Saturday, 31 July 2004

MSDN now has RSS feeds for Microsoft webcasts, listing any upcoming online sessions for you to consume and attend. MSDN webcasts are a great way to learn valuable information for free.Also listed in the feeds are TechNet, Security, Office System, and MBS webcasts.

So, whether you're a developer, IT engineer, systems person, or help desk guru, there's always something for you here - In fact, there's almost certainly several somethings at any given point in time.

From the listing site:

We've made our webcasts available as a RSS feed on this blog site. Every month we'll post the upcoming month's webcasts here for MSDN, MSDN Architecture Webcasts including patterns & practices live! webcasts, TechNet, Security, Office Systems, and Microsoft Business Solutions webcasts. Here they are below.

(found thanks to Scoble)



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RSS Stuff | Tech
Saturday, 31 July 2004 16:59:44 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 29 July 2004

Amit Singh has written an article touching on many key aspects of what is needed to get a good understanding of the world of computer security. It's not a forensics manual or an exhaustive book on the subject, but it does a very good job of hitting all the bases and educating at a level deeper than you'll get from the new sources that write quick one-off stories, and in this day and age, that's a worthwhile thing.

His paper, which is entitled "A Taste of Computer Security," is divided into these chapters:

  • Popular Notions About Security \
  • Defining Computer Security
  • Traditional Unix Security
  • Security Uprooting Vehicles
  • The Net Growth In Insecurity
  • Digital Life: Viruses
  • Digital Life: Worms
  • Viruses on Unix
  • Platform-Independent Malware
  • Defeating Memory
  • Securing Memory
  • Access Control
  • Detecting Intrusion
  • Sandboxing
  • An Example: Solaris Security
  • Miscellaneous
  • Unix vs. Windows
  • Epilogue

I found it worth the read, and recommend it to people who may not be security professionals full-time, but need a certain level of understanding to really know what they need to know in their daily jobs.



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IT Security | Tech
Thursday, 29 July 2004 17:34:46 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I'm showing my friend Brent how I can email from my blackberry and it posts to my blog. Cool stuff.
--------------------
Greg Hughes
Corporate IT Director



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Thursday, 29 July 2004 08:53:48 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 28 July 2004

"We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile."

Rory Blyth, whom I have met briefly once and read many many times, writes a hillarious, informative, and (in its own special way) very thoughtful blog. He's also deserving of his audience's congratulations, because he's just taken a job at Microsoft doing what he does best.

And I bet he gets to attend MVP events now without becoming the victim of petty whining. It'll be nice to have someone official to blame now. :)

<AirHandShake> Congrats Rory! Well deserved. </AirHandShake>



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Random Stuff
Wednesday, 28 July 2004 19:39:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Yesterday Microsoft kicked OneNote SP1 out the door, and today we already have the first two new PowerToys for OneNote 2003 SP1. Note that the SP1 release provides a sort of plugin-in interface to OneNote that allows people to build interfaces that let OneNote interoperate with other programs - and you'll need to install the service pack before you can use these new apps.

And, apparently there will be more to come!

From Chris Pratley's weblog:

You can check out the PowerToys page (may not be up just yet if you're reading this post July 27-28):

http://www.microsoft.com/office/onenote/powertoys

Or go directly to these download pages to get the first two PowerToys:

IE to OneNote. This PowerToy adds a button to IE that lets you send any page or a selection on a page to OneNote. You get the same results as a copy/paste would give you, but you can do it all in one click. It also nicely puts the clippings in a single section so you can browse and clip, browse and clip. Then review your research later, complete with links back to the source pages. Link:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=a9872a17-2d0c-47f0-9b4d-026e94a8ef1c&displaylang=en

Outlook to OneNote. This PowerToy adds a button to Outlook so that you can send any email message (or group of email messages if you multi-select) to OneNote to keep them together with notes and other docs. Very handy if you like to have a “project folder” section in OneNote that keeps all your stuff together in an easy to flip through and modify/reuse format.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=87c661e3-178d-46f0-979e-0fdd96327928&displaylang=en



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Office 2003 | OneNote | Tech
Wednesday, 28 July 2004 06:26:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 27 July 2004

The Firefox web browser has received a lot of attention recently, with a rash of issues and related publicity in the Internet Explorer area causing people to look for alternatives.

Someone has put together a friendly jab at the Firefox browser, in this parody that I thought was pretty darn funny - Firedfox.

For those too lazy to look and wanting to see the real thing, you can go here. It's a nice browser.



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Humor | Tech
Tuesday, 27 July 2004 17:10:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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In a new video on Channel 9, Microsoft's top security man, Michael Howard, discusses how hackers do their thing, discovering and exploiting security holes and whatnot. Additional links to other security-related video interviews with Howard are also provided.

Hopefully no one gets any bright ideas. :)



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IT Security | Tech
Tuesday, 27 July 2004 17:05:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Spammers wreak havoc on millions of people for one simple reason: It's a money-making enterprise, and it's easy to do.

Microsoft Research has a piece just out that explains that if a hundred thousand people receive a single spam email broadcast, only one recipient needs to spend $11.00 on whatever they're selling to make the effort profitable.

It's hard to make spamming unprofitable when the costs are so low, so instead one solution would be to make it awfully inconvenient. The research article contains some interesting ideas about how to counter spam in ways that might actually stick.

The article is a good one for anyone interested in the technical, social and geographical detailed of spamming.



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IT Security | Tech
Tuesday, 27 July 2004 16:53:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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From Jonathan Hardwick's blog:

New releases: online training sessions for MOM 2005

MOM 2005 is coming out Real Soon Now - but they've already created eight 50-minute online lab sessions to introduce its features:

  • Microsoft Operations Manager 2005
  • Managing Active Directory with MOM 2005
  • Managing Exchange with MOM 2005
  • Monitoring SQL Server 2000 with Microsoft Operations Manager 2005
  • Planning and Deploying Microsoft Operations Manager 2005
  • Administration and Configuration of MOM 2005
  • Building and extending MOM using MCF and the SDK Part 1
  • Building and extending MOM using MCF and the SDK Part 2

To take a lab, go to https://microsoft.granitepillar.com/mom2005/.



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Tech
Tuesday, 27 July 2004 15:37:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Microsoft has release Office 2003 SP1 (which includes InfoPath SP1) as well as OneNote SP1 (which is a separate download). Bug fixes, security improvements, and enhanced functionality abound. Be sure to read the release notes and linked web pages/articles before you download and install, especially if you have a pre-release version installed. Also note that you may be required to provide the original CD, depending on how you installed the software in the first place.

If your software is centrally managed and installed over a network, don't install these files yourself unless they specifically tell you to do so - Your IT department will need to update their network installation points and push the updates out (once they test and make sure all is well, of course).

Regular users of Office 2003 can also just browse to the Office Update site and use the “Check for Updates” link provided there. An ActiveX control will install and check to see what software is installed on your computer that requires updating, and then it will download and install the updates for you.

Note: The links below provided by Microsoft on their web pages to the related Knoledge Base articles and related web pages are not active as of the time of this writing, and they have not yet updated the Office Resource Kit Administration site. Those links shoudl become active shortly.

Office 2003 Service Pack 1 contains significant security enhancements, in addition to stability and performance improvements. Service Pack 1 (SP1) also includes many performance and feature enhancements to Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003. Some of the fixes included with SP1 have been previously released as separate updates. This service pack combines them into one update. You can get specific information about this update in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article (842532): Description of Office 2003 Service Pack 1UPDATE: Those who control Office 2003 with Windows Group Policy will want to get the updated Administrative Template (ADM) files.

OneNote 2003 Service Pack 1 contains new features and significant security enhancements, in addition to stability and performance improvements. You can get specific information about this update in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article (842774): Description of OneNote 2003 Service Pack 1. I also posted a list of changes and enhancements back when the OneNote team released a preview version of OneNote SP1, but note that the final version may contain additions/changes. You might also be interested in reading Chris Pratley's blog - he writes a lot about the OneNote team and the evolution of their product. His blog was one source of ideas that were funneled into the product team for potential future enhancements.



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Office 2003 | OneNote | Tech
Tuesday, 27 July 2004 07:24:39 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 23 July 2004

Awesome stuff, whether you like Legos, Spiderman movies, or both. Come on, you know you like both...

Check it out:

http://movies.yahoo.com/movies/feature/spiderman2qt.html



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Movies | Random Stuff
Friday, 23 July 2004 16:04:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Don't know how the heck I missed this, but a new version of Messenger Plus! was released a short while back, and if you are an avid user of MSN Messenger, this free download is something you'll definitely want to check out. I've been using it for more than a year.

Some of the useful and fun things you can do with this Messenger extension program:

Various Messenger Tweaks - With Plus!, you can rename your contacts to tidy your contact list, see statistics about your buddies in order to clean up your contact list, make your windows semi transparent, automatically accept file transfers, filter words from the messages you send or receive, and much more!   

Enhance your messaging experience! - You can have your own personalized messages to send to your contacts when they contact you while you're idle or away! Messenger Plus! also offers 50 slots for instant Quick Texts, customizable automatic messages that you can send with a simple shortcut or typed command, quick icon panels to make it easier to insert your emoticons without having to remember their codes, a Text Recall feature to resend recent messages, the ability to search inside your conversations and a Quote Sender.

Advanced Logging - Before MSN Messenger even showed a sign of logging, Messenger Plus! already offered it. Plus!'s logging is much different than MSN Messenger's logging, with archiving, encryption with passwords, and let's not forget the fact that you can log every event!

Other Messaging Features - Messenger Plus! gives you the possibility to choose any color you want for front and background, and add formatting, such as bold, italic, underlined and stoke-out. It also lets you control almost every aspect of Messenger via text shortcuts called commands, much like the ones in IRC chat. 

Enhanced Notifications - If you don't use Hotmail, you can choose to be notified whenever a new e-mail arrives in your POP3 mail account (up to five can be configured!). Additionally, you can receive toast-style notifications for any contact event, like when contacts their nick or go offline.

Security & Privacy Control - Messenger Plus! offers a Boss Protection feature that hides Messenger and your conversations with a shortcut, even notifying who you were talking with about the situation. It also allows you to lock your Messenger with a password when you leave the computer and, for permanent privacy, it can encrypt all your logs so that only you can read your previous chats.

It's not your typical "free" software - This is real, professional programming hard at work. Patchou (the author) has made many changes and improvements over time, and it's a mature, cool, "on-my-list-of-gotta-have-utilities" utility.

And if you're really comfortable in Windows and like to tweak the registry (at your own risk), check out the registry tweaks page after you install the Messenger Plus! add-on. There's even a free configurator for the registry tweaks - now that's community eh?

Good stuff, go get it.



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Tech
Friday, 23 July 2004 09:43:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Daniel McPherson poted an article about fast deployment of SharePoint web parts. I thought some might find it useful:

How do I quickly get a Debuggable/Deployable web part up and running?

I'm often in a situation where I need to quickly build new web parts, this could be because I want to do some testing or because I'm working on a "Proof of Concept" for a customer. In these scenarios time is the most important factor in the development process.

 

I have come up with some simple steps that I think streamlines the Web Part creation process, ensuring you are up and running with a debuggable/deployable web part as quickly as possible...

(read more)



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Friday, 23 July 2004 07:52:29 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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So, it was working out to be a great day - I took the day off from work and all was going so well... Then at around 6:00 or so this evening, problems came up at work that were unexpected. I had to help out with some decisions, and decided someone needed to be spoken to face-to-face, so I drove in on my motorcycle.

It was a great ride - it was around 96 degrees this afternoon. I got in, spent about 3 or 4 hours there, worked things out to my satisfaction and headed home.

It was late - around 11:00 pm - so it was dark out. I got about 5 minutes from work (it's a 45-minute drive home on the motorcycle), and was following behind a car on a rural road. I saw headlights coming toward me as well, and the headlights appeared to cross into the lane of the car in front of me. The headlights disappeared, I saw the brake lights from the car ahead of me light up and then swerve hard and jerk around. The oncoming car continued to roll toward me. I slowed, moved to the left, and slowed some more. The oncoming car continued slowly down the wrong side of the road and eventually skidded to a stop on the shoulder, dragging the broken front end on the ground.

The car was pretty badly damaged - the driver side front end was collapsed, and a man was behind the wheel trying to get out. I pulled off the road and called 911 on my cell phone, and then ran down to the car that I had been following. A man and two little girls were getting out of that car and his airbag had deployed. I saw child seats in the back seat of the car. Thank God for those.

Back to the other car, telling the dispatcher what I saw, how many people, what she'd need to send. Like I was a cop all over again. I got back to the first driver, and he had managed to get out of the car and was trying over and over to dial a cell phone. He smelled the way people smell when they've been drinking, and looked pretty hammered. He asked me if I had called the police, and I said yes, and he looked at me and said, "Why did you do that?" I told him he had hit another car, and pointed. "Another car?" he asked. "Yeah," I said. "Over there." I pointed and he staggered. I asked him again if he was hurt and he said he wasn't. "Why'd you call the police?" he asked again.

Babies and drunks, let me tell ya. Babies and drunks. It's a miracle no one was killed, not to mention that no one was seriously hurt. And I'm glad I leave plenty of room between me and the car ahead of me, especially when I'm on the bike.



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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Thursday, 22 July 2004 23:38:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 22 July 2004

From Addy Santo:

Everyone, say hello to BlogWave !

This is an alpha (read: mostly functional and sort of stable) version of a tool which enables scheduled generation and publishing of RSS feeds.  This allows, for example, publishing Sharepoint lists and libraries as RSS feeds with no modifications needed to the Sharepoint server.

BlogWave Feature List:

  • Generate RSS feeds based on a variety of inputs:
    • WSS lists/libraries
    • Existing RSS files or feeds
    • Additional input sources are planned, such as Sharepoint searches and aggregated feeds.
  • Publish the generated feeds to different destinations:
    • Local/network locations
    • .Text based blogs
    • WSS libraries 
    • FTP sites.
  • Schedule the generation and publication with a flexible scheduling system
    • Set which days of the week, what hours, and how often should the generation take place
    • Set user credentials and advanced options such as running even with no logged-in user or running only when idle.


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RSS Stuff | SharePoint | Tech
Thursday, 22 July 2004 16:43:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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If you have a need to do XHTML validation of web pages and find yourself doing it manually and probably not often enough, check this out: Ben Hammersley has built a XHTML validation tool that generates its results into an RSS feed, from any page you specify. The test runs each time you load the feed into your favorite RSS reader, so it's all-too-easy to repeat, which is nice.

"The validation is redone everytime the feed is requested. If there are no errors, the feed will be empty. Silence is golden, in other words."

Check it out - and start validating - here.



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RSS Stuff | Tech
Thursday, 22 July 2004 10:31:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I've had two sets of epidural spinal injections to try to fix my back, and while I have had some relief, it's not solved the problem.

So, I went to the doctor the other day, and he decided its time to send me to the spinal surgeon. I guess there are a few procedure options - one of which involves heating up the intervertebral disc from the inside in order to cause it to shrink. The heated tissue scars and shrinks, so the protruding (herniated) part of the disc (which is pushing on the nerve roots where they attach to the spinal cord) recedes. The disc has a soft inner portion surrounded by a more fibrous shell, so to speak. A herniated disc is one where the fibrous shell gets torn and the center material bulges out. The bulging out part is what's pushing on the nerves. Oh, and it hurts (sometimes a lot).

Anyhow, the doctor that does this special heating/shrinking procedure (the more common procedure is a microdiscectomy, where they just go in with blades and cut out the bulging part) is in Salem, which is a good couple of hours from where I live. I guess there are a few docs in Portland that do something similar, but my doc wants me to go to this guy because its a newer procedure that heals faster and has shown good results (less scarring damage to the disc - it's more exact). So arranging visits and working with that doc will be a little complicated, and I don't even know for sure if I'll end up being a candidate for that particular method. But if it means pain relief, it's all good.

The craziest part of this problem is that most days I am uncomfortable - some pain but not unbearable. Other days (few and far between) I feel almost completely normal (I love those days). And on yet other days the pain is so unbearable it can't be described with words. Debilitating comes to mind, but that doesn't really paint the complete picture.

Anyone have any personal experience with any of these?

  • Intradiscal Electrothermal Treatment
  • Endoscopic laser foraminoplasty (ELF)
  • Percutaneous discectomy (PAD)


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Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery | Personal Stories
Thursday, 22 July 2004 09:39:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 21 July 2004

The Channel 9 crew has been interviewing employees in Microsoft Research. In a video interview with employees of the VIBE group, we get to see some of the plans and prototypes in actual use in the area of future display screens and mechanisms. They're doing cool things with great big displays and multiple monitors. The dragging demo and the Group Bar demo are pretty darn nifty stuff. "Rehydrating" groups of programs I used sometime before - wow, very cool!

The Channel 9 videos provide a level of detail and flavor you'll get nowhere else: Straight from the mouths of the people working on the projects, you can find out about some of the up-and-coming inside stuff.



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Tech
Wednesday, 21 July 2004 19:45:36 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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With a small amount of education and a healthy dose of common sense, anyone can safely use the Internet for purchasing and banking online. Plus, if you're not already doing so, if you're one of those people who says you 'just won't do it,' you're making a big mistake. Online banking bill-pay done carefully can make your financial world much more secure, simpler and more efficient. And "careful" is a pretty easy threshold to reach with some basic knowledge.

Do you know what "Phishing" is? You should, if you want to safeguard your private information. Do you know the basics of online transactions and how to make sure you're banking and shopping safely? You can learn what you need to know in just a few minutes.

Here's a resource (a pretty good one) aimed at making people smart online banking and shopping consumers:

Microsoft: Preventing Online Fraud

Check it out, and do yourself the favor of some self-education with resources like this one. I've done practically all my banking and bills online for four-plus years, without a single problem. You just have to know how to be safe, and it's not complicated to do. 

Avoiding online commerce simply because someone you know told you it's "bad" is nothing more than a valuable opportunity down the drain. You had to learn the basics of vehicle safety when you learned to drive - What if someone had told you that driving was dangerous and should be avoided at all costs, and you had believed them?

Don't miss the boat. Just be sure to take a life jacket with you.



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Random Stuff | Tech
Wednesday, 21 July 2004 19:20:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 20 July 2004

For those who administer or work in the guts of Windows systems an networks, and perhaps those who set up and maintain applications on Windows, the Script Center over at TechNet is a truly valuable resource.

The TechNet Script Center provides one-stop shopping for system administrators wanting to manage their Windows computers using Microsoft's scripting technologies.

There's the script repository, which has lots of samples, as well as a number of good tools and utilities you can grab and start using right away.

And the scripting guys have a sense of humor. Check out the WMI Scriptomatic and its readme file, and then generate WMI scripts to your heart's content. Need ADSI scripts instead? Use the ADSI Scriptomatic. Read the accompanying text. It's worth the eye strain, trust me.

(Ok, fine, here you go: WMI stands for Windows Management Instrumentation and ADSI stands for Active Directory Services Interfaces)

Oh - and webcasts - so many good webcasts. This week is Scripting Week (believe it or not) and here are the webcasts for that celebration. And there are a number of very good archived webcasts, too. All network administrators are now on notice that you have to know how to do this stuff. Go learn. Now. TYVM.



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Tech
Tuesday, 20 July 2004 21:40:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 19 July 2004

Google now owns Picasa. It's am imaging tool - and it's really very good. Oh yeah - and it's FREE.

It provides a timeline- and album-based view of all your images and lets you sort through them, print them, edit them, transfer them from your camera, share them with others, make slideshows, and more.

It's cool - check out the flash demo here, and download here.



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Tech
Monday, 19 July 2004 20:58:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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My evil twin is twitching with anticipation and excitement...

Muuuuaaahahahahahahahhhh!



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Random Stuff
Monday, 19 July 2004 19:53:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Mike Nash is responsible for security at Microsoft. He will be speaking during the newly-established monthly webcast briefing on July 28th:

Date: Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Time: 8:30AM-9:30AM Pacific Time (GMT-7, US & Canada)
(Click here to register for the webcast)

Description: Join Mike Nash, Microsoft's senior executive in charge of security, for his monthly security update. Mike will provide the latest details on Microsoft's security enhancements and offer tips and insights into key security strategies for customers.  This month, learn more about Microsoft's security strategy and the key focus of improving software updating.  Mike will provide details on what Microsoft is doing to reduce the cost, complexity, downtime and risk associated with deploying software updates. Learn how these improvements can help you with patch management in your environment.



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IT Security | Tech
Monday, 19 July 2004 06:45:26 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 18 July 2004

Well, no more dual telephone service for me. Last week, I made the decision to cancel my old-skool standard land-line (POTS) phone service with Qwest, after signing up for and trying out Vonage's IP phone service, which works over my Internet connection.

The LEC's (that's "local exchange carriers") better think fast. They're going to lose this game.

For a lot less money each month, I can now take my phone number wherever I want with a soft-phone that runs on my laptop and/or a portable IP phone device that I can plug into any Internet connection. I can make all the long distance calls I want. I get my voice mail messages as nice little email attachments as soon as someone leaves one for me. I am spending less money each month. It costs less. I get more features for less cash. Oh, by the way - did I mention it's cheaper than the land-line service?

I made one small adjustment to the service on the Vonage web site under my account settings that set my IP phone bridge device to max quality, and the service is great.

This is the future of home telephony, not to mention business service. Hey Baby-Bell's - wake up and make some coffee - your customers are waiting...

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 - 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.

Their web site: http://www.vonage.com/



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Tech
Sunday, 18 July 2004 20:07:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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It's nice when people use Flash for good purposes, instead of doing so just so they can say they did it. Remember intro movies? Sheez...

But, I digress... Along the lines of good use of Flash to get the point across, check out the Microsoft Innovation site/flash movie. Not only is it effective use of the medium, it's also good and interesting information.

http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/innovation/yourpotential



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Random Stuff
Sunday, 18 July 2004 13:44:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I don't post about polittics here for the most part, but if I see something that that makes me laugh, it's fair game for blodge-chunking (I'll explain that term some other time).

Download: This Land is Your Land

If you don't laugh, there's something wrong with you.




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Humor
Sunday, 18 July 2004 07:44:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 17 July 2004

Now, how did I miss this???

http://portal.sharepointsolutions.com/default.aspx

Tons of well-organized information for users/administrators/implementors of SharePoint 2003 technologies. Now all we need to do is convince the owners to provide their content (especially news and categories/topics) via RSS!



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SharePoint | Tech
Saturday, 17 July 2004 21:02:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 16 July 2004

I spent some time today trying to figure out why PowerPoint 2003 was throwing errors when trying to open a file that was created on a PPT 2003 system, edited by a consultant off-site, and emailed back to a staff member, where it conveniently and immediately broke.

The error displayed when trying to open the PowerPoint file indicated that a part of the file appeared to be missing. I had seen this error before, back when PowerPoint XP was brand new and in beta, when trying to open a file that was generated in the new version of the application but then edited in an older version (like PPT2000 for example) and shipped back to the original owner.

The knowledge base didn't really get me any further than my memory did, but it turns out there was a patch released for Office 2003 that puts functionality in place to work around the fact that the consultant had edited the PPT 2003 file in PPT 2000. It's available from Office Online in the downloads section.

Now, it's nice to have the patch/fix, but since it's more of a high-quality band-aid than a true solution, we will be upgrading the consultant's computer the next time he's in the office.

Remember one thing: It's never considered to be in keeping with best practices to edit files in multiple/different versions of Office programs, especially when it can be avoided, and especially in those programs that do a lot of multimedia and embedded content (PowerPoint, Word, Excel). You may not always know the problem exists (like in this case where the consultant is using their own computer system and working off-site), but if you do know it's just not worth the risk or the software savings to use the older version: It costs more in lost time to report, troubleshoot and fix the problem than it costs to install the right software.

Lesson learned: When a consultant comes on site, be proactive and make the time to ask them briefly about what they will be doing with any shared computer files and what programs they will be using while they work. Had I done that in the first place, the problem would have been resolved before it ever happened.



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Office 2003 | Tech
Friday, 16 July 2004 21:47:52 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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By way of KC Lemson, RSS feeds for all of you Exchange pro's with information you can't help but need:

I wonder how many Exchange admins use RSS readers and feeds - if you think about it, there's some competing technology there. Or maybe it's a high percentage. I wonder if my Exchange admin is on the RSS bandwagon? ;)



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RSS Stuff | Tech
Friday, 16 July 2004 21:27:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

No sooner had AOL and Yahoo announced they were bowing out of the corporate instant messaging game, Microsoft announced that when it releases Live Communication Sever 2005, the product's ability to support other external instant messaging servers will extend to hook up with the AOL (AIM/ICQ) and Yahoo IM networks.

This is great news for business users and IT implementers. Finally instant messaging has real, broad possibilities in the enterprise for multiple forms of communication among a broad and differentiated set of users. Communication outside the firewall will become a real and worthwhile pursuit. The limits that have prevented effective use of instant messaging are slipping away, and in today's collaborative world that's a real plus.

The current version of the Microsoft's business IM server, LCS2003, can already be connected to the MSN public instant messaging network (for an additional service fee). The next version of the platform, dubbed Live Communication Server 2005, is now in beta, and it already supports a technology concept called "federation," which allows different companies (for example partner companies, or service providers and their customers) to securely interconnect their LCS servers across the Internet. LCS uses the SIP protocol (Session Initiation Protocol), which is an established public standard for initiating and conducting communications between nodes on a network.

Okay, but then what?

Of course there will need to be even more to offer in this product down the road, and once can guess at what that might mean. I like to guess because I eat this stuff and have dreams of grandeur about where these products could go and how they could grow. My bet is on better collaboration and meetings. Microsoft's recent meeting-related investments in SharePoint (meeting workspaces) and the relatively limited but growing functionality in the current IM product seem to point that way (IP phone integration, as well as white-boarding and application sharing with clients on the LAN). Recent additions and improvements are terrific, but there is certainly room for improvement on these recent advances.

In the past there was NetMeeting. More recently, Microsoft has invested heavily in building and acquiring new communication technologies, not only on the IM front, but also with its purchase of a company called Placeware, which is the technology platform driving the company's popular LiveMeeting service. Much of the same collaborative functionality you get from LiveMeeting is available in a more rudimentary way in LCS and separately on the public instant messaging networks. But, until the unified IM clients are available, the newer technologies are limited in their reach between organizations.

But services live LiveMeeting and conferencing competitors like WebEx, Genesys and others offer much more robust and powerful capabilities that could - should someone make the bold move - be made available to the corporate IT crowd behind the firewall as a part of a server such as LCS 200x, sometime in the future. It's a logical next step - by that time, more advanced services will undoubtedly be available and locating that functionality in the server behind the corporate firewall will be a logical move. Business would benefit from self-hosting a voice and data conferencing system based on IP voice and collaborative IM technology that federates with other corporate systems privately, as well as with the public networks recently announced.

At least we can hope!



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Tech
Friday, 16 July 2004 20:49:08 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback
 Wednesday, 14 July 2004

If you're an MSDN subscriber and use RSS to stay informed of things, you'll almost certainly want to add this feed to your OPML list:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions/rss.xml

Updated as new subscriber downloads are made available.



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RSS Stuff | Tech
Wednesday, 14 July 2004 17:09:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback
 Monday, 12 July 2004

KC Lemson relates a story about how imprecise terminology can lead to mistakes, and points out in the end that such mistakes can be avoided with a little proactive thought. I know I have been tripped up in conversations where I assumed the terminology being used meant the same thing to the person I was speaking to as it did to me, only to find out how wrong I was later. KC has a good lesson and story: 

"... To him, this was basic vocabulary. He knew that registry keys are on the left-hand side of regedit and have folder icons, whereas registry values are on the right-hand side of regedit and have different icons depending on their type. To me, “registry key” was just a part of the vernacular I'd learned and there were different types of registry keys, such as DWORDs, strings, etc."



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Tech
Monday, 12 July 2004 21:03:54 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Hi, my name is Greg, and I can't type to save my life.

It's been five minutes since my last typo. I have been typing since before I can remember. I've always had troubles getting the words right, and from an early age I knew I was just different than the others. I guess I just never learned. I can spell just fine, I just can't type.

That's why I love ieSpell, a program I discovered accidentally when I started using dasBlog for my web log a while back.

This is a great Internet Explorer add-in. It's free for personal use, it works well, and it helps me fix my typos so I look less stupid (note that I won't place full responsibility for whether or not I look smart on a computer program - that would be unfair, after all).

My blog software's web interface has a rich-text editor that does some simple HTML formatting and takes advantage of ieSpell if you download and install it, which is cool. But once I have it installed, I get to use ieSpell anyplace in IE where I might need it. For example, what if I am writing a comment in a HTML text box on someone else's web log? I can use ieSpell to check my prose in the form text box before I click the submit button on the page. So, as long as I'm not saying anything completely idiotic from a opinion or factual standpoint, it makes me look smart(er). I like that. :-)



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Tech
Monday, 12 July 2004 11:37:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Update: ATTWS/Cingular customers with newer model RIM devices (like the 7290 for example) may find this method does not work. If so, call your service number and tell them you want them to activate your HTML browser on your device. It will be like wireless magic, and you'll be all set.

WAP browsing not working well for you? Feel the need to see the Google graphic when you go to do a search? Are the sites you're trying to browse simply broken when you try to view them on your RIM device in WAP mode? If you have a RIM Blackberry with the newer software, do this (mine's a RIM 7280 on AT&T Wireless, your mileage may vary):

  1. Go to the M-mode web browser.
  2. Choose Options.
  3. On the keypad, type “RBRO” (without the quotes). An additional five or so menu items will appear.
  4. Click on “Browser Configuration.”
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and look for the “Constrained Content Mode” field. Change this from “WML Only” to “Unconstrained.”
  6. Click the wheel and choose “Save Options.”
  7. Again, go to “Browser Configuration.”
  8. Scroll down a few lines from the top to “Content Mode.” Change it from “WML only” to either “WML & HTML” or “HTML only” (your choice).
  9. Click the wheel and chose “Save options.”
  10. That's it. You can now browse HTML, graphics and all - just make sure your bandwidth allocations won't mean a big bill at the end of your billing month!


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Mobile | Tech
Monday, 12 July 2004 10:38:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

http://groups-beta.google.com/

The beta is on for the next version of Google Groups. Not only does it look a lot like GMail, when I go to the site, it logs me on with my Google GMail account ID automagically. I can mark topics with a star () and then click on the "My starred topics" link to do a quick search list of anything I've previously flagged with the star - a lot like the way it works in GMail, go figure. :-)

Plus, I was able to create a new group right there on the groups web site, in about 2 minutes. Worth keeping an eye on.



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Tech
Sunday, 11 July 2004 23:21:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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It looks like come September you won't have to wait for a day or two or three anymore for Domain Name Service changes on the big-two TLD's to propagate when you add a domain (and possibly when you make a DNS change - still trying to figure that one out) on the Internet. All I can say is - what's taken so darn long? :-)

In an email notice, Matt Larson of Verisign says:

"VeriSign Naming and Directory Services (VNDS) currently generates new versions of the .com/.net zones files twice per day.  VNDS is scheduled to deploy on September 8, 2004 a new feature that will enable VNDS to update the .com/.net zones more frequently to reflect the registration activity of the .com/.net registrars in near real time.  After the rapid DNS update is implemented, the elapsed time from registrars' add or change operations to the visibility of those adds or changes in all 3 .com/.net authoritative name servers is expected to average less than five minutes."

What that means is fast propagation of .com and .net DNS registration information on the primary Internet domain servers. From the Verisign DNS Rapid Update FAQ page:

How long will it take from when I register a domain or make a change to an existing domain on my registrar's web site until I see the change in DNS?
It depends on how the registrar's systems work and how long it takes the registrar to communicate your request to the .com/.net registry. Once the registrar successfully submits a command to the .com/.net registry, the new domain or changes to an existing domain should be visible in DNS on average within five minutes.
Verisign, however, will not be changing the current default TTL on existing NS and A records from 48 hours due to requirements of the DNS spec, which is explained further here.
 
(via Slashdot)


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Tech
Sunday, 11 July 2004 23:06:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 11 July 2004

It happened this evening. I am sitting here, trying to figure out (without getting out of my chair)  what the darn thumping sounds are around the outside of my house, and I realize all of a sudden that the moths are out in force tonight for the first time this year, and they're hitting the windows as they try to get to my interior lights.

What a weird feeling - it took me a while to figure out what the noise was. Sounds like there are a lot of them out there. Early July - that's about right. Time to put the bug lights in the outside fixtures.



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Random Stuff
Sunday, 11 July 2004 22:32:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback
Once You Know, You Newegg

Just noticed two goofy mouse games while trolling through the RSS quagmire this weekend. By way of utterlyboring.com:

A Better "Hold The Button"

Remember Hold The Button, the game that challenged you to see how long you could hold down the button on your mouse? This game is just like that, but the button moves.


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Random Stuff
Sunday, 11 July 2004 18:52:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

I just ran across a great blog entry by John Porcaro, a Microsoft Group Marketing Manager. He has some great ideas about writing your performance review - specifically the self-review. His key points and advice should make anyone who participates in a formal review process want to click on over and get his recommendations.

His article contains the details, but the outline of his advice is:

  • Take time to reflect
  • Think of your review as a living resume
  • Be thorough
  • Go with metrics
  • Make it about YOU
  • Don’t worry too much about missing an agreed-upon deadline
  • Don’t forget the “extra credit”
  • If there’s something negative to say, bring it up yourself
  • Sometimes mistakes can be the best thing
  • Realize that half the equation is perception
  • Don’t sweat the review
  • Ask your manager to edit some of their negative comments
  • Don’t put it off until the last minute

Employee reviews can be (and when done well, are) a very useful tool, and present a real and valuable structured opportunity to learn what the next stage of growth is in our careers. It's important to place a level of import on your part of the review process that shows how important your career is to you, especially if you want others to take your career as seriously as you do.



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Random Stuff
Sunday, 11 July 2004 16:17:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

This is interesting. Funny how the brain works (or doesn't, as the case may be).

Say the color of each word out loud, at a normal reading pace (Note: Don't read the word out loud - speak the color out loud):

YELLOW       ORANGE     BLUE     BLACK     PURPLE     BLACK     GREEN     PURPLE     GREEN     ORANGE     BLACK     PURPLE     YELLOW     RED     YELLOW     ORANGE     RED



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Random Stuff
Sunday, 11 July 2004 15:24:10 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

A co-worker approached me not-so-recently (read: months ago) and asked about setting up a Terrarium server for developers at our company. It's a great idea - just a little hard to accomplish becasue my round tuit has been so heavilly taxed as of late. BTW, there is a public server available here. But we want to be able to do an internal version.

Anyhow, that's my community commitment (no more goals for me - just commitments) for the month. An official company game to give everyone interested the opportunity to grow as a programmer and learn more about .NET programming.

About Terrarium:

"Terrarium, a sample application built by Microsoft®, is game for software developers that provides a great introduction to software development on the .NET Framework.  In Terrarium, developers create herbivores, carnivores, or plants and then introduce them into a peer-to-peer, networked ecosystem for a survival-of-the-fittest type competition.  The game provides both a competitive medium for testing your software development and strategy skills as well as a realistic evolutionary biology/artificial intelligence model for evaluating the role that various behaviors and traits can play in the fight for survival.  Terrarium also demonstrates some of the features of the .NET Framework, including the Windows Forms integration with DirectX® for generating powerful user interface (UI); XML Web services; support for peer-to-peer networking; support for multiple programming languages; the capability to update smart client, or Windows-based, applications via a remote Web server; and the evidence-based and code access security infrastructure that protects participating computers from the mobile code they are running."



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Tech
Sunday, 11 July 2004 14:14:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Pascal Belaud and family just has their second child, and made a very creative announcement:

I laughed - and had to share.



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Humor
Sunday, 11 July 2004 13:29:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Over at CRN.com there's an article describing surprise in some circles that Office 12 won't be married to the Longhorn release of Windows.

What people may not remember is that Office 2003 (AKA Office 11 - the current version) was originally planned to release with what would become Longhorn (back in the day), and that as the Longhorn release has changed over time, that relationship was also broken off well before it reached the altar.

The fact that Microsoft keeps its productivity apps moving while building a healthy platform for them to run on - In other words not gluing them to each other - is a good thing. Longhorn will be a monster-sized change in the Windows operating system world, and while Microsoft will almost certainly build special hooks into Office 12 that will take advantage of Longhorn's new features when(ever) it's released, I'd expect (based on my conversations) that another version of Office will soon follow or parallel the Longhorn release, but Office 12 will include some pre-baked Longhorn capabilities. Besides, they'll have to support previous versions of Windows for at least some time, in order to allow people to properly interoperate.

Longhorn will be to Windows XP and 2003 what Windows 95 was to Windows 3.1 -- It will be huge, a major change in the way we use computing power from both the end-user and programming/design perspectives. Longhorn represents the next paradigm shift in the Windows computer world, if you will.

Microsoft now does a better job of quickly finishing better and more-frequent releases of their software. In-house quality assurance and release management tools implemented in the past year or two help them reach bug-free, clean code state ("Milestone Q") faster and with greater confidence, which better enables them to get products ready and out the door, with more features and fewer problems. It also enables them to switch gears and attack issues in existing products ruthlessly when needed.

I, for one, am glad we won't have to wait for Longhorn to keep growing and improving in areas like Office and some of the other productivity applications. New versions of Office mean we can reasonably hope for new or enhanced versions of other Office System tools, which we know are coming - specifically tools like Live Communication Server (look for some very cool and improved features there in the next couple of releases), SharePoint, Exchange and other Office System products on the server-side. Longhorn should be the platform to beat all platforms from a computing perspective, and other applications should be built to fit when Longhorn is ready (meaning feature-completed, tested and secured in a way that Microsoft has never done before). To do otherwise would be akin to the tail wagging the dog, and that just won't do.



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Office 2003 | Tech
Sunday, 11 July 2004 11:03:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 10 July 2004

A simple online web service allows you to take a Word-HTML file and clean it up quite a bit. Nifty:

http://www.textism.com/wordcleaner/

"This is intended for fairly basic styled text documents; there is no support for notes, sectioning, ‘widow’ and ‘orphan’ control, etc. Typographic quotes, proper dashes and other special characters, if they exist, will be converted to HTML entities to increase their portability among browsers and platforms. Links, tables and image references should come through fine. Everything else is stripped."



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Office 2003 | Tech
Saturday, 10 July 2004 10:21:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

From KC Lemson's weblog, a solution to a frequently asked SharePoint question:

Publish a web part on your sharepoint site that can be dynamically consumed inline by other sites

The Exchange team uses sharepoint portal server for a lot of things, such as storing & tracking documents & lists & whatnot. As the release manager, I own the site that has the master schedule on it. There are other teams that used to have a schedule listed separately on their own sites. I wanted them to consume my web part rather than repeating the content, so that if/when the schedule changes, they don't need to update theirs (or worse yet, leave it stale and confuse someone).

Linking to my web part is one option, but that's not inline in their sites, so it's not as nice of an interface. Exporting my web part as a template for them to import will only give them a copy of it at that point in time.

Thankfully, MVP & sharepoint guru Sig clued me in on how to do this. My site is http://mysharepointserver/sites/site1. I have a web part that I want to expose inline in http://mysharepointserver/sites/site2's content. Here's how the manager of site2 can do this:

1. Open up site2 in frontpage 2003. Make sure you have the default.aspx open in the page view.
2. On the task pane, choose “Find Datasource“ (click the down arrow near the top of the task pane to see it)
3. Enter the URL
http://mysharepointserver/sites/site1 and the name of the web part you want to reference
4. Drag/drop the result to the desired location on your site and save changes

It works wonderfully. Thanks so much, Sig!



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SharePoint | Tech
Saturday, 10 July 2004 10:12:08 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 09 July 2004

Every now and then you find something on the Internet that simply captures your attention. You're not sure why, it just does...

WINDOWS SYMPHONY - Made entirely of Windows default sound effects.  Its pretty cool, actually!

(by way of Jeff Basham at http://airdispatcher.lockergnome.net/)



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Humor | Random Stuff
Friday, 09 July 2004 22:45:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback
Omar posts about new Portable Media Center devices available for pre-order on Amazon.com:

 
Creative Labs 20 GB Zen Portable Media Center


Samsung Yepp YH-999 20 GB Portable Media Center

Very nice. Time to do some research and get on the list for one of these. The Media Center Experience is about to take off in a big way. Both can store up to 80 hours of video, be that TV, movies or home movies, over 10,000 songs and up to 100,000 photos. See a demo of what there are all about here.

Windows Mobile-based Portable Media Centers are handheld entertainment devices that make it easy to store and play recorded TV, movies, home videos, music and photos transferred from a PC with Windows XP. You can watch and listen to your favorite entertainment anytime and anywhere – in the palm of your hand or through a TV or stereo. It’s simple to sync your music, video and pictures from your PC with Windows Media Player 10, and fast and easy to find the entertainment you want to play on your device. Portable Media Centers also support Windows Media Audio and Video plus other leading file formats, so you can choose from a wide range of music, videos and pictures.”



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Mobile | Tech | Windows Media Technology
Friday, 09 July 2004 19:33:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Microsoft embraced blogging and open discussion some time ago. Now not only do they allow/encourage their employees to blog about their work and express their own opinions, they've moved all the greatness that is Microsoft-employee-blogging right onto their corporate web site. And they've completely embraced RSS as a delivery mechanism. Practically all their community content is available in RSS feeds. Nice.

From Microsoft's Community site:

We just launched the Microsoft Community Blogs Portal, a searchable listing of blogs by Microsoft employees, categorized by product or technology topic. The project also makes it easier for pages across Microsoft.com to publish lists of relevant blogs and posts from those blogs.

This project was intended to answer one of the key pieces of feedback we get from customers about our blogging efforts to date. As people posted in response to Scoble's question about Microsoft blogs, it’s sometimes hard to find blogs about a particular technology or product that we make, even on a site like blogs.msdn.com which only has full time Microsoft employees blogging. Our answer to that is to ask our bloggers to categorize their RSS feeds (and to indicate whether they’re writing for a technical audience or a more general readership). The blog portal then makes those blogs available for consumption.

The project also provides ways for blog content to be automatically incorporated into pages on Microsoft.com. We’ve already been doing this, in a proof of concept way, on MSDN in the developer centers, but the process has been very manual. This should make it much easier for all our site managers to incorporate blogs.

A nice side effect of the project is the ability to search across all of the registered RSS feeds. So if you aren’t able to find something using regular Microsoft.com search but you think one of our bloggers might have written about it, you can search across all the registered posts from the portal.

Oh yeah, about RSS. A second project which launched yesterday, called Smart Components 2.0, also allows these contextually relevant lists of posts and blogs to be re-published via RSS. What’s that mean? In a nutshell, every one of the blog recent posts components contains a white on orange RSS badge linking to an RSS feed that is scoped to the same content set as the component. The one on the blog portal has an RSS feed of the fifty most recent posts from all registered Microsoft blogs. If I’m on the Exchange community site, there will now be an RSS feed that aggregates posts from registered bloggers who write about Exchange. And we aren’t just RSS-enabling blog content. With the new code that we deployed yesterday, all sorts of smart components on our sites, including lists of newsgroup content, upcoming chats and webcasts, knowledge base articles, and security bulletins now emit RSS.

Finally, what we shipped yesterday was a portal and a toolbox for our site managers to incorporate these features into their sites. We’ll point to uses of the new components as they go live and spread Microsoft blogs and RSS across Microsoft.com. We’ll also write specifics about some of the other new features in the Smart Components 2.0 release.

(Bonus: there are some interesting hidden features in the blog portal.)

ADDED 7/11/04: It's definitely worth noting that despite the “revolutionary” apearance (to some) of Microsoft suddenly being “open,” that's not really the case. I have always been able to talk in depth with many people at Microsoft about the things that I do in my line of work, and they have always been quite open and helpful - both in terms of providing me information I need, and in terms of collecting information from me in order to make sure they're building relevant products.

Josh Allen has a similar opinion:

People at Microsoft blog because they tend to be open, independent, and communicative; not the other way 'round.  Blogs do provide evidence that Microsoft is just a bunch of normal people like any other company; but the blogging isn't the cause of this normalcy -- it's just a new way to communicate that reality.



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Blogging | RSS Stuff | Tech
Friday, 09 July 2004 19:29:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback
 Thursday, 08 July 2004

Oregon Senator Gordon Smith, whose son Garrett committed suicide last year, presented a youth suicide prevention bill in the US Senate today. It passed this evening. The senator made a tearful speech on the floor that brought back some awfully painful memories for me. I have supported this bill since it was first written a few months ago.

I have a personal connection and interest in this bill. My son Brian took his own life four years ago. He was 15. While the months and years since then have been very hard for those of us left behind, our pain cannot be measured against what he must have been feeling. Depression is not an illness that people need die from. Suicide is a terrible and permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people. It is often detectable and preventable. This bill, should it become law - and it should become law - will fund prevention and risk detection programs that will save lives. Young lives. It's important.

Please give this your support. Please tell Senator Smith "thank you" for championing an important bill during a time in his life that I know is wrought with emotional pain.

To Senator Smith - Thank you very much for what you're doing. I'm right there with you.



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Personal Stories
Thursday, 08 July 2004 22:49:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

I posted an entry a month ago about Sprint PCS' new advertisements for wireless service. Since then, I've been inundated with searches for "macaroni minutes" every time I see that ad on TV. These days I can pretty much predict when the commercial has just aired based on when the search referrals start to stack up all of a sudden. It's one of several funny, well-done commercials that poke fun at wireless carriers that charge overage fees and have complicated service plans:

  • Red ball: School children are told that they may play with new red balls, provided they estimate how many minutes they will use the balls during the next two years.
  • Soccer: A student is called off the field and informed that he can’t play anymore this month because he’s used up his minutes.
  • Dinosaur: A class is allowed to watch a video only if one of the students can figure out the complexities of a VCR.
  • The New Kid: A new arrivee in an art class is given much better supplies than the other students have.
  • Macaroni: A student is told that he “is over” on his macaroni minutes and must pay the school $49 immediately.

Some trivia about the ads: They were filmed at Brentwood Christian School in Austin, Texas, and the kids in the ads are actual students there. They were compensated a whole $1500 for their talent, plus they'll get a residual payment for each and every time the commercials air.



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Humor | Random Stuff
Thursday, 08 July 2004 22:19:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Good article by an IT pro named Shannon Kalvar over at TechRepublic about how slightly different approaches to solving the same problem can make a real and significant difference. Worth reading all the way through:

"How tales about server unreliability help save face and influence people"

And he's written a number of other articles that are also worth investing some time in. They cover topics like project management, IT management topics, customer support and measuring success.



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Tech
Thursday, 08 July 2004 21:48:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

On Channel 9 today, there's an interview with Jason Flaks, a Microsoft program manager on the Media Connects team. He demos some of the new Windows Media Connect technology that's set to come out in the future. This is very cool stuff - and it looks like it will be a big market - I know I will be on the wagon!

There's going to be a real market not only for users of these devices and technologies, but for businesses that truly understand them and can help the "common-folk" adopt and use them. Building a complex home media system like we're about to see hit the market is not a trivial task. Sure, it will get easier over time, but for a while a least, there will be a real need for professionals who can take the technology investments made by consumers and make them work really well.

I'm excited about the next wave of media devices and systems. It's been under-reported and under-estimated. All your media (pictures, audio, video) usable across multiple systems and devices. Stream the program recorded on your PC across the network and view it on the screen attached to your XBOX. Project your digital images on the 10-foot projection screen. Listen to your MP3s in any room, and automatically sync your music and video with your portable media device to take with you. Browse your media libraries on the MCE PC from your DVD player. The possibilities are nearly limitless.



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Windows Media Technology
Thursday, 08 July 2004 20:34:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback
 Tuesday, 06 July 2004

Evan Feldman has posted a second installment of his description of Tablet PC Field Trials (see entry Tablet Test, Trials and Tribulations from June 28).

The great thing about Microsoft blogs is that you sometimes get to read insights into what goes on there, stuff that you'd never see otherwise. I enjoy the nitty gritty about how the technologies I use each day came to be:

"There are some things that I can’t really talk too much about but instead, I’ll give some of those secret anecdotes that have been floating around Microsoft that many have never heard before."

Some of the anecdotes are funny, but Evan also includes a few of the more serious ones (things he describes as more difficult to share) that changed the course of the tablet in the early days."

I'm looking forward to the future installments, especially what he eludes to as a future topic : The Tablet as Primary PC.



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Tablet PC | Tech
Tuesday, 06 July 2004 21:49:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Hey. it's a Microsoft link day here at the ol' blog, so... Another useful one:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/itlinks.mspx

Microsoft's IT Pro communities are a good resource for a variety of MSFT servers and technologies. Newsgroups and a huge amount and variety of information - coming from both inside and outside Microsoft:

Would you like to get your computer advice directly from the world’s leading technology experts? Interested in tips from power users or developers? Do you have tips you’d like to share with others? Then you’ve come to the right place. There is a lively community of computer experts and computer users who are taking advantage of the Internet to exchange ideas, information, knowledge, and expertise about Microsoft products and services. The Microsoft Communities Web site provides access to wealth of newsgroups, chats, user groups, tips, and discussions where experts and users who are passionate about Microsoft technologies share their thoughts, help, support, and ideas.



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Tech
Tuesday, 06 July 2004 21:12:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Anyone who deals with computer and network security in their jobs owes it to themselves to check these two security resources now and then. Microsoft's security-related webcasts have been broken down into slightly smaller (it's all relative - 45 minutes is shorter than 2 hours :-)) chunks. You can check out archived presentations as well as sign up for live session to be held in the near future.

In my experience. these are quality webcasts with actual useful information - A great resource for learning as well as staying on top of things. Webcasts provide a forum for addressing things in a fashion that's a lot like the real-world, so the practical use of the information is often better than that from other means of communication. If you happen to catch any of the live webcasts, there is typically a chance to ask questions during the session - so take advantage where needed.



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IT Security
Tuesday, 06 July 2004 16:03:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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A few people have built different little apps to allow you to syndicate SharePoint content via RSS. Bluedog Limited's SyndicationGenerator is a web-part-based RSS generator that makes it really easy to create RSS feeds from specific SharePoint lists. It allows you to place the web part on your server and then allow site admins to use it to set up their own feeds - great if you run a portal and WSS setup with many site admins that don't have access to add or modify web parts on the server. They can just drag-and-drop the web part, specify the list they want to create a feed for, and there you have it: Instant RSS feeds.

After some quick testing done here by a trusted partner, it appears that the web part has a hard time displaying its “Modify Web Part” pane correctly unless you place it on its own web part page. Then it's easy to work with. Cool stuff!

(by way of Travis and others)



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RSS Stuff | SharePoint | Tech
Tuesday, 06 July 2004 15:33:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 04 July 2004

I woke up this morning, bright and early, and was getting ready to head out the door. I decided to check my email real quick, and BAM! ... Tons of referral tracking notifications, all from the same porn URL - So, it looks like someone referral-spammed by blog last night. I just removed all the bad listings, and have been trying to think of a way to prevent this from happening again. I'm coming up short in the ideas department, with the exception of the obvious: turning off referral tracking. I really don't want to do that, though.

It's the first time in quite a number of months that the site has been online, so I'll leave them on and see what happens in the future. Anyone have any bright ideas about preventing referral-listing spamming? Hey - I guess I should just be glad it's not comment spam!



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Blogging | Things that Suck
Sunday, 04 July 2004 07:10:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 03 July 2004

Heading out to pick up a big truck with all the equipment for the fireworks show I'm responsible for firing tomorrow. A few people know that I'm a state-licensed pyrotechnician, and I occasionally shoot public displays around the region. Tomorrow we're in Clatskenie, Oregon (on Hwy 30 between Portland and Astoria) shooting several hundred 4- and 5-inch shells for their city 4th-of-July display. Should be fun! I might take come pictures or quick video and post later. If you happen to be in the area, stop by and enjoy the party the town is throwing. It sounds like a good time.

EDIT: A couple of pictures taken by Travis, showing the trench before and after the mortar tubes were installed:



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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Saturday, 03 July 2004 09:55:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 02 July 2004

IzyNews lets you read your RSS feeds in any email client that does IMAP. No need to add extra software, and you're not restricted to any one client program. Windows, OSX, Linux, Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird - you choose one or more, no problem.

So, you can just upload your OPML file, set up a couple of things on the server, and instantly access IzyNews from any machine or almost any device (anything that'll do IMAP), from anywhere you like. No need to configure each machine or device with OPML files and separate RSS software - just connect via IMAP with whatever client happens to be available on that platform, and you're there.

Cool idea.

(from Jason Lefkowitz's blog via http://www.kunal.org/scoble/)



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RSS Stuff | Tech
Friday, 02 July 2004 20:21:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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A friend recently turned me on to a very cool program - It's a plug-in for Outlook 2000 or later that adds a whole bunch of new features and checks-and-balances that get executed every time you send or receive an email.

Image borrowed from Chris Sells - click to view his comments on the subject.Have you ever sent an email where you told the recipient to "See attached," but forgot to actually attach the file? Ever sent a reply-to-all without realizing you were BCC'ed - only to embarrass yourself or the sender of the original file? Ever forget to reply to all when you should have? Sent huge attachments without realizing how big they were? Sent an email containing angry or inappropriate words, only to regret it later? Chris Sells' image at right explains the potential problem clearly.

LookOut! for Outlook solves these problems. It pretty much does what the humorous picture above depicts. It also allows you to establish a company central database to store contact information, so you can keep track of client communications. And a lot more.

I have been using LookOut! for about a week, and I love it. Just this evening it asked me if I meant to attach a file to an email on which I had just clicked the "Send" button, but where I had forgotten to do so:

Rule: Attachment Word Warning
You mentioned the word 'attach' somewhere in your email, but there are no attachments.

I was then able to choose from options to send the email anyway, or to fix my mistake before sending. Nice.

Now that I've been using it for a little while, I don't think I can put it away - it's just too darn useful and makes too much sense to just stop using it. And that, my friends, is the first sign of really good software.



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Office 2003 | Tech
Friday, 02 July 2004 20:01:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Serge van den Oever suggests using an inexpensive commercial product called WebDrive to connect to SharePoint document libraries and sites via WebDav (note that you can also use WebDrive to connect to other types of servers with a drive letter, as well - WebDrive can connect to WebDAV, FTP, SFTP, and HTTP Servers supporting Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions). See Serge's site for more details about using it with SharePoint:

WebDrive: Accessing SharePoint document libraries through drive letters

I downloaded the trial version and was immediately able to map W: to a document library on MySite on the portal server at work, over a VPN connection, using WebDav. I then transferred files, made sure they work on both ends, ran through the site to make sure everything's operating properly -- It works great!

This will be useful for people who need to map SharePoint "drives" from Windows 2000 or other OS versions, and provides a solid way to repeatedly reconnect drives at login, manage drive-letter connections, etc. On top of using WebDav, you can also connect via FP extensions, FTP, SFTP (SSH), and GroupDrive protocols.

Add WebDrive to the list of useful tools for the SharePoint power user - especially if you're running a version of Windows prior to WinXP and need drive/folder-level access to SharePoint 2003 sites.



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Office 2003 | SharePoint | Tech
Friday, 02 July 2004 17:43:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Greg Hurlsman at squaretwo.net points out a valuable resource that I have been using for some time (since well before I started "blogging," [insider comment: yes, I put that word in there just for Erik :-)] to be sure).

KBAlertz.com allows you to browse, search, and receive notifications of new KB articles related to Microsoft products of your choosing - It's really a must-have resource for system administrators and anyone responsible for understanding and maintaining Microsoft products. It does the hard work for you, and let's you get exactly the information you need. You can subscribe for email notifications, and the emails are formatted nicely and can be delivered on the schedule you choose.

The article at Squaretwo describes how to get the same information via RSS - which is very cool. I use this capability and have found it a great way to catalog articles about the products I am most often dealing with in my job. Anyone who's into RSS and has to deal with maintaining systems or programs, check out the article.



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RSS Stuff | Tech
Friday, 02 July 2004 14:33:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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In response to Download.Ject, Microsoft has just released a patch, which actually makes a change to Windows that disables the ADODB.Stream object in MS Data Access Components. This appears to be more of an intermediate fix than a true patch, to be used until a comprehensive fix that allows ADODB.Stream use without the vulnerability can be prepared.

People can get the update from Windows Update, or at this web page on Microsoft's Downloads web site. If you are a business network user, check with your IT department before you download or apply this fix - They might be applying it for you automatically from a central server, or they may have reasons it should not be applied if there are browser-based applications used that rely on the functionality disabled by this update.

Some will still whine and complain that this is "just a stop-gap fix," and that it doesn't actually repair the flaw. Give it a rest people: This is Microsoft responding to complaints about not getting fixes out soon enough, and they're doing it by making a valuable intermediate fix available to protect users. I applaud that. If you want to have a productive and constrcutive conversation, that's great -- comment here if you like, or go over to the Channel 9 web site, where Microsoft shows it's listening.



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IT Security | Tech
Friday, 02 July 2004 12:40:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 01 July 2004

Dan Fernandez blogged about a new screen saver starter that uses RSS feeds for its display content:

http://blogs.msdn.com/danielfe/archive/2004/06/29/168449.aspx

Loosk like this is Microsoft's first shipped product that includes RSS support. It's the RSS "Screen Saver Starter Kit" in the newly-released C# Express (click to download). The Express programming tools are newly-minted Visual Studio 2005 Express versions.



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RSS Stuff | Tech
Thursday, 01 July 2004 22:33:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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