Archive for December, 2010

MSDN: Creating databases in Visual Basic

Monday, December 27th, 2010

The Microsoft Developer Network is a pretty valuable resource for anyone looking for answers regarding Microsoft programming concepts, tips, tutorials, even platform-specific error resolution and workarounds.  For SQL newbies looking to hone their skills, you may find this MSDN video introduction to Visual Basic database creation helpful.  Enjoy…

 

New IBM memory promises faster, higher-capacity devices

Monday, December 27th, 2010

A new kind of memory from IBM Labs is promising to revolutionize how much data we can store and how fast we can access it on our mobile and desktop devices.

After spending six years as a theoretical concept, the memory, dubbed Racetrack, finally is a huge step closer to reality. Researchers at IBM have recently confirmed that their theories of the physics behind Racetrack are valid and can be used to develop and manufacture this new type of memory.

Images of a racetrack designed to pin domain walls at specific positions.

This revolutionary type of memory could open up a whole new world for laptops, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Users would be able to store as much as 100 more times data on their portable gadgets, perhaps keeping as many as 500,000 songs or 3,500 full-length movies on one mobile device. And since Racetrack would use considerably less power, a single battery charge could power a device for weeks rather than days or hours.

The new memory is also expected to play a role in desktop computers and servers, allowing them to access more data much faster. In some ways, Racetrack combines the best elements of flash memory and magnetic storage and could prove to be the one technology to someday replace current RAM, Flash RAM, and even conventional disk drives.

How does Racetrack work? Unlike conventional memory, which needs to seek out the data it needs, Racetrack automatically moves the data to where it can be used. That serves to not only speed up data access but allow much more data to be stored in a smaller area.

The memory is so named because it moves the magnetic bits of data along thin, nanowire “racetracks,” 1,000 times finer than a strand of hair.

The data itself is stored in magnetic regions known as domains. Using the spin of individual electrons, Racetrack memory can move these domains at hundreds of miles per hour and stop them at atomically precise spots along the nanowire, allowing huge amounts of information to be retrieved in less than a billionth of a second.

Scientists at IBM were the first to measure the time and distance involved in moving these domain walls, giving them a clearer understanding of how to control their movement, thus transforming Racetrack from research into reality.

A paper due to be published today in Science Magazine reveals more of the physics behind this new form of memory. CNET spoke today with Stuart Parkin, the head researcher on the Racetrack project, to explain how it works and how it might be used.

For the past several years, Parkin and other scientists at IBM Labs have been conducting research into the physics behind Racetrack, eventually proving that the memory is more than just a concept and is something that would work in the real world. Recent developments in the field of spintronics, which focuses on the spin of electrons, is what allows for the movement of the bits along the nanowires in Racetrack memory, explained Parkin. That opens up the ability to read and write more data very quickly at specific points along those wires.

Experimental racetrack made of a curved nanowire. Electrical contact lines, made out of gold, are used to apply current pulses to move the domain walls along the nanowire.

With Racetrack memory, manufacturers could build laptops, smartphones, and other devices with considerably more memory in the same or even smaller amount of space than currently required, according to Parkin. Racetrack would also require far less battery power and could be used to read and write data an infinite number of times. In contrast, Flash memory is a slow type of memory, uses a lot of power, and can only handle the writing of data so many times before it wears out.

“So the average user would see their iPhone much faster,” Parkin said. “The battery would last much longer. And they would be able to do much more complex and powerful computations because this type of memory is capable of supporting ultra-fast manipulation of the data.”

Racetrack memory can also be written to indefinitely, said Parkin. Since there’s no intrinsic mechanism to wear out, Racetrack can manage much more complex calculations and functions that typically require a large number of data reads and writes.

Now that the physics have been proved and demonstrated, the next challenge for IBM is to begin building prototypes. But Racetrack is a whole new shift in the paradigm of memory architecture, and one that will require new physics and new materials. As such, the question for Parkin is one of demonstrating that billions of Racetracks can be integrated with and built onto large wafers, which will be required to make devices at a low enough cost.

“That’s something that will take considerable investment,” said Parkin. “And these kinds of steps can be quite time-consuming. Now that we are at the development phase, it’s more a question of obtaining this significant investment to build the prototypes quickly.”

Source:  news.cnet.com

Survey: People can’t live without high-speed Internet

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

High-speed Internet is the technology that’s had the greatest impact on society and the one that people say they can’t live without, according to survey results from Zogby Interactive.

Released this week, Zogby’s study found that 28 percent of those polled tagged broadband Internet as the one technology they can’t live without; e-mail came in second at 18 percent. Facebook was lower on the overall list at only 3 percent, but among the younger crowd (18-24), 15 percent said they can’t live without Facebook.

Looking at technologies that have had the greatest impact on society over the past 10 years, 24 percent named high-speed Internet, followed closely by Facebook at 22 percent. Google came in third at 10 percent.

The results also varied based on gender and age.

Women and adults under 55 tagged Facebook as having the most impact, while men and those over 55 pointed to high-speed Internet. Adults between 35 and 54 were split pretty evenly between the two. People from 18-24 found Facebook the most impactful technology of the past decade, with Google in second place.

Zogby also asked people to gaze into the future to offer predictions for the next year and the next decade.

Many (24 percent of those polled) believe the greatest technological advancements for 2011 will be in home entertainment, with general computing in second place.

Looking further down the road, 43 percent of those surveyed believe science will make regular use of stem cells and cloning to create human organs for transplant by the year 2020. Forty percent think that computer chips will be implanted in people to monitor their health. The same percentage expect robots to be able to perform manual labor jobs. And 36 percent see virtual reality making its way into home entertainment by the end of the decade.

To compile the study, Zogby polled 1,950 adults from December 8 through December 10.

 

Source:  CNET

Microsoft Hardware for Business 5-packs provide significant cost savings over retail

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Purchasing retail peripherals that long ago should have been standard includes with a new workstation purchase – such as wireless mice and keyboards and other must-haves – for your employees can really take a chunk out of your operating budget.  Even a lower-end wireless desktop will cost around $50 at a local retailer.  Multiply that by the number of employees, and suddenly you’re no longer able to afford name brand sodas for the breakroom.  Tragic, really….

Which is why Microsoft is offering 5-packs of its peripherals to businesses.  Now you can purchase five wireless desktops for the price of three, and so on.  Just google the part number you’re interested in from the table below, and you’ll find a Microsoft reseller who can save you a bundle.

Keyboards & Desktop Sets
Products Key Feature Quantity Part Number
Wireless
Wireless Desktop 3000 2.4GHz 5 NYD-00001
Wired
Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 Ergonomics 5 B2M-00015
Natural Keyboard Elite Ergonomics 5 A13-00002
Digital Media Desktop 3000 Quiet-touch keys 5 NXD-00001
Comfort Curve Desktop 2000 Ergonomics 5 NWD-00001
Wired Desktop 400 Plug and play 5 EYD-00001
Wired Keyboard 200 – Black Plug and play 5 NZD-00001
Wired Keyboard 200 – White Plug and play 5 NZD-00027
Mouse Products
Products Key Feature Quantity Part Number
Wireless
Wireless Mouse 1000 Optical Technology 5 3RF-00004
Bluetooth® Notebook Mouse 5000 Transceiver Free 5 NRD-00001
Wireless Mobile Mouse 1000 10-month Battery Life 5 2CF-00001
Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 BlueTrack Nano 5 NSD-00001
Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse 3000 27MHz 5 62Z-00033
Wired
Comfort Mouse 4500 Customizable Buttons 5 J3F-00004
IntelliMouse® Explorer Tilt Wheel 5 B75-00094
IntelliMouse® Optical (White) 5-button 5 D58-00028
IntelliMouse® Optical (White) 5-button 50 D58-00047
IntelliMouse® Optical (Black) 5-button 5 D58-00066
Wheel Mouse Optical 3-button 5 D66-00066
Basic Optical Mouse (White) Plug and Play 5 P58-00032
Basic Optical Mouse (Black) Plug and Play 5 P58-00027
Compact Optical Mouse 500 Plug and Play 5 NQD-00001
Optical Mouse 200 (Black) Optical Technology 5 NTD-00006
Optical Mouse 200 (White) Optical Technology 5 NTD-00005
Webcams – Optimized for Microsoft® Lync™
Products Key Feature Quantity Part Number
LifeCam Cinema 50Hz 720p HD Widescreen 60 U9D-00002
LifeCam Cinema 60Hz 720p HD Widescreen 60 U9D-00001
LifeCam Show Ultra-thin 5 N4D-00001
LifeCam Show 60Hz Ultra-thin 50 RLA-00008
LifeCam Show 50Hz Ultra-thin 50 RLA-00009
LifeCam VX-5000 Flexible Stand 5 N3D-00001
LifeCam VX-5000 50Hz (Red) Flexible Stand 80 RKA-00025
LifeCam VX-5000 50Hz (Blue) Flexible Stand 80 RKA-00026
LifeCam VX-2000 50Hz Built-In Microphone 50 3PF-00002
LifeCam VX-2000 60Hz Built-In Microphone 50 3PF-00001
Gaming
Products Key Feature Quantity Part Number
SideWinder X3 Mouse Programmable Buttons 5 N2D-00001

Free Microsoft Security Essentials for Small Businesses

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Small-business owners have a lot to think about. With inventory, payroll, customer service, facilities and all the other details of running a company, the last thing they need is to lose productivity or sales because of a virus or malware infection.

“Small-business owners just want to concentrate on running the business, without worrying about PCs going down,” says Jeff Smith, director of Marketing for Microsoft Security Essentials. “We talk to lots of small-business customers every day, and we understand that security is a top priority.”

The problem is, most security products for the business world were designed with larger companies in mind. From a small company’s perspective, high-end security suites are an unwieldy technology to manage — complicated, expensive and time-intensive.

“For small-business owners, just getting the business up and running is a full-time job,” Smith says.

For this reason, Microsoft is announcing that beginning in early October, Microsoft Security Essentials will become free to use for organizations with up to 10 PCs.

Originally released last year for single-PC use at home, Microsoft Security Essentials was designed as a comprehensive security solution in a lightweight package. Smith says a growing chorus of requests prompted Microsoft to extend the service to small businesses.

“When we launched Microsoft Security Essentials last year, small businesses kept telling us that it was exactly the type of thing they need at work too,” says Smith. “What they really wanted from their antivirus software — inexpensive, quiet protection from a provider they can trust — were all things Microsoft Security Essentials could clearly deliver.”

Smith says Microsoft Security Essentials can be downloaded, installed and put to work with just a few clicks. Upon installation, it scans the PC to make sure it’s clean from the start. Once Microsoft Security Essentials is working, it downloads updates and schedules scans on its own.

Over the past year, the product has won awards and certifications from a number of independent agencies, such as ICSA Labs, West Coast Labs and PC Advisor, and last January, PC Advisor named Microsoft Security Essentials to its list of the “Best Free Software.”

Says Smith: “This is a full-featured, top-tier security solution that we’re offering to small businesses for free. You don’t need a credit card. It requires no registration, no trials, no renewals. It doesn’t collect any credit card information. It runs well on older hardware. It’s easy to use, easy to get, and it’s from a trusted source. Basically, Microsoft Security Essentials just works.”

But if the product is so successful, why offer it for free? According to Microsoft’s internal research, although 80 percent of PC owners in the U.S. say they have the most up-to-date antivirus protection, in reality only half that many actually do. Often they have signed up for free trials or subscription-based services that have lapsed. Others are just using outdated versions of security software on older hardware.

Smith says these issues become more dramatic in developing economies, where not everyone has a credit card or broadband network access to download large files.

“We want the entire Windows ecosystem to be secure,” says Smith. “By making Microsoft Security Essentials so broadly available, everyone wins. And we think small-business owners are going to be really happy with what they get. This is just what the market needed.”

Microsoft Security Essentials is now available in 74 markets worldwide and 25 languages. To learn more about Microsoft Security Essentials and download the product for free, visit http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/.

Source:  microsoft.com

Microsoft, Dell land big fish in USDA cloud services contract

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Chalk up another win for Microsoft cloud services in its battle against Google’s Apps for Business offering:  the USDA announced yesterday that it is moving its 120,000-plus users to Microsoft’s online communications and productivity suite.

Six months of planning between the Federal agency, Microsoft and Dell culminated in the move, expected to take place over the next month.  Citing the “maturity” of current cloud services as a major incentive, the USDA promised that “flexible, scalable services delivered over the internet” would “allow us to streamline our operations and help us use taxpayer dollars more efficiently.”  So you can thank the USDA – at least in part –  for your next tax refund….

In any event, the competition is really heating up between Microsoft and Google, and with Microsoft reeling in the first cabinet-level Federal agency to commit to the cloud, it can claim a commanding lead.

What about your company?  Are cloud-based services right for you?  Contact Gyver Networks today to find out which options best suit your needs.

Microsoft Invites Salesforce.com Customers to Give Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online a Try

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Microsoft has issued an ‘Open Letter’ to Salesforce.com customers inviting them to switch to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

The letter was posted in the Western regional edition of today’s Wall Street Journal, complemented by a news release, and coincided with the start of Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce.com customer conference. With the letter, Microsoft aims to convince attendees that its customer relationship management (CRM) solution offers more value, said Jamie Fiorda, group product marketing manager for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

“We need to aggressively get the word out and inform customers that they have a choice. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is a great solution to consider,” said Jamie Fiorda, group product marketing manager for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “It’s important that we communicate the value of our product, and how we differentiate on productivity.”

In the letter, Michael Park, corporate vice president of sales, marketing, and operations, Microsoft Business Solutions, encourages Salesforce.com customers to ask themselves:

  • In this economy, how can I justify paying two to three times more for an enterprise CRM system than I need to?*
  • Having access to the most up-to-date information is critical to my business; why doesn’t Salesforce.com provide real-time access to data and dashboards, refreshed whenever I need it like Microsoft does?
  • Microsoft works great with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office; why does Salesforce.com want me to start from scratch when it comes to productivity tools for my people?

As part of the letter, Microsoft announced a “Cloud CRM for Less” offer. Now through June 30, 2011, Microsoft will rebate eligible Salesforce.com and Oracle customers up to $200 for each user to make the switch to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The offer can be applied for services such as migrating data or customizing the solution to meet unique business needs. Full terms and conditions can be found at CloudCRMforLess.com.

“Customers are looking for increased user productivity, better integration with existing tools and technologies, and more flexibility and affordability when it comes to their CRM systems,” Fiorda said. “We want them to consider Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. Customers who have made the switch to Microsoft have increased sales performance, boosted customer satisfaction and improved marketing effectiveness.”

He said thousands of companies, including Century Payments, Data Reduction Systems, and IGH Solutions have found that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is easier to use, adds value to the technology investments they’ve already made, and delivers greater business insight. Stories have been appearing for weeks at DontGetForced.com, where Microsoft customers share how they’re benefiting from Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

For example, Data Reduction Systems, an information management solutions company, saved more than 50 percent in user costs and reached 100 percent user adoption after switching to Microsoft, said Marc Chester, the company’s vice president of business development.

“Microsoft Dynamics CRM has really made our lives easier over here,” Chester said. “It’s nicely integrated into Office, and that means that all the things we used to do manually now take seconds. That’s what made us believers and is the reason why we chose the solution.”

Saving customers money is a key pillar of Microsoft’s value proposition with Microsoft Dynamics CRM – mid-sized and enterprise businesses in particular have reported significant savings when they switch from Salesforce.com’s premium offering, Fiorda said. But cost savings isn’t the only benefit.

For IGH Solutions, a specialist in cutting-edge printing techniques, one of the biggest draws to Microsoft Dynamics CRM was its ease of integration, said Drew Climer, business technical specialist for IGH.

“Salesforce.com could not integrate with our back-end, and we struggled to share customer data,” Climer said. “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we can take our reports, Excel sheets, and apps and combine them into a centralized tool under Outlook. We’ve put CRM at the center of our IT business systems infrastructure.”

Because employees were already familiar with Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Dynamics CRM was able to increase efficiency instantly, he said.

Climer also said that Microsoft Dynamics CRM was a solution that offered businesses the flexibility to meet their needs – not the other way around. “More often than not, you have to develop your business processes around your technology solutions,” he said. “Microsoft Dynamics CRM works with you while serving as a solid foundation. I’ve worked with CRM solutions for 15 years, and this is the best tool out there.”

Fiorda expressed confidence that the upcoming release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 will put Microsoft in an even better competitive position against Salesforce.com. Chester, whose company has been testing the beta of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, agreed.

“Out of the box it offers even more than what 4.0 has, which we’re still using and pleased with,” he said. So I’d say to someone looking for a CRM solution right now, ‘You’re coming on board at the right time.’ The interoperability is really great, the application looks and feels like Microsoft Office, and the user experience is going to be one your employees will embrace.”

*Comparison based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online versus Salesforce.com Enterprise Edition.

Source: Microsoft.com

GAO report cites wireless network vulnerabilities at various government agencies

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

In a  recent report on Information Security requested by OMB to augment one originally released in 2005, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) detailed security vulnerabilities at a number of Federal agencies.  Some reasons for the lapses included:

  • Many agencies used a decentralized structure for management of wireless, limiting the potential standardization that centralized management can provide, and guidance on centralization is limited
  • The five agencies where we did detailed testing … had numerous weaknesses in laptop and smartphone configurations
  • Most agencies were missing key elements related to wireless security in their security awareness training
  • Many agencies had insufficient practices for monitoring or conducting security assessments

While the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the entity charged with developing the security standards to which Federal agencies are held, has provided what the report terms “guidelines and leading practices,” it goes on to acknowledge that “gaps existed in these policies, particularly with respect to dual-connected laptops and use of mobile devices in international travel” – in other words, when there is the greatest degree of risk.

Additionally, agencies are slow to take advantage of more recent, more secure wireless technologies available.  The report specifically lists LTE, WiMAX, 802.11n and 802.11w as technologies government agencies should consider in order to ensure a secure wireless deployment.

The report sums up the findings quite nicely:  “Until … individual agencies take steps to fully implement leading security practices, federal wireless networks will remain at increased vulnerability to attack, and information on these networks is subject to unauthorized access, use, disclosure, or modification.”

What is true at the Federal level is most often true at the State and Municipal level also, which is why Gyver Networks has been called on to consult on wireless issues for these entities as well.

Are you concerned about the security of your wireless network?  Contact us today.