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Windows Vista Search Whitepaper

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Aug-2007 11:39

I was given the go ahead to share this White Paper with my readers and community at large... Seeing that "search" is one of the biggest advance in Windows Vista - some say "the biggest" - it would be good for us to understand this a bit better.

The Windows Search Technologies Overview for Business Customers is a XPS document written by Arvind Mishra, Product Manager for Search, covering search from an enterprise perspective, but with lots of insights that would be of interest for personal use and small business as well.

This is one "exclusive", seeing this document is not yet available (soon on the Microsoft site somethere), but the folks at Microsoft were nice to let us share this with you.

Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition - but no Halo 3

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Aug-2007 09:12

I wasn't the only one to be surprised with the news that the upcoming Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition actually doesn't come with the Halo 3 game.

What kind of marketing decision is this?

According to the press release, the Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition Console comes on an exclusive ‘Spartan green and gold’ finish and comes bundled with an "exclusive collection" of matching Halo 3 accessories.

But no Halo 3 game.

Owners will have access to Halo 3 Gamer Pics and Theme, only available via Xbox LIVE download.

The Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition Console contains these components:

• Halo 3 Special Edition Console
• Halo 3 Special Edition Wireless Controller
• Halo 3 Special Edition 20GB Hard Drive
• Halo 3 Special Edition Wired Headset
• Halo 3 Special Edition Gamer Pics and Theme
• Component HD AV Cable
• Ethernet Cable
• HDMI Port
• Play & Charge Kit
• Xbox LIVE Silver Membership
• One-month Xbox LIVE Gold Membership

But no actual Halo 3 game.

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 tip: use virtual SCSI drives

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Aug-2007 20:57

When I created my Windows Server 2003 virtual machine a few years ago I didn't know that using the virtual SCSI interface instead of the virtual IDE interface would provide me with about 20% increased performance.

Now I know - and I am using Acronis True Image to clone the current IDE-based virtual HD to a SCSI-based virtual HD.

In the process I am also adding a few gigabytes to this virtual drive. The SCSI virtual interface allows for larger drives too.

The only thing that surprised me was the requirement to reactivate the Windows Server just because of the virtual SCSI interface addition. For me a minor change, but for Windows Server 2003 "significant", even though it was adding the interface, not replacing it.

Again New Zealand DST: have you updated and tested your systems?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Aug-2007 19:48

This is another reminder for you IT admins out there to udpate and test your systems before the updated New Zealand DST comes into force.

I have discussed about this before and it appears now some patches are available for Microsoft Windows systems.

The links to a Microsot Australia Technet page, which seems to be a more updated version of the Microsoft New Zealand Timezone page.

The [New Zealand] Minister of Internal Affairs, Rick Barker, announced in April that the period of daylight saving was being extended to 27 weeks.  From this year, daylight saving will start on the last Sunday in September and end on the first Sunday in April the following year.  Accordingly, the next period of daylight saving will start on Sunday 30 September 2007 (when 2:00am becomes 3:00am) and end on Sunday 6 April 2008 (when 3:00am becomes 2:00am). 

The only change is to the length of the period of daylight saving (daylight time).  Daylight time is still one hour in advance of New Zealand standard time, and in the Chatham Islands, daylight time is still one hour and 45 minutes in advance of New Zealand standard time. 

If you have doubts or need help, contact your Microsoft representative.

For other systems, check the comments in my previous posts here and here.

Server backup, migrating to virtual machine and disaster recovery with Acronis

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Aug-2007 17:22

This is another post I would link to the "tools for Windows administrators" series... I spent the last few days installing and configuring my environemnt to use Acronis software for disc image backup.

The idea was to have an automatic backup configuration that would allow me to restore the Geekzone server to any other host in a matter of hours, with minimum loss, if anything bad happened.

But in the process I found that the software also provides a great way to migrate physical machines to virtual machines!

To start with I installed the Acronis Backup Server and the Acronis Management Console on my home server (in Wellington) running Windows Vista. Plugged to this machine I have an 1 TB Maxtor HDD for backup of all PCs around here - and the Geekzone server.

On the Geekzone server (in Auckland) I installed Acronis True Image Windows Agent and Acronis True Image Enterprise Server engine. This allows me to use the Management Console (pictured below) from here to manage remote backups if needed.

The Backup Server allows me create a backup area with parameters such as number of backups to store, when to consolidate full backups and incremental backups and more.
The full backup (which only happens every couple of weeks) takes about three hours to complete, over a 10 Mbps cable connection (which I hope to increase to 25 Mbps when TelstraClear decide to come out with their already announced new product). Daily incremental backups take about 45 minutes 15 minutes.

To test the restoration I created a virtual machine with Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 (which I already have installed on my home server to run test and development machines) and booted it from a special restore CD containing the Acronis Universal Restore.

After booting it automatically connected through my LAN to the Backup Server, and after authentication I was able to choose from various backup sets on that space. I started the restore process, which took about two hours. Once completed I rebooted the virtual machine, logged in and installed Virtual Additions.

The server came up ok, immediately recognised the network connection and I had not changed anything - it means I can restore my production server to other hardware or even to a virtual environment with minimum downtime.

If you want to just migrate a physical machine to a virtual machine you could just use a Microsoft tool for that - but they require chages in configuration before and after, while I found out that using this method I needed nothing but the Acronis software to have this running.

Too many updates

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Jul-2007 10:17

I have just installed a Windows XP Service Pack 2 virtual machine for a trivial task. No need for Windows Vista for this task, I need something that can run on 128MB RAM, fast with the less disk space as possible. But can't be a Linux box. So Windows XP Service Pack 2 fits the bill.

To make it smaller and leaner I removed any non-essential tools - games, cursors, Windows Media Player. And Outlook Express.

Then I started applying the required updates - all 78 "important updates", and then we still have another 10 "optional updates", and I am sure there will be more updates to the updates after a reboot.

But why install a security update for Outlook Express, a tool I have explicitly removed from this install?

What a waste of time, bandwidth and space...

Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 coming soon

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Jul-2007 08:46

There are lots of rumours around the Internet about an upcoming Windows Vista Sevice Pack 1. I can only say that it will be welcome - there are lots of small things that could work much better on Windows Vista - including some ReadyBoost problems, SD card support, slow shutdown and other minor annoyances.

Mary Jo Foley lists on her blog fixes we could expect to see:

* Performance tweaks lessening the amount of time it takes to copy files and shut down Vista machines (Yeah, I know Microsoft said Viista shutdown speed wasn’t an issue. Guess users weren’t so crazy, after all.)
* Improved transfer performance and decreased CPU utilization via support for SD Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA)
* Support for ExFat, the Windows file format for flash memory storage and other consumer devices
* Improvements to BitLocker Drive Encryption to allow not just encryption of the whole Vista volume, but also locally created data volumes
* The ability to boot Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) on an x64 machine
* Improved success rate for firewalled MeetingSpace and Remote Assistance connections

I am using a UMPC

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Jun-2007 21:25

For my benefit (carrying a rather large laptop is not good for your back), I decided to give a try to Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPC).

I am thinking it can be quite useful when going to my weekly meeting, or simply away for a weekend, where I don't expect to have to work 100% of the time, but would like to keep in contact via e-mail or even catch up with my RSS feeds.

So I got the TabletKiosk EO v7110 off Darryl, who is now going around with a Samsung Q1. I have Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate installed on this UMPC (instructions to install Windows Vista on UMPC here), plus Avast, Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007, Skype, FeedDemonHamachi and BeInSync to keep my UMPC always synchronised to my laptop. I have just downloaded and installed Ilium Software's InScribe, a free software keyboard for UMPC and Tablet PCs.

I also tried the Vodafone vodem (HSDPA) and it's working well so I have cellular data connectivity if I can't connect to a Wi-Fi network. I am using the vodem because it's a USB device - this UMPC does not have Express Card or PC Card interfaces so I can't use the better performing Vodafone Merlin XU870 (HSDPA) or the much faster Telecom AirCard 595 (CDMA EVDO).

So far so good, the user interface is similar to the Tablet PC, which I am used to, so no big learning curve.

I recommend installing a remote control software such as GoToMyPC (or the free LogMein) so that you can use your bigger laptop or desktop sometimes - I am configuring this device, updating stuff, copying files and instead of using the much smaller screen I just have to connect to it and remote control the device:

Bummer is the smallish hard drive. I have only 10 GB free now, which is going to be a problem if I wanted to have a bigger media library loaded into it.

Just for kicks, below is the Windows Vista Performance Index:

For comparison, this is the Windows Vista Performance Index for my current laptop:


Let's see how it goes.

UPDATE: It works well, and it is synchronising to my laptop with no problems. I only wish that TabletKiosk would make the drivers compatible with Vista. The touchscreen doesn't work until you login, and don't try downloading any drivers from Windows Update, because this will most likely make you have to return to a previous Restore Point, as it happened to me. It also has problems coming back from Sleep, which is a bummer because this is one of the main functions for a UMPC, right?

Windows Live Folders live... but not so fast

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Jun-2007 09:10

I really don't like the way Microsoft does things, launching, but not launching. Like Windows Live Folders, an open beta which is supposed to be live now. But it's not:

Windows Live Folder not available in New Zealand
My system language is set as English (New Zealand). And no, I am not changing my system to satisfy their silly requirements.

Their loss. Let's use AOL's Xdrive instead. It offers up to 5 GB free, instead of 500 MB of Windows Live Folders.

UPDATE: To access the Windows Live Folders with US English directly use this link.

Microsoft please stop messing with my location

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jun-2007 09:45

This morning I tried to visit the Microsoft Support microsite to check a KB for more information on a suggested automatic update for my Windows Vista 64 bit system.

Much to my surprise, instead of the usual Microsoft U.S. support site I was greeted with the Microsoft Hong Kong site:

Firefox correctly goes to the U.S. site... And If I restart Internet Explorer then it goes to the correct page. But I don't want to lose all the other tabs and pages I have loaded!

Hello! My system is set as English (New Zealand), and so is Internet Explorer. I have no idea what this page says - lucky there's an "english" version, but I don't want that version. Microsoft, please stop messing with people's destinations.

Or shall I start rebooting Windows Vista every day now?

freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
New Zealand

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

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

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 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.

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