About Ed Hands

 I have been working in the IT field for over twenty years.  

In addition to spending time with my beautiful wife and two lovely daughters,  I enjoy practicing the guitar, Tae Kwon Do, reading, and grilling out  I am always trying to plan the perfect road-trip with my family.  Hopefully there will be coffee.

The purpose of this blog is to journal my experience in the IT field and hopefully provide a useful guide to those doing likewise.  And to journal my random musings on technology, computers, or whatever else strikes my fancy.  Adult ADD FTW!!!!  Ohhh...look...something shiny....

 

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Thursday
Aug222013

Hacking a Samsung LCD TV

I have a 46" Samsung monitor on my wall (Model UN46C5000) that I use to display the output of some Network Monitoring software we use (Passler, btw.)  This monitor is attached to a Mac Mini via the HDMI port.

The one fly in the ointment has always been turning the darn thing on every morning.  I know it may seem trivial, but usually the mornings are the busiest time of day of me in IT and sometimes that computer just doesn't get turned on.  And I am kind of opposed to just leaving it on and wasting energy.

Now Macs are great at starting themselves up and shutting themselves off, and my Samsung TV has the same capabilities.  However it can only turn on and off the the TV input or a USB input, not the HDMI input (which seems pointless to me, but whatever.)

So I turn to my old friend Google.  I found a forum on CNET where people were complaining about this exact same issue.  A few pages down someone had found a hack that worked around the issue (which the Samsung Rep that was posting to the forum failed to tell anyone which I find both deceitful and troubling.)

Apparantly there is a thing called "Hotel Mode."  Like all good hacks, this one has some very dangerous setting that can mess your TV up pretty bad, so use with caution.  Also please not that this also has the effect of clearing any of the settings you already had setup (like color settings, timers, time, etc.) Anyway, apparantly on many Samsung TV models, to get into this Hotel Mode, what you do is turn the television off and then press the mute button followed by the numbers 1, 8, and 2  (in that order) and then power on the television again.  When the television comes back on there will be a service menu there with all kinds of crazy cool stuff.  Digging through the menus you'll want to turn the Hotel Mode to "on" and the Power On Source to "HDMI/DVI”.  Once finished, power cycle your television again.

Once that is finished, go in and setup your timers but ignore the source, antenna, and channel settings.  They no longer do anything.  ;)

And that's about it.  I have tested it a few times now and it seems to work great.  Good luck and have fun!

Monday
Aug052013

System Restore Fun!!!

We have had an on-going issue on our network for some time that I finally resolved.  Our network is a Windows 2008 domain environment using (obviously) AD and employing GPOs to enforce quite a few policies.  Most of the client machines are Windows 7 with a few remaining XP machines in place just for a little variety.

The issue we have had is that end-users were not able to manually able to create restore points.  When a user tried to create one manually, they would get the following error:

The restore point could not be created for the following reason:

Not all privileges or groups referenced are assigned to the caller. (0x80070514)

Please try again.

If the PC was removed from the domain, manual restore points could once again be created.  So the source of the problem appeared to be a GPO.  However a check of the GPO System restore settings were set to the default "not configured" (meaning that System restore was enabled.  The GPO allows the System restore to be UI and SR configuration to be disabled, but the alternative to allow System Restore to function is simply to set these settings to "not configured".)

A check of the registry on effected machines showed nothing unusual either.  GPOs and Registry seemed to check out.

So back to the message.  The phrase "Not all privileges or groups referenced" piqued my curiosity.  I decided to look at the GPO and focus on the local security policy.  There, in User Rights Assignments I saw one that was interesting: "Back Up Files and Directories".  This setting was set to domain admins.  I added domain users to this privilege and rebooted.

Ta-da!  Once again users we able to manually create restore points.

Monday
Jul012013

GPO, Deny local Logon, and end users....

Today I got a bit of a shock while trying to do some troubleshooting on a new server.  I could not access the resource monitor to see what was causing some odd interface delays.  Finally I looked and the server was logged on by one of my domain users.  This is very interesting as I have domain users blocked from logging into my servers locally.

(As an FYI, I accomplished this by having a separate GPO for servers and domain controllers.  Then I edit the GPO and under Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\User Rights Assignment I define the “Deny log on locally” policy and add the user group I want to block (in my case, Domain Users) to that group.)

Anyway, it seems that I added the server to the domain and left for lunch.  Then, in what must have been the minute after I left, this end user went into the server room (which doesn’t have any physically security because we are just moving in to a new building) and logged into the server.  The oddity here is that I must have added it to the domain and not rebooted.  Then this guy came in and logged me off and him on and went about doing his business (he wanted to show someone the security cameras which is extra humorous as the security cameras aren’t even on any of the network servers) and then walked away.

So I returned from lunch and nothing seemed to be working quite right.  Everything seemed sluggish and I couldn’t do a Resource Monitor (it said I didn’t have permission…) and things just seemed off.  But then I had to leave and return back to the main office.  I touched on it again on Friday but couldn’t seem to find a cause.  But finally today I figured it out when I saw the end user’s name on the start menu.  I called him and asked him if he logged into a server.  “No.  Not me” he said.  I gave him some more detail like the specific time and date and suddenly his memory was restored.  I told him he wasn’t allowed in the server room at all much less touch the servers.  “But the door was open” he claimed.  A moot point, I said, since none of the doors in the entire office had been put on yet.  That didn’t give him a right to touch it.

So here I am, checking and rechecking everything to see if he did any damage or anything nefarious.

Ugh…end users….

Friday
Jun282013

Repost of "My Wife is a Teacher"

I do not take credit for this.  I am mearly reposting an email that I received.  Although I agree witht he sentiments and thoughts expressed here, all credit it due to Mr. Vic DeSantis.

 

My Wife is a Teacher 
By: Vic DeSantis

I am a guy who lives for summers. I wasn’t always like this but I’m pretty sure I can pinpoint the exact time in my life where the months of June, July, and August became such an integral part of my happiness.

You might be inclined to deduce that my yearning for these warmer times is related to a sports season or a passion for outdoor activities; perhaps even slower times at work. In some regards you might be correct but not exactly for the any one of the three multiple choice answers provided. 

You see, my wife is a teacher.

When I met my wife she was not a teacher - she was a student. When we married she was finishing her degree and starting out on her own professional career. To say that I knew nothing about the educational system at that point would be an enormous understatement. In the nearly 20 years that followed I have learned everything that a parent, student, citizen, and spouse should know about the challenges that every teacher faces. Armed with those insights it is difficult to reconcile the carefully framed messages of politicians and privatized education proponents with the realities of life in the classroom.

My wife is a teacher. I’ve never once, in the history of our life together, seen her trading derivatives, speculate in real estate, engage in subprime lending practices, or make exorbitant demands on her employer for an outrageous salary. It is perplexing to me that over the past few years she and her colleagues have, at least in the eyes of many, become public enemy number one. I suspect that a good portion of this misguided angst is directly related to the economic environment; something that she had absolutely no part in creating. Is she without fault? Absolutely not. I have over the years thought that she would have been much better off taking her well-earned college degree and her intelligence into the private sector and guiltlessly accumulated as much wealth and material possessions as possible. Sometimes you just can’t talk sense into these folks.

My wife is a teacher. Instead of making money she decided to make a difference. 

My wife is a teacher. For nearly 2 years she worked diligently to achieve the prestigious designation as a nationally board certified teacher – a designation that came with a small annual bonus. After meeting her end of the bargain, the state pulled the funding.

My wife is a teacher. She has worked for a decade and a half for far less money than her counterparts who are not public employees. She did this satisfied with the proposition that the pay was steady, a small retirement income certain, and the intangible satisfaction of steering the lives of children.

My wife is a teacher. Her income is now in decline. As a reward for her faithful years of service our state has decided that she should give back 3% of her salary towards her retirement. After all they say “this is what folks in the private sector do.” Tack-on another 2% reduction for the expired payroll tax holiday and the hits just keep on coming.

My wife is a teacher. Despite continuous assaults on her take-home pay, she shells out thousands of her own dollars for classroom supplies. She is impervious to the yearly barrage of administrative mandates established by politicians and so-called “educational experts” – she soldiers on.

My wife is a teacher. She is reviled by certain segments of our society who labor under the belief that she is underworked and overpaid. One would think that after fifteen plus years in a professional where a four-year college degree is a minimum entry requirement that most would not begrudge her a $40,000 a year salary. And for those less inclined to the truth, her salary is adjusted to smaller twice-a-month paychecks to cover the summer months when school is not in session.

My wife is a teacher. She is tasked with the enormous responsibility for the care and safety of your children. I’ll dispense with the lengthy analysis on this topic. Two words suffice – Newtown and Oklahoma. Someone please let me know the next time Lebron James throws his body between a child and the working end of an assault rifle and I will hold professional athletes in the same reverence I do teachers.

My wife is a teacher. For nine months of every year our family lives in the metronomic cycle of early morning wake-ups and late evening lesson-planning. We revel in the plethora of candies and candles, gift-cards and gadgets that herald the arrival of the “Christmas Break,” and I observe with interest the emotion that a hand-written note from a 1st grader can bring at the end of a school year.

My wife is a teacher. From August to May she had dedicated herself to the interests of her kids and her school. She has prepared and toiled, laughed and cried – and shared one hundred stories about the amazing kids that walk through her door each morning. She has left me wondering in awe how she does so much with - and for - so little. 

It is the summer now – my happy time comprised of the few short weeks that I do not have to share her. My wife is a teacher – she is also my hero. I promise to return her in August.

Monday
Jun242013

Caesar's Palace...not quite "the Hangover" hotel.

I am staying this week at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.  In my role at my company it seems pretty apparent that, as our western branches expand, my visits will become more and more frequent.  So I have decided to  try staying in all the major hotels on the strip.

This far I have stayed at only two, the MGM Grand and the Hard Rock Hotel.

For comparison sake, my first hotel that I stayed in on the strip was the Hard Rock (which technically isn’t on the strip, but close enough for my purposes.)  So all comparisons are pretty much using that as a reference point.  I really enjoyed my stay at the HRH.

The room rate at Caesar’s was $120 for a room with one King Sized bed. 

I arrived at around 11 AM.  The lobby was fairly empty and this was about the last time I would see it like this.  Otherwise it was pretty much constantly packed.  I felt sorry for the pour souls standing in line 10-15 deep waiting to check in.  Perhaps it was because of EDC being this particular weekend, but I suspect that is not the case.

The staff was friendly, but their directions to my tower (Roman) were woefully inadequate and the maps around the hotel weren’t much help either.  I finally wandered around enough and found my elevators.

At this point it might be good to mention that the size of this place is just enormous.  For the first three days I was constantly getting lost.  I have heard that the designers of casino do this on purpose.  And brother, I’m here to tell you, it works.

The room was fairly small in comparison the on one at HRH.  The décor was fairly dated and the 19” televisions (one in the main room and one in the bed room) were old tube type televisions.  That mattered little as the picture was so poor, it wasn’t really worth watching anyway (which, in reality, may be by design.  They probably don’t want you spending a whole lot of time in the room I imagine.)

The bed was clean and comfortable, but the air conditioning was loud and ran constantly. 

The hotel hallways were in need of cleaning and touchup on paint and such and often glasses and room service trays stayed a couple of days.

The shower and towels were insane and probably my favorite part of the room.  Nice fluffy towel and the water pressure in the shower was awesome.

Finally parking was a nightmare.  The first night I used the valet, which was fine.  But every time I tried to use it after 4 PM, the valet lot was full.  After the fourth day, I abandoned even trying using the valet and parked in self-parking instead.  That posed it’s own issues, as often as now, I ended up parking so far away from my room, it would take 20+ minutes to get from my car to my room.

Over all, it would be okay for a short weekend stay, but stay again nor I wouldn’t recommend Caesar’s Palace.