So much for having a holiday...

At last a real holiday, not a trip to a conference lightly disguised as work. Just what I needed when I got back was a dead server - worse still the server that runs my mail, DNS and proxy. Mind you, keeping NT4 up to date with the latest service packs and fixes was getting to be onerous to say the least (I got hacked in June, though thankfully not too badly). So, out with the CDs and I now have a new box running Exchange 2000 and Internet Security Acceleration (ISA) Server on Windows 2000.

In fact the setup and configuration was actually much easier than with NT4, especially with the Windows Update feature to keep the OS up to date. I can't remember when I last built a box with this much complex software on it and didn't get any install errors. Very impressive. I even find I get less than 10 warnings a day in the Event Log, so it must have been one of those "good software days". Shame they don't come round more often.

I must admit that getting to grips with Exchange 2000 isn't easy, especially the fact that it's so directly integrated with Active Directory. As I have only a small local network, most of my email addresses were Custom Recipients in Exchange 5.5, and having to put them into AD seems a bit odd. Probably that's just me being old-fashioned (OK, so I do still wear flares - they're coming back you know). Mind you, I've started using a Public Folder to hold contact details now, and it seems to make more sense. I can regularly back it up via Outlook, so at least I shouldn't loose the latest version the next time I get a disk crash.

The tough bit is getting the IP filtering right - I did find that ISA is easier to work with than Proxy Server 2.0 once you get your head round the new MMC-based interface, but it's still not a trivial task. There's a Wizard to help set up a secure mail server, but not much to help set up filters for DNS servers and zone transfers. I suppose most people don't run it behind a proxy server.

What's frightening is the result of the new firewall and IP filter monitoring. The logs seem to grow at an alarming rate, and it's amazing how many times a port scan or other attack is reported. OK, so some might be false alarms, but the entries in the log seem real enough to me. I'm also amazed by the number of packets and requests that are blocked. Everything seems to be working, so I guess it's proving to be "a good thing"!


Yes, OK, I know you're getting impatient to know about Cyprus. Well, it was hot (very), the sea was still cold (isn't it always), and it was full of amazing history (mainly Roman - the rather bland photo here shows a 2000-year old marble mosaic floor in a newly-excavated Roman villa). But the food was cheap and good, and the people extremely friendly. Of course, the fact that many of us English travellers only know two languages (English and American) means places that have (or had) a strong tie with the British Armed Forces are a good destination option. Amazingly, however, Cyprus also has UK-style 13A power sockets, "proper" 250 Volt mains supply, and they use Pounds as the currency - they're even about the same value as ours! And, more amazing still, they drive on the right side of the road - by that I mean the "right" side, i.e. the left. So we really felt at home. A bit like Derbyshire with sunshine and a beach...
Mind you, the hotel was wierd - as you can see from the photos above of the exterior and interior. And I don't want to talk about all those mirrors. Still, as you can see from the following photos, we did the usual "tourist things" - visited some beaches and coves, rode up to the top of the Troodos mountains (in a 4 x 4, not on one of those horses). We also visited the Baths of Aphrodite, where bathing in the magic spring waters kept the godess Aphrodite young forever. It's said that a single dip in the pool makes you twenty years younger. That's my Mum in the middle in the photo below...
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