Category Archives: 1000

A new Microsoft Server?

Just signing up for some of the “community groups” at the MS Australian Partner conference in early August.

In the signup process we need to give a little information about ourselves – fairly normal stuff. Once of the questions made me stop short though:

A server in your pocket?

There’s a whole world outside the USA…

<Rant mode on>


Microsoft – why can you not realise there is a whole world outside of the United States when it comes to setting up and MAINTAINING operating systems?


I have lost count of the number of times I’ve setup a system, telling it to use English (Australia) only to find that it’s switched back to English (United States). Even during the operating system setup process when I specify I want English (Australia) and go so far as to remove the USA references I manage to find it’s “infected” my system once again.


Not only that but upon installing IE7 the first page I get hit with asks me about changing my search provider (not getting into that one right now) and also asks if I want to set myself up for English (United States) once again. Plus that option is the one that’s automatically selected for me so if I’m not paying close attention I might just end up on the opposite side of the world!


Please please please – realise that when I choose my own country I really want to stay there. I’m Australian and darn proud of it, plus I’m sure this affects other country selections as well so I figure I’m not alone in this. I want to speak Australian English, not American (which if you ask a Brit is not real English at all!!)


Also I’d like to be able to specify regional settings in group policy so I can roll out my country of choice to the rest of the computers on the network, so they too don’t get “infected” with English (United States).


<Rant mode off>


Hey – don’t get me wrong. I quite like visiting the USA – I’ve been there some 9 times in the last 2 years, but I live and work in Australia, as do the servers I setup and maintain. I don’t want to have to keep reminding these systems of that fact.


Am I the only one frustrated with this??

SBS Technical Training now in Canberra

Nick’s just blogged this:


http://blogs.msdn.com/nickmayhew/archive/2007/09/14/sbs-partner-training-now-with-a-date-in-canberra.aspx


This follows on from my last post about the training for SBSers. If you’re in Canberra please take advantage of this offer.


It’s a simple matter of economics that if Microsoft can see the numbers in Canberra for these events then they’ll continue to offer them there. If attendance is routinely low (and this is really for any place an event is run) then they won’t be offered there in the future.


So – support yourself and your local community by attending these events and reap the rewards.

I thought I should crow about this one…

I’m at the Microsoft Australian partner conference, being held on Hamilton Island. There are 633 Microsoft partners here and around 140-150 Microsoft staff, together with 23 exhibitors including Trend, Kaseya, Wacom, ProCurve etc.


Anyway, Friday night is the big gala dinner where the partner awards are given out. I’m proud to say we’re a finalist for the Partner of the Year award for the Network Infrastructure category.


We’re up against 2 giants – Commander & Southern Cross. Just being a finalist is something special but winning will be even sweeter.


Anyway, just in case you don’t believe me, check out Nick Mayhew’s blog post – http://blogs.msdn.com/nickmayhew/archive/2007/08/21/award-finalists-announced.aspx (scroll down to the bottom 25% in the list).


Note one key name missing from this list – Axxis! Mathew Dickerson is most certainly here dressed up with Axxis branded clothes and golf buggy, as you’d expect. I forgot to bring my camera to show you but then he really doesn’t need any more publicity 🙂


If we win, expect another post and a rather sore head. If we don’t win I’ll still be very happy with being a finalist. Chalk one up for the SMB focussed partner.

Products coming to end of support life

Got an email from John, my MS partner account manager. He was forwarding on a newsletter called the “Microsoft Support Lifecycle Customer Informational Update”.


Some relevant (SBS-ised) inclusions are:


SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3a — Support Ended July 10, 2007, Custom Support available
On July 10, 2007, SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3a (SP3a) transitioned out of its supported lifecycle. Custom Support will be available and additional details are available from your Technical Account Manager or Account Representative.


SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 0 — Support Ended July 10, 2007
SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 0 (SP0) transitioned out of support on July 10, 2007. Microsoft recommends customers upgrade to Service Pack 1. Please note that Custom Support is not available for this Service Pack.

Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1 — Support Ends January 8, 2008
Support for Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) will end on January 8, 2008.  Customers currently on Service Pack 1 should consider migrating to Service Pack 2.

There are tables included in the newsletter with plenty of products listed showing when mainstream and extended support finish. At the very least you should take note of when key applications being used are being “expired” – don’t want to be caught short.


Note the following URLs:

Microsoft Support Lifecycle Site:      http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle   Frequently Asked Questions:   http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifepolicy Service Pack Information:   http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifesupsps

If you want to subscribe to this newsletter directly go to https://profile.microsoft.com/RegSysProfileCenter/subscriptionwizard.aspx?wizid=98973176-f0b1-4f60-957d-5936c3b933c0&lcid=1033


 (sorry about the mixed fonts – it was the cut & paste!!)

CRM 3.0 EAP released

Attention Microsoft Partners, if you want to get your hands dirty with CRM 3.0 (for testing purposes only) check out http://microsoft.order-7.com/CRMpartnerBeta/ . You need to sign in with your MS Passport to get access to the downloads (462Mb for the SBE edition – just right for SBS).


WARNING: don’t go installing this on your production server, it’s not final code and so is for testing only. I understand the final product will be released over the next couple of months.


As covered at last Monday nights SBS user group meeting, my personal recommendation is you stick to your knitting when it comes to deployment of CRM or other specialised packages. If your focus is SBS infrastructure your best bet is to partner with an organisation that specialises in CRM. This will save you and your clients a lot of pain. Same goes for application development, web site creation etc. Stick to what you know best and work with those who can compliment what you do (see this post – http://msmvps.com/calvert/archive/2005/10/27/73027.aspx for more thoughts on strategy)


That being said, have a play with CRM 3.0 on your favourite virtual server so you can see what all the excitement is about.


Keep your eyes posted on the following sites for more updates:


www.mscrm.com.au


http://thenorwichgroup.blogs.com/


http://www.microsoft.com/businesssolutions/crm/default.mspx


 

Microsoft finger print scanner review

I bought, and started playing with, a Microsoft USB fingerprint scanner yesterday. I’ve only had a little play with it but so far it looks pretty cool.


I started by installing the software that shipped with it, following which you can plug in the device. Unfortunately I had a couple of BSODs which I’m guessing were related but to be honest I didn’t take the time to check the event logs – and the system automatically restarted anyway. After 2 of these it was fine so I soldiered on.


You start by scanning your fingerprint into it – selecting a few fingers from the wizard is ideal (I chose index and middle finger on right hand). There was no pain and certainly no blood, so I kept playing 🙂


When a web site with a login screen is displayed (both HTTP and HTTPS) you simply press your finger on the scanner, it then prompts you to enter your username and password, and you select the appropriate “login” button if it detects multiple buttons to choose from, and hit the OK button. You then place your finger on the scanner again and it logs you in – complete with a little noise as confirmation that it worked.


I’ve added several sites to its collection and am getting into the habit of reaching for the scanner rather than the keyboard when it’s time to log in.


The scanner itself is relatively small and unobtrusive. I guess my only real issue with it is the red light it uses to scan your finger is on all the time, so if you’re working in a dimly lit area it can be just a little distracting (perhaps incorporating a pressure switch that turns the light on when you place your finger on it would be good for version 2). The scanning surface is a soft plastic which gathers dust and finger prints quite easily – simply cleaned with a little sticky tape (the instructions say cello tape but I used scotch tape). At first I thought there was a protective covering on the scanning surface that needed to be removed before use – much like you get on the screen of a mobile phone when it’s new – but don’t be fooled, it’s not a protective coating so don’t go trying to remove it!


After playing with the USB scanner for a day, I decided to bite the bullet and get the full kit – the keyboard with finger print scanner built in and wireless mouse (comes as a bundle). It was a simple matter of unplugging the USB scanner, installing the keyboard and mouse software, then plugging in the new devices.


Since the scanner is on the left side of the keyboard I had to cut the fingers off my hands and switch them around … no wait, that wasn’t necessary. After switching my fingers back to their correct sides (lucky I had some scotch tape left over) I simply scanned some fingers on my left hand using the wizard and that was it.


I’ll be playing with it a little more over the next days and weeks and will post back my thoughts as I learn more.


I must say one disappointing thing I found is it’s really only good for logging into web sites or using the fast user switching for Windows XP. Now this means it can’t be used on a machine that’s part of a DOMAIN (which puts us SBSers out of action for simple logins). I was hoping it could be used for logging into my computer but alas it’s not to be. In fact the instructions (yes I did RTFM) do say the scanner cannot be used for logins to a domain.


I guess I should clarify why I bought the scanner in the first place. I’d heard about the scanner and had been talking with a client who currently have a workgroup and will be moving up to an SBS network over the next few months. The users of this network are, how should I put it, not really technical when it comes to IT, so the thought was to use the scanners to help them adjust to logging into a network – a way of avoiding having to remember their username and password. I bought the scanner to do some testing for them but alas it’s not the solution they need.


In addition, I have a LOT of web sites I log into on a daily basis and this will help save me a little time each day – every bit helps. (in fact I used it to log into my blog and submit this post)


So, what’s the verdict so far? If you have a computer with mulitple accounts, which is in a WORKGROUP environment (ie can use fast user switching) then this is a great product for you. If you log into a lot of web sites during your working day then this is a great product for you.


If your computer lives in a DOMAIN environment, and you basically process email and use a few applications, with limited web site logins, then save your money and give these devices a miss – until they can handle domain logins. I guess it’s early days yet and newer versions may provide the domain login capability – or perhaps there are already products around that can do this. If there are and you know about them, please let me know – gives me an excuse to do some more playing…err…testing.

The roadshow is over…

Last day of the MS/HP/Trend Micro SMB Partner Summit today. I’m sitting in the exhibition area looking at all the tired faces around me – it’s been a long 5 weeks but certainly worthwhile.


Firstly, David Allinson (MS Australia SBS & Windows Server product manager) needs to be congratulated for having the intestinal fortitude to pull this off – it was a step into the unknown to conduct this roadshow, as it’s not been attempted before.


Also, it was a big gamble for him to bring Jeff “Swing IT!!” Middleton out here, all the way from New Orleans (or “Noo Orlins” as he pronounces it) for 5 weeks. Let me correct that slightly – it wasn’t a gamble bringing Jeff out as such, rather it was a gamble to bring out anyone from so far away, for so long, to an event that didn’t have any track record to back it up. I guess it’s testimony to this amazing SBS community we have around the world that made it an uncertain certainty of being successful (if that makes sense!).


Jeff did a great job of mixing in with the resellers at each event, and has managed to adopt some of our language colloquialisms and pronounce numerous words with the correct Australian accent. This helped to endear him more with the people he met – we all now realise that Superman does have a mild-mannered alter-ego (http://msmvps.com/bradley/archive/2004/11/29/21489.aspx).


All presentations have been well attended and received. The feedback has been great and we’re looking forward to working on the next event – whenever and wherever it may occur.


And on the event management front – the girls from The Forum Group have been fantastic. Always smiling, patient, able to solve any problems thrown at them with extreme professionalism, and powering on even when the tiredness would take down lesser mortals. Well done girls – and thanks for the fashion tips!!


So, as we close the curtains on this roadshow what can we take forward? There’s always more to learn, no matter how much you already know. There are a lot of SBS fans out there who are hungry for more information and amazingly didn’t yet know of the user groups around the place – keep your eyes on http://www.sbsusers.net/resources.htm for more information as it comes available. There’s so much more but I’ll need to stop now as the tables are being packed away.


Thanks to all who attended – be it physically or virtually. We look forward to seeing you again.


SBS Rocks!