My window to the world

Kudos to AdventNet

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Nov-2006 20:05

Some time ago I posted a series of entries in my blog about valuable tools for Microsoft Windows Server admins. One of the tools I praised back then was ManageEngine Applications Manager from AdventNet.

AppManager is not limited to Windows Server machines. It also works with Windows Server, Windows clients, Linux, and Unix machines.

Note that I am not a paying customer. I am using the free version of their software, which allows me to add up to 5 monitors. I use this to keep an eye on my local Windows Server and the remote server running Geekzone.

This web based tool provides the admin of a single or multiple servers a lot of information that would otherwise require many hours of work and hundreds of scripts to collate.

After upgrading my local server I decided to update the software from version 6 to version 7. It all went nicely, but I had to delete one server. And the problems started.

As soon as I tried to add the server back to the monitor the CPU would go to 100% and require me to reboot my server.

I logged a fault with AdventNet, and in a few days I received an e-mail asking for more information, and a debug program to trace the SNMP requests.

After a couple more days I got a phone call from AdventNet and we looked through more settings.

Today I received a second phone call, from 6pm through 8:10pm - that's more than two hours on an international phone call. Using WebEx their developers looked through the application database, tested the issues, applied a fix and put the application to work again.

How is this for an excellent support service for a customer using their free version?

I can only recommend their product and services now. By the way, AdventNet is the company behind the Zoho web-based office tools (think of word processing, presentation, collaboration, spreadsheet, CRM, project management).

Prepare your Windows Servers and Windows Mobile devices (and self) for timezone changes

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Nov-2006 11:54

For a few years now we have seen an interesting fault happening with Windows Mobile Pocket PC and Smartphones that rely on a Microsoft Exchange Server to synchronise their appointments.

Windows Mobile users in New Zealand, Australia and some other countries have reported appointments are moved to and from the device with an one hour difference from the actual time. This happens only during the week immediately before or after the start of Daylight Saving Time in those countries.

I have raised this issue with Microsoft before because we had reports of this in our Geekzone forums.

We read some horror stories here, such as the CEO (or Chairman?) of a large telco who missed a flight because the Pocket PC appointment was one hour off. And this is just one example.

The answer was always something along the lines of "the timezone information on a Pocket PC is stored/managed on a dll file and an update would require the deployment of a new signed dll to millions of devices, and OEMs would need to update older devices, etc, etc".

In short the answer was "sorry, this is a fault, but there's no immediate fix". The only fix for this was to (inappropriately) change the timezone on the device, which would cause more problems if you actually created a new appointment directly on the device during that week.

Interestingly enough things have changed. You see, the Energy Policy Act 2005 is going to be inforced and according to the Wikipedia entry:

The bill amends the Uniform Time Act of 1966 by changing the start and end dates of daylight saving time starting in 2007. Clocks will be set ahead one hour on the second Sunday of March instead of the current first Sunday of April. Clocks will be set back one hour on the first Sunday in November, rather than the last Sunday of October. This will affect accuracy of electronic clocks that had pre-programmed dates for adjusting to daylight saving time. The date for the end of daylight saving time has the effect of increasing evening light on Halloween (October 31).

Now it seems the DST problem will affect the U.S. consumers and organisations as well...

And guess what? Microsoft came out with a registry fix for this, applicable to old Windows Mobile devices from Windows Mobile 2003 and newer.

But isn't this against to what they kept telling us before?

So, go ahead with your conspiracy theories, but to be safe, you need to work with these Knowledge Base articles (only if applicable).

First make sure you check the Knowledge Base article 928388 2007 time zone update for Microsoft Windows operating systems:

The update that this article describes changes the time zone data to account for the United States DST change. This time zone update will also include changes for other related DST changes, time zone behavior, and settings. Some of these changes will occur in 2007, and some have occurred since these versions of Windows were originally released. The update that this article describes also includes some changes that have previously been released as individual hotfixes. An example of this is the Sri Lanka change in time zone offset. This update will also include some changes that have been individually documented in Microsoft Knowledge Base articles

Next, read the Knowledge Base article 923953 How to configure daylight saving time for the United States and Canada in 2007 and in subsequent years on Windows Mobile-based devices. Note that it mentions some .inf files converted to .cab files to be loaded on your device. Why is Microsoft not releasing the files? It only makes things harder for end users. But fear nothing, visit pdaphonehome and dowload a installer from there.

By the way, good luck trying to load something that changes your registry on a Smartphone. Pocket PC phone users are lucky though.

Also note this impacts Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP2. According to Microsoft a patch will be available in January 2007 for these servers:

A test version of this update is now available to businesses that wish to test the impact of the upcoming time zone changes. A copy of the update can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center. For more information please refer to Knowledge Base article 926666.

The test version of this update is only intended for use in testing environments. A final version of this update for production deployment will be released in January 2007 through Microsoft Customer Support Services (CSS), Microsoft Download Center, and Microsoft Update.

For a wealthy of information on this topic, visit Microsoft's page Preparing for daylight saving time changes in 2007.

Thrive Wellington 2006 - the report

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Nov-2006 19:49

As posted before, I spent most of the day attending the Thrive Wellington 2006 sessions. Interesting programme, some notable speakers and food for thought.

First of all, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the MC Paul Holmes (pictured). Very different from the TV character, more likeable and enjoyable. Even funny. If I had something like this on Geekzone 2007 (or further), he could be the one (but I guess he charges too much for our small event).

I was late for the first few sessions, because of the late invite and my morning routine. So I missed the Welcome with Paul Winter (EMA Central), followed by John Heng (Click Clack) and Michael Hill (Michael Hill Jeweler).

Noticed something? Yes, it's all about manufacture and retail. The event was organised by the Employers' and Manufacturers' Association (Central), so you won't see anything about services listed here. And no Internet businesses either. And not a mention of web 2.0, although I met Peter Torr Smith ( there. And he noticed the same.

Back to the event. It looked like a TV talk show, with Paul Holmes interviewing the guests (and sometimes the guest going through a presentation). The stage was really well done, and the organisation was great. They also had 20 exhibitors (including Telecom New Zealand - Orb) showing their services and products geared towards business owners.

I did catch the Ralph Waters (Fletcher Building) chat with Paul Holmes, which was really good. He compared New Zealand production with a similarly sized country in population (Ireland, approximately 4 million people) and questioned how the cement consumption here is much smaller than there. He also questioned the media role in always pointing out the bad stuff instead of showing a "can do" attitude (something I agree with).  I just think it was strange that his definition of "media" doesn't include the Internet, only newspapers and TV.

Next up was Richard Tweedie (Todd Energy), with a brief history of the Todd group, where they work, and other stuff related to energy generation, including an interesting video about gas exploration in high sea.

I missed the next sessions because of a lunch meeting on the other side of the Wellington CBD, but was back in the afternoon to roam the stalls and attend Neville Findlay (Zambesi)'s session on starting a business - and what a story from being an engineer to owning a fashion design company.
Tony Kerridge (Cafe L'affare) has got to get the award for being the funniest guest speaker. He told the audience about Cafe L'affare business, selling it out to the Japanese food group Cerebos Gregg's, how they had to introduce the "cafe culture" in Wellington to create the business around it. Very entertaining.

Gareth Morgan's session on retirement, planning and KiwiSaver was very entertainment, albeit painting a daunting prospect of insurance companies as "sharks" feeding on the money kiwis will save for their retirement. What a character, I say. And he had the best presentation in terms of multimedia, starting with some cool shots from his motorbike travels on screen before he entered the stage.

Gareth was followed with some music by Boh Runga, a panel discussion between Paul Holmes and some of the guest, and finally by a chat between Paul Holmes and Rugby Union star Jonah Lomu.

Jonah Lomu (pictured) was the "motivational speaker" for this event. He told us about receiving the All Blacks jersey from the hands of Colin Meads before his first test, his kidney transplant in 2004, and how he's working now in coming back to the sport.

As I said, no one talked about Internet technologies, or even IT for that matter. Naturally, as this was mainly a manufacturers' event, and most of Internet technologies are in the services area, I wouldn't expect Rod Drury to show up there. But still it seemed like IT and Internet didn't exist at all.

I was interested to find out how technology support their success, how it can be used to increase our presence in the international markets and other stuff related.

I wonder if anyone else will blog about Thrive Wellington...

Thrive Wellington 2006

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Nov-2006 08:57

I had no idea about Thrive Wellington 2006 happening today - until a wake call early this morning telling me I had my name in the list and I could stop by and attend the sessions.

Check the list of guest speakers:

- Paul Holmes (MC)
- Paul Winter, CEO, EMA Central
- John Heng, CEO, Click Clack
- Michael Hill, Entrepreneur and Founder, Michael Hill Jewelery
- Ralph Waters, Fletcher, NZ business leader of year (2004)
- Richard Tweedie, Managing Director, Todd Energy
- Mathew Gilligan, Director, Gilligan Rowe & Associates
- Lezlie Mearns, Founder and Managing Director, Maxim Group
- Neville Findlay, Entrepreneur & Founder, Zambesi
- Peter Maire, Entrepreneur and Navman Founder
- Gareth Morgan, Founder, Infometrics
- Jonah Lomu, Rugby’s first global superstar
- Paul Winter, CEO, EMA Central

A business event like no other, Thrive Wellington is everything you ever wanted to know about ambition, growth and all-round business success. On the 24th of November, 2006 Thrive Wellington is back, bigger and better than ever, with a revitalised brand and an action-packed programme of practical advice from world class entrepreneurs, sporting greats and our best creative talent.

Thrive Wellington is the big day out for business people like you, staged in a unique theatrical setting, with a full buffet lunch, trade show and post-event networking function. If you haven’t experienced Thrive Wellington, brace yourself, this is no normal business event - it’s a business show!

  • Learn from the best about business strategy, branding, commercial creativity and innovation
  • Find out what makes other successful people tick
  • Get practical advice and strategies you can take back to the workplace
  • Be motivated and inspired to go for growth in your enterprise
  • Recharge your ambition to succeed
  • Network with 1000+ other motivated business owners and executives

  • Ok, because I have some stuff to do this morning I will be in for the late morning sessions and do a bit of networking.

    Thanks to Anthony at Todd Energy for the tip!

    Security gates on your OS

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Nov-2006 11:17

    After posting about Vodafone's VMC Lite not being compatible with non-Admin modes on Windows, and going into a bit of discussion on why this is not good, I've found this image:

    I think the picture shows pretty much the current situation in terms of security and why people should work towards a better, safer system.

    I know a temporary privilege elevation feature is already in place in some platforms. For example the Mac OS nags you for authentication when you want to install a software or update. And even if you are an administrator you are not "root" (which is disabled by default on Mac OS).

    The same type of security is coming from Microsoft with Windows Vista enhanced security features, which includes an extended User Account Control (UAC step-by-step guide).

    Why is this important to note here? Because there are no doubts that Windows is the platform of choice for the majority of companies, and the default platform for many users who purchase they systems from OEM manufacturers.

    Vodafone VMC Lite and security

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Nov-2006 22:48

    In those days when companies limit user accounts in their PCs to have no or only minimum administrator rights, and Microsoft is pushing Windows Vista enhanced security features, including an extended User Account Control (here is a UAC step-by-step guide), it is unacceptable that companies release software that requires administrator rights to run.

    Following a friend's request to test the vodem on a non-Admin account, I was surprised with this dialog box:

    Vodafone vodem requires administrator level to run

    While Windows XP would require Administrator rights to install software, with Windows Vista UAC provides ways around this, by temporarily elevating privileges:

    User Account Control (UAC) is a new security component Windows Vista. UAC enables users to perform common tasks as non-administrators, called standard users in Windows Vista, and as administrators without having to switch users, log off, or use Run As. A standard user account is synonymous with a user account in Windows XP. User accounts that are members of the local Administrators group will run most applications as a standard user. By separating user and administrator functions while enabling productivity, UAC is an important enhancement for Windows Vista.

    The primary difference between a standard user and an administrator in Windows Vista is the level of access the user has over core, protected areas of the computer. Administrators can change system state, turn off the firewall, configure security policy, install a service or a driver that affects every user on the computer, and install software for the entire computer. Standard users cannot perform these tasks and can only install per-user software.

    You can see how important is to run as user, instead of Administrator. And even Administrators still need elevation in some cases.

    Vodafone has released some updated Mac OS drivers for Intel-based Mac computers, so they are working on vodem support for new OS versions. Based on some Geekzone forum posts it seems Vodafone is working on a vodem driver for Windows Vista. Let's see if they release a new VMC Lite that does not require Administrator privileges to run.

    I wonder what's the situation with Telecom New Zealand's dialer for their range of 3G cards?

    Windows Vista RTM Lab, CES 2007

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Nov-2006 11:24

    It's confirmed now, I got an invitation from Microsoft to attend the Windows Vista RTM Lab in Las Vegas, happening just a couple of days before the 2007 International CES (Consumer Electronics Show), which I will be also attending.

    "Time for us to get together for a final review of the exciting developments that you’ll be using with Windows Vista.  This time, we’re offering you the opportunity to learn even more about how the technology included for the release of Windows Vista will affect other products. This will give you more knowledge and insight that you’ll need before the worldwide release of Windows Vista.

    We’re inviting you to come to this event prior to the Consumers Electronics Show (CES) to be held January 8th-12th , with the opening keynote by Bill Gates on the evening of January 7th.  Our Lab will be held on January 6th and 7th  with a special event on Saturday evening.  This schedule will allow you to attend the Bill Gates’ keynote after our Lab as well as give you as much time at CES as you’d like."

    As in previous years we will be walking around the CES show floor and looking for interesting stuff to post on Geekzone, attend a few parallel technology events and once again meet the Windows Vista team and other website owners.

    I am looking for a company willing to sponsor a trip for a second person to the CES - if you want to help us, contact me directly.

    The long TelstraClear outage

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Nov-2006 06:08

    I understand things happen. But an ISP outage that lasts for 8 hours (and counting)?

    TelstraClear exceeded its record this time. Last night during the Geekzone Weekly Chat we had a TesltraClear person between us. A shame he left minutes before my connection died at 8:46pm. Since then I have to thank Vodafone NZ for its service in the area I live.

    I called the TelstraClear help desk and was greeted with a message saying something about a power outage causing Internet and cable TV outages in Kapiti, and thought this could be related.

    However it's now 6:15am and the service is not back yet.

    I am preparing myself to call TelstraClear and endure the 45 minutes wait, their endless requests to power cycle the cable modem (I've done this already multiple times without success) and at the end something like "We will have to send a technician".

    If it is something like previous small outages, the service will be restored like magic and I will have to call again, wait 45 minutes and cancel the visit.

    But it's not only me. There are other people reporting the same in this area.

    Is this going to be the longest TelstraClear outage in Wellington in 2006? We still have another 6 weeks to go you know?

    UPDATE: This connection came back between 7am and 8am - about 11 hours outage.

    UPDATE: I have posted an update on an on-going discussion in our Geekzone Forums.

    CDMA EV-DO versus WCDMA in the U.S.

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Nov-2006 21:12

    This is an interesting topic. It may not be something our Europeans readers worry about, but it is certainly an interesting topic for New Zealanders, Australians and North Americans (U.S mainly)-based users of mobile technologies.

    I am talking about the CDMA EV-DO versus WCDMA debate. While GSM (and its evolutionary path GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA (a.k.a UMTS), HSDPA) is the dominant mobile technology in Europe, other regions see a balance of forces between GSM and CDMA technologies (here represented by CDMA 1xRTT, 1xEV-DO Rev 0, 1xEV-DO Rev A).

    In New Zealand for example, the situation is almost a 50/50 split in number of users of each of those two technologies, although in terms of 3G coverage CDMA (Telecom New Zealand) has a bit more than GSM (Vodafone New Zealand).

    I just finished reading a guest post by Chetan Sharma, on Om Malik's blog about EV-DO vs WCDMA in the U.S. and here is an interesting bit:

    In terms of network coverage, even though Cingular (then AT&T Wireless) got a head start with its ceremonial UMTS deployment in four markets, Verizon and Sprint Nextel have jumped much further ahead in terms of national coverage. While Cingular has only covered 52 major markets in 28 states (just over 50% market) thus far, both Verizon and Sprint are nearing complete nation-wide coverage. T-Mobile won’t get into the picture until well into 2007. Alltel, the number 5 carrier in the US has been spreading its EV-DO coverage as well.

    In the critical area of handsets, EV-DO is ahead by a mile. As of Sept 2006, there were 15 3G handsets available in the market (representing approximately 20% of the available handsets from big four), Fourteen of those handsets were for EV-DO (10 from Verizon, 4 from Sprint Nextel) vs. five UMTS/HSDPA 6handsets from Cingular.

    Wow... How different from down under. Here in good old New Zealand is the opposite in terms of handsets. Everyone I know (or post in our Geekzone forums), complain that Telecom New Zealand's handsets are not "sexy" enough to attract the youger crowd, and not interesting enough to attract the older people.

    By the way, a current joke on Geekzone is about a MSM journalist who wrote an article about Telecom New Zealand (a CDMA operator) planning to migrate to "Wireless CDMA" (his version of WCDMA). As if there would be any other type of CDMA...

    Windows Vista RTM: install experience

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Nov-2006 19:01

    Well, as soon as I was told Windows Vista RTM was available for MSDN subscriber I started the download. I think I was lucky and did it at the right time, because my download took less than 2 hours 30 minutes, and I was able to quickly grab an activation key.

    Installation was a breeze and it took less than 20 minutes. Great stuff. Unfortunatelly upgrade from Windows Vista RC2 wasn't an option available. Meno male, since I am not a big fan of inplace upgrades, and I consider this not a beta version anymore so I wasn't going to test this scenario.

    My desktop configuration is based on an ASUS P5WD2 Premium motherboard, currently with 2GB DDR2 RAM and a 160GB SATA HDD. I wasn't running the latest BIOS on this machine, but Windows Vista RC1 and Windows Vista RC2 were both running ok - but how wrong I was...

    After installing Windows Vista RTM my fist boot resulted on a BSDO. Upon a Safe Boot I found it was on crcdisk.sys. A quick check on Google showed this is a problem on 64 bit CPUs - hardly my case. Off to fresh install the OS again.

    It worked fine for a while, but continuously locking up for up to 3 minutes, unresponsive, but suddenly coming back to live.

    Anyway, the system had no sound (it uses Realtek HD Sound) and I visited Windows Update to try and find the driver. No luck there. I ended up manually downloading the official Realtek driver. I wonder where are the 19,500+ drivers on the DVD?

    Soon after installing the sound driver the system rebooted itself, and guess what? A big nice BSOD on loading crcdisk.sys... After quickly talking to Brad Stewart we decided I should give the System Recover tool from the boot DVD a shot. It worked its magic, finding a few errors in the registry.

    I proceeded to install Microsoft 2007 Office System RTM, which worked ok. But Microsoft Outlook 2007 was freezing and complaining about its .OST file...

    At this point I decided to find if there was a BIOS update for this motherboard. Indeed there is a BIOS update, although not one aimed at Windows Vista. After trying many times (the ASUS website is horrible) I managed to download the file, create a bootable FDD and install this BIOS.

    It seems now this is working fine. The BSOD doesn't happen anymore, I am copying my files back from the external backup drive, and Outlook is no longer complaining.

    There are some new problems though... I can't start System Restore to manually create a restore point. It complains with an error dialog "There was an unexpected error: Class not registered (0x80040154). Please close System Restore and try again."... Frustrating, and I can't find a solution. The closest I found is here, and is just a query. Still no solution for this.

    Next is the existence of four or five "white" icons in the Control Panel, with no caption, and not doing anything when double-clicked. Strange.

    Then there are a couple of "unknown devices" in the Hardware Manager. They were not "unknown" to Windows Vista RC2.

    And my SD card reader, which used to work as a ReadyBoost device with Windows Vista RC2, is no longer a "ReadyBoost" capable device with RTM. Drats.

    Why, would you ask, you simply don't reinstall Windows Vista RTM now that your BIOS is up-to-date and things seem to be running ok?

    Because Microsoft made a mistake with keys for Microsoft Office 2007 on MSDN and after two registrations only (my tablet PC and this desktop) the keys are no longer valid! As soon (and if) they fix this I will reinstall this Windows Vista desktop and will be able to install Office again. Until then, I am stuck.

    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.

    Here's is my full disclosure post.

    A couple of blog posts you should read:

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