Friday, March 30, 2007

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed capture spawning irrational exhuberance?

One of my pet peeves about the U.S. media is the continual attempts at sensationalizing and editorializing news. I see this all the times in the choice of headlines and the adjectives that are used both in the headlines as well as the articles themselves. News is supposed to be objective and unbiased.

For the past few weeks, the U.S. media has been gushing about the release of transcripts from the interview of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. One paper claimed that al-Qaeda was seriously weakened by his capture. Other papers were claiming the "mastermind" behind all of the al-Qaeda attacks had been captured. After all, in his "interview" he admitted to planning the 9/11 attack and even personally killing journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.

I do hope we have dealt al-Qaeda a serious blow to their ability to plan and execute terrorist acts, but I remain skeptical. First, even the 9/11 commission's report summarizes Mohammed as "theatrical" and prone to bragging by casting himself as "a superterrorist". Is his interview providing him with a platform to take credit? Or admit his own actions? It is a known fact that al-Qaeda trains their people to resist interrogation and to provide false information. Often, that false information is provided with the specific intent of throwing us "off track."

I doubt most people would remember the name Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi. al-Libi was a Lybian trainer for al-Qaeda that was captured in the fall of 2001. The U.S. turned him over to the Egyptians for "questioning"; I'm sure that Guantanamo Bay is like a trip to Club Med compared to al-Libi's "interview" with the Egyptians (this is speculation on my part, of course.)

Remember President Bush's speech in 2002 in which he was ramping up support for an invasion of Iraq and he said "We have learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb making, poisons, and gas." This claim was based on information provide by al-Libi. al-Libi claimed that Iraq had offered training to al-Qaeda. He was unable to provide any more information other than "Iraq had offered training and had terrorist training camps."

The Defense Intelligence Agency discredited this intelligence because it was obvious to the analysts that he was intentionally misleading the interviewers. al-Libi even recanted this information in 2004 (of course WAY too late to have prevented a ill-conceived invasion of Iraq). A French / British intelligence agent also reported that al-Libi was highly skilled at withstanding interrogation and hated Saddam Hussein and the secular regime in Iraq. This information may have been provided to help provoke (not that much provocation was necessary) the U.S. in to attacking Iraq and overthrowing the Hussein regime.

The U.S. news outlets (and our political leaders) need to view news and information with a calm, cool head. Sensational reports by the media or speeches by presidents should not be treated as credible. Put your thesaurus away and use clear, concise language when talking to us, the masses. We will get our drama from Law and Order.


Low cost telephone line to VOIP gateway

Howdy from Atlanta. We just finished the Atlanta Exchange 2007 Road Show event. Although I am totally exhausted, it was a lot of fun, we had some great questions, and good attendance. A pretty common question that is popping up is that people want to try Unified Messaging in their labs or pilot networks prior to actually setting one up.

AudioCodes makes a bunch of different configurations of telephone line to Voice over IP (VOIP) gateways. These range from two port (telephone lines) and up to many ports. For lab environments, a 2-port or 4-port device should work just fine. A device from the AudioCodes MP-114 family should do nicely.

If you delve in to this new arena, remember that there will be many new terms and components that you may not be used to. Don't get discouraged. Hopefully, someone will have some detailed instructions on how to set one of these up in a lab. If I have some time at home, I'm going to get one and try it myself.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Exchange Server storage system sizing eBook

I am working on a new eBook for It is called the Shortcut Guide to Exchange Server 2007 Storage Systems. It covers capacity planning and storage sizing for Exchange Server (both Exchange 2003 and 2007). It is free to registered users. Here is the marketing blurb for the book:

The conventional way of planning for Exchange Server storage is to throw a lot of disk storage at the server and hope that is sufficient. Mail storage requirements continue to grow for even average users; these users place more and more capacity requirements not only on disk storage but also on disk I/O capacity. As current capacity requirements are exceeded, the storage system must provide scalability. The Shortcut Guide to Exchange Server 2007 Storage Systems, authored by Microsoft Exchange MVP Jim McBee, covers Exchange Server storage capacity requirement planning, the basics of using iSCSI SANs, and best practices for scalability and SAN operations.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I have been tagged, too

Greetings from New York City! Recently I was tagged by my bud Rod Fournier. Now it is my turn to come up with 5 things that people might not know about me. I was trying to think of 5 interesting things and came up with with things like I am dating Tricia Helfer, I can levitate large objects, I can divide by zero, and I hang out with Angelina and Brad, but I did not want to brag, so here is a my list:
  1. Like Rod, I love the theater. There is nothing else like a live performance and I really respect actors that can do this well. I, on the other hand, can't act, dance or sing (my singing voice can sterilize small animals from 50 feet). Maybe I should direct. I worked in my college theater's electrics shop one semester.
  2. I am a licensed helicopter and airplane pilot. I survived an engine failure in a helicopter and auto-rotated it all the way to the ground.
  3. I ski and snowboard, though I ski much better than snowboard.
  4. Contrary to popular speculation, I don't surf all that well. I spend more time falling and getting back on the board than I spend actually surfing. However, I am a water person and so I feel that any time spent on the water is a good time.
  5. My most favorite vacation recently has been to the jungle temples at Angkor Wat in northern Cambodia.
Okay, now it is Paul Robichaux, Devin Ganger, and Ben Schorr's turns.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

So much for accurate phishing attacks

The phishers are getting VERY busy. (I have been getting 2 to 3 per day this week.) So busy in fact, that no one proofread who this message was coming FROM and who they were trying to spoof! LOL!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Exchange 2007 Roadshow Tour

The Exchange 2007 Roadshow Tour is expanding. Register ASAP since they are filling up! Come hear Paul Robichaux, Devin Ganger, Steve Bryant, and myself at one of these up coming events. The event lasts an entire day and includes topics on Exchange Server 2007 as well as realtime communications and Unified Messaging. The roadshow is sponsored by Penton Media, Microsoft, AMD, Dell, HP, Mimosa Systems, and Question. Here is the current schedule:
  • New York on March 27
  • Atlanta on March 29
  • Denver on April 10
  • Chicago on April 12
  • San Francisco on April 17
  • Anaheim on April 19
  • Dallas on April 24
  • Boston on April 26
  • Phoenix on May 15
  • Washington, D.C., on May 17

The attendee fee is $99, which includes a full day of content, access to presentation decks, a one-year subscription to Windows IT Pro magazine (or extension for current subscribers), T-shirt and attendee bags with additional information from Exchange third-party vendors, and the opportunity to win special prizes.

Full agenda, session abstracts, and speaker details are available on the registration Web site.


Friday, March 09, 2007

No Windows 2000 domain controllers in same site with Exchange 2007 servers

An interesting issue popped up in one of the Exchange mailing lists. If an Active Directory site contains any Windows 2000 domain controllers, Exchange Server 2007 setup will fail. Here is the error:

Setup encountered a problem while validating the state of Active
Directory: Domain Controller ''
Operating System version is 5.0 (2195) Service Pack 4. The minimum version required is 5.2 (3790) Service Pack 1.
Elapsed Time: 00:00:05

Client Access Role Prerequisites Failed
Setup encountered a problem while validating the state of Active Directory: Domain Controller
Operating System version is 5.0 (2195) Service Pack 4. The minimum version required is 5.2 (3790)Service Pack 1.
Elapsed Time: 00:00:03

Mailbox Role Prerequisites Failed
Setup encountered a problem while validating the state of Active
Directory: Domain Controller ''
Operating System version is 5.0 (2195) Service Pack 4. The minimum version required is 5.2 (3790) Service Pack 1.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Safelist aggregation

Exchange 2007 has a feature called safelist aggregation. This compiles a list of all of your safe senders and blocked senders and then will accept mail from the safe senders (even when it looks like spam) and will reject mail from blocked senders even if it looks legitimate.

You can use this either on an Exchange 2007 Edge Transport or an Exchange 2007 Hub Transport server (if you have installed the anti-spam agents). However, you need to scan the mailboxes and update the safe list information in the Active Directory periodically using the Update-SafeList cmdlet. It must be run for each mailbox and should be run on a scheduled basis (Maybe once or twice a week? Maybe daily.) Here is the command I run:

Get-Mailbox Update-SafeList

You will get an error if a mailbox has not been moved to Exchange 2007 yet. Here is an example of the error:
[PS] V:\>get-mailbox update-safelistUpdate-SafeList : Property SafeSendersHash cannot be set on this object because it requires the object to have version 0.1 (8.0.535.0) or later. Current version of the object is 0.0 (6.5.6500.0).At line:1 char:29+ get-mailbox update-safelist <<<<