Sunday, 01 August 2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, 01 August 2004 13:16:19 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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I often lose track of things I want to write about in my blog. You know how you'll browse to some web site, see something you want to maybe keep track of or find again later, but when "later" actually comes, you're out of luck and don't have a record of it? Or maybe you save all those random links as "favorites" or "bookmarks" in your browser, but all that does is make for a long, useless list of items that you don't use because it's too random.

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, 01 August 2004 12:33:01 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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 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 17:59:44 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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 18:34:46 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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 09:53:48 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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 20:39:01 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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):

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:

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.

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Office 2003 | OneNote | Tech
Wednesday, 28 July 2004 07:26:05 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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 18:10:47 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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 18:05:13 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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 17:53:17 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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

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Tuesday, 27 July 2004 16:37:00 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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 08:24:39 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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:

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Movies | Random Stuff
Friday, 23 July 2004 17:04:07 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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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Friday, 23 July 2004 10:43:03 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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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 08:52:29 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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