Sunday, 02 October 2005

Brian Jones posted an item about the announcement this weekend of the fact that Office 12 applications will all support PDF as an output format natively. This might not seem like much to some, but in reality it's a big deal:

"The PDF support will be built into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, OneNote, Visio, and InfoPath! I love how well this new functionality will work in combination with the new Open XML formats in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. We've really heard the feedback that sharing documents across multiple platforms and long term archiving are really important. People now have a couple options here, with the existing support for HTML and RTF, and now the new support for Open XML formats and PDF!"

More here.



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Office 2003 | OneNote | Random Stuff
Sunday, 02 October 2005 02:30:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 30 September 2005

Earlier today, Alex Scoble wrote about an IM conversation he and I had regarding VPNs and solving the nagging issue of firewall and other network roadblocks that tend to wreak havoc for people who need to connect to a remote private network. If your VPN client forces you to use some random or uncommon port, you're bound to get frustrated when you try to connect from many business networks, not to mention when you try from the hotel on the road. Now, maybe you shouldn't be plugged into that business network, but blocked by the hotel? Come on, give me a break.

There's no one perfect solution to this problem. There are lots of ideas, though. Many companies (most or all of the big players in the space) are coming out with VPN over SSL options, which is great. But what if you have a need to run a VPN software client, and it doesn't (yet) support SSL tunnels?

Here's one way to skin that cat, a la Cisco: Use TCP 443 in the Cisco VPN client to connect via an IP Sec tunnel to your VPN endpoint. Note that you'll need to specify this in the connection settings. Typically the Cisco client uses the UDP protocol to do it's thing (click to enlarge):

Cisco_udp

But as you can see, you can also set it up to use the TCP protocol and whatever port(s) your VPN concentrator is configured allow. For example, you could choose to use TCP over port 80, or port 443, since both of those are commonly open from any network. Note that port 80 might be proxied in some cases, but that's probably not a problem with 443, so it's a good one to try (click to enlarge):

Cisco_tcp443

If you set up a couple or few profiles in your VPN client software sufficient to cover the bases (like, say one using UDP and one or two using common TCP ports), you'll pretty much always be able to connect from the road. Again, there's no guarantees and there's no 100% perfect solution, but this gets you better than 95% of the way there, I am confident. Just make sure your VPN host/endpoint is configured to support the ports and protocols you specify. In the past year or two, I have yet to come across a network while traveling (except for a couple of highly-secure ones at business locations, but hey...) that I could not successfully connect through with at least one of the settings I have available to me.

And while we're on the subject, there are some interesting and promising SSL options out there, with more undoubtedly coming. As far as other brands of VPN software clients, well - I've used most of them and let me tell ya, you're better off going with Cisco and looking at the PIX firewalls and the 3000-series VPN concentrators. Trust me, I've dealt with most of them, and there's a reason Cisco's such a prolific Internet company.

But tell me - what do you use and how have you solved this type of problem?



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IT Security | Tech
Friday, 30 September 2005 20:46:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 29 September 2005

I'm gonna have to go buy me up some of these bad boys:

    Muppet_stamps2

Yep, that's right - the Muppets have their own stamps now. Sweeeeeet...



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Random Stuff
Thursday, 29 September 2005 19:15:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Ever wish you could hammer on one of those celebs that you love to hate so much? Are you one of those people (like me) who gets a little excited when you hear someone yell "Body blow! Body blow!" in a crowd?

Here ya go then: CELEBRITY PUNCH OUT!

  Celebrity Punch Out

Go for it. You know you want to.

  Cpout



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Wednesday, 28 September 2005 17:20:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Blackberry 8700gResearch in Motion's Blackberry brand is (I'm saying it out loud right here) the de facto standard for business wireless email/PIM/phone communications. One of these days Microsoft's Mobile platform may overtake the Blackberry line, but hey - it hasn't happened yet, and fact is Blackberry's got the form factor down pat. Windows Mobile on a Treo? Cool, yes - but I'm not confident it will make a good RIM replacement. My Palm-based Treo that I used earlier this year got returned after about a month, and not only because of the software. The device itself was nice and all, but not very practical or friendly. I hated that keyboard.

The latest Blackberry model to hit the "coming soon" list is the 8700, which has been confirmed to exist (but not yet announced) and which is slated to hit the street later this year in a GSM/GPRS/EDGE model (you can likely expect Cingular to get it first). The specs are pretty cool and it makes me wonder what all this device will actually do (check out the list from pinstack.com):

- Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
- Speaker Phone
- Bluetooth

- Memory: 16MB RAM / 64MB Flash
- Polyphonic Ring tones

- Support MP3 ring tones

- Updated Form Factor

- Full QWERTY keypad
- Dedicated Send & End Keys
- Mute Key
-
On/Off Key
-
2 User-Definable Keys
- This blackberry should come with a 320x240 VGA Color LCD and should feature a 312Mhz processor

Blackberry8700g_02So, if it supports MP3 ring tones and has 64MB flash... maybe there's a slot on this thing we can't see in the pics that would allow a flash card of some type? MP3 player capability maybe? Hey, I can dream, right?

Is this the one that gets an Intel processor, or no?

Looking forward to this one, for sure. EDGE data service will be terrific. From the RIM quarterly call this week, I would not be too surprised if there are other interesting and new devices coming this fall and winter, too. Lots to look forward to.



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Mobile | Tech
Wednesday, 28 September 2005 17:00:44 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 27 September 2005

Microsoft today released SP2 for Office 2003, which can be downloaded via Office Update, or you can grab it here and you can read about it here.

In addition, OneNote 2003 SP2 was also released today - read about it here, and download it here.

One of the notable features in my book is the Phishing protection update for Outlook:

Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003 Phishing Protection and Junk E-mail Filter

SP2 contains a new Phishing Protection feature to be used with the Outlook Junk Email Filter. Phishing is the luring of sensitive information through e-mail, such as passwords and other personal information, by an attacker masquerading as someone trustworthy. Phishing attacks can result in a user divulging sensitive information, including financial information, that can result in a loss of privacy or money. Phishing e-mail is hard to identify, because attackers make their e-mail appear genuine and often mimic recognizable e-mail sent out routinely by legitimate organizations such as banks and credit card companies.

To enable phishing protection, you need both Office 2003 SP2 and the latest Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail Filter Update. Once both are installed, Office 2003 SP2 has phishing protection turned on by default.

For best results, we recommend you regularly download the latest version of the Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail Filter Update. To determine whether you need this update, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base article
(872976): How to obtain the latest Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail Filter.



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IT Security | Office 2003 | OneNote | Tech
Tuesday, 27 September 2005 17:59:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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