Lion L2TP VPN Service With Windows 7

If you have a Lion server behind a NAT router (for example, an Airport Extreme or Time Capsule) that is running a VPN service you may have difficulties connecting to it with Windows 7 using L2TP despite the correct setup.

I won’t go into the deep dive on this now, but just a total quick tip. You need to change the encapsulation parameters on Windows 7. Do that by setting a registry key:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\PolicyAgent]

…add a new DWORD value:

“AssumeUDPEncapsulationContextOnSendRule”=dword:00000002

Exchange Server 2007 SP3 RU4

Description of Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 3

It looks like Exchange 2007 SP3 RU4 has a lot of goodies in it. At least 5 of the items in this list are impacting the environment at my day job.

While it’s good to see progress, I’m always wary of these updates because of the regression bugs they often introduce. Test and patch carefully, gang.

IBM Is Now Worth More Than Microsoft

All I can say is… times are definitely changing.

BOOM: IBM Is Now Worth More Than Microsoft

 

Yammer’s Bad Form

Have you heard of Yammer? If not, you will.

You will likely hear about Yammer after your corporation or business signs a deal with them. Your users will start to flock toward the service and sign up. Lo and behold you will discover that they will be offered a piece of software to install. During the software install they will have the option to invite other users in your organization.

It appears this feature enjoys crawling through your local address book or global address list to invite folks. If you’re in a large organization with thousands of employees, congratulations! You now have a spam attack.

Yammer needs to fix this. Other social startups need to learn from this. Because of this, I’m actively staying away from Yammer, even though my large business is asking us to use it. Screw that. I have work to do.

Microsoft’s EC Complaint About Google

I was reading the blog post over at Microsoft from the fellow… Oh, I forget his name already. Anyway, he was explaining why Microsoft is filing a complaint with the European Commission about Google’s unfair business advantages and whatnot.

At first, this whole thing comes off as a company entering legacy mode. Microsoft reminds me of the RIAA, MPAA and the newspaper industry. They clearly feel the edge is blunted and their technology is dying. They are unable to adapt. As a result they are engaging in a strategy of sue and destroy.

Back to the blog post from the executive. One of the complaints is that Google purchased YouTube in 2006 and has made it difficult, if not impossible, for search engines to index the content. Apparently this is a progressive action.

I do believe that when you are as big as Google, you have a responsibility to allow openness of this nature. However, I’m rather disturbed by the complaint. Essentially, Microsoft is saying that if Google were to put in a robots.txt file on a website they own to block search engines from indexing content this should be illegal. Uhm, what?

A great many people have employed the use of robots.txt throughout the web’s history to prevent indexing of pages. Could Microsoft’s complaint set a precedent for companies complaining about the use of robots.txt to force the hands of web masters?

I’m just asking the question. Sometimes I wish Microsoft would just quit whining and get back to making great software like they used to. It seems more and more that will just not happen. When a big company out-innovates them or outsmarts them in business, their first reaction is to sue.

Reminds me of the RIAA, MPAA and the newspaper industry. Get back to solving hard problems, Microsoft. Stop wasting your time and money on lawsuits. Are you a software company or a whiny bitch?

Drobo Still Takes Forever to Rebuild?

I’m guessing from the amount of hits on the Drobo article from 2009 that people are still having problems with Drobos rebuilding the array in a decent amount of time.

Ever since I got a DS4600 using standard RAID-5 I’ve been quite happy. Rebuild times on a 6TB volume are about 2.5 hours. Note: the volume is only about 1/3rd full, but it’s still way more data than what was on the Drobo in 2009.

Since that incident I strongly reconsider anything that implements something in a closed, proprietary fashion to replace a standard.

Just sayin’.

If you have one of the newer Drobo units and still have problems with the array rebuilding in an acceptable amount of time, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about it.

A brand new NO CARRIER

For those of you who follow my adventures here, but not necessarily my adventures over there, you should be aware that we’ve posted NO CARRIER Episode #11.  This episode is very special to my heart because it’s the first show we did in our new studio (Whitey is still over Skype though).  I think the audio quality is MUCH better.  Of course, we’ll be tweaking as things move on, but the new studio and the new processes we’re using to lay down the audio sound damn fine if I do say so myself.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

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Industy buzzword that needs to die: the “experience”

RENTON, WA - MAY 4: (FILES)  Microsoft product...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

One of the industry buzzwords that needs to go to the grave is the user “experience.”

Don’t quote me here, but I recall this buzzword being developed by Microsoft as part of the marketing campaign behind Windows XP.  XP was supposed to be “experience” or “expert” or “Xtra stuPid marketing,” I’m not sure.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an XP hater.  But I’m definitely a hater of the term “experience.”

The user interface is just that, an interface.  The term “experience” has its roots in the passive voice.  Somewhere in there you’ll find that the user “experience” for computing generally sucks.  It’s just a nicer way of saying “our user interface sucks, but it provides an experience.”

Whatever.  Drop it.  Look, other computing companies are just as guilty on this one (I’m looking at you RIM and Apple), but the fact is – everything great on the Internet is ruined by salespeople and marketers, period.

This is just one example of many.

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Count the messages on your Exchange 2007 environment

Are you curious about the hard stats of messages running around your organization?

Try this one in powershell on your hub transport server:

get-messagetrackinglog -start “mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm:ss” -end “mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm:ss” -eventid “send” -resultsize 9999999 | measure-object

This will pull stats for messages that were “sent”.  To pull the number of messages received, change the “eventid” parameter to “receive.”

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Fixing Mangled Contact Labels on iPhone

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

A coworker sent this along.  I’ve had this issue on a few contacts and didn’t really have time to delve into it.

Name removed to protect the innocent and good intentions.  Be very careful with this and make sure you have a backup of all data that you plan to manipulate.

FWIW …

After serially using every calendar/address book interface under the sun and transitioning to Snow Leopard with Exchange syncing, I ended up with a bunch of munged Address Book extension labels in my iPhone Contacts like:

item1.X-ABLabel:_$!<EX-AssistantPhone>!$_

The extra long labels forces the text to be tiny, and rarely displays even then to say whether this is the work/home number.

If you encounter this problem and you’re a Mac user with a Unix background, I’m sure you can think of a dozen ways to fix this … else see some rudimentary Address Book/iTunes/command line steps below to handle large numbers of Contacts at once.

Caveat emptor.

The munged contacts had labels like:

item1.X-ABLabel:_$!<EX-AssistantPhone>!$_
item1.X-ABLabel:_$!<EX-BusinessFax>!$_
item1.X-ABLabel:_$!<EX-BusinessHomePage>!$_
item1.X-ABLabel:_$!<EX-BusinessPhone>!$_
item1.X-ABLabel:_$!<EX-EmailAddress1>!$_
item1.X-ABLabel:_$!<EX-Home>!$_
item1.X-ABLabel:_$!<EX-HomePhone>!$_
item1.X-ABLabel:_$!<EX-MobilePhone>!$_
item1.X-ABLabel:_$!<Other>!$_

… the bracketing parts are the problem. I can live with “HomePhone” versus “Home Phone”. YMMV.

Correcting this involves a few steps and a tiny bit of command line stuff:

– Attach your iPhone to your computer. Let it sync. Leave iTunes open.

– Open Address Book, select all your contacts, then File->Export to your Desktop, call it “backup.vcf” — don’t touch this file — if something goes wrong you’ll restore this.

– Do a second export of all the contacts to another file “munged.vcf”, or some name equally meaningful to you.

– Open a Terminal window, and cd to your Desktop (“cd ~/Desktop”). Just for paranoia’s sake, type “more *.vcf” and use the space bar to step through the files, making sure they contain all your contacts. Type “ls *.vcf” to confirm the files are the same size. Yeah — sheer paranoia, but who wants to reenter all their contacts? 🙁

– In the previously opened Terminal window paste this command and press return:

cat munged.vcf | sed -e 's/EX-//' | sed -e 's/_$!<//' | sed -e 's/>!$_//' > fixed.vcf

– in the Terminal window type “more fixed.vcf” — confirm the ABLabel fields are corrected before going onto the next step. If the fixed.vcf file doesn’t look right, stop and consult a local Unix person. You did something wrong or your problem wasn’t the one I had. Bail out or get help.

– Go back to Address Book, select all the contacts (if not still selected), then Edit-> Delete Cards. Delete all your contacts. Paranoia now seems appropriate.

– Go back to the iTunes window. Select the iPhone in the Devices list on the left (if not selected), then select the Info tab at the top of the main window and scroll to the very bottom to the Advanced items, select Contacts under “Replace information on this iPhone:”. Click Apply and let the phone sync. Check the Contacts on the iPhone to see they are gone.

– Go back to the Address Book window and File->Import, selecting (you guessed it) “fixed.vcf” from your Desktop. Check the reloaded vcards/Contacts.

– Go back to the iTunes window, and again select the option to Replace the Contacts info, Apply, and let the iPhone sync.

– Try the Contacts on the iPhone, and the labels should be corrected. Delete all the ancillary files on your Desktop.

– Avoid whatever odd combination of things you did that caused the problem in the first place. 😉

In case you want to mess with any other fields/changes, vcard format is described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VCard.

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