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.
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.
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.
I’ve been having a difficult time lately with Verizon and their billing of my FIOS account. Sure my account history is a bit complicated. Let me recount the things that have happened in the brief history of my account…
1. Ordered online with a promotion offer (ordered with a landline phone service and had billing through the phone bill).
2. Got billed wrong amount, turned out they never applied the online promotion to my account.
3. Got an account credit of $60 to cover the promotion discount for 6 months. Also got my Target gift card mysteriously after complaining that I had not yet received it after my 12 weeks or service.
4. Ported my landline phone service to a VOIP provider.
5. Switched my billing method to credit card after phone service was ported away from Verizon.
6. Got a letter from Verizon saying I was in default and my account was terminated and sent to a collection agency.
7. Called CS AGAIN and found that my account is ok afterall, they had some kind of mixup with the other CSR that processed the port. My account is in good standing and no balance is due.
So as you can see, its been fun! I love FIOS internet, its fast, reliable and perfect for my home network, but dealing with a big company like Verizon is such a pain.
When you call in to customer service, you get a rep after going through their aweful phone system, and then they find out I’m in Florida and have to transfer me. I finally get someone in Florida and they tell me they can’t help me because they are normal Verizon and have to send me to a FIOS rep. I finally get a FIOS rep and then they have problems finding my billing history and account information. Its all straightened out now though, so I can take a breath of fresh air and not have to worry about this account any longer… until next month that is when they screw up my bill again.
What a fast weekend! Friday afternoon Liz and I spent most of the time on our computers working on stuff. So we didn’t do much of anything exciting then. One exciting thing that did happen Friday night and Saturday morning is that I sold a bunch of stuff on ebay and got the go ahead from Liz to get a wii. So Saturday afternoon I called around to try to find some store that had any in stock. I called Toys R Us on Fowler, and they said they had one. When I got the store not 15 minutes later, the red shirt told me they were sold out. I am kicking myself now, because I bet if I had asked him to double-check he would have found the one the person on the phone said they had in stock. So of course when I get home and call more places and repeated the process on Sunday, no one I called had any!
I’m not going to get off into a huff about the whole eBay thing with all the wii price gouging going on, but sadly, if I can’t find one at a store by this weekend, I may have to buy one online. I hope it doesn’t come to that, as I really don’t want to support the price gouging, but I’d really like to have ours by next Friday, as we are having guests over and it would be great to have for company.
I don’t think we really did much of anything great on Saturday again, just kind of hung around the house and spent time together. I think Liz and the girls watched a movie.
Sunday, we were supposed to get together with some friends, but one of their kids got sick, so we didn’t get together afterall. I did however, go help build a set for MOPS and spent about 5 or so hours over there doing actual work! 🙂
Monday, we had a last minute get together with some other friends, but I needed to cut the grass. So I ended up cutting the grass in the late morning, while the kids went with Liz to go swimming. I got done cutting the grass and had to get a shower, and get something to eat. Once I got there to meet up with my family, they were all getting out of the pool and about to eat lunch. Then it started to rain. So I took Abby home with me in the Miata. The kids love it when they get to ride in the Miata. And its nice to get that one-on-one time with them. Liz put on more of the movie they watched the previous day and then we got them to bed after dinner.
Liz and I had been trying to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy again, so for the past 2 nights we had watched as much of the movies as we could possibly stay awake to watch. We got half way through the third and final movie last night, so we have to watch another 2 hours or so tonight to finish off the trilogy.
I put together a list of store phone numbers within a mile of my work that I plan to call daily to check wii inventory. If I can find a store nearby that gets a wii, I can hopefully run over there and get one before they sell out so I can pay retial price for it. I plan to call every day around noon or just before to check and see what they have. I only want one, hopefully I will be able to find one around somewhere amidst all this mad rush and inventory shortage.
I walked in the door on Friday evening just an hour or so before we were supposed to have company. I was all set to start working on dinner and get things ready for our company. Not a few minutes after walking through the door, I start heading loud crying from Sarah. She came walking out of the hallway with her hand over her mouth. She removed her hand from her mouth and I was instantly terrified to see her hand covered in blood. I scooped her up and and tried to see what had happened, it took a while to get the whole story out of them. What happened is they were fighting over something, Sarah leaned over Abby’s head (guess Abby was sitting) and Abby made a sudden move upwards with her head and busted Sarah in the chin. She has a lose tooth in the front and I guess it hit just so to damage her gums around that lose tooth and made it bleed. It only bled for a few minutes and then it was over, but wow that was a stressful way to start off our weekend.
This past weekend was really nice. On Friday night, we had a friend over who’s family was out of town. We had a nice dinner and conversation followed by some time trying to figure out what the name of the winner of the TV Show “Who wants to be a superhero” was last season. I finally found the answer online and got in trouble because Liz was trying to remember and wanted to figure it out on her own… 🙂
Then we hooked up the wii and got to play for a good while. I think we started with Bowling and I cleaned up against both opponents ha ha. Then we played tennis and I think Mike cleaned us both up on that one, he is good at the tennis. We finished off with Boxing and I did not have the energy left for that, so Liz got up there and boxed and was beating the tar out of every character they put on for her to fight. She was really going at it and dancing around and having a great time. It was very entertaining to watch her play! Now if only we could get a wii!
We stayed up until about 2am Saturday morning watching clips from HD movies. We had a great time and it was nice to have company and do something out of the ordinary.
For the past few weeks, SPAM rates (patterns or whatever you want to call it) at my company have been lower than previously observed for several months prior. But now it looks as if SPAM is on the rise again. I’ve noticed increase SPAM both at my company system and my home mail system. I guess break time is over. Maybe the spammers finally got their systems patched for daylight saving updates. 🙂
Last Thursday morning, I recieved a call at 5:30am about a server problem at my company. I gave a few suggestions over the phone but around 7:30am they still had a problem. I started taking over remote control at that point and spent from then until 2:30am the next (Friday) morning working on this problem. I ended up working from home due to the severity of the issue and the time at which it was reported. Long story short, I had to restore from the previous nights backup and that fixed the issues. However, I spent all day trying to repair the server because we had received mail on this server for at least 5-7 hours before problems started, and we wanted to recover those messages. There was some type of corruption and the log files were lost during a previous restore attempt. So I was using MS utilities to try to recover the databases. Did I mention this was an Exchange 5.5 server (OUCH)! A fresh restore of both the public and private stores fixed the problem and we only lost messages sent to individual addresses (since we use public folders as archives for our Distribution lists). This was a long day!