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Rob Foster's House of Southern-Fried SharePoint

and other ramblings on enterprise technologies

Copyright: Rob Foster

Review: Trek 7.7 FX

Tue, 12 Oct 2010 09:56:31 GMT

Originally posted on:  I wanted to take some time off from my usual (or less than usual) technology blog to post a review of my road bike, the Trek 7.7 FX. I wanted to wait and get some miles on the road before posting any type of review to ensure I’m not in some sort of honeymoon period with the bike.  My goal was to post the review after 100 miles, but I am happy to say that tonight, I crossed 200 miles! Before getting into the specifics of the bike itself, let me tell you how I got here.  I knew I needed to do something to get in shape and I don’t like to run and am quite honestly not motivated enough to go to the gym.  I always had a bike in college and really enjoyed riding and have quite a few friends who now ride road bikes, so I thought this would be a good thing for me to do. When I went shopping for a bike, I had 3 goals in mind.  First, I wanted something that was comfortable to ride.  I knew that my butt would be hurting after the first few rides, but other than that, ergonomics was a big factor in my decision.  I work behind a computer a lot of times 12+ hours per day and my wrists/back/neck/shoulders just aren’t up to what they used to be, so I wanted something that wouldn’t kill me on longer rides. Second, I wanted something that was fast.  Nothing more to say here, other than a bike that would keep a good pace and is lightweight.  I evaluated both aluminum and carbon and settled on the aluminum option (more on that later). Third, I wanted something that I could pedal around the neighborhood with the kids as well as comfortably ride something like the Jack and Back as well.  Most road bikes are great for long races, but miserable when pedaling around with the kids.  With most hybrids, you would be NUTS to try a long race (Jack and Back is 150 miles over 2 days) as it just doesn’t have the speed to get you there.  The Trek 7.7 FX is a great combination of both a very fast road bike that’s comfortable like a hybrid and can easily slow down to speeds made for spinning around the neighborhood with the kids. Bike Geometry Believe it or not, I did a lot of studying on road bike geometry before making my final decision.  My top two choices were the Trek 4.7 Madone and the 7.7 FX.  They actually have nearly the same geometry with the FX having only a flat bar and the 4.7 having the traditional curly road bike bar (whatever it’s called).  I find that being 6’5” tall, I do sit up in the wind quite a bit and on a windy day I can really feel it slowing me down.  There’s not really a comfortable way to get out of the wind, so I am going to very likely add a tri-bar or something similar to give me another option to lean out of the wind.  Note this hasn’t affected my riding and has only added about 30 seconds – 1 minute to my usual ride of 16 miles, so it’s really not that big of a deal…I’m not Lance.  :) Let’s talk components: Shimano 105 When testing out road bikes, I noticed that many of the bikes in my price range started out with a minimum set of components: Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival.  I really liked the all around feel of the Shimano 105’s, so that helped me narrow my choices of bikes quite a bit.  These are the first level of the (what I call) “top-tier components” from Shimano.  If you move up the line, you just lose some weight, but the quality of the component is still the same.  Note that the main difference between the 7.6 FX and the 7.7 FX is the components.  The price of the 7.6 FX is $1240 vs. the 7.7 FX which comes in at $1920.  Yes, in this rare case the components really are that much better. Shifting is very fast and very precise.  It seems the more that I ride, the better the shifting gets.  It really is like a fine Swiss watch and shifts are crisp and immediate.  My mountain bike (which is what i have the most miles on) will grind on the gears before falling into place, which causes you to lose a lot of power going through the bike to the road.  The[...]

A view from the call center for the Nashville Flood telethon

Fri, 07 May 2010 12:28:58 GMT

Originally posted on:

I want to break away from my usual topic of something technical and talk about what I experienced tonight while working in the call center for the Nashville Flood telethon, which was broadcast on WSMV, CNN, and The Weather Channel. 

We started receiving calls about 7pm local time and to be honest, I had no idea what to expect when going into this.  I mean, I'm a pretty good talker, but this is different...We had a good script of what to say and how we were supposed to say it, as well as paper forms and pens that we used to collect information from people who wanted to donate their money to help.  I took my first few calls pretty easily and it went pretty quick and easy.  Everyone was upbeat and happy to be in the call center as well as people happy to be donating money. Pizza, snacks, and soft drinks were flowing well.  Everyone is smiling and happy.  :)

About 3 or 4 calls into my night, I got a call from a lady that had lost 2 family members in West Nashville who drowned in the floods.  She was crying when she called and I of course tried to console her.  She told me how bad her situation was, losing family members and much of her neighborhood.  After all this, she still just wanted to help other people.  She was donating all the money that she could to the telethon and I want to share a direct quote from her: "I want to donate this instead of buying flowers for my family members' funeral because people out there need help.".

Please let me pause while I get myself together .  That caught me so off guard (and still does).

I had kids calling wanting to donate their allowance, open their piggy banks, whatever they could do.  These are kids.  Kids not much older than my boys.  Kids who should be focused on buying the next cool video game or toy or whatever but wanted to do something.  Everyone just seemed to want to help. I took calls from as far away as British Columbia as well and pretty much coast to coast.  how cool is that?

Yet another thing that caught me off guard.  This kind lady that called from British Columbia told me how much she loved visiting Nashville and just hated to see this happen.  I belive that she said that she will be attending the CMA Fest this year too.  I was sure to tell her not to cancel her plans!  :)

It felt like every call I took (and I took A LOT, as did everyone else) was very personal and heartfelt.  I've never had the privelage to do anything like this and fell lucky to have been able to help out with answering phones and logging donations.  Nashville will bounce back very quickly, people are out there day and night helping each other, and the spirits are very high here. 

I hope that one day, my kids read this blog and better understand who they are, where they come from, and what the human spirt is and can be.  I love this city, I love the people here, I love the culture and even more than ever am proud to say that this is me.  This is us.  We are Nashville!


Preview of the SharePoint Pod Show Flier for the BPC in DC

Tue, 18 Aug 2009 21:48:41 GMT

Originally posted on:

We are very excited to have a flier that will be included with all of the bags that are given to the attendees of the SharePoint Best Practices Conference that is happening in Washington, DC.  Below is a preview of the final version that is going to print today.

Be sure to stop by and meet SharePoint Pod Show co-host Brett Lonsdale who will be standing at the Lightning Tools booth and signing his book “SharePoint 2007 Developer's Guide to Business Data Catalog” during the conference.



UCF Cuts MIS Degree Program

Mon, 08 Jun 2009 07:30:19 GMT

Originally posted on: blog is a response to the following report from the Orlando Sentinel that states that the University of Central Florida will be cutting the five following programs: Cardiopulmonary Sciences Engineering Technology Management Information Systems Statistics Actuarial Sciences,0,1772001.story   Now for my rant.  Having received my undergrad in MIS, this is mostly targeted at the university cutting the MIS program, which struck a chord with me.  :) Here is what I am having trouble understanding: How can a university cut a program that is in such high demand for people when they graduate?  Granted, it is a bit more difficult to get a job these days with no experience than it was in 1998 when I graduated, but jobs are still out there for quality people who want to work hard.  According to the university's President in the video posted below, students that have decided to major in one of these programs have been given two years to: complete their degree change their major move to another college Two years?  Are you serious?  Why not four years to allow time for the freshmen to complete the degree that they are paying for?  How arrogant and short sighted can an administration be?  The victims here are the students who have made a commitment to the university.  Something that's been happening a lot lately (and a lot of the people I work with are being affected) is the off shoring of jobs to India, China, and Eastern Europe where labor is cheaper and almost everyone employed in the IT industry have bachelors degrees (many have masters).  What I am afraid of is that if universities cut these programs then companies will be forced to offshore IT jobs because there will not be enough people coming into the industry to support the ever growing demand for IT people.  Not that this is a possibility, but who would have ever thought that a respectable university such as UCF would cut programs such as MIS?  (Disclaimer: I do support off shoring of the right projects in the right circumstances, but the stars do need to align to be successful.) I wanted to do this blog to bring an awareness to this and support of my future colleagues who are caught up in this mess (specifically, the UCF students that are majoring in one of these degree programs).  You should know that someone in the real world sees what's happening and is as disgusted as you.  As you move on with your degree, here are a few things that helped me out that I would like to share with you: Go to career fairs and talk to potential employers as soon as possible, it's NEVER too early. Try to get an internship.  Some of you have only two years to complete your degree and this might not be applicable.  For those of you who are moving on, this can help you tremendously and will give you an edge over the competition once you graduate. Study hard and try to understand the stuff that seems dumb to learn.  Here's what happened to me...I never knew why anyone would want to take a software architecture class.  I thought it was dumb and a waste of time when I was taking the class as I knew I was a coder and I wanted to write code.  Any guesses as to what I do all day, every day?  Software architecture!  Good thing I listened in class!  :) Support each other.  The people that you are in class now will eventually have jobs and then work their way into management at a company.  Make and keep those contacts.  You never know where you'll run into these people once you hit the working world. Have fun, enjoy college.  There are a lot of social functions that you should be attending...despite what you hear, it will help you later in life.  :)   Announcement from the university:[...]

SharePoint Pod Show Featured on the Microsoft MVP Blog

Tue, 19 May 2009 19:17:22 GMT

Originally posted on:

I woke up this morning to quite a nice surprise.  The SharePoint Pod Show is featured on the Microsoft MVP blog today!  It discusses our guests as well as our latest show about Test Driven Development.

Check it out here.

New SharePoint Training Company: Critical Path Training

Mon, 11 May 2009 08:42:15 GMT

Originally posted on:

As with any typical day, this afternoon I checked my Twitter feed to see Andrew Connell's big announcement that he and Ted Pattison have launched a new company called Critical Path Training.

I'm excited about this for multiple reasons.  First, take a look at their site...It's all SharePoint 2007 WCM and it's smoking fast!  Nice work on the site guys!  It's good to see another successful WCM implementation on SharePoint!

Here is what makes me really excited about the launch of this new company.  If you have never seen Ted or Andrew teach, give a seminar or conference session then you are truely missing out.  These guys are the best out there, period.  Every time that I see either of them up on stage or in a classroom, I learn something.  If it's not the content it's their stage presence.  If it's not the stage presence, it's the flow of the content and demos.  You get the idea. 

There is a lot of value added to your experience to take the classes offered by these guys.  You can really learn and understand the SharePoint platform quickly by sitting with these guys in a classroom for a week (or two). 

New SharePoint BDC Book coming soon!

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 01:14:43 GMT

Originally posted on:

I am very excited about the new BDC book that is coming out soon from SharePoint Pod Show co-hosts Brett Lonsdale and Nick Swan called "SharePoint 2007 Developer's Guide to the BDC".  I have had a chance to review some of the chapters in this book and am very excited to see something like this hit the market.

You can check out the details of the book at the following link as well as pre-order a copy.

The Big SharePoint Survey Results are In!

Wed, 28 Jan 2009 09:00:20 GMT

Originally posted on:

In Episode 15 of the SharePoint Pod Show, we discussed the preliminary results from the Big SharePoint Survey that was conducted by Lightning Tools.  The results are in and you can get them here:

SharePoint Survey (image)

SharePoint Pod Show Episode 15 is Live!

Tue, 20 Jan 2009 22:13:53 GMT

Originally posted on:

We had fun with this one and I hope that you enjoy it as well.  In this episode, you will hear our cheeky humor as well as learn where to focus your SharePoint skills for 2009.

Get it here (image)

Take the Big SharePoint Survey

Tue, 06 Jan 2009 22:07:57 GMT

Originally posted on:


Our friends at Lightning Tools have created another survey so that you can provide feedback on how you are using SharePoint.  The results of this survey will be posted on their site as well as discussed in a future episode of the SharePoint Pod Show

Take the Survey here.


Documenting Your SharePoint Application Design-Part 2, The Process

Tue, 30 Dec 2008 10:24:07 GMT

Originally posted on:  In Part 1 of this series, we looked at a simple template to help you can use to help document the security roles that need to get created for your new SharePoint application.  In this part, we will look at a common process that is used to augment your Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)and targets applications that you think might be suitable for running on the SharePoint platform. As you read through this blog post it is important to note that this process (or something similar) can be used to augment your SDLC, not replace it.  SharePoint does a lot out of the box and can be configured to solve a wide variety of business problems.  However, many of your SharePoint-based applications will require custom development.  When developing custom code for SharePoint, you should always follow your existing SDLC process. There are many many blogs/articles/books/etc. that describe how to properly document, architect, develop, test, etc. your application.  There hasn’t been much written on how to properly document an application that is configured rather than custom developed.  Many times (especially in larger organizations), SharePoint configuration is not done by a development team but rather a configuration team with skills specializing in SharePoint Designer.  Before we discuss this, let’s look at an example of a process that can be used for SharePoint application configuration: Let’s walk through each phase of the process and describe the flow. 1.1 Receive Requirements, 1.2 Review Requirements, 1.3 Revise Requirements This process starts at the time that the Architect receives the application’s requirements.  At this time, it is typical that he/she will review the requirements and determine what type of application is required (custom developed application or SharePoint application).  During the requirements review (which usually occurs with a representative of the business and a business analyst), you will quickly begin to understand what type of application will need to be built.  This is the time at which you will need to revise the requirements to ensure the best technology fit for whatever type of application you will be building.  If the requirements need revision, then you as the architect will need to help revise the requirements and then either re-review or proceed to the next step. 2.0 Determine the Application Type Probably the most important decision that you are going to have to make in this process is to determine what type of application that you will need to build.  This decision will determine how successful your application will be once the users start using it.  Many times, your users will have in their mind what type of application they want, but you will need to make the final decision.  As a side note, you can get into a real bind if you try to fit a square peg into a round hole here.  If your application should live in SharePoint then design it to do so, if not then you will need to develop something custom.  The key advice that I can give you from experience here is try to stay objective and don’t let politics, or preconceived notions get in the way of the right decision.  You will be thankful in the end.  If you are going to build a custom application, proceed to step 7.0, which is your existing SDLC.  If you are going to be building a SharePoint application, proceed to step 3.0 and perform a gap analysis. 3.0 Perform a Gap Analysis Now that you have decided that you will be building a SharePoint application, you will need to do a gap analysis against the requirements.  You can easily store the requirements in a Sh[...]

Documenting Your SharePoint Application Design-Part 1

Wed, 17 Dec 2008 09:50:37 GMT

Originally posted on:  Download the design template here. In my role, I am lucky enough to get to design lots of very cool software to solve (sometimes difficult) business problems.  Many times, these applications involve design solutions that leverage SharePoint technologies.  In this series, I will be discussing some of the design patterns and documentation patterns that I have encountered in my applications. Disclaimer: this documentation is given as-is, so please use it and modify it as needed to meet your needs.  This is just something to help you (and me) get jump-started on building and designing better solutions for SharePoint. :-) One of the production issues that I have encountered revolves around setting up and configuring security groups within SharePoint.  If you give your users too much control, they sometimes go nuts and end up trashing the site’s security.  On the other hand, if you don’t give them enough control, then they might not be able to do what they need to in the site.  There is quite a delicate balance of architectural design and user control that you must manage through processes and documentation.  As the designer of the system, it is your job to review the application’s requirements and determine what security roles that users will need to accomplish their jobs in the application.  Lucky for us, SharePoint has quite an extensive (if not overwhelming) security model that you can use to either grant or deny a user’s rights in your application.  First, let’s take a look at the different user roles that SharePoint offers: Permission Level Description Full Control Has full control. Design Can view, add, update, delete, approve, and customize. Manage Hierarchy Can create sites and edit pages, list items, and documents. Approve Can edit and approve pages, list items, and documents. Contribute Can view, add, update, and delete. Read Can view only. Restricted Read Can view pages and documents, but cannot view historical versions or review user rights information. Limited Access Can view specific lists, document libraries, list items, folders, or documents when given permissions. View Only Members of this group can view pages, list items, and documents. If the document has a server-side file handler available, they can only view the document using the server-side file handler. These user roles are completely out of the box and available to every site that you create in SharePoint.  Many times, you can use these roles in your application as they map to the most common user roles and functions that are typically found in a SharePoint application.  You should start with these to see if they will meet your needs and add users to these groups. Now what happens if you n[...]

SharePoint Pod Show Episode 12 is now live (our BDC show)

Fri, 12 Dec 2008 02:19:09 GMT

Originally posted on:

You can download Episode 12 here.

In this episode, Nick, Brett, and I discuss the SharePoint 2007 Business Data Catalog, how to use it, and how it can save you a bunch of money.  :-)  Check it out!

I've Updated My RSS

Sat, 06 Dec 2008 09:19:17 GMT

Originally posted on:

Please subscribe to my new feed here: