Pachelbel Bedtime

Here is a great video that Fern forwarded to me. It is amazing how closely this guy nails the trials of bedtime.

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Sparklining Excel

According to Wikipedia a sparkline is a

“small, high resolution graphics embedded in a context of words, numbers, images … Whereas the typical chart is designed to show as much data as possible, and is set off from the flow of text, sparklines are intended to be succinct, memorable, and located where they are discussed. Their use inline usually means that they are about the same height as the surrounding text.”

A group has released an open source add-in for Microsoft Excel called TinyGraphs “that creates sparklines, mini column graphs, and area graphs from a row of data. It generates beautiful tiny graphics that are as small as a cell and is useful for visualizing large quantities of data, such as stock prices and exchange rates.”

While I have yet to actually use the add-in it is something that I definitely can see using in a number or reports that I generate at the office.

I’m Back

Well after almost a week of being offline, I’m back. Sorry for the unannounced downtime, but I need to totally upgrade my sever and it has taken awhile to get things back on line. I think most everything is working (I still need to fix some things with the gallery, but the pictures are now displaying). Don’t expect much in the way of new content though, I haven’t had the urge to write here lately, but who knows.

100 Miles

I finally did, I finally ran 100 miles. I completed my 100th mile on Tuesday. I wish I had gotten to this mark sooner, but hey better late than never. It took my 37 runs with and average distance of 2.7 miles and and average pace of 10’04” minutes per mile.

Here’s to the next 100.

A Supreme Nerd God

Supposedly that is what I am, a Supreme Nerd God. At least according the NerdTests.com Here is how I rated:

Overall, you scored as follows:

3% scored higher (more nerdy),
0% scored the same, and
97% scored lower (less nerdy).

What does this mean? Your nerdiness is:

All hail the monstrous nerd. You are by far the SUPREME NERD GOD!!!

No I didn’t cheat, and yes I’m slightly embarrassed at my score. So I challenge you, my loyal readers to take the test, post your results, and let your nerdiness all hang out.

Review: SB EventLog Monitor

SB EventLog MonitorI have only one thing to say about this product, “How did I ever live without it”. If you manage more than one Microsoft Windows Server then you definitely need to be using SB EventLog Monitor.

So what does SB EventLog Monitor do that is so great, it collects, collates, and reports via a web interface upon Microsoft Event Log data. The UNIX world has had syslog forever and a ton of tools to help you manage the logging data generated by servers. I’ve even tried to shoehorn Microsoft Event Log data into some of those products, but it was never a good fit. SB EventLog Monitor allows you to quickly and easily manage and analysis what is going on across all of your servers. It allows you to quickly and easily view and filter error messages from different servers and identify patterns. This is particularly useful with dealing with multiple servers across slow WAN links.

It collects the Event Log data either via a Microsoft VB script that use WMI to collect only the new events or via an agent that you can install on your servers. The other requirements are MySQL, PHP (5.0+), and a web server (apache, IIS). While the install is geared towards running everything on a Microsoft server it is possible to run the database and web server on Linux. In fact that is what I did. The install is really pretty easy, so if you are looking for a relatively simple way to increase the manageability of your servers, then I strongly recommend that you take the time to install the open source SB EventLog Monitor.

Review: Script Your Documentation Instantly

If you are anything like me you probably have little to no documentation on your servers. Probably it is because you don’t have the time or the personal to perform the tedious (and boring) work required; you know it is important, but other things seem to take priority. Well, you no longer have any excuse for not getting it done.

SYDI (Script Your Documentation Instantly) is an open source solution that will document your Windows Servers, MS SQL Servers, and Exchange Organizations. It is a fantastically easy product to use. In its simplest form, it will query an individual server and produce a Microsoft Word document detailing the hardware, software, networking, user accounts and storage settings with a table of contents and loads of other useful information. With a little extra work, you can have it query all of your servers and produce a set of XML files that can be converted in to HTML documents (using an included script) that makes publishing a breeze.

Using SYDI is really simple; it is just a VBS script that is launched from a command prompt. You do need to have Microsoft Word installed on the workstation if you want it to produce the documentation in that format. The software is written by an IT Consultant named Patrick Ogenstad. He has posted some really good how-to guides on his site.

I highly recommend that you take a look at SYDI and use it to help jump start you server documentation project. I did and in about 30 minutes I had published our server configs on our Network Management server.

New Software to Evaluate

While browsing through the depths of Sourceforge I ran across a number of different software packages that really caught my attention. I will begin looking at them in more depth over the next couple of days. I hope to write some reviews of the packages. If you’ve used any of the following software packages I’d love to hear you experience, or if there are ones that you think I should look at then please leave me a comment.

  • SYDI – Network Documentation Project – SYDI is a project aimed to help system administrators in getting started with their Network Documentation. It can document Windows Servers, MS SQL Servers, Exchange Organizations and Linux systems.
  • phpMSAdmin is a tool written in PHP that allows you to administer a Microsoft SQL Server through a web browser, without the need for Windows or the proprietary Enterprise Manager. It allows you to create/modify: databases, tables, views, triggers, etc.
  • SSLBridge An AJAX enabled Samba web GUI that provides users access to corporate documents without any specialized hardware or software clients.
  • RackMonkey is a web-based tool for managing racks of equipment such as web servers, video encoders, routers and storage devices. Using a simple interface you can keep track of what’s where, which OS it runs, when it was installed, who it belongs to etc. RackMonkey is open source software licensed under the GPL.
  • Davenport is a servlet-based WebDAV gateway to a CIFS network. This allows you to access Windows/Samba shares using any web browser. WebDAV clients (such as Windows Web Folders) can upload and download from the shares as if they were local folders.
  • Clonezilla is a partition or disk clone software similar to Ghost. It saves and restores only used blocks in hard drive. By using clonezilla, you can clone a 5 GB system to 40 clients in about 10 minutes.
  • Detritus is a package of programs for aiding power users or systems administrators in finding, and as needed trimming or deleting, the variety of useless files that Windows accumulates, such as tmps, caches, logs, . . . that the MS Disk Cleanup misses.
  • openSIMS is a Security Infrastructure Management Systems that ties together the open source tools used for security event management into a common infrastructure. These tools include NMap, Snort, and many others. The best way to experience openSIMS is by downloading the openSIMS liveCD.
  • php-AD-admin will allow users to update their own AD attributes ( phonenumber etc ) and reset their own passwords. This will improve the quality of the data in your Active Directory by forms validation to create new users/groups etc.
  • PasswordNotify This tool monitors your Active Directory or OpenLDAP server via LDAP on a daily basis, and sends emails out to users who’s account are about to expire. Notification timing, messages, and frequency can all be customized with multiple profiles.
  • FWNUA (Free Windows Network User Accounting) runs silently in a Windows login script and collects data about user logins. It allows more freedom in standardized computer naming. FWNUA keeps track of the workstations so you don’t have to!
  • ManagePC is a tool for remotely administering & controlling XP/2000 machines in an Active Directory environment. It retrieves data on the hardware and software, lets you control currently running services and processes and much more.
  • Active Directory Browser (AD Browser) is a remote browser tool for viewing, managing, personalizing Microsoft(c) Server Active Directory(tm) User accounts. AD Browser could also be used as a LAN Chat application within Enterprise (Company).
  • Weyland is a tool that collects information about a switched network, presents the information in a convenient format, and displays a graph of the spanning tree of the network.
  • DAD is a Windows event log and syslog management tool that allows you to aggregate logs from hundreds to thousands of systems in real time. DAD requires no agents on the servers or workstations. Correlation and analysis is driven through a web front end.
  • SB EventLog Monitor is monitoring and consolidating Windows EventLogs. Events are collected from server using VBS and WMI or by Windows agent. Events are parsed using PHP and YOUR rules and are stored in MySQL database. Email alerts are supported.
  • Pandora FMS is a distributed monitoring and performance Free System. It supports many OS and can monitor applications, services, network daemons, SNMP, OS parameters, and much more.

Science Fair – First Place

Guess who took home 1st Place for her grade level. Ellie did! She did a great job and worked really hard putting it all together. Ellie and Fern have been working on it for the last two months, usually a couple of nights each week. Ellie thought up the experiment (making gas with wet and dry ingredients), from something that she had done with one of her Grandmothers. She made a work book, draw pictures, wrote descriptions of what happened. She made a graph showing the results, helped put together the display board.

Last night at the awards ceremony, she was the first one called up and hard the biggest smile on her face. Every kid who did a project (it was not required) got a medal and the first place winner in each grade got a trophy. We were so proud!

First Time Running

On Wednesday, Ellie had her first experience running. I’ve been running for a while now, and Ellie has always seemed interested in what I was doing. So I recently offered the chance to go with me. On Wednesday night she took the challenge. We had a great time, we started off with some stretching, then out we went. She did great! We started off slowly and went basically one and half times around the block. Towards the end she started to hold her side a little bit, but she kept going. I was really proud of her. After we were done, she told me that she wants to go again.

Here is the graph of her run. She went 6/10 of a mile in a little over 11 minutes. I look forward to running with her again.