Professional Geek
RSS icon Email icon Bullet (black)
  • Keep an eye out for : ServerFault.com

    I spotted on Mark Wilson’s blog this morning the news that StackOverFlow.com is about to get a sibling – ServerFault.com

    The first thing you may be asking is “what is StackOverFlow.com”

    It’s a Q&A site specifically for programmers. Imagine Experts Exchange (without the paid for memberships or annoying ads) crossed with Digg, crossed with a wiki, crossed with a forum

    The idea is that you can ask a question and wait for answers..then as other people read the answers they can mark certain answer to be better than others – the idea is you’ll get the better answers at the top

    Registered users then gain points to build up an online reputation. The more points you gain the more you can do on the site (better explained here)

    However, if like me your more of an IT Pro than a developer it’s not all that useful. I can’t answer any questions and don’t have any questions to ask!

    ServerFault will change that. It’s the same format as StackOverFlow but aimed at people like me

    The best explanation is from the stackoverflow blog

    Server Fault is for system administrators and IT professionals, people who manage or maintain computers in a professional capacity. If you are in charge of …

    • servers
    • networks
    • many desktop PCs (other than your own)

    … then you’re in the right place to ask your question! Well, as long as the question is about your servers, your networks, or your desktops, anyway.

     

    It’s in private beta at the moment with a public beta expected in the next couple of weeks. I imagine this will get a full launch pretty soon as underneath it’s the same code as StackOverFlow so they are not exactly re-inventing the wheel

    StackOverFlow is the brain child of Jeff Attwood and Joel Spolsky (who both have cool blogs!) – keep up the good work guys!

  • JavaScript not running in Internet Explorer

    Got a phone call this morning from someone who was having problems logging into one of their supplier parts catalogues.

    They would enter their logon and details and would just get a blank page

    I added the site to the trusted zone and compared the IE settings with a PC that could logon ok (also proving it wasn’t the firewall blocking content or the website itself)

    Convinced it was IE to blame i downloaded Firefox Portable and the page displayed correctly

    After that we tried upgrading to IE8 (thinking maybe IE was damaged) but still no luck

    I then back to the beginning and did a “view source” on the blank page

    There was a small piece of JavaScript that basically buy ativan visa redirected to the main parts catalogue after login

    Just to confirm this I opened my blog – there is some elements on this page that make use of javascript (bottom left hand corner – the “start” menu) and they didn’t work either

    I was going to re-install the scripting engine(available here) but I also found

    Register Windows Script Engine Fix it Live! – Microsoft Fix It Blog

    The “fix it” automatically checks and re-registers the script components

    Since i knew it was specifically javascript with the problem i did it manually

    regsvr32 C:\WINDOWS\system32\jscript.dll

     

    After I restarted IE the parts catalogue opened as expected as did the flashy bits on my blog 🙂

  • InfoPath @ AMITPRO

    I’ve just got back from tonight’s AMITPRO meeting where I was speaking about InfoPath (if your still wondering what InfoPath is I’ll post about this soon!)

    All in all I was pleased with how it went down and got some great comments from people there

    Since I’m my own worse enemy when it comes to things I do I’m going to critique myself to make sure I learn!

    If the ultimate goal was to give everyone an overall view of what InfoPath is, how it works, how much it costs, etc I think i achieved that. Driving back i thought of a couple of things I’d have liked to improve

    1) Slides – some slides I skipped over far too quickly. I’d put the slide in there for a reason so why bother not using it?

    2) Specific plan – I would have no hope of memorising some sort of script, etc so my plan was to use the slides as prompts and then talk from my own knowledge and experience which I think generally worked ok but i possibly over emphasised some things and glossed over other points altogether as I tried to make sure I covered everything. The other problem with this is that if I had to give the same presentation again it would probably be very different. It also meant I sort of dwindled away instead of having a clear specific ending

    3) Speed – it felt to me like I raced through the entire thing though obviously that’s just my perspective as I was concentrating on recalling other things while talking at the same time

    4) Demos – My demos weren’t as structured as I’d have liked (this sort of follows on from point 2) which I sometimes ended up wandering down dead ends

    We rarely have group members speak at meetings so it was personally big deal for me to get it right. If you were there tonight thanks for your attention. Any feedback you have (good or bad!) is appreciated

    I enjoyed the whole experience though I could probably do with a laptop upgrade :-) 

  • I’m on twitter

    I’ve finally succumbed and signed up for Twitter (@AndyParkes)

    I still don’t quite get it just yet but then again I didn’t get Flickr or Facebook to begin with either so thought it wouldn’t hurt to give it a go

    Come say hi (or whatever it is you do there :-)  )

  • New HP Proliant G6 Range Launched

    HP have recently launched a new range of HP ProLiant G6 servers

    HP Redefines Server Economics with HP ProLiant G6 Portfolio (HP Press Release)

    The big news is that you can get a LOT more RAM and disks into a single server

    For example, the ML350 (our favoured server) supports a maximum of 144GB of RAM and has space for 16 small form factor hard disks (8TB total!)

    Other highlights include more internal sensors, energy efficient power supplies, dynamic power capping, dramatically faster storage controllers (reportedly twice as faster as the previous generation) and a dual port NIC (specific features depend on model chosen)

    The full G6 line up,

    HP ProLiant DL380, DL370, DL360, DL180 and DL160 rack-optimized servers;

    HP ProLiant BL 490c, BL 460c and BL 280c server blades;

    HP ProLiant ML370, ML350 and ML150 tower servers.

    I imagine we’ll start seeing some deals for existing G5 stock so keep an eye out for them!

    Some other useful links on this

    HP ProLiant Server Family Guide – a great PDF outlining the full Proliant range

    HP Virtual IT Center – Look for the G6 range specific section

    Review of the new line up on the Register

    Review of the new line on techhead

    Video on HP website outline new features on the ML350 G6 (have a look through the Proliant channel – lots of other videos there)

    Proliant page on HP.com

    ML350 World Wide Quickspecs

    Launch details on James Henry’s Proliant blog

    What’s new with HP ProLiant?

  • AMITPRO Meeting – May 2009

    Having a bad case of insomnia so thought I’d get up and do something productive…then i ended up here 🙂

    The next AMITPRO meeting is this Tuesday (12th April), 17:00 at the Arden hotel (as always!)

    There will be two sessions this month

    First is Sally Ross, SMB Channel Development Manager for Citrix who will be talking about the recently rebranded Citrix Access Essentials (now XenApp Fundementals). She’ll be accompanied by Kathryn Whyte who is a Citrix and Microsoft Product Sales Specialist from Ingram Micro.

    I met both ladies at a recent Citrix event so will be looking forward to seeing them present for the group

    The second session is by someone called Andy Parkes 😉

    I’ll be doing a short piece on Microsoft Infopath covering what it is, how you can get it with a sprinkling of demos to show how it works

    Look forward to seeing you on the 12th!

  • HTTP 500 Error using Exchange ActiveSync on Exchange 2003

    Just a quick one so I remember this next time!

    One of our clients hooked up their first mobile device last week (it was an iPhone!)

    They called us to ask for the details but they were constantly prompted for the password. I was visiting site the same day so had a look myself. The settings had been entered correctly so i logged onto the server and checked the IIS logs

    I could see entries for the iPhone connecting but nothing in the security log that indicated a problem with the user name and password

    The next step was to use the excellent www.testexchangeconnectivity.com website to see if it could connect. It couldn’t and i got a HTTP 500 error with a link to click on which eventually led me to:

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/817379

    Basically when using a single Exchange server there are some steps you need to take as the virtual directory ActiveSync uses needs HTTPS disabled whereas i need it enabled for OWA (the full technical details are in the KB article – your device is still connected to the server over HTTPS)

    The problem doesn’t occur if you have a front-end/back-end Exchange setup or if you are running SBS 2003 as the connect to the Internet Wizard takes care of that for you (check the steps in the KB article and compare it to your SBS…they will be the same)

    I also came across a great blog post by Corey Gilmore, with the full set of steps needed to configure a single Exchange 2003 server for ActiveSync (including ISA configuration) with screenshots so there is no need for me to reproduce that here 🙂

  • My corner of the office

    ** Random post warning! **

    I’ve spent my afternoon giving my corner of the office a bit of a spring clean. Anyone that knows me will attest to the fact I’m not very tidy so every now and then I like to clear everything away and start from scratch. It took much longer than i planned and for a while i created more mess than i was clearing

     

    My corner of the office!

    From: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyparkes/3491986870/

    I spend so much time sat here I’ve got a few personal “decorations”

    Click through to the flickr page for notes

    Enjoy your bank holiday weekend!

  • Why i don’t add Facebook applications

    image

    How vague is that?!

    I don’t know what it’s going to do with the information it’s asking permission to access so it doesn’t get access

    This particular application was one of those “Top 5” lists in this case “Your first 5 gaming systems in order”

    image

    All the application does generic ativan look like does is compile a list. So why does the application need access to my profile, pictures, and friends information?

    Until i know exactly what it’s going to access and what it’s going to do with my data then I wont install any apps

    Paranoid rant over

  • Exchange 2003 – Greylisting and Delayed NDR’s

    Recently I’ve heard from various different clients having problems when sending emails to the NHS

    The error message usually reads

    <****.com #4.0.0 smtp;451 ******@****.nhs.uk>… Requested mail action not taken: mailbox unavailable

     

    Due to the message specifically saying “mailbox unavailable” and it’s several different clients all sending to the same organisation I’ve been placing the blame with the NHS

    This morning I found out that assumption was wrong

    I was doing some work on one of our clients servers and needed to restart the SMTP service

    About two minutes later I got a call from the client in question to say they had all suddenly started get a glut of NDR’s

    Initially it looked like they were all for messages sent to the NHS but we found one or two that were to different domains and also spotted that some of these messages were originally sent last week

    It was one of the other emails that made me look into this further. The error in this case was

    <****.com #4.0.0 smtp;450 <****@******.com>: Recipient address rejected: Greylisted for 5 minutes>

     

    Greylisting!

    This is where a mail server temporarily rejects a message when it is first sent. When the mail server retries it will be accepted on the second attempt. The theory is that spammers get so many rejections they don’t try again (more info available at http://www.greylisting.org/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greylisting)

    While looking into this previously I’d been told that the NHS were using greylisting as part of their spam prevention measures

    Looking at the two error messages that both use the same SMTP failure code (4.0.0) which indicates a temporarily failure (i.e please try again!)

    The NHS description is less helpful than the other one

    So i still had to figure out what had caused all the NDR’s to suddenly appear

    On the greylisting.org site there is a page called “Problem MTA’s”. This a single page with one entry

     

    Microsoft Exchange 2003 and greylisting

    There is a bug in MS Exchange 2003 when sending to greylisting servers. Sometimes the server will fail to re-queue messages sent to some servers that implement greylisting. More information:

    groups.google.com/group/mi…64d5749ee7cb

    groups.google.com/group/mi…07ac14b116db

    According to ozinm on our forums there is a possible hotfix available from Microsoft now: www.greylisting.org/forums/showthread.php?tid=18

     

    The threads there talked about the exact same problem I had. It also looks like the problem has been around October 2005. It has various workarounds including using a batch file to restart the SMTP service every day!

    Eventually a hotfix mentioned is here: 934709 

    HOWEVER! This is for servers that are running Windows 2003 with the SMTP service. It doesn’t apply if your using Exchange 2000 / 2003

    After a bit more searching I finally found this

    Article ID: 950757 – E-mail senders do not receive an indication that some messages have been held by Exchange Server 2003 until the SMTP service, the Microsoft Exchange Information Store service, or the Exchange server is restarted

    This fits the problem exactly. I’ve applied to the server I’ve been dealing with today so I’ll keep an eye on it and apply to the other servers that have noticed similar issues

    Another solution would be to use a smart host to deliver your messages for you

    One thing i have learnt here is that I probably should have double checked the SMTP code instead of relying on the error description. I generally only get to the SMTP code if I can’t find a problem using other troubleshooting methods (Exchange messages tracking, telnet tests, etc)