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Monday, September 24, 2012

Useful Software: Desktop Restore

Desktop Restore is a handy little tool that lets you save the positions of icons on your desktop.  It's especially useful if you have multiple monitors and you have icons on those monitors. Saving and restoring is done by right clicking the desktop and selecting your desired action from the context menu.  You can even create multiple saves and restore different layouts.

You can download it at http://www.midiox.com/desktoprestore.htm Desktop Restore is freeware and the latest version is officially compatible with Windows XP, 2000 and Vista.  I have personally tested the latest version on two Windows 2003 Server computers and have encountered no problems.  There are other versions that are compatible with 64Bit windows and Windows 98/ME.
Sunday, September 23, 2012

Useful Software: Process Explorer

Process Explorer is an awesome task manager replacement.   With it you can view all applications running on your computer (even ones Windows TaskMan hides), get more information about your application (working memory, peak working memory, etc.) and more!  You can even see which applications are sub-processes of a parent application. It's great to use on servers because you get much more control over processes and you can see more.  There is one major problem though, if you play games on your computer, and the game uses SecuRom disc protection, the game will not run when Process Explorer is running.  You will have to disable Process Explorer  from replacing the Task Manager and restart your computer.  The reason this is, is because Process Explorer includes a Debugger and SecuRom detects it as a hack tool.  Aside from that, its safe to use.  The original programmer was hired by Microsoft a few years ago and the download site is on the Microsoft website.

Process Explorer

You can download it at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx. Wikipedia Article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process_Explorer. Process Explorer is Freeware and works on Windows XP and Higher and Windows 2003 Server and Higher.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Useful Software: TreeSize Free

TreeSize Free is a great tool that shows you all the files and folders on your hard drive and the size of them.  It's great to use when you're running out of hard drive space and you want to deleted something but don't know what.

TreeSize Free

Several years ago i ran this tool, and discovered a 2GB page file that wasnt used for several years.  I deleted it and recovered 2GB so i didnt need to buy a new hard drive right away. TreeSize Free is freeware and you can download it at http://www.jam-software.com/freeware/index.shtml. Wikipedia article is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TreeSize. The latest version is compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista. Version 2.1 is compatible with Windows 9x/ME.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Troubleshooting SRCDS Crashes

The majority of Source Engine crashes are due to plugin errors and exceeding engine limits on maps. When you're faced with a constant crash on your server, there are a few steps you should take to pinpoint the culprit.

First ask yourself a few questions: Does it always happen on the same map? Were players in the server when it crashed? Does it crash on startup or on map change? Once you have the answers to these questions you can then start troubleshooting. First off, try running the server with no plugins.  This means don't load metamod, sourcemod, Eventscripts, etc.  Let the server run like this for a few days.  If there are no crashes then you've at least pinpointed that its not a corrupt installation. If it still crashes, than either you have a misconfigured CVAR or your installation is corrupt (delete all steam files and re-run the update process).  You will know if there is a crash by looking in the root directory of the server for MDMP files, MDMP files are created whenever you server crashes and are created at the time of the crash.  You can't see whats in the MDMP file though, only the developer of the mod or game can.  MDMP files are just usefull so you know the date and time of the crash.

To troubleshoot plugin problems, first try running the server with the default plugins that came with your administration tool.  Than every day or few days after that add 3 to 6 of the custom plugins you are using.  If the server crashes again, than its likely one of the last few plugins you added so remove a few of them and let the server run for a few days again. This method can take a few days to a few weeks, but its the best way to find the plugin that is causing the crashes.

 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Useful Software: Moo0 SystemMonitor

Moo0 SystemMonitor is an application that displays various system statistics right on your desktop.  It has a large variety of sensors like CPU usage per core, free memory, hard drive temperature,  incoming and outgoing bandwidth and much much more. It doesn't use too many system resources (ive noticed on 2 server systems and 1 client system that it uses around 20MB of memory and between 0.20% to 1.3% CPU).  It's an especially useful application to use on a server since you can monitor everything going on in one central location. You can change skins, increase/decrease the font size, change transparency, dock it, auto hide it, change the layout and more.

 Moo0 SystemMonitor

You can download Moo0 SystemMonitor from http://www.moo0.com/software/SystemMonitor/ Moo0 SystemMonitor is freeware and is compatible with Windows XP/2003/Vista

Friday, August 10, 2012

Interactive Services Detection - Accessing Session 0 on demand via the command line

Note that the FireDaemon Pro installer enables the UI0Detect service plus allows you to switch to the Session 0 desktop via the FireDaemon GUI or CLI.

Also check out the FireDaemon Session 0 Viewer. It supersedes the method of switching to and remaining on Session 0 as outlined below.

Windows Vista introduced us to the concept of Session 0 Isolation. This was in response to the need to isolate highly privileged service applications from malicious applications running in user space. These malicious applications would attempt to inject arbitrary code via into the service application via the application's message loop. These attacks are classified as shatter attacks. The net effect of this is that interactive Windows services are only available on Session o (or the Console session). When you log on to your Vista, 2008 or Windows 7 machine you now no longer login to Session 0 but into Session 1. Session 0 Isolation becomes problematic when attempting to run applications under FireDaemon as the interactive component (ie. the application's "visible" GUI) is no longer visible on the currently logged on session. Luckily Microsoft supplies the Interactive Services Detection Service on Windows Vista, 2008 and 7 to allow you access to Session 0 so you can interact with any interactive services (including FireDaemon ones) running on that session. Enabling the Interactive Service Detection Service (UI0Detect - that's UI "zero" Detect) is completed fastest at the command line. You will need to be an administrator to do this. Open an elevated command prompt and type:

sc config ui0detect start= auto

followed by

sc start ui0detect

Interactive Services Detection

Once that is done you will notice the Interactive Services Detection popup in the Task Bar:

 

This dialog can be annoying and is easily dismissed by clicking on Ask me later. The problem then arises on how to switch to the Session 0 desktop when the Interactive Services Detection popup is not present? There are two undocumented system calls available which allow you to switch to and from Session 0: WinStationSwitchToServicesSession and WinStationRevertFromServicesSession. These two system calls only work if the Interactive Services Detection service is running. To switch to Session 0 enter the following at a command prompt:

 rundll32 winsta.dll,WinStationSwitchToServicesSession

Windows will switch desktop and you will find yourself on Session 0. You can then revert back to your logged in session by clicking on Return now or entering the following at a command prompt:

rundll32 winsta.dll,WinStationRevertFromServicesSession


Friday, July 13, 2012

How do I increase my game performance

Games often require you to have a fast computer.  Especially newer games. If you encounter 25 FPS or lower in your games, then something is slowing it and affecting your game performance. You should (if possible) be running a minimum of 30FPS at all times or else it will be difficult to play the game smoothly. The following steps will help you to increase your game performance: 1) Check your process list before starting your game.  Often anti-virus software and other applications that read or write to the hard drive will slow down your game performance.  Especially applications that defrag it, they really slow it down. 2) Defragging. Not only does it increase the life span of your hard drive, but it also makes games run faster.  Why?  It because it puts all the files that the game needs to run in one continuous space instead of spread out all over the hard drive.  You should defrag at least once a month, but better yet is daily (preferably during off hours like at night). The defragger built into windows cannot be scheduled so you'll either have to remember to run it periodically or use My Defrag.  It's a freeware defrag tool that can be scheduled. 3) If you did the two things above and your games are still performing poorly.  There's a few things you can do in-game to improve your game performance:

  • Screen Resolution: extremely high screen resolutions will really hurt game performance. : try reducing it to 1024x768.
  • Shadows: sure they add realism but they really put alot of strain on your video card.  Try putting them at low or even off.
  • Aniscopic Filtering: this makes objects ahead of you more clear.  It's a real game performance hog though so you should leave it disabled.
  • Anti Aliasing: this makes the edges of objects slightly blurry.  It also puts a lot of strain on your video card and unless you're really paying attention, you wont notice it most of the time so just leave it disabled for that extra performance boost.
  • Texture Quality: the last thing you can try is reducing texture quality.  Higher textures take up more video card memory.

If you tried all these things and your game is still performing badly than your only course of action is to upgrade your computer to increase your game performance. First look at your video card.  How much memory does it have?  If its less than 256MB, you really should upgrade it as most games today require at least 512MB to run smoothly with higher settings.  Also look at how much ram you have.  You should have at least 2GB on 32-bit windows.  Don't get higher than that on a 32-bit operating system because 32-bit windows is unable to enable more than 2.2 GB.  The best thing you can do is get 4GB but only on 64-bit windows (all the memory will be usable). If you want to run your game server as a Windows Service you can do so with FireDaemon Pro and Manage via the web/iPhone/iPad with Fusion. If you have any other tips on game performance, feel free to share them in the comments below.

 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Identifying HDS HNAS Mercury M100 Hardware Revision

The BlueArc / HDS HNAS Mercury M100 has had minimally two distinct hardware revisions. The initial revision of the hardware was sometimes unreliable. To determine which hardware revision you are running do the following:

  1. Determine the management IP addresses of the nodes in your Mercury cluster . To do this log into the SMU (eg. https://smu) as admin. Then go to Home -> Server Settings -> Cluster Configuration and record the IP addresses of the cluster nodes (eg. 192.0.2.200 and 192.0.2.201).
  2. Then ssh into the SMU (eg. ssh [email protected]). Hit q to get to the command prompt.
  3. At the command prompt of the SMU ssh to each cluster node individually (eg. ssh 192.0.2.200).
  4. Run the following command: ver -h | grep Tachyon
  5. The output of that command will determine which hardware revision you are running:
    1. Rev A hardware is identified as follows: Tachyon: QX4 1.2 (HPFC-6440C)
    2. Rev B hardware is identified as follows: Tachyon: QE4+ 1.1 (PM8036 (Rev B))
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

HDS HNAS Bluarc EVS Routing

You may have the need to set a default gateway on a BlueArc EVS (Enterprise Virtual Server). After you have configured the networking side of your EVS (via Home -> Server Settings -> EVS Management). Then go into Home -> Network Configuration -> Routing and add a gateway route for the subnet in question.

 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Disabling CIFS Authentication on a HDS HNAS EVS In Standalone Security Mode

You might need to create a BlueArc EVS (Enterprise Virtual Server) with CIFS security disabled. You can't do this through the GUI. So at the SMU command line:

1. Work out the EVS ID:

evs list

2. Select the EVS:

evs-select <id>

3. Disable domain authentication for CIFS:

cifs-auth off

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