ISA 2004: CARP Exclusions (and a tip for 2000)

In ISA 2004 Enterprise Edition, one of the new features that was added based on user feedback was the ability to exclude certain sites from the CARP treatment. I’ve expounded CARP’s virtues before in CARP and NLB.

The problem with CARP – or more specifically, the interaction of CARP with certain sites – is that any given “browsing session” may appear to come from multiple IP addresses. Because the IP address is used as a “key” by some sites (or worse, some form of security token), having lots of them when trying to talk to one of these sites is not a good thing.

CARP is usually a Good Thing, because of its simplicity and scale-out capabilities – turning it off means that your three-node cluster now potentially has three sets of the same data, one in each node’s cache, rather than one set of data that’s three caches big! Most sites work fine with CARP, but there are several that don’t.

ISA 2004 allows you to define exclusions, but if you’re using ISA 2000 and aren’t planning an upgrade (gasp!?), there’s a possibility I’ll throw out there – routing rules.

If you have an upstream ISP that offers a proxy service, throw the site you want to exclude into a Destination Set, and then add a routing rule that forces any traffic to that destination through an upstream proxy. Assuming the upstream proxy only has a single forward-facing IP address (*big* assumption), it might just work around the remote site’s CARP-unfriendliness.

If it doesn’t, there are other cunning ways of dealing with it

x64: Windows XP x64 Edition Upgrade Offer

aka Double Your Bits For Free!

That’s right – if you bought a Win32 version of XP and you’re ready to move to x64 on your AMD64 or Intel EM64T-based system, Microsoft are running an exchange program that lets you swap over.

It’s still early days for the new OS, so it’s advisable to do some research on the drivers you’ll immediately be able to find versus what you’re currently using the computer for (the Upgrade page goes into more detail).

Note: Orders for the Technology Advancement Program must be placed by July 31, 2005.

Hitchhiker’s Guide Movie: Four Stars

As a fan of the trilogy-o-five and a bunch of Douglas Adams’ other work, I was quietly skeptical about how good the Guide movie was likely to be. Douglas is gone – weirdly, a loss that still affects me personally, as if he’d been a lifelong friend – but the movie channels him to fantastic effect.

The trailer was what convinced me I needed to see it, and that whatever they’d done to it, it didn’t matter. And I’m really glad I did. I’d go so far as to say that this is a classic. Yep, a classic.

One of the highlights is Bill Bailey’s (Manny from Black Books – you’ll recognize the voice) cameo – enough said. It’s a rather short-lived performance, though.

The special effects were fantastic: the whimsical-yet-solid spacecraft design; the Vogons; the jaw-dropping Magrathean sequence; the Guide animations; the Infinite Improbability drive. The plot changes from the book were understandable and for the most part interesting, but in many cases unresolved, so the best part of all… please… let there be a Restaurant movie!

Anyway, if you were worried, don’t be, it’s great. Douglas would have been so proud.

Update: Rory and Chris liked it too. Seriously, it’s good. Go see it. I guarantee* you’ll enjoy it. I think Rory nails it – what works on the printed page doesn’t necessarily make a brilliant movie. For example, the two-nuclear-missile sequence was amazingly well done, was funny in the book, but on screen it was, well, pretty heartbreaking.

A Physics Accelerator?

No, not something with which you can fall down faster, we’re talking about a Physics Processing Unit, as in “GPU”, which is what they’re calling 3D accelerators these days.

Jeff left a comment about the Epic guys being just down the road from him, and while searching on “Epic Tim” to check the spelling of “Sweeney”, I came across an interview he did with Gamespot about the Ageia physics accelerator (PhysX).

It sounds cool. UT aside, Max Payne 2 really showed off a software physics engine, but there were places in which you just wished for more. More realism. Some Soldier of Fortune-level interactivity (if you get my meaning)…

Idle speculation warning. I have no idea how these things work. As someone that relies on other smarter people around him to do mathematics, I likely never will. But it’s fun to speculate.

So, the thought that sprang to mind is: will this end up as part of a GPU? If not, why not? They seem like a pretty close match for each other. I wonder if a GPU couldn’t be specialized into doing PPU things (and if we won’t end up there eventually anyway). Then, all we need is audio (my money was on SoundStorm 2 being integrated with GeForce 7 before Nvidia said they would put it back into late model motherboards) added back onto the video card (like the good old days of NV1), and we have a cookin’ total gamer upgrade package for one low, low price. Hopefully.

Learn VPN and Quarantine with Uncle Michael™

Kleefie just posted an excellent series of Blogcasts that run through the basics of configuring Quarantine for VPN solutions.

He’s done the demo using the original Resource Kit Quarantine server (aka Agent) and listener sample (RQS and RQC respectively), but Windows Server 2003 SP1 actually includes a PSS-supported version of each.

If you’re not on Windows Server 2003 SP1 – which includes the RQS Agent in Add/Remove Programs – there’s a more recent version of the tools on the Download Center here than was featured in the Reskit (install the Resource Kit Tools version first), and an ISA 2004 set of additional utilities here.

Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Ethel the Aardvark was going…

Mental Note

Next time, run the setup on a fast machine, then port the Additions-installed VHD over. Duh.

There’s a reason the screenshot is one of setup! It’s been running since about 8pm tonight (it’s 10:30pm now, and it’s been 13 minutes to completion for about 30 minutes).

The Additions will eventually boost the speed immensely, but as I’m running a virtualized P3-700 with 300MB RAM (the host has a massive 512MB total), and without the Additions (because we haven’t finished Setup yet), well, you just have to wait.

… I can wait.

My Email Solution for 0-2 users

From before – I decided that My Real Problem with Outlook having a single delivery location is the speed of that location vs the accessibility. A local PST is relatively quick, but it’s inaccessible except via Remote Desktop (not terrible, but not Webby). An RPC/HTTP based mailbox on a remote host in the US is

Delivering from one or more POP3 accounts directly to a US-based server didn’t inspire me with Local Data Confidence, so the answer is to – yet again – run up a server at home, and use it as my storage location, albeit a relatively useless one at this point. I have some smart host-y ideas on how I can get around the work mail issue.

The notional layout is:

Outlook 2003 -MAPI> SBS/Exchange 2003 (Domain A) -> POP3 Connector (Domain B (and ISP?))
Outlook 2003 -POP3> ISP mail (stored on above Exchange box)

And I get to use OWA to quickly read email at home if I can’t use Remote Desktop. Plus, I get to use a Real, Live SBS box.

This time, I’m going back to a Virtual Server-based solution, and I’m going to give SBS2003 my first production run, to see how it shakes out. Kids, don’t try this at home. And the VHD will be portable, which might be useful at some point (I toyed with the idea of using the physical disk, but eventually settled on file-level portability).

Yes, my hosting server is called “Misery”. It’s traditional.

Frustrated with Outlook

More a “thinking out loud” post than anything useful. Please ignore me for the time being.

After the x64 installation, it’s taken me a while to track down my copy of Office 2003 and install it. Living without Outlook is not something I enjoy doing for any length of time, Outlook Express just ain’t enough. Now it’s back, I’m not really sure how to do what I want to do with it.

I’ve made the decision that running a fully-featured Exchange Server and domain at home is no longer cost-effective, as the main reason I used Exchange at home (in the post-email era) was to email myself ideas, and Microsoft’s anti-spam filters have put a stop to that (I’m on a cable network with dynamic IPs, which attract a low confidence level). So I’m trying to move to a semi-hosted solution for personal email and calendaring, while retaining a local copy of all data wherever possible.

So right now, I’m running my server with Windows Server 2003 SP1 + ISA 2004 Enterprise Edition (um, it might look like overkill, but it’s useful to have a “real” one to look at) as a gateway only, and I’m trying to work out how I can get my POP mail into a PST, and keep my Exchange mail on a hosted Exchange server, while using an OST and RPC/HTTP.

Per-account delivery locations, that’s what I want (actually, in my heart of hearts I’d really really like to be able to talk to multiple Exchange servers at once, each with its own cached store). Sure, I could set up two profiles, but That Is Painful. I’m already annoyed that I have to supply my password every time, so I’m not really looking to exacerbate that by adding a profile switch to it.

I’d also like the Outlook calendar synch-able between work and home. Sigh – so much to accomplish, but it’s bedtime now.

.Net 2.0 Beta 2 Install – It’s not over ’til it’s over

I just installed the .Net Framework 2.0 Beta 2 runtime on my home x64 box, so that I could again run my happy little .Net utilities with 64 bit power.

I’ve really, really been missing PasteOff – notice the lack of pics recently?

Anyway, after the wizard had registered everything and presented its little Finish button, I’d clicked Finish and then been faced with a period of sluggish performance from other apps.

Checking Task Manager showed that it was MSCORSVW.exe chewing 99% CPU time and memory, but not a huge amount of IO (at what I assume was Normal priority, I didn’t bother checking), and this went on for about 2 minutes after the installer had gone away. Then, it stopped, the * 32 version had a quick spike for a few seconds, and all is now normal. Or so it seems.

MSCOR* looks like a .Net framework name, and sure enough at the top of the Administrative Tools, Services list was the .Net Runtime Optimization Service 2.0 x64 and x86 services, alive and Started.

Anyway, back to work…

x64 Compatibility

The theme for this week is compatibility, brought to you by the letters W and O, and the number 64.

In the PlanetAMD64 forums and on their Wiki, we’ve been thrashing out some terms for games that run or don’t run under Windows x64 editions.

My favourites so far are:

  • x64 (native or enhanced) – patched or compiled for true x64 operation

  • WOW64 – runs as a 32 bit process under 64-bit Windows (I know, it almost seems backwards, but the acronym is Win32 on Win64, I think)

  • UNWOW64 – doesn’t run under x64, for whatever reason. Aka “broken” or “unworkable”.

1984 was a doubleplusgood book, wasn’t it?