Archive for the ‘Tool Thursday’ Category

Blackberry Enterprise Server Express (BESx)

Last month Blackberry released a much anticipated Express version of BES which is targets for Small and Medium Businesses just like the ones Apex supports. This provides all of the key features most of our clients are looking for a absolutely no licensing cost. Here is my quick review/comparison of both BES & Express; along with why I prefer Blackberry over the competition.

Blackberry Enterprise Server Express

  • 100% FREE for both the license and CALS; does not require a SQL Standard license
  • Support Exchange Server 2003/ 2007 and SBS 2003/2008
  • Supports up to 75 users when installed on the Exchange Server
  • Supports up to 2,000 users when installed on a dedicated server
  • Requires ONLY the Standard Data Plan (BIS) from the cell provider, and does not require the more expensive enterprise data plan
  • The biggest feature difference between BES and BES-Express is that there is a limit to 35 policies, versus 450+ policies for management
  • Missing features that we don’t typically use is high availability (multiple BES servers) and advanced monitoring

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Tech Tool: Notepad++

Editing configuration files can be part of an everyday task for system administrators. Many of us are familiar with notepad as a basic text editor. However, what if you need a tool with  a bit more power, but still remains true to a text editor? Enter, Notepad++ which is a Open Source / GPL Licensed product which is free to use and works great.

The three features I use the most are:

  1. Automatic line numbering
  2. Zoom in/out without needing to change the font size
  3. Search and replace feature

After using this product for years, there is nothing that I would change about the product, it simply works great. There have been no downsides to the product. When performing more complex coding in VBScript, Powershell, ASP/ASPX or PHP, I often will choose an application specific editor, but for quick fixes/edits, Notepad++ works wonders. And it is also very fast.


Tools: TrIDNet

Ever wonder what a application a mystery file belongs to. Beyond simple extension identification, TrIDNet compares the content of the file against a list of 3700 known file types to provide a better match for your file.

DSL & TCP/IP Overhead

While researching for our online backup solution, Digital Umbrella to come up with a better calculator for estimating transfer time, here is a great article I came across which does a great job at explaining TCP/IP overhead, and why you should only achieve between 1305 kbps to 1338 kbps download over a 1500 kbps line.


ESXi Monitoring with Veeam

veeam-monitorA great free tool (with a commercial counterpart) I experimented with today was Monitor from Veeam. It provides the ability to view multiple ESXi instances without purchasing virtual center. Now VMware’s virtual center does provide you alot more features and tools. But with Monitor you can view the resources of every ESXi server in your environment.

The following features make this a great tool to checkout:

Performance monitoring: Comprehensive data on resource consumption and workload, from vCenter, ESX/ESXi host, and complete down to the individual VM. Real time data consolidated in one place.

Hardware monitoring: Provides a complete picture of your datacenter, through CIM/SMASH API – track everything from temperature and fan speed, to ventilation, power and more – eliminating the need for service console based hardware monitoring agents.

Correlation of event and performance data: See all of your datacenter activities on a single page, in real time. No need to switch between different virtual machines, hosts or vCenters – all information in under one easy to modify view.

User interface optimized for monitoring: The interface was designed with monitoring, not control in mind.

With all of these features at a price you cannot pass up, you really should try it out today:
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Nessus Security Scanner

NessusLogoTool Thursday: Nessus Security Scanner

This is an excellent professional tool you should add to your toolbox if you’re serious about vulnerability scanning and auditing your own work. This tool is pretty pricey for the individual technician, but is free for personal (non commerical, non consulting) work. There is also volume licenising available. As always, please respect the legal restrictions – solo consultants, don’t use the free license key.

The primary difference between the professional and free version is the time interval at which they release updated definition files for specific vulnerabilities. The professional also adds some wonderful reporting tools not available in the free release. Download it today and check it out at:

This is a great tool to audit and check your network from both outside and inside of your network – also be sure you’re using to only scan networks your authorized to check as the activity from Nessus will certainly trigger a host of firewall alarms at the target site.


BitLocker to Go in Windows 7

Man lean on padlock. 3d rendered illustration.For the enterprise customer one of the greatest integrated features in Windows Vista was the new BitLocker technology. However it was limited to only encrypting the local hard drives. Now, in Windows 7, Microsoft has introduces BitLocker to Go, which is a form of BitLocker for mobile/removable media. It enables full drive encryption with either smartcard authentication or password protection. The password can be separate than your network logon credentials, and also can have their own password policies applied gia Group Policy. Even more, it is backward compatible with prior versions of Microsoft Windows, however the data is read-only. To write data to a BitLocker to Go disk, you must be running Windows 7.

And as with Encrypted File System (EFS) back in Windows 2000, you’ll need to carefully plan your data recovery system should a user forget their password. Just as with EFS you can utilize a recovery key, but you must configure and enforce this in advance. Otherwise, if you do not intentionally set this up the users can begin using BitLocker without a recovery key and risk loosing data if they forget their password for the drive. This is especially risky since you can enable your local computer to remember the password, so really the only time you’ll use the password is when attempting to access the drive from another system. From this standpoint, it may be a good idea to configure GPO now for the Windows 7 .admx files to prohibit BitLocker to Go until a formal policy can be established.