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Month: December 2005

The Big Picture

Late December is always a serious time of reflection and introspection for me – when I review the year that is ending and take stock of where I am in life.  It seems to occur at this time of year for a lot of reasons – one, coming off of the holidays, usually exhausted and almost burnt out with the office and trying to get through all of the necessary holiday preparations, and having spent time with family and friends that I don’t see near often enough.  Two – the coming end of the calendar year seems to inspire reflection.  And three – throw in to the mix that my birthday is New Year’s Eve just seems to amplify the inherent need to take stock.  To be brutally honest, it is usually a rough, sobering and somewhat depressing experience each year – admittedly in no small part to the fact that I am consistently overly self-critical (or so I’ve been told).

This year is different from the rest – because it is probably the most difficult, most sobering, most confusing year-end experience I’ve encountered to date.  On top of everything else, this year is different because I am hitting a milestone – I’m turning 30 – and I am looking at what I’ve accomplished over the past decade.  Secondly, tragedy struck a few days ago when one of our clients – and someone whom I’ve known for about 15 years – died completely unexpectedly of a massive coronary at the prime age of 52.

So on one hand, I find myself reviewing not only the last year, but the last decade of my life – taking stock, trying to determine if I made a difference.  On the other hand, I’m looking at a life cut short and facing my own mortality, and wondering how my life would be summed up if it were to end tomorrow.  And to be brutally honest, I don’t know how to answer that . . .

I love what I do.  It is safe to say that technology is my life’s passion – often times I surprise myself when I can get so immersed in a project that I literally lose hours of time – being completely unaware that I’ve been working on the project for that long.  I always want to know more, understand new products and technologies while keeping on top of the products and technologies I’m already familiar with.  The bright side is that our customers reap the benefits, and I derive great joy from that.  As the saying goes, if you love what you do, then you’ll never work a day in your life – and I consider myself extremely lucky to not have to work, but to be able to do what I do day in and day out.

The not-so-bright side is that I don’t balance well . . .  Even when dealing with technology, I’m much better diving deep into one project and staying there until it is done, than trying to juggle multiple things at once.  When dealing with life, I have a very bad tendency to get lost in my work – and have absolutely no life as a result. 

So, the challenge at hand is to try to bring my big picture into focus – to determine if I’m on the right path, or if I need to make drastic changes.  While I’ll admit that I’m a bit confused and disoriented in this task at the moment, there are a few things that I’m completely sure of:  I have a great, close-knit family, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity call some amazing people friends, and most importantly – no matter what tomorrow brings – it is a gift and a blessing . . .  

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue . . .

And no, I’m not getting married . . .    this is about the msmvps.com upgrade to Community Server . . . 

It’s actually been quite a process that has taken a few months.  Originally, msmvps.com was on a shared server at a web host – which quite honestly served us well for the first couple years.  However, everyone might have noticed that a few months ago we starting having problems with the blogs going down.  We determined there were multiple factors at play – first, both the web application and the MS SQL back end were on shared servers – and as you can imagine, msmvps.com gets a decent amount of traffic on a daily basis.  Second, it seemed that as our traffic was continually increasing, .Text just was having a hard time keeping up. 

SO – Susan talked to Vlad at OwnWebNow about hosting msmvps.com, and we stood up a dedicated server just for us.  Shortly thereafter, Nick and I moved the .Text blogs from the previous web host over to the brand-spanking-new dedicated server.  This was an event in itself, because it wasn’t quite a planned migration.  Not that we hadn’t planned on doing it anyway – but we hit an afternoon a little over a month ago where the blogs were down, and weren’t coming back up – so we decided to pull the trigger and move NOW     So within a few hours, the blogs were up and running again, this time on a new server on the opposite coast . . .  they were just still running  .Text

That brings us to this weekend.  While the blogs were much more stable and responsive on the new server, .Text still wasn’t quite keeping up – to the point where if you could have looked behind the scenes, you would have seen that we had a decent amount of duct tape and bailing wire holding everything together    We had installed Community Server 1.1 and did a test migration, and things went rather well.  We were holding out for Community Server 2.0 since we originally heard it was supposed to RTM in December.  Well, this last week we found out that the CS 2.0 release was pushed back a couple months, and decided that we just couldn’t wait that long.  SO – Saturday was the big day.  I took the blogs offline at 2:30pm CST (8:30pm GMT) and started the migration process.  The blogs were offline for approximately 5 hours as we migrated from .Text to Community Server 1.1, and made necssary configuration changes and redirects.  The redirects were the key – because with Community Server our URLs changed.  With .Text, my blog was at  msmvps.com/cgross  but with Community Server, it is at msmvps.com/blogs/cgross.   Naturally, with over 220 blogs on the site, we didn’t want to break all of countless links that exist on other web sites, google groups, etc. pointing back to our blogs – so we configured the redirects so that everyone can still use the old URLs and still get to the content in the new location.

SO – the blogs came back online, and we’ve spent the last few hours tweaking and tuning the Community Server application to make sure it’s behaving the way we want it to.  So far, so good.  But I’m sure we’ll definitely be fine-tuning things over the next few weeks.

Now, let’s see how we stacked up:

Something Old . . .   Check    We’ve actually got several items in this category – an old web host, two old shared servers, and an old blog engine.

Something New . . .    Check.    We’ve got a new dedicated server at a new web host now running a new blog engine.

Something Borrowed . . .    Check.    Time . . . the .Text blogs were running on borrowed time.  For the record, so I am at the moment.  I’m heading to bed for some much needed sleep as soon as I get this posted.

Something Blue . . .    Check.   My blog skin.  It’s not the same one I had on .Text.  Now, I really liked my old skin (Cognition) – but alas, it’s not currently available for Community Server, so I had to go with something different.

Anyway – the big steps are done, and here’s hoping that from here on out msmvps.com is happy, healthy, stable and meets all of your MVP blogging needs!  

Repairing Office 2003

So, have you ever wondered how Microsoft Office 2003 determines if it needs to repair itself when you run Detect & Repair? 

“A new spreadsheet, Office 2003 Keypaths.xls, is available now in the Office 2003 Resource Kit. This spreadsheet documents the keypaths for each Office feature, listing the feature name, component name and ID, the folder into which the component is installed, and the keypath associated with the component.”