Blog Archives

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!  🙂

Microsoft Windows Steady State

Microsoft has recently released Windows Steady State. Its a free application that lets you lock down a windows computer and make it usable in a public environment. It reminds me of my fortress or zenworks days, but its much easier to work with. You can download Steady State from Microsoft and give it a try. This would be great for mall kiosk computers or other types of publically accessible computers. It can even reset all your settings and configuration after a reboot in the event someone does hack the system.

My WordPress wish list

I’ve tried many blog platforms, and am please to say that my favorite by far is WordPress. I really like the WP platform and the abundance of plugins to extend functionality. However there are a few things that can currently only be done with plugins that I would love to see become fully integrated into the core WP platform. Here is my list.

1. Better multimedia support. What if I want to podcast or post streamable mp3 files? Currently I have to use plugins such as this.player or podpress to enable this functionality. I think this should become fully integrated into the core of the WP platform

2. Lightbox – I think WP should integrate lightbox as well. This kinda goes along with the better multimedia support I spoke of above. It would be nice to have better integrated options for posts with images.

3. Gallery integration – I use a plugin for integration with gallery 2, which is great. But it would be awesome if WP could integrate support for various gallery platforms into their code. Having an options page for your gallery integration would be a huge time saver and supporting multiple gallery systems would be ideal.

4. Better uploads management. I think WP could have much better file level security and download tracking built in. It would be great to be able to have a built in downloads tracker, upload management and general file management. Perhaps some security settings, being able to restrict download of some files based on security permissions per user or something.

5. Better customization support. Sometimes its a little hard to place something on my WP site in exactly the spot where I want it. You usually have to have pretty good knowledge of CSS and PHP to be able to get it just right. Its hard for a novice user to make these kinds of changes. It would be great to have enhanced theme management to let you use an editor of some type to place custom content such as images, text, links, etc in exactly the spot you want, not just in the sidebar.

Thats about all I can think of for now, but if you (the reader) have any other ideas, I’d love to see what else people are coming up with in regards to WP suggestions. Feel free to leave your comments.

Fun and fast weekend

We had another fun weekend, but it went really fast!!! On Friday night we had a few couples over to play games and have snacks, etc. We all sat around and snacked for a while and talked. Then we started to play catch phrase, which I’m not good at, but enjoyed watching and participating. We laughed a lot and it was fun. Then we got setup on the wii and I watched them all play boxing and we all got a kick out of watching Liz fight Mike and go nuts trying to knock him out. The night ended a little earlier than we could have handled, but the ladies had an event to go to early the next morning.

Saturday, it was just the kids and me for a while. Liz went to her event in New Tampa and I got the kids up and we started our day. We played the wii for a long time and Sarah was a natural with bowling, we scored me with 126 and her with 122 our first try. On her next try all alone, she got 148! She was also good at golf, baseball and tennis. Later around 1pm or so, Mike came back over with the kids and Sarah and Nathan played against each other for a while, and it was so much fun to watch. They played the practice rounds and tried all the different games, it was lots of fun!

Sunday Liz had Susan over to look at pictures and I worked on our storage situation a little for the computers. I ended up buying a 500GB external drive to keep our pictures and downloads on. This way it only runs when we need it, and we can take it with us. I plan to consolidate our storage onto this external drive, and delete old stuff we don’t need anymore, and maybe burn some stuff to DVD. Once done, I can sell about 3 hard drives that used to either be in a server, my PC or on a shelf. My PC has a 450W power supply which is having problems keeping up with the load. I may need a new power supply at some point as well.

I have Liz ready to buy a wii, we are going to use some money from the sale of computer parts I have and save up a little for it. In a few weeks we should have one.

Details on DST patches, Goodlink issues and resulting patch problems.

This post is going to be very technical in nature and hopefully someone will find it useful. This all started because of the patches for Exchange 2003 due to Daylight Saving time updates. Below you will find detailed information on the DST patches, resulting problems I had with Goodlink, permissions issues I encountered, and resulting side effects of a supported fix from Microsoft. I’ll break it down into sections, relating to each type of issue I encountered.

Daylight Saving Patches

After installing DST patches on Exchange 2003, I found myself unable to mount the stores on all of my Exchange 2003 servers. The information store service would start, but none of the stores would mount from ESM. After some researching I found this article from Microsoft that was supposed to fix the problems I encountered. After the 930241 patch was installed, my stores would mount and everything seemed to be working fine. After applying these updates, Exchange seemed to be working fine at the time, all my message tests were good and I didn’t see any obvious signs of a problem.

Goodlink and the Send-As permission

After applying the DST patches and the update from MS KB 930241, I found that my Goodlink devices were not working. At first it was affecting everyone, no one was sending or receiving goodlink messages from their handhelds. I did some checking and found this article on the good.com website. Now on a previous case with Good support, we went through and modified the correct permissions for the Goodadmin account in advance, so that we wouldn’t have this issue. It turned out that some of our Exchange objects were not inherriting permissions correctly, so when we applied the DST patches along with 930241, our goodlink system lost the send as permission required to operate properly. I got on the phone with Good support and we went through and manually reset the permissions again, ensuring that all Exchange objects were inherriting the proper permissions. I had to restart the Exchange services on all 4 servers to make the changes effective, and once done, Goodlink resumed working normally. This all happened between a Firday night and a Saturday morning. So not only do you need to ensure you grant the send-as right in AD to the GoodAdmin account, but I’d strongly recommend making sure you have all the inheritance setup properly for all Exchange objects as well. I think our permission issues were remnants of our setup of a mixed environment with Exchange 5.5 and 2003.

Read the rest of this entry

Backups backups backups

After about 9 years of being in IT, I’ve learned how important backups are. I’ve experienced data loss due to not having a good backup several times. It really is worth it to have a good backup plan. Whether at work or at home. At home, I’ve got two 2003 servers, two XP desktops and I always make sure I at least make a ghost image of each one, with just the bare OS and again with all the software I need loaded. For example, my home PC, last night I was having troubles due to some beta software I installed (foolishly). I had planned to use my other XP desktop for software testing, but never seem to do that. The junk always goes on my primary PC, after all its faster and resist crashing longer than the slower desktop. So anyway, long story short, I decide to restore a ghost image of my Home PC with all the software loaded on it. Since I have a domain, my user accounts are still OK, I keep all my data on separate drives and network locations, so I won’t loose anything. But there always seems to be something you forget. Items like desktop downloads, favorites, RSS feeds, etc. now I couldn’t get windows explorer to work long enough to copy anything, so I got out my trusty Knoppix 3.9 bootable CD, inserted my thumb drive, and off I went, I was able to use Linux to get my data off my drive, before I reloaded the ghost image. I finally around 11pm, got all the stuff copied over and my ghost image restored. All I had to do was setup our desktop profiles again, like setting up outlook, and redirecting the my documents folder. Then I was done. So I’m all back up and running, thanks to having a good backup strategy. It only took 4 minutes to restore the ghost image, if I had to reinstall windows and all my apps manually, it would have taken hours! I use NTBACKUP to backup my two servers. The other desktop I don’t care about and will likely give away soon anyway.

Once I lost 2 years of data on a Novell Netware server I had at home. I decided I’d break a mirrored volume in Netware, forgetting I had stuff on it. Once it was broken, my data was gone. Boo hoo hoo. I was recently using a Dell PowerVault NAS 705N for my storage needs, but its a little slow, it was RAID5 which was good, but I decided to sell it, so now its listed on eBay. I hope I can sell it and get another 400GB hard drive. I have about 1TB of storage space in my PC right now. I need it too, I’ve got 200GB of normal data, like CD images, software, downloads, documents, etc. Then I have lost of multimedia, like music, movies, home video recordings and such that take up a lot of space. So I need to get one more drive and that should do it for now. My only concern now is that if any one of these drives fail, I loose all my data, and I don’t have a location on my network with storage large enough to store all that data if I were to back it up. I thought about getting a tape drive, but don’t want to spend the money (that I don’t have) on a tape backup solution which would likely not be large enough to hold all my stuff on a single tape anyway.
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