Monday, March 30, 2009

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kiosk Surprises

Our entire staff left Friday for our Christmas break and when we came back in this morning and powered back up our Kisosks / check-in machines we had a little surpirse.... some one has put a BIOS password on them- and no it was not our staff.
Thankfully we were just preparing to begin to use these over the next couple of weeks.
Does any one else want to volunteer to disect one of these all in one units?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Projector Mounts

Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of work for our second campus we will be starting in January. Today I was purchasing projector mounts and came accross this:
Are they just telling me they are over priced?
I did call the vender and this is not a mistake, they actually do sell it for that price.
I do admire the fact that they are honest in how much they are making.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Power of Arena

Arena ChMS ( has a really cool email agent that goes out and collects hard bounces from out outgoing mail and inactiviates the email accounts.
It also tags it with a note saying it was inactivated by the email cleanup agent.
This last week we were able to use SQL reporting services to create a report that we could use to send to our staff and post on our intranet of all the inactive emails.
We will see what the results look like, but by looking at the list I have a feeling alot of our staff have the current emails sitting in Outlook or PDA's, etc. And we will be able to get most of them taken care of.

Service U?

For the past few days I have been trouble shooting this problem off and on about not being able to get to the http://events.serviceu page on our network. The fiist thing I thought of was that during a power outage we had with the ice storms the router config managed to get corrupted. - Not true. I checked the config aginst the printed out config in our database and all looked well. The next thing I happened to do was run a trace route from our network to EventU. It stopped and lost a hop at our ISPs network- I called them and they could get to it just fine. When the ISP being able to get to it- I reluctantly took our internet off of our private network and gave myself a static IP on our ISP's end. It worked. There is no problem with routing. I then called EventU and had them run a trace route to my router. It looked fine, and stopped right at the external IP of our router. The last thing I thought of was that EventU could be blocking our external static IP. I thought it was worth a shot- so I decided to change the IP address that our internet traffic comes from. Once I did that I could hit EventU just fine. EventU blocked our external IP address from getting to the site. Why? I have yet to determine that. They claim we have been port scanning them- which in my humble opinion is not possible- since we did not have internet connection for two days. I would really like to get my hands on a copy of the logs to see what really was going on.

Monday, November 19, 2007


So its 4:18 AM now and the exchange server is down again- looks to be the same problem- but the same steps did not fix it. I am now doing a Win2003 Serve repair install.... we'll see what happens. I might go home and take a nap soon :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Not your typical Sunday

I had the privlidge of waking up this morning with our production exchange server being down over at the church. I went in around 8:00 AM to check it out - and I found this error "windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \System32\ntoskrnl.exe" The server would not start. I tried doing a repair install- but Windows did not recognize that Windows was installed on the system when I went in to do it. So I decided after about an hour of trying to give Microsoft support a call. (I have 2 free Incidents with my MSDN subscription- which includes after hours Sat and Sun support. It only costs $170- I recomend that every one buys this :) ) After getting connected immediatly to a support rep from India named Raual we tried a few different things- 1. We ran chkdsk in the recovery council- no go, did not help anything. It took about 45 minutes to run this the first time. 2. We ran it again- if found some errors and fixed them- we then tried to boot to Windows- nothing. Still a corrupt file. - this took another 45 minutes. 3. We tried once again to do a repair install- but it still failed to run. 4. So we then tried to go into the recovery council and extract the ntoskrnl.ex_ file into the C:\Windows\System32 folder. It worked- and we rebooted the server and we still recived the same error. 4. We then decided it was not the ntoskrnl.exe file that was causing the error. The boot.ini file had been deleted. We then proceded to open up the recovery council again and type in bootcfy /rebuild. Once than ran- it rebuilt the boot config and the server started up as normal. This was the first time our Exchange Server has been down in the 3 years I have been on staff at the church. It was a great time for testing out our disaster recovery and backup plan. If we would not have got the sytem up- we would have lost around 22 minutes of email. From 12:01 AM to 12:23 AM. I would call this a fairly good disaster recovery plan. I will post tommorow about our plan that we have in place and what it entails.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mac and AD Integration

While I have been doing some research on this topic I have come accross a website that others may find some what handy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Creative MYK

If you are looking for images to use for your church or ministry check this site out:
Its great for ideas, and for uploading your own images to share.
Go a head and give it a try.

Katharion Anti-Spam

Over the last year our internet has been very slow and over loaded with traffic. We have been hosting five different websites and an exchange server on the internet connection that is also shared with our staff offices.
The problem being, we were getting around 10,000 spam messages per day hitting our servers- most to email addresses that did not exsist on our network.
About three months ago- we swtiched to Katharion ( to filter our emails before they hit our internet connection/server.
We then configured our ISA server to only let incomming connections from Katharions allowed subnets and IP address ranges.
It has worked very well- and we get very few false positives.
Since- in the last month we have configured LDAPs with a secure certificate issued on both of our ends to sync our user accounts from Exchange / Active Directory up to Katharion automatically.
This allows us to do single sign on with active directory accounts to a service that is not even located on our campus. We are very pleased with there service.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Alot has happened

WOW! Alot has happened in our IT Ministry since I have last blogged. Here are some highlights that I will expand on in a later post. 1. We have switched to ArenaChMS ( by Shelby systems for our membership and church management system. What a big improvent from Shelby V5- we are very impressed. 2. We have switched from our much loved Computer Associates Anti-Spam filter to Katharion. I thought CA was easy- but Katharion just adds a whole new realm to easy. 3. We are doing nightly off site backups of our Databases and Exchange server using MozyPro. The service is great! 4. We have added many new desktops and laptops to support new staff. 5. We have begun the process of designing a new website within the Arena ChMS software. 6. We have automated the mapping of printers and network drives based on security groups. Well that's just a small snap shot. Now some details on a project by project basis.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Windows Vista

Im not usually one to generally post videos, but I would say this is a must see for any of us IT people. It is pretty humerous. New York Times Vista Video

Monday, February 12, 2007

Backup System

Tommorow night we will be presenting our admin comitee with a plan for doing network backups. Here is what I have decided to go with.
A dual core Dell server with 500 Gig of space (three times our current needed space for backup's) and Microsofts Data Potaction Manager software that is still curently in beta.
This looks like a some what "cheap" and decent solution for us.
I have looked into Veritas and well frankly is seems just a bit out of our price range. Even with the not for profit discount (which yes, its nice they finally offer one, but its just not that much of a discount).
So thats where were up to.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dell Support

One of our equipping staff has a Latitude D610 that ocassionally just will not power up. I thought it was a user error, since I have never been there to witness it. So he brought the laptop to me today while it wouldnt start up, at the same time I had Dell support on the phone. I was getting very fusterated because an opperator would transfer me and then my call would get dropped, and it would happen again and again.
After a few tries I called my account rep, who was very helpful and got me transfered over to Latitude support right away. In a matter of minutes I had some one on the phone, and support call incident, and reference number, and a brand-new motherboard and a tech on the way to install it.
Since I did not get threw till 5:01 PM, I will not get it untill Thursday. In the end I was really impressed with the support. We pay for next buisness day support, and that is exactly what we got.
Thank you Dell.

Adventures of ISA Server

Well over the Christmas holiday, one of our great volunteers and I finally, after two years of holding off for rediculous excuses put of firewall in place. We redid all the IP's of our internal and external network, moved all trafic over to ISA Server, and everything has been working great.
Just for some humor here is some of the mistakes we have made.
1. Made FTP read only
2. Accidentally blocked all traffic comming into the building
3. Had FTP and Web on the same ISA policy, blocking FTP traffic since web came first.
4. Trying many different ways to get VPN to work, none of which have been really sucessful. It seems to work some of the time but not all of the time. I am wondering if we really need to be running DNS and all those other services on the ISA box. That has worked the best so far. Any one else have any experience with this?
Well that was this last Christmas break...

SPAM Statistics

We have been using Computer Associates for about two years now and I have not really looked a logs much. As with any one in the church IT world, its just busy and when you know the SPAM filtering is working, why really bother to see how many its catching. Here are the statistics for the 2006 year. We have caught alot of SPAM, and its was very cheap to do so.


To follow suite with some of you other church IT fok, here is our Google Analytics stats. Like many others, we also have some readers from some, well far out places.

We have been using Google Analytics for about three months now, and thats what this represents. This does not represent my blog, it represents our church website,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Strategic Goals

Every year we get to look at what we have accomplished in the last year and then plan for the next year / years down the road. We call this our "Strategic Goals". Here is what I have planned for the next few years- and as well all know.... these things can change. I have added it as a link. Click Here

Microsoft Office 2007

Well I did it. I ordered five copies (which is the minimum for volume license customers) to begin testing Microsoft Office 2007. I have been running the beta for a few months now and I really like the new user interface and some of the new features. I have no plans on rolling this out to all our staff any time in the near future- we are all on Office 2003 right now. Maybe by the end of next year we will go a head and do that.
What are some other people thoughts?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Time Issues

Our mature adult / missions pastor, James has been having many problems with his laptop recently. Surprising enough, it is the only laptop that is not a Latitude, its an Inspiron. He is on the list to get a new one this June when the new fiscal year starts, so we are just trying to get by. You might be asking what this is leading to. He sent me an email this morning saying his computer said it was 3:38 AM and the computer was not progressing in time, but instead it was subtracting time (great for all of us who wish we could go back in time). I thought this was really weird. Being only part time, I didnt get in untill 12:30 today. When I came in I immediatly realized that the problem was not on just his PC but on every PC. After a quick observation- the domain controller had locked up, and we didnt have secondary one setup. So after changing the time on the DC, installing a few updates and rebooting the rest of the servers to get them to sync again we were back up in service. It made for an interesting day. It makes me wonder though- would a secondary domain controller have helped in this, or would we still have the same problem. Also- it made all our emails say they were comming in at weird times and that did not fix it self once I fixed the issue. Any one have any sugestions? -Austin

Monday, November 27, 2006

Current Projects

Well I thought I would just share some current projects I have right now. 1. Installing and configuring ISA Server as our firewall with CA Secure Content Manager for webfiltering 2. Researching and implementing a backup system with policies to follow. (we currently are really not prepared for much of a disaster.) 3. Finish cabling our youth complex for future check-in PC's. (cables are run and just need crimped and punched down.) 4. Continue to research and eventually come to a conclusion with the help of a great team of people on a new ChMS. 5. Website redesign and implementation of many new features (online giving, small groups manangement, teachers section, worship leaders section... etc- some currently done through a dotnetnuke portal system) Well thats the big stuff.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Email SPAM Filtering

Over the last year, our spam has continuously increased and it has been a constant battle to keep under control. We are using some really powerful software form Computer Associates called Secure Content Manager. Once it is up, it works well. The ammount of time it takes to get it up and working well is the problem, it also takes alot of resources from the server, and requires a SQL database. Today the though passed through my head to look more into Postini for that aspect of the network. I know alot of other church's and businesses are using it. What are some some of yall's thoughts on it? -Austin

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Maybe i'm missing something....

For those of you that use Exchange 2003 for your email sever and have public folders setup, we have one called "staff calender" that has all our vacation time posted on it, and times people are in and out. We have noticed that its a real pain for our staff to find, they have to switch to the folder view, then go to public folders, then all public folders, then "staff calender". Does any one else have the same problem with exchange public folders? Any one doing anything uniqe to make this easier to find?

Server Backup Software (Disaster Recovery)

Recently I have started working on a "IT Disaster Plan" which will cover the procedures to use if certain things happen on our network, which has lead me to research into some backup solutions. Currently we are just running a bunch of scrips, which are a disaster to update and most of the time do not work and I just end up doing the daily / weekly / monthly backup's by hand any way's. If some of you could post what you are using for backup software it would be great! I have looked into using Symantec and Computer Associates so far, any one have any experience with either?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fellowship One (Part 2)

Well its over. We had our second demo with Fellowship One today. We ruled them out as an option about a year ago, when their feature set just did not provide what we were looking for, but they made a second appearance on our list when they took the initiative to contact us. We were very impressed with the new features and the direction of the company.

VHD Dies

The events cordinator at New Covenant forwarded me this today: "VHS is dead, Variety declares in an obituary Wednesday. "After a long illness, the groundbreaking home-entertainment format VHS has died of natural causes in the United States. The format was 30 years old." The newspaper notes that VHS " is survived by a child, DVD, and by TiVo, VOD and DirecTV" and was preceded in death by Betamax, Divx, mini-discs and laserdiscs. The paper said that while VHS had been ailing, the format's death became official this quarter as retailers decided to pull the plug, saying shelf space was no longer available. Surviving VHS tapes may be found in toy stores or some dollar video chains "for those who cannot deal with the death of the format." (GS) "

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Symantec Charity-

After many years, it looks as if Symantec has finally come on board with charity pricing. About two years ago now, we left Symantec and switched to Computer Associates for our anti-virus solution. After about two years, we finally have it working! I am excited to finally be able to look into Symantec again, since they are known for a quality product line.

Fellowship One

After many weeks of research by our deacon of IT and my self, we now have another demo set with Fellowship One for tommorow afternoon. I am excited to see what they have to offer as far as some new features. The last demo we had with them was about a year ago, when we started throwing around the idea of switching to a new ChMS, and well... we were just not that impressed. But after talking with other church's and reading they look to have come along ways. I am really excited to see what they have to say about their new "self check-in" system, that would not be run by volunteers.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Anti Virus / Spam Filtering / Content Filtering

We have been using computer associates for our SPAM filtering and content filtering using there Secure Content Manager software, and have been using E-Trust Antivirus for our anti virus software. We have had alot of problems with CA, but there technical support is unbelivable. They will remotely assist us on our server with about any problem, and even help configure it. I guess what I am trying to ask is what is everyone else out there using? Any one else using CA for anything? I am excited about Symantec having Charity pricing!

ChMS Options (2)

Well like I said in the last entry were down to some final choices for our ChMS. Arena is diffently the only one we are really looking at, but I am excited to see what Fellowship Technologies has added to Fellowship One in the last year. Who knows maybe they will make the list again. The main features we are looking for are these: 1. Will work as a staff intranet 2. Has a qucik search for looking up people, addresses and numbers 3. Self- touch screen check in 4. Easly do reports of different feilds 5. Work as a website content managment system 6. A database that our youth staff likes 7. The abilitiy to do a mass email through the software 8. Work as a tool for communications department to keep track of bulletin and news letter requests I am sure I am missing some, but thats a good start.

Monday, November 06, 2006

ChMS Options

I had a great conversation today with Tony Dye form Perimeter Church today about different ChMS options, and we are both running into a lot of the same problems. There is really not one option out there that is good enough. I really like the idea of the Microsoft CRM, even though I have not heard much about it. Something about a bunch of companies working together and a choice of companies to work with for competitive pricing sounds like a great idea. Latly our church has been leaning towards Arena, mainly because we want to keep Shelby for the financial side, and the fact that Arena will have the option to add, change and manipulate the code. New Covenant will most likely be switching to Arena in the coming year if all goes as planned. It may seem like a coincidence, but is any one else observing that there are a lot of church’s out there looking to switch to a new, or do an original purchase of a ChMS? Well that is where we are at right now on our decision process with Arena and other ChMS’s.

Where were at

I have been a faithful reader of many church IT blogs and have gained alot of information. After much reading, I have decided to share some of my thoughts regarding the subject of church IT and some things that our church is looking at.