Category Archives: 5280

Microsoft IT Environment Health Scanner released.

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Have you ever had suspicions that your Active Directory environment was not right? Well Microsoft have taken today released another tool that can be used to scan your environment and help diagnose the issues you might have.  It’s called the IT Environment Health Scanner and comes from the Essential Business Server team who originally designed it to ensure that EBS could easily install into an existing network.  I’ve been using it as part of my pre-flight check on my SBS 2008 migrations and it’s great at finding out things that you don’t know.

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Go download it now from here http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=dd7a00df-1a5b-4fb6-a8a6-657a7968bd11&displaylang=en

For more detailed info on the tool http://blogs.technet.com/essentialbusinessserver/archive/2009/06/29/microsoft-it-health-scanner-released.aspx

Category: Software I use
Published: 8/07/2009 4:28 AM

Free security software from Scorpion Software

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image Yes – you heard right, CEO of Scorpion Software, Dana Epp has released a free security tool to help address one of the often raised security concerns about the Remote Web Workplace in Small Business Server 2003.  By default SBS 2003 allows all users (including administrators) to remotely access their desktops inside the network.  This is via the Remote Web Workplace portal and requires the users username and password.  Administrators can also access your server via the same page.  Dana has for some time had a product called AuthAnvil which gives you two factor authentication for your SBS servers RWW page and this helps secure things a lot as it requires you to have a token combined with your password to access the inside of your network.  AuthAnvil is a great product and I use it to secure the assets of SBSfaq.com (and yes – people have tried to hack it without success). If you implemented AuthAnvil for your users then you would have no concern about people trying to attack your RWW as it would be impossible for them to access your server without the users password AND their token.

However, the reality is that SMB resellers and customers are a cheap bunch.  They don’t value or respect security because "it’s never happened to them".  They’ve typically never had a network breach and therefore they can’t quantify and justify the value that a solution like AuthAnvil presents to them.  Therein lies the problem.  Installing AuthAnvil AFTER a network attack is shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.  Great response, but too late.

Scorpion Software are very community minded and Dana brings his considerable security experience to bear in this respect with the products that they create.  Dana has heard and recognises that an RWW without AuthAnvil is a potential security risk.  Administrator accounts can easily access the server once the password is guessed.  In response to that risk, Dana has create the RWWProtect tool.  This free tool is available to anyone from their site and will allow you to restrict the RWW to just Normal Users in your network.  It will prevent administrator users from accessing at all.  For me, RWWProtect is not needed, as I have the two factor authentication in place.

Check out their site (http://www.authanvil.com/rwwprotect/) and while you are there, check out the other cool products they have.  Security should not be an after thought, it should be designed in from the beginning.

Category: Software I use
Published: 24/05/2008 5:07 PM

How to make friends and influence people on Twitter

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I’m still not sure about twitter as a business tool.  For the moment, I’m seeing it more as a live discussion tool that I liken to overhearing conversations at a party, you hear scraps of it from the people next to you, but you don’t hear the full conversation unless your following all the people in that conversation.  Mack Collier has just blogged an article about some of the tools you can use to find and link up with people on twitter that might be part of a conversation you want to have with others.  Check out his article here on Search Engine Guide

Category: Software I use
Published: 8/05/2008 7:05 AM

Twitter – useful or useless?

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Ok – so I’ve heard of twitter, and to be honest, did not get it. I mean what’s wrong with email and IM as a means for communication?  Then in the lead up to the MVP summit in Seattle a few weeks back, someone suggested we use twitter as a way to meet up with who was going where/when etc.  Still – I did not get it.  Email can do that right?  Following the MVP summit, I went to the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Houston, where I met a heap of new people. Social media was a big thing of discussion and in particular how you could use it to further your business interests. During the conference I noticed a number of people on twitter talking about things to people in other rooms.  Hmm – I must check this out, so I did.  What I found was that the discussions going on were adding immense value to the presentation being held both in this room and the one next door. Sure some people on twitter use it to tell people that they are heading out for a bio break and such (stuff we don’t really need to know), but others use it to communicate some really useful information too – such as the time and meeting place for dinner tonight 😉

Is twitter useful to me outside of this environment?  To be honest, I’m not sure as yet.  I plan to give it a go for the next month and see what happens.

I found a series of articles though that you may find useful.  Jennifer Laycock has written them based on her experience, and whilst I was tempted to do the same, I thought I’d save the electrons and link to them here.

http://www.searchengineguide.com/jennifer-laycock/part-one-from-twits-to-tweeple-why-i-emb.php

http://www.searchengineguide.com/jennifer-laycock/part-two-from-twits-to-tweeple-why-i-emb.php

http://www.searchengineguide.com/jennifer-laycock/part-three-from-twits-to-tweeple-why-i-e.php

And one last one from Matt Bailey – he was a speaker @ the event too

http://www.sitelogicmarketing.com/blog/04-soundbite-twitterbyte

 

So – my advice, get on to twitter and give it a shot.  Find out if it makes sense for YOU with your own requirements.  It  may and it may not – but only YOU will know for sure.

Oh – and don’t be an ostrich with your head in the sand either or else someone will register a fake twitter account and tweet on your behalf like Vlad did with Susan 🙂  All good fun in this case, but it could be worse.

Category: Software I use
Published: 27/04/2008 7:44 AM

Firewall Dashboard being retired

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clip_image001Dana has had to make the hard decision to discontinue his excellent Firewall Dashboard product that he designed for the SMB market space – specifically SBS 2003 Premium.  His announcement here is to me a major example of the SMB community NOT supporting a vendor who has directly invested into our community.  You the SMB community are using his product for free and not actually paying for it.  You’re using it with the watermark and NOT PAYING FOR IT.  Heck – the product is cheap as chips and provides excellent value for monitoring your ISA installations.  We have clients that review this report daily and ask us to investigate anything strange.  How do they know what looks strange – easy – they look at the graph and then tell us "this peak is strange check it out…"  Here’s an example of what you will be missing as of the end of the month…

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So what did Dana do wrong?  He thought that putting an "expired product now in trial mode" as a watermark on the graphics would be sufficient to deter people.  However he underestimated the cheapskates out there in the SMB community that don’t care about the watermark and will continue to use it EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE NOT PAID FOR IT.

So the next time a vendor makes a great product like this go out and buy it.  Don’t continue to use it in "trial mode" if it’s giving you value.  Don’t complain that vendors don’t build product for the SMB space either.  They do and we continue to screw it up by not supporting them.

Category: Software I use
Published: 13/03/2008 7:47 AM

What is Xobni?

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Image-0002I’ve been searching for a tool to prove that the illustrious Susan Bradley does indeed sleep.  Finally I found it! I’ve been using Xobni now for about a month and I’m at the point where I can’t live without it!!!  What is it I hear you ask – well – it’s a cool tool for Outlook that will index your mailbox in a totally different way.  Not only will it give you lightning fast search on your inbox, but it displays conversation threads in the way that they were intended to be viewed.

It also gives you an idea of when people send you emails via a cool timeline graph.  This means that if you send them an email at their peak times, they are most likely to respond quickly vs sending the email during their sleeping hours.

You can see here that Susan actually sleeps (some times between the hours of 6pm and midnight (Sydney time).  You can also see that Susan ranks #4 in my email list having received over 10075 emails from her.

You can see the people connected to Susan which is handy if you recall that you had Susan introduce you to someone and you can’t quite remember their name!

Finally and the coolest bit is that it allows you to see files that you have exchanged with a person – saving you the hassle of opening up all those emails just to find a single attachment.

How can you get Xobni?  At this point it’s a closed beta – you have to know someone in the beta to get in on it.  When you get in on the beta, you have 5 invites you can hand out to people.

I have 5 invites to hand out to people now.  Post a comment on the blog with the best reason as to why you think you need Xobni and I’ll shoot you an invite out.

Category: Software I use
Published: 20/02/2008 11:26 AM

File Sync problems? Try Sync Toy

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I’ve used this tool a few times now and find that many people do not even know of it’s existence.  Sync Toy is a cool tool from Microsoft that will allow you to do all kinds of file based synchronisation.  From full bidirectional sync of removable drives to fixed drives, to one way sync only and many variations in between. 

Download it here

Download the whitepaper here

Category: Software I use
Published: 18/02/2008 10:53 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

HP Product Bulletin and ConfigureAider

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Amongst the software that I use are two little gems from HP.  HP.com

HP Product Bulletin

This is basically a full guide to the HP Product line, both present and past.  It contains all kinds of useful information including tech specs, memory option part numbers and the like.  Really handy for when you need to check certain configurations are valid and the like.  You can download it from here http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/productBulletin.html

HP ConfigureAider

The second cool tool that I use is the HP ConfigureAider.  This tool is for current systems only and is a wizard based tool that you can use to configure HP Servers from start to finish.  As you walk through the wizard, it will allow you to adjust the configuration of your server and finishes with a complete parts list and RRP for your server.  It makes life a whole lot easier when your constantly building various configurations of servers all the time.  The ConfigureAider is available in both an online and offline version.  You can download it from here http://h20427.www2.hp.com/products/configureaider/au/en/

Category: Software I use
Published: 1/12/2007 3:59 PM