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Wednesday October 18th 2017

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Mobile: Apps vs Mobile Web

 

I’ve been asked many times where I think the future in the smart phone market is, either applications or site designed for mobile web?  Now I think it’s funny that since I am in the IT field, I should know (or at least have thought on) the mobile market.  But since I try to answer the questions that come in, I’ve decided to write about my wholly unprofessional opinion.
The first thing that I would look at (if I was a company struggling with this decision), was what the market place currently looks like for the mobile market.  I’ve posted a grapgh below to show you what the market looks like:

Source:

What I see here, is that while there is no single competitor who hold the majority of the mobile market, is there are several big players.  If I wanted to design a mobile app for my users/customers/readers/etc, I would need to design for several different platforms to make sure that I didn’t keep out anyone who wanted to access my service.
This is where I see the strength in mobile web design.  I can design a website, that will work with almost all of these phones and not have to change it much from one application to another.  Now the problem here, is that you would need to use technology that is supported on all these platforms (i.e. avoid Adobe Flash).  I think that can be easily done, in comparison to making an app for IOS, and a version for android and a version for blackberry.
I’ve already seen some companies address this model of using a mobile site over an mobile app.  Some big companies though seem to be hedging their bets by having a mobile version and versions for IOS and android.  I know I’ve gone the way mobile web sites with this site (that I don’t know how to program for either Android or IOS)

Q&A Monday: Outlook 2003 problems with Exchange 2010

Question:

My company has recently upgraded our Exchange server to 2010, but I still have some users using Outlook 2003.  There are plans in the next 6 months to update these remaining users, but some of them are experiencing a problem.  The users have a bunch of shared calendars and are getting a connection issue, any advice?
Eric Davidson
Baltimore, MD
Answer:

The most typical problem I’ve seen with this is caused by the throttling police that is new in Exchange 2010.  When an Outlook 2003 client makes a connection to a shared calendar it can open two or more connections back to the server.  In Exchange 2010, this default throttling policy limits the machine to access 5 (or maybe 6) shared calendars.  Since you didn’t explain how many calendars, this may be the case.

The fix to this isn’t complicated, you just need to create a special throttling policy (Great Directions HERE and tells you how to map it to users) and map this new throttling policy to your 2003 users.

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If you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at me@jimguckin.com, and he’ll try to answer your question. Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and during the rest of the week for his other technical insights.

 

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Alternatives to Outlook

    I’ve been asked about this more times than I can remember, so I figured I’d just do an article about it….What are some alternatives to Microsoft Outlook.  To fully disclose I still cling on to my Outlook for my windows machine, but I do use other software for my linux machines.  So I’ve done some testing and some asking around and found out alternative for Microsoft Outlook.  Just like I did, you should test out and find one that works  for you.

  1. Evolution – http://projects.gnome.org/evolution/Evolution use to be one of the email software choices that I would use on my linux box’s, but now they have an experimental version for Windows.  This client has many features.  It’s not really that complicated to learn, but for a windows user may be a little more difficult to install (you need to be kinda an expert to install)
  2. Thunderbird – http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/Thunderbird from what I figure is probably one of the most popular alternatives for Outlook that I’ve found.  It’s made by the same company that made the Firefox and has plenty of add-on tools out there for users to use.
  3. Pegasus Mail – http://www.pmail.com/Pegasus is probably one of the oldest e-mail clients out there, but seems to be the most studry e-mail client that I’ve seen.  The downside, if you have an exchange system that you want to connect to, then you are kinda out of luck with this one.
  4. eM Client – http://www.emclient.com/Now here’s another good client that I have used, but like many out there, this doesn’t connect with Exchange.  It’s optimized for XP thru Vista, and works great with 3rd party email server like  Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail and can import from other email clients. As someone who lives off my Gmail calendar it offers a full-featured calendar that can even sync with my Gmail calendar
  5. Web-based SystemThis is kind of a cop-out.  But Exchange like many other services (like Gmail) have a web interface that you can access.  This keeps you from having to install and update the clients on each machine, and it’s generally available anywhere the internet is.

Are there other programs that you use that I didn’t mention?  Did I stub you favorite email client?  In the comments below let me know.

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Removing Crapware

    Crapware (or bloatware) is unwanted software alreay installed on a new PC.  This software has started to come bundled with other software you may want on your computer.
For example most software I install on my computers now, I have to pay close attention to, because it wants to install a browser or toolbar or sometimes even virus or spyware protection.  My major problem with that is that one, If I had wanted your software you wouldn’t need to trick me into using it and two, more software on a computer leads to more area of attack for some hacker to take advantage of my system.
It isn’t a trend that is going to end anytime soon, companies want to make a little extra money (especially if the product is freeware) and PC manufactures use this to offset cost of the system.  I generally believe most people don’t pay attention to the useless software sitting on their computer, but to me it’s just a cluttered mess.
So I wanted to share some ways I’ve removed Crapware (bloatware) from my systems.

  1. Image MachinesGranted this only works in a business setting, but it’s always the quickest solution for me, especially when you have a ton of computers coming in with the same configuration.  I fix a certain machine to my exacting specifications and then image the machine up and down.  I prefer to do this on it’s own network and not the general network if possible to not effect the users network.  Though note, that if the machines coming in are not the same, you could be in for a world of hurt.  Sometimes even same models don’t have the same hardware on the inside.  So make sure you know what you are doing prior to trying this method out.
  2. PC DeCrapifier – www.pcdecrapifier.comThis is one of the tools that I have used to remove the junk on computers, it does a quick scan for the most common Crapware that is installed on new computers and gives you the ability to choose if you want to remove it.
  3. Autoruns – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902.aspxAutoruns is a more experienced product, and should only be used if you have a professional understanding of what should be and should not be running on your computer.  This program will display what is automatically set to run at start up.
That’s all the tips I have for you this time, but if there are any programs that you use please share in the comments below, that’s how I’ve found some of my favorite computer programs is through hearing about someone else using them.
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Q&A Monday: Adobe PDF Printing Alternative

Question:

I am currently looking for a more cost-effective solution than adobe for printing PDF files.  I am not looking to edit or create forms, just to print existing documents to PDF.  While looking around I’ve found a couple products, but they wanted too much money for the full versions, any suggestions?

Davina Knight
Raft River, ID

Answer:

There is one software that I default to, when Adobe is either not available or there are limited license, and that is CutePDF (http://www.cutepdf.com/).  They have a PDF writer that is Freeware, for everyone, without any watermarks.  They also have paid software to do most of the things that Adobe can do as well.  I’ve personally used the writer software and have had no problems with it.  It’s one of those install and forget about programs, and if I had the need, would not even hesitate to buy their other products.  They work great in Windows 7 and earlier versions of Windows, but don’t have a Linux version that I can see.

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If you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at
 me@jimguckin.com, and he’ll try to answer your question. Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and during the rest of the week for his other technical insights.

Conserving Bandwidth Tips

In today’s world, IT budgets all over the place have been cut down to the bone, and maybe you’re users are starting to hog up all the bandwidth and you don’t have the money in the budget to increase the bandwidth, what do you do?  Well there are ways that you can squeeze more out of your current bandwidth by adding some software or hardware solutions in place.  While each individual one, may only save a little bit of bandwidth, but together they can help you squeeze a little more out of a connection.
Here are some of the quick and effective ways of squeezing every last drop out of your connection to the internet:

  1. Block Access to Media Streaming Websites
    Videos are bandwidth hogs, pure and simple, and while the occasional video on YouTube may not kill you, the more employees you have and the more people who are streaming content, the more of a chunk that’s going to cut into your over all bandwidth.  I’ve been at many a company, that didn’t  block websites, and could see many users streaming video and audio, and the company wondered why their connection was slow.
  2. Limit your use of VOIP

    VoIP phone services have gotten pretty popular over time, and people forget that these phone calls also eat into your bandwidth.  I would recommend that you create a policy with your workers, that phone calls be “business only”.  I know, this wont go over well, but most people have cell phones, and it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.
  3. Use a proxy

    A proxy server is one of those simple solutions for bandwidth problems.  Every time your computer goes to a website, it grabs the whole site every time.  A proxy server downloads the site once visited and periodically checks for updates.  This means the multiple computers connect to the proxy server  looking for the same site, and the proxy server grabs it once and displays it to all the computers connection, saving precious bandwidth.

  4. Windows Update Server

    This is a great way to not only kill the bandwidth slowdown, after Microsoft updates are released, but a way to make sure the updates wont effect your network, by being able to slow roll it out.  The idea, was rather than 30 computers downloading 10 updates, you have 1 server downloading 10 updates, it makes less of an impression on your overall bandwidth.

  5. Use 3rd part mail filtering 

    At a company that I worked for, we hosted our own MX record and mail server.  While doing some routine monitoring I noticed that a huge amount of spam hitting our mail server, our server was doing it’s job and blocking it, but still that bandwidth was still being used.  We looked into a 3rd party host for our MX record, that also did virus, maleware, and  spam filtering for us, and gave us that bandwidth back.

These are just some of the ways, but I’ve used these in the last couple years to help speed up some networks, and I’ve had networks where bandwidth was of critical importance, because there was so little of it to go around.  If you have any other ways to save bandwidth, then please leave a comment below.

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Linux: Disconnect a Stalled SSH Session

    I’ve recently told everyone about my semi-switch over from an all Windows enviromnet to adding some Linux boxes to my regularly used boxes.  I’ve also been using SSH in Linux alot more, and every once in a while, I end up with a stalled SSH session.  In my Windows world, I’d just close puTTY and start again, not the same when I’m in Linux.  I was searching around and found this little trick.

Shift + ~ and then the .

That’s holding the shift key plus the ~ (which is the key above the tab key), then releasing them and then hitting the . (period) key.  I’ve seen some people need to hit ENTER first to clear the session buffer.

 

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Q&A Monday: Event Viewer Problems in Server 2008

Question:

I have a Windows Server 2008 64Bit Standard and I am having problems getting the Event Viewer to display on the server.   When I click on the Event Viewer, I get the following Error Message – Event Log Service is unavailable. Verify that the service is running. I went into the Windows services and tried to start “Windows Event Log” service and then get the following error:  Error Message – Windows could not start the Windows Event log service on (Server Name). Error 4201: The Instance name passed was not recognized as valid by a WMI data provider. Any idea on how to fix it?

Jeffrey Gaston
Corpus Christi, TX

Answer:

This problem can be caused by a permissions issue to the: C:\Windows\System32\LogFiles\WMI\RtBackup directory. The SYSTEM group needs full control permissions for the directory.  Here are some steps on how to fix the problem.

  1. Start Windows in Safe mode.
  2. Open the “C:\Windows\System32\LogFiles\WMI” folder.
  3. Right-click on the RtBackup folder and choose Properties.
  4. Click the Security tab, and click the Edit button.
  5. Click Add, type SYSTEM and click OK button.
  6. On the “Full control” Permission select “Allow”.
  7. Click OK, and then click “Yes” button when asked for confirmation
  8. Restart Windows (in Normal mode), and verify if the Windows Event Service has started.
You may need to take ownership of the RtBackup folder in order for the above steps to work, I have also heard of people renaming the RtBackup folder, and restarting, but it isn’t something that I have tested myself.
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If you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at me@jimguckin.com, and he’ll try to answer your question. Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and during the rest of the week for his other technical insights.

 

 

Q&A Monday: 5 tips to Avoid Burnout

Question:

I just got a new job working in IT after leaving the field several years ago from burn out.  I just want to know is there a good way to avoid this new job from driving me away from IT like my old one?

Fred Cutler
Reno, NV

Answer:

This is a big concern for many techs out there with many companies cutting their IT departments and not cutting the department’s responsibility.  I personally have gone through burnout early in my career and have come up with 5 ways that I can suggest to help.

  1. Take Time OffWith the after hours and weekend work that can become the norm for some IT people out there, they forget the pleasure of taking some time off and relaxing.  Even if you aren’t planning to take an actual vacation, taking some time away from the job can help you recharge your battery.
  2. Get out with Friends/FamilyI always remember the line from The Shining “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.  I’m my life I’ve seen this really have an effect on techs, the more social life they have, the less they’ve seem to burnout.  There’s no science on it, just examples from my life that seems to help other techs.
  3.  Learn other skillsThere are two different reasons you should be doing this anyway.  One, is that learning to do different jobs is good for your career, as learning new software or gaining job experience is good.  Two, doing different jobs at the office can keep the job from getting to boring.  I personally love jobs, that are constantly changing so that the job never gets too repetitive.
  4. Take Care of YourselfThis seems like the simple obvious one, but people still seem to forget that taking care of yourself will help reduce stress.  Getting enough sleep is key to keeping your sanity at the work place, anyone who has not gotten enough sleep can tell you they are a little on edge, so sleep is a key.  Eating well and exercise are also keys to keeping you feeling well (and less likely to feel burnt out).
  5. Learn when your workload is enoughThis is one of the toughest one for techs to do, but most of us will keep taking on more workload because it’s requested of us.  The problem may be that management doesn’t know (or maybe doesn’t care) about your workload, either way it may be good to let them know that you’re currently loaded with work, and it may not be the best time to add more.  I’ve had a couple of times, where I needed to tell upper management, that this wasn’t a good time for a new project.

I’m sure that many of you out there have your own ways to keep yourself from getting burnt out on the job, please share your ways below in the comments.  Burnout is not the same for everyone, and may not be just limited to the tech realm.


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If you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at me@jimguckin.com, and he’ll try to answer your question. Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and during the rest of the week for other technical insights.

 

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RE: Windows 7 FTP Server

Question

Re: Blog Post: Windows 7 FTP Server

The setup is helpful, but can you expand upon this with assistance on how to create a user and then set up access to a specific folder? I can’t seem to get this to work at all… and I thought I was pretty computer-savy. The new windows 7 administrative configuration is definitely giving me problems. Thank you in advance!

Anonymous

Answer:

  1. In the IIS Manager, click the FTP site that you created, then double-click FTP Authentication
  2. Highlight Basic Authentication and then click Enable link in the Actions pane.
  3. In IISManager, reclick the FTP site to refresh the icons for all of the FTP features.
  4. You must add an authorization rule so that the user you choose can log in. To do so, double-click the FTP Authorization Rules icon to open the FTP authorization rules feature page.
  5. When the FTP Authorization Rules page is displayed, click Add Allow Rule in the Actions pane.
  6. When the Add Allow Authorization Rule dialog box displays:
    • Select Specified users, then type the user you want, I’ll type “administrator” in the box.
    • For Permissions, these are the permissions for the FTP user, if you want them just to read, select that, but if they are going to upload things, then you need write access.
    • When you have completed these items, click OK.
This will give you the ability to add users and their privileges to your FTP server.  I hope this was a help for you.

 

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If  you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at me@jimguckin.com, and he’ll try to answer your question.  Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and check back Wednesday and Friday for other technical insights.

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