Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Freeware Utilities

I'm always looking for more utilities to add to my arsenal for scripting, automating and generally freeing up time for other tasks, like sipping a fresh coffee ;^)

Over the past few months I've been pointed to, or found, four more sites chock full of tasty utilities.

  • AnalogX has a varied collection covering network, system, programming, even audio utilities.

  • joeware has a whole pile of free tools, many related to Active Directory, account management and networking.

  • NirSoft has an impressive array of tools for forensics, networking, systems, passwords and a whole lot more. They also have a blog so you can keep posted on updates and additions.

  • Optimum X has a decent list of network, software and login utilities. Although some are a bit long in the tooth (one is from 9/98), there's still some gold here.

These should keep you busy for at least a few minutes. And as always they're my favorite price, free.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Disable Prius Beeping when in Reverse

If you have a Prius, there's a good chance you are annoyed by the constant beeping when you put the car in reverse. I can understand if it's heard outside the car, since it's almost completely silent when in electric mode, but it only alerts the passengers in the vehicle. Since selling my Corvette, I've been driving my wife's Prius a lot and the beeping was beginning to really grate on me...

After a few searches, here's what I found (read the steps once before attempting, some of them are time dependent).

  1. Start the car with your foot on the brake as usual.

  2. Press the ODO button until "ODO" appears on the dash display. (If it's already present, cycle around once to display it again.)

  3. Turn the car off.

  4. Again with your foot on the brake, press POWER to restart your Prius.

  5. Within 6 seconds of starting, press and hold the ODO button for 10 seconds and don't release it.

  6. You're still holding the ODO button after 10 seconds, right? Now shift the car into Reverse and quickly press the Park button. You may now release the ODO button.

  7. The odometer display should now show "b on" (if not, start over).

  8. Press the ODO button until the display shows "b off."

  9. Turn the car off by pressing the POWER button.

  10. Start your Prius now, put it reverse and enjoy the silence.

Note: This is supposed to work only with US models, so if you're abroad it's up to the kindness of your dealer. And I've only tested this on a 2009 Prius, so your mileage may vary :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Search Fails for Some Outlook or OWA Users

Due to a recent power outage at a client site, their Exchange search catalogs became corrupted. The issue at hand was that searches in Outlook or OWA only resulted in showing results prior to the outage.

To confirm that this was the case, I opened the trusty EMS and ran this command on an affected individual.

test-exchangesearch username | fl

This result confirmed the catalog corruption:
ResultFound : False
SearchTime : -1

The fix is rather easy, but depending on your database size, can be rather lengthy. The script below stops the Microsoft Exchange Search Indexer, deletes the Catalog of the database in question and restarts the Indexer which fires off a complete rebuild.

You can find the script here (from where it must be run): <drive>:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\Scripts

Syntax: ResetSearchIndex.ps1 -force <database>

Example: ResetSearchIndex.ps1 -force "Mailbox One"

The rebuilding of our catalogs took almost an hour for a 80GB database. And that was on a fairly powerful system with 32GB of RAM.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Surveying a Linux System, Part 3 - Usage

This is the last in my Linux survey trifecta, examining current usage, plus a bit of troubleshooting.

As with both the hardware and software posts, you may need to run some of these as root and your mileage may vary, since not all distros are alike.

Show a list of recent logins
# last

Process list (check out additional switches)
# ps -A

Current performance and PIDs (you can use kill to end a runaway process)
# top

Current memory usage
# free

Disk usage (shows directories by size, based on your current location, usually best to start from root /)
# du -sh *

Network status (lots of switches to drill down with)
# netstat -a

Time since last reboot
# uptime

I'll add to these lists as I come across more useful commands. Thanks to O'Reilly for the command directory.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Script to Export a Mailbox to PST

With an occasional need to export a user mailbox to PST for archive, I decided it would be useful to be able to call up a script and save myself some time and mouse clicking.

Should you wish to give the script below a try, copy it into a text file and change the extension to .ps1

Note: This script should be run from a system with Outlook and the Exchange Management Tools installed (they both need to be 32 or 64-bit) for this to work).

rem Gathering names for labeling the exported PST
$fname = Read-Host "First name?"
$lname = Read-Host "Last name?"

rem Assigning the current date to the $date variable
$date = get-date -uformat "%Y_%m_%d"

rem Capturing name of mailbox account (assigning to $uname variable)
$uname = Read-Host "Username?"

rem Capturing admin acct that is currently logged in to add mailbox permissions (assigning to $admin variable)
whoami > $admin

rem Adding permissions for admin allowing export
Add-MailboxPermission -AccessRights FullAccess -Identity $uname -User $admin

rem Exporting mailbox to D:\PSTs (change path to your liking)
Export-Mailbox -Identity $uname -PSTFolderPath D:\PSTs\$fname"_"$lname"_"$date.pst

If at some point I get time or get paid to do so, I'll make a script to allow the use of a list for mass export.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Surveying a Linux System, Part 2 - Software

A few days back, I listed  some Linux commands for getting hardware information. Now onto software and operating system information. Again, you may need to run some of these as root and your mileage may vary, since not all distros are alike.

List version of Red Hat/Fedora/CentOS
# cat /etc/redhat-release

List version of SuSE
# cat /etc/SuSE-release

List verion of Ubuntu
# cat /etc/lsb-release

Kernel info
# uname -a

View network info
# ifconfig

DNS servers
# cat /etc/resolv.conf
Hostname and Gateway
# cat /etc/sysconfig/network

Shell being used
# echo $SHELL

Check cron jobs (scheduled tasks)
# crontab -l

The final Linux command installment will cover some troubleshooting commands.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Software in my Binder

Earlier this year I covered what items I carry in my backpack, this time it's about what software I carry in my soft-sided TechNet folder. Of course there's the usual operating system and application disks, but there are a number of rescue and utility disks as well...

Operating Systems and Applications

  • Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 2003 R2, 2008, 2008 R2 (32 & 64-bit versions)

  • Office 2003, 2007 & 2010 (all 32-bit)

  • CentOS 6.2 (64-bit)

  • Fedora 16 (64-bit)

  • Ubuntu 11.10 (64-bit)

  • Knoppix - Live Linux boot disk

  • VMware ESXi 5.0 (64-bit)

  • DVD with Windows and Office Service Packs

Rescue and Utilities

Anything you like or recommend (preferably free)?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Surveying a Linux System, Part 1 - Hardware

I am called to work on Linux systems only occasionally, which is unfortunate since it is a very versatile and useful OS that should warrant more of my time.

In many instances the request has been to survey a Linux box, and as usual I'm searching Bing and Google for commands. Here's the first of three parts, starting with hardware, in which I share my compiled list for getting info from a Linux system. BTW, you may need to run some of these as root and your mileage may vary, since not all distros are alike.

CPU Information
# cat /proc/cpuinfo

Amount of Memory
# cat /proc/meminfo

Hard Disks
# df -h

Check PCI Buses and Devices
# lspci

Check USB Buses and Devices
# lsusb

Crazy amount of Hardware Data
# dmesg | less

Next up, software (as related to the OS and configuration).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Recurring meeting has been declined!

A recent Outlook user, trying to book a non-recurring meeting, received this error: "Giant Conference Room has declined your meeting because it is recurring. You must book each meeting separately with this resource." But, it was non-recurring!!!

This error comes about when multiple users have the same resource open, in this case a conference room, and make edits causing the Free/Busy information to become corrupt.

In order to fix the issue, just change one of the scheduling settings within Outlook > Options > Calendar > Resource Scheduling..., such as "Automatically decline recurring meeting requests," click OK, then change it back. It'll cause the Free/Busy data to rebuild and scheduling may once again take place.