Things IT People Say

Usually the funny stuff is saved for my personal blog but, technically this is IT related and my non-IT friends wouldn’t get it anyway. This isn’t “cat herder” funny but, still pretty funny.

And yeah I tell my users this stuff!

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How to re-enable Recovery Media creation on Lenovo T530

I had to restore a Lenovo T530 laptop running Windows 8 back to Windows 7. I tried to use the recovery media that I put on an SD card but, the laptop couldn’t boot from the SD card. So, I decided I would just recreate the recovery media using DVDs.

I went to another T530 laptop running Windows 7 to create the recovery media but, was presented with the following message:

You can have only one copy of the Microsoft Windows operating system.
The Product Recovery Media Creator will exit now.

Apparently, I had already created recovery media from this machine. Setting aside the stupidity of this tactic or it’s implied meaning (creating recovery media = piracy), I needed to trick this machine into letting me do this.

A quick Google search shows just how common this problem is and fortunately a fix. Unfortunately, many of the results are for older Thinkpads that reference a file that no longer exists. Fortunately, the latest fix was found in this forum post on superuser.com.

To fix, just run this command from a CMD prompt:

echo 0 > Q:\FactoryRecovery\RECOVERY.INI:Done

After running go back into ThinkVantage Tools and retry creating recovery media – it should work.

Create custom wallpaper for your servers

I like to set the Windows Desktop to a specific color to easily identify it from other desktops I may have open. This way when I have multiple Remote Desktops running I can quickly see which one I need to click on. At a minimum I usually set the background color of the Desktop.

Recently though, I started making custom images that I use as wallpaper that incorporate color idea and adds information to positively identify the server I am working on. This information usually includes the host name, IP address, a brief description, and the type of OS running.

I try to make the color the same as the color associated with the primary software installed on  the server. For example, our Prophet21 server is purple since that was their primary color in their logo, orange is used for our Shoretel server, etc. Some servers just have a color that was picked randomly years ago and stuck. Our database server uses olive while our webserver uses teal.

I use Gimp to make the images and put them on the root of the C: drive of the server. Since these are servers themes are usually disabled. To make the image appear as wallpaper I have to open them in Paint and from the File menu select “Set as Wallpaper”. The following are examples of wallpaper for a few of my servers.

This is a screenshot of my Taskbar showing how helpful these wallpapers are:

Cannot login to Windows machine on vmware snapshot

In setting up a new SQL Server 2008 server in VMWare I created a baseline snapshot of the machine as it was before installing SQL Server. This way I could practice installing SQL Server refining the process with each installation.

Today, I reverted back to my baseline snapshot and suddenly could not log in to the server using Remote Desktop. The Widows 7 Remote Desktop client was less than helpful about what could be the cause.

Checking the Event Log on the server only added to the mystery. The server recorded event ID 4625 for a logon failure. According to the log the username and password was not correct but, I know that was not true.

The clue that revealed the actual cause of the problem came from Windows 8! When trying to connect to the server using Remote Desktop on Windows 8 the error was much more specific:

True enough, when I looked down at the time the date and time was way off. The server running in the virtual machine appeared to be using the date of the snapshot’s creation. Being a member of an Active Directory domain I expected the date to be set to the date and time of the domain controller.

Fortunately, you can run DOS command to set the time to the correct time provided by the network time server. The following command resets the time and instructs the server to seek out the network time server:

w32tm /resync /rediscover

Surprisingly, the ancient “net time” command still works and gives you instant feedback:

net time /set

The lesson learned here was to make sure to reset the date and time when going back to a previous snapshot in VMWare.

How to start Prophet21 Acclaim

Today I needed to power-up our old Prophet21 Acclaim server to find some old information. It has been 7 years since we upgraded and the terminal connected to the machine did not work. So, I connected a switch and laptop to the server and tried to get in that way.

Unfortunately, when I tried to go into Acclaim I got the “Stopped!” message. I remember I had to enter an ON and a GO somewhere but, couldn’t remember where. The trick it turns out is being the console. The console automatically goes to UTILITY COMMAND. The problem was I wasn’t on the console. It took a call from a colleague to remind me how to seize the console.

1. login as root or su to root
2. if not on console take control of console: #p21 -t tty0
3. at UTILITY COMMAND… type ON
4. at UNIT NR… type 0
5. at FRACTION FULL DISPLAY… <enter>
6. keep hitting <enter> until back at UT prompt
7. at UTILITY COMMAND… type GO <enter>
8. at UTILITY COMMAND… hit <enter>
9. at JOB… prompt hit <enter>
10. Login to P21

Hopefully, I will never have to use this again but, just in case here it is.

Use 7-Zip to install ISO files

Challenge: You download an ISO (like Office 2010 from Microsoft) but, cannot install it because your computer doesn’t have a CD-ROM.

Solution: Use 7-Zip to extract the contents to a folder and install from there.

Note: Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 can mount ISOs to virtual CD drives natively but, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 cannot. However, Microsoft has created a utility to enable this functionality which can be downloaded from here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=38780

Importance of monitoring

One day we noticed our Internet just wasn’t what we were used to. Although no-one was complaining we in the IT department were feeling it whenever we downloaded a large file like a Microsoft ISO. Fortunately, we had setup Cacti — a MRTG/RRD monitoring solution. A quick look at Cacti showed we were only getting about 3Mbs of Internet:

Cacti graph of our Internet circuit

Our Internet provider supplies us with a portal in which we can see our usage. Comparing our graph with their graph confirmed a problem existed:

Vendor’s utilization graph matching ours

Now, we just had to determine where the problem lie. First, we checked our Internet using speedtest.net on the inside of the firewall. The result was about 3Mbs – just what we expected. Then we ran the same test on the outside of the firewall. The result was 20Mbs — what we should be getting. This meant the problem was in the firewall.

Turns out a port had recently been mis-configured to use half-duplex causing collisions on the connection. Within just a few minutes of discovery our problem had been resolved. If it had not been for the visual graph provided by Cacti we would have been going through logs to determine what and where the problem was easily using up time better spent elsewhere.