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Advanced Windows Jon honeyball

How good is IE9?
noW thAt exploReR 9 hAs finAlly come out in Adult foRm, jon honeyball finds much to like, but could do With A bit of pRivAcy noW And AgAin
platform, and here are the tools to write some rich, IE6-specific applications. Once IE6 support was dropped from subsequent browser versions, these wretched customers found themselves abandoned up a dank and dreary cul de sac. Of course, IE9 will not run on Windows XP – that would be too helpful of the IE team, whose number one priority is to winkle customers away from XP as fast as possible. Customers who don’t upgrade aren’t spending money on new licences, and a powerful lever to pry them away from XP is to ensure that IE9 doesn’t work on it. Job done, the team delivered faultlessly, and never mind that other companies – Google, Mozilla and Opera – have shipped browsers that work just fine on XP. There’s much to like in IE9. At first I liked its clean, minimalist design, but I’m an old-fashioned stick-in-the-mud when it comes to user interface design, and if there isn’t a proper File | Edit | Insert menu bar I start to feel a little twitchy. Doubtless this is just a symptom of advancing age, but I feel that hiding everything useful behind a gear-cog symbol is a little Web 2.0, and it just doesn’t feel right. I like the integrated searching within one edit box, even if the default engine is, predictably, Bing. I find the visuals of the edit box alongside the tabs annoying, first because there isn’t enough visual distinction between the edit box and a tab, and second because the edit box takes up valuable column width that could be used for more tabs. The alternative would have been to devote one row to the edit box and another to the tabs, but I guess that would have spoilt the stripped-bare look and feel (although it is an option). Under the bonnet, IE9 definitely has a quick browsing engine, but that depends upon your using the right version. You see, there are two: the 32-bit and the 64-bit versions. If you have 32-bit Windows, then you’ll only get the 32-bit version, of course, but 64-bit Windows comes with both. You might think that sounds sensible, until you realise that the default version is the 32-bit one on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows, and you have to dig deep to find the 64-bit version on 64-bit Windows.

M

icrosoft’s latest web browser release, Internet Explorer 9, has emerged from the shadows after a rather public gestation period. I don’t really mind public betas so long as their function is to ensure the quality of the final product, but public betas that exist solely to be part of the marketing ramp tend to be rather unpleasant affairs (especially when the PR people are crowing about how many millions of people have downloaded the damnable thing). When all is said and done, if it’s good enough to release then bloody well release it; if it isn’t then don’t inflict it on millions of your most enthusiastic users. There’s no doubting that IE9 is an awful lot better than some of its predecessors, but that’s a comparison that doesn’t set the bar astronomically high, given that there are low points such as IE6 in the equation. There are still hundreds of businesses that are stuck with Windows XP because they need IE6. Why are they stuck with IE6? Because they were foolish enough to believe Microsoft when it told them that this was a great development

IE9 is a rather bare-bones browser, here showing our new sister site cloudpro.co.uk.

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Contents
Advanced Windows Advanced Office
Jon Honeyball digs deep into Internet Explorer 9’s privacy settings

Web Applications

Kevin Partner shares the lessons learnt from the closure of his online business

126 129 132

Open Source Networks

Simon Brock uncovers the pick of the open-source eBook authoring tools

135 138 141

120 123

Online Security Digital Design

Sending bank details by email is a risky practice, warns Davey Winder

Steve Cassidy clears up some commonly held networking myths

Simon Jones examines the future of the Document Foundation and LibreOffice

Tom Arah returns with an examination of Adobe’s Flash-to-HTML converter

Server Room

Jon Honeyball beomans buggy security software reporting false-positives

Why has this happened? Well, there’s a perfectly sensible excuse – by focusing on the 32-bit version, the IE9 team was able to make it the best one possible, with the 64-bit version coming second. I could just about handle this grimly realistic attitude, were it not for a couple of key points. First, 64-bit Windows 7 is the predominant version that’s shipping today, if the laptops that I see being bought and deployed are anything to go by; and second, the 64-bit version of Windows 7 has the old JavaScript engine in it, which is far slower than the 32-bit version, so Microsoft prefers to hide it from public view. I can understand the pragmatism of this decision, but it still grates. We need to move over to 64-bit across the board, and we’ll only have a strong 64-bit experience if people push the platform hard in a fully 64-bit way. I accept that there are few web pages that require 2GB of RAM, but if the reality is that 64-bit IE9 is to be left as the runt of the litter, then Microsoft shouldn’t install it by default. Make it an optional download or installer, and make it clear that it isn’t as good/fast/optimised/tested as the 32-bit version. Call it a developer 64-bit pre-release version of IE9 or whatever, but sticking it on every 64-bit machine and then hiding it away just irritates me enormously.

Privacy issues
I’d quite like IE9 to offer the InPrivate browsing facility as a default option. With InPrivate you can set the browser so that it records nothing about your browsing session: no history, no cache of files, no record of clicks, no cookies and so forth. You can’t make this the default mode (at least, not from the browser UI), which is rather disappointing. I’ll have to have a poke around the Group Policy tools to see if I can force it from there. You might wonder why I’d like this mode turned on by default? Well, I have a particular hatred of the way some sites insist on tracking what I’m doing, and an even bigger hatred of the way that advertising engines use cookies to target me. Using InPrivate browsing mode as the default would automatically ensure that this doesn’t happen, but Microsoft won’t allow it. That takes me onto the subject of Tracking Protection Lists (TPLs), a new technology in IE9 that allows you to control the way that third-party websites track what you’re doing. If you go to Contoso.com and look at some items, it might be that advertising.com links are embedded within the Contoso.com website, and advertising.com stores cookies on your machine logging what you were browsing. Now move over to happyclappy.com, which is an entirely different site, but also uses advertising.com advert management – those advertising.com links from happyclappy. com can see what you’ve been looking at while on other sites that use its engine, and so can present you with targeted
The developer and debug facilities in IE9 are the high point of the browser.

jON HONEyBAll Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications. Email jhoneyball@woodley side.co.uk or read his blog at www.pcpro. co.uk/blogs/ jonhoneyball

suggestions and adverts. Naturally, the advertising industry thinks this is a really cool, whizzo feature that’s a benefit to all of us (but especially the advertising industry, because a targeted advert can attract a higher click-through price than an anonymous item). Advertising people really want this sort of behavioural analysis to work in their favour, and naturally claim that it’s for our good too, because we’ll no longer be bothered by pesky adverts that aren’t relevant to our areas of interest. What’s more, we won’t see the same advert several times over, because they “know” what we’ve seen already. If all this sounds like a desperate attempt to justify a borderlineimmoral business model, then you could possibly be right. The problem here is that no user has been asked whether they want to sign up for this sort of tracking – it just happens whether you want it or not – hence the big interest in expelling these cookies and wresting back control from the advertising industry. TPLs are a way of doing just that, so at first glance they’re clearly a good thing, but dear reader you’d be quite correct if you guessed that there’s a big “however” lurking around the corner. To explain this downside, let’s look at how TPLs work. Each one is a simple text file, which you can view and edit using any text editor you like. A TPL is usually hosted on a web server, and the page it’s referenced from will usually have a button that fires off some JavaScript to install and activate the TPL into

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Real World Computing Advanced Windows

your E9 installation. Within the TPL is an instruction that says where the TPL came from and how long it’s valid for, and when this times out, IE9 automatically goes and retrieves an updated copy. Now, on to the body of the TPL. You might expect that a TPL is basically an exclusion list of third-party domain names that should be blocked whenever you visit a primary site. In other words, when I visit Contoso.com, I want the third-party site items to be disabled – if one of those “deny” items is analytics.microsoft.com for example, I want that blocked. However, when I go to analytics.microsoft.com itself, the blocking shouldn’t happen because analytics.microsoft.com is now the primary site for the page. Clearly, a well-designed blocking list will help by nuking all references to advertising, tracking and analysis sites, and will help keep my browsing private to me.

ie9
Another great debugging feature in IE9 enables you to swap between various rendering engines. Even better, you can see how well a page would look in IE7, IE8, IE9 or “IE9 Compatibility View”.

allow and deny
However, there’s a problem here. In the hierarchy of permissions that you can apply in a TPL, “allow” beats “deny”. When I read this in Microsoft’s documentation, I confess that I did a double-take. Since when does “allow” ever trump “deny”? The whole principle of security rests on a clear understanding that no matter how many things you “allow”, a single “deny” is enough to prevent access to them. But no, in IE9 TPLs, allow beats deny, so if you have a deny of analytics. microsoft.com in one TPL and an allow of Microsoft.com elsewhere, the allow will win. On the Microsoft site that deals with IE9 and TPLs, there are five TPL download links. You can, of course, download multiple TPLs, and IE9 concatenates them together, on the basis that you might choose two TPLs from two trusted sources. Now take a look at the TPL from TRUSTe, which is linked from the Microsoft site. This appears to be an organisation that certifies advertising organisations as being well-behaved, which is why its TPL has a very large number of “allows” within it. But combine this TRUSTe TPL with a blocking one, and because “allow” beats “deny”, you may well find more personal tracking happening than you’re happy with. I’m not at all happy with the way that IE9 handles TPLs. The UI is basic, and certainly doesn’t give enough explanation to the user about what’s going on. Suggesting that several TPLs might be a good thing isn’t helpful either, because there will be the obvious temptation to believe that “if three are good, then ten are better”. This might carry some weight if this was a deny-only feature, but when the implementation puts allow ahead of deny, multiple TPLs could be highly counterproductive. Frankly, I’d prefer a simple pair of checkboxes in the IE9 user interface, called “enable deny” and “enable allow”, along with a pair of radio buttons called “deny beats allow” and “allow beats deny”. Then it would be clear what’s going to happen. It’s unreasonable to expect users to go digging through the TPL files to work out what’s happening, and even more unreasonable to imply that several TPLs might be a good idea when one can override all the others. This goes to the heart of the question: “Who do you trust, and why?”

The problem is that users want simple solutions they can set and forget. This is, after all, 2011. Unfortunately, few people appear to have clean hands in this area. Microsoft itself recently tweeted that “at Microsoft today we do 3B+ in ad revenue. It is the most rapidly growing part of our business.” Is it any surprise, then, that Microsoft’s implementation of TPLs puts “allow” before “deny”, or that one of its linked lists puts a blanket “allow” on Microsoft.com? After all, you wouldn’t want to jeopardise a $3bn per year revenue stream, would you? Hearing this $3bn claim left a sour taste in my mouth with regard to the whole TPL issue in IE9. To finish on a somewhat more upbeat mood, there are some useful tools in IE9 that are worth checking out. I particularly like the F12 Developer Tools, which you can find under the Gear menu. Another window opens up at the bottom of the browser and immediately I feel at home – yes, there’s a traditional menu bar! Now try clicking on the Network tab, hit the Start Capturing button, then visit a few websites. Everything that loads gets detailed, including a superb graphical view of how long each item took to load. You can click through each item in turn and it will even display what the content was. This is a big step forward for web browser debugging, and for helping users who care about this to see what’s loading on the page.

font rendering
Just a quickie to end on this month. The intersection of art and science, or analog and digital, arguably reaches its pinnacle with typography. This much-overlooked topic is crucially important to what we see onscreen, and to how things print. Today, it’s trivially easy to choose a font and type style, but in the past, before the days of TrueType from Microsoft and Adobe Type Manager, we had to build all those screen and printer fonts by hand. Installing them as soft fonts into a laser printer was like an exercise in brain surgery. Tucked away in a dusty corner of a building at Redmond is the Microsoft Typography department, whose work is rarely discussed, but here’s something I found out: Office 2010 (and 2011 for Mac) supports much enhanced typography if you know where to look. Try the new Gabriola font, and dive into the advanced typography facilities in Word | Font | Advanced | Ligatures and Stylistic Sets. Check out the document at www.pcpro.co.uk/links/201aw1 and the excellent video at www.pcpro.co.uk/links/201aw2. If you want the best control, look at Microsoft Publisher 2010, which offers live previews of the stylistic sets. I once rather stupidly used Publisher to make a website – the output was hilariously horrible and I’ve been put off it ever since. The 2010 edition raises the typographical stakes, and this is to be applauded. I’ve always loved typography – the merging of vector splines with the fine art of best placing text by eye, and introducing both into the digital world of rendering and printing. When next I visit Microsoft, I want to track down this team, whose work is sorely undervalued by being reduced to a tickbox on the ninth page of the features list for Word. They deserve better than this. Take a look at Gabriola and these other high-end fonts that Microsoft has built or commissioned, and take the opportunity to look at typography with fresh eyes.

Enhanced typography, including Stylistic Sets, is present in Office 2010 and 2011.

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this laptop – a Studio XPS – suddenly decided not to play ball. Twenty years ago. This device is “unknown” but apparently “working It happens to be a Dell. much of this rot is self-inflicted. had fallen off a cliff in terms of performance and stability. Our office automation operating systems should no longer implode. This has helped to weed out the dodgy driver vendors. client/server and systems settings and so forth. That takes hours. Unfortunately. aren’t well written. I could hear that familiar “dum dim” sound as plug-and-play found the device. Worse still. it’s the only way to be sure” (to quote from Alien). email Windows has a poor reputation for being something that jhoneyball@woodley requires six-monthly reinstalls because it “rots”. appears to be more robust in the face of this “six months rot”. which requires the use of 64-bit drivers. The problem first reared its head when the laptop stopped recognising USB memory sticks. which has effectively minimised the rot. as I advance in years I find myself less willing to “nuke it from orbit. it doesn’t make sense to me either. 120 PC PRO june 2011 www. although it does force you to download each one. it’s just a bore.co.uk . particularly device drivers.uk or read his chronic problems accumulate and make the system behave blog at www. and this is especially true of Windows 7 64-bit. Today.uk/blogs/ less solidly. in other words. none of them registered with the operating system. co. I saw it as a Computer journalist and consultant challenge: by trying to dig through whatever had befallen specialising in both Windows I learned a huge amount about its configuration. and you don’t feel particularly full afterwards. it cAn be impossible to cleAR. simply to keep the network browsing performance under control. and if I want to transfer a few files to a laptop then using a USB stick is just as quick. Inserting a USB drive into a laptop may be a simple operation. It was therefore especially galling to discover that a six-month-old laptop of mine. I try to keep a minimum number of machines attached to my main network in the office. in a ritual not unlike choosing individual pieces of sushi at a restaurant.pcpro.pcpro. applications.co. A lot of jonhoneyball Windows applications. However. running Windows 7 64-bit. which results in a worse temper. friends will attest that I’m like a bear with a sore head when confronted with a glitchy computer. It didn’t matter which USB stick I used. however. side. Jon Honeyball tHougHt WindoWs 7 64-bit WAs diffeRent – HoW WRong He WAs I hate it when things don’t work properly. but I’m not properly”. convinced this is part of the problem since Dell has a pretty good reputation for providing up-to-date drivers on its website. Admittedly. No. I have to be sure that I’ve explored every avenue to fix the damn thing before I’ll give up. but if Windows won’t recognise the device it can be a nightmare to fix. Add a pile of dodgy apps and a smattering of drivers to a clean Windows installation. and it isn’t difficult to see how things start to go wrong. piece by piece. Whether that’s Microsoft’s fault isn’t really the point. more grey hair and the consumption jOn HOneYBALL of a large gin and tonic. Windows 7. but nothing was mounted as a file system. pressure of work got in the way at that point and I didn’t have time to follow up the problem for some weeks.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball Stopping the rot once tHe Rot sets into WindoWs.

most notably remote controls. so I dived into the Event log. and inside that I chose the Disk Management tool. You may not have noticed them. under “consumer IR devices”.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office When a trip to the pub doesn’t solve a problem. where I met up with friends. There was only one thing left to do: go to the pub. despite the fact that my laptop has only one fitted. which would remove the duff entries. I tucked the laptop under my arm and set off for my local establishment. it lists several versions of its Wi-Fi card as being present. It definitely isn’t a good thing when you find multiple entries listed as “unknown device” under “other devices”. clicking on each device didn’t really help. I tried right-clicking on it and choosing “Change Drive Letters and Paths”. inform you that this particular hardware is missing. which allows you to use a handheld remote control unit. but that didn’t help. open the pod bay doors.co. when you attempt to install them. The first of these USB HIDs had one “unknown device” attached. One thing I like about Dell’s site is that you can enter the unique build number for your device and it should tell you what you need to know. Unfortunately. while What can you do when presented with a list of unknown devices such as this? Microsoft Fix it wasn’t much help: the problem was “not fixed”. on choosing this option Windows threw up an error message: “The operation failed to complete because the Disk Management console view is not up-to-date. it would need to be given one. However. Refresh the view by using the refresh task.” None of which was relevant in this particular case. as their drivers told me that one item was an HID_DEVICE_SYSTEM_ MOUSE. The first thing to do was to see if Windows Update knew about any new drivers. but it had no drive letter. but there are several ways of viewing hardware devices in Device Manager. says Davey Winder Why cloud computing isn’t ready to take over the world just yet The spawn of the devil returns to torment Simon Jones Mobile & Wireless Paul Ockenden hunts for the ideal satellite phone and Wi-Fi router Server Room Misleading language in sales pitches has brought out the cynic in us When the moment to investigate arrived I dived into Device Manager and discovered the Windows equivalent of a multi-car pile-up.uk june 2011 PC PRO 121 . another was an HID_DEVICE_SYSTEM_CONSUMER (whatever that is) and so on and so forth. It’s still better than the “screw you” approach taken by many other vendors. but since this was Cambridgeshire we called it ITTU6SP1. a “service pack” refreshing session to be applied to the last major event in www. yet it still “succeeded”? HAL.pcpro. which immediately revealed one part of my problem. that’s the theory. At least. It was at this point that I came to a grinding halt: I could disable the whole HID device tree. then restart Disk Management or restart the computer. which had a total of nine “unknown device” entries. The Windows HID system is designed to allow a range of devices to be connected to control applications. but that didn’t help much either. It showed an Intel ICH9 Family USB Universal Host Controller with a child item of “Generic USB hub”. was a child called “Microsoft eHome infrared transceiver”. the problem still hadn’t shifted so I moved to Windows Fix it. My 64GB USB stick was present and correct. The next step was to fire up the Computer Management tool under Control Panel | Administrative Tools. which insist that you waste whole lifetimes trying to dig up the right drivers from their opaque websites. Dell has become lazy with implementing this valuable service and now cheerfully lists drivers that. Some had VID_ and PID_ entries. We were having an evening imbibing session loosely related to the #ITTU (IT Twitter Users) meetings we hold in London. So I went to the Dell website and downloaded every driver it had for that laptop model. Since then it appears to have grown to cover all sorts of devices. My USB sticks still weren’t working. but that wasn’t solving the problem. almost certainly because something in this USB driver stack was causing the devices to fail to initialise or mount properly. connected to which were three devices: a Dell Wireless 370 Bluetooth mini-card and two USB human interface devices (HIDs). hence the reference to the eHome infrared transceiver. on the grounds that if Windows didn’t think there was a drive letter. and if I remember rightly it first came about to support much-needed peripheral devices for disabled users. That wasn’t much help either. you know you’re in trouble Web Applications What happens when a cloud-hosted website is hit by a DDoS attack? 126 129 132 Open Source Networks Find simple ways to write apps across multiple platforms 135 138 141 120 123 Online Security Securing thumb drives isn’t rocket science. It was time to get down and dirty. please! the other had two. For example. Further digging revealed that my problem was definitely to do with HIDs. After installing every driver I could find from Dell (with a few of them falling over) and popping in a BIOS update. Then. This did nothing. It can be useful to go into the View menu and select “Devices by connection” rather than the default of “Devices by type”. which promises to solve common problems with the OS. If the problem persists close the Disk Management console. merely sweeping it under the virtual carpet.

so his laptop switches from running a single Windows 7 desktop to an entire farm of virtualised servers. Maybe you have an existing VHD you want to use? Maybe you’ve set up an OS under Hyper-V on a server. You then need to copy the existing entry and modify it so that it points to your chosen VHD file. or ever had been attached – probably even those I might have thought about attaching – to my Dell laptop. so we dived into the Registry and looked at the area where Windows caches information about recently inserted USB devices (which it does to remember which drive letters were assigned to which sticks). I’ve tried everything from deleting the devices to forcing a plug-and-play rescan. or keep a set of history changes over time. Wow. However. so he can then boot more servers from their own VHDs. Ensure that you’ve chosen the right disk. The USBDeview utility showed me all the devices that were attached. so I chose all the mass storage items and then hit the uninstall button. I handed my laptop around and asked for thoughts. what a tool! I could sort the results by device type. what was previously a single entry of Windows Boot Manager followed by one of Windows Boot Loader will now become one Windows Boot Manager and two Windows Boot Loader sections. which you’ll need to run as administrator. The obvious thing to do was delete some of these entries and see whether flushing out all this old data would allow Windows to relearn my own drive’s letters. held within the big daddy VHD itself. I’m coming to like this idea a lot. Clearly something odd was afoot. My PowerShell wizard friend. It’s still far too easy to break. Even I was surprised by the enormously long list of devices that had been inserted into this laptop over its short lifetime. 122 PC PRO june 2011 www. Obviously. and when things do go wrong the resources available to fix them aren’t up to the job. This machine needs to be flattened and completely reinstalled. Now choose Exit and go back to the main setup window. VHDs are used by Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor. and a web search turned up a tool called USBDeview at www. which isn’t difficult but requires a little care.Real World Computing Advanced Windows London. when it gets to Install Now.co. but when he’s training he can boot Windows Server from a VHD. Now you need to choose this virtual disk and attach it to the file system: select vdisk file="c:\mywin7. Windows will automatically modify the boot menu to allow you to choose to boot from either the main Windows 7 installation on the hard disk or the one you just set up in the VHD. and you can choose this option from the front-end menu. after my head had cleared. It worked immediately and mounted with no problems. Having cleaned out all this old garbage and rebooted the machine a few times just to be sure… nothing. for example. after all. For example: create vdisk file="C:\mywin7. Thomas Lee. until @pjbryant came up with another USB stick to try. Why exactly am I pondering doing this? Well. Once all this is done. A VHD file is a virtual hard disk. Most people suggested all the things I’d tried already. And if I remember correctly. Hyper-V’s magic allows you to do this with multiple VHDs at the same time – which is how it performs its virtualisation magic slimline If I never use the base OS for anything other than booting from and managing VHDs.vhd" followed by: attach vdisk Booting from VHD The hassles I’ve been having with this machine led me to wonder about ways to keep it running well in the future. then wire up the Windows boot menu. By doing that I can just boot back to the base OS install and xcopy the VHD file to make backups or restores. I could use Norton Ghost to take a snapshot image of a whole working machine configuration so that I could restore it in the event of future problems. It’s possible to set up Windows to boot from a VHD file. and from reinstalling everything on Dell’s website to running Microsoft’s diagnostics. The next morning. but the inescapable conclusion is that it isn’t. Setting up Windows to do this isn’t difficult. or ever had been attached. What to do? Well. as Ripley would have advised. and then simply install Windows 7 on to it.uk/links/200advwin.pcpro. click on Repair Your Computer. Maybe it was asking too much for Windows 7 64-bit to be made completely bombproof. I tackled the problem yet again. uses it to boot Windows Server on his laptop. Microsoft has decided it should be beyond the capabilities of mere Professional or before. Once you’ve done this. there’s another. to my Dell laptop – but on your desktop Windows can boot straight from a VHD held on the local hard disk. and would like to transfer that to your laptop to run it natively? All this is entirely possible: you just need to copy the VHD file to your laptop’s hard disk. Despite wasting days on this problem and imbibing several rounds of beers to the detriment of my health. This little utility showed me all the devices that were attached. as only Windows 7 Enterprise or Ultimate can accomplish this trick.uk . which basically mounts the VHD as a volume and then boots the OS that’s held within it.pcpro. there really are no more choices. I have some spare Windows licences. I like to think that I’m not exactly clueless at such things and that there isn’t something obvious staring me in the face with a large “Doh!” sign writ large. Later I will take a Norton Ghost image of the machine’s configuration for posterity and then nuke it from orbit. There truly is a ghost in the machine. The USB sticks still wouldn’t work on the Dell. so I think my “vape from orbit” will include a VHD this time around. “the only way to be sure”. First you have to be using the right version of Windows.vhd" type=expandable maximum=40000 makes an expandable VHD with 40GB of space. Kapow! They were all gone from the system. but it does require a little forward planning. it can remain quite slimline and immune from rotting influences. System recovery becomes easy: just xcopy the VHD over and reboot. and we drowned our disappointment in ale.co. you have to right-click on the app icon and choose Run As Administrator. I’ve come to the end of the road. To make this work. way to solve this puzzle that’s well worth considering. Search for BCDEDIT. But Windows wouldn’t let us delete the existing entries. Boot from the install CD and. Then select Command Prompt. This works well and can be very fast. this VHD OS image is actually “Windows Server with Hyper-V”. and is essentially a big file that contains an entire file system. That this could happen after less than a year of on-and-off usage is somewhat disappointing. The laptop normally boots into Windows 7. It is. I can’t make this damn machine work properly and I’ve run out of things to try. so it would be interesting to run my new laptop installation from a VHD rather than from the base OS install. more intriguing. which will open a command prompt window in which you can run diskpart and use the “create” syntax to create a new virtual disk. There are many uses for this facility.

co. I did a consultancy for a local firm that wanted an outsider’s view of how its business was developing. but the issues raised at Las Vegas still intrigue me and will have a profound impact over the next few years. will it fall foul of any patents held by Apple. or not there at all yet in the Windows world. and the market has left it behind. What alarms me is that the response from most hardware and software vendors so far has been too feeble. The biggest app store on the net has shipped its ten billionth application. which piqued my interest. For example. Things will certainly get better: Android 3 will hopefully bring the tablet platform into focus. on which endless choice is no longer a good thing. a step that would rid us of much. take risks and deliver an appropriate response to Apple.pcpro. Curated app stores are only just starting up in the Android world. if you’re prepared to wait. and Windows 8 is promised to have much better touch capabilities. in favour of “appliances” from trusted brands. whose NeXTStep OS was doing that in the late 1980s? Or will ARM-based Windows only allow apps to be installed from the forthcoming app store? If so. or will Microsoft continue to make the same mistakes? A few weeks ago. super snoop Will Windows 8’s app store mimic Apple’s.uk or read his blog at www. Jon Honeyball WondeRS if tHe induStRy cAn cAll time on tHe micRoSoft eRA M y mind is still spinning from the experience of CES in January. Next. since apps written for Intel won’t run on ARM. will Microsoft finally grasp the nettle by ensuring that future Windows will only allow the installation and execution of digitally signed code. A decade of complacency has come back and bitten the company on the bottom: its historical model of providing the same OS and apps to a range of third-party hardware vendors may now be in jeopardy. Maybe Microsoft’s worst fear has finally been realised. and vice versa. I should be looking forward to the forthcoming Microsoft Management summit and Computex in Taipei. and in the Microsoft ecosystem we’re talking about a revolution.co. It installs onto a PC and then effectively disappears. which raises more questions than it answers. into a sales space that has nothing in common with the PC/Microsoft world. Rival hardware is mostly half-baked and the OS solutions via Windows 7 and Android leave much to be desired. Email jhoneyball@woodley side. perhaps most of the malware that afflicts us today? Or will it fall back into allowing any old junk from any dodgy source to install and run? What’s clear is that the world has changed irrevocably.pcpro.uk/blogs/ jonhoneyball “fat binary” applications. Perhaps in five years’ time. in which both executables are baked into a single file? In that case. the moment when all bets were off. CES 2011 will be remembered as the tipping point.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball The tipping point? Still Reeling fRom A monumentAl ceS 2011. there was Microsoft’s announcement of its intention to move Windows onto the ARM platform. This is an extraordinarily powerful piece of software that could be truly dangerous in the wrong hands. Consider first the dysfunctional response by all major vendors to the arrival of the iPad. 120 PC PRO MAy 2011 www. Someone needs to step up to the mark. the name “SpectorSoft” was mentioned. too chaotic. does this mean that we’ll move towards a multiplatform world in Windows? How well did that work the last time it was tried with NT and Windows Server for DEC Alpha? Or is Microsoft going to bite the bullet and deliver JON HONEyBALL Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications. too much promise and too little delivery. During our conversation.uk . co.

but scanning over a wireless network seems beyond the standard Microsoft offering. I decided to see just how far I could get using the basic Windows 7 tool. and does so invisibly in the background. for example. As an aside: if you need quality OCR then purchasing a full copy of the relevant program is often worth its weight in gold. but HP has extruded some truly nasty substances onto our desktops in the name of an “integrated HP experience”. log in and take a look. or through a properly designed parental control account. I quite like the effort made by Epson. Some vendors go the whole hog by OCRing the scan into a PDF. for example. grabs an image of the desktop every few seconds.uk MAy 2011 PC PRO 121 . use it wisely. for example. doesn’t engender love and affection? The reality. you were forced to use the one provided by the manufacturer. though. In my ongoing desire to declutter my life. It could then be controlled and managed through Active Directory profiles. Some vendors think that simply extracting the textual content into a TXT file is good enough. because I prefer to keep my scanner next to my computer. so it’s fortunate that various antivirus software packages can spot and identify it as a professional keylogger tool (it wouldn’t be that hard to exclude the necessary files from AV scanning. That’s fine. though). The former is useful up to a point. I can’t find any way to get my scanner to work over a Wi-Fi connection using the standard Windows 7 software – printing seems to be no problem. Performing OCR processing on a scan also tends to not be available unless you use the vendor’s supplied software. Spector Pro records everything that happens on your computer. but what about the scanner software? In years gone by. it was no real hardship anyway. and proving that nothing malicious was done while there is vitally important to the credibility of the firm. I believe that such capabilities should be available in a home PC. while others think that the structure of the document is worth preserving too. But like any such tool. wondering whether you use them via their USB port or via an Ethernet interface. There are some great tools available to help. and sending www. or any other sort of remote management terminal. SpectorSoft might be the tool you need. When will vendors realise that locking users into some overblown monstrosity. By preference. It isn’t that unusual for the OCR engine to be licensed into the OEM software itself. The same consideration might apply on the trading floor of a bank. of course – the built-in parental control tools in Windows 7. For parents trying to manage the use of their PC by their children. and can watch files being moved on and off the PC. This particular firm uses SpectorSoft in the area of remote management: it works with local schools by remote connecting into their networks. and the software performs this role brilliantly. For example. Given the dodginess of much of the vendor-supplied software. is that you often have to dive into the vendor’s software to get the best from a device. whose user is totally unaware of the snooping. whose UI looks like it was designed by a blind goat. Free OCR is fine. and Canon’s isn’t too bad. this will capture everything that goes on within the PC.co. The downside is that it would be terrifying in the wrong hands. but let’s define what we mean by OCR here.pcpro. If I ran an internet café. Since this isn’t likely to happen any time soon. passwords and so forth. which was often terrible. complete with layout. Clearly. but Windows Vista and Windows 7 have decent scanning tools built in. and usually works well. promises Simon Brock 135 138 141 120 123 Online Security Why cosmetics retailer Lush was left red-faced by hackers Implementing IPv6 could throw everyone’s networks off kilter Restricted features in standalone versions of Outlook annoy Simon Jones Mobile & Wireless Paul Ockenden tries to get the most out of Bluetooth in his car Server Room How F1 is driving innovation on server farms with Dell It then records all keystrokes and mouse clicks. or makes an online purchase? The keylogger keeps all their keystrokes. since it makes it easy to share the device with other people without worrying about keeping a host computer running to support the necessary print queue. IDs. for example – but it should be possible for the OS to provide this level of capability “baked into the product”. Those are the upsides. But what happens when a user logs into their banking system. one Windows to drive them all I’ve been looking at a number of multifunction devices recently.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office Will 2011 be the year the Microsoft era officially comes to an end? Web Applications Kevin Partner takes Microsoft’s WebMatrix development tool for a spin 126 129 132 Open Source Networks Backing up with open source solutions isn’t hard to do. it would be tempting to run it to ensure that nothing “untoward” went on. but recreating the structure can become tiresome after the event. There’s much to be said for using a network interface of course. I’ll stick to the Windows 7 tools. Want to know exactly what has happened on that PC? Fire up SpectorSoft using its hot-key combination. it can be like pushing water uphill with a rake. and it would be impossible to defend against such blatant spying.

thank you. so that can go too. measuring paper or cloth. the first generation of touchscreen. which seems to be regularly updated. I ended up with a Dell XPS 8300. nor do I want your media button bar splattered across my desktop. a healthy 16GB of main RAM and 2TB of disk space. and it’s entirely possible that this represents their total profit on the sale – but nevertheless. What’s in a colour? The monitor is cheap as chips of course. but I have no idea whether they’d work. rather than just fiddling with the values in the Windows driver on the graphics card.500 exc VAT. whereas a similar amount could have bought me a three-machine licence from a high-street shop. which generates the appropriate ICC profile file. or to figure out how to use the special hot keys to adjust the screen brightness. then mount the calibrator onto the front of the screen. colour. overblown software that does little more than annoy. Badly labelled Blu-ray drivers and codecs feature in my “hate list” for things that aren’t obvious in the Remove Programs dialog box. If you’re carrying out only basic photo editing tasks. and scanning tasks from the device to a remote computer around the house is a little like entrusting your important letters to the Post Office – you’re not sure when or if they’ll arrive (or even at the right post box). but if you’re tempted to rebalance the colour of a photo. this can appear as an eight-core device. taking the trash out I decided to buy a new desktop for my lab at the beginning of 2011. or even how a projector is working. trundling along with an AMD Turion 64 X2 processor at a rather humble 1. it would be quite nice if users could strip back the machine to the essentials without risking screwing things up. which turns out to be a singlemachine licence. hence my purchase. although there is 4GB of RAM in there. but I see that Eizo is now producing monitors that have calibrator devices built into the screen itself. Just remember that out of the box monitors are often far from correct in their colour reproduction. all-in-one desktops.024 x 768 pixels on a co-processor unit. My only regret was spending £69 on Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student edition. or do a full calibration run. You can even set it up to calibrate itself at 3am daily if you wish. This is then loaded into the screen driver. it still works. I’ve taken a full backup of the unit and am now setting about removing all the trashware that’s installed by default. but it has problems with Windows 7 64-bit – specifically. but most manufacturers bundle horrific. and a 24in widescreen monitor. you might well decide that this isn’t necessary for your work. but it doesn’t have much real grunt. Of course. and it comes with a price tag to match.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Windows” applet to remove all this crap. Despite being handed almost unspeakable abuse over the years. using my lab X-Rite i1Pro calibrated spectrophotometer.pcpro. This time. this is a great piece of software.uk . so it can safely be uninstalled from my new PC your graphics card and screen combination will be as good as that hardware is ever going to manage. I decided to try to colour calibrate it. This is a whole different level of properformance. To really stretch its legs. I decided to go with Dell. connected via a VGA connector. reflection and so forth. nothing can beat the performance of a top-end professional-grade screen. I really wish that vendors could be forced to supply a “take me back to basic Epson’s scanning software isn’t too bad. and the LaCie bundle costs only a few hundred pounds. its software is shaky (to put it politely). I deliberately needed Home and Student for this test system. It works fine with a range of spectrophotometric analysers. if you want to use Hyper-Threading. so you can fiddle to your heart’s content. the lack of any sort of drivers to control its touchscreen. A Bing bar is something that comes from a sweet shop and is covered in chocolate. Other bits and pieces include a 1GB RAM graphics card from ATI. ask yourself the question: “what colour is it really?” 122 PC PRO MAy 2011 www. Fire it up. A Bing bar is something that comes from a sweet shop. I’m sure I could dig around and install some Windows Vista 32-bit items. all for less than £1. You can tell these boxes are on a different plane of performance because their calibration capabilities let you adjust the values stored on the screen itself. My previous “hack” desktop is a rather tired HP. Finding Windows 7 64-bit support is difficult and the firm doesn’t update its software fast enough for my liking – so I was pleased to hear about LaCie’s Blue Eye Pro software. So it was time to retire the old dear. The software outputs a PDF file showing all the measurement data. Before you ask. and my favourite item in this category is the 30in Eizo model. it offers very decent performance. Oh. a few USB 3 ports. I don’t want a trial of McAfee.co. and it comes in a kit costing thousands of pounds. and came with a mind-boggling 1MB of RAM (with 2MB optional for offloaded processing). If you’re serious about colour then you really need to have something like this. such a move goes against my fundamental principle that an operating system should be kept as clean as possible. run the appropriate device white-level calibration. when I had a state-of-the-art graphics card – the Hercules TIGA unit – which could manage an eye-popping 1. Overall. and that you need the tools to help establish a trustworthy baseline. but my real work machines all run the full-fat Professional edition. While I’m a big fan of the professional X-Rite calibrator hardware. together with all the mounts and adapters for putting the device onto screens. You can either run a test process that tells you how far out your screen is. This is basically a reference-quality tool for measuring light. I understand that they’re paid for putting trialware onto their machines. and dived into its online desktop configuration tool. But for the money. but it also works with the i1Pro. fitted with a 3. My mind’s eye slipped back to the early 1990s. No.4GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core processor. LaCie usually sells this software along with a fairly base-level X-Rite calibrator. With a smattering of CPU tweakery. It’s done sterling service and is far from overwhelmed by current applications. Network scanning in the home at the moment is pretty much like this. Plus. and it really shouldn’t be so.6GHz.

which specialises in multi-finger gesturing for Windows. and flicks. despite its strengths and capabilities.uk or read his blog at www. rotate. as well as Vista and XP. It would be easy just to trot out the hackneyed opinion that this is a typical half-baked Microsoft solution. go into the Windows System Information page. This set of gestures certainly represents a useful set of core capabilities. a good friend tells me that his Dell Latitude XT2 has support for four-finger gestures. press and tap with second finger. so this is a company worth looking at if your hardware is supported.co.co. panning with inertia. and how many simultaneous finger touches it can manage. I think it genuinely believes that two fingers are enough and that more than two is too confusing (just like Apple once thought about one versus two mouse buttons). especially for tablets but also for desktop machines. falls a long way short of being a credible touch platform. and there have been several updates to the driver set since then.pcpro. The almost inescapable conclusion is that Windows 7. It’s hard to say why Microsoft has done it this way. but I suspect that isn’t the case this time. Although I don’t have one to hand.uk . wouldn’t it be nice if Microsoft were to lead in gesture interfaces. then who’s going to write truly multi-finger applications any time soon? I ’ve been looking at a number of touch-enabled Windows 7 computers recently. rather than trail behind with an adequate but disappointing solution? I’m told that the underlying OS supports up to ten fingers. Therefore.uk/blogs/ jonhoneyball Precision required Let’s move on to a more important limitation of Windows 7 with regard to touch. The website lists a small number of computers for which the firm has written true multitouch drivers.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball Back to the drawing board As micRosoft fAils to impRess Him WitH its tAblet offeRing.n-trig.pcpro. at www. but if the majority of the current peripheral hardware doesn’t. where it will tell you that Windows 7 is touch enabled. as evidenced by this Microsoft posting. You might not realise this. but they all require two fingers at most. The truth is that Windows has always been designed 120 PC PRO ApriL 2011 www. jon honeyball WondeRs if A gRound-up Redesign of WindoWs foR toucH input is tHe solution gestures are defined – tap and double-tap. Some digging showed that this machine ships with multitouch drivers from a company called N-trig (www. lets start with the multitouch issue. You can see that nine touch JON HONEYBALL Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications. it’s interesting to discover that some Windows 7 devices are shipping with support for more than two-finger gestures. It seems that two is enough for most of Microsoft’s current requirements. and I’ll have to confess that I’m finding the whole touch experience in Windows 7 worryingly underwhelming.co. zoom. com).uk/links/198windows. pcpro. There are a number of reasons for this. press-and-hold. Apparently. both desktop machines and tablets. both for Windows 7 64-bit and 32-bit. but most Windows 7 touch-enabled devices actually only work with one or two simultaneous touch inputs: they can’t handle three or four fingers at the same time. two-finger tap. co. First. Email jhoneyball@woodley side. the machine shipped with these N-trig drivers from new. However. To check this. selection/drag.

it can be moved around the screen so it doesn’t obscure an application. It needs a ground-up OS redesign that makes everything within Windows operate in a truly touch-orientated fashion. But. too. Windows has been tuned to this design schema. OS-level intelligence about where to put it. This is. Worse still. There’s no room for error. Custom graphical touch-orientated applications simply aren’t the answer. in effect (to use a simplification that will make seasoned Windows programmers cringe). has been stuck at 96 pixels per logical inch (let’s call it 96ppli) since the earliest days of the VGA (for more on what logical inches actually are. In the end. which can be useful. so that the user has no confidence that the button has been correctly pressed. what chance do they have at 300ppli?). while others are shying away from even this small step. the OS knows exactly where you clicked. we crash headlong into an issue that has plagued Windows for 20 years. which was used back in the mid-1990s for the IBM 8514/A display. Its screen resolution. so everything can look zoomed-in. which is why it’s sometimes known as the 8514A setting. and more “finger-friendly”. just look at the flyout onscreen keyboard Windows 7 supplies whenever it thinks you need to type something.uk/links/198windows1. you can paint. At the very least. Do you change the ppli value and hope the app doesn’t break? Some vendors are doing this. but there’s no baked-in. The solution – fairly obviously – is to make the buttons bigger. no blurring or uncertainty – you either clicked on that object or you missed it. so all sorts of nasty text clipping and cropping may happen when the application attempts to lay out everything in 96ppli. you have to conclude that it’s in the wrong place wherever it sits.uk ApriL 2011 PC PRO 121 . and you’ll notice the lack of such hardware on sale today. as your buttons are bigger and more usable when touched with a finger tip. many applications are never tested at 120ppli. Sure. Some vendors are trying to get around all these problems by shipping a set of touch-optimised applications that run in their own touch-desktop environment. Again. draw. However. Those with long memories may remember the work done nearly a decade ago to produce 300ppli ultra-high-resolution screens for Windows. and the system software has to work out the most likely centre of this splodge and call that the click point. The problem is that you still have a dumb button that’s simply bigger. and then a decision needs to be made about backwards compatibility for existing apps. Text gets bigger. plus tips on stress-testing a website Caption here please caption here please to work with a precision input device – namely. the mouse. visit www.co. In fact. your screen has a fixed number of pixels because that’s how flat-panel screens are made. you need to make all of the screen furniture larger. Instead of a mouse pointer. you’ve zoomed everything. If you want. If you stick to this very limited ecosystem. if we now place a finger over that same screen button the fingertip will generate a huge splodge of positional data. while the OS is trying to force 120ppli. plus hyperlinks in Word and Excel Mobile & Wireless Paul Ockenden celebrates Christmas in February. the solution has to be baked into the OS. at this point.co. So. But as soon as you go back into a standard Windows application. so that when you click on an object.pcpro. you can tell Windows to increase the number of pixels per logical inch: a typical value would You can make things larger on screen. the user will be unable to see the button change colour to indicate its change of state. the whole façade collapses. so increasing the number of pixels per inch means that the logical “system” inch gets bigger – in other words.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office Is Windows 7 a credible touch platform? Jon Honeyball doesn’t think so Web Applications Is Silverlight on its way out? Mark Newton looks into the rumours 126 129 132 Open Source Networks Ian Wrigley explains how to stay secure when in a Wi-Fi hotspot 135 138 141 120 123 Online Security RoboForm for home users. Could www. but how many apps will cope properly with this? Be brave and go for a custom DPI setting. be 120. and 2010’s highlights in security Steve Cassidy visits the WorkTech conference at the British Library The alternatives to the PCX file format. This is fine up to a point. but almost every application barfed at a system resolution of 300ppli (it they can’t cope with 120ppli. or how to arrange its windows to work most effectively. If you want an example that’s enough to make you cry. with a bagful of tech goodies Server Room A weekend discussing PowerShell. This isn’t a particularly difficult problem in itself – the maths isn’t too difficult and well within the capabilities of a modern PC to calculate in real-time. to the inevitable question – how could Microsoft make a really good touch version of Windows? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. use it at your peril. the fingertip will completely cover it. control media and so forth. pcpro. a pointer to one specific pixel on the screen. in terms of pixels to the inch. and the hardware has become better and better over the years – just compare the performance of a modern laser tracking mouse to a ten-year-old clunker with a rolling ball. The problem is the size of the button itself – if it’s too small. Not only was it prohibitively expensive to make such screens and the commensurate graphics cards.

0 is much-improved. I could encrypt everything locally and then send these files to the Dropbox local tree and have them synced to the cloud. The only question is whether it has the determination to leap beyond the iPad generation. where each application can run at its own preferred ppli value? Maybe. clean OS that relies on touch for choices. as everyone has slipped back into the torpor that is USB 2. but uses voice control for any sort of significant input. Instead. 122 PC PRO ApriL 2011 www. it would be somewhat harder to do under Windows. Yes.co. but not onto desktops. but only if you have a USB 3 port into which you can connect it – connecting it to a USB 2 socket works but really defeats the point. Second. First.Real World Computing Advanced Windows we have a composited desktop. Microsoft has the brains.200rpm. usb 3 I’ve also been playing with some USB 3 devices over the past month. but it won’t fix the underlying issues. the money. but that Windows 7 netbook with limited disk space will get only the most important folders and files. I simply love Dropbox and run it on all of my machines. As you may recall. the machine at home will get everything. while the files are sent over an encrypted link. I’d be happier if I could simply overlay my own encryption certificates into the Dropbox process. Maybe Microsoft should be bold and forget touch for mainstream input and control. How about using the encryption keys generated for encrypted NTFS. With USB 3 and a fast disk. Of course. Or you could decide to sync all media files between key media servers. so you could decide that your desktop computer will get everything. Dropbox now offers control over which folders to sync. but it isn’t particularly clever if you connect your laptop to the internet via a 3G dial-up modem. Microsoft announcing an ARM port of Windows 7 at CES in Las Vegas isn’t a magic bullet. Well it might. you can get superb throughput. speed and everything – but FireWire 800 is a rare sight on machines these days. While it would actually be easy to do on Mac OS X. Finally. As disks have become faster. given the 3D compositing power of the Windows 7 desktop engine. irrespective of platform. preferably an SSD model like the 128GB bus-powered unit that Iomega recently lent me. but it would certainly ease the minds of those of us who are understandably paranoid about our data being copied into the cloud – especially data that’s important to us and potentially sensitive. It knows when it’s running on a local area network and takes advantage of this to sync to any other nearby LAN-connected machines running Dropbox on the same account. because of its event-triggered filesystem capabilities. So is it worth buying into USB 3 today? It’s difficult to get enthusiastic if you have no USB 3 host ports. too.uk . but that’s too much hard work. then the move away from USB 2 is like taking off tight boots. Any files that are created. or other keys that can be stored in Active Directory? Yes.0 release. I’d have to take full responsibility for looking after my own keys. although things are improving slowly. Dropbox. Surely this is possible. write a simple. you can choose – on a machine-by-machine basis – which folders will be synchronised to that machine. changed and so forth are replicated on a secure store in the cloud at Dropbox’s datacenter. but that really wouldn’t be too hard. including all its subdirectories. even on Windows 7. there are still very few USB 3 ports fitted to new laptops or desktops these days. but I’m sure I can do a better job of this than any third party. are we really sure that the WP7 user interface will scale up to an 8in tablet? I’m far from convinced. but bandwidth control isn’t very 3G-savvy. If they can’t be fixed on a 24in desktop all-in-one PC today. Dropbox installs onto your desktop machine and monitors a point in your file system. First. it’s a faster bus than USB 2. but it’s probably beyond the capabilities of typical onboard Intel chipset graphics adapters. The application still isn’t sufficiently connection-aware. and I’m very far from being impressed by those. but there are serious issues there too.0 version. or if your drive is solid state with no moving parts. deleted. Dropbox has added some much-needed new capabilities. Dropbox 1. which tend to writhe on the floor when asked to do anything requiring 3D power. some have suggested that Windows Phone 7 might make a good candidate for a touch desktop and tablet. Microsoft could leverage the extraordinary capability that the Xbox 360 Kinect system has demonstrated and come up with something truly amazing. but if you do. with effectively unlimited processing and graphics power. and Dropbox says that its staff have no easy access to the data held on their servers. dropbox My favourite cloud application. the bottleneck shifted from the drive itself to the interface. this would mean that an admirably cross-platform solution such as Dropbox would require key management facilities on nonWindows platforms. of course – power. but it becomes a real problem when trying to get data on and off a 1TB drive. You get 2GB of storage for free and can purchase up to 100GB. With the new 1. has finally come out of beta test and staggered into the world as a release 1.pcpro. which goes back a decade. USB is old technology – at least in its USB 2 version. Yes. and so on. along with an unlimited undo that lets you reinstate any file you may have deleted. they certainly won’t get fixed inside the tight limitations of a portable tablet PC. FireWire solved all these problems. There are still two things remaining on my wishlist. and that would allow hot-zooming in and out of applications. Unfortunately. and without determined vision these intractable issues won’t get fixed any time soon. thus ensuring that everything that left my machine was encrypted using a key-pair that Dropbox couldn’t decrypt however hard it tried. This could prove expensive if large files start to sync themselves over a painfully slow and expensive connection without you noticing. Simply putting Windows 7 onto ARM will be only a short-term platform fix. and the need to do this. You might not worry about this on a bus-powered 64GB hard drive that’s spinning at 4.

It offered a centralised store for multimedia content and streamed it on the network to any device that could consume it. The implementation wasn’t without hiccups. cleverer version 2. on the Microsoft forums. Apparently it’s too difficult. which protected you against a single disk failure. It took Microsoft months to fix it. so Drive Extender was created. just pop in an extra one. and offered backup and recovery for desktop PCs. it falls over. which was hardly surprising as that was where it was aimed in the first place. and it’s best that we don’t have it at all if it isn’t working properly (a view that has a certain logic to it). And because it wasn’t tied to any underlying drive letters. mountain. the work done to redesign Drive Extender from the existing version 1 to the newer. although Drive Extender made them appear that they were stored in one place. has failed. Drive Extender added some extra tweaks that were genuinely useful. then got angry and told Microsoft where it could shove all its future WHS products – and they said so in public. and Microsoft can’t fix it in time. co. This was ideal for home users with a steadily growing storage requirement: when their disk gets full. based on Server 2003 with all the unnecessary corporate gubbins pulled out. so the firm is really just doing what we asked. it loses your data. nay begging. Such a solution was spot on for the home market.co.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball A litany of failure As micRosoft pRovokes A stoRm by cAnning dRive extendeR. Even better. The handling of this news has been somewhat catastrophic for the WHS team’s credibility. really. it has bugs. Everyone laughed in amazement. which was the first indication that this wasn’t a technology it took very seriously. but it’s what we want. You could mark certain data as being important and WHS would ensure that. jon honeyball Reflects on tHe compAny’s long list of disAsteRs in tHe stoRAge ARenA deep. you could add another hard disk and seamlessly grow your store without having to move everything around or reformat the disks.uk/blogs/ jonhoneyball Windows Home Server currently lets you add and remove drives without losing data. it seems we’ve been asking. 120 PC PRO MARCH 2011 www. but it at least kept the machine running and your data safe whenever a disk failed. that might seem a typical piece of Microsoft corporate double-speak to you and me.uk or read his blog at www. there was a bug in the first release that allowed Drive Extender to lose data. Just look at its recent history with storage technologies. Part of that multimedia requirement was a storage solution that could just grow with the user’s collection over time.uk . Within hours came a second missive from the temple on top of the A JON HONEYBALL Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications. It’s buggy. It was designed to run without a screen or keyboard. due later this year.pcpro. In fact. This was no replacement for a full backup solution. heartfelt sigh is all I can muster in response to the news that Microsoft’s Windows Home Server (WHS) team has decided to pull the Drive Extender technology from the next release of WHS. it doesn’t work under heavy loads. No. Actually. they would actually be stored across two physical drives. WHS version 1 is a lovely thing.pcpro. It fitted nicely into home networks. The next version won’t. we don’t actually need Drive Extender. You still don’t want or need it either. do you? I’m not entirely surprised that Microsoft dropped the ball on this. Microsoft to pull it. Apparently. which basically faked a file store running on top of existing NTFS disk partitions. Email jhoneyball@woodley side.co.

Meanwhile. wherein Office Structured Storage data files were deconstructed into NTFS Streams. Microsoft says we should be using RAID controllers instead. Exchange Server. too. Obviously. but it’s now 20-year-old thinking. By breaking the OLE doc structure into multiple NTFS streams. After all. tell him that his running of a defrag tool on his M drive was equivalent to putting the entire public folder store through a blender. The problem was that it was terrifyingly fragile. overarching strategy for storage. for example. The reality is that Microsoft has no WinFS. M being the default one. I know this will go down badly with the people at Redmond. Yes.pcpro. The vendor Drobo has spotted a market opportunity and is offering discounts on its range of well-regarded external intelligent drive arrays. For Windows NT. but history shows this to be a fact. A brief explanation: DOC. Microsoft always has the luxury of walking away from difficult problems. but very few people use this feature. Remember DriveSpace.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office Microsoft’s continuing inability to master storage technology Web Applications How easy is it to develop a game for Facebook? Kevin Partner finds out 126 129 132 Open Source Networks Do free applications really save you money in the long run? 135 138 141 120 123 Online Security A look at the not-so-funny side of spam: phishing emails Steve Cassidy tries to cram a full working day into just 28 seconds Can you trust Google’s cloud? Plus. This seemed a great idea at the time: to have file system access into the Exchange Server replicating store. we have similar storage needs there. How this will be resolved is anyone’s guess. which also grow over time. which Microsoft implemented in response to Stac’s Stacker? It was a horrible thing. XLS and PPT files were in fact all mini file systems. Microsoft’s crack team of software engineers imported from Digital came up with the NTFS file system. best pull the product from the whole platform and pretend that nothing happened. except for the binary streams of each document component itself. M disappeared soon afterwards. and a demand that Microsoft actually considers the home server user as a real customer. and nothing else. My favourite appeared in the betas of Server 3. In order to make Drive Extender work well on a more business-orientated server. and let Exchange Server do all the heavy work. In fact. which has provided the bedrock for Microsoft’s storage for almost 20 years. Next up in the Hall of Shame was the Cairo Object File System. and that it’s all for our own good. which coincidentally provide just such a drive-extending and dual copy facility. and it died along with the whole Cairo project. it was decided to re-architect the product. Isn’t it strange how it’s possible for Drobo to offer this functionality but beyond the geniuses at Microsoft (it’s exactly the same story with Dropbox. End of discussion. It failed. The problem with the traditional file is that you have just one lock on it. Clearly it was a hacked-together feature that wasn’t tested properly. the previous attempt by Microsoft to move storage forward. called OLE Structured Storage. The next tragedy was drive M in Exchange Server. The result is a spectacular revolt in the user community. and it’s this work that’s failed. which is eating Microsoft’s Live Mesh for lunch)? Of course both Drobo and Dropbox just do what they do. it allows for mount points and so forth in a way to get around the hegemony of drive letters. too. it was possible for multi-user editing to be done in a much more controlled fashion. called a file system filter. Internally they all had the same structure. information leakage on Live Messenger Mobile & Wireless Keypad or touchscreen? Paul Ockenden joins the debate Server Room The must-have toolkit for 2011 and the importance of the five Ps Now scoot forward to the current betas and Microsoft has decided that Drive Extender is going to be useful to a wider audience.x. which allowed you to mount the Exchange Server public folders as a drive letter. a piece of dodgy technology that empowered you to lose everything in one go. I saw it for real only once. so there needed to be a special chunk of code that sat inside the file system engine. so simultaneous multi-user editing was fraught with difficulty. which let you build super-Structured-Storage containers that could hold multiple office documents.uk MARCH 2011 PC PRO 121 . the Windows Server team was still trying out new ideas. so almost anything you did via the M drive letter resulted in corruption of the Exchange Store. That’s been a paragon of stability and capability.51. at the file system level. although it would be nice if it didn’t try to spin that as something else. which did the www. this never saw the light of day. Office didn’t know about this magic. Designed to be an active store into which you could drop data. If you ever enjoyed seeing a grown Exchange Server system administrator cry. Long-term readers might remember the Office Binder. So in typical Microsoft thinking. Not surprisingly. We might like it in the Small Business Server. Let’s go back to the days of MS-DOS and Windows 3. because it now appears it does rather unpleasant things when under load. Buying an SBS server with a few empty drive bays gives us the room to grow in future. which means they’re highly focused on getting it right as otherwise their business dies. where the disks would be subjected to the heavy I/O loads of.co.

what hope do we have of lifting our home network’s capabilities any time soon? The cold reality is that Microsoft has no storage vision at all. Designed to be a clever file system for Windows Vista. Fortunately.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Microsoft has no storage vision at all. large chunks of the advanced features of Vista never made it to the final release. and so a few hours later he admitted that “it’s a rough day for Vail. almost two generations further on. and I have been dreading today for a while as an avid Vail user myself. Just enquire how many people have successfully migrated a large document store out of SharePoint Server into something else. You can delude yourself so thoroughly that you really come to believe that your customers didn’t need this stuff after all. as you no doubt remember. the issue isn’t that disks are getting bigger. and expect a very small answer. We know this is popular feature in regards to our home server product. The sad thing is that. we have decided to remove the Drive Extender technology from Windows Home Server (and Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials) which are currently in beta. but version 2 has now tripped and fallen.” Gosh. we have received feedback from partners and customers about how they use storage today and how they plan to use it moving forward. Filenames were deprecated down to mere marker points: when looking for something you could search by any of the logical Metatags that were available. I suspect it will keep claiming it isn’t a big issue. which had been licensed from a third party. Meanwhile. WOn’t Fit? I’m tempted to ask why Microsoft doesn’t shoehorn R1 of the Drive Extender codebase into the WHS beta. When weighing up the future direction of storage in the consumer and SMB market. The chronic lack of a company-wide vision for this type of problem-solving means solutions are worked on but never finished. So why did this useful feature get canned? Well. the Office team had their client-side solution and didn’t really worry too much about the server side of things. the corporate world has moved on. and freely available. We are also seeing further expansion of hard drive sizes at a fast rate. despite it being something of a hack that sits inside SQL Server on top of NTFS.pcpro. It simply doesn’t believe that anything beyond NTFS is really necessary. Or it was possible to do joins across data types and across the whole network. but they were all siloed inside one of the separate product teams. So what’s the way forward? According to Microsoft. and indeed. But on the basis of past history. realised the smoke appearing in his cubicle was from the hundreds of angry users who had set fire to his trousers. If you want a complex.” To which I can only reply: no. this will reduce the need for Drive Extender functionality. sort of like this: “During our current testing period for our Windows Home Server code name ‘Vail’ product. At the time HFS seemed to be sexier. and are ultimately dropped because they aren’t seen as being of high enough priority. and WinFS was one of those casualties. the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs. into the world of active engine Storage Area Networks that look after volume management by themselves. you don’t say. but I suspect it won’t fit. Knock back a few double espressos and you’ll become capable of writing a post that says the customers were begging for it to be removed all along. where you were the originator and it was a letter to the bank about Project Frog. while next year’s WHS will be based on Server 2008 R2.uk . where 2TB drives and more are becoming easily accessible to small businesses. This stuff should just work. It was based on the SQL Server code base. either within the server itself or on an external storage or NAS box. SBS2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Server Essentials. And if it isn’t based on Windows Server but on some potentially limited NAS engine. why would we expect anything else? breakup and reconstruction on the fly. This despite the fact that we need a platform for the 122 PC PRO MARCH 2011 www. it had some spectacular capabilities. or at least necessary enough to require a companywide push to solve these problems. Michael Leworthy. At the time. although Microsoft clearly has vision. It simply doesn’t believe that anything beyond NTFS is really necessary home server market that lets third parties develop add-ons and additional capabilities. the here and now Which brings us up to the present day. But the server team had a problem: the Office doc-file Structured Storage streams engine clashed with the hierarchical file system (HFS) N-tier storage management engine. clever document store for Windows you have to use SharePoint Server. and that its third-party partners will come along with a hardware solution. so the doc-file streams engine had to die. around that time I was told that the SQL Server build was done daily in both a WinFS-enhanced and raw SQL Server versions. Drive Extender is now dead across the suite of products coming this year: Windows Home Server. it’s that my storage needs are guaranteed to grow over time and I’m sick and tired of drive letters and fixed partition sizes that can’t be adjusted seamlessly. Today large hard drives of over 1TB are reasonably priced. but it too ended up on the storage scrap heap. so it was possible to search for a document last edited by me in the last fortnight. Then we have the debacle that was WinFS. Since customers looking to buy Windows Home Server solutions from OEMs will now have the ability to include larger drives.co. So why was this one cancelled? Well. while in the home market we should be looking to Drobo devices or NAS boxes on our networks. Remember the existing Windows Home Server is based on Server 2003. At that time SharePoint Server was – and still is – ruling the roost for complex server-side document storage. WinFS had some promising capabilities. the Microsoft product manager. Microsoft has worked on many different solutions over the years. Windows Home Server’s Drive Extender worked well enough in version 1. Microsoft claimed the technology worked well but the user interface was difficult to refine. Therefore. Other internal voices suggested that the SharePoint Server group took one look and refused to have anything to do with it. it simply doesn’t have the determination to follow it through.

the Windows Server division is one that’s noted for doing high-quality. but I genuinely believe there’s a Big Plan at play here from Microsoft and that it’s quietly following through on it. as the number was limited to around just 1. almost anyone needed to answer a question is located within a mile or so. but A muRky futuRe foR silveRligHt From the perspective of one who attended the PDC. Second.uk or read his blog at www. For Microsoft. nor the intense competition to get into the sessions you wanted to attend. it saved both on the cost and sheer hassle of moving hundreds of key Microsoft staff down from Seattle. You get all the right people from Microsoft. there were multiple advantages. the web server engine.uk . there wasn’t a flood of people either. For starters. Microsoft has been working very hard on its Azure platform. with no great arm-waving promises and no dubious deliverables. and coping with the inevitably large work interruptions.uk/blogs/ jonhoneyball 128 PC PRO February 2011 www. because they don’t have to do anything besides trundle across campus to the conference building. email jhoneyball@woodley side.co. Microsoft has used PDC to showcase future developments. In the past.000 – a limit brought on by the size of the main conference theatre. Any queries or follow-up could be dealt with in a few hours – after all. near Seattle. Remember Azure was launched a year ago. for example. and also very different from some previous events. You could stay at home (given the time differences) or even go along to one of many sites where local offices held PDC parties.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball Thumbs up for mini-PDC jon honeyball visits A diffeRent kind of pdc And finds some cleAReR pRomises foR AzuRe. the Vista PDC being a good example of that style. for example. This one was different because everything shown was either about to ship or shippable within a few months. quiet and confident work. First. it saved the cost of a huge conference facility in Los Angeles or Las Vegas. Looking for new features and capabilities was the order of the day. Some PDCs have shown a pile of future technology. co. The more intimate feel worked well. So what was this PDC all about? Well. It’s difficult to argue with the logic behind the change. making this its first anniversary.pcpro. projecting the video onto large screens. that was interesting too. although it didn’t have the same sizzle of the 17. It wasn’t a multiplethousand attendee event either.co. This will be very welcome because the range of capabilities available until now has been limited. Microsoft streamed the entire event over the internet. Let’s start with the big picture.000 attendees at the recent VMworld 2010 event in San Francisco. Next M icrosoft’s Professional Developers Conference was different on just about every score compared to previous events. little of which ever actually came to market. Azure is turning from being an application-delivery and hosting platform into a more general-purpose cloud solution. To compensate for the smaller number of bodies on-site. I think the new format works very well indeed. After all.pcpro. Facilities within the Azure application-hosting platform have been improved: there’s more capability for IIS. This might be in response to the VMware successes. it wasn’t held in somewhere like Los Angeles – it was held on the Microsoft Campus itself in Redmond. with a definition of “future” that’s been somewhat elastic. and Microsoft is certainly delivering them. and although there wasn’t the buzz of a huge crowd. JON HONeybaLL Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications.

said: “We’re making Java a first-class citizen with Windows Azure. It’s simply a question of horsepower. Azure has been an application platform: you write your code to the Azure API (application programming interfaces) and then deploy the application through specialised tools that push up the app code into your Azure space.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office The latest from Microsoft’s PDC. depending on the expected load for your application and the size of your chequebook. but we’re working hard on making Eclipse great to build applications against Windows Azure. details are thin on the ground. Again. it’s the only general-purpose platform as a service on the planet. VMware. This is quite different to the approach taken by. the choice of the development tool. and the numbers are impressive. and the final image being composited back together. Its impact on the desktop may be small. What happens to the Service Level Agreement? If it’s your applications running on your VM. wrap it up and send it to run on Azure servers. Supporting this move are new features for Eclipse – as Bob Muglia. Azure hasn’t had the necessary support. which is good news because Java is successful and important as an application runtime on servers. President of the Server and Tools Business. It’s a fundamental difference between managed application execution and managed VM hosting. we’re focusing across a broad set of underlying environments so you can choose the environment that best suits your application. Right from the beginning. we’ll show Visual Studio. To back up this improved Java comes better support for PHP and for MySQL too. It’s then executed on the Azure servers and you as the developer decide how many instances there will be running. Finally. how is this going to be charged for? Per-minute or per-hour execution runtime billing systems aren’t a good idea for VMs. Microsoft has demonstrated that you’ll soon be able to package up a whole VM and upload it into the Azure cloud service. then how is Microsoft going to provide any service-level guarantee for apps that it has no control over? You can see there are many questions here. and the more cores you bring to the party the faster your frame will be www. and withering further. but there’s an aggressive timescale to get this working and available to customers over the next few months. which is something you can either provision from the remote host or package up and upload as appropriate. the choice of the underlying framework. In fact. how much storage they need and so forth. we’ll make Ruby great. but there’s even more to this story. It’s basically a large number-crunching engine that’s ideally suited to having its input data chopped into little chunks. with each server in a farm working on one of those chunks. but this will change over the coming months. David Moss sets up a Live@Edu account up is support for Java as a primary application language and runtime system.” That’s quite a claim. recovery and failover? Steve Ballmer gave a typically bouncy and ebullient presentation. Again. we’ll talk about how great Visual Studio is. for example. Some of the details of this process remain somewhat murky. if you take a look. One area where Azure has been seriously lacking is in its support for native raw virtual machines. what happens in terms of backup. but server-side it’s a different matter. RenderMan is a heavily parallelised server-side rendering engine that can be run on a wide range of hardware and operating systems.uk February 2011 PC PRO 129 . For example. In the VMware world the cloud provider simply offers a container framework in which you run your virtual machine. On Azure it’s all been about managed application execution so far. Also.co. As a half-way house you’ll also be able to take a locally executing.pcpro. because Windows Azure is a general-purpose platform as a service. standard packaged application. so there’s an obvious move here by Microsoft to make it easier and more attractive for the “non-IIS” web developer community to use its preferred tools. We’ll make PHP great. but that’s about to change. but this is changing. plus Silverlight’s murky future Web Applications Lost your mobile or laptop? Mark Newton discovers a tool that can help 134 137 140 Open Source Networks Merging two spreadsheets? It’s easy – with a little help from a pig 143 146 149 128 131 Online Security Should security vendors go public if they’ve been victim to hackers? Steve Cassidy reports from Citrix Synergy in Berlin Tap into Office’s many unused capabilities and boost productivity Mobile & Wireless Buy into the smartphone world without having to spend a fortune Server Room Jon Honeyball corners Microsoft execs. with few answers as yet. Microsoft brought Pixar onto the stage to demonstrate how its RenderMan rendering software could run on Azure. Sure.

because VBA wasn’t ported so they wouldn’t work. but the arrival of Office 2011 for Macintosh is significant enough to be worthy of a mention. I look forward to Pixar and its partners offering brokered cloud-based rendering for smaller and mid-sized customers in the coming months. If you’re rendering the next Toy Story. Want a solid email client? Sorry. thanks to its insistence that neither Silverlight nor Flash runtimes will be allowed onto its iOS platform. If I were trying to build an internet application today. and where’s the real Linux version we were hoping to see? Given a HTML5 future. and maybe it is. making things easier to comprehend. It won’t push Macs onto business desktops in a hurry. pop these painkillers. even though there’s still much that needs to be firmed up in terms of SLAs. there’s no real doubt that HTML5 is the future. and there’s a direct relationship between the number of CPUs you rent and the time taken to complete your rendering. other than that its priorities have changed. going from nothing to a quite robust new platform in just a few years. I was particularly impressed by the ordered bundles techniques for showing how things relate to each other. Maybe we need to accept that code has truly become a “download. So is it on life support. the plugin runtime systems of Microsoft’s Silverlight and Adobe’s Flash. To the annoyance of both firms it appears to be Apple that holds sway over the outcome.co. and you paid accordingly. The previous version of Office for Mac was an utter disgrace. riP silverlight? The struggle between HTML5 and its two major competitors. But Apple says no – either you must use native code on iOS. It certainly doesn’t want to be seen as lagging behind as it has been in previous versions. The latest range of announcements certainly shows that Microsoft isn’t prepared to concede these various parts of the cloud market to anyone else – it’s entering a battle royal from which we all will benefit. Excel and PowerPoint are far more closely aligned with their Office 2010 equivalents. and a few bugs that need fixing. This is a superb example of that cloudy promise of being able to linearly increase cloud CPU capacity for a linear increase in cost (because it’s charged by the number of CPU minutes consumed). because network bandwidth to and from remote servers can otherwise present a significant bottleneck. but it’s a fine turnaround. Pixar demonstrated a proof-of-concept application controller for Azure that let you decide how quickly you needed a particular image to be rendered. you can’t have Outlook. inasmuch 130 PC PRO February 2011 www. Visual Basic for Applications has returned. and the overall performance no longer feels like wading across a mudflat. Of course there are rough edges. In short. Just to clarify something: no. Bundles It was good to see Microsoft research at the PDC. you really want your own farm at your own fingertips. costs and so forth.Real World Computing Advanced Windows rendered. it restores parity to the Mac desktop for Office tasks: the new versions of Word. and for that we should be grateful. For the 2011 version almost everything has been fixed: there’s a native Outlook application. and this is a good thing. being re-targeted toward WP7 and away from the desktop? Microsoft won’t say. However. In Apple’s opinion HTML5 is the future – end of story. as the current HTML5 implementation leaves so much to be desired that it will take some time and a lot of work to flesh it out. but it’s still the core development tool for the new Windows Phone 7 platform. but for those of you who might want to keep Macs at home and Windows in the office. you might expect that Silverlight is to be sidelined. continues to rumble. which can’t afford to maintain a huge computing cluster even though Windows’ excellent HPC (high performance computing) server is pretty cheap per CPU cycle. Having file-level compatibility between the currently shipping versions of Office is too boring to be true. and it’s a great cloud demonstration. This presents a real problem for Microsoft. and one that Microsoft can be proud of. just this Entourage monster that hacks its way into Exchange Server instead.uk . whereas ordered bundles chop up the routes into bundles of varying width. some claim that Microsoft is up to its old tricks already: the support for COM objects on the Windows version of Silverlight means that the Mac version is no longer in sync. It’s developed what’s now a strong development platform and runtime. Companies such as Pixar run several huge computer clusters designed to chomp through this sort of work in reasonable timeframes. this simply isn’t feasible for many mid-sized production houses. and they tend to prefer to keep these facilities in-house. or use HTML5. but it’s difficult to understand. Its claimed adherence to standards means there will be less of the “custom IE” shenanigans we’ve seen in the past. Pixar itself isn’t using Azure today to render its own films. office 11 for macintosh Yes. For Microsoft. but it is likely to offer this service as an additional rendering option for customers of its RenderMan tools. I know this is a Windows column. Silverlight is also a real problem. Do you have custom VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) functions in your documents? Tough. For such organisations. it makes moving things around vastly easier. and make sure you don’t align yourself with one particular platform. because OS X is far less manageable in enterprise environments than Windows 7. a standard sort of rats-nest routing diagram may be easy to draw. However. Want to work against a SharePoint server? Here. wherein anything that couldn’t be finished in time was simply ignored. Well. and there’s no long-term future for anything – just build what works today. First. On the one hand it does look forward to a HTML5 future: the build of IE9 shows that Microsoft is determined to be among the HTML5 leaders this time. Silverlight and a future HTML5 would be enough to make me tear my hair out. Is Pixar’s RenderMan coming to Azure? Maybe. the confusion surrounding Flash. consume and dispose” item. overall Azure is looking stronger. as used in the iPhone and iPad. and nor is it likely to do so in the near future. being able to send out RenderMan tasks onto a farm of hosted servers is a very compelling proposition.pcpro.

Over the past couple of years. it’s clear there’s a landslide going on. best of all. and the crystallisation of real. something’s wrong here.co. plus all the exhibitors. To cut to the chase.048 people. but there are upsides to making this trek: it’s a beautiful city. if you’re still running a server on bare hardware you’d better have a good reason to be doing so. where Apple holds its Worldwide Developers Conference each year and which was such fun back in June. up to the The Moscone Center in San Francisco attracted more than 17. VMware has gone from a company that had a hypervisor and a cluster of interesting management and control technologies to… well. I t’s quite a long way to San Francisco even if you fly direct. but even that realisation wasn’t enough to prepare me for the numbers attending: 17. Did you know that the number of servers running in virtual machines recently overtook the number of servers running on bare hardware? Given that one physical server typically runs a handful of VMs.000 visitors to the recent VMworld 2010 conference. but it’s at Moscone West too! At this point the sheer size of the event began to dawn on me. jon honeyball puts some floWeRs in His HAiR And HeAds to sAn fRAncisco foR tHe vmWoRld confeRence 2010 conference of VMware. and next door is Moscone West. right in the middle of the downtown city. VMware staff and let’s not ignore hundreds or thousands of support staff doing lunches. VMworld isn’t just on in the Moscone Center. called VMworld 2010. very high-end numerical processing.1 back in July 1992. coffees. Back to VMworld.uk .Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball Virtualisation grows up As viRtuAl seRveRs continue tHeiR meteoRic Rise. such as in very high-end database operations. which is the huge underground conference facility just south of Market. there are lots of wonderful hills that I explored this time by embarking on a guided Segway tour. and as I’ve said here before. But hold on. excitement and commitment from the attendees. Whizzing down the zigzag of Lombard on a Segway was such fun that we went round and did it again. But enough of the fun. It really does now stretch all the way from desktop to datacenter and from there onward. because in almost every lesser case virtualisation is the way to go.pcpro. There are still some places where it’s the right answer of course. one of my favourites. I’ll say that again: 17. meaningful plans from this major industry player. I was at home at the Moscone Center. even though it was had on a lone day off that stood in lieu of all my lost weekends.048. something else altogether. and it was significant for two things – the sheer buzz. But I can’t stress that “very high-end” proviso too strongly. This trip to San Francisco was made for a very serious purpose indeed: the 130 PC PRO january 2011 www. Everything just clicked into place. this was the most significant conference I’ve been to since the original Windows PDC for NT 3. its diverse communities are a revelation (where else can you go from hippydom to authentic Chinese within a few blocks?). session management and so forth. and. 3D visualisation and video editing.

whereas a Type 1 hypervisor has less support for hardware-specific drivers and tends to be pickier about the base hardware platform. the focus of your work and attention will be on that OS. but last year’s PDC was down on numbers too. Where is Microsoft in all of this? Well. instead. or Linux. and he’ll also be going to Citrix’s event in Berlin to see where it’s headed. the price jumps to £2. Have some VMware software appliances in there too. it would be fun. plus developing for the iPad Server Room Does putting an old product in a new box make it a new product? cloud. you could argue that a Type 2 hypervisor is far less driver-dependent because it can rely on services provided by the primary boot OS. jOn HOnEyBaLL Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications. co. each running in its own bubble.uk/blogs/ jonhoneyball MokaFive is bringing a desktop Type 1 client hypervisor to market shortly. the primary OS is wafer thin and of no value to you. all the weight is being carried by the primary OS. with the support subscription costing £88. but to make good use of facilities such as VMotion you’ll have spent quite a bit more than that on high-end hardware.co.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office The inexorable rise of VMware. during lunch breaks and around watercoolers. This might seem like quite a sum of money. Each thinks it has full access to the hardware.000 at VMworld against just 1.pcpro.000 at the forthcoming Microsoft Professional Developers Conference. With a Type 1 hypervisor. because it isn’t there for you to work with directly. you’ll normally boot at least one main OS under the control of the hypervisor. which is now looking confident. What’s certainly clear is that a lot of customers have been testing HyperV against VMware and decided to go with the latter. and some www. PDC is limited by the size of the facilities at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond. Email jhoneyball@woodley side. if somewhat cheeky. let me explain what’s meant by a Type 1 and a Type 2 hypervisor. with different vendors meaning different things by the terms. but it’s clear that a lot of customers think that VMware’s approach has validity and that its approach to the cloud – both public and private – is more flexible and controllable than Microsoft’s Azure platform (which some view as “yet another Microsoft lock-in”). and also the VMware Data Recovery capabilities. I said that I wanted a desktop bare-metal hypervisor – known as a Type 1 hypervisor – on which I could then choose to run whatever operating system (or systems) I wanted. you essentially boot a very minimal OS that immediately starts the hypervisor. but it’s abundantly clear that this stuff is now ready for prime time. Then you can start up the hypervisor that runs in the background and offers hypervisor services.co. including VMware. However. This lets you boot whatever OS you want and manage it centrally. or a conventional “desktop”-style hypervisor such as Parallels. The VMware vSphere Essentials Kit will set you back just £337. No-one is suggesting that HyperV is going away or is no longer relevant. To be fair. or a Windows desktop-based hypervisor.uk january 2011 PC PRO 131 . to compare the sizes of their conferences – 17. or something else. but no-one had really got it to gel. and there’s a great deal of excitement about the alternatives. inside which you can start a second or third instance of the OS. Without getting in too deep. Just talking to attendees at the sessions. but can boot secondary and tertiary OSes to do specific jobs. given that such a hypervisor just boots whatever is your chosen OS within a virtual machine. The server side gets stronger too. Contributing editor Steve Cassidy may be attending the VMworld conference in Copenhagen to get his take on these issues. well rounded and ready for deployment. Think of the advantages of booting a VM on the desktop if you are using a Type 1 hypervisor.pcpro. I just love its agnostic approach to what’s running inside its VMs: put in Windows Server. and you can quit the hypervisor and all of its other OS sessions to return to just that primary OS. So what is the advantage of having a Type 1 hypervisor on a desktop machine? Well. At that time a few vendors. bare-metal hypervisor Some months ago. The firm’s desktop strategy runs right down to a full virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) implementation. Choose the right tool for the job. hardware compatibility and who provides which level of functionality. These definitions – like most things to do with virtualisation and “cloud” – are somewhat murky. the original main OS you booted is still the primary OS. for which you get licences for three dualprocessor servers. There’s an issue about drivers. and it isn’t something you’ll ever really interact with. SAN (storage area network) and fast network capabilities required to make it work well. You won’t care about the very thin hypervisor OS boot layer. This very small OS is little more than a bootstrap loader put there purely to get the hypervisor up and running. With a Type 2 hypervisor you work mostly in the primary OS. A Type 2 hypervisor is what happens when you run VMware Fusion on your Mac laptop or desktop. you boot the main OS of the machine and do your work in that. Before going any further. Have a mixture of platforms according to the needs of your business. plus speaking to Windows 7 Web Applications Some simple – and free – tips to get to the top of the search rankings 136 139 142 Open Source Networks We reveal the best JavaScript toolkits for adding panache to your website 145 148 151 130 133 Online Security The new malware threat that’s straight out of a Bond film Why Hyper-Threading is no substitute for a real processor Does the new LibreOffice suite mean the end of the road for OpenOffice? Mobile & Wireless Some favourite Wi-Fi tools. were working on such a product. With a Type 1 hypervisor. The hypervisor boots and presents you with a list of VMs that it can start up. Essentially.660 for the vSphere Essentials Plus kit. If you want to add in the VMotion and High Availability facilities. It’s easiest to think in terms of functionality.uk or read his blog at www. so you must always boot a secondary OS inside the hypervisor to do any work. it became clear that Microsoft’s hope for an easy win just isn’t happening. and you choose one or more to run simultaneously. while the pricing has had a welcome rejig.

Maybe it should come with a set of handcuffs to keep your typing and mouse fingers from straying? Or maybe that’s just a little too weird to think about on a Thursday lunchtime. “yes. For talking to Windows 7 it’s excellent because the close-proximity microphone cuts out a lot of background noise. Others will follow. Both were getting full hypervisor support. and this is something you should be keeping an eye on too. where someone senior from Microsoft Research gave a demonstration of speech recognition. you’re not going to want to do photo editing in Photoshop using voice control. shouldn’t it? Well I’m tempted to say. but busting the hegemony of Windows booting natively on the hardware is a tough pill for Microsoft to swallow. yes. I’d love a coffee – white with one sugar. A headset is probably your best bet. For example. But it hasn’t. if you say. Clearly. Now wrap some management tools around this that allow central administrators to manage the VM packages on your laptop. A whole new machine can be delivered to the laptop from central IT management just by copying in the relevant VM file. including driver support and so forth. spend your money on Dragon’s products. Windows 7 speech recognition “Thanks. Very little configuration is required once you’ve gone through the tutorials. I’m really tempted to say that. third or fourth to run at the same time. because it’s utterly amazing. you get the benefit of running a VM and the ability to take the machine offline. so you can boot Windows and bring it up full screen just as if Windows itself had booted from your hard disk in a native fashion. You might want to boot native Windows on the hardware. or have a Type 1 hypervisor (with its attendant thin OS layer) boot and then have the user choose which VM they want to start up. which comes in at around £40. I can’t understand why more people don’t use the speech recognition feature in Windows 7. a red LED at the tip of the microphone so you know when it’s live and volume controls as well. It has a mute button on the headset for the microphone. I think everyone should try out the speech recognition in Windows 7. this simply comes down to practice. Let’s say this tool is very clever and allows the system administrator to slipstream differences to each VM on each desktop or laptop machine. which makes it disappointing for listening to music. I’m sure. one doing complex 3D graphics in Windows. please. MokaFive was demonstrating this solution running on a laptop with two VMs running at the same time.pcpro. though.” Oops. and both were running at amazing speeds. the headphone quality is pretty poor. but I’m going to be watching the MokaFive product as it goes through beta. it’s booted from within a VM. It’s extremely powerful and has no hint of that “nice. But don’t underestimate the power of what you can do with it. Best of all.uk . Of course. but lacking in power features” quality that’s so often found in bundled free software. sorry – I’ve left the microphone running live and it’s decided to transcribe everything I’ve been saying here. From a user’s point of view. The quality of recognition is simply amazing. as the system takes on a level of contextual cleverness that you really didn’t expect. preferably on some sort of a headset arrangement. So I was fascinated to see a company called MokaFive offering this technology at VMworld. which is an absolute necessity for a laptop. uses a single USB socket for everything and integrates nicely into the sound and microphone settings of Windows 7. Type 1 hypervisors even have 3D graphics support too. Here we are ten years later. Sound like nirvana? Well. a chocolate digestive biscuit is tempting. the other running business productivity applications. cleaner OS is to virtualise the old stuff into VMs and allow the user to decide how much containment they want to apply to their applications and operating systems. I’ve said before that the escape route from Windows to a newer. Let’s roll back ten years or so to a Microsoft Developers Conference. then start a Type 2 hypervisor and bring up a VM in a window. and it requires only a short training period. the thin. it’s free and built into Windows 7. On the downside. Of course. I remember him saying then that it was about 95% accurate and improving at half a per cent per annum. tinny and coloured sound was something of a letdown. In essence. you need to learn some new commands to control the program. I’m sure there are many issues to consider. so it should now be perfect. All you need is a decent microphone. In the end. No. Things such as “New Paragraph” and so forth are obvious. it is”. but the application manipulation commands take a bit more time and effort. Existing files can be slipstream patched and updated. But because each laptop is booting from the VMs that have been provisioned to it. but you have to avoid the temptation to keep reaching for the mouse. though. This is where it becomes almost spooky. Its tools are happy to work with Type 1 or 2 hypervisors. I bought the Logitech ClearChat Pro USB headset. it’s a package and management tool. but it has few problems with me gabbling at a faster rate than I usually manage. It’s logical and easy to learn. What’s really magical is the way it remembers what you’ve just said and knows how to go back and find something. DRagOn If you want even more powerful speech recognition. you don’t need to tell the cursor to go back a number of words to “cat”: the system knows where the last instance of the word “cat” is located. unless you really have no other choice. “The cat sat on the mat” and then “change cat to sausage”.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Windows speech allows you to choose what type of mic you use. They can return to this shell via a hotkey and choose a second. though. because it’s stunningly good. 132 PC PRO january 2011 www. it does help if you employ “received pronunciation” so that your voice sounds like a BBC announcer.co. Surely there have to be some downsides? Well. Frankly. it does to me. It allows for central management and deployment of VMs to each desktop and laptop. and you can also choose which hypervisor engine you want to use. To me this is a logical step. but not good for my svelte figure. depending on RAM availability. which aren’t free but are even more powerful and worth every penny. their laptop boots into a front-end shell from which they can choose which VM to boot.

as does Meridian. I remember very clearly the arrival of compact discs nearly 30 years ago.uk/blogs/jonhoneyball the way you could use an eye-height pattern view to calibrate its optics for best playback clarity. However. so our incremental rate of music purchases was already at a fairly low point. and I can route it around the house. Hence. please be aware that everything I’m about to describe actually took place in Stuttgart. which is fairly depressing when you consider just how clever the CD format was all those years ago. dust and scratches. Take the way its 16-bit sample was split into two 8-bit samples and then encoded using EFM (Eight-to-Fourteen) modulation because of the limitations of the laser employed – its pits and bumps mustn’t change too quickly because of the upper frequency limit of said laser. Naim still makes CD players. I decided it was time to transfer all my music to a hard disk since it’s so much more convenient: I can transfer it from there to an iPod and use it in my car or on flights. the D50.pcpro.uk . Today. strictly speaking. Before I go any further I ought to remind you that. The easiest method is to use a software package such as iTunes and pop the discs into your computer one by one: the software will then rip their contents to the hard disk in the prescribed format. So. out pops the disc and you put in The dBpoweramp ripping engine has a full robotic section that works perfectly with the Primera Disc Publisher Pro Xi2.uk or read his blog at www. Or again. There are many ways of ripping an audio CD to hard disk. and I’ll never forget my sheer mental bogglement at the sight of Sony’s first Discman player. The writing is on the wall: the future is digital purchase and download. and nor must they change too slowly. look up all the artist and track metadata online. otherwise the laser would simply lose track of them. where you’re allowed to rip your CDs to disk for your own personal use. But even so. There’s currently no provision that legalises such acts of sheer wickedness. the principle of CD was sound in so many meanings of the word.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball Ripped by robot Jon honeyball bids fAReWell to tHe compAct disc As He finAlly finds A WAy to Rip His cd collection to pc WitHout constAntly Running up And doWn tHe stAiRs C D is one of those audio formats that makes me go slightly misty-eyed. and many formats to choose from.co. from which it will never recover. the market for CDs has taken a battering. At the high end of the UK hi-fi market. However. Putting your hands on any type of rotating plastic disc feels vaguely silly these days. Linn stopped making CD players some while ago to concentrate on network streaming devices. Email jhoneyball@woodley side. once you’d stuffed it with enough AA batteries to keep it going for a few hours). under a law known as Provision 53. time moves on. and even find an image of the cover art for you.pcpro. consider JON HONEYBALL Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications. co. and most electronics manufacturers have stopped making CD players altogether. many of us still have huge collections of CDs containing music that we really like and keep returning to. This gadget required a battery pack that was of a just plain silly size (and weight. A few minutes later. like many other people. Or take the way in which RS (Reed-Solomon) encoding was applied to distribute the signal so that it was far more robust against optical reading errors. but it isn’t clear how long either will continue to do so. It’s different in Germany. ripping your CDs to hard disk is still illegal in the UK.co. 132 PC PRO dECEmBEr 2010 www.

WAV is actually proprietary to Microsoft. but is designed for duplication of CDs and DVDs. this really wasn’t a viable solution. or you keep a stack of discs on the desk and drop a new one in whenever you’re passing. I decided to use the FLAC file format. then fire up www. Some of these services also looked decidedly dodgy. for example. In essence.500 discs to process. The answer was becoming clearer the more I looked: I was going to have a shopping accident that would severely damage my credit card. A web search uncovered a number of businesses that offered to perform the whole process for a fee. dBpoweramp can perform the optical equivalent of scouring the disc surface in an attempt to recover as much information as possible. It understands that different CD/DVD drives work in slightly different ways and can compensate for these differences. It means you’re either chained to your computer for the whole day. An experiment using my Windows computer in the office at home revealed that the effort of running up and down the stairs each time I needed to put in a new disc resulted in about two discs getting ripped per day.co.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office How to rip a large CD collection to your PC the easy way Web Applications We examine WebMatrix. Getting the software up and running wasn’t particularly difficult. But the real treat comes from dBpoweramp’s support for robotic ripping engines: dBpoweramp’s developer recommends the multiple drive devices from Primera. It can automatically hook up to online music metadata databases too. dBpoweramp can also drive this device in the reverse direction. not coincidentally. The Primera comes with its own software. although it felt slightly bitty in some areas: you certainly need to understand how its batch ripper engine is different from its main ripper tool. However. and getting into shape with Visio Mobile & Wireless Is Apple’s iPad just a rich kid’s toy or a viable business tool? Server Room A sneak preview of Microsoft’s new Small Business Server edition I decided to use the FLAC file format. and I could easily imagine my beloved CD collection – as well as my cash – disappearing into a white van. This is fine in theory. it offers a facility whereby your freshly ripped file can be checksummed and the result compared against those of lots of other users who’ve ripped the same song: if you obtain the same checksum then you can be sure your file is just the same as theirs. It’s important to understand that Disc Publisher isn’t a ripping engine. It also prints a full-colour label on the disc if you’ve filled it with paper-coated blank discs. given that it’s open source and so less likely to be vulnerable to lawyers another one. never to be seen again. and logic suggests that this was therefore a good rip and one that can be trusted. Microsoft’s latest foray into the web design market 138 141 144 Open Source Networks A Linux-based project to provide an open-source GSM network 147 150 154 132 135 Online Security How do price comparison websites compare when it comes to security? Steve Cassidy cooks up a storm with the NDAS network architecture Fixing hyperlinks in Excel. A further internet search revealed that the best software to use for CD ripping is a package called dBpoweramp. and how one calls the other. so I was fairly confident it would work well.pcpro. Soon I came staggering away from the predicted shopping accident and a brand-new Primera Disc Publisher Pro Xi2 was sitting on my Tyrolean-style desk in Stuttgart.uk dECEmBEr 2010 PC PRO 133 . a program that forms part of PC Pro’s benchmarks). dBpoweramp’s developer has even written its own driver software for Disc Publisher. The FLAC format meant I’d be able to create a compressed but bit-perfect master rip of each track and then use the dBpoweramp software to transcode this into any other formats. I might require: for my iTunes and iPod. and it supports just about every audio file format under the sun. using it to suck data from its pair of DVD writer drives back to the computer via a single USB2 cable. but given the number of discs involved that wasn’t going to be pocket money. If a particular disc is damaged. a flexible and powerful product that allows you to make a huge number of twiddly adjustments to the music data (and. Given that I have around 2. given that it’s open source and so less likely to be vulnerable to the whims of The Primera Disc Publisher Pro enables you to rip up to 50 CDs at a time. you load around 50 CDs into one tray holder in the Primera box. it would make sense for that to be Apple Lossless. Better still. complete with spelling error! hormonally challenged lawyers in the future (after all. but the reality is somewhat more awkward. while Lossless AAC belongs to Apple).

since it would be useful to rip the content from my DVDs to hard disk too. with a certain amount of UI clunkiness to contend with. Okay. In the meantime. if I remember rightly. It’s worth setting up the system so the output pile is kept in the same order as the input pile. you press the big Rip button and stand back in awe as its robotic arm trundles across. at first glance. picks the top disc off the input pile. Will it Fly? Is Windows Phone 7 going to make any impact on the smartphone market? Before my recent fondling of a sample device I confess to feeling very negative.Real World Computing Advanced Windows dBpoweramp’s Batch Ripper for Windows and do a calibration of the drives. By lunchtime I can unload this first batch. At this rate I’ll have the whole lot done in a month or so. or else go for a more conventional file-sharing NAS device – that’s a decision still to be made. especially when you consider that it’s basically just a pair of DVD burners. but the consequences of failure are truly terrifying and heads would really roll. I fear it will become weighed down by the usual Microsoft lock-in nonsense: Bing. pcpro. The way in which it uses a data-centric rather than an application-centric user interface is novel and has. Frankly. sort out any rejects. watching it perform its disc- dBpoweramp includes powerful tools for handling disc errors. The disc is examined. load up 50 of them and let it run all morning. dbpoweramp.pcpro. All will depend upon how well Microsoft can introduce each new feature to the emerging platform.com for the ripping software and www. which isn’t a problem beyond the fact that those discs will end up in the wrong order on the output spindle. and it truly is revolutionary in the way it brings data to life on your phone. Maybe I’ll use the forthcoming new version of Windows Home Server. I can now decide what sort of devices I want to use around my office and house for playback. so I have great confidence in the dedication of the developer.co. it’s a priceless piece of theatrical nonsense that mesmerises people 134 PC PRO dECEmBEr 2010 www. I’d rather have a BlackBerry or an iPhone over a Windows Phone 7 device at the moment. That said. and the data for each disc is happily stored away on the host controlling computer. a few other useful settings are worth tweaking too. a great deal to commend it. but it’s a low-volume niche product and I know I will find other uses for it in the future. and load up another batch for the afternoon. which then become available for use. And when the whole system is running it’s a priceless piece of theatrical nonsense that causes people to stand around mesmerised. many of its features will be missing from the first release and I’m far from convinced about the seriousness of this device as a business platform.primera.x devices that are sitting on my desk here can testify. All right. Using this system I can carry a whole box full of CDs into my (German) office every morning. But it was fascinating to finally try out one of these devices. this new stuff only works on the latest version”. He slid it across the table and finally I had my mitts on a Windows Phone 7 device. a robotic arm and the printing engine from a Lexmark printer. including where you want the data to be placed and in what logical folder structures. though. I admit I’ve embroidered this a little.uk . which causes the equivalent of an M25 pile-up that requires manual intervention to untangle. Then I might look into whether there’s any DVD-ripping software that can control a robotic device such as the Primera. you choose which file formats you want. There may be a little bug there.co. from what I’ve read. and a chap from Microsoft UK had brought one with him.uk/ links/194wp7 When the whole system is running. “Was für ein wunderbares Gerät!” (“What a wonderful device!”) they exclaim. Even an unpleasant Palm device was preferable to this monstrosity. I’ll admit that my love affair with Windows Mobile fizzled out many years ago. Microsoft has a miserable history of providing updates to its customers. to make it all available for a video-on-demand solution. But Windows Phone 7 is very different indeed. check out www. A number of friends were meeting up for our regular #ITTU Twitter pub get-together. Very occasionally. Next. Any flavour so long as it’s Toasted Redmond. but it’s fairly straightforward once you get your head around what’s happening. except when you come to put the discs in their cases. the arm picks up the disc and drops it into an output spindle. and sincerely wish that its developers and its end users will be permitted enough configuration freedom to make it into a personalised and personable device. and usually with an out-of-spec CD. at which point I’ll probably pass it on to a friend. back in the era when Compaq was still making such devices. microsoft might just pull this off. My tech support query was answered within 12 minutes. which then closes. This wonderfully choreographed ballet continues until the Primera has ripped all 50 discs. A few caveats are in order. This isn’t a big deal. That simply has to change if the Windows Phone 7 platform is to take off. or if it was bad. juggling and waiting for each disc to get ripped so they can see it grab another during its unload/load cycle. and Gehen Sie glücklich alles! Windows Phone 7 I was sitting in a pub in High Holborn last week when a dodgy-looking geezer sidled over to me and muttered “Pssst! Want to try a Windows Phone 7 mobile?”. and then this device will have done its job. It’s clear a lot of thinking has gone into its design. visit www. This process is repeated over and over: when the first disc is done the tray opens. Finally. The hardware wasn’t cheap. so the developer is looking into it. its metadata downloaded from the internet. Nor is the software easy to understand. but now I feel more neutral. com for the robotic hardware. and the arm goes off and grabs a second disc for the second drive. it’s possible for the drive that’s ripping the singles to get ahead of the drive that’s ripping an album. Bing and more Bing. To see it in action. as the two dead Windows Mobile 6. and drops it into an available and waiting DVD drive. Everything done The Microsoft Way. If you happen to be ripping a mixture of CD albums and singles. the reality wasn’t quite so cloak and dagger. I hope not. without sinking back into its old trick of saying – in a sighing Basil Fawlty voice – “Oh no! You have that version. the system can become confused and pick up a couple of CDs at once. on to a reject pile. it’s easier to have them in the same order as they were input. Then it fetches another disc. Having transferred everything to hard disk and available to be transcoded into whatever formats I want. which required you to employ a toothpick to navigate its arcane desktop-orientated user interface.

uk or read his blog at www. And this isn’t an extra cost on top of the normal Intune service. Sound good? It is. JON HONEYBALL Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications. Well.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball Intune with Windows Jon Honeyball Asks tHe difficult questions of WindoWs intune. is simple: store data in the cloud about your computers. Even better. An unlimited number of client computers can be managed through the Intune service. add in the time dimension. and allow end users to make tech-support calls to the manager too. which I’ve ranted about here all too often. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to upgrade all your existing desktop machines to Windows 7 Enterprise too? Far too many SMEs are still running an eclectic collection of different Windows versions on their machines. Hence my interest in Windows Intune. but the Easy Assist is important. multi-account version too. You don’t have to rush to Windows 7 Enterprise – keep as many machines running XP and Vista as you need and then upgrade at your own pace.pcpro. through the cloud console. Despite all this.co. with lots of Windows XP and Vista sprayed liberally around the organisation. which will become available as a full cloud service shortly. Intune includes a full set of malware and antivirus technologies. updates and so forth. so that ensuring everything is up to date is made easy and can be remotely managed. I t can be far too easy to knock Microsoft for being stuck in a business model that depends upon two great cash cows – namely. or some malware code came down through the web browser and onto their computer. Windows and Office – and we tend to spread on an extra thick layer of cynicism when it comes to its “cloud” offerings. Then allow a manager. Intune gives you upgrade rights to Windows 7 Enterprise for each machine. so that this manager can see what’s happened and when to each machine. co. but that’s only the start. assuming their hardware specification is capable of supporting Windows 7. And eAgeRly AnticipAtes MicRosoft’s AnsWeR to tHe ipAd To make it more interesting.uk/blogs/ jonhoneyball An unlimited number of client computers can be managed through this cloud-based service www. the manager can work out when something changes on one of the PCs – maybe a user tried to install something. is pAined by Activesync. Email jhoneyball@woodley side. And don’t get me started on the subject of territoriality of user data. it’s clear there are some very bright people working at Redmond to solve the real issues affecting businesses today. to manage those PCs. errors. especially in the SME arena.uk 130 PC PRO NOvEmBEr 2010 .pcpro. so if you’re a support consultancy company you can use this solution to manage all the desktops at your customers’ sites. their status.co. and there will even be a multi-site. but is built into the subscription price. and add to that more data about the applications that are installed. based on well-respected existing Microsoft technologies. The background to this product. Want to set up remote diagnostics and a helpdesk? How Windows Intune – there isn’t much to see on the client side.

Of course. a price tag for all this functionality. Basically my install went fine. Client tools are downloaded onto each computer and there are expert tools for diagnosing and repairing each client computer. all alike. remote updating and so forth. It also focuses heavily on fault-finding and fixing – for example. Of course. my experience does highlight a potential weakness in any cloud-based management tool: you have to rely upon both working connectivity and no problems at the cloud end – which are beyond your control – to ensure this type of solution is workable. The design here allows a parent to set up and manage all the computers within a household. after a reboot I can’t log in and the website takes me on a trip though a long set of winding passages. However. and although the UK pricing hasn’t been announced yet. Many of these “autofixing” abilities have been built into Windows 7 itself. It must be some sort of authentication glitch. per month in the US.pcpro. It will be fascinating to see what the service level agreement amounts to in practice for remote solutions of this type. For this you get the entire package of desktop reporting. of course. fault finding. So Intune could work alongside a centralised System Center installation if you wanted it to. support for the malware and AV solutions. which is why it’s working on a smaller solution called Microsoft Fix It. but it also means you dictate the speed of recovery. And what about multiple layers of Help support. upgrade or fixing. and home network management tools too. the client-side control tools were downloaded and it all worked fine. can you afford not to have something like this in place? It will be interesting to see how Intune affects the SME marketplace for antivirus. simple and straightforward offering would be welcome here. and David Moss goes green about letting your users call a centralised management helpdesk that enables remote control of machines and full diagnostics? Yes. that’s in the package too. Such a clean. and can report that much work still needs to be done in the authentication and login area for administrators. Microsoft thinks so too. So the question is. Surely there’s a downside? Well.co. This is a similar idea: a web-based management console that’s fed from a cloud-based management reporting solution. the value you get from Intune will depend on how much you use it and the time it saves you. while Vodafone’s Sure Signal divides opinion Server Room Jon Honeyball talks SQL Server Licensing. that means the majority. but it’s useful to be able to run them against older versions of Windows too. and it begins to look very compelling indeed. There is. Clearly it would be fun to have a cut-down version of Intune for the home network. per month. not forgetting those licence upgrades to Windows 7 Enterprise for each desktop. www. the product will be aimed at those SMEs that have no real desktop management tools in place – and frankly. the accounts were created. This isn’t surprising given how much benefit it provides to an organisation to get their old servers migrated to VMs and under some sort of managed control – desktops are usually a lower priority and can come along later. Microsoft has plenty of time to fix it. If you already have a full-blown Microsoft System Center infrastructure. ActiveSync and Microsoft’s answer to the iPad Web Applications Knowing when to call in the cavalry and when to just go it alone 136 139 142 Open Source Networks A real-world look at the many bug reporting packages on the market 145 148 152 130 133 Online Security Would mandatory reporting of security breaches make the world a safer place? London’s O2 Arena is rocked by some seriously heavy metal It’s fun and games as Simon Jones updates his development environment Mobile & Wireless Paul Ockenden switches phones. this product isn’t for you. Add in the multi-site capabilities for facilities management support companies.uk NOvEmBEr 2010 PC PRO 131 . and are progressed through to the scarcer and more expensive experts only if the problem justifies it? Yes. changed and updated. and have been slow in deploying all of this out to the desktops too. Let’s call it £8 per desktop. keeping everything on your own site makes you responsible for every component. Or maybe you’ve gone for System Center in order to do server and VM management. How will it work in practice? Well there’s a beta version you can sign up to today: I’ve done this. because Intune won’t be launched until the beginning of next year. Nevertheless. I can see it being very effective for many organisations: it lowers the cost bar down so much that there really is no excuse not to have centralised management running in your office. “Diagnose Microsoft Fix It for the home users – onmachine. so that easy calls can be taken by the tech-support juniors. it will cost $11 per desktop.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office Windows Intune. solving problems like “Your CD/DVD drive cannot read or write media”. you can do that too. malware and basic management Intune will be aimed at SMEs that have no desktop management tools in place – that means the majority software. and to see what’s installed. I could see it making significant inroads at the expense of other vendors in this product space. Bundle in the Windows 7 Enterprise upgrade rights and the package is lifted to another level.

The issue today is working out which phones and packages will sync fully to Exchange Server. and whether the apps can be tweaked enough. Enabling VPNs that time out is just the start of it. A truly touch-optimised tablet with 12-hour battery life. or maybe not. things become worse as you move across the table of supported platforms.1. Apple iPhone/iPod 4.50. And therein lies the core of my concern. the huge library of existing Windows apps mean nothing if they don’t run well on a touch-based tablet. for a home user this level of information and hand-holding could well be as useful as “phone a friend”. you can imagine my delight at discovering the “Comparison of Exchange ActiveSync Clients” page on Wikipedia.5 platforms.5 and AstraSync 4. but there are some significant holes. things have become better in recent times. instant on/off and so forth is asking for miracles at every stage of the design process. The iPad delivers all of this in spades.0. Notify Sync 4.4. and it only works because of some code squatting somewhere along the chain that makes your Notes server look like an Exchange Server. so we go from ActiveSync 2. so I fear the worst but hope for the best. Fix It and Intune. but will be visiting various divisions at Redmond while I’m there.1 and 6. I lost count of the times when it refused to sync. they have to be fabulous. and cloud. Nokia Mail for Exchange 3. which had a lightweight. POP3 and SMTP and move into esoteric sync platforms for server-side line-of-business apps such as Exchange Server. I might even be able to do some podcasting too. I’m hoping to attend. My targets are Windows client. These aren’t just prescriptive Help pages. This being the case. coupled to its version of Exchange Server. but as the screen resolutions have increased the usefulness of the pen interface has become less and less. and that these will be different from existing pen-driven tablets because they’ll be touchscreen-based like Apple’s iPad. Back in the days when I ran a Windows Mobile device as my day-to-day phone.2. you don’t get free upgrades to Windows 7 Enterprise as with Intune. It will be held at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond for only two days. which is directly linked to the Wiki site run by Microsoft and so is intended to be both complete and correct.7.2. Yes. What an eye-opener this page has been: it clearly explains a number of painful points that I’ve seen at clients’ networks over the years. Windows Phone 6. are definitely worth taking a look at.1. Actually. Of course. Fix It is free and targets all Windows versions since XP Service Pack 3. you can’t do Password Recovery on an Android phone? Or set a policy for maximum attachment size. Does it matter that. Pdc 2010 There will be a PDC (Professional Developers Conference) in 2010 – but it will be like none that have gone before. the greatest number of green “yes” entries appear next to the Windows Mobile 6. but it’s been a far from painless journey. Google Android 2. or died during 132 PC PRO NOvEmBEr 2010 www. I hope Microsoft can put some innovative thinking into this platform.1 with Exchange Server 2010 SP1. is as soon as you move outside the standardsbased world of IMAP. or just threw a tantrum and forgot the phone entirely. and have exceptional battery life. This is a multi-dimensional brain explosion that needs some clarification. Running across the top of this monster table is a list of phones and connection software: Windows Mobile 6. a stunning screen.000 attendees. if only to ensure that system administrators know which thing will work with what phone and which connecting software. Caption here please caption here please Windows tablets Mr Ballmer has announced that Windows tablets will be arriving soon. and Microsoft desperately needs to come up with a credible answer to it. There’s no mention of Windows Phone 7. switch instantly on and off. I’ve been impressed and. you can be entering a whole world of pain. with significant gaps on Google Android 2. but there’s a huge chasm between “can” and “will”. Apple doesn’t do too badly.0.uk .co. It’s said that it will be using Windows 7 as the base OS for the new tablet. Microsoft certainly can do this.5. exchange activesync ActiveSync is one of those technologies that has caused me more heartache than just about any other. linked from Microsoft’s own new Wiki. though. although not perfect. Palm WebOS 1. Since then I’ve gone through various models of tablet PC. or encrypt its storage card? Maybe. and it will be restricted to 1. Exchange ActiveSync compatibility on Wikipedia – a very useful resource. depends on your organisation. I’ve been running pen-driven versions of Windows for some 20 years now – there were pen extensions to Windows 3 (for those with very long memories) and my first tablet computer was the Compaq Concerto back in 1992. detachable keyboard. but are a set of active tools that run on your PC that know what areas to check. we demand a great deal from a true tablet computer: it must be light. which makes sense – it can be moulded to fit the hardware requirements. but it’s a huge unknown as to how well its user interface can be modified to support touch in a solid fashion. I don’t want to use a mouse orientated/pen-supporting version of Excel that’s just been bodged to work with touch. Do all these “no” entries really matter? Well it depends on how much of your desktop Outlook experience you’re trying to put onto the phone. but what do you expect for a free solution from Microsoft? Both products. a sync. for example.Real World Computing Advanced Windows and fix problems with sound and audio” and “Common system maintenance tasks”. Who knows. and now the only problem will be to get users to actually try these solutions before they phone a friend. but I’m sure it will appear shortly. And it isn’t just Exchange Server: a good friend who works for IBM showed me the hoops you have to jump through to get an iPhone to sync with Lotus Notes. Wikid! It’s a really good thing that microsoft is using this Wiki idea to push out useful information into the public domain in an easy-to-find fashion via Wikipedia. What’s clear. Unfortunately.1. Down the left-hand side is each version of Active Sync. more of this please.5 with Exchange Server 2003 SP2 through to ActiveSync 14. and that’s before a bunch of independent hardware vendors have managed to splodge all their misguided nonsense onto the device too. for example. server management. server and virtualisation. Pen support is more prevalent than you might think in Windows 7.pcpro. As you’d expect. thin.

to come full circle. although the HTML Hairdressing world seems to love them and the more the merrier.uk/blogs/ jonhoneyball for dynamic. Email jhoneyball@woodley side.pcpro. co. But now for the reality check – just how many such sites have actually been built? Almost none I fear.naimaudio. of course. there are many different reasons for this tardiness in upgrading – some businesses wrote web applications that took advantage of IE6-specific features. Of course. but I only really started to take notice again upon the arrival of IE8. why use Flash for your static content and thus render your page unviewable on those platforms? It’s madness. WitH tHAt in mind. there’s a really big change. And pondeRs FAmily secuRity T he arrival of the third beta of Internet Explorer 9 is a significant step forward. It’s hard to raise much sympathy for them. interactive sites to be built that were fully connected through to serious data stores. hard reality is that Flash is mainly a tool for those who wish to create annoying scrolling banner adverts. and there’s still a fair number of horrid old IE6 installations lurking out there on people’s computers. it seems to take over large wodges of my desktop space for no real benefit. but Microsoft shares some of the blame for this situation by promoting something that in hindsight is a bit silly. static graphic images: check out the “World Class Sound” title at www. Yes. Personally. IE7 was a bit of an improvement. I’m no longer much of a fan of IE8 either.uk . and the end result is a mishmash of displays from the various different web browsers.com for an example of Flash being used just to put a font onto a static graphic. finding its UI somewhere between plain confusing and downright impenetrable. while there’s a serious push towards adopting HTML5.co. So. along came a new web standard called HTML5. and that many of us run Flash blockers in our PC web browsers. That said. contributing to the insecurity of the internet.pcpro. and ensure that different browsers render the same code in the same way. I think Apple is absolutely right to want to keep Flash off its hardware platforms.co. Just to be clear. but it’s hard to dodge the issue entirely given the political venom injected into it by Steve Jobs. and one for which Microsoft should be applauded. though. there are no excuses this time round. With IE9. The cold. Worse still. which is after all about Windows. Each browser vendor has decided to implement its own particular version of the standards.uk or read his blog at www. there are some stunning Flash-based websites out there. Worse still. there’s no point).Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball IE9 and HTML5 FAiluRe is moRe HonouRAble iF you’ve tRied. IE is one of those products that I’ve disliked for years: its earlier versions were prone to all sorts of nasty security issues. but it’s clearly some kind of an effort to make a more secure and robust IE platform. At that time I agreed that this step opened up a huge opportunity JON HONEYBALL Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications. pop-unders and pop-in-your-face distractions. What’s wrong with a simple bitmap. and that’s the move up to HTML5. So with HTML5 we have the opportunity for web browser authors to finally get their collective acts together. pop-overs. Now I’d rather not get embroiled in the frankly rather pointless HTML5-versus-Flash argument in this column. which isn’t an acceptable way forward and the public is frankly fed up with this sort of nonsense. Jon Honeyball HAils tHe Html5 Revolution. Flash is being used ever more frequently by lazy web designers as a stand-in tool for what should be simple. and indeed readers may recall my enthusiasm a few years ago when Adobe finally tied together Flash as a front-end to grown-up databases as the back end. Anyway. like the ones you used further down the same page? Given that we now know Flash isn’t going to be allowed onto Apple’s iPhones and iPads any time soon. and so now find themselves cemented into a cul-de-sac. the major vendors are of course playing a 122 PC PRO OCtOBEr 2010 www. Now I’ll confess that I’m somewhat cynical when it comes to web standards. the end result has always seemed in practice to be unsatisfying in a “cake-halfbaked” sort of way. which is why I run a Flash blocker on all my web browsers – I can see the frame where a Flash object belongs and then decide whether to activate it myself (most of the time. chaps. condemns FAcebook. While I admire the intention behind this technology that allows the same codebase to run on diverse target hardware. pop-ups.

NO. carefully concocting demo pages that may or may not load in their opponents’ browsers. and mourning Windows Essential Business Server Hardware-accelerated fish in HTML5 on IE9. It has to be the right way to Windows parental controls It was one of those discussions that could only be held in a pub. well-tiddled group of IT geeks was discussing the next decade. rather than watching it vanish down the plughole thanks to an onslaught of Flash-hosted advertising banners and widgets. Of course. Simon Jones saves the day Mobile & Wireless Paul Ockenden looks at a few of his favourite things Server Room Firewalls on desktops. But it isn’t for me. move forward. thank you. game of corporate willy waving. Period. watch the whole damning mess. although I note that while IE9 renders the test page beautifully. where the boss and founder of Facebook is interviewed? I’ll leave you to find the URL and watch it for yourself. and how many of the big efforts came to naught. IE8 makes something of a dog’s dinner of the layout. No. and every step forward that the HTML5 engineers take in the various browser engineering teams is a step backward for Flash. IE8 has problems with the IE9 font test pages.uk OCtOBEr 2010 PC PRO 123 . because it means I can keep my Flash-blockers in place and maximise the battery life of my laptop. and which required at least three pints all round. you’re wrong!” and “Whose round is it anyway?” I was asked “what was my biggest IT regret of the last decade?” and I pondered for a moment whether to say the lack of true innovation on the Windows client platform over that decade. I trotted out a long list of acronyms: the three pillars of Vista. which is quite something. this nonsense needs to stop. and TechEd 2010 in New Orleans When Microsoft Word acts up. Within hours I’d terminated my account. and we need to see just what will work on each platform. it’s time you heard about DNSSEC The benefits of “teaming” on a network. and a serving rate of 1.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office Jon Honeyball gets started with HTML5 but finishes with Facebook Web Applications Searching for a simple alternative to content management systems 128 131 134 Open Source Networks Musings on the world of open source and the changing nature of business 137 140 144 122 125 Online Security If you care about online security. Our merry. It’s rather rare – since the glory days of Gerald Ratner – to witness such a successful job of destroying public confidence in your company by a CEO. Any company that screws around with its privacy settings so blatantly and in such an immature fashion isn’t a company I wish to engage with. Frankly. but please don’t opt for just the highlights. You can download the beta of IE9 from http:// ie.pcpro. the wheels are starting to come off the whole cloud computing bandwagon now that grown-ups are getting involved in the decision-making processes. Having done that. I’ve said it before and will repeat it again. But this is the best opportunity we’ve had for a long time to get things to work together in a coherent fashion. any thoughts I might have had of putting any data onto Facebook vanished over the hill. never to return. and the use of graphics card hardware acceleration.com/testdrive and it’s worth having a look at it. Most impressive in this new release is the addition of the Canvas element. and then the inevitable finger pointing. Which is just fine by me. facebook finish Have you seen the astonishing video from the recent D8 conference.2 million photos per second. which clearly this must be so given the stunning statistics – 570 billion page views per month. www. 3 billion photo uploads per month. none of this will matter until all the major browsers are released with support for HTML5. For font lovers the introduction of Web Open Font Format support is welcome. wailing and blame game will start all over again.microsoft. Even my rather tired three-year-old HP desktop machine can manage 100 simultaneous fish at 50 frames per second. How many can you keep?. It’s fine as a platform for teenagers to natter to each other. in that intellectual and balanced way that involved lots of shouting of “no.co.

while others seem to major more on violence and political reporting. some download and install onto your desktop. so there really is no excuse for not having this already. The parental control items I just described are on a per machine basis. to control the applications that can be run. let me repeat that. really stuck in my throat. the way in which family computing was torpedoed by the Windows 9x-to-XP migration. go to a website URL that’s off limits and make a request to the parent to allow access. status updates and so forth. This is a product I both love and hate. Go to the Live Essentials site to get them. There’s a raft of new tools to play with in the Live Essentials Beta. and although much of the effort and thinking was misguided. so it’s hardly surprising that many businesses don’t want to move forward from the platform that they know. parents have to make up their own minds. But I still shy away from bolt-on tools simply because they tend not to integrate well with the underlying operating system. the only place for user management is baked deep into the OS itself. all in beta versions. there’s much to be said for parents running the same parental controls against themselves: do you really want to have a one-click accident on a spam email and land yourself with a screenful of nastiness? Of course not. although much of the effort and thinking was misguided. 124 PC PRO OCtOBEr 2010 www. it’s a web service controlling an OS function.Real World Computing Advanced Windows WinFS. and especially Windows 7. I had to give credit where it was due in the area of home and parental controls. So I was pleased to see with the beta of the new Windows Live Services that Microsoft is extending the reach of these tools with the Family Safety toolset. To do this each user must have their own login to the machine. it does seem inconsistent. And here Microsoft delivered the goods. at least it had made the effort. It isn’t Live Beta there’s more than Family Safety in Live Essentials Beta: Mail. It does this by requiring a Live. designed and engineered solution that’s part of the OS itself. It also pushes back all the reporting and management functions onto the internet-hosted site. then consider that it’s probably right to split children into three age groups: under-8s should only have access to a whitelist of approved sites. There’s an undercurrent of religious belief behind many of them. Most importantly. The monitoring toolset is the crucial point here: security and safety software is meaningless unless there’s a rich and vibrant discussion about the issues involved between all the parties. and this is a web service!” Yes. so I continued. It’s been a great platform in the business world (once we got to grips with it). but do you want them to still be at the computer after midnight. Photo Gallery. Some work online. What is “appropriate” material? For what age group? And who decides – Microsoft? The State? The parent? The child itself? Worse still. between 8 and 12 you could argue for a blacklist solution based on pre-canned content filtering. Is pornography bad? Is violence worse? How about unpleasant photos from official police websites? What about issues such as pregnancy. for example. to set up those whitelists and blacklists. in the form of reports. which then brings down the parentally managed policy to the local machine.pcpro. Parental control is a tricky subject because it’s so emotive. That’s just corrosive. although this doesn’t bother me because at the end of the day. And if you look at Windows Vista. the OS gives the parent control and monitoring oversight of what the child has been doing. This is good stuff. In fairness to Microsoft. But look at it this way.co. but certainly “know and respect” isn’t out of order. I hesitate before adding “love”. You might well now be saying “but Jon. Finally. at least an effort was made unreasonable to lock down chatroom tools if you think your children aren’t old enough to go into the real-time outside world. Just about everything that you could do from Windows 7 at the OS level has been transcribed into an online service that spans multiple machines. not a web service controlling an app bolt-on.. Avalon and so forth.. abortion and safe sex? This is all horribly complex. time control is important too – putting a computer in your child’s bedroom might seem liberal and embracing of new technology. I’ve looked at parental control software. I must stress that these aren’t hard and fast rules. and the subsequent improvements in Windows 7. And the child can. There were loud murmurs of agreement from around the bar-room table. and that’s the important point. First let’s deal with application blocking. but with ongoing monitoring by the parents. Sync and Writer. and more. for the over-12s it should be open season for content. I said that despite all of this. though. In fairness to Microsoft. and reason enough for any family to upgrade to Windows 7. so the parents can monitor this from anywhere. No amount of bolted-on third-party parental control tools will ever beat a properly structured. which can then be done by the parent at a later time. Second. plus the lack of insistence on the use of NTFS file system and hence the complete lack of security. and different people will have different views. and one thing is noticeable across many of these products: the vendors clearly have their own agenda in terms of the content. Also. However. You don’t want to get into a situation where the computer is locked down and there’s no discussion at all. Failure is more honourable if you’ve tried. Some are stricter than others. there’s a raft of tools there to help you set up and manage what your children can and can’t view. The only place. The tools built into Vista and Windows 7 allow a parent to monitor what sites their child visits. in Vista. you said this stuff has to be an OS function. But the one thing that really annoyed me was how Microsoft flushed the home user community down the toilet by the way it handled Windows XP. the child’s friends who manage to unpick the locks? And that’s just looking at the controller aspect: consider the content to be controlled.com login. You’ll recognise some that were in Vista but got pulled from Windows 7. you’re quite right. but Family Safety takes this outside of the box to any of the computers that the child uses in the house. at least an effort was made. Messenger.uk . Some clamp down on sex education and porn. but this is 2010. if you want to block websites. where one set of rules can’t be applied. and maybe also set a maximum number of hours per week. unbeknown to you? It’s important to be able to control both the hours allowed and blocked. or to run games or tools they might bring home on a USB key from school. Movie Maker.

machine-to-machine over the local network if it can see the other machines on the LAN. so any synchronisation takes place directly. jon honeyball mAy Just HAve tHe AnsWeR few months ago. I’ve come to some conclusions. To make Dropbox work across multiple computers that you own. this is a useful amount to add to your 2GB of free space. Clearly. so if A JON HONEYBALL Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications. co. delete and so on) within the Dropbox-monitored space. requiring third-party tools to achieve any sort of usable integration with the desktop.50) for 50GB. Email jhoneyball@woodley side. are automatically included. After a month or so of kicking this around and moving many tens of gigabytes of data into and out of the service. Just log into the service and browse around your storage space. then there’s a full web interface into the remote store.co. or $19. the changes are synchronised up to the online store.uk/blogs/ jonhoneyball You can use Dropbox to share files and folders with others.dropbox.pcpro. It’s important to note that your files stay on your own disk. just go to the website and choose the file.com.co. You specify a point in your file directory tree that you want to be your dropbox. it wouldn’t be a good idea if all the machines on your local network had to send and receive via your office internet connection or home ADSL line. Perhaps Microsoft is going to sort this out. and if you want more you can rent it for $9. especially for developers. which costs $39 (around £27) then Dropbox will store your all old versions for an unlimited time. just install the software on each device and log into your account: each newly added machine automatically gets a download of the current server contents into the place that you’ve nominated on each machine to be Dropbox space. but it seems not.uk . Around the same time I started looking at Dropbox. The server side of it is essentially transparent to you during normal operations. a description of what it is: Dropbox is an online service that stores files.uk or read his blog at www.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball Dropbox everything if you’Re looking foR A simple WAy to syncHRonise files in tHe cloud And don’t like tHe look of micRosoft skydRive. including all files they contain. You can use this to roll back changes over time. First. which you can download from www.pcpro. If you refer other people and they start using Dropbox. everything is still there on your hard disk. If you want to get to your files when you’re away from your computer. I was looking around for a way to sync files between various computers. 120 PC PRO sEptEmBEr 2010 www. If you pay for the “Pack-Rat” upgrade. This makes local synch very fast indeed.99/month (around £6. I looked at SkyDrive from Microsoft and found its user interface to be almost unbelievably incomplete and nasty. too. then select the Show Previous Versions feature. given that SkyDrive is the cornerstone of its current Office 2010 online documenthandling solution? You’d think that it might have decided to sort it out before the release of Office. you’re using a laptop and you lose network connectivity. what you’ve done is tell Dropbox to monitor that specific area of your hard disk and to send any changes up into the cloud. You get the first 2GB of space for free.99/month (around £13) for 100GB. To retrieve an older version of a file. By default Dropbox stores one month’s worth of changes to each file in its cloud store. and saves on internet bandwidth. Whenever you perform certain file actions (create. you’ll get a small free space increment as a gratuity or introduction fee: at 250MB per referral. and any directories beneath that point. just where you left them. modify. which is useful. This also applies to files that you’ve deleted from your local disk (the Pack-Rat upgrade extends file undelete from 30 days to unlimited time).

MONSTERS A product with such a clear vision from a start-up company must be open to takeover by some large vendor. Dropbox doesn’t offer many choices here. although pressing Quit will stop any synchronisation. Dropbox keeps a month’s worth of changes to a file.pcpro. There’s another feature that makes Dropbox interesting. because if you fall foul of the Data Protection Act you’ll be liable. this is a great solution. Occasionally when I do. every day meeting companies. (To tell the truth I could spend all day. If you change the password on one machine. plus an impressive online storage service Web Applications We reveal the best languages for budding programmers to learn 126 129 132 Open Source Networks How to boost performance and reliability by tweaking MySQL settings 135 138 142 120 123 Online Security Safer browsing. If you have a friend who also has Dropbox. That’s fine. However. but for health reasons it’s good that work intervenes occasionally!) www. ensuring they’re available to you offline. but as a means of ensuring you always have access to your stuff. you don’t want every other machine to be locked out until you go to each one and update their password too. you can create webs of sharing among the various groups of friends. just yet Insert scanned images into Word at the touch of a button Mobile & Wireless Orange’s mobile-phone coverage black-spot solution put to the test Server Room Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualisation engine gets the thumbs up Obviously. and you can get to your data in the cloud either by the website. iPad or Android phone. I now find it easier to get a friend to install the free Dropbox client and then join in a share than it is to push our files on to some other online shared space. Dropbox says that all file transfers are over an encrypted SSL connection. there’s no way to control any encryption on the service. Yes. it should be possible for it to auto-pause on change of default gateway. Dropbox needs to become more network-aware – so for example. and because you can set up multiples of these directories. This would cause issues with shared folders. this is a great service for data backup. that files are inaccessible without a username and password and that Dropbox employees are unable to view any files. but if you’re using a laptop and you’re connected via a 3G connection. it’s useless for disaster recovery. Overall. and so if you change the password on one machine the change is automatically sent to all other linked machines. but there’s no sign of that at the moment. presumably in the USA. then to prompt with a “Do you want to take Dropbox online again?” By default. rather than using up and down the internet connection to the server. but sometimes real work gets in the way. Naturally. This isn’t just a one-to-one share. There are clients for Windows and Mac. maybe it’s just another case of “not invented here”. but it has been useful to gain access to the files in an emergency. question that has to be answered before traffic resumes. but I’d like to be able to insert my own certificate into the system for all my files. then you can set up special directories within your Dropbox tree that are shared between you.co. it knows whether a target machine is on your local LAN and then uses the local LAN to transfer. I stumble across something so new. This could be painful from a cost point of view. Items marked as Favourites are actually synched to your remote handheld devices. Finally. you may find you have a big synch happening in the background if many files were changed while your laptop was disconnected. My next worry is that your data is held in the cloud. for example. with BlackBerry coming soon. let’s start with the obvious one: the software isn’t really network-aware. to identify who’s in that particular directory. For home and small-business users. archive and data transfer tools.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office A revolutionary server concept. server thing Sometimes. All of this seems too good to be true. so clever that I’m forced to stop in my tracks and say “wow!” I’m regularly asked by PR teams to meet with their clients. the cross-platform nature of Dropbox is a big issue. All of that is adequate. to ensure that everything is encrypted under my control. I’ve paid for the full 100GB solution with the Pack-Rat upgrade. getting taken for lunch and having a few post-work sherbets bought for me. and you may not notice a big synchronisation taking place in the background.uk sEptEmBEr 2010 PC PRO 121 . and there are implications under the UK’s Data Protection Act too. managing the usernames and passwords across your accounts is going to be important. and to be honest I’m somewhat surprised that one of the monsters hasn’t grabbed Dropbox already. so are there any downsides? Well. IPv6. there’s much to commend it. but I’d be happier about holding data outside of the EU. plus the battle of the botnets Why you shouldn’t worry about the saviour of the internet. It’s considerably more sophisticated than just a simple mounted drive using WebDAV. and almost unthinkable if you’ve trundled to somewhere in Europe and are on a roaming data rate. family and colleagues. Dropbox gets around this by treating each machine-to-host connection as being trusted. I don’t want to synch 100GB of stuff to my iPhone. As for myself. so it may be open to Patriot Act inspection. which is ideal for sharing things between friends or members of a family. Setting up a sensible directory name is useful. and have added it to my suite of backup. but can be created around a group of users. For larger businesses its lack of management umbrella control and user-controlled encryption could be a worry. Dropbox is set to autorun by default. Sometimes it’s possible. that all files stored on its servers are encrypted with AES-256. It would be nice if Dropbox offered a European-hosted data service. or by using a native application on an iPhone. but give it a whirl and you might find it incredibly useful – I know I have. Clearly. recovery and sharing. Finally. it’s worth taking a step back and looking at technology from a fresh perspective. You should therefore be careful about what you put into Dropbox shared space.

typical examples being 10Gb Ethernet cards Virtual machines can also boot from the Virtensys box. Some of this tangle can be alleviated by going for a blade server. There’s one final kicker: to get best performance. it’s common practice to use direct disk access from a VMware virtual machine to guarantee high-speed disk access. but that’s as far as it goes. for the cost of upgrading to high-speed networks and disks. Better still. After all.000 to support 16 servers. almost dumb interface card that drops into a spare PCI Express slot – although in future there may be a PCI Express connector on the back of the computer itself – which connects to Virtensys’ own box. can be plugged into a single intelligent frame. If you’re lucky you might get the option of fitting. it’s working now. desktops and indeed the complete hardware design and implementation. on fibre. for example. the savings quickly mount up once you realise how much sharing can be done by these virtualised cards. You use the standard. You can. Although the Virtensys box isn’t a cheap option. This is done at present by a simple. highly leveraged. Virtual machines can boot from it too. a Cisco switch that was custom-designed for your particular HP blade server. And between the “computer” slots and the “card” slots there’s a pair of very highperformance chips that act as a virtualisation switch. 16 servers need 16 cards. each containing a minicomputer with its own processor and RAM. So what Virtensys has done is to extend the PCI Express bus outside of the computer itself. surprise. believing it has its own boot disk. The firm says it’s working with every major vendor (except for Cisco. if you have some shared disk storage then there may be fibre channel connections from an FC card going to a disk storage array.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Last week. or over multiple connections and hence wires in most cases. connected to a bunch of disks so that each server can boot from the same controller. The back of most servers. or you can now put one fibre channel card into the Virtensys box and virtualise it to each server. this piece of British innovation will provide the key to a radical change in the way we build and use servers.co. but the solution is simple: drop in a second card and make it available to all the servers too. and it will still “see” the same virtualised disk controller. contains a high-speed internal bus on which almost all the components sit. Then there’s another set of PCI Express slots into which you plug expensive. Its website gave nothing away. In fact. which is in effect a PCI Express protocol switch. Of course. What Virtensys has come up with made me reconsider the design of servers. which works very well but has the downside of locking you into one vendor. there’s probably a network card that provides TCP/IP over an Ethernet connection. in which multiple blades. It’s an extremely fast connection fabric. web-enabled strategic Tribble. because if you think about it all your I/O is already going up and down the PCI Express bus within each server itself. this creates limitations on moving VMs around between machines. but you’re baulking over the per-server cost of the 10Gb network cards.uk . say. Similarly. which nowadays is called PCI Express and works very well. Unfortunately. The Virtensys box’s motherboard accepts PCI Express cards that connect to other computers. This technology is interesting because it rewrites the rulebook for interconnect. surprise). It’s radical but extremely simple in concept. high-performance PCI Express cards. and some of Intel’s processors will soon come with it built into the main CPU itself.pcpro. slower interconnects: there may well be a disk controller that provides SATA or SAS buses to the disk drives. The basic idea is quite straightforward: your PC. whether it’s acting as desktop workstation or server. just maybe. at around £30. With Virtensys you can move any VM from one host to another. cloud-enhanced. 122 PC PRO sEptEmBEr 2010 www. if you have 16 servers all sharing one 10Gb network card there may come a time when the card is overloaded by the demands of all these servers. Branching off from this PCI Express bus is a range of other. because they also think they have their own set of storage. I can’t remember what exactly it was that piqued my interest in this product. put a RAID controller into the Virtensys box. run by people with an impeccable track record. especially at the high-end of the market. and it provides a fully flexible solution that is vendor-agnostic. vendor-supplied 10Gb network card driver for each server. The frame provides services such as networking that are shared among all the blades. you could pay for fibre channel cards in each server. How wrong I was. Maybe. and no OS changes are required. Inside this box is a custom motherboard that accepts PCI Express cards connecting to other host computers. so that the one card is visible to multiple computers. which can cost thousands of pounds each. you can buy it today and it’s British. What does this mean in practice? Let’s say you want to put all your servers on to 10Gb Ethernet. All that’s happening is that the PCI Express bus has been physically extended and then put through a very clever switch. I had a meeting booked with a software company at its PR firm’s offices in London. so hot-moves will still work. because they’ve been hardwired into the disk infrastructure. So why not virtualise a single physical network card and make it available to each of the host servers as required? It’s important to realise that each server is made to believe it has its own 10Gb network card. 4Gb fibre channel disk controller cards. you can run all your I/O needs up and down this bus. and thus percolate down to other devices such as desktops and even laptops. so when I sat down in that office in London I expected this to be yet another dynamic. high-speed RAID controllers and so forth. if you want to add fibre channel to your servers to allow multiple virtualisation hosts to access a single fibre channel store. so upgrading all your servers can run up a very large bill. other than a usually reliable PR rep telling me that it was really quite something. All Virtensys has done is extended this bus out of the case and turned it into a switched environment. is therefore a rat’s nest of wires and fibre.

if any. Other figures suggest that XP still has around 65%. One such amenity was my local pub. I’m not a religious chap. That’s a pretty good definition of market dominance for Redmond. which was featured in the Lovejoy TV series. boasting five paper trays and full-duplex printing onto A3 paper (which means I could print my own tabloid newspaper.uk/blogs/ jonhoneyball Publisher grief When you move house to another some distance away you come to appreciate the things you took for granted before but which are no longer just there. it’s worth remembering that few. which is. the wonderful Half Moon Inn in Belchamp St Paul. with Vista in the mid-teens. especially those that come from online companies that count which browser versions hit their sites. hmmm). Of course there are a brave few pioneers who have dived in – doubtless with lots of help and encouragement from Microsoft itself.co. that there will be another 200 million sold by the end of this year. by whatever metric you choose.pcpro. My HP 5500DTN printer is something of a monster.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball Good news for Microsoft jon honeyball WRestles WitH A monsteR pRinteR. According to Microsoft. That Windows 7 is shaping up to become the fastest selling operating system in history is notable for several reasons: first. and some sources claim that Linux is still languishing at around 1%. Apple Mac lies somewhere between 5 and 10%. So what are the approximate market shares of the various alternative OSes today? It’s hard to know for sure because there aren’t many vendor-supplied numbers available. as Jon Honeyball discovered when a simple act of charity went awry. and things can get a little murky: for example. and whenever he asks me if I’d do a pile of printing for his church the answer is always yes. M icrosoft has announced that it has now sold in excess of 100 million copies of Windows 7 in the first six months. Now this measure can be skewed depending on the content of the particular site (for example. bullishly.co. a Mac-only software site will show way above average Safari hits). And toAsts tHe lAuncH of WindoWs 7 And tHe ReleAse of tHe public betA foR WindoWs Home seRveR machine seems to think that we’ll be pleasantly surprised by the inevitable early announcements of large-scale migration. Email jhoneyball@woodley side.uk . I wrote 130 PC PRO August 2010 www. it suggests that the market can’t be in that bad shape. there’s no doubting that a lot of people were just hoping for “anything other than Vista. there are a few metrics that can be useful. whose marketing JON HONEYBALL Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications. If we add in Windows 7 at around 10% that takes Microsoft to a total of 90% or so. despite the ravages of the ongoing world financial crisis. but his good counsel in times of need is something well worth supporting. an extremely good performance and one that will be a great relief to the Windows team. more than 10% of the PCs in the world are now running Windows 7.pcpro. and second. does your new laptop that comes with Windows 7 plus XP “downgrade rights” count as one or two OS sales? Nevertheless. But before we break open the champagne. co. The company is claiming.uk or read his blog at www. Father Eoin. thanks” and Windows 7 clearly fits that bill. The other service I miss is the wisdom of the parish priest. large corporations have yet migrated to 7 on any large scale. which isn’t a bad at all. but these numbers offer an interesting viewpoint. Printing an A4 page in Publisher onto A5 is more difficult than it seems.

The page border itself resized beautifully. Anyway. which is an excellent layout tool for such occasional users (provided they don’t try to output any web pages from the package. as opposed to “mung” the old hacker’s term short for Mash Until No Good). but all the items on the page stayed at their A4 sizes. I was probably going about this in the wrong way. It added a useful amount of functionality to my home network. The combination of HP print driver. on the hard disk of the printer itself. then the uncovered parts of the rollers quickly overheat. Job done. You can trundle over to http://connect. made the changes and did a test print. preformatted and ready to go. and it can potentially introduce important facilities such as proper backup and restore. So I opened up the relevant printer driver dialog boxes. What was I to do? Loud moans to the effect that “I could do with a beer right now” and “dinner will be getting cold” started to float up the stairs. and my friends were waiting for me. but no way would this work. My first thought was to take the A4 page and just tell the program that it was using A5 paper. file sharing and media management to people who have never had a server before. Grrr. especially if it has local storage. Its design relies on the paper carrying away a great deal of heat from the rollers in normal operation. but as always the rules of beta software apply – it’s probably quite buggy. I also decided to turn the whole thing into a stored print job that could sit.microsoft. and the beer was still cold.co. resize it. which worked like a charm. Time was tight. The problem was his page was A4 and I needed to print it onto A5 paper. but not being a Publisher fiend I couldn’t spot where it was hidden – I was lost in a maze of twisting menus and dialog boxes. “mung” the ISO-defined technical term “to change or alter the size when in a hurry”. certainly incomplete. a process that always reminds me of trying to get blood out of a stone).pcpro. forcing all the textboxes to just reflow the text. and it was its innovative file system that caused the www. and it might manage to totally ruin your day. Then I had a brainwave. and David Moss thinks security recently in my PC Pro blog about how the performance of this beast collapsed to the speed of a cheap LaserJet whenever I asked it to print onto A5 – it turns out that if the paper doesn’t fill the full width of the heater rollers that fuse toner onto the paper. so I thought – load said full-resolution PNG file into some bitmap editor and then target the printer at A5. And it would have worked fine. That would be easy. keyboard or mouse. At this point I was ready to scream.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office Windows 7 is shaping up to be the fastest selling OS in history Web Applications Mark Newton has had a hectic month on Twitter and Facebook 136 139 142 Open Source Networks Bashing big data down to size with Google’s MapReduce and Hadoop 145 148 152 130 133 Online Security How valuable is your login data? And where has all the spam gone? Steve Cassidy looks for rational behaviour in the NAS marketplace Mobile & Wireless Office 2010 has finally been released. If it were ready to ship it would have shipped. you should always remember that there’s a great deal of power in the printer driver itself. and that there are also many features on offer inside the printer. So I tried to output the page as a PNG graphics file.com and download it today if you like.uk August 2010 PC PRO 131 . I could then mung that in a bitmap editor (that is. Who shall back up the backer up? Microsoft has put out a public beta of the forthcoming version of Windows Home Server codenamed “Vail”. codenamed “Vail”. and it still has the capacity to surprise The simplest way to jail-break your iPhone. with Publisher safely closed and the myriad of driver settings forgotten about entirely. and the dedicated HP server on which I first got hold of it. and the printer driver had the power to re-render the entire page to any size I needed. and to be stuffed into a cupboard under the stairs and forgotten. Microsoft has released the public beta of the forthcoming version of Windows Home Server. If I could get a high-resolution bitmap image out of the program. He’d put together a nicely designed page in Microsoft Publisher. You might recall that I have a soft spot for Windows Home Server (WHS). not gone into beta. store it in the printer and set it up so that anyone who could press a few buttons to recall that print job could do more printing unsupervised. Father Eoin recently asked me to print some A5 flyers for him. As I was going to be away for a few days and the printing would be done in my absence. Trying to pick up everything and squeeze it down didn’t work because all the fonts were now the wrong size. the copies that Father Eoin needed could simply be run off by dialling up the print job on the printer and starting it. Don’t go nuts trying to fix things inside an application when you can fix it outside. It was designed to be run as a headless server without a screen. The moral of this tale is that when it comes to printing. job management and the printer’s own storage let me take a complicated page. WHS got off to a rocky start. except for the minor detail that PNG output from Publisher puts a single-pixel-deep black line across the top of each page. and black-spot testing Server Room Jon Honeyball stiffens his fibre. and you spot this only once you’ve printed the image file. and it’s likely that Publisher has a function called “take this and make it that size please”. Then I remembered that I could use the power of the printer driver to resize the image for me – the application didn’t need to know that anything other than A4 paper was being used. That way.

Searching the Microsoft website for Hyper-V Server information will soon swamp you instead with information that relates to Windows Server with Hyper-V. The downside is that your data isn’t readable at all unless you have this new file system running.. I could build a truly impregnable computing platform. alone without any useful OS attached. A key component was the file system. Microsoft claims that this new design is much better (a claim to which Mandy R-D clearly applies) and far more compatible with applications that might do somewhat naughty things with the file system. You can take a multidisk array out of Windows Server and plonk it onto another box – and it will even remember its drive letters.pcpro. the client isn’t and the server is. I treasure the ability to take any disk from a dead box and mount it somewhere else. depending on whether the client machine is in a domain and the server isn’t. 132 PC PRO August 2010 www. Add more disks and this pool gets bigger. Hyper-V Server. . The only problem is there’s no way to surface a desktop session to the screen. one being called “Windows Server with Hyper-V” while the other is “Windows Hyper-V Server” – or is that “Hyper Windows V Server”? Who can remember? Anyway. Through there you’ll need to configure all the usual things such as network card settings. making it possible for data to be lost under certain circumstances. which is supposed to provide all of your home desktop machine backups.or would Sir prefer “Microsoft Hyper-V Server”? Microsoft’s website isn’t exactly clear on the matter. both of which have the word Hyper-V in their title. This new version is block-based rather than file-based. There’s a set of management tools available for it that are also free. There are several technical papers and blogs on this subject. I could bring server roles in VMs onto the platform as and when I needed. but it will be interesting to see how that changes over the next six to 12 months. were not capable of being backed up itself. and I’d strongly advise you search for them. but I wouldn’t be able to directly work with it.. Microsoft now has two Hyper-V products. I could do all the fancy VM stuff such as roll back at the end of a session. This technology has never appeared on any other Microsoft platform. This is quite a major step away from compatibility. How much simpler it would have been if they’d named Hyper-V Server something like “Fred”.co. because it seems that for Vail Microsoft has decided to ditch that design and come up with something else. nor will a lot of home users who are quite happy with XP despite its flaws. just a text menu running in a window. whether it’s part of a domain or not. which took NTFS and grafted onto it a new file system driver that allows all the storage in your server to be viewed as a single pool. Those concerns weren’t without foundation.uk .. manage it and treat it like other VMs. while the other is simply the core virtualisation engine. keyboard and mouse using Hyper-V Server at the moment.. and whose hardware hasn’t imploded yet. there’s some confusion about doing the configuration. That was obviously somewhat suboptimal for an operating system aimed at non-technical users. and once it’s up and running you have a working VMed server ready to accept virtual machines and perform real work. but you’ll soon discover that you’ve run into something of a brick wall. I suspect lots of company XP desktop PCs simply won’t get upgraded any time soon. Can we hope that Microsoft is looking at taking the Hyper-V Server technology and re-packaging it into something for use on a power desktop or laptop? Many server OSes run in VMs. That sort of thing makes me nervous. The user interface to Hyper-V Server is simple. or both the other two permutations. XP Rules According to Microsoft figures. and again it exists as a file system driver buried deep down inside the file system stack. I wish I could get closer to the marketing people who name Microsoft’s products. free download from the Microsoft website. and Microsoft made things worse by not exactly being lightning quick in coming up with a fix. and you’re back in that maze of twisting passages again. why can’t I install Fred – sorry. close enough in fact to shake them warmly by the throat. But once it was finally fixed. so you can’t just pull a disk out of your WHS box and mount it into a normal PC. Finally. burn a disc and boot up your server. That’s okay. I mean Hyper-V Server – onto a desktop PC and then put Windows 7 into a VM as the sole operating system on that machine? I could then snapshot it. and I wondered whether it was a good idea that would never reach fruition. Does Sir want “Virtualisation with Hyper-V”. In short. Hyper-V Server is fine for a lot of things. and whether to allow for remote access and remote management. The setup program takes a few minutes and asks a minimal number of questions. The desktop MMC tools are also easy to use. Finally. in which case WHS ensures they’re stored on at least two different spindles as a precaution against drive failure. hyper-v server Sometimes. and it’s going to be important that Microsoft provides the flexibility to allow for routine backup/recover and disaster recovery solutions to be custom written for Vail in the future. The Windows 7 session would run happily enough. which do all the usual VM things but not the sexy things that require you to pay. for example. the important point is that there are two of them: one is your normal Windows Server with the Hyper-V engine bolted on to it (think of it as Windows Server that knows how to lift itself off the ground by pulling on both bootlaces). XP still holds a 65% majority of the Os market.Real World Computing Advanced Windows upset. and you can mark files and directories as being of special importance. It would be a real pity if Vail. it became clearer how much the platform had to offer. Getting Hyper-V Server up and running is simple – download the image. and it’s really about time that desktops caught up. This latter is a good. so that you could have a unique term to search for.

unReliAble updAtes And A fRustRAting inteRfAce.pcpro. hence the arrival of MIMO technology.Real World Computing Advanced Windows Computing Practical advice from it consultants Real World Advanced Windows Jon Honeyball Sick and tired of Windows AfteR 20 yeARs of dRiveR pRoblems. Digging around on the websites of these vendors allowed me to download the right driver stacks.4GHz is going to have a significant multipath problem.co. Email jhoneyball@woodley side. I accept that this a hard line to take. Michael Dell must think that I have something against his company. installed it and. But I’ve been having problems trying to get this laptop to sync at almost any speed faster than 65Mbits/sec. and we have plenty of computing horsepower to make it all work. or some such equally silly (but probably true) legal nonsense. then this laptop should connect at lightning speed and the air should positively crackle with the data rushing through it. every widget. while Windows Update and third-party vendors’ websites have fallen well short of being adequate. No. or else its lawyers get in the way and basically screw the pooch. That drivers were the problem only became clear after I visited Intel’s site and discovered that there’s a completely new version of the driver stack for Windows 7 compared to the one installed on my laptop. with a signal strength of -93dB compared to the -52dB of my own Wi-Fi base station. I’m talking about when there’s only a few metres between the laptop and the base station. co. decides that said driver has now become Microsoft’s “fault” and decides to sue. so I downloaded that. My cynicism begins with the knowledge that anything that runs at 2. but they’d only 122 PC PRO JuLY 2010 www. there’s only one other base station within reach.uk/blogs/ jonhoneyball this: I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of why Wi-Fi is so unreliable – and I’m not talking about when the base station is down the road and you’re trying to browse from the pub. I’m pretty certain there’s no co-channel interference. but I can assure you that it’s just a coincidence. there should be no excuse: we all have broadband. we all have enough local storage for drivers and information XML files. Nowadays. of course. Iowa. Now. To recap my gripes from previous columns. hey presto. jon honeyball finAlly Runs out of pAtience WitH micRosoft I ’d hoped that my recent irritation over driver and update problems for Windows 7 had come to an end. finding drivers and trying to shoehorn the right component in and make it work properly. everything should be available through Windows Update: every single driver. But driver problems have reared their ugly heads yet again this month. I also recently tried USB sticks from Netgear and Belkin. The reality. and once again it was difficult getting them to work at all with Windows 7.uk . if I’m to believe the claims of the Wi-Fi vendors. Very occasionally it will hop up to 130Mbits/sec.pcpro. Far too many things haven’t worked. but only for a few seconds.uk or read his blog at www. Even though they were brand-new. the driver CDs supplied with both appeared to talk only to Vista. and then drop back again. every little bit of Windows stuff required to make my PC work properly. isn’t so simple.co. Having to go to a vendor’s site to download stuff is a failure of process. and I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that it’s about a Dell PC yet again. and that’s sitting on channel 6 when mine is on channel 1. Microsoft says it can’t ship third-party drivers lest someone in Des Moines. My problem has been JON HONEYBALL Computer journalist and consultant specialising in both client/server and office automation applications. shrink-wrapped products. and immediately falls into a trap whenever Microsoft wants to offer a service but doesn’t want to offer it to everyone. Windows 7 has offered a fairly painful user experience since its release. but I’ve now had 20 years of updating Windows. and to be honest I’m just tired of it. so there should be no problem here. which is basically multipath cancelling using several aerials. while having to go to system component manufacturers’ sites is even worse. the built-in Intel 5100 AGN chipset decided it was okay to connect at faster speeds after all.

In the meantime. But the real slap in the face was discovering that the Epson Network configuration tool. akin to reading the instructions before operating a new piece of equipment. I still don’t understand why Microsoft doesn’t integrate these features into the OS. I haven’t been able to find an option to keep me updated.com to see how it works. Surely Microsoft could have integrated this service into the Windows 7 desktop experience? There are some workarounds: a tool called SkyDrive Simple Viewer will give you the WebDAV URL of a particular folder in your storage cloud. and indeed that’s often the case. changing folder content type and support for files larger than 50MB. probably written by a fiveyear-old in an afternoon using a FrontPage wizard. had been updated from Version 2. too many vendors are simply too lazy to do it. I really do wonder how many computers (of any OS denomination or religious faith) are ever actually up to date. and a shocking pink box Server Room Learning lessons from a server on the brink of collapse consent to go on my PC after a thorough purging of all the recently installed old drivers from the supplied CDs. The driver pages for the 4880 printer still list the 2. which I’m told is fast and reliable.95 it isn’t expensive. I never think about screen drivers.co. such as opening files directly from SkyDrive on your PC. I’ll report back with my findings. I’m trying Dropbox from www. I’ll accept this was a brave decision.2 to 3.dropbox. Some softie contacts have suggested that it’s again all down to the lawyers and their fear of Des Moines. You heard that right: to get stuff into SkyDrive you have to drag and drop it on to the web page or use a clunky common dialog. which shows how old and creaky this stuff is.2 version. and this is from a configuration tool that’s supposed to be universal to all the company’s products on the Mac platform.uk JuLY 2010 PC PRO 123 . which lets you mount your storage directly in Windows Explorer. Anyway. Before I could get to http://skydrive.com. Microsoft. back to SkyDrive. SkyDrive’s user interface. Once I’ve tested it. which you can then wire up to your desktop if you’re so inclined.6. or you can get SDExplorer from www. You might hope that things would be better on other platforms. Why can’t the big OS vendors such as Microsoft and Apple make it mandatory for any company shipping a third-party device driver that isn’t available – for whatever reason – through Windows Update or Apple Software Update to have an email subscription model that tells the paying customer that there’s a new version available? Or else that software auto-checks every week or so for updates. SkyDrive and Ikea’s room design application Web Applications Do developers own the code they write. At the end of the day. This annoyed me intensely. Even so. in the way that even the most humble of Firefox add-ons has no trouble in doing? It isn’t difficult. and if that’s true then they can all go to hell.live. ikea app Having moved both office and house recently. Take Nvidia. But don’t think that everything is rosy once you get away from Windows.bing. mouse drivers or Wi-Fi code for my Macs – they just come with the successive OS updates.Contents Advanced Windows Advanced Office Drivers and updates. moving files within SkyDrive.com. If I wanted to go to Bing. Microsoft’s free online storage solution.cloudstorageexplorer. and is cross-platform too. At just €9. too. The first site I went to was that of Ikea. despite version 3 being listed on the download pages for newer printers. or does it belong to their clients? 128 131 134 Open Source Networks We examine the state of the open-source market 137 140 144 122 125 Online Security Ignore the lurid headlines – hacking contests are good for us all How much of your company’s data is written once and never used again? Inside OpenOffice 3. First impressions matter. Iowa. but it provided a great opportunity for some vendors to impress me. and there’s a try before you buy option. of course. If you have a Windows Live account. which redirected me to www.pcpro. and worse still the drivers it’s currently shipping still include a bunch of PowerPC chipset code. changing folder share mode. This adds a lot of useful features. I’d go to Bing – hijacking my choices isn’t going to endear your new search engine to me.com. My particular bête noir on the Mac platform is the driver stack for Epson’s networked large-format A2 photo printers. Epson has taken months to produce any sort of update for OS 10. which is required to make the printer work over Ethernet. My jaw dropped and almost hit the table when I realised that SkyDrive has absolutely no integration with the normal Windows 7 file browser. I thought it might be a good idea to plan my new spaces rather than just throwing items into various rooms in the hope they might work. while a number of different adjustments are available in the driver control panel. My head was spinning at this display of amateurism. for example: I just updated the screen driver for a Windows 7 desktop machine and was impressed that the old driver could be unloaded and the new one put in place without it requiring a system reboot. plus fun and games with Office Ribbon Hero Mobile & Wireless Understanding virtual mobile networks. Microsoft allocates a generous 25GB of cloud storage space. simply because I thought it would www.2. SDExplorer is available in two versions: a free Base version and a paid-for Pro version.live. com. I made the error of typing in www. skydrive A friend recently recommended Windows SkyDrive.

and indeed it did: a full-scale CAD-based room planning application that lets you specify the dimensions of your room. but I still see very few instances of the suite out there on clients’ desktops when I visit them. Today. As if that wasn’t enough. First. RARe sight Perhaps it’s just my particular client base or maybe it’s a real sign of Office 2007’s total sales. That’s the theory. but there’s no excuse for it not performing like greased lightning. Far more effort is needed if it’s going to impress customers. both from an ergonomic and an aesthetic point of view.) I just happened to press the Alt key and let go of it. you might finally be able to do something useful. If you click on this. That’s assuming the icon has a right-click menu at all. but it’s clear that Office 2007 was produced without much clear thinking. and for no discernible reason I can now see a scattering of white labels all over my menu bar. (If I remember rightly its UI was. There’s no elegance here.Real World Computing Advanced Windows have something of interest. needed. a window pops up showing all the remaining detritus. Is this really the best result from those thousands of hours of usability testing. Sloppy programming. icon notification One of the items that has changed in Windows 7 is the ability to hide away icon notifications. You couldn’t always remember what these icons meant. Anything involving the 3D mode feels as if it’s being rendered on an Amstrad PCW 8256 (a reference for those with long memories and deep scars from attempting to program in its graphics language!). and once again important functions are hidden away behind a right-click pop-up menu that may or may not exist in any particular context. It seems it can’t handle decimal fractions. From such a menu. but dear me there are some traps along the way. and it was made clear at the time of its launch that Microsoft wanted to use such leverage to keep competitors such as OpenOffice at bay. These are the items that sit at the bottom right-hand side of your screen and are used to indicate the status of applications without popping up a large dialog box in your face. such as the File menu (which isn’t a file menu at all. methinks. 456. This was especially annoying at boot-time. a matter of patent licensing or some such nonsense. the pop-up tooltip balloons would appear in a frustrating fashion. so it’s far less hassle just to stick with the previous versions.uk . like the floating debris from a wrecked Scrabble set. which didn’t help. despite the pre-filled template showing decimal places by default. The implementation in Windows Vista left almost everything to be desired in this respect. can someone explain why I now have “Action Center” telling me about all sorts of system security and update issues. And this is from a Windows executable running on your local CPU. or is it rather the frustrating and ham-fisted ending for a product that couldn’t be killed and yet proved just too difficult to wrestle into something better? While I’m having this whinge about user interfaces.co. Some time ago this was taken away and the underline appeared only when you pressed Alt. say. In Windows 7 things are somewhat better. maintain the inventory of the items you’ve chosen and price everything up for you ready to place an online order. and then drop various items from Ikea’s range into the layout to see if they fit. this software is slower than a slow thing swimming through chilled treacle. when you might want to get to some important data quickly. yet I also have a (hidden) “Computer Status – Protected” icon as well? office 2007 I happen to be typing this column in Word 2007.6GHz with 2GB of RAM and 32-bit Windows 7. but it’s still clunky.7. one after the other. we’re left with this monumental bodge of floating white letters in boxes that partially obscure the item they’re supposed to be highlighting.pcpro. 124 PC PRO JuLY 2010 www. A 3D planning application is a fine thing to offer. Back in the days when Windows had a Style Guide and Microsoft made cursory attempts to stick to its rules. such software has great potential to enhance the reputation of the vendor and help you decide to buy everything from them. so it isn’t as if the hardware support is inadequate: mine’s a quad-core Core 2 processor running at 2. This piece of design unpleasantness is an indicator of the depths to which the Windows interface has plunged. It’s a truly horrible sight. you can then switch to a 3D view and rotate the view of your proposed layout to see how they fit from every angle. Plus some SATA hard disks in a striped set and an Nvidia GeForce 9400 GT card with 512MB of RAM. the program goes batty. including awkward items such as inset doors. Choose one and yet more Scrabble tiles appear all over the items on the Ribbon below. You can decide which icons will appear on the taskbar and which should be hidden under a pop-up window that’s accessed from a small arrow head. Clearly. The mind boggles at what they might dream up next. because it’s a Splodge button) then you’ll get both the underlined item and the white Scrabble tile as well. you could end up with a whole row of the damn things as Uncle Tom Cobley and all his nephews lined up to warn you about an unspecified event in the future. Office 2010 promises some more clarity with this stuff.0cm – but when you overwrite this with. but boy is it slow. which is a product I’ve done my best to stay away from so far. If you’re dextrous with your pointing and clicking you can probably get to an icon and right-click on it to bring up an icon-specific menu. and spending time squashing these bugs was the last thing you Take control of tray icons with Windows 7’s builtin configuration tool. Ikea’s room design tool is good. each menu item had an underlined character that indicated the shortcut keystroke from the keyboard. I also find Excel 2007’s UI to be a big barrier to doing any productive work. for example. because its user interface changes simply do my head in. And how’s this for an extra annoyance: you must enter your room dimensions into textboxes that are pre-filled with default numbers – such as 500. Better still. no self-explanatory behaviour. But if there’s a real menu there. because there’s no way of knowing without trying. and still is. it can.

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