Java: Suppress Sponsor Offers

25 Aug 2014
August 25, 2014

While it is popular and common to suggest that we should avoid installing Java if we’re security conscious – or at least not enable it in our browsers – sometimes that’s just not an option. For instance, the web application that I spend my days in needs Java to be fully functional.

Java upgrades are a drag. One of the worst aspects has been to remember to uncheck the current sponsor stuff. Nope, I don’t need an Ask Toolbar and I really don’t want MacAfee Security Center installed. Ever!

If you feel the same way, you will love this new option at the bottom of the Advanced tab in the Java Control Panel:

Suppress sponsor offers when installing or updating Java

That’s pretty great.  You can find the Java Control Panel in your Windows Control Panel. If running Windows 8 or 8.1 just hit the windows key and type Java Control and search will turn it up as well.

Enjoy!

The Trio of Despair

12 Aug 2014
August 12, 2014

Our cast of characters:

  1. Firefox – my favorite web browser
  2. LastPass – my chosen (and favorite) password management utility
  3. N-Central – the web based RMM (remote monitoring and management app) with which I spend my days getting my job done.

For years these 3 got along great. They were friends. They laughed, they told stories and were generally great pals. Oh, the productive times they had!

Then something changed early this year. What changed? Nobody remembers. It was too long ago and the change was initially too subtle to be immediately obvious. But boy did something change.

Read more →

Freeing up Space on Server 2008 R2 (and 2012)

15 Jul 2014
July 15, 2014

We manage a pile of Windows Server 2008 R2 machines across a bunch of clients and many of those servers weren’t necessarily built by us. As such, sometimes space is allocated… poorly… And many of those servers are frequently dancing on the edge of running out of space on the C: drive.  (I will spare you the rant about 20 GB C: partitions. Maybe.)

While there’s always the option of resizing partitions, there isn’t always the time to do it. Either arranging a convenient time to take the server down during business hours or the more common after-hours (nights and weekends) time to travel onsite and do it at a time that doesn’t inconvenience anyone. Either way, never convenient for everyone.

What usually happens is I run WinDirStat on the server and look for anything obvious that can be cleared. Recycle bin? Logs? Assorted temp directories? That sort of stuff.

What often shows up? C:\windows\WinSxS directory. You know you can’t just delete it, right? Bad form.

 Good news. I recently stumbled over a blog post that I have found incredibly helpful for cleaning up WinSxS. Turns out that if your server is reasonably current in patches (you need KB2852386), the Disk Cleanup Wizard has the ability to cleanup Windows Update files.

Can’t find the Disk Cleanup Wizard? Well yeah, there’s a wrinkle there: first you need to install the Desktop Experience Feature. And reboot.

Yeah, I know, I know, but it is worth the amount of space you’ll reclaim. Honest.

And good news, this applies to Server 2012 and R2 as well. On a couple older servers I have reclaimed a lot of space doing this. Which is a heck of a lot easier than rooting around a bunch of random directories trying to find things to delete or compress. Right?

Log Shipping Monitor – Free

05 Jul 2014
July 5, 2014

I just wrapped up a data center migration (physical data center to AWS cloud) in which we had to migrate a fairly large SQL Server database – and then keep it in sync with the original DB for a week or 4 until it was time to do the actual cut-over.

Being a pragmatic and “seasoned” (is that a good euphemism for old?) former DBA, I opted to use the built-in SQL Server log shipping option and had everything setup on day 1 of the project.

Now, for the past few years, I have frequently gone the “tools” route and relied on Red Gate’s SQL Backup Pro software. A slick tool that dramatically simplifies and “operationalizes” backups and restores. It brings a lot of nice wizards and tools including a handy log shipping wizard that really makes life simple. However, that wasn’t an option this time around. And really not a huge deal – setting up log shipping is pretty straight-forward with modern versions of SQL Server.

Red Gate does, however, have a great and free utility called Log Shipping Monitor that I installed on a server to allow quick status checks of the process. A simple install and a simple application to configure (fully documented on the download page) and you have a nice dashboard to monitor both ends of the log shipping equation. Graphs, statuses and even the ability to manage alerts.

Highly recommended!