Microsoft 64-bit Application Support (lack-of)

Microsoft’s 64-bit support is still sorely fragmented as we find out with a brand new laptop trying to access Microsoft SharePoint.

The joys of working with Microsoft products!

So I have a brand-new, shiny 17″ HP laptop. 64-bit throughout. 6GB of RAM and comes pre-installed with 64-bit Windows.

You would think, then, that you would want to use 64-bit applications right? Wrong!!

I automatically use the 64-bit version of Internet Explorer to access some Microsoft specific sites (Outlook Web Access and SharePoint 2007). I install and use the 64-bit version of Microsoft Office. Does this work well with SharePoint (from Microsoft)? No!

For starters, you cannot upload an Excel spreadsheet to a SharePoint list like you should be able to. You get an error:

This feature requires Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.0 or later, and Windows 95 or later.

Next you try to switch a list into a “Datasheet” view – which looks a bit like a spreadsheet. Inevitably, you get another error:

The list is displayed in Standard view. It cannot be displayed in Datasheet view for one or more of the following reasons: A datasheet component compatible with Windows SharePoint Services is not installed, your browser does not support ActiveX controls, or support for ActiveX controls is disabled.

To fix these errors, you then have to download and install “2007 Office System Driver: Data Connectivity Components“.

And you have to use the 32-bit version of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9).

Monitoring a Broadband Router

Just been asked this question by an ex-colleague so I thought it would be good to do a write up.

How do I monitor my broadband router?

There are a number of measurements that you can do to see the health of your router.

External Monitoring

Firstly, you can measure whether the outside world can “see” your router. This does mean that you have to allow “pings” from the Internet which does slightly reduce your router security and so this feature is often turned off by default. I use some external services to monitor the availability of both my web sites and my router:

Each of these have both free and paid services. It is that I mainly use to ping my router.

Internal Monitoring

Secondly, you may be able to turn on something called SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) in your router. This is a standard that allows monitoring of all sorts of information regarding servers, routers, etc. You will need to give the router an IP address of a PC within your network that will receive the information.

There are a number of free tools that allow you to monitor SNMP To monitor from within your home network, you can use PRTG or the free version of Kiwi Syslog Server.

SNMP will allow you not only to see that the router is alive but whether it is connected to the outside world (the WAN port), what speed communications it is using, how long since the connection came alive and many other parameters.
The key parameters to measure are:

  • When the WAN connection went up and down
  • What the download speed is
  • The Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR)
  • The Attenuation

If you are having intermittent router problems, these tools will give you the kind of ammunition you need to take to your ISP to encourage them to take you seriously and get the fault resolved.