Thursday, April 28, 2011

St George's Day Walk 2011

April 23 saw the annual St George's Day Walk in aid of Help for Heroes. Over 200 people walked the 5 miles from The Smiths Arms to the Windmill Tavern, Hand and Dagger, Sitting Goose, Saddle Inn and back to The Smiths Arms in order to raise over £2,000.

Photos from the day can be found on Flickr here.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Windows 7 Profile Woes

Back in the days of good old Windows XP there was three ways of assigning a profile to your users:
  1. Roaming Profiles

  2. Mandatory Profiles

  3. A Default Profile stored in NETLOGON
I always chose to use the shared Default profile method but when changing to Windows 7, wiered things started to happen...

Every time a user logged on, they would receive a notification balloon informing them that they had been logged on with a temporary profile and accompanied by a message that my users found quite scary since it mentioned that none of their work would be saved! Whilst this was happening I was also experiencing a problem where folder re-direction would fail every other time that a user logged into a machine. This was particularly annoying!

So where to start?

I decided that the temporary profile warning must be because of using the default profile method above. The obvious thing to do then was switch to a different method with mandatory profiles being the most obvious. However, Microsoft decided that, as of Vista, it would make the production of mandatory profiles a pain in the arse. To find out how bad it is, see the Technet guide.

I spent a whole day building a nice fresh Windows 7 virtual machine so that I could create the mandatory profile. I followed the instructions to the letter only to have it not work! Onto roaming profiles then.

It was now time to experience a roaming profile problem. Despite activating a roaming profile for a user, I was still receiving the temporary profile warning and the profile directory did not contain anything. It trned out that there was some old profile information being left somewhere. To delete this old data I discovered a VBScript that basically does the same job as delprof.exe (which doesn't work for Vista or Windows 7).

Next it was onto the randomness of the folder re-direction failing to apply every other time somebody logged on. I eventually found an event log entry that mentioned that the 'logon optimization policy' was preventing folder-redirection from working. That's right... Windows optomized the logon by turning all the useful stuff off!

I eventually discovered that this was to do with a change in the way Windows performs 'asynchronous processing and logon optomization'. Long story short... enabling the 'always wait for the network at computer startup and logon' GPO setting immediately cured the problem!

So to summarise... turn on roaming profiles and enable the 'always wait for the network at computer startup and logon' GPO and your life will be much easier!

Migrating from Zimbra to Exchange 2010

Some time ago I switched from using Exchange 2003 to Zimbra to try to reduce the TCO of the school's messaging services. Switching to Zimbra was painless with a handy little tool to copy all the users and their data across.

After several years of admirable service, the time has come to switch back to Exchange so that we can exploit some of its more advanced features and integrate it with our forthcoming OCS implementation. The problem is... how do you migrate all the data to Exchange?

No simple tool seems to exist for the purpose and, short of opening each mailbox and manually copying the mail, I was struggling to find an easy solution.

I stumbled across a post on where somebody was suffering a similar problem and it gave me two solutions to my dilemma:

  1. Set up an Exchange 2007 server and use Microsoft Transporter Suite for Internet Mailboxes to migrate the mailboxes to Exchange 2007. After this the mailboxes could be migrated to Exchange 2010.

  2. Use IMAPCopy to copy straight to Exchange 2010.

I obviously picked option number two because the first option seemed like hard work.

The whole process seemed to work quite well although I have since discovered that some mail was 'lost' during the bigger batches so it is worth writing the output to a file and double checking it for error messages. You should also be warned that it's not the quickest process in the world and attempting to run multiple copies of IMAPCopy at once simply doesn't work!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

My poor neglected blog

Is it really that long since I last posted on my blog?!? OMG!

It has been super busy at work since November... trying to get things prepared for the Windows 7 and server 2008 R2 rollout. With the little darlings back on Tuesday, I've nearly managed to get everything sorted and I should have a few minutes spare to update my blog.

Watch out for a post about profile pitfalls very soon!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Adobe Badges

Originally uploaded by Ric Charlton
I was sorting through some 'old' pictures to upload to Flickr and stumbled across this one.

I'd forgotten I'd taken this and, I think, it's rather good :-)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Noise versus ISO for Canon EOS 1Ds

Gary recently pointed me towards a forum post discussing noise on a EOS 40D at different ISO settings. The forum post can be seen here.

This whole 'faking' of ISO settings - basically using a full stop lower ISO setting and boosting the EV in camera which caused problems.

It seems that the 5D also suffers from this, although the effect is seen at different points through the ISO range. This got me thinking... does my 1Ds do the same thing? An experiment was required!

After a few practices, I settled on the following conditions:

  1. Camera set to Manual

  2. No lens - just the body cap

  3. Eye-piece cover shut

  4. Exposure time set to 30 seconds (this exagerated the noise at very low ISO)

I then took a shot at each ISO setting (from 50 to 1250) and measured the mean luminance in Photoshop CS4. That produced the following graph (which didn't show a lot because I didn't have enough noise!).

I re-measured the luminance after increasing the EV on each shot by 20. This made for some noisy shots at high ISO (as you would expect!). The following graph was produced which showed the differences a little clearer.

So... what does this prove? IMHO, the 1Ds does not suffer from the faking of ISO settings in the same way as the 5D and 40D were described. Although the graphs do not clearly show this, ISO 160 did produce slightly less noise than both those ISOs below and those above it - the difference was only 0.06 on the +20 EV shot mind ;-)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Picasa and Flickr

I've been contemplating a switch to Flickr from Picasa Web for some time because it tends to have better integration with many Web 2.0 apps - e.g. Facebook. The main reason stopping me migrating, though, is that I really like Google's Picasa application.

Today I came a cross a great little app called Picasa2Flickr which adds another button to Picasa which uses Flickr Uploadr to get the selected pictures onto the web. Not the prettiest solution but it does seem to carry across all the titles, tags, etc. (except for the geotag data).

A note about the installation though... it's not immediately obvious but you need to click the links in the instructions to get the button to install correctly.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Facebook Test Post

This is a post to check whether adjusting my Blog feed (as per the instructions here) would allow full posts and piccies to automagically import to Facebook.

Anyway... here's a pic...

Blackpool Air Display

Finally getting caught up on blog stuff since I came back from the EduGeek meetings down south...

Before the meetings, I popped along to Blackpool for their annual air display. It was glorious sunshine and it was really nice to relax on the prom at North Shore for a couple of hours.

The air show also gave me the opportunity to play with my 500mm camera lens :-) By adding my 1.4x extender I got a full 700mm too :-D

Here's a sample of the pics I took (the noise was awesome when the Vulcan flew over - full afterburners, the lot!)