Archive for January, 2011

MS Forecaster locked for maintenance

January 11, 2011 Leave a comment

This is kind of a weird one, so thought I would post in case I have to Google it again.

Today I had a user posting budget periods in MS Forecaster 7. While doing that the computer had locked up and he had to reboot. After rebooting nobody could get write access because the following message came up:

The system is currently locked for maintenance. Contact the Microsoft Forecaster Administrator for further information.

I found some references to this in MS KB962792 and a few other articles, but nothing that actually helped. The actual fix to the issue was easy:

  • Go into Forecaster client (not the web interface) as an administrator.
  • Click OK to the Maintenance message.
  • Go to “Tools” > “Recovery”
  • You will get a nasty message saying you better mean to do this or it may cause inconsistencies. Click “Yes”.
  • Click to re-index.
  • Wait and hope it fixed the problem.

After doing this users were once again able to log into forecaster.

Categories: Microsoft Tags:

Tool Spotlight: HashCalc

January 10, 2011 3 comments

When downloading files such as ISO’s and network gear firmware it is essential to ensure the file is not corrupted. To help with this, download sites will often provide an algorithm hash that was completed against the original file. After downloading the file you will use the same hash method and hopefully have and identical solution.

MD5 and SHA-1 have been the de facto hash methods available where I normally get files (MD5 shouldn’t be used anymore, but that’s another discussion). CRC32 is another one you may see.

If you use Microsoft Windows operating systems there is no build-in way to verify the hash of a downloaded file. I use a utility called HashCalc to perform this simple function. Here is the description off the HashCalc website:

A fast and easy-to-use calculator that allows to compute message digests, checksums and HMACs for files, as well as for text and hex strings. It offers a choice of 13 of the most popular hash and checksum algorithms for calculations.

Since it supports MD5 and SHA1 it covers 95% of what I need. For the few places that use other hash algorithms this program has still worked for me.

Use of the program is simple enough. Here are the steps:

  1. Choose your data file by browsing to it.
  2. Place a check in front of the algorithm to be used.
  3. Click Calculate.
  4. The output will be shown.

A few things to remember when using HashCalc:

  • Don’t choose all possible algorithms. This will work, but may lock up your computer! Performing hash checks is very CPU intensive!
  • While Windows XP is the last supported OS on their website. I can confirm the program works on Win7 64-bit.
  • I have a colleague who uses HashTab. He says this is a great way to add functionality to Windows Explorer. I have not verified that however.

It may seem unnecessary to do this for network gear such as Cisco and Juniper devices (because you can check the hash right on the device). However, you may be in a situation where you download the file and then bring it to a client site with a thumb drive. It would sure be nice to know before you leave the file is good.


Categories: Tools Tags:

Use PSCP from Windows to copy files to network devices and Linux servers

January 6, 2011 8 comments

PuTTYI just had a question asking how I get files to/from network devices and Linux servers originating from a Windows machine. For this I use PSCP, which is a part of the PuTTY set of utilities. I use PSCP for two reasons:

  1. FTP is dead, stop using it!!! SCP, SFTP or other similar protocols should be used for transferring files! If your network devices are only setup for FTP or TFTP then get them configured correctly!! (The same goes for telnet, start using SSH!)
  2. Its command line driven. This makes it quick/easy to use and script with.

That said I would recommend downloading and installing the Windows installer version of PuTTY from the download page. This will insure you have all of the binaries and help file available in your start menu, this is not required for operation however. The PuTTY installer does not update the path environment so PSCP can be run from anywhere.  To use PSCP from anywhere in the command line you will either need to use the full path for the executable every time or add the correct path statement.

Here are the steps for adding the path with Win7 (pretty much the same for other versions of Windows):

  1. Go to the Start Menu and right-click on computer.
  2. Choose Properties.
  3. Click “Advanced System Settings”
  4. Click on the “Environmental Variables” button.
  5. In the “System Variables” section double-click on “Path”.
  6. Go to the end of the “Variable Value” blank and semi-colon and the path to where the PuTTY binaries are located. Here is the path statement I added for my 64-bit Win7 machine:
    ;C:\Program Files (x86)\PuTTY
    For a 32-bit Windows OS it would be:
    ;C:\Program Files\PuTTY
  7. Click OK out of all these screens and reboot.

You will now be able to use any of the PuTTY binaries (including PSCP) from the command line without using the full path.

Using PSCP is pretty easy. Just type PSCP without any options to see the usage.

Here is a sample upload via PSCP:

pscp test.file root@testhost:/tmp/

Here is a sample download via PSCP:

pscp root@testhost:/tmp/test.file .

If you’re not comfortable using the command line in Windows for file transfer then I would recommend WinSCP. But then if your working in network devices or Linux I would image you are OK with the command line.

Categories: Tools Tags:

Adobe Reader shouldn’t be updating every day!

January 5, 2011 6 comments

I was looking at my blog statistics and noticed a lot of people hitting my site are using a search term similar to “why is adobe reader updated almost every day”. Since I wrote a blog post about Adobe some time ago my site comes up in this search. The following is my advice for people having this problem.

Adobe Reader should NOT be updating every day. If the reader is updating every day there is a problem. Looking at Adobe Readers downloads it can be seen that an update comes out about every couple of months or so.

The first suspect I would look at is malware/virus. TrendLabs released a warning last April about a Trojan (TROJ_FAYKDOBE.A) that looks identical to the Adobe Updater. The updater would then download other malicious files. I expect this type of attack to happen more often. It is imperative that you keep your anti-virus software up to date and do regular full scans of your computer.

If you are having a problem with Adobe Reader updating every day I would immediately update your anti-virus software and do a full scan. Trend Micro rates this type of attack as a high damage potential due to it being able to download anything to your computer.

If your computer is clean from virus/malware it is likely that your Adobe Reader has technical issues. One option would be to uninstall Adobe Reader, then install the latest version back on. The current version of Adobe Reader (Adobe Reader X at the time of this post) can always be found here.

Another option it to use an alternate PDF reader. I like Foxit as a PDF reader. It seems to work much quicker than Adobe and has fewer known security vulnerabilities.

Categories: Security Tags: