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  • Technology & Families

    We always talk about how technology can help improve our businesses.

    I also love it when technology can help people in their day to day lives

    Today it helped me.

    My poor little two year old had a bit of a tumble yesterday. She didn’t really make a big deal of if but it was obvious she’d hurt her wrist. We decided to let her sleep on it (not the wrist!) and if she was no better by the morning she’d take a trip to the hospital

    Her grandparents took her to the hospital and she has her broken wrist. The hospital actually weren’t going to x-ray her as she didn’t complain when they “manipulated” her arm but luckily her grandmother was quite insistent and the break was confirmed

    So how am I shoehorning technology into this?

    Well first off I was able to get a call from the grandparents straightaway to let me know what was going on. I was on the other line at the time so they were able to leave a voice message for me which I picked up as soon as I’d finished. They then sent a picture message so that I could see she was quite chuffed with her plaster cast

    I was then able to e-mail my wife with an update and we then made the decision she’d go home from work (she can’t use the phone) and in turn I was then able to speak to the other set of grandparents on a mobile phone as they were away from the house

    Now while I do work with some very cool technology on a day to day basis it was the humble telephone, mobile phone and e-mail that kept everyone in communication and ensure my little girl gets all the love and attention she needs

    Here’s the pic I got

    Alice in a sling eating a banana

  • SBS 2008 RC 0 – Stop Error 0xc00000e9

    So unless you’ve been hiding under a rock i’m sure you know that SBS 2008 RC0 Public Preview was made available today (You didn’t know? Get it here -you’ll only need the first disc for the standard install)

    So I downloaded my copy this morning and I just so happen to have a lovely new HP ML350 sitting in the workshop that I’ve been putting through it’s paces before it goes out for an installation in a couple of weeks so I thought I’d install it on there before i put in my (slower) test machine

    I popped the disk in fired up the server and the setup process started with a progress bar informing me that “setup is loading files”

    It got about a quarter of the way through and stopped. Then about a minute later the screen went black and a got a message from the “windows boot manager” saying

    STOP

    ERROR 0xc00000e9

    An unexpected I/O error has occurred

    The partly helpful error description suggests that either some removable media has been unplugged or they is a hardware failure

    Now I’m panicking a little as this is brand new server is being put into production soon, nothing has been unplugged and all the hardware is brand new and up until now fully functional

    I did some searching which didn’t turn up much. I followed some half leads and deleted the partitions on had and tried changing the boot order to no avail

    I went back to the beginning and noted how the error was talking about removable media. Only piece of removable media in use is the DVD i’m installing from

    I copied the downloaded image to a difference PC and burned a new disc using a different piece of software and volia!

    Problem solved.

    As I’m typing this I’m just waiting for the setup process to finish

    I used ISO Recorder (for Vista) for the first failed burn (which in the past has had good recommendations so I’ll burn some more discs and look into this

    The successful disc was with Roxio Easy Media Creator that came bundled with one of our HP systems

    The install should be finished in about ten minutes so i’ll get my first proper look at SBS 2008!

  • SBS Community Survey

    Plenty of other people have already blogged about this but I just wanted to shout about this

    The SBS WW Community Survey 2008 is now available online.

    It’s your chance to feedback on what’s important to you as part of the SBS community

    Especially since at the very bottom is a free type field where you can say what you want!

    If you don’t let the “powers that be” know what you want they can’t give it to you

    I’ve just completed it and it’ll only take a couple of minutes

    DO IT NOW!

  • Misleading Sales Techniques or Stupid Salesman?

    I had a very strange sales experience today

    The PC I have at home is starting to get a little bit long in the tooth so I decided it was time to treat myself to a new system

    I was looking for something a bit different from the usual Dell/HP/etc so wanted to use one of the many well known system builders here in the UK

    After lots of research I found exactly the system I wanted at the sort of price I wanted to pay

    I was about to place the order online when I noticed the web site ordering system wouldn’t let me choose which flavour of Vista I wanted. The system I’m ordering has 8GB of RAM so I needed the 64-bit version.

    The web site has one of those ever so helpful “live chat” facilities so I connected to one of their sales staff to ask some questions

    I was told that they don’t offer the 64-bit version of Windows as so many of their customers have had problems with it so they wouldn’t be able to support it

    So I had to ask

    “But you’re selling a system that has 8GB of RAM? What is the point in selling it if you can’t use it all”

    A valid question I thought, what do you think the reply was?

    “The systems we sell are future proofed

    This took me back a little so I replied to say

    “Ok but it doesn’t indicate that anywhere on your site?”

    “Why would we need to do that?”

    “Because if an average consumer paid for 8GB of RAM they would expect to be able to use all 8GB”

    “Intel and AMD sell chips that have 4 cores and are releasing chips with 8 and 12 cores. But you can’t use all of those”

    I then went on to point out that while lots of current software packages don’t take advantage of multi-cores Windows operating systems are quite happy with many cores and there are already applications that do (Excel does, plus various graphics/video encoding packages) and since I’d also be using this PC for testing (virtualisation, servers, etc) that argument didn’t stand up

    They were also various other “discussions” over wether they should provide me a 64-bit operating system and his solution was

    “After we have supplied you the system you can format the hard disk and install any operating system obtained from a 3rd party”

    So basically I’d have to pay for a 32-bit OEM version of Windows Vista (they wouldn’t sell me a system without an operating system either!) and then get a retail version of 64-bit Vista, basically paying for it twice instead of just getting 64-bit OEM

    After this I went away and did some research.

    Well I tried to do some research. What I wanted to know was if I got the 32-bit version of Vista from this system builder, am I entitled to switch over to 64-bit and if so should the system builder provide the media?

    I struggled to find any useful information on this

    Eric Ligman has a post on this here but since it’s OEM he points the reader back at the system builder

    I’ve asked some other people but the feeling I get is that you choose which flavour you want from your system builder and then your stuck with it?

    The problem is I can’t find any information on this anywhere. I’m a little bit fortunate that I can ask other partners and contacts at Microsoft about it (I even checked the system builder information in the action pack and on the partner portal but I couldn’t get an answer)

    What if my dad or my brother was doing this? To test the theory I called the Microsoft customer care help line in the same way a consumer would. This didn’t help at all as the person in the call centre didn’t know anything about it and referred me to the web site which also doesn’t help

    I’m digressing slightly here. So am I being unreasonable in saying that if the PC can’t use 8GB the web site should indicate this?

    I’m not naming and shaming the company just yet as the price vs system spec is pretty good and they are a well respected PC builder here in the UK so it could just be that their sales staff aren’t as clued up as they should be and once I’ve figured out what I’m going to do about a 64-bit version I may still buy it and become a customer

  • Friends Reunited – free

    I meant to blog about this a while ago but completely forgot about it, which is kind of like friends reunited to be honest

    Friends Reunited has been around for ages (July 2000, ages on the Internet!) and started with a simple idea.

    Put people in touch with lost friends

    This was mainly old school friends but the site grew to add workplaces, teams, even neighbourhoods

    The site was massively popular here in the UK. We even had Friends Reunited themed TV shows, music CD’s and stories in the media of marriages ending as the husband has run off with his childhood sweetheart after getting in touch on the site.

    However, the main problem (in my opinion) was it’s business model. You could set yourself up a profile for free but to actually send someone a message you had to pay a yearly subscription fee which was originally £5. I think it went up after the site was brought by ITV who I think were looking to grab some of that early web site advertising cash

    £5 was not really a lot and I paid my cash but the problem was not enough people did. So you would send someone a message and never get a reply as they didn’t pay for the subscription. I still check the site from time to time but hardly ever use it and I imagine I’m not the only one.

    Then when sites like MySpace, Facebook, etc became popular I figured Friends Reunited would have to do one of two things.

    1) Have a re-think about how to make money

    2) Pack up and go home

    So it wasn’t a massive surprise to me recently when I got an email to let me know that friends reunited is now free

    I logged on to have a look and they have revamped the site visuals but I think it’s possibly too late to get back to being as popular as they once were

    They do have other offshoots such as Gene’s Reunited which from what I can gather is pretty popular

    It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for the site

    EDIT – Wikipedia article has some interesting details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friends_Reunited

  • Thanks Technet Guys

    Been a little quiet on the blogging front recently due to lots going on from a work and personal perspective (got some really big news this weekend which I’ll post about when I can!)

    I just wanted to say a public “thank you” to the people who look after Technet Subscriptions

    Last year I won a free subscription at a Technet event I attended. It recently expired and I needed to get it renewed. Since it was a promotional subscription I was having problems renewing it online

    So I sent an email and got a great response from the people the who look after Technet subscriptions here in the UK so I’d like to say thanks to Georgina Mitcham, Alex Ball and the guy who I spoke to over the phone but whose name I didn’t get!

    I now have another years worth of Technet and a free book!(Renewal promotion..it’s this book. It arrived this morning and while hefty looks very useful)

  • Just Thinking Out Loud..

    On the Microsoft download site I found this:

    Windows Essential Business Server SDK

    Brief Description

    Public Preview Software – Release Candidate 0
    The Windows Essential Business Server SDK provides a set of APIs for extending the functionality of the Windows Essential Business Server Administration Console.

    Overview

    The Windows Essential Business Server SDK gives you the tools and information to create application add-ins and security adapter add-ins that will enable a system administrator to manage even more applications and security issues. A system administrator can use add-ins to manage application and security data from additional sources in a familiar way.

     

    I wonder if there will be one for SBS 2008?

    Interesting……

  • May AMITPRO meeting & SBS Pricing

    Two blog posts for the price of one!

    I’m a bit rubbish at blogging at the moment but AMITPRO meetings always give me plenty of food for though

    As per my last post Mike Bryett very kindly travelled up from down south to demonstrate Microsoft Office Accounting 2008

    This was very useful as taking a look at this was on my list of things to do but it’s always much easier when someone who knows more than you shows you how it all works

    Mike did a great job and I was impressed with the integration with Outlook & BCM and I downloaded it as soon as i got back to see if it will be of any benefit to us (luckily it’s our accounting year end so if we wanted to start using it it’s a good time!)

    I also managed to find the Office Accounting Developer Portal which contains the SDK amongst other things so worth looking into as well

    Paul Dadge then showed us how his business has benefited from partnering with Enta (which Richard Tubb also backed up as he is also a fan)

    I’ve signed up for their partner program so more on this as it develops

    There was then a third, previously unannounced speaker…me!

    I’ve been part of the trial period for the UK Partner Portal Community (I blogged about this here) so Vijay asked me Tuesday morning if I’d like to fill the rest of the group in on how that has been going. It’s still in the Alpha stages at the moment but I’ve the group provided some decent feedback to send to Microsoft

    Once again a worthwhile evening spent with fellow SBSers

    So how am i linking this to the SBS pricing announcement?

    When we got to the bar Vijay was checking his phone when he noticed the pricing announcement details which was a great place to start the after event chat (Vijay mentions it here)

    So what do i think?

    I’m really not sure. Once thing I’ve learnt in recent years is that dollar amount pricing announcements have little bearing on the price we’ll see in the UK

    Also the announcements were only for retail pricing. No details on OEM or licensing prices yet so I don’t know what the real price is going to be here in the UK

    Sean Daniel has a good post explaining the reasoning behind the change in price (excerpt below)

    • Our current SBS 2003 pricing is backwards from our research.  Having a lower server price and higher CAL prices is counter intuitive to what people actually want
    • We have seen a strong desire for SQL Standard edition, instead of SQL Workgroup edition
    • There is a strong desire to separate Line of Business applications from the machine running your IT Infrastructure.
    • There is frustration with “over-buying” CALs, and having to buy 5 CALs for 1 new employee
    • Research has shown, if the server is too inexpensive there are negative perceptions
      • e.g. contains less than full versions of products
      • e.g. less capable then Windows Standard Server

    All fair comments I guess and moving from SQL workgroup to SQL standard is obviously going to bump the price up some and I can understand his last statement though i guess it depends on who your speaking to!

    Either way SBS is still a bargain in my opinion and Sean states SBS Standard will actually work out cheaper. It’s the improved SQL version pushing up the price

    Also the change in the CAL buying policy is a welcome one. I’d be interested to hear if there will be any incentives to buy them in packs of five in the “traditional” manner?

    There was also a firmer commitment to the public beta being available in the next couple of weeks or so. I sent an email to preview@microsoft.com after the Windows 2008 launch event so I’ll be keeping an eye out for details of that

  • Look what turned up on the Microsoft Download Site – EBS

    I’m geeky enough to subscribe to the RSS feed for the Microsoft download site. A lot of the time there is plenty of stuff that just isn’t relevant but sometimes there is very cool stuff

    Today was one of those days..

    Click here to get “Public Preview Software – Release Candidate 0 of Windows Essential Business Server 2008”

    You’ll need three 64-bit systems to play with this

    There is a system requirements section on the page

  • Management Server – 4 GB of RAM
  • Security Server – 2 GB of RAM
  • Messaging Server – 4 GB of RAM
  • Just to give you an idea of what you’ll need!

  • May AMITPRO Meeting

    Just realised I haven’t posted about this!

    The last week or so has seen some great weather here in the UK which is part of the reason why my blogging has been so light.

    I.e  –  I spent most of the weekend sat outside with a beer in my hand 🙂

    Anyway the latest AMITPRO meeting is Tuesday 13 May (tomorrow!)

    Everyone meets at 5.00pm for a 5.30pm start at the Arden Hotel

    Vijay once again makes organising group speakers every month look easy!!

    Michael Bryett of Bryett Enterprise, a Microsoft Small Business Specialist based in Windsor and Group Leader of the Thames Valley SBS Group, will be presenting/demoing Office Accounting 2008 with Business Contact Manager

    This is followed up by Paul Dadge doing a short presentation on EntaNet and the benefits of signing up end users to this ISP

    I’m looking forward to seeing Mike talk about Office Accounting. I know he was on the Beta program over here while the product was still only a myth! Also he’s an all round nice guy so it’s great he’s making the effort to come up and speak to our group

    Paul is a regular at the meetings and anything he has to say is always interesting so if you’ve never been to a user group meeting and your in the Midlands area make this the month!!