Friday, July 20th, 2012
I stumbled across this one on the Microsoft Download site when looking for something else altogether. It’s the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack and it’s a piece of software that once installed will allow you to use native Windows to view a wider range of images than before. I will also allow you to view RAW format photos that many cameras produce. I’ve tried this with my Canon 650D and it can easily display some of those RAW format photos I took of the Grand Canyon last year.
You can download the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack here
Friday, July 20th, 2012
Have you ever needed to copy or replicate an entire directory structure without the files themselves? I’ve often needed to do that when setting up some USB hard drives for offsite replication with ShadowProtects ImageManager. I found a nice simple way to do it with the Robocopy command
robocopy E:\SPBackup F:\OffsiteBackup /e /xf *.*
That command basically tells it to copy all the directorys in the SPBackup folder over to the OffsiteBackup folder even if they are empty, but to exclude the files themselves. Works a treat!
Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
I was sitting at my desktop last week with it’s 4 LCD screens and on the right hand side I have my laptop. I was thinking about how cool it would be to be able to move my mouse from the desktop to the laptop and still use it. Microsoft must have been reading my mind, because this week I found out about a utility called Mouse without borders.
This cool utility will allow you to seamlessly move your mouse from one computer to another with up to 4 computers in the link. The keyboard will also work across whichever computer the mouse is on at the time. How cool is that???
Friday, June 29th, 2012
I’m sure you’ve had clients servers disks fill up on a regular basis right? Here’s a cool tool that is free that you can use to quickly figure out where it’s all gone. TreeSize Free from JAM Software is a free tool, you can download it here but I’ve also paid for the Professional Version for my own systems.
As an example – here’s an example of a servers hard drive that filled up on one client today.
I then ran my disk cleanup script which you can download from here and did a refresh on the tool above and suddenly my disk is not so full anymore
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
Believe it or not, this little gem is one I learned over 20 years ago now when I worked for AST Computers. We had a need to exercise some hard drives and one of the tech team there wrote this quick but simple batch file to do so. Copy the following lines to Notepad and then save it as a file called t.bat.
Copy t.t + t.t t1.t
ren t1.t t.t
Now you’ve saved it as a file called t.bat, copy t.bat to t.t
You can then run the file. It basically doubles in size over and over till it runs out of disk space at which point it will error out. Simple, but effective… this simple batch file helped us find a critical flaw in our AST computers when running under OS/2 that we had sold to a major insurance company at the time.
Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
I was working yesterday on a clients SBS 2008 server that we had inherited. The clients SBS 2008 install had been messed with by at least 2 IT companies before we got to them. One of the issues I was trying to resolve was that Companyweb was not working. I went through the normal things on the SBS blog that affect companyweb, but in the end it was still not working. Robert Crane – grand poobah of Sharepoint and Office 365 and well known author of the WSS Operations Guide happened to be in our office doing some other work for us. After spending some time trying to fix it myself, I relented and called on Roberts experience… and I’m bloody glad I did. What was taking me a long time to fix, was very quickly fixed by Robert using instructions he had prepared earlier. His Windows Sharepoint Services Operations Guide includes Chapter 13 which we used to resurrect the clients Companyweb with a fresh install and then reattach the databases.
The funny thing about this all was that we didn’t really need Sharepoint / Companyweb working as the customer didn’t need it. What we did need to do however was to get it working so that the SBS Internet Domain Name wizard would works so we could properly setup their Exchange for external access. The previous IT company didn’t try that and there were issues as a result. I was able to read the logs for the wizard (dpcw.log) and determine that the wizard was crashing at the point it tried to configure the Companyweb correctly. So we needed to fix Companyweb so that the wizard would work. All up – a great afternoons work – the client is now VERY happy indeed.
Now I could have kept at this for many more hours, but instead of letting my ego get in the way, I called in an expert. The expert then came in and fixed it quickly. How often do we as IT Professionals think we can solve things and we don’t want to actually call in other help? Is it just us or is it other professions as well? I know from experience that when I can’t solve something after a period of time, I find it beneficial to call on someone else’s view point – they might just have the answers you are looking for. Thanks Robert – and I highly recommend the Windows Sharepoint Operations Guide if you don’t have a subscription, get one – now!
Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
I had an interesting discussion with my bookkeeper yesterday when she was doing the books for me. You see I use MYOB AccountRight Plus in my business to handle all the things I need. I’ve used it now for 6 years and in that time it’s worked well. In the early days I had need of support and I found the MYOB support was quite good.
I got a renewal notice in the mail in which they asked me to renew my MYOB Cover at a cost of $714.00. That’s funny I thought, I was sure I’d seen that you could buy MYOB AccountRight Plus for less than that. A quick check of Harris Technology website indeed showed that you can get it for $678. A further search on the internet showed I can get it for as low as $599 if I wanted. I asked my bookkeeper why should I renew the MYOB Cover and why not just go and buy the software again given the price they were charging. My bookkeeper basically told me that for my use, the only thing I needed was the tax tables which were provided in the updates. I honestly didn’t need any of the new features and in fact based on what I’ve heard out there in the community, the newer version was in fact causing many people big problems as it lacked many of the reports that the older version had and needed quite a bit of training to get things running. I decided at that point that I didn’t think it worthwhile to spend the $ on the MYOB Cover when in fact we could update the tax tables manually.
Coincidentally, today I received an email from MYOB with the same renewal I got in the post. I figured why not ask them about the price difference, so I did. I asked them the following.
Why is it more expensive to pay your MYOB Cover than it is to buy the product outright from Harris Technology? Why would I go with you on this when I can get the same cheaper from one of your resellers?
I sent the email and expected to not hear from anyone. Surprisingly I got a phone call within a few hours from a young lady in the MYOB customer service team (I‘ll call her Elle for this post). They wanted to answer my question personally. Anyway – Elle was most helpful. She told me that I needed cover to ensure that I got the updates for the tax tables and also so I could in future upgrade to the new all singing all dancing cloud version. Honestly – I told her that I do my accounting offline, therefore the cloud version has no value for me, and that the tax tables could be updated manually in 10-15 minutes. Also given that I’ve had no need for support for the past 5 years, why would I want to spend another $700 for features I didn’t need. Why not just wait till I need the new version and buy it?
Elle then informed me that given I was already an MYOB customer, that they would charge me $150 to “unlock” my MYOB company file so that it could be used on another copy of MYOB of the same version. That would be on top of the price of purchasing the software if I chose to buy it new. That sounds a little rich to me. I was not liking the thought that I was locked into paying MORE than a new user to continue to use the software. I told Elle that I really was not happy with this concept and that I would likely not renew my MYOB Cover. We ended the call there.
I’m left wondering though about the tactics MYOB are employing here and I’ve got to seriously consider, is this something that I need? Is this really showing loyalty to a customer who has purchased your product for years in which you are effectively charging them MORE to stay under maintenance than a customer who has purchased their product for the first time?
Personally – with all the bad comments I’ve seen about upgrading from MYOB 19.6 to the new improved SQL based version, I really don’t think that I need to do the upgrade at all. I certainly don’t need the Cloud version that they talk about as I much prefer to do my accounts offline, sometimes whilst in transit on planes which don’t have any connectivity. Sorry MYOB, I don’t see enough value in this, so I think that I’ll skip this upgrade.
Naturally your case may vary and you need to make your own assessment, but I still have concern over the concept of customer loyalty that means existing clients pay more than new clients year on year for the same product. What are your thoughts on this?
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
I found out today via some MVP buddies, that Microsoft have released a free 25GB upgrade for users of SkyDrive. You can find out more about it here.
I’ve used SkyDrive in the past but have more recently moved everything over to TrendMicro SafeSync for Business which suits me just fine. I did that because I could not get more than the 7GB with SkyDrive and with Trend I could purchase as much as I needed. I’m currently using around 14GB which I sync across a number of computers. One of the new features of SkyDrive is integration with iPad’s – this is a feature I’m keen to trial myself.
So today I got my free upgrade to 25GB. I suggest you get yours and start to play with it some more. Windows 8 promises to use SkyDrive even more than Win7 did, so I’m keen to start playing with it myself.
Monday, April 23rd, 2012
Analysing a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) crash is not for the feint hearted. I did some training with Microsoft a few years back that showed me how to do it, but to be honest, I so rarely do it these days that I’m a bit rusty. My laptop however has had increasing issues over the past week or so and has had a couple of BSOD’s that I figured I’d “get around to looking at real soon now”. The most recent one happened overnight while I thought it was turned off. It’s shown below for reference.
When a computer BSOD’s, it leaves behind a dump file of the status of the computer. It’s those files that we need to analyse in order to understand what went wrong, and how we can fix it. Rather than break out the debug tools, I decided to take another approach. I employed a tool called Whocrashed to do the analysis of the BSOD DMP file and tell me what went wrong.
Whocrashed is available free for home users from their website here. They also have a few other tools which look quite cool as well and I’ll check them out later.
Anyway – I downloaded the tool and let it analyse my DMP files. It took less than a second and came back with the information below.
Ok – so I know where it crashed (it reviewed the previous BSODs too and said the same thing). Now I just need to figure out WHY it’s crashing in that area…
Friday, October 14th, 2011
Back in the days when I did my TCP/IP for NT4 training, you had to be able to understand subnets and decide on them manually. Now further down the track, there’s a lot more use of TCP/IP as it’s the foundation of life, the universe and everything. One of my guys in the office showed me this cool website that you can use to do all the basic calculations for you for subnetting an IP network. You can check out the website here