Friday, October 27, 2006

Internet Explorer 7

IE 7 is officially out and in use. I tested the beta versions for about 6 months and have to admit I like it, especially being able to set more than one homepage and the use of tabs. I will quickly admit to having to get use to using tabs, but it grows on you pretty quick. Printing seems to be improved as well over earlier versions of IE.
Microsoft's IE 7 website

Windows Vista

We've been testing Windows Vista RC1 at work with all of the software products our company uses to accomplish our day to day work. We've been please to discover that 95% of all of the software we use works without any tweaking and that the remaining 5% work thanks to Vista's Compatibility Wizard.

We had to download the new Vista client from Symantec for their antivirus product, and Cisco's latest VPN client for Vista (as to be expected). We've also had to go to the sound card manufacturer for a Vista driver, but again expected.

All told, I'm impressed with Vista. If you aren't testing for compatibility in your company's environment, you certainly ough to be. Also consider developing a strategy for integrating Vista. My general impression is that Vista will require memory and possibly video card upgrades in a lot of cases when attempting to upgrade a win2k or win xp box. I'm seriously considering not upgrading current desktops, but moving to Vista on all new purchases and having a mixed XP/Vista environment for some time.

Get all the info and even download the VISTA release candidate at Microsoft's Vista site

You'll need a DVD burner if you download the iso image or you can order the Windows Vista RC1 DVD on their site and pay them $5 for it to be shipped to you.

You can also run the Vista upgrade advisor to get a listing of what you'll need to upgrade on any machine you are contemplating upgrading to Vista.

AVG Antivirus

Another AntiVirus product worth mentioning is AVG from GRISOFT. GRISOFT gives away a verison of their product for use on home computers which I've been quite pleased with as well. They've recently added a free Anti-Spyware product as well. AVG also offers solutions for client-server networks, Email servers, Windows and Linux Servers, etc.

AVG Free

Trend Micro

After years of relying on Symantec Corporate and Enterprise versions of Antivirus products in corporate/business environments, I am giving serious consideration to moving to Trend Micro's AntiVirus products. We've done some testing with their eval versions and have been quite impressed with their offerings. They offer multilayer A/V protection products including their VirusWall hardware device and even a A/V client for mobile devices (like your smartphone).

Trend Micro Website

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Office PCs – White Box versus Major Manufacturer

From time to time someone suggests that it would be cheaper to buy computers from a local computer store than from a major manufacturer or that locally assembled computer produce better performance. Computers assembled purely for performance criteria tend to have a shorter life cycle than those assembled for reliability. Over-clocking processors and other performance techniques are fine and good for a gaming application, but are less than desirable for office environments.

For corporate environments where employees are relying on their machines day in and day out to be productive, machines produced by a corporate manufacturer prove to be more reliable, are better supported by the manufacturer, and are more cost-effective over a three to four year period.

Local computer store assembled machines are not typically covered by three year or longer warranty service. If they are, local shops require the client to break down their machine and carry the machine into their storefront for service/repair. Major manufacturers cover their machines with three year warranties onsite next day service and offer longer terms for an additional price.

Additionally, major manufacturers maintain a database of every machine manufactured. At any point in time a customer or a customer support representative can access the online database, enter the serial number for the machine, and access all of the latest driver downloads and a complete listing of the machine’s original configuration allowing for easy identification of upgrade components (compatible memory, etc). Local shops typically do not track this information leaving the customer to have to break the machine down and open the case to determine what memory or other components are in each machine before ordering upgrades.

Major Manufacturers typically build a consistent machine (motherboards, bios, network cards, video cards, etc), such that a customer can buy an identical machine for 6-9 months apart. This allows the customer’s I.T. support staff to maintain one image for multiple machines. Local shops tend to assemble with what they have on hand at the moment. If a customer purchases machines 6-9 months apart (or even three weeks apart), the machines will be composed of significantly different components leaving the customer’s I.T. staff to maintain a different image for every machine that comes in the door adding significantly to the storage overhead and overall burden to the support staff.

Finally, local shops cannot afford to employ a fulltime R&D staff where major manufacturer’s typically employee electrical engineers and commit R&D resources to all of their commercial workstations. The end results of such R&D work are workstations that have a longer lifecycle in the corporate office environment.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Good Event Scheduling Software

If your church, business, or organization is looking for a good event scheduling, calendar, event registration type software package, let me suggest considering EventU. While serving at Roswell UMC a few years back, we carefully examined this product and then changed from a competing product to EventU and were quite happy with the results. It is easy to use and easily integrates into your website. Take a look at their website and schedule a demo for an indepth look.