Jul 29, 2014

Powershell Script To Automatically Clean Up WSUS

I was rebuilding my work's Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) server the other day, and while configuring it I thought about how nice it would be to automate the cleanup process. You know, decline superseded updates, decline obsolete updates etc.

Normally one would have to do this manually by running the Server Cleanup Wizard, but who has time for that?

Well SpiceWorks community member Wouter-Trust created an awesome PowerShell script that works like a charm! You can find his post here and you can download his script here.

I have my script running once a week to free up disk space, and generally optimize our patch deployment process!

Do you have a script that does this? Or perhaps another tool? What do you use to keep WSUS clean on your network? Let us know in the comments!

Jul 21, 2014

Evolutionary Technology: How Tablets Have Influenced Apps and Us

When the first caveman clicked stones together to create fire, he changed the world. When the second one came out and told the first that there is an app for that, he changed humankind. As a culture, we evolve in steps—moving rapidly then plateauing before moving again. Technologically, we are in a fast developing stage. Mobile technology, especially app development, is redefining how our culture communicates, does business and has fun.

Business And Coffee

The days of the brick-and-mortar business are numbered. With the accessibility of Wi-Fi and the power of tablets, we no longer need office space and showrooms to effectively run a business. Using Google Drive, we can remotely save and share documents for real time collaboration. The Intuit Quickbooks application lets us do all of our accounting online, and LocalVox aggregates all of our social media marketing. With the PayPal app, we can take money through credit card transactions or via a PayPal account. What used to take a team of people to do, we can do with a mobile computer while drinking our morning java. With this new found flexibility, commerce will never be the same.

Just Saying Hi

Mobile technology has made the world very small, which has changed the way we communicate. Communication in this context is greater than a simple chat on the phone or online. Mobile technology has altered the very nature of information sharing. Systems like Google Hangouts and Skype allow us to stay in touch with loved ones while also enabling us to migrate and explore. Children can go away to college, and friends can take a job halfway around the world without losing touch. This technology is even allowing people to make a difference in conflict torn areas of the world by letting us share knowledge, resources and support.

Fun and Games

App downloads are expected to hit 100 billion in 2014, with over 90 percent of those being free apps. Most of these downloads will be for fun and entertainment. The gaming app developer Zynga booked $161 million in a three-month period this year. This is pretty good for a company that makes free games. Instead of charging upfront, Zynga and other game makers generate revenue by selling in-game items like extra turns, super powered items or cyber decorations. Not only have entertainment apps changed the way we play, but they have also redefined the holy grail of do-it-yourself wealth.

Really Important Stuff

Mobile tablet applications are allowing deaf people to communicate with the hearing community with apps such as Dragon Dictation, which transcribes a spoken conversation for the hard of hearing person to read. It’s giving communication ability to the autistic with apps like AAC Speech Buddy, which allows you to create custom speech sets. It’s making it possible for people with high risk medical conditions to monitor their health and live longer, healthier lives. Some examples pending approval by the FDA include apps that help patients with PTSD, depression and anxiety as well as GPS-based information about environmental conditions for people with asthma, games to motivate physical therapy patients and educational tips for pregnant women.

Studies show that most new consumer ideas can be created with existing technology, so our next step in technological evolution is only limited to our imaginations.

Jul 10, 2014

Free Alternative To Microsoft Dynamics GP and CRM

At my company we are going through a process to figure out what CRM system we want, and we also want to upgrade our Microsoft Dynamics GP instance. We've already paid for Microsoft Dynamics GP, so that's a done deal and we are going to go with an overpriced CRM solution. It's out of my hands. Still though, I wanted to see if there were any open source alternatives to Microsoft Dynamics GP or Microsoft Dynamics CRM that a start up company could use that didn't cost an arm and a leg.

I found one called Dolibarr! From their page:
Dolibarr ERP & CRM is a modern and easy to use web software to manage your business (contacts, invoices, orders, products, stocks, agenda, emailings, etc...).

It's an opensource and free software designed for small companies, foundations and freelances. You can install and use it as a standalone application, or online on a mutualized or dedicated server to use it from anywhere. Dolibarr is also available on ready to use Cloud services.
Here are some screen shots:

More screen shots can be found here.

If you are just starting a business and want to save money on software, you might want to give Dolibarr a try instead of forking over thousands of dollars to Microsoft. Just saying.

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

Jun 24, 2014

Microsoft SQL Server Database Services and Analysis Services Failed Update With Error Code 1603

The other night I was trying to configure a simple database backup maintenance job on one of my company's older Microsoft SQL 2005 servers. For some reason every time I tried to run the maintenance job I created it would fail for some reason.

Well after Googling around someone suggested that it might be a problem where Microsoft SQL Management Studio was a different version than the database services. Looking at it that was the case. Database services was at version 9.00.4035 and Microsoft SQL Management Studio was running 9.00.500. Apparently at some point, someone tried to run the SP4 upgrade and it failed and they just left it (Evil eyes goes to the DBA).

Anyhoo, so I decided to try and install SP4 for Microsoft SQL 2005, and it kept failing for database services and analysis services with an error similar to this:
Service Pack 4 for SQL Server Database Services 2005 ENU (KB2463332) could not be installed. Error code 1603.

Service Pack 4 for SQL Server Analysis Services 2005 ENU (KB2463332) could not be installed. Error code 1603.
Apparently that is a common issue. To fix it you have to remove a few registry keys. MAKE SURE TO MAKE A BACKUP OF THOSE KEYS FIRST!

Remove the following to get database services to update:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\Setup\SQLGroup
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\Setup\AGTGroup
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\Setup\FTSGroup
Remove the following to get analysis services to update:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.2\Setup\ASGroup
That's it, after removing those registry keys the upgrade went smoothly... Oh, and the upgrade also fixed my maintenance job problem!
[Via SDP]

NetApp Not Failing Over Even Though NICs Are Configured For Failover

NetApp logo
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At my company we use a few NetApp SAN's. One was configured before I came on board by a consulting firm. The second one was configured by my Systems Administrator with assistance from the consulting firm, and the third we just got my Systems Administrator and I configured it ourselves.

Well we did the initial setup and configued the NICs for failover (Or Takeover in NetApp land) but when we tested failover by unplugging the network cables it didn't trigger a takeover. Naturally I called NetApp support to find out what I was missing. Well it was simply that I didn't mark my network interfaces for failover. You can do that by running:
ifconfig <interfacename> nfo
So, if you are only using interfaces e0a and e0b on both controllers, you would run:
ifconfig e0a nfo
ifconfig e0b nfo
When do your setup you should also run the following on each controller to ensure takeover works correctly:

options cf enable                                          
options cf.takeover.on_network_interface_failure on
options cf.takeover.on_failure on
options cf.takeover.on_panic on
options cf.takeover.on_reboot on
options cf.takeover.on_short_uptime on
options cf.takeover.on_network_interface_failure.policy any_nic
options cf.giveback.auto.enable on

It was a good thing I called NetApp support, because I checked the second NetApp that was configured by my Systems Administrator and the consultant and it was missing the network failover options as well.

Do you use NetApps? How do you like them? Do you prefer other SANs? If so which ones? Let us know in the comments.

Jun 23, 2014

Can't Login To TeamPass After Upgrading Ubuntu to 14.04

The other day I upgraded my TeamPass server to Ubuntu 14.04 to stay current and to make sure I could get the latest security packages. I figured, what could possibly go wrong? All I'm running is a simple LAMP server right?

Well after upgrading Ubuntu from 12.04 to 14.04, I could no longer login to TeamPass. I got the login page fine, but after entering my credentials the little icon would just spin where it said "Please Identify yourself" and never do anything. WTF?

Well I was about to give up and go through the install strict again when I noticed the install script said I didn't have PHP mcrypt installed. I figured it must have been removed after the upgrade, so I went to install it and it was already installed.

It turns out that after Ubuntu 13.10 the mcrypt extension gets removed from Apache for some reason. To fix it I had to run the following:
sudo ln -s /etc/php5/conf.d/mcrypt.ini /etc/php5/apache2/conf.d/20-mcrypt.ini
After that I restarted the Apache service:
sudo service apache2 restart
Once Apache registered the mcrypt extensions Teampass was back in business!

Jun 20, 2014

The Three Big Over The Counter 24 Hour Allergy Medicines Don't Work

I decided to stray away from tech today and go on a rant!

I have been an allergy sufferer all my life. It is particularly bad in Colorado where I grew up and where I currently live. It didn't bother me as bad when I lived in San Diego, but now that I'm back to my home state I have been living in my own personal allergy hell until today.

You see when you go to the pharmacy and you look at the allergy section you see something like this:

In the above picture the only thing missing is Zyrtec. Usually what I see is four solid rows of shelves that are peddling Claritin (Loratadine), Allegra (Fexofenadine), Zyrtec (Cetirizine) or the generic counterpart to these. Don't believe me? Check some of the other boxes on the shelf. Chances are damned good the active ingredient is one of the big three.

Sure you might also see Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) on the shelf too, but if you are like me you only want to take that when you are ready to go into a coma!

I got fed up with these pills not working so I went to my doctor who went way overboard with prescribing me a nasal spray, eye drops, an inhaler and some steroids. WTF? I just want a decent pill that works!

When I was in high school I used to take Tavist-D (Clemastine) and it worked great. What the hell ever happened to that? Why have we been reduced to three bogus 24 hour snake oil pills that don't do shit?

Well today while at Walmart I happened across a box of generic Tylenol Allergy Multi-Symptom medicine. I decided to check the active antihistamine and they used Chlorpheniramine! Yup! Not one of the big three! This is the active ingredient in the tried and true Chlor Trimeton!

True, Chlorpheniramine has been known to cause drowsiness, but it's not like the "knock you on your ass" drowsiness you find in Benadryl. You can probably handle it.

Well I found the one box on in the entire allergy section that didn't have one of the big three antihistamines, so I decided to buy it and give it a shot. Guess what? It worked like a friggin' charm! Why don't they put more of this on the shelf? It actually works! Nope, instead they keep it hidden!

Until they start stocking the shelves with what works, I'll order mine from Amazon. I found this bottle of 1000 four hour Chlorpheniramine tablets for less than $9! That should last a while and save me a few bucks!

What do you use to fight off allergies? Did you find this article while looking for an alternative to Claritin, an alternative to Allegra or an alternative to Zyrtec? Let us know about your allergy struggle in the comments!

Jun 19, 2014

I Can't Uninstall Microsoft iSCSI Initiator From Add/Remove Programs in Windows 2003 Server

I have this old backup server that is still running Windows Server 2003. Sometime back it was only running with Service Pack 1, and that is when I initially installed the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator service so I could add some iSCSI LUNs.

Well recently while troubleshooting an issue with a brand new NetApp SAN I wanted to uninstall and re-install the iSCSI Intiator Service, but it wasn't in my Add/Remove Programs! WTF?

Well, according to Microsoft this is a known issue after installing a new service pack. For me it was after I installed SP2:
This issue occurs because the iSCSI Initiator installation package is installed as a hotfix. When a service pack is installed, the service pack removes the registry entries that allow for previous hotfix packages to be uninstalled. 
Well just because it isn't in your Add/Remove programs doesn't mean you can't install it. All you have to do is run the following from the command prompt:
After that follow the prompts and reboot as normal!

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