Thursday, September 30, 2004

How to Synchronize SBS2003 Premium with an External Time Source

Nice little article over at isaserver.org on How to Synchronize SBS2003 Premium with an External Time Source. Check it out as this is something that may interest quite a few.

Amy Babinchak was interested in this and did the research because a client needed I believe a time/billing app to have the right time according to her post in a Yahoo SBS group. Thanks for taking the time to research this for us Amy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Small Biz Pipeline says SOHO Anti-Spam Appliance Needed

Today John Dickinson says that a SOHO Anti-Spam Appliance Needed. I agree although I use Trend's anti-spam product that comes with their C/S/M product on an SBS 2003 server and it works like a champ.

But in areas where that is not the case, such as peer to peer then a SOHO appliance is definitely needed. Well John if you were at SMBnation you would have seen Deep Six Technologies that very soon will come out with such an appliance. It's a little white box (or was at the conference) that can be plugged in. Runs on Linux and setup is about 5 minutes. Don't have any pricing as of yet, but word is it will be very aggressive. No doubt others will come along but it's a step in the right direction.

CNet video on RSS feeds

Still trying to wrap your head around RSS and what exactly it is and how you can use it? CNET has posted a video about it. Thanks to Scobleizer for the link and information.

Getting information at your discretion and being able to quickly sort through news and information is tremendous and the big advantage of RSS feeds. If you're like me when you read the newspaper you scan headlines and look for relevant information or just something that strikes your fancy. RSS feeds allow you to quickly do this and perhaps you're reading this as a result!

Reports for CRM

Do you have Microsoft CRM? Microsoft posted on its download site a Report Pack for Microsoft CRM that is a set of six reports based on Microsoft CRM version 1.2 and a sample database.

This is definitely one of the strengths of Microsoft CRM. Since it sits on SQL and uses this effectively with Crystal Reports it is very accessible to get custom reports that you want for your sales or service teams.

Check out the samples.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Motorola MPx220 -- Motorola's Heavy Hitter

You can now sign up for updates on Motorola's new MPx220 Smartphone coming out soon. This phone may be the one that changes the way people look at phones.

It includes Microsoft's new Smartphone Operating System. Why should an SBS'er care about this? Well if you carry this puppy around and check your email at a glance on the display after synching with your SBS 2003/Exchange 2003 Server don't you think people will start to notice and ask you...."Where did you get that phone?" Easy segway to hand out a business card and sell a mobile solution.

I know that in the smartphone web sites that I monitor in the US this phone has a large contingent ready to order already. Although it doesn't include wi-fi new phones similar to this are said to be including that by end of year or early next year. Mobility will really change once these things start to catch on.

Sign up today to see where and when they come out.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Updated SBS docs

Looks like some new versions of some SBS docs that you should get your hands on and update your SBS reference binders. You do have one right?

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=013027ac-8544-461b-a176-9eff46d49aa4

This document describes the key features and capabilities of Microsoft® Windows® Small Business Server 2003 and discusses how they benefit small business customers, value added resellers, service partners, IT professionals, system builders, independent software vendors (ISVs), and (OEMs).

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=487736f8-f6f5-436d-a82d-0c8d66e2a634

Windows Small Business Server 2003 provides a reliable way to perform regular server backups for small companies. After a system failure or other disaster, you can restore your server from your latest backup. You can also restore individual files and e-mail messages.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=fa187d1e-8218-4501-9729-222bd8ebb64c

This document describes the process for migrating from Small Business Server 2000 or Windows 2000 Server to Windows Small Business Server 2003. If you are migrating from Small Business Server 4.5 or from Windows NT Server 4.0, see the Microsoft Web site.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=a1d0af69-1287-4225-bd8b-59c89f44984b

This document provides step-by-step instructions for moving each of the data folders for Windows Small Business Server 2003.

Chamber of Commerce Idea

Today our Chamber of Commerce had what I thought was a forward thinking idea. They have started a discussion group called TechNet (no affiliation to Microsoft) where anyone dealing with technology or interested in it can get together once a month to discuss items.

Today was the first meeting and I was pleasantly surprised to see more business technology people there than actual competitors of ours or technology providers. Usually it's just the opposite. There was quite a dialog about how we can further the knowledge of technology in our Chamber and therefore in our City/County in Michigan. Also, it was quite interesting to hear the pain that small business owners and techies by default (you know the ones that are given the job because they can install software) are going through. Also, what came out loud and clear was that they are tired of salespeople that are selling the big markup item and not the solution.

Good reminder for all of us working with Small Businesses. Sell to the pain. One gentleman just wants to do bulk mailing or mail merges effectively. Not a big thing for techies but it is for someone who runs a business. Overall I think this format has real potential to educate us all about what can we do for each other.

Check out your local Chamber and maybe you can start something like this as well.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

SBS Exam guide

This item has come up recently in some of the SBS lists but here is a link to the Microsoft Preparation Guide for Exam 70-282. Exam 70-282 is the exam for SBS and rolling out network solutions to small and medium sized businesses.

There is the official Microsoft Curriculum that you can go and cover as well which is course 2395. However, currently there is no book to cover the exam prep. Come on somebody has to create a book for this soon...and no don't say yours truly. Although I could put up a web site with some facts and figures for studying for the exam....hmmmm.

On the lighter side...

Got bad breath? Reuters.com reports on a new phone that will alert you to bad breath.

Man I can't wait until my Microsoft smartphone will smell my breath and brush my teeth when I need it to! :)

SBSMigration.com

Just had to give a shout out with kudos to SBS MVP Jeff Middleton again.

Jeff is working on a "swing" migration theory to upgrade NT, WIN2K, and SBS machines out there in the wild with just about 0 downtime. Great for a small firm that only has a couple of employees or a consultant that is tired of working the weekends.

Check out his site at http://www.sbsmigration.com. Jeff sounds like he's producing content that will be able to be purchased by consultants, resellers, and end users. If it saves me an hour of time it'll be worth the price of admission!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

SMBNation Top 10

OK Well here it is in my best David Letterman impersonation, my top 10 list for SMBNation.

10. Alan Billharz, Microsoft SBS Developer gave a nice technical presentation on SBS 2003. For instance did you know you can use Regedit and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\SmallBusinessServer\RemoteUserPortal to change the RWW port or change the timeout value. Also you can enter your own key, ExcludeList - which is a reg hack to exclude computers from RWW. This is a Comma Delimited List.

9. Susan Bradley is still the Diva or more appropriately the "Queen" of SBS and the SBS Community. Susan lives, breaths, and I think even eats SBS and just about everyone in the conference (Microsoft personnel included) respects any opinion or knowledge that Susan has. But what makes the conference strong is that Susan and others such as Marie McFadden of Microsoft PSS are just as "huggable" as they are of filling your brain with knowledge of SBS. In the spirit of the Caribbean party, right on 'mon.

8. Chales Anthe (Microsoft SBS Release Mgr) officially announces SBS SP1 to be released 1st half of 2005 and it'll include the following.

Windows Server 2003 SP1

XP SP2

Exchange Server 2003 SP1

ActiveSync 3.7.1

MSDE SP4

Outlook SP1

GPMC SP1

SQL 2000 SP4 (Premium)

ISA 2004 (Premium)

7. Anne Stanton gave a presentation on The Art of Doing Business in the "S"MB Space.
One interesting point was regarding time tracking. How many people track their non-billable time? Why would you want to spend time tracking non-billable time? Accurate Cost analysis plain and simple. Good point that I'm going to definitely consider.

6. Susan Bradley's Hacks were well received as well. From the slidedeck one that hits home to a lot is Alan Billhartz’s robot exclusion. If you Google on “Remote Web Workplace” you'll be surprised to see implementations of RWW out there for all to see. Definitely a best practice for all of us to do!

5. The Haitian Rum at the Caribbean party had a nice bite to it! I'm sure there will be some blackmail pics of tech geeks dancing coming out soon.

4. The UK Microsoft Partner program has some great "grass roots" ideas such as seminar in a box and other items that really any business could use as an example. John Coulthard, director of Microsoft UK Small Business gave a great presentation and pretty funny one at that with his witty view of UK vs. US.

3. Unique ideas from John Coulthard, Microsoft UK Director of Small Business on partnering with specific companies. For instance, moving companies, have you thought of being their technology arm? Special thanks to SBS'er Alan Helbush with this idea and the practicality of it as well!

2. Jeff Middleton, a very well respected SBS MVP, documented the SBS Swing Migration Method. This was a presentation that most were looking forward to. Keep an eye on Jeff's recently created web site for more information or Harry Brelsford's new SBS 2003 advanced book where it'll be documented.

1. SMB Community Interaction. The entire conference was centered around talking to SBS MVPs, other technology providers, and technology professionals. As a whole because we are small businesses ourselves we are more prone to share marketing secrets and other vital items to keep us going. This is worth the price of admission alone. And for a mini SMBNation every month check out your local SBS User Group that will promote these same things all year long!


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Microsoft Big Bus is improved...

At our last Microsoft Connections event word was out that Microsoft was attaching a Big Bus, RV, Semi, whatever, with the event. Well today Steve points to a blog that has pics of the traveling show.

From what we were told at the last Connections tour, Microsoft is looking for a way for Techs and Small Businesses to actually SEE and get hands on with the products as when this happens the sell rate goes up incrementally. I totally agree as seeing is believing.

Here's to hoping that this will give SBS a nice push in the "Grass Roots" area!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Need Wireless far from a power Outlet?

D-Link last week announced a new Wireless Access Point that features power Over ethernet. This is a newer technology for wireless access points that allows you to put that far away wireless access point in a place that doesn't have power.

Recently a colleague mentioned he's putting wireless with power over ethernet in a marina. Just one example of where wireless can now go! Combine that thinking with today's USA Today article on business wireless uses and you see a real business value to having wireless in just about anywhere that people collect.

SMBNation 2005

As I sit here in the SEA-TAC airport waiting to go back to Michigan (and the Ryder Cup!) I'm reading my email through the wireless connection and found out that Harry Brelsford emailed the tentative dates for SMBNation 2005......drum roll please.....they are Sept. 9-11, 2005 in Seattle again.

Judging from the growth of this years conference from 105 at Indy last year to 230 here in Seattle and from a handful of vendors (HP was there) to a whole other room and overflow, I would think next year's event would grow as well again by 2X considering how many I've heard said they wanted to come but either heard late or had other items come up.

One thing that I think Harry could definitely get some more buy in from is the Microsoft SBS team. Some were definitely a little surprised that Microsoft's SBS team just wasn't all over this event as you had over 200 techs that live and breath SBS 2003. Don't get me wrong, there were Microsoft personnel there and some did give presentations but they just weren't as visible as I thought they would be.

Overall however, it's about interaction with others that do the same thing as you and suffer right with you and this year the conference again didn't disappoint as the breakouts and nightly chats provided much insight into SBS and Small Business Technology all over the world.

Watch for my top 10 from SMBNation as I review my notes and slide decks.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

ISA 2004 on a second server from SBS and Microsoft's thinking

Charlie and Guy from the SBS teams in Redmond are in a discussion of SBS SP1 right now and a big discussion has centered on ISA 2004 and can or will there be plans to break out ISA to a separate server. This is a big NO. According to their research they only have 6% of SMB's that have more than one server. So the added expense is not a viable thing for most SMB's. I agree with that since most can't even get fully off or want to get off of Win98. The SBS team appears to not be concerned with this right now because of market share and research.

There definitely appears to be a different segment of SMB's and those that support them. The first is those that use a $49 Linksys router and the second perhaps is those that have 30-50 PC's and want a beefier box for security. ISA Server appliances are now starting to appear as well from such vendors as HP and others but then those will cost you $2-$3K.

That's why I've settled on things like a Sonicwall device that for under $800 will give a better security defense than a cheap SOHO router but may still have flaws.

Oh well, life ain't perfect folks but we're trying!

HIS and Arlin - Day 3 at SMBNation

Day 3 at SMBNation has just started and a big thanks to Arlin Sorensen and his companyHeartland Technology Solutions. He gave his experience of going from a one person firm to bigger with more than 40 persons now.

Missed Susan Bradley's talk on SBS Hacks (sorry Susan) but Arlin's Q&A and down home experience is great. Also, thanks for mentioning the blog...I hope it helps or just gives someone a different perspective from their own or some new insight (not that I have anything special to say).

It's always interesting to see how people go from one person consultant shops to full blown businesses.

We're small businesses ourselves so that's why we understand the pain of small businesses and hopefully how technology can improve their lot in life!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Shinder Presents ISA Server 2004 Firewall Kits and Guides

Great resource for ISA 2004! Tom Shinder a MVP for ISA Server and Security expert just presented a thorough coverage of ISA 2004. At the end he gave the URL for his ISA 2004 firewall kits that probably can describe anything better than I could ever blog about.

Check it out, I'll definitely do it later.

Partner Engagement Program for Small Business

Here's the link to the newly announced USA Partner Engagement Program for Small Business. Get your partner information on SBS and see how you can deploy SBS and XP and Office 2003 for additional revenue opportunities.

The official launch looks like it will be in October but take a look!

SBS Report Card

Here's the notes from today's second session on SBS One Year Report Card and SBS USA Product Marketing Items.


Eugene Ho - SBS Product Development

In the first 8 months 270% more units of SBS 2003 shipped vs SBS 2000
More customers purchased SBS 2003 in the first 4 mos than entire first year of SBS 2000

SBS SP1 - first half of '05. First time I've heard first half.
XP SP2 will be rolled out as the baseline client for SBS SP1.

Planning stage for next version of SBS. "Cougar"
Also include solutions for partners to manage all installed SBS installations.


Erika Smith -- SBS PM for US
Partner Marketing Opportunities with SBS

Small Business Technology Makeover
Launching Nov 1st.
Offer SMB a $75K tech "extreme" makeover. Push through all partners this year.
New program first announced here at SMBNation.

Partner Engagement Program for Small Business
New Site Live for SMB yesterday for program.
http://members.microsoft.com/partner/usa/pep/smallbusiness

Extending SBS

Dean Paron an SBS Lead Program Manager and Alan Billharz a PM with the Microsoft SBS Dev team gave the first talk at SMBNation this morning. Here's some of my notes:

Dean's talk
Can you put RWW in standard products…NO
Can you move Sharepoint sites in SBS to standard products….YES
Simple things to do with Sharepoint…apply theme and make it look different than regular site.
Sees a lot of Sharepoint extranets.
Take a look at Sharepointcustomization.com for more ideas.


Alan Billharz takes care of RWW and Sharepoint PM from Microsoft
How does RWW work?
1. asp.net for Authentication and Timeout
2. Cookies for Settings and authentication.
3. TS Proxy, ActiveX, and port 4125.
Interesting side comment...How did they choose port 4125 for RWW?
Did it arbitrarily! They actually used the months of their birthday's for figuring out port 4125! Funny SBS Dev fact.
Gotta watch out for those wacky DEV guys!

Alan showed some cool web hacks for RWW as well.
Regedit at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\SmallBusinessServer\RemoteUserPortal
Change RWW port or actually force whether or not you allow trusted computers (that little check box on the bottom of the RWW login page)
Timeout for RWW is included as well in the hacks.
ExcludeList - little known reg hack to exclude computers from RWW. You can make it comma delimited List. For instance if my computer was tpatterson, I would put that in and my computer would not show up in the RWW connect computer page.

Good Morning from Seattle

Starting Day 2 from SMBNation. Last night was the Caribbean night at Harry's house on Bainbridge Island. Great house and we had an awesome time, meeting and greeting everyone. Nice to see that geeks can have fun as well as fixing an SBS installation. The band was great and man if you ever get the chance to drink some Haitian Rum, be careful, it stings going all the way downnnn!

Getting ready for the new day with Dean Paron of the SBS development team, who was a great keynote speaker last year. I'll try and post after each talk with the highlights of the talks. Some have asked about .ppt's or downloads for those not attending and all I can say is why aren't you here? OK with that done, Harry has a videographer here, so watch out for the DVD coming to a smbnation.com website near you!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Livingston talks about Anti-Phishing

Brian Livingston of windowssecrets.com fame is giving the Keynote for SMBNation and is talking about the state of the computer industry. Unfortunately phishing is one big problem right now. Brighton mentioned the Anti-Phishing Working Group web site. Amazing that there was 1442 unique attacks in June 2004 and it is growing at 52% per month. Also, although we think that most of these phishing sites might be overseas but 27% are in the US!

Definitely one thing that all of us in the SMB area need to inform and instruct our clients, users, etc to these facts and make sure we warn them of the possible fraud associated with these items.

Small Business Sales and Marketing Toolkit - Partners - Microsoft UK

John Coulthard of Microsoft UK is here and presenting later. He just mentioned a web site that I've looked at previously but for users and partners definitely take a look at on Small Business Technology and SBS. It's the Small Business Sales and Marketing Toolkit. Nice stuff! Check it out and download the guides and .pdf's.

TS2 at SMBNation and Microsoft Across America

Just a reminder as I sit in the TS2 presentation at SMBNation that Microsoft puts on several technology seminars no doubt in your area. You can go to Microsoft Across America for more information.

Getting a nice preview of ISA 2004 is one of the things that Technet is going on right now. But just a reminder not to install on SBS 2003 until SBS 2003 Service Pack 1 comes out.

All I can say is that I don't want to be a TS2 presenter in front of a bunch of tech geeks. The presenter can't get in a word sometimes because we all know the product and how we use it. Plus he's condensing 4 hrs to 2 hrs.

The TS2 demo DVD is also full of knowledge as well. I watched part of it on the flight to Seattle and if you want to know more about security solutions and other items for SBS definitely go to TS2 if for nothing else the DVD.

Dilberts sums it up pretty good!

I thought that this Dilbert Comic Strip summed up some of the SMBNation time pretty good. We all remember some of the names of others through newsgroups and listserves and the like but we aren't really sure if we should go right up to them and "reintroduce" ourselves.

What silly tech geeks we are.

Oh Ichiro!

Well the first unofficial event of SMBNation is down. Last night was a great night at Safeco field here in Seattle as alot of SMBNation folks got together and sat in the Right Field boxes. Seattle actually won and Ichiro collected 2 more hits trying to break a long time MLB record for hits in a season. Check out the headlines and box score here.

It was fun talking to Dean and Stuart of Australia SBS fame about how American Baseball works. Sorry Stuart, there are no cheerleaders!

We heard that Harry Brelsford the event organizer was around but he and other SBS "higher ups" were in an exclusive "SBS" suite somewhere secluded at Safeco, probably doing Lord knows what. Maybe one day my company will grow up and be invited to that but nonetheless sitting with everyone talking about SBS and our companies was great, although this time change thing is still kicking my butt a little bit.

Well it's off to the TS2 presentation this morning and then the Keynote...more blogging to come as we have wireless access here at the Hotel.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Microsoft to Release Virtual Server 2005

Paul Thurrott says that Microsoft will soon Release Virtual Server 2005

This might be something for all of you out there that are stuck with legacy apps that can't run on SBS 2003 natively. Get a beefy server and run VS 2005 with NT or whatever flavor of OS you need and get yourselves up to the benefits of SBS 2003 right away. From initial tests that I've heard the product is rock solid and works great out of the box.

For those of you not familiar with VS 2005 it allows you to run a complete Virtual Network Server on top of another server that you have. Thus you could run NT 4.0 on a box that has SBS 2003 running on it.

I made it to Seattle

Well after a nice refreshing 4 1/2 hour flight I'm in Seattle for the first time for SMBNation. Looking at the conference schedule I'll be busy.

I'm staying at the Red Lion Hotel like most everybody else so if you're around, feel free to visit and say hi.

I'll be trying to blog about the conference and each session I'm in for those of you out there that unfortunately can't come.

Oh yeah and by the way, GO ICHIRO...I'm heading to the Mariners game tonight as a conference extra.
I'm sitting in Section 108 row 33 seat 17 if anyone wants to buy me a beer and say hi!

Tavis

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Were you traveling this holiday weekend?

On the way back from my folks in Illinois this 3 day weekend, ok so it was a little longer for me, but I got in some great golf, and I noticed that the Michigan welcome center I usually pass now has a sign showing wireless Internet access. Michigan has begun an initiative called MiWiFi that brings Wireless Internet to State Parks, Marinas, Rest Areas and Welcome Centers

Pretty cool stuff. I tell you that it is nice to know that if I need to I can stop at several places and get Internet access. Now the only problem is getting that dang price down from $7.95 for 24 hours. If you're at the state park or campground then I understand the price..but if you're at a welcome center or rest stop for that long they would probably arrest you for loitering or trying to spy on little kids or something. Who stays at a rest stop for 24 hours? I want 15 minutes to check my email and then be on my way. I don't think it'll fly too much for that price. Come on Michigan, make it free! That'll really make up for the horrible roads we have up here.

At those prices, it would just make sense to use your wireless data provider such as TMobile and spend $20/month for unlimited data access. It may not be as fast as wi-fi but then again I wouldn't have to stop either.

Oracle's New App Server Targets Midmarket

CRN today talks about Oracle's New App Server release that Targets Midmarkets. What's weird about this is that it says it targets squarely against SBS in the midmarket space? OK somehow I think someone's wires got crossed.

I think midmarket is a relative term and midmarket to Oracle probably is a whole lot bigger than I'm certainly thinking. Priced at $4,995 per CPU for this standard edition is a whopping price. Now don't get me wrong...I haven't seen the product or even tried to as of yet. But at $4,995 that's over $3K more than SBS Premium with just 1 CPU and $8K with 2 CPU's...ouch!!

Somehow I think that by design Oracle is trying to hit a bigger market than SBS is designed for. For specialty Oracle apps and other db apps, perhaps this will work but SBS has so much included for a great price that this just seems ludicrous, especially for larger small businesses.

Well I guess time will tell but I won't be out running to get a demo copy of Oracle App Server 10g soon. Perhaps the "g" stands for generous, as in the cost!