Mar 21, 2018

Free Utility To Analyze Blue Screens of Death (BSOD) in Windows

For some reason over the last month or so, my company has been experiencing a random string of Blue Screens of Death (BSODs). It turned out to be caused by a certain Microsoft update for Windows 10, but during the troubleshooting process my desktop tech mentioned a tool that I had never heard of before. It's called BlueScreenView!

From their page:
BlueScreenView scans all your minidump files created during 'blue screen of death' crashes, and displays the information about all crashes in one table. For each crash, BlueScreenView displays the minidump filename, the date/time of the crash, the basic crash information displayed in the blue screen (Bug Check Code and 4 parameters), and the details of the driver or module that possibly caused the crash (filename, product name, file description, and file version).  
For each crash displayed in the upper pane, you can view the details of the device drivers loaded during the crash in the lower pane. BlueScreenView also mark the drivers that their addresses found in the crash stack, so you can easily locate the suspected drivers that possibly caused the crash.
BlueScreenView is created by NirSoft, whose software I've written about in the past. I never knew about this particular tool until my desktop tech mentioned it though.

Here are some screenshots:

Pretty cool right? Hopefully this tool can help you figure out what's causing BSOD's in your environment!

Mar 20, 2018

Infographic - 67 Insane Facts About #Bitcoin

Since December 2017's epic high of $20,000 per bitcoin, the cryptocurrency has been in and out of the toilet as far as pricing goes. If you watch the news, this may very well be the only fact you know about bitcoin.

Many of us have faith that it will reach and exceed those highs again. It's inevitable really. In the meantime though, here is a very insightful infographic that you can share with those nocoiners, and FUD spreaders!


Mar 19, 2018

What is Redis? | Why and When to use Redis?

The other day my development team's Solutions Architect came to me and asked me to deploy Ubuntu based Redis servers in our QA environment so that the developers could test using Redis for session state instead of logging to a Microsoft SQL database. This was their solution to poor performance issues in our applications. Apparently the session state transactions were causing a bottleneck in Microsoft SQL.

Anyway, I had never heard of Redis so I found this video on YouTube that explains what Redis is and why you might want to use Redis:

Also shown in the video, here is a description of what Redis is from their website:
Redis is an open source (BSD licensed), in-memory data structure store, used as a database, cache and message broker. It supports data structures such as strings, hashes, lists, sets, sorted sets with range queries, bitmaps, hyperloglogs and geospatial indexes with radius queries. Redis has built-in replication, Lua scripting, LRU eviction, transactions and different levels of on-disk persistence, and provides high availability via Redis Sentinel and automatic partitioning with Redis Cluster. 
You might be wondering how to install Redis in Ubuntu. I'm glad you asked, because Redis is available in the Ubuntu repositories, so installation is as simple as running:
  • sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install redis-server
Do you use Redis in your environment? If so, what are you using it for? Let us know in the comments!

Mar 16, 2018

How To Resize a Storage Repository (SR) in XenServer

The other weekend I got a disk space alert from my backup server in my Arizona data center. This happens occasionally. Since this is a VM, I usually just increase the virtual disk, then extend the drive in Windows. No big deal. Well this time, I couldn't extend the virtual drive without first increasing the size of my storage repository (SR).

Well, increasing the size of a storage repository in XenServer isn't as easy as in VMWare, but it's still not that difficult. You just have to SSH into your XenServers to do it, and it only takes 11 steps really:

  • On your SAN, extend the volume/LUN
  • SSH into your master node
  • Run xe sr-list name-label=<your SR name you want to resize>. Note the uuid of the SR.
  • Run pvscan | grep <the uuid you noted in the previous step>. Note the device name (eg: PV /dev/sdj )
  • Run echo 1 > /sys/block/device/device/rescan (e.g. echo 1 > /sys/block/sdj/device/rescan)
  • Run pvresize <device name> (eg: pvresize /dev/sdj )
  • Run xe sr-scan <the uuid you noted in step 3>
  • Verify that the XE host sees the larger physical disk by running: pvscan | grep <the uuid you noted in step 3>
  • SSH into each slave nodes
  • Run pvresize <device name> (eg: pvresize /dev/sdj )
  • Run xe sr-scan <the uuid you noted in step3>
That's it, now when you look in XenCenter, you should see that your SR has been resized accordingly.

[H/T cdillard]

Mar 15, 2018

Modern free alternative to Cliffs Notes

When I was in high school and junior high (Yes, I went to junior high and not a middle school) like just about every kid, I had to read lots of classic novels for language arts class. Well, let's be honest, I was assigned the task of reading the book, but I never did.

No, like quite a lot of kids at the time we would get our hands on Cliffs Notes, usually from the book store in the mall, and do all of our related assignments based off of the summaries from Cliffs Notes. Most of the time, it had all the answers we needed, without having to waste our time reading boring books. Is that cheating? Maybe, but I certainly didn't care.

Well the other day my daughter was given a reading assignment for a book called Hush, but the trouble was that her teacher wouldn't let her bring the book home. Because of this, she was falling behind in class. Well, in doing a little research, I found what is basically a free alternative to Cliffs Notes to help her with her assignment!

It's a site called Schmoop! Via their about page:
Since 2009, Shmoop has been a digital publishing company with a point of view. Our teaching method revolves around the basic idea that learning is often too hard—so we carry gallons of academic WD-40 to squirt on the tracks whenever we can. And as an added bonus, we're funny. At least we like to think so. 
We own 100% of our content and present both a consistent voice and a distinctive product offering. Our free Learning Guides, Online Courses, College Readiness Prep, and Test Prep balance a teen-friendly, approachable style with academically rigorous materials to help students understand why they should care. 
We also give students an honest look into life after high school. Our Careers page is written by real, studly Oil Rig Drillers, Delta Force Captains, and Marine Biologists, while our College 101 section tells students what college might actually look, feel, and smell like. Thousands of schools around the world use Shmoop as part of their curriculum, and the company has also been honored by the Interwebs: twice by the Webby Awards and twice by Scholastic Administrator Magazine ("Best in Tech"). 
By way of further Shmoopy introduction, check out our "What Is Shmoop" video (part of our fast-growing Shmoopsterpiece Theater video project) or read about us in the press!
Anyway, not only did I find summaries for my daughter's book Hush, I also searched their site and found summaries for some of the books I was supposed to read as a kid too! Books like The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Some might get on my case for not making my daughter read the book. I would have if the teacher let her bring it home, but since the teacher wouldn't, but still wanted the assignment done, I felt like this was acceptable. Besides, I'd rather encourage her to read things she's actually interested in anyway.

What do you think of this site? Would it have helped you our in high school, or junior high? Let us know in the comments!

Mar 14, 2018

Free Open Source Fork of Citrix XenServer?

The other day I wrote about where you can download older versions of Citrix XenServer since they removed a lot of features from their free version in 7.3, and then removed access to older version to force people to upgrade... Dick move right?

Well, apparently I'm not the only person pissed off by this. A whole group of developers decided to launch a new project called XCP-ng or Xen Cloud Platform Next Generation! Their goal? To provide a community driven version of Citrix's  XenServer that, unlike the original open source Xen Project, will look and feel the same as Citrix's version, along with the ease of use.... At least that's what it looks like to me.

Check out their video:

Their project page actually lists the following as their goal:
The main goal is to be able to enjoy Xenserver power (XAPI/features) with a real community backed solution (not “one company dependent”). So it should be:
  • 99.99% compatible with XenServer (as possible): ie being able to transfer VMs from XS to XCP-ng and vice-versa
  • 99.99% compatible with Open Source management solutions (like Xen Orchestra)
  • A well-documented build process, such that the product can be built by anyone from source.
  • Builds that are completely independent of any Citrix/XenServer binary (RPM) repositories.
Their initial prototype is anticipated in Q1 of 2018, which is almost over. Will they make it? Only time will tell I suppose. If they do make it, and it works well, this could prove to be the perfect alternative to Citrix's forced upgrade tactics thus far.

What do you think about this? Let us know in the comments!

Mar 13, 2018

#Bitcoin is "Crashing" Again... Why We're Not Worried

People seem to be worried again that bitcoin has started dropping.  But we are not worried, and neither should you be.  Alessio Rastani explains why.

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