Tag Archives: troubleshoot

More Network Tools for Professionals: PacketTrap pt360


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In some cases, you may be connected to the Intranet – meaning you need a set of tools to help you troubleshoot problems, or see a problem before you know it exists. PacketTrap’s pt360 allows you to flow results between tools, save network settings and favorites. The powerful, yet easy to use pt360 helps you tame your network.

You’ve pinged a server before to see how it responds. Instead of just getting numbers back, pt360 will give you a graphical presentation of how your website looks. There are a total of 14 extra tools that come with pt360 Pro, including things like Cisco config backup and a NetFlow analyzer. The free version is more limited, but still very useful. They are consolidating a bunch of open-source tools into one dashboard. It’s hard to build your own interface, and PacketTrap has taken that difficulty away for you.

The suite of tools is all wrapped up into one graphical user interface, and is tabbed for ease of use. You can use the Enhanced Ping tool to list your DNS, as well. There’s also a DNS search tool, which allows you to check to see what sites are owned by whom.

Offered at just $99, the PacketTrap pt360 Tool Suite PRO consolidates dozens of network management and monitoring tools into a single, integrated interface. When ordering, you can receive a free tshirt, simply by entering the coupon code CHRISPIRILLO.

This tool is great for small business owners, and even IT techs who have to go out into the field to troubleshoot networks. The tab feature is very easy and convenient to use. We use tabs in our web browsers, so it makes sense to use them in our network tools.

Many of the similar tools you’ll find will cost you well over $1000.00. This one, however, is only $99.00. This makes it super-affordable for the smaller businesses who simply cannot afford those high-end tools. And best of all – this program works just as well – if not better than many of those others!

Download PacketTrap pt360 today and try it free for seven days. I guarantee that at the end of the trial, you’ll be ready to buy the suite for yourself.

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Windows 7: Problem Steps Recorder


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I never thought I’d say this again – but I’m looking forward to the next version of Windows. In playing with Windows 7, I’ve discovered features that will prove very useful. You’ll definitely fall in love with this particular feature. The Problem Steps Recorder will come in quite handy and be something you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.

If you’ve ever been trying to do tech support to other users via the Internet or telephone, you know how difficult it can be. You may feel like you’re going crazy, trying to make them able to clearly define and describe the problems. Most of the time, it’s not the user’s fault – it’s just not easy to put the problems into words. The Problem Steps Recorder will change all of that.

The tool is an easy-to-use (yet advanced!) variation of screen capturing software. It’s almost like a print screen, of sorts. It has this little advantage of documenting all of the mouse clicks and key strokes that are being done. It grabs all of the technical mumbo jumbo, and ties it all together into a nice little report for you, the tech person, to read.

Ahhh, the report. The reports are amazing! It is actually an XML page which shows each step of the user’s actions, including screenshots with those items highlighted! You can look at the report “as is”, or in a slideshow. Heck, if you’re feeling really frisky, you can dig into the XML to look at every fine detail!

I just… can’t say enough about this feature. It’s practical. It’s useful. It’s easy to use. It’s about time! Kudos to the dev team at Microsoft. This is a definite win!

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Free Network Tools for Troubleshooting

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Josh is joining us once again from solarwinds. We always have a great time when we get together to give all of you tips and tricks – not to mention great deals on excellent software! Be sure to check out what’s available on our partner page. Today, Josh wanted to tell us about the top five free network tools that you can use to keep your network up and running. Let’s take a look at what he has for us!

  • Real-time NetFlow Analyzer – Real-time NetFlow Analyzer captures and analyzes this data in real time to show you exactly what types of traffic are on your network, where that traffic is coming from, and where it is going. Real-time NetFlow Analyzer displays inbound and outbound traffic separately for granular analysis that makes problem diagnosis quick and easy. Now you know exactly how your bandwidth is being used and by whom.
  • VM Monitor – Virtual machines and their host servers need performance and availability monitoring, just like their physical server counterparts. VM Monitor is a desktop tool that monitors a VMware ESX Server and its virtual machines, delivering the real-time monitoring that you’ve been missing. You’ll be able to track virtual server health at-a-glance and ensure your mission-critical apps never fail you.
  • Exchange Monitor – Exchange Monitor delivers a clever desktop dashboard that monitors Microsoft Exchange to deliver real-time insight into Exchange services, mail queue sizes, and host server health. With Exchange Monitor at your fingertips, you’ll be able to track Exchange health, and ensure this critical app never fails you.
  • TFTP Server – TFTP Server is a multi-threaded TFTP server commonly used to upload and download executable images and configurations to routers and switches. The free TFTP Server runs on most Microsoft operating systems.
  • Advanced Subnet Calculator – Are you tired of subnet calculators with limitations? Other free subnet calculators only offer one function, do not allow exporting, and usually require a purchase to enable all the features.

Be sure to check out our full solarwinds page for many more tips and tricks you may need. solarwinds has some excellent software, to help make your job easier. Thanks so much to Josh, as usual, for making networking so much fun. Long live the Hulk!

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Geek Tools

What are you doing with your second monitor? If you don’t have a second monitor attached to your system, either you’re always mobile with a laptop, or you’re crazy. I couldn’t live without a second screen – yes, you’d be surprised at how quickly 30″ fills up. I keep my instant messenger, chat, etc. – applications that I need to see at a moment’s notice, but not all the time. Yes, I could use a virtual desktop (with a great degree of ease in Mac OS X). However, that would require a lot of screen flipping just to see if a new notification has come in.

If you’ve watched any one of my videos in recent weeks, or you’ve seen the live stream, then you may have seen green text on my leftmost monitor (if I have it on during recording, or if the screen saver hasn’t yet kicked in). The text is dynamic, sitting in the foreground, showing me which processes are consuming the most CPU cycles or memory – as well as showing me the latest entries in the system log. Even if you don’t have a second screen on your system, you’ll want to use this software. It’s more useful to geeks, but I guess that’s why they call it GeekTool.

I recorded a quick screencast to show you just how easy it is to configure (you don’t really need to be a geek to enjoy the tool’s fruits). You can use GeekTool to render shell commands, read text files live, or display static image URLs directly on your desktop. It’s easier to use this than it is to open a terminal window just to see the same data. I’m sure many of you are already using GeekTool – and, if so, I’d love to see which shell commands you’re using in your installation. I could always use more!

Anyway, here’s what it can do for you:

My GeekTool commands / file watches:

  • ps -Aro %cpu,ucomm,user
  • ps -Amo rsz,ucomm,user
  • sysctl vm.loadavg | sed s/’^vm.loadavg: ‘//
  • /var/log/system.log

Of course, GeekTool is only available for Mac OS X – but I bet you might know of something similar for either Windows or Linux. Feel free to share your discoveries (or Mac OS X shell commands)… I’m all pixels!

Is PC Tech Support a Gamble?


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When something goes wrong with your computer, how do you diagnose it? Do you start with making sure cables are plugged in properly, and then test components one-by-one? Why not do it the easy way from now on? Just roll the dice and let them tell you the problem.

The PC Diagnostic Dice are available from ThinkGeek for only $20.00. They’re a must-have for all of the IT people in your life.

IT-support personnel have a difficult job. Constant phone calls and emails from people barely smart enough to operate their computers can grate on you after a while. Before too long, every support phone call sounds the same.

As you get older, you realize that people don’t necessarily want to know exactly what the problem is. What they really want is assurance that someone is there, listening, and is ready to come to their aid. The chances that you can actually walk them through fixing their problem is minuscule – you’re going to have to take a visit anyway, so why bother putting in the effort now?

With the new PC Dice diagnostic system, give your users the reassurance they need while maintaining your sanity. Just a quick toss of the dice, and all the information you need is right there. Three dice describe the problem, the culprit, and the solution.

According to the dice, you need to rush off now and fix your modem… or was it your cable? Maybe it was the little doohickey that hangs down inside the whatchamacallit.

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