Friday, 06 August 2004

Testers have it (running it now) and it will be available on the web soon. Windows XP SP2 is Gold.

Tablet PC and Media Center Edition users get all kinds of new features included, too - can't beat that.

If you're a home user, turn on auto-updates and when there is bandwidth to serve you, you'll get the full meal deal.

If you're a business user in a managed computing environment, don't take the chance - talk to your IT department before doing anything, as there are a number of possible Bad Things that could result in applying the service pack before they're ready, especially in the area of application compatibility with all those wonky custom business applications.

If you're a web designer or developer and your site doesn't work with SP2 - you're too late and well beyond the point of having reasonable excuses, so fix it fast and skip the whine.

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IT Security | Tech
Friday, 06 August 2004 14:35:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Rumor was that SP2 was supposed to RTM on Thursday, but that didn't happen. Microsoft Watch reports it's still right around the corner. Others say this month. I hear the same thing. Apparently, there are a few last-minute things that need to be worked out, which is about what you'd expect with a service pack that makes the kinds of changes this one does.

The RC2 version of the service pack was removed from the web on August 2nd, in preparation for release of the final version this month, according to the TechNet web site pages dedicated to XP SP2 information:

Aug 2, 2004: Windows XP SP 2 Release Candidate 2 (RC2) Removed from the Web

This signifies the end of the pre-release distribution program in anticipation of the final release of SP2. Windows XP SP2 remains on schedule for release this month.

The process of implementing SP2 in the real world is more complicated and sensitive than previous Windows service packs, due to the security changes in areas like firewall, DCOM, Java Virtual Machine, Active-X and other aspects of the new code. Testing in individual environments is critical except in the most plain-vanilla situations.

End users in managed environments will need to check with their IT departments before they download the service pack, and IT pros will certainly need to evaluate the service packs in their environments closely for application and network issues, so they can be remediated prior to roll-out. Group Policy attributes new with SP2 can assist administrators of Active Directory networks in deploying, configuring and enforcing consistency in the service pack roll-out, as well.

Developers who rely on SP2 platform security and certain other areas of functionality will need to be thinking ahead, as well. Even Microsoft's recently-released CRM v1.2 functionality breaks when XP SP2 is applied, so they'll need to supply a patch for that product. We can expect this to be a common - but ultimately necessary - occurrence.

Web site designers will certainly need to make sure their implementation of applets using the JavaVM, Active-X controls or embedded content, and pop-ups are reviewed and changes made where necessary.

Microsoft has made a number of documents available recently regarding the service pack and how different people need to plan for its arrival and use.

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IT Security | Tech
Thursday, 05 August 2004 23:33:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Ever want to use MSN Messenger from a computer where it's not installed? MSN has released to the public the beta version of it's Web Messenger, which allows you to have a fairly complete Messenger client in a web browser window. It works pretty well - Not as fancy as the installable client, but still a worthy IM interface. Check it out and use it here.

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Thursday, 05 August 2004 23:14:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 02 August 2004
From Jonathan Hardwick's weblog, news of the pre-release version of a new OS deployment feature pack for SMS 2003, and the availability of more online training for MOM 2005:

The OS deployment feature pack for SMS 2003 SP1 does just what you'd hope - allow you to create and deploy Windows OS images to lots of client machines, with unattended imaging, backup and restore of user state, and all the replication and targeting features of regular SMS 2003. Grab a copy of the beta from the SMS 2003 OSD site.

The SMS team have also published a white paper on how to use SMS 2003 in a corporate environment with lots of roaming client computers and intermittent network connectivity. This is not for the weak: Configuration and Operation of Advanced Client Roaming.

Finally, the MOM 2005 online training courses were too popular - so they're adding more servers and running more courses. If you couldn't sign up last time, give it another try.

Take advantage soon while you still can. Eight 50-minute training sessions for MOM 2005 - for free. You can't beat that.

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Monday, 02 August 2004 21:33:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 01 August 2004

I just got my lucky hands on a Sony TR3AP2 super-tiny notebook to try out, and wow, let me tell ya - this in one nice little (very little) notebook computer. In the past I was not overly impressed with Sony's little computers - they were just not up to par with my reliability and performance requirements - but I think they've changed my mind with this one.

Where to start? To say it's small is simply not enough. It's more like very compact, but quite usable. It has a full gig of RAM and a CD burner/DVD player built in, which is pretty amazing for something this size.

The display is nothing short of amazing - very high contrast, color that really pops, and very sharp image. It's a 10.6-inch wide-screen, with a resolution of 1280x768.

It also has a built-in video camera that's a lot more usable than I thought it would be, and has terrific battery life: In real-life it's getting about 3.5-4 hours on the standard battery and 7-8 hours on the extra, extended battery. The hard drive is 40GB/4200RPM (slower, but requires less battery to drive it) and if you want more, USB2 and FireWire are there to help.

For travellers, this thing is great - it's very light and compact - smaller than a tablet of paper in terms of footprint. It has 802.11g WiFi built in, supports an external monitor as a second video device, and even does Dolby surround from the headphone jack if you have the headphones to support it.

If you need to run Visual Studio or 3D games, this won't be your machine. For almost anything else, it's sweet. It's also a bit pricey, but hey - I'm sold.

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Sunday, 01 August 2004 12:16:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I often lose track of things I want to write about in my blog. You know how you'll browse to some web site, see something you want to maybe keep track of or find again later, but when "later" actually comes, you're out of luck and don't have a record of it? Or maybe you save all those random links as "favorites" or "bookmarks" in your browser, but all that does is make for a long, useless list of items that you don't use because it's too random.

A short time ago, I found a web-based service called Furl that solves this problem. I use it to categorize, catalog and keep track of various things, either for my real life or items that I might want to blog about later on. It helps me keep track of all those bits on information on the web that - before Furl - I would forget about or just lose.

Furl lets you save anything you see in your browser. The easiest way to do that is to have a "Furl It" button right on the link toolbar of your browser, or you can install the Furl toolbar if you like. When you find something you want to save, you just click the "Furl It" button.

That opens up a new window with the title and URL of the page you are looking at already filled in. You can then add comments to, rate, and categorize the page (or not). When you're done, click "Save."

That's all. Next time you view your online Furl archive you will see the new entry. View by category, filter, whatever. It's cool. You can also set up a public view of your Furl list for others to see if you want to.

So, if you're looking for an online service to keep track of links to information, give it a try. More information is available here. Oh, and for now it's free. In the future, they may do the in-line-ad-supported thing, or maybe charge a fee, but I'm honestly not worried about it - my lists help me now, which is a good thing.

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Sunday, 01 August 2004 11:33:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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