Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wiping my Treo 700w

Just a few short days ago I bought a "new" phone. It was actually a purchase from Craigslist. My contract with Verizon is actually up tomorrow!!! After 10 years of locked in commitment, I'm done (at least until the next really great deal comes along :)

Changing to the new phone was a snap, I just called *228 and chose option 3 from the new phone. It was that easy to switch phones, and it didn't actually involve a real person (are they passing those savings on to us? (I think not.)

So now my Palm Treo 700w is on Craigslist. Of course my info needs to be gone, and that's simple to do as many sites show. I looked it up on the Michigan State Univ. site, so I'll give them the credit.

What's needed is a hard reset:
- Hold down the red power button while pushing in the reset button under the battery case lid. When it begin to reboot, it'll ask if you want to erase all your information. (Should you have an SD card, it will be left in tact.)

As for my choice of phone, I got a VX6800 running Windows Mobile 6.1 and I'm very happy with it; but that'll be another post...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wrong Office 2007 Key

Have you ever used the wrong Office 2007 key and find out you can't activate your installation?

Never fear, Lancelhoff has the answer (and a few others as well), but I thought I'd add myself to the mix.

To change the Office 2007 Product Key:

1. Click Start -> Run
2. Type regedit and click OK
3. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Registration
Under Registration, there is subkey that is like: {91120000-0030-0000-0000-0000000FF1CE}
4. Under Registration, you might find several subkeys that contain a combination of alphanumeric characters. Each key is specific to a program installed on your computer.
Open each subkey to view and identify the Office product version by the ProductName registry entry in the right pane. For example: ProductName=Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007
5. Once you have the subkey that contains the Office product you wish to update the license key for, delete the following registry entries
6. Close regedit
7. Start Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook or another Office application, you should now be prompted to enter a new product key.
8. Enter your new Office product key, and click OK
9. If prompted to choose your preferred type of Microsoft Office 2007 installation, select Install Now
10. Microsoft Office 2007 should now have your new CD key

And in doing this I was successful in activating Office and all was right in the world once more.

UPDATE: Should the install be on a 64-bit system, you can find the keys in question under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Office\version\Registration

And at least with Office 2010, you can go to Programs and Features, highlight the product and click Change, you'll be presented with Enter a Product Key as a choice.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Turn Up IMAP Logging in Exchange 2007

This one took me a little while to find, but there are two ways to modify IMAP logging in Exchange 2007. (BTW, I'm trying to get cross-site connectivity with IMAP to work.)

Open Regedit, go to HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSExchange IMAP\Diagnostics and change the General value to something useful for you: 0 (Lowest), 1 (Low), 3 (Medium), 5 (High), and 7 (Expert).

You can also makes this happen via the EMS by using:
Set-EventLogLevel “MSExchange IMAP4\General” -Level High

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Emergency Patch Today!

A critical flaw in Internet Explorer (some say Exploder) has been found and patched today.

This is a very critical update due to the fact your system can be affected by just visiting a website.

Go to Windows Update and patch your system!

Monday, December 8, 2008

X-Mouse on Vista

Anyone used to using a UNIX-based OS like FreeBSD or Linux is familiar with X-Mouse.

In short, it changes the foreground focus (window, application or desktop) based on wherever the mouse cursor happens to be. This for many, speeds up productivity a bit by saving clicks (about a nano-second each).

To enable this in Vista, go to the Control Panel > Ease of Access Center (or press the Windows key + U). Click the link "Make the mouse easier to use" and choose "Activate a window by hovering over it with the mouse" and then Save.

Once you start moving your cursor around you'll notice the focus will change automatically after a short delay. It's not for everybody, but can be helpful when using multiple monitors. Start saving nano-seconds now :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mark Minasi's News

It there's one tech author I enjoy reading it's Mark Minasi, he has a way of turning dry, stale tech books into something worth reading. Anyway, I digress...

If you head over to his site, you can sign up for his free newsletter. It's not as regular as it could be, but life isn't always on a schedule. All the issues have useful content and there is a full archive. The latest news has a great list showing the benefits of Windows 2008. It is definitely worth subscribing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Vista SP2

There seems to be quite a laundry list of items coming in Vista SP2. This service pack actually covers Windows 2008 as well, in case you missed that news a while back. The advent of Vista SP1 coincided with the release of Windows 2008 in order to once again unify the kernel, ala NT4/W2K.

What's in the update you ask? Check out Mary-Jo Foley's post listing all the goodies.

The stand-alone download for this thing is probably going to be ginormous since it will include the previous service pack, so I'd suggest using Windows Update when it becomes available unless you just can't wait.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fedora 10 Released

ars technica has a great review on the newest release of the Fedora Project, version 10.

I'm downloading it as I type, can't wait to give it a try. Get it here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


No not the Internet service, it's Damn Small Linux. Linux you can run from a thumb drive, even a zip drive and it easily runs from with Windows, no virtual machine needed.

Give it a try and have fun; as always it's Open Source and free.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to Forge

Here's a great site I found through a Digg post. HowtoForge has a truckload of tutorials for the most popular flavors of Linux, even FreeBSD. I use this site to polish my little-used Linux skills and highly recommend it for training or helping with a project. They have screenshots, sources and references plus a fairly healthy forum.

Viva la penguin!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Script Headers

Okay, so you wrote a really cool batch script. Now what information do you put at the top?

After writing many, many batch scripts with really nothing but the filename and modified date as "information" I looked around a bit and put together this from what I saw.

rem **********************************
rem * Desktop System setup script
rem * Author: Thomas Thrush
rem * admin@company.com
rem * Last modified : 17-Nov-2006
rem **********************************

Now this is a pretty simple entry; other entries may include History, Notes, Revision Numbers, etc. Various scripting languages have there own way of commenting out text, but the information still applies.

The point is, put something there for future reference. When a script has to be modified many months down the road, the editor (which might be you) will be glad you did.

Update: It's been a while since this post and I've changed my header to reflect things I've learned...

:: ======================================
:: Script: NoPic.cmd
:: Desc: Find AD Accounts w/blank jpegPhoto Attr
:: Author: Tom Thrush - tom<at>tthrush<com>
:: Last modified: 22-Apr-2011
:: ======================================

One, the double colon runs faster as it's passed over by the scripting engine, where as rem is actually examined.

And two, with malware searching a system for addresses to spam or attack, it's best not to include a path to your door.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holy Skydrive!

Thanks to Bink.nu for this post. Microsoft's free Skydrive, part of the Live.com suite of web products, now allows you to upload 25GB of data! That's an amazing amount of storage for free. Hmmm, how many pirated Metallica songs would that hold?

More from the source: Skydrive Team Blog

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008


This comes from a friend of mine who lost a couple hundred pictures of his family and friends the day after Halloween. Not sure if it was a glitch with the camera or operator error, but his wife was not happy.

This is when he found Active Undelete, using this he recovered all the pictures and was the hero.

It works on almost all Windows systems and allows you to generate boot disks, use it on RAID, etc. Hopefully, you'll never need it, but it comes highly recommended should the time ever come.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Windows XP SP3 Causes Windows Update to Fail

I've had this happen on a number of systems now, where installing Windows XP SP3 will cause Windows/Microsoft/Automatic Update to fail.

Thanks to Ron Crumbaker, a simple fix is all that is needed. The steps are listed below, the actual commands are in bold.

1. Stop Automatic Updates service - net stop wuauserv
2. Register wups2.dll - regsvr32 %windir%\system32\wups2.dll
3. Restart Automatic Updates service - net start wuauserv

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Windows 7

Some people think it's too soon for Windows 7, if that's what they're really going to call it. But having been released to manufacturing in November of 2006, it'll be almost three years by the time Windows 7 is relased (and that's if it's on time).

Looking at Apple's OS X delivery model, not to mention the Linux community, the operating system gets a refresh every year or two. And peering into the past a little, the Wintendo platforms (95, 98, 98SE, ME) all were released a few years apart. For the 32-bit family there was a large gap between NT4 and Windows 2000 (Oct 1996 and Feb 2000 respectively), but XP came out in Oct of 2001 and XP SP2 (essentially an OS refresh), in August of 2004. There's a timeline on Wikipedia.

So how does this make Vista a failure if Microsoft is just staying on track with it's release schedule?

A great amount of information can be found at the SuperSite for Windows.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Recalling Batteries Still... Seriously?

ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes posted another chapter in the continuing saga of the Sony battery recall. Seriously, how long will it take to get over this?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

QuickTime Alternative

Anyone else sick of all the bundled software? Not that M$ would ever do anything like this, but the Apple QuickTime/iTunes/Safari installs which update and encourage you to download all three packages are getting a bit old. I expect this from Microsoft, but Apple, come on. They're supposed to Think Different.

Anyway I digress, there is a free QuickTime alternative, creatively named QuickTime Alternative. It's free and currently at version 2.70, recently updated on Sept. 5th, 2008. Give it a try...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Critical Windows Patch

This doesn't happen often for Microsoft, a patch outside the usual second Tuesday routine. Apparently a Critical patch for the server service that affects earlier versions of Windows (2000/XP/Server 2003 (they don't mention the expired NT4)) and an Important fix for the latest versions (Vista/ Server 2008) was needed for this vulnerability that they just couldn't wait another three weeks.

It can be downloaded via Windows Update and at the source: Microsoft.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Microsoft IFilter Pack

Thanks to Paul Thurrott for posting this about the MS IFilter pack made available last week.

These Office 2007 search filters can be added to SharePoint, Exchange and SQL so that the new Office files based on XML can be indexed by the search service.

These filters are already apart of Windows Desktop Search 4.0 in Vista, XP and 2008.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Place for Passwords

How many passwords do you have? With dozens of customers, past and present, plus an endless amount of website logins and registrations, where to keep all of those pesky passwords?

Previously I used a Microsoft Wordfile, which was password protected and encrypted. That worked to a point, but it soon became just a long list of of barely formatted text. I tried Excel, it also offers password protection and encryption, but it too became a sea of tabs and grids of text.

Now I use KeePass Password Safe, open source (means free for all) and regularly updated; as in yesterday. I tried a couple of other password managers, like Password Safe and PassReminder, both weren't bad, but I preferred the KeePass interface. It has ample fields, a easy to navigate UI and you can click on a username or password which it will place it on your clipboard for pasting for only 10 seconds before it is removed.

It is available for Linux, Mac, BlackBerry, Palm, Symbian, PocketPC, etc. Give it a try.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Read Them All

Most people like magazines, right? They are thin, portable and the text comes in easily digestible chunks (aka articles). I am apparently a big fan as I am currently subscribed to ten, yes ten, magazines.

Now it started rather simply, I would get Car & Driver or MotorTrend for a year or two and then stop after I found I wasn't reading them. Once I got into the IT field however, I felt compelled (and still do) to subscribe to magazines that help me stay current, learn new trends and teach me solutions I can pass on to my customers. Sounds innocent enough, but I can't read them all. Most sit unread until a year goes by and they are recycled. I imagine I could just put the recycle bin under the mailbox saving myself a year of guilt.

I originally only subscribed to Windows IT Pro (Windows NT Magazine at the time), but as time passed it seemed that I should get whatever free magazines I could; too much knowledge can't be detrimental, right?

So now it seems to have spiraled out of control and I have periodicals showing up every few days. The list I've created below shows what I'm paying and how I wound up with some of them. If only I could ingest ten magazines a month, I would be extremely knowledgeable and would be able to command a higher consulting rate. But alas, I seem to have more time for PGR4 and GH3 than to feed my brain.

As I sit here typing, surrounded by three stacks of unread/partially read magazines, I've come to the conclusion (okay, I came to this before writing) that I will do my best to read through one a day. If I don't, I will recycle one of the oldest periodicals chosen from the pile. Hopefully I will stick to it and it will be the start of a very useful habit. And I better get started, mail is delivered again on Monday...

TechNet (free)

Redmond (free) (was Microsoft Certified Professional)

Windows IT Pro ($29, was WindowsNT and Windows.Net)

Redmond Channel Partner (free)

PC Magazine (used frequent flyer miles)

Via (comes with California's AAA membership)

Grassroots Motorsports (comes with NASA Racing membership)

Money ($10)

Reader's Digest (gift from mom)

National Geographic (gift from in-laws)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Adding a Windows Server 2008 DC to a Windows 2003 Domain

Having just promoted a Windows Server 2008 system to Domain Controller status, there were some things that needed to happen. Similar to previous Windows Server releases there needed to be some updating to the schema and domain since the Active Directory was Windows 2003.

Since this new 2008 server was in a different site than the FSMO holder, the adprep.exe couldn't be run from the system that was to be promoted, I had to go to the correct system.

Once I found the correct DC (which held all the FSMO roles), adprep had to be run with up to four different switches: /forestprep (must be run on the Schema Master), /domainprep (must be run on the Infrastructure Master), /domainprep /gpoprep (again on the Infrastructure Master to update Group Policy functionality) and optionally /rodcprep (if you want to use Read-Only Domain Controllers which are very cool, run this on the Infrastructure Master as well).

Luckily nothing of note happened and all was well...it was then Guinness time!

More information can be found on the Microsoft TechNet site.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Windows Server 2008 Inside Out

As I've mentioned in the past, I'm currently working on an Exchange 2007 roll-out and it's on Windows 2008 servers.

During this endeavor, I've been using the Windows Server 2008 Inside Out book as a reference guide and I must say it is quite good. William Stanek is a good author and the book delves into many real work scenarios and holds a lot of good IT on-the-job kind of advice. And at almost 1500 pages, thankfully it's an MS Press book, which means it comes with a searchable PDF eBook version.

The book is written for the Intermediate/Advanced reader which is something to keep in mind. I definately recommend it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vista Boot Manager

Boot.ini is dead (mostly) and the new sheriff in town is BCDEdit. I have a dual-boot system, XP and Vista, on two physical drives. It's now been over six months since I booted into XP, so that small 160GB drive needs to be replaced with a larger 400GB drive.

When boot.ini was king, no problem, now with the new boot manager it's no longer a text file, you have to use the bcdedit utility. It holds much more power, managing hypervisor settings, emergency management, etc., which boils down to more complication.

Luckily I found a post on the Neosmart Technologies site. It wasn't the quickest task, but "You know, I learned something today."

Update: I neglected to mention that you shouldn't bother using PowerShell for this, it's problematic, stick to the normal "C:" shell and run it as Administrator.

And the commands I used:
To list the contents
bcdedit /enum all /v
To move the Boot Manager
bcdedit /set {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795} device partition=c:
To move the Memory Tester
bcdedit /set {b2721d73-1db4-4c62-bf78-c548a880142d} device partition=c:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blogs I Follow, Part 1

Sure I have a blog, but which tech blogs do I follow? Well, as it turns out too many, thus the "Part I" in the title.

In no particular order (some of which are in the Blogroll):
Paul Thurrott's SuperSite - Probably my favorite technews writer. His sarcasm and pragmatism keeps me reading.
Bink.nu - Basically a good, frequently updated, Microsoft news site.
You Had Me At EHLO... - The Official Microsoft Exchange Team Blog; lots of good stuff!
The SBS Diva - All SBS, all the time!
Jim McBee's Mostly Exchange Web Log - My favorite Exchange book author (and as the title implies mostly Exchange, it gets a little political at times, but there are gems here).
MPECS Inc. Blog - A tech blog with good variety from the Great White North.

That's it for now, I'll post Part 2 in a few days.

Travel the Stars from your Desktop

Here's a fun space exploration program that's been around for a while, Celestia. Celestia allows you to zoom around the solar system and beyond with amazing images and accuracy. It supports Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems.

For those wanting to travel further out and for you sci-fi fans (and who isn't?), go to the "motherload" page there are deep space objects, galaxies and even Star Trek sites to be seen.

It's hours of entertainment for the whole family (at least the geeky ones).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

3 Windows Vista Keyboard Shortcuts

Here are three keyboard shortcuts I learned about while reading the Mastering Windows Vista book.

Windows key + Spacebar to bring the Windows Sidebar to the foreground (the Sidebar must be running)

Windows key + X for to launch the Mobility Center (only for laptops and tablet PCs)

Ctrl + Alt + End to bring up the security menu when using Remote Desktop (may also work for XP, haven't tried it yet)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Get your Cylon here!

Okay, this is too cool not to post: ThinkGeek has affordable Cylons for purchase.

I ordered one a few weeks ago and while anciously waiting I received a call from my brother-in-law thanking me for his new arrival. Since he was the last person I ordered stuff for, his shipping address was cached. So in my purchasing frenzy I didn't notice, but as a fellow geek I was happy "Cy" had a good home.

Anyway, after ordering another one, I now have one of my own. And no I don't move it around making noises or anything (at least when my wife's around).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Evaluate Exchange 2007 on 32-bit

Since hands-on experience is the best teacher, I highly recommend using Exchange 2007 quite a bit before putting it into production. This release, which I'm sure you've already read, is quite different than the Exchange 2000/2003 that came before. It's a similar jump that was Exchange 5.5 to 2000 in functionality and UI.

Get the free (you have to register) download here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Exchange 2007 on Windows 2008

I've just begun a project involving an Exchange 2007 deployment on Windows 2008, one FE (Hub and CAS roles) with a clustered BE (Mailbox role only), the Edge role will be Sendmail.

This is an intra-organization migration replacing a single Exchange 2003 server. Part of this is getting the prerequisites out of the way. TechNet has a couple of great articles, Preparing AD and Domains and Installing Exchange 2007 Prerequisites on Windows Server 2008.

So far so good. I'm also making use of Jim McBee's great book Exchange 2007 Implementation and Administration as well (this book assumes that you have experience with Exchange, Windows Server and Active Directory).

I'll post more as the project progresses.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Exchange System Manager 2003 for Vista

I want to thank Nathan Winters for this gem, there's now a Excange 2003 System Manager for Vista you can download from Microsoft.

I fault the 3rd party hardware and software manufacturers with the many compatibility issues that have plagued Vista, when they had a FIVE YEAR window for development (HP Photo printer anyone?), but to have Microsoft come late to the party with Windows server and Exchange management tools is just lame. Do they want the MS tech crowd on their side or not?

In any case, better late than never.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Passed the Vista Exam

The exam went well, a 700 is need to pass and I achieved a 907; not too bad. Many of the questions covered the new features such as, Meeting Space, Windows Calendar, Defender and the beefed up Windows Firewall.

Interesting enough there were six simulations, some of which I went back and looked at for non-related questions, like firewall settings. They lock you into the various choices in the interface that one might use for the task; i.e. should you be in the Control Panel for a Windows Firewall question, you can't look at the Tablet PC Settings applet.

The testing site, A&A Computers, was acceptable and quiet, that is until a delivery person showed up in back and rang the bell incessantly. My exam also crashed while generating one of the simulations, I was an hour in at this point with 60% of the test completed. Luckily it saved all of my answers and picked up where I left off.

Now it's onto the 70-290 Windows 2003 Server exam. Why not Windows Server 2008? That down the road, but not far. But when you are a Microsoft Certified Trainer, you must pass the exams for the classes you want to teach, and I'm hoping to be as marketable as possible.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mastering Windows Vista

As mentioned in a previous post, I'm studying for the 70-620 Configuring Vista certification exam. As part of this process, I've read 85% of Mark Minasi's book, Mastering Windows Vista Business. The book starts rather low tech, moves toward more work related topics and higher level information as the it progresses. It covers a lot of information, and at 1020 pages it should. I don't know if this was the best resource for studying for the Vista exam, but it was on my shelf waiting to be read. As I mentioned I only cleared 85% of the book, which is 867 pages, because the last section covers automated corporate deployment options with images, etc., which is not covered in the 70-620 exam; I was getting short on time and CBT CD to watch. All-in-all another good book by Mark Minasi, his easy style and readability makes all of his books great resources.

I've also watched 15+ hours of video using a CBT Nuggets product with James Conrad. This was quite the undertaking (3 hours the first day, then two 6 hour days), most of the content I was familiar with, but there were a few gems I may need for the exam or work in general. James is quite chatty, cracks himself up and sometimes makes some amusing metaphors and examples, one was (I'm paraphrasing), "Imagine having a three year old that just ate a box of Twinkies." I give this product a mild recommendation, as it was interesting most of the time and the presentation was definitely workable.

Additionally I've read free guides from ProProfs and took a couple of sample tests from MeasureUp. Both of which were worthwhile.

Now with all this time in, I'm feeling pretty good about passing the test, I'll know tomorrow afternoon for sure...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Google as IT

I must say that over the years, troubleshooting has become much easier with the rise of the search engine. Many an issue has been solved just by visiting a search portal with the exact (or vague) error message.

One of my favorite resources is Google's Special Searches which are narrowly defined for Microsoft, Linux, Apple and BSD (also for the U.S. Gov't, but they don't really help with computers). Being able to trim out a lot of the chaff saves time usually wasted scanning over irrelevant results.

So next time you're troubleshooting, give the special search a try.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

IM Chattin' Part Deux

Well it's not been quite two weeks since I've started using Miranda IM and I've made the decision to go back to Trillan. The plan was to unify all my chat clients and that was Miranda IM's promise, but all it did was add more work for me.

The install and configuration was lackluster, it didn't really like to stay online and I had to click an "Allow" prompt for Miranda IM to interface with Skype (which had to be running), everytime the client started. The main reason for trying the new chat client was software unification, so not only did I have to run Skype, but I had to acknowledge access for the Skype plugin. This left me asking, "Why should I need to be involved in this?"; it should be seemless and happen without any input on my part.

So aside from the dull interface, I suppose Miranda IM is an okay multi-platform client (if you don't need the Skype plugin), but for the price Trillian Basic is still the way to go.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Microsoft Press E-books

Microsoft Press Books, while not always the best in their catagory are certainly useful. One feature I've come to really appreciate is that most of their books include a CD-ROM containing a full copy of the manual in eBook format, typically PDF.

This isn't to say other publishers like Sybex and O'Reilly don't do this, but it seems far more common with MS Press. Anyone who's lugged a 1310 page tome around with them can appreciate a searchable PDF.

For the last few months, my first search on a given tech subject is for a MS Press book with an eBook.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

VMware Server 2.0 Released

VMware Server 2.0 (the free version) was released yesterday and is a great testing and learning tool for hosting multiple operating systems on one system.

I've used this quite a lot at client sites, hosting a Windows workstation to add to a domain without having a GPO applied to my company laptop. This has also been invaluable in testing Linux and Windows configurations alike, without distubing a production environment.

If you haven't used it yet, give it a try, the price is unbeatable.

Network Card Unseen

Today I was examining a customer's Lenovo X60 which failed to see its internal network card in the Windows Device Manager. It recently returned from having the motherboard replaced (cola was spilled into the keyboard).

After trying to get Windows XP to discover the device for a few minutes, I rebooted, went into the BIOS (use F1, not the blue ThinkVantage button) and reset the BIOS to defaults. Once it rebooted, Windows found and automatically installed the NIC driver. Problem solved.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Geek Envy

Okay, I thought I was one of the cool kids for getting a 24" LCD. But whiIe checking out the SBS Dvia Blog today I see this: Four 24" monitors on a Vista system. If only I wasn't spending money on food and gas...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Welcome to...

This is the second of a group of IT templates I'll be posting from what I've created or gathered/modified. This one is your basic "Welcome to Company" sheet that I tyically hand out to new employees. It's only a page long and surprising it's actually been read more than once (unlike the typical stack of papers handed out by HR that largely goes ignored).

The template is in PDF form, but if there are requests for an editible format (Word), I'll post a that as well.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Free Exchange Presentations

One of my favorite tech authors, Jim McBee, just posted his slide decks from the past Connections conferences. I've just reviewed a couple of of them and there's definitely gold in there; like what to setup for monitoring and logging in Exchange 2003 and lessons from Exchange 2007 migrations.

This is an excellent free resource for anyone looking to expand their Exchange knowledge.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vista Ready Boost

Yesterday I purchased a new 8GB Secure Digital card (only $21!) in order to free up my current 2GB SD card used in my Vista laptop for use in my new(ish) Canon SD1100 IS.

Curious as to what allocation unit size to choose when formatting for optimal Ready Boost, I read a number of blogs, The Vista Forums, Tom Archer's Blog, Notebook Review Forum and more. But as I browsed, I didn't seem to get the answer I was looking for, so I just experimented.

Most of the articles say to format the card as FAT, but I need encryption on the card to store backup data, so NTFS was needed. After the first formatting at the default size, 4096 bytes, it showed as unusable for Ready Boost. After a couple of tries, I found the winning size was the largest size, 64 kilobyte, which allowed Ready Boost to work and give me the encryption I require. If I get bored, maybe I'll try other allocation unit sizes and do a comparison; okay it'll never happen, I'm never bored.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Company Infrastructure Template

Here's the first of a few templates I've gathered or made throughout the years. The Company Infrastructure template.

This "catch-all" document can be a central repository for network, system and vendor information, something to use to survey the environment for an audit, or when handing off to / indoctrinating a new IT person. Not all of the entries may be relevant and there will be some line items that need to be added, but hopefully this help you get started.

Here's an abridged overview I created for a client, much of it has been gutted and fictious information added to obfuscate the company.

The template is in PDF format, but if there's a request for something editable, I will make the Word format available as well.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hand me my Sceptre

My new 24" Sceptre LCD monitor just arrived, in fact I'm looking using it now while writing this post. What I replaced was a very nice, but old and power hungry, 21" Dell Trinitron CRT which is now on Craigslist as I write.

I bought it from CompUSA for $329.41, with shipping and no tax (you'll have to pay tax if you live in Illinous I imagine). During my three month search, I examined numerous comparison shopping sites, but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, a 24" LCD with reasonable specs at a decent price. Last week while drilling down through the selection of LCDs yet one more time on PriceGrabber I found the Sceptre LCD. I've seen Sceptre LCD televisions at Costco, but they were usually sub-par. This monitor had some pretty good reviews, so I took the plunge.

I'm happy to say this is a nice looking, quality monitor and of course at 1920x1200 there's a huge viewing area. All-in-all this product has my recommendation!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

PGR4 Wallpaper

I've been playing Project Gotham Racing 4 now since February 14th (thanks honey) and just recently began taking photos. You can pause the game at any time and snap a picture from any angle. It's really quite amazing and the quality is equally as good.

You can take pictures anytime during the game, but I setup a custom race so it would be a location, track and weather of my choosing. Once I found the right spot, near Big Ben with the London Eye in the background, the Aston Martin DBS speeding through the rain soaked streets, I paused the race, found an esthetically pleasing angle and snapped my photo. Once it was uploaded I went to the PGR Nations web site, logged in and downloaded my picture.

Larger picture here.

It's now my current wallpaper, but I'm working on more. Time for some good Z06 pictures.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh no!!! It's 8-bit MIME

Recently a customer was experiencing mail delivery failures:

Action: failed
Status: 5.6.1
Diagnostic-Code: smtp;554 5.6.1 Body type not supported by Remote Host

 Turns out that the Windows SMTP service (what Exchange 2000/2003 uses to transfer mail)  advertises 8-bit MIME, which isn't compatible with some mail servers (they were using Postfix). In any case it was causing a lot of bounced mail and unhappy employees.

 After a bit of searching, the answer turned up in a Knowledge Base article, 262168.

 The fix was mostly straight forward and I was able to use their commands verbatim. But there was one hiccup, the utility that is used, mdutil.exe, is not on the Windows 2003 Server disk and not available for download. I dug through my ever handy pile of disks and found a Windows 2000 Server CD which held the compressed file.

 Once the fix was applied, mail detente was achieved between the OS factions.

Monday, September 15, 2008

IM Chattin'

One of the great boons of the Internet has been instant messaging. Not only does it allow you to keep in touch with friends and family across the globe, it's great for work as well; which is the point of this post.

 Being self-employed (and the only employee) it is very useful to be able to communicate, with clients and colleagues, realtime without spending an inordinate amount of time on the phone. Clients who need information or have an issue can contact me at a moment's notice and garner my immediate attention. With colleagues it is a great tool for us to use when needing quick advice regarding a script, command, confirmation regarding the best course of action or a myriad of other things.

 Of course when you're talking a handful of customers and a couple dozen friends, colleagues plus family, they all use differing clients: AIM, MSN, Skype, Yahoo, etc. To that end, I currently use both Trillian and Skype. In my constant effort to save computer resources I recently found an excellent comparison site on Wiki which pointed me to a number of multi-protocol IM clients. The one which holds the most promise (for Windows, my main platform) is Miranda IM.

 Miranda IM was an easy install and I added the Skype plugin. The interface isn't as nice as Trillian or Skype, but certainly functional.

 I'll give it a try for a few weeks and post more then...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vista Exam 70-620

I recently signed up for the Microsoft exam 70-620, Configuring Microsoft Windows Vista Client. To that end I've been reading Mark Minasi's Mastering Windows Vista. Now with just over 600 pages into the book, I'm still waiting to learn more about the administrative side of the OS. I'm a huge fan of his, with five of his other books in my collection and having seen him speak three times. He has a speaking style and humor that suites my personality and makes dry subjects enjoyable. The first half of the book seems suited for noobs, but now it seems to be moving into the more technical end of the pool, that actual stuff I need for the exam.

 With the exam approaching in two short weeks I hope to have this book finished along with my CBT from CBT Nuggets. I'll post when I finish the book and again when using the CBT. Now if I could just find the time to do all this (and play Project Gotham Racing).

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Ok, so I've signed up for Twitter and I'm still wondering what the point actually is. Most of the posts I'm seeing are about having a sandwich, attending a meeting, flying home, etc. I've been posting once or twice a day, "working on blog", "trying to get AdSense to work", "going home for the weekend". Does anyone really need to know this stuff? Maybe I'm not following the most interesting folks, but it seems lame so far.

 Perhaps others are getting more out of it, I know it was a font of information after a recent natural disaster. But I wonder if it was in the vein of "picking up my stuff" and "turning the coach back over and I found some loose change". Hopefully someone can post a few reasons why one would continue Twitting. I'll keep using it for a while, but if it doesn't start becoming useful in a few weeks, I'm done.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I've been on LinkedIn for a few years now and never really got the point. I guess I viewed it as a large dynamic phonebook to track co-workers when they moved on to new jobs. And I realize it is useful for recruiters as well as anyone wishing to start a company, but I'm neither of those.

 My view of LinkedIn was changed earlier this week when I actually got a prospective customer call based on their LinkedIn search. I met with them today and if all goes well it will be my truly useful use for the site.


The About page has finally been updated.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nokia Gets ActiveSync

Thanks to Mary Jo Foley for this update: Nokia's S60 3rd Edition phones are getting ActiveSync. I currently use Netvigour Hosted Exchange for my mail, which allows me to have Outlook synchronized on all my systems plus have access to calendaring, contacts and mail on my Treo 700w (which btw, is underpowered and just plain old).

To my last point, I am now searching for a phone to replace my aged Palm. I've been with Verizon now for over nine years and my contract is ending this December. After all this time, it's time to weigh my options and it's great to have another few dozen phones thrown into the mix...


I, just like a million other blogs, implemented Google AdSense. This blog is hosted by a friend of mine, Jeff of Jeff.com, someone who actually paid attention when those first domain names were being sold. Anyway I'm hoping to get enough money to buy him a beer once in a while for his charity.

 The registration for AdSense and generation of the ad wasn't difficult, placing it in the template was a little agitating. It turns out the template is confused as to which side is right and left, which caused the AdSense Managerplugin to place it over the text on the wrong side. Maybe it's supposed to be from the prospective of sitting inside the monitor looking out, but I think that's a long shot. Anyway, I just edited the code using Vi on the server and I was off to the races. Hopefully I'll earn enough for a six-pack before the year is out...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Live Mesh

Over the past few of weeks I've been using Live Mesh to capture my ideas for this blog. If you haven't checked it out, it's worth a look. It allows you to store files in the cloud (up to 5GB) and synch this with Windows clients (Mac support coming soon). There is a small client app that installs placing a shiny blue folder on your desktop and it trickles the data to and fro. If you have over 5GB of data, it just replicates the excessive data only to the connected clients. And so far it's been stellar.

 I'm going to use this to act as a backup for my wife's important directories so she (read: me) won't have to worry about losing her files.

 I have to give credit to Paul Thurrott who mentioned how much he liked Mesh on his podcast.

Not This Theme

Well, this theme just isn't working for me. It needs to be more subtle with the style/colors for my taste and the style sheet seems to be having font size issues (or it's me 'cause I'm a Wordpress noob).

There seems to be an endless supply of choices at Free Wordpress Templates where I found the current one. The search continues...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


The first post should be something meaningful I imagine, so here it goes...

A little about me... My name's Tom, I've been in IT for 11 or so years, mostly as a consultant, and have seen a few things, good, bad and lame. I'll try to share some of my experiences, plus maybe even something useful time to time like a new utility, blog or webpage. I imagine some posts will cover other tech items like cars, video games and my search for the right cell phone.

We'll see where it goes and how the site evolves. It took quite a while just to choose a theme (which may still change), hopefully the next updates will go a little faster (like fleshing out the About page).

So welcome and I'll try to make this worth everyone's time.