Saturday, February 28, 2015

Apple Announces March 9 Event


Apple has sent out notices to members of the media for their March 9 event.  Simply titled "Spring forward." with a note that the event will get under way at 10am PDT (1pm eastern) and be available for steaming at apple.com/live.

Many Apple followers, including myself, believe that this is the event that Apple will use to really show off what the new Apple Watch can really do.  I was impressed by what where were shown back in September, but I believe on March 9 we will learn about the Watch's full capabilities.

We also know that Apple Watch requires iOS 8.2.  With iOS 8.2 we will get all the enhancements for our iPhones to make Apple Watch work. (The first generation Apple Watch requires an iPhone to work.)

[Rampant Rumor Mill Mode: On]

There are some whispers on the Internet that Apple will, in addition to telling us all about the Apple Watch and iOS 8.2, will unveil new hardware also.  If you look around, you will find bloggers or analysts talking about the 12-inch "iPad Pro", an Apple iPad stylus, and event a completely redesigned 12-inch MacBook Air rumored as the "MacBook Stealth."  These things may come to pass, but I don't see it coming during the March 9 event.  March 9 will be all about the amazing things the Apple Watch can do and why you need to get one.

[Rampant Rumor Mill Mode: Off]

What I do expect at the March 9 event, that is decidedly not a rumor is the pricing.  Back in September, Apple told us that the Apple Watch Sport edition will start at $349.

My own back of the envelope speculative pricing has a Sport edition watch going for about $549 when you factor in the larger screen size and maybe 8GB of storage for music.  It could be even more if you can purchase an AppleCare plan.


I originally thought I would get the Apple Watch edition, you know, the one in sterling silver with the cool looking Milanese Loop band.  Again, my completely speculative pricing envelop puts that Watch in the $749 - $1,299 price range, again, when you factor in the larger face, extra memory and AppleCare warrantee.

Don't even get me started on the Apple Watch Edition edition.  That version of the Watch is not intended to be so much as functional as it is really a piece of 18K gold jewelry.  Expect the Apple Watch Edition to start at nothing less than $9,999 and go up from there.

At this point, anyone who follows Apple closely will know that Apple is really serious about the Apple Watch, its function and it's perception that it's jewelry.  And that means that it will be expensive.  I like to purchase the mid-tier and Apple equipment, but this time, remembering back to how hard I was on the last two $80 - $120 watches I purchased years ago, the Apple Watch Sport edition looks like the new "fitness tracker" for me.

Let's see what Apple has in store for us on March 9.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Apple Releases Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Update


Earlier this week, Apple slipped out the latest security and enhancement update for OS X Yosemite.

OS X 10.10.2 includes the following enhancements and fixes:

General content
Resolves an issue that might cause Wi-Fi to disconnect
Resolves an issue that might cause web pages to load slowly
Fixes an issue that could cause Spotlight to load remote email content when this preference is disabled in Mail
Improves audio and video sync when using Bluetooth headphones
Adds the ability to browse iCloud Drive in Time Machine
Improves VoiceOver speech performance
Resolves an issue that could cause VoiceOver to echo characters when entering text on a web page
Addresses an issue that could cause the input method to switch languages unexpectedly
Improves stability and security in Safari

For enterprise customers
Improves performance for browsing DFS shares in the Finder
Fixes an issue where certain Calendar invitations could be displayed at the incorrect time
Fixes an issue for Microsoft Exchange accounts where the organizer of a meeting might not be notified when someone accepts an invitation using Calendar
Addresses an issue where Safari could continually prompt for credentials when accessing a site protected by NTLM authentication
Adds the ability to set "Out of Office" reply dates for Microsoft Exchange accounts in Mail

Security Content
For detailed information about the security content of this update, see Apple security updates.

I've been testing a prerelease version of this update for about two weeks now and it is looking pretty good.  The Wi-Fi disconnects had been driving me a little more nuts than usual which was masking the slow web page load issue.  (Huh, why aren't these pages loading faster?  I've rebooted all my networking gear...eye roll.)

This update is available now from the Updates tab in the Mac App Store app.  

It's always a good idea to plug in your MacBook and backup your Mac before installing any new software like OS upgrades and patches with Apple's Time Machine or with a third-party solution like the fantastic BackBlaze service.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Apple Releases iOS 8.1.3 Maintenance Update


Yesterday afternoon, Apple released iOS 8.1.3 a minor maintenance release to iOS 8.

Yes, this update is safe to install.  Since this is a maintenance release, there are no major new features or interface changes.  The areas that received updates include a new installer that requires less free space on the device to perform upgrades, an Apple ID login fix for Messages and FaceTime, a Spotlight app search fix, fixes for multitasking gestures on the iPad and a new configuration option for test taking in school applications.



I'm glad to see Apple working to fix these nagging issues.  I've seen a lot of iPhones and iPads belonging to family members and co-workers who don't have the latest version of iOS 8 installed because there is not enough free space to download, unpack, and install the update.  I'm also gald to see the fix for the Spotlight search feature.  I very often use that feature as an app launcher and it was super annoying to have to restart my iPhone 6 to restore app search.

The next update for iOS is 8.2 which is currently in developer beta testings.  iOS 8.2 is expected to bring new features, including support of the Apple Watch in the near future.  While no release date has been set for iOS 8.2, it is currently up to beta release 4 and is expected to be completed right around the time Apple Watch launches in April 2015.

iOS 8.1.3 is available for all current model iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Incident at RetentionUpdateOrder [UPDATED]

During an upgrade of a quality assurance (QA) instance of OpenText Content Server 10.0.0 SP2 Update 12 to Content Server 10.5.0 Update 2014-06 I ran into an incident at the RetentionUpdateOrder table.

[01/14/2015 04:25:31 PM] : Applying the database schema upgrade
[01/14/2015 04:25:31 PM] : Error executing statement
[01/14/2015 04:25:31 PM] : create table RetentionUpdateOrder ( ... )
[01/14/2015 04:25:31 PM] : Error: Error executing an Sql statement.
[01/14/2015 04:25:31 PM] : Error: Error executing an Sql statement.
[01/14/2015 04:25:31 PM] : The Module Upgrade Failed Due To Errors


The error, as it turns out, was caused because my database already had a table called "RetentionUpdateOrder" in it.  Great, now what?

A quick look at my QA and production Content Server 10.0 databases revealed that the table in question existed in both.  This was not a table that I added, altered, or otherwise modified, so it had to come from the core installation of Content Server or one of the modules that my employer has elected to install.

I needed to know how big the scope of this problem was.  As it turned out, RetentionUpdateOrder was not alone.  Three of it's friends were also giving me a little bit of heartburn during the upgrade; they are: RetentionUpdateOrder, RetentionUpdateRetry, RetentionUpdateFailed, and RetentionUpdateLog.

WARNING: This post talks about modifications to your Content Server database.  You should only directly alter your Content Server database under the supervision of a trained OpenText engineer.

Once I knew which tables involved in the upgrade, I used the following SQL to figure that out how much data was going to have to deal with.  Thankfully, using the following SQL command, the results all came back as zero rows.

use [yourContentServerDBName]
go
select COUNT(*) from RetentionUpdateOrder
go
select COUNT(*) from RetentionUpdateRetry
go
select COUNT(*) from RetentionUpdateFailed
go
select COUNT(*) from RetentionUpdateLog
go

To workaround this issue, wrote a short little SQL script to backup the tables in my database, and then drop the original so I could restart the Content Server database schema upgrade process and have it finish successfully.  Here's the rough utility SQL script that I wrote to clean up the table situation.

use [yourContenServerDBName]
go
select * into RetentionUpdateOrder_CS10_5_Backup
    from RetentionUpdateOrder
go
if OBJECT_ID('livelink..RetentionUpdateOrder','U') is not null
    drop table RetentionUpdateOrder
go
select * into RetentionUpdateRetry_CS10_5_Backup
    from RetentionUpdateRetry
go
if OBJECT_ID('livelink..RetentionUpdateRetry','U') is not null
    drop table RetentionUpdateRetry
go
select * into RetentionUpdateFailed_CS10_5_Backup
    from RetentionUpdateFailed
go
if OBJECT_ID('livelink..RetentionUpdateFailed','U') is not null
    drop table RetentionUpdateFailed
go
select * into RetentionUpdateLog_CS10_5_Backup
    from RetentionUpdateLog
go
if OBJECT_ID('livelink..RetentionUpdateLog','U') is not null
    drop table RetentionUpdateLog
go

To jump start the database schema upgrade again, in my browser, I navigated back to the admin home page at ?func=admin.index and then jumped over to the database upgrade page at ?func=admin.dbupgrade.  (You may be prompted to log back in as 'admin'.)

Once I restarted the database schema upgrade, it was a few short minutes until I got the following message back from my Content Server 10.5 instance:

[01/16/2015 05:45:03 PM] : Applying the database schema upgrade
[01/16/2015 05:45:03 PM] : Applying the data upgrade
[01/16/2015 05:45:03 PM] : The database upgrade completed with no errors.

Outstanding!  Your results may vary from mine. It is always to have a good set of backups, rollback plans and we should always test upgrades in test instances before moving on to QA, DR, and production.  If you get into trouble, or have questions, don't forget to contact the OpenText Support Team.

UPDATE:

After talking to OpenText support, two important bits of information have surfaced about this issue.  They are:

1. The four RetentionUpdate tables discussed here are for the Archive Storage Provider module and NOT the Records Manager module.

2. If you have an aversion to writing SQL, you can avoid all of this by installing the Archive Storage Provider 10.0.2 module update before attempting to upgrade to Content Server 10.5.0.  Naturally, this is the method preferred by the OpenText Support team and I agree with them.  If you chose to use the backup/drop table method I described here, that is a viable workaround.  Any updates or alterations of a Content Server/Livelink database should be done only with guidance from Support.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Microsoft's ANS Alerts Are No Longer Free


Tomorrow's Microsoft "Patch Tuesday" is going to seem a little bit more confusing than past patch days for the majority of Microsoft's customers.

"They've gone from free to fee, and for really no particular reason," said Andrew Storms, vice president of security services at New Context, a San Francisco-based security consultancy, in an interview."
Microsoft Windows administrators have been familiar with the ANS, or Advanced Notification Service emails that were sent out a head of Microsoft's scheduled patch release date with information regarding what software was to be patched, their classification of the patch, and associated knowledge base articles.  Starting with tomorrow's patch Tuesday, Microsoft will not provide advanced notice of patches.
"Customer feedback indicates that many of our large customers no longer use ANS in the same way they did in the past due to optimized testing and deployment methodologies," said Chris Betz, senior director at the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC). "While some customers still rely on ANS, the vast majority wait for Update Tuesday, or take no action, allowing updates to occur automatically."

"Microsoft prefers to call its monthly security release "Update Tuesday," apparently believing "Patch Tuesday" carries negative connotations."

So, unless your organization pays for premiere support or is otherwise involved in sharing security information with Microsoft, you will no longer be receiving these email updates.

Personally, I've never participated in the online briefings, but I would skim the list of patches, sorry, "updates" that Microsoft would be pushing out to Microsoft Windows Update Servers (WUS) running on private networks.  While I'm sad to see the email notices and blog postings go away, for small to mid-sized organizations, I'm not sure that there will be a meaningful impact on day-to-day operations.  What will likely become of this is that Windows client and Windows Server administrators will need to pay more attention when testing the latest updates before deploying them on production servers.

[Via ComputerWorld.com...]

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Palm OS - Throw Back Thursday


In honor of "Throw Back Thursdays", here's a Palm OS device family photo I took recently.

In that top row, we have the original Palm Pre, an H/Palm TouchPad, and the elusive Palm Foleo.  The second row includes an early USRobotics Pilot and a 3Com Palm Pilot (both running Palm OS 2.0).  You'll also notice that a Fossil smartwatch on the far left of the fourth row.  Lastly, you'll notice that I do have a Palm Treo 750 (Windows Mobile 6.0).

Happy Throw Back Thursday!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

OpenText Announces the Acquisition of Informative Graphics Corp.


Yesterday, OpenText announced that they have entered into a deal to acquire Informative Graphics Corporation.
Waterloo, ON – 2015-1-5 – OpenText™ (NASDAQ: OTEX, TSX: OTC), a global leader in Enterprise Information Management (EIM), today announced that it has acquired Informative Graphics Corporation (IGC), a leading developer of viewing, annotation, redaction and publishing commercial software. As a valued OpenText partner for more than a decade, IGC technologies will be further integrated into the ECM product portfolio and extended into other OpenText Suites.  
With the acquisition of IGC, OpenText strengthens its capabilities for secure access to any content, on any device, on premises and in the cloud. Having already deployed more than 250 joint customers and more than 300,000 seats of Brava!® for OpenText Content Server, OpenText can now extend the reach of IGC offerings to more OpenText customers globally. 
“With a proven record of success as an OpenText partner, we are excited to welcome the IGC team into our company,” said Mark J. Barrenechea, president and chief executive officer of OpenText. “As customers make the shift to the digital workplace and the cloud, document viewing and mark-up on any device will enable organizations to leverage their information and drive growth and success in their organizations.”
Content Server administrators should be pretty excited about this acquisition.  Brava! is a well known mark-up module for CAD documents stored in Content Server.  I've seen and talked to the folks from IGC at past Enterprise World conferences and have always been impressed with their software.  With OpenText's acquisition, the software should become even more tightly integrated into the Content Suite of software.

You can read the full press release on the OpenText website. CEO Mark Barrenechea also a blog post up about the acquisition.