Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cisco 3560 power supply hacking

An odd project was dropped on my desk today. It's more of a "how would you do this?" scenario. We've been recently required to replace our existing switchgear on some systems with pre-approved Cisco switches. The catch? The systems are 28v DC. At first look, it's not as bad as I though.
Power is supplied from a Lite-On PA-3131-3-IF power supply, on a separate board. The voltage range is... well a bit odd. At least to an electronics novice such as myself. I was expecting the dual 12v rails and 3.3v supply/return- but what I wasn't expecting was a -53v supply/return. Maybe someone who has designed power supplies can chime in here, but what the heck are they using -53v for? Anyways, for now this project is sidelined, but it sure looks easy enough to toss in a DC-DC power supply and backer board. 


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Windows Process Recorder- Why am I just finding out about this now?

A colleague turned me on to Windows built in Process Recorder. It's designed to record the last 25 clicks a user makes, along with a screenshot of each action. This is amazing. Every once in a while, you find a great tool that you have been oblivious to. I don't do much desktop support these days, but for anyone who does, it's a great resource.

You can read more here: Windows Process Recorder


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Troubleshooting a Synology DS1511j with BBOD and migrating data to another Synology NAS

Let's face it- IT disasters happen when you least expect them. I guess that's what all the planning is for, right?

Anyways, last week one of our Synology Disk Station 1511j NAS's failed to power back up after a DSM update. Thankfully we backup everything twice daily to a larger NAS and had a cold spare on the shelf. What caused this? I'm not sure- the upgrade from 4.3 to 5.0 went normally and the unit power cycled. When the IP did not respond after the allotted time period and the Synology assistant could not find any Disk Stations on our network- that's when I panicked (I kid). A trip to the server room later revealed the unit showed no sign of life outside of a blinking blue power button. (No LAN, hard drive, or status lights.)

After quite a bit of research,  I found this is commonly referred to as the Blue Blink of Death.  Everything I could find online (including a version of the instructions below) failed. I found this artical and easily migrated the disks/data to the cold spare. (You will need a spare equal number Disk Station and spare drive to instal DSM to- YMMV). With the data sorted, I reached out to Synology's online support who sent me the following.


Thank you for contacting Synology Support,

Ill need you to do this trouble shooting test,

Conducting the Power Button LED Light Test

Statically discharge yourself
1.) Remove all peripherals connected to the Synology device (USB, eSATA, Ethernet). Please also remove any RAM you may have added if using a model that has RAM expansion capabilities.
2.) Remove the power cord to the Synology device.
3.) Remove the Cover to the Synology device.
4.) Remove the power cords to the HDD, from the motherboard – or remove the HDD from the Synology system
5.) Connect the power cord to the Synology System
6.) Power up the Synology system and wait five minutes.
7.) What is the status of the power button LED light? Blinking or Solid? ( The power button LED light will be blue on blue on most models, and green on some Rackstation models)


This sadly provided no change and the unit is being RMA'd. I'm still happy with the devices over all and the level of service they have provided, but if we did not have that cold spare on hand, this would have been a nightmare.

It's just not my week. My personal DS209 decided to "loose it's configuration" after a power outtage. I now get the pleasure of recovering the data using this guide found on their website. Ironically, my HP Microserver/Solaris ZFS based NAS is still just humming along with no issues.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lucid Charts - A netadmins best friend.

*Edit- One of my coworkers turned me on to draw.io - I'm no longer using lucid charts.

Today I forgot my Windows/ Visio laptop at the office and I have a network diagram due to the CIO in the morning! I quickly turned to Google and found Lucid Charts, a free* online based flowchart software with Google Apps integration. This really saved my bacon. Will this replace Visio in my toolkit? No. But I have a great fallback if I need a quick diagram.

Check them out here: Lucid Charts

*Free for a basic version, paid for more features.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sysadmin toolkit- what do you use?

I was asked recently what tools I use on a daily or weekly basis. Here's what I came up with:

mRemoteNG- This is my favorite tool- it combines multiple RDC/VNCmanagement, with Putty, Telnet, and SSH. 
Citrix XenCenter- for all your XEN host management needs.
VMware vSphere Client - for all your VMware ESXi management needs.

Putty- SSH and Telnet
TFTPD - TFPT server
Advanced IP Scanner- Network IP scanner
Wireshark - Network Protocol Analyzer
iperf - Network Speed testing
Cisco ASDM- ASA GUI Management Interface

Tech Tools
KeePass- Password Management
Filezilla- FTP/SFTP Client
Notepad++- Advanced Text Editor
WinDirStat- Visual File Sizing tool
Supermicro IPMI View- Manage Multiple IP
Clonezilla- System Imaging 
7Zip- Archive tool
Crystal Disk Mark- Hard drive performance testing
YUMI- USB Multiboot
Unetbootin- ISO -> USB tool
NiNite- Download multiple tools listed above in a one click installer

I'm sure there's more I am forgetting, but this is my basic "kit". Have a suggestion? Post it in the comments!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Watchdog 100 Climate Monitor and WD-1 Water sensors.

With my recent minor water issue, I decided to add an additional climate monitor to both our Warehouse Data Center and main office server room. The last thing any IT admin wants is a failed HVAC unit or leaking roof taking down critical infrastructure. I have used ITWatchdogs MiniGoose II's in the past with great success and decided to purchase two WatchDog 100's with WD-1 water sensors.

From the ITWatchdogs website:

On-board Sensors: 
Temperature: -22 to 185 °F (-30 to 85 °C), +/- 0.5 °C 
Humidity: 0 to 100%, +/- 2% 

Power: 6VDC power supply (included) 
Ethernet: 10/100 Mbps, RJ-45 receptacle 
Real Time Clock (RTC) with power backup 
Reset IP push-button: restores factory defaults 
Warranty: 1 year (extended warranties available) 

Software Features: 
HTTP/HTTPS: web access 
Alarms: high/low values, multiple thresholds per sensor 
ESMTP: email alerts, ESMTP auth 
SNMP (v1, v2c): gets, trap and clear alerts, MIB 
Paging: email to pager proxy 
XML: meta-tagged sensor values, alarms, config 
Syslog: send debug messages to Syslog server 
Access-control: 3 access levels (admin, control, view only) 
Web cams (optional): Up to four can be displayed 
Compatible with WatchDog Console Aggregator 
I can't wait to get these setup and tested. Hopefully they will never go off, but I would rather be safe then sorry.


Monday, July 7, 2014

What causes server room AC units to freeze? Skipping maintenance!

It's getting warmer here in Oregon. We peaked at 98F last week, which must seem like nothing compared to other folks in 120F+ climates, but when you're used to it be 70F and overcast, it reminds you why you have AC both at home, in your car, and in your server room. Our warehouse Data Center at work is equipped with two 5 Ton AC units and this weekend, the primary unit iced up. After the unit shut itself down, it did what a block of ice does best in a 90F room: Melt. We don't have a raised floor, so water ended up under the first three racks, storage area, and in the adjoining office space on the other side of the wall. This was only a minor disaster- we could have lost UPS's, PDU's, and server gear. But what caused it?

Dirty, dirty filters.
I'll be honest here, I'm solely to blame on this one. I could spin a story on how my boss never responded to my inquiry about getting maintenance contracts on the units, or how the staff at that facility are supposed to handle building/equipment maintenance, but at the end of the day- it was on me. When I got a $1.1k quote for 1 year of filter changes/inspections, I laughed and told myself I can easily handle this, no need to bother the staff. The filters were only $200 and there's a local supplier down the street. No problem, right? That was... 8 months ago. As it turns out, the filters I forgot to change were the problem. The restriction caused by the dirty filters wasn't allowing enough air to pass through the super cold coils. Add some humidity and bam. Ice block. After a trip to a local  supplier and a quick visit from the HVAC tech to verify everything was ok- it's back up to running at capacity.

So don't skimp or forget about maintenance! And don't worry, spare filters are stocked and a calendar reminder (or two) has been put in place. 

Sadly the unit froze up again last night, even worse. While we wait on a diagnosis from the HVAC company, I've gone ahead and ordered moisture sensors.