Blog Archives

Quirky thing with my TILT

I noticed recently that if you press the PDA power button on an at&t TILT during a sound event (such as the slider sound or new message sound alert), the sound will immediately stop where it is, but when you press the power button again, the PDA will resume right where it left off, sounds and all.  I have a habbit of sliding my TILT closed quickly and immediately pressing the power button.  When I do this, the PDA powers off mid-sound, and then when I press the button again, it powers on and plays the remaining part of the sound.  This is not a problem by any means, it just interests me and gives me some insight into how this software was designed. 

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My IT Annaversary

I didn’t realize it until recently, but 2008 marks my 10th annaversary being in the IT industry.  It just kind of snuck up on me really, but when someone asked me how long I’ve been doing what I do, I had to count twice to verify it has been 10 years. 

I’m not quite sure yet how I would envision the next 10 years, since technology changes so rapidly.  I will probably slow down a bit one day soon and try to map out some plans for the coming years. 

It was 10 years ago now that I got my first IT job, a lowly rebate programming position using PICK.  From there what I consider to be a real IT position came along where I worked kind of like an apprentice for a local IT services shop.  I learend a lot from the other techs and eventually became the technician of choice for several clients.  I went on to work for state and local government and to obtain my certifications in 2004 after about 6 years in the field. 

My Pick for screen recording

I have tried several software packages to do screen recording, and I must say that my favorite by far is Camtasia studio by TechSmith.  Their software is visually appealing with a modern and intuitive interface.  It also outputs your projects in a variety of configurable formats and makes your work look very professional.  Several neat features I enjoy are smart focus and a neat little mouse trick.  With Smart focus, the video can zoom and pan as you move your mouse around while recording, this way the viewers get a close up view of what you are doing and you are not wasting as much viewing space with unused area on your desktop.  I also like the feature of using the hotkeys to pause recording so you can make changes or do other tasks, and when you un-pause, the mouse is returned exactly to where it was when you paused the recording, eliminating the annoying mouse jumps you get in many other packages. 

Its not free, and in fact is one of the most expensive solutions I looked at.  But the user experience is ver good and the output is the best I’ve seen in screen recording packages.  This is a great tool for many professions and specific tasks, but particularly useful in IT as you can record tutorials or how-to videos with ease, and make them very easily viewable and portable!

Open Source Anti-Spam for Exchange

I have been a long time user of GFI software, relevant to this post is their Mail Essentials for Exchange package.  I find it to be a very powerful and easily setup anti-spam system for Exchange.  I have had very little trouble with it, and it is packed with useful features.  However, recently I had some configuration issues with my spam setup, with rollernet really, not even an issue with Mail Essentials, but it got me thinking about my spam filtration system. 

I am now on a quest to find an open source anti-spam solution for Exchange.  I’m open to Linux based solutions as a gateway of sorts, but would prefer something that resides on the Exchange server running under Windows.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a great respect for SpamAssassin and other gateway type spam fitlers, but it gives the end user a much better experience if the anti-spam software can interact with the user, especially if it integrates with Outlook. 

Surely there must be some kind of solution out there I could try.  At the very least I might install a few different packages under Linux and route incoming mail through them, and from there go to Exchange for evaluation.  I can use server virtualization to allow for an easy evaluation of various types of configurations.  ASSP I hear is very good and there was one other package that I found last night that sounds promising.  I think it could be beneficial to have an additional layer of spam protection at the gateway level before GFI gets the messages and does its thing.  My only concern is false positives.  Lots of services and companies on the internet today do NOT have the proper DNS/MX confiugration and even at a more basic level don’t have their network setup right.  All these network issues can have a major impact on e-mail deliverability.  Its always a risk then when dealing with spam filters that you may block legitimate messages.  I am always watching spam logs to ensure that I keep an eye on how the system is doing.  If web services and companies would do a little work to get their sytems in compliance with RFS’s for SMTP and DNS, and setup the proper network configuration and mail server options, it would be a much better world for mail delivery without false positives. 

My Favorite RSS readers

I actually have two favorite RSS readers.  Both are now free!  Check them out and feel free to leave feedback with your opinion. 

1. NewsDemon – Newsdemon was raved about on “The ScreenSavers” TV show and has many loyal users.  I loved the trial I had a while back of a previous version and quit using it because it wasn’t free.  I didn’t want to pay money for an RSS reader when even at the time there were some decent free readers out there.  Now that NewsDemon has been released for free, I’m definately switching back!

 

2. Attensa – this is also a very nice enterprise grade RSS reader.  I have been using this for over a year and love it.  It has some nice features that NewsDemon does not have and integrates very nicely into Outlook.  Definately check this one out as well and compare the two for yourself. 

 

CTRL+ALT+DEL in remote desktop

I should have known this, but fortunately I’ve never needed to know it.  But recently someone asked me how to do this, and the answer I found is simple.  If you’re using Terminal Services/Remote desktop, the equivalent of CTRL-ALT-DEL for the Microsoft RDP client is CTRL-ALT-END.

Exchange diagnosis

Symptoms

Server: Event ID 9646 (user exceeded maximum of 32 objects of the type session).  Event ID 1021 (unable to connect…error 0x4de)

Client/Outlook: Unable to open your default e-mail folders.  The Microsoft Exchange server computer is not available.  Either there are network problems or the Microsoft Exchange server computer is down for maintenance.  OWA would work ok when logged on as either the user or an Exchange admin account. 

Diagnosis:

   Google searches of the events and error messages yield very little help.  A second round of google searching and pressing further through the search results yielded a page from MS indicating to ensure that the user had “view information store status” rights granted at the server or mailbox store level. This lead me to a diagnosis of permission problems on the mailbox.

   Proceeded with treatment by administering re-application of full mailbox permissions for the user and ensuring “view information store status” was selected in the allow column.  Attempting to open outlook again immediately after still yielded errors as described in the symptoms.  It wasn’t until a few minutes later when about to attempt a different method of treatment that the solution was revealed.  Before trying to create a whole new information store and move the user for testing, I decided to open outlook again.  This time, it opened no problem and did not give any errors or show any signs of a problem.  Apparently the original solution was the correct solution and the treatment was correct, I just didn’t wait long enough for the change to take effect.  Further attempts to work on the problem would have been useless as the issues was already fixed, I just didn’t know it yet. 

Windows Vista Upgrade failed

Last night I was trying to upgrade to Windows Vista on my main XP computer.  I was 3/4 of the way through the installer when the install screen vanished and dropped me back to the XP desktop.  XP still seemed to work, and no matter what I tried, I could not get the installer to resume.  I had no choice but to reboot, but what I didn’t know was that Vista had already copied over its boot files and screwed with the MBR on my hard drive.  So upon reboot, I get a Vista boot loader, which goes to the setup screen, but promptly throws up an error saying (not exactly sure of wording) “Windows could not initialize the installer”.  So XP was dead at this point, sure there are some ways I could have gotten it back, but I really wanted Vista to install. 

I ended up using a Knoppix 4 bootable CD and using the file managers in linux to backup my data on my XP parition to a file share on a server in my network.  After the backup was done, I wiped the partition and loaded the full install of Vista and installed fresh on the clean XP partition.  I am not sure if I am going to go with Vista or not, so I’m installing from the media with no CD key, just to use it in eval mode.  If Liz likes it and can get used to it, we might go ahead and buy the Ultimate edition upgrade.  But for now we’ll give it a try and see how it goes.  So far its running great on my hardware, but I’m a little disappointed with the performance rating of 3.7.  I have a dual core P4 3GHz chip, 2 GB of performance DDR2 RAM, and 256MB ATI X600 PCIe video card running on a nice Abit motherboard.  I was expecting to get a score near or at a 5. 

NoSpamToday – SPAMLOGS missing subject fix

Over the weekend I got an e-mail from Dennis Heidner who wrote SPAMLOGS for NoSpamToday.  In version 3 of NST, the log parser “spamlogs” quit outputting the subject line of messages in the parsed log output.  Dennis has corrected this in an updated version which should be available soon on the byteplant contributions area on their website.  I have tested the new version and found that it fixes the problem.  Dennis has also added some functionality to check for AUTH Attacks.  SPAMLOGS conveniently checks for AUTH attacks and outputs the number of attacks per IP at the end (last column) of the spamlogs csv output. 

SPAMLOGS is a must have for parsing the NST spamassassin log file, it turns the jumbled and confusing log file output from NST/SA into a readable and useful .CSV format.  Combine his software with the automation utility or scheduled task, and it makes managing the mail logs much easier. 

Radiator install complete

On the way home Friday evening, I stopped by the local Advance Auto store and picked up some anti-freeze fluid for my new radiator.  I was also going to get new radiator hoses, but they don’t carry the hoses I would need for my Miata.  So I just got some shop towels and the anti-freeze.  Then I ran to sweetbay and picked up some distilled water to mix with the anti-freeze. 

When I got home, I got started right away on my task of replacing my radiator.  It took me a while to get started, as I was trying to figure out how to get access to everything I needed to get to.  At one point I thought I’d have to take off the cover under the engine compartment to get to the bottom of the radiator, but fortunatly I managed to give up on that and was able to do my job without having to remove the cover.  Getting the old radiator out took me the longest time, as I had some trouble with the lower hose which seemed stuck.  I finally got all the hoses and bolts and connections off the old radiator and pulled it out.  I installed the fans on the new radiator and then dropped it in fairly easily.  Then re-connecting a few hoses and wires and I was off and running.  I ended up doing a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water, but only by accident.  I read online that the miata radiator takes 6.7L of liquid, so I got three gallons of distilled water and a single gallon of anti-freeze.  I got way too much fluid and ended up not even using a whole gallon of each type of liquid. 

I took the car out for a spin and made sure there were no flow problems or overheating issues.  Everything works great and it was a much easier job than I thought it would be.