Distinguishing between asking for help with a product and asking for help with a product’s installation


Internally at Microsoft, we have a programmer's tool which I will call Program Q. On the peer-to-peer mailing list for Program Q, somebody asked the following question:

What's the best way to look at all tables created in the past week? I want to repeat this command across multiple table repositories.

Somebody chimed in with the answer.

You are looking for something like q find table -age lt 7d. If you want to repeat across multiple table repositories, you would say q -server xxx find table -age lt 7d, replacing xxx with the table repository server name.

This seemed to work, but there was a follow-up question:

What's the best way to get the repository server name for any given repository? For example, what are all the repository servers used by my test team? Is there a central database I can query?

To get the repository servers used by your test team, you um ask your test team?

The people on the Program Q peer-to-peer help mailing list do not know the names of your test team's repository servers. There is no central database of all Program Q servers.

It's like asking, "What's the best way to get the name of somebody's SharePoint site?" Answer: You ask them, "Hey, what's the name of your SharePoint site?" SharePoint itself does not maintain a central database of all SharePoint sites, but your test team might have a policy that all new SharePoint sites should be registered in some central database. You'll need to ask them.

Comments (15)
  1. kristofu says:

    Not the same but kind of. I once wrote a feature to generate (rich) text reports in a personal finance planner application.

    The financial institution – our clients – could customize the report, and put in different statements depending on certain financial conditions. We had special consultants to help the institution with this task.

    After the feature was finished, I was repeatedly asked by the consultants to make reports and customizations. Often accompanied by questions about which statement would suit such and such condition.

    I had an incredibly hard time explaining that I only implemented the feature, and that the content was up to them.

    It's just that I was pegged as "the report guy".

    In the end they got it though. I could be quite persistent in refusing to do their job :)

  2. Jason Warren says:

    Sorry for the nitpicking, but for SharePoint you can register your SharePoint farm centrally in Active Directory with a service connection point (e.g. for SharePoint 2010 see technet.microsoft.com/…/ff730261(v=office.14).aspx). If you have permissions, you can query the service connection point and then query the farm for a list of sites. This isn't trivial but it is possible. Of course, this isn't on by default and by getting a list of sites, you still don't know the name of of that somebody's site (unless the name is "Somebody's Site"). The better approach is still to ask them.

  3. Gabe says:

    I agree with Jason. There are many servers which have administration tools that allow you to select a server from a list (SQL Server and Terminal Services come to mind). It's not too far-fetched to think that Program Q might have similar capabilities, or just register itself in AD.

    I would certainly hope somebody would at least ask about it prior to manually compiling such a list.

    To put it another way, let's say somebody asked "What's the best way to find out Program Q's install directory on my server?". The answer might be "Remember where you put it when you installed it" or it might be "Just check HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftProgramQInstallPath". Since the latter answer is just as likely as the former, you'd be foolish for not asking.

  4. Brian_EE says:

    You mean that I don't go ask the <common open-source web-based database administration tool> app developers where the location of the database my web admin uses for my site's content is?

  5. ErikF says:

    Eventually you have to know something though: "Where is the repository of repositories? Where's that repository?" (etc.) Also, if the program is an internal, limited-use app there likely isn't anything so fancy as a repository server!

  6. Joshua says:

    C:> q find table -age lt 7d

    file not found: find

  7. MJS says:

    The title doesn't seem to match the article text?

  8. 640k says:

    Doesn't all M$ software phone home to a central repository? Ask the license guys, they sure keep track of every software installed on every server.

    [The CEIP information is anonymized. So nobody can say "Hey, it looks like Bob in Tukwila created a spreadsheet with the Tukwila Tennis Club schedule. If somebody wants the Tukwila Tennis Club schedule, we can send them to Bob's machine." -Raymond]
  9. Joshua Ganes says:

    Is there a central database I can query?

    No.

  10. > What's the best way to get the repository server name for any given repository

    > To get the repository servers used by your test team, you um ask your test team?

    Hmm…

    It's possible that the asker *has* a list of repositories (or at least, they know how to get it.) They are asking how to get the repository server name from the repository name, which is a reasonable question, assuming that the software is already successfully communicating with the repository.

    [The "repository" here is not any programmatic name. It's a conceptual repository, like "The repository that contains all our Canadian customer information. I want to do a query against all the tables in that repository, but I don't know the server's name." -Raymond]
  11. Engywuck says:

    in the good(?) old times you'd have searched for the repository with a broadcast…

  12. ulric says:

    it doesn't look like a totally stupid question and worthy of scorn.

  13. Anon says:

    @MJS

    Top Ten Worst Pick-Up Lines

    @ulric

    It does, and it is. But Raymond doesn't seem to be doing that.

  14. 640k says:

    [The CEIP information is anonymized. So nobody can say "Hey, it looks like Bob in Tukwila created a spreadsheet with the Tukwila Tennis Club schedule. If somebody wants the Tukwila Tennis Club schedule, we can send them to Bob's machine." -Raymond]

    A central license repository of the software does only have knowledge of where the installed software are located. What each software database contain isn't replicated to the license server, you have guess based on metadata, and query a selected set of servers which has the software installed. The initial question didn't assume more.

    [The original question was along the lines of "I want to access the test team's server. Is there a place I can go look up the name of the test team's server?" Answer: Go ask your test team. You probably need to ask them anyway, because you'll need oh say a password. -Raymond]
  15. Yukkuri says:

    Raymond why do you keep responding to 640k? There's years of evidence that he/she/it is an anti-ms troll, there's no point responding.

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content