Words and Software

Technical writing/user assistance in Microsoft.Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS). (old: Data Protection Manager and Operations Manager)

June, 2006

  • Remapping Drives

    A customer changed the drive letters for several volumes that were being protected by DPM. Then he noticed that the new drive letters weren't showing up consistently in DPM Administrator Console.

    The Protection task area displayed the new drive letter, but the Monitoring and Recovery task areas still showed the old drive letter. The logs had the same problem.

    There was much time spent in the lab trying to reproduce the problem -- figuring out how to break something leads to how to fix it -- but the bottom line is that DPM doesn't support drive remapping. The fix is also the procedure for changing drive letters of protected volumes:

    1. Remove the protected volumes from the protection groups, while selecting to retain the data.
      (When you choose to retain data, DPM saves the replica and shadow copies for the protection group member being removed.)
    2. Change the drive letter.
      (If you already changed the drive letter and are trying to fix the drive letters in DPM, just skip this step.)
    3. Add the volumes to a protection group -- either the old one or a new one, doesn't matter.
      (DPM will see that the "new" protection group member already has an existing replica, so will run a consistency check and all of the drive letters should match up at that point.)
  • DPM FAQ is updated

    The DPM FAQ is updated and includes the following changes:

    • Updated system requirements to include Windows Server 2003 R2.
    • Added "Can I use DPM with Windows Server 2003 R2?" question and answer.
    • Added restriction on using Disk Defragmenter on the DPM storage pool to the "Known Issues" section.
    • Added "Can DPM protect a Web server?" question and answer.
  • Tab tragedies

    I installed the msn search toolbar. I was really looking forward to the tab feature, which I'd heard so much about from Firefox users.

    This is my fifth day. Just now is the fifty-zillionth time that I have inadvertently closed the browser window rather than the tab...thus losing all the other pages I'd so carefully chosen "open in new background tab" for so that I could read them later.

    Maybe I need to paste a piece of paper on the monitor where the Internet Explorer close button is, so I have to stop and think when I whiz the mouse to the upper right corner of the screen...<sigh>

  • Deciphering our language codes

    Yesterday being "patch Tuesday", I updated my computer at work with the latest security updates. I have to do each update manually -- Windows Update stopped working on my system several years ago and when Tech Support reached the troubleshooting step of "gently hint that the customer may want to consider formatting the hard drive and starting over", I decided to just put up with manual updates.

    The patch that I thought was interesting was for Security Bulletin 06-023, and what I found interesting was the approach they took on the download page: 24 individual files with no guidance on which one (or all?!?) to download.

    Looking at that list, maybe you figured it out quicker than I did, but at the end of each filename is a three-letter code. That code equates to a language. And the list of our codes and associated languages is here, in case you ever need to look them up.

  • One exam left to go

    I've mentioned before that I'm working towards the MCSA certification. Obviously, I'm not in too much of a hurry, since that was November and I just now got around to taking Exam 70-290. However, I'm pleased to say I passed. I had a bit of a problem with the backup/disaster recovery questions, because they all rely on Windows Server features for their solutions and I kept seeing opportunities to improve the scenario by adding Data Protection Manager...

    Just the networking exam, 70-291, left to go. Maybe next fall -- I know I won't study while the weather lets me work in the garden.

  • PowerPoint: The storyteller's way

    I admit, I approached Cliff Atkinson's book Beyond Bullet Points with a little skepticism. I thought the subtitle ("Using Microsoft PowerPoint to create presentations that inform, motivate, and inspire") promised more than I expected the book would deliver.

    (Plus it irritates me that so much of the blame for poor public speaking is placed on PowerPoint. It's like blaming karaoke machines for bad singers.)

    So I started reading. And got interested immediately, because the whole method that the book is based on is centered on the story. Telling a story to the audience. PowerPoint is just the tool for creating the story, and the resulting slides help the audience follow the story.

    Since one of my favorite books is Robert McKee's "Story", seeing how that approach could be made into a step-by-step method that anyone can use to structure and create an interesting presentation was fascinating for me. (I did start thinking of examples of presentations that wouldn't be as effective using this method, but one size never really fits all and what's important is that "Beyond Bullet Points" would work for many topics and audiences and occasions.)

    For more information, check out his interview on Office Online: "A talk with Cliff Atkinson".

    If fiction is more your style, indulge in a delightful spoof of "The Davinci Code".

  • Making sense: help wanted

    I planned to post today about confusing alerts and error messages, but first I scanned through the TechNet blog feed and I discovered a post that fit right in with my topic.

    It's a simple post. Three sentences. Six hyperlinks. And the writing tickled me because it was incongruous. I didn't understand it, probably because I'm not the intended audience (and I don't know for sure who would be...), but it was fun to try and decipher "Slime Mould and the Mechanical Turk".

    And that leads right into talking about confusing alerts and error messages in Data Protection Manager (DPM). On our newsgroup, a sharp-eyed member of the community pointed out that the following alert description contains a confusing number of "or"s...

    Discovered new or deleted volumes or shares or shares have been remapped.

    A grouped version:

    ((New or deleted)(volumes or shares)) or (shares have been remapped).

    Too bad that isn't proper punctuation.

    We're definitely rewriting it in the next version of the product. The point is, alerts and errors already in the product will probably not get the scrutiny that new alerts and errors will. So if you use DPM and encounter an alert, error message, or other text that you find confusing or misleading, tell us! We'll fix it.

  • Really destroying a hard drive

    The phone rings. Cue ominous music. And you hear the dreaded words..."I Just Bought Your Hard Drive".

    What a creepy thought! Yet it happened to the poor gentleman in the story, who had made a good faith attempt to make sure his supposedly damaged hard drive was handled properly.

    I've worried about that, when recycling old computers. I have a Wipeout!-type program that I picked up years ago and I use that, after manually deleting everything and then running Format C:\. Probably still has recoverable data if someone tried hard enough, but I hope to confuse the hard disk enough to make it not worth the trouble. Is it really clean though?

    I never thought of drilling a hole in the physical disk. I wonder if my drill is up to it. On the other hand, one of the commenters insisted even drilling a hole was insufficient...so what would be enough? How do you "clean" your hard drives before discarding or recycling them?