An Improved Facebook App!

Microsoft announced today that they are releasing version 2.3 of the official Facebook application!

Improvements include panorama and profile designs, as well as better news feed performance and navigation, new filters, and “much, much more”.

To update your installation of Facebook, simply tap on your Marketplace hub when the update notification teaches your phone.

If you don’t have it installed yet, you can go here to download it!

Freakin’ 2Wire Router Strikes again!

2wire-red-logo-thumbIt appears that my AT&T U-verse 2Wire Router was getting bored because I haven’t paid it any attention in the last 90 days, so it decided to screw with me over the last couple of days.

I’m guessing that 2Wire sent another firmware update without notification and it messed-up the DHCP settings. 

It appeared that everything was good on the 2Wire side, because I could plug my laptop in directly and it worked fine.  That inferred that the problem was with a downstream router (I utilize a “router-behind-a-router” network to reduce domain collisions and increase security), so I performed a power cycle on the unit, and when that failed to correct the issue, did a Factory Reset.   It still didn’t work, so I plugged in a spare router, still nada.   This was good evidence that the upstream 2Wire really was the cause of the problem. 

So I went back to the 2Wire router and looked around.   Then I saw it: the DHCP Mask, which is usually 255.255.255.0.   But on the 2Wire, it was 255.255.252.0.   Doh!

AT&T seems to be mucking around with my customized settings….

How To Configure VPN on Small Business Server 2008

VPN (Virtual Private Networks) is an essential line of communication for mobile workers and home or remote office employees to use in order to gain access to resources that are located back on their company’s internal network. Small Business Server includes all of the components that are necessary to support the server side of VPN access equation.

In Small Business Server 2008, the process is simple and can be completed in less that 5 to 10minutes using the built-in Remote Access wizards. Here’s how:

In the Windows SBS Console that automatically launches on each session, do the following:

  • Select the Network tab.
  • Jump to the Connectivity tab in the back.
  • In the main section, observe the list of connections (their Names, Descriptions and their status) to make sure you’re familiar with them.
  • In the right hand pane, under Tasks, please select the option “Configure a Virtual Private Network” (this will launch the Setup Virtual Private Networking wizard).
  • Select “Allow users to connect to the server by using a VPN”, then click Next.
  • The Wizard will then continue automatically with the process of configuring Virtual Private Networking on the server. 

 

Additionally, the Wizard will also attempt to configure your Internet Router automatically, but this is dependent on your Firewall and/or Internet Router having the “Plug ’n’ Play” (PNP) option available and enabled in order for SBS to perform the auto-reconfiguration.  

In most cases, you may need/want to manually configure the router/firewall by opening a “pinhole” for TCP port 1723 for Virtual Private Networking.
 
If the Wizard completes “successfully”, a confirmation is displayed.   Likewise, if there are any problems or failures in configuring the VPN or the Firewall/Internet Router, then the Details on the failure(s) will be displayed on the closing page.

The Virtual Private Networking Wizard makes all this entire process fairly easy, but there is a lot more going on under the hood.  For those who wish a additional insight as to how this process works in detail, let’s look a little deeper at what VPN Setup wizard is accomplishing:

  • Enable virtual private networking (VPN).
  • Create packet filters for Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP).
  • Enable Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) to pass through the Windows Firewall.
  • Use DHCP to assign IP addresses to remote client computers.
  • Configure the Remote Access Policy to allow members of the Windows SBS Virtual Private Networking Users security group to have remote access.
  • Mobile client computers, such as laptops, that are currently connected to the local network can now be configured with the connection settings (by launching the Network Connection Wizard on each client computer).
  • Remote client computers not currently connected to the local network should be “Joined” to the Domain and then later, configured with the connection settings to the VPN.
  • Small Business Server 2008 Virtual Private Networking wizard finishes successfully.

 

At this point, you are done with the actual VPN activation on the Server.

However, there are two more steps to observe at this point: adjusting your Users profiles to allow them to access SBS 2008 remotely, and adding the “connectoid” to their computer to allow them to “dial” into the VPN server.  I’ll cover those options in another post to come.

Discontinuation of Microsoft’s MyPhone Service

MyPhoneMicrosoft is discontinuing the Microsoft My Phone service (http://www.microsoft.com/myphone) for Windows Mobile 6.x.

On August 7, 2011, the Microsoft My Phone service will stop synchronizing data between My Phone-configured Windows Mobile 6.x phones and the My Phone service: User data will stop being backed up to the My Phone service. On this date, Microsoft will begin automatic migration of certain data types from the My Phone service to Windows Live SkyDrive.

On October 6, 2011, the My Phone website will no longer be available. On this date, users will no longer be able to access the data stored from their Windows Mobile 6.x phones to the My Phone service.

Read the full support summary here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2557520

Can’t get Crysis 2 Limited Edition content to work?

crysis2

 

 

I have been trying to play Crysis 2 “Limited Edition” for the last few days, but have been experiencing a really annoying problem.   While Crysis 2 itself is actually a really great game, EA is apparently having problems with the DLC (Downloadable Content) aspect of the game.   I had successfully downloaded the content from the MarketPlace to the XBox (via the redeem code function), but it won’t appear within the game; at least on the XBox 360 platform.

I couldn’t find anything about this particular problem on the interwebs over the course of four or five days of research.  All related problems that I found were for the PC platform, not the XBox.

Continue reading

Setting-up Outlook Hotmail Connector

Download the Connector
You’ll want to download the Outlook Hotmail Connector first, then install it to your computer.   There are two flavors of the product available, which you will want to match to your PC’s Outlook version:

32bit
64bit

Do you have a Windows LiveID Account?
If you do not yet have a Windows Live ID account, please go here to set one up.


Installing the Connector

After you’ve installed the Outlook Connector package on your computer, start Outlook and follow these steps: 

  1. You will be greeted with a “Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector” dialog box inquiring if you want to add a Hotmail Account.  Select Yes.
  2. Input your Windows Live email address and password in the spaces provided, this will complete the installation process in Outlook.
  3. Exit and restart Outlook in order for Outlook to properly start the required services.
  4. You will now see a new Windows Live folder in your Mail Folders panel.
  5. Outlook will begin to sync the new Windows Live/Hotmail account on the computer with your Live/Hotmail account out in the cloud, so please give it some time to complete this process.
  6. Once this is done, you can then copy your contacts and calendar data from your original Outlook account over to the Windows Live/Hotmail folders using the steps below.


Copy Contact & Calendar items

Now that the base account is now setup in Outlook, you can copy your Contacts and Calendar items from your main Outlook account over to the Windows Live Account folder in Outlook:

  1. Access the Contacts Folder in Outlook’s Personal Folders
    using the “Phone List” view.
  2. Select Edit > Select All (Ctrl+A)
  3. Select Edit > Copy (Ctrl+C)
  4. Select the Windows Live Contacts folder
  5. Select Edit > Paste (Ctrl+V)
  6. Access the Calendar Folder in Outlook’s Personal Folders using the “All Appointments” view
  7. Select Edit > Select All (Ctrl+A)
  8. Select Edit > Copy (Ctrl+C)
  9. Select the Windows Live Calendar folder
  10. Select Edit > Paste (Ctrl+V)


Reconfigure Outlook

You are now setup on your Live Account, with all of your contacts and calendar items transferred over.   You now never have to interface with the new Windows Live account in Outlook.  

However, if you plan on continuing to utilize Outlook for your regular accounts, but want all future appoinments and contacts that you create (or accept) to show up on your Live Account (and in turn on your WP7 device), then you’ll need to reconfigure Outlook slightly:

  1. Access Outlook on your PC, then select Tools > Account Settings.
  2. Select the Datafiles tab, then highlight your Windows Live account, then chose the “Set as Default” option up above the account names.  You should then see the black circle with the “x” in it next to your Windows Live Account.
  3. If you want a particular account to remain as your primary e-mail account that future e-mails are created and sent from, then please change back over to the E-mail tab, then make sure that account is set to default.   If not, repeat step 2 above for the e-mail tab.


Mac Connector BETA for WP7

Since we’re on the subject of connectors, I feel that I should mention that there is also a (beta) Mac Connector for WP7, which will allow you to Sync music, photos, videos and podcasts from your existing iTunes and iPhoto libraries to your Windows Phone 7 device, which you can download here.

I hope this helps clarify the process and shows you just how quickly and easily you can prepare your accounts for using Windows Phone 7!

Depending on the cloud? Are you crazy?

Converting to the Cloud
Do you now own a Windows Phone 7 device, and are confused about how to proceed?   Does the concept of the cloud confuse you? 

I have to admit, it can be a bit daunting to convert over to using the cloud for storage.  There is some physical work to be done on your part in preparation to beginning to use a Windows Phone 7 device.  But in my opinion, the biggest aspect of the conversion is really actually a psychological one. 

So I’ll talk about the physical part (Installing Outlook Hotmail Connector) in another article in the near future.  For now, let’s talk about the cloud and why it represents such a scary proposition for most folks.

The scary Cloud
I mean, depending on the cloud sounds like a really bad idea, right?  Keeping all of your personal and private information in the cloud?  Aren’t we just asking for problems?

Well, there are actually a lot of good reasons to make this kind of change.  What’s more,  you may already be utilizing the cloud on a daily basis without really considering it as “using the cloud”. 

Defining the Cloud
The cloud, as a term, is something of a misnomer.  First and foremost, your data is not held in an infrequently accessed vault like your parents old safe deposit box.      The use of the term “the cloud” actually refers to any network outside of *your* network, where your data is stored.   So by connecting your Outlook on your home computer to to an Exchange Server via your DSL connection?  That’s a cloud connection.   Or connecting Outlook to your ISP to download your e-mail?  That’s a cloud connection too.  

The obvious conclusion is that you are probably already using a cloud connection on a daily basis, but just never thought about it as a transaction through the cloud.  Take a minute and let that sink in…

So why use the cloud?
Ok, now the reason as to why this “synchronizing with the cloud” process is utilized: most of the average consumer’s life (at least the primary demographic target audience of WP7 device users) is spent online on Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, etc.   So it makes sense to utilize a phone that has integrated Facebook support built right into the OS. 

As such, the contacts on a WP7 device are actually an aggregation of your Facebook contacts, merged or “linked” with your contacts contained within your Windows Live or Hotmail accounts.   Both sets of information originally reside in the cloud prior to synchronization.  That is, the FB contacts reside on the FB server.   The Windows Live contacts reside on the Windows Live server.   Then after the sync, they are downloaded to your WP7 device and merged when the names (first and last) are the same.  Similarly, your Calendar items on your Google account, Hotmail, or Windows Live accounts will synchronize down to your phone.

Security of the cloud
There are those who state that their data is more safe when it only resides on their computer, and I’m here to say that they are only partially correct.  The overal security of the cloud is entirely dependant on how well you choose to protect your privacy.   If you let everyone see all of your personal info on Facebook, then you really cannot expect your data residing in the cloud to be safe. 

Likewise, if you have your PC setup with little or no protection from the outside world in the form of a Firewall and AntiVirus software, then your PC data residing on (only) your PC isn’t very safe either.

Catastrophic issues
Catastrophic problems occur on both platforms (PC vs the Cloud).   Your PC could become infected with a Virus or Trojan, or it could be hacked or your harddrive destroyed in a fatal drop from the countertop.  I suspect that there is a higher degree of such an occurence compared to breaches in the cloud (an ISP getting hacked and your e-mail accessed, etc), but I’m afraid that I don’t have any statistics to quote to back up my theory.   However, most security breaches of security in the cloud causing the unintended release of personally identifiable information on Facebook are due to user ignorance of FB privacy settings, but I’m sure a great deal of personal data has also been released to third parties due to the constantly changes privacy rules on Facebook.   I’ll leave that particular issue for Facebook to discuss publicly with it’s users.

In Conclusion…
I would like to sum up the entire article thusly: since you already allow your e-mail, Facebook account, Twitter account, Google Calendar, etc to live out in the cloud, then why not aggregate all of them into a single point?

And that one point, ladies and gentlemen is a Windows Phone 7 device!

Patiently Waiting for NoDo

Microsoft has until end of business today to fulfill Steve Ballmer’s original commitment to have NoDo distribution in the first two weeks of March.

Recently, Microsoft France published a blog indicating that NoDo will actually ship last two weeks of March.   So it looks like that MS is yet again going to push back on the distribution date.  

Waiting as patiently as possible…