Tag Archives: Microsoft Office

Groove 2007 – Disable the Annoying Popup Dialog

Those of you using Groove 2007 are probably well aware of the annoying popup dialog that appears when the shift key is pressed more than once.  This issue is exacerbated when inside a remote desktop or terminal session.  Finally, I found a fix…

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/940165

To resolve this problem, follow these steps.

1. Exit Groove 2007.

2. Click Start, click Run, type regedit.

3. Locate and then click the following registry subkey:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER SOFTWAREMicrosoftOffice12.0Groove

4. If Groove does not contain an InstaGroove key, create it. To do this, point to New on the Edit menu, click Key, and then enter the name InstaGroove.

5. Click to select InstaGroove.

6. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.

7. Enter the name DisableHotkey.

8. Right-click DisableHotkey, and then click Modify.

9. Under Value data, type 1, and then click OK.

10. Exit Registry Editor.

11. Start Groove 2007.

Grrrr-oove 2007

I’m a fan of Groove 2007, I use it almost every day as part of my day job.  The synchronization concept is great, I can write documents,  and other members of my team collaborate on my changes in real time without waiting for me to check in my changes.  When I’m away from the Internet my changes are stored on my laptop and then synchronized with my team once I connect up again.  I never have to worry about having the latest version of a document whenever I go offline.  Furthermore, Groove integrates nicely with SharePoint, so those “non-Groove” team members can also read my documents.

So, why the hint at a complaint in the title?  Sadly, there are just a few too many things wrong with Groove that cause me grief, which taint my opinion of the product.  I’m not just talking “oh well that’s a little annoying” sort of problems, I’m talking “where the hell did my document go that I’ve been working on for the last 2 hours?” kind of problems. 

I wonder if MS wanted to get this product out of the door quickly, in time with the rest of the Office 2007 suite, and didn’t pay much attention to checking it for bugs.  Anyone else experienced these issues?…

  • When moving a file (cut/paste) from a standard Groove file tool to a SharePoint library tool, if the filename contains characters that SharePoint doesn’t like (ampersand for example) then Groove just looses the file.  It’s not in the original file tool anymore nor in SharePoint – just GONE!
  • You’ve saved your 2 hour long edits in Word, but forgot to accept the saved changes dialog in Groove or hit “no” by mistake, perhaps even shut down your computer without closing the dialog – all your changes are lost.  I was paranoid before with the CTRL-S, now I have an added fear that Groove has lost my work.
  • A team member makes a change to your document in SharePoint, only you weren’t aware of this change until you made significant changes to your Groove version and then tried to upload your version to SharePoint.  What happened to “hey, before you edit this file are you aware there’s a new version available?”
  • When in a remote desktop session, the Groove “Send Message” dialog pops up constantly as you type (I kid you not).
  • Lose your Groove public key (identity) and you lose access to all of your workspaces, and membership to workspaces owned by others.  There’s no way to get your identity back and nothing obvious telling you that you should be backing up this key.
  • Groove can only sync SharePoint document libraries, not calendars or discussions – I’ve heard numerous comments suggesting that Groove is defunct if you have Internet access to your SharePoint server, since SP does discussion, calendars, and document repositories much better than Groove.  I agree, except for the offline ability of Groove.

I bet there are more bugs I’m unaware of, seeing as I only use about a 1/3rd of the capabilities of Groove in favor of SharePoint.  Despite the list above, I do like Groove and plan to work around it’s nuances.  I just think MS have some work to do to make this product stand up to it’s large price tag (non-Enterprise Office users).

Backup Office 2007 Settings

So, you’ve spent the last few hours setting up Office Outlook views for GTD productivity (as I have done) and are wondering how you backup your office settings incase you need to reinstall at a later time.  Here’s how, using USMT:

  • Google for USMT, download and install.
  • Invoke a command prompt with administrator privileges.
  • Change the directory where USMT is installed.
  • Run the command scanstate <store-path> /i:MigApp.xml /c

This will create a store named Store for you which will have all your settings stored.

Later if you want to restore your application specific settings, you can restore it using the store created above with the command:

  • loadstate <store-path> /i:MigApp.xml /c

Here <store-path> is the one that was created in step 3.

Of course, USMT is not just backing up settings from Office, but most of you other MS applications too, so when restoring you may need to get a little creative.

Outlook Panic Averted

I was in the middle of enjoying my Friday afternoon at the office when I noticed that all of my archived mail and scheduled calendar appointments were missing from Outlook.  Shock Horror! What was I to do?

After throwing my hands in the air, running around the room cursing a few dozen times I went to find out if something had gone wrong on the server – nope, all was fine there.  The last server backup was a couple of days stale, and I’d only just organized my email folders for GTD and was daunting the thought of having to repeat the process. 

The next step was to thumb through my disk looking for cached PST files that Outlook may have scurried away somewhere – no luck there, only stuff I found was way out of date.

So, I was just about to give up, when I noticed a menu item in Outlook 2007 called “Recover Deleted Items” – I jumped on that option faster than a hungry puma on bleeding zebra and was relieved to find out that I could recover my mail and calendar items.  The process wasn’t as painless as I’d have liked because the recovery option does not work on sub folders, just the current selected.  Since my mailbox has a few nested folders, I spent the last hour recovering.

Lesson for the day – backup mailbox items daily to a PST file.

Tools of the Trade

Anyone who knows me, or has been reading my blog of late must know that I have had my head buried in my new job. A career change certainly has its rewards, but also involves a learning curve. Since my time is precious of late (no surprise that blogging has taken a back seat), I thought a good theme for a blog post would entail the tools that save me time. My new role involves more client face time – meetings, time on the road etc, in fact I have never seen my work calendar with so many occupied blocks of time, so my dependency on keeping my schedule in order has never been more important. Below is a list of the software applications that make my career that little bit easier to manage every day….

Microsoft Exchange 2007 – Yes, I hear the groans, but before I receive the comments about rigid IT departments who break out into a rash with the mere mention of Microsoft Exchange, let me tell you why the latest version – Exchange 2007 – is so productive. No matter what anyone says, I refuse to believe that any other mail server is as feature rich as Exchange. Taking aside the fact that Exchange is only happy when tied at the hip with Active Directory, in my opinion it is hands down the best messaging platform. Exchange has provided Outlook Web Access since version 2000, and the newest version still provides the same rich AJAX-like-user interface (introduced long before AJAX was a common term) to emulate the rich client version in a web browser. The new version integrates with SharePoint, allowing me to access my document libraries from anywhere on the Internet. Since version 2003, Exchange has supported MAPI over HTTP, and because my employer is nice, I am able to access my mailbox, calendar, and tasks using Outlook on my work laptop at home, as if I never left the office. Finally, my favorite part about Exchange – I can synchronize with my Windows mobile device, so can receive push email, calendar and tasks whilst on the road – how nice is that?

Outlook 2007 – I cannot talk about Exchange without mentioning its partner in crime – Outlook. Once again, find me an email client that can do half of what Outlook can (Outlook Express does not count because it is technically Outlook on a diet). I mentioned MAPI over HTTP above, which I use constantly when away from the office. 2007 includes an RSS feed aggregator, and like OWA, Outlook 2007 now connects with SharePoint to access document libraries, task lists and calendars. If you are an SMS hound, you can also send and receive SMS messages using the Outlook Mobile Services. Personally, I think the Internet Calendars feature is a lifesaver – I can access my personal Google calendars and overlay my off work schedule with my daytime schedule to see what the week has in store.

Windows Mobile – My Pocket PC phone combo (HTC PPC 6700) cost me a chunk of change when I brought it, but almost a year later, I never regret my decision. I cannot count the number of times I have been away from my computer and needing to get access to important information in an email, calendar information, or contact information. I think of my PPC as an extension to the office –the other day I was stuck in traffic on the way to a client meeting. So, I called my boss for my client’s telephone number, so I could inform them I would be late, and he was able to email it to me without having to relay numbers over the phone.

Google Apps for Your Domain – For a while, I was hosting an Exchange server at home to look after my email, mainly because I wanted email at my own domain name and I could not stand the half-baked web clients offered by the cheapest hosting clients. Only problem was is that, although Exchange is very nice, it is a problem when something goes wrong. Not so long back, I remember pulling an all nighter trying to get my server back online after a disk crash. When I heard about GAFYD – free email hosting for your domain email, I decided to let Google take the responsibility of backing up my email and worrying about offline issues. As far as everyone else is concerned, nothing changed; they can still email me at the same robgarrett.com email address. However, I get the feature rich web client of Gmail to access my domain-hosted email. No more headaches if my broadband connection goes down, or concerns with hardware redundancy.

Google Calendar – My wife and I used Google calendar long before I switched to GAFYD, which also uses the same calendar engine. Google calendar provides me, and the family, with a nice UI for shared calendars, and because it is Google, I can search for any appointment in seconds. Prior to Google, my wife and I were in constant battle over miscommunication of appointments – paper calendars were lost, emails about upcoming appointments went astray, and I found out about most planned events on the evening before they happened. I guess you can say that Google saved my marriage.

Foldershare – There is nothing more frustrating than finding out that all-important file is on another PC and you forgot to copy the darn thing over before a big meeting. Fortunately, there is Foldershare. FS synchronizes files between multiple computers of your choice, and I use this application exclusively to manage access to my important files.

Groove 20007 – Much like Foldershare, Groove enabled me to synchronize my files with other computers and peers, only Groove has many additional features. For one, Groove permits collaboration against SharePoint document libraries. So, my peers and I can work on documents together and when ready I can synchronize the changes to our company SharePoint server for archival.

I could go on, many more products exist that enable me to shave vital minutes off my day, but the above list contains the main tenants. Between these applications, I can collaborate on work items, schedule appointments, stay in touch with the office, plan my weekends, and gain access to all information when working remote – pretty cool.

Slipstream Installation of SharePoint 2007 Beta-2TR

Steve Smith has written an excellent document on how to create a "Slip Stream" installation of SharePoint 2007 Beta-2TR.  The B2TR of Office, SharePoint Server and SharePoint Designer installers require a working installation of Beta 2, and exist as patches.  If like me, you like to repave your machine before installing the newest version, and don't want to have to reinstall Beta-2, then a slip stream version will install from scratch.

http://www.sharepointblogs.com/files/12210/download.aspx 

A number of developers wrote me in response to my original Beta-2 install instructions, some had problems with the SharePoint configuration wizard conking out on them.  A few tips to help grease the installation wheels:

1. Install as an administrator (duh)
2. If installing the slip-stream version make sure that prior versions of MOSS 2007, Office 2007, and SharePoint Designer are removed.  If upgrading, follow the instructions here and here
3. Remove prior versions of the .NET Framework 3.0 (formerly known as WinFX) and install the latest version
4. Install MOSS 2007 in a farm (SQL Server 2005) rather than in SQL Server Express
5. Use the DOMAINNAMEAdministrator account name as the account with administrator privileges in SQL Server 2005 – The administrative account must have rights to create databases in SQL Server, this is often where installation fails, because the local administrator on a web-head machine may not have administrative rights on a SQL Server box.

To create slip-stream installations for Office 2007 and SharePoint designer, follow a similar approach that Steve took with SharePoint Server – extract the Beta-2TR patch files to the updates directory in Beta-2.

Office 2007 Beta 2 Available

Woweee it’s here!  If you want to play with the next version of Office and aren’t afraid of Beta software then:

1. Click the link below
2. Jump through a bunch of Microsoft marketing hoops
3. Download the smart source software
4. Wait half a day for the bits to download to your machine
5. Install. 
6. Add a dash of pepper, and presto one fully baked Office 2007 installation.

http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/getthebeta.mspx

Passive Voice in Professional Documents

I am an experienced software engineer of many a year.  I subscribe and read MSDN magazine, I also read many of the popular technical programming and design books on the shelves.  In comparison, it is always an interesting change spending the day reading and updating professional documentation, written by software engineers (who do not write for public media).  In most cases, there is an apparent distinction between the grammars in each scenario.  Many of us tend to write the way we speak, which can often lead to very informal and difficult to read text.

I am not an English major by any means, and I rely heavily on the tools to perform spell and grammar checking for the words I write.  I especially lean on the help provided by the grammar checker in Microsoft Word.  Before writing any new documentation, I make sure that I crank up the grammar settings so that Word can catch any misnomers in my English.  By default, Word does not check the style of your documentation, which includes checking for passive voice errors. 

Changing the writing style from “Grammar” to “Grammar & Style” in the Word Grammar will put Word on steroids, and all of a sudden, your document will show more green than the moldy piece of cheese left in your refrigerator for the last 6 months.  Word will now underline all the grammar errors that affect the reading style, including passive voice and split infinitives. 

Why is passive voice so important? 

In short, passive voice makes a document hard to read because passive sentences are often wordy, do not always define the subject in context, and often leave the reader with ambiguity. 

The following sentence is an example of passive voice:

“Log files are typically opened and closed on a daily basis.”

The presence of the “are” in the sentence makes the sentence passive.  The following, less wordy, sentence is revision of the one above, and uses active voice:

“Typically, log files open and close daily.”

When writing professional documents, such as those documenting software engineering concepts, it is important that the content by clear, concise, and easy to read.  Active Voice assists the reader of a document by presenting an alert, personal, and demanding spin on the wording.  Writing professional documentation is different to writing a post on your weblog; professional documentation should convey a clear understanding of subject matter by the writer and enable the reader to gain a similar depth of knowledge on the subject. 

When writing your document, be aware of the following words in your sentences, because they signify the passive voice:

*is
*is being
*were
*was
*are
*has been
*have been
*had been
*should be

Articulating in text software engineering concepts is no easy task (ask anyone who has written a technical book), but the tools are there to help you.  Next time you need to publish a document to your peers or project-working group, why not look at the passive voice content in your document – you will receive a lot more praise from your readers if you convert your document to active voice.