Guy’s Best Practice Ezine 145 – Bluster, or the Real Deal?

Guy’s Best Practice Ezine 145 – Bluster, or the Real Deal?

My position is that all departments, especially IT, benefit from a mixture of both men and women.  While the physical differences between the genders are obvious, there are more subtle distinctions between male and female approaches to problem solving, consequently, a mixed workforce can cover all bases and thus function more efficiently.

Technical computing is still a largely male dominated profession; therefore,I encourage every IT department that I visit to employ more women.  My reasoning is that having a mixed staff not only gives a better balanced atmosphere, but also that women have a different slant on problem solving, which is useful when it comes to troubleshooting.

Litmus Tests

Over the last 40 years I have seen at close quarters how women have caught up and overtaken men academically.  However, one area where men still rule the roost is the ability to exaggerate their achievements, to tell tall stories, to bluster their way out of a tight spot.  Often this ability to embellish their job history is the reason why they landed a particular computer post.

This week I have questions, or ‘Litmus tests’, which are designed for managers to discover if a new Exchange techie is the real deal, or a deceiving impostor.  Alternatively, if you have Exchange expertise you may like to try my questions and even dispute some of my answers!

Question 1:What is the purpose of aCheckpoint File

Checkpoint files such as E00.chk, are a record of all completed Exchange transactions.  In Exchange, the logs are ‘write-ahead’, meaning transactions are saved into log files, then at some time later, the email data is committed to the database. 

There is one .chk file for each mail storage group and I think of each checkpoint file as a progress file.  The ESE engine reads the checkpoint file to see how far it has got with writing these transactions into the database .edb store. 

Question 2:Is Circular Logging a good idea?

No! When circular logging starts overwriting some of your early logs it makes it impossible to restore any email or Exchange transactions since the last full backup.  For any database, recycling the log files in this manner is only an emergency measure when you have exhausted all other ways of freeing up disk space.

By the way, enabling circular logging removes the option to create differential backups.  To digress further, Exchange 2007 has Local continuous replication (LCR), cluster continuous replication (CCR) and standby continuous replication (SCR) provide a level of protection for mailbox data, this is addition to normal backups.

Question 3:What is the difference between a Mailbox user and a Mail user?

When it comes to understanding recipient types in Exchange 2007, ask yourself, ‘Does the object have an account in active directory? And, where is the email stored?’

A mailbox user describes the classic Microsoft Exchange recipient. They have an Active Directory account, and a mailbox which connects to a database in your Exchange organization.

A mail user also has an Active Directory logon account, but is configured for an email address outside your Exchange organization.

My hidden agenda with this question is to alert you to Microsoft’s name changes in Exchange 2007, for example, the Exchange System Manager, is now the Exchange Management Console.  One day soon I will give a fulsome account of all the new features in Exchange 2007, but today is about simple questions to suss out those who pretend to know more than they really do.

Question 4: Why is Function Level important in Exchange 2007? 
Supplementary Question: How would you change the Function Level?

You should use at raise the function level to at least Windows 2000 Server native.  Each and every domain in the Active Directory forest where you install Exchange 2007 requires a minimum function level of: Windows Server 2000 Native.

Incidentally, many network managers realize they are inexperienced at the art of interviewing, therefore they find it easier to judge prospective employees on their responses to practical tasks.  Here is an example of a challenge they could set:

To check or change the Function Level, they should follow this path:

Open Active Directory Users and Computers
right-click on YourDomain (Grey computer icon)
Select: Raise Domain Functional Level
If necessary, choose: Windows Server 2000 Native

The above steps sorted out the DOMAIN function level, but you should also check the FOREST Functional Levels.  Start by right-clicking Active Directory Domains and Trusts.  One more point, whilst Windows 2000 is the minimum requirement, I would research to see if you could raise the Function Level to Windows 2003.  The only problem is that if you make a mistake, you cannot revert to Windows 2000.


My idea is for you to develop simple questions and practical tests that determine if a prospective IT techie is all bluster, or whether they will be an asset to your company.  My greatest joy would be if you took my concept and tailored the questions to suit your IT department.


Will and Guy’s Humour

When Will and Guy reviewed their site’s most popular page for May, they were surprised to find it was: ‘Good Jokes’.

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