A Fix for a Fix

SQL Server 2005 got a bunch of new features and fixes two weeks ago with the release of Service Pack 2. Now, there's a fix for the fix. Apparently, there was a problem with integration services and some cleanup tasks.

Get the skinny here.

Best Buy Not the Best Buy
In Connecticut, some clever Best Buy sales folk allegedly cooked up a scheme to rip off consumers lured in by low prices. When you want that $499 Vista laptop you saw on bestbuy.com, the salespeople would pull up an internal Web site (which looks just like the public site) with a higher price.

One consumer was overcharged $150 for his computer.

Dell Ponders Desktop Linux
Dell, currently getting its hat handed to it by HP, is contemplating Linux as an option for desktop and laptop computers. This is great news for Linux lovers, and could be a market-changing event. But for Linux to make desktop headways, I need to see real ease of use and some serious low-ball pricing!

Microsoft Research's Annual Brag-Fest
Critics have long charged that Microsoft gets little for the billions it spends on research. I've covered this area and am convinced that Microsoft is right in not looking at it in terms of pure dollars and cents. Microsoft researchers aim instead to push the frontiers.

At this year's TechFest, researchers showed off a way to make custom sticky notes, a way to convert a handwritten sticky note into voice mail, a new approach to WiFi advertising and a video game that introduces kids to the fundamentals of programming.

In homage to Jim Gray, a brilliant researcher who is still missing after an apparent sailing mishap, TechFest featured a way for PC users to tap into massive high-powered telescopes. This work was one of Gray's many achievements! Learn more about Jim here.

Doug's Mailbag: More DST Patching Woes, Microsoft Blogs Back, More
Yesterday's deluge of letters regarding a BlackBerry problem caused by the Exchange DST patch prompted a few more responses from some frustrated readers:

I can't help myself. After reading the litany of others people's problems and complaints with RIM, Exchange and DST, I thought I'd pile on.

The short timeframe to patch provided by Microsoft, RIM and others has created problems for a lot of people. Why couldn't these patches and updates have been available before mid-February? Everyone knew this was coming over a year ago. Making matters worse is the fact that RIM's patches don't work consistently and the documentation has been terribly flawed. I have found that I can push the DST patches to some (15 out of 67) BlackBerrys but not others. For some reason, it seems phones on the Verizon network are having the most problems. Also, did you notice that in less than a week's time, RIM's BlackBerry patch evolved from version 1.5 to 2.3? If they had it right the first time, that would not have happened.

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you I spent a combined 10 hours on hold this Tuesday trying to get someone to help. After three hours straight on hold, I was dumped and hung up on. After a deep breath I tried to call back in, but their phone system was so overloaded, I couldn't even get to the voice menu to get into the hold queue. Six calls later, I felt as if I had accomplished something by being able to get as far as sitting on hold. After I did get a person (three more hours) they were useless. RIM support still cannot explain why I'm having problems despite three separate people checking the exact same configurations. My hunch is that their patches were rushed and are still flawed, hence my problems. Their solution was that I manually update the phone using the USB cable method -- not an option in my world with a highly mobile and unsophisticated user base. I doubt half my salespeople can even spell USB. Five days to go, and I'm still not sure what I'm going to do about things with regard to my unpatched BlackBerrys.

As I read the comments and responses on the BlackBerry issue, I realized something: If MS keeps on spitting out these fiascos, we will see a mass migration to Google Apps and Gmail.

I know that the DST issue is not Microsoft's fault, and that everything was working fine until Congress changed the law. But business managers do not want to be bothered with these details; they just want everything to work and be easy to manage, use, etc. So they think "Move everyone to Gmail and no more upgrades or patches -- no more worries."

Some of your readers' comments about Rann not doing his due diligence and so on seemed a lot like flames. Sometimes, especially in small businesses, administrators simply do not have the time to read pages and pages of docs on one patch. There are too many other things going on to pull you away from that level of detail. And remember, this was for a patch on Exchange. What about Windows (desktops and servers), SharePoint, Dynamics and any other app that depends on time stamps? Everybody says to 'test' patches before deploying them, but how many businesses have those kinds of resources and time to do so? And that testing is to make sure that some in-house code or other funky stuff does not break. You would hope and expect that most major packages won’t break. Including BlackBerry.

I just went to the Microsoft DST page and guess what -- it changed again! Like Susan Bradley said in an e-mail from "Windows Secrets": "I've applied the first version of the tools and patches, and I'm not going back and reapplying them now." It seems like this is still a moving target, even though Congress changed the law in 2005.

I am responding to your article regarding the DST patching. We began the OS patching of the Windows OS in January as soon as the DST patch was released. We rolled out the workstation patch three weeks ago and followed that with the Exchange update and then ran the Exchange rebasing tool on two separate servers that had to be configured especially for the purpose of rebasing because the tool is single threaded and has specific requirements on what can be run with it. I had applied the 907434 patch back in the summer and dealt with the odd permissions as some of our PDAs would not work at that time. I have had to deal with it all over again as it is reapplied through this latest fix.

There is a workaround for those users in the protected groups which consists of granting the special mobile (in my case, Good Mobile Messaging) admin account 'send on behalf' rights to the protected group users account. This allows those of us who are members of protected groups to continue to use our PDA devices (especially for on-call situations) without having to have a separate account. I understand the best practice of not using an admin account for day-to-day work, but when you are in an enterprise environment with extreme growth, you cannot be productive and get your job done if you have to bounce back and forth between accounts. I find it frustrating that there is not a best practice workaround for this particular situation. But that is a whole other bag o' worms.

Luckily, we no longer had BlackBerrys in our environment, as I have heard that they are having a larger problem overall.

Back to the DST patching, though. I am still running into problems with meetings showing incorrectly or being different between calendars (PDAs, Outlook, OWA, Citrix) even though all items have been updated and the rebasing tool run.

It has been a very frustrating experience overall. I was aware of the updates that were going to be needed back in November and wished that Microsoft had released their updates before the holidays in December. Also, it seems that there were a lot of problems in both the documentation and in the release of the rebasing tools (they released a newer version a couple of weeks after the first) which suggested some casualness toward the issue.

So for one hour of change three weeks early, it has cost an incredible amount of time and resources to get things updated. I have done the best that I can but the entire experience has been exhausting. Luckily, with the DST change, I will have one more hour of daylight I won't be able to see as I troubleshoot some of these issues next week.

Yesterday, I wrote about Microsoft's blog response to a VMware white paper, and said that the comments under the blog sounded like they were written by Microsoft employees. One reader thinks I missed the mark:

You made it sound like a bunch of people were clogging up the comments, trying to make the reaction sound positive and maybe even trying to hide who they were -- when in reality, what you have is a bunch of MS bloggers posting links to Mike Neil's post. If you mouse over the "by" links, you'll find every single one of the 10 current "comments" is actually just someone blogging about this blog post. By their very nature, blog links like that have to be positive, since the only reason these guys post in their blogs about it is to send people off to read it!

Anyway, while it sure looks like someone up high gave the order for everyone to link to that post, I bet that if they hadn't done that, you would never have even heard of his blog post. Showing trackbacks is pretty common, but maybe you should have noticed they were all trackbacks and commented on the apparently organized push to promote that blog post, rather than misrepresenting people promoting his blog post on their own sites as "fawning comments."

Too bad the VMware guys don't blog; maybe their blogs would show up in the trackbacks, too.

So, do you think Google is overstepping copyright boundaries? Microsoft thinks so, and I agree. Here's what a few of you think:

You're not wrong -- but that doesn't make Redmond right! Despite Web 2.0 providing many new avenues for amateur authors, the plain and simple fact is that most blogging is self-interested opinion at best, and at worst uneducated drivel.

Or, put another way, very little content which appears c/- www is independent, original, accurate, or well-researched.

Long live the professional writer because the rest of us depend on their profession and their professionalism. Mind you, I hope you don't intend to claim that your own view, as correct as it might be, is not motivated by self-interest.

Doug, I'm not claiming to be an expert on the matter, but there was an item on the radio recently about the project of one of the large libraries (I believe that it was the Library of Congress) to scan everything that they have and make it available online. One of the aspects that they mentioned was that having seen an item online would prompt people to then see an actual copy so that they could go through it at their leisure when not connected. I'm not sure how self-serving or otherwise this was meant to be, but at least that was their perspective.

Speaking of Google, the numbers are in, and Google searches account for roughly half of all searches, while MSN accounts for just a tenth. One reader offers this explanation:

One good reason that more IT folks are setting Google as their home page is that Google's search page default does not take three minutes to load. It is a simple logo, search box, a couple of links and "go" button. If you have MSN as your home page, there are tons of news, pictures, weather, stock, blah, blah that has to download and finish before your page is ready, and that is too much. Search.live.com does better now. But now they have to play catch-up.

Got something you want to sound off on? Comment below or drop me a line at [email protected].

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.


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