Rx for AD

Active Directory Rights Management Service (AD RMS) is designed to lock down files so that corporate info isn't sent to competitors, nosy reporters or other unintended recipients.

But if you don't install an update soon, those RMS restrictions will expire, defeating the whole point of RMS. In fact, you won't even be able to access protected files, nor create new protected files.

The solution is to install the update before Feb. 22. A hotfix is also forthcoming.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 12, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Google Buzz vs. Outlook Social Connector

Social media and social networking are all the rage. Heck, you can't watch more than 10 minutes of CNN before you're pushed to some stupid Twitter page.

Now Google and Microsoft both want in on the act. Google stepped up to the plate with Buzz (not exactly an original name), a service that brings social features and YouTube hooks to Gmail. The Gmail requirement makes this very much a consumer play. But Google promises an enterprise version that ties into its premier version of Google Apps.

Between them, Gmail and Google Apps have less corporate share than Ron Paul in the last election. Microsoft Outlook, on the other hand, has market share to spare. That's probably why Redmond is adding social hooks to its messaging system so you can link to your contacts' Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Some see using Outlook as giving Microsoft an edge, but never count out a brand-new participant like Google Buzz.

Meanwhile, some are questioning the privacy aspects of Buzz, arguing that anyone who follows you can see who you're following. This could create sticky situations with bosses and spouses!

Do you use social networking, and if so, how? E-mail me at [email protected], or follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Dougbarney.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 12, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Microsoft Discloses Non-Microsoft Bug

We're all pretty used to Microsoft coming clean with its bugs. We're less used to it disclosing bugs of others. In the case of a bug that affects both Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS), most versions of Windows are impacted.

The vulnerability could let a hacker use these network protocols to gain access to wireless access points. It's a pretty difficult hack to pull off and so far there've been no reports of successful attacks.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 12, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


IT Market Flat-ish, Salaries Up Slightly

Two reports came out recently that paint a less-than-rosy picture of our beloved IT industry. While we're in the midst of some kind of economic recovery, it's not exactly raging.

IDC, for instance, predicts the software industry will grow an anemic 2 percent, services a paltry 3 percent, and hardware an OK 5 percent. IT salaries appear to be on a similar but slightly lower trajectory. Research firm Computer Economics predicts average raises of 1.8 percent.

That may seem like a slap in the face, but given the economy we've lived through and our current rate of unemployment, I'd thank my boss for any kind of raise.

What about you? Is your salary rising, or are bosses using the economy as an excuse to stiff workers? Gripes and gratefulness equally welcome at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on February 10, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Tracking Gates Now Easier

Bill Gates always had a platform for his technical views. Now that he's devoting 90 percent of his $40 billion fortune (it used to be $58 billion before the market melted) to charity, he also has a platform for his views on world issues.

No, Bill doesn't weigh in on all the usual cable news talking points: Sarah Palin, Obamacare, the war on extremists. Instead, Gates talks about less sexy issues: disease, hunger, the environment and education. What's he thinking? No wonder he doesn't get as much press as the talking head buffoons on either side!

Bill isn't just Tweeting, but has a new Web site called "The Gates Notes" where he opines. One of his latest pieces shows faith in science and innovation to solve problems like global warming.

I love that Bill avoids politics and focuses instead on logical solutions to the world's biggest problems. Perhaps my column two years ago made more sense than most realized.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 10, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Do Top MS Execs Stifle Innovation?

This all may be sour grapes, but an ex-Redmond exec now claims that other Redmond execs are more concerned with holding back competition than taking risks and innovating.

Dick Brass (now that's a great name for a guy who likes to take shots) wrote an editorial in The New York Times arguing that Microsoft's biggest groups, Office and Windows, care more about protecting their turf than breaking new ground.

While this might seem like the typical complaints of an ex-employee, Brass seems reasonable, and his very public comments should be a wake-up call. With immense sales and profits, Microsoft should take more risks -- and, in particular, channel more of its R&D efforts into real products.

Is Brass right or wrong? Share your thoughts by writing [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on February 10, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


IE Keeps on Buggin'

If you run IE, you might want to run the browser in "protected mode," a security setting that locks down the browser by restricting privileges, to protect against a new IE bug.

Newer versions of IE have protected mode on by default. Older versions of IE, such as 5 and 6, also have the mode on by default if they run on Vista or Windows.That leaves older versions of IE running on X,P plus newer IEs with protected mode turned off, vulnerable to attack.

Microsoft has issued an advisory for the bug suggesting that affected users "protect themselves by implementing Network Protocol Lockdown," for which there is a FixIt. A formal patch is forthcoming.

Trivia question: In Microsoft parlance, what did "protected mode" used to mean?

Answers welcome at [email protected] or post your comments below.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 08, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Office 2010 Nearly Here

I've spent so much time talking to people about Office 2010 I feel like I'm using it already (Office 2010 is on the cover of the March issue of Redmond). And soon I may be. That's because the software is now a release candidate (RC), or what used to be called a late beta back when test software nomenclature was simpler.

An RC is feature complete, but may need bug fixes and tuning. And that can take a while and sometimes several RC iterations. I predict a summer release.

So how much will it all cost? From $100 to $500 retail.

Do you use a non-Microsoft suite? Tell us about it at [email protected] or post your comments below.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 08, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Monster Patch Tuesday

If it seems like Microsoft Patch Tuesdays are packed with more and more patches, you'd be correct! Though they ebb and flow every month, in general there are more patches now than there were six months ago.

Tomorrow is no exception, with an unlucky 13 fixes set for release. (Couldn't they have come up with just one more for the superstitious among us?)

On the Windows front, the old bugaboo remote code execution (RCE) gets five fixes. Interestingly, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 aren't covered by all fixes, perhaps proving these products are more secure than their predecessors. Also, Office 2007 doesn't get any patches, while older versions do.

Are Microsoft products becoming more secure, or are patches an indication of deep problems? You be the judge at [email protected] or post your comments below.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 08, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Exchange 2010 Not for Everyone

Some software upgrades are a piece of cake, some are so complex they're not worth it. Exchange 2010, for some, fits in that latter category. The good news and bad news is that Exchange 2010 is far different architecturally from its predecessors, particularly in how it stores files. That's how we make progress. One example is the new "database availability groups," which could take time and money to adapt to, according to a report from Forrester.

Exchange 2010 may also require upgraded third party tools such as security and backup.

Are you jones'in for this new software, or happy with what you've got? E-mail me through your messaging system of choice at [email protected] or post your comments below.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 05, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Windows OEMs Plot iPad Revenge

The biggest issue surrounding the iPad is its use of an iPhone-based OS, rather than a full-fledged computer operating system. While there are clear technical sacrifices, the stripped-down OS should offer greater usability. The market will decide if features or elegance is more important.

The PC set has an opposite approach. Vendors such as HP plan Windows 7-based tablets, which means these machines are true desktop/laptop/netbook equivalents. You can actually get work done on these things.

What approach do you prefer? Let me know at [email protected] or post your comments below.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 05, 2010 at 11:53 AM4 comments


Sun CEO Tweets Goodbye

Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun with the Jesse Ventura ponytail, is no longer CEO of Sun. In fact, Sun is really no longer Sun now that Oracle has officially bought the former Java/SunRay/Solaris/SPARC powerhouse.

When high-powered execs resign, usually there is a carefully crafted press release talking about "other opportunities," "amicable partings" and "pride in the work done." But Schwartz is no average exec -- he quit through a tweet!

And here's another thing not so average: He resigned via Haiku, writing, "Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more." The thing I like is, even though he's on Twitter, Schwartz had the class to actually spell properly.

Is there a business use for Twitter? How do you tweet? Do you hate misspelled tweets as much as I do?  Send e-mail (not a tweet) to [email protected] or post your comments below.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 05, 2010 at 11:53 AM4 comments