Internet Explorer 8 Blocker Toolkit arrives

As with IE7, Microsoft is planning to distribute IE8 as a high-priority update through Automatic Updates (AU), as well as the Windows Update (WU) and Microsoft Update (MU) services. The company is also offering a tool for those who want to avoid the automatic distribution: the Internet Explorer 8 Blocker Toolkit is available for download from the Microsoft Download Center (MDC).

IE8 will be sent out automatically sometime after it is available as a download on MDC. The toolkit will turn IE8 into an optional update on all supported operating systems: Windows XP SP2 and above, Windows Server 2003 SP2 and above, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008. For Vista and Server 2008, IE8 will be listed as Important, while for XP and Server 2003, the update will be listed as High Priority. The tool is mainly aimed at IT professionals working in a corporate environment who still need test the new browser with internal applications and sites, although individuals may use it as well.

The release comes just before Microsoft is expected to give the public an IE8 Release Candidate. A final version is expected sometime after, possibly in April. The latest build Microsoft gave testers was 8.0.6001.18344, which was given out as part of an out-of-band security update. Right before that, testers were given RC1 (8.0.6001.18343). The public still only has access to IE8 Beta 2, which was released in August.

Reflecting images with Javascript

Recently I had to “beautify” a menu with some reflection. Silverlight for various reasons failed to be a viable solution so I had to go all out custom. As I’m a serial cut and paster I decided to use a very handy library I stumbled across in the past. Reflection. To quote the author, it is:

  • Fun and easy to implement! Just add class=”reflect” to your images
  • Automatically blends into background colours or images
  • It’s easy to vary the reflection height and opacity
  • Can respond to user actions through Javascript
  • Degrades in older browsers; they won’t notice a thing!
  • It’s smaller in size than most images; under 5KB!

This is extremely easy to use. It works in all the major browsers – Internet Explorer 5.5+, Mozilla Firefox 1.5+, Safari, Google Chrome and Opera 9+. On older browsers, it degrades nicely.

Well worth a visit. You can even demo it out first here:

WSRP Toolkit for SharePoint: Aka render SharePoint data natively from BEA AquaLogic Portal, IBM WebSphere Portal, SAP NetWeaver Enterprise Portal etc.

The WSRP Toolkit for SharePoint provides sample code for producing WSRP conformant data from SharePoint lists and libraries. External portal platforms (e.g. BEA AquaLogic Portal, IBM WebSphere Portal, SAP NetWeaver Enterprise Portal etc.) can then render SharePoint data natively through their WSRP consumer portlets. The Toolkit is available now for download from the MSDN Code Gallery.

Specifically it consists of

  1. Visual Studio sample projects that demonstrate two different approaches to producing WSRP conformant output from SharePoint lists and libraries
  2. A whitepaper that provides details on the different architectural approaches of the two WSRP producer samples
  3. Screen casts showing the two WSRP producer samples in action

Of course WSRP is just one of many options available to support portal interoperability and Microsoft continues to invest in open standards for interoperability including XML based web services, CMIS, Office Open XML, RSS and REST. Microsoft is also investing heavily in Silverlight, designed to deliver rich user experiences and applications across multiple platforms. For more details on the SharePoint interoperability story, visit the TechNet Office SharePoint Server Interoperability TechCenter.

Reflecting images with Javascript under 5k

If you need to add a reflection to an image or series of images on a site with minimal overhead a handy solution is Reflection. To add a reflection you just add a class=”reflect” to the image and the reflection will automatically fade into the background colour.

Reflection.js allows you to add reflections to images on your webpages. It uses unobtrusive javascript to keep your code clean.

It works in all the major browsers – Internet Explorer 5.5+, Mozilla Firefox 1.5+, Safari, Google Chrome and Opera 9+. On older browsers, it’ll degrade and your visitors won’t notice a thing. Best of all, it’s under 5KB.”

Get it here:

When did you last check your backups?

I am oft called “paranoid”, which I prefer to think of more as “highly aware”, when it comes to backups. The more baskets you have, the better your chances when you need to catch something. STSADM export function is your friend. Use it, test it, and do so frequently (I do it with virtual environments.) Because when the fan starts going chunka-chunka you do not want to be left wondering anything more than how many hours downtime are coming. Case in point, about not testing your backups not SharePoint / STSADM, Journal space literally evaporated this week…

Journalspace is no more.
DriveSavers called today to inform me that the data was unrecoverable.
Here is what happened: the server which held the journalspace data had two large drives in a RAID configuration. As data is written (such as saving an item to the database), it’s automatically copied to both drives, as a backup mechanism.
The value of such a setup is that if one drive fails, the server keeps running, using the remaining drive. Since the remaining drive has a copy of the data on the other drive, the data is intact. The administrator simply replaces the drive that’s gone bad, and the server is back to operating with two redundant drives.
But that’s not what happened here. There was no hardware failure. Both drives are operating fine; DriveSavers had no problem in making images of the drives. The data was simply gone. Overwritten.
The data server had only one purpose: maintaining the journalspace database. There were no other web sites or processes running on the server, and it would be impossible for a software bug in journalspace to overwrite the drives, sector by sector.
The list of potential causes for this disaster is a short one. It includes a catastrophic failure by the operating system (OS X Server, in case you’re interested), or a deliberate effort. A disgruntled member of the Lagomorphics team sabotaged some key servers several months ago after he was caught stealing from the company; as awful as the thought is, we can’t rule out the possibility of additional sabotage.
But, clearly, we failed to take the steps to prevent this from happening. And for that we are very sorry.
So, after nearly six years, journalspace is no more.
If you haven’t yet, visit
Dorrie’s Fun Forum; it’s operated by a long-time journalspace member. If you’re continuing your blog elsewhere, you can post the URL there so people can keep up with you.
We’re considering releasing the journalspace source code to the open source community. We may also sell the journalspace domain and trademarks. Follow us on twitter at for news.”