If it has a plug, it's IT stuff


November 26, 2008  9:46 AM

Useful spam fighting technique

alessandro.panzetta Alessandro Panzetta Profile: alessandro.panzetta

Not a spam filter or any other server/client based tool but a simple temp email address generator that can help you keeping the real mailbox clean of spam!

Check MeltMail and see how in a simple click you can create a temp email address that you can use for “note really important” things.

November 25, 2008  9:51 AM

[e-Home] Home automation

alessandro.panzetta Alessandro Panzetta Profile: alessandro.panzetta

In my previous post I’ve introduced my “hidden dream” of having an automated house where I can have an intelligent house that can act and react to situations by following some procedures or predefined actions that I previously setup.

One of the key points for a project like this is to have the ability to “speak” to my house.

I’ve just found a cheap software that seems to fit this need and it is really cheap! The software is called e-Speaking Voice and Speech Recognition and enables use of several voice based interactions.

I’ll give it a try and let you know how this behaves.


November 20, 2008  4:27 PM

“Hi do you perhaps know…?”

alessandro.panzetta Alessandro Panzetta Profile: alessandro.panzetta

How many times we have been questioned by peers, friends or customer about something and we just Googled that question because they were too “dumb” at googling?

Well, it’s now time for our revenge http://letmegooglethatforyou.com/ :)

Have fun


November 20, 2008  8:51 AM

My 2 cents on Vista

alessandro.panzetta Alessandro Panzetta Profile: alessandro.panzetta

Many and many articles have been written on the last Microsoft operating system, some claim that is a good operating system with significant enhancements, some other instead scream about the issues and problems they had to face with Vista. To my pint of view everything depends on the context in which the OS is evaluated.

I’ve had experience in both “main” environments, that’s to say office and home and I have a different evaluation for both of them.

In the office I simply could not use it because of its incompatibility with some tools that are used in the company so I had to discard it after two days and reinstall Windows XP.

For home usage instead I really appreciated it, I had it installed on a HP laptop and, except the first week in which it was really slow, it started satisfying me: rapid resume from standby, fast application opening and many other cool and useful things.

That’s it, everything depends on the context!

The UAC feature is certainly what causes all of the disruptions and errors in applications; you can’t configure apps to run as services,while installing something you have to right click and choose “run as administrator” and so on…but this feature is useful, it prevents unwanted applications to escalate privileges.

Considering the UAC in the “office”, to my point of view, this is somewhay unuseful because IT admins already know how to avoid unwanted behavior; at “home” instead the UAC feature is a good thing because prevents virii spread for those users who are not really confident with computing.

So I wonder, why didn’t Microsoft simply decide to make two different things like an “office” version and a “home” version? I know that Business edition is this way but it’s simply an OS with some added features and not an OS deigned mainly for corporate usage.

My 2 cents…


November 18, 2008  7:45 AM

Homemade House Automation!!!

alessandro.panzetta Alessandro Panzetta Profile: alessandro.panzetta

This is always been one of dreams! And today this dream can come true!

Since last June I have changed job role and passed from System Administration, a job that I’ve done form about 10 years, and have become a Technical Support Engineer in a company that is a leader in software for industry automation. So now I have a better view on how to do it!

Like in Bill Gates’ “The Road ahead” I’ve always thought to my house to be “intelligent” and to easy my daily tasks and ease the way I live in house so let’s call it a “bidirectional understanding”.

It’s not only about motion sensors  that can switch lights on or off, it’s not about the music to “follow” me when changing rooms, it’s a matter of an intelligent house and also intelligent house management that in the end means : cost reduction.

I’m actually searching for documents on open systems because home automation is already present in the market but all systems that I’ve seen are “closed” that means that they rely on ther own protocols and devices. What I’m looking for is instead a standard that allows me to use different devices from different vendors that can talk together.

I’ll continue to search andreport on this blog my findings…stay tuned!


November 10, 2008  10:48 AM

Group Policy scripts, what are they doing on my PC?

alessandro.panzetta Alessandro Panzetta Profile: alessandro.panzetta

Even if I’m not anymore in the direct IT Department, some manager have asked me this question when they noticed that there were some shutdown/startup scripts running on their client machines so I thought that writing a post that explains how to find this information could be a good idea.

Let’s start from the concept: in an Active Directory based domain Administrators can write Group Policies that can satisfy many needs in IT Administration, including which scripts a computer or user has to run while starting up or logging to a computer. These scripts are of two main kinds:

  • COMPUTER: we can have a script for startup and one for shutdown
  • USER: we can have a script for login and one for logoff

So an Admin can provide some scripts and be sure that these are running accordingly but how can you understand what are the scripts doing? Simply perform these steps

  1. Click START/RUN type MMC and press ENTER
  2. Press CTRL+M (Add/Remove Snap-in) and click the ADD button
  3. Select Resultant Set Of Policy, click the ADD button and then CLOSE
  4. Click OK
  5. Right click the Resultant Set Of Policy node and choose “Generate RSOP data
  6. Click NEXT until you reach the USER SELECTION window
  7. Check the lower radio button “Do not display user policy…” and click NEXT twice
  8. Click FINISH
  9. Expand the tree Computer Configuration/Windows Settings/Scripts/Startup
  10. Now browse your closest domain controller to something like \\DOMAINCONTROLLER\SYSVOL\DOMAINNAME\Policies\{XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX}\Machine\Scripts\Startup; in this folder you should find the scripts that are run on your computer

At this point you can copy these files and read their content and, if they are clear enough, remove any doubt on what your SysAdmin is trying to do with these scripts.


November 10, 2008  9:26 AM

Social networks…what’s next?

alessandro.panzetta Alessandro Panzetta Profile: alessandro.panzetta

I subscribed to Facebook a couple of weeks ago and I found it exciting because I could find some University peers, family members in the US, former colleagues and so on but now I wonder: what to do now?

I spent some days at “building relationships” trying to find all persons I could by searching, inviting,asking friends, I’ve also joined a couple of communities but now I’m stuck, don’t know what to do next!

I still remember the days in which I started surfing the web on Mosaic, Yahoo and so on…I went to bed with my mind working at incredible speeds. I was astonished at thinking how many opportunities I had from that moment on: I could have news about my favorite band (U2!!!) without the need of buying newspapers, I could chat to someone on the other side of the world, I could have tech manuals at a glance and so on … my mind couldn’t stop thinking on the possibilities.

In the last months I’ve tried these new “hypes” on the net such as SecondLife and Facebook in the end what they gave me was just an initial excitement, they “pumped up” my  curiosity for a couple of days but after that all became boring, not interesting anymore because they are not real “a step forward” stuff.

Is this due to my mind or simply we are so much flooded of new things everyday that suddenly our attention looses its way?


November 2, 2008  9:38 AM

IT: the past and the future

alessandro.panzetta Alessandro Panzetta Profile: alessandro.panzetta

In my experience as a SysAdmin I’ve had the opportunity to put my hands on several IT infrastructures and I’ve seen many ways of using the IT technologies. I’ve seen things that humans….oops that was another thing :)

Actually I’m not managing these infrastructures anymore because I’ve crossed the border and have become an IT user leaving the burden of administering to someone else so I’ve had the time and occasion to think about it.

In an era in which web based applications are already an obsolete thought, in which most of our activities are web based and the main goal of many IT managers is concentrate IT functions in one place in order to reduce maintenance, running costs, energy consumption and so on. So it will probably come one day when the company where we work for will be a unique network based place.

Said this I wonder: is the mainframe concept coming back?

Together with this phenomena we also can see the software industry to act in this direction too; Microsoft just released their web based Office suite and image editing has gone to the web, various companies have provided tools that allow you to keep your stuff on the web (Live Mesh, Gmail, etc) and users don’t have to think of backups, antivirus and all of the things they have usually manage. As you see these are evolutions of the old terminals!!!

But we’re not anymore in the past, we’re actually living our present and have to think about the future…let’s do an effort and try to imagine this.

Another thing we have to think of is the network connection that is becoming, day after day, available everywhere. GPRS, Edge, UMTS, HDSPA, WiMax, BlackBerry are all technologies that aim at keep you connected and, once you’re hooked to the Internet, be able to reach your company’s network and perform your tasks. Additionally more and more companies are dealing with an increasing number of home-office users that work 8 hours a day by not being present in the office.

I’m a person who loves to visualize that means that when I think I usually create a mental image of what I’m thinking about so let’s see how I imagine my working days in the future.

My car will mount what I call device that is a mix of a car radio, movie/mp3 player, GPS navigator, thin client that is continuously connected to the internet and this will be in communication with a kind of AI that behaves as my personal secretary.

I enter my car and put my daughter in the back seat, turn on the engine and turn on the device.

Hi James, so what’s new today?” – I ask by voice to the device that I’m use to call James.

Good morning Alessandro, you’ve received 12 new emails last night, do you want me to read them?” – James responds.

Yes please but keep it short, I just woke up!”

1st message is from IT Department and says that the scheduled maintenance shutdowns have been performed, then John Doe wrote you about the last conference call with Contoso, he attached a Word document too…” – James keeps telling until I say him to stop and schedule a meeting with John and to send a meeting request to the Contoso guys too.

I watch in the rear-mirror and ask to my daughter: “Honey, do you want to see some cartoons? Or I’d switch to MTV?

The novel can go ahead for the whole working day but I let you imagine what life could really look like.

I’m looking forward living these days…that shouldn’t be so far anyway :)


October 16, 2008  8:11 AM

[TLBAT] Intranet: ADMIN section and the final conclusions.

alessandro.panzetta Alessandro Panzetta Profile: alessandro.panzetta

So in the previous post I’ve suggested you to use the Persist ASP Upload components (not free), some of you may wonder why…well it’s easy: this component not only allows you to upload your files via ASP but also gives you the opportunity to set the ACLs (Access Control List) on the files so in the end if we’re uploading a file that will be restricted to a given group the component will also set the corresponding ACL to the file!

This post is the only one for the Download Center and I will finally provide you with all files needed for the thing to have a working Download Center! At any time feel free to ask me your questions or any doubts on this tool….now let’s rock and download the files!


September 30, 2008  7:22 AM

[TLBAT] Intranet: upload files

alessandro.panzetta Alessandro Panzetta Profile: alessandro.panzetta

So here uit comes the first post in the Admin section of our Download Center!

In order to have an upload feature in our administration section I used the Persist ASP Upload component that gave me a better control on the upload process. I know it’s not free but when I designed this project (about 2002!!!)  this is what I used so if you prefer another component justuse your own :)

A file that we can now download for free is the aspupload.inc …you don’t even have to download it, just copy the code below and save it to your disc to a text file named aspupload.inc

=====CODE=====

<%

‘    AspUpload Constants Include File

‘    Copyright (c) Persits Software, Inc. All rights reserved.

‘ LogonUser’s Type Parameter
const        LOGON_INTERACTIVE    = 2
const        LOGON_NETWORK        = 3
const        LOGON_BATCH            = 4
const        LOGON_SERVICE        = 5

‘ Generic Access Types
const        GENERIC_ALL            = &H10000000
const        GENERIC_EXECUTE        = &H20000000
const        GENERIC_WRITE        = &H40000000
const        GENERIC_READ        = &H80000000

‘ Standard Access Types
const        DELETE                = &H00010000
const        READ_CONTROL        = &H00020000
const        WRITE_DAC            = &H00040000
const        WRITE_OWNER            = &H00080000
const        WRITE_SYNCHRONIZE    = &H00100000

‘ Specific Access Types for Files

const        FILE_GENERIC_READ        = &H120089
const        FILE_GENERIC_WRITE        = &H120116
const        FILE_GENERIC_EXECUTE    = &H1200A0

const        FILE_READ_DATA            = &H0001
const        FILE_WRITE_DATA            = &H0002
const        FILE_APPEND_DATA        = &H0004
const        FILE_READ_EA            = &H0008
const        FILE_WRITE_EA            = &H0010
const        FILE_EXECUTE            = &H0020
const        FILE_READ_ATTRIBUTES    = &H0080
const        FILE_WRITE_ATTRIBUTES    = &H0100

‘ File Attributes
const        FILE_ATTRIBUTE_READONLY        = &H1
const        FILE_ATTRIBUTE_HIDDEN        = &H2
const        FILE_ATTRIBUTE_SYSTEM        = &H4
const        FILE_ATTRIBUTE_DIRECTORY    = &H10
const        FILE_ATTRIBUTE_ARCHIVE        = &H20
const        FILE_ATTRIBUTE_NORMAL        = &H80
const        FILE_ATTRIBUTE_TEMPORARY    = &H100
const        FILE_ATTRIBUTE_COMPRESSED    = &H800

‘ Sort-by Attributes for Directory Collection.
‘ These are NOT standard Windows NT constants
const        SORTBY_NAME                =    1
const        SORTBY_TYPE                =    2
const        SORTBY_SIZE                =    3
const        SORTBY_CREATIONTIME        =    4
const        SORTBY_LASTWRITETIME    =    5
const        SORTBY_LASTACCESSTIME    =    6

%>
 =====END CODE=====


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