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WServerNews (formerly W2Knews) - Hardware Hell

Vol. 17, #2 - January 9, 2012 - Issue #861

Hardware Hell

  1. Editor's Corner    
    • Hardware Hell
    • Endless Restart
    • Memory Madness
    • Monitor Artifacts
    • Audio Badness
    • Rubber Feet
    • Tip of the Week
    • Recommended for Learning
    • Send Feedback
  2. Admin Toolbox
    • Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. Webinars & Seminars
    • System Center Universe 2012
    • Microsoft Management Summit 2012
    • TechNet Webcast: Live! IT Time: Private Cloud Chat (Episode 3) (Level 200)
    • TechNet Webcast: Troubleshooting Office 365 and BPOS-S Services Using MOSDAL 4.0 (Level 200)
    • Cisco Webcast: Cisco Unified Communication Platform (Cisco on Cisco series)
    • Cisco Webcast: Inside Cisco IT - Data Centers and Virtualization
    • VMware Webcast: Introduction to Virtualization
  4. Tech Briefing
    • Top Official Microsoft Blog Posts of 2011
    • Privacy Safeguards of Office 365
    • Q&A on MS11-100
    • Cisco Ends Sales of Umi Personal Telepresence Product
    • Preparing for Your Worst Nightmare
  5. Windows Server News
    • A guide to Windows Azure and the cloud
    • Enterprise IT cloud wish list for 2012
    • Piecing together VMware's cloud strategy
    • Why 2012 won't be the year of VDI 
  6. WServerNews FAVE Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff.
  7. WServerNews - Product of the Week
    • Accident or Malicious? Find out with Centrify DirectAudit for Windows

 

Accident or Malicious?

With Centrify's detailed recordings of privileged user sessions, you've got a better way of knowing whether suspicious activity on Windows Servers is a result of unintentional actions or malicious insider. Capturing detailed actions of privileged users is critical in today's business environment where IT outsourcing, off-shoring and contractorsare the norm. Compliance regulations require documenting what users do with the privileges granted to them and how their actions impact the IT environment. Log files are well suited to aggregating and correlating events for alerting purposes, but for a full accounting of what specific actions were taken there is no substitute for a high-fidelity recording of individual user sessions. 

View Demo Now

 

Editor's Corner

Hardware Hell

Your PC is rebooting constantly, your display has sparkles and your audio crackles. You've got 8 sticks of RAM installed in your server and it's behaving kind of funny. And to top it all off, you've lost one of the little rubber feet on the bottom of your laptop.

Welcome to hardware hell? bwahahahaha!!!

This week I thought I'd relate a few of my favorite hardware horror stories and how you can approach troubleshooting various kinds of hardware issues with PCs, laptops and servers. You probably have a few stories of your own - email me if you'd like to share them with other readers.

But first here's the obligatory XKCD comic on what you should do when you see those funny little lights light up on your server: http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325931745421

Endless Restart

You turn on your PC and after a couple of seconds it powers off and then on again, off then on again, endlessly. Each time it doesn't even get through POST. What should you do?

First, try a CMOS reset. Some motherboards may have a jumper to do this. If your motherboard has a CMOS reset button, press that but make sure the power is off when you do it.

If that doesn't work, try pulling the hard drive and reseating the RAM and video card. Also pull all the power and data cables from the motherboard, then plug them all back in again. Power the machine on you'll get a POST message about a missing hard drive. Shut the system off, reconnect the hard drive, and turn it on again.

Still doesn't work? You probably need a new motherboard.

Memory Madness

RAM can trip you up in lots of different ways. For example, if your system has some free RAM slots and you add more RAM that doesn't match the existing RAM (i.e. the new RAM has different SPD data) then your motherboard can get, well, confused. You can try using the tool CPU-Z to troubleshoot this issue--just put in one set or RAM at a time and run this utility to find out what the SPD info is for each set of RAM. (See the Admin Toolbox section of this newsletter for a link to this and other hardware troubleshooting tools.)

The reason why you should use CPU-Z instead of just looking up the specifications on the RAM vendor's website is because RAM for bleeding-edge systems can occasionally fail to meet the vendor's advertised timings. And of course, never use RAM that's not designed for the specifications of your system's processor. For example, don't try to use 1600 MHz RAM if the processor was designed to work with 1066 or 1333 MHz RAM.

Here's another story: Bob has have eight sticks of RAM in his server and it's behaving kind of funny. Could be one of the RAM sticks is bad, so Bob runs Memtest86+ and it suggests this might be the case, but which stick is the problem one?

Standard way of troubleshooting: pull out all the RAM, then put in two sticks and run Memtest. If no problem, try a different pair of sticks. Repeat until the bad stick has been identified or until all possible combinations have been tried touch.

Geek way of troubleshooting: use an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of each stick of RAM in your system. Any stick that shows a temperature a few degrees higher than the other sticks may be bad (you can use Memtest to verify). I've heard that support engineers at a popular system vendor often use this approach. The theory behind it is that the resistance of a stick goes up when it's about to fail, and the higher the resistance the more heat is generated.

Monitor Artifacts

You occasionally see "sparklies" when you display certain web pages or images on your LCD monitor. What could be causing these visual artifacts?

Begin by simplifying. If you're using a KVM, remove that and connect your system directly to the monitor. KVMs should be the first thing you should suspect whenever you have a mysterious video problem.

If this doesn't work, try swapping video cards with another machine. Try swapping cables too. Make sure you're using DVI not VGA for connecting your video card to your monitor.

If that doesn't work, you've probably got some kind of RF interference happening. This can be difficult to troubleshoot try using a more expensive video cable, running the cable differently, rearranging the cabling inside the system, moving the monitor around on your desk, moving your microwave oven to another room, or wearing a tin foil hat.

Audio Badness

You're playing a game on your PC when you should be working, and your audio stream occasionally "crackles" which is annoying you no end. What could be causing this?

Could be a driver problem with your onboard sound chip check the manufacturer's website for an updated driver. Onboard sound chips are sometimes poorly isolated from interference caused by other chips on the motherboard, so you could try buying a professional quality PCI-e sound card, or you could go cheap and get a generic USB sound card and see if that solves the problem.

Also, pay close attention to the type of "crackling" you're hearing. If you hear gaps or dropouts in the audio stream, or if your system occasionally blue-screens, or if it happens when the system is under heavy processor load, it's probably a software (driver) problem with your integrated audio. If however you hear static, clipping or some kind of distortion, it's more likely some kind of interference.

Rubber Feet

Some laptops have little rubber feet under them so they will sit firmly on hard surfaces. Even some mice have little rubber feet they're so cute?

Anyways, what can you do when you lose one of these rubber feet and your laptop rocks while you type on it? Start by contacting your vendor to see if they have replacements they can send you. If the vendor says that you need an entire new bottom for your laptop's case, you can either go with this (if your machine is under warranty) or you can roll your own using Sugru (see the Admin Toolbox section for a link to this cool stuff).

Tip of the Week

Here's an example of how to resolve a problem where installing an older application on Windows 7 x64 created a driver compatibility issue that prevented the CD/DVD drive from functional. I tried to get an old CD-burning program installed in Windows XP Mode on a 64-bit Windows 7 workstation and my CD/DVD drives stopped working on the machine. I soon determined out that this happened because the CD-burning program installed an old and incompatible driver (W2K3x64, unsigned) which disabled the Windows 7 driver. The way I determined this was by opening Device Manager, opening the properties of the CD/DVD drive, selecting the Drivers tab, and clicking Driver Details. This showed that there were two drivers for the device: cdrom.sys (Microsoft's in-box driver) and an additional third-party driver from the vendor of the old CD-burning program. Installing the vendor's program under Windows XP Mode had disabled the cdrom.sys driver and enabled the vendor's driver, but unfortunately the vendor's driver was an unsigned driver designed for Windows Server 2003 x64 that didn't work under Windows 7 x64. What to do? 

To get my CD/DVD drives working again, I had to delete the UpperFilters registry key found under HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}. That's because installing the CD-burning program under Windows XP Mode had created this registry key in Windows 7. For more details concerning this issue and how to resolve it, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article: 
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932362640

Moral of the story: Don't be cheap if you upgrade to a new OS, make sure you get upgraded versions of your apps as well ;-)

Recommended for Learning

Here are a few books and online resources that can help you advance your skills and career as an IT pro:

The MCITP Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-646): Windows Server 2008 Server Administrator from Microsoft Press provides you with the hands-on training with Windows Server 2008 R2 that you'll need to pass exam 70-646 on your way to earning your MCITP certification. The book is pretty good, and I should know as I was its technical reviewer (he says quite modestly). But if you find any errors however you can blame them on the author not me (he says rather defensively). Seriously though, it's a good book that walks you through deploying, administering, virtualizing, securing, and running Windows Server 2008 R2. Buy this book so the authors and their families can eat. Just kidding or am I? Hey, I'm an author too and my kitchen cupboard is stacked with boxes of KD?
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932431625 

Building the Mobile Internet from Cisco Press provides a fascinating in-depth look at the protocols, architectures and technologies used for building mobility into the Internet. I read through portions of this book and I'm happy to say that doing so has increased my nerd quotient since I finally understand the details of how Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) works (lol). The book doesn't quite reach down to the hand-holding how-to level but it's definitely essential background reading for network engineers tasked with designing, planning or implementing mobility into their wireless networks. http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932449796

VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise: Planning Deployment of Virtualization Servers (2nd Edition) from Prentice Hall is a comprehensive guide on how to plan, deploy and manage VMware products like ESX Server and vSphere. The book is very well written and easy to read, and you can tell the authors have real-world experience and know what they re talking about. If I were tasked to implement a VMware solution for a company, I would start by reading this book right through from cover to cover to refresh my understanding of the subject. Nuff said.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932535046

The TechNet Cloud Hub is the place to go if you are looking for cloud solutions, cloud training and anything else on Microsoft cloud technologies. Check out the four-part video series Demystifying the Microsoft Virtualization Stack and other great learning resources on this site:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326110946179 

Send Feedback

Email me at wsn@mtit.com if you have feedback about anything in this newsletter. Also let me know if you have any tools to recommend, tips you'd like to suggest or stores you'd like to share and I'll be happy to consider covering them in a future issue of this newsletter.

Be sure to forward this newsletter to a friend or colleague who hasn't seen it. They can subscribe here.

And save this newsletter it could be worth a lot someday, like when you lose one of those little rubber feet on the bottom of your laptop!

You can also follow me on Twitter here.

Cheers,
Mitch Tulloch

 

Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

Tired of your Active Directory management tools? Centralize and simplify all Windows and AD management without scripting.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326111293875 

Accident or Malicious? Learn whether suspicious activity  on Windows Servers is a result of unintentional actions or malicious insider. View Demo:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326111370864

mPowerTools - an AD Admin essential!  200+ reports, bulk import/export, scheduling, GPO/File Share Reports. Eliminate scripting! Only $1499!
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326111441726

Veeam Webinar: Unify Data Protection across VMware and Hyper-V
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1326111509907

CPU-Z can help when you need to troubleshoot mismatched RAM issues and other system problems:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932753078

Memtest86+ is a good tool for identifying RAM that may be failing:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932764859

You may be able to use a laser-guided infrared thermometer to identify RAM that may be failing. Here's one that seems highly recommended:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932778312
 

 

Webinars & Seminars

System Center Universe 2012

There's still time to get in on System Center Universe 2012, a one-day event in Austin, Texas on January 19, 2012.  The conference focusses the powerful new capabilities of the System Center 2012 family or products.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932831078

Microsoft Management Summit 2012

MMS is where skilled IT professionals can meet to increase their technical expertise through hands-on training, breakout sessions and interacting with industry leaders in desktop and device management, datacenter, and cloud technologies. MMS 2012 will be in Las Vegas from April 16-20, 2012, and January 27 is the last day for Early Bird Registration and a savings of up to US $275 off the standard registration price.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932871578

TechNet Webcast: Live! IT Time: Private Cloud Chat (Episode 3) (Level 200)

Have questions about Microsoft's Private Cloud solutions? This chat series can provide you with the answers you need. Target audience is IT Decision Maker and IT Generalist.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932917062

Previous webcasts in this series can be found on the IT Pro Exchange blog:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932929187

TechNet Webcast: Troubleshooting Office 365 and BPOS-S Services Using MOSDAL 4.0 (Level 200)

Describes the newest version of Microsoft Online Services Diagnostics and Logging (MOSDAL) 4.0 that simplifies troubleshooting issues within a specific Microsoft Office 365 or Microsoft Business Productivity Online Services Standard (BPOS-S) service. Target audience is IT Decision Maker and IT Generalist.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325932981125

Cisco Webcast: Cisco Unified Communication Platform (Cisco on Cisco series)

Live Webcast on January 10, 2012 to update you on the latest additions to Cisco's Unified Communications portfolio. Includes live demonstrations from Cisco Public Sector Collaboration Engineers Marci Carpenter and Josh Dolby.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933062843

Cisco Webcast: Inside Cisco IT - Data Centers and Virtualization

Live webcast on January 12, 2012 provides you with insider knowledge of how Cisco is using technology internally to meet business challenges.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933109953

VMware Webcast: Introduction to Virtualization

VMware webcast on January 18, 2012 covers virtualization basics including the VMware vSphere 5, the new vSphere Storage Appliance and VMware GO. The webcast targets those with little or no virtualization experience and helps understand how virtualization and VMware can help organizations down capital and operational costs. http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933152046
 

 

Tech Briefing

Top Official Microsoft Blog Posts of 2011

A look back at the top 10 posts that were published on The Official Microsoft Blog in 2011, ranked according to readership:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933210859

Privacy Safeguards of Office 365

Concerned about cloud privacy for your business? Microsoft recently published a white paper that describes the data protection policies, procedures and tools built into Office 365:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933259562

Q&A on MS11-100

Still got questions or concerns about Microsoft's December 2011 Out-of-Band Security Update MS11-100 that was released to address the issue described in Microsoft Security Advisory 2659883 "Vulnerability in ASP.NET Could Allow Denial of Service"? Check out the Q&A on this subject on the Microsoft Security Response Center Blog:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933314984

Cisco Ends Sales of Umi Personal Telepresence Product

Jeffrey Burt of eWeek describes how Cisco is continuing to restructure its business while expanding its video offerings to meet rapidly growing demand:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933357890

Preparing for Your Worst Nightmare

When planning a disaster recovery strategy for SharePoint 2010, take heed of these 7 tips from BizTech Magazine:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933402421 

 

Windows Server News

A guide to Windows Azure and the cloud

Looking to move to Windows Azure or wondering what it's all about? This guide is for cloud architects, developers and IT pros.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933470890

Enterprise IT cloud wish list for 2012

Enterprises have some wishes for the cloud for 2012. They'd like price cuts, cloud security standards and realistic coverage of the market.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933509921

Piecing together VMware's cloud strategy

Can VMware's lead in server virtualization translate to cloud supremacy? A bevy of challengers will make VMware's goal of bringing cloud to the enterprise a difficult one.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933550000

Why 2012 won't be the year of VDI

In 2012, VDI will be just one way to deliver desktops. IT pros will use various forms of desktop virtualization to deliver enterprise apps to mobile end users.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325933588859 

 

WServerNews FAVE Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

I've been a fan of HP calculators since I bought the original HP-35 back in the mid-70s during my university years. If you're a fellow affectionado like myself, why not take a walk down memory lane at The Museum of HP Calculators: 
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325934011406

The Commodore 64 computer is now 30 years old, let's celebrate!
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325934024515

Personally though, I preferred my Vic 20. Check out this Youtube video of William Shatner sharpening his pitching skills in this 80s commercial:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325934035250 

At the time of writing this newsletter 138,394 people have decided to learn how to code in 2012. Why not you?
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325934049781 

Spiderman, spiderman, does whatever a silkworm can?
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1325934063953 

 

WServerNews - Product of the Week

Accident or Malicious?

With Centrify's detailed recordings of privileged user sessions, you've got a better way of knowing whether suspicious activity on Windows Servers is a result of unintentional actions or malicious insider. Capturing detailed actions of privileged users is critical in today's business environment where IT outsourcing, off-shoring and contractorsare the norm. Compliance regulations require documenting what users do with the privileges granted to them and how their actions impact the IT environment. Log files are well suited to aggregating and correlating events for alerting purposes, but for a full accounting of what specific actions were taken there is no substitute for a high-fidelity recording of individual user sessions. 

View Demo Now

 

 

WServerNews - Editors

Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization.  Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros.  Mitch is also a seven-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. For more information see www.mtit.com.

Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press.  She is also a Content Expert for Jones International University where she co-developed the four-course Information Security Management specialization of the Masters of Business Administration program.