The technology week in view: 21st January 2008

Recently, I have been evaluating a new product, PacketTrap, which integrates a number of network management tools into a common graphical user interface. It also contains a number of useful reporting features that can be accessed using a gadget driven dashboard. Some interesting things you can run with PacketTrap are Ping Scan, SNMP Scan, WMI Scan, TFTP Server, Syslog, Whois, Wake on Lan, DNS Audit, and several others. A few days ago I used the product to assist in identifying then fixing a problem with a network infrastructure switch – not the easiest of things to sort out in the middle of the day – especially when users just want to get on with their work. PacketTrap does a great job and in my opinion should be on every technicians radar.

Have you ever experienced a server freeze? This is when the console suddenly locks up and the machine simply will not respond. Hours of waiting do not yield a solution and the server doesn’t want to communicate which leads to the necessity for invoking level 1 IT support aptly named “Switch it off then on again”. If that doesn’t work then the more advanced level 2 IT support may be called for. Joking aside this is a major problem and not something that can be easily rectified without taking the machine apart and testing its internal components.

In such a fast moving industry like the technology and software development industries it can be easy to forget about the usefulness of older proven applications and instead favour modern developments with all their bells and whistles but I am happy to say that legacy is alive and well in our business. In actual fact it is celebrating its 30th birthday in active use – this is an application with no windows front end, no mouse support and very basic printer support – however it does what it needs to do and has served us very well over the years.

If you have tried upgrading Windows 2003 Server SP2 to version R2 in order to standardise your infrastructure (or for any other reason!) then you may have become a little unstuck – I certainly did and it had me scratching my head for quite some time. Fortunately, the solution is relatively straightforward once you realise that the software product keys can’t be interchanged on channels, so an OEM Windows 2003 R2 won’t enjoy being installed on a boxed version install of Windows 2003 SP2 very much – a bit of a pain if you have mixed infrastructure machines as we do. You can read more about it here: Upgrading Windows 2003 Server SP2 to R2.

Finally for this week there are two things: Firstly, I have soon to say goodbye to the Nokia e61i I have been testing – it is a great little device and really useful (and easy to configure) for ActiveSync over Exchange Server 2007. Secondly, if you are using Outlook Express and are having trouble with mail being stuck in your Outbox then this tip may help: Mail stuck in Outbox in Microsoft Outlook Express.

By Jason Slater

Technology journalist and blogger, software developer, ex-IT Manager.