Monday, December 29, 2008

Rebuild the Project Server Reporting Database

In a previous post, I discussed patching the Project Server 2007 farm to resolve several issues in the server and client side applications. The patching process is quite lengthy, but resolves a lot of common issues, even if you haven’t noticed them. One of the issues which is resolved is Project Server Reporting not matching what is in Project Server Published. You might notice this in a timesheet comparison report or if you are comparing timesheet actual time to actual time in the project plan.

Once you have patched the server, you can simply rebuild the Project Server Reporting database. Keep in mind that although this is a simple process, it can take a long time and is very resource intensive…so after hours or weekends.

So, here’s how to do it:
Create a backup
1. Logon to the Project Web Access Site as a PWA Administrator
2. From the Quick Launch menu, select Server Settings
3. Under the Database Administration heading, select Administrative Backup. Note, we are going to initiate a restore to trigger the rebuild, so we are backing up to make sure we have the latest information and not overwrite the environment with older information.
4. Select Enterprise Custom Fields and select Backup

You can check the Queue to make sure the job completed successfully.
1. From the Server Settings screen, under the Queue heading, select Manage Queue
2. Click the ‘+’ next to Job Completion States to expand the section
3. From the Available Job States, select Success and then Add>
4. From the Job Grid select Refresh Status
5. You should see a Job Type named Archive Custom Fields with a Job State of Success and % of 100%

Perform a Restore
1. Once your backup job has completed, from the Server Settings screen, under the Database Administration heading, select Administrative Restore
2. From the Item, select Enterprise Custom Fields and click Restore

You can check the Queue to make sure the job completed successfully.
1. From the Server Settings screen, under the Queue heading, select Manage Queue
2. Click the ‘+’ next to Job Completion States to expand the section
3. From the Available Job States, select Success and then Add>
4. From the Job Grid select Refresh Status
5. You should see the following Job Types named:

  • Restore Custom Fields
  • Reporting Database Refresh
  • Reporting (Fiscal Periods Sync)
  • Reporting (Resources Capacity Range Sync

When all of the job types have completed 100% Successful, then your Project Server Reporting Database has been rebuilt. At this point, all of your data between Project Server Published and Reporting should match.

Patching Project Server 2007 in a MOSS 2007 Farm

Ever wanted to fix the little problems that occur in a Project Server 2007 Farm running on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007? Of course, when I say little problems, I'm talking about missing time, bad actuals in a project plan, MS Project Pro crashing, the Reporting database not matching the Published...those kinds of things. ...grumble... Well, here's the patching list in the order that the patches should be installed. Note that you may have to request a great deal of these, but thankfully Microsoft has made that process a bit easier. You'll also note that I start with SP1 and nothing earlier. This is because SP1 is a nice cumulative rollup, you can now get MOSS and Project Server with SP1 and some of the patches prior to SP1 don’t play well with it. You will need to run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard after each installation.

One more thing, make sure that you have full internet access before attempting this patching sequence. There are some checks that the patch process performs that require internet access. If you don’t have it, you could have some failed installations and Project Server Services not starting.

Finally, I’ve also included the patching process for Project Professional 2007. If you simply patch the servers and fail to patch the client, then you will continue to have problems. Also note that this patching process will help keep a myriad of issues from happening, but won’t necessarily go back and fix problems that have already happened. Those fixes need to be handled on a per-issue scenario.

Office Server System
KB936988: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Service Pack 1

KB936984: 2007 Microsoft Office servers Service Pack 1

KB941426: Project Server 2007 post-Service Pack 1 hotfix

KB950816: Project Server 2007 hotfix

KB951169: Project Server 2007 hotfix

KB952000: Project Server 2007 hotfix

KB951695: Infrastructure Update for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

KB951297: Microsoft Office Servers Infrastructure Update

KB956057: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 hotfix

KB956056: SharePoint Server 2007 hotfix

KB956061: Project Server 2007 hotfix

KB957691: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

KB957693: SharePoint Server 2007 hotfix

KB957696: Project Server 2007 hotfix

KB960010: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 cumulative update package

KB960011: SharePoint Server 2007 cumulative update package

KB960313: Project Server 2007 hotfix

Microsoft Office Project Professional 2007
KB937154: Project 2007 Service Pack 1

KB950480: Project 2007 post-Service Pack 1 hotfix

KB951166: Project 2007 hotfix

KB952067: Project 2007 hotfix

KB951547: Project 2007 Infrastructure Update

KB956060: Project 2007 hotfix

KB958138: Project 2007 hotfix

KB959643: Project 2007 hotfix

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Automatically logon to your machine!

If you are like me then you use a lot of virtual machines (a lot). To make it easier to load up these virtual machines and get started right away, I’ve found it very convenient to have them automatically logon during boot. So, here’s an easy way to set that up. This will work with any machine, not just virtual environment, so, if you have a home office that you want to turn on in the morning while you get coffee, this will work too.

Note: The account that you are going to use to logon must have a password for this to work

From the machine that you which to automate logon
1. Click Start and then Run

2. Type in regedit, to start the Registry Editor. Note: This can also be accomplished by opening the executable: C:\WINDOWS\system32\regedt32.exe

3. Navigate to the this location: \HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

4. Change the DefaultDomainName vaule to match the domain you want to authenticate against. If don't have a domain and want to logon to the local machine, type in the computer name.

5. Change the DefaultUserName to the user you want to automatically logon as

6. Change the DefaultPassword to match the password for the user you are logging on as. If you do not see the DefaultPassword key, you will need to add it.
a. From the dropdown menu, select Edit and then New
b. From the flyout menu, select String Value
c. Name the new key DefaultPassword
d. Double click on the new key, DefaultPassword
e. Type in the password to match the username used above

7. Change the AutoAdminLogon vaule to 1. If you do not see the AutoAdminLogon key, you will need to add it.
a. From the dropdown menu, select Edit and then New
b. From the flyout menu, select String Value
c. Name the new key AutoAdminLogon
d. Double click on the new key, AutoAdminLogon
e. Type in 1

How to convert PowerPoint to DVD

Did you even want to convert a PowerPoint presentation to DVD (using all free third-party software)? Unfortunately, there is no single free application that will accomplish this; however there are other options that you could take to achieve PowerPoint to DVD conversion using all free apps.

First, you'll need to convert your PowerPoint to a video format, in this case, AVI.
EM PowerPoint to Video Converter Free

The free version of this program will convert your PowerPoint presentation into a video file, and can output to a good variety of video formats (e.g. WMV, AVI, MPG; it can even output to BMP images).

The program works by “virtually” opening your presentation using PowerPoint, and recording the output to video. This program will let you specify (a) the size of the desired output video from a good number of options; (b) whether you want an auto transition between slides or the option to manually go through the presentation and record; and (c) if auto transition, how many seconds to display each slide. It will also let you specify an audio file to use with your video or if recording your presentation manually will also allow you to alternately record an audio/commentary track using a microphone (note: this function is actually available inside PowerPoint).

Experiment first to see if everything works out as you want it to. This program installs a media player and DVD burner in the program directory, and these cannot be uninstalled seperately. The DVD burner component, moreover, requires VOB or MPG files as inputs to author a DVD, so we won't be using this application.

Second, we'll burn the AVI to DVD
DVD Flick

DVD Flick is a free DVD authoring program that can use videos from a wide variety of formats as input and burn DVDs that will run on any DVD player.

This program is extremely easy to use; all you have to do is add your converted videos (accepts many formats), title your project, and change any settings that you want (including picking a display template for the main menu, see below). Note that the program will use the names of the files you use as titles for the eventual videos on your DVD, so you might want to rename these appropriately before adding them to DVD Flick.

Windows XP given 4 months to live

The final shipment date of Microsoft's aged, yet distinctively non-Vista (and working) operating system has been extended. System builders can now obtain Windows XP until May 30, 2009.
Windows XP was originally scheduled for end-of-life on January 31, 2009. That deadline was delayed to mid-2010, provided the Windows XP licenses were for netbooks and low-cost PCs that can't handle Windows Vista.

Microsoft has a problem, though, given the popular opinion of Windows Vista ranks just below Typhoid Mary in terms of "must-have" status. PC makers selling larger systems have been working around the January 2009 Windows XP expiration date by offering Windows-Vista-loaded machines with an option to downgrade to Windows XP.

Under the new, four-month extension, PC makers must still purchase licenses before January 31, but can choose to have the licenses delivered through May 30, 2009. This is apparently a move to keep system builders from stockpiling licenses at least until Microsoft can shove early versions of Windows 7 (...grumble...) out the door in late 2009.

Backup Internet Explorer Settings

Have you ever wanted to backup Internet Explorer's settings? Now, there's a third-party tool that will do just that: Backrex Internet Explorer

The small, step-by-step backup program grabs everything from Internet Explorer 6 or 7, including cookies, add-ons, auto-complete entries, connection settings, and, of course, your favorites .You back it all up to a zip file that's compressed and, if you'd like, password-protected, and can restore settings in the same click-by-click fashion.

The app doesn't support the Internet Explorer 8 betas (yet).

Internet Explorer Backup

Friday, December 19, 2008

Project Server Task Approvals Fail to Render in Page

Nice little bug found using Project Server 2007 when accepting, rejecting or reviewing tasks. When you go the Task Updates page and select all, where there are more than 45 or 50 tasks, and then select accept, reject or review the resulting page returns an error. The error returned is the wonderful "Unexpected error has occurred" and references the web part maintenance page.

In reality, what's happening is that the application is taking all of the UIDs from all the selected tasks and concatenating them with the root URL and then trying to render them in the page. This is a problem because the maximum allowed URL length in Internet Explorer is 2,080 characters. The length of a UID is 36 characters. So, if you do the math on a typical site, you get a number of characters greater than 2,080. What Internet Explorer will do is truncate the new URL to 2,080 and the result is the page mentioned earlier.

Although this is now a know bug and targeted for a SP2 fix, there's no Hotfix that's available to resolve this problem. The only fix that I've been able to come up with is creating a rule that accepts all tasks. The downside is actually works and accepts all tasks. Project Managers will still have to go one task at a time to reject them, but will then have the option to accept all tasks. You can even have custom rules that automatically run from users, project or even tasks

Miniature Calendars in Outlook

How to make a mini-calendar for your own Out of Office message! Here is an example mini calendar for the dates when I’ll be home for the holidays:

Mini calendars are helpful and provide a visual reminder of how long you will be gone. I like to use them to emphasize when I’ll be back to answer e-mail. Instead of trying to deal with messy spacing and fonts to make your own mini calendar you can use Outlook’s built-in Send via E-mail feature for calendars. This way you can just copy and paste a preformatted mini calendar right into your Out of Office message. To get you started here is how I made the mini calendar for my upcoming vacation.

Creating a Mini Calendar
1. Right-click the name of the calendar in the Navigation Pane. This should be the calendar you want a miniature version of.

2. Click Send via E-mail…

3. Use the “Send a Calendar via E-mail” dialog to specify the date range and the level of detail that is shown for your appointments.
For this example I selected the dates when I’ll be on vacation and “Availability only”.

4. After clicking OK you get a nicely formatted e-mail with your calendar information. We want to put this into an Out of Office reply though, so we’re not done just yet.

5. The easiest way to select the calendar so you can copy it into your Out of Office message is to hover your mouse over the calendar until you see a '+' icon appear.

6. Click the icon so the calendar is highlighted like the calendar.

7. Select Copy in the Ribbon (or hit Ctrl+C on your keyboard) to copy the calendar.

8. Create a new Out of Office message and select Paste (Ctrl+V) where you want the calendar to appear.

And you’re done! Don’t worry, the gray lines won’t appear when someone receives your Out of Office reply.