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What about those blog posts that I’ve never published?

I’ve had some time to clean up and get rid of dusty things in my life. We’ve all had that time, I guess. Besides physical things, I’ve also cleaned plenty of digital assets that I no longer need. The intention is not to go all Marie Kondo, but instead sort out things I no longer need.

One of those things has been draft blog posts in this blog. My usual workflow does not require me to create drafts to remember what to write (I use Microsoft To-Do for that), so I’ve had some drafts patiently waiting for me to finish them. But then the world moved on and some of those drafts didn’t age too well. So, let’s have a look at some of those drafts before I delete them for good!

I will start with the oldest draft I have – it’s aptly titled Solving multilingual challenges when implementing a SharePoint solution – from OOB to FTC to CAM and it’s dated March 26, 2013. I was trying to find my voice for this blog, and I figured since I had extensive knowledge on SharePoint, I could start writing more technical articles on those esoteric issues many SharePoint developers and IT Pros encounter. This sure didn’t age well – it’s focused on the On-Premises SharePoint world, and it’s written before the latest SharePoint customization approaches were announced.

Here’s a highlight from this draft post:

Each LP has a unique language identified (ID). This is based on .NET Framework’s Locale Model, so it’s fairly easy to memorize the most common ones you need. English (US) is 1033, French is 1036, Finnish is 1035 and Swedish is 1053. 1032 is all Greek to me.

You’ll need the ID whenever you perform maintenance or provisioning tasks within SharePoint and need to reference a specific language version. For example, when you provision a new Sharepoint sub site using Powershell, you can pass the desired ID for New-SPWeb with the –LanguageID parameter.

Language Packs must be installed on each server in the farm – that is, each web and application server. Obviously not needed on database servers. The installation unpacks necessary assets to %SHAREPOINTROOT%\15\Template\<LanguageID>\ directory.

And the draft is deleted!

The next draft post is relatively new, from May, 2018. It’s titled Securing USB drives with Windows 10 (was: IBM bans all removable storage devices). The etymology for this post was this El Reg article about IBM banning the use of removable (flash) drives at their offices. I’m not sure what sparked me to write about this, but I soon delved deeper into the intrinsic models on how to manage unsecured flash drives using Windows 10. I’m opening the blog post with a bit of history from 2000:

This got me thinking about USB flash drives in particular. The first USB flash drive was made commercially available by the same company banning the use of flash drives, IBM (together with Trek Technology). This was in late 2000, and it was a 8 MB drive. I recall purchasing a 64 MB variant from IBM around late 2001 for 100 € at the time. Keep in mind that this was a time when CD-ROM drives where a big thing but error-prone and slow. Having a stick-sized USB device that did not break if it got scratched, was something else.

Wow, 8 MB USB flash drives. I can’t say I’m longing for the “good ol’ days” that much. I then wrote a half-pager opinion piece on why I think the ban isn’t a good policy, and then I started dipping deeper into how BitLocker could be used:

Windows has a variant of Bitlocker encryption called Bitlocker-to-go. In its simplest form, an IT admin or power user only needs to do the following to secure a single USB flash drive:

1. Insert unencrypted USB flash drive in your Windows 10 PC

2.

I gave up after the first step. And that article is trashed now, too!

Then, in September 2018 I wrote a massive review on Microsoft Surface Go – the 10″ productivity tablet. I’m not sure why I never published it. Initially, it was too harsh, as I was deeply disappointed with the device after purchasing it. Later I got to like it a bit more but for the last year, it’s been in my drawer, untouched and forgotten. The opening of the post explains how I got it:

I was visiting New York City (or is it just ‘New York’ now?) in late July, and checked for my pre-order from the Microsoft Store. It still showed August 28th with the keyboard. The two Microsoft stores on Manhattan had already sold out both models but one Best Buy still had a few left. So I went in, spent a few minutes with the demo machine and bought the higher-end model without a keyboard. It came to around $580 with taxes. It’s definitely not cheap, but I had been researching a new laptop for myself around the same time, and $580 felt awfully cheap when looking at the $3999 Surface Book 2 at the same time. I did not buy the Surface Book 2, because it’s $3999.

I wrote quite honestly about the battery life then:

My Surface Laptop gives me around 4-5 hours of battery life, with the i5 processor. It’s far from what I expected, but still something I can handle in my daily work. This is with the display brightness set to 50% or 75%, and without battery saver in Windows 10. Chrome and Microsoft To-Do take the heaviest toll on battery life. I’ve seen To-Do consume as much as 40% of battery, which seems like Windows 10 simply estimates it incorrectly.

Powercfg.exe’s Battery Report estimates the usual runtime at 4 hours 30 minutes, which seems about right. Switching to Edge might give an hour or more, but I’m too heavily invested with Chrome in all of my devices already.

And a bit more harshly on using the device without a keyboard as a tablet:

I’m a Google Chrome user, and it is not optimized for touch displays. Well, actually it is if you’re on a mobile device. But with a 10″ screen, Chrome is painful to use. This coupled with very jerky scrolling in Chrome made me reach for my phone far too often, even if the Surface Go was sitting right next to me on the sofa. Edge is buttery smooth, as is OneNote. Pinch zoom and scrolling are really only issues with Win32 software, and not for Microsoft Store apps.

I knew before getting the device that rotating the screen will not yield a fluid animation from horizontal to vertical and vice versa. It’s still as bad as years ago, so  I try to avoid using the device in horizontal mode.

As a tablet, the Surface Go is really mediocre. The Pentium Gold processor seems to be capped at 2 GHz, and it shows. The occasional stutter in Chrome, and slightly longer load times are noticeable but understandable. At times it feels that since the device is fanless, it throttles way too often and easily. It vaguely reminds me of the old Netbooks, although I think I’ve gotten used to the relaxed performance of the device.

That draft is now also deleted. Feels good to get rid of old things.

Then, early 2018 I wrote about Migrating a WordPress blog to Azure App Service from a third party hosting provider. I never posted this either, as I never got around to finishing it – and I realized I bashed on ClearDB quite a bit in another post, so it didn’t make sense to continue that path any longer. The background within the draft explains this further:

Initially I started with my blog using WordPress installed in a virtual machine that ran in Azure. I think the platform was called Windows Azure back in the day. I had a simple installation of IIS, PHP and MySQL running in the same VM, and it mostly worked.

However I craved to move for a more modern platform. I love WordPress, but I also feel I should be able to run it directly as a cloud native service. I knew about WordPress.org’s offerings, thus I also felt I wanted more control. Just in case I needed to change or fix anything without artificial limits a service provider might introduce. At first, this was a dream setup. Fully controllable WordPress in my own VM, and speedy MySQL offloaded elsewhere. Until it started failed. It failed a lot. It also became slow, and over time ClearDB started raising their prices. 

Now that I’m using WordPress as a fully hosted solution from a third-party, I have even less interest to finalize this. Draft deleted.

And then on to something more exotic – a draft on Integrating Microsoft SharePoint 2013 and Atlassian Confluence 5.x. This is from 2014, I think. It goes through painful details on how to build the setup, and the integrate Confluence with an On-Premises SharePoint 2013.

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A single Active Directory forest (dev.local) with 3 member servers: SP, Confluence and SQL. Based on Atlassian’s recommendation (or rather a direct requirement) I’m using Confluence with local database, so SQL Server is only for SharePoint in this architecture.

All users have domain accounts, and access SharePoint using domain credentials. The aim of this approach is to allow users all SharePoint features, while providing features from an existing Confluence to SharePoint. For this, I’m using the Confluence SharePoint Connector 1.8 from Atlassian.

The connector is two parts: SharePoint solutions packages, and a JAR package for Confluence. and they even give you the sources.

How things have changed in just 6 years. Draft deleted. Feeling lightweight now.

And then, in April 2017 I wrote a draft on how I use Microsoft To-Do. It’s uninteresting in its own right, but the opening has some fun history:

I’ve been using numerous different to-do apps in my career. When I started in the early 90’s, it was a fancy text file on a Linux server that I edited by hand with pico and vi. That is also how I learned how to exit vi and vim without rebooting the server. From there I progressed to Outlook tasks eventually, but those never took off for me. They were too hidden, cumbersome to use and sharing tasks with colleagues was practically impossible at the time.

Since then, I’ve always returned to my initial version of using a text file stored in a central location, that I edit by hand. For me, that central location is a Dropbox folder and a file called TODO.txt. Granted, there isn’t much sharing happening from that text file to anyone else, as most of the items in the file are private, and more of “think about X, and then do Y” scribings than actual go do-tasks.

I’m proud to say I no longer use a TODO.txt file.

I have more drafts still, but upon looking at them just now I realize a few of them are posts I plan on finishing. One is about remote work, and another on developing solutions for Azure. Stay tuned!