Windows Module Installer

A pain in my side over the past year finally forced me into addressing it. Windows Module Installer runs as TrustedInstaller.exe and for most cases just does its job which is to keep in touch with the Windows Update service and apply the updates sent to it.

Occasionally they develop a memory leak and consume RAM until someone intervenes. We have about 140 servers. About 22 over the past two months about 20 showed this behavior. Only when it uses about 2GB of the 10GB we allocated to these servers do I usually have to intervene. That has been about 3 times over the past 2 months and ten over the past year.

Using Yaketystats to see the trend was far worse than I had noticed, I decided we needed to do one of two things.

  1. Shut it down. Start them when we need them. Shut them down again when we do not. Benefit is we do not have to worry about them getting out of control consuming resources. Unfortunately those wanting to push out updates will have to add a step to start them before pushing them.
  2. Recycle. Routinely shut them down and start back. Relatively easy to automate, so set it and forget it. Recycle

Well, it gets much worse. First, running the commands work inconsistently. For example, I ran

Set-Service TrustedInstaller -startuptype “Automatic”

against every host in a development system. As is my habit, I ran a check to make sure it worked. It did on two of the five. So I ran it again. The other three were fixed. So I did that same process on another development system with five hosts. Three of the five worked the first time and the other two the second. The pattern held true for another three systems all with five servers each. Setting the startuptype to Manual worked the same inconsistent way.

My check:

Get-WmiObject -ComputerName $computer win32_service -Filter “name = ‘trustedinstaller'”

Second, stopping and starting them does not appear to stick. Several minutes after I have stopped all of the services they appear to back in the prior state. Those who were not running stay not. Those who were running are again. And if I start all of them, then at some point those who were not running stop again.

Guess I have a lot of research ahead of me. 🙁

Each D2L Site Broke 25 Million Hits

Night School is the last time I posted stats here. So this is probably due.

This Yaketystats graph records the daily hits for each site in green and pink. The gray is a total of the two. I had it go back to April first to show our spring load compared to how we are starting this fall.

Each of our Desire2Learn instances broke 25 million hits. Our schools set their own calendars, so start dates ranged from the 12th to the 26th. The amount of activity surged on start dates for the largest schools. A small bump on Wednesday of last week, normally there is a small fall off on Wednesdays, is due to a smaller school’s first day of classes.

The green line has three very large schools (1st, 2nd, 4th) who all started on the 19th. It peaked at 27.59M on the 20th.

The pink line’s bump on the 26th was due to its only very large school starting then. It peaked at 25.61M on the 27th.

Tuesday’s peak could be the highest we get until finals in early December. Since the schools have a Drop/Add period, the first few days are usually slightly higher activity.

Hits From 2013-APR-01 to 2013-AUG-29
Hits From 2013-APR-01 to 2013-AUG-29

Back in April, I saw:

@kfrisch#D2LRUF Reported that MnSCU’s D2L gets 25 million hits a day! We’re the largest self-hosted client of D2L in the United States.

The largest client we have still uses around 70% Blackboard Vista. Their plan is to be all in D2L come January. That should push the green one over the point it is bigger than MnSCU. But even just the normal increase in usage should have the pink one fairly comparable to MnSCU.

We should do something like about a billion hits a month.

I would prefer using a pageview metric. Maybe one of these days when I can make better progress on the to-do list.

Dashboard vs Feed

John Pavlus in Ghost’s Blogging Dashboard Doesn’t Need to Exist fell hook line and sinker for Anil Dash’s All Dashboards Should Be Feeds false dichotomy. The better argument is dashboards only tell the past with all the noise where the more useful information is an accurate future. People ultimately want to know what is going to happen. The feeds would do that.

However, to accomplish that feeds take the same data, apply criteria, and report a prediction of value to the user. That’s fantastic stuff. You know… Fantasy.

Someone has to decide how to produce the signal out of all the noise. Probably that is a quant or a wannabe who teases out of the data the important predictions. So unless you are beholden to someone like Anil, you want to be able to manipulate the data by looking at something like a dashboard to build feeds.

Not everyone is like me, I get that. Simple users want a magic number or an easy indicator of what is going on. Think of an alert that a site is going to break in 15 minutes. Power users like me want to know if components of those web sites are going to break 15 minutes from now. You know, so I can go fix it. But I would not mind being able to allow others to subscribe to my feeds where appropriate.

I’ve never had a problem taking dashboard data and projecting from them trends. A good one, like Yaketystats will even graph the prediction lines for me. I often work with the data to see how this line changes in order to get a sense if the prediction has biases built into it. But then, I enjoy being hands on and manipulate the graphs to see what I want to know. Predictions are only as good as the algorithm. Any why should we trust other’s when we can build our own? I could see YS with alert feeds for directors and above letting them know about upcoming milestones. It would be great for them, but that high level view is not so interesting to me. I want the details and build the things that produce the signal from the noise.

TED Talk: Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation

I was attracted to this video because a while ago I read Daniel’s book: A Whole New Mind. Take the concept that simple, clearly defined jobs will move to overseas. So to succeed in the United States, children need to be learning conceptual skills and become the people inventing the work doled out to overseas workers. Let’s ignore that overseas workers are more than capable of conceptual work like our kids.

The pervasiveness of functional fixedness perhaps explains why I have a job. (That and I’m not a gestault pscychologist.) The web comic xkcd recently posted a flowchart on how to become a computer expert where the pick one at random is overcoming functional fixedness. Much of what I do is figuring out non-intuitive issues and document a way to make it work aka a workaround.

I like his list of what economists say are good motivators to replace monetary incentives. The opportunity to get incentives like these drew me to this project. Of course, we don’t have the levels of autonomy Pink describes. Baby steps! Can you see your employer allowing the employees to spend one day a year working on whatever the employees wish to deliver a new product? Some autonomy in a group I work with here resulted in Yaketystats.

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

My favorite quote:

Traditional notions of management work great when you want compliance. If you want engagement, self-direction works better.

So this video is why this week I’ve been talking about how compliance sucks.  🙂

Higher Ed Twitter List

Karlyn Morissette posted her Master Higher Ed Twitter List. Other than @eironae and @barbaranixon, I didn’t know anyone on the list. So I thought to post a list of higher education professionals I follow categorized by primary expertise.

Blackboard twitterers might be another post.

Those in bold are coworkers.

College / University / Departments

@atsu_its – A.T. Still University – IT Help Desk & Support
@BC_Bb – Butte College Blackboard System
@CTLT – Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology @ Goucher College
@GeorgiaSouthern – Georgia Southern University
@ucblackboard – University of Cincinnati Blackboard Support

CE/Vista

@amylyne – Amy Edwards – CE/Vista DBA
@corinnalo – Corrina Lo – CE/Vista Admin
@elrond25 – Carlos Araya – CE/Vista Admin, Dr. C
@jdmoore90 – Janel Moore – CE/Vista Admin
@jlongland – Jeff Longland – CE/Vista Programmer
@lgekeler – Laura Gekeler – CE/Vista Admin
@ronvs – Ron Santos – CE/Vista Analyst
@sazma – Sam Rowe – YaketyStats
@skodai – Scott Kodai – former Vista Admin now manager
@tehmot – George Hernandez – CE/Vista DBA
@ucblackboard – UC Blackboard Admins

Faculty

@academicdave – David Parry – Emerging Media and Communications
@amberhutchins – Amber Hutchins – PR and Persuasion
@barbaranixon – Barbara Nixon – Public Relations
@captain_primate – Ethan Watrall – Cultural Heritage Informatics
@doctorandree – Andree Rose – English
@KarenRussell – KarenRussell – Public Relations
@mwesch – Mike Wesch – Anthropology
@prof_chuck – Chuck Robertson – Psychology

Information Technologist / Support

@aaronleonard – Aaron Leonard
@Autumm – Autumm Caines
@bwatwood – Britt Watwood
@cscribner – Craig Scribner
@dontodd – Todd Slater
@ECU_Bb_Info – Matt Long
@ekunnen – Eric Kunnen
@heza – Heather Dowd
@hgeorge – Heather George
@masim – ???
@mattlingard – Matt Lingard
@meeganlillis – Meegan Lillis
@soul4real – Coop

Assessment / Library / Research

@alwright1 – Andrea Wright – Librarian
@amylibrarian – Amy Springer – Librarian
@amywatts – Amy Watts – Librarian
@elwhite – Elizabeth White – Librarian
@kimberlyarnold – Kimberly Arnold – Educational Assessment Specialist
@mbogle – Mike Bogle – Research

Web Design / UI

@eironae – Shelley Keith

Director

@aduckworth – Andy Duckworth
@garay – Ed Garay
@grantpotter Grant Potter
@IDLAgravette – Ryan Gravette
@Intellagirl – Sarah B. Robbins
@tomgrissom – Tom Grissom

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Rock Eagle Debrief

GeorgiaVIEW

  1. SMART (Section Migration Archive and Restore Tool) created for us by the Georgia Digital Innovation Group seemed well received. I’m glad. DIG worked tirelessly on it on an absurdly short schedule.
  2. Information is strewn about in too many places. There isn’t one place to go for information. Instead between Blackboard, VistaSWAT, and GeorgiaVIEW about 29. I amazed I do find information.
  3. Blackboard NG 9 is too tempting for some.
  4. Vista does DTD valdiation but not very well. We need to XML validation before our XML files are run. As we do not control the source of these files and errors by those creating the files cause problems, we run them in test before running in production. I am thinking of something along the lines of validating the file and finding the errors and reporting to the submitter the problems in the file. Also, it should do XML schema validation so we can ensure the data is as correct as possible before we load it.
Yaketystats
  1. If you run *nix servers, then you need Yaketystats. I have been using it for 2 years. It revolutionized how I go about solving problems. If you are familiar with my Monitoring post, then this is the #2 in that post.
That is all for now. I am sure I will post more later.