Urge, what are you doing with my hard drive?

I’ve been experimenting with subscription music services.  A while ago I started with Rhapsody, and while I despised their darn application (why not just be an add in in Windows Media Player?!), I enjoyed their service.  Unfortunately, after I converted to Windows Vista (super duper edition), I discovered that Rhapsody didn’t work with Vista.
 
So I cancelled my Rhapsody subscription which was a painless process, but it did require a phone call.  Kudo’s for Real (<shiver>) for making it easy to leave the services – it makes me more willing to go back to it.
 
I then joined Urge.  After a while, I kind of got used to the interface, but I still haven’t found an easy way to "tag" music that I want to listen to again, short of putting it into a big messy playlist.  Rhapsody had this part down pat.
 
Over the past month or so, I’ve noticed that my hard drive has been getting accessed nonstop.  At first I thought it was Vista doing some indexing stuff, but even after leaving the machine alone for 24 hours, the hard drive was still clicking.  I finally narrowed it down to Urge causing the problem.  A few seconds after I close Windows Meda Player, the hard drive quiets down.  I reopen WMP and it goes nuts again.  I uninstalled Urge and the problem went away.  I reinstalled Urge and it came back.
 
I have a fairly noisy 10,000 RPM drive, so having it clicking all the time is quite annoying.  I wish I knew if this is a problem that is going to be cleared up soon, or if I need to move back to Rhapsody…

Is your Media Center system not recording shows properly?

Even if your PC running Microsoft Media Center Edition was fully patched for the daylight savings time change, there is a problem effecting many people where shows that were scheduled to be recorded did not correctly change their record start and stop times.
 
Thus many people, including myself, have had shows missed.  I’m quite cheesed that I missed the latest Battlestar Galactica!
 
The fix, as discovered by someone over the www.thegreenbutton.com is to go into your channel configuration, deselect all but one channel (that you’ve never recorded anything from), click save, wait for the CPU to go back to idle, then go back into the channel configuration, reselect all the channels (or at least those that you watch), and save again.
 
At that point, all times for all recordings should be fixed.
 
Good luck!

Problem with your Windows phone and DST?

As everyone nows, the dates that daylight savings time changes have changed.
 
Cingular, who is my carrier, sent me a sms text message about the fix needed for my 8125 phone.  I installed the update last week with no problem on both of our 8125’s.
 
This morning, while all of our PC’s and servers reflected the correct time, our Cingular phones did not.  After some research it turns out that the patch didn’t quite work properly.  The way to get your phone working properly again is simple though (all of these steps are on your phone, not your PC):
Click on the Start menu
Click on Settings
Click on the System tab
Click on Clock and Alarms
Change the timezone to a timezone that is at least an hour different from the one you’re in now.
Accept the prompt for changing the timezone
Go back into the Clock and Alarms option
Change the timezone back to your real timezone
Accept the prompt for changing the timezone
Wait a few moments and you should see the time correct itself.
 
Make sure that you’ve applied the patch before you do this.
 
Good luck!

Ever install Microsoft Office with the wrong key?

This evening I had to get a copy of Infopath 2007 on a notebook to run a toolkit that MS provides.
 
Unfortunately I used a key that had been used before, and activation was rejected.  It was a simple mistake, and it turns out, easily corrected.
 
Rather than uninstalling and reinstalling using the proper key, just go to this article and delete a couple of registry keys.  The next time you run an Office program, you’ll be prompted again for a product key.  Simple and fast!

Updating SBS 2003 for Vista

While many businesses are not planning on upgrading to Microsoft Windows Vista right away, there are certain circumstances where a smaller business may be "forced" to move more quickly than they might normally choose.
 
In our case, our business, TLA Technologies, Inc. needs to make sure that we’re ahead of our customer’s needs.  So I upgraded my desktop computer to Windows Vista Ultimate Edition a few weeks ago.
 
I decided a little while ago to update Small Business Server 2003 (SBS) to include all Vista compatiblity updates.
 
These can be found here.
 
Basically, you have to install three (possibly four) updates. 
 
The first one makes joining a SBS domain and logging into an SBS domain work seamlessley.  Without this update, you are unable to use the ConnectComputer page, and if you connect the client computer "manually" to the domain (which works fine), you’ll get an error upon logging in regarding a program the runs during login not being compatible with Vista.  After applying the update, the login is smooth.  Also, this update is supposed to allow the Remote "Connect to my computer at work" option to work properly for Vista systems (however, currently I’m having a problem with this still not working).  This update takes only a few minutes to install, and does not appear to require a reboot.
 
The second update fixes Exchange Outlook Web Access so that it works on Vista.  Without this, you’ll just get a "red X" in the text editing window of OWA when you try to compose or reply to a message.  There are other benefits as well.  This update will require a reboot at the end of the process.
 
If you’re running SBS Premium Edition and have ISA Server 2004 installed, then you’ll want to install the third update which applies Service Pack 2 to ISA Server 2004.  This update requires about 5 minutes to run and it did not prompt for a reboot, but I did anyway.
 
Finally, if you have the ISA firewall client installed on your desktops, you’ll need the desktop client update found here.
 
Total time to update the server is under 30 minutes, including time for reboots.
 
Good luck, and happy updating!

Frustrations with a Microsoft keyboard

I have a bit of a "thing" for keyboards (they are afterall your main interface with your computer!).  Over the past five years, I’ve probably owned 10 different types of keyboards from several different manufacturers.
 
Recently I’ve been using the Microsoft Wireless Laser Keyboard 6000 v2.0 with its matching Laser Mouse 6000.
 
The Good
The feel of the keyboard is fantastic. I love the short stroke keys and the fact that Microsoft has put the arrow keys and navigation keys back to the way they should be, and even more importantly, the stupid F-Lock disaster has been changed to work the way it should have from the start.  That is, the function keys work normally, unless you toggle the F-Lock key to make them do other things.  I can’t believe that MS messed those two things up so badly, but they may have seen the light (good thing we have Logitech around to keep MS in line).
 
The visual design of the keyboard is very nice, and the "comfort curve" design is, in fact, quite comfortable.
 
The Bad
The wireless reception of this keyboard and mouse combination is by far the absolute worst I’ve ever experienced with any wireless product.  This has been all over the internet, and if you read the reviews on Amazon, you’ll get a sense of people’s frustrations.  I’ve personally experimented with having the reciever right next to the keyboard all the way to having it on the other side of the room.  Funny thing – having it on the other side of the room provided the best experience.
 
Unfortunately, even the best experience is not a great one.  Dropped keystrokes are the norm, and missed mouse clicks are very common.  Regardless of what you’re trying to do, it is incredibly frustrating.
 
The truth is, I read the reviews on Amazon (for the v1.0 version) before purchasing the keyboard.  The problem was, when I went shopping for a keyboard and I saw this one, it was tagged as "v2.0" on the bottom, which I thought meant that perhaps the problems had been fixed.  As I found out rather quickly, they had not been.
 
In the interest of complete troubleshooting, I’ve even tried switching the wireless receiver that came with this keyboard (version 3 receiver) with an older version (version 2).  The reception is better (although not perfect), but the special function keys and "extra" mouse buttons don’t work correctly with the older receiver, so that isn’t a viable solution.
 
Given the current situation, I unfortunately have to put this keyboard and mouse in the closet and dig out an "older" set.  Regarding Microsoft and this keyboard, there are three options that would make me a happy camper:
1) Microsoft can bring out a wireless version that actually works
2) Microsoft can bring out a BlueTooth version
or
3) Microsoft can bring out a wired version that works.
 
Next time, I’m going to pay attention to those Amazon reviews!

MS SharePoint 2007 Training With Ted Pattison

Recently, I had the pleasure of taking a training class on SharePoint 2007 offered by Ted Pattison.  If you look at the About page on his site, you’ll see that Ted has been in the computer business forever and has been doing training for more than 10 years.  While I was in his class, I determined two things:
 
1) Ted really knows SharePoint 2007
and
2) SharePoint 2007 is a very cool / deep / complicated / flexible product.
 
As Ted is fond of pointing out, there are actually two "versions" of SharePoint.  Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS).  WSS is what is "free" with the purchase of Windows Server, and MOSS builds upon that but will cost you big bucks.  While WSS is free, taking the time to learn how to use it isn’t, and going to training can really pay off in time saved.
 
In any case, regardless of which version of SharePoint 2007 you’re using, or considering using, I really recommend taking the time to get trained by Ted.  He really knows his stuff! 
 
I currently have no affiliation with Ted except for hanging out with him after the occasional TOGA meeting, I just thought his class was great.

VMWare 1, Virtual PC 0

I enjoy messing around with various versions of Linux. In order
to keep my desk from being completely overrun with computers, I’ve been
trying to use various distributions under Microsoft Virtual PC.
Unfortunately, what I’ve found is that if I attempt to run a copy of
Linux under Virtual PC at the full native resolution of the system that
I’m working on (1280×1024), it will not display properly. It ends
up looking like the alternating lines of the display have been shifted
over signifcantly. The best I’ve been able to do is set Linux to
use 1024×768 as the highest resolution, and then run Linux in a window,
rather than full screen, which deprives me of the "full" experience.

Recently I decided to download and install Ubuntu, and just for kicks, I decided I would try using VMWare Workstation
to host the OS. To make a long story short, it worked
perfectly. The OS runs at full resolution, which makes me very
happy.

Heck, even printing only took about 15 seconds to configure and send a print job.

So, if you’re planning on using a version of Linux in a virtual session
on your PC, give VMWare Workstation a shot. A free evaluation
version is available. I’m guessing I’ll be buying a license when
my eval time expires. At least the competition between VMWare and
Microsoft has resulted in a significant price reduction of their
respective products!

Posted from Firefox running on Ubuntu, running in VMWare Workstation, running under Windows XP SP 2.  Yeesh.