Friday, May 30, 2008

Mr Moves!

Here's one interesting YouTube vid. As much as I hate this form of reality television (well, actually, ALL forms of reality TV), I have to admit this is rather good!


The Outspoken Wookie

Vista - do I need to dig the knife in even more?

If you have a look at The Register, you'll find a publication with some good stories on it, and a publication that makes some harsh calls from time to time. On Wed 28 May, 2008, they posted this article about Vista and Windows 7. It is worth a read.

Both Ballmer and Gates keep trying to claim Vista wasn't a mistake nor a failure and that they are selling millions of copies of it. Well, millions of those millions of copies are being downgraded (sic) to Windows XP Pro because it is, without a doubt, the best Microsoft-released desktop OS to date. Vista has been a complete failure in a number of ways - the community it was aimed at (like a patriot missile) didn't take it up, they didn't even take it up after SP1 was released, and they are going back to the previous OS in droves. This is not a failure nor a mistake according to Microsoft.

It looks like Bill and Steve have had a little too much of their own Kool-Aid. This is a failure in anyone's books. Even General Foods would consider the release of a new Kool-Aid flavor that turned people off in droves a failure!

It is more of a failure to those millions of people who bought it, wasted their time trying to get their apps to run on it, their printers to work on it, and so on. Sure, some of these issues aren't directly Microsoft issues, but due to the slap happy handling of Vista throughout its entire development cycle, many manufacturers had to wait part way through what Microsoft called "Release Candidate" stages (which, in all reality was late alpha stages) until they stopped fiddling with the core parts of the OS and could write drivers. So, although Microsoft aren't directly responsible for some drivers not being available when Vista was released, well, they were the direct cause of the manufacturers taking so long.

Do I need to twist even further? Since both Gates and Ballmer can't see the trees for the forest, and if they think that we want Windows 7 to be built on the fluff and wastage and excesses in Vista, yeah, I think I just may have to! :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Exchange finally has decent competition?

PostPath seems to have released a Linux based messaging and collaboration server that is open and compatible with Exchange Server. Right now, I'm assuming it is compatible with Exchange Server 2003, maybe not 2007, but I'll have to investigate this a little further if I can find the time.

Have a look at this video for an intro to PostPath by their CEO and here for some information on one hospital who have upgraded from Exchange Server 5.5 to PostPath and saved about 50% in Licensing costs. I do have to ask, though, why it took the hospital this long to upgrade from Exchange 5.5 that hasn't been supported for quite some time now.

What looks *really* impressive here is that PostPath is a drop-in replacement for Exchange. This is a hill that Zimbra, another Exchange competitor, cannot claim to have conquered.

Here's another take on PostPath.

Does Microsoft have something to worry about now? I'd think they might - Zimbra isn't going to make massive inroads to Exchange's client base, however PostPath looks like it has the ability to do what no other messaging and collaboration server has been able to do in years - go toe to toe with Exchange Server and not come out looking like "ehlo world" in comparison. :)

On the PostPath website there's a free 12 user evaluation download available as well as a VMWare edition with PostPath preinstalled into a Linux VMWare guest environment. They even have an Archive Edition which - if it works with Exchange Server as well as with their own PostPath Server, then they could have a real winner here, even if only for allowing easy archiving of email in an otherwise Exchange-based environment.

Combine this with the Evolution client running on a Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition (Hardy Heron) computer and you may start to have a good non-Apple replacement for XP Pro, since Microsoft has not yet released one.


The Outspoken Wookie

Brisbane SBSC Roundtable

Robbie and Athena came all the way up to Sunny Queensland to hold the Brisbane SBSC Roundtable yesterday which went quite well. There was a lot of discussion about moving the SBSC program forward from both Microsoft and the SBSCers present (which was good to hear) and there should be some good results coming from these meetings once Robbie and Athena compile their notes from all 3 meetings and present them to Microsoft later in June, 2008.

I'm sure Robbie will post more information as it comes to hand and I don't want to speak out of school here. So here's to hearing what the results of these meetings come to! :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, May 26, 2008

Exchange 2003, Checkpoint Files and SBS 2003

This post is compiled from an email thread on the MSSmallBiz Yahoo! Group from around April, 2008.

The original question was regarding an Exchange Store that wouldn't mount and I brought up the issue that SBS 2003 has with Exchange Checkpoint files. Basically, if you install the Exchange Server component of SBS 2003 to a location other than drive C: and leave the Exchange databases in that same location (or at least that same partition), then you won't have any issues. However if you install the Exchange Server components to the C:\ partition and use a different partition for the databases (ie, closer to the Exchange best practices) then you will have an issue with the Checkpoint files unless you know to move them.

Here's the information I gave on how to ensure this is taken care of:

First, a bit of info on the checkpoint files for Exchange.

Microsoft Exchange uses a checkpoint file per storage group (and as there's only one Storage Group available with SBS, there's only going to be a single checkpoint file, E00.chk, in an SBS environment, unless you've blown it out to Exchange Enterprise for some reason). The checkpoint file keeps information on the last transaction that was committed from the log files into the Exchange store database. As you can imagine, keeping this checkpoint file in synch with the log files is rather important.

Ideally, MS Exchange should be run with the OS and Exchange binaries on a RAID-1 array, the pagefile should be on a separate RAID-1 array, there should be a RAID-1 or RAID-0+1 array for the transaction logs and a separate RAID-1, RAID-0+1 or RAID-5 array for each storage group database. If you really wanted to build for performance, you'd then, in addition to this, split the .edb files andf the .stm files onto separate, optimized arrays. In an SBS environment, you can easily see that this absolutely stands no chance of being deployed, so we need to look at a less-than-optimal Exchange Server installation.

So, in an SBS world, with a single server with as few disks as we can manage to install, we recommend that you use at least 2 RAID arrays, the first (for the OS and applications) being RAID-1 and the second (being for data) being RAID-1, RAID-0+1, RAID-5 or RAID-6 depending on the needs of the client. Remember, however, that in both a RAID-1 and RAID-5 array, the loss of a single drive leaves the array in a non-redundant status, which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. In this case, we recommend that you install SBS + Exchange program files onto the C: drive (RAID-1 array) and the database, log files and checkpoint file onto the second array in a dedicated, aligned partition.

Now, although some Exchange tuning guides recommend storing the databases on the C: drive, that is something that we'd never recommend as we don't feel that the C: partition is the place to store any data. Especially not Exchange databases.

Now, because the log files and the E00.chk file are extremely interdependent, we strongly suggest storing the E##.chk files with their respective transaction logs - if not in the same directory, at least on the same partition.

This all becomes *critical* when image backups instead of file backups are being used. When using file backups, if you take a backup of the Exchange Stores, the transaction logs and the checkpoint files, they can all reside anywhere on the system and they will be backed up together. However there's the *slight* chance that the checkpoint file and transaction logs will be out of sync if the backup takes some time. There's no way to be 100% sure unless Exchange is stopped before backing these all up, which is what we're ultimately trying to avoid.

When using image backups, if the .chk file is left on C:\Program Files\ExchSrvr\MDBDATA as happens with a regular, unHiltonized SBS installation, and the C: partition is imaged at a different time to the E: partition (containing the Exchange databases and log files), then if the C: partition is restored due to a system failure, say 2 weeks later or even one hour later, the E00.chk file will think that one particular transaction has been rolled in, say 12345 and the Exchange transaction logs will be well past this point, say at 13456. This will cause Exchange to crack the sh+s. The checkpoint file and the transaction logs will be out of sync and Exchange will simply run around waving its arms madly in the air.

If you HAVE done this, before you mount the Exchange stores, the best thing to do is to delete the incorrectly versioned E00.chk file and cause Exchange to process every transaction in every log file, on the disk, starting from the oldest, to find the last transaction that was written to the database, and then it will recreate the E00.chk file and continue to roll transaction log entries into the store databases. Not fun, but not a reason to look at hanging yourself from a USB extension cable, either.

So, if you have a Hiltonized SBS install whereby the .chk files are now living peacefully with your transaction logs and the C: partition needs to be restored from an image, you'll have no issues with regards Exchange transaction logs and checkpoint file(s) being out of synch. Of course, if you've added or removed users, then AD and the Exchange Stores will be out of synch, which you'll need to fix, however that's not the point of this thread.

Now, to directly answer your question, if you go to ESM\ [Exchange]\Servers\\First Storage Group\\System path location and change this value, Exchange will magically move the current E00.chk file to the new location and keep running.


The Outspoken Wookie

Happy Snaps from Phoenix

There are a number of still images that have been transmitted already from Phoenix from the surface of Mars. Have a look at to see some of these.

Official NASA info on Phoenix can be seen at and the official blog is at

There are some outstanding images already and we've not yet seen the color piccies come down!


The Outspoken Wookie

Phoenix Landed!

Well, congratulations are in order thus far for NASA, JPL and the University of Arizona for the almost utterly perfect landing of Phoenix on Mars this morning Australian time. The entry, descent and landing was amazing to observe (obviously not video, but reports of the progress) and it appears that Phoenix is a whole 1/4 degree of perfectly horizontal - you couldn't ask for more after a 679 million kilometer journey!

I'm looking forward to the Post-Landing broadcast in just on an hour where we may even have the first images that have been received from the Lander.

Looking good!


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Phoenix Landing on Mars

Tomorrow (Monday) morning Australian time from about 8AM NASA TV will be broadcasting the Phoenix Mars Landing live. To view this, go to, then to Realtime Data then to NASA TV. :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Vodafone VMC Updates

For anyone using Vodafone and VMC, I've just updated some links in my Vodafone Mobile Connect blog entry. The latest software is an update to the version that Vodafone and I spent quite some time working on, trying to iron out a bug that they introduced in their Ver 9.x VMC client that caused DHCP to fail to function on a wired NIC on a Vista machine with VMC installed.

VMC is the version of VMC that addressed this issue, and the latest version, should have this fix in it as well - I'm aboot to reinstall my M200 Tablet PC - both the Windows XP Tablet Edition and the Vista x86 Business Edition installs - to see if I can sort an issue out with the XP install before I head over to the WWPC in Houston in July.

With any luck, both this issue and the VMC breaking DHCP issue is fixed - I'll post an update if I find any issues with this latest version of VMC.


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, May 18, 2008

And Betty when you call me, You can call me PAL

Hi folks,

Just a quick heads-up that we have appointed a new Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL) for Australia. The wider announcement will be made in the upcoming newsletter & blog however given the passionate nature of this forum [the Australian SBSC forum], we wanted to let you know first.

Commencing July 1st & lasting for 12 months, Hilton Travis of Quark IT in Brisbane will follow Dean Calvert’s tenure as our nominated PAL. I’d like to take this time to wholeheartedly thank Dean for his drive & efforts in working on the first instalment of the PAL program & at the same time, welcome Hilton to the role. An active member of the Brisbane SBS Users group & vocal contributor to the global SBS forums, Hilton was selected for his passion, knowledge of Microsoft SMB solutions & blistering honesty when it comes to providing feedback.

I understand that some of you may not have heard of the SBSC PAL program before & so an overview is located here: In summary though, it is:
· A Microsoft Corporate program designed to foster better relationships between SBSCs & the wider Microsoft SMB / Partner teams
· A way for SBSCs to channel feedback through to Microsoft, and for us in turn to hear a rolled-up summary of issues
· A 12 month appointment with the PAL being nominated by Microsoft.

Although Hilton will undoubtedly respond to this post & let you know how to get in contact with him in his own inimitable way, I would expect him to be a rather passionate, vocal representative of the community on all things SBSC – the good, the bad & the ugly. Amongst other things he will be involved in quarterly conference calls, meet the local Microsoft partner executive team & participate in feedback sessions with the MS Corp owners of the SBSC program at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston in July.

As per the recent series of SBSC roundtables & increased focus on activities (such as the “We’ve got a guy” campaign & better newsletter coverage), we’re looking to ramp-up our efforts in this space & the appointment of a new PAL is just one in a long line of shake-ups coming to the Australian version.

A quick background on Hilton in his words is below.

Thanks & please let me know if you have any questions,

Robbie Upcroft Product Manager - SMB Servers Microsoft Australia
T: +61 2 9870 2984 M: +61 419 168 185

Hilton Travis

Quark IT (Quark Group Pty Ltd)

Brisbane, Sunny Queensland

Years in business:

Describe your business in 25 words or less:
Quark IT: Specializing in the SMB market, providing networking and general technology support to allow our clients to better run the business side their business.

Quark Group: Automation, Audio Visual and IT integrator specializing in commercial and high end residential projects helping to integrate technology so it is unobtrusive yet functional.

What are you passionate about in business?:
Being at the leading edge of the current “integration” technology allowing us to be able to make people’s lives easier by the careful selection and implementation of technology in their homes and workplaces. Also, being able to design this so that we can be as environmentally and socially responsible as possible without reducing the functionality and effectiveness of the solutions to our clients’ requirements.

How long have you been in IT?:
26 long years

How long have you been working with Microsoft products?:
Since the days of MS DOS being supplied on 360 KB floppy diskettes. Around 1984, if my failing memory serves me correctly. I do have a copy of Microsoft OS/2 Version 1.21 on 5.25” disks somewhere.

If Microsoft could do one thing to help your business thrive, what would it be?:
Look back at the good old days when they were good at releasing killer desktop OSes and great Office applications – and start running the business once again like that. If Microsoft could focus on its strengths instead of trying to borg the entire IT world, they could once again release great products that would really help our clients run their businesses better.

What’s the best thing about the SBSC program?:
At this point, aahhh, well... Its potential. (See, I *can* be politically correct!)

What’s the worst thing?:
Nobody knows what it is. None of our clients. No-one outside an SBSC. It is the program you have when you don’t have a program! That is, however, starting to change a little and I want to encourage that change.

What are you looking forward to most over the next 12 months as the new Aussie SBSC PAL?:
Firstly, working out what a PAL actually does, and then doing it!

I’m hoping to be able to encourage Microsoft to promote the SBSC program in Australia to the point where it is recognized by people outside the SBSC members. This will involve input not only from Microsoft, but from the SBSCs ourselves. Yet another paper certification is something we don’t need and we definitely shouldn’t want – having this certification actually mean something in the industry and to our clients is what I’d like to see happen by June 2009.
I’d like to be able to let Microsoft know, in my own silky smooth way, what I see wrong with the way they are going in areas that actually matter. I’d really, really like to be able to help sort out their Licensing when it comes to the SMB marketplace and I’d like to try and understand why we’re so poorly treated when it comes to the pricing of Microsoft software and programs in Australia.


The Outspoken Wookie

I Want To Ride My Bicycle

Well, I've been saying it for way too long and now it has finally jumpeut of nowhere and actually happened.

I didn't ride far (7 km) but there was one rather steep hill that I tried climbing (I made about 75% before I gave up) which I really, really shouldn't have done this early in the piece.

I got off, tried to walk up it, succeeded (if you count walking with jelly legs as successful)m sat down for a minute or two, then jumped back on and finished riding home.

I do have to thank (?) Mark Smith of Real Productions for providing the impetus - he rode 13 km to my place, we went on this additional 7 km ride, then he rode home. :)

I'll go for a walk in the morning to rest the "bike legs" muscles but to prove to my legs that they are not getting a complete rest, then I'll jump on again on Tuesday and di a similar ride but without that particular hill (unless I choose to walk up it).

In a week or two, that hill won't be an issue and nor will getting some more serious distance.

Well, that's the plan...


The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, May 16, 2008

I thought we were supposed to be looking out for the environment...

The Australian Federal Government made a major, major blunder with regard to environmental conscious buildings - it has just means tested solar installations. This is THE most stupid thing it could have done. What it *should* have done is to make the rebate available to everyone and made it mandatory to install one on every new house and commercial building, the bigger the building (commercial or residential) the more solar required.


The Outspoken Wookie

The Microsoft Feature Axe will need some serious sharpening soon

Well, they've gone and done it again! WHS - the OS based on the core of SBS 2003 with the special added bonus of corrupting some of the data you save to it - has now had the "backup" feature that's been so sorely missing shelved. That's right, folks - Microsoft has not managed to get this OS to actually be all that useful yet - you can't back it up properly, you can't save data to it properly and it *STILL* doesn't have an x64 client available (as of May 16, 2008 (not 1998, but 2008)).

And with the shelving of the "backup your WHS box" feature, well, they have probably put the last nail in its coffin.

I mean, what is it with Microsoft and their inability recently to employ coders who can reach goals of writing reliable software? I dunno...

I just dunno...


The Outspoken Wookie

Some people are just arseholes

Have a read of this and see if you disagree.


The Outspoken Wookie

Python Revisited

OK. I've rethunk the python situation. I've applied for my Recreational Reptile License from EPA/QPAWS and this should arrive in the next few business days. I've bought myself a small snake hook similar to the one here. I need to buy a bigger one like this as well, but that can wait a little bit.

I've also decided that instead of going out and building vivariums right away, I'd buy a couple of smaller ones off local sellers and use those for now. Much easier to hand over some cash than to have to get all the bits to build one! :)

So, I've spoken to Simon who has decided to offload some of his 25 snakes and get his collection back down to a manageable size of around 10. If you start this as a hobby and then end up with too many, it takes too much time and you lose the enjoyment - like so many things in life.

I'll be buying a pair of apparently unrelated yearling Jungle Pythons (Morelia spilota cheynei) from him, one male and one female (from what we can tell) and a 3 year old male Centralian Python (Morelia bredli). That should easily keep me busy getting used to these guys and also learning what they like and don't like. :)

So, with the new 800 mm wide * 600 mm high (split in 2) * 400 mm deep melamine enclosure, I've decided to take to it with a jigsaw - nothing like taking something brand new and cutting holes in it. :) I'm going to then roof-mount a 25W ceramic heater in an enclosure that I'll likely make from that plastic coated wire mesh you can get at hardware stores, else I'll just buy a commercial one if I can find some well made units.

That will give me a 2 storey vivarium for the 2 * yearling Jungles with one side of the top heated and no heating down the bottom. This should allow for an adequate temperature gradient, with a water bowl and hide on the other side down the bottom and likely also another hide on the other side up the top. This will easily allow these guys another 6-9 months before I need to get a bigger enclosure, maybe even a few months longer.

We're both also looking into the synthetic turf companies for a reasonably priced synthetic turf. It looks like I've found one company that offers this at an acceptable cost/m and I'm getting some samples sent up tonight. Once I know how this pans out, I'll drop their name. :) This is purely aesthetic - the snake won't really care if it has fake grass or not, but it *does* make this vivarium, as it is more a furniture item than if it were stuck in my garage for breeding purposes, look a lot nicer.

I've also ordered some LED ribbon in both blue and red from a LED supplies place. Again, once I know all is good with them, I'll let you know who they are. I've ordered a lot more ribbon length than I think I'll need, but I'll be able to experiment with this in both colors and see how it looks in the vivarium and make sure that it doesn't adversely affect its inhabitants.

The other vivarium is a larger 1250 mm wide * 1050 mm high * 620 mm deep reddish stained pine enclosure. I've not picked this up yet, but the pic seems to show that the staining is quite thorough, ensuring the typical pine issues of released aromatic hydrocarbons shouldn't be an issue. If I'm not 100% certain, then I'll spray a clear lacquer/coating throughout the entire enclosure, as long as that, too, is non-toxic.

The red stain should sit well with the Bredli as it is a reddish python. I'll "grass" the bottom of this vivarium also, and see how the LEDs also go in here. I have another 25W ceramic heater ready to go in this vivarium and think I'll need to make another basking shelf as the single hide box it already has may not be enough for what I want. We'll see.

Later on when I've had time to further consider vivarium designs, I'll make or have made some new ones, probably about 1200 mm * 1200 mm * 600 mm deep overall size with a roughly 150mm false roof to hide the heater and maybe a 100 mm false floor to help with cooling and also storage of equipment. As of now, though, these othe 2 vivariums will easily allow me to have time to think and will achieve the goals of appropriately sized vivariums for the snakes they will house.

Now all I need is my License and to get up to Simon's place and collect my snakes. Then learn how to care for them!


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Don't know why you'd steal one in the first place...

Some people are more stupid than people like to give them credit for. Here's a classic example:

This reminds me of a burglary attempt that was made on a business in Toowoomba once - the thieves tried to break into an automotive engineering company of a colleague of mine. They broke a small window at the back of the building and thought they could fit in, so they threw their bags inside and attempted to climb in. It was a little harder than they planned on and they didn't succeed.

So, the staff arrived in the morning to see a broken window and called the Police. The Police arrived, looked around, had the people open the building and this is when they saw two bags on the floor. The Police opened the bags and pulled out a wallet with a driver's license in it. There was nothing much else in the bags.

Because the driver's licene belonged to a person suspected of some recent break and enters that had been happening, the Police strangely enough didn't need to wonder if the wallet was stolen. They turned up at the house, found stolen goods there from a few thefts and arrested the two guys who were stupid enough to leave their ID at he site of a crime they committed.

Some people really, REALLY do waste good quality, usable oxygen! :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, May 09, 2008

Headlines to die for

You would be hard put finding a better headline than this...


The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, May 02, 2008

Small Business Specialists

At least here in Australia, the Microsoft Small Business Specialist certification program has sofar been another Microsoft White Elephant - they have done nothing with it and not really promoted it to anyone except the SBSCs themselves. I honestly don't know why they start these things and then fail to follow them through.

Anyway, I'm happy to help out where possible - get SBSCs in Australia to be better educated and better able to meet their client's needs especially where WHS, SBS and/or EBS are involved. In doing this, Microsoft needs to be willing to put some effort into the program as well - ensuring that the courses available (especially the required ones) are properly structured and with correct, appropriate information in them. 70-282 left a lot to be desired when I took that exam.

Right now SBSC = AMWA (or Another Microsoft White Elephant - ok, it kinda "sounds" like an "A") and I'm gonna try to make sure there's no final "Y" added to this! :)


The Outspoken Wookie