New Partner Locator tool for Australian MS Partners

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Microsoft have also recently launched a cool Find a Partner tool which ties in Microsoft Virtual Earth with the usual MS Partner Directory. Now you can quickly find and visualise not only the local Pizza place, but your local MS SBSC, Certified Partner or Gold Certified Partner. I’ve noted that it also shows those people with business that operate from home as their home address too – so something to keep an eye on for sure! The picture shows up your top level competency and if you click next, it shows you that you may also be a Small Business Specialist as well.

You can find the new Partner Locator at http://www.microsoft.com/australia/findapartner/find.html


Published: 31/08/2007 5:08 PM

Microsoft Australia Launches Partner TV

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Once again, Microsoft Australia lead the pack in communicating to the partner channel. Today at the Australian MS Partner Conference, on Hamilton Island, Microsoft launched "Partner TV" – a new initiative from them to communicate with us resellers.

Pip Marlow, the Director of the SMS&P group at Microsoft Australia has presented one of the first blogs focusing on talking to partners about what they want to achieve from the partnership with Microsoft, and inviting resellers to continue to provide feedback to Microsoft so that they can provide us with the right tools to do the business we need to do.

The site is http://blogs.msdn.com/ozpartnertv/


Published: 31/08/2007 4:59 PM

How to diagnose a Network Port problem.

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Today I was onsite with one of my clients and experienced a strange problem with one PC that was being ghosted from an image. The client runs a chain of retail outlets and when they open a new outlet they use Ghost to prepare a machine based on an image. They have a run up area down the back of their warehouse as well as two older servers. The problem was that when they went to use the PC to do the build, the ghost image (1.5GB in size) would not come down at all. The target system would logon to the network via the DOS (yes DOS) boot disk, we could connect to the shares on the server in the main server room but the image would not transfer. Ok – so how do you diagnose this problem?

 

The first question needs to be – has this ever worked before? And if so then when did it last work? The answers to this was "yes it has worked and it last worked 2 weeks ago".

 

Ok – so next question – what changed in that two weeks? We put in a new Netgear FSM7326P Layer 3 Managed Switch. We did this as part of an overall network upgrade and now have web access to the management consoles on all of the switches in the network. It worked on an old 100MB hub before that. The new switch is connected via a 1GB cable through to the main switches in the server room. Connection to the PC’s in the run up area is via 100MB cables, and we have two servers in this area two – they connect one via 1GB and the other via 100MB to this switch.

 

So I thought I’d try a few tests. First up I tested copying the 1.5GB file from the main server in the server room (SVR1) down to one of the servers in the run up area (SVR3) – it copied the 1.5GB file in about 1-2minutes. Ok – so that ruled out the connection from the local switch to the remote switch. Next I put my laptop into one of the 100MB ports and copied the file down to it – it came down in about 4 minutes – not bad given I had 100MB port. No problems so far. I then connected my laptop to the port that the target PC was using – same test – same results. Ok – at this point it looked like the entire switch structure was fine and not at fault.

 

I connected to the web management console and looked at the ports on the switch – nothing sinister there either. An idea struck me… all ports by default are set to automatically detect the port speed and duplex options. The machines we are using for the stores were connecting at 100MB Full Duplex. I suspected that maybe they might not like this. I tried the port on that target machine and changed it to 100MB Half Duplex via the web console. Rebooted the PC and tried again –it worked like a charm. So I used the web console to set all the ports in the run up area (used by other machines like that one) to half duplex as well to prevent future issues.

 

Hopefully these little tidbits of HOW I diagnosed a problem provide more value than the resolution itself.


Category: Troubleshooting

Published: 31/08/2007 9:49 AM

Catch up with Trend Micro CEO – Eva Chen

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Trend Micro’s CEO Eva Chen was here in Sydney yesterday. Her aim was to talk to partners about the directions Trend Micro is taking with their products, and the local partner program which has just be relaunched under the Affinity Partner Program title. I’ll leave the specifics of the partner program to another post.

What struck me when arriving at the event was Eva’s openness which to be honest is something that I’ve come to expect from Trend Micro staff here in Australia, but it was fantastic to see that it extended all the way to the top of the chain. I was expecting that in order to get a few minutes with Eva, that I’d have to break through layers of bodyguards and security people – I mean – she is the CEO of a $1 billion dollar company after all. However when I arrived, I found Eva chatting to another SMB IT reseller about the pains that he faced in dealing with customers. Not a bodyguard in sight! Eva was not only talking to him but listening intently to the issues that he faced on a daily basis. I was introduced to Eva by one of the local Trend Product Managers – Ben Guthrie and we proceeded to talk about the things that we face selling and supporting the Trend Micro products, and I wanted to both give and receive feedback on how we could work better with them.

We then moved into the formal presentations, and Eva gave the normal company pitch about sales figures, staff and the like, and to be honest, I think she was nervous. The room had about 60 or so Trend partners, and distributors – many of which were SMB IT Resellers. Once the facts and figures were out of the way, she opened up into what Trend saw as threats in the digital world of today, and how they planned to combat them. We learned that it was 17 years since Eva was last here in Australia and that when she was last here, she was a one person exhibition stand at a computer show trying to promote her new antivirus product at the time. She was very open and revealed to us some upcoming products that they are working on that will really kick but in terms of being able to diagnose and block suspicious traffic down to a port level on the switch – very cool indeed. Eva said that her team didn’t want her talking much about this, so I’ll not go into details – but what it does show me is that Trend Micro really are thinking a few generations beyond what other security vendors are doing. We learned during the presentation that Eva actually wrote the first versions of Trend Micro’s Interscan Viruswall products – cool – she’s a geek at heart I thought. This really became apparent later in the session when Eva opened up big time with a very passionate discussion about the things we face in the future, how far we’ve come and how far we’ve got to go in order to protect our friends, families and business’ in this digital age. Here I think we saw the real Eva – a lady so passionate about technology and the challenges ahead that she was nearly jumping out of her skin. I’ve seen many CEO’s present before in person, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone as passionate about their responsibilities as Eva was.

Meeting Eva reaffirms my strong belief that Trend Micro is a business partner I want on my side, with a CEO that is as focused, passionate and willing to listen to the community like Eva, it’s all good. Thank you Eva for the chance to meet you and thanks for the time you took to share with us where we are all heading.

Footnote: Eva will be making a special virtual appearance at the upcoming SMBFocus conference here in Sydney in November – www.smbfocus.com


Category: TrendMicro

Published: 30/08/2007 11:14 AM

Software I use…

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I talk a lot to people, both face to face when I’m running training or presenting, and also online via various forums. Often I’m using some cool piece of software that helps people do things better. People want to know about this stuff and in particular the cool things that I use it for. Therefore I’ve started a category for "Software I use" which will highlight the software that I use in a day to day scenario, not just the good, but the bad and the downright ugly as well. Some vendors deserve to be shot for the poor quality software that they put out as final product when in fact it should be still in beta. Other vendors provide true gems of software that few people know about. I’m hoping that we can expose both and overall deliver more value to the community as a whole.

Anyway – enough from me on this – on to do some work now – I’ve got a conference to organise – www.smbfocus.com if you’ve not heard!


Category: Software I use

Published: 30/08/2007 7:25 AM

Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP3 Announcement

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Microsoft today announced plans for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows XP Service Pack 3 betas. I received this last night under embargo until today – so here’s an extract of what I know.

What is Windows Vista Service Pack 1?

Windows Vista SP1 is an update to Windows Vista that, along with improvements delivered to users via Windows Update, addresses feedback from our customers.  While SP1 contains valuable updates to Windows, organizations don’t need to wait to deploy and can experience the improved security, management and deployment benefits of Windows Vista today.

In addition to previously released updates, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards.  SP1 also continues to improve upon the IT administration experience. SP1 is not intended to be a vehicle for releasing new features; however some existing components do gain enhanced functionality in SP1. 

Windows Vista SP1 is designed to not significantly change the UI or to cause regressions in application compatibility.1 

What improvements are there to reliability in SP1?

Windows Vista SP1 improves the reliability of Windows Vista in many areas.  Thanks to the rich instrumentation capability of Windows Vista, we are able to understand the type of problems that our customers are experiencing (while respecting their personal information and privacy preferences).  

Many of these crashes and blue screens stem from problems with 3rd party applications and drivers, so we are working with our partners to solve these problems together.  Other problems occur entirely in Windows code so we are aggressively working to solve as many of these as possible too. 

Some of these improvements are made available before SP1 in the August updates available via Windows Update and the Download Center. 

What are some examples of additions to the service pack in the "Support for emerging technologies and standards" category?

Throughout the lifetime of Windows, new hardware innovations occur and standards enter the marketplace.  SP1 includes support for some of these new innovations, which are expected to become increasingly important in the coming years.  For example:

  • With SP1, Windows Vista can boot via EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) on an x64 machine
  • SP1 supports ExFAT, a new file format that will be used in flash memory storage and consumer devices
  • Support for SD Advanced DMA Support to improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization is part of SP1
  • SP1 includes a series of new API’s and software features to enable 3D application and game developers to make more complete and efficient use of the upcoming generation of graphics Direct3D 10.1 hardware
  • Windows Vista SP1 includes SSTP (Secure Sockets Tunnel Protocol), a remote access VPN tunneling protocol that will be part of Microsoft’s RRAS (Routing and Remote Access Service) platform.  SSTP helps provide full-network VPN remote access connections without some of the challenges that other VPN tunnels face traversing NAT, web proxies, and firewalls

 

What are some examples of additions to the service pack in the "Improve management experience" category?

SP1 improves the administration experience.  For example:

  • With Windows Vista SP1, BitLocker Drive Encryption has been enhanced to not only fully encrypt the entire Windows Vista volume but also any or all additional locally created data volumes.  (Customers can now not only fully encrypt C: but also D: and E:)
  • SP1 Improves printer management by addressing problems associated with printing to a local printer from within a Terminal Server session
  • Network Diagnostics in Windows Vista SP1 will help users with the most common file sharing problems, in addition to basic problems already supported
  • SP1 includes an update to Disk Defragmenter so administrators can control which volumes the disk  defragmenter runs on

     

Additionally, the tools used to manage Group Policy for Windows Vista will change with the installation of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. GPMC will be uninstalled with Service Pack 1 and GPEdit will default to Local Group Policy editing. Following these changes, SP1 users can download an updated version of GPMC that contains much requested functionality including the ability to add comments to GPOs or individual settings, to search for specific GP settings, and to use Starter GPOs which encapsulate best practices.

 

What languages will Windows Vista SP1 include?

SP1 is going to be released in two waves. The initial release of SP1 will include 5 languages (English, French, Spanish, German, and Japanese).  A Service Pack containing all 36 of the languages (including the original 5) will be released about 3 months later.

What drivers are new in SP1?

Windows Vista SP1 does not include new drivers.  Rather, new drivers are delivered to users via Windows Update or directly from the driver vendor.  There are two benefits to doing it this way:

  • Drivers can be delivered when they are available, and not just with the service pack
  • Via WU, drivers are only delivered to PCs which need those drivers, which help keep the size of the service pack from growing.

     

When will Windows Vista SP1 be released?

  • We currently expect to deliver SP1 during the first quarter of 2008, but we will collect customer feedback from our upcoming beta process before setting a final date.  Quality is our most important factor when determining availability. 
  • The beta will be released to approximately 10-15K private testers that will not include TechNet subscribers, but MSDN and Technet subscribers will be able to participate in testing when the RC of Windows Vista SP1 is available. The timing of the RC will be based on feedback from the beta testers, and we’ll share more info as we have it.

 

How large will the Service Pack 1 be?

The Beta of Windows Vista SP1 will be approximately 50 MB when delivered over Windows Update (to 32-bit PCs). We expect that will be the experience for the majority of our users.  For IT Departments in large organizations, we also provide the "Standalone Package".  It will be significantly larger in size (about 1 GB for 32-bit), as it includes more just the changed files between Windows Vista Gold and Windows Vista SP1 as well as all 36 languages.

There are three changes to how the standalone Service Pack is built in Windows Vista which are responsible for its larger size.  However, these changes also bring benefits to IT professionals. 

                 

  • For the first time ever, the "standalone" package includes every language that Windows is released in.  This increases the size but adds the benefit that the same package can be used to apply SP1 on any Windows Vista computer in an organization, regardless of language.

 

  • Additionally, updating in Windows Vista is now "component based." This means that if a file is changed, the entire component, including some files that may not been changed, is included in the standalone pack.  This is a departure from previous versions of Windows, where the basic unit of updating was a file, not a component.  A component is made up of multiple files.

     

There are a number of benefits gained with the new component based servicing model.  For instance:

  • More reliable out of order uninstall

    Uninstalling packages in a different reverse order than they were installed in could result in an inconsistent system state.  Now packages can be uninstalled in any order more reliably

  • Automatic Language Updates

    When an update is installed, the MUI files for all installed languages can be updated simultaneously, since they are in the component store

     

  • Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 have been built from the same fundamental source code base since the beginning.  Many of the core files are identical between the two products, although each product has unique features, specific individual files and functional behaviors that are appropriate for the intended customer uses for the specific product. For example, Windows Media Center only appears in Windows Vista, while Active Directory or Windows Clustering only appears in Windows Server 2008.  Examples of common files shared between the two operating systems are the kernel and core OS files, the networking stack, file sharing.  In the past year since the Vista public release, the common files in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 have been continually improved based on customer beta feedback, customer deployments, and Microsoft internal testing.

 

Because these are common files, any changes to the code for Windows Server 2008 will result in corresponding changes in the files in Vista SP1.  Some of these changes may increase the reliability of Vista SP1, while others may be in server-only codepaths that do not directly affect Windows Vista customers. However, in order to keep the code common for future servicing and management, the changes have to be included in the common version of the files.  While many of these files have been updated for Server scenarios, most of these changes do not change the features or functionality of Windows Vista, but they are included in the service pack.

 

Who will receive the Beta of Windows Vista SP1?

There are approximately 10,000 customers and partners that will be participating in this beta.  We rely on this group to help us test our software on a broader range of hardware and over diverse usage scenarios as well as to ensure that the larger partner ecosystem has had sufficient time to test their products on Windows Vista SP1.

Microsoft has created deployment guidance, available to beta testers on Microsoft Connect.  The Application Compatibility Toolkit and Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) will be updated to help customers prepare for and deploy for SP1.

 

What about MSDN and TechNet subscribers access the Beta?

Currently the beta is restricted to about 10,000 participants, which represent a sampling of our user base.  MSDN and TechNet members will gain access to a later milestone beta of SP1, to be announced later during the beta cycle.

 

Windows XP SP3

On 8/28/07 we will also be announcing plans for Windows XP SP3 as a roll up of all the hot fixes and patches including security updates, out of band releases and hotfixes.    This is a standard practice to release a service pack as a release nears end-of-life that rolls up all hot fixes and patches, for the convenience of our customers and partners. There are no new features in Windows XP SP3, with the exception of Network Access Protection, a capability in Windows Vista that is also being made available on Windows XP SP3 and will require Windows Server 2008.

 When will Windows XP SP3 be available?

We are targeting 1H 2008 for the release of Windows XP SP3, though our timing will always be based on quality as a first priority.


Published: 30/08/2007 7:17 AM

What RSS reader do you use? Aka – I wish MS had support this good!

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I’ve used a few different RSS readers over the past 12 months and I’ve finally settled on one that I like.

I tried to use Outlook 2007 – but got fed up with the fact that it would all by it’s own accord stop synchronising the feeds. I tried a number of things to resolve it, but ultimately they all failed to make it work the way it was supposed to.

I tried RSS Bandit and for a long time this was my reader of choice, that is until I discovered Feedghost.

Feedghost came to me via some of my MVP buddies. They were talking about it and how it could be installed on multiple devices – desktop @ home, laptop, desktop in the office and it would synchronise my feeds for me, give me the ability to tag things I wanted to go back to later and the like. So I thought, I’ll give it a go. Downloaded and installed it just fine. Then I started to have a few crashes. Now crashes of a software product normally turn me off right away. Feedghost offered to report the crashes back to the developer and I thought – "Hey – nothing to lose here". I allowed it to send back to the developer. Next morning I get an email from Lee @ Feedghost asking "what’s up, what were you doing at the time of the crash etc" Wow – that’s great customer service indeed. Very encouraging. So much so that I began a dialog with Lee – telling him more about the problem and the like. Within another 24 hours he had found and patched the problem. Thanks Lee – I thought that was great. Then I started to notice a few more issues – the synchronising feature was not accurate – I had different groups on my desktop vs laptop. Once more, Lee dug into it. This one was a little harder and took a little longer to resolve, but sure enough he did resolve it.

My point here – is that whilst I know I can’t expect the same from Microsoft, it’s very refreshing to see results back from some of those "phone home error reports" that many software developers are integrating into their software. More impressive was to get the problems resolved quickly and get feedback from the developer as to when it would be resolved if they could not resolve it quickly.

Go on – give Feedghost a try – I did and I love it!

 


Category: Software I use

Published: 29/08/2007 8:39 PM

GFI Webmonitor for ISA v3.0 to v4.0 Upgrade may cause very slow internet access for users

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Today I’ve done an inplace upgrade for a customers ISA 2004 server up to ISA 2006 – the upgrade itself went well once we removed the Firewall Client Share in ISA 2004. The client uses GFI’s Webmonitor for ISA Server to monitor their users and block certain sites. It works pretty well and gives them control over the users internet access above and beyond that provided by ISA. The client was on v3.0 of this product and following the upgrade I noticed an error message in the event log.

Event Type:        Warning

Event Source:        Microsoft ISA Server Web Proxy

Event Category:    None

Event ID:        21237

Date:            29/08/2007

Time:            8:22:48 AM

User:            N/A

Computer:        SERVERNAME

Description:        Web filter 'GFI WebMonitor3 filter' is not installed on this server. Install the filter and then restart the Firewall service.

 

I figured that if we removed Webmonitor for ISA v3.0 and installed the later version all should be good. So we removed the old version, downloaded and installed the later version which also went well. However we then found that any HTTP access to the internet was so slow as to timeout. We found that this also related to the http://monitor.isa as well. A dig into the event logs found the following;

Event Type:        Warning

Event Source:        ASP.NET 2.0.50727.0

Event Category:    Web Event 

Event ID:        1309

Date:            29/08/2007

Time:            8:49:14 AM

User:            N/A

Computer:        SERVERNAME

Description:

Event code:         3005 
Event message: An unhandled exception has occurred. 
Event time: 29/08/2007 8:49:14 AM 
Event time (UTC): 28/08/2007 10:49:14 PM 
Event ID: 380151aedd694068b8688d3cee0ddb40 
Event sequence: 12 
Event occurrence: 1 
Event detail code: 0 
 
Application information: 
    Application domain: 877b0161-1-128328149238155063 
    Trust level: Full 
    Application Virtual Path: / 
    Application Path: C:\Program Files\GFI\WebMonitor\Interface\ 
    Machine name: SERVERNAME 
 
Process information: 
    Process ID: 4144 
    Process name: WMonWeb.exe 
    Account name: DOMAIN\ServiceAccount 
 
Exception information: 
    Exception type: HttpException 
    Exception message: Session state has created a session id, but cannot save it because the response was already flushed by the application. 
 
Request information: 
    Request URL: http://localhost:1007/UrlHistory.aspx?ID=1 
    Request path: /UrlHistory.aspx 
    User host address: 127.0.0.1 
    User:  
    Is authenticated: False 
    Authentication Type:  
    Thread account name: DOMAIN\ServiceAccount 
 
Thread information: 
    Thread ID: 4 
    Thread account name: DOMAIN\ServiceAccount 
    Is impersonating: False 
    Stack trace:    at System.Web.SessionState.SessionIDManager.SaveSessionID(HttpContext context, String id, Boolean& redirected, Boolean& cookieAdded)

   at System.Web.SessionState.SessionStateModule.CreateSessionId()

   at System.Web.SessionState.SessionStateModule.DelayedGetSessionId()

   at System.Web.SessionState.SessionStateModule.OnReleaseState(Object source, EventArgs eventArgs)

   at System.Web.HttpApplication.SyncEventExecutionStep.System.Web.HttpApplication.IExecutionStep.Execute()

   at System.Web.HttpApplication.ExecuteStep(IExecutionStep step, Boolean& completedSynchronously)

 

Ok – at this point we just needed to get services running for the user, so we disabled the Web Filter via ISA 2006’s Management Console and things worked fine for us. I then talked to GFI’s Tech Support here in Australia and found that they have in the last 24hours heard about this problem and they are investigating. To resolve the issue for the client at the moment they suggested that we remove v4 and reinstall v3. This worked fine for us and we’ve got our monitoring back again. I’ll post here again with the solution once it becomes available.

 


Category: Troubleshooting

Published: 29/08/2007 12:17 PM

My New Blog

Body:

Hi Guys – many of you will know that I am extremely impressed with what Windows Sharepoint Services v3.0 can do.  So much so that I decided to move my blog over here so that I can continue to blog and in fact increase my blogging.  So welcome to my blog – I’ve had a few challenges in getting things running and soon I’ll blog about how this blog was made up and how you can build your own blog on WSS v3.0

 


Published: 20/08/2007 12:00 AM