Monday 31 March 2008

SBS - Reusing a user profile - Exchange and SharePoint changes needed

In some cases, a client wants a new employee to take over the old employee's profile.

One way to do this is to create the new user and migrate the old user's email settings, a PST export, and data to the new network based profile. In many cases, where the profile is task/position independent this works fine.

Sometimes, the employee's position and their network profile is position dependent. When a client goes through a change in employees and wants the new employee to take over the existing position profile, the shift is pretty simple to do.

We make the necessary changes to the user's profile in the User Management console on the SBS server:
  • User name
  • Name properties
  • Email addresses
  • Exchange x400 setting (E-mail Addresses tab)
  • Alias (Exchange General tab)
Once we have completed the changes and the user logs in, there are a couple of other changes that need to be made where the previous employee's name would still be reflected:
  1. The Exchange mailbox name that shows in Outlook
  2. The user's name that comes up on the SharePoint CompanyWeb site.
To change the user name that appears behind "Mailbox - User Name" in Outlook we need only run through the setup steps via the Mail icon in the Control Panel and choose the new user name on that user's machine. Outlook should not be running when we run through the process.

In Windows Vista x64 versions the icon can be found here:

View 32-bit Control Panel Items

The following screen shot is what one would see on XP and in this particular case, a 32bit install of Windows Vista:

Windows Vista Mail Icon

A step by step as per a Vista/Office 2007 install:
  1. Double click the Mail icon
  2. Click the E-mail Accounts button
  3. Double click the user's email Exchange profile
  4. Change the User Name field to the new user's name
  5. Click Check Name
    • The new user name should become verified. It will then appear underlined.
  6. Click Next and Finish.
Start Outlook and one should now see "Mailbox - New User" the correct name.

Send an email from the account to one of your test email accounts to verify that Exchange is properly tagging the email with the new user's name as well.

The above process is very similar for Outlook 2003 on Windows XP Professional.

To change the name that appears on any SharePoint Companyweb content:
  1. Open the CompanyWeb page while logged in as the new user
  2. Click on Site Settings near the top of the page.
  3. Click "Update my information" under Manage My Information" near the bottom
  4. Edit User Information
  5. Change the "Display Name" to reflect the new user's name.
  6. Save and Close
All posted content on the CompanyWeb site will now reflect the new user's name for all posted content via the original existing user profile.

One thing to let the new user know about: When all of the necessary name changes and profile shifts have happened, the local profile directory on the computer will not reflect their own name ... at least until that machine is replaced and they log into the new machine for the first time.

UPDATE 2008-05-16: Added the x400 change (thanks Tim) and the Exchange Alias change. Note that users with Exchange in Cached mode will not see the Alias change right away.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

SBS - Exchange Error 0x8004010F - An Object could not be found.

This weekend we completed an SBS Swing Migration for a long time client.

Once we had Fork Lifted and mounted the Exchange stores, everything seemed to be okay.

All of the mailboxes were connected and reachable via Outlook Web Access.

When we fired up our first Outlook client though, we encountered the following error:

Outlook Send/Receive Progress

Task 'Microsoft Exchange Server' reported error (0x8004010F): 'The operation failed. An object could not be found.'
Because we were able to see that the mailbox was indeed intact with the user's Outlook profile, it was a bit of a puzzle as to exactly what object could be missing.

A search for the Exchange error brought up the following KB article: Microsoft KB 905813: You receive an error message when you try to synchronize the offline address list on an Exchange Server 2007 or Exchange Server 2003 server while you are using Outlook 2003: "0x8004010F".

When we had a look at the Default Offline Address List Properties in Exchange, it looked as it should:

Exchange Default Offline Address List Properties

So, we followed through on the last point to rebuild the Offline Address List:

Rebuild the Offline Address List

We logged off the user with the error and then ran the rebuild in the Exchange manager.

Once the user was logged back into the system, the Outlook error was now gone and we had a nice new much faster SBS box in place.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Friday 28 March 2008

Excel - Clean Up the Div/0 Errors in a Worksheet

We are setting up some custom quoting setups in Excel.

One formula that we have is: D20/E20.

If nothing is in the respective cells we get an error: #DIV/0!

Excel does not like to divide by zero.

To correct the error, we need to use a conditional formula on top of the above. We use the following Macro to change all of the affected cells:

Dim rng As Range, cell As Range, fmla As String
Set rng = Cells.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeFormulas, 16)
For Each cell In rng
fmla = Right(cell.Formula, Len(cell.Formula) - 1)
cell.Formula = "=if(iserror(" & fmla & "), """"," & fmla & ")"
The procedure is as follows:
  1. Click on the Office Jewel and then the Excel Options button
  2. Find and check "Show Developers tab in the Ribbon"
  3. OK
  4. Click the Developer tab
  5. Click Macros
  6. Type a name: CleanUpDiv0 [Enter]
  7. Click Edit
  8. Paste the above Macro in between the Sub and End Sub lines.
  9. Close MS Visual Basic (should save automatically)
  10. Click the Macros button
  11. Make sure the CleanUpDiv0 is selected and click Run
The Div/0! errors will now be gone!

A screenshot of a properly formatted macro in MS Visual Basic:

Excel Clean Up Macro

This tip comes to us courtesy of Escalus near the bottom of the page on the site: #Div/0.

One can also bring about the same results in Excel 2003 via the Tools menu.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Thursday 27 March 2008

Chris Knight - You won the E6750 CPU Contest!

In a previous blog post: Answer the Intel Xeon Questions & Win an Intel Boxed E6750, we requested some insight on some burning Intel CPU related questions. :)

Chris Knight courageously came up with some pretty good insight into the questions we asked.

While we still haven't received a total confirmation yet, Chris did confirm what one of the Intel Call Jockeys mentioned regarding the "X" prefix on Intel Xeon 5000 series CPUs: It is an indicator of an unlocked multiplier for overclocking.

So, Chris please get in touch via a comment here, and we will arrange to send you your CPU.

Thanks for taking the time to contribute to our blog. We value your comments and time!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Vista Setup Error - Windows is unable to find a system volume that meets its criteria for installation.

When doing a bare metal setup of Windows Vista Ultimate, we were faced with the following error:

Windows Vista Error: Windows is unable to find a system volume that meets its criteria for installation.

The puzzling thing for us was the list of available hard disks for partitioning.

A quick search of the error turned up the following: MS KB 938984: Error message when you try to install Windows Vista: "Windows is unable to find a system volume which meets its criteria for installation".

From the KB article:
You experience this symptom if the following conditions are true:
  • In the BIOS, a universal serial bus (USB) removable device is set as the start device, or the USB removable device is set to a higher priority than the first hard disk drive in the start order.
  • You attach a non-bootable USB device to a USB port before you start the computer.
  • You try to install Windows Vista from DVD installation media.
While we did have a USB flash drive plugged into the system at boot with the necessary RAID controller drivers on it, the flash drive partition was not set to Active so one would assume that it would not even appear in the available boot devices.

A reboot into the BIOS revealed that this was not the case. The USB flash drive was listed, though not the first one in the available drives to boot from. However, the BIOS setting for "Boot USB Devices First" was set to enabled.

Since we had already successfully updated the BIOS from our Technician's Thumb Drive, we had no need to further boot from a USB device so we disabled the boot to USB first setting.

Thus, the second bullet was indeed the culprit for us.

Once we were back into the Vista setup, we were able to load the RAID drivers and continue the setup without issue.

A much simpler alternative would be to pull the USB flash drive until such time as the drivers were needed! But, that was not so obvious at first. ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

User Groups and Pedagogy for SMB I.T. Providers

Graham Jones has a great post on the IT Manager Connection blog: The Changing Role of User Groups.

From his post under the IT Worker paragraph:
The kind of skills demanded are also changing. Although there will always be a role for technical specialists it will be in less demand. If you want to progress in your career you will need some core technical skills married to technical diversity and business and “soft skills”. Perhaps UG’s cannot easily minister to all of this but I believe that we should be thinking about where we can contribute beyond the purely technical. Since business and “soft skills” are common across the technical landscape this links back to the potential benefits of a local Federation of UG’s. This would permit a measure of common planning around these areas and larger numbers would attract high caliber speakers in non-technical/pseudo-technical areas.
There comes a time in one's business career, no matter what type of business career that one is in, where one needs to make a decision: Do I take everything I have learned with me to the grave, or do I take on a more Pedagogical role with those around me. This is especially true for many small business owners ... especially those who are very good at what they do.

In our particular area of the world, that is the SMB I.T. industry, there is a tendency to hold our cards very close to our chest.
It is my toy.
While the quote may be a bit harsh, it can be very true.

I certainly faced this in myself. There are many negative thoughts that swirl around the brain ether:
  • He/She will poach my clients if I let them in ...
  • They will steal my revenue ...
  • They will take my ideas and run with them without me ...
  • I can't share my ideas with them ... they will steal them for themselves ...
    • A derivative of the above point.
  • I will be left behind ...
  • Why should I share what I have? I worked *expletive* hard for what I know.
While the above list of fears is by no means complete, they do aptly describe what was going through my mind and emotions when considering whether to start this blog as well as starting an I.T. focus in our training.

Contrasted To The Rewards

What comes to pass once one goes beyond those fears and begins down the road of pedagogy is probably the most surprising: One gets back a hundred fold what one puts in.

Don't get me wrong here. The actual return on the effort put into the teaching and sharing one's knowledge may not show dividends for a very long time ... if at all. The keyword here folks is show. We may be blind or not even know how our efforts impact the lives of those around us.

If we are expecting the Benz, monetary compensation, or anything along the lines of doing it for me (being the centre of attention counts as self compensation), then things may never pan out as there will be many struggles and doubts. And, just like anything else, if we are in it for the wrong reasons we will let it slide, walk away, we will let it die a death. Also, people can sense our motivations whether we realize it or not ... and may want nothing to do with us if ...

A partial list of rewards:
  • Seeing that amazing light of discovery in the trainee's eyes
  • Encouraging curiosity and thoughtfulness
  • Bringing real world experience to theoretical knowledge
  • Fine tuning the rough edges around the trainee's skills
  • Introducing a technically focused individual to the bigger picture ... business
  • Knowing that the knowledge we have worked hard for will live on
  • Building long term business and personal relationships
User Group Pedagogy

What Graham is suggesting for our User Group structure has been around, at least in my opinion, in the Trades for millennia.

Groups of skilled tradesmen and women gather around the apprentices and start working with them at the apprentice's skill level. The programme today usually has 4 tiers represented by the four year apprenticeship structure and the apprentice starts on the tier that is best suited to their skill level or lack thereof.

While that particular structure may not be exactly what is required, it does provide us with a good direction to look at when it comes to establishing the User Group as a pedagogical tool.

Some possible tiers from surface to big picture are:
  1. Technical
    • Working with various software products
    • Working with various hardware products
    • Vendors and Manufacturers
  2. Personal and Technicalese
    • Learning the needed interpersonal skills
    • Working within one's personality type
    • Learning to speak in a language nontechnical people can understand
    • Patience when working with the less skilled user
  3. Business Principles and Operations
    • Ethics and Morality in business
    • Responsibility and consequences for decisions made or not made
    • Reasons for being in business
    • Developing a business strategy and plan
    • Revenue planning and budgeting
    • Running a business and all that entails for the geographical area one is in
  4. Big Picture
    • Tying all of the above together to develop a strong perspective on providing products and services to clients
    • Developing the business and the people employed by the business
    • Team playing and team development
    • Business direction and focus
    • Business secession and planning for one's retirement
Running a business, whether it be I.T. or other, is no walk in the park.

Owning a small business is grueling. We work long, sometimes thankless, hours. The grueling pace of owning a business will ultimately be a significant contribution to our success or demise in it.

When running a small business, there are many serious decisions to make that will impact our client's futures, the future of our employees, and the futures of our families if we have one, and our own. We need to be aware of that. A pedagogical structure in the User Group would facilitate that knowledge.

This is our principle of ultimate responsibility when running an I.T. business: Our client's livelihoods and the livelihood of their employees are directly in our hands. If their I.T. infrastructure is put together wrong, doesn't work properly, or goes down altogether, we are directly responsible for the consequences.

If their I.T. infrastructure is put together right and it just works for them, we may never receive a "Thank You", but we can go to sleep at night that we have done something good and our work has meaning.

Many of the above mentioned life and business lessons cannot be learned on their own. We may discover them ... we may not discover them.

However, the best method to learn those lessons is with a mentor. Someone, or a group of someones, that have the necessary experience to impart to the young and impressionable, or the not so young but still impressionable people who are eager to learn the big picture of opening, running, and building an SMB focused I.T. business.

In my case I am fortunate to have Monique my wife and my Dad who are very supportive and provide some solid outside of the box business perspectives on an ongoing basis. Someone who was very important in helping me to develop a good sense on running and building a business based on excellent client relationships is a former employer of mine: Larry MacDonald. He is a truly gifted business man and a great pedagogical role model (teacher).

And finally, to our clients, to you our blog readers, and anyone who has provided support and encouragement to "keep on plugging away" at building a good business and developing a pedagogical role: Thank you!

One more thing: Take a look at the links to the various blogs and Web sites linked here and in the respective sites' links list. In those links you will find people who are passionate and knowledgeable about what they do (Susan Bradley, Chris Knight, Tim Barrett), people who have a really good solid business sense (Karl Palachuk, Vladimir Mazek), and someone who has built a business on being a positive mentor: Harry Brelsford. There are many more, so, please expand your horizons! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Going to be Attending SMB Nation Toronto

Harry Brelsford of SMB Nation has passed along a complimentary ticket for the upcoming SMB Nation Toronto event. Thank you sir! :)

The flights are booked and the lodging is reserved.

This is going to be a really neat adventure. :D

Going to be around Toronto at the beginning of May? Then check out:

Here is a PDF brochure for the event: SMB Nation Events Brochure.

There looks to be some pretty interesting topics including SharePoint and Response Point among others.

And, it will be an opportunity to kibitz with all y'all as well as some Microsoft Folks since we will be at the Microsoft Campus in Mississauga.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Office 2007 - Download Trial Versions

Need to try out Office 2007?

One need only go to the Office 2007 Try site and download a copy of the product needed.

Note that a Live ID is required. The site also requests registration information once you have logged in with your Live ID.

One can also download trial copies of the following Office 2007 products:
  • Office Visio Standard & Professional 2007
  • Office Live Groove 2007
  • Office Project Standard & Professional 2007
  • Office Publisher 2007
  • Office SharePoint Designer 2007
The trial versions are good for 60 days from the date of the install.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Microsoft Action Pack Training & Assessment Deadline Extended

It seems that there are some system glitches with the new technical assessment feature for Action Pack (MAPS) subscriptions and renewals.

MAPS Test Deadline Extended

The original start date for the need to take the test was the beginning of this month.

The tests will now start on June 19, 2008.

In a way this is too bad. We believe that there is definitely a need to have some sort of testing regime in place to weed out those who would take advantage of MAPS for purposes it was not intended for.

For us, the Action Pack was a big bonus when we were starting out on the road to building an I.T. company. It gave us access to a good portion of the software we would otherwise need to license for our internal use at pennies on the dollar.

MAPS is a good idea. Take advantage of it. Use it as it was intended ... for internal and training purposes in an I.T. company that provides Microsoft products and services based on those products.

Then work towards certifying your company as a Microsoft Small Business Specialist! It has paid huge dividends for our company.

Oh, and take Vlad's advice: Ouch, the death of SBSC to contribute to the Small Business Specialist Community and take advantage of the Microsoft SBSC contacts or we may just loose the whole Small Business Specialist program!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Tuesday 25 March 2008

Test Post - Please ignore

We are figuring out a new aggregator system ... please ignore these posts.


Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 on Intel X38BT Install Issue

There are just some things we never got warned about in school! ;)

When it comes to the more exotic system builds, it is always good to be prepared for the unexpected.

As our previous post on the conflict between the Zalman CPU Cooler bottom bracket and the back of the Intel X38BT makes clear, there were going to be more challenges putting this system together.

Even with the Cooler Master Cosmos' open design, there were some space and cable path issues between components.

One such conflict is between the ATI HD 3870 X2 and the on board SATA ports.

The Intel X38BT board layout is as follows:

19: On Board SATA Ports

We have the on board SATA ports directly in line with the PCI-E 16x lanes for the video cards.

So, when we go to install the ATI HD 3870 X2 video cards, which are full length and double wide video cards, we end up with a space limitation right above the on board SATA ports.

The out of the box SATA cables that came with the X38BT motherboard have the standard straight in plug style with the metal clip:

Intel X38BT Supplied SATA Cable

In this situation, they will not work. The cable ends plugging into the motherboard port would stand too tall for the ATI video card to seat itself properly in the PCI-E slot.

In order to make things work, we needed a SATA cable with a plug that had a profile that was as low as possible.

We were fortunate that we had a pile of SATA cables to sort through.

We ended up finding four of the following (we were installing four hard drives):

Intel Server Board SATA Cable with 90 Degree Plugs

Both ends of the cable had a 90 degree plug on it. Because of the tight space limitations behind the drive connectors, having these cable types on hand to connect the drives to the motherboard served up a double bonus:
  • Enough room to properly seat the full length ATI video cards
  • Better clearance on the plug side of the hard drives
One never knows when those spare parts may come in handy. In this case, they saved us a trip to one of our local suppliers to pick up some of the required SATA cables.

We will however, make sure to pick some up on our next trip through there or on our next order from Synnex or Tech Data.

As a system builder, one can never be too prepared! The above parts run would have cost us enough to cut right into the margins on the system itself.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Zalman CNPS9700 CPU cooler on Intel X38BT install issue

In a previous blog post, we had mentioned a configuration having the Intel X38BT motherboard with the Zalman CNPS9700 CPU cooler: Intel QX9650 Quad Core Extreme has a new cooling solution.

When it comes to installing the Zalman CNPS9700 onto the CPU that is integrated on an Intel X38BT Extreme Board we run into a problem:

Intel X38BT Bottom with Components

There are two electronic components that are stuck to the board right in the path of the Zalman's bottom bracket. When the bracket is placed on the spot it needed to be in on the back of the motherboard, the bracket would not sit flat.

The component on the left does not pose too much of a problem since there is enough wiggle room to get it to sit inside the bracket.

The one on the right however, is sitting right where the outside edge of the bracket runs. There is not enough wiggle room to have the component either fully inside the bracket or outside of the bracket altogether.

So, we needed to make a slight modification to the Zalman's bottom bracket:

Zalman Bottom Bracket with cut out

We shaved a bit of the plastic off of the outside edge of the bracket.

Once in place on the bottom of the motherboard with the cut out lined up with the electronic component, the bracket sat completely flat.

We were able to proceed with mounting the actual heat pipe cooler from there.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Monday 24 March 2008

22" LG Flatron Wide L226WTX - BF - not so good

We were looking to try out some new product lines for our LCD monitors here in the shop.

We do that before selling any LCD products to our clients so that we are not pulling something out of the box and ending up with a product we and our client do not like.

The 22" LG wide L226WTX - BF LCDs were purchased to run on each side of an Acer AL2416W LCD monitor.

We have been very happy with both the Acer and BenQ monitors we have been using and supplying to our clients so far.

However, as soon as the LGs were hooked up and the ATI Catalyst Control Center was used to turn the monitors on, we were not really impressed.

Out of the box, the LG's tint/warmth were way out of line with the Acer's colour qualities. We played with the colour management features in the ATI software to see if we could get things close. We could not.

We went into the LG's on board menu to try and work the image's colour to come closer to the Acer with no success either.

We left them at the workstation even though they were not recreating the colours to our liking to see how they stand up over time. It has now been a couple of months, and both monitors are starting to have pixels flake out on them.

All in all, our initial venture into these particular LG products, at the 22" wide LCD level, was a disappointment. As result, none of these products will be ending up on our client's desks.

For Reference

These monitors have been on 24/7 since they were installed with sleep mode happening when the machine was idle for over 2 hours. They are peripheral monitors, so they would display Outlook, Adobe palettes, image directories, secondary Explorer Windows, the Windows Vista Sidebar, and other such content. They are being driven via a pair of ATI X1900XTX/CrossFire video cards with up to date ATI Catalyst drivers.

A fourth monitor is pedestal mounted above the Acer 24" LCD. It is a BenQ FP931 19" standard LCD monitor that has been around for a long time. It has no problems with matching the colour tones and warmth of the Acer AL2416W below it.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

CCH Folioviews Network Install Error -6001 Setup has experienced an error

We have one client that has a network access setup for CCH Folioviews which is a tax reference library with built in billing timers.

Lately, when we go to install the product on the local workstation for network access, we have been getting the following:

InstallShield Wizard

Setup has experienced an error.

Please do the following:
  • Close any running programs
  • Empty your temporary folder
  • Check your Internet connection (Internet-based Setups)
Then try to run the Setup again.

Error code: -6001
When setting up a new client to run from the network, one starts Addfvusr.exe under X:\CCH\Network\Setup.

No matter what we did to try and clear things up, we ended up with the same error.

It took a support call into CCH Support to get a fix. They emailed us an updated version of the executable to copy over top of the existing file in the above mentioned directory.

Once the original file was replaced, the setup process ran trouble free.

Keep in mind that each time the network install is updated via the update CDs, which can be quite frequent, one will need to copy the replacement file back over top of the "updated" setup file. So keep a copy of the replacement executable in a handy spot that cannot be accessed by the Folioviews updates.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Wednesday 19 March 2008

Business is good ... blogging will continue! ;)

We have had a huge run of projects this week.

As soon as there is time ... more to come!

Thanks for reading and supporting the blog!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Monday 17 March 2008

SBS 2003 to SBS 2008 Open Value versus OEM

Here is something to consider with the advent of SBS 2008 (Cougar): When considering an upgrade for an existing SBS 2003 Premium client to SBS 2008, ISA is no longer included for clients without Software Assurance on their current SBS 2003 Premium product. It may be a good idea to put existing or new clients into an Open Value Licensing Agreement or Subscription with a 3 year spread payment option for any new SBS 2003 install or upgrade.

This will give the client some flexibility when it comes time to upgrade them to SBS 2008 where we need an internal/Internet security option like ISA.

Given the upcoming release of SBS 2008, we have been promoting Open Value Agreement/Subscription to all of our existing clients as well as new clients with a great margin of success in winning them over from OEM licensing. Software Assurance is an option on OEM, but how many clients are going to say, "Sure, I'd love to spend $X on additional licensing costs" after the fact?

Depending on budget, it makes more sense to utilize the 3 Year Spread Payment option on Open Value Agreements and Subscriptions. This enables us to reduce the upfront cost to the client and establish a commitment with the client to purchase their licensing from us on the subsequent two Agreement anniversaries. The 3 Year Spread Payment option becomes a small additional source of revenue for us too.

One more selling feature for a Licensing Agreement in place over OEM: If the client needs to grow their hardware performance to match growth in their company, Swing their existing License Agreement SBS OS onto a new hardware rig and away they go. The Open Value OS license stays with the organization as opposed to OEM which stays with the respective hardware it was originally sold with.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

SBS Premium + ISA = You have received an e-card?!?

On the F-Secure Weblog, we have the following article: From SMTP to HTTP to FTP where Mikko talks about the e-card spam evolution.

What Mikko is indicating to us, is that the spammers now send us to a page that will have a link to the virus file via FTP. Note the file link revealing that it is an executable file on an ftp://... at the bottom left of the Hallmark card:

We all love those Greeting Cards! ;)

So, our Favourite User clicks on the link and voila ... they get?

Well, on a vanilla, out of the box SBS 2003 Premium install with ISA 2000/4 installed and configured via the Configure Email and Internet Connection Wizard (CEICW), the user gets absolutely nothing ... zippo ... nada ... and we get a support call from Favourite User wondering why they cannot get their greeting card. ;)

The FTP protocol through the ISA server is disabled by default. We do not enable FTP unless the client specifically needs it for Web site development access to their site root. In some cases, we have a scheduled time to turn FTP access on for our client's site coders when they will be working directly on their sites. We then disable the Rule when they are done.

It has been a long time since we have had a client request FTP access for something other than Web site coding. So many software sites use HTTP for data transfers now that FTP has become something of a special need in our experience.

This situation is a good example of why we have a 95% install base of SBS 2K3 Premium at our client sites.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Heroes Happen {Here} was a success!

We had our Heroes even in Edmonton last Thursday.

There were two tracks, one for IT Pros and one for Developers.

In the Expert booth was Donald Belcham, a Microsoft MVP on C#, and myself, an expert on SBS, answering any questions that event attendees had.

For the presentations, there were a couple of technical problems that caused a bit of a struggle at first. But, in an event this complex, it is not too uncommon to have hiccups. They were essentially ironed out or circumvented and things moved on.

For the IT Pro presentations and demonstrations we had Damir Bersinic (Live ID may be required). As always, Damir has a great presentation style providing the IT Pros with a plethora of great Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 feature demos.

On the Developer track, we had John Bristowe. From the feedback we received, John's presentations went really well.

During the lulls while attendees were in the presentations, I got a chance to chat quite a bit with Donald, and listen to him chat with others around him about coding. It never ceases to amaze me how someone can wrap their minds around all of those lines of code and come up with a working software tool or product.

Donald took the time to explain and demonstrate the methodology behind the coding method he uses: Test Driven Development or Test-First development. After he ran through a number of different examples on the technique via his laptop, the methodology really made total sense to me ... a non-coder. That says a lot about Donald's ability to explain things in a language that can readily be understood ... a rare gift indeed!

After spending the day in the booth with Donald, it is pretty clear to me that Microsoft made a good choice in awarding him MVP status.

Some of the goodies - Swag - in the goody bag:
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise x86 & x64 DVD with 365 Day Trial License
  • Visual Studio 2008 Standard Edition NFR
  • MS SQL Server 2008 Developer x86 & x64 DVDs (CTP 5.0)
  • Windows Vista Ultimate x86 with SP1 DVD with 365 Day Trial License
  • Windows Live OneCare 90 Day Trial
  • Various vendor marketing materials.
It is literally a mixed bag! ;)

The 365 day limitation on the trial products brings in some breathing room for systems we would setup on trail based software for clients or students here in the shop.

There were also a couple of bonuses for sitting in the Experts Booth: A long sleeved Expert white shirt and a really nice red Heroes Happen Here jacket. Thanks to Microsoft for those gifts ... they are pretty neat!

And thanks too for the invite to sit in the Expert's booth and try and answer as many questions as I could.

For those who have not registered for the event yet, please do. It is well worth the time to get the creative "I can do that!?!" juices flowing around Microsoft's new products!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Saturday 15 March 2008

Intel SR1530SH versus SR1530HSH Clarification

If one goes to use Intel's Server Configurator to configure a Xeon 3000 series 1U based on the new S3200 series server boards, there can be a bit of confusion over the difference between the SR1530SH series which uses two fixed hard drives and the SR1530HSH which is supposed to have three (3) hot swap bays.

The confusion comes from the fact that the image for both units is the same:

Intel SR1530HSH and SR1530SH - Server Configurator

Looking to the right of the SH series 1U servers, we see the SR1530HAHLX 1U server system that indicates the hot swap bays.

We need to go to the SR1530SH/HSH product guide (PDF document) to confirm what the correct images should look like.

On page 21 we find the following:

Intel Server System SR1530SH

And then:

Intel Server System SR1530HSH

Since the SR1530SH series server systems are new, it is understandable that Intel's site may not correctly show an image of the product.

As always, research into a product beforehand will save one from any possible surprises after the fact. Committing to implement a product and/or service on how we think a product and its features should perform versus how it actually performs can sometimes be two drastically different things.

In the end, it is our responsibility to know the difference.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Friday 14 March 2008

MySBS/ConnectComputer and Windows Vista with SP1

Just a quick note to let you know that when adding a computer with Windows Vista SP1 already integrated, one does not need to patch the Vista machine to get ConnectComputer to run properly and pull the local profile.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 - Time to complete on various systems.

Since we are TechNet Plus subscribers, we have already downloaded both the 32bit, 64bit, and DVD ISO of both versions of the service pack.

This blog post will be updated as we apply the service pack to various hardware and software configurations.

We will try and keep the time to apply the service pack sorted by x86 or x64 version and by install time.

Also note that the times include multiple reboots. Plan accordingly when it comes time to deploy.

Windows Vista 32 bit version:
  • Business: Acer TravelMate 5720 T8100 2GB 250GB SATA: 30 minutes (08-03-11)
    • Out of the box with no extra software installed. Office & Symantec were removed before initiating the SP.
  • Business: E6400 1GB 250GB Seagate: 45 minutes (08-03-12)
  • Business: E6400 1GB 250GB Seagate: 49 minutes (08-03-12)
  • Business: Acer TravelMate 6592G T7700 4GB 160GB SATA: 75 minutes
Windows Vista 64bit version:
  • Enterprise: Q6850 3GB 320GB Seagate RAID 1: 40 minutes (08-03-11)
  • Ultimate: Q6700 4GB 500GB Seagate RAID 1: 52 minutes
Any issues with the install will be posted as we encounter them. So far, our applications have been successful and time will tell if performance and stability have been positively impacted.

UPDATE 2008-03-01:

This is what we should see when the Service Pack has finished running:

Vista Service Pack 1 Successful

And, one more thing with regards to the above list, it only makes sense to know which version of Windows Vista we are updating too eh? ;)

UPDATE 2008-03-12: To make it simpler to find this post when needing to update the results, we are going to change the post date to the day of the update.

We will update the results with a few more different configurations. There should then be a reasonable amount of update times to get an idea of how long the service pack will take on a particular machine configuration.

As always, your mileage will vary! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Windows Server 2008 Eval ISO Downloads & WSS

Need some test bits for Server 2008? Don't have a TechNet Plus subscription?

Microsoft has pleasantly surprised us with a pair of ISO files for download, x86 and x64, with a 60 day evaluation period in Server 2008's various editions! Keep in mind that the files are quite large.

Here are the links to the download pages:
Planning on deploying Windows SharePoint Services Version 3 on IIS 7? Then the WSS download is separate:
There are some good instructions for installing WSS on Server 2008 too:
It looks as though one will not be able to install WSS on a Core install of Server 2008 at this time due to the lack of ASP.NET support.

Best work with Server 2008 soon, as SBS 2008 is just around the corner.

UPDATE: Added the link to the Datacenter edition of Server 2008 that was missed in the initial post.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Heroes Happen Here - Edmonton

The Heroes Happen Here tour will be in Edmonton on Thursday.

The event is full and there is quite the waiting list.

If you registered, but are not able to attend, please visit Microsoft's Events Site and cancel your registration so that the seat can be released for someone waiting in the wings. A quick link was also included in the registration email sent out after you registered.

Releasing your seat will also make it easier for those managing the registration table to work with fewer no-shows.

This should be a fun event, with lots of information and demos of Microsoft's new products. Maybe even some swag for the attendees to take home too.

I personally will be helping in the "Experts Booth". That aught to be a lot of fun.

And, I may even know an answer or two! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Acer TravelMate 5720 Series observations

We just received a new TravelMate series Acer laptop.

The TravelMate 5720 is based around the new Intel 8000 series Core 2 Duo processors with 3MB of Cache between the cores.

Out of the box it has Windows Vista Business x86 installed with the typical Acer twin hard drive partitions now formatted in NTFS. It also has the Windows XP Professional downgrade DVDs included in the box.

The unit itself is a bit smaller than the Canadian 6000 series TravelMates and it shows in the keyboard layout. The Enter key has a chunk missing from its bottom left hand corner to accommodate the "\" character key and the left Shift button has the same "\" key beside it too. The extra keys are to accommodate the French keyboard layout judging by the different green characters also on the keys.

It takes a little getting used to the need to reach the finger a little further to get to the Enter or left Shift keys. This may initially be a bit of a challenge for those whose touch typing skills are near entry level. Keep in mind that we are dealing with what seems to be a Canadian localized model.

All in all though, the new 8100 series Core 2 seems to perform quite well relative to the 7000 series Core 2 processor based laptops we have been selling. Between the configured 2GB of RAM and a 250GB SATA hard drive, there will be decent Windows Vista performance with enough storage to spare.

We do find that outfitting a laptop with 3GB or 4GB for Windows Vista does make a difference on the laptop's overall performance characteristics though. This is important to note if we are looking at providing a unit to our more advanced or performance oriented client users.

For the moment, this particular unit provides a good value for the price especially for our non-profit clients. So, we will stick with it until Acer's product line evolves yet again.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Monday 10 March 2008

A Sample Billable Time Schedule when Managed Services won't do

Here is a sample billable time schedule:
  • Preferred client status: $XXX/hr
    • Minimum 4 hour response to initial query with scheduling for on-site/remote support to follow
    • Minimum ½ hour in ½ hour increments
    • Evenings (18:00 – 08:00) and Weekends (Friday 18:00 to Monday 08:00) +$XXX/hr
  • Support Contract/Hosting client 25hr Time Block: $X,XXX.00 ($XXX/hr) (invoiced up front)
    • Priority Response Time – maximum 4 hours to respond to initial query
    • Minimum 15 minutes in 15 minute increments
    • Time tracking reports issued monthly when there is activity to you
    • Small questions not billed (relative to their frequency of course!)
    • Evenings (18:00 – 08:00) and Weekends (Friday 18:00 to Monday 08:00) at time block rate.
    • A new Time Block will be invoiced with a balance of 5 hours left or if time balance is not enough to complete a requested support task.
  • Non-hosting infrastructure emergency response time – 4 hours or less: $XXX/hr
  • MS Application On-Site Training for 1 User: $395.00 (3hrs)
  • MS Application On-Site Training for 2 Users: $695.00 (3hrs)
  • MS Application On-Site Training for 3 Users: $895.00 (3hrs)
  • Windows SharePoint Services (internal Web site) same as MS application training fee structure.
  • Data Recovery Services start at $500.00
The above fee schedule is essentially a copy and paste from a typical fee schedule we would send to a client that is not interested in a Managed Services after explaining its benefits.

Time Blocks can be configured in whatever increments suit us with the rates reflected in the size of the Time Block and the type of client service needs we will be dealing with.

The above fee schedule provides us a solid baseline to work from. Consistency when quoting on fees is very important as it makes it easier for us to keep track of what is essentially three tiers of clients:
  1. Managed Services
  2. Support Contract on Time Block
  3. Billable Time Only or Open Support Contract
In turn, we can quickly ascertain at which response level a client is at. We can also keep track of which clients value our products and services by the amount they spend with us and make sure we keep them happy!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

SBS Hosting? MS SPLA is the answer

Lately we have been in contact with a number of small companies requiring SBS features and abilities but are not necessarily in a position to outlay that kind of cash up front.

These companies tend to be 2-5 seats with most of their users on the road. Some are even home based businesses that do not require the need for office space as their users are almost completely remote based.

An option that has become viable for us to get involved with is the Microsoft Service Provider License Agreement or SPLA.

What the SPLA enables us to do is setup either hardware dedicated or virtual SBS networks on our servers for the smaller companies to use.

The licensing revenue of Microsoft products under SPLA is per user per month. We essentially pay for what we use to provide our clients with the hosted SBS solution. And, the cost per month is very reasonable.

So, for a typical small business we may setup the following on a virtual server:
  • SBS 2K3 R2 Standard
  • Windows XP Pro or Vista Business desktops
  • Office Standard 2003/7
  • SharePoint Version 3
The advantages for the clients are manifold:
  • No large outlay of cash for infrastructure - fees are month by month with a small setup fee
  • Client does not need a dedicated physical location
  • MS server, workstation, and applications hosted are patch managed
  • ShadowProtect based backups - no, "I forgot to change the ..."
  • Data is centrally accessible via share and/or SharePoint sites
  • No need for new or updated hardware for their users
  • Software Assurance covers any MS product for upgrades or downgrades
Besides a Managed Services focus, SBS hosting services can further stabilize an I.T. company's revenue stream by providing additional diversity and consistency.

For any company contemplating adding this type of service to their services portfolio however, there are a number of very important things to keep in mind:
  • A reliable Internet Connection - preferably managed and/or fibre
  • Hardware capacity to provide an excellent level of service
  • Hardware, location, Internet connection redundancy
  • UPS and/or power generation capabilities
  • A good data backup system
  • Disaster Recovery Planning in place
  • A secured facility to protect the infrastructure
  • Proper cooling for the hardware delivering the hosted services
  • A lawyer approved service agreement
For us, it is our preference to meet our prospective hosting clients fact to face before considering them for our SBS based hosting solutions. We prefer to get to know them and their business first. From there we can tailor an SBS hosting solution to meet their specific business needs.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Friday 7 March 2008

New Skulltrail Costs - D5400XS Board and QX9775 CPUs

We finally see the processors SKUd up here in Canada (the board has been there for a bit now):
  • BX80574QX9775: Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme QX9775 3.20GHz is $1,725.00
  • BOXD5400XS: Intel Extreme Skulltrail Desktop Board is $700.00
The above prices are approximate based on the price in Canadian dollars at our suppliers that have them in their system now.

Basically, we are looking at $4,150.00 or thereabouts for just the motherboard and pair of CPUs. That is a small car folks! ;)

Some American based online merchants say they already have stock at around the above prices in US$.


Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Answer the Intel Xeon Questions & Win an Intel Boxed E6750

This one is pretty simple: We can't seem to get a clear answer out of anyone on the front line in the Intel Reseller Program.

What we want to know: What does the "X" denote in front of the Intel Xeon 5400 Processor Series Number.

Example: Intel X5450 Product Specs:

Intel Xeon Processor X5450 Specifications

And here, we have the Intel Xeon E5440 Product Specs:

Intel Xeon Processor E5450 Specifications

And here they are side by side:

Intel Xeon Processor Specifications Side by Side

So, yes, we do see that the "X" series has a higher Thermal Design Power (TDP).

Since we are not processor engineers, what does that mean too?

The questions again:
  1. What does the "X" in front of the 5400 Processor Series number stand for (versus the "E")?
  2. What does the difference in TDP between the two processors mean?
While we will try our best to verify with Intel what the actual answers are, it may end up being a "best answer" kind of deal.

Please post your answer in the comments section ... and have fun with it.

We will choose the best answer two weeks from now: March 21, 2008 at 17:30hrs Mountain Standard Time. We request that all eligible commenters not be anonymous.

We will Expidite via Canada Post a Boxed Intel E6750 processor (new in the box) to the winner anywhere Canada Post can deliver. Please verify that before hand.

Happy Friday and have a good weekend! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Intel Server Systems Quick Reference Site

This is a kewl little sub-site that has a drop down list so one can find information on the various Intel Server System platforms:

Intel Server Systems Quick Reference Site

We select our processor platform, and we are presented with a fairly specific list of products.

Once we have clicked on the Server System we are interested in, we receive a link to the product's sub-site.

For one-off needs, a simple search will bring up the site we need. But, when we are quoting on multiple configurations, having this site open in a Tab makes product specific information research all the quicker.

Just click the drop down beside the "10" and change it to a higher number and we have the entire product line at our finger tips.

Link: Intel Server Systems.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

For Intel product, and others, check out ASI Corp.

Recently, we have been building a series of 1U SBS and secondary servers for clients.

One of the problems we run into, at least here in Canada, with the big three suppliers is stock on Intel product.

Why that is, is not exactly clear. But we usually have to wait when it comes to system builds on more "exotic" components like 1U servers when it comes to Synnex, Tech Data, and Ingram Micro (if we need to use Ingram).

One of the features that the Intel Server Configurator Tool has is to "Check Availability":

Intel Server Configurator 1U Configuration Completed

The key symbol beside the availability link means that we need to log into the Intel Reseller Center to follow through on the request. If you are not a Partner, then a sign up process will be in order. It is well worth it BTW.

Once logged in, we are able to choose which suppliers we want to poll for stock availability on the selected Intel Server components.

One of the listed suppliers is ASI Corp. Until recently, the big three have been meeting our needs within a somewhat decent time frame.

But lately, our demand for server product has been higher and getting stock has been a lot more difficult with them.

So, when checking stock on a server build, we chose the ASI Corp. option and we saw that they may have stock on components we need. Or, if not, it would be a good idea to give them a call to check them out.

Intel Authorized Distributor Availability

We put in a call and ended up talking with Michael T. at ASI's Canadian office.

Right from the get-go we were impressed. We were able to talk about what we do and what we were looking for and receive a clear and understanding response from Michael.

He promptly sent off the ASI Account Application forms, for which there was no $250+ fee BTW, and let us know that they had availability on all of the Intel components we were looking for.

Since sending the forms back, we have received a number of post application form and subsequent post quote calls from Michael. It is pretty neat to see. Why? Because hand holding a new client, spending a lot of extra time with them at the beginning to establish a business relationship, leaves a huge impression.

And, indeed it has. As a result, it looks as though ASI has swung into our number one choice for Intel Product, along with some other exclusive lines they carry like Antec, OCZ Technology, and Thermaltake.

As far as the stock availability check feature, the supplier list for us is North American based. The stock check feature may be available to you in your geographical area. The only way to be sure, is to become an Intel Reseller, give your Partner Number to your area's authorized distributors, and give it a whirl! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Thursday 6 March 2008

Microsoft Open Value Subscription - Email Consistency Required

We are in the process of setting up a new client on Microsoft's new Open Value Subscription Licensing.

An important thing to keep in mind: When the agreement has been issued via your supplier, the end user, your client, will need to have a Live ID associated with the email address on the agreement.

The order of things:
  1. Purchase Subscription Licensing on behalf of the client
  2. Client receives an email from Microsoft:
    • From: []
      Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2008 10:05 AM
      Subject: Action Required: Your Microsoft License Agreement is ready for signature (Agreement Number: XXXXXXXXXX )

      Dear My Client

      Your Microsoft Volume Licensing Agreement has been created by your Microsoft Channel Partner and is ready for acceptance.

      Initializing Your Account and Accepting Your Agreement

      In order to review and accept your licensing agreement please click the link below and follow the steps to initialize your Enterprise Portal Platform (EPP) account. EPP is the gateway to the eAgreements tool.

      Link here
  3. Click the Link
  4. Sign in with the client's Live ID and password
    • If the client does not have a Live ID associated with their email, one will need to be created.
    • If the client's Live ID has a weak password, the system will require that the password be changed to meet complexity requirements.
    • Write the information down in your secure client audit notes!
  5. Client will need to sign the agreement as indicated on the Web page.
One will not be able to sign up a Hotmail or other address just for license management purposes as was possible in the past. All communications from the License service will go to the email address associated with the subscription at purchase time. Thus, it is a good idea to use an email address the client uses on a regular basis.

Once the pending agreement has been signed, the agreement should go active in short order.

Expect any media associated with the subscription to be shipped out once it is active too.

Other than trying to figure out new part numbers and whether to license company-wide or by the seat, setting up the subscription for our client was relatively painless.

One of the benefits of the subscription is the ability to "True Up" on the anniversary date of the subscription. This means that our client can now add more seats to their environment and not need to pay for those seats until the anniversary of the agreement. This is true in the reverse too by the way. Drop a couple of users and one will need to wait until the anniversary of the agreement to adjust the number of licensed seats down.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

2.5" & 3.5" IDE/SATA to USB Adapters - Huge Time Savers!

The other day, one of the technical people on an email list for the Taurus V8 SHO that I personally belong to mentioned a tool that is one of those, "Why didn't I think of that" tools.

That is, why did I think of the idea, and why didn't I think that someone out there may be selling it.

The idea is actually very simple: Plug a USB cable into a system with a bare hard drive plugged into the other end receiving power from an alternate source and we have access to the drive.

Here is a screen shot of what one variation looks like:

IDE/SATA to USB Adapter

What a brilliant idea!

This little gem is going to save us huge amounts of time when working with our Data Mule (previous blog post) system. No more shutdowns to install a hard drive!

This will make our data recovery, imaging, and hard drive erasing tasks that much simpler.

Thanks to Doug of the V8 SHO Email List for the tip! :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Windows SharePoint Services Version 3 learning & SBS 2008

As soon as we found out about the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Primer book being updated and released last December, we put in an order for some.

The book is going to be used to facilitate training here in the shop for those wanting to attempt the 70-282 exam: Designing, Deploying, and Managing a Network Solution for a Small- and Medium-Sized Business.

We were also interested in the new section for the 70-631 exam: TS: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Configuring. Since we have some up coming client demands for customizing SharePoint installations to their particular needs, this section was of particular interest to us.

To date, there has been a dearth of Windows SharePoint Services Version 3 (WSSv3) information out there. Yes, there are some documents one can download from Microsoft's Web site, but they really did not flesh out the how and why of WSSv3.

So, we were pretty excited to receive the SMBNation books in mid to late January.

One should be prepared, 70-631 gets three chapters devoted to it. So, it will give a really good medium to big picture of working with WSSv3 with some finer technical details. There are exam preparation questions at the end of each chapter to facilitate one's knowledge building endeavors.

So, to dive deeper into WSSv3, the various install scenarios, and customizing WSSv3 sites, we need something more.

We recently received these two books:
  • Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services Version 3.0 Inside Out (0735623236)

  • Mastering Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (0470127287)

So far, the Microsoft book is by far the clearest and most organized of the two.

Our reading method is to work through the Microsoft chapter while augmenting what we read with the detailed information that can be had from the Sybex version. Both have very detailed information, but the MS book tends to be a little more intuitive in its layout and presentation.

Together, the two books are both technically excellent, providing good methodology for installing, configuring, and securing WSSv3 sites. Both come with CDs that provide an electronic version of the books, as well as multiple utilities, templates, and more.

For clients who discover WSSv3's abilities, the sky is the limit! WSSv3 is a sweet spot for revenue growth in our company. Having someone on staff who can work magic with site presentation as well as providing an excellent grasp on bringing the various WSSv3 components together specific to a client's needs is worth their weight in Gold.

One of the benefits we see with the new SBS 2008 Premium Edition that contains a stand-alone server license and SQL 2005 license is a dedicated database server for SharePoint. For busy internal and/or externally facing WSSv3 sites, having the ability to dedicated RAM and CPU power to the site can provide a very solid foundation for promoting an upgrade to SBS 2008 Premium.

Even smaller clients that utilize volumes of data for their business via VPN will see a huge benefit in dropping the VPN bandwidth overhead for access to their data on WSSv3 via a Remote Web Workplace SSL secure session.

In our opinion, all three books are highly recommended. For the MSBS Primer, check out SMBNation, for the other two, visit your favourite local technical book seller or online merchant.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Tuesday 4 March 2008

SBS Migrations - Get a little more than 7 days breathing room

One of our clients that we are performing a Swing Migration to new hardware for is going through some significant internal changes.

These changes happened after we were contracted to complete the migration.

All of the requisite systems including the new SBS box were already to go before the changes started to happen.

As a result, our timeline went from 5 days for the migration to about 14-16 days.

We were about to loose that new SBS box to the 7 day time limitation on not being promoted into the migration domain.

In comes the Official SBS Blog and a new update to save the day: Small Business Server 2003 Migration Update 943494 Released.

We now have a KB article: 943494: Software Update to Support “Join Domain” Migration of Windows Small Business Server 2003 Data and Settings to New Hardware and the update to download with it: Software Update to Support “Join Domain” Migration of Windows Small Business Server 2003 Data and Settings to New Hardware.

After downloading the update and applying it, we now have a 21 day grace period to work with the new box.

Software Update Installation Wizard for KB943494

Note that there are quite a number of localized versions of the download. Pay close attention to which Download button being clicked on.

Also, keep in mind that the update requires a reboot of the new SBS box.

KB943494 Reboot Required

If the update had not come along, we would have had to blow away the box and reschedule a Phase 1 SBS install on it. That would have been a great waste of time.

There are any number of foreseen and unforeseen reasons why a migration may need to take longer than the allowed 7 days. It is good to see that Microsoft has acknowledged those reasons with an extension to a 21 day grace period.

Kudos to the SBS Team for the update! :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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

Live ID Character Recognition Test ... Can you see it?

Windows Live ID Security Test

The above image says that there are 8 (eight) characters in it.

Initially, the J that is hidden between the 8 and the B was missed. However, we had to cycle through at least 3 (three) of these images before one had all of the characters legible enough to actually make them out in the above example.

Okay folks, yes ... some of us may be indeed visually challenged! :*O

However, when it gets to the point where one has to continually cycle through the images to find one that is reasonably legible, we have a problem.

Does this indicate that the malicious software that reads those images has gotten that good? Probably.

However, when it becomes easier for a machine to read the image versus a human being, things may have gotten a little out of hand.

It is time to look at some other alternatives.

By the way, don't even bother trying to make out the auditory clue if you have some sort of hearing challenge ... might as well be at a bar having a beer and trying to pick up on the conversation!

For service providers: Any type of "Security" initiative for a service that hinders a user from signing up or using the service does itself a disservice. Keep in mind that the "Security" initiative impedes a significant number of the population from using it!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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