Spiceworks 5.0 The whole new frontier of Everything IT

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We love updates, specially when it comes to products, which already might be topping our list of favorite; either it be next version of Windows or next version of Smartphone OS of our favorite brand or your favorite Management software. So, here you are, coming September (my birthday month) bringing the biggest release of the IT management software Spiceworks (I covered sometimes back), the 19th release.

Spiceworks and me: It took a learning curve to me to get used for Spiceworks, as I taken a look over it about two years back as a free Software. I wasn’t that big impressed that time or could say kind of scared of many options and ads around within the interface. But now I feel that I was stupid that time and when it came back again, then it kept on amazing me …

I primarily using it for two purposes as of now ..

  1. Gather Inventory info from Multi-Domain structure: That’s probably one of the biggest task for any infra, if you need to get your hand dirty by going to each PC by yourself to gather info. Spiceworks not only empower an IT Admin to gather the same info by sitting at one place, but it provides flexibility of using authentication of multiple domains as well means no more worries. Best part still remains the way it provides you excel reports in exact way you always wanted.

    But the last releases have enabled users to not only gather info but to interact with running processes at the moment and many other relevant info of IT Management.

  2. Helpdesk: Perhaps among all the free/ open source IT Helpdesk software’s, I might have gone through in all those years, never found anyone compared to Spiceworks IT Helpdesk Software. Other one either focuses on concept of one IT person managing the helpdesk and lodging calls on behalf of users and assigning calls to engineers accordingly or even if give users some kind of console, then leave it utterly simple without no option to customize as per your needs.

    I feel Spiceworks Helpdesk solution could very well stand as an independent product and still will be a hot cake. It really gives you enough hands on customizations, rules, priorities, designing and even associating tickets with asset’s profile. Great!!! what else you could have wanted.


What’s new inside version 5.0

There is a lot of info on the official community page, which you could find here and if you can’t hold yourself waiting till the final release in September, then yesterday night they already has released the beta that you could download from here. There are some rules about testing out any beta, but I will come over the same later on.

Spiceworks is just not the two features I mentioned above, it some huge, very huge that’s why they call it everything IT, keeping track of your purchases, IT Services and many more.. lets see what the latest version got as addition:

  • Multi-site Helpdesk: When heard the name for the first time, I was confused that what is it, but later on reading about, it fascinated me a lot. Multi-Site helpdesk means many Helpdesk consoles that might be running in different site with different customizations, different prospects and still gather the data for a central console. Wow!!!! what else I was looking for, got my wish granted even before wishing for it.

    Things to try out with this beta are:

    Helpdesk

    1. Connect a remote site to a central helpdesk site.
    2. Submit tickets from a remote sites portal and respond to them from the central helpdesk.
    3. Set-up email at the remote site and have users submit tickets (including attachments) and confirm they reach the central helpdesk. Respond to the ticket from the central site.
    4. Customize the remote portal.

  • Purchasing: If I am right then there are purchase ticket kind of option in current version as well, but it got a complete redesign and attention with this release only. Finance people should really check this feature out rather than working over some custom made buggy CRM or maintaining the track of purchases manually. You can now use a purchasing workflow on tickets to track approval, ordering and receipt of purchases.

     
    Things to try out with this beta are:

    1. Add purchase to tickets
    2. View purchases and how they relate to Help Desk tickets, inventory and IT Services
    3. Approve and track purchases
    4. Shop for purchases

  • LDAP Authentication via SSL: It always been a treat to watch that how effortless the authentication methods of Spiceworks are. Either be it on user side or IT side, I never faced any big issue and using the AD authentication for logging into Helpdesk been superb thing to me. New Addition is LDAP with SSL that sure going to grab attention of security savy techies, who were avoiding it on the basis of security risks.

    Things to try out with this beta are:

    1. Access via Help Desk > Settings
    2. Users who have an Active Directory will be able to use an SSL option for user portal login
    3. Users can choose an SSL Configuration or leave unchecked for a regular Active Directory Configuration

  • Hyper-V support: Virtualization is something everyone is talking about right now. Recession has taught IT Administrators and companies to work in most efficient manners and probably the biggest technology catching up been the Virtualization. Hyper-V support really adds the missing part of Spiceworks as Virtual is today’s real. 

    New support for Hyper-V in 5.0 means that you’ll be able to discover your Microsoft virtual machines servers. This is in addition to the ability 4.6 delivered to discover your VMware virtualization servers (ESX/ESXi & vSphere) and virtual machines.

    Things to try out with this beta are:

    1. After a scan of your Hyper-V device in 5.0, verify the VM’s tab displays when viewing the device.
    2. Verify the content on the VM tab is accurate.
    3. Verify the Hyper-V server displays in the Virtualization Hosts group
    4. Verify the Hyper-V VM’s display in the Virtual Machines group.

  • NAS support: This is brand new and advanced feature in compliance of escalating expectations from Spiceworks. Many were asking that if Spiceworks could report even individual workstation disk spaces from thousand machines on daily basis, then why not something real like Network Storage? Version 5.0 beginning support for Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. By inspecting the Web-based Management User Interfaces (MUI) of your Buffalo and Netgear devices, Spiceworks can gather device and disk space details, and show any changes over time.

    Things to try out with this beta are:

    1. Create an HTTP account type on the network scan settings page. This is the same account name and password that you would normally use to access the NAS Web-based MUI.
    2. Scan your NAS device.
    3. Verify the Total Disk Usage Information on the Configuration tab.
    4. Report back to the community and please post the Manufacturer of your NAS. (We have tested this with a Buffalo NAS device but we are looking for users with Netgear to try this out.)

  • Backup/Configuration of network devices: Spiceworks been always amazing to me in terms of backup and restore, it has even options of automatic backup over scheduled times. Not a single incident happened with me, when any of the update asked me to restore back any configuration as it handles most of the thing automatically. But there are many other devices in your network that might not be that lucky and you need to backup them on regular basis like your switches, routers, audio cards .. sure this might be a huge plus on part of the upcoming release in some scenario, if implemented well. It not only allows you to configure and backup your network devices directly from within Spiceworks but also let you compare configuration changes with previous versions to help in troubleshooting network issues.

    Things to try out with this beta are:

    1. Create Telnet and Enable scan accounts for your network devices.
    2. After a network scan select a network device through the inventory and view the gathered configuration data from the device’s Configuration tab
    3. After a change has been made to the device’s configuration, run another network scan and verify the device’s Running Configuration is now different from its Startup configuration, this can be done by select the Changes option for any configuration listed.
    4. Select Restore for any configuration that has been gathered to apply that particular configuration to the network device.

  • SNMPv2c and SNMPv3 support: The beauty of the Spiceworks in best lies within its support to global technologies that doesn’t need a client to be installed on each machine to gather the info and the upcoming version going to add support for SNMPv2c and SNMPv3. You’ll now be able to see more network devices scanned into inventory.

    Things to try out with this beta are:

    1. Create an SNMPv2c or SNMPv3 account on the Network scan settings page.
    2. SNMPv2c supports a community string authentication.
    3. SNMPv3 default options ‘authPriv:md5:des:username’ or ‘authNoPriv:md5:username’. You replace the ‘username’ with the username you log into the device.
    4. Scan your device using the SNMPv2c or SNMPv3 account and confirm the device shows up in your inventory.


So, what’s you waiting for grab the beta and start with it and if you are new to Spiceworks, then could check my introduction article over it or check their official page. I repeat it, its kind of essential weapon for any person handling IT Infra at a better level.

Nokia 7230 – Surprise member to family

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As I wrote sometimes back, many of us passing through a time, where we are stuck about buying any phone. While buying any Smartphone was a complete no go, my problem was solved by one friend of mine, who decided to lend her newly bought Nokia 7230 to me for a while.

 

Finding a full blown review for a S40 device is hard in age of apps and computer like specs phones, but sometimes one should think that not everyone wants a 10k device with loads of advanced features. Many wants just a phone that works well for calls, SMS, Music and if possible then some more … Nokia 7230 somewhat seems to filling the same gap. A 3G successor for Cheap Nokia Supernova 7210 with a slider under Rs. 6, 000/- may sure attract some numbers.


Hard to write on a foreign ground, but trying to … one shouldn’t consider this a review but a rant only…

The retail box: The retail box was holding kind of no surprise. The usual Charger, Data cable, Phone, simple headsets and A manual that’s it.

The 2GB memory card was fitted inside and the battery was 860 mAh, not the greatest, but fair enough for the deal. The price was Rs. 5800/-

Design: Sometimes its hard to know what exactly might interest to customers and even if people accusing Nokia about their OS, I really feel that at least with the variety of hardware design, Nokia is something that is kind of unbeatable. If you skip iPhone like looks, then Nokia probably have handsets in each design. That’s only Nokia that could build such solid sliding phones, otherwise, after Samsung SGH-330 experience, I was away from sliders forever.

On the sheet of measures, a size 10 x 5.5 cm, when folded sure finds affection for it, specially when it has a metallic border covering all the sides. Though the plastic back and its way of opening and closing kind of freaks me out, honestly speaking, neither do I feel cool about the cap over mini USB port coz of the way it opens and close. Things which has to be opened and closed many a times, should be made in a way that will not harm in long run.

I admit, it delights me whenever I see a fresh device with a Nokia logo with white background as the one in the picture above and Nokia’s T9 seems to be running in our DNA that with any new set of Nokia we feel like home. Keys looked similar to what I seen in Nokia 5310 XpressMusic, but with more comfort and grip as you can see yourself. Though power off keys and right menu keys sometimes may annoy you, if you get the phone accidently switch off while you try to press Left Menu Key.

The overall design focus on keeping it minimal, but I am very glad that they managed to put the camera button on side, which many manufacturer just prefer to miss. Other than Camera button, we just find one charging hole, one 3.5mm jack and the miniUSB port; all three place on the top of the device. Nothing else …

I wont call the device exactly slim (I seen 5310, if you remember), but its still slimmer than Nokia N82 in width 14.8mm to be precise and build is truly solid for this price point.

One of my friend commented that why not to make the sliding back made of mirror kind of element? Will have another heads up for females… good idea!! isn’t it?


Features: First talk about Hardware. A 2.4” TFT capable of displaying 16M colors.. kind of standard for a Nokia, though the way, S40 is making use of it, seems not of my taste at least. Such big fonts and icons, when the screen could have displayed small icons and menu with more ease. Something was sure wrong, when folks at Nokia were designing theme for this handset. See that big clock and network/ battery icons ..

While the handset been promoted as one of the cheapest 3G sets around, I will warn people coming this way for faster internet. This one has no HSPDA means a max of some 372 kbps speed, not that 2-3 mbps, we usually enjoy on handsets like E52 or C5 and that’s really not cool. Though I understand the limitation of this price point too and you can’t blame Nokia for this.

We have a 3.5 MP camera here and though 3G is capable of supporting video calling, but I didn’t seen any S40 having the same capability in past and so it was out of shot that by any chance, this one was going to have a front camera. No protecting cover for Camera lens, no flash and not even night mode, but still the camera works very decent. Though I am not some kind of photography expert, but I feel the pictures below are good enough for a 3.5 MP ..

Though the retail box very proudly displays an App Click-N-Share, but I am yet to discover the same, which provides the well advertised feature of sharing your snap over Flicker, Ovi etc. I wonder that why it’s not part of pre-installed package and why we need to send SMS, get a link and then install the same.

As it targets to Indian crowd and specially Music lovers, the device is packed with FM Radio and very freshly designed Music player. Though no dedicated Music keys might make you grin, but at the same time, you loved the minimalistic simplicity too. The audio is loud enough though loud speakers on back sure annoy me on kind of lesser loudness than I expected. The software has a equalizer option too.. cool

 


Network reception: Let me tell you, in now days whatever device we run through, we never forget to take a death grip test of the same and without exception all of Nokia devices disappoint about this particular world famous feature, not even this under 100$ phone. So, there is no death grip and for the people, it matters, it has following supporting network ranges

2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network UMTS 900 / 2100 / 1900

Call clarity is superb for Indian conditions, better than even Nokia N82 as its kind of too loud than N82’s decent sound, but loud speakers suck, don’t know why.


Software: Symbian S40, either you like it or hate it or better to say, you can like it, if haven’t seen any of Smartphone OS ever, if you have seen one, then you are spoiled. Though S40 amazingly optimizes your device for longer music playback and talk time, you really wonder that how people were managing with iPhone, when there was no multi-tasking.

Only Radio and Music player seems to be something that could be left running in background otherwise, you need to close whatever you might be doing, when some SMS come and you wish to read. Nothing like that you minimize the web page you were viewing or pause the game you were playing, went to read SMS and came back to resume. Nope!!! either SMS or the work you were doing, that’s our S40, low end devices made for people, who want their phones for call, SMS, Music and photos only.

There is Ovi Store in the device, there is Nokia IM, there is Nokia Messaging for a complete surprise and also Ovi Maps 3.0 (which are amazingly fast in startup) even if device doesn’t has GPS or A-GPS chip. What disappointed me if no support for Ovi Contacts, which is a complete shame as even older devices like Nokia 5310 XpressMusic now featuring the same. Why Nokia 7230 was denied the due, even on having the same OS S40, only they knows.

Maps not only provides the option of searching routes offline, but also enable contacts to have Find on map option, if some address is written in contacts.

Though bigger fonts size annoy big time, contacts has options like displaying Name and number in grid or name and pics. I wonder some day S40 will find social integration as well.

Calender has the same format as usual and we got Nokia Life Tools included in offering …


Apps to install: Not much of multi-tasking here, so not much you can think of, but I managed two of great apps Sanptu, which I preferred for Twitter and Ebuddy as Nokia IM not showing Gtalk service without proper bandwidth. Rest we already have Opera mini here, so nothing in essential list remains pending. Though I add my own Ovi App, Cricket 20-20 in my favourites as usual.


Lamination: Not sure that many guys love it or not, but it might be good idea to get your device laminated after buying, cost was Rs. 130/- to me, but the man did a very decent job. Check out the pictures given below …

Note: All pics here are courtesy my Nokia N82

So, this was some sort of walkthrough, I taken with the device.. my recommendations are still in favour of strictly S60 only, either 5233 in Rs. 6, 500/- or C5 in Rs. 7800/- must be a choice for buyers. Sure if anyone wishes to suggest something different, I am all for it.