Professional Geek
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  • Am i losing business for doing a proper job?

    I’m putting my neck on the block a little with this but wanted to ask the opinion of others

    We’ve recently quoted to do a new server installation

    We have both quoted for the same hardware and software (HP Proliant Server, SBS Premium) but we have been told we’re being beaten on the amount of days we’re quoting for configuration

    Basically the competition are quoting a day in their workshop for inital configuration of hardware and SBS and three men on site for one day to do the rest (so three man days, four in total)

    The work will basically involve configuring server hardware, putting in the new sbs (from scratch..not a migration),setting up user accounts, email (exchange), getting data from old server, ensuring permissions are correct, installing a hardware firewall solution, getting the pc’s (with user profiles intact) onto the new domain (25-30 users), configuring backups, monitoring & alerting, installing anti-virus software, install and configure UPS software/hardware, re-installation of printers onto new server, plus anything i have missed here and the other things you only find out about while on site.

    Now i’m not doubting that you could do all that in three man days (four if you count the workshop day)

    If i was doing this as a swing migration i’d be adjusting the times but this specific situation doesn’t lend itself well to that (long story in itself!)

    Would you be happy you had completed the work to a high enough standard or are we (as a company) taking long?

    We have quoted a day in the workshop to put the server hardware together and start the SBS install off and then two guys on site for five days (eleven man days total)

    As a side note when it comes to these installs we always let the customer know that we do err on the side of caution as there is always something you dont know about until you get to site (like they dont have their isp information, or the disks for some LOB application have gone walkabouts). The customer usually prefers to know upfront instead of getting nasty suprises at the end. So we only actually invoice for the time we’re there so it may not actually be eleven man days

    Also bear in mind we have been installing SBS since 4.5 so are no strangers to it.

    So either we’re taking too long or their not doing the job properly…honest opinions please?

    I do actually have my own opinion as to what the situation is here but i’d be keen to hear what everyone else thinks before i say anything else..

    Thanks

  • Useful / Useless link of today?

    Just clicked a random link in my dashboard and stumbled across this

    “Real Time HTML Editor”

    Enter some code in the top frame and it gets rendered in the botttom

    Guess it might be useful for trying out quick little things or if your learning HTML

    I thought it was pretty cool

    So thanks to whoever runs that blog! It’s not 100% in English so not sure who i’m thanking

  • Am i getting the wrong end of the stick?

    The is a post over on SBSDiva about tool for moving profiles to a new domain

    Stop me if i’m completly missing the point of this tool but can’t you already do this

    When you run the connectcomputer wizard you already get option of moving profiles to new user accounts

    From the SBS 2003 Administrators Guide

    “To migrate existing documents and program settings that are stored in a local user profile to the new domain user profile, select the domain user account in the Assigned User column, and then select the local user profile to migrate in the Current User Settings box. Click Next when you’re finished assigning users to the computer and migrating user accounts.”

    I’ve used this method quite successfully a few times.

    Please let me know if i’m just not getting it?

  • Good ol’ Vlad

    I love reading Vlad’s blog because he says it as he sees it which is a quality i like as you always know exactly where you stand. My business partner is exactly the same but he wont be blogging anytime soon!

    His latest post is the second in the “Vlad’s school of customer service” observations

    I’ve been in similar situations myself. You make a call to get support and have to wade through all the crap before you get anywhere

    I have to deal with a well known ISP (who will remain nameless) here in the UK and for many years their when you called the business support number it got you through to the same people who did the home user support.

    This meant you spent eons in a queue, then when you finally got to speak to someone they refused to talk to you as follow technician http://hesca.net/ritalin/ and talked to you as though you were an end user

    “It is plugged in?”

    “Have you tried turning it off and on again” (I quite enjoyed The IT Crowd BTW)

    Then when you finally started to get somewhere it was never their fault (it usually was though!)

    They must have had a lot of complaints as last i heard the business support desk had been seperated from the home user desk which is a good job. We pay more than home users for business class service so surely it’s unreasonable to ask for business class support!

  • Disable Reading Layout in Word 2003

    I know Office 2003 is “sooooo last season” but i get asked about this quite a lot thought i’d stick it on here

    When you open Word document attached to an e-mail the reading layout is displayed. Some users don’t actually realise the view is supposed to help them read the document on screen.

    What normally happens (especially if the document has pictures/diagrams) is that the user thinks the document has been poorly laid out and they close Word straight away

    Quite unfair on the author wouldn’t you say?

    So to change this behaviour open Word, click on the TOOLS menu and select OPTIONS

    When the options dialog is displayed select the GENERAL tab and uncheck the ALLOW STARTING IN READING LAYOUT option (top right)

    You can still select reading layout if need be but when you open a document from now on it will open in the standard view (usually page layout view?)

  • The Sinclair Spectrum is 25 years old!

    *-* Corrected after a comment from deKay 

    Just saw this article on the BBC News site that reports on the 25 anniversary of the launch of the ZX Spectrum!

    The first computer that i could actually call my own was the ZX Spectrum +3

    It has 128K of RAM and a built-in 3in floppy disk drive! At the time most software was on tape as the  ZX Spectrum +2 was so popular so my dad hooked up a tape drive for it which had us spending many hours trying to get the volume and tone just right so we could play Jetpac, Robocop, Rainbow Islands and the like!

    The +3 was also the first computer i took apart. My brother and i were off school and the tape drive stopped working. We knew that the audio port had a dodgy connection as we had seen my dad re-solder it a few times. My mom was asleep downstairs so i made the decision to go into my dad’s shed and find his soldering iron, screwdrivers and solder.

    I was so nervous as i knew my dad wouldn’t be best pleased if it had all gone wrong! Fortunately i managed to get it working and we never had a problem with it again (looking back it was probably the three tons of solder!)

    I was about eight or nine years old…….

    The spectrum series also gave me my first foray into programming with BASIC and i guarded my floppies with my saved work as if my life depended on it!

    Happy Birthday Spectrum!

    *-* Here’s the update!

    I originally commented on the ZX81 having rubber keys and 48k

    deKay quite rightly pointed out i must be remembering it wrong

    I had a chat with my dad this morning and our Spectrum history was as follows:

    My dad originally got a Spectrum 48k (with rubber keys!)

    after this he got a Spectrum 128

    This was then followed by the Spectrum +2A (the black one!) I quite liked the light gun that we got for it!

    It was after this that i got my +3 and sometime after i somehow aquired another +2!

    We never actually owned a ZX81 as my dad (and i quote) “couldn’t afford it”

    Thanks again to deKay for pointing it out. You can read his article on the birthday of the speccy here

  • Create Overlay Failed Error in WinDVD

    Just a small tip to pass on

    I had a customer who couldn’t play DVD’s on his laptop using WinDVD 

    The error was “Create Overlay Failed”

    The program suggests lowering the screen resolution

    I had a look on the Intervideo support pages and found this

    Basically there is a list of three things to try but the first one is usually the cause

    The remote desktop sharing feature was enabled on the laptop. I disabled it and DVD playback was enabled!

  • How Secure Is Your Wireless?

    I was driving home from work yesterday and heard a feature on the radio about unsecured wireless access points in homes. It followed the arrest of two people who had been using someone else’s broadband via a wireless connection.

    I talk to lots of people through work and you would not believe the amount of people who dont secure their wireless access at home.

    When i ask why, i do get some very strange responses but one of my favourites is

    “What harm would it do if someone did use it?”

    They think it’s all about hackers and breaking into websites and stealing credit card numbers and their quiet little street doesn’t need to worry about that.

    While i could give them a hundred reasons i always explain that if someone downloaded “questionable material of an adult nature” from the Internet who will the police be talking to first?

    At that point they usually go pale and mutter something about sorting it out as soon as they get home

    Would you leave your keys in your car? If your neighbour was tapping your electricty supply would you be angry at that?

    Again there are tons of comparable examples i could give.

    Setting up security isn’t hard on most modern wireless routers. The instructions usually give a step-by-step guide. Even using WEP would be better than none at all!

    Take a few mintues tonight to make sure your wireless connection is secure. If not speak to a geek who can 🙂

  • Change Mail Redirection in VBScript – Exchange 2003

    Was doing some housekeeping and came across a script i thought i’d share

    We had a customer who had a general information style email address (info@blahdomain.com) that due to job sharing two different people were responsible for checking the email and replying. To add to this these people were external to the organisation. They wanted the email to be re-directed to their own email addresses (i did suggest that they just use Outlook Web Access and share a mailbox but they weren’t interested!)

    So i created two external contacts and re-directed the email to the user. However this wasn’t something i wanted to be doing myself a couple of times as week as the responsibility changed and i didn’t trust the users!

    So i created a script that ran on a scheduled task to make the change. I found it incredibily difficult to find anything out about this method at the time so here it is
    ‘ Change this name to alter re-direction
    strUserName=”Parkesy”

    Set objUser = GetObject (“LDAP://cn=INFOUSER,ou=AP Users,dc=blahdomain,dc=local”)
    objUser.Put “altRecipient”, “cn=” & strUserName & “,ou=AP Users,dc=blahdomain,dc=local”
    objUser.Put “DeliverandRedirect”, True
    objUser.SetInfo

    I’ve trimmed the code down for display but all it does is find the “Info User”, reset the “Alt Recipient” and “Deliver and Redirect” properties, and persist the changes 

    I created two copies of this and setup a scheduled task to make the switch

    It seemed to work quite well but eventually the stopped the job share and it became an internal users responsibility and the script got “retired”

    Hope it is of use to someone else

    I used this script on an Exchange 2003 box. I haven’t tested it on an Exchange 2000 box but can’t see an inital reason for it not to.

    Use the code as you see fit but i take no responsibility for anything that may occur due to it’s usage (blah blah blah!)

    *-* Slight Update *-*

    Going through some posts i hadn’t gotten around to reading and saw this post from Dave Overton which links to a tutorial on MSExchange.org which talks about how to set all this up. My post assumes this is all in place

  • Dell Vista Express Upgrade Issues Still Going on in April!

    ** Update **

    As always happens in these situations the day after i posted this the upgrade kit arrived in the post.

    My Dad is still annoyed that it took four months and probably wont buy anything from Dell for some time (if ever)

    *****

    I posted a while back about how my Dad had bought a new Dell machine and was waiting for his upgrade to Windows Vista

    I spotted a new entry on the Dell blog 

    They are blaming “third parties” for the delays.

    It says towards the end of the post that they are expecting international orders (UK included) to have shipped by the end of May. First it was “end of February”, then “end of March”. It’s April now and by the time May comes thats a long wait for the consumer who placed orders over Christmas

    Customer services are of no help and when looking at the order on the web site it’s just displayed as “in progress”. This has supposedly been changed from “pending” to avoid confusion!!!

    Understand that Dell have to deal with third parties but it shouldn’t take four months to keep their customers informed?

    I can’t imagine how much business this will loose Dell long term. Yes you can place the blame on other people but the consumer sees it as a Dell logistics problem so they simply wont buy Dell products again