Activating Windows Server 2012R2 Evaluation

CF Webtools is part of the Microsoft Network which gains us access to software for development purposes. But one gotcha is if you try to apply the license key to an already installed evaluation version of Windows Server. In this case Windows Server 2012 R2.

When you try to change the product key in the UI, it says that this product key can not be used on this version of Windows. Not that the key and evaluation type are the same standard 2016 R2 edition.

To get around this use the “DISM” command.

To determine the installed edition, run:

DISM /online /Get-CurrentEdition

To check the possible target editions, run:

DISM /online /Get-TargetEditions

Finally, to initiate an upgrade, run:

DISM /online /Set-Edition: /ProductKey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXX /AcceptEula

A server restart will be required.

edition upgrade

Note: Legally check your license. This is technical advice only.

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Anxiety Reducing Music

According to researchers at Mindlab International in the U.K., the music “Weightless” by Marconi Union promotes a high reduction in anxiety. Check it out…

AWS EBS Live Volume Modification Gotcha

We currently run some magnetic EBS volumes for data storage accessed by EC2 instances. Last month AWS announced the availability of Live Volume Modification with Elastic Volumes on EBS. This would enable a volume to expand while being in-use. Where as before you’d have to schedule downtime.

Live Volume Modification is almost a must-have feature for the web servers we run to be cost efficient and reduce any downtime. I have also noted that EBS Magnetic Volumes are now considered “previous generation” technology. (AKA: silent deprecation, just like reduced redundancy S3)

modify-disabledI attempted to expand a magnetic volume on a m3.large instance but found that the modify link was disabled. After a forum post, and the helpful reply from AWS, I found that previous generation magnetic volumes can not be modified while live.

This feature is too important and we will be moving to a SSD volume type instead to enable this feature. However it remains to be seen what restrictions we may have. Documentation states: “Current generation m3.medium instances fully support volume modification. However, some m3.large, m3.xlarge, and m3.2xlarge instances may not support all volume modification features.”

See more information at “Considerations for Modifying EBS Volumes

Forum reference: https://forums.aws.amazon.com/message.jspa?messageID=771210

#aws, #ebs, #ec2, #elastic-volumes, #live-volume-modification, #magnetic

Nest Thermostat and Heat Pumps w/ Aux

I recently found myself in a position of having the learn about heat pumps. I house I recently bought had one installed with auxiliary electric heat. What this means is that the house will heat up using the heat pump outside first. If it can’t catch up it will use the auxiliary heat to supplement. My auxiliary heat is provided by electric coils installed above the A-Coil in the air handler. But getting heat from the heat pump is about 300% more efficient than electric coils even though it will be on longer. Therefore we want to use the heat pump over auxiliary heat for cost reasons. This is called a “single-fuel” system. From what I understand, if the air handler has gas heat instead, this would be called a “dual-fuel” system.

While researching different aspects of the heat pump, I noticed that the blower was always on. Searching Google I found most people said this was normal. Though I thought it was odd. Why would it be blowing when the heat pump and coils are off?

When we had a few nice days, I decided to turn the heat off. But yet the fan still ran. This I know is not normal. Once I removed the head unit of the thermostat I found the batteries badly corroded. The electronic board was likely shorted out on the fan circuit.

I’ve been interested in getting a smart thermostat like Nest or Ecobee and have been indecisive. But now that I needed a new thermostat and the fact that I’ve got Nest Protect units installed, I decided to stick with the Nest ecosystem. I find Nest to be like Apple. Quality products but they really keep you inside their proprietary eco-system. But I decided to go with it anyway.

I have an American Standard system with an American Standard LCD thermostat. What got tricky was the B wire, which Nest has an O/B slot and the X2 wire, which Nest does not have.

20170218_140403

From my understanding this is what each wire does:

X2 : Black : Turns on another set of standby electric coils for emergency heat
W1 : White : Turns on electric heat coils
RC : Red : 24V AC Power Hot
O : Orange : When on, reverses the heat pump valve to go from heat to cool in the summer
Y : Yellow : Turns on the heat pump compressor
G : Green : Turns the fan on (in my case, on low)
B : Blue : 24V AC Power Common

Inside the air handler, the following wires a hooked up to the following codes:

Black : W2 & W3
White : W1
Red : Bk
Orange : O
Yellow : Y
Green : G
Blue : Bk

20170223_185327

Needless to say, there really needs to be a better labeling or coloring system. In fact, thermostats should really go towards an IP system and use an Ethernet cable.

After calling Nest, after I figured out that it thought I had dual fuel instead of single-fuel, I figured out that black goes to * and is programmed for emergency heat. (* can be used for emergency heat or humidifier circuit) The blue wire becomes C.

Let me say that Nest support was awesome. I could talk with a clearly spoken woman who worked in Oklahoma and took the time to understand, address, research and resolve my issue promptly. She sent me an email to reply back with photos of the original thermostat wiring and my current wiring on the Nest which helped things along. Their number is 1-855-469-6378.

Here is how I now have my Nest 3rd Generation thermostat wired and working:

Y1 : Yellow : Turns on the heat pump compressor
G : Green : Fan
O/B : Orange : When on, reverses the heat pump valve to go from heat to cool in the summer
Rc : Red : 24V AC Power Hot
W2/AUX : White : Turns on electric heat coils
C : Blue : 24V AC Power Common

  • : Black : Turns on another set of standby electric coils for emergency heat

screenshot_20170224-145603

 

After I got the corrected wiring, I went into the pro settings and switched it from dual-fuel to single-fuel. At that point in time the Heat Pump Balance option showed up. I started with “balanced”, but that seemed to aggressive still. So for now I have “Max Savings” on with “Early-On” turned on to 5 hours.

Note: System and wiring vary widely. This is a reference only to my specific system and wiring. Yours likely varies. Professional installation recommended.

#hvac, #nest, #thermostat, #wiring

Attach AWS IAM Role to Existing EC2

It has always been one of my pet-peeves that I had to attach an IAM role to an EC2 instance just in case I’d need it in the future. The reason was you couldn’t attach one later.

Attaching a role allows API access to AWS from your instance w/o having to inject API keys, which reduces security and maintainability (you’d have to remember to change out the keys when rotating keys).

AWS has now announced that you can attach an IAM role to an exiting EC2 instance.

  1. Create an IAM role
  2. Attach the IAM role to an existing EC2 instance that was originally launched without an IAM role.
  3. Replace the attached IAM role.

https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/new-attach-an-aws-iam-role-to-an-existing-amazon-ec2-instance-by-using-the-aws-cli/

#aws, #ec2, #iam, #role

AWS Reduced Redundancy S3 Depreciated

Stop using Reduced Redundancy S3 storage (RRS) on AWS now. Starting price for RRS is now $0.024 where as standard S3  starts at $0.023.

This caught me off guard today as I use RRS for backups due to what used to be an approximate 33% savings over standard S3.

For me using Glacier for backups is out of the question due to the waiting period necessary to get files.

There is also the newer “Standard – Infrequent Access” storage type for S3. This is a good option for storing perhaps a system image when doing backups, however for what I normally backup, which are small website files, this likely won’t be a good fit either. Each file has a minimum storage bill of 128KB. The math and gamble required likely won’t be worth the effort.

So for now I’ll likely be switching to all standard S3 storage for backups. I don’t use S3 for much else other than EC2 snapshots and temporary file storage for migrations.

#aws, #s3

HP 27er Display Random Black Screen

hp27erI recently replacing my aging monitor setup at the office with a few HP 27er monitor displays. I run these on a MSI Gaming 3 motherboard running Windows 10 Pro. They look amazing, but unless they are functional they are worthless right?

I noticed what seemed to be random flickering to a black screen for a second. After a process of elimination it seemed it was a specific power brick, likely not supplying enough voltage/amps. I even got HP to send me a new power brick (that was a nightmare).

However today broke that theory. I then was able to reproduce the issue by scrolling through Facebook quickly using the scroll wheel on my mouse. I then installed the specific drivers from the HP site, which still didn’t fix the issue.

After some further research I found the issue lied in Google Chrome’s Hardware Acceleration feature. This appears to happen to a number of HP displays such as the 27xw as well.

To resolve my issue I took these steps:

  1. Open Google Chrome
  2. Click the three circle dots in the upper-right
  3. Click settings
  4. Click “Show advanced settings”
  5. Turn off System > “Use hardware acceleration when available”

Now while scrolling through Facebook quickly the issue is no longer reproducible.

Not sure if this is a Chrome issue, video card issue or monitor issue, but I wish HP would figure out a fix with Google.

#27er, #chrome, #google, #hp, #windows-10