Rashid Jamil

Affiliate Tracking Software

What to Watch Out For A large number of business owners rely on their affiliate programs to help increase their sales and their profits. If you are interested, you can also be one of those individuals. All online business owners can benefit from the use of an affiliate program, but there are some business owners who can benefit more than others. Those business owners run and operate businesses that either sells a product or a service. If you are one of those business owners and you would like to start an affiliate program, you will need to think about purchasing affiliate tracking software. Affiliate tracking software is a unique program that is vital to the successful operation of an affiliate program. Without tracking software, you would be unable to determine whether or not one of your sales were generated with the assistance of an affiliate, let alone which affiliate it was. With affiliate tracking software, you can easily find out this important information. Therefore, this means that if you haven’t already purchased affiliate tracking software, you will need to do so right away. When it comes to purchasing affiliate tracking software, you are first advised to familiarize yourself with all of your available options. This can easily be done by performing a standard internet search. Your search results are likely to include a number of different software seller’s. Your first impulse may be to purchase the first affiliate tracking software program you come across, but you are advised against doing this. That is because these software programs come in a wide variety of different styles. Each program is likely to have its own unique services and features. You are encouraged to examine each of those services and features before making a decision. If you are unfamiliar with affiliate marketing and affiliate tracking software, you may not know what you should be looking for. If this is the case, it may be easier to understand what you should watch out for. One of the many things that you should be concerned about is the software name or the name of the software seller. Unfortunately, there are a number of different software sellers that will scam internet users; however, not all of them will. Before purchasing a particular affiliate tracking software program, you may want to perform a standard internet search on that program and the individual or company selling it. If you come across any warnings, you may want to stop and start searching for another software program. It is also important to be on the lookout for affiliate tracking software that is being sold without information on the program. All legitimate software sellers should provide you with detailed information about their products, including affiliate tracking software. This information may include, but should not be limited to product descriptions, product services, and product features. Without this information, you will not know how an affiliate tracking software program works or how it can help you and your business. There are plenty of software sellers that will provide you with this information; you are encouraged to do business with them. You will also want to watch out for affiliate tracking software that costs too much money. It is true that the more services and features you are provided with, the more the program will cost. However, that does not mean that you should have to pay an outrageous price. For an average cost of affiliate tracking software, you are advised to examine and then compare a number of different prices. If anything seems out of the ordinary, you are advised to move on and find software that is more affordable. By knowing what to lookout for and avoid, you should be able to find an affiliate tracking software program that can give you exactly what you want and need. You should also be able to find that software at an affordable price. Who Can Use It In the United States, and all around the world, there are a large number individuals who own and operate their own business. The goal of any business, however large or small that business is, is to make money. Unfortunately, some businesses have a difficult time doing that on their own. If you are a business owner who is struggling to make a profit, you may be able to benefit from the creation on an affiliate program. To do this, you will also need to examine affiliate tracking software; it is a key competent to the successful operation of an affiliate program. But what about me? Is that what you are wondering? A large number of businesses could profit from the creation of an affiliate program, but many business owners mistakenly believe that they cannot. It is uncertain exactly where this misinformation comes from, but, unfortunately, a large number of business owners believe it. You are encouraged to not be one of business owners; it may cost you money that you cannot afford to lose. To better understand who can use and benefit from affiliate programs and affiliate tracking software, it is important to understand what they are and what they do. Affiliate programs are a collaboration between a business owner and a webmaster, web publisher, or website owner. This partnership is used to benefit both parties. The goal of an affiliate program is to help a business generate more sales. This is accomplished through the use of advertisements, such as links and banners. Those links will be used on your affiliate partner’s website. In the event that those banners and links lead to a sale, you will compensate your affiliate with a preset commission amount, often just a percentage. However, to determine whether or a sale was just a traditional sale or one that was generated through one of your affiliates, you need to use affiliate tracking software. Affiliate tracking software is a software program that will work with your own affiliate program. Different software programs will vary, but many require you to create your own banners or links, once you have signed up. These banners will often be tagged with unique affiliate id codes. These codes will be able to distinguish your affiliates from each other. Those codes allow an affiliate to properly be rewarded for brining traffic to your online business. As you can easily see, there really are no special requirements for using affiliate tacking software; however, it is advised that you have your own affiliate program. As with affiliate tracking software, just about anyone can benefit from an affiliate program, especially business owners. Both small and large business owners should be able to benefit from the use of affiliate programs and affiliate tracking software. Perhaps, small business owner could benefit the most; this is due to the sales increase they will see. In most cases, a small business should be able to profit from even a small revenue increase; with affiliate programs that increase is almost guaranteed. Affiliate programs and tracking software can also benefit large business owners. This is because large business owners, unlike small business owners, are more likely to be able to afford to the costs of operating an affiliate program. These costs may include the cost of affiliate tracking software and the cost of paying affiliates. The costs associated with starting and managing an affiliate program will likely payoff in the end, but there are many small business owners who are unable to afford it or find it difficult to afford the startup costs. In addition to categorizing businesses by their size, it is also important to examine what those businesses do. Since an affiliate program relies on an affiliate tracking software to record sales that an affiliate website generates, it is a good idea that participating businesses specialize in selling something, including a product or service. As you can see, just about any type of business owner can benefit from the use of an affiliate program. If, by chance, you do not sell any products or services, you may also be able to make money as an affiliate. This is where you would end up receiving commission for helping another business increase their sales. Either way, you and your business could make a substantial profit. Your Payment Options If you are an online business owner that is looking to start your own affiliate program, you are not alone. If properly implemented, affiliate programs are a great way to increase your sales and in turn increase your profits. Before you can start your own affiliate program, there are number of important things that you must first consider. One of those things is how you will track your affiliates and the sales that they generate. Since affiliate programs are commission based, you will need a way to determine if an affiliate helped you generate a sale. If this sale did take place, you also need to how much money that sale was for. This is important, especially if your base your affiliates commission on a predetermined percentage. To do this, you will need an affiliate tracking software program. When examining affiliate tracking software, it is important to examine product features; however, it also important to determine your payment options. In fact, if you are on a limited budget, the cost of a software program and the accepted methods of payment may be the deciding factor, when it comes to choosing affiliate tracking software. A number of different individuals and companies sell this tracking software; therefore, different programs cost different amounts of money and different payments methods are accepted. Despite the fact that different individuals and companies accept different payment methods and charge different amounts of money for their services, there are number of similarities. For instance, you will find that, when it comes to charging for their product, a number of individuals and companies charge a monthly fee, while others charge a flat rate fee. Each of these payment options has advantages and disadvantages. To find the payment option that best fits your needs; you are advised to examine the advantages and disadvantages of each. Perhaps, the greatest advantage of using an affiliate software program that requires a monthly fee is that, in most cases, you can cancel at anytime. This type of payment option is ideal for those who are just getting started in affiliate marketing. Unfortunately, not everyone sees success with affiliate programs. In the event that your affiliate program does not work out, you should be able to end your partnership with the affiliate tracking software seller. The main advantage to doing business with an affiliate software seller that charges a onetime fee can also be considered a disadvantage of companies that require monthly payments. That advantage is often a cheaper product. When added up, the monthly fee charged for affiliate tracking software tends to more expensive than those that charge a onetime fee. In fact, the longer you are able to use the services of a onetime fee software program, the more money you are able to save. The only downside to this type of agreement is that, you if you choose to no longer participate in the affiliate program, you may lose your money by ending the agreement. One you have determined which payment option works best for you, you can begin to examine all of your available options. Even if you limit yourself to software programs with onetime fees or monthly fees, you will still find that you have a number of choices. If you need assistance with eliminating those choices, it may also be a good idea to examine the methods of payment that are accepted. If you are unable or unwilling to pay with the accepted forms of payments, you will be able to eliminate a number of your choices. As previously mentioned, different affiliate tracking software sellers will accept different methods of payment; however, many of them accept similar payment methods. These methods often include credit cards, debit cards, or PayPal. PayPal is a popular and safe way to pay for products and services online. Not all software sellers accept PayPal, but a large number of them are starting to. All software sellers should accept credit and debit cards. To use a debit card online, you need to make sure that your card bears the logo of a credit card company. This logo essentially means that your debit card will be processed like a credit card. While the methods and options of payment accepted are important, they are just a few of the many things you should examine. By keeping the above mentioned points in mind, you should be able to find a quality software program, especially one that you can afford and pay for.
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Rashid Jamil

Anonymous Email

Learn how to send an email messages anonymously and secretly so that recipient will never know who sent that message and from where. There are many reasons to send an email anonymously, for example send an email to a friend when you have no access to your regular email account, or make fun of your enemy, etc. There are various websites from where you can send anonymous email. So am posting here some of the best sites which helps you to send anonymous email. 1. SendAnonymousEmail – Is a free service which allow you to send unlimitted anonymous email. It's one of the most popular anonymous email service on the net. 2. deadfake is a site that lets you send free fake emails to anyone you like. There’s no signup, no registration, no fuss. You can even send fake emails with rich text; fonts, colours, etc. 3. send-email.org - Useful site to quickly send an anonymous message. 4. AnonEmail - With AnonEmail it is possible to send e-mails without revealing your e-mail address or any information about your identity. 5. Formmail Anonymous Mailer - This website allows you to specify a sender’s address as well, allowing you to seemingly send it from a normal mail account. These are some of the best websites which allows you to send free anonymous email messages. So if you have no access to your email account, or if you want to confess your love to somebody, or want to play an email joke with your friend... this websites surely will come in handy.
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Rashid Jamil

Top Tools to Find Invisible Yahoo Messenger Users

Top tools to detect online status for yahoo messenger. Scan online, offline and invisible status for yahoo messenger. I'm shure all of yahoo messsenger member knows that Yahoo has a Stealth settings feature that lets you choose the people who see you as online and offline (Invisible Mode), but have you ever wondered if your Friend is in Invisible mode or its Offline? Now you can spy your buddy to see his/her real yahoo status. 1. XEEBER - The best and easy way to detect your buddy is XEEBER. With Xeeber you can discover who is online available at yahoo messenger and who is invisible. 2. Invisible.ir is a website for Yahoo! Messenger status checking. With invisible.ir you can now bypass Yahoo! Messenger's Invisible Settings with ease. With its quick and intuitive interface invisible.ir offers you the ability to see if your friend is truly online or if they are invisible. 3. Invisible-scanner.com - Invisible-scanner.com is a new webtool which also help you to find the Invisible user and also let you know which Avatar he is Using. 4. 4invisible.com is a website from where you can find invisible people in yahoo! messenger with their avatar. 5. Imvisible - IMvisible is one of the fastest free Yahoo Messenger invisible detectors.
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Rashid Jamil

Back links

If you want to be added on the list below, put my blog in your blogroll/link list [MY BLOG URl is http://listworld-tipstricks.blogspot.com/] [MY BLOG TEXT is Tips and tricks and listings] and put your BLOG URL and BLOG TEXT below via the comment section. Thanks! =] SnapHow Latest Blogger Tricks Fun PC Life Cyza Sector Latest Blogger Tricks Link Market - Free Link Exchange, Link Building and Link Trade Directory Have you ever tried to exchange links, link building, or trade links? Was it hard? Use link market instead; - it is easy to use, free and very smart. It will save you hours of work. health www.freecreditreport.com review The Simplest Computer Tricks Tricksmachine.com Your Search For Tech Stuffs StockToday - FREE!! Stocks Buy & Sell Tips and much more! Logicclub | Need Logic To Move Killer Tricks Web Directory islam-ism.blogspot.com Tricksdaddy.com www.pocketmoneyfinder.com Start Ranking Resource Central Ranking Web Directory allinforexrate.blogspot.com tipsfitnes.blogspot.com expertstipstricks.blogspot.com Affordable Shopping Cart Software and Network Management Systems by Maxxfusion – Website design - hosting - maintenance
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Rashid Jamil

Webroot Spy Sweeper 3.5

Publisher's description

From Webroot Software :

Webroot Spy Sweeper protects your PC from the consequences of spyware in two powerful ways. Proactive shields guard you against spyware before it infects your system, while an advanced detection process quickly finds and disables existing spyware infections so you can safely remove them without the risk of harming your PC.

Version 3.5 combines enhanced detection for the most vicious spyware, including CoolWebSearch, with sweep speeds that are now 30% faster.

  • Price: Free to try $29.95 to buy
  • Operating system: Windows Vista, Windows XP
Download
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Rashid Jamil

The Billing Software 2.03

The billing software automatically handles recurring billing tasks

The Billing Software automatically handles recurring Billing tasks. Recurring Billing Software with complete accounts receivables. Produces proposals, invoices, statements, late letters, labels, reports and more! The Billing Software can auto-bill monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually at The touch of a button. Can be used to automate recurring Billing for Answering services, associations, club membership, cable / satellite, cleaning sevices, delivery services, hauling services, insurance, internet service providers, janitorial, lawn, landscape, maid service, media advertising, pager company, pest control, pool service, professional, rental equipment, rental property / real estate, storage, subscription, or any other recurring business.Try our completely functional 45 day trial version and see for your self how Probill can simplify your Billing needs.

Platforms: Windows XP , Windows2000 , Windows 98 , Windows Millennium , Windows NT 4.x

System requirements: Not specified

Price: $289.0 FREE DOWNLOAD BUY NOW
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Rashid Jamil

EasyBilling Maker of Sales Document 2.6.4

EasyBilling Maker of Sales Document screenshot Create professional sales documents, Quotations, Invoices, Receipts and Delivery Note. With just a few clicks to choose the customers and products, EasyBilling will help you on layout and finish the rest. You can stamp your document with Urgent, Revised, Confidential or any you want. It allows you to generate the document in PDF file and print freely. You can also put your company logo and other company info into the documents.
Version : 2.6.4
Platform : Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP
MbFile Size : 35.4
License : Free to try; $59.95 to buy
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Rashid Jamil

Software Escrow

Software Escrow

Readers are cautioned not to rely on this article as legal advice as it is no substitution for a consultation with an attorney in your state. Based on jurisdiction and time, the law varies and changes.

What Is Software Escrow?

Software escrow means deposit of the software's source code into an account held by a third party escrow agent. Escrow is typically requested by a party licensing software (the "licensee"), to ensure maintenance of the software. The software source code is released to the licensee if the licensor files for bankruptcy or otherwise fails to maintain and update the software as promised in the software license agreement.

What Is Software Source Code?

Source code is the software's programming code represented in a particular programming language that humans can write and understand.

Picking an Escrow Agent

Either the licensor or licensee should pick an escrow agent. Generally, the licensor should pick and pay for the agent so that the owner of the software has the choice of which third party will be responsible for storing and handling the source code. Additionally, the licensor often will have more than one licensee request escrow, and having the same agent each time makes the record keeping and contract negotiation much simpler.

Often, licensees will allow the licensor to pick the agent if the licensor also pays the escrow fees. When picking an agent, be sure to investigate the background and financial status of the company. An agent with no assets and without substantial insurance coverage is not a good choice. The agent should have substantial resources, so that the parties to the escrow agreement may be protected in the event of the agent's negligence and ensuing litigation, or in the event of loss of the code and financial reimbursement by the agent's insurance company.

Costs of Software Escrow

Software escrow fees are typically between $1000 and $2000 per year per licensee. There is some variation based on different pricing structures. Some companies will reduce the rates for licensors who have substantial numbers of licensee deposits.

Escrow Agreement

The software escrow agreement is a three party contract that governs the procedures and terms of the escrow process between the licensor, licensee and agent. Usually, the software license agreement will contain a clause that states that the parties agree to escrow and will execute a separate agreement to cover those terms. As this agreement involves three parties, the negotiations can be more difficult than usual.

The party that chooses and pays the agent should negotiate its terms with the agent prior to bringing the third party into the negotiations. This will save time in that two of the three parties will already have agreed on the contract wording prior to the third party reviewing the agreement.

Important Terms

Procedures

The agreement should outline the procedures for the deposit and handling of the code by the licensor and agent, including what will be deposited (updates, customizations, etc.) and how often the deposits should occur. How the agent is to receive the code, and where and how it is to be stored should also be addressed.

The agreement must also define the procedures for release of the code after an event that's recognized as triggering its release. These procedures should include notice to the parties, deadlines for response and counter argument, opportunity to seek court order, and so on.

Events Triggering Release of the Code

The agreement should state what events result in release of the code to the licensee. These may include:

  • The licensor filing for bankruptcy
  • The licensor breaching the license agreement
  • The licensor failing to provide maintenance as agreed
  • The licensor going through a merger or acquisition resulting in a new licensing entity

The licensor should always try to limit the release events solely to failure to provide maintenance. If any of the other events above occur and the licensor continues to provide maintenance as agreed, there is no reason to justify release of the source code and release may cause substantial damage to the licensor in this event.

Source Code License

The agreement should include a license grant to the licensee in the event of release of the code, which outlines how the licensee:

  • may use the code (for maintenance only) and
  • should handle the code (keeping it confidential, etc.).

Licensor Warranties

The agreement may state that the licensor warrants that the source code deposited is the correct code and that, as deposited, it will correctly compile into the software.

Force Majeure

An escrow agreement should also contain a force majeure clause. This clause means that in the event of war, acts of God, weather and other uncontrollable forces, the parties are excused from performing. The licensee will want to exclude or limit this clause to be sure that it is not used to avoid obligations by the licensor or agent.

Indemnification and Liability Limits

The Escrow Agent will usually require that the parties indemnify the agent and that there is a liability limit on the agent's risk. Indemnification of the agent means that if any party to the agreement or third party sues the agent, the parties agree to jointly pay the costs of such litigation.

To the extent that there is an exclusion in this section for the agent's negligence or willful behavior, this is reasonable given the low income the agent receives from storage. However, these exclusions are important -- without them, there is no way for the parties themselves not to end up paying if one party has to sue the agent for loss or misuse of the code or other acts.

A liability limit for all parties to the agreement is a provision that generally protects all parties to the contract, and the agent's request is reasonable given the low income the agent receives from storage. It is important, however, to be sure that the liability limit covers at least the value of the software source code.

Conclusion

If you are a licensor, software escrow will be a necessary part of your business requested by licensees. In many circumstances, licensees do not understand the process, or why they're making the request, and sometimes some discussion of the business goals can help. For example, if there is no maintenance agreement for the software, or the software is leased through an ASP model with no time commitment for provision by the licensor, there is no reason for software escrow.

If you're a licensee purchasing expensive and vital software to be maintained and used over a long period, escrow can be very helpful. Keep in mind, though, that if the software can be recreated at a relatively low cost, or maintained or substituted by another software company, escrow may not be a logical request given the costs in time and money of the escrow and the contract.

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Rashid Jamil

Dito Docs Human Resource Professional 1.0.2

"?First automated reporting system in human resources to cover consultations f..." BrothersoftEditor: ?First automated reporting system in human resources to cover consultations for associates ?7 major reports can be generated: 1) 6 different commendation letters covering items such as "exceeding a goal," "team work," "good job," "above and beyond the Call of duty," "positive attitude" and "training and coaching"2) 33 different conduct-related reports from confidentiality violation to electronic communication misuse or just plain old unauthorized overtime3) 8 different performance-related reports have been designed for proper documentation on the employee that follows your Company policies but simply cannot get the job completed. It will cover reports on excessive mistakes to technical incompetence or just lacking commitment4) Exit Review to help determine the key reasons for employee separation therefore reducing costly turnover 5) Semi-annual or annual performance reviews with 11 major steps and charting for visual comparison. Therefore, while the performance review is being given to the employee, a more positive proactive approach can be discussed at that time 6) "Charting" 60 different predefined charts can be created so visual comparisons can be made on the progress of employees or entire organization7) Exit Review Summary gives you the ability to gather data in all 8 areas from past employee exit reviews, for a total evaluation of your facility?Dito Docs was developed to help correct and educate employees not to punish and terminate. Therefore, reducing costly turnover?Dito Docs will help our clients minimize Exposure associated with litigation and employment liability costs?2 levels of user logins have been established for security of documents?All unedited reports can be translated into Spanish within seconds after completing the report?Email reports directly with Dito Docs software?Interface to Capture signatures making the document paperless and secured
  • License: Shareware $429
  • OS: Windows 98,ME,2000
Official Download Brothersoft(US mirror) Brothersoft(CDN for Global)
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Rashid Jamil

Human Resources Timesheet Monitoring 1.0

"MS Access Timesheet is a light compact application that allows" BSEditor: MS Access Timesheet is a light compact application that allows your staff to record their own timesheets. Calculation of pay against hours worked Ability to print timesheets Export facility to export to MS Excel Add adjustments such as time taken for training, sickness, business
  • License: Shareware $11.99
  • OS: Windows Vista, 2003, XP, 2000, 98, Me, NT
DOWNLOAD NOW OR DOWNLOAD
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Rashid Jamil

Human Resources Interview & Recruitm 1.1

"Quickly And Easily Match Candidates To Jobs." Edit by Brothersoft: Human Resources MS Access Interview Tracking is suitable for a small or a medium sized business as well as being designed to work with your existing Microsoft Office products. A simple solution designed to monitor candidates and match to vacancies. You can tailor the MS Access Interview Tracking software any way you want or I can do it for you, saving you time, effort and reducing costs. MS Office compatible Works with MS Access 97, 2000, 2002, 2003 User manual and support provided Can be tailored to your organization Helps to support the critical human resource functions of your organization Source code included Eliminate paper based systems
  • License: Shareware $73.99
  • OS: Windows 2003, XP, 2000, 98, Me, NT
Human Resources Interview & Recruitm 1.1 Screenshot DOWNLOAD NOW OR DOWNLOAD
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Rashid Jamil

Human Resource Manager 2.5

Publisher's description

Whether you're simply looking for an effective way to automate employee data, or you require a more sophisticated HR and Payroll Management System, OandB Software Solutions offers the complete Human Resource Management software. Version 2.5 fixed all bugs reported, creates a new modules.

What's new in this version:

Version 2.5 fixed all bugs reported, creates a new modules.
Click to see larger images
  • Price: Free to try (5-record trial); $375.00 to buy
  • Operating system: Windows Vista, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows XP, Windows 98
DOWNLOAD NOW
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Rashid Jamil

ENABLE THE TASK MANAGER,WHICH WAS DISABLED BY VIRUS

During some processing, you may want to open the Task manager.But when you try to open it by pressing ALT+CTRL+DEL. then ther will be a error message as shown below
This error is due to the restrictions made in the registry, somebody may change the registry and make the Task manager enable. but it is difficult for all the computer user. there is a simple small application which will enable your task manager by one click. It's Task Manager Fix.
When you click the task manager, a window will be displayed as shown in above image. you just click on the button "Fix Task Manager". the next second your Task Manager will be enabled. download Task Manager Fix from softpedia
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Rashid Jamil

RAPID DOWNER-RAPIDSHARE DOWNLOADING-WITHOUT WAITING

Rapidshare is a place, where we can get whatever we want. but we should wait for some 110mins for every download,otherwise we have to change he IP address. These all are difficult for we guyz.
There is a nice solution for this problem. With this application you can search and use anonymous proxy without any cahnge in the download speed. click here to download fromsoft pedia
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Rashid Jamil

SPEED UP YOUR VIRUS AFFECTED PC WITHOUT FORMATTING

Some times your PC may be very very slow. At that situation you will come to an decision to format the PC. If you do so, your useful data and software may be erased. So you are confused of doing,"what to do??".. Here I have a solution,which I am following. The only way is using a "Boot-time anti virus scan".

How to do it?
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Rashid Jamil

REMOVE THE EFFECT OF THE VIRUS FROM YOUR COMPUTER

Hi friends, Are you in trouble with the effect of virus(After the removal of virus)?....... There is a solution for this problem. you can easily remove the effect of the virus from your PC Registry And the File System using Virus effect Remover.. Click here to download.(you need dotNet framework 3.5 to install this). In this software's main window there are six tabs.
  1. Main- deals with Registry editor,Task Manager,Processes list,AutoRun.inf File Status, Block USB AutoRun,Show Suspicious Files, Make Registry Backup, Restore Backup, and System File Checker. Running Processes. Display the running processes.
  2. Process Detail- deals with running processes
  3. Block Virus- deals with the restriction of executable files(.exe, .com, etc.)
  4. Startup- deals with the list of programs that runs at startup
  5. Folder Options- It is not ready to use
  6. Settings- deals with add the program at startup, Ignore CDROM drive, add an icon in the system tray, & enable double click to kill process
Note: You should be careful with ending the process, because you may lose some unsaved data, & Also If u remove system files, some system programs may not be working properly.
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Rashid Jamil

Car buying tips

The recession is taking its toll on the car market. Latest figures revealed the number of new cars registered in January was 31% lower than in January last year and Nissan has announced 20,000 job cuts worldwide with its chief executive having described the global auto industry as being 'in turmoil'.

As far as motorists are concerned, this cloud has a silver lining because if you are looking to buy a car - whether brand new or second hand - there are some great deals to be had.

Here are our top 10 tips on how to negotiate the best deal:

Do your homework

Once you've decided which car you want to buy, do some research online so that when you go into the dealership or speak to the vendor you are in a strong position to haggle. Look to see if there are any similar vehicles for sale elsewhere and see how the prices compare. Even if you are buying a brand new car, the dealer will have room for manoeuvre on the price.

Decide how much you want to pay

Remember there is always room for negotiation when it comes to car prices, especially in the current climate, so decide how much you are prepared to pay for the vehicle (but be realistic) and stick to your guns. Be prepared to walk away though if this price isn't agreed - with a bit of luck you'll get a phone call from the seller or dealer agreeing to your terms.

Use the internet to your advantage

As with many consumer goods, you can often find the best deals on new and used cars by shopping online. With fewer overheads and no commission to pay to salesmen, there can be extensive reductions in price if you pick up a car through an online dealer. However, even if you don't buy outright on the internet, print off some quotes and take them into a local dealership with you - you could even ask a dealer to match the internet price. This is even more effective for used cars - if sellers think you are looking at other options they will be more willing to negotiate.

Try and uncover the invoice price

The invoice price is the amount the dealer paid to the manufacturer for the vehicle and it should be your target to get as close to this as possible - the dealer will obviously expect to make some profit. Some car buying websites will list their invoice price so if you can point this out to a dealer you stand a better chance of lowering the retail price. Similarly, look for information on manufacturer rebates as some companies offer cash incentives to dealers to promote certain vehicles.

Buy at the right time

If you're not too worried about having a 2009 registration plate, then try and time your purchase well. Many dealerships look to shift excess stock ahead of the introduction of new registration plates in March and September so now could be a great time to pick up a bargain. If you're not quite ready to make a purchase, then consider holding off until August as the '59' registration is launched in September. In terms of used cars, keep track of how long they have been on the market - most websites will carry a 'date posted' mark on used car advertisements - so you get an idea of how eager the seller is for a deal.

Let them know you're serious

Dealers will work a lot harder if they think they're going to get a deal so let them know you're there to buy a car if the deal is right. However, don't come across as desperate to buy as this could reduce your chances of picking up a bargain - play it cool.

Take a test-drive with a knowledgeable friend

Just as you wouldn't buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first, you shouldn't buy a new car without taking it for a spin. If you're buying a used car it's definitely worth taking someone along with you who knows a thing or two about cars and can point out any unusual sounds or movements. Even if the problems are nothing to be concerned about it could help you when haggling for a better deal. It's also worth checking the vehicle has a clean history - vehicle checks are available online for as little as £3.95.

Get the most for your current vehicle

If you have a car to sell, work to get the best price for it. Trading it in as a part exchange on your new vehicle is the easiest option, but make sure the sales adviser contacts a number of dealers for bids on it so you get the best deal possible. However, if you sell it privately, you'll probably get even more for it.

Shop around for car finance

When talking at a dealership you should only negotiate on the sales price - don't be lured in by attractive finance offers. Dealers often bamboozle prospective buyers with figures and they know how to make a car deal sound tantalizingly good, but don't just focus on the monthly repayments. Find out how much the finance package will cost over the term of the deal. And how flexible is it? For example, what happens if you want to get rid of the car before the end on the term.

Once you are armed with all the answers, compare the cost of the dealer's finance package with that of a standard personal loan. Use our car loans comparison tool to see what you could get from a traditional provider.

Shop around for extras

Many dealers throw in incentives such as car insurance and breakdown cover. On occasions their deals for these products can be attractive - several dealers even offer a year's free car insurance with some purchases. However, you should check that the cover is adequate and ask to see examples of repayment plans without these extras. You could potentially save a significant sum of money if you shop for car insurance and breakdown cover independently.

GENERAL ADVICE WHEN INSPECTING VEHICLES

Check the engine plate on the car corresponds with that given on the registration documents and that it has not been tampered with or changed.

Never buy a car without test driving is yourself. First make sure you are insured to drive it then, if possible, take it on a drive that covers a mixture of conditions i.e. fast motorway driving, slow urban driving, twisting roads and don't forget to check reverse.

BODYWORK

Always inspect the bodywork in good light.

Look for corrosion or rust. Rust is probably the most damaging thing of all on cars over five years old. Surface blisters can be relatively harmless and easily treated but corrosion coming from the inside of the body panels is more serious.

Look for rust at the top and rear of the front wings, along the side sills, below front and rear bumpers and the bottoms of the doors.

Sometimes a rust blemish on the paintwork can indicate more serious corrosion underneath. Press the panel gently with your thumb. If there is a cracking noise it indicates advanced corrosion.

It is usually not worth repairing rust that has perforated the bottom of doors, the bodywork around the front and rear screen rubbers, on trailing edges of bootlids or tailgates and leading edges of bonnets and on rear wing panels. These can only be repaired expensively by specialists and subsequent painting is costly.

Walk around the car and look along the doors and wings from each of the four corners. Any crash repairs will show up if they have not been well done. You will see ripples or a change in the texture of the paint if there is a lot of body filler underneath. Take a small magnet with you, it will be attracted to metal but not to plastic body filler. Look also for variations in the paint colour.

Water stains in the boot, around windows, on carpets and around the sunroof opening may indicate leaks.

STRUCTURAL BODYWORK

Look for rust perforation on inner wings, the bulkhead and any cross members and chassis members visible under the bonnet. If you see any, reject the car.

Beneath the car check side sills, chassis legs, cross members and subframes. Tap suspicious areas with a lightweight hammer, or push hard with your hand to detect the 'give' of weakened metal. Be wary of freshly applied underseal - could be hiding weakened metal.

Check the floorpan for corrosion.

Look at brake pipes, if they are crusted or pitted with rust, these could be dangerous.

Check suspension and steering mounting points for serious corrosion, especially under the bonnet.

COLLISION DAMAGE

A car that has been in a collision can be dangerous, especially if its suspension and/or steering have been damaged. Examine under the bonnet for damage, creasing or replaced inner wings (unsightly welds are a give-away). Also inspect the engine bay forward panels and forward chassis legs for repairs or creases.

When test driving the car the steering should be consistent with no tendency to pull either left or right.

Look under the carpet between the front and back doors for signs of welding or repair in case two halves of different cars have been welded together (cut and shut), which is extremely dangerous.

INSIDE THE CAR

Check the odometer, if the numbers are out of line the mileage may have been altered.

Look to see if the mileage corresponds with the general condition of the car. A worn brake pedal and wear marks on the gear lever indicate a car that might have done more than 60,000 miles. A worn or sagging driver's seat and carpet are other signs of high mileage.

A very low mileage may indicate the car might have been left unused for long periods or used only for short journeys. Both can cause engine problems. A car that has been regularly used and serviced is a better bet.

ENGINE

Have a look at the general state of the engine. A dirty engine and surrounding area suggests that the car hasn't been well looked after and that servicing may have been neglected. Conversely, a sparkling clean engine could have been steam cleaned to disguise problems such as oil leaks etc.

Before starting the engine remove the dipstick and check the colour of the oil. If it is very black the car has probably not been recently, or regularly, serviced. Also check for beige "mayonnaise" on the dipstick, a possible symptom of head gasket leakage.

Check the quantity and colour of coolant. It should be the colour of antifreeze not rusty red. An engine that has been run without antifreeze may have problems.

Listen to the engine starting up from cold. The oil light should go out soon after the engine starts, if it doesn't there may be engine wear.

Heavy rattling or knocking noises shortly after start up could indicate wear of the crankshaft and big-end bearings. Listen for clattering or light knocking noises from the top of the engine which indicate camshaft wear.

Turn on the ignition and open the throttle sharply. Check for black or blue smoke from the exhaust. Blue smoke comes from burning oil and shows engine wear, whereas black smoke is un-burnt fuel and has many possible causes. Check for smooth idling when warm.

When test driving check the engine does not misfire but pulls strongly and cleanly. Check there are no pinking sounds (i.e. metallic rattling sound that occurs when the throttle is open). If the car does misfire and the engine has electronic fuel or ignition control only buy it if the misfire is put right first.

Keep an eye on the temperature gauge or warning light which may indicate overheating.

Finally check for oil leaks.

TRANSMISSION

If the car has a manual gearbox, check the clutch operates smoothly and all gears engage easily. If the gear change stiffens as revs increase the clutch may be worn. Check for clutch slip by driving the car up a hill in top gear.

When driving change down into each gear from a higher speed than normal to test the synchromesh. If the gears baulk or crunch, or if the gearbox whines excessively, gearbox overhaul or replacement are the only solutions.

If the car has automatic transmission check the transmission dipstick for correct fluid level, this is best done with the engine hot and idling. Also smell the dipstick, if it smells burnt steer clear of the car!

When driving check that the transmission changes down into each gear properly under full acceleration and at the right time.

SUSPENSION

Check shock absorbers (dampers) by pushing down hard on the bodywork at the corners and letting go. The car should rebound once just past the level position, then go back i.e. one and a half swings. Any more than this indicates the shock absorbers need replacing.

Listen for knocks from the suspension over poor road surfaces which could indicate worn bushes, joint and dampers. Take a note of the cars handling, if it is vague, "floaty" or bouncy, suspect worn dampers.

Check for fluid leakage from the dampers or struts. Slight weeping is acceptable any more is not.

STEERING

If the steering is vague and heavy the tyres may be worn or under pressurised.

Rock the steering wheel gently while watching the front wheel, there should not be any noticeable delay between steering wheel and road wheel movement. Free play accompanied by a knock will fail the MOT test.

Check for wheel wobble at speed. This is often attributable to unbalanced front wheels. Steering wheel shimmy at low speeds indicated distorted wheel rims.

BRAKES

The brake pedal should offer good resistance and not sink most of the way to the floor when applied.

If a servo is fitted, check that it works by pumping the brake pedal several times, holding the pedal down and starting the engine. You should feel the pedal creep down as it operates.

The care should not swerve when the brakes are applied hard at speed. If it does, it may have seized or leaking wheel cylinders or calipers.

If the car judders when you apply the brakes this implies distorted front brake discs. Inspect discs for heavy scoring or unpolished or corroded areas, they may need renewing.

Check the brake hoses under the wheel arches for cracking, chafing, swelling or leaks.

TYRES

Check the treads and side walls on all four tyres (plus spare wheel) there should be more than 2mm of tread all over the tyre (I think the legal limit is 1.6mm in the U.K. at present) and the sidewalls should not be cracked or damaged. Uneven wear on treads suggests steering, tracking or suspension problems.

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Rashid Jamil

Lazy Linux: 10 essential tricks for admins

The best systems administrators are set apart by their efficiency. And if an efficient systems administrator can do a task in 10 minutes that would take another mortal two hours to complete, then the efficient systems administrator should be rewarded (paid more) because the company is saving time, and time is money, right?

The trick is to prove your efficiency to management. While I won't attempt to cover that trick in this article, I will give you 10 essential gems from the lazy admin's bag of tricks. These tips will save you time—and even if you don't get paid more money to be more efficient, you'll at least have more time to play Halo.

Trick 1: Unmounting the unresponsive DVD drive

The newbie states that when he pushes the Eject button on the DVD drive of a server running a certain Redmond-based operating system, it will eject immediately. He then complains that, in most enterprise Linux servers, if a process is running in that directory, then the ejection won't happen. For too long as a Linux administrator, I would reboot the machine and get my disk on the bounce if I couldn't figure out what was running and why it wouldn't release the DVD drive. But this is ineffective.

Here's how you find the process that holds your DVD drive and eject it to your heart's content: First, simulate it. Stick a disk in your DVD drive, open up a terminal, and mount the DVD drive:

# mount /media/cdrom # cd /media/cdrom # while [ 1 ]; do echo "All your drives are belong to us!"; sleep 30; done

Now open up a second terminal and try to eject the DVD drive:

# eject

You'll get a message like:

umount: /media/cdrom: device is busy

Before you free it, let's find out who is using it.

# fuser /media/cdrom

You see the process was running and, indeed, it is our fault we can not eject the disk.

Now, if you are root, you can exercise your godlike powers and kill processes:

# fuser -k /media/cdrom

Boom! Just like that, freedom. Now solemnly unmount the drive:

# eject

fuser is good.


Trick 2: Getting your screen back when it's hosed

Try this:

# cat /bin/cat

Behold! Your terminal looks like garbage. Everything you type looks like you're looking into the Matrix. What do you do?

You type reset. But wait you say, typing reset is too close to typing reboot or shutdown. Your palms start to sweat—especially if you are doing this on a production machine.

Rest assured: You can do it with the confidence that no machine will be rebooted. Go ahead, do it:

# reset

Now your screen is back to normal. This is much better than closing the window and then logging in again, especially if you just went through five machines to SSH to this machine.


Trick 3: Collaboration with screen

David, the high-maintenance user from product engineering, calls: "I need you to help me understand why I can't compile supercode.c on these new machines you deployed."

"Fine," you say. "What machine are you on?"

David responds: " Posh." (Yes, this fictional company has named its five production servers in honor of the Spice Girls.) OK, you say. You exercise your godlike root powers and on another machine become David:

# su - david

Then you go over to posh:

# ssh posh

Once you are there, you run:

# screen -S foo

Then you holler at David:

"Hey David, run the following command on your terminal: # screen -x foo."

This will cause your and David's sessions to be joined together in the holy Linux shell. You can type or he can type, but you'll both see what the other is doing. This saves you from walking to the other floor and lets you both have equal control. The benefit is that David can watch your troubleshooting skills and see exactly how you solve problems.

At last you both see what the problem is: David's compile script hard-coded an old directory that does not exist on this new server. You mount it, recompile, solve the problem, and David goes back to work. You then go back to whatever lazy activity you were doing before.

The one caveat to this trick is that you both need to be logged in as the same user. Other cool things you can do with the screen command include having multiple windows and split screens. Read the man pages for more on that.

But I'll give you one last tip while you're in your screen session. To detach from it and leave it open, type: Ctrl-A D . (I mean, hold down the Ctrl key and strike the A key. Then push the D key.)

You can then reattach by running the screen -x foo command again.


Trick 4: Getting back the root password

You forgot your root password. Nice work. Now you'll just have to reinstall the entire machine. Sadly enough, I've seen more than a few people do this. But it's surprisingly easy to get on the machine and change the password. This doesn't work in all cases (like if you made a GRUB password and forgot that too), but here's how you do it in a normal case with a Cent OS Linux example.

First reboot the system. When it reboots you'll come to the GRUB screen as shown in Figure 1. Move the arrow key so that you stay on this screen instead of proceeding all the way to a normal boot.

Figure 1. GRUB screen after reboot GRUB screen after reboot

Next, select the kernel that will boot with the arrow keys, and type E to edit the kernel line. You'll then see something like Figure 2:

Figure 2. Ready to edit the kernel line Ready to edit the kernel line

Use the arrow key again to highlight the line that begins with kernel, and press E to edit the kernel parameters. When you get to the screen shown in Figure 3, simply append the number 1 to the arguments as shown in Figure 3:

Figure 3. Append the argument with the number 1 Append the argument with the number 1

Then press Enter, B, and the kernel will boot up to single-user mode. Once here you can run the passwd command, changing password for user root:

sh-3.00# passwd New UNIX password: Retype new UNIX password: passwd: all authentication tokens updated successfully

Now you can reboot, and the machine will boot up with your new password.


Trick 5: SSH back door

Many times I'll be at a site where I need remote support from someone who is blocked on the outside by a company firewall. Few people realize that if you can get out to the world through a firewall, then it is relatively easy to open a hole so that the world can come into you.

In its crudest form, this is called "poking a hole in the firewall." I'll call it an SSH back door. To use it, you'll need a machine on the Internet that you can use as an intermediary.

In our example, we'll call our machine blackbox.example.com. The machine behind the company firewall is called ginger. Finally, the machine that technical support is on will be called tech. Figure 4 explains how this is set up.

Figure 4. Poking a hole in the firewall Poking a hole in the firewall

Here's how to proceed:

  1. Check that what you're doing is allowed, but make sure you ask the right people. Most people will cringe that you're opening the firewall, but what they don't understand is that it is completely encrypted. Furthermore, someone would need to hack your outside machine before getting into your company. Instead, you may belong to the school of "ask-for-forgiveness-instead-of-permission." Either way, use your judgment and don't blame me if this doesn't go your way.
  2. SSH from ginger to blackbox.example.com with the -R flag. I'll assume that you're the root user on ginger and that tech will need the root user ID to help you with the system. With the -R flag, you'll forward instructions of port 2222 on blackbox to port 22 on ginger. This is how you set up an SSH tunnel. Note that only SSH traffic can come into ginger: You're not putting ginger out on the Internet naked.

    You can do this with the following syntax:

    ~# ssh -R 2222:localhost:22 thedude@blackbox.example.com

    Once you are into blackbox, you just need to stay logged in. I usually enter a command like:

    thedude@blackbox:~$ while [ 1 ]; do date; sleep 300; done

    to keep the machine busy. And minimize the window.

  3. Now instruct your friends at tech to SSH as thedude into blackbox without using any special SSH flags. You'll have to give them your password:

    root@tech:~# ssh thedude@blackbox.example.com .

  4. Once tech is on the blackbox, they can SSH to ginger using the following command:

    thedude@blackbox:~$: ssh -p 2222 root@localhost

  5. Tech will then be prompted for a password. They should enter the root password of ginger.
  6. Now you and support from tech can work together and solve the problem. You may even want to use screen together! (See Trick 4.)

Trick 6: Remote VNC session through an SSH tunnel

VNC or virtual network computing has been around a long time. I typically find myself needing to use it when the remote server has some type of graphical program that is only available on that server.

For example, suppose in Trick 5, ginger is a storage server. Many storage devices come with a GUI program to manage the storage controllers. Often these GUI management tools need a direct connection to the storage through a network that is at times kept in a private subnet. Therefore, the only way to access this GUI is to do it from ginger.

You can try SSH'ing to ginger with the -X option and launch it that way, but many times the bandwidth required is too much and you'll get frustrated waiting. VNC is a much more network-friendly tool and is readily available for nearly all operating systems.

Let's assume that the setup is the same as in Trick 5, but you want tech to be able to get VNC access instead of SSH. In this case, you'll do something similar but forward VNC ports instead. Here's what you do:

  1. Start a VNC server session on ginger. This is done by running something like:

    root@ginger:~# vncserver -geometry 1024x768 -depth 24 :99

    The options tell the VNC server to start up with a resolution of 1024x768 and a pixel depth of 24 bits per pixel. If you are using a really slow connection setting, 8 may be a better option. Using :99 specifies the port the VNC server will be accessible from. The VNC protocol starts at 5900 so specifying :99 means the server is accessible from port 5999.

    When you start the session, you'll be asked to specify a password. The user ID will be the same user that you launched the VNC server from. (In our case, this is root.)

  2. SSH from ginger to blackbox.example.com forwarding the port 5999 on blackbox to ginger. This is done from ginger by running the command:

    root@ginger:~# ssh -R 5999:localhost:5999 thedude@blackbox.example.com

    Once you run this command, you'll need to keep this SSH session open in order to keep the port forwarded to ginger. At this point if you were on blackbox, you could now access the VNC session on ginger by just running:

    thedude@blackbox:~$ vncviewer localhost:99

    That would forward the port through SSH to ginger. But we're interested in letting tech get VNC access to ginger. To accomplish this, you'll need another tunnel.

  3. From tech, you open a tunnel via SSH to forward your port 5999 to port 5999 on blackbox. This would be done by running:

    root@tech:~# ssh -L 5999:localhost:5999 thedude@blackbox.example.com

    This time the SSH flag we used was -L, which instead of pushing 5999 to blackbox, pulled from it. Once you are in on blackbox, you'll need to leave this session open. Now you're ready to VNC from tech!

  4. From tech, VNC to ginger by running the command:

    root@tech:~# vncviewer localhost:99 .

    Tech will now have a VNC session directly to ginger.

While the effort might seem like a bit much to set up, it beats flying across the country to fix the storage arrays. Also, if you practice this a few times, it becomes quite easy.

Let me add a trick to this trick: If tech was running the Windows® operating system and didn't have a command-line SSH client, then tech can run Putty. Putty can be set to forward SSH ports by looking in the options in the sidebar. If the port were 5902 instead of our example of 5999, then you would enter something like in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Putty can forward SSH ports for tunneling Putty can forward SSH ports for tunneling

If this were set up, then tech could VNC to localhost:2 just as if tech were running the Linux operating system.


Trick 7: Checking your bandwidth

Imagine this: Company A has a storage server named ginger and it is being NFS-mounted by a client node named beckham. Company A has decided they really want to get more bandwidth out of ginger because they have lots of nodes they want to have NFS mount ginger's shared filesystem.

The most common and cheapest way to do this is to bond two Gigabit ethernet NICs together. This is cheapest because usually you have an extra on-board NIC and an extra port on your switch somewhere.

So they do this. But now the question is: How much bandwidth do they really have?

Gigabit Ethernet has a theoretical limit of 128MBps. Where does that number come from? Well,

1Gb = 1024Mb; 1024Mb/8 = 128MB; "b" = "bits," "B" = "bytes"

But what is it that we actually see, and what is a good way to measure it? One tool I suggest is iperf. You can grab iperf like this:

# wget http://dast.nlanr.net/Projects/Iperf2.0/iperf-2.0.2.tar.gz

You'll need to install it on a shared filesystem that both ginger and beckham can see. or compile and install on both nodes. I'll compile it in the home directory of the bob user that is viewable on both nodes:

tar zxvf iperf*gz cd iperf-2.0.2 ./configure -prefix=/home/bob/perf make make install

On ginger, run:

# /home/bob/perf/bin/iperf -s -f M

This machine will act as the server and print out performance speeds in MBps.

On the beckham node, run:

# /home/bob/perf/bin/iperf -c ginger -P 4 -f M -w 256k -t 60

You'll see output in both screens telling you what the speed is. On a normal server with a Gigabit Ethernet adapter, you will probably see about 112MBps. This is normal as bandwidth is lost in the TCP stack and physical cables. By connecting two servers back-to-back, each with two bonded Ethernet cards, I got about 220MBps.

In reality, what you see with NFS on bonded networks is around 150-160MBps. Still, this gives you a good indication that your bandwidth is going to be about what you'd expect. If you see something much less, then you should check for a problem.

I recently ran into a case in which the bonding driver was used to bond two NICs that used different drivers. The performance was extremely poor, leading to about 20MBps in bandwidth, less than they would have gotten had they not bonded the Ethernet cards together!


Trick 8: Command-line scripting and utilities

A Linux systems administrator becomes more efficient by using command-line scripting with authority. This includes crafting loops and knowing how to parse data using utilities like awk, grep, and sed. There are many cases where doing so takes fewer keystrokes and lessens the likelihood of user errors.

For example, suppose you need to generate a new /etc/hosts file for a Linux cluster that you are about to install. The long way would be to add IP addresses in vi or your favorite text editor. However, it can be done by taking the already existing /etc/hosts file and appending the following to it by running this on the command line:

# P=1; for i in $(seq -w 200); do echo "192.168.99.$P n$i"; P=$(expr $P + 1); done >>/etc/hosts

Two hundred host names, n001 through n200, will then be created with IP addresses 192.168.99.1 through 192.168.99.200. Populating a file like this by hand runs the risk of inadvertently creating duplicate IP addresses or host names, so this is a good example of using the built-in command line to eliminate user errors. Please note that this is done in the bash shell, the default in most Linux distributions.

As another example, let's suppose you want to check that the memory size is the same in each of the compute nodes in the Linux cluster. In most cases of this sort, having a distributed or parallel shell would be the best practice, but for the sake of illustration, here's a way to do this using SSH.

Assume the SSH is set up to authenticate without a password. Then run:

# for num in $(seq -w 200); do ssh n$num free -tm | grep Mem | awk '{print $2}'; done | sort | uniq

A command line like this looks pretty terse. (It can be worse if you put regular expressions in it.) Let's pick it apart and uncover the mystery.

First you're doing a loop through 001-200. This padding with 0s in the front is done with the -w option to the seq command. Then you substitute the num variable to create the host you're going to SSH to. Once you have the target host, give the command to it. In this case, it's:

free -m | grep Mem | awk '{print $2}'

That command says to:

  • Use the free command to get the memory size in megabytes.
  • Take the output of that command and use grep to get the line that has the string Mem in it.
  • Take that line and use awk to print the second field, which is the total memory in the node.

This operation is performed on every node.

Once you have performed the command on every node, the entire output of all 200 nodes is piped (|d) to the sort command so that all the memory values are sorted.

Finally, you eliminate duplicates with the uniq command. This command will result in one of the following cases:

  • If all the nodes, n001-n200, have the same memory size, then only one number will be displayed. This is the size of memory as seen by each operating system.
  • If node memory size is different, you will see several memory size values.
  • Finally, if the SSH failed on a certain node, then you may see some error messages.

This command isn't perfect. If you find that a value of memory is different than what you expect, you won't know on which node it was or how many nodes there were. Another command may need to be issued for that.

What this trick does give you, though, is a fast way to check for something and quickly learn if something is wrong. This is it's real value: Speed to do a quick-and-dirty check.


Trick 9: Spying on the console

Some software prints error messages to the console that may not necessarily show up on your SSH session. Using the vcs devices can let you examine these. From within an SSH session, run the following command on a remote server: # cat /dev/vcs1. This will show you what is on the first console. You can also look at the other virtual terminals using 2, 3, etc. If a user is typing on the remote system, you'll be able to see what he typed.

In most data farms, using a remote terminal server, KVM, or even Serial Over LAN is the best way to view this information; it also provides the additional benefit of out-of-band viewing capabilities. Using the vcs device provides a fast in-band method that may be able to save you some time from going to the machine room and looking at the console.


Trick 10: Random system information collection

In Trick 8, you saw an example of using the command line to get information about the total memory in the system. In this trick, I'll offer up a few other methods to collect important information from the system you may need to verify, troubleshoot, or give to remote support.

First, let's gather information about the processor. This is easily done as follows:

# cat /proc/cpuinfo .

This command gives you information on the processor speed, quantity, and model. Using grep in many cases can give you the desired value.

A check that I do quite often is to ascertain the quantity of processors on the system. So, if I have purchased a dual processor quad-core server, I can run:

# cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep processor | wc -l .

I would then expect to see 8 as the value. If I don't, I call up the vendor and tell them to send me another processor.

Another piece of information I may require is disk information. This can be gotten with the df command. I usually add the -h flag so that I can see the output in gigabytes or megabytes. # df -h also shows how the disk was partitioned.

And to end the list, here's a way to look at the firmware of your system—a method to get the BIOS level and the firmware on the NIC.

To check the BIOS version, you can run the dmidecode command. Unfortunately, you can't easily grep for the information, so piping it is a less efficient way to do this. On my Lenovo T61 laptop, the output looks like this:

#dmidecode | less ... BIOS Information Vendor: LENOVO Version: 7LET52WW (1.22 ) Release Date: 08/27/2007 ...

This is much more efficient than rebooting your machine and looking at the POST output.

To examine the driver and firmware versions of your Ethernet adapter, run ethtool:

# ethtool -i eth0 driver: e1000 version: 7.3.20-k2-NAPI firmware-version: 0.3-0

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