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Thursday, April 27 2017 @ 10:36 PM EDT
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Today Is Clean Out Your Computer Day (Feb 14, 2011)

General News

EVERYONE: Today is National Clean Out Your Computer Day! Originally sponsored and created by the Institute for Business Technology, National Clean Out Your Computer Day comes around every second Monday in February. Since the month began on a Tuesday and pushed the date to later in the month, I almost forgot to post this most important event.

 

So clean up those old files, uninstall those old apps you never use, vacuum the stale chips from keyboard, and if you haven't defragmented your platter-based hard drives all year, get to it!

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Article on SQL Query Optimization

General News

At first I didn't want to post a story on the site about this since it falls outside the realm of what we usually try to present here, but since a number of IT professionals are not specifically database programmers or designers yet still need to have a good idea of what could affect their organization's database performance, I thought I'd share an article that came out yesterday written by Sean McCown at InfoWorld. The article outlines many of the most common (and often lazy) things SQL database developers do that could affect performance.

7 performance tips for faster SQL queries
It's easy to create database code that slows down query results or ties up the database unnecessarily -- unless you follow these tips
http://infoworld.com/d/data-management/7-performance-tips-faster-sql-queries-262

A lot of the tips are very similar in nature, basically saying that you want to reduce your query size as much as possible in addition to the number of times you query tables (especially large ones), but it's not just a "well, duh" type of article. It's well written and is clear on the issues, though it assumes you have at least a basic understanding of SQL databases. If you are looking to speed up your SQL queries or just want to update your mental memory banks on database optimization, take a look at Sean's article and give it a quick read-through.

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Cheap Windows 7 Upgrade Options in 2010

General News

Recently, I was asked where the best place to find a good deal on Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system would be. Having used the RC, I knew I would be upgrading so I preordered up a couple of the $50 Home Premium copies that lasted for only two weeks back in June/July 2009 (in hindsight, I wish I would have picked up a few more copies for friends & family). Since then I haven't needed to purchase individual licenses and this put me into the position of not really knowing what deals exist right now for the average person other than the assumption there were non-profit, educational, OEM, MSDN member, etc. pricing. I also knew the family pack deal was dead.

[Update 2010-09-02: The family pack is making a comeback as of October 22, 2010; no word on how long the promotion will last yet]

 

In the end, we saw that there are still a few inexpensive (and legal) upgrade options found in the top search results and also through our own research. Note that I am excluding the Windows Anytime Upgrades since those are for adding features to an already purchased copy of Windows 7 and also OEM pricing since that's for system builders only. Read further for our findings.

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Microsoft Education Labs Releases Chemistry Add-in for Word

General News

As announced on the Microsoft External Research Team Blog, MS Education Labs in collaboration with the University of Cambridge has released a chemistry add-in for Word (2007 & 2010) that "makes it easier for students, chemists and researchers to insert and modify chemical information, such as labels, formulas and 2D depictions, from withing Microsoft Office Word." It uses the Chemical Markup Language (CML), which is based on XML, and as such should easily allow other technologies to take advantage of the open document format.

 

Eventually, the developers plan to release a CodePlex version of this project later this year, hoping to build a community around the add-in and increasing the number of molecules available to use. I hope this takes off!

 

Anyone interested in how it looks and works can head over to the How-To Geek website (which, BTW, is definitely a site you should keep in your RSS feeds) and check out their article Create Chemistry Equations and Diagrams in Word.

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Microsoft Releases Updated Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer 2.0

General News

Microsoft has released version 2.0 of the Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer.

 

 

Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer 2.0 (MBCA 2.0) can help you maintain optimal system configuration by analyzing configurations of your computers against a predefined set of best practices, and reporting results of the analyses. Best practices are developed by a product development team or domain experts, and are packaged in the form of a best practice model. Models are available as separately-downloadable packages that can be run and analyzed by MBCA. MBCA lets users work with best practice models in a consistent, user-friendly way.

 

The new version adds support for the newer Windows operating systems: Windows 7 Enterprise; Windows 7 Professional; Windows 7 Ultimate; Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2003 R2 (32-Bit x86); Windows Server 2008; Windows Server 2008 R2; Windows Vista Business; Windows Vista Enterprise; Windows Vista Ultimate

 

You can download it from www.microsoft.com/downloads/

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A Truly Universal Print Driver from Samsung

General News

While universal print drivers (drivers that support multiple printer models) are nothing new, they've had a history of being fairly limited. One example would be HP's UPD that comes in PCL 5, PCL 6, & PostScript flavors, but they only work across HP branded printers. On the other hand, Xerox's Mobile Express Driver can print across manufacturers and models, but it only supports printers that allow the PostScript page description language (PDL).

 

Late last year, though, Samsung announced a print driver that not only is compatible with their own models, but any network printer that uses SPL, PCL6, or PostScript languages. Here at The Grim Admin, we wanted to find out how well these claims hold up. Read on for our review & test run of the driver and, of course, the download link since you'll definitely want to give this driver a go yourself...

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Today Is Clean Out Your Computer Day (Feb 8, 2010)

General News

I was just reminded through an article from WebWorkerDaily.com that today is National Clean Out Your Computer Day! Originally sponsored and created by the Institute for Business Technology, National Clean Out Your Computer Day comes around every second Monday in February.

 

So clean up those old files, uninstall those old apps you never use, vacuum the stale chips from keyboard, and if you haven't defragmented your platter-based hard drives all year, get to it!

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Encryption Cracked on Certified USB Drives

General News

Just a warning out there to those who use SanDisk, Verbatim, or Kingston USB flash drives and take advantage of their encryption to secure your files that these are easily cracked due to an extremely dim-witted move: the same decryption string is provided when accessing encrypted files no matter what your password is. Meaning, you just have to bypass their authentication program and send this string, which is even the same string on all three of the brands listed at the beginning of this article. Yeesh! Remember folks, these are the same drives that are certified by NIST as FIPS 140-2 Level 2 (PDF) and are used by the American Armed Forces and the US government (for unclassified data).

 

Security expert firm SySS (click here for english link) has created a demo program that can access encrypted files within seconds. You can access their press release and papers here.

 

Read more to see the recalls and security notes from the three flash drive makers...

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Microsoft Updates Their Enterprise Learning Framework For Windows 7

General News

Microsoft has recently updated the Enterprise Learning Framework (ELF) with content for Windows 7. ELF is a is a web based tool that helps corporations develop a training and communication plan for employees during a Windows 7, Windows Vista, or 2007 Microsoft Office system deployment (including SharePoint). The tool helps you find content for a number of different audiences and assists in finding the right content for topics you are interested in, within particular deployment time frames. You can even generate customized e-mail messages or a Word document that you can send to your users with the content you find.

Click here to be taken to Microsoft's ELF tool

Tip: Click the Get Recommended Topics link to begin

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HWBOT Overclocking Competition Engine

General News

hwbot.org, based out of Belgium, has an interesting idea: not only do they gather technical specs on a large number of computer hardware components and let you benchmark your system against others', but they make it into a 24/7 competition. Even more, hwbot has recently released into beta an "overclocking competition engine." Dubbed HWBot Competition Engine (HCE), the service allows you to host hardware competitions with stage ranks, hardware rules, customized scoring, special awards, and even prizes.

 

Full details can be found in HCWBOT's public announcement here.

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