Archive for Administrators

Backing Up RDS Instances (Microsoft SQL Server)

sql-bak-file

Just recently we had to decommission a RDS instance where we had “upsized” an Access database into a Microsoft SQL Server hosted on Amazon’s cloud.

This decommissioning was merely a cost-saving step to eliminate resources that were used transitionally on one of our Access-application-to-full-web-app conversion projects. However, we did want to preserve a copy of the database that we could reference locally on development machines in the future.

Overall, this procedure was surprisingly complicated, although once the right components were configured in Amazon’s ecosystem, the process went smoothly.

The Amazon document Importing and Exporting SQL Server Databases was our basic guide for this process.

 

 

 

Time Service on SBS 2011

Just used this today on a Windows Small Business Server 2011 (Server 2008 R2 in disguise!).

Thank you for the post!

http://defaultreasoning.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/synchronize-time-with-external-ntp-server-on-windows-server-2008-r2/

The Digital Road Warrior

vancouver-img_3083-600

Today marks the second day in a row I’ve worked from the same place — the YCG Northwestern Headquarters. Above you can see the lovely scene that greeted us as we cruised into Vancouver, B.C. this last weekend for an extended series of face-to-face client meetings.

Being on the road constantly has lead us here at Your Computer Genius to perfect the Digital Road Warrior’s arsenal, or rather, to make the most of the available technology, while striving to keep costs down, equipment fresh, and the backpack light.

The current mobile setup I use is as follows:

This worked great all the way to Canada and back!

OpenSSH

We’ve long been a proponent of OpenSSH.

You can grab a client/server version for Windows from sourceforge:
http://sshwindows.sourceforge.net/

However, here’s an interesting note about the SFTP server part of the package:

Creating Home Directories for you[r] Users
In the passwd file, you will notice that the user’s home directory is set as /home/username, with username being the name of the account. In the default install, the /home directory is set to the default profile directory for all users. This is usually c:\documents and settings.
If you want to change this location you will need to edit the passwd file. The passwd file is in plain text and can be edited in Notepad or any text editor. The last two entries for each user are safe to edit by hand. The second to last entry (/home/username) can be replaced with any other directory to act as that user’s home directory. It’s worth noting that when you run SSH on windows, you are actually running SSH in a scaled down version of cygwin, which is a Unix emulator for Windows. So, if you will be placing the user somewhere outside the default directory for their Windows profile, you will need to use the cygdrive notation.
To access any folder on any drive letter, add /cygdrive/DRIVELETTER/ at the beginning of the folder path. As an example, to access the winnt\system32 directory on the *c:* drive you would use the path:
*/cygdrive/c/winnt/system32*

Emphasis added.

http://www.digitalmediaminute.com/article/1487/setting-up-a-sftp-server-on-windows

Sender Verification

Email as a technology and public service is a mess.

It was engineered in a ‘closed system’ — ‘bad guys’ did not exist.

The need to scale to billions of users worldwide was not properly anticipated in the design.

Today we are left with a patchwork of underlying vulnerabilities and inconsistencies, made better or worse by higher-layer duct-tape fixes that sometimes even conflict with each other.

One of the technologies currently in use is Sender Verification. In short, when a server verification-enabled email server receives an email message, it queries the originating server, asking it if such a user exists. If one does, it approves the message; if one does not, it denies the message, and may go on to take further steps, such as blacklisting or greylisting the sender or the sender’s email server.

For this setup to work, it requires careful configuration, especially of the DNS records, for all the servers involved.

—~∞~—

We just solved a bizarre error related to this setup. In this scenario, users were getting their outbound emails blocked with a “550-No Such User Here 550 Sender verify failed” error. The emails were failing the sender verification, but only for one particular domain.

After some time and some troubleshooting, we discovered it was the same error that Mick West wrote about. It was a cpanel server, and the destination server was ostensibly hosted on the same server as the originating server. In actual fact, while the website, or A-Record (in global internet DNS) did in fact point to that server, the MX-Record pointed elsewhere. However, the internal DNS did not reflect this.

So, while email sent from any other server would check the global DNS and find the right mail exchange server to verify the email address with, any email sent through the same server (for example, by the users in question who were experiencing and reporting this error) would draw the incorrect MX record from the local (to that server) DNS. When the server would then try to verify the user, (actually against itself, istaed of the real mail server in this case) that verification would fail.

We changed the local DNS copy of the MX record, and the problems disappeared.

—~∞~—

Your Computer Genius is available to configure your hosting solution, establish sender verification for your domain, troubleshoot your DNS, setup your corporation or institution on a Google-Hosted service, and resolve all your computer woes.

Finally NAS Manufacturers Step Up to the Plate

 

Linksys NAS200

Linksys NAS200

 

 

Presenting the Linksys NAS200. Finally, NAS manufacturers are starting to take notice of what their business and soho end users want: cheap RAIDed network storage

 

Unfortunately, there is still one component largely ignored by manufactures: Wireless-N support. Many models (excepting this one) are now supporting gigabit ethernet, which is a terrific step in the right direction. But for true standalone, plug-and-play integration, end users should be able to eschew the wires, and take advantage of the three fold speed increase (over 10/100 ethernet) that MIMO 802.11n offers. 

 

Another component useful for the small business or home user would be integrated power protection. Not everyone uses UPS systems for their auxiliary data storage, though they should. Few non-enterprise end users have power conditioning units or proper power protection at all. However, few network storage vendors provide built-in power management.

 

A simple low-capacity, self-charging battery and a simple safe shutdown procedure would be right at home in the heart of every NAS, be it soho or enterprise bound.

 

 

(The link above saves you $24 on the Linksys NAS200, valid 2/12/08-2/22/08).

Vista

Submitted by Your Computer Genius on Wed, 2007/01/24 – 1:41pm.

 

My goal this year: to not install Windows Vista AT ALL.

I would like to declare Microsoft’s stranglehold on the desktop over, or at least weakening.

I am recommending MacBook Pro‘s to my clients, even ones in Active Directory domains, with out-of-the-box compatibility provided by Remote Desktop Connection and compatibility in the extreme by Boot Camp.

Samba 4 may, in time, mature into a first-class replacement for Active Directory (pdf).

Step-by-step Solution for Solving the WIDCOMM Bluetooth No License Error for USB

 

(1) Unplug the USB Bluetooth adapter.

(2) Uninstall any driver software you may have installed.

(3) Reboot.

(4) Install the WIDCOMM BTW Software(I have version 1.2.4.0, but whatever came on your cd should work)

(5) When it asks you to plug in the Bluetooth device and click OK, AND DO NOT PLUG IT IN!!! Click Cancel instead.

(6) AFTER the installation is finished, plug in the USB Bluetooth and let windows install the driver.

(7) Right-click on “My Computer,” go to “Manage.”(8) Left-click on “Device Manager.” (in the left pane)(9) Right-click on the “Generic Bluetooth Radio” & click “Update Driver”

Windows will ask you to allow it to connect to the internet & search for a driver.

(10) Select “No, not this time” & click next

(11) Select “Install from a list (Advanced)”

(12) Select “Don’t search. I will choose the driver”

(13) Make sure the “Show compatible hardware” box is checked

(14) Select the WIDCOMM drivers here(mine says “CSR USB Bluetooth Device)

(15) Click Next.

The WIDCOMM drivers should load up without a hitch and you should be operational.

(If you are missing the WIDCOMM drivers altogether, please leave a comment — we can probably locate a copy for you.)