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Vol. 17, #29 - July 16, 2012 - Issue #888
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This week's newsletter is about Windows power management, something that's not just important for businesses that have to foot the bill for all those overheated PCs but also for datacenter managers who have to keep all those racks of servers from getting fried (or from frying their customers' data, applications and services). But before we proceed to this topic, let's dip into the Mailbag and hear what our readers have been saying about recent issues of WServerNews...
(Note that we're tweaking the newsletter format a wee bit so you can read right up front in the first paragraph what the current issue is about. And as you can see below we're also providing direct links to any previous issues referenced for your convenience. If there are any other format tweaks you think we should make to help make the content of this newsletter easier to read and assimilate, please feel free to let us know at email@example.com.)
Like many of your readers I rescued an IBM mechanical keyboard from the scrap heap. I dismantled it (seems like about a hundred screws held it together) cleaned it and put it back together and used it for many years. Eventually I was forced to update my the lack of PS2 ports on modern computers – plus the lack of a Windows key was beginning to be annoying – and looked around for something good to replace it with. I eventually settled on a Logitech Illuminated keyboard and haven’t been disappointed. It may not have the satisfying click of the old IBM keyboard, but it does feel good and gives every impression that it’s going to last the distance.
As with so much else in life you really get what you pay for. If those IBM keyboards were still being made I wonder how many people would be prepared to pay for one – can’t imagine what it would cost. On the other hand, the majority of keyboards out there can’t cost more than about $5 to manufacture, so do you wonder they’re no good. The Logitech Illuminated costs about 5 times what the cheapest Logitech keyboard goes for, and about 10 times what a no-name cheap keyboard costs, but I think it represents good value for money.
Here's one of these Logitech illuminated keyboards that seems popular:
Another reader named Jim pointed us to a site where you can get new keyboards that are similar to the old IBM ones but have newer features for today's computers:
For those having trouble finding old-school clicky-clacky buckling spring keyboards, like those that came with my original IBM 5150, these guys have them:
They are updated with USB instead of PS2 or DIN connectors, and even have Windows keys. I bought one some years ago for my wife. She uses it daily at work, it’s still going strong. Quality hardware. No affiliation other that we use their product.
Welmoed from the Netherlands offered another suggestion along similar lines:
I use Cherry (German brand) keyboards (3000 model) for a very long time. The one I'm typing this info on is bought in 1993 and still functions. I've cleaned the interior once, approx. 7 years ago. It's the "old-fashioned", IBM style keyboard with PS/2 connector. The newer Cherry keyboard (both PS/2 and/or USB, 6000 model) still have the same layout. The private computer has one of those for over 4 years now, never cleaned. This newer model however is all plastic, but stability is good. Since Cherry operates worldwide, your readers may want to look at those keyboards if they want the IBM type layout.
When I read that Welmoed said he "cleaned the interior once, approx. 7 years ago" I replied with a bit of humor by saying "Hmm, you must not eat or drink when you work at your computer" and he responded:
Your assumption is correct. I do not eat or drink near the computer. Also helps to take a break in a different setting. That's what I advise my clients too. As they often are more susceptible to monetary issues, I often mention the cost of repair/replacement.
Hmm, very sensible reply (he says as he gulps his NOS energy drink and nibbles on some trail mix).
Here are links to the Cherry model 3000 and 6000 keyboards, plus a newer one that's even pricier:
A reader named Rich said he hadn't experienced the "stiff keys" syndrome but did have another pet peeve to share concerning crummy keyboards:
Oh, another peeve I forgot, for those who are not touch typists, is crummy silkscreening (or however they put the letters on the keys) that wears off in less than a year of regular, but not heavy/hard/industrial (dirt/grime, etc.) use. I think my old northgate had recesses on the keys where the ink/letter was put so never wore off, and that old mouse systems keyboard I mentioned in previous response still has all the letters intact in spite of having been used literally for MANY (at least 5) years.
I've never had that problem with Belkin keyboards, which I use a lot, but I have heard a few reports from colleagues of this happening with the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 and a few other models.
I enjoyed your article on Multi-Terabyte disk drives. However, I would not have excluded the issue about advanced format, especially with so many organizations still on Vista or XP. This is one of several knowledgebase articles you will find on this topic: "Information regarding Windows Home Server and advanced format hard disks Article ID: 2385637"
This has impacted several software products. I am stunned the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)’s did not highlight this architectural change before issuing it globally. It didn’t get any journalist coverage as near as I can tell. How can shifting your sector size from 512 to 4,096 bytes be a minor issue? You will find hot fixes, patches and Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) changes are necessary in many cases.
Very good point, thanks. I was pressed for time on getting that particular issue out so I couldn't go as deeply as I wanted on the subject, so to compensate here's some more info: "Understanding the Impact of Large Sector Media for IT Pros" from the TechNet Library, last updated just a few weeks ago:
Also check out the article "Advanced Format (4K) Disk Compatibility Update" from the Windows Dev Center on MSDN:
PKI Potpourri (Issue #882)
Finally, an alert reader has pointed us to this article on Kapersky Lab's ThreatPost blog with information that Microsoft has revoked trust in almost 30 of their digital certificates used to sign Microsoft software as authentic:
In their security advisor on this matter, Microsoft advises customers to immediately apply the update they've released that moves these certificates to the Untrusted Certificate Store on Windows computers:
Now on to this issue's main topic.
Energy efficiency is likely something your organization's bean counters are going to be concerned about, and so should you as an IT manager or system administrator. But it's a pretty broad topic that can be approached from a lot different angles. For example, are we talking about energy efficiency in the datacenter or with desktop PCs spread across an organization? Are we talking about policies IT can enforce (such as pushing out power management settings using Group Policy) or can only recommend (like asking users to hibernate their computers when they finish work)? What about newer server hardware that has low-power processors--can I save money on my electric bill with these? And what about regulatory requirements with regard to green computing for my industry sector--what do I need to know in this area?
Obviously we can only dip into this by focusing on a couple of issues. Perhaps our readers can provide input on other aspects of this matter by sending us feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
But first, what would happen if your computer got so hot that it caught fire, and then your house caught fire, and then the whole world started burning:
Virtualizing server workloads
One relatively simple way of making your datacenter or server room "more green" is to reduce the number of physical servers you need to support by virtualizing your existing server workloads using Microsoft or VMware virtualization. For example, that dedicated DHCP server you have in your server room may be running on older system hardware that draws a lot of power, but the actual processor utilization on that server may only average around 3% since DHCP isn't a very "busy" network service usually (though it's critical for network operations). So running your DHCP server in a virtual machine is a no-brainer, and the more physical servers you can convert to virtual machines the fewer physical servers you'll need and the lower your power bill will be.
Server consolidation is one of the big benefits of virtualization and can help you get control over the "server sprawl" in your environment. Here's a link to some case studies on server consolidation from Microsoft:
By using server virtualization a mid-sized business can often reduce the number of physical servers at their head office from dozens to only a handful or fewer. Of course, you have to be willing to invest in a few powerful multiprocessor systems, but the power savings you can realize from retiring your energy un-efficient servers and running most of your infrastructure services on clustered Hyper-V hosts can be significant over time. Don't forget also that modern server hardware tends to be much more energy efficient than older hardware. And if you're going to use Hyper-V, make sure you use the latest version as the Dynamic Memory feature keeps getting better:
What servers can be virtualized?
Most infrastructure servers can be virtualized using Hyper-V or VMware if they are running Windows Server 2008 or later. Virtualizing domain controllers is tricky however as this Knowledge Base article describes:
The Virtual PC Guy (Ben Armstrong) has some helpful recommendations on this matter:
More detailed guidance for virtualizing Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controllers using Hyper-V can be found in the TechNet Library here:
And by now you've probably heard that Windows Server 2012 includes new safeguards for running domain controllers on virtual machines to ensure safety and consistency of virtualized Active Directory environments:
What about other Microsoft server applications like SharePoint, SQL Server and Exchange? Microsoft offers detailed guidance on how to virtualize SharePoint 2010 here:
They also have a whitepaper on how to virtualize SQL Server 2008 R2:
...and another one on virtualizing SQL Server 2012 with Hyper-V:
Plus there's guidance on Exchange 2010 virtualization, see here:
Note that all Exchange 2010 server roles except for the Unified Messaging role are supported in virtual environments.
What about third-party server applications like SAP? You can often find Microsoft case studies about these if you search for them:
If not, check with the vendor of the application to see if they are supported in Hyper-V or VMware environments.
Power Management with SCCM
Since power management is an issue for both clients and servers, it helps if you can manage it from a central location. System Center 2012 Configuration Manager can help you address this need by enabling you to consistently apply power management settings, configure different settings for different times of day, and generate reports for analyzing power consumption:
Energy efficiency in Windows 8
Finally, this post from awhile back on the Building Windows 8 blog describes some new power management features coming in Windows 8:
Got feedback on any of this stuff, or more you'd like to contribute on the topic of power management and energy efficiency for Windows client and server systems? Email me at email@example.com.
Got drivers for an older device that you want to try and get working with the x64 version of Windows 7? If the drivers aren't signed, you won't be able to install them. Unless of course you sign them yourself as described in "Sign your unsigned drivers - Damn It" from Johan Arwidmark's Deployment Research Blog:
And if you're looking for good books on Windows deployment, the best I've come across are the three by Johann Arwidmark and Mikael Nystrom
First, for some good articles about virtualization using both Microsoft and VMware platforms, check out VirtualizationAdmin.com, one of our TechGenix family of sites for IT pros:
Now for something different. Some of us probably write code as part of our job, so here are a few new developer books that I've had opportunity to examine:
The Developer's Code: What Real Programmers Do from Pragmatic Bookshelf provides some general tips and guidance on how to be productive as a programmer:
Start Here! Learn Microsoft Visual C# 2010 from Microsoft Press is perhaps the easiest and most readable book on learning Visual C# that I've come across so far. The learning style is inductive at times, which helps maintain motivation by keeping you involved. For example, the author gets you working with classes and implementing them before you really understand what classes are. It's sort of a "do first, understand later" approach, a lot like learning the grammar of a new language:
Windows Phone 7 Development Internals: Covers Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 7.5 from Microsoft Press is obviously for a specialized audience, but with smartphones taking over computers as the primary computing device of the younger audience, maybe it's time to start learning how to code in that direction if you want to stay employable as a developer:
"How foolish we are not to recognize what we are best fitted for and can perform, not only with ease but with pleasure, as masters of the craft."
--from the Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie
Andrew was right, at least as far as my own life is concerned. You have to figure out what you're really good at and stay focused on it if you want to achieve success in life. Where do your own talents reside?
Until next week,
TechGenix is delighted to announce that the winner of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 is long-time subscriber Konrad Eysink from Dallas, Texas. Congratulations! Read the full announcement here.
Download a free, fully functioning 30-day trial of Patch Manager from SolarWinds and get visibility into patch compliance with an extensive collection of simple, built-in reports.
Using Microsoft Hyper-V? Altaro Hyper-V Backup Freeware Edition is an easy to use Hyper-V aware backup solution. Watch the YouTube Video.
Get the most out of your PC, plus help others with their PCs as well with this award-winning product:
Put your SharePoint farm through the paces by simulating a synthetic load test against it using this tool:
NodeXL is an open source add-in for Excel for social network analysis:
TechMentor, the top conference for IT professionals, is coming to the Microsoft campus! Register with code TMRTU for a $300 discount:
Contact Michael Vella at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your conference or other event listed in our Events Calendar.
Contact Michael Vella at email@example.com to get your webcast listed in our Webcasts Calendar.
New Internet Security Awareness Training from KnowBe4 and Kevin Mitnick arms employees against spear-phishing attacks and social engineering tactics:
The Solution Accelerators team announces that Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2012 Update 1 Beta 1 is now available for download on Microsoft Connect:
Gartner recently released their 2012 Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure. Check out how the different vendors stack up against one another in this area:
Rory Monaghan put together some short video tutorials showing what App-V is, how to set it up and how to troubleshoot when things go wrong. From the blog of the Irish IT Professional:
Read one view of what VMware's recent acquisition of DynamicOps might mean for the future of enterprise virtualization:
First VKernel was first acquired by Quest and now Dell has acquired Quest. What does it mean for virtualization management?
Managing enterprise applications and business units in the cloud can be much more challenging than in traditional computing environments. Fortunately, this resource introduces two advanced approaches that can help you tackle your complex cloud workflows. Discover the key advantages they can offer.
As a result of the high costs and restrictions of Microsoft’s virtual desktop licensing, many IT professionals often opt for alternative providers – but that’s all about to change. Learn about the upcoming VDI licensing changes Microsoft is expected to roll out with Windows 8.
While virtualization can deliver key benefits to your business, there’s no question that it comes with its fair share of challenges. Access this resource to discover what the members of the Server Virtualization Advisory Board say are their top virtualization pain points and how they’re addressing them.
In order to successfully set up a vSphere infrastructure to host cloud environments, it’s essential to conduct compliance testing to ensure you meet security regulations. Luckily, this resource introduces advanced tools and services you can utilize to simplify and improve the testing process.
Top Gear’s James May drives and flies the Aerocar, a roadable aircraft, designed and built in the 1950s:
Over the course of 11 months, a Triumph Spitfire sports car enthusiast from the UK took over 3,000 pictures while working on rebuilding its engine:
The "Sentinel" mission plans to place an asteroid-hunting space telescope into orbit around the Sun in search of asteroids that could impact Earth.
How can a super-thin, three-inch disk levitate something 70,000 times its own weight? Boaz Almog demonstrates and explains superconductivity and quantum levitation:
Cool off and relax with "Water Time" by Luc Bergeron:
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros. Mitch is also a seven-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also Head of Research for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.