Sunday, December 28, 2008

VMWare Discount

Friends and colleagues,

In the spirit of the holidays, the VMware online store and hosted desktop team (Fusion and Workstation) are running a Friends and Family holiday promotion, making VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation (both Linux and Windows-based) available for 50% off list price in the VMware online store (see attached flyer).

Please spread the word about this limited time offer to your friends, family and followers!

What youre buying: The promotion is for 50% off of standard, current VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation products, available in the online store. The product is download-only (we dont sell boxes through the VMware store).

How to redeem:

At the VMware store, start at: and add VMware Fusion to the shopping cart. Once you reach the shopping cart, enter the coupon code VMWHAPPYHOLIDAYS in the Promo Code section in the shopping cart screen, and click Apply. The discount will then be reflected in the price and you can checkout. There is a limit to 3 licenses at this rate per customer.

How long: This promotion will be good through 11:59PM PT on 1/15/09.

(Thanks to Chris Knight for the heads up on this one.)


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Vodafone Mobile Connect replacement

With the continual issues that the rather poorly written Vodafoner Mobile Connect software seems to suffer from (and therefore we as users of Vodafone also suffer from), I decided I'd had enough and it was time to look around. MWConn was I looked at (after David Houston let me know he was running the Mobilink software up in Irelend on his Toshiba M700 tablet PC).

MWConn is a nice, little freeware app that, well, just works. Little as in about 0.25 MB and tiny system resource consumption. Nice as in it doesn't break networking like the VMC client does. Freeware as in freeware.

As I already had the E220 Huawei drivers loaded, I just installed MWConn, set the APN to "" saved the config and ran the UMTSGPRS.exe file that found my USB device, connected to Vodafone and worked.

Markus B. Weber, the author, asks for a donation if you like this app. Well, I'll play a little more and if it is stable and functional, then I'll definitely donate.


The Outspoken Wookie

Is Steve Ballmer a Complete Idiot?

I've said before that Microsoft, under Steve Ballmer's leadership, appears like a rudderless ship on a stormy ocean. They are directionless - at least to those of us not being paid by Microsoft.

Now, to add to this the complete clusterfeck that is "Microsoft wants Yahoo, no they don't, yes they do, no they don't". Directionless and without real leadership.

And now, Steve Ballmer in an interview with the WSJ, is still leaving the Yahoo acquisition - one of the worst marketing disasters at Microsoft (aside from Vista, that is) - on the table. Has this guy totally lost the plot?

OK, as I've said before, the stupidest thing from a public perception point that Microsoft has done in a while (since, say, November/December 2006) has been to try and buy Yahoo. No, actually the second stupidest thing. The stupidest thing was half-heartedly trying to buy Yahoo. The stupidest thing that the Board at Yahoo has done, probably in their entire existence, was to reject the offer.

Now it appears as though Ballmer hasn't learned any lesson from this - he's said he wants Yahoo and Yahoo he will have, though he may not win this in the end. He's like a dog with a bone - don't try to take it off him as he'll growl and snap at you, but if you're careful, you may get that bone from the dog. Getting this stupid idea from Ballmer and squashing it is what the Board at Microsoft needs to do - they can ill afford more marketing disasters right now. (As an aside, why do you think they are renaming "Windows Vista R2" as "Windows 7"?)

Maybe squashing the cause of these bad ideas is a better thing - that way no more will take their place.


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, December 20, 2008

WM 6.1 - Queensland Does Not Have DST

I’ve finally worked out how to fix this stupidity. The issue is that MS has decided that, unlike our State Government, they’d support DST in Queensland on Windows Mobile 6.1 devices. That’s what you get with a benevolent dictator – shit just gets done. :)

1. Go to and download the PHM Regedit installer. Install it onto your PC. Now, as it won’t push to the PDA, copy the “regedit.Mrln_ARM.CAB” file from the installed folder to another location and uninstall PHM Regedit from your PC. Now copy the .cab file to the PDA and run it.

2. If you want or need to geek out, here's some geeky information. lists the Microsoft Timezone codes. Since Brisbane is E. Australia Time, the timezone ID is 260 and therefore the TZI data that corresponds with this is a8 fd ff ff 00 00 00 00 c4 ff ff ff 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00. You’d have been able to guess that data, I’m sure! You can also confirm this data from your Windows XP or Vista desktop by looking at HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Time Zones.

3. Now, go to the PDA and run PHM RegEdit. Go to HKLM,SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Timezones\so we can edit the timezone on the PDA.

4. Create a new key using the name “260” and then create a Binary value under this called TZI and insert the data above (including the spaces) into this value.

5. Save this value and then just to make sure, edit the value and check this is correct. As I mentioned, you need the spaces.

6. Quit PHM RegEdit as we’re now done with it.

7. On your PDA, open up Settings => Clock & Alarms and Change your timezone to any other timezone that is NOT Brisbane. I suggest Alaska as Sarah Palin needs all the support she can get right now. Whilst we’re there we can give Ted Stevens a good clip over the ear, too!

8. Reset your phone, then change your timezone back to Brisbane. Now your DST settings should be the same as those on your computer(s) (ie, non-existent).

This information was gleaned from after a post to the SMB IT Pro - Brisbane group list by Ben Dampney of Digit IT.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Microsoft Internet Explorer Critical Update

Microsoft released a Security Update today, December 18th, to protect customers from a new Internet Explorer vulnerability. Microsoft advises users to enable automatic updates on their PC, or check online for the update. To keep up to date with the latest news from Microsoft on this issue, please refer to the Microsoft Security Response Centre blog.


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SBSC PAL December 2008

The Silly Season is upon us once again, so don’t expect this to be too serious. Besides, I’ve had enough “serious” lately that I am due some “silly”. :)

First up, D-Link is bringing their VoiceCenter product (built on Microsoft Response Point) into Australia as of early next year. You will need to complete the D-Link training before you can resell this specialist product, which consists of a course (the cost of which includes a VoiceCenter system) that will be run at locations around Australia from February, 2008. D-Link has chosen Ingram Micro as their distribution partner. Microsoft Response Point is an IP-based phone system designed for SMBs. It features many of the features of bigger phone systems at a decent price point and features voice recognition technology to make driving the phone system a lot easier. I’ve heard that a 2009 D-Link and Robbie roadshow is on the cards – that should be worth looking forward to.

If anyone is wondering what to put on their Xmas list, then have a look at this personal jet aircraft. Have a look at Yves’ site for some more on this. Google “FusionMan” for some more interesting stuff and there’s also a fair bit more on YouTube.

Are you going to be doing the same things in 2009 as you did in 2008, but expecting different results? That’s the first sign of business insanity. Although we’re quite busy right now, we are taking some time off over the holiday break to think about where we can improve next year. We’ve already got some ideas and some plans on how we can deliver better service to our clients but are going to be thinking about some more. Are you taking time off from working at your business to work on your business and thinking about how you can deliver better service to your clients? In these tough times, we need to ensure we treat our clients right, target our products and services right and therefore deliver more than our clients expect. Delivering what they expect is what a lot of our competitors can do. Is setting our sights on the soaring heights of mediocrity what we really want to aim for? The whole idea of the SBSC program is to differentiate ourselves from the “crowd” and show that we have the product knowledge, training, education and the experience to deliver the right solution to our clients.

While you’re taking this time to look at your business, take some time to look at your family and those dear to you. Do you really know them well enough? Do you spend enough time with them? Do you spend so much time working to afford to keep them that you are thinking about selling them off and relaxing a little? :) Oops, I meant spending so much time working that you don’t get enough time for the things that really matter? We all need to remember that the important things in life aren’t found on a laptop screen, but on the faces of our loved ones.

And while we’re thinking about family, how about suggesting that if they really love you, they’ll talk to Yves and start negotiations on getting you your own jet wing!

So, with a new year ahead and a swag of new products available, let’s all look at ways we can deliver these products to our clients to help them run their businesses better and enable them to also spend time doing the things that really matter. If we do this right, they’ll help us do the things we really want to do.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, December 11, 2008

ANZ-ResponsePoint Yahoo Group Now Established

With the imminent release of D-Link's VoiceCenter product in Australia and New Zealand, I've established the ANZ-ResponsePoint Yahoo! Group for community support and discussion.

Membership to this list is moderated to keep spammers out, posting is unmoderated.

The list is for discussions of and around Microsoft ResponsePoint solutions. Comparisons to other products and discussion of competing solutions is welcome as we can all learn a lot from those around us who have experience with other products.

Feel free to join this list if you want to discuss Microsoft ResponsePoint solutions as applicable to Australian and New Zealand solutions.


The Outspoken Wookie

In The Cloud Office Applications

I don't know how many people have seen the Zoho suite of cloud-based office applications, but they have quite a few online and they offer free versions for home and evaluation usage.

Adding the Zoho suite to Google Apps and the planned Yahoo! offering, there seems to be an increasing number of cloud-based offerings available to choose from.

Competition is always good for the consumer.


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Serious Boy Toy

Now, this is a must have boy toy:


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Untangle 6.0 Released

Untangle, the rather nice Linux-based firewall with Active Directory integration that will be able to fit the spot that's been vacated by ISA (now that it has been dropped from SBS 2008) has been updated to version 6.0 which brings not only a new interface written in HTML 2.0 (replacing the old Java-based interface) and also added the eSoft Web Filter to the subscription options.

The Untangle Gateway Platform is the perfect fit for managed service providers, and the company is excited to announce the availability of Untangle 6.0 (standalone) for download at This release includes new applications and a number of enhancements that will make Untangle easier to sell and manage.

The Windows version based on Re-Router technology is still at version 5.4.2 and will be upgraded to 6.0 in the near future.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, November 27, 2008

ActiveSync and IIS Logs

In checking our own SBS box this morning, I noticed that, over time, we've been losing around 60 MB/day or so o drive space on C:. This has never been an issue as we have ample free space, but I finally had a little time so looked further into it.

So, running TreeSize Free I noticed that C:\WINDOWS\system32\LogFiles\W3SVC1 had a size nearing 20 GB which was a little more than it should be. This W3SVC1 folder is where IIS logs activity for the Default website (the one running the Exchange web services (such as OWA and ActiveSync) and various other features of SBS 2003. What's been happening is that as we have regular ActiveSync access to our SBS box, we've been generating a lot of log action due to the default IIS settings in SBS basically logging everything and its dog. (All up, this logging isn't a bad thing as it allows us to retrospectively look at the logs and see what's been happening, or alternately run active filtering of these logs to see what's happening now.)

I've been thinking about writing a little IIS Log Roll script to handle this automagically, but have not yet done this - I'm wondering if I should dedicate a little time to this so that we can move and zip each day's log file (by default, these are in an uncompressed folder) off the C: drive/partition to a data/Tech location elsewhere on the server.

Anyway, as a heads up, if you notice capacity on the SBS C: drive/partition slowly fading away and you have a number of activesync/owa users on this server, then keep an eye on this folder and the size of the log files it contains.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sanity Prevails in SBS 2008 Premium

With all of the comments that have been freely flowing about the shortsightedness of SBS 2008 Premium Edition allowing you to downgrade the SQL 2008 Standard to SQL 2005 Standard but refusing to let you downgrade the second server instance to Windows Server 2003 Standard whilst leaving the primary server running SBS 2008, it appears that we *have* been able to move the mountain - and we moved it well.

Not only can the second Windows Server license in SBS 2008 be used for WS2K8 Standard x64 or x86 (as originally released), it can now be used with WS2K3 Standard x64 or x86 (have a read of this and scroll down to the "Component compatibility for maximum flexibility" section) as an alternative.

As an added bonus, this is also applicable to the "Premium" components in EBS - that can run on WS2K8 or WS2K3 now, with this amendment to the original license conditions.

(By now I mean as of 2nd January through the Solutions Pathway.)

Remember, SQL 2008 Standard was always able to be downgraded (in SBS 2008) to SQL 2005 Standard, however this alternative is now also available to EBS 2008 clients.

So, proof that Microsoft does listen to reason. :) Thanks to The Wayne for the heads up on this.


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Novell's SBS Competitor

Novell Open Workgroup Suite Small Business Edition (NOWS SBE) has been around for a number of years now (in various guises), but there's some rather good news about it that has just been announced - as of December 3, 2008, the NOWS SBE Starter Pack will be available, and this comes with 5 Licenses free - that's right - your first 5 users on a NOWS SBE solution will be free.

I have a feeling this is in direct response to Microsoft's over the top price hike on SBS 2008 as compared to SBS 2003, but I cannot confirm this.

Anyway, have a read of this announcement made on November 3, 2008 for more information on this offer.

For sites where there's no need for an MS SQL database, it looks like NOWS SBE may be an extremely affordable, extremely viable solution that will provide a good, solid server for your clients. This is something I'll have to look further into and I'll report my findings back here.


The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, November 14, 2008

SBS 2008 CALs

There's been a lot of talk about SBS 2008 CALs, maybe, maybe too much talk. SBS 2008 CALs are available, as were SBS 2003 CALs, in 5- and 20-pack SKUs and in addition to this they are also available as single CAL SKUs. That's good, because with the significant increase in the price of SBS 2008 over SBS 2003, we need to have something that our smaller clients can see as a benefit! :)

Eric Ligman blogged about the SBS 2008 Open Value and Open Value Subscription CALs here. That blog post is missing information about Open Business Licensing SKUs, which is available on the distributors' price lists as I write this blog. Unfortunately, as there's no spreadsheet nor simple list I can find, I'm not going to spend an hour or more clicking on each option to get its SKU, however I can say that on the Ingram Micro website, these are all listed (single CAL SKUs only, however) under Licensing, Microsoft, MS Windows Small Business CAL, and with Express Data, you need to contact ED Licensing to get information and pricing on any Licensing quoues.

So, as a quick summary, SBS 2008 OEM is available with 5 CALs and there are OEM 5-CAL Standard and OEM 5-CAL Premium packs available (as a Device CAL pack or a User CAL Pack). Open Business Licensing CALs (Standard and Premium) are available from the distys in single SKU, 5- and 20-pack SKUs. And don't forget, an SBS 2008 CAL Standard can be used on both SBS 2008 Standard and SBS 2008 Premium systems if the user has no need to access SQL, however if they need to access the SQL component of SBS 2008 Premium, then (and only then) do they need an SBS 2008 CAL Premium.

If the Standard/Premium CAL bit is not clear enough, let me know and I'll write a blog entry to better clarify this.


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pretty Sure This Holds The Record

MS08-068 was released on November 11th, 2008. There was an exploit published on 21 March, 2001 by Sir Dystic of cDc that attacked this vulnerability. That was when Windows 2000 was current, yet the vulnerable code made it successfully into the Windows XP (1), Windows Server 2003 (2), Windows Vista (3) and Windows Server 2008 (4) operating systems that were released after Microsoft was made aware of this vulnerability.

That's 4 completely new OS releases that contained known-vulnerable and actively exploited code.


Does this patch hold the world record for delay since notification and correction? 2792 days. 7 years, 7 months and 21 days. A record to stand the test of time, I wonder? :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Did Microsoft And Sun Kiss And Make Up?

I seem to recall a few years ago, when Sun introduced Java as being a cross-platform product, that Microsoft decided to License this and then distribute their own Microsoftized version that was not cross-platform compatible with the rest of the Java platform, and then Sun suing Microsoft and successfully having them remove from distribution the Microsoft bastardized Java VM. Microsoft was far from being happy about this and Sun, I'd say, was elated.

Now, after the complete balls up that Steve Ballmer made when pursuing the Yahoo acquisition attempt which is now (finally) dead, he needed a new best friend, and it was to Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO and President of Sun that he seems to have turned.

Sun and Microsoft have come to some sort of arrangement whereby Sun, who's well known and despised for the amount of crap it tries to shove down people's throats when they download updates to the Java Runtime (which, by the way, as of Sun JRE 6U10, finally removes old versions during the install instead of leaving these carcasses on your system), will now shove the MSN Toolbar onto unsuspecting visitors. OK, it will likely be an optional download (that's enabled by default) like the recent Google Toolbar and Installer rubbish that Sun pushed onto people (not that I think is rubbish, quite the contrary, however pushing it on someone wanting to download Java is rubbish), but it is still annoying that I have to unselect optional crap when downloading something I want to download.

Anyway, this is an interesting development in the bedroom antics of the major players. :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, November 08, 2008

SBSC LiveMeeting Series: Score Big with the SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 Launch!

This is an SBSC-exclusive LiveMeeting session. Go here to register for this webcast.

SBSC LiveMeeting Series: Score Big with the SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 Launch!

Start Time:
November 13, 2008 4:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
60 Minutes
Start Date:
November 13, 2008 4:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)

Event Overview
Please join us for this upcoming webcast that will explore resources and tools for helping Canadian technology partners capitalize on the SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 Launch. This is available exclusively for the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC).

Top 5 Reasons to Attend:
· It’s a New Season! See for yourself the marketing materials to get out there and create excitement
· Training Camps! Find out about all of the training & readiness options available to you
· Power Play! Learn about the sales resources available to score those first few deals!
· Hat Tricks! Hear from your peers about successful strategies for getting SMB customers to adopt these new server solutions
· Shoot-outs! Dazzle your customers with the right demos

Who should attend?
· Microsoft Small Business Specialists
· Business Decision Makers

SBSC LiveMeeting Series: Score Big with the SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 Launch! Event ID: 1032385774

Friday, November 07, 2008

SBS Software Assurance

As there have been a few questions surrounding SBS Software Assurance of late, I'll post a list of the basic options you have - basic insofar as I'm not listing all possible options, just the most common ones. As this is read by everyone, I'll post SKUs and RRP pricing - you can order these from Ingram Micro and Express Data.

The prices are for SBS Standard and Premium Software Assurance, and as for the CALs, these are all 5-Packs (to keep in line with any people buying SBS 2003 OEM now and wanting to add SA) for Open Business, No Level. If you don't know what that means, then you need to get along to a little bit of MS Licensing training. ;)

Microsoft SKUDescriptionRRP exRRP inc
T75-00156SBS Premium SA (5 Client)$1342.73$1477.00
T72-00123SBS Standard SA (5 Client)$  770.00$  847.00
6VA-01638SBS Prem User CALs 5 Pack$  669.09$  736.00
6VA-01635SBS Prem Device CALs 5 Pack$  669.09$  736.00
6UA-02182SBS Std User CALs 5 Pack$  272.73$  300.00
6UA-02179SBS Std Device CALs 5 Pack$  272.73$  300.00


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Cletus finally ate his dinner

After feeding Remy and Colette (my two Jungle Pythons) the last of their fuzzy rats on Tuesday evening, I dropped past Pet City and picked up a pack of 5 to tide me over for a while. I got back home after a few onsite jobs and saw that Colette was perched on a vine looking out for more food, so I thawed out one of the fuzzies and thought that I'd try tempting Cletus with a little snack, and if he wasn't interested, I'd feed it to Colette.

Well, Cletus knew I was up to something - he smelled a rat. And about 1/10 second after he smelled it, it was in his mouth and being coiled upon. He then proceeded to eat the fuzzy. I did a little RatSnak dance.

Finally, I got him to eat something - he's been here about 2 months now and hasn't been interested in the slightest the two times I've tried to feed him - he sniffed, looked, licked, and then moved away. I even placed the rat on some newspaper on the basking platform and he coiled up next to it, paying it no attention whatsoever.

So this was a good start - a fuzzy to Cletus is like a half a small Chokito to us, but I thought this would get him in the mood, and I'd feed him a weaner rat on Saturday. Simon suggested that whilst he's in the mood I should quickly thaw a weaner and try that, and as he's had more experience at this than I have, I thawed a weaner.

Well, the weaner lasted a little longer - probably 2 or 3 seconds. Cletus had obviously finished his Redneck Fast - maybe because Barack Obama is replacing Dubya in the Whitehouse, maybe for other reasons. It took another 4 minutes or so for him to swallow the weaner. I did a bigger Cletus ate frozen/thawed rats dance. It felt good! :)

So, now I'm wondering what I do for food. Do I breed rats or continue to by frozen for now? As the Jungles grow, they'll need more rats and bigger rats, as will Cletus. Maybe breeding some here has merits...


The Outspoken Wookie

Yet Another RealPlayer Vulnerability

My second least favorite streaming format, Real, has yet another vulnerability made public in its RealPlayer product. Aside from it being basically spyware, that is. is a vid about the vulnerability.


The Outspoken Wookie

Borked WHS Key in MAPS

In the October MAPS shipment which should be arriving in the very near future, WHS is included. Unfortunately, no-one thought to test the key(s) that were shipped out with this product and they/it doesn't work. So, the January MAPS shipment will contain functional keys, however if you want to be able to use WHS before late January 2009, I suggest you ring 13 20 58 (Australia), choose Option 4 and ask for a valid key.


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Plantronics Discovery 925

I've used a few Bluetooth earpieces over the years, and know a number of people who've used a lot of others. I've also spoken to a number of people using various Bluetooth earpieces. Most of them suck. Most of them are difficult to hear on the part of the user and/or the person on the other end of the connection. Normally both. Most of them need to be steam rollered.

However, the Plantronics Discovery 925 (and please note that I'm not being paid by Plantronics in any way) is an order of magnitude better than anything else I've used. At least. Probably more. When I'm using it, I can hear who's talking to me. They can hear me. It manages to remove almost all road and other ambient noise so the other person can hear me clearly, and I can clearly hear what they are saying (depending on what they are talking into, obviously).

Another thing I *really* like about this unit is that it somes with its own protective case - how many times have you dropped your BT earpiece in the floor well of the car and then picked it up and stuck it in your ear? How safe do you think that really is? Well, no more will you have to worry about ear infections - the Discovery 925 has a nice little pouch that - wait for it - has a battery in it. That's right. At no extra cost, the Plantronics Discovery 925 has its own battery, a backup battery/charger, and this can all be charged from your USB port.

Wow - I wonder if we can get Plantronics Steak Knives for only a dollar?

If you're looking at a new Bluetooth earpiece, get one of these. if you're not, then get one anyway - your clients will thank you for it.


The Outspoken Wookie

Windows Server 2008 Enterprise for SBSCs

OK, now I'll repeat a question I've asked before, but bring it a little more up to date.

Who here thinks that having WS2K8 Ent available via the SBSC Kit for all SBSCs (or even in MAPS for all subscribers) is sensible? Yeah, me too. Microsoft is now starting to understand what Virtualization is all about. Starting to. Yet we receive WS2K8 Standard in MAPS, which is nearly useless for trialling Virtualization scenarios for our clients/ourselves. Having WS2K8 Ent would mean that we could actually run a number of the different server applications we receive in MAPS that cannot be run on the same server instance due to incompatibilities and/or performance issues. It just makes sense that we're given the ability to actually use the software provided in MAPS, not given it and then need to purchase additional server licenses to make decent use of it.

I brought this up in the WS2K3 days and had a reasonable number of people agreeing that this would allow them to better be equipped to sell a) the software they receive in MAPS and b) virtualization scenarios to their clients, but nothing seems to have been done about this inside Microsoft (well, nothing positive).

So, hands up those who'd be able to benefit from WS2K8 Ent and likely increase the quantity of Microsoft product they'd be able to sell.


The Outspoken Wookie

Outlook and Hotmail

Now, I'm not a big fan of Hotmail (nor any of the other free email services such as Gmail, etc) however for those emergency "I need to get acces to an external email account for testing" situations, Hotmail is as good as the rest of them. And a while back, you could access your Hotmail accounts through Outlook, then Microsoft stopped this. Now they've allowed it again. is the Microsoft Outlook Connector for Windows Live Hotmail (which is what Hotmail's now known as).

I hope this is useful to someone!


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More CALs for SBSCs

Hi All,

News just in: Just received word that the exclusive SBSC Toolkit shipping with the October Action Pack will include 15 additional CALs for SBS & EBS. Nice. The kits will be at the Microsoft post office from October 24th & so should be with you a few weeks after that.


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Apple Propaganda Advertising

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm no fan of Steve Jobs and his "my way or the highway" computing platform, and especially not of the Apple False Advertising marketing plan that they insist on using.

But sometimes, they just make great adverts.

And these two, in response to Microsoft's seriously overpriced, underclued, ineffective and early-terminated "Bill and Jerry" series (at least Jerry Seinfeld walked away with US$10m for almost nothing - US$10m that could have much more effectively have been spent on the partner channel (training, listening, feedback, trying to understand the issues MS' partners have with MS' Partner programs)), well, they tickled my fancy.

First, as Steve Ballmer is an account and not a CEO (especially of a tech company such as Microsoft), there's

Then there's the Visbbbbzzzzz response at

Not that I'm saying that Apple stands a snowflake's chance in hell of being useful in most business scenarios (ever tried running [insert pretty much any busines line of business application] on a Mac? How far did you get?), but these adverts are quite good.

And for all of those people saying that if Microsoft doesn't come out with something totally mindblowing in Windows 7 (yeah, right, like that's going to happen) then Apple/Linux will start to rule the world, well, when a) my business apps run on Apple/Linux, or b) when these camps start to realise what the Microsoft camp does so well - integration, delivering fairly good software and and innovating in a developed market, then maybe they will stand a chance. But remember, Windows XP was released, then a 5 year break, then Vista, and what progress has Apple and/or Linux really made into the desktop market? Yup - bugger all. They just don't get it.

It is somewhat like the last Qld State Election - Teflon Pete managed to screw up everything he touched - he DEFINITELY had the Shitas Touch for a while, there, but his teflon coating (thanks to NASA, btw) kept the brown stains off him. The he called an election. His opposition [sic] was too busy infighting about who'd become Lord of Qld that they forgot to actually run for the election and Teflon Pete came out not losing a single seat. Microsoft's using the same Teflon Suit tailor that Peter Beattie uses, I'm sure! :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, October 10, 2008


OK, so I sat the VMWare VTSP training earlier this week that Ingram Micro subsidised (100% subsidy - this was very nice of them) and passed all of the exams in all 3 streams. So now I'm a certified VMWare Technical Sales Professional. Yay.

OK, so what does this all mean in the SMB world? Not much. Most of the VMWare kit is priced and squarely aimed at the Enterprise and won't be affordable down here where we live, however the functionality some of the higher end toys provide is rather nice.

VMWare does have their VMWare Infrastructure Foundation product that is aimed at SMB. It supports NAS and local storage (SCSI), but has no SAN support and also comes with Consolidated Backup which is nice, however the only other feature it has - Update Manager - requires VirtualCenter Server - a separately licensed product starting at a little over AU$2000. You don't get the ability to run VMotion (also licensed separately) nor HA on VMWare Infratructure Foundation, unfortunately.
So, is this any real benefit? Not sure. Without VirtualCenter Server, you may as well just run 2 instances of ESXi (or Hyper-V) and manually move and manage machines - you'll get no other meaningful management from VMWare without Virtual Center, so why bother with VMWare Infrastructure Foundation? Maybe I'll investigate VMWare Infrastructure Foundation a little more - this wasn't covered in the training as the training was aiming just a little higher. :)

OK, so when I get a chance I'll play and report back...


The Outspoken Wookie

SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 Hands On Labs

In case anyone's missed Robbie Upcroft's announcement about these labs, have a read of his blog.

Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra all have places still available for this training, but those places won't remain vacant for long, so I suggest you get signed up ASAP. Microsoft is subsidising this training so that you only pay $399ex for this.


The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, October 06, 2008

DNS Records

OK. This is something I nearly always do but got caught out this weekend because I forgot to do it this once. Microsoft products are notorious for creating html code that's many times the size of what it needs to be to get the job done. A prime example of this is the Quark IT Newsletter for November 2004 - the original Microsoft Publisher generated HTML (first page only) was 122 KiB (125,166 bytes) and the cleaned up version that is now 4 pages long is 45 KiB (46,165 bytes). Well, OK - it isn't quite identical, the code I hand-modified actually looks quite a lot better than Publisher's "Save as HTML" option. And did I mention that the hand modified code is 4 pages long versus Microsoft's single page? A masive difference in size, I'm sure you'll agree.

Anyway, an added bonus with all of this additional, superfluous code that Microsoft generates is the stuff that's hidden when you copy something from a website and paste it elsewhere. Microsoft has been generous to provide is with a Crud Filter for when you need to do this - it is a nice little application called "Notepad.exe" - and what you do is copy the text from the website, paste it into Notepad, then re-select and copy it from Notepad and paste it where you want it. And just like magic, it is the text you want without all of the MS-generated crud! Amazing, no?

Well, I was fiddling around with _autodiscover._tcp settings on the weekend and accidentally killed one of our domains because I stupidly copied and pasted without the required disencrudification step. I was alerted to the issue this morning and found the offending record, deleted it, and typed it in by hand, restarted DNS and all was well with the world once again.

It just goes to show that almost doing something properly can be as bad as almost doing it really badly! :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Hyper-V Server RTMs

REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 1, 2008 — Following the broad product, partner and customer announcements from its “Get Virtual Now” launch last month, Microsoft Corp.’s CEO Steve Ballmer today announced the final release and availability of Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 in front of a crowd of 700 IT professionals during a TechNet Server and Tools event keynote address in London. To further assist customers with the adoption and deployment of Microsoft virtualization solutions, Microsoft announced a new offering of specialized assessment and implementation services available from the Microsoft Services organization that help customers use server virtualization, and separate new training and certifications from Microsoft Learning for IT Professionals.

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008, a bare metal hypervisor-based server virtualization product, is now available as a no-cost Web download at Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 provides a simplified, reliable and optimized virtualization solution for customers to consolidate Windows or Linux workloads onto a single physical server or to run client operating systems and applications in server-based virtual machines in the data center. Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 allows customers to leverage their existing provisioning, updating, management and support tools, processes and skills.

Read the full Press Release here.


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

HP ConfigureAIDER

In Australia, the land of the mostly overseas PM, we used to have two tools that helped a lot when we wanted to build custom HP configurations - HP Piper Configurator for laptops, desktops and workstations and HP ConfigureAIDER for building servers.

Now that HP has decided to replace their perfectly functional ConfigureAIDER tool with their totally and mindnumbingly useless and confusing configuration tool that is often a) offline, b) dysfunctional and c) simply too confusing to use, well, I wonder if they are trying to make IBM's sales targets for them and if they are receiving any kickbacks for the number of HP resellers who are seriously considering moving to IBM Servers.

Right now, Ingram Micro's and Dicker Data's Server Pre-Sales teams are being hit harder with "what do I need for this server" queries due to this tool being usable by the HP coders who wrote it and maybe the guy in there who approved it. No regular humans can use it and get a proper system build out of it.

Bring on increased sales for IBM is what they are saying, I think!


The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, September 22, 2008


Out of respect for Cletus from The Simpsons, and because Simon kept referring to him as Cletus, I've decided to officially call my 1.8 m (6 ft) Bredli Python "Cletus". It is only fair as he *is* a redneck (the snake, not Simon)! :)

So, here's a pic of Cletus climbing off his hide/platform up into the branches I have in his vivarium.

And here's one where he decided to strike a pose for the camera.

Here's one where he started to climb up the corner of the vivarium to explore what was up there, but then decided to look elsewhere.

And here's one of Cletus climbing the glass, not in the corner, just to show that he's quite capable of climbing up over any moderate sized barrier!

Out of interest, the vivarium is 950*1250*600 mm (H*W*D) and made out of pine which has been thoroughly stained/waterproofed. Unsealed pine enclosures are rather bad because unsealed pine can outgas a number of aromatic hydrocarbons which are toxic to reptiles. For more information on this, have a read of this document.

The floor of the viv (which is fully waterproofed) is covered with newspaper and then on top of that is a piece of Natural 40 turf as sourced from - tell Jeanette I sent you. :) OzTurf produces a number of different products - we had a look at both the Lifelike 40 and Natural 40 and decided the Natural 40 would suit us (SImon and I) best. So far it has worked out well. I have 2 pieces for this viv - one in, one waiting - and 4 pieces for my Jungle vivarium (a pair of them installed, a pair waiting).

What I do is when I clean the vivs out, I take out the turf and newspaper, clean out the viv with F10 disinfectant (available at pretty much any decent pet shop and vet supply store), replace the newspaper, put in the spare turf, and then clean the old turf, disinfect it with F10, leave it in the sun to dry, and then store it ready for the next viv clean. I also give a precautionary spray of the turf and any branches in the viv with Top of Descent just before re-introducing the snake.

When I decide on names for my two Jungle Pythons, I'll post some pics of them here as well. Right now I'm looking at "Mickey" and Minnie" because they eat mice (well, rats) or "Alfredo" and "Collette" (from Ratatouille). I'm open to suggestions on names!


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Richard Wright (Pink Floyd) Dies at 65

In some very sad news for Pink Floyd fans, Richard Wright - keyboard player, composer and founding member - died on Sep 15, 2008 from cancer. Syd Barrett, another of the founding members, died in July, 2006. We're really starting to lose some of the most influential musicians of the 70s-90s and it is a sad part of life.

Rick was a well respected, gentle man of the rock 'n' roll world and will be greatly missed.


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cisco Announces Definitive Agreement to Acquire Jabber

In addition to Cisco's recent announcement to acquire PostPath (read my blog entry on this), Cisco has on the 19 September, 2008, announced its intent to acquire privately held Jabber, Inc., a provider of presence and messaging software. Based in Denver, Jabber will work with Cisco to enhance the existing presence and messaging functions of Cisco's Collaboration portfolio.

It looks like Cisco is taking things seriously in the communications market and is looking at Commercial, open standards and Open Source as its sources of solutions. Nothing like keeping one's options open. :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, September 19, 2008

International Talk Like A Pirate Day


I'll not be talkin' yer antivirus here, ye scurvy dogs. I'm sayin' that t'day is a day all ye lubbers can rise above the bilge rats ye normally come from and try t' be one o' us. Arrr, ye probably won't get there, but try yer hardest!

If yer payin' attention to and than ye have a chance o' not walkin' the plank, me hearties. If yer not payin' attention, then it be the bilge or the plank - take yer choice!

Where's me grog? Arrr, that be better!

Keep yer eyes off me buxom wench and ye'll last longer on this ship. An' keep away from me booty if ye know what's good fer ye.

We're in fer a long sail and there's gonna be some treasure fer the takin', so sharpen yer cutlass and let's haul keel.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Windows Vista Firewall Pt 2

One thing that Amy Babinchak pointed out that I failed to mention in my previous blog entry was that by default, not only is all outbound filtering disabled in the Microsoft Vista Windows Firewall, but so too is all logging.

So, once you have the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security applet open and have clicked on Windows Firewall Properties, if you click on the "Customize" button in the Logging section of each of the three profiles mentioned in my previous blog entry, you will see that, as the image below shows, all logging is disabled.

Now this isn't very secure, Microsoft, is it? Not only is all outbound filtering disabled by default on a product that you spout as being a lot better than your previous inbound-only firewall, but all logging is also disabled by default. Where's the "secure by design" in that?

So, I'd strongly recommend that everyone enables the logging where appropriate - on domain-joined desktops and laptops, that would be in the "Domain" profile. On non-domain joined desktops and laptops, that would be the "Private" profile, and in addition to this, on all laptops you would also do this in the "Public" tab.


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hilton Blogs Robbie Blogging Hilton's Post

OK, whatever that means. :)

I'm not going to repeat this, so go here and have a read.


The Outspoken Wookie.

Windows Vista Firewall

One of the big complaints about the firewall included with Windows XP was that it only managed inbound traffic and did nothing whatsoever to manage outbound traffic. That was a bit of an oversight - even after the XP Security Service Pack (SP2) this wasn't addressed.

This is where products like the free Comodo Firewall Pro, the US$39/year Comodo Firewall Pro Plus, the $39.95/year (or cheaper) Outpost Firewall Pro, the obviously free Online Armor Free, the $39.95/year Online Armor and various other firewalls came into their own - providing significantly better protection of your network and its data than the inbuilt Windows Firewall in Windows XP could manage.

So along came Vista with its bi-directional firewall and much rejoicing was had! Well, so we thought. With Microsoft's focus on security, you'd have thought that they would have, by default, enabled outbound filtering in the Vista Firewall. It would be a sensible thing to have done, you'd have thought. Right? Nope, apparently not - by default this outbound filtering is not only disabled, but also not able to be enabled in the one place you'd look for it - the Windows Firewall Control Panel applet.

FFS, what's the reasoning behind that?

Anyway, here's how to turn on this outbound firewall feature that should have been a) enabled by default and b) configurable via the Control Panel applet:

1. In the "Start Search" bar, type "firewall" and select the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security tool

2. Click on the Windows Firewall Properties link in the "Overview" box

3. For the Domain Profile, Private Profile and Public Profile, change the "Outbound Connections: Allow (default)" to "Outbound Connections: Block" to ensure that all traffic that is not covered by a rule is blocked.

4. If you want to manually edit the outbound rules, you do so back in the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security applet in the "Outbound Rules" section.


The Outspoken Wookie

October 2008 MAPS Shipment

As Robbie mentioned, the October 2008 MAPS shipment will contain both SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 - so we're actually going to be receiving product before our clients do, which is a nice change for MAPS.

Personally, I feel that EBS 2008 should have only been shipped to SBSCs as pretty much no Registered Members who are not SBSCs will be interested in EBS. It would have been an enticement for those Registered Members not already SBSCs to become an SBSC so they can participate in the SBSC community and gain a working knowledge of SBS 2008 and EBS 2008.

Apparently, we're also (finally) getting a copy of Windows Home Server 1.0 and the Terminal Server 2008 Licenses. The TS Licenses will be handy as we've already had Windows Server 2008 shipped (Standard, not Enterprise, meaning testing with multiple Server OS instances under Hyper-V is impossible) perviously without these Licenses.


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Google's Chrome loses a bit of its shine

When Google released Chrome I was rather interested. Then I found out it was based on Safari - generally regarded as the worst of the Windows browsers available, the least functional and the most insecure. But Google says that they have planned and built a secure browser.

Bullshit they have!

Google's Chrome browser has had more security flaws found in its first month of life than IE7 had in close to a year! That's an outstanding achievement! :(

Now, to mention only one of the many issues Chrome has, it allows - by default - files to be downloaded to the filesystem without prompting. I mean, how mind numbingly stupid would that have been in 1998, let alone now in 2008? And now this "feature" has been exploited.

To quote Nick FitzGerald as stated on the Bugtraq list: a browser announced with such a massive hoopla about how it's been double-especially-extra-security-hardened from the outset, _that something more obviously sensible_ was not the _shipping default configuration_ is gob-stoppingly stupid; a fundamentally noob-ish design error.

In short, something that does not bode well for the product living up to the marketing hype.

Oh, and slapping the standard "we're Google so couldn't be arsed finishing it so will call it beta" label on it makes no difference. Fundamentally stupid is fundamentally stupid at whatever point in the development process that "feature" made its way into the product.

Come on guys - if you want to trump Microsoft, this is NOT the way to go about it. Security, Security, Security (to paraphrase a man I don't particularly think is doing anywhere near an acceptable job).


The Outspoken Wookie

EBS 2008 hits RTM

The English version of EBS has finally hit RTM, as reported here. This means that both SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 will be hitting the shelves (officially) on November 12.

That's good news for all SBSCs worldwide who've been waiting for these new products - an update to SBS 2003 and a completely new mid-market solution in EBS 2008. (OK, not completely new, as this is replacing the badly cobbeld together Medium Biz Infra Server bundle, but seriously more integrated, enough to be called a new product, I'd think.)

So, both SBS and EBS will definitely be available for the Nov 12 launch party - woohoo!

For more information on EBS 2008, have a look at Ollie's EBS blog.


The Outspoken Wookie

Recent Apple Updates

This past week or so, Apple has been busy releasing fixes and updates for a lot of their software. Below is a list of these updates and links to more information on each one:

  1. QuickTime 7.5.5

  2. Bonjour for Windows 1.0.5

  3. iTunes 8.0

  4. iPod touch v2.1

  5. iPhone 2.1

  6. Mac OS X 10.5.5 with Security Update 2008-006


The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cisco Announces Definitive Agreement to Acquire PostPath

OK, so I'm a couple of weeks behind here, but this is interesting news. A while back, I blogged about PostPath and then gave a list of products that are alternatives to Microsoft's products in the SMB and other markets. Well, on 27 August, 2008, Cisco (yes, THAT Cisco) announced its intent to acquire PostPath Inc. Not a bad $215m investment, I'd think!
"The acquisition of PostPath complements our strategy to develop an integrated collaboration platform designed for how we work today and into the future, providing real productivity gains and a more satisfying user experience", said Doug Dennerline, Cisco senior vice president, Collaboration Software Group. "Our 'cloud-based' delivery model offers our customers rapid deployment and compelling economics."

Read the Cisco Press Release for more information.


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, September 14, 2008

iTunes 8 - or is that iBSOD 8?

It looks like Apple has released an update to their recently released iTunes 8 software due to an extraordinary number of BSODs, STOP errors and general system instability that iTunes 8 caused. It appears that a number of the "extra" applications that Apple included with the latest iTunes+Quicktime update are the cause of the Apple-generated Windows instabilities.

Now, we don't install nor support Quicktime on our client's computers unless there's a good business reason that they need it. If they need Quicktime playback, we install and support the Quicktime Alternative as it provides the functionality without the bloatware.

iTunes 8, an 80 MB download as compared to the 25 MB size of Windows Media Player, includes a known to be unstable USB driver. The updated iTunes 8 installation rolls this back to the earlier driver which is less unstable. Why not a) fix the driver or b) drop it altogether as it isn't needed, well it wouldn't be if Apple wrote iTunes properly.

Now, add this iTunes 8 issue (admittedly, this particular issue has been somewhat addressed now) with the rest of the iPhone issues, such as almost useless GPS, laggy response times, no capability of uing it as a modem for a laptop, lack of cut and paste, no wireless sync with iTunes, 15 minute maximum before the screen locks, slow 3G speeds in Australia, lots of dropped calls (fixed by firmware 2.02), weak reception indoors, iTunes Store issues that occasionally de-activate the iPhone, making it able to make only emergency calls, MobileMe issues, the fact that despite locking your iPhone, your contacts, web browser cache and other details are available to anyone with a want to find this information and yet more issues, I have to wonder why anyone would actually want to buy an iPhone?

Also, were it Microsoft releasing all of this "additional" functionality without mentioning it (aka the iTunes 8 update), the EU and various other anti-competitive bodies as well as a great many people worldwide would be condemning this. Because it is Apple, it seems to pass by under the radar. Does something smell bad here?


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Volume Licensing Boot Camps

There's been a lot of talk about this next topic, maybe, maybe too much talk. This is not a rebel topic, this is MICROSOFT VOLUME LICENSING BOOT CAMPS!!!

OK, so paraphrasing Bono there may have been in bad taste, but since when I have been Mr Good Taste? :) Anyway, people keep asking for Volume Licensing training, and here's another round of it for us. And for those SBSC members in Perth, Microsoft has not forgotten you - head in to the Microsoft offices in St George's Terrace en masse and remind them that they have a good SMB IT community over there that they need to support, not just their big mining clients.

Speaking of Perth SBSCs, how about you join the ANZ-SMB-ITS and ANZ-SBSC Yahoo! Groups so we can all keep in touch?

Want to build your licensing capabilities and strengthen your understanding of new technologies?

Ingram Micro and Microsoft would like to invite you to attend the first in a new series of Volume Licensing Boot Camps. This series of Boot Camps scheduled for September/October will help build your licensing capabilities in the areas of Open License, Open Value, and strengthen your understanding of Software Assurance, Software Asset Management and Virtualisation. Boot Camps will be run on a quarterly basis with new sessions available each time, and fantastic prizes to be won.

The first sessions are:


24 Sep 2008 8:30AM to 11:00AM AEST

7 Oct 2008 8:30AM to 11:00AM AWST


8 Oct 2008 8:30AM to 11:00AM AEST
9 Oct 2008 8:30AM to 11:00AM AEST

For people in regional areas, there will also be a LiveMeeting (Webinar) on the 5th November from 08:30-11:00 AEST. For further details about the agenda, locations, and to register your attendance, please click here.

Be sure to pass this invitation to other interested parties and peers.

For more Microsoft training, click here
For more information on Volume Licensing, visit the Partner Portal.


The Outspoken Wookie

Intellitron Closes Down

Intellitron, a local Brisbane distributor of various IT products closed its doors last night.

It is with great regret that I announce, effective immediately, Intellitron
has ceased trading. I would like to take this opportunity to thank every
one of you for your support over the many years, and I wish you well for the

Please be aware, any backorders will NOT be processed.

To help you source products you previous purchased through
Intellitron,please contact Jim at XIT Distribution, and he will try to fulfill
your order, and track down your products.
Phone: 3866 5000

Rohan Holt.

I don't know what caused this, but their rather high prices and low variety of product lines may have had something to do with it - on more than one occasion I could buy items at retail prices that were significantly under their wholesale ex tax prices Intellitron offered. I wonder how this bodes for the 155% increase in price of SBS 2008 over SBS 2003?


The Outspoken Wookie

First Full LHC Test A Success

At 10:28 (local) on Sep 10, 2008, the LHC test of sending a proton beam right around the 27km circuit was announced as a success! WOOHOO. This is excellent news. As you may have figured, my business is named after a family of subatomic particles - Quarks - because of the amount of research I had to do on them in 1984 to prove to a science teacher I had that they actually existed and that his knowledge wasn't all-encompassing. Well, Quarks are as real as I am - which now dispels the hope that some people had that I was just a bad figment of their imagination! :)

So, if you have a look at the CERN Press site, you can see the press release as well as a number of pictures of what the control room was like during this initial full test.

Currently they are tuning beam 2 - have a look at the LHC Beam Setup page to see what's being seen by the CERN control room.

Progress towards the first collision is good - we should see the first collision by sometime later this year if all keeps going well and some real results from the LCH in the next year. Things are looking promising for discovering what mass and gravity actually are.


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Response Point Still Not Here

Well, I'm still waiting for my Response Point system to arrive from the 'States. When it arrives, I'll have a look at it and see how functional/useful these are - from all reports, they seem to be rather nice.

I actually had an inquiry for a VoIP system this week where Response Point would have been idea, were it actually available for sale in Australia. There's still no official ETA on this. So I will put a competing product into the quote instead.

Hoping it turns up some time soon - I really do want to see how these things go...


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday Morning (no thanks to Gwen)

Here I sit, broken hearted, tried to... get away earlier, but, well, that's not happened, so I may as well blog! :)

As we all know, I went to both Tech Ed (the WESS Pre-Day) in Sydney last Tuesday as the SBSC PAL and also to the IT Aged Care conference in Melbourne on Thursday as both an IT consultant, a representative of two of our clients, and on behalf of Clipsal Australia and their Vieo platform. It was good catching up in Sydney with a number of the SBSCs from around Australia on the Tuesday (and for dinner on the Monday evening), however I'd like to have spent more time at Tech Ed to get a bit more of a feeling about the SBSC program from those who were staying on for the full event. As your SBSC PAL, if I don't know what you want from the program and how you feel about it thus far, I cannot represent your thoughts and feelings to neither Microsoft Australia nor Microsoft Corp. So...

It seems that Robbie's not alone. From what I hear, Tech Ed US didn't deliver enough technical training to attendees around WESS, it appears as though Tech Ed EMEA has no WESS Pre-Day at all, and as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, it seems that the Virtualization Pre-Day event at Tech Ed AU was also a little light on technical content. So, at least there's something to be positive about - it seemsd that across the board, with a few exceptions (such as the SharePoint Pre-Day at Tech Ed AU), Microsoft worldwide didn't deliver what the attendees expected on a technical level. Robbie's in great company! :)

Now, what was mentioned to me (and from on stage) is that the technical training we received from Wayne Small and Lingan Satkunanathan was right from the Microsoft WESS Level 300 content. This just means that Microsoft, as far as WESS goes, is missing the mark on what we consider Level 300 content to be and what they consider it to be. For what we, the SBSCs, expected from Level 300 content, have a look at this link - sure, it is specifically for support webcasts, but the definitions are still valid. It seems that Microsoft uses a different scale for their WESS content.

One very big positive for Microsoft Australia is that they cared enough about WESS to actually run a Tech Ed Pre-Day event centred around it. That is different from a lot of the rest of the world. This goes to show that some of the people inside Microsoft Australia care enough about us to hold this event, even though the focus may have been off target. Compare us to small, insignificant places like the EU and US, and we're ahead by a fair margin! :)

Robbie has recently blogged that "... it really struck me that far & away the best part of my job is getting to engage with people who see their involvement in this space not just as a job, not even a career, but truly a vocation. Almost a calling if you will..." - it seems that some people in Microsoft are finally "getting" SMB. We're a community, whether Microsoft (or other third parties) recognize this or not. We're a passionate bunch. We often call things as we see them, and this at times will cause a bit of squirming with our suppliers. Microsoft knows this. Acronis knows this. Symantec doesn't care about this. Those companies that recognize we're commenting and caring about their stuff are the companies who will do in this marketplace - those that ignore our comments and feelings will be shunned by the SMB community. It has always been that way and, as far as I can tell, will remain the same for quite some time.

One good example of how we are treated is Microsoft's PSS Callback for SBS. Microsoft no longer cares enough about supporting SBS to actually stay on a call and direct it to someone who can assist - instead they will eventually call back. Eventually may be an hour or four later, but in the mean time we've done due diligence and determined that this is a serious issue, serious enough for us to call PSS and ask them to help us out. We don't call them when we can't work out how to change the background image - we call them once we've Googled, asked around other colleagues, and have a client in dire need of getting this box back and running *now* (not some time after we get a call back). This shows the myopic view of SMB that Microsoft Corp has - it is a bad omen for EBS, Windows Server, Exchange, SQL, BizTalk, CRM, Sharepoint and all of their other products too. If we feel we're being palmed off as insignificant by this treatment, we need to make our voices heard, and that is exactly what your PALs are here for - to represent your concerns and feelings to Microsoft Corp. If we say nothing, we're accepting that this treatment of SBS is a good thing.

I have some other positive news about SMB with respect to Microsoft Australia - they are starting to understand that if we offer feedback (as asked for) over many years and we hear nothing back nor see anything positive from Microsoft (Roadshows being dropped, Support being dropped to call back, etc) then we have no other option to feel as though our feedback is falling on deaf ears. They are starting to understand that we want to take part in ongoing communication with Microsoft Australia to better develop both Microsoft Australia's and our own business strategies in the SMB marketplace. They are starting to take us seriously when we offer input that we've been asked to give and realize that they can no longer ignore us and have us support them for it. They realize that to increase Partner satisfaction scores, they need to increase Partner satisfaction, and ignoring your Partner channel, asking the end users why they have a Small Business IT provider as they are a waste of money is not the way to achieve this. The only way to increase Partner satisfaction is to take the Partners seriously.

So, I'm waiting to hear back on a summary of the recent meeting that a number of SBSCs had with Microsoft at Tech Ed on Tuesday evening, following on from the APC meeting that I blogged about earlier, and will post more about what's happening when all of the attendees have had a chance to check through the summary and offer any relevant input. This is definitely a positive step with respect to the SBSC Program here in Australia and as the Australian SBSC PAL, it is something that I'm glad to have a hand in starting. With any luck, this also means that I can stop using a sledge hammer on Microsoft/Microsoft Australia now that I can see the ball starting to roll and use a mallet instead just to keep it rolling. You never know...


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

WESS Tech Ed Pre-Day Post 4

Robbie just took the stage and explained that he'd heard that people were disappointed in the lack of Level 300 training here at Tech Ed. He also explained that he'd heard that we need info on how to sell SBS/EBS, some info on the install procedure and some presentations from Wayne.

He took responsibility for the content and apologised if we'd not received what we'd expected.

That took balls - good on him.


The Outspoken Wookie

Tech Ed Virtualization Pre-Day

Now, I'm not there, but I'm hearing that there's a lot of Sales and Marketing content to this pre-day event as well that was unexpected. The technical content is rather low-level as well.

Glad to hear (in a way) that this is across the board, so it is an issue that Microsoft Australia as a whole needs to address.

Robbie - when you read this, at least you can feel better about this now! :)


The Outspoken Wookie

WESS Tech Ed Pre-Day Post Lunch

OK, it is now 1:30 PM and we're back from lunch and immediately into EBS Sales stuff - again, I must have missed the "Sales and Marketing Ed" part of Tech Ed. :(

I'm still disappointed by the lack of Level 300 content here.

The coffee's not bad.

Wi-Fi is working well! There's enough signal coverage here that I'm sure there's going to be less nerdy kids in the world - this can only be a good thing! :)

In case anyone wonders, when The Wayne and Robbie did their "SBS+EBS Deep Dive Tour" a few months back, if you attended those, you'd have received the vast majority of the tech info we've revceived here today. So if you went there and didn't make it to the WESS Pre-Day, you've received a fair bit of the training anyway. You just didn't get to network with all of the friendly SBSCers and Partners who've made their way here for the day. :)

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying the day was not worth it - it is a *REALLY* good start to get Tech Ed to recognise the SMB sector, but there needs to be some work put into the technical content for next year's Pre-Day. And yes, if anyone has input on this, we're all ears! I think I mentioned before and I'm saying it again - congrats to Robbie and the SMB team in at Microsoft who have put this day together and managed to get this day up and running. If we're going to have a fair bit of Sales and Marketing content at Tech Ed, I think we also need to be informed before the event - not that the content wasn't valid, just it wasn't technical.


The Outspoken Wookie

VL and FPP Pricing now released

I've just updated my recent SBS 2008 VL pricing post with the new FPP pricing that Robbie just mentioned.


The Outspoken Wookie

Windows Server CALs Made Simple

OK, since The Wayne has said that I have put this info up here, I'd better post it here. The info is actually on our website.

When I get some time (yeah, right - as if THAT is gonna happen) I'll put more info on my website...


The Outspoken Wookie

WESS Tech Ed Pre-Day Post 3

11:07 and The Wayne is now on stage with Lingan, so here's hoping for some tech content to Tech Ed! :)

Basic SBS 2008 installation walkthru... :(

OK, we've also received some other information that's useful, especially The Wayne's "Touching Clients" tips. :) As for what it is, I'll wait for the slide deck so I can remember it. :)

Level 300 tech training? Nope. BUT at least it is a start and Robbie has managed to get to et this event to actually happen. I may not be overly excited by the low level of tech info in this training - mainly overview stuff and such at this point - but we FINALLY had Tech Ed realise SMB exists and needs to be catered for. That is a huge step forward.


The Outspoken Wookie

WESS Tech Ed Pre-Day Post 2

OK, 10:30 and now the Tech part of Tech Ed starts...

So, the next 2h are a deep, deep, deep dive into SBS 2008, after lunch is EBS 2008.

So, first we get Dean Calvert on Selling SBS 2008... how exactly is this "Technical"? Nothing against Dean, but is ths really "Tech Ed" material? Are we at MS Sales and Marketing Ed? It feels that way right now...

Well, Robbie *did* ask for honest and open feedback...


The Outspoken Wookie

SBS 2008 VL Pricing

Robbie Announced SBS 2008 Open Licensing pricing

Product Base Cost (5 CALs)
SBS 2008 Standard $1694
Addidional CALs $120

SBS 2008 Premium $2954
Addidional CALs $294

Remember, SBS 2008 Premium users ONLY need Premium CALs if they use the Premium functionality (basically, SQL).

Compare that to US$1089 for Standard, and you see how overpriced Microsoft Australia still remains, despite hounding from their partners for quite some time now.

And here's the FPP pricing:

T72-02383 Windows Small Bus Server Std 2008 English DVD 5 Clt $1,902 ERP
T75-02411 Windows Small Bus Server Prem 2008 English 2 DVD 5 Clt $3,313 ERP


The Outspoken Wookie

WESS Tech Ed Pre-Day Post 1

Here I sit in the WESS Pre Day. I feel I need to blog.

Robbie gave a good intro to what to expect from the day, found out where people were from, then asked Partners to give honest feedback to Microsoft. Hang on - isn't that what I've been doing and copping flack from inside Microsoft about? Have we ALL been doing this for many years and getting almost totally nowhere? What's changed? He mentioned nothing about what has changed inside Microsoft to allow them to action some of these things they've been hearing for years, yet he asks for honest input. How many of us need to give this before they listen?

I REALLY hope that the attendees here give their honest and open feedback - I have a feeling, from what I've been hearing, that they will be shocked to find out what we, their Partners, think of them. I know I'm going to continue giving this feedback on behalf of both Quark IT and also the SBSC members in Australia as their PAL.

Microsoft - you asked for it, so now you have no right to ask me to tone down what I'm saying. Sorry, but it is now out in the open!

Also, so far, this is APC all over - more Groundhog Day. We've been here for close to 90 minutes now and haven't gone close to anything technical. Sorry Lingan, we know what SBS and EBS are and giving us marketing information IS NOT what Tech Ed was sold to be. There, that's open and honest.

Again, I don't think they quite get it yet.

This means that I have a lot of work to do over the next 10 months and some of it isn't going to be falling on friendly ears, some of it will be harsh, and some of it will be listened to and acted upon. I honestly am doing this only so Microsoft can become a better friend to SMB, so we can work better with Microsot, so our clients can have a better Microsoft experience - basically so we can all do better, make more money, and keep our clients happy.

Why else would I spend my efforts doing this?


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Another call for all Australian and New Zealand SBSCs who are not yet (and there's a fair few who are not) subscribed to the ANZ-SBSC Yahoo! Group to make their way to and sign up for this list. During the signup you will need to submit proof that you are a current SBSC - something like your website with the SBSC logo being displayed will be enough for this.

We don't have access to the list of Australian nor New Zealand SBSCs due to Privacy legislation, so all we can do is keep asking for people to join so contact can be made and the community can be strengthened through discussions on the mailing list.


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, August 30, 2008

APC SBSC Meeting

After a discussion with Inese Kingsmill (Director, Small and Medium Business, Microsoft Australia) on the Tuesday evening at the Australian Partner Conference, she asked if I'd like to get together a few of the SBSCs there and sit down with her and Kathryn Saducas (Breadth Marketing Group Manager, Microsoft Australia) and discuss a number of issues that I raised around APC, SBSC and Microsoft's partner relationship in general. So, as always, I jumped at the chance.

So, on Wednesday afternoon, a group of us sat down with Inese and Kathryn and discussed a number of issues. The main issues raised were as follows:
  • the PAMs are about as interested in talking to a Certified/Gold Partner who focuses in the SMB market as a fish is interested in learning to ride a bicycle
  • the dire lack of real content at the APC (and also the WPC). A few sessions were good, the rest was Groundhog Day (actually, a fairly contentless Groundhog Day)
  • the SBSC program up until now has been basically worthless and this needs to change
  • what ever happened to the Partner Roadshows - they at least showed that Microsoft cared somewhat about their partner channel
Now, as I live in the real world, I know that what we discussed here has already been discussed a number of times in the past with various people in Microsoft by myself and a number of others including attendees at this meeting. I know that a number of us (SBSCs) have attended one or more SBSC RoundTable and really not yet seen any results from these. I also know that a number of people in Microsoft may well be sick and tired of hearing these issues raised time and time again.

Well we're going to have to keep raising these issues with Microsoft until we get sick of it and either move to an Apple/Linux world for ourselves and our clients, we get tired of it and give in, or until we see some progress. I have no intention of giving in at all and will keep trying until I see some progress (and then keep going until Microsoft is continuing down the right paths)!

Now, those of us who were involved in this meeting who are going to the WESS Pre-Day at Tech Ed have been invited to a follow-up meeting to discuss progress on these issues. Hear that - to discuss progress. That means we're going to be finding out how far Microsoft Australia has managed to move in the last 3 weeks. I don't care if it is a femtometer, as long as there's been some forward progress then I'll be happy to know that we're actually making some positive changes in at Microsoft Australia.

So, as your SBSC PAL, I've been tying to bring to Microsoft Australia the issues that I've been hearing from you. I have another 10 months to keep doing this and I hope not only to keep hearing from you (and more of you than I currently hear from - there's about 500 SBSCs here in Australia and a whole 15 or so have responded to my requests for information and input - quite a dismal and underwhelming rate) about what issues you're having with the SBSC program, but I also hope to make some headway in making the program relevant to the SBSCs ourselves as well as our SMB marketplace. I also intend to try and make some headway in at Microsoft Licensing, Microsoft Virtualization and Microsoft Media Centre so that these products can all be improved generally, and especially for the SMB market.

I will post again with the results of the follow-up meeting. I hope to post a positive review of that meeting.


The Outspoken Wookie

Password Related Vulnerabilities

Hi All,

There have been a number of vulnerabilities announced recently by iViZ that affect a number of products. These issues are either motherboard BIOS password bypass vulnerabilities, boot loader security model password vulnerabilities (using similar techniques) or disk encryption password vulnerabilities.

The worst reaction to these vulnerabilities was, unfortunately, from the Open Source Software product TrueCrypt (that I know a number of us use), however they have addressed these vulnerabilities in their latest release. A number of vendors have acknowledged these vulnerabilities and are working on fixes. Some have already been fixed.

So, if you use a motherboard, a boot loader or a disk encryption product, please have a look at this site and see if your and/or your clients’ systems may be affected by these issues.


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Feedin' Time

OK, so I'm happy now. I tried earlier to get the Jungle Pythons to eat a fuzzy rat, bot no luck. Then I tried a few days later with a pinkie rat and still no joy. Not that it is really a concern, they could easily go a few more weeks without issue, but I'd like to feed them before Tech Ed! :)

So, when I came home from the VMWare User Group tonight (a presentation by Quest Software about their VDI offerings) I found the yellower of the Jungles all ready to feed, so I thawed out a pinkie and it was snapped up without a second thought. Woohoo! :) Now, I did the same to the paler of the Jungles and after a bit of coaxing, the pinkie was accepted. Excellent! :)

Now, I have the Bredli in the large vivarium with a heat mat under the lid of the hide and all seems good - he's been wandering around the viv, exploring, and spending time both on and in the hide as well as elsewhere. All looks good there. He'll easily be right to wait until after I get back from the SBS Pre-Day at Tech in Sydney on Monday and Tuesday of next week and the Aged Care IT conference in Melbourne on Wednesday and Thursday next week.

Now, I have to make a decision quickly about SMB Nation '08/STS-125 as time's running out...


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Should I Be Concerned?

Now that I have both the yearling Jungle Pythons and also the Centralian (Bredli) that Simon dropped off to me this morning, he decides to send me this link - now, I wonder - should I be concerned? :)

OK, so the yearlings are about 60 cm long or so and the Bredli is about 1 m long. I've got a while yet before they decide to eat me.



The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Trend Micro Products Web Management Authentication Bypass

According to Secunia, there has been a recent vulnerability in the Trend Micro products listed below that has been announced and patches have been released to address this vulnerability in OfficeScan 8.0 and WFBS 5.0 - the other products remain compromised and patches should be available shortly. The following products are affected:

  • Trend Micro OfficeScan 7.0
  • Trend Micro OfficeScan 7.3
  • Trend Micro OfficeScan 8.0
  • Worry-Free Business Security 5.0
  • Trend Micro Client/Server/Messaging Suite 3.5
  • Trend Micro Client/Server/Messaging Suite 3.6

    NOTE: Other versions may also be affected.

The severity rating of this vulnerability is "Moderately critical" because of the possibility for Trend's security to be bypassed from a compromised system on the local network.


The Outspoken Wookie

MFP Insecurity Woes...

Company data is a sensitive thing - or at least should be. We try to ensure our clients' data is as safe as it can be, within reason, yet as usable as it can be - and unfortunately these two needs are often diametrically opposed, so we need to make some compromises on both fronts.

We ensure that we securely wipe client hard drives before handing them on - to the point of dismantling the drives and shattering the platters where sensitive personal or secure information is concerned. We lock down our networks with firewalls. We run antimalware applications. We limit administrator rights to desktops. We employ NTFS security on files and folders. Do we look at the information on MFPs (Multi-Function Printers) before we pass them on to others?

Apparently a number of companies don't. Dick Morrell, a well known UK security bod has done some testing of this himself with the results which can be found here.

A little thinking outside the square here, but as the people responsible for our clients' data (in many circumstances), we need to do that. We need to think ahead and think like security people not network people. Unfortunately, this is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people. It is something we all need to work on in the SMB IT industry.


The Outspoken Wookie

Fedora Servers Breached

A number of the servers running the Fedora project - the Open Source Redhat Linux project - were recently compromised. The servers were taken offline as soon as the breach was noticed and have been under investigation since.

More information can be found at and


The Outspoken Wookie

Where Will You Be October 4th?

SMB Nation 2008 Fall Conference to Hold Launch Party: Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server 2008.

MarketPlace Expo SOLD OUT!

Seattle, WA – August 22, 2008 - Boasting a completely sold out tradeshow hall and host hotel, SMB Nation 2008 will hold a Small Business Server 2008 (SBS) and Essential Business Server (EBS) LAUNCH PARTY on the Saturday night of its October 4-6, 2008 annual conference in Seattle. A 58’ Hatteras yacht will be christened the M.V. SBS 2008 on the pier at the party.

“With the SBS 2008 release-to-manufacturing (RTM) yesterday, we are thrilled to be timed perfectly for the SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 products debut and look forward to toasting its great success,” said Harry Brelsford, founder and CEO of the 20,000 member SMB Nation. “Our conference is uniquely positioned to motivate and educate the small and medium business (SMB) technology consultant, channel partner and computer guy and gal!”

SMB Nation 2008 appears to be outperforming similar technology events with the complete sellout of the MarketPlace Expo tradeshow hall and with attendance figures ahead of last year. “We believe the 600+ attendees will be treated to a unique educational experience and BE THERE for the start for the next generation of SBS and the first release of EBS!” Brelsford added. Over three busy days and nights, attendees will select from three (3) academic tracks including BusinessSpeak, GeekSpeak and “How To” that provide bona fide content without “being sold to.” SMB Nation 2008 has even added a “Speakers Behaving Badly” hotline where attendees can report any speaker from the 40+ content sessions that make commercial statements to insure the most pure attendee experience possible. “We want to avoid the wolf in sheep clothing phenomena,” emphasized Brelsford.

Sponsors and attendees will meet in the spacious Bell Harbor Conference Center. “At a time when similar technology shows are behind plan, we are ahead of plan” said Brelsford. “We believe this underscores the strength of the SMB segment and the optimism our sponsors have about the SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 opportunity.” Intel and Trend Micro are the platinum sponsors leading the event followed by HP and Microsoft. Gold sponsors include Autotask, CMIT Solutions, Aastra, SonicWall and Labtech. Silver sponsors include D&H, The Planet, Connectwise, Citrix, N-able, Reflexion, Tigerpaw Software, Nero, 19Marketplace, Symantec, StorageCraft, Acronis, Calyptix, MaxSP, Doyenz, EMC Retrospect, Quanta\Syspine, Zenith Infotech, Linked In, Backup Assist, CRU DataPort and WatchGuard. Bronze sponsors include Netgear, Untangle, CTL Computers, Level Platforms (LPI), MSP Partners, Linksys by Cisco, Comcast, Diskeeper, Expetec, New Global Telecom (NGT), Pronto Marketing, eFolder, CoreConnex, Highly Reliable Systems, SMB Books & Results Software, Technology Marketing Toolkit, Napera Networks, Independent Computer Consultants Association (ICCA) and Integrated

Attendees can expect a high-quality conference with content that has been rigorously scrutinized by esteemed industry conference chairs (Dana Epp, Mikael Nystrom, Curt Hicks and Joe Moore). That has resulted in outstanding speaker selections such as Jeff Middleton, Susan Bradley, Ramon Ray and Amy Babinchak and popular topics such as How to Sell Your SBS\SMB Consulting Practice and Security in SBS 2008.

“So the last question is this. Where will you be October 4-6, 2008?” concluded Brelsford. Attendees can learn more and register at

About SMB Nation
Founded ten years ago by Small Business Server author Harry Brelsford, Bainbridge Island, Washington-based SMB Nation supports small and medium business technology consultants to improve their business and technical skills with publications (books, SMB PC magazine) and events (SMB Nation conferences and workshops). SMB Nation boasts worldwide tribal membership in 30+ countries exceeding 20,000 consultants, resellers, VARs\VAPs and channel partners. Harry Brelsford is a Microsoft Small Business Specialist (SBSC) and holds an MBA from the University of Denver in addition to MCSE, MCT, MCP, CNE, CLSE and CNP certifications.

Harry Brelsford
CEO, SMB Nation

Friday, August 22, 2008

Microsoft to support VMWare under SVVP

Microsoft and VMWare have finally finished the prep work to get VMWare signed up under the Microsoft Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP). The SVVP enables third party virtualization vendors to validate various configurations so that customers of Windows Server can receive technical support from Microsoft in virtualized environments. Customers with validated solutions will benefit from the support provided by Microsoft as a part of the regular Windows Server technical support framework.

Now, this is great news for SBS 2008 users in particular because of one serious oversight by the Hyper-V team. As most virtualization users are aware, Microsoft Virtual PC and Virtual Server cannot present USB devices natively to guest environments whereas VMWare Workstation and VMWare Server both are able to do this. Now, move to true Hypervisor virtualization and VMWare ESXi and ESX both allow you to see USB devices attached to the host. Hyper-V does not.

The issue here with SBS 2008 is that the SBS team decided to support only USB devices as SBS 2008 backup destinations. This means that this cannot work properly in a Hyper-V environment. Big oops there! At least the SBS Team listened to the logic of their beta testers and changed this so that they will natively support USB, but also allow you to use another device with a drive letter (unfortunately, not a UNC path which would have made the most sense). This is still an issue as you are not able to write to a device that is "shared" from the Hyper-V instance as this will breach the "Host+Hyper-V can only be used to host guests, not provide any other services such as DHCP, DNS, AD, File & Print Sharing, etc" restriction that is in the $28 Core+Hyper-V product and also Windows Server 2008 Standard.

So, with VMWare now being added to the SVVP list of vendors, if (and assuming) ESXi is a product that is validated, this means that SMBs will be able to run ESXi as their Hypervisor, SBS 2008 inside that, have USB devices plugged into the server presented to the SBS instance and have this fully supported by Microsoft.

Isn't it a shame Microsoft failed to get Hyper-V right?


The Outspoken Wookie