2006
11.30

Two Months In

My blog has now been running for just over two months.  I’ve been monitoring the stats and I’ve got to say "thank you" to everyone who’s reading.  I’m amazed by how many RSS subscribers there are and by how many document downloads I’ve had over the two months.

I started this thing off as a way something to hang off of my CV/resume (e.g. "Look… I do know this stuff"), to motivate me to learn more and to share what I’ve learned.  Seeing the growth in hits is spurring me on and giving me encouragement to keeps things up.

2006
11.30

Ramsay’s IT Nightmares

I’ve just been watching "Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares" and it brought me back to some conversations I used to have with a former workmate about the show. Myself and my buddy, GB, used to reckon everything that Gordon Ramsay said in his show applied not only to running a successful restaurant but also to a smooth running IT infrastructure and department. Gordon Ramsay stresses 3 things:

  1. Good ingredients that work together;
  2. Good communication and
  3. Keep it simple.

Me and GB reckoned that if you applied all three, then things would run smooth. I ran a Windows infrastructure team. GB ran the helpdesk. Our teams ran smooth as silk. The infrastructure was under complete control and we always knew where each other team was.

Based on my experiences, I can say the same is true for everyone. In fact, a smooth running IT infrastructure seems to be a rare find, in my opinion.

The Ingredients

Anyone who knows me or has read a little of my blog knows that I have a bias towards Microsoft solutions. Why? They work. They also work together. That last word is critical. Together. Way too often I’m in on sites where people have tried to save a few Euros by buying Honest Joe’s system management solution or Danny Boy’s archive. In order to get these solutions to work the staff end up having to re-invent the wheel or jimmy in the solution to their infrastructure. What happens is that they increase complexity, introduce fragility and waste so much effort that any savings they thought they were making have disappeared into the ether.

Before I go any further, I’m not saying you have to always buy a solution from Microsoft. I am saying that if you run a Microsoft network, you might want to adopt solutions that follow best practices from that company. The same goes for implementing solutions for a Sun or Linux network.

When GB and I worked together, we tried to find the best solutions we could. We tested and we hammered salesmen and consultants. We had no problem bringing members from other teams in to make sure that solution X was best for the network. Using the best solutions that we could afford meant that the solutions worked for us and not the other way around which seems way too prevalent.

Find the best ingredients you can afford that work with what you have got. When the ingredients work and work together then your customer will notice the difference.

Good Communication

Everyone in the IT department must communicate and communicate openly. I’ve seen all sorts of scenarios in my time. I’ve seen IT organisations where the departments just flat-out don’t talk to each other. I’ve seen a senior sys admin who refused to share information because he saw himself as sitting on an ivory throne and sharing could "threaten" his position. A polar opposite was a senior admin who didn’t communicate so as to hide his weaknesses and poor decisions. I’ve seen inter-site politics destroy an IT organisation. I’ve seen senior management that did not communicate with their IT department. And I’ve been lucky enough to work in a department where communication was open, clear, proceduralised and facilitated a good working organisation.

Imagine a team of people who go off on a project to implement a reporting solution. A few team members spend months writing this solution. They get Apache web server, programming languages no one has ever heard of, have server all over the place running as "polers", copying data left, right and centre. Then I come along and ask what they’ve been doing. I find out they’re assembling the mother of all reporting engines for SQL 2000 that will run on a web server. Hmm, if only they’d mentioned this to me before. Maybe I could have suggest that they install SQL Reporting Services. All that wasted effort because some people didn’t communicate.

Communication is a 2 way thing too. When I did mention SQL Reporting Services, it was as if I had never spoken. They couldn’t let their bosses know that they’d wasted probably 12 man-months developing a solution that they could have just downloaded from the Internet.

Communication must be clear between management, the teams, the team members and the users. If you cannot work together then you might as well not come into work. There’s loads of ways to communicate; I’m not going to waste bandwidth babbling on about that. But if the communication does not work then the infrastructure does not work. If the infrastructure doesn’t work then your customer doesn’t work. It won’t be long until your "restaurant" closes down.

When management, the staff in the kitchen and the staff on the floor works in unison, there is a better chance that your customer will be happy.

Keep It Simple

It amazes me how IT organisations ignore this one. There is some genetic fault in the human race where we cannot keep our solutions simple. We’ve always got to think short term and find a McGuyver solution. This might solve whatever problem is there now but 2 months down the line, it’s going to kick you in the backside. I’ve lost count of the meetings I’ve been in where other "engineers" start focusing in on the first brainfart that crosses their minds. And then they get angry when I start asking about how this will work if X users are involved or what will it be like during an AD upgrade or in 6 months time. They’re always thinking of now and of the tiny little space that is the problem. The big picture is always ignored.

Something I’ve learned over the years is to keep it simple. Way too many organisations introduce unnecessary complexity. Complexity introduces fire fighting. Fire fighting means there is downtime. Downtime means the business (your customer) is losing money.

If what you provide to your customer is simple, elegant and not complex, then you know that you can provide a timely, efficient, cost sensitive solution that will make your customer happy

The Customer

No restaurant can exist without customers. The same goes for IT. If the IT department is not getting the job done, changes will be made and you might not like what happens then. Use the best ingredients you can. Communicate with each other and the customer so that everyone can do the best they can and meet on a common ground. Keep what you are doing simple. Making things complex delays your solutions and makes them prone to be faulty.

Above all else Gordon Ramsay probably hates unsafe food going out to his customers. The same should hold through for an IT department. Use best practices for everything you do. Don’t fall into the trap that I see way too often. In this business arrogance is one of the most common traits. Everyone thinks they know best. Do your research and find out what is the best way to do things. Don’t rely on old knowledge or do what you’ve always done before.  Those who don’t learn from hsitory are damned to repeat it’s mistakes.

I’m not saying all of this is easy.  Far from it.  I’ve been looking for this sort of chemistry since GB and I worked together and haven’t come close to finding it.

Maybe a few of these tips will help you avoid your own personal IT nightmare.

2006
11.30

I’m in Print!

If you turn to page 42 on this month’s issue of Windows IT Pro, you’ll find yours truly quoted in print.  A while back, one of the guys from there, Jason Bovberg, started a thread on MR&D to do some research for this issue of the magazine.  He asked about our experiences in the industry, how we see work and home life interacting and about our perception of the IT community.  Myself and a number of other MR&D members were quoted.

2006
11.30
The launch for Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 will be next Tuesday in Croke Park.  Big gustomers and probably large partners have been invited to the event during the day.  The rest of us plebs had the chance to reserve places at the 2 * 1.5 hour evening events (details here).  The last I heard, the 17:30/18:00 session was booked out.
 
I just got a mail today from the even organisers who have promised a license of Windows Vista Home Premium for every attendee.  You’ll have to download the media.
2006
11.30

Minasi Group Meeting

Members of the MR&D Forum will be meeting up for our second annual meeting in May 2007 in Virginia Beach.  The first event which was held earlier this year was a huge success.  We learned loads from each other, got to know each other a bit better and consumed lots of fine food and alcohol. 
 
The 2007 even will officially kick off on May 3rd but we’re likely to have a big kick-off dinner again on the night before.  Some of us are flying in early.  There’s going to be a bigger gathering next year and it looks likely that a larger contingent will be heading over from Europe.
 
Based on conversations so far, we’ve got an interesting itinerary lined up.  Mark Minasi will likely have loads of Vista and Longhorn information for us.  Rhonda Layfield has done loads on Windows 2003 R2 (her chapters in the R2 book are excellent), is currently doing some stuff on WAIK and maybe we can get her to do an updated version of her Netmon session for V3.  Nathan Winters will likely bring us up to speed on the cool stuff in Exchange 2007.  Curt Spanburgh is a sure bet to discuss MS Dynamics, something I know next to nothing about.  We’ve also got one confirmed special guest and my fingers are crossed for the second one.  Last year, Todd Lammle scared the $&!£ out of us with his presentation on IPv6.  This was a great chance to learn from people who are MVP’s, authors, world-renowned experts and at the cutting edge in terms of design and best practices.
 
It’s not just a geek fest though.  We had as good a time after the sessions in the bars and out at Mark and Rhonda’s house.  Rhonda really spoiled us rotten!
 
Attendance fees will cover the costs holding the event and the evenings entertainment and transport.  The only other costs are getting there and staying in the hotel (on the beach!).
 
A special thanks has to be given to James Summerlin for organising the entire event.
2006
11.30

Network Monitor 3.0

Credit goes to Paul Williams for this one.
 
Microsoft has released version 3.0 of Network Monitor.  They’ve chosen to maintain the distribution of the free product on Connect because they like the feedback they’ve been getting.  I haven’t had a look at it yet (there are way too many new MS products to keep up) but here’s what I’ve read:
 
  • Network Monitor is no longer part of the new SMS (Configuration Manager 2007).  Netmon 3 will therefor be fully featured unlike the previous free versions, e.g. there will be a promiscuous mode.
  • A new user interface.  Filtering is supposed to be easier to do than before (it was messy!).
  • "Near" real-time capture and display.
  • The ability to capture traffic from multiple NIC’s at one time.
  • You can identify and track network "conversations".
  • Support for W2003/Vista/XP on x32 and x64.

The Netmon tea claim it is a whole new product that took 2 years to complete.  They’ve launched a blog.    There is a Netmon 3 FAQ on the Connect site.

2006
11.30
I just started reading a little about Powershell syntax yesterday.  It’s different, especially for someone like me who grew up with PASCAL, COBOL, C, C++ and lately has been using VBS.  Anyone who’s been doing VBS scripting will know that a "simple" task can require lots of code to create the required logic.  Powershell aims to solve this.  Here’s some sources on Powershell
 
  • TechNet Magazine did a nice little introduction in this month’s issue.  There’s no excuse not to read this free publication.
  • MS have a bunch of webcasts that you can view.
  • The Microsoft TechNet ScriptCenter has a repository of Powershell scripts.  I regularly hit their VBS repository for sample code to tweak to my needs.  These guys also have their own homepage for Powershell.
  • A documentation pack for Powershell 1.0 is available.
  • The Powershell team is running a blog.
  • The MR&D Forum has a dedicated section on Powershell.
  • SAPIEN Technologies has started their own Powershell blog.

You may be one of those admins who reckons they don’t need to know anything other than batch scripting.  But what will happen when you need to make changes to X number of Active Directory objects?  What will you do when you need to do file manipulation that can’t be done from normal command line options?  Powershell will be implemented with new MS Infrastructure solutions, further opening up the power of scripting.  Exchange 2007 will enable Powershell scripts to dig deep, e.g. a mail store can be opened just like a file system folder!

2006
11.29

The PC I use at home for my lab work runs Windows XP x64.  I went 64 bit so I could run x64 VM’s in WMware.  This was done so I could run Exchange 2007 and any other x64 software that comes out.  I’ve been wanting to upgrade to Vista since it went RTM and finally found some time last night.  I burned a DVD and set about doing an upgrade.

I never thought it would be smooth, mainly because driver support from 3rd parties has been slow.  But I didn’t expect to fall at the first hurdle.  Windows XP 64 cannot be upgraded to Windows Vista.  The installer had greyed out the option.  I googled around but couldn’t find any direct MS content.  Betanews did have an article.

One thing I noticed was that the upgrade was only available to XP with SP2.  Hmm.  Windows XP x64 is integrates "SP1" which is actually very like, if not, identical to XP x32 SP2.  It has the firewall, the security centre, the whole kit and kaboodle.  I then had a brain fart.  What if I installed the release candidate for SP2 for Windows 2003/XP x64 and then tried to do an upgrade.

I ran the installler for SP2 tonight.  It installed with no problems … so far.  Windows Live Messenger automatically repaired itself when I logged in and it auto started.  I then tried the Vista x64 upgrade.  Unfortunately, it still requires a clean installation.

That’ll be a pain in the butt.  I’ll have to reinstall all of my software and reactivate Office.

2006
11.29

Delete Old Files

I’ve been working with Brightstor 11.5 SP2 Disk Staging Option lately.  We’ve configured it to purge old staging data according to a policy.  Unforunately, we’ve found that it only automatically purges data if the associated backup ran perfectly.  Of course, being a CA product, this is a rare event.  Hence our disk fills up with unwanted data and prevents future backups when the disk fills.
 
My solution is to purge old data using a script.  I found something very similar to what I wanted on Tek-Tips by a poster called "monsterjta".  After a little tweaking, I had what I wanted:
 
Option Explicit
on error resume next
    Dim oFSO
    Dim sDirectoryPath
    Dim oFolder
    Dim oFileCollection
    Dim oFile
    Dim iDaysOld
    Dim CurDir
 
‘Definitions
    Set oFSO = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
    sDirectoryPath = CreateObject("WScript.Shell").CurrentDirectory
 
‘Set the age (in days) for files to be deleted in E:D2DFulls
    iDaysOld = 6
    sDirectoryPath = "E:D2DFulls"
    set oFolder = oFSO.GetFolder(sDirectoryPath)
    set oFileCollection = oFolder.Files
    DelOldFiles oFileCollection, iDaysOld
 
‘Set the age (in days) for files to be deleted in E:D2DDiffs
    iDaysOld = 5
    sDirectoryPath = "E:D2DDiffs"
    set oFolder = oFSO.GetFolder(sDirectoryPath)
    set oFileCollection = oFolder.Files
    DelOldFiles oFileCollection, iDaysOld
Function DelOldFiles (oFileCollection, iDaysOld)
‘Walk through each file in this folder collection.
    For each oFile in oFileCollection
        If oFile.DateLastModified < (Date() – iDaysOld) and NOT oFile.name = "HEADER.CTF" Then
            oFile.Delete(True)
‘ The following line is commented out.  It can be run for testing.
‘     wscript.echo "This file should be deleted: " & oFile.name
        End If
    Next
End Function
 
This script runs as a scheduled task on the backup server.  The highlighted sections are set up to match the data retention/purge policy in Disk Staging Option.
2006
11.29

Availability

My current contract ends on December 29th and I’ll be available for new contracting roles in January.  Give me a shout on website <at> highwaycsl.com if you’re interested in bringing me in.  You’ll find my CV/resume on my personal website.
 
If you’ve got serious project work to be done that requires a senior engineer, you want to listen to expertise, have a budget and have a plan then give me a shout.
2006
11.29
TechNet Magazine, a free publication, has just released their December 2006 issue.  You can download this as a help file.  This month, it focuses on Exchange 2007:
 
  • Upgrading to Exchange 2007
  • Exchange Management Shell
  • Exchange and Outlook
  • Mobility
  • Journaling
  • Spam and Phishing

The usual other stuff is also covered.

Exchange 2007 is a major improvement in an already excellent product:

  • Each server is role based, i.e. it only has the required components installed.
  • Architecture is much easier.  Finally, MS has realised that they might as well use the physical architecture as provided by AD Sites and Services instead of reinventing the wheel with routing groups and connectors.
  • Unified Messaging integrates fax and voice mail with your inbox.  You can even check your mail over the phone!  Majoe telecoms players are quickly lining up behind UM.

Exchange 2007 will probably RTM in mid December and be generally available in late January or mid February.  MSVL, MSDN and TechNet customers will probably have it within 7 days of RTM.  MS is holding Vista, Office and Exchange launch events around the globe right now so it might be worthwhile checking their Events site for a show near you.  MS Ireland will hold their event on December 5th in Croke Park … the day event is invite only and the night events (2 * 1.5 hours) are open to requests (the early one is already booked out).

2006
11.28

Vista Mobility Tips

Bink just blogged a link to a webpage on MS Technet Blogs.  This entry discusses some handy tips for anyone using Windows Vista on a Tablet PC, and possibly laptops as well.  I have to admit, the most interesting tip in this collection is the one that mentions the new circular "Start" button can cause performance problems on older machines.
2006
11.28

I was having a read of this month’s TechNet Ireland Newletter from Colm Torris (MS Northern Ireland) when I saw a link for controlling power management on Windows XP using Group Policy.  This is something that pops up on the Minasi Forum about twice a year.  The link was for a solution called EZ GPO from Energy Star.  You’ll know Energy Star from the little blue logo often found on Monitors and PC’s.  I actually remember someone mentioning this on MR&D before but I’d never followed up. 

On this page you’ll also find some whitepapers that illustrate how you can save money by saving power.  This sort of thing is worth checking out.  On a past job, we decided to go with more expensive TFT’s over CRT’s not only for space savings but also because over a year, we calculated that they could actually save the company money.
 
EX GPO is a free solution so you can’t argue with that.  You install a service on your PC (you’ll likely want to include it in an image or deploy using something like SMS 2003).  This agent is required because power settings are per user and require administrator access.  You then define group policy using an included GPO ADM template. 
 
You’ll now be able to manage power settings for your desktop and laptop network and save lots of money on power while helping to save the planet.
2006
11.22

The WAIK has been released by Micorosft.  Anyone looking to do network, unattended or WDS (Windows Deployment Services) installations of Windows Vista will need to download this kit.

Unattended installations have changed a lot.  The old unattend.txt has gone by the wayside, to be replaced by unattend.xml.  Vista installations are componnent based and takes places in a number of phases.  This has to be understood and the new XML unattend file can handle it.  Vista installations are also "image" based.  It’s bit level imaging like ghost, more like file imaging.  There’s who new ways to install additional drivers and applications.  You’ve also got Windows PE, a replacement for DOS in the pre-installation phase for preparing your machine and downloading an image from the network.  This appears to be included in WAIK.

Whatever way you intend to deploy Vista, make sure you download this kit.  You will find it’s a tough trawl at first, if it’s anything like the beta release, but it is worth it in the end.

2006
11.20

WDS: More To Come

I’ve been asking around and doing loads of reading today and I’ve decided there’s more I need to do on the WDS document.  I’ve got to spend more time looking at the two unattend answer files that I would use, the 7 phases of Vista installation, adding drivers to BOOT.WIM, INSTALL.WIM and adding drivers for plug and play.  Most of the material will come from WAIK, the Windows Automated Installation Kit.

I’ll hopefully get cracking on the lab work for that this week.

2006
11.19

I’ve just finished typing up a whitepaper on Windows Deployment Services (WDS).  This will replace RIS on Windows 2003 SP2 and will be included instead of RIS in WIndows “Longhorn”.  This guide will serve as a primer to WDS and Windows Vista deployment via one of Microsoft’s recommended mechanisms.

Since Windows 2000 Server, we have had a technology available to us from Microsoft to quickly, and with little effort, build machines via the network. This technology was called Remote Installation Services or RIS. Few have ever heard of RIS. For most, it’s one of those subjects that only comes up in a few MCP exam questions. However, a few of us found this technology to be very useful.

What was RIS? RIS mixes the unattended setup, with network installations via a PXE boot up. Most of us will know PXE as that annoying prompt asking you to press <F12> to boot from the network. If you have RIS set up, you can press <F12>, log into a client, select an “image” (which is really an I386 folder associate with an unattended answer script) and walk away knowing that your PC would be built and added to your domain without any further effort on your part. Added to that, using an extension of RIS called RIPREP, you could actually deploy images of PC’s that included applications in them.

This sounds a bit like Ghost? Slightly, but it is different. Ghost is a bit level cloning tool. It also requires licensing for every machine that you build … something many organisations choose to ignore, I’m fairly sure. It also requires that you be careful with SID duplication so you have to make use of tools such as SYSPREP. Plain RIS images are really nothing more than a copy of the I386 folder from the Operating System CD, maybe some drivers added, and one or maybe a set of answer files for performing an automated or completely unattended setup. It’s not a clone at all; it’s a traditional setup. How doe RIS and Ghost compare? Ghost is quicker for deploying operating systems but it does cost money to use legally. RIS is free to use but does take slightly longer to deploy the operating system. An added advantage of RIS is that its close integration into Windows and Active Directory allow you to join the computer to the domain, choose the OU where the computer account should be placed and use customisable computer naming standard using Active Directory as your database.

Windows 2003 Service Pack 2 brings about a change for RIS users. Due to the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft is replacing RIS with Windows Deployment Services. WDS will provide legacy support for RIS (it upgrades cleanly) but it will also provide support for WinPE deployments of Vista’s Windows Imaging (WIM) file format via PXE deployments. WDS will also be a part of Windows “Longhorn” Server.

With this document, I hope to describe some of the fundamentals of WDS as included with Windows 2003 Service Pack 2.

Note: This document is based on the Beta Refresh of Windows 2003 Service Pack 2.

The document continues …

2006
11.17
Bink has privided a link to Microsoft’s newly released set of guides for Administrators who are new to Windows Vista.  The guides included are:
 
  • Deploying Vista Step by Step Guide
  • Managing Group Policy ADMX Files Step by Step Guide
  • Managing Roaming User Data Deployment Guide
  • Netsh Commands for Wired Local Area Network
  • Performance Monitoring and Tuning Step by Step Guide
  • Print Management Step by Step Guide
  • Step by Step Guide to Controlling Device Installation and Usage with Group Policy
  • Step by Step Guide to Device Driver Signing and Staging
  • Step-by-Step Guide to Managing Multiple Local Group Policy
  • User Account Control Step by Step Guide
  • Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption Step-by-Step Guide
  • Windows Vista Beta 2 Migration Step by Step Guide
  • Windows Vista Beta 2 Trusted Platform Module Services Step by Step Guide
  • Windows Vista Multilingual User Interface Step by Step Guide
  • Windows Vista Speech Recognition Step by Step
  • Windows Vista Windows Meeting Space Step by Step Guide
  • Winlogon Notification Packages Removed Impact on Windows Vista Planning and Deployment
I seriously need to sit down for a whiel and get to read a lot of this stuff.  I’m half beginning to hope that I don’t get a new contract immediately in January so I do get to catch up.  These guides will do in the interim while waiting for Mark Minasi’s two Vista books.
2006
11.17
Credit goes to Paul Williams (Active Directory MVP and serious whiz) for the heads up on this one.  Over the last 3 days we’ve seen Windows Vista become available on MSVL and MSDN.  This morning, both the x64 and x86 editions appeared for download on TechNet.
 
I guess I’ll have to break my PC this weekend :-) … assuming it downloads in time.  The downloads are DVD ISO images.  The X86 edition is 2555MB and the x64 edition is 3621MB.  The TechNet download includes several versions of the OS:
 
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Business N
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Home Basic N
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Ultimate

The license key you input during the installation determines which version is installed.  Neither of the N version keys are available at the moment.  I doubt anyone outside of the EU offices in Brussels will give a $&!% about that.

2006
11.16

Want to Learn Powershell?

Microsoft launched their new scripting language, Powershell this week.  The Minasi MR&D forum added a new section specifically for Powershell.  Considering some of the command line commandos who hang out there, it’ll be a good place to learn and share ideas about this new platform.

Powershell is going to be for Windows what Bourne, Korn and C have been for UNIX for 30+ years.  Already, the 2007 range of products are already featuring it to enable administrators to script complex tasks.

There release of Powershell for Vista isn’t until the end of January.  One of the MS guys gave a good explanation for this on the MR&D forum today.

The Powershell team has also got a blog running.

2006
11.16

This one got past me but Windows IT Pro highlighted it.  Last week, MS launched the Windows Vista Secuirty Guide.  In it’s words:

This guide provides instructions and recommendations to help strengthen the security of desktop and laptop computers running Windows Vista™ in a domain with the Active Directory® directory service.

In addition to the solutions that the Windows Vista Security Guide prescribes, the guide includes tools, step-by-step procedures, recommendations, and processes that significantly streamline the deployment process. Not only does the guide provide you with effective security setting guidance, it also provides a reproducible method that you can use to apply the guidance to both test and production environments.

2006
11.16

Microsoft shipped Windows Sharepoint Services 3.0 today.  There’s an X86 and an x64 edition.  I’m a fan of Sharepoint.  I really think an organisation can change the way shared storage is provisioned and can take the concept to a nother level.  Storage becomes a shared workspace where dynamic teams can work together independant of the involvement of IT.  The platform can be customised to their needs and becomes an interactive web application that is very simple to maintain and develop.  This technology is slowly gathering momentum.  It appears to have taken hold abroad but has been slow to garner attention here in Ireland, unfortunately.

The FAQ states that the following are new features in WSS 3.0:

  • Improvements to collaboration workspaces: SharePoint sites now offer e-mail and directory integration, alerts, RSS publishing, templates for building blogs (also known as weblogs) and wikis (Web sites that can be quickly edited by team members—no special technical knowledge required), event and task tracking, improved usability, enhanced site navigation, and more.
  • Enhancements to content storage: SharePoint lists and libraries now provide per-item security for better data control and integrity, a recycle bin, and enhanced flexibility for storing more types of content. Row and column capacity has also been increased, as has retrieval speed. Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 can be easily integrated with smart client tools. In particular, close integration with Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 provides offline access to events, contacts, discussions, tasks, and documents.
  • Easier provisioning of workspaces: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 provides more sophisticated and flexible security, as well as greater control over security settings and permissions.
  • A more robust foundation for Web applications: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 provides greater flexibility for customization and development of Web-based services and applications built on the Windows SharePoint Services platform.

For me the key things in there are:

  • RSS: it ties in nicely with IE7 and Outlook 2007.  RSS is a fantasitc way to gather information from disperate locations.
  • Blogging is here to stay.  Having a blog template makes WSS 3.0 more friendly not only to the small business but it can be excellent for internal communications in a corporation.
  • Recycle Bin: WSS 3.0 backup/recovery without the aid of an agent from the likes of Commvault is painful.  Having a recycle bin is excellent.

If you’ve not heard of WSS or seen it in action, I strongly encourage you to check out the MS virtual labs for Sharepoint technologies.  Don’t be scared, you do not need to be a "web slinger" to get great functionality out of this product.

2006
11.16

I’ve seen some people asking about this, even on the day IE7 released.  MS has released Group Policy ADM templates for configuring IE7.

2006
11.16
The weekend full backup finall ran … last night.  We had some weird network connectivity issues every night on the Brightsor server since last Saturday so our full backups kept being interrupted.  The NIC is a 1GB fibre card, a first for me.  The client in question also refuses to intall the server vendor’s server management software on the machines so if you don’t have an alert light or anything in the Windows event logs you are stuffed.  Yesterday, I reduced the number of streams to 8, thinking this may be a factor in the problem.
 
I came in this morning and found the backup had finally run, after failing the previous nights due to the network issue.  Instead of the usual 36 hours, it had completed the Agent-Disk backup in 12.5 hours.  The Disk-Tape copy/migration is running now and will probably take some time but the important thing is that production systems were not impacted during work hours.
2006
11.16

I just received the below in the mail.  Remember to check out my document on W2003/XP x64 SP2.

Windows Serviceability is pleased to announce the release of the Release Candidate (build 2825) of Service Pack 2 for Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition.
This build contains:

Roll up of hotfixes released to date
Roll up of security updates released to date Fixes for bugs reported by Beta customers and other known issues on previous Service Pack 2 builds This build should be used for full deployment purposes, including pre-production testing or general compatibility testing. In order to have a stable test environment we strongly recommend un-installation of any previous SP2 builds from your machines before installing build 2825.

If you previously installed an integrated build of SP2, you cannot upgrade your system to build 2825 with this refresh; you will need to re-install a released version (RTM, SP1, or R2) of Windows Server 2003 before upgrading to build 2825. Go to https://connect.microsoft.com/content/content.aspx?SiteID=98&ContentID=1799 to find an evaluation copy of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1.

Release notes for this build can be found at https://connect.microsoft.com/content/content.aspx?ContentID=3881&SiteID=98.

With SP2, Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions will start supporting 9 new languages: Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian). Russian, and Spanish. With RC, Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition is available in German for the first time.

Additionally, with RC, a MUI servicing package is available, which is specific to 3 components (Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0, Windows Deployment Services and Microsoft File Server Management). This is not a re-release of the Windows Server 2003 MUI Pack. This MUI servicing pack is designed to increase the compatibility between MUI and localized languages for these 3 components. More information about this pack can be found at https://connect.microsoft.com/content/content.aspx?ContentID=3890&SiteID=98.
The list of releases is as follows:
x86:

- Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 ISO image
- SP2 32-bit x86 standalone updates
- SP2 Standalone x86 check build (for debugging)
- Windows Server 2003, Web Editions with SP2 (32-bit x86)
- Windows Server 2003 R2, Standard Editions with SP2 (32-bit x86)
- Windows Server 2003 R2, Enterprise Editions with SP2 (32-bit x86)
- Windows Server 2003 R2, Datacenter Editions with SP2 (32-bit x86)

x64:

- Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 for x64 Editions ISO Image
- SP2 x64 standalone update
- SP2 Itanium Standalone check build (for debugging)
- Windows Server 2003 R2, Standard x64 Edition with SP2
- Windows Server 2003 R2, Enterprise x64 Edition with SP2
- Windows Server 2003 R2, Datacenter x64 Edition with SP2
- Windows XP Professional x64 Edition with SP2

Itanium:

- SP2 Itanium standalone updates
- SP2 Itanium standalone check build (for debugging)
- Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 for Itanium-based Systems ISO image
- Windows Server 2003, Enterprise with SP2 for Itanium-based Systems
- Windows Server 2003, Datacenter with SP2 for Itanium-based Systems

Tools:

- Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 symbols
- MUI Servicing Pack

We encourage you to continue WS03 SP2 Beta testing with this build and provide feedback.

2006
11.15

This full length session discusses how Microsoft sees virtualisation in the market place.

Some highlights:

  • Virtual Server 2005 R2 Service Pack 2 is expected to RTM in Q1 2007.
  • A commitment to release the Windows "Longhorn" Hypervisor within 180 days of WIndows "Longhorn" RTM.
  • The Hypervisor will be around 700KB in size … that’s the entire OS that will run on the physical host!
  • 64bit CPU’s with Intel/AMD virtual technology are required.
  • There will be support for 32bit and 64bit VM’s.
  • VM’s can have up to 8 CPU’s.
  • A VM will be able to have 32GB+ RAM.
  • You can hot-add RAM, CPU, storage and network.
  • You can run more than 64 VM’s on a host, depending on host hardware.
  • An MMC 3.0 snap-in will be used to manage Windows "Longhorn" Hypervisor.
  • A tunable MOM 2005 management pack is on the way for automatically identifying virtualisation candidates.
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