MSIX: Creating a Code Signing certificate on AD CA

MSIX packages need to be signed for them to be any use. You can get a code signing certificate from various certificate vendors, but if your package is only going to be used on company-managed devices you could use your Active Directory Certification Authority instead. The pre-requisites for this are that you already have AD CA set up, and your CA root certificate is present as a trusted root certificate on all the devices you want to use your MSIX packages on. Continue reading “MSIX: Creating a Code Signing certificate on AD CA”

Raspberry Pi Server Temperature Monitor

Main components on the bench before putting into the racks

Back in 2015 I was looking for a cheap way to monitor the temperature in our server racks and also for a project with my new Raspberry Pi Model B. I’ve recently had a photo from this pop up in my Facebook memories so decided I’d dig out the write-up I did and post it on my blog.

The main aims of this project are:

  • Use a Pi to monitor temperature but reduce the number of Pis needed to a minimum – so if we have 3 racks in one room, try and monitor these off a single Pi
  • Python script on the Pi reads the temperatures on a schedule and uploads this data to a web server
  • PHP script on the web server to receive the data and log in a MySQL database and also to display the current temperature and humidity at each sensor.
  • Mechanism to send SMS messages if the temperature rises above a defined limit.

Continue reading “Raspberry Pi Server Temperature Monitor”

Shift to the Cloud: Moving a school to OneDrive and Teams

Six years ago we started a migration to cloud services at work. In this post I’m going to go through the steps we took and what our network looked like back then, now, and the future steps.

We ran a traditional network – three node VMWare cluster with shared storage (fibre channel SAN), desktop PCs in most areas with a small laptop deployment, Exchange Server on-premises,  and home and shared drive maps to a local file server. Remote access to documents was via a Remote Desktop Services cluster, and this was the only remaining use for RDS as we have previously migrated to a cloud based MIS.

We initially wanted to shift the Exchange workload to Exchange Online and take advantage of the fact that – for education customers – it was free. We followed this up, once Office 365 had matured a bit, with migrating home drives to OneDrive, and then shared drives to a mixture of SharePoint and Teams. Finally we started piloting Teams in 2019 and were thrown into a full roll-out in March 2020 with the surprise of Coronavirus. Continue reading “Shift to the Cloud: Moving a school to OneDrive and Teams”

FTTC VDSL on a Cisco 897VA

I’ve recently changed broadband to Fibre-to-the-cab (FTTC) VDSL connection. As I have a small data cab in the house I wanted a rack mount router instead of the ISP provided one, and I had a spare Cisco 897VA hanging around which is perfect for the job.

Unfortunately there isn’t a web based config on this router so I’ve had to configure via terminal/SSH but it’s not too difficult to get running on your VDSL connection.

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Automated shutdown of devices

Scheduled Tasks to shutdown pushed out through Group Policy Preferences

In a drive to reduce power usage, I’ve tried a few times over the years at a way to shutdown computers but not if they are in use. I’ve tried using scheduled tasks set to only run when idle – in reality this doesn’t really work as we tend to have quite a lot of mice that move ever so slightly on their own, so the PCs never think they are idle. Even wrote a client/server application where the client reports when someone logs on, logs off, or switches user and when prompted to shutdown by the server, the client asks the logged on user if they want to go a head or cancel. This worked fine for a while but when we updated to Windows 10 it stopped working and needed a lot of time spent on working out what had changed. So I moved away from that method. Continue reading “Automated shutdown of devices”

Hive Active Heating and a “proper” network

So I received a 35% off code from British Gas to get Hive Active Heating. As my boiler works off a time clock only (no thermostat) I decided this’d be great as I’d no longer have to guess how long I need to turn it on to get the temperature up on a weekend, and then forget to turn it off and have it wasting gas while I’m at work during the week.

They say it has to plug directly into the router, etc etc. Well as my ISP provided router is in modem mode, this wouldn’t work.. it’d either not get an IP address, or take the IP address assigned to my actual router and break the rest of the network.

Continue reading “Hive Active Heating and a “proper” network”

Classroom Queue in Papercut MF

We’ve recently switched from Ringdale FollowMe to PaperCut MF and I wanted to bring over our classroom queues. Unfortunately the supplier said this couldn’t be done, so I did some experimenting and worked out how myself.
The idea behind the classroom queue is that a second printer is listed on each PC in the room, so for room 10 the PCs would all show the “PaperCut” printer and also “Room 10”. Print to PaperCut and you use your personal code to release, print to Room 10 and you use the room code. This way a class of 24 pupils can all print their work to the Room 10 queue, then the teacher (or a single pupil) can go and release all 24 documents in one go. Loads quicker than a queue forming at the device.
Continue reading “Classroom Queue in Papercut MF”