David Overton's Blog and Discussion Site
This site is my way to share my views and general business and IT information with you about Microsoft, IT solutions for ISVs, technologists and businesses, large and small.  

August 2007 - David Overton's Blog

  • Service Packs, Vista and a Q&A with Jon DeVaan, senior vice president of the Windows Core Operating System division at Microsoft, discusses the company's plans for the first service pack of Windows Vista.

    A few people have asked me about Vista SP1 - what will it contain, how big will it be, can you tell me more, so I thought I would share these two articles with you. One is a press report of a discussion with Shannon on http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/software/soa/Windows-Vista-SP1-weighs-in-at-1GB/0,130061733,339281624,00.htm which states things like: the company has revealed that test versions of the update are currently 1GB As for what's in the Vista update, it's mostly a collection of existing fixes and tweaks aimed at improving stability and reliability of the operating system ability to encrypt multiple hard drive partitions using Vista's BitLocker feature removable storage file format known as exFAT as well as for EFI (extensible firmware interface), an alternative to the BIOS (basic input output system) that handles the initial start-up of a system changes to Vista's desktop search feature in response to complaints from Google or http://www.betanews.com/article/Windows_Vista_SP1_Will_Uninstall_Group_Policy_Management...
  • Business Contact Manager (BCM) on Office 2007 error and the .Net framework

    I got an e-mail a few week back that showed a customer getting the following error with BCM: "Business Contact Manager failed to load". "Business Contact Manager failed to initialize Common Language Runtime Class not registered I was not able to respond timely, but I did get feedback that the issue was caused by a problem with the installation of the .Net framework. Updating and re-installing the framework fixed the problem. The partner that solved the problem was Pat Summers of PCS Enterprises in the US :-) ttfn David Technorati Tags: Business Contact Manager , BCM , error , .Net
  • Halo 3 is Gold - so I post about the trailers and then see that it has released to manufacturing

    OK, so I just posted about the trailers and now the product is finished according to this "mag" Halo 3 is Gold : Next Generation - Interactive Entertainment Today, Video Game and Industry News Halo 3 is Gold The fight is ready to be finished: Halo 3 has gone gold and is heading to manufacturing. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Halo 3 , Xbox 360
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  • Halo 3 - Silverlight based build and watch trailers - promo site and fun

    I'm no great Halo Wiz - why, I don't have the reactions of a 21 year old to beat them in network play, but I do enjoy playing against the cpu inside the box (whenever I join a network match I nearly always end up dead in a few second.. ho hum). Anyway, the graphics of the xbox 360 always impress me as does the UI of some of the games. Halo 3 is coming and there is now a site with great trailer videos, background info and more. For those of you who don't believe that Halo is reality, have a look at some of the film (yes film, not graphics) that was shot and for example, see the Warthog that was used ( http://www.bungie.net/images/News/WeeklyUpdate/WarthogB110707.jpg ) Anyway, enjoy the site and enjoy building your own trailers too :-) ttfn David Technorati Tags: xbox 360 , Halo 3 , trailers
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  • How to improve Array Performance in .Net programming

    I have been known to write the odd program, often using a large number of arrays for some of the manipulation I do. Multi-dimensional arrays is something I have done a lot of, so seeing this little tip from CodeGuru to speed them up and reduce memory footprint is a great benefit for me. Below are a few snippets, but read the whole article to know more. Jag It Up What is a jagged array, and why does it have such an alarming name? I can't answer the second question, but I'll give the first one a shot. A jagged array is essentially just a one-dimensional array where each element contains its own one-dimension array. It's an array of arrays! (For those who just must jump ahead—you know who you are—yes, you can indeed have arrays of arrays of arrays through infinity or until your memory runs out. But, let's not go there now....) How is an array of arrays different from a two-dimensional array? I'm glad you asked. This is where the jaggy bit comes in. In a two-dimensional array, you have a fixed...
  • Tool to modify UAC behaviour in Vista using Group Policy - BeyondTrust Privilege Manager

    I am one of those people who always leaves UAC enabled - I like to see when something (*cough* - Adobe Update - *cough*) wants to execute with admin privilege on my system and then get the choice as to whether to allow it or not. However, not everyone likes the choices that are presented by default with the GPOs ( Group Policy Objects ). Coming to the rescue are tools to help enhance these offerings, such as the Privilege Manager from BeyondTrust. Sometimes people forget that Microsoft is a platform for others to build on and this is no different. Their product enables pre-defining the responses to UAC based on a number of variables. While I have NOT tried the product, it is getting good reviews. You can however download an eval copy for free if you so desire. One thing to bear in mind is that when a tool like this is used, you weaken security - why, well, even if you use a SHA1 hash to work out if an application is safe or not, a clever hacker will use plugins, dll's etc to attack that product - it does not...
  • New blog "hackers @ microsoft"

    A new blog has opened at Microsoft called "hackers @ microsoft". As many people know Microsoft is very strongly involved in the security arena. Part of this is having people who have hacked or now hack against our products to understand how to make them more secure. This group of people know have a voice in the blogsphere. Welcome to a new blog from Microsoft. The focus of this blog is likely to be a little different from most other blogs you'll see on blogs.msdn.com. Microsoft employs some of the best hackers in the world and actively recruits them and develops them. They work on all kinds of projects, whether it be in development, research, testing, management and of course security. Of course, there is controversy even in the word " hacker " but I don't think that should stop us from using it in the manner I think is the most appropriate. At his or her core, a true hacker is someone who is curious and wants to learn how systems work. This can and of course at Microsoft is done in...
  • New Silverlight based search engine from Microsoft (tafiti)

    I like new ways to visualise my web searches and the new tafiti beta from Microsoft is a great example of looking at things. Not only does it search books, web, rss, images and news sources, but it is also presented really well, you can easily save items and finally you can see a tree of relationships between the items found. To understand more about what it can do, have a look at http://www.tafiti.com/faq.html . Below is a sample search and the interface and some searches saved on the shelf that I can come back to at any time. Below is a sample tree view of a search. The amount of details can be controlled by the slider bar at the bottom of the screen ttfn David Technorati Tags: Search , Tafiti , Microsoft , Silverlight
  • Web scams trick one in five US surfers - vnunet.com

    This applies to the UK as well as the US, however recent surveys which showed that people in the UK were prepared to give up their password for chocolate. Anyway, the rules are: If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is You have not : won the lottery failed a bank security test had someone try to hack your account and you need to re-enter them had bad feedback on a site you have never heard of, or without your full name in the e-mail Got someone at a bank in another country wanting to give you some money If the mail is not sent to you and only you, then it is very, very, very unlikely to be real If the phishing scanner says it is a bad site, trust it unless you know that the address is the address bar is real, and then still don't enter personal information Even if they don't want your mail, handing over your personal details is telling them what they need to know in the real world. If you are asked to disable your system security, don't! Web scams trick one in five US surfers - vnunet...
  • 5 Popfly invites to hand out - let me know why you want it

    OK, So I now have 5 Popfly invites to hand out. It you want one, e-mail me via this link ( send request ). I'll look at the invites on Monday and send out some invites. thanks David Technorati Tags: Silverlight , popfly , invites
  • News this week - multi-core chips need some software help and some software re-architecting to make them most effective at delivering extra performance .. and of course, there is more multi-core to come!

    I've read the two articles - Computer-Chip Makers Pick Up Pace in Multicore Race - WSJ.com and BetaNews | AMD: Will More CPU Cores Always Mean Better Performance? and realised they were both harping on about the same thing - the need for better use of mutli-core / multi-processor technology. In a former life I helped people make their software take advantage of many cpus and the scheduling of tasks, sharing of information and understand how many processes can put load onto the memory, disk and internal buses is a huge area of learning. Whether it is a 8-core or a SMP 8-processor box, the problems are the same. If 8 cpus all demand a disk read from different regions of the disk, then you have 8 disk seeks, which could mean 1-8 x 8ms wait for the processes. In computer terms, waiting for 64ms for a disk read (as the 8th cpu would do) is almost an eternity for a cpu. What is more, if the disk regions are on 8 separate disks to stop I/O bottlenecks then the i/o bus and front-side-bus might not be able to take...
  • A selection of WPF-based (Silverlight) applications

    I saw this blog entry and just had to share it - a number of Silverlight application (don't know how many will work with the updated Silverlight builds) - WPF Cornucopia - A selection of WPF-based applications . Below are some of my favourites. There are many more on the blog entry Some cool WPF and Silverlight applications that you can download or play with today. The deployment model has been added so that you know what you are getting into as far as installation goes. Lots are using ClickOnce .application files and .xbaps, so installation is trivial! My Web Pages Starter Kit New with Silverlight Demo (Web Application) New York Times Reader Next-generation online reading experience for the NY Times (MSI) Microsoft Calendar Printing Assistant Generate printed calendars from your Outlook schedule (MSI) Microsoft Expression Blend Designer tool for building WPF experiences (MSI) Microsoft Expression Design Illustration and graphic design tool (MSI) Microsoft Windows Live for TV 3D access to Messenger contacts...
  • Security is a journey, never a destination

    I was watching the Bourne Identity the other night and Marie asked "how did they find us", to which Bourne replied "we let our guard down, we got lazy". This is so very true for computer security - you can't stop updating your systems, updating your anti-malware tools, updating the firmware in your firewall and more. To highlight this I saw the article below. There was an operating system that claimed it did not suffer from the issues of needing constant TLC. Then 5 of the 8 community servers were compromised. Nice. Ubuntu Servers Hijacked, Used to Launch Attack Members of the Ubuntu colocation team suggest the attack could have begun with a Chinese IP address. The Ubuntu community had to yank five of the eight Ubuntu-hosted community servers sponsored by Canonical offline Aug. 6 after discovering that the servers had been hijacked and were attacking other machines. It was suggested during an IRC (Internet relay chat) meeting of the Ubuntu colocation team Aug. 14 that the source of the...
  • Are you an IT related architect (Office Business Application, Windows Server Security or Services Revolution aka SaaS) - if so then one of these events could be for you

    I've hung up my architecting gloves, but I still get the e-mails. I saw this and thought there were a few partners out there who would want to take advantage of the events. As a practising or aspiring architect, it's vital to keep up to date with the latest news and technological developments to make sure your work remains at the cutting edge. By attending a free Microsoft Architect Forum you'll learn how to get the most from your architecture and gain information to aid your architectural decisions. The Architect Forum series gives you free access to one-day events providing an expert overview of a specific topic as well as fantastic networking opportunities. To register for one of these events, follow the relevant link below: Office Business Applications Architect Forum - 13 September 2007, London Office Business Applications are an emerging class of application that helps businesses unlock the value of their line-of-business (LOB) systems and turn document-based processes into real applications...
  • 1st SBS webcast from series of 3 - SBS & the OEM Pre-installation Kit (OPK) by Sven

    I should have posted this information a few days ago, but I am making up for it now. Anyway, Sven's presentation can be found at http://uksbsguy.com/files/folders/events/entry4621.aspx and he has also gracefully provided a number of scripts to make the install even simpler which can be found at http://uksbsguy.com/files/folders/events/entry4622.aspx . Enjoy David Technorati Tags: SBS 2003 R2 , OPK
  • CRN says "Microsoft Partners Stake Claims In Sharepoint Goldmine"

    I saw this and thought it further highlighted that partners are seeing huge opportunity with SharePoint - both portal and services. You can load WSS v3 onto a SBS box or use WSS v2. The opportunity is still huge. Microsoft Partners Stake Claims In Sharepoint Goldmine It's getting tough to find a Microsoft partner who isn't either reaping the financial benefits of deploying Office Sharepoint Server 2007 or eagerly planning to add it to their portfolio. Released last November, Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007, also known as MOSS, is a workflow and collaboration engine that integrates with the Office platform and features Web content management, enterprise content services, enterprise search, and business process and business intelligence tools. Although it initially attracted interest primarily from medium and large enterprises, Sharepoint is now penetrating the SMB space, says Stephen Moss, COO of NSPI, a security solution provider in Roswell, Ga. that hosts Sharepoint sites for other companies....
  • SKYPE outage blaming Microsoft - what a load of bull

    Here I am on holiday, but I just had to comment on this. SKYPE claim a sudden reboot of client PCs caused their network to fail and that this reboot was caused by Windows Updates. I've done some checking and the WU this month caused reboots like it did any other month, yet no other month has this process caused any SKYPE issues. Since there was nothing different this month, the only conclusion I can come to is that this is rubbish. What is more is that WU staggers updates to avoid a world wide reboot and internet load problem. Given the total collapse of SKYPE I think they are trying to avoid the fact that they have a problem. If rebooting PCs can bring their network to a grinding halt then I would say they have a major architectual issue! Just my opinion, but I think this story smells a bit. ttfn David Published with BlogMailr
  • Application news for developers - x64 support, application people ready assessments, Vista Gadget security inspection and SharePoint development

    While I am on holiday I thought I would forward these items for the developers out there. The http://blogs.iis.net blog looks awesome for IIS7 information, including videos and the other MSDN information demonstrates how to develop SharePoint tools. Application support Is Your Application Platform People-Ready? Complete the Self-Assessment and Find Out Take the Application Platform Infrastructure Optimisation assessment to measure the effectiveness of your current infrastructure in platform-agnostic terms, and compare your application platform infrastructure against industry best practices and the latest IT research. http://www.microsoft.com/business/peopleready/appplat/ac/apio.mspx Inspect Your Gadget http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/security/bb498012.aspx Today, the Windows Vista Sidebar hosts Gadgets built from HTML, JavaScript, and potentially ActiveX controls. Because Gadgets are HTML, they are subject to Cross-site Scripting style bugs. These bugs are extremely serious because script in the Sidebar is capable...
  • Windows Client (Vista and XP) - Active X installer service, Volume Activation Tool, Diagnosing XP crashes, modifying the boot configuration parameters

    If you use volume licensing with Windows Vista then you need to be aware of the tools to manage them - it is not as simple as it used to be as you now need a management tool inside the business. VAMT answers this as does Desktop Management. Then we have some webcasts on slow networks, diagnosing crashes in Windows XP (although many of the techniques work for Vista too), backup and restore in Vista, using the ActiveX installer Service and Boot config parameters VAMT 1.0 (x86) The Volume Activation Management Tool enables IT professionals to automate and centrally manage the volume activation process using a Multiple Activation Key (MAK). VAMT v1.0 is only available as a US-EN (x86) release. Best Practices on Managing Windows Vista Desktops Get best practice guidance for managing Windows Vista desktop operations. Windows Vista Service Life-Cycle Management (WVSLM) provides concise guidance to help minimise the total cost of ownership of desktop infrastructure. Process guidance and document templates help make service...
  • If you want to see what Vista, Media Center, Xbox 360, Movie Maker, Home Server and more can do when you use Vista, then go to this event in Manchester, Newcastle, Falkirk and London.

    This was only 2 or 3 times overbooked last time it ran and had rave reviews. Now there are another 4 events to choose from. I found them at the Microsoft TechNet UK Events website. James and Matt will be hosting, so it is bound to be huge fun Vista After Hours You may be familiar with Windows Vista at work – whether you have deployed it or are evaluating it – but have you ever thought about the possibilities of Vista outside work? This session, aimed at IT professionals, explores not only the built in elements of Vista (such as Search, Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, and the Networking and Sharing Centre) but also how you can extend your Windows Vista Experience with Windows Media Centre, Xbox 360 and specific applications to open up a new world of gaming and home entertainment. 20 September 2007, Manchester: Vista After Hours 25 September 2007, Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Vista After Hours 27 September 2007, Falkirk: Vista After Hours 03 October 2007, London: Vista After Hours Timings: 18:00-18:30pm- Registration...
  • David, holiday, comments on posts will not get approved unless you sign-in

    OK, so this is really simple. I'm off on my holidays for two weeks and I won't be updating the site (I do have some posts that will appear, but nothing will be topical as I won't be writing anything during that time). If you want to make MY life easier and have your comment posted for others to see, before you post a comment to the blog, go create an account, sign in, and then post a comment - unless it comes under scrutiny from the spam or rude word filter it will get published. Thanks - I hope you all have a lovely time on your holidays this summer (is it summer??). ttfn David
  • FoxPro Service Pack beta

    Many years ago I used to do database development and my preferred environment was FoxPro. Well, were now on version 9 and the latest service pack is in beta. Have a play, but think how you can move to Access or SQL in the future. Microsoft Visual FoxPro 9.0 Service Pack 2 and "Sedna" - Beta This download contains the BETA release for Microsoft Visual FoxPro 9.0 SP2 and the "Sedna" add-ons. This release has two parts: The Sedna Beta download contains six components: VistaDialogs4COM, Upsizing Wizard, Data Explorer, NET4COM, MY for VFP and VS 2005 Extension for VFP. The VFP 9.0 SP2 Beta download contains a patch that can be applied to VFP 9.0 or VFP 9.0 SP1. In addition to fixes to the core product, this patch contains significant enhancements to the Reporting features. Note that the SP2 patch can only be applied to VFP 9.0 or VFP 9.0 SP1. http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=05A0E7C9-43C1-417F-8810-AE7D7C66BAC8&displaylang=en ttfn David Technorati Tags: Foxpro , beta...
  • Site Updated as opinion of Government body said the site was too Microsoft

    I know I work for Microsoft and never hide the fact, but this site is not about "Isn't Microsoft Great", it is about offering tips and advice on technology and how it impacts ISV's and small businesses. The opinions here are mine and NOT MICROSOFT's. So I've changed the background and removed the SBSC logo (as much as it hurts me as I have earned it privately outside of Microsoft) and stated up the front that this is not an official site. I hope you like the new look -the background is a paint effect of one of my Antigua holiday photos and the graphics on the top left are simply a PowerPoint set of graphics saved as a png file. Amazing what you can do with PowerPoint. Anyway, hope the site looks OK. ttfn David
  • Microsoft Surface Parody joke

    I saw this and thought I would share it :-) http://www.sarcasticgamer.com/2007/06/ms-surface-how-we-would-have-done-it.html ttfn David Technorati Tags: Surface , Joke
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  • Security for Windows Vista (understanding more about UAC), Networks, plus advice and guidance

    Security is always a big subject area. Over the last two months Technet have published the following items that will help understanding and delivery of secure systems base do Microsoft technology. Windows Vista TechNet Magazine: Inside Windows Vista User Account Control Mark Russinovich explains that User Account Control (UAC) is one of the most misunderstood new features in Windows Vista. But its goal -- to enable users to run with standard user rights -- can solve many security issues. Get an inside look at the problems UAC addresses and see exactly how this new feature works. http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=6803653 Network Security Internet Protocol Security Enforcement in the Network Access Protection Platform This white paper describes the Network Access Protection (NAP) platform, how IPsec protects traffic, and how IPsec Enforcement in NAP provides system health policy enforcement for IPsec-secured communication. http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=144cc69f-790f-4f52-8846-3f3b8584d7cd&DisplayLang...
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(c)David Overton 2006-17