Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE--brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine, the leading publication for IT professionals deploying Windows and related technologies. http://www.winnetmag.com
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February 11, 2003--In this issue:
1. COMMENTARY - Bluetooth: Still Crazy After All These Years
2. HOT OFF THE PRESS - Microsoft Preps Platform and Visual Studio Upgrades
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT - Critical Software Updates and the Windows Update Catalog
4. ANNOUNCEMENTS - Catch the Microsoft Mobility Tour--Time Is Running Out! - Cramsession Study Guides--Special Offer!
5. HOT RELEASES (ADVERTISEMENTS) - New Intuitive Desktop Management - Free Download! - 2003 Microsoft Management Summit - Footprints from Unipress Software
6. INSTANT POLL - Results of Previous Poll: Trustworthy Computing - New Instant Poll: Bluetooth
7. RESOURCES - Tip: Why Can't I Use Microsoft NetMeeting to Share Applications?
8. NEW AND IMPROVED - Monitor Server and Workstation Event Logs - Back Up Your Windows Servers - Submit Top Product Ideas
9. CONTACT US - See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
* BLUETOOTH: STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS I recall visiting PC Expo about 3 years ago and hearing that Bluetooth was the next big wireless technology. Today, Bluetooth is still, in many ways, the next big thing--exciting in its promise but still frustrating in its reality. After some early tests with the technology, I opted temporarily to pass on using it, but with the sudden influx of Bluetooth-capable devices at Casa de Thurrott in recent days, I thought I'd give it another shot.
If you're not familiar with Bluetooth, the technology is designed to wirelessly connect devices in what's often called a Personal Area Network (PAN). Bluetooth isn't a competitor for 802.11b, however: It offers only 1Mbps transfer speeds--in a best-case scenario--and short signal range. The product is instead best used as a low-bandwidth replacement for infrared (IR) or USB connections. Hardware makers are now releasing devices such as PDAs, printers, keyboards, mouse devices, and headsets that take advantage of Bluetooth, which isn't saddled with IR's line-of-sight limitation. Microsoft's recent release of a Bluetooth wireless desktop product, which includes a keyboard, mouse, and Bluetooth base station, will likely legitimize the technology, as will its inclusion in a variety of notebook and notebooklike computers.
Because of my participation in the Microsoft Mobility Tour (see http://www.winnetmag.com/seminars/mobility for details), I'm currently working with four different Tablet PCs and two Pocket PC devices (of course, carting all this hardware around makes me extremely immobile). None of the Tablet PC devices I'm testing supports Bluetooth, which is odd, but both Pocket PCs do. And although connecting mobile devices for file transfers and other purposes might seem obvious, it didn't occur to me until a mildly humorous occurrence the night of our first stop on the tour, in San Francisco.
The night before the show, I had arranged all the Tablet PCs on my hotel room bed and was running through final presentation preparations. Suddenly, all the machines started squawking and beeping in a symphony of birdlike electronic sounds that was both amusing and annoying. As it turns out, all the Tablet PCs include IR support, and each device was locating and attempting to connect to the other IR-enabled devices it found nearby. After a few minutes of this nonsense, I separated the devices, but the moment stuck with me.
On the plane ride home, I was composing an article on one of the Tablet PCs when I noticed that the battery was running low. I desperately wanted to finish the article, but because it was stuck on the current Tablet PC, even the presence of another machine in my bag didn't seem like much help. And then I remembered the cacophony of sounds from the night before. I opened up another Tablet PC and positioned it next to the first device. A squawk and a beep later, I made the IR connection and transferred the file just before the battery died on the first machine. I went back to work on the new machine and finished the article. Victory.
But IR is limited and on the way out. So a week or so later, I decided to try using Bluetooth to wirelessly transfer data between two mobile devices. I wish I could say I had as much success with Bluetooth as I had with IR. Here's what I tried to do.
First, I tried to transfer data between a Bluetooth-enabled IBM ThinkPad notebook computer and a Hewlett-Packard (HP) iPAQ 5455 Pocket PC, which is the top-of-the-line model with integrated 802.11b, Bluetooth, fingerprint recognition security, and universal remote control capabilities. The IBM includes My Bluetooth Places, a central clearinghouse that lets you find compatible Bluetooth devices and control various configuration settings, such as security, discoverability, notifications, and file storage locations. The iPAQ has a Bluetooth settings control panel that lets you configure the technology (and turn it off, which is important on a battery-constrained device such as the iPAQ) and a Bluetooth Manager, which lets you configure connections with other devices. Using these tools, I was able to enable Bluetooth on both devices, find each device from the other device, and establish a partnership between the two devices. Using My Bluetooth Places, I was also able to transfer small files to the iPAQ--but large file transfers mysteriously failed. I'm still trying to figure out why.
I had even less success with using Bluetooth to wirelessly synchronize the iPAQ with the notebook computer. These days, most Pocket PC users use Microsoft ActiveSync over a USB connection to synchronize appointments, contacts, email, and files, but wouldn't wireless be great in this situation? ActiveSync is one of those incredibly frustrating applications--great when it works but difficult to troubleshoot when it doesn't. Although I had properly configured the software to use a particular COM port for synchronization, and both devices could "see" each other, ActiveSync refused to sync. So it was neither active nor in sync--and you probably see more humor in that than I did.
Ultimately, I'd love to see the realization of the Bluetooth dream: You bring your compatible Bluetooth devices--PDAs, phones, laptops--together in your home or office, and they silently synchronize automatically. Obviously, we're not at that point quite yet, and PCs will need to ship with integrated Bluetooth connectivity before this technology becomes pervasive. In the meantime, Bluetooth is still on a holding pattern, although I'm interested in the possibilities. And at the risk of feeling disappointed in my abilities once again, I have to ask: Is anyone using Bluetooth regularly to synchronize data between a PC and a portable, connected device? How well does the technology work for you?
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* MICROSOFT PREPS PLATFORM AND VISUAL STUDIO UPGRADES At the VSLive! 2003 developer conference in San Francisco this week, Microsoft will demonstrate the next two Visual Studio .NET versions, including Visual Studio .NET 2003 (code-named Everett), which will ship April 24 with Windows Server 2003. The next release of Visual Studio (VS), code-named Whidbey, will ship in early 2004 with the next Microsoft SQL Server release (code-named Yukon). After that, the next VS release will ship with Longhorn, the next Windows release, in late 2004 or early 2005. For the complete story, visit the following URL: http://www.wininformant.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=37985
* CRITICAL SOFTWARE UPDATES AND THE WINDOWS UPDATE CATALOG I'm not a big fan of Microsoft's methods for keeping systems current: manual visits to Windows Update or the Automatic Updates client. In both cases, the interactive analysis tool frequently recommends that I install software that isn't appropriate or required. Often, hotfixes won't install, don't correct the problem, or interfere with another OS component, thus introducing new bugs. To avoid these problems, I prefer to use the Windows Update catalog to research, download, and test updates before I deploy them to production systems. The catalog has one major limitation for legacy users: It doesn't publish hotfixes for Windows NT, and you can't access the catalog from an NT system. You can download NT updates from the main Windows Update page as long as you access the site from a Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Me, or Windows 98 system, but you can't interact with Windows Update from an NT system. Every time Microsoft releases a critical update, the company (theoretically) adds the fix to the Windows Update catalog. If you know how to use the catalog, you can selectively download security updates and other code fixes appropriate for your environment. To read more about the Windows Update catalog, as well as learn where to find noncritical software updates, visit the following URL: http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=37989
* CATCH THE MICROSOFT MOBILITY TOUR--TIME IS RUNNING OUT! This outstanding seven-city event will help you support your growing mobile workforce. Industry guru Paul Thurrott discusses the coolest mobility hardware solutions around, demonstrates how to increase the productivity of your "road warriors" with the unique features of Windows XP and Office XP, and much more. You could also win an HP iPAQ Pocket PC. There is no charge for these live events, but space is limited, so register today! Sponsored by Microsoft, HP, and Toshiba. http://www.winnetmag.com/seminars/mobility
* CRAMSESSION STUDY GUIDES--SPECIAL OFFER! Cramsession.com has teamed up with PrepLogic to offer the "best of breed" in certification preparation! Cramsession Study Guides are recognized worldwide as the defacto standard in study material with over 3 million downloaded to date. Get this popular selling study guide for only $1 when you purchase a PrepLogic Premium practice exam. http://studyguides.cramsession.com/Cramsession/pdf/PromoPDF.asp?ID=Win2K+Professional&eccamid=15
* NEW INTUITIVE DESKTOP MANAGEMENT - FREE DOWNLOAD! Visually map network drives, shared and TCP/IP printers, copy files, create folders and shortcuts. Install Windows service packs and MSI packages. Create, replace, update, delete and migrate Outlook Profiles. Set Office & IE application settings. Free Trial! http://www.AutoProf.com/Update_Main_HotR_2003_02_11.html
* 2003 MICROSOFT MANAGEMENT SUMMIT Microsoft(R) presents the 2003 Microsoft Management Summit. At this technical summit Microsoft Program Managers and experts will teach you how to get the most from your Windows(R)-based Management Solutions. http://www.mms2003.com/default.aspx?pin=email1
* FOOTPRINTS FROM UNIPRESS SOFTWARE Reduce costs and improve workflow with FootPrints, 100% web-based help desk and support software. Centralized request tracking, self-service online, email management, IT asset tracking, and direct access to Microsoft Exchange address books. Free walkthrough at http://www.unipress.com/footprints/winnetmag.html
* RESULTS OF PREVIOUS POLL: TRUSTWORTHY COMPUTING The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Do you think that Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative has benefited the company's customers?" Here are the results from the 195 votes. - 58% Yes - 14% No - 27% Too soon to tell (Deviations from 100 percent are due to rounding error.)
* NEW INSTANT POLL: BLUETOOTH The next Instant Poll question is, "Do you regularly use Bluetooth to synchronize data between a PC and a portable device?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, I use it regularly, b) I tried it but found it lacking, c) I've never tried it, and I don't plan to, or d) I've never tried it, but I'm interested and plan to. http://www.winnetmag.com/magazine
* TIP: WHY CAN'T I USE MICROSOFT NETMEETING TO SHARE APPLICATIONS? ( contributed by John Savill, http://www.windows2000faq.com )
Within NetMeeting, any meeting participant who connects through a standard connection (e.g., network or dial-up connection) can go to the Tools menu and select Sharing to share an application (e.g., Microsoft PowerPoint) with other meeting participants so that they can see the application window and any actions taken within the application. As a result, you don't have to host the meeting to share applications, although the meeting host can configure the meeting so that only he or she can share programs.
If you use Remote Desktop or a Windows 2000 Server Terminal Services session to connect to NetMeeting, you won't be able to share applications during the meeting. Similarly, you won't be able to share applications if you try to share them too quickly after the meeting has started--your computer must synchronize with the other participants' computers before sharing information. Try waiting 30 seconds after the meeting has started before attempting to share an application.
* MONITOR SERVER AND WORKSTATION EVENT LOGS NETIKUS.NET released EventSentry, software that monitors your server and workstation event logs. The installation doesn't require a reboot. When events that match your triggers occur, the application sends you an email message through SMTP, writes the event to a text file, sends the event to a UNIX or Linux syslog server, writes the event to an ODBC database, or lets you choose any combination of these actions. Pricing starts at $149. Contact NETIKUS.NET at 877-485-3975 or [email protected] http://www.netikus.net
* BACK UP YOUR WINDOWS SERVERS VERITAS Software released VERITAS Backup Exec 9.0 for Windows Servers, backup and recovery software for small to midsized businesses. Enhancements include fast backup and restore of Microsoft Exchange servers, Windows Server 2003 support, and an Anywhere Internet interface that lets you monitor and manage your backup from any Internet-connected computer. Pricing is $795. Contact VERITAS Software at 650-527-8000 or 800-327-2232. http://www.veritas.com
* SUBMIT TOP PRODUCT IDEAS Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected]
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