THIS SITE HAS MOVED

My needs for a blog have out grown what a live space can do so I am moving my blog over to a hosted WordPress solution.

To find all my Group Policy related material over to the web site http://www.grouppolicy.biz

All my other IT related blog post can be found at http://www.smartergeek.info

So please update you RSS feeds to the new sites and thanks for visiting this site over the past 18months.

My new Group Policy Web site www.grouppolicy.biz

I have just setup a new web site called “Group Policy Center” that you can see at http://www.grouppolicy.biz this site is now where I am going to post all my tutorials and news articles. I have also migrated all my existing Group Policy articles on this site over this site so you don’t have to keep coming back to this web site.

However this site is not going away so please don’t delete it from your favourites as I still plan to use this site for all my non-group policy relates tech news and information…

If you are interested in Group Policy please add http://feeds.feedburner.com/GroupPolicyCenter to your RSS reader.

My Microsoft Project Natal Predictions

Well 2010 (pronounced “twenty ten”) has rolled around and now I can say that this year Project Natal will be coming out for the Xbox 360. WOOHOO!!

So with the impending release of Natal for the Xbox 360 this year I have been thinking about this device some what and here are some predictions I have about the device…

Natal will be for the Xbox 360 and for Windows. Project Natal is probably going to be a USB device (see cable from the device below) as this would be the most convenient way to provide power and data to the camera/microphone array. Now granted this might be a wireless device for the Xbox 360 like the standard controllers and that cable might be a power lead but if this is true you could still connect it to a PC via the USB Xbox 360 Wireless receiver.

Project_Natal_Camera

So if you can connect the Natal to a PC this would be a way of providing 3D motion capture, facial recognition, voice recognition using the cameras and acoustic source localization and ambient noise suppression via its microphones. These sorts of capabilities would greatly help Microsoft implement NUI interface to Windows  like the Microsoft Office Labs 2019 Video that was released early last year…  See about 1 minute 30 seconds.

 

So imagine being able to sit down at your computer and have it recognise to who you are and log you on with you face and a voice print identification then use your hand to move around and organise the windows on your screen…. The future is here (soon)…

My other prediction for Project Natal is that it will enable new gaming titles such as Dance Hero which could be done via a full body motion capture dance. This is something that has been done before but it does away with the tacky floor pads (see image below) that were previously needed to make this work.

tvdancepad

Group Policy Setting of the Week 8 – Group Policy refresh interval for computers

This weeks (and first for the year) Group Policy Setting of the Week is a Group Policy setting that configures Group Policy. The “Group Policy refresh interval for computers” can be found under Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > System > Group Policy and is used to control how often the background computer refresh interval of a performed.

image

By default the refresh will happen every 90 minutes however it has a 30 minute random offset so it could potentially take between 1 to 2 hours for a policy refresh to occur. Keep in mind however that if configured the policy refresh to a shorter interval it will potentially not take affect to all your computers until the longest refresh interval of the last refresh interval setting. Normally this setting it set to a short interval before a major change to group policy setting is made to an SOE so that any rollback of the change can be implemented faster (example see How to use Group Policy Preferences to set change Passwords).

How to automatically patch Adobe Reader

Now that Microsoft security initiates are paying off and Windows and Internet Explorer more secure that the rivals. It seems that hackers are changing their focus as McAfee labs have said “Adobe product exploitation will likely surpass that of Microsoft Office applications in 2010.”. What is even more disturbing is that these security issues are platform independent which makes any security vulnerability even more appealing as it will work on multiple platforms (Windows and OSX).

In response to all the security issues that have recently come out for Adobe products they announced that they will be releasing security patches second Tuesday of the first month of every quarter unless the patch is deemed to be critical enough to release an out of cycle update… GREAT!!! Why they don’t just say second Tuesday of every month like Microsoft does so that all these patches can be released together is beyond me but at least its a start.

Problem is there was for a long time no way to automatically update these products as WSUS and Windows Update support updates of Adobe products. This often results in companies in having to manually patch the software via sneaker net or worse not at all leaving some gaping security holes on their computers.

Thankfully Adobe with the latest release of Adobe Reader 9.2.0 now supports Automatic Installation of updates. To enable this option you need to select “Automatically install updates” option under the "Updater” categories under Preferences menu option.

Adobe Automatic Update

For large scale enterprises this option is still not an practical option however for the mum and dad and SOHO’s this will at least mean they no longer need to manually check for updates every month to stay secure.

For more information on Adobe Reader Security Issues Details see:

Group Policy Setting of the Week – 7 Exclude directories in roaming profile

Today on Group Policy Setting of the Week we are going to be taking a look at “Exclude directories in roaming profile” which can be found in the deepest darkest regions of User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > System > User Profiles. This setting is useful in organisations that have Roaming Profiles configured but want to make sure that the roaming profile size does not blow out thus slow doing the users logon and log off or the computer. This option can be used to exclude specific folders of poorly written application from the roaming profile if they write large amounts of data (e.g. caches) to incorrect locations.

Exclude directories in roaming profile

A classic example of this was when Google Earth was first released it saved cache files to the users roaming profile folder which meant their profile size quickly swelled to over 1gb. User then quickly started to complain that it took a a long time to logon and logoff their computer (go figure). Enabling this option allowed the specific cached folders to be excluded from their roaming profile and therefore a much smaller roaming profile was copied to and from the server making their login’s and logoffs much quicker. The side affect of this is that the setting saved to the folders you exclude will no longer roam with the user when they logon a new computer.

Very handy if you want to keep roaming profiles to a small size which in turn will speed up the users logon and logoff processes.

This setting will work with Windows 2000 or greater and multiple paths can be appended with a ; as a delimiter between the entries.

Review – Bing App for the iPhone (Updated)

Microsoft have now released a Bing iPhone app that allow you to use the Microsoft services from your iPhone. The app itself is actually a few apps in one with a launching pad to numerous Bing services:

  • Standard Search (Voice or Text)
  • Image Search
  • Movies
  • Maps (and directions)
  • Business
  • News

Home Screen

The home screen is very much like the home pages you see on http://bing.com however the photos have been optimised for the smaller screen resolution. If you press the “6 pack” button at the bottom then it hides the search buttons and you get hover hot spots like the main web page.
 
Home Screen  

Bing iPhone App Home Screen  

Navigation Controls

The navigation buttons are always present when you are navigating in the app. The home button is very useful for coming back to the launch screen and the simple navigation buttons are also nice. My only complaint was that the back button is next to the home button so it is really easy to press the wrong button.

I have to also wounder if this application is also a preview of the look and feel for applications running on Windows Mobile 7.

App Navigation Controls  

Possible Windows Mobile 7 Navigation Control

Search

The search feature works as expected you tap in the search bar up the top and you start to type. You also start to see search results as you type.

Search as you type results Search Results

Bing iPhone App search as you type results Bing iPhone App Search Results

Search (Voice)

Next the the search bar you see a microphone that can be used to perform a voice search via BING. Press the button and just start to say what you want to search then press done when you have finished talking.

Voice Search Listening Voice Search Thinking

Bing iPhone App Voice Search Listening Bing iPhone App Voice Search Thinking

Now if you are not in the USA after a few seconds of thinking the app will crash and dumps you back to the home screen for now if you change you region setting of the iPhone to the United States it will work. When you do this voice searching will then work and searching for terms like "PIZZA" work really well. Microsoft have come out and said that they will be releasing a fix for this soon.

Images

As expected the image search allows you to search for images via BING. I tried searching for my name and was happy to find that a photo of me came up first… The image search results also faded in nicely as the phone loaded the images.

Image Search  

Bing iPhone App Image Search

Movies

I can only assume this is an USA only feature for now as when I select this option I immediately get a “We did not find any results for Movies” popup. Hopefully localised Australian information of the movie times will be coming soon.

Movies Search  

Bing iPhone App Movies Search

Maps

This certainly looks a lot like the Silverlight map web application that Microsoft recently released on the http://bing.com web site. The maps have integrated the  seadragon deep zoom technology which makes the whole experience very smooth. The map has full multi pinch to zoom and GPS support. The settings for the map are very similar to those seen on the included Google map app in the iPhone. I do wonder what the “Shaded” view  is as this seems to be no different to the “Road” map view.

Map  

Bing iPhone App Map

BING maps settings screen compared to the inbuilt Google maps setting screen. Very similar.

Bing iPhone App Map Settings iPhone Map Settings

Bing iPhone App Map SettingsIMG_0553[1]

Businesses

This option for searching for different types of business near your location but again it seems that there is no localised data for Australia for it to use yet.

Business Search – Restaurants  

Bing iPhone App Restaurants

News

This option was another a disappointment as when you launch it you are immediately presented with the “We did not find any results for (null)” message box. Not sure if this is also an issue for just Australian users but the error message is less than graceful.

News Search  

Bing iPhone App News Search

Directions

Again this seems to mirror very closely the inbuilt Google map app however you launch this separately from the “Directions” option from the home screen.

Another disappointment here as the search feature will only direct you to the suburb instead of the exact address that you typed into to the search. What I really don’t like about this is that it does not warn you that it is not sending you to the exact address just to a random point in the middle of the suburb….

Directions  

Bing iPhone App Search Directions    

Bing Directions iPhone native app Directions

Bing iPhone App Directions iPhone native app Directions

Just like Microsoft releasing Photosynth for the iPhone and licensing active sync they continue to demonstrate that they are willing to compete by innovation and not by exclusion. This makes me wounder how long it will be until we see Microsoft Zune App for the iPhone.

Overall

This is a really nice looking app and it is great to have an alternative to the inbuilt iPhone/Google apps. Its buggieness can be forgiven as this is Microsoft first really shot at making a mainstream iPhone app and this only needs to have a updated version deployed to fix the voice record issues. However it is really dissapoininting that a lot of the feauters dont work in Australia and what Microsoft really needs to do is get the localised services for Australia up and running ASAP.

UPDATE: Looks like these issues are going to be fixed soon as Microsoft have come out and said they will be soon fixing the issues of the voice search crashing outside the USA and enable the ability perform searchs outside of the USA. 

If you want to try it out you can install the app right now from this iTunes Link for free.

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