Windows 10 – Did You Know?

Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 soon, and for the first year of its release, they will be offering it as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. If you are planning to upgrade to Windows 10, you should plan to do so within the first year of its release, or you will be required to pay for the upgrade later on.

Windows 2003 Server End of Life

Why am I writing an article in 2014 about an Operating System that is almost 12 years old? Because in July 2015, Microsoft will end support for Windows 2003 Server.

What does that mean to you?

Well, if you are a casual user and don’t have anything important on your Windows 2003 Server box, then it will just mean that you will no longer receive patches, updates, and security fixes from Microsoft. If you choose to be OK with that, then you don’t have to do anything at all.

If you are a business user, or if you happen to have some sensitive data or applications running on your Windows 2003 Server, you need to take action. You have several choices:

  1. You can do nothing and risk the compromise of your Server, your data, and your applications.
  2. You can contact Microsoft about a Custom Support Agreement (CSA) – they will charge you a fairly significant, recurring fee for this, and they will also require you to show them a plan to migrate away from Windows 2003 Server.
  3. You can migrate your Windows 2003 Server to Windows 2008 Server or Windows 2012 Server – you will need to test any of the applications that are on your Windows 2003 Server boxes to ensure they are compatible with the destination Operating System. You should also know that there is no direct path from Windows 2003 Server to Windows 2012 Server. You should also be aware of any dependencies that exist between your applications and any services that are running in your environment (SMTP, DNS, DHCP, etc.) and ensure that you are grouping the servers so that you don’t break an application when its host server moves.
  4. You can make a strategic and longer-term decision to migrate your old services and applications to a Public / Private (Hybrid) Cloud solution – this enables many efficiencies, including on-demand service and application delivery, on-demand server delivery, near-instant deployment and recovery of test and development resources, configuration control, reduced data center footprint, and more. Even though this choice requires a lot more work and planning up front, the return on investment is significant if done right.

Those are your choices. Now for the real question – do you have the time, capability, and capacity to do what needs to be done by July 2015?

Sony Part II

OK, so I heard back from Sony on their Facebook page… yes, I know. Anyhow, even though I redeemed the code before the expiration date and downloaded one move (The Amazing Spiderman), I didn’t download any of the others, and they didn’t automatically download (even though I did redeem the code), so I “lost” the remaining nine movies that were part of the offer. Lame.

Really, Sony?

So, last year, my lovely wife and I bought a Sony 4K set (the 65″ one) and got the 4K player too.  It included 10 “4K” movies along with it.  I dutifully used the code provided to download the movies.  I checked the other day, and they are gone.  Searching the Internet, I found this article at Sony Support:

https://us.en.kb.sony.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/43378/~/why-did-i-not-get-10-free-movies-with-the-purchase-of-the-4k-ultra-hd-media

PTV_4K 10 movie promo date

Bottom line – the picture they show at the link above says the OFFER expires 12/31/2013.  It does NOT say the movies disappear after 12/31/2013. I am also including the actual image from their article here just in case they try to revise history and pull their own article down.

This is CLEARLY a mistake by Sony.  An offer is something you can redeem.  I redeemed the offer before the end of the year.  If they meant that the movies were going to expire (and disappear) at then end of 2013, then they should have said that.  There is NO WAY anyone can dispute that it is the OFFER that expires, not the movies.

Come on Sony!  Own up to your mistake and give me my movies back!

My Favorite Free iPhone Apps

I am by no means an Apple fanboy.  I grew up (well, if you say that I didn’t start growing up until I was 25) with WinTel boxes.  But I have an iPhone that I really like and use for a lot of things in my life.  There are two things you should know about me:  I am cheap, and I love efficiency.  That said, here are my favorite FREE iPhone apps:

Waze – Waze is a crowd-sourced, real-time navigation app.  Other Wazers (users of Waze) can report traffic, accidents, weather, police, speed cameras, construction, etc., and Waze tells you about the incidents before you see them.  It also know about more streets than any other navigation device or app I have ever used.  Wazers make Waze aware of new roads by driving on them and then confirming those roads online.  Once confirmed, they become available to all Wazers.

WhiteNoise – I spend a lot of time in hotels, and I like a little white noise to sleep to, so I don’t have to hear the elevator ding or the doors slamming in the hallway.  Additionally, I do not trust the hotel alarm clocks, nor do I have the patience to figure out how they work, set the alarm, test it, and then set it for when I really want to get up.  WhiteNoise provides a nice variety of sounds, an alarm, a timer, and when it is running, it is an easy-to-read clock.

DropBox – If you are like me (in any way) and use more than one computer, you NEED DropBox.  You can drag your important files (anything) into the DropBox “folder” and it will synch them into the DropBox cloud.  Then, you can get those files from your iOS device, your OSX device, or any device where you can get to DropBox on the Web (which is just about anywhere).

Mozy – Mozy is a cloud-based backup system that just works.  And it has an iOS app that lets you retrieve your backed up files onto your iOS device if you need to.  Sometimes, something that just works (that doesn’t make you think about it) is just what you need.

Shazam – Have you ever heard a song and wondered “who is this?”  “what is the name of this song” or “what album was this from”?  Well, Shazam knows.  And it also knows lyrics to a LOT of songs and can follow along as the song plays (karaoke anyone?).  The next time you are chaperone at a middle school dance, you will thank me that you downloaded Shazam.

pwSafe – I don’t know about you (seriously, I don’t have any idea who is reading this) but I have a TON of usernames and passwords that I am supposed to magically remember.  Well, pwSafe makes it seem like you can actually do that.  It lets you keep track of usernames and passwords in a secure file that you can access using only one password.  It has a desktop app also, and for a small fee, you can sync your pwSafe database between your desktop and your iOS device.  Life Saver.

GasBuddy – Remember how I said earlier that I was cheap?  Well, GasBuddy lets you find the cheapest gas close to where you are.  Need I say more?

Trulia/Zillow/Redfin – I LOVE being somewhere and seeing a house for sale and knowing how much it is selling for.  These three apps provide you with this information, as well as pictures and other goodness about that house.

Honorable Mentions:  Concur (expense reporting), Starbucks (find nearby Starbucks, use your Starbucks card, download free songs and apps), IMDB (like Shazam for movies and TV shows), and Find My Phone (yes, I know it is built-in, but it is a cool and useful app for so many different reasons).

Those are my favorites.  If you have an app that you LOVE and can’t live without, please leave me a comment to I can check it out.  Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Can Technology Provide a Complete Security Solution?

Back in 2009, I wrote a couple of blog posts about security – one about whitelisting/blacklisting applications and one about the “cost” of security on productivity (they are both still relevant and worth a read). Recently, I have been working a lot on policies to ensure the security of mobile devices. While doing this, I have discovered an interesting phenomenon: There are some people who believe that it is possible to use technology to provide a complete security solution.

I am certainly not saying that it is impossible to use technology to provide a complete security solution – I am simply saying that it is improbable, difficult, and very costly. Those who believe in a pure technological solution are missing an important piece of the security puzzle: the human factor. This MUST be addressed through published security policies, user training on those policies, enforcement of policy compliance, and required refresher training.

If end users are educated about the risks and consequences of policy non-compliance, I believe that most will work to be compliant. If you couple education with real, random enforcement and consistent consequences (for continued non-compliance), I believe that you can get very close to complete compliance with security polices, and thereby, a complete security solution. Regular reminders about risks and consequences will also help users to stay compliant with security policies.

The bottom line is this: If you implement only technological security solutions and fail to educate users about risks and consequences, you will find yourself with users who are intentionally circumventing the technological solution (either because they don’t understand the risks or because they know that there are no consequences for their actions).

iOS 6.1.1 Update

This update is for the iPhone 4S only. It does not fix the issues some users of iOS 6.1 are seeing with excessive Exchange Server logging associated with Meeting invites. According to Apple, this update is supposed to resolve 3G cellular reliability and performance issues associated with the 6.1 update and the iPhone 4S.