My career in technology

This blog has some content meant for general audiences, and some content that is extremely technical. This post is meant to help guide you to getting the most out of my blog, depending on your needs.

(Alternatively you can use the categories links on the right-hand side of the page)
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I’ll start with the apology

For my readers asking questions in the comments lately, I haven’t been responsive as work has me VERY busy.  I am currently simultaneously migrating from SharePoint 2007 to 2013, migrating our ERP system, and defining our business processes (notice I didn’t say “redefining”).

And to my readers who expect more than just the occasional “here is where I am speaking and by the way here is an apology for not posting more” post, I offer the same.

I promise when things settle down a little I will dedicate more time to helping you via the blog.

In the meantime, here is where you can accost me for not being more bloggy:

SharePoint Saturday Houston, on April 11 (that is THIS Saturday!)
SharePoint Group Therapy – A SharePoint Governance Workshop

Do your users complain about the usability of your SharePoint? Do you suffer from site proliferation? Rights management issues? Content inaccuracy and staleness? Can you easily tell who owns the content of a particular site or list? Is your SharePoint out of control?

Then you might benefit from SharePoint Group Therapy.

At the very least, this session will give you a free hour of group therapy, as you will have a chance to vent about your (SharePoint) problems in a roomful of sympathetic listeners.
I’ll play therapist and help move participants past their trauma and regain a sense of control through Governance.

This session is structured as a workshop. Since the goal of therapy is to actually make things better, you should bring your questions and be prepared to share personal experiences regarding SharePoint governance (and its absence) and aligning your business objectives with SharePoint.  I’ll try to help you get answers.

  • What problems are you having in your current environment?
  • What fears do you have about implementing governance?
  • What fears do you have about implementing SharePoint?

We’ll talk about roles and responsibilities, stakeholder involvement, and when to fit your organizational culture, and when to change it using both carrots and sticks – training, enforcement and business alignment.
Business alignment can be seen as the marriage of IT and business objectives. Every marriage has its rocky moments, and sometimes a therapist is needed to resolve those issues. Perhaps your marriage could benefit from a little SharePoint Group Therapy?

San Antonio SharePoint User Group, April 21
SharePoint Group Governance 101

What does governance mean in SharePoint? How do you get to good governance? Do you really need governance? What happens if you don’t have governance, or do it poorly?

Bring your questions and I will bring my experience building SharePoint governance in multiple organizations. We’ll discuss governance basics and help get you going in the right direction.

(Unlike the “Group Therapy” session, this is a straight-up presentation, though the Q&A at the end can be used by the audience to ask their specific questions)

SPBiz Conference, June 17, 4-5 PM EST
SharePoint Group Governance 101

Can’t make it to San Antonio this month? SPBiz is online

What does governance mean in SharePoint? How do you get to good governance? Do you really need governance? What happens if you don’t have governance, or do it poorly?

I will bring my experience building SharePoint governance in multiple organizations. We’ll discuss governance basics and help get you going in the right direction.

(This session will be prerecorded, with no Q&A. However, the live chat feature will allow you to ask questions which I will try to type answers to.)

Speaking of prerecorded presentations:
Movin’ On Up – A SharePoint Migration Case Study from SP24

Our SharePoint environment is a lot like many others – a SharePoint 2007 implementation that was used more as a file dump than a collaboration space. With minimal user adoption, we were never quite ready to implement 2010, with a pilot SharePoint 2010 implementation stalled out of the gate.

In the meantime, some content was put on Box and other services to address external collaboration needs. Business users needed more relevant search results, content databases had grown uncomfortably large, and access controls had become spaghetti. Fortunately, site sprawl wasn’t too bad… except that the reason for that was the low adoption.

SharePoint 2013 arrived to a perfect storm – business and technology needs to be addressed, content that needs to be brought back in-house, and user adoption that needs to be improved. Time to upgrade!

See how we approached the upgrade, the issues than needed to be addressed, and the questions that needed to be answered.

SP24 was a 24-hour online SharePoint conference. My recorded presentation (along with access to the resources mentioned in the presentation) is here for you to view at your convenience. You will need to register to gain access to the session room.

But wait, that’s still not all!

I have been invited to speak in Washington DC in early June and Raleigh in October. Arrangements for these are being worked out – I’ll let you know if the stars align properly!

Check out the lineup of other speakers too!

Hi Jim,

The next SharePoint Conference, SPTechCon, is coming up Feb 8-11 in rockin’ Austin Texas! Registration is open now, and until November 7 it costs just $1,095 for four days of SharePoint awesomeness!

Here’s the initial lineup of classes and speakers
all thoroughly vetted for technical and communications excellence!!

Read the rest of this entry »

For 24 hours starting April 16, you will have no opportunity to sleep as 96 presenters, myself included, provide you with four tracks each with 24 one-hour SharePoint goodness.

I’ll once again be presenting Movin’ On Up – A SharePoint Migration Case Study. You may have already seen me present this in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, or online on SharePoint ShopTalk. But as the migration project is ongoing, I’ve learned new things, so there is a lot of new material that has been added since the earliest version of the presentation.

Here is my promo video for SP24:

Another thing that makes this session cool is that it will be pre-recorded, not live. (Half of the sessions will be pre-recorded, the other half will be live presentations.)  So why is THAT cool? Because, while virtual me is talking about the migration plans, real-live me will be available to answer questions real-time. It will be like being in two places at once, getting twice as much done. Heck, it’s even better than having a clone, because you’d have to feed the clone!

If you aren’t one of the over 4000 people who have already signed up, you can do that here.

Did I mention that SP24 is FREE?!?!?

See you at SP24!

I’ve been pretty busy, learning the ropes at my new employer, finishing my book, and preparing yet again for a migration from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2013.

It is that last one that is making me even more busy.

I’ll be in Houston on February 19 at the Houston SharePoint User Group giving an updated version of my talk, Movin’ On Up – A SharePoint 2013 Migration Case Study.  In Houston?  Sign up HERE.

The following week, I’ll be in San Antonio for the San Antonio SharePoint User Group to do it again. In San Antonio on the 25th?  Sign up HERE.

The week after that is the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas.  If you’ll be there, let me know and I’d love to meet up with you!

And the week after that, we roll out SharePoint 2013 to the users here at Dynamic Systems.

And after that?  Publication of my book.


LinkedIn has started to push interactivity to its users beyond just checking in weekly on the new connections that your connections have added.

LinkedIn is now encouraging you to say “Congratulations” within 24 hours of when your connections make a change to their current job or job title.  But congratulations are not always in order.

Sometimes, your connection has just gotten around to updating their profile – they have had the job for two years and are prepping their profile to make the jump to a less miserable environment.  (Hmmm, maybe that is a reason for congratulations, anyway!)

Other times, their change in status is prompted by a job loss, and their new role as “Consultant” is what they are doing to scrape by until they find their next “real job”.

LinkedIn also encourages you to congratulate your connections on their work anniversaries.  One of my connections hasn’t updated his profile in a while, so his “work anniversary” was for an employer he hadn’t been at for years.

I think there is great value in interacting with your network over job changes, and to a lesser extent over work anniversaries.  Every contact, however small, reinforces the connections you have made, making your network just a little stronger, a little more valuable (to yourself and the rest of your network, too!).  It shows you are paying attention, and gives an indication that you care.  For those of my connections who have put their birthday on their profiles, I have taken the step of sending them a short note saying “Happy birthday”,  wishing them well on a day that means more to them than a work anniversary.

However, in order for these kinds of interactions to provide value, in order to prevent yourself from looking stupid, rubbing salt in a fresh wound, or otherwise committing a social faux pas, you have to PAY ATTENTION.  You need to be aware of where the people in your network are, and check to see whether the change is something to congratulate them on, or to ask them how you can help.

I wanted to let everyone know about upcoming events and apologize for being so silent for a while around here.

There is a reason for this (and I’ll share a secret about it after the cut), but first I want to give you a look at the things I have coming up.

  • Innotech Austin, Wednesday October 16
  • SharePoint Shop Talk, Thursday October 17
  • American Heart Association Austin Heart Walk 2013, Saturday October 19
  • SharePoint Saturday Dallas, Saturday November 2

Details and a secret shared after the cut… Read the rest of this entry »

I recently had an opportunity to lead an effort to create an upgrade plan for a company that was on SharePoint 2007 and wanted to take advantage of the features of SharePoint 2013.

Last night, at the Austin SharePoint User Group meeting, I presented an overview of the process of creating the plan, as well as a look at some of the plan documents – the proposed project schedule, recommended security options, system and information architecture recommendations, and lists of decisions the governance committee and other stakeholders would need to make.

The presentation went very well, particularly because the audience of about 30 had excellent questions during and after the presentation, which led to some lively discussion.

The Title

Movin’ On Up came from the theme song from the television show The Jeffersons.  The 1970’s situation comedy was about an affluent Black family who moved into a more upper-class neighborhood than they had been living in previously. Much of the show revolved around characters not really knowing how to deal with their new neighbors. They were used to things being a certain way, and were uncomfortable adapting to the changes introduced by the Jeffersons’ newfound upward mobility.

Similarly, I felt that the client was going to have some discomfort during the upgrade process, as the users got used to new ways of doing things, and dealing with change. Consequently, a significant portion of the middle of the presentation is a rough draft of a presentation for the kickoff meeting with the stakeholders, to get them onboard with the upgrade plans and invested in its success.

The Presentation

If you have any questions or comments, ask in the comments below!

Upcoming Presentations

I have two upcoming presentations in Austin.

On August 14th, I will be presenting Movin’ On Up – A SharePoint 2013 Migration Case Study at the Austin SharePoint User Group

Zachry’s SharePoint environment is a lot like many others – invested in a customized SharePoint 2007 implementation, and was never quite ready to implement 2010.

In the meantime, some content was put on SharePoint Online to address external collaboration needs, and a pilot SharePoint 2010 implementation became the official records center. Business users needed more relevant search results, content databases had grown uncomfortably large, and access controls had become spaghetti. Fortunately, site sprawl wasn’t too bad… except the reason for that was low adoption.

SharePoint 2013 arrived to a perfect storm – business and technology needs to be addressed, content that needs to be brought back in-house, and user adoption that needs to be improved. Time to upgrade!

See how Zachry approached the upgrade, the issues than needed to be addressed, and the questions that needed to be answered.

Wednesday October 16th at Innotech Austin I will be presenting on at topic aimed at business users, TBD – I will either be running my SharePoint Group Therapy Governance Workshop, or I will be presenting a demo of BCS for Business Users.

I hope to see you there!

More posts about SharePoint.


The secret to prevailing in a job interview is to remember one simple fact.

There is only one job.  You have only ever had one job, and (as far as I can tell) you’ll only ever have one job.

Read the rest of this entry »

After talking with a job seeker the other day, I asked for his card so I could keep in touch with him. He replied that his company didn’t give its employees business cards. He didn’t have a personal business card either.

I was asking for his card because I had spoken with him a couple of months before, and he took my card and said he would contact me so I could pass job leads to him. But I didn’t hear from him, and I had no way to initiate contact with him, so he missed a couple of good leads.

I realized that not everyone has been taught the value of a business card – their own personal business card – to their career.

Read the rest of this entry »

A week to go until SharePoint Saturday Houston 2013, and I have been selected as a speaker!

Once again, I’ll be presenting SharePoint Group Therapy – A SharePoint Governance Workshop.

Bring your SharePoint governance issues and questions, we’ll work as a group to resolve your issues and help you gain control and drive user adoption.

Business alignment can be seen as the marriage of IT and business objectives. Every marriage has its rocky moments, and sometimes a therapist is needed to resolve those issues. Perhaps your marriage could benefit from a little SharePoint Group Therapy?

See you in Houston!


A user tries to open an InfoPath form in the application instead of the browser, and get an error message:


The user can open the file in the browser just fine, and has been able to open the forms previously with no problem. User is able to download the form to their desktop and open the form in InfoPath. But when they try to open the form in the application from the context menu, the above error is shown.

In researching the error, I found a support posting that provided a clue to the problem. In it, the user is instructed to enable Add Ons in their Internet Explorer:

  1. Go to Tools in IE, click Internet Options
  2. Click Programs at the top
  3. Click “Manage add-ons” near the bottom
  4. Click Publisher, then you can see all of Microsoft Corporation together
  5. Scroll to SharePoint names (May be one or several)
  6. Make sure they are all enabled by clicking on the name; the Enable button is towards the bottom.
  7. Then click OK and OK and restart IE

Can you guess what the problem was?
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This is one that will come in very handy if you have users who upload documents via Explorer, but you have required metadata in the library.

That never happens in environments I work in.

In each library, there is a link under Permissions and Management in the Document Library Settings, “Manage files which have no checked in version” (In SP2007, the link is ‘Manage checked out files’.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Slides from my Lightning Talk at SharePoint Saturday Austin March 2, 2013.

Last year I learned to dislike slides, but I wanted to have the information in a format that attendees could refer back to, especially since I had to cover so much ground in so short a time.

Why do I dislike slides?
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SharePoint 2010 web server, on Windows 2008 R2. An error message appears in the server Application event log:

Source: SharePoint Foundation
EventID: 3351
Level: Critical
SQL database login for ‘SharePoint_ConfigDB’ on instance DATABASENAME failed. Additional error information from SQL Server is included below.
Login failed for user ‘NT AUTHORITY\ANONYMOUS LOGON’.

ErrorID 3351

Error message repeated once a minute.

After rebooting the server, the error went away.

I’d love to be able to explain this, or say the discovery of the solution was a result of my genius. Sadly, no. After several days deep-diving the logs and exploring the breadth and depth of the blogosphere to no avail, temporarily disabling various timer jobs that appeared in the logs just prior to the error message, and chasing dead ends, it was a power outage and a failure of the backup power supply which forced the server to be restarted and made the error disappear.

Here is a little gotcha that PowerShell and SharePoint hit me with.

PowerShell will not return an error when you assign a user account to a SharePoint web application if the user does not exist or has been entered incorrectly. However, after an IIS reset, your SharePoint site fails and returns an error.

User does not exist or Is not unique

Symptom:  SharePoint will not serve any content when you browse a site.  Instead, the site displays the following error:

Error: The user does not exist or is not unique.


Warning messages appeared in the server logs indicating that the web cache is not configured correctly: Read the rest of this entry »

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been working a lot with PowerShell recently.

Since I am just learning my way around, I have been doing a lot of really cool but really derivative scripts, or the scripts have been too requirements-specific to be of much general use and, in my opinion, to be worth posting.

But we had a requirement to upgrade Office 2007 files to the Office 2010 formats that there wasn’t a specific template that I could find with Google. Read the rest of this entry »

Say Yes – A Success Story

Another success story, again about stepping out of our comfort zones: I heard from one of my readers, Stephanie, that she just got a new job. Yay!

Even better is the story of how she got the job. I’ll let her tell the story… Read the rest of this entry »

I have a success story to share with you.  While I played a role in this story, it was Brigitta that made it happen.

She wrote this to Launch Pad Job Club:

I wanted to share a truly amazing success story!  I am still pinching myself and find this story quite unbelievable… Read the rest of this entry »

In InfoPath 2010, when adding a form field to be available as a column on the SharePoint form library (File >> Advanced Form Options >> Property Promotion >> Add), the option to make the field editable from the library is missing. Instead of a checkbox with the message “Allow users to edit data in this field by using a datasheet or properties page”, there is a message “Some options are hidden when publishing to SharePoint Portal Server 2003.”

Select Advanced form options

Option to make the field editable is replaced by a message.

The solution is pretty simple. Re-publish the form (File >> Publish >> SharePoint Server (Publish form to a SharePoint library). Do not use Quick Publish!).  As you go through the Publishing wizard, keep the selections the same to update your published file. The fourth screen will look identical to the Property Promotion dialog, but when you click Add (or Modify), the option to “Allow users to edit data in this field by using a datasheet or properties page” will be there.

Options under Publish

Option to allow editing is available

Just for fun.

SharePoint folks (at least the ones I know) tend to have a sense of humor and are entertaining to be around. Perhaps it is the intelligence needed to work with the complexity of SharePoint (a quality you share, of course), or maybe SharePoint drives people who work with it too much a bit nuts.

As Exhibit A, I give you SharePint. By dropping the “o” in SharePoint, we have a social event to follow the technically focused events like the user group meetings, SharePoint Saturdays, and other conferences. And while “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas“, what happens at SharePint ususally ends up posted all over Twitter. This year’s SharePoint Saturday San Antonio was followed by a particularly raucous SharePint. Fun times.

By contrast, Exhibit B can be experienced in the privacy of your own home (or wherever you are browsing from). Read the rest of this entry »

I have been busier of late than I could have imagined, so there has been a distinct lack of updates around here.  But I did want to let you know that I will be speaking at SharePoint Saturday San Antonio this weekend, presenting SharePoint Group Therapy (A SharePoint Governance Workshop).  This is the fourth time I’ve run this session – I’ve done it at SharePoint Satuday in Austin and Houston this year, as well as on SharePoint ShopTalk.

As in Houston, my session is right after lunch, so my challenge will be keep everyone awake.  Since the session is interactive, that shouldn’t be a problem!

See you in San Antonio!

When bulk uploading a large number of documents into SharePoint 2010, a user ran into an unexpected error.

The file *filename* is too large for the destinatoin file system.

But the maximum file size had not been changed from the default, 50 MB.  (See the file size in the error message?  Less than 10 MB.)  What is up with that? Read the rest of this entry »

When a user with contribute permissions tries to upload a .swf file to SharePoint 2010 library, they get the following error message after the upload appears to complete:

Error: Access Denied

There is a list of file types, including shockwave files, that users with Contribute permissions cannot submit to SharePoint libraries.  In order to be able to submit these files to libraries, the user has to have higher-level permissions (like Design).  But these files are not in the blocked file types list found in Central Administration (http://YourCentralAdminURL/_admin/BlockedFileType.aspx).  What gives?

I provide the answer and a PowerShell script to solve the problem. Read the rest of this entry »

Join the Conversation!

 I’ve been invited to participate as a panelist on SharePoint ShopTalk, a live, weekly interactive online discussion about all things SharePoint.  Most of the panelists are MVPs, people I respect greatly, so I take it as a great honor to be invited to join the panel.

 Come join the conversation every Thursday, from 12:30pm – 1:30pm EST.

You can also follow @SPShopTalk and join the Linkedin group.

I’ll be facilitating SharePoint Group Therapy on June 28th, and I’ll be available on the panel to answer questions as often as possible.

More posts about SharePoint.

I’m not a malware hunter by trade, but I have been called on from time to time to do a little extermination.

Sometimes, you can’t help an infection.  You visit a web page, quite innocently, and the page or an advertisement on it has been modified to take advantage of security flaws and suddenly you are fighting some nastyware.

But sometimes you get social engineered into clicking something you know you shouldn’t have clicked, and you mess yourself up.  This is what happened to one acquaintance of mine (who shall remain anonymous because it was her fault, and she feels bad enough already about it). She opened an attachment on an e-mail claiming to be from Federal Express, and her system was infected by Smart Fortress 2012.  Here is how I cleaned the system of Smart Fortress 2012.

Read the rest of this entry »

I started at the end of January with a lot of fanfare and enthusiasm, and then life pulled me in other directions for a while.  Now I’ve finally posted the next question, “How do we get started with SharePoint governance?”

Head on over to SharePointTherapist and give it a read, then weigh in with your opinion in the comments!

I started Working It Out three years ago today.

This is true in both the literal sense (starting a blog named Working It Out) and the metaphorical sense as well (for more information on that, see my recent post Don’t Just Get A Job, Build A Career (Lessons Learned Building a Career, Part Three of Infinity)).

My third year of blogging has been an exciting time. 37 new posts and pages, bringing my total to 125. Over 45,000 page views, bringing my total to 67,701 (not including the over 1000 spam clicks). A lot of great stuff happened to make those numbers happen. My series on SharePoint Governance debuted and was republished on NothingButSharePoint. The success of that series led to the creation of, by way of my SharePoint Group Therapy sessions at SharePoint Saturday Austin and SharePoint Saturday Houston. I did quite a bit of other public speaking, both on SharePoint and career management, and I wrote a lot about my presentations. The success of the Year Two post Add a Unique Auto-Incrementing Column to a SharePoint List led to two follow-up posts.  And a couple of run-ins with malware yielded two surprisingly popular posts.

When Year Two ended, only one page had over 1000 hits. Now 15 are on that list, and one of those has over 10,000 hits.  Three of those 15 were written during Year Three.  Here are those top 15 posts: Read the rest of this entry »

Not surprisingly, I tend to write about what I happen to be focused on.  Recently, my focus has been more on career management, so naturally I’m posting more about that subject at the moment.

I got my new job as a direct result of the long-term investments I have made in my career.  Specifically, the networking aspect played a big role in making this happen.

Last week, Ted, someone I knew through my networking, referred a recruiter to me.  The recruiter was looking to fill a specific position, and Ted told him to contact me because I was someone who knows people.  I helped the recruiter identify a couple of people who might be good candidates.   Hopefully we’ll find a good match, making the skills holder, the recruiter, and the client company all happy – a win, win, win, win, win scenario.  The fourth and fifth wins?  That’s me!  I get that great feeling from having helped someone (several someones!), and I have people who are grateful to me for helping them and are willing to help back.

Maybe that will pay off directly, maybe it won’t, but that doesn’t really matter.  because these people will come away from our interaction with the knowledge that I am someone to go to when they need help locating a candidate or finding a job.  And maybe that future interaction will lead to a contact that directly leads to a personal benefit, or maybe it will just help the world to be a better, happier place.

And just to demonstrate that you see what you are looking for, last week also saw a posting to the LinkedIn group for Launch Pad Job Club pointing to a little feature from LinkedIn Labs that maps your connections and their interconnectedness.  Here is my map:

My Network - Click for larger image

Mapping your connections probably won’t directly benefit you at all.  Even its indirect utility is not obvious, even to me.

Even so, I found the perspective it gave me interesting.  Looking at the map, I can’t help but see it in terms of where I am in all of this.  Obviously, since the map is about me, there I am in the center of the universe, the height of hubris.  And yet, the muddled mass on the right represents Austinites who network, and the other groups are connected to that region by… me.  I am the connector, at the center of that universe.  Or, at the very least, there is an opportunity to make myself the center.

I choose to put myself at the center by utilizing my network to help others, making it about them instead of me.  I recommend that you reach out to your network and see what help you can offer.

What do you see when you visualize your network?  Do you get value from the visualization besides perspective?

How can I help you reach your goals?

In April, I gave a presentation to the North-by-Northwest Job Clublet (NxNW) called “Don’t Just Get A Job, Build A Career”, regarding the long-term investments that I used to make a difference in managing my career successfully.

What follows is broadly what I spoke about, updated because the events that were ongoing at that moment finally did reach their conclusion.  I’ve talked about all of these things before, and they aren’t even ideas original to me, but I think it is helpful to look at these long-term strategies from the perspective of things that paid off after three years of investment.

Read the rest of this entry »

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