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Published: 2008-02-23T16:19:02-05:00


MovableType upgraded.


Well I took the plunge and upgraded the site to MovableType 4 this afternoon. The whole process took about 40 minutes and most of that was trying to unpack the tar.gz file as I was using the AIX commands to extract instead of linux ones! I have a new layout design from my beta tests of MovableType so the design of this website may change drastically over the next couple of days. If you see anything broken then please let me know.

Ok - the problems were with some of the plugins that needed changes made to the template code such as my captcha plugins. As these plugins were not installed in the new installation some of the pages wouldn't work and I was actually unable to publish documents until I stripped out the scode information (which was actually fairly easy due to the comments placed around the required code).

Exchange 2007 Migration is almost done.


The migration from NT4 and Exchange 5.5 to Exchange2007 and Windows 2003 is almost done. This weekend was the installation of Exchange 2007 and the move of mailboxes. Unfortunately it did not go to plan. Upromote worked great on the first server that needed the software and after two or three reboots it was acting as a member server. The second server however did not go well. Instead the server bluescreened in the middle of the process and I was left with a server that was neither in a domain or in a workgroup.  The logon box did not include the domain option but the local SAM was corrupted and wouldn't let me login. As the machine was out of the domain I couldn't connect to it remotely apart from ping activity. After struggling for a long time with a multitude of recovery tools we ended up with a parallel installation of NT4 on the machine so that we could access the data on the drives. This was not without hassles - the RAID controller drivers would not recognise the disk in NT4 - you would have thought that downloading the drivers for the raid controller that appears in the BIOS boot would work but nope - we had to use different drivers!  I tried to access the machine using Microsoft's Dart Tool - the rebranded ERD commander, but this tool doesn't support NT - in the end I had to go back to ERD Commander 2002 to get a version that worked with NT4 (although it didn't actually help). The parallel installation of NT also needed SQL 7 reinstalling but this needed ie4 installed (and where do you get *that* from?)  Fortunately it would also accept IE6 too. Installing the Exchange2007 sp1 was not a fun experience either - the process stopped half way through with an error saying that a file was in use and that I needed to reboot the server to continue. When I did so, the installation would not continue as all of the Exchange services and several other essential windows services had been set to disabled by the previous installation and the upgrade needs the Information Store to be running. As the other services were stopped the machine acted like it was behind a firewall - you were not able to ping out or into it. Setting all the services to automatic and then starting them got through this problem - I had to boot up my Virtual Exchange 2007 server to see which disabled services should normally be running though. I actually had to try the upgrade about 3 times before I got through with no errors but the whole experience made SQL2005 look stable. Now I am having major trouble getting the remote outlook clients to connect through to the exchange 2007 server using RPC over HTTPS - it worked great with the Exchange 2003 server but just will not work with Exchange 2007 - if you have any bright ideas then let me know - tomorrow I'll be logging a call with Microsoft for some assistance. At the end of the weekend I felt like I had installed every piece of Microsoft software just to get Exchange migrated onto new servers. I have got some great ideas for future migrations and I know that I don't want to repeat the process sometime soon! Then to top it all off, the advert shown in this blog post arrived stuck to the front cover of my Technet magazine today - talk about bad timing.  Having said that, I have received the white paper and I don't think we'd use their services as it sounds expensive. The advice was pretty basic but did include the steps of removing old mailboxes and cleaning up the database. One REALLY annoying thing to see when you are moving mailboxes on a weekend without pay is a lot of "moving 1 of 3654 spam messages" and "moving 3 of 12876 deleted items".  I had told the users to delete these items before the upgrade but this hadn't been done.  I think next time I will include a step of telling the users to delete their spam, junk and deleted items BEFORE the upgrade as it will be done as part of the upgrade "automatically" (and if anyone has a tool that will walk through a message store deleting items in the spam, junk and deleted items then let me know)[...]

Valentines day warning.


I sent this around to a couple of my user sites today. I was glad to see that some of the users did actually read the notice as I got several replies back saying it made them laugh.

Please note that there are several hoax valentine day cards going around the internet that links to malicious software. If you received a valentines day ecard please do not open it and tell your loved one not to be a cheapskate and buy a real card.

How to determine if Transition pack is installed on SBS


As part of an assessment recently I needed to know if a client had the Transition Pack installed on their Small Business Server - this allows the client to have more than 75 users/devices connected to the server. They were not aware that they had purchased the transition pack (and as it's expensive I would imagine they would know they have purchased it) yet it looked like they had more than 75 user/devices.
Looking online there didn't seem to be any information on how to tell if the pack had been purchased and as it is not something you can download and try, it wasn't possible to just see what happens if it was installed. I also didn't want to suggest that they purchase the software if they already had and it was already installed.
I put a call into Microsoft to find out how to tell if the Transition Pack is installed and the answer is obvious if you think about it, but it doesn't scream out "Transaction Pack".
It would have been nice if it appeared in the Add/Remove Programs but it doesn't. It can appear as a product id but the absence of the id doesn't always imply that it hasn't been installed.
Instead the way to tell is to go into Add/Remove Programs, Windows Components and then see if it is possible to change Terminal Services to application mode. SBS does not support this mode but Windows 2003 does. Obvious now you know the answer, but not an obvious solution if you didn't know the answer.

Exchange server upgrade - pt 2


This weekend was meant to be the second stage in a NT4 and Exchange 5.5 migration to Windows 2003, Exchange 2007. This process has been a big nightmare so far - this weekend wasn't helped by the cd being unreadable by any of the machines (although you could see *some* files the setup program wouldn't completely launch.)
Trying to think of an alternative solution I wondered if the trial version of Exchange that is downloadable from Microsoft would work. However, although Microsoft say you can actually use a purchased key on the trial version, the only trial version available is 32bit and the only supported version of exchange is 64bit. The other problem is that the 64bit version is a 5.5GB DVD so not something you can easily download on a T1 connection :-)
Eventually we managed to get a copy of the DVD from another branch of the company and I started the install process. Unfortunately it was then that I discovered that you can only install Exchange 2007 into a Native mode AD. Initially I thought it just had to be higher than 2000. Unfortunately as I'm doing an upgrade from Windows NT domain to Active Directory I still had NT4 domain controllers from the original installation and these are not machines that the client is willing to remove. So I'm now stuck with a half finished migration.
Currently my two solutions are to split the nt4 domain controllers into their own separate LAN and then remove the records for the W2k3 servers and delete the NT4 servers from the AD LAn - this should work as the 2 domain controllers are just serving as standalone machines now so don't really need clients to connect to them but their services are needed.
The other solution (which might be more graceful) is to use upromote to demote the nt4 servers to member servers only. At $99 per server this will be more cost efficient and graceful than splitting the network into 2 lans.

I must say that this whole 5.5 to Exchange 2007 is not an easy migration by any stretch of the imagination and I would certainly not recommend that you try and do it over two consecutive windows - especially if your original NT servers provide extra services to your existing network.

Technet offer


If you read this blog then hopefully you are aware of the $100 off a new Technet subscription. I've been toying around the idea with getting one of these - but it would still be $250! However from reading Keith's blog it looks like Microsoft are offering 40% off Technet subscriptions if you attend one of the Windows/Visual Studio 2008 launch events. My nearest one is in Columbus on March 20th so I will probably be taking advantage of this at that point - the price for the Technet Plus direct works out at about $209.
PS if you are a student then you can get Office 2007 Ultimate for $60 which is a bargain!

Flashmob in NYC


Nice to see that flashmobs are still going well Thanks to mydigitallife.

Undersea internet cable cut


You may have heard that an undersea cable was cut affecting various countries internet access. Initially I didn't think this would concern me but apparently some of the companies who have off-shored their tech support to India like Microsoft are affected. This explains why it's been over two days to receive a hotfix from the Microsoft support website. Fortunately I got tired of waiting and called them up for it but I still haven't received my emailed version either.

When things go wrong..........working at the weekend


It's been a very long weekend. I've been trying to do a migration from nt4 and exchange 5.5 up to Windows 2003 64bit, Active Directory and Exchange2007 and although I succeeded there have been several large hiccups along the way. More details in the extended entry as it will get technical!

A whole podcast just for me!


A couple of admins posted for questions for some future interviews that they had in the pipeline so I sent in an email about scripting. I'm currently proficient in batch file scripting but really struggled with Powershell scripting which is unfortunate as it looks like this is where admin scripting is going in 2008 with Windows 2008 and Exchange2007. So Steve kindly produced a 10 minute podcast that answered my questions about getting started in Powershell and that was all that was in it - a whole podcast produced for me (but I don't mind other people listening to it either)- Thanks very much Steve!

Photography workflow.


(image) I think my daily picture taking process should get a bit easier now. Up until now I've been ejecting the compact flash, SD or XD card from the camera and then putting it in the card reader. However tonight I plugged the Canon into the usb cable and saw it come up as a mobile device in Windows Explorer. By right clicking on the device and choosing properties I was then able to select an action on inserting the camera. One of the options is to copy the pictures to a specified directory on the disk AND put them in a subdirectory of todays date, another option is to delete the pictures off the camera afterwards. Seeing as though this is a process I do manually at the moment, this should be really helpful. As the camera has a really good battery life (I've just swapped the batteries over for the first time) I'm not too concerned about draining the battery whilst the data is being copied across. I might use the card reader process on Saturday when I get back from the Columbus Ohio Flickr meet at the Southern Theatre. Seeing as though this trick has saved me some time, I thought it was appropriate that the photo for today was Time.

Blackberry 8703e reboots still continue


Our blackberry reboots continue to happen (although now that I'm on a 8830 my problem has stopped). In the Blackberry forums there was someone else who had the exact same issue that we did - I thought the person was actually someone else in my company! RIM and Sprint are currently looking at the issue as I blog. The funny thing is that two of the devices have actually rebooted whilst we have been on the phone wiith RIM and Sprint.
Update After 45 minutes on hold whilst the Sprint rep spoke to RIM , we find that RIM do know about this problem and are working on a solution but no eta yet. If you would like to be informed of updates to the software by RIM then send an email to, subject line Email Update Request for Reboot Issue and in the body put the fact you have an 8703 with issues rebooting at random and that you want email updates on when the problem will be resolved.

Group Shot expired


I was going to use the Microsoft Group Shot software this evening for some editing on a photo but the software has expired and Microsoft haven't posted a new version online - a real shame as how am I going to do my clone shots now?
Update It turns out that setting your clock back to September 2006 gets this working again -

Taxcut Premium, Federal,State and Efile for $20


Thanks to the Fatwallet forums, you can get Taxcut Premium, Federal and State and EFile for $29.99 with a $10 in store check. You can order this online at OfficeDepot and when you select in-store pickup the price drops to $29.99 - the rebate form is here. Unfortunately our nearest officedepot closed at the new year and the next nearest is 30miles Staples price match so........ not sure if they will honour this one - ymmv -Update Staples wouldn't price match for me in Columbus Ohio as there are no office depot's near by :-(

WSUS unable to delete log file.


One of my WSUS boxes had a log file in the C:\Program Files\Update Services\LogFiles directory that was 60MB big - normally these are deleted by WSUS itself, with a backup copy of the previous log kept as SoftwareDistribution.log.old. However the permissions on the folder were set such that Network Service (which WSUS runs under) did not have permissions to create new files in the directory. As it could not create files, it was unable to move the existing file to .old and create a new logfile to start writing entries in. By granting Network Service change permissions to the C:\Program Files\Update Services\LogFiles directory and then restarting the Update Services directory, the SoftwareDistribution.log file was renamed to .old and a new file created. Inspiration for this was found at EventID