Free copies of Microsoft Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008!

imageRegister for the “Hero’s happen here” launch event, and Microsoft is giving away free  copies of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008! 

Find out if your City or Country is hosting an event quick!

I’m going for the launch event, but keep in mind you have another option to get everything CHEAP: a Technet Direct Plus subscriber, I get nearly all Microsoft software and beta including Server, Exchange, Sharepoint, Vista etc. for $250 a year.  The first year cost $350 , but in either case I get two free support calls per year, 10 licenses for nearly every product Microsoft offers.  Check out:

How does getting a legal copy of Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 for $59.95 strike you?

imageOk, so you have to be a current student with an email address ending in .edu, and  be actively enrolled with at least a .5 course load,  but that’s over $500 off the price!  Expires April 30, 2008 Get it here:

svchost.exe problems?

Many processes run under the name “SVCHOST.EXE” and when it has problems, it’s difficult to track down the cause.  Examples of problems include system hangs or 100% CPU utilization that is attributed to the service.  The performance team of Microsoft put together an easy way to conquer these problems, that is if you’re windows savvy.  This applies to w2k, XP and Vista

The highlights:

1) tasklist /SVC /FI “IMAGENAME eq svchost.exe”  compare the process ID with the process ID in task manager having the problem.

2) sc config <service name> type= own

3) bounce the service

Windows Vistas Service Pack 1 RC "Refresh" available for download

If you installed a previous pre-sp1 Vista service pack, you must uninstall it first.  The release is here: 

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Vista sp1 Release Candidate available for download

Microsoft has quietly released a RC build of Vista SP1 to the public.  You can get it here:  I installed it and did notice a small performance increase overall, but boot timeimage seems longer.  I had a “Crash” a few days later where my screen was black and only the cursor was shown.  I had to reboot to clear the problem, but other than that it seems an improvement.  Again, I suggest waiting for the official release.  Note that according to the readme you will have to uninstall this RC1 before installing the final release.  The install took about an hour(!) to complete.   One of the benefits is that if you have a system that is not activated, it will allow you to continue to use the OS, but will nag all the time instead of putting you into a reduced access mode.

Office 2007 sp1 – A plethora of crashes

(updated with screen shot)

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I was happy to see that sp1 was available for Office 2007, as typically office patches are tested well.  So far I’ve been very unhappy with the stability of Outlook 2007 after sp1.  I constantly have “painting errors” where outlook’s task bar on the image bottom of the screen is shown on top of my quick launch bar. I move my mouse over it and the quick-launch icons are painted properly, however, whenever this happens I am no longer able to pull up the outlook window.  Vista shows the animation of minimize & restore, but no window is ever shown.   The only way to recover is to right-click on the task-bar and select close.   It happens 1+ times a day, which makes it incredibly annoying.  Prior to sp1 this never happened.   I’ve seen two other problems, but they happened only once each.  I found another article talking about another known problem with no fix:

Adding Search Providers in Internet Explorer 7.. and bypass some Internet Filters

IE7 comes with a built-in search bar on the right of the address bar.  If you pull down the right arrow, there is an option to choose where a search should occur.  I use Google mostly, so I change the default to Google.  There is also another option ” Find more Providers” which will allow you to add (you can choose to eliminate any trace of what you searched for – which is good for looking for Christmas Gifts), or eBay, Monster, Amazon, Facebook, MySpace, Expedia, etc.  You can also add your own provider, such as ““, which can be then used to bypass Internet filters in locations that have sites blocked.  Use this knowledge wisely or you might want to monitor you user’s activities to see if they are already using this trick.

Microsoft is giving Windows Vista away for FREE for your feedback..

Update: this is deadYou don’t see this everyday.. If you are dead-set to get Vista ( if you have XP don’t,) or want to upgrade to Ultimate here is your chance.  You will have to fill out surveys, but to me seems a small price to pay:

Microsoft Releases Windows XP sp3 RC1

There is a lot of buzz about sp3 for Windows XP.  If you haven’t upgraded to Vista, you might want to check this out.  NOTE: this is NOT the final release, so only install this if you are ok with running beta software.  One of the benefits touted is a boost in performance of the OS. 

ImageX now has a GUI front-end

From the folks who brought you AUTOIT, a new tool to give administrators a GUI front-end to the new Windows Vista imaging tool Imagex.  I would script the image creation so the command-line tool is a better fit, but if you prefer to manually create the images then this tool might help you avoid some of the gotchas of the command line (did you forget to commit that change?)

Gmail – IMAP access Outlook

You can configure Outlook to pull your email for a Gmail email address, but I experienced some slowness during the process.  I found a blog that described a few things you can do to speed it up.