Archive for March, 2009

Conficker Scanners

Monday, March 30th, 2009

McAfee, Norton, AVG and Kaspersky have detection for Conficker built into their standard engines. However, we’ve been finding that in some cases the standard scanners do not see Conficker, given its polymorphous nature. For this reason, I would recommend trying the Conficker scanner that Tillman Werner and Felix Leder have released. This free tool, written in python, can be used to scan a list of IP addresses (can be kept in a flat file called iplist.txt). It’s fairly simple and straight forward and can be used to run through and scan all the systems on your network as an additional fail safe. Remember, the countdown to what could be the biggest April Fools joke ever (if it doesn’t do anything that is, which seems pretty likely) is ticking.

File Replication Pro Story About 318

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

The File Replication Pro folks have published a customer success story outlining some of the ways we’re using their product. Check it out and if you have any questions about what we’re doing with it feel free to drop us a line!

Unraveling Unified Messaging

Friday, March 13th, 2009

There’s been a lot of talk the past year or two about unified messaging. You may remember the old ATT All in One commercial where a person was golfing and his important call would find him, and he wouldn’t miss the call. Or have you ever had a job where every morning you had to check your e-mail, then your voicemail on your phones, and then walk to the fax machine to check your faxes? Well, Google this week released a new service called Google Voice. Google Voice is just a revamp of their system called Google GrandCentral. You have one number that people will call, and Google will route the call to all of your phones to try and locate you, and allow you to essentially ignore the call or accept it. You can also search your emails, voicemails, and SMS messages from the web. Microsoft Exchange offers a system that will allow you to get all your email, voicemail and faxes in one centralized location. Weaver just released a service in February that will allow Asterisk users to have their voicemail transcribed automatically and e-mailed to them. Below is a chart of services offered by Google, Asterisk, and Microsoft Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging to give you a better understanding of what technology route you may want to go.

Microsoft Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging
Microsoft’s Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging goal is to tie in Email, Fax and Phone into one manageable place. An example that Microsoft uses is that first thing in the morning most people check their email, then check their voicemail, and after check their faxes. Exchange Unified Messaging has the ability to tie together all three of these communication technologies into a single place for management.

Exchange Unified Messaging on it’s own cannot serve a PBX function, but harnesses a current PBX infrastructure into Exchange for end users to have a seamless place to manage their communications. The current iteration of Exchange Unified Messaging is with Exchange 2007. To leverage the entire suite of features, you must use Outlook 2007.

Google Voice
Google Voice is a communication infrastructure much like Exchange Unified Messaging, but seems to be targeted for non-business consumers. Google Voice is the current iteration of what was once known as Google GrandCentral. Its purpose is unified messaging as well, as it ties in your Gmail, SMS and incoming phone calls into your phone account created on Google Voice. Google Voice is an IP-PBX (VoIP) that allows you to make and receive calls with unified messaging capabilities.

Receiving calls can be done through any cell phone that you have, or through their Google Voice web interface. Making calls can be done via GoogleVoice (web-based), or through any other phone (landline or cell phone). The price point is very good (as in free). The price is free for all calls made to US numbers (long distance charges to other countries apply, of course). It requires no additional hardware.

Asterisk
Asterisk is an open source IP-PBX (VoIP) platform based on Linux. It requires a computer to run on and can tie in your existing land line with almost any VoIP provider of your choice. Call pricing depends on your phone carriers.

 

Google Voice

Asterisk

Exchange 2007

Voicemail

Yes, stored on Google’s PBX Server.

Yes, stored on PBX Server.

Yes, originating from current PBX, but forwarded and stored in Exchange

Email

Yes, integrated with Gmail.

Yes, SMTP’d to host of your choice.

Yes, integrated with Exchange and Outlook

Transcribing VoiceMail

Yes

Yes, not natively as it needs to use VoiceScribe[1] and then emails you the trasncript

No, but allows the user to take notes (including manually transcribing voicemail) to allow voicemail to be searchable via Outlook

Price

The use is free, and calls to US numbers are free.  Your cell provider rates still apply, and Google has their own price for long distance calling[2].

Free to install and use, and configure.  The call price rate depends on your local and/or VoIP carrier.

Phone calls rates are based on your PBX/Call Provider.  Only certain PBXs are supported[3].  The price for Exchange is $699 for Standard or $3,999 for Enterprise depending on how many storage groups and databases per mailbox server role you need.[4]  Both come with unified messaging.

Can call more than one of your phones at a time to try to locate you.

Yes

Yes, but you need to purchase additional trunks (VoIP or PSTN)

Depends on PBX

Can automatically locate you and route calls depending on bluetooth proximity.

No

Yes

No

Native Address Book

Yes, integrated with your Google Account.

No

Yes, integrated with Exchange Contacts

Call Management

Yes, via your phones (and possibly through Google Voice)

Yes, via your phones or through HUD

Yes, through Outlook and possibly through your PBX Software

Fax

No

Yes, but it’s through VoIP, and not realiable[5]

Yes, through a standard fax line

VoIP

Yes

Yes

Depends on PBX

Listen to voice messages without changing their context to another application

Yes, integrated with Google Voice

No – you need to use whatever sound application is installed on your computer

Yes integrated with Outlook

Multiplatform

Unknown, but since it’s web based, it may work on Linux, Mac, and Windows.

Yes – Linux, Mac, and Windows

No, just Windows with Outlook 2007. You can play messages in Entourage, but may either have to change file type in Exchange from *.wma to *.wav, or have Mac users install WMP 9 for OS X[6]

Configure individual voice mail settings

Via phone or web

Via phone or web

Yes integrated with Outlook

View all voicemail in one location

Yes

Yes

Yes

Distinguish voice and fax messages from email messages within mailbox

No, just voice mail from email, and only through Google Voice

No

Yes integrated with Outlook

Determine whether a voice message has already been played

Unknown

No

Yes integrated with Outlook

Add notes to a voicemail message natively

Unknown

No

Yes integrated with Outlook

Reply to a voice mail with email

Unknown – not sure if it can work with blocked numbers or telephone numbers not in contacts.

No

Yes integrated with Outlook

Add telephone numbers received to Contacts natively

Unknown

No

Yes integrated with Outlook

Share VoiceMail

Yes

Yes

Yes

Adding a user

Free.  Requires that each user is registered with a Google account.

Free.  Just create a new extension for IP phones.  For non-IP hard phones, you must buy a FXS card (or to connect a regular phone to an ATA).

You must buy CALs for each user.  For unified messaging, you must have both the Exchange Standard AND Entprise CAL.  Exchange Standard CAL is $67, Exchange Enterprise CAL is $35.[7]  You must purchase both CALs for each user.  You also need to add a user to your PBX – pricing and licensing depends on PBX provider.

There are some things that may catch your eye (or not) when you first see this chart. Exchange Unified Messaging is expensive, but offers a lot of features that the other two don’t. From a “birds eye view” it may also fit your enterprise better if your companies’ locations use different types of PBXs, but you want to “unify” all of the communication in Exchange.

If you have a heterogeneous environment or non Windows environment, Asterisk or Google Voice may be a better route for you.

If you are concerned with regulatory compliance, Google Voice may not be your best choice since you do not have a centralized location of all your communication readily available.

When determining which choice is a better fit for your business, carefully weigh your options (price, compliance and room for expansion to name a few). It will be exciting to see how the technologies are managed, and what the future holds for unified communications. If you plan to roll out any of these services, or are in need of consultation, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We’re here to help.


The New Facebook

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Facebook released some major updates today. A number of people have complained that they don’t like the new layout, but the minor changes have you clicking less to find things, which conserves their bandwidth and lets you get to things faster. The newer graphics are sleeker and honestly a bit more like what you’d expect to see on an iPhone. Also, now you have the ability to simply eliminate friends from your news feed, which allows you to get the most up-to-data on the friends you actually want to know about.

Facebook seems to be more and more popular by the day. 318 has had a group on Facebook for a couple of years, and managed the Mac OS X Server group and the Xsan group, amongst others. Now we’ve added a fan page as well! Check it out here and become a fan.

Disable Shadows for Screen Shots

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Shadows make our screen shots look better. But we can’t always use them. There are times when we need to go ahead and disable them due to some reason or another. If you need to disable the shadows on screen captures, you can do so using the following command:
defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool true

To then enable the shadows, you would use the following command:
defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool false

Installing Symantec Security for Microsoft Exchange Licenses

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Once you get the PDF with the license numbers that you need you will log on to https://licensing.symantec.com You can create a new account with your own e-mail address to do so.

Click on new purchase and enter in the first serial number. Click submit. It will then ask you to e-mail it to you. Just finish this and it will e-mail you the license and also present it to you on the web page that comes up next. Download it to an appropriate place.

Open up Symantec Mail Security for Microsoft Exchange. Click on Admin and then Licensing. Go right to step 3. Browse to the file that you just downloaded and it will check with the server and configure it.

For the second license file, do the same thing as stated above.

Restart all of the started Symantec Mail services.

If you are updating the licenses after the expiration date, you have to do one more step to get everything enabled again.
You probably noticed that SPA status still says disabled. To enable it, go to Policies and then Premium Anti-Virus Settings. Put a check in “Enable Symantec Premium AntiSpam” Then click on the Deploy Changes button at the top. It will ask if you want to deploy it to all servers. Click ok on that. Now that status on the Home page will say that SPA Status is enabled.

You should be all done at this point.