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Category: 559 (page 4 of 5)

Passphrases

Ok, so everyone knows that we should be using passphrases instead of passwords, right?


And everyone knows who Jesper Johansson is, right?


Good.  Well, the good Dr. J has posted part 2 in his 3 part series about pass phrases vs. passwords.


The Great Debates: Pass Phrases vs. Passwords. Part 2 of 3:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/secnews/articles/itproviewpoint100504.mspx

The Great Debates: Pass Phrases vs. Passwords. Part 1 of 3:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/secnews/articles/itproviewpoint091004.mspx

Handy little tip . . .

If I remember correctly, I got this one from Jeff Middleton a while back . . .


It’s happened to all of us at one point or another.  We need to TS into one of our servers to do a simple little configuration change for a client.  However, when we try to connect we get that dreaded message that we can’t connect because the maximum number of connections has been exceeded.  You know there must be a stray TS session hanging out there – but how do you get by this without having someone log in locally?


Assuming you have VPN access into the LAN, you’ll be fine.  The first thing you need is a copy of tsadmin.exe on your PC.  You can get this by copying it down from any Windows 2000 / 2003 server (it’s in the \Windows\System32 directory), or you can extract it from Windows 2000 SP4 if you have that handy as well.  Once you have tsadmin.exe on your PC, simply run it.  VPN into the destination LAN, then run tsadmin.exe.  Under the Actions heading, click ‘Connect to Computer’ and enter the netbios name of the remote server you’re locked out of.  Voila!  You’re controlling the TS sessions on the remote server, so you can kill off those old idle sessions so you can TS in.  Very cool – very slick.


Of course, you could also go a different route and use something like TightVNC – but that requires it to be installed on the server beforehand.  If it isn’t installed, it’s not going to help much when you find yourself in this position . . . :^)

It’s a small world, after all . . .

But then again, that’s not exactly a news flash to most SBSers – we know just how small the world is.


Case in point:  Almost 2 weeks ago, Paul posted feedback to my blog asking what fax modem we used with SBS.  (Hi Paul!)  He indicated that he was from Brisbane, Australia – so besides sending him a link on the modem, I also asked if he was familiar with the Brisbane SBS User Group, and cc’d Stuart Applegate who heads up that group (Hi Stuart – and I hope your voice has recovered :^)


So I’m sitting here catching up on the newsgroups, and Stuart cc’s me on an email sent out to the Brisbane User Group introducing a new member – Paul.


Maybe I’m just weird – but how cool is it that as a result of posting feedback to a blog owned by someone literally on the other side of the world, Paul ended up finding a local user group when he wasn’t even looking for one??   I’m sorry – but THAT’S cool.


Just another example of how the SBS community ROCKS!  The best way we can help ourselves is by helping each other.  When we communicate and share, we all win in the end – especially the growing number of users who depend on SBS day in and day out. 

OT: Interesting document that hit the download site today . . .

Wireless Provisioning Services (WPS) technology is a technology for a future release of Microsoft® Windows Server™ 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP1). This paper describes a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) network that allows you to provide pay-per-use, monthly service, and long-term Internet access to new and existing customers through wireless access points deployed in public areas, such as airports and shopping malls. With WPS technology, new and existing customers can connect to your Wi-Fi network without manual configuration of the computer or network connection. This document describes the components of WPS technology, how WPS technology works, and provides deployment scenarios using a future release of Windows Server 2003 with SP1.


Download details: Introduction to Deploying Wireless Provisioning Services (WPS) Technology:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=9adf7496-0d50-4138-848e-9bc810b83c01&displaylang=en


Not exactly something you’d normally do with SBS – but I thought it was interesting nonetheless . . .

Poor Man’s CRM – Update

No, I don’t have the InfoPath demo ready yet – but it’s getting close.


HOWEVER – I just thought I’d share my latest accomplishment.  While it may not be a big deal to the more advanced Sharepoint users, I was quite proud of myself:  I just successfully moved the InfoPath demo site as it currently exists from the public server where it lives to my SBS here at home, and had it replace the default companyweb site in SBS 2003.  The really cool part about this is not that it was simple & painless, but that it brought absolutely everything with it – including data AND the InfoPath forms.  So what does this mean?  This means that as soon as this demo is ready – I can provide the entire site as a download (complete with the InfoPath forms but minus the sample data) and instructions on how to replace your existing companyweb with the InfoPath demo site.  So if you like what you see, you don’t have to recreate it – just download & install it!  Now how’s that for service?   :^)

Poor Man’s CRM

Ok, last week I posted in about using Sharepoint as a management solution, and since there was some interest I spent the last few days getting things set up in a public Sharepoint site.  The initial site is online and can be accessed via:


http://wss.gosbs.org
u:  wssdemo
p:  wssrocks!


A few notes – the site as it exists right now is extremely basic customizations, using nothing but the built-in Sharepoint lists and workspaces.  This is meant to demonstrate what kind of things you can do very quickly with Sharepoint.  As for more long-term solutions, I’m working on another site that will provide extensive use of InfoPath and other Sharepoint features such as Web Part Pages to better streamline the solution.  It’s fun to note that this example is the very tip of the iceberg – there is so much that is possible.  As I’ve been diving into Sharepoint in the last month, I’m quickly discovering that there is so much more to it, and so much more flexibility and options than I ever thought imaginable.  Now if I could just devote the time to really learn it . . .


I’ll point out that there isn’t hardly any documentation on the site yet as to how things were done.  If you have a question – post it to the Discussion List on the site, and I’ll answer it as soon as possible!

Are you a small IT provider looking for management software solution?

If so, you do realize that you have a very flexible, capable solution most likely sitting there idle on your SBS2k3 network?  It’s called Windows SharePoint Services . . .  Seriously.


I’m not just rambling here – we’re using Sharepoint internally to manage our service calls, projects and customer data – and it’s proving to be a perfect solution for us right now for several reasons:  1)  you can’t beat the price!  :^)    2)  It is very easily customized and adapted to our specific needs.  3)  Since it is based on SQL server, we know that we will have access to our data if/when we grow out of it.  It’s a great stepping stone for when Outlook just isn’t enough anymore, but you’re not ready to invest in a complete management software package.


OK you say – but just how do you do this?  Well, there’s no set formula, but I’ll share some tidbits with what we’re doing:


1)  Added additional fields to the built-in Help Desk list so that we can use it for scheduling service calls.  We added fields for Customer, checkboxes for home user / high-speed internet, service call date / time, end date / time, time on site, service call notes, mileage and a checkbox for billed.


2)  Created new views for the Help Desk including a calendar view based on both the Service Call date/time & End date/time.  This way when viewing as a single day, you get your Outlook-like functionality where the time slot is blocked off.  Another view we created is ‘My Active Tasks’ – this will display all calls for the current user that are not marked completed.  I use this to see what calls I need to finish my notes for and complete so they can be billed.  Yet another view we created is ‘Ready to Bill’ – which shows the calls that are marked completed but not marked as billed.  This is great for Amy, as she can see what calls need invoiced without having to dig.


3)  I created a Document Workspace (not document library), and customized it for customer data.  I added Web parts for Tasks, Contacts & Links to the main page, then created several different document libraries to organize customer files.  (e.g.  ‘Correspondence,’  ‘Proposals & Quotes,’ ‘Service Agreements’ & ‘Technical Documentation’)  I then saved this site as a template.  We have since created a separate Workspace for each customer, using this original template.  The big benefit of this is that we can assign permissions on each Document Library, which allows for techs to access the technical documentation, but not the legal service agreements for example.  On the links webpart on the customer workspace, we enter a variety of links, including links to that customer’s RWW, OWA & Sharepoint sites, links to other tech partners they may work with (LOB software vendors, etc.), links to software they’re using, and a link to a web-based map of their location.  (Saves you from having to look up the address, copy it into MapPoint, etc. . . . two clicks from the main Companyweb page and voila! you’ve got a map to their location . . .  :^)


4)  I created a new links list that includes a link to each customer workspace.  Added this list as a webpart to the main page (showing customers in groups of 15).  Only catch here is that this list isn’t auto-populated.  We have to manually add the link once we’ve set up the customer workspace.    Remember back in #1 where I said we added a customer field to the Help Desk?  That customer field is actually a lookup on this link list . . . so every customer in the link list automatically appears in that drop-down in the Help Desk.  Not only does this speed up entering Service Calls, but it also gives us great sorting capabilities on the Help Desk, and makes it very easy for me to generate Service Call History reports for customers from Access 2003 (or SQL Reporting services) by simply linking to the Help Desk list in Sharepoint.


5)  Forms Libraries!  Infopath rocks!!  Right now, we have a forms library that holds all of our Site Surveys.  I created an Infopath form that allows us to gather all pertinent information from a Site Survey.  The beauty of forms libraries is that you can save your empty Infopath form on your laptop, and then when you’re doing a site survey where you don’t have a good internet connection, you can fill out the form locally, and then upload it when you are able to connect to the office.  Right now, I’m thinking of adding a form library to each customer workspace, and having a separate form for each machine on the network . . . so we have our own little repository of machine data  The final step with this functionality is to generate a script that takes advantage of WMI to inventory a lan automatically and store it in an xml format so that it can be directly uploaded to the form library.  That is assuming XP SP2 doesn’t make running a script like that too difficult . . . :^)


6)  The last major plan for our site is to create a knowledge base.  And considering how simple it was to accomplish everything else that I’ve done so far, I don’t think it will be too difficult.


If any of you guys are interested in this as a solution, post some feedback and I’ll see if I can’t tie up a few loose ends and post a template or two for you to use . . .

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