Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

3/14/2014

T-Shirts

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

People who know me, know that I love my goofy t-shirts.

You know, it’s been a long couple of months and I’m pretty drained creatively, in part due to being super busy at my day job, so I’ve kind of given up sharing anything but purely fun links on Fridays for the next couple of weeks. Deal with it.

This week, it’s t-shirt sites.
Yes, I wear a lot of strange and interesting t-shirts from a lot of places.  I don’t remember why…
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3/11/2014

Systemometer

Filed under: Geek Work,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

A screensaver that monitors your server.Systemometer

This may not seem like much of a “tool”, since it’s pretty passive, but when you have a server that’s getting old and failing, being able to quickly glance at what its performance is like can be a real benefit.  And, for the past eight months, I’ve been running a server that, to be honest, was a little too old to be in production.  People would complain about it pretty much constantly, even, I suspect, when it may not have been the actual problem they were suffering from.  I’ve since replaced the server, but I kept running Systemometer on both the old server, which now serves as strictly a backup server, and the new, shiny, Windows 2012 server, just so everyone can see the difference.

But, let me be really specific about this; Systemometer is a configurable monitoring tool that shows system performance and resources in a spider chart. Seeing the varying shapes of displayed polygon, representing a visual pattern drawn based on normal, or critical, system states. Once you get used to it, this snapshot view helps to read the overall system status at a glance. Just looking at the screenshot in this post, which will enlarge if you click on it, you can see that a lot of information is displayed.  Notice, for instance, that there are 12 “CPU”s listed.  Since this is a modern, multi-core server, those are really just all the cores being displayed, with the current processor time in yellow and the average processor time in green.  If I wanted to, I can also set Systemometer to display the maximal processor usage, but as this is a new server, I haven’t bothered to set that.  The same goes for the number of processes the server is handling, as well as the number of threads.  Also displayed is the physical and virtual memory usage, total drive space used and the hard drive seek time.  Notice how almost everything falls well within that red circle on the display?  That’s because the server is new and being used well below it’s capacity, by design.  This is the second server upgrade I’ve done since I’ve been at this company, and I’d like to not have to do one again soon.  That’s also why the number of threads is reading like it’s in the red, even though it’s not.  The new server is so new that not all metrics have been calibrated to display correctly.
Also, notice that the two performance polygons are yellow and green.  The yellow is the current usage while the green is the average usage.  It may be hard to tell the difference between the two because I took this screen shot on a Sunday afternoon with minimal usage.  Of course, the server being primarily a file server and an Active Directory server, the average usage is pretty constant in any case.

It may not be obvious from the screen shot, but I’m running this as a screen saver, which is only one option for using Systemometer.  It can also be used as a kind of replacement performance monitor instead of using the built-in Task Manager for that function.  Actually, one way I validated the results I was seeing from Systemometer was to run it next to Task Manager and compare the displayed performance information.
Personally, I like running it as a screen saver because I can quickly check on my server as I walk past the screen into or out of my office.  Also, it seems to impress people who see it and can’t make heads or tails of what they’re seeing.  It’s not big, fancy monitoring system, but unless you really know what you’re looking at, the average person isn’t going to figure that out!

Finally, the other reason I use Systemometer is that it’s free!
Yep, that’s right, absolutely free.  Of course, it may not ever get updated again, but I’m okay with that, as long as it still works as it has been so far.

3/7/2014

Free Movies

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:33 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Some are better than others, but at least they’re free.

So, yeah, I’m pretty tapped out when it comes to creativity or creative content this week.  It’s kind of been a busy, challenging week in a lot of ways and I just am drained of whatever little bit of creativity I may have this week.  I mean, I’m just out.  But, I post something every Friday, so I’m trying to maintain that little bit of consistency at least.
At least my frustration…
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3/4/2014

Ultraedit

Filed under: Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,PERL — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:01 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Real programmers code in text editors.

And, for what it’s worth, so do I!     RyuMaou - Prel Monk
Look, I’m the first to tell you that I’m not a programmer.  Honestly, I think it would kill me to sit in front of a monitor all the time and do nothing but bang out code, then re-read that code for errors and spend endless hours debugging it.  Still, I have done a bit of Perl programming.  And, I am, as of this writing, a Level 11 PerlMonk, which is something that makes me proud.  I’ve also done some pretty heavy customization of my blogs and, on the rare occasion that I muck around in the HTML and CSS, I do it in a text editor.  Actually, to be specific, I do it in UltraEdit.

UltraeditScreenCapI’ve used a couple of versions of UltraEdit, but the screen-shot a the right is from version 20.00.0.1056 which is the most current version at the time of this post.  As you can see, it’s easy to have multiple files open and to transfer back and forth between them by simply clicking on the tabs with their names at the top.  Also, the built-in file explorer makes it easy to find and open your target file.  Again, referencing the screen-shot, you can see that UltraEdit has built-in code highlighting, which can be turned off if it becomes distracting.  Frankly, that was one of the features I first came to love about this program, along with the spell check.  But, what really sold me was the “search and replace” function, which lets me easily replace line breaks with tabs or other characters.  That may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re dealing with a lot of raw text which needs to be manipulated in particular ways for input to other programs, or to fix output from some programs, that feature becomes invaluable.  Along with that is “Column Mode”, which will let you treat large sections of text more like columns in a spreadsheet than just raw text.  Believe me, that alone has saved me an enormous amount of time when I have to reformat text taken from a web page that has no export function!  Add to that the super simple sorting functions that include the ability to remove duplicates in a huge list and the really flexible macro system and you have a system administrators new best friend!

Of course, as I mentioned already, I also use UltraEdit to work with all the code I have to manipulate.
My “day job” doesn’t require that I code anything, thankfully, but for my own interests, I often find that I’m creating or editing a lot of different kinds of code.  I play with everything from Perl to PHP to HTML to CSS (which is what’s in that screen-shot above).  The fact that UltraEdit automatically adjusts the code highlighting as I switch between the different files by default has been super convenient and, at times, really helpful.  Most of the time, I’m updating or fixing someone else’s code for my own purposes and trying to remember where the closing tag in an HTML or PHP document that I didn’t create is can be daunting.  Code highlighting has really helped that.
That’s also where the built-in macro functions have been a big help.  I can record one, small action and repeat it as many times as I need to throughout a file with just a few keystrokes.  That can come in really handy when duplicating lists of variables, for instance, or converting a list of text elements into an array.  I can just insert the code which defines the element as part of the array in front of each bit of text in a matter of seconds.  Again, a huge time-saver.

Currently, this very useful utility is $80 for a new license or $40 for an upgrade, which is what I got.  I think an old employer actually paid for the original copy that I upgraded.  Either way, though, the price was worth it to me!  If Perl is the duct tape of the internet, then this is my utility knife!

2/28/2014

Finding New Things To Photograph

Filed under: Art,Fun,Personal,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:28 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I write a lot about photography here, which is a little like dancing about architecture.

I’ve kind of lost my way with photography subjects.
I’m too busy to do some of the things I used to do, like wander the streets aimlessly during festivals and just go hang out in Galveston on a cloudy day.  I still go to the Houston Zoo, but not as often as I used to.  Besides, let’s face it, after three years of going every month, even…
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2/27/2014

SadEyedCat

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is mid-afternoon or 4:24 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent



SadEyedCat

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

test

SadEyedCat

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is mid-afternoon or 4:24 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent



SadEyedCat

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

test

2/25/2014

Nook HD+

Filed under: Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:49 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I love my Nook!Barnes and Noble Nook HD+

I love books and I love reading, but I never thought I’d like any of the ereaders.  There were just too many potential problems with it.  For one thing, I didn’t want to get locked into one particular ebook system or store.  But, I still wanted it to be easy to use and adaptable to my needs.  For years, I was pretty much out of luck.  Then, I read an article about rooting the Nook Color so that you could load Android apps on it like a tablet, while still being able to use it like a regular Nook.  Finally!  So, naturally, I did that and loaded up the Kindle app and, just like that, I was around my biggest concern.  Okay, there was also the fact that it was less than half as much as an iPad, too, because, sure, I could have loaded the Nook app and the Kindle app on the iPad and been okay that way, too.  But, that’s not how a geek like me rolls, yo.

And, all was well, until I got that Pogoplug about a year ago.
I wanted to move all my files, including all my PDF documents to my Pogoplug, but the rooted Nook couldn’t download the most up-to-date version of the Pogoplug app, which meant I had the devil’s own time opening PDFs on it.  Argh!
Then, I heard that Barnes and Noble had added the ability to download apps from the Google Play store on their Nook HD series readers!  Wow!  I couldn’t believe how lucky I was!  Suddenly, without even rooting, I could upgrade my device and get all the things I really wanted on a cheap tablet!  Blammo!  Even better, though, when I went in to get the Nook HD, the smaller of the two modern Nooks, I found out they were all on sale!  So, with very little prompting from my fiance, I gave myself an instant upgrade and got the larger, more powerful Nook HD+.  In fact, I got the 32G version, for the extra storage, because, well, one never knows.

Now, I’m addicted!
And, sadly, the Nook will probably be going away some time this year.  Or, at least, if the pundits are all to be believed.  We’ll see, I suppose.  In the mean time, I’ll keep using my Nook HD+ and upload the books to Google Play, which you can now do, thankfully.  At least, up to 1,000 or so, which should be enough for me.
(But, I’ll be honest, I’m hoping Barnes and Noble doesn’t kill the Nook line of products, because I really do love mine.)

2/23/2014

Flawless Victory!

Filed under: Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft,Pressgram — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:37 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Okay, so maybe not “flawless”, but victory nonetheless.
What this is, is a screen shot of me remotely accessing my new, upgraded server, after about 11 hours of work, with a break for dinner.  I migrated the complete Active Directory server, as well as the DNS and DHCP servers.  (Which for you non-geeks means I moved all the network services that let people get to both this server and the internet.)  Trickier still was getting the print services moved to the new server.  For some very strange reason, in my opinion, the import of the exported print configuration wouldn’t work unless I had the Windows Firewall turned on for the new Windows 2012 server.  That’s just crazy to me.  Why does print services care that the firewall is turned off?  It should be able to ignore that and just go!  Damn Microsoft….  (Grumble, grumble.)

In any case, after 10+ hours of work, the upshot is that most people won’t even realize that the server was upgraded on Monday.  (At least, I hope that’s the case.)  I may still have a few issues with printing on Monday morning with some people, but, I hope, those will be few and minor.  We’ll see, I guess.  But, everything else went about as well as I could hope for.
No, it wasn’t quite “flawless”, but I was able to work it all out, so that’s good enough.
Besides, what I really get paid for, in my opinion, is not the fact that I make few mistakes, but that I make virtually no catastrophic mistakes and I can work out pretty much all of the mistakes, catastrophic or not, that I do make.
In shot, I’m very good at what I do for a living.  As a character from an old Western, “The Guns of Will Sonnet”, used to say, “That’s not brag, just fact.”

So, now, it’s off to church to give thanks for not completely fucking this up!

Published via Pressgram

2/21/2014

Weekend Plans

Filed under: Geek Work,MicroSoft,Pressgram,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is mid-afternoon or 4:23 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Guess who’s spending the weekend upgrading the company’s main server?

Finally after dealing with an aging server for too long, we’re upgrading.  And, not a minute too soon, either.  I have the joy of migrating Active Directory from a Windows 2003 server to a Windows 2012 server.  Not to mention, I get to migrate printing services, an iSCSI array connection, DNS and DHCP.  Wee!  What fun!

Well, I suppose that’s why I get the “big bucks”, right?  A system administrator’s work is never done!

Published via Pressgram

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