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Some other tools for Windows Admins: AdventNet AppManager

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Sep-2006 09:26

Continuing the series of posts about administration tools for servers (the previous post on this topic is here and you will find the other links from there, as a chain) I want to comment on a very nice tool from AdventNet: ManageEngine Applications Manager.

This web based tool provides the admin of a single or multiple servers a lot of information that would otherwise require many hours of work and hundreds of scripts to collate.

You are able to see in a glance the status of servers and applications around the organisation and create "monitors" for those. What applications can you check with this tool? It will be a long list:

You can see the information in many different ways, including icons, tables, by category, etc.

  • Applications: Microsoft .NET, Oracle Application Server, JBoss, Tomcat, BEA WebLogic, IBM WebSphere
  • Web services: Apache, IIS, PHP Monitorin
  • Database: Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, DB
  • Website: URL, record & playback HTTP requests, URL content
  • Servers: Windows, Linux, Solaris, IBM AIX, HP-Unix / Tru64 Unix, FreeBSD
  • E-mail: Exchange Server, other mail servers (POP3/SMTP)
  • Custom: JMX Consoles, SNMP Consoles, Custom Script, QEngine Script

    For example, for SQL Server you can find information about memory usage, buffer statistics, lock details, database statistics (including batch requests, compilations) and more. For servers you can have disc information, CPU utilisation, memory levels, etc. 

  • Is it enough? Not yet. For each monitor you can establish thresholds for availability and health, and have special actions taken, including sending messages to speficied e-mail addresses (great for SMS!).

    The insight you learn on your company's systems utilisation is great. You can see performance and monitors charts for a specified period, and even determine how long this data will be stored.

    The ManageEngine Applications Manager comes in a Professional Edition and a Free Edition. Yes, free as in gratis. The free edition does not allow user management and gives you five monitors (albeit this was reduced from previous versions where the number of free monitors was 10). You can see how I am using the free edition with my two servers here and happy with it.

    It communicates to other servers via SNMP or WMI, and for some database operations it will need  the admin password. For this reason I suggest you use a VPN to communication between servers. Check my previous post on Hamachi, a great tool, easy to configure, that can be used for this (I am using it now).

    It will use some resources though. The install process is painless, but prepare to have TOMCat, Apache and the ManageEngine installed. I suggest you change the Apache service to Automatic to allow you to see the tool from other computers without need to login to the server, and I also suggest you have the latest Java run time.

    The company behind this application has a lot of other tools available, for all sorts of IT tasks. But what's interesting is that they are also behind of the Zoho set of web-based office tools (think of word processing, presentation, collaboration, spreadsheet, CRM, project management).

    CDMA EVDO Rev A, HSDPA and more

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Aug-2006 12:23

    Last night I attended the Wellington Wireless Wednesday meeting, organised by the New Zealand Wireless and Broadband Data Forum (and yes there's an Auckland version of these meetings).

    It was a full house, and this time the group used the events room at Lone Star Wellington. Great meeting, and Lucent Technologies was running the bar tab.

    The main topic was the Telecom New Zealand upcoming introduction of CDMA EVDO Rev A. We had a presentation by Mike Hobby, from Lucent Technologies, who did a pretty good job of explaining the CDMA evolution.

    According to Lucent, those are the numbers (down/up) we have defined by the standards:

    CDMA EVDO Rev 0: 2.4Mbps/155Kbps
    CDMA EVDO Rev A: 3.1Mbps/1.8Mbps
    CDMA EVDO Rev B: 73.5Mbps/27Mbps
    CDMA EVDO Rev C: 129Mbps/75.6Mbps

    In real world CDMA EVDO Rev 0 (which we have here in New Zealand now) provides about 400-600Kbps downstream. He thinks CDMA EVDO Rev A should provide about 600-800Kbps, although in some tests (empty network, close to cell site) they got some pretty good numbers.

    Also during the talk it was confirmed that Telecom New Zealand will launch their CDMA EVDO Rev A network by December 2006. This is after the Vodafone New Zealand HSDPA launch, which has just been confirmed for 12 September.

    If you are lucky though and have a HSDPA device in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, go on, start using it. I understand the networks is currently up and running.

    So what's the HSDPA speeds? Initial deployment is 1.8Mbps/384Kbps, but Vodafone told me they are planning to have it bumped up to 3.6Mbps at launch. This is something to see. Also, as usual, this is the theoretical maximum speed, and as in any other technology only achievable under optimum conditions. A loaded network is a different story, and considering that HSDPA "breathes", in other words, more users means less coverage.

    While we are covering, er, coverage... Apparently TUANZ (Telecommunication Users Association NZ) had a meeting just the night before and Vodafone New Zealand was the showcase. Rightly so, because of their HSDPA offering to be soon unveiled. It seems they talked about coverage on that meeting, and someone present in both meetings asked the same question to Telecom: since both claim to cover 99% of the New Zealand population with cellular services, how much is actually covered by 3G services? It seems that Vodafone New Zealand is behind, with 45%, while Telecom New Zealand claims 75%.

    And talking about Vodafone New Zealand... I am still to see HSDPA in real life. I had a meeting in Auckland with their business folks and a nice demo, and two lunches here in Wellington with people involved on these deployments or equipment. So far I only heard the promises, but no one could come forward and say "Here, take this HSDPA card and try it and let people know what you think".

    Back to Telecom New Zealand. An interesting comment from Mike Hobby, about WCDMA LTE (which is supposed to come after HSDPA and HSUPA), is that it would use the same technologies as CDMA EV-DO Rev C (which is not ratified yet). So, in essence, sometime in the future, WCDMA and CDMA EV can join? Interesting to see what happens.

    Anyway, last night Telecom New Zealand gave away a CDMA EV-DO Rev A card to a lucky person in the audience, plus some free data. They must be getting close to testing this soon.

    Windows Live QnA Opens

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Aug-2006 10:54

    Remember how I was distributing invites for a beta of Windows Live QnA a few weeks ago? Don't worry about asking for an invite anymore, it seem like Microsoft has opened the service for the public, according to Techcrunch.

    Even more required tools for Windows Admins: WebDrive

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Aug-2006 18:17

    This is part III of a series of posts showing some of the software tools I use on a daily basis. While I previously covered system maintenance tools and private networking before, this time it's a file management tool: WebDrive.

    This small tool is a perfect utility for file operations over a network, with the ability to connect to FTP and SFTP servers, WebDAV servers and to the .Mac iDisk service.

    What's more important about it? The program does so in a transparent way, and actually maps a drive letter to the server. When used over a private network such as a VPN tunnel or Hamachi, then you have a nice and secure way of accesing your server and copy files from and to it.

    As a bonus, WebDrive maps can be used from the command line, making it perfect for scheduling backup operations from scripts for example.

    Not a free software, but an important tool on my desktop.

    Windows Live Hotspot Locator is... Live!

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Aug-2006 10:24

    Another application being released by Microsoft is the Windows Live Hotspot Locator. The information present here is not much different from what you get from other sites such as jiwire or even our own Geekzone Find Wi-Fi Hotspot page (data provided by HotSpotHeaven).

    Actually the data returned by Microsoft's Windows Live Hotspost Locator is provided by jiwire.

    The interesting thing is the complete integration with maps provided by Windows Local Live. The only problem is that all maps are wrong (at least for New Zealand). Take a look in the screenshot below and you will notice that the pushpin is pointing to an address at least six blocks away from the actual location.

    But wait, there's more! It doesn't matter what location you select for Wellington, New Zealand, the map is the same. It's not a cache problem, because I tried the same on Firefox (yes, it runs on Firefox and really well!) and the maps were all the same.

    Also, for New Zealand results you will see that Telecom New Zealand is listed as "iPass", while CafeNet gets its own label "CafeNet".

    So, really, just another service adding to a bunch of well established providers out there... Sorry, but that's the truth.

    I am looking for a fast wireless access point router

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2006 18:11

    We currently have a Belkin F5D7230-4 here, and although it's a great device (been up 24/7 for the last few years, and another Belkin before that went 24/7 for at least 3 years) I feel like it could deliver a bit more performance.

    We have a 10Mbps cable-modem connection here, with my Windows XP Pro desktop, a second Windows XP Pro desktop running Virtual Server with a Windows Server 2003 guest OS, a tablet PC, an Apple iMac and a couple of Pocket PCs. Of those, only the tablet PC and Pocket PCs connect via Wi-Fi. And visitors' devices of course. All other PCs are connected via ethernet.

    I also would like to have a better control of its firewall, such as better logging, to know what's going on, alarms, etc. If possible some intrusion detection too.

    So, if you have any suggestions I'd like to hear (or read). I don't mind another Belkin, I am happy with the brand, but please no D-Link models - any!

    Update your Intel Centrino based laptops Part II

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2006 10:20

    A few weeks ago I posted about an update for the wireless drivers used by Centrino-based laptops and tablet PCs (Update your Intel Centrino based laptops and tablet PCs now). This is a follow up post.

    I've seen mention to this very important update everywhere on the Internet. But what was not mentioned afterwards was the finding from F-Secure (which was the first to report the vulnerability) of memory leaks in the Intel wireless service used to manage wi-fi connections.

    The way to solve this issue is to use the Microsoft Windows Wireless Zero Config service instead and disable/remove the Intel PROSet/Wireless Service, keeping the new drivers in place (or installing the drivers manually).

    Instructions from F-Secure and a report from SANS.

    You should end up with drivers version even if using the Windows configuration service.

    Brace yourself: more e-mail campaigns on its way to New Zealanders!

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2006 10:08

    An interesting read on NZ Herald today... We found out that Onecard, the loyalty programme run by supermarket operator Progressive Enterprises here in New Zealand (read Woolworths and Foodtown) is now selling e-mail addreses from their database.

    The article tells us how marketers can "rent" information for email campaigns from the 1.5 million-name database.

    Progressive Enterprises' loyalty programme manager, Bridget Lamont, said companies previously ran traditional direct marketing campaigns using the data, but email gave an additional, low-cost channel.
    The company had email addresses for about 15 per cent of Onecard members, but was aiming to collect more.

    "It cost us a fraction of a traditional direct marketing campaign," said Lamont.

    I imagine they probably have a fineprint somewhere in the registration form with something such as "from time to time we will contact you with offers from selected partners" or something along these lines. But this is scary, because an e-mail blitz campaign is much cheaper than voice calls, so companies will probably jump to the opportunity of having a cheap way to flood consumers with their "special offers".

    You should either not give up your e-mail address on these forms, or use a spam-catch e-mail and simply disregard these things.

    Please make Firefox more user friendly

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2006 09:10

    I, like many other PC users, tend to use the most adequate tool for a computer task. Sometimes may not be the best one, but if it performs well, why bother with something else?

    Now, a lot of people advocate Firefox. And while it is a good looking browser, and in some respects safer than other alternatives, I don't necessarily want to use it. So I keep with Internet Explorer (by the way, I just installed Internet Explorer 7 Release Candidate 1 and it is a slick browser). 

    This week I decided to have Firefox open on my second monitor. You see, even though IE7 seems to do all I need, it still fails to work with some "web 2.0" applications and the only way I could use that was by running Firefox.

    And while there, I thought, why not have it showing my server's stats? Easy, just connect to LogMeIn IT Reach (which I talked about before) and... Oh, wait... It needs to install an extension. The yellow bar came out say something like "to install extensions, click the Options button and enable this option".

    The button was there. But not the option. I thought I've seen this option before, and rightly disabled it. But where is it to enable again?

    Nowehere to be found. So, it took me, an IT professional, about 5 minutes to figure out there was no option anywhere in the menus on Firefox to enable this. And off to Google, where I found all about the "about:config" page.

    It's like a regedit for Firefox. Hidden. Away from users. And taking my control of my experience away from me. How non-user friendly was that?

    Removing an important option from the menus and burying somewhere hard to find. Security by obscurity? And why the instructions Firefox itself gives me on how to enable installation are not accurate? The yellow bar should not reference the options if it's not there.

    After double-clicking the appropriate option, I was able to finally install the proper extension for LogMeIn to work.

    Is this kind of little things that makes me go away from an otherwise nice piece of software.

    UPDATE: on an IRC chat someone pointed to me this was an oversight, and the software is still Beta. Forgive me, but a Beta software that claims to have an important part of the browser market should not be beta, but considered production. Some people are not here to test applications, but to work with them.

    Nick Randolph's new book: Professional Visual Studio 2005

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Aug-2006 15:57

    Nick Randolph from Perth, Australia is currently in Wellington, New Zealand on a six month contract. He's also a fellow Microsoft MVP (his competency is Visual Developer - Device Application Development, while mine is Mobile Devices) and is already integrated into the Wellington user group crowd (plus attends my Wednesday coffee meetings at Astoria).

    He's also an author and his latest book Professional Visual Studio 2005 (co-authored with Andrew Parsons) is available from Amazon:

    He's the guy on the right side on the cover. Well done, Nick! You can find more on Nick Randolph's blog.

    freitasm's profile

    Mauricio Freitas
    New Zealand

    I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

    I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

    Subscribe now to my blog RSS feed or the Geekzone RSS feed.

    If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

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