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.


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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.