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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Sat, Nov 25, 2000 (Vol. 5, #55 - Issue #230)
Lots Of Cool Stuff
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
  1. EDITORS CORNER
    • New Cool Stuff
  2. TECH BRIEFING
    • The Relationship between W2K, .NET and ASP
  3. NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
    • W2K2 Will Have 'Snapshot' Built-In
    • Lots Of Cool Stuff -- Nothing To Do With Windows ;-)
    • Enhancing Windows 2000 Disk Subsystem Performance
  4. NT/2000 THIRD PARTY NEWS
    • Own Your Own Domain Name For Just 15(!) bucks
    • NEW: RepairDisk Manager-Fast Recovery From System Crashes
    • NEW: Service Explorer-Plug That Security Loophole!
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  6. PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
    • XML by Example
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  EDITORS CORNER

New Cool Stuff

Hi NT/W2K-ers,

Hope all of you had a good last week. The USA had a holiday so it was a 'short' week over here. However, there's a whole bunch of New Cool Stuff out there, and this time I'd like you have a look at some gadgets that I have found recently and show us which ones you like best. We are also introducing TWO new products that you should have a look at. They are in the NT/2000 THIRD PARTY NEWS section. Last but not least, I found a 100% NT-based site that allows you to lock in your own domain name for just 15 bucks and then do some nifty stuff like forwarding. Check it out below.

Warm regards,

Stu Sjouwerman
(email me with feedback: [email protected])

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  TECH BRIEFING

The Relationship between W2K, .NET and ASP

Your job is going to significantly change in the coming 5-10 years. How? Well, very likely you will no longer work for just one company but for hundreds at the same time. Huh? Yup. Take the exterior viewpoint for a moment (helicopter view). Technology is not getting any simpler. See the massive increase in lines of code in W2K as an example. However, high-tech will penetrate deeper in business with greater speed every year. The lack of trained IT people now claimed to be 300,000 just in the USA will get bigger and bigger.

So, what will most companies do? Better yet, what will most companies be *forced* to do? Outsource their IT department. That is what it is called from the viewpoint of the business. From the viewpoint of the IT vendors, the same thing is called becoming an Application Service Provider (ASP). Essentially, an ASP is the outsourced IT department of dozens or hundreds of companies. They will provide all the software the company needs via a fat pipe. Think 'softtone' instead of dialtone or webtone. Forget installing and managing your own apps and the inevitable resulting upgradathons.

And why is Microsoft investing billions into .NET? Well, that is the software infrastructure they want the ASP's to use on top of W2K to provide these software services to their customers. XML is the glue that will hold all of this stuff together. Simple, right? Perhaps. The ASP model has not been proven yet, but hundreds of millions of VC-dollars are being sunk in this model that is expected to become profitable in a year or so.

The Fortune 1000 will likely be too complex to have 'everything IT' outsourced like this, but the 8.5 million other companies are a good prospect for ASP's for sure. There are a few snags though that need to be handled. Security is one, and the fact that the corporate data will sit some where else than in your own building and managed by your ASP. A little scary, but if this will be dressed in ironclad contracts companies might be willing/forced to live with it.

You also have to look at the mass consumer markets like music. Due to the fact we have broadband penetrating at a high clip, people no longer download but go for streaming. Software could be used in a similar fashion: 'streaming' it and only pay for what you use. ASP's allow this. They leverage their tech talent (us) to service a variety of customers which means apps are up & running faster. And when ASP's start to provide software that is easier to get, faster and cheaper, the economies of scale kick in and it starts to pay off for all parties involved.

So, what does this mean for us techies? ASP's are going to recruit the very savvy IT people first, and pay them very well. They will create the infrastructure. Next they need people to run all this stuff. Guess who will get calls from headhunters? Right. Better have some XML experience on your resume. Here is a little help - The XML book at:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/bookclub

  NT/2000 RELATED NEWS

W2K2 Will Have 'Snapshot' Built-In

ENT has an interesting article about Snapshot technology. Here are three paragraphs, and at the end if a link to the full article. "Backup and recovery is an essential function for mission critical systems, so it is ironic that backup and recovery software is difficult to certify for Microsoft's platform for mission critical systems, Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. Microsoft intends to address this issue in its next release of the Windows operating system, Whistler.

Whistler will have native functionality that enables administrators to take "snapshots," a copy of system settings and information at a single moment in time, then send the snapshots to third-party back up and recovery software for storage on tape or other backup media.

Snapshots provide a point in time view of a machine, to simplify and accelerate backup and recovery. The snapshot routine briefly freezes the I/O of a machine, flushes the memory, then "takes a picture" of the system's status at that moment. A third-party writer can then begin to back up the system based on the snapshot. Snapshots allows administrators to backup machines without taking them offline and can improve the reliability of backups.
http://entmag.com/displayarticle.asp?ID=11220071811AM

Lots Of Cool Stuff -- Nothing To Do With Windows ;-)

OK, once a year I pick the 10 cool gadgets that I personally like the best. I'm reading tons of IT magazines and then a bunch of other mags so I decided to get you the 10 goodies that I think might be fun for all of you. Here are my faves, and their links. (which we redirect so we can count which ones you like best). Why? That is for the moment a mystery that I'll explain later but you just might benefit from it. Don't ask just yet! [grin]

1) New digital camera from Hitachi that replaced the tape with an editable DVD of an hour. You can edit right on the camera, and the disks play on many (not all) home DVD boxes. The camera is the DZ-MV100. Cost is around $2,000. Link to Hitachi Website & specs:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700survey01

2) It's a phone. It's an MP3 player. Plus a whole lot more. The Samsung Uproar is a dual-band Sprint PCS Phone that has a built- in MP3 player with 64 MB of memory. That's enough for over an hour's worth of music. SRP is $399. Check out all the features:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700survey02

3) It's a phone *and* a PDA integrated into one device. The TP3000 is a phone with a built-in speakerphone, synchs with Outlook, Web access, and voice activated dialing. The flip-up PDA has all the stuff you'd expect in any PDA. SRP is same as above: $399.
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700survey03

4) The nomad jukebox looks like a portable CD-player but in reality has a 6-Gig hard drive that holds about 100 hours (about 150 albums) of MP3. Something else than these small flash-memory based players! Suggested Retail Price for this puppy: $499.99. Press Release here:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700survey04

5) The Fuji FinePix beats the $#!+ out of other much more expensive digital still cameras with a whopping 3.4 megapixels, and is an MP3 player / voice recorder at the same time. Cost? only $699. Release:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700survey05

6) Live small? Here's a "MicroPlex" for you. The Panasonic mini DVD theater gives you a player, TV receiver and 15.2 inch flatscreen. You can even hook up cable so can zap channels to your heart's delight. Cost: a round 2 grand. This is so new the Panasonic website is not up to date yet, here are its smaller sisters and brothers to give you the idea:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700survey06

7) Your own Quiet Zone. Travel a lot? Here's a BOSE noise canceling headphone set that of course also plays music. It's got a microphone that picks up ambient noise and cancels it. Great for flights as it fits in the jacks of your airplane seat. Suggested Retail: $299
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700survey07

8) Casio has a cool new watch that has a camera in it. I ran into this cutie when I was in the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and needed to kill some time. It's always ready to capture events when they occur. You can transfer shots to your PC so you can email them. This Christmas present for yourself is just $229.95. Specs & video:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700surveu08

9) No chance getting lost with the Geode Module on your Visor PDA. You can download city maps and this GPS unit tracks where you are. There are even local events and an entertainment guide that tells you what's goin' on around the corner. Suggested Retail Price: $249
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700survey09

10) By far the most esthetic computer speakers and subwoofer. The HK Soundsticks are head and shoulders over any other audio gear from a visual perspective. The transparent ones are only for Apple but the PC ones are the next best alternative. SRP: $199. Specs at:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700survey10

Enhancing Windows 2000 Disk Subsystem Performance

Super Speed RAM Disk

No matter how well you sized and tuned your Windows 2000 disk subsystem, the disk subsystem is still composed of physical devices that are slow when compared to RAM. So what can you do if you need really fast I/O or want to remove a specific hot disk bottleneck? Consider using a RAM disk. A RAM disk can be configured using the Super Speed software, which enables you to configure part of Windows 2000's memory subsystem to appear as a disk drive to your applications.

How much performance improvement might you expect when using RAM disk technology? To address this question, a series of enchmarks were run to see what performance gains (or not) were possible on a Compaq 6400R with Dual 550MHz CPUs and a size disk RAID 5 array. Performance improvements provided by the RAM disk are dramatic!

Ok, not a big surprise, but what is more important than the specific throughput values reported are the relative performance differences between using the RAM disk and a traditional a six RAID 5 disk array. For the sequential read intensive environment, the RAM disk provides over 2 times the performance of a six disk RAID 5 array (53Mb/sec), over 8 times the performance in the random read environment (40Mb/sec), and over 7 times the performance in a write intensive environment (80Mb/sec). You can make your own decision of whether the additional cost of the extra RAM for use as a RAM disk is justified by the increase in performance.

Using a RAM disk to improve disk subsystem performance is not a replacement for utilizing sound availability, tuning and sizing techniques for the rest of your disk subsystem. It does, however, provide a strong ally to add to your arsenal of tuning techniques.

This is an extract from a book by Curt Aubley, Author of Tuning And Sizing Windows 2000 for Maximum Performance, Prentice Hall-Dec. 2000
http://www.TuningAndSizingNT.com

To try a RAM disk on your own system, download from here:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/product.cfm?id=490

  THIRD PARTY NEWS

Own Your Own Domain Name For Just 15(!) bucks

Everybody knows that getting your own '.COM' cost $70, right? Not true anymore. A couple of local guys I know hooked up 5 beefy NT servers and came out with a super low cost alternative to that 'seventy bucks for two years'. It is now possible to register domains for MUCH less. I tried it out for myself and it works just great.

The site is called Free Name Registry (OK, it does not look like a million bucks but so what, it gets the job done) and is registering domains for $15 per year until the end of December! This means you can register that name that you have been thinking about getting and not have to worry about the large expense or the fear you might never use it. Or businesses that already own their .COM can grab the equivalent .NET and .ORG to make sure nobody else runs away with these names and causes confusion or losses.

Free Name Registry will even put up a "Under Construction" webpage until you do decide to use the site. This service is called 'parking'. Here is where the site got its name, because you can 'park' for free. It all starts with owning your own domain name, and after you do there is other cool stuff possible, like forwarding. What is that?

For instance, when 1) you own 'yourlastname.com' and 2) next you add the $25/yr forwarding service, you can have your friends send email to '[email protected]' which then gets forwarded instantly to your tired old ISP's '[email protected]'sEmailService.net'. That has the benefit that you can change ISP's at any time you want and not have to change email address.

The last cool thing that is possible is forwarding of websites. Wazzat? Well, suppose you have a free 10Meg website at your ISP. It's something like http://www.yourISP.com/members/usa/john01.htm Looks pretty ugly, right? Well, with website forwarding you can now have everyone go to 'www.yourlastname.com' which will push them transparently and instantly right back to the space at your ISP. Pretty nifty. You can think of all the possibilities yourself.

Anyway, I like this site, and am using it myself. It's dirt cheap and it works. You should tell your friends about it too. Cut & Paste this article and send it to them. They will like it too! Now, get your own domain at:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700freename

NEW: RepairDisk Manager-Fast Recovery From System Crashes

Microsoft recommends to create a emergency repair disk whenever you make a significant change to the hardware or software in a Windows NT/2000 system. Sure, like we have time to do that. In reality these disks are rarely made because it is a manual process and extremely time consuming.

It requires Microsoft's RDISK (for Windows NT) or Backup (for W2K) utilities to be run on each computer, and a separate disk used and maintained for each computer. We have something better to do, however if you *don't* do it, one day it will bite you in the butt.

RepairDisk Manager automates the process of creating your emergency repair disks. RepairDisk Manager provides an extremely easy-to-use graphical interface that allows you to quickly schedule repair disk runs throughout your enterprise - daily, weekly, or monthly - on a regular basis. This ensures the disks get created, significantly improving your recovery time when a system crashes. More interesting data about this tool (incl. price indication), and 30-day eval here:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/product.cfm?id=240

NEW: Service Explorer-Plug That Security Loophole!

Service Explorer allows you to manage multiple services across multiple servers simultaneously. Ever come across the familiar loophole of unchanged service accounts that have Domain privileges? Service Explorer fixes this by allowing you to change passwords on hundreds of services located across your network, all in one single operation.

Multiple service management - Target multiple services on multiple systems in one operation. For example, you can now change the password on hundreds of services spread across your network.

Remote Service Management - Control any service on any server in your network easily with Service Explorer. Easy to use GUI allows you to stop, start, restart, and change any property of services on any system on your network.

No agents required - Service Explorer requires no agents to be installed on managed systems.

Remotely Install / Remove Services - Easily install and remove Windows 2000/NT services. You can choose to remove a single service on a single system, or remove ten services on a hundreds systems in one simple operation.

Using Windows 2000? Service Explorer fully supports Windows 2000's services as well as Windows NT.

Product Benefits: Service Explorer makes it easy to completely manage Services and Service Account Passwords on thousands of Windows 2000/NT systems in a single operation. If your company uses agent-based and other software that relies on 2000/NT Services (such as SMS and many virus-scanning programs), you will benefit from enhanced security, improved uptime for service- based software and reduced administrative costs. More over, the pricing is only $499 for a 10-systems pack! Try it out at:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/product.cfm?id=786

  FAVE LINKS

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

  • How do ISP's do? Uptime? Speed? Here they all are, rated objectively.
    http://ratings.miq.net/compare-by-REACHABILITY-All.html
  • Want to find out your bandwidth speed without downloading big files?
    http://computingcentral.msn.com/topics/bandwidth/speedtest500.asp
  • Lock in your own Domain Name for just 15 bucks. Dirt Cheap!
    http://www.sunbelt-software.com/redir.cfm?id=112700freename
  • OK, it's not a link but still useful. Did you know what that Windows key+M does? Minimizes all apps and brings you back to the desktop.
  •   PRODUCT OF THE WEEK

    XML by Example

    You know that the new MS .NET initiative revolves completely around XML. You need to know what this is, and get your wits wrapped around it quickly. That is why we have a new title in the Sunbelt BookClub about XML

    XML by Example teaches Web developers to make the most of XML with short, self-contained examples every step of the way. The book presumes knowledge of HTML, the Web, Web scripting, and covers such topics as: Document Type Definitions, Namespaces, Parser Debugging, XSL (Extensible Stylesheet Language), and DOM and SAX APIs. At the end, developers will review the concepts taught in the book by building a full, real-world e-commerce application. Suggested Retail: 24.99 But the Sunbelt Bookclub gets it to you for: $14.49. Buy it online at:
    http://www.sunbelt-software.com/bookclub