AstraSync saves my mobile bacon

My mobile phone’s a BlackBerry. I love how stable it is, I love the community support, the battery life, and so on and so on, Except I battle with the fact the RIM haven’t done anything about licensing ActiveSync. So, I understand there’s competing platforms, etc, but honestly, I don’t care. As the consumer, I love the phone, but I NEED ActiveSync to synchronise my contacts and my calendar.

Using the Blackberry BIZ service, I’m able to scrape my OWA URL and send and receive mail along with three other accounts I receive mail on for various customers. All in all a great phone that does mail and SMS really well….

Moving on as we were talking about how the phone DOESN’T do ActiveSync…… What’s the problem were trying to solve? For a variety of reasons, tethering the phone (connecting the phone via the USB cable) and synchronising with the BlackBerry desktop sync doesn’t always work for me, since I’m highly mobile AND I use 64bit Outlook on 64bit Windows, and the desktop sync applet doesn’t know what to do with 64bit Outlook yet. So I love the phone, but I don’t like that I can’t sync my calendar and contacts over the air.

Until I tried AstraSync. Having an Exchange MVP as a customer on something as potentially emotionally charged as mobility enablement can be challenging, but the support folks managed me quite well, and I bought a copy well over six months ago. Since I’m not on an unlimited data plan (I DO live in Africa), I don’t want to sync every 5 minutes or even every 4 hours, but rather when it suits me, and then only the bits and the folders I DO want to sync, and so far I’ve been really happy.

How does that save my bacon? For a travelling consultant who lives by contacts and calendar, having an accurate picture of my daily schedule is huge. Outlook 2007 still allowed me to sync up via the BlackBerry Desktop sync client, but that’s not convenient in any way. So sitting in traffic needing to phone someone for an appointment on a calendar entry or a contact that I added a day or two ago, without having been able to sync or forgetting to sync, has raised my blood pressure somewhat on occasion. Having ActiveSync on my phone fixed all of that really quickly, and I’m quite grateful for a stable ActiveSync app that I can depend on for my synchronising needs.

So thumbs up on AstraSync for making my BlackBerry potentially the most useful phone I’ve had in years.

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Power Shell in the Enterprise – Standards and Best Practices

I’ve been teaching PowerShell formally and informally for the last three years or so, and one of the trends I find coming up more and more, especially in companies that have their own in house development capability is the need to establish Standards for PowerShell developments, script rollout, signing, etc.

One of the MANY advantages that PowerShell has is the concept of Code Signing, and built in restricted execution policies – meaning that companies can choose to ONLY run signed production scripts across their enterprise. This dramatically limits the kind of exposure that companies used to face with Windows Script Host and VBS scripts.

Often the companies I teach don’t know where to start, and without having some kind of whitepaper to refer to this can be difficult.

Dmitry Sotnikov blogged about the release of a new whitepaper written by PowerShell MVP Jeffery Hicks, who’s one of the leading figures writing about PowerShell and it’s practical application. I especially love the TFM books he’s written on PowerShell 1.0 and 2.0 and recommend you grab a copy of the latest one if you’re in any way serious about using PowerShell.

The whitepaper explains the issue and suggests standardisation based on several examples and is should be added to the suggested reading list if you’re starting with or thinking of using PowerShell in your company.

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