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Showing posts from April, 2008

Microsoft COFEE device

I've been keeping up today with a story that was reported in the Seattle Times regading the Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor device Microsoft has made available to law enforcement agencies. So far I've read Ed Bott's response and recently The Register's response and I have to say that I think that they are overreacting at this. I'm going to go through some of the points made in The Register article below, my points are in bold.

Microsoft has reportedly developed a USB key that allows investigators to
extract forensic data from PCs.
COFEE (Computer Online Forensic Evidence
Extractor) comes in a USB key form factor, and was distributed to a small number
of law-enforcement agencies last June, the Seattle Times
reports. The device includes 150 tools that allow
investigators to extract internet history files, for example, or "decrypt
The 150 tools are simply based on the 150 commands that forensic experts must enter anyway and that normally take…

XP3 Pulled From Windows Update

Microsoft have pulled Windows XP SP3 from Windows Update at the last moment due to incompatibility issues. Paul Thurrott has the following quote from Microsoft on his blog regarding the delay:
In the last few days, we have uncovered a compatibility issue between
Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) and Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1). Microsoft Dynamics RMS is a retail chain management solution for small and midsize customers.
In order to make sure customers have the best possible experience we have decided to delay releasing Windows XP SP3 to Windows Update and Microsoft Download Center.
To help protect our customers, we plan to put filtering in place shortly to prevent Windows Update from offering both service packs to systems running Microsoft Dynamics RMS. Once filtering is in place, we expect to release Windows XP SP3 to Windows Update and Download Center.
Until we have published a fix for this issue, we advise
Microsoft Dynamics RMS customers to not …

Ed Bott on Vista UAC

Ed Bott contiunes his excellent series of articles on fixing Windows Vista with an article on taming Vista UAC. The UAC is an excellent security feature in my opinion and in daily use I do not see UAC any more often than I would see Leopard's permission request window so I can't see the problem with it. However for those out there that normally turn UAC off please read this article first. It outlines how to get rid of the annoyance without having to seriously compromise security.

Messenger 7 for Mac Released

Microsoft have released version 7 of Windows Messenger for Mac. I'll be downloading it later and will post more on it then but I've taken a quick look through the features that are on offer and to be honest they're a little disappointing. For business users there's a number of great features but for the home users it's still far behind the Windows version of the product. Still, it's great to have Messenger on the Mac and was one of the first things I downloaded when I got my Macbook.


Microsoft No. 1 Tech Company

Fortune has published a list of the 20 most profitable tech companies and Microsoft is at no. 1 again with $14.1 billion in earnings last year. The top 5 in the list are:
1. Microsoft

2. IBM - $10.4 billion

3. Cisco - $7.3 billion

4. HP - $7.3 billion

5. Intel - $7 billion

Google and Apple came in 7th and 8th with $4.2 billion and $3.5 billion respectively. For a company that certain people are claiming is collapsing and who are supposed to have released an OS that is alledgedly massive failure, personally I have no problems with it but that's another post, they've still made some pretty good money this year. They really would be unstoppable in a few years if the Yahoo merger goes through and turns out to be a success, however, expect Microsoft to slip down the list next year if the Yahoo takeover goes through because $44billion to purchase Yahoo, let alone the cost of actually bringing the companies together, is a lot of money even for the Seattle Giant.

Asda offering £5 phones!

Asda, the supermarket chain in the UK, has started offering mobile phones for £5. The phones in question are basic but this is certainly a great deal for anyone looking for a cheap but quality pay as you go mobile. The models on offer are: Sagem My212x: Sagem My220x: Sagem My150x: Nokia 1112:

iPhone Sold Out!

I got a very interesting email from Carphone Warehouse today informing me that they had officially sold out of iPhones.Thanks to the most phenomenal response to the promotion, The Carphone Warehouse is now out of stock on the Apple iPhone....Carphone do not expect to receive any additional stock at this time.It's not the sales that surprise me it's the expectation that no additional stock will be received. I wonder does this mean the 8Gb is disappearing and the 3G one is on the way. Time will tell I suppose.

There's A Flaw In Cloud Plan

As I've mentioned in previous posts the computer network in my current job is very restrictive. There are good reasons for this of course and I can certainly see the logic behind it but working in this environment has brought me to a realisation that I've yet to see mentioned on other sites, Cloud Computing has to fail. In my last job and at home, obviously, I have access to all the services online I want and can hook it up to any installed software I want and create a nice services and software architecture. This is great in a limited environment. In my current situation most people do not have access to Google, Yahoo or MSN. They cannot install Live, Adobe AIR or Google Gears. This presents a massive flaw in the cloud computing mission.

I've had my reservations about the move to online services for a while now and while I'm not against progress, as long as it's actually beneficial, I can't help but feel that this bubble is going to burst sooner or later. You s…

Microsoft Gives Yahoo Free Advertising

A study by SearchIgnite has shown that Yahoo's search and ad business grew faster than Google's in Q1. While it's easy to jump to conclusions and say that Yahoo's plan to fend off Microsoft is working perfectly and business is back on track it's difficult for me to look past the possibility that advertisers are backing Yahoo because of the Microsoft deal. With everyone talking about this deal, traffic to Yahoo must be increasing as people visit to have a look at what Yahoo have to offer. The idea that Microsoft are interested therefore Yahoo must have something of quality has to have occurred to other people. Is there anyone else out there who is visiting Yahoo more since the deal was talked about because I know I am. Leave a comment if you are.

The New Trojan War

Microsoft has released it's Security Intelligence Report for July through December.  There are some interesting conclusions in this report such asDuring 2H07 the MSRT proportionally cleaned malware from 60% less Windows Vista-based computers compared to computers running Windows XP Service Pack 2.
Similarly, the MSRT proportionally cleaned malware from 87% less Windows Vista-based computers than from computers running Windows XP with Service Pack 1 installed, and 91.5% less than from computers running Windows XP without any Service Pack
installed.The most significant statistic in this report however is the increase in the number of Trojans.During the second half of 2007 there was a 300% increase in the number of trojan downloaders and droppers detected and removed. The increase observed in 2H07 is vastly larger than the already large increase observed between 2H06 and 1H07. Clearly this category of malware has become a tool of choice for some attackers. IT Professionals a…

Live Mesh Is Here

I'm probably the last person to blog about this but I'm going to do it anyway. Microsoft has announced the availability of Live Mesh. This is Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie's 'big' project. The build up for this started back in October 2005. Mary Jo Foley has the following top 10 things to know on her blog:1. The definition. As has become the norm with so many of its Software + Services products and strategies, Microsoft isn’t the best at coming up with a succinct Live Mesh definition. The closest I found (in a Live Mesh reviewer’s guide) was this: “Live Mesh is a ’software-plus-services’ platform and experience from Microsoft that enables PCs and other devices to ‘come alive’ by making them aware of each other through the Internet, enabling individuals and organizations to manage, access, and share their files and applications seamlessly on the Web and across their world of devices.” If I were in charge of defining Live Mesh, I think I’d go with “a Software + …

Ed Bott Fixes Vista

Ed Bott has written an article that walks us through some steps on repairing Windows Vista and getting it up to speed. This is a great read for anyone who owns a Sony Vaio laptop with Vista installed and is cursing how slow it is. He make the point that the problems with Vista on this laptop have nothing to do with the Operating System itself but has to do with the substandard drivers and the crapware that Sony have installed on it, a point I've been making for a while now. I have a Sony laptop running Windows XP, it's not running XP because I hate Vista it's just because the machine is 3 years old :). XP is terrible on it when it is rebuilt simply because of the amount of junk Sony put on it. It takes me a good 3 hours to get it up to speed and another hour to get the lateset drivers found and installed. Ed talks about not wanting this free stuff and I completely agree with him. I don't want Norton or the Office trial and I always remove the Vaio's media playing s…

Having To Resort To Google

I'm now working away in an environment that means that I cannot download any of the Windows Live applications I would normally use, i.e. Live Writer, Outlook Connector and Live Messenger. I'm going to ignore Messenger simply because I cannot even get Windows Messenger to work due to built in restrictions but the others are more of an issue. I personally do not like the current trend towards moving entire applications to the Cloud and I prefer having information stored in the cloud but accessed from a lightweight app installed on my machine. For example I like the fact that I can get my email into Outlook through the connector and I can set up RSS feeds. However it annoys me that I cannot setup a shared area online from which Outlook will download the feeds. I know Google has Reader, and I'm using it now that I can't access Live, but I want a shared area where any of my devices can access my RSS feeds which are stored on Live and are up-to-date. The software-and-service…

Yahoo! Do Enough Thankfully

Yahoo! announced their Q1 results today and as expected they are strong, not amazing but string none the less. Now the ball arrives back into Microsoft's court and we wait to see when they will up their offer for Yahoo, I suspect to $35 per share. I would feel however that this is now the time for Microsoft to withdraw from the deal completely. A final offer from Microsoft for about $33 per share would be a good next move. Once that bid is rejected the next step will be to either attempt to replace the Yahoo! board if they're that desperate to take them over or withdraw from the bid altogether. Within a couple of days I hope to take a full look at Yahoo! and MSN offerings and see just how far away from being truly competitive Microsoft actually are but I suspect if the money being spent trying to take over Yahoo! was spent on R&D and hiring new blood Microsoft wouldn't have to worry so much.

Microsoft To Take A Leaf From Apple's Book?

At a Seattle event on Thursday Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talked about areas Microsoft will focus on in the future. While much is being made of the comments he's made about Windows Vista many people seem to be disregarding the comment he made regarding hardware. He talked about Paul Allen approaching Bill Gates in the early days and talking to him about building computers and each time Bill would say no, Microsoft are a software company not a hardware company. At the end he said, "We're on that same strategy 30 years later ... but we do have an expansive vision." While we could assume that he's talking about the Zune and the XBox I personally don't believe he is. Apple have been given credit for how efficiently their OS runs and a major reason for this efficiency is the fact that the hardware and software are so closely tied. If Microsoft started to build own brand PC's optimised to run Windows 7 and Windows Vista as well as offering the OS to other PC m…

iPhone To Get Keyboard

The Times of London is reporting that Apple has placed an order with it's suppliers for 200,000 of the new 3G iPhones by the end of May. According to reports the new iPhone will be different to the current device. The possibilities given are a flip version giving the user a larger screen and sliding version which would have a fully functioning QWERTY keyboard rather than a touchscreen keyboard.The most likely outcome is that we will see all three versions of the device released. This would give the touchscreen version for users who want music and videos, the flip version for those who want Internet browsing on a larger screen and I would also say easier use of enterprise software and the slide for the average user and the Blackberry users who want a device similar to the one they are using.The release of these three products could catapult Apple into a dominant position in the handheld market and bump RIM into second place. The timing should also guarantee an excellent quarter 2 …

Are We Being Neglected By US Software Companies?

The more times I visit the .com version of major US company's websites the more I feel that we are being shortchanged here in the UK. For example today on the site there were links to downloads and deals for Vista owners, free help to setup a new business and ways to work with slower Internet connections. The site on the other hand had a pixilated looking set of Vista graphics with the headline "Introducing Windows Vista" and then links to a security updates and a trial for Office 2007. You can't seriously be telling me that the same amount of effort goes into the two sites. Windows Vista has been out for over a year! We don't need introduced to it yet again. Come on Microsoft give us the same level of effort at least on your site, it's bad enough that we have yet to see any sign of the Zune over here and those of  us who do own it can't get any help with problems. There's a reason I now own an iPod Touch and Shuffle.Thi…

iPhone Now £169

Carphone Warehouse have announced today that the price of the 8Gb iPhone has gone from £269 to £169. You still have to take a contract but with 600 minutes, 500 texts and unlimited Internet for £35 pounds a month the iPhone is now looking like a viable option. However the question now has to be asked, is the 3G iPhone a short time away and are we better off waiting?For those people who have just bought an iPhone for £269 don't worry Carphone Warehouse are giving you the £100 back.

Is this clear enough for you?

Microsoft's US Senior Manager in charge of Small Business Community Engagement Eric Ligman published a post on Friday outlining, in what he regards as very simple terms, the fact that to upgrade to Windows Vista you must have something there to upgrade from! The article can be found here but I've quoted a couple of paragraphs below,It seems that there are some people out there who don’t quite get the concept of an upgrade.  Some have even written articles fully articulating how little they know.  Because of this, I am going to explain it again and even use pictures to try to make this very simple…You can buy a software full license that gets you the rights to install and run the software. You can buy a software upgrade license that allows you to upgrade from the full license you have to the upgraded product you purchased the upgrade for.andSo if you see anyone stating, or writing, that buying an upgrade by itself (Windows Vista Upgrade for instance) without having a full licen…

Rowling Going Too Far?

JK Rowling and Warner Brothers are suing a Harry Potter fan, Steven Vander Ark, because he was planning to publish a Harry Potter Lexicon, through RDR publishers, based on the contents of his website. The site was setup in 2000 to catalogue the characters, creatures and spells in the Harry Potter universe and was praised by JK herself a few years back. Things have turned sour now however with Rowling claiming that his book amounts to "wholesale theft", as well as accusing Mr Vander Ark of "an act of betrayal" by using her fiction as a basis for his book.Mr Vander Ark has claimed to have read the books "30 or 40 times" and that it has ben an important part of his live for 9 years. I'm sorry but to me this seems like a cheap case. If the Star Trek series had started bringing cases against their fans for publishing books, etc then, while they certainly could've made a few quick pounds, they would've killed off the massive fan base that has brough…

Beginners Guides and Q&A

Just a short post to let readers know that over the next few weeks I'm going to publish articles on for newcomers to the IT world. I'm going to try to clearly explain the terms and as much as possible use clear English. Over the last few weeks I've watched TV shows and read articles about the dangers of the Internet but none of these have actually tried to give people proper step by step advice on how to stay safe. I'm also going to answer some questions users may have regarding their current PC, new PC and future PC's. Stay tuned for the first article and please feel free to submit any ideas or questions you may have. Since graduation I've worked almost exclusively in Microsoft products, from a development position and also helping friends and family to setup their systems, so I hope I can help with your queries.

Microsoft deserves credit for the lengths they go to make up for mistakes.

A story on the WWE website shows how far Microsoft will go when it has made a mistake.After accidentally removing WWE Superstars’ signatures from a 9-year-old boy’s XBox game console that he sent in for repairs, Microsoft officials contacted WWE in an attempt to work something out, reports the Nottingham Evening Post on April 7. The outcome is more than the boy could have ever hoped for. He and his mother will now receive another chance to meet with the Superstars and to get the console resigned at a WWE live event at the Nottingham Arena on April 13. While many will just say that it's Microsoft's mistake and they should be making up for it, I say well done MS.

Toddler's will soon be saying "I want a Wii"!

Another interesting Nintendo patent recently released is the answer to many parents prayers. Nintendo are looking at educational games for young children that will use the Wii to help them learn. Here is a sample from patent number US2008070682:

Apple Life Manager

A browse through some recently released Apple patents has turned up an interesting new Apple idea. According to the patent the idea is:SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
[0012] In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, a lifestyle companion system can be provided for coordinating multiple corridors of a user's life. The lifestyle companion system can include devices and methods for providing a platform for conducting user interviews, suggesting activities and references based on interview responses, providing a platform for a user to schedule activities, collecting data about a user during performance of activities or throughout the user's day, and/or providing progress reports. The method also can include assigning user category levels (e.g., activity levels) based on interview responses. In some embodiments of the present invention, the lifestyle companion system can coordinate a user's fitness, nutrition, and medical experiences.
[0013] The lifestyle c…

iPhone SDK Beta 3

Apple dropped me a line this morning to inform me that beta 3 of the iPhone SDK is now available for download. I'll be downloading it this morning and will post about it soon.

Microsoft to Yahoo: it's the easy way or the hard way.

Microsoft sent Yahoo a letter yesterday, April 5th, that expressed the Redmond company's frustration with the way Yahoo have been handling the offer Microsoft made two months ago. The letter can be found here. Microsoft have given Yahoo 3 weeks for the two companies to come to a deal before they will take the offer directly to the shareholders and try to replace the Yahoo board.It's about time this letter was sent. Yahoo have made Microsoft look like a fool over the last couple of months and it's been embarrassing to watch. Personally though I don't think Microsoft should conclude any deal at this stage. They need to pull out of the deal, let Yahoo sink and then move back in with a lower offer if they really want to purchase the company. The better choice however would be to pull out and not move back in. Keep the war chest intact, especially in this growing time of economic unrest, and bare in mind that if the Google numbers are correct and the money from online ads i…

No Script Engine For File Extension Error Fixed With No Reinstall Or INF Files!

I'm sure there are many people out there who have been confronted with the Windows Scripting Host error "No script engine for file extension <file extension>". This is the error I was confronted with today and have spent the last few hours working on a solution to it and I have just found it. After finding that files with the .vbs extension were working fine I opened the registry using regedit.exe. Remember if you are going to mess with the registry back it up first because if you remove the wrong key it can destroy your system. Under the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT key I navigated to the .js key. There is a string value named Default that had the value set to "(Default)". I changed this to "JSFile", without the quotes.  Looking at the .vbs key it also has a string value named Default with the value set to VBSFile. With this change made I closed regedit.Navigate to the .js file you are trying to execute and right click on it. Select Open With from the men…

Windows 7 Gallerys

Paul Thurrott has two gallerys showing the 6519 build of Windows 7. I've included a couple of pictures here and the rest can be seen at here and here.

Windows 7 likely in 2010

Mary Jo Foley talks about the release date of Windows 7 in her latest blog. A lot of what she says makes good sense. Personally I can't see 7 arriving in 2009. I suspect the most likely scenario is a delay influenced release in mid-2010. I also can't see Windows 7 being massively different from Windows Vista. The new kernel, an enhanced security model and much closer ties to the Windows Live Suite will be the most notable differences but I suspect the UI and the experience in general will not change substantially. I look forward to seeing the first beta release in the last few months of 2008 and will be keeping close tabs on Windows 7 news as it becomes available.

Apple Oppose Big Apple's GreeNYC Logo

According to Gizmodo Apple have filed an opposition to NYC's GreeNYC logo. The reason Apple is giving is that the GreeNYC logo will "seriously injure the reputation with which [Apple] has established for its goods and services." Personally I don't think there's anyway people are going to confuse the two logos. Sure the Apple logo has no stalk for a start! As Gizmodo points out the GreeNYC logo looks like it's an Apple created from an Infinite Loop. I wonder are Apple just suing because they didn't think of it first?

Microsoft out innovate Apple

News has leaked out about a new interface for Windows 7, the next OS from Microsoft and it's massive. As we know Microsoft have been taking a lot of flack over the years regarding a perceived lack of innovation so they've gone out to do something about it. With Apple claiming touch and gesture technology, Microsoft is introducing thought technology. A Microsoft insider stated, "We've been working on this for a number of years now and since the public's perception of Vista was weak and Apple had cornered the touch market it was decided that this is the perfect moment to announce this new innovation."When asked how the technology is used the insider would not go into too many specifics but he did state, "This works in the same way as a mouse cursor. You put on a specially designed Hat-Thought Interface and look at a particular part of the screen. The HTT picks up the location and the cursor moves there automatically. You then think 'click' 'cli…