Insufficient system resources

Shush! 😮

So anyhow I haven’t really been “updating” the site since mid 2008, and its now January 2010 so that’s about a  year and a half of inactivity on the website.. but I haven’t been sitting on my ass doing nothing!
I am going to blame most of the silence on the workload in the office, we have been doing tonnes of work and 4 or 5 major projects since mid 2008.  That and when I get home I normally find myself either watching TV Shows or trying to play Left 4 Dead 2 with friends on the PC. (if you think I’m going to sit and type out stuff on a computer at home after doing that said task for up to 8hrs per day, your sadly mistaken!)

A quick summary of sorts, on the sort of projects and big jobs that have limited me from spending time in the office writing blog posts.

  1. We continued the roll out of PCs across the whole organisation, Changing from the Optiplex 755’s to the newer Optiplex 760s (which have now been superseded by the Optiplex 780s!)  This totalled approx. 44 sites across the whole of Northern Ireland.
    In excess of 400 computers installed, and We used a PGS to do it all.  (PGS is short in our office for the Portable Ghost System which was based around a laptop with a huge HDD, running Ghostcast, DHCP, and anti-virus deployment software)
  2. “We” (read: the consultants as we have jack all Oracle knowledge in our office) completed the upgrade of the company’s Case Management system to Oracle 10g, which has never really fixed the problems we have with locked tables.  But truth be told we didn’t expect it to, it was all done because Oracle 8i isn’t “officially” supported on Server 2003 (hell, its not officially supported full stop now!)
  3. The requirements changed for access to the Case Management system.  We used to take it offline at 8pm at night (3 hrs after business closes) to allow us to get a clean 100% backup of all data nightly.  Since the disaster many years ago (read: Mayday Mayday on the 14th April for more info) we were very paranoid about data integrity. The Company needed to access the system later in the night when emergencies happen.  This meant an upgrade to the SAN ( New Toys! :mrgreen:) to provide Snapshots of the data.  It mans now we have an effective 5minute downtime compared to the previous 12hr downtime.  I like new kit! For any Technical nerds (TDC, I’m looking at you!) its an EMC Clariion AX-4 storage array with about 5tb of theoretical storage
  4. Installed a multitude of new servers, including a Xenserver Host for testing (more will be revealed below) to provide more stuff to the staff in the Company
  5. The Company finally upgraded the old Option 11 Meridian downstairs in “the basement” (Otherwise known as the cubby-hole under the back stairwell) to the new spangly option 11.  This meant we got to bin Meridian Mail (anyone actually remember the old CLI interface you had to bastardise about with to get the damn thing working?) and had a CallPilot system put in its place.  We have IP phones on our desks in here in the office as well as throughout other parts of Headquarters, and an “outer office” which is situated on the end of a 10mb Les circuit using Citrix AND ip phones! best of all there’s no complaints from any of the 9 members of staff (yes, that calculates out at a 1.1mb connection for each of them)

And there is loads more that’s been done, some of which I wont cover because its insignificant

So anyhow, onwards to the future!  We have a few big projects coming up soon as well, the big one happens to be the big V word in IT lately, “Virtualization”
(Now you see why I have installed a Xenserver host on the network!)
The only bad part is that it seems to have opened a can of worms! possible upgrades to Server 2008 R2, Exchange 2007, Office 2007 and Windows 7 in the office have been bandied about a lot. Of course the added benefit of moving your infrastructure to a virtualized environment means you can do these sorts of upgrades during the move to reduce downtime, the effect and any underlying issues.
(Of course, this is overlooked and I’ve heard remarks of going P2V first, then looking at upgrading OS’s and software at a later date… 😕 )

There is also talk of us finally getting what we asked for many years ago, an actual workshop! There’s pictures in my random gallery showing the office which is also our workspace and IT Storeroom.   So for example when a server needs built, its normally stuck on the edge of my desk and wired up to a KVM hidden behind my screen.  So this tiny office where theres 4 people based (we’ve had 5 members of staff since about 2006) will become the workshop, and we get a bigger office to expand into which in this case is so that there’s a desk for the 6th member of staff who starts next week.

Random other stuff now!

In the space of writing this post (It’s taken over 2hrs to compose this so far) I have been interrupted numerous times to fix equipment or servers, or to answer questions from my boss and his boss regarding “stuff”.  but this is like a mega-post so its somewhat expected to take me forever to write 😉

I went and bought myself a small Toshiba NB200 netbook recently, should be easier to carry than my aging Lenovo laptop.  going from a 15.4″ screen down to a 10.1″ screen is a bit awkward but when your reading web pages and typing up stuff its perfectly fine.  just no hope of playing l4d2 on either of those devices! That job stays with my gaming rig at home (Q6600 w/4GB DDr2 ram & HD4870 gfx)
yes I know its getting a bit long in the tooth, but the i7 prices are still bloody ridiculous and it plays the current crop of games fine… just don’t show it a copy of crysis.

I hate how slow transferring images from Bluetooth really is, I’m still waiting for the picture I took of the office to copy across so I can upload it. It should appear in the gallery sometime today (Wednesday)

Anyway, its now Lunchtime in the office and its stopped snowing \o/ time to pop out and grab something nice to eat.
and before anyone asks, no I wont fucking blog what I’m eating later! that’s what twitter is for 😆

Access Denied

Talk about a leave of absence! Have not been near this site since early February bar the occasional upgrade to WordPress itself.

So its re-cap time, Apologies to anyone who landed on the site when they googled the 554 error.  I encountered it during December a few days before I created the rant post so that is why its there, I can presume it only occurs when your bandwidth is being sucked away by some random web-surfer!

We replaced all the computers in our Headquarters no problem, then have spent the last few months troubleshooting problems with them! Bit of simple advice if you have Dell Optiplex 755’s where the Network card drops constantly (a Yo-Yo effect)…
It does not matter if you have A09 Bios installed, or disabled the Management Engine, or upgraded the drivers, the cards effectively b0rked and you have to call Dell Business Support to get the board replaced!
I don’t know if the new 755’s have the same problem but I feel we may discover this once we buy more of them for some of our other offices!

We also have more upcoming projects, including an upgrade of our Oracle system which is occurring shortly… something I am not looking forward to as we are upgrading from a really old Oracle 8i Database to last years Oracle 10g version (and to add insult to injury, since the project started in December last year, Oracle 11g has now been released for Microsoft Windows!)
A lot of the work will be done by Consultants who have more of a clue when it comes to Oracle, but since it involves "breaking" a cluster there is a bit of a risk involved.. that and our recovery server is tied up with initial testing means our safety net is really really small!

On an aside regarding my rant in December, It seems that some people do not have any common sense when it comes to using the Internet at work. When you get a webpage saying Access Denied: This page has been blocked by Surfcontrol they might stop and think for a second that they really shouldn’t be looking at those types of sites.

I need to sit down and do the "About Me" page on this site 🙁
Oh, and if this looks a bit screwy, I decided to give Windows Live Writer another try with this blog, who knows how bad this will look!

Brain freeze

I have always wondered how some people manage to forget their passwords after 3 days.

Hell, I have had people change their password, then forget it less than an hour later!

I would see past it if we were strict with passwords and had them set to something like Bk3@~99Dra$1 and you had to write the bloody thing down, but nope.. ours are less than complicated 🙁 Asswipe1 works pretty well on our systems (I wish we could use it at times!)

I have also grown to hate the way Citrix handles print queues in Presentation Server 4.0. To get your lovely network printer working you need to put the same driver onto the Citrix Server, which is a pain in the ass if the printer driver isnt best of friends with Citrix in the first place (a-la Xerox Workcentre M/Pro 123/128 Photocopiers)
Or you happen to end up with a corrupt printer driver which brings down all 28 people’s printers connected to that server (they vanish like a slice of chocolate cake at the weightwatchers slimming class)

Also in a very under-manned department doesnt help, two guys doing the job of 5 guys (well actually, one doing the job of 4, my boss is already overloaded courtesy of our senior numbnut lumping everything on him)

Me Spiteful? never! EEK

Your Nemesis…

Okay, strange post of sorts coming up.

Every so often I have came across a computer (or in this case a server) which through no reason decides that it has to blue-screen at random, the wonderful BSOD.
We have a nice 12 server Citrix Farm, but 2 of these servers are based in our off-site disaster recovery building. These two servers are “live” and provide services to people based in our off-site DR building (which conveniently enough is one of our larger offices outside of Headquarters)

So our second server in the DR site developed a fault with its memory and kept BSOD’ing out under load, we got it sorted out but the BSOD’s didn’t stop when it was under load which worried us.
Since both servers are identical (HP Proliant ML370 G2) I had to diagnose the problems, only to discover after some digging that the Network Card driver on server 2 was an older revision. Updating the network driver solved the BSOD issue, and it hasnt kicked the bucket in over 2 months.

The whole reason I decided to check the network card drivers? one of my old computer motherboards used a Via network card, which if you updated the driver from Windows Update it would throw a wobbler and give a lovely BSOD for no reason. the pre-packaged drivers never gave a problem either.

So dodgy network card drivers = instability for Windows.

The most interesting part of this problem? both servers were built with the exact same Proliant Quickstart CD, so should of had the identical driver installed on each. Because its a Citrix Server you DO NOT install anything from Windows Update except for critical updates.

Lesson Learnt? If a computer kicks the bucket for no apparent reason and its on a network, change the network driver to a different version (sometimes the latest may not be the best!)

Side note: IESpell is very handy indeed for in-line spell checking within Internet Explorer 7 🙂