Friday, February 29, 2008

MOSS & Single Sign On: a simple How To

I'm planning on giving another couple of SharePoint courses in near future. 5060 and 5061. During each and every course my students aske me questions about topics that are not covered in detail in those courses. Such as examples for using Single Sign On (SSO) or Content Publishing. So now I'm making a VPC which will have it all. From Analysis Services KPIs to BDC and SSO. During my research I found two great blog posts on how to do SSO with MOSS:

Michael Hofer's Sharepoint Blog explains hot to use SSO with BDC. SSO will overcome the problems of using Mixed Mode Authentication to databases behind firewalls or outside of the domain. In one of the comments you will find a tip on how to use SSO to impersonate an application account set up in AD.

The second Post I found at Microsoft by the SharePoint Designer Team Blog explaining how to set up a Dataview in SPD using SSO to a Database. This post effectively uses an application account created in AD to connect to the DB and then SSO to connect to it. Works like a charm.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Usage Analysis and VPCs

Ever wondered why you are having troubles showing usage reports during any of your sessions? No? Well It nearly drove me mad. Whatever I did, no reports would show. Then I RTFM and remembered that the usage is analysed only once a day.
But when will that be?
If you need to know, look into the SharePoint_Config Database and open up TimerRunningJobs. There you will find two jobs of interest Office SharePoint Usage Analytics Processing and Usage Analysis. The one relates to MOSS and the other to WSS analysis processing.
So then I wanted to kick-start the process. Instead of dabbling with the last start date & time I decided to change the time on my vpc server. hahaha. that was funny. Next time I look, all times and dates have shifted by the exact amount of hours that I shifted the clock. Duh.
Now turning the machine off and the next day on again will not do it either. The Timer job will simply wait another cycle before attempting the processing. There is only one reliable answer. leave the VPC running over night. That will do the trick.
You can try to change the date & time of the last start time and recylce the timer service, but I didn't dare do such an incision to my now perfectly configured system.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Live meeting and headsets

Some of you might know, that LM2005 does not support VOIP. I.e. you have to use telephone conferencing to hear all participants. And let me guess, you don't have a headset for your telephone. But any bet you have a headset for your computer! Maybe even a bluetooth one for your mobile phone.
So how can we use that headset over a normal telephone line? Can't be done? Oh sure it can. Skype is the answer. Not only can you call anywhere in the world with Skype Out, but even better, toll free numbers are FREE. So you can sit in the sahara desert calling a toll free 0800 number in the uk, usa or germany and not pay a penny for it.
Simply use your existing PC or bluetooth headset with skype and start participating in live meetings around the world without the expense of international phone calls or buying expensive telephone headets.

Just keep in mind that you'll need the extra bandwidth to accommodate both the Live Meeting and the voip conversation side by side. But then, skype uses pretty good compression technology and the overhead is probably not be as much as you might fear.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Vista & ReadyBoost: speed is king & size does not matter

Hello everyone, now that many of us have Vista machines, some of you might have thought about boosting the performance of those machines. (Now why would anybody want to do that to such a (yawn) fast setup).
One reliable source of boosting the speed of the machine would be to plug in a usb drive into the back of the machine and set it up to assist ReadyBoost.

But beware! All drives are equal! Just some are more equal than others!

The most important thing to remember is that speed matters. And the speed of your drive is no different. If the vendor does not state it to be ReadyBoost compatible or “enhanced for ReadyBoost” then don’t even bother. The read & write speeds won’t be fast enough to get a performance gain and Vista will simply refuse to use it for its snazzy new feature.
That said, just having it say compatible will not necessarily make you feel an enormous performance gain. The “hidden” speed is important. The actual read & write performance of the stick will greatly influence how fast Vista responds on opening up complex apps like Photoshop or running Virtual Machines.
I tested a Transcend 2A stick against a DSE stick and found both to read at the same speed, but the Transcend 2A one wrote 4 times faster. Much better performance when plugged in than the DSE one.

So what to look out for? Make sure the drive claims to be ultra fast. Super performing or even publicly announces read & write speeds. Only few providers do that, because only few providers can actually boast about their performance.

Here are a couple I have found to be good in the past
Transcend 2A series. Skip the V series, they are cheap and slow. The 2A series is fast and responsive.
Apacer HT203 and HA202 are very good bets.

Sadly, the DSE USB stick you can get in Dicksmiths is not the best option, as it merely passes the minimum requirement for having the “enhanced for ReadyBoost” insignia. If you can get your Hands on a fast Apacer or fast Transcend, you’ll be much happier.

The last question you might ask is “do I need a big stick?” And here I’m happy to tell you that size does not matter for a change...:-) With 4GB of Ram and only being able to see 3GB of that I set my ReadyBoost cache to 3.5GB. Looking at the Performance Counters while testing out different scenarios I found a maximum of 2GB being used at any one time.

Final line: a fast performing 2GB USB drive will give you much more umpf than a slower 4GB at the same price.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How to best share multimedia in LM2007

Livemeeting 2007 supports flash files! So instead of using app sharing and speakerphone to capture the audio, which is pretty cumbersome as I prefer using a headset when presenting, I suggest you simply upload the flash files directly to the livemeeting content.
Simply upload the files directly in LM and switch between the slides and the flash when needed. Remember to activate the flash controls before attempting to press pause in the multimedia. Best idea ofcourse is to do a dry run whenever you're presenting. But you knew that already...

If you're planning to record the session and are using conferencing for audio, make sure you have audio and conferencing set up so that both audiostreams are being recorded together, or you'll have some spots of silence in your recording, where the multimedia was playing.

Best Practices Live Meeting Session

Had to get up at an unholy hour today to attend the "Best Practices for Presenting LM2007" session today. I wish I had stayed in bed. They repeated a lot of How To information that was covered in other sessions already and the actual "best practices" bit was rather short. If you attended the e-learning session you really need not go to this one too.
That's all the sessions I'll be attending. If anybody has gone to the ten other ones MS is providing for free, feel free to share your experiences here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Free Livemeeting Training

So you want to become a MODL exppert in no time? Best bet is to participate in as many Livemeeting sessions as you can. That will give you the confidence and experience you'll need in the classroom environment.
One good way is to attend some instructor led LiveMeeting Session provided courtesy of Microsoft:

I just attended a session with an instructor called Deborah Crohn and it was great. I had already played with LM2007 and eagerly presented and prepared 2273-4-2 but I had never dared to click on the "Public Events" link on the space, I had set up for evaluation.
Man did I miss out on something. Those events are not necessarily public. And you can only see your events. As event organiser you can create events, registrations, assign meetings, polls, questionnaires and even Evaluations or Tests, which you can then share using the Web Page Sharing Tool in LM2007. Great stuff. Especially for classroom scenarios. The Events section gives you a wealth of personalisation and branding opportunities which mean that you need not go and create complex websites around your e-learning experiences.

How does this translate to MODL? Sadly it does not. for MODL you'll need a customised web site with links to the resources, scenarios and e-learning. But for non MODL courses this could be great!

One other thing. When you're using Conferencing instead of VOIP for the Audio and you wish to create Break-out rooms, you should advise your participants to use the call-back feature if available. Otherwise the audio stream will be a separate Attendee in the meeting. If your students do call in directly, as I did over Skype, then you'll need to identify the person's line in the list and drag that item into the break-out room together with the attendee.
In the image you will see some attendees with a phone next to their name. Those were called back by the system. And then some without a phone, like me. We're the ones which called in directly and need to be merried up manually with our corresponding caller X when creating break-up rooms.
Oh, and this whole concept only works with conferencing providers, which support sub-conferencing or when using voip.

Happy training!

How To upload a LM2005 Presentation to

Yesterday I told you to read my other post on uploading a LM2005 PowerPoint deck to LM2007. Well, I cheated. There was no post. Until now! The following instructions I received from a fellow MCT, who got it from somebody at MSL. No secret, just good advice.

When uploading a PowerPoint presentation that includes Live Meeting 2005 slides, inserted from the Live Meeting 2005 Add-in for PowerPoint, to a Live Meeting 2007 meeting, you may receive an error. The work-around is to convert the PowerPoint (PPT) file to a Live Meeting Presentation (LMP) file, then upload the LMP file to the meeting using the Alternate Uploader.

  1. Verify the Live Meeting 2005 Windows-based Meeting Console is installed on your computer. Click on the Live Meeting 2005 Windows-based link to connect to the installation page.Note: Installing the Live Meeting 2005 Windows-based console will not interfere with the Live Meeting 2007 Windows-based console. Each console runs separate of each other.

  2. Verify the Live Meeting 2005 Add-in for PowerPoint is installed on a computer running PowerPoint 2003. Click on the Live Meeting 2005 Add-in link to connect to the installation page.

  3. Open the presentation in PowerPoint 2003.

  4. Convert the PowerPoint (PPT) file to a Live Meeting Presentation (LMP).

    1. In PowerPoint 2003, click Export from the Live Meeting 2005 Add-in.

    2. Browse to the location you would like to save the file.

    3. Enter the name of the file.

    4. Click Save.

  5. Upload the Live Meeting Presentation (LMP) to a meeting that is already scheduled.

    1. Log into your Live Meeting 2007 conference center.

    2. Click Meetings under the Manage menu.

    3. On the Manage Meetings page, click subject of the meeting you would like to upload the file to. This will direct you to the Meeting Details page.

    4. On the Meeting Details page, on the right-side of the page, click Upload Files under the Action menu. This will direct you the to Upload Files page that contains the Alternate Uploader.

    5. On the Upload Files page, you will be prompted to install an ActiveX control. The ActiveX control must be installed to upload the file.

    6. After the ActiveX control is installed click Browse to find the Live Meeting Presentation (LMP) file you created in step 3.

    7. Click Upload.

    8. Click Done once all the files have been uploaded.

  6. Join the meeting as a Presenter and verify all the Live Meeting slides created by the Live Meeting 2005 Add-in for PowerPoint are displaying correctly

The important thing to remember here, is to upload the .lmp file via the web interface. If you try to upload the .ppt or .lmp file via the LM Console, it'll tell you off. Also if you try to upload the .ppt via the web interface. The only combination that worked for me was exported .lmp via web.

Happy uploading!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

MODL How To Get Started

If any of you aspire to become MODL authorised, let me warn you! You're pretty much on your own on this one.
The Material on Town Hall is all great to watch, but real Train The Trainer material is lacking here. And nothing is quite as self explanatory as everybody thinks. So here are some tips for ya all attempting to become MODL authorised:

How to Prepare?
  1. get a trial account at That will get you started with using LM2007 yourself.
  2. Install LM2007. And start playing with the setup.
  3. get some FREE LM 2007 Training.
    You'll be able to join some Live Meeting Sessions with some experienced instructors. Make sure to go to as many sessions as you can. That will cut down on your trial and error time dramatically. Especially the one about using LM2007 for e-learning
  4. Download the 2273DL course from the mct moc download site.
  5. Upload Module 4-2 to a new LM Session. try to avoid using the Meet Now space, as you'll want to use that for other tests and ad-hoc sessions. Better to schedule a separate event.
  6. Oh, before uploading the powerpoint slide make sure you've read my other post on uploading a LM 2005 adjusted ppt deck to a LM 2007 space. You'll get nasty errors if you simply try to upload the ppt file directly.
  7. Start testing your LM presentation skills.

Here a couple of hurdles I came along while testing the slides:

Don't look for the instructors manual. there is none. All good information is hidden in the powerpoint Notes. Totally Next Gen MOC Style. (I ask myself what came first, chicken or egg?)

Best thing to do is print out the ppt in Notes Mode. Make sure to resize the fonts on one of the notes pages, or it won't all print on one page. Sadly the default behaviour of printing out in Notes mode is to cut off any text that goes beyond the paper margin.
This will give you a great script sheet for the actual session. I also use this printout for my notes, timings and added value content.

Then go and download the Deliveryguide to the standard 2273 MOC Course. Why? Because it contains the script for the demo's you'll be doing. Well some of them. All the Demos in Module 4-2 are actually the Practices you'd be doing with your students during the normal classroom experience. So print out those pages with the practice scripts to make sure you cover all aspects.

When matching up MODL with MOC you'll have to do some translation in Module Numbers. Especially as 2273 actually is a combination of 2274 and 2275. Following list should help:

2273 MODL Lesson2273 MOC
4-2-4AddRead C
4-2-5AddRead D

As you can see, Lessions 4 and 5 Are not even covered in the Delivery Guide. You'll have to look for them on the Student CD under Additional Reading Material(AddRead).

Now here is a good note: The StudentCD that comes with the full download of the MODL Course is pretty much the same as the one for 2273. So no need to download it twice. Extract the TrainerCD, look into the Student Folder and go hunting for those additional modules. There you'll find the practice scripts for the remaining demos.

That's all for now. More Tips and Tricks coming along and if you have any questions post me on the mct modl newsgroup. I'm one of the few hanging around there.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hello World

Having turned MCT last October I have found the path a little bumpy at times.
Not knowing where to go for the real advice, not knowing how to best teach MS Courses or any general advice on being an MCT and all that comes with it.

So I thought I'd create a blog for all those new MCTs out there and share my learnings with everyone. Not that anyone will be listening soon, but who knows, if I can help just one newbie to feel more confident with MOC (microsoft official courseware) then I've achieved all I could wish for.

To start off... Where to get the stuff once you're an MCT.
If you're working for a CPLS they will buy the course material for the courses. Often they will try to skip on the trainer pack, as it ain't cheap. So no stress, you can download most materials from the MC Courseware Library. Now that's a phrase that causes confusion alone.

The Official MCT Download Center is also known as Microsoft Offifical Courseware Library and can be found here:
You'll need to register and when asked for your partnerId, simply enter your MCP Id(aka MCT Id)

But you won't find all courses there anymore. MSL (Microsoft Learnining) have introduced a new Courseware Library where Courses MCTs can upload their own courses and start earning royalties on those. The Quality assurance process is not quite as lengthy as the one for MOC but then, you'll find out soon enough how much time was spent on Quality within MSL. They have promised to change this...
So where is the new Library?

Happy downloading you all. And remember, MCT use only.