Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Mac on SBS - Entourage 2004 Unread View Quirk

Being used to working in Outlook 2007, when the Unread Items view is used, only unread items appear there. Right? :D

Working in Entourage though, the Mail View for Unread items does not work that way out of the box.

So, after going through all of the "Unread" email, one would expect them to "disappear". They do not!

They stayed there grayed out indicating that they are read. On a busy day, that can start to get irritating.

So, off to figure out how to make the read Unread emails "disappear" after reading them.

In the view menu we have this:

An option under the View menu that can be toggled to show unread email only in the Unread folder - or any other folder for that matter. After toggling the unread only view on, voila! No more read Unread messages.

Some days, Macs can be fun! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

SBS - Volume Shadow Copy - OOPs

While the Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) service for network shared documents can be a life saver for deleted or corrupted network based files, it isn't 100% full proof.

For instance, if one just setup My Documents redirection to the server and the user logs in for the first time, the entire contents of their My Documents folder gets moved over to the server. A local database is also kept via Offline Files. What happens if they accidently delete everything before the VSS snapshot on the server is scheduled to run?

If they don't have a backup of their data somewhere, they could be in a real pickle.

It would not be so bad if they were running Windows Vista Business as VSS is also built into Vista. They would at least have a way back. But, with Windows XP they would not.

It is a given that any data located on the network that gets deleted via a user somewhere on the network is gone. Thus we have the Volume Shadow Copy Service.

If there is a server VSS snapshot of the lost data, then at least there is something. If the data was around for a while, then there should be both a VSS snapshot and a backup. In the above case of the deleted My Documents, there was neither.

But, what if the server is too laboured to run VSS snapshots during the day? Then, it may be quite possible that a full days work would be lost in the event of a file deletion or corruption.

In the end, our users have accepted the fact that if a mistake was made, or something happens to kill the data, there may be a setback on their work.

In our case, we try and have solutions in place that place that setback at no more than 24 hours. Depending on how the StorageCraft ShadowProtect Desktop Edition works out, we may be able to reduce that number significantly.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Monday, 30 July 2007

Mac on SBS - Excel:Mac and Excel Windows Inconsistencies

We are in the process of putting together the final draft of a set of technical assessment forms that we will be using for client's job candidates.

The forms are in Excel. They were created in Excel on Windows.

When we create forms in Excel, we always set the column width to 1 for enough columns to hit the .25" margins across the page. We modify it accordingly for forms that need to have .5" margins.

This gives us the flexibility to create forms with fields that are not restricted in their placement because of one big column. If the form is for print only, we don't bother merging the respective fields. If the form is for live data input via a laptop, then the respective cells will be merged and the range labeled.

When we open this particular form in Excel:Mac, we end up with the form being 4 columns (4 points) too wide. The margins and page size are identical on both the Mac and Windows PC. But, something within the Mac version of Excel says the number of columns is too many to fit on the page.

To make it work in Excel:Mac, we have to scale the "Adjust to" 94% in the page setup, and define a page break between the two pages.

They sit side by side, so the page break goes on the left boundary column on the page that sits to the right.

This was definitely unexpected, as we have been working with Word documents back and forth between the Mac and Windows platforms with no issues so far other than constraining Office 2007 to save in the legacy non-XML format.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Mac on SBS - Shades of my University Experiences

Back in my University days, I was chided by those around me for sticking to the PCs, then 286/386, and WordPerfect to write my APA based papers. It was tough to get WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS to follow those strict rules!

Finally, I took a risk and started using the Macs that had Word on them. I don't remember what model they were. All I remember was the fact that they had no buttons anywhere to get my floppy out. They were rectangular with an integrated monitor.

Yes, we moved things around on floppies back then! :D

Why shades of my University experiences on Macs?

There were two separate occasions where a Mac ate my floppy. Both times happened where the paper was due within a day or so, and I was too inexperienced with computers to know about hard copy or backups.

Both times the Help department would do practically nothing for me. And, both times I ended up having to be at the lab doors in the morning to call the help desk to get down there and help me get my disk.

Last night reminded me about those experiences in a very blunt and not-so friendly way.

I am not sure what I did, or did not do, but at some point after about 3-4 hours of working on the Tech Assessment publication, when I Restored (brought up from being minimized) the document I was working it was back to its original state before I had began working on it 3-4 hours earlier. I went on and checked the other documents as well, and they were back to their original state when I started with them too.

In this case, we have an InDesign book that is comprised of six or seven separate InDesign documents. Only the document currently being worked on is showing on the screen in windowed form. The others are all minimized and showing in the Dock.

Using either the Window menu option, or by clicking on the open document icon in the Dock was how I was toggling back and forth between the documents.

So, here I am after 3-4 hours of having setup the document structures, table of contents and its formatting, page numbering, and the like and the documents were essentially empty. All of them.

Again, I am not sure what I did or did not do. But, something happened.

Needless to say, I was not pleased. :(

There is no "Autosave" feature in InDesign that can be seen. There is an "AutoRecovery" setting for a folder on the Mac, but they did not yield anything.

So, an old lesson learned: Hit that "Save" button frequently while working on the iMac.

Much of the time was spent struggling with the formatting, so getting things back to where they were took a third of the time, but it was still painful none the less.

The network location for the data has VSS enabled, but very infrequently on the weekends as we tend not to be working!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Friday, 27 July 2007

Mac on SBS - Connecting a Second LCD Monitor to an iMac

When it comes to connecting things to this iMac, we have been pretty impressed.

Apple certainly has the KISS principle down when it comes to that.

I personally have a workstation with multiple monitors. So, when it comes to sitting in front of this iMac, even with the wide screen real estate, there is something lacking.

So, we purchased the little gizmo needed to connect a second monitor:

Apple's part number is M9321G/B and it is called a Mini-DVI to DVI converter.

There are three styles for this product, Mini-DVI to DVI, VGA, or RCA/S-Video. We picked up all three.

It was initially a bit difficult to find some information until we stumbled onto this article on Apple's Web site: Connecting an external monitor to your iMac's VGA monitor port. This article dealt with the early G3 based iMac models. Not relevant.

But, with that discovery came this one after a quick search of Apple's support site: About the iMac (Early 2006) and iMac (Late 2006) Mini-DVI video out port. To quote:
For DVI displays, use the Apple Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter (M9321G/B).
For VGA displays or projectors use the Apple Mini-DVI to VGA Display Adapter (M9320G/A).
For televisions, projectors or VCRs that use S-video or composite video connectors, use the Apple Mini-DVI to Video Adapter (M9319G/A).
If there is one thing that can be said about searching for Mac related information in the iMac's Help or on the Internet, it is that one must learn the "language". :D

And, coming back to KISS: When the second monitor's DVI cable was plugged into the Apple Mini-DVI converter the iMac's main screen shimmered for a second, and it picked up the second monitor automatically! It didn't even mirror the main display, it extended the desktop. Pretty kewl man.

Oh, and a bit of humble pie: After connecting the second monitor and bringing up the Display Properties via System Preferences, there is a little question mark below the "Rotate: Standard" option. Click it and guess what comes up?
Connecting multiple displays or a projector
You can connect more than one display to your computer. To do so, you'll need a video cable for each display. You may also need an adapter. See the manual that came with your computer or graphics card to find out which video cable and/or adapter you need.
  1. Turn off the displays and the computer.
  2. For each display you want to use, connect a video cable (and adapter, if necessary) from the video output port on your computer or graphics card to the video input port on the display. Make sure the cables are securely connected or you may not be able to see an image on the display.
  3. Turn on the displays and computer.
When you connect multiple displays, they show the same image (called "mirroring"). With some computers, you can also set your displays to extend the desktop, so a different section of your desktop is shown on each display. You can change this setting in the Arrangement pane of Displays preferences.
Again, there is a bit of a language barrier there since the search term used in the Help Search was "connecting multiple monitors".

Now, off to work. Downloaded a trial copy of InDesign CS3 for the Mac. It is just too hot up front to work on the system in there. So, for now I will be in the back where it is cool building our client's Technology Assessment publication here. It will be an interesting comparison to see how things work with the Mac version of InDesign as I have been working on the PC version since the 1.x days of the product.

If you can work in Photoshop, but especially Illustrator, then InDesign will almost be second nature. Even Word 2007, or Publisher 2007 for that matter can't touch InDesign for professional level publishing.

Okay, gotta stop procrastinating! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

SBS - Setup a Public Folders Shared Calendar

This is our method for setting up a shared calendar, contacts list, task list, etc. at the root of the Exchange Public Folders.
  1. Start your web browser on any workstation or the SBS server.
  2. Open: https://mysbsserver/public
  3. Logon as the domain admin
  4. Right click on Public Folders and click New Folder
    Name it and select Appointment Items under the "This folder contains:"
  5. Click OK
  6. Log off of OWA.
We do this because adding the folder via Exchange Management does not give us the ability to share any content. It is strictly a storage folder.

We move on to:
  1. Log onto the SBS server as domain admin.
  2. Under the Server Management Console:
  3. Advanced Management
  4. Right click on First Organization (Exchange) and click on Properties
  5. Put a tick beside both "Display ...."
  6. Click Apply and OK. (You may be warned to close the console)
  7. Close the Server Management Console.
  8. Open it again.
  9. Again, under Advanced Management:
  10. Expand the Exchange organization-->Administrative Groups-->first administrative group-->Folders
  11. Right Click on the above created folder and click on Properties.
  12. Click the Limits tab if you want to set limits to the folder.
  13. Click the Permissions tab.
  14. Click the Client permissions button.
  15. Add and set permissions for those users who need access to this folder.
Now we continue on to configure Outlook.

The process is quite straight forward for adding the new folder to Outlook:
  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Click on the Folders View button.
  3. Navigate to Public Folders-->All Public Folders.
  4. Right click on the folder created above, and "Add to Favorites".
  5. Name the Favorite and click ADD.
  6. Click on the Calendar button in Outlook.
You will now see the newly added calendar under "Other Calendars" in Outlook.

The user will be able to click on it and work with their own calendar and the shared calendar side by side.

Permissions on the folder can be quite granular. Be very careful about giving people Delete permissions on ALL items other than their own. Only a couple of key people who understand the process should have that permission.

It is also important to let the users know that updates to the shared calendar will not necessarily be reflected at the other workstations that are connected to it right away. It sometimes takes a bit of time before updates are shown across the organization.

This process is essentially the same for all types of Exchange Public Folders shared items.

For larger organizations, adding folders at the root may make sense for organizing their content.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Mac on SBS Saturation?

My Dad pointed out to me last night that there were certainly a large number of Mac on SBS posts as opposed to anything Windows related.

It is a good point now that I am looking at the recently posted list.

We are just in the process of finishing up a Technology Assessment for a new client that is about 80-90% Mac saturated. As a result, we needed to make sure we understand how the Mac platform would interact with an SBS based infrastructure.

So far, it has been quite straight forward.

Once we are finished the assessment, and move towards implementing the SBS infrastructure there, things will return to our Windows/SBS Server bias! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Mac on SBS - Creating a VPN connection to SBS

It is unfortunate that we are not able to get connected a Terminal Services session via the Remote Web Workplace on our iMac.

It would not be feasible to have 10 Macs connected via RRAS on any given day. This would be a bandwidth killer.

But, on occasion, a connection to the server for management may be needed, or a user may need access to their XP Pro/Vista Business box at work and they have a Mac at home.

To get around this, we need to create a PPTP VPN connection to the server.

To do this:
  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click on Applications.
  3. Double click on Internet Connect.asp.
  4. You will be presented with the following window:

  5. Click on the VPN Lock.
  6. "Your computer needs to be set up to make VPN connections." Click on PPTP.
  7. Authenticate by inputting your Mac access password if requested.
  8. Set the server address: mysbsserver.mydomain.com
  9. Put your SBS login name in "Account Name".
  10. Enter your login password.
  11. Click on the Connect button.
  12. Start the Remote Desktop Client and connect using the FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name: mysbsbox.myinternallan.lan).
This is a quick, in-a-pinch, kind of solution.

One would think that it would be possible to connect to a shared company folder as well. But, so far we are not able to connect to the remote SBS box over the VPN. This is by either clicking on the Network icon in Finder, or typing the FQDN of the SBS server in the Search.

A little bit more research is in order because Apple's Web site indicates that it should be possible: Windows: Join the Network.

Ah, here we go: Subject: Viewing Shares via VPN PPTP Mac OSX to SBS 2000.

We need to click Go and Connect to Server in finder and enter: smb://netbiosnameofmyserver/. We also need to make sure to have followed the connect a Mac to SBS instructions about disabling SMB signing on the SBS box! And, there we go! :D

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Mac on SBS - Locking that "Screen"

We are so used to CTRL+ALT+Delete then Lock here in the shop that it was a bit puzzling that a quick method to lock the iMac was seemingly missing.

Terminology was the first stumbling block when searching for the answer. We are not locking the system, we are locking the "screen". :D

Once we figured out what we needed to be looking for, it was a pretty quick fix.

We needed to turn on a little lock icon that appears in the menu bar (at the top of the Mac's screen).

This is the process:
  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click on Applications.
  3. Click on the Utilities folder.
  4. Open Keychain Access.
  5. Click on Keychain Access in the Menu Bar and go to Preferences.
  6. Put a tick mark beside "Show Status in Menu Bar".

  7. Close the Keychain preferences window.
  8. A little lock appears on the Menu bar.

  9. Click on it and you are presented with the following menu:

  10. Click on the "Lock Screen" to start the screen saver.
Now, we have set a password to every user account that has access to this iMac. All of the user accounts should have user passwords set to them.

Also, we have made sure to enable the security setting that requires a password to wake the computer:

With these steps in place, we are free to walk away from any work we may be doing on the iMac once we "lock the screen".

Remember, if you need to walk away from the computer for more than 10 minutes it is always a good idea to save and close the work being done. Just in case!

Thanks to SurfBits: Leaving your Mac unattended? Here is a quick tip to lock it up.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Mac on SBS - PDF Creation is Built into OS X

We are currently on 10.4.10 of OS X Tiger.

One of the neat built-in features that is available is the ability to generate a PDF file from any application that can print.

There is no extra utility to hunt down if looking for freeware, or expensive software to buy to enable this feature.

The process is very simple. In the item that needs to be PDF generated:
  1. Click on File then Print.
  2. Click on the PDF button.

  3. Click on "Save as PDF ..."
  4. Name the new PDF document.

  5. Done
The process is not unlike many PDF creators on the PC platform.

Sometimes it is the little things that make a product experience that much better. This is one of those times.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Business Principles: Meeting Etiquette

Our attitude, disposition, presence, and attire say a lot about who we are and whom we represent.

When we are in a meeting with a client or potential client, the above can make or break their impression of us or our impression of them.

We all know that there is a competition for our attention.

However, the person, or the matter we are focused upon while in a meeting also says a lot about who we are.

There are a number of visual clues that can indicate who or what our priorities are:
  • A PDA/messaging device sitting face up in front of us so we can see its messages.
  • A PDA/messaging device that is left in vibrate mode.
  • Sending a text message while the meeting is going on.
  • Answering or initiating a cell phone conversation.
  • And so on...
There are legitimate client, or other, needs that may necessitate giving some of our attention to our devices while in the meeting such as:
  • A client's server being nursed back to health.
  • A client data recovery going on.
  • A client critical situation of some sort.
A courtesy to the others in the meeting would be to ask everyone before the meeting starts if they would please excuse a possible interruption because we have a critical situation on the go. An additional courtesy would be to give a short reason for the possible interruption.

These simple courtesies will go a long way towards winning a deep respect from those present in the meeting with us.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Mac on SBS - The iMac was unhappy yesterday :(

While working around the shop yesterday, the iMac stopped suddenly.

We have the sound output connected to a good set of Altec Lansing speakers so we can have music piped into the shop area via iTunes.

It had been in screen saver mode with the tunes going for quite a while when all of a sudden there was quiet in the shop.

When we realized it, this is what we found on the iMac's screen:

You need to restart your computer. Hold down the Power button for several seconds or press the Restart button.
There is nothing really innocuous installed on this iMac. Other than the software that came with the OS, there is Microsoft Office, Microsoft Messenger which has yet to be punched through ISA, and a Parallels installation with a Vista Business VM.

That's it folks.

After the subsequent reboot, this is what we were presented with once logged in:

Problem Report for Mac OS X
Problem and system information:

panic(cpu 0 ...) ...
I do like that first word in the problem report: panic! :D

Like Microsoft, Apple has a built in reporting feature. So, like we do with Microsoft's products, we sent the report off to Apple. No "problem solved" message came back though. :P

Up until this system lockup, the iMac has been running steadily with only a few other application crashes.

When updates require it the iMac gets rebooted. This happens a couple times a week from what we can tell so far. Essentially, it has been running constantly since we bought it.

So, it is becoming a little clearer that even Macs have a few glitches.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Mac on SBS - The Wireless Keyboard

Like the Mighty Mouse, the wired keyboard that came with this iMac has seen better days.

Keys were very sticky and sometimes fired twice on the "i" which kinda drove me nuts when trying to get a note or post together quickly.

The new Apple Wireless Keyboard utilizes Bluetooth to accomplish its communication tasks with the iMac.

Again, the setup was flawless.

There was one extra step in the keyboard's setup versus the Wireless Mighty Mouse though: We had to type in a key code to finalize the keyboard's connection with the iMac.

Once that was done, the new keyboard was connected and working. The wired keyboard as well as the old Mighty Mouse are now a shop spares!

The key action is significantly better on the new wireless keyboard versus the old wired one. The old one may have had a few close encounters with some soft drinks! :D

All in all, the wireless keyboard is a good option.

With it, and the Wireless Mighty Mouse, cable clutter is all but eliminated.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Looking for a business success story? Look no further than WestJet

Calgary Alberta based WestJet is a discount airline that has been in operation since 1996.

They were profitable while the rest of the industry was crying after 9/11. They have the ability to weather the storms within their industry.

There are a number of reasons why they can weather those storms:
  • Unquestionable customer focus: The customer is #1.
  • Provide an unrivaled flight experience from terminal to terminal.
  • Every employee receives 2 profit share cheques a year.
  • Excellent employee benefits.
  • A truly "team" based business culture.
We fly WestJet. We don't look to the other carrier and its "discount" carrier divisions.

Why? Poor in-flight experiences. Too much internal strife between the company and its employees. That strife shows in the service, or lack thereof.

WestJet went from 3 aircraft flying to 5 destinations in Western Canada to 66 aircraft flying 64 destinations in 12 countries. Their approximate revenues will be in the order of $1.8 billion.

If you know anyone interested in a career in the airline industry, WestJet is definitely one company to check out.

From the CBC: Beddoe stepping down as WestJet CEO, will remain as chairman.

Congratulations to Mr. Clive Beddoe and the other co-founders of WestJet!

For me personally, Mr. Beddoe and WestJet are definitely role models for those who aspire to grow their own company in a healthy manner: Customer and employee focused. They are role models for me.

WestJet's home page.

WestJet's Job Page.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Monday, 23 July 2007

Mac on SBS - The Wireless Mighty Mouse

We just received a Bluetooth wireless Mighty Mouse to replace the rather tired wired Mighty Mouse that came with this iMac.

Our current Mighty Mouse required a good amount of alcohol to get its little scroll ball rolling and reading properly again. But, like anything else, alcohol can only get you so far ... or not! ;)

Wow, what a nice feel to the new wireless Mighty Mouse.

The Mighty Mouse in general has a really nice shape. It fits very well in the hands.

The batteries are sitting about 40/60 within the wireless mouse with the bias towards the rear of the mouse. This gives the mouse a very firm and precise feel to it. It is seemingly well balanced in its action and feel.

The really neat thing about it was its install.

The iMac has a Bluetooth radio built into it.

The install was a number of clicks to start the device detection in the Bluetooth manager, pair the mouse with the iMac, and voila! The install is done. Simple. No drivers to muck around with.

Very smooth.

The new mouse definitely improves the MacLand experience. :D

It is definitely a recommended upgrade for anyone looking to replace their current wired Mighty Mouse.

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: Vista Aero Performance Rating - ATI X1650 512 MB PCI-E

We just received a system configured as follows:
  • Intel BOXDQ965GF series motherboard.
  • Intel Q6600 2.4 GHz Core 2 Quad CPU.
  • 2 GB Kinston DDR2.
  • Sapphire ATI X1650 Pro PCI-E 512 MB video.
  • Antec Sonata III Chassis.
The system has the newest ATI Catalyst driver installed.

We ran the Windows System Assessment Tool to establish the Windows Vista video performance for the X1650 Pro.

Here is a screen shot of the scores:

The Desktop performance for Windows Aero for this video card scored a very respectable 4.5 and a 3D business and gaming graphics performance score of 4.9.

This is a pretty good step up from the ATI X1550 Aero performance score of 3.4 and a 3.8 for 3D business and gaming graphics performance.

It is looking more and more like the entry level video cards available from ATI are more than capable of running the Aero Glass among other demanding 3D requirements.

In one of our earliest tests, we pitted an X850 series PCI-E video card in a P4 HT system against an X1300 configured in an E6400 Core 2 Duo based system. This side-by-side comparison made it clear that the CPU had very little influence over the video card's performance scores. The X850 kicked butt! :D

The Sapphire X1650 Pro PCI-E 512 MB video card is now our de facto choice for our corporate systems. It as very good value for the money.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Hobbies: I blend to relax :)

Robert Clayton Dean who is the main character in Enemy of the State:
I blend to relax.
That line as always stuck with me. Blending is something I have always enjoyed doing. It can be really rewarding or at times quite disastrous. Great movie BTW.

A neat summer drink that came of this weekend's relaxing blend: :D

Needed things:
  • Blender.
  • Two (2) trays of ice.
  • Filtered water.
  • Three (3) scoops of orange crystals (we use Tang).
  • 5 scoops of all natural vanilla ice cream.
  • A small portion of 7-Up.
When I was young, my grandmother used to give us a wide variety of floats during the hot Winnipeg summer months. This weekend's creation ass is based on one of my favourite floats: the Orange Zinger.

Here is the process:
  1. Place the ice in the blender.
  2. Give the container a shake to set the ice.
  3. Fill the blender until the water is about 1" or 1.5cm below the ice level.
  4. Add the 3 scoops of orange crystals.
  5. Crush mixture until it is slushy.
  6. Test flavour, add more drink crystals if needed and blend until well mixed.
  7. Add the ice cream to the mix and a bit of milk if needed.
  8. Blend until the right consistency.
  9. Add more ice cream if required and blend again.
  10. Pour the contents into frozen cups, leaving about a fifth of the volume empty.
  11. Fill the balance of the volume with the 7-Up.
  12. Add a good sized straw and serve.
This will serve approximately 2 large steins or 4-5 small kid's sized ones.

This drink is best served in the type of glass that has the ability to be frozen to keep its contents cool. This keeps the drink consistent a lot longer than a standard glass.

All work and no play makes Johnny or Janey a dull boy or girl. :D

Enjoy the summer folks! We are having a really hot one up here.

UPDATE Today: Okay, my Freudian slip is showing. :) LOL

My apologies for letting the expletive slip by. Changes made.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Business Principles: Learn to listen ... Or else!

How many of us have sat in a meeting or with someone at coffee or the like and listened to them complaining that their I.T. service provider was just not cutting it.

Some of the common threads in those conversations about the I.T. provider are:
  • They just won't listen.
  • They have a concept of what we need, not our concept.
  • They just don't seem to get it.
  • We ask for a specific service or task and they keep doing a bunch of other stuff.
  • They don't ask for permission to do things on our network.
  • They make changes to our network setup without telling us ... or at least until we call them and ask them what happened!
  • We asked them to do something and things have never been the same since.
And so on.

Like any relationship, the business relationship - that is our I.T. company working with the client company - will have a large number of health clues.

"Great job man!" Or, "You guys did exactly what we needed, thank you!" These kinds of responses to our work let us know that things are on the up-and-up.

One of the most fruitful ways to maintain the client relationship is in the followup. We must continually follow up with our clients to make sure that things are still on the up-and-up. After providing that product or service, a phone call to check on them will pay huge rewards.

As a result of our pro-active approach, we receive the trust, appreciation, and an ongoing relationship with our clients.

However, if we are receiving complaints, or "cold fronts" from our client contact, or perhaps the lack of any contact from them, then surely we must realize that there is a problem.

This process can be very difficult for the person in the I.T. company that manages that client's account. Why? Because it is time to swallow the horse pills of "Humility" and "Responsibility".

We all make mistakes, we all let things fall through the cracks. Even those with the most efficient internal resource tracking systems in place such as ConnectWise have those issues.

There is no excuse for a mistake - which is fixable - or an error - which is not fixable - whether intentional or accidental. This perspective is very important in the company-client relationship. There are no excuses.

So, we go to that meeting with the client who is currently upset with us about something. We sit through the meeting and listen. We take notes. We ask questions to develop the client's perspective on what is going on.

Feeling defensive? Bite your tongue.

If the situation is not critical in nature, the client may be willing to allow us a few days to digest what was said in the meeting. Do not leave that meeting without scheduling a followup appointment!

Some very important things that must happen at some point during the initial meeting:
  • Apologize!
  • Accept responsibility for the actions of your company's representatives!
  • Ask, "how we can make things right?"
  • If the issue is critical in nature, indicate to the client that you would start fixing it now and count the cost later.
  • Make a point of noting to the client that the person(s) who were responsible for the mess would be a part of the solution (if the client will allow for it).
  • If the case warrants, "We understand, given the nature of the situation, that your company may no longer be willing to work with us. I do hope that this would not be the case, but we would accept that."
Once there has been time to digest the client's position, the scheduled followup meeting is the time to present a Restitution Offer. This offer should be genuine in nature, and reflect the gravity of the offense given. In other words, it should hurt too.

The client should be totally free to accept or reject the Restitution Offer.

By following these business relationship maintenance and crisis management guidelines, we will be better able to work with the mistakes that we make, present to our clients the genuine face of responsibility, and further deepen our relationship with them by remaining culpable for our actions.

Tough pill to swallow eh? :D

A crisis situation should never get to the point where the client will hire someone else to clean up the mess. The I.T. company that messed up is dead in the water if this happens.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Friday, 20 July 2007

StorageCraft - ShadowProtect Preliminary Observations - V2V

We have been so busy here, it has been difficult to find time to work with StorageCraft's ShadowProtect products that we received in our Reseller Kit last month.

We are now having to utilize it out of necessity. :D

One of our virtual XP Pro desktops has maxed out its VHD capacity. This is a mission critical desktop, so we are looking to the ShadowProtect Workstation Edition to remedy the problem.

This particular process is called a V2V, that is Virtual to Virtual. We will be creating an image from the original Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) and then restoring that image to a new larger VHD.

We started by booting from the ShadowProtect Workstation Edition CD. We are greeted by an option menu that defaults to booting from the hard disk if no key is hit. So, after choosing to boot into the StorageCraft Recovery Environment (SRE) with Standard Drivers, the process was pretty simple from there.

We accepted the option to have network connectivity established in the SRE. This option is the timed out default for the SRE.

Once into the SRE, we were able to click on the Network Configuration link and establish a mapped drive to one of our server shares by entering a domain UNC, a username, and password.

We then created a backup image of the VM and stored it on the network via the mapped drive with the Backup Wizard.

The image creation process took about an hour for around 30 GB. Performance will vary by CPU and storage medium.

In the Virtual Server 2005 management console, we created a new Dynamic VHD, detached the existing VHD, and attached the new VHD.

We then booted the VM into the SRE again, and set the network configuration to connect to the share where the StorageCraft image is stored. Once that was done, we started the Restore Wizard.

When restoring the image, the new hard drive will not be formatted, so in the partition chooser one will need to right click on the new VHD and create a new partition with all available space. Miss that step, and ShadowProtect will insist that a partition be created first. The partition chooser will be similar to the Backup Wizard's partition chooser above.

If the Undo Disks feature is enabled on the VM, turn it off before beginning the restore operation. One can enable the feature again after the process has completed.

The whole process from start to finish took a couple of hours and it was successful! We now have a fully functional VM with increased space on its VHD.

Score one for StorageCraft's ShadowProtect! The process was very simple and painless! :D

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: HW or Virtual Machine Performance Tip - Seperate Swap Partition or VHD

One of the most significant contributors to Virtual Machine (VM) performance degradation and Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) bloat is fragmentation.

To keep performance optimized in the VM, we create a separate VHD just for the swap file for all of our VMs. Running the defragment utility on a regular basis is also important.

This has been a mandatory practice for us on all physical machines for a very long time. In the case of our workstations and servers they get a 5 GB or 10 GB partition at the end of the system drive respectively for this task.

Most nominal use workstations - read Office and e-mail usage - may not see an outright benefit from the separate swap file setup, but in the long run having the swap file on its own keeps things relatively clean on the OS partition. This is especially important for those machines that go out the door and are not heard from for a long time. A little defragmentation training and a simple mention to the client that the S: drive is there for performance and system stability and they tend to take care of it.

In the case of the VMs that we setup, the situation is similar. But, in the case of VMs we make sure to put the swap file, or in the case of SBS Premium the swap file and the ISA URL Cache, on a separate VHD. This helps to reduce fragmentation in the primary OS partition/VHD as well as bloat if both OS and Swap/Cache partitions were contained in the same VHD.

Here is what we think is a good image to use when explaining what happens with a system that has fragmented files:
  • You have one really big filing cabinet for all of those files.
  • The files have to be put in sequential order from the top down.
  • Only 16 pages allowed per folder going into the drawer.
  • Files must be put into the drawers or taken out of the cabinet by the folder - no individual page work allowed.
  • If a folder is removed from one of the top drawers, the next folder that needs to go in replaces it. No saving places.
  • A file of 24 pages will be split up into 2 folders and placed in available drawer spaces.
  • And so on.
This image will help people understand what happens when the system has files all over the place and how that will kill performance on the machine.

Just ask them to think about needing to grab a file that is 30 folders in size and they are spread across 4 drawers. They get it pretty quick! ;)

One other method to reduce VHD bloat is to "Compact" the VHD. As I understand it, this removes the zeros from within the VHD and thus reduces the physical size of it as well as improving performance. For high usage VMs, this is a mandatory process that one can script.

Microsoft Virtual Server Links:For small shops like us, Virtualization Rocks. It gives us the ability to increment the CPU power, RAM, and storage to accommodate a number of VMs that would otherwise have cost us a lot more in physical machines per OS, power consumption for the systems and the cooling, and actual floor space for storage of the machines.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Mac on SBS - Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 Screen Shots

We purchased our Office 2004 for Mac via Open Value licensing. That means that we will receive the new Office 2008 for Mac when it is released.

Here are some screen shots of the new Office: tuaw.caom - The Unofficial Apple Weblog: Office 2008 for the Mac screenshots.

Mac Mojo: The Office for Mac Team Blog. Keep up with what's happening on the Office for Mac front. Posts to the blog should get more frequent as the product gets closer RTM.

I do hope we see a huge improvement in Entourage's Exchange integration! :D

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Vista SA - MS Desktop Optimization Pack for SA Just Arrived!

I am pretty excited! One of our Windows Vista Software Assurance media package just arrived.

The Administrator's Pack Pak from Winternals.com (forwards on to an MS site) is included in the the Desktop Optimization Pack for SA benefits.

The Admin Pack Pak from Winternals was about $1,200US, if I recall correctly, to purchase before Microsoft acquired Winternals in July of 2006.

Now, it is less than $25 per year per Vista workstation covered by Software Assurance. Not only that, there is a huge bundle of other utilities, tools, and management capabilities included as well.

Microsoft has definitely made Software Assurance for Windows Vista a very attractive add-on with this new SA bundle.

Also, there is an excellent text one can get on the Winternals portion of the Desktop Optimization Pack: Winternals: Defragmentation, Recovery, and Administration Field Guide. It can be had from your favourite bookseller.

Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack site.

UPDATE 2007-07-19: My eyes must be crossed. It is the Winternals Administrator's Pak (No "C").

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

SBS - Some Real World UPS - Power :) - Experiences

We have a really insane storm going on outside right now. Lots of lightning with the thunder literally shaking the building.

We have been having unusually hot weather here, and that has lead to some really neat storms.

So, what happens when the power goes out?

Have you tested your UPS setup to see if the "shutdown the server" after so many minutes actually gives the SBS box time to shutdown properly?

We all may know that if we don't stop the Exchange services before a reboot, that reboot can take a long time. Especially on the older SBS installs and hardware boxes.

The same goes for the shutdown sequence initiated by the UPS software.

An improper SBS shutdown can have unpredictable consequences.

Once the power comes back up, is the server's BIOS setting changed from "Last State" or "Power Off" to "Power On"? If that setting has not been changed to power the server back up after the power outage, someone will need physical access to the box or we are on our way down to the client's location to power it up and make sure that everything comes up normally.

Here is our typical experience with the APC UPS products we install with our SBS servers:
  • 2U SUA1500 VA: Dual Xeon 51xx 5U Series + 6-10 drives: ~9-14 minutes.
  • RS 1000 VA: Pentium 4 HT + 4 drives: 7-10 minutes
  • RS 1500 VA: Pentium D + 4 drives: 9-12 minutes
Those numbers are on the somewhat conservative side as server power consumption, therefore run time, can vary by the time of day when the power outage happens.

We typically install a separate 700-1500 VA UPS for the ADSL/Cable modem, router if there, and other network infrastructure leaving a dedicated UPS to each server.

Power backup solutions vary by client and their needs. Always be aware of how much revenue a client looses for each hour of downtime! For some of our larger engineering, architectural, and accountant firm clients the cost of downtime can be in the thousands of dollars per hour range.

This is a great opportunity to generate some billable time with your clients. Also, having an inventory/audit of the client's infrastructure will provide a quick method to run through and see who has what UPS installed where and how old they are.

Give the client a call about the need to test the UPS infrastructure, and pop in when the time is convenient for the client and start pulling those UPS plugs.

A short battery life is essentially a dead battery. It is then time to replace the battery if the UPS is younger than 2-3 years or replace the UPS if it is older than 2-3 years.

WikipediA for UPS: Uninterruptible Power Supply.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Security Vulnerabilities at a Glance

We support multiple platforms.

Everything from our SBS based networks, to W2K3 Web Edition based hosting services that have MySQL/PHP running on top of them.

Because we see such a variety of different products at our client's locations as well as within our own orgnanization, it is a good idea to keep an eye on what products are vulnerable to what exploits and their patch status.

Here is a broad list of vulnerabilities: Security Focus Vulnerabilities List. The list is searchable and can be delimited by manufacturer, title, and version.

Microsoft Specific: It was a little tougher to find security related product news on Apple's site. This is definitely one area that Apple can learn from the Linux, *BSDs, and Microsoft camps who have dedicated security sites for their specific products.

From what can be found on Apple's site: Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

System Builder Tip: System integration on the Antec P180B

When integrating a system into the Antec P180B chassis, one needs to be aware of a bit of a manufacturing quirck if that last slot is going to be needed.

In this case, we put together an Intel based X6800 on an Intel BadAxe D975XBX motherboard. ATI X1900 CrossFire and X1900XTX PCI-E video round out the system. CoolMax provides 1 KiloWatt of power and Zalman will be keeping the processor cool.

With the two ATI video cards covering pretty much every slot except the last PCI slot, that was the only place the Creative Audigy X-Fi sound card could go:

This is where we ran into the snafu. There is a folded piece of metal just behind the slot opening that the sound card's bracket should be passing through.

It took some "fancy" dremel work and a bit of prying with a flat blade screwdriver to get the card to settle into place properly:

On this particular build, there were a number of the hard drive rubber isolator grommets that were missing from the box. A call to Antec's support line and a few days later we had the requisite number of grommets to install the hard drives.

Besides having good quality chassis products, Antec's post sales support has been really good to us when needed.

Antec's Web Site.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Adobe Photoshop CS2 - Multiprocessor Update

Did you know that there was an update to Photoshop on both Mac and Windows platforms for improved multi-processor support?

The update improves Photoshop's utilization of the new multi-core CPUs.

Update: Multiprocessor Support for Adobe Photoshop CS2 for Windows.

Update: Adobe Photoshop CS MultiProcessor Support update (Mac).

There are also similar updates for earlier versions of Photoshop.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Monday, 16 July 2007

Windows XP - .NET Update & Install/Uninstall Errors

This was a tough one to work through as there is not a whole heck of a lot of information out there on these errors.

Here is the one we are dealing with today:

Windows Update Agent: Event ID 20, Installation Failure: Windows failed to install the following update with error 0x80070643: Security Update for Microsoft .NET Framework, Version 2.0 (KB928365)
It turns out that a combination of the suggestions we came across worked for us on this particular error.

Add/Remove did not work as we got this when we tried to reinstall, repair, or uninstall it:

The following error occurred during setup:

Patch package could not be opened. Verify that the patch package exists and that you can access it, or contact the application vendor to verify that this is a valid Windows Installer Patch.
Okay, the instructions on Aaron's site to extract the .msi package didn't work to get .NET to repair or uninstall.

So, on to the next steps:
  1. Download KB 290301: Windows Installer CleanUp Utility.
  2. Install the utility.
  3. Run the utility and remove the .NET version causing the problem.
  4. Start-->Run-->Installer [Enter]
  5. Click View-->Details, then Right Click the Date Modified header and select Comments.
  6. Sort by the Comments by clicking on that header item.
  7. Find the file commented with .NET Framework # and Right Click then Uninstall it. Note that if the relevant file is not found move on to the next step.
  8. Start-->Run-->System32 [Enter].
  9. Delete the folder URTTemp and rename the file mscoree.dll to something like mscoree.dll.bak.
  10. Start-->Run-->Microsoft.NET [Enter].
  11. Rename the .NET version you are after if it cannot be deleted.
  12. Clear out the %windir%\temp folder.
  13. Clear out the user profile temp directory: C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Temp.
  14. Reboot the System
  15. Run a fresh install of .NET 2.0 for x86 in this case (link to the download page).
This is what we were greeted with when the install of .NET 2.0 ran:

Once the install was finished, a reboot later, and the .NET 2.0 updates took okay. This process will need to be repeated for .NET 1.1 too as there are update errors for it.


Aaron Stebner's WebLog: .NET Framework SP Setup Issues was very helpful.

The above checklist was mostly based on Charity Downham's post on EggHeadCafe.com with some blending of suggestions from Aaron's blog post. EggHeadCafe.com: Error when installing .net framework 1.1.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

SBS - Vista Based Group Policy Management Reminder

We are in the process of fine tuning some GP setups for Remote Desktops based on Windows Vista Business.

We set the GP setting for remote shutdowns to only be allowed by Domain Admins. This setting was placed in a domain level linked GPO we create for the non-SBS specific security settings called: Default Domain Security Policy.

But, when a non-domain admin remote user hits the "Windows Security" Vista based Start Menu option, they are presented with:

See that little red button on the bottom right hand side? They should not be seeing that. By clicking on it, they can shutdown the VM, the actual Remote Desktop server if it is a 1U dedicated box, or their local workstation. Windows XP does not show a shutdown option at all.

Not a good thing for the next person who needs access is it? 8*O

So, since we have a Vista dedicated policy on SBS now, and any machine based on Windows Vista should not be able to be shut down remotely, we will enable that setting.

When working on GP settings that are specific to Windows Vista, most changes must be done from a Vista based workstation. One must logon to the workstation as domain admin, open GPMC.msc from the search bar or Run command, and navigate through to the settings that need to be changed.

GPMC from via Windows Vista:

The first time one clicks on a GPO, the following notice will come up:

You have selected a link to a Group Policy Object (GPO). Except for changes to link properties, changes you make here are global to the GPO, and will impact all other locations where this GPO is linked.
In other words, any changes made to the GPO will be implemented at the Domain level.

And now, we run into a bit of a problem.

Run GPEdit.msc on the local Visa machine, and there it is! The setting is implemented to not allow anyone to shut the system down remotely. But, the little red button is still there and the user can still run the shutdown command from within the command prompt.

There is an explanation, whether we are missing a Vista specific GP setting elsewhere, or it is an actual GP related bug in Vista. The Windows XP machines and VMs picked up the settings with no problems.

The puzzling thing is that we can move the user out of the local admin group into the RD Users group and they can still shut the system down! That is a real predicament as they no longer have admin rights!

We are turning to the Partner based News Groups for the next step. As soon as we know, you will! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Buyer Beware: Credit Card Receivables?

We are getting phone nagged by a company that offers to fund us via our credit card receivables.

Having checked into their site: merchantcashdirect.com and trying to find out particulars, there doesn't seem to be any.

The representative was deliberately vague when questioned about how the system works. Other than they measure 4 months of credit card volume then front us up to 130% and don't charge an interest fee I couldn't get anything else out of the representative.

By the way, they charge a "Factoring Rate" on the amount they would give us. Using that terminology tells me that they are avoiding the Canadian Law mandated interest rate structures.

So, we would get our credit card receivables less the card provider's cut every night on close. So, I don't understand what exactly it is that they are selling?

Other than perhaps using our credit card receivables as collateral for what is really a loan.

When pressed on the Factoring Rate and repayment terms, the representative would only tell me that an associate would get back to me with that info.

Um, no thanks.

Folks, all sorts of alarm bells - as in the spidey sense - are ringing here.

Be very, very careful with any kind of offer of cash up front that seemingly looks too good to be true. In all respects, 99.999% of the time the "deal" turns out to be a really shiny but rotten to the core apple.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Adobe Design Center - Video Tutorials

We build all of our client publications, Technical Assessment books, as well as our own in-house publication needs on the Adobe Creative Suite Premium. We are currently on version CS2 and are looking to upgrade to CS3 shortly.

In the process of investigating the differences between the CS versions, we stumbled on a great Adobe tutorial resource for their products: Adobe Create Suite 3 Video Workshop.

Not only is this a great marketing ploy, it truly provides good product feature information to those who are investigating the products, and it helps those who already use the products to augment their skills.

An important spin-off to providing these tutorials is to generate a genuine interest in those viewing them to look into in-person classroom or in-house training.

Excellent! :D

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

A back door to Microsoft PSS so to speak...

We have a number of clients where their servers are buried in a large closet or back room area with no phone access and a dead cell signal.

When we need to talk to Product Support Services, this can be a real problem as the nearest office with a phone can sometimes be further down the hall than the bathroom!

So, in some cases we bring our own 5.8 GHz wireless phone with us. Never bring a 2.4 GHz wireless phone with you. Why? Because the base station is powerful enough to disrupt your client's wireless B/G which is also running at 2.4 GHz. That means dropped network sessions for the client, and scratchy signals for the support person you are trying to talk to.

During a client's peak season, this may not be possible as they won't want their fax service interrupted.

So, what to do?

When Windows Server 2003 was introduced, Microsoft introduced a neat web service called the Windows Server 2003 Online Concierge.

The service was intended to help those upgrading to Windows Server 2003 as mentioned in the Web site's description.

During one of those times in the closet where we had no means of communicating with Microsoft, we took a chance on the Concierge service. We needed a hotfix to fix a troublesome server situation.

After connecting, the situation was explained to the attendant - a real person by the way - and they got us to hang on a minute. When they came back, they had the Knowledge Base entry before them, and they made sure that we were both on the same page so to speak.

The concierge then e-mailed a set of links to download the hotfix and made sure that we could get access to the hotfix and unlock it. Sometimes the PSS e-mail may get caught in the spam filters, so it is important to watch for it in the Junk Mail folder.

All in all, this extra door into Product Support Services can be a huge help. Keep it in mind if you are in a location where there is no phone or cell coverage and are in need of a hotfix.

Link: Windows Server 2003 Online Concierge.

We suggest bookmarking it, and getting to know the title so that it can be accessed by a one click search.

The IEEE 802.11 wireless specification on Wikipedia.

UPDATE 2007-07-21: We needed the hotfix for the post W2K3 SP2 install on SBS for the broken Help and Support. PSS via phone was a holder's nightmare.

So, off to the Concierge and within 10 minutes the hotfix was in my Inbox!

It works! :D

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Friday, 13 July 2007

SBS 2K3 - All Versions: Getting to know your servers...

We all get to know the temperaments of our client's servers as we monitor their reports on a daily basis.

We get to know which ones sit behind shoddy Internet connections as there are a number of POP3 Connector errors on a regular basis.

We can see security warnings, audit warnings and the like.

However, there are a couple of key ways we can further get to know our SBS boxes and their peculiarities.

One is to setup the Task Manager so that we can get a more thorough look at what is happening on the SBS box at a glance:

Keeping an eye on things as they are happening is a good way to get a deeper feel for how the various components of the server operate.

To do this:
  1. Open Task Manager
  2. Click View
  3. Select Columns
    Click the following (I forget which ones are there by default so excuse any duplication):
    1. PID
    2. CPU Usage
    3. CPU Time
    4. Memory Usage
      Memory Usage Delta
    5. Peak Memory Usage
    6. I/O Read bytes
    7. User Name
      Virtual Memory Size
    8. I/O Write Bytes
    9. I/O Other bytes
    10. Click OK
Once you are done clicking, it should look like the following:

Another "at a glance" tool is BGInfo by SysInternals.

Here is a shot of our TechNet Plus software SBS Premium based testbed/lab with the utility's image as a desktop background:

The above is one of the first things seen when logging on to the SBS box before the Server Management Console comes up.

An .ini file for BGInfo can be stored somewhere on the network and used to provide all of the servers on the network with the same settings. This provides a convenient way for us to see the same info on all of the servers.

SysInternal's Utilities Index.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Thursday, 12 July 2007

SBS 2K3 - All Versions: A further GP setting when setting up Remote Desktop Servers

Further to a Couple of GP settings for setting up Remote Desktop Servers post, there is another setting that is also important:

Disable the "Remove Windows Security item from the Start menu" GP setting. Make the change in the SBS Client Computer GPO.

This makes sure that the "Windows Security" option is available on the Start Menu. When it is there, one can train those who use the Remote Desktop servers or connect to their workstations at the office to lock their Remote Desktop session when they need to walk away from it for a couple of minutes.

It does not matter where that user is, they must lock that system before walking away.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Windows 2003 Service Pack 2 - Intel ProSet teaming broken.

We got called in to a client's location because they could not figure out why their server was no longer connected to anything after a bunch of updates. It turns out that one of the updates was Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2.

After a bit of investigation it was discovered that the adapters were showing that they were part of an adapter team, but there was no team entry in the Network Connections folder.

This is how the setup should look for the Intel ProSet adapter teaming:
LAN Adapter 1 (Connected)
LAN Adapter 2 (Connected)
LANTeam 1 (Connected) in fault tolerance mode.

After Server 2003 SP 2 it looked like:
LAN Adapter 1 (Connected)
LAN Adapter 2 (Connected)

Because it is the LANTeam adapter that has all of the actual network bindings attached to it, the server was throwing all sorts of fits. Active Directory, DNS, WINS, and more were throwing codes left, right, and centre.

To fix it temporarily, we broke the adapter teaming by removing one of the physical adapters from the team, and then set the appropriate static IP settings to it.

We didn't do any updating of the ProSet software for now, as timing was critical for them. They had been down since early that morning when the service pack was applied.

There are no guarantees that when we go back to install the newest ProSet version that the adapter teaming will work as it should either. We will need to test that beforehand!

We are hesitant as far as installing the newest ProSet 11.x. This newest version has been giving us problems with the inability to set the adapters into teaming mode for fault tolerance. This is without W2K Server SP2 on the boxes as they all tend to be SBS based. So, there are no guarantees that this newest version will work with SP 2 either!

The investigation is ongoing! ;)

UPDATE 2007-07-16: We have a Windows Server 2003 Standard R2 box that had version 11.1 of the ProSet installed on it. The Service Pack did not kill the team in this case. However, it did kill access to any of the ProSet tabs when bringing up the NIC's properties via the physical NIC's Configure button.

We will reinstall the original ProSet 11.1 to see if that brings back the tabs and thus the ability to control the Teaming feature. If not, we will install the newest version of ProSet to see if that works.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Virtual Server - Upgrading to SP1 - Restore Error Fix and some suggestions.

When upgrading to Service Pack 1 on Virtual Server 2005 R2 it is important that any virtual machines running on the server are shut down as opposed to saving their state before applying the Service Pack.

If their state was saved before the update, you will get the following error:

"VirtualMachine" could not be restored because of a host processor type mismatch.
If you see this error, stop the Virtual Server service and rename all of your virtual machine's .vsv files to .vsv.bak or the like.

Do this for all of them, restart the Virtual Server service, and then proceed to start the VMs from the Virtual Server Web Console or via VMRCplus (the Virtual Machine Remote Control Client Plus is a pretty kewl little VM management utility).

The warning given in the VMRCplus console that the Virtual Machine additions (VMA) edition is out of date:

One small caveat just discovered with the VMRCplus utility: When trying to mount an ISO that is on the local Virtual Server x: drive, the VMRCplus utility brings a dialogue box up that is tied to the machine/workstation the utility is being run on. No list of available ISOs for that particular Virtual Server is there like can be seen in the Virtual Server Management Web Console.

When Service Packing the Virtual Server installations, it is also a perfect opportunity to also install any waiting OS updates on the host OS.

Once the upgrade has finished, and all of the VMs are up and running, the next step is to install the updated Virtual Machine additions on all of the VMs.

So far, on our VMs running W2K Server and Server 2K3 the previous VMA versions are seemingly gone so the VMA update is required. Upon logging on to the VM the Virtual Server will only allow the VMA installation. After the install and a reboot the VM will be good to go.

Virtual Server SP1 VMA version: 13.885
Virtual Server Vista VMA inital beta version: 13.709

Answer for the error curtesy of ASPDeveloper.net: Virtual Server 2005.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Mac on SBS - Microsoft Office for Mac 2004 & Parallels Coherence

We just received our Office Standard 2004 for Mac via Open Value licensing.

Integration with pre-2007 version documents and spreadsheets are seamless. Opening and modifying between the PC and Mac versions works well.

I am hoping that the Office for Mac version that is supposed to be shipping sometime later this year or early next year will share the same XML basis for its files as the current Office 2007 for PC. This will make working with files between Mac and PC that much simpler. Given that the PC Office 2003 and Mac Office 2004 versions work well together, I am trusting that we will see the same happen between the PC Office 2007 and Mac Office 2008.

Entourage, the Mac somewhat equivalent to Outlook e-mail client works somewhat okay integrated into our SBS based Exchange environment. It picks up the Inbox setup with the huge number of nested folders as well as the Calendar with the nested Calendars too.

Entourage 2004 is missing a huge chunk of functionality though. :(
  • No Exchange based Tasks
  • No Exchange based Notes
  • No Public Folder shared Tasks or Notes
  • Calendar Category functionality is extremely limited (versus Outlook 2003 or 2007)
Because of the timeline between now and when the new Office for Mac 2008 will be released, we may end up with a Parallels based Vista installation running the appropriate Windows based applications in Coherence mode.

I do believe that Parallels Coherence may be the single reason why Microsoft reversed their virtualization licensing intentions for Windows Vista Home editions. About 5 months ago, Microsoft announced that they were considering allowing us to run virtually any version of Vista in a virtualized environment.

Well, that was probably based on the assumption that the Mac user would be flipping back and forth between the Mac and Windows environment. In reality though, this is not the case.

Parallels Coherence is a feature that is identical to one of the new Server 2008 Terminal Services features (was originally SoftGrid on TS 2003): The ability to have an icon on the desktop that a user can click on and "run" an application. In reality, much like a Remote Desktop connection, all they are seeing is a "picture" of the application running. Everything is actually being done on the terminal server somewhere else.

So, the user clicks on the Outlook 2007 icon on their desktop, and up comes "Outlook 2007" seemingly running on Mac's OS X. The user is oblivious to the fact that nested somewhere on their Mac is a Vista environment with Office 2007 actually installed in it! With the Windows Vista environment unseen like that, the writing is on the wall as far as Joe User thinking that they are now running Office 2007 on their Mac.

Thus, we hear recently that Microsoft did an about face on Windows Vista virtualization: Only Vista Business and Ultimate can be virtualized.

On ZDNet: Microsoft flip-flops on Vista virtualization. Mentions the software vendor Parallels specifically.

We downloaded the trial version of Parallels and installed a trial version of Vista Business on it. Next up is adding the Virtualized Vista to our SBS domain with the Office 2007 following. From there we will start playing with Coherence. It is definitely something to look forward to!

Need QuickBooks on a Mac? Heh :D

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Blog Feature Addition... Snap Shots

We have added the Snap Shots to our blog because it looks like a pretty neat feature.

Hover the mouse over the little icon that appears after a link to another site, and you can see a preview of that site, RSS feed, and more.

Looks like a time saver for you and a winner as far as browsing efficiency is concerned.

If you don't like it, please leave a comment to let us know why!

If enough people say they don't like it, then it will be removed.

BTW, Snap has a pretty straight forward Terms & Conditions page before signing on. That is something that always gets read.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

Mac on SBS - iTunes Add to Library import...


A simple setting can mean the difference between a Mac running and a Mac not running when importing multimedia into iTunes.

Howz that? Well, if someone has a Windows Home Server, or other device with a large multimedia repository, one could end up in a storage pickle on their Mac.

If one wants to catalogue the contents of those folders on their Mac via iTunes, there is a setting therein that could cause a problem.

After clicking File-->Add to Library and navigating the Folder Chooser to the shared multimedia folder, iTunes goes off gathering a list of the contents of the folders. If, after starting that process, one walks away the little 160 GB drive on this particular iMac could have eventually been plugged up!

It seems that iTunes also pulls a copy of the multimedia file across the network onto the local Mac machine.

Ummm.... Not!

The following setting change is critical to avoid that kind of situation:

Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library

One needs to make sure to uncheck that option before starting the Add to Library process. This way all of the multimedia files are catalogued in iTunes only. :D

Might want to verify if iTunes on PC also does the same thing.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Monday, 9 July 2007

SBS - RWW Time Outs and Security

Quiz time folks! ;)

How many minutes before the RWW connection is killed when the "I'm using a public or shared computer" is checked?

How many minutes before it is killed with the box unchecked?

For all SBS users, there is nothing more important than having it trained into them over and over again to make sure that they always close and save their work and lock or log out of their workstation before walking away.

Even if it is for 5 minutes. That workstation and the data it accesses has to be protected.

Ever loose something because the program the data was residing in was closed due to an overnight forced reboot after an update?

Ever loose something because someone needed to remote into the workstation in the evening and nothing was closed or saved?

When it comes to remote access via the RWW, this little check box can mean the difference between the life and death of a company:

So, Internet Café, public library, public kiosk, or anywhere where there is a danger someone will mess with the RWW connected laptop/workstation (yes, even the kids) that check box should always be left checked!

And if there is a need to walk away from that remote session for whatever reason, lock it! From the Start Menu, click "Windows Security" if you see it and then click the Lock Computer button.

If the Windows Security option is not on the Start Menu, then it is up to us administrators to provide a way for remotely connected users to lock their workstations.

To do this create a shortcut on the desktop and type the following in the command line:

rundll32.exe user32.dll, LockWorkStation

Click Next, name the Shortcut and click Finish. If needed, one can change the icon to whatever via Right Click-->Properties-->Shortcut Tab-->Change Icon button.

Copy that shortcut onto the network so that it is accessible to all users who remotely connect to their workstations and send them a note to put a copy of it on their own desktops and use it.

Or, enforce the Windows Security item be on the Start Menu via Group Policy.

Answers to the quiz:

Time out for Public/Shared: 20 minutes.
Time out for Public/Shared unchecked: 120 minutes.

Two hours eh? See why it is so critical?

Managing Windows XP Service Pack 2 Features Using Group Policy: XP SP2 GP Word Document.

Group Policy Settings Reference for Windows Server 2003 SP1: W2K3 SP1 GP Excel Spreadsheet.

Group Policy Settings Reference for Windows Server 2008: W2K8 GP Excel Spreadsheet.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

SBS 2K3 R2 - Setup steps and resources.

We are running through some setup scenarios on SBS 2K3 Premium R2.

Here are some resources that come in handy:

In our experience, to augment the Completing Setup document we do the following when installing SBS 2K3 R2 Premium:

  1. Install the base OS to the primary OS drive formatted leaving 10 GB unused on the drive during setup. All other drives/partitions should be left untouched at this time.
  2. Stop the continuing setup after the reboot by cancelling it.
  3. In between Phase 1 and Phase 2: Install relevant drivers, format the partitions and drives.
  4. Move the Swap File over to the partition created out of the above 10 GB. This partition can be used for the ISA URLCache as well.
  5. Verify all devices are recognized and happy.
  6. Run Phase 2 setup via the Setup icon on the desktop.
  7. We set the MSDE Engine, Users Shared Folders, Client Applications, and Sent Faxes to the same drive/partition.

  8. Finish the install by completing the ToDo tasks.
  9. Install the Premium Technologies with SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition followed by ISA 2004 SP1.
  10. Note that during the ISA CEICW one will need to recheck any extra settings at the Web Services Configuration step.
  11. Make sure that the Create Certificate is also left at the setting it chooses.
  12. Install the components and updates from the R2 Technologies CD.
  13. Complete the Post Exchange SP2 Must Dos (previous blog post).
  14. Update the Exchange registry settings for the Greylist problem that Exchange seems to be having: Exchange may not be retrying! (previous blog post)
  15. Install WSS 3.x in side-by-side mode (official SBS blog post on the matter). Why? Because the WSS 3.x and Outlook two way functionality may be required for WSS hosted calendars, or the Recycle Bin may be for those who "accidentally" delete files.
  16. Install WSUS 3.x afterwards (previous blog post on WSUS 3.x install experience).
  17. At the command prompt, run the appropriate osql commands to tame SQL's memory usage (previous blog post explanation).
  18. RipCurl the SBS R2 box for Vista and Office 2007 compatibility (previous blog post).
In the case of the R2 Tech CD, verify that the Service Packs are still current before installing.

If newer Service Packs exist, do a bit of searching to verify their compatibility with your SBS installation before installing them. A good example of this is Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 as there are lots of caveats on SBS (KB 555912) .

Our partitioning schemes (previous blog post) come via experience trying to recover multiple partitions on one drive or array. That can be extremely difficult. Sometimes, KISS really works. :D

UPDATE 2007-09-06: Reversed steps 13 and 15 to set them in the correct order!

UPDATE 2007-09-07: Added the Exchange registry settings for its seeming difficulty with Greylisting and Tarpitting and the RipCurl step.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists