Blog Archives

So busy!

I am normally pretty busy, but lately its just been crazy!  Between some website development I’m doing in my spare time, my full time job and stuff going on with Liz and the kids; its rather hectic. 

We realized the other day that our washing machine was starting to leak, so we jumped on craigslist and found a nice newer set for a great price and the guy even offered to deliver.  They were dropped off yesterday, so after work I installed both a new washer and dryer and tested them out.  Then it was off to web work land for me, which I got carried away with and was up way too late!  I skipped my normal gym night in hopes of going tonight instead.  I don’t like to mess up my schedule, but this won’t be too bad, since Liz and the kinds will be busy on thursday night, so I can go thursday after work and it won’t be a big deal. 

With the web work I’m doing, I am finding all sorts of neat little tricks with flash and other cool tools.  I think I am going to integrate some flash stuff on my personal sites soon, once if things slow down for me. 

Newsgator makes client products free

I just read this and was really happy becuase I like the newsgator product line and have to say its one of the best top notch RSS readers out there.  I am definately downloading and re-evaluating these apps in their free form.  If you don’t know what RSS is or maybe you do and don’t really like your RSS reader, check out the link about and give NewsDemon a try. 

Took Sarah to my office on Saturday

Due to problems with the Air Conditioning in my office at work, I had to go into the office and reset the A/C. I took Sarah with me on Saturday and showed her my office. We had a nice ride to work with the top down in the Miata, but the sun was really intense and we both had about enough of that by the time we got there. She played with tools while another guy I work with (Jeremy) and I got the A/C working again. When we left, we put the top back up in the Miata and rode home in the air conditioning! I think all of our cooler summer weather is over, and its going to be pretty hot for the next 2 months or so. Fortunately, the super hot stuff only lasts 2-3 months or so, and then it goes back to near perfect most of the time. When we walked in the door at home, Liz asked Sarah if she had a good time with me, and Sarah answered “yeah, but it wasn’t much fun, all I got to do was play with tools”. 🙂

Changes to my blog

Last night I implimented a few changes to my blog. I added several new plugins that will make the site much more functional. Here is a list of the changes:

1. Share This – you will now notice a “share this” link in each post. This will allow you to more easily share any post on my blog with your favorite services, such as technorati, etc. There are many other services listed, and it makes the whole process much easier.

2. Blog Stats – I installed this plugin to get better information on the stats of my blog. I tried Google Analytics, but didn’t like the interface much. So I’m giving this a try to see if I can get better stats. I already have access to several other stat apps since I use cpanel on my hosting server, but I want to get some other information as well.

3. Gallery2 plugin – I added this so I can post about new pictures in my picture gallery on my main website. With this plugin, I can easily browse my albums and simply click an image to easily link to it and post a pic in my blog.

4. Random redirect – I added this just for fun, and made a post about it. Its a link that will take you to a random blog post on my site. Its toally for fun and I probably won’t use it much, but its still pretty cool. Stumbleupon type random post finder.

5. Search Everything – I haven’t enabled this one yet, but when I do, its going to be cool. It will let you search everything on my blog in one simple search box.

6. Twitter tools – I enabled this so that each time I make a blog post, Word Press makes a post to my twitter account. Again, not very useful, but totally for fun.

7. Updated today banner – I haven’t actually gotten this to work yet, but when it does work, its supposed to add a neat little banner to my blog saying its been updated today. I’m still working on this one.

Blogging Tools – BlogDesk

This post is about a product called “BlogDesk”. I am keen on the idea of using a desktop app to easily publish blog entries. I use various means of posting to my blog(s), including sending an e-mail, third party software and direct entry into the web admin section. This post was created in BlogDesk, which is a plain but effective third party app and completey free by the way. It gets the job done and most of the same features of w.blogger. You can find/download BlogDesk on their website.

IE7 and printing e-mails

Now that IE7 is rolled out to over 1 million installations, time for problems!!! My company along with many other companies and end users, are now noticing that since the upgrade to IE7, users have sporadic problems printing e-mails from Outlook. We specifically run Office 2003 and when users print from outlook, sporadically, they will get a printout of the e-mail with the headers missing. We haven’t see any e-mails print with small text or some of the other symptoms that I’ve heard others experience. There are several workarounds and I’ll update this list as I come across more.

1. I f we use Microsoft Word 2003 to edit / compose the email and then print, noheadings are printed. If we uncheck Microsoft Word 2003 as our editor andthen compose the email it will print with headings.

2. Our firm is having a similar problem, and it is related to IE7 and ourthird party spam filter. When a message runs through the spam filterbut is passed due to the sender being on our white list, the messageheader does not print.The way to work around this, if you really need the messsage headerprinted is: forward the email to yourself which then prints perfectlyand adds the missing header back in. I do not know why this works, but it does.

3. Open a HTML formated email, select page setup, choose ‘Memo Style’, settop and bottom margins to zero (you may want to use the values above),click ok – print the emailThis problem is related to Internet Explorer 7 upgrade. Even if youremove IE7 after it has been installed the problem does not go away.

4. I found a solution: click on Format, you’ll see Send Pictures from the Internet is checked. Uncheck this, it should default check to HTML. Thiswill fix the problem. Some setting must have changed. No explanation

5. Another user suggested a less practical approach:He was able to print e-mails fine after doing the following:-Tools, options-In preferences tab, click e-mail options…-Under Message Handling, check “Read all standard mail in plain text”-Restart oulook, and you should be able to print e-mails fine.

6. You can disable font styles: Open Internet Options. On the general tab, click the Accessibility button. Check mark “Ignore font styles specified on webpages”.This will allow you to print headers on HTML emails.

7. If on emails that dont print the headers you first switch to landscape mode, they will print the headers correctly. You need to do it through the Outlook Page Setup function for it to work correctly. To do this:
1. Click on File and choose Page Setup
2. Choose Memo Style
3. Select the radio button for Landscape
4. Click OKThis setting will be for this email only and only until you close it.

The default setting will still be Portrait for other emails. This will at least let you print the missing information on these random emails until Microsoft releases an official fix for it.

8. In Outlook, go to “Tools” => “options”; in the preferences tab, click “email options”.
Under message handling, check the box “Read all standard mail in plain text”
You now need to quit Outlook and start Outlook again, and printing will be fine.

Recent tech delights

1. Server 2003 clustering with Exchange virtual cluster. All on HP equipment, including MSA1500 SAN, redundant fibre channel switches and DL580 servers. Was able to run several tests and everything worked perfectly.

2. Spam filter changes. Currently I'm using an unlimited license of NoSpamToday for servers from Byteplant.com. Their spam filtering product has been great for my company in general, but spamassassin takes a great deal of tweaking and configuration, so I've been digging through perl type code going through and adding my own filters. I recently added a keyword filter which I generated by hand based on reports from NST on mail that made it through. I ran it all weekend and spam rates are down. I can't wait to see the log tomorrow and see what effect it had on spam rates in general on a normal working day.

3. Exchange 2007. I downloaded a VHD of Microsoft Exchange 2007 to play around with. I like the new interface, but its going to take some getting used to, since they moved everything around. There are also some new things I'm going to have to read up on before actually working with it in a live test. Overall I think its good, and can't wait to test it more.

4. Server 2003 R2. I've been able to setup R2 for Server 2003 and use some of the new file server tools. I love the new reporting, and file server management tools that are now available.

5. This isn't a new thing, but I am really enjoying ActiveSync and DirectPush on my Cingular 8125. Its awesome to have full connectivity to both my company e-mail system through Goodlink and my personal e-mail system at home. I've only had small setup issues in the beginngin with this, but its been working great for me for a few months now. If I ever lose this ability, I'm going to feel like I'm missing my right arm or somethign…

Thats it for now.]]>

Company Migration Project

1. Little to no end user interruption
2. No loss of email connectivity
3. All work must be done by internal IT staff
4. No third party tools can be used

Existing Network:

1 NT4 PDC in NYK and 1 NT4 BDC in Switzerland. Two Exchange 5.5 servers in NYK, one in Switzerland and one in Hong Kong. There are also various software packages that sit on top of the Exchange infrastructure that must remain intact, such as RightFax (email faxing), Goodlink (mobile email) etc. Exchange is installed on member servers, none of the Exchange servers are installed on a PDC/BDC.

Desired result:

2003 Active Directory Domain with Exchange 2003 Enterprise Edition. Exchange servers will be in two-server clusters. 4 hub offices will house the Exchange clusters.

Migration Path:

In order to accomplish the above design goals and satisfy all the requirements, taking into account the existing network infrastructure, the following design should prove to be successful.

First, we will install a new server into our existing NT4 domain and make it a BDC for the domain. We will then, promote the new BDC to a PDC and allow time for replication. Once replication is complete, we will take the old PDC offline (by unplugging network connection or shutting down). We will then upgrade the new NT4 PDC to Server 2003 and run DCPROMO to install Active Directory. This process should preserve all existing user accounts, machine accounts, groups, permissions, etc. So far we satisfy all requirements.

Next, we upgrade or replace all existing NT4 BDCs. Once all NT4 servers are removed, we can then upgrade our new Active directory domain to Server 2003 Native Mode. As no more NT4 servers will be participating as domain controllers.

NOTE: During this time, all existing Exchange 5.5 servers will be maintained as NT4 member servers of the 2003 domain. Exchange 5.5 will continue to handle mail for us until the upgrade to Exchange 2003.

Exchange 2003 Migration:

For this part, we will install our first Exchange 2003 server (on a 2003 Enterprise Edition server installed as a member server) into our existing Exchange 5.5 site. To the exchange site, we are just adding a new server. The Exchange deployment tools will walk us through installing the Active Directory Connector and all necessary connection agreements. The SRS will also be installed. One Exchange 2003 server per hub office will be installed initially. Once we verify that the ADC is working properly and the “Move mailbox” wizard is available, all Exchange 5.5 user mailboxes will be moved to an Exchange 2003 server. Once all Exchange 5.5 mailboxes, public folders, distribution lists, custom forms, etc, are replicated over to the new Exchange 2003 servers, the existing Exchange 5.5 servers will be shut down to verify connectivity and that no “behind the scenes” issues exist. Once our Exchange organization has been verified to be functioning correctly with no further references to the Exchange 5.5 servers, we can then begin to de-commission them. This will be done by removing all references to Exchange 5.5 as replication partners on all public folders, and other exchange resources. Then the servers can be deleted from the Exchange 5.5 server administrator.

During this migration process, the only end user interruption noticed will be during the move mailbox process, as users will be logged out of their exchange mailboxes during a mailbox move. Mail flow is not affected since we installed Exchange 2003 into our existing Exchange 5.5 site, so the routing group is the same. The only remaining task to complete is something I left out above. Before Exchange 5.5 can be shut down or de-commissioned, the SMTP connector will need to be moved from one of the Exchange 5.5 servers to one of the Exchange 2003 servers. Once this is complete, and mail flow has been verified, then the Exchange 5.5 servers can be removed.

The end result is a quick, efficient migration/upgrade to Server 2003 and Exchange 2003. A final note here is on Clustering. The reason we did not use our clusters to install the first Exchange 2003 server is that there are certain components of Exchange that will not function on a cluster. Such as the SRS and ADC. This is why we will be using a standalone server in all hub offices for the initial move to Exchange 2003. Once we have Exchange 2003 up and running globally, we can then introduce our Exchange 2003 Clusters and then move mailboxes once more to the clusters. Once finished, the SMTP (bridgehead) can be moved to the appropriate cluster and the initial Exchange 2003 standalone servers can be removed.

The initial plan was to do a parallel migration, basically creating a whole new system in parallel to our existing system. This plan has many problems and would not have worked for us. End users would have received all new machine profiles, outlook profiles would have been lost, etc. This would have created too much work for our internal IT staff and caused too much interruption to end user connectivity. Not to mention mail flow and interoperability with Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2003 is much more complicated when installed in separate Exchange Organizations. Third party tools would almost certainly be needed to maintain the level of co-existence we would have needed.
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