Colin’s IT, Security and Working Life blog

August 7, 2009

Getting the hands dirty can be fun – and is vital.

Filed under: Techy — chaplic @ 4:29 pm

I can usually be found talking to clients drawing clouds on whiteboards and talking about IS4, Architecture Vision  or business requirements.

I’ve just picked up a task that’s somewhat different. A client has a pretty niffty IT infrastructure, built from the ground up a couple of years ago, and sports gigabit wide area links and robustly managed policies to control the desktop. Fundamentally, from an architectural point of view, it’s fit for purpose.

But it’s not ideal. The clients policy is to have the intranet load when people login, to ensure they always get the latest info. It’s a very dynamic website, so not great offline. Yet it will attempt to load when the laptop isn’t online. Roaming profiles are used well meaning no-one loses data from a faulty hard drive, but the login time to a new machine is arduous, and do we really need to keep crash recovery information in the profile?

All of these issues, and many more, are hardly business critical. But they do impact on all users, every  day, and take away any polish you might feel an infrastructure deserves.

So my task was to look at these and “make good”, without making wholesale changes to the environment.

Many changes were just the case of simple group policy tweaks, re-thinking the need for certain settings (do we have to force everyone to check their spelling when they send email)

Others called for a little bit of VBScripting. In the intranet case, instead of running IE direct on login, we check to see if we can connect to the website, and if so run IE, compose the website invisibly then BANG show it on the page.

OST files are heavily used in outlook. These are great. Not so if you don’t use the same PC every day, and your mailbox is 10GB. So I’m looking at a fix where a script does a WMI query to detect the machine type, and doesn’t use an OST if the machine is a desktop (laptop machines tend to be single user)

I’ve revelled in firing up procmon and wireshark to look at what’s under the surface and really tackling every small issue to hopefully end up with a pleasing result.

Whilst these are not things I typically play with every day, I think its vital that all techies can ‘deep dive’ into such areas when the need arises, and the past few days has reaffirmed this.


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