Services In Vista

There are numerous services installed with Vista and the services available will of course depend on the operating system version that you install. Some services are installed be default during setup and others are optional. Those services not installed by default can be added after setup through the Programs option in the Control Panel.

Once services are installed they can be managed using the Services snap-in located under the Administrative Tools on the Start Menu. The Services console lets you stop, start, pause, resume, disable and view the status of services. You can define recovery options in the event that a service fails to start. For example, you can have the computer restart if a particular service fails to start.

For security and performance, some of the services listed are disabled but be enabled by a computer administrator as needed.

If you want to install an additional service in Vista, complete the steps listed below.

  1. Click Start and click Control Panel.
  2. Click Programs and then Programs and Features.
  3. From the list of tasks, click Turn Windows features on or off.
  4. Select the box beside the service you want to install and click OK.

If you need to disable a specific service, you can use the Services applet. Keep in mind that disabling it does not uninstall it. The following steps demonstrate how you can disable a service in Vista.

  1. Click Start, All Programs, Administrative Tools and click Services
  2. Scroll through the list of services and double click the one you want to disable.
  3. From the General tab, click the arrow by the Startup Type option and select Disabled. Click OK.

[tags]Diana Huggins, Microsoft, Windows, Vista, services[/tags]

Cluster Fault Tolerance Part II

The network can become a single point of failure for your cluster, meaning certain network problems can leave the cluster inaccessible to clients. To prevent the network from becoming a single point of failure, you must make it fault tolerant as well. This may require you to keep spare hardware on hand such as routers, switches, hubs, and network cards. If any piece of network hardware fails, it can be replaced as soon as the fault is detected.

How you increase fault tolerance of your cluster will depend on the network configuration. On a single subnet network, you do not have to worry about routers and switches. Configuring the cluster nodes with multiple network adapters and having spares on hand as replacements is sufficient.

However, in a multi-netted network there are additional considerations such as the physical set up of the network. If the network maintains multiple routers, there should be placed in such as way that there are at least two paths available to any given subnet. This way there is more than one route to any given network and the network is still available in the event that a router is unavailable.

For example, if the physical network consists of three networks connected by three routers, the routers should be set up to form a “loop”. If one router in the loop fails, all networks are still accessible through the remaining routers.

How does this apply to your cluster? If your cluster is placed on a network that suddenly becomes inaccessible to clients due to network hardware failure, the cluster is obviously inaccessible.

[tags]microsoft,diana huggins,cluster node,scsi,cluster fault tolerance,fibre channel[/tags]

Cluster Fault Tolerance Part I

There are many ways to keep cluster nodes available and performing at an acceptable level for all groups and their resources. For example, by making the network fault tolerance, you can increase availability of cluster nodes. A cluster by definition is fault tolerant; however, it is only as fault tolerant as the environment and setup.

You can implement a standby node, as in the hot spare cluster model; by having a physical computer that is not being used but standing by in case one of the active nodes in the cluster has a hardware failure. A standby node is ready to assume another nodes role in the event of hardware failure. If you do not want to have a computer sitting idle, another option is to just keep spare hardware parts on hand for emergencies.

The hardware components that have on had include all the internal parts of the PC – even all expansion cards, especially the SCSI adapter. The external parts include all the SCSI or Fibre Channel cabling and connectors.

You should implement hardware level RAID for the external shared cluster disks. This will allow your cluster to continue to function even after a shared disk failure. Spare external SCSI hard disks should also be kept on hand to replace any failed SCSI disks that are used as shared cluster disks.

When it comes to individual cluster nodes, the internal hard disk that contains the operating system files should be implemented as RAID level 1 (disk mirroring) with two hard disk controllers. This will enable a single node to continue to function if one internal hard disk in the mirror fails or if the controller that manages the hard drive hosting the operating system files fails.

[tags]microsoft,diana huggins,cluster node,scsi,cluster fault tolerance,fibre channel[/tags]

Shadow Copy In Windows Server 2003

Shadow copy is a new feature of Windows Server 2003 that basically takes a snapshot of a file or folder at a given point in time, and stores that snapshot for a configured amount of time. While the value may not be evident at first, it should definitely gain attention when coupled with the age-old problem of tape backups with open files.

Tape backup programs routinely have problems because they cannot accurately or correctly backup data that is currently being used by a program. Many of these backup programs sell add-on programs for certain applications (such as Exchange for email or SQL for databases) in order to ensure proper backup of application-specific files, but these add-ons are expensive, and they don’t always work. As a result, the data is either incorrectly backed up, or not backed up at all.

Shadow copy basically performs a backup of an entire volume, including files that are open, and it also ensures that all file changes that occur between the time the backup began and the time it finished, are also updated on the backup as well. NTBACKUP will not back up shadow copies by default, however other backup programs can be configured to do so, thus avoiding the additional costs of add-on utilities.

Shadow copy is particularly valuable in avoiding the tape restore for small issues where a user has deleted a network-shared file, or when they require an older (hours older) version of the same file. Shadow copy by default will make a shadow copy of a share or volume twice each day.

If or when a file in the shadow copy is deleted, a user can restore that file by right-clicking on the folder where the file existed, and selecting Properties. A new Previous Versions tab will be available if (a) the volume or share is enabled for shadow copy and (b) the client is running the appropriate client software. This software is located in the C:\WINDOWS\system32\clients\twclient\x86 directory, and can be installed en-masse using Group Policies, or on a single Administrative computer which can better monitor file restores.

Shadow copy is enabled within Computer Management in the Shares Section. All you need to do is right-click on the Shared Folders in the left pane, select All Tasks, and select Configure Shadow Copies. From there, you select the volume, click on the Enable button, and the system will proceed with the first shadow copy of the volume.

[tags]microsoft,diana huggins,shadow copy,volume backup,ntbackup[/tags]

The Salary History Request

Believe it or not, there are some companies that will request a salary history from a potential employee. They are considering making you an offer of employment but want to see how much you have earned at your past jobs. The company may use this information as the basis for the salary included in their offer. It is entirely up to you as to whether or not you provide this information to potential employers but before you do, consider this second opinion.

The salary you have earned at your previous jobs should be of no concern to a potential employer. They should not be using this information to decide what kind of compensation to offer you or as a means of determining what would be acceptable compensation to you. Employers should be looking at market value and geography when deciding on the salary amount to offer.

If you are absolutely forced to submit a salary history, be sure it is clear to the company that your previous salary should not be used as an indication of what you will consider an acceptable salary for the position at hand. Otherwise you may be selling yourself short.

[tags]diana huggins, salary history, career, job hunt[/tags]

Understand Duplex Modes

When talking about duplex modes, you are referring to how data is transmitted on a network. The duplex mode being used basically determines if the switch or device uses one-way or two-way communication. Most switches allow you to choose which duplex mode to use. For example, PowerConnect 3324/3348 series switches support both multiple duplex modes.

There are three different duplex modes:

  • Simplex
  • Half-duplex
  • Full duplex

Most networking devices will use either half-duplex or full-duplex.

Simplex Mode is used at the session layer of the Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) model. When a device is functioning in Simplex mode one node sends data only and another node receives only. In other words, communication is only one-way.

With Half-duplex communication is two-way, but only one direction at a time. In other words, only one node can send at a time. Each node then takes a turn sending and receiving data.

The third duplex mode is known as Full duplex. Communication is two-way and simultaneous. This means that both nodes can send and receive at the same time.

Most LANs will use half-duplex or full duplex. Half-duplex communication is similar to using a CBC radio. Only one person is allowed to communicate at once. Where as full-duplex communication is similar to communicating using a telephone. Each person can communicate simultaneously.

[tags]diana huggins,lan,duplex mode,data transmit,simplex mode[/tags]

Office XP's Detect And Repair

There will be moments when an application requires a little help to start functioning properly. Many people go directly to the Control Panel and the Add/Remove Programs applet to solve the problem. Using the Repair feature for the entire Microsoft Office installation may be overkill and doing a complete reinstallation is not necessary. All Microsoft Office Suite applications have a Detect and Repair option located on the Help menu. When this feature is executed from within Microsoft Word, it will verify the integrity of the installation for the application. The Detect and Repair option will only verify the application from which the command was launched. For example, if you launch the Detect and Repair option from within Word, it will not verify the integrity of Excel.

When resolving installation or customization problems for an individual application, the Detect and Repair option found within the application should be your first line of defense. The utility will verify and repair any files that have been corrupted and re-copy files that have been deleted. This is also a nifty trick to reset all customizations for an Office application. If multiple applications are crashing, then the Repair option from the Add/Remove Programs applet should be used.

The Detect and Repair option can be launched from the Help menu within any Office application. When using the Detect and Repair utility, there are two options to configure for the repair process. The first option allows you to restore missing shortcuts and the second will discard any customized settings. Use these features wisely, you may cause havoc in the power-user’s life if you remove all customized settings. However, keep this tidbit in mind for novice user’s that have decided to play with the application settings and inadvertently caused serious operational problems with the Office application. This is an effective way to reset all customization problems but should be used with caution. By default, Discard my customized settings and restore default settings is deselected.

Once you have configured the options, click the Start button to initiate the process. After the Detect and Repair wizard begins, you may be prompted for the installation media. To use this utility successfully, you must have access to the installation files. If the installation was performed over the network from an install point, you must have network connectivity. Conversely, if a CD-ROM was used to perform the installation then you must have the installation CD-ROM.

[tags]microsoft,diana huggins,office xp,detect and repair,verify integrity[/tags]

Understanding Port Mirroring

Administrators need to have some way of monitoring network traffic as well as the performance of a switch. One of the ways in which you can do this is through Port Mirroring. Port Mirroring works by forwarding a copy of all inbound and outbound packets from one port of a switch to another port (designated by an administrator).

To use Port Mirroring an administrator must specify from which port to copy inbound and outbound packets and to which port the packets will be sent to. A copy of every inbound and outbound packet destined for the first port will be sent to the second port as well. When configuring port mirroring you specify at least one source port, this being the port number from which traffic is copied and one destination port, this being the port to which traffic is copied.

A protocol analyzer is used on the port that receives a copy of the data. Traffic can be captured and analyzed this way without affecting normal operation of the switch.

Some switches are only capable of supporting one-to-one port mirroring. With one-to-one port mirroring, a copy of each incoming and outgoing packet for a single port only is to another port on the switch. This means there can only be a single source port. In a many-to-one relationship, multiple source ports can be configured to forward a copy of all inbound and outbound traffic to one destination port. Dell PowerConnect 3324, 3348, 5212, 5224, 6024 and 6024F switches provide support for many-to-one port mirroring.

[tags]windows,monitor,microsoft,diana huggins,network traffic,port mirroring[/tags]

Vista's Backup Function

Windows Vista includes a backup utility that provides enough functionality for most home and small office users. Windows Vista makes it easy to back up and restore by including both functions in a single window. To access the backup function, click Start, Control Panel, System and Maintenance, and select Backup and Restore Center.

Windows Vista presents two options for backing up your computer: Back up files and Back up computer. The first option, Back up files, is used to create backup copies of your files and folders. The second option, Back up computer, is used to create a Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore image of your entire computer. This can be used to recover from a hardware failure. Both of these options are designed to provide recovery and should be used together.

When you click the Back up files button, a wizard will prompt you to select a location to save your backup. You can choose a hard disk, CD, DVD or network location. Choose your backup locations and click Next. Now you can choose the files and folders that you want to back up, the frequency of the backup (such as daily), and the time of day when the backup should run. A general rule of thumb is to run your backups when your computer is not being used. Complete the wizard by clicking Save Settings and Start Backup.

Simply backing up your folders and files is not enough because this backup can not be used to restore your computer in the event of failure. The CompletePC Backup, on the other hand, makes a backup image of your entire computer. In the event of something such as hard drive failure, you can use the image backup to restore your computer. The image created includes applications, system settings, files as well as a backup of your boot volume and system volume.

To perform a system backup, click the Back up computer button within the Backup and Restore Center window. Choose the backup location and click Next. Click Save Settings and Start Backup.

[tags]diana huggins, vista, windows, backup, back up[/tags]

Configuring Text To Speech In XP (Part IV)

Troubleshooting can be a difficult task, especially if you have not worked with a specific technology before. When it comes to troubleshooting text-to-speech problems, there are a few points that you should keep in mind.

  • Use the Preview Text button from the Speech Properties dialog box to verify that the TTS engine.
  • Open the Utility Manager to check the status of the Narrator program.
  • If you do not hear any sound and you are using external speakers, make sure they are turned on.
  • Check the Master Volume dialog box to make sure that muting is not enabled.
  • Verify that the speakers are properly connected to the computer. You may need to check the documentation that came with the speakers for the proper procedure.
  • Use Device Manager to check the status of the computer’s sound card. If necessary, reinstall or update the drivers for the device.

Summary
XP includes built-in technology to make it more accessible for users that are blind or who have vision impairments. The Text-to-Speech engine can read text on the screen using a pre-generated voice. XP includes a default voice called Microsoft Sam. Other voices are available through third-party manufacturers.

You can hear your computer talk using the Narrator. This is the built-in text-to-speech utility that is included with XP. It is designed to work with common programs that come with XP such as Internet Explorer and WordPad. You can launch the utility by typing ‘Narrator’ using the Run command. The Narrator provides limited text-to-speech functionality, but third-party programs are available from various manufacturers.

[tags]text to speech, xp, tts, audio, computer generated, voice, diana huggins[/tags]

Configuring Text To Speech In XP (Part III)

XP includes its own TTS utility called the Narrator. If you require a TTS utility, keep in mind that it is limited in functionality. First of all, it is designed to work with a specific set of programs that includes Control Panel programs, Notepad, WordPad, Internet Explorer, Windows Setup, and the Windows desktop. This means it may not work for other programs. Second, the Narrator is only supported on the English version of XP.

To start the utility press CTRL + ESC, press R, type narrator, and press Enter. You can also configure the Narrator to start automatically each time you log onto the computer. Open the Utility Manager be pressing the Windows Key + U. Select Narrator and place a check beside the Start automatically when I log in option.

Once you open the Narrator, a dialog box will appear that lets you configure the Narrator to perform several different TTS functions that include:

  • Announce events on screen – The Narrator will read aloud new windows, menus, or shortcuts when they are displayed.
  • Read typed characters – The Narrator will read typed characters aloud.
  • Move mouse pointer to the active item – The mouse pointer will follow the active item that is on the screen.
  • Start Narrator minimized – This allows you to start the Narrator without seeing the dialog box. The utility is minimized.

The Narrator dialog box includes a Voice button that can be used to control voice settings. Voice settings for the Narrator include: Speed, Volume and Pitch. Once you have configured the appropriate values, click OK to return to the Narrator dialog box.

With the Narrator settings configured, your speakers turned on, and the volume turned up, you can minimize the Narrator dialog box, and XP will be ready to talk to you. Depending on how you have the Narrator configure, you should hear the pre-configured voice read the text that appears on your screen. For example, if you are working in Microsoft Word, the Narrator will repeat the text as you type. You can turn off the Narrator at any time by clicking Exit from the Narrator dialog box and clicking Yes when prompted.

[tags]text to speech, xp, tts, audio, computer generated, voice, diana huggins[/tags]

Configuring Text To Speech In XP (Part I)

XP includes many different features that make it accessible to all different types of users. One such feature is the Narrator which uses Text-to-Speech (TTS) technology to enable XP to play back printed text in a pre-recorded spoken voice. This can be very useful if there are users on the network who have vision impairments and difficulty reading the text that is displayed on the screen.

In this series of articles I will outline how you can configure Text-to-Speech in XP and then use the Narrator to read the text that is displayed on the screen. This article assumes that your computer is equipped with a sound card and speakers.

Text-to-Speech in XP
A sound card and speakers is all you need to make XP talk to you. This is because XP is capable of playing back text in a spoken voice. The technology is referred to as Text-to-Speech (TTS). Not only is this technology useful for a person with visual impairments, but it is also useful for someone who is working on multiple tasks at one time.

Text-to-Speech in XP is made possible through a built-in driver called the TTS engine that is able to recognize text. It can play displayed text back using a pre-generated voice. Although it is a very useful technology, the engine included with XP provides limited text-to-speech functionality. If you frequently use text-to-speech, you can download third-party engines from other manufacturers that will offer more functionality.

In any case, if you’ve decided that text-to-speech is something you’d like to try out, be sure to read the next installment in this series to learn how you can configure the TTS engine.

[tags]text to speech, xp, tts, audio, computer generated, voice, diana huggins[/tags]

Network Troubleshooting In XP (Part IV)

Network connection problems can be the result of a faulty network card or incorrect network card drivers. Unfortunately, the symptoms are never clear-cut, and often appear as intermittent connection problems. If you find that you are unable to connect to anything on the network, you need to focus more internally than elsewhere within the network.

Check the status of the network card. The status of the device will indicate whether the network card is functioning correctly.

The Device Manager provides a graphical view of the hardware that is currently installed on the computer. The device drivers and resources associated with that hardware are listed in the properties of each device. You can open the utility by right clicking on My Computer, selecting Properties, and clicking the Device Manager button from the Hardware tab.

If you have taken a peek in the Device Manager before, you may have noticed some kind of icon or mark beside one of your hardware components. Such a symbol would usually indicate that a device is not functioning correctly. However, the type of symbol will give you more of an indication as to what the problem might be. So here is a quick overview of the meaning behind these symbols.

A black exclamation point (!) on a yellow field – Indicates that the device is not functioning properly.

A red “X” – Indicates the device as been disabled.

A blue “i” on a white filed – Indicates the device was manually configured.

A green question mark (?) – Indicates that a compatible driver is installed but the device may not have all the functionality available.

From the list of hardware components, click the plus beside Network Adapters. If there is a red “X” or black “!” on the network card within Device manager, the drivers need to be reinstalled.

Device Manager is an invaluable tool for troubleshooting. Read more about Device Manager’s functionality in XP.

Reinstall the device drivers for the network card. It is always important to ensure that the correct drivers have been installed and that the drivers are up-to-date.

Manufacturers often update their drivers to fix problems and take advantage of operating system features. Updated drivers can be obtained from the manufacturer’s Web site. Some may also be available from Windows Update.

Before installing an updated driver, read the manufacturer’s instructions. Downloaded driver files are typically compressed into a self-executing file that needs to be extracted to your hard drive.

Because using the Device Manager is a convenient method to update existing drivers, follow these guidelines to install updated drivers:

  1. From the Device Manager, double-click the network card from the list of installed hardware.
  2. Click the Driver tab..
  3. Click Update Driver to open the Hardware Update Wizard.
  4. Accept the default option, Install the Software Automatically. Choose the Install from a List or Specific Location option if you have the updated driver so you can indicate the file location. Click Next.
  5. Windows searches for an updated driver and instructs you if an updated driver has been found. Install the updated driver and click Finish.

This article shows you how to use Device Manager in XP to troubleshoot device driver conflicts.

[tags]network, xp, windows, diana huggins, troubleshoot, wired[/tags]

Network Troubleshooting In XP (Part III)

There are three different ways that a system can obtain IP configuration information: someone manually assigns an IP address to the computer; the system is configured to obtain an IP address from a DHCP server; or the system is configured to locate a DHCP server, but doesn’t find one. In such cases, Automatic Private IP Addressing (APIPA) is used and the computer uses an IP address in the 169.254 range with a 255.255 subnet.

If you configured the network card with a static IP address, verify that all the parameters entered are correct. You can alter the settings through the Network Connections utility in the Control Panel. Right click the local area connection and click Properties. Select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), click Properties, and make the necessary adjustments.

If the current IP address is 169.254.x.x, you may have a problem: if DHCP is on the network, then you’re not getting there, which could mean a problem with you, or a problem with the DHCP server. Try IPCONFIG /RELEASE followed by IPCONFIG /RENEW. If you are configured to obtain an IP address automatically, the system will again look for a DHCP server. Run the IPCONFIG /ALL command again to verify that you have obtained an IP address from the DHCP server.

How to use automatic TCP/IP addressing without a DHCP server. Learn how to disable APIPA to make troubleshooting network connectivity easier.
Ipconfig. Brush up on the various parameters that can be used in conjunction with the ipconfig command.

Ping 127.0.0.1. Use the ping command to verify that TCP/IP is initialized on the local computer.

From the command prompt window, attempt to ping your local computer. This is done by pinging the loopback address of 127.0.0.1.

If you do not receive a success response from the computer’s loopback adapter, the TCP/IP stack is likely not working and must be reinstalled.

If you receive no response at all, verify that the network card is enabled. To do so, open the Network Connections utility in the Control Panel and right click your local area connection. If the Enable option appears on the context menu it means that the local area connection is in a disabled state. Click Enable to change the status.

Ping another computer. After receiving a successful response from the loopback adapter, your next step should be to ping the IP address of another computer on the same network as your computer.

If you do not receive a successful response, the problem is likely at the physical layer. Assuming that you have eliminated the cables as the source of the problem, the problem likely resides with the network card in your computer.

[tags]network, xp, windows, diana huggins, troubleshoot, wired, ping, Automatic Private IP Addressing, APIPA[/tags]

Network Troubleshooting In XP (Part II)

In the previous installment of this article, we looked at one aspect of network troubleshooting. Now we’ll look at specific network settings that can cause network problems and how to troubleshoot them.

Incorrect network settings can result in a loss of network connectivity. The steps used to determine if your network settings are the cause of the problem is probably the single most frequent troubleshooting process that any user will go through, so it’s important to understand what’s going on so that you can get a better idea of what choices are made along the way.

Disable ICF and ICS. Enabling Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) or Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) on the connection used to connect to the network will result in connectivity problems.

To disable ICS, open the Network Connections utility in the Control Panel. Right click the local area connection and click Properties. Remove the check beside the option to Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection.

To disable ICF, click the Settings button under Windows Firewall from the Local Area Connection Properties window. Click the button beside the Off (not recommended) option and click OK.

Use the IPCONFIG /ALL command. To verify the IP settings for the network card, type IPCONFIG /ALL at the command prompt.

XP uses TCP/IP as the default networking protocol. Each system that runs TCP/IP must have a unique IP address and appropriate subnet mask in order to communicate properly. In order for a system to further communicate with systems outside of the local area network such as on the internet or on other subnets, a default gateway must be assigned, and a DNS Server address assigned as well.

[tags]network, xp, windows, diana huggins, troubleshoot, wired, ICF, Internet Connection Firewall, ICS, Enabling Internet Connection Sharing[/tags]