Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Windows 8 Details Leak

Microsoft seem to be moving much faster. By the time XP comes to the end of its cycle (2014) it will have been out for 13 years. While many have not upgraded to Windows 7 or even Vista, Microsoft Kitchen has a leaked Powerpoint presentation made by Microsoft for HP containing details of Windows 8.

Checkout Microsoft Kitchen for a more detailed look but just briefly Microsoft seem to be concentrating on power usage, improving boot up times and being able to reset your PC without losing your settings and files. Internet Explorer 9 is also mentioned, as is the Windows Store (an app store for Windows).

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

One Year Old!

My blog has been going for a year. To celebrate both that and the return of Futurama enjoy this picture of Planet Express in Lego (not mine unfortunately):

Monday, 28 June 2010

Upgrade those SP2 computers

If you have any Windows XP computers in your school still running Service Pack 2 then it has come to the time to upgrade.

From July 13 SP2 will stop receiving updates and support from Microsoft. If you are still not ready to install Windows 7 then make sure to upgrade to Service Pack 3, which will be supported until 2014.

It has also been announced that XP will not get Internet Explorer 9. It seems to be getting to that stage now where new Microsoft services and applications will be available for Vista and 7 only. So maybe schools should be looking to move over this summer.

Obviously a lot of schools have old hardware which could be a problem so they will have to take this into account when working out their budgets. Each individual institution will have to weigh up the pros and cons and decide what they want to be able to do in their school. At some point there will come a time when, for security reasons as much as anything, that old hardware will have to be replaced.

I came across a laptop the other day that was reported to have network issues and be taking too long to boot up. Also every time you opened a program it froze (or took too long to notice if it had or had not froze). It had 192MB of memory that we didn't have any spare to replace.

For schools getting rid of these older PCs may have a knock on effect with old printers, scanners, whiteboards, laser cutters and so on that do not have Windows 7/Vista drivers. It could be an expensive time, so get planning.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Breaking News! World Cup is popular!

For probably the first time an important England world cup game coincided with most of the country being at work and the technology existing for the live streaming of matches.

As a result of the England V Slovenia game being at 3PM our internet took a complete hammering (despite the students being off already).

It took some 'jiggery pokery' for normal web use to resume. We have 1Gbps connection put aside for supercomputing and scientific research type stuff and a 1Gbps connection for users. Normally this more than enough but looking at our net stats for the afternoon (update: can be seen here) saw it hit 970Mbps around 3PM and maxed out during the first half causing the internet to slow down for basic web browsing.

We were running at 1.2Gbps including the High Power Computing and had to change the priorities on the bandwidth. As a result some people experienced the odd buffering moment during the game.

As one guy in our office put it, "time for a 10Gbps connection?"

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

IOS 4 = Good. Now hurry up and release it for the iPad

The overall reaction to the Apple IOS 4 update has been very positive, even on the older 3G of which there is a review at my friends' blog here. Unfortunately the update doesn't appear to be set to be released for iPad's until later in the year. This is bad for us because the iPad appears to be causing us some wireless problems that won't be fixed until it is update to the latest firmware.

The problem we are having is that the iPad's are keeping their IP addresses after the DHCP lease expires. Then the DHCP server is allocating the (what it thinks are) free IP addresses to other devices that then do not get a network connection.

The problem appears to be with the iPad sleep mode. The iPad will go to sleep with an IP address and will not try to renew its lease. It will wake-up and decide to keep the address it had before, even if it has been assigned to another computer. It does this even if it stays connected to a network when it is in 'sleep'.

At present we need to de-authenticate or disassociate iPad's with access points to get other users to access the network with their devices. There is also a workaround for iPad users here but Apple has promised a fix with IOS 4.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Flash ahhh...

It seems that all the interesting releases at present are on mobiles.

The day after Apple release IOS 4 for iPhone Adobe confirm you can download Flash 10.1 on Android 2.2 (froyo) updated devices.

So when the OTA (over the air) froyo update arrives (if you haven't got it all ready) get it on and enjoy all your flashy goodness.

First day with IOS4

This is a screen from my iPhone running IOS 4 (taken by pressing home and power on/off). I have a 3GS which supports firmware version 4, as does the new iPhone 4.

First I had to update to Itunes 9.2 and restart my PC. Then downloaded and installed the new firmware. Then I started playing.

You may have noticed the background on the home-screen is different, this is the new default wallpaper which can be changed by simply going into 'settings', then 'wallpaper'.

I went into email to have a look and the iPhone now has threaded email just like Gmail. I also had a look at the spell-checker which is a nice new addition as it has recommended spellings when you highlight a word that is red.

I then decided to try to create folders. I held down the Youtube icon on the home screen until it 'jiggled' then dragged it on top of Google Maps to create a Google folder.

I was then going to try out the new iPod controls but when I went into iPod it had deleted all my podcasts (94 of them) which is a bit odd because it kept all my applications I had downloaded.

There are a few reports of applications that have problems with crashes and the makers will have to update these but so far the ones I have tried have all worked. Another problem though is applications running in the background. When you open an application it continues to run after you have exited and you need to know how to close these so they do not take up all the memory or cause crashes, freezes or excessive data usage. Double-tap the home button and a menu of things running should open up (see screenshot below)

Then hold the application you want to close until it 'jiggles' and a red '-' sign appears. Press it to close it. After a few minutes use I had 8 programs running in the background. Why you have to close applications this way is a bit of a mystery and seems a bit of a hassle. Maybe an app that does it for you will be on the way.

First impressions are quite good. Apple have added a lot of features I had on my android (multitasking, threaded email, wallpapers, folders) and it is still looking smooth. No sign of slowing down or crashes. I also tried the zoom on the camera. It is a nice touch but display goes blurry and I will probably edit the pictures I take in software.

There is a list of applications updated for IOs 4 here.

Friday, 18 June 2010

iPad's and projectors

One of the head's of ICT was having a meeting and decided to use his fancy new iPad to do his presentation. Connected it to a projector and... not working.

It turns out you need an App to get it to display to external devices. So, as not to leave everyone sat watching you try to move your presentation to another machine for half your meeting, check it works first before your presentation. Or use a laptop.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Protecting against vulnerabilities causes vulnerabilities... Or why Orange should change their passwords

After the French introduced a policy of kicking peer-to-peer users off the internet, Orange (for just 2 Euro's a month) offered to block anyone from using peer-to-peer on your network.

Great for customers who don't want their users getting up to things they shouldn't... unless Orange uses a server than can be accessed from the internet and keeps the default user-name and password 'admin'.

One user signed up to this deal ran Wireshark on his PC and noticed software communicating with IP Wireshark is a decent network fault finding tool that can be downloaded here. Putting the IP into a browser followed by /status brought up every Orange customer who used the software's IP address. But there's more... using the logon and password of 'admin' users have discovered it is possible to send malware to the computers that Orange's software is supposed to be protecting.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Can anyone be an IT technician?

When I started a job as a Systems Administrator I was told I would be on £4K less than the guy I replaced as I would need support from the City Learning Centre (CLC) while I was learning.

Well they didn't give us much help but when we did have a problem I decided, as I was paying for the support out of my salary, to ask for some. So I asked their technicians and do you know what their answer was?

"Google it"

Well obviously I had managed that and couldn't find the solution. So I took it a step further and my manger informed the CLC manager of the problems we were having. His answer:

"Don't you use Google?"

So, this is the answer from people on £30K, £40K, £50K a year when you ask for support that the school is supposedly paying for.

So my question is, in the age of Google, can anyone be an IT technician? If so, does this mean all the skill has gone out of the job? If all that happens when you come across a problem is 'Google it' surely anyone who can use a search engine can do this.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

iPhone caught up with android? Almost

Apple have posted the keynote speech where Steve Jobs talks about all the 'amazing' new features in iPhone 4 (that have been in android for years).

The iPhone now has multitasking, like my G1 from 2008.

The iPhone now has threaded email, like my G1 from 2008.

Folders, check.

Video sharing, check.

Tap to focus, check.

Tethering, check.

Video calling, check. But where Apple will only do iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 for video calls and only on Wifi , on android you can call any phone to any phone, any platform to any platform on Wifi, 3G or even 4G if you have an Evo.

Also the iPhone 4 will use a MicroSIM so you have to buy a new SIM card.

So it is fair to say I am not impressed with the 'new' features everyone was waiting for.

Additionally - After numerous requests from users we have an iPad for arrived for testing. Hopefully this won't be something else we have to support.

Oops... Please turn off your Wifi

Did anyone see Steve Jobs keynote speech from the Worldwide Developer Conference? At one point the demo would not work because there were 1,100 devices connected to the Wifi in the hall. Steve Jobs had to ask them to turn it off. It is not just us that has a problem with too many devices trying to use Wifi then:

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Today's delivery

Lots and lots of Cisco 3750 switches. Got all these to unpack and set up.

Blogger mobile version?

Isn't it about time there was a cut-down version of blogger for viewing on mobiles? Even the free version of Wordpress now displays a mobile-friendly version when visiting from a phone (although you may need to change a setting in your phones browser).

I am quite surprised, with a company like Google behind it, you still have to use a company like MoFuse to make a blogger blog mobile friendly. Especially as Google have done so much work on android and mobile applications lately.

Despite this there seems to be a few people viewing my blog from mobiles this month. This data came from Google Analytics and displays the browser and OS of visitors so far this month:

As well as the recent increase in mobile phone visitors I notice Google Chrome is really moving up in usage, at least by visitors to my blog. I have started using it at work and do find it at least appears quicker and I get things done faster.

Why are iPhone accessories so expensive?

We have had our latest price list from our mobile supplier. What struck me was how expensive the accessories are for the iPhone compared to other high-end and executive phones. From my experience the iPhone headphones are pretty poor. I find my G1 headphones are better at reducing noise, more comfortable (although that might be my ears) and do a better job of not annoying other people by 'leaking' (is that the right word?) what you are listening to so everyone sitting near you also gets to hear it.