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Michael Francis


Michael Francis

See, Manage, Relax

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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 […]

27 July 2010 8:25 am by
Michael Francis

2010 Pseudo-Archiving

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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 […]

5 July 2010 2:12 pm by
Michael Francis

Overload Avoidance

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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 […]

3 June 2010 9:23 am by
Michael Francis

F1 Pit Pragmatics

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“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 […]

7 May 2010 7:29 am by
Michael Francis

Some Problems Can’t Be Outsourced

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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 […]

7 April 2010 10:05 am by
Michael Francis

The Politics of Junk Filtering

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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. […]

11 March 2010 9:40 am by
Michael Francis

SMTP POP3 & PST. Acronyms from Hades.

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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 […]

12 February 2010 9:11 am by
Michael Francis

Six years older in a day

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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 […]

14 January 2010 8:52 am by
Michael Francis

The ClimateGate Debate Warms Up

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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 smörgåsbord […]

17 December 2009 5:51 am by
Michael Francis

We’re not Reflex-Upgraders.

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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; […]

19 November 2009 10:58 am by
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