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  • KB929729 Windows Update Failure on Vista

    I meant to blog about this at the time but forgot until i was just reminded about it

    I was over at my parents house and my dad had been trying to run Windows Update.

    He had one update that just wouldn’t install – KB929729 Security Update for .NET 1.1

    I found a very helpful post by Peter Broomberg that pointed me in the right direction.

    The steps you need to follow are: 

    1) Instead of using Windows Update, download the KB929729 package from here:
    Do not install yet.

    2) Run cleanup tool:

    and select remove (cleanup) .NET Framework 1.1 from the dropdown list.

    3) Download the .Net framework 1.1 redistributable package from here

    and install it.

    4) Download the .Net Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1
    and install it.

    5) Finally, launch the KB929729 installer and it will work: 

    As far as i can tell the problem is because of previous versions of the framework being installed

    My dad got a Dell PC last year and was part of the Vista Express Upgrade programme

    So the PC came installed with XP which was then upgraded to Vista

    The problem is to do with 1.1 framework still hanging around after the upgrade.

    I followed the steps and the his windows update looks much healthier now

    Hope this helps!

  • Error when clicking an email link

    Got a call from a client today

    He was making some changes to the contact details on his website and when clicked on one of the email addresses in the page he got the following error message

    “Could not perform this operation because the default mail client is not properly installed”

    Bit odd. He is using Outlook 2003 and that appeared to working ok

    A quick google search came up a with knowledge base article that says if your using Outlook Express as your mail client and you click a mailto link that contains more than 456 characters you will get this error.

    Neither of these things were true though

    I had another look around a notice that when he clicked on his start menu the usual Outlook 2003 orange icon was missing and had been replaced with an email envelope icon. When i clicked it the “Internet Properties” dialog box was displayed

    I checked Outlook was set as the default program in Internet Explorer and via the options in Outlook. I also checked in “set program access and defaults” and Outlook Express wasn’t selected

    I switched the defaults between Outlook and Outlook Express (and back again) and the error message went away. However, the new email was created in Outlook express and i couldn’t get it to do it Outlook

    I decided the best thing to do was a “Detect and repair” in Outlook

    This sorted out the icon problem but i still couldn’t get Outlook to open the mailto link

    So,off to the registry!

    Located the following


    It was pointing at outlook express!

    I changed it to this: (which i double checked against my laptop)

    “%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office11\outlook.exe” -c IPM.Note /m “%1%”

    Notice the quote locations…they are important!

    Restarted Outlook and all was well 🙂

  • It took how long?

    Yet another customer service rant..i hate posting about it to be honest but if no-one complains then it’ll never get sorted!

    I decided to treat myself to a new gadget this week. I wanted to get the HD-DVD add-on for the XBox. Having a quick look around and PC World have a “web only offer” thats cheaper than anywhere else as far as i can tell

    They also have a slight loophole on their site that means you can order online but go collect it yourself so no delivery charge

    The PC World branch is the other side of Coventry so a slight detour on the way home but no problem, go in, pick it up, go home? Wrong!

    The reservation confirmation i got told me to go to the “Collect @ Store” desk so thats where i went. In this particular store “The Tech Guys” service desk is next to the collection desk

    So there are two people waiting already, one at each desk so i join the queue for the collection point. No staff around to help us and we all stand around looking at each other. After about ten minues somone finally turns up and helps out the first person (who is in my queue). He then moves onto the person waiting at repair desk (One person for two desks?)

    She has a faulty laptop so they are trying to sort that out so i just have to wait. Forty minutes later i’m finally seen to.

    I give the guy my confirmation note and he disappears out the back. He comes out looking puzzled so disappears again. Finally he comes back to me and says

    “We do have these in stock but you’ll need to go and find a member of staff on the shop floor and they’ll fetch it for you”


    So i’ve been there for fifty minutes already when i could have just grabbed somebody when i walk in

    I then try and find someone and in typically there is not enough staff and too many people. It took me another fifteen minutes to get someone to actually help me.

    I explained what i needed and she said

    “Just wait here and i’ll go get it”

    So i stood and waited. Ten minues later she finally came back with the item so we trotted off to the till

    It took another ten minutes to pay as she couldn’t get her head around the fact i’d reserved it online for one price but the store price was different

    All i wanted to do was go in and collect an item i had reserved.

    Why should it take an hour and twenty five minutes?

  • Finally got my TV sorted

    On Saturday i finally got my TV repaired. (i’ve blogged it the bad experience i had here)

    I say “repaired”, the company who were repairing it on behalf of the “catalogue store” i got it from decided they couldn’t fix it so i was given a new one

    The last seven weeks have been one giant customer service nightmare as far as i am concerned

    It rounded off with my going to said “catalogue store” with my busted TV to pick up my new one as promised on the phone

    When i got there no-one knew anything about it and it took me 45 minutes to sort it out (Bleugh!)

    In contrast straight after me, the wife and the little one went to our favourite in town “eatery”

    On the table next to us were two ladies, when the waitress (is that the correct term?) came over with the food she slipped as she put the plates down and the sauce that was on the meal splashed on the customers clothes.

    Obviously she was very apologetic and did her best to get her cleaned up.

    What impressed me was how she dealt with it.

    While she was helping the lady get cleaned up she told her that if it stained in any way to come back and they would replace it. She then went away and came back with two fresh meals as well as the cash for a full refund of the food they had purchased

    She realised the customer had a problem and did everything she could to fix it as fast as possible. When those two ladies are next in town they wont think

    “Remember when they threw that food all over me, I’m not eating in there again”

    it will probably be

    “Remember how great the staff were in there, shall we go in again?”

    The store were quite happy to take the hit of a couple of meals as people talk. Those two ladies will tell their friends about the great experience they had.

    And we all know how powerful word of mouth is when it comes to business!

  • Small Business Specialist?

    I’m such a geek. As i use the mobile version of google reader i’m constantly checking my feeds. I picked up Susanne’s post (Why the SBSC Programme needs to step it up a gear) pretty much as soon as she posted it. I’ve re-read it about five or six times since then as i try to take it all in as it’s a great post with lots to think about

    There was a specific line that reminded me of something i’d been thinking about a while back,

    “I want the SBSC Partner Directory fixed and at the front of the small is there a generic ativan business website (not only embedded with the Mr. Busy campaign”

    The one thing thati believe is lacking is the visibility of the programme to the “end-user” / the small business owner / the decision makers.

    I remember when i was putting some content together for our website and i was really pleased to be putting our shiny new SBSC logo up. I decided to add a link that said “what is a small business specialist?”

    The problem i had was that i couldn’t find anything on the Microsoft UK pages to link to as a reference. Eventually i found something on the US site but i wasn’t quite what i was looking for

    So this afternoon i tried a little experiment and put myself in the shoes of a small business owner who was looking for some help on Microsoft products for their company

    I went to the Microsoft Small Business website  (which recently replaced the BCentral site). The SBSC logo is nowhere to be seen on this “landing” page.

    From this page there are are few places to click if i were the small business owner i’m talking about

    “Starting Up” and “Growing my business” are pretty self explanatory

    At the bottom there are some campaign links (at the moment Mr busy and ‘WOW’)

    As i click through the first two of these links we finally get to see the SBSC logo on the “Find an IT expert” section of the pages.

    When you click either of the campaign links the logo is nowhere to be seen until you dig down into the “find a partner” sections

    The problem i have is that at no point is there anything that explains what a Small Business Specialist is and why you should pick them as opposed anyone else. Even up to the point where i put in my post code and do the search it just tells me i’m looking for small business specialists.

    There are lots of links asking if you’d like to become a small business specialist thought but shouldn’t this be on the partner page?

    I know there are some campaigns in the works for more exposure but surely it wouldn’t hurt to start simple?

    I put a great big “Microsoft Small Business Specialist” sticker on my laptop so that customer (existing and potential) ask me about it and i one thing i’m finding is it’s usually the first time they have heard the phrase “Small Business Specialist”

    Is this just a UK / Europe thing or is the situation similar in the US?

    We’ve been asked many times recently for feedback on the program so i hope i’m not alone with this view.

    Am i right or way off the mark? I’d love to hear your views

  • Happy Blogiversary

    I’ve been blogging for exactly one year. October 21st marks the date of my very first blog post

    There have been one two posts recently around the “why do i blog theme” from Susanne Danesy, Darren Strange and Steve Clayton

    Reading these was very timely as I’ve been reflecting about the previous years blogging

    It originally started as an outlet for some of the random technical thoughts i have, to give me something to look back on if I’ve fixed some random problem (like a person knowledge base) and hopefully help anyone in the same situation

    As the year went on my focus changed as i started learn about the Small Business Specialist Community. I’ve tried to make my contribution and in turn it has enabled me to meet some great people and hopefully the next year will be even more useful

    I’ve benefited hugely on a personal level and a professional level and have learnt lots from the people i have met (virtually and in person) and this wouldn’t have been possible if i hadn’t randomly thought “I’ll give this blogging thing a go”

    So thanks to everyone I’ve interacted with over the last twelve months, i appreciate it!

    If you read this blog and have never communicated with me please drop me an email on I’d love to hear from you at the start of my second blogging year

  • Microsoft Roadshow Event – Nottingham 17th Oct

    Vijay beat me to it when blogging on this event (he lives closer to Nottingham than me :-p ) but just thought i’d add my thoughts (focusing on the SBSC pre-event)

    So it all started at lunch with Vijay Riyat, James Harbidge, Richard Tubb and Susanne Dansey. It was great to spend a little time catching up before the main event and as always was informative and entertaining at the same time!

    The SBSC “pre-event” started at 14:30. The turnout was good (someone said afterwards 98% of the people who registered actually attended which is amazing) and the session started with Vijay giving a presentation on his experiences of the SBSC programme, becoming a PAL and how it has helped his business. This was the first time i’ve seen Vijay present and was great to see him share his thoughts, ideas and passion for the SBSC “concept”

    Next up was Sonal Gothani from Microsoft who chatted about Microsoft and the SMB area from a business perspective and threw up lots of interesting figures to think about

    e.g 1.4 million small businesses in the UK, 91% of small busineses in the EU have 1-9 employees

    One the main talking points here was how we can attach services to the SBS sales. CRM is one of the main areas here and hopefully there will be some upcoming resources to complement this

    There was a good Q&A session after this.

    A question was asked

    “of the people who are in the room, who are part of the SBSC programme but not involved in the community (e.g user groups), why are you not getting involved?”

    The two main answers were

    1) What’s the value?

    2) Don’t have the time

    I can understand the first answer. As i have found out myself you can’t fully understand how big the benefits to your business can be until you have got involved

    The second disappointed me a little though. If i said to you that i would give your business £500 per month for a couple of hours of your time would you go?

    Of course you would. Now i’m not saying that attending user group meetings will put cash in your back pocket but the impact it potentially could have on your business may be much higher than that figure. I’ve already posted my thoughts on that idea here

    The “main event” was also very interesting with Sven Gruentre (hope i have spelt that right!) showing off some server 2008 and powershell demos

    After that Tim Schroder talked about opportunties and plans Microsoft have in FY08 for building your business followed by Matt McSpirit and Sven (again) talking Vista, Office and Deployment options

    During and after all this there was plenty of time to chat to people though i think my “networking technique” still needs work!

    On the whole the event was very informative.

    The idea was to show where Microsoft are at the moment and where they are going in the upcoming future.

    A recurring theme was about FEEDBACK.

    Microsoft may think they are doing the right things for partners but unless we tell them whats good and what is bad they can’t do anything about it. This is one of the main reasons for having partner area leads so anything you want Microsoft to hear about, let Vijay and Gareth know

    Thanks to everyone for a good day. It was well worth the trip and i’m looking forward to the Small Business Forum in November. Susanne has obviously put a lot of work into organising this and she obviously is very excited about it. Make sure your registered!

    Excuse the rambling…it’s 2:30am and i really should be asleep!!!

  • If the experts are giving this sort of advice what chance do we stand?

    Wireless security is something pretty important to us all. Most people understand that we need to make sure we’ve covered to stop other people jumping on the network (which your paying for!)

    However most end users / business owners don’t understand what to do to make them the most secure

    Why should they understand the difference between WEP and WPA?!

    I still don’t understand why wireless equipment still comes with WEP to be honest. If it’s not secure don’t make it an option! Yes I understand that we need to make sure new hardware is compatible with old hardware and I’m hoping as older kit eventually gets replaced WEP will be dropped as an option. Can’t we can make WPA the default option? or have the user go through a couple of “are you really sure?” prompts before enabling WEP

    What winds me up is when your given bad advice by people you expect to trust

    One of the things i see all the time is recommendations to hide your SSID to help make you more secure

    How about this for an example

    “Hide your wireless network
    You can ‘hide’ your wireless network by hiding your SSID. Your SSID works like a password, so only people that know your SSID can access the network. You’ll be able to find more information on how to do this in the instructions that came with your hardware. Be sure to set an SSID that doesn’t give away any important information, for example, do not include your name or address.”

    Hiding your SSID wont do anything to put off a determined thief and in some situations can make it harder for you to use. What makes this even worse is that it likens your SSID to a password! In fairness the advice to not include any personal information is sound

    So where did i find that nugget

    On the Plusnet website (take a look here

    A UK based ISP recently taken over by BT. They are advising end-users that this is good security best practise. I have friends and family who are on Plusnet and if i tried to explain to them how best to secure their wireless they could quite simply say

    “I was just doing as my ISP told me”

    I found a good article by Steve Riley on why hiding your SSID isn’t enough. It also explains why MAC address filtering isn’t that great either

    Make sure your using WPA encryption on your wireless network!

  • Hosting Opinions Please

    Could i have your opinion please?

    You can do all the research you like but nothing beats hearing real world experiences 

    This season i agreed to create (and maintain!) a web site for the football team i play for.

    So far the reception has been pretty good but lots of people are used to sites like myspace, facebook, flickr, etc and want to be able to login and contribute themselves. I’ve been toying with some ideas and i thought i’d do something in ASP.NET but at the moment the site is hosted from the free webspace i got with my broadband

    I posted ages ago about my dabblings with Visual Web Developer Express but it’s something i’m still pretty new to but i find the best way to learn is by getting stuck in

    So basically i’m looking for a web host to look after the site. As time goes by i may need to host other sites (depending on how much succcess i have!) but not a big deal at the moment

    My criteria is pretty simple

    • ASP.NET 2.0 support  (well duh?!)
    • Price – I’m doing this out of the goodness of my heart and is still just a hobby so don’t want it to cost me too much. I’m not asking for free but it can’t break the bank as i wont be getting any money back from it
    • Support – since i’m still pretty new to ASP.NET i’d like a reasonable level of support. I’m not asking for hand holding but if i ask a question to do with my hosting generic ativan buy package i’d like an answer i can trust. There is nothing worse when your having a problem, you ask for help and that help turns out to make things worse!
    • Reliable – obviously since i’m asking for cheap i’m not expecting 99.999% uptime but i’d like the site to be accessible when my team mates try and access it
    • Database support – as long as it works it doesn’t matter what type of database!

    After that i’m pretty flexible on storage space, traffic limits, et al (it doesn’t even have to be UK based)

    The reason i’m asking is that from a business perspective we use 1and1 to provide our customers with some webspace and look after their domain names. Nothing complicated, so on that front we don’t have any problems.

    Since i’m already familiar with their control panel, accounts, billing, etc i thought i’d look at them first and fired off a few questions about ASP.NET support and setup (since the help files on the subject aren’t great) and the answers i got back for what i considered pretty simple questions didn’t fill me with confidence. After having a look around for other support experiences i started to look elsewhere but everyone offers the earth and i’d like to just pick a host and get on with it

    I’ve got one or two names in mind already but just wanted to see if there were any other suggestions


  • Small Business Forum – November 29th

    Susanne just posted to say that the registration site for the Westcoast Small Business forum is now open (as also reported by Richard)

    Spaces are limited so if your planning on going don’t waste any time!

    Here is a list of some the people who are presenting / attending

    Jackie Elleker, Chris Parkes, Emma Richardson, David Overton

    Westcoast Limited
    Andy Dow, Susanne Dansey (of course!)

    Vijay Riyait (iQubed Limited) , Gareth Brown (Sytec Limited)

    There will also be people from Symantec and HP there as part of a series of workshops

    Some of these people i’ve met and some i haven’t so i’m looking forward to the event!