Useful iPad apps

Sure, I’m a Microsoft MVP, but even MVPs have to trudge across the other side of the technology field once in a while. Recently someone from our local Tampa Bay SBS user group asked which business related apps people were using on their iPad. In no particular order, some of the answers I received included:

The first five are remote access tools. What’s on YOUR iPad?

WHS and Failing Disks

Customer calls complaining about a clicking noise on his HP Data Vault X510 WHS server. I’m guessing it’s either a bad disk or the fan. I bring the server back to the shop … and sure enough, it’s one of the disks that’s making the noise. But, how do I determine which disk???

A quick search of the Internet and the WHS Home Servert SMART add-in comes to the rescue! I installed the latest version ( and voila! it quickly identified the disk in question. This will be an add-in I will be installing on all my WHS servers!

WHS Console won’t run

I was working on a custom built Windows Home Server (not an HP or Acer) from a customer site that was not letting me log in or access it remotely. Once I got it set up on my workbench, I powered it up and logged in. When I went to start up the WHS console, the console displayed for the briefest of moments, and then it closed down. Checking the event log, I found an Event ID 5000 .Net Runtime 2.0 error. My first attempt tosearch for a solution indicated that a specific file might be missing. However, the file was on this server.

I then found this post that suggested the error might be caused by the date/time clock being off. Sure enough, the clock on the WHS box was set to Pacific TZ. I reset the timezone, reset the time, and voila, the WHS console started right up!

Microsoft Security Essentials Exclusion List

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) Anti-virus program has received a lot of good press since it was released in Sept 2009. I have been gradually moving my residential customers, friends and family over to it. One small problem I have noticed: at times the MSE engine will hog up quite a bit of cpu cycles. I recently found a blog post that said that adding the MSE folders to the list of files/folders in MSE to be excluded from scannng will help reduce the high CPU usage.

To add exclusions, click on Settings > Excluded files & locations, then click the Add button to add an entry.

For Windows XP, add the following exclusion:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Security Essentials

For Vista/Windows 7, add the following exclusions:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Security Essentials
C:\Program Data\Microsoft\Microsoft Security Essentials
C:\Program Data\Microsoft\Microsoft Antimalware

Hope this helps. Let me know if there are other folders/directories that should be excluded

iPhone 4.0 and Exchange

iPhone users: from Network World this morning is an article addressing reported syncing issues to Exchange with the new Apple IOS 4.0 for the iPhones. The article points to a current workaround that is posted on Apple’s site, and indicates a more “complete” solution is required or forthcoming.

The article goes on as to suggest that there is a further issue that is causing high network/usage spikes, and that this may force some companies to stop allowing iphones to retrieve emails!

Update: the Microsoft Exchange Team has addressed this issue from their perspective at their Team Blog Site.

Windows Home Server (V2) VAIL

I have been a huge fan of Windows Home Server (WHS) ever since it was announced back in January 2007. This past April (2010) Microsoft released a public beta version of the next version of the Windows Home Server product, code name VAIL. The big change (behind the scenes) is that VAIL operates in a 64-bit environment, and is based on the Windows 2008 R2 platform. For a more in depth list of features with VAIL, check out this post:

There are several hardware vendors (e.g. HP, Acer) that sell headless WHS systems (HP DataVault X310/X510, Acer Aspire EasyStore H340) . I have had great success in deploying these products, not in homes, but in businesses! As to VAIL, I recently did a headless, automatic install of VAIL to an ACER Easystore H340 that I had on hand. Thanks to Kevin Royalty who helped me with the “answer file“.

Finally, be sure to check out the WHS Team Blog for up to date info on Windows Home Server VAIL.

WordPress 3.0

WordPress released version 3.0 earlier this month, and I’m just now starting to test it and check out its features.

I do not consider myself an expert web designer. However, I have create wed sites for customers over the last ten years. And I have always relied on Web site development tools. Early on, it was a product called Trellix, a software product developed by Dan Bricklin, the inventor of Visicalc. Later, Trellix was sold to Globalscape and renamed Cute SiteBuilder. I was heavily involved in providing technical support for this product (see, Several years later, Globalscape decided to discontinue the product, but I continued to use it for existing sites.

Over a year ago, I decided to check out other web development solutions, both free and $$$ versions. I tried Joomla for awhile, but never quite got the hang of it. I eventually settled on WordPress, and overall, have been very happy with it, even though several of my MVP peers do not recommend Wordpress because of the ease of code developersa to write PHP insecure copde. But that’s for another post!

Meanwhile, if you are interested, check out the WordPress 3.0 blog post, which includes a video of the new features.


Free Photoeasy-Lite?

This is from the “Wow, this is free?” department. Have you ever needed to edit an image with Photoshop, but you were on a computer without Photoshop? Your wait is over, as there’s a solution for you. It’s called Pixlr Editor. Not only is it free, it’s web based, so there’s no software to install. The toolbar is nearly identical to Photoshop.

And, if that’s not enough, if you only need to do basic photo editing, they also have Pixlr Express. Can you say “Photoshop Lite-Lite?”. Give it a try!

Oh by the way, it does require Flash 10, so if you are on an iPad, I guess you are out of luck.

Cleaning up Malware

When cleaning up crapware from a workstation, my two primary “go to” solutions are Microsoft Security Essentials and MalwareBytes. I will run these both logged in as the user, as will run quick scans initially. If it finds enough things, I will then reboot into Safe Mode, login as the administrator, and run full scans until nothing is found.

Today, I had a computer that Malwarebytes and MSE both identified and cleaned up issues on. However, soemthing just didn’t seem right, and the computer was still acting — can I say — wierd? I decided to download SuperAntiSPyware, as  I know plenty of people rely on it. Guess what? It found another 146 issues on this computer!

Yes, I know some of you will tell me to flatten this computer and reload Windows from scratch. And I may do so. Right now, I’m  interested in trying to learn what things each of these solutions will find or not find.