Title

I had an issue this morning where a user was getting a NETLOGON window appearing everytime they logged onto the domain. Turns out this is caused by having just a space in the logon scripts field in their AD account. Deleting the space stops it appearing.

Title

I realise today that I forgot to update y’all on my Xbox. Turn around was about 3 weeks, which included the Christmas holidays, so not too bad overall. It sat in the UPS depot for about a week before it was delivered to Microsoft, as it arrived in the depot on Christmas Eve. Still I have it back, although there is a little wierd thing going on with Lips (the game that was in the machine when it went tits-up). The other games seem ok though.

Title

So, after only 16 months my Xbox 360 Elite has been hit by the Red Ring Of Death. Nevermind, its been submitted for repair and I’m awaiting the confirmation email from Microsoft…

[Edit] Well, I have the confirmation email from Microsoft (it arrived about a couple of hours after I submitted the request) and the package label from UPS. Now I can take the boxed up 360 to my local UPS office Tuesday…

Title

It has been a while (quite a while!) since I last updated here. I apologise for coming back with something as tedious as backups but unfortunately there isn’t much going on at the moment so I can’t really give you anything interesting to read. Now, I haven’t really been a personal backup type person, I’ve got a RAID 1 NAS unit that I keep important info on, and I’ve got backup software, but I don’t really backup properly. However, I have decided that it is probably a good idea…

I recently screwed up my PC’s internet connection good and proper, which led me to re-image my machine. I use a program called Acronis True Image Home for making a clean install image that I can then restore as and when I like. The problem with this is that over time, you get programs installed and things set up just right and when you put that initial image back onto the machine it all disappears. Bummer.

So, what to do? Well, like I said, I took my “base” image using Acronis True Image Home, so I decided that it would be an idea to have a look and see if I can configure it to do what I needed. Firstly I had to set up a backup location, which I decided would be best if it was the NAS. True Image Home works flawlessly over a network so I have no issues with that and storing the data on the NAS will provide redundancy. The next step was to decide what to back up and how often. I use my email a lot, so I figured it was best to back that up daily. Along with my email, I back up other little personalisations of my profile, like Start menu folders and Quick Launch icons. Small things, but you really notice when they aren’t how you’ve got them set to your liking. Running a couple of test backups shows the daily backup to be around 40MB, depending on the amount of email I have, which completes in just a couple of minutes. This I scheduled as a full backup for early afternoon, at 3.00PM as my machine is frequently on during the day and if not, the backup will run as soon as the machine is turned on.

I then moved onto the machine itself. Obviously, this is going to be a much bigger backup. As I don’t install software too often, or change the configuration too much, I figured a once a month full backup is probably worthwile. This will run in the morning, doing a complete backup of the C: drive and for 20GB of data will take about an hour; using maximum compression gives an image of around 10GB.

Obviously, the strategy I’ve taken here is an attempt to minimise potential system downtime. If I screw my machine up again, I can restore the previous month’s computer image and then restore the last working profile image and any data loss should be minimal. Of course the real test is when something does happen and I have to restore. While it’s always good to test your backups, you won’t ever know until the fan has turned brown if they do what you need. I hope that I don’t have to let you know if it works or not, though I expect to.

Of course there are alternatives to Acronis – the best known is Symantec Ghost, but having used a few different packages, for my needs Acronis is the best.

Title

We’ve been having a few issues at work with external contacts sending large email attachments to internal users. The problem is that any over 10MB seem to be rejected, although the particular users that are having the trouble have had their limits upped to 20. Looking into the problem, there appears to be a bug in Exchange 2000/2003 that means that in the Global settings if you set different Send and Recieve limits, the most restrictive takes precedence. Bit of a bugger that if you ask me.

Anyway, I don’t think this is the problem, as you can also set the limit on the Exchange connector, which is set to 10MB, which I believe would limit any mail that goes through the connector. But I have yet to test it out. Stay tuned!

Title

Last week I bought myself an MSDN subscription. There are some things happening that may require that I need to know Windows 2008 & Exchange 2007 soon, so I thought I had better prepare and actually use the product I might be supporting. Anyway, I’ve now got an MSDN subscription and I can definitely say its well worth the money (for an IT guy like me anyway). I have access to so much software its like being a kid in candy store. Now I don’t have a huge amount of money to throw around, so I have installed VMware on my machine and started to build a virtual domain for me to so some messing around on. You may recall that back in February I had to buy some parts for my computer as I had a little “accident” that meant everything went tits up and I ended up buying in my haste four 1GB sticks of RAM. “Fantastic!” I Hear you cry, however it wasn’t what I was planning to do. I was planning for my next upgrade before the “disaster” to move to 8GB of RAM as motherboards these days can handle it and x64 OS’ can use it. But I didn’t. Anyway, I bought the 4GB and was happy up until I started making a domain…

I had 3 servers (2008) and a desktop (Vista) running on VMWare and my machine was getting slower and slower. Not long after I had powered on the last machine (the Vista desktop) I got a warning about memory… my machine was running low on 4GB!

Being the kind of rational individual I am, I hopped onto ebuyer and grabbed what I should have done in the first place – 2 sets of 4GB dual channel kits. So today I have installed the RAM, and everything is running sweet as a nut. All 5 (additional 2008 server installed today) VM’s are running and I’ve not hit the memory ceiling yet… although I am close at about 6GB.

At least I’m able to sell on the “old” stuff onto one of my colleagues for about 75% of what I paid for it…

Title

It has been a while since I last updated this page (almost a month!) but there really hasn’t been much happening. I got a new job (which has an interesting story associated with it) and went to Paris over the May day bank holiday. Anyway, at this new job (IT support still) I was trying to track some DNS type stuff that was going on. However, DNSStuff.com, which has long been the best place to go for free DNS tools has gone all “pay” use. I’ve got no problem with that per se, its just that as an individual I can’t really afford to pay for a tool I use intermitently at best. However, there is MyDNSTools.info that, whilst not as comprehensive as DNSStuff, is pretty good. Check it out.

Title

As of about 10pm last night, I am now running the 1.03.87 Firmware on my router. So far everything has been stable and there have been no drop offs in the speed. Its not definitive yet, but its looking hopeful. My speed appears to have slightly increased from 1.6MB/s to 1.8MB/s, but I don’t want to count my chickens, so to speak. I will keep you updated.

Title

Related to the issues I and many other people have been having with the Sky/Netgear router having an inconsistent connection to the net, Sky are rolling out a firmware update to address this and other issues. Currently not all exchanges have the update yet; the current firmware is 1.02.28 and the new one is 1.03.87. You can check to see what firmware you have on the main landing page of your own box.

SkyUser.co.uk are going to be getting their hands on the file direct from Sky, hopefully some time this week, so those that haven’t had it roll out automatically yet can update if they want to. As soon as its available I shall upgrade my router and let you know how it goes. The instructions for manually updating are here if you want to give it a go yourself.

Title

When I wrote my last post about Vista and the 4GB error, I forgot all about one of the best programs out there: vLite. This little program can slipstream and configure your Vista installs, so for those of you getting the ol’ 0×0000007E error when installing Vista, use vLite to make a slipstreamed DVD. And now for something completely not quite so different…

I rebooted my computer last night and as it came back up it ran a CheckDisk on my C: drive. I wasn’t too concerned at first as this does sometimes happen, but is nothing to worry about. Imagine my surprise when it started to throw up a shit load of errors relating to corrupt files and indexes. I sat there chewing on my fingers for a good 10 minutes before it finished and rebooted my machine. It has restarted ok and hasn’t done it again since, but it was enough to worry me. I’m pretty sure I can hear the disk starting to struggle and boot seems to be a fair amount slower than it used to be. Also, the drive is at least a couple of years old (bought back when it was £100 for 300GB), so whilst the computer is still working I ordered another hard drive.

The issue I had when ordering a new drive, was space Vs. speed. My current disk is a 300GB Seagate drive (I have a second identical one in the computer for all the junk I download), but I fancied giving the WD Raptor drives a go. The biggest Raptor drive available is 150GB, so exactly 1/2 my current space, and I tend to use a fair proportion of the space with games (I like me driving sims!). Also, the cost of the Raptor is currently about £120, whereas I could get a 1TB drive for £150. In the end I decided to go with the Raptor, just for the giggles of having a 10,000 rpm drive.

Now I have a new drive on the way, I had to upgrade my version of Acronis True Image to the latest version (11). For those that don’t know, Acronis is disk imaging software, in the same vein as Norton Ghost, but a whole deal easier to use and much more robust. I use it in my current workplace for making images of standard builds which I can then sysprep and distribute as needed. Which brings me nicely onto one more thing: the Sysprep tool.

For those people who have never heard of it, Sysprep is a tool included with Windows to make distributing images of disks “real simple like”. What it does is strip the hardware id’s out of the install of Windows you’re running, allowing you to create a hardware neutral image with your 3rd party imaging software. Its a really great and powerful tool, which allows you to build a system once, with all the software you need on it, without having to worry about making a separate image for each hardware variant you might possibly have. For example, here I have a CADS machine build, a Project Management build and then a couple of test builds. There are a few restrictions (at least on the Windows 2000/XP version. I’ve not done my reading on the Vista version yet) which means you have to have the same number of processors in each machine, and the drive interface has to be the same, i.e. IDE or SCSI. Although having said that, I have successfully installed an IDE image on a SATA interface and it seems happy.