Thursday, April 28, 2005

Mr. Windows Hit's Channel 9

So Today, Jim Alchin talks about Longhorn client on Channel9. If you don't know who that is, it's the guy who's responsible for running all of Windows.

You should Check it out!

Oh, and for those of you who are wondering when will SBS make it's appearance ... it's coming, and it will most likely be me. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Windows x64 is here!

I thought I'd take a brief pause from the never ending supply of tips and tricks to tell you of a very important milestone in computing history.

64 bit computing!

Windows XP x64 has released, and should be available on shelves in the next little while.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Forcing the replication of the Offline Address Book

To me, one of the weirdest problems Small Business Server has is waiting for Exchange or the Active Directory to replicate.

"Excuse me?"

Yup, I said Replicate. Exchange and the AD have to replicate to itself before you can see changes on the client.

With this past week's migration, I've been doing some interesting and strange work in the AD and on Exchange. Like creating/removing/renaming contact objects. The problem is, Exchange has to replicate to itself, then the Outlook client has to decide to download the addressbook. So how do you do this instantly for debugging an issue?

Here's how. Make your change to the AD (add a contact, remove a user, whatever it is). Then on the server:

  1. Open Server Management, and expand Advanced Management, First Organization Exchange, Recipients and select Offline Address Book.

  2. On the right hand side you'll see the Default Offline Address List, right-click it and choose Rebuild.

Now the server will take some time to re-build the offline addressbook. I'd say on an average SBS box, give it about 5 minutes.

Next, we need to sort out the client. Outlook by default downloads the Addressbook every 24 hours, that's a long time to wait, Why not force it?:

  1. In Outlook go to Tools, then Send/Receive, then click on Download Addressbook.

  2. Click OK to download changes since last send/receive, it should look like this

Now you're client offline addressbook will be up to date and you can see those changes you made in the GAL almost instantly. It beats waiting a day

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Wanna find Recently published KB Articles via RSS?

I know, I know, I've been slacking. Lucky for me I attended a user group meeting for the Puget Sound UG here in the Seattle area tonight and I didn't take too much slack for not posting for almost 1/2 a month!

I really must appologize. But hey, we're finishing up Windows Small Business Server 2003 Service Pack 1 and well, it's consuming just a little bit of my time.

Remember how we told you not to install the SP1 beta in a production environment? Well, good thing you didn't. We did! :o)

I spent some time this weekend taking our production server (called Catfood for those of you who already know) and doing a server to server migration back to SBS 2003 RTM, and then patching it up to what's available today to mimic all your boxes out there. Then the instant we think we have a final build for the Service Pack(before we send it out to you, the public) we install it on our server.

Hey, that's why it's called dogfood, we eat it before you do. So there you have it, that's what I've been busy with.

Oh yeah, the point of this blog post was not to ramble on and tell you that SP1 is close to being ready, the point was to let you in on a cool RSS feed website.

The RSS Feed Product Index. This handy website points you to all of the RSS feeds (by product) for KB articles being released. Susan probably already has 90% of these in her RSS feeder. Here is the link to SBS 2003 RSS Feed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Extending Group Policy ... Yes, even more control

As a domain administrator, I'm not sure even you realize the full potential you have to administrator your own networks. Have you opened up the Group Policy Management Console (otherwise known as GPMC)? Have you really looked around? Did you check out all the options and fully understand what you can do with all of that? Did you know it's completely extensible?

Whoa, it's completely extensible?


I decided the other day I wanted to control some Office attributes by Group Policy. What did I do? I first did a search on my favourite search engine for "Office Administration Templates Group Policy". Mostly because "I'm Feeling Lucky", I managed to find Office 2003 Policy Template Files and Deployment Planning Tools.

This of course lead me straight to the Office Online Downloads page. If you scroll down the page, you'll see the Office 2003 Policy Template Files and Deployment Planning Tools, which is a nicely zipped up toolset for your own Small Business Server.

Next comes the fun part, which is just a set of instructions taken from the first link.

  • Extract the Office-2003-SP1-ADMs-OPAs-and-Explain-Text.exe to a known location

  • In here, you see a bunch of ADM files. The ADM file is a template file for Group Policy, simply copy the ADM files to %systemdrive%\Windows\INF

  • Next, crack open your Server Management Console, expand Advanced Management, Group Policy Management, Forests: {DomainName}, Domains, {Domainname.local}.

  • Right-Click your {Domain}.local and choose Create and Link GPO here.

  • In the Group Policy Object Editor that opens up, Right-Click Administration Templates and choose Add/Remove Templates...

  • In the window that opens click on the Add... button.

  • Select the office templates you wish to install (ie the ones you put in this directory earlier

Now you're ready to start applying policy. Now each policy you want to create that uses your new found Office templates, you'll have to do the import process.

One key thing to note, is that depending on the administration template you import, you could have imported settings into the Computer Configuration or the User Configuration section. Most of the office templates are User configuration.

Whamo! Lots more policy for you to play with, just don't go hog-wild, remember that the more policies you add to your network, the slower your logons will be to process them.

One last thing, remember when you're troubleshooting that Policy doesn't happen instantly, it can take up to 90 minutes. You can also force a policy refresh using gpupdate /force from the client. You might have to reboot the box for the policy to take place.

Good luck!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Configuring you're 2002 Windows Mobile Device with SBS

Windows Mobile 2002 doesn't exactly work out of the box with SBS 2003 the self-signed certificate CEICW creates.

You have a number of options to get these devices to work with SBS 2003. The best option of course is to get a trusted certificate from an appropriate certificate provider. A quick search on Google for cheap certificates reveals DigiCert, a place to get a $99 certificate.

Of course if that is too much for you, there is always the option of working with the specific device. Microsoft provides some tools to help you get these devices to work with self-signed certificates.

You can add the certificate to a Pocket PC 2002 device with Add Root Certificates

Microsoft provides another tool for Pocket PC 2002, and SmartPhone 2002 to disable the certificate check. This tool disables the validity check on the certificate for ActiveSync only. The certificate check will still be enabled on Pocket IE.

The certificate check includes:

  • A check to ensure the certificate has not expired

  • A check to ensure the certificate name matches the site you are visiting

  • A check to ensure the certificate is trusted with a root cert in the local store

My favourite saying has always been, go mobile, or go home!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Kickin' it ... Old School! (re-mapping the F-Lock Key)

So you just picked up one of the slick new Microsoft Natural Keyboards, and you love it, I love mine. But the new format of the "F" keys doesn't cater to your old school needs. F1 is help, F2 is new, etc.

Well, there is help for your Old School needs!!

Jason Tsang, a Microsoft MVP points out how you can re-map the F-Key on his website.

Pretty handy if you're Old School.

Thanks to my 'l33t' friend Dan for this handy trick!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Need help on Group Policy?

You ever get the feeling, the more you learn, the more you need to learn? I certainly get that feeling. I think I need to learn something, I learn it, and find 8 more things I need to learn. It never stops!

For example, I was introduced to blogging a while back. So I dive right in. I think I have the hang of blogging now. At least my stats page is showing over 1200 hits /month :) . What's the next thing communities focus on. Wiki's!

What the heck is a Wiki?

Well, from what I know today, it's a community forum in which online people participate for the greater good to provide help to each other. At first I didn't believe it would work. My car was broken into a few months ago, how can their be people out there working for the greater good?

Well, from what I understand, it works. A good example of this is the Group Policy Wiki, setup by a few of my friends at work. It seems to be thriving, and provides a ton of useful information.

Channel 9 has a Wiki that also provides links to some other valuable Wiki's. So dive right in, just remember it's for the greater good!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Workarounds and fixes for Windows Server 2003 SP1

You asked for it, so Microsoft produced, and over the weekend too! Recently (< 3 hours ago), an article explaining the top issues and work arounds for those of you who have installed Windows Server 2003 SP1, those of you who are thinking about it, and those of you who are just waiting for the known issues list.

Just follow this link to the Windows Small Business Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 SP1 Known Issues documentation.

Have an enjoyable rest of the weekend.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Searching for Some April Fools Jokes?

I remember back in the day when there were Easter Eggs (hidden fun peices of software) hidden inside Microsoft applications. We still talk about "planning the SBS 4.0 Easter Egg, or how the SBS 4.5 Easter Egg was so much better than the 4.0 Easter Egg.

Today (and for good reason), Easter Eggs are no longer allowed in Microsoft Software, and probably removed from most any major software release from any company.

That doesn't say that us Software Junkie's don't like to have fun, we just have fun in other ways.

For example, check out Google's April Fool's Joke. The new Google Gulp, Quench your thirst for knowledge, now with new Auto-Drink technology.

Or how about MSN's Search Spoof. I have to say that I think Microsoft out-did Google here. You simply put in some information about your "friend", and a fake search comes up with relavent hits. Definately a good one to check out, it even performs well if you define your own query.

Happy April Fool's Day