Using MSOL’s Exchange Hosted with Outlook 2003/2007

 MSOL Exchange Hosted  Comments Off on Using MSOL’s Exchange Hosted with Outlook 2003/2007
Mar 142010

MSOL Hosted ExchangeThis article is covering my thoughts on the usability of Outlook using MSOL’s Exchange Hosted, I will cover the administration in a later post. If I was going to throw a rating out there it’d be a solid 8/10, with a perfect 10 being a local connection to a healthy Exchange server. Keep in mind as I review this service, I’m looking at it from the point of view of a user in a small business who is migrating from an Exchange server.


  • Your data can’t get any safer. It’s locked away in a Microsoft data center, not on some tapes that you’re supposed to bring home, but in reality you just leave them on the table by the server. OK, you take them home and stick them on the table by the door so you won’t forget them.  Either way, Microsoft is being safer with your data than you likely are. Or at least I hope so.
  • Universal accessibility. Your Exchange server is now outside your company’s little walled domain. No VPN required, users get the same email experience at home as they have at work, and it all stays in sync.  This means calendars, free/busy time, email, public folders that are hosted by MSOL, OWA and ActiveSync connectivity for mobile devices, everyone gets easy full access to it. This is huge, and outweighs many cons for us.
  • Easy to set up. You install the Microsoft Online Sign In tool, give it your login and password, then press two simple buttons to set up the machine. A user who is not technically adept can be sent a link to the download with simple instructions, and they will not have a problem getting it up and running. Well, on second thought, no guarantee on the prior statement.

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What to do with Windows 7 libraries?

 How-To, Windows 7  Comments Off on What to do with Windows 7 libraries?
Mar 112010

Windows 7 LibraryThey’re one of the neatest features of Windows 7.  They’re in your face, all clickable, and …useful?  What do you DO with them? Is it just a fancy name for My Documents and My Music? How do I make Windows 7 Libraries do something new? I was right there with you when I started using Windows 7.

First, however… They are not new!

Believe it or not, the core functionality of a library (known as a virtual folder) first entered the Windows environment with Vista, where they were known as Search Folders. They operated a little differently, and were less in your face.  Couple that with the fact that next to no one used Vista, and you have all you need to know about why they feel all fresh and new.

Libraries are virtual folders that don’t actually exist in the folder tree on the hard disk. Their job is to run a constant search, index the results, and display them to you inside the virtual folder. So… what do you do with them?

Give your C:\ some room to breathe!

The simplest and best use for libraries is to allow you to store data  on another drive without having to look elsewhere to find it later. I’ll use the Music library as an example.
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MSOL Exchange Hosted Migration

 MSOL Exchange Hosted, W2K Migration  Comments Off on MSOL Exchange Hosted Migration
Mar 102010

MSOL Hosted ExchangeSo, What is the process like, you ask?  It’s a lot to describe, feel free to ask for more details, I’m skipping over a lot to keep this post from becoming a novel. I also have a little amnesia from the night. Not everything went as smoothly as we’d hoped, and it was a little too crazy to take notes.

The first thing I want to make clear is that if Microsoft offers $500 to hire the firm that helps you migrate your data, take note: This is a coupon. (This was not made clear to us by Microsoft, which was no fault of our consultants’) The actual cost of the consultants that you hire to migrate your data varies greatly based on the level of involvement you require of them.  In our case, we have a pretty technically adept IT dept, and they still quoted us $2000, even after the $500 discount.  Not an unreasonable fee when you look at the services they were offering and the amount of time they were going to spend. But our proposal to our boss was written based on the quote that Microsoft gave us, that had us believing $500 was covering the complete cost of the migration. After a little negotiation, we were able to get the quote down to under a grand, and had it based on hours instead of a flat fee.

So, what did these people do?  The biggest part is they help you plan. We had a great plan from the start, but they make sure you cover all of your bases.
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“Detroit Wants to Save Itself”

 Just BS  Comments Off on “Detroit Wants to Save Itself”
Mar 092010
Detroit blight

Carlos Osorio / AP

I’ve been reading alot about this recent push to clear miles of decaying residential property in the city of Detroit.  I wonder how something like this goes down?  How do you forcefully relocate so many families across such a large area?  Does the city give them new houses?  Do they have to accept, or can they demand cash value and leave altogether? What would that cash value be? The value of their current home (surrounded by blight with a value next to zero), or the value of the home the city is offering?

Something like this, as necessary as it appears to be, has the potential for social disaster written all over it. If you run across my little chunk of internet, and would like to voice your opinion, please do so. I’m very curious to hear the opinions of people who might have to deal with the consequences of the decision.


MSOL Exchange Hosted

 MSOL Exchange Hosted, W2K Migration  Comments Off on MSOL Exchange Hosted
Mar 072010

MSOL Hosted ExchangeAbout six months ago…

With the end of W2K Server looming, and failing hardware, it was obvious that we needed a plan to replace our aging Windows Server 2000/Exchange 2003 mail server.

Our original thought was to build a new mail server.  We spent a few weeks looking into how to properly recover an Exchange server from disaster. While my supervisor and myself are not lacking in the day-to-day administration of an Exchange server, we recognized that what it takes to learn to run an Exchange server when things go terribly wrong was well out of the available amount of time we had. (I had a favorite chapter from a book we read on the topic. It was titled: “How to lose your job with Exchange“) With that in mind, costs were calculated. The backups, the testing, the dev environment, the need to keep replaceable hardware on hand, the power requirements, and of course, the cost of downtime every time there was a problem at our building.  I work for a company who only has about 50 employees, but half of those employees work in offices outside of the office that would house the exchange server, and many of them are on the other side of the globe.  When our internet service went down, so did email.  When the power went out, so did the email.  When we rebooted for Windows Updates, down went the email.
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Windows 2000 Server, we were never friends.

 W2K Migration  Comments Off on Windows 2000 Server, we were never friends.
Mar 052010

Windows 2000 Server You were the ancient beige computer that took 10-15 minutes to reboot, and moved so slowly that I could hear your little 20GB hard drive crying out for help.  In your defense, I never knew you in your prime. Before you had 10 years of security updates shoved down your throat.  Coming 7/13/2010, all that will come to an end, and you can finally rest.

I work for a small business with 50 employees and 15 servers.  On the surface, this seems ridiculous. Part of this is because of downsizing:  8 years ago, these 15 servers were modern, sleek, and serving twice as many employees.  Part of this is because we offer many services to our employees that many small businesses do not: Two in house exchange servers, VPN, webserver, forums, redundant domain controllers, etc.  But the largest part of this is because of a mentality that many businesses are stuck in. It worked yesterday, it worked today, why should I spend the money to upgrade it?

There’s some perfectly rational arguments to this.
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Windows Media Player, we were such good friends.

 How-To  Comments Off on Windows Media Player, we were such good friends.
Mar 042010

NOT emptyI spent days organizing my music, fixing tags, and you faithfully kept track of my changes.  Where did I overstep my bounds? Was it asking for volume leveling? I think it was.

As the picture shows, WMP12 believed my library was empty, and no amount of option changing, folder adding, or applying of changes would change that.  I’d like to thank Mike Woelmer at srtsolutions for pointing me to the quick fix.  …if you don’t mind rebuilding the whole damn library, it works like a charm!

In these steps, you will delete all library information. It won’t delete any real data that WMP 12 won’t be able to rebuild with a little time.

  1. Shutdown Windows Media Player.
  2. Stop the media sharing service.  Press the Windows Key+R to launch the Run box. Type Services.msc and hit enter to launch the Services panel.
  3. Scroll down and right-click on the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service and select Stop.
  4. Navigate to %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Media Player.
  5. Delete the file(s) named CurrentDatabase_*.wmdb and the file(s) named LocalMLS_*.wmdb.
  6. Back in the Services panel, right click and choose start for Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. Close the Services panel.
  7. Open WMP. It should start building your library again.

…is 102GB alot?


Ok, so I think I saw the light.

 Just BS  Comments Off on Ok, so I think I saw the light.
Mar 032010

The nerd inside of me wanted to code my whole site by hand (learning all about databases, PHP, and authenticating users at the same time), and also write posts and generally be a useful person on my site.  That’s a lot of damn work to fit into my schedule.  I’ve decided the better way to learn is to get a ready to go, right out of the box solution that would give me a clean, useful, and customizable interface. From there, I hope to tweak the code, learn about it and make it mine.

So, welcome!  Feel free to read a little about me and what I’m doing, register, and make a comment! Just don’t hold it against me if this place looks completely different tomorrow.  I’m still kicking the tires. :)

Mar 032010

First Post!

I was going to delete this first post, but I like it.  It marks the official opening of to the outside world. So welcome! I hope to have something useful up faster than you can push Obama’s healthcare plan through Congress.

For what it’s worth, thank you WordPress for the simple, fast, and robust installation. Thank you VERY much Suffusion for this powerful theme that is incredibly flexible, and stylish.

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