Friday 30 November 2007

System Builder Tip: Intel DQ965GF Series BIOS update 2007-11-27

A new set of updates for the DQ965GF: We always download the BIOS file to a bootable Technician's Thumb Drive and run it from a DOS prompt. The other update methods include a Windows Executable that one runs after downloading. Note that it will automatically reboot the system into a BIOS update session.

While Intel provides a recovery BIOS setup if the system is downed during the flash, always have the system plugged into a UPS that will allow for at least 5 minutes of on-battery time while flashing the BIOS. This will save a lot of time and heartache if the power ever fluctuates or goes out on a client's system during the update.

Our workbench has two separate 20A circuits, each protected by an APC 1500VA RS series UPS. We have two more 20A circuits and additional APC 1500VA RS UPSs available if we have the need for more.

Once the update has completed, before booting the OS on the new BIOS version, always enter the BIOS after the update to verify that all of the settings are the same as they were before the update. A switched off RAID controller can cause havoc with the OS!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Windows Vista - Printer out of paper error - MS Entertainment 7000 Bluetooth failing connection

Our nonprofits are in the middle of their mad scramble for fund raising.

So, if a keyboard stops working, like Microsoft Wireless Entertainment 7000 keyboard and mouse seemed to be doing almost constantly, we replaced them with wired ones temporarily so that they can keep working. So much for the Bluetooth version being more reliable than the standard radio version was.

In this case, we had a Xerox laser printer connected to one of our DQ965GF based Core 2 systems. The user kept getting an "out of paper" error on the printer.

Restart the spooler service, delete the documents and the printer, reinstall, and still we were getting the error.

We needed to delete the printer, download the newest BIOS update for the board, and install it.

Once we rebooted into the now updated BIOS, the parallel port was set to ECP. We changed that to EPP, booted into Windows Vista and reinstalled the printer.

That fixed it.

We had brought an HP LaserJet with us and we plugged it in right away. It too showed the "out of paper" error. We changed the cable, and still received the error. So the problem was with the system and not the printer.

Strangely, everything has been working for four months up to today.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Good for a Coffee Snort & Laugh :)

We are insanely busy right now, thus the infrequent posts.

But, I had a good laugh over this one: Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog: Now it can be seen: Fake Steve Jobs at Microsoft.

While I haven't seen the Lyons video yet, the quote of Lyons in Todd's article almost passed my coffee through the nose:
"The thing about Jobs that makes him ripe for parody is that ... he presents one face to the world and it's different than who he really is. It's why Hillary Clinton is a great target for parody, too, or any number of people. Bill O'Reilly, right?

"Jobs does the whole Zen and peace and love thing, but you know, behind the scenes, he's this monster, he's this terrible manager. He throws tantrums and slams stuff. The thing about Ballmer is ... if you go out on stage and do a Monkey Boy dance, you can't parody that guy. He's already parodying himself."
I haven't seen the "Monkey Boy dance" (Wikipedia) either ... but it is now on the To Do list for some down time later today ... if the link works!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Thursday 29 November 2007

Windows Vista - Using the DiskPart Command to Create a Bootable USB Flash Drive

One of the neat additions to the DiskPart command in Windows Vista is the ability to work directly with USB flash drives.

Plug a flash drive into an XP box, run diskpart from the command prompt and:
  • list disk [Enter]
One will not see the flash drive listed. On Windows Vista though, we do see it listed and can work with it.

Because of that, we now have a method of creating a bootable USB Flash drive with very little grief for our WinPE environment.

The previous method still could still be used: System Builder Tip: Creating a Bootable USB Drive (previous blog post).

Here is the process:
  • On a Vista system plug in the USB flash drive to an available USB port (ReadyBoost compatible is best)
  • Start-->diskpart [Enter] (UAC Prompt)
  • list disk (USB flash drive will show in the list - Disk 1 for this example)
  • sel disk 1
  • clean
  • create par primary
  • sel par 1
  • act
  • format fs=fat32 quick (note that USB HDDs will need to be NTFS)
  • assign
  • exit
A screenshot of the process:

Setup of 2GB Flash Drive for WinPE Boot
We now have an active partition formatted with the FAT32 files system on the USB Flash drive.

From there we can copy the DOS system files onto it for the minimal memory setup required by a BIOS update, or we can copy the WinPE boot files and WinPE boot image onto it to boot to WinPE.

Things just got a little simpler. :)

UPDATE 2010-02-04: Added the "Assign" and "Quick" to the above steps. One to get the drive letter and the other to avoid a long wait for the format.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Getting the Geek Out ... and some memories of old...

With the amount of business we have been doing lately, it has been pretty tough to focus on some of the neat developments happening in our industry such as SkullTrail, SBS Cougar, and more.

But, every once in a while we get a pleasant surprise such as the one from yesterday.

We helped a client move their operations between floors and while waiting for a technician from their ISP to arrive to finish the hookup, we cleaned out some of their "junk" drawers.

There were a lot of components that spanned well over two decades of computer technology if not more. Here are some of the things found:
  • A completely sealed copy of Windows 3.11 for Workgroups Add-On
  • A completely sealed OEM copy of Windows 3.1
  • WordPerfect 5.1 with add-ons
  • Socket 478 Asus motherboard
  • 80386 Math Co-Processor
  • ISA socket based IDE card
It was really neat going through all of that stuff.

The ISA IDE add-in card with all of its jumpers brought back the excitement of the first generation CD-ROM drives - that were prohibitively expensive - and how much we anticipated the next generation that would run at 2x = 300KB/sec!

Those jumpers for IRQs and I/O addresses reminded me of the pain points we would go through to configure a system to run without freezing up when loaded up with a sound card (one of the most contentious of add-in cards), modem for Bulletin Board and/or Internet access (starting out at 300 bits/sec +), high performance 256KB, 512KB, and 1MB (yes ... kilobytes) video cards, and more.

Having seen where we have come from, it sure gives a different perspective on where we are now with the hardware and software we work with.

There were times where we put huge chunks of time into getting a system configuration working ... most of that playing with jumpers. Then there were huge chunks of time working on drivers and getting them to play nice in the operating system.

Then came DOS4GW and the conventional memory game for gamers.

Today, unless we are working with Bleeding Edge, things tend to play nice together. The caveat to everything playing nice is cost ... just as it always has been. Buy cheap, and in the end it will cost more due to systems coming back because they run flaky at best, if they ran properly at all before leaving the shop.

As some things change, all things remain the same! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Tuesday 27 November 2007

HP Print Product Authorized? ReSelling HP Print Product? This is for you!

We used to get that very cumbersome HP Resource Guide that provided decent product feature coverage, but lacked on the ability to compare products, or go in depth on product features.

That has changed.

HP is now providing an electronic version of the guide that keeps itself up to date on all of the new HP printing technologies as well as maintaining data on all of their existing printing product lines for the last 10 years or so.

A screenshot of the new eIRG:

HP Printing and Digital Imaging eIRG

The eIRG can be downloaded from here: HP IPG Products eIRG Site.

Take note of the registration code as you will need it to run the installer and subsequently start the program after the install.

For Windows Vista x86 and x64 users, download the manual install and run that as opposed to the automatic one. We were successful getting the manual setup to run with no glitches on our Vista x64 installs.

You will get an email with the registration code after the first step of registering.

So far, this new setup is definitely a step in the right direction!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Monday 26 November 2007

Outlook 2007 RSS Feeds not working ... partial reason found?

Outlook's inability to bring in RSS feeds on a regular basis is pretty nuts.

The whole process is hit and miss, as it rarely brings feeds down.

So far, there is no real indication about what is going on ... at least until this evening.

While watching the ISA Logging querying for "Denied" Actions only for another issue, a whole bunch of denies came through:

Outlook RSS Feed Poll blocked by ISA 2K4 on SBS

This doesn't make any sense.

Why is that? Because, the feeds do populate once in a Blue Moon.

To the Outlook Team: there is a clue to whatever is broken!

UPDATE: Previous post: Outlook 2007 - RSS feeds no longer work ... period! 0xB7AC0008.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Windows Vista - Activation Error: Code 0x8007232b DNS Name does not exist

We are working with Windows Vista Enterprise x64 for our training lab systems.

Right now, we are creating, modifying, and deploying Windows Vista WIM images via network share to get comfortable with the process.

One of the lab systems is in its final resting place, so we went to activate the OS.

This is what we received when we tried:

Windows Activation Error

A problem occurred when Windows tried to activate. Error Code 0x8007232B ... DNS name does not exist.
The error itself is quite cryptic.

Given the mention of DNS, the next step was to watch in ISA to see if indeed there was some sort of blockage happening there. But, we saw absolutely nothing hit ISA when we tried to activate Windows.

So, the next step was to confirm that the ISA Client Firewall was installed and configured correctly which it was. IE showed the correct settings and could browse the Internet with no issues.

After exploring all of the possible physical connection properties we could, we tried a Live Search: Vista 0x8007232b dns name does not exist.

The answer was in the very first hit, a Microsoft Knowledge Base article: KB938107: Error message when you try to activate Windows Vista: "Activation Error: Code 0x8007232b DNS Name does not exist"

As soon as we saw the contents of the KB article, it hit us ... we had setup the WIM image without activating the OS and we were working with Vista Enterprise. There was no MAK entered during the initial setup of the OS we took the image from!

Heh ... one of those silly "Duh" moments. ;)

We clicked the "Change Product Key" link, entered our MAK, clicked on the Activate link, and voila:

Activation was successful

A very valuable lesson ...

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

SBS - Security - PassPhrases with Spaces?!?

For those of us who have been around for a long time in this industry, we may remember how it was drilled into us that using a space "character" in any type of password was taboo.

It just broke things.

During the recent Technet - MyTechNet Security Tour, it was pointed out that one could use spaces in their PassPhrases.

Wow, how things have changed.

The first thing we did when we were back in the office was test out what types of user accounts would work with a space character, and this is what we came up with so far:
  • Domain/Enterprise/SBS Admins.
  • Domain/Peer User Accounts.
  • System Service Accounts for things like SQL, WSS, and more where a domain/local user account is required.
From what we can gather, the password hacker hammers do not necessarily account for spaces in PassPhrases.

So, here are some good ones:
  • I love my dog!
  • PassPhrases are kewl.
  • My PassPhrase is easy to remember!
  • Log me into my PC.
The benefit of utilizing a PassPhrase of this nature is the ease with which we can remember them.

We will be educating our clients and their users accordingly.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

System Builder Tip: Asus M2A-VM toasted :(

As mentioned in our previous post, System Builder Tip: Vista Aero Performance Rating - ATI X1250 on AMD 690G Chipset, we obtained an Asus M2A-VM and an AMD 4400+ via the AMT TechTour offer a while back.

This being our first venture back into AMD territory for many years, we have been putting the Asus/AMD package through a fairly basic office environment test.

The system has been on all of the time, with reboots for updates and the like. We had Windows Vista Business loaded on it as well along with the necessary applications we need on a day to day basis.

Well, the system crashed yesterday. It started behaving strange with components like the NIC coming and going, then lockups happening, to it now being utterly unresponsive.

We have no reprieve but to go to Asus' Web site for warranty support. We are required to register the product and our ownership on their site before we can go forward to an RMA process. But, we keep getting a "Server too busy" error message when we try to register.

And so ends our foray into Asus/AMD territory. :(

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Saturday 24 November 2007

SBS - Setting the Add User Template's User Quota Limit

Out of the box, SBS gives every user a 1GB data limit on network shares which includes My Documents redirected ones. The exception to this rule is the domain admin account that has unlimited storage available to it.

Default User Quota

Once we have the second phase of the SBS setup finished, we will go in and modify the Quota limits for the templates before adding users in the To Do list.

This way we are not fielding a call from a user wondering why they cannot move data in their system.

Remember, the Quota also includes their redirected My Documents content!

In most cases, we have a minimum of 300GB of redundant storage for even the smallest organization, so we tend to move the basic user Quota based on the type of organization we are dealing with.

To do that, click the "Quota Entries" button for the drive that has the company shares and user's My Documents redirected to.

User Quota Management

Note the three entries for the default SBS User Templates.

Double click on the Template's entry and make the appropriate changes:

Template Quota Changed

Do this for the default templates plus any custom templates that you may have created.

This process makes the changing of a user's quota a very quick one. Now, all one does is run the "Change User Permissions" Wizard from Users Management and reapply the now quota adjusted template to that user.

If one has five or ten users nearing the limit, running the Change User Permissions Wizard is a lot quicker than manually making the changes in the Quota Management Console!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Friday 23 November 2007

HP LaserJet 3390 MFP - Problem out of the box

We had a couple of HP LaserJet 3390 MFPs sitting on our floor for delivery.

The first one went out the door and came back within a day.

We talked to our supplier about that, and apparently they are seeing a batch of them come back now.

The problem is with a print defect every couple of inches on the page when printed simplex or duplex.

So, we are going to take to testing them, including the second one sitting on the floor, before sending them off to delivery.

That might explain why there was a steep discount on them from HP lately! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Thursday 22 November 2007

SBS - Windows Vista - Simply 2008 Install Quirck

It may seem that Sage has taken a step backwards in their Simply Accounting setup for version 2008.

Simply 2007 installed with no issues on Windows Vista with the data hosted on a network share.

Simply 2008 on the other hand does not install as simply as that.

The first problem was on the Windows Vista workstation.

Whenever we went to run Simply Accounting we would get:

Error: Cannot connect to Simply Connection Manager
On a properly running setup we should see:

Simply Accounting Connection Manager Service

The little icon was in the System Tray, the service was installed and listed under services.msc, but it was not running.

This is what we had to do:
  1. Open Windows Explorer (logged in as a local admin) or elevate Windows Explorer
  2. c:\Program Files\Winsim\ConnectionManager
  3. Right click on the SimplyConnectionManager.exe file & properties
  4. Compatibility Tab
  5. Run this program as an administrator
  6. Apply
  7. OK
  8. Close Windows Explorer.
This is what we would see during the above process:

Setting Admin Rights to the Connection Manager

Once we did that, we hit the start button for the service and it started with no issues.

But, we encountered the same error again!

This client's data is located on a company share, so we were not sure what the next step was.

Since this is a brand new install, we put in a call to Sage to see what they had to say.

Well, apparently we need to do a "Data Only" install on the server. Once we did that, made sure the Simply Connection Manager service was started - it did not start up after the install - they were in business.

There are two workstations connecting to this database. One of the two needs to be running as a restricted user.

And we may be in a bit of a bind as the service is not wanting to start while logged in as the restricted user. We even set the service to run as admin via an elevated Windows Explorer and subsequent UAC elevation using a local admin rights user to access the "Run as Admin for All Users" properties.

It is the end of the day for them, and for us, so we will work on it again in the morning to see if we need to set compatibility mode for the service in order to get it to run under a restricted account. But, so far we have struck out.

Sage ... it is not looking too good for you at this point. :(

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

SBS - SharePoint v3 Application Templates and more

We are in the process of preparing a new client site with an SBS install that will have Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) v3 installed beside the default SBS WSS v2 installation.

We will be following these guidelines: SBS - Installing SharePoint Services 3 on SBS (previous blog post).

Also, there are 40 new application templates available for WSS v3 that give us the ability to customize WSS v3 sites for our clients. They are available here: Application Templates for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

For a quick description of the new templates and their features: Descriptions of Application Templates for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

The primary goal for the WSS v3 site in this case is to replace a huge part of the clunky binder system that is being used for company process manuals with a Wiki site. The binders are very much out of date, and in many instances the contents are no longer applicable.

We will facilitate the user's understanding of the wiki site and its use with a couple of half day training sessions. One to train them in the use of the site, and the second to follow up and run through some of the finer aspects of updating and maintaining the site.

The goal is to get everyone involved in the upkeep of the wiki based manual, especially the people who do the tasks described therein.

In the long run, this will facilitate the accuracy of the contents and provide a simpler employee transition process as knowledge will no longer be lost when an employee leaves.

For us, Windows SharePoint Services provides an excellent avenue for providing value added services. When clients see the various possibilities to improve their business processes with WSS based Web sites, they see the long term value of having them setup.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Monday 19 November 2007

Business Principles: The Barn Identity

Ever work in a barn?

If you have, then you know that everything that is done in there will require some sort of clean up afterwards.

Whether it is washing and putting away the various tools and implements used, or shoveling up after Bessy or Clive. One must keep the clutter down to a minimum as a matter of safety, cleanliness, and respect for the next person who will need to work in there.

Our work areas, that is our shop and office areas, reflect a very important aspect of how we run our business. The same is true of the transportation we use when making a professional level call on a client or prospect. Our personal dress and hygiene will also have a direct impact on our clients and their impression of our organization.

The first impression will provide 75% or more of the incentive or disincentive to deal with us as a professional products and services organization. A bad first impression can kill a $xxxK deal in an instant.

The Office and Shop:

Ever bring a client back into the shop and have motherboards, memory, hard drives, keyboards, cables, and other components scattered about hither-tither? How does that "organized chaos" reflect on our company? How does that chaos reflect on the technician that normally sits there?

It is even more critical if multiple techs use the same station. It never fails that, in any type of working together situation, there will be conflict if one is into keeping the station organized and the other is not.

The same is true of our dedicated work space whether that is an office or a cubicle. When things are in a constant state of disarray, it has an impact on the client's impression of us. If there is an Eb and Flow to what is going on in our areas and the various stages of "paper piles", and the client gets to experience them over time and subsequent visits they would come to understand at least that we start out with a clean space and end with one too.

Our workbench areas are no different.

It is all about respect for our client and their products that we work with, our company/employer, and ourselves.

This particular lesson usually gets drilled home with the help of two very important things:
  1. Someone in the company that is a respectful mentor (one of my former employers was exactly that for me). They take the time to work with us patiently to develop our sense of understanding how we have an impact on others and that the other should come first.
  2. Starving.
The first involves a strong team playing ethos as well as a deep respect for our team leaders. Our team leaders will engender that respect in their charges. We share our expertise and encourage those around us to excel in their particular specialties, but also to grow in those areas where they are challenged. We encourage them, we do not beat them over the head.

The second is self explanatory and is Step 1 of the Twelve Step Program: We reach Rock Bottom with nowhere to go but up. But, heading up cannot be done alone! We must admit to ourselves that we have no one to blame for our hitting that spot ... r-e-s-p-o-n-s-i-b-i-l-i-t-y.

The Transportation

One of my former employers used to groan at my $50 - yes I bought my first car in out here for fifty bucks - 1975 Chevelle Malibu Classic 2 door. It wasn't that it was loud or anything, it was that you couldn't tell what colour it was supposed to be for the rust and peeling vinyl roof. It may have gotten me around cheaply, but we sure took a hit when one of our lawyer clients who drove a $250K Benz Coupe saw it and wasn't too sure his office was going to deal with us any further.

In a way, I was very fortunate, as per my former employer, that the car decided to die in a funeral pyre at an extremely busy intersection not far from the office/shop! :D

The eventual replacement for the Malibu was a well appointed Taurus Wagon that was in excellent shape. It was a respectable form of transportation.

Our Personal Disposition and Attitude

We are professionals, therefore we should behave, dress, and keep hygiene like one.

As an example: If one gets in trouble with the law, who do they want to defend them?
  1. Lawyer 1: Charges $100/hr and wears bargain basement suits with shoes and tie that kinda match.
  2. Lawyer 2: Charges $250/hr and wears a decent $500 three piece suit with a decent pair of Italian shoes and a silk tie that actually match.
  3. Lawyer 3: Charges $1,000/hr and wears Armani.
If our first inclination is to choose Lawyer 1, we have a problem. When push comes to shove, will Lawyer 1 rescue us from our predicament? More than likely not, and they will still charge us the 20-30 hours they "put into our case" including the paper clips.

If we think, okay, Lawyer 2 would be a good choice, then think again. There is a whole lot of mediocre out there, and choosing a gem in amongst the riff-raff can prove to be expensive and fatal to us.

Lawyer 3 would not only get us out of our predicament, they would know exactly what part of the law was applicable off the top, and end up billing us for a couple of hours plus the hour for the court time.

Reread the example and let it sit for a while.

Now, reread it again ... and again ... and again.

Starting to get it now?

Not only does the example speak to how we place value in the products and services provided to us, it speaks to the value we place in OUR OWN provided products and services.

Remember this post? Cheap is as Cheap does.

Our personal demeanor, our hygiene, the clothing we wear or somewhat don't wear, the vehicle we drive, the tools we use ... all of these things reflect on us and the company we represent to a client or prospective client.

We surely cannot expect to garner premium rates, or provide Managed Services, if we first do not present/manage ourselves as and behave like premium professionals.

While we may not drive the $250K Benz, wear Armani, or visit a salon to keep our coiffure on a regular basis, two or three good pairs of slacks, six or eight button down shirts (low cut or tight does not cut it), undershirts, and a couple of decent pairs of shoes will go a long way to facilitating the Premium Professional reality that is standing before the Prospect or Client.

Any MCP or Microsoft Partner can visit the MCP/Partner Store to pick up some very professional button down Microsoft, Certified Professional, Small Business Specialist, etc. logo shirts for a reasonable cost. Or, the company could spend some funds on a decent set of button down shirts for office and technical staff. Golf shirts just don't cut it anymore. The Alligator is dead ... *phew*

We should reflect our Products & Services Rates and our Products & Services Rates should reflect us. Anything out of balance in the equation and we all loose.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Friday 16 November 2007

Business Principles: Drawing the line between Confidence and Arrogance

This post can be a bit of a tough pill to swallow ... so keep that in mind when reading! ;) Believe me ... been there ... done that ... and still fall into it at times!

As the front line between our clients and disaster with their I.T. technology, there is a lot of responsibility placed upon our shoulders.

Those of us who run small I.T. support shops, especially the ones that have obtained the Microsoft Small Business Specialist designation, need to wear many hats ... and wear them well.

It is a responsibility that we should never take lightly. An error made by us could cost our client their business, or a large sum of money through lost productivity if things do not work as they should.

There is an old cliché: The more you know, the less you know.

Among the many disciplines out there, I.T. surely ranks right up there when we realize that the more we get into a hardware or software product the more we realize we need to learn.

It is a fact of life so get over it. ;)

What this boils down to for those of us with the small I.T. shops is to recognize and know our limitations.

We need to know when to reach out to that phone to call someone who knows more about a particular hardware or software product than we do.

If we do not reach out for help when needed, we cross the line from being confident and knowing our limitations to overconfidence and even further arrogance:
  • My way or the highway.
  • I know what I am doing and don't need any help.
  • Yeah, I know or I know.
  • I know my job Mr. Client, you know yours, so stick to it.
  • This is how you do it: click, click, click, click, click (so fast no one could keep up)
  • That familiar "looking down the nose" at you.
Overconfidence and arrogance can get us into real trouble:

Um, just where did that GPO go?!? 8-O

If we do not understand the consequences of a particular action, we may cause a server to hiccup and go down or to even hiccup and die.

Here is another example:

Windows Update Settings Missing

Should look like this:

Windows Update Settings are There

We all make mistakes. That is a fact of life. Even the most seasoned of professional makes errors. When we do, if we can, we make amends with our client and do what we can to restore things to their original state at our cost.

The more the restitution costs us, the more valuable that lesson will be in the future.

A person who is confident and knows their limitations is a lot easier to get along with. In their confidence and expertise, they recognize when someone is offering valuable and constructive criticism or comments about the work that they do.

The confident one also knows when to be silent and enjoy the fact that someone else is showing them something they just discovered ... even though the confident one already knew it.

Watch how the light in the person's eyes who just discovered that something is extinguished by the, "Yeah, I know" or "yeah, whatever".

Our clients will understand when we need to bring in specialists within a particular field to meet a need. They will especially appreciate the fact that we are willing to bring experts in to facilitate the best possible solution for their needs.

A benefit of bringing experts in is the opportunity for us to learn. That is probably one of the best ways to learn about something: side by side with an expert.

It will also help us better understand the complexity and the skill involved in putting a product like Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 Standard and Premium together and having the components play nice together on one box.

And finally, there is no longer an excuse to use production systems as guinea pigs to test our theories. With virtualization, Quad Core Xeon Uniprocessor or dual processor servers, and a TechNet Plus subscription we can build virtually any environment we need to test them out beforehand ... and do it very inexpensively!

UPDATE 07-11-19: Grammatical change: "...opportunity for us ..."

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Thursday 15 November 2007

HP LaserJet Monitor - zsHP1020.exe CPU Maxxed

We received a call from a client's user who was onsite complaining about their system no longer responding.

While trying to print something, the print job was sent to the wrong printer and the system eventually froze.

When the system was brought into the shop, this is what we found:

zsHP1020.exe Processes

There were literally hundreds of this one process firing up on the sytem.

First, we needed to unplug the printer and then shutdown the print spooler service: net stop spooler [Enter] from Start-->Run.

This did not fix the issue though. The system remained relatively unresponsive. The processes refused to be shut down via the "End Process" in the Task Manager.

We ended up needing to clean out any reference to the 1018, 1020, and 1022n LaserJet printers installed on the system. With the Print Spooler service shut down:
  1. Navigate to C:\Windows\System32\Spool\
  2. Delete any folders that contain zshp1020.exe et. al. executables
    • Note that the "Spool" and "3" folders may also contain other print drivers ... so only remove those folders and files that are relevant to the offending HP one.
    • Verify what other printers are installed on the system before removing anything.
  3. In this case, we removed all folders and files that were relevant.
  4. Start-->Run--> regedit [Enter]
  5. Find: LaserJet
  6. Delete only the folders that are relevant to the offending printer.
    • In this case we removed any registry folder named 1018, 1020, and 1022n
  7. Ignore the MRU (Most Recently Used) references
  8. Ignore the USB referenced locations ... &*3a... etc.
  9. Just delete the relevant HP LaserJet Printer named Folders!
Note that Safe Mode may be required for the above operation.

Once the \Spool directory and the registry are cleaned out, do a search for zsHP1020.exe and any others on the local hard drive including hidden and system folders. Either rename or send to the Recycle Bin the driver's folders found in this search.

Once the above steps have been taken, reboot the system, log into the user's profile, download the most recent driver for the printer, run the install routine, and plug in the printer when requested to do so.

Once the drivers have installed, run a test print out of Word or another program to make sure that everything is working. We were good to go from there.

References: Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Virtual Server 2K5 R2 SP1 - Error: Microsoft Virtual Server Storage Bus - The parameter is incorrect.

In this particular case, we were working with three virtual servers. Two are x86 based Xeon setups and one is x64 Xeon Quad Core based.

The x86 based Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2s took the Service Pack 1 with no issues. Both machines were happy with the update.

The x64 based system with a host OS of Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard x64 SP2, which is also hosts the Admin Site via HTTPS/Host Header, choked:

Security Alert - Driver Installation
The driver software you are installing for:
Microsoft Virtual Server Storage Bus

has not been properly signed with Authenticode(TM) technology.
Therefore, Windows cannot tell if the software has been modified since it was published. The publisher's identity cannot be verified because of a problem:
The parameter is incorrect.
Do you still want to install this software?
This is where it gets really fun.

No matter which option, Yes or No, we choose we get:

Rolling back action

We tried everything we could come up with to get the Service Pack to take. Nothing worked.

Now, since we did the admin system last, we were stuck as none of the production VMs were online as a result of those systems receiving the Virtual Server SP1 too. Not even the Virtual Machine Remote Control Client Plus could connect to any of the virtual servers to get those machines started. We were completely stuck.

Things would not be so bad if we could find anything relevant on the Internet in relation to this error. But, we hit the brick wall ... and hard. There is seemingly nothing out there about this specific problem applying Virtual Server 2005 R2 Service Pack 1 to an x64 Enterprise based Virtual Server install ... nothing!

Since this was a business critical situation, there were production machines down, we needed to call the Partner Support Hotline to take advantage of our Partner Perk of free business critical support.

After obtaining our SRX0711... number, we were put on with Vaseem A. who listened intently to the situation. We had to connect to an MS support site to allow him access to the server desktop. Once connected, and he had control, we got to sit back and watch. ;)

It is not too difficult to get first impressions by the initial steps a remotely connected person goes through. Especially for those of us who have a good chunk of server management under our belts. Vaseem demonstrated an excellent level of knowledge and understanding of the products he was working with: Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard SP2 as the host and Virtual Server 2005 R2 as the virtual server.

Even then, it took some time to figure out what the source of the problem was.

A big clue as to what was causing the problem was found in C:\Windows\SetupAPI.log:

#W366 ... The parameter is incorrect.
#W360 ... The certificate is not valid for the requested usage
#E122, E157 ... Driver is not intended for this platform
Vaseem ended up uninstalling Virtual Server 2005 R2 Enterprise x64 off of the machine, cleaning out the Program Files directory, he exported the MSVS registry settings then renamed them "settingkeyold". The server was then rebooted. Vaseem then ran the VS 2K5 R2 SP1 install routine again. The error did not return!

When the server was rebooted, the host header and ports for the management site were properly set and the SSL certificate was set to the site, we had the Admin site came up. It took some time to get to this point, so before we allowed Vaseem to continue, we fired up the VMs on the other two servers so at least the critical production systems were back online. Since this is a Constrained Delegation setup, we were able to confirm that the setup was still functional when we were able to connect to the other x86 based Virtual Servers.

After all of this, the Virtual Server service refused to start on the server we were working on! :(

An examination of the directory that Virtual Server installs to showed that the files were all correct, we checked the permissions on the VM folders (in a non-standard location) and they looked correct, and verified the service settings in services.msc. All looked 100%.

What ended up being the cause of the VS service falling flat on its face was the registry settings. The Virtual Serverold key was still there as Vareem had left it ... but the Virtual Server SP1 install routine failed to create a new Virtual Server key.

So, uninstall VS 2K5 R2 SP1, clean out the directories, export the registry keys and this time delete all of them, reboot and reinstall.

After the server had rebooted, we made the necessary site port, SSL, host header, and IP settings changes to the VS site in IIS Admin, and we verified connectivity to the site. It worked, and showed all three servers available!

Wow! What a lot of work to get things up and running.

We fired up the final 4 VMs on the x64 box and said, "Whoo hoo!" :D

There are times where we have heard negative things about the over seas crew that Microsoft utilizes for some of their support duties. To date, we have been very fortunate that every time we have had the need to utilize the business critical support, they have come through in Spades.

Thank you Vaseem for helping us out of a bind! :D

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Windows Vista - Windows XP Resetting the MBR - cursor blink at boot after recovery

After restoring a system via Ghost, which we are no longer using, or via ShadowProtect Version 3.0 (fixed in 3.1), one may need to reset the Master Boot Record (MBR) and Boot Sector on the new hard disk, replaced hard disk, or disk RAID array.

The key indicator that there is a problem is the blinking cursor in the top left corner of the screen after trying to reboot into the now recovered/restored OS.

The process has changed a bit as far as the command structure in Windows Vista versus Windows XP.

For Windows Vista:
  1. Boot the Vista DVD
  2. Choose the Repair option at the Install Screen (bottom left corner link)
  3. Click on the Command Prompt option
  4. bootrec /fixmbr [Enter]
  5. bootrec /fixboot [Enter]
  6. Exit [Enter]
  7. Restart into the OS.
In Windows XP:
  1. Boot the Windows XP CD
  2. F6 if RAID drivers are required and install when prompted
  3. Repair Windows
  4. Logon to the Recovery Console
  5. fixmbr \Device\HardDisk0 [Enter]
  6. fixboot c: [Enter]
  7. Exit [Enter]
  8. Restart into the OS.
The system should then boot into the recovered OS with no issues.

Links: Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Monday 12 November 2007

Windows Vista x64 - Creative X-Fi Driver update 2.15.0004 fixes a lot of issues.

When we first setup this workstation with Windows Vista x64, we received a real big surprise from our speakers. The full experience can be read about here:
Windows Vista - Creative X-Fi Snap, Crackle, & Pop Noises on Vista x64 with 4GB+.

Because of the nature of the issues and the fact that Creative has issued an updated driver that seems to fix many of the issues we were experiencing, the subject bears a new post.

The drivers can be found here: There is a "Change your region" drop down box in the top right corner of the Support Download site for you to bring things closer to home.

All of the X-Fi products have the same driver to download and install.

Once the drivers are downloaded, it would be a good idea to add them to the Technician's Thumb Drive since they are a bit bulky.

All in all, the new drivers are a marked improvement over the previous driver iteration which was temperamental at best.

Now if Creative could get the IE click sounds to work flawlessly, all would be good! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Friday 9 November 2007

Intel - DQ35JOE has a new BIOS update - November 2nd

A quick FYI:

Intel DQ35JOE BIOS Update Nov. 2, 2007: They are updating quite frequently right now.

Time to update your Technician's Bootable Thumb Drive! :D

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

SBS - Small Business Specialist Exam 70-282 Updated

Apparently the 70-282 exam, Designing, Deploying, and Managing a Network Solution for a Small- and Medium-Sized Business, was compromised at some point recently.

As a result, the exam had to be redone.

In a way, this is a mixed blessing, as it was explained to us at the Microsoft Partner event yesterday by Kim Harrison, our Partner Specialist for the Small Business Specialist Community (MSBS).

How is it a mixed blessing? Well, for those of us who have written the exam, many of the questions were not relevant to our SMB focus. They had more of an Enterprise slant to them.

Apparently, Microsoft brought in some key MSBS people to help with the exam's rewrite. This means that we will hopefully see a lot more SMB relevant questions on the exam.

For those considering the Microsoft Small Business Specialist designation, SMBNation is bringing out an updated volume that will also include chapters on exam 70-631 for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0: Microsoft Small Business Specialist Primer.

The benefits of having the MSBS logo attached to our company are manifold:
  1. It distinguishes us from the pack.
  2. The logo on our Proposals - a huge stand-out.
  3. Our rates reflect the professional level indicated.
  4. Access to exclusive Microsoft resources:
    • An MSBS point of contact within Microsoft (try getting that from Partners at the Registered level!)
    • Managed Newsgroups accessible to MSBS members only with a 4 hour guaranteed turnaround.
    • Marketing perks.
  5. More...
For us smaller I.T. shops, the MSBS designation makes sense.

And, for those of us who have been in this industry for a long time, especially if we have been focused on Small Business Server, exam 70-282 will actually be quite reasonable. It is a good idea to pick up the book and brush up on the "terminology" language specifics, but for the most part our experience will show through in the questions answered.

From Micosoft: Preparation Guide for Exam 70-282: Designing, Deploying, and Managing a Network Solution for a Small- and Medium-Sized Business.

The above link gives a good explanation of the exam and the expectations of Microsoft in regards to it.

The Microsoft Small Business Specialist Partner Site.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Wednesday 7 November 2007

Windows Vista - Remove the 2 Simultaneous Download Limit in IE

We have a good sized Internet connection here in the office.

When we need to download multiple files from various sites, we get caught by the 2 simultaneous download limit ... especially if the delivering site is throttled in some way.

To remove the IE7 simultaneous download limit, we do the following:

  1. Regedit [Enter]
  2. UAC Prompt
  3. HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings
  4. Add DWORD (32bit): MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server
    • Note that it is ...PerONE_ZERO...
  5. Double click and set the value to the number of wanted simultaneous downloads
  6. Add DWORD (32bit): MaxConnectionsPerServer
  7. Double click and set the value to the number of wanted simultaneous downloads
  8. Close the registry editor.
  9. Close any IE windows and restart IE.
The limit should be gone.

A screenshot of the registry changes:

IE 7 Download Settings

Courtesy of:
Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Security Heads Up: Database Phished

Apparently an employee of Salesforce fell "victim" to a Phishing scheme and gave up the database info.

We have a number of clients that use the service, so we have been warning them to pay particular attention to emails that have seemingly legit personal information in them.

As part of our user training regimen, we tend to repeat ourselves to our users, "Never volunteer any information via email or over the phone."

This compromise of SalesForce's customer database clearly demonstrates that one needs to be very careful with their personal information.

The only time one should be typing information into a form, site, or whatever electronic means, or via phone is when they initiate the whole process from a fresh browser window or by dialing the company's phone number!

Via There are two other aspects to this situation that need to be addressed.

The first is that we, the technology support point of contact, need to be aware of the products and services that our clients use. This type of information should be a part of our client audit trail. This will facilitate our being proactive in protecting our client's interests.

The second, which is especially true in Canada, is: We need legislation that forces companies to reveal when our information is compromised.

Right now companies are terrified of that kind of thing happening. However, the TJ Maxx (Live search) huge compromise demonstrates otherwise. While they experienced a very large dip in business after the compromise announcement, their cash sales jumped, and their business has come back up to previous levels, if not higher.

We need to know so that we can take measures to protect our identity!

By the way folks, if you haven't already done so, sign up to one of the credit monitoring services provided by the major credit bureaus in your country. In Canada and the U.S. it is Trans Union and Equifax.

We get weekly reports generated when ever anything hits our credit profile. It is an effective way to know if someone has your identity and is trying to setup credit in your name. This provides us with an ability to be preemptive if we see bad things happen and mitigate any disastrous circumstances around our credit.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Tuesday 6 November 2007

Intel - Intel Technical Notifications - Email Update Notifications

Intel has a customizable notification service that notifies us by email when BIOS, driver, firmware, back plane, and other updates are available.

One has the ability to pick and choose which hardware and software products to be notified about. This gives us the ability to choose only those products we deal with directly.

Intel Technical Notifications.

Note that one needs to be at least a Registered Partner with Intel to receive this service.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Saturday 3 November 2007

Intel DQ965GF - Error on PCI Simple Communications Controller in Device Manager

We just completed a StoragCraft ShadowProtect v3 P2P migration of our data mule system from an Intel D945GTP series with a Pentium D 2.8GHz plugged into it to an Intel DQ965GFEKR series with an E6600 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo plugged in.

Other than a hiccup with the recovery portion of the P2P transfer (will blog about that in a separate post), things went relatively well.

After installing all of the updated drivers into Windows XP Pro SP2 on the system, we still had an error in the Device Manager: PCI Simple Communications Controller - Drivers not installed.

The other message we were getting, which was wrong, was from the AMT driver: AMT is not enabled. We set it up in the BIOS, so the above error was somehow tied to the AMT setup.

In the Device Manager, the PCI Simple Communications Controller did not give us any indication as to what it was though.

The solution was pretty simple though:

Intel Support Site

One needed to find out what the device was and download the driver via Intel's support site!

Intel site links: If the download link does not work, then click the link above it to hit Intel's Download Finder site and search for the Management Engine Interface Driver. Many results for the same file will come up.

Install the driver, reboot the system, and the AMT message will now indicate that AMT is enabled if it was during board setup.

UPDATE: Note that for Vista x64 and DQ965GF and DQ35JOE boards, one needs to hit the following download links: Note that the 64bit version in the second link will work for both boards.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Intel Processor Identification Utility - Download

Need a quick way to identify what processor is installed in the box?

Or, in the extremely rare but possible event that the CPU may be acting up, need to test the status of the CPU?

Then the Intel Processor Identification Utility works really well.

It came to us via a support session with Intel a while back.

Here are screenshots of the three tabs available to you:

Frequency Test Tab

CPU Technologies Tab

CPUID Data Tab

The data presented in the screenshots is pretty much self explanatory.

This little tool has helped us out in the past, and we keep an up to date copy on our Technician's Thumb Drive.

Note that the utility checks for updates every six months. Keep in mind that one will need to check the utilitie's version every once in a while, or update when the tool requests it.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Friday 2 November 2007

Outlook 2007 - Deleted Search Folder - Unread Mail

When clicking and moving the mouse way too fast ... I accidentally deleted the Unread Mail folder out of the "Favorite Folders" list in Outlook 2007. It was deleted out of the Search Folders list too.

It did not appear in the Deleted Items folder.

It did not appear in the Recover Deleted Items.

On to search the Web: Microsoft KB 831402: How to troubleshoot Search Folders in Outlook 2007 and in Outlook 2003. In the second bullet:

  • If you have accidentally deleted a Search Folder, manually re-create it. You cannot restore deleted Search Folders from the Deleted Items folder in Outlook 2007 and in Outlook 2003. Additionally, Search Folders are not recoverable. This means that you cannot recover deleted Search Folders with the Recover Deleted Items feature.
Ah, right click on the Search Folders item in Outlook and we get the following:

New Search Folder

We are given a wide variety of variables that we can create at-a-glance queries for. Scroll down to the bottom of the available list and we can create a Custom Search Folder. The search queries can be anything from the person who wrote the item, the size of the item, a date range that items were written in, and a lot more.

This little goof up has reaped a neat little bonus. We now know that we can create any type of query when we want to have an at-a-glance list of items in Outlook.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Blog - Label-Tag Cloud for Blogger

While reading through Chris Rea's Blog I noticed the "Label Cloud".

Since a label/tag cloud is a good way to indicate what subjects are popular on a blog, it seemed like a good feature to add to this one.

It wasn't too difficult to find the Label Cloud code after having a look at Chris' source code.

The source code can be found here: phydeaux3: Code for New Blogger Tag Cloud/Label Cloud. The instructions to setup the code in the Blogger template, along with the code itself, are linked in the post. They are pretty straight forward and provide a number of customizations for the look and feel for the Cloud.

Check it out if you need a Tag/Label Cloud for your Blogger based blog!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

Thursday 1 November 2007

Windows Vista - BitLocker Error - "system boot information has changed"

Now that we have BitLocker enabled on some of our systems, we have run into a real annoying quirck with it:

Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption Information

The system boot information has changed since BitLocker was enabled.

You must supply a BitLocker recovery password to start this system...
When setting up BitLocker, it gets us to create a text file with that password in it. We put that file onto a network share.

This screen is happening every time we boot the system.

Since we are testing things, the machine is not setup on our domain yet.

What we can tell from searching is that we need to make some settings changes to the local machine's Group Policy, or at the domain Group Policy level before enabling BitLocker on any machine attached to the SBS domain.

For a standalone system if BitLocker has already been enabled and the error is showing itself, disable BitLocker, decrypt the system drive, and reset the TPM.

Then do the following:
  1. gpedit.msc
  2. Administrative Templates
  3. Windows Components
  4. BitLocker Drive Encryption
  5. Disable by unchecking all PCR settings BUT 11
  6. Start-->CMD [Enter] (in search)
  7. GPUpdate /force
    A screenshot of the GPEdit.msc changes:

    GPEdit.msc Vista TPM PCR Settings Edited

    Reboot the system, reinitialize the TPM and run the BitLocker Drive Encryption tool to create another key and encrypt the drive.

    You can test that the settings have taken by rebooting the system after pausing the encryption process at 1%. Note that a UAC prompt will happen after clicking the Pause button on the BitLocker encryption process window.

    In our test on the stand alone system, it worked. We were no longer prompted for the BitLocker key when rebooting. We unplugged the system - did not remove the battery - and let it sit a while to make sure. Again, the system came backup without a BitLocker password prompt.

    For an SBS domain attached system where the SBS server has been RipCurled (previous blog post), one would make the settings change to the Windows Vista Group Policy Object from a Vista box logged in as the domain admin.

    Once logged into the Vista workstation and GPMC.msc is run, this is what you will see:

    SBS Vista Group Policy Object

    Note all of the extra Vista related policy settings that are accessible when managing the SBS Vista Group Policy Object from a Windows Vista machine.

    Information on the workaround was found on the TechNet Forums: BitLocker requests encryption key at every reboot.

    The BitLocker Team Blog - which hasn't been updated for a long time ... hint ... hint ...

    By the way, a very critical consideration in all this is: What will happen to the BitLocker setup when a BIOS update is done? We will definitely be watching out for the next JOE update to test that one!

    And secondly, the TPM on both the DQ965GF series and the DQ35JOE are both 1.2 compliant ... meaning that they will work with BitLocker with no issues.

    Philip Elder
    MPECS Inc.
    Microsoft Small Business Specialists

    *All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

    Windows Vista - Enterprise Edition and BitLocker

    For Windows Vista Ultimate one only need download the BitLocker and EFS enhancements via the Ultimate Extras to obtain the BitLocker Drive Preparation Tool.

    When setting up our Windows Vista Ultimate/Enterprise systems we made sure to leave the necessary partition space for the unencrypted boot files that BitLocker requires which is 1.5GB.

    When we ran the BitLocker Drive Encryption utility it told us that the drive was not properly configured to enable BitLocker.

    It seems that things did not work out as we thought from the instructions we read.

    So, we needed the BitLocker Drive Preparation Tool. For Windows Vista Enterprise, we needed to contact Product Support Services (or the Online Concierge) and ask for the following Knowledgebase article: Be specific with them as far as why you are calling. And note that the tool comes in both a 32bit and 64bit version. We obtained both.

    After downloading and installing the tool, we were greeted with the need to "shrink down the C: volume" and create the active volume R: for the BitLocker files:

    BitLocker Drive Preparation Tool

    Once the drive preparation tool finished, we were able to go on and run the BitLocker Drive Encryption Utility.

    Both the 32bit and 64bit versions of this utility are definitely going onto the Technician's Thumb Drives!

    Philip Elder
    MPECS Inc.
    Microsoft Small Business Specialists

    *All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.