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