Change to MS Financing Terms

June 4, 2009
Posted by: David Baker @ 4:32 pm

Just so you are up to speed with this topic check out Karl Palachuk’s blog entry here and I agree wholeheartedly with his sentiment and disappointment. There’s a little more here on the ChannelWeb site as well.

Well I’ve just been on the phone to MS financing and they have confirmed that the requirement for 35% of the financing deal to be Microsoft products.

Vista Service Pack 2 Arrives

May 30, 2009
Posted by: David Baker @ 11:33 am

Vista SP2 is available for direct download from the Microsoft website. You have the option on this page to download an .iso file (for making your own CD), or the .exe files for both 32 and 64-bit Vista. It will also be arriving shortly as an option through Windows updates.

It’s a biggie (around 350MB) but addresses nearly 700 bugs and security updates. Among the highlights of new features is the support for Blu-ray discs, updated support for Bluetooth v2.1 and support for the exFAT file system providing handling of larger file sizes. There are improvements to the efficiency of the power management features which could help reduce overall power consumption. SP2 also fixes Wi-Fi issues when Vista awakes from sleep mode, and boosts performance of the Vista desktop sidebar gadget.

As ever with our patch management process we will be testing it in-house first before even considering deploying it to our managed service clients. Watch this space for gotcha’s!

Office 2007 SP2 is here!

May 2, 2009
Posted by: David Baker @ 11:41 pm

This is a large collect of patches, bug fixes and a bit of new stuff (the full download being up around the 290MB size). Comment has been made that Outlook has had a significant performance boost – which I will be interested to see. We are just about to start testing in-house.

As with all significant release like this it may be prudent to hang back from installation unless you have a need for one of the fixes. There have been reports of a few deployment issues related to specific combinations of packages on the problem systems. One such issue is fixed with this patch.

The Office Watch website has some good information on all this stuff. Also check out this link for a good run down on the content. You can also find the SP2 download here.

Internet Storm Warning

March 31, 2009
Posted by: David Baker @ 3:46 pm

This may have been hyped by the media and as such has made it onto the BBC website, who have also created a nice timeline of how the malware known as Conficker has been a real threat since August last year. It remains to be seen whether the threat is real or just that – hype. Questions remain regarding what the payload might or will be.

Security experts such as Symantec’s Peter Coogan and CA’s Don DeBolt, along with pontificators from all over the blogosphere are saying there may be a new variant released on April Fools Day as is a favoured day for such events.

Here’s is a link to the Microsoft patch: Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-067 – Critical

Get it, install it. Also make sure your Malware protection suite is current and your backups are good.

Time to “batten down the hatches” or simply get the umbrella out? I guess we may well see tomorrow!


Worthy Cause – Follow Up

March 24, 2009
Posted by: David Baker @ 10:23 am

Well he did it! Phil completed the marathon in 4h 22m 8s and has raised over £600 in the process. Way to go! Read the blog entry here and if you are impressed by this feat donate here.

Worthy Cause

March 17, 2009
Posted by: David Baker @ 1:18 pm

Just a brief posting this week to promote a marathon that an old friend is undertaking this Sunday to raise money for a worthy cause. 35km’s is no easy feat and has taken a significant amount of time and preparation. You can follow his exploits here. Better still why not sponsor him here, it’s the least you could do.

Good luck for Sunday Phil.

AutoCAD 2006 Retires Tomorrow

March 12, 2009
Posted by: David Baker @ 10:14 am

If you are running one of the Autodesk 2006 products you have one day left to protect your investment in the software and maintain your upgrade route to later versions. The 2006 product line is due to retire tomorrow (13/03/09). Read more about the products being retired here.

Why we patch – Revisited

February 27, 2009
Posted by: David Baker @ 6:21 pm

I’ve already discussed the subject of patch management in my October posting, however recent news hitting the web and ezines is a timely reminder of why you should carefully manage (or even better, get us to manage) the deployment of your updates. This is not the first time something like this has occurred, and I’m absolutely certain it won’t be the last.

This time it’s Microsoft Excel’s turn to make the news (read about it here). Microsoft have issued a security advisory on the issue. Regardless of the general feelings that get voiced about Microsoft’s software security they have a very structured approach to dealing with these issues that a lot of other companies could learn from. In fact Microsoft didn’t even feature in the recent (20/02/09) WServerNews list of latest vulnerabilities generated from the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures site. Fortunately for us Symantec have spotted this one first and undoubtedly will have a trigger for it in their latest definition update.

However I digress from the point of this post. I don’t want to discusss th relative security merits, or not, inherent in software, what I want to bring your attention to is the way in which you deal with these issues.

Finding the vulnerabilities and producing supporting evidence (tests, proofs and documents) is a full time job for a large number of companies and organisations. Digesting that information – regularly – can be as much as a full time job, let alone understanding the information provided. Who has time to do this along-side their core business? As one element of what we do in our supporting role there is a finite amount of time even we can spend on this subject.

So how does your business deal with issues like this?

More to follow…

Autodesk Update giving users pain

December 3, 2008
Posted by: David Baker @ 10:24 pm

Another one for our AutoCAD users out there.

It looks as though the AutoCAD update 2 causes the software to crash frequently!  Autodesk have released another update (2.01) to replace the original version 2.0 update.  Another point to note is that the software and the Add/Remove programs list reports the original faulty update (2.00) as English Version 3.

This is text taken from a discussion found at the Autodesk website

Straight from the mouth of Autodesk: uninstall update 2.

“Early this morning I was made aware of a new change request that is tracking incidences of random crashes like your’s in AutoCAD LT 2009 after Update 2 has been applied. Currently we are rapidly receiving error reports ranging from New Zealand to the UK at the current rate of 37 reports over the past 24 hours.

Development is asking for a reproducible case to unravel what the root cause is. If you can reliably duplicate the conditions where the crash occurs that we can relay to development, please send details. Otherwise, you should uninstall the Update 2 that appears as “AutoCAD LT 2009 – English Version 3″ in the Add or Remove Program applet until we can correct the problems you’ve been seeing.

We apologize for the inconvenience. This has become a hot issue that development is actively attempting to resolve.”

Autodesk to Retire 2006 family of products shortly

Posted by: David Baker @ 10:22 pm

Here’s a heads up for all our AutoCAD users out there.

The AutoCAD 2009 portfolio is now shipping and until 15th January 2009 there are offers for customers upgrading. The AutoCAD 2006 products will be retired by Autodesk on 13th March 2009. After this date there will be no upgrade option for this product line.

The company is not our favourite for their approach to forcing the upgrade process, but if you have invested in their software and it is in your strategic business plan to use their tools now may be a good time to protect that investment.

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