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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, Jan 29, 2001 (Vol. 6, #5 - Issue #239)
Never A Dull Moment
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • Never A Dull Moment
    • Why Support Often Counts The Most: Executive Excellence.
    • MS Down - Wednesday: a typo / Thursday&Friday: DoS Attacks
    • How Bad Were PC Sales in 2000?
    • Dell Website Features StorageCeNTral White Paper
    • Secure Idle W2K-Users With the New Fortress-NT/2000 V3.0
    • Sick & Tired Of Having To Mess With Logon Scripts?
    • NEW - High-End Batch Processing with ActiveBatch
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • A+ Certification Test by Comp TIA
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    Never A Dull Moment

    Hi NT/W2K-ers!

    Never a dull moment in this industry. Rapid change all over the place. It's been a busy week again and MS was scrambling to keep its websites up. Below is what happened and what can be learned from their mistakes. Some other interesting things are that we have put our whole website behind a Cisco PIX firewall now, and the new back-end Database of our website is a brand new Dell box running W2K with SQL 7 and a RAID set. It's blisteringly fast.

    We will soon come out with our HTML newsletter. I got a bunch of feedback on this of people that were concerned. Well I have good news. It's going to be a separate list so you can choose if you want HTML or text.

    The SysAdmin browser was field tested by the NTSYSADMIN list, and it was almost uniformly decided by that list that this puppy was not yet ready for prime time, so we are not releasing it yet as it needs some more work! OK, let's have a look at this week's news.

    Warm regards,

    Stu Sjouwerman

    PS, I'm sending this out with a new version of Lyris, but it's not sure if it will come through, so this issue may need to be resent. Don't be surprised if you get it twice in your mailbox.
    (email me with feedback: [email protected])

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    Why Support Often Counts The Most: Executive Excellence.

    This is a story from a user that was sent to me completely uninvited but it was so good that I thought I'd share it with you. At the very end I have a link with a fully updated comparison for the leading defraggers on the market in a grid form.

    Here goes:

    "We all have horror stories. Late, Lousy, Loudmouthed, Lackadaisical support... That's life in the Tech lane. This particular story is about excellence, dedication and hard-headed insistence on customer satisfaction, backed up by a corporate policy that knows no limits when it comes to making the product work.

    A long time ago, I bought Executive Software's Diskeeper. It took a while, but, together with Tim Payne - their HelpDesk rep - I got it working satisfactorily on Microsoft's SBS. Subsequent upgrades through Diskeeper 5.3 required minimal support That support was prompt, courteous and efficient. Then came Version 6.

    This new and improved version had many nice features, but refused to defrag more than a few percent of the heavily fragmented files on one of my partitions. On all the other partitions it worked fine. Did I mention that this upgrade came along just in time for my new invention - the M: drive?

    The M: drive on my server is a 6 GB, compressed, NTFS, fault-tolerant mirror volume set. Its sole purpose is to act as a primary online backup for workstations. Every night, three whole workstation par- titions are backed up to the M: drive. The backup software synchs three subdirectories on M: to the three partitions I back up. It also maintains a two-level archive of any changes made (i.e. deleted or modified files) in three more subdirectories.

    This lets me undo up to three days back, without resorting to weekly tapes. Thus, M: always contains exact images of three workstation drives, any of which can be simply copied back to restore a machine to an earlier (pre-catastrophic) state. I also keep several large .ZIP files on the M: drive. These files range from 7 to 40 MB each.

    When they get fragmented, they virtually eat up the disk surface. All in all, M: contains around 76000 files of various sizes, in nearly 6000 directories, interspersed in a hopeless tangle of self- refragmenting 4096-byte (8-sector) clusters. Frankly, I'm surprised that any defragmentation program can straighten out this mess.

    I initially tried some other products like Ontrack's JetDefrag and Norton Speed Disk, but I was stuck with Diskeeper for now. While these tests with other tools were going on, I had been quietly corresponding and working with Tim Payne of Executive Software, UK.

    Over a period of approximately a month, Tim walked me through a nerve- wrecking series of tests and procedures. Since this is my only server, we had to be very careful with experiments. I couldn't afford to have the office down, just because of a few tests the guy might want. Tim read through myriads of logs, scanned hosts of screen-capture images and, eventually (apparently working together with Executive's programmers) supplied the required solution.

    Diskeeper 6 now runs rapidly, efficiently and effectively on my worst-configured volume - the formidable M: drive. After a single manual run, the whole disk was defragmented, but was still full of directories, randomly sprawling all over the platters. A boot-time run with Diskeeper's directory consolidation option took care of that. M: is now just an ordinary NTFS disk that gets itself optimized whenever the SmartScheduler feels like it (several times a day, according to my NT Event Log).

    The server "seems" to run faster, since the new DKP 6.0 was installed and nightly backups glide through with much less acousticlicking (the clacking sound a self-eroding hard disk makes as it gradually destroys itself).

    In the process of diagnosing the problem, Tim carefully explained every aspect of what we were doing. Not only the Hows, but also the Whys. I found this (and Tim's inexhaustible patience) an educational and practical experience, at two levels. First, I learned many new things about the internal workings of NTFS, including security and other aspects of the system. This alone made Diskeeper well worth the money I had paid for it. But I also learned a lot about good customer support.

    Keeping a (frustrated) customer's attention on a difficult technical issue, over a long period of time, without ever talking down and with not the slightest inkling of arrogance, is something I've come to appreciate and now strive to apply in my own relations with clients.

    Executive Software (for whom I don't work, but maybe I should) cares enough about one Small Business user (with only 10 licenses), to spend whatever salary Tim Payne earns, just to ensure that the product I bought from them will do the job I want it to do - under extremely adverse conditions.

    Was I just lucky to have met Tim? I don't think so. Tim certainly outdid himself in handling my problem professionally, with expertise and persistence, above and beyond. No doubt about that. But every person I had any contact with, at Executive Software, was courteous, patient and helpful. That's not dumb luck. It's an outright, top-down, corporate statement of commitment. That, is what I call SERVICE."

    Here's the update with the most recent 'Defragger Feature Shootout'.

      NT/2000 RELATED NEWS

    MS Down - Wednesday: a typo / Thursday&Friday: DoS Attacks

    It was all over the news, and even the Wall Street Journal reported on it. This is what I have been able to make out of it. I may be a bit wrong, but I'm not far off.

    Wednesday one of their techs screwed up and made a small error in the configuration of their DNS routers. (these devices are kind of in between MS and the Internet) and this error made the links between www.microsoft.com and their IP address invisible for the rest of the Net.

    When this became to light, it suddenly became clear to the hacker community that the four MS DNS servers were all on the same subnet, so they decided to launch a focused Denial of Service on those machines, and WHAM they all went dark again. Well, we learned another lesson here. Never have a single point of vulnerability if you want to stay in the air. If you do, you get swiftly punished for it.

    So, put some procedures in place for a sign-off by a manager that knows his stuff after crucial changes like this are made, or have a colleagues sidecheck what is being done. Next, make sure your DNS servers are redundant (Sunbelt was bitten by this too). I just found out a site called http://www.secondary.com that provides this. Check it out. And obviously they did not have a disaster recovery plan in place in case DNS conked out. MS-Guys, you should have done what I told you in W2Knews Issue #1 this year!

    How Bad Were PC Sales in 2000?

    The numbers are in. The two '800-pound Sumo Wrestlers' of the IT industry analysts (IDC and Dataquest) came out with their year 2000 figures. Their numbers were somewhat different but they show the big ugly picture: PC market saturation.

    IDC claimed that the US PC market grew only 0.3%. Gartner was somewhat more positive and said 10.3% growth in the US for 2000. The world wide estimates were respectively 9.2% and 14.5%. And who were victorious in during this period? Dell grew an estimated 30% in boxes shipped and HP did approx 20%. Who lost? Compaq.

    Keep in mind that these are the total of business _and_ consumer PC's. The scene in Servers is different and I'll talk about that in one of the coming issues.

    Dell Website Features StorageCeNTral White Paper

    Dell has been selling storage area networking gear that they OEMed from EMC for a while. But now they have released their own stuff, which was developed in house. It's called the PowerVault 660F, and is an (up to) 70 Terabytes SAN that allows 20 servers to connect. It's cheaper than the EMC stuff by a long shot but they will continue to sell the EMC gear at least for a while.

    They have designed it from 14 Fibre Channel disk drives, it's all in one box, and Dell said that the price comes to be about four-and- a-half cents per MB, which is actually about half of the competition. Entry level systems start at about $45K which is affordable if you compare the stuff that is on the market at the moment.

    Dell also came out with an included bunch of software for backup/ restore/recovery for Netware and NT/W2K and package that lets multiple clusters share a single PowerVault 660F. And how to keep track of all that NT/W2K storage and make sure it does not get out of control? Well, they like StorageCeNTral (SC) and put a white-paper on their website that describes what SC does. Read the white paper and find out why 78 of the Fortune 100 (including Microsoft) decided for SC's patented TruStor I/O quota filter technology: Here is the Dell link


    Secure Idle W2K-Users With the New Fortress-NT/2000 V3.0

    "The simplest and most effective way to prevent security breaches". Despite the fact that very elaborate and powerful solutions exist to make sure hackers do not enter your networks, a very high percentage of security breaches come from a very down to earth cause: your users are leaving their workstations with confidential information on the screen or readily accessible.

    Apart from the security issue, a user that logs on in the morning in your environment with concurrent licensing and grabs a batch of licenses is a resource hog. This can add unnecessary costs and eats your budget in additional license expenses.

    The solution: Fortress-NT/2000. It provides several flexible but tamperproof security enhancements to Windows NT/2000 Workstations and Servers to limit workstation access, guarantee that unattended workstations get locked, and idle users are logged off. Key features include:

    • Idle Logout Screen Saver ? logs out idle users after a period of inactivity that only YOU can set.
    • Guarantee that a password-protected screen saver is always enabled, with a maximum specifiable delay. This goes beyond the enforcement possible with the domain-wide policies, closing some gaps that are left open. Fortress-NT also allows the user to specify a shorter timeout, if desired.
    • Enforcement of logon/logoff times, with more flexible settings than those offered by standard Windows NT/2000 user management; Fortress-NT also lets you specify the duration of a user?s session (e.g., logon session cannot last longer than 30 minutes).
    • Remote administrative control: You as an Admin can log off a user remotely, start a password-protected screen saver on a remote workstation, view workstation and logon session information, or update Fortress-NT policies on the fly.
    • Specify different policies based on time of day and/or NT group membership.
    • FortLock utility that lets users quickly lock their workstation or logoff with a simple button click, taskbar icon click, or hotkey press. Additional information about FortLock is available from it's online help file.
    • Tamper-proof. Users cannot defeat or override Fortress-NT mechanisms.
    • Very small memory footprint, with no discernable impact on system performance.

    The powerful remote control features of the FortressConfig app allow you as an admin to send policy sets to remote workstations. These policies allow you to define a daily schedule determining when the secure screen savers are turned on, plus other settings like when an idle user should be logged out. It's also important to note that you can define multiple policies for different groups, so you can set different levels of security based on NT/2000's own group memberships. Finally, version 3.0 allows you to lock a workstation remotely, as well as forcibly logoff a user session remotely.

    This V3.0 has become a pretty useful piece of software. 30-day trial:

    Sick & Tired Of Having To Mess With Logon Scripts?

    The new version 3.0 of ScriptLogic has turned out to be a major hit. This is a great new version if you are sick and tired of logon script coding. Most of you are using Windows NT Shell Scripts, VBScript/JScript, Perl, or WinBatch and they usually are a 'time- sink' headache. You're a system admin, not a programmer!

    If you have never looked at something to make Logon Scripts easier, this is the time to do it. ScriptLogic V3.0 takes centralized client administration to a new plateau. The new Pro Edition adds a great many features, including:

    A more granular 3-part validation logic system that now allows you to validate each function (drive map, printer deployment, security policy, Internet, MS Office setting, registry change, etc.) based on:

    • Group membership.
    • Domain membership.
    • Active Directory Site membership.
    • A specific user's logon ID.
    • A specific workstation name or subset of workstations based on a partial name match.
    • A TCP/IP host address or subnet.
    • A distinguished TCP/IP host name.
    • A NIC's MAC address.
    • A specific client OS type, including W95/98, NT/2000 WS, SV or Terminal Server client.
    • Whether the client connected over the local area network or via dial-up networking.

    A new Service Manager applet, that allows you to:

    • Globally monitor the status of the RPC services on all your servers.
    • Start, stop and configure the startup parameters of the RPC services.
    • Remotely install and uninstall the RPC services on all the Domain controllers throughout your enterprise from a single location.
    • Monitor the replication status of any changes made to the ScriptLogic configuration through the ScriptLogic Manager.

    A new System Options screen that allows you to:

    • Specify the conditions which must be met prior to executing ScriptLogic (e.g. exclude all servers).
    • Control the client application files update behavior.
    • Easily import your own company graphic to display during the logon process.
    • Specify particular servers to locate the ScriptLogic and KiXtart RPC services on.
    • Edit the text of the warning message boxes that are seen by the clients logging on. (Internationalization).
    • The ability to install service packs to your Windows NT WS, even if the user logging on is NOT a local administrator of their machine!
    • The ability to synchronize the time on Windows NT/2000 clients, even if the user logging on does not have the "Change the system time" right on their local machine.

    And check the ScriptLogic V3.0 webpage for the features of the earlier upgrade from 2.0 to 2.5. You should really download this puppy and have a look at this great time saver. Eval copy at:

    NEW - High-End Batch Processing with ActiveBatch

    ActiveBatch is a brand new one-stop solution to your Enterprise Cross-Platform Job Scheduling needs. Jobs can execute in an unattended, secure and reliable manner. ActiveBatch, designed from the ground up for Windows 2000/NT, supports the flexible scheduling of jobs using Date/Time and Event (using Microsoft's built-in WMI) triggers.

    Jobs can be scheduled based on hardware or software event(s). ActiveBatch's scaleable architecture and workload balancing provides for the efficient use of system resources. Restart/ Recovery and "failover" ensure your jobs complete on-time.

    ActiveBatch's COM-based infrastructure also supports easy Web- enabled access. You can download a full-function evaluation copy including the full ActiveBatch User's Guide"


    This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

    Want to move to W2K on your servers, but not ready for Active Dir.?

    MCSE? Now Want to be a Consultant? Here's how to make money that way:

    Lost a Password? Check out both of these sites:


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