Archive for August, 2008

Do Sick People Read SharePoint Blogs?!

August 14th, 2008 11 comments

I knew that Internet is full of sick people , but I never knew that sick people read SharePoint blogs as well! Since couple months ago, I have been repeatedly harassed by some morons who leave comments with racist content and literally insult my background.This is a technical blog and has nothing to do with politics, race, religion and what’s going on in this world! I’m politically naive and I want nothing from this life except peace for myself, which I have finally found in my second home (Canada).

I just wanted to let you sick people know that if you continue to bug me , I will publish all your comments with WHOIS information including the country code, City and the IP from which you connect to Internet. Leave me alone!

Categories: General Tags:

Timebombed VM (Part 3):Distribution

August 11th, 2008 No comments

In part 2, we went through the process of creating a differencing drive based off a timebombed virtual image from Microsoft. Now, let’s look at what the value proposition of this process is. First, you have built a virtual machine that has a timer bomb in it. Second , instead of distributing the whole VM machine, you only distributed a much smaller differencing drive. You can tell others to download the MS base image, rename it to what you chose for the base image and place it in the same folder. Then ask them to create a new virtual machine and point to your differencing drive. That’s all! Let’s go through the step by step practice together:

1) Download my differencing drive from here. It is only 4.54 MB!

2) Unzip and place DhWSSDevDiff.vhd in a folder in your hard disk. For example “F:\Test\DhWSSDevDiff.vhd“. It is not important where you place it.

3) Download this MS image from the download center. I used this image, so you must use this one as well.

4) Unzip and place WSS.vhd in the same folder as DhWSSDevDiff.vhd.

5) Rename WSS.vhd to MsWSSBaseWithSP1.vhd. I used this name for my base image, so you must use the same name as well.

6) Create a virtual machine and point it to my differencing drive (DhWSSDevDiff.vhd).

7) Start your virtual machine. Once you login, your desktop looks like the below picture.

8 ) Great! Now ,you have learned how to ship your functionalities in a diff drive protected by Microsoft EULA and timer bomb in the base image– Thanks MS!


Like any other workaround, this has its own demerits:

  1. You are locked down to the expiration dates MS places on their images. As I alluded to in part 1,  there is going to be at least one SharePoint images available to use in this process until Sep 2009.
  2. You have to use the correct base image, otherwise this doesn’t work. Using the same base image is a very important step!
  3. There is a point of no return when using differing drives. If for any reasons base image needs to be updated, you need to rebuild the differencing drive and redistribute it. You can’t expect those changes to be propagated to your differencing drives automatically. An image that is used as the base for differencing drives must be sealed (Make It Read only). Changes to the base image will cause unexpected behaviors in the derived vhds if they are not rebuilt.
  4. The point of no return is also true about the base image. If you need to retimebomb it, you need to to build and redistribute your differencing drive again.

I still have to verify when the counter starts. From when you built your diff drive or from when your customer attaches your diff drive to their base trial image? Either case , they have 30 days maximum to play with the virtual machine and they can’t use the machine when the current date > VM drop dead expiration date (Septemberish!).

If you are downloading my diff drive available here one month after the date of this blog post ( the same date I built the diff drive) and following the steps above and you see the time bomb gets activated , please leave me a comment here and let me know that the bomb was exploded properly.

In case you need to add a prelogin image to your timebombed VM providing your users with login and other useful information, just create a BMP image and store it somewhere. Then fire up regedit and put the full path in HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop\Wallpaper key:


And here is the end result:


Categories: MOSS 2007 Tags:

Timebombed VM (Part 2):Build

August 11th, 2008 No comments

In part 1, I gave you an introduction on what I want to accomplish in these blog post series. In case you haven’t read it yet, please have a look. Now, let’s get your hand dirty:

1) You need to download a trial image first. Let’s get started with this one.

2) Put it in a folder (say “D:\VPC\Trial”) and change the name to MsWSSBaseWithSP1.vhd.

3) Using VPC 2007 , create a virtual machine and point it to the vhd drive you’ve just downloaded. If you are using Virtual Server 2005 R2, read this paper on how to work with differencing drives.

4) Click on Settings, choose Hard Disk 1 and click on Virtual Disk Wizard.

5) Next, choose “Create a New virtual disk”.

6) In next dialog box, choose “A virtual hard disk” and click next.

7) Specify “D:\VPC\Trial” as your Virtual Hard Disk Location (same location as you placed MsWSSBaseWithSP1.vhd) and give it a name. I named mine DhWSSDevDiff.vhd.

8 ) Next you need to choose Differencing in Virtual Hard Disk Options.

9) Now select “D:\VPC\Trial\MsWSSBaseWithSP1.vhd” as the parent virtual hard disk for your new differencing drive. Then click Finish.

10) You should get a dialog box like below. Also note how small new diff drive is. That’s because, it has nothing on it yet.

11) Before you fire up the virtual machine, make sure you do two things:

  • You make the base image Read Only.
  • You get the Hard Disk 1 (previously pointing to the base image) to point to the diff drive instead.

12) Go ahead and fire up new virtual machine.By the time you get to the OS login page, your new diff drive has increased in size.

13) Login and here is your timebombed machine:

I placed my contact information on the desktop and changed the background so when you download the image, you know that this is my diff drive showing up in your virtual machine. You can download this diff drive from here. Okay, Let’s move on to part 3.

Categories: MOSS 2007 Tags:

Timebombed VM (Part 1):Introduction

August 11th, 2008 No comments

Thought about placing a timer bomb in a virtual machine?  If yes, you probably know it is not an easy thing to do. Yeah! Microsoft places all these timer bombs in their trial images and make them expire after 30 days or when passing beyond a certain date, but there is no documentation anywhere so you can follow to get yours going. Apparently, there is a specific group in MS, responsible for designing, activating and placing all these bombies on various VMs.

Paul Andrew and Andrew Connell showed me how to work around this by using differencing drives , exclusive features of Virtual Server and VPC. I too decided to share the experience with you. Almost a year ago, in this paper I showed you how you can use differencing drives to chain various machines together and come up with your own SharePoint dev environment, but I absolutely had no idea that I can use the same technique to come up with timebombed VMs.

Since SharePoint was RTMed, there has been always a trial (30 days) image being available for people to download and play with. These images come in full blown with all required bits installed to test drive SharePoint. They either expire after 30 days (unless you activate it using a non-VL MSDN key) or after a certain date is reached and bascially timebomb gets activated (mostly around September each year) . For example the RTM Image  which was released in late July 2007 would expire on Sep 2008. Later, Paul Andrew put this one (SP1 SlipStream Image) up there in June 2008 that would expire on Sep 2008.

There will be more FREE images coming down the pipe that pushes the expiration date out to Sep 2009.That being said,there is always an image from MS that has been timebombed. BTW, Keep an eye on this blog post for updates as they become available.

So why is this important?

If it is not an easy task to place your own timer bomb and If Microsoft has already timebombed all its trial images released to public (with all the software and tools you get for trial in those images), why can’t we just reuse this mechanism (It’s all about reusability babe! 😉 ) and build our own machines on the top of theirs while relying on their time bomb capability? How? Okay, you need to read Part 2 then.

Update(18/October/2008): A new MOSS 2007 Virtual machine has just been pushed out to the MS download site. Check out my post here.

Categories: MOSS 2007 Tags:


August 10th, 2008 No comments

From the time I was a little kiddo, I’d spend hours walking along our house in Tehran looking for spiders and watching them while they were spinning their web. In all honesty, at the age of 31, I still get the same level of excitement as I did way back then.I don’t take expeditions looking for rare spiders in the most remote jungles on Earth!, but thankfully, I live in a place surrounded by spiders! I share my back yard (in Toronto) with 2 or 3 different types of spider. They never cease to amaze me by their masterpieces they build, innate intelligence and sophisticated calculations to produce webs.

Since then, I’ve seen many interesting behaviors from this little (sometimes private) bug. Things like eating their own web to recoup some of the lost energy during construction phase, cutting off extra supporting threads after the structure is built or building super complex constructions collaboratively with other spiders (obviously,those who are more extrovert 😉 ).

The part that I’m most fascinated with is that spider uses its own body as a measuring device and that’s why from measuring and spacing perspective, the structures they usually build look so even, strong and sophisticated.What else is interesting?… Web is built in a way that allows the spider to catch its prey with minimal efforts.An easy meal , sometimes served with its own sticky Web (source of protein…mmmmm…!!). Unfortunately , I still haven’t had the chance to visually observe the most difficult and challenging part of the construction, the first thread!

How the hell they can span their web in huge distances -some as much as six to eight feet in length between trees?As I said above , I have never seen this part, but based on my readings, I found that the spider utilizes the wind to carry its initial thread – and that’s the sticky thread (apparently they use two types of thread). If she is lucky , the first thread will land to where she wants it to land otherwise she goes for it “as is”.  That makes sense , because If you look at crazy web structures, they are mostly built outside and usually in windy conditions.

Couple days ago,  I found one of the best web structures that I’ve ever seen in my life in my back yard. Why is it interesting? Well, the center point is not a big deal , but three things about this structure needs to be highlighted here:

1) Measurement: Look at the distance between A and B (measured by a measuring tape so I could be be off a little bit). She built the center point right in the middle of the thread!

2) Stability: The way my girl built her web , right in the air and strengthen it by thread C (attached to the ground) is fascinating.It was a windy day , but the structure was amazingly holding up.

3) Speed: This must have been built in 8 hours max. Eight hours before I saw this, I walked through that area and because I am for sure taller than 45″ (Thread C) I could have screwed my babe’s catching net. So yes! there is no way she could have spent more than 8 hours on this.

Think about it for a sec! We (as human being) think that we are smart, right? We have all the tools available, everything, right? Now my question is : Can we build a structure, hundred times bigger than our body, using NOTHING except our own shit? In less than 8 hours? No way!


Photo Stream:If you like to see more pictures ,click here.
Categories: General Tags: