Thursday, October 29, 2009

You should watch Engadget Show with Steve Balmer

I watched the show the other day and came away really impressed. I hate to admit but I actually liked Steve somewhat. He was soft of honest and funny about Microsoft. He talked about Windows 7, Zune, Windows Phone, XBOX and other stuff Microsoft is busy with. It was a good interview.

No chairs were harmed during the filming of the show...

Ubuntu 9.10 is here - time to triple boot a Mac!

I picked a great day to fix my dual/triple booting problems. For the past two days, I was having problems with reinstalling OSX 10.6 due to partitioning and repartitioning. Finally, I stumbled upon a tip to reset my PRAM. That worked and I described the steps in my previous articles. Today in the morning I reset my PRAM, reinstalled OSX, applied the latest Time Machine backup and then installed Windows 7 64-bit with Bootcamp. Then I downloaded Ubuntu Desktop 9.10 ISO from the Ubuntu site. Burned it to CD and then booted to it pressing "C". Ran the usual install, during partitioning I chose the following:

advanced settings
resized bootcamp to allow for free space
gave 8gb ext4 partition and assigned to root
2gb swap partition
the rest ext4 for /home

ext4 8gb /
2gb swap
ext4 /home

When it finished installing, I rebooted (I installed refit earlier) and chose the Windows partition. Once picked, grub appeared. Picked the first in the list, which was Ubuntu and then I was in. Ran into many problems because Macs don't play too well with Ubuntu. Followed tutorials on Ubuntu forums and got it running. Installed propriatory drivers and got wifi and video working fine. Trackpad is taking time getting used to. You need to 1-click to drag a window.

After all that, I rebooted and picked Windows partition and instead of choosing Ubuntu, picked Windows (last entry in the list). Now I am blogging from the Windows partition. Installed all the apps I need using this great tool called Ninite. Now I got a fully working triple-boot.

Happy hacking!

Case of rogue audit log

We are very lucky to have System Center Operations Manager in our shop. I can easily access tons of information that is typically hidden from DBA. At some point, I was able to find this strange phenomenon. One of my servers had low disk space and I started researching this. Turns out, msdb grew to 16gb. I started looking into this problem and found a table with a name Apex in msdb database. The table alone was 16gb. I googled the named of the table and found out that this is a log auditing application. It was removed awhile ago but add remove by itself won't cut it. There are server-side traces and events enabled as well. The funny thing is that this application is only installed on one node and not the other. Extended Stored Procedures were called every time SQL would start on this node. I followed instructions I found on Google to remove the extended procedures, DLL, exe and some left-over stored procedures, then I truncated the table and deleted it. My msdb is now 35mb. Whew.

Watch out, this application gets installed in msdb database, if you have it in your environment, monitor the size of your msdb!

Good luck.

MacBook Pro problem when you fresh install

Windows 7 launched on October 22nd and that's about the time I got my 64-bit copy. First thing I wanted to do was install it on my MacBook Pro. I started up Bootcamp and began to repartition. I ran into a problem partitioning more than 40gb volume. I started researching the issue and it turns out that due to fragmentation, it won't allow for larger space. Yes Macs also suffer from fragmentation! I had two options, purchase software to defrag the hard drive or do a fresh install of Snow Leopard. I opted out for #2. I erased my drive, formatted it and within an hour I had a brand new installation. Then I restored from Time Machine backup and my machine went back to the exact way it was when I began, minus the fragmentation. I must say that Time Machine is an amazing piece of technology, even though I've heard otherwise. I created a few partitions, one for Windows, one for Ubuntu 9.10 (coming shortly today!!!) and one for Data (partition formatted in FAT, accessible by all three). One thing led to another and it didn't work out too well for me. I decided to reinstall again and just stay with Mac OSX and Windows in Bootcamp. At this point fresh install started failing. I tried every which way to reinstall but was not able to. I even deleted the whole OS and installed Windows exclusively. I looked in the error log and message was that installation was unable to bless the disk and boot from it. Then I started researching again and found out that sometimes Intel Macs's PRAM get corrupted. Symptoms were similar to mine so I decided to try. To reset the PRAM you have to hold "Command + Option + P + R" together at boot-up, before the chime and continue holding until Mac restarts. After 2nd chime, your PRAM is reset. I tried that and it worked. Then I reinstalled the Mac and what do you know, I was able to reinstall! I am restoring from the backup as we speak.

Other good things to know:

force CD to eject command: "turn off the Mac, hold the power key for 10 seconds and when you hear chime, hold the trackpad until CD ejects".

boot from CD: "put CD in, reboot, hold "C".

That's that, happy hacking and Happy Ubuntu Day!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Doing "print screen" on a Mac is a pain in the ass

I am catching up with blogging today and I need to take a screenshot of my screen. I have a Macbook Pro with Ubuntu in a virtual machine. There is no printscreen button and a quick search returned "Apple + Shift + 3". Mac fanboys think that's easy and better than PC? So here's a problem. If you want to take a print screen in VM, that key combination doesn't work. What do I do besides opening the screenshot application and doing it half-assed way?
I am sure you can edit key bindings but that should not be that way. If you know of any other ways, let me know.

Windows Apps on Ubuntu Karmic Koala in 1-2-3 steps



I used to be a big user of Google Notebook. I loved this product and needless to say when Google decided to scrap it, I was pretty bummed. Fortunately, there is another product called Evernote. It is pretty much the same type of web application but it also has a desktop front-end. Evernote has apps for Windows, OSX, iPhone and Palm Pre. However, there is no Linux client, other than the web application... Until now.
I heard about this tip from the Fresh Ubuntu Podcast, who in turn got it from Leo Laporte on Floss Weekly. So here it goes:
1. Download Evernote 3.1 Windows executable from their website.
2. Install wine1.2 package from the Ubuntu Repositories. "sudo apt-get install wine1.2".
3. In Terminal type "wine Evernote*.exe".

That's it and it works fine.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Favorite SQL Server Log Analysis Tool has been updated

Performance Analysis of Logs for (#SQL Server 2000/05, #IIS, #Exchange, #MOSS, #Active Directory) has been upgraded! Latest build is as of June 12, 2009, version 1.3.5. I have used version 1.3.4.3 prior to this but I'm about to install this latest version and take it for a spin. Can't wait to see what's new in this release. With PAL for SQL Server, you need to generate a .BLG file with pssdiag for SQL 2000 or SQLDIAG for 2005 and then use it as input for PAL. It will run a VBscript and generate an HTML report that you can submit to your manager for review. It shows all the important performance stats for SQL, disk performance and memory. I use it to find my performance hogs. No major changes seen so far. Get yours at Codeplex.

Aslo good for log analysis of IIS, Exchange, BizTalk and other Microsoft Technologies. Requires .NET 2.0.

Enjoy.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Power Manager 2.24.2 in Ubuntu 9.04

I can't believe I've never seen it in Ubuntu but something possessed me to look at power manager today and I found a few new goodies. This feature reminds me of perfmon in Windows only for power manager. It shows a lot of information regarding power management such as: power history, voltage history, charge/discharge time profile, charge/discharge time accuracy. It presents a nice graph with trends. This is another great way to see the performance of your laptop battery and one more plus for Ubuntu!



I get this error more often than I want to see

Today I tried to install SQL Server 2005 SP2 Cumulative Update 13 on one of servers and I received an error "Error code: 11009 No passive nodes successfully patched". This is a Windows 2003 32-bit cluster and after six successful installations of CU 13, it had to fail on a production server. Luckily this production server is not yet in production (he he) and thankfully Microsoft included rollback inside the update. It did update workstation tools but not the engine.
Usually it fails when task scheduler or WMI is not running on the passive node. In today's case both services were running and I am yet to hear from Microsoft web support about the issue. What I did last time to fix was take the passive node out of the cluster and patch individually one by one each node. This was a special case because for some weird reason, the application vendor requires task scheduler to be a cluster-aware service and it must fail-over so I had to find another solution and that's what I had to do if I didn't want to touch the task scheduler. Well, I searched for the hell of it today and found this very helpful result. It is really quite genius, I must say. I can't believe I didn't think of it before. This article is as of April 20th, 2009, which is way after I had my last issue. The article describes that this issue first appeared after Cumulative Update 6 and plagued DBAs since then. It is fixed in SP3, more reason to upgrade! Anyway, my previous workaround is described there as method 2 but method 1 is pure DBA happiness! What I did today to quickly patch was pause the passive node, patch the active node, unpause, failover, reboot, patch the now active node with rebooted node now paused, reboot it and test! Voil-la you now have a working database engine version 9.0.3325!

Friday, May 29, 2009

SQLDIAG and PSSDIAG

Most of the time I work with SQL Server 2005 when I need to collect statistics and create a nice looking html document with #PerfMon stats. In that case I run SQLDIAG with detailed statistics enabled. Command at the prompt is: SQLDIAG /i SD_Detailed.XML. This time around I was asked to run a performance report on a SQL 2000 Server. It's been a long time since I've done any work of this type so here are a few things I've learned from working with it. Apparently SQL 2000 doesn't support SQLDIAG. In that case I need to run PSSDIAG. You may ask why do I need to run either one, there are other tools available. Well, SQLDIAG and PSSDIAG create a .BLG file that I can feed into PAL tool that will create a really good html formatted document with plenty of information on performance. Well, my problems started right away. It is not as flexible as SQLDIAG and I stopped taking 2005 for granted after I've messed around with PSSDIAG for 2000. Apparently I need XML parser SP2 to run PSSDIAG on SQL 2000. Running it without that will give you an error message "cannot instantiate XML DOM". Oh ye, double-clicking the PSSDIAG executable will give you a nice "Buffer Overrun" error message. How about that! If anyone has encountered similar issues, please let me know what are your thoughts. If you're wondering whether I was able to collect the data, the answer is no. I need to wait seven days as per our change control policy for any modifications to our production environments. So even a 5mb file (XML parser Sp2) has to be installed during a scheduled maintenance.

Take care and have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Update on get-process | kill

Got replies on #twitter by @jsnover, @r_keith_hill re: get-process | kill command. It is fixed in #powershell v.2, will only kill user-
specific processes. Will test in Windows 7, also was told to use -whatif tag. -whatif tag tells you what the command you're about to run will do. Now that's neat! Thank you fine gentlemen for your help.
Twitter is a wonderful tool!

--Artem

Never do this in PowerShell!

I was playing with #powershell the other day and found this "neat" trick. If you type "get-process | kill", it will reboot your box i.e. kill all running processes. Goes to show how important it is to know what you're doing with #shell. Use at your own risk!

--
Artem

New feature in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope

If you go to Terminal in #Ubuntu 9.04, and type "screen" no quotes, you will get quick info on CPU, Memory and some other info. Pretty neat! I heard this on LinuxOutlaws podcast.

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Artem

Monday, May 11, 2009

Run Powershell Inside Cygwin

#Cygwin in simpler terms is a bash shell for #Windows.  You can run all your favorite bash tools like #rsync, #ssh, etc in cygwin. Turns out, you can run #powershell also. Yes powershell! Simply type “powershell” in cygwin, no quotes, and you will enter a powershell environment. Else, you can type a full command like this >powershell “get-eventlog System”. At the end you will be brought back to bash shell. In the first example you will stay in powershell. One caveat though, I don’t see tab completion in cygwin and file names are case sensitive, so you must specify the names exactly how they’re defined.


______________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Ubuntu Look



Jaunty is out of the door and first traces of Mark Shuttleworth's promise to bring a beautiful OS that can rival Mac OSX are surfacing. I must be honest, when I upgraded I installed ubuntu-restricted-extras with Microsoft Fonts, but I never did enable them. I ended up using default fonts. These fonts are easy to read and really do look cool. Themes that are shipped with 9.04 are also great. The one I ended up using is called "Dust Sand". It looks a little like OSX theme but it is different. I prefer it over the default "Human" theme. Slight opacity is also a nice touch that comes with this theme. I really dig it..

Newly-found Gems

There were a lot of changes to my podcast collection since the last time I talked about them. I recently found Knightwise (KWTV) and Category5 TV. These two podcasts concentrate on users and provide really good tips and resources for people learning Ubuntu and other software. Knightwise has a really good attitude and blogs from Belgium. You can also find him on Facebook. Category5 TV is another great resource. These guys are in Canada and I found them when they were featured on Ubuntu UK podcast. What I don't like about Category 5 tv is that you need to register on the website and go through a few clicks to get through RSS feeds. Once you do though, you have a lot of choices to pick from. For the people with a lot of time, I suggest to subscribe to a full feed. For the short attention span people like me, I am going for the meat, that's what it is called. However, if you subscribe in iTunes, there is no feed h.264 feed for iPhone yet. So you should settle for Miro for now. I prefer to take my podcasts to go, so I will wait until then. I was really impressed with the past few episodes featuring VIrtualBox and Compiz effects. Head on over there and check these guys out. I recommend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

There can be only one...

Well it happened. I finally wiped my Ubuntu installation after three full years of work. Let's take it back to the end of March for a minute. Beta of Ubuntu 9.4 was just released and what do I do, upgrade my Ubuntu 8.10. I've had problems before with my upgrades of Beta Ubuntu but never like this. What happened this time is that when everything completed successfully, I tried to boot into Ubuntu and at logon screen I realized that my mouse and keyboard were not working. I could see a cursor but I could not move it. I rebooted into recovery mode and tried to fix it with my limited Linux command knowledge. It didn't work. Then from that time and on until yesterday I would boot into root shell with networking and run "sudo apt-get update" and "sudo apt-get dist-upgrade", hoping it will fix my broken system. It didn't work. That's why for the past month and a half I had to use XP exclusively :(. I really missed Ubuntu. So yesterday I spent the whole day backing up my existing setup. By the way let me mention that I use XP only for iTunes and I use iTunes only for my iPhone. I really wish there was another solution that I could use on Ubuntu for everything iTunes does with iPhone.

So the first thing I did was I installed Macrium and made an image of my whole hard drive. Then I installed Cobian Backup and backed up all my files on XP. Then I backed up my iTunes collection to DVD media. Then I made an iso of all Windows updates with "Offline Update" application and burnt it to DVD. Lastly, I found driver backup with yahoo search and backed up all of my laptop drivers. Then on the Ubuntu side I used Grsync to backup files from the Ubuntu partition. Now let me reiterate, I could not login to a working X session with my broken Ubuntu. What I did was, download a new Ubuntu 9.4 Release Candidate iso with Bittorrent (highly recommend this for much better speed (1.5mb/s for me) and of course you're helping others out). Made sure it was not an alternate installer because it lacks Live Media. My machine is fairly new and it supports live media so I was fine there. I burned this iso to CD and booted into it. Installed Grsync and backed up my home directory to an external hard drive. Of course there's an easier way to do it with Bash shell in the original installation but since I am a noob I needed a bit of GUI magic. Then I used the same Ubuntu 9.4 RC CD to install a new system wiping both old XP and Ubuntu. So after three years with a stable Ubuntu installation it finally did me in. I guess I didn't learn my lesson upgrading to a Beta level software since the last time it broke my system. Well at least last time I was able to fix it.

Of course there's a point to this whole story and it is that I learned so much with this whole tedious process. When I installed a new Ubuntu and restored from Grsync backup, all of my old settings and files came back, including a Windows 7 Virtualbox image. Grsync also backed up my Firefox tab sessions, AMAZING! It worked perfectly! Of course some of the crap from the old system also came back. I always heard that fresh install is better than upgrade but was always hesitant to do it. Now that I didn't have a choice, I learned something new. Fresh install and then restore from backup takes much less time than doing an upgrade, especially the week of a new Ubuntu Release, which happens to be tomorrow, WOOT! I am planning to burn a new iso of Ubuntu in a few days once it goes gold, again downloading with bittorrent (next two weeks regular downloads are going to be slooooow) and burn to CD. In my home directory set an option to view hidden folders (any files with a period in the front i.e. ./VirtualBox), remove all of the folders I don't need, take a backup of that and then fresh install again. This will leave my box stable and clean.

Tomorrow Ubuntu 9.4 is coming out and I am going to celebrate by wearing my Ubuntu polo shirt. The funny tidbit is that I am going to a SQL Server User group at Microsoft headquarters in New York tomorrow after work as well :).

The backup applications I used worked great. Macrium in comparison to other imaging applications lets you make an image of your system while you're logged in, other imaging applications make you reboot. Cobian backup is great, you can make a regular backup or compressed with zip or 7zip archive types, split archives into many files, etc. Check out the application for more options. Offline update is a tool featured on Lifehacker.com that I used a few years ago. It fetches all of Windows Updates for 2000, XP, Vista, Server 2003, 2008, make an iso or many different isos (many languages are supported) burn to CD or DVD. Then when you fresh install Windows, put in the CD/DVD and it will guide you through the update. It will bring your system up to date much faster than with Windows Update, which requires an internet connection. This tool also skips the Genuine Advantage Check, which I think is a bloatware. Same options are available for Microsoft Office, definitely recommend this tool! Driver backup is a great little tool to backup your drivers, I didn't test the restore but backup is pretty fast. Free tool but author is asking for donations. Grsync is a GUI front end for rsync that comes preinstalled with Ubuntu. Helps noobs configure their backups and restores. Oh yeah and for the title, well There can be only Ubuntu, no Windows!

sweet..

Am I seeing double?

With all this conficker mumbo jumbo, my security admins restricted blogger.com access. Well, guess what, with it, they took my rights to blog from work. So just to confirm this I yahoo’ed my blog name “Artem’s blog” and found my blog and another Artem’s blog. I had to rub my eyes because topics covered are almost identical to what I would cover, Ubuntu, apps, etc. Turns out there’s another Artem in Ukraine, (I am in the U.S.) that blogs about similar topics. This is pretty funny and I’m kind of proud to have a namesake with similar interests. So everyone, please check out his blog and subscribe. You can also find him on Facebook at Artem Kudymovsky. Here’s a link to his blog.

p.s. I just looked through his articles, there’s a post where he says he changed the title of the blog from Artem and Darya;s blog to Artem’s blog, that explains why I didn’t find it before.


Common problems with podcasts (HAK5, DL.TV pay attention)

Over the past few years I've been shifting away from cable television towards internet. I have about 25 HBO, Starz and Encore channels, yet I find myself watching more and more tv on the net. A big part of my internet tv addiction is podcasts. My 16 gb iPhone holds 6gb of video and audio podcasts at any given time. Podcasts have a great advantage over reading blogs because I can listen and watch them on the go. I don't need an internet connection, I can listen to podcasts while I walk, drive and work.

Lately, I've been noticing a trend between most popular podcasts. Shows like Hak5, commandn, dltv, etc. are including a lot of extra chatter in their episodes. For example, a bunch of shows have bloopers at the end. Yes, they're funny and entertaining but a lot of people watch these shows for some specific reason and it's not bloopers! Let's take Hak5 for example. I love their show, I learn a lot, however, once they moved to Revision3, I started noticing that a lot of their content has deteriorated. Yes I know that the show is now weekly and it is really hard to produce a lot of quality material to fill in half an hour or more. Well, that's my point, who says we need an hour of content when most of it is chat. It may be a contract issue with Revision3 to produce a 30 minutes segment on a weekly basis but I think they're wrong. I'd settle for a 5 minute show with great material over 5 + 25 with 25 being talk anytime. Another thing that annoys me with Hak5 is their skits, I don't need to see that, they're pretty corny.

DL.TV has had major changes in the past few months as well and I understand they're experimenting with new formats but I think they're on a wrong track. Last episode was so boring. It used to be a 30-45 minute segment with a lot of DIY, tech reviews, etc. Now they have a 15 minute segment with a 10 minutes allocated for a lunch recipe site review, WTF! Seems like they're forcing it, their speech is monotonous and it's putting me to sleep. Go back to the previous format.

CNET, my problem with CNET is that they have so many different shows but once in a while I see the same small shorts inside other episodes. CNET Tips will appear on CNET LIVE, then on Editor's hour, then on Apple Byte, etc. I subscribe to all three and I see these tips three times! Then it's Molly Wood with her Buzz Report commercial. It started to appear at the end of CNET Loaded EVERY DAMN DAY! We get the idea, we don't need to see this repeated every day. Tekzilla with their survey advertisement is stealing 30 seconds of my life for every Tekzilla daily tip episode as well. C'mon, at least do it once a week.

The problem with all this is that it takes space on my iPhone, takes time to download and so far it doesn't apply but in the future it may, cable providers like Comcast capping download limits. Podcasts need to stick to their guns and not experiment (of course if they're not established yet). All of these gimmicks are similar from one show to another and they annoy me. Of course you can say who am I to tell them what to do. Well, I am a viewer and there is a lot of choice. There are other shows that have similar content but I find the shows listed in this blog very interesting and I want to continue watching them. I do hope they listen. I am positive that there are other viewers that find these items annoying just like me!

UPDATE: last week's HAK5 episode was unusually long, at 50minutes and change and it was all talk talk talk, wtf.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Error when you try to delete a maintenance task SQL 2005

Have you ever had a problem deleting a maintenance task in SQL 2005? Today I am going to show you how to delete a maintenance task due to the following error:



This error is elusive, there is no problem with connection! Most likely you cannot delete the task because there are records of it's execution stored in two tables that I will introduce shortly. First let me show you a table where maintenance tasks are listed. This is the same as viewing the maintenance tasks in Management Studio except doing it with T-SQL.

SELECT * FROM MSDB.DBO.SYSDTSPACKAGES90

Now that you know ID name of the maintenance task you're trying to delete we can review which tables hold the deletion.

If you try to delete with T-SQL you will get the following error:

It means there are records in MSDB.DBO.SYSMAINTPLAN_LOG table that are preventing you from deleting the maintenance task.

In my case, there are four records in the table that belong to this maintenance task.

Now that you run a delete statement using the maintenance task ID, you will clean up first of the two references.

The other table that has reference to the maintenance task is called MSDB.DBO.SYSMAINTPLAN_SUBPLANS.

This table shows how many subplans there are in your maintenance plan. In my case it's one.

Now if you run a delete with the maintenance plan ID you're trying to get rid off, you will clean out any subplans that your maintenance task has.

Now we will run the original select statement against SYSDTSPACKAGES90 table to make sure the maintenance task is still there.

Now you can run a delete statement against the original table or delete the maintenance task in management studio and it will be able to delete.



Task is deleted!

Summary:

First of all, there are recommendations not to touch system dbs. So far this is the only way I was able to find that can get rid off rogue maintenance tasks. Until then, I will continue to use this. Always run a full backup of msdb database before performing this process. I am not responsible for your actions and use this procedure at your own risk!

1. SELECT NAME, ID FROM MSDB.DBO.SYSDTSPACKAGES90 WHERE ID = 'THE ID OF THE ROGUE MAINTENANCE TASK'

2. DELETE FROM MSDB.DBO.SYSMAINTPLAN_LOG WHERE PLAN_ID = 'THE ID YOU GOT FROM STEP 1'

3. DELETE FROM MSDB.DBO.SYSMAINTPLAN_SUBPLANS WHERE PLAN_ID = 'THE ID YOU GOT FROM STEP 1'

4. DELETE FROM MSDB.DBO.SYSDTSPACKAGES90 WHERE ID = 'THE ID YOU GOT FROM STEP 1'

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Secure Your Databases Like Department Of Defense

I am constantly searching for best practices and security checklists on the internet for Microsoft SQL Server. One day I came across a gem, a godsend of sort; Department Of Defense Generic Database Security Checklist. It applies to SQL Server, Oracle, DB2 and any other RDMS. If this checklist is good enough for DOD, I would think it would apply to my databases as well, no? This security checklist along with other security checklists ranging from Active Directory, Network Security, Apache Server, Linux, VMWare and even Mainframe can be found at http://iase.disa.mil/stigs/stig/index.html. You may also subscribe to their mailing list and receive notifications when a new checklist is available http://iase.disa.mil/help/mailing-list.html.
 
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Artem

Friday, April 3, 2009

Easy blogging with Blogger Tools

I just found this feature in Blogger that definitely beats Ping.FM. Just to summarize, ping.fm lets me publish my posts written in an email. Limitations are that I cannot differentiate between micro-blogs and actual blog entries. So all my blogs would go to Twitter or Facebook and get cut off or small text entries would get published on my blog instead of Twitter. That creates a lot of mess. With this email feature on Blogger, I know exactly where it is going and I can control whether to publish right away or save as draft until later. To shorten the steps I created a contact in my Google Contacts called Blogger with email address created in Blogger, so if I have something to post, I can take a picture with iPhone let's say, embed it in an email send it to blogger contact and later publish the post. Easy and great, enjoy!


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Artem

SQLRAP - SQL Risk Assesstment Program

This is in no way an advertisement for Microsoft Services but I must admit this week was a great learning experience for me. It made me realize that I know less about SQL Server than I thought and made me doubt myself a bit :(. SQL Representative showed me a few tools like syscompare, sqlnexus and PAL. These tools helped me tie all the information I needed for performance tuning together and packaged this information in a beautiful report that you may submit to managers. If your shop has a contract with Microsoft and your SQL Servers do not perform as well as they should be, definitely seek these services. Download SQLRAP Datasheet here.


--
Artem

MailStore App

Sometimes you come across a killer app and you say where was this when I needed something like this? Well, at the end of last year, our Exchange guys made us copy our email manually to a network drive so that they could archive the emails. The task took me hours to backup my email. Today on Tekzilla, I hear about MailStore Home edition. It takes much less time to backup and archive email and you can burn it to CD/DVD media as well. It can archive mail from Exchange, Outlook/Express, Gmail, Hotmail, IMAP, POP3, etc. I am definitely impressed and highly recommend this tool, however, I didn't test restoring from DVD yet so use at your own risk. I recommend archiving email but not deleting it from source. Once you confirm it can be recovered, purge away! This is great if you want your email locally, off of those pesky Google servers.



Enjoy!

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Artem

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Free RAM with this Firefox tip as seen on Tekzilla

in Firefox address bar type "about:config" no quotes. Hit Enter. Right-click and click new, pick Boolean. Type "config.trim_on_minimize" no quotes, hit OK. Set the value to Boolean and now when you minimize, RAM will be released to the OS.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fresh from the Boxee meetup - 411

Beta won't be available until "3rd quarter". New features in beta: search for content throughout all of the channels; customize the home screen with any favorite channels; multiple profiles; content filtering... New channels like PBS, appbox with BoxeeHQ can be added now, Pandora, some pr0n was added back (was requested apparently from users), games, other integration will be added via API. Boxee will stay a software-only company and let hardware manufacturers provide platforms. They are also thinking of doing trends, how long you've spent watching on Boxee. There were tons of news and you may find the livestream on boxee. Lastsly, Boxee will always remain free of charge and iphone app will also stay free. Watching content on iphone via boxee app will not happen anytime soon because they want to concentrate on computer to pc first.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Load SQL Server Management Studio faster

Found this on twitter from @sql11. If you add "-nosplash" switch with no quotes to your SSMS shortcut in SQL 2005+, your SSMS will load faster by skipping splash screen. Tested with 2005 and 2008. Subscribe to @sql11 great tip!

Yet Another *Buntu distro Part II - Crunch Bang Linux

Continuing on our introduction to new Ubuntu-based distros. Here we got Crunch Bang Linux - get your heads out of the gutter, it's not pr0n concentrated distro :). It is based on Ubuntu and has Openbox Window Manager. Comes with widgets by default and concentrates on speed and usability. Contains Skype, Gwibber, Deluge Bittorrent Client, etc. It is fairly lightweight distro with Standard ISO being 688mb and Lite Edition 448mb. There's also CrunchEee Eee PC Edition for your favorite netbook. Get it here.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My iTunes Podcasts

I think it's time I share some of my podcast subscriptions with you. There are a few resources on this list that I can't live without on daily basis and there are some that are still on temporarily while I review them. So here we go in alphabetical order:

1. The Apple Byte - CNET reviews all things Apple (V)
2. Apple Quick Tips - short tips from Apple on OSX, iPhone, etc.
3. The Art of Code - If you want to learn web development.
4. Ask The Techies - great resource on Windows and mostly Apple. 5. Best of Youtube - once a week, most popular Youtube video.
6. The Bleeding Edge - still reviewing.
7. Buzz Report - CNET tech news.
8. CNBC's "On The Money" - Financial tips and news.
9. CNET Live - CNET editors trying to answer caller questions.
10. CNET TV: Quick Tips - tips on anything techie.
11. CommandN - short news on tech.
12. Cranky Geeks - John C. Dvorak and other pundits talk about tech.
13. The Digg Reel - best of Digg.com videos.
14. dl.tv - all things tech from Ziff Davis, good HDTV resource.
15. Editor's Office Hours - CNET Editors answer caller questions.
16. Epic Fu - show about ART, Music, Tech.
17. Fortune: The Best Advice I Ever Got - weekly advice from VIPs.
18. The Fresh Ubuntu Podcast - still reviewing.
19. Get-It-Done-Guy's Quick and Dirty Tips To Work Less and Do More.
20. Hak5 - a great resource on hacking and administration.
21. Harward Extension School's Computer Science - lectures.
22. Howcast Tech & Gadgets - Imagine Lifehacker doing videos.
23. Learn Spanish with Coffe Break Spanish.
24. Linux Journal - great short videos on Linux.
25. Loaded - CNET daily tech news.
26. MarketWatch Morning Stock Talk - latest news on stock performance.
27. Midnight DBA - SQL Server tips.
28. Money Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life.
29. OnMicrosoft - short interviews with Microsoft engineers.
30. OnOpenSource - short interviews with Open Source developers.
31. OnSecuriy - short interviews with security consultants.
32. Open Sources - audio podcast on Linux and Open Source.
33. Run Your Own Server - audio podcast on BSD and administration.
34. Scam School - tips to get free beer at a bar.
35. Small Business Bulletin - tips on running SMB.
36. SourceTrunk - audio podcast on Linux and Belgian Beer.
37. SQLServerPedia SQL Server Training - Quest's engineers on SQL.
38. Systm - Great resource on DIY.
39. Tekzilla - Great Windows and OSX tips.
40. TorrentFreak - news on Pirate Bay and P2P.
41. Ubuntu UK Podcast - great Ubuntu resource.
42. Wall Street Journal on Small Business.
43. Wall Street Journal What's News - stock news.
44. Wired's Gadget Lab Video Podcast - still reviewing.

And that's about it. Every week my list changes plus or minus two or three. Some that I am reviewing may or may not go away but you get the idea. Please subscribe in iTunes or Miro.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fences - an app similar to KDE 4 desktop folders


If you are familiar with the KDE 4 Desktop and would like to replicate some of the functionality on Windows, (besides installing KDE on Windows). Or If you just want to consolidate your messy desktop full of icons, I have a solution for you and it will cost you absolutely nothing! Install Fences from the creators of Stardock (Windows version of dock from Mac OSX or Avant Window Navigator for Linux). It allows you to drop all your icons into virtual folders on your desktop. Double click and folders disappear, double click again and they come back, magic... About time Windows, about time.

Enjoy

Yet Another *Buntu distro - nUbuntu, for security-minded users

This is getting ridiculous! There are so many derivatives of Ubuntu currently available and now there's another one. Well, it's been around since 2006 but I just found out about it from Ubuntu UK podcast. This version has security tools installed and missing some features that potentially can compromise your machine; like Open Office and Evolution. It is much leaner than a regular Ubuntu ISO and they even have funny naming scheme, Ubuntu - Intrepid Ibex is called Instigating Insecurity. That's pretty funny! Anyway, check it out at nUbuntu

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

#blogger  We got hit by Conflicker.c virus and have been feeling the effects for the past week. This virus spreads by e-mailing itself to everyone in the Outlook Address Book. My admin account was one of those and virus tried to send itself out using my account and while trying to authenticate, my admin account got locked out. Our server admins renamed all of the admin accounts and inserted a special character so that they would be invisible. The problem that affected my SQL Servers was that when you login with Remote Desktop to create SQL Jobs and Maintenance Tasks, SQL Server makes you the owner of the given task.  Obviously my admin account cannot be found anymore and job fails. A fix is pretty easy though, assign a sql login, i.e. SA or some other as the owner of SQL Jobs.    [image: Error.jpg]

We got hit by Conflicker.c virus and have been feeling the effects for the
past week. This virus spreads by e-mailing itself to everyone in the Outlook
Address Book. My admin account was one of those and virus tried to send
itself out using my account and while trying to authenticate, my admin
account got locked out. Our server admins renamed all of the admin accounts
and inserted a special character so that they would be invisible. The
problem that affected my SQL Servers was that when you login with Remote
Desktop to create SQL Jobs and Maintenance Tasks, SQL Server makes you the
owner of the given task. Obviously my admin account cannot be found anymore
and job fails. A fix is pretty easy though, assign a sql login, i.e. SA or
some other as the owner of SQL Jobs.



[image: Error.jpg]

SQL 2000 Cluster Network IP change

There is a known issue with SQL 2000 Cluster when you change IP address on the cluster. Some registry keys do not get applied with correct data. You must follow the instructions provided by Microsoft for SQL 2000 and secondly and very important.. YOU MUST USE THE SQL 2000 CD when you change IP. You cannot do it over network. This has caused many problems at our site, until yesterday when we successfully updated SQL 2000 cluster with new IPs. We got one small snag though. We got an error message:

2009-03-18 00:22:15.17 server SuperSocket Info: Bind failed on TCP port 1433.
2009-03-18 00:22:15.34 server SQL server listening on Shared Memory, Named Pipes.
2009-03-18 00:22:15.34 server SQL Server is ready for client connections


Microsoft has a work around for this but that's now what we did. Our server admin looked in the log for the cluster and found that a registry key was not updated with new IP. He copied the data from the hive and then we were good. Just to summarize, this error means SQL port is being used by another application. I ran nmap to see if it was actually used and no it wasn't. However, after the manual intervention, all was good. Here is a sample of what it should look like:

2009-03-18 01:37:19.87 server SQL server listening on 10.1.1.111: 1433.
2009-03-18 01:37:19.89 server SQL server listening on TCP, Shared Memory, Named Pipes.
2009-03-18 01:37:19.89 server SQL Server is ready for client connections


See the difference? It is not obvious unless you trying to use ODBC. SQL will still run but any application using ODBC will not be able to connect to database. You can all try to test this by logging in to Management studio with:

tcp:10.1.1.111,1433

if doesn't work, check in the log to see the message "listeningon TCP".

Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Most Frequently Used Apps at Home

There are apps that you most commonly use at home and at the office. This post will list my home apps:

1. iTunes - sync music and podcasts to my iPhone.
2. Yahoo Widgets - Wifi, weather, battery, cpu, clock widgets
3. Thunderbird Mail - I am more productive reading mail with Thunderbird than Gmail
4. Miro - iTunes cannot play everything, discover other podcasts Apple wouldn't show
5. VLC - a must have to view any video format under the sun. Never fails!
6. Notepad - duh
7. Command Prompt
8. Firefox - duh
9. CDBurnerXP - on Windows, K3B or Brasero on Ubuntu
10. Boxee and Plex - Media Center
11. Winpatrol - UAC and random settings for XP
12. Digsby - Best IM Client for Windows
13. Visual Task Tips - thumbnail review like Compiz and Vista/Windows7
14. iPhoneBrowser - just installed, browse iPhone internal directories
15. VirtualWin - toggle through multiple desktops on Windows - Spaces on Mac, Compiz
16. Update Checker - still beta but awesome tool to check application updates
17. Defraggler - a much better defragment tool for Windows
18. CCleaner - if you don't know this and run Windows.. you're in trouble
19. Ad-Aware - you're in trouble...
20. Avast - antivirus!
21. Skype
22. Picasa3
23. Twhirl - just installed for Twitter, needs Adobe Air.

You get the picture, there may be more but I can't think of them right now..

Great Sql Server Resource - SQLServerPedia and Midnight DBA

Two great resources to look for if you're a visual person rather than into reading books are SQLServerPedia from Quest Software and Midnight DBA. I found them through iTunes podcasts. You can also download these podcasts or stream. I highly recommend these resources if you want to get started or strengthen your portfolio with SQL Server.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

boot your Dual+ Core Windows machine faster as seen on Tekzilla

boot your Windows machine with more than one CPU faster by doing the following:

1. start/run/msconfig
2. select Boot.ini tab
3. select Advanced Options
4. select /NUMPROC and in the newly opened window select how many cores you want to help booting your box.

Definitely boots faster on my machine. Cannot provide performance boost but noticed it's faster. I don't know the consequences of the change, so definitely Google it.

Thanks.

VisualTaskTips as seen on Tekzilla

Visual Task Tips tool brings a small feature from Vista to XP. If you hover over a minimized window on your taskbar, it will show you a small thumbnail picture of the window. Great productivity booster and free!

Get it

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spiceworks - monitoring and inventory

I was testing Spiceworks to find a nice alternative to a long overdue monitoring app for my SQL servers. It is still not sufficient for my application, however 5 minute demo to our IT director turned this into a tool our department cannot work without. The techs really embraced the tool because it allows for scenarios other tools cannot provide for. At least we havent come across anything this simple and cheap. Reporting against the inventory allows for any type of info, type of RAM, installed apps, virus info, etc. The app is free with ads, paid support and ad-free option also available. Highly recommend this tool for home and small shops, otherwise it can be pretty slow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Miro: an intuitive application for your home media center

I personally use Boxee on my Mac Mini but I am always open to new things. Watching CNET Live yesterday, I heard Tom Merrit talk about Miro 2. I was curious to see what this application does and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it's a podcast aggregation/media center for your computer. It works just like Boxee sans the social networking aspect. It lacks the GUI aesthetics of Boxee but it gains in functionality. First, it has a Windows client already. Second, you don't need to sign up for private alpha to run this software. Subscribing is as easy as clicking the subscribe button. Quality is amazing and it's a wonderful feeling that this amazing app is open source. I'm surprised I've never heard of it. I haven't played with it to give you a much better overview of it but I highly recommend this to anyone who didn't sign up for Boxee yet. You may search Youtube and Hulu videos straight from the interface that resembles iTunes but it runs so much more efficient I must say. It is blindingly fast. When searching Youtube, Miro will grab the HD version of a video, if available. The best way to find out what else it has is to try it. Big thumbs up!

Miro

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Discover your hidden SQL Servers with SQLPing

I use SQLPing to do discovery of any hidden SQL Servers on the network. It is a great tool that's easy to use and is absolutely free. I usually run this tool to get an idea of version level for each SQL Server. The tool gives information on blank SA password, version level, instance name, name of service accounts. Pretty much anything you'd like to know about a server at hand. I find myself using this tool a lot in order to revise my best practices for SQL Server Installations. It is also good to devise SLAs between IT Department and your distributed business departments. More on this later. I highly recommend this tool to anyone with at least some curiosity for SQL.

until next time...

First Steps to take when SQL Hotfixes and Service Packs fail...

I do a lot of hot fixes and service packs installations in my environment and needless to say that some do not go well. Usually failures occur on clustered servers. A good rule of thumb is to check whether previous service packs are installed correctly. This rule applies mostly to clustered servers but sometimes it works with single machines as well. On clusters, I would pull up Add or Remove Software panel on both nodes and go through every application installed on both machines. Usually inconsistencies in .Net framework version, SP, hot fix will solve your pains and sorrows. These usually are services failing to start or failed installations of hot fixes. Be sure to check the box for view hot fixes and updates in the Add or Remove Software dialog box and compare any updates as well as general releases. On single machines, view logs for previous installations that can be found in the boot strap folder of MSSQL directory for SQL 2005 and 2008 at least. Review and rerun previous service packs to apply to any components that haven't been updated. This happens a lot on clustered nodes when cluster-unaware services like SSIS, Reporting Services and Workstation Components are installed. Administrators fail to realize that these components only get installed on primary nodes and DO NOT GET INSTALLED on the passive nodes. A user must install SSIS, Workstation Components, etc. separately on the passive node. Then SP must be applied to the passive node separately AGAIN! This will ensure that same software version levels are maintained throughout the installation. It is a good idea to go back to Add or Remove Software panel and compare again after installation. After all that is done rerun your new update and most likely it will install correctly.

until next time...

New Ubuntu User!

My friend's Windows laptop crashed and he doesn't have a recovery disk. What do I do? Install Ubuntu of course. He needs nothing but Firefox so he's good to go. Let's see if he continues to use it.