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  2. Pic0o

    Diablo III Thread

    Holy shit?! 2011 (more a less besides the Mac Mini testing) was the last time this thread had a post? I guess that explains why I am loving this Switch Version of Diablo 3. If you expected a time I pushed people to get a switch, portable Diablo 3 is a damn fine example of it. 4 player online or local Co-Op. Button config is smooth as silk versus clicking a ton of shit like a mad person. Thread bump as I am playing me some Diablo 3. Your PC characters are separate from the console version, so just so you know as to not having an ungodly high level paragon, out the gate playing this version. All the updates and game mechanic changes are pretty damn good!
  3. Pic0o

    Fallout 76

    I played the beta and wanted to share some of my experiences. It was only a few hours worth but I came to a decision. Canceled pre-order. Not to be dramatic about it, but reasons I canceled a pre-order and release are: Always online Fallout. I got the feeling people were shooting at me as I explored the starting content and I was right. Luckily you can sleep on a bed and not get killed by other actual players. Food and Water mechanic. So if I AFK, my character will need food and water and potentially die. Recovering items from your corpse. Building mechanics. VATS completely changed. Since always online, you cannot slow time and aim for parts. VATS now works like an enhanced aim, but with really limited functional use. While most of my reasons for disinterest are pretty popular in other games... I do not wanted a forced always online experience. Co-op as an option would be great but I am hard-passing on a persistent online environment where I have to manage food, water and getting player killed. Maybe if there is an offline option so I can enjoy the content and like actually pause, I would be interested. I am not a huge fan of MMO like mechanics in a game I feel is built for single player. Granted if I were playing an MMO, the PVP is established as a mechanic with some sort of consent, but if I were to AFK in a town playing something like a Final Fantasy or World of Warcraft, I would not have to feed a food and drink bar to stay alive. Survival mechanics as a game mechanic are not my speed. Hopefully you enjoyed my opinion and moderate rant about Fallout 76. Perhaps it helped you make some choices too. I like to pause and take IRL breaks, walk the dog etc.
  4. Pic0o

    Starlink: Battle for Atlas

    I explored a second world, bought the DLC compilation pack and am enjoying the exploration and story narrative. That being said, if you do not want the physical toy items, save some money and get the $60 digital version with most everything included, or the $80 digital version with all the pilots, weapons and ships. This is a pretty chill game. It's fun to play in bed or whatever. I'm going to play in tablet mode over break here in a little bit, since I tend to play docked off the TV. There are 2 ships that are physical exclusive and sold at Gamestop and Target stores. The Scramble ship is a repaint of the Pulse ship and the Cerberus is a repaint of the Lance ship. I will test tonight if they actually are different ships in-game. As that would make the total ships total be 8. Star Fox Airwing, Scramble and the Cerberus are the 3 exclusive ships. Star Fox being switch exclusive and the other 2 being retailer specific.
  5. Pic0o

    Merry Spooky!

    Hopefully you are having a nice Halloween! It's about mid-60 F temperature wise today. I will step out for a break shortly. Game wise, Fallout 76 had a Beta that was kind of a failure, since console and PC players had to download the same 45 GB multiple times. On the upswing, the next beta window is increased to be from 2pm EST until 11PM EST tomorrow on 2018/11/01. Most of the other ones are only in around 5 hour blocks, with a release on 11/14. Speaking of such, Bethesda has their own launcher client now, instead of you being able to just get the game on Steam. I guess they want in on those market demographics and not paying Steam a cut of sales. Tech wise, Hmmm hahaha. Red Hat was bought by IBM. Kind of big news as I figure that recurring service contract income is a big deal for IBM to be able to attach to their financials. Red Hat is only going to get bigger, well at least they were poised to before the purchase. As a mainline Windows systems person, you kind of have to have your head in the sand to deny Linux computing in the server stack. I have to say the inverse applies to thinking Microsoft is not going to remain in the business stack for some time as well. But enough of my ideologies. :) I recently got a better webcam so I can play Magic the Gathering with some buddies, using actual cards. It's a good time, I just tend to be out a bit between work and the occasional local tech event I like to turn up for. I also helped the missus install Windows 10 in a VM on her Manjaro install. She loathes windows so my powers grow stronger by enabling her to do so. Bwhahaha! Have a nice week! Oh yeah, we are on the 4th Nightmare on Elm Street film for our Halloween sessions. She is getting to enjoy them for the first time.
  6. Pic0o

    Starlink: Battle for Atlas

    Cost to content wise, the Digital versions give you the most content. You will need 12.7 GB or so on your SD card though. $ 60 version gets you 5x ships and other items, where as the $ 80 digital version gets you all the content. Physically, each ship is $ 25. You get a single weapon and a pilot with the ship. Weapon items come in a 2 pack and cost $ 10. Pilots are $ 8 each. If you start with the physical game, there is a DLC pack 1 that looks to be $ 60. this gets you all the ships, pilots and weapons. The physical edition is $ 75, so add another $60 for the DLC pack to bring you to $ 135 for all the content and the Star Fox toys to go with the controller ship adapter. Or you can get all the content digitally for $80. Even the $ 60 digital version gets you 5x ships, where as you get 2 with the Switch version or 1 with the Xbox / Playstation versions. Digital content can be bought individually, but each ship is about $13. So roughtly half the price as the physical items.
  7. Pic0o

    Starlink: Battle for Atlas

    I picked this up for Nintendo Switch this weekend. I got the physical edition with the Star Fox toys. Despite some hate the game gets, it is pretty fun and also looks quite nice. Do be warned it is mainly a toys to life game, so you can buy IRL ships, pilots and weapon toys, or go all digital and save some money. Common reference points are to No Mans Sky, but with story dialog instead of just exploration and minimal objectives. Fair disclaimer: I am only on the second world. I played a few hours and 100% explored the world 1 map. Extra ships do not appear unlockable from story, but are tied to the toy or digital dlc. Weapons may be the same case, but weapon power ups are found in-game. You can get some nice weapon power ups if you register to the Ubisoft Club site and use the gold coins you get from in-game objectives. I had plenty for the items from other Ubisoft games I have played. I may get to try out co-op as well soon. When I do, I will share details on that too. FYI. To use your second ship, remove the right joycon and it will put you into Digital mode, instead of Physical and you can fly other ships.
  8. Pic0o


    Recounting if your Pihole has an issue getting gravity lists or updates in the OS and web interface for pihole. Check your router / firewall logs for ip mac binding errors. Since the device is likely setup with a static IP, you may want to be sure to add a rule if you see it in the logs. Updates should then work. Oh cool. Conditional Forwarding is a setting in the PiHole admin settings. If your Pi-Hole is not working as a dhcp server, your device names will not all be able to be read from your router. Accurate in my instance. Yay updated interface!
  9. Pic0o

    Video Channel and this Forum

    nouveau.modeset=0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3aDEVHtA7M&list=PLItvWBLwYxo47PtOwgvqdjfnq9in05yoM
  10. Pic0o

    Powershell Log collection

    This thread is more like my personal notes than a guide. Especially since the consistent file path variable was something I recently got my head around. Hopefully that made sense in it's current format. I wanted to mention you will get limited results if you do not run the Powershell from an administrator-level escalated prompt. Otherwise stuff like the Get-ScheduledTask will not show all jobs on said machine.
  11. Pic0o

    July greetings

    I consolidated the Projects forum into Break / Fix. It gives a cleaner read of the forum and threads that way. Hardware is still top and separate, as to avoid flooding out threads.
  12. Pic0o

    Powershell Log collection

    I have been doing a bit of powershell to configure and interact with various Windows versions. I built up some core scripts to use as my own kind of workshop for system review and administration. I wanted to drop an example script to chat about. One of the things I struggled to understand starting out was string substitution and being able to define a variable that would also consistently output to a file path of my choosing. TL;DR on that resolution is to wrap the other variable you are calling (example: file paths) in a $() block. As seen below, I call my Computername environmental variable so it can be used in the output of file names and logs. # getEventLogs: Maintenance collection script. $boxName = $env:COMPUTERNAME $outEvt01 = ".\$($boxName)_EventLog_Apps.csv" $outEvt02 = ".\$($boxName)_EventLog_System.csv" $outSvc01 = ".\$($boxName)_Service-RunStates.log" $outPorts01 = ".\$($boxName)_Network-Ports.log" $outTask01 = ".\$($boxName)_Tasklist.log" $outSchTsk01 = ".\$($boxName)_Scheduled-Tasks.log" Filter timestamp {"Logs collected at $(Get-Date -Format "yyyy-MM-dd HH mm ss")"} # Application Event Log most recent 100 messages. Get-EventLog application -newest 100 | Export-Csv $outEvt01 timestamp | Out-File -Append $outEvt01 -Encoding ASCII Get-EventLog system -newest 100 | Export-Csv $outEvt02 timestamp | Out-File -Append $outEvt02 -Encoding ASCII # Collect service list and current state of each. Get-Service | Sort-Object status | Format-Table -AutoSize | Out-File $outSvc01 timestamp | Out-File -Append $outSvc01 # Get process list with relevant details at time of script exec. cmd /c netstat -aon > $outPorts01 timestamp | Out-File -Append $outPorts01 cmd /c tasklist > $outTask01 timestamp | Out-File -Append $outTask01 Get-ScheduledTask | Select TaskName, State, TaskPath | Sort-Object -Property TaskPath | Format-table -wrap | Out-File $outSchTsk01 timestamp | Out-File -Append $outSchTsk01 # Wrap all these output into update state / append single file. # Stamp date and Time into said merged output. Starting out at the top, I defining a variable for the powershell equivalent of environmental variables in the OS like %computername%. Trust me here, you don't want to try and call a %variable% in a powershell script. That's what line 1 is for. Each of the following defined variables are my output paths for the collections. I use .csv exports for larger data sets, since the default Table outputs can heavily chop data to fit the terminal output. Brief OCD DBA note. Being a fan of Databases and Microsoft SQL, I really value a good | (pipe) to run: | Select * after a command. You can filter that raw output for fields you want to have outputted by writing a custom Select pipe. There is an example of that for Scheduled Tasks, I just wanted to word out the logic as that took me some time to figure out that is how I can see what my options are for selecting output fields. The other variables for file path are so I do not have to add the same string twice or more. As you can see on the actual commands, I add an Out-File -Append to insert the Date string to each file. Filter timestamp is my means for defining the date output string. That time will be for when the script is run, so each file will have a matching output time. Think of filter in this context as an easier Function. The rest of the script uses either Powershell cmdlets or OS level commands to obtain the data I am looking for and saving to the output files. I experimented both ways to see what output best matches the task and output I want to work with. The Export Events logs are pretty simple in calling the 100 most recent events, saving that to a .csv, then adding the Date string at the end of said file. Service list is sorted and exported to a .log file with the Date string added (as the date will be added for the other 4 output files as well). ' cmd /c ' calls a windows command but ignores keywords for powershell on that line. Huge helpful thing to know when trying to process content by use of an OS-level command. Otherwise you will see really esoteric issues you would rather not have to figure out the secret means of why they are failing. cmd /c is quite nice. FYI. Neat. We are at the part I rambled above in relation to databases and filtering content. I did not need many of the details in the raw output from showing all the parameters of that Powershell cmdlet. Selecting the relevant fields, I then sort based on the TaskPath field (to put the non-OS tasks first in the list), apply a -wrap text for the Format-Table output of that cmdlet, then output the data into a local file. I have done some scripts with loop and condition evaluations but I will stop here for the moment. If you want to gather some information about an environment, hopefully this example gets you in the right direction for your data collections. Let me end with a link to a great resource. SS64 has some good resources and examples. They have been very helpful in conjunction with the Windows Powershell manuals.
  13. Pic0o

    Profile fields

    I spruced up the profile fields to be in this century. I also removed stuff like AIM, MSN and ICQ. All of those are dead, well short of ICQ that last I loaded, was some weird bot advertisement network. Current version Invision Boards is nice for managing all this stuff. Even the items I added a long time ago, are well accessible in current version. Oh yes, I condensed the subforums in here too. I had too much shit in here that no one really used. I nested the old ones under the Welcome forum.
  14. J0k3r

    2018 D33'z Build

    As far as adding you to Oculus, its going to be awhile... Once I fire up the machine I will need a day to get it updated. Also another concern is that the MOBO will require a bios update to run the chip... How do I do this with only having the 1 chip that requires the BIOS update to run? My hope is that it will still POST, if not my options become pretty limited...
  15. J0k3r

    2018 D33'z Build

    y0 y0 So far the build has went as normal as I would suspect. The problem is now I must commit and pull the PS from this machine in order to power the new rig due to me opting to save some coins and recycle. I mean wtf right? My PS is still a 1600w PS so should be good and the connectors look aces so far as well. The biggest change is the socket... I mean you have to love a CPU that comes with a torque wrench pre-set for the proper torque to SCREW down your chip to the socket LOL no more weak ass plastic levers! My backup plan is an emergency BestBuy stop 😛
  16. Pic0o

    Oculus Rift VR

    Just bumping to note I still jump into some VR content but certainly not like 10+ hours a week, lately. I do quite enjoy moving my head to wall-clip objects. The SteamVR environment of the Steam offices are really good for that, you can even find some partially rendered hidden rooms. I tried the Budget Cuts demo but the controls on Oculus turned me off. I did however grab Beat Saber and enjoyed a good bit of that. Rumor has it someone else recently joined the Rift VR club, so I will be exploring more of their multi-player offerings, since I don't have to rely on the kindness and patience of randoms. BigScreen VR is still really cool, even with the Oculus 2.0 Home updates. I am looking forward to hosting some video sessions and the like. Speaking of the 2.0 Oculus beta stuff, they added quite a bit of new environmental objects here over the last month or so. As I mentioned on the phone, avoid the 2.0 update if you are on older hardware and the Oculus non-beta software is already yelling at you about not meeting requirements. I put some hours into the VR MMO called OrbusVR. For lulz we can also jump into the hive of villiany and memes that is VRChat. VRChat being free and OrbusVR going for $30 or less if on a sale. I'm not sure if it improved, but as an Oculus user, I always go for a game from the Oculus Store, instead of Steam. The performance tends to be better and you avoid glitches like the ceiling height mapping that can easily get broken in SteamVR.
  17. Pic0o

    2018 D33'z Build

    Looks like tonight is the night, so long as I don't boost all your new kit off your porch! Add me in Oculus. I'll find my info and how all that friending stuff works. That build looks insane.
  18. J0k3r

    2018 D33'z Build

    Attached is the specs of the new build! Last full build was Sept 2011 (In a older post here) CPU: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X Processor (YD295XA8AFWOF) COOLING: Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate 360mm Aluminum Radiator Triple Curve Fans AIO Enthusiast Liquid Cooling System CPU Cooler MEM: Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4 3600MHz C18 LED Desktop Memory MOBO: ASUS ROG STRIX X399-E GAMING AMD Ryzen Threadripper TR4 DDR4 M.2 U.2 X399 EATX HEDT Motherboard with onboard 802.11AC WiFi, USB 3.1 Gen2, and AURA Sync RGB Lighting HD: Samsung 970 EVO 1TB - NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 SSD (MZ-V7E1T0BW)
  19. Pic0o

    Traffic break

    This post is coming to you from a mobile hotspot as I wait out traffic to ease up. I am guessing everyone is rolling out for their Labor Day (Labour Day for you Canadians) Monday Holiday. Hmm. Normally I guess one should not bait upcoming topics but in this case, I figure I will be more likely to write them up if I do so. I want to throw together a headphone quazi-review thread. It will cover various brands and types of headphones, be them wireless, wired, earbuds or over the ear style. I also recently put a little time into continuing the VM Lab project by teaching myself to read Wireshark pCaps (Packet Captures) better. I'm going to skip to the cut here. Doing short captures and defined tasks heaps greatly. As I mentioned, doing this in a VM lab also helps cut out extra cross chatter you would see in a live production environment. The fun part I got into was running pCaps for MSSQL connections between a client machine and server on a domain, running SQL Server 2016 express. Funny part being, I could see the Databases and Tables being accessed in the pCaps. Table results were obfuscated from being displayed in clear text but let me tell you... this will make working on migrations very beneficial since I can jump into seeing what is connecting where, along with the Databases and Tables being invoked. I imagine there are plenty of potential settings to prevent the tables and database names from being read raw in packet captures. Let's be real here though, you will see plenty of default rolled configurations in the wild. Security hardening tends to be either a bucket list item, or something that gets turned on, once there is a direct cause and effect to have someone look into enabling extra protections against sniffing out data over the network, semi-in the clear. We can look to our pal SMB1 for an example of that in the Windows Server World. Snark aside, I have been chilling. Working, driving, sleeping and getting that life on in-between. It has locally been in the 90 F range with temperatures that feel 100+ F. Needless to say I am especially ready to welcome the Fall temperatures. Keep tinkering, asking questions and checking shit out. Be sure to take a break and appreciate yourself and those around you too. I try not to be too grumpy but that does not always work out that way. :p
  20. Say you are trying to use Settings | System | Apps and Features but you get an error along the lines of "windows cannot access the specified device path or file. you may not have appropriate permissions" trying to uninstall a program. You can also get a hard error and better search cross reference by clicking Manage optional features when in the Apps and features screen. This applies to Windows 10 and Server 2016. In my case I am on Server 2016 Standard Eval Version 1607 OS Build 14393.2273. Stepping back on the error, you might thing it a permission issue but in my case I was logged in as domain administrator. Base searching might have you remove and recreate your user profile but that is a waste of time and irrelevant to the issue. Don't waste your time messing with the profile. You can confirm in Control Panel that using that Programs and Features works without error to uninstall programs. Thanks to clicking the Manage optional features of Apps and features, I got info on the systemsettingsadminflows.exe to better search against my issue. Thanks to this page, I followed the secpol.msc steps to change a local policy to allow access for 'Admin approval mode'. Once I enabled that option and did a log out and back in (shutdown -l), I could use the Apps and features portion of settings without cryptic error. Local Policy Security Options User Account Control: Admin Approval Mode for the Built-in Administrator Account Enable this then logout then back in Hopefully that helps you avoid the black holes that can be searching for unable to uninstall program in windows with via settings, or similar strings.
  21. Pic0o

    Round up to Fall

    Oh yes I forgot to mention the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 expansion / stand alone game coming out in the next month or two. Torna the Golden Country is also included in the Season Pass content or will be available as a stand-alone prequel story. I played main Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for over 100 hours and enjoyed it very much. In respect to Switch Games, my top played list is like the below: Breath of the Wild Zelda title. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Skyrim Hyrule Warriors has quite a bit of time in it too, since it has a ton of unlockable content. I liked Mario Odyssey very much but once you finish it there is not much to return for. The very hard content is good, but it's also frustrating hard to complete. Haha I'm kind of old so I would support scrub mode checkpoints instead of doing the whole beast run, clean. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is fun but I only played through as Funky Kong. Loved the levels but I didn't need to beat myself up with the other characters. Shantae Half Genie Hero is good but I think the DLC is a little basic considering it's the modified levels from the main game, more a less. I enjoyed my initial play though. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is fun. I played it a bit on PC for some unlocks then replayed on Switch too. Old school vania while options to be more forgiving yet still challenging. I have Splatoon 2. I like the multiplayer as it can be rally intense. I do not play very much online. Getting an uncoordinated team is a deaathwish in public games. You need to claim turf and seize area, not peen for max kills at your base. The single player was pretty good and a little frustrating. The gyro aiming controls are impressive for sure. I got the Octo expansion bbut only put a few levels in so far, on it's more task objectives, instead of the level platforming like play of the main single player story mode. ittle Dew 2+ is a fun game but as I am near the next to last dungeon, it gets hard. Boss fights are very pattern heavy and they tend to do large amounts of damage. I will go back to farm and finish it as some point. I dream of a patch scaling back boss damage cause I am a scrub. 🙂 Bayonetta 1 and 2 were quite fun. I played in easy mode as a lesson from littlejay from RFHQ. Loved the crazy story, fights and content. I ended up playing the 2nd game before 1. I dug them both and got the 1 and 2 combo. I had played some of it on Wii U but it stuck with me much better on a switch play. I am going to replay Cosmic Star Heroine on Switch. I played on PC but missed the extra levels that came in a post-release patch. Also played in easy mode to enjoy the story and stand a chance on the advanced boss fights. I played Cave Story for the 1st time on Switch. It was awesome. Good play and lots of story options. As my list noted with the top 4 games, I put like 100 hours into each of them easily. Full disclaimer: as a big Nintendo game and system fan, i think they have an absolutely awful policy shutting down competitors, rom sites and all sorts of other bat shit crazy 'brand protections'. The fan project attacks are the worst and the rom stuff is especially dumb since if I could get it on a current system and or not have to buy it again for x'th time, the rom is more a memento than playing it easily on some current hardware, using my TV instead of a desktop pc, etc.
  22. Pic0o

    Round up to Fall

    Editors Note: I am not sponsored by Southern Tier. If I was I would proudly say so. Pumking 4 packs are not cheap. hahaha. Those are treat brews. I have a day job. I stand by not asking for subscriptions or plastering advertisements all over the place. It's safe to say that will be a staple of FuntimeBliss for, um forever. Obviously I plug myself and get some cool networking from sharing content online with people. That's a fresh reward, so I don't need to push scamware or ads at you.
  23. Pic0o

    Round up to Fall

    I don't know about you, but it has been pretty damn warm around here lately. In respect to Fall, Southern Tier: Pumking is out again. I have bought a few 4 packs and enjoyed them rapidly. The Mrs had a few but I kicked the last 4 pack solo in the night, last week. Haha. So yeah when not working, I have been playing a few games and flying a DJI Spark drone. I have about 4 hours of flight time and am having fun dabbling with recording video, taking pictures, testing range and flight maneuvers. Game wise, I fly my drone like I'm playing Watchdogs 2. Granted I have not strapped a Wifi Pinapple to it (yet). Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is awesome. I love that game and I think I made that apparent in it's thread. I also have about 9 hours into Octopath Traveler. I got it a few weeks after it released but I am enjoying it so far. Good story, each character has their quest line / initial meet sequence, the battle system is pretty good with it's accrued tactical points and well, I was impressed and liked it much more than I did the demo. I heard Diablo III / Diablo 3 is coming to Switch. I'm a sucker for portable dungeon crawling so count me in there. Rumor has it you can play local multiplayer without an internet connection too. If I come to your house to visit you, get a Switch lol we can slay some demons and shit. Reminder I still have HouseOfPlus.com thanks to ImmortalBob scoring the domain back. If anyone is playing games and wants to network it up, go nuts those forums are all you. You are welcome to post here too, obviously if you have an account still but I know it's wild here :bunny; I'm chilling for now but may have some more content going up soon. Mostly random stuff I wish I saw around more. I gotta finish this beer since the cat almost knocked it over. We might get around to watching John Wick tonight. Netflix horror movie selection, kind of sucks.
  24. Pic0o

    Cubans getting online

    I don't get to post a bunch about actual Cuba but I did see a story of new internet access becoming available and it being promoted as free for a day (Yesterday 8/14/2018). via this Reuters article.. I can only hope more online access comes to Cuba at a reasonable to free rate and more people get online and share their opinions for it. I'm always down to read some more observations from different people and regions. If by chance you ended up here... drop me an email to my username at this domain and I'll make you an account if you like. This site tends to get generically blocked on most web filter systems. I do what I can to get it cleared up when I learn about it. Tech and Games would probably be an accurate category, granted it's not like I host flash games or anything here.
  25. Quick topic to share that I have a Samsung S8 and have an issue with icon burn in from my bottom deck of icons. If you have any icons with white in their icon, I really suggest not putting them in the persistent icon bar. Searching around, I found some people on the Samsung forums noting a similar issue. I tried the whole 'flush your phone cache by pressing {Up Vol, Bixby then holding Power Button} on the Android menu but flushing cache made no change. For grins, I'm trying the Cycle Red, Green and Blue with a program called OLED Tool to see if it allegedly resets the pixels, as is a rumor with AMOLED screens. The specific icons that caused burn-in on my shortcut dock are Clock and Riot (chat messenger). I moved all my icons off there for now but do not to appear having any residual pixels on the bottom of my screen for the Email, Messages or Camera icons. Most apparent will the burn in be, when you are looking at a white page. At first I thought it was some sort of desktop transparency thing, until I looked up the issue. I made the thread for something to keep in mind, as this is the first phone I ever noticed this issue on.
  26. Ad Build Guide: Primer: I see quite a few people talk about wanting to do vulnerability research, yet not having much Windows exposure. It could be heavy bias on my part but for the roles i have seen, Windows is pretty dominant in the wilds of the business world. The intent here is to learn more about Windows domain environments by building a test environment of our own to test on. Disclaimers apply to why we want to make a test environment: I really really really do not want to read about you getting arrested for poking a stick at some Windows environment you found in the wild, without having been granted permission to do so. It is really minor effort to find a server with Remote desktop protocol port open to the internet. Granted at this point in time, that should be considered negligence on the part of sites with that port open, but alas, that would not work as a defense for your sake. I have intended to write this guide with a minimal technical background being required, for the sake of welcoming more people to utilize it. Now that we got out of the way, let us start with the hardware and software used to build your Virtual Machine lab. + A modern desktop or laptop running an x64 processor. You can be running Windows, Linux or OS X for your desktop operating system, as we are going to use VirtualBox to build the VMs. The following guidelines can be applied to your Virtualization platform of choice, but I like VirtualBox for sake of cross-OS Virtual Machine migration and price point for running VirtualBox. + 16 GB RAM or more is preferable. You could get by with less but may find your VMs running low for resources and have less options for multiple, concurrent running VMs. + A SSD drive. Running on an SSD will greatly speed up time to copy an existing VM and also improve desktop performance of the VMs. You can get by on a HDD, but you will wait much longer to clone a virtual disk image and your virtualized desktop OS might be laggy. Getting started, we want to install VirtualBox, make sure VT-x support is enabled (likely a BIOS setting you can set when your PC is booting up) and to download Windows Server 2016. We could go with older versions of Windows and poke those with a security stick, but if you are trying to get some viable business experience, I would jump into the more recent OS, particularly as many businesses have been lagging on their migrations from older Windows Server versions. There is no shame in learning and trying to also be marketable at the same time. VirtualBox: https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads Windows Server 2016 Download the ISO image. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/evaluate-windows-server-2016/ This will give you a 180 day trial install. So long as not doing so on the Domain Controller server with that role active, you can Sysprep the install to reset the timer and OS back to it's initial state. More on that further in this guide. While those download and you install VirtualBox, let's step back to overview your intent with this test lab. We are installing an initial Windows Server 2016 virtual machine. Once that is up, we will clone that image so we have a master control image. For the sake of this lab, let's leave the Master image intact then create 4x master clones. I'm going with 40 GB disk size for the VM, so roughly 200 GB will be used. Master Image (Do not change once all patched) Windows Domain Controller Microsoft SQL Server AppServer. This is optional if you want to save space and piggy-back your potential test application from the SQL VM. Client machine. Not necessarily on the domain. This will be your client device / scan box / non-domain network sniffer. Let's get started: From VirtualBox, click the New button to create a new Virtual Machine. Type: Microsoft Windows, Version: Windows 2016 (x64). Name this initial VM 'masterControlImg' for sake of reference. Click the box for 'Create a virtual hard disk now'. Let's set the Memory option to '2048' AKA 2 GB. Then click 'Create'. I want to add a note that the virtual machine name you enter here will also be the subfolder in your VMs folder for VirtualBox on your storage drive (on your actual main machine). You will get weird errors if you try to make a VM the name of a folder that already is in that folder. FYI to save you headaches on that note. Next will be the Create Virtual Hard Disk screen. Leave the path as-is since it will match the prior line about being in a folder named to your VM, 'File size' of 32 GB is fine (but I suggest 40 GB for when you start adding Active Directory services and Replication), 'Hard disk file type' to the default of VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image) is good, as is the 'Storage on physical hard disk' remaining set to Dynamically allocated. Good, now we can press 'Create' on the virtual hard disk screen. Now that VM is created, let's go into it's settings then onto the Storage tab. The second drive should be a CD icon and on the right side you will see a drop-down when you click the CD icon. Select 'Virtual Optical Disk File...' then browse on your local computer to where you saved that Windows Server 2016 ISO, click OK until you are back to your VMs listed on the 'Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager'. With the ISO mounted for Windows Server 2016, boot your VM to install. Hurry up and wait. Follow the prompts (you want Server 2016 with desktop experience) and select an Administrator password. For the sake of this lab, we can use 'Babydonthurtm3!' without the quotes. You will want to take note of this for later use, as this is the local administrator account for this install and your cloned virtual machines. Wait for the installer to finish and when done, it will let you login and see your desktop. Now the install process for Windows begins. End of the Windows install process. Let us login to this VM. Minimize Server Manager for now. We do not want to add any roles or features yet. Clicking the Settings Gear, we want to install Updates for our Template OS. This will likely take quite some time. Better to do it now than to need patching every other machine we make as well. Install the most recent windows update patches, reboot and log back in. Once the patches finish, shut this VM down. Avoid booting this VM into windows, since it will be our Source VM for new instances. Then back on the Oracle VirtualBox VM Manager, go to Settings for your VM, then Network. Change the Attached to from NAT to 'Internal Network'. You can make a custom name for 'intnetLab01' for ease of reference later, if you expand your VM labs. This setting will allow all the other VMs we spawn to communicate with each other. If you forget to do this step later for other VMs, come back here if you wonder why your VM cannot see the Active Directory Domain Controller. Clone machine image prompts: With all of this done, let's make a clone of this VM. We will name this Clone 'WinDC01_testFTB' or the like, as it will be the Primary Domain Controller for our Windows Domain. Be sure to check the 'Reinitialize the MAC address of all network cards' because you do not want the same MAC address trying to talk to another computer. That would also cause issues with DHCP and all sorts of networking issues you do not want. You do want to make it a Full Clone instead of a linked clone. Wait for the clone process to finish, then boot up your newly spun 'WinDC01_testFTB' VM. Log in to the desktop. Before you get started making this a domain controller, we want to SysPrep this machine. The action of this command will make it seem like a new windows install with the most important result being it will have a new SID / Windows Install ID. As you dig into active directory, you will see AD links the machine name to it's install ID / SID as a unique identifier. If that didn't make a lot of sense, know that running Sysprep will allow us to join each of our copied VMs into this test domain, without machine conflict issues. Click Start and then Run cmd.exe. If it's not prefixed with 'Administrator: Command Prompt' in the title bar, click Start, type cmd then right-click to Run As Administrator. In this prompt type: cd %systemroot%\system32\sysprep then type: sysprep /generalize /oobe A brief prompt will come up as it prepares your install then it will shut down the VM. Once that happens, start the VM back up and it will take you through a prompt similar to when you installed the OS. Once done, you will be back at the desktop. If it asks for an Administrator password again, take note of what you use and write it down. You are welcome to use the Haddaway example from above again. Jumping back to the Sysprep process, you will need to do this for each image you clone from your VM template. I also wanted to mention %systemroot% that is an environmental variable in Windows. If you get to writing scripts, environmental variables are quite the blessing to your sanity. You can use them in powershell to some extent also, so the fun pays off there. Final ramble about SysPrep. If you try to do this on an Image that had AD Roles and Features installed, it will likely not re-activate the 180 day trial for Windows Server and if it was an AD services image, it will likely error on the sysprep process. That's why we have our base image 🙂 Let's wrap this up getting you a domain created. Starting off, let's set this machine to have a Static IP Address. In the TaskBar down in the lower right by the Time, right-click the Network icon and then click 'Connections': Ethernet. On the Ethernet status page, click Properties then Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) In the screencap you can see I went with: on a /24 Subnet (AKA Pick a default gateway that will be the same for all other VMs made, intended to connect to this AD setup. For the DNS, I put it's own IP but (loopback) works too. If and when you add a second DNS and AD Server, I highly advise making your second DNS server be the IP of that other DC. It will make domain fail-over really easy and reliable if you shut down your primary DC or practice a patching cycle like as would be done in a production setting. Another good thing to do, is Changing the Computer Name. By default it will be something like 'WIN-StringofTextandNumbers'. For sanity's sake you can rename this to 'WinDC01FTB' or something more descriptive. To change the computer name, bring up an Explorer window then right-click on 'This PC' then select Properties. Click Change Settings to change the Computer name, then reboot as it will ask you to do. When you run the AD wizard without setting a static IP address, it will give you a warning about resolution issues. So that's why we took care of that before using the Server Manager to add roles and features. Take my word on it being annoying to change a computer name, once you add roles and services. Planning to do the PC name change before adding roles will save you headaches. Since we are in VirtualBox, select Devices menu then the 'Insert Guest Additions CD Image' if you would like to use options such as 'Shared Clipboard' and 'Drag and Drop' files. Once the image is mounted in your VM, run the installer from it's CD drive then reboot when it's finished as it will prompt. This is helpful for when you want to get or send files and text to the VM and your actual desktop machine. Unless you like manually retyping scripts, I'd suggest adding these Guest Addons. Wrapping this guide up, I am pivoting to a helpful guide for Installing AD Services: http://www.rebeladmin.com/2016/10/step-step-guide-setup-active-directory-windows-server-2016/ Jump to Step 4 and it will show you click for click on adding the Active Directory Domain Services under Server Manager | Roles and Features. I am going to present a bit of a shortcut / cheat. Instead of clicking lots of next boxes, we can supply the config options by use of Powershell. The below is the script I saved from the Wizard when it presented 'Export Configuration Settings'. You can run this in a Powershell ISE window or save it to a text file and add a .ps1 on the name to make it a powershell script. # # Windows AD DS Deployment # Import-Module ADDSDeployment Install-ADDSForest ` -CreateDnsDelegation:$false ` -DatabasePath "C:\Windows\NTDS" ` -DomainMode "WinThreshold" ` -DomainName "hivelan.int" ` -DomainNetbiosName "HIVELAN" ` -ForestMode "WinThreshold" ` -InstallDns:$true ` -LogPath "C:\Windows\NTDS" ` -NoRebootOnCompletion:$false ` -SysvolPath "C:\Windows\SYSVOL" ` -Force:$true This should let you spawn your Domain as if you entered these values in the Wizard. In this setup we are calling the domain 'Hivelan.int', with a classic domain name of just Hivelan (for Window NT level old support). On a reboot you should be able to login to the Domain you just created. From here, the virtual domain is your oyster. You can make another clone of your Template machine, sysprep it, then join it to the domain. Since we didn't add the DHCP Server role to the current DC, go into your IP options and set all the IP info the same, except the IP address where you want the last octet (4th block of 3 digits) to be different than .10. Then once on the same IP Space (your subnet, means you can have an IP of - Go into System Properties on this new VM. Change your Computer name if you wish but the real objective is to change from a Workgroup to a Domain. Enter 'Hivelan.int' as your domain and it should prompt for the Administrator account and Password. You can always make a second domain admin account if you wish, but that boils into using Active Directory Users and Computers in Administrative Tools. Once you add this machine to the domain and reboot, jump back into the Server Manager to add the Active Directory Domain Services on this machine, but we will say 'Add to an existing domain'. Click Next until it's finished. This guide got a little longer than I intended but I will stop here for the time being. You can then make another clone of your Template VM and use that as a machine not on the domain. Give it an IP address in the allotted space and you can use that for running Wireshark to see what kind of traffic you see. You can then add that machine to the domain or make another VM clone to see how the traffic differs for a machine that is added to the domain. Hopefully that helped get you into a test Windows environment and gave some help on getting started with VirtualBox. If you have the funding and another Virtual Machine platform you like more (like XenServer or VMware), most of the concepts and options should be transferable and have similar naming.
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