Aug 12, 2014

Configure XenServer for SNMP

Monitoring your virtualization cluster is very important. I mean, they run most of your critical servers for crying out loud right? Well besides VMWare in my company's environment, we also have XenServer. Since we just added another node to our XenServer cluster I thought I would write about how to configure it for SNMP monitoring.
  • SSH into your XenServer
  • Edit: /etc/sysconfig/iptables with your favorite text editor. (I like nano)
  • Add the following lines AFTER the line “-A RH-Firewall-1-INPUT -p udp –dport 5353 -d 224.0.0.251 -j ACCEPT”
    -A RH-Firewall-1-INPUT -p udp --dport 161 -j ACCEPT
    -A RH-Firewall-1-INPUT -p udp --dport 123 -j ACCEPT
     
  • Execute: service iptables restart
  • Edit: /etc/snmp/snmpd.conf with your favorite text editor
  • Replace the community with your current SNMP community if you have one.
    # sec.name source community
    com2sec notConfigUser default public
  • Execute: chkconfig snmpd on
  • Execute: service snmpd restart
That's it, now you should be able to do an SNMP walk using your monitoring software. We happen to use Zenoss Core and it is able to pick up everything we need to monitor our XenServers!

What do you use for monitoring? Do you like it? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

[Via Gimpland]

Aug 11, 2014

The Most Amazing Wearable Tech of 2014

Hoodies that send text messages, wristwatches that run iOS and contact lenses that protect against the harmful rays of the sun were all once considered gadgets of the future. However, recent advancements have turned these tech tools into a reality. Some consider this to be the beginning of the end of humanity, where the line between human and machine begins to blur, whereas others believe that it is an extraordinary advancement that will turn is into more powerful humans. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, one thing is for certain: wearable tech is here to stay.

Smart Hoodie

Imagine a world where a sweater can both keep you warm and send text messages for you. The Smart Hoodie, created by NYU grad students Rucha Patwardhan and Alina Balean, is technically still in demo mode. The plan is to create a hooded sweatshirt with a GSM radio sewn in that responds to a person's gestures. In other words, if you want to send a text that says "I love you" to your significant other all you'll have to do is roll up your sleeve or touch the hood, explains The Verge. This Smart Hoodie also may be able to save lives with the text-to-911 feature that is currently in the works.

iWatch

Apple is known for its sci-fi inspired creations—the iPad looks almost identical to the tablets seen in Star Trek. And, the company has done it again with iWatch. It's believed that the official introduction for this wearable tech will take place in late 2014, comments Mac Rumors. Little is known about this long awaited tech tool, but it is likely that the iWatch will be an iOS-friendly watch that is compatible with the iPhone, reports Tech Radar. That means that this wearable tech will make it easier to check incoming notifications and messages without having to pull out your devices. However, it's expected that the iWatch won't be as sophisticated as the iPhone 6, which, according to Apple Insider, has a release date of October 14, 2014.

Speaker Clutch

We've got futuristic clothing and accessories, what more do we need? Well, apparently Rebecca Minkoff thought we needed a more modern version of the clutch. Created for the brand Stellé Audio Couture, edgy clutches with Blutooth-enabled wireless speakers inside are already available at Nordstrom. This conversation piece comes in navy blue, forest green, hot pink and silver and has a retail price of $400, says Cosmopolitan. If you want to bring the music with you wherever you go, this speaker and clutch hybrid is for you.

UV-Protection Lenses

The Acuvue Oasys brand has developed contact lenses that protect against harmful UV rays by blocking 96 percent of UV-A rays and 99 percent of UV-B rays, says Vision Direct. In addition, contact lenses create a full barrier over a large part of the surface of the eye and the entire cornea as opposed to many sunglasses that do not protect the eyes from solar radiation that comes in from the sides or around this type of eyewear, says the American Optometric Association.
It is difficult to predict exactly where wearable tech will take us simply because it has the potential to encompass many aspects of our lives. It is reasonable to expect that this type of technology will improve various industries, particularly the medical and communication sector. Business Insider mentions that the goal of wearable tech has always been to improve our awareness without getting in the way of social interactions. If this proves true, wearable technology will inevitably allow us to have more control of our surrounding environment.

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.
Or

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!



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