Archive for April 2008

Office Upgrade to Windows Vista (Part 4)

April 29, 2008

It’s been about two weeks since we did the cut-over to Windows Vista I wrote about earlier. So far everything is running smoothly, I have to say I really do like the UAC for blocking people from installing crap onto the systems (either intentionally or accidentally) Since the cut over, I have had to put in the UAC credentials a total of 5 times. That’s for all of the systems, 5 total. Not too bad for the benefits.

The only issues that need to be worked out still are the QuickBooks 2008 updates. When QB updates it triggers the UAC prompt. So far we’ve worked around this with a scheduled process where an admin does weekly updates to QB to make sure they’re up to date and users aren’t bothered. Since the QB Server has to be manually updated anyway (a really stupid decision not to have automatic updates for the server!) it’s just a little extra time to hit the workstations and update them. It’s a low priority issue but one we’re going to look into other alternatives for.

The one other issue we ran into, which has nothing to do with Vista, is that the old server that was hosting QB is showing it’s age and was dog slow with the new version. The system doesn’t meet the min-requirements so I can’t complain about it…we knew this going into things but agreed it was worth a try. The quick fix is that we have the QB server running on a dedicated workstation for the moment until a new server is ready in the next month or two.

Remote system stats

April 20, 2008

At our last Palm Beach IT meeting we talked about PowerShell and some of the great things it allows you to accomplish. Here’s a site that actually shows what we talked about, monitoring systems remotely using PowerShell & MRTG. The WSMAN Instrumentation Examples page uses MRTG to graph the PowerShell stats but we had also talked about using PowerGadgets for a nicer looking dashboard.

Office Upgrade to Windows Vista (Part 3)

April 17, 2008

Added all the Vista systems to the SBS2003 domain today, no problems after following the Microsoft KB steps. All user docs are available as the documents were previously redirected to the server, only had to move over the users Favorites.

The one issue I’ve seen with Vista so far that we need to address is QuickBooks updates. When QuickBooks downloads updates and wants to install them, it prompts the user for Admin rights to do so. One one hand I think it sucks but on the other I’m glad it prevents apps from installing as it makes the IT life that much easier in the long run. Haven’t had a chance to look into options on this yet but if there’s not an option to allow QB to update without admin rights we’ll solve the issue by a simply policy: Set QB updates to download to the server so they’re ready to go and have a planned update schedule. The latter also has the added benefit as the QB server does not automatically update (Stupid design from Intuit if you ask me!) so we can make sure all the systems remain on the same update by having a scheduled update time.

Office Upgrade to Windows Vista (Part 2)

April 16, 2008

Out of the box and initial setup:

Unpacked the systems and went through their initial setup. I have to say I don’t understand the logic behind the amount of plastic used to ship computers. Why is it necessary to put the entire monitor cable, connected to the monitor, in a plastic sleeve with twist ties down the entire length? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to just fold the cord into a small plastic bag or even better, just leave off the plastic all together? It’s not like there’s a whole lot in the box that’s going to rub against it and leave marks on the black power cable that no one is going to see!

Other than the excitement of removing a couple hundred plastic bags, nothing major for the initial setup. Went through the Windows updates to get the systems up to current updates and ready to go. Still to do today will be to double check the server that all required updates are in place for SBS2003 to allow Vista systems to join the domain.

Tomorrow will be adding the systems to the domain and making sure users have access to all required applications as well as doing a test run of upgrading the QuickBooks data from the old 2005 version to 2008 on the new systems.

Office Upgrade to Windows Vista (Part 1)

April 15, 2008

I’m sure the debate on how good/bad Windows Vista is will be going on for some time but I wanted to document the process of upgrading an office to Windows Vista to see how it goes.

The Background:
The current systems being upgraded are all running Windows 2000 and are joined to an SBS  2003 domain. The primary reason for the upgrade is that the physical hardware is too old to run some of the LOB software we are upgrading to. Although the business owner has repeatedly stated the systems are fine, the fact that the new LOB will not install on them forced the decision to upgrade (much to the relief of myself and the users.)

To give an example of how slow the old systems were, when entering data in QuickBooks, you could type a description out and then watch the screen as the letters would slowly appear l…..i…..k….e….i….t…..w….a…s….a….t….e…l…e…g…r…a…p…h… instead of a computer! I think the improvement to employee time alone justifies the upgrade of the computers and I think the owner will agree once all is said and done.

Not getting noticed is good in IT

April 13, 2008

I think this comical sign sums it up for the IT field:

Author Unknown

If you do your job in the IT field, no one should notice any problems or drastic changes to the way they do business. Unless you are an IT shop, people just want technology to work and not have to spend time or money on it.

We’re just kicking off the first in a six phase upgrade for outdated computers. While this first phase will upgrade old Windows 2000 systems to Vista and improve the employees time use (by literally not having to wait for characters to appear onscreen several seconds after typing them) the only comment on the whole process has been about how much money the computers cost and why the $240 systems from Walmart wouldn’t work. So while the tech side gets that warm feeling that they’ve done a good job and made things better, no one seems to notice. But that’s usually a good thing in this business.

Pause in PowerShell script

April 9, 2008

While putting together a demo for PowerShell the other day, I wanted to setup a script that would run each section of my demo without having to run a new script for each one (Lazy Admin in training!) Here’s a simple little function that replicates the old DOS based Pause command from the PowerShell Team Blog.

function Pause ($Message=”Press any key to continue…”)
{
Write-Host -NoNewLine $Message
$null = $Host.UI.RawUI.ReadKey(”NoEcho,IncludeKeyDown”)
Write-Host “”
}