Verify WordPress Backups Using Azure

I suffered some minor data loss today which I managed to restore from backup, but not before a few minutes of “why can’t I restore”. It reminded me of the classic quote:

“Backups always succeed. It’s restores that fail.”

I then realised that although this site is backed up via the excellent UpdraftPlus Backup / Restore / Clone plugin for WordPress I’d never tested the backup.

So, I did some digging and it seems the general advice is to see if you can open the zip file the backup process produces. Now call me a skeptic, but that makes me a little uncomfortable. Restoring on top of this site (shudder) or restoring to a sub-domain was also unappealing and then I remembered Azure.

I’m lucky enough to have a MSDN subscription which gets me some free Azure time, but there always seems to be free trials out there. Once I was logged into the management portal the process was very simple. Click New -> Compute -> Web Site -> From Gallery -> WordPress and fill out the following two dialogs:

Azure Create Website 1

I didn’t bother filling out the “Deployment Settings” section as I would be deleting the site as soon as I was done.

Azure Create Website 2

Once Azure has done it’s thing, go to the websites dashboard and find the URL which will be something like “restoredsite.azurewebsites.net”. Go there and WordPress will lead you through the installation steps of setting up an admin account. Once that’s finished, all that remains is to install your backup plugin of choice, upload your backup file and hit restore.

If all is well, after a little while (depending on how big your site is) you should see your blog, but hosted in azure at “restoresdite.azurewebsites.net”. All your links will redirect to your original domain, so be careful which site you’re on, but you can verify that everything has come back correctly.

Scrum Retrospective Experience – ESVP, Sailboat and Constellation

I recently conducted my first Sprint Retrospective since becoming a Certified ScrumMaster and although I think it went ok, I’m sure there’s room for improvement. I’m hoping that by writing about it I perform a more in-depth personal reflection than I normally would and if someone else finds it useful or can provide feedback, I’ll be very happy.

Brief Background

This is an established team that has great morale, but they’ve been through the ringer a bit. I was worried the enthusiasm for Agile was fading, or worse, we were just going through the motions.

Five Stage Retrospective

When I first joined, I asked twitter about the various retrospective techniques others liked and Ben Linders kindly responded. So when I saw the book he’d written on the very subject – http://www.benlinders.com/getting-value-out-of-agile-retrospectives/ – was cheap I bought it!

Unsurprisingly, I followed the 5 stage retrospective mentioned in that book and used the techniques within.

  1. Set the Stage
  2. Gather Data
  3. Generate Insights
  4. Decide what to do
  5. Close the retrospective

Stage 1 – Set the stage.

The aim/context of this Retrospective was two-fold:

  1. Understand the teams opinion of our sprint retrospectives
  2. Discover the biggest issue/worry that we currently have

We used ESVP Check-In to discover the first, which resulted in 4 E, 2 S, 2 SP, 1 ESV and 1 P. I’m reading that as I was partially correct in my fear that the team were beginning to lose faith in retrospectives, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Stage 2 – Gather data.

To gather data from the team, I used the Sailboat Retrospective technique. I’m pleased to say it resulted in a lot of post-it notes, so the team were clearly engaged, but I’m worried/disappointed about the number of negative things that were noted.

Stage 3 – Generate insights.

The team talked through each post-it on the sailboat, discussing in-depth the reason for it being there. I used this time to try and see how strongly the team felt about the issue, if they all agreed and how big an issue it was.

Stage 4 – Decide what to do.

There were too many post-it notes to tackle at once, so I used the Constellation technique on a few I hand-picked and a few I asked the team to select as most important.

Not only did this get everyone back on their feet and engaged (there was a definite increase in discussion afterwards) but is a really clear indicator of the teams feeling.

We then took each one from most important to least important and came up with some actions to hopefully resolve the issues before the next retrospective in 2 weeks.

Stage 5 – Close the retrospective.

Nothing special to note beyond thanking the team for the patience and enthusiasm for a new approach. I also asked for feedback, which I’m hoping will come willingly over the next couple of days.

Personal Retrospective

In summary, I’m really happy with the retrospective. I certainly gained some insight and I think the team got something out of it.

What went well?

ESVP, Sailboat and Constellation proved very nice techniques.

What could I have done better?

I’m slightly worried I led the Generate Insights stage too much. I think the team lost interest a little and some of the momentum was lost.

What should I not do again?

In preparation for the retrospective I ran out of time to think about stage 4 onwards. I think that led to the loss of momentum.

Just Write Something

I’ve just renewed the hosting and domain for this place and in two years I’ve written 14 posts… including this one!

Clearly I’m not an active blogger, but during some reflection I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been putting off a lot stuff. What’s worse, when I do sit down I seem to get very little done as I’m over-thinking.

Turning Point?

Like anything nowadays, I turned to my friend google (other search engines are available) and came across this post from Scott Hanselman Analysis Paralysis: Over-thinking and Knowing Too Much to Just CODE which rung very true.

From the number of comments, I’m clearly not the only person and there seems to be various ways people (try to) overcome it. I particularly liked the Chistopher Svec’s comment of “I usually have these 2 xkcd comics close at hand to help remind me to Just Do It / YAGNI” referring to https://xkcd.com/974/ & http://xkcd.com/1205/.

And if by coincidence, the first post on Christopher’s blog (at the time of writing has a title of:

“Doing nothing is cheap. Failure is cheaper.”

Sums it up nicely. Off to think about coding 🙂

Installed Markdown

I’ve taken the advice of Scott Hanselman and Rob Conery in their Get Involved! Pluralsight course and have installed Markdown (or perhaps more accurately the Markdown on Save Improved plugin). I haven’t even begun to get to grips with the syntax, but I can certainly see how much easier it’s going to become to write posts.

Speaking of which, I’ve realized why I’m finding it harder and harder to write. (Excuse the over use of Markdown)

“I’m basically doing very very little SharePoint at the moment!”

In my 9-5 job (which is more like 8-5 + work from home) I’m acting as a Product Owner and in those rare moments where I do get some “me time” I’m revising for 70-486.

The Get Involved! course warns about using names that pigeon hole you into something, so I’ve dropped the SharePoint from the blog name.

Get Public Key Token for an Assembly

This is going to be a quick post as I’m hoping that posting about it will help me remember. At worse, I should be able to remember I posted about it and find this page.

There are numerous times when you need to need to reference an assembly using the fully qualified name, e.g.:

MyNamespace.MyAssembly, version=1.0.3300.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089

Jeremiah Clark has a Visual Studio Tip on how to find this for your own assembly but today I needed to find the reference for an assembly deployed in the GAC. A colleague pointed out you can simply browse to c:\windows\assembly using Explorer:

Welcome

Hi and welcome to my blog about all things SharePoint (hence the sp in the url).

I’m a software engineer working in the South West of  England and have recently discovered SharePoint. I’ve spent the previous 2-3 years as a Technical Analyst so I’m really enjoying getting back in touch with my inner code monkey. So far I’ve taken and passed exam 70-573 so have a MCTS in SharePoint 2010, Application Development and hope to pass the MCPD exam soon.

Obviously the world isn’t short of blogs, or even blogs about SharePoint and I’m far from a SharePoint expert…yet, so I’m blogging to help keep a record of all the new stuff I’m learning on a daily (if not more frequently) basis. There’s obviously an ego to stroke but if something I babble about helps someone else – even if it’s me in the future – then I won’t have wasted the money on the domain and hosting. To start with, I imagine the posts will be extremely basic and not terribly well written, but with time I’m hoping both will improve.

Please feel free to leave comments and please get in touch if you see a mistake. If you prefer email, feel free to send me an email to Dufeu at spdufeu.co.uk. Alternatively, I’m also on Twitter.