Sunbelt W2Knews Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, Jan 28, 2002 (Vol. 7, #8 - Issue #339)
Power Line Based Home Automation
This issue of W2Knews contains:
- EDITORS CORNER
- TECH BRIEFING
- Power Line Based Home Automation
- NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
- Top 10 Windows Server Storage Bloopers
- NT/2000 THIRD PARTY NEWS
- New Print Manager Plus 4.0 Released and Shipping
- Powerful New OpalisRobot V4 Does It All
- W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
- This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
- PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
- Clustering Windows Server
What's your disaster protection plan?
Your company needs protection from emergencies and downtime,
but your IT budget is smaller than ever. The pressure is on you to
find cost-effective ways to protect data and applications. The
Disaster Protection Primer can help simplify the process and help
scope your business continuity plans. Includes side-by-side
comparison and product evaluation.
Visit Marathon for more information.
It's a hot topic all right. If you really want super strong passwords,
we have found the best way to even defeat l0pht crack version 3 is to
use the not very well known alternate character set. You create them
with the alt key and a number code, like ALT-145. Even a one character
password like that (they only show up as squares in most applications)
will be far stronger than average passwords.
Add them to your password policy as criteria for a typical "strong
password" and it would require brute force cracking utilities on
steroids (or the feds of course). But also monitor the percentage
of help desk calls that will go up!
(email me with feedback: [email protected])
SPONSOR: DOWNTIME PREVENTION
DISASTER WILL STRIKE, NOT IF... BUT WHEN?
2001 Best Seller Double-Take provides real-time (and open file) data
replication. You can use it for either High Availability and/or
Disaster Recovery. It is your main job to prevent downtime for NT and
W2K networks. Double-Take is the industry leading product that will help
you do just that. Because it is not a matter of "if" disaster strikes.
Fires, floods and other mayhem always happens when you least expect it.
Visit DOWNTIME PREVENTION for more information.
Power Line Based Home Automation
You may ask yourself, what's that got to do with W2K? And as you
will see in a short while: everything. Engineers have been suspecting
for over a 100 years (really) it should be possible to use power
lines for communications. The good news is that chip technology
has finally come up to the level of sophistication to make it
It's been rough going. Power lines are notorious for many kinds of
noise. So, other networking technologies were developed that were
easier to deploy. Some examples are HomePNA which works through
existing telephone jacks, and the new Wi-Fi which is the wireless
802.11b standard. But neither of these have been received warmly.
In the USA we have about 26 million homes with more than one PC,
and some 5 million+ are already networked. The vast majority is
(90%) using Ethernet because it's fast. But that's just PC's.
How about all the rest of the homes? Up to now there has been X10,
which is fun, it works when you install it correctly, but it is
limited to short packet bursts (for instance to switch devices
on and off) with a maximum of 10Kilobit/second.
Envision a scenario where ALL devices in the home can be plugged
into your power lines, are able to communicate at 100Megabit/sec
and are aware of each other. Wouldn't that be something?
Well, they have got the networking part working. The trick is to
make it reliable and fast as the noise on power lines is deafening.
Proof of the pudding is plugging in a power drill right next to
a power network adapter and your network connection stays up.
The technology they have found to be workable took in mind all these
power line problems. There is a crowd of devices on these lines that
send spikes of static, the breakers filter and dampen signals, and
switching things on/off makes the resistance, voltage and current
fluctuate. (Think two people talking at their normal voice level but
trying to get across Times Square that way.)
The engineers had to go through several years of research to come
up with ways around all that. What turned out to work is using
frequencies above 4 Megahertz. But they used a very wide band of
that spectrum (4.5-21 Mhz) and split that up in 76 independent
channels that ALL get used to send the same data message.
The homeplug power line adapters have specialized chips in them
that are comparable to the complexity of an early Pentium. The
adapters hook up with each other, send test messages, define which
channels are reliable, encrypt on the fly and make the packets
arrive correctly. The complexity of this signal processing is
awesome, and in about 2 years they will be running this at
Now it is of course waiting for the devices to become network aware.
And here is where Windows comes in. Universal Plug and Play is a
very capable technology to seamlessly stitch all of this together.
The existing television, stereo and other appliance vendors need
to get on the bandwagon as well and that is what MS usually is
good at. An advanced PC-like device would drive the whole house,
with backward compatibility to X10 devices and everything
showing up in your "My Network Places". Pretty cool.
Link to the HomePlug Powerline Alliance at homeplug.org:
NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
Top 10 Windows Server Storage Bloopers
"Don't be the next victim of sloppy storage management," warned
Steven Toole, WQuinn's storage expert. Toole has seen IT managers
felled by hurricanes, porn, music lovers, and even junk mail. It's
not pretty, he said, and it can happen to you. So here are the most
made errors made on NT and W2K servers:
And here is the solution to all these ills in one neat package:
- The storage hurricane. Whenever hurricane warnings were issued, the
company's servers crashed. The cause: panicked users simultaneously
backing up their hard drives to the servers, exceeding server capacities.
Real-time space allocations can prevent this.
- The MP3 jukebox. At a New York City financial services firm, a
mailroom employee brought in his entire music CD collection and copied
20 G bytes of mp3 files to the production server. No wonder backups took
so long. File blocking keeps mp3s off servers.
- Porngate. This well-organized user kept his library of pornographic
gif files on the company server. He had a separate subdirectory for
each young lady, organized alphabetically by name. Policy-based file
blocking says who can and can't store graphic files on company servers.
- Drop the dupes. A leading manufacturing company had over 200,000
duplicate files on the server. Copy that! Automated, scheduled storage
resource management (SRM) reporting identifies duplicate files.
- Love bites. Last year's Love Bug virus caused $10 billion in damages
across the corporate IT world. One user spent two full days recovering
from this heartache. Blocking VBS, EXE and DLL file types protects
server integrity against viruses.
- Not enough hours in the day. This company's "nightly" backup cycle
took 24 hours to complete. Policy-based storage grooming slashed this
- Storage cops. A ton of junk mail and unused files were eating up
the storage capacity and sapping the performance of this IT manager's
network. His first housecleaning effort involved spending almost an
entire week per month cleaning junk files off the server and sending
nasty messages to users, pleading with them to practice better storage
hygiene. Now he has automated the entire process with policy-based SRM.
- Babysitting application servers. This admin used to watch capacity
levels of 1,200 servers the old fashioned way - one at a time. Now
he receives space allocation alerts as each one approaches critical
performance levels so he can take corrective action and avoid server
- Outdated data overload. This user never cleaned off the server's
outdated files. When he finally ran an SRM report on outdated files,
his list of files not accessed in over one year was 800 pages long.
Regularly scheduled SRM reports can automatically identify files
not accessed over a recent period to move them offline and free up
- Costly expansion. This user was about to spend $25,000 on an
additional RAID array. Instead, he ran some SRM reports and freed
up about 30% of his utilized disk space, eliminating the need for
the expansion. So, instead of spending $25,000, he spent $1,300
on software products.
THIRD PARTY NEWS
New Print Manager Plus 4.0 Released and Shipping
Print Manager Plus V4.0 is designed to audit and reduce the cost
of printing in the corporate, government, and education markets.
V4.0 is the most major upgrade ever of this world-class network
tracking, accounting, and quota setting software for enterprise
printing. PMP supports printing from all operating systems through
a Windows print server and from all printer types.
Gartner calculates the cost of acquiring a printer is only 20% of
the total cost involved. 70% of companies are unaware of their
printing costs because they don't have a means to effectively
audit these costs. Print Manager Plus 4.0 creates a detailed
audit trail of the cost of printing.
Print Manager Plus lets you enter a different page cost per printer
(such as for more expensive color printers) and account for exact
printing costs per user or printer in the organization. The GUI
has built-in reports showing how many pages each user or printer
printed over specific time periods and the actual cost. Reports
can also be customized or printed or exported to most accounting
databases or billing systems. Print Manager Plus supports SQL,
Access, and ODBC compliant databases.
PMP lets you set an overall price quota per user or group over a
time period. You can also limit job sizes by user to a specified
number of pages. You can restrict print jobs based on file type,
application, or by key words in the document title. Print Manager
Plus installs in seconds on the Windows NT, 2000, XP print server.
In an average school environment of 1,000 students it pays for
itself in saved paper and toner every ten days. If they put your
budgets under pressure, here is a way to cut costs:
Powerful New OpalisRobot V4 Does It All
OpalisRobot is a task automation solution. Its unique combination
of scheduling, monitoring and automation provides you with the
tools to automate a broad range of your IT operations. It can
detect and correct system errors as well as automate IT job
processes to improve availability and performance of your business
Check it out over here:
- System Monitoring:
OpalisRobot monitors for server, process and service performance.
Monitor event logs, performance (memory, CPU, disk space etc.),
services, processes, WMI events, SNMP traps, applications,
computers, text files, text logs and Internet application (DNS,
FTP, HTTP, SMTP and POP).
- Automate Corrective Action & Improve Performance:
When a problem is detected or a threshold exceeded, the user-defined corrective action executes the same procedures that YOU would take to resolve the issue. Stop/start a service, restart computers, run programs (command line or executables), end processes, stop jobs, purge event logs and launch 3rd party
- Notification, Logging & Reporting:
E-mail, pager, pop-up, event log message, SNMP trap, web page
& alert window. Log file flow jobs to a SQL, ODBC database.
Create reports in CSV, HTML or text file format.
One product offers automation of IT processes, no agents, modules
or 3rd party tools required. The ability to automate virtually
any IT operation greatly improves your productivity and saves your
valuable time. Centralized management, import/export job configs.
OpalisRobot jobs can be copied to other OpalisRobot servers which
eliminates the need to recreate jobs for each computer. This is a
pretty powerful package.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
OK, OK, OK. Sometimes geeks have a way describing things a bit, well... geeky.
As a System Admin, you control a lot of machines. But careful with distributed computing software (like SETI at home). You may get sued for running it on your networks!
Robert Cringely has some interesting and controversial ideas about why MS
is now on the "Security bandwagon".
PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
Clustering Windows Server
This book demystifies Windows clustering from both a hardware
and software viewpoint. It defines clustering terminology and
concepts from a vendor-neutral perspective, and provides a
matrix for evaluating the multitude of cluster technology
offerings. You can use it as a road map to creating scalable
and reliable Windows 2000 clustered systems.
This unique book is for everyone from system designers to IT
managers who want a solid understanding of the optimal products
and technologies they can use in creating "clusters" of
computers to support truly enterprise-caliber programs.