I’m a huge fan of Microsoft’s integrated server products — Small Business Server and the new kid on the block, Essential Business Server. They provide an incredibly robust and reliable IT core for any organisation — especially because the in-built monitoring and altering lets you know about potential issues that require your attention. And the integrated products in EBS for email security and network-edge security simplify your network’s configuration, and its cost.
If you are considering migrating or upgrading to EBS (and I’d consider it even if you have an existing multi-server infrastructure,) there have been a number of wizards and white papers released recently which may be of interest. They are:
Windows Essential Business Server Preparation and Planning Wizards
The Preparation and Planning Wizards help you prepare your environment and plan for deployment of Windows EBS by scanning your network environment and identifying issues that you need to correct to be able to deploy Windows EBS.
Windows Essential Business Server Preparation and Planning Guide
This document explains how to prepare and plan for a deployment of Windows EBS into your existing networking environment. This document includes information on how to install and run the Windows Essential Business Server Preparation Wizard and the Windows Essential Business Server Planning Wizard, and it provides planning guidance.
Monitoring Windows Essential Business Server
This document provides guidance to help you monitor your Windows Essential Business Server network by using the Windows EBS Administration Console and by using the monitoring capabilities of Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007.
This last one is, to me, the most interesting and important. Servers do need monitoring and care, but those are tasks that are easily ignored in small businesses with perhaps no dedicated IT staff. Having the server do the grunt work for you itself is very useful indeed — and the main reason I would definitely recommend that EBS is considered carefully for any core infrastructure refresh or renewal in a small company.
The Technium: Amish Hackers:
The Amish have the undeserved reputation of being luddites, of people who refuse to employ new technology. It’s well know the strictest of them don’t use electricity, or automobiles, but rather farm with manual tools and ride in a horse and buggy. In any debate about the merits of embracing new technology, the Amish stand out as offering an honorable alternative of refusal. Yet Amish lives are anything but anti-technological. In fact on my several visits with them, I have found them to be ingenious hackers and tinkers, the ultimate makers and do-it-yourselfers and surprisingly pro technology.
(Via Kevin Kelly.)
I’ve always been a fan of Tablet PCs. Mainly because I’m completely and utterly in love with Microsoft OneNote – it’s the killer app for Tablet PCs and for everyone in general who needs to keep their random stuff together on a PC. Goodness knows why it’s not pushed harder than it is.
Anyway. I still look around the tablet PC space from time to time, but have not found anything that’s inspired me recently. This has changed.
The Dell Latitude XT2 looks to have fantastic specs – small (an inch thick!) plus speccing it with a decent amount of memory and a 6‑cell battery comes in at around £1300. There’s an optional 9‑cell battery the slides onto the base but that obviously compromises size and weight.
I’m still not sure I’d want to have a Tablet PC (or a netbook!) as my only machine. But this would be an absolutely brilliant carrying computer, I think.
Postcodes are an essential part of location services in the UK. However, they’re not free – they are owned by the Post Office, who will charge you a hefty sum in order to get access to the database.
Hampering free and innovative location-based services? Likely. Easy to reverse-engineer? You betcha!
The Free the Postcode project intends to build a public domain database of postcodes, in the same way that the Open Street Map project intends to build a free map of all streets in the UK, thus breaking the Ordinance Survey’s hold on that information.
However, if you have an iPhone, Free the Postcode has a free application that uses the phone’s GPS for location, combined with your submission of the postcode. This link will open it in iTunes. There’s also an app for Android phones.
This is an excellent idea and well worth supporting.
Found on TechCrunch UK
If you’re having a problem with a Microsoft product, then the first stop for finding a solution pretty much needs to be the MS Knowledgebase. It’s solved problems for me and for clients times without number. Often however this has involved printing out the article in question in order to follow a series of steps on the computer with the problem.
A new, and very welcome addition to some articles on the Knowledgebase removes the need for this — a “Fix it” button, shown above, has been added. When this button is available, it will download a small file that contains a script or executable that performs all the steps for you. For example, if Internet Explorer is missing from your desktop, the “Fix It” button downloads a small installer file containing a script to put it back.
I can see this going far, and hope it’s a major change in fix delivery. Help Desks in particular should gear up to build local libraries of these scripted fixes, in order to push them out where required. And building the server-specific fixes into System Center Operations Manager for automated behind-the-scenes problem resolution would be a great next step too.
Good news on the User Access Control flaw I wrote about a few days ago — the Windows 7 engineers have promised to fix it in the release candidate, and have gone even further in the fix than was asked.
The additional proposal is to run the User Access Control panel in a mode where other programs cannot manipulate it without first gaining elevated rights. This should put and end to any potential exploit via this route.
Good to see the engineers responding to this. The fact that they had to, however, leads me to wonder if they’re not a little insulated – they talked about “Customer Driven Engineering” in their previous post clarifying their views on the flaw (now changed of course) but surely a little bit of common sense and engineering experience should have told them that this was wrong, regardless of what the behavioural monitoring they performed suggested?
I’m having a weird problem with the new version of Google Earth. Looking near me in Manchester, it’s defaulting to an old image set – around 2004 or so – when they have later images available.
Let me show you:
This is the default image of a street corner near where I live. I hadn’t paid much attention to it until now. But using Google Earth’s new feature to go back in time, I started to look more closely.
This is the same corner from a set of images from 2005. It’s clear to see the site has been cleared, ready for re-building.
But here we are, looking at the 2003 image set — and it’s exactly the same as the default view.
This is clearly wrong — Google definitely has more up-to-date images than the ones they are showing by default for Manchester. Has anyone else had this problem? Can others check their locale to see if there are problems where they live too?
Copyright Board begrudgingly adopts revenue-based streaming royalties:
With explanatory language that made it clear its judges didn’t particularly favor anyone at all involved in this whole process, the CRB announced this week it will apply royalties to streaming net services based on revenue.
I’m glad that this has been finally sorted out. It’s taken bills in the Senate, court appeals and over two years of negotiation to find a solution that enables internet radio broadcasters – like my favourite SOMA FM – to pay royalties based on their income rather than on a notional amount per song.
The negotiation process clearly hasn’t been smooth, and it doesn’t seem as if any side ends covered in glory here. But the user-supported internet radio stations will continue to play a more diverse and interesting playlist than any commercial station. I’ll boost my subscription by a dollar or two a month to ensure I can still listen to that.
Microsoft dismisses Windows 7 UAC security flaw, continues to insist it is “by design”:
Just because it’s by design doesn’t mean to say it’s right. This is exactly the blinkered thinking that we heard from the people working on UAC in the Vista timeframe — “This is the way it’s going to be, we know better than you.”
Since that attitude was provably incorrect last time, what makes it any more right this time?
(Via I Started Something.)