Michael Francis is the Simple Talk Exchange Editor. Michael has 15 years’ experience in editing, writing, and marketing covering a broad spectrum of topics and publications. He has edited technical patents and chemistry journals, written for publications ranging from New Scientist to Pest Control News, and marketed scientific modeling software, machine-to-machine connectivity, and SQL Server and Exchange Server tools. In his spare time Michael enjoys cricket, natural history, camping, and getting beaten at football by his children.

27 July 2010

See, Manage, Relax

There’s no rest for the wicked. Or the SysAdmin, it seems. Either your infrastructure is evolving, your pesky users are throwing spanners in the works, or your first visit to a new client reveals a mind-bending mess of policies and PST files which would make M.C Escher’s head spin. Take a moment and ask yourself … Read more
05 July 2010

2010 Pseudo-Archiving

You’ve probably gathered that Exchange Server 2010 has introduced the “personal archive”. It sounds exciting, but it is essentially just a second user-accessible mailbox, designed to take the storage pressure off primary mailboxes. This certainly addresses some of the email storage and archiving issues we’re facing, but it’s still just a first-draft solution, and a … Read more
03 June 2010

Overload Avoidance

A little under a year ago, Matt Simmons wrote a rather reflective article about his terrifying brush with stress-induced ill health. SysAdmins and DBAs have always been prime victims of work-related stress, but I wonder if that predilection is perhaps getting worse, despite the best efforts of Matt and his trusty side-kick, HR. The constant … Read more
07 May 2010

F1 Pit Pragmatics

“I hate computers. No, really, I hate them. I love the communications they facilitate, I love the conveniences they provide to my life. but I actually hate the computers themselves.” – Scott Merrill, ‘I hate computers: confessions of a Sysadmin’ If Scott’s goal was to polarize opinion and trigger raging arguments over the ‘real reasons … Read more
07 April 2010

Some Problems Can’t Be Outsourced

More and more companies are becoming attracted to the idea of Infrastructure as a Service (or IaaS). It would seem that you can outsource the provisioning and management of your services, encompassing everything from Email, through to your servers, workstations and software, all the way down to your LAN and internet services. This type of … Read more
11 March 2010

The Politics of Junk Filtering

If the national postal service, such as the Royal Mail in the UK, were to go through your letters and throw away all the stuff it considered to be junk instead of delivering it to you, you might be rather pleased until you discovered that it took a too liberal decision about what was junk. … Read more
12 February 2010

SMTP POP3 & PST. Acronyms from Hades.

A busy SysAdmin will occasionally have reason to curse SMTP. It is, certainly, one of the strangest events in the history of IT that such a deeply flawed system, designed originally purely for campus use, should have reached its current dominant position. The explanation was that it was the first open-standard email system, so SMTP/POP3 … Read more
14 January 2010

Six years older in a day

After the much-hyped millennium bug failed to do much damage, nobody was really expecting a ‘Decennium’ ‘Y2K16’ or ‘Decade-change’ bug. At the beginning of January, there were some embarrassing failures. The most publicized failure occurred in Germany where 25 million German bank cards were rejected. Not to be outdone, the card-reading system provided by the … Read more
17 December 2009

The ClimateGate Debate Warms Up

Whatever else one concludes from reading the ‘ClimateGate’, or ‘CRUtape’ files, it is a fascinating archive for System Administrators to study. Despite the lurid and absurd tales from the established media of sinister Russian hackers intercepting emails, it is obviously nothing of the sort. It is merely a zip file that consists of a smörgÃ¥sbord … Read more
19 November 2009

We’re not Reflex-Upgraders.

The reality of life in the server room isn’t always as it is imagined at Microsoft. We’re not reflex-upgraders. Many administrators harbour the guilty secret of a server contentedly puttering away in the corner, with an aging application running SQL Server 6.5 on Windows NT. In many such cases any thought of upgrade is unrealistic; … Read more
22 October 2009

Virtual disks for the flop-buster

Vista Service Pack 3, as we like to call Windows 7, is worth getting if you are stuck with Vista.  Why?  Well, Vista was Microsoft’s first real product failure since Windows ME.  Windows 7 repairs the damage. It is not as fast as good old XP Service Pack 3, but it is easier to escape … Read more
24 September 2009

Water Pity: Planning for the Worst

Few SysAdmins would have watched the recent Youtube video of the sudden flooding of Vodafone’s data center In Ãstanbul (Istanbul), Turkey, without feeling considerable alarm. A CCTV camera captures the moment when employees start to respond to the fact that the floor is covered with a thin smear of water, and continues to records impassively … Read more
28 August 2009

When the Law Moves More Slowly than the Problem

Emails are causing problems. Based on a survey of 220 large US companies in 2008, 43% reported that they had investigated an email-based leak of confidential information, and nearly a third had terminated the employment of an employee for violating company email policies. Over a third of the companies were so concerned about the loss … Read more
30 July 2009

Why Archive Email?

It is easy for IT People to forget the long time-span that some businesses have to work to. It is not uncommon now to find Companies that are keeping, and referring to, emails that are at least fifteen years old. In fact, the IT Industry seems to be on the extreme low end when it … Read more
07 July 2009

The ‘Evidential Weight’ of Emails

In European, and American law, there is a wisdom that can, on first glance, look perverse. You take a digital photo of a person vandalizing your car. You then give the image to the police. They shake their heads and have to tell you that, although it suggests strongly to them who the perpetrator is, … Read more
18 June 2009

Exchange 2007 and the GUI Mess

There’ve been a lot of interesting articles about PowerShell on Simple-Talk lately, but when I brought the topic up in conversation with our SysAdmin here at Red Gate, I discovered that not all technical masterminds think in command-line statements. I asked Simon if he could explain his thoughts in a guest editorial, and here’s what … Read more
19 May 2009

We finally did it!

We’ve finally done it! We’ve released our Exchange archiving tool after 18 months of research, development, usability studies and testing. 219,115 Lines of code 19,485  Subscribers to Simple Talk Exchange 15,144  Words of documentation 2713    Builds 1709    Issues closed 1289    Bugs fixed 300     Sales leads 290     Members of the SysAdmin Network 248 … Read more

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