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Be careful where you buy a computer!

I thought I had seen everything, and then I came across a computer sold (to one of my clients) from the company IT Waterloo (itwaterloo.ca).

Here’s the problem – they sell you a computer with what they call “OS License Only”. This computer is shipped to you with a blank hard disk, no CD-ROM of Windows to install with and simply a sticker on the outside case of the system to install with. You are not given the option to have the CD shipped to you – nor are you given details on the history of the computer or that copy of Windows. In fact, one of the questions Microsoft asks when you try to re-activate Windows (by phone) relates to the history of the computer.

The Case for a Free Outlook 2010

Microsoft Outlook 2007 LogoNow, now – don’t go throwing your hands in the air all at once. I’m not going crazy over one of Microsoft’s flagship products. I don’t hate Microsoft. I actually like them, I have been working with the products for more than ten years now and have built a company around support most of the products they offer. I wouldn’t call myself an evangelist – but it is clear that the continued success of Microsoft is going to be tied to my own company’s success. Microsoft seems to be at a real crossroads with their flagship product: Office. The recent fighting, twitter movement, and protests over the support of HTML in Outlook 2010 had me thinking what Microsoft would need to do to set themselves apart and really do something special. Microsoft needs to offer Outlook 2010 (Without Word HTML rendering) for free when they release the 2010 version of their Office product.

Free Network Diag: The ICSI Netalyzr (help us, help you)

ICSI-Netalyzer-LogoOne of the more challenging aspects of working with network connections is the ability to test the health and usability of connections. Today, connections are available in all sorts of ways and locations. Often with this sort of ubiquity, we’re not able to tell if this Internet connection is going to be reliable. The ICSI Netalyzr is one such utility that can help in gathering more details.

Getting ready for Windows 7 – from IT Department’s perspective

Windows 7 logoYou may have heard of the next version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system called “Windows 7”. This new version is Microsoft’s follow-up to the rather underwhelming Windows Vista. Windows 7 has been in development for some time now, and the release is shortly upon us – it has just been announced that Windows 7 will be released on Oct. 22, 2009.

Link: Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Timelines

You are likely to see a lot of information about this in the media over the coming months, but I thought I might try and cut through the noise and give you a rundown of what you’ll expect and what you’ll need to prepare for as with this new operating system.

An Open Letter to Bell Canada

Bell Canada LogoDear Bell Canada,

I have to say Bell, you and I need to talk. We have really had this bittersweet relationship for a number of years and, for the most part I have been silent. I have waited while you find a suitable customer representative, I have been patient when, after tying in my phone number, that very rep asks me for the same number again. As one of your customers, my tolerance for you has reached a breaking point.

How To: Securely Erasing USB Connected Hard Disks

The conventional methods of destroying data on a disk all relate to connecting the drive physically to a computer and using some sort of bootable media with an application on it to destroy data on the connected hard disk in a secure manner. This is the conventional way. I wanted a method that would be faster and more versatile than this, so I attempted to look for a free way to destroy data securely on an externally connected USB disk in Windows.

Ever heard of Holding Actions?

George W. Bush Holding A Baby

Recently, I was introduced to a phrase – I’m guessing many of you had never heard of this before either: “Holding Actions”. Definition-wise, this is known as a attack in war where you hold (or deceive) your enemy into a position that doesn’t help them. In the context I was introduced to this, “Holding Actions” are those that are being inflicted on the consumer forcing them to submit to control. This is how we are being (often blindly) screwed by companies – but their tactics remain legal.

Blackberry Unite! 1.0.0 Install/Test

I had been hearing (for some time) about this new offering from Blackberry and subsequently Bell called Blackberry Unite. It is essentially a scaled back version of the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) targeted at home users. Unite! supports up to 5 blackberry devices and has a host of features. Since I have two working Blackberries, this solution seemed like a fit. It should allow for the sharing of contacts, calendar entries, and phone tracking and restrictions. Among them, most important was the Contact Sharing facility – something that Google’s Apps don’t provide for – yet.

First Impressions: Blackberry 8330 CDMA

Device: Blackberry 8330 “Curve”
Previous Device: Blackberry 8703
Provider: Bell
Base Price: $549.00

I’ve had this smart phone now for a day and so far I’m pleased with the new features and annoyed with some others.

Welcome to this new device are features like a camera, a gps device and the inclusion of media players as well as memory expandability. Some features not so welcome are the new keyboard layout, removal of the spinning wheel and addition of the track ball. Along the way, some unexpected surprises.