Nokia C1-00 and Nokia C2 in India-the twin story begins

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Try to remember that which local brand has released a non-dual SIM phone recently? Leave it, we don’t even know that when they ‘launch’ their phones as everyday there seems to be a new copy of E71, 5800 or Blackberry look-a-like on the roads in just 3-4k with big list of features and prominently one thing that they claim that you wont find in your long trusted brand, the dual SIM feature. We all know that what quality they offer in their other features and as about dual SIM, yes!! now we have an answer …. Nokia C1 and Nokia C2 have arrived in India by yesterday itself.

After continuous rants from the bloggers, the pressure finally seems to be mounted on Nokia about their India operations. Though Indian Launch of two cheapest phones by Nokia’s Executive Vice President Mary McDowell should not be exactly taken as some big sign about change in preferences as the visit might be more related with ongoing issue of push emails as well. But still we should be happy that some Nokia device is finally launched here in India within three months of announcement.

I was aware of arrival of her, when one of my tweeps told me in morning that she has arrived on Chennai Airport and it was clear from recent device orders arriving to India that its gonna be C1 and C2 for sure. but the announcement was made in New Delhi.

McDowell’s official world were ….

As per our deep consumer insights, entry level consumers need dual SIMs for various reasons including economizing time and costs, improving efficiency and for increased convenience. To address these consumer requirements, Nokia has launched these two devices that offer multiple SIM capabilities with a balanced feature set and ‘relevant innovations’ at affordable price points.


Let’s know more about Nokia C1-00 and Nokia C2 ….

Nokia C1-00: With the very first line, let me be clear, its not a dual SIM phone as many might be confused about. But its sure marks the first ever ‘Double SIM’ phone from Nokia.

Now what a dual SIM and what a double meant to be?

A dual SIM or dual standby as per wiki comes with many kind of adapter and first of entry category was the kind of adapter that allows only one SIM active at a time means even if your phone has two SIMs inside, you can’t receive calls on both of them. One would be main SIM and other will remain as standby (not active unless you make that active manually). So, in actual, if you are looking for receiving calls on both of your SIM, then skip it, its not your choice.

Next spoiler is, its C1-00 that is launched in India, not C1-01 or C1-02, both of which as series 40 devices with better capabilities (C1-02 even has basic camera).

Its a very basic model with a price tag of Rs. 1, 999/- and a color screen, probably its more of targeting the users, who loved Nokia 2600 or Nokia 1400. Some other regions has it in price around 1k-1.2k as well, so you could expect the prices to go down here as well very son.

Now, for people making complaints about the price tag, lets see what are the offering with a brand value, reliability and best of the service from biggest mobile brand of planet.

 

It might be looking like old phones, got no GPRS\ EDGE means no MMS, just GSM 900 / 1800, No Bluetooth, No Infrared, S30 Interface and no memory card support, but other than Double SIM, it got many more things.

Design, T9 and Flashlight With dimensions of 107.1 x 45 x 15 mm, 63 cc and weight as 72.9g, its not a bad design at all. No one would be expecting metal here, but T9 keypad is as good as it can be and left bottom key works as shortcut for SIM change as well. The power down key is not at top as many might be used to and located under the cancel key. The five way scroll can be used as shortcut for Flash light as well. Scroll up twice,  Flash light on and scroll once, Flash light off.

It would be available in blue, red, light grey and green colors.

Dual SIM Yes! it has no capability to keep both the SIMs active at the same moment, but it has the capability to divert the calls means you can configure it in way that you wont be missing any call on the other number as well.

Display Interesting display of size 128 x 160 pixels, 1.8 inches this beast has. It got 16 bit colors means total of 65k colors like high end Nokia E5 is supposed to have.

FM Radio The cheap phone not only got a FM radio under the hood, but also got it with a 3.5mm jack means you could hook your phone’s FM with your PC’s speakers as well. Unfortunately there is no shortcut key for this radio though and you have to navigate through menu to find it.

Phone Book If I remember right, then older phones from Nokia at this price point never had more than 200 phonebook entries, but this one got 500 along with usual multiple fields\ numbers and image entries. Though call records are still 20 dialed, 20 received and 20 missed calls means very basic.

SMS I am not expecting S40 like smiley’s and icons here, but in place of usual 20 SMS space as we remember about our old phones, we have space for 250 SMS here, if you were discarding it at the first place.

Battery It seriously urges you that you buy this inexpensive one just for its battery. It uses the same Li-Ion 1020 mAh BL-5C batteries as were in its many leading models like Nokia 1100, but call it evolvement of technology, you received ever best battery life out of it.

Talk time for 13h straight and a standby like of Up to 1152h or around 7 weeks feels like some kind of dream. Think you will find your phone on after some summer trip, if you forgot that back home.

So, if you thought this is just a useless another double SIM phone, then think again.


Nokia C2-00: In a price tag of Rs. 2, 500/-, C2-00 actually stands as first ever real Dual SIM Nokia, not just that unique to Nokia, the second SIM is ‘hot-swappable’ means it could be changed/ removed while keeping the phone on. Note that its with only one SIM as the other one will be situated under the battery. So, obviously you got very good reason to spend some more than buying Nokia C1-00.

Let’s know what more it offers ..

Design and T9 Keypad Its plastic, but definitely much impressive looks wise than Nokia C1-00. Dimensions are a little slimmer with 108 x 45 x 14.65 mm and 67.9 cc, while the weight is slightly higher at 74 g. As you can see that keys are divided in four row with no separation in individual keys in a row. Must be a class experience to type on this grid key design.

Same way, the left bottom key serves as selection key for SIMs, while the right bottom one provide the convenience of mute button and shortcut to radio or Music player. The location of power key is again below the cancel key.

It will be available in grey, black, magenta, dark blue or white. I guess, white would be nice in hands.

Dual SIM As I already explained in first para, we got both the SIMs active here for calls, SMS, MMS or GPRS usages and very unique to Nokia, for the first time we got option of hot swappable SIM as well. I am really looking for knowing that how Nokia software will handle two SIMs together on a S40 interface as the Chinese ones and even Samsung ones freak me out sometimes.

Display The same display of size 128 x 160 pixels, 1.8 inches with 16 bit colors is included in the package, though I think a little higher resolution would have make better use of S40 interface, but anyway same 65k colors are here.

FM Radio Yes! it got Stereo FM RDS Radio with 3.5mm jack and nice to hear that it comes with Radio recording feature. You can say Hurray!!!

Multimedia You get a VGA Camera here with 4x digital zoom and ordinary 10fps video recording. Camera Image format would be JPEG, though the software will support viewing BMP, GIF87a, GIF89a, JPEG, OTA, PNG and WBMP. Impressive for the price range.

Video recording resolution will be 128 x 96 and format H.263, while the device will be capable of playing 3GPP formats (H.263), ASF, MPEG-4 and WMV.

Same time, you could think this as complete music package with support for almost all common music formats like AAC, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AWB, M4A, MIDI Tones (poly 24), Mobile XMF, MP3, SP-MIDI, WAV and WMA.

Memory It sure surprises you with the support of MicroSD card up to 32 Gb that too with hot swap feature. Maximum User Storage of 10 MB, SDRAM Memory 16 MB and NOR memory 64 MB must not be very less for such a device.

Connectivity It has not Wi-Fi or 3G, but it got GSM 900 / 1800 with GPRS\ EDGE support for both the SIMs. Bluetooth 2.1 is here for transferring your media files with ease, though I wonder if anyone will also think of connecting Bluetooth headset with it, but it supports.

Though USB charging is not here, but it has a microUSB as well.

Phonebook, SMS, MMS, Email, Chat and other features With the support of memory card, obviously the phonebook will be unlimited and SMS and MMS expected to do well with same ease as other S40 devices do. What real surprise here is inclusion of Nokia messaging Service v1.3  and Nokia Email Client means you can have Ovi Mail, Gmail etc and also chat options via Gtalk, MSN, Yahoo and Ovi Chat.

As a surprise, Ovi Contacts are not here, but this device supports  FOTA Firmware over the Air, Nokia Life Tools, Nokia Money and Themes.

Battery Don’t know what to say, but this part is a real let down for this otherwise amazing device for its price. We got the same BL-5C 3.7V 1020mAh here, but its told to provide only 4 hours of talk time that is not a very bad one, but still considering the performance of C1-00, people must have expected more from it. Standby time is also not a very higher side with 16 days only.

I wont say a disappointment here, but will say that expectations were raised by C1-00, which C2-00 misses.

We have a 2mm charger here as MicroUSB wont charge the phone.


So, this is all about Nokia C1-00 and C2-00 that would be available in India in 2k and 2.5k. Please remind me, if I missed something you might wanna know and also tell, are you buying anyone of these?

VLC Player got updated to 1.1.4

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Just one week passed and another update for our favorite VLC player is here. This time, its 1.1.4 and again just a big fix, not some functionality related update like many of the last updates. I really wonder if they could think of some functionality update for this do-it-all software.

VLC

One thing really impresses me about the guys behind VLC Player that they keep on working and that too without asking anything from us. I have seen many developers, whose projects went lazy once got famous, thinking that they did all and nothing more remained.

VLC Update

Like earlier, for updating VLC player, you need to download the complete executable only. Probably the most strange thing about VLC player that they haven’t learned the art of incremental updates. I means send updates in few Kbs rather forcing to download the whole software again. Anyone listening?

Anyway, so VLC Player 1.1.4 is out now. I have updated mine, what about you?

Are you waiting to buy Nokia E5 over Nokia E72? Think again

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It got many people excited when Nokia announced arrival of many cheap devices back in mid april. Nokia C3, C6 and E5. Nokia E5 was something people were most excited about and even me. I am sure that there are many, who waited this much long for E5 and pushed the purchase of E72. But when the dust gets settled, its time to analyze that how much it really is worth to wait for Nokia E5 over Nokia E72.

Call it success stories behind Nokia E71 and Nokia E72 due to probably best qwerty out there with best battery lives or the professional looks, but people still waiting for Nokia E5 to arrive in cost of 12k INR (as announced), which still stands decent 4.5k INR or around $100 below Nokia E72. But the question to ask is, if this wait worth?

Thanks to Forum Nokia, one could take a closer look over finer prints behind the specifications.

Lets see, where Nokia E5 looses points against Nokia E72 big time …

e5 Nokia-E72-Review

 


Design: It was a challenge to make a device in a lower budget keeping all the good points intact and one should praise the Nokia design team for keeping the same layout of qwerty. As I’d mentioned in my earlier post, it was more innovative to give colors to call end and receive buttons rather than keeping it strictly white as in E71 or E72 (business people don’t like colors?).

Now what have we lost in comparison to E72 here?

We lost that shiny metal surrounding the body, which was the core attraction of the Nokia E72. Also,, but the dimensions got bulkier. Nokia E72 had a 114 x 58.3 x 10.1 mm, while the Nokia E5 came up with 115 x 58.9 x 12.8 mm. Thanks to Nokia, that back cover is still metallic (plastic back covers scares me), but the extra plasticy bulk sure  doesn’t interest the user, who might have had his hands on Nokia E72.

nokiae5keypadright

More of it, we are back to D-Pad like Nokia E71 (already 13k nowadays) rather than the optical navi-wheel which was one of the biggest attractions to the E72. People who use Blackberry and cry after a year because of its bullshit trackball will surely understand  the losses.

Nokia E5 is sure 2g lighter than Nokia E72 (126g in place 128g), but absence of metal justifies that and don’t forget volume of Nokia E5 is 75cc, when that of Nokia E72 was just 65cc.

 


Display: Business devices till now, never been known for the great resolutions. Reason is, the focus always been on the text reading, which is crispier on a resolution of 320×240 only rather than bigger resolutions, so been a standard always. Same is here in Nokia E5 and Nokia E72, then what’s the catch?

A resolution is not only about the pixels, but also about the color depth. While with 24 bit colors, Nokia E72 was on the par with best of the devices, Nokia E5 took a step back with 16 bit colors means not those 16m color, but only 65000. If only these numbers doesn’t lower your excitement about E5, then next is the transmissive screen in place of transflective screen of Nokia E72, which was known to perform much better in sunlight, while E5 will go blank.


Connectivity, processor, RAM, Memory: Good thing about Nokia E5 is in this section, where its neck to neck with Nokia E72, at least as it seems on paper. It would be more reasonable to compare, when the actual unit will be in my hands, but still it got exactly same processor, exactly same level of all around connectivity.

What’s a win for Nokia E5 here is

With Nokia E5, we enjoys doubled RAM that is 256 MB now in place of 128 MB of Nokia E72. Sure one could expect this thing to be snappy when Nokia E72 was never a let down in performance. The reason for bigger RAM might be integration of Social services in contacts and home screen widgets, but the more RAM means more advantage for sure. Next is the support of 32GB memory card while Nokia E72 supported a MAX of 16 GB only.

While business people wont care much about extra 16 GB support as both the devices are never big about media playback and video recording, but sure 256 MB RAM makes a better deal for Nokia E5.

Note that without the extra RAM, I don’t think that better social integration as in Nokia E5 ever coming to Nokia E72, even if people kept asking for. Remember Nokia 5800, which never got the home screen widgets.


Battery: May be I never exactly got that how mAh works otherwise, I could have got some idea that how a 1200 mAh battery is being told to perform better (even if with minor margin) than a 1500 mAh. Though the improvements are minor in terms of talk time, which already at a great level of 13 hours straight in Nokia E72, but battery utilizations is greatly enhanced in case standby battery life, where it stands on 26 days in place of 16 days of Nokia E72.

I guess standby time doesn’t matter that much (at least doesn’t make a difference or me at all), but it would be interesting to see with actual unit that if the claims stand right with a 1200 mAh battery. If they have implemented some good things in their firmware, then those improvements may do more wonder with God battery of 1500 mAh in Nokia E72.

And yes!! both the devices have USB charging as well as 2mm port. Did I told you that I hate only USB charging option as was in Nokia N86?

 


Camera: Nokia E71 was one of legend from Nokia and people loved Nokia E72 for the reason that it brings fun to Business people as well. One of the biggest attraction was the competitive 5MP camera, biggest in Business phones. With Autofocus and LED flash, it was able to serve you not only for personal needs, but was serving you a good macro mode to get snap fine print on business papers due to its sensor that works from 10cm to infinity. But when you look over E5, then probably in cutting cost, Nokia forgotten that why people loved a 5MP camera.

nokiae5backpanel

Camera on Nokia E5 may be a 5MP, but its a camera of lower focal length 3.3 mm than that of Nokia E72 on 4.7 mm and aperture stands at f/2.4 as usual for Full focus camera in comparison to f/2.8 of Nokia E72.

Nokia E5 has just a full focus, which means 50 cm to infinity, no macro mode therefore. Not only that but with Nokia E5, if I am right, then you will be missing the still image editor as well (though I don’t believe on it, but their official forum page says so).Video and Still digital zoom will be reduced to 4x with Nokia E5, which were at 5x in Nokia E72.

Do you think that its enough to blow the excitement around Nokia E5? Here comes more ..

Nokia E5 doesn’t has a secondary camera. So forget about the video calling and those business video meetings. Sorry


Extra features: Sure cutting the price takes its toll and manufacturers try to cut it from where its least visible or may have a direct impact.

Did you knew that you are going to miss Compass (Magnetometer Sensor) and accelerometer in Nokia E5? Not only that but you miss Line Printer Daemon Protocol, Print to file option, Lotus Notes Traveller, stereo FRM radio with RDS (just a plain FM radio here in Nokia E5) and Bass Boost.


Sure, Nokia E5 might not be all, like you felt with Nokia E72. Yes!! it brings the same solid feel and performance to people, who didn’t wished to cross the 12k INR mark ever, but don’t you think that it was more worth loosing a better camera, a secondary camera, 24 bit screen, Compass (magnetometer), Accelerometer, optical navi wheel and metallic slim body for doubled RAM, better software and 4.5k INR?

Nokia E72 Black/ Chrome stands on 16.5k or less as of now and majesty white Nokia E72 now available in India for 17.5k. What you say?

Update: Make sure not to miss my full review on Nokia E5-00 for some of the great pictures and details about Nokia E5-00.

Update: The always great review from All About Symbian again adds up the confusion about E5 as the screen is sure not a good compromise, but snaps didn’t looked that bad and if people could live with a dull screen in daylights, then the recent video of multitasking, addition of more 128 mb RAM is more than enough tempting for making people buy it.

 

We will keep on crying that why it’s late or why Nokia doesn’t come up with E6 with same features as Nokia E72 without compromise, a better camera, 256 MB RAM at least, may be Bluetooth 3.0, USB OTG, but still will end up buying Nokia E5. Yes! it will make many happy to get a powerful thing in such a price, but still …

I must say that I tried to put an end over the confusions around Nokia E5, but it breaks on…

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WSUS Step By Step – Installation, Deployment and troubleshooting

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We all know that Windows updates are important for security and functionality of our Windows PCs and we all want to keep our systems updated. But at the same time, people on volume limited internet plans also blame these windows updates running in background for escalated data usages, specially if we are running many systems and want to keep all of them updated. Sometimes we think that why are we downloading the same updates for each of the PC separately? Or feel that its really hard to keep track of what’s got updated and what’s not? Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) is one of the best solution for your all such worries.

If you are running a setup of at least 50 PCs then you sure must be knowing about WSUS already and if you not or thought that its too hard to implement then its about time to take note of it. What’s next in my post is nothing special that most of smart admins might not been knowing about, but I thought to make a step by step guide over WSUS from the resources already available over internet.


Offline updates solution: Autopatcher:

When you talk about updating few PCs just built up and installed, then the best tool that strikes me is Autopatcher. This tool downloads all the patches as per your selection and stores in a folder, which will contain an executable to update any PC (XP, 2000, 2003, Vista, Windows 7) offline. Not only that before updating it also detects that what already had been updated and more of it, the tool downloads updates in incremental ways, so that every time the folder will keep on growing to catch up the new updates.

Give it a try, its a must tool for sysadmins for updating newly installed PC in most efficient and quickest way. But note that its not a Microsoft Product, though I could guarantee myself from my experience that its perfectly sane.

Why WSUS, when you have Autopatcher?

Autopatcher could be called as entry level solution and sure a great thing about preparing PCs without networks, but the problem is, its still manual work. I mean you might have flexibility to download the updates once and keep it on some Network share location, but still you need to install patches manually over PCs and manual works to keep track of what’s updated and what’s not.

WSUS is an amazing Microsoft tool to end all such worries and that’s totally free of cost, just you need a Windows 2003 Server license, that’s it. It’s a service you run inside your organization on one or more servers which you configure to serve software updates to one or more AU clients. You can configure a WSUS server to download updates either from Microsoft or from another WSUS server within your organization.

Once you approve an update for installation, WSUS downloads it from configured upstream partner, and can then issue these updates to clients that request it. You can approve any update for some, all, or none of your computers. Once an update is approved, the targeted WSUS clients download the update using the Windows AU client. WSUS also provides reports on which clients have, and have not, had which updates.

You administer WSUS from

Start –>All Programs –> Administrative Tools –> Microsoft Windows Server Update Services.

WSUS not only keep all Windows clients across the organization updated without providing internet on all of them, but also reduces the Internet Bandwidth requirements as the updates get downloaded once only, not separately for all the windows clients.

 

System Requirements:

Followings are the set of requirements for installing a WSUS server:

Server Hardware Requirements

WSUS requires a single server for basic operation, although you can scale your WSUS implementation to larger numbers of servers if you wish. For a basic implementation of up to 500 users, hardware requirements, per Microsoft, are:

1. 1GHz CPU

2. 1GB RAM

You also need a network card, and around free disk space (described below)

Server Software Requirements

You need the following software components:

1. A supported Windows Server operating system – Windows Server 2003 is the preferred OS, but Windows 2000 is also supported. WSUS is supported on all editions of Windows Server 2003, but there are some restrictions of you use the Web Edition (See [WUS Restritions With2k3 Web].

2. IIS – WUS is operated via IIS, so your WUS Server needs to have IIS loaded. You need at least IIS 5.0.

3. .NET Framework 1.1 SP1 – get this 7.982MB download from the Microsoft download site. The .NET Framework 1.1 SP1 is delivered as a hot fix installation file (see KB article KB867460 for details). This expands to 55.6 MB (58,335,654 bytes) on disk prior to installation. The installation of this hot fix alsos stop IIS, and requires a reboot.

4. Background Intelligent Transfer Service 2.0 (BITS 2.0 English.zip) – this is a new version of BITS, at present only available to beta testers, or those on the OEP. This is a 1.34MB download.

5. WSUS Setup (WSUSSetup.exe) – Like BITS V2, this is available only to beta testers or members of the OEP at present. This is download is over 100mb.

6. SQL Database server. For Windows Server 2003 MSDE is installed during setup. For Windows 2000 it is not and MSDE or SQL server must be installed prior WUS setup.

Client Software Requirements

There are no special requirements for WUS Clients. Supported clients include Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows 2003 Server (including the R2 server).

Server Disk Space Requirements

WUS Server disk space requirements fall into three categories: the WUS service, WUS updates and the WUS data base.

Microsoft recommends that you must have at least 6GB free disk space to store WUS content. At present, typical usage is around 1-2GB/language, although this does depend on what updates you specify and is likely to grow over time. Typical storage with multiple Operating systems can be as large as 60 or 70Gb.

The WSUS service installs (by default) into C:\Program Files\Update Services\. This folder takes up 365MB (371MB on disk) after the initial installation.

The WSUS Database is managed by MDSE, and is installed by default into C:\WSUS\MSSQL$WSUS. This folder takes up 216 MB after the initial install, synchronize and with only 2 clients. The size of the DB grows as you add more computers, and as you manage more updates.


Checklist before WSUS Installation:

The following is a simple checklist of possible issues.

1. Do you have Minimum Free Disk Space? See the WSUS Deployment Guide for more information on free disk space requirements.

2. Is the Installation drive & system partition formatted with NTFS? WSUS requires both the WSUS Database and the WSUS content to be loaded onto NTFS volumes.

3. Do you have IIS installed? IIS is required to setup, configure and manage (and use) WSUS.

4. Do you have Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 Service Pack 1 installed? This is required on your WSUS server.

5. Do you have Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1 installed? This is required, and WSUS server checks for it’s presence. NB: Installing the SP requires a reboot.

6. Do you have BITS 2.0 installed? This is required.

7. Do you have Database – SQL Server 2000/WMSDE/MSDE installed? A database is required, but WSUS will install WMSDE if no database service is found on the WSUS server.


Installing WSUS with in-built Local Database (SQL/MSDE):

Installing WUS with local database is pretty straight forward where, you have 2 Scenarios as given below:

· Installing WSUS on Default Website, with port 80.

· Installing WSUS on Custom Website, with port 8530.

Installing WSUS on Default Website, with port 80: This is the simplest installation with clicking over the WSUS Installation exe and following the instruction provided by the wizard.

Installing WSUS on Custom Website, with port 8530: Installing WSUS on custom Port 8530 is little different from the normal setup. You have to manually configure the client self update feature.

But, this kind of setup has many advantages including

· You can shut down port 80 to avoid malicious programs that target port 80.

· If you already have a website on port 80 like the Antivirus Applications, this kind of setup will help the functioning of both the sites independently.

Things to consider if you plan to install on custom port

· In this case, you have to manually set up up the selfupdate virtual directory on port 80 to enable client self update.

· You can use %\program\Update Services\Setup\InstallSelfupdateOnPort80.vbs script in order to allow those clients to self-update.

· To access the WSUS admin page, you have to include the custom port with the website like http://wsusserver:8350

· This port in not configurable during WSUSsetup, but can be changed later using IISADMIN.


Installation Overview:

As discussed earlier, WSUS Server holds the WSUS Software setup with IIS installed. Installation is very simple shown in these Steps:

Install WSUS on Server

· You need to setup WUSSETUP.exe

· Follow the wizard to specify content Folder & Administration Site.

· Take a note of Content folder which is needed while setting up the back End Server.


Initial WSUS Configuration

To setup, configure and manage your WUS server, you need to gain access to the WSUS Admin site on your WSUS Server:

From here you should do the following:

1. SET Server Options

This includes:

· Schedule – when to synchronize this WSUS Server

· Products and Classifications – define which patched to download. In particular, which products to download patches for (e.g. Windows 2000, Windows XP Pro, etc) and what type of updates to download (this includes security updates, driver updates, DDKs, tools, guidance, Feature Packs etc).

· Proxy Server Settings – you can specify a specific proxy server to use for updates,along with credentials if needed.

· Update Source – where this WSUS server should get it’s updates: from Microsoft, or an upstream WSUS server

· Languages – allows you to get language specific patches. NB: By Default, WSUS RC is set to download ALL languages. This is potentially harmful to your disk subsystem.

After you complete the configuration, ensure you save your options.

2. Perform Initial Synchronization

By default, WSUS is set to be synchronized manually. Once you configure your WSUS server, you should perform an initial synchronization. Depending on how many products, classifications and languages you have selected, and the speed of your internet connection, this could take a considerable amount of time.


 

WSUS Deployment:

There are a number of options available for deployment of WSUS like Group Policy based, Replica and Offline updates.

The following is the option that we use across our organization:

Group Policy based deployment

The following are a basic example setting that needs to apply over workstations for WSUS deployment:

Autopatcher

The fact to notice is that this policy needs to be applied over the OU of workstations not the OU of Users and so the settings are under computer settings not the user settings

Offline Updates:

If your environment demands a network segment be disconnected from the Internet, or disconnected from the rest of your network altogether, don’t think you need to resort to the “sneaker net” method of patch distribution. Simply build a stand-alone WSUS server and import updates from removable media such as tape or DVD-ROM.

The process of exporting the updates from an Internet-connected server, and then importing them into your disconnected one is well documented in the WSUS Deployment Guide. However, here are the steps at a high level to give you an idea of the process.

1. Build your stand-alone WSUS server and configure its language and express installation options to match that of the Internet-connected WSUS server that will provide updates.

2. Copy the update content directory from the Internet-connected WSUS server to removable media. Remember that this content directory may be quite large (multi-gigabytes) so you may need to resort to tape, dual-layer DVD, or external USB hard drive.

3. Export and copy the update metadata from the Internet-connected WUS server’s database to removable media.

4. Copy the update content from removable media onto the disconnected WSUS server.

5. Import the update metadata from removable media into the disconnected WUS server’s database.

Again, please refer to the documentation for full export/import procedures, including command-line tool options and correct file system paths to back up.

Replica Mode:

Another option for advanced deployments is replica mode. Much like WSUS server chains, replica servers inherit settings and updates from their upstream master server. However, unlike server chains, replica servers are designed for environments where a central administrator controls computer groups and update approval for the entire enterprise.

The only information that isn’t synchronized between the master server and its replica servers is the content of the computer groups themselves. For instance, an administrator might create four computer groups on the master server named Branch A through Branch D. While all replica servers will receive these group names, they will not contain any members. The idea behind this design is that the WSUS administrator will create enough computer groups to cover the entire enterprise. Then, a WSUS replica server at a branch office will add the local PCs and servers to a group (say, Branch B) and the centrally approved patches for that group will be installed. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t once you get wrap your brain around it. For more detailed information on replicas, refer to the WSUS Deployment Guide.


General Approaches to Patching with WSUS

There are a couple of approaches you can take to using WSUS:

1. Detect and deploy required patches This is a simple approach to using WSUS. The idea is you approve all patches for detection, then approve for installation any updates shown as being needed.

2. Investigate and authorize each patch individually In this approach, you examine, and hopefully test, each update for suitability in your organization as part of an overall change management process. Once you are satisfied the update is appropriate, you approve it for installation for the appropriate target groups. This patch management strategy is more time consuming, but should provide greater stability. This approach is probably more appropriate for larger organizations, or where you have a diverse network and multiple target groups.


Maintenance:

Disk Space concerns

As mentioned in requirements section, WSUS requires huge disk space for storing patches, which could be overgrown anytime, if you do not choose the products to be updated wisely.

Better to choose only those updates that are required and skip other ones even if recommended. Like if your scenario doesn’t has Windows 7 PCs, then no need of downloading updates related to that, same with 64 bit OS’s, Itanium processor based updated and device drivers.

Once the disk space is full, it stops getting more updates, but it keeps on updating workstations with existing updates, but one has to clear up the space. That’s why its recommended “Not to keep the updates storage in OS drive (c:) otherwise, it may critical for the server.”

Cleanup activities

There is already a wizard in WSUS console for cleanup, which takes care of the following:

  • Unused updates and update revisions
  • Computers not contacting the server
  • Unneeded update files
  • Expired updates
  • Superseded updates

There are also ways for claiming disk space by removing some updates manually (wizard or console doesn’t remove updates from disk), but most of those procedures are messy and prone to error as of now. So, its recommended to use the wizard only and be wise while selecting the updates as once marked, the update will sure get downloaded, no matter you marked it as denied later.


WSUS Reports

For accessing reporting feature of WSUS, you are required to install report viewer from Microsoft

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=a941c6b2-64dd-4d03-9ca7-4017a0d164fd&displaylang=en

After the same WSUS console provides excellent options of generating reports with graphs, lists and tables in CSV, XLS or even PDF formats.

Although reporting tool of WSUS already provides plenty of options, but we are yet to find some option that could report in the way that when the update got released and when got downloaded.

Currently, we are going with manual ways by importing lists of all updates and finding the dates from the Microsoft Updates Download site itself. A tedious job for the first time, but later on you have to use excel tips like vlookup etc for avoiding the work for already reported updates and updating only those few updates that might be downloaded after the last report you prepared.

Note: As per Microsoft schedule, monthly updates arrive on second Tuesday of the month, though many updates arrive at the other days as well depending on severity.


 

WSUS deployment Troubleshooting

This is a topic of continuous learning with the issues and resolutions. Sharing here a few of known issues with WSUS Client configuration:

WSUS uses client-server architecture. The WSUS client, which runs on client computer, wakes up on a regular basis and queries a WSUS server to find applicable updates. The WSUS client is also designed to update itself, via what is known as self-update. The idea is that the client will look for, and download, both the OS and application updates, but also updates to the client itself. The latest version of the AU client is required for client computers to interact fully with the WSUS server.

In most cases this mechanism works ok, and clients get updated as needed and are able to check in with the WSUS server. But on some systems, client computers either do not properly check in with the WSUS server or do not self update. These problems are both fairly rare and easy to overcome.

There are a set of client configuration checks you can make on client computers that are not connecting to WSUS properly, and a set of know issues.

Client Configuration checks

1. The first thing to check is whether the client computer is using the latest Automatic Update client version.

The current version of the Windows Update Agent (the WSUS client component in AU) is determined by the version of the WUAUENG.DLL, located in %systemroot% \system32 folder. If the version of WUAUENG.DLL is 5.4.3790.1000 or greater, the WSUS client (or WUA) is installed. A version less than 5.4.3790.1000 indicates that SUS or earlier AU version 1.0 is installed.

If you have an earlier version of the AU client, it must be updated in order to work with WSUS. Computers running Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) already have the WSUS client installed.
The AU client, when contacting the WSUS server, will automatically update itself to the latest WSUS version if the self-update files are properly setup on the server. When connected to Windows Update or Microsoft Update, the AU client will also be able to self-update if it is not running the latest version. In addition, the AU client can also be updated by using a signed stand-alone, installation package that is available from Microsoft.

2. If you want AU clients to update from a WSUS server in your environment, be sure you have set anonymous access permissions on the virtual Self Update directory and that it is on a Web server running on port 80. WSUS uses IIS to automatically update client computers to the WSUS-compatible Automatic Updates software version. To do this, WSUS Setup creates a virtual directory named Self Update, under the Web site running on port 80 of the computer where you installed WSUS. This virtual directory, called the “self-update tree”, contains the WSUS-compatible Automatic Updates software. Earlier Automatic Updates client versions can only update if they find the self-update tree on a Web server running on port 80. The access permissions on this virtual directory must be set to allow anonymous access. This Automatic Updates version check is done every time the client checks-in with the server to detect new approved updates.

3. Be aware of GP replication time which may cause delay in your clients’ self-update process the first time a WSUS server and client are mapped. If clients have been mapped to WSUS servers using GP in an Active Directory environment, the timing of AU client check in with the WSUS server can be impacted by AD GP refresh timing (generally about every 90 to 120 minutes depending on environment). Clients mapped to servers in a non-Active Directory environment can be forced to check in and update right away by running wuauclt/detectnow from the command prompt.

4. Another variable that will impact client check-in behavior is the Automatic Updates detection frequency setting. By default, this value is set to the maximum of every 22 hours. This means that every 22 hours, minus a random offset, AU polls or checks in with the WSUS server for approved updates. Every time the client checks in, it also verifies it has the latest version of the client and if not, it self-updates from the server. This setting can be modified via policy or by directly editing the local policy or registry on the client. The minimum frequency is one hour. If clients have been mapped to a WSUS server via local policy or direct registry editing, without detection forced by running wuauclt/detectnow, it could be up to 22 hours until that client will self-update and appear in the WSUS Admin Console.

5. Imaged clients with a duplicate client ID will only appear once in the WSUS Admin Console. Each AU client must have a unique id which is created for each individual install. When imaging systems it is recommended always to use SysPrep. The WSUS admin console will only display one client for each unique ID. If you have multiple clients created from one image which are sharing the same ID, only one will appear in the WSUS admin console. All clients will check in and download updates, but only one will appear and display status in the WSUS admin console. In cases where clients are not checking in, and they were created from images without running SysPrep, the following steps will reset the existing duplicative client IDs.

a. Run regedit and go to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate

b. Delete the PingID, SUSClientID and the AccountDomainSID values

c. Stop and start the Wuauserv Service

d. From the command prompt run: wuauclt /resetauthorization /detectnow

or-

From the command line, once you are sure the AU client is properly configured and not disabled, you could run a batch file (which might look something like this sample) and get the same results:

rem Fixes problem with client machines not showing up on the server due to imaging method

reg delete

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate /v

AccountDomainSid /f

reg delete

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate /v

PingID /f

reg delete

KLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate /v

SusClientId /f

cls
@echo Triggering detection after resetting WSUS client identity

net stop wuauserv

net start wuauserv

wuauclt /resetauthorization /detectnow

Additionally the following VBScript can be deployed via group policy to perform the above function automatically at logon. The script creates a registry key that will allow the script to check if it has been run on that client before. If it has it ends without performing any further changes.


Dim objShell, strKeyPath, strValueName,strComputer

set objShell = wscript.createObject("wscript.shell")

const HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE = &H80000002

strComputer = "."

Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:\\" & strComputer & "\root\cimv2")
Set objRegistry = GetObject("winmgmts:\\" & strComputer & "\root\default:StdRegProv")

strKeyPath = "SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate"
strValueName = "SUSClientIdReset"

objRegistry.GetStringValue HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, strKeyPath, strValueName, dwValue
IF (dwValue = "1") THEN
            ‘do nothing
      ELSE
            ‘Fixes problem with client machines not showing up on the server due to imaging method
            objRegistry.DeleteValue HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,strKeyPath,"SusClientId"
            objRegistry.DeleteValue HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,strKeyPath,"SusClientIdValidation"

   Set colServiceList = objWMIService.ExecQuery ("Select * from Win32_Service where Name = ‘wuauserv’")

   For Each objService in colServiceList
    If objService.State = "Running" Then
    objService.StopService()
    Wscript.Sleep 10000
    objService.StartService()
    End If
   Next
            objShell.Run("wuauclt /resetauthorization /detectnow ")
   Wscript.Sleep 10000   
            objShell.Run("wuauclt /r /reportnow")

            ‘Set reg value for SUSClientIdReset for checking against later.
   dwValue = "1"
            objRegistry.SetStringValue HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, strKeyPath, strValueName, dwValue
End If


Just save the above scipt as a *.vbs.

Though the above troubleshooting steps might be required in rare cases and if group policy updates are happening in proper manner then that solves the issue.


 

So, that’s all about starting up and working with WSUS, a must have tool to work with, for any IT Administrator or Sys Admin guy. Hoping to see some new faces on this side of table.

Nokia E72 White edition available in India @17.5k

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It was May 4, 2010, when I received trial unit of Nokia E72 from @womworldnokia and then my first request to Womworld was to send it in white, which seems much royal to me then. But I didn’t got a sneak peak of same as it was available in selected regions only. But now the wait is over, just spotted Nokia E72 White edition in New Delhi at Spice Hotspot by today only.

23082010723

As it was a packed device, I wasn’t able to take more snaps, so taken just one.

As you can see, the package contain Ovi Navigation accessories as my Nokia E52 contained and an exclusive offer of matching white Bluetooth headset BH-216. The price is 1k above than normal Chrome or Black Nokia E72, which stands as Rs. 17, 500/- in place of normal Rs.16, 500/-.

The Hotspot guy told me that stock is limited and could run out anytime. Anyone interested?

A Step by Step Guide about Spiceworks

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Wrote twice about Spiceworks, once for just introducing and once for showing a preview of upcoming Spiceworks 5.0. But I always thought that there is a vacuum, when we try to find some proper book over this great IT tool. The only resource is their very active users forum (really serves the purpose in superb way), which sure does the job, but I thought there must be something out there like step by step as well. Why to just think, when I could come up with one of my own? Here I am with a step to step guide about Spiceworks.

Introduction

Spiceworks provides a free systems management, inventory, and helpdesk software application, Spiceworks IT Desktop, designed for network administrators working in small- to medium-sized businesses.

Spiceworks IT Desktop is used to inventory, monitor, manage and report on software and hardware assets. It also includes an integrated help desk system. Spiceworks runs on Microsoft Windows and discovers Windows, UNIX, Linux and Mac OS X machines along with other IP-addressable devices such as routers, VOIP phones, printers, etc.

Spiceworks is an adware and is written in Ruby on Rails, It’s not a complete and detailed Monitoring Solution like Zabbix as of now, but it covers other aspects of your IT management that Zabbix left, in a powerful way like Inventory, events reporting like installations/ updates and complete out-of-the-box-Helpdesk segment.

What are the main features available with Spiceworks?

Here is feature list:

1. Scan SNMP Devices
2. Linux Scanning via an SSH login
3. Scan Windows Devices via WMI
4. Ability to manage your software licenses
5. Alerts on customizable definitions (eg machines with no anti-virus or low printer toner)
6. Software automatically categorizes machines into groups. eg Laptops, servers, routers etc
7. Ability to define custom devices
8. Ability to compare one machine with another
9. Ability to manage services on remote machines
10. Plugins
11. Reports
12. Network Map (Beta)
13. Helpdesk with user portal



For whom Spiceworks is designed for?

Spiceworks IT Desktop is designed for

  • IT Pros who have admin rights on their network.
  • Organizations with less than 1,000 devices on their network. It will work with more but it won’t be as fast.
  • Running on a PC. It discovers Windows, OS X, Linux and UNIX but you need to run it from only one PC on your network (which might be even just a desktop with provided resource requirements).

Advantages of Spiceworks:

Though Spiceworks integration with active directory is still a work in progress from Spiceworks community end and complete performance monitoring like Zabbix or NagiOS is not available with Spiceworks, but there are two areas, where Spiceworks is very useful for our scenario.

1. Inventory of Systems: With the changing requirements and movement of systems, it’s a hard and purely manual work to keep track of updated inventory of workstations with us in some particular campaigns as earlier it involved going PC to PC and collecting detailed profiles of workstations.

Spiceworks solves the same issue with collecting the system related info like Serial number, MAC Address, RAM, HDD, Processor, Product Keys etc from a centralized location. Though the setup requires specific changes in system firewalls, but it works for covering almost all the workstation with little troubleshooting skills. Most favorable thing is, it doesn’t works on agent-less way means it could start it work without affecting current existing scenario and without installing anything on production machines that might raise issues for any compliance.

2. Web Based Helpdesk Solution: Centralized helpdesk is a proven resource to keep the cost and quality of support optimized and after searching a lot of open source Helpdesk solutions for a web based helpdesk solution, there was no satisfactory solution matching our requirements. Most of the solutions out in market assume an IT Helpdesk person logging and assigning calls after receiving telephonic or mail based complaints as that’s a standard in most of the places.

Spiceworks was only available for free solution that provides a very flexible and customizable Helpdesk solution that could address most of the needs in our environment with continuous learning and efforts to improve it.


Installation procedure and requirements:

The Spiceworks software as a less than 25 Mb download file (as of now) could be downloaded from the www.spiceworks.com. The same executable is inclusive of all basic requirements for Spiceworks that includes the SQLite database for storing settings-n-stats and Apache web server (need to check if installations already there to avoid conflicts).

System Requirements

1. Windows XP Pro SP2, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 2003 Server SP1, SP2 and R2, & Windows 2008 Server

2. 1.0 GHz Pentium III class processor

3. Minimum 1.0 GB RAM (Notice that this one is trickier as it has to cover a lot of aspects)

Browser Requirements

  • Firefox 3.0 – 3.5
  • Internet Explorer 7.0 – 8.0
  • Google Chrome

As its not always the case that you get a fresh server to install a new application, one should worry about two things with installing any of the web solution, first if its going to take the default http port 80 and if the database its going to use, already exists on the same server, you are going to install SpiceWorks IT Desktop.

Thankfully, Spiceworks goes well about both the cases. It takes port 9675 (Of course, choice is yours) for HTTP and the database used is not MySQL, but is a SQLite database.

~24 M of installation take a little while to install and greet you with a couple of questions about your network like range of IP Addresses to scan, various Windows username/ passwords details possibly across your network, ssh credentials and you are ready to scan your network for finding devices. As the very first step, it asks you to get registered with Spiceworks, which would be your one point help system and integration of your account with web resources.

There are also services related requirements on client side like WMI related services should be in running mode and firewall should not be blocking Spiceworks access. File and Printer sharing service and Remote Registry Service running on clients are the other main requirements for Spiceworks.


Working with Spiceworks:

There are two portions of the jobs that Spiceworks does in our environment and below is the details:

Inventory: The very first step to start with Spiceworks is running a Network scan from settings options. The following will be required inputs for the same:

1. It will require the credentials like Administrator passwords that are allowed to access registry of the clients and active directory info, SSH logins etc. Many times, it also requires to give local administrator auths than domain one.

2. Define the network range to scan. This has to be chosen systematically because scanning extra IPs increases overhead over Spiceworks and thus affecting other things.

3. After scanning, there must be many device mentioned in Inventory section and may be few reporting errors while scanning, which will be needed to sorted.

4. Once done with scanning all and sorting out error, you can always take a very flexible and customizable excel based inventory report based on almost every accessible info.

Helpdesk:

You have to go through http://<Server_IP&gt;:9675/user_portal to design the portal as per requirements and design preferences. For adding custom fields, there are plenty of options at the advanced setting page http://<Server_IP&gt;:9675/settings/advanced. For additional and useful customizations, there are many extensions and plugins available like we are making use of following plugins.

1. My Ticket Rules
2. My Ticket Views
3. Helpdesk only User Roles
4. Ticket Auto-Assign

After the required customizations, you can navigate to http://<Server_IP&gt;:9675/tickets for tickets being displayed there with filters like Open Tickets, Closed Tickets, Unassigned Ticket etc.

Now you have two ways; either let IT Staff lock the complaints themselves with details or even pass the responsibility to actual users themselves via portal (http://<Server_IP&gt;:9675/portal) that could be flexibly customized through (http://<Server_IP&gt;:9675/user_portal).

There are other options available with Helpdesk like Active Directory auth, so that clients could make use of their normal domain login to login into Helpdesk and many minor options in advanced pro configurations to suit the needs.


Backing up configuration:

For backing up the configuration, the settings page is on http://<Server_IP&gt;:9675/settings/backup, which defines the location for the backup and also option to schedule the backup on daily, weekly or monthly basis.

You can set it at automatic, which create a job in Windows Scheduled Tasks that will make use of the command Spiceworks.exe backup, where the exe is located at

C:\Program Files\Spiceworks\bin

The backup job creates zip files in C:\Program Files\Spiceworks\backup folder (by default) in the format

spiceworks-backup-[Vversionnumber]-[YYYY-MM-DD].zip

Restoring Spiceworks data:

There are following steps involved in restoring Spiceworks from the backup done in above way:

  • Right-click system tray and select exit (or stop the service if running as a service)
  • Verify that all Spiceworks* processes are no longer running
  • Delete the db and data directories in the Spiceworks installation folder
  • Copy the db and data folders into the Spiceworks installation folder
  • Start Spiceworks


Moving your Spiceworks installation to a new computer

If you’d like to move Spiceworks from one machine to another, the following steps will work for you:

  • Download and run Spiceworks installer on the target machine
  • Important: Use the same installation directory and port as the original installation
  • Do not complete the registration process
  • Follow the steps above to copy the data and db directories into the new installation


Troubleshooting:

Problem 1: Spiceworks not starting, unable to access.

Solution: Spiceworks is proactive over such issues and updates are smooth at 90% occasions, so in most of the scenario re-installation of Spiceworks from the same exe will restore the configurations without any loss of info, which is most clean way than messing up with the configs.

Problem 2: Scanning errors for workstations.

Solution: There might be many reasons for the same like WMI services not enabled, remote registry not enabled, auths wrong or firewall denying the access. If everything is proper then running the following batch instruction should resolve the issue in most of the cases.

Net Stop WinMgmt /y
sc sdset winmgmt "D:(A;;CCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRRC;;;SY)(A;;CCDCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRSDRCWDWO;;;BA)(A;;CCLCSWLOCRRC;;;AU)(A;;CCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRRC;;;PU)
Net Start WinMgmt

The above commands basically set proper permissions on WMI Management Service of the client PC and restarts the WMI Management Service. It works in most of the cases, if all above precautions are taken.

One can make a batch file to run on problem PCs locally or remotely via using XCMD application to access the command prompt of the remote PC from a central location.

Problem 3: User not able to login into Helpdesk. Login failed.

Solution: This may happen due to two reasons:

1. The user has no read permissions on the Spiceworks folder of the server

2. The user’s LAN ID is restricted to login on some specific workstation and so denied login over other workstations.

Solution for the first is to provide read permissions to authenticated users on the following folder

C:\Program Files\Spiceworks

Solution for the second is to adding Server’s name in Logon To field of problematic LAN ID.


So, this is just a naive guide from my side, but I hope that it will help the people, who wants to know, wants to start with Spiceworks. Welcome friends.. let’s spice up the IT.

VLC Player got updated to 1.1.3

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Code RED!! Code RED!! Charlie reporting… something just happened.

VLCplayer

I just reported earlier about VLC 1.1.1 (not even a month before) and VLC 1.1.2 (just 15 days back) and we find a new update here. We really love open source projects for this, frequent updates and superb fast big fixes.

And its not only just another open source, but its our most favourite open source product

formats

As you can see, its not some major upgrade, but just a bugfix release , but who cares, I am updating my VLC Player. Aren’t you?

VLC2

And for the brave people out there, there is also a pre-release under development VLC player 1.1.4 version available for download. Developer version means it could have some bugs, so check out on your risk.

photo of Nitish KumarNitish Kumar