CD won’t rip? Try a different drive.

A few weeks ago I uncovered a stash of CDs from my college and early bachelor days that, for one reason or another, I’d never ripped to MP3 format.

When I started ripping the discs, I got one clue as to why I never ripped some of them: Some of them made the DVD drive in my Dell laptop sound like a Commodore 1541. If you ever owned a Commodore, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t ever owned a Commodore, let’s just say my drive groaned in protest very loudly, and in exchange for putting up with the noise and insanely long rip times, I received a bunch of errors and a few MP3s that played really poorly.

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Victory ping.

“Whatever happened to the Legions of Doom server?” a coworker asked me as a technician swapped her computer.

I smiled a wicked smile. “Victory ping!” I then turned to my computer. “Ping pmprint02. Request timed out. Request timed out. Request timed out. Request timed out,” I read as the words scrolled onto my screen.

“Victory ping?” my boss–yes, my lunch ninja boss–came over and asked.

“I know that box,” the technician said. There’s a good reason he didn’t say “server.”

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Don’t e-mail yourself a list of all your passwords and bank account numbers to yourself from work

So my buddy, we’ll call him Bob, runs Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for a big company. DLP is software that limits what you can do with sensitive information, in order to block it from going out of the company. The NSA wasn’t using DLP back when Ed Snowden was working for them; they probably are now.

Sometimes DLP blocks people from sending their own personal information. Doing so is their right–it’s their information–but from a security point of view, I’m really glad DLP kept them from e-mailing their entire life around in plaintext.

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Why I don’t scan networks with my own credentials

I scan the network I’m paid and sworn to protect on a nearly daily basis. I experienced a problem with the account I use for that, and I tested by scanning a small quantity of machines (my own and my cubicle neighbor’s) with my own account to make sure the problem was the account, not the tool.

Fixing the account has become a problem–my boss’ problem now–but when I told him about it, I said I could scan the network with my personal admin account, but didn’t want to. One reason has to do with liability and HR. The other, believe it or not, is technical.

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The wrong way to reboot a server

In my day, I did plenty of hardware maintenance in the field. In fact, the only time one of my bosses ever saw me at work, I was swapping out failed memory in a server.

“How’d you know it needed to be done?” he asked.

“It told me.” That’s why I always loved HP Proliant servers. My boss looked confused at my answer but didn’t ask me to elaborate.

But not all of my field maintenance always went quite so smoothly. Read more

The Legions of Doom come after a server

I’ve been after this guy to patch his server for a few weeks. He keeps getting sidetracked, which is understandable, but there are ways to deal with that.

Last week, we started getting close to getting it done. On Friday, the plan was together and it was almost ready to go. All we needed was to get final approval on the plan, get a change control in place, and then the work would be scheduled and we’d have a commitment and a set date where the work would be done. And that would end the sidetracks.

Then, on Monday, someone asked me if he was out of the office. He hadn’t said anything about going on vacation, but, indeed, he had an out-of-office autoreply set. Among other things, it said that super heroes need vacations too, and if the Legions of Doom are attacking, to contact this other guy. Read more

The ghost in the network

My logging system died rather abruptly one week. It started with the Active Directory account some of our servers use locking. I got the account unlocked–someone else has those rights–and the system came back to life for a while, but then we had to repeat, and each time we repeated, “a while” grew shorter and shorter, bottoming out at about 2 minutes, 40 seconds.

The way you troubleshoot problems like this is by looking at logs. The problem is, you can’t collect very many logs in 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

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