Bonus from the Palo Alto Networks PA-500

Every now and then I get the opportunity to use in my home manufacturer gear such as Palo Alto Network’s PA-500, a next-generation firewall. Even without any policy refinement, the PA demonstrated a consistent performance advantage of about 5-6 Mbps over my straight Asus RT-N66U freshly imaged with firmware 3.0.0.4.354 that I had installed just prior.

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Is this surprising? Well, no. Not only does Palo Alto Networks make pretty fantastic systems but this test is like racing a recent BMW Roadster against a new Prius. What’s exciting if I were to have the opportunity to use a PAN firewall is that my speed would be largely deterministic and consistent regardless of what features I turned on. As of this post, I’ve turned on just about every feature such as live Data Filtering, URL Filtering, Spyware and Virus Filtering, and File Blocking.

Much more to come on the blog site www.blackdiamondsolutions.com so stay tuned.

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Resist the urge to flush

Example DNS Client cache on Windows 8
Example DNS Client cache on Windows 8

Every IT guy eventually learns how to flush the local cache for a system’s DNS client. The following command has probably wore many a helpdesk or admin keyboard:

ipconfig /flushdns

There are certainly times where that is the best or only course of action in diagnostics or recovery. For instance, a replacement service may be running with a different IP address such as when a VM or service is moved from one Data Center to the other.

Sometimes the better course is to observe (passively) before any action is taken. Windows PowerShell offers a simple commandlet, Get-DnsClientCache that can be very helpful showing each entry of a host and other useful information such as record type, TTL and the IP addresses. Combine the basic command with some simple processing for more power (below):

PS C:\Users\User> Get-DnsClientCache | where entry -Contains youtu.be

Entry                     RecordName                Record Status    Section TimeTo Data   Data                                      
                                                    Type                     Live   Length                                           
-----                     ----------                ------ ------    ------- ------ ------ ----                                      
youtu.be                  youtu.be                  A      Success   Answer      58      4 74.125.225.104                            
youtu.be                  youtu.be                  A      Success   Answer      58      4 74.125.225.102                            
youtu.be                  youtu.be                  A      Success   Answer      58      4 74.125.225.101                            
youtu.be                  youtu.be                  A      Success   Answer      58      4 74.125.225.98                             
youtu.be                  youtu.be                  A      Success   Answer      58      4 74.125.225.97                             
youtu.be                  youtu.be                  A      Success   Answer      58      4 74.125.225.105                            
youtu.be                  youtu.be                  A      Success   Answer      58      4 74.125.225.99                             
youtu.be                  youtu.be                  A      Success   Answer      58      4 74.125.225.100                            
youtu.be                  youtu.be                  A      Success   Answer      58      4 74.125.225.103                            
youtu.be                  youtu.be                  A      Success   Answer      58      4 74.125.225.110                            
youtu.be                  youtu.be                  A      Success   Answer      58      4 74.125.225.96

 

Go ahead and try it out on your Windows system the next time you feel the urge to flush.

 

Poor Man’s IE Session Management

Perhaps I should call this post, “Lazy Man’s IE Session Management”.

On IE9 and IE10 I’ve always wanted a session manager. Well, until I find or make one, I’ll make do with the following PowerShell script:

Get-Process| where name -eq iexplore | foreach kill

or, the PowerShell-less .bat

taskkill /f /im iexplore.exe

 

When I relaunch IE, I can choose to immediately recovery the session or postpone and later start the recovery via the About:Tabs or Tools link.

For sessions that I regularly start,  a simple About:Tabs with my stock choices bring me to particular tasks/projects or workflows.

Now what I’d like to do for IE intensive loads is to create a script that will load X instances of IE, each window housing related tab but only loading under lower process priority and with a even watch to wait for prior tabs and window load completions…

Set Visio 2010 for an Instance per Document

Multiple Window VisioEditing multiple Visio diagrams at the same time leaves something to be desired with the default installation of Visio. Though the View ribbon can help to a small degree, hot keys to move to another Visio document would be ideal.  One simple way to increase usability in this scenario is to have Visio 2010 open each document in a new instance so that you can rely on Alt-Tab and Shit-Alt-Tab keystrokes.

Change Visio 2010′s Options

First, go into Visio 2010′s Advanced Options  (File -> Options -> Advanced) and select “Put all settings in the Windows registry” as seen below.  

 

Modify Registry

Then launch regedit (Start -> Run -> regedit) and disable SingleInstanceFileOpen by changing the value of its key from a 1 (one) to 0 (zero) . Navigate in regedit by the following:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER
  • Software
  • Microsoft
  • Office
  • 14.0
  • Visio
  • Application
Once there, double-click SingleInstanceFileOpen to modify its value.

Eclectic.1