December 28, 2010

Goodbye Blogger

by The Computer Doctor

After spending weeks migrating my blog and creating a theme we have now officially moved to our new webpage at

Our three year run with blogger was wonderful and I was very pleased with the usability of blogger but with newer needs coming up including our own webcast we are now moving on.

We will keep this page in place for a while but all new articles will be at our new site.

Our RSS feed will stay the same so you will not need to update your RSS readers and will still get our new content delivered just like before.

December 08, 2010

Updates Fail After Fresh Install Of XP

Graphic which hints to Microsoft Windows Image via WikipediaBy The Computer Doctor

So the situation arose where after installing XP Pro on a virtual machine I can't get any updates after installing Service Pack 3. The disc I have comes with SP2 already loaded and the first update that I ran was SP3. Now I see 56 updates waiting and whenever I try to get them I get update failed for each item.

The Problem: Back in 2007 the Windows Update Agent was silently being upgraded which was creating a lot of complaints. As a result the new Windows Update Agent is not included in SP3. So in essence Microsoft goes from sneaky to bonehead in one move.

The Solution(s): My solution was to just install the new WUA from the following file.

Another user on the internet suggested to use the AURESET tool that you can read about and get the download for at this site.

If you want to see the Microsoft solution, look at the end of the article as it is lengthy and the above two methods are preferred by the user community.

Hopefully this helps as the use of Windows XP will probably still be around for as long as the updates are available.

**** Microsoft Solution ****

Solution: re-registered the .dll files for updates

action: stop the BITS, .ASPnet, cryptographic services

action: rename the software distribution folders, catroot2 folders


action: register the following update files

cd /d %SystemRoot%\system32
Regsvr32 wups2.dll /s
Regsvr32 licdll.dll /s
Regsvr32 regwizc.dll /s
regsvr32 msxml.dll /s
regsvr32 msxml2.dll /s
regsvr32 msxml3.dll /s
regsvr32 comcat.dll /s
regsvr32 shdoc401.dll /s
regsvr32 shdoc401.dll /i /s
regsvr32 asctrls.ocx /s
regsvr32 oleaut32.dll /s
regsvr32 shdocvw.dll /I /s
regsvr32 shdocvw.dll /s
regsvr32 browseui.dll /s
regsvr32 browseui.dll /I /s
regsvr32 msrating.dll /s
regsvr32 mlang.dll /s
regsvr32 hlink.dll /s
regsvr32 mshtmled.dll /s
regsvr32 urlmon.dll /s
regsvr32 plugin.ocx /s
regsvr32 sendmail.dll /s
regsvr32 scrobj.dll /s
regsvr32 mmefxe.ocx /s
regsvr32 corpol.dll /s
regsvr32 jscript.dll /s
regsvr32 msxml.dll /s
regsvr32 imgutil.dll /s
regsvr32 thumbvw.dll /s
regsvr32 cryptext.dll /s
regsvr32 rsabase.dll /s
regsvr32 inseng.dll /s
regsvr32 iesetup.dll /i /s
regsvr32 cryptdlg.dll /s
regsvr32 actxprxy.dll /s
regsvr32 dispex.dll /s
regsvr32 occache.dll /s
regsvr32 occache.dll /i /s
regsvr32 iepeers.dll /s
regsvr32 urlmon.dll /i /s
regsvr32 cdfview.dll /s
regsvr32 webcheck.dll /s
regsvr32 mobsync.dll /s
regsvr32 pngfilt.dll /s
regsvr32 licmgr10.dll /s
regsvr32 icmfilter.dll /s
regsvr32 hhctrl.ocx /s
regsvr32 inetcfg.dll /s
regsvr32 tdc.ocx /s
regsvr32 MSR2C.DLL /s
regsvr32 msident.dll /s
regsvr32 msieftp.dll /s
regsvr32 xmsconf.ocx /s
regsvr32 ils.dll /s
regsvr32 msoeacct.dll /s
regsvr32 inetcomm.dll /s
regsvr32 msdxm.ocx /s
regsvr32 dxmasf.dll /s
regsvr32 /s
regsvr32 /s
regsvr32 /s
regsvr32 /s
regsvr32 danim.dll /s
regsvr32 Daxctle.ocx /s
regsvr32 lmrt.dll /s
regsvr32 datime.dll /s
regsvr32 dxtrans.dll /s
regsvr32 dxtmsft.dll /s
regsvr32 WEBPOST.DLL /s
regsvr32 WPWIZDLL.DLL /s
regsvr32 POSTWPP.DLL /s
regsvr32 CRSWPP.DLL /s
regsvr32 FTPWPP.DLL /s
regsvr32 FPWPP.DLL /s
regsvr32 WUAPI.DLL /s
regsvr32 WUAUENG.DLL /s
regsvr32 ATL.DLL /s
regsvr32 WUCLTUI.DLL /s
regsvr32 WUPS.DLL /s
regsvr32 WUWEB.DLL /s
regsvr32 wshom.ocx /s
regsvr32 wshext.dll /s
regsvr32 vbscript.dll /s
regsvr32 scrrun.dll mstinit.exe /setup /s
regsvr32 msnsspc.dll /SspcCreateSspiReg /s
regsvr32 msapsspc.dll /SspcCreateSspiReg /s
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December 07, 2010

Federal Cloud Conversions Heat Up Google-Microsoft Competition

By John K. Higgins
E-Commerce Times

The GSA's award of a $6.7 million email contract to Google has raised hackles in Redmond. "Microsoft offers some pretty robust programs and maybe there was a trade-off in price in opting for something less robust for a lower cost. However, Google has been working to make its cloud offerings pretty robust too," noted IDC analyst Shawn McCarthy. "If this works at GSA, it will show it can work elsewhere."

The U.S. government's drive to adopt cloud technology has generated a huge opportunity for vendors -- and has sparked fierce competition for the business.

In the latest go round, Unisys (NYSE: UIS), in partnership with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), emerged victorious with a contract to provide a cloud-based email system for the General Services Administration. However, it didn't take long for competitor Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) to downplay Google's GSA offering while promoting what it contends are the superior features of the Microsoft entry.

GSA awarded the five-year, US$6.7-million contract to the Unisys-Google partnership for email and collaboration tools that will reduce inefficiencies and lower costs by 50 percent, the agency said. With the contract award, GSA became the first federal entity to move its email system to a cloud-based platform on an agency-wide basis. Almost 17,000 GSA users in the U.S. and abroad will be migrated to the Unisys-Google platform.

Cloud Presents Opportunities

The GSA procurement is part of a government-wide effort to utilize lightweight technologies such as cloud computing and shared services to limit the need for expensive, redundant infrastructure, the agency said.

"GSA's email award is in step with the administration's 'cloud first' strategy and demonstrates that agile, secure, reliable and cost-effective cloud options exist to rapidly improve agency operations," said Dave McClure, GSA associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

For Google, the contract represents a major marketing coup in cracking the federal market.

"GSA is leading the way in embracing the federal Cloud first policy under which agencies should opt for hosted applications when secure, reliable, cost-effective options are available. We are thrilled that GSA has chosen to move to the Cloud with Google and we look forward to expanding our productive partnership with the agency," said Mike Bradshaw, director of Google's federal enterprise team, in a Google blog post.

Microsoft, understandably, was less than thrilled by the GSA's selection of Unisys-Google, but a top executive tried to convey a sporting tone.

"Industry competition drives innovation and is good for government agencies," said Curt Kolcun, Microsoft's vice president of U.S. public sector business. "We are disappointed in the GSA's internal email decision."

It appeared Microsoft was puzzled as to why GSA selected Google, in light of what Microsoft felt were the attractive features of its own offering.

"Our business productivity online suite (BPOS) federal proposal was a conscious decision to provide GSA with U.S.-only data center support, where data is maintained in the U.S. and is administered by U.S. citizens with background checks," Kolcun told the E-Commerce Times.

"This offering meets the most stringent requirements of governments, and we are working with several agencies who see this as essential. We are gratified that so many federal, state and local governments have chosen Microsoft to meet their business needs," Kolcun said.

Microsoft Sees Google Flaws

Another Microsoft executive was more pointed in his comments, expressing consternation over GSA's procurement rationale.

"We will continue to serve GSA's productivity needs through the familiar experience of Microsoft Office and we look forward to understanding more about GSA's selection criteria, especially around security and architecture," said Thomas Rizzo, senior director of Microsoft Online, in a corporate blog posting.

"There's no doubt that businesses are talking to Google, and hearing their pitch, but despite all the talk, Google can't avoid the fact that often times they cannot meet basic requirements. For instance, in California, the state determined that Google couldn't meet many of its requirements for functionality and security. Rather than address deficiencies in their product by developing a more robust set of productivity tools, Google cried foul instead of addressing these basic needs," Rizzo said.

"Constraints such as inadequate product support, failure to provide a roadmap, poor interoperability with other line of business applications and limited functionality are all reasons why public sector organizations such the state of Minnesota and New York City have said 'no thanks' to what Google is offering," he added.

As matter of policy, GSA was circumspect in explaining its decision.

"The government cannot disclose details of competitive proposals or the pre-decisional information used in the Best Value determination," GSA spokesperson Steve Hoffman told the E-Commerce Times.

"However, Unisys provided the Best Value solution for the GSA objectives as stated in the request for quotation," he added.

Those objectives: 1) modernization of the email system; 2) provision of an effective collaborative working environment; 3) reduction of the government's in-house system maintenance burden by providing related business, technical and management functions; and 4) application of appropriate security and privacy safeguards.

Google's Partnership Strategy

GSA awarded the contract to Unisys under its Alliant government-wide acquisition contract. The Alliant program was designed to facilitate IT procurement with the creation of a roster of qualified vendors who are basically approved to later compete for federal contracts. The mechanism saves individual federal agencies from setting up their own qualification procedures.

GSA approved 59 vendors for email services, including heavyweights such as Microsoft, Unisys, Verizon and AT&T (NYSE: T). However, Google was not among them, and as a result had to partner with an Alliant contractor to qualify for the work.

"Google's federal enterprise often works with partners, including Unisys, to deliver our technology," David Mihalchik, business development executive at Google, told the E-Commerce Times.

"Google has been working its way into the federal space for a while, and this partnership is actually the primary means for many companies to compete these days," explained Deniece Peterson, industry analyst with INPUT.

"Because the trend is now to consolidate smaller contracts into bigger contracts with broader scope, as well as for agencies to create their own vehicles, companies that don't win a spot on the original contract sometimes only have access to a particular agency by partnering with a company on the vehicle," she told the E-Commerce Times.

"Since Google doesn't yet have the federal presence of Unisys, it makes sense for them to partner with a recognized Alliant entity in order to gain entry. This partnership seems to be the most viable way for Google to make inroads into the federal space right now," added Peterson.

"This is a real beachhead for Google, but I couldn't say why they prevailed over Microsoft," commented Shawn McCarthy, director of research at IDC Government Insights.

"Every contract is different. It could have been a price thing but I'm not privy to that either," he told the E-Commerce Times.

"Microsoft offers some pretty robust programs and maybe there was a trade-off in price in opting for something less robust for a lower cost. However, Google has been working to make its cloud offerings pretty robust too," McCarthy observed.

"I would advise GSA to be cautious on this installation and look at Google's email contract with the city of Los Angeles because of some of the early implementation issues that came up there," McCarthy added.

Google's Los Angeles project has both positive and negative aspects, McCarthy noted in a blog post. The benefit is a potential $13 million in savings over five years. The negative includes some initial problems with security and archiving functions.

There will definitely be an impact on cloud computing as a result of the contract, owing to GSA's high visibility.

"I wouldn't say this shows a federal commitment to the cloud, but it shows a commitment to explore the cloud," McCarthy said. "You need a few powerful case studies for demonstration -- but if this works at GSA, it will show it can work elsewhere."

The GSA contract was announced December 1, just about a month after Google took the U.S. Interior Department to court for its failure to fully consider its technology when the department awarded an email services contract to Microsoft.

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December 06, 2010

FCC Peddling Fake Net Neutrality

Logo for NetNeutralityImage via WikipediaChairman Schedules Dec. 21 Vote but Appears to Abandon Title II, Key Consumer Protections

Date: December 1, 2010
Contact: Jenn Ettinger, 202-265-1490 x 35

WASHINGTON -- Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski is expected to introduce a new Network Neutrality proposal today in advance of a vote on the issue at the FCC on Dec. 21.

According to press reports, Genachowski will abandon his prior commitment to make new rules under Title II of the Communications Act, instead pursuing rules under the more legally precarious Title I.

While details are still scarce, the Genachowski proposal reportedly would not offer the same protections to wireless Internet users as it would to those using wired connections. It would also open the door to "paid prioritization," which could allow phone and cable companies to create toll roads that would favor the traffic of a select few companies that can pay by slowing down everyone else.

Free Press President and CEO Josh Silver made the following statement:

"To achieve real Net Neutrality and preserve the level playing field that is in the DNA of the Internet as we know it, the FCC must do a lot better than other failed proposals we have seen earlier this year floated by big corporations or designed to win the unanimous consent of Congress. You can call any policy Net Neutrality, but the devil is always in the details -- and right now the details look grim.

"We are glad the FCC is finally moving forward, but early reports indicate that this proposal looks like the fake Net Neutrality preferred by foes of the open Internet and retreats from the real consumer protections previously outlined by Chairman Genachowski. Real Net Neutrality means a clear prohibition on paid prioritization, equal protections on wireless and wired networks, and a clear user-focused definitions of broadband access and reasonable network management. But it appears that the current draft order falls short on each of these important aspects, with language that creates loopholes that you could drive a Verizon-Google-sized truck through.

"It is deeply disappointing that a Chairman who has placed wireless at the center of his entire broadband agenda would seek to adopt rules that give AT&T and Verizon a free hand to engage in economic discrimination and crush innovation by mobile application developers. Apparently Genachowski, who just last year believed it was essential that the Internet itself remain open, however users reach it, now says that it is acceptable for wireless carriers to arbitrarily discriminate.

"And by apparently allowing access providers to exploit the loophole of so-called specialized services, Genachowski is taking the same exact approach to splitting the open Internet into fast and slow lanes that Verizon and Google proposed last summer.

"Worse yet, by failing to restore the FCC's Title II authority, Chairman Genachowski could be unnecessarily placing Net Neutrality, and indeed his entire broadband agenda, at serious risk. The good news is that two of the other FCC commissioners, like President Obama and millions of Internet users, have loudly proclaimed their support for strong Net Neutrality rules. It will now be up to them to overhaul and improve this proposal to make sure the free and open Internet stays that way.

"Now is the moment for forward-looking, visionary policymaking, not half-measures and convoluted compromises with the companies trying to kill the free and open Internet. We look forward to working with the FCC Chairman and the full Commission to ensure that the agency passes real Net Neutrality rules that will protect the open Internet, promote competition and benefit all Internet users."

Damning Praise for Genachowski's Plan

For those keeping score, the phone and cable companies seem generally pleased with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s Net Neutrality proposal.

If any questions remain about with whom the chairman has sided in the debate, read on:

Time Warner Cable:

We would like to commend Chairman Genachowski, and everyone at the Commission, who have worked tirelessly to craft what we believe to be a fair resolution to these complex and controversial policy issues. We also want to thank the many Members of Congress who, on a bipartisan basis, urged the Commission to take a less regulatory path in order to ensure that the Internet continues its vibrant growth and development.


We believe Chairman Genachowski’s proposal, as described this morning, strikes a workable balance between the needs of the marketplace and the certainty that carefully-crafted and limited rules can provide to ensure that Internet freedom and openness are preserved.


Based on our understandings, this measure would avoid onerous Title II regulation; would be narrowly drawn along the lines of a compromise we have endorsed previously; would reject limits on our ability to properly manage our network and efficiently utilize our wireless spectrum; would recognize the capabilities and limitations of different broadband technologies; would ensure specialized services are protected against intrusive regulation; and would provide for a case-by-case resolution of complaints that also encourages non-governmental dispute settlement.


Verizon appreciates the efforts of Chairman Genachowski to seek a consensus on the contentious issue of net neutrality… [W]e urge the commissioners to recognize the limitations of the current statute and the rapidly changing conditions in the marketplace and make any rules it adopts interim, rather than permanent. Specifically, the commission should consider the framework of the Waxman proposal, including its sunset provision.

While the phone and cable industry is happy with Genachowski's plan, we're not.

Genachowski is calling his plan Net Neutrality. But it’s a fake. Remember, this is the same chairman who had promised to deliver on Obama’s campaign pledge to create lasting and enforceable Net Neutrality protections.

After a year of dithering, the chairman appears to have caved almost completely to special corporate interests. The good news is that we still have time to stop Genachowski’s betrayal and fix his toothless rule before it goes to a vote on December 21.

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December 01, 2010

The good and bad news about Dell and Ubuntu

Image representing Dell as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBaseBy Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Editorial by The Computer Doctor

A friend of mine recently got a surprise. She was setting up her brand new Dell Inspiron m101z with its dual-core AMD Athlon processor, 4GB RAM and Windows 7 Home Premium. She wasn't happy because it was already slower than her ancient XP Pentium M machine. Out of the blue, she got an Ubuntu Light v1.0 Setup window. What the heck?

She was puzzled, but since she's technically savvy, she quickly figured it out. Besides, she was pretty sure that Dell technical support was wrong when they first told her that "Ubuntu Light is the software for setting up themes on the system." Ah, no, it's not. Dell is now shipping Ubuntu Light as an instant-on operating system on some of its Dell laptops.

Ubuntu Light is a simplified version of Ubuntu that's for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) only and uses the Unity interface. It's designed to boot up in as little as eight seconds on PCs with a solid state disk drive (SSD) or 15 seconds on a device with a hard disk drive. It can also access the data on the Windows part of the drive and can be enabled or disabled from the Windows 7 Control Panel.

In short, from a Windows user's viewpoint, Ubuntu Light is a feature. Worse than Dell not advertising Ubuntu Light, they're not even telling their internal staff about it. My friend knew on seeing the Ubuntu Light setup windows appear knew what Ubuntu was, and she had some idea what it would be good for. Most users would find it puzzling at best.

I asked Dell about it, and they never did get back to me. Come on, Dell — if you're going to ship Ubuntu on a Windows 7 notebook, tell people about it already. It might get you a few new customers who, even if they don't know Linux from a llama, like the idea of a fast-on operating system for Web browsing.

That's not my only problem with Dell. A friend asked me about buying a laptop with at least a 15" screen and Ubuntu pre-installed on it. Before I told him where to shop, I checked out the usual suspects: Dell, system76, and ZaReason. They all offer excellent PCs and laptops with pre-installed Ubuntu.

Then I looked a little closer at Dell's offering, the Inspiron 15N. It's a fine laptop for $624 — but what's this? The Inspiron 15 with Windows 7 Home Premium for $399? A closer look showed me that it had only 2GB of RAM instead of the 15N's 4, but when I added in two more GB of RAM, my bill still only came to $489.

What's the idea, Dell? The Windows machine is a much better deal. Or it was, anyway; even as I am writing this blog, I see that the Windows Inspiron 15 is no longer available for order online. I suspect it's sold out.

It's great that Dell sells PCs and laptops with Ubuntu already on them, but how about giving Ubuntu a fair shake? Let people know that it comes ready to use as an alternative operating system on at least one of your Windows 7 laptops, and make the Ubuntu-only systems' pricing to those that come with Windows. Both moves will help Dell's sales, and in the latter's case, it will also help their bottom line, since they don't pay Canonical as much as they do Microsoft for the operating system.

**** EDITORIAL ****
Steven, I loved your article and could not agree with your overtones of frustration with Dell more, but you are not comparing apples to apples (no reference to Macintosh intended).

No mainstream OEM PC retailer makes any money off of it's hardware. In fact to keep the cost of PC's down they actually loose money on the hardware and offer the bare minimum customer service to the point of near non-existence. How do they make money then? The Operating System vendors offer rebates and kickbacks (known in a more honest time as bribes) to the OEM manufacturers.

Use the following formula M+(OS-B)=P.

If the cost of making your PC is $800 and a OEM wholesale version of Windows 7 cost $200 and they give a rebate of $400 then you get a final price of $600.

On the other hand If the cost of making your PC is $800 and the cost of Ubuntu is $0 and the the Ubuntu rebate is $0 then your final price is $800 but to make the price any lower then your Manufacturer will have to take a hit or dip into the profit margin of their mainstream machines.

Is this fair? Of course not (they call that a rhetorical question). But to the savy consumer, why not buy your lower priced Windows machine, Dual boot Ubuntu and run the risk of possibly voiding the warranty that you probably won't need and if you do will have a major pain in the rear using and thank Microsoft for having enough market share to donate some money towards getting you that lower priced machine?

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