s. Dreaming of .lnk files to become XML-files :-).

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Maybe a little late but I just want to point you to a useful tool called Microsoft Time Zone that I've been using during my stay in LA to get used to the visiting/home time zone difference. The tool does nothing more than showing all of the local times in various (customizable) locations when you click the icon in the system tray but still I found it very useful.

You can find the tool over here: http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/outreach/dnloads/timezone.mspx

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Yesterday I arrived back from the PDC (after an intended sleepless flight night and a nightmare bus trip from Amsterdam to Brussels, read why on Patrick's blog), which was a great experience. In the blogoscope, I've been pretty low on posting activity due to the busy schedule (sessions, side-meetings, parties, etc) and a somewhat limited connectivity to the internet. Because everything has been blogged about already, I'll limit this post to a list of some exciting stuff I saw (most exciting stuff first?).

  • Windows * Foundation, including Presentation, Communition and Workflow
  • All kinds of Vista and Longhorn Server stuff (SuperFetch, TxNTFS, IIS7, etc)
  • MSH (aka Monad) Beta 2
  • C# 3.0 and Visual Basic 9
  • LINQ, DLINQ, XLINQ
  • MMC 3.0
  • SharePoint v3 and Office 12
  • Microsoft "Expression" stuff

I'm sure I forgot about a lot of things in the list above. You'll see lots of posts and articles coming up in the next couple of weeks/months around this stuff. Other great things were the party at Universal Studios (never thought I would end up in a roller coaster when going to the PDC), the EMEA@PDC party at the White Lotus, Bill Gates' (long) keynote (and Eric Rudder's, Jim Allchin's, etc), the hotel. Photos still have to be transferred to my computer and later to the internet.

Other Belgians I met on the PDC (links to known blogs):

If I forgot someone, please post a comment and I'll add you to this list.

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You can grab the bits over here (x86). Have fun :-).

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The title tells it all: don't forget to log off MSN Messenger when you're leaving a CommNet box. Because the boxes don't have a log off button (realized through Group Policy), the machines keep up-and-running all the time under the same user profile. Also because of Group Policy, the system tray does not reveal the presence of MSN Messenger running behind the scenes, so you need to go to Start, All Programs, MSN Messenger 7.0 and click File, Sign Out.Del.icio.us | Digg It | Technorati | Blinklist | Furl | reddit | DotNetKicks

Okay, pretty late notice due to internet connectivity problems at the hotel, but I arrived at the PDC in LA a couple of days ago after a 11:40 hours flight from Amsterdam to LAX airport. Luckily, I'm not suffering from a jetlag, but I guess that has to do with my lack of biorithm :d.

On Sunday I took the EMEA@PDC odd city tour, yesterday I went to the beach (Venice Beach) with EMEA@PDC to read some stuff, including documents on the C# 3.0, LINQ, DLINQ and XLINQ stuff that was announced in today's keynote by Bill Gates and Jim Allchin which was pretty cool, covering Windows Vista pre-beta 2, Office 12 (it's sooo exciting, believe me ;-)), *LINQ, Atlas and a lot of fun demos by Anders Heijlsberg, Don Box, Chris Anderson and Scott Guthrie. Also check out Microsoft Max, a sample app running on WCF and WPF.

Going to find some food now (12:51 PM).

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