Author Archives: crashcarr

Planet Comicon 2015

Planet Comicon 2015 in Kansas City

Last weekend I was able to spend two wonderful days in Kansas City at Planet Comicon and I have finally gotten the chance to go through all the pictures from the event and I have posted my favorites below.

This was my first time attending Planet Comicon and it was more than I imagined, with tons of creators, celebrities and vendors to fill both day with plenty of activities. Also the fellow attendees and convention staff only added great energy to the event. The highlights included the Stephen Amell and Ming-Na Wen panels and getting a lot of my older books signed and meeting some of the great creators in attendance.

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Microsoft Band

Experiencing the Microsoft Band

As an early Christmas gift, my partner purchased a Microsoft Band for me. Apparently I was quite excited and I was talking about all the news and information coming out shortly after its release. I was intrigued due to the Band combining fitness tracking with some features that I was seeing out of smart watch products. After using the device for several months, I thought I would share my opinions on the features and also some of the drawbacks in using the device.

For some time now, I have been monitoring the growing field of fitness trackers and smart watches. Unfortunately I have not seen many favorably reviewed products that merge the two features successfully, either due to poor battery life or inconsistent activity tracking. My Fitbit Ultra has served me well for years in monitoring my basic activity patterns; however, I have been less concerned with exact step measurements and more in tracking the increase or decrease in my activity levels.  This usually provided a useful impetus to get off the couch and be more active when I saw my activity level was dropping. The idea of leaving my cell phone in my pocket and receiving text and email alerts through a watch was very appealing. The Microsoft Band encompassed these features that I desired and with a wealth of additional sensors, could also provide more useful information.

These are some of the sensors on the inside of the Band.

These are some of the sensors on the inside of the Band.

Here is a list of the sensors on the device and how I have used them:

Optical heart rate monitor: This feature helps in monitoring heart rate during activity and help in determining sleep patterns. It seems fairly accurate, but can take some time to lock onto your heart rate and I think Microsoft could provide better guidance on what wrist placement will provide the best reading.
Accelerometer/Gyrometer: This sensor monitors activity and also monitors during sleep to determine restful sleeping periods. When wearing the Fitbit Ultra and the Band at the same time, these provided very similar step numbers.
GPS: This sensor is turned on manually when you start a run, walk or bicycle ride to conserve battery life. This has been one of my favorite features to leave my phone in a secure pocket or even at home when going on a short walk, yet still capture location and speed information on runs and bike rides. It syncs well to the app once it sync with the phone app to display the path and speed of your workout.
Microphone: I have not used this sensor since it is only available for use on Windows Phones and Cortana. I would like to see it support Google Now or Samsung Voice so this feature is not lost on Android users; however, I am intrigued by reports of users with Windows Phones and how useful the Band is in these scenarios.
Ambient Light Sensor: This feature works well to change screen brightness and conserve battery usage.
Galvanic Skin Response: This tells the device when you are wearing it, so it knows to turn sensors on and off.
UV Sensor: Since I received the gift during the fall and have not seen a lot of bright sunshine throughout the winter, I have not seen a lot of use out of this feature. It is supposed to tell you the UV conditions and how long it will be until you experience a burn if you leave your skin exposed.

The Band takes some time to get used to, due to the odd shape of the device; however, after several weeks, I missed having it on my wrist when it was charging. It is comfortable while sleeping and can be adjusted quickly with the sliding clasp depending on your activity level. The charging times are short and the device last approximately two days with moderate use. My only complaint of the battery life is the low battery warning alert is too close to the device turning off. Occasionally I will get the notification after lunch at work and by the time I’m home, it will have shut off completely. The plug is a magnetic proprietary cable so purchasing additional cables could be pricey for home, work and travel use. Perhaps a firmware upgrade could provide a notification menu option to choose when to alert the user.

Microsoft Health Home Screen

Microsoft Health Home Screen

The Band has provided useful fitness tracking, although the information is currently locked into the Microsoft Health app which is not very useful in looking at usage patterns. The information is there, but for long term tracking of trends, it would be useful to see this information available on the web. This functionality was announced at launch where Microsoft Health is supposed to be linked to Microsoft HealthVault. However, as of the time of this post, this feature is surprisingly unavailable and the last post to their Twitter account mentioning this is from October:

A huge drawback is the information sharing capabilities which are limited to a few partners at the moment; I would love to have all this information shared with the variety of health services I use. Having my FitBit Aria scale data in the same place as my Band activity and sleep history could provide useful insights. Otherwise, the app also provides the ability to modify the tiles you see on the Band and their order. A variety of tiles are available on the Band which can be customized through the app. These include various notification tiles for Calls, SMS and Mail, which are very useful in keeping your phone in your pocket and keeping up with important notifications. There are also informational tiles like Weather, Calendar, Finance, Facebook, Twitter, etc. These are nice although scrolling on the small screen can become a nuisance if you activate too many tiles. You can also reorder the tiles from the app.

The clasp on the Microsoft Band

The clasp on the Microsoft Band

The device has been fairly durable, I am mindful of swinging my arms around since I wear it on the outside of my wrist, as it is easier to see notifications and the time. Also performing desk work, having the device on the inside of my wrist would cause the screen to rest on my desk. It is advised to use some sort of screen protector and the <a href=””>ArmorSuit Military Shield</a> fits well and has provided the durability to the screen I need when it gets bumped in a doorway, etc. My initial Band had an issue where the clasp stopped catching and I read that the fix was fairly simple to reseat the spring in the clasp; however, I wanted to make sure it didn’t reoccur and called support. They shipped a new band within a couple of days and I have not experienced the problem since.

Overall I am very satisfied with the Microsoft Band and the features it offers. I believe software and firmware updates can clean up some of the missing features that you would expect from this type of device. If you have any experiences with the Band or questions, I would love to hear from you!


Microsoft Health Sleep Summary

Microsoft Health Sleep Summary

Qi Receiver

First experience with Qi Wireless Charging

Recently my Samsung Galaxy S4s charging port went on the fritz and would not charge the phone. I used an external battery charger for a few days and did some research on Qi wireless charging. This seemed a simpler approach than trying to fix the charging port myself and would give me the opportunity to see how well wireless charging worked especially as an add-on instead of a built in feature.

Qi Receiver

Qi Wireless Receiver

I purchased a Receiver module from Amazon that installs by removing the back cover, aligning two metal contact points with the phone and lays partially over the battery. It does make removing the SD card a bit more difficult; however, the receiver only has a small strip of adhesive to keep it in place. I was able to use the stock back cover with the phone and it snapped securely into place despite the additional thickness added from the receiver. This also helped to hold the receiver in place. It also did not interfere with the Caseology Flex case I use with my S4.

Zens Charger

Zens Qi Charging Pad

I found a reasonable deal on the Zens brand charging pad from a website that offered a discounted deal on two which has since expired. This pad only plugs directly into the wall instead of via USB but it provided a reasonably fast charge on my phone. Some points of advice, with this pad I had to learn to place the device slightly off center to get it to charge effectively and to not build up too much heat, although heat may not be an issue with a different case or no case at all. Charging is about 1.5-2x slower than the USB charger I was using; however, I found myself changing my phone more often by simply sitting my phone down instead of finding a cable and plugging it in.

Ankar Charging Pad

Ankar Qi Charging Pad

For an additional charger, I picked up the Ankar Ultra-Slim charging pad. This charger utilizes a USB port for power and is much slimmer and has an overall smaller footprint than the Zens charger. The problem arose when trying to place my phone on the charger, the placement to initiate the charge was much smaller and took some training on my part to learn the correct position. This charger seems to provide faster charging speed although I need to continue to do further tests.

Overall, I would recommend adding Qi wireless charging to any of your mobile devices if adapters are available. Despite the slower charging rates, I found myself less concerned with battery life since I was always charging my phone while it sat beside me at work or next to my bed at night. The heat build up does concern me although I have read reports that it most likely will only shorten the batteries’ life and not the phone. Hopefully if this is the case I will be  looking to upgrade (hopefully to a device with Qi built in).  I also need to choose a Qi charger for my car, I am hoping to find something that will slide into my dash holder behind the phone and charge while I am using it for navigation.

If you have an experience or advice please drop a comment or email me.

SharePoint 2013

Even More SharePoint 2013 Setup Tips

I have spent a great deal of time researching various topics during my installation of SharePoint 2013. Here are some more tips, changes from previous versions and troubleshooting items that I hope will be helpful to you in setting up SharePoint 2013. I encourage you to read my previous posts if you missed them for more Part 1 and Part 2.

Sign On As A Different User

This feature has been removed in SharePoint 2013 and understandably if any of you have used it in previous versions. It is great for testing but I have spent a great amount of time signing in as a test user, then trying to sign back in as myself only to navigate to another page and it caches the test login. There are time where this can still be useful however, there are a number of blogs showing how to modify the code to add the feature back. I like this approach better from Nothing But SharePoint that provides two methods for testing SharePoint under a different account. One is running the browser as a different user or even easier, pasting a parameter onto the URL to fool SharePoint into prompting for credentials.

My Tasks

My Tasks

My Tasks Feature

If you navigate to your My Sites profile page, you will see a Tasks option. This tool aggregates all assigned tasks in one location to help manage your work items from one location. The initial setup of this feature though can be a bit tricky since the Tasks option will be present but then it will give an error saying that it is having trouble retrieving your tasks. SPKNB has a blog feature on making sure all the relevant features for the Tasks option is installed and setup properly.  Following these instructions got the feature up and running; however, I am still doing some research into what Tasks are displayed. Currently only my project tasks show in this view and I am attempting to find a way to display Workflow Tasks in this view as well to include things like Document Approval to create a centralized workspace.

People Search Health Analyzer Error

If you see “People Search relevance is not optimized when the Active Directory has errors in the manager reporting structure” pop up in your health analyzer it may not be clear from the error what needs to be done. There is a simple fix of adding at least one company leader that of course will not have a manager fillled out in their Active Directory profile. This TechNet article will provide the PowerShell commands needed to get this person(s) added and remove this error from the Health Analyzer.

SharePoint Office Error

Disabling Multiple Office Version SharePoint Support

Office Version Issues

My main PC has Office 2010 installed and after getting SharePoint 2013 setup, I decided to install SharePoint Designer 2013. Later as I was testing opening documents, I received an odd 404 Not Found error when trying to open an Excel or Word document in Office 2010. Some research pointed to some changes that SharePoint Designer 2013 made when it was installed (this is also true of other Office applications). Fortunately the fix was pretty simple although would have been difficult to track down without this TechNet article and it was as simple as doing a Add/Remove Program modification to the Designer install.

eDiscovery Setup

A feature that has been a big desire for our legal department is the eDiscovery feature (even though they did not know what it was, it fits exactly what they wanted). They needed a way to easily gather documents and information stored in SharePoint from certain points in time and easily freeze this in place without disturbing the current work being done on the site. Most overview books on SharePoint touch lightly on eDiscovery although Enterprise Content Management with Microsoft SharePoint by Microsoft Press gives some good insight into eDiscovery. And this MVP article goes over the initial setup of the eDiscovery site, if your organization has any legal requirements to provide information stored in SharePoint this is a must have feature that will sell it to your legal team.

SharePoint 2013

Sharepoint 2013 Event ID 6398 AppFabric Distributed Cache Error

A few days ago, I started seeing repeated errors with Event ID 6398 and description of:

The Execute method of job definition Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles.LMTRepopulationJob (ID 581fc80e-f7fb-4b3b-99cd-7affa208f57b) threw an exception. More information is included below. Unexpected exception in FeedCacheService.BulkLMTUpdate: Unable to create a DataCache. SPDistributedCache is probably down.

This error occurs every 5 minutes as the User Profile Service – Feed Cache Repopulation Job ran and it also prevented anything from populating the My Sites Newsfeeds section. The Newsfeeds page would only return “We’re still collection the latest news. You may see more if you try again a little later.” I tried to follow a multitude of blog posts, forum posts and TechNet articles on repairing the AppFabric Distributed Cache Service and was unable to correct the error.

My next step was to try to get the AppFabric service back to the initial setup. Remove the AppFabric setup from Add/Remove Programs. More information on this process in this MSDN article and also follow the link from there to Clean up any remaining AppFabric settings either manually or using the Cleanup Tool they provide.

After rebooting, I downloaded the AppFabric 1.1 Installer from here. However, do not install it manually, instead use the SharePoint 2013 setup disc to use the prerequisite installer to install and configure AppFabric using the following command:

prerequisiteinstaller.exe /appFabric:C:\pathto\WindowsServerAppFabricSetup_x64.exe

Now you can continue on with the initial configuration of the AppFabric service. I ran the following command from the SharePoint 2013 PowerShell as Administrator

$instanceName ="SPDistributedCacheService Name=AppFabricCachingService"
$serviceInstance = Get-SPServiceInstance | ? {($_.service.tostring()) -eq $instanceName -and ($ -eq $env:computername}

then run


You should see the Distributed Cache service running in Manage Services on Server in Central Administration and also see the AppFabric Caching Service running in Services. If you don’t then try Remove-DistributedCacheServiceInstance and Add again. After completing this process, I was able to go back to MySites and see the Newsfeed as it should be and also no more errors in the Event Log.


NewsFeed Working


I would love to know why this occurred since I was not working on anything with the Caching service prior to the errors; however, I hope this helps someone else caught up in this problem. Let me know if this helps or you have more information about this issue.

Etsy Logo

What I’ve learned getting started on Etsy

About a month ago, my partner decided to sell her sewn items on Etsy to make some extra money for covering school expenses. I jumped at the chance to learn more about Etsy and while she worked hard at the sewing machine, I would delve into the promotional side of her new online store. Etsy at first does not seem complicated; however, the selling side of the site provides some unique challenges. Hopefully some of the tips I outline here will be helpful to others getting started. I would appreciate anyone taking a look at her store (Raeda’s Sunshine Crafts) and I will offer details using her shop for examples.

Search Options

Unless you plan to sell vintage or mass produced items, be sure to select Handmade in the search options.

So first the basics, coming up with a name for your shop and figuring out what you would like to sell. I encourage you to make what you like, not what you think will sell. If you are multi talented, spend some time going through other shops (make sure to select handmade in the search section) and look for shops that have sales and reviews. There are a lot of competing sites and it is discouraging if you expect to list something you spent time on and crafted well only to watch it sit with no views. It will take time and work to stand out from the crowd. Once you decide on your focus, research those competing sites that have sales and reviews to look over how they present their items.

When you are setting up your shop, it seems tedious, but fill out everything you can including Polices, Message to Buyer boxes and look to other successful shops for ideas and wording that can speed up the process and modify it to fit your needs. Be honest about shipping and customization times to avoid getting a sale only to receive a bad review because the product arrived later than the buyer expected. Provide some details about your self and motivations so you customers understand your reason for opening the shop and crafting items.

Shop Settings

Be sure to go through all of these shop settings to fill out as much information as you can give your customers.

As you start to list your items, providing details about your items can seem straightforward; however, there are lots of behind the scenes ideas to consider, especially when it comes to your item description and the tags you apply to your product. Again I recommend looking at successful shops with similar items to find out what words and more importantly the phrases they use in the titles of their listings and in their tags. These will help you appear in search results and understand how users are searching for an item. Tools4Etsy has a great tool to test where you appear in search results based on keywords. You may not want to change your tags and title too often, since it may take some time for Etsy to index your changes and integrate them into the search results.

Once you have some items listed then you can begin the promotional process. If you are tech savvy, I recommend looking at Google Analytics as an extra way to track your shop visits. Etsy has a box to enter your Analytics code that will populate it into your shop and listings. The Etsy Dashboard provides a good overview of how many people are visiting, how many are favoriting items in your shop and more but Google Analytics allows you to dive deeper to view where visitors are coming from and you can target what promotional avenues are giving you better results.

Etsy Promotional Listings

Etsy promotional listings are ad spaces you can pay to promote your items to the top of search listings. You can see these listings in search results and you will see the AD icon over the image. You can bid an amount or let it autobid which can change depending on what you choose to promote. We have tested these out and gotten some clicks although no sales yet. Many users have reported success however so a lack of sales/reviews for our shop that is preventing the ads from working. The cost is relatively small and it is easy to test this feature on just a few items if you wish to experiment yourself.

Promoted Listings Graph

Promoted Listings will show how many times your ad was shown, how many clicks and the cost.

Facebook Page

An easy promotional tool to use is Facebook, especially if you are already active on the Facebook. You create  a separate page that is linked to your profile but has a separate timeline. I’ve found this is an effective way to promote to your friends and family but they can easily opt out by not following the page so you don’t become a nuisance. There are tools that will auto post your new listings to Facebook but I find it better to copy the link to the new listing and give some personal commentary about the item you are posting since the primary audience for these posts are people you know. You can see her page here.

Facebook Create a Page

Where to find the option to create a new Facebook Page


Many users post their listings to Twitter although I have not seen a lot of traffic from this source. It may prove useful in the long-term and it is very easy to post your new listings from Etsy to Twitter. Once again you can see her Twitter feed here.


Pinterest is a great partner to Etsy since so many people use it to post photos of things they like, enjoy or want to save for later. Since so much of Etsy is visual, pinning your items to Pinterest is another easy way to promote your items to your friends and they can easily repin them to their followers. Another useful feature is many Etsy Teams have group Pinterest boards where you can ask to be added as a pinner to the group board. This allows you to repin to a larger audience and many of these same Teams have Pinning posts were you pin other user’s items and they will redo the same for your listings. Here is a link to her Pinterest account.

Pinterest Screenshot

Showing one board of Etsy items in Pinterest

Etsy Teams

I believe this is the best avenue for a new Etsy shop to receive some attention and start to help themselves stand out from the crowd. There are a large number of Etsy Teams which basically give members a forum to post their items and receive reciprocal views and favorites. You can view a list of the teams she is currently a member of here. If you are diligent in using teams, you can receive hundreds of views and favorites to your items. Especially if you focus on one or two items a day to promote. Of course this doesn’t guarantee a sale since members are simply favoriting your item so that you will do the same for them. This may help in search results though, especially before you have many sales. I’ve also enjoyed the sense of community in many of the teams where people are helpful in not just promoting each other but also in discussing the site, their craft and more.

I have been able to get an item trending using this method and that provided more views for that item. Trending is a list on Etsy that shows items that Etsy decides to include. It is updated approximately once a day and it’s unclear how items are chosen by the algorithm; however, favorites and views appear to play a role.

One important thing to know is that when you favorite an item (aka heart) is that there is a limit of 300 per hour. You will not get a notification once you reach that limit, it will still appear as if you are favoriting something but if you go back to that page later, the heart will be gone. A tool to keep track of this is Heart’s Counter. Which will give an overlay showing how many hearts you have clicked in the current hour and will reset when the 60 minutes are up. You can also refavorite items by clicking the red heart and then clicking it again to give them a new favorite for that day.

Heart's Counter Plugin

Overlay once you install Heart’s Counter. The top number represents number of favorites for that hour. The gray number is the number of refavorites.

Etsy Forums

Etsy forums are similar to Teams but you do not have to join to take part. You can post items easily and you will see some views; however, the sheer number of posts to these forums make it difficult to stand out. They are a good starting place for asking for feedback from other users about what you can improve in your shop.


Etsy has a fun feature called Treasuries that allows you to create a curated listing of 16 products you like. I have created treasuries by color theme, elephant items or spring related products. Most users avoid including their own items in a treasury; however, if you have one item of your own in a treasury that should be acceptable. A great tool for creating treasuries and notifying the creators of the items you have chosen is TreasuryBox for Google Chrome. Once you install, it creates a small icon on Etsy listings that make it easy to add an item to your current treasury. Once you have selected the items, you click the icon in your browser tool bar and it will take you to the Etsy Treasury page with all the items you have selected. You can then give a title and description and easily send a notification to the included sellers. I include a link to my shop and social media links to provide a way to connect with like-minded users.

Etsy Listing Icon Example

The various icons on a listing search result. The TreasuryBox icon is the highlighted treasure chest icon.


TreasuryBox Plugin

Here is a screenshot of the TreasuryBox Plugin after selecting a variety of items.

Other promotional opportunities

There are many other tools you can use to promote your shop including Instagram, Wanelo and more however, I have not explored these fully yet and will post a follow-up when I do. If you like this post, please let me know in the comments and if you have any suggestions or tips that have worked for you, I would love to hear those as well.

SharePoint 2013

More SharePoint 2013 Setup Tidbits

I have continued with my first SharePoint 2013 server setup and wanted to post some more items that worked for me to get some things configured for my environment. Check out my previous post for more tips.

Changing the Favicon

Default SharePoint FavIcon

Default SharePoint FavIcon

A little branding item that can prove to be useful in helping your SharePoint stand out in the multitude of open tabs is changing the Favicon. The blue SharePoint 2013 icon is unique but does not help your end users associate it with your company or organization. SharePoint’s favicon settings are a little different than setting them for a regular website. Mohitvash has a nice blog post pointing to the location of the favicon and how to make the setting changes in the SharePoint master pages. Fore more details on modern Favicon settings check out this blog post on Big Favicons which includes some nice examples and links to a tool I used to create the Favicon for my site.

Using the User Profile Import Service to Create Phonebook Style Contact List

One of the items I hope to replace on our current Intranet is a manually updated contact list of employees. I want to centrally manage that through Active Directory and in turn SharePoint using the User Profile Service. You can use existing SharePoint imported profiles individually but it does not lend itself to a simple list of all employees very well. On SharePoint Use Cases, there is a nice PowerShell script to copy the user profile service entries into a Contacts list and also to update these list items as things change. I added some additional fields to the script which was easy to map. I place on scheduling this to run on a regular interval to keep things updated. I also wanted to remove old disabled users; however the current script does not do this. I may just delete the list before import each time. Here is another PowerShell script to delete all items in a list, be careful to select the correct list!

Remove Sync Option

Sync Button

Sync Button

The Sync option is another tool that appears by default in the upper right ribbon and may not be a good fit to leave as an option for end users depending on your organization. This allows users to download a local copy of files for offline work. I want users to work off live copies from SharePoint and avoid saving additional copies of files since that has been an issue in the past. Removing this option is very simple and Learning SharePoint has good step by step instructions for disabling Sync.

Bulk Convert .DOC files

Office Web Apps is an amazing feature; however, if you are migrating a lot of older documents to SharePoint 2013 and you start to open a .DOC file with Office Web Apps, it will prompt the user to convert the document to the newer Office file type. This is nice, but in reality it is creating an entirely new copy of the file so your document library could quickly be littered with two copies of files, confusing end users. So during content migration I will be doing bulk conversions of older documents and removing the older copies. There are various methods including PowerShell and third party tools; however, Microsoft has a tool that is fairly easy to use and works very quickly. It will also convert a variety of Office file types, not just Word documents. Eric White’s MSDN article explains how to use the tool. One thing to note of course is that you will lose the version history; however, I intend on having a document archive repository and will just place the pre-conversion files there with their version history in case they are needed. Most of these files have not been touched in quite a while so hopefully it will not become a problem.

SharePoint Health Analyzer Rules Reference

SharePoint Health Analyzer Alert

SharePoint Health Analyzer Alert

I wanted to add this link to this Microsoft list since it has been invaluable in starting to track down any issues that appear in your SharePoint Health Analyzer. 

I enjoy any feedback or thoughts on these tips. I will continue to post as I work through this migration from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2013.

SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013 Some Useful Links and Notes

So I just began setting up my first SharePoint 2013 farm and  there were some odd issues, quirks and additional features I wanted to share. Here is a short list of some of the topics and helpful links I have found along the way. I am setting up a SharePoint 2013 server on Server 2012 with a SQL 2008 R2 backend with an additional Office Web Apps server on Server 2012. I found the book Professional SharePoint 2013 Administration by Shane Young, Steve Caravajal and Todd Klindt to be extremely useful in providing concise overviews of various aspects of SharePoint 2013 and also providing useful instructions in installing and configuring your farm.

PDF Previews in Document Libraries and Search

PDF Previews

PDF Previews

The Office Web Apps features of document previews in document libraries and search is an awesome feature that not only nice looking but also very useful. One glaring omission is the lack of previews for PDF files. After running the cumulative updates, I followed SharePoint Architect Wictor Wilén’s guide here to get the PDF functionality setup. Of course I have to admit, if you look toward the bottom of his post, he links to the WSP file to deploy if you want to skip the heavy lifting steps. It works well and will fill in the gap for the large number of PDF files that many organizations have floating around.

Additional Steps to Get new SharePoint 2013 Workflow Functionality

Workflow options showing 2010 or 2013

Workflow options showing 2010 or 2013

After installing SharePoint Designer and starting a new workflow, you will see the option of Platform Type and the only type available is SharePoint 2010 Workflow. In order to get the new 2013 workflow features you will need to setup Workflow Manager. This setup is a little more involved than just adding a server feature and this TechNet guide helps cover the basics. This installation was something I did not read enough on when I first started my setup and I spent a considerable amount of time getting it setup and running error free.

Remove/Hide SkyDrive Link

One of the additions in SharePoint 2013 is the default SkyDrive link and to a lesser extent NewsFeed and Sites links. If you are using on premises SharePoint in a corporate environment, there is a good chance you do not want to provide this link to your end users. Fortunately this is easy to remove and I used option #1 on the following link from Learning SharePoint to remove these links.

Enable Blob Cache

The Blob Cache feature is disabled by default. The Blob Cache is helpful in performance of certain file types like images and videos by caching the files on the Web Front End server. This MSDN blog gives the basics of enabling and changing the configuration of the Blog Cache. Sean McDonough also details how the Blob Cache works and gives some further examples of scenarios to take into account when enabling the Blob Cache.

This is the basic change I made in web.config during initial testing:

[code]<BlobCache location=”D:\BlobCache” path=”\.(gif|jpg|jpeg|jpe|jfif|bmp|dib|tif|tiff|themedbmp|themedcss|themedgif|themedjpg|themedpng|ico|png|wdp|hdp|css|js|asf|avi|flv|m4v|mov|mp3|mp4|mpeg|mpg|rm|rmvb|wma|wmv|ogg|ogv|oga|webm|xap)$” maxSize=”10″ enabled=”true” maxAge=”0″/>[/code]

Document ID Preservation


Display Properties shows the Document ID

One feature I have been looking forward to moving from SharePoint 2007 is the Document ID feature that preserves document links by assigning a document ID even if that document is moved within the library. It seems though that this is not quite as simple as turning the feature on and forgetting about it. The files still have to be moved in certain ways to preserve this ID so instructing end users will be key to getting the most out of this feature. Max Morrow has a great entry on testing the various ways this process works and does not work.

Look for continuing posts as I continue my setup and implementation. If you have any feedback or questions, I would love to hear them.

Dash Logo

Dash, One Week With a Quantified Car App

UPDATE: 01/31/2014 I have added additional in app screenshots to show more features including the fuel cost per trip.

Recently, I downloaded Dash, an (Android only) app that connects to an OBDII Bluetooth sensor hooked to your car’s OBDII port. Cars in the United States required these ports starting in 1996 and it is simply a small diagnostic port that can provide various information from your car’s on board computer. These Bluetooth sensors are inexpensive, I picked up the following device from Amazon for about $10USD: ELM327 OBDII OBD2 Bluetooth Car Diagnostic Interface Scanner .


Average MPG is shown while driving


Trip detail report

This is the cleanest app I have used to connect my phone to one of these sensors. Previously I have used Torque to read engine trouble codes before taking my car to get serviced. Torque can be useful; however, the interface is clumsy and takes a bit of work to put the information you would like to see on the dashboard. Dash on the other hand is very clean and inviting, walks you through the basic setup tasks and handles all of the background heavy lifting of monitoring for the Bluetooth device and automatically connects when in range of the car. After each trip it summarizes your drive with the average miles per gallon, fuel cost, and time.

Dash Total Screenshot

Dash Total for all Trips


Trip Summaries with Fuel Cost and More

Some other features include a gas station finder by price or distance, a feature to find where you parked your car and some social features that I have not been able to explore since I do not know anyone else that is using the app. These are all nice features that easily replace a handful of single purpose apps that perform these tasks. The big drawback thus far is that all of this information is locked to the device with no portal to access it via their website. I would love to see this app expand to the web so I have another dashboard of stats to review. The quantified self idea is interesting and even I am not sure why I find the data so fascinating.  It is the best app I have used to measure my car and driving performance and provide some actionable data to hopefully improve my fuel efficiency and troubleshoot any issues with my vehicle.

Additional Dash Features

Additional Dash Features

SharePoint 2007

Easily the best blog post I’ve ever read about SharePoint 2007 code

In an attempt to troubleshoot issues with SharePoint 2007, I ran across Emil Stenström’s post regarding the default.master page in SharePoint 2007. He gives a great summary of the horrible code used by default in SharePoint 2007. I had almost gotten used to looking at this unwieldy beast and my brain shut out exactly how awful it is. Please give it a read, I laughed out loud and I think anyone else will that has done a reasonable amount of web development, especially those that have dealt with SharePoint 2007.

Default HTML in Sharepoint 2007 – Friendly Bit.