Sep 12 2010

It’s just a Cloud….part 1

Published by Keith under "The Guru of Smooth"

   When you look to the sky and see the clouds what do you see?

I know the answer is open to interpretation but if you are a Geek like me you see a world of possibilities but not without a bit of careful planning and caution. Cloud Computing seems to be the on the forefront of innovative ideas in technology but we have been using it in a limited form for many years.

Cloud Computing is IP based computing that allows the sharing of resources: software, documents, other forms of information to computers and other devices (i.e. smart phones) on demand. The documents are simply saved to servers located at a central provider’s location and shared to other users you choose with permission you set.  The provider maintains the infrastructure, backups, etc.. And most of these services are free.

Two of the biggest hitters in the game, Microsoft and Google (my favorite by the way) have taken the sharing of documents and information to the next level and still moving with it. Microsoft has a product called Office live and of course Google has Google Docs. I have setup accounts with both but truly I have only dedicated my time to one, Google Docs. Since I have given the majority of my time to Google Docs, that’s the one I am going to discuss first. I do plan to evaluate Office live in the near future but it all comes down to free time to test.

Google Docs allows you to save your documents, spreadsheets, power point, etc…. to Google servers associated with your Gmail account and share them to other Gmail users. They also have the ability to collaborate and make changes and additions to these documents for you and other team members to see. Google docs is available with a personal Gmail account and there is also a Google Business version of Google docs that allows you to use your own domain name with the setup allowing you to transition or use your Gmail account as your primary e-mail using that domain name. I currently have a Google Business account and use it daily several times a day. I am able to connect using my Blackberry and the techs are able to connect using Android without fail.  Now we are able to share info, tech docs, and inventory spreadsheets on the fly and update using our smart phones saving invaluable time and moving all of us one step closer to using a smart device as our primary tool for connectivity and productivity.

Along with the ability to share information we also have the ability to share calendars as well as sync in real-time to those calendars using Google sync. No more data cables. I add the appointment to my phone and sync pushes it to my Google calendar and as well I use Outlook on my office PC ( because old habits are hard to break ) so I simply installed the Google sync tool on my PC and now I can have those same calendar entries pushed to my Outlook client. These are the same tools that we have relied on Exchange servers to do for us for years. And yes we had the capability to sync our Windows Mobile phone but we were limited to only Exchange and Exchange Active sync. Now we are free to use Blackberry, Android and even iPhones. And if you have ever had to setup an iPhone for Exchange connectivity, you had your skills cut out for you getting this to happen.

All in all, Cloud Computing using such tools as Google docs is defiantly worth the time to investigate but head this warning, It is imperative for you to take the time to sit down and evaluate how you want to use these tools and what types of information you will be making available to the cloud, Security is always a concern in Cloud computing just as it is in a Client-Server environment. They all have their Pros and Cons. You need to keep in mind that these documents exist on public IP servers. While Google and other companies go to great lengths to secure their infrastructures there still is a need for careful planning and policies as it is related to the Cloud and what type of data your will make available up there. The last thing you need is to make Trade Secrets available to someone waiting to crack your code and your check book to get your invaluable information, so plan wisely.

Next week I will be giving you a little more in depth view of Google docs..Stay Tuned..

230 responses so far

Mar 14 2010

OTA Blackberry Sync

Published by Keith under "The Guru of Smooth"

For a while I have been looking at different ways to sync my Blackberry with my Outlook client in real-time and a way to do it without using the data cable. There are some new ways to do this that you may want to look into. Now I used to maintain my own Exchange server at my Office but the servers we use are also used for testing different client/server applications and I found that with all the time I have tied up in administering my clients Exchange environments, I didn’t have the desire to maintain my own for less than twenty users and every time we would make a drastic change to the server I had my work cut out for me to keep Exchange running. So I have since moved the mail back to the webhost and do the normal POP routine to gather mail. As well, I have the Blackberry’s setup to do the Blackberry sync for mail.

Now this works well as Mail synchronization isn’t a big deal for me. I only use the Blackberry to read mail for the most part and at the office my Outlook clients download it as well. I would however like to sync a calendar and contacts and do this in real-time and I have found several different solutions that may work for you and here they are.

If you have an Exchange server you may already be using Blackberry Enterprise Server to keep your Blackberry users in sync with Exchange but this option can be pricey for some small businesses. As well it takes more that the average geek to setup and maintain this server.  Blackberry now offers Enterprise Server Express free of charge and there are no License fees involved. Nice price right? This is an excellent solution to keep your blackberry mobile users hooked up in real-time to your Exchange server. The system requirements vary depending on your deployment and how many users you need to setup so read the Blackberry Enterprise Server Express System Requirements here. As well, I recommend that you have more than basic knowledge of Microsoft Exchange and a good handle on this type of deployment before proceeding. 

The other option you can look at if you just need basic syncing of your calendar and contacts is a product called OfficeCalendar made by Lookout Software. This solution allows you to use the Outlook Client and share your Calendar, Contacts, and Task List with other users on your network without the need of an Exchange server. As well they now offer Blackberry support that allows Near Real-time sync via your Blackberry data plan to sync contacts and calendars. This requires that you setup an online sync account with OfficeCalendar that acts as the middle man for your Outlook Client and your Blackberry Smartphone.  Your Outlook will sync your calendar and contacts with the online account and your Blackberry Smartphone will sync with the same online account passing the info both ways in near real-time. The cost is around $99.00 for a 1-4 user license for the server and $27 for the required Premium maintenance plan to use the online sync. As well there is a one-time fee for the blackberry license of $49.95 as of this writing. I have set a few of these up for Small Businesses that have less than 10 users and cannot justify the cost of an Exchange Server and it works very well for the price.

And last but not least there is Google and the pretty impressive Google Sync. Now Google is now offering Business services that they charge for but they also have a free version that works very well and it works like this. You will need to establish a Gmail account to act as the middle man and you should have a backup e-mail account anyway. After you do this you can download the Google sync client and install it on your computer and set it up to sync your Calendar and Contacts to the Gmail account. You then simply download the Mobile Sync client to your Blackberry device and install it and set it up to sync with your Gmail account. That’s it, in near real-time the sync takes place and the Outlook client and the Blackberry device will be in sync with each other and the cost is free..

I am currently testing the Google Sync and as of this writing have only had it running a few days so stay tuned for more on this..

Till next time..

276 responses so far

Nov 01 2009

Save The Internet

Published by Keith under "The Guru of Smooth"

If your half the Geek you think your are, You need to know about this……

282 responses so far

Nov 01 2009

Blackerry Tour

Published by Keith under "The Guru of Smooth"

Well, I finally got the Blackberry Tour and I like it. It feels really good to have a real keyboard again although it is taking my thumb time to get used to it again. As for features the Tour has the same O.S. as my Storm and the same features for the most part. I have added a few new apps but haven’t gone overboard as of yet. This was definitelya major improvement in my day to day switching from the storm. I do believe though that if the iPhone makes it to Verizon, I will bite on that one..Till Then….

304 responses so far

Jul 12 2009

Waiting to go on Tour!

Published by Keith under "The Guru of Smooth"

Don’t let the heading fool you, If we could turn back the clock about 12 years it might apply to something band related but since I have been retired for some time, It applies to Blackberry……Yes the Blackberry Tour. I woke up this morning much anticipating the opportunity to own this cool new toy from the folks at RIM but, I have to wait one more day. Let me start from the beginning.

I am a Blackberry user and proud of it. I am also the owner of a Blackberry Storm that I am not so proud of. I even got the storm on the day they came out which “just happened to be my birthday” and thought that I had purchased a Blackberry that would carry me for the next few years. Man, was I wrong about that one. I have had the Storm for over seven months and while it has served me it has also given me a bit of hassle to go with it. I won’t go into detail on the Storm as most of you have either experienced it yourself or read about it in many blogs and forums. So I called Verizon several times regarding these issues and they agreed that when the Tour showed it’s face on July 12th, I was entitled to one at Two Pricing rather than full retail. That was fair enough for me as I only wanted a dependable Blackberry that I could be productive with without resetting or waiting on it to make it’s mind up. So after discussing this with Verizon Customer Service and the Rep marking my account as such ” That I was entitled to this phone at Two Year Pricing without Question or Hassle” I awoke with a Gleam in my Eye and hopes of getting my new Tour! Well, The folks at the local Verizon Retail Store had other plans for me.

Now, I made up my mind sometime back that if i wanted to keep my stress level at a minimum and did not want to loose my cool, avoiding the Verizon Retail store was the best thing i could ever do. And so i have conducted most of my business either online or calling Verizon direct and i have had very good success with this. But sometimes, you just have to tempt yourself and that little voice starts speaking to you telling you, don’t wait, Go to the Verizon Store and get it now……MISTAKE! Long story short, after speaking with one young lady this morning, she advised me that my account was not noted as such that I was entitled to an upgrade at discount pricing and I would have to pay full retail. I left and went and bought a cup of coffee and called Verizon. They assured me that my account was noted as such and that they would speak to the Rep for me. So I head back over to the ” Dealership ” to wait my turn in line to speak to the “next available Salesman” all while the Verizon Rep on the phone waited patiently with me. About 20 minutes for those of you keeping score at home. I make it up to the counter finally and explain my case to the lady behind the console and hand her my phone so she can speak with the Rep on the phone. She throws my phone down on the counter ask a few questions, pulls my account info and tells me I am not entitled to an upgrade then picks up my phone has a 5 minute conversation with the online Rep, Tells her that she would only replace my current Storm if I was dissatisfied but would not give me a Tour at Two pricing. All while I listen and get just a little angry. Now I know my wife is in Church, and must have been praying for me because it took all i had not to snatch this lady by her collar and shake her.. Long story short, I didn’t get the Tour from the Local Store, However, As always, the folks at Verizon did me right and shipped me a Brand New Tour today and it will arrive tomorrow all for 149.99.

So now that I have ranted enough, I will let you now how it works when I get it. In the meantime, If you ever have to walk into a Local Verizon Retail Store, I feel for you.

254 responses so far

Jun 14 2009

Testing Testing

Published by admin under Uncategorized

I wanted to test my WordPress App for the iPhone. This is just too cool. I can’t wait for Verizon to get the iPhone. I’ll say so long to blackberry forever (just kidding).

252 responses so far

Mar 29 2009

VirtualBox and Ubuntu

Published by Keith under "The Guru of Smooth"

I recently took the time to download ubuntu and decided I wanted to test drive it. I am a sucker for different Operating Systems and this was up my alley. Now I run Microsoft Virtual PC and have been somewhat pleased with it although (I do think that VMWare does a little better job), but, I use Virtual PC quite a bit in order to run legacy software and for testing. So I download ubuntu and started on my journey to install it via VPC and low and behold, it kinda just stopped during boot up and stayed there. Puzzled about this I started searching “The Google” to find out what was going on. Isn’t amazing how well connected we are in this world? Anything you want to know about you can just search it out on the WWW. Anyway, I found that VPC seems to have an issue with the default boot settings on the video side of ubuntu, as for that the handling of the video on VPC is one of it’s biggest downfalls for any program. So I tried a few command line changes that were suggested from the Pirate King and bamm I got it working. So I install and reboot and it just stops again……Hmmm….Puzzled I am…..So I read on and I see a post that strikes my attention. Sun Microsystems has a little piece of software pleasure called VirtualBox. Now I have heard about it and read about it but never had the time or need for that matter to test drive it, Until now..I downloaded it, installed it and set up all the required first time Virtual requirements and boom, pointed to my ubuntu .iso, hit start and it took off like a rocket. We have Success…Installed and running with our any command line changes to ubuntu. So if you haven’t taken the time to look it over, do yourself a favor and try it. You will like it. Oh, and it handles video like no body’s business along with 3D acceleration..

263 responses so far

Mar 20 2009

I Think I’m Back…….

Published by Keith under "The Guru of Smooth"

Well, it has been forever (I Think) since I have dusted off the typing keyboard and posted something. The idea with this blog was to stay up on it and try post something worth while every so often but I have been busy mending ans tending the fences so to speak so it just hasn’t worked out very well…..But, I have a few things to add and hopefully will get it done. 

I have been reliving some of the old days the past week (In my spare few minutes a day) looking at some old BBS systems that are running here and there. I also setup my BBS I had running a few years ago again and actually enjoyed using it even though there is not much on there as of yet. If you have a chance, go to and check it out, sign-up and say hey.. To get the full effect you should Telnet or Terminal Emulate it however, the web site works too. The package is Synchronet and it really is the coolest BBS out there for running in a Win32 enviroment (My Opinion). Check it Out……Till Next Time…

262 responses so far

Aug 13 2008

I have pfSense

Published by Keith under "The Guru of Smooth"

I have been searching for some time for an affordable Firewall solution for clients that would’nt break the bank or budget. Now, I may be behind the times a bit but most of you understand that when you are busy keeping systems running, you seldom have time or energy to sit down and research at your own free-will.

But, I found a Open Source package called pfSense that has opened my eyes a little more regarding Open Source software. I have to admit that being behind that Microsoft gun for as long as I have, My way of thinking has been a bit on the one track side of life. Open Source software used to be the farthest thing from any solution I would consider. And as for Firewalls, I have always leaned towards turn key hardware. But as I get older, wiser and more fed up with the ” New and Improved Microsoft products”, I am starting to realize that there is actually more to life than just Microsoft. And a better way to provide a Firewall and VPN solution that does not cost thousands of dollars.

But enough ranting, pfSense is an Open Source package built on Free BSD. It will support running from CD, USB Thumb Drive and can be installed directly to the Hard Drive. It took me all of 10 minutes to install and configure for “out of the box” use and I have to admit that it packs a punch. A Big Punch! and the best part of it all….I am running it on a P3 system with 512 meg of ram, two network cards and it runs flawless and fast. It supports NAT, VPN flavors of PPTP, IPSec and Open VPN, DHCP, Stateful Packet Inspection and you can set very granular rule sets, Just to mention a few of it’s capabilities. Oh, did I mention it supports Fail Over connections too?? I have tested in a few enviroments and pfSense has performed with 4 and 3/4 stars and the 1/4 that is left I am saving for later…….Stay Tuned and if you are looking for an Enterprise Firewall solution that doesn’t choke under pressure or your bandwidth, Check out pfSense.

244 responses so far

Jul 09 2008

Affordable File Sync (SyncToy)

Published by Keith under "The Guru of Smooth"




For those of you looking for an affordable way to syncronize files between file shares on a network or even to a External Hard Drive for backup, Look no more.. Microsoft has a cool and free way to pull it off using the SyncToy. The newest version is SyncToy v2.0 beta and it works really well. Visit the Microsoft Download site, or (Click Here) to download and try it out. You won’t be sorry.

248 responses so far

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