Tuesday, November 30, 2004

RocketVault your SBS install

Intradyn is a company that specializes in Data Protection for SBS installations and is keying in on the fact that SBS is such a big hit and growing ever popular. This week they announced that the new version of software for their RocketVault Appliance (version 2.1) will allow for online remote backups of SQL and Exchange.

I have had clients in the past use USB drives as a way to backup their SBS system and then some client drives as well. For the beginning some of $1495 the Rocketvault might just be the thing to look at for your backup needs. There is no question that disk outperforms tape in just about every way but in an emergency or disaster situation you can't beat a tape for it's ease of use in taking offsite. At one client the secretary puts yesterday's tapes (2-DDS4's) in her purse and carries them around so that in the event of an emergency she's always got them. (OK don't get me started on security but anyway you get my point.)

So what do YOU need to do...well that the key, YOU need to review with your IT pro what the pros/cons are and then decide on a backup that everyone likes. The RocketVault might just be the kicker, I know I'll start looking into it.

Do you really understand hacking?

Are you really interested in how a hacker operates? In the newest version of Technet magazine Dr. J. shows how a criminal can infiltrate your network. Please note that this article is definitely for the techy pepeople out there.

As a small business owner what might you keep in mind? That all of these items to me highlight the need for a valued professional that cares for your network. And no that doesn't include your brother's uncle's 14 year old son -- he's probably the hacker anyway :).

A Forrester research poll recently put out shows that the number 1 thing that SMB's will spend on IT next year is Security. There are a lot of security initiatives out there but it starts again with your users. Why do I say this? Because for every hacker out there is the technician that sticks his username and complex password on a sticky on his monitor. In small business we don't usually get targeted but we get the side affects from other highly known viruses, etc.

Well whether your an owner or a tech take a look at Dr. J's article to understand a little more about security.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Want More Security? Get a Microsoft Fingerprint Reader

I was just over at Sam's Club doing a little shopping after a nice weekend away and noticed something that I was VERY interested in. It's a Microsoft Fingerprint Reader that is only $40.

Needless to say I picked one up and I'll being playing with it. What better way to really secure your laptop or desktop than with a fingerprint reader. This will give you the best of both worlds. Why not have a super strength long password or passphrase that you don't have to remember and then add this little beauty on so that all you have to do is put your finger on it and go.

This is definitely a step in the right direction for the little guy and small business. Microsoft has been beating the Security drum for the past year or longer but to me this is a cost effective sure way to make sure that security happens.

Honestly I can't see any real drawbacks for a small business by using something like this that is only $40. If you can come up with some please let me know and post a comment. I'm sure there are some out there that will show how unsecure this is. But to me it's a BIG step in the right direction and something that everyone should consider.

I haven't played with it yet but if you require both a password AND a thumbprint then security more than doubles in my mind. Now granted I say all of this without using the device but hey if it's in SAM'S CLUB then to me it's sound security guidance for the small biz.

Check it out and let me know your opinions.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Struggling with printing from your PocketPC

One of the most frustrating things of using a PocketPC is that you sometimes need to get information out in a quick way out of your PocketPC and into a hard format, perhaps for a presentation or the like. One thing that might help is the HP Mobile Printing for Pocket PC download that you can get directly from the HP website. The HP website can be very overwhelming and so I don't have too many people that have Ipaq's even know about this nice little gem.

Print directly from Word, Excel, Explorer or IE directly to a wireless or bluetooth printer. Pretty cool stuff that'll make you life a lot easier.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Buying SBS in Ireland? Get eTrust for Free

Interesting article over at ElectricNews.net for Ireland. Computer Associates is giving away one free server copy and 5 clients of CA's eTrust 7.1 with each purchase of SBS. That's not too shabby.

Recently Trend Micro announced a joint marketing effort with HP to bundle a 60 day copy of Trend Micro's C/S/M suite on all new SBS OEM installs.

In the SBS world eTrust is definitely not on the inside looking out but rather such established players as Trend, Mcafee, and Symantec are generally the accepted choices and just from the casual and somewhat bias observer Trend is best in the SBS arena.

But what would change my mind? FREE software for sure. Bundling is a smart idea. Much the same to me as the all in one inkjet printers. No money is made on the printer but the consummables are the big ticket. Well the subscription basis with AV software could be the same. Give the software aware or at a large discount and its an easy decision for the small business owner to renew his contract for updates.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

User Groups and Communities

Just had to give a shout out about our Michigan SBS User Group, MISBS. Since Bob Heiney and I started the group in February we have now grown to over 50 on our email list.

Last Wednesday we had our biggest meeting yet with about 30 in attendance at Microsoft's Michigan Location in Southfield. No doubt it was due to a nice presentation from Microsoft Partner Tech Specialist Brad Billison on Sharepoint Technologies.

Why do I mention this? Well we're seeing incredible momentum in the SBS community with feedback that can be given directly to Microsoft. Not to mention the fact that in only about 9 or 10 short months we've grown to be a solidified voice around SBS. So if you haven't joined or started a user group think about it! I must say that I do enjoy the time I spend at the user group now and look forward to it each month.

One of the favorite things right now about our user group is the open discussion time to answer questions, insights or comments from admins, consultants or just anyone interested in SBS. How everyone else does something is always of interest.

After the discussion, the meeting concludes but no one seems to go home for another 45 minutes to an hour as we all network and catch up on what happened the past month. This social networking will help anyone in the SBS field to get a better foothold on what's hot/not in the industry and what each of us should be thinking about for our individual businesses in the way of technology. Need a POS expert? There's usually one at the user group. Need a Terminal Services expert? Yep, usually there. Need someone versed in CRM or Great Plains? Yep you guessed it.

Enjoy the benefits now and take a look and see if a user group is in your area by checking out the SBS Community Page.

Access Parameter Query into Word Mail Merge

Sometimes I work on other stuff besides SBS...yeah I know I'm not comfortable with it but I do my best! Recently a client had a problem where their paramater query in Access wouldn't show up when they wanted to do a mail merge in Word (all version 2003). It only showed the tables not the queries. A parameter query allows you to narrow your table information down to restrictions such as give me all membership dates that begin after November 1st but before November 30th.

So after some digging here's what you need to do. Hope it helps!

Method 1: Use the parameter query as the data source
You can create a Word 2003 Mail Merge document by using an Access 2003 parameter query in the Word 2003 environment. You can use the parameter query as the data source of the Word 2003 Mail Merge process. To do this, follow these steps:
1. Create a Word 2003 document or open a Word 2003 document.
2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the General tab.
3. Click to select the Confirm conversion at Open check box, and then click OK.
4. On the Tools menu, point to Letters and Mailings, and then click Mail Merge.
5. In the right pane, click the document type that you want to create in the Select document type list box, and then click Next: Starting document.
6. In the Select starting document list box, click the document that you want to use.Note For any option other than Use the current document, you must select the appropriate template or the appropriate existing document before you continue.
7. Click Next: Select recipients.
8. In the Select recipients list box, click Use an existing list, and then click Browse.
9. Locate the Access 2003 database that contains the parameter query that you want to use as your data source. Open this Access 2003 database.
10. In the Confirm Data Source dialog box, click MS Access Databases via DDE (*.mdb;*.mde), and then click OK.
11. In the Microsoft Access dialog box, click the parameter query on the Queries tab that you want to use as the data source, and then click OK.The Enter Parameter Value dialog box appears.Note If the Enter Parameter Value dialog box does not appear, press ALT+TAB one time. If Word 2003 does not respond, press ALT+TAB one time.
12. In the Enter Parameter Value dialog box, enter the parameter value that you want to use, and then click OK.
13. In the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box, click OK.Note If the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box does not appear, press ALT+TAB one time.
14. Complete the Word 2003 Mail Merge process.

New Update for Security release for ISA Server

Microsoft has rereleased the security issue for ISA Server 2000 that was released last week on patch day. You can download here. Evidently the problems centered around ISA 2000 Service Pack 1 customers and the web proxy service shutting down. Those that had Service Pack 2 for ISA installed were fine. So install the new patch and be happy!

Ok so a best practice at this point appears that in all SBS 2003 installs it would be good to install ISA SP2 as it is HIGHLY recommended by the ISA community. Honestly I didn't fully know that ISA had a service pack that wasn't included. If you have a current SBS installation make sure that you schedule some downtime to install it. It appears that when you install it, your existing firewall clients will not work. So to make everyone happy do it after hours and on all new installs of SBS.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Ready for some Microsoft Jeopardy?

The first state that Microsoft was registered in, in 1976. Give up? New Mexico! That and other fun filled Microsoft facts are in this download: Key Events in Microsoft History. Pretty funny to think back to the Altair and Basic in 1975.

What a tremendous change in 30 years. Pretty much my entire life has been spent on Microsoft products, including Basic. But when you start to look back at the years it scares you a little.

Take a break, it's a Friday... and enjoy this little stroll through history.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Did you install the latest ISA patch on SBS?

Did you install the latest security patch that came out Tuesday for ISA Server on your SBS Box? Well as we've been following and thanks to Tim Barrett for the heads up to Nick's site where detailed information can be had.

Remove it and follow the instructions per above.

New Junk email update

Microsoft released a new update for Outlook 2003 Junk Email Filter (KB873362). Definitely go out and get it to update the spam signatures.

It'll no doubt help with some of the recent spam that has been getting through my filter. Recently I've been getting a lot from the former secretary treasurer of Nigeria and the robot emailer from Paypal that wants to "update" my information. No thanks, I think I'll just forward that as junk. :)

Need some pointers on installing XP SP2?

There's a nice little article on the Microsoft XP site about what you should do to prepare to install Windows XP Service Pack 2 by a Microsoft MVP. Good stuff to remember.

This has been a question quite a few have asked me of late. Have you installed SP2? Does it work? Are there a lot of problems?

Folks definitely install XP SP2 on a test machine immediately and work with all your applications to make sure they function correctly. More times than not they work just fine and it won't be a problem to move your user base to SP2. It's more secure, it adds a lot of great wireless features and better bluetooth support. Definitely take the jump and move to SP2.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Cougar update...

Just wanted to give you an update on the new version of SBS 2005 codenamed "Cougar". As I blogged about before Cougar is slated for release in Q3 of 2005.

Microsoft Partners just received a new 2004-2005 Initiatives Calendar that confirms that as of right now the release is still slated for Q3 of 2005.

This seems to be a pretty aggressive calendar as we haven't received SP1 for SBS 2003 as of yet and so far it is slated for release in Q1. It would really not surprise me if the Cougar date slipped to at least Q4.

Still it's nice to see that SBS is highly visible on the roadmap and the 2005 release will be even nicer for administrators to fully understand their network and take control.

As we see more previews or news on Cougar we'll try and keep you updated.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

November advance warning will affect SBS Premium

Well here's the Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification web page that you perhaps have heard about.

For November we've got a security bulletin coming out with Important status for ISA Server. Better batten down the SBS hatches as this will affect those of us with SBS 2003 Premium. Tuesday night will be busy it appears.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

OWA shortcut

Do you use Outlook Web Access in Small Business Server 2003? It's actually very convenient to use and the interface has been drastically improved over OWA 2000. But one thing that may frustrate users is the Address Book. By default it doesn't display all users as the full version of Outlook does. For a small business this can be frustrating since in one screen most companies could see all their employess and pick from the address book one at a time.
So what's the resolution? In the display box just hit the spacebar once and now hit the FIND button. Whoila, there are all of your Exchange addresses.

Just a little shortcut I sometimes forget about.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Even Microsoft Has Electrical Problems...

Well we were really excited to be a part of the kickoff for the Microsoft RV in the Central Region. But even Microsoft has problems that are out of their control. We got confirmation today that the RV won't be here and isn't ready due to some "electrical problems". Here's the official word:

Dear Customer,

We regret to announce that the Microsoft Across America Mobile Event Experience that we have invited you to in Detroit on November 4th has been cancelled due to electrical and other issues with our Mobile Event Experience vehicle. At TAZ Networks and Microsoft, we are dedicated to providing you a quality experience and did not feel that we could provide this given these issues. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

“We would like to invite you to attend the Microsoft Connections event that is occurring from 8:30-12:30 at AMC Theater, Sterling Heights where you will learn about solutions that can help you work more effectively and maintain profitable customer relationships. The agenda for this event can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/connections/agenda.mspx

So it again comes down to the simple fact that even though we rely on computers, servers, phones, faxes, monitors and the like, if we don't have power we don't do squat. I remember being downtown Detroit last year when the infamous blackout occurred that took out power from all the way in Detroit to New York. What a mess, for some people that actually had gas in their cars it took over 4 to 5 hours to get home. Some stayed overnight in Detroit. For me I was pleasantly surprised to see that our town was one of the first from Detroit to keep our power because we got fed from another electrical source. I'll never forget the lines for gas from out of towners as long as I live.

Bottom line then for the small business owner that we can always remember is that we and our business are only as good as the resources that we use or the backup plans we have in place.