Friday, March 29, 2013

Verizon's Android 4.2.2 Update and Battery Drain

UPDATE: After re-adding the email settings, it no longer drains my battery.  It may be different for other phones, so your mileage may vary.  Try re-adding the email account to see what happens.  Good luck!

Original post:

On Tuesday night, I received a notification that Verizon published the 4.2.2. update for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  Having read about the features, I was excited to install the update immediately.  The very first thing I noticed was that the phone began getting very hot.  I rebooted my phone just before I went to bed, deciding that I would deal with it on Wednesday.

Wednesday was a day of me searching for outlets to keep my phone charged.  Within an hour of removing the charging cable, my phone was down to around 10% battery.  Looking at the battery usage, "Exchange Services" was eating over 60%!  I tried various settings to adjust the sync intervals, all to no avail.  Reluctantly, I then removed my corporate email account.  I noticed an immediate difference in temperature - or should I say lack thereof; it was no longer burning hot!  Monitoring the phone all day Thursday, I can confirm it seems that was the fix.

So, if anyone out there is running a Verizon SCH-i515 Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and your battery drain is as rampant as mine was, delete/remove your corporate email profile.

I haven't tried re-adding it yet.  I'll give that a shot Friday and update the post with the test results.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Best Way to Get Your New House in Google Maps

Update (7/12/2014): If after you get your house listed following the instructions below you're uncomfortable with the street view photo, you can use the same steps to blur it out!  Original post follows:

A colleague recently bought a newly constructed home, and experienced the problem of people not being able to find his address in Google Maps.  I found it irritating myself when I was trying to visit him and had to use the GPS coordinates (long-press) of the location.  So, we set to the task of finding a way to get his house listed.

Attempt #1: Google Map Maker (FAIL)

When you begin researching how to do this, you'll run across guidance suggesting to use Google Map Maker to submit the address to Google Map Reviewers.  Once you open Map Maker, you'll see something like this:

Upon clicking the ADD NEW button, you'll see there are four options: Add A Place; Add Roads, Rivers, Railways; Add Building Outlines; and Add Natural Features and Political Boundaries.  Logically, a house seems to fit under "Add A Place."  Once selected, Map Maker asks you to zoom in to the area and position the marker over the spot.  After the marker is dropped, you'll see a pop-up asking you to identify a category to which this place belongs.  Going through all this, you'll see that there are no categories for residential addresses.

We decided to try neighborhood/community and see if the people moderating would check with the local post office for a complete street listing.  Although the community did get correctly listed, the address was based on the side street and the houses were not listed individually with the separate street names.  Tears...

Attempt #2: Google Maps - Report a Problem (SUCCESS!)

When opening Google Maps, there's a link in the lower right-hand corner as well as on the left titled "Report a Problem":

A menu will display offering choices.  You need to pick Address/Marker and drag the marker that appears on the map over to your house.  Once you let go of dragging the marker over, a box appears asking for input.  This is where you tell Google what the address for that location should be, and submit the report.

Attempt #2 took a week to get it resolved, whereas Attempt #1 took three months and was still incorrect.

Now I can type in his address in Google Maps!  

Happy Cartography-ing!
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cloud Intelligence: Leverage the User Base!

I'm not sure if other tech writers have already identified this trend, but it seems that every network security vendor identified by Gartner as one of the leading vendors in their areas of specialization is enabling their devices with "cloud intelligence."

First, what do I mean by cloud intelligence?  Others may have a different definition, but to me cloud intelligence means analysis of user-generated data in the cloud to glean something of value.  The benefit of doing so is baking the results of that analysis into feature updates or supplemental information to already embedded features to be used by that same user base.

So, where is this happening?  I can think of three off the top of my head:

  1. Blue Coat's WebPulse
  2. McAfee's Global Threat Intelligence
  3. Palo Alto's WildFire
Each of these solutions receive input from their deployed products that send information of varying types, depending on what data points the vendors consider important.  The goal of this "phone home" feature is so the vendor can leverage what is seen in the field to protect others.  So, if Company A sees malware X and it gets reported to the cloud, the vendor can protect all other companies using the feature.

Most of these products require an opt-in, because not every organization is comfortable sending the information to the vendor.  What are your thoughts?  Would you feel more comfortable leveraging cloud intelligence, or does it invoke paranoia?
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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dell PowerEdge 2950: Silence the Noise, Part 1


Recently, I've accepted the task to build out a lab using donated equipment so people can practice for cyber security competitions.  This donated equipment includes four or five Dell PowerEdge servers; one 2950 and three or four 2850s.  After researching the system specs, the 2950 seemed like a good place to start since it was the model that could take the most additional memory.  It came with four 512 MB DIMMs (a whole gig!), but we swapped those out with  six 4GB DIMMs and an additional two 2GB DIMMs, enabling us to get to 28GB for memory.

Quick side note for others - the memory slots are paired 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 so you can't have an odd man out.  I actually had five 4GB DIMMs, but I installed the fifth in slot 5 with a 2 GB stick in slot 6, and the start up checks kindly informed me of the mismatch.  Once I swapped out the 4GB so slots five through eight were homogeneous, I was good for memory and received no memory check errors.

The Issue

When powering on the 2950, it's idle fan sound is overbearing.  I live in a town home, and this server is placed in a closet in the basement 14 feet below the main floor yet I can still hear it whining away.  To say this server is loud isn't enough, it's LOUD.  

My first attempt at reducing the noise was to remove two of the four chassis fans, since this server isn't going to be heavily tested.  I put the cover on, powered it up, and went to the main floor to see the difference.  It was definitely an improvement, but I could still clearly hear the humming.    An audio meter indicates it's at about 70+ decibels, with two fans removed!

At this point, I figured I needed to take a look at these fans to see if there was a way to control their speed and/or look for acceptable replacements.  Research typically reveals one of three things:

  1. Brent Ozar's fine post about quieting a PowerEdge 1950
  2. Another author's post on hacking the BMI
  3. Multiple forums of people telling 2950 owners to buy a new box
Brent's post provides great advice on switching out the fans for a 1950, but the fans mentioned in his post are a different size than the 60mm x 60mm x 35mm of the 2950 fans.

Hacking the BMI seemed a little intimidating to start off with, so I decided to pursue that as the last option.

This equipment was donated expressly because of the lack of funds, so option 3 is out.

I decided to research alternate fans first...
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Dell PowerEdge 2950: Staging the RAID

The Dell PowerEdge 2950 comes with a hardware RAID controller, which needs to be invoked during boot (press Ctrl + R at the prompt).  Once the PERC 5/i Integrated BIOS Configuration Utility loads, you can follow the handy guide over at to set up the hardware RAID.  Their guide cites the PERC 6/i, but the steps are the same.

Thanks, Ramesh (the author)!

I have four 2TB disks installed, and I selected them all to participate in the RAID-5.  Some brief research reveals that in a RAID-5 with four disks, all parity bits are stored on one drive.  I would ask if anyone could confirm that, but I'm R'ingTFM.  In the mean time though, feel free to chime in.  :)

Update: Make sure after you stage the RAID, you select your Virtual Disk and press either the right arrow key or enter.  In the Initialization menu, there will be a Fast Initialization which you definitely want to select.  It will save you hours of build time (48 in my case).  It may pop up and tell you there's an initialization already in progress, but go ahead and break that one to start the fast init.  Add it the lessons learned! 
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