Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Exchange Performance Tuning

Since I am an Exchange guy, here are some of my tips and links on how to squeeze all of the juice out of an Exchange 2003 Server. Note: before you make any changes, make sure that you have full backups of the system, have a stable environment, and test these changes on a non-production system before implementing. Here are just two ways to improve the performance of the Exchange Server.

Setting the /3gb switch

If the server is running Windows 2003 and Exchange 2003, and the server has more than 1gb of physical memory, then the server should be configured to allow better use of virtual memory.

  • Configure the Boot.ini to have the following settings:
    • /3GB /USERVA=3030

An example would be:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows Server 2003" /fastdetect /3GB  /USERVA=3030

The /USERVA switch is new to Windows Server 2003 and provides better granularity for splitting memory allocations between user mode and kernel mode. This behavior lets you scale the server to a greater number of users without the risk of exhausting system resources. By using /USERVA=3030, an additional 42 megabytes (MB) of memory is allocated to the kernel for page table entries (PTEs). However, this value may need more tuning. You can monitor the PTE consumption by using Performance Monitor. The object to monitor is Free System Page Table Entries. If values that are less than 7000 are observed, the value of 3030 must be reduced because the system is unstable. If the value is less that 20,000, reduce the value in 64-MB steps until values that are greater than 20,000 are observed.” -;en-us;823440

Setting the HeapDeCommitFreeBlockThreshold

Using Regedt32, configure the “HeapDeCommitFreeBlockThreshold” value in the “HKLM/System/CurrentControlSet/Control/Session Manager/” registry key to be “0x00040000”

When memory is freed at a given address, the heap manager checks how many contiguous bytes are free around that address. After that check is complete, the heap manager can do one of two things:

Keep the contiguous memory block committed.

Decommit the contiguous memory block and mark it as reserved only.

The HeapDecommitFreeBlockThreshold registry key specifies the number of contiguous bytes above which the memory is decomitted (the second option) rather than retained for reuse (the first option).

On computers that have less than one gigabyte of RAM, do not use the HeapDecommitFreeBlockThreshold registry key unless intense memory fragmentation is occurring.” -;en-us;315407

Just by adding a couple of key modifications, you can increase your performance significantly. Here are some helpful links to increase performance, troubleshoot, and test the Exchange Server (and the environment).

Helpful Links:

Performance and Scalability Guide for Exchange Server 2003

Exchange Server 2003 Performance Tools

Optimizing Memory Usage in Exchange Server 2003

Monday, March 27, 2006

Water Powered Electronics

I was looking on ThinkGeek’s ( website to spend some hard earned money on a new geek toy. I came across this calculator that is powered by water. cap full of water in the H2O battery can power the calculator for up to 3 months” - The item is on clearance, but what a cool idea. I know that I have often been looking for a calculator, then found one (often from my high school days) that has dead batteries. I just love ThinkGeek, they often have the weirdest things that is just plain cool. They also have a water powered clock or the water powered multifunction alarm clock, both items are not on clearance. ( and

Check out the ThinkGeek website to service your “geekly” needs.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Stock Market - Just my opinions

This is for informational purposes only. The information contained in this blog does not constitute a recommendation or suggestion to purchase a stock.

As most of my close friends, and a few co-workers, know that I am into buying and selling stock. So, this blog entry is about the latest stocks that I have chosen to invest into and should not be considered fact or suggestions into your own investment plan. These are just a few stocks that I am interested in. I find it lots of fun to take a hundred and invest it into a stock. I am not staying that I am a guru into the stock market nor a serious investor. I do have lots of shares in Disney and Microsoft (just to name a few), but I generally leave it up to my broker to invest my serious cash. I am just talking about some fun money, nothing that I am going to loose sleep over or miss a meal. I like penny or cheaper stock (under $20 per share), since I want to get more than just one share. I have had some winners like Sirius and some losers like Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (I love their doughnuts, though). But, it is all for fun and I do not plan on selling the stock anytime in the near future.

Some of my current investments are Delta Airlines (DALRQ), ACM Income Fund (ACG), IVoice (IVOC), and Ecuity Inc (ECUIE). Both IVoice and Ecuity are technology penny stocks with very high risks attached. But, (In my opinion) the companies are sound or have a product that actually has value, unlike some other companies that will remain unmentioned. Here is a little information about these two companies for those who are interested.

Ecuity Advanced Communications, Inc. is a provider of secure end-to-end communication technologies for individual and small / medium business markets. Ecuity develops secure next-generation voice services to meet the communication needs of today's competitive business environment. As a facilities-based carrier, Ecuity has operated as a traditional CLEC telephone company for 17 years, providing service to thousands of customers across the country.” -

iVoice, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets innovative speech-enabled applications and computer telephony communications systems. Using the latest technology available in Speech Recognition, Text-to Speech, and Digital Connectivity, iVoice products are designed to be simple for the end user to maintain and provide a cohesive system to access messaging systems by providing a single, integrated solution capable of processing thousands of interactions per hour, including telephone calls, e-mails, and voice mail messages all through the use of a spoken voice.” -

Even though I have lost “potential” gains with both of these stocks, I would have to say, in my opinion that I believe in their products. However, stock investing is risky and should only be played if you are willing to potentially lose your investment. I find that investing is fun and doing research into a company is stimulating, but it is not for everyone.

If you want me to post more on this subject, leave me feedback.

Game Review - Doom 3

Well, after finally sitting down and loading Doom3, I would have to say that this game is just “Okay”. Graphics are nicely done, but the game play is just not there. It is very repetitious, walk into an area, kill everything that moves, pickup a PDA (key), open a door, kill everything that moves, pickup a PDA…see a pattern. The puzzles were not challenging at all and the “bad guys” are not hard to kill at all (in normal mode). It is nothing like Half-Life 2, were the enemies actually hunt you down (even on normal mode). The other thing is that everything is so dark, half the time I was shooting a desk, just because I could not make out what it actually was. The thing that drove me nuts, was switching from my flashlight to a gun. Why not attach the flashlight to the machine gun or be able to shoot the pistol, while holding your flashlight. I do not feel that this game has the replay value that other first-person shooters have, such as HL2 or Quake.

I would have to say that the game was nice to look at, okay to play – once, and will go back on the shelf to collect dust.

2 out of 5 stars.

Friday, March 17, 2006

How to defrag a Virtual Server

I have had several responses about "How do I defrag a virtual server image?" or the one that I loved.. "Do you mean defrag of the system volume?" As a general rule, you should always defrag your system volume frequently. I find that monthly for my work system and weekly for my game system is good for what I need. By the nature of Windows, when it boots, the system becomes fragmented. Save frequently, Save Often and Defrag often.

A lot of the performance issues we can experience with Virtual PC are the result of drive fragmentation. These steps will defrag your Virtual PC hard drive, compress it to a smaller file size, and optimize its location on the host drive.

How to Defrag:

1. Defrag your Virtual drive.

a. Launch the Virtual Machine, log in as an administrator

b. Remove any Installation temporary folders or un-needed folders

c. Empty the Recycle Bin

d. Go to Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools and run Disk Defrag

e. This can take 10 minutes to 30 minutes to run

f. Do this at least 3 teams, until it defrags quickly

2. "Zero out" your Virtual Drive ( Download the updated add-ons)

3. Compact your Virtual Drive

a. Shut down any running Virtual PCs

b. Under the Virtual PC console, select “File” then “Virtual Disk Wizard”

c. Select “Examine or Modify existing disk image”

d. Select the disk image file you wish to compact

e. Select “Compact the disk image”

f. Select “Use original file” (or a separate file if you require)

g. Finishing the Wizard will compact the file. This may take a long time

4. Defrag your host drive (the one the .VHD files are sitting on)

a. Shut down all applications on your host.

b. On your host go to Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools and run Disk Defrag

c. Do this at least 3 times as well - until it defrags quickly


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Exchange Server User Monitor

Ever wonder why some people get that little pop-up in outlook “trying to contact exchange server” or why it takes several minutes to download that attachment? Here is a tool that evaluates and gathers real-time data about the users in the environment. It will tell you about current client usage patterns and who are the offending users of high traffic on the Exchange Server.

Exmon is capable of showing information such as IP addresses used by clients, Outlook versions and mode, CPU usage, and Server-side latency. You can also export the data collected to Excel, Access or SQL, for reporting. This will give a person the ability to take a baseline, plan ahead for upgrades or help in troubleshoot issues.

This is a really a cool tool for Admins that need help in troubleshooting delays in Exchange / Outlook. Here is where you can get it.

Vampire: Bloodlines

Let me just begin by saying that this is a mature game with adult content. This game is defiantly not for kids or people offended by language, grotesque violence, gore, sex, or prostitution. The graphics are based on the Half-Life 2 engine with the same physics logic. I ran it in High-Res with a 256meg GF4 card, it looks gorgeous. I absolutely love this game, not just for the content, but the game play is great. You can play male or female, I usually play female. Then you can have the system select a vampire clan for you (based on a series of questions) or pick and configure yourself. Each clan has special abilities that are really fun to try out on unsuspecting humans. Oh, no killing innocents, that is a bad. Also, you can not use your powers in front of the common public that too is bad. Now, in the beginning, you some normal Joe-blow human that gets “involved” with a vampire, while you are being “intimate”, she/he bites you. Then you are put on trial in front of the Prince of LA. He kills the vampire that bites you in a big show of force, and then you are dropped off in Santa Monica. You do missions to gain experience, money and try out your new abilities. If you ever need a quick fix, you can either follow a human into a dark alley or find a hooker on a street corner.

There are 4 areas that you travel between, Santa Monica, Downtown LA, Hollywood, and China Town. All have lots to do and other people / vampires to talk to. You can seduce some people that you encounter, using them to satisfy your blood craving. If you play the game right, there is even a way that you get to have sex with this vampire named Janette. As I played this game the first time, I found a saying running through my head from X-Files… “Trust No one” – Fox Mulder

5 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 13, 2006


Generally, I listen to an internet streaming radio stations at work (yes, I have turned my state of the art PC into a radio). It is really not a good idea to have an mp3 collection on a work system. But, that is between you and your company’s legal department. I like Shoutcast (, just for the fact that I can use my winamp player and not windows media player. I use media player for other things, such as listening to voicemail on my PC.

How many times have you been listening to a great alternative or rock song and then having the next song be some piece of RAP-CRAP!!!! As you can tell, I am not a fan of rap. So many times I have been listening to a radio station that plays some great music, just to be crushed. However, I found a new way of listening to music at work. It is certainly not new. Yahoo “My Station” Internet Radio, ( is a place where you can put together a collection of songs, artists, and/or albums. It plays music that I choose and sometimes throws in a group that fits your genera and preferences. But, you can have them never play that song or group again by the click of a button. Here is the best part, it is free. I like free… There is a cost though. You have to deal with these Yahoo sponsored ads every so often. But, if you pay them $3 a month, the ads go away.

For all those interested in a music station that plays mainly alternative music, please feel free to listen and enjoy. ( I will try to keep it from “sucking”.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It is snowing… Hold on a sec??? It is March!!!

The family woke up today to a nice white covering of snow on the lawn. Allie was yelling at the top of her lungs “LOOK – LOOK – LOOK!!!” Alexis did not know what to make of it. I would suspect that she was never exposed to snow in central China or allowed to play with it. So, Liz and I got the kids dressed and bundled up to romp in the snow. Allie liked walking around in circles, watching feet make a pattern in the snow. Lexi tried some snow, but was not really cool with it. After 15 minutes or so, we were all cold and decided to go in the house. The unfortunate thing is that there was just enough to be pretty, not enough to stay home from work. Well, it was nice while it lasted.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

To Virtualize or not to Virtualize...

… that is the question.

There has been a lot of discussion around the company about “Virtualizing”. This is where you take a production server, like your Print Server or Exchange Server, and run it on a shared system. I would just like to say now for the record, I do not believe in making your Exchange Server virtual. Yes, it is supported, but really a bad idea. Back to the topic at hand, there are two main applications that do this are Microsoft Virtual Server and VMWare Virtual Machine. There are two camps that feel that one is better than the other. I, personally, will run both. It does not matter to me which one is going to be used, that is up to the person writing the check. I do like VMWare over Virtual Server, even though VMWare is really bloody expensive. Microsoft did a nice job in making VS-R2, however, it does have some limitations. (and this is where I start the sh*t storm) VS is still in it infantancy stage. If you have a server with 100 processors, VS will only allocate you a single proc for that image, no matter if you are running server or not. VMWare, conversely, will allocate any or all resources that you have available. However, Microsoft is very easy to use and there is not all that fancy configuration that you have (can) do with VMWare. So, it comes down to…cost. (did you ever notice that most things come down to the all-mighty dollar) If you have a box that has beefy specs (and have money to spend), you probably would want to look at VMWare. However, if you want to go the inexpensive way and have a dual or quad box that you want to run WSUS in your production environment, Microsoft Virtual Server is the way to go.

There are some tips:

  1. Add more memory - Each virtual machine will require the same memory as a physical machine would. The more memory you have the more virtual machines you can run.
  2. Place the VHDs on a separate partition - For best performance the VHD files should be on a separate volume with a RAID array from the OS and other files.
  3. Like any Microsoft OS, the more fragmented the drive holding the data or VHDs the longer it will take to start, stop, pause and resume virtual machines. Defrag the OS drive, compact the VHDs and defrag the host systems drive where the VHDs are located on a regular basis. Virtual Server R2 includes Virtual Disk Precompactor for you to use before you compact a dynamically expanding VHD in order to create a smaller compacted VHD.
  4. Install VMAdditions - This is one of the most often overlooked issues with new virtual machines. The VMAdditions are special drivers used to improve performance on the virtual machines. Since, Virtual Server virtualizes standard hardware, the OS will install without the need for any drivers. Installing the VMAdditions will add functionality and increase performance of virtual machines.
  5. Use SCSI VHDs - All virtual machines should use SCSI VHDs. The SCSI driver will give the better performance over IDE VHDs no matter what type of hard drives the host system is using.
  6. Disable Real-time AV Scanning - Make sure you disable real-time virus scanning on the drive that contains the VHD files. You can also exclude the VHD and VMC files from real-time scanning.

For more information see:

Monday, March 06, 2006

Blackberry – the bane of my existence.

Is that a phone? Is that a PDA? Nope, it is a Crack-Berry, I mean Blackberry.

Don’t get me wrong, as a user of the device it is really cool. Since I left Cori, I don’t have one anymore. I was able to use it as a cell phone, have access to my email and calendar in real-time, make tasks, and (yes) play games. I also had IM enabled to chat with people that sat 20 feet away from me. Yes, I am that lazy.. I still use windows IM to chat with people that I share a cube wall with, but that is a rant for another time. I was able to download the entire address book from the corporate exchange server and perform lookups against the corporate address book.

As an admin of the device, it sucks. I constantly get calls at the most inopportune times from end-users saying that they are not getting email or they downloaded so unapproved application that makes the device a pretty expensive rock. Most fixes were the standard – take the battery and let the system reboot. Does Microsoft make this application? Nope, that would be Mobile 5… But, the calls I loved would be the “It just stopped working” or “my screen does not display anymore”.. Yeah.. It does not work anymore because you ran it over with your car or you were on your motorcycle trying to answer an email at 90. moron… At least in my new job, I don’t get many of those calls very often.

I don’t have to tell you that I was a bit disappointed and relieved that RIM settled the lawsuit against them. I was not looking forward to implementing OMA (Outlook Mobile Access) for a company the size of Nike. Talk about “not any fun”… I am glad that everything worked out for the best. Just a side note, talk about free advertisement… You could not pay for this kind of coverage and exposure. There is no one in the country that now does not know about Blackberry.

I did happen to find a couple of great links for Blackberrys.

Here is a blackberry early warning radar system that would tell the Exchange or Help Desk Admins that the reason the CEO can not get his email is due to coverage. This also would tell you if there is a configuration or firewall issue preventing mail flow to the BES server.

Blackberry Messenger, similar to the look and feel of windows messenger.

Hot-key support – I found this on another blog from a guy that I used to work with.

Take Two - A new beginning.

Well, after some soul searching, I decided to start my personal site over. My original site was a nice first attempt, but not good enough. After all, I am a network guy – not a web developer… I think that this is rev.1.3 or in Microsoft terms (showing my geekness)

I have a new job. I said "goodbye" to Corillian and "Hello" to ACS. I am one of two new Exchange Engineers. I have nothing against Corillian, it was good to me. I learned a lot when I worked there and was handed a lot of new projects and implementations that I would not normally be exposed to. It also allowed me to grow both in my technical and education.

However, ACS offered me the opportunity to have experience with a seriously large environment, 1500 Exchange Servers - yeah baby... ACS is a large company with offices all over the place and 30,000 people. This is a Fortune 500 company that is focused on providing IT outsourcing solutions to such clients as Nike and Walt Disney. This is an opportunity that I did not seek out but, when it was offered to me, I could not refuse.
The people are really cool here and most have made me feel welcome.

I hope to post every week, but as things get more chaotic... Time will tell.