1. Book Review

Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies: The Ultimate Administrator's Repair Manual
Author: Chris Wolf
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Published: July 2003
ISBN: 0321133455
Paperback, 736 pages, plus companion CD-ROM
Price: $49.99

When Chris Wolf wrote "Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies: The Ultimate Administrator's Repair Manual," he clearly had a certain audience in mind--specifically, systems and network administrators who are responsible for ensuring that their company's Microsoft networks run smoothly. But Wolf's book also can be a useful reference for other IT professionals (e.g., Help desk analysts). The book is even suitable reading for more experienced end users who, in Wolf's words, are "looking to exert a new level of problem solving independence."

The first five chapters of "Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies" present a comprehensive discussion of the most commonly used strategies for diagnosing and resolving problems. These chapters concentrate on topics such as the basics of networking, available troubleshooting techniques, and the monitoring and diagnostic tools that you can deploy.

These chapters don't try to teach you all you need to know about networking. Other books can do that, but as Wolf points out, "you cannot troubleshoot without fundamental knowledge of the big picture." Readers with the appropriate level of knowledge can either skim the early chapters or skip them altogether and turn to the later chapters, which can help them solve specific problems.

Chapters 6 through 13 turn the spotlight on resolving problems that might develop when you're working with specific Microsoft technologies. These chapters cover the following technologies in detail: Microsoft Office XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP disk architecture, DNS, WINS, DHCP, Routing and Remote Access, and Active Directory (AD). After you read these chapters, you'll be armed with knowledge that can help you troubleshoot, among other technologies, client-server environments and network and application services.

"Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies" concludes with three appendices. The first appendix, "Command Line Troubleshooting Tool Reference," provides a handy, alphabetical list of the available Windows command-line troubleshooting tools. Each item in this list gives the name of a tool, a brief description of the tool, and the tool's syntax and command options. The second appendix, "Common Error Codes," lists the common error codes and associated messages that you might see when running and administering your systems. This appendix consists of two major subsections: device errors and stop errors.

The third appendix, "Third Party Tools," provides details about 15 third-party tools, such as Tsarfin Computing's IPMonitor and a suite of information-collection tools from SmartLine. Wolf notes that "while you can go into battle with Microsoft tools alone, the fight is much easier with the support of other vendors." The book's companion CD-ROM contains product demonstrations, shareware, and trial or freeware versions of the listed third-party tools. The appendix includes URLs for the listed companies so that you can easily find additional information about the tools.

As an example of how Wolf has designed the chapters, let's take a look at the "Office XP" chapter. The chapter begins with a general discussion of Office's troubleshooting tools, such as application recovery, automatic recovery, detect and repair, and document recovery. Then, the chapter presents a list of "Office setup failure quick checks" that can be of enormous assistance when you're trying to eliminate the frustrating errors that Wolf refers to as "obvious." The bulk of the chapter consists of errors and solutions that pertain to individual Office applications: Microsoft Access, Excel, Outlook, MPowerPoint, and Word. If you spend a large percentage of your working day dealing with Office problems, this chapter alone might justify purchasing this book.

Many IT professionals cling to an old way of thinking: Problem solving is more akin to an art than a science. But in the preface to "Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies," Wolf rebuts that philosophical approach when he states that by using the right methodology, "one can systematically analyze and repair problems affecting an individual computer or an entire network." Wolf's practical philosophy is one that all of us who work in IT would be well advised to adopt.

For more details about this book, visit the publisher's Web site at http://www.awprofessional.com. The sample chapter provided online contains a brief overview of the material covered in each of the subsequent chapters. Browsing this chapter is an excellent way to quickly determine whether "Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies" should be the next IT book you read.

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3. New from Windows IT Library

When a Handheld Becomes Information Technology's Problem. After reading this chapter from "PDA Security," you'll know how security and management solutions can work together for better integration of the PDA into your business. You'll also be able to calculate the risks that PDAs create for your business, and you'll understand how PDAs can function within your enterprise infrastructure.

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4. New Books in Print

DNS on Windows Server 2003. This book is intended primarily for administrators who manage zones and one or more name servers, but it also includes material for network engineers, postmasters, and others. The book addresses the crucial concern of DNS security, including details about preventing unauthorized zone transfers, securing dynamic updates, and disabling recursion on delegated name servers. The authors pay special attention to system tuning, caching, and zone-change notification and cover such topics as troubleshooting and planning for growth.
http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/dnswinsvr

Windows Admin Scripting Little Black Book, 2nd Edition. This book covers Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP, scripting Symantec's Norton Antivirus, automating applications through SendKeys, scripting a silent XP service pack, exporting email attachments in Microsoft Outlook, and much more. The author uses the latest scripting language and tools, including shell scripting, KiXtart, Windows Script Host (WSH), Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), and AutoIT. The book includes a new and highly useful tutorial about scripting languages and tools. The book also teaches users how to quickly write complex logon scripts without requiring expertise in programming.
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5. New eBooks

Content Security in the Enterprise--Spam and Beyond. High-speed Internet access has become ubiquitous across small and large enterprises worldwide. Businesses acknowledge that Internet applications such as email, Web browsing, and Instant Messaging (IM) are an essential medium to communicate with customers, suppliers, and partners. But with the opportunities that these applications provide come many risks and threats that an organization needs to address. "Content Security in the Enterprise--Spam and Beyond" explores these risks and discusses ways in which you can reduce or eliminate them by limiting inappropriate use, eliminating spam, protecting corporate information assets, and ensuring that these vital Internet applications are secure and available for authorized business purposes. You can download the first chapter at the following URL:

Migrating to Windows Server 2003, Active Directory, and Exchange 2003. "Migrating to Windows Server 2003, Active Directory, and Exchange 2003" delivers invaluable guidance to large and small enterprises that are migrating from Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server, or Exchange Server 5.5. Readers will flatten their learning curve and reduce their pain quotient by implementing practices that have proven effective in the field. You can download the first two chapters of this free eBook at the following URL:

6. Windows IT Library Top Five

A+ Certification: How to Pass Your Exams. This book walks you through all the skills tested in the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) A+ Core Hardware exam and A+ OS Technologies exam.

Microsoft Windows NT Server Administrator's Bible: Option Pack Edition. This book provides specific coverage of the Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack add-ons to help you plan, install, configure, manage, optimize, and connect NT Server 4.0 to the Internet.

Microsoft Windows NT Secrets: Option Pack Edition. Packed with the kind of notes, tips, and workarounds that come only from years of working day in and day out with a product, this book will help you optimize the performance, reliability, and security of your network.

The Microsoft Outlook E-Mail and Fax Guide. Written for Microsoft Outlook end users and the administrators who support them, this volume explains all the real-world tasks that you're likely to encounter when working with Outlook and includes many timesaving techniques that take you beyond the basics.

Undocumented Windows NT. This book documents what goes on under the covers in Windows NT. Three experts share what they've dug up on NT through years of hands-on research and programming experience. The authors dissect the Win32 interface, deconstruct the underlying APIs, and decipher the Memory Management architecture to help you understand operations, fix flaws, and enhance performance.

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