Professional Geek
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  • Remember Audiogalaxy?

    I certainly do!

    When using the Audiogalaxy site you installed a small piece of software which they called the “satellite”. This connected to their central servers and communicated which files were available via their users where you could then queue up music to be downloaded p2p style (some information of the software is still available here and here)

    Very much like Napster, etc but the site also had deals with unsigned bands and had site content with lots of band information as well as music reviews

    They stayed around for a little while until the inevitable legal action forced the site to call it a day in it’s existing form where they became a part of Rhapsody. Another interesting piece about the end of Audiogalaxy from another one of the developers, Kennon Ballou is here

    So today I found a blog by a guy called Tom Kleinpeter who was one of the main developers when the site first launched

    His blog has a series of articles about the history of Audiogalaxy that I found pretty interesting and has lots of technical details about some of the challenges involved in created such a popular system as well as lots of insight as to what its like working for a start-up that hits the “big time”

    A lot of people were sad to see Audiogalaxy disappear but what is interesting is the people behind the project went on to form the company that created FolderShare. (ByteTaxi)

    Heard the name before? Microsoft acquired that particular product in November 2005 and it’s alive and kicking as part of Windows Live!

  • Stefan Didak’s Home Office – Jealous? Too Right!

    I was looking around some flickr groups this afternoon when I came across Stefan Didak’s Home Office

    This has got to be one of the most amazing setups I’ve ever seen!

    I’ve mentioned plenty of times before that I’m a 100% multiple monitor person. I’m currently using two 19″ screens at the office and i’d like to add a couple more but i’m now feeling a bit inadequate! 

    Stefan has nine screens (including laptops) across fifteen systems and has a serious amount of kit – 43Tb of storage!

    It’s not just about screens though and the whole setup looks very clean and tidy and for a geek like me the whole thing is just eye candy!

    Go take a look for yourself

  • Outlook 2007, public folders and categories

    I had an e-mail conversation with a client this week who uses Exchange public folders to share contacts. He initially was planning on creating sub-folders to group the contacts(suppliers, customers, etc)

    I suggested he used categories as it would mean it was still one place to go for their contacts but they could use a view to group them as needed

    I know this is SharePoint territory…but until they made the move to Office 2007 the inability to edit directly in Outlook wasn’t desirable for them. They now have Outlook 2007 and plans are underway to get them onto WSS 3.0…I digress

    So he went away and created lots of categories and emailed me back to say no-one else could see his newly created categories.

    This is normal behaviour, Outlook 2007 now stores categories directly in the mailbox as opposed to the registry in older versions of office

    So back to the public folder as this doesn’t help solve the problem!

    However, he can still categorise the contacts as the item category is totally separate from the users list of categories

    e.g If I categorise a contact as “SUPPLIER” and someone else in the office then opens the contact it will still be marked as supplier even if he doesn’t have that category setup on his system.

    Fine.

    But what if we need to standardise on a set of categories? Without having to re-type all the custom categories this is the solution I came up with

    Create a dummy contact (call it anything you like) in the public folder

    Categorise it with all the categories you need to copy

    The on the PC you want to copy the categories to do the following

    Open the item, click CATEGORIZE, then ALL CATEGORIES and you’ll get a screen similar to the followingblog 1

     

    It shows the categories not on your list as “(not in Master Category list)”

     

     

     

    Highlight one of them and click the NEW button to get this screen

    blog2

    The name has been pre-populated.

    Just click OK to get the category saved

     

    The only thing this won’t do is bring the colours across but in terms of grouping/viewing the colours are partly irrelevant

    Repeat with other categories until your done. Not the most elegant solution but much quicker than typing them all out

    If anyone knows of an easier way I’d love to hear from you!

  • McAfee updating – Unable to find a valid repository

    I posted a couple of days ago about a new client who is using McAfee. I went back on Tuesday just to finish off and came across a bit of a weird problem

    This particular PC didn’t have any anti-virus loads so i installed VirusScan 8

    I configured it to point to a share to check for definition updates and fired it up and got this

    Starting VirusScan task: AutoUpdate
    Starting update session.
    Unable to find a valid repository.
    Closing the update session.

    My initial thought was that i’d enter the UNC details wrong so i checked that and it was fine. I then realised that if i’d entered the UNC wrong it would have fallen back to the HTTP or FTP repository….something else was going on here!

    So first i checked the updater log

    3/25/2008 9:24:57 AM Starting VirusScan task: AutoUpdate
    3/25/2008 9:24:59 AM Starting update session.
    3/25/2008 9:25:00 AM Unable to find a valid repository.
    3/25/2008 9:25:00 AM Closing the update session.

    Not helpful!

    Onto the event log

    VirusScan Enterprise: The update failed; see event log.(from PCName IP 192.168.x.x user X running VirusScan Ent. 8.0.0 UPD)

    Even less helpful!

    I look all around the program files directory to see if there were any extra log files and i couldn’t find anything

    I did some searching and came across this article 

    https://knowledge.mcafee.com/article/299/5170943_f.SAL_Public.html

    It talks about troubleshooting the auto-update. What helped was this

    A verbose log file is available to assist troubleshooting. The default location is:
    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Network Associates\Common Framework\Db

    The file is agent_<machine_name>.log, where <machine_name> is the hostname of the machine where the update is being initiated.

    This log was much more helpful

    20080325095031 I #1676 Updater OnDemand update started.
    20080325095036 I #808 FrmSvc User SID is S-1-5-18 and SessionID is 0
    20080325095037 I #3980 Script Searching for first available site.
    20080325095039 I #3980 InetMgr Sitelist validation failed because it is missing SPIPE site information.
    20080325095039 I #3980 InetMgr Retaining the existing sitemaplist.
    20080325095039 i #3980 Script Unable to find a valid repository.
    20080325095039 i #808 Script Closing the update session.

    The updater was having a problem reading the settings I’d put in so was defaulting to the sitelist it previously had. Since this was clean installation that meant it had nowhere to go!

    I also found this

    http://forums.mcafeehelp.com/showthread.php?t=141537&page=3

    It’s a forum post where someone suggests manually creating a sitelist.xml file. The scenario was slightly different as they were talking about ePos but the theory must be the same

    So I copied the sitelist.xml file from another PC onto this PC in this folder

    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Network Associates\Common Framework

    This sorted the problem!

    Not sure why the sitelist.xml file didn’t get created in the first place

    I’ve talked plenty of times on here about how fed up with McAfee i am. I had a meeting with Trend a couple of weeks ago and I’m about to evaluate their stuff. The “worry-free” management console looks pretty cool

  • Group Policy and Office 2007

    Just a quick one…

    I was looking for some information on Outlook categories for a client when i stumbled across this

    Group Policy Overview for Office 2007

    187 pages of Group policy goodness! Very in-depth

    It’s from the Office 2007 resource kit

    Other similar documents are availble here

  • What a busy week! (Part Three)

    Part Two here 

    Thursday 20th March

    I gave the night out in Broad Street a miss because I had a 9am meeting the following day that I needed to be sharp for

    A client has a Visual Foxpro system that basically runs the main function of their business (I wrote it in a previous life about six or seven years ago)

    They are concerned about the lack of support for Foxpro going forward and also recognise the software doesn’t quite fit as it used to so are interested in a having a new system created. I spent most of the day there going through requirements and creating a “wish list” about what they would like to do. I’ll more than likely be calling on a local partner to help with this as development isn’t my strong point anymore (if it ever was!)

    I left there just before four and raced down to Reading for Susanne’s goodbye bash as she’s leaving the country (today!) on her new adventure

    I first met Susanne in person in August last year and in that short time since it’s been easy to see why she’s such a respected member of the community. She’s been nothing but helpful to me when I’ve needed it, her blog is still one of the first I look out for everyday and her enthusiasm should be an inspiration to us all. I’d like to put on record my thanks and to wish her all the best in whatever she does next. She’ll be very much missed by everyone I know who is involved with the community

    So onto the evening itself

    Firstly I need to apologise to Dave Overton, Matt McSpirit, James Senior for any waffle that came out of my mouth.

    Second, thanks to Mike Bryett for sticking with me to the end and putting up with me!

    My final thanks go out to the Live Search Mobile team. Your great piece of software got me out of a jam a couple of times!

    The evening involved drinking and chatting in a bar called Dogma until we got kicked out of there and whoever was left moved onto the Pitcher and Piano

    I had a really good time even though my busy day meant I didn’t eat until very late (Sweeny and Todd to the rescue though…what great food!) and drank far too much taking this into account. It’s probably for the best I didn’t go out on the previous two nights!

    This week reminded me how much I’ve enjoyed the last twelve months being involved in the community.

    Any community is only as good as the people in it and here in the UK the people that make up that community are top notch!

  • What a busy week! (Part Two)

    Part One here 

    Wednesday 19th March

     Today was the Microsoft launch event at the ICC in Birmingham so I was up bright and early to make sure I was there on time.

    The event was huge and i was impressed with the amount of information there was to consume.

    I got a seat right at the front for the keynote by Jonathan Perera, General Manager of Application Platform and Developer Marketing but before he came one were treated to the sound of “Noise Ensemble” (sample video below)

    If someone had told me beforehand that the Microsoft launch would open to some flashing lights and a group of people banging drums I would have laughed but it worked really well and was different and memorable

    The keynote talked about the “heroes happen here” campaign and we had some demos of the new products in action.

    There were various sessions to attend but i decided to focus on content i hadn’t seen as i was worried that with all the events (technet/user group/ etc) i’ve been to i might be hearing the same thing again

    The first thing i saw was a small session (as in the amount of people) with Steve Lamb talking about security. What i liked about this session was that Steve wasn’t following any prepared content as such but was creating a conversation about anything security related. We started with Bitlocker and moved onto Server 2008, Hyper-v and IIS

    Other sessions i went to included a look at Terminal Services (including Citrix and Softgrid) following by a look at the new features of IIS

    My only downside was that a lot of the sessions overran so time in between was short which then meant i couldn’t check everything else out. The main hall was full of vendors, people from Microsoft covering various topics and a community stage where some of the developer user groups (noticeably the NXTGen user group) had some entertaining pieces on including a reworked version of Family Fortunes and something called “Swagons Den”!

    I did manage to get a look at the stands run by HP, Symantec, Quest software, Dell and the partner programme. I just wish i’d been able to get to some more. Especially the life size statue of the Master Chief as i didn’t get a chance to grab a photo!!

    As always there were plenty of people from the SBS community and as always we had a good natter!

    The day ended at a “geek dinner”. I was really pleased this was organised actually as it wasn’t the first time I’d heard that name but they mostly organised in the south which generally limits my attendance! As Richard said in his post it would be good to try and get something similar in the Midlands going so if I’d love to hear from you if your interested. I really enjoyed the fact that guys from many different areas of IT came together over our common love of pizza and beer! All joking aside i got to meet some of the guys from the developer groups that i might not have otherwise engaged with so thanks to Zi for organising and thanks to NXTGen, VBUG and Developer Developer Developer! for being so hospitable

    While Richard may have braved the night out on Broad Street i drove home knowing what i had in store for tomorrow. I got back just before 12 and this time went straight to bed!

    End of part two!

  • What a busy week! (Part One)

    It’s bank holiday Monday and I’m just recovering from a very very busy week. Richard Tubb has already blogged about last week from his perspective here. Once I’d read that I initially wasn’t going to bother with a post of my own for fear of repeating what he said but it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want   😉

    I’ll post this in a couple of parts so it’s not one enormous post

    Monday 17th March

    The quietest day of the week but still pretty huge in other ways. Today we made a job offer as we’re overdue a new member of staff. (If you’re a regular reader you’ll know this isn’t the first job offer though!)  He accepted and should start in a couple of weeks. We learnt from the last time around so hopefully it’ll be less stressful this time.

    We’ve also changed our perspective for the person specification. We actually went for the person with the least experience. After we did the interviews we came away and said “if he had more experience he would be perfect”. This was because he was so keen and eager and came across so well. He was very up front about his lack of experience and said he was in the “chicken and egg” situation –

    Can’t get a job due to lack of experience, can’t get the experience due to a lack of a job!

    So we decided to give him a break. I remember being in a similar situation when i was trying to break into the industry and i got a couple of lucky breaks and i’m more than happy with where i am now. I also told him that if he wanted to learn about the IT industry he’ll get a great education working in small business!

    Tuesday 18th March

    My first part of the day was spent doing some work on a new customer site to “tidy up” so we would be happy to support it.

    The first job was to put the firewall back in. The previous support company for some reason took the firewall about about a year ago. It was just left unplugged next to the router (which was the only thing protecting the network) with no real reason for it not to be used. The customer had no idea why so this went straight back in

    I then spent the rest of the day trying to sort out their anti-virus. They are using McAfee Protection Pilot to manage about 12 PCs. The weird thing was that it was reporting none of the systems were up to date yet a manual check found they were. I downloaded the latest version from the McAfee web site (which took an age – why do they insist on making you download a multi-language version? I downloaded 145MB of language files I didn’t need!)

    Once downloaded it just wouldn’t install. Everyone time I fixed whatever it was complaining about something else got in the way. The last straw was when I got an error telling me that i couldn’t run “auto updater” and protection pilot on the same system. Fair enough but auto updater wasn’t installed!

    I gave up in the end and moved everything over to auto-updater just so it would be up and running. I’m due back there tomorrow to take another look

    So I finally left site at about 19:30 where I then went to Brindley Place, Birmingham to meet Richard Tubb so we could get together with James and Barnaby from Symantec who were in town for the Microsoft launch event the day after. We spent a lot of time talking about Symantec and there position in the small business area and also got plenty of insight as to there views and opinions on small business specialists. We also tried to enlighten them both on the benefits of blogging (corporate or otherwise!) so maybe we’ll see one or both of them doing that some time soon. I got home at about 12:30 where I then spent the next couple of hours doing a few bits a pieces as I knew I’d be out of the office for the next couple of days!

    End of part one!

  • Well Done Live Team

    This is my first live writer post. I’ll be completely honest I didn’t really get the point the first time I saw live writer during it’s beta period.

    If you were writing a lot of posts offline for upload later i could maybe understand but otherwise i didn’t really get the benefits. I’m using wordpress.com to host my blog and that allows me to save drafts, basic formatting and allow me to insert pictures (which usually do via flickr) and IE7Pro gives me spell check capability (even though wordpress does as well) yet I’ve seen plenty of rave reviews for this software

    Anyway, I wanted to install Live Photo gallery and play about with photo stitching so went to the Live website and ran their installer. I was massively impressed with the install experience

    image

    I loved the fact that while I was waiting for the program to install I could optionally add other live programs to the "queue" and download them for me while I was waiting for the other programs to install. It made the installation "interactive"

    The feedback I got was great as well

    "Installation may take a few minutes. Feel free to do other things while you wait"

    Simple, to the point and no technical jargon to confuse the user.

    Once the first program installed it also gave me the capability to run the other programs it had already finished directly from the installer

    If you’ve already seen Live Photo Gallery I don’t need to tell you have good it is

    Great navigation, photo stitching for panoramas is AWESOME (I’ve uploaded a couple of images I made from pictures Bryony took on a visit to Wales a few months back), integration with Live spaces and Flickr…all very slick

    I’m going to give Live Writer a go for my next couple of posts as i had a bit of a scare earlier when wordpress were doing some maintenance (the post still worked though) and it also looks very nice and easy to use…I just don’t get the point at the moment

  • AMITPRO Meeting on 11th March 2008

    I’ve been so busy this week i forgot to add my usual post after an AMITPRO meeting

    We had two speakers this month

    Penny Coventry – Sharepoint MVP

    This was the first time we’d had any SharePoint content since i starting attending AMITPRO meetings so I was looking forward to learning something new. Especially since Penny came to give us a brief overview of SharePoint Designer. I’ve struggled a little bit with SharePoint designer as it always feels you are getting in “behind the scenes” and i worry about breaking stuff. I’ve created workflows and moved content about but thats about it!

    Penny gave a great overview and some good demonstrations of the data view web part. This has made me feel much more confident going forward with sharepoint designer. Penny also has a new book out which i was lucky enough to win a copy of at the event!

    Hopefully she’ll come back to do some more sessions as i don’t think as many small business specialists are using SharePoint as i thought

    Next up was James Baker – SMB Development Manager for Symantec 

    I’ve met James a few times before and love how enthusiastic he is about his company (even though he used to be a Veritas guy!) and is always very honest and able to take criticism on the chin

    James gave us an overview of what’s happening at Symantec at the moment, product roadmaps (focusing on products for small business), information about the partner programme and general feedback from us to take back to Symantec

    Symantec have had a lot of bad press recently about End Point Protection for SBS and James was good enough to take a bit of stick over this.

    James will be at the Windows Server 2008 launch on Wednesday 19th and i’m sure he and his team will be happy to speak to anyone who has questions

    Yet another good AMITPRO meeting and i didn’t get home till late due to networking after the event. If you’re in the Midlands area and interested everyone would love to see you next time around!