Pulling Into GrandCentral…

September 17, 2007

A while back I heard about this new service, GrandCentral that allowed you to have a single phone number that would forward to several phones. We already had similar functionality since we use Vonage for our home phone service but I’m forever testing things and so I signed up. I used the number a little but was basically having it forwarded to my cell since a key feature was missing to make it a true help for me – more on that later. Now nearly a year later, Google has bought up the little company and it’s all the buzz. Yes, it seems to be a perpetual beta software but it really does shine.

The interface is outstanding. It’s got quite a bit of Flash so I can’t imagine it would score well in accessibility but it does provide for an intuitive navigation. The site is well laid out and does a good job of providing the things that I needed, like help and FAQ, without making me work to hard to find stuff (MSDN, I’m looking at you). It has the ability to import contacts from CSV files so that you’re not having to re-type your entire address book – a non-starter in my book.

The big gripe was that it doesn’t handle extensions. For most people, like myself, this makes it useless on the office phone. Aside from my cell, that’s the phone I use the most so it really made this a forwarding number for my cell. Given cell number portability, that really doesn’t provide me as much value as I would have hoped. A few of the features that I did find really cool and valuable were the custom routing/ringing based on which group the caller belongs to, call switch that allows you to pass the call between registered phones, and having voicemail sent via email. So overall, I would say the positives far outweigh the negatives. I have a few invitations left so if you’re interested, post a comment and I’ll get you an invite.


Installation Issues with SharePoint and Windows 2008…

September 12, 2007

One of my first tasks on the new job was to resurrect a portal that was running on SharePoint before the catastrophic domain controller failure. It was a bit of a pain and quite a bit of trial and error, especially since I’d never used MOSS 2007 (or any other version for that matter) but everything seems to have come out correctly. I wanted to blog a few items that I ran into while attempting this so that others might be spared some pain.

As a side note, I REALLY have a problem with UAC and all the hoops that you have to jump thru just to get things done. And even though I did all the things I believe I needed to do, I was still unable to get SQL to attach any database file that I hand copied into the Data folder in Program Files. Blech!!

So here’s the configuration: Windows 2003 (Domain Controller), Windows 2008 x64 (Beta 2 I believe) and SQL 2005 for the SharePoint server. There weren’t any actual SharePoint backups that I know of only the SQL files so that negated the “restore” option.

I have to say, the MOSS install is quite nice and very fast (thankfully since I did it way more times than I’ll ever admit). I was attempting to spin up the first service, Excel Calculation Service, when I hit my first snag. Clicking on the links to start the service yielded no action. No postback, no nothing. Crap. It’s a simple fix: turn off Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration. You can find it here the “Server Manager” under “Security” | “Configure IE ESC”.

IE Extended Security

Unfortunately, turning it off only caused the links to start posting back correctly. The service still wouldn’t start and was giving an obscure error (sorry, didn’t write that one down). In order to start the service you must run the following from a command prompt (don’t forget to “Run as administrator” or else it won’t work):

"c:Program FilesCommon FilesMicrosoft SharedWeb Server Extensions12binSTSADM.EXE" -o provisionservice -action start -servicetype "Microsoft.Office.Excel.Server.ExcelServerSharedWebService, Microsoft.Office.Excel.Server, Version =, Culture = neutral, PublicKeyToken = 71e9bce111e9429c"

After that, everything else seemed to work out just fine in getting SharePoint up and running.

Now to get the old databases back online was easier than I thought it would be, once I attempted it a few times. Reattach the databases in SQL and then give their name when creating the new SSP. You should have 4 databases total to reattach; here were ours – SharedServices_DB, SharedServices_Search, WSS_Content, WSS_Content_4be54UGLYASS2bGUID4d21. By attaching the databases with my user as the owner and having me as the admin on SharePoint, I had no permissions issues in getting into the old content and only had to remove and re-add the users for the permissions to be applied correctly.

Honestly, I really enjoyed working with MOSS. Which is good considering I’ll probably be working with it quite a bit in the near future. It’s so much more than the Content Management System I thought it was. Now I’m off to throw together my first web part.