Doug's Mailbag: Business in Foreign Countries, Windows Upgrade Plans, More

With Google out and Microsoft staying the course in China, Doug asks whether a company should adhere to the laws and protocols of a host country. Here are some of your responses:

It is a privilege to provide another country with our services.  Google accepted and followed the business rules of China.  China, in turn, did not respect their business.  Had China respected Google's business, they would have taken action against the hacker (yet perhaps it was the Chinese Government). 

Business is based upon an agreement between two entities.  Google held up their end of the bargain, yet China fell short on theirs by failing to care about such a vital matter that provided a great service (especially since they were able to censor the searches).

So, in essence, it is respectful to follow the rules of another "household" when providing a service for them.  Yet, when those rules jeopardize the very core of who you are (the core of Google's whole business in this case) and what you stand for, do as Jesus instructed his disciples to do and "shake the dust from your feet in protest against them" (Acts 13:51 NIV) and move on.  Money isn't worth jeopardizing your entire business.

In the article where Microsoft vows to play by China's rules, they are not any better than Google.  Just wait until the core of their business is hacked and it will be very interesting to see how they respond.  It's coming; it's just a matter of when.

In case you are not aware, the USA owes China trillions of dollars. They buy our Treasury notes and bills. They effectively loan us money. Lots of money. They are keeping us afloat as our national operating deficit continues to mount.

Their economy is growing at a faster rate than anyone's. Their combination of communism and capitalism is unique, but is apparently effective. They have a right to run their country however they decide.

So, if your company wants to do business with the fastest growing economy in the world, then it would behoove one to do all one can to follow their rules of engagement -- their laws as a sovereign nation -- to stay in their good graces to make some serious profit. The Chinese are running things in the world, economically speaking. They have a strong balance of trade, compared to the U.S. They deserve our respect.
- C. Sam

Bully for Microsoft. It appears that they are making some right moves.

If they are operating on Chinese soil, it's a little like civil disobedience.  You violate the law at the risk of having to pay the consequences -- and in a place like China, those consequences could be pretty severe. 

I think what Google did was courageous -- but in the long run, the right choice.  Since the "Tiananmen Square" demonstrations (years ago now) and since China decided to open its markets to the West, the days of blatant censorship have been numbered.  Slowly but surely, the Chinese people have begun to stand up to their government and the government's control over information is slipping away.   

Every act of resistance, even from the outside, serves the long-term interests of the people of China and, indirectly, people everywhere.   
-C. Mark

I think the sovereignty of each country needs to be respected. It is about time countries stood up for their own rights and not be dictated to by people with vested interests.

There is no such thing as real democracy (even in the U.S.).
- Rocky

Here are some of your responses when asked about Windows OS upgrade plans:

We finally got 80 laptops updated to a standard Windows XP image nine month ago.  We plan to upgrade those laptops to Windows 7 either fourth-quarter 2010 or first-quarter 2011.

I don't plan on updating any servers until they are either migrated to our new blade center or until they die.  Several servers are going off physical hardware to virtualized environment on blades and will have their OS upgraded to Server 2008.  The database server will move to Server 2008 R2, coming from Server 2003 R2 64-bit.
- Greg

No Windows upgrade plans at all.

Whatever version of Windows an existing machine has, it'll keep; any new equipment will keep whatever Windows version it comes with.

Unless, of course, I decide it might be worth installing an Ubuntu distribution, in which case it'll be dual-booting.
- Fred

One reader wrote in to enlighten Doug on what exactly BizTalk does:

I work for a Electricity distribution company in Canada.  One of our guiding principals is that we buy software before try and custom build it.  The result is we have a standard assessment procedure and have purchased a third-party work order management system.  These two systems need to be able to "talk" to each other but are unable to do so natively.  Both of these systems have their own interfaces and use different technologies to do so.  In the case of SAP, it will communicate with other systems using IDOCs, RFCs, BAPIs and Web Services. The Work Order Management system communicates with other systems using a File System or MQ Series Queue.  Not only do we have a communication gap, but both of these systems are speaking their own language.  Each system uses different data formats and message formats.  Without some sort of middleware, both of these systems are on islands.  We use BizTalk to bridge these two systems, provide a traditional Enterprise Application Integration and manage a Business Process.
A real world example of how we use BizTalk is the following use case:

    1. Customer calls in to let us know that their power is down
    2. Contact Centre agent looks up customer record in SAP
    3. Contact Centre agent creates a trouble ticket in SAP
    4. SAP sends this IDoc to BizTalk
    5. BizTalk receives IDoc using SAP Adapter (included in BizTalk)
    6. BizTalk will transform this IDoc into a "Create Event" for the work order management system
    7. Create Event is dropped onto MQ Queue so it can be retrieved by work order management system
    8. Work order management system will then dispatch to a power line technician in the field
    9. As the power line technician works on customer issue, order updates are sent from work order management System to BizTalk
    10. BizTalk will then transform work order management order updates into SAP IDoc updates and send to SAP
    11. Contact centre agents can view order updates in near real time
    12. When the job is complete, the power line technician will close the order and include any materials used to complete job
    13. BizTalk will receive close job message, transform that message into two messages; one to close the order and one to record materials used
    14. BizTalk will send both the close order IDOC and materials IDoc to SAP
    15. SAP now has a complete record of all events that occurred for that job.
Finally, a reader shares another satirical article from the Onion:

Saw this recently, and thought you/Redmond readers may get a chuckle out of it.
- Scott

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. 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 March 31, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments

Garage Company Stuck in Neutral

If you've never read The Onion, you might want to start. This site has satire in the tradition of the old National Lampoon, though a heckuva lot cleaner. Nat Lamp died before the computer market really took hold, so it is The Onion that can skewer our favorite devices and vendors.

A recent story talks about a computer company that began in a garage three decades ago, and is now in a smaller garage.

While not nearly as funny as stuff they've written about Steve Jobs, it is a fairly clever little piece of humor. If you find something funnier, shoot the link to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on March 29, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments

Banging Out a New Bing

Last December we ran a story (Bing, Bang, Boom!) that you all helped to write. The whole idea was that we asked what you thought of something and you wrote an entire story based on your, and only your opinions. Turns out you liked Bing quite a bit, though few were ready to give up the Google.

Now Microsoft is prepping a brand new Bing due this spring (which means it could be any day now, but is likely a few months off).

The entire look will apparently be revamped, and there will be more real-time info from sites such as Twitter. There will also be more contextual information, so instead of a bunch of simple results when you query on "baking bread," it will give you sites related to the process of baking rather than random sites about bread.

What do you think of Bing? What is your favorite search engine? Has anyone used Wolfram Alpha? Search your brain and send your top result to [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on March 29, 2010 at 11:53 AM3 comments

Doug's Mailbag: Web Censorship vs. Free Speech Debate Continues

We continue to go through your responses to Doug's censorship vs. free speech blog:

I don't know which is worse: that members of the KKK read your newsletter or that I agreed with him on freedom of speech. I was surprised and appalled when I read the signature on the letter after reading and mostly agreeing with it. Thankfully, I don't agree with the hatred of anyone different than me.

I totally agree that the right to preach your beliefs and to find like-minded people should be protected. However, my freedom cannot and should not impinge on someone else's freedoms. The minute the speech goes from beliefs to threats, that threshold has not only been crossed, but destroyed.

I, however, do not agree with the whole hate speech thing. It's a slippery slope to start to say that one type of speech is protected, but another is not – that is how dictators come to power. We must be vigilant to protect all individual's freedoms (whether we agree with them or not), lest we all become pawns to another's goals and find we've lost our freedoms.

The freedoms of speech and thought are basic human rights.

To deny them validates the beliefs of those who irrationally fear those whom they demonize and strengthens both the position and the intensity of their language.

Censorship also denigrates those who deny these freedoms by allowing them to forget or marginalize the humanity of those they are censoring.

Live and let live, speak and allow others to speak, listen and learn.

You don't have to agree with what you hear and discuss but open discourse is the best way to combat the hateful beliefs and misconceptions which drive intolerant speech. O
Open discourse is also the only lasting way to open the minds of others, which ultimately frees people from intolerant ideas.


So the Rabbi thinks we should censor and persecute particular groups he feels are a negative influence on society? That's never been done, so let's give it a try! Maybe we should elect him to a high office so he has the power to really get things done.

The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best -- and therefore never scrutinize or question.

I appreciate your thoughts. I find this whole issue a major quandary. While I find hate speech repugnant, who defines "hate?" Google pulls it services from China because of censorship. I suspect that China thinks that the pro-democracy messages that they have been censoring are hate speech. A devout Muslim considers a critical cartoon about Mohammed to be hateful, but a critical cartoon about Jews (or Christians or Hindus or…) to be righteous. As a Christian, there are behaviors that I oppose, but if I state that the Bible says those behaviors are wrong, I am speaking hate. I personally try to separate the person from their action, but it can be a challenge.

Ugly mess this freedom stuff. Causes all sorts of problems. Is it all or none?

As much as I would love to segregate the hate-mongers from the rest of society, we have a long tradition of letting speech speak for itself. Those that don't hate can easily recognize those that that do, so there is really no sense in censoring such speech.

More importantly, the slippery slope is that restricting hate speech can lead to restricting all sorts of ideas based upon the beliefs of those doing the restricting. There are those who "hate" conservatives and there are those that "hate" liberals.  There are also those who hate Christians, Muslims or Jews. Mostly, there are those that hate anything or anybody who is somehow different than themselves.

Who censors the censors? And who protects each person's right to speak (even of their position is idiotic) if it is not us?

Some consider Michelangelo's David and Playboy magazine equally pornographic and would restrict both -- yet the Supreme Court agrees than pornography is not illegal and though obscenity is illegal, the high court can't seem to decide what constitutes obscenity.

The bottom line is that if I don't get to judge what I should or should not access, who does? You? Congress? POTUS? Should we have Web censors like we have (broadcast) TV censors?

I am concerned that illegal activity on the Web cannot be traced to the perpetrators or even to the jurisdiction where the illegal activity takes place.

If there was some way to categorize Web content by type (without prejudice) and by the identity and credentials of the source, it would be much easier for the typical user to tell whether or not a source is reliable. If I could read Web-based content and be sure of the credentials of the source, the legitimacy of a Web site, and the identity of the person sending me spam, I would be much happier.

The fact that there is so much hate in the world is certainly disturbing but the idea that somehow gagging those that express such hate will make them, or their like-minded readers, hate any less is simply ridiculous.

Only an open expression of ideas among honest people will reveal the truth and falsehoods of unfettered speech.  
-C Mark

I think that your recognition of the hate problem is great. I am not sure what the solution is short of censorship. I believe that pressure should be put on the hosting sites, but even that may not work because many of the sites are in foreign countries. There are several e-mail lists that send out vicious racial and religious comments. Again, I am not sure of a good solution but I would very much like to see something done.

Here's my not-so-hidden agenda on Web hate-speech. I'm a Scientologist.

For that, I've been told on the Web, "I hope you die in a fire." I've heard more f-bombs than sailors' barracks. In the real world, I've found two notes advocating death to Scientologists.

Visit any Web news that mentions Scientology -- even its prominent members -- and you'll find its comment section an armory of hatred dripping with venom.

YouTube prints cesspools of rage, four-letter words and expressions of violence under any unmoderated Scientology-related video. And under videos about any other minority you can name.

In my experience, ABCNews is the only major news site that takes seriously "violation reports" about readers' posts that violate its terms of service. Most sites have no one-click way to report violations; you have to go searching. At the far end of the scale is the St. Petersburg Times, which only purges outright vulgarity about Scientology. A zillion micro-sites and blogs purge nothing on any topic.

As to censoring hate-speech on the Web, my gut so agrees with Rabbi Cooper!

But what if my emotions are wrong? Should we let Web hate-speech alone?

If hate-crazies aren't allowed to vent, posture and display their anger verbally to their Web buddies -- and get their team's "attaboys" -- might they increase actual violence against Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, other minorities and Scientologists?

If that's a possible trade-off, I'll take their virtual, verbal violence over physical.

My own opinion is that the Web should be a free-for-all! This is not to say that we should not educate and speak out against all hate, pornography and the bad the Internet has to offer, but we must remember "freedom is not free". We all must pay a price to remain "free" and if that payment is to allow a free Internet, then so be it. At what point do we stop restricting what people have to say, and who will be the judge of what is considered appropriate? Remember that you have the choice to visit or not, and the real reason to keep the Internet free is the fact that you do have a choice. We are not China!

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. 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 March 29, 2010 at 11:53 AM8 comments

Google's China Loss Is Bing's Gain

As you probably know, Google no longer has a native search engine for mainland China. but instead redirects users to its uncensored Hong Kong engine. This all stems from a dispute over Chinese hacking which made the government-mandated censorship suddenly unacceptable.

What's interesting is that Hong Kong is now officially part of China proper. However, the Chinese authorities have wisely let Hong Kong hang onto some of its long-held freedoms and run it as a separate "administrative region."

Always on the lookout for opportunity, Microsoft continues to follow the Chinese rules and is actually looking to get bigger in China, Microsoft now says.

What do you think? Should American companies follow the rules of other countries even if they conflict with our values? Shoot me your ideas at [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on March 29, 2010 at 11:53 AM8 comments

Doug's Mailbag: Web Censorship vs. Free Speech, Apple vs. Google vs. Microsoft, More

Doug's Wednesday blog item about Web censorship not only brought in a deluge of letters from all of you (see below), but also one from a spokesperson from the Klu Klux Klan:

When the day comes you silence all opposition, America will have ceased to exist. Silence the Ku Klux Klan and you muzzle this nation permanently.

With no voice of dissention what would have happened to the Watergate story? Having only one side of an argument means you get no truth at all.

Learn the lessons of propaganda: is propaganda your truth, my truth or the truth. The answer is my truth, I don't care about your truth and the truth is what you decide it is. If we take away your truth, and my truth do we get the truth? No, far from it. You will then have no way to reach the truth.

Likewise, hate is what you say it is. If I dislike green beans will you say I hate all vegetables? If I love lima beans does that mean I love all vegetables?

What has made America the country it is? The right to speak, publish and preach your truth, trusting the public to know what to ignore and what is to be called truth.

- Rev. Dr. Travis Pierce, National Membership Dir.
The Ku Klux Klan, LLC.

And here's your take:

The Web should be a free-for-all without censorship. After all, who is going to censor it? If I censor the Internet, I know that I will make certain groups angry (, Salon, ACORN) due to my definition of hate speech. I didn't like many things President Bush was doing but I still believed it to be hate speech to call for his hanging, showing him as Hitler, etc. I would very much dislike having those groups in charge of censorship. Leave it free and everyone can be offended, if they so please.

I would make one exception: if the action is illegal, then the Internet should reflect that (NAMBLA is an example, as pedophilia is illegal).

Just read your Redmond Report newsletter, which I read religiously. While I feel that hate groups and hate speech to be very morally wrong and disgusting, especially in this day and age, I think censorship is far worse. It's a slippery slope to go down. Who knows what's next, especially if it ended up to some government agency to regulate and enforce? These guys couldn't manage making a ham sandwich (and no, I'm not wearing a tinfoil hat either). This is a human issue I feel that needs to be fixed through education, not technology.

Someone much smarter than I once said something to the effect, "I may completely disagree with what someone says, but I will fight to the death to defend their right to say it." Any censorship on the Internet is the start of a slippery slope toward providers deciding what can and cannot be passed over their networks. Giving any monolithic entity that sort of power is extremely dangerous.

It should be left alone. Otherwise, who gets to decide what's allowed on the Web? Maybe haters will get in power and they will then decide, like in Nazi Germany. The truth will set you free!

As much as I despise the garbage that is spewed by hate groups, I don't feel that censorship is the issue. Unfortunately, I don't have an alternative. The problem is that with the advent of the Internet, this crap is available to one in the comfort of one's own home, as opposed to having to “work” a bit to seek out like-minded individuals, as in the past. In effect, they are closeted racists and bigots. Additionally, hate mail is forwarded by people with little or no thought as to the damage that's being done when they do so. I am certain that everyone has received forwarded racist “jokes” that one would not speak to another for fear of being labeled a bigot.

I have taken a stand in my small way by replying to the sender, suggesting that they certainly did not mean to forward something of this nature and asking them to please not send anything like this to me again. I also suggest they think about how they're presenting themselves, either overtly or inadvertently. One person was the mother of a friend who would pass these freely on. She was offended at me when I called her attention to what she was forwarding -- fairly ironic. We have mended our friendship and she does not forward those items to me, though I'm uncertain about the rest of her e-friends.

The freedoms of speech and thought are basic human rights.

To deny them validates the beliefs of those who irrationally fear those whom they demonize and strengthens both the position and the intensity of their language. Censorship also denigrates those who deny these freedoms by allowing them to forget or marginalize the humanity of those they are censoring.

Live and let live, speak and allow others to speak, listen and learn.

You do not have to agree with what you hear and discuss but open discourse is the best way to combat the hateful beliefs and misconceptions which drive intolerant speech. Open discourse is also the only lasting way to open the minds of others, which ultimately frees people from intolerant ideas.

I am the member of an ethnic group that is one of the main targets of a number of these hate groups and I say a resounding NO to restricting them. One thing that has to be remembered is the person, group, etc determining what should be restricted today may/will not be the one making the decisions in the future. When that person, group, etc is changed, what is considered hate today will change and it won't fit the current definition of hate.

The only real deterrent to hate is vigilance, education and activism -- out of which, hopefully, comes reasonable, responsible people and laws.

I don 't agree that networks should be unrestricted.  If we start with criminal behavior and work forward, we can see that there are restrictions on various forms of speech in our open society.  There is no divine right to “say anything, anytime, anywhere.”  The easy anonymity of the Web has inspired many who would not venture out in daylight.

I am hopeful that the spirit of the law can be applied, perhaps refined slightly, to apply to hate Web sites and networks.  There is real damage caused by hate speech (fighting words) and there should be real legal and civil consequences.

Who would be responsible for deciding what is and is not acceptable?  Perhaps my view of not acceptable includes not allowing tech-related information to be exchanged, since that might enable my users to DIY themselves into a mess of a computer.  Maybe someone else wants to keep me from accessing Facebook, where I keep in touch with friends old and new, some of whom I haven 't seen in person for 25 years.

If parents want kids to see only kid-friendly stuff, they should be monitoring what their kids are doing.

If employers want their people to only work, that 's their business if it 's their connection and equipment.

But if someone tries telling me I cannot say what I want in a public forum dedicated to the topic I am discoursing upon, that takes away my freedom of speech and is not acceptable.  I agree not everything should be said, done or maybe even thought. But this is America, and freedom is a right not to be given up so lightly.

The demoncrats already call ANYTHING conservative hate speech. Then they start calling conservatives all sorts of hateful names. Banning hate speech will end all speech that's not government approved.

Consider how politically correct is used. Check how China treats bloggers. Also, remember that the Tiananmen Square massacre never happened, according to the Chinese government.

Today you can Google Tiananmen Square and read about it. Maybe not tomorrow.

Where is Buffy when you need her?

You may publish my comment but not my ID. I fear what was my government. The November elections will be suspended.I'm a normal computer guy otherwise.

I think that the Web should be a free-for-all. But I also think that it shouldn't have the same rules as wire taps and evidence collection. When a person posts something to the Web he does not expect to have the same privacy as he would have over the phone. When you call someone, that's personal communication. The Web is a public forum so anything you say can be used in a legal matter. What about social sites like Facebook and Myspace? It would depend if the owner limits who can access their information. If it is by invitation-only, then it would fall under the wiretap rules. If anyone can see it, then it would not. While on the subject, how about the arcane rule about encryption only have a limited key i.e. PGP with 128 bit encryption? If you want or need to encrypt your info, so be it. We have the right to privacy just like the law has the right to collect evidence. It's not our responsibility to assist the investigators in collecting evidence against us.
-Paul Bonney

With the battle lines drawn between Apple, Microsoft and Google for mobile supremacy, here are some of your thoughts on who will reign supreme:

I'm with Google. While I have a lot of hatred for Microsoft for many of their practices, Apple is worse. Apple wants complete control, wants everyone else shut out and wants competitors to just accept it.

I'm rooting for all. The competition is a very healthy thing. I carry an iPhone (and love it) but know that if no one challenges the leader then Apple will get to big for their britches, and, regardless of which company it is, lose respect for the customer. It also spurs innovation. The iPhone, for example, is a great product, but the pace of innovation will slow if there's no one there to push them. If there was no AMD what kind of processors would Intel be producing today?

I like the simple elegance of Apple products. I also appreciate the flexibility and creativity that an Android (open source) option can bring to individuals and hardware makers alike.

Your blog points out that Google is taking a Microsoft approach -- they'll build the software and invite others to build the hardware. I would say that I root for Apple. I think that the fact that they build both is a strength of theirs.

Sent from my iPod because droids are only cool in a Star Wars movie.

What is Apple's alternative? Surely they aren't pushing that cludgy, buggy and nightmarish QuickTime? Or is there something else they have that I'm not thinking of?
And on the other side, isn't Microsoft pushing Silverlight for mobile applications?


Doug asks for your favorite and least-favorite virt venders. You respond:

My favorite vendor is VMware, for the win. They offer:

- Live Migration for killer functionality
- Dynamically powering on and off servers(well, idling them) for killer functionality
- Resource pools and over subscription for killer functionality that will enable the future of hosting solutions!!!!

For my least favorite… I like and dislike things about all of them.


We are a VMware shop. Out of 500 servers, at least two-thirds are virtual and running on ESX. It just works. Disaster Recovery, backup and upgrading software (with snaps) are all much easier now.

So when it came to VDI, we obviously tried View. That fell on its face. We're now using Citrix's XenDesktop running on the ESX hypervisor. Have there been issues? Yes. Any new technology has issues. But the user experience is so much better with XenDesktop.

We may always be a VMware shop. But with the prices they're charging, that may change in the future.

Here's some more of your responses for the possibility of third-party patches in Microsoft's Patch Tuesdays:

I think its a good idea. My home system, which runs Ubuntu, keeps all my software up-to-date. I think third-party software running on Windows should be updated due to the fact that the update process is not the easiest thing to keep up with, especially being a system admin that's busy with other things. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "I need my Adobe (Flash) updated." I just don't have the time to keep flash updated on 100 or so workstations. I have it set so all machines in the organization check and install updates. Having Flash and other Adobe software updated with automatic updates would be great.

I strongly agree with the consensus amongst your readers that Adobe products being included with the Microsoft patches would be a really good thing, especially because many of the patches are not cumulative and a reboot is needed after each.

There is also another problem I've come across: I've deployed Acrobat and Adobe Reader via Group Policy. Ever try using Adobe 's auto patch method when the app is managed that way? Forget it. The only way I know to do it is to add the patch to your install point and actually redeploy the app package every time you want to update it. This means a long delay at boot time for the end user. I hope that if MS distributes for Adobe, the patches will install even when the app is managed, such as it does for managed Office applications.

That's a BIG YAY!

Finally, unlike the defunct company and product names sent to Doug, your answers don't end:

I still have an Amiga Technologies Inc A4000T that has been running for 13 years, non-stop (except for hard drive and fan replacements). It's my house controller, using CyberCron to execute CyberX10 commands to control X10 power modules (light switches and outlets).
It also has a PhonePAK, which is my telephone answering machine. And I listen to CDs on it.


It has to be the Singer minicomputer. Only ever saw one at the Arthur Andersen training center in St. Charles, Ill. Singer's the only sewing machine company I know of that branched out in this direction.

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. 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 March 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM3 comments

BizTalk Talks the Talk

I have to admit I don't fully understand BizTalk. Middleware is always a bit imprecise to me, and BizTalk is no different. And service-oriented architecture, in which BizTalk plays, is confusing to me even after reading an entire book about it.

So forgive me if my report on the next version of BizTalk lacks depth.

What I do know is that BizTalk is all about integrating software systems in what used to be called enterprise application integration. BizTalk talks the talk by integrating with over two dozen major applications such as SQL Server, SAP, Oracle, Seibel, DB2 and PeopleSoft.

Now let's talk about deliverables. BizTalk 2009 R2 will now be BizTalk 2010 and, apparently, will ship this year. New features include a new dashboard, hooks to System Center, better connections to trading partners and updated support for SAP and Oracle eBusiness Suite.

Do you use BizTalk? If so, how? Explain it all at [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on March 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments

Communication Server Upgrade Coming

I recently got a demo of Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Exchange, SQL Server and Communications Server all working together. It is a rich and complex offering, with myriad ways of communicating. We used to have a telephone, fax and the postal mail. Now with this combo we have telephony, e-mail, video, Web conferencing, instant messaging and various kinds of alerts -- plus you can still use fax and the U.S. mail!

For me, a simple man of the past, it's a bit too much. It's like you spend all your time communicating and no time working.

The good news is IT groups can choose which mechanisms to invoke, maximizing communication efficiency while minimizing disruption.

All of this is prelude to news about the next version of Office Communicator Server. The new rev, expected this year, doesn't just detect whether you are present on the network, but where you are physically. As a boss, this is tempting. As an employee, it seems a little uncomfortable.

Do you use Communicator (Redmond claims over 100 million adherents)? If so, share your thoughts via a simple e-mail at [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on March 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments

Dell: Windows 7 a Winner

Dell is not exactly known as a research company, but with its reach into IT shops around the world, one could argue the hardware maker could out research Gartner or IDC. So I am presuming the company's findings that 87 percent of IT folks will adopt Win 7 are credible.

One reason the percentage is so high, Dell said, is because Win 7 has been proven fast and reliable.

I've been hearing from a lot of you about your trials dealing with budget cuts and layoffs. One thing cuts have hurt is upgrade plans. One reader's shop is still on Windows 2000 and has no plans to move. If it were a better economy, I'd bet the planned adoption number would be well above 90 percent.

What are your upgrade plans for Windows clients or servers? Tell us all by writing [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on March 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments

Doug's Mailbox: Third-Party Submissions for Patch Tuesday, More

Here are some of your responses for Doug's idea of third-party patches, like Adobe, being bundled with Microsoft's Patch Tuesdays:

Huge YAY from me! Currently, Adobe requires a "Yes, Install" click and a manual restart for the installation of patches. For many of the users in my office, they just don't take the time to do this and thus the software goes without the update.

 I would be thrilled to have the updates installed automatically so I don't have to worry about the Adobe security holes being open on the workstation computers in the office.

Also, I wouldn't have to go around to every workstation to ensure that the updates have actually been installed.

Yes, please make Adobe patches part of Patch Tuesday. We need an easy way to patch Adobe products and harden our Microsoft OS systems. Pushing patches via WSUS gives us some hope that the Adobe products will be effectively patched.

Adding third-party software to Patch Tuesday would help to improve the overall security rating of all those PCs on the internet and I think it may help those PCs from becoming Spam-Bots.
- Raymond

With Microsoft, IBM and Azure all vying for a piece of the cloud computing pie, Doug wants to know who you trust to deliver the best experience. One reader believes there is already a clear choice:

IBM, because I haven't heard any negative press on their entry. And I don't hear about AS400's and OS390's crashing.
- Pat

Finally, here are some more of your responses for your top companies or products that have gone the way of the dodo:

Atari for the Atari 2600. This put game consoles on the map.

The Coleco Adam home computer. It was affectionately known as the "adam bomb" due to poor sales.
- John 

My favorite defunct product is the eight-track. It was practical, robust and had good fidelity.
- Carlos

Your article brought up many memories. The VIC-20 was the first computer I could barely afford in college.

Prior to serving time with Wang systems (more on that later) my career started on Data General equipment. Their OS was phenomenal (this was 1983) but their hardware sucked. If you accidentally kicked one of the support legs, the system would crash. Also they had just released their VS series that was a full 32bit!

I used a Wang VS100 for a year in 1984. The system drove me nuts! It was entirely function key driven. No GUI or command line interface. It had a secret box inside of it that did the word processing. None of the service techs really knew what it did, they just knew not to touch it. 

If I had to choose my favorite dead product, I would vote for the HP3000. We had one at our office when I started in 1985. We went through five different versions over 20 years and the original software written would still run. The product line is dead now but there are still people using it.

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. 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 March 24, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments

Select Selection Superseded

Microsoft's first even enterprise volume license plan, Select is being discontinued and replaced by Select Plus.

If you don't want to move up to Select Plus, you'll need to renew your Select license by July 2011.

One of the key differences is that Select pricing is based on forecasts, while Select Plus is based on actual purchases. Select Plus also offers more flexibility when you purchase with the aim of eliminating cases where IT paid for licenses for new software but couldn't use them because delivery dates slipped.

Experts, while not happy that one option is going away, believe that Select Plus is far simpler for IT to manage.

Has Microsoft licensing improved in recent years? You tell me at [email protected].

CORRECTION: The year 2011 was inadvertently left off at the end of the second paragraph, above. It has been added. Our apologies for this error -- Becky Nagel, Editor

Posted by Doug Barney on March 24, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments

Web of Hate

In 1996 I was news editor at Network World and just starting to use the Internet (I was all CompuServe before that). There was this thing called a search engine where you type in a word or phrase and find stuff.  I tried all kinds of kooky things and then typed in "KKK." I was curious if the KKK had a Web site. I soon found hundreds of hate sites, all recruiting members, selling hate music, T-shirts and linking to one-another, forming a virtual mesh of hate.

I decided this would make a pretty cool story. I interviewed some of the haters and then talked to Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center who mentioned that hate speech might have to be censored on the Internet. The story caused a firestorm, not just by exposing the recruiting tactics, but more so for censorship.

Rabbi Cooper, who was a phenomenal resource, is at it again. This time he's chronicling how social networks are the new "Web of hate."

The article brought back memories and made clear that Rabbi Cooper has a nearly identical view 14 years later. Here is the last sentence of the NYT article: "The goal is to get the collective genius of the Internet to help combat this problem," he said.

Here is the last sentence of mine from 14 years ago: "We need to engage in a consortium, get some of the collective genius that created the 'Net' and the providers to come up with technology strategy," Cooper said. "We will be approaching a couple of thousand companies and asking, do you have rules and will you consider them?"

Do you think the Web should be a free-for-all or should hate speech and other unseemly items be restricted? Send your unguarded thoughts to [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on March 24, 2010 at 11:53 AM15 comments