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.

Mar 12, 2018

Why does Google Chrome think I'm in India?

I've noticed a weird issue in Google Chrome lately, and that is whenever I type a search term in the address bar, the results come from If you didn't know, that is the URL for Google in India... I however most certainly don't live in India...

Well, after searching around I found out that quite a few others have noticed the same thing. The best solution I can find to make it stop is to do the following in Chrome:

  • Go to Settings > Manage Search Engines
  • Scroll down to the Add a new search engine box
  • Enter Google NCR for the name
  • Enter Google NCR_ for the keyword type
  • In the URL use
  • Set that as your default search provider
If you are wondering, NCR stands for No Country Redirect. This will make sure your search terms always use good old and not any other country's search!

Did this help you out? Let us know in the comments!

[H/T TheSEMPost]

Mar 9, 2018

VMs Missing in XenCenter When One or More XenServers Are Unavailable

The other night was one of those nights from hell that inevitably come up once in a while. This occasion was in one of my day job's lower tier environments where we run everything in a XenServer cluster. Well, this particular night was a power maintenance night for our data center, and two of our XenServer only had single power supplies.

Well, if you guessed that the two with single power supplies shut down, you guessed right. There were some other issues as well, that lead to this next problem, but I won't bore you with the details. You're probably here because of what happened after I finally got the other nodes back online.

What happened once I got some of my other equipment back online, and with only three out of five XenServers still running, I couldn't see any of the VMs that were originally running on the two offline nodes. Those VMs were just gone!

It turns out, they weren't gone, the cluster just thought they were still running on the two other nodes. When that happens, you have to tell the cluster to forcefully shut them down. To do that, SSH into your master node and run the following to get a list of UUID's of all the hosts in the cluster:
  • xe host-list params=uuid,name-label,host-metrics-live
Note the long UUID string of the host or hosts that are offline. Then run this command to tell the cluster that any VMs running on the offline nodes are powered off:
  • xe vm-reset-powerstate resident-on=<UUID OF OFFLINE XENSERVER> --force --multiple
Obviously replace the item in red above with the UUID of your offline XenServer, and run that command for any other offline servers as well.

Now the VMs should show up as powered off in XenCenter. You should now be able to power them on and have them run on one of the live nodes. 

Please note, when powering on one of these VMs you may get an error that says:
 the vdi is not available
I wrote about how to fix that error yesterday. To read that article, please click here: (How to fix "The VDI is not available" error in Xenserver)

Did this help you out? Did you do something different? Let us know in the comments!

Mar 8, 2018

How to fix "The VDI is not available" error in XenServer

I had an epic shit storm of an issue the other night with one of my XenServer clusters at my day job. I won't get into too many boring details, but long story short is that two out of my five XenServers were offline, and I had to tell my cluster for forcefully shut down a few of the VMs that the cluster thought were still running on the offline hosts.

That was the easy part. Powering up the VMs was not easy. When I tried to power the VMs back on to run on one of the live nodes, I got the following error:
the vdi is not available
Man! What kind of shit is that?!

Well, to fix it is actually not that hard. Just kind of a pain. What you need to do is detach the virtual disk from the VM in XenCenter. Then grab the UUID of the LUN where the virtual disk is located.You can do that by clicking on the LUN in XenCenter and just look at the properties.

Once you have that number, SSH into the master XenServer node and run the following command:
  • xe vdi-list sr-uuid=<UUID of The LUN Holding The Virtual Disk>
This will list all of the virtual disks saved on that LUN. 

Now find the UUID of the virtual disk of the VM that you need to power back on. I circled one in red above as a reference. Now you want to tell the cluster to forget this VDI (Don't worry, trust me on this). You can do that by running:
  • xe vdi-forget uuid=<UUID of the VDI>
If you look in XenCenter on the Storage tab of the LUN, that virtual disk will disappear from the LUN. Now click the Rescan button and it will show back up again. Boom!

Now here is the tricky part. You must now make a generic VM with the same specs as the old VM, but leave it powered off. Make sure to delete any disks that you created with it as well. Then attach the VM from the original VM, and power the new VM shell back up. Boom! Your virtual server is alive again! Now you can delete the old VM.

I'm sure there is an easier way to fix this, but I have yet to find an easier solution to this problem than this. If you know a better way, let me know in the comments!

Mar 7, 2018

Where can you download older versions of XenServer?

Ever since Citrix announced the good features they were pulling from the free edition of XenServer starting in version 7.3, many users of the free XenServer were extremely pissed! For those of you who don't know what got pulled from the free version, here is the list:
  • Dynamic Memory Control
  • Xen Storage Motion
  • Active Directory Integration
  • Role Based Access Control
  • High Availability
  • GPU Pass-Through
  • Site Recovery Manager (Disaster Recovery)
  • XenCenter Rolling Pool Upgrade Wizard
  • Maximum Pool Size Restricted To 3 Hosts (existing larger pools will continue to work, but no new host joins will be permitted)
Pretty much, everything you've grown to love right? Well, if you don't think that takes the cake, they went ahead and restricted access to older version of Xen Server so you can't download and keep using the old versions!

Well, screw that shit man! At the time of this writing I've found three download locations for version 7.0, 7.1 and 7.2. You can download them below:
Hurry up and grab them before these links no longer work. If they stop working, let me know in the comments and I'll see if I can create other download links since I've already downloaded them just in case.

Seriously though, removing the good features from your free offering is to quote user Sam McLeod from the comments below the announcement:
This is a typical, big enterprise, Microsoft style backstab and absolutely aimed at the heart not just of XenServer but many of the key people and organisations that push for and help drive innovation.
I couldn't agree more! Which is why I will continue to use XenServer 7.2 until they either restore their free features, or until I find a better free hypervisor solution.

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

Mar 6, 2018

How to get more Facebook page likes for free

You wouldn't be able to tell by looking at the Bauer-Power Facebook page that I actually have quite a big following. That's because the Bauer-Power the Tech Blog gets most of its traffic from Google, so I'm not terribly concerned with 'Likes' on Facebook, although I would love for you to follow Bauer-Power if you find this post useful!

I do, on the other hand, have a political Facebook page that I manage called Mainwashed that has a fairly decent following. In the early days of the page, I paid for Facebook advertising to get more followers, but I haven't done that in a few years since Facebook has squashed our reach with their newer algorithms. That being said, I did find a way to get more followers for free, and relatively fast!

This is a feature that I noticed the other day called the Invite. If you have a somewhat popular post with lots of likes and reactions on it, you can click on the link that shows who liked or reacted to your post, you will see a list of folks who either like your page already or ones that don't. For that latter group you will see a button to Invite them to like your page!

When you invite them, they will receive an invite from the page itself, not your personal account. It's pretty slick!

Doing this manually is kind of a daunting task though, and that's where this post will be handy for you! I found a Google Chrome plugin that will take care of this process for you for free! It can Invite up to 490 people per day too (Facebook's limitation, not theirs).

It's called Facebook Like Inviter! From the Chrome Web Store:
Invite everyone who liked your post to like your Facebook page in just one click! | FREE, NO ADS, NO registration. 
Do you want to invite everyone who liked your post to like also your fan/business FACEBOOK page? Use this extension to save a lot of your time! 
Here is a screenshot of it working it's magic on one of my Mainwashed posts:

Be sure to not try to go over the 490 invite limit in a day. I did that when I first tried this, and Facebook blocked for a full week! LOL!

Anyway, using this tool seems to be working quite well, and I'm starting to see the number of my followers grow again!

Mar 5, 2018

Which Is More Successful? Google or Apple?

In this episode of the Infragraphics Show, they try to figure out who is more successful between Google and Apple? They look at which one has the most potential to be the first trillion dollar company, and look at how both Google (Alphabet) and Apple got started.

Mar 2, 2018

How to explain #Bitcoin to your grandparents (Infographic)

Interestingly, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a really foreign concept to many older folks. Millennials seem to just get it, probably because it was a technology created early in their lifetime so it just makes sense.

Anyway, if you are a bitcoin enthusiast, and have been having a difficult time explaining it to your parents or grandparents, check on this infographic:

Mar 1, 2018

Easy to setup free open source backup server

The other day I was looking for a new backup solution. I wanted one that I could use for my day job potentially, and also perhaps as a side business for local businesses around me. You see, I found that through VPS Dime, I can get a 2TB Linux VPS server for as low as $28 per month! If I setup a cloud based backup server on it, I could charge small businesses a lower monthly fee than Mozy charges, and still make a profit! I digress...

Anyway, one open source backup solution I found was really easy to setup, so I thought I'd share it with you. It's called UrBackup!

Here are features from their page:
  • Full and incremental image and file backups: Whole partitions can be saved as well as single directories
  • Clients for Windows, Linux and Max OS X
  • Fast calculation of file tree differences leads to very fast incremental file backups - only new changed files will be retransmitted
  • Only used and changed hard disk sectors are transmitted during an incremental image backup
  • Image and file backups while the system is running
  • Conistent backups of used files on Windows and Linux. For example Outlook .pst files
  • Same files on different computers are saved only once. Less server storage space is needed for your backups (file level deduplication)
  • Clients can change their settings like backup frequency or number of backups and can take a look at logfiles of their backups
  • Next to no configuration. Install, select the directories you want to backup and watch it backup
  • Client warns if there was no backup for some time
  • Webinterface that shows the status of the clients, current activities and statistics. It allows the administrator to change backup settings and override the settings for the clients. Existing file backups can be browsed, files from these backups can be extracted or restore processes started
  • Reports about backups can be send to users or administrators
  • Secure and efficient backups to your own server via Internet if the client is currently not in your local network
  • File metadata such as last modified time is backed up
  • Easy to use file and image restore (via restore CD/USB stick)
  • Easy to configure and use file backup access
They also list the following as one of UrBackup's limitations:
Image backups only work with NTFS formated volumes and with the Windows client. The drives must be MBR or GPT partitioned, the partition must be a primary one. Dynamic volumes are not supported. Mirrored dynamic volumes work, but are not officially supported. Backup to VHD files only works for volumes with a size of less than 2TB.
This really isn't it's only limitation though. One glaring limitation, which caused me to decide not to use this tool, is that it doesn't provide for encrypted backups at rest. Now, one could probably store the backups using full disk encryption and be fine with it, but I need something that stores backups at rest with or without full disk encryption.

It does offer the ability to encrypt backups in transit if you only allow clients to backup using Internet mode, which does help out quite a bit.

I installed this on an Ubuntu test server in about five minutes. To install in Ubuntu, all you have to do is run the following from the terminal:
  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:uroni/urbackup
  • sudo apt update
  • sudo apt install urbackup-server
Other versions for various operating systems can be found here (UrBackup Download).

So, to reiterrate, I opted not to use this solution for the fact that it doesn't offer encryption of the backup data at rest. If they do implement this feature, I'm certain to take another look at it. If this isn't a requirement for you though, then I highly recommend it!

Do you know of a better open source backup solution? What do you use? Let us know in the comments!

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