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:

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 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. - 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.