Monthly Archives: April 2005

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I’m bummed


Normally I try to come up with some kind of witty post title..but I just can’t come up with anything else but…. I’m bummed.  I’m watching CNN.com/NEXT show and this is the last edition of this show.  First I lost CNet’s computer TV show that used to be on Discovery channel…. and now CNN’s NEXT show.  TechTV is into video games [which I'm not]… I mean what’s a girl geek to do when all of her geek shows start going off the air?


Starts to make me think …why is that?  Is it that technology just isn’t newsworthy anymore?  Or is it that it’s just more common place and normal?  I mean walk into any department store [like Target] and look at all the technology that is just normal…. digital cameras, DVDs, MP3 players, are just normal now. 


Daniel Sieberg… while you say you’ll still be doing tech and science spots throughout CNN, it just won’t be the same.  I’ll miss you on the weekend.  I’ve been used to you every weekend for the past three years.  Thanks for what you did do, showing me some new things, and providing things for me to google.


Seems a bit odd when we should be emphasizing science and technology in this world, that in the media that I see, the level of science and technology feels like it’s actually decreasing.  The Learning Channel seems like it is more home makeover shows than it is really teaching me anything these days.


Well I’ll have to go in search of geek shows.  I’ll let you know what I find to take Daniel’s place.  It’s going to be hard to fill his shoes is all.



Thanks for three interesting years!

How localized are you?

Out and about running a few errands today, I stopped and got gas and noticed at the gas station not far from my house the advertising banners at the station were half in English and half in Spanish.  Later when I went to Target [we call it Tar-shay you know], the voices around me were mixtures of English/Spanish and English/Laotian.  Keep in mind that I live in the ‘breadbasket of California’ and yet look at the United Nations around me that I totally take for granted.  It’s just part of California and where I live.  In fact in Fresno, the Spanish TV and radio stations have higher ratings than the English speaking ones do.


It got me thinking on the localization issues that businesses must face on a regular basis, and of course Microsoft and SBS being an example of a business that needs to take something and translate it.  For SBS I think if I remember right, they come out with 17 different language versions of SBS.  Just the other day in the newsgroups a guy posted in about hotfixes and I used Google’s translation service to translate the “hotfixes are free” but I apologized for using Google translation because I know how it can lose meaning and be a bit insulting sometimes to the poster.


Take for example this phrase: 


  • Hotfixes es una llamada libre, servicios de ayuda justos del producto de Microsoft de la llamada

Let’s see what happens when we now stick it in Google to go back to English.


  • Hotfixes is a free call, right services of aid of the product of Microsoft of the call.

Uh…yeah… that’s sounds self explanatory doesn’t it?  Want to know what it started out as?  Hotfixes are a free call, just call Microsoft Product Support Services.  Yeah, see what I mean?  Loses a bit in the translation, doesn’t it?  So now think of the problems we face in a global world of technology.  Geeks have a problem communicating in the first place and we lose things in translation.  Talk about a compound problem.  


I’ll admit this is one area that I am vastly undereducated on.  I slid though my education without the need for a secondary language [and no, Geek is not officially designed as a language so I can't count that].  My sister knows enough French to say “My pencil is yellow“, I know enough Spanish to be able to order off the menu of a Mexican Food Restaurant.  Meanwhile in the ranks of my fellow MVPs from other countries… while they speak and write fluent English and it’s not even their only language.  I think Mariette and Marina probably know about 10 languages between them.


Heck, look at Sam the SBS server… he speaks 17:



I barely speak English and he speaks two versions of Chinese, two versions of Portuguese and Russian.  I got a book on learning Russian in high school and more than anything else I remember that “e’s” look like “’3′s”.  Like I said, vastly undereducated when it comes to foreign languages and ‘localizations’.



But remember, while we do have localized newsgroups, they don’t get as much traffic as the English speaking ones.  As long as you can speak write English, can translate the error messages if Google can’t do it for us, just remember that the communities of SBS that have the primary language as English, your geek peers, can still help you.  A computer error is a computer error and I still say that Geek truly is the universal language.  And if you don’t mind if Google and I massacre your language I can always do this:


  • Hotfixes sind ein freier Anruf, gerade Anrufmicrosoftprodukt-Beistandsservices.
  • Hotfixes sont un appel gratuit, services de support justes de produit de Microsoft d’appel
  • Hotfixes è una chiamata libera, servizi giusti di sostegno del prodotto del Microsoft di chiamata
  • Hotfixes é uma chamada livre, serviços de sustentação justos do produto de Microsoft da chamada

For the record that’s German, French, Italian, Portuguese …. well…it’s supposed to be anyway.  In the original post I also included Japanese, Korean and Chinese but .TEXT didn’t like the characters and wouldn’t post them. 


So what about you?  Do you face any localization or translation issues where you are?


Like I said… I barely speak English. 

ROM updated and through the worm hole

It’s always great fun sticking some new piece of software on your ‘baby’ and making sure it comes through the worm hole to the other side.  One HP ROM upgrade [burn from the web iso to cdrom] later I’ve got the following upgrades inplace:


ROM upgrade went from 2004.8.26 to 2004.12.2 [Which is what I need to be ready for SBS 2003 SP1]


Array went from 1.92 to 2.34  [ooh up a whole digit]


Lights out went from 1.62 to 1.64


My Insight Management Agent is still at 7.10.0.0 which means I still have the Data Execution Prevention issue on my box if I don’t upgrade so I’ll be upgrading the IMA to the 7.20.0.0 version. 


One update down, one to go and this is still our “homework period” of just getting ourselves in tip top shape before the service pack.

You want what?

So the Copier/Scanner/Printer company faxes me a network pre-installation/configuration information sheet to fill out and they want to know stuff like… oh…domain name, IP address, DCHP, default gateway, DNS [primary and secondary] ….and this is kinda cool, they specifically ask about SBS as a network device.  Hmmm that must mean they’ve had enough of them to be an item [sometimes us SBSers don't think of ourselves as Windows 2003 servers and sometimes network technicians need to know exactly what we are]. 


But then here’s the kicker…they ask me for the mail server name and a username and password on that mailserver. 


Uh…I don’t think so…..I give you a username and password to an email account on my box and I’ve handed you privileged information sir.  There is no way I’m giving you that information when I’ve signed no contracts, and this is merely a pre-configuration sheet.  Heck, while it looks good that we’ll go with your system, I’m still not writing down a username and password and giving it to you to keep in your filing system since I don’t know how well it’s secured.


So I filled out ‘some’ of the information, prepared a Visio diagram to showcase the firm’s current network and faxed that over to them.  But I didn’t put in a username and password.


Did find something out …when I was discussing the diagram with a co-worker, they looked at the Visio diagram of the ‘cloud’ and said “what’s that?”


I forgot that not everyone knows the geek picture icon representations for the Internet….it’s a cloud:



So in my office it’s Cloud to router to ISA server to Server to Switch to workstations to my workstation and here we are where I’m about to press the post button so this blog post will go from desktop to cat5 wiring to HP Procurve switch to SBS 2003 to router to Pacbell to the World Wide Web to…well…that Cloud.

June 15th Chat on SBS 2003 sp1

SBS: Shiny and New with SP1
Small Business Server, Microsoft’s all-in-one solution for small businesses, is getting its first service pack. Changes to an all-in-one system can be risky, especially since SBS is targeted towards businesses without full-time IT Staff to fix things if they go wrong. Windows IT Pro author Michael Otey has run SBS SP1 through its paces and will answer your questions about SBS SP1 deployment, features, and fixes. Come find out why you should consider installing SBS SP1 and what you need to do to help your business or your customers plan deployment.







Hello …hold the phone…”why you should consider’?  Consider?  Whoa…as Yoda would say ..there is no Try …there is only Do


Yo, folks… there is no ‘consider installing it’ when it comes to this important of a service pack… You DO it.  The only consideration here is WHEN…not IF…but WHEN.


In about 30 minutes I’m upgrading the ROM here to be ready for SP1… so remember…. DO IT not “consider it”.  In fairness though… it should be TESTED on a non production system first before you apply it.  Don’t have a non production box?  Wait and have the community shake out any issues first and we’ll guide you through it.

Paranoia

Sometimes it’s funny how people react to things.  There was a recent set of stories of how the next version of Windows would have a ‘black box’ feature to aid in gathering data of system crashes and what not. 


In some circles you would think Microsoft has a division that just can’t wait to read what stuff we have on the computers.  Just take some of these comments:


My initial impression is that in the health care industry this will be a violation of the HIPAA security rules.” and “I’ve heard a lot of discussion on Microsoft’s privacy issues. I was an avid Windows XP user, using it for personal web hosting and gaming. But discussions like this BlackBox and Palladium have gotten me spooked


And yet, do many of you realize that as of right now, if this is a privacy issue to you later, it is a privacy issue now…and better yet, do you realize what benefit it is?


First off there is a setting, a registry edit that you can do to turn this off if you are that paranoid and concerned.  Furthermore, when the crash dump occurs, say no and don’t send it.


HKLM\Software\Microsoft \DrWatson \CreateCrashDump is the registry key if you want to disable it…but wait… keep reading…


But do you realize the benefit of these dumps?  Case in point is SBS.  Last April we saw our SBS boxes blue screen and send a dump off to Microsoft, it ended up being a virus engine update that they knew BECAUSE of the crash dumps.  They knew within minutes while the rest of us were totally guessing.  Charlie Anthe has posted before of all the items that have been identified because of crash dumps.


You can take a look at this link http://oca.microsoft.com/en/Response.asp?SID=896 and see what kind of things have been found with the online crash report.  Change that SID number in fact and you’ll see the kinds of things that have been found.  The Data collection policy is posted on the web site.


As it says on the site “When collecting information, it is possible for personal or confidential information to be present in the report. For instance, a snapshot of memory may include your name, part of a document you were working on, or data you recently submitted to a Web site. It is also possible for personal information to be included in a log file, a portion of the registry, or other product specific files needed to determine the cause of the problem. If you are concerned that the report may contain personal or confidential information, please do not send the report.”


Bottom line if you have a concern about the black box technology in Longhorn, you should have a security concern now.  The technology is not increasing, it’s just enhancing what’s already there.  It’s like the concept of the SBS community.  Peer sharing so we can all benefit.


Now how about taking some if this paranoia against our line of business vendors can’t do least user privilege coding, eh?

Law number 2 – get ready for LUA folks

Law #2: If a bad guy can alter the operating system on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore


In the end, an operating system is just a series of ones and zeroes that, when interpreted by the processor, cause the computer to do certain things. Change the ones and zeroes, and it will do something different. Where are the ones and zeroes stored? Why, on the computer, right along with everything else! They’re just files, and if other people who use the computer are permitted to change those files, it’s “game over”.


To understand why, consider that operating system files are among the most trusted ones on the computer, and they generally run with system-level privileges. That is, they can do absolutely anything. Among other things, they’re trusted to manage user accounts, handle password changes, and enforce the rules governing who can do what on the computer. If a bad guy can change them, the now-untrustworthy files will do his bidding, and there’s no limit to what he can do. He can steal passwords, make himself an administrator on the computer, or add entirely new functions to the operating system. To prevent this type of attack, make sure that the system files (and the registry, for that matter) are well protected. (The security checklists on the Microsoft Security website will help you do this).



There are a couple of things that are in the near future and one that we majorly need to get on the backs of our application vendors on that are touched by Security Law number 2.  This law says that if you don’t protect your system registry, you may not have a good system.


Well guess what class…what do most of us do to our system registry?  We leave it wide open to be messed with all the time.  Show of hands… how many [including myself as I've got a couple of desktops that I haven't fully done this to] are running with full rights to that desktop?  We leave our registries wide open for attack.  I’ll be the first to admit it’s not easy running with least privilege user rights…what we have to do to classesroot to get Quickbooks to run in LUA is insane. 


So we don’t even do ANYTHING to help even get close to protecting ourselves on law number 2, we leave ourselves wide open from the get go. And this is something we need our vendors to help out on.  My Threatcode site is back on the air and we truly need to get these vendors ready for Longhorn and LUA.

Got Dell?

If you own a Dell, the notification email you need to sign up for is here.  Andrew posted the link but the blog format means that it ended up a bit down below in a weird location so I thought I’d posted it as a new post.


So there you have it.  If you had a Dell or HP, you have some newsletters to sign up for, don’t you?

Another patch email that I signed up for

I’ve signed up for Microsoft’s security patch emails, but there’s another category of patch emails that I haven’t signed up for until now.  My hardware patch notifications. Out on the HP site [and look if Dell has a similar offering], there is a place to sign up for driver update notifications for my model of server.


Receive proactive customized emails on an as available, weekly, or monthly basis that provides drivers, software patches, product change notifications, customer advisories, softpaqs, patches, security bulletins, and more across 95% of HP’s business product lines. Each HP Technology at Work alert email provides a short description of each personalized alert and then links you to the location where you obtain the latest support information for your HP products

More Homework

Danny points out there’s a one stop place to update the firmware in the server before the update.  The link it at HP and there is one thing I noted about it.  The link actually goes to a ftp site that unless you have the fix for 05-019 in place or passive FTP checked, your browser kinda sits there.


If you are having issues with FTP, remember get the hotfix here…or adjust ftp to enable passive ftp [go into Internet Explorer, Tools, Internet Options, Advanced, click the box ‘use passive ftp’.


In the meantime I’m pulling down the zip file to build an iso image that will have the needed updates for my server to prep it for Windows 2003 sp1 which is included in SBS 2003 sp1.


Thanks Danny!


So don’t forget to do your homework!