of the world (myself included) recently 'woke up' to all
things Cryptocurrency related.
Once word of the
meteoric rise of Bitcoin got out to masses everyone
naturally started wondering how they could cash in on what
is either the beginning of a fundamental technological and
societal change or just the latest bubble waiting to pop.
I'll leave that discussion to others, but it did make me
curious about mining - the process of using your computer to
create new coins. I won't go into all the technical details,
but Bitcoin and other so called alt-coins use a technology
called Blockchain to verify the electronic transactions used
when transferring money.
So what is
mining? From another source: "A mathematical proof of work,
created by trying billions of calculations per second, is
required to confirm a Bitcoin transaction." So when people
use their computers to mine, they are contributing to a vast
global network of computing power to process these
to be two kinds of systems used for mining. Purpose made
computers running customized circuits or ASICs and generic
computers using multiple graphics cards or GPUs. People
going the generic route will typically build open air
systems consisting of 6-7 GPUs. Why the focus on GPUs?
Although used to provide a computer's display, depending on
the application they are able to crunch numbers much better
than the computer's processor or CPU. Building a rig is
obviously not cheap. But hey, I already have a decent
computer with a kick ass video card. What about simply using
Answer Is No
Bitcoin is front and center in the media currently, I'm
more interested in
Ethereum. Although its price isn't even in the same
ballpark I think the technology behind it is superior
and as it has the backing of industry heavyweights such
as Intel and Microsoft I think more likely to succeed
So I went
online and looked up the required input values which I
plugged into this
clearly show that it is not worth it to use my existing
gaming PC to mine Ether. Guess I won't be getting rich
anytime soon. Now I did some research and apparently my
video card - a Nvidia GTX 1080 - is known to not be the
best option for mining. It might be awesome for gaming,
but not for this application. So as a comparison I
looked up the values for AMD's latest and greatest and
sadly the results were similar.
you will not make money mining on a typical gaming PC.
It's really all about scalability which is why serious
miners will have racks upon racks of rigs consisting of
6-7 GPUs all churning away 24x7. So unless your willing to
make a serious hardware commitment you're much better
off just buying the currency directly.
I Need A
Bridge - Nov 18
week I woke up and did my usual routine - pour myself a cup
of coffee, head into the office, plunk down and login to my
iMac to check Facebook, check my email, and generally see
what's happening in the world.
However I was
annoyed to find that our Internet connection was down. In
such cases I usually head downstairs and power cycle either
the Apple Airport router or the cable modem itself. So I did
that, went backup upstairs to check - and still no Internet.
Ok, let's check Shaw's website to see if there are any
reported outages in my neighborhood. I grab my iPhone,
switch off WiFi, browse to Shaw's website and it mentions
that they were doing maintenance during the night which was
supposed to end at 6am. It was 8am, so obviously they
I'll finish my coffee and wait a few hours and hopefully
it'll come back on it's own.
Later in the
afternoon we're still down so we check with the neighbor and
find that their Internet is working just fine. Now somewhat
annoyed I use my phone to go to Shaw's support chat and talk
with a technician. They couldn't contact my cable modem and
weren't sure why it was down. The earliest they could send
someone out to look at it was three days later. I had to go
out of town anyways, so not a big deal for me, but it sucked
for the wife who was relegated to spending time at the local
coffee shop to use their WiFi.
day arrives and the tech shows up. We were using a
(relatively) ancient Motorola cable modem which the
technician replaced with a Cisco
DPC3825 model. These are full blown routers with built
in Firewall, WiFi etc. I told the tech that I wanted all
that turned off as I already have my Apple router which is
already configured for everything. The tech assured me that
he would do just that. After it was swapped out he had me
test things and we had Internet once again. However I
noticed that the Airport was complaining about being Double
NAT'd. The tech said I just needed to power cycle it and
everything would be fine.
What's a Double NAT?
point things seemed to be working ok so I didn't think
much more about it.
But the next
day I noticed our IP cameras weren't working (which do
port forwarding). I went back into the Airport Utility
and noticed that the router's address had changed. After
doing some more digging I realized that the new Cisco
modem had taken over as a DHCP server. So I did some
Googling and found out this is a common problem.
Basically I was now running two routers - which is what
the Airport was complaining about by saying it was
'Double NAT'd'. The solution was to enable 'Bridge mode'
on the Cisco model which turns it back into a dumb
So I browsed
to the admin page for the Cisco, figured out the default
password and logged in. I was annoyed to see that WiFi
on it was also enabled so I turned that off. But I
couldn't find the option to enable Bridge Mode. Back to
Shaw support I went and after roughly 30 minutes they
sent the command to the device to switch it. After it
reset, the Apple router re-established contact and
reverted back to it's previous address and the status
light went Green.
through the forums online this apparently was a big
problem when this new class of modems came out
originally and at that time the support people at the
various ISP's didn't have a clue what 'Bridge mode' was
and there was much frustration all around. I guess this
is one of those times where being a bit behind the
technology curve was a blessing.
Security? - Oct 14
recently was tasked at work with 'hacking into' a server
from a company we just acquired where we owned the hardware
but weren't given any passwords or credentials.
reaction was that this was going to be an ordeal if not
outright impossible. At the least I was expecting that I'd
have to resort to some cracking program chugging away for
hours if not days to crack the built-in Administrator
password. Once I had that I'd be able to log into the system
and do anything I wanted to at that point. I did some
Googling and found an
article which describes one way to do this.
But what if
the last logged on user wasn't an Admin account? You might
be able to log in, but you still wouldn't 'own' the system.
A colleague mentioned a 3rd party tool called
PCUnlocker which I downloaded and tried out on a test
server (I successfully tested the program on both Windows
2012R2 Server and Windows 10).
Security? What Security?
thing about this program is that it'll list all the
local accounts so you can easily tell which account is a
point I was still somewhat skeptical that it'd be
successful but I tried it and sure enough it worked like
a charm. I was able to reset the Admin password and then
log on using the new password. I was stunned that anyone
could so easily break into a server despite all of
Microsoft's touted security features. Doing some more
Googling I discovered that this ability has been an
'open secret' for years. Of course some would argue that
it's not a security hole because you still need physical
access to the system - but that's small consolation if
you ever lose a laptop or have a break-in.
think at the very least Microsoft would encrypt the SAM
database by default so that these programs wouldn't be
able to list the accounts and you would have to know the
name of the Admin account in order to reset it.
So how to
prevent someone from being able to so easily break into
your computer? You simply need to encrypt your System
BitLocker, or some 3rd party encryption solution. If
BitLocker, that's assuming your system has the built-in
TPM security chip that it requires.
Temperature Error - Jul 23
old system that's currently running Linux has had an issue
for as long as I can remember. Whenever you'd boot it up
it'd complain that the CPU temperature was too hot. It was
always pegged at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. I'd
press a key and it'd continue on and as far as I could tell
was operating just fine. So eventually I just went into the
Bios and told it to suppress that error message. But after
having put it in the new Lian-Li case and having easy access
to the motherboard I decided I'd finally get to the bottom
of this error and resolve it once and for all.
I did some
Googling and the consensus seemed to be that the thermal
paste was likely old and no longer working very well and
that by removing it and re-applying new paste it should
solve the over-temperature error. So I ran down to the local
computer store and got some Arctic Silver, removed my Zalman
CPU cooler, removed the old paste, applied the new paste,
reseated the cooler and powered it back up - only to find
the error was still there.
So then I'm
thinking well maybe there's an issue with my cooler, maybe
over time the bracket had warped and as a result the cooler
was no longer making proper contact with the CPU. So to rule
that out I bought a cheap Intel type cooler off Amazon and
waited a few days for it to arrive. Once it was here I
repeated the process with the paste and powered it on - only
to find the error was still there.
Ok, maybe the CPU itself was the issue. So I hopped on eBay
and found someone selling a Core 2 Duo @3.33Ghz for cheap.
It was only slightly faster than what I had, but this new(er)
chip also had more cache so I ordered it. Waited a week for
it to arrive (actually it took longer than it was supposed
to and I contacted the seller who refunded me the money so I
got it for free) and swapped out the old chip,
applied the paste, applied the cooler and powered it on -
only to find the error was STILL there!
point the only thing left to replace was the motherboard. So
once again I hopped on eBay and found someone selling the
same ancient motherboard - an Asus P5K-VM - which came out
roughly a decade ago. Waited a week for it to show up and
swapped in all the components including additional
memory I had also bought while I was searching eBay. Put in my new CPU, applied the paste, attached my
CPU cooler, fired it up - and the error was gone!
thing about mucking around with a system as old as this one,
assuming you can still find parts, is that it's
relatively cheap to do what I did and replace the board
and processor. In the end I spent less than $100 and got
the fastest Core 2 Duo chip ever made in the process.
Now the error is gone and I don't have that nagging
worry in the back of my head that I was slowly killing
The moral is
that should you get a similar temperature error, yes, the
problem likely is resolved by applying new paste, but
should that fail it's likely that a failed
temperature sensor on your motherboard is to blame.
Issues - Jul 8
was working in the vSphere console recently and was doing
There was a VM
that had been powered off for awhile and was no longer
needed. After deleting the VM from disk I went to delete its
associated datastore but was presented with this error
'Datastore Name: <name> VMFS uuid: <ID>' is in use.
remove datastore 'Datastore Name: <name> VMFS uuid: <ID>'
because the file system is busy. Correct the problem and
retry the operation.
what? After doing a bunch of Googling I came across the
solution. I browsed the datastore and sure enough there was
a coredump file in there. It had to be removed somehow.
Troublesome Coredump File
But I first
had to determine which host had the lock on it. Opening up
PowerCLI I typed the following command:
all of the hosts and their UUID's which I was able to use to
match the last part of the dumpfile's UUID with the correct
host. I then SSH'd into the host and ran this command to
remove the file:
coredump file remove --force
Once that was
done I was then able to go and delete the datastore, detach
it from the storage adapter, and then take the corresponding
volume on the SAN offline and finally delete it to recover
the space. So if in the future you get this error message
when trying to delete a datastore, check to see if there's a
coredump file sitting in there.
SCCM Fun - Jun
back from holidays to find our SCCM server was acting up.
specifically, WSUS wasn't synching the latest patches from
Microsoft. Great, just what I want to deal with on my first
day back to work. I took a peek in the SCCM logs and this
error kept showing up over and over again:
WSUS Synchronization failed.
Message: The request failed with HTTP status 503: Service
So I did a
bunch of Googling on this error and unlike what usually
happens where I end up spending hours looking at outdated or
simply incorrect solutions, I found the
answer fairly quickly.
As per the
article I checked the Application Pools in IIS Manager and
sure enough the WsusPool was stopped. So I increased the
Private Memory Limit for it from the default of 1842300KB to
the recommended 4000000KB (4GB) and restarted to pool. I
waited a few minutes and on the next scheduled
synchronization attempt I could see that it was properly
troubleshooting session where I was able to find the answer
and resolve the problem fairly quickly.
Cases - Jun 4
I have my fancy iMac and new gaming system, I still
occasionally fire up my old PC which is currently running
It's been housed
for the longest time in a shiny small form factor (SFF)
case. Recently I decided to remove it from there and instead
install it on a Lian Li test bench
case that I bought years ago. I can't even remember why
I bought it originally although I'm guessing at the time I
was planning on buying a bunch of peripherals and upgrades
and testing them. The nice thing about this case is that
it's completely open and you can easily access all the
components. Usually with a traditional tower rig it's
somewhat of a hassle as you end up having to crawl under the
desk and unhook everything and then lug it up and onto the
top of the desk to access inside. Or even worse is a SFF
case where everything is so tightly crammed in there you end
up having to take most of it apart just to access one
As is typical
with most of these cases instructions are fairly minimal
with a few illustrations thrown in. It took me awhile and
mostly through trial and error I was able to figure out what
went where and how it was all supposed to go together.
Lian Li PC-T60
optional bracket I affixed at the back which helps prevent
it from tipping over and space at the front for an optional
interface board which did not come with the product. Other
than that there's not much to it. The handle is a nice
feature which makes it easy to move around and the aluminum
construction is lightweight. About the only negative is I
find the PCI slot brackets rattle whenever the DVD drive
spins up. But as I only really use it when I install a new
OS it's not a big deal.
As you can see
from the picture it's not your typical case and I dig it's
industrial look. Upon bootup my system has forever
complained about a CPU temperature error and I've been
meaning to remove the CPU and re-apply new thermal compound
to fix. Now that the motherboard is installed in this new
setup it should be a much easier process than before.
Mystery - Apr 25
a bit of a scare over the weekend.
I was applying
the latest cumulative updates to our Exchange 2010 servers
and attempting to apply the latest cumulative update to our
Exchange 2013 Hybrid server. The 2010 updates installed just
fine, but when I went to install the 2013 one it popped up a
Dr. Watson error. At this point, not having the time to
troubleshoot I simply reverted back to the VM snapshot I had
after it came back up I noticed incoming email from the
Internet was no longer working. We have our mail smarthost
configured to forward Internet email through the 2013
server. As I had reverted to the snapshot which was working
fine previously I initially didn't suspect the Hybrid server
was the problem, instead focusing on the 2010 updates and
possibly last week's security updates. Checking the mail
queue on the smarthost showed '421 4.3.2 Service not active
(in reply to MAIL FROM command)' errors.
So I then
tried sending a test email via Telnet which failed. Ok, so I
knew it must be the Hybrid server that was the issue, but I
didn't notice any errors in the Event Log and I double
checked that all the services were running.
searching through article after article on Google I finally
stumbled across the problem. As Exchange 2013 is fairly new
to me I'm still learning all of it's nuances, but apparently
services can be running but not actually working. It's
called 'maintenance mode' and will make the various services
inactive while doing updates.
Checking the Event
Two ways to
verify if that's what going on is through the Event Log -
event ID 7009, note that it shows the state as being
Inactive - or through the Exchange Management Shell:
In my case every
single component was Inactive. Note that simply restarting
does NOT fix the problem. You have to manually intervene and
make the components active again. I then ran into my second
issue as all the articles I found on this stated to simply
run the Set-ServerComponentState command and set the
ServerWideOffline component to Active. But it wasn't working
for me. Finally I found the one
article which solved the problem. Usually when in
maintenance mode everything is inactive except for the
Monitoring and RecoveryActionEnabled components. But in my
case they were inactive as well. If those two components
aren't active using ServerWideOffline will not bring
everything back. You have to make all three components
Once I did this
and restarted both the FrontEndTransport and Transport
services email flow was restored. I still don't know why I
ended up in this state, but at least now I know how to look
for it and fix it.
Apocalypse??? - Mar 29
news broke that a group of hackers had supposedly
compromised up to 300 million iCloud accounts and were
threatening to remotely wipe any devices linked to those
accounts unless Apple pays a ransom by April 7th.
sources are disputing the likelihood of them being able to
carry out that threat, suggesting that they might have
gotten a hold of a few accounts at most. Whether or not the
hack and the potential scope is indeed real or not, it
serves as a timely reminder that it's never a bad idea to
improve your security when you can.
Here are some
best practices for securing your iCloud account and iDevices:
there, if you haven't done so in awhile, change your
look at what's listed under the Devices section. Make
sure there are no devices there that you do not
hurts to periodically backup your iPhone or iPad onto
your Mac by plugging it into your Mac and using iTunes
to back it up.
although the cloud is wonderful for backing up data you
might want to also consider backing up your Mac to an
external hard drive using either Time Machine or a 3rd
I guess we'll
know if it's doom and gloom or a lot of fuss over nothing in
a week or so. Still, following these few easy steps will go
a long way to ensuring you data and your accounts are
protected as much as possible.
Weirdness - Mar 11
couple days ago I was surfing the web on my old (but much
loved) iMac which is running OS X Lion. I went to log into
Facebook and was somewhat confused that it was showing the
mobile website instead of the normal desktop website. I
didn't think much of it at the time, but a few days later my
wife was on our new iMac which is running OS X Mavericks and
says 'why does my Facebook look all weird'? Sure enough it
also was showing the mobile version. But the odd thing was
when I logged on with my account it showed normally. Same
system, showing the mobile site for one account and the
desktop site for another.
At this point my
curiosity was peaked and I had to figure it out because it
was bugging the heck out of me.
My guess is
that Facebook just arbitrarily cut off support for older
browser versions and on systems that it detected as not
meeting the requirements would show the mobile site - which
in theory would work better on an older browser (only
problem is it's ugly as hell). But my new iMac is fairly
modern and again, it worked fine under my account. So what
was going on?
I logged on
with the wife's account and went to install Firefox to try
it on a different browser. But when I got to the Firefox
download page it said 'Your system doesn't meet the
requirements to run Firefox'. What the heck? I logged on
with my account and went to the Firefox download page and it
didn't display that message.
So I took to
Google and did a bunch of searches and after awhile stumbled
across a link that pointed me in the right direction.
go to a website your browser will 'broadcast' a string
identifying a bunch of info, including the OS you're running
and the version of Browser you're using. One of the articles
pointed me to a
website which will display that info for you. While
logged on with the wife's account this is what it showed:
Um, That's Not
It was saying
that my Mac was running Snow Leopard which was a Mac OS from
8 years ago!! I went to the same website while logged on
with my account and it showed the correct information. So
obviously there was something weird with the wife's account
going on. I did some more digging and found that by going
into Safari's preferences, Advanced tab, you can tell it to
show the Developer menu. Once that's showing you can click
on it and it will allow you to change the information - the
user agent string - that is sent to websites you visit.
But instead of
Default being selected it was showing a custom user agent
string instead. When I changed it to Default and went to
Facebook everything showed correctly - so I knew this was
definitely the issue. Unfortunately if I exited Safari it
would again default back to that custom string.
Safari Developer Menu
I did some more
digging and found out that you can overwrite the custom user
agent string. So I simply copied the string that was showing
when logged on with my account into the following command in
Once that was
done I opened up Safari, checked the developer menu and sure
enough it was now showing the updated string. Opened
Facebook and it displayed properly. At this point I was
feeling pretty happy with myself that I got the problem
sorted. But then I thought about it some more and still was
annoyed that it kept defaulting to this custom string
instead of the 'Default (Automatically Chosen)' option.
After some more digging I came across the command to delete
the custom string:
Once that was
done I re-opened Safari and now the default option was
chosen. So now everything is back to normal. What happened
to cause this issue in the first place? Who knows. I didn't
make any changes and she's claiming innocence. But at least
now she's happy that she can go back to watching adorable
cat videos on Facebook and not have it showing the horrific
Fun - Feb 17
Recently I was
given a new laptop model - a Dell Latitude E5470 - to add to
our enterprise OS image.
While we have
plans to eventually use SCCM for OS deployment, upgrades,
wiping new systems and putting our corporate image on them,
for now we're still using the basic Microsoft Deployment
Toolkit (MDT). Typically when I get a new model I'll install
the OS from DVD and when finished take a peek in Device
Manager to see what drivers are missing. Then I'll download
them from the vendor, inject them into MDT's list of
drivers, image the system, and verify everything gets
But for some
reason, there was one entry in Device Manager that I could
not figure out what driver was required:
furious Googling I came across a post from someone having
the same issue. While these newer desktop and laptops still
have Windows 7 drivers, it's becoming more of a pain trying
to shoehorn such an old OS onto them. In this case the
laptop's Bios supports TPM 2.0 - which is the latest version
of the cryptography platform for securing and encrypting
these systems. But Windows 7 has no idea about this newer
version. So the solution is a
hotfix from Microsoft. After
importing the hotfix into MDT as a package the question mark
in device manager is now gone after the image is completed.
The other issue
I ran into is this laptop has a fingerprint reader that you
can use to unlock it and log in to Windows. Pretty cool
stuff, but again, a pain to implement with MDT.
First problem is
even after running Dell's ControlVault drivers package and
going back into Device Manager and tracking down the driver
names and locating them, the cab file, the inf file, the sys
file etc. and importing them into MDT - it still doesn't
properly install the drivers. You have to run the
executable. Which is fine when doing manually, but a problem
when trying to automate it. So what I ended up doing was to
create an application for it and then add it to the Task
But the other
problem was how to prevent it from applying to models that
don't have a fingerprint scanner. While MDT supports
installing a database and using it to record the models of
the various systems, that's something I never implemented.
So my work around was to add a WMI query to the Task
Query to the Rescue
As we have two
laptop models with the fingerprint scanner I also added the
second model to the query. Now the correct software gets
installed on systems that require it!
3D TV Is
Dead - Jan 29
With recent announcements by industry heavyweights LG and
Sony that they will no longer be making 3D capable TV's, the
days of 3D TV is over.
Always a niche market, 3D really burst onto the scene after
the success of Avatar. Suddenly manufacturers saw a
potential new way to market their products to the public.
But despite their best efforts, it never seemed to end up
being more than gimmick. Maybe it was due to lack of
content, maybe it was due to the hassle of needing the
trifecta of required equipment (TV, Player, Disc), maybe
it was due to the dearth of movies filmed with 3D cameras,
but whatever the reason it's now consigned to the
technological dustbin of history.
For me personally, I'm somewhat disappointed. While they
only comprise a small portion of my Blu-ray library, I have
from time to time enjoyed putting on my glasses and watching
one of my 3D releases. Sadly my current setup is the last of
several eras. In addition to being 3D capable, my Panny ZT60
is one of the last Plasmas made and my Pioneer BDP-85FD is
one of the last Blu-ray players not requiring online
activation - which is a whole other annoyance and topic for
Fun While It Lasted
Adding insult to injury, we'll still be
forced to see movies at the theatre in 3D, because it's
a cash cow for studios. You might have noticed that it's
almost impossible to see a movie in 2D anymore, and if
you can there might be one showing during the most
useless time slot. They get to charge you more even
though in any given year you can literally count on one
hand the number of movies that were actually filmed in
3D. In almost every case the movie you're watching and
paying more for was turned into a 3D movie during post
production (they cheated).
Now I think
I'll go spin up my 3D copy of Hugo and ponder the end of