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Hello all --
I've been busy so March didn't see a newsletter, apologies -- the seminar recordings and dealing with setting up our e-commerce site chewed up waaay too much time, and I'm not 100 percent done yet. But there's lots to report this month as well as some really great information that some of you shared with me, so let's get right to it!
The next cluster of seminars are running this month so I hope you'll join us in one if you can. The Ottawa class is the only one running at our special $799 rate and it's next Wednesday/Thursday so don't miss it. The following week I'm in Minneapolis and then the week after it's a trip to the Left Coast for Seattle and Pasadena. Sign up at www.minasi.com/seminar-register.htm for a very packed two days on preparing for and running Windows 2000 and .NET Servers!
I know that training bucks are tighter and so this year we put together the whole 2002 seminar schedule all at once so that you can see at a glance where we'll be throughout the rest of 2002.
Those are all the publics we'll be running this year, so if you'd like to get to one of my seminars then please plan to join us for a session.
Our two-day Windows 2000 seminars have been a lot of fun and the attendees have been great. Built atop the Third Edition, we add coverage of things even more up-to-date than the Third; I've already added coverage of Windows .NET Server enhancements, a big section on troubleshooting group policies and some major enhancements to the Active Directory replication info, stuff too new to have made it into the Third -- and there's more coming. Visit www.minasi.com/pubsems.htm to see specific session dates and locations, seminar outline, and how to sign up.
Jennifer moved on to other things and I was very fortunate to be able to quickly find a terrific replacement -- Tammy Cicogna. Tammy is a graduate of ECPI, a technical school based locally with branches around the country. (I have a warm spot for them in my heart because they use my books.) Tammy is at Assistant@Minasi.com and she's the person to talk to about classes, talks, or (see below) the audio recordings.
I did three talks for the Microsoft TechNet folks in March to some large fun crowds (thanks to all who attended!) but got a real surprise when Chris of README.DOC bookstore (http://www.readmedoc.com) handed me a copy of Mastering Windows 2000 Server, saying, "look what we brought." At first, I didn't see what the big deal was... until I noticed the words "Fourth Edition" on the cover. (That's something to note -- the Second, Third, and Fourth editions all have very similar-looking covers, predominantly blue with a globe on the front. The only difference is the "Fourth Edition" on the cover of the Fourth.)
Chris somehow got ahold of the things before even I've seen them, bringing a pallet of them to the TechNet shows. So guess it's okay for me to talk about the Fourth now. Clearly they're printed; now they've got to get to the stores and the stores have to put them on the shelf. That's usually a two-three week process so my guess is that they'll be easy to find by about the third week of April. Surprisingly Amazon and Bookpool do not have it on their list of books that they're selling -- they usually pre-sell a few months early -- so at the moment README.DOC is the only place that I can refer you to if you want to order it right now. (My guess is that you'll be able to find it at Amazon and Bookpool by the middle of April.)
Why would you buy it? Because my co-author Christa Anderson and I got a chance to go back and add some sections that we've been meaning to get to since 2000's release. Many of those things are, not surprisingly, security-related, leading to completely new sections on certificates and PKI, SECEDIT and security templates, auditing, and IPSec -- all technologies that, I'm chagrined to say, we didn't cover at all in previous editions. The DNS coverage is expanded again with more information on building a secure DNS infrastructure and a better-integrated set of step-by-step examples, as well as a whole new section on using DNS to definitely troubleshoot "no domain controller found" logon failures. There's also a completely new section on the Index Service, and expanded coverage of how to secure your IIS server. But that's really just the start; we expanded a lot of other items, added lots of new tips and tricks and of course there's a CD included with the book that contains the whole book in PDF form. (No, Sybex hasn't yet figured out how best to sell a CD-only version yet. And yes, the CD is still "locked" in the sense that you've got to have the CD in the drive to read it, you can't print from it or copy text from it to the clipboard. I know that some of you find that annoying and I sincerely apologize to those who feel that way. I really hope that we can find some kind of more flexible technology for delivering e-books, but for now none really exist.) The book lists at $60 (oops, I meant $59.99) and README.DOC sells it for just under $44 including shipping.
I have a more complete writeup at http://www.minasi.com/2k4thed.htm if you're interested. I hope you'll consider buying this edition, I believe that it is the most complete handbook and tutorial available on Windows 2000 Server.
Since the last newsletter, we've re-recorded the Windows 2000 Seminar, chopped it up into ten-minute segments, edited the segments, organized them into ten 80-minute CDs, recorded introductions, added intro music, printed the accompanying PowerPoint books, purchased CD wallets to hold the CDs, and shipped the CD masters off to be reproduced. (Whew.) We've also annotated every single PowerPoint slide with CD and track number so that you can open up the PowerPoint book at any place, see a notation like "V3T2" and know that the accompanying audio to that slide can be found on the third CD on audio track 2. There's also a cross-reference index in every PowerPoint book that lets you choose a topic and see which tracks cover it. (Again, whew!)
I expect the CDs to arrive around mid-April. After I've checked to see that they're correct then I will e-mail everyone who's expressed interest in CDs. If you'd like to be on that list -- if you've already signed up then there's no need to do so again! -- then please visit www.minasi.com/audiosales. (There is also a downloadable sample of the lectures with a PDF of the accompanying PowerPoints.) We'll have an on-line purchase page up by then. I also want to get a cassette edition out but I'm afraid I've had to back-burner that for the moment. Once Tammy's up to speed then I think it'll be easy for her to create the cassettes. Thanks so much for your patience; I believe this will be worth the wait!
One of the things that have kept me so busy has been re-coding big sections of the Web site to incorporate ODBC and OLEDB scripts to maintain and access the subscriber database as well as putting databases in place to accept credit cards on our site securely. As of 20 March 2002 we became free of our old credit card acceptance vendor and now we're using VeriSign's Payflow Pro. It was a bit of a bear to set up but once installed all I had to do was some VBScript calls to let my credit card acceptance pages pass along the authorization requests. My buddy Don Jones at Braincore (http://www.braincore.net) did a lot of the shopping cart code, drop Braincore a line if you're looking for some great help on building a wide variety of scripted solutions.
Anyway, in the process of converting my database access scripts over to Microsoft's ActiveX Data Objects (ADO) tools, I was pleasantly surprised to see the vastly improved speed of database lookups. Retrieving lost passwords or logging onto the Newsletter archives could take as long as 37 seconds before, but now they're accomplished in three or four seconds max.
The past month hasn't all been struggling with e-commerce, ODBC, OLEDB and ADO. I've also learned quite a bit about DVD burner drives. Yes, you read that right -- DVD burners. After buying (and hating) a few of them, I've settled on the Pioneer DVR-A03. Found mine for just under $400 from http://www.videoguys.com. Apparently Pioneer's stopped making the A03 and is about to release an improved version called (not surprisingly) the A04 that's faster, and what I've heard on the Net leads me to believe that it'll also be a good buy.
In any case, installing the A03 on my Dell GX240 workstation caused me no end of troubles until I figured out that I was doing something fundamentally stupid. I hope to help you avoid the time that I wasted with this little story.
A few months back, I bought the GX240 with two hard disks and a DVD-ROM drive. The two hard disks shared a single EIDE channel and the DVD-ROM sat on the secondary EIDE channel.
I soon realized that I needed more capacity so I picked up a 120 GB EIDE drive. I didn't want to have to mess with jumpers on the DVD-ROM drive so I decided to just let the new 120 GB drive be the slave to the DVD-ROM's master. I configured the 120 GB drive as slave and installed it. (I know, I know... the faster device should always be the master. But I was using it only as a drive to throw unimportant data onto and, as I said, I didn't want to have to deal with looking up the jumper settings for the DVD-ROM.)
The new drive generally worked, but it would flake out and "disappear" from My Computer now and then. A reboot would fix it but it didn't exactly inspire confidence. Then I got the A03 and wanted to install it on the GX240, but I already had four EIDE devices. Of course the A03 can act as a DVD-ROM, so I thought I'd replace the existing DVD-ROM drive with the Pioneer. I also figured that if I took that opportunity to move the 120 GB disk over to master and make the Pioneer the slave then I'd solve my intermittent problem with the 120 GB drive.
It didn't work out that way.
I popped the case on the GX240 (no mean feat with Dell's new cases -- you need three hands, so I'm training my right foot to be prehensile), pulled out the 120 GB drive, re-jumpered it to master, made the Pioneer the slave and installed 'em both. The result? Things got worse.
I found that the new Pioneer DVD burner was as flaky as the 120 GB disk had always been, and the 120 GB disk was no better. It worked sometimes but not always, and a reboot would solve the problem for a while. As I've said, I was working long days and didn't really feel that I had the time to really examine the problem (which was a mistake -- call this an example of stupidity rather than ignorance), so in frustration I just decided to re-install the DVD-ROM drive. I figured that as long as I'd already made the 120 GB drive the master that I should leave it that way, so why not just re-jumper the DVD-ROM to "slave" before re-installing it?
Unfortunately, the DVD-ROM drive was one of those rare ones that didn't have the jumper settings documented on a label. So I got on the Web to find out how to set it...
And found that its CURRENT settings was "cable select." Not master or slave... cable select.
"Golly," I said to myself. [Not the actual word used.] "I think I know what's been going wrong all this time." (Then I kicked myself a few dozen times.) So I re-jumpered the 120 GB drive and the Pioneer to cable select, re-installed them... and they have both worked flawlessly since.
Now, in my defense let me say that I never even imagined that I'd purchased a computer that used cable select. I hadn't seen a computer use cable select in YEARS, and even then I'd never seen many of them. But according to Dell's Web site, Dell's a big-time fan of cable select. So for those of you who are first stumbling across CS, let me finish this with a bit of background.
If you've ever installed an EIDE device then you know how they mostly go: there are typically two ribbon cables in your system, each with three connectors. One of those connectors goes on the motherboard, and the other two allow you to attach devices -- only two to a cable or "EIDE channel," and again most systems nowadays have two channels. Two devices per channel times two channels in your PC means that most PCs can support four EIDE devices. On each channel, you must help the system tell the first device on that channel from the second device and you normally do it by designating one of those the "master" device and the other the "slave" device. In that case, it doesn't matter which of the ribbon connectors you attach the master or slave to -- the jumper setting on the device makes the master/slave call.
Back around 1996 (if I recall right) I saw a new, third, setting on a device besides "master" or "slave" -- "cable select." Under a cable select system, you had a pair of non-standard EIDE adapters on your motherboard, wired just a bit differently than the two standard EIDE interfaces on most motherboards. These non-standard EIDE adapters also requires a non-standard ribbon cable. The idea was that you'd plug a cable select-friendly ribbon cable into a cable select-friendly motherboard, then configure your EIDE devices for cable select rather than master or slave. If both devices are both jumpered to be the same, then, how does your system know who's the master and who's the slave? By their position on the cable. The device attached to the connector on the end of the cable (the end opposite the place where it plugs into the motherboard) is the master, the other device on the other connector is the slave.
How, you might ask, can you use this to save yourself some time? How can you just look at a system and know whether it's expecting master/slave jumpering or cable select? Well, there I have some bad news: there isn't any easy way. Once upon a time there was a notch on the cable select cable, but my Dell doesn't have anything that visibly fingers it as a cable select-type cable. So I guess there are two ways to find out.
First, you could read the documentation on the computer. No, I'm not being facetious or sarcastic. Most computer documentation doesn't say squat about this, so in all honesty it won't help. But it seems as if the small number of systems that use cable select do tend to mention that they use cable select.
Second, you could do what I used to do (and got out of the habit of doing when CS seemed to fade away): look at the configuration of already-working devices in the system. Had I taken a moment to pull out a drive in the GX240 and look up its jumpers, I'd have immediately seen that that drive used CS and that I should expect that for the rest of the system.
Before I close, let me underscore a few points. First, the question of whether your EIDE channel uses cable select or not is determined by that host adapter for that channel -- it's hard-wired. (And remember that in most cases the EIDE host adapter is integrated into the motherboard.) Second, cable select requires a differently-wired ribbon cable than standard master/slave configurations. Third, cable select designates a master drive by its placement on the connector rather than by a jumper setting. And, finally, knowing which kind of system you are working with is vitally important, because mixing master/slave with cable select does not result in a non-functioning drive -- just a flaky one.
Last issue's article on wireless networking attracted a few interesting reader suggestions.
Michael Horowitz points out that you don't need a wireless access point (WAP) to do wireless peer to peer networking. Instead, you can shift the wireless NICs to "ad hoc" mode and they can connect directly. I've used this to set up laptop-to-laptop connections for a quick networked game, and it works great. Michael says that you can connect three computers this way and I've read that up to 253 PCs can connect using ad hoc connections. Of course, an ad hoc network would be limited in its geographic size.
Gary Masters, the guy who's shepherded many of my books through the publishing process, came across this link:
Basically it talks about how easy it is to hitch-hike on someone else's wireless network and describes visits to several major urban centers, revealing how easy it was to find wireless networks that anyone can jump onto. It's worth a read.
My favorite letter on the subject, however, came from a reader -- I've lost his name, sorry -- about a hack that boosts the output power of your WAP from 5 milliwatts to 100 mw. It's on several locations on the Web, but I read on http://www.seattlewireless.net/index.cgi/Wap11Hack that you can, with some brands of WAPs, run a few programs to tell the chip to shout a bit louder. I should clarify that this may not be legal where you live. (I live far enough out in the country that you'd have to be on my property to be affected by a pumped-up WAP.)
My XP systems irritate me with their pop-up balloons -- "no, XP, I don't want to take a tour..." so I was delighted to hear from Doug Toombs that there's a way to get rid of them. According to Doug, you create a value called EnableBalloonTips in the following key and give it a REG_DWORD of 0:
Reader Rand W. Hirt offers more info on building network-bootable floppies:
Hi Mark: Just a short response about your comments about a MS-DOS boot disk. I found an article that actually tells you how to do this and it ACTUALLY WORKS!! I refer you to "18 Steps to a TCP/IP Boot Disk" taken from the March 2001 issue of Windows 2000 magazine by Steve Ryles, and was reprinted in TechNet (the CD edition) as well. A colleague and I took some time to do the steps one by one, and it worked. The client files are on any NT 4.0 Sever CD. Try it-- it works.
Thanks Rand! As a contributor to the magazine, I should have noticed that...
A frequent correspondent, Rick Johnson, wrote me to ask what to do about a directory that had appeared on his FTP site. It seems that someone had compromised his site and created a folder that not only had no name, but that couldn't be deleted from the GUI. I told Rick that I was sorry, but that I didn't know what was going on. Rick was kind enough to write me back with the solution. Once I saw how the bad guys did it, I realized that they are just using an old "loophole" in the directory structure.
The trick to creating a directory that's impossible to delete from the GUI is in understanding something that happened when Microsoft extended file names from 8.3 to their current longer format. For purposes of compatibility, directories can store two different names for any given file or directory -- the long name and a shortened "8.3" format name. What the criminals had done was to plant a directory on Rick's FTP site that had a short 8.3 name, but no long name. (I'm not quite sure how they do it, so don't ask me.) Apparently the GUI only shows long names, and is confused by files or directories with a "long name" that's a space.
The trick to erasing and deleting the directories is to use two things: first, the command line, and, second, the 8.3 name. For those who need a reminder, you delete a directory's contents with the command del <directoryname>\* or erase <directoryname>\*. You remove a directory altogether with the rd command, "rd <directoryname>." But where do you get the short names from? With the "dir /x" command.
This turned out to be useful for me, as I'd been forced to temporarily create an FTP server on a workstation and to grant write permissions to the anonymous user. I didn't have it running for long but sure enough some dirtbag found it and created a directory that I couldn't delete from the GUI. Actually, he'd created a directory inside a directory inside a directory inside a directory inside a directory, and gave them all oddball names that the GUI couldn't handle. So I started out by doing a dir /x at the top level to get the 8.3 name, and then used the cd command to change directories to the next level, where I found a directory that I used dir /x to discover ITS 8.3 name, did a cd to move inside it, and so on until I got to the bottom level, where he'd stored a WinRAR-ed version of some pirated game. (I was tempted to infect it with a virus and leave the FTP site up, but that would be using my power for Evil and not for Good...) I just deleted the files in the lowest level, then backed up a directory (cd ..) and removed the directory, cleaned out that directory and backed up and so on until the whole thing was gone.
I hope you'll join me for a seminar but if you can't attend a class then please consider attending one of these conferences:
A reliably good show, and one gaining in popularity, as it seems that every one that I attend is larger than the one before. It's got great sessions and is back in Orlando. Info at www.techmentorevents.com. Last time, they had a very cool feature in that you could take any Microsoft cert test for half price, so on the off-chance that you didn't see any sessions that you wanted to sit in on (an unlikely event!), then you could take a test. They even ran tests until about 9 at night.
I'm doing "Securing Your Network -- A Dozen Tips," "Troubleshooting Group Policies," and "Active Directory Replication" as well as a general session. If you can make it then I surely hope to see you there!
If you're in the Tidewater area then I'll be doing a talk on the future of Windows at Old Dominion University (the Princess Anne center, I believe) on the evening of May 1st. Admission is free as far as I know; contact Susan Lennon at SusanLennonMCT@Hotmail.com.
The same folks that put on that Windows 2000/Exchange 2000 Connections conference in Scottsdale are coming to Palm Springs in early May of this year. I get to open the conference with a keynote and I'm also doing some breakouts; my "AD classic" talk (an overview of Active Directory with Whistler updates), an explanation of what Windows XP and 2002 will do for (or to) you, and my "DNS Fundamentals" talk.
Find out more at www.winconnections.com.
The searchwin2k.com folks (who run a great portal offering tons of Windows 2000 information as well as jumping-off points to other great resources) have put together an interesting conference in The Windy City early this November, but world events have prompted them to move it to May. (Better time for good weather in Chicago anyway.) John Enck, one of my former co-workers at Windows NT (now Windows And .NET) magazine, will be offering his unique perspectives, as will Laura DiDio -- Laura's been an NT industry watcher for as long as I can remember. They'll also have geek talks, including my look ahead at .NET Server (and what will be by then a look BEHIND to XP) as well as an AD/migration talk.
Interestingly enough, the conference is free. Free, that is, if you meet their criteria and no, I don't know what those criteria are -- but it only takes a minute or two to apply. Give it a shot and perhaps I'll see you at the Chicago Hilton!
Find out more at http://www.windowsdecisions2002.com/.
Every geek's favorite conference emcee, George Spalding, is in charge of this year's Support Services Conference and Expo in San Diego. I'm keynoting with my talk Why Bad Software Happens To Good People. I'm also doing my Future of Windows talk as well as teaming up with George for "Computer Networking 101," a sort of cross between improv and education. Top it off with Tech Support Jeopardy and it's gonna be a great show. Heck, they even have GOOD speakers like Todd Lammle, Roberta Bragg, Gene Ball, Rae Ann Bruno, Sandra Simpson lots of other folks who know a lot more about running a help desk than I do. More info at http://www.key3media.com/support-services/.
I'm keeping busy doing Windows 2000/.NET Server seminars and writing, but I've still got time to visit your firm. In just two days, I'll make your current NT techies into 2000/2002 techies. To join the large educational, pharmaceutical, agricultural, aerospace, banking, government, transportation, and other organizations that I've assisted, either take a peek at the course outline at www.minasi.com/w2koutln.htm, mail Tammy Cicogna at Assistant@Minasi.com, or call her at (757) 426-1431 (between 1 and 5 Eastern time, weekdays, please).
Have a quiet and safe month. Please share this newsletter; I'd like very much to expand this newsletter into a useful source of NT/2000/.NET Server/XP information. Please forward it to any associates who might find it helpful, and accept my thanks. We are now at over seventeen thousand subscribers and I hope to use this to get information to every single Mastering XP, NT and 2000 Server reader. Thanks for letting me visit with you, and take care -- I think the economy's starting to turn around, so polish up those resumes! Many, many thanks to the readers who have mailed me to offer suggestions, errata, and those kind reviews. As always, I'm at http://www.minasi.com/gethelp.
To subscribe, visit http://www.minasi.com/nwsreg.asp. To change e-mail, format, etc., link to http://www.minasi.com/edit-newsletter-record.htm. To unsubscribe, link to http://www.minasi.com/unsubs.asp. Visit the Archives at http://www.minasi.com/archive.htm. Please do NOT reply to this mail; for comments, please link to http://www.minasi.com/gethelp.
All contents copyright 2002 Mark Minasi. You are encouraged to quote this material, SO LONG as you include this entire document; thanks.