Friday, April 22, 2005

Windows Smartphones are they really smart

Well firstly what do I mean by a Windows Smartphone. Basically we are talking about a Windows CE like operating system running on a device which attempts to be as easy to use as a standard mobile phone.

For the last 5 months I have been using a Imate Sp3i Windows Mobile 2003 2nd Edition smartphone. The goal was to see if I could give up my Nokia business phone and IPAQ in favour of a single all in one device.

Is this device similar to the O2 Xda well yes and no. The functionality is very similar however the form factor is much smaller and there is no touch screen.

Does it work, well yes in my opinion, firstly every 5 minutes my outlook email and just as importantly my calendar and task information is wirelessly being synced from my SBS Exchange Server using GPRS.

Is it expensive ? Well the average cost appears to be around €15 per month which is nearly half the cost of running the Blackberry and unlike the personal Blackberry the smartphone is not just giving me pop3 email.

Do I need to install any software on the SBS server, well unlike the Blackberry you don't need to install any software on your Exchange server as Exchange activesync is built in.

What about typing large emails ?
Well if you need to type large messages or even if you use MSN Messenger on the run you can purchase a very affordable Bluetooth keyboard which makes typing easy.

Any downsides ?
Currently in Ireland there is no Windows Smartphones available on contract so it means at least in Ireland purchasing the phone without a contract.

Battery life is ok but nothing special at about 1 to 2 days depending on use.

Can't switch off the phone and have the phone turn on automatically with an alarm.

Other then the above the phone and it's ability to provide you with almost instant access to your emails when combined with Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 provides a very compelling mobile solution.

Comments always appreciated.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

What If you need Remote Access without RWW

Finally made time to put up another post. Anyway you might already be aware that we can use Remote Web Workplace to among other things remote control a client computer in an SBS network.

But what if port 4125 is blocked. If you try to remotely connect to your server or one of your SBS Network's desktops the location you are connecting from must allow port 4125 traffic as this is used to proxy a connection to Remote desktop.

Basically if you need to connect to your desktop from a site where you cannot open port 4125 you cannot use Remote Web Workplace to complete the remote desktop connection.

A very useful tool that a colleague showed me will allow you to connect to a remote computer over port 80 / port 443. Take a look at this free service will allow you to setup up an account, from which you can download a control to any pc you wish to control.

This applet will run on the remote pc and will allow you to connect to any of your remote pc's by using a secure web site.

Cost for this service is free, well worth a look, also I would also reccomend disabling the applet on the remote pc when you will not need to connect.

Check back soon Regards Mark

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 don't do it

If your running SBS 2003 don't install Windows 2003 Service pack 1. Yes it will integrate ok with the underlying Windows 2003 os in SBS however it will break a lot of SBS functionality.

Watch out Windows Update will push this down as a update if you are automatically updating.

Another good reason not to have your server set to automatically update but instead to
"Automatically download updates for me but let me choose when to install them".

Take a look at the known Issues with Microsoft Service Pack 1

Thanks to Susan Bradley for her detailed and timely posting on this one.

Susan's blog is a great source of info

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Something to add to your toolkit

Like a lot people out there I am starting to use external USB hard drives for things like backing up my own SBS Server and also on client sites to allow me to transfer or move data.

Most of you are probably aware that you can buy a kit that allows you to take a standard 3.5" ATA ide drive and convert it into an external USB 2.O hard drive.

For example this link shows a typical kit that comes complete with a power supply and a box that you place an ordinary internal IDE drive into

Now that's pretty good because it allows you or me to choose the drive and capacity we need and most of these kits are less than 60 Euros / Dollars

However what I think is even neater at least for your toolkit is a simple IDE to USB 2.0 adaptor with a power supply so you can basically hook up any IDE device externally using USB temporarily.

What could it be used for, well I have a customer who clones / ghosts his pc's over the network when he has a hard disk failure, wouldn't it be much easier to have a cheap 100 GB drive with 7 or 8 build images on it and hook it up via USB 2.0 whenever he needs to rebuild a production pc instead of relying on a slow network connection.

Comments anyone ?