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I Hurd Dat

One of thing that remains confusing in this whole Mark Hurd saga (the now semi-disgraced ex-chief of HP) is did he or didn't he?

He was accused of sexual harassment, which apparently didn't stick, but was fired for steering money towards a 50-year-old honey who used to appear in sexy movies. But both he and the gal claim nothing happened. Is Hurd lying or is he the quintessential high nerd who will do anything for the gal who's just out of reach? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com. With so many high-priced lawyers, we may never discover the truth.

Posted by Doug Barney on August 11, 2010 at 11:53 AM3 comments


When Mission Critical Isn't Critical Enough

Vendors loves to toss around the term "mission critical," as if every organization was NASA. Truth is, mission critical is in the eyes of the beholder. What's meaningless to you may be critical to me.

For those that truly care about data and uptime, Microsoft is offering the Dom Perignon of support -- a mission-critical add-on to the company's Premier program. When you pay the top shelf price, you expect top shelf service. In this case, you get a team of dedicated solutions engineers who promise to respond in a half hour (although, if 30 minutes of downtime is acceptable to a mission-critical system, how mission critical is it?). You'll also get 24x7 support.

Like an SLA, if Microsoft doesn't perform, you get some of your money back.

What is your impression of Microsoft support, or do you use another option. Talk about either at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on August 11, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Patch --Times 15

If you or your staff aren't yet patching, you best get to steppin'. This month, Microsoft released 15 patches, including one out-of-band patch that isn't technically part of Patch Tuesday.

Sorry to sound like an old record, but the vast majority of fixes address remote execution flaws (you know, where a dirtbag hacker tries to hijack your machine).

Word from the experts is that implementing all these fixes will take some time and care -- especially as all these patches demand a system restart.

If you want all the deets, I suggest you go here.

Posted by Doug Barney on August 11, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Patching Patch Tuesday

In honor of yesterday's Patch Tuesday, here are some reader thoughts on the Microsoft monthly tradition:

I have never been impressed with the thoroughness of Microsoft's development in regards to security. And I think it shows with the enormous amounts of patches that get distributed for every operating system and software program. I understand they can't catch everything, but wouldn't you think that after so many years of OS/software that you have to patch that it would be a good idea to secure systems before they come out -- instead of sending out ridiculous amounts of patches, which in turn usually slow machines/software down after so many get applied? But, what do I know? I am not a programmer.

As always, your columns and articles are informative and entertaining.
-Travis

I would like to see a comparison of patches released for other operating systems. I've seen similar lists in the past (maybe on CERN's site) that actually show MS operating systems require fewer patches than Mac OS and some Linux distributions. Your question is more relevant if compared to what competing operating systems require.
-Curtis

Whether I have two or 20 patches, if I have to reboot the server, the number of patches does not matter to me. Some people seem to make a big deal out of it. I'm just glad that bugs are being fixed. I'd rather have 20 patches, once a month, then have two patches this week, four more next week and so forth. And that's just my opinion...
-Bruce

I don't believe Microsoft has ever really been proactive about anything, and has been more of a reactive entity with regards to patches.

Although, maybe they are proactive in their new software and in the numerous ways they can just plain outright annoy you.
-Michael

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on August 11, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


What's Hot? Survey Says ERP, Win 7 and Virtualization

Research firm Computer Economics (great name, by the way) just wrapped up a survey pinpointing what you, the IT professional, plan to spend your company's hard-earned cash on. Surprising, at least to me, is a rush to either buy or upgrade ERP systems. This could be good news for Microsoft Dynamics, SAP and Oracle.

One item I'm not surprised made the list was Windows 7. Nearly a third of respondents are planning to spend cash on Win 7 upgrades this year. Many of these shops bought into Vista and want to get a far away from that dog as soon as possible.

While server virtualization has long been hot, desktop virtualization is now catching fire, with nearly a third already having invested in it.

Unified Communications is also on the upswing, with 40 percent of shops planning some kind of spend this year.

What are your IT priorities? Send you list, long or short, to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on August 09, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Supreme Court Treated Like Small Claims

Microsoft has lost, lost again and lost once more in its patent dispute with i4i over how Word implements XML. Microsoft has already removed the offending code, but the company just doesn't like to lose. Now it appears it will be appealing this puppy all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As I understand it, the Supreme Court is not all compelled to hear the case, and I'd argue there are a number of things more important for the court to consider than a patent suit -- which is already basically resolved.

Should these justices give this appeal the time of day, and if not, what is the most important issue they should deal with? Legal advice welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on August 09, 2010 at 11:53 AM3 comments


Hurd But No Longer Seen

I'm not sure what to think of former HP CEO Mark Hurd. During the scandal of 2006 where HP spied on reporters and even its own board members, Chairwoman Barbara Dunn took the fall. Hurd sidestepped the whole situation and came up unscathed. My view was that, as CEO, he either knew or probably should have known what the board was up to -- especially after it hired a team of nine outside investigators to look into the matter.

But those that follow HP have praised Hurd's leadership and results. Now they must be a bit bummed that the man they admired resigned in the wake of a rather nasty scandal.

Apparently, Hurd steered company money towards an acquaintance's way -- which was looked at as inappropriate in the eyes of HP.

Was Hurd a good or bad thing for HP? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on August 09, 2010 at 11:53 AM3 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Internet Doom and Gloom?, Win Phone 7 Annoyance

Here is some reader mail on the ultimate demise of IPv4 Internet addresses:

It is no different, Doug, than the switch to digital TV. It took the federal government setting a hard deadline to get the industry to make the move. Still, there are millions of analog TVs in the market that cable systems will have to support for the foreseeable future.

Millions were spent mitigating Y2K which would not have had to be spent if people had begun preparing for Y2K in the decades leading up to that hard deadline.

ISVs and OEMS slowness to adopt to Vista was what ultimately doomed that OS.

When they have to switch to IPv6, the will – and not a minute sooner. Will it cost millions more than it should? Yes! Late adopters invariably cost themselves millions more than they save by putting off the introduction of new technology.
-Marc

Internet Service Providers are not ready to support IPv6 to customers. I have talked with my AT&T representative many times about IPv6 and if they had it on their core network. They don't and are not supporting it yet.

SOOOO, this is a no starter for those with service providers that don't support it yet.
-Daryl

Here's one reader's preliminary complaint on the Windows Phone 7 platform:

I believe I have had every version of Windows Mobil released. For Microsoft to say Windows Phone 7 won't allow me to use my own flash card and not allow me to browse the phone from my own computer (so I could put my own songs on or grab my own pics without going through their network) really rubs me wrong. They are bound and determined to lose long-time customers like myself.
-Bill

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on August 09, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


IE 9 Ripens on the Vine

IE 9 has been parceled out in early test versions for some time, and now there is what's called the fourth "platform preview" available. Like previous previews, this edition isn't yet quite a browser, as it doesn't include an address bar or a key way to navigate around the Web. So what is it good for? Testing performance and compatibility of custom apps -- that's what.

For those that really want to see the new browser in action, the first beta, with real browser features, is the very next step.

Our online news editor Kurt Mackie is a bit of an IE 9 guru and he shares more details here.

Posted by Doug Barney on August 06, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Kids These Days...

We turn this issue's Mailbag to a reader who wants to get a few gripes he has with today's technology off his chest:

Every kid I know says, "Cool." I have kids and, as a result, know a lot of kids. And everything is, "Cool.". "Cool" has never gone out of vogue. "Out of vogue" has, but not "Cool." It remains a very groovy thing to say.  

I love technology. I look back on the '70s and think, "If I needed to contact someone, my only option was to find a telephone that was tethered to a wall somewhere." I mean, Ma Bell's final introduction of the RJ11 for general use was the greatest technological blessing of that decade -- more important to me than the moon landing of the previous one. Here some of this decade's technological breakthroughs that I just don't understand:

      1. The Kindle? $200.00 versus a book that costs $.50-$25.00? A book can be resold and reused. If a book is lost it's just an annoyance, not a noticeable financial hit. The print won't disappear because of copyright problems. Their ads and images show people using Kindles on the beach and on the bus. Rain, sand, theft, sudden stops? Kindle -- you're down $200.00.
      2. And the iPad? It's not as functional as a Laptop. It's too big to be a phone and doesn't make calls anyway (wouldn't it be cool if it did, though? I'd love to see someone holding an iPad up to their ear like a boom box in the '80s.). It's probably the most expensive conversation piece ever, unless you collect art.
      3. And the Netbook? I guess if you carry a purse. So why aren't they all pink? They don't seem to represent any great savings -- you end up having to purchase outboard hardware if you want a larger hard drive or a DVD burner. If you just absolutely can't get to a laptop, I guess it's better for working with documents and spreadsheets than on a smart phone, but when was the last Excel emergency you had?

Now, I'm sure there are a number of people out there for whom these niche products fit a unique need, situation or lifestyle. I don't doubt that at all. What I don't understand is the long lines and the demand far exceeding what even the manufacturers anticipated. Such as paying $500.00 for a new version of the same phone you already have and standing in a long line for the privilege of doing so (Malibu Stacy's got a new hat, people!) or buying an overpriced 'appliance' that even the manufacturer can't adequately explain why anyone would need it.

I can't imagine living in the technological dark ages again. No internet? Just shoot me! Have to actually talk to people or write them letters and mail them? Actually meet my "friends" (in person!!!???)? Plus, I'd have to get a real job! But there is a lot of this I just can't wrap my head around at all. I just know I need a much larger smartphone and a much smaller laptop and I need them now.

Thanks for letting me vent.
-G

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on August 06, 2010 at 11:53 AM8 comments


Monster Patch Tuesday Coming

Tuesday is coming. You know that means -- we're going to have a special guest. So wiggle your ears, like Mousketeers, cause Tuesdays is a special patch day.

With apologies to Anette Funicello, I bring you tidings of not quite great joy, as Microsoft is prepping its biggest load of patches ever.

Apparently, not willing to dish out an unlucky 13 fixes, Microsoft went for a solid 14. These patches cover pretty much the gamut -- Windows (of course), IE (of course), Office and Silverlight.

As usual, remote execution flaws lead the list. You can get all the details here.

In my opinion, the number of patches actually speaks more for Microsoft's diligence in hunting down flaws than intrinsic security flaws. Then again, I could be dead wrong. You, my faithful readers, are the real experts. So tell me, is Microsoft just getting better at patching, or is its software still fundamentally problematic? E-mail me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.  

Posted by Doug Barney on August 06, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


The Internet Sky Is Falling

For years there have been fears that IPv4 addresses were running out, and the Web would be more paralyzed than the U.S. Congress. I had the honor of interviewing Vint Cerf on this very subject over ten years ago, and came away a bit nervous. Cerf's answer? Move over to IPv6.

As I understand it, there were some tweaks (kludges?) to IPv4 that expanded the address space and bought us an extra decade or so. Now that time is running out, and without a new kludge, we could be plum out of IPv4 addresses, tout de suite.

According to Internet registries, the situation is so bad that all remaining addresses could be gone by the end of the year.

The real issue is that converting to IPv6, even though it's been available for many years, ain't always an easy thing. But again, you are the experts. Is IPv6 a piece of cake or a piece of something else? Tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on August 06, 2010 at 11:53 AM5 comments