Professional Geek
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  • SBS burned into the brain

    Nice post over on coding horror about how baby ducks become instantly attached to the first thing they see and how we do similar things with software

    “Baby Duck Syndrome is the tendency for computer users to “imprint” on the first system they learn, then judge other systems by their similarity to that first system. The result is that users generally prefer systems similar to those they learned on and dislike unfamiliar systems. “

    It’s a fair point. Just look at the whole Windows vs Mac vs Linux thing!

    Most people (not everyone) who insist that one operating system is better generally haven’t even given the alternatives a fair go. It’s the same with tons of different things

    • Visual Basic vs Whatever!
    • MS SQL vs MySql
    • ASP vs PHP
    • Firefox vs IE
    • Blackberry vs Windows Mobile
    • You get the idea….

    Are we the same with SBS?

    Vijay posted recently about IBM’s latest strategy to move into the SMB market, and how we all scoffed ūüôā

    But what if IBM managed to put together a system that contained all the components of SBS and some extra killer apps and sold it for half the price?

    Obviously as we’re all smart business people it’s part of our jobs to ensure we’re working with the best solutions :-p

    ¬†Now if you’ll excuse me i’m off to go hug my R2 media pack

  • Why bother with support…do it yourself!

    Maybe the title is a bit harsh…but that’s pretty much how it happened!

    *Note* So you don’t have to read all of this if your a Virgin Media Customer using Windows Vista¬†and can’t download music from the SonicSelect (OD2Music) server add the following to “trusted sites”. If your interesting in why then please read on ūüôā
    ****** http://*  and  http://* ********

    As part of my new shiny broadband package i get three free music downloads a month (£2.55 value!) from SonicSelect (OD2Music)

    Know if you have read my blog for any length of time you’ll know¬†i’m not a great fan of “DRM’d” music¬†

    But i do love a bargain and it’s free music so thought i’d give it a go. So followed the instructions for signing up and installed their software and found a couple of tracks i was interested in. Click the download button, it got to about 60% and boom…

    “Error 3(4)”

    not very helpful! So tried a couple of other tracks and exactly the same. Gets to about 60% and just dies. So i tried the support section of the site and then promptly wished i hadn’t as it was a waste of time
    If i had been paying for these tracks that would been it, custom going elsewhere, but since its free and i get it every month i sent them an email with as much info as i could (OS, browser, AV, firewall, etc)

    The first response i got back was this

    This error suggests a problem with the track save location specified in Windows Media Player.Please try the following:
    1. Create a new folder on your PC in the root of your C:\ drive called “My Music”
    2. Open Windows Media Player
    3. Select “Tools”
    4. Select “Options”
    5. Select “Rip Music” (or “Copy Music” if you have an earlier version of Windows Media Player)
    6. Click “Change..” and navigate to the newly created folder C:\My Music
    7. Click “OK”.

    I was a little dubious but tried it anyway with no luck. After that the replies i got were along the lines of “have you uninstalled and reinstalled”, “have you checked your firewall settings”, “have you checked your anti-virus”

    Anyway, the first email got me thinking. He mentioned that the error message relates to a problem with the save location so decided to follow that avenue and that was when it hit me

    I’m using Internet Explorer 7 on Windows Vista…….


    When using protected mode the website you visit is essentially in a “sandbox” and has very limited access to the system, including my Music folder!

    I added the site to my “trusted sites” page. It still didn’t work but something was different. Every time i visited the page i insisted i wasn’t logged in

    To access the site you have to login via the Virgin Media Member Center. I figured they must share a cookie or something so added that trusted sites and it all started working!

    I emailed support back with the information but i’m yet to hear anything back

  • Domain Profile Migration Fun!

    One thing i love about doing SBS installs is that unless its a 100% new network (new PCs, printers, the lot!) i that always learn something

    The install i’ve been doing this week i originally planned to swing migrate, but after further investigation (like a really poorly named domain name for starters!) i decided a fresh install was the best bet

    This meant¬†that i’d have to migrate¬†the domain profiles from the old domain to the new one

    So the method i followed was

    Create a new local user (e.g UserMigrate)

    Login and logout as UserMigrate to create a “blank” profile

    Login as a user that has local administrator rights (and is not the user you want to migrate!)

    Using the User Profile dialog on the System settings in control panel copy the old profile to the UserMigrate profile. You can also do this by hand via the “Documents and Settings” folder

    Remove the computer from the domain into a workgroup

    Use the SBS ConnectComputer wizard to join the domain and select the UserMigrate user when asked which profile settings to migrate

    This worked pretty well on the whole until i hit one PC where it just wouldn’t happen. It refused to overwrite the NTUSER files in the profile as it was “in use”. This puzzled me as i definately wasn’t logged in as that user!

    So i fired up Process Explorer and it revealed that NETLOGON.EXE had a file handle on NTUSER.DAT

    I had a quick look around the user settings and i discovered that this particular user was a local administrator. I’d been assured no-one was. I didn’t check as the SBS ConnectComputer wizard would have made them local admin which i would have changed afterwards

    So i removed the user from the local admin group and rebooted the machine. I tried just logging off but it was having none of it!

    I know Craig’s Profile Tool¬†could possibly have done some of the heavy lifting here but i haven’t played with it enough and i make a point of not trying not new things on client’s networks where possible though it was useful at retreiving details from another PC that had 25 “account unknown” profiles

  • Norton Anti-Virus Uninstall Password

    Just in case you arrive at a PC you have never seen before, try to uninstall the existing Norton Anti-virus and get prompted for an “uninstall password”

    just type “symantec” (withouth the quotes obviously!) and your done

  • Nothing is ever easy!

    So i posted a couple of weeks ago about my impending cable installation

    The day of the installation arrived and i had been told the engineers would arrive between 8:00 and 13:00

    My wife (bryony) waited in for them and by 12:30 she was still waiting

    I made a quick call and somehow they had “lost my job”

    He then went on to tell me about how they were having problems getting staff in that area (blah blah) which basically led up to him telling me it would be another two weeks!

    I couldn’t really do much about it agreed to two weeks on the monday. He called back half an hour later to ask if they could move it to the tuesday…..

    Anyway Tuesday was yesterday and they were at my front door at 8:15

    Since i was at footy yesterday i didn’t get much of chance to play with it. After some funnky setup (i’m using some old old hardware at the moment!) I’ve got my PC connected via wireless, the xbox is wired and the laptop have the option of both and 20Mb to play with (come on i’ve been stuck on 1Mb at home for so long!)

    Bryony noticed a little bit of a difference whereas i noticed a really big difference but i’m guessing thats the geek in me. It’s more noticeable on larger websites such as Microsoft, Google, BBC, etc where they have loads of servers and bandwidth whereas Bryonys favourite forum is probably running on an old 486 on some dial-up connection ūüôā

    File downloads are where the biggest difference is and streaming video and music is now more far enjoyable

    Only thing i’m worried about now is going into the office and thinking our 8Mb is slow!

  • McAfee final straw

    I had a big issue today that has finally pushed me over the edge with McAfee products…..

    First of all let me qualify why we currently use McAfee products as i know it’s not everyones cup of tea

    When we first started the company all of the clients who came on board straight away had McAfee anti-virus. Since we were just starting out we decided to stick with McAfee so we didn’t have to support two different products straight¬†away¬†and so that the client didn’t think we wanted to go and change everything¬† (and costing them money!) as soon as we started supporting them

    We decided that we would review that policy as time went by and evaluate the other major players and decide on a vendor we were happy with

    Down the years there have been one or two issues and experiences with bad support but that happens with every vendor right?

    So today i’m doing an SBS install and we had purchased “Total Virus Defence” for the client, i started the server install and installed VirusScan before i connected to the Internet. I then installed everything else¬†i wanted and decided to do my Windows Updates (including SP2!! which, touch wood, seems ok)

    One of the updates was Internet Explorer 7 (which already had given me some grief)

    It’s a high priority update now and i couldn’t immediately see any reason why i shouldn’t install it as after all i really wouldn’t be doing much browsing with it (it’s a server remember!)

    To ensure all our anti-virus definitions were current i installed McAfee AutoUpdate Architect. During the configuration, every time i opened a wizard the pages automatically changed as though i was clicking the next button and stopping me from doing anything!

    After a bit of digging i found this page which basically tells me that IE7 and UpdateUpdater are not a supported configuration!

    Now for those who don’t know…when you buy McAfee products you get a grant number, you login to¬†their site and download the latest version of the software including any documentation. I had downloaded the software and there was no extra documention files, i extracted the zip file and i read through the “read me” file and there is no mention of the fact that IE7 is unsuported. If it had been in there i wouldn’t have installed IE7 in the first place! This was the first time i’d found out there was a problem and i only i found out because went looking for it.

    I still haven’t found anywhere else it says the configuration is unsupported

    So we also paid for their “gold support” so i thought i’d see what the options were. I tried to login to their support portal and was told by the software that my email address was not valid and i should enter another. Five different addresses later and i knew i had to call someone.

    On the main support page is a single telephone number for support. Dialled that number and it’s dead….great!

    I had the number for the “gold support manager for the¬†EMEA region” so phoned his direct line and mobile. I’m still waiting for the call back

    Eventually we found a number and after being transferred three times and managed to explain the issue to get this answer,

    “It doesn’t work with IE7”

    Thats it. No details on any patch thats due out. No workaround to configure the software in a different way. Nothing

    I was basically told i’d have to “rollback to IE6”

    I wasn’t entirely keen on doing this but with the help of this KB article¬†thats what i did.

    When i’m doing an SBS install i usually take regular images of the system so i can go back to a point in time but because of the when i’d installed IE7¬†(at the start) i didn’t really want to lose all that work (i was installing AutoUpdater right towards the end!) so i’ve decided to run with it “as is” at the moment as the event log looks pretty clear and the system is pretty stable at the moment

    So thats it for McAfee for me. Too many annoyances and i’ve not been happy with the support for years

    We’ll evaluate some different systems in house and support two products until we finally move clients over to something else

    So what are you using at your clients? Do you get good support? Is it value for money?

    I’m going to look at Trend first i think but any insights would be welcome

  • Internet Explorer error when installing SBS R2

    Just in case anyone else makes the same mistake i did <blush>

    If you install IE7 before you install the R2 “bits” you’ll get the following error

    Setup encountered an error while installing the cumulative security update for Internet Explorer. For more information see the log files at C:\Program Files\Microsoft Integration\Windows Small Business Server 2003\Log\KB912812.log..

    The installation will the report it has failed

    As long as this is the only error you get then you don’t have to worry

    Supporting KB Article here

    The article also says that if you install Windows Server 2003 SP2 first with IE7 and then install the R2 bits you wont get the error

    Personally i was saving SP2 till later!  

  • My Amazing Sense Of Timing

    So after my post yesterday talking about leaders who say the right things (etc), tonight we have big fight [sic]

    Vlad explains why he isn’t going to SMB Nation¬†which generates a nice discussion

    and generates posts from Susan and HandyAndy (and i’m sure there will be more) as to why they are going to SMB nation

    I¬†say a big fight but really it’s just a difference of opinion inflamed slightly by Vlad’s use of the term “riff raff”

    I know where i am at the moment with my business and the like and if i’m riff raff i don’t mind being called that!

    Anyway, I believe tonight is SBS Chat night¬†so i’m sure everyone will have made up by then ūüôā

  • SBSC Team Captains

    Warning…football (soccer) analogy!!

    I’ve had this¬†idea for a¬†post rattling around in my head but i’m not sure if will work so bear with¬†me¬†ūüôā¬†

    When i’m not doing geeky techie stuff my other passion is football. I love playing and¬†one of the things i do is play¬†5-a-side every week

    I hurt my back last week so was unable to play. The day after the game i got similar comments from a couple of people,

    “We played ok but our tracking back and defending wasn’t as¬†good without you there”

    Now i’m no superstar. I’m ok but i’m not the fastest, most skilled or the best defender so what¬†is it about me that¬†makes the team perform better just by being there?

    I played tonight and tried to figure it out.

    Basically i do lots of talking and shouting whether i’m on the pitch or off it. I organise people, i encourage, i kick their ass if their not doing their job and make sure that the whole team is focused¬†on winning the game. I don’t make a special effort to do this. It’s just how i play the game

    So where am i going with this?

    The SBS Community is like this. It performs just fine as a rule but it’s the unspoken work of promiment members who ensure that everyone else puts in their bit

    It’s things like key blog posts, the SBS PALS, SBS MVPs and as i mentioned before some shouting can help as well

    These are just four people who fit into this category but I could fill the page with examples and links to other people who also do the same things but part of the point is i shouldn’t need to.

    The more you¬†figure out for yourself about whats going on in SBS/SMB it’s pretty easy to figure out who is giving the team a timely push, encouraging individuals as well as doing the same work as everyone else

    Let’s hope they don’t all get transferred to different teams!

  • Don’t let them get you down

    Today i had the stuffing knocked out of me

    A couple of months ago someone we used to work with approached us about coming to work for us. It coincidiced well with where were are as a company. We have just enough customers to keep us busy but if we wanted to grow (of course!) then knew we’d need people so we could start delegating some of the day-to-day responsibilities and free up time for finding new customers, doing more with existing customers, marketing, process improvement and all those sorts of things to help you become bigger and better

    We sorted out all the formalities and our new staff member has been working his notice period. We arranged everything he’d need to hit the ground running (new pc/laptop, equipment, software, phones, business cards, etc) and Monday 23rd was to be the big day and we had started making plans around this extra resource. I was personally very excited as it marked the next stage in our evolution as a company.

    Today we got a phone call to say his current employer had offered him more money and agreed to change his job role so wouldn’t be coming to us.

    I didn’t answer the phone but from the half of the conversation i could hear i could tell straight away. It was a real¬†kick in the teeth.

    It stuffs up lots of the things we had planned and feels like the last six weeks have been a waste. From an monetry point of view we will lose what we paid to get business cards printed and a mobile phone contract will be going to waste for a while. The rest will just be waiting for whoever we find instead. In the grand scheme of things thats not an awful lot of cash.

    So what have we learnt?

    From the cynical point of view, don’t mix friends with business. Harsh? Maybe? I was more gutted as i knew and trusted this person and maybe i’d have brushed it off easier if it had been some stranger

    We are going to take the positives from this experience and learn from it. We’ll be looking to get someone else straight away and not feel sorry for ourselves. We wont take anything for granted until the person is standing in the office for their first day of work

    Maybe things happen for a reason. Hopefully this will motivate us even more to be as successful as we can be and we’ll look back on the day we were let down as a turning point