Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Creditors may bring America to the brink of Revolution

Enconomist will tell you that the economy goes through cycles of ups and downs and right now we are on a downward spiral. In my opinion, this recession was brought on by greed and such a drastic recession could have been avoided. In order to line their pockets, the creditors and mortgage lenders knowingly issued credit to indivudials that would have normally not gotten the line of credit. Now hard woking people are being crushed under a mountain of debt unable to make payments and losing their homes. Then when people file for personal bankrupcy and banks foreclose on homes, the creditors that initially issued that credit are losing money casuing the creditors to shut down. Normally this is type of cause and effect economics is played out daily with no intervention. But this time, the government decided to step in a save the creditors that gambled and lost using more of American money to bail them out of trouble. Top execuitves of those firms are still getting their multi-million dollar bonuses.
Now, the creditors are increasing their rates to generate more income using the recession as an excuse for the rate hike. Does it make sense to raise rates on people who are already having trouble paying their bills?
Banks encourage you give them your money for a tiny percent of interest in return, but they turn around give us back our money in the form of credit charging 20 times the interest! We are fighting a losing battle that the banks and creditors are reaping rewards on the breaking backs of Americans. Today, in a economy based on debt, the creditors and banks join the focus of our fustration and contempt.
One of the reasons that the USA was formed was because of the people were tired of the government increasing taxes and fees making difficult to live. If you keep pushing people to the edge they will push back. One of my favoraite lines in the move Fight Club, describes this sentiment: 
"[T]he people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not... fuck with us."

Everyone is not a victim here. American culture is somewhat to blame as well. We belive in the American dream and that involves new cars, big homes, and comfortable living. This culture in conjunction with seeming unending credit has allowed Americans to live beyond their means. Instead of reducing our expenses, we open a new line of credit to pay for the things we already can not afford, digging us deeper into the hole. Americans need to take responsiblity and change their thinking to understand the reality of what they can and can not afford in order to stop this downward sprial. However, this does not get all of those companies that sold us the noose and gave us enough rope to hang ourselves off the hook. --

Computers, Gaming, Gadgets, and Geekness

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

System Center Operations Manager Maintenance Mode Scheduler

I can't believe that this feature is not built into SCOM 2007. It is a common enough occurrence that a server is rebooted weekly for whatever reason. It would be great to schedule SCOM maintenance mode during the same time so the reboots do not send out alerts. Secondly, if the server does not come up after a reboot, you would be alerted when it came out of maintenance mode. Well, it turns out the work around to this is to create a powershell script and use scheduled task to run it. Here is a cool utility that provides a GUI to do that.

Computers, Gaming, Gadgets, and Geekness

Friday, August 7, 2009

Twitter, Facebook, Xbox Live Down - What's next

The recent outages that Twitter, Facebook and now Xbox Live have experienced are apparently from a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. This type of attack is difficult to defend against since it is inherent in the way that computers communicate. Actually it is quite amazing that the TCP/IP protocol has worked well for over 30 years. Can you think of any technology that has lasted that long before being obsolete? I have not researched if IPv6 will provide some sort of protection for a massive flood of data that can cause these types of global outages. The fact is that everyone on the web is susceptible to an organized DoS attack and while there might be some remediation actions that can be used to restore service, the protocol will need to be redesigned to react differently to this type of attack.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Operations Manager 2007 Report Errors

I was getting the error Cannot initialize report. The item ... could not be found when trying to run performance reports that show up as a task on the right side of the Operations Manager Console. After troubleshooting with Microsoft, we found that it was a permissions issue. We needed to make the account that is the action account, sdk_config, Data Writer, and Data Reader account a local admin on the RMS and the Data Warehouse server. Also if you have created a SCOM Admins group, also make this a local admin on both servers. Then restart the Operation Manager services on the RMS and watch for error/warnings in the Operation Manager event log.

Computers, Gaming, Gadgets, and Geekness

Monday, July 6, 2009

Windows 7 Release Date pushed up.

Microsoft's newest OS Windows 7 is going to be released on Oct 22, 2009, but there are rumors that it will be out sooner. You can reserve your copy now.

Monday, June 29, 2009

SCOM 2007 Post SP1 Hotfixes

I just set up System Center Operations Manager 2007 SP1 for my organization and I know that this a Microsoft product and it will have fixes even after a service pack. The Kevin Holman blog ( on the Microsoft TechNet is updated frequently and has links and description of the SCOM 2007 post sp1 hotfixes as well as SCOM 2007 R2 hotfixes. I have experienced some inaccurate data displayed in SCOM and I am hoping one of these hotfixes will fix that.

Friday, June 26, 2009

World of Warcraft Account Hacked

My wife's World of Warcraft account was hacked a few days ago. The hacker change the password and email address so you could not login to the account. They took everything from all her toons and transferred 2 level 80 characters to another server. She contacted Blizzard and they were able unlock her account and she is waiting for a GM specialist to try to recover the characters and stolen items. What is bothering me is that this was a brute forced attack. My wife's account was known to no one including me. As a bit of a Grey-hat hacker this sort of stuff is interesting to me. My guess is that they used the Armory to find a target; that's what I would do. My wife had good gear and special items. Somehow they we able to find the userid or email and brute force a password from either the WoW client or the WoW account web page. Since hacking the web has been around for a while there are more safeguards around the WoW web site. The client does not disable your account if you attempt to many unsuccessful logons, so my guess is that they used a program that brute forced the password from the client. The hard part was getting the userID. I will have to investigate a little further to find out how they did it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Agent proxying needs to be enabled for a health service to submit discovery data about other computers

In Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 SP1 you may get the error message:

Agent proxying needs to be enabled for a health service to submit discovery data about other computers

This looks like it is coming from the Root management server, but the details give you a GUID to the actual server with the error. It looks like this:

Details:Health service ( FED0B867-F9AE-ACAF-4CCF-311DD92789C9 ) should not generate data about this managed object ( 66A10C3E-EF01-28E2-6F41-E15C782B906D ).

In order to get the actual name of the monitored device you need to use PowerShell. Don't use the PowerShell that you find in Programs -> WindowsPowerShell 1.0 since this does not have the SCOM snap-in included. Go to Programs -> System Center Operations Manager 2007 -> Command shell then execute the following command. Replace the GUID with the one that your alert specifies.

Get-MonitoringObject -id:'FED0B867-F9AE-ACAF-4CCF-311DD92789C9' | ft DisplayName

Then to enable Proxying: 

Access the Administration Node and locate the agent under Agent Managed.  Right click the node you found after you execute the above command.  Select Properties.  Click the Security tab.  Check  Allow this agent to act as proxy…

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

US Postal Service increase rates on Flat Rate Shipping

I sold a few items on Ebay to try to get some extra cash and I used to use the US postal service flat rate shipping boxes to ship domestically in the U.S. The price used to be a reasonable $4.95 for a 11" X 8.5" X 5.5" or 11-7/8" x 3-3/8" x 13-5/8" medium size box. They have recently increased the shipping price to $9.85 for the same box. This upsets the "Ebay economics" since the minimum you can expect to pay of an item on Ebay is about $10. If you sell and item that is moderately expensive then you can make up the difference in shipping. For instance 10% of $100 is $10 dollars. So if your item is less than $100 then a significant amount of your sale goes into shipping. This could be the begining of a shift from online purchases to brick and mortar purchases. Once what was more convenient to purchase online my be more cost effective now at the retail store since shipping is going to force online retailers to charge more for shipping or product or both. Keep a look out for rising shipping costs and how it will affect the online retail market.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Most Baffling IT Terms Explained

HP came out with an explanation of what they consider the most baffling IT terms. Here are the top terms:

  • VoIP (Voice over IP): A T-Mobile survey found that one in ten respondents thought VoIP can improve visibility for the visually impaired! It actually stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, and literally refers to the ability to transmit the voice over the Internet.
  •   Petaflop: This is a word you'll probably see in conjunction with discussions of supercomputing. A petaflop can be expressed as a thousand trillion floating point operations per second; it is a measure of performance for the fastest computers in the world.
  • ASP: This one is particularly tricky because it's an acronym with two meanings. An Active Server Page is an HTML page that includes one or more scripts (small embedded programs) that are processed on a Microsoft® Web server before the page is sent to the user. An Application Service Provider is a business that provides computer-based services to customers over a network.
  • Kernel: This is the central component of most computer operating systems, responsible for managing the system's resources and the communication between hardware and software components.
  •   Megahertz (MHz): This is unit of measurement used when determining a computer's processing speed. It literally means one million cycles per second. Accordingly, Gigahertz (GHz) and Terahertz (THz) equal one billion and one trillion cycles respectively.
  • Deduplication: This is a method of reducing storage needs by eliminating redundant data from a device. Deduplication is also sometimes known as "intelligent compression" or "single-instance storage".
  •   Robust: This is probably one of the most commonly used, yet least understood, terms in IT marketing materials. A "robust" product can be one that doesn't break or fail easily; for example, an operating system in which any individual application can fail without disturbing the operating system or other applications can be said to be robust. Robust is also sometimes used to mean a product or solutions designed with a full range of capabilities.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Exchange Store won't mount

We had an issue with the Exchange 2003 server this morning. The information store and the public folder would not mount. We checked the database integrity and ran a repair using the eseutil.exe utility, but it still would not mount. We called Microsoft and it turns out that the log files was at the end of the sequence and a new file could not be created. Log files start at e001.log and go sequentially up. When the log files reaches effffe.log the next log can not be created since it has reached the sequence limit. Delete the log file (or move them to be safe), start the information store and mount the store and a new log file starting at e001.log will be created. This will happen if the server has been up for a long time or there are a lot of transactions according to Microsoft.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

SmartUPS and Windows Reinstall

I have been putting it off but I finally replaced the dying APC SmartUPS 620 for my server. I got a %25 discount for upgrading to the newer model and they also included a return shipping label to return the old unit. These UPS' are pretty heavy. I also got to map the serial cable pinout to connect the UPS to the server.
I have also been meaning to re-install Windows XP on my Dell laptop, but I did not have the media. Luckily Dell will ship you the installation media provided you are the original owner. So I've got Windows XP Media Center 2005 installed and I have to re-install all the applications again. That is the part I forgot how bad it sucks.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Meeting with Quest Software

We had a meeting with our new Quest software account managers and I didn't realize how much stuff they are involved in. They are Microsoft centric, but they make tools to integrate other applications and operating systems into the Microsoft universe. The conversation was mostly on identity management, like single sign on, password synchronization, and automated application logon. They also make a ton of Management Packs for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager, which I will be rolling out very soon. They also have some handy free Windows directory tools available for download on their site. I have to give them a little more credit.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Blackberry Store

My co-worker told me that in the latest version of the Blackberry software has the Blackberry App store, like the Iphone has. Obviously you won't get the same apps, but at least there is some competition in the market. I have not seen the update on my Blackberry yet. I will have to do more research.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Conficker / Downadup Hoax

The Conficker / Downadup worm was supposed to hit April 1, 2009 but so far it looks like a hoax. Many IT folks that has to rapidly patch servers due to paranoid managers did all that work for nothing. Hackers are sneaky, however, and they may have gotten a laugh today but may strike later when everyone lets their guard down when they let out a sigh of relief. Friday's are good days to cause havoc. Look out for this weekend!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Systems Center Operations Manager 2007

Finally we will be installing and using Microsoft Systems Center Operation Manager 2007 to monitor the servers in our environment. Systems Operations Manager (SCOM) is an agent based monitoring program with hooks into many Microsoft products such as SQL server, IIS, and Active Directory, for reporting up time and performance. This will be welcome change from finding out a server has been down all weekend and you need to fix it Monday morning with everyone breathing down your neck.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bakups are important

People do not realize the importance of a good backup before it is too late. It's sort of like insurance; you don't know why you have it until you need it. With so many options out there, such as USB External Hard Drive, tape drives, DVD, and even online backups, i am shocked how often backups are neglected. Computers can be replaced. Your pictures, invoices, and 40 page research paper can not.

SEO Magic

I have been really interested in Search engine optimization (SEO). It is an interesting topic and profoundly effects the flow of the internet. Before the internet you used the Yellow Pages to find what you were looking for. Now you use Google or Yahoo or any other search engine. If you are able to sway or control the results in these search engines you control the internet. Your website that contain the secrets of the internet will forever remain buried in with Anglefire web pages and websites with frames. However, if you are good at the game of cat and mouse they call SEO, then your site has a shot at being seen or maybe even utilized. I'm sure it is not as simple as this and there are others out there that have figure this out already. But, I am ready to learn the magic behind SEO. See you at the top of Google ;)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Downadup Stikes Again

I had to remove the downadup virus from a Windows 2003 server today. The server had Symantec anti-virus on it, but it could not remove it for some reason. I needed to boot into safe mode and run the Downadup virus removal tool from Symantec. The network department was also seeing alot of the traffic generated from the worm, but hopefully I got rid of it for good.

Installing Microsoft Sharepoint 3.0 SP1

I installed Microsoft Sharepoint 3.0 SP1 on a virtual machine to test out the functionality and how we can use it in the department for document management. As it turns out Sharepoint is built into Windows 2003 R2.