Vol. 23, #2 - January 15, 2018 - Issue #1164
Free Tool for Monitoring Exchange Server Status & Performance
Ru-mi-nate (verb) - To "chew the cud" as in to think deeply about something.
WServerNews now has over 400,000 subscribers worldwide! That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some issue or need advice on something IT-related? Got a question you'd like us to toss out to our readers to try and answer? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
And now on to some privacy news items that may be of interest to those who manage IT within an organization…
We received some feedback to our Issue #1162 Christmas 2017 nostalgia issue in response to our questions asking whether there were any older technologies you sometimes get nostalgic about or whether you still use any older technologies that your younger IT colleagues find unusual or bizarre. First up is this email we received from Alan, a Windows IT Specialist in the Edinburgh area of Scotland:
Hi! I'm enjoying your articles :-)
My first job as an IT professional was to visit a customer site, take the wood-grained metal cover off an Altos hard disk drive and put the drive belt from the mains motor back onto the pulley on the platter spindle. What a satisfying noise it made as it came up to speed! I can't remember the drive capacity. Would it have been 5 Mb? Less?
Later I had a wonderful book with all the drive geometry settings for different models of hard
disk before IDE. So useful when the cmos battery had failed ;-)
Martin, Head Of Desktop, Shop & International IT for a company in Hamburg, Germany offered up
the following list of some devices and technologies he feels nostalgic about:
8" floppy drives with hard sectors
GEM on PCs
Another reader named Bob offered this comment:
I miss the nice binders that IBM (and others) had the software manuals in and then the
"coolness" of the Turbo Pascal paperback manual.
That reminds me, I miss all those nice-looking and fairly durable Microsoft-branded 3-ring
binders that came with the Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) courses that I used to teach as a
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) way back in the late 90s. The binders were terrific; the courses in them, meh.
And now on to the main topic of this week's newsletter…
China always seems to be in the news recently, and usually in a bad way when it comes to technology. This morning I read a news item on BetaNews that reported that many Western Digital MyCloud NAS drives have a hardcoded backdoor account having the username "mydlinkBRionyg" and the password "abc12345cba":
Wonderful, I thought: another China-made device that has a hardcoded backdoor in it. Well, to be accurate it was probably manufactured in Singapore or Thailand, but it could have been manufactured in Beijing, Shanghai, or Shenzhen. Anyways, it's just one more example among many news reports of backdoors that have been discovered in tech devices ranging from phones to routers to IoT devices that were made in China in recent years:
Even more worrisome are numerous reports of privacy issues found in various hardware and software products made in China:
What really brought this issue home to me was one of the books I managed to read during our holiday break:
What's wrong with China by Paul Midler is a fascinating first-hand account and expose of the frustrations Western businesses experience when they work with manufacturers in China. The book is rife with accounts of manipulation, deceit, and fraud by factory bosses and could be used as a textbook for educating future psychopaths as part of an MBA degree program (kidding). I highly recommend this book even if you just want to experience an "oh, wow" moment over what our world is like behind the curtain. You can order it on Amazon here:
Then as if that wasn't enough I picked up the latest issue of Wired magazine at our local bookstore yesterday and found an astonishing article that describes how China is taking the idea of a credit score to the extreme by using big data to track and rank almost everything you do including your purchases, your pastimes, and even your mistakes. The article focuses mostly on AliPay, Microsoft's leading third-party online payment solution which overtook PayPal in 2013 and is now the world's largest mobile payment platform. The article describes how in just the last couple of years living in China has become like a huge videogame where every decision you make is geared towards using your smartphone to increase your credit score so you can take advantage of more opportunities and better services. I *highly* recommend this article for reading, especially for those of you who think young people in your own country have become addicted to smartphones--you won't believe how worse (or better?) this is in China:
While the article makes it sound like China has become some kind smartphone utopia, there obviously is a darker side lurking underneath--and I don't just mean government control. While ApiPay and its rival WeChat account for trillions of dollars of payments processed each year in China, the AliPay platform itself is operated by Ant Financial Services Group, which is an affiliate company of the Chinese Alibaba Group Holding Limited, which was founded by Jack Ma who is the current Executive Chairman of the company. So it's kind of ironic (to say the least) that last year the personal data of Jack Ma was leaked on Twitter:
Security and privacy issues have also been arising recently with AliPay as the following articles report:
So maybe utopia isn't all its cracked up to be--even in China.
And besides, why would I want to use a smartphone anyways? They only make me stupid, antisocial, and unhealthy:
Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at email@example.com
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This week we dig into our mailbag to catch up with some factoid responses from the last few weeks as Your Editors had to prepare some issues of WServerNews in advance before the holiday break. Here goes…
The factoid and question from the December 4th issue was this:
Residents of Hong Kong's Causeway Bay shopping district have expressed concern about light pollution from a new LED screen the size of five tennis courts that recently started operating in their neighborhood. How do you feel about big bright LED billboards when you're driving at night? Should there be laws controlling the placement and brightness of such billboards?
A couple of readers responded to this one:
I work from an office that has floor to ceiling windows, no curtains or blinds (landlord and boss are too cheap). Our building is located right next to a 4 lane road, between 2 stoplights 200 yards apart. We open the office at 5:30 AM, and here in December sunrise is as late as 8:30 AM. The business next to us replaced their old sign with a small, maybe 10x20 foot, LED TV screen. For several months after it was installed it was set to maximum intensity. It was blinding. At night it was hard to look at. We almost didn't need to turn on the office lights. But worse was the distraction and impediment to seeing the traffic lights on that section of road. The problem was that that business didn't open until 9am, so they didn't have any idea how much of a problem their new sign created. Eventually they got the message and turned the intensity down. I can only imagine what a 5 tennis court screen would do if the intensity is not set appropriately. --Sam
Around here we don't have a lot of billboards but we do have the gas stations that use the brightly lit signs to display the gas prices. In several towns around here they passed laws that made them shut them off 10:00pm -- 5:00am. Even though most of these stations are still in operation. Of course if they didn't change their prices so much they would need such elaborate signage. --Don
Yes, and it should be called the Clark Griswold prevention act. --Doug
I had to look that last one up:
The factoid and question from the December 11th issue was as follows:
LED traffic lights can pose a problem in cold climates. What other unintended consequences of new technologies have caught your attention recently?
Only one reader (Don) responded to this one, maybe because everyone else was out enjoying their year-end office parties:
Employers who expect staff members to be available 24/7.
Our emotional insecurities, requiring us to see what others are doing, 24/7.
Our culture that makes us feel guilty for taking any time off or away, 24/7.
Our human system that responds to technology with a squirt of dopamine.
Thanks Don :-)
Finally, the factoid and question from last week's issue (January 8th) was:
Lampposts in Salzburg, Austria are being covered in airbags to stop so-called 'smartphone zombies' from bumping into them and injuring themselves as they walk around staring at their screens. Do you think this is a proper use of public funds? Or should we just let them learn from their bruises?
Several readers offered their thoughts on this important matter:
I think the funds would be better spent on padding for the corners of all work desks. On all things phone related, I would rather let Darwinism take its course. --Doug, a Systems Administrator from Iowa
Let them run into them and learn from their bruises. Stupid is as stupid does. --Larry, an R&D Technician from Denver, Colorado
Looks like those airbags will be paid for by advertising revenue, at least until the graffiti artists move in. What a stupid idea. When we had kids the advice at the time was - "don't child-proof the house, house-proof the child", as there will come a time when your child will be in an unsafe environment. What happens when people start relying on the airbags and then someone injures themselves walking in to a post without one? Do they get to sue the government for their injuries and the government's negligence? -- Pete
Now let's move on to this week's factoid:
Fact: For the first time food scientists have managed to produced bacon that does not include nitrites from vegetables or curing agents.
Question: Would you actually eat that stuff if it becomes available in your area? Why or why not?
Email your thoughts to me if you have any: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next week,
GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at email@example.com
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Here's a tip I recently came across that helps me a lot when I'm working with large Word documents which is quite often since I write ebooks, articles, whitepapers, newsletters, and so on. If you want to open a Word doc to the last place where you were working, just open the doc and press SHIFT + F5. This will place the cursor in the position where it was when you last closed your doc.
The Office Integration & SharePoint blog has a tip that helps you understand some confusing errors you may see when you try and open a Word doc or Excel workbook from SharePoint:
Microsoft Tech Summit on January 24-25, 2018 in Birmingham, UK
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Free Tool for Monitoring Exchange Server Status & Performance
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7www.mtit.com.Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.