Articles from June 2007

Server Core Gains IIS

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:59 AM :: 1484 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!
A while ago I had a post complaining about server core not living up to my expectations Mobile-ready link. Well, it looks like things are changing. Server core will now include IIS Mobile-ready link. This is fantastic news! Of course, this doesn't cover all I was hoping for. While IIS is in, .NET is still out; however, the .NET team is apparently looking at getting it added in, too. At this point, server core roles include: DHCP, DNS, web server, file server, virtualization, and domain controller. Personally, I'm not a sys admin, so I'll only be looking to have a web, application, and database servers, all of which I'll demand .NET on. With that, I'm going to demand PowerShell. I just don't see how we can have a next gen OS without the next gen command shell. I really like the idea of server core and am glad it's maturing, but I think there's still room to grow. I don't expect them to get it perfect this go-round, but I expect to see some dramatic changes come Windows Server 2011... or, whatever it's called, whenever it's released. Honestly, I have no intel on the follow-on version of Windows Server, so don't hold me to that :-P

Live Search Club

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:48 PM :: 2005 Views :: Technology, Other :: Digg it!

Microsoft released Live Search Club about a month or so ago and I've been meaning to check it out. Well, I finally did and I think it's interesting, but I don't see it really winning anyone over anytime soon. The basis is pretty much summed up by the ads: "Play games. Earn tickets. Win prizes." With that, it's more enticing than most games out there, where you don't have the chance to get anything back. Then again, looking at the prize list, I kind of have mixed feelings. Most prizes to me aren't worth the time to even try to win. Then again, the bottom of the list -- consisting of Vista, Office 2007, Zune, and Xbox 360 -- is definitely interesting. Of course, you'll need at least 6000 tickets to get to this level and 35,000 for that Xbox. With all that, there's just one question: How quickly can we earn points?

There are 7 games that all revolve around search -- go figure. Some of them work with the search, others don't. My impressions are below, but let me summarize... All-in-all, this is simply a marketing campaign to get more people using Live Search. If you ask me, I think it could work. I expect numbers to start jumping up... if people find out about it, that is. I guess one good thing is that these games will also be publicized on MSN Games, which is a pretty big crowd. Of course, you don't have a chance to win prizes on MSN Games, so if you're going to play, make sure you go to Live Search Club.

Chicktionary 1.00.009

Synopsis: 7 chickens can each lay an egg with a specific letter. You basically have to make as many words out of that as you can. More specifically, it looks like you have to spell around 10 three-, four-, and five-letter words, 5 or 6 six-letter words, and 1 seven-letter word. These numbers change from game-to-game, so they may be different. The bottom line is you have to come up with 35 words that fall into these groups. You may be able to come up with 35 three-letter words alone, but you still have a limit.

Playtime / Points Earned: 20-60m / 20 pts

You'll knock out most of your words in a matter of minutes. The problem comes in when you're trying to get those six-letter words. And, just to forewarn you, don't bother saving your hints for those, because they "run out" regardless. I just played a game that I was able to knock out all but 2 six-letter words in the first two minutes and after going thru countless words I tried to make up, I decided to go for my first hint. Guess what... it claimed I used all my hints. Apparently, this must be at least in part based on what you have left.

I will say that, if you're into learning new words, this is a great one for you because of how search is integrated. After you submit a "word." Live search will throw the definition up for you to see what the word was. This can be interesting when you start getting down to those last few words. When you do, tho, you do have the option to give up. If you give up, you're also giving up on points, so take note of that. Then again, by the time you get to that point, you're so aggravated it doesn't matter.

One last thing I should mention: search doesn't give you a whole lot here, but it can, if you're lucky. I was able to get a few hints on properly spelled wods by using the spelling correction. I would by no means depend on this, but it did help me get lucky a few times.

While I like this game, I spend most of my time trying to figure out 3 or 4 words, which just doesn't up the enjoyment factor all that much. If you like these types of games, go for it. The fact that there's no time, tho, is what kills me. If I had to change one thing, it'd be that some concept of time and levels be brought into play here.

Clink 1.00.025

Synopsis: You're given 10 hints, each corresponding to 2-3 blanks, and 13 words to fill those blanks. The words can be used as many times as necessary to fulfill the hints.

Playtime / Points Earned: 5-10m / 10 pts

I like this one, partially because it's relatively simple. Search is easily integrated here because you are encouraged to search for the hints, words from the pool, or any combination of both. This can help, but knowing a secret to the game helps a bit more. Not that this was an all-powerful secret, but here's what I noticed... In every answer, one of the words will be used in the next answer and another will be in the previous answer. For instance, here are the top three answers in one game: Will and Grace, say grace, and strange to say. As you can see, "grace" is used on 1 and 2, and "say" is used on 2 and 3. This pattern is in every game I've played so far. Also, you'll notice that, when you have 3 word answers, the third word is only used once in the game. So, if you're stuck on a three-word answer, you should know 2 of the 3 words, so all you have to do is find the last word that hasn't been used, then put them in an order that makes sense.

Of course, with a simple game come simple points. While I find this one relatively quick to get thru -- usually -- I find it hard trying to build up the points with this one.

Crosswire 0.06.009

Synopsis: This is basically the matching test you had in grade school. You're given two sets of 9 words and your job is to determine which words on the left match the ones on the right. You must do this with three sets of words, the third of which throws in a kink: one word on each side does not have a match. Be careful here because if you match to/from either of these words, all your matches will be cleared.

Playtime / Points Earned: 10-25m / 20 pts

This one is pretty simple, when you break it down. The most annoying part is if you end up getting the last set cleared for choosing the wong answer. Then again, if you do that, you get to see which two are the bad answers and you'll know which to avoid, so in the end, it's not a huge deal. Usually, you'll be able to figure out the answers you forgot in a minute or two, where it probably took you about 5 minutes to get that far. All-in-all, this is a worthwhile game. I think most will enjoy it, but there's not a whole lot of thought that needs to go into it. I will say this is one where searching can make or break the game. There will definitely be things you won't know without searching for them. Luckily, it's usually fairly easy to search for these answers by using boolean (AND/OR) searches.

Dingbats 1.00.034

Synopsis: This game is a trimmed back version of Wheel of Fortune. You have three phrases you have to guess and hints to go along with each. The name of the game relates to the characters used in place of vowels -- Dingbats is a font. You can guess 10 consonants, but can only get vowels after guessing a phrase correctly, in which case you can uncover 1 of 5 dingbats. Of course, the vowel these dingbats represent change from game-to-game.

Playtime / Points Earned: 5-10m / 3 pts

The first thing I'd suggest is to do a quick search to find out what one of the thee phrases are before picking off letters. Sometimes, it's possible to guess a phrase or two without picking letters. This can be good because you may need those letter guesses later. Also note that the phrases are typically related in one way or another. Some relations have been more obvious than others, but from what I've seen, they have all related back to each other. This can also help when trying to guess a tricky phrase.

While I think Dingbats is a fun and easy game, it's just not worth the 3 points you get for it. If it were 10 points, I'd think about it a little harder, but this one just isn't the point-earner I'd like it to be.

Flexicon 1.10.056

Synopsis: Essentially, Flexicon is a layered crossword puzzle. You have 4 mini crossword puzzles that are linked together by one long word. Your job, as with any crossword puzzle, is to fill in the blanks. Go figure.

Playtime / Points Earned: 15-25m / 25 pts

I like crossword puzzles, so I'm automatically going to gravitate towards this one. The one thing that annoys me the most is how much the focus jumps around as you move your mouse around. Every time you mouse over a hint, the coresponding row/column is highlighted. While this seems like a nice feature, if you're simply moving the mouse to search on something, it's annoying. Maybe it's just me, tho. I do like the fact that you can do just about everything from the keyboard, which makes for faster game play. The only things you're missing is the ability to submit a row/column and the ability to switch between the puzzle and the search pane.

Speaking of search, this is another game that works well with search. You don't always have enough information to make the search productive, but you should be good for about 2/3 of the hints.

Red Carpet Reveal

Synopsis: You're given 5 questions to answer, each revolving around one person who you will have to name at the end of the round.

Playtime / Points Earned: 5-10m / 10 pts

This is my least favorite game, by far. That doesn't mean the game is bad, tho. I just don't like it because it's not my kind of game. It's all about celebrities, which I could care less about. So, if you're into celebs, this might be right up your alley. The game is pretty easy, tho. Search works well for it because you have everything you need to find the answers you're looking for. And, if you think you might be worried about figuring out who the questions all relate to, let me just say that it's usually obvious after the first two questions. If you're searching for answers, you'll notice a name pop up over and over.

Seekadoo 0.04.019

Synopsis: Here's another traditional game: a basic word search. You're given a subject and you have to find 15 words. The only problem: you don't know the words.

Playtime / Points Earned: 5-25m / 15 pts

As simple and fun as word searches might be, this one sucks. With every word you find, the background color of the selected letters changes. I'm not exactly sure why it is, but this just makes it hard to read or something. In the end, the letters that are left unshaded spell something out, but that doesn't help you any when trying to find words. Speaking of not helping, search is absolutely pointless here. Unless I'm missing something, the hint you get for the puzzle is not going to help you narrow down you choices. Admittedly, the hints you can get thru search will help, but in the end, I just feel like search is wasted here.


Apple Scrutinized Over [In]Security

By Michael Flanakin @ 11:41 AM :: 1945 Views :: Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!

Finally! It's about time Apple's security gets some true scrutiny. Of course, this is only the beginning. The first sign of the Apple security apocalypse could probably be considered the fact that, as of May 2007, Apple has released five sets of security patches for Mac OS X Mobile-ready link -- three with patch counts in the double-digits and a grand total of over 100 security holes patched in 5 months. Sure, it sounds like a good accomplishment, but the problem is the fact that there were that many holes to begin with. How secure does that sound?

The next sign is the one that I'm very glad to see, which I think will bring more doubt Apple's way... Within hours of releasing Safari Mobile-ready link for Windows, Apple's web browser, the security community came alive with reports of vulnerabilities (1 Mobile-ready link, 2 Mobile-ready link, 3 Mobile-ready link). And no, these weren't Windows vulnerabilities. Beyond that, don't let the "beta" moniker fool you. Most of these vulnerabilities are true to the existing Safari release on Mac OS X, as well. And we can't forget to mention the claim that, "Apple engineers designed Safari to be secure from day one." Let's ponder that for a second... Some of my favorite quotes include: "These [vulnerabilities] are popping out like hotcakes" and "...which rock did Safari developers hide under for the past 8 years or so?" That latter remark was made about a vulnerability which has been known since 1997, to give you a frame of reference for the quality of the security that was "designed since day one." Luckily, Apple was pretty quick to fix these vulnerabilities -- supposedly fixing in days what usually takes them weeks or months to fix. However, despite their best efforts to plug the leaks, their newly "secured" release came with its own set of holes Mobile-ready link. When will it stop? Perhaps Apple's engineers should take a course at Microsoft on the Security Development Lifecycle Mobile-ready link (book Mobile-ready link).

Perhaps the highlight of my day is when I listened to Mac Break Weekly Mobile-ready link Syndicated feed episode 45 Mobile-ready link when Leo Laporte said, "you're now in a Windows environment and all the hackers are looking at you," and, "maybe [the] people [who] have been saying Apple is secure by obscurity might be right." Exactly! This is what I've always said, so it's nice to see someone who is perhaps from the other side acknowledge it -- actually, Leo is pretty good at playing the line. The truth of the matter is that the tools security researchers to find these vulnerabilities are built for Windows, not Mac OS X. So, of course nobody's going to find the vulnerabilities until they cross that road over into the Windows world. This just makes me curious as to whether hackers will shift focus to Mac OS X since the security veil has been lifted. I have to say I think Apple is most likely ripe for the picking. I'm not saying Mac OS X users are wide-open, I'm just saying they have a false sense of security and it's about time that's come to light. What was really funny about the MBW episode was that just about everyone shut up when Leo started talking. I couldn't help but smile at that.

The only thing left to mention is that this is more fuel for Dino Dai Zovi's fire Mobile-ready link: "I have found...security to be much better overall in Vista than Mac OS X 10.4." He's not the only one, tho. It looks like David Maynor Mobile-ready link is saying the same thing Mobile-ready link: "Windows Vista is more secure than Mac OS X 10.4.8." Perhaps the best part is the follow-on sentence, "Anybody that tells you anything different should immediately be treated with the same disdain as finding a parking ticket on your car." To put it another way, he later states, "[Mac OS X] is definitely NOT as fundamentally secure as Vista." David also mentioned another quote, but I'm not sure if it's his or someone else's...

Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine.

With all that said, I do have to say that I'm not cheering on flailing security. I merely think Mac OS X users need to be aware of the fact that they aren't as secure as they think they are. Yes, Mac OS X users are less likely to get viruses and what not, but that's merely because of the fact that there are more Windows users, so Windows is more "profitable" to attack. Hell, I'd even say the same about Linux. I'm not saying that Linux is insecure, but it's not getting the same attention Windows gets, so I just don't think it's easy to compare each system's security. Too many people make blanket statements they can't justify.


Windows Live Mail Sync Error (80AA4193)

By Michael Flanakin @ 9:29 AM :: 1760 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

Apparently, WL Hotmail does a check every so often to make sure you're human. I think this is something new that started in the past month, because I've been prompted online and when using WL Mail (formerly known as WL Mail desktop). Actually, the latter situation is exactly the problem I ran into.

Symptoms

When using Windows Live Mail (formerly known as WL Mail desktop), you receive an error message that is similar to the following when you synchronize (send/receive) accounts:

The message could not be sent. Subject: '<message subject>', Protocol: HTTPMail, Server Response: 'There is an error synchronizing your mail account. Please verify your account has been configured correctly by first accessing your mail on the web.', Port: 0, Secure(SSL): No, Server Error: 0x80AA4193, Error Number: 0x80AA4193

Cause

WL Hotmail added checks to validate that you're a human. The error message is essentially letting you know that Hotmail won't allow you to send email until you verify you're human. You can, however, receive email.

Resolution

As the error message claims, you need to login to your email server on the web. Unfortunately, what isn't specified is that you have to login to hotmail.com and not mail.live.com. Most people will never run into this because I believe most people are old Hotmail users that login via the hotmail.com website. If you don't, tho, you'll have to do it at least once to get past this issue.

Edit: I just found out that upgrading to the newer release of WL Mail should also fix the problem. Obviously, this is the recommended long-term fix. I won't get into the details of it, but the new version is supposed to allow you to verify you're a human without having to login to the website and, additionally, requires these checks less due to improved logic.

More Information

  • Applies to: Windows Live Mail v8.0.1226

New Hotmail Commercials

By Michael Flanakin @ 9:09 AM :: 1506 Views :: Technology, Other :: Digg it!

I'm not completely sure when this came out, but there are some new commercials for Windows Live Hotmail. Of the four available online, the first two are the best. I think you might be surprised about 'em.

Suspicious Male

Hot Male


Programmer Personality

By Michael Flanakin @ 4:19 AM :: 1332 Views :: Development, Other :: Digg it!

I'm such a sucker for these personality type tests. After seeing Chris SellsMobile-ready link Syndicated feed post on his programmer personality type Mobile-ready link, I had to give it a spin...

Your programmer personality type Mobile-ready link is:
   DHSB

You're a Doer.
You are very quick at getting tasks done. You believe the outcome is the most important part of a task and the faster you can reach that outcome the better. After all, time is money.

You like coding at a High level.
The world is made up of objects and components, you should create your programs in the same way.

You work best in a Solo situation.
The best way to program is by yourself. There's no communication problems, you know every part of the code allowing you to write the best programs possible.

You are a liBeral programmer.
Programming is a complex task and you should use white space and comments as freely as possible to help simplify the task. We're not writing on paper anymore so we can take up as much room as we need.

Of course, with every one of these tests, I always want to have another option. They never truly give you enough answers. Then again, nobody ever said they were scientific.


Microsoft and Open Source

By Michael Flanakin @ 12:15 PM :: 1094 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!
As a part of my never-ending backlog of interesting posts I've saved off, I finally took the time to read Jon Galloway's Mobile-ready link Syndicated feed post regarding Microsoft and open source, Why Microsoft Can't Ship Open Source Code Mobile-ready link. I have to say I whole-heartedly agree with Jon's position. As nice as it would be to dump some of the disregarded apps included in Windows (i.e. Notepad and Paint) for their open source counterparts (i.e. Notepad2 and Paint.NET), it's just not feasible for Microsoft. I can't blame them at all. If you've ever wondered why Microsoft doesn't include open source software in Windows, this is a great place to start. I imagine there's more to the story than this, but the position Jon explains is very logical. Well-put, Jon.

Adobe Talks About Flex[ibility]

By Michael Flanakin @ 4:36 PM :: 1623 Views :: Technology, Predictions :: Digg it!

SD Times Mobile-ready link had a recent article discussing Adobe Flex Mobile-ready link and the recent announcement that it'll be available under the open source, Mozilla Public License (MPL). The article was less than informative, but I found the last paragraph somewhat interesting. Adobe spokesperson, Jeff Whatcott, vice president of product marketing, took what jabs he could against Microsoft regarding the recently anounced Silverlight Mobile-ready link product. Apparently, Whatcott claims he's "puzzled by Microsoft." I don't buy it. If Adobe doesn't see the possibilities with Silverlight, they have no chance. I do wonder how well Adobe will be able to compete in the long run, tho. As I see it, Adobe has three major products: Photoshop, Flash, and Acrobat. Then again, it's not really Acrobat, it's the PDF document format. Either way, Adobe has built itself around these products and hasn't done a whole lot to maintain that. Adobe's been lucky to have had enough of a lead to keep its head above the water, but this isn't the first time a market-leader has led with a lack-luster product. Hell, look at IBM Rational and their Rose tool. Honestly, if you ask me, Adobe isn't very good at software. Outside of the Macromedia tools, Adobe doesn't have what I'd consider quality tools -- they're slow, bloated, and less than user-friendly. It's only a matter of time before they become obsolete. I'm not saying it'll be Microsoft or that Microsoft "get's it," because I think there's a long way to go. On the other hand, I believe Microsoft has a decent chance. Now, if only they'd perform at their peak. 

Whatcott continued by saying, "[Microsoft is] doing what they need to do to have a story in the marketplace." I thought this was funny. He obviously is trying to insinuate that Microsoft doesn't have a chance and is only giving Silverlight a shot to roll the dice. I have to say that this is definitely not the case. I see Silverlight as a serious competitor to Flash. True, Microsoft is quick to state that Silverlight isn't a "Flash killer;" but think about it, they're simply staying away from that because they know Silverlight isn't quite there yet -- heck, it hasn't even been released. Let's face it, how cocky would it be to say, "We have Flash++ right here." That's just not a smart move. That'd be just as moronic as the "unbreakable" campaign Oracle ran for a while Mobile-ready link (see also: Oracle Unbreakable No More? Mobile-ready link) or the funny ad I saw for Sun Solaris stating that it was the most complicated operating system available -- seriously, does that make you want to buy it? There's a long road to go for this interactive media game and my money's on Microsoft... literally. I think Microsoft has the superior solution, roadmap, and game plan. Adobe has the marketshare, but that's fairly volatile. I expect to see Silverlight on most people's computers within two years of its release, if not one. As-is, Flash is rarely used for truly interactive content. Macromedia never really pushed it enough to squeeze out its potential and now, with Silverlight integrated into the client and server -- especially with .NET -- Flash's time is limited. Flex is merely a gasp for air. Ok, maybe it's not quite that dire, but the future will definitely be interesting and I think Microsoft has the upperhand... even tho it's starting from the bottom. Heck, Adobe is grasping for straws with comments like, "[Microsoft is] simply trying to drive more people to Windows," and, "We're not about any particular operating system." First off, Silverlight is being released for multiple browsers on multiple platforms with plans to expand that fairly quickly to mobile devices. That's only the start. So tell me, what does that have to do with Windows? Absolutely nothing. Nothing about Silverlight requires Windows. You can create your Silverlight apps in vi, host them on Unix, and view them on a Mac. Where is Windows there? Whatcott's follow-on comment is even funnier. No, Adobe's not about any particular operating system because it's not an OS company. Whatcott is throwing out comments that have nothing to do with the discussion to gain favor of the anti-Microsoft zealots and make it seem like Microsoft is all about the almighty dollar. Believe it or not, there's a bigger picture and Microsoft sees and pushes towards that more than any other software company in the world. Just look at how much money Microsoft puts into research and development. What has Adobe done to progress the industry?


What's New in Office and SharePoint 2007 Integration

By Michael Flanakin @ 7:16 PM :: 1063 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

For anyone wanting to know how the integration story has changed between Office and SharePoint in the latest release, Microsoft has put it all together in a single, 32-page document. At a high level, the document covers what users should expect to see when using Office 2000, XP, and 2003; differences between Office 2003 and 2007; features not available in Office 2007 Standard; and, finally, differences between FrontPage 2003 and SharePoint Designer 2007. The next section talks about content management, Excel services, e-forms, as well as more details on the integration between Outlook, Access, and Groove. If you're looking for break-down of what's new with respect to SharePoint from a client perspective, this should be the first place you go.


Microsoft Surface

By Michael Flanakin @ 9:45 AM :: 1958 Views :: Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!

A few days ago, Microsoft announced something that's been in the works for over a year, Surface. In its bare essentials, this is basically a touch-screen display on a table. Of course, there's a lot more to it than that. With a multi-touch display that can recognize items placed on it, the possibilities are tremendous. There's always room to grow, tho. And, with a hefty price tag of $5-10,000, don't expect to see this in any of your friends' homes any time soon. Most attribute this to a step in the direction of the interactive computer display used in the Minority Report movie. You should check it out at the official Microsoft Surface website (linked above). There are three short videos that'll summarize it for you pretty succinctly. If, on the other hand, you want more encompassing coverage, check out this video. There are a ton of pictures and videos strewn throughout the web, so if you want to see more, there's plenty to find. There are about half-a-dozen apps in the Channel 10 video and each are interesting in their own way. A few are simplistic, but there are some which could revolutionize how we live our day-to-day lives. Then again, that price tag comes into play here, so we'll have to wait a bit until we start to see some real apps out in the wild.


IE7Pro, Now With Inline Search

By Michael Flanakin @ 7:12 PM :: 1593 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!
My tools list Mobile-ready link just got a little shorter, now that IE7Pro Mobile-ready link comes with inline search built-in. If that isn't enough, it also comes with its own spell-checker. I discovered this add-on a while ago and it seems to have continually gotten better and better. I'm very happy with it. If you haven't seen it, I'd suggest you definitely check it out. My only complaint is around some of the defaults. For instance, by default, IE7Pro opens a new tab from the address bar and search box. This is a pointless feature, if you ask me because IE7 comes with that built-in -- simply press Alt+Enter. Opening a new tab from a favorite is just as pointless, seeing as tho there's an arrow that does this exact same thing. I don't mind having these features, if people really see a need for them; just don't make them defaults. Either way, I still enjoy the add-on. Give it a shot, if you're looking for a good add-on. There are plenty of features there, so I'm sure you'll find something you think is interesting.

MSDN Subscription: June 2007

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:25 AM :: 1048 Views :: MSDN Subscriptions :: Digg it!

MSDN

The following consists of the English DVD updates released under the MSDN Premium (Team Suite) subscription level for June 2007.

Applications

  • Disc 3099.1 / Part X13-74336
    • Virtual PC for Mac 7.0.2 (English, French, German, Japanese)
    • Virtual PC for Mac 7.0.2 (Swedish)
    • Microsoft Virtual PC 2007
    • Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 (x64) (English, Multilanguage)

For more information, see the MSDN Subscriptions Index.