Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Google goggles disappears from iPhone.

Google plays another round of peeky-boo. One moment a feature is there, the next it is gone. But only for those nasty iPhone users which they are not allowed to illegally track no more. I still can't believe what got into the programmers at google when they exploited a loophole in the safari browser on iPhones to circumvent the privacy settings and plant an illegal cookie. But that is not my beef today. Nor is it that from Thursday tens of millions of users will become advertising cash cows thanks to google ignoring basic privacy etiquette.

No, what griefs me today is that Google goggles have been disabled for iPhone users.
What a great idea. What a great tool. And then it is gone? As I could not believe it, I tried to look at the web URL for goggles and I got a pretty message telling me that my phone was not supported. I guess from now on only cool android users will get the full benefit of searching based on imagery.
And they did not even have the decency to update their iPhone app on the app store to reflect the latest "policy".

Thursday, February 9, 2012

License rights to access on-premises SharePoint - a converstional approach

I just tried the online support option while researching info on Office 365.  Wow. that was an experience. First I tried to find out how much extra external users would cost, as oob  only 50 are included. 15 minutes back and forth later I was told to talk to our MS Partner Account Manager. Ok. I figured, that might be too specific. So I asked a question about one of their statements on the web.
there it states that customers get licence rights to access on-premise SharePoint. Whoha. So I thought I'd try to find out what that actually means. Below is the transcript of that conversation. I must admit, my fuse was short after having suffered a fatal blow during my first attempt and I publicly apologise for the abruptness of my parts of the conversation. I hate being flogged with mindless qualifying questions which have absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand.

Chat Transcript
info: Thank you for choosing Microsoft.  A representative will be with you shortly.
info: Privacy Statement
You are now chatting with 'M
Alex Dean: Hello M,
: How may I assist you today?
Alex Dean: can you explain to me what "License rights to access on-premises deployment of Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Lync Server" means on the E1 plan
Alex Dean: does that mean that the customer is allowed to install SharePoint Enterprise internally without additional licence costs?
M: Are you referring to Sharepoint Online with Office 365?
Alex Dean: yes
Alex Dean: The plans E1 to E3 state that we would have licence rights for on-premise exchange, sharepoint and lync.
MV: Please could you tell me whether this is for business or personal use, and are you a Microsoft Partner?
Alex Dean: this is for business use
Alex Dean: the customer I am enquiring the pricing for is not a microsoft partner. we on the other hand are
Alex Dean: how many server licences would that entail?
M: What level of partnership do you have with Microsoft? Are you a gold,silver,cloud partner of Microsoft?
Alex Dean: we're a gold partner, but what difference does it make to my query? the customer I'm enquiring for is not a partner
M: One moment please.
Alex Dean: We need to know what is possible regarding the on-premise licence when you sign up for an E1 plan. Does that cover Server licences, CALs or both?
Alex Dean: One scenario could be: customer signs up for E1 plan for 120 users, does not need to buy another 120 ECAls for internal sharepoint server.
M: You can have License rights to access on-premises deployment of Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Lync Server for the Enterprise Plans.
Alex Dean: yes. that is what the website states. but does that mean actual CALs? does that include server licences for in-house deployments? and if so, how many?
M This feature pertains to all of our Enterprise plans which allow you to have access to Exchange, Sharepoint and Lync in the cloud in co-existence with an on-premise solution.
Alex Dean: If a company installs sharepoint in-house and buys CALs they already have rights to access it. what benefit is Office 365 offering its customers with that statement?
M: Thank you for waiting. I'll be with you in just a moment.
M: They can integrate their data with O365.
Alex Dean: huh?
M: This option would provide you with data security and functionality if ever your on-site server fails.  
Alex Dean: so if my on-site SharePoint server fails Office 365 magically makes the farm available for me? how is that supposed to work? 
M: Microsoft’s cloud data centers are geographically dispersed and fully redundant, designed with enterprise-grade reliability, disaster recovery capabilities, and employ operational best practices so that your content and services are always available.
Alex Dean: yes. that is useful for the content stored in office 365. that does not answer the question on how it integrates with on-premise sharepoint
M: We don't have that information. Kindly contact your Microsoft Partner Account Manager for further assistance.
Alex Dean: ok, will do. thanks for trying though.

(To respect the privacy of online sales reps I reduced the rep's name to M)

After some more research I came across this great article: http://www.directionsonmicrosoft.com/licensing/30-licensing/3190-cal-suite-bridges-for-office-365-illustration.html
It clearly states that the E3 plans provide the customer with standard and Enterprise CALs for lync, sharepoint and exchange. For additional services which would normally be part of of those in-house CALs such as Windows Server CALs, ForeFront CALs and DPM CALs Microsoft designed a Enterprise CAL Suite Bridge for Office 365. Great news. Now all I need to do is get that info confirmed by an MS Account Manager and we're set to go!
Further research brought me to this wonderful resource. It explains the Bridge CALs in more detail and confirms what the above mentioned article explains.

Effectively though, if the customer is not a Core Suite or ECAL Suite customer and is not needing the added benefits which the ECAL would offer, then office 365 E1-E3 users do not need to purchase another license for their on-premise servers. This can be quite a cost savings. The only question remains, which CALs can they skip on which plan? E3 will allow you to skip SharePoint Enterprse and SharePoint standard CALs as well as Office licences, Exchange Licences and Lync Licences. E1 on the other hand does not have all the Enterprise features. So in theory the customer would still need to purchase SharePoint Enterprise CALs, but not the Standard CALs, to be licenced for all the juicy Enterprise features in-house.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Coding Duel online

While researching more on Test Driven Development for SharePoint I came across a cute code duel website. The basis of this website is to write valid C# code and have the PEX engine analyse the code, come up with suitable test values and then compare those against expected values. If your code matches the secret implementation which is providing the expected values, the PEX scan will complete without errors.


Although this site can provide hours of fun entertainment for bored coders ( I could not resist to solve one or the other puzzle myself to try it out) and feel good factor for coming up with clever and light solutions (resource constraints stop you from using the full object model) it can also serve a very different purpose:

Recruitment Assistance! Sit your next development candidate infront of two or three of those puzzles and let them solve them there and then. No need to come up with lots of scenarios. No need to test the solutions. Heck, no need to know anything about coding at all. Just let them solve it and confirm that the puzzles complete with a success note.
Record exactly which puzzle was atempted, and if a candidate gets stuck let them try out another one. The senior developer can always evaluate which ones were completed and which ones not at a later stage.