Blog Archives

Looking at a Jetta

I spent a lot of my weekend looking at potential cars to repalce my Miata with.  I literally probably looked at hundreds of cars, listings and dealer websites in this area.  I found two Jettas that I really liked which are at a dealer, and several that looked/sounded ok from the ad that were for sale privately.  I am going to look at the better priced Jetta on Monday and see if it is as nice as the pictures and ad say it is.  If it is, I am going to see if they will let me take it home overnight and have it looked at by a local mechanic, since its used.  Hopefully I’ll be taking it home tonight and straight to a shop to be checked out.  If everything is good, I may have found my car!  It is super nice in the ad, the pictures look great, and its the highest end model they made in that year, has all the safety features and leather with tinted windows… I can’t wait to check it out in person.

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FIOS customers – better DNS solution

If you have Verizon FIOS, and haven’t already customized your router to use better DNS Servers, do yourself a favor and do so asap.  By default Verizon uses “DNS assistance” on their *.*.*.12 DNS servers.  Set your router to use custom DNS servers and change the ending .12 to a .14.  Alternatively, using any of the other official Verizon DNS Servers in the range of 4.2.2.1 through 4.2.2.5 is also a good bet. 

If you don’t customize your DNS, the Verizon DNS assistance configuration can potentially cause issues for Tech Savy users who do VPN, host monitoring, etc.  You are also helping Verizon make more money by being served ads on their DNS assistance page. 

I came across this help link on the Verizon website that will guide you through changing your router config to optomize your DNS settings…

Phone number normalization in OCS 2007

I ran into this issue with OCS 2007 and thought it might come in handy for someone in the future.  Lets say you deploy OCS 2007 in your environment, and in AD you use the phone number field for the office ext, and you want to keep that format.  Lets also assume you are noticing that if you use this configuration you end up with warnings in communicator saying it cannot synchronize the addressbook.  When you check the event log on your OCS server you see errors and warnings about the addressbook server.  You won’t find a service for this component (at least I couldn’t find it), it appears to be built-in to the OCS server software.  You also find a list of invalid AD phone numbers in your C:Program FilesMicrosoft Office Communications Server 2007Web ComponentsAddress Book FilesFiles directory. 

So how can you keep your internal extensions in their current format and still communicator without having to see the annoying addressbook warning.  Its not simple, but the fix is not too complex to impliment.  Here is what to do.  This assumes that you use a format such as “x 5555” for your extensions in AD for the users in the phone number field. 

First, in the OCS 2007 console, right click on the forest, and go to properties, then select voice properties.  Next, click the “Add” button to setup a new default location profile.  Give it a name and a description.  Next, under “Normalization Rules” click the “Add” button.  Give this a name also and a description.  Under translation, enter “^(x|X|x |X )“ without the quotes in the “Phone pattern regular expression” box.  In the next box, enter “$`”  Thats a dollar sign, immediately followed by the key to the left of the number one key on the top number row of your keyboard.  To test this, enter an extension in the same format as you use in AD in the “sample dialed number:“ box.  If it works you should see the resulting number in the format you want in the bottom text box. 

Save you changes by clicking “ok” until you are back at the console screen.  Then you just need to issue some commands on the server to update the address list, which are listed below: (NOTE: CD To the directory of your abserver.exe location)

Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click OK. 

Type net start abserver, and then press ENTER.

Type abserver.exe –regenUR, and then press ENTER.

Type abserver.exe –syncNow, and then press ENTER.

Exit and re-start communciator on your PC/laptop and it should now load with no errors or warnings and you will now see your extensions listed.

What no one ever tells you about cluster hardware redundancy

I was recently reminded about this, so I thought I’d post about it and share the knowledge.  I use mostly HP hardware, so in this setup, lets say we have two HP DL585 servers for use in a Windows cluster.  I also have dual fibre channel interfaces in each server.  Externally lets say we have two separate fibre channel switches.  For storage, its an MSA1500 external fibre channel SAN with over 1TB of RAID storage, partitioned for use in a cluster.  The MSA1500 has dual controllers and each controller has its own fibre chennel interface. 

To connect it all together, each server connects one of its two fibre channel interfaces to one physical SAN Switch.  The MSA1500 SAN controllers each get connected to a separate physical SAN switch.  The goal here is to optomize hardware redundancy and make this configuration as fault tolerant as possible.  But here is where the issue comes in. 

No one tells you that you need special software running on each node of the cluster to handle the hardware redundancy.  If you don’t have this software in place, what you will find is that Windows will see two SAN storage arrays.  One of them will be inaccessible since you can only have one physical connection active.  I had to call HP support and go through several explanations of what I was trying to accomplish with all the hardware redundance before I was told about the software I needed.  Its called MultiIO or “Multi Path IO”.  If you do a search on the HP support website, you will find HP MPIO Basic (there are two versions, basic is fine for most people).  Download this software and install on each node and amazingly you will find that things work much better.  From the documentation I saw, there is no indication of needing this software, but in this kind of highly resiliant configuration it is necessary to use MPIO to control the hardware redundancy. 

Pasting links from OWA

I deal with Good support now and then for various technical issues with their mobile e-mail solution (Goodlink).  Today it appears they sent out a survey request to all of their customers, but I had to chuckle a little when I read the message and found they had pasted in the survey link through OWA.  If you read below, you will find the actual URL is missing the first h in the (http), and the actual linked URL is an Exchange OWA redirect link.  This happens when you copy a link from OWA and paste into another message.  By default in OWA, links point to the Exchange redirector and then take you to the link specified at the end of the redirect URL. 

I run into this issue myself from time to time and forget about this until I get a reply back to something I sent out with a complaint that the URL I sent does not work.  To get around I usually paste the link into notepad so I Can get a plain text copy of the link, and then I remove the Exchange redirector part.  I then paste in the plain text link which most e-mail programs and even OWA convert to a hyperlink automatically for you. 

I’m not trying to gripe about this flub, but find it humorous that such a mistake can be made by anyone and its nice to know I’m not the only person out there who forgets about this from time to time and sends out links that don’t work.  Now naturally a technically apt person could easily extract the correct link and get where they need to go, but the average person is going to reply and complain that you sent them a bad link.  Not just that, but now we all have the OWA logon link to their Exchange mailboxes.  (Don’t worry Good (motorola), I’ve hidden the actual OWA Link for your privacy) 🙂  (NOTE: I did receive a correction email from them shortly after receiving the message below).

Dear Valued Motorola Good Technology Group Customer:

Thank you for your recent inquiry into our support team. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you, and help you and your company meet your mobile messaging needs. To gauge the level of support you, and other customers are receiving, and to better understand where our strengths and weakness are, we are asking for your help.

By clicking on the following link and taking a brief six question survey, you will help us gauge the level of support we are providing our customers. This will allow us to know where our strengths are, and where we need improvement:

ttp://www.zoomerang.com/recipient/survey-intro.zgi?p=maskedsurveyidforprivacy <https://nosy.notmotorola.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.zoomerang.com/recipient/survey-intro.zgi?p=maskedsurveyidforprivacy>

Please spend the two minutes it will take to respond to the survey questions so we will know how to better serve you in the future.

Sincerely,

The Good Technology Group Technical Support Team

Getting on the VPS bandwagon

I am now switching all my websites over to a VPS environment.  I just signed up for VPS package with my web hosting provider and will be migrating my accounts over soon.  This should provide better uptime, performance, bandwidth, etc.  I also get more control over the server than I’ve had in the past.  At some point I may go with a dedicated server, but I think VPS will do nicely for now. 

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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. 

RSS feed post limits

This is something that both annoys me and and yet I can understand its reason for existing.  Have you ever subscribed to an RSS feed and its limited to only a few posts/items (lets say 15 is a standard)?  I can certainly understand the need to limit RSS feeds content, there are plenty of reasons why a reasonable number for the history limit is a good idea.  However, 15 is a bit low, especially on sites that offer news or updates.  I recently subscribed to a feed that had posts of a humorous nature, and it limtied me to the last 15 entries.  If I want to see more of the history, I have to go to their website.  15 is also a low number, for a site that may post a few times as week, it won’t take long and I’ll start to miss posts if I don’t frequently check that feed.  On my blog, I allow the last 100 posts to be downloaded, and don’t mis-read me here, that is way too high, especially for a personal blog.  I’d suggest something like 25 or higher for personal feeds, 50 or higher for a site that posts a few times as week in any category, and more if the site posts many times a week, or even per day.

Have fun destroying any website

I came across this link over the weekend, and it lets you have a lot of fun destroying any website you choose.  I like the demonstration and mars attacks.  Give it a try for a quick chuckle.

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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.