Windows Server 2008 R2 DNS – Solved!

Something has been driving me absolutely INSANE – why does Windows Server 2008 DNS stop working intermittently and require either the service to be re-started or the whole server to be re-booted to get it working again?

After 2 years of this annoyance I decided to spend lots of time to get this working, and many phone calls and harrasment of various Microsoft Partner organisations and Microsoft Technical Support later… I think there is finally a
fix that works and stops it falling over!

The problem, according to Microsoft appears to be that Windows is more advanced than the rest of the Internet, and falls over occasionally when trying to deal with other non E-DNS aware servers (or something like that)

Open Command Prompt (with Run As Administrator)

Type dnscmd /config /EnableEDNSProbes 0

Close the Command Prompt

Open Services (Start, Run, Services.msc)

Right-click on the DNS Server item, Click on Tasks and choose ReStart

Working!

Microsoft drops Flash from IE on Windows 8 tablets

The Metro interface is designed for when Windows 8 is being used on a tablet

One of the web’s most widely used technologies is going to be absent from some versions of Windows 8.

Microsoft is to drop support for Adobe Flash from the web browser that works with the Metro interface on Windows 8. The Metro user interface is most likely to be used on tablets as it displays applications and programs as easy to touch coloured tiles. Flash will still be supported in the Windows 8 desktop interface and the desktop version of IE.

The announcement about the lack of Flash support was made in a blog post by Dean Hachamovitch, head of IE development at Microsoft. In the post he said Microsoft had worked hard to make Metro rely as little as possible on older technologies. Instead it had concentrated on the latest version of web technology HTML 5.

Supporting HTML 5 meant making Metro plug-in free, he said. One of the most widely used plug-ins for web browsers is Adobe’s Flash as many sites use it to show video, multimedia and games.

“The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web,” wrote Mr Hachamovitch. “Providing compatibility with legacy plug-in technologies would detract from, rather than improve, the consumer experience of browsing in the Metro style [user interface],” he said.

Microsoft showed off the Metro interface this week at its Build developers conference in California. Windows 8 has been “re-imagined” said Microsoft and the Metro interface was specifically designed with tablets and touch screens in mind.

 Apple dropped support for Flash in early 2010 saying it made Macs crash. Mr Hachamovitch said plug-ins were rapidly becoming unnecessary. Flash was by
far the most widely used plug-in, he said. Removing plug-ins will mean longer battery life on tablets, protect privacy and improve security, he said. Users will still be able to get at sites that run Flash by exiting the Metro interface, returning to the classic desktop view and running Internet Explorer.

Adobe responded to the news in a blogpost of its own.

“We expect Windows desktop to be extremely popular for years to come (including Windows 8 desktop) and that it will support Flash just fine,” wrote Danny
Winokur.”In addition,” he wrote, “we expect Flash based apps will come to Metro via Adobe AIR, much the way they are on Android, iOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS today.”

In dropping Flash support, Microsoft is following Apple’s lead which has had a long-standing policy of not letting its gadgets support the technology.

In an open letter explaining the ban published in April 2010, Apple boss Steve Jobs said: “We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash”. Flash was “the number one reason Macs crash”, he added.

ISArc drags the Kiosk into the 21st Century

WebFence
WebFence

So today we began another revolution – to drag the humble “web-kiosk” into the 21st century.

Our goals were clear:

  • Create kiosk software that actually works and allows users to browse the web un-hindered by previous users
  • 100% remotely controlled by a central web-based information management system
  • Allow for whitelist of approved websites
  • Must run on low-power Atom-based PCs (but still require Windows 7 – for now)
  • Must use Internet Explorer 9 (or an implemention of the IE browser engine)
  • Must have “session” management – allowing for the creation of individual session logons
  • Must provide reporting on time-spent, number of users etc
  • Must have a catchy name
  • Must be very very very easy to use and manage
  • Must be “self-fixing” – and require zero maintenance call-outs
  • Must allow for the recording of activity
  • Must allow for the remote termination of a session

the result….

www.webfence.co.uk

A visual basic (framework 4) custom browser application that replaces Windows Explorer, connects using web services to an information management system written in ASP.Net Framework 4 with Microsoft SQL Server running behind the scenes and automatically re-sets everything at the end of the browsing session.

Simple.

the work continues!

The wonder of Hyper-V

With Hyper-V, it’s easier than ever to take advantage of the cost savings of virtualization through Windows Server 2008 R2. Optimize your server hardware investments by consolidating multiple server roles as separate virtual machines
running on a single physical machine, efficiently run multiple different operating systems in parallel, on a single server, and fully leverage the power of x64 computing.

We have rolled out Hyper-V in our office and now have no physical Windows Servers that provide services. The only bare-metal servers run Hyper-V.

Storage is dealt with by an HP DL380 server set up as a SAN so that the Hyper-V front-end servers connect via iSCSI to the SAN.

Front-end servers are now:

HP DL160 G5, 2 x 2.0GHz Xeon Quad-core CPUs with 32Gb RAM

HP DL160 G6, 2 x 3.04GHz Xeon Quad-core CPUs with 64Gb RAM

Bye Bye Office Xp

Microsoft Office Xp Logo
Microsoft Office Xp Logo

Microsoft today reminded customers that it will pull the support plug for the aged Office XP in July.

Office XP, which launched nearly 10 years ago, will exit support July 12, that month’s Patch Tuesday. The date will be the last time Microsoft issues security updates for the suite.

Microsoft regularly warns users of impending end-of-support dates. Last year, for example, it mentioned the July 2010 end to Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) support on several consecutive months.

The company supports its business products for 10 years, the first five in what it calls “mainstream support,” and the second five in “extended support.” The biggest difference between the two phases is that in the latter, non-security fixes are provided only to companies that have signed support contracts with Microsoft.

Microsoft provides users with free security patches for the entire 10-year stretch. Office XP was last patched in December 2010, when Microsoft fixed seven flaws in the suite’s graphics parsers. During 2010, Microsoft issued 18 security updates for Office XP.

In December, Microsoft also revamped Office XP and Office 2003 so that the older suites use the more secure GDI+ (Graphics Device Interface) rendering component called on by Office 2007 and 2010.

With Office XP falling off the support list, Microsoft urged users to upgrade to a newer edition. Office 2003, which left mainstream support two years ago, is eligible for security updates until Jan. 14, 2014. Office 2007 and Office 2010 will receive patches until April 2017 and October 2020, respectively.

Users can continue to run out-of-support software — there’s no “kill switch” that gets thrown — but without patches to plug holes, they may be at greater risk to hackers’ exploits. Microsoft last upgraded Office XP in 2004 when it released Service Pack 3 (SP3) for the suite.

Storage, storage, storage

I’ve spent the past few months on a mission – to convert all of our 2800+ DVDs to H.264 (MP4) format…. And have finally encountered what can only be described as a major obstacle…. Storage..

So what’s out there – well it’s easy and cheap to get a 2Tb USB attached drive – the problem is that even if i were to fill all 6 spare USB ports on my pc with them, I would still be over 20Tb short on space by current calculations… And there is a bigger problem – they all use FAT32, which doesn’t support file sizes greater than 4Gb – and pretty much every film is higher than 4Gb when encoded at 5000 bitrate (to ensure the utmost quality possible when viewing action scenes on a large HD TV).

So I looked for network attached storage devices, of which there are few, and still fewer that are wifi (which is essential so it can connect directly to the Apple TV). I almost purchased a 2Tb Seagate, however it was at this point that I became eternally grateful to the amazon customer reviews, as they all unanimously made it clear that this was not a good purchase!

So it’s now between buffalo and netgear – which is like being asked whether you would like to be shot or stabbed – both have major pitfalls and huge cost implications.

The Netgear ReadyNAS, which looks great at £140 until you realise that there are no drives supplied. Worse still is the buffalo, which once you read the small print you realise that you HAVE to have software installed on every pc that accesses it, which considering I want to access it directly is a problem.

My final thought came as an afterthought – why not just load the current pc with hard disks, its a new 12-core Dell i7 – it must have space for some more hard disks…. But NO… dell have decided in their infinite wisdom to fill the only two drive bays with drives, leaving no other slots for SATA drives in the case without resorting to some 5.25″ caddys, and there is no way I am making my pc look that ugly.

Traditional Servers – too noisy and power hungry – No

The “cloud” – would be fine, except that it would take years to upload, and our broadband speeds are so rubbish, that i couldn’t stream the films whilst watching them (we can’t even stream HD YouTube, let alone a 4Gb movie (DVD converted) or 10Gb+ movie (Blu-Ray converted).

So what to do? Any suggestions gratefully received!