Google Apps – Colaboration Revolution

Google Apps is one of the topics you here about every now and then. Open up a tech magazine and you see it in there somewhere, read your favorite blog, which most likely has Google AdSense on it to help generate revenue has Google Apps as an add and honestly; I don’t think this product suite has gotten the attention from the tech community that it deserves. Let’s just take Google out of this one for a minute. Picture that you are a small business owner, have a failing email server, are running on an old version of Microsoft Office that has a really annoying error every time you try to save, you have rigorous practices to attempt to backup all of your data including your email and documents and then comes a shiny new product suite that fit’s your bill quite nicely. The ability to offload all of my email server problems to Google which by the way syncs your email across multiple servers for redundancy (you don’t see that in any mom and pop shops), your Office Suite can be replaced by Goggle Doc’s and spreadsheets which is actually three applications, a word process or much like Microsoft Word or Open Writer, a spreadsheet application like Microsoft Excel or Open Office’s calc; and a presentation software which is a replacement for Microsoft PowerPoint or Open Office’s Impress. Did I mention that this is all free? You get 2Gb of online email storage; an office suite; collaboration software (Chat / Multi User Google Docs), a standards based calendering system which you can import and export to and from other applications, a free web editor (though not very intuitive), and the best part of all, it’s free. One limit however is, I do have to say that the bigger screen the better on these app’s though. Because you do your document work inside a web browser; the bookmarks; buttons; and URL bar are kind of just taking up extra space which reduces the space in which you view the document.

There are 3 different versions of Google Apps available. Standard, premium, and Education. The first one, standard, is the one that I use. It is limited to 2Gb of email storage space, does not have some API’s that you canLink write against for single sign on; authentication and other policy and management goo. It also lacks a little bit of support that the other two get. But it is free. The premium edition has 25Gb of storage space and cost’s $50 per user per year. Which, is actually pretty cheap if you ask me. Other than that, the premier and education versions are the same. Some institutions actually have upwards of 65,000 users on Google App’s. I’m just in awe of that.


Another feature that I forgot to mention is the tie in for Blackberry and Trio Smart Phone support. Through a mobile application that needs to be installed on either the Blackberry or Trio phones, you can easily connect to, read and write emails, check your calendar, and chat with users on Google Talk. For just web capable phones, there’s the Google Apps mobile page which is . From there, you can check your email, write a quick one, chat and view your calendar. I hope you all take a few minutes to look at the video’s that I have mentioned above that explain all the cool stuff that Google Apps offeres, and possibly try it out on a domain of your own. It is amazingly easy to setup and maintain. If you are too lazy to click on the links above, here is the short and sweet version of the Google App’s presentation.


Easy Windows Profile Migration

Tonight I was at a client site working on an Server 2003 / Exchange 2007 Deployment for a client which required us to disjoin computers from the old domain and add them to the new domain. Well, the trick to a successful deployment of any product is ease of use, for the IT guy’s and the end user. The end user is ultimately affected by what we do so we try to minimize the changes that are actually made to their experience. For the IT guy’s, how can me make this easy, simple, and yet functional. When it comes to profile migration, there are a few tools out there that will do it for you, some cost money, some don’t. For me, those are too complicated to learn and master. Secondly we have the profile copy utilities like xcopy and robocopy which I honestly still use quite often, they work and work well in my opinion, however, the third option is the best and easiest to do. A simple registry hack to change the GUID that you are logged on with as the user, to point to a different profile path. Here are the steps to execute such a plan.

  • Change the local administrator password
  • Disjoin the system from the old domain
  • Use the set command to determine what profile path the user is currently using
  • Reboot the system
  • Login as the local administrator
  • Join the system to the new domain
  • Reboot the system
  • Login as the user on the new domain
  • Logoff and logon as the domain administrator
  • Open regedit and modify ProfileImagePath within “[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionProfileList]”
  • Change the permissions on that profile path within explorer, give the user full control and propagate to the child directories and file.
  • Reboot (Last Time)
  • Login with the user on the domain and you should have the “old” working profile with the new domain user account.

This process took two fairly skilled individuals about 5 hours to complete on 18 systems and that included doing the first “test” machine and troubleshooting any problems that might have come up (missing mapped network drives, incorrect shortcut paths, etc.). Hope this helps you along the way as it did me when I learned it. If you have any suggestions, options, better methods, please let me know. I’m all ears.

blog – VNC / SSH based remote administration

Earlier this week I was looking for a way to connect to remote users, share their screen with them and meanwhile, do it securely. I stumbled across one that jumped out at me. It takes, an ssh client/server creates a point to point tunnel with the companies servers and then allows the other end (the viewer) to do the same so that the complete connection is encrypted with ssh. I haven’t found out what version of ssh it uses yet. Across the ssh tunnel, it utilizes WinVNC as it’s client/server for remote viewing. So far I’m pretty happy with the product except, I have found a problem with it’s ability to work when you have another VNC program installed. I had RealVNC installed on my work computer and that somehow prevented WinVNC to launch and allow me to connect to the remote machine. Check out the software at It only requires that you download it, no installation required or available keeping your computer clean of extra software. Let me know if you have any other alternatives.

blog Linux pfSense Ubuntu

Everyday Free Tools – Tech Stuff

Each and every day I use a set of tools, mostly free or open source ones that help me get through the day. I though I would list of a few of them for you so that you can give them a shot as well.

Home Computer

I have a Panasonic Toughbook laptop running Ubuntu 7.04 that I really haven’t modified too awful much because I like the look and feel of the OS as it is. Here’s a list of things that I use everyday or every so often to accomplish a task without spending any money.

Operating SystemUbuntu 7.04 – Stable, clean, easy to install, based on GNOME and very well supported by the community. I would say that the forums for Ubuntu are better than most and for some reason, the users of Ubuntu are much nicer than that of Red Hat and others. attached to my Gmail account (I do my own hosting)

Firewall pfSense – I mentioned this a few post’s ago. I absolutely love this firewall.

Document ManagementGoogle Doc’s and Spreadsheets – This one is really neat, you can upload your Microsoft Office Word and Excel files as well as OpenOffice equivalent documents up to Google, edit them, and even save off as PDF documents if need be. – This site has been around for a little while now, It allows you to basically make your own radio station, and it dynamically learns what music you want to listen to. A side spawn of this project is Squeezebox which allows you to turn your music library into a radio station with streaming music.

Chat – Gaim – It’s easy to use, installed by default on Ubuntu, and supports multiple accounts. On Linux and Windows you can use Pidgin and for Mac OS X you can use Adium.

VoIPTwinkle – So far this is the best SIP capable client for Linux I have found. You can installed it through apt-get or Synaptic on Ubuntu or download it here. On Windows and Mac OS X I use X-Lite from CounterPath. I would say X-Lite is the best of the two but the Linux version sucks in my opinion.

PBXtrixbox – I just started using this because I’m trying to get my company or rather the company I work for into a new market so that we can make some more money as a company which personally helps me through profit sharing. Though, if I didn’t get that last bit, I would still peruse doing phone VoIP systems because I think they are interesting. I have it installed on an old PIII 500 with 256Mb of ram and it suits the needs of my wife an I just fine. A larger scale deployment would need a better server though.

EmailGmail and Evolution – I just started using Evolution about a month ago because Outlook Web Access on Microsoft Exchange 2003 sucks when viewed from Firefox. Damn Microsoft. 🙂 Kidding. Evolution seemed to be a logical choice for me because well, it was already installed on my computer and quite frankly I needed a way to check my mail. Sounds like a match made in heaven. Gmail, as you all probably know, is free and has cool features like web sharable calendars, documents and photos. You will probably see a trend here for me liking everything Google.

I think that’s enough for now. I’ll make a part 2 to this one pretty soon with quite a few more added programs and services that I use everyday for free. Compute free or die.

blog Addiction

Hackers Movie ImageMy brother in law was over this weekend, and bored as any teenager gets but he stumbled across a pretty neat site. Some of you have probably seen this before but for those of you who haven’t I would suggest you get yourself a comfortable place on the couch with your laptop and begin your “hacking” tutorial. The beginner portion of the hacks are very rudimentary, however, the “Basic” 5-10 stumped me pretty well as I really don’t understand Java Script, HTML or PHP for the most part. It’s starts off on level one with a basic “hidden” password that is in clear text in the source of the page. They get harder as you get going but I think I got the bug. I stayed up till 3 a.m. last night getting to “Basic” 10. Like I said, I was struggling quite a bit with the Java injection, PHP command execution and server side code execution. Interesting stuff. The site also has realistic, application, programming, logic, extbasic and Java Script missions. If I keep working on these I’ll do a few more posts on the subject of hacking, and how some of these basic methods of the art can be done. Give it a look at Until then, happy hacking.