A List of the Simple Network Time Protocol Time Servers That Are Available on the Internet
This is a KB article from Microsoft with a list of first and second level time servers. I synch with University of Delaware time servers because they are geographically desirable and only a few network hops away. They also have cool names after cartoon characters (huey, dewey, louie).
NIST has information on the NTP Protocol and setting your system clock, including instructions for all major OS's.
This is a great tool to use when your debugging an infection on friend and family computers. Its free and it does a good job.
After you get things sorted out, I recommend they license the SOHO or Pro versions.
Mac Mini FireWire Hard Drive Performance
I am amused at how many people are still fawning over the Mac Mini. It lacks memory, has a 5400 rpm drive and limited expansion capability. I can put together an x86 system for the same money as an upgraded Mini that will have greater disk capacity and performance.
This is a good article on how to upgrade the Mini using an external Firewire drive and the benchmarks that show a 75% performance improvement. Nice job.
This is a list of all the offical Sun Bloggers with links (and RSS feeds) to their sites.
I currently subscribe to Tim Bray and Jonathan Schwartz's blogs and wonder who else I will find now.
Microsoft Outlook: Outlook.exe won't exit
I have noticed that the OUTLOOK.EXE process seems to hang around long after you close the application.
Wonder no more! This page lists a bunch of applications that 'conflict' with OUTLOOK and cause it to hang, or at least increase the amount of time it takes the process to exit cleanly.
Designing a Course in Linux System Administration | Linux Journal
Interesting Linux System Admin course from Transylvania University (KY, not Europe!).
Windows Server 2003 adprep /forestprep Command Causes Mangled Attributes in Windows 2000 Forests That Contain Exchange 2000 Servers
One of our engineers uncovered this gem doing R&D for an in-place upgrade of a Windows 2000 AD Forest that contains Exchange 2000.
This KB article documents how to prevent 'mangled' Exchange 2000 AD objects and how to repair them if you perform an upgrade without renaming the attributes first. I prefer to avoid the term 'unmangle' even though it sounds cool.
Download details: Ultrasound - Monitoring and Troubleshooting Tool for File Replication Service (FRS)
Updated release of Ultrasound. Very cool tool for monitoring File Replication under AD.
Download details: Beta 2 Reviewers Guide for Microsoft Services for Network File System in Windows Server 2003 R2
Lots of UNIX services and integration built into Windows 2003 R2 (due this summer).
Download details: Upgrading Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003 in a Medium-Sized Organization
Very good overview of Exchange 2003 upgrade options.
LinksysInfo - The No. 1 In Linksys Support and WRT54G Firmware - HOW TO: Add WPA2 Support to Windows XP
Overview of how to add WPA2 wireless authentication to a Linksys WRT54G/GS router and Windows XP client.
The WRT54G release is beta, but the Windows XP WPA2 support was released last month.
Windows Server 2003 R2 Beta 2
This release offers some very slick services, including native SSO (with associated daemon for Sun, AIX, Linux and other *NIX systems) support.
EarthLink IPv6 in the Home
This is a pretty neat article published by Earthlink. They even include configuration and firmware update information for a Linksys WRT54G to support IPv6.
The WRT54G is the coolest 802.11a/b/g bit of hardware around and there are tons of firmware updates and configuration tips available to make it do *amazing* things. If you want to learn about routing, security and wireless, get a WRT54G. My fave firmware update is from Sveasoft, if only because the author has stirred up so much controversy over open source software, GPL licensing and the free market.
This is an overview of the IIFP release. The article details the components and functionality.
Be sure to apply the IIFP hotfix if your testing.
This is very, very slick. MIIS 2003 is an expensive proposition for most clients, even if they need the synchronization capabilities.
Update for Identity Integration Feature Pack 1a (KB884192)
Below is a good overview of how to lab IIFP.
GAL Sync with the Identity Integration Feature Pack (IIFP)
Post from MSDN Blogs for future reference. I'm impressed that with SP1, Virtual Server 2005 supports Linux instances.
10. When you create Virtual PCs, keep an eye on the size of your VHD file! It will automatically grow as you install new stuff on the Virtual PC, but will never shrink. Compress when the size of the VHD is significantly larger than the usage reported in the Virtual PC. To compress effectively, (1) defrag the disk in the Guest OS, (2) replace the spare space on the disk with binary zeros (using a third party tool such as cleanspace) and (3) run the compact hard disk wizard. Always remember to backup your original VHD before doing this!
9. Although Virtual PC additions is not supported for Linux images, you can replicate some of the functionality. You can use Windows SFU (Services for Unix) or SAMBA to cross mount NFS/SMB drives between the Host and Guest OS. To add time synchronization support for the Linux image, set the Host PC up as an NTP server (automatic in Win Server 2003 - registry switch in Win XP) and use virtual networking to sync using NTP. Remember to open up the NTP port on the Firewall of the Host OS beforehand!
8. On all your Virtual PC images, mount C:\ (on the guest) to Z:\ (on the host) by default. This will give you easy access to files on the host when needed (e.g. Z:\Temp, Z:\Windows). This shared folder functionality was shaky with earlier versions of VPC, but has been rock solid for me since SP1.
7. Use the Junction tool from sysinternals.com to create a junction called C:\Desktop on the Host operating system. Point this to your desktop (e.g. C:\Desktop -> C:\Documents and Settings\sguest\Desktop). In conjunction with Tip #8, you now have a very easy way of accessing the Host desktop (Z:\Desktop) from your guest OS. Same for Music, Photos and other folders that you may have setup.
6. Check out the command line options for "Virtual PC.exe" by running "Virtual PC.exe -help". You can start, pause, resume, resize and change other image settings from the command line. This is handy when creating demo scripts that use multiple images - or starting and stopping a Virtual PC when you are away from the machine.
5. A dual monitor configuration makes an ideal setup for having your normal desktop on one screen and a running Virtual PC image running on the other. Be aware though that you can't run the Virtual PC image full screen in this configuration - it will have to be windowed. (Virtual PC will come out of full screen mode as you use your Host desktop).
4. Confused about whether to use Virtual PC 2004 or Virtual Server 2005? If you want advanced scripting, VPC monitoring/administration or are looking for server consolidation, Virtual Server is for you. If you can't live without drag-and-drop and sound support for your Guest OS, you'll want to stick with Virtual PC 2004.
3. When you are creating Virtual PC's, try to consolidate by function - not by product. This will help you maintain the number of Virtual PCs you run. For example, if you want to play around with the Beta of Visual Studio 2005, try to create an "DEV" or "PROTOTYPE" image as opposed to a "VS2005" image. This will help you control the number of VPCs you run.
2. When setting up your Virtual PC's, start with 256Mb and then increase as necessary. If you are running a J2EE application server (e.g. WebSphere or WebLogic) I would recommend 784Mb. Also try and have your VHDs reside on a disk other than your system drive. This separation will help I/O throughput to the Guest OS - that, together with lack of physical RAM, tends to be the main reason for poor performance.
1. Get your images networked! I recommend two networking cards on each Virtual PC image - one bound to your main adapter, the other bound to a loop back adapter. You can configure this through the settings dialog when the VPC is shutdown. The first one should be used for connecting to the Internet - and will probably obtain it's IP address through DHCP. Create a private class C IP network for the second (e.g. 192.168.0.x) - bind them all to a loop back adapter installed on the Host OS - and create a common c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file for each image. Don't forget to enable the ports on the Windows Firewall (the Advanced settings of the loop back adapter) to allow access to applications that you are sharing!
Chapter 9: Synchronizing Multiple Exchange Forests
Good overview on using MIIS 2003 to synch Exchange across multiple forests.
Its time for me to decide what I want to do regarding home wireless.
I just switched from Comcast to Verizon DSL now that its offered in my neighborhood. My DSL router comes with built-in wireless support. Its pretty good, but the DHCP functionality is brain dead, so I'm using Win2003 for DHCP.
Now that I have built-in wireless, what do I do with my WRT54G?
Dhcpexim.exe: DHCP Database Export Import Tool
Very useful tool for exporting DHCP database and server configuration. We use this for discovery or migrating a DHCP server.
Download details: Windows Server 2003 Access-based Enumeration
Windows Server 2003 Access-based Enumeration makes visible only those files or folders that the user has the rights to access. When Access-based Enumeration is enabled, Windows will not display files or folders that the user does not have the rights to access. This download provides a GUI and a CLI that enables this feature.
This is an awesome update. Windows system administrators have been looking for a tool like this since Windows Server was first released. I don't know why Microsoft didn't 'advertise' this update more. I stumbled across this on Bink's site this morning.
Optimizing Storage for Exchange 2003
Very good article that covers just about every consideration for server disk sizing and performance design.
SANS - Internet Storm Center
Excellent summary about DNS poisoning threats. Comcast had a wide spread (system wide) DNS failure over the last 24 hours. I know users in NJ, PA (Pittsburgh) and AZ were impacted.
Just another reason to run your own DNS server (and secure it).
DNS Poisoning Update -this includes security updates from
Learning to Use Regular Expressions
Not sure where .cx is, but this is a good starting point to learn regular expressions.
The bibliography is a bit dated (late 90's), but regular expressions have been around since (at least) the 80's.
O'Reilly has several good, if not definitive, books that cover regular expressions.
Microsoft Office Assistance: Using the Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders Backup tool
This is an overview of how to use the Personal Folders backup tool.
I like to configure my desktop and laptop to save all data to a folder (oddly enough) named Data (e.g. D:\Data), including my Outlook PST or OST data files. This way, I can backup a single folder (which is very large...) and have all my data in one place.
I typically put my Data folder on a non-system partition, so if I really hose my system disk and have to restore the system, none of my data is touched during the restore.
This link includes the Personal Folders Backup Tool.
a million monkeys typing D*I*Y Planner 2.0 Released
This is an update of Doug Johnston's planner pages. Thanks Doug!
Awesome job. The 2.0 release is a complete planning solution that incorporates Franklin/Covey, GTD and other planning systems.
My suggestion is to print out the entire system, carry it around for a week or so, see what is useful and incorporate them into a system that works for you.
As with the last package, version 2.0 is released under a Creative Commons license, which means that it is free for personal and non-commercial use.
Visio Cafe is a collection of Visio templates from hardware vendors (HP, IBM, Emcor) and individuals (Bruce Pullig's Sun server and storage templates, Jean Dion's StorageTek and IBM servers).
Looks like pretty good stuff if you take the time publish professional Visio documents.
Benjamin Edelman - Home
Benjamin Edelman is a pretty high powered guy. He's a PhD candidate in Economics at Harvard and a student at Harvard Law School.
If you wonder what he does with his free time, this is it. He publishes some very well researched articles on spyware, internet advertising and the creepy, semi-legal issues involved with both.
Very good stuff, the most recent published this month regarding eXact Advertising who seem to have lots of A-List clients such as Thrifty (rental cars), Netflicks, Circuit City and others.
Ubuntu - About Ubuntu
This is an effort on a "user and usability distribution" of Linux.
Its getting a lot of praise from users and its probably worthwhile looking at for a Linux Desktop at home.
Microsoft Word MVP FAQ Site
The format of this site is a little strange, but the content looks very good.
Everything you wanted to know about Word, including things you didn't know enough to ask.
HBS Working Knowledge: The Leadership Workshop: Tips for Mastering E-mail Overload
Very good article with recommendations on how to handle large volumes of mail.
I think the best part of the article are the examples of good and bad subject lines and how to structure more effective e-mail messages (replies, tasking, etc).
Radio Time: What Is Radio Time?
Radio Time looks like an interesting product. Like TiVo for radio.
I'm testing and will look at TV and FM tuners that work with RadioTime. These include Happauge, D-Link and Griffin products.
Microsoft Preps for the 64-Bit Wave
This is a good overview of 64-bit operating system and application software from Microsoft.
Support from hardware manufacturers as well as Microsoft is begining to converge. Also, we are seeing many customers starting to show interest in Windows 64 bit computing as an alternate to UNIX servers.
The Myth of MythTV
I'm pondering MythTV as a future replacement for our DirecTivo. I'm concerned about the future of TiVo, but its a very nice system and creating as refined and well designed a system with either MythTV or Windows XP Media Center.
KnoppMyth — MythTV that can run from a CD — didn't run because it didn't recognize the Linksys card in the computer. So then we spent the usual comical four hours trying to get to it to recognize the spare hard drive I'd installed. Ironically, the HD came out of our Tivo when I'd upgraded it. There's something funky about how Tivo formats its drives, though. Plus it helps if you notice in the KnoppMyth documentation where it says that the HD has to be the first drive in the system.
We (by which I mean Greg) then got the MythTV installed on the HD and booted the machine. We got a lovely graphical UI, but no TV. That's ok. We expected to have to spend another few hours poking around; the problem seems to be that mySQL isn't starting up properly.
But then I had an enormous D'oh Moment.
MythTV requires you to put a card into your machine that handles the video in and out. I installed a standard Hauppauge 250, so that shouldn't be a problem. ("Shouldn't be a problem" in linux-talk means that it requires only one Linux Day to get up and running, where a Linux Day equals 8 hours of hacking by someone who knows linux inside out (Greg), 12 hours of "helpful suggestions" from a Windows user, and two pizzas.) No, the D'oh Moment came when I realized that MythTV is TiVo for the bottom 125 channels that come through your cable and only if all those channels are unencoded. Our cable TV provider, RCN, starts the premimum channels at 165, and they're all encoded.
TiVo gets around this in a kludgy way by having you stick some IR-emitting plastic thingies in front of the IR receiver in your cable box. So, when TV wants to record the new episode of The O.C., it changes channels on the cable box by flashing the same IR signals you would have sent manually with the remote. MythTV takes the signal before it goes into your cable box because it has no way of changing channels on your cable box.
So, if we were able to get our MythTV working, we would still need our TiVo to record premium programs, such as The Sopranos and the commercial-free version of Police Academy VI.
An amazing breakthrough
OK, not so amazing. I have had mega problems with the touchpad on my work laptop (HP nc8000).
At seemingly random times, I would drag and drop (move) folders in Outlook, select random blocks of text in IE and Word and generally trash documents and configurations.
I re-visited the configuration for the Synaptics TouchPad (Control Panel - Mouse). I disabled ClickLock, Tap and Drag, and all Pointer Motion. Now it seems to work better. Time will tell.
Another problem I had with previous touchpads is the cursor jumping due to static electricity from my hands.
Download details: Server Performance Advisor
Run this in conjunction with the Performance Monitor Wizard on my main server.
Looking to narrow down performance problems on my main server before I just throw hardware (faster CPU or more RAM).
I also get a mysterious soft disk error on my system partition that I would like to know more about.
Exchange 2003 Troubleshooting and Disaster Recovery
Excellent collection of links for Exchange 2003. In particular, setting up SMTP domains for inbound mail, mailbox recovery and disaster recovery are things every admin needs to understand in detail.
here are the links I referred to during my TechNet presentation last night. I've also included the link the a previous blog entry about hardware failure and recovery. here's the link to the BlogCast on the Recovery storage group also if you want to run through the procedure again...
If there is anything I've missed, feel free to coment, and I'll update the list as I go....
CleanSoftware.org - Free software, no nasties!
What is CleanSoftware.org? Its 'mission statement' is:
CleanSoftware.org is a resource to help Windows users find the best free daily-use software, free from nasties: adware, spyware, harmful/intrusive components, and threats to privacy
I have long used a collection of command line and simple install-free applications. Lots of them are collected here and I hope to add links for packages they have not included, or ones that require installation, but are 'compelling' for my daily use.
Bink.nu | Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) Refresh Released
The refresh was released Feb 16th (happy birthday to me...).
The last software update with the prior release was 1.0.501.
This download release level is 1.0.509.
The Microsoft download site link is here:
The TinyURL is: http://tinyurl.com/3luf4