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Posts Tagged ‘how to’

Vital Factors for Implementing a Data Warehouse in an Organization

November 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Many organizations are sitting on a treasure trove of information, but have no good way to access it for analysis and comparison. A data warehouse can provide that analytical power and functionality by aggregating all of this data from a variety of data sources (databases, spreadsheets, logs, etc.) and organizing it in a way that makes cross querying easy. Unfortunately, many organizations jump feet first into developing a data warehouse, only to see it fail after investing a great deal of time, money, and effort into the project. Additionally, a well implemented data warehouse can still fail if an organization is unable to convince its employees to use it. For these reasons, I’ve put together a few key factors to help your organization’s data warehouse have the greatest chance for success…


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Stop That Annoying “Unused Icons on Your Desktop” Popup in Windows XP

September 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Yes, I know that Windows 7 is around and there are a million tutorials on this very topic. But lets face it, Windows XP isn’t going anywhere for a while yet, and I don’t know of a single person who likes this “feature.” In fact, as a tech this has to be one of the most common question people ask me. So I’m adding yet another guide on how to permanently pop that annoying message balloon!


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Formating a Drive Using the Windows Command Line

September 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Nowadays it seems like Windows has a GUI for everything. Whether its modifying GPOs using a MMC Snap-in or performing registry hacks with the regedit tool, its rare for even a Windows Technician to spend much time in the command line any more. On rare occasions however, even the most adept mouse-wielding users may find a task that is easier (or even necessary) to do in the command line. One such task I find myself doing is formatting a system disk using Microsoft’s format command…


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Sending Mass Email in Thunderbird Using MailTweak

September 16, 2011 Leave a comment

While Outlook has some great features for a corporate environment, Mozilla Thunderbird is probably one of my all-time favorite email clients. Its cross-platform compatible (runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac), fast, highly customizable, open source, and free to download and use (take that Microsoft!). Just like its cousin, the Mozilla Firefox browser, extra functionality and features can be added to Thunderbird by installing plugins. One of my all-time favorite plugins for Thunderbird (along with Enigmail), is MailTweak. This plugin adds a great deal of extra features and functionality to an already great program. One of these features that I find myself using fairly often, is sending personalized mass emails…


 

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Tutorial: Using WinSCP to Connect to a FTP, SFTP/SCP, or AFP File Share

January 22, 2011 8 comments

Both Mac and Linux have built-in support for connecting securely to SFTP and SCP file shares. This is because both are closely connected to the Unix platform, where the ssh protocol was originally developed. Windows, however doesn’t have any such connection to these protocols. Luckily, there is a free program that will add the necessary functionality to easily work with these file shares. Its called WinSCP (http://winscp.net).

WinSCP (Which stands for Windows Secure Copy) is a lightweight program that allows Windows computers to connect to other servers running FTP or SSH (and thus securely to SFTP/SCP file shares) on them, and I’ve even had success connecting to AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) shares (edit: since I wrote this article, I have done some additional research, and found out that the Mac servers that were using AFP also had SSH enabled for remote management, which is what WinSCP was probably connecting to — my recommendation is if you need to access files on a Mac from Windows, you probably need to also enable SSH on the server to make it work). In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to install this software and use it to connect to a server.

Installing WinSCP

First thing to do is download WinSCP from its download page (http://winscp.net/eng/download.php). You’ll note that there are two different install packages available: the standard Installation package and the Portable Executable package. Use the Portable Executable package if you don’t have administrative permissions or if you want to install the program on a portable device like a USB drive. Otherwise use the Installation package to install the software onto a specific computer. After downloading the program, go ahead and run it.

WinSCP Install: Select LanguageThe first screen you’ll see is the Select Setup Language window. For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll leave it as English, but you can choose whatever you want. Click OK to continue.

Click Next on the Welcome window, and next again to accept the install license (WinSCP is distributed under the open source GPL license). The next window is the Setup Type window where you can choose to use the Typical Install option or do a Custom Install. For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll stick with the Typical Install option. Click Next to move to the next screen, select the Do Not Install radial button on the extra software window, and click next again.

Typical vs Custom Install

TCommander vs Explorer Interfacehe next screen lets you select the type of interface you want to use. The two options are the Commander and Explorer interfaces. The commander interface has a more traditional FTP program look with one frame on the left of the window showing your local files and another frame on the right showing the files on the server. You transfer files back and forth by dragging from one frame to the other. The explorer interface looks more like a typical Windows Explorer window of just the server’s files, and you transfer files back and forth by dragging them from one window to the other. Either interface will work, and you can switch back and forth after installation, so it really doesn’t matter which you choose (I happen to prefer the Commander interface myself). After selecting which interface you want, Click Next and then Install to complete the installation.

After its complete, click finish to close the install program. If you leave the Launch WinSCP  box checked it will open the program automatically when you click finish. Otherwise you can use the desktop icon or Start Menu to run the program.Finished Installation

Setting Up a Connection in WinSCP

WhWinSCP Starting Imageen you open WinSCP, you’ll see the main program screen. On the right hand side is a series of buttons that allow you to edit, delete, and create new connections. Left of that is a list of the connections that you’ve created and saved in the past. Click on the New button to open up the Login screen.

There are several fields on the Login screen that you should be aware of:

  • Host Name: This is where you’ll put the name of the server that you want to connect to (for example: fs.finearts.utah.edu).
  • Port Number: This is the port that the server will be connecting on. Unless otherwise instructed, just leave it set to its default number (port 22).
  • Username: This is the username that you would use to log into the computer normally (for example: u0123456). If you are not sure what to use, ask the server’s administrator.
  • Password: This is the password you would use to log into the computer normally (for example: password1234). Again, ask the server’s administrator if you don’t know what to use for this field.
  • Private Key File: If your connection is set up to use Public/Private key authentication, you would tell WinSCP where your private key file is. If you don’t know what a private key is, or if you don’t have one, just leave the field blank.
  • File Protocol: This is the type of protocol you’ll be using to connect with the server. Generally, you can leave this set to SFTP with the Allow SCP Fallback box checked.

WinSCP Login Screen

Once you’ve filled in the appropriate fields, you can click the save button and choose a name for the connection (this can be whatever you want). If you want WinSCP to remember your password, go ahead and check the box that says Save Password (otherwise WinSCP will ask you for your password every time you try to connect). Finally click the OK button to save the connection to your Connections List.Walks through

Transferring Files Using WinSCP

Once you’ve created and saved a connection, you can access your file share by clicking on the entry in the list and clicking the Login button at the bottom of the window. This will open a box saying it’s attempting to connect to the server. If the information you entered is correct, it will open up a window showing the files on the server, and (if you selected the Commander Interface) the files on your local computer as well. Commander Interface for WinSCP

To enter a folder on either the server or local computer side, simply double-click on that folder. To move back out of the folder, you can double-click on the folder at the top of the list with an arrow and two dots (the two dots mean move up one directory). Finally, to copy a file from one computer to the other, simply click and drag from one side to the other. This will cause WinSCP to verify that you want to copy that file. Click Copy, and when the transfer is complete, you should see a copy of the file on both the server and local computer in the place you dragged and dropped it to. You can also copy folders and multiple files the same way (to copy multiple files or folders, simply highlight them all using the shift or ctrl key, then drag and drop). It’s important to remember that this action only makes a copy from one computer to the other. The original file will still be in the same place it was before the transfer. When you are done, you can simply close the window like you would any other, and it will close the connection for you and exit the program.

You should now be able to use WinSCP to upload and download files from other servers. There are several features available in WinSCP that we haven’t covered in this tutorial however. If you are interested in learning what these features are and how to use them, simply check out the WinSCP Documentation page at http://winscp.net/eng/docs/start. I’ve also created a video tutorial demonstrating these steps that can be seen on Vimeo, or by playing the the embedded video below:

Fixing XP’s Registry from the Recovery Console Using System Restore Points

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I recently had a client’s Windows XP machine suffer a crash that corrupted its registry and prevented it from even booting into safe mode. After trying several different tricks to try to get it to boot, I came across an article at http://bit.ly/ccKMOe that really did the trick. I thought I’d summarize the steps I took to perform the fix:

  1. Boot into the Recovery Console using a Windows XP CD. If you prefer, you can use a Live CD like Knoppix or Ubuntu to access the computer’s hard drive.
  2. Backup the current SOFTWARE and SYSTEM registry hives. While this step isn’t technically required to restore the registry from an old system restore point, it is always a good idea to make a backup of system files that you are going to replace (just in case you have one of those “uh-oh” moments later and need to undo what you just did). To do this from the Recovery Console, type:
    cd \Windows\System32\Config
    ren software software.bak
    ren system system.bak
  3. Navigate to the directory where the system restore files are being kept. You can do this by typing: cd "\System Volume Information\_resto~1". The _resto~1 part of the line is a shortened name for a directory called _restore followed by a long GUID number. If this command doesn’t work, you will need to replace the _resto~1 with the full name of the directory (you can find out what the whole name is by using the dir command).
  4. In the _restore directory, there are a bunch of directories starting with RP. These are the different restore points saved on your system. Use the dir command to see the dates associated with these various restore points and cd into one with a date before the problem started occurring (ex. cd RP743).
  5. Inside the restore point directory, there is a folder titled snapshot. Type cd snapshot to change into that directory as well. In the snapshot directory, there are backup copies of the SOFTWARE and SYSTEM registry files that we need. Copy them into the Windows\System32\Config directory by typing:
    copy _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SOFTWARE \Windows\System32\Config\software
    copy _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM \Windows\System32\Config\system
  6. Type exit to close the Recovery Console and restart your computer. If everything went right, you should be able to boot into Windows XP without any problems.

Disable the System Beep in Ubuntu Linux

November 5, 2010 Leave a comment
  • Materials Needed: A computer running Ubuntu Linux (may work with other distros)
  • Time: 5 minutes

There are three four simple ways to disable the system beep in Ubuntu. They are: Permanently for all users with a blacklisted module, Permanently for all users using inputrc, Permanently for a specific user, and Temporarily disable the beep. I will go over each of these three methods in this Wiki entry. If you are not sure which method you wish to use, I recommend permanently disabling the speaker for all users with a blacklisted module.

Permanently, for All Users (Blacklisted Module)

After initially writing this guide, I learned that Ubuntu allows you to use a text file in the /etc/modprobe.d/ directory to blacklist or enable modules as needed. I found this way to be the easiest and most robust way to turn off the system beep, and will be turned off from the moment your system boots up. To create a blacklisted module, simply open up a terminal (its under accessories in Ubuntu’s Applications menu) and type:

sudo echo blacklist pcspkr > /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-pcspkr.conf

Here’s what this command does:

  • sudo: Use this command to perform a task as the Super User. This gives us permission to create a file in the modprobe.d directory. You will probably have to put in your password before it will execute the command. If you don’t have access to the sudo command, you’ll have to contact your system administrator.
  • echo: This command will print whatever follows it to the terminal screen (or as we’ll see in a moment, to a file).
  • blacklist pcspkr: This is the command that tells linux to blacklist (aka. do not load) the pcspkr module on startup. In other words, this will keep the system speaker from ever starting up, which means there is no way for Ubuntu to beep at you.
  • >: This symbol says to take the output of whatever command is on the left-hand side of it (in this case, our echo command) and write it to a file specified on the right-hand side of it (in this case /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-pcspkr.conf).
  • /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-pcspkr.conf: The file path where we will be storing our command to blacklist the pc speaker module.

With this one command, you will never have to deal with a system beep again. Some of you may be wondering if this will also turn off your speakers that you use to listen to sounds/music on your computer. The answer is no. They should continue working without any problems.

Permanently, for All Users (inputrc)

If you want to permanently disable the beep for all users on the system, you will need to edit the system’s inputrc file. To do this, open a terminal and type:

sudo nano /etc/inputrc

For those of you not familiar with bash commands, we’ll take a moment to explain what’s going on here:

  • sudo: This allows you to execute this command as a Super User. Since we are editing the system’s version of this file, we will need Super User privileges.
  • nano: This is a really simple command-line text editor. You can substitute this editor for any other text editor that you would prefer to use (I like Vim myself). If you don’t know about any other text editors, or if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should probably stick to nano.
  • /etc/inputrc: This is the path to the file you are going to edit.

Once the editor opens your inputrc file, type the following command:

set bell-style visible

Again, we’ll go over this command:

  • set bell-style: This tells the system that we are going to change the way the system notifies us of an error. By default, it is set to beep at you.
  • visible: This tells the system what to do instead of beeping at you. Visible will cause the system to cause the window you are in to flash instead of beep. If you don’t want it to do anything, substitute the word none.

One should also note that in later versions of Ubuntu, this line of code is already in the file and is just commented out (made so it won’t run) by a # at the beginning of the line. Instead of typing the command, you can simply find the correct line and delete the # at the beginning.

Save the file (in nano, you push ctl-x, then enter y to indicate you want to save the changes) and restart your computer.

Permanently, for a Specific User

Follow the same steps for the “All Users” method as specified above, but instead of typing the command to edit the generic /etc/inputrc file as previously mentioned, edit/create the one in the user’s home directory. To do this, type:

nano ~/.inputrc

This file will override the generic file previously mentioned, but only for the user that is logged in when you edit the file, so you can have the default bell-style be set to one type, and your current user to another. Again, the rest of the steps are exactly the same as above.

Temporarily Disabled

If you only want to disable this temporarily (only when you go to the library for example), you can use this method. Open a terminal and type the following two commands:

xset b off
xset b 0 0 0

These two commands together will basically tell the system to turn off the bell, but it will be turn back on the next time you restart your computer.