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26Mar/040

Backing up Exchange 2003 – two passes

A pretty interesting lesson learned from organizations who have implemented Exchange 2003 is the way that Exchange 2003 gets backed up. For organizations that use the built-in Windows Backup utility that comes with Windows 2003 (and is also applicable for many 3rd party tape backup software programs based on similar use of Windows 2003 backup API technologies), the backup process may not be working as expected.


The issue is that if you setup the tape backup software to backup “the entire server” on a single backup process (which is a pretty common thing for people to do). The problem, if you review the Exchange LOG files, is that the log files aren't flushing night after night. There are two Microsoft Technical articles (820272 http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;820272 and 820852 http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;820852) that basically confirmed the problem. Although 820272 says to “either” backup as 2 separate routines, OR to put the EDBs on a separate drive; however you'll find that having the EDBs on separate drives than the system state / programs doesn't solve the problem, so you need to setup two separate routines to make this work (backup routines on an Exchange server: one to backup the C> and System State, and one to backup the Information Store Service)


The “reasoning” for this problem as stated in the Technical Articles is because Exchange 2003 backup uses the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to snapshot the data before it is backed up. With VSS enabled, all backup processes (system state, program volume, and databases) are flagged as “backup in progress” until the backup is complete. While the system successfully backs everything up, the Information Store does not flush the committed logs because the state of the server shows the system failed to backup successfully because of the VSS lock. By splitting the backup process into two processes, the system state / program volume backs up successfully, THEN the information store is backed up separately and completes successfully, thus flushing the logs.


I would call this a “bug” in the way the backup APIs are tracking completed state and would likely be fixed in a future update to Exchange 2003, but for now, at least with the built-in Windows Backup software, you need to kick off 2 separate backup routines.

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26Mar/040

Cool XP Security Command Line Tools

Found this on http://www.informit.com/weblog/index.asp?g=windowsserver

The following are a series of tools for scripting and automating processes on a Windows XP. These command line tools are available to run in batch files or to gather information automatically to be processed by scripts. Microsoft evolves the tools with each operating system, so here is a list of some useful built-in tools to use with XP.


SystemInfo.exe – This utility allows you to determine the computers key configuration settings, such as OS version, registered owner, up time, hotfixes, logon server and more. It uses WMI and dumps the information to screen, so you can capture it if needed. It also allows remote computers to be checked and the output can be formatted in CSV for easy import into a database or Excel sheet. Use “systeminfo /?” for the syntax.


TaskList.exe – This utility will show you all the tasks running on the computer, very similar to Task Manager. The advantage of tasklist is that it dumps the output to screen, so you can capture it. You can format the output for input into your favorite database or spreadsheet. You can also do quite a bit of filtering to find what you need from the command line as well using the /FI switch, such as a particular PID or if the process is running or not. Use the “tasklist /?” for the syntax.


OpenFiles.exe – This utility allows you to list what files are open. You have to turn file monitoring on in the kernel, similar to disk monitoring with the “diskperf -y” command. The command to turn on file monitoring is “openfiles /local on” and requires a reboot. The utility shows you what process has what files open, which can be pretty surprising sometimes.


QWinSta.exe – This utility will show you logged on users and their status, and can be used remotely as well. The information is similar to what you see when you look at terminal services management.


QProcess.exe – This is similar to task list, but shows you the processes for a specific user. It uses the current user by default.


EventTriggers.exe – This command allows you to create a poor mans event log alerting. It will run a command in response to an event, similar to full scale products such as MOM. For example, the command ‘eventtriggers /create /l security /eid 529 /tr “Execute On Failed Login” /tk c:scripthack.cmd /ru:administrator’ will run the command “hack.cmd” whenever a user fails to login. You can look at the existing triggers by running eventtriggers with no parameters, as well as delete or view them with the appropriate switch. See “eventtriggers /?” for help.


Logoff.exe – This tool will allow you to logoff a user remotely, including a console user. Being able to logoff the console user is new to the XP tool.


IP Security Monitor Snap-In – Sometimes, what is missing is more significant that what is there. A command that was in W2K but is not in XP is the IPSecMon command, which allowed you to monitor IPSec security agreements, stats, etc. In XP (and in .Net by the way), it has been replaced with an MMC snap-in called “IP Security Monitor”. Just load MMC and add the snap-in to monitor IPSec.


Thanks go out to Jeff Guillet from Convergent Computing for his help on this!

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26Mar/040

My second USB Keychain Drive

Well yesterday I received my second USB keychain drive. I clarify that it's my second not because the first one broke, but rather, I purchased it WAY to early in the technology curve. I don't regret it, but I have to say things have improved since my first USB keychain hard drive.


My first drive required a special driver, that worked really well on Windows 98/ME, but not so hot on Windows 2000/XP. I'm not even sure it worked on Macintosh or Linux. 🙁


This new one seems to work in everything, and has a whopping 512 MB of storage. Thats almost a CD full storage. And this one is USB 2.0, so its FAST!


I got a Lexar Media JumpDrive 2.0 Pro. You can find links at PC Mall and Amazon.com they are roughly $140-$170. For a small 32MB one I've seen prices as low as $20.00.


San Disk - Has some great deals as well!

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25Mar/040

Diving in San Diego

I'm looking to go diving with Star this winter. Yes.. WINTER. If you are in San Diego, and want to check out diving check out this page. You can schedule a dive date to several locations in San Diego as well as arrange to rent gear for like $30-$50. A 2 tank dive is about $90.00 a person.


www.gottadive.com


For more advanced diving, you can goto http://www.loisann.com/schedule.html


I'm going to rent my suit, hood, bcd, regs, fins from Ocean Enterprises. I have rented from them before, and been very happy.


We will be going out to the Los Coronados Islands:
This remote group of Islands abruptly rise from the ocean floor just 20 miles south of the Mexican Border. These islands are one of our most popular dive locations due to the islands large sea lion and harbor seal colonies. Depths range from 20' to 120' and visibility averages 60' plus.
No hunting or fishing is allowed on trips to the Coronados.

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23Mar/040

Winamp TV

Winamp first made popular MP3's, and then with Shoutcast streaming audio. They now have started their streaming TV protocol. To check it out:


Install Winamp version 2.91

ALT + L to bring up the library

Select "internet TV"

Refresh in the right panel, and browse through the list of TV stations...


The good techno video station is [XRM] TV. XRM

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23Mar/040

Game Rentals just like NetFlix

I know several of my friends need this service, given they play computer game for about a month and then it sits on the shelf. Luckly I play with a group that sticks to a game for oh... 2 years. 😀 But I think this could be an interesting model.


http://www.gamefly.com/

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22Mar/040

Web Browser for the Xbox – LinksBoks

Found and tried out a web browser for the XBOX. It does leave a little to be desired in the input space (difficult to type in www.bluemountain.com) but once you type it in, the pages render nicely.


http://ysbox.online.fr/

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19Mar/040

Exchange Calendaring has a MRU List for meeting location

Did you know there's a "Most recently used" (MRU) list in the Location field of meeting requests?


The last 10 locations you used are stored in a most recently used (MRU) list. To see the list, click the down arrow on the right side of the Location field in the meeting request form, or press the up/down arrows.


Pretty useful when using Outlook to schedule meetings. Since we are looking at different Calendaring systems, this is a useful tidbit.

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18Mar/040

VMWare GSX Server

I have been experimenting with VMWare GSX server. I am planing on hosting it on a Linux box, and running 3 VM's inside it. VM is a Virtual Machine. I am going to be using v2.5.1. There are several helpful links below on installing on Linux, and some video clips on VMWare in general. Be aware that the WebEX software really likes to 'pop-up' windows, so if you have pop-up blockers. Be warned, you might want to turn them off. 🙁


Installing GSX Server on a Linux Host

Before you create a VM on SuSE 8.1


VMWare WebEX Demos


How do you make your SuSE box not start X windows by default.


Yeah, the run level. In /etc/inittab, there's a line that reads something
like:


id:5:initdefault:


Should be towards the top, most likely is currently set to 5, 3 should make it not auto start x. I'm sure SuSE has some mechanism for modifying that without having to edit the file by hand.

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17Mar/040

RSS and BitTorrent

One of the issues of finding legal BitTorrent files is a way of sharing the seed files. Someone has finally brought up the idea, and put it into practice. The idea is have a RSS feed of legal bittorrent feeds (because alot of initial use was for non-legal uses). These articles talk about how musicians would be able to provide links to their music. I also found out a company that I'm doing a beta for is utilizing BitTorrent as a way to agregate the 2.3 Gig filedownload for their product. Interesting technology. But it has some limits... for me its unusable because it so floods my uplink, that i can no longer do anything else with my machine until its done downloading. Not very friendly. But the idea of utilizing RSS to share the seed files is something that is going to continue to evolve.



Slashdot.org - Initial link that led me to all of this.

Wired.com - Using RSS + BitTorrent to get public domain music

OReilly - Their write up on the topic.

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