Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dayton SBS User Group Meeting

Kevin invited me to attend the Dayton SBS User Group meeting with him tonight. He was going to talk about Cougar and suggested I talk about Response Point having just returned from SMB Summit. It was such a beautiful day and I figured that I couldn't pass up a nice ride up to Dayton with the top down. So I got my other ride out of the garage and headed out of town. Unfortunately, when only about a mile from MAX Training where the user group meeting was - my car began to loose power and pooped out. I'm guessing it may be the fuel pump. Anyway, Ronnie was my flatbed driver that picked me and my car up and then dropped me off at the user group meeting and then took my car back to the repair shop in Cincinnati. I got to talk to the user group about Response Point and then Kevin was nice enough to bring me all the way back home before driving on to his home in KY.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another Cool Gadget for Telephones

Okay, this one wasn't my idea. I got it from Jerry at CMP. The MagicJack device connects to your computer's USB port and gives you telephone usage from a softphone on your computer or a telephone connected to its RJ11 port. The cost is $40 for the first year and $20/year after that. It gives you a telephone number in your choice of area code (Cincinnati not available yet), voice mail and unlimited long distance. With it you are calling to MagicJack users AND to any regular telephone user! Jerry told me he uses it at Trade Show exhibitions. He has his laptop connected to the internet and with this device he can give dial tone to his demonstration Response Point system. Bravo!

Cool Gadget for Response Point Presentation

I used this gadget in my Response Point presentation last weekend at SMB Summit in Dallas. It's made/sold by Radio Shack and only costs $25. It's sold as something that would let you record your cell phone conversations to a voice recorder. The only little thing extra you need to know or have is a gender changer (the audio connector kind ) for F-F 1/8" adapter. Instead of connecting it to a voice recorder I connected it to the input of the hall's PA system. I was then able to use my cell phone to call in live to a Response Point system - in this case one back in my office in Cincinnati. This enabled me to let the audience 'listen in' on the caller's experiece with Response Point. This worked great and I think it helped those in attendance see how the voice recognition works. I almost wound up in the dog house later when I took a live phone call from my wife during the presentation - using this gadget.

Monday, April 21, 2008

SMB Summit 2008

I just returned home from SMB Summit 2008 in Dallas. It was a great event with a loads of information for our IT practices - especially on the new SBS and EBS 2008 products. In addition to getting to meet some the Microsoft Response Point product team and the CMP and Syspine sales managers, I had the privelege of doing the Response Point presentation.

Lots of new stuff going on with Response Point. Many people have heard about Service Pack 1 being around the corner. Microsoft recently announced two VOIP partners for Response Point - NGT and CBeyond. These companies are developing their partner programs for Response Point dealers right now. Another REALLY hot item was the announcement Friday that Syspine has a limited time FANTASTIC demo kit pricing for Microsoft Partners. This really kept the Syspine/CMP vendor booth hopping at the Exhibitors Hall. It may not be too late to get yours - contact CMP if you are interested.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

SMB Summit 4/19

The end of the second day of presentations at SMB Summit in Dallas, TX. We've had two full days of SBS 2008, EBS 2008 and WHS. In addition to that there has been a lot of 'networking' (the people kind). The lunch today consisted of a room full of tables where each table was themed. I was at a Response Point table where we had a full boat of people that were interested in talking about the new Microsoft telephone system.

Tomorrow afternoon will have the vendor exhibits going on and in the afternoon I will be giving my Response Point presentations.

Oh yes, Zenith Infotech apparently supplied 4,000 bottles of Backup & Disaster Recovery water. That's a lot of water for a group of 400 people drinking mostly coffee, soda and chai tea. I know, picture is rotated. Just can't figure why? and don't feel like fooling with it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

SMB Summit 4/18

Got in to Dallas Thursday before the big weather event. At least they don't have quite the weather idiots here as back home in Cincinnati. But, I think there were about 5 weather channels on the hotel cable tv. Not sure if there was an actual tornado or not but there were 70 mph winds and hail the size of baseballs (per report). I spoke to several attendees at breakfast this morning that were 3 or 4 hours late getting to the airport here on arrival.

You probably can't make out the speaker in this picture but it's Chris Almida, Program Manager with the Small Business Server team. There are about 450 attendees here and lots of great programming.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Nice Internet Speed Test

I just found this nice Internet Speed Test. I've used others - this one just looks to be very well presented. It's at Here's my results.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My TPAM Helped Me Out

My TPAM (Microsoft's Telephone Partner Account Manager) was a big help on something recently and I appreciate it.

In going through my accounting records while preparing for my accountant to do his job for my Income Taxes I noticed a repeating charge from Microsoft Live Office for $40 per month for about the last 12 to 14 months! These charges have been paid when presented but this was the first time I had actually reviewed the detail and noticed this one. When I called MS Live Office customer service I was told that this was for my premium Live Office Account. I do sign up for free offers, especially when I think I can learn about a service that might be helpful for my clients in my consulting practice. But when I see that the free trial period will change to a paid service I mark my calendar so that I don't forget to cancel the service if I don't want to keep it. Customer Service said they were sorry but all they could do was cancel my service and refund the one month that I was paid ahead. When I asked who else with a higher authority in service I could appeal to the answer I was give was - no one. When I expressed incredulity to this and asked if I could write a letter or email to someone I was advised to address my letter to:

1 Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA xxxxx

I asked if this was the complete address and was told it was. I asked if there was a person's name or department to direct it to and was answered - no, there wasn't.

Now I don't know about you but with the rest of the way I have seen MS operate I was skeptical as to whether addressing a letter to no one could get more results than actually talking to someone on the phone. I was picturing the mail room guy having to read my letter and then react appropriately. Seemed kind of iffy.

A few days later when I had a few minutes to spare and was in the mood to get frustrated I called Live Office customer service again. The guy I spoke with told me that he knew that I was sent an email letting me know that the Live Office service had changed from beta to production and I would start being charged. I asked if you could demonstrate that I had seen this email (even though I don't believe seeing it constitutes agreement). He said he could not. He went on to tell me that I had replied to the email and accepted the terms. THIS really got me. I knew that I had not seen the email and there is NO WAY that I had agreed. I asked him to produce a copy of my acceptance email and he said these were only accessible for 60 days - and at about 1 year we were way past that. I asked him who could retrieve this email and he suggested I call 1-800-microsoft and get to the billing department and they would help me. He added that he could credit my account for 2 months worth of charges. I am a little confused why he did this based on the rest of his story?

THEN, a week or so ago, while driving to Nashville to see one of my daughters, I got a call from Sheila, my TPAM. After we talked she asked if there was anything she could do for me. I thought for a minute and told her it would be great if she could get me in contact with someone in the Live Office customer service area that was a little more enlightened than the front line telephone people that I had been dealing with. I explained what the issue was and she said she couldn't promise anything but that she would try.

TODAY, I got a call from Josh at Live Office and he said he was instructed to get in touch with me and take care of refunding my money. WOW, I got what I was looking for and I didn't even have to knock myself out.

Thanks, Sheila.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Windows HOME? Server

I heard that Windows Home Server was targeted at the home computer user network. I've been running WHS since the first beta version. When the product went production and the beta expired I actually bought the software since it is not part of my Action Pack. Yesterday I had my first occasion to want to restore a previous version of a file. I accessed the WHS console, went through the GUI and found the date I wanted to select for my restore and initiated what I guess was a catalog read. During this process I received the message you see in my first screen shot. Nice of Microsoft to instruct you not to follow some instructions! Did an actual, educated, adult put this message in here? And who was responsible for reviewing this person's work? One thing I've learned is that with 65,000 employees there is a person for every job.

After a while I arrived at the error message in my second screen shot here. This is the product intended for the HOME user. Does this tell you enough about how to proceed? And what's with the OK? I think it's not OK but there is no other choice.

Because I work a lot with this vendor's software I know I can search their database and look for solutions. I did find KB 939218 and it is not pretty, particularly if you try to imagine the home user (mother, father, child) trying to follow it. The problem was that this KB (which was the only one which related to my symptoms) did not fix my problem.

I did find a message forum that discussed similar issues where the KB didn't help but some other steps did. I am reposting from it here -

Basically, it is reloading the WHS restore service driver. The tricky part about it is that it only exists while the restore is in progress.
So, you have to have Device Manager opened up with the System Devices section opened up and then do the restore. Early on, at about 3%, you will see the Home Server Restore driver pop up in the DM list. Right click it and uninstall it. Then cancel the ongoing restore process in the connector software. Get out of everything that needs to be closed and restart the system. When it boots again, retry the restore process and it should work - at least mine did and still is...
This forces a reload of the restore driver and is tricky becasue the restore driver is added and deleted as part of the restore process and you cannot find or see it at any other time.


This did work. Again - probably not for a happy home user.