Monday, 09 August 2004

Microsoft has now made XP SP2 available as a (great big ol') download for those needing to distribute it over a network, and (as of August 15th - date change) will also made it available via Windows Update soon to anyone who has auto-updating turned on.

Starting on August 15th your system will automatically download the express version of Windows XP SP2 in the background, if you have auto-updates turned on as described below. For typical home users this is about a 75 MB download, as opposed to the 250+ MB download of the complete network install pack. As soon as the background download is complete, you will be prompted to install SP2 and to accept the EULA (SP2 does not install automatically even if Automatic Updates is set to automatically install security updates). If you have a modem connection, don't "Cancel" the update once it's in progress; just disconnect and when you reconnect later, it will automatcially pick up where it left off until it completes.

If you are a home user or if your computer is not in a managed environment, and you don't need to ask permission to upgrade to SP2, you should go to the Protect Your PC page at Microsoft's web site, which will walk you through setting up your computer (automagically if you use XP Home Edition) to be ready to get SP2 as soon as Windows Update is ready to send it to you. Whether you use the step-by-step instructions or let the application do it for you, you'll be all set.

Administrators of Windows networks (wired and wireless) may be interested in reading about the network protections built into the new service pack. That article is part of a broader set of information entitled “Changes to Functionality in Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2,” which was published today on the TechNet web site. Note that the full technical documentation can be downloaded here, as well.

Other useful links (there's so many, here are a few of what appear to be the most useful - feel free to add more links in the comments if you see something else that's good):

If you are a MS Premier Support customer, there are a wide variety of information and tools available to you now on your premier support web site, as well - just log in.



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IT Security | Tech
Monday, 09 August 2004 11:12:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 08 August 2004

Omar Shahine has a nice entry detailing how to configure the Motorola voice modem you get from Vonage to work in conjunction with your home network router. By placing the Vonage voice device first in the chain on your network (directly connected to the Internet) and the router behind it, you can take full advantage of the QOS (Quality Of Service) capabilities of the voice device, which helps ensure other network traffic from your LAN doesn't suck up all the bandwidth and kill your voice call quality.

I did a similar thing on my home network a little while back (different equipment, same basic procedure), and found that it substantially improved my voice call quality when computers are hooked to the LAN, especially since my computers often do automated/scheduled things that will - if left unchecked - hog the pipe from time to time.

UPDATE/SHAMELESS-PLUG:

I just noticed - if you want to sign up for Vonage service, they have a referral program where I can send you an invitation and you'll get the first month free, and I'll get an equal service credit - which is good for everyone! Just email me here: Send mail to the author(s) and I will send you the invite - be sure to send your name and the email address you want the invite to go to.



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Tech
Sunday, 08 August 2004 13:44:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 07 August 2004

A friend asked me tonight if I knew where to find the oom paa paa song from the Matrix spoof, Computer Boy. I had never heard the song, or seen the short film, but started looking anyhow.

I found the MP3 and dropped it into the IM window to transfer the file to my friend. I also found the MOV file and grabbed that for myself, out of curiosity. On a side note, it's pretty fun(ny) to watch.

"How did you find it?" my friend asked. "Google," I said. "Where one finds everything."

He LOL'ed (gotta love all this IM-speak) and then asked me to send him my search string so he could learn. Now that's the right question to ask. Ahhhh, grasshoppa... you are learning...

It's a very simple search, barely more than a basic search - and really it's all about being specific, but for some reason, there are many people who don't know how to do that. Everyone should learn to search and to do it well. Being able to find things on the Internet used to be a nice skill to have, but how it's becoming more and more of a necessity. It's always surprising to me how few people really know how to search using Google or other search tools to find relevant information, especially when you consider you can learn the basics (and then some) in about 5 minutes. Spend an hour learning some more advanced skills and you'll practically be a pro.

Google even has a help page where you can learn about the basics and some more advanced search tricks. And there are any number of third-party articles out there that will help you learn power searching, like this one (See parts one, two and three). Unfortunately, most of the tutorials out there are on poorly formatted web pages with lots of other junk piled on the page, but content is content.

Do you have good places to learn about becoming a search engine power-user? Leave a link in the comments.



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Tech
Saturday, 07 August 2004 21:00:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 06 August 2004

If you use SQL 2000 or MSDE on Windows XP, you'll want to do some research before you apply WinXP SP2.

Microsoft has provided a FAQ list that covers the bases pretty well. Excerpted from that page:

Q.  Why is Windows XP SP2 important to SQL Server customers?
A.  Windows XP SP2 will turn on the Windows Firewall by default. By turning on the Windows Firewall, computers are more resilient to attacks from worms similar to Blaster and Slammer.

Q.  How does Windows XP SP2 affect SQL Server?
A.  SQL Server will have access to the local subnet by means of file and print sharing, which will enable access to named pipes, also known as multi-protocol, that use Port 445. TCP/IP and UDP will be turned off by default. Applications that connect to a SQL Server database by means of a network will not be able to accept or make connections. This setting change helps protect the customer system by making it resilient to malicious worms that send port requests to a computer in an attempt to create a denial of service attack.

In addition, KB article 841249, "How to configure Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) for use with SQL Server," includes information about manual configuration of the SP2 firewall for use with SQL server, how to script configuration administratively, and troubleshooting tips and steps. Note that users of Windows Group Policy can also configure the firewall via that method using the new ADM files (which are included in the service pack).

I've been working with SP2 configuration via Windows domain Group Policy for a while now, with the beta versions. If you have the GPO option available to you, do yourself a huge favor and take advantage of it. Same goes for Office System settings - You can quickly, easily and effectively configure and maintain all your computers in one place.



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IT Security | Tech
Friday, 06 August 2004 21:00:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I am watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 at home with a friend. I saw the second movie when it was in the theaters earlier this year, and of course I also saw this one when it came out originally.

This is one movie that just keeps getting better. It was good the first time, and especially after the second movie, it's just good to watch again and again.

And Volume 2 will be released on DVD on August 10th. Yes!

QT rules.



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Movies | Random Stuff
Friday, 06 August 2004 20:29:46 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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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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