Warning Notice to Vendors and Distributors

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This warning notice needs to be conveyed to all vendors and distributors that hope to sell their products to and through the SMB IT Reseller channel.

SMB IT Resellers tend to be a talkative lot.  They get most of their business through word of mouth.  They talk to each other about the ups and downs of running and business focused on the SMB channel.  As such when a vendor or distributor starts to do the wrong thing by us, news travels fast.  When the vendor continues to do the wrong thing despite attempts by the community to correct the vendors directions, then news travels even faster.  Ultimately SMB resellers are time poor and will take the path of least resistance to get to the objective they need to obtain.  This will involve dumping products and services from vendors that just don’t get it or have shown that they are not interested in "getting it".  I feel that this is about to happen with one large communications vendor that wants to push into the SMB IT channel right now.  I’ve had a number of talks with them along with other concerned community members and they still don’t get it. We’re happy to put some time into building the relationship with you, but if you don’t show us the same respect then ultimately it’s not going to work.

You have been warned.  Failure to care for the SMB IT Channel will result in the channel avoiding you.  That will cost you business and reputation.  Talk to us.  Listen to us.  Give us what we need to work better with you.


Published: 1/02/2008 3:47 PM

Battery Life tips for Toshiba Portege R500 – Part 1

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I’ve been in a MCT Conference this week in Sydney getting the lowdown on Windows Server 2008.  I’m using my new laptop and trying to see just how much life I can get from the battery.  Yesterday I got about 6 hours out of it and that was with about 4 hours of using my Vodafone VMC card too.  So here’s a few tips so far on how to get battery life from it when your at a conference.

Ok – so here’s where it’s at right now after 1.5hrs of use without the VMC card…clip_image001

Not bad – let’s see how it goes through the day.

Tip #1 – turn the backlight down to minimal brightness – most people don’t need it up bright – the room lights are normally down low so a minimal level of brightness works well and helps extend battery life AND gives you more privacy from those around you.

Tip #2 – Turn off the wireless if you don’t need it.  This seems to save quite a bit – maybe an extra hour if the above screens are to be taken seriously.

More tips later today!


Published: 31/01/2008 10:19 AM


Things I love about my new phone

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One of the cool things that came with my new phone is a copy of CoPilot Live v7.  This software uses the inbuilt GPS antenna on the TyTn II to guide me from site to site.  One of the really cool features though is that it allows my family to login to a webpage and see where I am.  The blue dot below is me on the way home today.  It updates my location to the website every 5 minutes. 

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Whats more is that via the website, my family can send me a message direct to the TyTn II screen which gives me up to 4 options to respond.  Something like "What do you want for dinner?" with potential responses of "Pizza, Chinese, Indian or Thai" as big large buttons for me to quickly hit a response to them.  Very nice software.

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Ok- so what can be better than that? Well as an authorised user, I can create a trip via the web and then send it down to the device.  Very cool for someone doing centralised control of a number of people, like service technician etc.

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Category: Software I use

Published: 16/01/2008 9:57 PM


So you want Exchange 2007 in your SBS Environment- really?

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By the look of it many people just can’t wait for SBS Cougar to be released, therefore they want to get onto Exchange 2007 right now.  Let me tell you people don’t bother.  Wait for SBS Cougar instead as you’ll find everything will work in the SBS way.

The SBS Blog has info on how to get Exchange 2007 into your SBS 2003 environment right now.  It’s here http://blogs.technet.com/sbs/archive/2008/01/10/exchange-2007-in-an-sbs-2003-environment.aspx

However things that are not 100% clear that you need to be aware of include…

1. You will need to install a second 64bit server to host your Exchange 2007 environment.  So thats an additional W2003 server license as well as the Exchange 2007 server AND Exchange 2007 CALs that you need to purchase.  Oh and the hardware too.

2. If you choose to have Exchange 2003 AND 2007 working in the same SBS network then you will loose remote access to OWA, Outlook over HTTP and ExchangeActiveSync.

3. If you choose to migrate everyone from the Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007 then you will need to deal with all the nuances of configuring the Exchange 2007 servers OWA, Outlook over HTTP, and ExchangeActiveSync manually.  You will need to configure the SSL certificates required yourself too.

4. Whilst it’s not 100% clear, I’ve not seen a document from Microsoft saying that they will actually support this configuration.  Personally – I would not want to go out there as a test case for it either.

Guys – is it really worth it?  Is Exchange 2007 worth that much to your client that they will go and risk all of the above?  I’m not bagging the SBS Blog for publishing the article, but I’m trying to highlight the BUSINESS decision that needs to be made before you head out implementing a TECHNICAL solution.  So many IT consultants think that the latest and greatest is the way to go all the time without considering the business assessment of this.  Make sure you do that before diving into the deep end.  You might find your plastic floaties have holes in them and then your on your own with sharks circling around you.  Not my cup of tea!


Category: Rants

Published: 15/01/2008 10:07 AM

Interesting W2003 SP2 Side Effect

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I was onsite earlier this week helping out a friend with his SBS 2003 installation.  He had done the install himself and all things looked pretty much ok.  He had applied W2003 Service Pack 2 as well.  I showed him how to setup computers and all worked well – he added the computers to the domain and proceeded to use the server for a week or so without problems.  His server is a 2 NIC installation and he was running SBS 2003 R2 standard ie – without ISA 2004.  I visited site to help do the ISA install and make sure things worked fine.  ISA went in just fine and we could then surf the web without problems.  One interesting thing though was that SBS Companyweb would not display.  It worked fine before installing ISA on the server but would not work at all on the workstations.  The natural thing to point the finger at was therefore ISA – I mean it was the only thing that had changed recently.

Accessing http://companyweb came back with a DNS error.  I attempted to do some diagnosis of this problem and found I could ping the server by name just fine, but companyweb would not resolve to an IP at all.  I checked DNS to confirm that it had the normal CNAME record for companyweb pointing to the SBS servers name and it was there just as it’s supposed to be.  Ok – so I wondered why won’t this resolve?

I thought I would try another approach.  I added an A record called WRSTEST and pointed it to the SBS severs IP – this worked fine and I could ping the WRSTEST without issues.  I then created WRSTEST1 as a CNAME record and tried to ping again.  It didn’t work – it would not resolve the CNAME record, but it would resolve an A record.  Something real strange here I thought and then it hit me… Strange things on a W2003 server with Service Pack 2 on it are ALMOST ALWAYS caused by RSS/TCPA/TCPChimney being turned on.

I had not checked this on his server as it was something that I do by default these days when I install a server and didn’t think to check it earlier given that it was working fine.  So I ran the reg hacks to disable these bits on the TCPIP stack, rebooted and things worked just fine again.

So – I fixed the problem, and in the course of investigating it realised that this issue can affect much more than simple communications.


Category: Troubleshooting

Published: 11/01/2008 1:14 PM

Vodafone – 5GB Data Bundles – Misinformation abounds

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In December, Vodafone announced a 5GB Data bundle for $39.  This included a 24 month contract and a free data card.  As we were a reseller, I was aware that these were coming and we had discussions with Vodafone about this back in October and were advised that we would be able to attach these data plans to our existing mobile phones which were part of a Business Cap plan.  That is a very significant advantage indeed we thought as I currently pay $29 per month for 100MB on my mobile phone and $99 per month for a separate 1GB Data card on my laptop.  Our customers are needing solutions like this all the time.

So – in December when the plans became available, I decided to take up the 5GB plans.  I completed the forms listing my existing mobile phone numbers and SIM card numbers that I wanted to have the 5GB data plan attached to and submitted them to Vodafone via my reseller account.  I wanted 3 x 5GB data plans all up.  The idea is that I would have 2 phones with the 5GB data plan on them which I would attach to our laptops as needed via USB cable.  Separately I would replace my existing 3G / 1GB per month data card with a new Vodafone Data Card with a 5GB limit (given you can’t be on the phone and the Internet at the same time).  Now due to stock shortages and the Christmas break we have not received the equipment and therefore can’t use the service.

Today the phone bill comes in and they have setup 3 NEW numbers on 3 NEW Sim cards.  WHAT?  So a phone call to Vodafone has revealed that despite what we have been told by the Vodafone Rep, you can’t actually have the 5GB data plans attached to a phone that is also on the Business Cap Plan.  Strange really given that all the things CAME ON THE ONE BILL TODAY!  Furthermore Vodafone are now saying that despite us completing the forms correctly complete with the phone numbers and sim cards we wanted the 5GB plans on that if we wish to cancel the plans we will be subject to early cancellation fees.

Vodafone – I’m sorely disappointed.  I feel as if I’ve been had.  If you could not do what we wanted then I would have expected a call to discuss it rather than proceeding to process the order without even a phone call.  I will fight on and get this resolved.

Have you been subject to screw ups like this?  False advice from a Vodafone rep that has led you into a contract you can’t get out of – if so please let me know.  I and my business partners are planning a meeting with Vodafone in the next week to see if we can make progress on these issues.


Category: Rants

Published: 4/01/2008 2:05 PM