I can’t wait for the iPhone to come to Verizon, so you’ll all shut up about it

January 9th, 2011 at 10:49 AM  4 Comments

The boys who cried wolf (AKA The Wall Street Journal, et al) are all indicating that Tuesday will be the announcement of the long awaited iPhone 4 on Verizon. I hope they’re finally right.

Not because I’m going to switch, no, I’m actually pretty satisfied with my AT&T service, having been a customer for a long while before the launch of the first iPhone. I’ll just be glad when the noise makers and complainers can have another option. I hope that Verizon’s network works better for them than AT&T (although I kinda also hope it’s just as bad) so that they’ll shut up. I also look forward to another network getting some of the load so that my service will be even more reliable than it already is.

I can’t be alone in this thinking, if AT&T’s network is so god damn horrible across the entire country as the people in San Fransisco and New York make it out to be, no one would use it. Fact is, myself and millions of other subscribers made the choice to use it long before the iPhone. I even used to live down the street from the world headquarters of Sprint, and still used AT&T because I got better service.

I’m not discounting that there are people with horrible AT&T service. I’ve been places where that is the case, I know people who have this problem on a regular basis. It sucks, but chances are no has one forced you to use an iPhone this whole time.

I’ll also be glad when this golden phone finally does arrive, so we can stop obsessing about it. The phone will come out, AT&T’s subscriber numbers will slightly decrease, Verizon will see an increase, Apple’s profits will go up. The sun will still rise in the east and set in the west. Choice is good, but the tech world needs to stop treating this like we’re awaiting the second coming of Christ, and treat this like what it is, like what happens all around the world with the iPhone on multiple carriers. The same phone, on another network.

(Image credit to Gizmodo, from back in 2005, proof people hated them before the iPhone)

Dell OEM Day – Part 1 [The Beginning]

January 7th, 2011 at 4:39 PM  4 Comments

Dell Offices

This is part one of a multi-part article covering Dell OEM Day, an event for bloggers that Dell hosted on December 14th, 2010.

When you think Dell, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For most people it’s desktops or laptops, and rightly so — it’s their core business model, after all.

What if I were to tell you that, inside Dell, there is a group of highly intelligent business people, engineers, researchers, and [name of group that builds computers] that work on systems that you and I take for granted every day? They exist, and they’re the Dell OEM Group.

A month ago I wasn’t even aware this group existed. When I was finally introduced to the fact that Dell has an OEM group, I pictured a department that built and shipped custom servers that fell outside of the normal system that you can assemble on Dell’s website. Well I was party right, but what I learned while visiting Dell gave me a whole new perspective on the company.

First, a little history: Around 1999, Dell was approached by a company asking for a server that would connect a proprietary network to a point of sale system. They didn’t want to pick out all the parts for the server like you would do in a normal Dell build, they just wanted something that worked. Obviously this request fell outside of their normal build orders, as it would have to be a completely custom system tailored to their request and the requirements needed in order to connect the two systems the box was to be designed for. The job was done, and was likely the seed that would go on to spawn the “Industry Solutions” group, which Dell renamed to “Dell OEM” only a few short years ago.

From that first job back in 1999 spawned a department that now pulls in over a billion dollars yearly with a fairly small client base of around 1,500 customers — quite an impressive number for a group that isn’t known to the mass populace.

The motto at Dell OEM is “We’ll do anything you pay us to do.”, and they mean it quite literally with a strong passion behind their words. The proof, of course, is in the world around you. Did you visit Redbox today or does your house get its power from a nuclear reactor? There’s a pretty good chance Dell OEM was a part of that.

In the next article, I’ll be covering more on Dell OEM’s clients and how they create a truly custom experience for their clients and end users alike.

Using LastPass and YubiKey to secure your online life

December 29th, 2010 at 9:43 PM  7 Comments

If the recent Gawker password breach (re)taught us anything, it’s the old and valued lesson of “don’t use the same password everywhere” — but as often as I repeat that phrase and cringe a little bit when I find out someone else did it, I’ve been just as guilty of this cardinal sin of network security myself… from time to time. It’s hard not to.

When you’re as active on the Internet as I am, it’s impossible to resist the urge to duplicate passwords, especially if you’re against writing them down. So you’re left to memorize them all, hope you don’t forget, and hope that you can later rely on the splendid password reset via email later on.

All of the Gawker fun also taught (or should have taught) website administrators like myself to take better care of their users. Gawker fouled up in a huge way (beyond simply exposing user data) by not taking proper steps to secure the information in their database once it was exposed. Gawker used an easily crackable cipher system (DES) which was depreciated by a new industry standard (AES) long ago.


Win a free customized phone cover if you ‘Like’ us on Facebook

December 9th, 2010 at 12:55 PM  2 Comments

The folks at Coveroo have been kind enough to allow TechVirtuoso to give away three of their custom device covers to our fans! This is an awesome service that Coveroo provides, one we’ve reviewed in the past, and I use one of their custom laser engraved covers on my iPhone all the time.

This is the simplest contest we’ve probably ever run. In order to promote our Facebook fan page, we’re going to give away the covers to three randomly selected fans. Nothing you have to do except “Like” us on Facebook. We’ll be announcing the winners of the give away, exclusively on our Facebook page, these days:

  • Friday, December 10, 2010
  • Monday, December 13, 2010
  • Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Look for a posting around noon (central time) each day. As we expect more people to become our fans through the course of this contest, your chances of winning early are better than later.

You can easily become our fan by visiting or just by clicking on the “Like” button on the Facebook widget in the site sidebar.

If you just can’t wait for the chance to win a custom cover of your own, you can also order one from Coveroo using our special 15% code, XMAS15, good from now until Christmas Day. They ship fast and make great personalized holiday gifts.

While you’re at it, be sure to follow as thanks for offering this great discount and free contest to our visitors! They give away a free cover ever Wednesday!

Get the most out of Evernote

December 8th, 2010 at 2:09 PM  7 Comments

I’m a huge fan of Evernote. It ranks right up there with Gmail in terms of applications I live my life in. When people sit down with it for a while and begin to use it, or have someone explain all the interesting ways it can enhance their productivity, it doesn’t surprise me that they become as hooked to it as I am.

I first became exposed to it when I got an iPhone 3G in 2008. It had existed as a platform a couple years before that and was popular with the Windows Mobile & Tablet PC crowd, but wasn’t really on my radar. At the time, I dismissed it as nothing more than a note taking app for the iPhone. The only reason I started using it was because I wanted something that would sync the notes on my iPhone to another system, since iTunes didn’t do it at the time. Not really something I’d adjust my workflow around.

Sure I’d used it off and on, but it hasn’t been until the last few months that I’ve come to realize all the ways it can be used. It’s more than just a simple mobile app, it exists on nearly every platform and helps sync your documents, notes, images and throughts between computers and between mobile devices. Their cloud keeps all your clients linked together and helps put the data and knowledge you keep in their service ready for use at any time.

I’ve decided to share some of the exciting ways I use (or have seen it used) to make myself more organized, more productive and less scatter brained.

Evernote has begun to replace my normal Windows file system for keeping track of data. Now obviously, when I say everything I don’t mean put your iTunes library in Evernote, or your Adobe Lightroom catalog. No, I’m talking about all your text files, PDFs and screenshots. The stuff that the normal system administrator has scattered all around their hard drives, but would greatly benefit from a centralize repository.


Becoming (or staying) an organized sysadmin (contest with free stuff)

November 18th, 2010 at 11:31 AM  4 Comments

Most system administrators can tell you about the importance of being organized but few can pull it off very well. We’re always being pulled in different directions, by different people. There are always those fires that need to be put out ASAP, sometimes at the least opportune times. So it’s hard to always make the most efficient use of your time and keep things organized.

We’d like to see what are some of the ways our visitors try and stay organized. What are the tools and methods you use to keep track of projects, your personal calendar, tasks, your files, your notes, etc. We welcome our visitors to post a comment in this thread and let us know what are the ways you keep yourself on track. We’ll gather up the best ones and share them in another post, and for a couple of the best ones we have something special to give away to you. (It’s a secret)

To get you started I’ll give you an example of my personal tools:

There is one program I use on every system and mobile device that helps me keep track of things. The main one is Evernote. It’s a great piece of software that runs on all my Windows boxes, as well as my iPhone and Blackberry. It can keep track of screenshots and sync them into the cloud and to all my other devices. I also have the Chrome plugin installed so when I find something I need to remember (for instance, steps to fix a problem) I can highlight it and with a couple clicks instantly import it into Evernote. Since there are clients on both my iPhone and Blackberry when I’m on the go and need to make a note of something I can write it down or snap a picture and sync it up into the system for later use. Evernote also gives you an email address that you can add to your contacts to forward important emails into the system with. I have that setup with both my personal email and business email, so important emails get dumped into Evernote for quick retrieval. Evernote helps keep my thoughts, findings and important documentation easily accessible.

There you go, it’s that easy. So lets hear how you keep yourself organized!

TechFieldDay San Jose 2010, we will be there!

October 26th, 2010 at 9:31 PM  No Comments

I am honored to be chosen for one of the Delegates for TechFieldDay, San Jose 2010 presented by GestaltIT.  If you have not heard of these events it is very similar to the HP Tech Day’s that are put on throughout the year and that we have been involved with.

The TechFieldDay coordinators get a group of sponsors together (Past sponsors have been companies like F5, Data Robotics, Cisco, HP… the list goes on and on) that pay for bloggers to come out to a city for 2 non stop days of “engagement, education, hands-on experience, and feedback”.


Review: Coveroo custom cover service impresses

October 26th, 2010 at 10:00 AM  2 Comments

I go back and forth when it comes to phone cases. On one hand, I want to protect my investment from damage but on the other hand, sometimes they break the aesthetics of a device like the iPhone. With my iPhone 3G, over the course of two years it had two different cases that I used, each for about six months. However with the iPhone 4, due to the much advertised death grip, a “bumper” or full third party case seems to be as much a necessity as a fire extinguisher in a Ford Pinto.

Because of this need, there is an endless possibility of options for cases. But one company aims to give you a case that’s a little more personalized. Coveroo.


Lenovo A70z ThinkCentre Review

July 1st, 2010 at 7:14 PM  3 Comments

When I think business class laptops, I think Lenovo Thinkpad followed by HP’s Elitebook. When I think business class desktop’s I think of HP followed by Dell. Lenovo is looking to change that.

The Lenovo ThinkCentre A70z touts it’s ease to upgrade as well as a low price point. The A70z ThinkCentre design is just what I have come to expect from Lenovo. Sturdy, simple and well designed even when it comes down to the packaging.


Two great tools for the low/no budget sysadmin

April 7th, 2010 at 11:30 AM  4 Comments

We all know how in our struggling economy, finding effective tools that help us do our jobs, and not breaking our shrinking budgets, is getting harder and harder. A fellow in Ireland by the name of Dan Cunningham (his website is here, follow him on Twitter here), who just happened to post in post in the comments of our previous articles, has written two very excellent looking tools for the low/no budget systems administrator. Both of these will be going straight into production in my office ASAP.

Dan also has some useful tools for encoding video content on his blog, both of which are worth taking a look at.

Workstation Migration Assistant

wma_mainThe Workstation Migration Assistant is a visual wrapper for Microsoft’s User State Migration Tool, designed to simplify the capture / restore process for your end-users, and at the same time being highly configurable so that it can be customised to suit your organisations needs.

Some of it’s features include:

  • Migrate via a pre-defined network storage location, external USB drive, or user-specified location. USB drive detection is automatic, and you can decide whether drives below a certain size are ignored (ie, memory sticks)
  • Optional Hard Disk Health Check will run a CHKDSK prior to capture and fix errors if any are found
  • Optional Encryption using a pre-defined company encryption key, or per-user customised encryption (for highly sensitive data that can’t be stored on a server without being encrypted)
  • Use different configurations for “XP Only” (XP > XP) migrations via Standard (XP > Vista and Vista > Vista)
  • Automatically run pre and post-capture / restore scripts and programs (very useful to further configure machine settings)
  • Migrate domain only accounts, or domain and local
  • Automatically exclude certain domain or local accounts from the migration
  • Automatically send log files to an e-mail address via SMTP after the migration
  • On-screen status during every stage of the migration, including ETA
  • Option to limit migrations to a certain size, i.e. if over 20GB of data to backup, then fail and inform user. This is also overridable
  • Automatic checks for USMT installation and optional download
  • Command-line automation

It requires .NET Framework 2.0 on both the capture and target machines | Download

Software Compliance Tool

The Software Compliance Tool is a small application designed to reduce the overhead in managing unwanted applications in a business environment. While Windows Vista and Windows 7 have made a lot of headway in easing reduced user rights into the Enterprise, it’s still very common that Local Administrator rights are given to end users. The reasoning for this is usually to work around application compatibility (both external and in-house). However, this introduces the ability for end users to install whatever they want on their computers, including games, peer-to-peer software and security vulnerable applications. It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that copyrights are not infringed, and that their network is secure.

The Software Compliance Tool will try to automatically remove any applications which are contained on your custom-built “blacklisted applications” policy.

Some of the features include:

  • Can automatically remove most Windows Installer (MSI) based installations
  • Uninstall Strings for non MSI-based installs can be supplemented with switches (ie, “/S” for silent)
  • Blacklist allows partial name matches (ie, “Mozilla” will blacklist all Mozilla applications)
  • Blacklist allows version matches (ie, allow all versions greater than v1.6.5, remove all previous versions)
  • Blacklist, but allow exclusions based on Active Directory Users or Groups
  • Blacklist policy is encrypted to prevent tampering or reading by users
  • AD Exclusions list is cached and encrypted, to allow running SCT off-domain
  • Simple SQL logging to allow tracking of policy breaches (and potentially further action for repeated breaches)
  • Extremely fast execution. Can be run from your Active Director login scripts

It requires .NET 3.5 to run, and must be run as a local administrator to successfully uninstall applications. | Download

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »