Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Portable 2nd Monitor for the Surface Pro 3 ( and TwoMonUSB issues)

As a road warrior, often in different settings, I am interested in a 2nd, portable monitor for my Surface Pro 3. So here was my thought process.

I tried to use TwoMonUSB to make my iPad the second monitor. At first it worked quite well. Great idea, a backup device with some apps I don't have on the surface and I can use it as a second screen. But then my Surface Pro 3 was rebooting randomly during idle times or the screen wouldn't light up after an idle timeout and then I would have to hard boot it. I was getting a bugcheck almost daily, sometimes multiple times a day. So after Refreshing the PC I decided that the $10 app approach wasn't going to work. I am not certain that it was TwoMonUSB but it seems the likely candidate.

But I need a second screen so here are the attributes that are important to me::
Weight: Not weigh me down -> less than 4 lbs
Screen Resolution: Work well with surface -> 1440 x 1080 (if possible)
Power: hopefully it will be able to work without AC available -> less than 5W typical energy consumption
Size: Big enough to see the screen  >12 inches but not so big I can't fit it in my bag <18 inches="" p="">
Price: less than $300 USD

This means that I need a DisplayLink Monitor that weighs less than 4 lbs, use USB for power and transmission of data, is at least 12 inches

Weight (lbs)
Screen Res
Power (Max) W
Power Typical (W)
Response Time (ms)
Price (USD)
Comments from reviews

<5 p="">
Works with Surface Pro 3, July 16, 2014 By Glenn Hanner 
The Surface Pro 3 will not power the monitor on its own. The USB3 port does not have enough power.


<5 p="">





Works off of Surface Pro 3 battery power
One usb
Andrew Nov 28, 2011 "Uncontrollable brightness… I contacted AOC and they confirmed that you cannot control the brightness"



Includes carry case, auto pivot


"The Surface Pro 3 … USB port doesn't put out enough power for the screen. "

Lenovo Think Vision LT1421


Bulky in back not flat

The ASUS MB168B+ (don't forget the plus) has a great screen resolution but per reviews I won't be able to use it without external power. I was torn -- maybe there would be a way to monkey with brightness settings and get it to work. But the carrying case for it was also not good and lots of folks complain about the stand and it is the most expensive of the items.

I considered the 17 inch AOC E1759FWU that has pretty good screen resolution (1600x900) but again reviews identified the issue with power.

I also considered HP's S140u but I am also concerned that the 7 W maximum power won't work and I could find many reviews, and certainly none where it was paired with the Surface Pro 3.

So I decided that I would try the 16 inch AOC E1659FWU -- I can get a second screen with pretty decent response rate that should (most reviews have said it worked) for my power constraints with the Surface Pro 3. It includes a good case and great stand and is only a little more expensive than its predecessor the AOC E1649FWU.

When all is said and done I may decide that the external power isn't as much of a constraint and go for the ASUS MB168B+ (also need to get a better stand, but that means yet more stuff to carry).

So for now I am looking forward to the arrival of the 16 inch AOC E1659FWU.

3/17/15 update: Well the AOC E1659FWU is working well, my surface pro 3 can indeed drive the power requirements, which according to the manual is 8 W, whether plugged in or on battery. However, when I plug it in through my Belkin USB hub/Ethernet adapter it won't power up without getting extra power from the USB outlet on my surface charger. Whereas plugging into two of the ports on the Belkin USB hub doesn't do it. (the screen keeps flickering on and off)
Conclusion: If I need to plug in for Ethernet or any other USB device then I must plug in for external power. But the other day I got two good hours of using the surface and the AOC on battery power and still had battery to spare.

Update 8/17/2015
The AOC monitor is very fragile-- despite having it in the provided case inside a padded bag it fell 1.5 feet and the screen cracked. So I have switched back to using my iPad as second display when I am not at the office. But instead of TwoMonUSB I use DuetDisplay.

So how does it compare against my original specs:
Weight: Not weigh me down -- less than 4 lbs -- Check 1.3 lbs
Screen Resolution: Work well with surface -> 1440 x 1080 (if possible) Check I have 3 choices 1024x768, 1532x1152 or 2048x1532. (of course the last one gets hard to read) 
Power: hopefully it will be able to work without AC available -> less than 5W typical energy consumption Check of course  the iPad of course has its own battery
Size: Big enough to see the screen  >12 inches but not so  big I can't fit it in my bag <18 inches="" p="">not quite the iPad 2 has 9.7 inch display
Price: less than $300 USD check -- since I already had it -- otherwise no because it cost over $500 but today you could get a used one for less than $300.

Finally the iPad as you all know is an independent device so if I have some problem with the surface then I can use it to do something.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Escaping an AD Replication Island

On a dark and stormy night an Active Directory upgrade was underway, Windows Server 2003 domain controllers decommissioned, consolidated and replaced with Window Server 2008 R2 servers. Suddenly I got a call from those doing the upgrade, "I can't see some of the new domain controllers on the existing domain controllers, what's wrong?"

A replication island had been created and several domain controllers were trapped on it. Could we rescue them in time?

Normally AD automatically generates the replication topology. But if you turn that off then you must manually create connection objects between domain controllers. Even if that is enabled replication between sites does require site link objects to be created.

With the sites and site links in place and the Knowledge Consistency Checker (KCC) enabled for generating connection objects, the KCC will automatically generate connection objects between Domain Controllers in different sites (those servers are referred to as Bridgehead servers).  By default all site links are transitive. However, this is often turned off if some sites can't connect to others (routing or firewall configurations may be the cause, but it may be legit). However, site links still need to exist.

In this scenario they had the KCC enabled but site link transitivity was off. As domain controllers in several sites were decommissioned leaving some of the new sites with new domain controllers but without direct site links to sites that still had active domain controllers. As I mapped out the new topology I realized that an island had been created -- four of the new sites could talk to each other but not to the other 20 sites.

How to get off of the replication island?

Create Site links to connect the sites to each other! 

But when you create a site link it exists on that domain controller and needs to replicate to the other domain controllers. So how to get it to replicate when you need site links to replicate?   Talk about your chicken and egg problem!

RepAdmin to the rescue! With repadmin /replsingleobj you can force the replication of a single object to any other domain controller even if they aren't replication partners. So after creating the new site links I needed on one of the island domain controllers --  I forced replication among the domain controllers on the island so they all new about the new site link. But the rest of the enterprise still doesn't know so I ran repadmin /replsingleobj NonIslandDC IslandDC "CN=NewIPSITELINK,CN=IP,CN=Inter-Site Transports,CN=Sites,CN=Configuration,DC=MyDomain,DC=rootdomain"

Then I forced the replication from that domain controller to its partners and then forced the KCC to generate a new replication topology. The island was bridged.

The domain controllers were rescued!