Hardware

Processors, graphics cards, solid state drives and much more is all in this section of the site!

It’s that magical time of the year where…new network switches arrive! Given that the new Aruba branding has taken full control of what was ProCurve I thought I should post some photos of the new paintwork. Happy to say the colour black isn’t half bad!

Included in the images are

  • J9729A 2920-48G-PoE+
  • J9728A 2920-48G
  • J9731A 2920 2-Port 10Gbe SFP+ Module
  • J9733A 2920 2-Port Stacking Module
  • J9734A 2920 0.5m Stacking Cable

Work is coming along nicely with the Server Room, we’ve now removed the last Cisco switch from our infrastructure and the HP 5400R series switch is deployed replacing the 2530 that was in its place; over time we’ll be bringing more fibre from our edge switches into this room as well hence the number of SFP+ ports on the 5400R. The entire front of the cabinet is now populated with hardware or a blanking panel as well (panels available from Comms Express) to keep things looking tidy. I wish there were a little more that I could do with the cables coming into the 5400R however with a very narrow rack there’s not much that can be done.

Some interesting things have come out of both Rucks and PaloAlto recently in that they offer Hyper-V compatible VMs for their services which could free up a further 3U of space and remove a further 4-6 cables out of the picture.

Looking for some fun ways to get more out of your your Smart Card deployment? If so have you tried……?

  1. Use Smart Cards to login to your Servers via Remote Desktop
  2. Use Smart Cards with the PowerShell Get-Credential Commandlet
  3. Use Smart Cards with your Firewall for single sign on
  4. Use Smart Cards to login to IIS Web Applications (just a box to tick and a radio option to select)
  5. Store multiple identities on your Smart Card and assign different (and perhaps more complex) PINs to the identities

Have a look at the screen shots below for some more details…

If you are looking for a free tool to manage some of the more intricate features of the Gemalto IDPrime .NET and MD cards then the Mini-Driver Manager (downloadable from http://www.gemalto.com/products/dotnet_card/resources/development.html) may well fit the bill. However it has one small downfall in that out of the box it only allows you to manage cards with the Admin Key set to 48 0s or 48 Fs with neither option being much use to anyone once they have changed the Admin PIN.

Luckily these values are only set in a INI file so its pretty easy to change them to anything else.

Please note that this guide uses a feature in Notepad++ to elevate an application to have local Admin access, you can download Notepad++ from https://notepad-plus-plus.org however you could also use plain old Notepad you’ll just need to launch it as an Administrator and browse to the INI file within Notepad.

On with the guide!!

So after meaning to play with Smart Cards in greater detail for some time we’ve just received a set of cards and accessories from Smartcard Focus (http://www.smartcardfocus.com/) including….

  • Gemalto GemPC Shell Token V2 (IDBridge K30) (a USB dongle style Smart Card reader which you can see in the screen shot sequence below)
  • Gemalto IDPrime .NET smartcard – SIM cut (to go in the IDBridge K30)
  • Gemalto IDPrime .NET card – just your standard Smart Card
  • Omnikey 3121 – just your standard Smart Card reader

One of the first things I wanted to do was get PIN complexity and policy defined; the chaps over at Gemalto provide a number of tools which can be used to manage the cards which can be downloaded from the links below…

http://www.gemalto.com/products/dotnet_card/resources/development.html

http://www.gemalto.com/products/dotnet_card/resources/libraries.html

So time to get on with the guide (which also shows you which downloads are needed from the links)!

48 0s typed out… 🙂

000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

Front Ports

Picture 1 of 5

The dock from the front; 2x USB ports (1 of which is powered) and the combined speaker/mic audio jack.

Is the desktop dead yet? Well with the 4th Gen Lenovo X1 Carbon (i5-6300U/8GB/256GB) and the ThinkPad OneLink+ Dock it might as well be! This powerful little dock has just a single cable to plug into your laptop which provides power and connectivity to the dock.

For connectivity the dock includes

  • On the front…
    • Stereo/microphone audio combo port on the front
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports on the front one of which is ‘always on’ powered – great for charging up your phone
  • On the back…
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports (or as I now call them ‘Keyboard and Mouse ports’)
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports
    • 1x Gig Ethernet port
    • 1x VGA port
    • 2x (full sized) Display Port 1.2 ports
    • Cable to your laptop
  • On the side…
    • Kensington cable lock

Compatibility

Going by the Lenovo website (Super long Lenovo link) this dock will work with the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, ThinkPad P40 Yoga, ThinkPad Yoga 14, ThinkPad Yoga 260, ThinkPad Yoga 460, X1 Carbon (4th gen), X1 Yoga.

Some super awesome little features that have really helped

  • Power on button for the laptop on the dock – even with the screen closed it’ll power on your laptop (just too bad with the screen closed I can’t get to the fingerprint reader!)
  • With the Ethernet cable plugged into the docking station the laptop will turn off its WiFi
  • The docking station comes with a power cable (thus you don’t have to sacrifice your laptops power cable or buy an additional one!)
  • Even though only one of the front ports is ‘always on’ powered the second port has no issues in powering up and running a 500GB Freecom USB Hard Disk Drive.

Stress test

So as you will have seen from the photos this screen has no issue in running 3x screens; but what about 3x screens while running a video on each screen, hammering the USB 3.0 port on the front running Crystal Disk Mark to a USB HDD, with audio streaming and my phone on charge? I certainly couldn’t notice any issue and the CPU on the X1 stayed below 22% through the test.

Heat/fan noise?

In the past I’ve seen docks like these kick out a fair amount of heat (when under load in particular) and while you can feel some heat from the OneLink+ dock it really isn’t much at all (only a few more degrees Celsius above its ‘off state’). In addition some laptops seem to ramp up their internal fan when attached to a dock – in this case the X1 Carbon behaves and under ‘productivity tasks’ I couldn’t notice the fan noise at all.

Final Verdict

I would prefer to see the VGA port replaced with a further display port (on high resolution screens VGA really does not work well) the Lenovo ThinkPad OneLink+ Dock really is an excellent bit of kit; not once have I looked back on my desktop and having extra desk space is just an added bonus.

Having recently purchased a Dell T430 tower server which we will be using for backup and Hyper-V replica I thought I’d share some photos of what the castors (an option in place of either the rack mounting kit or the floor stand feet) look like!

The castor assembly comes in a separate box to the server and only takes a minute or two to install; I perhaps was expecting slightly larger wheels however they do a good job all the same on hard floors.

The screenshot above shows a portion of the sensor in its default form; in this post I’m going to show how to…

  • Remove the red ‘downtime’ line from the bottom of the chart
  • Set maximum and minimum values of the graph to display 0 to 100%
  • Set the gauge to display its value in GByte instead of MByte

Red Downtime line

Pure aesthetics with this tweak – the memory sensor isn’t something that I would expect to ever encounter downtime (if there server were offline then the PING sensor would pause the memory sensor automatically). The only real application for the downtime sensor would be if WMI wasn’t responding.

Max and Min

PRTG will automatically set the scale for your graphs but I prefer to see the full range of 0 – 100%; this tweak makes that possible.

GByte instead of MByte

When working with servers with small amounts of RAM (lets say 4GB and less) it is typically going to work out best to view free RAM as MBytes but when working with Hyper-V hosts (48GB and 96GB in my case) GBytes are a much better value to work with.

The end result…

Its been a day or so since buying a Microsoft Band 2 (took a while to find a high street shop that had one to try on in the first place!) and its proving rather useful to me as a person who rarely has his phone turned on loud and really never notices the little vibrations from it. My most recent application of Band 2 has been using it to receive push notifications from PRTG via my Windows Phone.

In all truth if you already have push notifications setup then you are probably already getting the notifications however if you are not keep reading to find out where to check for the right settings…

On the Microsoft Health App/Band Tiles

On the PRTG App

On your PRTG Console

On your Notification Settings