Category Archives: 5641

Frank McCallister – Rest In Peace


FrankMcCallister Via Facebook this morning, I received an email from someone I did not know…

"Frank had a massive heart attack last Wednesday and passed away this morning at 1:50."

My first thought was “who is this person sending me an email about someone called Frank…” I checked their friends and it showed one person. Frank McCallister. No – I thought it can’t be so. I checked with the other SBS MVPs and found that yes – sadly it was.  Frank McCallister passed away last night after a heart attack earlier in the week.

For those that knew him, they knew a kind, gentle soul that would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. They knew a man who had many many stories to share and always got a laugh or two. They knew a man who would always pull a group into line if they got a bit to far one way or the other.  They knew a man who was always respectful of everyone he met.

Frank shared once with me some of his experiences as a test fighter pilot. I figure he must have been a damn good pilot to have live such a long life. Frank contributed to the community via a number of SBS focused newsgroups and mailing lists and helped thousands of people in his time. He seldom asked for help in return.

Frank – you will be missed. May you rest in peace.

Category: People I meet
Published: 28/02/2009 9:46 AM

Funky Advertising – PCGuru


Last night @ the Perth SMB IT Professionals Group meeting, I met the orange shirt brigade, also known locally as PCGuru 🙂  These guys are a small SMB focused group that stand out from the crowd if for nothing more than their bright orange shirts.  Their Managing Director – Jason Jordan told me about their funky cars they use to drive around in – check out the pictures below.


Jason also gave me some thoughts on the local market too.  PCGURU focuses on the 5 to 50 seat market and has recently made the transition to decide NOT to service the domestic/residential market after reviewing their business from top to bottom.  They use best of breed products including SBS 2003 and Trends Antivirus product to protect their clients (welcome to the family guys).  The team at PCGURU is now 20 strong and growing well, with the only limitation being finding SBSC’s with personality – I can relate to that problem well!

Well done Jason on creating an image that is hard to miss and hopefully puts some fun into dealing with difficult IT Issues.

Have you got an interesting advertising approach for your SMB focused business?  If so let me know – I’m keen to get this information out to the rest of the world 🙂

Category: People I meet
Published: 18/06/2008 8:33 AM

Be afraid…very afraid… Sandi gets a real job :-)


Sandi Hardmeier is a respected MVP and a good friend of mine.  She’s been fighting against all kinds of malware in her after hours for the past umpteen years now and has single handedly prevented some potentially major infections (say like 220 million users of MSN Instant Messenger that were at risk). Up until now though, Sandi’s day job has NOT been involved in IT as a primary role.  She’s been in the legal field for 20 or more years and has been taking on the bad guys online in her spare time.  The bad guys however should be scared.  Very scared.  Sandi has left the legal field and now works with TRUSTe.

TRUSTe is an organisation thats primary purpose is to ensure that online privacy and protection of confidential data is maintained.  Now that Sandi’s there, she will have not only her own considerable resources, but those of TRUSTe.

Bad guys – you’ve been warned.  I’d get out of flamethrower range if I were you, this gal has a reputation for toasting servers and in fact entire ISP’s. And I am NOT joking!

Check out the press release here

Oh – Congratulations Sandi 🙂

Category: People I meet
Published: 14/06/2008 11:18 AM

New Small Business Specialist Partner (SBSC) Area Lead (PAL) for Australia – Hilton Travis


Now I really don’t think Microsoft know what they are in for with this announcement.  Late last night, Robbie Upcroft – the Microsoft Australia dude covering the SBSC program and the SBS/EBS product range, made the following announcement to the local SBSC yahoogroup.  I’ve known Hilton for some years now and he’s pretty much a nice guy.  Sure there are times when I wish he would just shut up, but I believe that all in all, his heart is in the right place.  Hilton is replacing Dean Calvert here in Australia as the SBSC PAL, and to be honest, I think he will do a stellar job at it (no offense to Dean).  The problem is though, that I don’t think Microsoft know what they are doing by appointing Hilton.  They do not know the true tireless bombardment they are about to go under as he does not care what gets in his way when he tries to promote the cause of the SBSC.  One of them will break – either Hilton will realise that Microsoft can’t move that fast to change and stop, or Microsoft will ultimately give in and change to our way of thinking faster.  I certainly hope it is the latter.  The SBSC program is nothing more than a badge right now.  A badge that anyone can get if they bother to try.  It needs to be far more than that.  It needs to be recognised by the business owner and held in the same level of respect as the CPA program for Chartered Accountants.  It needs to become a house hold name for it to have any real value to the SMB community.

Hilton – I wish you all the best mate.  You are going to need it.  If you need something then let us know.  Your time starts…!


Hi folks,

Just a quick heads-up that we have appointed a new Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL) for Australia. The wider announcement will be made in the upcoming newsletter & blog however given the passionate nature of this forum, we wanted to let you know first.

Commencing July 1st & lasting for 12 months, Hilton Travis of Quark IT in Brisbane will follow Dean Calvert’s tenure as our nominated PAL. I’d like to take this time to wholeheartedly thank Dean for his drive & efforts in working on the first instalment of the PAL program & at the same time, welcome Hilton to the role. An active member of the Brisbane SBS Users group & vocal contributor to the global SBS forums, Hilton was selected for his passion, knowledge of Microsoft SMB solutions & blistering honesty when it comes to providing feedback.

I understand that some of you may not have heard of the SBSC PAL program before & so an overview is located here: In summary though, it is:

· A Microsoft Corporate program designed to foster better relationships between SBSCs & the wider Microsoft SMB / Partner teams

· A way for SBSCs to channel feedback through to Microsoft, and for us in turn to hear a rolled-up summary of issues

· A 12 month appointment with the PAL being nominated by Microsoft.

Although Hilton will undoubtedly respond to this post & let you know how to get in contact with him in his own inimitable way, I would expect him to be a rather passionate, vocal representative of the community on all things SBSC – the good, the bad & the ugly. Amongst other things he will be involved in quarterly conference calls, meet the local Microsoft partner executive team & participate in feedback sessions with the MS Corp owners of the SBSC program at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston in July.

As per the recent series of SBSC roundtables & increased focus on activities (such as the “We’ve got a guy” campaign & better newsletter coverage), we’re looking to ramp-up our efforts in this space & the appointment of a new PAL is just one in a long line of shake-ups coming to the Australian version.

A quick background on Hilton in his words is below.

Thanks & please let me know if you have any questions,

Robbie Upcroft | Product Manager – SMB Servers | Microsoft Australia




Name: Hilton Travis

Company: Quark IT (Quark Group Pty Ltd)

Location: Brisbane, Sunny Queensland

Years in business: 19

Describe your business in 25 words or less:                         

Quark IT: Specializing in the SMB market, providing networking and general technology support to allow our clients to better run the business side their business.

Quark Group: Automation, Audio Visual and IT integrator specializing in commercial and high end residential projects helping to integrate technology so it is unobtrusive yet functional.

What are you passionate about in business?:                    

Being at the leading edge of the current “integration” technology allowing us to be able to  make people’s lives easier by the careful selection and implementation of technology in their homes and workplaces.  Also, being able to design this so that we can be as environmentally and socially responsible as possible without reducing the functionality and effectiveness of the solutions to our clients’ requirements.

How long have you been in IT?: 26 long years

How long have you been working with Microsoft products?:

Since the days of MS DOS being supplied on 360 KB floppy diskettes.  Around 1984, if my failing memory serves me correctly.  I do have a copy of Microsoft OS/2 Version 1.21 on 5.25” disks somewhere.

If Microsoft could do one thing to help your business thrive, what would it be?:

Look back at the good old days when they were good at releasing killer desktop OSes and great Office applications – and start running the business once again like that.  If Microsoft could focus on its strengths instead of trying to borg the entire IT world, they could once again release great products that would really help our clients run their businesses better.

What’s the best thing about the SBSC program?:

At this point, aahhh, well…  Its potential.  (See, I *can* be politically correct!)

What’s the worst thing?:

Nobody knows what it is.  None of our clients.  No-one outside an SBSC.  It is the program you have when you don’t have a program!  That is, however, starting to change a little and I want to encourage that change.

What are you looking forward to most over the next 12 months as the new Aussie SBSC PAL?:

Firstly, working out what a PAL actually does, and then doing it!

I’m hoping to be able to encourage Microsoft to promote the SBSC program in Australia to the point where it is recognized by people outside the SBSC members.  This will involve input not only from Microsoft, but from the SBSCs ourselves.  Yet another paper certification is something we don’t need and we definitely shouldn’t want – having this certification actually mean something in the industry and to our clients is what I’d like to see happen by June 2009.

I’d like to be able to let Microsoft know, in my own silky smooth way, what I see wrong with the way they are going in areas that actually matter.  I’d really, really like to be able to help sort out their Licensing when it comes to the SMB marketplace and I’d like to try and understand why we’re so poorly treated when it comes to the pricing of Microsoft software and programs in Australia.

Category: People I meet
Published: 19/05/2008 5:18 AM

Will she ever get paid for the hard work she does?


I have a good friend of mine – Sandi Hardmeier who has spent many a day fighting some of the worst spyware out there in the wild.  A lot of her work goes unrecognised, and at times when it is recognised, it’s done without clearing naming "the MVP from Australia" who has yet again saved many a person from infection.  More often than not, she gets no recognition at all as the sites infected do not wish to even acknowledge that they had a problem.

Many times, Sandi via her blog will alert the world to some pending threat – the most recent here in Australia was within the last few weeks when the Ad network supply ads to the Sensis group of sites, including,, and  Sandi was the first in the world to detect it, and once she had confirmed it set about notifying Sensis so that they could remove the offending adverts.  Ok – so Sandi saved the world again, what did Sensis do to repay her – Nothing, Nada, Zip.  Sure – they mentioned her in a thank you email but what does that do to pay the bills?  Think of the damage that would have happened had this gone unnoticed.  How many hapless individuals would have had their computers infected simply by visiting a "safe site". 

The long and the short of it is that she does this without requesting payment at all.  She has saved many VERY large companies from embarrassment, including earlier this year when the ad network that feeds Microsoft’s own Instant Messenger product became infected.  Again – for no payment.

What do I want from you, you might ask – nothing for personally at all.  But here is a community warrior that is fighting the good fight and not getting paid for it at all.  So – what I would ask, is that if you feel so inclined to go and put a few dollars into Sandi’s PayPal account  And to the corporations that she has saved, open your cheque books and offer her something decent.  Give the woman a true thank you not just some token mention in an email.  Heck you probably don’t even realise that during the day, she’s not even employed for an IT company, but instead works for a legal firm supporting their IT Infrastructure.  If you’re one of those big corporations, you might even want to offer her a job helping to protect your interests!  She is obviously very skilled at detecting and understanding these things.

I can tell you one thing though, people can only keep on fighting the good fight whilst they don’t need to think about how to pay the bills.  Once they need to think more about money than the job they like doing, the stop to do it.  Think about that for just a little while.

Category: People I meet
Published: 26/11/2007 6:07 PM

Grey has left the building…


I don’t know if it’s a good day or not. I’ve just been told that long time SBS MVP, Grey Lancaster, the man who I believe is the community grandpa of SBS, has left the SBS MVP family. No – he’s not passed away or anything, in fact he’s quite healthy and has the massive ear to ear grin of a Cheshire cat. Grey has been announced as the first Windows Home Server MVP. Grey was the guy who started what is now the SBS2k Yahoolist which has been a hub of the community around SBS for many many years. I’ve been on that list since 1999 and Greys influence on the community is unmistakeable. He’s a patient, tolerant and very generous man who talks slow but thinks real fast. His quick wit is often under estimated and it’s a real pleasure to know him. I know that whilst he moves into being a WHS MVP, that you never really leave the SBS family. He’s a real asset to the Windows Home Server community and will I know do well. Congratulations mate – you’re a star!

Grey’s Profile

Category: People I meet
Published: 29/09/2007 9:06 AM