IT Trenches


August 18, 2008  7:24 PM

Did you see this? – Online tools/tutorials – RingOfSaturn

Troy Tate Profile: Troy Tate

Ok, I admit it. I’m a network tool junkie. I constantly look for neat tools to perform tasks in the easiest manner possible and give me reliable information. This website from RingofSaturn.com is definitely one of the cooler online tool websites. Check out the browser sniffer tool if you are curious about what information your browser gives up while surfing the web. You might be surprised!

Check out the TCP/IP tutorial. It’s a quick easy read that you can share with those you are trying to explain how a network works.

Checkout this website. I guarantee that if networks are in your blood, you will find something of interest here.

Thanks for your time. Let’s be good network citizens together & practice safe networking!

August 18, 2008  7:11 PM

Did you see this? – Boot CD tutorial

Troy Tate Profile: Troy Tate

How often have you needed to recover a Windows system or use some type of boot disk? It’s not easy to create a bootdisk in the current versions of Windows (XP or Vista). There’s still a need for this capability. One source of how-to information can be found on the BootCD.US website. I recommend that you check out this fine resource and test this capability before you are in need and don’t have a lot of time to wade through a lot of how-to documentation.

Thanks for your time. Let’s be good network citizens together & practice safe networking!


August 18, 2008  7:04 PM

Moving a datacenter – one weekend – DONE!

Troy Tate Profile: Troy Tate

Well, another busy month here. Last month we moved more than 2000 users from 6 different e-mail systems to a single e-mail platform. This month we moved a factory facility about 5 miles. The original facility was too small for our needs and we are also integrating a recent acquisition that was in a separate facility.

This event had been in the planning and implementation stages for months. The building had to be outfitted for occupancy and services had to be ready for use on day one.

Fortunately we had implemented a Cisco CallManager solution at the old facility and it was easy enough to move into the new facility. However, some challenges existed with that implementation. First of all, our original implementation was not a full CallManager implementation. It was a Survivable Remote System Telephony (SRST) implementation. The actual CallManager cluster for this site is located in southern California. This site is in northern California, several hundred miles away.

Another issue was that the site was experiencing growth due to the merged office. Our current gateway solution was not large enough to handle the additional handsets. We implemented a larger gateway with capacity to handle the current user population plus some additional growth.

I say “We” because we had a partner helping us with the implementation. This is not something we have in our staff skillset. Our partner helped us with the original implementation at the site. They provided outstanding support and were available to help with other network issues as they arose during the move and day one of business. I was able to breathe a sigh of relief with this partner onsite.

Our servers moved over without a glitch. Our structured cabling plant looks really nice (for the moment, I’m sure) . Our users enjoy the new facility. So, it’s a win-win!

My only real issue happened unfortunately on day one of business in the new facility. For some reason, both the primary and secondary network links went down. This was definitely not a good thing especially since the site used the remote CallManager to manage calls. During this period, the WAN link was unreliable and calls were dropped and phones reset. Another item that you should note is that there was another tenant moving into the building next door. My company and this other shared a telecom closet where all communication circuits entered the facilities. I have major concerns about cross-connects as well as the danger of miscommunication with the carriers about circuits being terminated or orders placed.

My WAN provider went right to work though and had the carriers investigating why both our primary (T1) link and backup (DSL) link went down. The circuits are provided by different carriers so they could work unrestricted on their issues while we waited for resolution. The T1 issue was due to some problem at the carrier central office (hmmmm…. likely story since I had a new neighbor moving in at the same time.) The DSL issue turned out to be some kind of problem with inside wiring.

Our circuits became stable later on day one and have been stable ever since. I’m really glad the event is over! Now we are planning for a new site implementation coming online in January and the facility has not even been built yet. The new facility is not even in the USA so this will be even more of a challenge.

Thanks for your time. Let’s be good network citizens together & practice safe networking!


August 14, 2008  2:58 AM

Managing risk & vulnerability

Troy Tate Profile: Troy Tate

Jotting some quick thoughts here after answering a user post. Thought I would place the same information here for all to see. This list is by no means complete and your thoughts are always welcome.

Some ways to measure risk include:

How valuable is the asset?
How much of a threat exists?
What is the impact if the system/service is exploited?
Is the vulnerability rated high/medium/low?
Can the risk be reduced?
How easily can it be reduced considering costs, technology, staffing & skills?
What is the probability of the vulnerability being exploited?

You are asking yourself:
What are you protecting?
What can happen to it? – How can it happen?
What does it mean to the business?
How can the risk be reduced?
How likely is it to happen given the existing conditions?

Risk assessment goal: identify & prioritize risks.
Risk management goal: manage risks to an acceptable level. This can be done by:

  • Mitigate: select controls; implement; monitor
  • Transfer: purchase insurance
  • Accept: do nothing
  • Avoid: discontinue activity

Thanks for your time. Let’s be good network citizens together & practice safe networking!


July 25, 2008  12:58 PM

I know who I am – Do you know my name?

Troy Tate Profile: Troy Tate

If you read my previous post then you know we recently went through a major e-mail system migration. Part of that e-mail migration included moving from various naming conventions (firstname@domain.com, firstname.lastname@domain.com, FirstInitialLastName@domain.com, etc.) to a single naming convention of firstname.lastname@domain.com. Of course this was a huge undertaking and also a political move. One thing I am sure of is that the users will never understand the discussions taking place behind the scenes and will continue to take place about names of other non-user specific mailboxes like a project engineering team or an application mailbox.

Another thing which struck me during this process is that we netizens are identified by our e-mail address in many places on the web. Have you ever looked to see how many places you are identified by your e-mail address? I had to take some time and go out and change my e-mail address wherever the old one was in use. That is not a easy task let me tell you! First of all I went through the mailing lists I subscribe to. I went to their websites and tried to find the area to change my profile’s e-mail address. There are some sites where I could never find this and/or could not change it. So, webmasters & publishers…. please make it easier for your subscribers to modify their e-mail address or credentials! There is this need for companies that may get purchased or change names. There is the need for the users who change names when getting married or divorced…. this should not be as difficult as I found it to be.

In the end, I’m not sure what I will be missing out on when we go back and clean out all of the non-standard names which we will likely do by the end of the year.

Thanks for your time. Let’s be good network citizens together & practice safe networking!


July 25, 2008  12:41 PM

2000 users – new mailboxes – one weekend – DONE!

Troy Tate Profile: Troy Tate

Well, we did it! We implemented new mailboxes on Microsoft Exchange 2007 for over 2000 users in one weekend. Of course it took lots of planning, testing and blood, sweat, tears during the process, but we are now on one e-mail platform where there were at least 5 before. We had more domains than we needed and now the company is on one domain. We had to plan and provide for inbound messages still to the old domains.

The implementation was not without a couple of minor glitches and learning how users use the application. One glitch was a mistyped IP address. This prevented e-mail flow for a short period of time, however that is not a huge issue since SMTP servers will continue to retry sending messages. Another issue that was encountered was administrative rights to “shared” mailboxes like customer service or supply buyers.  This has now been resolved and users are getting full use from the system.

We still have some work to be done on things like:

  • proactive system monitoring to detect issues before the users do;
  • alternatives to sending large attachments (our attachment limit is 15MB);
  • running Outlook Anywhere so a mobile user can attach to their mailbox without having to use VPN;
  • supporting mobile devices like smartphones (our focus is on Windows Mobile v6 and up);
  • user certificates using private PKI to allow for digital signatures and encryption.

So, as you see, work in IT never finishes… it just continues to grow as more services and systems are implemented and change happens. Please feel free to leave a comment if you would like more information about our implementation process and decisions we made along the way.

Thanks for your time. Let’s be good network citizens together & practice safe networking!


July 17, 2008  2:29 PM

Did you see this? – SharePoint Administration Toolkit (Office SharePoint Server)

Troy Tate Profile: Troy Tate

SharePoint Administration Toolkit (Office SharePoint Server)

This article provides information for farm administrators about Batch Site Manager and the updatealert operation for the Stsadm command-line tool, which are available in the April 2008 release of the administration toolkit for Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies.


July 17, 2008  2:10 PM

Did you see this? – Microsoft Security Compliance Management Accelerator toolkit

Troy Tate Profile: Troy Tate

Monitor the security compliance state of your IT environment for computers running Windows.

In today’s IT environment, the ability to comply with regulations and industry standards, such as the Sarbanes Oxley Act, is a source of deep concern for many organizations. In addition, organizations need to manage risks resulting from emerging threats and changing conditions within their IT infrastructures. As a result, organizations need sound methods that they can count on to understand the state of the security settings in their IT infrastructures, assess the compliance of a security baseline, and demonstrate that compliance requirements have been met.

To help organizations address these challenges, Microsoft has created the Security Compliance Management toolkit. The toolkit provides best practices from Microsoft about how to plan, deploy, and monitor a security baseline. In addition, the toolkit provides remediation recommendations to address security baseline issues. The toolkit also offers a proven method that your organization can use to effectively monitor the compliance state of recommended security baselines for Windows Vista®, Windows® XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), and Windows Server® 2003 SP2.


July 10, 2008  7:46 PM

Ten ways to realize your Internet connection is a little slow

Troy Tate Profile: Troy Tate

- Text on Web pages display as Morse Code.
- Graphics arrive via FedEx.
- You believe a heavier string might improve your throughput
- You post a message to your favorite Newsgroup and it displays a week later.
- Your credit card expires while ordering on-line.

- Playboy web site exhibits “Playmate of the year”…for 1994.
- You’re still in the middle of downloading that popular new game, “Pong”.
- Everyone you talk to on the ‘net phone’ sounds like Forrest Gump.
- You receive e-mails with postage due on them.

- You click the “Send” button, a little door opens on the side of your monitor and a pigeon flies out.


July 8, 2008  5:12 PM

Browser warnings – Danger Will Robinson! – or did it just cry “Wolf!”?

Troy Tate Profile: Troy Tate

I sometimes browse the internet using Firefox. I say sometimes because Internet Explorer is the standard browser at my company and Firefox is not supported by IT. Well, since I work in IT, sometimes you have to test things on behalf of users and also to see how certain sites are different depending on the client browser.

Well, I recently upgraded Firefox to v3. It does seem much better than v2 although some of my useful addins are now broken (when will YSlow get fixed for v3?). One of the new features of Firefox v3 is the ability to report to the user if the visited website is a known potential malware site. This is a good feature! It provides the user with some useful information and education about the dangers on the internet. However, how accurate is this feature? What if you are visiting a trusted website that you frequently visit and now get this message?

For your information, this is the message that you will see when you attempt to visit a site deemed as risky.

Reported Attack Site!

This web site at certification.xxxxxxx.org has been reported as an attack site and has been blocked based on your security preferences.

Attack sites try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system.

Some attack sites intentionally distribute harmful software, but many are compromised without the knowledge or permission of their owners.

I blanked out the actual website address above. However, those of you with a bit of detective in you are likely going to figure it out.

What is interesting about this particular warning message is that it is referring to a website that has security as a guiding principle. When you see this message in Firefox, you have three options presented:

  • Get me out of here!
  • Why was this site blocked?
  • Ignore this warning – in very tiny print at bottom of message.

I was curious as to why this site would be considered as a danger. I clicked on the Why was this site blocked? option. The report I received was interesting and as I mentioned earlier, could this be an example of someone crying “Wolf!”?

The report was as follows:

What is the current listing status for certification.xxxxxxx.org/?

Site is listed as suspicious – visiting this web site may harm your computer.

Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 1 time(s) over the past 90 days.

What happened when Google visited this site?

Of the 6 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 1 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 07/06/2008, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 07/06/2008.

Malicious software includes 1 scripting exploit(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 3 new processes on the target machine.

Malicious software is hosted on 3 domain(s), including lokriet.com, clrbbd.com, catdbw.mobi.

1 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including catdbw.mobi.

Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?

Over the past 90 days, certification.xxxxxxx.org/ did not appear to function as an intermediary for the infection of any sites.

Has this site hosted malware?

No, this site has not hosted malicious software over the past 90 days.

How did this happen?

In some cases, third parties can add malicious code to legitimate sites, which would cause us to show the warning message.

Next steps:

This is great educational stuff, but did it really happen to this particular website? I don’t know, but apparently Google does. With the report of just one incident, does it make this site really worth the notification? How many incidents should it take before a site is considered malicious and who determines what malicious is?

Just something else to mull over in your copious time as you go perusing websites in Firefox.

Thanks for your time. Let’s be good network citizens together & practice safe networking!


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