Feeds
The Register Columnists

Mary Branscombe

Contact Mail Follow RSS feed

Automation begins with keeping track of your assets

Automating effectively requires you to know what is connected to your network and what patches it needs, and to be able to push patches on to the right device at the right time. Before you can manage anything, you need to know what hardware and software you have and where it is. Then you need to take control of it, remotely and …
Mary Branscombe, 27 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

Of Windows patch management

If there's a new patch available for Windows, you probably want it applied as soon as possible. It is unlikely, though, that you will want to roll out that update to users automatically because whether they contain new features, fix bugs or plug security holes, patches can break applications. It makes more sense for IT to use …
Mary Branscombe, 30 May 2011
The Register breaking news

Your PC, our problem

You can tell the difference between business laptops and consumer laptops pretty easily. Not by the specifications, or the price - as USB 3 and hard drive protection become common, often the only visible difference is whether it comes with a fingerprint scanner. What really sets them apart is the design; consumer laptops come …
Mary Branscombe, 19 May 2011
The Register breaking news

Help desk tools for Windows shops

Getting managed desktops under control is all about getting some distance; you need to get away from expensive, time-consuming deskside visits. Self service for common issues like password replacement will save you a lot of calls and you can take advantage of the Windows 7 Troubleshooting Platform which gives you a user- …
Mary Branscombe, 14 Apr 2011
The Register breaking news

Some Windows tools to manage the desktop estate

Most businesses are pulling their IT team in two directions at the same time. We want instant access to information for improved productivity - and we want regulatory compliance. We want the economies of cloud, virtualisation and managed desktops - and we want business mobility. We want to get online from the coffee shop, the …
Mary Branscombe, 12 Apr 2011
The Register breaking news

The challenges of desktop configuration

For businesses, many of the problems with PCs come from the 'personal' part of personal computer. If every system is set up differently, with different applications, updates, security settings, power management and interface options, the individual user might be happier. They might even be more productive, although it’s equally …
Mary Branscombe, 28 Mar 2011
The Register breaking news

Productivity: IT pros to the rescue

There are tools and services that enable service desks to deliver all kinds of services to keep the desktop estate running smoothly, but how does it prove its impact on employee productivity and what steps can be taken to improve it? Most companies aren't in the technology business; the products and services they deliver - the …
Mary Branscombe, 25 Mar 2011
The Register breaking news

Sucky software? So add a virgin

David Platt. Most software sucks, so statistically speaking the software you write probably sucks as well, according to the author of programming classics like Understanding COM+ (now out of print) and Introducing Microsoft .NET (now has a different title). His latest book, Why Software Sucks (buy it here), pillories …
Mary Branscombe, 26 Jun 2007
Microsoft Office logo

Tie your own Office ribbon

Visual Studio 2008 (codename Orcas, available now as beta 1 and shipping sometime before the end of 2007) will come with Visual Studio Tools for Office 3.0, which finally adds a ribbon designer so you can easily integrate your Office add-ons with the new-look interface. You can also add Windows Forms and WPF controls to Outlook …
Mary Branscombe, 08 Jun 2007
silverlight

Microsoft launches no-code mashup tool

Popfly, Microsoft's first Silverlight application, is a visual development tool for creating mashups without writing any code. Dan Fernandez, lead product manager in Microsoft's developer division, wants Popfly to reach what he calls "the MySpace generation" who want cutting edge web gadgets without cutting edge coding. "We …
Mary Branscombe, 22 May 2007
silverlight

Programming for Silverlight: a Q&A with Microsoft

Depending on who you talk to at Microsoft, Silverlight is a way to design good-looking interfaces with Ajax, a way to stream your content or – in version 1.1 - a new programming model for developing cross-platform rich internet applications with real languages. According to Keith Smith, Keith Smith, Microsoft Product Manager, …
Mary Branscombe, 11 May 2007
The Register breaking news

IBM and Higgins

Although IBM was one of the original backers when the Higgins identity project started up last year, the company is only now contributing its first code, something it’s been working on since early 2000. The first technology is an ‘identity mixer’ that will let users pick and choose what information to disclose about themselves …
Mary Branscombe, 09 Apr 2007
The Register breaking news

Naming some identity standards

Confused about how the emerging identity standards and systems fit together and which to work with? You're not alone. There's a lot of talk – and quite a few demos – of interoperable identity systems, but how do you know how well they really fit together? That's what the ITU focus group on identity management (FG IdM) was set …
Mary Branscombe, 29 Mar 2007
The Register breaking news

Adobe edits the development cycle

For years the Adobe Photoshop team has been trying to get away from the traditional death march to a more agile development style. For its CS3 release, it made the jump, with the help of VP Dave Story. The result? More weekends off, and a third fewer bugs to fix. Mary Branscombe quizzed co-architect Russell Williams on how they …
Mary Branscombe, 08 Mar 2007
Identity

Identity brings Microsoft and Internet 2.0 together

Microsoft isn't the only one taking an interest in Open ID. AOL, Yahoo! and Digg have all announced they'll accept Open ID credentials as a way of identifying users online. But for Microsoft this is more than just a technology partnership. It could be the first real step towards creating the multi-platform, multi-system …
Mary Branscombe, 01 Mar 2007
The Register breaking news

Put the button on your users

The commuter sitting across from you with one hand in his pocket and an intent look on his face is probably just fiddling with a mobile phone or media player. If he’s fiddling with his pocket itself or the sleeve of his jacket, either you should move away – or he could be trying out Eleksen’s new reference design for fabric …
Mary Branscombe, 27 Jan 2007
The Register breaking news

Mark Anders on Flash development

Along with Scott Guthrie, Mark Anders was one of the fathers of ASP.NET. Then he led the Flex Builder team at Macromedia. Now at Adobe, he’s in charge of making Flash a development platform for rich Internet applications. Mary Branscombe caught up with him after the Flash on the Beach conference and asked about Eclipse, how …
Mary Branscombe, 15 Dec 2006
cloud

Mistakes in identity

No system works perfectly all the time, but for something as fundamental as being able to prove who you are and get access to what you’re supposed to be able to do, we need to set things up so there’s a fall-back plan. Breaking your identity up into pieces is good for security as long as we have audit trails and procedures for …
Mary Branscombe, 15 Sep 2006
The Register breaking news

Unmasking Novell's identity plans

Identity systems such as Higgins and InfoCard give us new ways of storing and exchanging information about users; good news for users and developers. The other half of the picture is managing and auditing those identities and the roles they correspond to, so you can use identities for role-based access control; the features …
Mary Branscombe, 17 Jul 2006
channel

Secure identity begins at home

If your digital identity is going to mean anything, it has to be secured, and Shelagh Callahan of Intel's Systems Technology Lab thinks that has to start on your PC. She compares the state of identity today to early car designs, each with a different way of starting the engine; today every car has a key and you just have to find …
Mary Branscombe, 23 Jun 2006
The Register breaking news

Hacking your vacuum cleaner

What's the difference between a dishwasher and a robot that washes dishes? Pay enough for your dishwasher and it will use fuzzy logic to decide how much water to use given the number of plates you put in. iRobot CEO Colin Angle agrees that's robotic technology, but he wants more. Our artist's impression of how the hacked …
Mary Branscombe, 16 Jun 2006
globalisation

Getting on the right side of IE 7 security

As Internet Explorer tries to get serious on security, you have to find out how to make sure you don't look like one of the bad guys. When it comes to security, things are rarely black and white: my handy IM Web client is your potential security hole. The issue is, who is in control: you as the site developer; or the user who …
Mary Branscombe, 06 Jun 2006
The Register breaking news

Getting your site sorted for IE 7

After five years of tweaking the hacks that make your site look the way it's supposed to in IE 6, the CSS changes in Internet Explorer 7 are probably going to cause you some more pain. Fixing bugs doesn't usually cause complaints, but the CSS bug fixes in IE 7 change behaviours web coders have come to rely on. Workarounds like …
Mary Branscombe, 02 Jun 2006
channel

Whatever happened to PGP?

PGP is often thought of as an encryption system, but your private key is a digital signature that can prove who your message comes from, as well as showing that it hasn’t been tampered with. The reason a Public Key Infrastructure doesn’t look like a widespread identity system is that it needs a web of trust; if somebody you …
Mary Branscombe, 21 May 2006
The Register breaking news

Higgins: an API for identity

Identity is an essential enabler for eCommerce; unfortunately, it's currently a bit of a mess. However, there is hope... Like Microsoft’s InfoCard and Kim Cameron’s vision of an identity metasystem, the open source Higgins identity project aims to move us away from the current hotchpotch of identity systems. InfoCard …
Mary Branscombe, 12 Apr 2006
The Register breaking news

Implementing InfoCard and the identity metasystem

InfoCard is more than the replacement for Microsoft's Passport; in some ways it’s the antidote. Identity architect Kim Cameron (read his paper on The Laws of Identity here) joined Microsoft when it bought the metadirectory he developed at Zoomit to turn into Active Directory, and stayed because he thought Microsoft was the best …
Mary Branscombe, 28 Mar 2006