Archive for February, 2013

Internet Explorer 10 is available

February 27th, 2013

Internet Explorer 10 is available worldwide in 95 languages for download today and brings the same leading standards support, with improved performance, security, privacy, reliability that consumers enjoy on Windows 8, to Windows 7 customers.

 IE10 delivers the best performance for real world Web sites on your Windows device. As with Windows 8, IE10 on Windows 7 improves performance across the board with faster page loading, faster interactivity, and faster JavaScript performance, while reducing CPU usage and improving battery life on mobile PCs. IE loads real world pages up to 20% faster in top sites for news, social, search, ecommerce, and more.

You can experience IE10’s leading performance first hand with demos on the IE Test Drive site with examples of hardware accelerated rendering, interactivity, touch, and real world site patterns. Minesweeper is a new test drive demo that is both a full featured HTML5 game and also lets you measure your browser’s performance.

For developers, IE10 brings increased support for modern Web standards powered by hardware acceleration to enable a new class of compelling applications and fast and fluid Web browsing. IE10 adds support for over 30 new modern Web standards beyond IE9, for a 60% increase. These new supported standards in IE10 include many of the latest HTML5, CSS3, DOM, Web Performance, and Web Application specifications across important aspects of Web development including:

  • Create rich visual effects with CSS Text Shadow, CSS 3D Transforms, CSS3 Transitions and Animations, CSS3 Gradient, and SVG Filter Effects
  • More sophisticated and responsive page layouts with CSS3 for publication quality page layouts and responsive application UI (CSS3 grid, flexbox, multi-column, positioned floats, regions, and hyphenation), HTML5 Forms, input controls, and validation
  • Enhanced Web programming model for better offline applications through local storage with IndexedDB and the HTML5 Application Cache; Web Sockets, HTML5 History, Async scripts, HTML5 File APIs, HTML5 Drag-drop, HTML5 Sandboxing, Web workers, ES5 Strict mode support.
  • Beautiful and interactive Web applications with support for several new technologies like CSS3 Positioned Floats, HTML5 Drag-drop, File Reader API, Media Query Listeners, Pointer Events, and HTML5 Forms.
  • Improved Web application security with the same markup and support for HTML5 Sandbox for iframe isolation.

Microsoft Office 365 – easier to use and more powerful

February 27th, 2013

Microsoft  Office 365 is now an easier way to set and to run a full network for small and medium-sized businesses. The new edition is:

  • easier to set up,
  • easier to administer
  • easier to use,
  • more flexible
  • friendlier to mobile devices
  • capable,of working with additions in Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013, and Lync 2013,

The ability to switch on mail, file sharing, Web/intranet, messaging, and live meetings without standing up servers and SANs will be enticing to companies eager to save time and money

The’s still plenty of room for improvement  andmpanies who think implementing Office 365 will eliminate the need for IT staff (and IT pros who think it will mean more hours in the day for World of Warcraft) are going to be disappointed. Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync may be running in Microsoft’s cloud, but thoseill require attention from knowledgeable hands.

Different Office 365 plans are available, and Microsoft addedwo more to the mix: the Small Business Premium and the Midsize Business. These plans come with the Microsoft Office 2013 suite  on a subscription basis, including the ability for each user to install the software on five devices (PCs or Macs but for other users its a price per device.). Should you need to edit a document on some other device, such as an iPad, you can do so with Office Web Apps, which support all the latest browsers and are good enough for light work. Even better, if you can borrow someone else’s PC, you can stream the Office 2013 applications from the cloud for temporary use.  Note that users get the same features using the streaming Office apps or the on-premises installations.

 New features to highlight include::

  • The People feature (basically a beefed-up contact database)
  • The Newsfeed that lets users combine all their online resources, such as websites they like, blogs they read, RSS feeds, and status updates from other users.
  •  A new Sites feature combines all of a user’s individual and team SharePoint sites.
  • Finally there’s SkyDrive, which allots varying amounts of online storage for each user depending on how much you want to pay, with geo-redundant backup thrown in for free.
  • Users also have one-click access to the Office Store, for new Office-certified apps (think add-ons).
  • Of course admins can control access to this.

Note however a change in license policy that reflects the move to the cloud, and the move towards a BYOD world.

  • There is no purchasable physical, removable media – when you buy an Office 365 subscription or one of the single user copies of Office 2013, you will receive a product key code.
  • You will have to use your browser to navigate to and download the actual applications.
  • A single user copy of Office 2013 is licensed to a single machine, not to a single user. Officially: The software license is permanently assigned to the device on which the software is initially activated. That device is the “licensed device.” In the event of an under warranty failure, you can ask Microsoft to transfer the license
  • The pricing of Office 2013 is favourably biased towards Office 365with full office professioanl at $399.99 per user per annum.

    Switching to a subscription model requires a major shift in perspective when it comes to how we purchase and use our software, but that does not automatically make it a bad optiont. This change is a reflection of the living in a networked, always on, cloud-based, software as a service world and even Luddites like me are going to have to come to terms with it – sooner or later.

    Dubai Miracle Garden

    February 27th, 2013

     A procession of color as far an eye can see, a garden of Eden, DUBAI’s MIRACLE GARDEN a wonder in desert. This park was launched on Valentine’s Day and it is created by Al ain based landscaping and agricultural company Akar, the creators of Al Ain paradise. Flowers are planted in different shapes: heart, star, pyramids, arches, domes, flower clad vintage and designer cars, unique ceiling gardening, water springs and flower towers.

    With a floral perimeter wall around it and more than 45 million flowers of the garden it is racing for Guinness record.

    This garden is situated at Dubai land near Arabia Ranches Bridge by the side of Emirates road towards Jabel Ali on the Arjan exit. Take the UmmSuqeim Rd from Emirates mall , cross the Al Khail Rd and pass Dubiotech and you wil find it on the right just before the main roundabout with the Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed Rd 

    The Garden has free entry for kids and Dhs 20 for adults.

    Timings: 9am to 9pm (open till late-May, reopens in October)
    Planted area: 72,000 sq. metres
    Pathways: 4km

    The garden will be closed in May through the peak of summer and will re-open before winter.

    Management Reporter 2012 Rollup 4 – see a demo from Synergy Software Systems

    February 26th, 2013

    Management Reporter supports your reporting needs for Dynamics AX Budget Planning, (a new solution in Dynamics AX 2012 R2).

    Budget Planning is particularly suited to organizations with  formal and structured budgeting processes. Budget Planning allows for multiple budgeting processes to be active at the same time to allow for maximum flexibility. Use Budget Planning to :

    • Associate budget planning processes with budget cycles, ledgers, and organization hierarchies
    • Analyze and update budget plans by using multiple scenarios.
    • Automatically route the budget plans together with: worksheets, justifications, and attachments for review and approval
    • Consolidate multiple budget plans from a lower level of the organization into a single parent budget plan at a higher level in the organization.
    • Develop a single budget plan at a higher level of the organization and allocate the budget to lower levels of the organization

    Management Reporter supports a wide variety of budget reports, including:

    • Actual vs. Budget,
    • Budget Trend reports,
    • Budget comparisons,
    • Forecast reports.

    Let us demonstrate a few of the great reports you can get from Management Reporter in relation to budgets.  

    Posting layers: In the latest release of Reporter, data can by restricted by the operations, tax and current posting layers from Microsoft Dynamics AX.

    When a report is generated in Management Reporter, quick links are now dynamically created to let you jump to key areas of a report in the web viewer. This allows users to do a quick scan of the report to see if any data jumps out at them before drilling into details

    Microsoft Office 2013 cheat sheets

    February 24th, 2013

    Complete collection of Microsoft Office 2013 Quick Start Guides (Cheat Sheets)

    Dynamics Ax 2012 R2 – translated Help released

    February 9th, 2013

     Availability of translated Application User Help on TechNet in 16 languages for R2 (95% complete ) more to come this month.

    The Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Help system combines many sources into a single user-assistance portal. A Help server on your local network provides Help from Microsoft, and may also include customized Help created by a partner or customer for application users. In addition, Microsoft hosts the latest help for application users, system administrators, and software developers on the web. System administrators can also download and install the latest Help updates from Microsoft from CustomerSource.

    In the Help system, you can use the table of contents or search to navigate.

    Mobile BYOD what’s the impact?

    February 7th, 2013

    A shift in IT is the consumerization-of-IT. With the advent of the iPhone and other modern mobile devices,  most businesses find employees have ther own mobiles but incealsingky these are smart phones and tablets an dicnreasnkgy get used for work purposes. Exponential growth success on the mobile front puts pressure on IT to allow other employee-driven technologies, such as PCs, cloud services, desktop apps, and social media

    Wi-Fi access is available at most major company one might walk into. These companies might not realize it, but if they grant Internet access to any and all comers, then they’ve implemented a BYOD policy whether they know it or not. With an influx of devices carried by vendors, salespeople, trainers, temporary workers, field service technicians and employees, how should a company approach its network’s permission policy in regards to devices it might not be able to control?

    A surprisingly small percentage of companies have implemented explicit bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies. An estimated 80% of enterprises lack a mobile device management (MDM) system to protect corporate assets on employee-owned devices. With companies liable for mishandled sensitive information, a BYOD strategy is a necessity.

    The three tier model is a convenient way to explain how a distributed IT system works but this simple explanation is not always reality. Data is not restricted to one set of servers — it was scattered across all of the clients, servers, desktops of the enterprise. And that complexity is greater now with BYOD, and cloud based solutions In enterprise applications in a three-tier architecture,

    •  The customers ran thick clients on their desktops and connected with a front-end presentation tier.
    • The business logic and processing were codified in the middle tier.
    • The data sources were internal, kept away from the customers in the back-end tier.

     In the modern IT world, enterprise data is scattered around the organization’s network and elsewhere. The BYOD trend means require back up,. on business desktops, personal laptops, business phones and personal tablets, and in virtual environments etc. The traditional back up approach of of enterprise systems is to install agents to copy data and to forward it to a central backup service. Different types of agents are required for different types of applications – for instance, a virtual server system may run agents for Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESX, or Citrix XenServer. A database system may have agents for Microsoft SQLServer, IBM DB,2 or Oracle. Managing a fleet of agents is complex and expensive. Backup is a means to an end. What’s important is access to data when you need it most. Running a restore test is not the most exciting job in the world and its also not the easiest with mobile clients.

    There are other BYOD challenges. If your enterprise deploys devices that integrate with your existing authentication infrastructure, then for BYOD you need an alternate route of authentication for a new application. Users don’t want to remember numerous passwords they are used to single sign on. So authenticate against the enterprise’s AD system. It makes your users and IT staff happy. One of the really nice things about working in an enterprise environment is that you can almost always count on Active Directory and Group Policy being there. Group Policy in particular is fantastic because it lets the system administrators centralize settings and configuration. Your application needs to be added to the “Trusted Sites” in order to work fine? No problem, push it through Group Policy. Require an obscure registry setting to be changed? Group Policy to the rescue! Is there an OS feature that must be installed for the application to work?  Group Policy does that too. With BYOD, your application must work without any kind of centralized configuration or control, which means that end users need to be able to configure it on their own. Maybe this means that you leverage DNS (like Exchange does) to help point users to a central configuration, or perhaps you use another configuration server scenario. Can you count on Group Policy and Active Directory for management and configuration with BYOD?. That is why we add AD synchronisation to SOTI mobile device management.

    Android phones, iPhone, iPads and other smart devices are all about apps. Thousands of new apps for these platforms are introduced every day, including productivity-boosting apps that are being adopted by businesses. Apps can include malicious components designed to introduce viruses or steal data. While app stores have various evaluation criteria, it is risky to assume that all apps are safe for all enterprise environments. Even if a guest device doesn’t have direct access to corporate file servers or other resources, there may still be nothing preventing it from launching denial-of-service attacks or other malicious behavior

    Managing applications relates to employee efficiency. “Angry Birds” and other seemingly harmless game apps can steal hours that rapidly multiply with the proliferation of BYOD.  Wha tf the app is on an emeployee  evice but he uses the device for work purposes e.g checking mails at an airport? or preparing a quote and he then connects to your network to transfer files?

    BYOD policies should include restrictions on the types of apps that can reside on employee-owned phones that are used to access corporate resources such as e-mail and calendars

    Every smart device offers password protection capabilities, but unless IT is overseeing the passwords, many BYOD users will take the easy route and opt out of password controls. Yet for comaopny moble devices the risk of loss of data due to a stolen or misplaced device is incresed so password protection is essential.

    For enterprise development of new applications you knew screen sizes used by the company. With BYOD, an application must adapt to different screen sizes adroitly, which is a bit of work for a native mobile application if you want it to look really nice instead of counting on the OS scaling it. With Web applications, that is a lot easier. With traditional enterprise applications, we got used to rolling out something and having the users get trained on it. The training worked because everyone had the same experience. BYOD users expect to install an app or point to a URL and start working. And even when there are opportunities to train, users will have different experiences because they won’t all be using the same device. Your applications must be usable without formal training, and have self-contained help and documentation and tutorials.

    Lots of companies set up barriers to VPN like physical tokens and third-party applications. These setups are sold with the promise of increased management and reduced headaches, but in a world of BYOD, they shut most devices out of the VPN entirely, meaning that everything needs to run over the public Internet. You should be prepared for your application to run over the public Internet too, unless it is something that is entirely useless off-premises.

    Expect all traffic to be HTTP (will IT staff open a different port just for your application/), and plan how to leverage the device’s built-in email capabilities if you need to send email.

    An application absolutely must be secure. This means HTTPS for anything but the most innocent of traffic. Consider encrypting sensitive data too to defend against man-in-the-middle attacks and snooping when the user is on public Wi-Fi. Sensitive data stored on the device should be encrypted. Treat data from the device like you would treat data from a public-facing Web site, and protect against SQL injections, cross-site-scripting, and other similar attacks.

    Cost is also a  factor. Cellular networks discriminate by the minute and megabyte and the discrimination is worse when roaming or going off net to communicate with a different carrier. Enterprises get big benefits from going to a single carrier – in plan calls, large discounts and support. All these advantages disappear if employees’ mobile contracts fragment into individual tariffs reclaimed  through expenses

    If  employees use their own devices, what safeguards does the organisation have for the sensitive data that might end up on that personal hardware and what can it do to ensure that personal device choices will support all the business apps that staff need to do their job?  Which users will be trusted with what data and/or resources and in what circumstances. The issues are complex when personal mobile devices are involved because such devices are not in the organization’s direct control. A trusted user carrying sensitive documents on an iPad might unknowingly disable company-mandated encryption, exposing the company in the event of loss or theft

    Using the same end-point protection software on employee-owned devices that is used on corporate hardware is fraught with issues. For example, what happens when a remote lock and wipe destroys, say, personal photos?

    Just as many security and compliance issues were caused by the early adoption of instant messaging. Now a similar risk comes from employee use of public social media for sharing business information.Who is moderateing  t he tweets, facebook posts instagrams and blogs?  Individuals have grown accustomed to using IT online, but are now increasingly taking advantage of access on their mobile devices. Sharing information is easier,but  increases the risks to the organisation.

    Thereare  productivity and motivation gains when employees can use their favoured devices and tools and that’s why they fight to keep Excel when ERP is introduced!

    Some new technology releases

    February 3rd, 2013

    Microsoft’s Surface Pro launches on February 9

    Blackberry 10 is now out.

    Microsoft announced Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 (or VS2012.2) the latest quarterly update. This includes  Git integration with Visual Studio and TFS . 

    “TFS” has historically meant “big scary corporate centralized source control” while Git has meant “small scrappy lightweight distributed source control.” TFS meant connected (OMG, I can’t code on a plane!) and Git meant occasionally connected (OMG, I don’t know what rebase means!).

    However,  Team Foundation Server (TFS) isn’t just source control, it’s a whole bug tracking, change management, application lifecycle management (ALM) suite. Source control is one pluggable piece. On the other hand, Git isn’t just source control either. Git has become effectively FTP for code. plan is that in a future release Git will come baked in to all editions of Visual Studio – including Express

    Mozilla disables Firefoxplug ins

    February 3rd, 2013

    Mozilla yesterday announced it would automatically disable all plug-ins in Firefox except the latest version of Adobe’s Flash Player, citing security and stability reasons for the move.

    The feature, called “click-to-play,” has been part of Firefox since version 17, which launched last November, but Mozilla will restrict plug-ins even further going forward.

    SQL 2008 service packs

    February 3rd, 2013

     SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3 Cumulative Update 9,  build 10.00.5829 is released with just 3 fixes

     There is no corresponding Cumulative Update for SQL Server 2008 RTM, SP1, or SP2, because those service pack levels are retired.

    •  SQL Server 2008 RTM was retired on April 13, 2010,
    •  SQL Server 2008 SP1 was retired on September 19, 2011,
    • SQL Server 2008 SP2 was retired on September 17, 2012.

     If you are running SQL Server 2008,  then you  should be on Service Pack 3 . I doubt whether Microsoft will release a SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 4.

    Mainstream support for both SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 is still scheduled to end on January 14, 2014.