Importing Winamp Presets for Audacious

I have been playing around and trying different meda players in Linux. It had been quite some time since I had used Audacious and I was quickly growing tired of Amarok2’s missing features. One of the most obvious features that is missing is the equalizer, really?

After installing Audacious (sudo apt-get install audacious) and enabling the EQ I remembered that you could import the old trusty Winamp presets into Audacious. That is great, I was and remain a fan of the full bass & treble preset. After a mere 30 seconds of searching for the Winamp EQ file to import, I stumbled upon a very simple two step process for downloading and “installing” them.



gunzip -c winamp_presets.gz > ~/.config/audacious/eq.preset

Restart / Audacious and you are all good to go.


Microsoft SQL: A few helpful queries

Let me start by saying that I am not a DBA, nor would I ever pretend to be one. But with that said, all of us at some time or another will need to assist someone with SQL. If you have ever landed a client with a SQL server based application, you have probably been put in a situation where you have had to learn right then and there. That is pretty standard when you are playing the part of the out-sourced know-it-all. Hopefully a few of these will help you along the way.

*Note*: Use common sense when working with anyone’s data, especially databases. I always backup before running any queries that may compromise the data in anyway.

1. Consistency checking. You may be receiving various Backup Exec errors indicating that a consistency check has failed in database x or maybe you just want to check just to be sure. Select the database that you want and then click on New Query. On the right hand side/pane, enter in DBCC CHECKDB and click Execute.
This will run a consistency check on your database and report any problems that may be found.

2. Allocations errors. After reading through the results of your DBCC CHECKDB query, you may find allocations errors. You can try nullifying those nasty little bastards with another easy

3. Table errors. Once again you may run into these and you have a few options. Start by creating a new query containing: DBCC CHECKTABLE ('theNameofYourTableHere', REPAIR_FAST);. From there you can run a full repair by executing another query containing: DBCC CHECKTABLE ('billheaders', REPAIR_REBUILD);. It is worth noting that these two queries/commands do not harm data, that is to say, they do not allow or consider data loss to be acceptable.

4. A sledge hammer to crack a nut. Sometimes when all hope is lost, and you are CERTAIN that you have a backup of the database (damaged or not) that you are working on, you can try a repair with data loss. Im not sure about the exact rules of when you should and should not use this query, but I am fairly certain that the SQL God’s of ole’ role over in their graves everytime you execute this query. Anyways, here is it: DBCC checkdb ('yourDatabaseNameHere', repair_allow_data_loss);

5. Exclusive lock. Some of these queries require that you have SQL in Single User Mode. I spent longer that I wanted searching for a way to do this. Most of my Google searches turned up solutions for starting the entire SQL server or instances in single user mode. But I didn’t want to do that. In fact, I could not do that to the production SQL server while it was in use. Use this query to put a single database into single user mode: alter database yourDatabaseNameHere set SINGLE_USER. Once you are done with your checks and queries in single user mode, you need to get the DB back up so everyone can access it. Use this query to send the DB back into multi user mode: alter database yourDatabaseNameHere set MULTI_USER

6. SQL version. You may want to determine the version and update level of your SQL installation. Run the following query to find out: SELECT @@VERSION

I am certain that there are hundreds of other useful queries, but these are the ones that I found myself using the most. Hopefully they will help you out as well.


Backup Exec error ordinal 450 and urlmon.dll

While opening Backup Exec 11d to check the backup this morning, I got a slew of errors which related to urlmon.dll. After starting all of the BE services which were down, I started receiving this error “The ordinal 450 could not be located in the dynamic link library urlmon.dll”. I ran a couple Google searches and really did not find anything, this seemed like a new issue.

Being that BE relies on XML and IE quite a bit, I attempted to open Internet Explorer and it would not open. It didn’t generate any errors, but it would just open and close immediately. Figuring that this was related to a recent update to Internet Explorer 8, I decided to reboot the server, which worked! After logging back onto the server after the reboot, I watched as the IE8 preferences were loaded and I was then able to open IE8 and go through the first time wizard. Backup Exec also appears to be working properly now.

This is an annoying little issue that is simple to resolve as long as you don’t have to reboot during production hours.


Open Source Everyday – Firefox

One open source tool I use everyday is Firefox web browser from Mozilla. Currently on version 3.5, Firefox is perhaps the main alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer. Now with the release of IE8 and the significant resources impact on many machines, there is an even stronger demand for a stable, easy-to-use web browser.
The open source security process that Mozilla implements for Firefox results in faster bug-fix and a quicker response to network wide threats. This is real security for the user. According to the Brian Krebs, Washington Post, 1/4/2007 blog post “Internet Explorer users Unsafe for 284 Days in 2006”, Firefox users only had nine days of risk. This is a huge difference! Security is the top priority for Firefox coders.
Comparisons such as installation file size show that Firefox i smuch more compact as well. Firefox 3.5 is a 7.7MB download, while IE8 for Windows XP weighs in at 16.1MB, more than twice the size. Firefox will also run in a portable mode from a thumb drive or other removable storage. This is excellent for travelers who like to carry favorites lists with them. All data is stored on the thumb drive when browsing, which also increases user privacy and security.

As a Network Manager I use Firefox for managing Cisco networking devices, as I have often experienced errors using IE in the past. Firefox connects to the device every time.

Firefox Resources:
Firefox Tweak Guides
Download Firefox
8 Easy Firefox Tweaks for Super Fast Web Browsing

TrueCrypt – Drive Encryption

I recently replaced my laptop and decided to encrypt the hard drive. I use Absolute Computrace for system recovery if lost or stolen, but this does not protect the data. Security experts recommend using encryption with recovery tools. The point of this is that if the hard drive is removed from the system with the recovery tool installed, the data can be accessed without activation the recovery features when reported missing.
After checking out several proposals for enterprise encryption packages, I remembered I had used TrueCrypt to encrypt a thumb drive. It worked great for that purpose so I gave it a shot on my new laptop.
Version 6.2a download is very quick (3.04MB) for Windows Vista/XP/2000. There are also options for Mac OS X and OpenSUSE and Ubuntu Linux distros. As with most open source tools, source code is easily obtained from the website as well.
Installation was painless and I was quickly ready for encryption. There are a couple of options at this point: encrypt entire drive including system partions, etc. or create and encrypted folder on the drive for critical data. This option will show a file on the directory listing that cannot be accessed without the password key that you generate. (NOTE: without the key (or Rescue Disk) the company website claims that there is no way to access data.) For key generation, I used a random tool I found on a Google search. Link is at the bottom. I created a recommended twenty character key. I chose to encrypt the entire hard drive. I followed all of the instructions, including backing up my few data files and proceeded with encryption. This took approximately five hours for a 160GB drive that is 30% full. Make sure you have plenty of power available and don’t need to use the system. Power failure during encryption will lead to data loss. The encryption completed, I rebooted, entered my key and XP loaded right up.
So far I have noticed two performance hits; system hibernate, XP completely locked up on recovery and I had to power cycle. I had the same issue copying 30GB of data to the laptop from a network share. Twice XP completely locked up. Other than that, normal operations seems to be fine.

So once again, an open source tool fits the need! Password Generator)

Openfiler – Symantec CPS Destination

I have been testing Openfiler 2.3 iSCSI as a Backup Destination for Symantec CPS 12.5 using Microsoft software iSCSI initiator as the connector. It is working great! I am using Cisco Gigabit switchports with jumbo frames enabled and the performance seems to be fine. Getting ready to add some additional servers to really test the load.

Key Point: in the MS iSCSI config, MAKE SURE the auto-connect on reboot box is checked.

Spiceworks 4.0 Network Management Tool

Spiceworks launched 4.0 last month and yesterday released the first patch. This new version really opens up the possibilites of Spiceworks
4.0 highlights include: Exchange 2007 support, updated IT User Portal (think IT Intranet), Network Mapping (still in beta), Windows Event ID Collaboration, Twitter Integration, cc other Users or Staff on Help Desk tickets.

We loaded the final beta on the production server and it went smoothly. Loaded the general release a few days later and everything is great. Installation (or upgrade) takes no more than 15 minutes.

Cool Feature Alert: Dell users, get the script for auto-populating the Purchase Date and Warranty Date of your Dell servers, desktops and laptops. It works great and will save lots of manual data entry.

Anyone using Spiceworks already will appreciate the new features. If you are not using Spiceworks, PLEASE check it out! It is STILL FREE.