Monthly Archives: November 2007

New Radiator – same day!

I received my new radiator from radiators.com within 2 hours of me ordering it this morning.  I will be picking up some distilled water, anti-freeze and hoses tonight and begin the transplant procedure.  I hope the patient survives the surgery, I hear the surgeon isn’t that good.

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My Miata is home sick today

Last night my Miata came down with a fever and a runny nose.  I pulled into the garage to find my temperature gauge all the way to the H and white steam was starting to roll out from the engine compartment.  I immediately checked it out and found a crack in the top of my Radiator.  It was spraying out white steam from the top of the radiator. 

Since my baby was sick, I had to take Sarah to school in the van and then drive the van to work right from her school.  I was only a little late for work which wasn’t too bad. 

I checked around online for some prices for a replacement radiator and found a website radiator.com which I used to contact them about a radiator for my Miata.  They are a direct to consumer distributor, and have price matching and guaranteed lowest prices which was good.  I ended up getting a new radiator, with a lifetime warranty for my Miata for $169 with free same day delivery to my home. 

The miata.net forums have a good garage section with a guide showing step by step how to replace the radiator on your own.  So I will save a little money by doing the replacement myself.  On the way home I have to stop by an auto parts store and pickup some radiator fluid and hoses, but most likely I’ll have it all done tonight or at the latest sometime tomorrow.  I really hope I can get it fixed tonight, because Liz and I are going on a date tomorrow night to celebrate our 9th anniversary.

Sunbelt Software status

I previously mentioned that I’ve been trying to get the new Sunbelt Exchange Archiver installed for an evaluation and I’ve also mentioned the old “IHateSpam” product and the predecessor “Ninja” in previous blog posts.  Here is an update on my status…

Sunbelt Exchange Archiver:

   I am still unable to get the archiver to work, my issues at this point are with the database connection.  No matter what I try, I can’t get the database connection to function.  I finally did get the product to install but now you have to configure everything before it can start the services.  As usual the Sunbelt documentation is sub-par and contradicts what support tells you.  I will probably have to get a support rep on the phone and do a remote install session just to get the product running. 

Sunbelt Ninja:

   I upgraded my Exchange servers in my company to the latest build of Ninja which includes their new “STAR” engine.  This replaces the old Sunbelt heuristic filter with a definition based system like the cloudmark engine.  I was told by Sunbelt that their new engine “does not cause false positives” before I did the upgrade.  Pre-upgrade testing showed no problems with system resources such as CPU utilization and spam catch rates were the same as previous tests on the old version.  The problem comes in when deploying in production.  I found soon after enabling the new engine that we were having problems with lots of false positives and even some internal mail was being filtered and going to user’s quarantine.  I ended up having to disable their new engine and things are working much better now.  I also resolved an issue with the anti-spoofing feature that was marking lots of external mail as spoofed. 

   I think in general Sunbelt Software is on the weak side in the following areas:

1. Documentation, frequently I find their documentation is incomplete, does not answer questions users would have upon installing, and contradicts other documentation related to steps in the process and also their support staff directly. 

2. Internal testing, I know they test their products before releasing to the general public.  However its been my experience that there are always unexpected issues when installing or upgrading any of the three Sunbelt Products I’ve used.  Like with Ninja and their STAR engine causing false positives, and marking internal mail as spam when its not supposed to.  Not to mention the default configuration causes high CPU utilization on the host server.

Unfortunately there are not many other alternatives to do the job that Sunbelt’s software does.  I know there is no perfect software, and with software comes its share of bugs.  One last complaint would be in diagnosing errors.  I know that in Ninja when we would turn logging to high in order to diagnose problems (and you have to turn logging to high as the system logs only useless information in the low setting), the extra disk activity is a huge drain on system performance.  This alone is enough to make users complain.  But in order to get any useful information from the software, you have to perform this step.  Also, the queue folders often start to build as mail backs up into the queue.  Most of the time I am certain this is caused by Ninja or more specifically the SMTP event sink it uses.  Mail backs up into the SMTP queue folder and before you know it, you’ve got hundreds of messages stuck and not being delivered.  Of course you restart the services and try to clear the queue since its obviously a big deal, but then you don’t get any logging as to what caused the problem.  Support has no idea, and tells you to run a snapshot which is useless unless your logging level is set to high. 

Ninja also accounts for a large boost in disk activity, and shows a marked increase in the disk queue when viewed in perfmon.  This causes general GUI slowness and delays when opening MMC consoles. 

I will say that when Ninja works, it works well, but the slightest problem or glitch and your entire mail flow system can be affected.  I suppose this is a risk with any spam filter, but we’ve had a long history with Sunbelt products and it seems that the core issues we had with previous version of their spam filter have carried over into Ninja in one form or another. 

Sunbelt Exchange Archiver

I am working on evaluating trying to evaluate the new Sunbelt Exchange Archiver from Sunbelt Software.  It was just officially released yesterday (11–19–07) and made available for download from their website.  I went ahead and downloaded it yesterday, and spent most of my day today trying to get it installed and working so I can take a look at it first hand.  Right off the bat I had problems getting it installed.  The servers I’m using are test servers on an isolated network, so they are not routinely patched and maybe that is playing a role in my issues.  What I do know is that mcvcr71.dll was not properly registered and caused the installer to fail.  After giving up on fixing that for now, I went to another test server and trie the install.  On the second machine I got past the mcvcr71.dll issue and this time had an error when attempting to create a mailbox for the superuser account. 

I’m waiting for a call back from Sunbelt support to help me get the product installed.  I’m impressed by the software’s functionality and apparent ease of use.  I have a few questions about deploying it in a global diverse network, and need to get more information from them for testing and putting together a deployment plan.  I watched their hour long product walk through via LiveMeeting, and really liked what I saw.  I’ll post more about my experiences with this product as I go along.

Monday night shows

Admittedly Liz and I are hooked on a few shows, specifically Heroes and Journeyman that come on Monday nights.  I also like Chuck, but thats more of a geek/tech show so Liz isn’t as interested in that one.  Heroes last night was awesome, yes slightly predictible but still a great story and an episode that gave more answers to questions raised in previous episodes. 

***SPOILER***  I did know what was going to happen when HRG (Noah) was shot in the eye, and was not surprised at the end to see the blood bring HRG back to life and fix his eye. 

Journeyman was good, the previews for next week look awesome.  The whole interaction with Dan and his brother Jack are very interesting and the characters are really starting to develop well.

Recovery from Identity Theft

My own experience with identity theft is nearly over now, but I’ve learned a few things during this experience.  First, its important to keep a close eye on your bank accounts, watching daily activity and looking for unrecognized charges.  In my case I found that the person using my card had my physical card info including the 3 digit number on the back.  So someone either had physical access to my card, or one of the few only vendors that I deal with that actually asks for the 3 digit code had some kind of security breach that they haven’t alerted me to yet.  So keeping an eye on your accounts is really a key element to protecting yourself and putting a stop to things before it gets out of hand. 

Fortunately we use online banking and have for years now, which is not only convenient but normally allows you to setup e-mail alerts and notifications for various levels of monitoring.  We first found that something was wrong by monitoring our checking account and saw some unrecognized charges.  Someone was buying website memberships and hosting services.  They racked up about $200 worth of charges on my account, but I cought it fast and was able to get all the charges refunded by the charging merchants. 

I was not happy with the way my current bank handled the whole situation.  They made me call the merchants and deal with the process of removing the fradulant charges on my own.  Any other bank when you report fraud they would be all over it, and I probably wouldn’t have had to do a thing.  So we now have a new bank and are in the process of switching everything over. 

I checked my credit report and everything looks fine, so far no one has used my information to get a loan or do anything else bad to my credit. 

Nice fall afternoon

It is a beautiful fall day in Tampa, with temperatures in the upper 70s and a nice breeze blowing gently through the back yard with the sound of neighborhood kids laughing and playing. The kids are playing with fallen leaves and actually getting along very nicely at the moment. The girls got to go to the park today and we plan to spend the remainder of the visible day outside enjoying the beautiful day. We live next a preservation area, so that means its time to get some insect repellant…

Sunbelt Exchange Archiver

I am evaluating Sunbelt’s Exchange Archiver and have to say that I’m initially very impressed.  I just watched a webcast where they did a product walk-through and discussed all the various features of the product.  It appears to be very robust with several useful options many other archiving solutions do not have.  For my company, I think this could be a great addition to our infrastructure to help reduce storage of messages on the Exchange server and help reduce backup times.  It also makes archiving a back-end process eliminating quotas and manual archive methods and taking the responsability off the end user.  I am working on getting a demo of the software to try out in real life and may evaluate it on my own person Exchange system.  According to the website the archiver will be available for download on November 19th.

Microsoft SharedView

I recently stumbled across this awesome free beta of Microsoft Shared View.  This reminds me a lot of the Windows Live Meeting client, it has the same basic look to it, same type of toolbar at the top of the screen, but its a more cut down version that seems easier to use.  It does NOT have as many advanced features, but would be very handy for a variety of uses.  Right now its in a free beta stage, and hopefully it will remain a free service. 

My wife does digitial photograpgy, so this could be extremely useful for her when doing photo demo’s for clients.  With this application she could share a folder of pictures or her graphics programs and let customers see real time what she is doing.  This opens up a whole range of options for her for allowing clients to see what she is working on for them, and to interact more with them in deciding in exactly what they might want without having a need for a physical presence.

Using local GPO templates in Windows Vista

One of the things I found tricky about switching to Windows Vista was setting up local GPO Settings.  I opened gpedit.msc and was intentionally trying to add a .adm file for Office Communicator 2007.  I tried everything I knew how to get the .adm file to show up in gpedit, but I couldn’t figure it out.  I tried copying the communicator.adm file to C:windowsinf and C:WindowsPolicy Files and nothing worked.  I even ran across an article on converting .adm files to .admx format for Windows Vista using the ADMX Migrator.  When I tried to convert the file, I got 126 errors and decided that this may not be the way to go.  Finally I found an article on how to add the legacy file format and get the job done.  Its actually already capable of loading the legacy .adm file locally, and here is how to do it…

1. Open gpedit.msc
2. Expand either computer configuration or user configuration
3. Right-click on the Administrative Templates folder and select “Add/remove templates”.
4. Browse for the .adm file you wish to load and select it for opening.

You now have the .adm file loaded and you can then make changes and configure the policy settings.  Also I’d suggest turning off the User Access control option (under control panel > User Accounts) so that you don’t have 500 prompts from Vista asking if you are sure you want to do stuff.  How annoying!  🙂