Book One

For the past number of years the only books I have read have been technical manuals and training guides.  It’s all a bit necessary when you work in IT.  You have to keep pace with the changes in technology and all that.  Last year I decided I needed to break up the reading with a few non-technical books.  I started with Leviathan Wakes from the excellent The Expanse series written by James S.A. Corey.  I completed the entire set of available books with two more on the way in the next few years.  My intention is to read a few more books this year to break things up a bit from the tech stuff.

Book One for 2018 is Artemis by Andy Weir.

70-697 Success!!

Wow, look at what a bit of focus does!  We took the course about three weeks ago, a couple of weeks of prep, and success on the exam.  I can safely say this was one of the toughest I’ve had to do in a few years.  On to 70-698 and MCSA: Windows 10.

Photo Class

We’ve been taking a photo class for the past couple of months to better understand our cameras and learn some new skills.  Here are a couple of photos from last week’s night shoot.

2017-11-06 20-09

2017-11-06 20-23

2017-11-06 20-41

2017-11-06 20-55

WSUS Application Pool Crashes

The Problem:

I’ve run into this issue recently where software updates don’t deploy successfully to client machines in Configuration Manager but everything on the surface appears to be functioning correctly.  I did some digging and found in the WUAhandler.log file there were entries like this:

OnSearchComplete – Failed to end search job. Error = 0x80244022.
Scan failed with error = 0x80244022

This repeated every handful of minutes.  There are a few different issues that are tied to this but the one that impacted my situation was the WSUSPool in the IIS Application Pools.  In my case the WsusPool was in a stopped state.  Restarting it allowed it to run for a few minutes then fail again.

The Fix:

  1. Launch the Internet Information Services (IIS) console.
  2. Expand the default server, select Application Pools.
  3. Select WsusPool.
  4. Select Advanced Settings from the Actions pane.
  5. Scroll down to the Recycling section and select Private Memory Limit (KB).
  6. Change the default 1843200 to 4000000. Click Ok.
  7. From an elevated command prompt cycle IIS: iisreset
  8. Launch the Configuration Manager console and navigate to Assets and Compliance and select a sample device.
  9. Initiate the Software Updates Deployment Evaluation from the client.
  10. View the WAUhandler.log file for updated activity and confirm the error messages have stopped.

IIS_Wsus_AppPool

WsusPool

IIS_Wsus_AppPool_2

Private Memory Limit (KB)

Microsoft Support Diagnostics

Back in the “old days” when I was on a team supporting hundreds of servers we would occasionally encounter an issue that we just couldn’t figure out.  We were lucky then to have a third level team we could call who had a direct link to Microsoft for support, no questions asked, no credit card required.

We would call them up, or fill in the form on the support website, and a triage tech would call to take some information and then a tech would call.  The tech would send us a link and have us download a tool that we would run on the server.  The Microsoft Product Support Report Tool would run and gather up, into one tidy package, all of the many logs and settings found on the server and wrap it up ready for delivery to the tech for analysis.  We would then be provided with a temporary ftp address where we would send the package.  The tech would take a look, stir with whatever magic diagnostic wands they had at their disposal, and provide us with a summary of what they had found.  If the results didn’t tell us exactly what the problem was it would often give us a pointer to the direction we should be looking for a possible solution.

That’s gone now.

What you have now is something equally useful and interesting.  The Microsoft Support Diagnostics portal gives you pages and pages of typical items that might require diagnosis ranging from Baseline analysis, Exchange Server, IIS diagnosis, Windows Server diagnosis and almost everything else under the Microsoft sun.

So it works like this.  You browse to the portal and login with your Microsoft Live ID.  Now that you’re logged in browse through the pages of options to find the diagnostics selection you need.  You run through the diagnostic process and upload the results.  The upload is analyzed and you get feedback that gives you an idea of what is wrong and how to go about fixing it.  A  handy resource.

The Missing Toy from Iceland

So we get to Hertz.  We unload the car, gather up all our gear, unscrew the Action Cam from the mount attached to the rear view mirror….and leave the mount hanging on the rear view mirror.  D’oh!  I called Hertz right away but despite our pending departure they weren’t able to grab the forgotten clamp and run it over to the hotel before we left for Canada.  So anyway, I filled out the lost and found form with Hertz and sent a tweet to @Hertz who jumped right in and said they were on the case.  A couple of weeks pass and I get an email from someone at Hertz asking to confirm the details and then an email arrived from Inga at Hertz in Iceland asking me how much I wanted to spend to ship it.  The next day I get another email with this attached.  And then a week or so later the clamp has arrived in the mailbox.

Toys for Iceland – After Action Report

We’ve been back for a few weeks now and had time to think on the trip a bit and on the toys I took with me to “enhance” the experience.  Let me sum it up by saying that taking all of the toys with me wasn’t a burden because we had a car for most of the time we were there so carrying the extra weight didn’t matter.  Having said that I didn’t actually use all of the items I took.

The Seat Pak was super useful.  All of the goodies we needed close at hand, Elke has one too, we loaded up into our Seat Paks and it made finding what we needed when we needed them super easy.  I continue to have poor experiences when it comes to pens I take when traveling, not the Seat Pak’s fault.  I took a Sharpie fine point which leaked into one of the pockets.  Dammit!  On the positive side, the lining inside the Seat Pak kept the permanent black ink from going anywhere but into the bottom of the pocket it was in.  The Seat Pak itself seems to magically expand to hold all of the normal stuff one might take on a journey and then some.  I can comfortably recommend this for anyone who travels occasionally or frequently.

Next up is the Sony Action Monopod.  It is not a selfie stick.  Really, it’s not.  This was handy at some stops but mostly stayed in the pack.  We unpacked it and had some fun towards the end of the trip.  It’s light, takes up almost no space, and is easy to use so taking it along was ok.  I would take it on the next trip.  This is really one of those “use some common sense” items.  Think about where you are and those around you before you pull this out.

Second of the three Sony Action Cam accessories I took along was the Sony Action Cam Extended Clamp Mount.  This we used almost every day while we were in the car.  We originally clamped this bad boy to one of the door handles.  After checking the view of the camera we discovered we weren’t getting the best shot from that location.  I moved it to clamp to the post where the rear view mirror connects to the windshield.  That did the trick.  We connected the camera and from this spot we could each easily reach up and start the camera if we came upon something interesting and wanted to record.  Very handy.  I’m not sure why but when we returned the car I unscrewed the camera but completely forgot about the clamp and left it clinging helplessly to the rear view mirror.  I contacted Hertz and we’ll see if it makes its way home to Ottawa in the post.

Lastly we have the suction cup.  It never got used.  There were a couple of places where it would have come in handy but the things/sites we would have filmed were on us and gone before we could prepare to actually use the suction cup mount.  I’m going to play with it a bit now that we’re home in the hope that on the next trip we’ll use it more.  Perhaps I’ll buy another cam and stick one outside the car and one inside for easy access.

On a side note, but still related to travel gear, I took my travel tripod with me as well.  I have a most excellent Manfrotto BeFree tripod.  This thing is one of the nicest pieces of photo kit I own.  My company bought it for me as a reward for passing some exams a while back.  I packed this so we could use it to capture some night photos of Aurora Borealis.  Iceland is one of those places you go to for light free photos of the Norther Lights.  Most of our trip the conditions weren’t really good for night photos.  Not the best hotel location, rain, clouds, etc.  When we arrived at Fosshotel Nupar on the day before we arrived back in Reykjavik on check-in the young man at the front desk asked if we wanted to be woken in the night if the night staff spied Norther Lights.  Of course!!  I pulled out the tripod and got everything setup and ready to go so when the knock on the door came I would be able to step out the door and the camera could be deployed without delay.  No such luck.  The clouds rolled in about Midnight and the rain started shortly after that.  Just one more reason to go back to Iceland I guess.