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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, Nov 17, 2003 (Vol. 8, #46 - Issue #452)
"Tech Websites" Exposed
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • Free Software For Employees at Home?
    • Some "Tech Websites" Are Not What You Think They Are
    • Redmond's Monthly Patch: Three Critical Security Problems
    • Microsoft RTM's Virtual PC
    • MS Ships SMS 2003
    • World's Biggest Production Databases Now Include Windows
    • Spam Categorization Breakdown October
    • Double-Take De Facto Standard for Data Replication
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • Secure Your AD with Directory Inspector For Just $495
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Free Software For Employees at Home?

W2Knews was the first to break the story about Panda giving away its professional AV to IT Managers in the US. Now here's another one. These days, Panda gives away free product to customers for their employees at home. Yep, every employee gets a free consumer antivirus... a one-for-one matching program that starts at just 50 seats. Not too bad, don't you think?

Seems that this is a common practice at the big AV companies - but the small guys sure don't get to hear about it! Panda loves to blow the whistle on this kind of thing and so they made it a policy. Can they afford to do it? You bet. Take them up on the offer at:

The bigger question is, why don't the big AV shops extend giveaways for their big customers to everyone? I'd like to know what you think. So here's your new SunPoll:

Full Disclosure of Special Offers:
"Should business software vendors make their special unpublished offers for large enterprises official for all corporate customers?"

  • No, enterprise customers deserve special treatment
  • Yes, every corporate customer deserves to be treated right
  • It's really the business of the software vendors
  • I'm unaffected by special offers
Vote here, rightmost column:

The results from last week's SunPoll were interesting too:
Do You Archive Your Email?

  • Nope, not at all: 30.68% - 197 votes
  • We keep it 0-6 months - 14.48% - 93 votes
  • We keep it 6 months to a year - 9.65% - 62 votes
  • We keep it 1-5 years - 20.71% - 133 votes
  • We keep our email 5 years or longer - 24.45% - 157 votes
Last week we redirected 3 XML feeds and some of you are using the redirects in your RSS Readers (instead of the real feed). These redirects will be disabled early next week, and will not redirect XML feeds in the future. The real feed addresses are here:

Microsoft Watch from Mary Jo Foley:

ENT Magazine RSS News Feed:

Your very own W2Knews:

Quote Of The Day:
"I have kleptomania, but when it gets bad, I take something for it."
-- Anonymous

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

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Some "Tech Websites" Are Not What You Think They Are

I was surprised to learn that a few websites that position themselves as independent resource & review sites, are really a hidden marketing vehicle for one of the players in our tools market.

First of all, let me start with a full disclosure. We try to make sure everyone knows that W2Knews is published by Sunbelt Software as a service to the NT/2000 system admin community. We write about the market, events and the tools we sell. We are open about it. Sunbelt also publishes WinXPNews, which is for consumers running WinXP. The ads in there often are "house ads" that refer people back to the Sunbelt OnLine Shop. Sunbelt has always been above board with its marketing. So far so good.

Now, how about some other sites? Are they as overt about their marketing? Some apparently are not. I got a bit suspicious, as I tried to place an ad for iHateSpam Server in the msexchange.org site. Our emails were never answered, but the products of a competitor of iHateSpam Server were prominently and consistently featured.

Then I started to do some research on this site, simply by googling it. Turns out it is run by a gentleman by the name of Stephen Chetcuti out of Malta. Now, Malta is not your 'next door' and logical location for a site or a site operator like that, (the island of Malta is south of Italy):

Moreover, he seems to be very active and runs several sites, that link back to each other often. Here they are:

www.ISAserver.org - Positioned as:
"The #1 unofficial ISA Server resource site"

www.msexchange.org - their banner states:
MSExchange.org is in no way affiliated with Microsoft Corp.

www.serverfiles.com - Presents itself as a Server software directory for Network administrators & IT professionals, and rates products by "votes". Products of one specific vendor are very often #1.

www.windowsecurity.com - I quote: "WindowSecurity.com provides Windows security news, articles, tutorials, software listings and reviews for information security professionals covering topics such as firewalls, viruses, intrusion detection and other security topics". The site features individual authors, but does not make any statements about affiliations.

Turns out all these sites are run by the same organization called 'isoftmarketing' that hosts its sites at Rackspace in San Antonio in Texas: I found them here: http://www.isoftmarketing.com and who is behind all these sites? The same Stephen Chetcuti. Google shows this definitively, put his name in the search box and click through a few pages.

Now, all these sites somehow magically have products from one company advertised, featured, and often voted on as being the leader in their category. The company? Sunbelt's competitor GFI Software who has their European headquarters in... you may have guessed it by now: Malta. And guess who is on the payroll of GFI Software? The very same Stephen Chetcuti, also from Malta. You can see over here (end of the page) that he also contributes to sites with his GFI credentials:

Then we started looking a bit more in detail, and found this article:

A quick search on the author of that article Alex Zammit shows that he's a GFI employee (search Google groups). So a GFI employee posting articles on that site, but without mentioning where they work...

A bit of surfing on these above sites will show you what I mean. None of these sites have any disclosure of the fact the site owner works for GFI, they just claim that they are sponsored by the advertisers. This may be true, but the content on these sites needs to be filtered with this new knowledge in mind. So, whenever you are on the Net, and browse a site, keep in mind the old expression "consider the source". Buyer Beware!


Redmond's Monthly Patch: Three Critical Security Problems

MS released patches for three security problems called "critical and a fourth labeled "important". This is their second monthly summary of security bulletins. Get your patching gear out again!

Microsoft RTM's Virtual PC

You may remember MS acquired the Connectix assets. Redmond is now close to "Release To Manufacturing (RTM)" the fruits of this purchase. They will ship Microsoft Virtual PC 2004, which was formerly known as Connectix Virtual PC. It's a direct competitor to VMWare.

With the desktop software, you can run multiple versions of Windows on the same machine, as well as Mac and Linux on virtual machines. For a system admin, running multiple OS-en on virtual machines on the same PC is ideal. If you want to test out and ensure the quality of apps before you upgrade, or need to support several versions of software on different OS environments, this type of software is a godsend. More over, it helps a lot if you plan server consolidations and have sufficient hardware capacity to run several virtual servers on the same 4-way or 8-way machine.

The server equivalent of the product, which at the moment is called Microsoft Virtual Server, was originally expected to ship by the end of 2003 but will probably be released in Q1, 2004.

MS Ships SMS 2003

It's finally happening. MS began shipping its Systems Management Server 2003 software this week. It is their first step in a long term strategy to make Windows self-managing. (Redmond recently launched its "Dynamic Systems Initiative", which is geared to make Windows software more self-managing / self-healing). Some of the new stuff in the 2003 version are enhanced management capabilities for patches, application deployment and server integration.

Microsoft also announced their SMS 2003 SDK (software-development kit). Third-party software makers can use the SDK to tie their products into SMS. The obvious goal is to create more Windows applications that SMS will be able to manage and also deploy.

Redmond also announced third party companies that specialize in integrating SMS with their own products. Some examples are Vintela, that does Linux and Unix management software, and 1E, a U.K. developer security patch-management utilities.

SMS 2003 is priced at $1,219 for a server and 10 client access licenses (CALs). It costs $1,909 with 25 CALs. Additional CALs sell for $279 in packs of five, or $1,089 in packs of 20. Keep in mind you want a dedicated SMS server for this, if your environment is a bit bigger. Play around with SMS 2003 after downloading it here:

World's Biggest Production Databases Now Include Windows

ENTMag reported that Windows servers and SQL Server 2000 now power some of the world's biggest production databases, according to an annual survey from data management analysts at Winter Corp. For instance, Verizon Communications (Telecom) is running a 5.3- terabyte SQL Server database that is the sixth largest database found in Winter's survey. Read more over at ENTMag's site:


Spam Categorization Breakdown October

And what is the monthly spam categorization breakdown over October? Here is the graph. It's an ever-changing ugly picture, and it seems to come in waves. Now it's ads for medications that seem to be the major money making scheme. It's getting quite annoying to have ads for strong addictive painkillers in your inbox all the time. The breakdown pie chart is here:

And FYI, iHateSpam Server is going great guns, dozens of new licenses are installed every week, and the amount of mailboxes protected by iHateSpam server already runs in the hundreds of thousands. More over, Sunbelt is developing hard to add features you asked for and the new V1.5 which I expect before the end of the year is going to kick butt: everything you wanted to have and then some. Download current version here:

Double-Take De Facto Standard for Data Replication

The developer of Double-Take (NSI Software) continued its growth trend with revenues up 118 percent year over year.

In the last quarter, 321 new customers embraced Double-Take as the de facto standard for data replication including Grant Thornton, O'Melveny & Myers, First Banks Inc. and Naval War College. Sales to The Bank of New York, Citigroup and E*TRADE reinforce the company's strong foothold in the financial services industry. NSI's financial customers include 10 of the top 11 securities companies as listed in the Fortune 500 rankings. Customers rely on NSI's Double-Take and GeoCluster data replication and failover software for tasks including disaster recovery and centralized data backup to eliminate the risk of leaving key applications and information unprotected.

Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, also a repeat customer in the third quarter, is using Double-Take as part of a centralized approach to disaster recovery and business continuity. "One vital piece of our disaster recovery plan is the ability to consistently provide point-in-time backups for the entire enterprise. With real-time replication, we have consolidated all our company backups to one physical site, facilitating the 'hot-site' approach to business recovery," said Andy Bomboy, technical support specialist. "This concept is important because it allows us to maintain our backup plan with a much greater degree of quality control."

"Data replication is the cornerstone to any comprehensive data protection strategy. It mitigates the risk of not having access to critical data that can affect the performance of a company's business," said Bill North, research director at IDC. "NSI provides affordable products and services that leverage their customers' existing hardware investments to provide reliable data protection." 30-day Evals here:


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

  • A very interesting article. Safe Solar Energy from ... the moon. Seriously.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031117FA-Solar_Energy
  • And if you are interested in an alternative boat ride, here's an outlandish model.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031117FA-Boat

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031117FA-Wow
  • The XBOX is going to change its CPU to a more powerful chippie.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031117FA-XBOX
  • Things to do on the Net when you're dead:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031117FA-Last_Email
  • Miss Digital World is the first ever virtual beauty contest:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031117FA-Miss_Digital_World
  • One of these classic "IT Project" illustrations, 15 years ago they were black & white and photocopied.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031117FA-IT_Project
  • Ever seen the Northern Light (Aurora) from SPACE:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031117FA-Aurora
  • This spreadsheet shows what network ports are used by the system services utilized by the Microsoft Windows Server System products. Quite useful:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=031117FA-Network_Ports

    Secure Your AD with Directory Inspector For Just $495

    The Sunbelt Directory Inspector is a new, wizard-based tool that provides you with a suite of analyzers addressing topics such as directory structure, security and integrity, standards and policy compliance. Supports directories from IBM, Microsoft, Netscape, Novell and generic LDAP-based directories. The licensing was recently changed to admin-seat, and if you see what amount of power you get for this money, it's a killer deal.