How do I redisplay the Ubuntu MOTD that shows operational statistics?

When you log into a server with Ubuntu at starting around version 10, you get a nifty message about what the system is doing. I needed to see what the current status, but I didn't know how that was generated.

So, if you want those statistics again, you can get them anytime without logging in by...

How Much Memory is My Process Using?

When supporting a linux box, it can be handy to know exactly how much memory a process and all its children are taking up.

I create this handy script when I need to know that...

Trick for Remote Support: How to Reboot a Win7 System When What You Are Doing Breaks the Network

I have to re-figure this out every time I need to do it, every few years, so I wrote this to remind me.

Once in a while, I have to change the IP address of a remote network. For instance, Comcast came into a customer of mine and replaced the modem/router. When they did, they put in their own local IP network number and broke the ability to get to any hard-coded IP addresses on the network (like printers). They used to be a 192.168.0.x network and now they were a 10.1.10.x network.

I could change all the hard coded devices to the new IP address scheme OR I could fix the network. It is a lot easier to change the one network than all the devices (on devices I can't easily reach because they are on another network, now, so I'd have to set up temporary IP routes and etc. etc. etc...).

The problem with changing the IP address on a router remotely is that you won't have access to the computer you remote in on after the change because it is still on the wrong network until a reboot.

So here's the simple trick to fix it all at once...

Do you want to try CoreOS or Docker?

Have you ever wanted to try CoreOS or Docker? For web developers that want to scale their applications, these are some of the hottest technologies to come along for a long time. You've been able to build some servers using CoreOS for a few months with AWS and Google, but the cost to play has been a little high.

When I played with Google and CoreOS for a few days, it cost me about $5 per day per server. That adds up pretty quick, if you want to try 10 servers and you're on a developer's budget.

How would you like to try 10 servers and have it only cost you $40 for a whole month!

You can if you follow this link. That link will give you a $10 credit (2 free servers for a month!) and I'll get a little something back, too, if you keep the service.

I really love DO's (DigitalOcean's) servers and interface. I've used a number of other cloud server providers and DO offers solid value and an easy interface. And now, fast and fun access to CoreOS and Docker containers!

Go for it!

What if I Want to Send Email from an Ubuntu Server Through Gmail?

I've written before about getting email to send from dumb devices through a Windows Server host to gmail (Google Apps). That works fine in a lot of small offices because there is often a Windows Server sitting around somewhere, even if just for file services.

However, there are times when you DON'T have a Windows Server around and need to send email through a Linux server.

Here's what I do when I want to send email via gmail (Google Apps) and I have an Ubuntu box available...

Comodo Cleaning Essentials Hates Audio CDs, Really?... Really?

I had a customer get a virus (why is that still a possibility????) and had to do some remote cleaning. I tried malwarebytes, but it wouldn't finish and kept getting a weird error after scan started running.

I was pretty sure I had everything, but I like to take a few passes at a system that has had issues, if I'm NOT doing a format and re-install, just to be safe.

Trying to make sure all was well, I felt I couldn't give the system back until I had a good, clean scan run, but that was not to be.

After malwarebytes let me down for the first time in a few years, I thought I'd try Comodo Cleaning Essentials, which is a free bit of cleaning kit from Comodo. One thing I like about it is that it doesn't require an install, like malwarebytes. Pretty annoying installing a program in the middle of cleaning up a system. The problem was, I couldn't get the program to run and finish without just disappearing!

Why are My Emails Disappearing from Outlook when using Google Sync for Outlook?

Man, I ran into a real stumper. I had some customers that had been using Google Apps for email for quite awhile. They required Outlook instead of just using the web interface, so, inspite of the disadvantages of using it, we needed to use Google Sync for Outlook.

Everything worked great, until about 14 months into using it, a user reported that some of her emails were "missing". When I checked the web interface, the emails were still there, but they were definitely gone from Outlook.

None of the "helpful" auto-archive features were turned on in Outlook. Outlook will spin your older emails out to a separate PST file, if you let it--this makes it "easier" by putting things where they can't be searched for and you have to specifically go looking for them in a place you don't know exists...

Anyway, I tried a number of things like doing a resync in Google Sync, etc., but nothing helped.

Well, when I was making some changes because a user had left the organization, I discovered something pretty important about how Google Sync actually works...

How to use Google Analytics to Monitor Your Servers (or anything else!)

Most people in tech know that you can use Google Analytics to monitor website performance. App developers and website hackers are probably aware that you can monitor your users' use of your apps for your own custom events. However, very few people know that you can use Google Analytics to monitor your own Windows and Linux (and anything else) servers' disk space, performance, and any other metric you want!

One of the best sites I've found for monitoring uptime of my services is Up Time Robot. They do a great job monitoring access to my websites and critical services like SMTP for email and SSH or whatever you like. I can even make sure a certain phrase (like "user login") is appearing on a certain web page! But that only works for internet-facing services.

Many of my cloud service providers (like Rackspace and Amazon, and Digital Ocean) have monitoring services for my servers they are running, but that doesn't help for my client's servers behind the firewall.

After just a little fiddling around, I've come up with an easy way of monitoring key metrics on all of my servers using "Universal" Google Analytics...

PostgreSQL 9.1 Text Fields Are Getting Messed Up

I have a database for a client that uses TEXT fields in a postgresql database to save RTF letters with special formatting like bold or italics. The system has used a series of postgresql versions like 7.4, 8.1, and so on.

We don't update very often because postgresql is very fast and very stable. In fact, we usually only upgrade when forced to move to a new version of Ubuntu LTS or something like that where it is easier to go with the current version than it is to try to keep the old one up to date.

Anyway, we upgraded from 8.1 to 9.1 a few weeks ago (using typical pg_dump and pg_restore steps) and all of my OQ (Operational Qualification) testing indicated the data all made it over just fine, the system was working, rows were updating, and everything was working just peachy.

After a few weeks, the LETTERS table need to be updated with new letters and that is when the trouble started...

Running Dropbox as a Service on Windows Server

If you need to run Dropbox as a service, you need to convince Windows Server to run it as a service. That's easy enough using the old "srvany.exe" toolkit program that let's you run "any" program as a service.

Basically, you will install dropbox, grab srvany.exe, create a service entry, add a registry setting, start the service, then you're up and running.

Here are the details...

Did this help you? You can help me!

Did you find this information helpful? You can help me back by linking to this page, purchasing from my sponsors, or posting a comment!

+One me on Google:

Follow me on twitter:

Affiliation Badges