Saturday, 19 November 2005

Maxcpu1Developers who need to test their apps on machines where another process has the CPU(s) pegged can write their own stress-testing apps, or you could just go and grab a copy of Max CPU from Kenny Kerr.

Whether you have a multi-proc, dual-core 64-bit Itanium, or some old-skool legacy proc, or anything in-between, run your tests under external stress with this tool and get an idea how your app behaves in a processor storm.

It requires the .NET Framework 2.0, and will run natively as either a 32-bit or 64-bit process depending on your operating system.

Kenny is also the author of Window Clippings, which (by the way) is now my default screen capture tool for capturing images of windows on the desktop. It's much faster and simpler than anything else I've used in the past (including some I've paid for). And it will even send the images straight to OneNote if you want it to.



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Tech
Saturday, 19 November 2005 10:01:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Word's out that Bruce Willis has offered to give a reward of $1 million to any civilian that gives up Osama bin Laden. So if you know where he is, collect your reward. Add that to the $27 million in other rewards, and you'd be pretty well set.

Bounty hunters, time to go do your thing.



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Random Stuff
Tuesday, 15 November 2005 20:45:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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If you're a network admin, you know scripting can get a lot done. the recent Scripting Week (which took place in October) included five webcasts intended to help you learn more about using scripting to make your job easier and better. Details are here. Here are some direct links.

Scripting Week Webcasts

Script It Up a Notch: Adding a Little Pizzazz (and a Lot of Functionality) to Your System Administration Scripts Script It Up a Notch: Adding a Little Pizzazz (and a Lot of Functionality) to Your System Administration Scripts
Cheaper by the Dozen: Automating Multiple Machines Across Your Network Cheaper by the Dozen: Automating Multiple Machines Across Your Network
Looks Aren't Everything, but... Looks Aren't Everything, but...
Going Beyond the Command Line with HTML Applications Going Beyond the Command Line with HTML Applications
The Antiques Script Show The Antiques Script Show

Download the Scripting Week 3 Scripts Download the Scripting Week #3 Scripts



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Tech
Tuesday, 15 November 2005 20:26:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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The new Crm_logo_adMicrosoft Dynamics CRM v3.0 packages and and an early SDK version have been released to MSDN's subscriber downloads, as the product reached RTM status just recently. This new version of CRM (which stands for Customer Relationship Management) is substantially improved over previous versions. The robust features and functionality are way too many to describe here in complete detail. Suffice it to say that among other great things, highly-configurable interfaces, web-based configuration tools, business workflow (escalation and routing, yay!) and the ability to do customizations to meet business needs without any programming are all really nice to have.

The SQL Reporting Services interface is terrific and there are a large number of reports shipped right out of the box with the product. Pivot tables in Excel leverage live CRM data and can be quickly and automatically created by clicking an icon right there in the web interface, no complex connectivity configuration needed. Integration with Outlook for both the Service and Sales/Marketing components of the system are terrific. The seamless experience between Outlook and the CRM server, as well as the ability to work offline in Outlook to do your work on the road and then sync back up later is great. Being able to link emails straight to CRM cases, to schedule appointments in both CRM and Outlook and have them synced two ways, and to manage contacts in both places (among many other things) is a huge time saver. The web interface is rich and functional. For the IT staff, deployment is simple and reliable and the set of back-office tools for configuration, management and maintenance is very useful and saves time.

Here's what's been released on MSDN's Subscriber Downloads: 

The CRM v3 product launch "mantra" (and you can expect to hear more and more of this over the next few months) will sound something like "it works the way you do, the way your business does, and the way IT wants and needs it to." No secrets there, it's on the web site. And I have to agree with those catch-phrase messages - this product hits those nails on the head pretty well.

You can check out the official MS Dynamics CRM v3 data sheet here.

And if you're wondering what all this "Microsoft Dynamics" stuff is about, it's the new Business Solutions product line brand name. You can read about that here.



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Tech
Tuesday, 15 November 2005 19:56:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 14 November 2005

Google_anIf you've used Urchin's web site analytics package in the past, you're familiar with the detailed reporting it can do from a web site marketing and usability standpoint. It's been considered one of the luxury stats packages for some time. Well, Google bought Urchin recently, and today announced that they have now morphed the Urchin software into the Google Analytics service, and that it's available for free. Yes - that's right - free:

"Google Analytics is absolutely free! We're very pleased to be able to offer this web analytics solution for no charge, allowing anyone with a website to track conversion data, analyze the flow of visitors through their site, and identify elements of their site that could be changed to improve visitor retention.

"This free version is limited to 5 million pageviews a month - however, users with an active Google AdWords account are given unlimited pageview tracking. In addition, Google Analytics is completely integrated into the AdWords front-end and with your AdWords campaign, making it easy to track your AdWords ROI."

Well, I won't be risking five million page views a month anytime soon, so I figured I'd sign up and check it out. And for those who are interested in running the software in-house, it's still available for purchase, don't worry.

Understandably, the service is up and down a bit this morning. Things were going well for me til about 5:30am Pacific time today, when everything on the Google Analytics site suddenly went into the ether. After a few minutes of hung browsers and dead pages, a "maintenance" page appeared. Well, that makes sense - it's a brand new service at launch, so I am sure there are several kinks to work out.

UPDATE: As of Tuesday at about noon, I am more than 30 hours into my 12-hour wait period to start seeing stats from my web site, which checks out okay by the service (meaning the code if there and working). Still no data to view. Hmmm...

No worries - By the time the maintenance started, I'd already received my code from Google that has to be entered into every web page. The code consists of a few lines to be added to the <head> section of each web page on your site, which loads a .js (JavaScript) file from their Urchin servers. That's how they do the tracking work. So, you'll get information about page views and routes taken through the site, how people found your site, visitor geographic locations, etc. But you won't get information about files like images that are directly loaded from your server without accessing web pages containing the code (so it's a marketing and web site tracking.usability tool, as opposed to a complete traffic and monitoring tool like one would want to use for security monitoring - worth noting).

On top of the free stats service, anyone who uses Google's AdWords services on their sites gets the added benefit of AdWords integration into the Analytics services:

"If you have an AdWords account, you can use Google Analytics directly from the AdWords interface. Google Analytics is the only product that can automatically provide AdWords ROI metrics, without you having to import cost data or add tracking information to keywords. Of course, Google Analytics tracks all of your non-AdWords initiatives as well."

Google's hard at work for sure, spending that cash in some smart ways. Makes me wonder how many new things we should expect to see from the company next year - I bet it's a lot.



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Blogging | Tech
Monday, 14 November 2005 04:59:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 13 November 2005

I've been a T-Mobile Hot Spot subscriber for more than a year now. I have used it all over the country, and it's always there when I need it, whether I am traveling or if I'm just dropping into a Starbucks for coffee on a whim. It lets me leave my desk and still work from time to time - and we all have those times when the value of sitting in a coffee shop where no one can find you in person is seriously valuable.

One thing that's always frustrated me is the fact that I always have to open the web browser and load some random page to authenticate to the HotSpot service. It's a pain, and today (while sitting here logged onto a Starbucks HotSpot in Beaverton, Oregon) I decided to see if there was anything available to automate the process for me.

You can imagine how stupid/ignorant/DOH! I felt when my google search pointed me right back to T-Mobile's web site, where I found a description of their Connection Manager software. After hitting the 'back' button on the browser a few times to return to the page confirming I was signed on, I decided to read that page for the first time and sure enough, right there in the menu bar is a link to "Download Connection Manager." Heh.

Turn off your speakers if you're in the coffee shop before you click on the link, though, or you'll quickly become the target of startled stares from everyone else in the shop when the completely unnecessary Flash movie with LOUD SOUND. Kinda like this (you'll need those speakers back on again, dude).

Download the file, run the installer, and choose from a completely goofy skinned app or a Neapolitan-colored stylized app. I chose the lesser of the two evils.

Then things got interesting. It immediately required me to disable the Wireless Zero Configuration Service in Windows XP, which will no doubt break everything else I had set up for wireless connections prior to installing this thing. It sure as hell better work... Why can't things be simple an non-intrusive?

Now, clearly this software does more than automatically log you onto their regular WiFi HotSpot network. It sees a WPA-protected network, which means encryption and privacy. +1 for that. And the the EDGE/GPRS options obviously refer to using their data cards to connect from the road. Cool to have that in one place. Too bad there's no task bar icon when the app in on the screen.

Tmobile1

The interface works well and there's really a whole slew of options. One of the coolest was the fact that when I went to the "Tools>Settings" menu and chose the "VPN" tab, it automatically detected my Cisco Systems VPN client and all of it's profiles and let me choose which to use when clicking the big, fat "VPN" button in the T-Mobile UI. It works great, and I'm connected as I type. Nice feature:

   Tmobile8vpnsetupcisco
   VPN options dialog - click to view full size

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of using the software is the availability of the secured wireless network. Seems like they could offer this without having to install custom software, but oh well...

   Tmobile2
   Access to a secured network - click to view full size

Here's where the automatic logon happens - they give you the opportunity to provide your T-Mobile account name and password, and you can save it for later use:

   Tmobile3
   Save your credentials to authenticate automatically later - click to view full size

Of course, it failed miserably when I first tried. I had to randomly select a whole slew of messy windows that kept popping up when I was trying to fill in the account dialog. Some of them were especially helpful:

   Tmobile4wtf
   Not sure what they're wanting with this dialog

But eventually (after fighting several windows that continually took focus away from the "enter your authentication info" dialog box) I found success:

   Tmobile5success
   Success - click to view full size

Sure enough, wireless zero config is disabled and I am connected using their software. Good enough for now, but that will likely have to change due to the complexity of some of the networks I have to access with this thing. We'll see.

As I was typing this, without warning yet another random box pops up and steals focus. Apparently it was downloading every single T-Mobile HotSpot location in the entire freakin' world. Weeee... Anyhow, it was bit confusing for a second, and all these windows just popping up, downloading stuff without asking and stealing focus are aggravating and just plain bad design. But it does work:

   Tmobile6randomadd
   Random pop-ups everywhere - click to view full size

So... Despite the fact that it's custom, proprietary software, there are some cool things in this app. For example, the Available Networks dialog is better than anything built into Windows:

  Tmobile7networks
   Nice network list visuals - click to view full size

Well, I'll leave it installed for now. Maybe I'll get lucky and the other networks I access will just work. Not counting on it though. Heh.

Somewhere there must be a third-party app that will automagically log me on. Just haven't found one yet. Maybe I'll make one.

 



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IT Security | Mobile | Safe Computing | Tech
Sunday, 13 November 2005 16:07:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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