Thoughts from your friendly neighborhood technologist.

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Moving Up and On…

Damn, it’s been a terribly long time since I’ve gone ahead and updated my site here so I figured with finding a new job, some pretty big changes happening with and some personal things that I’m trying to wrap up why not go ahead and put a little more effort into getting things going on this.

So let’s start off first by catching up, shall we?

I’ve just recently started a new job with a company called Entec, and I know you’re thinking to yourself “Damn Matt you sure do change jobs a lot!” And that’s pretty accurate but there’s a reason behind my most recent employment changes. First off if you know me, or have caught any of the online media that I’ve been a part of for the last decade you know that I’m a pretty strong willed person. To the point in which it can be labeled a fault, but in my mind I just look to it as the attribute of someone who knows what they want, and strives to achieve it. The last couple of jobs that I’ve had I was pretty much lied to when it came to the description of what I was actually going to be doing.

I originally left the employment of a company that I had been with for nearly 5 years because there really weren’t any additional opportunities for growth or advancement. This move was completely my decision and it wasn’t solely about money. I had reached a point with that particular company which saw me babysitting an otherwise well oiled machine, and having nothing much to do but browse the internet all day. Now some may think that’s the greatest job in the world… Getting paid to browse the internet! But let me assure you that simply isn’t the case, ultimately you’re checking the same websites all day waiting for something new to come up. And when I wasn’t doing that I was working on other projects of mine, and to me it just felt I was wasting away being a desk jockey and that simply me.

So I left, and took a job with a company that promised I would be engaged in new business development, as well as solution development. What they actually needed was someone to sit at a desk for 6 months and fill a body at one of their clients in the event something catastrophic happened. So I left a job that was paying me to browse the internet for another company that basically paid me MORE money to do the same thing. Needless to say I was a little frustrated by this, but the client was fairly close to where I live and I thought in the end once this contract was over we were going to get back to what I had initially signed on for. Fast forward 6 months when the contract did indeed end and I was driving around to new clients assisting with infrastructure redesigns, and actively engaging with decision makers to fix a bunch of issues that previous technicians had screwed up. That was until the company I was working for needed a sharepoint administrator to install a new deployment for a local municipality. This didn’t exactly sit well with me in the first place due to the fact that the project manager leading this deployment really had no clue as to the requirements, and was in essence shoving this down the City IT department’s throat. They didn’t need this, and while I’m all about trying to make a dollar, this wasn’t the way to go about it. So after that disagreement, the company and I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to work out long term so we parted ways.

But wait there’s more, continue on after the break to see what I’m up to now.

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Upgrade HP Elitebook 8460p Screen

Recently I became fed up with the display panel that my HP Elitebook 8460p came with. Unfortunately this laptop was supplied to me by my employer, so I didn’t have any say in the ordering process.  I have been able to expense a 16GB RAM upgrade, and a 256GB SSD upgrade, but replacing a perfectly working screen and expensing that would probably have been a little more difficult.

By default the laptop comes with a 14″ matte display with a resolution of 1366×768.  When ordering one of these, there was an option for a panel with 1600×900, but as mentioned before, I didn’t have the chance to specify. So I figured I’d bite the bullet and order a display on my own as the use I’d get out of the additional resolution was completely worth it to me.

A new panel will run you around $350 direct from HP.  That being said, I didn’t pay $350!  I found the HP spare parts catalog for my particular laptop and found the display panel part number and did a quick Google search.  A company I have used for replacement displays in the past unfortunately didn’t have the particular panel I wanted in stock.  But luckally for me I found one for around $90 on Amazon.  After the display arrived in a gloriously protected package, I set out to replace the panel and begin enjoying my additional screen real estate!

But after installing the panel, and turning the power on, I had a problem.  While the computer detected that the new panel had a resolution of 1600×900, there were pink lines streaming across the screen, and text on the display was nearly impossible to read.


Immediately I was pissed! $90 for nothing! I started thinking that maybe I had a defective panel, or perhaps I screwed up the cable while replacing the panel.  So back to Google I went.  Unfortunately there’s not much in the way of definitive answers if simply replacing the panel is all you need to do.  After about 30 minutes I saw something I missed… there appear to be two different cables for the display panel.  One for the HD (1366×768) panel, and one for the HD+ (1600×900).  I asked myself if there could possibly be a difference, and then saw it was about $18 direct from HP.  So I ordered one and began the wait again.

After about a week the cable arrived, and I began disassembling the laptop again.  Unfortunately this time I couldn’t just easily remove the bezel and replace the panel.  No, I had to completely disassemble the entire chassis of this machine, and let me tell you… this is one of the most difficult diassemblies I’ve ever performed, simply because of how many hidden screws there are everywhere.  I now have a renewed appreciation for all the Dell laptops I’ve ever performed service on!  Regardless, after about an hour of finally getting the bottom off the laptop I installed the replacement cable, buttoned everything back up, installed the new panel and started the machine.  Miraculously the display was crisp, no lines, and displaying at it’s advertised 1600×900 resolution!

So there you have it!  Sorry that I didn’t take any pictures of the disassembled machine, but needless to say it was more of a process than I would have preferred   Even though the cable that I took out looked exactly like the new one I ordered from HP and I can’t tell why the new cable works but the old one doesn’t, I’m just relived that it does.  So for those of you who have found this page wondering if it’s possible to upgrade your HP EliteBok Display Panel, the answer is yes.  You’ll need two things…

Cable kit for HP EliteBook 8460p models with HD+ displays (HP P/N: 642793-001)
Display panel, 35.6 cm (14.0 in), HD+, anti-glare, LED, SVA, LVDS (HP P/N: 653040-001)

After you’ve ordered your new parts, have a look at the service manual for the laptop for exact dis-assembly instructions. 

Let me know if you have any questions!

Migrate RADIUS config from Windows 2003 IAS to Windows 2008 R2 NPS

Recently I was in the process of replacing a fair number of Windows domain controllers for a customer when an interesting issue was raised.  How do we migrate from our existing Windows 2003 IAS based RADIUS install to a new Windows 2008 R2 based NPS?  The problem was they had about 2 dozen different devices authenticating against this particular RADIUS server and couldn’t remember the secrets they had used for the devices, and they didn’t want to reconfigure all of the clients.

Enter the solution… iasmigreader.exe (Bulit into Windows 2008 R2 and Later) it’s a command-line tool that exports the configuration settings of IAS on a computer running Windows Server 2003 to an Ias.txt file. This Ias.txt file is in a format that can be imported on an NPS server running Windows Server 2008 with the command netsh nps import path\ias.txt Cool huh?!  Here’s a step by step!

  1. Copy the iasmigreader.exe file from the following folder:
  2. Paste the file in a computer that is running Windows Server 2003 together with IAS (the IAS server).
  3. On the IAS server, run the iasmigreader.exe file (NOTE: if you’ve recently made a change to the configuration of the IAS server, please wait 5 minutes before running the iasmigreader.exe file). This creates an Ias.txt file in the%windir%\system32\ias folder. If you are running a 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003, the Ias.txt file is created in the %windir%\syswow64\ias folder.
    Note The exported Ias.txt file contains all shared secret information from the configuration. Therefore, make sure that the file is stored in a secure location.
  4. Copy the Ias.txt file to the location on your Windows 2008 NPS server.
  5. At the netsh prompt on the NPS server, run the netsh nps import command, and specify the ias.txt file you copied from the IAS server as the parameter. For example, at a command prompt, type the following command: netsh nps import <path>\ias.txt

Now when you open up the NPS MMC snap-in you should see all of your configurations migrated!  The great thing is all that’s required is to point your RADIUS clients to their new location and everything should just work because the secrets and individual device settings were all contained in that IAS.txt file.  Once you’ve confirmed the conversion is correct remember to delete the IAS.txt file.

Hope this helps someone out!

VMware ESXi NTP Time Servers

Just a little reminder to those of you who are setting up ESXi servers.


Easiest way to do this is if your ESXi hosts can get to the internet, goto your host configuration tab, select time and date, then enter the following addresses for the NTP servers.

Or any standard time server should do, but those are easiest for me to remember.

I’ll post on how to use Windows as a time server for hosts that don’t have internet access in a later article, that one’s going to require some screen shots.

Making the Business Case for Virtualization

I speak with a number of people every year who have never heard of virtualization, and quite frankly this is a point that saddens me as a technology enthusiast.  How can everyone in the world not know about the glorious wonders that await them if they virtualized their infrastructure?!  Haha, ok maybe that’s going a bit too far, but I think you get my point.

To date, I’d have to say that of the business decision makers I meet, only about 30 percent of them know what virtualization is.  Now on the flip side, of the people who are actively down in the trenches managing systems on a day to day basis, nearly 75% of them have either used some method of virtualization or heard of it.  My question is, why is there such a disparity in knowledge of something that can be so beneficial to an organization between these two groups of people?

Well that’s what this post is about, educating decision makers about the numerous business benefits that virtualization solutions provide.


Virtualization History Lesson

Virtualization as noun, refers to technologies designed to provide a layer of abstraction between computer hardware systems and the software running on them. By providing a logical view of computing resources, rather than a physical view, virtualization solutions make it possible to do a couple of very useful things: They can allow you, essentially, to trick your operating systems into thinking that a group of servers is a single pool of computing resources. And they can allow you to run multiple operating system installations simultaneously on a single machine, thereby greatly increasing the utilization of any one piece of hardware.

Virtualization has it’s origins in partitioning, which divides a single physical server into multiple logical servers. Once the physical server is divided, each logical server can run an operating system and applications independently. In the 90s, virtualization was used primarily to re-create end-user environments on a single piece of mainframe hardware. If you were an IT administrator and you wanted to roll out new software, but you wanted see how it would work on a Windows NT or a Linux machine, you used virtualization technologies to create the various user environments.

But with the advent of the x86 architecture and inexpensive PCs, virtualization faded and seemed to be little more than a fad of the mainframe era. It’s fair to credit the recent rebirth of virtualization on the x86 architecture to the founders of the current market leader, VMware. However VMware couldn’t have done it alone, and I often credit Moore’s Law in helping computing power reach a point where virtualization was once again a viable solution in the enterprise.

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