Sending DNS notify messages (update notifications) using Ruby

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Sun, 01/20/2008 - 15:49.

… is actually easy thanks to Dnsruby. The following code illustrates that:

( categories: Ruby | Unix | Web Servers | Windows )

Quickly enable/disable default gateway for VPN on Windows

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Thu, 01/10/2008 - 14:53.

Whether a VPN connection has the "Use default gateway on remote network" option enabled has big impact on how network traffic from your machine is routed.

( categories: Windows | Administrator | Dummy )

Windows Vista's DNS server priority issues in VPNs

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Thu, 12/27/2007 - 18:27.

Today I ran into a subtle issue regarding the order in which Windows Vista queries connection-specific DNS servers. I tested a setup with a PPTP VPN server that also provides DNS name resolution services to its VPN clients. For that purpose I ran both a BIND 9 name server and a Poptop PPPD daemon on the same box. It is dual-homed, i.e. one interface is the private interface of the VPN tunnel endpoint and the other one is the public Ethernet interface through which the server is linked to the internet. I configured BIND to listen on both interfaces.

( categories: Unix | Windows | Administrator )

True Geo-IP country geolocation for Google Urchin 5 statistics

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Thu, 12/15/2005 - 08:58.

If you are a user of Urchin 4 or 5 you might have noticed that Urchin’s “Countries” report does not match the standards that Urchin has set for professional website statistics.  It seems to be Urchin’s weak spot.  It might be ok for you but I was certainly disappointed when I discovered that Urchin determines (or should I rather say: attempts to determine) a visitor’s location from a database that is derived from reverse DNS lookups. This type of location reporting can hardly be considered state-of-the-art, even less so for a commercial website log file analytics application. This article is about how Urchin 5 can be fooled into using true Geo IP mappings for its Countries report.

( categories: Unix | Windows | Webmaster )

Urchin 5 and dynamic URLs with query parameters/arguments

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Tue, 12/06/2005 - 16:14.

Urchin is a professional web log analysis and statistics application. It was recently acquired by Google and what used to be called Urchin 6 On Demand is now being integrated into Google Analytics. I don’t know for how long the stand-alone Urchin 5 will be around but right now it is still used by many individuals and corporations. I was not happy with the way Urchin deals with dynamic URLs, i.e. URLs that have query parameters in them. After playing around with Urchin 5's advanced filters for a while, I came to the conclusion that they can be employed to improve Urchin's dynamic URL handling.

( categories: Unix | Windows | Webmaster )

Visual SourceSafe 2005 Internet and IIS Setup

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Mon, 12/05/2005 - 18:28.

One might think that it wouldn't be so difficult to setup Visual SourceSafe 2005 on Windows Server 2003 with IIS such that users can access the SourceSafe database using the Visual SourceSafe 2005 Internet plugin. But dude, I was so wrong! I managed to get it working in the end but it took me an etire day. Anyway, this isn't a complete HowTo. I would just like to point out a few not so obvious caveats.

( categories: Windows | Administrator | Programmer )

VMWare: Migrating Windows XP and 2000 to a Virtual Machine

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Sun, 10/02/2005 - 19:38.

The other day I decided that I wanted to switch my laptop's German language version of Windows XP to the English language version. I could have reinstalled Windows XP from scratch but that would have meant losing all my settings and configurations and, since I have fine-tuned my system, many hours of work would have gone down the drain. Furthermore, I wanted to maintain the German version for certain tasks. What to do?

( categories: VMware | Windows | Administrator )

Moving Software Installation Packages between Group Policies

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Thu, 09/08/2005 - 19:21.

Let's skip the introduction. You probably googled this article anyway, so you'll know what I'm talking about. This is the scenario: You use group policies to publish or assign software packages (usually Windows Installer MSI) to your Windows workstations. At some point it would be convenient to move a package from one group policy to another, without triggering a complete reinstallation.

( categories: Windows | Administrator )

How to disable USB sticks and limit access to USB storage devices on Windows systems

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Sat, 08/20/2005 - 09:50.

USB storage - a possible security risk?

Decent IT administrators secure their networks behind firewalls. They install mail filters on their SMTP servers and deploy anti-virus software on all client workstations. But securing the network is not sufficient -- what happens if the users bring their own USB memory sticks and connect them to the computers at their office? A 1 Gb USB stick can sometimes hold an entire company's vital data. Within minutes or even seconds an employee has all the files they need in order to start up their own business and take all the customers with them. Alternatively, what happens if a careless user accidentally compromises the network with an infected USB stick?

( categories: Windows | Administrator )

Fainted: Reinitializing the (Non-)Authoritative File Replication Service (FRS, NTFRS) Database on Windows 2000 Servers

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Thu, 03/17/2005 - 16:11.

I post this for people who have had the same experience so they do not panic like I did.

The Symptoms

Yesterday one of my Windows Domain Controllers became inaccessible. Users were not able to login to their workstations and I even couldn't log into the server using my admin credentials. The server would not recognize the admin account so I guessed Active Directory must have been down. I had to shutdown the box completely and impolitely using the reset button. After that I did the usual routine checks in order to verify that things were running smoothly. But things weren't at all ok. After the restart, the File Replication Service could not play back its JET database logs and it started an non-authoritative restore (although it didn't say that).

( categories: Windows | Administrator )

Adding drivers to RIS images without RIPrep (Windows XP and Windows 2000)

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Sat, 11/13/2004 - 17:30.

25.07.2006: Fixed typos (RIPrep and RISetup confusion in section Putting a driver into a RIS image).

The other day, a new machine arrived at the office. Although it was a fast and sexy Dell Optiplex SX280, I dreaded going through the setup and installation procedure; maybe because I live in a dream world. In my personal administrators’ dream world, when a new desktop computer arrives the hardest task is trying to get your signature right on that funny brown handheld computer that the UPS dude hands you after dropping the box. That’s because in my dream world I use a fleet of tools and technologies that MS refers to as IntelliMirror. In a nutshell, IntelliMirror equals RIS plus AD plus Windows Installer. I won't tell you all the gory details about these; rather, for the remainder of this article I'll assume that you have used RIS before.

( categories: Windows | Administrator )