Letters - 29 Sep 2009

Active Directory Growth Tracker
Jim Turner’s “Active Directory Growth Tracker: A Script to Count Objects” (August 2009, InstantDoc ID 101930) provides a great script that I put to use right away. I've added functionality to it, but I can't figure out how to count a specific number of workstation objects in a specific OU. I need to know the number of computer objects in a specific OU, all of which are enabled. Thanks for any help you can give, and thanks again for a great tool.
—John Witbeck

Thank you for writing! My article, “Using Saved Queries for Active Directory Management” (InstantDoc ID 97087), provides guidance for your question. Also, you might add some If logic and count to determine whether the OU (adspath) equals what you're looking for.
—Jim Turner

Best Practices for Document Libraries
Another great article from Dan Holme is “Top 10 Best Practices for Document Libraries”. During SharePoint farm management, I've faced all the concerns he mentions. I've had to uncheck documents in the middle of the night, and I've had to execute a long campaign advising site administrators to clean up their SharePoint installations. Another pain point I’ve encountered is document and view migration to other subsites. Business users expect the farm administrator to do this task for them. Sometimes, the task involved more than 300 files and folders. I look forward to more articles from Dan.
—Himadrish Laha

Troubleshooting Disk I/O Performance
I watched Michael Morales’s video on ITTV.net for Xperf troubleshooting (“Xperf Introduction”) and found it very helpful. I have one question, though. Troubleshooting high CPU utilization (e.g., kernel/process, DPCs) is much more clear because you can see utilization in Task Manager. But how can you possibly know that your disk I/O is suffering when you can't see disk lights on server? Nothing in Task Manager will tell you that you have a problem with high disk I/O. I usually add Page Fault Delta into Task Manager to see if there's heavy paging happening, but this will usually be an indication of RAM shortage and not a hard disk problem. So, how do you figure out that you need to troubleshoot disk I/O performance if all you have is remote console access to your server?
—Greg Suvalian

One of the counters you can use to help determine whether disk I/O has increased on your system is Physical or Logical Disk Bytes/Sec. Disk Bytes/sec is the rate bytes are transferred to or from the disk during write or read operations. You can further break this counter down into Disk Read Bytes/Sec and Disk Write Bytes/Sec. Disk Read Bytes/sec is the rate at which bytes are transferred from the disk during read operations. Disk Write Bytes/sec is the rate at which bytes are transferred to the disk during write operations. If you notice that the Disk Bytes/Sec has shot up, you can use Xperf to determine which files certain processes are accessing during the high I/O.

DKHardDrive-Light is a freeware utility that might help you monitor your drives. According to the documentation, the tool “monitors the computer's hard drive and notifies you of activity by blinking a red light in the system tray. Monitor hard drive activity right from your desktop. This is helpful when the computer's hard drive light is not within view.”

Hope this helps! For additional reading on Xperf, see my Windows IT Pro columns, "Examining Xperf" (InstantDoc ID 102054) and “Under the Covers with Xperf” (InstantDoc ID 102263).
—Michael Morales

Boycott Opera? No Way!
I do wish Paul Thurrott would quit beating up on Opera (WinInfo Short Takes, July 17, 2009, InstantDoc ID 102492). I started using Opera back when I had to pay for it because the only other options for a Windows browser at the time were the security hole that was (is) Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) and the then-decrepit Netscape Navigator. I've been very happy ever since. Opera is fast, is almost completely customizable, and has been free for quite a while. Opera also was first with many of the features you'll find in other browsers today. Paul mentions that Opera was responsible for pressuring Microsoft via the European Union (EU) to make the IE 8 executable completely removable from Windows 7. How is that a bad thing, exactly? Thanks for listening! (I otherwise enjoy your newsletter.)
—Mark Averett

Apple Tax
I want to thank Paul Thurrott for all his detailed and interesting reporting; I appreciate all he does and writes. But I would toss out a suggestion. The Apple Tax (WinInfo UPDATE, July 16, 2009, InstantDoc ID 102481) isn't just about the money. Leaving aside aesthetics—we all like owning and using beautiful objects—some of us long-time and still-current Microsoft users are sorely tempted to move to an Apple system merely to get software that works, consistently, the way it promises.

Here’s a prime example: I compile a biweekly industry newsletter about hotel technology. During the two-week preparation period, I cut and paste information from press releases and other sources and dump it into a Microsoft Word file. Before I edit the content down to something readable, I run a quick macro that selects the whole document and formats everything into a single font and paragraph style to make it easier to read and work with. Yet, when I start cutting and pasting this converted text, Word—at apparently random moments—will choose to paste it in a different font (often Courier) or four points larger and bold. What part of Select All does Word not understand? Obviously, there are some formatting commands buried in the text somewhere that aren't getting converted.

I've tried repairing Office several times and even re-installing it from scratch. But the same thing happens. At this point, I have no choice but to accept this behavior as a Microsoft "feature." It's not the only instance of erratic behavior, just the most aggravating and frequent one I encounter.

My past two computers have been IBM ThinkPad X-Series models, but I'm tempted to buy an Apple system if it would work better for me. Apple has a reputation for making stuff that simply works, consistently. But I worry that I'd still have to use Office (for the Mac) and that in a mixed Apple/PC environment at home I might be swapping one set of problems for another.

Yes, Apple products are more expensive. But the financial Apple Tax might just be worth paying to get out from under the Emotional Pain Tax that Microsoft imposes.
—Jon Inge

Oops! Who Won Best of Tech ED 2009?
The Windows IT Pro website lists SpecOps Password Reset as the winner in the Security category of the Best of TechEd 2009 awards. In apparent contradiction to the website, the July issue of Windows IT Pro has a full-page advertisement in which Windows IT Pro congratulates Sunbelt Software for VIPRE Enterprise winning Best of TechED 2009 for Security. So which is it?
—Scott Huntley

Many thanks for pointing out the error. Specops Password Reset is the winner, and Sunbelt Software's VIPRE Enterprise was a finalist. We printed the incorrect logo on the congratulatory advertisement for Sunbelt. The ad should have called Sunbelt out as a finalist. Please accept our apologies for the error. You can see the complete list of finalists here.
—Jeff James

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