Roger's Blog | Well, I think it's interesting.

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It’s better than sitting around bitching and moaning about how Microsoft doesn’t listen to the community.

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May/08

27

The Power of Two

As I said in earlier posts concerning SMB Summit the best part of this conferences is connections and friends you make. Two of the best guys I know in this crazy IT business are joining forces to better serve their customers in the Dallas Metroplex area.

Bill Leeman of Leeman Consulting and Kim Triff of Trif Technologies have announced their merger. If you’re in the Dallas area these are the "go-to" guys for IT consulting.

And be sure to visit their new offices at 5757 Alpha Rd, Dallas, TX on June 11th 2008 because they will be hosting the Microsoft Across America truck from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. You can preregister here or just drop in.

Good luck guys!

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I had intended to add a part about Essential Business Server (EBS) but in the interim Susan posted a series of links to documents about EBS on Microsoft’s download site so I’ll just point you to her list of links.

In addition a couple of people pinged me that I missed some of the presenters in my first post so in the interest of completeness…

Also presenting the SBS portion of the conference were Damian Leibaschoff (a Support Escalation Engineer), Ron Martinsen (a Senior Development Lead), Rod White (a Support Engineer) and Chris Almida (a Program Manager.)

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This past weekend I was in Dallas for the 4th SMB Summit. These things are always exhausting but you always come away jazzed about what other partners are doing and how you can apply that to your practice. It’s also a great opportunity to renew old friendships and make new acquaintances. This was the first one I attended.

The main event on Thursday was a presentation of Small Business Server 2008 by Aanal Bhatt and Becky Ochs. Aanal is in Partner Marketing while Becky is a Program Manager on the SBS dev team. There are some very concise summaries of their presentations here and here. Most people were very enthusiastic about the new release but there were a few grumblings here and there about the removal of ISA (now called Forefront Thread Management Gateway) from the SBS Premium SKU (it will still be included/required in the EBS SKU) and the removal of support for tape backup in the box. Only backup to disk is supported by the native backup (NTBACKUP is history). If you want tape you will have to use a third party backup program. I have mixed feelings about this one:

  • Backup to USB hard drive is generally much faster than backup to tape. With remote access to servers and extended hours the window for backup is getting smaller while the quantity of data to backup is getting larger. While VSS makes it possible to do "hot" (or at least "warm") backups I’m sort of "old school" and prefer a nice, quiet server during backup.
  • Backup to USB hard drive is generally less expensive than backup to tape. With the price of hard drives falling it has become very easy to add a lot of storage space for not a lot of money. Unfortunately the cost of tape drives and media that can handle that much storage during our ever-shrinking backup window can sometimes exceed the cost of the server hardware, software, and additional licenses.
  • Tapes are more portable for taking offsite. Hard drives are bulkier, heavier and less tolerant of rough handling than tape cartridges. Like it or not, it many small businesses it is Suzy Secretary that takes the tape home each night. She tosses the tape cartridge in her purse or backpack then tosses that her car. I can envision that hard drive not going offsite because it’s just too heavy to throw in a purse. And I can envision the hard drive being damaged (Murphy says you won’t know until you need it to save your bacon.)

There were some other morsels of info from the first day that I haven’t seen posted elsewhere (Disclaimer: it’s still in beta. Anything and everything is subject to change as Microsoft sees fit.)

  • The premium SKU can run Terminal Services in Application mode on the second server.
  • There are different CAL’s for the Standard SKU and the Premium SKU, you can mix and match them, and they are available in single packs as well as the current 5 and 20 packs. Of course this means there are now even more Microsoft part numbers to deal with: Single CAL Standard FPP, Single CAL Premium FPP, Single CAL Standard OEM, Single CAL Premium OEM, Single CAL Standard OL, Single CAL Premium OL. Now multiply by 5 pack SKU’s; 20 pack SKU’s; 1st year, 2nd year, and 3rd year of multi-year SA agreements, etc. etc. Yeeesh!
  • The new Server Manager is task based (think, Office 2007 "Ribbon.")
  • Installation has the option to use an answer file for unattended installs (this is in addition to the unattended install option we always had for the base OS.)
  • The Security Center can include client PC anti-virus monitoring (I suspect this will require the cooperation of the third-party AV publishers.)
  • There is a new enhanced Remote Web Workplace (with Single Sign On,) a Vista sidebar gadget, and Office Live Integration.
  • Adding servers to the domain use the native tools (no connectcomputer) while the clients require .NET 2.0. There is no automatic profile migration, an "I-Worker" can set themselves up on the network, and users are no longer automatically setup as a local administrator.
  • The CEICW wizard is gone. Making their debut are the:
    • Connect to the Internet Wizard (CTIW)
    • Internet Address Management Wizard (IAMW)
    • Trusted Certificate Installation Wizard (TCIW?)
    • Configure VPN Wizard
    • Configure Internet Mail Wizard
    • Fix My Network Wizard
  • SBS 2008 does not support two NIC’s; only a single NIC with some other firewall device between the network and the Internet. This firewall device could be a hardware device or ISA/FFTMG on a second server.
  • SBS 2008 can manage Internet domains as long as the domain is registered with "supported partners." The two partners Microsoft mentioned are eNom Central and Register.com; presumably more are on the way.
  • SBS 2008 can now handle Dynamic DNS on its own. I think that should still be a function of a hardware firewall although SBS handling it should eliminate the need for software such as the TZO agent.
  • Company Web over RWW now uses a different port: 987.
  • IPV6 is installed  along with IPV4 but you cannot remove IPV4; some things depend on it.
  • Setting up DNS no longer asks for forwarders; it now uses the root hints by default.
  • Users can be assigned to computers in RWW. When a user wants to connect to their computer they are connected directly to a particular client or can choose from a list. This will be useful when all the client computers are named WS1, WS2, etc.
  • Viewing user properties in the server manager no longer just drops you into the Active Directory property pages.
  • EMail can be archived to a SharePoint document library.
  • Wizards can be scripted with XML files. We don’t yet know whether it will be all wizards or just some and what level of scripting is available. My hunch is that PowerShell is going to become important here so if you haven’t spent much time looking at it it would probably be a good idea to start.
  • Users created in native AD tools will not show in the SBS console but there is an way to add them after the fact.

A few notes from the Messaging side of things:

  • Exchange 2007 is completely configured by the SBS wizards.
  • SmartHost will use TLS/SSL if available.
  • Forefront Security for Exchange anti-virus is pre-configured to scan well-known extensions at the transport and store levels. Anti-spam is set to quarantine.
  • The POP3 Connector lives on and has been completely re-written. E-mail is now delivered through SMTP so all spam checks are in place and work (of course, the best choice is still to use SMTP, filter mail through a service, and have SBS set up to only accept incoming mail from the service.) There’s no support for global mailboxes and the minimum check time has been reduced from 15 minutes to 5.

Storage Management is where things get really interesting:

  • NTBACKUP has been replaced with a new Windows Server Backup that was rebuilt from the ground up. The highlights:
    • Simplified management
    • Enhanced performance to allow multiple daily and incremental backups (more restore points.)
    • System Recovery functionality: can perform a bare metal restore to similar or different hardware in approximately 30 minutes.
    • Can recover data from SharePoint, Exchange and SQL (at least that’s how I interpret "Application Data Recovery" from the PowerPoint deck.)
    • System State Backup and Recovery (from the command line.)
    • Supports rotational scheme for backups between muliple disks.
    • Does not support tape.
    • Backs up to external USB or Firewire devices. The slide deck mentions using E-SATA drives but doesn’t say directly whether they are supported or not.) The target drive can only be used for backup and will be automatically formatted on first use and will not have an assigned drive letter.
  • There is a new "Move Data Folders" wizard that replaces these instructions with a wizard (if you are performing a SBS03 to SBS08 migration the recommendation is to move the data folders before migrating the data.) The tasks are transactional so if the transfer fails the data resets to its original configuration.

Next post I’ll talk a little about Essential Business Server for the mid-market.

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Apr/08

14

Infragistics Win Gauge Preset

The bar charts on the front page of the Dashboard just were not cutting it so I installed the latest updates of the Infragistics controls (2008.1) and started playing with the Gauge control. I wanted to come up with a gauge that could show at a glance sales this year, this period, this week versus the same timespan last year. I also wanted something that looked classy.

Did a little rummaging around the Internet and found some nice photos at the Mercedes Benz web site of instrument panels. So I came up with a gauge that mimics the speedometer of an E350. Since I’ve never found much in the way of community sharing on Infragistics presets I decided to make it available to anyone that wanted it. Save this as an XML file.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<!--<PresetInfo PresetName="E350Speedo.xml" PresetDescription="Custom Preset Created 4/14/2008 2:29:39 PM" PresetType="All" />-->
<igGauge:UltraGauge>
<Annotations>
<igGaugeProp:BoxAnnotation CornerExtent="40" Bounds="110, 255, 145, 30" Key="gaugeLegend">
<Label FormatString="gaugeLegend" Font="Arial, 13pt">
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="DarkGray" />
</BrushElements>
</Label>
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="Black" />
</BrushElements>
</igGaugeProp:BoxAnnotation>
<igGaugeProp:BoxAnnotation Bounds="129, 83, 112, 136" Key="gaugeContent">
<Label FormatString="gaugeContent" Font="Arial, 12pt">
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="WhiteSmoke" />
</BrushElements>
</Label>
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="Transparent" />
</BrushElements>
</igGaugeProp:BoxAnnotation>
</Annotations>
<Gauges>
<igGaugeProp:RadialGauge Bounds="0, 0, 100, 100" BoundsMeasure="Percent" Margin="2, 2, 0, 0, Percent">
<Dial Bounds="0, 0, 100, 100" BoundsMeasure="Percent" InnerExtent="0">
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="LightGray" />
</BrushElements>
<StrokeElement Thickness="5">
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="White" />
</BrushElements>
</StrokeElement>
</Dial>
<Scales>
<igGaugeProp:RadialGaugeScale StartAngle="150" EndAngle="390">
<MajorTickmarks StartWidth="2" StartExtent="94">
<StrokeElement Color="Black" />
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="Black" />
</BrushElements>
</MajorTickmarks>
<MinorTickmarks StartWidth="2" Frequency="0.25" StartExtent="96">
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="Black" />
</BrushElements>
</MinorTickmarks>
<Labels Orientation="Horizontal" Extent="82" Font="Arial, 12pt, style=Bold, Italic">
<Shadow Depth="14" Angle="68" />
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="Black" />
</BrushElements>
</Labels>
<Markers>
<igGaugeProp:RadialGaugeNeedle EndExtent="95" Value="20" Precision="0">
<Anchor Radius="65" RadiusMeasure="Percent">
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SimpleGradientBrushElement StartColor="DarkGray" EndColor="Black" />
</BrushElements>
<StrokeElement Thickness="2">
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="Black" />
</BrushElements>
</StrokeElement>
</Anchor>
<Response />
<StrokeElement Thickness="2">
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="Black" />
</BrushElements>
</StrokeElement>
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SolidFillBrushElement Color="Silver" />
</BrushElements>
</igGaugeProp:RadialGaugeNeedle>
</Markers>
<Ranges>
<igGaugeProp:RadialGaugeRange InnerExtentStart="93" InnerExtentEnd="93" StartValue="0" EndValue="160">
<BrushElements>
<igGaugeProp:SimpleGradientBrushElement GradientStyle="BackwardDiagonal" StartColor="SteelBlue" EndColor="Gainsboro" />
</BrushElements>
</igGaugeProp:RadialGaugeRange>
</Ranges>
<Axes>
<igGaugeProp:NumericAxis EndValue="160" TickmarkInterval="20" />
</Axes>
</igGaugeProp:RadialGaugeScale>
</Scales>
</igGaugeProp:RadialGauge>
</Gauges>
</igGauge:UltraGauge>

I added a gradient blue range but you can remove that it you like. Use this code to manipulate the annotation box at the bottom of the gauge (I think it’s either a trip odometer or a gear selector display on the real car) and to manipulate the annotation box at the center of the gauge:


BoxAnnotation ga = theGauge.Annotations.FromKey("gaugeLegend") as BoxAnnotation;
if (ga != null)
ga.Label.FormatString = "Text here";

ga = theGauge.Annotations.FromKey("gaugeContent") as BoxAnnotation;
if (ga != null)
ga.Label.FormatString = String.Format("First Line:\r\n{0}\r\n\r\nSecond Line:\r\n{1}", firstValue, secondValue);

For my use I put ‘YTD Sales’ in the legend and ‘Last Year:\r\n{0:c}\r\n\r\nThis Year:{1:c}’, lastSales, thisSales.

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ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions Videos : The Official Microsoft ASP.NET Site

I really need 26 hour days to keep up with all this stuff. Sleep is soooo overrated!

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Apr/08

1

Disk Space Quota on SBS

I was reviewing the event log of a Small Business Server I monitor and noticed that a user had hit their disk space quota on the C drive. Since users don’t usually have access to the C drive I and the user in question was one of the IUSR_ accounts (that are usually used for IIS anonymous access, among other things) I needed to investigate.

Google found a reference to the “fsutil” utility to list files by owner. The command I used was “fsutil file findbysid IUSR_account c:\” and the files were all in the Trend Micro PCCSRV\Temp folder and the Trend Micro PCCSRV\Virus folder. I could not log into the Trend Micro dashboard (it would immediately return an error message that the session had timed out.) Deleted all the *.TMP files in PCCSRV\Temp and then I could log into the dashboard. Used the dashboard to delete quarantined files and all was good again.

Lessons learned:

1. Small Business Server performance monitor does not report quota alerts.

2. Trend Micro CSMSMB (at least version 3.6) leaves lots of TMP files behind even if you set it to do automatic log maintenance and won’t automatically clean out the quarantine folder (at least I couldn’t find a setting for that.)

3. fsutil to find files by owner. Much better than “dir /q | find”.

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Mar/08

27

First Post Using Live Writer

So I was using something called LIPIDr to do offline blog posting but I really wanted something better. Then my buddy Dan told me about Live Writer (I had heard of it but like a lot of other things I hear about I hadn’t had time to investigate it.)

I see he finally put another post up (a picture of a multimeter.) Not quite sure what the significance is.

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