Ramblings From The Litter Tray of Life

Archive for the ‘Real Life’ Category

McAfee woes

Posted by graycat on 18 June 2010

Like a lot of people out there we use McAfee and ePolicy for our corporate anti-virus, anti-malware etc. Most of the time this is a bit of a “set and forget” application but sometimes it throws you a curve ball.

Like this morning for instance.

I was just in the middle of a hurried (and harried!) discussion regarding an Exchange upgrade we’re having to undertake earlier then planned (more on that some other time) when the first signs of a problem dribbled in. Well by dribbled in I mean that my IM went off with messages from multiple sites and my phone burst into life. You know, the usual kind of thing.

The initial problem was that people couldn’t access shared drives which then progressed to not being able to access local drives including My Documents. After a bit of research it turns out that McAfee was blocking explorer.exe as a spoofed process!

Needless to say this went straight into the “Not Cool” category and we started working on it. As suspected, we hadn’t made any changes overnight to our ePolicy setup or rules but the issue was definitely being enforced by something. Further investigation turned up that the rules on the clients weren’t the same as those on the server. A bit of double checking and tick/unticking of settings and the rules were back where they should be and ready to roll.

After a brief period where the rules replicated to all repositories and yet more PCs were reported as affected, we were ready to beat it all back into shape. A short reboot later and most affected machines were back on the straight and narrow.

Those that didn’t want to play were quickly logged on to by an admin and the McAfee apps launch via cmd. It was interesting to find out that mcconsole.exe is the McAfee Console and you can force updates from the cli using mcupdate.exe – yes, things are actually named logically it seems!

Anyway after that was solved it’s back to my main stress of the moment – how to upgrade a multi-site, multi-version Exchange infrastructure with as little headaches as possible. Looks our for more posts on this in the coming weeks!

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WSUS 3.0 SP2 Problems

Posted by graycat on 11 June 2010

Like any responisble admin, I like to keep my machines up to date and patched as far as I can. Unlike some though I don’t like running right on the bleeding edge of the latest versions as I prize stability over new functions. A stable environment = more productive users = more money to the company to pay for my caffeine habit!

For our Windows machines this revolves around the free Microsoft offering of WSUS. In fact multiple WSUS installations in my case as we’re spread across many sites and not all have great internet links. To cover this I have one WSUS server installed in the head office which acts as the “master” and all the others act as “downstream” servers pulling the updates and rules from the master. This works really well and is almost set-and-forget reliable.

Well, until an update to WSUS itself sneaks though that is!

A few weeks ago whilst I was on annual leave our master WSUS server picked up and update to SP2. Unfortunately whilst it tried to install it, it failed miserably. Part of the automated tidy up after this failed upgrade was to remove WSUS. In its entirety!

Fortunately this was spotted pretty shortly after and WSUS SP1 was reinstalled however whilst the updates and DB remained it had lost all rules and groups.

After reviewing the damage and the release notes, I decided to rip it out and install the SP2 version from fresh as this seems to be the only reliable way of upgrading. I have heard that you can use the Installation CleanUp utility to remove the aborted WSUS upgrades and then just install SP2 over the top but decided to go with the full method instead.

Oh and as a backup to manual checks I’m implementing some more detailed checks from nagios for these servers just to be on the safe side!

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Progression of storage

Posted by graycat on 30 May 2010

Now I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this previously but I run a MacBook as my personal machine. This is one of the last black ones and originally came with 160Gb hard drive I think. However I soon upgraded this to a 500Gb one.

Yep, that’s a whopping half a terabyte.

That’s bigger than a lot of servers a few years ago! In a laptop!

So this huge amount of storage should last me forever or damn close, right? Ummm not really it turns out. After a quick trip to the local computer store I’m now a proud owner of my second WD external hard drive and this one is a huge 1Tb. Ok, I know that’s not really huge when you look at the 1.5Tb and even 2Tb single drives that are on the market at present but it did get me thinking.

I now have sat on my desk the following: a 1Tb WD Essentials, a 500Gb WD MyBook, a 250Gb WD Passport and a 500Gb WD internal drive. That makes for a 2.25Tb of storage …… and that’s not counting fun things like iPhones or USB and SD sticks.

To put it into perspective the first server I purchased when I started in IT was only 120Gb or so and that was using a six drive bay chassis. Of course the latest and greatest servers have many terabytes of storage without even getting into the SAN arena.

If you had told me five or ten years ago that I’d have over two thousand gigabytes of storage on my desk at home I would have been very interested in what you had been drinking!

It really makes me wonder what we’re going to have on our desks in five or ten years ……. and what we’re going to be storing on it!!

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Current Projects

Posted by graycat on 29 April 2009

Wow, it’s certainly been a while since I posted! I’m sorry but I’m going to have to roll out the usual “I’ve been really busy” excuse and follow it up with some more imaginative ones at a later date!

Anyway, I thought I’d take a few minutes and just post up my current fun projects and see how we get on with them from there.

OpenSource FTP server – with the money being tight of late, I’ve decided to replace an aging server with one we’re currently using as our FTP server. For those people that can count, you will have realised this leaves me a server short. Well done and have a cookie. As we’re not using a hell of a lot of space on the FTP site (I think it max’d at 20Gb once) I’ve decided to use an old desktop, slap Linux on it and run with that.

Server Monitoring – We’ve installed a CentOS box with Nagios on to cover primarily our servers but also whatever else we can get working!

DR Testing – an interesting question arose regarding restoring public folders on / from an Exchange 2000 Enterprise installation that needs to be tested.

VMWare Expansion – the more and more we use it, the more and more drive space we need. Time to expand the array, Captain!

OWA Customisation – just tarting up the logon page to our Exchange servers somewhat and adding some corporate branding. Basically make it look pretty.

Various new software packages need updating and creating so watch out for the latest trials and tribulations with those!

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Ooooo, look at that!

Posted by graycat on 5 December 2008

Yep, that’d be a tumbleweed crossing my blog.

Sorry for the lack of post type action over the last few months to say things are hectic would be a complete misuse of the word! Anyway, as a good friend of mine warned an age ago I am indeed finding I’ve got a good number of drafts ready to rock so hopefully I’ll be trickling them out into the wild shortly.

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I couldn’t have put it any better myself

Posted by graycat on 2 September 2008

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Attack of the Kamakaze Pheasants!

Posted by graycat on 12 May 2008

T’other day I was heading up north on the motorbike just generally enjoying the lovely day and freedom (plus speed of course) that comes from riding a sports bike or indeed any type of motorbike on the public roads. The trip is going well but boring as it is mostly motorways for a good 80% of the 100 mile plus trip and the roads were reasonably clogged with traffic. At least it was all moving, huh?

Anyway, I was riding lazily using the full range of power and revs on the bike as I rolled onto the final motorway session. Another car was entering the motorway was the same time so to make a bit of space I rolled full throttle to move round a car already on the motorway ….. and a thought occurred to me: the motorway is five lanes wide and empty not to mention it is a beautiful day …. so it would be rude not to. So I slid my arse back, hunkered down behind the screen and opened the throttle to the max!!

Oh my god!!! I was expecting fast but Jesus H Christ not that fast! On the flat it was doing over twice the national speed but with a long run ending in a slight decline, the rev counter climbed up and up and up and up and up into the red!! Splitting my attention between the rev counter and the road (with the very occasional glance at the speedo) I bottled out just before the needle hit the rev counter. As the power came off, the speed dropped and the bike settled back my heart rate and indeed whole being seemed to slow down from Star Wars style hyper-speed to mere normal speeds. After that blast to the pinnacle of speed the national speed limit seemed like doing 30 and it was a struggle to keep back down to those speeds. Fortunately five minutes of gentle cruising calmed all my systems down to mortal levels and the rest of the motorway section was completely uneventful.

This wasn’t to last all that long though.

I soon peeled off onto minor a-roads and then onto empty b-roads. These roads I’d driven many times to knew well in a car sense but not in a bike sense so I had a good working knowledge of the route. Using my usual default setting of “even if you know the roads, give it 20% and only ride to what you can see” to keep me in the condition I’ve become accustomed to (ie: alive). So blipping along the empty vaguley twisty bits I it the final straight not even a mile from my destination. A smooth roll on of the throttle out of the bend and I was soon sitting at 90 mph enjoying the wind down from a long but fun ride.

All of a sudden this ninja pheasant rises out of the long grass and like a heat seeking missile wearing a rising sun bandana, a death my care glint in its eye and a death cry on its lips …. it dove at me with intent!

A moment of shock and WTH flitted across my mind as all I had time for other than to duck my head out of the way and …… BAMM!!! Impact. Like being hit with a bag of wet sand. Well wet sand that smells like hell and exploded everywhere!!

There was feathers, there was dust, there was bird crap, there was blood and there was guts. Everywhere. No, seriously I’m talk everywhere! All over my arm and shoulder where it hit. All over my upper leg. All over the whole of the fuel tank. All over me and the bike in general! I found out later I’d even managed to get it on my back under my backpack. How? I just don’t know!

After the exploding bird was a few moments of interesting riding getting the bike under control and doing a quick fit check of all systems. All was good except for the blood and gore that was prevailent all over me …. and my left arm which for some reason had gone all numb with pain and I could no longer feel my fingers. After a moment’s hesitation, I decided to plug on through the last mile to where I was going but had to ride most of it with only one hand on the bars. This made some of the tight turns and slow work tricky round the village where I was forced to use my left arm and literally guess what was going on with my hand and trust it was all still working even if I couldn’t feel it.

I made it to where I was going and stopped.

Peace.

Silence.

Pain.

Receding shock.

What the hell is that smell and where’s the rest of my screen gone??

Anyway, after dismounting and getting the folks I was meeting round it was time for a quick assessment. Other than there being blood, guts n gore all over the place which a quick attack with soapy water and a sponge sorted, the only damage was numb / tingly fingers for a good few hours and a huge chunk missing out of my screen.

I’d consider myself lucky especially as there has been a report of one biker taking a bird to the face, breaking nose and cheek bones before stuffing the bike in a ditch due to pain and sudden blindness brought on by high velocity poultry to the face. Not to mention the one that was reported dead at the scene after head-butting another low flying bird. Personally, I think luck, good kit, darn good reactions all played a part.

End result?

Ninja Pheasant Army 0 – Me 1

Note: drove back along that road on the way out that night and there was not a lot left of the bird. That’s the last time it messes with a biker!! 😉

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I woke up laughing at 0641

Posted by graycat on 28 April 2008

I’ve woken up quickly, I’ve woken up slowly, I’ve woken up screaming but this must be the first time I’ve woken up laughing ….. and it was all due to a dream! It’s starting to fade now but I’ll do my best to replay it for you

*tacky dream scene fade in*

…… I’ve just finished a 3-on-1 boxing match as some form of punishment (I know but it’s a dream, OK?) and have been sent back to my corner whilst the losers sort out what’s going on.

As I’m stood on my platform it raises up and away from the ring toweling my sweaty forehead and looking around this huge room full of people in their own areas or booths carrying out various business opportunities. Across the hall I spot Kelly Brook looking bored stiff at all the suitors trying to win her attention. Now as I’m just taking of my shirt (it’s a very nice dress and pressed cotton one if you’re interested) and I’m getting it kinda stuck on my sweaty shoulders when across the hall I see Kelly watching me, aping my actions and making fun of me.

Well, not to be out done I stare blankly at her and peel said shirt off my sweat dripping body then looking her blankly in the eye I proceed to break out what can only be described as “my sexy dance”! I mean hips are a wiggling, arms are a going and fingers are clicking in the most ridiculous fashion ….. kinda like normal really. All the time not an expression has passed my face.

All we going well …. until I got too close to the edge of my platform and slipped off! Being the athletic god that I am, I quickly twisted round and made it look like I’d intentionly slipped to the lower platform. With my back now to her I shake my money maker like a good un and jump down in amongst my staff with a big smile on my face.

“What’s up with you?” my head of staff asks

Hardly able to contain my own giggling I authoritorly reply “I’ve just busted out my sexy dance at Kelly Brook!” and deteriorate into fits of manly giggles! My head of staff looks on bemused.

Once I’d composed my self I walked out onto the shop floor and cast my gaze in her direction only to observer her herself struggling to recover from a serious fit of laughing. I now faced my appreciative audience, stood proudly upright with my arms out to the side, crossed one in front and took a deep bow … all to the silent applause of the gorgeous lady.

“Thank you”, I mimed “Out of ten?” I pantomimed

“Seven” was the gesture I got back

“Seven??! That it??” I replied in mock disgust

“OK, seven and a half” she gave in to before gesturing something I couldn’t follow.

“What?” I shrugged

Routing around she picked up some marketing material that had been left by a suitor and showed it to me. A big red envolope with “Woops!” written in strong black letters. She gestured at me, then it and then falling.

“Busted!” I smiled back and bowed again …..

*Fade back to waking*

“I busted out my sexy dance at Kelly Brook!” I smiled to myself.

Checked the clock and it was 0642.

Time to go back to sleep.

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A whole new world

Posted by graycat on 28 April 2008

Ahhh, the smell of real life. That’s coffee to everyone who isn’t a caffeine addict like myself.

Lets set some rules now that we’ve all got the neurons firing

  1. This is my blog about whatever I want to post. Mostly it’ll be weird and wonderful stuff that’s going on in my life but there may be some emotional outpouring, the odd rant or two, a discussion on my latest fitness kick or stupid idea for fun.
  2. WARNING: There will be IT content. Sorry, it’s just something I do. Deal with it.
  3. I make no promises to be funny / entertaining / informative / clean / mature. Take it as you see it.
  4. I will not be revealing who I am, where I live etc but if you can work it out (it’s not tricky to be honest) then please keep it to yourself and don’t sue me.
  5. By reading this blog, even if you miss this post, you agree that you can’t sue me, may family, my friends, my dog, my fish, my employers if I have one or employees if I have any of them, for anything at all. Full stop end of sentence move on with your life and get over the suing culture. It’s not big and we’re not impressed, ok? Just think what your dear old granny would say if she heard about it!
  6. Feel free to heckle / comment / critique / applaud / contribute / tell to bugger off as you see fit …. but don’t get upset if I respond and / or delete you comment. See Rule #1 about it being my blog and Rule #4 about not suing me in any shape or form.

Excellent. Now we’ve got that out of the way …… I suppose I’d better post something else.

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