Removing IE9 from Windows 7 (and keeping it off)

Update: This article covers removal, see the IE9 Blocker Toolkit from Microsoft to keep it from installing. If you’re looking for registry options, the important values are DoNotAllowIE90 and DoNotOfferIE90 in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Setup\9.0.

I’ve had to remove Internet Explorer 9 from a variety of new PCs lately because they’re connecting to online services (hospitals, medical labs, radiology services, etc.) that are not yet compatible with the new version, including issues in Compatibility mode. I’ve also needed to provide instructions (now reproduced here) for some physicians to do the same on home PCs so they can connect into those same systems.

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Configuring apcupsd on Linux for Multiple USB UPSes

I recently needed to add monitoring of a UPS powering network equipment to a Linux server already monitoring one USB-connected UPS. Since the second UPS also uses a USB connection for monitoring apcpusd (the standard UPS management package for Linux systems) was not seeing it. This is not a fault of the software – it’s designed to work pretty much seamlessly with detection of a single UPS and does so, but autodetectin multiple battery backups would still require some level of manual configuration – at the very least, which one(s) are powering the monitoring system in case it needs to shut down? The solution is to set up udev rules to let the system recognize each attached UPS as a distinct device using the serial number of the UPS, then follow the instructions for managing multiple UPSes in the manual. Continue reading Configuring apcupsd on Linux for Multiple USB UPSes

Email Marketing - Use A Service

I occasionally get requests from clients for assistance with sending out email marketing to their existing clients. My advice in these situations is always the same: Use A Service.

Every client that I’ve dealt with that’s interested in this kind of marketing starts out planning to do it using their regular email account, but there are good reasons not to do so. The reasons for using a service break down into three key areas: creation of your content, distribution of your content, and management of your address list. Keep reading for some notes on those.

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Monochrome Laser Printer TCO/Cost - Preliminary Results

I’m regularly asked by customers “Which laser printer should we get?” or “What’s the cheapest good laser printer?” Here’s an initial stab at answering those questions. I’ve been pulling together some numbers on the costs to purchase & run assorted monochrome laser printers. While there’s still work to be done on tracking down some items like maintenance kit part numbers and prices, none of the outstanding information is likely to lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a printer.

The preliminary numbers have surprised me quite a bit.

  • Brother – a company I’ve always looked at as being a good choice for a home printer – is hands-down the winner on a pure cost standpoint over almost the entire range of print volumes.
  • Hewlett-Packard/HP, which I knew would command a price premium, is never even within 15% of the best TCO, with toner costs in its low- to mid-range LaserJet printers more than twice most other manufacturers.
  • Lexmark, another brand that I expected to be somewhat pricey, was within 15% of the best TCO only with one low-end printer under very light loads typical of household use.
  • Dell, while the numbers are incomplete, looks like a very solid value for higher-volume printing or over the long term (300,000+ pages)

Read More for print volume numbers and some specific printers.

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Calculating Printer Costs and TCO

I’m currently working up an article on the total cost of ownership (TCO) for printers and choosing printers for your office, but while I work on the details (including researching costs for a variety of printers) here’s some information on the calculations involved. This is important for small to midsize offices because the variation in cost between different printer manufacturers and between low-end, midrange and high-end printers can add up to thousands of dollars a year in consumables.

Currently I’m only focusing on monochrome/black & white laser printers. The same calculations can be applied to color and multifunction/all-in-one printers as far as printing is concerned, but they don’t take into account the potential added value of the additional features (and volume of color printing will vary by office). I’m also not factoring in the cost of paper, since it’s effectively a constant – it’s unlikely that paper cost will vary based on which printer is chosen.

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Slow Startup with Multiple 'Starting' Services After Malware

I had an interesting problem with a server (Windows 2003 Standard) at a small business (6 users total) the other day – a very long startup time. The server in question is a standalone domain controller/DC as well as a database/application server and file/print server. Terminal Services is installed & configured, but rarely used – mostly for access from outside the office. Database and domain services/authentication were available fairly quickly, as were console logins (via UltraVNC/uVNC) – probably 15-20 minutes to that stage, but more than an hour before terminal services/remote desktop was available.

Digging around on the console attempting to track down the source of the problems, I found multiple services listed as “Starting” – all of them malware-based, with the actual infection cleaned out. My suspicion is that these non-startable services were causing the startup of other services to be delayed, though in this case I’m not really planning on setting up a test system to verify that.

In the rest of this post I’ll give a bit more detail on the scenario, what I found, what was needed to clean it out, and a few more notes on what I suspect was happening.

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Avoid VBScript for Web Apps

Earlier this week I spent some time troubleshooting a browser-based application that a client is using. The problem cropped up on a PC with a clean install of Windows XP SP3 after assorted system corruption that wasn’t worth the time to repair.

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Choosing Printers for the Office

For many small businesses, when it’s time to add or replace a printer in your office it’s easy to just go to an office supply store and buy whatever’s on sale. It’s also almost always a mistake.

It’s worth doing at least a little research when you’re purchasing technology items, particularly for items that you expect to last or that use consumables – specifically printers and fax machines. Because of the use of paper, toner or ink and possibly maintenance supplies, the up-front purchase price of a printer or fax machine is only a very small part of the total cost you’ll pay over several years of ownership. There may also be a surprisingly significant difference in setup costs between different pieces of equipment if you’re paying a third party to set up equipment and get it working for you.

This article leads off a series of occasional articles on purchasing printers for your office with a quick overview of some of the issues that I’ll examine in more detail in future articles.

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