Microsoft

The TPG Blog: Direct from the TechProGuild Note

Twice a week, TechProGuild subscribers can receive via e-mail the latest information about what's happening in TechProGuild from the TechProGuild Note. Here are some of the highlights from previous weeks.

The TechProGuild Note contains the latest information about what's happening in TechProGuild, including pointers to new articles, downloads, and featured TechBooks. It also gives a quick glimpse into the mind of senior editor John Sheesley. If you're not already a TechProGuild Note subscriber, you can sign up for free here.

From the Desktop of John Sheesley, Senior Editor - TechProGuild:

February 24, 2005

The joys of the cold and flu season


It's that time of year again. No matter where you go, you hear the coughs and sniffles of coworkers, friends, and neighbors. Whether you had a flu shot or not, it's just a matter of time before some random germ decides to take up residence in your body and raise a family.

Last fall, the flu vaccine was in short supply, so people were encouraged not to get a shot unless they really needed it. For a while, it looked like there wouldn't be a big flu outbreak, and extra vaccine appeared. But now with the changing weather, almost everyone is sniffling in some form or fashion. Just when everything seems like it's going to be ok, that's when people start getting sick.

Lately, spyware's getting all of the attention when it comes to external threats for computer systems. Spyware is almost like the modern common cold. Everyone gets it, it's more annoying than fatal, and there doesn't seem to be a complete cure.

Computer viruses continue to lurk out there, waiting to infect your systems. They're not getting much press, but like the flu, it's only a matter of time before a new strain hits. The best you can do is try to inoculate yourself against both viruses and spyware and have a plan to get healthy quick if they do affect you.

Related resources:

February 22, 2005

Why sticking with Windows 98 makes sense


I may be one of the last people in America who doesn't have cable or satellite TV. I do have a TV. It's even in color. So far I've just never found a need to pay for TV. With the good old technology of the 50's - rabbit ears - I can get about 10 channels. That includes all of the main broadcasting networks, a couple of PBS stations, and a few random independents. When it comes right down to it, there's not a lot of choice, but the choices that I do have satisfy my TV needs most of the time. The rest of the time, there's always DVDs, the radio, or a book.

I do know what I'm missing. There's the History Channel, Discovery, Monday Night RAW, and MTV. Plus there's that lack of snow and interference, although you can get a sense of accomplishment by adjusting the antenna just a little to get a clearer picture. What it comes down to is the fact that I don't really need what cable and satellite offer. I'll probably make the change after the FCC finally shuts down analog broadcasting, around the end of 2006. In the meantime, I'll adjust the rabbit ears.

Working in IT, you've got to make similar decisions on a daily basis. Windows Server 2003 has a lot of new features and benefits, but that old NetWare 4.0 server is humming along in the server room quite happily. Windows XP is the standard for the desktop OS today, but you've got users running Windows 98, which you probably know inside out. There are lots of reasons why sticking with an old OS makes sense.

If you haven't yet made the leap to newer technologies, you're not alone. Even though many technical Web sites like to focus on the newest and latest gadgets, they're not much help if you're still using older technologies. That's why TechProGuild offers resources like these that focus on older systems.

Related Resources:

February 17, 2005

How are we doing so far?


Former mayor of New York City Ed Koch was always famous for coming up to New Yorkers in the streets and asking "How'm I doing?"  I'm sure many people would go on and on telling him precisely how they thought he was doing. Whether he listened or not is another matter.

We redesigned TechProGuild about 6 months ago. We added some new features to the site, removed banner ads, updated the books in the Tech Book library, and worked to increase the overall value of the product. Now that a few months have passed, I thought it might be a good idea to ask how we were doing so far.

Because we've added the TPG Discussion Center, I thought that would naturally be a good place to have a discussion about TPG. To that end, I created a discussion thread asking for your feedback about your thoughts on the redesigned TechProGuild. Feel free to toss in your two cents about what you think about the product.

I'm especially looking for ideas about how to improve TPG. What features would you like to see us change, and what changes would you make? Is there something we're not doing that you'd like to see us add? Is there anything we're doing too much of that you'd like to see us stop? Now's your chance!  Just be kind.

February 15, 2005

History repeats with Windows vs. Linux debate


There are just some things you can't discuss with people. Naturally, religion and politics are among the taboo topics, but I've also discovered that discussions about operating systems and computing platforms can sometimes be just as vitriolic. Users of alternate operating systems such as Linux and MacOS X can be very passionate about their choices.

I first encountered this phenomenon in the mid-90's when IBM and Microsoft were battling about Windows and OS/2. OS/2 was, as any OS/2 fanatic of the time would point out for hours on end, far and away technically superior to Windows 3.1 and its successor Windows 95. You couldn't go into some Usenet forums without an asbestos keyboard because of all of the flame wars between OS/2 and Microsoft adherents.

Today, the wars rage between Linux and Microsoft advocates. Many of the arguments are unchanged. Linux is more stable than Windows. Linux is more secure than Windows. Linux is faster than Windows. Microsoft uses illegal marketing tactics. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Debating the merits may be fun, but at the end of the day, it's the solutions you present for your organization that's most important. Sometimes Linux (or MacOS or even OS/2), can provide the answers you need. Windows didn't become #1 by being nearly as bad as it's made out to be, however. Do what's best for you and your company and minimize the rhetoric.

Related resources:

February 10, 2005

Keep your options open


When I was in college, like most college students, I didn't have a firm grip on what my major was going to be. I had planned on having Marketing as my major. But, during my second year at the University of South Florida, my dorm roommate was a Computer Science major. He had this old Radio Shack Color Computer, and he let me borrow it to play with from time to time. I was hooked. I knew I didn't want to become a Computer Science major, but the College of Business at USF had just introduced their Information Systems major, whereby I could concentrate on the practical applications of computers in business. So, that's what I did.

After graduating college, I entered the IT field, first as a programmer and database administrator, and then later as a Programmer Analyst. Over time, I wound up acting as a support tech as well as a network administrator. Titles changed. Jobs changed. It seemed like the more stability I sought, the more change occurred.

Eventually, I left the trenches of IT to join The Cobb Group, serving as an editor for a couple of their technical journals. I then dipped my feet back into the trenches for a while before winding up here at TechRepublic. Even since being here, one thing that's constant is change.

The great thing about IT is that it's almost never repetitive. Each day offers new challenges. Learning to deal with the challenges and changes is what you've got to learn to deal with in order to keep your sanity, to survive, and to prosper.

Related resources:

February 8, 2005

New books added to the Tech Book library

One of the coolest features TechProGuild has to offer is Tech Books. Powered by TechRepublic's partner Books 24x7, Tech Books features 265 different books related to information technology. Rather than just being simple chapter downloads, or links to books that you can buy, Tech Books contains the full content of these books. In addition, they're fully searchable which means that you can enter a term like "Active Directory" and quickly find Active Directory information from 53 different books. You can then read those books online, without ever having to go to a bookstore.

To keep the library current, we update 10% of the collection every three months, removing little used or outdated books and replacing them with the latest topics and titles. Recently, we just completed a swap of books in the library. We removed some older Linux titles as well as some books that dealt with Windows 2000. In their place, we added books about topics such as Exchange 2003, ISA Server 2004, Office 2003, and even some MacIntosh titles. I also replaced one of our most popular titles The Encyclopedia Of Networking, which was published in 2000, with the Encyclopedia of Networking, Second Edition.

If you're having problems accessing Tech Books, there are two things you should keep in mind. First, if you're a Trial TPG member, Books 24x7, TechRepublic's partner in supplying Tech Books, blocks access to the feature until you've paid for your membership. Secondly, Books 24x7 places a cookie on your workstation for authorization. You must allow this cookie in your browser. If you can't get into a book, try clicking the Tech Books link in the TechProGuild resources window. This will set the cookie.

Other new books

February 3, 2005

The TPG Discussion Center is now open!

Since we relaunched TechProGuild in October 2004, we've worked hard to add new features to the product, as well as make existing features more useful. For a long time, TechProGuild members have been able to start discussions from TPG articles, but there's been no way to start a fresh discussion, nor has there been a concentrated spot for all TechProGuild discussions. Now there is. Click the TPG Discussion Center link in the TechProGuild Resources box. There you can view, respond to, and start fresh discussions.

To start a discussion, click Start Thread and select the TechProGuild radio button. Enter the subject and message, click Submit, and you're done! You can also start a discussion the old fashioned way by clicking the discussion link in TechProGuild articles.

Feel free to discuss whatever you want to in the Discussion Center, including anything you'd like to see us add to TechProGuild. They keep me pretty busy around here, but I'm going to keep an eye on the Discussion Center and will probably chime into discussions as well as create a few.

Related resources:

February 1, 2005

Don't get stuck repeating yourself


In case you didn't know, tomorrow is Groundhog Day. That's the day when Punxsutawney Phil sticks his head out of the ground to see if we're going to have six more weeks of winter or not. I have family that live near Punxsutawney, PA, but my grandmother never thought that groundhogs were good for much other than shooting at.


Groundhog Day is also the title of the Bill Murray movie where Bill goes to visit Punxsutawney (although it was actually filmed in Illinois) and is forced into reliving the same day over and over until he gets it right. If there was a better analogy to the world of IT, I can't think of one off the top of my head.

It's easy to get trapped into the never-ending cycle of firefighting when doing end-user support and network administration. Constant crises can help prevent proper planning and maintenance, which in turn leads to more firefighting. These TechProGuild Resources can help you break the never ending cycle.

Related resources

The TechProGuild Note contains the latest information about what's happening in TechProGuild, including pointers to new articles, downloads, and featured TechBooks. It also gives a quick glimpse into the mind of senior editor John Sheesley. If you're not already a TechProGuild Note subscriber, you can sign up for free here.

From the Desktop of John Sheesley, Senior Editor - TechProGuild:

February 24, 2005

The joys of the cold and flu season


It's that time of year again. No matter where you go, you hear the coughs and sniffles of coworkers, friends, and neighbors. Whether you had a flu shot or not, it's just a matter of time before some random germ decides to take up residence in your body and raise a family.

Last fall, the flu vaccine was in short supply, so people were encouraged not to get a shot unless they really needed it. For a while, it looked like there wouldn't be a big flu outbreak, and extra vaccine appeared. But now with the changing weather, almost everyone is sniffling in some form or fashion. Just when everything seems like it's going to be ok, that's when people start getting sick.

Lately, spyware's getting all of the attention when it comes to external threats for computer systems. Spyware is almost like the modern common cold. Everyone gets it, it's more annoying than fatal, and there doesn't seem to be a complete cure.

Computer viruses continue to lurk out there, waiting to infect your systems. They're not getting much press, but like the flu, it's only a matter of time before a new strain hits. The best you can do is try to inoculate yourself against both viruses and spyware and have a plan to get healthy quick if they do affect you.

Related resources:

February 22, 2005

Why sticking with Windows 98 makes sense


I may be one of the last people in America who doesn't have cable or satellite TV. I do have a TV. It's even in color. So far I've just never found a need to pay for TV. With the good old technology of the 50's - rabbit ears - I can get about 10 channels. That includes all of the main broadcasting networks, a couple of PBS stations, and a few random independents. When it comes right down to it, there's not a lot of choice, but the choices that I do have satisfy my TV needs most of the time. The rest of the time, there's always DVDs, the radio, or a book.

I do know what I'm missing. There's the History Channel, Discovery, Monday Night RAW, and MTV. Plus there's that lack of snow and interference, although you can get a sense of accomplishment by adjusting the antenna just a little to get a clearer picture. What it comes down to is the fact that I don't really need what cable and satellite offer. I'll probably make the change after the FCC finally shuts down analog broadcasting, around the end of 2006. In the meantime, I'll adjust the rabbit ears.

Working in IT, you've got to make similar decisions on a daily basis. Windows Server 2003 has a lot of new features and benefits, but that old NetWare 4.0 server is humming along in the server room quite happily. Windows XP is the standard for the desktop OS today, but you've got users running Windows 98, which you probably know inside out. There are lots of reasons why sticking with an old OS makes sense.

If you haven't yet made the leap to newer technologies, you're not alone. Even though many technical Web sites like to focus on the newest and latest gadgets, they're not much help if you're still using older technologies. That's why TechProGuild offers resources like these that focus on older systems.

Related Resources:

February 17, 2005

How are we doing so far?


Former mayor of New York City Ed Koch was always famous for coming up to New Yorkers in the streets and asking "How'm I doing?"  I'm sure many people would go on and on telling him precisely how they thought he was doing. Whether he listened or not is another matter.

We redesigned TechProGuild about 6 months ago. We added some new features to the site, removed banner ads, updated the books in the Tech Book library, and worked to increase the overall value of the product. Now that a few months have passed, I thought it might be a good idea to ask how we were doing so far.

Because we've added the TPG Discussion Center, I thought that would naturally be a good place to have a discussion about TPG. To that end, I created a discussion thread asking for your feedback about your thoughts on the redesigned TechProGuild. Feel free to toss in your two cents about what you think about the product.

I'm especially looking for ideas about how to improve TPG. What features would you like to see us change, and what changes would you make? Is there something we're not doing that you'd like to see us add? Is there anything we're doing too much of that you'd like to see us stop? Now's your chance!  Just be kind.

February 15, 2005

History repeats with Windows vs. Linux debate


There are just some things you can't discuss with people. Naturally, religion and politics are among the taboo topics, but I've also discovered that discussions about operating systems and computing platforms can sometimes be just as vitriolic. Users of alternate operating systems such as Linux and MacOS X can be very passionate about their choices.

I first encountered this phenomenon in the mid-90's when IBM and Microsoft were battling about Windows and OS/2. OS/2 was, as any OS/2 fanatic of the time would point out for hours on end, far and away technically superior to Windows 3.1 and its successor Windows 95. You couldn't go into some Usenet forums without an asbestos keyboard because of all of the flame wars between OS/2 and Microsoft adherents.

Today, the wars rage between Linux and Microsoft advocates. Many of the arguments are unchanged. Linux is more stable than Windows. Linux is more secure than Windows. Linux is faster than Windows. Microsoft uses illegal marketing tactics. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Debating the merits may be fun, but at the end of the day, it's the solutions you present for your organization that's most important. Sometimes Linux (or MacOS or even OS/2), can provide the answers you need. Windows didn't become #1 by being nearly as bad as it's made out to be, however. Do what's best for you and your company and minimize the rhetoric.

Related resources:

February 10, 2005

Keep your options open


When I was in college, like most college students, I didn't have a firm grip on what my major was going to be. I had planned on having Marketing as my major. But, during my second year at the University of South Florida, my dorm roommate was a Computer Science major. He had this old Radio Shack Color Computer, and he let me borrow it to play with from time to time. I was hooked. I knew I didn't want to become a Computer Science major, but the College of Business at USF had just introduced their Information Systems major, whereby I could concentrate on the practical applications of computers in business. So, that's what I did.

After graduating college, I entered the IT field, first as a programmer and database administrator, and then later as a Programmer Analyst. Over time, I wound up acting as a support tech as well as a network administrator. Titles changed. Jobs changed. It seemed like the more stability I sought, the more change occurred.

Eventually, I left the trenches of IT to join The Cobb Group, serving as an editor for a couple of their technical journals. I then dipped my feet back into the trenches for a while before winding up here at TechRepublic. Even since being here, one thing that's constant is change.

The great thing about IT is that it's almost never repetitive. Each day offers new challenges. Learning to deal with the challenges and changes is what you've got to learn to deal with in order to keep your sanity, to survive, and to prosper.

Related resources:

February 8, 2005

New books added to the Tech Book library

One of the coolest features TechProGuild has to offer is Tech Books. Powered by TechRepublic's partner Books 24x7, Tech Books features 265 different books related to information technology. Rather than just being simple chapter downloads, or links to books that you can buy, Tech Books contains the full content of these books. In addition, they're fully searchable which means that you can enter a term like "Active Directory" and quickly find Active Directory information from 53 different books. You can then read those books online, without ever having to go to a bookstore.

To keep the library current, we update 10% of the collection every three months, removing little used or outdated books and replacing them with the latest topics and titles. Recently, we just completed a swap of books in the library. We removed some older Linux titles as well as some books that dealt with Windows 2000. In their place, we added books about topics such as Exchange 2003, ISA Server 2004, Office 2003, and even some MacIntosh titles. I also replaced one of our most popular titles The Encyclopedia Of Networking, which was published in 2000, with the Encyclopedia of Networking, Second Edition.

If you're having problems accessing Tech Books, there are two things you should keep in mind. First, if you're a Trial TPG member, Books 24x7, TechRepublic's partner in supplying Tech Books, blocks access to the feature until you've paid for your membership. Secondly, Books 24x7 places a cookie on your workstation for authorization. You must allow this cookie in your browser. If you can't get into a book, try clicking the Tech Books link in the TechProGuild resources window. This will set the cookie.

Other new books

February 3, 2005

The TPG Discussion Center is now open!

Since we relaunched TechProGuild in October 2004, we've worked hard to add new features to the product, as well as make existing features more useful. For a long time, TechProGuild members have been able to start discussions from TPG articles, but there's been no way to start a fresh discussion, nor has there been a concentrated spot for all TechProGuild discussions. Now there is. Click the TPG Discussion Center link in the TechProGuild Resources box. There you can view, respond to, and start fresh discussions.

To start a discussion, click Start Thread and select the TechProGuild radio button. Enter the subject and message, click Submit, and you're done! You can also start a discussion the old fashioned way by clicking the discussion link in TechProGuild articles.

Feel free to discuss whatever you want to in the Discussion Center, including anything you'd like to see us add to TechProGuild. They keep me pretty busy around here, but I'm going to keep an eye on the Discussion Center and will probably chime into discussions as well as create a few.

Related resources:

February 1, 2005

Don't get stuck repeating yourself


In case you didn't know, tomorrow is Groundhog Day. That's the day when Punxsutawney Phil sticks his head out of the ground to see if we're going to have six more weeks of winter or not. I have family that live near Punxsutawney, PA, but my grandmother never thought that groundhogs were good for much other than shooting at.


Groundhog Day is also the title of the Bill Murray movie where Bill goes to visit Punxsutawney (although it was actually filmed in Illinois) and is forced into reliving the same day over and over until he gets it right. If there was a better analogy to the world of IT, I can't think of one off the top of my head.

It's easy to get trapped into the never-ending cycle of firefighting when doing end-user support and network administration. Constant crises can help prevent proper planning and maintenance, which in turn leads to more firefighting. These TechProGuild Resources can help you break the never ending cycle.

Related resources

January 27, 2005

Does Apple still sell computers? (Take 2)


Well, that's what I get for trying to write the TechProGuild Note a few days in advance. Two weeks ago, the TechProGuild Note talked about how Apple seems to be all about iPods and that it's as if Apple doesn't even sell computers anymore. I wrote that Guild Note a few days before, and sure enough, the same day that TechProGuild Note went out - *bang* - Apple announces a whole new line of Macs.

At $499, the new Mac mini may draw a new audience to the Apple platform. Admittedly, I'm not a huge Mac fanatic, but I'm still unconvinced. A lot of the buzz about the mini revolved around the small form factor and its inherent 'new' design. One thing I've discovered is, if you're around technology long enough old ideas come back as being 'new' again.

The mini immediately brought to my mind the old Ergo Brick computer which was essentially the same thing - a very small computer stripped down to the basics. It was was usable, but still easy to move around. In any IT shop, after a while old computers start piling up—either in your work area or as living dinosaurs on user's desktops. Dealing with older computers can be a challenge. These resources can help.

Related resources

January 25, 2005

TPG members offer anti-spam ideas

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that upon my return to work from the holidays I was greeted with over 2000 pieces of e-mail in my inbox—mostly spam. I went on to complain about the state of e-mail today and how spam is becoming an increasing problem. I also included a link with my e-mail address as kind of an ironic joke to see if I would get any more e-mail because of it. Surprisingly enough, I did!

TPG member Ben S. suggested a product called Qurb. Ben said: "IMHO it is the best anti-spam program out there, and I've tried most of them. This thing picks off messages from addresses not found in your contacts, etc., thereby eliminating about 95 percent of spam right out of the box. In the first year, it picked off more than 50,000 bogus e-mails while skimming less than 1 percent of legitimate messages. If you can do better than that, let me know."

Another TPG Member, Jack W., suggested that the problem was the over-reliance on Exchange and Outlook: "Exchange and Outlook are just too vulnerable to spam as well as viruses. If Microsoft was truly concerned about spam, they'd build spam and virus resistance into the product. They know all about integrating features into a product, so how about some integration here? Microsoft should do it, or people should switch to a different solution."

Halvor L. suggested a non-technical solution: "We all get spam, and I REALLY would like a spam filter to stop ALL spam. Maybe the best solution is to develop a new 'mail policy' on the Internet : Charge every mail by 0.1 cent. That is nothing for ordinary users, but a huge amount for the spammers sending millions of mails."

Thanks to these and other members who e-mailed. Nobody bought me anything off of my Amazon Wish list when I included the link for that in an earlier TechProGuild Note, but it was nice to hear from TechProGuild members when I included the link to my e-mail address. Hope to hear from you again soon!

Related resources

January 20, 2005

TPG can help locate lost product keys

I have discovered a new talent, possibly related to the fact that I am almost 40. I can put down my car keys in any given location and forget, less than a minute later, where they are. Often, I've even forgotten about taking them out of my pocket to begin with.

Misplacing car keys can be annoying, but misplacing software keys can be fatal, career-wise anyway. Many vendors, Microsoft in particular, use software keys on their installation CDs as a method to prevent piracy. Ever since Office XP, Microsoft has employed WPA (Windows Product Activation) to make product keys even more valuable.

Back in the day, you didn't have to worry about matching an installation to a particular CD. If you had to reinstall Windows or Office on a workstation, you just grabbed a CD out of your kit and installed it. WPA makes it much more difficult now by tying the product key to information directly on the machine. Now when you lose a key, you're in deep trouble.

WPA makes managing product keys more important than ever. Make sure you have a management strategy in place. Either that or you'll need a Microsoft Volume Key license whereby you can avoid WPA.

These resources can help you when you've misplaced a product key. Unfortunately, they won't help find your car keys.

Related resources:

January 13, 2005

Does Apple still sell computers?
With all of the shiny new iPods in evidence after the holidays, and the number of iPod commercials on TV, it's easy to forget that Apple started off selling computers. I'm pretty sure they still do, although the evidence of it seems pretty slim.

Ok. . . ok. . . I know. If you go to Apple's Web site, there are tons of new desktop, laptop, and server choices available with the Apple logo. And Apple aficionados are even more loyal, if not a little less rabid, than their Linux counterparts. It's just that in almost 20 years of working with computers for dozens of different companies, I can probably count on two hands the number of Macs I've had to work with. I'm not living in a sheltered world either, even the W3C's statistics show that Linux has a larger market share than Apple right now. Say what you want about lies and statistics, but chances are you probably have dealt with about as many MacIntoshes as I have unless you're in an Apple shop.

The problem comes in when you have to support a Mac in a Windows environment. Getting Macs and Windows to play nicely together is easier than it used to be, but it's still far from a snap. Fortunately, TechProGuild has some resources that can come in handy. To start, check out the article links below. You can also read and search Apple specific books in our TechBooks library, including How to Do Everything with Mac OS X Panther.

Related resources

January 11, 2005

Ring in the New Year with a spam plan


Returning to work after holiday break, I opened Outlook to discover over 2,500 e-mail messages sitting in my Inbox. As you can imagine, many of those e-mails were spam. CNET uses SpamAssassin to help filter out the wheat from the chaff, but even after SpamAssassin did its thing, I still had about 500 messages to wade through myself. When it came right down to it, probably only 5 percent of the messages awaiting my return were work-related or contained something I was actually interested in.

Because my e-mail address has been on the TechRepublic site and many of the articles I've written for over 6 years now, spam crawlers have long ago scooped up my address and copied it to just about every spam purveyor in the world. Therefore, I really don't have much of a right to complain. Even so, my high spam/legitimate e-mail ratio is quickly becoming the norm for many organizations.

TechProGuild's Windows Server and Infrastructure tracks have many articles about how to fight the spam onslaught. You can also read about how to deal with spam from the books available online in our TechBooks library, including Chapter 18 - Dealing with Viruses and Spam from Mastering Microsoft Exchange Server 2003.

Related resources:

January 6, 2005

TechBooks help you hit the ground running

Now that the holiday season is over and 2005 is here, it's time to get some work done. You've got a brand new IT budget to start spending and plans to implement. At the same time you also have to keep up with the day-to-day routine as well as put out fires as they crop up.

Proper time management is as important as network management and troubleshooting skills for IT Professionals. If you're not careful, you can quickly become overwhelmed with the daily grind let alone prepare your organization for the IT challenges to come.

In our TechBooks section, you'll find several books that can help you with time management issues. For example, an entire chapter of the book entitled Team Development for High-Tech Project Managers deals with time management. Likewise, The IT Professional's Guide to Managing Systems, Vendors & End Users contains strategies that you can use to more effectively get your job done.

Related resources

January 4, 2005

Looking back to look ahead

It's hard to believe that we're already to the halfway point of the first decade of the first century of the new millennium, but sure enough 2005 is here. One of the bad things about celebrating a new year is that it's easy to fall into the trap of spending too much time thinking about the past. TechProGuild has been around for 6 years now, which in Internet Time is somewhat like being around for 60 years.

Technology changes so fast that even basic things like wireless networking that we take for granted today didn't exist or were still too far on the bleeding edge to be relevant when TPG launched. Looking back at the early content on the site, key topics included getting ready for the Y2K problem that was going to doom us all and the ever growing wait for Windows 2000 to ship.

Now you can party like it's 1999 by downloading the ISO image of The Best of TechProGuild 2000. The years 1999 and 2000 come alive again with a collection of all the articles printed on the site at the turn of the century. Not only is it a good way to relive the past, the CD also makes it handy to find information about older software that you still may be running in your organization such as NetWare 5.0 and Windows NT.

Related resources:

January 27, 2005

Does Apple still sell computers? (Take 2)


Well, that's what I get for trying to write the TechProGuild Note a few days in advance. Two weeks ago, the TechProGuild Note talked about how Apple seems to be all about iPods and that it's as if Apple doesn't even sell computers anymore. I wrote that Guild Note a few days before, and sure enough, the same day that TechProGuild Note went out - *bang* - Apple announces a whole new line of Macs.

At $499, the new Mac mini may draw a new audience to the Apple platform. Admittedly, I'm not a huge Mac fanatic, but I'm still unconvinced. A lot of the buzz about the mini revolved around the small form factor and its inherent 'new' design. One thing I've discovered is, if you're around technology long enough old ideas come back as being 'new' again.

The mini immediately brought to my mind the old Ergo Brick computer which was essentially the same thing - a very small computer stripped down to the basics. It was was usable, but still easy to move around. In any IT shop, after a while old computers start piling up—either in your work area or as living dinosaurs on user's desktops. Dealing with older computers can be a challenge. These resources can help.

Related resources

January 25, 2005

TPG members offer anti-spam ideas

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that upon my return to work from the holidays I was greeted with over 2000 pieces of e-mail in my inbox—mostly spam. I went on to complain about the state of e-mail today and how spam is becoming an increasing problem. I also included a link with my e-mail address as kind of an ironic joke to see if I would get any more e-mail because of it. Surprisingly enough, I did!

TPG member Ben S. suggested a product called Qurb. Ben said: "IMHO it is the best anti-spam program out there, and I've tried most of them. This thing picks off messages from addresses not found in your contacts, etc., thereby eliminating about 95 percent of spam right out of the box. In the first year, it picked off more than 50,000 bogus e-mails while skimming less than 1 percent of legitimate messages. If you can do better than that, let me know."

Another TPG Member, Jack W., suggested that the problem was the over-reliance on Exchange and Outlook: "Exchange and Outlook are just too vulnerable to spam as well as viruses. If Microsoft was truly concerned about spam, they'd build spam and virus resistance into the product. They know all about integrating features into a product, so how about some integration here? Microsoft should do it, or people should switch to a different solution."

Halvor L. suggested a non-technical solution: "We all get spam, and I REALLY would like a spam filter to stop ALL spam. Maybe the best solution is to develop a new 'mail policy' on the Internet : Charge every mail by 0.1 cent. That is nothing for ordinary users, but a huge amount for the spammers sending millions of mails."

Thanks to these and other members who e-mailed. Nobody bought me anything off of my Amazon Wish list when I included the link for that in an earlier TechProGuild Note, but it was nice to hear from TechProGuild members when I included the link to my e-mail address. Hope to hear from you again soon!

Related resources

January 20, 2005

TPG can help locate lost product keys

I have discovered a new talent, possibly related to the fact that I am almost 40. I can put down my car keys in any given location and forget, less than a minute later, where they are. Often, I've even forgotten about taking them out of my pocket to begin with.

Misplacing car keys can be annoying, but misplacing software keys can be fatal, career-wise anyway. Many vendors, Microsoft in particular, use software keys on their installation CDs as a method to prevent piracy. Ever since Office XP, Microsoft has employed WPA (Windows Product Activation) to make product keys even more valuable.

Back in the day, you didn't have to worry about matching an installation to a particular CD. If you had to reinstall Windows or Office on a workstation, you just grabbed a CD out of your kit and installed it. WPA makes it much more difficult now by tying the product key to information directly on the machine. Now when you lose a key, you're in deep trouble.

WPA makes managing product keys more important than ever. Make sure you have a management strategy in place. Either that or you'll need a Microsoft Volume Key license whereby you can avoid WPA.

These resources can help you when you've misplaced a product key. Unfortunately, they won't help find your car keys.

Related resources:

January 13, 2005

Does Apple still sell computers?
With all of the shiny new iPods in evidence after the holidays, and the number of iPod commercials on TV, it's easy to forget that Apple started off selling computers. I'm pretty sure they still do, although the evidence of it seems pretty slim.

Ok. . . ok. . . I know. If you go to Apple's Web site, there are tons of new desktop, laptop, and server choices available with the Apple logo. And Apple aficionados are even more loyal, if not a little less rabid, than their Linux counterparts. It's just that in almost 20 years of working with computers for dozens of different companies, I can probably count on two hands the number of Macs I've had to work with. I'm not living in a sheltered world either, even the W3C's statistics show that Linux has a larger market share than Apple right now. Say what you want about lies and statistics, but chances are you probably have dealt with about as many MacIntoshes as I have unless you're in an Apple shop.

The problem comes in when you have to support a Mac in a Windows environment. Getting Macs and Windows to play nicely together is easier than it used to be, but it's still far from a snap. Fortunately, TechProGuild has some resources that can come in handy. To start, check out the article links below. You can also read and search Apple specific books in our TechBooks library, including How to Do Everything with Mac OS X Panther.

Related resources

January 11, 2005

Ring in the New Year with a spam plan


Returning to work after holiday break, I opened Outlook to discover over 2,500 e-mail messages sitting in my Inbox. As you can imagine, many of those e-mails were spam. CNET uses SpamAssassin to help filter out the wheat from the chaff, but even after SpamAssassin did its thing, I still had about 500 messages to wade through myself. When it came right down to it, probably only 5 percent of the messages awaiting my return were work-related or contained something I was actually interested in.

Because my e-mail address has been on the TechRepublic site and many of the articles I've written for over 6 years now, spam crawlers have long ago scooped up my address and copied it to just about every spam purveyor in the world. Therefore, I really don't have much of a right to complain. Even so, my high spam/legitimate e-mail ratio is quickly becoming the norm for many organizations.

TechProGuild's Windows Server and Infrastructure tracks have many articles about how to fight the spam onslaught. You can also read about how to deal with spam from the books available online in our TechBooks library, including Chapter 18 - Dealing with Viruses and Spam from Mastering Microsoft Exchange Server 2003.

Related resources:

January 6, 2005

TechBooks help you hit the ground running

Now that the holiday season is over and 2005 is here, it's time to get some work done. You've got a brand new IT budget to start spending and plans to implement. At the same time you also have to keep up with the day-to-day routine as well as put out fires as they crop up.

Proper time management is as important as network management and troubleshooting skills for IT Professionals. If you're not careful, you can quickly become overwhelmed with the daily grind let alone prepare your organization for the IT challenges to come.

In our TechBooks section, you'll find several books that can help you with time management issues. For example, an entire chapter of the book entitled Team Development for High-Tech Project Managers deals with time management. Likewise, The IT Professional's Guide to Managing Systems, Vendors & End Users contains strategies that you can use to more effectively get your job done.

Related resources

January 4, 2005

Looking back to look ahead

It's hard to believe that we're already to the halfway point of the first decade of the first century of the new millennium, but sure enough 2005 is here. One of the bad things about celebrating a new year is that it's easy to fall into the trap of spending too much time thinking about the past. TechProGuild has been around for 6 years now, which in Internet Time is somewhat like being around for 60 years.

Technology changes so fast that even basic things like wireless networking that we take for granted today didn't exist or were still too far on the bleeding edge to be relevant when TPG launched. Looking back at the early content on the site, key topics included getting ready for the Y2K problem that was going to doom us all and the ever growing wait for Windows 2000 to ship.

Now you can party like it's 1999 by downloading the ISO image of The Best of TechProGuild 2000. The years 1999 and 2000 come alive again with a collection of all the articles printed on the site at the turn of the century. Not only is it a good way to relive the past, the CD also makes it handy to find information about older software that you still may be running in your organization such as NetWare 5.0 and Windows NT.

Related resources:

December 23, 2004

2004 winds down as Firefox winds up

With no major software releases from Microsoft in 2004, the biggest news of the year beyond the repeated outbreaks of viruses, worms, and spyware has to be the final release of the Mozilla FireFox browser. I know. . . I know. . . the Browser Wars are so 20th Century. They're over and Microsoft's Internet Explorer won.

A funny thing happened during IE's victory lap however. With a 90+ percent market share, IE had a huge target drawn on it, and everyone started taking shots. Whether it was hackers exploiting holes in IE's architecture or semi-legitimate marketers using pop-ups and spyware to hijack it, IE quickly became as much of a hindrance as a help. Meanwhile, the open source folks at Mozilla continued plugging along with its little FireFox browser, constantly changing the code (and the name) until they finally released it in November.

I've been using FireFox almost exclusively for basic Internet browsing since its 0.8 release. Many of our internal Web-based applications only work with IE because of Active-X plug-ins, but IE is perfectly fine for that. For running around on the Internet however, I've had much better luck with FireFox for avoiding pop-ups and spyware.

Many other TechProGuild members must be having similar experiences. A quick check of our Internet activity reports for the month of December show that IE constituted 78 percent of visitors while Mozilla-based browsers such as FireFox made up 17 percent. The balance was made up of browsers such as Opera and Safari. That's not a giant dent in IE's numbers, but IE's share certainly isn't what it was at the start of 2004. 2005 will show whether or not the Browser Wars officially reignite.

Related resources:

December 21, 2004

Winter: Great weather for penguins and a good time to learn Linux


December 21 marks the Winter Solstice, the day when the Earth is furthest from the sun, and the official start of winter—unless you're in the southern hemisphere where it's the start of summer.

Where I am, winter means snow. And snow makes you think of penguins. Penguins, quite naturally, make you think of Linux. Being a NetWare guy at heart, I've used Microsoft software when I've had to but have always relied on Novell as the source of my alternative network OS of choice. Now that Novell has jumped into the Linux pool with SuSe, I've started taking a closer look at Linux.

One of the biggest challenges Linux has had in the business world has been its perceived lack of corporate support. IBM has been pushing Red Hat for a while now. That excuse is fading even faster with Novell's purchase of SuSe. The other main resistance to adoption is lack of expertise. Linux is different enough from Windows and sometimes doesn't play well enough with Windows that it's too much of an effort for a busy Windows IT Professional to take the time to learn.

TechProGuild's Linux track can help with that. You can also find some really good Linux books online in our Tech Books Library that you can use to get a jump start on learning Linux without having to invest a fortune in books you might not need.

Related resources:

December 16, 2004

Desperate housewives have nothing on IT pros
The latest pop culture TV sensation is ABC's Desperate Housewives. Personally, I've never seen the show. I favor ABC's other Sunday night program Boston Legal. Denny Crane is William Shatner's best character since Captain Kirk and James Spader's portrayal of Alan Shore is hilarious. About the only thing I know about Desperate Housewives is that everyone watches it, it's about housewives, and they're desperate.

Inside the reality of IT, true desperation comes when the server crashes and you discover your backup tapes are corrupt. Or when the CEO phones to tell you his laptop has crashed and needs to leave on an overseas flight in an hour. Or when you start seeing random e-mail messages from employees and realize you just got hit with the latest virus. There might not be as much sex and cattiness in IT as there is on TV, but there's sure a lot of desperation.

You can avoid a lot of this heartache by a little advance planning. By having a disaster recovery plan in place for big emergencies, as well as basic troubleshooting skills in place for minor emergencies, you'll be able to deal with problems without becoming desperate. These resources as well as others on TechProGuild will help you deal with the problems you face on a daily basis.

Related disaster recovery resources:

December 14, 2004

End-of-year budgeting is no holiday

Being December 14 already, I've missed my opportunity to come up with a witty TechProGuild Note entitled "On The 12th days of Christmas, TPG gave to me. . .", so we'll have to go with something a little more dry and sober - your IT budget. Now, it would be a little self serving to mention that the best way to spend what's left of your IT budget would be on a renewed subscription to TechProGuild, or to point out that TechProGuild offers discounts to organizations wanting multiple site-licenses to TechProGuild, so I won't. Nor will I pull out the cheesy columnist trick of pointing out everything I'd like to get for Christmas.

Budgeting can be a big headache. At year's end, your plans for the remainder of your IT budget often depend on where you work. Your company likely falls into one of two different mindsets when it comes to managing end-of-year budgets: You're either a hero for coming in under budget and are rewarded (or at least not penalized) or your frugality goes unrewarded and your budget is cut because you obviously don't need that much money next year.

TechProGuild usually focuses on the in-the-trenches dirty work of actually making technology work in your organization, but in concert with TechRepublic, you'll find many resources on the site that can help you plan, and spend, your IT budget. The TPG Download Center and Tech Tip Library both contain ideas to help the budgeting process go a lot smoother at the end of the year.

Related resources:

December 9, 2004

Use two-pronged approach to attack spyware


I've been working with computers for almost 20 years now, and I don't think I've seen a more annoying problem than the spyware issues that I've encountered lately. I'm not just talking about on my own machine either. The problems I've encountered have come from friends, family, coworkers, and consulting customers.

Although not as directly destructive as viruses and worms, spyware is much more insidious and more widespread of a problem that either of those two traditional IT scourges. You have to at least admire the forthrightness of viruses and worms. They come right out and destroy data. Spyware pretends to be something beneficial while dragging down the performance of your system.

Unfortunately, there is no single magic bullet that will catch all of the different types of spyware on your system. I've found the best solution by using spyware tools in pairs, first scanning with one and fixing problems, and then running another. Steven Pittsley's latest article details key strategies for using several different spyware programs. TechProGuild's Troubleshooting track also contains many different articles that can help you slay the spyware beast.

Related resources:

December 7, 2004

It's not always all about IT

Long before 9/11 was 12/7 - Pearl Harbor Day.  Just as the attacks on the World Trade Center shocked people in 2001, the attack on Pearl Harbor solidified the nation into joining World War 2. Among the millions of people affected by that war included my grandfather, from whom I got my middle name.

Pap, as we all call him now, celebrated his 90th birthday last week. When he joined the Navy to fight in the war, he left his wife and two small sons in a small town in western PA. Three of his brothers-in-law joined the Army and also left home to fight. Fortunately for our family, all of them returned home unharmed, but I can only imagine the impact it all had. They went places and experienced things I'm sure they never dreamt of when they were children. My grandfather went on to start his own company, have 3 more kids, 10 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. We're all very proud of him. When I (hopefully) turn 90 and look back, if my life turns out half as good as his has, I'll be a very lucky guy.

When we relaunched the TechProGuild Note, one of the things I wanted to do was make the note a little more personal. Because of this day, and in tribute to my grandfather and the millions of others who fought (and continue to fight) to keep us all free, I thought I would take a few lines to remind everyone that even though we all face daily struggles fighting the IT beast, that sometimes life is more than just IT and work.

Related resources:

December 2, 2004

Real IT pros don't need a GUI

A friend of mine claims his teenage son is a real computer whiz kid. Naturally, when the Friendly Neighborhood Computer Guy drops by, the proud papa has to show off his son's talent. One thing I've consistently noticed is that the boy never uses the command prompt. I've seen him clicking, dragging and dropping, doing simple tasks that I could have done in half the time by opening a command prompt and typing in a few simple commands.

That young computer genius isn't alone in being over reliant on the use of GUIs. I've bumped in to many "IT professionals" who are absolutely lost as soon as they see a C:> prompt. Having grown up using DOS, it's almost painful to see the lost looks on the faces of people who should know better.

GUIs do make some things easier, but at the same time GUI utilities are often dumbed-down or limited in what they can do. Microsoft added a plethora of new GUI tools in Windows Server 2003, but it also added a set of powerful command line utilities. Greg Shultz details those new utilities for controlling Active Directory from the command line in his new article "Using the Dsquery command in Windows Server 2003".

If you're a Windows user who's been investigating Linux, you'll also want to become comfortable with the command line. You'll get a lot more use out of Linux by knowing some of its commands, which are different than those in Windows or DOS. Get ahead of the learning curve by checking out my article about common DOS commands and their Linux equivalents.

Related resources:

December 23, 2004

2004 winds down as Firefox winds up

With no major software releases from Microsoft in 2004, the biggest news of the year beyond the repeated outbreaks of viruses, worms, and spyware has to be the final release of the Mozilla FireFox browser. I know. . . I know. . . the Browser Wars are so 20th Century. They're over and Microsoft's Internet Explorer won.

A funny thing happened during IE's victory lap however. With a 90+ percent market share, IE had a huge target drawn on it, and everyone started taking shots. Whether it was hackers exploiting holes in IE's architecture or semi-legitimate marketers using pop-ups and spyware to hijack it, IE quickly became as much of a hindrance as a help. Meanwhile, the open source folks at Mozilla continued plugging along with its little FireFox browser, constantly changing the code (and the name) until they finally released it in November.

I've been using FireFox almost exclusively for basic Internet browsing since its 0.8 release. Many of our internal Web-based applications only work with IE because of Active-X plug-ins, but IE is perfectly fine for that. For running around on the Internet however, I've had much better luck with FireFox for avoiding pop-ups and spyware.

Many other TechProGuild members must be having similar experiences. A quick check of our Internet activity reports for the month of December show that IE constituted 78 percent of visitors while Mozilla-based browsers such as FireFox made up 17 percent. The balance was made up of browsers such as Opera and Safari. That's not a giant dent in IE's numbers, but IE's share certainly isn't what it was at the start of 2004. 2005 will show whether or not the Browser Wars officially reignite.

Related resources:

December 21, 2004

Winter: Great weather for penguins and a good time to learn Linux


December 21 marks the Winter Solstice, the day when the Earth is furthest from the sun, and the official start of winter—unless you're in the southern hemisphere where it's the start of summer.

Where I am, winter means snow. And snow makes you think of penguins. Penguins, quite naturally, make you think of Linux. Being a NetWare guy at heart, I've used Microsoft software when I've had to but have always relied on Novell as the source of my alternative network OS of choice. Now that Novell has jumped into the Linux pool with SuSe, I've started taking a closer look at Linux.

One of the biggest challenges Linux has had in the business world has been its perceived lack of corporate support. IBM has been pushing Red Hat for a while now. That excuse is fading even faster with Novell's purchase of SuSe. The other main resistance to adoption is lack of expertise. Linux is different enough from Windows and sometimes doesn't play well enough with Windows that it's too much of an effort for a busy Windows IT Professional to take the time to learn.

TechProGuild's Linux track can help with that. You can also find some really good Linux books online in our Tech Books Library that you can use to get a jump start on learning Linux without having to invest a fortune in books you might not need.

Related resources:

December 16, 2004

Desperate housewives have nothing on IT pros
The latest pop culture TV sensation is ABC's Desperate Housewives. Personally, I've never seen the show. I favor ABC's other Sunday night program Boston Legal. Denny Crane is William Shatner's best character since Captain Kirk and James Spader's portrayal of Alan Shore is hilarious. About the only thing I know about Desperate Housewives is that everyone watches it, it's about housewives, and they're desperate.

Inside the reality of IT, true desperation comes when the server crashes and you discover your backup tapes are corrupt. Or when the CEO phones to tell you his laptop has crashed and needs to leave on an overseas flight in an hour. Or when you start seeing random e-mail messages from employees and realize you just got hit with the latest virus. There might not be as much sex and cattiness in IT as there is on TV, but there's sure a lot of desperation.

You can avoid a lot of this heartache by a little advance planning. By having a disaster recovery plan in place for big emergencies, as well as basic troubleshooting skills in place for minor emergencies, you'll be able to deal with problems without becoming desperate. These resources as well as others on TechProGuild will help you deal with the problems you face on a daily basis.

Related disaster recovery resources:

December 14, 2004

End-of-year budgeting is no holiday

Being December 14 already, I've missed my opportunity to come up with a witty TechProGuild Note entitled "On The 12th days of Christmas, TPG gave to me. . .", so we'll have to go with something a little more dry and sober - your IT budget. Now, it would be a little self serving to mention that the best way to spend what's left of your IT budget would be on a renewed subscription to TechProGuild, or to point out that TechProGuild offers discounts to organizations wanting multiple site-licenses to TechProGuild, so I won't. Nor will I pull out the cheesy columnist trick of pointing out everything I'd like to get for Christmas.

Budgeting can be a big headache. At year's end, your plans for the remainder of your IT budget often depend on where you work. Your company likely falls into one of two different mindsets when it comes to managing end-of-year budgets: You're either a hero for coming in under budget and are rewarded (or at least not penalized) or your frugality goes unrewarded and your budget is cut because you obviously don't need that much money next year.

TechProGuild usually focuses on the in-the-trenches dirty work of actually making technology work in your organization, but in concert with TechRepublic, you'll find many resources on the site that can help you plan, and spend, your IT budget. The TPG Download Center and Tech Tip Library both contain ideas to help the budgeting process go a lot smoother at the end of the year.

Related resources:

December 9, 2004

Use two-pronged approach to attack spyware


I've been working with computers for almost 20 years now, and I don't think I've seen a more annoying problem than the spyware issues that I've encountered lately. I'm not just talking about on my own machine either. The problems I've encountered have come from friends, family, coworkers, and consulting customers.

Although not as directly destructive as viruses and worms, spyware is much more insidious and more widespread of a problem that either of those two traditional IT scourges. You have to at least admire the forthrightness of viruses and worms. They come right out and destroy data. Spyware pretends to be something beneficial while dragging down the performance of your system.

Unfortunately, there is no single magic bullet that will catch all of the different types of spyware on your system. I've found the best solution by using spyware tools in pairs, first scanning with one and fixing problems, and then running another. Steven Pittsley's latest article details key strategies for using several different spyware programs. TechProGuild's Troubleshooting track also contains many different articles that can help you slay the spyware beast.

Related resources:

December 7, 2004

It's not always all about IT

Long before 9/11 was 12/7 - Pearl Harbor Day.  Just as the attacks on the World Trade Center shocked people in 2001, the attack on Pearl Harbor solidified the nation into joining World War 2. Among the millions of people affected by that war included my grandfather, from whom I got my middle name.

Pap, as we all call him now, celebrated his 90th birthday last week. When he joined the Navy to fight in the war, he left his wife and two small sons in a small town in western PA. Three of his brothers-in-law joined the Army and also left home to fight. Fortunately for our family, all of them returned home unharmed, but I can only imagine the impact it all had. They went places and experienced things I'm sure they never dreamt of when they were children. My grandfather went on to start his own company, have 3 more kids, 10 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. We're all very proud of him. When I (hopefully) turn 90 and look back, if my life turns out half as good as his has, I'll be a very lucky guy.

When we relaunched the TechProGuild Note, one of the things I wanted to do was make the note a little more personal. Because of this day, and in tribute to my grandfather and the millions of others who fought (and continue to fight) to keep us all free, I thought I would take a few lines to remind everyone that even though we all face daily struggles fighting the IT beast, that sometimes life is more than just IT and work.

Related resources:

December 2, 2004

Real IT pros don't need a GUI

A friend of mine claims his teenage son is a real computer whiz kid. Naturally, when the Friendly Neighborhood Computer Guy drops by, the proud papa has to show off his son's talent. One thing I've consistently noticed is that the boy never uses the command prompt. I've seen him clicking, dragging and dropping, doing simple tasks that I could have done in half the time by opening a command prompt and typing in a few simple commands.

That young computer genius isn't alone in being over reliant on the use of GUIs. I've bumped in to many "IT professionals" who are absolutely lost as soon as they see a C:> prompt. Having grown up using DOS, it's almost painful to see the lost looks on the faces of people who should know better.

GUIs do make some things easier, but at the same time GUI utilities are often dumbed-down or limited in what they can do. Microsoft added a plethora of new GUI tools in Windows Server 2003, but it also added a set of powerful command line utilities. Greg Shultz details those new utilities for controlling Active Directory from the command line in his new article "Using the Dsquery command in Windows Server 2003".

If you're a Windows user who's been investigating Linux, you'll also want to become comfortable with the command line. You'll get a lot more use out of Linux by knowing some of its commands, which are different than those in Windows or DOS. Get ahead of the learning curve by checking out my article about common DOS commands and their Linux equivalents.

Related resources:

November 30, 2004

Troubleshooting SSL encryption problems

Even though Thanksgiving is supposed to be a stand-alone holiday, it also signals the beginning of the Holiday season and the end of the fiscal year. It's often a frantic time of year, with coworkers trying to squeeze in last-minute vacation time while also scrambling to complete tasks by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, an IT professional's job is never done. You may be lucky enough to take some time off like your coworkers, but hackers trying to access your network never seem to take a vacation. They're constantly trying to find new ways to break into your network, create new viruses, or do other things that just generally make your life miserable.

Brien Posey's latest article "Troubleshooting SSL Encryption Problems" shows you how to secure Web transactions using SSL. His advice will also help you figure out problems you may be having with SSL and how to solve them.

TechProGuild's Windows Server and Infrastructure tracks also have lots of articles to show you how to secure your network. You can download our Quick Guide for details on how to lock down your IT department.

Related resources:

November 23, 2004

Prevent Windows Server 2003 from running like a turkey

In the United States, Thursday is celebrated as Thanksgiving, the day when we eat too much turkey, watch too much football, and spend too much time with friends and relatives. Beyond appearing on our Thanksgiving plates, the turkey has a long, storied history with the United States. Benjamin Franklin even proposed using the turkey as the national bird for the country, although the eagle eventually won out. I suppose that's best. It would be odd having the turkey on the quarter and having a stuffed eagle on the plate for Thanksgiving.

Although tasty, the turkey isn't noted for its speed, which is probably why Warner Brothers produced Road Runner cartoons and not Turkey vs. The Coyote cartoons. In the world of IT, you want to make sure you have your workstations and servers running at peak performance as well. As software becomes more complex, it becomes more difficult to keep machines running at top speed.

When it comes to Windows Server 2003, Brien Posey shows how you can use Microsoft's new Server Performance Advisor to ensure that your server is working efficiently. TechProGuild has many other resources dedicated to getting the most performance out of your hardware and software, whether you're running the latest software like Windows Server 2003 or still relying on venerable software like Windows 98.

Related resources:

November 18, 2004

New downloads add value to TechProGuild membership

When we re-launched TechProGuild to celebrate its 5th anniversary in October, we wanted to add features to the product and not just simply freshen the home page. One way we figured we could add value for TechProGuild subscribers is by allowing subscribers to be able to download the same tools that regular TechRepublic members must pay for.

We began by adding some electronic downloads from the TechRepublic catalog such as PDFs, eGuides, and tools. Naturally because of form-factor, there was no way for TechProGuild members to download our paper-based books, but many books come with CD-ROM companions and we sell many CD-ROM Only products. Therefore, we decided a good way to offer those items to TechProGuild subscribers as part of their membership was to create ISO images of the CD-ROMs.

An ISO is an image file taken from a CD-ROM. It's kind of like a ZIP file, but you can't extract information in the image to your workstation's hard drive. Instead, you use a CD or DVD burner and the software that came with it to burn a complete copy of the original CD. When you're finished, short of the label that we put on it, you have a duplicate of an original TechRepublic CD-ROM.

Related resources:


November 16, 2004

Curb global warming by using Tech Books

I was listening to NPR's Talk Of The Nation program discuss the issue of global warming. Politics aside and whether your believe the science or not, apparently, at the rate things are going, Greenland and Antarctica are going to melt soon. When that happens, you'll be able to water ski in the Arctic Ocean, and my parents, who live in Florida, will be under about 20 feet of water. This last bit is the most frightening because it means that they'll be moving closer to me.

Scientists have plenty of reasons for the accelerating temperatures including the fact that we're cutting down trees, which can help absorb the carbon dioxide that is heating up the atmosphere. As a TechProGuild member, you've got the opportunity to help solve the problem by using the Tech Books library feature. By searching and reading electronic books online, you can save trees from destruction.

In case you aren't familiar with it already, Tech Books features over 250 IT-related books covering everything from Windows Server 2003 to Linux to Cisco Routing. Computer books included in your library come from respected publishers such as:

  • Microsoft Press
  • IBM Redbooks
  • Sams
  • Que
  • McGraw-Hill
  • Sybex

These aren't simply partial book chapters, book reviews, or pointers for you to buy books. These are the complete texts of the same tree-based books you can buy online or in any bookstore. The advantage to Tech Books is that rather than cluttering up your office or cubicle with 250 books, you have them online, available anywhere you can access your TechProGuild account. Not only that, you can search the contents of all of the books at once, rather that just flipping through indexes.

If you haven't already, click through and take a look at what Tech Books has to offer. With all that it has to offer, by itself Tech Books pays for your TechProGuild subscription. And it helps prevent global warming.

NOTE: If you're having problems accessing TechBooks, there are two things you should keep in mind. First, if you're a Trial TPG member, Books 24x7, TechRepublic's partner in supplying Tech Books, blocks access to the feature until you've paid for your membership. Secondly, Books 24x7 places a cookie on your workstation for authorization. You must allow this cookie in your browser. If you can't get into a book, try clicking the Tech Books link in the TechProGuild resources window. This will set the cookie.

Related resources:

November 11, 2004

The Linux/Windows battle rages on

Today is Veteran's Day here in the United States, when we celebrate the end of World War I, which was also ironically named the War To End All Wars. In the 20th century there was a war on every continent except for Australia and Antarctica. So far, it looks as if that trend will continue into the 21st century.

A decidedly different kind of war is going on in the marketplace. Microsoft has battled for control of the software that runs on PCs almost since the day Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded the company. So far Microsoft has done a pretty good job, wiping out competitors in the form of Lotus, WordPerfect Corp, and Ashton-Tate while marginalizing companies like Apple, Novell, and IBM. The battle isn't bloody, but whenever any company goes head to head against Microsoft, it quickly finds itself bleeding cash.

Microsoft's latest competitor, Linux, has no real cash to bleed. Because Linux is open source, all Microsoft can do is fight against major Linux proponents such as Red Hat and a revitalized Linux-focused Novell.

Of course, you DO have cash. And you don't want to get stuck in the crossfire of Windows vs. Linux. You just want the best solution for your company for a given problem without draining your budget. Many companies are looking at Linux for cheaper solutions.

Appropriately enough on the anniversary of the end of one war (and on his birthday) Jonathan Sinclair joins the Windows-Linux skirmish as he investigates how to deploy an e-mail server on a Linux-based computer. TechProGuild's Linux track can help Windows based administrators integrate Linux into their environment while also showing Linux administrators some new tips and tricks.

Related resources:

November 9, 2004

Web servers: How to simplify through consolidation

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau repeatedly urges his readers to reassess their lives and "Simplify, simplify". Although he wasn't thinking about computer networks when he wrote Walden, the concept of striving to simplify does have direct application to IT.

Unfortunately, IT projects have lives of their own. Try as you may to control them, user demands and office politics invariably cause you to have to buy this software for that task and that server to replace another. Before you know it, you're supporting dozens of different applications spread across multiple servers. The Internet boom brought the explosion of using Web servers for doing everything from customer support to in-house intranets. After a while, you are likely to hear Thoreau's words echoing in the back of your head.

In an example of how to simplify an IT task, Brien Posey offers this look at how to consolidate Web servers, decreasing the number of servers you're supporting while also making your overall Web strategy more efficient.

Spyware is another IT issue that can complicate your life. Steven Pittsley takes a look at the complicated ways that anti-spyware identifies and protects your systems against spyware intrusions.

As much as it might be tempting to sit on the edge of Walden pond and contemplate life, as IT professionals we don't always get that pleasure. Instead, the best we can hope for is to make our jobs as simple and as efficient as possible. These TechProGuild resources can help you simplify.

Related resources:

November 4, 2004

Which side are your users on anyway?

When your company hired you, you probably thought that you were going to be part of a team; you and the other employees all working together towards the ultimate goal of your organization. Although you may just chalk it up to paranoia, you quickly discovered that it seemed as if the users on your network were all out to get you. Just when you thought you had locked down the network, users found new and inventive ways to break things.

As if full-time weren't bad enough, interns or temporary workers who come in and need access to the network are even more problematic. You've probably got a whole set of routines in place to get temporary workers set up with machines and network access, but sometimes that's not enough.

To help, Pierre Dumoulin shows how you can use firewalling techniques on internal workstations to keep temporary workers from snooping around the network. We also have some Tech Tips about securing your internal network.

In addition to that new article, Scott Lowe offers a new report on detailing virtual machines. WinFrame and Terminal Services began the trend to creating virtual machines, but newer programs such as VMWare and Virtual Server 2005 allow you to run multiple operating systems. Scott will be guiding you through how to make virtual machines effective in your company.

Related resources

November 2, 2004

Which contest was less hostile: Bush vs. Kerry or Linux vs. Windows?

After what seems like an eternity, Election Day is finally here. Whom do you vote for? Bush or Kerry? Kerry or Bush? Bush! No—Kerry! No—BUSH!! Nader?! Badnarik??? After a presidential race as contentious as this one, at least everyone can agree on one thing: Thank God it's over!

All of the negative rhetoric flying around this season reminds me of the ongoing debate between Windows and Linux advocates. What begins as a high-minded discussion of features and technical superiority quickly devolves into a flame war. Inevitably, the market, as the ballot box, makes the final decision.

Just as elections repeat year after year, so do the debates and the vitriol about technology. The only thing that changes is the players. Currently, it's Windows vs. Linux. Before, it was NT vs. NetWare, Windows 95 vs. OS/2, and PCs vs. the Amiga. In every case, all you can do is make the decision that's best for you and your organization based on the facts, and then run with it.

TechProGuild has several articles that help you decide how to make the move from one operating system to another, and then how to successfully migrate when you make your decision. After the move, we show you how to get the most out of your decision.

Me? Well, let's just say this. I was a big advocate of OS/2 over Windows 95. My favorite network operating systems has always been NetWare. The presidential candidate I voted for this year? Let's not talk about that.

Related resources:

November 30, 2004

Troubleshooting SSL encryption problems

Even though Thanksgiving is supposed to be a stand-alone holiday, it also signals the beginning of the Holiday season and the end of the fiscal year. It's often a frantic time of year, with coworkers trying to squeeze in last-minute vacation time while also scrambling to complete tasks by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, an IT professional's job is never done. You may be lucky enough to take some time off like your coworkers, but hackers trying to access your network never seem to take a vacation. They're constantly trying to find new ways to break into your network, create new viruses, or do other things that just generally make your life miserable.

Brien Posey's latest article "Troubleshooting SSL Encryption Problems" shows you how to secure Web transactions using SSL. His advice will also help you figure out problems you may be having with SSL and how to solve them.

TechProGuild's Windows Server and Infrastructure tracks also have lots of articles to show you how to secure your network. You can download our Quick Guide for details on how to lock down your IT department.

Related resources:

November 23, 2004

Prevent Windows Server 2003 from running like a turkey

In the United States, Thursday is celebrated as Thanksgiving, the day when we eat too much turkey, watch too much football, and spend too much time with friends and relatives. Beyond appearing on our Thanksgiving plates, the turkey has a long, storied history with the United States. Benjamin Franklin even proposed using the turkey as the national bird for the country, although the eagle eventually won out. I suppose that's best. It would be odd having the turkey on the quarter and having a stuffed eagle on the plate for Thanksgiving.

Although tasty, the turkey isn't noted for its speed, which is probably why Warner Brothers produced Road Runner cartoons and not Turkey vs. The Coyote cartoons. In the world of IT, you want to make sure you have your workstations and servers running at peak performance as well. As software becomes more complex, it becomes more difficult to keep machines running at top speed.

When it comes to Windows Server 2003, Brien Posey shows how you can use Microsoft's new Server Performance Advisor to ensure that your server is working efficiently. TechProGuild has many other resources dedicated to getting the most performance out of your hardware and software, whether you're running the latest software like Windows Server 2003 or still relying on venerable software like Windows 98.

Related resources:

November 18, 2004

New downloads add value to TechProGuild membership

When we re-launched TechProGuild to celebrate its 5th anniversary in October, we wanted to add features to the product and not just simply freshen the home page. One way we figured we could add value for TechProGuild subscribers is by allowing subscribers to be able to download the same tools that regular TechRepublic members must pay for.

We began by adding some electronic downloads from the TechRepublic catalog such as PDFs, eGuides, and tools. Naturally because of form-factor, there was no way for TechProGuild members to download our paper-based books, but many books come with CD-ROM companions and we sell many CD-ROM Only products. Therefore, we decided a good way to offer those items to TechProGuild subscribers as part of their membership was to create ISO images of the CD-ROMs.

An ISO is an image file taken from a CD-ROM. It's kind of like a ZIP file, but you can't extract information in the image to your workstation's hard drive. Instead, you use a CD or DVD burner and the software that came with it to burn a complete copy of the original CD. When you're finished, short of the label that we put on it, you have a duplicate of an original TechRepublic CD-ROM.

Related resources:


November 16, 2004

Curb global warming by using Tech Books

I was listening to NPR's Talk Of The Nation program discuss the issue of global warming. Politics aside and whether your believe the science or not, apparently, at the rate things are going, Greenland and Antarctica are going to melt soon. When that happens, you'll be able to water ski in the Arctic Ocean, and my parents, who live in Florida, will be under about 20 feet of water. This last bit is the most frightening because it means that they'll be moving closer to me.

Scientists have plenty of reasons for the accelerating temperatures including the fact that we're cutting down trees, which can help absorb the carbon dioxide that is heating up the atmosphere. As a TechProGuild member, you've got the opportunity to help solve the problem by using the Tech Books library feature. By searching and reading electronic books online, you can save trees from destruction.

In case you aren't familiar with it already, Tech Books features over 250 IT-related books covering everything from Windows Server 2003 to Linux to Cisco Routing. Computer books included in your library come from respected publishers such as:

  • Microsoft Press
  • IBM Redbooks
  • Sams
  • Que
  • McGraw-Hill
  • Sybex

These aren't simply partial book chapters, book reviews, or pointers for you to buy books. These are the complete texts of the same tree-based books you can buy online or in any bookstore. The advantage to Tech Books is that rather than cluttering up your office or cubicle with 250 books, you have them online, available anywhere you can access your TechProGuild account. Not only that, you can search the contents of all of the books at once, rather that just flipping through indexes.

If you haven't already, click through and take a look at what Tech Books has to offer. With all that it has to offer, by itself Tech Books pays for your TechProGuild subscription. And it helps prevent global warming.

NOTE: If you're having problems accessing TechBooks, there are two things you should keep in mind. First, if you're a Trial TPG member, Books 24x7, TechRepublic's partner in supplying Tech Books, blocks access to the feature until you've paid for your membership. Secondly, Books 24x7 places a cookie on your workstation for authorization. You must allow this cookie in your browser. If you can't get into a book, try clicking the Tech Books link in the TechProGuild resources window. This will set the cookie.

Related resources:

November 11, 2004

The Linux/Windows battle rages on

Today is Veteran's Day here in the United States, when we celebrate the end of World War I, which was also ironically named the War To End All Wars. In the 20th century there was a war on every continent except for Australia and Antarctica. So far, it looks as if that trend will continue into the 21st century.

A decidedly different kind of war is going on in the marketplace. Microsoft has battled for control of the software that runs on PCs almost since the day Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded the company. So far Microsoft has done a pretty good job, wiping out competitors in the form of Lotus, WordPerfect Corp, and Ashton-Tate while marginalizing companies like Apple, Novell, and IBM. The battle isn't bloody, but whenever any company goes head to head against Microsoft, it quickly finds itself bleeding cash.

Microsoft's latest competitor, Linux, has no real cash to bleed. Because Linux is open source, all Microsoft can do is fight against major Linux proponents such as Red Hat and a revitalized Linux-focused Novell.

Of course, you DO have cash. And you don't want to get stuck in the crossfire of Windows vs. Linux. You just want the best solution for your company for a given problem without draining your budget. Many companies are looking at Linux for cheaper solutions.

Appropriately enough on the anniversary of the end of one war (and on his birthday) Jonathan Sinclair joins the Windows-Linux skirmish as he investigates how to deploy an e-mail server on a Linux-based computer. TechProGuild's Linux track can help Windows based administrators integrate Linux into their environment while also showing Linux administrators some new tips and tricks.

Related resources:

November 9, 2004

Web servers: How to simplify through consolidation

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau repeatedly urges his readers to reassess their lives and "Simplify, simplify". Although he wasn't thinking about computer networks when he wrote Walden, the concept of striving to simplify does have direct application to IT.

Unfortunately, IT projects have lives of their own. Try as you may to control them, user demands and office politics invariably cause you to have to buy this software for that task and that server to replace another. Before you know it, you're supporting dozens of different applications spread across multiple servers. The Internet boom brought the explosion of using Web servers for doing everything from customer support to in-house intranets. After a while, you are likely to hear Thoreau's words echoing in the back of your head.

In an example of how to simplify an IT task, Brien Posey offers this look at how to consolidate Web servers, decreasing the number of servers you're supporting while also making your overall Web strategy more efficient.

Spyware is another IT issue that can complicate your life. Steven Pittsley takes a look at the complicated ways that anti-spyware identifies and protects your systems against spyware intrusions.

As much as it might be tempting to sit on the edge of Walden pond and contemplate life, as IT professionals we don't always get that pleasure. Instead, the best we can hope for is to make our jobs as simple and as efficient as possible. These TechProGuild resources can help you simplify.

Related resources:

November 4, 2004

Which side are your users on anyway?

When your company hired you, you probably thought that you were going to be part of a team; you and the other employees all working together towards the ultimate goal of your organization. Although you may just chalk it up to paranoia, you quickly discovered that it seemed as if the users on your network were all out to get you. Just when you thought you had locked down the network, users found new and inventive ways to break things.

As if full-time weren't bad enough, interns or temporary workers who come in and need access to the network are even more problematic. You've probably got a whole set of routines in place to get temporary workers set up with machines and network access, but sometimes that's not enough.

To help, Pierre Dumoulin shows how you can use firewalling techniques on internal workstations to keep temporary workers from snooping around the network. We also have some Tech Tips about securing your internal network.

In addition to that new article, Scott Lowe offers a new report on detailing virtual machines. WinFrame and Terminal Services began the trend to creating virtual machines, but newer programs such as VMWare and Virtual Server 2005 allow you to run multiple operating systems. Scott will be guiding you through how to make virtual machines effective in your company.

Related resources

November 2, 2004

Which contest was less hostile: Bush vs. Kerry or Linux vs. Windows?

After what seems like an eternity, Election Day is finally here. Whom do you vote for? Bush or Kerry? Kerry or Bush? Bush! No—Kerry! No—BUSH!! Nader?! Badnarik??? After a presidential race as contentious as this one, at least everyone can agree on one thing: Thank God it's over!

All of the negative rhetoric flying around this season reminds me of the ongoing debate between Windows and Linux advocates. What begins as a high-minded discussion of features and technical superiority quickly devolves into a flame war. Inevitably, the market, as the ballot box, makes the final decision.

Just as elections repeat year after year, so do the debates and the vitriol about technology. The only thing that changes is the players. Currently, it's Windows vs. Linux. Before, it was NT vs. NetWare, Windows 95 vs. OS/2, and PCs vs. the Amiga. In every case, all you can do is make the decision that's best for you and your organization based on the facts, and then run with it.

TechProGuild has several articles that help you decide how to make the move from one operating system to another, and then how to successfully migrate when you make your decision. After the move, we show you how to get the most out of your decision.

Me? Well, let's just say this. I was a big advocate of OS/2 over Windows 95. My favorite network operating systems has always been NetWare. The presidential candidate I voted for this year? Let's not talk about that.

Related resources:

October 28, 2004

Taking the express route to expanding workstations

The first computer I ever bought for myself—a Tandy 1000—was back in college. Anyone who remembers the Tandy 1000 knows that it was Radio Shack's clone of the ill-fated IBM PCjr. It was a great little computer that had added sound and video features beyond that of the standard IBM PC, and unlike the PCjr, it was actually relatively successful in the marketplace.

One of the greatest limitations to the system was its lack of expandability. The first versions of the Tandy 1000 came with only three expansion slots—all 8-bit ISA. Not only were you limited to 8-bit ISA slots, but the machine was so small that it could accept only half-length (8-inch) ISA cards.

The motherboard of the machine could hold only 128 KB of RAM, so if you wanted to expand it, you immediately lost one slot. Add a hard drive, and you lost another. Add an RS232 or modem, and you were done. I went overboard and bought a multifunction card that included a clock, RAM, and an RS232 port on one card so I could use that precious third slot for something really important like a 286 accelerator card.

ISA slots have gone the way of the Tandy 1000. You can find them on eBay, but that's about it. Nowadays, PCI rules the planet as far as expansion slots in PCs go. There's a new standard on the horizon, however—PCI Express. James McPherson takes a look at that this week, while Scott Lowe tells you how to identify slots in some of the older PCs you may have lying around the office.

You'll find that we've updated the new TechProGuild home page today. As part of the updates we've made to the new TechProGuild, we're changing the pages to coincide with the Guild Note, so you'll get fresher content on the page. Take a look and see what's new today.

Related resources:

October 26, 2004

Getting banners and pop-up ads? Not on the new TechProGuild home page

Spyware is becoming an increasing problem for workstations connected to the Internet. About a month ago, I got a new PC when we changed office locations. The first thing I do when I set up a new machine is load Spybot and AdAware on it, quickly followed by Mozilla FireFox. I've grown so tired of spyware problems with IE that I've almost completely abandoned it. Amazingly enough, by the time I downloaded both Spybot and AdAware and ran them before doing anything else, they reported a combined total of about 100 pieces of spyware. Since cleaning the machine out and installing FireFox, I've had few problems with spyware.

One of the nice things about the new TechProGuild home page is that we eliminated ads, banners, and pop-ups from it. We even endeavored to remove them from TPG articles as well. You still may find some ads and banners on a few pages, but those are usually ones being served from TechRepublic that we don't have any control over.

The biggest upshot of our "no ads, no banners, no pop-ups" policy is that it makes a good way to quickly tell if you've got a spyware problem on your workstation. If you're getting pop-up ads on your workstation, and the only thing you're doing is running your Web browser on the TechProGuild home page, then you've got a problem. It may not be the most thorough test, but at least you'll know for sure.

Related resources:

October 21, 2004

The home page isn't the only new thing on TechProGuild

The changes we've made to TechProGuild have been up for almost a week now, and the response has been phenomenal. So far, it seems like everyone has been pretty happy with the new design and the features we've added to the site. We'll probably make additional tweaks in upcoming weeks, but for now most of the big changes are done. Now we can get back to providing you with the best content to solve the problems you run into as an IT professional.

This week, Eric Sheesley (no relation) has updated several of our articles about Windows 2000 Server's routing features to reflect the changes that have appeared with Windows Server 2003. Most of the basics are the same, so if you've worked with Windows 2000 Server, you should understand the fundamentals, although some of the details are different.

On Wednesday, Scott Lowe discussed how to build an intranet using Windows Small Business Server 2003's Remote Web Workspace. Microsoft pushes organizations to buy Windows Server 2003 and all of the associated Back Office products, but if you're in an organization with fewer than 50 employees, you can get real bang for your buck with Small Business Server.

Finally, we've featured the IT Consultant's Tool Kit ISO in the TPG Download Center. ISOs are a new downloadable feature for TechProGuild subscribers. I've created complete disk images of many of the tools you previously had to buy from the TechRepublic catalog. You can download these ISOs and burn your own versions of our tools.

Related resources:

October 19, 2004

Welcome to the NEW TechProGuild

TechProGuild (or TPG, as we lovingly refer to it) first launched in 1999. Everyone knows that Internet years are somewhat akin to dog years, so being around for five years is a significant Internet accomplishment. To celebrate TechProGuild's fifth anniversary, we've updated the site and added features—all for the same price.

One of the first things we've done is eliminate all ads, banners, and pop-ups from the TPG home page. We've also done as much as we can do to eliminate them from article pages, download pages, and the TechProGuild Note as well. We've added the TPG Download Center, where you can find all of the TechProGuild reports as well as new tools and PDFs direct from our TechRepublic Catalog, which TechProGuild members can download for free. Finally, we've updated the Tech Books library, adding over 100 brand-new books. TPG subscribers can search and read the contents of more than 250 computer books online.

Two things haven't changed. First, we're still providing original, in-depth, solutions-oriented topics, including Windows Server 2003, Linux, and 802.11g. Second, we haven't changed the price. You get all of these improvements for the same $89 per year that we debuted with way back in the twentieth century. Here's to another five years!

October 28, 2004

Taking the express route to expanding workstations

The first computer I ever bought for myself—a Tandy 1000—was back in college. Anyone who remembers the Tandy 1000 knows that it was Radio Shack's clone of the ill-fated IBM PCjr. It was a great little computer that had added sound and video features beyond that of the standard IBM PC, and unlike the PCjr, it was actually relatively successful in the marketplace.

One of the greatest limitations to the system was its lack of expandability. The first versions of the Tandy 1000 came with only three expansion slots—all 8-bit ISA. Not only were you limited to 8-bit ISA slots, but the machine was so small that it could accept only half-length (8-inch) ISA cards.

The motherboard of the machine could hold only 128 KB of RAM, so if you wanted to expand it, you immediately lost one slot. Add a hard drive, and you lost another. Add an RS232 or modem, and you were done. I went overboard and bought a multifunction card that included a clock, RAM, and an RS232 port on one card so I could use that precious third slot for something really important like a 286 accelerator card.

ISA slots have gone the way of the Tandy 1000. You can find them on eBay, but that's about it. Nowadays, PCI rules the planet as far as expansion slots in PCs go. There's a new standard on the horizon, however—PCI Express. James McPherson takes a look at that this week, while Scott Lowe tells you how to identify slots in some of the older PCs you may have lying around the office.

You'll find that we've updated the new TechProGuild home page today. As part of the updates we've made to the new TechProGuild, we're changing the pages to coincide with the Guild Note, so you'll get fresher content on the page. Take a look and see what's new today.

Related resources:

October 26, 2004

Getting banners and pop-up ads? Not on the new TechProGuild home page

Spyware is becoming an increasing problem for workstations connected to the Internet. About a month ago, I got a new PC when we changed office locations. The first thing I do when I set up a new machine is load Spybot and AdAware on it, quickly followed by Mozilla FireFox. I've grown so tired of spyware problems with IE that I've almost completely abandoned it. Amazingly enough, by the time I downloaded both Spybot and AdAware and ran them before doing anything else, they reported a combined total of about 100 pieces of spyware. Since cleaning the machine out and installing FireFox, I've had few problems with spyware.

One of the nice things about the new TechProGuild home page is that we eliminated ads, banners, and pop-ups from it. We even endeavored to remove them from TPG articles as well. You still may find some ads and banners on a few pages, but those are usually ones being served from TechRepublic that we don't have any control over.

The biggest upshot of our "no ads, no banners, no pop-ups" policy is that it makes a good way to quickly tell if you've got a spyware problem on your workstation. If you're getting pop-up ads on your workstation, and the only thing you're doing is running your Web browser on the TechProGuild home page, then you've got a problem. It may not be the most thorough test, but at least you'll know for sure.

Related resources:

October 21, 2004

The home page isn't the only new thing on TechProGuild

The changes we've made to TechProGuild have been up for almost a week now, and the response has been phenomenal. So far, it seems like everyone has been pretty happy with the new design and the features we've added to the site. We'll probably make additional tweaks in upcoming weeks, but for now most of the big changes are done. Now we can get back to providing you with the best content to solve the problems you run into as an IT professional.

This week, Eric Sheesley (no relation) has updated several of our articles about Windows 2000 Server's routing features to reflect the changes that have appeared with Windows Server 2003. Most of the basics are the same, so if you've worked with Windows 2000 Server, you should understand the fundamentals, although some of the details are different.

On Wednesday, Scott Lowe discussed how to build an intranet using Windows Small Business Server 2003's Remote Web Workspace. Microsoft pushes organizations to buy Windows Server 2003 and all of the associated Back Office products, but if you're in an organization with fewer than 50 employees, you can get real bang for your buck with Small Business Server.

Finally, we've featured the IT Consultant's Tool Kit ISO in the TPG Download Center. ISOs are a new downloadable feature for TechProGuild subscribers. I've created complete disk images of many of the tools you previously had to buy from the TechRepublic catalog. You can download these ISOs and burn your own versions of our tools.

Related resources:

October 19, 2004

Welcome to the NEW TechProGuild

TechProGuild (or TPG, as we lovingly refer to it) first launched in 1999. Everyone knows that Internet years are somewhat akin to dog years, so being around for five years is a significant Internet accomplishment. To celebrate TechProGuild's fifth anniversary, we've updated the site and added features—all for the same price.

One of the first things we've done is eliminate all ads, banners, and pop-ups from the TPG home page. We've also done as much as we can do to eliminate them from article pages, download pages, and the TechProGuild Note as well. We've added the TPG Download Center, where you can find all of the TechProGuild reports as well as new tools and PDFs direct from our TechRepublic Catalog, which TechProGuild members can download for free. Finally, we've updated the Tech Books library, adding over 100 brand-new books. TPG subscribers can search and read the contents of more than 250 computer books online.

Two things haven't changed. First, we're still providing original, in-depth, solutions-oriented topics, including Windows Server 2003, Linux, and 802.11g. Second, we haven't changed the price. You get all of these improvements for the same $89 per year that we debuted with way back in the twentieth century. Here's to another five years!

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