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The First SMB IT Buyers' Guide: Internet Fax Services

By Oliver Rist
April 27, 2006

Took me a little while to compile this chart, but here 'tis: The first SMB IT Buyers' Guide. Today, boys and girls, we've compiled you a fine summary of Internet Fax Service providers, their features and basic pricing.

There are more fax services out there than the twelve I've managed to summarize here, but I thought these were either the best known or the best suited to the SMB set. Also, I've got a finite attention span for this kind of thing, and figuring out 57 features for 12 products tends to bring out my ADD demons. I kept them at bay with an adventurous dosage of gin, tonic, chocolate chip cookies and background TV, but I've got limits.

Of the 12, the two I liked best are highlighted in green: InterFAX and Venali. Of the two, I rate Venali as somewhat ahead of InterFAX and certainly ahead of the rest of the field.

Venali may not have the desktop client platform breadth of some of the other services (they love Microsoft), but they definitely have the best business feature set of the bunch and an excellent price to boot. Better, where the others tend to top out at the small business level, Venali can take you from small to medium and right on up to enterprise.

An interesting one is the Phone Company's Remote Printing Service. This is basically a collection of open fax servers worldwide that you can use to send a fax from your browser in a pinch. Not something you'd base even a small business' entire fax functionality upon, but an interesting development--and definitely a utility worth knowing about for when the fax gods are angry with you.

I tried to convert this thing into a PDF, but Adobe has always hated me; so download the link below only if you've got Microsoft Excel or something compatible. I'll keep dancing with Acrobat and get that version up as soon as I find someone smarter than me. (Short search, I know.)

Also, anyone has any corrections to this chart, please post in comments and I'll add after verifying.

Download Fax Buyers Guide.xls


Cisco IOS firewall implementation guide.



Multicast Routing

@(#)multicast routing howto 04 AUG 1997 Rob Thomas
How to setup a router to route multicast packets
Multicast is a UDP-based protocol which literally delivers packets from one
host to many. If abused, it can be made to deliver from many hosts to
many hosts to many hosts to many hosts... This is why it's important to
setup multicasting routing on the routers in a sane manner.
1. First, enable the global multicast routing parameter by:
ip multicast-routing
This can be disabled, if you so choose, by doing:
no ip multicast-routing
2. Next, select your style of multicasting. I chose PIM (Protocol-
Independent Multicast) for the following reasons:
- PIM works with all existing multicast routing protocols.
- PIM has two modes (dense & sparse) which gives me some freedom at
configuration time.
You could also choose from IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol,
which is good for large WANs) or DVMRP (Distance Vector Multicast
Routing Protocol, which is slightly unsupported). However, be aware
that Cisco only tacitly supports DVMRP. To use DVMRP with a Cisco
router, you need to point your Cisco to a router that DOES support
DVMRP directly.
Of the two PIM choices, I went with dense mode. Here are the differences:
- Dense mode: When the router receives a multicast packet, the router
sends the packet out of all interfaces except for the interface from
whence the packet originated. If the router discovers that a certain
interface has no multicast recipients, it sends a "prune" message back
to the sender stating that there is no need to send messages to that
- Sparse mode: In sparse mode, it is assumed that no host wants multi-
cast packets unless the host specifically asks for it. So, instead
of the shotgun approach of dense mode, one router becomes the central
hub. This central hub logs all hosts that wish to receive multicast.
Further multicast packets are sent only to those hosts.
Seeing as how we only have two routers, I did not want one router to be
burdened with the list of multicast hosts (especially since practically
ALL of our hosts "want" multicast). Additionally, I did not want to
spend time fudging entries in the multicast recipient list.
So, to configure for PIM dense mode multicast routing:
interface ethernet 0
ip pim dense-mode
interface ethernet 1
ip pim dense-mode
Obviously, all involved routers should be speaking the same lingo. Thus,
routerA is configured the same as routerB.
3. Next, you need to set the multicast threshold. This is the BIG TRICK[tm]
to multicast routing. In a nutshell, every multicast packet has a TTL.
That's basic to all IP. By setting the multicast threshold on a given
router interface, you create a hurdle. If the packet's TTL is higher
than the multicast threshold, the packet may pass. If the packet's TTL
is LOWER than the multicast threshold, the packet is stopped (actually,
it is bounced with an ICMP message, but that's for another "howto" ;-).
This is how one prevents multicast packets from careening out into the
great 'Net. The range for multicast threshold is 0 to 255, with 0
meaning all packets may pass (well, *almost* all) and 255 meaning
virtually no packets may pass. On the routerB router, I set up the
multicast threshold at a comfortable 1 (because this is an internal
router). The multicast threshold on the interface leading to the
Internet on routerA should be set at 255 (if, in fact, multicast is
enabled on the interface at all).
interface ethernet 0
ip multicast-threshold 1
interface ethernet 1
ip multicast-threshold 1
And you're set!
4. It's probably a VERY good idea at this point to save your config. I
choose to save off to tftp (in case my NVRAM gets scrammed), but you
can choose your own danger here. At the least, you should copy your
running-config to your saved config.
router#copy running-config startup-config
Questions/comments/bugs to:
Famous Unix quotes: "You are not expected to understand this."
-- From the original comments in the source code for Version 7's
process scheduling algorithm.
Rob Thomas,


Migration from GroupWise to Exchange

I have just a few users and the only data available is the "cache mode" copy on a laptop.

Search Results Page: "Instructions on exporting mail to a PST file from GroupWise using Outlook."

-Install the GroupWise Client.
-Install the Outlook 2002 Client.
-Load GroupWise Client and login as the user.
-Launch Outlook (this will connect to the GroupWise account that you are currently logged into).
Opening Attachments Blocked by the Microsoft Outlook E-mail Security Update:
"Opening .exe Attachments with the Outlook E-mail Security Update"

Allow the user to use a registry key to open up access to blocked attachments. (Always make a backup before editing the registry.) To use this key: Run Regedit, and go to this key:


(change 10.0 to 9.0 for Outlook 2000 SP3 or to 11.0 for Outlook 2003) Under that key, add a new string value named Level1Remove. For the value for Level1Remove, enter a semicolon-delimited list of file extensions. For example, entering this: .mdb;.urlwould unblock Microsoft Access files and Internet shortcuts. Note that the use of a leading dot was not previously required, however, new security patches may require it. If you are using "mdb;url" format and extensions are blocked, add a dot to each extension. Note also that there is not a space between extensions. If you are using this registry entry, a glance at Help About Microsoft Outlook will show Security Mode: User Controlled above the license information. See OL2002 You Cannot Open Attachments for more information on this registry entry. To force users to save *.zip files to the hard drive before opening, add .zip to the extensions step 3. See How to configure Outlook to block additional attachment file name extensions for more information. If you prefer not to edit the registry directly, you can use one of these tools to make the change; not all support both Outlook 2002 and 2000: