Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
One of the cool tools I’ve mentioned in my talks around Australia this week and last week is a free tool that works with Visio to diagram your network. This tool is only available for free until June 30, so you need to act fast to grab it.
Check it out here
Thursday, June 19th, 2008
This week at the Perth SMB IT Professionals Group, Sandi Hardmeirer, used my laptop to demonstrate ways that potential spyware attacks could take place on unsuspecting users without them even clicking on links in a web page. She showed us a video which displayed how a well respected website was infected with malvertisements (bad advertisements) that redirected the user to other websites without any interaction at all. Following the redirection the bad website would proceed to install malicious code on the users PC for their own nefarious purposes.
During the demonstration, Sandi attempted to visit a URL that was known to be bad, and I was impressed to see that my Trend WFBS 5.0 client software blocked her from getting there. From the screenshot below, you can see that the Web Reputation Services built into the Trend software has blocked the web browser from accessing this malicious site. It gave me the option to approve the website I was attempting to go to, but naturally we declined
Well done Trend – one more step forward for the good guys.
Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
Last week I was working with a client and I needed to be able to configure the timezone on machines automatically by some form of automated process. The workstations we needed to configure were spread across 5 separate time zones in Australia and New Zealand. Digging into this some more, I found that I could easily set the time zone based on a command line script as below.
“control.exe timedate.cpl,,/Z (GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney”
You can easily change the section after the /Z to be the exact same text as what you see when you go to change the time zone manually.
I elected to create 5 individual batch files and then call those batch files from the existing site specific logon scripts. This way when we move a PC to a site, and the local user logs on, it will set the time zone correctly.
I also explored the option of setting this as a computer startup script via Group Policy. Doing it this way would have meant that I could apply a GPO to the specific site via Active Directory Sites and Services that would automatically affect all computers in that sites IP subnet. In the end though the reason I chose not to do this was that it would also affect travelling users who visit a remote office. When the travelling user connects their PC to the LAN, they are immediately in that local site, and therefore if they rebooted their computer while on that site, their time zone settings would have been modified. This would have had the side effect of ALSO changing their outlook calendar appointments which would have caused much confusion.
Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
Last night @ the Perth SMB IT Professionals Group meeting, I met the orange shirt brigade, also known locally as PCGuru These guys are a small SMB focused group that stand out from the crowd if for nothing more than their bright orange shirts. Their Managing Director – Jason Jordan told me about their funky cars they use to drive around in – check out the pictures below.
Jason also gave me some thoughts on the local market too. PCGURU focuses on the 5 to 50 seat market and has recently made the transition to decide NOT to service the domestic/residential market after reviewing their business from top to bottom. They use best of breed products including SBS 2003 and Trends Antivirus product to protect their clients (welcome to the family guys). The team at PCGURU is now 20 strong and growing well, with the only limitation being finding SBSC’s with personality – I can relate to that problem well!
Well done Jason on creating an image that is hard to miss and hopefully puts some fun into dealing with difficult IT Issues.
Have you got an interesting advertising approach for your SMB focused business? If so let me know – I’m keen to get this information out to the rest of the world
Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
Last night, I was fortunate to be able to help start the Perth SMB IT Professionals Group here in Perth. Thanks to Ingram Micro for allowing us to use their boardroom as a home for the group over the next few months. We had a great start to the group with 26 people in attendance and we discussed what the group could offer to everyone involved, they got Perths first live demo of SBS 2008, and local spyware crusader Sandi Hardmeirer scared the pants of people with some very relevant malware demonstrations that will affect all of our customers at some point or other. Thanks Sandi.. my laptop will never be the same again
The group has decided that they will meet next month on the last Tuesday of the month (July 29th) at 6:00pm at Ingram Micros offices at
We had 6 people stand up at volunteer to be part of the group that will help formulate what this group is all about and what direction it will take from there. Fantastic! I wish it had been this easy 7 years ago when I started the Sydney group
Thanks to Robbie Upcroft (Microsoft Australias WHS/SBS/EBS/SBSC Product Manager) for supplying Pizza and drink for the night.
Want to know more about the Perth group – email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll make sure I link you up with the right people.
Great meeting guys – and congratulations on the birth of a new vibrant community!
Saturday, June 14th, 2008
Sandi Hardmeier is a respected MVP and a good friend of mine. She’s been fighting against all kinds of malware in her after hours for the past umpteen years now and has single handedly prevented some potentially major infections (say like 220 million users of MSN Instant Messenger that were at risk). Up until now though, Sandi’s day job has NOT been involved in IT as a primary role. She’s been in the legal field for 20 or more years and has been taking on the bad guys online in her spare time. The bad guys however should be scared. Very scared. Sandi has left the legal field and now works with TRUSTe.
TRUSTe is an organisation thats primary purpose is to ensure that online privacy and protection of confidential data is maintained. Now that Sandi’s there, she will have not only her own considerable resources, but those of TRUSTe.
Bad guys – you’ve been warned. I’d get out of flamethrower range if I were you, this gal has a reputation for toasting servers and in fact entire ISP’s. And I am NOT joking!
Check out the press release here
Oh – Congratulations Sandi
Friday, June 13th, 2008
Next week, Robbie Upcroft and I will be in Perth to run some SBS / EBS training. While we are there we are aiming to start an SBS or SMB IT Professional Group in Perth. If you are involved in SBS or the SMB IT Pro Channel, please come along.
What is an SMB IT Professional Group?
The Sydney SBS Group started over 7 years ago now and is a great way to find and share information that will help improve your technical and business skills in servicing your clients in the SBS and SMB market. Whilst independent from each other, there are now SBS or SMB IT Professional groups in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane and we wanted to kick start one now in Perth as many people have asked for it.
When is it?
Tuesday 17th June from 6:30pm for around 2 hours.
What will be shown on the night?
Robbie Upcroft Microsoft’s Small Business Server Product Manager and myself will give a sneak peak at the new Small Business Server 2008 with live demonstrations.
Sandi Hardmeirer a highly regarded MVP who battles spyware on a daily basis will give a presentation on Malware and how you can protect your customers.
What will it cost to attend?
NOTHING. The group meeting is free, with Ingram Micro providing us a location and Microsoft sponsoring the free Pizza for the night.
Where is it?
Ingram Micro have graciously allowed us use of their boardroom which can seat up to 30 people. Their address is Unit 7 – Rear 443 Scarborough Beach Road, Osborne Park, WA.
Please email email@example.com ASAP to secure your spot for this event.
Friday, June 13th, 2008
Well yesterday we did the first ever look @ SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 in Australia, here in Sydney @ Microsoft’s North Ryde offices. Registrations for the event were slow to start with but kicked up big time in the end and we had almost 100% attendance for all the people that registered – almost unheard of in the events industry for a free event. THANK YOU for coming people.
Robbie mentioned a new WESS Partner FAQ in his talk and here’s the link to it in case you didn’t get a printed copy of it.
Some of the eagle eye’d of you will have noticed that I was video taping the presentation from yesterday, I’ll be taping all of them and then seeing which one looks best before posting that at the end of these sessions. Hopefully that will help all those that can’t get along to the event.
Looking forward to seeing you all.
Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
Heads up guys, I’ve just finished the first ever SBS 2008 demo here in Australia at the SMB IT Professional Group here in Sydney. Thanks for those that attended, it was great to be finally able to talk to you about all the cool things going on with Small Business Server 2008. For those in other states, Robbie Upcroft and I will be visiting your usergroups over the next two weeks to repeat the presentation and really drop our pants in terms of SBS 2008.
One other thing not to be missed is the FREE – YES FREE half day training sessions on SBS 2008 and EBS 2008. Robbie has gone to bat for us to be able to have this training BEFORE the official launch, so let’s all support him by having standing room only at these events. Check out Robbies blog post here for dates and registration links.
Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008
I just went to http://support.microsoft.com from my PC and laptop here in Sydney Australia and got the page below. I suspect something is a little wrong with their site today. My Chinese is not so good.