Category Archives: Computers

The iPhone wars, concluded

This happened not too long after I posted my last iPhone update, but I forgot to blog it until now. I made the decision to get rid of the iPhone. There were a few things I liked about it, but overall, I found the user experience for core behavior and integration was just nowhere near […]

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Let go of Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange 2003

The day has come. s the end of an era, one that many people do not want to let go. I can understand that. I drove my last car, a Ford Focus 2000, until it died in the summer of 2010. I loved that car, and we seriously considered replacing the engine (which would have […]

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The enemy’s gate is down: lessons in #Lync

Sometimes what you need is a change in perspective. I started my IT career as a technician: desktops and peripherals, printers, and the parts of networks not involving the actual building and deployment of servers. I quickly moved into the systems and network administration role. After 9/11 and a 16-month gap in my employment status, […]

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Windows 2012 R2 and #MSExchange: not so fast

In the past couple of months since Windows Server 2012 R2 has dropped, a few of my customers have asked about rolling out new domain controllers on this version – in part because they’re using it for other services and they want to standardize their new build outs as much as they can. My answer […]

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The iPhone Wars, Day 121

120 days later and I figured it was time for an update on the war. First: I still hate this thing. Somewhere along the way with one of the iOS updates, the battery life started going to crap, even when I’m barely using the device. When I use it as a personal hotspot, I can […]

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The iPhone Wars, Day 1

Part of the fun of settling into a new job is the new tools. In this trade, that’s the laptop and the cell phone. Now, I already have a perfectly good laptop and cell phone, so I probably could have just gone on using those, but where so much of what I do is from […]

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A Keenly Stupid Way To Lock Yourself Out of Windows 8

Ready for this amazing, life-changing technique? Lets go! Take a domain-joined Windows 8 computer. Logon as domain user 1. Notice that the computer name is a generic name and decide to rename it. Don’t reboot yet, because you have other tasks you want to do first. Switch users to domain user 2. Perform more tasks. […]

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Defending a Bad Decision

t’s already started. A bit over 12 hours after MSL’s cowardly decision to announce the end of the MCM program (see my previous blog post), we’re already starting to see a reaction from Microsoft on the Labor Day holiday weekend. SQL Server MVP Jen Stirrup created an impassioned “Save MCM” plea on the Microsoft Connect site […]

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Ain’t Nobody [at Microsoft Learning] Got Time For That

If you track other people in the Microsoft Certified Master blogosphere you’ve probably already heard about the shot to the face the MCM/MCSM/MCA/MCSA program (which I will henceforth refer to just as MCM for simplicity) took last night: a late Friday night email announcing the cancellation of these programs. I was helping a friend move at the time, […]

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The Case for TechNet

By now, those of you who are my IT readers almost certainly know about Microsoft’s July 1st decision to retire the TechNet subscription offerings for IT professionals. In turn, Cody Skidmore put together a popular site to petition Microsoft to save TechNet subscriptions. Cody and many others have blogged about their reasons why they think […]

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Finding Differences in Exchange objects (#DoExTip)

Many times, when I’m troubleshooting Exchange issues I need to compare objects (such as user accounts in Active Directory, or mailboxes) to figure out why there is a difference in behavior. Many times, the difference is tiny and hard-to-spot. It may not even be visible through the GUI. To do this, I first dump the […]

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Using Out-GridView (#DoExTip)

My second tip in this series is going to violate the ground rules I laid out for it, because they’re my rules and I want to. This tip isn’t a tool or script. It’s a pointer to an insanely awesome feature of Windows PowerShell that just happens to nicely solve many problems an Exchange administrator […]

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Exchange Environment Report script (#DoExTip)

My inaugural DoExTip is a script I have been rocking out to and enthusiastically recommending to customers for over a year: the fantastic Exchange Environment Report script by UK Exchange MVP Steve Goodman. Apparently Microsoft agrees, because they highlight it in the TechNet Gallery. It’s a simple script: run it and you get a single-page HTML […]

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Introducing DoExTips

At my house, we try to live our life by a well-known saying attributed to French philosopher Voltaire: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” This is a translation from the second line of his French poem La Bégueule, which itself is quoting a more ancient Italian proverb. It’s a common idea that perfection is […]

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#MSExchange 2010 and .NET 4.0

Oh, Microsoft. By now, one might think that you’d learn not to push updates to systems without testing them thoroughly. One would be wrong. At least this one classifies as a minor annoyance and not outright breakage… Windows Update offers up .NET 4.0 to Windows 2008 R2 systems as an Important update (and has been […]

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Attached To You: Exchange 2010 Storage Essays, part 3

[2100 PST 11/5/2012: Edited to fix some typos and missing words/sentences.] So, um…I knew it was going to take me a while to write this third part of the Exchange 2010 storage saga…but over two years? Damn, guys. I don’t even know what to say, other than to get to it. So, we’ve this lovely […]

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Can You Fix This PF Problem?

Today I got to chat with a colleague who was trying to troubleshoot a weird Exchange public folder replication problem. The environment, which is the middle of an Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010 migration, uses public folders heavily – many hundreds of top-level public folders with a lot of sub-folders. Many of these public folders […]

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Forced Obsolescence

ZDNet’s David Meyer noted earlier today that Google is about to shut down support for exporting the legacy Microsoft Office file formats (.doc, .xls, and .ppt) from Google Apps as of October 1, 2012. The Google blog notes that Google Apps users will still be able to import data from those formats. However, if they […]

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And @marypcbuk Nails IT

Amid all the bustle of MEC, I’ve not taken a bunch of time to read my normal email, blogs, etc. However, this article from ZDNet caught my eye: Windows 8: Why IT admins don’t know best by Mary Branscombe The gist of it is that IT departments spend a lot of time and effort trying […]

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TMG? Yeah, you knew me!

Microsoft today officially announced a piece of news that came as very little surprise to anyone who has been paying attention for the last year. On May 25th of 2011, Gartner broke an unsubstantiated claim that they had been told by Microsoft that there would be no future release of Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG). […]

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Duke of URL

Just a quick note to let you know about a change or two I’ve made around the site. Changed the primary URL of the site from www.thecabal.org to www.devinonearth.com. This is actually something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, to reflect the site’s really awesome branding. Devin on Earth has long been […]

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My Five Favorite Features of Exchange Server 2013 Preview

Exchange Server 2013 Preview was released a few weeks ago to give us a first look at what the future holds in store for Exchange. I got a couple of weeks to dig into it in depth and so here’s my quick impression of the five changes I like the most about Exchange 2013. Client […]

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Can’t make a bootable USB stick for Windows 8? Join the club!

I was trying to make a bootable USB stick for Windows 8 this morning, using the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool from Microsoft and the process outlined in this Redmond Pie article (the same basic steps can be found in a number of places). Even though the tool originated for Windows 7 and the steps […]

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Beating Verisign certificate woes in Exchange

I’ve seen this problem in several customers over the last two years, and now I’m seeing signs of it in other places. I want to document what I found so that you can avoid the pain we had to go through. The Problem: Verisign certificates cause Exchange publishing problems So here’s the scenario: you’re deploying […]

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Stop SOPA/PIPA now

If you don’t know what SOPA and PIPA are by now…where have you been? Here…watch this: Now, go do something about it.

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Exchange 2010 virtualization storage gotchas

There’s a lot of momentum for Exchange virtualization. At Trace3, we do a lot of work with VMware, so the majority of the customers I work with already have VMware deployed strategically into their production operation model. As a result, we see a lot of Exchange 2010 under VMware. With Exchange 2010 SP1 and lots […]

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Devin’s Load Balancer for Exchange 2010

Overview One of the biggest differences I’m seeing when deploying Exchange 2010 compared to previous versions is that for just about all of my customers, load balancing is becoming a critical part of the process. In Exchange 2003 FE/BE, load balancing was a luxury unheard of for all but the largest organizations with the deepest […]

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Moving to Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1

Microsoft recently announced that Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Exchange Server 2010 had been released to web, prompting an immediate upgrade rush for all of us Exchange professionals. Most of us maintain at least one home/personal lab environment, the better to pre-break things before setting foot on a customer site. Before you go charging out […]

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Manually creating a DAG FSW for Exchange 2010

I just had a comment from Chris on my Busting the Exchange Trusted Subsystem Myth post that boiled down to asking what you do when you have to create the FSW for an Exchange 2010 DAG manually? In order for this to be true, you have to have the following conditions: You have no other […]

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The Disk’s The Thing! Exchange 2010 Storage Essays, part 2

Greetings, readers! When I first posted From Whence Redundancy? (part 1 of this series of essays on Exchange 2010 storage) I’d intended to follow up with other posts a bit faster than I have been. So much for intentions; let us carry on. In part 1, I began the process of talking about how I […]

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What Exchange 2010 on Windows Datacenter Means

Exchange Server has historically come in two flavors for many versions – Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition. The main difference this license change made for you was the maximum number of supported mailbox databases as shown in Table 1: Version Standard Edition Enterprise Edition Exchange 2003 1 (75GB max) 20 Exchange 2007 5 50 Exchange […]

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Poor Google? Not.

Since yesterday, the Net has been abuzz because of Google’s blog posting about their discovery they were being hacked by China. Almost every response I’ve seen has focused on the attempted hacking of the mailboxes of Chinese human rights activists. That’s exactly where Google wants you to focus. Let’s take a closer look at their […]

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From Whence Redundancy? Exchange 2010 Storage Essays, part 1

Updated 4/13 with improved reseed time data provided by item #4 in the Top 10 Exchange Storage Myths blog post from the Exchange team. Over the next couple of months, I’d like to slowly sketch out some of the thoughts and impressions that I’ve been gathering about Exchange 2010 storage over the last year or […]

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A Virtualization Metaphor

This is a rare kind of blog post for me, because I’m basically copying a discussion that rose from one of my Twitter/Facebook status updates earlier today: I wish I could change the RAM, CPU configuration on running VMs in #VMWare and have the changes apply on next reboot. This prompted one of my nieces, […]

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Busting the Exchange Trusted Subsystem Myth

It’s amazing what kind of disruption leaving your job, looking for a new job, and starting to get settled in to a new job can have on your routines. Like blogging. Who knew? At any rate, I’m back with some cool Exchange blogging. I’ve been getting a chance to dive into a “All-Devin, All-Exchange, All […]

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Windows 7 RC: The Switch

This weekend, I finally finished getting our desktop computers replaced. They’re older system that have been running Windows XP for a long time. I’d gotten newer hardware and had started building new systems, intending to put Vista Ultimate SP1 on them (so we could take advantage of domain memberships and Windows Media Center goodness with […]

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And now, after the long break

Okay, okay…so updating my blog server took longer than I’d anticipated. Getting the old material out of Community Server into BlogML format turned out to be a lot easier than I’d thought and finding the time to get it all imported into WordPress wasn’t much harder. What tripped me up was getting all of the […]

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Wanted: Your broken Mac mini

Life is full of synchronicity; most of the time, this is through the workings of chance, but every now and then we get to help it along. Two ships may pass in the night, but how often does the helmsman take a hand? You’re the owner of a no-longer-working original PowerPC Mac mini. This awesome […]

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The Facebook Experiment

Warning: the following post may not make much sense. If it does, it may sound bitter and arrogant. I apologize in advance; that’s not my goal here. I finally got a critical mass of people dragging me into Facebook, so I’ve ben doing it over the last couple of months. I entered into it with […]

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This is what I do for fun???

For the last three weeks, I’ve been on vacation. Much of that vacation has consisted of quality Xbox 360 time, both by myself (Call of Duty: World at War for Christmas) and with Steph and Chris. (Alaric had a friend over today and we had a nice six-way Halo 3 match; the adults totally dominated […]

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So long, Exchange!

This holiday weekend, I finally accomplished a task I’ve been meaning to do for a while: I got rid of my email. More precisely, I’m no longer hosting my email domains on my own server here in the house like I have been for the past eight years. I’ve finally made the switch to hosted […]

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After slight technical difficulties and a simple but complicated operation, the patient has recovered

I don’t remember which day it was two weeks ago that I discovered that my web server was no longer accepting queries, but I do remember the distinct annoyance I felt when I got home from work, made my way through the back room to the computer rack, logged on to the management console, and […]

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Silly

Steph alerted me to the existence of a very cool product — a dock for Macbook Pro laptops that stands them vertically. This has two advantages: saves desktop space and promotes better cooling. Macbook Pro machines are industrious heat generators and you have to be really careful about what kind of surface you leave them […]

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Am I hot or not?

Stupid website, but it gives me a chance to taunt my co-worker Kevin. This morning I got a puzzled e-mail from him, asking me why this picture of me in Sydney from February (yes, that’s Sydney, Australia; we were there for training for work) was the most-viewed picture in his online galleries (warning, probably not […]

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A few thoughts on email

Email clients need to be more intelligent. For example, I can appreciate the Request Read Receipt feature that Outlook/Exchange and other email systems offer; it makes sense in a corporate environment, or when sending correspondence with business partners. However, all bets are off once you starting emailing the Internet in general. Why, oh why, do […]

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Dear iPod

Dear iPod, Over the years that I’ve had you (as your second owner), we’ve had our rocky times. You’ve worked well with both my Windows and Mac workstations — that’s a plus. Your battery life is damn near useless (and I understand that’s not really your fault), but with the appropriate adapter therapy we’ve been […]

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New books!

WOrking on my latest book, Mastering System Center Data Protection Manager 2007, was a long process. However, Monday I got to experience my favorite part of the writing process — getting the box from the publisher with the author’s copies. There’s just something cool about seeing the final physical product; I don’t think I’ll get […]

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Interesting definitions

The speaker just said, and I quote, “regular expressions, which are fairly straightforward.” That’s, um, well, interesting. And wrong.

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I guess I’m just not a real Mac geek

I’ve been using Mac OS X for a couple of years now and I just today learned about Quicksilver, thanks to an offhand comment in a friend’s blog. Holy crap — Quicksilver is so incredibly scrumptious and I’m not even running it yet! Haven’t even downloaded it — I’ve only got 10.3 on my Mac […]

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Upgrading a hard drive in a Macbook Pro

Okay, I have a question for you Mac users out there.Say you’ve got a Macbook Pro with an 80GB hard drive. Due to the accumulation of data, including a 30GB Boot Camp partition, you’d really like to upgrade the hard drive. Let’s also say you can (or have) acquired a compatible hard drive 160GB or […]

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