Red Bull Gives You zzzzz.....
Sat, Jul 12 2008 0:06

Whilst sitting in Houston's airport terminal waiting to catch the flight to Los Angeles then home, with "Mr SBS Australia" Robbie Upcroft sitting by me, I looked over and saw this lady...

 

I guess the Red Bull isn't working - perhaps a little too much vodka in it?!?

 

by calvert | with no comments
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Official Launch Dates for SBS2008 & EBS2008
Tue, Jul 8 2008 3:16

I'm at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, Texas.

In this morning's keynote with Michael Risse the announcement was made regarding the release dates for SBS2008 and EBS2008.

Get ready for November 12 (November 13 in Australia) - that's when the 2 hottest products for 2008 are officially hitting the streets.

As more information comes available, particularly regarding readiness training etc I'll post it. In the meantime, get onto the beta - there's still time.

by calvert | with no comments
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A new Microsoft Server?
Tue, Jul 1 2008 17:39

Just signing up for some of the "community groups" at the MS Australian Partner conference in early August.

In the signup process we need to give a little information about ourselves - fairly normal stuff. Once of the questions made me stop short though:

A server in your pocket?

by calvert | with no comments
The PAL is dead...long live the PAL
Tue, Jul 1 2008 1:08

Today, June 30, marks the official end of my tenure as the SBSC PAL for Australia, and it's been quite a year.

I'm not going to go into huge detail because, well, quite frankly I'm sure you've got more important things to read but for those in the know this has been the first year the SBSC PAL position has existed. It's been a bit like a very young child learning to walk - we've been a bit wobbly, there have been a few times we've fallen over (but no tears!) but we've certainly learned plenty and won't be looking back & returning to crawling!

In a nutshell, the SBSC PAL is a community liaison position - it's an opportunity for someone passionate about helping to grow the SBSC community to be the conduit between the SBSCs and Microsoft at both a regional and corporate level. I accepted the position last year not really knowing what was expected of me, nor what I could expect of Microsoft. I think most of the other PALs from around the world felt the same way too. For the record, it's a non-paying position. We got a ticket to the MS Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver last year but that's really it.

We have invested our own time, time away from our busy businesses and lives, to get together on conference calls with Microsoft to not only get information from them on what the SBSC program is doing moving forward but also to give them feedback - what can Microsoft do better for the SBSCs, what are the SBSCs looking for, how can we work better together etc etc. My last call was from the very noisy Qantas Club at Sydney airport where I must have looked quite odd with my hands covering my ears so I could hear the call and occasionally unmuting my mobile phone to nearly yell my comments into the phone!

Microsoft Australia has seen a few different bodies in the local SBSC liaison position - Lorna Farrar (went to Seattle), Wendy Smith (maternity leave) and now Robbie Upcroft - who realises he's entered "Hotel California" as far as the community goes. He might try to check out every once in a while (actually he doesn't really try) but he can never really leave. Robbie has returned to Australia following a 2 year stint in the UK working with Microsoft and has certainly hit the road running as far as SBS and the SBSC program goes. He is a tremendous champion of the SME reseller community and welcomes honest, no bull feedback and gives us honest, no bull answers to our questions. Great to have you back Robbie.

And so it is now that I hand the SBSC PAL reigns over to our new PAL - Hilton Travis. Hilton is just as passionate about the community as Robbie or I (perhaps more?) but has his own unique delivery style - kind of like a Mack truck hitting a chicken :) Hilton is going to be a great SBSC PAL and I wish him all the very best for the year ahead. I'm sure he'll make many waves and will certainly get into Microsoft's ear about what can be done to improve the SBSC program overall -he'll also deliver back to the community, and I dare say much better than I can too.

With 2 "no bull" characters driving the pointy end of the SBSC program here in Australia, we can all expect to see some amazing things moving forward, provided Microsoft Corp listen to what's being said, pay attention and take action.

But it takes more than just me, or Robbie, or even Hilton to make things happen. As a community we need to raise our collective voices so that we'll be properly heard. Get in touch with Robbie or Hilton either directly or via your local SBS group to make sure you can get your message out. But don't let this be a one way communication - listen to what Microsoft come back with, try to understand its position and appreciate the fact that it takes a lot to move such a large business. In my personal experience with many Microsofties, they do care, they do listen, they do deliver our feedback into the machine, it can just take a long time for things to come out and during this time it might look like nothing's happening. Don't give up on them though. (BTW I do NOT own Microsoft shares!!).

So all the best Hilton - I'll see you in a few days at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston and I'm sure you'll make a very memorable contribution to the SBSC program.

by calvert | 3 comment(s)
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Small Business Server 2008 World Wide Community Survey
Wed, May 28 2008 10:57

Passing on an email from Kevin Beares ... Microsoft community leader extraordinaire

The Windows Small Business Server 2008 WW Community Survey is live

This is the third year we have published an SBS WW Community Survey to the SBS Community. 

We have learned an amazing amount of information from the people who have taken the time to tell us what they thought. Some things we kind of knew already, but other things were not as clear before we had received the feedback.

Because of the previous surveys, we have made some adjustments in our community engagement. To name a few; we really worked on putting more focus on the Official SBS Blog. Our Sustaining Engineering team runs mini betas with our MVPs before KB's and Bug Fixes are released via Windows Update. We try to get more involvement in our techbetas from our User Groups. The list does go on.

To the survey, the SBS Product Team would like to hear from the Windows SBS Community again. This survey is completely anonymous. In fact, some of you may have to sign out from Live in order to take the survey. So, if you get a PAGE NOT FOUND error message, please log out of Live and click on the link to the survey again.

We want to know how valuable your experience is with the community resources and information that is available to you today as a member of the Windows SBS Community. We also want to know what you think could be done to improve your Windows SBS Community Experience. Please take a couple of minutes to provide us your candid feedback via this survey and let us know what you think.

 

SBS WW Community Survey 2008

 

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

 

Kevin Beares


Community Lead – WSSG

 

Going to meet with Trend Micro next week
Thu, May 8 2008 12:17

This is a copy of an email I sent to the Adelaide SBS User Group a few minutes ago and consider this worthwhile posting to the wider world.

 

"I’ve got a meeting with Trend Micro next week with one of the top people in the company who’s travelling out from the USA to meet with me and a few others to discuss Trend and the IT community moving forward. This will not be a technical discussion – it’s going to be more strategic.

 

So, I’d like some feedback to take with me to the meeting. Those of you currently using Trend products, can you please provide me with some feedback (offlist if you think it’s sensitive) about your working relationship with Trend. Some things to consider are:

 

·         Are Trend an important partner for your business and your customers?

·         How easy do you find it to get answers to questions you have for them?

·         Comments on the Trend web site – the good, bad and ugly

·         Do you use the partner portal and do you have comments on its usability, information etc

·         Anything else of relevance – remember this is not a technical discussion so it can’t be along the lines of “I’ve got this issue with CSM at a site where.....”

 

For those of you not using Trend products I guess it would be interesting to know why not and who you do work with – why you use other products and what are the great points about these products/companies that have got you using them.

 

I’m not a Trend evangelist by any means – I’m simply looking for feedback. We use Trend products (I make no secret of that) and we have our reasons for this as a company. Personally I’ve no issue with anyone not using Trend product but am seeking great feedback to take to Trend which will make working with them, and protecting the networks we maintain, better for the future.

 

My meeting is next Friday (May 16) so if you can please get me any feedback by midday Thursday next week that’d be great. I’m happy to keep your comments confidential too if you want that."

 

So please let me know what you'd like Trend to hear. I can be reached at dean[cut this bit out] at calvert DOT net DOT au

 

by calvert | with no comments
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SBS2008 is coming...
Sat, Apr 19 2008 2:16

It's my last day in Seattle having been here for over a week to attend MVP Summit 2008. Whilst here we've learned a LOT more about SBS2008, Essential Business Server and of course how little sleep we can survive on!

Just stumbled across this this morning...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UrYAycRKW0

Now I'm not going to comment on its origin...but I'm happy for the link to be forwarded around in order to build momentum around the coming release of these great products.

Pass it on. And perhaps if you've got a bit of time up your sleeve you can through your own SBS2008 related video together to build up the excitement before release later this year :)

by calvert | with no comments
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There's a whole world outside the USA...
Wed, Sep 19 2007 1:34

<Rant mode on>

Microsoft - why can you not realise there is a whole world outside of the United States when it comes to setting up and MAINTAINING operating systems?

I have lost count of the number of times I've setup a system, telling it to use English (Australia) only to find that it's switched back to English (United States). Even during the operating system setup process when I specify I want English (Australia) and go so far as to remove the USA references I manage to find it's "infected" my system once again.

Not only that but upon installing IE7 the first page I get hit with asks me about changing my search provider (not getting into that one right now) and also asks if I want to set myself up for English (United States) once again. Plus that option is the one that's automatically selected for me so if I'm not paying close attention I might just end up on the opposite side of the world!

Please please please - realise that when I choose my own country I really want to stay there. I'm Australian and darn proud of it, plus I'm sure this affects other country selections as well so I figure I'm not alone in this. I want to speak Australian English, not American (which if you ask a Brit is not real English at all!!)

Also I'd like to be able to specify regional settings in group policy so I can roll out my country of choice to the rest of the computers on the network, so they too don't get "infected" with English (United States).

<Rant mode off>

Hey - don't get me wrong. I quite like visiting the USA - I've been there some 9 times in the last 2 years, but I live and work in Australia, as do the servers I setup and maintain. I don't want to have to keep reminding these systems of that fact.

Am I the only one frustrated with this??

SBS Technical Training now in Canberra
Fri, Sep 14 2007 13:27

Nick's just blogged this:

http://blogs.msdn.com/nickmayhew/archive/2007/09/14/sbs-partner-training-now-with-a-date-in-canberra.aspx

This follows on from my last post about the training for SBSers. If you're in Canberra please take advantage of this offer.

It's a simple matter of economics that if Microsoft can see the numbers in Canberra for these events then they'll continue to offer them there. If attendance is routinely low (and this is really for any place an event is run) then they won't be offered there in the future.

So - support yourself and your local community by attending these events and reap the rewards.

Microsoft SBS technical training for Australia
Tue, Sep 4 2007 14:58

I've received an email from Microsoft with the following information in it regarding the next round of technical training sessions coming up. If you're working with Small Business Server then make sure you register for these events being held through September.

This technical training focuses on the Small Business Server 2003 Release 2 and will be delivered in two sessions, with each session focusing on a different aspect of SBS Server 2003 R2. The sessions will run for approximately three (3) hours with a lunch break in between the sessions. The session’s outlines are:

 Session 1 - Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 – Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2003 SP2 Features

 This session introduces the new features on SBS 2003 R2 in regards to Exchange 2003 SP2 and Outlook 2003 SP2. After completing this course, you will be able to:

·         Describe the new flexible client licensing in SBS 2003 R2. ·         Identify ways to increase mobile security and efficiency through new Windows Mobile 5.0 policies and Direct Push technology. ·         Provide increased message hygiene by using the Open SPF standard as well as an improved Intelligent Message Filter. ·         Show how to allow for more storage with an increased mailbox size limit of 75GB.Session 2 - Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 – Windows SharePoint Services V2.0\V3.0 Features 

This session will introduce WSS v2.0, however it will be mainly focused on WSS V3.0. Students will learn the advantages of using Windows SharePoint services in their SBS 2003 R2 environment. After completing this course, you will be able to:

 ·           Describe the benefits of using SharePoint as an information sharing tool.·           Show the advantages of using WSS V3.0 in their environment.·           Preparing for and upgrading to WSS V3.0.·           Integrate WSS V3.0 into Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 environment. ·           Utilizing advanced WSS V3.0 features to enhance the current environment.

Register now at https://www.local.microsoft.com.au/australia/events/register/home.aspx?levent=400723&linvitation

Spread the word with your workmates, associates and anyone else you come across. I expect all Small Business Specialists to be there too Big Smile

by calvert | with no comments
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Calling all network manager type people
Fri, Aug 31 2007 19:36

Put this onto your radar:

http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/essentials/default.mspx

Had a meeting with some bodies here at the MS Australian partner conference just a while ago, in particular the lovely Frederique Dennison (Product Marketing Manager, Secfurity and Management) where we were discussing network management tools and processes.

Microsoft is certainly ramping things up for the SME end of town and if you work in this space then you need to start getting familiar with System Center Essentials (SCE) before the guy up the road does. It's going to change the way networks are maintained moving forward - making things easier, more visible, more pro-active rather than reactive (aka waiting for the phone to ring).

You can download a VHD of SCE to play with so you're not installing it into your production environment to begin with, and being a virtual machine you could even play with it whilst flying home from the conference Geeked

Hint: SCE is part of the wave hitting a network near you next year (http://msmvps.com/blogs/calvert/archive/2007/08/31/aussies-add-this-to-your-rss-feed.aspx), so get your board waxed and ready ahead of time.

 

Aussies - add this to your RSS feed
Fri, Aug 31 2007 11:35

Sitting in the key note this morning at the MS Australia partner conference.

Nick Mayhew just announced this URL to keep an eye on (or subscribe to with RSS): http://blogs.msdn.com/ridethe2008wave/

 

 

by calvert | with no comments
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I thought I should crow about this one...
Thu, Aug 30 2007 13:35

I'm at the Microsoft Australian partner conference, being held on Hamilton Island. There are 633 Microsoft partners here and around 140-150 Microsoft staff, together with 23 exhibitors including Trend, Kaseya, Wacom, ProCurve etc.

Anyway, Friday night is the big gala dinner where the partner awards are given out. I'm proud to say we're a finalist for the Partner of the Year award for the Network Infrastructure category.

We're up against 2 giants - Commander & Southern Cross. Just being a finalist is something special but winning will be even sweeter.

Anyway, just in case you don't believe me, check out Nick Mayhew's blog post - http://blogs.msdn.com/nickmayhew/archive/2007/08/21/award-finalists-announced.aspx (scroll down to the bottom 25% in the list).

Note one key name missing from this list - Axxis! Mathew Dickerson is most certainly here dressed up with Axxis branded clothes and golf buggy, as you'd expect. I forgot to bring my camera to show you but then he really doesn't need any more publicity :)

If we win, expect another post and a rather sore head. If we don't win I'll still be very happy with being a finalist. Chalk one up for the SMB focussed partner.

SBSC Get Together Today
Thu, Aug 30 2007 12:34

I'm at the Microsoft Australian Partner Conference, being held on Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday Islands, just off the mid-north Queensland coast. Weather is not too bad - lots of cloud but we're getting bursts of sunlight which keep us awake (together with copious loads of coffee).

There's a meeting of the SBSCs at the conference this afternoon in room 312 of the Reef View Hotel at 3:45 today. Pip Marlow (SMSP Director) and Tracey Fellows (MS Australia Managing Director) will both be there.

If you're here at the conference, and are a Small Business Specialist, make sure you come along to find out what's happening with the SBSC program in Australia and to ask any questions you've got.

by calvert | with no comments
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Eric Ligman just posted on the SBSC PALs too...
Wed, Aug 1 2007 0:53

see http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2007/07/31/4144618.aspx for Eric's post which also gives contact details for the PALs around the world.

My mailbox is protected by Exchange Defender too so take care if sending me any mail.

BTW - Ben Walton is the New Zealand PAL but his contact details aren't on the page. If you're from NZ and trying to contact Ben ping me and I'll pass your message onto him in the meantime.

by calvert | with no comments
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Small Business Specialist Community Partner Area Lead
Tue, Jul 31 2007 23:54

So there's been a lot of noise around the place lately about the SBSC PALs that have been "appointed" by Microsoft. There's not yet been an official announcement yet - I believe this will be coming around September. I figured it was time I came clean and 'fessed up that I'm the Australian SBSC PAL for 2007/2008.

What does this mean? What is an SBSC PAL? What does this mean to you? - All good questions.

There has already been a fair bit of explaination of the SBSC PALs by other PALs around the world so rather than regurgitate all the great work they've done you can read their view of things on their blogs. See:

Vijay Riyait blog: http://www.iqubed.biz/blog
Mark Crall: http://sbsc.techcareteam.com/

Elisabeth Vanderverlt: http://elisabethcanadaiamcp.spaces.live.com/

There are more blog sites for the other PALs - I'll need to update my list as I get them together.

You can also listen to this Vladcast I did on July 30: http://www.vladville.com/2007/07/vladcast-episode-9-pal-program-with-vijay-riyat-and-dean-calvert.html.

Essentially I don't see my role in the IT community changing radically. I will continue to work hard to improve the overall IT community as best as I can (with what available time I have) but I guess now I can have a bit louder voice into Microsoft about what we all want to see done to improve things for SBSCs and ultimately for our clients.

For the Australian SBSCs out there, I want to hear from you about what you would like to see changed to make it easier for you to serve your clients. Be realistic here - if I go back to Microsoft telling them that the SBSCs collectively had said that giving them a million dollars each is going to make things truly amazing I think we'll lose some credibility!

I communicate regularly with the other SBSC PALs around the world (we're using Groove at the moment - very cool stuff) so we can certainly get some momentum going around the world that could see great change.

SBSCs - it's time for us to raise our collective voices and be heard. Let me know what you want and we'll see what can be done.

by calvert | with no comments
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Products coming to end of support life
Tue, Jul 31 2007 23:42

Got an email from John, my MS partner account manager. He was forwarding on a newsletter called the "Microsoft Support Lifecycle Customer Informational Update".

Some relevant (SBS-ised) inclusions are:

SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3a — Support Ended July 10, 2007, Custom Support available
On July 10, 2007, SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3a (SP3a) transitioned out of its supported lifecycle. Custom Support will be available and additional details are available from your Technical Account Manager or Account Representative.

SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 0 — Support Ended July 10, 2007
SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 0 (SP0) transitioned out of support on July 10, 2007. Microsoft recommends customers upgrade to Service Pack 1. Please note that Custom Support is not available for this Service Pack.

Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1 — Support Ends January 8, 2008
Support for Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) will end on January 8, 2008.  Customers currently on Service Pack 1 should consider migrating to Service Pack 2.

There are tables included in the newsletter with plenty of products listed showing when mainstream and extended support finish. At the very least you should take note of when key applications being used are being "expired" - don't want to be caught short.

Note the following URLs:

Microsoft Support Lifecycle Site:      http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle   Frequently Asked Questions:   http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifepolicy Service Pack Information:   http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifesupsps

If you want to subscribe to this newsletter directly go to https://profile.microsoft.com/RegSysProfileCenter/subscriptionwizard.aspx?wizid=98973176-f0b1-4f60-957d-5936c3b933c0&lcid=1033

 (sorry about the mixed fonts - it was the cut & paste!!)

by calvert | with no comments
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LegacyDN to the rescue
Sat, May 12 2007 12:55

Continuing with the swing migration from the last post, all continued to go exceptionally well with the process. We kicked off an Exchange backup remotly prior to heading to site so there was less waiting around. (I use RDP to manage servers just about everyday and I am still extremely impressed with how it has made my job so much easier).

The data transfer went a treat, in fact it was all going very well until it came time to mount the Exchange databases. The databases and log files were all in the right location but when mounting the databases we got error "ID No: c1041724" which I'd seen before.

Due to not seeing this error everyday I had to rummage through my notes and do some searching online, plus referred to Jeff's swing migration notes. The usual checks against file system permissions, database integrity etc didn't yield any change.

It was getting late and the client wanted to go home so I said I would keep working on this remotely for them to get it going (there's that wonderful RDP again).

One of the things about this site is the DNS domain name is VERY long such that the NETBIOS name has been truncated. Add to this the fact the original IT support person/people hadn't done things the SBS way and we have a rather interesting environment to move from. I figured there were some naming issues at play here and looked into using LegacyDN to resolve things.

Fortunately I'd brought their old server home with me just in case (Dell 400SC with 512Mb RAM and 2 IDE hard drives!) and so fired it up to use LegacyDN to check the Exchange organisation name details. Cross checking this against the new server showed there was a mismatch.

You should refer to http://support.microsoft.com/?id=324606 for details on how to use LegacyDN and the tool itself can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=5ef7786b-a699-4aad-b104-bf9de3f473e5&displaylang=en.

Once it's downloaded you need to run it from a command prompt as "legacydn /forcewrite" which runs it in edit mode. Be aware that this is a powerful tool and using it incorrectly can render your Exchange environment completely unusable - you've been warned.

I updated the organisation name and saved the settings....now for the big test.

I went to mount the private information store database and got another error message. Dang, what was it now? Ahhh yes - I'd not checked the box to say "this database can be overwritten by a restore". Checked the box and tried mounting again - this time it was successful. Same for the public information store.

We've had migrations where the database just mounted seamlessly but there are the odd times where we have to resort to additional steps. Next week we swing from SBS2000 to SBS2003 so I'm sure there will be some other issues to work with but in the case it was simply the organisation name that required massaging.

So there are several lessons here.

Firstly - the server should have been setup using the wizards in the first place. Get with the program folks - don't go playing with building servers if you don't know what you're doing!

Secondly - in future I'm going to run LegacyDN as a matter of course to at least document the organisation name settings. If nothing else this saves me from having to take away the old server for reference.

Thirdly - make sure you set the right perception for the client when performing work. I always make sure I let the client know there can be issues and problems that have to be worked out with anything involving server changes. Don't over promise or set false expectations.

Fourth - make sure you adjust the mailbox quotas to what they were before (or as agreed with the client) before you start the SMTP service. I missed doing this and they had some mail bounce before I worked out what was happening Surprise

Fifth - always, always, always make sure when making a server changeover that you have a way of connecting to the Internet for searching, IMing for help, downloading additional tools etc. SBS can be the gateway for the whole network and if it's not fully operational such that Internet access if not available then you can get very stuck. I fortunately had my 3G card with me so my notebook had a connection, plus I tend to carry a heap of resources with me but it's worth noting this anyway.


Perhaps it's time I starting writing a Tips & Tricks book?

Is your SWING not being TRUSTED?
Thu, May 10 2007 17:07

We all know that SBS cannot have a trust relationship with another domain - that's a given. But SBS sometimes doesn't seem to know this.

We encountered this just now in performing a swing migration for a client.

The FSMO roles had been seized over and all was looking fine, afterall we've done plenty of swing migrations.

Anyway upon kicking off the SBS setup process we got an error message telling us we had a trust relationship that this was a show stopper.

We double checked the FSMO role assignments, ensured there were no phantom domain controllers or other funny things lurking around. A restart didn't yield any improvement either so it was off to search the 'net for an answer (since Jeff seemed to be sleeping too).

I found a newsgroup thread where someone else had received a similar message and had resorted to calling Microsoft PSS. I figured it was worth a try giving his posted solution a go.

So if you encounter this error here's what you do:

Click Start/Run and enter %temp% then hit OK. This opens up the temporary files folder for the account. In there you'll most likely find a folder called something like "SIT17477.tmp". In there is a file called SETUP.SDB.

Edit this file in notepad and look for the line that under the [GUID to Friendly Name Mapping] section that ends with "TrustCheck".

Delete this line and save the file.

If you have any other SITXXXXX temp folders remove them to be safe then re-run the SBS setup process.

When we did this the process ran fine.

I'm not sure what caused this to be borked up - I guess if someone knows they'll post a comment back but for now we'll keep swinging with this server and get another happy customer.

BTW - please don't try this "hack" to get around the 'no domain trust' block in SBS. This is only for the setup process and there's no telling what mess you'll be in if you try to do things outside the way SBS is supposed to operate.

by calvert | 1 comment(s)
Filed under:
Feel like a good laugh?
Sat, Mar 3 2007 8:54

Got this link through earlier today from a mate. You just have to take a look...

 http://bigpicture.typepad.com/writing/2007/01/try_not_to_laug.html

If you're have a tough day then you need to look at this video. If you're have a great day then watch this video to feel even better.

Laughter is the best medicine.

Enjoy

by calvert | 2 comment(s)
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