Light Reading…

In the last few months, I have been devouring books on management, leadership, success, and balance. This blog entry is to post some of the passages I’ve highlighted.


“Right or wrong, we live in a society where we don’t like men who act like women and we don’t like women who act like men.”

“Stop volunteering for low-profile, low-impact assignments. If necessary, sit on your hand rather than raise it.”

“Promotions are rewards for getting the job done, not necessarily doing the job.” 

“People do not know and judge us by our intentions; they know and judge us by our actions.”

“Define your work hours and stick with them. Remember Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands to fill the time available.” This isn’t to say there won’t be times when you must work overtime, but if you’re consistently the last one left at the office, there’s something wrong with that picture.”

THE ONE THING by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan

“The toughest part is navigating a high-level request. How do you say no to anyone important—your boss, a key client, your mom—who asks you to do something with a high sense of urgency? One way is to say yes and then ask, “If I have that done by [a specific time in the future], would that work?” Most often, these requests are more about an immediate need to hand a task off than about a need for it to be done immediately, so the requester usually just wants to know it will get done. Sometimes the request is real, needs to be done now, and you must drop what you’re doing and do it.”


“Yet in spite of that studied consensus, the world is overflowing with managers who embrace the worst and ignore the best.”

“He had been as tough as anyone I’d ever seen…the expectations were incredible. As our time together got longer, he got softer. And the lesson I took from that is you can never be soft in the early stage, and then turn hard. But you can always be a high-demand leader, and then over time…soften your approach.”

“It is being visible when things are going awry, and invisible when they are working well.”

“I don’t want planning,” he’d lecture them. “I want plans.”

“I encourage them to raise their hands, to be seen, to make a statement. I tell them, “If GE can’t be the place where you can get rid of that victim feeling, go somewhere else.” And we try to weed out the managers who make employees feel like victims, the managers who lose staff all the time.”

“Critics say forced rankings of employees undermines teamwork. It encourages employees to engage in destructive and wasteful game playing designed to ensure they get credit, or others don’t.”


My Favorite Things

Another installment of Crystal’s Favorite Things, and this time they don’t all exist in a computer:

IT Installs and Nightmares – my favorite IT group on Facebook, always good for a relatable laugh or cringe if you’ve ever been in an IT support role.  My favorites are the spaghetti wire messes that lazy techs leave in datacenters.

Poshmark – my favorite way to make extra cash online and declutter my home.  This site lets you build your ‘closet’ of new and used clothing that you’ve stopped wearing or grown/shrunk out of.  An IT girl got me hooked, I know I’ve gotten a couple of other IT girls hooked, and this site just keeps surprising me by selling my stuff consistently.  I grew up in a town of yard sales and had many of them before Posh…I get 200% more net from Posh with less than half of the work.  You simply should not sell high-end items from your yard. – use code CRYSTALITE3 to get $5 off your first order!

The Happy Planner – my favorite old-school planner with all the bells and whistles.  I just recently converted back to a physical notebook-style planner because my highly organized friend gifted one to me that was so beautiful…every page, tab, cover and insert are carefully designed and you can buy dozens of custom sticker books that are just the right size for the spaces in this book.  Using it I’ve found that I enjoy scrolling through my year and seeing the events unfold on paper and planning what adventures are to come.  I highly recommend giving it a try, they only cost $30 and there are dozens of styles to choose from! – mine’s the blue one with stars all over it 🙂

Print Friendly & PDF – my favorite Chrome Plugin that lets you hover over any section of a document you’re printing and delete portions of it like ads, irrelevant headers/footers, extra URLs that you don’t need on a print-out of a recipe for example, and especially graphics you don’t want to waste ink on.

Facebook Market – favorite place to sell my used Apple products.  Every time I’ve listed a phone or watch on Facebook’s Market I end up with zero scams and a totally real person on the other end who uses their real full name and knows I could message all their friends through the public items on their page if they do anything shady on the deal.  It’s light years beyond the experience I’ve had on CL, Ebay or other lesser sites.  Thumbs up for Facebook doing something useful.

On a Mission

Do you ever get absolutely OBSESSED with something you’re working on, so much that you don’t eat, drink, or go home before the sun goes down?  It’s been that kind of month but I think I’m pretty close to completion on this one.  I’m lucky that I love what I do and it gives me such satisfaction, but it does get in the way of my hobbies like blogging.

I have recently been jotting things down in a OneNote for our interns who are new-to-IT that will help them succeed, so I wanted to share that here for anyone else who might be starting out in this field in any capacity.  It may seem like a lot, but these are all things you can work on one at a time until you’re basically invincible.

Tips to make it in the IT world:

  • Don’t drag your feet when faced with a problem you don’t know how to fix.  We all know the answers are on google.
  • Slow down and become obsessed with the details – a tiny mistake can have big consequences in IT.
  • Don’t ask the same question twice – write the answer down even if you’re not sure you’ll need it again (you probably will).
  • When you encounter a problem, don’t just give it a bandaid.  Think of how you can prevent it from happening to anyone else.
  • Follow best practices, some of them exist because of another person’s mistake so don’t repeat them.
  • Take any task offered to you and treat it with importance even if it’s boring.
  • Find a mentor who will share their wisdom with you.
  • Ask a lot of questions.  It’s ok to ask what you think are ‘dumb’ questions as long as you aren’t asking the same ones over and over again.
  • Leave the drama at home and keep a professional distance from coworkers with some exceptions.  Do share your hobbies and common activities.  Don’t share family drama or money problems/brags.  Don’t talk down about others, but don’t be fake.  It’s ok to share a laugh over a common complaint once in a while but don’t make a habit of complaining.

Add these reminders to your daily morning reading to set your focus if you’re in your first IT job, looking, or if you’re a seasoned veteran who wants to move to the next level.


Outlook Mass Attachment Removal

Have you ever come across an Exchange mailbox that was so large it was busting at the seams of your database drive and was found to be jam packed with large attachments?  You could go through each email and remove the attachments one by one, or you could download Nirsoft’s free OutlookAttachView:

This came in very handy to me when a sales user at our company had sent out a 23MB file hundreds of times, when it really could have been a 500k graphic if it was properly sized.  This tool worked like a charm to rip them out of the mailbox leaving each email intact.

When you open it you’ll choose your settings for the Mailbox Scan and I found that only “Use the default Outlook profile” worked, so I just set the mailbox I was working on as the default profile in Windows/Control Panel/Mail/Profiles.


Exchange 2016 Defaults

Anytime you upgrade Exchange, your new servers will have some default settings that you may need to root out.  The most immediate one to address is the default Mailbox size limits that are listed when you create a new mailbox database – they are pretty stingy so increase these on the Limits tab or set to unlimited.

Another one that caught me off guard recently on Exchange 2016 is a message rate limit imposed on certain receive connectors, namely the Client Frontend and the Client Proxy. A developer saw this error in some app logs as a symptom: by: com.sun.mail.smtp.SMTPSendFailedException: 421 4.4.2 Message submission rate for this client has exceeded the configured limit


To find the rate limits of your connectors, enter the following command into an Exchange shell:

get-receiveconnector | ft name,messageratelimit


You’ll see a list of all connectors and their messageratelimit.  Some of mine said 5 which was a default setting.  Since I have other protections in our enterprise such as Anti-virus with mail worm protection and outbound filtering, I want all of my rates to be unlimited.  I wrote this simple command to make that happen:


get-receiveconnector | set-receiveconnector -MessageRateLimit Unlimited


Once you make that change, be sure to restart your transport service on each Exchange server that previously had a limit of 5 and you’ll be free of these limitations.


Another annoying setting is the default MAPI limit, and with the preferred connection method being MAPI with Exchange 2016 you’ll want to increase yours from the default which I believe is 50:

Log into each Exchange server

Open the registry editor

Goto the following key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSExchangeIS\ParametersSystem

Right click on ParameterSystem and select new, then select key

Rename the new key to MaxObjsPerMapiSession

Right click on MaxObjsPerMapiSession and select new, then select DWORD (32-bit) Value

Rename the new DWORD value to objtMessage

Change the value to a higher number (I set mine to 1500)

Restart the Information Store service


And finally, the content filter.  If you already have an enterprise-grade upper-Gartner-quadrant spam filter, you do not need Exchange inspecting your emails because it will block completely valid emails.  To turn that off you’ll need to run Get-ContentFilterConfig and take a look at each feature that’s turned on.  Then run Set-ContentFilterConfig -<servicename> $false and don’t forget to run this separately on each EDGE server since they will not sync these settings and will continue to block as I learned the hard way.

Women in STEM

As an alumni of the Texas Academy of Math and Science and a female technology engineer, I am occasionally asked to speak to Women in STEM for various conventions and publications.  I have been pondering what to say to young women who are excelling in math and science and might consider a STEM career.

In the past I hosted a booth at the Sally Ride Science Festival at SMU that was geared towards 1st to 5th grade girls.  This festival arose because there is a drastic drop-off during that range where young girls list math and science as their favorite subjects, and suddenly that changes as they get into middle school and higher grades.  Why is this?  What is turning these young girls off to careers in STEM despite their interest?  In my experience from a small rural town in Southern Illinois, I was taught that those types of jobs were for men and that women should go into teaching, marketing, nursing, or becoming a housewife.  Those are all admirable careers, but I knew that I loved math and science and I wanted to figure out complicated problems in some way.  IT gave me a taste of it and I never looked back.

IT wasn’t my first choice, I actually wanted to be an astronomer.  I never went to school for IT but I was given the chance to try it when I was a poor student barely scraping by.  The entry-level helpdesk salary I was offered was gigantic at the time so I jumped in.  I learned quickly and jumped ahead of the pack at each IT job with the help of some amazing companies who gave me a chance to work above my station.  Sometimes you have to break things in order to fully understand how they work and I created my fair share of problems along the way.

I’ve had many amazing managers but my success is because of the ‘mean boss’ I had a few jobs ago.  His words stung at times and for a while I resented him, but he pushed me and helped me set higher standards for myself and those around me.  He taught me not to take no for an answer, to fight for things that I knew were right, and to demand a higher level of service from our vendors.  If I had only ever worked for nice people who were supportive and reassuring no matter what, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

For the first 10 years of my IT career, I never stayed at a job for long.  I would dig in, learn everything about the environment and ask questions even though you’re supposed to act like you know everything, and then jump ship for higher pay and higher learning.  I fluffed up my resume at times to get to the next level and always volunteered to support new products.  I didn’t coast along anywhere because I wasn’t happy at a job that I could do with my eyes closed.  IT does a great job of constantly challenging you with new problems, but I wanted more responsibility and more authority and didn’t stop until I had it.

So my advice to women who want to grow in their STEM field is don’t be deterred, fluff your resume when necessary, break things, and learn from the mean boss.