Thursday, February 28, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Well, no sooner did I say that my YouTube video subscribers were approaching 100 than it has blasted past the mark! (well by at least 1, but hey it's still triple figures). It must have been that last video I did on restoring Exchange emails that did the trick.
The next target is to reach 100,000 views which is still a ways off (given that it is only approaching 60,000) now. However, it is pleasing to see that the number of views is increasing by about 2,500 a week. Obviously, if I put more videos up then there will be more views and the quicker I'll get to my 100,000 target.
As I have said previously, it is getting tough to squeeze stuff into the ten minute YouTube enforced limit. The only other option is to start splitting them into Part 1, Part 2, etc which I would prefer to avoid if I could. I know there are other video hosting sites out there ( video.google.com ) for one that doesn't have these limits but of course YouTube is by far the most popular. anyway, I'll be giving that some consideration as I plan my next video presentation.
Roll on 100,000 views.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Yes, I have uploaded a new video to YouTube. This one covers the basics of restoring emails into Exchange Server using the Exchange Recovery Group. It is fast becoming a case that the maximum 10 minutes that YouTube allows for videos is proving very restrictive. Many subjects I am now covering can't really been given justice in 10 minutes and perhaps the only option is to start breaking them into multiple parts. You'll notice a few editing cuts I had to make to get the production under the 10 minute limit. I know that other "more commercial" YouTube users have videos of > 10 minutes does anyone out there know how I can get access to this as well with significant additional cost? If so please let me know.
I am also heartened by the fact that the numbers of subscribers to my videos is approaching 100 (98 and counting). I would have never thought that anyone would continue to be interested by the content I create but then the Internet is an amazing place isn't it? To all those subscribers I just wish to again say thank you and to let you know that you are the main reason that I do keep dong these videos. As always if you want to see me cover a specific topic or technology please let me know so I can schedule it into the upcoming production (just a a good movie/tv producer would say eh?).
Friday, February 22, 2008
Problem was, when we get a new machine in that needs to be run up, typically, it is missing heaps (last count 94 for XP Pro) of updates. So we'd get the PC working, connect to the Internet and then do all the updates, reboot do 'em again and so on and so on until the system is fully patched. Also, when you go out to new client and check their machines, typically updates haven't been done for a long, long while and the only solution is to fire up Windows Update and download from the Internet. This can be a really painful experience, especially if they have lots of out of date machines and a slow Internet connection. Sigh.
That is now a thing of the past since I have discovered Heise Security DIY service pack. simply download the latest version of the software (which is a whole swag of clever scripts), expand into a directory on a machine and then run the update program. when run you'll be asked what downloads you desire :
Select your desired Windows Updates
also select you Office updates
ensure you have the option selected to create an ISO image and hit the Start button. The program will then go off and download all the selected updates (even service packs if you selected that). It will obviously take a while the first time it runs as it has to download a lot of updates for all packages selected.
Once the download process is complete it will create a separate ISO image for all the products you selected like so :
Here you can see I have Office 2003, office 2007, Office 2000, Office XP, Windows 2003 Server, Windows XP and more! Burn the ISO's to media and now you have your own offline update library.
Now simply pop the CD/DVD into a machine which you want to update and run the installer program (which auto launches as well). Simply select the desired options :
and press the Start button. The installer will firstly determine what updates need to be apply and then start applying and rebooting automatically if you selected that option. So now you can walk away from the machine while it continues to do all its updates - MAGIC.
I tried this out on a new original XP Home system OEM installation without Service Pack 1. I popped the Windows XP DVD into the drive, selected the reboot option (it gives you a warning that this may not work all the time) and pressed Start. The installer dutifully installed Windows XP Service Pack 2, rebooted, installed more updates, rebooted and so on till completion. At the end of the process I have a full patches XP System that I only had to attend once and didn't have to expose to the Internet before it was updated.
Best of all with this offline updater is the fact that when you run it again it downloads any new updates that Microsoft has brought out and adds it to a new ISO image it creates. So, I'll be running this after every patch Tuesday to create a new set of offline update CD's that are going to save me HOURS and HOURS both in house and on client sites.
Firstly, Microsoft's FREE online storage offering Skydrive has been increased from 1GB to 5GB of space! Now you can store even more of your useless junk on somebody else's machine. Seriously though, this is the way it is all moving. I have no doubts that within a short space of time we are going to be seeing online storage space that rivals current hard disk capacities (ie 80GB or more). I just need to work out a way to back up my data directory to Skydrive rather than uploading. Give me some time and I'm sure I'll find a way.
Next, have a look at Picnik (it take a little while to load initially) which is an online photo editing tool. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a light imitation of Photoshop or Paint shop, this a full on threat to these people. The site is beautifully designed, easy to use, and gives you the results you need for anywhere you have an Internet connection. It is even linked to Picasa from Google (which is another great example of cloud computing).
Boys and girls, its time to get online and start thinking about how you can offer services around these types of applications to your clients because if you don't someone else will.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Ok, so Microsoft has finally gotten around to making SBS 2008 a real product. It even now has its own web site :
Still digesting exactly what all the information means but I thought this was interesting :
It has the following components as standard
- Windows Server 2008 x64
- Exchange 2007
- Windows SharePoint Services 3.0
- Windows Live OneCare for Server <<-- **
- Subscription to Forefront Security for Exchange Server Small Business Edition <<-- **
- Integration with Office Live Small Business <<-- **
- Enhancements to mobile and remote working tools and management
So Microsoft is trying to make SBS 2008 an all encompassing product eh? I wonder how the people at Trend feel now they are getting cut out?
The whole press release is here :
I'll write some more when I've had time to digest all this new info.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Overview: Office SharePoint Server server farm architecture
Overview: Configuring server farms
Securing server farms
Configuring performance options
Backup, Restore, High Availability and Disaster Recovery
Operations and management
Search architecture and configuration
Monday, February 18, 2008
Think about, why the hell would you spend all this money on high powered workstations, servers, backup, disaster recovery and so and so if you could simply access everything remotely? Isn't it easier if someone else manages all that? That's the idea about the current managed services craze for SMB resellers but I believe that it is quickly moving even beyond this.
Big players like Google are designing the future as being totally online. Need an application? Simply rent it for the time that you need it. Would you pay a few cents a day for an application that is always up to date, available anywhere there is an Internet connection and never needs to be backed up? If you don't then I bet a whole swag of people you know do. Unlike techies, these people are by far the majority of computer users and all they want is an easier way to do their work.
If you don't know about products like Skydrive, Office Live Workspace, Jungle Disk, Google Apps and so on then boy are you behind the times. Even something like hosted Sharepoint can function pretty well as a complete replacement for a file server allowing quick and easy collaboration for any location where there is the Internet (cafes, work, home, PC's Mac's, mobile devices and so on and so on). From where I sit it is only a (short) matter of time before these Internet based applications become main stream. They'll be supported 24 hours a day 7 days a week from help desks all around the work that can remotely access your session and resolve any issues.
It's a brave new world that we face as technology consultants to businesses both big and small. Those that see the light early will flourish and prosper but those that don't will wither and die. Typically change takes longer to happen that you expect but when things change they change in a far greater manner that you ever expected.
As the old song goes, "the times they are a changing" but can YOU hear it?
Friday, February 15, 2008
For a long while I used to salivate over the latest software, alpha, beta, RC and so on. I just couldn't wait to get it on a machine to test. Sometimes I'd spend hours and hours just fiddling (sad aren't I?). Of late I have come to realise that this really isn't a very productive use of my time.
Why? Well first and foremost I don't get paid to test software. I have come to realise that software companies are doing themselves a huge favour by releasing beta software. For all the testing I did, generally I received no return for the time invested. In most cases I didn't even get an acknowledgement! How dumb is that? Doing all this free work for someone else when I should have been earning income for myself meant I was a real sucker. I know that I'm not the only one who fell for this trick but hopefully now I'm awake to it.
Now, I'm happy to wait until the software is actually RELEASED before I even look at it. I'm also happy to wait for others to install the product so they can find all the bugs. There is no more bleeding edge for me. Why? Well, ask yourself how many of your customers are bleeding edge? How many MUST have the absolute latest? Probably not many (if any). Most these days are conditioned to wait as long as they can before implementing any sort of technology. Also ask yourself the question whether any of your customers would pay you to be bleeding edge? Again, probably not many at all.
If I get tempted to download beta software and fiddle I take a deep breath and ask whether I'm doing it to generate more revenue or doing it for interests sake alone. If I'm doing it just for interest sake that's fine but really I have better things to do in my downtime that fiddling with software!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
So I find a few books, add them to my cart and then keep browsing ... but hang on why does the Shopping Basket at the top of the screen say 0 Items?
As you can see the web site clearly knows who I am but doesn't think I have ordered anything. So I click on Shopping Basket just to check and low and behold there are all the items I have selected.
So my basket isn't really empty at all! Seems like nothing much has changed since my last visit. Ok, I am prepared to over look the fact that site doesn't know what I've actually put in my basket as long as it is all there when I go to check out. So I add a few more items and then attempt to checkout and am greeted with the following Server Error in '/WebPayment' Application screen
Ok, so why did I even bother? Time to go to Amazon.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
The big buzz is the apparent release of Vista Service Pack 1 but I say who cares? Not me that's for sure. I do run Vista on my business workstation but I'm in no hurry to download and install it. I'll let some other idiot download it and stuff up their machine before I do it.
Look, as far as I'm concerned Vista has been a total waste of time. No client we have wants it, most clients specifically tell us 'don't give me that F*&^ING Vista' and personally I tend to agree. Vista is SLOW, it consumes so many systems resources that you need at least 2GB of RAM to make it work with any application, the interface is all different and heaps of important things are now in different locations. By and large it is a pain.
It was even more of a pain until I disabled the Aero interface and all the advanced features so it would run quickly. Now my desktop looks as boring as Windows 2000 and it still isn't even as quick. So without the Aero interface why the hell would you buy Vista unless you had do? I expect after Service Pack 1 is released Microsoft is going to make it harder to obtain XP since for many Service Pack 1 is the theoretical point at which they install Microsoft software.
So if you look at it pragmatically, if you have Vista (sucker) then I'd wait and see what other people find with Service Pack 1 because I'm sure it is going to cause some issues and let me tell you that you don't want to be the first to experience that pain. If you have Windows XP (lucky) then I'd say hang onto it with all your might because it is probably the fastest "supported" Operating system Microsoft currently has.
So whether you have Vista or XP I'd just get on with what you're doing and let Vista Service Pack 1 wreck someone else's system.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
In celebration of reaching 50,000 views of the YouTube videos I have created and uploaded a new video (number 39) that shows the basics of Exchange 2003 restoration. Firstly, you'll see how to create a 'dial-tone' Exchange database, which is basically an empty mail database that allows Exchange to run and allows users to get on with sending and receiving emails. The video also covers how to a complete restoration of Exchange server.
When you watch the video you'll probably notice more zooming and panning shots. I think that I now understand how to do all this now but probably need some more time to get it smooth but overall it should be a little easier to follow exactly what I'm showing. The new version of Camtasia certainly has some great features and hopefully I'll soon be able to implement the complete range to bring you a more professional output. I have also "optimised" this video for 320x200 which apparently is what displays best in YouTube. I'll have to go back and do some comparisons to know for sure.
Another interesting issue is that it is becoming harder and harder to get the videos into the the YouTube restriction of only 10 minutes. I am finding that I have to cut more and more out (which is easy with Camtasia admittedly) but if the result seems a little choppy that is why. However, hopefully I think the overall quality is improving but as always I'm open to feedback on how to improve what I create.
So sit back and enjoy video 39.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Links stolen from - http://parkesy.wordpress.com/2008/01/31/learning-office-2007/ (hey it saves me having to type it!)
Turns out that Adobe Flash can also be used to store cookies, unsurprisingly these are known as 'Flash Cookies'. As you can see from the image below this is how the sites were still able to track me.
When I looked through the list of sites that had stored Flash Cookies on my system I found quite a variety including those typically from people like Doubleclick whose 'third party cookies' allow your browsing machine (and people who use it) to be tracked across different web sites. So, it is possible that if you go two different web sites with 'third party cookies', people like Doubleclick know where you've been and can thus start to profile you. The more you browse the more 'third party cookies' you get and the better the profile that is constructed about you. This profile allows advertisers to direct certain banners at you (ah ha you say, so that is why the ad seem to 'know' me) as well as sell your browsing habits to marketing companies. That is why many normal 'third party cookies' are considered spyware, because they track your activity WITHOUT your consent!
So even if your turn off or reject normal cookies these Flash cookies can still be recorded on your system allowing you to be profiled. Now, that you know about flash cookies you may well ask where on my PC can I go to turn them off? Ah ha, another gotcha - there is no setting on your PC (that I found anyway). You have to go to a page on the Adobe web site (Abode are the owners of Flash), which will query the settings on your system and allow you to make machines and present you with the control panel you see in the above picture.
As with normal cookies, disabling or deleting Flash cookies may prevent some sites from working correctly so beware. However, now that you at least know how to change the settings you can always return and adjust your settings to allow only what you deem necessary. So all you need now is the Adobe web site where you make these changes and here it is :
Clearly many sites are using whatever means they can to record information about you so they can profile you. To me, if they didn't ask, that is an invasion of my privacy. I am only happy for the SITES I WANT to profile me but NO OTHERS. Heaven knows how many other avenues are out there that companies are using to track web surfers but at least now you know how to control this one.
PS I'd also make sure your select the option to TURN OFF unrestricted access to your microphone and camera. Why the hell this should ever be on by default beats the hell out of me.