Archive for November, 2010

Voice Dictation on iPhone and iPad

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The iPhone has a built-in voice controls that allow you to speak to the phone and have it perform certain tasks, such as dial a given contact, go to the next track when playing music and even start playing music. This allows you to control the device, hands free and perform basic tasks. Have you ever wanted to use that same kind of technology to dictate emails, notes and write documents while on the go? Well, Dragon Dictation, from Nuance Communications has got ya’ covered!

Using Dragon Dictation, you can press a button and dictate text. You can then review and edit the text if needed. That text can then be emailed, posted to your wall on Facebook, posted to Twitter, sent as an SMS and yes, even copied to the clipboard. If you find yourself in any situation where you cannot use the keyboard for extended periods of time then Dragon Dictation is a must have! And you can’t beat the price; Dragon Dictation is currently free!

Dragon also has a product for Mac OS X, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and versions for Windows as well. You can also use the desktop applications to control the computer itself, allowing you to name it Jarvis, KITT, GERTY, HAL, Mother or just plain old Computer. If you link it up to automator or do a little scripting then you can even control other applications, allowing you to tell the computer to turn the lights on, make you coffee and even turn off those Christmas lights.

Use Microsoft Office With Google Apps

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Google Docs live on Google’s servers and are edited in a web browser. One of the most challenging aspects of leveraging this type of a cloud environment is workflow. Looking at every users workflow before making institutional changes is so daunting a task that it is rarely performed, resulting in users being left out of the process and at times also resulting in a breakdown in adoption from these “edge cases.”

Luckily, Google is wise to this predicament and has acquired DocVerse, which has resulted in a new option from Google: Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office. Cloud connect was announced last week without much fanfare. But the Cloud Connect toolbar for Microsoft Office is one of the more important new features of Google Docs in a long time, because it bridges the gap between the cloud and the client. In so doing, Cloud Connect breaks down some of the more critical arguments against adoption in the enterprise: retooling the entire workforce, redesigning workflow and working with documents while offline.

At 318, we have been working closely with many of our customers on transitions of data to cloud environments. Whether you are using Google or a competing vendor, please feel free to contact your 318 account manager or our sales department to discuss how this announcement can help to ease a transition to the cloud for your environment.

Attachmate Acquires Novell

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

In a press release on their website, Novell has announced that they will be acquired by a company called Attachmate for $2.2 Billion. The announcement can be found at http://www.novell.com/news/press/novell-agrees-to-be-acquired-by-attachmate-corporation. Microsoft (or a consortium run by Microsoft) will also be acquiring a few hundred patents as part of the arrangement.

Attachmate will be operating Novell and SUSE as two separate business units, calling into question some of the strategy that seemed around the corner in previous quarters. This at the same time that Novell is rebranding its social products into Novell Vibe and Novell Vibe Cloud and really doing better than they have in a long time with products like Platespin, WorkloadIQ, Endpoint Management Solutions, Identity Manager and ZENworks. Novell has also had a lot of success in recent years leading Solaris to Linux migrations.

For many, this has come as a shock. 318 has been a Novell, Microsoft, Redhat and Apple partner for a number of years and can work with you to decide what this means for your organization. Please, feel free to contact our main office at 310-581-9500 or your Professional Services Manager for more information.

PresSTORE Article on Xsanity

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

We have posted a short article on the availability of PresSTORE 4.1 on Xsanity at http://www.xsanity.com/article.php/20101116105720183. Enjoy!

Restricting Outgoing Email To a 3rd Party SMTP Relay Host on SonicWALLs

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Often times, it is necessary to lockdown outbound traffic to MX Logic. MX Logic can provide outbound filtering capabilities which assists against getting blacklisted, while also scanning your outgoing e-mail for malware. Also, limiting only the server to communicate with MX Logic ensures that no rogue mail servers can send out e-mail (often done by infected devices).

This guide assumes you have already used the Wizard to setup port forwarding, firewall rules, and NAT policies for allowing the mail server to be accessed via the SonicWALL.

To Lockdown a SonicWALL to Outbound Email to MX Logic
1. Determine what port you will be sending out on. If you are using a non standard port, you will first need to make a custom service object on the SonicWALL for the port.
2. Create an Address Group containing the Address Objects for MX Logic
1. Go to Network
2. Go to Address Objects
3. Add Address Object
1. Name: MX Logic 1
2. Zone Assignment: WAN
3. TYPE: Network
4. Network: IP From MX Logic
5. Netmask: Subnet From MX Logic
NOTE: You will need to do this for each subnet that MX Logic Offers. Name them sequentially. The Address info can be found on MX Logic’s Portal.
4. Go to Address Objects
5. Create Address Object Group
6. Add all of your MX Logic Address Objects to the Address Object Group, and call it “MX Logic”
7. Save all your changes.
3. Go to Firewall
4. Go to LAN to WAN
5. Click Add
6. Create a Rule that allows the mail server on the LAN to send out to anywhere on the WAN.
1. Action: Allow
2. From Zone: LAN
3. To Zone: WAN
4. Service: SMTP (or whatever you named your custom one)
5. Source: Your Address Object Representing Your Mail Server
6. Destination: MX Logic (The Address Object Group you created Previously).
7. Save your changes.
7. Create Another Rule to block all other outbound e-mail.
1. Go to Firewall
2. Go to LAN to WAN
3. Click Add
4. Action: Deny
5. From Zone: LAN
6. To Zone: WAN
7. Service: SMTP (or whatever you named your custom one)
8. Source: Any
9. Destination: Any
10. Save Your changes
8. Adjust Rule Order.
1. Ensure that the MX Logic Outbound rule is above the rule that blocks all other devices from sending SMTP traffic out to the Internet.
2. Apply the changes.
NOTE: By doing this, any laptop users, or other portable device users, that may try to send email over port 25 through other servers (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.) will be DENIED by the SonicWALL.

Thinking Outside the Box: CrashPlan Pro

Monday, November 8th, 2010

There are a lot of organizations who are rethinking some basic concepts in Information Technology. One of these concepts is that you need to own, duplicate and even replicate user data between each of your sites so that you can have roaming profiles in Windows and mobile home directories in Mac OS X. For organizations with a large number of labs and users who roam between them, these challenges, which have dominated the infrastructure side of IT have been cumbersome for the past 15 to 20 years. But let’s rethink the “why.”

If you have labs, common in K12 and Higher Education but not so common in the corporate world, you need network home folders on the Mac OS X side, or its sister, portable home directories. On the Windows side, you need folder redirection. But a growing number of education environments are practicing the art of the one-to-one deployment, which strongly resembles what can be seen in the corporate world.

Between the big iron, massive SANs attached to the core switches licensing for DFS heads and the like, it can all get cost prohibitive. But we still do it because we think we need our data replicated. And some of us do. But one thing that we often say is that this data is not a backup. So if it isn’t a backup then how do we back these systems up. And if we do need to back these systems up then why are we also performing a layer of redundant synchronization? Does all of this result in 3 or 4 copies of the data, all in a from that cannot be reduplicated?

The end of the Xserve is nigh, and now for something completely different?

Awhile back, someone told me that you could back an unlimited amount of data up to the cloud for a price that was so cheap that I was stunned. There were a couple of products that I reviewed: CrashPlan and Backblaze. Both are pretty darn awesome. But the bandwidth to back 3,000 users up to someone else’s cloud can become pretty darn cost prohibitive. Enter CrashPlan Pro: you can host that cloud in your own location, or in multiple locations if you have the need to do so, and all on relatively inexpensive hardware, either leveraging the hardware that you already own or even the CrashPlan Pro appliances, rack mountable goodness that scales to store up to 72TB of data per unit, to store data that gets deduplicated before it gets copied to the device over the wire, providing substantial storage savings, not to mention reduced congestion on your wire (or wireless).

And to top it all off, CrashPlan Pro offers extensibility in the form of a REST-based API that allows building that which you may need but which the developers have not yet though (or more likely had time) to build. The API actually makes CrashPlan Pro a possible destination for Final Cut, amongst other things.

Oh, and did we mention the client can run on Mac OS X, Windows, Linux and Solaris?!?!

318 partners with a number of vendors to help you rethink your IT conundrum, leveraging the best advances of today and tomorrow. We are pleased to add CrashPlan as our latest, in a long list of valued partners. Contact your 318 Professional Services Manager, or sales@318.com now for more information.

The Xserve Has Been Discontinued

Friday, November 5th, 2010

The Xserve has officially been discontinued by Apple and will no longer be sold after January, 2011. Mac OS X Server will still be available on Mac Mini and Mac Pro (which will become the only option for a Mac OS X-based Metadata Controller in Xsan environments). Apple has produced a transition guide, available here.

If you would like to discuss how this move impacts your Information Technology environment then please contact your 318 account team for more information!