In embrace of sea and greenery of South-Memoirs from day 3

Finally this was the day for which kids been waiting for. Sand castles on sea beach, but they had to wait little more as elders needed to visit Rameshwaram temple. No photos as cameras were not allowed in temples. We woke up early, taken bath, did Manidarshan, but going for “22 Kund snan” was kind of tough with kids around so we chosen the short route. By some 8.15 AM, we would have been free to drive again after checking out from hotel.

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We reached Danushkodi by 9 AM where we were stopped some 5-6 kms before by a check-post in name of “Road construction” which meant we weren’t allowed to go further at this weather at least. An impromptu parking spot it was from where pvt ferries used to take people to a certain point (Not the last end) on a cost from off-road route. It might look like just a line in maps, but including the shores, its around 500 mtr wide place which stretches around 7kms from north to south. It shares ONLY land border between Sri Lanka and India which is one of the smallest in world at 45 mtrs in length. (of course we didn’t made it to that point).

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This place is actually called as “Ghost Town” due to a tragedy back on 22 December, 1964 which wiped out roughly 1800 people including those 115 passengers on Pamban-Dhanushkodi passenger train. After that railways station was wiped out and the train never began its operations. A commission looked into possibility of new rail in 2010 and last year a road was constructed till this point.

Anyway… we went into history of the place… let’s come back to travelogue…

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In embrace of sea and greenery of South–Memoirs from day 1 and 2

The story is about the longest break I might have taken in last decade or so. The story is about a trip ranging close to 5700 kms, out of which 2200 kms was on roads driven by me in a car which was not my sweetheart Vista. The story is about a trip which gave first glimpses of sea to my kiddo. The story is about lush green mountains of Munnar. The story is about three families with four kids having fun together.

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This is just glimpse, a lot more to come from the repository of more than 20Gb of raw photos detailing moments from six individuals and four kids.

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A lengthy blog post for sure 

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WSUS and PowerShell: Declining and Deleting updates based on keywords

I am back again with just another write-up on WSUS in a very short time. Last time we talked about Reporting and Cleanup, this time its more into troubleshooting, which often requires one to find particular updates and nuke them out.

Yes! We are talking about those pesky Event IDs 364, which often mention about certain cab files and we System Admin bang their heads on walls to find out that which particular updates they belong to.

Let me give you an easy permanent way out via a Custom PowerShell module named PoshWSUS.

How to use that?
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WSUS and PowerShell: Audit-Compliance Report and Automatic Cleanup

Its been long since I wrote anything on WSUS. As Windows world evolved, many of the troubleshooting steps might be bit out-dated now but WSUS functioning and basics still remain more or less same.

Today I wish to take another aspect of WSUS and talk about WSUS Reporting part and regular clean-up.

WSUS Reporting:

WSUS has a comprehensive reporting system built in and if Report Viewer installed over the server, one can variety of reports, but the same remains limited to a pre-set and also one server only. Let’s think of a scenario, where one might have more than dozens of WSUS servers catering thousands of machines and rather logging over each one or attaching them into one console, we want to have a consolidated report to see if patches getting installed well and also whether team is meeting compliance by install each single patch of (M-1) month.

Now what my PowerShell code does? It bring a report like below in csv format:

Sample

This would include how many patches are needed on which machines, when those machines last contacted their respective WSUS servers, what IP and OS do they have and which particular updates are pending on them and those pending updates were released when. Also it tells count of those updates which have been downloaded or pending download or pending reboot of machines to complete the installation.

I believe this pretty much covers what a system admin might need to get an overview of issues and to address them. Apart from this, what the script does is, it creates some more CSV files, one against each WSUS server mentioning that which particular updates were released between the period of 1st day of (M-2) month (if today is March, then we talking about January 1st) and Second Monday of (M-1) month means just one day before Patch Tuesday. Based on this data, one might check if any of the last month patches are missing on any of the servers. I have written a Excel Macro code around that as well but that still needs updating and make compatible for general usage so would post that at some later time.

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Finally a group trip to Agra blessed with good weather luckily

What kind of year puts 2nd October, Christmas, Diwali all on Sundays? Yeah.. its current year 2016 only, which left the cult status holding August mid as almost the last long holiday to roam places for professionals across India. Result??? Almost each popular destination across Metro was supposed to be flooded with desperate crowd looking to have a good time.

This year cult August Mid had kind of double treat considering not only Monday was off but a Thursday too, means those who missed the first long weekend Sat-Sun-Mon, were allowed to make it into the second weekend after taking just one day Friday off ending up having Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun. The same scenario enabled those offices with multiple shifts overcoming the issue of only one of them getting the chance and others slogging through weekends. But for me, it was still tough considering the question that where to go?

Been to Lansdowne few weeks back, been to Nainital in April end, been to Dharamshala in mid of March, been to Manali in last December, been to Rishikesh before that, Mussoorie trip would have been of no point, then where to go? Sitting back home was kind of becoming only option considering unavailability of hotels in all major hills around Delhi, but then knowing that there is no other long weekend left this year, we had to go for some trip.

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We explored the idea of a Chail monsoon trip as never been to Shimla side but then colleague from Mohali and others who been to that area warned about the kind of roads in last leg of journey during unpredictable Monsoon. Same time hotel rates and unavailability in general became last nail to coffin of another Shimla side plans. (That side trip always getting dropped in planning stage since a while, let’s see when I manage to change that.)

Agra was selected based on shortest possible distance though I been to Agra once (before marriage), wife been to Agra once (before marriage), brother been to Agra once last year itself and the only partners who haven’t been to Agra were brother’s wife and my daughter. That was enough excuse for us to go for another trip.

Booking hotel through GOIbibo was another ordeal. Brother booked the same and at first Hotel Karan Vilas was confirmed by GOIbibo but brother got call from hotel that they don’t have any rooms available. On reaching out to GoIbibo support, he was ridiculously asked to cancel the booking and bear the charges of 500 Rs on him, which sure was enough to make us furious as what fault was on our part?

Later after discussing with seniors in GoIbibo support, we been offered Hotel Orchid. Hotel Karan Vilas which we had selected was on Main road, had swimming pools etc while this one was little off-road and without swimming pool etc so this was sure a rip-off on us but we okayed it at the end. Though later on during the trip, we got call from same Hotel Karan Vilas that they are holding two rooms for us. Don’t know where the miscommunication was but then we ended up in Hotel Orchid only.

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Single day family trip to Lansdowne

Don’t know if the trip to Dharamshala side has raised the bars or I am out of luck about hill trips in recent that not getting enough satisfaction from the hill drives. After last hill trip in April, last week of June 2016 seen another quick hill trip and this time destination was Lansdowne.

The plan for the trip came in mind as brother’s wife was dropping by for two days and we planned to take around hills. Later on, it was realized that it would be too hectic for her and the plan was dropped. But too late to save me from the poison of travel bug…..

We decided to take on the hill trip one week before it was planned and even though wanted to accommodate brother as well, it was again a family trip only.

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As been a norm for our hill trips, we started early from our apartment at Faridabad and first stop was taken at around 0530 hrs near Modinagar.

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The route may be of less than 270kms, don’t expect to cover the same in less than 6 hours, thanks to road and traffic conditions. Not some kind of worse but not super highways either. We got stuck for few mins at Najibabad area, where Bus station/ Railways station by the road were enough to create jam.

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Before 0900 hrs, we had crossed Kotdwara which is the point from where hills start. The above pictures were taken around Mankot, which was few kms before.

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And almost after 10kms another stop. Roads were ok in condition though on narrower side. Would have been trouble if both side traffic though that day being kind of non-season may be and early morning, it was manageable though bottleneck to speed. After taking many a stops, we might have reached there by some 1100 hrs.

Parking wasn’t tough though for my surprise, it was sufficiently crowded. Bigger surprise was the hotel room tariffs as none of them was either available or less than even 2000 Rs a night. This was sure high for such a small hill station as I expected such rates in Shimla etc but not in Lansdowne at least. Before even starting to explore the area, the decision was made that it would be single day trip than two days as it was earlier planned.

We stopped at good restaurant for the Aaloo-Paneer Paranthas and tea and then moved towards the lake.

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The lake, which even though might be looking ok in picture, wasn’t in good conditions in this season at least. Dirty and stopped water, not sure how it remains in other seasons or post rains. Good thing about it was proper parking place, nearby lawn etc.

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Don’t remember exactly but Entry ticket prices were nominal and even boating prices were ok though we chosen not to do boating (time constraint and disliking for the water here).

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There was a rabbit house in the lawn side which was the main attraction for kiddo.

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After spending almost an hour there, we moved towards tiffin top. After driving a little, there comes a place, where the road to tiffin top was mentioned but that seems to be for peddlers. Though some of the vehicles been managing to drive through there, I wasn’t too sure about it. Some other families like us been trying to enquire about it and soon a local guy passing by informed us about the main route for vehicles.

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Views weren’t that clear but honestly speaking, the place looked good about sunrise and sunset only and unfortunately we didn’t had time for both. Parking options were bad at the place though we managed it. Must have left the spot within 30 mins and then decided to head back to home entirely.

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The above was at around 1430 hrs and it was still cloudy day all around.

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We took a break at some under construction hotel in midway. Many laborers been cleaning the river and I was thinking what if State Govt itself does the widening/ cleaning works on rivers under MNREGA etc. Important task considering the tourism etc, but then who know NGT ego may be hurt again to pass another random Tuglaq style order.

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The place would be good photo stop in coming days.

The good times were to end once we were in plains. Area around Modinagar was hell for driving due to long traffic queues and despite of our tries, we reached home by 1000 hrs around only. It would have been 8hrs journey back to home but return journeys always feel longer. The good part was, I had a day off on next day.

Another hill trip was over and I was still unsatisfied from hills while winter seasons and snow still far away. Manali side anyway has been destroyed by NGT tantrums.