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  • Weird Printing Problem – Port Monitors

    Just thought i’d quickly share this.

    One of our clients has a couple of photocopiers they installed before we came on board.

    We made sure that we had the information to connect to them when setting up new PC’s so we new what driver to use, which options to select, tray types, etc

    Last week we put some new PCs so we setup the connections to the photocopiers

    I got a call today to say that they couldn’t print to one of them

    I logged in to have a look and when i sent a test page the job just sat in the queue doing nothing.

    After i’d tried just about every avenue i started over and decided to think about the process.

    I clicked the print option and the job is submitted to the spooler ok (i can see this in printer list and also in C:\Windows\system32\spool\printers where you can see the files appear)

    So what should happen next is the print monitor on the PC should pick this up and communicate with the printer over the desired port (parallel, USB, TCP/IP). Since this was a network photocopier it was TCP/IP so went into the printer monitor settings (in the print driver, select the ports tab, click the port and then click CONFIGURE PORT)

    I spotted something that normally i would have glossed straight over but as i was getting a little frustrated i was checking every single setting

    RAW Settings, Port Number: 9100

    This is the port on which the TCP/IP communication occurs between the PC and the printer. 9100 is the standard setting but i noticed on the existing PC it was 10001

    I set this to the new value and it all started working

    I don’t think I’ve every come across a printer that uses a non-standard port so that’s something I’ve learnt today

    The second thing I’ve learnt is that it’s obvious test pages weren’t run off at the time of installation! Looks like there is a process hole to fix

  • Westcoast Small Business Forum…..the aftermath

    I’ve been home a couple of hours now after the Susanne’s event at the Microsoft campus in Reading. She and her team did a fantastic job with the whole event and from my viewpoint it was very valuable and worth taking the time to attend. As far as i could tell this applied to everyone there

    I’ll just give a quick overview here and add some more posts tomorrow after i’ve got some sleep!

    The actual event was on Thursday (today) but on Wednesday there was a “round table discussion” event similar to what has been going on down under

    The idea here was that a small group of people sat around a table with the distributor (Westcoast) and some vendors (Microsoft, Symantec) to discuss what was good, what was bad and what ideas we had to share to make some positive changes

    There was a good cross section of SBSC partners in attendance so we manged to cover things from lots of viewpoints from the “one man bad” shop up to the fast growing gold partners with teams of engineers.

    Conversation was very open and honest and some interesting ideas where thrown about. If half of these come to fruition it’ll make hugh differences to SBSC’s in the UK

    Wednesday night was a social event and we certainly had a good time being sociable, though it didn’t make getting up the following morning fun!

    At the main event itself there were plently of opportunities to chat to fellow SBSC’s. Staff from Westcoast, Symantec, HP and Microsoft were in attendance to discuss anything and everything to do with working together

    We had keynotes from Duncan Forsyth (Managing Director of Westcoast) and James Baker (Business Development Manager for Symantec) where they talked about their respective companies and what they are doing in the small business space

    After this we had a variety of workshops covering the following topics

    “Small Business Engagment” – Chris Parkes went over what a useful resource Demo Showcase and the “Business and Technical Assessment Toolkit” are

    Malcolm Clark from the OEM team discussed the “Office Ready PC” program

    After this we had a choice “Making the most of your SBSC status” or “Understanding how Volume Licensing presents advantages”.

    I went to the SBSC session as the UK SBSC PALs Vijay and Gareth were speaking and even though i’d heard some of their content before i love the conversations they start in the room

    After this we had another choice where we got to look at some vendor products

    The choice Symantec Endpoint Protection or HP ProLiant Servers. I went for the HP option as i havn’t heard anyone from HP speak for a long time and since we sell their servers i wanted find out what was going on

    The final session had Dave Overton making a return to the SBSC scene (ISV let him out for one day!) and he managed to battle a cold to talk about upcoming opportunies with server technologies in 2007/2008. I’d never seen Dave present before but have heard many good things and i really liked his style.

    The day was rounded off by getting some executives on stage from the four companies who were represented to give them a bit of a grilling in a Q&A session

    I had a really good two days and can’t thank Susanne enough for putting the whole thing on. She has plans to make the whole thing a regular occurance so it will be good to keep the momentum going and continue the dialog. It also means if you missed out this time you can still get involved

    I managed to put some faces to names and meet some new people as well. I’m terrible at asking people for their business cards so if i spoke to you over the last couple of days drop me an email and say hi!

    I’ve got lots to think about and i’ll definately blog some more on this over the next few days

  • Westcoast Small Business Forum Next Week

    I was having a chat with Susanne earlier today about the upcoming Westcoast Small Business Forum (Thursday 29th November)

    She’s been putting an awful lot of hard work getting this event ready and I for one am really looking forward to it.

    If you haven’t registered i think they might still be able to squeeze you in (Register here)

    If you have registered make sure you do everything you can to be there!

    You will get the chance to meet people from Microsoft, Westcoast, Symantec and HP as well as Small Business Specialists from all across the UK in between a series of workshops on a wide varity of subjects (agenda here!)

    The night before there is a social get together at a bar in Reading where you can let your hair down and network over a few beers

    All in all it’s shaping up to be really interesting

    See you there!

  • Expert Advice

    If your a regular reader of this blog you know i don’t really go in for scathing attacks….but bear with me on this one

    Last week i needed to go see a client to change a suspect hard disk. I took an IDE drive with me as i had new one in the office which meant i wouldn’t have to wait to order one but when i got there the existing drive was SATA (it wasn’t quite as old as i thought!) Not a problem though as i came prepared with a spare IDE cable

    However, the motherboard layout had SATA connectors at the bottom right corner and IDE connector in the top left corner combined with the layout of PC case meant that the IDE cable i had with me was about 1cm too short! I wasn’t too concerned though as there was a computer shop over the road

    This shop is the typical local computer shop where everyone in the town goes to get the laptop the kids have filled with spyware cleaned up. (This isn’t an attack on all local computer shops though as i know some that have really great people running them!)

    There were two people manning the desk and i waited for my turn as they both dished out advice on a manner of subjects from laptops to operating systems to broadband providers

    When it was my turn i asked for an IDE cable. She came back with one and i asked if could just check it was longer than the one i had. As i held the cables up to each other she said

    “That’s a floppy cable…that’s why it wouldn’t work. It’s the wrong one”

    It didn’t quite sink in straight away what she said and i just blurted out

    “I’ve just taken this off a hard disk”

    “Yeah but thats’ a floppy cable”

    I assured her that it was definitely an IDE cable and she just shrugged at me like i was an idiot and took my money

    I went over the conversation in my head as i walked back and still was pretty surprised the “local source of IT knowledge” couldn’t tell the difference between an IDE cable and a floppy cable when they are are held next to each other

    Maybe she just got this one wrong…but what other advice are they dishing out?

    It got me thinking to some things i’ve seen on certain “mailing lists of the Yahoo variety”

    I’m more of a lurker as I don’t post an awful lot on the Yahoo lists (not enough hours in the day combined with everything else!) but i do find some of the conversations useful and valid. However, sometimes i see questions i wouldn’t expect most end-users to ask, asked by people who are installing and maintaining systems for people (for money!)

    I wont post any examples as that’s possibly too harsh

    In contrast there are lots of people who contribute who are far better than me and recently through the community i’ve met some really switched on people

    I just wonder if there really is that broad a spectrum on the technical capabilities or am i being a little arrogant?

    As always thoughts welcome

  • Kaseya Seminar (Birmingham)

    Kaseya are holding a seminar at Villa Park on Tuesday 20th November to show off their current offering

    It was fully booked but i’ve just been told they have managed to get a larger room

    If anyone is interested in attending please let me know asap and i’ll pass your details on to get registered

  • Server 2008 Virtualisation thoughts

    Microsoft this week announced details of packing, licensing, etc for Windows Server 2008

    The part that initially passed me by was this,  (trimmed down for brevity)

    Microsoft Hyper-V Server, a hypervisor-based server virtualization product, complements the Hyper-V technology within Windows Server 2008, allowing customers to consolidate workloads onto a single physical server. The estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for Microsoft Hyper-V Server is $28 (U.S.).

    $28 dollars!!

    It didn’t quite strike me what was happening here until i read James O’Neill’s comment,

    “There will be a Hyper-v Server edition (I’m told ‘imagine Server core with no other roles’ …) at $28.”

    This is a big deal. Especially for small buy ativan online businesses (if i’m interpreting this right!)

    I commented previously how some of our clients could make big savings buying less hardware to run multiple servers. This makes it more attractive as you have one less operating system to buy which brings the cost down even more. Remember the virtual operating systems don’t even have to be Microsoft operating systems!

    A server operating system specially meant for running other virtual operating systems is very interesting.

    Look forward to reading more about this as the Server 2008 release gets closer

  • Backup Sharepoint Document Library

    Don’t get all excited. This isn’t going to be anything too clever but i thought i’d share it anyway

    One of our clients uses WSS (v2) in conjunction with InfoPath to do their timesheets.

    We were asked how you would go about recovering the timesheets from a backup.

    I explained that we’d probably have to restore the site to a temporary site then move the files we needed from the restored document library to where it belongs (if someone knows an easier way please let me know?!)

    The client wanted to know if there was an easier way of doing this so i came up with a vbscript that grabs all the xml files and copies them to a folder. As i said at the start, this solution isn’t clever so if your looking to use this to backup other document types (word documents for example) it’s not going to bring any of the metadata with it

    The script connects to the document library via a UNC path and just treats it like a file share

    For this to work you need to make sure the WebClient service is running (if you get an error message that says something like “workstation driver is not installed” just restart the computer and you’ll be fine)

    If your going to schedule this you should probably add some code that maps a network drive to the share instead of accessing the UNC directly (only way i can think of passing credentials?)

    So heres the script….

    Dim myFSODim DocLib
    Dim TimeSheet
    Dim BackupTo
    Dim dayWeek
    Dim FullDay
    Dim LibraryPath
    Dim BackupPath
     'Setup Variables
    'Ensure BackupPath ends with a \
    BackupPath="E:\Time Sheet Backups\"
    dayWeek = DatePart("w", (Date))
    Select Case dayWeek
    Case 1
        FullDay = "Sunday"
    Case 2
        FullDay = "Monday"
    Case 3
        FullDay = "Tuesday"
    Case 4
        FullDay = "Wednesday"
    Case 5
        FullDay = "Thursday"
    Case 6
        FullDay = "Friday"
    Case 7
        FullDay = "Saturday"
    End Select
    Set myFSO = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
    Set DocLib = myFSO.GetFolder(LibraryPath)
    Set BackupTo = myFSO.GetFolder(BackupPath & FullDay)
    myFSO.DeleteFile BackupTo.Path & "\*.*"
    For Each TimeSheet In DocLib.Files
    TimeSheet.Copy BackupTo.Path & "\" & TimeSheet.Name
  • Long live vbscript

    I know Powershell is the next best thing in scripting but i’m still a big VBScript fan. There are lots of resources for helping you create powerful scripts

    I spotted the following on the Microsoft Download site

    Enough reading there to keep you going for a while!

  • Certification Renewals

    The first post on James new blog reminded me of something that i’ve been querying recently

    I’ve been working with Sonicwall products for years. It started in my previous job so made sense to continue to use them when we started our company.

    One of the things i did was to take the official training and pass the exam to become a Certified Sonicwall Security Administrator (CSSA)

    The benefits for passing include (from the Sonicwall US site)

    • Direct access to 2nd level Technical Support (based on regional availability) 
    • Access to SonicWALL’s Online Forum (discussion group)
    • Support Bulletins and advanced notifications
    • Opportunities to participate in SonicWALL beta programs
    • Certification newsletters
    • CSSA logo usage

    Now when i passed no-one told me i’d need to re-certify after a certain amount of time had passed but this turns out to be the case.

    I tried to speak to 2nd level tech support but they refused to help as i “wasn’t on the list”

    After buy ativan in canada online speaking to our account managers at our distributor and with Sonicwall UK it was only recently we got a definate “yes you have to re-certify” answer

    What annoys me is this,

    Why should i have to take the same exam every year? (or every two years as it now looks)

    If i was doing Microsoft certification i could do the training and pass the exams and become an MCSE

    That certification would stay with me until the certification gets retired. Obviously if new products launch new exams come out but i don’t have to retake anything on a yearly basis

    Am i complaining about nothing?

    I think the sonicwall certification path should include a “re-certification” (or refresher) exam as currently someone taking the exam for the first time would do the same exam as someone who has needs to re-certify

    Just my two-pence worth

  • Small world gets smaller

    I like to read Matthew Mullenweg’s blog

    Why? Well he’s Mr WordPress! So i guess he really is a blogging celebrity (what a crappy pun)

    Anyway i had to look twice at a post entitled “Best WP Newspaper Site”

    He said,

    “The Express and Star is “Britain’s biggest and best regional newspaper online” and was founded in the 1880s. If you look closely, you’ll notice that their entire site including every article and feature is powered by WordPress. They now take the crown from NY Times for having the best URLs of a news site. (Though the Times now has clean URLs on their blogs.)”

    Did he say the Express and Star?

    The Express and Star has taken the crown from the New York Times??

    The express and star is a local newspaper for the West Midlands (where i grew up) and if you lived in Walsall as i did it was the best place to find out all the comings and goings in the area

    My dad buys the express and star every day and i applied for my first computing job via an advert in the Express and Star

    It shows how the Internet sure brings the world that bit closer together when someone from America who is involved with one of the biggest blogging platforms on the planet (just added their 300th server!) can be complimentary about my local rag!