Why I must install Visual Studio 2005

I’m not a developer. I took a simplified Visual Studio basics course years ago, but I’ve never had anything I wanted to do with it so the few little things I learned have long been forgotten. Still, I need to download VS 2005 so I can look at the documentation because somebody likes it, according…

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How not to: examples of poor UI design

I apologize in advance — the Interface Hall of Shame is curiously addictive. Do not go to this site if you have somewhere to be in the next hour or so. Non-examples are a great way to learn concepts, and the authors of this page provide a generous sampling of non-examples for: Visual elements Terminology…

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We interrupt this thought to bring you…

…another announcement. I was thinking about globalization and localization on the drive in this morning, and planning a blog post on that subject, but it came to my attention that we have a webcast this week that I should mention. So I’ll postpone my global, localizable thoughts to tell you: Microsoft Webcast: Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape Backup with…

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Protecting an Exchange server by using DPM

Announcement! Knowledge Base article 909644, “How to use Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2006 to help protect an Exchange server” is published.

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Supported – what does that mean?

I had a friend who would install anything on his computer. “What they say is supported doesn’t really mean anything,” he insisted. “I can make it work.” (Come to think of it, my friend and his computer were a lot like the guys in high school whose cars were usually in pieces in my driveway…)…

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Are you going to run DPM with Windows Server 2003 R2?

Windows Server 2003 R2 is looming on the horizon, and it’s time to plan our documentation for running DPM with R2. We decided to compile all R2-related information into a single location, rather than redo the existing technical documentation. Our testers are thoroughly checking every aspect of DPM against R2 configurations, and their findings will…

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Need SP2 for XP or SP3 for Office? Order the CD

I’ve avoided updating a few family computers, the ones that use dial-up. It just takes too long. And the longer I put it off, the more updates there are to download, and the easier it is to talk myself out of doing it at all. My conscience has been bothering me. These people trust me….

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DPM Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) updated

The DPM FAQ has been updated. The changes in this refresh are as follows: Deleted “Can I protect a Windows-based NFS server?” question and answer because information is outdated. Added “Can I enable Shadow Copies of Shared Folders on file servers?” question and answer. Added “Upgrading from DPM Beta or DPM Evaluation Edition” section. Added…

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Lost product key: prevention

A surprising number of readers hit my post on John’s lost product key problem. So when I came across an article in MCP Magazine on how to find out the product keys in use on a computer, I did a test drive on the tool for you. Don Jones, in “Finding the Keys to Your…

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Informal usability testing

This error message discussion took place back in 98 – I came across it yesterday when I was looking for something else in my Old Emails folder. (Yes, I’m an email packrat, but it’s come in handy too often for me to break the habit.) Here’s the question that was asked of an internal discussion…

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Certifications: getting hands-on experience

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m working towards the MCSA certification. All of the exams I’ve taken so far have been on Windows XP — easy to practice, it’s what I run at home and at work. These last two exams are Windows Server 2003 though, with lots of networking and Active Directory…

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No more EULA?

You’ll be seeing new terminology from Microsoft: Microsoft Software License Terms, and license terms as the short version. It was determined (and I wish I could tell you how, and by whom, but I don’t know exactly) that many customers don’t know what “EULA” means, so in the interest of clarity, Microsoft official style now…

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Software installation the right way

Zman gives some good tips for polite software installation. I sympathize with his gripes because I’m just as territorial toward my computer. And I would add to his list, “Don’t add yourself to Startup without my permission.” But they all do it. It’s become part of my install routine: complete Setup and then run Msconfig…

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Lost product key

John writes in with this problem: “I had to reinstall my OS (xp) today. I have completed the install and I am putting Works suit 2002 with money standard. all of the components installed except word 2002 which comes bundled with it. I am being asked for a 25 digit product key. I do not…

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How DPM’s end user recovery feature works

Enabling users to recover previous versions of documents isn’t new to DPM — it’s part of the Shadow Copies of Shared Folders functionality introduced with Windows Server 2003. What DPM does, with end-user recovery, is leverage that functionality while providing a different target: the shadow copies stored on the DPM server, rather than shadow copies…

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What the customer wants

When I spend time in chatrooms online, I get frequent opportunities to answer computer questions. It’s good practice, trying to explain something directly to a frustrated user. (And, of course, if it reduces a customer’s annoyance with Windows or Office or Internet Explorer, that’s good for Microsoft too.) But I think I learned the most…

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How fast is DPM?

See for yourself in Veritest’s Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Backup/Restore Performance Analysis. Some key findings, quoted from the report: Data Protection Manager’s “Time-to-Protect” was 1.2x faster than Veritas Backup Exec and 1.5x faster than BrightStor Data Protection Manager’s time to restore a 591 KB file was 117.5x faster than Veritas Backup Exec and…

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A resource for error codes

I just came across another microsoft.com resource that I didn’t know about before, thanks to Tony Soper’s blog — Events and Errors Message Center. On this page, you can search for specific error messages for different products, including SQL Server and SQL Server Reporting Services, which are installed with DPM. If you encounter an error…

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Online dictionary with a twist

Sometimes, you’re looking up a word in a dictionary to be sure you spell it correctly. Online dictionaries haven’t been much help in that area for me. However, I recently came across the ObjectGraph Dictionary which is ideal to use when you’re not positive how the word is spelled. It does this by immediately feeding…

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3 down, 2 to go

I passed exam 70-270! My weakest area was security, probably because that isn’t something I play with in XP too often. Next are exams 70-290 and 70-291 to complete my MCSA requirements. Does a technical writer at Microsoft need a Microsoft technical certification? That question can open a lively debate. As a general rule, a…

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Upcoming webcasts

There are two webcasts planned for November that should be of interest to DPM customers (and those still considering whether DPM is right for their business). Microsoft Webcast: Protect Critical Data While Lowering IT Costs with Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2006 and HP Thursday, November 10, 2005- 9:30 AM Pacific Time (US &…

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Some criticism of technical documentation

Selena Sol at extropia replies to the question, “What would you want to see in software manuals/technical writing to further disassemble the mystery?” with a thoughtful discussion of what is needed in documentation, “putting the writer back into technical writing”. Being in that field myself, my first thought was that these were pretty basic guidelines…

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Repurposing words

Esquivalience—n. the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities Only, there’s no such word. The fabricated esquivalience was included in the recently published second edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary as a copyright protection strategy. This caught my attention because we’re working on the vocabulary for the next version of DPM, the terms and definitions…

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New Microsoft certification plans announced

Here I am, partway through the exams for the MCSA, and we announce “a new generation of Microsoft certifications”. I click frantically through the FAQ, trying to find out if my efforts have been wasted. Then, a sigh of relief — I’m not wasting my time and should continue along this track to complete the…

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DPM Exec Chat transcript posted

The transcript from the executive chat session, System Center Data Protection Manager Revealed (Oct 13, 05), is now available online. A few features of the next version of DPM are mentioned: support for SQL, Exchange, and clustering. We’ve had a lot of customers asking for those, so “V2” should be very popular!

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