February 2011
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Archive for February, 2011

So long, Holly

Posted in Life on February 21st, 2011

The time has come where the good ship HS Golightly (AKA “Holly”) must be retired and a replacement brought in. The reasons behind the move are mainly financial – it was a terrible loan rate and the car was actually rated as worth only about $500 more than the cost of some needed repairs (some damage to the heads when the timing belt went and a power steering pump). There is also the idea of tourney season coming up, and we need more cargo room to haul our ever-expanding camping gear collection.

Like most people, I hate car shopping. The entire process of buying a car from a dealer is not designed to make things easy for you. You only get to compare cars side-by-side if they happen to be at the same lot, so when you’re shopping for used you must resign yourself to a lengthy process as each dealer tries to coerce you into buying what they’re selling, never mind what you told them you’re actually looking for. (Yes Mr. A.M., I am talking about you and your damn Equinox.). Or (almost) worse, you get a dealer with a huge selection – that is scattered over 5 different lots scattered across town.

In any case, to chop several paragraphs of me griping about the process out of this post, suffice it to say that we eventually did find a car that was both A) worth driving and owning and B) we could fit into the budget. The surprising thing was the car we ended up with.

Originally, I was looking at a 2004 model, but in the end it turned out that the dealership had spent so much money on the car already (trade-in value, repairs, etc.) that they wouldn’t be able to fit it into my budget as well as make my upside-down Kia loan go away. They could do all of this, however, if I were to instead buy this 2009 model…

Uhm, ok. Twist that arm there just a tad… newer car, a little more miles but in better shape and without the leather interior. And it’s even silver!

So, after about 150 signatures on the dotted line and a liter of my O-Positive, I am the proud owner of a loan that has the physical representation of an as-yet un-named silver 2009 Subaru Outback wagon.

The differences, New Car vs. Holly:

  • Slightly bigger engine producing 32 more horsepower
  • Estimated improvement of 1 mile per gallon!
  • Automatic transmission with Sportshift (almost as good as manual… but no more clutch-cramps)
  • Wheelbase is one inch shorter, but the new car is:
  • 3.2 inches longer,
  • 5.1 inches wider,
  • 6.1 inches taller overall,
  • and yet 121 pounds lighter,
  • with a towing allowance of 2700 pounds. (Which is better than a Dodge Magnum!)
  • The big change, though, is we went from 13.6 cubic feet of cargo to 33.5 internal, with a full set of factory roof rails  on top.

I think I can fit all our crap inside that :)

Speaking of those larger numbers, this is the last year (in my mind, at least) that the Outback is a station wagon and not a full-up SUV. There was a minor re-styling in 2008 over the previous body which added a couple inches here and there, but the 2010 re-design added a handful more. This was a bad move in my mind, as one of the selling points to an Outback has always been that it isn’t a ginormous SUV. Luckily for me, Subaru has a well-earned reputation for building cars that last, so I’ll be in this one until the SUV trend finally dies off and they go back to their more minimalist days. (Heh – my first car was a ’74 Subaru wagon – I could almost fit it inside this one.)

I may end up missing the Kenwood stereo I had installed in the Kia – it had HD Radio (which I almost never used) and would play MP3 files from a USB stick (which is almost all I ever did with it). The new car has an aux jack in the center console, so with a two-ended headphone plug you can wire in anything that has headphone outputs… but at that point I’m not using the radio controls, so I have to fiddle with a small device flopping around on the end of a cable if I want to skip a track or something, and I don’t get the track readout in the display on the dash.

Considering that this is my only real disappointment in the entire car, I think I can live with it :)

Legacy Email Relay in SBS 2008 with Exchange 2007

Posted in Geekery, Work on February 5th, 2011

As can be expected, Microsoft made a lot of changes in the SBS 2008 / Exchange 2007 combination, and while it has been out for several years now, I have yet to find any articles or HOWTO’s that specifically address the problems of getting ancient, legacy code to reliably send email alerts with the new systems.

With Exchange 2003, it was simple and mostly just built-in, all you had to do was add the IP address of things like your scanners and other fairly dumb systems (or even advanced ones, like Backup Exec and APC Powerchute) to allow them to relay email alerts through Exchange.

Well, in Exchange 2007, they made things a little more difficult and force you to create new Receive Connectors with specific restrictions to allow these systems. It has been well documented before, so I’ll just include a link: http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2006/12/28/432013.aspx

I will point out one thing, however: my experience (and a blog posting I cannot find again today) says that to make this actually work, the remote network range for this connector must be, and not limited to the single machine or short range of IP addresses. I tested this extensively, and always came up with the same result: narrow IP range = no workee. This means that you must create rules on your firewall to strictly limit incoming SMTP traffic to make sure you don’t set up an open relay on the Internet. You should already be doing this anyhow, considering how cheap Postini spam filtering is.

There’s also one other small problem: SBS 2008 only allows you a single NIC, and therefore a single IP address for the server, which means that you’ll have to assign this new relay connector to a non-standard port (like 26) to make it work. (The trick of adding a second alternative IP address to the NIC will not work – it disappears after a reboot.) Here’s a series of pics with my setup:

Now to use this, you’ll obviously have to configure your legacy systems to point to the specific port as well as the IP address. Usually, this is done by tacking a :26 (or whatever port you chose) on the end of the IP address or server name. (192.168.x.x:26 or servername.domainname.local:26).

Sometimes, however, those legacy systems will be so entirely stupid that you can’t point them at a non-standard port. This is where stuff gets damned annoying.

If you are lucky enough to have another server on the network, you can install SMTP on that server, and tell it to use Exchange (at the special port you made) as a Smart Host, and then you can point your legacy systems at this SMTP server and allow it to do the relaying for you. For example, my client has another Server 2008 machine handy, so I added the SMTP Feature and created a new SMTP Virtual Server called Relay 1 and set it to allow anonymous connections.

Instead of 15 pictures, I’m going to give you a hundred words of settings description:

General Tab:
Select your IP address, nothing unusual here.

Access Tab:
-Authentication button – select Anonymous access only.
-Connection Control button – select “All except the list below”
-Relay Restrictions button – Select “Only the list below” and give it your network range. This one should accept the restriction of single entries, unlike the Exchange 2007 connector. I also checked the box for “Allow all computers which authenticate…” just for grins.

Messages Tab:
-Set your favorite limits here, as well as the location of the Badmail directory.

Delivery Tab
-Set more limits and timeouts here. I usually expire messages at 2 hours.

LDAP Routing and Security tabs:
-Probably no changes needed here.

Lastly, go into the Services management area and set SMTP to Automatic Start.

Hopefully, I’ve just saved at least one other person from having to figure all this out the hard way. May the Force be with you.