My window to the world


Even more required tools for Windows Admins: WebDrive

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Aug-2006 18:17

This is part III of a series of posts showing some of the software tools I use on a daily basis. While I previously covered system maintenance tools and private networking before, this time it's a file management tool: WebDrive.

This small tool is a perfect utility for file operations over a network, with the ability to connect to FTP and SFTP servers, WebDAV servers and to the .Mac iDisk service.

What's more important about it? The program does so in a transparent way, and actually maps a drive letter to the server. When used over a private network such as a VPN tunnel or Hamachi, then you have a nice and secure way of accesing your server and copy files from and to it.


As a bonus, WebDrive maps can be used from the command line, making it perfect for scheduling backup operations from scripts for example.

Not a free software, but an important tool on my desktop.




Windows Live Hotspot Locator is... Live!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Aug-2006 10:24

Another live.com application being released by Microsoft is the Windows Live Hotspot Locator. The information present here is not much different from what you get from other sites such as jiwire or even our own Geekzone Find Wi-Fi Hotspot page (data provided by HotSpotHeaven).

Actually the data returned by Microsoft's Windows Live Hotspost Locator is provided by jiwire.

The interesting thing is the complete integration with maps provided by Windows Local Live. The only problem is that all maps are wrong (at least for New Zealand). Take a look in the screenshot below and you will notice that the pushpin is pointing to an address at least six blocks away from the actual location.

But wait, there's more! It doesn't matter what location you select for Wellington, New Zealand, the map is the same. It's not a cache problem, because I tried the same on Firefox (yes, it runs on Firefox and really well!) and the maps were all the same.

Also, for New Zealand results you will see that Telecom New Zealand is listed as "iPass", while CafeNet gets its own label "CafeNet".

So, really, just another service adding to a bunch of well established providers out there... Sorry, but that's the truth.








I am looking for a fast wireless access point router

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2006 18:11

We currently have a Belkin F5D7230-4 here, and although it's a great device (been up 24/7 for the last few years, and another Belkin before that went 24/7 for at least 3 years) I feel like it could deliver a bit more performance.

We have a 10Mbps cable-modem connection here, with my Windows XP Pro desktop, a second Windows XP Pro desktop running Virtual Server with a Windows Server 2003 guest OS, a tablet PC, an Apple iMac and a couple of Pocket PCs. Of those, only the tablet PC and Pocket PCs connect via Wi-Fi. And visitors' devices of course. All other PCs are connected via ethernet.

I also would like to have a better control of its firewall, such as better logging, to know what's going on, alarms, etc. If possible some intrusion detection too.

So, if you have any suggestions I'd like to hear (or read). I don't mind another Belkin, I am happy with the brand, but please no D-Link models - any!







Update your Intel Centrino based laptops Part II

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2006 10:20

A few weeks ago I posted about an update for the wireless drivers used by Centrino-based laptops and tablet PCs (Update your Intel Centrino based laptops and tablet PCs now). This is a follow up post.

I've seen mention to this very important update everywhere on the Internet. But what was not mentioned afterwards was the finding from F-Secure (which was the first to report the vulnerability) of memory leaks in the Intel wireless service used to manage wi-fi connections.

The way to solve this issue is to use the Microsoft Windows Wireless Zero Config service instead and disable/remove the Intel PROSet/Wireless Service, keeping the new drivers in place (or installing the drivers manually).

Instructions from F-Secure and a report from SANS.

You should end up with drivers version 9.0.4.17 even if using the Windows configuration service.







Brace yourself: more e-mail campaigns on its way to New Zealanders!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2006 10:08

An interesting read on NZ Herald today... We found out that Onecard, the loyalty programme run by supermarket operator Progressive Enterprises here in New Zealand (read Woolworths and Foodtown) is now selling e-mail addreses from their database.

The article tells us how marketers can "rent" information for email campaigns from the 1.5 million-name database.

Progressive Enterprises' loyalty programme manager, Bridget Lamont, said companies previously ran traditional direct marketing campaigns using the data, but email gave an additional, low-cost channel.
 
The company had email addresses for about 15 per cent of Onecard members, but was aiming to collect more.

"It cost us a fraction of a traditional direct marketing campaign," said Lamont.


I imagine they probably have a fineprint somewhere in the registration form with something such as "from time to time we will contact you with offers from selected partners" or something along these lines. But this is scary, because an e-mail blitz campaign is much cheaper than voice calls, so companies will probably jump to the opportunity of having a cheap way to flood consumers with their "special offers".

You should either not give up your e-mail address on these forms, or use a spam-catch e-mail and simply disregard these things.



Please make Firefox more user friendly

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2006 09:10

I, like many other PC users, tend to use the most adequate tool for a computer task. Sometimes may not be the best one, but if it performs well, why bother with something else?

Now, a lot of people advocate Firefox. And while it is a good looking browser, and in some respects safer than other alternatives, I don't necessarily want to use it. So I keep with Internet Explorer (by the way, I just installed Internet Explorer 7 Release Candidate 1 and it is a slick browser). 

This week I decided to have Firefox open on my second monitor. You see, even though IE7 seems to do all I need, it still fails to work with some "web 2.0" applications and the only way I could use that was by running Firefox.

And while there, I thought, why not have it showing my server's stats? Easy, just connect to LogMeIn IT Reach (which I talked about before) and... Oh, wait... It needs to install an extension. The yellow bar came out say something like "to install extensions, click the Options button and enable this option".

The button was there. But not the option. I thought I've seen this option before, and rightly disabled it. But where is it to enable again?

Nowehere to be found. So, it took me, an IT professional, about 5 minutes to figure out there was no option anywhere in the menus on Firefox to enable this. And off to Google, where I found all about the "about:config" page.




It's like a regedit for Firefox. Hidden. Away from users. And taking my control of my experience away from me. How non-user friendly was that?

Removing an important option from the menus and burying somewhere hard to find. Security by obscurity? And why the instructions Firefox itself gives me on how to enable installation are not accurate? The yellow bar should not reference the options if it's not there.

After double-clicking the appropriate option, I was able to finally install the proper extension for LogMeIn to work.

Is this kind of little things that makes me go away from an otherwise nice piece of software.

UPDATE: on an IRC chat someone pointed to me this was an oversight, and the software is still Beta. Forgive me, but a Beta software that claims to have an important part of the browser market should not be beta, but considered production. Some people are not here to test applications, but to work with them.





Nick Randolph's new book: Professional Visual Studio 2005

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Aug-2006 15:57

Nick Randolph from Perth, Australia is currently in Wellington, New Zealand on a six month contract. He's also a fellow Microsoft MVP (his competency is Visual Developer - Device Application Development, while mine is Mobile Devices) and is already integrated into the Wellington user group crowd (plus attends my Wednesday coffee meetings at Astoria).

He's also an author and his latest book Professional Visual Studio 2005 (co-authored with Andrew Parsons) is available from Amazon:



He's the guy on the right side on the cover. Well done, Nick! You can find more on Nick Randolph's blog.




Geekzone plug on Microsoft TechEd 2006

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Aug-2006 15:25

This year's Microsoft TechEd is just finished (we even managed to get an interview with Charlie Chung about Microsoft Exchange 2007 features for IT Admins and mobile users) and I am watching some of the videos available on their on-line presence, TechEd Live.


One of the videos is with Microsoft's Darryl Burling showing some of the live.com features, more specifically how to add some site feeds to your personal page and some more detailed information on Microsoft Gadgets. And he uses Geekzone as an example on how to add a site's feed to your page.

Check the video here (Geekzone appears at about 1 minute 40 seconds).

We also have a Geekzone Blog gadget for live.com, available from the official Geekzone Blog.






Newsgator Enterprise Server 1.4.1 is out now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Aug-2006 10:41

Nice! Newsgator Enterprise Server, my other favourite software running on my Windows Server (the other one is Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP2) is out now with a new version. NGES 1.4.1 has just been released and brings some cool features:


Synchronization with NewsGator Client Software- NGES now synchronizes subscriptions and read states with NewsGator Inbox, FeedDemon and NetNewsWire. The benefits are pretty dramatic. On the Microsoft Outlook side, companies can choose to deploy client-less (via Exchange integration) or install the Inbox plug-in. While the latter requires software installation, it has some cool bells and whistles (which I why I use it) and removes the need to talk to Exchange (or the Exchange admin).

Enhanced Directory Server Integration
- With the release of NGES 1.3, we added support for LDAP-compliant directory servers. We not only made that integration tighter, but we added tools for the administrator to specify the exact groups and users to import and synchronize (and control allowable user types to import).

Improved Podcast Support- The NGES web interface now automatically detects podcast enclosures and highlights them for users.

Category Filtering- The NGES web interface offers a great addition for finding relevant content with the Category Filter.

Additional Reports- Based on requests from several customers, we added some additional reports to the Reporting tab of the Administration section.

Security Modifications- Last, but certainly not least, we made some modifications on the security front. SSL certificates are no longer required for AD-integrated installations as the Exchange username and password have been removed from the administrative screens and are now modified with the configuration wizard. Usernames and passwords for the SQL Server account are now stored in encrypted format for extra security. Finally, potentially harmful enclosure tags are automatically removed from posts and prevented from displaying.


Very good stuff. I am running version 1.0 here and keen to get the new version and install it. I have been talking to Newsgator to arrange this and a demo to walk through the new bits so I can find out more about it.

You can read our review of the NGES software in the main Geekzone review section.




And people complain about Telecom New Zealand? Try Verizon...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Aug-2006 23:51

According to an article in BusinessWeek, Verizon imposes new DSL surcharge. But wait, there is more!

The surcharge will initially be $1.20 a month for customers with service up to 768 kilobits per second and $2.70 per month for customers with faster DSL service, according to the company.

The fee comes as a government fee on DSL customers for the Universal Service Fund is being phased out. For customers with service up to 768 kpbs, the fee was $1.25 a month, and for customers with service of up to 3 Mbps, the fee was $2.83 a month, according to Verizon. Customers will no longer pay such charges effective Aug. 14, New York-based Verizon said.


The bold is mine. According to the article the company lobbied the FCC (Federal Communications Commision) to deregulate the DSL market, and remove the surcharge, to immediatelly after implement its own surcharge because

... [of] new costs that we've developed over the past year as we've been developing and delivering this standalone DSL service. That service doesn't have the benefit of the revenue that was coming in from voice.


And people here complain of Telecom New Zealand? We haven't seen everything companies can do, yet...

UPDATE: The FFC is investigating why Verizon is applying this surcharge instead of simply increasing the base price of their services, if this is a cost-related charge, as the company claims. More information here.




freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I work for Intergen and I'm also the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

Subscribe now to my blog RSS feed or the Geekzone RSS feed.

If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

If you'd like to help me keep Geekzone going, please use this Geekzone Amazon affiliate link when placing any orders on Amazon.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

Social networks presence

View Mauricio Freitas's profile on LinkedIn


My Blog by tags...

Blog...
Entrepreneurship...
Media...
Personal...
Technology...
Viral Marketing...
Web Performance Optimization...
Windows...
Windows Phone...

Other recent posts in my blog

Trackers - How technology is h...
Geekzone is a ESET NetGuide We...
Windows Phone and Android apps...
Minister for Economic Developm...
Your NAS and the Bash vulnerab...
Going to Microsoft TechEd New ...
State of Browsers Geekzone Mar...
Free speech...
Testing the Kingston DataTrave...
Telecom enforces SSL email, us...

New posts on Geekzone