Monday 31 December 2012

Microsoft Surface RT: WiFi Connection Error/Won’t Connect

Both of our home based Microsoft Surface RT units recently became unable to connect to any wireless connection.

It seems that the recent December updates that were supposed to _fix_ WiFi connectivity issues on the Surface RT actually broke ours that had nary a problem before.

Our home wireless setup is three Cisco WAP4410N APs set up with the same SSID and three separate channels. All APs have WPA2-Personal AES encrypted keys and all three radio bands B/G/N enabled.

All three APs are connected to a power supply (not using PoE).

After some searching and questions out and about in the forums we participate in the following seems to be true:

  • Wireless N is the problem.
  • Surface RT will connect on B and/or G.
  • Surface RT WiFi connector forced into G will connect.
  • WAPs switched to B/G Only will allow Surface RT to connect.

On one Surface RT uninstalling, rebooting, and then re-installing the MARVELL WiFi device seemed to get things straight.

On the other though nothing worked. We tried all manner of getting the unit to connect with no success.

So, we logged into all three AP Web consoles and switched the APs over to B/G Mode and tried to connect the Surface RT. Sure enough, the unit connected almost instantaneously.

We then switched the APs back to B/G/N Mode and rebooted the troublesome Surface RT.

To date it has stayed connected to the wireless network.

For now, we at least know what to do to get the units to cooperate again.

Hopefully whatever was broken with the last round of updates will be fixed in the next round! :P

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Friday 28 December 2012

Samsung ATIV S Camera Shots and Thoughts

The Samsung ATIV S is a great Windows Phone 8 device.

The voice command capability and voice recognition via Bluetooth is the best we have seen so far.

The camera also takes some pretty decent shots. Here are some shots taken while on the road this morning.


Edmonton City Skyline:


The city’s buildings are in the right side of the sunrise glow. Obviously with a sensor as small as the one is in the camera we are not able to get too detailed on those distance type shots.

Another of the skyline:


And yes, we have had around 24” of snow fall in the last few months:


One storm in around 14” (35cm-40cm) and another in at around 6” (15cm to 18cm). Then a whole smattering of smaller snowfalls.

Our really big beef with the ATIV S camera: The first shot takes EONS to focus and shoot. We have missed plenty a shot as a result of that. :(

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Western Digital USB Drives Use A Proprietary Drive PCB for USB

This comes via the SBS2K Yahoo Group.

Apparently, Western Digital in their great wisdom has decided to mass produce a hard drive controller with only one interface on it: USB.




As a rule we have been using the StarTech 4 bay SuperSpeed drive dock with bare drives for our backup rotations that we run.

For clients that have been running their own backup rotations we have been recommending the WD non-Green USB drives as we have had pretty good success with them. The same goes for the Seagate USB drives that are not “Green” in nature.

The one thing we have noticed with the manufacturer built USB drives is that there is a tendency to use 5400 RPM drives. And now, perhaps we are limited in how we can access a drive if something goes wrong with the controller.

Our preference for bare backup drives are:

  1. Seagate Enterprise Storage (ES or Constellation) series SATA
  2. Western Digital Black Label (non-Advanced Format for VHD/Backup VHD)

Both drives are 7200 RPM with better firmware than the retail/consumer drives. So, they will perform better and last longer due to ongoing handling during rotations.

We may request that in the future clients only purchase a certain drive and USB enclosure for their backups so that we have some control over what drives are used for backups.

As usual, it is Buyer Beware.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Thursday 27 December 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year! :)

So far, our Christmas has been an adventure to say the least!

From our family to yours we wish all y’all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!

Here’s to a great new year with much adventure to be had on land and in the clouds!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Friday 21 December 2012

Remote Desktop Services Error: One or more RD Licensing certificates has expired. Please re-register.

We have an Remote Desktop Services server that did the following when users tried to log in:


Since this particular system was headless we tried the /admin switch on an MSTSC command line start and fortunately we got into the server. A regular RDP file launch or MSTSC GUI client connection would fail with the above.

From the server’s Event Logs:

Log Name:      System
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-TerminalServices-Licensing
Date:          12/21/2012 6:16:51 PM
Event ID:      46
Task Category: None
Level:         Warning
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      RDSServer.DOMAIN.LOCAL
One or more RD Licensing certificates has expired. Please re-register.


Log Name:      System
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-TerminalServices-Licensing
Date:          12/21/2012 5:50:42 PM
Event ID:      4105
Task Category: None
Level:         Warning
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      RDSServer.DOMAIN.LOCAL
The Remote Desktop license server cannot update the license attributes for user "FirstLast" in the Active Directory Domain "DOMAIN.LOCAL". Ensure that the computer account for the license server is a member of Terminal Server License Servers group in Active Directory domain "DOMAIN.LOCAL".
If the license server is installed on a domain controller, the Network Service account also needs to be a member of the Terminal Server License Servers group.
If the license server is installed on a domain controller, after you have added the appropriate accounts to the Terminal Server License Servers group, you must restart the Remote Desktop Licensing service to track or report the usage of RDS Per User CALs.
Win32 error code: 0x80070005

According to our search results we need to do the following:

  1. Log onto the RD Licensing Server.
  2. Start the RD Licensing Manager (LicMgr.exe).
  3. Right click on the ServerName and Advanced –> ReActivate Server.
  4. Make the following choices:
    • image
  5. Click Next
    • image
  6. We then had a successfully re-activated server.
    • image

RemoteApps and RDS Desktop sessions were then available!


  • QuickBooks via RemoteApp.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Thursday 20 December 2012

StorageCraft IT Edition: Network Backup at AES128bit Performance

This is _neat_ to see:


This is a Windows 7 Enterprise x64 machine being backed up across the wire (Gigabit) to a Windows Server 2008 R2 file server using ShadowProtect IT Edition (v4.x.x).

We used AES 128bit encryption with a pass phrase for this particular backup.

  • Intel Core i7-875K
  • Intel DP55KG (BIOS 3878)
  • 4GB Kingston ValueRAM

When at all possible it is our preference to run our backup and restore to a network location as USB 2 is just _too_ slow.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Why We Terminate All CAT Cable Runs Outside The Enclosure

Our longest standing client is about to move after being in the same location for somewhere around 20 years.

Their current location required some wiring changes around 10 years ago and the electrical contractor wanted to terminate inside the enclosure. At that time, we had seen quite a few enterprise level racks that had that setup so we accepted that configuration.

The APC 24U enclosure has two bundles running into it with the patch panel mounted at the back and top of the APC.

Years ago we were looking to move the enclosure into a different location within the server closet but could not because the loops left in the ceiling were not long enough to allow much movement at all.

And today, we are in a position where we will need to cut the cables in order to move the enclosure out of the closet when it comes time to move.

Ever since that day we wanted to move that enclosure and could not we have always recommended that all CAT cabling be terminated in a patch panel that sits in a wall mount.

We would then use patch cables properly strung to remove any weight bearing on the cable ends plugged into the patch panel into the enclosure mounted switch or switches.

As of this writing our recommended network cabling setup is:

  • Minimum CAT5e with CAT6 being preferred.
    • A box of CAT6 is no longer that much more than CAT5e.
    • Home Depot shows CAT6 at $250 for 305m (1000’).
  • Prefer a minimum of _two_ cables per drop.
    • One for PC and one for Phone.
  • Patch Cables are CAT6 or CAT6a
  • Patch Panel is a minimum spec of CAT5e with CAT6 being the preference.
  • Wall mount for Patch Panel and cable management
    • 5U or 8U works fine.
    • Phone/VOIP on separate patch panel with different colour jacks.
    • Mounted above 6’6” so most folks won’t bump their head!
  • Contractor gives us a minimum of 5m (~15’) of loop in the ceiling.
  • Contractor gives a print-out of _all_ drop’s capabilities after job is completed.
    • We expect this. We have had problems with bad runs if an electrician versus an actual cabling contractor do the runs.

With the above specifications we are able to move any rack mount enclosure about a server closet or room by changing the length of the patch cables versus bringing in a contractor to re-wire the solution on the wall.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Samsung ATIV S Windows Phone 8 Thoughts and Tweaks

Wow, is this ever a _nice_ phone!

It’s light, though a bit slippery, and the screen is brilliant.

Some initial observations:

  • My music collection lists were there as soon as I signed into the Music App!
    • Now to authorize it and remove my HD7 from the allowed list.
  • Added a 32GB Class 10 microSD Card
    • Split storage between pictures on the phone and multimedia on the card.
    • This is a killer feature that no other Windows Phone 8 device has at this time.
  • Bluetooth clarity is awesome in the 2010 Sierra’s hands free setup.
    • Voices come through a lot clearer than the HD7 ever did on the same system.
  • Windows 8 seamless integration wins!
    • All my social media accounts were there without having to do anything.
    • Automatic profile migration via Microsoft ID/Live ID is absolutely awesome.
  • The raised Windows button at the bottom is a nice touch.
    • No accidental touch happening like the HD7 did.
  • The phone is big.
    • One handed operation with my stubby fingers is a bit of a challenge.
  • The screen is beautiful.
    • Wow ... everything looks really good on this phone.
  • Icon Organization
    • It took about 15 minutes to get my key mail folders (I have hundreds) synchronized and then set up the way I like them on the Start screen.
  • The ability to have three sizes for the Live Tiles is awesome!

Once the phone is set up the next step is to give it a name.


On a Windows 8 machine or Sufrace: WIN+F, Store, and search for “Windows Phone”.

It’s in the bottom left of the above snip. It takes all of a second to install.

Run the app:


Give the phone a name and then we are done with the configuration.

We then get a big picture view of the phone’s status:


My daughter and my eldest son were hamming it up a bit for the front facing camera on the phone. ;)

To the right above we find:



Click on the Finding a lost phone link and give it a minute:


It’s bang on. I don’t know whether I’m happy or “Minority Report” concerned about that!

Oh, and a little surprise turned up in our Inbox:


Someone will always know where I am though. ;)


This is a really _kewl_ phone!

Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 work seamlessly together across device platforms via Microsoft ID to make adding a new device and managing devices a simple process.

It really does look like a lot of effort has been put into the social integration and ease of use across devices that can be found on other platforms.

So far, we have connected a number of new Windows 8 devices, computers, VMs, and online services and they _just work_ across all of those platforms.

The Bluetooth connectivity is second to none. It is clear and crisp and sounds great on all devices that have been connected to it so far. Bluetooth on this phone is definitely superior to the HTC HD7.

Xbox Music Pass

Oh, and if you want to save yourself perhaps thousands of dollars in useless song purchases on the other services get an Xbox Music Pass. No 30 second snippet of something that may or may not stick around in the playlists.

Download, listen, add to playlists, and then if the song is something worth purchasing do so to get an MP3 version that becomes portable and permanent.

Four devices can be hooked into the service with all Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 devices keeping all playlists and music synchronized across them! No more juggling multiple devices to figure out how to get music libraries moved around.

Hat Tip on the WP8 App: MVP Tom Zeigmann

NOTE: The Rogers version has 16GB of on board useable memory. Yesterday we posted that they had a 32GB version. The wires were crossed with the external storage capability of up to 32GB.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Monday 17 December 2012

Poll: Which Windows Phone 8 Device and Why?

We finally have Windows Phone 8 devices on Bell Mobility here in Canada. With Monique’s Lumia 710 phone on Rogers we need at least one Bell/TELUS phone as Rogers has poor rural coverage.

The HTC 8X looks like a decent phone but at 16GB of internal storage with no way to add more it is out of the running.

That leaves the Samsung ATIV S and the Nokia Lumia 920.

Having looked at both there are plus and minus points for both.

  • Lumia 920
    • Camera setup is supposed to be the best.
    • Weight is a factor. The phone is _heavy_ compared to the Samsung.
    • 32GB of storage can be a bit small.
      • No microSD capability.
    • The colour choice is neat.
    • LTE bands are 700/850/1900/1700/2100 (Rogers)
  • Samsung ATIV S
    • Allows for 32GB of external storage to be added.
      • Bell version comes with 16GB of on board storage (96GB total).
      • Rogers version comes with 32GB of on board storage (indicates no microSD though).
      • Important for that large Zune/Xbox Music Pass library!
    • Phone is _really_ light.
    • The phone is quite large to handle.
    • LTE band(s):
      • 700MHz (Bell shows only one band)
      • 700/850/1900/1700/2100 (Rogers)

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. :0)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Skype and Live IM on Windows 8 Not Playing Nice Together

We have both Skype and MSN (Messenger on Win8) going with messages showing on one and sometimes in the other.


The above snip is from Skype on Windows 8. Messages sent via IM Messaging in Windows 8 appear on other system’s IM and Skype but for some reason Skype messages sent via Skype on this Windows 8 system do not.

If we are to drop MSN Messenger/Live Messenger altogether one would hope that the system’s bugs will be worked out.

For now, we will continue to run both service clients on this system and others until messages sent via either client show up 100% on the other.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Thursday 6 December 2012

Internet Explorer: Click On Links And Nothing Happens

We have come across some strange behaviours in IE over the last number of months.

Mainly, the user clicks on a link and nothing happens.

Run the following steps and test after each one. A reboot may be best after each step to reseat things.

  1. Step 1
    1. Microsoft KB281679 You cannot open a new Internet Explorer window or nothing occurs after you click a link
  2. Step 2
    1. Microsoft KB555027 Internet Explorer open with a blank page instead of web site
  3. Step 3
    1. Windows Networking: Internet Explorer is corrupted... how do I fix it?
      • Nuke and Pave
      • Takes time especially on older units.

In most cases step 3 resolved the problem.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Monday 3 December 2012

Hyper-V: Disk Queue Length Can Kill Everything

When it comes to configuring an I/O subsystem for a standalone Hyper-V virtualization solution we need to keep in mind that the entire disk subsystem can impact the server's overall performance.

Here is a snip of a fairly high performance portable outfit:


Now, keep in mind that the above VMs (3) were running on a Portege Z830 with an OCZ Nocti SSD for system disk and a 480GB Intel 520 Series SSD in an Zalman ZM-VE300 USB 3 external enclosure.

While the throughput is as to be expected on this portable platform at 100MB/Second or thereabouts note the Disk Queue Length for all disks.

Now, take a look at this server based configuration:


Note the disk queue length on the system disk: 50!

Now, given that there is a high performance disk subsystem for the VMs we can see that there may actually be a lot more performance for this system to offer if the OS partition was resident on the high I/O setup.

The rule of thumb for Disk Queue Length is:

  • 16 disks in the array then Queue Length should be 8 or less.
  • 24 disks in the array then Queue Length should be 12 or less.
  • # Disks /2 = Reasonable Queue Length

We believe that keeping our configurations balanced across the _entire_ disk subsystem is critical to having the best performance a server can possibly bring to the table.

  • Hardware RAID Controller
    • 512MB or 1GB of Cache
    • Flash Cache or Battery Backup
  • 10K SAS spindles to start.
  • 15K SAS spindles for higher IOPs needs.
  • 7200 RPM SAS spindles can be considered where 16 or more will be installed.
  • Intel 320 Series SSDs for the best IOPs performance.
    • Note that one needs to consider that a full compliment of SSDs can _saturate_ the system bus!

In our case the jury is still out on whether SSD Cache can be of benefit for a standalone solution where there are half a dozen to a dozen VHDX files on our combined storage for the VMs.

Where we have 2TB or more of available storage we configure a 120GB Logical Disk on the RAID controller for our OS and then the balance for our VHDX files with a small 4GB partition for the OS Swap File.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Thursday 29 November 2012

ZoneEdit: How to add a Tertiary DNS Server

We needed to add another DNS server to the default two that come with the ZoneEdit DNS service.

Figuring out how was a bit of a rat’s nest.

After a note to support we have:


  1. Add a new record.
  2. Subdomain: @
  3. Type: NS
  4. TTL: 7200
  5. Hostname: Choose the tertiary DNS server.
    • Note: Make sure the tertiary is in a different geographical location than the other two.

Note that adding an extra DNS server is 1 credit per month.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Monday 26 November 2012

Hyper-V in a Multi-Core Hyper-Threaded World

Here are some points on how we configure our physical Hyper-V hosts:

  • Hyper-Threading is disabled.
    • Logical “cores” will not help with performance where the CPU will still need to juggle between physical and virtual cores (the Hyper-Thread).
  • TurboBoost is disabled.
  • SpeedStep and Wait States are disabled.
    • See Hyper-Threading.
  • Cooling Profile: Set to Maximum Performance
    • We may pay a few pennies more for not bringing things down with all of these settings but our priority is the stability of our systems plus their instantly available performance characteristics.

Now, for the virtual machines we need to keep the following in mind as far as a rule of thumb in our SMB/SME space:

  • Number of Physical Cores on one CPU = Maximum Number of vCPUs.
  • Amount of RAM on one CPU –1GB = Maximum RAM assigned to 1 VM.

Physical Cores

Some perspective:

  • A vCPU = a Thread to the physical CPU.
  • Multiple vCPUs = multiple threads to the physical CPU.
  • All Hyper-V vCPU threads must be processed simultaneously by the CPU physical Cores.
    • Therefore: Performance is impacted if more vCPUs/Threads are assigned to 1 VM than physical cores are available on 1 physical CPU.

System Memory

This subject is a bit more tricky since the information that we can gather on NUMA spanning is quite limited in scope. From what we can tell, the number of NUMA Nodes depends on the number of memory controllers in the system or on the CPU.

  • Rule of Thumb: Assign RAM associated with 1 physical CPU – 1GB to VM.
    • If there is more than 1 NUMA node per CPU then factor in RAM assignments accordingly.

Performance Configurations

Given the above we can surmise that:

  1. A VM will perform at its best if the number of vCPUs assigned to it equals or is less than the number of physical cores on one CPU.
    • And:
  2. A VM will perform at its best if the amount of RAM assigned to it is equal to or less than the amount managed by one NUMA node.


Any time the physical server needs to juggle threads across CPUs or fetch memory content from other NUMA Nodes or RAM managed by another CPU’s memory we run into performance hits.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Tuesday 20 November 2012

A Moment Of Inspiration For Tough Times

As mentioned in my previous post I spent quite a few years in the automotive industry before getting bit by the Computer Bug.

We are now in the midst of a huge change in our industry on so many fronts that many of us feel a little lost for direction.

This angst has been the general theme/feeling at SMB Nation right through to the SBS User Group event we attended while in Dallas last week. Many of us are feeling the pinch.

Henry Ford: The Underdog

Just think for a moment if Henry Ford had threw in the towel. Where would we be?

Most certainly not where we are today with our transportation systems being a very key aspect throughout our lives. Not to mention the advancements in production he is responsible for.

We can and will make the transition from SBS to the new Windows Server 2012 Essentials stack including Exchange 2013 as a part of that solution!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Whoever Said Microsoft Burned the OEMs with Surface Was Wrong ...

We have the following product here in the shop:


The above shot is of the Microsoft Surface sitting on top of a Toshiba Satellite U920t Ultrabook convertible.

Fernando of Toshiba Canada popped by yesterday to drop off the U920t to let us play with it for a couple of days.

Now, first off, this is an _engineering sample_ that is pre-production quality.

Let’s just say that again: The U920t is pre-production.

Let’s have a look:


And now the killer feature:


The screen slides upwards to reveal a keyboard and touch pad.


Now, we keep tilting the screen and:


We can bring that screen almost to 90 degrees perpendicular to the keyboard.

One of the principle gripes about the Surface is its one-size-fits-all stand that causes a cramp in taller folk’s neck or limits where the product can be placed for usage.

The Toshiba gives the user the freedom to tilt that display to whatever angle will be required for the given placement circumstances.

User Reaction

We have two Microsoft Surface 64GB units. One for Monique and one for myself. They have been put to good use since their purchase.

Monique’s initial reaction to the U920t was “Meh” it’s bigger and heavier.

However, as soon as the display was sliding up to reveal the keyboard her eyes absolutely lit up. The unit went over to her and we can all guess what happened next. :D

Needless to say Fernando indicated to us that the unit cannot be purchased on the spot!

They should hit Canadian distribution sometime in the next few weeks or so.

Microsoft And OEMs

IMNSHO, anyone claiming that Microsoft one-upped their OEMs was _way_ off base with those comments.


Because this _engineering sample_ once it was in our hands made it absolutely crystal clear that the Microsoft Surface is a v1 product.

The refinement and all-around integrity in the Toshiba product was and is vastly superior to the Surface in its current form.

In my mind, via my having roots in the auto industry, the Surface reminds me of the Hyundai Pony made by the then fledgling automaker. It accomplished its task but not without a lot of bugs and being technologically far behind other budget minded autos of the time.

Surface and Satellite Specs

Now, one thing to make clear.

The U920t is larger than the Surface and thus heavier. To have that keyboard tucked in as it does means more weight for the mechanism to keep things together.

Plus, we are talking about a mobile i5 processor next to the ARM in the Surface so battery weight will be greater in the U920t.

However, the Core i5 gives the U920t more grunt to work with those full Windows compatible applications.

In a way we are talking apples to oranges here in that the Surface does meet a very specific need for a light weight and ultra-portable device with a built-in keyboard. It also does almost everything that it’s PC/Laptop cousins do with a little help from a 3G/LTE hotspot.

However, despite the extra weight the size of the U920t makes it much more attractive as a laptop/portable replacement.

Oh, and the U920t solves the finger poking the screen thing that has been happening on the Portege Z830 since Windows 8 Enterprise x64 was installed on it. :)


We will probably have at least one Surface 64GB unit with Furry Keyboard Cover (that’s the first thought that came into my head when I saw the default keyboard – it looks furry) for sale once the U920t hits the market.

The point of this post is the following: Many took the whole Surface ecosystem as being a hit against the OEM Vendors. After seeing and working with the Toshiba Satellite U920t nothing can be further from the truth.

While in Las Colinas Texas last week for training at the Microsoft Campus for Windows Server 2012 Essentials and Multi-Point Server Lenovo did a vendor blitz in the Microsoft dining room one lunch hour. The Windows 8 convertibles and touch enabled laptops were flat out amazing to see, touch, and work with.

Again we were stymied when we wanted to purchase one on the spot! The touch enabled laptop was just _that good_.

While our thoughts on this subject may be based on a few samples of OEM Vendor’s Windows 8 products one conclusion can be drawn here: Microsoft has a _huge_ gap to make up to come even remotely close to the all-around product engineering, manufacturing, quality, and end-user experience that the current OEMs provide in their products.

The Windows 8 OS the product does not make.

One requires an attractive and solid hardware platform around the OS that provides the end-user with a platform that performs and remains relatively stable across its lifetime.


Apple’s stock will be under a lot of pressure in the next year or two due to the loss of iDevice sales into schools and businesses as the Windows 8 portable RT and PRO platforms mature. Never mind their rumbling about dropping the Intel platform (Huh? Who the Chicken thought up that idea?!?)

While the phone side of things is still up in the air there is no doubt that Apple has a clear winner in their iOS platform across devices. The catch is that their platform is getting stale.

Microsoft and their OEM Vendor partners are only just beginning to bring about what we believe will be a revolution in personal computing like we have not seen in years.

Having the Windows 8 experience across device platforms is going to change things for WinTel and now WinARM ... big time!

Apple has gifted the industry with the freedom to produce products that no longer fit into the black or silver box mode. We believe we are now just beginning to see that happening in the PC industry across devices of all statures and abilities.

One word: Neat!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Monday 19 November 2012

American Airlines and Good Maintenance?!?

Needless to say we will probably be avoiding any flights run by A/A going forward:


  • American Airlines flight 2081 DFW to YYC via MD-80 (Super 80) Saturday November 17th, 2012.

The Boost Pump cover was pretty much dry when we took off. Once up to speed and altitude it became readily apparent that something underneath that cover was not healthy.

A steady bubbling stream of what may have been oil or fuel made is way out of both sides of the cover. The stream further way from us was a lot stronger as evidenced by the walking strips dark colour.

By the time we landed and taxied to the gate the dampness had all but disappeared. This made the situation all the more disconcerting since fuel is bound to evaporate at such a rate while oil would continue to stain and leave residue.

The principle reason A/A will be avoided? After waiting to “deplane” until everyone had left I made a point of mentioning the leak to one of the pilots and received a “meh” kind of response.

The moment union work rules, egos, hurt feelings, company culture, or whatever reason impedes a company’s ability to provide a service or solution safely and efficiently to their customers/clients is the moment that company ceases to represent the best value for customer’s/client’s hard earned cash.

Even if it costs more to fly with another carrier, we can perhaps take comfort in knowing that the extra cost may be put into inspecting and maintaining a modern carrier fleet.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Thursday 8 November 2012

Windows 8 x64 Enterprise Install on Portege Z830 Was Great

We tried to get the Release Candidate of Windows 8 installed on a Toshiba Portege Z830 with not very positive results.

This go around with the RTM bits was about 96% successful. We ended up needing the Bluetooth driver and the Fingerprint Reader driver from Toshiba's site.

After verifying the versions of the software we downloaded the versions attached to the Z930-007 for Windows 7 since they were newer.

In addition to those two drivers the Toshiba Service Station should be installed to keep the machine's drivers and BIOS up to date. Also, to get the special function keys to work and the ability to toggle the Touch Pad on and off requires the Toshiba Value Added Package.

In the RC we were not able to get our 14" Toshiba USB external monitor to initialize at all. The DisplayLink drivers were non-existent in the OS and the Windows 7 drivers refused to install at all. We are happy to report that the DisplayLink driver is built into RTM Windows 8.

So, we are able to run the external display via USB 2. Besides the ability to Extend the primary display for two distinct desktops we are able to Duplicate the primary display on the external display for small one or two person presentations.

A pico projector would be another option but a power supply is required. The Toshiba USB monitor is powered by the USB connection as well so no additional cables or power requirements are to be had.

There is one very noticeable addition in computing behaviour now that we have Windows 8 on the Surface, multi-monitor systems in the shop, and now the Portege Z830 with single or dual display: The tendency to reach over and touch the monitor. This tendency emerged after acquiring the Surface.  :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Fall SMB Nation Presentation Video is on Our YouTube Channel

We posted my SMB Nation Fall Conference video on our YouTube channel..

SMB Nation Fall 2012 Conference Presentation

The slides for the presentation is here on the SlideShare site:


There may be a blank there. The link goes to the presentation deck though.

Please do take the time to have a listen. I believe it will be worth the time. Plus, I end with a real bang!

Thanks for reading. :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Independent AntiVirus Vendor Product Review Resources

We need some independent voices when it comes to the plethora of AntiVirus products out there.

In our search we have come up with the following resources that provide some insight into the various AntiVirus products out there and how affective they are.


So far the best one we have come up with is:

Their Magic Quadrant is an awesome at-a-glance view of current product:


The above chart is a great comparison of a great many AntiVirus vendor’s products.


This site has some great charts with a number of important factors that should be a part of our A/V product analysis.

There are a number of different reports available on this site.



The above charts give us some inclination on how the product protects the endpoint but also how it impacts the performance of the endpoint machine.

It used to be that A/V products could greatly hinder a user’s day-to-day duties. With today’s PCs that is not so much a problem anymore but one should still be mindful of any possible impact especially for power users.


This site has a limited product list with a few informative charts based on the host operating system being protected.

The link above is to their corporate products list:


Note the lack of AVG listed anywhere on this chart.

Based on the Virus Bulletin results and the A-V Comparatives results we are confident that AVG can be a viable alternative to Symantec’s EndPoint Protection.

We will be looking at deploying the AVG product here and as a pilot at one of our more active accounting firms to get some real-world experience with it.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Monday 5 November 2012

APC UPS Product Comparison Quick Access and Surge Let-Through

Sometimes it takes a while to root around and figure out where things are.

We were looking at comparing the two 1500VA rack mount UPS offerings from APC and initially found it difficult to find the comparison button:


It is the third item down in the left column. :)



The number we are looking for is the Surge Let-Through. Both should be the same or very similar but for some reason finding the number for the SURTA1500RMXL2U has been more than difficult.

So, we called: 1-800-800-4272 and chose the Support Option for Smart-UPS. Our result:

They are virtually identical.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

An Absolutely Awesome SSD Explanation – TechNet Video on Using SQL with SSDs

This video is phenomenal:


While the video is an hour and a bit long, there are download links to be had. This is one video that belongs on the ZuneHD or Windows Phone or any other player for listening while driving (though don’t concentrate too hard to the point of losing focus on the task at hand!).

The presenter is Karel Coenye. His Twitter handle is @Ryazame.

He gives such an awesome session on SSDs, what they are, what the can do, what they cannot do, and their strengths and weaknesses. This video is well worth the time for anyone considering SSD in a server setting or for those that have already deployed SSDs in a server setting.

Hat Tip: Henry Craven via the SBS2K Yahoo Group.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Friday 2 November 2012

Cisco Product End-of-Life and End-of-Sale Notices

As part of the previous post we are looking for an 8 port Cisco Gigabit switch that does Power-over-Ethernet.

Before clicking the CheckOut button in that supplier’s online console it’s a good idea to know which products are sitting at the end of their life.

Otherwise, for the Cisco Partner there may be no post-sales support for the product beyond warranty needs.

The same goes for any other vendor’s products. After working with them over time it becomes a little easier to know when a particular product we have been supplying is on its way out.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Cisco Small Business WAP321 and Power

There is something to say about the acronym RTFM.

While the meaning is NSFW (don’t we all just love acronyms?) we have all BTDT.

We ordered a number of the new Cisco WAP321 access points. They are the replacement for the WAP4410N that we have been using for the last few years.

Well, here we are on deployment day and opening the boxes to get them set up prior to deploying them at our client’s site.

Guess what?

They don’t include power adapters.

Meh ... Shoulda read that manual right at the heading “Items in the Box” instead of leaving the boxes on the shelf until today.

Fortunately the existing wireless setup is online and we are running a multi-day process. So, we can order in the adapters and get things going early next week.

We all know what assumptions do right?

Happy Friday everyone and thanks for reading. :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Thursday 1 November 2012

Anyone Else Getting Fed Up with Ads? Microsoft Surface RT Fail

Yeah, folks need to get the word out.

Yeah, advertising is one way to do that.

Do I want to look at your ad while in the loo? Probably not.

Do I want to see Cadillac ads in my browser sessions following a visit to their site to look at the new CTS-V Wagon? No.

We just finished a bunch of online banking transactions on a Windows 7 system. We moved on to doing some research and sure enough there were Royal Bank of Canada banners all over many of the sites we hit after that.

We have seen the trends towards Minority Report with facial recognition becoming the norm with the AI in the background recognizing what catches our eyes and thus pushing more of that stuff at us. This after a profile is built on us.

Those in the MSM that state Google is a “Search Company” sure don’t look at the revenue numbers that the company publishes every year. They are an advertising company that pushes other’s wares via search results.

The endgame for Google was never to be the best search engine on the planet. The endgame for Google is that their current stock prices is somewhere North of $650 a share.

Facebook has been looking at ways of monetizing that huge repository of data in their grasp and have totally missed the boat on it.

Hey Mr. Zuckerberg give me a call, I have a business plan from start to finish that may push the envelope on what is possible with that data and advertising has very little to do with it!

What spawned this little somewhat off-topic rant?

The Cadillac ad at the end of the Business News on the Sufrace RT.

I don’t want to see built-in advertising on a machine I just paid $720 for!

At least give me the option to turn the bloody things off. Even if I have to pay an extra $100 for that I would. However, that option should have been apparent _before_ purchasing the device.

Between you, me, and the fence post Surface just stopped dead. We will be looking at other vendor’s RT devices as options. We will also be watching out to see if the advertising is a Windows 8 RT thing specific to the Surface or whether the advertising shows up on _all_ RT devices.

If built-in advertising plagues the other vendor’s RT product lines then we will not be looking at RT any further.

Since Surface Pro is aimed at business there can only be a shred of hope that built-in advertising will not be found anywhere on the device.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Microsoft Surface RT First Impression

We picked up a Microsoft Surface RT 64GB unit for myself yesterday.We also picked one up for Monique as she does a fair amount of e-mail and research for her homeschool duties.

While Apple is most certainly the king of the product box experience the Surface is very well packaged and easy to get to for those eager to get started.

It takes a bit for it to start up. The start-up routine between answering the initial profile questions (ours are both MicrosoftID integrated) and then the OS post question configuration took a bit.

If there is one thing that Microsoft has the others beat on in this game of Synergy between device environments it’s definitely to be found in the Windows 8 experience.

Howz that?

Once a person has set up their first Windows Phone 7 device, in this case both of us quite a while ago, and then their first Windows 8 Desktop (even without the initial Windows Phone setup), the Windows 8 experience keeps going on between devices.

Almost all aspects of social integration can be had on all Windows Phone 7/8 devices and now Windows 8 PCs, tablets, and RT based tablets with little more than signing in with the same LiveID/MicrosoftID.


The time savings is huge especially for those that have fairly complicated profiles and Live Tile setups.

So, once the MicrosoftID side of things is flying along it’s not too difficult to add another Windows 8 device. That means that when the Surface Pro gets released sometime around Christmas or in the New Year setup is again going to be fairly straight forward.

The device is neat. It’s easy to use with a bit of a learning curve for the swipe gestures.

It’s quick and so far quite fun to play Fruit Ninja on. Angry Birds Space will be the next step. :)

Now, the one hurdle that this device will need to overcome: Our kids, who have been exposed to iDevices at their friend’s and cousin’s place) have been repeatedly calling it an “iPad”.

It will take a while for them and others to adjust to the reality that the device is not made and/or called anything remotely close to the Fruit Company’s devices.

Is this device an iPad killer?

This early in the game? Probably not.

However, the Surface RT is only the first salvo in what is going to be a really awesome fur is flying competition between the two giants.

IMNSHO, the advantage goes to Microsoft. Why?

Apple has been doing the same thing, in little increments, for a long time. Much like a chef that has a great recipe that gets tweaks and changes over time the recipe is growing stale.

Microsoft has a brand new recipe. And not only that, they are not the only chefs in the Kitchen. Toshiba, Asus, Acer, and other OEMs are going to be releasing some of the best PC/RT platform innovation we have seen in our industry _ever_.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Stormy Cloud: Murphy’s At Work Today

Meh, our Canadian suppliers are 1 for three today:


The fourth supplier we deal with primarily for Intel Server Systems (EPSD) product is ASI Canada because they can transfer up from their Freemont, CA warehouse while the others order direct and we end up waiting.

We are looking for information on the HP Omni27 product that looks absolutely amazing for a 27” All-in-One.

HP’s site absolutely stinks for product information:



By stinks we mean that there is no link to be seen to product specifications other than the silly (IMNSHO) product video links.

When we click on the HPShopping link we get:


Now we’re batting 1 in 5.

A Bing Search gets us to the product support page.

And, just what brought this search about?


A client of ours has a number of the original 27” TouchSmart PCs. This one has a bum hard disk in it so we dropped an Intel 80GB 320 Series SSD and loaded Windows 8 Professional on it.

Wow ...

This OS is at home on a 27” touch capable display. Now, if only we can find out whether the Omni 27 PC is available in our channel! :)

Now to run BurnInTest Pro to see if the rest of the machine is okay beyond the hard disk.

Oh, and Wow ... just wow on Windows 8 and touch. :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Monday 29 October 2012

Stormy Cloud Number 2: ExchangeDefender Australia and an Apology

Karl and Manuel Palachuk called me to task on the previous blog post especially over our qualification mentioning ExchangeDefender Exchange Hosting (xD) not being the vendor of record that killed folk’s mailboxes.

While we had seen bits and pieces about a problem with OWN’s hosted Exchange in Australia we were so busy that there was not enough time to actually let the news settle in:


So, Karl and Manuel, my apologies. I should have been aware of the impact that the OWN catastrophic failure had on the folks of Australia before posting the previous entry.

With the apparent abandonment of the folks that were on the hosted Exchange 2007 platform in Australia that begs the question: What does this mean for folks that have their organization’s mailboxes on Exchange 2007 here in North America? Or, any other geographical area that OWN services with Exchange 2007?

By abandonment we mean leaving the entire Exchange 2007 platform behind. We are not entirely sure where the mailbox recovery stands at this point? Vlad?

One of our clients has their hosted Exchange 2007 with SherWeb based here in Canada. We’ve been discussing the various Cloud vendors available to them including Office 365 and OWN’s hosted Exchange 2010 services. And now, possibly hosted Exchange 2013.

The one place SherWeb has both O365 and OWN beat is in the migration story. Karl mentions documentation in his first comment on the above blog post. SherWeb has a clearly documented migration story among other aspects of their hosting business.

With O365 and OWN that migration story must be handled by the IT Solution Provider or Cloud Support Specialist. :)

In the end, just as the hardware and software story are constantly changing for our on-premises IT Solutions so too must we be evaluating our Cloud Vendor’s wares on an ongoing basis.

Most certainly the situation in Australia is a real Cause For Pause when it comes to OWN’s hosted Exchange.

For us, it means looking further into SherWeb as a possible hosted Exchange and SharePoint vendor partner.

Cloud or On-Premises: A _full_ backup of all data hosted outside of a client’s walls is absolutely mandatory.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Stormy Cloud: Vendor Deleted Mailboxes by Mistake and Could NOT Recover Them!

A vendor that shall remain nameless, not OWN/ExchangeDefender, that hosts a domain e-mail setup for a client that we are deploying Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Exchange 2013 Standard, RDS, and an LoB server for had an “internal miscommunication” and deleted the client’s entire e-mail setup on their own systems.

We started getting calls Saturday afternoon with our team walking up and down our steps and communications with the Cloud Vendor to make sure we were in the right.

It turns out that an update was posted to the service ticket:


Other than the spelling error for “waive” in the last sentence this particular vendor has really messed up.

How is it that they are unable to recover any mailboxes that they host? In this case they are POP3/SMTP/IMAP that is probably on some sort of Linux operation.

About 50% of the client’s users were only using the Webmail interface for their e-mail with little to no device interaction either. So, these folks are at a complete loss.

The Outlook POP3 based users are not so bad off.

Wow, what a way to start a Monday morning for many of the client’s users.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Friday 26 October 2012

Lab: Using Windows Server 2008 R2 as a Simple NAT Router

We have a number of lab setups that require the VMs to be on their own Private Network in Hyper-V but still have access to the Internet.

In some cases we need to have access to that private network and the VMs just as we would a product network.

In comes Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. We set up the VM with two vNICs. One is connected to the Private Network while the other is connected to the Internet via our internal production network (gives us quick access to the lab VMs).

  1. We install the OS
  2. Install Integration Services.
  3. Install the Network Policy and Access Services Role.
  4. Run the Configure and Enable Routing and Remote Access.
  5. Choose VPN and NAT
    • image
  6. Set the WAN connection.
  7. Allow DHCP to be set automatically.
  8. No RADIUS for authentication
    • image
  9. Click OK to the DHCP Relay warning.

We now have an internal router that will allow the VMs on the Private Network to reach out to the Internet.

Finally, to publish internal services via the WAN connection:

  1. Click on NAT under IPv4
    • image
  2. Right click on the WAN Interface in the centre pane and click Properties.
    1. Click on HTTPS (443) and a window pops up.
    2. Enter the IP address of the server hosting HTTPS and click OK.
  3. Tick the check to the left of HTTPS and then click Apply (if it did not do so).
    • image
  4. Repeat for the needed published services.
  5. Test the connections:
    • image
    • image

In the end, it should take no more than 20 minutes to have the first router configured.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer

Installing Microsoft Exchange 2013: Unified Communications Managed API 4.0 Runtime Not Found

During our test run at installing Microsoft Exchange 2013 Standard on our newly minted Windows Server 2012 Essentials domain we hit a weird error that turned out to be a PEBKAC (me) issue.

When one does a search for Exchange 2013 Prerequisites a number of different sites come up that deal with installing Exchange 2013. However, most, if not all have Exchange 2013 Preview and or Preview components linked in their posts.


The above snip is from the Microsoft Download site. Note the top one. Most of the blog posts link to the (Preview) download! :P


So, about half an hour after exercising our ability to discover the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over all the while expecting a different result) We discovered that the download was different via a Microsoft link (not sure which one).

Another clue that should have rattled the brain cells at this late hour in the day was not the following:


It was actually the fact that all of the Unified Communications Managed API 4.0 Runtime (Preview) was in that list!

Oh, and by the way, the Exchange 2013 setup routine will do the necessary AD preparation:


So, please make sure to have a System State Backup in place before running the Exchange 2013 Setup Routine!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Windows Live Writer