ISA no longer to be supported on SBS

Here’s some more confirmation that ISA on SBS is going bye, bye.
– SBS no longer will support being the edge box. You’ll need SBS to be behind a network firewall of some sort — could be a hardware firewall, could be a software firewall, such as ISA.

– ISA, itself, will no longer support running on the SBS server itself They’re building the SBS tools in the next rev assuming that the network firewall is elsewhere.

As we have said before this a good move we believe since it means less load and less services running on the poor old SBS box. It will also mean that users can still surf the net if there is problem with the SBS server.
Don’t get us wrong ISA is a great product and can do some amazing things but the bottom line for most businesses running SBS all they want is a firewall. They don’t want reporting or web publishing and so on. So the easiest option is to buy a dedicated firewall device that just does the basics and give more memory to SBS to do other stuff.

Your greatest weapon

The most powerful weapon that people possess is their ability to learn. Human beings are thinking machines, they are able to improvise, adapt and overcome. The great pity is that most people seem to lose this skill once they leave school. Your ability to learn allows you to survive in the harsh environment that is today’s world.
Spend some time, take a look around, see what works and what doesn’t. Find out who’s successful and find out why. You should also look to fields that maybe you are not familiar with for inspiration. People like Leonardo Da Vinci are great examples of people who were experts in many diverse fields. Leonardo was a painter, designer, architect, engineer and more. Was he an extraordinary person? Yes, he was but how did he become like this? He continued to learn and grow throughout his whole life.
Everyone has the capacity within to learn. You don’t need to be the brainiest person you just need to love learning and love learning about new things. Sometimes it is very hard to move outside our comfort zone and challenge ourselves. This is where people like Leonardo excelled. They weren’t afraid of new challenges, they eagerly sought them out. I’m sure that initially this was probably not the case, even for people like Leonardo. Many of his attempts were dismal failures but his true genius was keeping at it.
Another role model for perseverance is Thomas Edison who coined the phrase, I believe, “invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. Bottom line, you ain’t going to become as master over night, you gotta keep working at it but if you do then you will become a master.
I like to come back to the analogy of compound interest that I seem to use so often. Compound interest is such a simple concept with a GUARANTEED payoff, yet very few people seem to implement it. Why? Probably because they feel it takes tool long. Well, before you know it, the potential benefits would have started kicking in while most people continue to do nothing. The secret to compound interest is that you have to stick with it. It’s the same with learning you gotta stick with it and make it a life long passion for once you stop learning in my books you effectively stop living.

Create goals to achieve your dreams

The first thing you need to determine is where you want to go. These are your dreams and we all need to have them, they are what make us human. Unless we do something about them that is all they are ever going to stay, just dreams. To achieve your dreams you need to set yourself goals. Think of goals as the steps on a ladder while the rails on either sides are the goals point you towards where you want to go.

Dreams should never be set in stone, they are fluid and change with you. As you grow, as you situation and position in life change so should they. There is nothing wrong with that, you should never consider that as failure, merely adjustment. Any goal that you achieve is never for nothing, it is a method to help you grow and improve your life and your soul.

Life is far to short to be spend merely dreaming, if you want to achieve your dreams you need to do the hard work, determine the goals that will lead you to these dreams. Importantly, along the way don’t forget to stop and celebrate your achievements for there are very few individuals who can keep stoically working towards a dream day and day out. Very much like a holiday you need to now and again take a moment to look back and congratulate yourself for what you have achieved. Life is about enjoying yourself and the journey that you are on, failing to do that will rob you of your humanity and isolate you in this World and we are nothing without those around us, especially those that we are closest to.

How many people do you know that make New Years resolutions and then break them after a few weeks. This is normal but those who are abnormal are those that get up, examine why they failed, make adjustments, set new goals and move on. It is those people who are destined for success beyond their wildest dreams but it takes discipline and practice. As the old saying goes “an inch is a cinch” so don’t try making the rungs on your ladder too far apart to start with, many small steps is much easier ( as less likely to fail ) than one enormous leap.

The Bottomless Well – Peter Huber & Mark Mills

This book deals with energy. It deals with what many people think is reality but is in fact myth. The authors show how we must “waste” energy to create more energy.

The book does raise some very interesting points but at times I found it rather hard going. There are lots of facts and figures, which don’t make the book a casual read. If you are truely interested in the state of play in relation to the energy debate then this book is really worthwhile but be prepared to spend time going into depth on what the authors cover.

One of the most fascinating facts that I learnt while reading book is that the majority of the energy we produce is used to refine energy so that we can have the biggest bang for a buck. Take for instance petrol. We spend all this effort getting out of the ground, then transporting it, refining and then distrbuting it. When you start look at energy in this way you can understand many of the points the authors are putting across.

Another intresting point is the fact that mankind’s greastest growing demand for energy is not gasoline is actually electricity. Again, this makes sense you consider the fact that in the not too distant future we may all be driving electric cars. Electricity is what drives our digital age and we have an ever increasing demand for it. The books covers this effect in good detail.

All in all a very interesting book that covers some very interesting topics that most of us probably simply gloss over and believe what we are fed from other sources. When you sit down and examine the facts, like the authors have, the results are very different. As I said previously, the book is filled with plenty of facts and figure so if you really want to understand what they authors are on about set aside some time to read this book in detail.

Rating = 8 out of 10

Why zebras don’t get ulcers

This book by Robert M. Sapolsky is touted as being “The acclaimed guide to stress, stress-related diseases, and coping”. Overall the book is very informative and interesting but it tended to get bogged down in the medical lingo of the whole “stress causing problems” process. Sure, this maybe interesting to a medical student but generally it makes the book hard going for the casual reader.

The book has plenty of in depth research about the causes and results of stress on the human body. It show cases the fact that as humans we tend to stress for extended periods of time whereas animals ( read zebra being cased by a lion ) only get stressed for that short period when they either escape or become dinner. The result of humans continuing to stress over longer periods of times tends to cause all sorts of things inside our body to go haywire. This book provides great depth into the full range of afflictions that result from stress including : depression, ulcers, heart disease and more.

It was also disappointing that book spent more time detailing the issues that cause stress rather than the ways to combat then directly. However, the authors detail of stress afflictions certainly makes you stop and consider the damage that unnecessary stress is causing your body and you mind. There are many great insights and detailed analysis that certainly makes the book a worthwhile read but it is still rather heavy going.

Overall the book does accomplish what it sets out to. Our expectation may have been a little different after having the book recommended to us. If you really what an in depth analysis of the physical and mental problems that stress can wreak on your body then this is book for you. Our main criticism is that the in depth medical analysis can make the book tough to get through at times.

Rating = 6 out of 10

Some interesting things about Cougar

Been over reading Sean Daniel’s blog about the next version of SBS known as Cougar and the following points from the blogs struck us:

3. The SBS Backup solution is being completely re-vamped. However, we have made the full switch, and the backup solution will no longer support backing up to tape. Using snapshot technology, the backups will be extremely quick using incrementals that can be scheduled as often as every 30 minutes. A copy of NTBackup will be able to extract files from the old SBS 2003 format, but no new data can be added. If tape is super important to you, start sizing up 3rd party backup solutions.

So the next version of SBS will not only be 64 bit it will also not support tape drives. Backups appear to be moving to disk based snap shots. This is definitely the case with people like Symantec and Storagecraft developing excellent SBS offerings. No major surprise here but the interesting issue is how off site disaster recovery backups will be handled. One would guess that the most likely option when SBS Cougar becomes available is that off site backups will be done via the Internet. So you’ll do an regular backup image and this image will then be transferred offsite automatically. There are people that will do that now but it looks like we need to start getting up to speed with these sort of solutions before Cougar ships.

5. Cougar will need to be installed behind some kind of firewall and the single-NIC model will be the only mode. You must use a firewall in front of the SBS box, this can be a hardware router type item, or a software firewall such as ISA.

Now here’s something that we didn’t really know. There have been plenty of rumours that Cougar will allow you to migrate some of the SBS applications (typically ISA) onto seperate hardware and this makes good sense, but according to what Sean says this is going to be mandatory. So it appears that SBS willl come with any in built firewall and that you will have to use an external appliance for SBS Cougar Standard and ISA on a seperate box for SBS Cougar Premium.

The first ramification here is that any SBS Cougar sale is going to have include the sale of a dedicated hardware firewall or a new server to install ISA on. In summary, additional cost. Secondly, it means that there should be more memory for the remaining applications on the SBS Cougar box which is a good thing. More and more these days we are moving towards an SBS solution with a single NIC, for standard and premium, since it provides greater flexibility and removes the need for ISA on the SBS Premium box (which is already getting overloaded with applications now).

Interesting stuff but still needs to be taken with a pince of salt because thing certainly can and will change between now and release of Cougar. However, our take away is no more tape backups out of the box – so how do we handle offsite disaster recovery and secondly no more firewall on the SBS box – this means additional cost for systems. Luckily, we are already moving down those path and this information certainly confirms that we need to place more emphasis on this as Cougar gets closer to release.

Two ways to boost your productivity

Recently we’ve found two ways to really boost our productivity. The first is using dual screens on our desktops. Our new HP desktop machines not only came with Vista but also came with dual video outputs (digital and analogue). Initially we set up the analogue since it was easier but recently we have finally gotten around to also enabling the digital output. After a little bit of fiddling and locating a suitable monitor we are proud to say that we have it all working. Boy, what a difference extra screen real estate makes. On one screen we have our Outlook open so we can see all our emails and on the other we have all our other applications like web browser, word processor and the like. We can’t tell you how much easier it is to work with two documents at the same time if you can actually view them simultaneously. You can be doing research on the web while remoted into a client’s machine all without having to minimize windows. Totally brilliant and we recommend it to all. We now wonder whether adding more than two monitors to our desktops would increase productivity even further?

The second method we have found of increasing our productivity is by using Microsoft OneNote. Having used OneNote before we found that it really didn’t suit our needs but the new version is certainly and improvement. We have installed the OneNote data notebooks on a network drive and shared it between multiple machines. This now means we can simply cut and paste from one machine and retrieve it on another. Even better we can take ONeNote ‘offline’ and use it stand alone and then have it automatically resync when we return to the office. This make it particularly handy when we take our notebook PC offsite. We can pump all our client notes into it quickly and easily and then when we return to the office it is sync’ed with our other notebooks as well as being backed up. We think that it is a boon that lots of the information we used to jot down in paper notebooks can now be stored in OneNote, allowing it to be searchable.

As with any productivity improvement there is an upfront hit in getting the systems working but both duall displays and OneNote have begun to make a real impact to our productivity and we thus recommend them to all.

Do you reckon this will affect SBS sales?

If you don’t already know, Microsoft is soon to release a product is calling Home Server. Interestingly it will network up to 10 PC’s and provide some basic networking, backup and file sharing. Now if you think that only home users are going to use it then we would suggest you think again. We will bet that a significant number of the 1-10 user SBS space will seriously consider Home Server. What will that mean…ummm…well unless you need some of the specific SBS features why would a business now buy SBS? if you just want basic networking why would you now buy SBS when you can get Home Server pretty cheap?

In our experience most of the 1-10 size businesses don’t really need Exchange server, they can typically get away with POP email accounts, so what’s their need for SBS now? Now you can look at this in two ways. Firstly, you could view it in the light of tha fact that the demand from the 1-10 user business is going to decrease. Or secondly, you could say there is an opportunity to sell this product into businesses that may not have even considered a server (including some homes as well).

To our minds there is little doubt that Home Server is going to affect the low end sales of SBS and that if you are serious about your business then you need either to prepare for the short fall or the opportunity depending on your business model.