I now feel like “cloud” (/i.e. somebody else’s computer/infrastructure) has matured considerably with many companies making the transition to move core infrastructure to a cloud based operational model, particularly if the main product of the company is a web application which would previously have been hosted on traditional infrastructure.

This traditional infrastructure (usually some from of virtualisation (VMware for me), storage and networking) has been my bread and butter core skillset for many years. I have translated many business requirements into technical requirements, and then installed and configured them. Its what I know best and have served me well for many years, but particularly in the last 12 months there is a very clear decline in demand, and a very sharp rise in revenue spend with cloud based technologies.

Obviously not all infrastructure will fit into the cloud as it stands now, and maybe some never will, but there is a clear pattern here which cannot be ignored, and as ever in IT it is important to keep up with trends.

So now I am open to the cloud adoption it will become easier and more efficient to begin learning. So, where to start and why? I chose to master the AWS offerings – not all of them, I don’t think anyone has done that, but at least the core offerings – compute, storage, networking, automation.

Why AWS? The are the clear market leaders and have held this position for many years and although Microsoft is the nearest contender with Google trailing, they are a long way behind. Sure they may start to eat into AWS market share in a few years, but I don’t think they will make a serious dent. Now the model is well proven, it is time to start learning!

So where to start?

I have decided to take the exam AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate which gives a good overview of the core service offerings and how they interoperate with each other, as well as benefitting from obtaining an industry certification.

For study aid I am watching the well recommended video by A Cloud Guru which is ideal for beginners to AWS right from the start and of course lots of hands on in the form of AWS labs.

I needed to use iLO to remotely administer an HP DL360 G5, but the combination of modern Java and Windows 10 equaled no joy. A quick update from the top of my head:

  • Update iLO to 2.25 via SSH (my browser(s) wouldnt upload the entire file.  Instructions here, download iLO2 2.25 here.  Be patient, this takes ~10 minutes
  • Set Java security.  Add site to exception site list under Security tab (I added the URLs in the format https://x.x.x.x/*, https://x.x.x.x:443/*)
  • Under Advanced tab of Java disable “Use TLS 1.2” and “Use TLS 1.1”
  • Under Advanced tab Check TLS Certificate Revocation Checks – Do not check (unsure if needed)
  • Use Internet Explorer (IE 11 in Windows 10 worked)
  • Login to iLO, Remote Console tab, Remote Console (Access the system KVM from a Java applet)
  • The first time the pop up loads it errors with unable to load class something something something.  Close this window
  • Back in the main iLO window click back to System Status tab, then back to Remote Console tab and try again – Bingo!

It has been possible to use Vodafone wireleless on the London underground for some time and according to Vodafone’s info page your phone should connect automatically.  Mine didn’t and neither do many peoples on Vodafone’s support forum.

I hadn’t had the need to use WiFi on the underground as I only traveled very sporadically for work into London, but now I’m doing it daily I thought it would be useful. Well it would have been had it just connected automatically – it didn’t.  Vodafone’s suggestion for if it doesn’t automatically connect is to use the “Virgin Media” WiFi, which although it works it takes you to a captive portal page and requires you to sign in with your Vodafone user name and password.  That’s a bit rubbish as when passing on the tube you ate only stationary for about 20 seconds.
More »

I recently had a to take my MCSE renewal exam (70-980) and thought I’d give the Pearson Vue online proctored exam version a try rather than driving an hour each way to my nearest choice of low rate testing centres (think cheap nasty low cost slow white box computers, sometimes cramped cubicles, parking issues, date/time availability issues – yes I’ve had bad experiences of all of the above!). As an IT consultant time is nearly always in short supply and very limited testing centres offer testing on a Saturday. My reasons were numerous for trying the online delivery of the test:

  • Can book on the day for a start time up to 9PM
  • No travel time and cost
  • Luxury of taking it in my home study, set to a comfortable temperature and no other disruptions
  • Decent powered desktop computer
  • More »

    Using a self signed cert, if the CRL (Certificate revocation location) is not available the client cannot connect. This can be easily fixed with a registry key to disable checking of the certificate on the client:

    The fix – on the client, create a new registry key (DWORD) with value of 1:

    HKLM > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Services > SstpSvc > Parameters >

    Name: NoCertRevocationCheck
    Type: DWORD(32 Bit)
    Value: 1

    Error 0x80092013: The revocation function was unable to check revocation because the revocation server was offline

    I Had some over the weekend – the offside front piston had started sticking in the week so I replaced the seals and cleaned the surface corrosion off the piston.  I had just finished bleeding the brakes when I stamped on the pedal to test for firmness and the rear line split near the ‘U’ bends before the steel pipe joins the flexible pipe.  Luckily it happened on the drive and not down a hill.  Thinking back I remember an advisory on the last MOT but it looks like they’ve corroded much quicker than expected.  So – if your E46 rear brake lines are corroded I have put together a quick guide.  I checked the opposite side and sure enough it was also starting to go – so if one side has gone, the other won’t be far off – replace both.

    Options for replacement:

    1. The lines can be replaced by new ones from BMW.  Both join under the drivers footwell somewhere.
    2. Make your own lines from copper / copper nickel and join onto the original steel pipes with unions.

    I went for option 2 – mainly because I could get all the parts and BMW didn’t have stock on the day I needed them.  I’m not sure what other floor panels need to be removed to gain access to the unions as I put my joins just before the pipes turn up to go above the fuel tank. More »

    I had to analyse a minidump file after a blues screen crash and using Windbg it kept complaining that the Windbg symbols were missing.  I read a few guides, but none contained the exact commands to run.  I didn’t want to download all the symbols – just use Microsoft’s proxy to pull down the relevant ones seemed like the best idea:

    !symfix
    !sym noisy
    .reload
    !analyze -v
    
    

    The full error was: Either you specified an unqualified symbol, or your debugger *** *** doesn’t have full symbol information

    Teamviewer screen cannot be captured

    I have used Teamviewer on a personal basis to connect to my Windows desktop and server at home for a long time with great success.  However over the last few months I have had more and more issues when connecting to my Windows server.  I keep get met with the error “The screen cannot be captured at the moment.  This is probably due to fast user switching or a disconnected/minimized Remote Desktop session”.  Now I do use RDP to the server from my desktop, and due to some applications that require the server be logged in I always leave the session disconnected instead of logging of.  This has never caused a problem until recently – I am always met with this damn error every time I try and open a Teamviewer connection to it.  I searched the web and found many forum threads about this with the only recommendations being to install it as a service (it is), disable fast user switching in GPO (but this is only visibility the option on logoff, not the feature), both to no avail. More »

    This caught me out on a new install (yes it is probably in the documentation but I couldn’t find it) – in order to enable SSH2.0 on the MSR routers you have to register the unit under an HP Passport to activate the licence file to enable higher encryption.  Standard only allows 56-bit encryption so you would have to use SSHv1.  The process is easy:

    Upload the activation key file to the storage media of the device through FTP or TFTP

    tftp x.x.x.x get filename.ak

    • Use the license activation-file install command in the user view to install the activation file: [HP]

    license activation-file install flash:/CN33FTY00B2013073016084479426.ak

    • Verify that the license is in use
    • Execute the display license command in the user view and check the Current State field; if the state is “In use,” the
    license is activated successfully and is being used:

    display license flash:/license/CN33FTY00B2013073016084479426.ak
    
    – Feature: StrongCryptography
    – Product description: HP MSR High Encryption E-LTU
    – Registered at: 2013-07-30 16:11:02
    – License type: Permanent
    – Current state: In use

    HP PDF: http://www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/GetPDF.aspx%2F4AA4-8338ENW.pdf

    I wanted to run Exchange 2013 as my MTA at home on my HP Microserver (N54L).  I am running it as a Server 2012R2 VM in Hyper-V under Server 2012 – I was lazy and didn’t want to rebuild the host operating system at this time.  The N54L only has 10GB RAM (1 x 8GB, 1 x 2GB) which will get upgraded shortly to 16GB and Exchange 2013 is running on the VM which is also hosting Directory Services on a dedicated SATA HDD.  I wanted to check performance and suitability before buying an SSD especially for this purpose and I managed to get it working quite well with ~6.5GB RAM assigned to the VM – perfectly usable with CPU averaging ~40-50% and RAM averaging ~90% in the VM.

    I noticed disk activity was quite high (nothing unusual for an all in one Exchange box), but I wanted to see how I could optimise it further so I have made the following changes so far:

    Disable Performance/Diagnostic Logging

    Log files in C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V15\Logging\Diagnostics\DailyPerformanceLogs are averaging 500MB-1GB per day.  This is obscene for a home box so I disabled the following Scheduled Tasks:

    Windows / PLA / ExchangeDiagnosticsDailyPerformanceLog

    Windows / PLA / ExchangeDiagnosticsPerformanceLog