Another great Windows XP feature with another great set of problems: Offline Files. If you have a laptop or unreliable inter-site connectivity, then you know of the necessity of keeping a local copy of your shared files to make them available at all times. The Offline Files feature automatically keeps track of which files need to be synchronized for you, making that offline experience very slick.
Try to do this in a multi-user environment, however, and it will blow up spectacularly. The most common symptoms appear when double clicking a document icon in offline mode. Windows loads the program associated with that type of document, and that program instantly crashes or throws a file error. This happens any time more than one user tries to use the same file offline on the same computer.
Anyone who has attempted a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection in Windows XP has run into this problem: You want to have access to computers at your home or office, but Windows accomplishes this by routing all of your activity to the home network. If your work involves transferring files to a server and surfing the Internet, then your Internet activity has to piggyback on the VPN and travel twice within your limited home bandwidth. This means your slow VPN is even slower when you load a website, and any interruption of the VPN will break all of your connections to FTP sites, IM services, etc.
You may have tried to coerce Windows into routing your traffic to two different gateways, but quickly realized it wasn’t designed to do that. Adding entries to the local routing table can solve the problem temporarily, but doing so requires administrative privileges and ugly dynamic logic to handle a gateway address that changes every time you connect the VPN.
My solution for this scenario comes in two parts: 1. A static address for the VPN client computer, and 2. A persistent route for the VPN client’s static address. This is a bit easier said than done, so the following tutorial includes screenshots and details.
At 2:45 this morning, my home office / techie practice server suffered a catastrophic failure of its primary slave disk. Among other things, that disk was responsible for storing the Active Directory log file for the server’s Windows 2003 domain controller. The device itself was a Maxtor 20 gig model going on 12 years of age. It was still in service after the server’s motherboard overhaul because of the Windows 2000 Active Directory Services recommendation: “For best performance, place the database and the log file on separate hard disks.”
Welcome to the new and very different miqrogroove.com! Every five years or so, this website undergoes a major retooling to keep everything in line with my plans and expectations. Ten years ago, the transition was from GeoCities to a University of Michigan server, where the website experienced a period of rapid growth and change. That was the golden age of sharing files and sending e-mails through websites. Within five years after that, miqrogroove.com had moved to professional hosting and consisted of many thousands of pages in multiple natural languages. That period included the birth of social networking on the web, and common availability of megabit residential Internet service.
Today I am weighing three undeniable trends in the life cycle of miqrogroove.com. Most importantly is the fact that past phases of growth added some scrapbook-like features that were never updated. In a system of static files, it is very bad to do that because the addition of new content always increases the burden of management. Five years ago, the way to get around that problem on a budget was to design a custom web application from scratch, or even use a hideous pre-packaged web portal system. On the bright side, there are now mature, free, content management platforms spanning the skill range from sophomore webmaster all the way up to rocket-scientist information modeler. Setting up a weblog-style page is already second nature to the masses, so the weblog itself has become appropriately automated for adding and archiving pages of real content.