Thursday, September 15, 2011

using mac function keys in a remote windows session

Thursday, September 15, 2011
this one was really frustrating to figure out. my company has a terminal application that requires function keys to navigate. my home computer is a mac based OS with a mac wireless keyboard, and so when i work from home, i have to use this workaround in order to navigate that terminal app:

fn-option-<function key>
fn-command-<function key>

yes, it takes both combinations for one function key. so, for example, to use f12:

page up & down are similar:
fn-option-<up arrow>
fn-command-<up arrow>

Friday, September 3, 2010

VNC from a Windows PC to Mac OS

Friday, September 3, 2010
i spent a few hours recently trying to make this work... it should be a straightforward thing to remotely connect to a mac from a PC. but the two platforms, like cain and abel, just seem to hate each other.

Configure your mac to accept an incoming connection.
enabling remote access in mac OS X is easy. system preferences->sharing->screen sharing. select the computer settings button, and select the option to allow VNC access with a password. pleeeez... password your shits or suffer the wrath of khan! leave the other options at default.

Make note of your mac's IP address.

system preferences->network. look at the TCP/IP information for whatever network interface your using. if you have an ethernet cable connected to your mac, you're looking for the built-in ethernet IP Address. or your mac could be using a wireless airport connection. Screenshots and steps explaining how to find the IP Address of your mac.

Install a VNC client on your PC.
i use the free version of RealVNC. the download screen asks for your contact information, but none of the fields are required. so just skip down to the Download button. once you download the file and start the installation wizard, take the defaults... except where it asks if you want to install VNC Server or VNC Viewer or both. you only need VNC Viewer.

theoretically, you should be ready to fly. but in my case, when i tried to connect to the mac using VNC viewer, a saw a quick flash and then NOTHING. oooo. ahhhh.

the solution was to create a VNC preferences file.


copy the above and paste into notepad. be sure to insert the IP Address for your mac on the HOST line. when you save the file, enclose the name in quotes with a .vnc on the end. for example, i called mine: "mac.vnc"
this forces notepad to save the file as .vnc type instead of .txt

Create a batch file to run VNC viewer with the .vnc settings file.
i don't want to have to bring up the command prompt and type blah blah blah every time i VNC to my mac. waste o time.
so... i created a batch file so all i have to do is double click on an icon when i want to connect. the process:
copy the following into a new notepad file and save as "vnc_mac.bat" (quotes are important so notepad doesn't save it as .txt)
start "vnc" "c:\program files\realvnc\vnc4\vncviewer.exe" -config "c:\program files\realvnc\vnc4\mac.vnc"

some things to note: your mac.vnc file needs to be in the same folder as your VNC viewer executable. in most cases, your path will be the same as the one above. but it's possible you may need to change the file path (if you didn't install RealVNC on your C:\ for example).

i then put my mac_vnc.bat file in My Documents and created a shortcut to the desktop.

double click the shortcut on your desktop to mac_vnc.bat, and you should be prompted for the VNC password you set on your mac.

and all is happy with the world.

goodbye sharepoint, hello other nerdle realms...

i no longer have access to a production sharepoint environment, and as such, i probably won't be blogging much about adventures in sharepoint.

but i'm a nerdle to the core... so there will always be things i learn that maybe are of interest to others out there in the cybersphere.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Non-Specific Data Source Error in Sharepoint Data View Web Part

Friday, January 22, 2010
I ran into another annoyingly generic M$ error today when trying to configure the data source for a Data View web part (DVWP) in Sharepoint Designer.  I had created a SQL view which referenced some Sharepoint list data, did some calculations in SQL, and I wanted to show the results back in Sharepoint.

I was able to successfully show the list of SQL tables / views in the data source manager, but as soon as I selected my SQL view and clicked Next, I saw:
"Server Error: An error occurred while retrieving the list of Databases from : The server for the data source returned a non-specific error when trying to execute your query. Check the format and content of your query and try again. If the problem persists, contact the server administrator."
I found a forum where a user suggested that the issue was  Sharepoint Designer failing to properly handle SQL queries that were missing fully qualified table references.  I played around with that idea and determined through testing that it wasn't the source of my problem.

But, it did cause me to remember that the SQL database in which I'd created my view was not the Sharepoint Content database, and I had referenced Sharepoint data.  The view ran fine in SQL.  But I wasn't configuring the Data View web part with *my* credentials.

Problem resolved:  in SQL, add a User Mapping to the Sharepoint Content database in the properties of the login I was using in my Data View

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Failed to Load" workflow in Sharepoint Designer

Tuesday, January 5, 2010
i ran across this error today when attempting to open existing workflows, and found several posts which indicate the folder under \Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Microsoft\SharePoint Designer\ProxyAssemblyCache need to be deleted (after closing Designer).

this didn't work in my case.  it did allow me to create new workflows, but i wasn't able to open my existing ones.

and then i remembered the other day, i was troubleshooting a different sharepoint issue and in doing so, i replaced web.config with an earlier copy.  it didn't fix my other issue, but i also didn't restore the web.config to the later version.

so, i put the latest copy of web.config back in place, renaming the older, "safe" copy of the file.  i then deleted the folder, and launched SPD.

and there was much joy & singing across the land.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Finding the Elusive Lookup Field with SQL Query against Sharepoint's Backend Database

Thursday, December 10, 2009
Because Sharepoint data is housed in SQL, it's possible to query it using T-SQL (example here ).  Of course, M$ says you shouldn't query the database directly, as it could impact performance, schema could suddenly change with a sharepoint update, blah blah blah.  There ARE supported ways in which to query Sharepoint data in SQL, such as Sharepoint List Association Manager on codeplex.

Finding the data isn't too hard.  But the other day I encountered a list with fields of type "lookup" in sharpeoint, and realized that lookup fields are handled differently in the database.  You can't just look at the UserData table fields like you can with other types of data.

Lookup data requires a JOIN between UserData and AllUserData tables on the UserData.intX and AllUserData.tp_ID fields for the corresponding list in AllUserData.  So, I used the concept of querying Sharepoint list data in SQL and added the following steps to the process:
Find the proper tp_ListId in AllUserData by looking for the List Name in tp_DirName.  This value is not going to be the same as the tp_ListId value in UserData because "lookup" means it's two different lists ;)
Review the UserData table int fields and find the one that corresponds to the AllUserData.tp_ID, and create your table join here.
In my case, the value I needed was stored in UserData.int7:
SELECT     WSS_Content.dbo.AllUserData.nvarchar3 AS EmployeeName
FROM     WSS_Content.dbo.UserData INNER JOIN WSS_Content.dbo.AllUserData ON WSS_Content.dbo.UserData.int7 = WSS_Content.dbo.AllUserData.tp_ID
WHERE     (WSS_Content.dbo.UserData.tp_ListId = 'value of UserData.tp_ListId') AND (WSS_Content_TServer.dbo.AllUserData.tp_ListId = 'value of AllUserData.tp_ListId')

Sunday, November 29, 2009

multiple login prompts to sharepoint / wss

Sunday, November 29, 2009
this seems to be a fairly common problem in sharepoint, and it can be caused by different things.

first, the core of the issue is not sharepoint failing to authenticate; it's an authentication failure at the Windows OS level.  by default, Windows re-prompts for authentication three times when there's a problem with authentication, and then it denies access.  in sharepoint, the three prompts are seen, but there usually is no message stating that authentication has failed after the third prompt.  (however, you can verify the failure by reviewing Event Viewer->Security logs on the web front end server)

here are the issues that can lead to multiple prompts for authentication
  • IE is configured to always prompt for credentials:  in this scenario, the solution is usually to change IE settings so that it passes the credentials of the currently logged in user.  see here for more information.
  • permissions problem with a file or directory:  this one can be as simple as the company logo being on a file share / directory that users don't have at least read permissions.  if it's a problem with an image on the page, you'll see a red x instead of the logo, for instance.  you can either add read permissions to the file share in which the image file resides, or add the image to a picture library in sharepoint to which all users have at least read access. if it's not an image on the page, it could be a more difficult problem to track down, such as a file in your virtual directory with improper permissions (see here for an example).
  • sharepoint needs to be extended to a new zone:  you can tell if you need to extend your site to a new zone by watching the url in the address bar as you see each login prompt.  for testing, try the following:  at the first login prompt, click cancel without inputting your credentials, and make note of the url.  then close your browser, launch a new session and provide credentials to the first prompt, but click cancel on the second prompt, and make note of the url before closing your browser.  continue this process for the third prompt.  if at any point the url changed, it's an indicator that you need to extend your site to a new zone and configure alternate access mappings (AAM) in central administration.  see here for a great article on AAM.