Amazon Widget

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lenovo piques my curiosity with the ThinkPad W520

Ok, Lenovo, you have my attention again - Lenovo ThinkPad W520

The page says "Available late March 2011".  It's March 21, does that qualify? :) Among the listed specs that caught my eye:

  • Upto 10 hours of battery life from a 9-cell battery
  • Upto 32GB RAM
  • USB 3.0, HDMI-out, and eSATA-out ports
  • Less than 6lbs
I'll be very curious to see what the various price points are, particularly how much the extra RAM costs. 

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

AD Web Services on Windows Server 2003/2008

Here's a little something I learned when trying to enable the functionality of the Active Directory Module for Powershell a few weeks back on a Window Server 2008 R2 box.  This module is also available on Windows 7, and the solution below is the same for it.

In order to make this feature work, you need AD Web Services enabled on at least one Server 2008 R2 domain controller in your domain.  In our case, the domain controllers are Server 2003-exclusively.  So, I did a little digging and found that you can install AD Web Services on Windows Server 2003 and/or Windows Server 2008 and it would then allow the AD Module for Powershell to interact with Active Directory, which means the Server 2008 R2-exclusive Powershell cmdlets will then work.

We did this on a handful of 2003 DC's in our environment without any problems.  However, when we launched the AD Module for Powershell on our 2008 R2 server, it still couldn't connect to the AD Web Service on any of the DC's.  We got the following message:

Windows PowerShell
Copyright (C) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
WARNING: Error initializing default drive: 'Unable to find a default server with Active Directory Web Services running.'.
PS C:\Windows>

After doing some digging, I found the information I was looking for.  The AD Module uses DS_WS_FLAG to find an ADWS instance.  This information can be used to locate a DC with ADWS instance, when a client will specify the additional DS_WEB_SERVICE_REQUIRED flag in the DC request.  The problem?  Server 2003/2008 DCs don't understand this new flag. To correct this, an additional hotfix has to be installed, KB969249 (for Server 2003) or KB967574 (for Server 2008).

The workaround for this is to specify the server at which your Powershell query will be directed, via the -server option.  But that can become a problem later if the server you are pointing at goes away, is down for maintenance, etc. 

So, if your AD Module for Powershell won't connect to your installation(s) of AD Web Services, you may now know why and know what to do to fix it.

Reflections on my Lenovo T500

In June 2009, I purchased a Lenovo T500 laptop.  I selected it because it was, at the time, near the top-of-the-line for specs - T9400 Intel Core 2 Duo processor, upto 8GB RAM, 7200rpm hard drive, DVD burner, 15" screen and a dedicated graphics card.  I also was able to get an open-box model at a very reasonable price.  At the same time I also upgraded the RAM to 4GB with a purchase from Newegg.

After 21 months of use, I can't say enough good things about my T500.  Durable.  Flexible (I have dual-booted from VHD a couple of times and it's nice).  Still fast.  Basically, a rock-solid laptop.  I've traveled with it a couple of times, and while it does have a bit of weight that comes with it, I haven't found it to be overly heavy when traveling thru the airport.  Performance has been outstanding - I can have multiple browser windows open, along with a couple of apps like Word, Excel, maybe Acrobat, and I cannot notice a discernible performance hit on any of the applications.  Of course, I use Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, so that could help in that department.  I also tend to refresh my Windows install every 6-9 months, or else whenever I try out things like installing the IE9 beta on top of the Windows 7 SP1 beta and it blows up my browser. ;)

I have another 12 months or so of the 3-year factory warranty left, so I'm not driven to find a new laptop yet.  But at the same time, I am driven to see what's out there.  Why?  I want a portable, or semi-portable, self-contained lab environment.  Even if I bumped the RAM on my T500 upto 8GB, I still could "only" run two or three VMs (Hyper-V R2, of course) at any given time.  That doesn't allow me much of a test environment to have going.

What am I looking for in my next laptop?  Quad core (probably an Intel i7), room for LOTS of RAM (16GB minimum), and enough storage to keep 6-8 VM's local on the machine at any given time.  The storage piece is an interesting one for me.  Do I go with a larger 5400rpm hard drive, a slightly smaller 7200rpm hard drive, or an SSD?  The hard drives keep the cost down and provide roomy storage space, while the SSD drives up the price for less storage but pays off with maximum performance.  The models I'm looking at include a Lenovo W510, an Acer Asprire, and the HP Elitebook 8740w (which a friend has and recommends unequivocally).  I obviously have a sweet spot for Lenovo, who's ThinkPad's I've used off-and-on for the past 6 years, both personally and professionally, and have yet to have a single problem or failure.  The Acer gives the features I'd like at a good price point, while the HP Elitebook walks in and flexes a lot of muscle, for a price.  All have multiple glowing reviews, so it may come down to which one "feels" right.

Whatever happens, I'll be sure to put it thru its paces and report back here.  It's something I'd like to do more often, as well as just blog more about my profession and experiences in general.

Until next time, thanks for reading!