Monday, May 31, 2010

So by now I am ready to do Exchange 2010

Firstly, I cannot commend too highly the script that I found at Automated prerequisite installation Exchange Server 2010

This script, one you have a fully patched Windows Server 2008 R2 installation gives you a quick setup to add the necessary pre-requisites on the server to start the Exchange 2010.  If you already have the Update Rollup 3 for Exchange 2010 and the 64bit filter pack then copy these to c:\innervation on your server so that the downloads are not done again.

Run the script and you can quickly install everything you need before you hit the Exchange 2010 DVD.
If you read my blog then you will have already seen in my previous post that I have lost loads of time already on this project so was running out of time to do a clean Exchange 2010 and get back to ‘real’ work.
So having done the pre-reqs the install got going and seemed to run smoothly.  Immediately after install I hit the server with Update Rollup 3, but however on reboot of the new server, despite everything starting fine in the services arena, the console would not find the other servers in my network, although it could see various settings and my mailboxes.  Hmm.

I ran some quick diagnostics and got nowhere.  For now I just wanted to bail out.  So I decided to uninstall to preserve my sanity and start again another day.

Uninstall is interesting though – read this - Error when uninstalling Exchange 2010 you need to uninstall the Rollup first.

So this weekend, I am retiring hurt :-)

The delights of Exchange Server 2007 SP2 installation

Updated 1/6 13:40 to clarify a point made by email
I thought I’d document (albeit in not too much detail) the delights I discovered this weekend.

Being self-employed my network is a bit of test and dev environment – at times I am bleeding edge running beta code, at others a bit behind the curve.  The latter is true on my production Exchange infrastructure – but as email is so critical – that was OK.

But by now, although Exchange 2007 is working and on the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it theory” I had left well alone the upgrade to Exchange 2010 was overdue, and I thought I’d make some progress on it.  But…

First off, Exchange 2010 requires that you upgrade your environment to Exchange 2007 SP2 as a minimum for 2010 to install.  I’d not done that largely as to find a period of downtime where I will not impact my business email or my wife’s business’s co-located email setup has been tricky for some months due to the long term illnesses and now recent deaths of our fathers.  But now, having downloaded (again – just to be sure) the modest (!) 800MB+ service pack file I set to the task (along with the Update Rollup 4 that is the latest for Exchange 2007).

The installation went well, and the SP2 install also applies all the schema changes required for your network to support Exchange 2010 as well, so that would save on that server install.  Good.  I started with my HUBCAS server (I have a separate MBX server).

However as soon as I rebooted the server after the update things went a tad wrong.  Several services refused to start – Microsoft Exchange File Distribution, Service Host, Transport and Transport Log Search.  Active Directory Topology was experience lots of errors, and the whole thing stank.  It began to feel like my last problem (Exchange 2007 slow start up fixed); so I quickly checked out the servers and confirmed that no spurious IP addresses existed in DNS or on the Domain Controllers.

So, some further investigation was required.  As is my usual practice I archived and cleared the event logs, and rebooted the server.  This gives me a clean eventlog to check through, and also from a clean boot so I know that the event list I am looking at is directly the fault of the issue, and not clouded by other stuff (FWIW – for years I have also fully rebooted servers [if possible] before upgrades and archive/clear event logs then, so that a) I know the machine boots OK, b) the event logs don’t overflow or show me old rubbish).

So the errors were still piling up, the services were still not starting.  I was seeing events 2114 2604 1014 from the AD Topology, and found these 2 links:
These pages report that post Update Rollup 5 on Exchange 2007 the performing of the certificate revocation checks that the managed code performs during service boot can time out and cause services to fail to start.  That looked good as I do have some connectivity issues being over 6km from the BT exchange for my broadband, so went down that route.  I changed the HOSTS files as suggested for both the IPv4 and IPv6 address ( and ::1); but that had no impact.

So then I reverted the HOSTS changes and instead assigned specific IPv6 addresses to the servers and tried that – no good – again.

By this time (given that I clear logs and reboot between each test) I was starting to get more than a bit annoyed with all the time I was losing.  I headed over to instead to research some of the event id’s. Eventually… after searching for ages over various event id’s I came across this page:  Notes on 2114 error in MSExchangeDSAccess .  Joe Richard’s comment was something that intrigued me, so I hopped over to a DC and discovered that the my site’s IP range (and assignment to the site) in Active Directory Sites and Services was missing.  SHOCK HORROR. *Updated - however although all was working well recently, I've no idea (for now) when this disappeared; I'd really like to blame the SP2 AD upgrade :-).  If i find out, I'll add more

I quickly fixed this (and replicated around the network), but disappointingly the services did not play ball.  I restarted DNS everywhere, but no dice.  Ever the optimist (!), I took the decision to reboot the DC’s and then the exchange boxes to force everything through (I could not be bothered to stop/start services until it played.

Hallelujah.  The services all came up cleanly

So some 8 or 9 hours later I was finally on track to install an Exchange 2010 server…

Friday, May 28, 2010

#BP It's OK to smoke in petrol stations #FAIL

Some time ago I was returning home late at night, and pulled into the BP petrol station on the A17 at East Heckington. On walking in there was a clear cigarette fug in the shop. So much so I almost left in disgust without paying (and now wish I had).

So I complained to BP, and suggested they might want to sort things out. After a while they got back to me; but no - it wasn't their problem as it was a franchise operation - so they passed it on to the operator of the garage. I felt this missed the point.

Several weeks later I chase, and then chase again.

Today I am informed that the operator has left the franchise so it's nothing to do with BP any more. So it would appear that if it says BP on the front, and BP on the inside, it can actually turn out not to be BP's problem. Maybe that's how they plan to get out of the blame for the oil pollution problem they have right now.

For me, if it says BP, then it is BP. I don't care about franchises and operators. I use the name on the door as a measure for trust. BP (even ignoring the current Gulf of Mexico situation which is pretty difficult to do) is clearly not a trustworthy brand.
No more BP fuel for me.

PS later on I realised they also were charging VAT at 15% instead of the 17.5% they should have been charging since the beginning of the year. So that was reported to HMRC

PPS let's not forget, it's also illegal to smoke in the workplace AND dangerous to smoke in petrol stations

Friday, May 21, 2010

Strange but true - probabilities

@exitthelemming (Samuel West) posted an interesting question today, which took me back to early grammar school maths – and an answer I’ve wanted to publicly show off ever since!

His question was:
Q: My World Cup sticker album has spaces for 638 stickers. How many packets of 5 must I buy before it's more than 50% likely I get a swopsy?

So, on the face of it, many people might think that it would be a number approaching 319 (half the number of stickers), however this is not the case.

Before I show the answer though, there is an important caveat – the answer to this question assumes that the 638 stickers are evenly distributed in all the packets, and that the manufacturers have not pulled the usual trick of having a few rare stickers to bump up sales of the packets. So, the maths (and many thanks to Rob Williams – my superb maths teacher from Davenant Foundation Grammar School in the 70’s) is:

The probability of the first sticker that you have is 638/638 or 1. It has to be unique.

For the second sticker to be different it must be any 1 of the 637 remaining possibilities, so that is a probability of 637/638 or 99.8433% (to 4 decimal places).

Likewise for the third sticker to be unique – 636/638 or 99.6865% (to 4 dp again).

So you can carry on with this 635/638, 634/638…

So this gives us the probability of any sticker being different from all the preceding stickers.

So the probability of the first three stickers being unique is the product of all three probabilities – 1 times 637/638 times 636/638 (or 1 * 99.8433 * 99.6865) which is 99.5303%.

If you extrapolate these figures, then for any given number of stickers, you can calculate the probability that all of them are unique. Therefore, subtract this probability from 1 and you have the chance of there being 1 or more duplicates in your collection. The spreadsheet numbers are shown below. But more surprisingly the number of cards before a duplicate is more than 50% likely is 31. So if you are collecting world cup stickers, you have a 50% chance of a duplicate (assuming even distribution) when you buy the 7th packet.

Although the spreadsheet above was a new one for me, the one that Rob Williams taught us (although in those days it was pen, paper and slide rule!) shows that if you have 23 people in a room, then there is a greater than 50% chance that 2 of them share a birthday. So that means in any school (provided classes are randomly distributed by birthday) every other class should have 2 children sharing a birthday.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Look into my eyes!

Cat 5 (or 6 - they joined the family together), can be a right *&^%^ nuisance (she does like to bring in undamaged, live animals), but at the same time, she'll look you right in the eye.

This captures her, and her attitude perfectly.

I hope you like it

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why a Lab/Lib coalition might be better all round

25th May Blog Updated: to remove a description some thought unfair - and with benefit of hindsight it might have been

You know, I cannot help thinking the quicker Clegg gets into bed with Labour the better. He has been quite pious about doing what the people want, but negotiating in secret with one party whilst public discussing with the others is dishonourable, and inconsistent.

A Lab/Lib pact would be doomed as it will depend on even smaller minority parties to stay alive against a determined Conservative/DUP attack, and as such the English will pay to keep the Nationalists onside. (as John Reid has already stated)

In all the negotiations the LibDems seem to be far more fixated on sorting out electoral reform than sorting out the horrendous mess that is the current UK economy (another £10b down the drain yesterday to support the failing Euro).

At some time, the whole thing will fail (I’d say in the Autumn) – probably on some incredibly minor political point, and then the public will be able to express a view on the coalition of losers. Cameron will be able to present a “I told you so” view of
• political machinations unchanged from the last parliament with grubby behind closed doors dealing
• judging by the Venn diagram from the Telegraph here, a whole raft of policies that were voted for, but not enacted
• and undoubtedly either a raft of unpopular fiscal measures on which Cameron can say both a) I told you so, b) you did not explicitly vote for

Thank you and good morning!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Eulogy for my father

Last Friday was my father's funeral.  I spoke about him at the funeral, and a number of people of have asked me what I said.  I'd like loads of people to know what he was like.  So here it is:

"Dad and I spoke a bit over the years about this moment – we concluded that it was better this way round than him speaking about me – but he did grant me that it would’ve spared me the effort of writing and reading this! It doesn’t make it much easier, but he knew I had some ideas, and, as recently as our trip to the Somme only a few weeks ago, I promised not to be too rude or unfair :-).

The first thing I ever discussed with dad was an overall description of him – I put to him two choices I had in mind “Cantankerous old sod” or “Cantankerous old bugger”. After the briefest of discussion, and with a big grin on his face, Dad chose “Cantankerous Old Sod” as this runs off the tongue so much better.

But that does him a great disservice. The first words that I thought about once I started typing were Duty, Honour, Service, Loyalty. Having read things people have written about him, more descriptions come to the fore: morally strong, great principles, widely respected, good sense of humour (just as well), champion of justice, generous, a good friend to many (as we know from all the cards), a great character, dignity and courage.

These last two qualities, along with strength of character, were displayed to the full in his last months.

I’d add one more attribute - my godmother said this week– “he was always tolerant of others’ views” – she didn’t add, even hers :-)

So, what can I tell of dad? Over the years I filed away stories dad told, things he said in order to do him justice today. I don’t have long, so necessarily will not complete the task, but I hope a few things will paint a good picture.

Often when my sister and I complained about the hard life we were experiencing Dad would tell us of his childhood spud picking. He wanted to explain to us that life was much easier for us than it was for him: getting up in the dark and picking spuds until late evening spending hours bent over the fields – and all for nobbut 3 farthings. Many years later, his mother told us a similar tale of how he tried spud picking for a day, lasted 10 minutes and then came home. I rather suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Dad went to school at Duke of York’s Royal Military School in Dover. Known as Dukies, the boys led a near military life which, “I think”, made Dad. He had many memories, but I think one of his proudest was marching down the Champs Elysée in Paris for Liberation Day in 1950. On the same trip, he got to ride in an amphibious assault vehicle on the D-day beaches.

After school he went to Sandhurst and joined Ypres Company of New College – and I think this may have been the beginning of his lifelong interest in the battles of Northern France in World War I.

Dad told that at Sandhurst he had a knack for getting into trouble effortlessly:
Once there was a crush to get out of the class. Being at the back Dad decided to leave via the window. Unfortunately a passing CSM with (as Dad put it) nothing better to do spotted him. Apparently this was the equivalent of regicide and Dad got a huge rocket, he was told to return and leave properly, but to go back the way he came in. Obedient as ever he climbed back through the window, to be met by the lecturer, a Major. Diametrically opposed in his views to those of the CSM, he considered entering a room via a window “should be covered by the Ten Commandments”. Dad said the Major proceeded to demonstrate his considerable ability in both the English and bad language. The saving grace in all this for Dad was that whilst exercising their vocal chords neither man thought to take his name. He said it taught him one lesson of value throughout his life since. ALWAYS SIT NEAR THE EXIT!

Dad signed up for the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own), Fourteenth Regiment of Foot, his family’s regiment (a big mistake as he later discovered). He served in Malaya (going there without telling his mum during his last home leave!). He also served in Northern Ireland – where in a pub in the Bogside, in army fatigues he decided it was probably safe to order a Guinness in an Irish accent. I worked there in the 80’s and it wasn’t even safe to leave the car dressed in civvies.

Dad experienced a number of accidents and major injuries in his life. The worst was in the 50’s when he was riding his bike and undertook an army lorry that he knew would be turning right into the army base. Unfortunately “know it all” Bryant was wrong, and he slammed into the left hand side of the cab and was thrown across the junction of the road. He suffered a nasty injury to the elbow, but his leg was damaged so badly it ended up shorter and he limped ever after. EVEN THIS did not complete break his silly bugger sensibilities – after 9 months of various operations and treatment he was finally heading to the hospital to have his last plaster cast removed. In early celebration of this he thought it entirely prudent to run across the road (on crutches and in plaster). Almost inevitably he put his crutch down the drain, broke his leg, and spent another 3 months in plaster!

As a result of this injury Dad was invalided out of the army – ever helpful the Army gave him a career planning choice of about 1, and he took the Civil Service exam. He was always proud that in the English exam he came first across the whole intake. His prize (for so it was considered!) was to work for the Inland Revenue. He worked his way up the ladder over the years studying evenings and weekends and worked in several London offices finishing at London Somerset House working on special projects. He made many friends in the Revenue, and although it was not his 1st career – he made a good success of it; although he told me on several occasions that his “calling a spade a shovel” attitude may have been career limiting! He joined and led the Inland Revenue Rifle Club at Somerset House for many years, and continued shooting after retirement, stopping only when the range was closed down after the 1998 ban.

But although the accident and working at the Revenue were not Dad’s first plan, if these had not happened then Mum and Dad would not have met at his friend’s party. Mum had been invited by her friend and flatmate. Six months later they were married (adlib here, "mum and dad, not mum and her flatmate"). At the risk of sounding immodest, within a couple of years, they had 2 of the most beautiful and well mannered children the world has known.

One of Dad’s distinguishing features was his beard. I have no firm recollection of him without it, but it came about because in the 60’s Dad was in a bad car crash in Yorkshire and badly damaged several fingers. As a result shaving became difficult as he always poked himself in the eye with his now rigid little finger, thus he grew the beard that he kept ever after.

After the car crash he took up canoeing; which led to sailing which he then taught for Waltham Forest, gaining various RYA certification and skills, including navigation (although I have to confess his first crossing of the Channel with a just a Silva compass and a 1 page chart was not his best decision!)

It was no surprise then, that he joined the RNLI and (inevitably!) became the local treasurer.

Dad claimed that my confirmation was only the second time he’d been in St Edmunds RC church in Loughton. I was touched that he should break a great abstinence in order to witness it. However I think the Governor upstairs took his revenge on Dad as all the photos he took of me with the Bishop came out black!

I’m glad to say that although I inherited from Dad a full head of hair, extreme height, good looks and svelte figure; much more importantly I inherited:
• an unquenchable pride in being English
• a lifelong regret I’m not a Yorkshire man
• A strong belief in fairness, equality and justice.

Throughout the time I really knew him, he was always a keen supporter of the underdog, (perhaps this explains his love for the Yorkshire and England sporting teams...) Despite his army history, he was generally scandalised by war, and I am relieved that he never fired a shot in anger in Malaya and therefore never had to regret something there.

Despite his injuries he maintained a strong interest in many sports especially snooker, F1, Rugby and shooting – and he really enjoyed watching the Army 7’s rugby team beat the professionals at Twickenham on more than 1 occasion.

Last week my wife said that if Dad did something, he normally ended up running it. She is absolutely right, but it is not only that, his choices from the Army onwards were characterised by service to the community, not just hobbies. Teaching sailing, being a magistrate, Venture Scouts, RNLI, his Union, the gun club, his school’s Old Boys Association.

In his latter years, he was a benefactor to a number of good causes: he sponsored a retired Ghurkha (he’d served with them in Malaya), the Thiepval memorial visitor centre at the Somme, Duxford’s air museum. All things that he saw as worthy causes deserving his support. Last year he was surprised and shocked to find that despite many visits to the Somme, he had 2 previously unknown Great Uncles who’d served and died there. I was very glad he got to go back one more time to see their memorials.

Lastly, a personal memory. The time I saw Dad laugh the most was when Mum and Dad came up to Norfolk one time.  After we parked the car, I was reaching onto the back seat to fetch something. Dad, with his back to me, leant his weight against the door to close it trapping my upper arm. Entirely innocently Dad continue to apply further pressure until my exclamations of discomfort made him look round. When he saw what was happening he burst into the biggest and longest burst of laughter I can ever remember from him. Of course, I joined in as well. To be honest I’m not really sure why it was funny, and I’m not sure he did either, but it was!

And that’s how I’d like to remember him"

Sunday, May 02, 2010

#wp7 Windows Phone #Marketplace refund - how to avoid the inevitable #Fail

Well, that was interesting.

I downloaded an application and found very quickly it does not meet my needs. So now that I know there is a refund policy – I thought I’d head off and use it.

But no, there’s no options within the phone interface to say “please delete and refund”. That would be far too easy. So I tried the website, however the build and layout of the website was unusable from the mobile phone, so I head off to the desktop.

Hurrah, some information on refunds

So what do I have to do then?

OK, I’ll go to the Purchase history and click on the product details. Up comes a popup (no wonder the phone barfed at this point) (note some data obscured to protect the innocent!)

For confirmation I decided to click on the seller’s link for help to see if they could help me fix the problem I had, but no – that would be too easy.

So where’s my refund eform then?

After hunting around in different places I came back here, and clicked on support again (having done so to register a complaint earlier). Up pops this form – can you see where my refund might be yet? No, thought not.

After 3 levels of options – here, finally, is the “Give me money back option”

Not too much of a treasure hunt was it?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

File under bad decision 2

Listening to Nick Drake, Way to Blue.

His encapsulation of melancholy is sublime and wonderful, but not when you're feeling "delicate".

One of the most distinctive sounds singer/songwriter sounds I can think of.

I wish I'd known him...

File under Bad Decision 1

As an avid Marillion fan I lean on their music at times.

A couple of days ago I tweeted that Marillion's Neverland was a monumentally %$#$ing stupid decision that day.

Well it was, but a day later it was OK.

Grief alters...