Speculation – Further attempted fixes to WSS 2.0 Full Text Search

So the current situation is that despite my past posts about fixes to WSS 2.0/2003 Full Text Search, both my QA and Production environments have Full Text Search enabled, but are/were only returning results for content that pre-existed the fixes.

The Full Text Index actually existed in the SQL Server Content Database (for WSS content), and the MS Search service was running properly on the SQL Server.

Reviewing the best discussion of this sort of thing that I know for steps I might have left out,  I found out that even though WSS 2.0/2003 says it’s got Full Text Search enabled, it may not in fact be enabled.

So you go to SharePoint Central Administration, then click the Windows SharePoint Services link on the left side nav bar, and then click the “Configure Full Text Services” link and even though the checkbox is already enabled, click “OK” anyway, and let the changes be applied and go check the functionality of your search against new content.

Update: This only ended up working for me in our QA environment, which is apparently different in this respect from our Production environment (still b0rked). Oh well, there may be a call to MS support in my future if I continue to be stumped.

And scarily, for me, Full Text Search started working properly, even with new content.

Using UNC Paths to access the “directory structure” in SharePoint 2003 – Requires WebClient service running on your client computer

So for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why on some computers I could use a UNC path to get to SharePoint sites’ resources, and on others I could. Now I think I finally have the answer.

The mechanism is that if you have a WSS site (and Admin privs on that site) at a URL/URI like: http://server/sites/testsite1/, you should be able to open Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer) and open its UNC path: \\server\sites\testsite1\. If you so so, in Explorer, you should be able to see the full “directory structure” (I put this in quotes because it doesn’t actually exist, but is a figment of your, SharePoint’s and SQL Server’s imaginations), including directory names like “_catalogs”, “_fpdatasources”, “_private”, the ever popular “images”, a directory for non-Document Library, non-Picture Library lists called “Lists”, a folder for each sub-site and a folder for each Document Library or Picture Library, various aspx pages, etc.

Using this UNC Path view, you can do normal file operations, but do be careful, since if you delete a file you probably can’t get it back.

Anyhow, I’d been finding that sometimes this UNC path worked in Explorer and sometimes it didn’t. It didn’t appear to be related to a particular user permissions set or domain login account, but changed computer to computer.

Here’s the error message I’d get when it didn’t work (click to see full size):

WebClient Error
Here’s the kind of folder structure I’d see when it did work (click to see full size):

UNC View
It turned out, after trial and error, that the real difference here was that one computer I was using was running the WebClient service (where the connection worked), and the other wasn’t (where the connection did not).

No, I couldn’t easily find it documented on Microsoft’s support sites.

IE7 Running Fine

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 is out as of some time this week. It’s kinda slick. I don’t know if it’s necc’ly better than Firefox 1.5.0.7 (and I haven’t tried out Firefox’s 2.0 betas), but it seems to work pretty well and seems a bit more secure (esp. about expired/unverified SSL certs) with respect to explicitly helping users figure out whether where they’re going is where they think they’re going, and other such things.

Anyway, good start, despite already having a security vulnerability.

Works okay with SharePoint 2003 and with OWA 2003.

I’ll report more on it as I have the experience to do so.

Laptop/Notebook Hotfixes for MS Virtual PC 2004 SP1

So as you may know, Microsoft and many SharePoint dev houses swear by doing development on Virtual PCs/Virtual Servers. The reason for this boils down to the fact that when you are debugging a SharePoint Web Part with Visual Studio 2003, you have to connect to the active w3wp.exe process that IIS is using and have your debugger work with that. This single-threads that process and halts/pauses it as you explore the reflected data structure states/etc.

I.e. SharePoint development doesn’t share well. I.e. Two developers trying to share the same server, while one is debugging, is ugly and crass and doesn’t belong in Kindergarten.

So the fix is to give each developer her/his own VPC to do with as he/she likes.

Anyhow, if you are doing this via Microsoft VPC 2004 SP1 (free for download these days, by the way), and you happen to be using it on a laptop/notebook, you need a hotfix (Microsoft KB 889677). If you happen to be using a laptop/notebook that’s using Intel’s 915 Chipset (i.e. some forms of Centrino chipsets), you need an additional hotfix (Microsoft KB 899525). I hear that Tablet PC owners may need a different one.

Add to this pain that you have to either find some place to download the patches that’s illicit or ask Microsoft support for the patches (i.e. risk some idiot deciding to charge you for it). I managed to find a non-Microsoft source for the hotfixes, but if you do the same, do what you can to be paranoid and cautious about the hotfixes you didn’t get from Microsoft – the reason it’s a good idea to get it from Microsoft directly is that you’re reasonably sure someone isn’t slipping you a trojan horse or something worse instead of the actual patch.

Anyhow, after installing the additional patches, VPC is flying compared to previously.

Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh (B2TR) and the “The file is not available.” error.

After I applied the Technical Refresh updates to my Office 2007 Beta 2 installs, I started getting this error whenever I tried to open a file with an Office 2007 application (either by double-clicking within the Windows Explorer file list, or by opening the file from within the application):

The file Testing.docx is not available.

So I asked Uncles Google and Live and came up with the comments to Jensen Harris’ blog post about Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh. In it, a Phil Wright asks about this very same problem. In a comment immediately following is the answer. Apparently the Norton Antivirus Office Plugin is interfering, returning an error code on document scan, which Office then interprets as a virus detection. To fix it you can try to update Norton via Norton’s LiveUpdate (I tried, to no effect), or you can reduce your system’s overall security by disabling the Norton Office plugin. Instructions for older versions of Norton are available in Microsoft KB 329820. In Norton Internet Security 2006 (my version), I opened the Norton status window, then chose Options -> Norton Antivirus, and among the tabs found an option to disable the Office plugin.
This worked fine for me.

Office 2007 Beta 2 Reinstall Troubles

Somehow, while uninstalling and reinstalling various bits of Office 2003 and Office 2007 (license/product key management – I am now entirely converted over to my workplace’s Office 2003 Enterprise licenses – this enables me to run my workplace’s Infopath), I have managed to screw up my ability to install Office 2007 Beta 2 and Office 2007 Beta 2 TR2.

Error Screenshot
The error reads:

Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007 (Beta) encountered an error during setup.
Error 2711: An internal error has occurred. (GraphicsFiltersCDRFilesIntl_1033 )

This error happened while trying to reinstall/uninstall any of the Beta 2 Office 2007 products.

Asking Uncles Google and Live, I found an interesting pointer.

I’ll quote these sources entirely, since the cached article may or may not work in the long term:

  1. From Sue Mosher – Outlook MVP:
    She quotes an article I couldn’t get to come up, but here’s the quote from her in full:
    New information from the Readme at http://officebeta.iponet.net/en-us/products/FX101517941033.aspx#1:Setup fails with Error 2711. An internal error has occurred. (FeatureName)This is usually caused by having a previous or newer version of an Office12 product installed on the machine. Ensure all builds of Office12 products that do not match the build numebr of the product being installed are removed from the machine then attempt the install again.In some cases it has been found that if a newer build has been run over an older build, that after removal of the older builds there is still data remaining in the registry and the MsoCache from the older build. If this is the case follow these steps to clear out the information:1. Open regedit
    2. Browse to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Office\Delivery\SourceEngine\Downloads
    3. Remove any key that ends in 0FF1CE}
    4. Open C:\MsoCache\All Users
    5. Delete any folder that ends in 0FF1CE}-C
  2. Not finding this information particularly helpful, and reading onward, finding that others didn’t necessarily find it helpful, I moved on, and found this:
    From LelandBartlett:Hi,I had the same error: Error 2711 GraphicsFiltersCDRFilesIntl_1033 when i tried to reinstall office 2007 Beta 2. I did all the recommendations above, plus maybe even more, but still no luck. I have this shareware program; CCLeanup, it has a tool section which is similar to Windows Add/Remove programs; however, even though I removed office 2007, there were 4 programs relating to office 2007 which did not show up in the windows add/remove programs. Three were related to language proofing (3 seperate languages), the other was a MUI for office 2007 beta. I noticed OneNote had it’s own install of a MUI. I ran the uninstall tool with CCLeanup, got rid of each of the four, just rand MS Office 2007 Professional Plus Beta 2 install, it now went in fine.

The tool’s name turns out to be CCleaner, and I checked around with various spyware/malware lists to make reasonably sure it really is free and ad-free (the Wikipedia article on Spyware is a good starting place if you’re doing your own research about programs that might be or you suspect might be adware/spyware). It looks good.

Also? It worked. Do as LelandBartlett says and you should be able to reinstall Office 2007 Beta 2 should you need to. Uninstall everything you can the conventional way, then use CCleaner to uninstall the last 4 components that Microsoft apparently forgot about.

What is wrong with you Microsoft Only people? – Checksum utilities for verifying large files

So today I am downloading the 2007 Office Beta 2 installs (and whoever heard of paying $1.50 for 5 download tries? I sort of understand, but if it were really just covering bandwidth fees, I should think it would be a lot lower). I note that the download listings/product key e-mails do not come with checksums for these large files.

The files are all in the 75 MiB – 250 MiB range. In UNIX-land, people would as part of the normal posting process just provide checksums. But in Windows-land apparently this is not done. Why not?

Checksums are extremely useful for making sure that the bits you expected to transfer over the network are the ones you got. You can see that this would be useful for both file content verification in the sense of “did I lose any bits along the way that would corrupt my install and can I know it before trying to install and have it fail?” But it’s also useful in the sense of making sure that the bits you want me to download are the same ones I want to get, and assuring that no 3rd party attackers did a man-in-the-middle attack, substituting trojan horses and other nasty things into the install instead. Okay, granted, private key encryption technology would be better than a simple checksum, but a checksum would still be better than nothing, which is what I get when I pay $1.50 to download the damned things.

With that in mind, let me introduce you to NullRiver’s winMd5Sum. This is a free and easy to use utility that allows you to create MD5 checksums on files and also to compare pre-generated checksums to the ones you generate on your end to check the download. Go use it. You’ll like it. While you’re at it, tell your download hosts (Microsoft too, please) that you’d like it if they’d start using it or some similar process to help you verify your large file downloads.

For posterity, I’m going to post the MD5 checksums I’ve got so far for my Office 2007 Beta 2 downloads (from Microsoft via the License Technology Group) [This assumes that each binary isn’t especially constructed for each product key – I guess we’ll see]:

  • Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007 – OFS32-EN.IMG – 14,796,544 bytes – MD5: 4ba65c890b6c86158666b41c3652d2bb
  • Microsoft Office Groove 2007 – OG-EN.EXE – 220,111,048 bytes – MD5: ba497c8610ae774b4f3af92755e83bf7 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 – OON-EN.EXE – 231,814,328 bytes – MD5: 95750f6b8c48c602b39c4b1271913398 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager – BCM-EN.EXE – 252,769,672 bytes – MD5: 9cb44475cfbbbebb7c84eced9ef6e437 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007 – OPPLUS-EN.EXE – 461,881,224 bytes – MD5: 7fc65a38b6bd9dce0563afea2c5b9a93 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office Project Professional 2007 – OPP-EN.EXE – 210,237,736 bytes – MD5: 50c1f917637de95c9aa72114e6385acb [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 – SPD-EN.EXE – 236,994,544 bytes – MD5: 94fe6551b52ef1d38556d76677966073 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 – Enterprise – SPS32-EN.IMG – 308,555,776 bytes – MD5: 0db4750dd73faca499fc5df95c7f63b3
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for Search – OSS-EN.IMG – 231,387,136 bytes – MD5: c1c2b5ed9c0a31c48fb59afe3fb29919
  • Microsoft Office Visio Professional 2007 – OVP-EN.EXE – 293,966,312 bytes – MD5: 4259e1f323509e8392143e20416490f5 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services [v3] – SharePoint_setup.exe – 78,849,224 bytes – MD5: 51cd9f824bb5b6bfc90b96f0de956a1b

This is the complete list of the downloads I paid for.

Also, FYI, here is the link for the Beta 2 Technical Refresh download.

Here’s the file info for that download:

  • Microsoft Office 2007 Beta Two Technical Refresh – office2007b2tr-kb000000-fullfile-en-us.exe – 518,733,856 bytes – MD5: 9ad077c27fb279516b8636e43c3e0463 [Works fine]

I haven’t verified that all of these files work, but I have verified that the total file size is the same as was originally reported when I initiated the download, which is as close as you can get without MD5 or other checksum tools. I’ll note by striking the item out if for some reason the download is corrupt. Also, when I say [Works fine], I mean that it installed fine with all options installed to run on the drive. I won’t say that the actual programs installed worked fine, as they are in Beta.

Server Accounts, Changing them, Permissions Issues – Followup

In my previous post (opens in new window), I said I’d let you know how it went. Turns out for various reasons we didn’t get around to testing my assertions until this morning.

It went fine. I was right about what was broken and what needed fixing. The implementation of the fix and the continued procedure to change the rest of the service accounts in the QA lab went off without a hitch, so soon, we get to do it Production too.

Product Testimony – Acronis TrueImage 9.x

I don’t do Product plugs/testimonies for kickback, but only because/when products seem to truly deserve accolades.

Anyway, the version of Acronis TrueImage that I own is the Home version, but based on that, I’d definitely consider it for enterprise use too.

TrueImage is a disk imaging tool, and item-by-item recovery tool as well. You can back up an entire partition to a compressed archive and later, if you wish, mount the archive as a logical device, browse it and restore only what you wish. It features data verification, partition information restores, etc. It seems also to handle backup/restore cycles to disparate sizes (including downsizing, assuming the target device has enough room for the actual storage required by the files in the archive) gracefully and well.

Like any utility of this nature, you’re probably not going to use it day to day unless restoring disk images is 25% or more of your job description, but it’s very useful to have when you need it, and a good all-around way to keep a backup of, say, your system drive on, say, an external USB drive, in case you need it.

Since it also does both Full and Incremental operations, you can conceivably update your backups as often as once a day or more often.

This would even, with some training and relatively clueful users, be a good way to manage data/system recovery on a per-user basis, I think.

I’m very happy with it.