WindowsNetworking.com Newsletter of April 2008

WindowsNetworking.com Monthly Newsletter of July 2011 Sponsored by: ManageEngine

Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP. Each month we will bring you interesting and helpful information on the world of Windows Networking. We want to know what all *you* are interested in hearing about. Please send your suggestions for future newsletter content to: dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

Do you wish to monitor your Network, Servers and Services from a Single Console?

Often admins end-up using multiple tools to monitor their network. As a result, they lack visibility across the IT and the MTTR spikes affecting the end user productivity directly. Try OpManager, a powerful fault and performance management  software that lets you monitor WAN, VoIP, Routers, Switches, Firewalls, Traffic usage, Servers, VMware, Services, Essential MS apps viz. Exchange, SQL/AD and other IT devices from a single console.

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1. Is the TechNet Wiki the Future of Microsoft Documentation?

TechNet: If you're an IT pro who works with Windows, it's been a part of your life for many years. Anytime you wanted to learn something new about Microsoft technologies, whether you wanted to get started with a new product or service, or you wanted to learn about the details, or you wanted to figure out how to troubleshoot a specific issue, you probably began by checking the TechNet library here. It's a trusted resource and over time, you've grown used to turning to it to find the things you need to get your job done.

But think about your experiences with the TechNet library over the years. How many times have you tried to find an answer to a burning question, only to find that there was no information on the subject that you're interested in? How many times have you found information that appeared to answer your question in the TechNet library, only to find later that the information was incorrect, outdated, or just plain indecipherable? How many times did you want to throw your coffee cup at your monitor after another experience of not being able to find a straightforward answer to a question that you know many other people must be asking, too?

The biggest problem with the TechNet library is that the content isn't really written with the customer (you) in mind. It's written based on the opinions of members of the Microsoft product groups to which the content applies. The product groups know their stuff, but the members of those groups often have very little insight into what you need.  They don't work with the product out in the field in the same way you do. They don't know about your challenges, they don't know what you want to do with their products, and they don't understand that while they have been working with a particular product or technology exclusively for many months or years, you are just trying to get your head around it and you need clear, concise and explicit content with numerous examples and explanations. They often assume you know things that seem obvious to them, but aren't at all obvious to someone who hasn't been immersed in the product for years.

How can Microsoft fix this problem? I suppose they could invite a core group of users (maybe MVPs) to review the content. But that solution might suffer from some of the same drawbacks. MVPs are a select group of community members - and may or may not represent the average admin. And even if the MVPs are invited to review the content, there just aren't that many MVPs out there - and in many cases, MVPs are very busy and don't have the time to review all the content that Microsoft puts out on a "pro bono" basis.

I think what Microsoft needs to do is open up their content creation and publishing process. The TechNet library is getting long in the tooth. The errors, missing information, outdated information, and byzantine explanations that only make sense to those who already have a deep understanding of the product - all these are creating a possible competitive disadvantage for Microsoft. What Microsoft needs is an open approach so that customers can participate in the content creation and maintenance process, and the content that Microsoft creates will actually be usable and be used by its customers.

I think that's where the TechNet wiki comes in! You can find the TechNet wiki here. As with any wiki, all you need to do is register and you can start adding and editing articles. Here is the process that I think would work well:

  • Microsoft personnel create the first draft of their content privately.
  • When the first release of the product to the general public is available (such as a beta or preview build), all that private content could be moved to the TechNet wiki.
  • Microsoft employees, together with interested parties in the community, could then start editing the content on the public TechNet wiki. Microsoft employees would add content together with the community. In most cases, the community probably wouldn't be adding content so much as commenting on the content that's posted by Microsoft employees, and asking for additional explanations and clarifications, as well as asking for additional content pages that weren't included in the Microsoft content plans.
  • The community might also comment on pages that have little or no value and suggest that those pages be removed, as they just represent noise.
  • There should be a date when the content has to be considered complete, and then moved to the TechNet library where it's preserved in more static form. The community would be made aware of this date so that they could make their edits and changes before that time.
  • The content on the public wiki would be copied to the TechNet library. At that point, the content would be out of the hands of the community and would sit there in its final form as content has always done in the library in the past.
  • The content would also remain on the TechNet wiki, where Microsoft employees and the community could continue to update it, improve it, and expand on it, so that it doesn't become outdated or irrelevant. The wiki content would then be the freshest, most up-to-date content available. And if there is an error, the community can quickly fix it! Why wait months or years or forever for Microsoft to correct or update the content in the TechNet library? A Microsoft employee (maybe one not even responsible for a particular product or technology) could even fix problems with content, since they're not locked out of the content as they would likely be if they tried to fix the content in the TechNet library

What do you think? Is the TechNet wiki the future of Microsoft documentation? Are you tired of the TechNet site where errors and omissions live on forever, and no one ever answers or addresses the comments you make to the article in the library?

Let me know! Send me a note at dshinder@windowsnetworking.com and I'll share your comments.

See you next month! - Deb.

By Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP
dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

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Quote of the Month - "A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others." - Ayn Rand
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Do you wish to monitor your Network, Servers and Services from a Single Console?

Often admins end-up using multiple tools to monitor their network. As a result, they lack visibility across the IT and the MTTR spikes affecting the end user productivity directly. Try OpManager, a powerful fault and performance management  software that lets you monitor WAN, VoIP, Routers, Switches, Firewalls, Traffic usage, Servers, VMware, Services, Essential MS apps viz. Exchange, SQL/AD and other IT devices from a single console.

Download Now - Try our free 30 days trial in your network.

3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest

4. Administrator KB Tip of the Month

Enabling Fast Search for Filenames

The search feature in Windows Vista and later has been redesigned to focus on meeting the needs of ordinary users who typically want to find documents by name or by text they contain. The downside of this, however, is that "geeks" (i.e. power users) who are looking for some obscure DLL file or executable such as dmw.exe on their systems may not get the results they expect when they search for such files by name. Fortunately there's a simple way of making Windows Search behave the way geeks want it to work. 

Begin by configuring the Indexer on your computer as follows:

  1. Open Indexing Options from Control Panel.
  2. Click Modify and select the root of each drive so that all locations on your computer will be indexed. If desired, you can deselect Outlook if you don't want your emails indexed.
  3. If desired, you can also click Advanced and select the File Types tab. Then for each file type for which you want to index the properties and not their contents, select the file type and change Index Properties and File Contents to Index Properties Only.
  4. Close Indexing Options and allow Windows re-index the file system on your computer.

Once re-indexing is complete, you can quickly search for any particular file on your computer such as dwm.exe by doing the following:

  1. Click Start, then Computer, and select the drive you want to search.
  2. Click in the search box at the top right of the Explorer window and type filename:dwm.exe so that Windows Search will only return results for files with the name dmw.exe and not also for documents containing the text "dwm.exe".

If you do this, you can quickly search for files by name instead of having to wait for Windows to perform a slow "grep" search of your drives. By the way, you can tell when a grep search is being performed by the green progress bar that slowly displays in the address bar of the Explorer window.

For more administrator tips, go to WindowsNetworking.com/WindowsTips

5. Windows Networking Tip of the Month

There's little doubt that 2011 is the year of the Windows 7 upgrade. Windows XP is getting closer and closer to end of life and it's time to move on up to Windows 7. While some of you might be waiting for Windows 8, you might as well get on board with the Windows 7 migration, since it will be a lot easier to upgrade to Windows 8 from Windows 7 than it would be from Windows XP to Windows 8. In the meantime, you'll have better security and more functionality with Windows 7.

With migration in mind, you'll need to think about the best tools available to accomplish your migration plans. There are a lot of free tools that you can use, so why not take a look at those first? Check out the article Microsoft Windows 7: Top Tools for Deploying Windows 7 on the Microsoft TechNet site for all the details on the free tools provided by Microsoft.

Do you wish to monitor your Network, Servers and Services from a Single Console?

Often admins end-up using multiple tools to monitor their network. As a result, they lack visibility across the IT and the MTTR spikes affecting the end user productivity directly. Try OpManager, a powerful fault and performance management  software that lets you monitor WAN, VoIP, Routers, Switches, Firewalls, Traffic usage, Servers, VMware, Services, Essential MS apps viz. Exchange, SQL/AD and other IT devices from a single console.

Download Now - Try our free 30 days trial in your network.

6. Windows Networking Links of the Month

7. Ask Sgt. Deb

QUESTION:

Hey Deb,

I heard about the Test Lab Guide "Base Configuration" thing from one of your articles here on Windowsnetworking.com. What is this Base Configuration? What can I do with it? I have a lot of scenarios that I need to test but the Base Configuration doesn't have all the things I need to test all the scenarios that I need to get tested. Are there multiple Base Configurations that I can use to test different scenarios? Thanks! - Grady.


ANSWER:

Hi Grady,

Great question! Yes, I've talked about the Base Configuration in a few articles I've written here on WindowsNetworking.com, WindowSecurity.com and ISAserver.org.  As you said, you can use the Base Configuration to build out test labs that allow you to test the components you're investigating in a nice, isolated and controlled environment. Many of us use test labs not only when we're evaluating new products and technologies, but also when we need to figure out how the new product or technology is going to integrate with our current environment by replicating the current environment on a smaller scale in the test lab.

Regarding the use of the Base Configuration - no, you don't need multiple Base Configurations because you can manipulate the Base Configuration in any way that you like. If you need to change the configuration of services in the Base Configuration, then do it! Do you need to add new services to the machines in the Base Configuration? Then do that! Do you need to remove services from some of the machines in the Base Configuration? Then you can do that too! Do you need more virtual machines, more virtual networks, more virtual disks? Then add them! The Base Configuration is just a starting point. It's the foundation of all your virtual server based test labs. As a foundation, you can build whatever you like on top of it. The Base Configuration is just the beginning.

To find out more about the Base Configuration and Test Lab Guide, check out the TechNet wiki page here.

Have fun! - Deb.

Do you wish to monitor your Network, Servers and Services from a Single Console?

Often admins end-up using multiple tools to monitor their network. As a result, they lack visibility across the IT and the MTTR spikes affecting the end user productivity directly. Try OpManager, a powerful fault and performance management  software that lets you monitor WAN, VoIP, Routers, Switches, Firewalls, Traffic usage, Servers, VMware, Services, Essential MS apps viz. Exchange, SQL/AD and other IT devices from a single console.

Download Now - Try our free 30 days trial in your network.

TechGenix Sites

ISAserver.org
The No.1 Forefront TMG / UAG and ISA Server resource site.
MSExchange.org
The leading Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 / 2007 / 2003 resource site.
WindowSecurity.com
Network Security & Information Security resource for IT administrators.
VirtualizationAdmin.com
The essential Virtualization resource site for administrators.