Clonezilla good alternative for Symantec Ghost

If you clone drives for desktops or servers you are probably familiar with Symantec Ghost program or TrueImage.  if you are on a budget Clonezilla is a good alternative. It is free and opensource software that allows you to copy an entire computer hard drive from one computer to another hard drive creating an exact copy of the computer.

This is useful to just have a backup of your computer or if you are running a business and need to deploy many identical standard desktops for your employees. Two versions are available a Live version which is booted from a CD-ROM and suitable for a single PC and a Server edition that can deploy a computer image to up to 4o PCs.

 

ASUS AN8 SLI Deluxe not booting

The other day I rebooted my system and it would not boot up all the way. The last message it was hung at was the ACPI check. When I am troubleshooting I remove all unnecessary devices. When I removed my USB Sansa mp3 player, the system booted normally. This may be the work with other motherboards as well.

WoW: Wrath of the Lich King

My brother-in-law and I waited, with many other devoted gamers, at GameStop to get my copy of the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Expansion Pack at midnight last night. We first went to a popular GameSpot nearby and waited dutifully on line with the other WoW addicts. About 30 minutes before midnight, GameStop employees made the rounds to see if everyone had their reserve receipts. Oops! Unlike many who were there, I regrettably did not reserve a copy before showing up. After being told that there were only enough copies for those that reserved them, we went to another GameStop in the nearby area on the off chance that they might have extra copies. We were in luck! Not only was the line shorter we were able to get our copy (cash only) 15 minutes before midnight.

Blizzard decided to put the install files on a DVD instead of the 4 CDs that the last expansion, Burning Crusade, came on. By 1:00 am I was installing. By 1:30am, it was patching. I was somewhat surprised how many patches had been released before the launch. I watched the Lich King cinematic trailer before the log on screen. The boat to the Northrend was full of gamers who undoubtedly followed my actions. The city was like any other city and the excitement soon wore off and tiredness set in and I was off to bed since I had work the next day. I overheard many patrons that were waiting on line had taken a week off work for this event in anticipation of the long nights ahead on their way to level 80 and new content. I will have to see what the world offers when I have some free time.

Automatic Updates Failed. Error number: 0x8DDD0018

I attempted to update a windows 2003 server using windows update but I go the following error:

windowsupdate.JPG

[Error number: 0x8DDD0018]
The site cannot continue because one or more of these Windows services is not running:
·    Automatic Updates (allows the site to find, download and install high-priority updates for your computer)
·    Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) (helps updates download more quickly and without problems if the download process is interrupted)
·    Event Log (keeps a record of updating activities to help with troubleshooting, if needed)
To make sure these services are running:
1. Click Start, and then click Run.
2. Type services.msc and then click OK.
3. In the list of services, double-click on Automatic Updates and then click Properties.
4. In the Startup type list, select Automatic and click Apply.
5. Verify that the Service status is started, if the Service Status is Stopped click on the Start Button.
6. In the list of services, double-click on Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) and then click Properties.
7. In the Startup type list, select Manual and click Apply.
8. Verify that the Service status is started, If the Service Status is Stopped click on the Start Button.
9. In the list of services, double-click on Event Log and then click Properties.
10. In the Startup type list, select Automatic and click Apply.
11. Verify that the Service status is started, If the Service Status is Stopped click on the Start Button.

I verified that the services were running, but I got the same error. After some research I found that changing the Startup type on the Automatic Update Service to ‘Automatic’ fixed the problem. Sounds like a bug to me.

Forgot your administrator password?

If you work with Windows servers, you will eventually lock yourself out of the server by forgetting the administrator password. There are a few different ways to reset the password but I have found the NTPasswd utility to be the most reliable. I have used the NTPasswd utility many times to reset the administrator password on Windows 2000 / XP and  Server 2000/2003 machines and it came in handy just a few days ago.

Download the iso image filed from the bootdisk section of the web site and burn it to a CD. They also have a floppy disk version if you still have one of those. There are even instructions how to use a USB key to boot from. Boot the system from CD / floppy and it will load a Linux kernel. Don’t get scared if you don’t know Linux. It is completely menu driven and for most machines all you’ll have to do is press enter a few times.

It works by mounting the hard drive and accessing the password hash file directly. This utility does not work on Windows dynamic drives such as those drive with software mirroring. Also any file with EFS protection will not be recoverable since it is encrypted using the original password. The CD has many drivers for hard drive controller cards and you can even load a third party driver from USB key / floppy if they ones on the CD don’t work. Once the drive has been mounted the menu will prompt you to choose the windows hash file location. The default is already select and most cases you will accept the default. The menu will prompt you to choose the local account you want to change the password for. You will most likely choose the administrator account. At this point you can set the password to something or set it to blank. It is recommended to set it to blank. After you do this you must remember to save the changes to the hard drive.

Reboot the system and let it boot into Windows and log in as administrator.

Open the Targus DEFCON 1 Cable Lock in 15 Seconds

My job provided me with the Targus DEFCON® 1 Retractable Cable Lock for my work laptop. It looked bulkier than other laptop locks but I was surprised that within a few minutes I had discovered how easy it was to open. Applying firm and constant pressure on the release button allowed all the combination dials to turn at the same time. Turning the right most dial when the first correct number is reached the first dial would stop turning while the other dials keep turning. As you keep turning the right dial the second then the third and last numbers line up and the lock releases.

Another Use for a Hanger

In programing there is the concept of code re-use, which is re-using the same code for something else. This applies in the real world too. I found a new use for a clothes hanger. It holds my various Ethernet cables so I can tell how long they are. I guess it’s not a new use; I’m still hanging something on it, but it works.Network Cable hanger

Remote Assistance / Remote Control revisited

Back in March I wrote about single click remote control but I found another quick and dirty way  to provide remote assistance. Hamachi! No, not tuna. Hamachi is a VPN solution that does not require you to setup any sever or open any ports and best of all, the standard edition is free. You download the software and install it on the computer you want to remote control, then download and install it on the computer you are controlling  from. The installation is easy and the program walks you through the configuration.

Now here is the interesting stuff. It works by creating another network connector that gets a static IP from the Hamachi network. Each new installtion gets it’s own unique IP address whick allows your computer to communicate with other computers on the Hamachi network. Ok, I thought to myself, “This must be hacker paradise!”. But in order to connect to another computer you must create a unique “network” name and password so only those that know your network name and password combination can connect. It’s sort of a VPN inside of a VPN. You would think that this would have high overhead and perform poorly, but it uses UDP peer-to-peer packets to communicate so there is less overhead than a traditional VPN. Also it allows for NAT traversal so you don’t have to open ports most firewalls ( some firewall rules are very stringent).  A paid version is also available that provides some additional features but using Hamachi and Windows remote desktop or VNC you can connect to any computer easily.

https://secure.logmein.com/products/hamachi/vpn.asp

Hamachi

How To Setup Single Click Remote Control Support

If you’ve ever had to help friends or relatives with computer problems over the phone this will help you get them out of you hair faster. Ultra VNC SC lets you control a users desktop without having the user do anything except double click a file. Here’s how:

To set up remote support you need to do a few things

  1. Get a dynamic dns name.
  2. Set up your firewall
  3. Configure the program

Get a dynamic DNS Name

  1. Now to get to your computer you can use the IP the ISP has assigned you. Problem: Your ISP will more than likely use DHCP to assign you an IP so at any given time you may not know your current IP. Solution: Dynamic DNS! Go to http://dyndns.org or http://tzo.com or http://deerfield.com or any other dynamic DNS site. In this example, I use DynDNS.org.
  2. Sign up for an account (free) and create a host name that you will use to reference you computer. Ex. homepc.homeip.net (one of the several subnets available).Create a new host entry under Host Services. The site will automatically detect the IP that you are currently accessing the site from so sign in from the place you want to connect to. I.e. your house.

DynDNS

This will maintain your current IP info as a global internet address. When every your IP changes you will need to login into DynDNS and update the IP registed. Newer routers have a Dynamic DNS feature which will let you automatically update DynDNS whenever your IP changes. The other option is to use a DNS Update client that automatically updates your register IP from your PC. These clients are available on the DynDNS site.

linksys_dyndns.JPG

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