Vol. 22, #13 - March 27, 2017 - Issue #1124
Value dilution in IT
- Editor's Corner
- Ask Our Readers - How to restore Mozilla Sunbird calendar (new question)
- Ask Our Readers - File Explorer hangs when creating a new folder (last word??)
- From the Mailbag
- Value dilution in IT
- Send us your feedback
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Factoid of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- This Week's Tips
- Android devices - Kiosk Mode
- Windows - Data recovery software
- Windows 10 - System Restore failing
- Events Calendar
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- New on TechGenix.com
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- Tech Briefing
- Enterprise IT
- Windows 10
- Other Articles of Interest
- Five tips to overcome OpenStack management challenges
- How to pick between VDI vs. DaaS for desktop virtualization
- Nine steps to a successful Hyper-V to VMware migration
- SD-WAN architecture demands new network management approach
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- Golf Trick Shots
- Delta Wing Jet Dancing On Its Tail
- Building The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
- ABBA at Eurovision 1974
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Deep Packet Inspection for Quality of Experience Monitoring
- Deep Packet Inspection for Quality of Experience Monitoring
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This week's newsletter is about "value dilution" in regard to IT technology and services. I coined this phrase in last week's newsletter to describe how manufacturers often "dilute" their products in some fashion so they can allegedly provide the same "value" to customers but at a reduced cost. I used two real-world examples last week to illustrate this concept (a popular liquid dish soap and a fan I purchased from a big-box store) and in this issue I'll extend my examples into the world of IT. And of course we also have tips, tools, links and fun stuff for you in this week's issue of WServerNews, so enjoy!
The word "value" is often used in business and marketing talk, but as Wally shows in this Dilbert comic strip we often use words like this without really knowing what they mean:
Ask Our Readers - How to restore Mozilla Sunbird calendar (new question)
George from Florida send us the following request for help from our readers:
I know this doesn't come up to the corporate-level problems reported in WServerNews, but I need help finding the calendar file in Mozilla Sunbird v0.9. Twice now... after installing the Windows Rollup for February and again for March, my laptop lost my profile and booted up into a temporary one. I know how to find my old desktop, but can't figure out how to restore my Sunbird calendar (Sunbird just gives me a blank one). Where is the calendar stored?
Can anyone out there help George with his problem? Email your suggestions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask Our Readers - File Explorer hangs when creating a new folder (last word??)
Back in October in Issue #1104 Revisiting Win7 updating, Win10 annoyances, and DDoS mitigation we mentioned that a reader named Tom has been experiencing the following annoyance:
I have an issue when I have an File Explorer window open on drives in Windows 10 when telling it to create a new folder (and sometimes when re-naming) -- Explorer will hang for 1 to 4 minutes while trying to create it -- It says Non-Responding in the title bar -- then eventually it creates it. Sometimes it creates a "New Folder" folder name and not the name I told it to use. Does not matter how many Explorer windows are open -- the one being used to create a new folder just hangs for some reason. I have each Explorer in its own process.
While we published several workarounds and mitigations for this problem in subsequent newsletters, we shared last week in Issue #1123 Impact of Continuous Delivery that Tom felt he had finally resolved the issue as follows:
A while ago I wrote about Windows 10 folders being created with a 30 second to a minute or so delay and we got some suggestions on how to solve it -- none of which actually worked. However, I did find out what the root cause really is -- Zone Alarm firewall. I was having other issues with ZA 2017 with Outlook 2016 and turned it off to uninstall and try a clean install -- and whammo! No problems with folder creation at all. So, the problem is with any version of ZA since October 2016.
I expressed my kudos to Tom for persevering until he found a solution, but several readers wrote in afterwards to disagree since they were still experiencing the problem even though they weren't using ZoneAlarm:
I have been having exactly the same problem with File Explorer (File Explorer hangs when creating a new folder (closing the loop)) outlined in Vol. 22, #12 -- March 20, 2017 -- Issue #1123. Reader Tom indicated that he had tracked it down to Zone Alarm. I do not (and never had) Zone Alarm installed on any of my computers but still have the 'new folder creation hang-up' problem. Any other ideas? --Martin, Executive Director for an engineering and technology solution provider
I have this same problem, on two Windows 10 systems, trying to create a new folder across the network (it will happen both with the remote drive on which I'm trying to create the new folder being on my Windows Server 2012R2, and if the remote drive is on the other Windows 10 system). I don't have, and have never had, ZoneAlarm on my network. So it's not (only) ZoneAlarm that's causing this. Maybe there's something that ZoneAlarm does which other software also does, which causes it. I sincerely hope that someone can come up with the real root cause, because this is a big nuisance. --Jay
A reader name David who is an Information Technology Manager for a civic government in California also shared a solution he had found to this problem:
I don't think this is a ZoneAlarm issue. Microsoft admitted this was their mistake and it seems to be specifically with Windows 10 clients on Windows 2012R2 file servers, See if this KB4013429 is available to release, it fixed my issue -- described in this post:
And if you scroll down to the end of this seven month long thread in Microsoft Communities concerning this issue:
You'll find some comments indicating that "Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1607 for x64-based Systems (KB4013429)" seems to final fix the problem.
Ask Our Readers: WServerNews has almost 100,000 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 email@example.com
From the Mailbag
In Issue #1122 Reader feedback: Mac vs PC TCO we shared some of the feedback we received from our readers concerning Issue #1120 TCO: Mac vs PC where we explored the possible benefits of businesses giving users Macs to do their work instead of PCs. Mark, an Infrastructure Solution Specialist working for a UK company sent us some further feedback we felt might be helpful for any of our readers who currently have or plan to implement mixed Windows/Mac environments:
In our HO environment we have around 250 Macs as against 2250 PCs -- remote locations almost 9000 Windows Client OS devices. We use what was Casper, now JAMF Pro, for Mac management and it suits our requirements:
We are slightly stuck on MDM, we've around 1400 Windows 8.1 tablets we use what is now called Absolute DDS on and could use for all our laptops and MacBooks:
Very small iOS estate but would be nice to be able to use a common tool, however Absolute don't support it.
We also thought you'd enjoy reading Ron's thoughts as follows:
While reading the latest mailbag comments on this subject, I found it amazing how often the "Old Guy" excuse gets used to explain why certain technology isn't universally adopted by everyone. Something is just "so good", the reasoning goes, that the only possible reason everyone hasn't adopted it must be because there are all these "Old Guys" out there preventing it. I hate to shock anyone but business doesn't make decisions based on the phantom "Old Guy" network and your personal opinion isn't that compelling. I guess if you consider yourself young (which is relative by the way) then it's natural to think older people aren't as sharp as you are, even though they laid down the foundation for everything that exists up to this point. I can guarantee as time goes by you'll find yourself in the other group and probably will change your mind about their relevance. Before you ask, yes you'd consider me an "Old Guy" but I'm one that's smart enough to not attribute people that don't agree with me as being members of the "Not old enough guy" network. The thing that I find the funniest is that Apple has been around longer than the PCs and, if new/younger is better, why would someone think Apple represented the younger point of view? Also, Apple's OS is now based on a variant of *NIX which goes back even further. Just one old guy's opinion…
And now on to the main topic of this week's newsletter…
Value dilution in ITLast week's Factoid of the Week generated a lot of feedback from readers, and since we're going to be talking about value dilution in the IT sector it makes sense to start off by sharing some of that feedback. For any of you who missed reading last week's Factoid, here once again are the two personal stories I shared in it:
A more recent example of value dilution that I've observed is with a certain liquid dish soap that we use frequently in our household since it helps us clean up greasy pots and pans much better than any other liquid soap that's currently available at our local grocery store. Well at least the product used to cut thru grease well. It still does actually, but over the last few years the liquid in the bottle seems to have gotten runnier (less viscous) which means we now have to use more of it to get the same amount of grease-cleaning effect. I can't actually confirm this to be true because I haven't measured the viscosity of the soap repeatedly over several years (or its effect per gram of grease per ml of soap liquid) but based on my casual observation (being the one who often does the cleanup after dinner) I do feel that my favorite kitchen grease-remover has gradually gotten less powerful while the label on the soap bottle seems to have become ever more insistent concerning the marvelous grease-cutting capabilities of their new and improved formula. Maybe the soap's chemical composition is being altered by the company in response to increasingly tighter environmental regulations? Perhaps, but what use is it to say it now has "50% more power" when I have to use 50 or 100% more of it to get the same result? Well this is just my own personal opinion anyways and is not based on scientific measurement, and in the meantime we're still sold on using this liquid dish soap as there doesn't seem to be anything better easily available on the market. But this example of value dilution is probably not as annoying as Cadbury repeatedly shrinking the size of a box of Roses. Why not keep the box size the same size and just up the price?
That last example by Greg is a classic one of value dilution where the quality of the product gradually decreases over time (though I suspect with window blinds the price has actually increased not decreased over time).
Anyways, all these responses got me thinking whether there are any clear examples of value dilution happening in the IT industry. My first thought was "Nah, basic IT technology like PCs, laptops and smartphones have been getting faster and more powerful while also getting cheaper, so you're getting more value for your money, not less. And IT services like hosted email and cloud storage are also giving you more and more for your money." But then I thought about it some more and came up with the following examples of value dilution:
1. Many laptops and tablets no longer have replaceable batteries and as a result they probably have less long-term value than the previous generation of similar devices had. In other words, are you really getting better value if the devices you're purchasing are disposable throwaways?
2. Laptops with SSD instead of HDD storage may sound like better value since they perform better but there can be significant differences in reliability and endurance capability between consumer-class SSDs and enterprise-class SSDs. The charts in this post on the StorMagic Blog from last year illustrates these differences:
3. Just as twist-ties seem to be getting thinner and more flimsy, so do the hinges on some laptops. Here are some examples of users complaints about this issue with Sony, Fujitsu, Lenovo and Apple laptops:
4. Even servers aren't immune to manufacturing quality issues. For example, several years ago I needed another server so I bought a Dell PowerEdge tower model and while it had a nice solid metal case that weight a tonne, the power on/off button was made of plastic and after only a few months service I powered it off and the plastic power button broke and fell off the machine. As a result I had to use a pencil to push the power contact to turn the machine on or off from then on. Now why build a solid unit and use cheap materials for the power switch? I sometimes pine for the days of my youth when toggle switches required effort to flip and responded with a nice "click" when you flipped them…
5. And as far as cloud services are concerned, yes it's terrific how much quality and value you can get for low monthly cost but what about support? The quality of the support personnel (in terms of how well they're trained and can communicate) definitely seems to have been steadily declining for years--and not just for cloud services but also for hardware and software vendors. Maybe not for all vendors, but the major ones especially--HP, Lenovo, even Apple and Microsoft--seem to have fewer people you can talk to who actually seem to know how to help customers. It's like my story of buying a stand-up fan from WalMart because it was a few dollars cheaper than a similar fan from Sears, but when I opened the box the power cord was ridiculously short. You purchase a product from an IHV or ISV or hoster only to discover that the support they provide is not what you had anticipated.
These are just a few of what comes to mind when I think about value dilution in the field of IT technology and services. Do any of you readers have similar examples you can share from your own observations? Send your feedback to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Recommended for Learning
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Microsoft Virtual Academy
What's New and Improved in Visual Studio 2017
Looking forward to the latest improvements in Visual Studio? The wait is over! Join Scott Peterson for a look at the exciting updates in this 20th anniversary edition. As Scott points out, every release of Visual Studio has come with major productivity enhancements and analysis and debugging tool advancements (and more), and Visual Studio 2017 is no exception. From faster installation to new and improved code navigation, IntelliSense, code refactoring, publishing, and debugging, Visual Studio 2017 boasts a wealth of new features—based on industry trends and developer needs—for increasing productivity and enhancing code quality. Get a fast start on the newest version of Visual Studio in this demo-rich session.
Factoid of the Week
Last week's factoid and question was this:
Cadbury's Roses chocolate boxes have shrunk for the fourth time in as many years. What's the most annoying example of "value dilution" (or whatever you want to call this marketing phenomenon) that you have personally experienced?
See the main editorial of this issue for reader responses to this question.
Now let's move on to this week's factoid:
Fact: Per head of population, Britain has 13 times as many accountants as Germany.
Question: Why do you think that is? Is it a good or a bad thing? And what profession in Germany are there many more professionals than in Britain?
Email your answer to us at: 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
Enterprise Policy Management Framework is a reporting solution on the state of the enterprise against a desired state defined in a policy and can be extended to all SQL Server instances in the enterprise:
SPF Record Testing Tools are meant to help you deploy SPF records for your domain:
FastAdmin lets you remotely monitor and manage Windows computers and servers in your Active Directory domain:
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Android devices - Kiosk Mode
I recently wrote an article for TechGenix.com titled "Windows kiosk mode: 5 solutions you should know about" which you can read here:
A commenter to that article gave the following suggestion for businesses that might need a mobile device management (MDM) solution for Android devices:
Thanks for recommending these kiosks apps/software. I would like to add
It can work as a replacement to traditional MDM solutions. Manage & control company-owned Android devices at a fraction of the cost of a traditional Android MDM solution. Keep sharing such informative posts.
Windows - Data recovery software
Also on TechGenix.com is an article I wrote called "To the rescue: Disk recovery tools and services" which is published here:
A reader named Oliver commented on this article and suggested some data recovery software they had been using:
Nice to see that you have written about a best data recovery tool in your post. I have a 1 TB hard drive and have lost some of my critical files from it. So, I searched online and found Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery Professional:
The software, which I have seen in this link is amazing, and it works efficiently for me. I would also like to thank you for introducing some other good tools too.
Windows 10 - System Restore failing
I recently had a driver issue with a Windows 10 laptop and tried using System Restore to return my system to an earlier configuration--and it didn't work! System Restore was unable to complete its task for some reason. Eventually I found a way to resolve my problem using another approach (ugh) but the failure of System Restore to work properly was definitely an eye-opener for me. Well it turns out that others have been complaining about System Restore failing in Windows 10 as the following Microsoft Community thread indicates:
If you plan on relying on System Restore as a last-ditch resolution technique, you may want to bookmark that thread and see how things develop.
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This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Golf Trick Shots
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WServerNews - Editors
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.