No more Speech Server MVP

That’s right, Speech Server is no longer an MVP competency. I was checking my MVP profile yesterday and I noticed that my proficiency has been changed to Office Communication Server (OCS). I knew this was coming but I was a little surprised to see it happen so soon. I guess Microsoft is getting ready for the future.


I’m excited about the change in MVP status and I’m going to be evangelizing OCS every chance I get but I’m not going to forget my Speech Server roots. That would be like forgetting your first love. Ain’t going to happen. No way.

GotSpeech is adding new forums

When I laid out my Road-map for the Future recently I hinted that there would be changes coming to GotSpeech. If you visit our forums page you will see the first change – we’ve added a Live Communications Serve 2005 (LCS).


You have hear that Microsoft will be releasing Speech Server 2007 as part of Office Communication Server (OCS) next summer. Well, OCS is the next incarnation of Live Communications Server and it will be just one component of Microsoft’s Unified Communications solution. There are several other components that will make up the UC platform and I suggest you start reading up on each of the new technologies.


There is a lot of confusion about Unified Communications as other vendors such as Avaya and Cisco have similar or competing products (with similar names).  With so much new technology (not to mention hype) what is a developer to do?  We all love Speech Server but we can’t ignore these emerging technologies.


Where do we go? What do we learn? How will this affect our careers? Will we get left behind? Can we leverage our knowledge of Speech Server and incorporate it into all this new stuff?


Well, GotSpeech is getting involved to help clear up your questions. We want to help you cut through all of the confusion so that you won’t be left behind when UC becomes a reality. We also want to evangelise Unified Communications and help you the technical community take advantage of it.


We are not abandoning our Speech Server roots but our new goal is to help you fit your Speech Server experience into the bigger picture of Unified Communications. That is why we are starting the Live Communications Server forum and we will add forums for the other components of Unified Communications over the coming months. We will even be adding one for Speech Server 2007 when the time is right (i.e. as soon as Microsoft allows).


So tell all of your friends and help spread the news about the new forum.


 


 

The Bad Guys – the Final Chapter

The spam bot attacks have really died down so I’m changing the new member policy again.


New members no longer need admin approval before they can post. I’ve changed the registration policy so that new members choose a user name and supply their email address. GotSpeech will generate your password and email it to the address you provide. That should keep the spammers out as the email address they supply is usually bogus.


The password will be emailed as plain text so you should change your password when you first log in.


 

Speech Server Videos

Some of you may know that the domain name GotSpeech.Net originally belonged to Thom Robbins who is now with Microsoft. When Thom had this domain (before releasing it to me) he hosted some short videos that were taken at a Microsoft Speech Day event. My intentions have always been to point to that content but I lost it and also forgot about it until I stumbled on it again today. They are short videos and are for MSS 2004 but they also apply to 2004 R2.


Here are the videos with titles as Thom originally posted. Enjoy.


What are the Speech Application Settings?


What is a Preamble?


What is the Prompt Database?


Read Your Blog Demo


How to Monitor the Telephony Application Service


Testing for Speech or DTMF


 


Advanced Weblog Demo


VUI as a Presentation Layer


TIP: Enabling Prompt all Functionality


 


Speech Flow Control


Introducing the Datatable Navigator


Using Speech and Web Services


Introducing Dynamic Grammars


Speech Application Design Considerations


These links are hosted on different servers so I can’t guarrantee how long they will work.

Roadmap for the future

 

Most people know that Microsoft Speech Server will be a part of Office Communications Server 2007 (OCS). With that in mind I’ve been mapping out my strategies for adopting this technology and laying out a roadmap for how to get from MSS 2004 to OCS and Speech Server 2007. Microsoft is making a bug push towards Unified Communications and in order to keep up with that push we need to be laying the groundwork now.

The first thing we need to do is make sure that we are proficient in the current technologies that will evolve into OCS. As for me, I have a good working knowledge of the current version of Speech Server as well as the 2007 version which is in private beta. I’ve been using MSS 2007 for a year now and I’ve watched it grow and evolve into a great product. So when it comes to the current technologies I’m concentrating my efforts on Live Communications Server 2005 (LCS). To meet my goals I’ve obtained the Enterprise Deployment Labs and Tools CDs for LCS from Microsoft. To be honest MS sent me those and in so many words told me to get myself certified so I’ll be working through those over the next month or so.

The next thing on my list will be to setup a lab environment and start messing with the OCS beta bits. I haven’t downloaded them yet but I have been participating in the beta conversations and reading everything I can get my hands on. I’ve added all of the blogs dealing with LCS/OCS/UC that I can find to my reading list. I also plan on meeting with the OCS group when I’m in Redmond for the MVP Summit next March. The biggest hurdle here for me is not learning something new but rather the hardware costs involved to setup a working environment. I suspect I’ll be relying heavily on Virtual PCs for this.

We only have about 7 months or so until OCS is released (that’s a guess because no date has been announced). The short time frame will demand an aggressive schedule but I (we) have to be ready. This means that I’ll have to put some other projects on the back burner for now but it will be worth it. I’ll be talking about this subject more over the coming weeks and months.

 

What are you doing to prepare yourself for the road ahead?

More on the bad guys.

As I wrote about in “The bad Guys make it tough for all of us” I’ve set the site parameters so that new members need approval before they can post. I apologize for any inconveniences this may cause. I check for new members several times a day so that I can keep the approval process as short as possible.


This has cut the the spiders/bots/spammer created new members drastically. I went from getting 8-10 new members with a qawab domain a day to only one ore two a week. It has created a little more work for me but I think the effort is worth it.


I deny all new members with an email domain of qawab. If you have that as a legitimate email domain and wish to join GotSpeech then email me directly and I will approve your request.

Orcs Web

 

Shortly after the “My Apologies” post back on the 19th of October I was contacted by Jeremy Hodges from Orcs Web. Jeremy had read my post and emailed to tell me about an amazing offer that they have.  They offer a 100% free Platinum Shared Plan to all Microsoft MVPs.

The deal sounded really good so I started asking questions of Jeremy about their service.  I’ve always suspected that hosting services have their web site and signup pages on the fastest servers on the Internet but place the sites they host on slower servers. So when investigating hosting plans I ways ask for links to sites that they host. I found out that Orcs Web hosts some pretty big names such as –

   http://channel9.msdn.com/
   http://www.iis.net
   http://www.netfx3.com/
   http://forums.asp.net/
   http://simonguest.com/

Jeremy was very quick to answer all my questions and he assured me that their service and support was the best.  So, I decided to move GotSpeech.Net. I finally got the opportunity to move the site this weekend and you can read all about how that went in my “What Happened to GotSpeech?” post.

As I stated in my previous post I am very satisfied with the support I received from the web team at Orcs Web. Without their help I would have never gotten the site up and running. They were there every step of the way even into the wee hours of the morning. They went the extra mile in not only answering my questions but also doing their own investigation to see why things weren’t working properly. In fact they kept working even after I went to bed Sunday night and they resolved my problems while I slept. Thanks guys; I really needed the sleep.

You can read more about Orcs Web here but I will tell you this much; everyone I’ve exchanged emails with is and MCSE, MCP, or an MVP. These people seem to know what they are doing and I was surprised at how much they knew about Community Server 2.1 SP1.

Jeremy said I guarantee it would be a move you would not regret making.”  So far he has been right on the money.

If you are an MVP then you can follow the instructions I got from Jeremy:

By signing up for a Platinum Shared Hosting Plan and entering
promotional code ‘MVPInsider’ you will get a 100% free account. After
submitting the first page @ http://www.orcsweb.com/signup.aspx it will ask
you for credit card information–you can leave this page blank and look
forward to hearing from us shortly as we setup your account.

I’m pretty sure that with an offer like this they are doing some serious checking to make sure that you really are an MVP so be prepared to prove it. For more info you can end email to Webteam@orcsweb.com and include a link to your MVP profile.

I’m posting this using blogmailr just like Brandon did in an earlier post. Interestingly Outlook wouldn’t let me add a hyperlink to “blogmailr” as it marked it as a misspelled word. I had to correct the spelling, add the hyperlink and then change the spelling back.

 

 

What happened to GotSpeech?

Well, being the observant people that you are I ‘m sure you have noticed the new look and feel of GotSpeech. Frankly, I don’t like it but I’m glad to be back on line after the wild weekend we had.


As you probably already know we moved our hosting this weekend. Well, things didn’t go so well. I requested a database backup Saturday evening which I got it around 10:00 PM EST. I had previously copied all of the files to the new host so after the support folks at the new host restored the database I pointed the DNS to the new IP.


Things didn’t work. After many emails with tech support and then copying the files again I finally went to bed at 3:00 AM with the system still down. We were getting event log errors about files and components not found even though they were present.


Sunday afternoon I called Brandon for a conference and we decided to install the newest version of Community Server. So I had tech support delete all the files while I downloaded and extracted the new version. I then copied the new site to the host and had tech support run the SQL update scripts. It still didn’t work. o after careful examination I found that the CS download hadn’t properly extracted all of it’s files so while the directories existed much of the .aspx files were missing.  I fixed that problem but it still didn’t work so I gave up and went to bed (remember I only had 4 hours sleep).


This morning I hit the site and it looks like what you are seeing now. We still have to get the ads installed, the themes working and all of the colors back etc. but at least it is usable so I’m happy. We will work through all of the other things in the coming days.


I really want to thank the team at ORCS Web for the great effort that they put in this weekend. I especially want to thank David Weber and Jeremy Hodges for all that they have done. There were some others involved but I don’t have their names so I’ll try to add them later.


In the meantime enjoy the site and pleas bear with us as we finish things up.

The bad guys make it tough for all of us

Recently we have had a rash of new users with email addresses using qawab.com for their domain. None of these users have posted anything or even visited after they signed up.  I’ve also been receiving a lot of spam at my email address on GotSpeech.Net. A little investigation (means I Googled) shows that these two things are related. They are evidently created by bots for some purpose but I’m sure they are up to no good.


So…I’ve banned the offending user accounts and I have temporarily set the new user roles up so that all new users need admin approval.  I will do my best to monitor and stay on top of new member registrations so that they can get approved as soon as possible. Perhaps in a week or so after these attempts stop I can remove the approval requirement.


I don’t like doing this and it is something that I have managed to avoid for 8 months now but I have to stop this. Please bear with me for a few days then hopefully we can get back to normal.


Note: I have one more domain that I’m investigating and I may have to ban it also.

Announcement – Please Read

Most of you probably know that GotSpeech has had some problems with our hosting that have caused us to be off-line at times. I’ve been searching for new hosting and I have found a hosting site that I think can keep us up and grow with us.


I will be moving our hosting starting around 9:00 PM EST this coming Saturday (11/11). I will request a full backup of the current database from tech support at my current hosting. Once I have that I will upload it to the new host and request that they restore it.


Once the database is restored I’ll point both the old website and the new website to the database then point the DNS to the new host. This will allow both sites to be live while the DNS changes propagate. Once everyone is hitting the new site I will take down the old site. If everyone will refrain from posting or joining during this time then nothing will be lost in the transition.


I tried to move the site this past weekend but it took 20 hours from the time I requested the database backup until it was done so I had to abort.


Once we are up on the new host I’ll reveal the new host’s identity. I won’t be disclosing who the current host so no point in asking.


Thanks for sticking with us and cooperating during the move.