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Aug 30, 2010

Tech Chop! Ep. 2 How To Securely Wipe a Hard Drive Using Linux

Since the month is basically over, I decided to go ahead and release episode two of Tech Chop. The email in this video actually comes from a former co-worker of mine who was looking to use Bauer-Puntu to wipe some hard drives on servers before donating them to a local charity. If you didn't know there are two utilities that you can use to do this in Bauer-Puntu. The one I show you in this episode is called Shred.

The reason you want to securely wipe a drive before donating it, or selling it on eBay is that if you don't, the potential for the next owner of your equipment obtaining your financial records, or finding your secret stash of porn vids is pretty good. Simply formatting your drive isn't good enough to prevent this, as most of the data still exists on the drive. The only way you can make sure people can't recover that data is to over-write the drive multiple times with random 1's and 0's.

Now that you have a basic idea of what the show is about, here is episode two of Tech Chop!



What do you like to use to wipe hard drives? How many passes do you usually do? Let us know in the comments!

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Aug 27, 2010

Permaban for players with Halo: Reach

 

If you have downloaded the leaked Halo: Reach and play it on Xbox Live watch out: Microsoft will kick your ass from Xbox Live forever.

Stephen Toulouse, Microsoft's director of Policy Enforcement for Xbox Live, said they’ll permanently ban anyone who plays the leaked game on Xbox Live.

He posted on his Twitter acount.  "as with all unauthorized play on Xbox LIVE, anyone playing any unauthorized title runs the risk of account permaban and console." And "remember, legit store bought copy runs no risk of ban. Key word: UNAUTHORIZED. We have ways of knowing. :>."

Toulouse did not say if they have or have not already banned some people, but it's clear that Microsoft is acting quickly to deter players from pirating the game.

Halo: Reach is set to be released on September 14. Last week, copies of the game started coming up on P2P (torrent) sites like The Pirate Bay.

Now that’s not to say if you disconnect yourself from Xbox Live and play the game that they will be able to catch you at all. So you can always download and play it to get the upper hand on all your friends that wait for the official release.

Photo Credit to Bungie Studios

By: FreedomChicken

Aug 26, 2010

SQL Error: The Given Network Name is Unusable

I was setting up a SQL 2008 R2 Failover cluster the other day in VMWare. We are currently using VMWare 4.0 Update 1. I had previously setup my failover clustering in Windows using my instructions here: (Setup a Failover Cluster in VMWare). After setting that up, I thought everything would be smooth. Well, not so much.

Setting up failover clustering in VMWare isn’t that difficult, but it is time consuming. I thought that with the hard part behind me, installing SQL would be a piece of cake. With Murphy’s law in full effect, I guess i was wrong. You see, while going through the installation wizard for Microsoft SQL 2008 R2 I would get to the Instance Configuration screen and I would get the following error:

The given network name is unusable because there was a failure trying to determine if the network name is valid for use by the clustered SQL instance due to the following error: 'The network address is invalid.'

WTF is that? It turns out the problem is with VMWare tools. in fact, the Shared Folders option in VMWare tools is the culprit here. To fix I I had to cancel the SQL install and do the following on both nodes in the cluster:

  1. Start vSphere Client and connect to either ESX server running the VM or to vCenter server managing the ESX.
  2. Find the problematic VM in inventory and then select Install/Upgrade VMware Tools for the VM
  3. Select Interactive Tools Upgrade
  4. Connect to the console of the problematic VM and run VMware Tools setup from mounted cd-rom
  5. Select Modify program maintenance
  6. Uninstall Shared Folders from VMware Device Drivers (anyway this feature is not used when a VM runs on ESX host)
  7. Restart Guest OS
  8. Install SQL Server 2008 R2 based cluster

After I did that, I was able to install SQL without a hitch!

Did you run into a similar problem? Did you solve it differently? Let us know in the comments!

[Via Andrei Maier]

Aug 25, 2010

Alternative To Ninite

A while back I wrote about one of the coolest applications I have ever seen. The reason it was so cool was because it is such a time saver! The tool was called Ninite, and in just a couple of checkmarks later you will be given a free installer that will automatically download and install all of your favorite freeware programs!

Now every time I have to rebuild a Windows workstation, one of my first stops is to the Ninite website to download an all-in-one installer for my favorite free programs. Well, Ninite isn’t the only game in town any more.

If for some weird reason you don’t like Ninite, then there is an alternative. It is called FreeApps, and can download just as many, if not more apps in an all-in-one, one stop shop. According to their page, you can install your favorite apps in three easy steps:

freeapps Easy, Fast and Safe Way for Downloading Freeware!
1. Choose free apps you like best
2. Get FreeApps installer
3. Have a cup of coffee and all work will be automatically done in a few minutes

 

If Ninite, and FreeApps can do this, there must be others. If you know of any others let us know in the comments!

Aug 24, 2010

Download Music From Pandora… And Other Sites

I’m not sure if this is legal or not. In fact, i am pretty sure it isn’t. I don’t want to be that guy who shows you something really friggin’ awesome, and doesn’t tell you that there is a slight possibility that you may be breaking the law. Anything you do using this software is on you, not on me. get it? Good!

So anyway, I was surfing around the interweb when i came a across a pretty nifty piece of software. Before I go any further, I want to find something out. Please raise your hand if you like to listen to music. Please raise your other hand if you like to listen to free music. Now raise your foot if you like to listen to said free music on Pandora. Now raise your other foot if you’ve ever wanted to download the songs you hear on Pandora! I hope you were sitting down…

download pandoraThis really cool tool I found allows you to do just that! It is called Orbit Downloader and will let you download your favorite songs directly from Pandora! That isn’t all though, it also lets you download music from other music sites like Yahoo Music, MySpace Music, Bebo Music etc! Besides music, it also lets you download videos from just about every video site on the internet as well. you can download videos from Youtube, Metacafe, Veoh, and others! You can even download files from Rapidshare with it!

  From their page:

Orbit Downloader, leader of download manager revolution, is devoted to new generation web (web2.0) downloading, such as video/music/streaming media from Myspace, YouTube, Imeem, Pandora, Rapidshare, support RTMP. And to make general downloading easier and faster.

There are many free video and music downloaders out there, but few of them offer a one-stop-shop experience that allows you to download from multiple sites all in one convenient package.

Do you know of a similar software? Know of any ones that are better? Let us know about your favorite in the comments!

Aug 23, 2010

Hide Your Torrents in Plain Site

I was surfing the internet the other day when I came across something pretty interesting. I know the idea isn’t knew per se because I have blogged about doing something similar before, but this new twist seems pretty cool. It’s cool because it basically lets you trade torrent files in plain site, and the bloodhounds at the RIAA and MPAA can’t search for them. Go ahead and say it, “F**K the RIAA (or MPAA)”!

The thing I came across allows you to convert a simple torrent file of 250kb or less into a png image that you can post anywhere. Flicker, Facebook, basically anywhere you can share images. Then people can find that image, and using this tool, can convert it back to a torrent and download their stuff. Simple!

The tool is called Hid.im. It also has it’s own Firefox extension so you can convert torrents to png, or vice versa anywhere! From their page, here are some sample Hid.im torrents:

 

  • Torrent

    sameer verma - olpc photo dvd.torrent

  • Torrent

    legaltorrents collections - web development icons superset.torrent

  • Torrent

    politics apocalypse - oppressed by the authorities remix sources.torrent

Pretty cool right? Now this only keeps the authorities from finding your torrent files online via search, however once you convert it and start downloading whatever it is you are downloading, it will not prevent people from grabbing your IP address from the tracker. So make sure you are only using this for legit torrents ok ;-P

Know of any other interesting ways to hide your torrent activity? Let us know in the comments!

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Aug 19, 2010

My New Favorite Open Source Alternative to Ghost

I periodically will write about cool free disk imaging tools I find. There are many free ones out there, but only a few are worth mentioning in my opinion. For deploying images to multiple computers at once, I have written about Fog which uses Partimage as it’s disk cloning tool.

Another free tool I have written about that is also based on Partimage is P.I.N.G. or Partimage Is Not Ghost. That one is good because you can quickly boot off of a live CD and create an image to USB, or even create a pxe environment to use in a server like situation. If you have the right tools you can even make self-bootable ghost DVD’s which can come in handy. The only problem I have with P.I.N.G. is it’s requirement to use answer files in order to get the job done.

Well today I had to take some disk images of two HP Proliant servers, and I wanted to try something new. I have heard of this tool before, but never got around to using it until today. It is called Clonezilla! Instead of using Partimage, it instead is based on Partclone. Not that it really makes a difference.

Clonezilla comes in two flavors. A live version for quick imaging to USB drives, or a server edition for multicast cloning. Here are a list of features from their website:

  • clonezilla Free (GPL) Software.
  • Filesystem supported: (1) ext2, ext3, ext4, reiserfs, reiser4, xfs, jfs of GNU/Linux, (2) FAT, NTFS of MS Windows, (3) HFS+ of Mac OS, (4) UFS of FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, and (5) VMFS of VMWare ESX. Therefore you can clone GNU/Linux, MS windows, Intel-based Mac OS, and FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, no matter it's 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x86-64) OS. For these file systems, only used blocks in partition are saved and restored. For unsupported file system, sector-to-sector copy is done by dd in Clonezilla.
  • LVM2 (LVM version 1 is not) under GNU/Linux is supported.
  • Grub (version 1 and version 2) is supported.
  • Multicast is supported in Clonezilla SE, which is suitable for massively clone. You can also remotely use it to save or restore a bunch of computers if PXE and Wake-on-LAN are supported in your clients.
  • Based on Partclone (default), Partimage (optional), ntfsclone (optional), or dd to image or clone a partition. However, Clonezilla, containing some other programs, can save and restore not only partitions, but also a whole disk.
  • By using another free software drbl-winroll, which is also developed by us, the hostname, group, and SID of cloned MS windows machine can be automatically changed.

I liked Clonezilla because it was fast, and it didn’t require the different files like P.I.N.G. did. I just booted up, selected my USB drive as the destination and followed the prompts. It couldn’t be easier!

What’s your favorite Linux based cloning solution? Let us know in the comments!

Aug 17, 2010

Bittorent Tracking

So I was online looking for “The Daily Show” online. I know I can just watch it on comedy central’s website, but I was also curious how many people were downloading torrents of it. Sure enough there are some people. Normally just using ThePirateBay they didn’t have to many. So i did a more broad search and noticed that there were some at Torrent Reactor with a Lot of seeders. That seemed a little odd. Even more odd I saw a torrent for the current day’s Daily Show episode that hasn’t aired yet. I knew it was a trap but I was just to curious as to see what came with the file.

Sure enough the next day I got the following email below from my ISP got from the tracking company. Lesson learned, if a video looks odd, don’t download it even if you’re curious what is contained within the file and stick to good places like vertor and the pirate bay.

 

Email:

Dear Sir or Madam:

BayTSP, Inc. ("BayTSP") swears under penalty of perjury that it is authorized to act on behalf of Viacom International Inc., Atom Entertainment, Inc., Black Entertainment Television LLC, Comedy Partners, Country Music Television, Inc., Network Enterprises Inc., 51 Minds Entertainment, LLC, and Mindring Productions, LLC (collectively, the Rights Owners), one of which is the owner of exclusive rights alleged to be infringed herein. BayTSP's search of the protocol listed below has detected infringements of exclusive copyright or trademark interests on your IP addresses as detailed in the below report.

BayTSP has a reasonable good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of in the below report is not authorized by the Rights Owners, their agents, or the law. The information provided herein is accurate to the best of our knowledge. Therefore, this letter is an official notification to effect removal of the detected infringement listed in the below report. The below documentation specifies the exact location of the infringement.

We hereby request that you immediately remove or block access to the infringing material and ensure the user refrains from using or sharing with others the Rights Owner's materials in the future.

Further, we believe that the entire Internet community benefits when these matters are resolved cooperatively. We urge you to take immediate action to stop this infringing activity and inform us of the results of your actions. We appreciate your efforts toward this common goal.

Please respond indicating the actions you have taken to resolve this matter. The provided link has been assigned to this matter. http://webreply.baytsp.com/webreply/webreply.jsp?customerid=337&commhash=64ae75fb9e55ff932d95db1b6d697d1d

For email correspondence, please reference the above Notice ID in the subject line.

mail to: mailto:mtvn_p2p@copyright-compliance.com?subject=RE%3A%20Notice%20ID%3A%20337%2D4189906%20Notice%20of%20Unauthorized%20Use%20of%20Intellectual%20Property

Nothing in this letter shall serve as a waiver of any rights or remedies of the Rights Owners with respect to the alleged infringement, all of which are expressly reserved. This notice is without prejudice to the positions that (1) 17 U.S.C. 512 does not apply and (2) you have an affirmative obligation to prevent or limit infringement of the Rights Owner’s exclusive rights without regard to receiving a specific takedown notice.

In complying with this notice, Cox Communications Inc. should not destroy or spoliate any evidence which may be relevant in a lawsuit relating to the infringement alleged herein, including the infringing files and all associated electronic documents and data relating to their presence on Cox Communications Inc.'s IP addresses, which shall be preserved while disabling public access, irrespective of any document retention or corporate policy to the contrary.

Should you need to contact me, I may be reached at the below address.

Regards,

Mark Ishikawa

Chief Executive Officer

BayTSP.com Inc. PO Box 1314 - Los Gatos, CA 95031

Phone: 408-341-2305 Fax: 408-341-2399

mtvn_p2p@copyright-compliance.com <mailto:mtvn_p2p@copyright-compliance.com>

*pgp public key is available on the key server at http://pgp.mit.edu

Note: The information transmitted in this Notice is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged material. Any review, reproduction, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you received this in error, please contact the sender and delete the material from all computers.

This infringement notice contains an XML tag that can be used to automate the processing of this data. If you would like more information on how to use this tag please contact BayTSP.

Evidentiary Information:

Notice ID: 337-4189906

Initial Infringement Timestamp: 17 Aug 2010 02:45:53 GMT

Recent Infringement Timestamp: 17 Aug 2010 02:45:53 GMT

Infringers IP Address: 72.220.113.76

Protocol: BitTorrent

Infringed Work: Comedy Central- The Daily Show

Infringing File Name: The.Daily.Show.2010.06.16.Louis.C.K.HDTV.XviD-FQM.[VTV].avi

Infringing File Size: 183730744

Bay ID: 2fabba6762b392f5db2db72b4846d0af8faa7a3c|183730744

Port ID: 8500

Infringer's DNS Name: ip72-220-113-76.sd.sd.cox.net

Infringer's User Name:

- ---Start ACNS XML

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

<Infringement xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.movielabs.com/ACNS http://www.movielabs.com/ACNS/ACNS2v1.xsd" xmlns="http://www.movielabs.com/ACNS" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">

<Case>

<ID>4189906</ID>

<Status>Open</Status>

</Case>

<Complainant>

<Entity>BayTSP</Entity>

<Contact>mtvn_p2p@copyright-compliance.com, </Contact>

<Address>P.O. Box 1314, Los Gatos, California 95031 </Address>

<Phone>(408) 341-2300,(408) 341-2399</Phone>

<Email>mtvn_p2p@copyright-compliance.com</Email>

</Complainant>

<Service_Provider>

<Entity>Cox Communications Inc.</Entity>

<Address></Address>

<Email>abuse@cox.net</Email>

</Service_Provider>

<Source>

<TimeStamp>2010-08-17T02:45:53.000Z</TimeStamp>

<IP_Address>72.220.113.76</IP_Address>

<Port>8500</Port>

<DNS_Name>ip72-220-113-76.sd.sd.cox.net</DNS_Name>

<Type>BitTorrent</Type>

<UserName></UserName>

<Number_Files>1</Number_Files>

<Deja_Vu>No</Deja_Vu>

</Source>

<Content>

<Item>

<TimeStamp>2010-08-17T02:45:53.000Z</TimeStamp>

<Title>Comedy Central- The Daily Show</Title>

<FileName>The.Daily.Show.2010.06.16.Louis.C.K.HDTV.XviD-FQM.[VTV].avi</FileName>

<FileSize>183730744</FileSize>

<URL>http://tracker.openbittorrent.com/announce</URL>

</Item>

</Content>

</Infringement>

- ---End ACNS XML

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----

Version: 8.0

iEYEARECAAYFAkxqDLEACgkQnCw3gUzOHfL86ACfa3QXNmeOX4uzQWX7M23vVrIT

eMQAoIGOOtyKsJLT5QEYcECQDRYHl/ef

=POGT

-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

 

By: FreedomChicken

Aug 12, 2010

VMWare Clustering, EVC Mode’s and You

First off, I want to say I am not a VMWare expert. Nor do I even have my VCP (Yet, I’m going to school next month) but I have been screwing with vSphere long enough to learn some things and figure things out. A few months ago our resident VCP had to go on an extended leave of absence, so I was thrown rather abruptly into the VMWare admin role among many others I have.

One of the latest things I have been trying to do lately is getting three stand-alone ESXi servers into a cluster in vSphere. As long as you are properly licensed, and all servers have shared storage you can do it. Oh yeah, and if you have miss-matched processors, you have to enable EVC mode on the cluster. Here is the gotcha.

According to VMPros:

Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC) simplifies VMotion compatibility issues across CPU generations. EVC automatically configures server CPUs with Intel FlexMigration or AMD-V Extended Migration technologies to be compatible with older servers. After EVC is enabled for a cluster in the VirtualCenter inventory, all hosts in that cluster are configured to present identical CPU features and ensure CPU compatibility for VMotion. The features presented by each host are determined by selecting a predefined EVC baseline. VirtualCenter does not permit the addition of hosts that cannot be automatically configured to be compatible with the EVC baseline.

So what’s the problem? Well, what I was trying to do when creating this cluster was minimize downtime. Actually, I was trying to not have any if possible. So what I initially did was create a cluster, then I dragged and dropped in the three servers I wanted in that cluster. Since the VM’s were still running I couldn’t have EVC enabled. Why? Because the VM’s that were running were using features not supported by the EVC mode I wanted to set. Ok, no problem, so I disabled EVC, and was able to put all three servers in the cluster.

Here is my second gotcha, all servers were in the cluster, but only two of them had the same processors (Intel Xeon E5420) the third little black sheep had an Intel Xeon E5345. I could vMotion machines around between the two E5420’s, but if I tried to vMotion to the E5345 I would get the following error:

Host CPU is incompatible with the virtual machine’s requirements at CPUID level 0x1 register ‘ecx’. Host bits: 0000:0100:0000:1000:0010:0010:0000:0001
Required: x000:0x0x:00x0:0xx0:xx10:xx1x:xxxx:xx01
Mismatch detected for these features:
*SSE4.1; refer to KB article 1993 for a possible solution.

vmotion-error

Now, in a pinch, you can shutdown the host you want to vMotion, edit the properties, click on the Options tab > CPUID Mask > Advanced and copy the required information from your error, for example:

x000:0x0x:00x0:0xx0:xx10:xx1x:xxxx:xx01

And place it in the Level 1 ecx line as shown here:

ecx

Once that is done, you can power the VM back up and do your vMotion. Do you want to do that for all VM’s? I didn’t think so. I didn’t either.

So what to do? Well, first you have to find out which mode of EVC your CPU’s will support. It turns out that both E5420’s and E5345’s support the Intel Xeon Core 2 setting. Great, but since all are in the cluster already, and EVC was disabled, I can’t enable that EVC mode, at least not while VM's are running (There goes my zero downtime plan!). Here is what I had to do.

  • Power off all VM’s off the E5345 ESX server
  • Power off all the VM’s on the two E5420’s
  • Set the cluster in Intel Xeon Core 2 mode
  • Power back on all the VM's
  • Done

Now all machines can vMotion around like nobody’s business! Now I just have to make sure that any new VMWare heads I want to put in the cluster later support the Intel Xeon Core 2 EVC setting.

If you are a VCP, and know if a better way of doing this, please let me know in the comments.

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Aug 11, 2010

VMWare ESXi Hack to Allow SSH

VMWare ESXi is running on a proprietary version of Linux. This is a fact. Another fact is that in order to do Linux type stuff in VMWare you need access to the console. Now, I know what you are thinking, there is no console in VMWare ESXi. Well my firend, that is simply not true. How the hell do you think VMWare tech support will get in to fix it when you blow it up? If you guessed console, then give yourself a pat on the back.

There is a secret access into the ESXi console, that is only officially supported if tech support needs to whip out some VM kung fu. Doesn’t mean you and I can’t access it, it just isn’t supported. To access the consol, at the Administration Window press ALT + F1. You will get a black screen, type the word unsupported and press enter. You will not be able to see yourself type. After you hit enter, you will be prompted for the root password. Enter your root password and bammo! You will now have a prompt!

Well that is cool and all, but we as IT guys want remote console access right? How do you go that in Linux? SSH right? I know what you are thinking, SSH is disabled in ESXi too. Well, now that we have console access, we have a lot of possibilities. One of those is to enable SSH. To do that just follow these steps.

  1. Change directory into /etc

    #cd /etc
  2. Open inetd.conf in vi (I know vi sucks, deal with it!)

    #vi inetd.conf
  3. arrow down until you see #ssh stream tcp…
  4. With the curser on the # type x to delete the #
  5. Type :wq! to exit vi and save your changes
  6. Now we need to find the process running inetd. To do that run the following command

    #ps -a | grep inetd
  7. Find the process number, lets pretend it is 1234. Run the following command to kill the inetd process

    #kill 1234
  8. Now we need to start inetd again

    #inetd
  9. Bam! SSH into your ESXi box!

Love ESXi? Why not buy an ESXi shirt from the Bauer-Power Gear store?

VMWare too esxi Know of any other cool hacks to get additional functionality out of ESXi? Hit us up in the comments!

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Aug 9, 2010

What Makes a Good I.T. Technician?

Normally I write about cool free software I find, interesting tech news I hear about, cool electronics, and just about anything geeky. Every once in a while I will write a sort of editorial piece talking about poor custer service, crappy products, or whatever else I can come up with. Today, I got to thinking about what I consider to be a good I.T. Technician. Now this goes from Help Desk, all the way up to CIO/CTO level. If the person has any experience twisting a screw driver, or reviewing event logs, this applies.

Now I haven't been in I.T. as long as some of you. I still consider myself to be rather green. I've only been working with computers and software for about 6 years, but during that time I've worked with all kinds of I.T. guys. In my mind, there are four basic types of technicians. Let me go down the list.

  • Technical Bullshitter - This is the guy that knows just enough technical jargon and terminology to seem like they know what they are doing, but really don't know their ass from their elbow. These guys easily make it through an interview with H.R. and non-technical upper management. The best way to weed these guys out before hiring them is by running them through a panel interview with their peers.


  • One Trick Pony - This person may be very good at what they do. They may know the Cisco IOS like the back of their hand. Perhaps they are a master at EMC SANs. Maybe they are really, really good at Windows only. Maybe they are really good at a select group of products, and that is all they know. These people are best kept in one I.T. department for 20 or 30 years, because the moment they go elsewhere, they begin to breakdown when the new environment isn't what they are used to. To them, their way is the ONLY good way because that is how they have always done things.


  • Overly Cautious - I will never argue with anyone who wants to take a few extra minutes to make sure the change they are making is the right one, or won't break anything. I also always recommend taking a backup of whatever it is you are working on prior to making a change in case something goes wrong. That is all reasonable. What I think is a little over the top is the person who will NOT act in fear that they will break something. They will let users be down for days without trying anything because they don't want to be the person that screws it up more. Maybe you have worked with people like that. Maybe you have had to jump in to save they day because they were too chicken shit to do anything.


  • Jack of All Trades - This guy can literally make anything work. If they normally work on Windows, and you hand them a Mac to fix it may take them a while, but they will figure it out. This person wants to learn a little bit of Linux, Windows, Unix, and anything else they can get their hands on so they have a full arsenal of weapons they can bring to the fight. This person can make things happen with little to no budget, or with unlimited resources because they aren't afraid to work with open source, or non-standard technologies. They use whatever they can to make things work. This person can think quickly on their feet and adapt to just about any situation.
In my opinion the best I.T. people fall in the last category. When I am sitting on panel interviews weeding out the technical bullshitters, I am actually looking for the Jack of All Trades. If I am working in a Microsoft shop, I may throw out some Linux questions to see how the person reacts. If they can dodge my bullets and come out okay, I will usually give them my nod of approval.

Every day at work I strive to be the Jack of All Trades. I try to learn as much as I can about all types of technology. The reason being is that if you don't close your mind you will see that there are millions of alternatives to help you get your job done. An education from an online IT program can provide you the foundation of technical know-how, but you still need to continue learning to excel at your job. I also am not affraid to try things to see if I can fix things. Being cautious is great, but being straight up scared to act is no way to be in I.T..

No matter what category you may fall in, really good I.T. comes from the ability to research. There are I.T. guys that are quick to hand problems off to other people, or other departments without first trying to qualify the problem, and do a little Google searching to see if they can fix it themselves. If you run into a problem you have never seen before, and your first reaction is to open up Google and start searching, then you are probably a pretty good at I.T.. If you see a problem, and immediately take it to someone else on your team, or in your department because you are "out of ideas" then you need to discover Google.

What kind of I.T. Tech are you? Maybe you can think of some other catergories I missed. Perhaps your co-workers fall into one of these categories. Some of you may even disagree. Let me know what you think makes a good I.T. Technician in the comments!

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Aug 4, 2010

GUI For Cron

Back in my college days, when I was taking Security classes, I remember one of my instructors asking the class if we used scheduled tasks in Windows, or it’s Linux equivalent Cron. Many of the students, not really knowing what the hell they were talking about, and thinking they were spewing out the “correct” answer said they didn’t, because it was an “unnecessary security risk”. To that I say bull crap! I don’t think I could do half the stuff I do without some form of automation. Many times the trigger for said automation comes in the form of a scheduled task or Cron job. Am I right?

So like I mention above, Cron is the scheduled task program for Linux. If you want something to run at a certain time of day, Cron is your man (or app). For instance, I have a Linux server that backs up Cisco configs daily using a tool called Rancid. Well, what do you think makes Rancid run every day? Magic leprechauns? Nope, my man Cron does!

The thing about configuring Cron to run at a certain type of day can be a little daunting to the non-Linux type person, or non-terminal like person. Let’s face it, Windows admins like their GUI’s right? I mean, with the terminal, where the f^(k do you use the mouse? Well, to configure Cron normally you have to edit the crontab file with your favorite text editor like Nano or VI. Also the format isn’t that straight forward. I mean look at it:

crontabOnce you do one or two, it’s not that big of a deal, but what if there was an easier way? Well, there is if you have installed Gnome desktop, KDE, or some other windows manager. The tool is called Gnome-Schedule. Installing it is pretty easy. You can grab it from the software store in Ubuntu, or run apt-get from the terminal like thus:

sudo apt-get install gnome-schedule

Gnome-Cron

Once installed, it is really intuitive to create your own scheduled Cron jobs without having to figure out exactly how to format your Crontab. Who doesn’t like easy right?

[Via TechThrob]

Aug 3, 2010

How To Move SharePoint Databases To Another Drive or Partition

You may have noticed the lack of new content recently around here. If you have read any of my recent posts you may have gotten the idea that I have been pretty busy at work. if you guessed that, you are right! It was like that around here when i first started working where I work, but things settled down and I was able to write more regularly again. I’m sure that will happen soon. It’s the blogger circle of life really.

So I was thinking of stuff to write recently and I was suffering from some writer’s block. That is when I thought about writing about something I had to do recently at work. So here is the back story. We had a Microsoft office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 farm running with a SQL 2005 back end. The data drive on the SQL server was running out of disk space. When i say running out of disk space, I mean I would log in and there would be 0MB left!

I would shrink the databases, and files, truncate logs, and all the usual tricks. That would only free up a few hundred MB of data. Not really anything to write home about. What made matters worse was this SQL server was physical, and all the drive bays were filled. I couldn’t add any more drives. Something had to be done.

I decided to install a new NIC, and connect the server to our iSCSI SAN and provision a LUN for use on the SQL server. The problem was though that I now had to move one or more databases from the drive that was full over to the SAN storage. Here is how I did it!

NOTE: I recommend you take a full backup of your environment before doing this. It is pretty easy to jack this up if you are not careful. I accept no responsibility if you “screw the pooch” on this.

The first thing you will have to do is identify the databases you want to move. I recommend looking at the biggest ones first, as they are what is probably filling up your drive the fastest. That’s what I did anyway. I also tried to pick one that wasn’t used as much.

Now you need to go over to your SharePoint server and run the following command to detach your database from SharePoint. I realize that the command looks like the database is getting deleted, but it isn’t.

stsadm -o deletecontentdb -url http://<your-site's-url> -databasename <Database name>

Repeat this process for each database you are moving. If you can’t find stsadm.exe it is usually located in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\12\BIN. I recommend copying it to c:\windows\system32.

Once the database(s) is/are detached from SharePoint, on your SQL server go to each database you want to move to the new drive, then right click, click on Tasks> Take Offline.

SQL take offline

 

Once the database is offline, right click the database again and select Tasks> Detach.

SQL Detach

No browse to your SQL data directory and locate the .mdf and .ldf database files. If you didn’t know, the .mdf file is the actual database flat file, and the .ldf is the log for the database. Now move them to your new drive or partition. I recommend creating a new folder called SQL with all the same SQL data folders. Once moved go into SQL, right click on Databases and select Attach. Click the Add button and browse to the .mdf file(s) you just moved. You will have to do this one at a time for each .mdf file. Also, depending on what OS you are running, you might have to turn off UAC. Click OK, and you are just about done.

SQL Attach

Now all that is left is to re-attach the database to SharePoint. To do that, go back to your SharePoint server and run the following command:

stsadm -o addcontentdb -url http://<your-site's-url> -databasename <Database name>

Once attached, browse to your site’s URL to make sure nothing is broken. Chances are that if you followed this post, you will be good to go!

Have you ever had to do something like this? Are you running into a similar issue? How did you solve it? Did you do something differently? Let us know in the comments.

 

Aug 2, 2010

Tech Chop! Ep1 – What is Hardware Virtualization?

As you may or may not know, I decided to create a separate site for my video podcasts. That way I can sort of brand the videos separately, and I can feel free to reach back and re-use content that I have written about here at Bauer-Power. Why not right? Besides, when you hear the name “Bauer-Power” if you have never heard of my blog, you wouldn’t immediately think of it as something that revolves around computers and technology right? Hence the name Tech Chop was born!

In this episode, I decided to answer an email I received from a viewer of the old Bauer-Power videos. His name was Terrance, and he wanted to learn more about virtualization, and what exactly it is. I mean, it’s a cool buzz-word right? Right up there with “cloud computing". It’s funny but virtualization, and cloud-computer actually go hand-in-hand as most cloud computing companies, offer their cloud services by using virtualization!

So here it is, episode 1 of Tech Chop!

 

Did I miss a favorite virtualization product of yours? Care to share some other benefits of virtualization that I neglected to mention? What virtualization software do you use in your environment? Let us know in the comments!

 



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