Internet Explorer Keywords for DNS Troubleshooting

I think its safe to say that DNS is part of the fabric of the internet. I don’t remember how many times I had (or helped someone with) issues with public DNS, but I can assure you that it has been a lot. DNS controls everything about your domain, from the correct resolution of your website to where your email should go.


My two favorite sites for troubleshooting public DNS issues are www.dnsreport.com and www.dnsstuff.com. These two sites have saved me in numerous occassions and whenever somebody is having some DNS issue they are my first stop to help determine the problem. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with each site… I can assure you that you will find them as useful as me. Did I mentioned that both sites are free? :-)


Ok. So, those sites are old news for you? Well… I have something here that you might like. I “borrowed” an idea from Susan’s blog and created a registry file that adds a set of keywords to the IE address bar so you can use this site even faster.


Right click here, select “Save As” and save it to your desktop renaming the extension to .reg (alternatively you can just click the link to see what we are adding to the registry). Double click on the file and allow it to be imported into the registry. That’s it! You can now open IE and use the following keywords to do amazing stuff…


DNS somedomain.com – Generates a DNSReport for that domain


A something.somedomain.com – A record for that hostname


MX somedomain.com – MX record(s) for that domain


PTR x.x.x.x or something.somedomain.com - Reverse DNS records for that IP/Hostname


WHOIS somedomain.com – Registration information about a domain


So, do you think this is useful? Comment below and let me know what you think!

Create easier-to-remember URLs for OWA, RWW and even Sharepoint

If you are running SBS you must know by now that you need to type http://something.yourdomain.com/exchange or /remote to access OWA or RWW from the internet. One issue that I often encounter is that users forget those URLs are (specially if the are technologically-impaired J).


 


So, what about giving your users simpler URLs? Like http://webmail.yourdomain.com for OWA and/or http://remote.yourdomain.com for RWW


 


What about Sharepoint? Typing :444 at the end of an URL is really not cool at all. Wouldn’t it be great if you could use http://intranet.yourdomain.com to access your intranet directly? If this idea sounds appealing to you… then keep reading:


 


Method 1 –


 


If you have your DNS hosted with ZoneEdit, GoDaddy or any other DNS provider that provides URL redirection you can do this in less than 1 minute. Just open the DNS console and create those records. The great thing about this is that its easy, you don’t have to do anything on your end and you can even keep port 80 closed on the SBS box.


 


Method 2 –


 


If you are the kind of guy (or gal) that likes to do things themselves then this is for you. Here’s an example on how to do it for OWA:


 


1)      Create an “A” record on your public DNS for webmail.yourdomain.com that points to your server IP address. Remember that this is something you do to the public DNS so your SBS box is not involved (i.e. you probably need to call your ISP).


2)      Go to the SBS box and open the IIS console. Drill down to websites, right click and select “create new”, follow the wizard. Name it “OWA redirector”, on the host header box type “webmail.yourdomain.com” and finish the wizard.


3)      Right click on the newly created website and select properties. Go to the Home Directory tab, change it to “Redirection to a URL”, type “http://something.yourdomain.com/exchange” on the Redirect to box and click ok.


 


Now you should be able to type http://webmail.yourdomain.com and be automatically redirected to OWA. Do the same thing with RWW and Sharepoint. Heck, you could even go to Mapquest get the URL of your office location and then create a redirector from http://map.yourdomain.com to that. The possibilities are endless with just a little creativity J


 


BTW-> If you think about it, you could host the redirectors on your own server and then your clients can have port 80 totally closed. No reason why the redirector has to be on the same server as the target.

Documentation Available on SBS2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1)

Although, SBS2k3 SP1 is not quite out yet (very soon!)… you might be interested in knowing what changes it brings to the table beforehand. I suggest you check out this document:


http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=b5846a14-f306-41f0-9d1f-97f615e62adf&displaylang=en


I wish to share what my 4 favorite new features are:



1)       Not having to install service packs, updates and a bunch of hotfixes separately (not sure if this is actually a “feature” J).


2)       External Pages of Your Windows SBS Web Site Do Not Appear in Internet Search Results (just click on this link and see how important this is).


3)       Exchange is automatically configured to filter out mail sent to accounts that do not exist in the Active Directory directory (no more spamming using NDRs… yeah!!!).

4)       The inclusion of ISA Server 2004 on the package (I admit I haven’t played much with it, but it sure seems “cool”).

Although there were ways to do this without SP1… its nice to have everything in one place. We SBSers are truly spoiled!

The SBS Migration Tour – Washington DC on May 19

I’m pleased to announce that we have 2 great presentations in May 19 as part of SBS Migration east coast tour. SBSers Jeff Middleton and Anne Stanton are going to be on Boston, NYC and DC (on May 17, 18 and 19 respectively) presenting the technical and business aspects of SBS migrations.


Also, 3 other SBS MVPs (Cal McLennan, Jeff Loucks and myself) and many members of the Baltimore and DC SBS usergroups will be attending this event. We hope to get a lot of people involved… so please “spread the word” and make sure you attend this great event! J


You can register for the DC event here:


http://www.clicktoattend.com/invitation.aspx?code=102733


or the NYC event:


http://www.clicktoattend.com/invitation.aspx?code=102654


So, what exactly are the presentations about? Keep reading…


Migration Projects as Business Opportunities (presented by Anne Stanton – CRM-MVP)


As a customer opens their mind to the potential of even more productivity and better tools there is an opportunity for other project work. Anne Stanton presents a look into what some of this potential project work could be and how to position yourself with your client to facilitate more work and project opportunities. Setting expectations, anticipating demand and insuring a successful transition while also nailing down potential long term referrals are all part of the discussion


Swing Migration: Upgrade SBS servers on weekdays, …take the weekends off!  (presented by Jeff Middleton – SBS-MVP)


Jeff introduced this blockbuster presentation last fall, rated by attendees as best of Reseller Summit 2004 Tour given by Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and Trend Micro in Australia, and the best SMB Nation 2004 technical session. Replacing a Windows or SBS Server transparently, open timeline, same domain, no workstation impact…this migration method rocks!!


ü      This unique technical solution can redefine your SMB business and server support model, even put an end to the “business shutdown” or “the long-weekend server upgrade” approach to Windows Server and SBS upgrades.


ü      Directly shifting any Windows domain from NT4/SBS 4.x through Win200x over to SBS/Windows 200x become possible, even BackOffice 2000 to SBS 2003 while maintaining the original Active Directory. Swing Migration delivers a clean installed Windows OS platform, (with or without hardware replacement), retains the same server-name, same domain. Keep the same Exchange Information Store if you like.


ü      No user profile impact, ADMT is not required, no SID changes, no UNC namespace break, just a transparent server upgrade that includes the confidence of not impacting the workstations. This documented process keeps a customer’s domain in production, allows a full server replacement for complicated Exchange based organizations on a single domain controller such as SBS operating as a file server as well. Your technician can work offsite, offline, open-timeline and with nothing to undo if unexpected issues arise.


I hope to see you there! (and make sure you say “hi” to me).


 

How to buy SBS 4.x/2000 CALs

This question is coming up a lot in the SBS newsgroups. Basically if you have an SBS 4.x or 2000 server and need to buy CALs for it you will soon find out that they have been discontinued. You need to buy SBS2k3 CALs and use your “downgrade rights“ to install them on the older SBS version.


Sounds simple? Yes… well… not quite. When was the last time you saw something simple regarding licensing? :-)


The problem is that SBS2k (and prior) used a floppy disk to install the CALs (which is no longer needed in 2k3). To obtain this disk you need to call MS Fulfilment Center and ask them to send the media (small fee). For your convinience, the phone number (in the US) is (800) 360-7561 and the sku of the disk is 807-00144.


By the way… this info is (in part) on the Licensing Faq.

New SBS Usergroup Forming in St. Louis

Cris Hanna (a fellow SBS MVP and one of the SBS grandfathers) has started a new Usergroup in the St. Loius area. As I have mentioned before I truly love usergroups, it is great to be able to talk geek and share “war” stories. Kudos to Cris on getting this going!


So, if you use, support or sell SBS in the St. Louis area… make sure you join this group by sending an email to:
stlsbsusers-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


By the way, if you live in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, DC or Northern Virginia… make sure you contact me (use the form in the left corner) so I can direct you to the appropiate usergroup in your area. You will not regret it!

LimitLogin – Tool to limit and monitor concurrent logins in a domain

A couple of people in the past have asked how to prevent users from logging more than 1 time (or x number of times) on different devices across the network. I stumbled accross this tool which seems like it does exactly that better than the old CConnect.exe (also some other nice features):


LimitLogin v1.0


 LimitLogin is an application that adds the ability to limit concurrent user logins in an Active Directory domain. It can also keep track of all logins information in Active Directory domains.


 LimitLogin capabilities include:


·         Limiting the number of logins per user from any machine in the domain, including Terminal Server sessions.


·         Displaying the logins information of any user in the domain according to a specific criterion (e.g. all the logged-on sessions to a specific client machine or Domain Controller, or all the machines a certain user is currently logged on to).


·         Easy management and configuration by integrating to the Active Directory MMC snap-ins.


·         Ability to delete and log off user session remotely straight from the Active Directory Users and Computers MMC snap-in.


·         Generating Login information reports in CSV (Excel) and XML formats.


LimitLogin grants System Administrators, Help Desk staff or any other IT-related personnel the ability to quickly query for any user logged on to the domain and view the machines they’re currently logged on to, while enabling the above list of features and management tasks to be performed on those user sessions.


Note: As far as I can tell this only works with Win2k3 domains and the clients must be running Win2k or XP. You can download the tool here.


 

StarWars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith


Ok… so this is not exactly SBS material, but it is interesting nevertheless:


As you may know StarWars Episode III is only 71 days away (release date May 19, 2005). Last November the first teaser trailer was released, which was totally awesome (specially that “Lord Vader…. RISE!” part). You can watch the teaser here:


http://www.starwars.com/episode-iii/release/trailer/teaser.html


Now, the important news is that you can watch the full trailer on Thursday, March 10th at 8 pm, during the broadcast of FOX’s “The O.C.”. If you miss it, don’t worry… you will probably have tons of other opportunities to watch the trailer (more specifically on the movie Robots and in the StarWars fan site) plus these trailers are all over the net as soon as they are released.


Sorry for the interuption… and now we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

A Recycle Bin for Sharepoint?

Today I was cleaning up the stack of magazines that I have in my desk and came across an article on how to add a Recycle Bin to Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS).


MSDN Magazine – February 2005 – Page 62


http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdnmag/issues/05/02/RecycleBinforWSS/


I have to admit that I have absolutely NO IDEA what these guys are talking about. That really doesn’t mean anything since my knowledge of programming and .NET is very limited (almost non-existent). However, I know that we have very smart people in the SBS community than can probably figure this out. In fact, I encourage anyone that knows enough of this to make it work to write something SBS-sized so mere mortals like myself could benefit of it.


Bottomline-> I don’t know if its possible and/or how well it works… but the article sounds interesting and definitely something that we on SBS-land could benefit from.