- Sign-up Now!
 - Current Issue
 - Edit Your Profile/Unsubscribe

Subscribe | Media Kit | About Us | All Issues | Subscriber Feedback | Contact Us | Privacy Statement
Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, Nov 25, 2002 (Vol. 7, #72 - Issue #403)
XBOX Gaming Now On-Line: Review
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • XBOX Gaming Now On-Line: Review
    • Microsoft Communicates About Security
    • What Did Bill Say At Comdex?
    • Microsoft Clarifies Exchange Route
    • MS Is Really Making Money With The NT CodeBase
    • Most Windows Systems Affected By Critical Vulnerability
    • Opalis Gets Straight A's for Task Automation
    • The OfficeLetter Reviews iHateSpam
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • Products of the Week
  SPONSOR: ScriptLogic
Point & Click Desktop Administration
"Every once in a while a product comes along that just seems to get
the pieces right, providing both simplicity and power. ScriptLogic
fits the bill on both counts." - MCP Magazine November, 2002
* Logon, logoff and shutdown scripting
* Install/update software packages
* Create Outlook mail profiles
* Create/remove shortcuts
* Enforce security policies
... And Much More
Fully functional 45 day DOWNLOAD
Free Born to Network T-shirt offer is available to US residents only.
Visit ScriptLogic for more information.

XBOX Gaming Now On-Line: Review

You all know that I got one of these game machines early on. I had a look and saw there was an Ethernet port on the back of the machine. Well, they are ready now. It's a gamebox running on a stripped flavor of W2K, and you can now get the online gaming kit, plug it in your router and you're online, playing against anyone on the planet with a broadband connection. They call it "Xbox Live". We got one of these and hooked it up. I just played for 20 minutes. This Is Cool.

Here's what our Webmaster thought about it:

"So you've had your Xbox for sometime now, and wanted to plug a network cable into it and play with others online. Well now you can. It's called Xbox Live and it premiered last week. But it will cost you 50 bucks a year to join. And that's what Stu wanted me to do. So off to the local computer store and I returned with the Xbox Live starter kit, two gamepads and 2 games. I was ready. Or so I thought.

The starter kit comes with a comfortable headset mike that plugs into a small adapter on your gamepad. Mute and volume controls are there. Slap in the included DVD and the installation proceeds automatically. Until you are informed that a credit card is required just in case you want some of the premium features or wish to extend Xbox Live past the first year. The service apparently is going to a monthly fee after your year is up.

Now I'm quite familiar with web forms, but have you ever filled one out with a joystick? It's no fun and quite tedious. After that adventure is over, the Xbox reboots and attempts to connect to the Microsoft servers using DHCP to configure itself. No luck. After a bit of perusing of the Xbox Live forums, I find that one needs to modify the machines MAC address. I enter a totally random code and voila! It finally sees the server and downloads an update (anti modchip?) to my machine.

The starter kit DVD includes 2 free online games, but you'll want to steer clear of Whacked! unless you enjoy meat cleavers. Enough said. MotoGP is Grand Prix motorcycle racing. It's fast, the graphics and sound are super. Best of all is the online playing. Search for an existing session, chit chat until everybody is ready ("where are YOU from?" is the norm) and RACE! During the race you'll hear everything you can imagine including grunts and yells but mostly everybody is concentrating on the race at hand. I even chatted up a couple of French Beta testers in France. Coming soon for Europe! Here's a little 5mb mpg so you can get the feel:

The two purchased games were NFL Fever 2003 and MechAssault. The latter is your giant robots that wreak massive destruction with rockets, lasers and missiles on an alien planet. Play in teams or against each other but it usually ends up as a free for all. Lots of talking on this one as people jeer and cheer each other.

NFL Fever 2K3 is a football fan's dream come true. I completed all the training and joined up with this fellow from Maryland to play an entire game. The interaction is incredible. Since you don't have to concentrate all the time, you talk with your rival! You can play head to head or as a team, choose from a seemingly unlimited set of plays. It's fantasy football come alive.

On occasion you will hear a clipped voice or see a motorcycle hovering 3 feet in the air, but I'll blame that on latency. Our high speed T3 here at Sunbelt doesn't hurt, and having the Xbox up on my digital projector in my office looks awesome. Here's Stu in action:

Although some have reported problems and glitches, we didn't encounter any problems except for the initial setup and the rare disconnect from a game. See here:

Microsoft has done a nice job of integrating the games and the hosting servers. I wonder what applications other than games this will lead to?"

More about it here.

Quotes of the day:

  1. "There are 10 kinds of people. Those who can count binary and those who can't."
  2. "Work... There are two rules to success in life: 1. Don't tell people everything you know."
  3. "Meeting: an event where minutes are kept and hours are lost."
Warm regards,
Stu Sjouwerman (email me with feedback: [email protected])
  SPONSOR: Double-Take
Did you know that a lot of System Admins (apart from high avail-
ability and disaster recovery), use Double-Take for things like:

- enhance their backup windows - centralized backups - data
distribution - web content replication - data migration - server
consolidation and change management? This tool has a lot more uses
than you might think. Check out all the extremely useful
DT-features at:
Visit Double-Take for more information.

Microsoft Communicates About Security

We received this letter from Steve Lipner, who is Director of Security Assurance at MS. You may have missed it, and it's kind of important. So here is another copy in case you never got the original.

"Dear Microsoft Customer,

I'm taking the unusual step of sending this mail to the Microsoft Security Notification Service mailing list to tell you about some changes in communications practices that the Microsoft Security Response Center is making.

Customer feedback tells us that, while technical professionals value our security bulletins, many end-users find them overly detailed and confusing. In addition, end-users who subscribe to the Microsoft Security Notification Service receive bulletins that are of interest only to developers or system administrators.

To help customers, for each issue, we will now create a less technical end-user security bulletin that we will host at:

We will continue to release the current security bulletins targeted to technical professionals. The new end-user security bulletins will describe straightforward steps that customers can take to help keep their systems secure.

In addition, before year's end, we will create a new End User Security Notification Service that will notify customers of security issues in end-user-oriented products and provide a link to the appropriate end-user security bulletin.

The TechNet security bulletins will continue to include technical details that enable IT professionals to determine where and whether a patch is needed or whether workarounds are an appropriate alternative.

We have also received feedback that, while many customers rely on our Security Bulletin Severity Ratings to help them decide which patches to apply, they find that the ratings fail to clearly identify the most serious issues. There is also a widespread feeling that the Severity Ratings are difficult to understand and apply. For these reasons, we have modified the Severity Rating criteria to help customers more easily evaluate the impact of security issues. We hope that this more prescriptive guidance will help you distinguish the most urgent security issues. I encourage you to review the updated Microsoft Security Response Center Security Bulletin Severity Rating System at:

Microsoft is committed to help keep your systems safe. As part of that commitment, we regularly review customer feedback and update our security response process to ensure that we are doing all we can to meet your needs. We appreciate your feedback and hope that you will find that these changes help you keep your systems secure." [end quote]

Hope this helps. Let me know if this is useful for you? My email is up in the Editor's corner.


What Did Bill Say At Comdex?

Don't know if you know, but Mary Jo Foley does a pretty good job with the Microsoft Watch newsletter. This is a paid-for subscription but worth it if you are in bed with MS, business-wise. I quoted her summary of Gates' Comdex speech. You should check out the site, and grateful acknowledgement to "Microsoft Watch" for the copy below:

"As with every Comdex kick-off keynote, Microsoft boy wonder Bill Gates drops as many hints about what's to come from Microsoft as he does about technologies that are (nearly) here today. This year's address was no exception. For those who don't have time to slog through the myriad articles on what Microsoft unveiled this week at Comdex, here are your CliffsNotes. If you're really pressed for time, most of the news can be condensed down to one key word: delays. Chairman Gates announced:

"Yet another delay in the delivery of Windows .Net Server 2003. Release Candidate 2 is due to ship to testers in the next few weeks. Microsoft won't release the product to manufacturing until March, 2003, with commercial shipment due to begin in April 2003.

"Official word of the delay in the delivery of "Everett," the next version of Visual Studio .Net. Microsoft originally planned to ship Everett by the end of this year; now, think April, 2003.

"The delayed "Mira" smart displays will now begin shipping on Jan. 8. These originally were due to ship before this year's holiday rush. Four new OEMs?Alienware, ABS Computer Technologies, CyberPower and Gateway?have signed up to carry Windows XP Media Center Edition on future PC entertainment centers.

"In conjunction with Kinko's, Microsoft is developing a .Net Web service for remote printing. The service is due to ship by mid-2003.

"Smart Personal Object Technology (SPOT), a Microsoft Research project. The first SPOT consumer devices, which will deliver computing power to consumer devices, are due some time next year. Microsoft is working with National Semiconductor on embedding the software in chips to power a .Net generation of smart pens, watches, key chains, refrigerator magnets and alarm clocks."

Here is the full transcript:

Missed Comdex? Here are all the headlines:

Microsoft Clarifies Exchange Route

Contrary to some reports, Microsoft says the next version of Exchange, code-named Titanium, will run on Windows 2000. However, the company does say that some features will need .Net Server. Microsoft's next version of Exchange has been criticized for tying customers to .Net Server. This has created the idea that the software will not run on W2k. That's not exactly true, said Microsoft, at its IT Forum. The forum, which is running at the same time as Comdex Fall 2002, has attracted European techies who could not afford to travel to Las Vegas.

The benefits of Titanium include faster synchronization. "We have compressed traffic by up to 70 percent and cut the bytes on the wire by 50 percent," said Baker. There is also a "cached mode," which smoothes out differences in bandwidth--so dial-up users can operate successfully. Full article here:

MS Is Really Making Money With The NT CodeBase

Ever wondered what product lines were making money and which were losing? Well, MS just filed its Security & Exchange Commission 10-Q form (this is a required filing for USA Public Companies) and is it clear which products pay the mortgage and which ones are (still) freeloaders.

Windows, server and Office software are making money. Everything else is bleeding red ink. For the period ending September 30th, the two cash cows, Windows and Office generated operating income of $2.48 billion on revenue of $2.89 billion, and $1.88 billion on $2.38 billion respectively.

Notable are the Server Platforms. They did modestly compared to the above figures, but compared to other players in the market, they are sky-high. Operating income of $519 million on revenue of $1.52 billion. Like I said before, everything else in Redmond is seeing red for the moment. Just a few examples: MSN lost $97 million on $531 million, and the Xbox, lost $177 Mil on total revenues of $505 million which was expected of course. Here are the actual figures on the SEC site:

Most Windows Systems Affected By Critical Vulnerability

MS warned late Wednesday that a critical new hole was found. It's in the Microsoft Data Access Components, (MDAC) a bit of technology that is present on most Windows boxes. Web servers are again the most vulnerable, especially if you have a three-tier architecture with a IE users at the front, and a SQL Server database at the back end. They also came out with an unrelated cumulative patch for IE. Check here:


Opalis Gets Straight A's for Task Automation

The developer was very proud to announce that a review of OpalisRobot 4.05 resulted in a "Straight A" review that you can read here.

Get your 30-day eval here:

The OfficeLetter Reviews iHateSpam

Here is an extract: "My PC contains dozens of utilities and apps that initially caught my eye but now rarely get used. On the other hand, iHateSpam gets used daily -- in fact it gets used more than a hundred times each day! The only complaint I have, and it's a minor one, relates to new e-mail notification. I like to use the "Play a sound" advanced e-mail option in Outlook to alert me whenever a new message has arrived. I wish iHateSpam could take over this function and only alert me when non-spam messages are received.

"I have found the product to be an easy to use, valuable addition to PC. If spam is cluttering up your inbox and taking time away from the messages you should be reading, I can heartily recommend it." Full article:

Here is the product for your 30-day eval:


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

  • A good overview article on UPnP-based security. Mainly for homes:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021125FA-UPnP_Security
  • In an exclusive interview with Computerworld, a London-based fundamentalist Islamic cleric with ties to Osama bin Laden talked of plans to use the Internet to target the U.S., Israeli and U.K. economies:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021125FA-ComputerWorld
  • Get your new Segway at Amazon for just 5 grand. First come First Serve ;-)

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021125FA-Segway
  • By FAR the coolest gadget for Christmas. A Palm PDA on your wrist:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021125FA-Wrist_PDA
  • Very, very silly. Click on the each horse and turn up the volume:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021125FA-Horses

    Products of the Week

    Dual DVD+RW/-RW Combo Drive (24x/10x/32x CDRW)
    Sony takes the risk out of buying a DVD recorder by bringing all the popular formats into a single drive. The amazing DRU-500A burns DVD-R/-RW, DVD+RW/+R, and even CD-R/CD-RW discs.* Internal EIDE drive includes an impressive, industry standard software bundle and is compatible with Windows® 98SE/2000, Windows ME and Windows XP operating systems. * DVD+RW and DVD-RW discs recorded on this drive may not play back on some older or entry-level DVD systems. The write-once DVD+R or DVD-R discs are more compatible for interchange with other DVD systems. Please record responsibly. Before copying anything onto a CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+R or DVD+RW, please be sure you are not violating copyright laws.

    Tungsten T Color 16MB PDA
    Introducing the Palm Tungsten T handheld ? a handheld made for the way a handheld is used. For starters, it's Palm's most compact device ever! But don't be fooled by the size. Inside, the powerful OMAP processor (an enhanced ARM-based processor) from Texas Instruments gives you the performance you need to both organize your life and work with essential Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files when you're on the go. The Tungsten T handheld's operating system, Palm OS 5 is optimized for a wide range of multimedia and wireless capabilities. On top of all this, the Tungsten T handheld has a color screen, a built-in voice recorder, a 5-way navigator button for one-hand operation, built-in Bluetooth technology, plus dual expansion for adding functionality so your Tungsten T handheld grows with you.

    Coolpix 5700 Digital Camera
    The Nikon Coolpix 5700 is ideal for advanced amateurs, digital enthusiasts, and semi-professional photographers who demand high performance in every aspect of photography, as well as an air of sophistication. The compact, lightweight body of the Nikon Coolpix 5700 is made of a magnesium alloy, which offers unparalleled portability. The camera's ergonomic, easy-grip design ensures secure handling and comfortable operation. The Vari-angle LCD monitor and the new EVF (Electronic ViewFinder) with its great frame coverage combine to offer total convenience in every shooting position.