All posts by JamesA

SolarWinds Alert Timers

We use Solarwinds to monitor IP SLA performance on some important MPLS connections.

We have them set up to alert us if a circuit starts responding at slower than 160 ms.

An email went get sent to Tier 1 support to investigate.

You can read how to set up alerts on Solarwinds:

Now, A slow ping every once in a while is expected and fine. We don’t want to cry wolf. To keep the noise level down and actually only raise an incident when the line is degraded we need to implement alert timers.

There are 3 timers we can use in a Solarwinds Alert:

1. Trigger Condition Timer

How long an issue needs to be reported before an alert is raised.

Adjust this to make the alert more or less sensitive.

2. Reset Condition Timer

How long an issue needs to stop happening before the alert is automatically cleared.

Adjust this to keep the alert from flapping. you don’t want a million emails on a link that keeps going up/down.

3. Triger Action Timer

How long the alert needs to be active before the action happens (usually an email, but can do a lot of things.)

Adjust this to give the link a chance to stabalize. Set it longer than the reset timer (or 2x the reset timer depending on urgency)

There are also polling timers that come in to play, but we don’t generally alter them.


Delayed or slowed typing in office

Every time I get a new computer I have to make some adjustments.

One that kills me is the delayed or slow typing in Outlook and Excel. Other office products like word also have the issue.

It’s caused by animations in windows 8.1

Search “edit system environment variables”

Advanced tab.

Performance settings.

Uncheck animate controls and elements.

You could uncheck a bunch of other stuff as well to make windows feel more snappy.

Ransomeware – Popcorn Time

New ransomeware that lets people unlock their pcs by​ infecting other people.

​Since computer security is getting better the hackers need to be a bit more clever with how they spread their malware.

This is kind of interesting idea. if someone is embarrased that they got infected they might try to spread it to other people to get themselves unlocked before netops finds out.

I could see this spreading through a company with bad policies in place and poorly educated users.

Devious Ransomware Frees You if You Infect Two Other People

Thanks Tony for passing along the story.

Automated Network Security

IBM’s Watson is now being employed by 40 test companies to monitor/handle network security.

This is going to be an awesome tool once it’s done.

I could see it changing the roles of network security professionals around the world.

you could also look at this as an example of smarter computers replacing humans. Nobody’s job is safe from automation.

Keep learning. Keep growing.

Solarwinds – Thwack

​You should have a thwack ​account. if you don’t have one, get one.

You’ll get notices on some interesting things from time to time and you’ll be able to ask the usergroup questions and learn some cool things.

Today I got an alert about a lab on scripting happing.

It was informative discussion on using the compliance manager tools in solarwinds. You can create your own compliance settings or use one of the pre-built scripts.

They spoke of using remediation from right inside the script, but I would feel a lot more comfortable running, checking the devices that failed, and then remediating manually or then using the remediation scripting portion.

Skype – no longer able to exit

Seems that there has been an update to Windows/Skype and it no longer gives the option to quit Skype by right clicking on the icon in the task bar.

I quickly Googled and didn’t find a way to quit Skype.

The menus inside Skype also don’t include a quit option.

I can picture a bunch of Microsoft execs sitting in a room discussing how to get more people to use Skype.
Maybe if we don’t let them exit they will learn to love it.

For now I’m exiting using the Task Manager
Right click on the task bar, click Task Manager.
In the Process tab under Apps there should be a listing for Skype.
Right click and choose – End Task.

This will close Skype.

*** Update – 6/25 ***

It seems that the option to close Skype has returned.
The easiest way to exit Skype is to right click on the Skype icon in the task bar and select Quit Skype

Creating animated gifs from movie files.

Recently I needed help a client create a web page / script to create animated gifs from video files.

I wrote up details on what was needed and how to achieve it using php, ffmpeg, and imagemagick.

saving here in case I might need in the future or maybe I could help someone out that is looking to do the same thing.

For a web interface:

input: Video ID, Start Time, Length (max 5 seconds), frames per second
hit go – ffmpeg portion runs and creates thumbs.

output: png images that are created.
ability to chose start-point and end-point thumbnail
ability to delete specific thumbnails

radio button for normal (default) | black & white | Sepia
Speed button: normal (default) | SlowMotion | Speed x2 (would be great if we could do a slider of some sort that would alter r/d)
Create button – takes all png images between start-point and end-point and creates animated gif

thumbnails should still be available for fine tuning if .gif didn’t turn out as expected.

Upload button – clicking will take final .gif and upload/move it to somewhere on our web server.


convert – set colorspace RGB -sepia-ton 80% -delay 12 +map -ordered-dither o8x8,19 -layers Optimize *.png gstepmom.gif

Black&White –
convert -set colorspace RGB -colorspace Gray -delay 12 +map -ordered-dither o8x8,19 -layers Optimize *.png gstepmom.gif

convert -delay 11 -ordered-dither o8x8,19 +map -layers Optimize *.png stepmom.gif
speed normal – 100/r=d
speed slow – 100/rd