Gulf Tech Talk [Partners only]

by Shijaz Abdulla on 31.12.2009 at 08:02


Microsoft takes great pride in inviting Gulf partners to Tech Talk. One of the key objectives of the initiative is to help build partner capacity especially on leading-edge Microsoft technologies: To achieve this is Microsoft invites partners to quarterly events where you can experience the best training available to better yourself, your company and your customers.

Microsoft’s success is directly related to their relationships with Partners and the ability to listen to, understand and service the needs of our partners better.

Date: January 7th, 2010

Venue: Microsoft, Building No.8, Dubai Internet City

LiveMeeting is available for partners outside the UAE.
For more information/registration, please contact me.




Arrival / Coffee

08:30 AM


Introduction and Welcome keynote

09:00 AM

Wael / Salim

SharePoint 2010

09:15 – 10:15 AM

Mohammed Alaa

SharePoint 2010 session: The purpose of this session is to walk our partners through an overview of the SharePoint 2010 capabilities with a focus on the different investment areas, of this major release. The session is optimized for Partners’ Technical Decision Makers (TDMs) that are already familiar with SharePoint 2007


Exchange 2010

10:15 – 11:15 AM

Zahid Tikrity

Introduce the new version of Exchange and highlight some of the key new features and architectures


Coffee Break

11:15 – 11:30 AM


Business Intelligence / Performance Point

11:30 – 12:30 PM


Business Intelligence :  Review the latest developments and trends in Microsoft BI/DW platform
Performance Management Solution :  Discuss Performance Management solution overview along with products and technologies



12:30 – 01:30 PM



01:30 – 02:30 PM

Frederico De Domenico

Review the latest developments in operating system virtualization made by Microsoft with the release of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, including Hyper-V R2, Windows Virtual PC, SCVMM, and Med-V


Deployment & Systems Management, MDOP

02:30 – 03:30 PM

Frederico De Domenico

Deployment and Systems Management: review the latest developments in operating system and application deployment and systems management made by Microsoft, including MDT 2010, App-V, VDI, SCCM 2007 SP2, SCOM 2007 R2. I will also give some information as to what to expect in the near future.


Unified Communications

03:30 – 04:30 PM

Zahid Tikrity

Unified Communications: Integrating OCS 2007 with Exchange 2010


Migrating a blog from Blogger to WordPress

by Shijaz Abdulla on 30.12.2009 at 11:56

 I have finally moved my blog from Blogger (Blogspot) to WordPress with zero downtime and zero search engine reputation loss (pagerank). I thought I’d share the process I followed here.

Here are the main steps involved in Blogger-to-Wordpress migration:

  1. Setting up WordPress
  2. Setting Permalinks structure in WordPress
  3. Preparing your Blogger blog for export
  4. Importing posts & comments from Blogger
  5. Fixing your permalinks
  6. Using Windows Live Writer with WordPress

In my case the domain name is not changing, only the blogging platform is. Depending on your scenario, you might need to purchase a domain and/or hosting. If you need help, post a comment to this post.

Part One: Setting up WordPress

There are two kinds of WordPress blogs you could have – or is the free, hosted blog solution, while lets you download the WordPress software for your own hosting/server. The second option is recommended because it gives you FTP access to your server, and this is required in step 5.

I took Deluxe WordPress Hosting from GoDaddy, and it came with WordPress pre-installed, with tons of themes and plug-ins to choose from.

In order to prevent downtime during the migration, you should configure a CNAME on your existing blog’s domain and associate it with the WordPress blog. For example, if your blog is at, make the WordPress blog at This way visitors to your Blogspot blog will not be affected till you are done with the migration.

Also make sure you set the domain/blog URL to in the WordPress admin page.

Once you’ve acquired your WordPress hosting, you have to create an empty blog on it with the same name as your blog. This will be the blog to which you will import your posts to.

You will also have to find an identical theme for your WordPress blog and apply it.


Part Two: Setting Permalinks structure in WordPress

This is important so that your permalinks remain intact when you import from Blogger. On your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks.

Choose custom structure, and enter /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html

Hit the Save Changes button.


Part Three: Preparing your Blogger blog for export

It’s important to understand that when WordPress imports posts from Blogger, it uses your Blogger blog’s feed. Hence, you will have to remove any headers/footers from your feed so that these wont show up in your posts on WordPress.

To check and remove if you have any feed footers, go to Dashboard > Settings > Site Feed, and clear the Post Feed Footer field:


Part Four: Importing Posts & Comments from Blogger

  • On the WordPress admin console, go to Tools > Import


  • Choose Blogger


Click Authorize. You will be asked to login to your Google account and grant access to WordPress so that it can pull content from Blogger. Click Grant Access.


On the next screen, you will be presented with a list of blogs on your Blogger account. Click Import next to the blog that you wish to import.

The import process will begin:


You will see the import progress above. In case the import process stops halfway, hit the Continue button to continue importing. Even if you repeat the import process altogether, WordPress will ignore the posts it has already imported and there will be no duplicates.

Another important point to note: The DNS setting for the old blog should not be changed till the import process has completed. If you changed the DNS setting for the old blog before import, the import process will fail with the error “Nothing has imported. Had you already imported this blog?

Once all posts and comments have imported, verify it by browsing them on your WordPress blog.


Part Five: Fixing your permalinks

Even though I set my Permalinks in WordPress in Part Two, this was not 100% compliant with Blogger permalinks. Blogger has a way of shortening your blog’s title in the permalink, while WordPress just puts the whole title in the permalink.

This is where I found an ingenious workaround from Rahul Bansal’s blog. He has written this awesome PHP file, that converts the Permalinks on all your imported posts so that it will be identical to that of Blogger. I am reproducing his code here for your convenience:

<?php require_once(‘wp-load.php’);

$res = $wpdb->get_results(“SELECT post_id, meta_value FROM $wpdb->postmeta WHERE meta_key = ‘blogger_permalink'”); $wpdb->print_error();

foreach ($res as $row){

$slug = explode(“/”,$row->meta_value);

$slug = explode(“.”,$slug[3]);

$wpdb->query(“UPDATE $wpdb->posts SET post_name ='” . $slug[0] . “‘ WHERE ID = $row->post_id”); $wpdb->print_error(); }

echo “DONE”;


All you need to do is paste this code in a new file, and call it FIX.PHP. Upload this file on your WordPress hosting, and execute it from your browser – . You will receive a confirmation “DONE” if all is well. If not, try contacting Rahul.

Now you can finally change the DNS settings on your domain so that your new WordPress blog will be active.

Part Six: Using Windows Live Writer with WordPress

Before you can use Windows Live Writer with WordPress, you need to enable XML-RPC.

On the WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Writing. Enable the checkbox next to XML-RPC.


Notes/Things to Remember:

  • Do not delete your Blogger blog. Your images are still on Picasa, which is used by Blogger to upload images in your posts. Your WordPress blog still pulls those images off Picasa. As of today, I have found no reliable method to migrate images across.
  • If you have an Outbrain widget for Ratings, you just have to install the WordPress widget. As long as your blog’s URL has not changed, your ratings will remain. If your blog’s URL has changed, you need to contact Outbrain support and they will manually merge your ratings for you.


Beyond Adsense

by Shijaz Abdulla on 24.12.2009 at 09:16

Did Adsense just blacklist you and deny your payment for no wrongdoing on your part – just because they “think” your account poses a risk to their advertisers? Worry not, there are other decent publisher/advertiser networks, two of which I am using on this blog.

I’ve been doing some research and here are two alternatives to Google Adsense:

1. Clicksor

Clicksor offers webmasters the opportunity to earn more income by simply underlining a selection of clickable text (inline text links) or displaying targeted contextual ads (various sizes of banners) on their websites or blogs. Minimum Payout is $50 and you can receive your payments every 15 days. To register or learn more, click here or the banner below.


2. Bidvertiser

Bidvertiser offers site-targeted pay-per-click text ads and image ads. Bidvertiser provide site-targeted placement by asking both advertisers and website publishers to specify categories for their ads and websites. The action is to make sure an advertisement only appear in relevant websites instead of any website that have the same keywords as the ads. Bidvertiser is available for ebay sellers, and has minimum payout of $10 on Paypal and $50 in checks. Bidvertiser makes advertisers bid for space automatically and allows you to sell your ad space automatically to the highest bidder. To register or learn more, click here or the banner below.


Good luck monetizing your website/blog!

URL Categories, HTTPS inspection and Web Access Policy in TMG

by Shijaz Abdulla on 22.12.2009 at 06:57

I recently had a chance to look at the Web Access Policy capability that has been added to Threat Management Gateway (TMG), which is the latest version of ISA Server.

In this post, I will explain:

  • The Web Access Policy Wizard
  • The URL Categories feature
  • The HTTPS inspection feature

The Web Access Policy wizard lets you create all the rules you need to enable, block and cache web access with just one wizard. Here’s how you can use this feature in a web access policy in TMG.

A great new addition is URL Categories, which provide a dynamically updated list of websites based on content. This lets the administrator block websites featuring specific categories content like pornography, violence, politics, etc.

This has been a much-awaited feature, and one that is already available in products like Websense and I’m happy to see this included in the new release.


  1. In the Forefront TMG console, click on Web Access Policy in the left pane.
  2. Click on Configure Web Access Policy in the Tasks tab (right pane).

    Web Access Policy Wizard

  3. In the wizard, hit Next
  4. Click Yes, create a rule blocking the minimum recommended URL categories. This will automatically block access to a list potentially malicious websites.


  5. In the next screen, you can choose which URL categories you  want to block. Note that some categories like Anonymizers, gambling, porn etc, are already selected to make things easier. However, you can add more URL categories to block or remove some.

  6. To add another URL category, click Add. You can select more URL categories here. Hit Next.


  7. In the next step, you can create exceptions to this rule, by choosing to allow unrestricted access to some users/groups. Hit Next.


  8. You can choose whether you want to perform malware inspection on the website content. The block encrypted archives option blocks all compressed files that have a password set on them. Hit Next.


  9. Another cool new feature in TMG is the ability to inspect HTTPS traffic for malware. Yes, you can now look inside HTTPS – this is done by using a certificate that lets TMG pose as the client machine to the website, to see what happens – this is similar to a man-in-the-middle attack, but it’s a “good man” in the middle. :). You can also choose not to inspect HTTPS, but block the traffic if the certificate of the web server is not valid. This avoids having to let the user make that choice on his browser.


    If you enable this option, you need to specify what kind of certificate you need TMG to use. You also have the option of informing users that HTTPS content is being inspected, which might be required for legal disclosure. However, only users with a TMG Client installed on their computers will see this notification.


  10. Depending on what certificate option you selected, you need to provide additional information. I chose to use the certificate automatically generated by Forefront TMG.


  11. In the next step, you can choose to enable caching and configure it. Hit Next.
  12. That completes the Web Access Policy Wizard!
  13. Click Apply to save your changes to the configuration.


When you return to the TMG console you will see that a set of Web Access rules have been created automatically based on your selections in the wizard. It couldn’t get easier than this!


Check out HTTPS inspection in the logs:

  • While trying to access an HTTPS website that has an untrusted/expired certificate:


  • HTTPS inspection allowing a legitimate website
  • User notification when file being downloaded contains a virus.


This technology is SO exciting! Sometimes I miss being ISA Server MVP. 🙂

TechEd Middle East 2010 – Super Early Bird Offer

by Shijaz Abdulla on 20.12.2009 at 23:27


Licensing Promo on Threat Management Gateway

by Shijaz Abdulla on 20.12.2009 at 07:22

Threat Management Gateway (TMG), is the next generation of ISA Server, released earlier this month. I explained in detail the new features and benefits of Threat Management Gateway in an earlier post.

Forefront TMG includes new URL filtering, Web antimalware, and intrusion prevention technologies to protect businesses against the latest Web based threats. These technologies are integrated with core network protection features to create a unified, easy-to-manage gateway. The highly accurate Web security enforcement features are based on reputation information aggregated from multiple Web security. It also includes all the traditional network protections of ISA server, including firewall and secure application publishing.

Licensing Promo for customers:

The following promo is available till the end of December 2009:

  • 35% off on Standard Edition on Licensing & Software Assurance
  • 15% off on Enterprise Edition on Licensing & Software Assurance



Partners are eligible to earn SSA incentives (Security Software Advisor) on TMG as well. Remember that you will get an additional 50% bonus over your normal SSA incentive for each implementation of our security products you complete on or before December 31, 2009. [More details]


Photos: Windows 7 Launch in Qatar

by Shijaz Abdulla on 18.12.2009 at 01:06

I’m posting some photos from the New Efficiency Launch Event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Doha, Qatar.

The event setting was very unique – it was an outdoor event with tents on the beach, popcorn, cotton candy, balloons, live barbeque, and even a clown on stilts and a magic show. The presentations were done inside a tent on the beach!

The event was unique and one of a kind, and I really think our marketing team did a creative and awesome job!

Some of our partners also had stands at the venue, with each of them showcasing an exciting solution based on Microsoft technologies.

Windows 7 Launch, Qatar SNC00863
The event setting
Qatar Launch event
Our partner, Mannai (Apps team) Our partner, Information & Communication Technologies WLL (ICT) at the event
Manoj, Antony and others from Mannai Apps team showcasing Mediaroom Joseph, Asanka and Fadel from ICT showcasing the Microsoft UC solution
Our partner, Qatar Datamation Systems (QDS) MS Hardware vendor - Al Masa
Hani and Ali from QDS demonstrating Multi touch Hardware vendor Al Masa
Our partner, Mannai (MS Infra services) xbox area
Johny & Jean from Mannai showcasing Hyper-V xbox area
SNC00874 SNC00881
Antony with a clown at the event Me 🙂
Tamer, Said and David Eqbal and I
Tamer, Said and David Eqbal and me
 SNC00877 SNC00875
Vinod and Rifaz at the xbox area me, Rifaz and Vinod
 The Windows 7 beach tents SNC00880

Press coverage: [ Gulf Times | Arabic newspapers ]

Windows 7 Launch event in Qatar

by Shijaz Abdulla on 13.12.2009 at 10:05

 The big day is on 15th of December, 2009.

logo_windows_7_01 This is the day that we’re officially launching Windows 7 in Qatar. The email invites to IT Pros had gone out a few weeks ago and we’ve had an overwhelming number of people who have registered to attend this event. This launch event is going to be one-of-a-kind – with an unconventional but exciting theme. If you’ve registered, you are surely in for some *very* exciting stuff. I don’t want to spoil the surprise – you’ll see soon 😉

The 16th of December will see the launch of Windows 7 in the academic sector. I will be present at the venue on both days, so this will be an excellent opportunity to network with you readers. Some of my managed partners like Mannai Computer, Information & Communication Technology WLL (ICT), EBLA, Qatar Datamation Systems, will also have spaces at the venue, where they will showcase our technologies and their offerings.

We have some awesome speakers talking about Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Phone, xbox, and a host of other new technologies. Alongside other presenters, I will be speaking at the event on the 16th.

See you there!

Location-aware printing: Automatically selecting the default printer in Windows 7

by Shijaz Abdulla on 12.12.2009 at 21:01

Thanks to the location-aware printing feature in Windows 7, your computer will automatically print to the correct printer at home or office, depending on where you are.


Here’s how you can set up this feature:

  • From the Start menu, select Devices & Printers 

    Devices and Printers
  • Click on a printer, and click on the Manage default printers button (highlighted in the above screenshot).
  • Make sure ‘Change my default printer when I change networks’ is selected.
  • From the dropdown boxes for the network and the printer, select the appropriate printer for each network.


In my configuration, I print on the HP printer at the office when I’m at the office, and the Lexmark printer when I’m back home, and Windows will automatically change the default printer depending on where I am.

Mudawanat: Blogging workshop in Qatar

by Shijaz Abdulla on 12.12.2009 at 19:30

Mudawanat: All About BloggingictQATAR, the Supreme Council of Information & Communication Technology in Qatar, conducted a workshop on blogging today at the Sharq Village Hotel, Doha.

Regional and International experts on blogging shared their views and experience on blogging. The event was attended by local and expatriate bloggers and blogger-aspirants.

The morning session featured keynote speaker Jeremiah Owyang and Ahmad Hamzawi, Head of Engineering for Google Middle East & North Africa. Regional bloggers also shared their experiences and tips for new bloggers.

The afternoon session was split into two separate workshops – one for new bloggers and the other for experienced bloggers. The event gathered good attendance, and the workshops were very interactive.

The speakers were great. I also got a chance to discuss with Ahmad why I think Google Adsense sucks, based on my previous experience – and suggested that Google should be more transparent on how they determine that an Adsense account poses a risk to their business. Of course, I wasn’t expecting a satisfactory answer and didn’t get one either 🙂

One of the many things I liked about Ahmad is that, despite being the Head of Engineering for Google, he runs Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2007 on his laptop, and not Google’s Chrome OS and Google Apps.

The Blogger platform was outshined by WordPress when members of the audience questioned about it and Jeremiah himself explaining why he moved his blog from Blogger to WordPress.

Moving on, I learnt a few important things in today’s workshop.

  • I realized that I was late in understanding the potential of Twitter.
  • I learnt that Disqus could do a better job with comment forms on my blog. Implemented it right away.
  • I need to explore more of Delicious & Technorati
  • I need to read more blogs, and comment on them – need to ‘network’ more with people rather than doing ‘broadcasts’
  • I got insight on the challenges that Arab bloggers face.

Almost everyone who attended got a free copy of the book “Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom” by Matthew Fraser & Soumitra Dutta.

Overall, it was an awesome event and I’m sure everyone benefited from it. If you were one of those who attended the event, please drop a comment!

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