Friday, July 31, 2009

Take Control of Your SharePoint Crawl Schedules, Content Sources and Indexes

All my farms were set up (the old way) with one server running Central Admin, and generally I use that for an Indexer too. On top of that, I use a certain utility (which I am not at liberty to discuss in detail) which also runs on the Central Admin server(s). This can sometimes put an intense burden on one server (while the others are loafing).

One thing I am going to do, is load balance my Central Admin and spread it (and that certain utility) around. My setup now is just plain wrong. But in my defense, at one time it was right, and when we did our sanity checks with other experts, it still was right. Once things started getting heavier (indexing 500 GB, then over 700GB of content), there isn't much room for error. Our data center is miles away, but I think I can hear the little fans in those blade servers cranking like mad from here. VVvvvvvv...

Until I redo my Central Admin sites, I have to be cautious about what activities that over-burdened server is doing. One thing I do is turn off indexing when I know I will need those resources. Indexing takes disc space and CPU. I've seen big full crawls fill up lots of temporary space. Be sure to factor this in. It's so easy to take control. You can stop a crawl, but better yet, just don't let a new one start. Change the schedule to fit your activities. Use something like "Every 20 minutes from 8:00 AM for 810 minutes." That will start the last incremental at 9:30 PM, and at 10PM, you should have all the resources of that server for other tasks.

This relates a bit less, but one of my regrets on my setup is that I didn't separate things into different content sources. The logical thing would be to break it up by web app. I will do this soon too. That way you can prioritize (by starting one first) or set separate schedules for different content.

In a really large site, I suppose you could use separate SSPs and manipulate where they are and what they are indexing. We started to go down that path, but if you keep everything together, and just watch how you set up content sources and crawl schedules, you can get a whole lot of useful search indexing (out of not much hardware). Under one SSP, you can have a universal, site-wide index, with no additional setup.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More on AVCHD and Blu-ray (and M2ts)

First, read my first post on the subject. I talk about the utilities I have found that are great for manipulating MKV files and creating an AVCHD file system, suitable for use with Blu-ray players.

For whatever reason, I have found that demuxing into the AVCHD file system format has some overhead - maybe 5-8%. It really shouldn't expand, but for some reason it does. This is enough that sometimes it is difficult to get things into a size that will fit on a DVD 5. I don't have a solution for this other than using some other utility to re-write the file with more compression.

I have found that a 4GB M2ts (MPEG 2 Transport Stream) file will turn into an AVCHD with enough room left to be comfortable - a 100% success rate. Using TXMuxer and MKVExtractGUI I have made some disks that work great.

About audio with AVCHD, like a DVD-Video, you can have a PCM track, but there will only be room for that if the video is compressed like mad, so you pretty much need to resign yourself to (a high bit rate) AC3 5.1. Blu-ray has some wonderful audio capabilities, but to get those, you will need the extra space of a Blu-ray. The AVCHD is limited to the two formats.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bing vs. Google

A lot of people who saw me using Bing (ever since it came out) would chuckle and make remarks to the effect of having thought higher of me - that I wasn't a true Microsoft bigot. But I am, I give them a chance and the benefit of the doubt every time. They truly are a much more benevolent bunch than ANY of the large influences in the corporate world. But I try to be an open minded bigot. Hey, I got an iPhone (and learned how to make it work MY way), OK. That's my proof.


So Bing vs. Google. Google is an extremely useful tool. For casual users, it gives them what they need very efficiently. For power users, likewise, even better. It's indispensable. Bing comes at things from a completely different perspective. It seems to have a strong commercial slant. I am searching for something so I must want to buy it, or buy a book about it. This is great if I do, but more often I don't.

Bing also seems to have a strong bias to sites closely related to Microsoft and away from sites related to Google. If I search for topics on this blog in Google, they come up very high. Much less so in Bing. On SharePoint things they may not come up at all. That's not right. It could be said that Google has the bias toward their sites (which this is). Probably BOTH are true, but Google seem much better balanced.

Google is still much more useful for my day to day needs, and will be put back into the browsers where it was temporarily replaced by Bing. This will mean that I will Bing very seldom - probably about as often as I used Live - not very (but still more than I ever used Yahoo for anything - how could that mess be useful to anyone).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bob Dylan Show Comes to Eastlake

On Saturday, July 11, 2009 Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson brought their tour to the Captains minor league ballpark, Classic Park, in Eastlake, Ohio as a part of their tour of minor league baseball stadiums. For your $75 (including fees), they bring along a barely adequate (not good) sound system. The stage was decent. There are lights, but not what I would call a light show, and there is no TV. They are counting on the music to entertain you.

But the vibe was still nice, as were the performances. They had a redeeming gimmick - children 14 and under were free.

The whole show people were talking to me. They were saying, "C'mon Bob" and stuff. Wrong Bob? This stadium is about 2 miles from my house (in a straight line) so I felt very at home. It was nice to have Bob over so he could jam on his organ (unfortunately, he only played guitar for two songs).

Set list: