What the Hell Am I Doing? (or “Should I just Shut Up?”)

blogging communication information sharing

In the last week, I have been aware  of a few discussions going on about the value of blogging.

A recent post by Bjørn Furuknap, where he advises aspiring bloggers to shut up unless they have something of real value to say, has resulted in an interesting discussion. At the same time, I came across an old post by Laurence Hart where he talks about blogging.

Bjørn’s blog can be summed up as follows:

  • Don’t write rubbish – make sure that it is correct
  • Don’t write about the same thing that everyone else is writing about,
  • Give credit

Laurence’s post can be summed up with:

  • Know why you are writing a blog
  • Blog to start a conversation – to add value.

Now – when Bjørn’s post came out, I responded to it stating that he was too harsh, and that one of the purposes of the internet is to give people the freedom to post for what ever reason they want. And that the onus actually lies with the reader, who should choose what they read more carefully.

Having said that, what Bjørn had written sat in the back of my head, slowly being processed for the next couple of days.

Then I read Laurence’s post. He had, pretty much, said the same thing 2 years earlier. It seemed that Bjørn, however, was looking at things from a more technical angle, whereas Laurence more from a social/conversation angle.

At the end of Momentum 2010 I had a great opportunity to talk with another blogger  – Andrew Chapman – for three hours, and he told me  “readers are more interested in hearing your opinion”.

So now I find myself questioning the reason I am blogging. Is it to get hits? In response to Bjørn’s post, I stated that I don’t care how many people read my blog (but secretly I do). Is it to provide technical wisdom to people? Well – I certainly want to pass along useful tips where I can, but try not to fall into the trap of repeating what can be easily read elsewhere. Is it to start a discussion? Umm – not specifically.

So – why did I start blogging? I guess because I found that writing a post really forced me to think about things. So instead of saying to myself “Oh – that’s interesting.”, it would be “OK – what does this mean, can it be done differently. If so – how?” (Andrew had commented to me that he found the same benefit from blogging).

In his post Laurence states that if you don’t want people to read what you have written, “just go start a private journal”. That applied to me, but by writing a blog, I felt that the fact that it might be read also forced me to be a bit more complete.

So my initial blogs were more thought blogs. I would try and comment on a variety of things that were related to content management. And then I started wanting to pass on some of the lessons I had learned from what I considered to be technologies/situations that were little written about. I tried to do this in an interesting way. But, as Laurence, and Bjørn, both state – blogging takes time. My schedule became very busy, with work, with study, and with travel. I still wanted to write those thought blogs but found myself writing simple “did you know” posts with no real added value.

It was good to read Bjørn’s post. I thank Dave Coleman for bringing my attention to it (via twitter). If I hadn’t read it, I wouldn’t have got incensed, and then I wouldn’t have read Laurence’s post and, as a result, wouldn’t have decided that it was time to lift my game.

Gents – thank you.


Bjørn Furuknap’s post: Attention Aspiring SharePoint Bloggers: Shut Up!

Laurence Hart’s post: So You Want to Write a Blog

Andrew Chapman’s blog: Never Talk When You Can Nod

Dave Coleman’s blog: SharePointEduTech


See also:

The secrets of good blogging

The secrets of good blogging (Click for a larger copy)

Latest Post by Tom Fishburne

Ha ha!

Tom Fishburne latest post is a good one. Topic this time is “Failure”, and is accompanied by one of Tom’s wonderful and relevant cartoons.

The main message I got from his post is…

“You can tell a lot about an organization by how they treat failure.”

This point is something that became really obvious to me when I wrote some earlier posts (especially this one about 3M). You cannot innovate, or move forward, without failure. Failure is an intrinsic part.

Anyway – check out Tom’s post here…

  • The 8 Types Of Bad Creative Critics (Comic) (mt-soft.com.ar)
  • The Limitation of Focus Groups (collings.co.za)
  • The Limited Value of Many Friends (collings.co.za)
  • CaseCentral’s Weekly ‘Case in Point’ eDiscovery Cartoon Series Celebrates Second Anniversary of Providing Humor and Wit (eon.businesswire.com)

Getting Lost in a Wild SharePoint Site

In this post, I want to tell you about a unexpected,but interesting journey I have made.


Recently I was asked to help “trim” a SharePoint site that had become overly complex. The site was going to be migrated to a different domain, and the goal was to tidy up the site.

On first glances the site look harmless.

But once I started delving deeper, I could see that it was a jungle of sub-sites, interlinked in a strange M.C. Escher way.

To really get to understand how everything was connected, I decided to map it all out.

Using MindManager (it could have been any mind mapping tool – or even pen and paper), I started with the top site.

The beginning was easy, the path was clear. Things were

L O G I C A L.

Then as I got deeper, things started getting more complex. And, now and then, there were tricky little bits where I SharePoint Governance plan viralwould follow a path and suddenly find myself in a totally different area, feeling disoriented. Fortunately with the use of a good compass and a ball of string I had been unravelling as I went along, I was able to find my way back.

I made notes, I took photos, and  I saw some amazing things. (Unfortunately, my camera was damaged when I tripped over some metadata in one of the fields, so you’ll just have to take my word for it).  Slowly, over several days, I was able to map out the site (and sub-sites, and sub-sub sites).

The map was big, with lots of colorful lines showing relationships between the various parts, as well as highlights and comments. When you looked at it at its original size, it looked like some strange alien exoskeleton. It was not until you increased resolution that you got to see the fine workmanship.

My “client” was impressed with what I had done. The didn’t have MindManager installed, and when I tried to create a flash, or PDF version of said map, MindManager bailed on me. Thank goodness for the MindManager Viewer. At the time of writing, this had not been installed. I’ll know when it has been…I’ll hear lots of “Oohs” and “aahs” and other sounds one makes when one is impressed with something.

SharePoint map governance Note – artist’s rendition

Site Mapping Tools

Now, it may be that there are tools, or applications, out there that will achieve what I did, automatically.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • SharePoint Sites, Growing Like Weeds, Need Governance (pcworld.com)
  • AIIM White Paper on SharePoint Deployment (arnoldit.com)
  • SharePoint: On Premises and in the Cloud (arnoldit.com)

New & Classic – Ways that SharePoint & Traditional ECM systems can play together

In this post I look at some SharePoint-ECM Integration scenarios.


The AIIM SharePoint Master course material that I am studying at the moment presents 4 scenarios about how SharePoint can be used alongside, or integrated with, traditional ECM systems.

These are:

1. External Storage Provider

In this scenario, SharePoint is used to manage indexes, metadata, user presentation, etc, and the ECM application manages content storage/retrieval

2.  External Repository of Record

In this, all content is managed in SharePoint, until it is declared a record. Then a copy is pushed into the ECM application, where it can only be accessed by Record Managers. SharePoint provides the user interface where documents are created, and edited. The ECM application handles the security, record retention, etc of the document once it has the status of a record. Content only gets into the ECM app via SharePoint.

3. Cooperative

In a cooperative scenario, all documents are created in SharePoint, where they can be edited, etc. The ECM system  is used to manage and control documents that have the status of a Record. Unlike the External Repository of Record scenario, in the Cooperative scenario, content can only exist in one system at a time.

4. Portal

In this scenario SharePoint acts merely as an interface into the ECM app. All documents are created, and managed there.

In researching this further, I came across  Andrew Chapman blog “Never Talk When You can Nod“. In it he covers the use of SharePoint with existing ECM systems a lot better in his .

Andrew offers 8 scenarios. I won’t regurgitate all of what he has written (you can read the posts yourself – see link at the end of this post), but I do want to summarise his 8 scenarios, and discuss where the AIIM scenarios match. (Andrew has got some really cool images on his post that visually represent each of the 8 possibilities beautifully. I’ll use this as well, but remember, they came from his site 🙂

Andrew Chapman’s 8 Reference Architectures


1: Keep Systems Separate, Restrict Usage.


1: Keep Systems Separate, Restrict Usage.

Content is moved manually from SharePoint into the ECM application.

2: Loosely Coupled Solution

2: Loosely Coupled Solution

Content is moved from SharePoint into the ECM application based on some rule, or event.

3: Use SharePoint as a Portal Container

3: Use SharePoint as a Portal Container

SharePoint uses Web Parts that allow content from the ECM application to be seen, and at the same time, other Web Parts that allow the user to interact with content in SharePoint.

4: Passive Unification in Web Part

4: Passive Unification in Web Part

SharePoint contains Web Parts that allow a user to see content from both the SharePoint system, and the ECM system. This is from within the same Web Part. The user is unaware that the documents are located in separate systems.

5: Active Unification

5: Active Unification

Similar to Architecture 4 except that in this Architecture, the user is able to perform more complex operations with the content (managing versions, attaching objects to versions, etc).

6: Passive Back-end Aggregation

6: Passive Back-end Aggregation

An aggregated view of all the content stored across all libraries in created in the ECM. This aggregated view could then be used to make security decisions, perform risk analysis, monitor file usage, etc.

7: Active Back-end Aggregation

7: Active Back-end Aggregation

All content is aggregated from SharePoint into the ECM system where it is managed, and controlled.

8: Synchronized, Intelligent, 2-way Shortcutting

8: Synchronized, Intelligent, 2-way Shortcutting

As with Architecture 7, all content is transparently moved from SharePoint into the ECM system. However in this scenario, users can still act upon the document directly from SharePoint.


As you can see, Andrew Chapman has put a lot of thought into the various possibilities of SharePoint and tradition ECM systems working together.

Looking at what the AIIM SharePoint course material mentions, and comparing it to Andrew’s various architectures, there are close correlations – the AIIM scenarios match the first four of Andrew’s Architectures, with the last four describing variations on the Portal concept.

Andrew Chapman’s post: Eight Reference Architecture Organizer


Find out More about those Red Error Messages in Your SPX Web Part

In the Life Sciences industry, many companies use CSC’s FirstDoc to add a regulatory compliance layer to EMC‘s Documentum.

And, if you are using SharePoint as a Portal solution, CSC also offers web parts that offer 99% of the FirstDoc functionality of the thick client. These are known as SPX web parts. (SPX stands for SharePoint eXperience).

The SPX web parts are built on top of the DocWay UI component that Wingspan offers (refer my earlier post for more details).

I’ve been working with SPX pretty much since the first version, and have often seen red error messages appear in the web part. Some of these error messages are self-explanatory. Others are more cryptic.

To get more information about the error message, use your browser’s “View Source” option. In the HTML that is displayed, there is a large section giving more technical information. Using this, the actual problem can be better identified.

  • New EMC Solutions for Healthcare, Life Sciences, and Energy Industries
  • Will EMC Dump Documentum?
  • Documentum, old world document management (or why to avoid Documentum 6.0SP1)
  • CSC Introduces Solution to Help Customers Comply with Cybersecurity Mandates

Points and Badges


I don’t have a smart phone (yes, it’s true!). So even though I have been aware of foursquare, and its badges, and titles (You have just become “Mayor”), I have not been able to partake in the fun, and games of such a thing.

My first real introduction to the phenomenon of “unlocking badges” was when I started using Vodpod (a site that allows you “to build your own video channel to share with the world”).

When I first joined, I saw that they offered points and badge “to encourage people to collect the best videos and share them with others.” I didn’t really give it much more thought as I couldn’t care less about the stupid things.

That was until I unlocked my first badge”. Then I unlocked my second badge. Then I checked to see what other badges I get, and how I could get them. It was addictive. (By the way, on the right of this blog, at the bottom, you can “follow me on Vodpod“).

This is why, when I saw a post by Rob Cottingham on the Read, Write, Web site, it really made me smile. I could recognise exactly what he was referring to. Have a look:

“Apparently we do need those stinking badges”

If you get a chance, also, check out Rob’s website (http://robcottingham.ca/).

This guy is FUNNY!

  • What’s the point of Foursquare Badges? (theantisocialmedia.com)
  • Check-in and Vote to get the Foursquare ‘I Voted’ Badge (appscout.com)
  • Internet trend for 2011 – Badge Fatigue? (thenextweb.com)
Posted in Fun, Social Media | Tagged badges, Foursquare, Gamification, Rob Cottingham, Smartphone, Vodpod | Leave a reply

Issue with MindManger and a PDF attachment.

I’m studying the AIIM SharePoint Master course at the moment. (Refer my earlier posts here, and here).

I’m a “wolkjes” sort of a person (“wolkjes” is a Dutch word for clouds).

That is, sometimes to really get to grips with things, I like a visual overview (or as my wife puts it – I think in “wolkjes”).

So – I was mapping out all the information using MindManger, and had attached a PDF to one of the topics in the mind map. When I clicked on this, MindManager crashed on me.

Just to vent, I tweeted this fact. And then went straight to MindManager’s website. Within 30 seconds I had found a fix to the problem:

When attachment or MJC secondary document is opened, MindManager immediately crashes.

An issue has been identified when MindManager is used with the anti-virus software AVG v8 also installed.  When a topic attachment or a Mindjet Connect secondary document is opened, MindManager utilizes The Windows anti-virus API to scan the document.  With AVG installed, it also attempts to scan the document.  With two scans happening simultaneously, a crash can occur. Mindjet is working on a solution to this issue.

In the same knowledge base article was a file that could be downloaded, and copied into the folder where MindManager is installed.

I did this, and restarted MindManager, opened my mind map, and clicked on the PDF attachment. It opened beautifully in Adobe Reader as expected. I was really happy to be able to resolve the problem so quickly.

In the interests of sharing, I jumped back onto Hootsuite, and tweeted that I had found the fix quickly on the MindManger website (and included the link to the kb article, of course). At the same time I noticed that Mindjet support (@Mindjet)  had seen my initial tweet, and had responded asking for more information. This doubly impressed me!

My hat is off to Mindjet support! The ease in which I could find the fix, and the rapid (pro-active) response I got back via Twitter is an example of excellent customer service.

ECRM Assessment – wise words


If you can’t measure it, you can’t understand it.

If you can’t understand it you can’t control it

If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.


– H. James Harrington

The Wingspan Connection – getting SharePoint & Documentum to talk to each other

This is just a short post.  Just want to show an overview of how Wingspan components  allow a user to access their Documentum documents from SharePoint.

wingspan spx sharepoint documentum firstdoc emc

Taken from Wingspan Documentation

Here you can see that there are two main components:

The DocWay UI is a collection of Web Parts installed on a SharePoint Server .

The DocWay Server comprises two components that are always installed together even though they function independently.

  • The DocWay Web Service provides Search, Content Management, and Workflow services.
  • The DocWay Content Transfer Service (DocWay Transfer Service) provides transfer of content between the user’s desktop and individual Documentum Docbases

So, basically, what happens is:

  • A user logs into their SharePoint site that contains Web Parts supplied by the DocWay UI.
  • These Web Parts display meta-data gathered by the DocWay Server about content stored in the Documentum Docbases.
  • Should the user transfer content between their local storage and a Docbase, the transfer is made by the DocWay Transfer Service, bypassing SharePoint entirely.

Included Web Parts for End Users

  • Home Cabinet
  • Subscriptions
  • Checkouts
  • Recently Accessed Files
  • Inbox
  • My Workflows
  • Virtual Folders
  • Repository Browser
  • DQL Query
  • Object View
  • Search

Included Web Parts for Administrators

  • DocWay System Administrator
  • Menu Designer
  • Component Administration
  • Web Part Group Settings

Included Web Parts for Developers

  • DocWay Diagnostics
  • AJAX Call Viewer
  • HTTP Request Inspector
  • System Information

Wingspan produce several other products that allow integration between Documentum and SharePoint. One of these is eResults that I have posted several times about in this blog (see Tag Cloud).

Related Posts

  • New & Classic – Ways that SharePoint & Traditional ECM systems can play together

SharePoint & Powershell – a great post from Joel Olesen

Joel Olesen (SharePointJoel) has a great post out about Powershell and SharePoint. It is packed choca-full with information about Powershell.

I really recommend it:



Mark J Owen LinkedIn: http://nl.linkedin.com/in/markjowen blog:
https://markjowen.com twitter: @markjowen
http://www.sharepointjoel.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=362Hi GuysFound this great post on Powershell for SharePoint:http://www.sharepointjoel.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=362

Mark J Owen LinkedIn: http://nl.linkedin.com/in/markjowen blog:
https://markjowen.com twitter: @markjowen

  • Use PowerShell Cmdlets to Manage SharePoint Document Libraries – Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs (blogs.technet.com)
  • Current Script Path in PowerShell (mygeekyspot.wordpress.com)