Archive for March, 2007

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Windows XP – Change Analysis Diagnostic

March 28, 2007

Perhaps I should have been a bit more thoughtful in my title, as just reading that probably doensn’t neccessarily warrant a read of the post. Anyway…

A new tool put out by Microsoft for Windows XP came out recently that tells you, when ran, what recently changed on the computer. You know, when something stops working and you tell yourself “But I didn’t do anything”, or “What do you mean what did I do? Nothing has changed!”.

This tool will tell the truth. It might make an ass out of you. But that’s what it is supposed to.

Overview

The Change Analysis Diagnostic simplifies the identification of recent changes to computers running Windows XP. The diagnostic checks for recent changes to the following: • Operating system components, such as patches, that are installed as hotfixes or downloads from Windows Update.

• Installed application entries listed in the Add or Remove Programs control panel.
• All kernel mode device and file system drivers.
• Browser helper objects loaded by Internet Explorer.
• ActiveX controls loaded by Internet Explorer.
• Programs loaded automatically during Windows XP startup.
• Programs and Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) loaded when an application starts.
After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

So do yourself a favor when something, out of nowhere, goes awry and you want an answer on why it did. I have not yet tested this tool, but I’m sure it does a fine job… but if it crashes your PC, um… um… don’t look at me.

Here is the download link. It is a validation-required download.

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Might not be posting much over the next few days…

March 28, 2007

As I have to prepare for a big interview I have in Massachusetts on Monday, April 2. My wife also has an interview (wish us luck!). I am leaving town Friday night and flying overnight to Boston Saturday morning. I will not be returning to Phoenix until late Tuesday night.

For those of you who read this who do not know, I am moving from Phoenix to Leominster, MA in less than two months and currently looking for employment.

So the blogging will probably be at a minimum at least for another week or so.

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System Admin Script Resources

March 26, 2007

I depend on scripting a lot. Probably not as much as some admins, but lately I’ve resolved to scripting to help me roll out system admin tasks. Especially to do stuff like Add/Remove users from Active Directory, User logon scripts, etc. Here are a few excellent web resources for those times you need a script in a pinch.

LabMice.Net – Scripting & Batch Programming Resources
Microsoft TechNet Script Center
The Script Center Script Repository
TechTasks Script Center 

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How to stay sane while working from home

March 25, 2007

A lot of us in the IT field work from home, especially if you work with Managed Services technologies, where you can be anywhere in the world and work. I, for example, spend about 2-3 days a week at home working. It’s not all great. Believe me, I can’t wait to get back to an office.

If you DO work from home, check out this great article from Forbes.com about staying sane while working from home.

Stay Sane While Working From Home

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Is your Firefox sucking your resources dry?

March 22, 2007

Let’s face it, Firefox runs much heavier than IE 7. I like Firefox way more, but at times when I’m doing work from home and utilizing many applications (CRM, Outlook, audio player, etc) I need to use IE so my system will run better. But not anymore.

Check out this blog entry from another wordpress blog. Follow the directions. And you’ll see how great your Firefox runs, and how much resources will be freed up from your system.

It works!

http://engtech.wordpress.com/2006/12/02/how-to-fix-the-firefox-memory-leak-firefox-hack/

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I feel bad for this guy.

March 20, 2007

I think we’ve all been here. I got this in an email from my father, who is also in the technology industry:

UNEAU, Alaska — Perhaps you know that sinking feeling when a single keystroke accidentally destroy hours of work. Now imagine wiping out a disc drive containing an account worth $38 billion.

A computer technician at the Alaska Department of Revenue deleted applicant information for an oil-funded sales account — one of state residents’ biggest perks.

While reformatting the disk drive during a routine maintenance check, the technician mistakenly reformatted the backup drive as well and, suddenly, all the data disappeared.

A third line of defense — backup tapes that are updated nightly — were unreadable.

“Nobody panicked, but we instantly went into planning for the worst-case scenario,” said Permanent Fund Dividend Division Director Amy Skow, about the computer foul-up in July that ended up costing the department more than $200,000.

Nine months worth of information concerning the yearly payout from the Alaska Permanent Fund was gone: some 800,000 electronic images that had been painstakingly scanned into the system months earlier, the 2006 paper applications that people had either mailed in or filed over the counter, and supporting documentation such as birth certificates and proof of residence.

I’m thinking MAYBE they should have had a disk-to-disk backup of some sort. Tapes fail, let’s face it. They are great for archiving and/or off-site monthly storage or whatnot, but I have been a proponent of disk-to-disk backup (say, to a NAS) and also off-site images or backups stored on disk. They should have even considered a CDP device such as the Sonicwall CDP. I have played with these and like them a lot.

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Microsoft unveils “Response Point” IP Phone System for Small Businesses

March 19, 2007

My boss just sent me a link on a small business VoIP solution from Microsoft called “Response Point”. Apparently, they are partnering with D-Link, Uniden, and and Quanta. Currently still in beta, there will be three models to choose from, each from their respective partners listed above.

What could this mean for the VoIP market?

I myself am really interested in the Asterisk/AsteriskNOW system, but after reading this, I’d really like to see what Response Point can do. Apparently, any basic tech can set up one of these systems in minutes.

There is not much information available yet, but it seems promising. As more and more companies are switching to VoIP, this may be the perfect time for Microsoft to jump in the VoIP game.

We’ll just have to see what happens.

Microsoft has always come along later when new technologies are introduced, and have known to work things so that administering and maintaining such technology will be easier with the Microsoft way. At least that is how I see it.

What are your thoughts?

Read the Microsoft Press Release here on “Response Point”.