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© Rakhesh Sasidharan


More Random Thoughts…

Came across an old Bollywood song on radio today. Well not thaaaat old :) but old as in from my school/ college days. “Badi Mushkil Hai” by Abhijeet from the movie “Anjaam”. 

Whenever I think of my school/ college days I keep thinking they were much simpler and easier than now. I don’t want to sound like some old man reminiscing his past, nor am I a technology hater who wishes for the past when there were less technological advances etc; but those times just “feel” a lot better. Simpler music.  Simpler movies/ stories. Even when I was watching 11.22.63 and Maigret last weekend I had the same feeling – life just feels more complicated now. Like we are somehow out of touch with reality. 

I guess these thoughts are because of those two TV shows plus the fact that I am listening (audiobook) to a Raymond Chandler novel and before that to “Slaughter House 5” – all stuff from an older time, and especially two of them with lot of time travel references. Puts you in that frame of mind I think. 

I guess the past feels simpler because we had less choices then. Either coz there were only less choices, or we were only given less choices. The number of choices you have in school or college are less. Similarly the number of choices 20 years ago in terms of career or place or even stuff you can buy were less – so it just feels simpler that way. Plus societal ways too were limited. Relationships were more straightforward and simpler. Now we have a choice in everything. You can choose how you want your life to be, what you want to be, what you want to do, who you want to be with (not just in terms of “a person from the opposite sex” but even which sex you want to be with). There’s choices everywhere. Gives you more freedom but also gives an impression that the past was simpler. That’s what I think at least. 

“Anjaam” was a good movie by the way. Shah Rukh Khan had a lot of good movies in his initial days. I was a huge fan of this and his movies. I guess I am partial to the anti-hero sort of character. And nearly all these characters he portrayed had an intensity to them. His characters still have intensity – but back then (a) they weren’t just heroes like his characters now and (b) because they were quite negative the intensity gave them an edge. And many of his characters were the obsessive types. Flawed, one could say. I felt they were more in tune with reality. Real life does not have on screen hero characters. We are all flawed. Some just a lot more than others. Even the good characters he played (like in “Yes Boss”, a favorite) we different. You could relate to them. And they were flawed in their own way. 

Do the increased choices we have now reflect an increased free will? I don’t think so. I have been thinking of this too past few days. I think ever since I read “Slaughter House 5”. I liked all that was expressed there about time. They have been constantly in my head since then. I used to think of the past and choices as something I make, something I have control over. Now I think less so. Like Kurt Vonnegut wrote I feel it’s just a limitation of us now being able to see in the time dimension. Everything has already happened and will happen. To us it seems like it’s unfolding and we are making choices, but what if the choices have already been made (or rather, there is no choice to be made really) and we are just exactly where we have to be. Such a line of thinking does not make life any less worth living or exciting. We still don’t know what is going to happen – so that curiosity factor is still there. We just stop deluding ourselves that there’s some actual choosing we are doing. Yes, we make choices. Yes, we decide to do this or that. All that happens and all that will happen will continue as it always had – and it will appear that it’s a conscious decision from our side due to x, y, z reasons. None of that changes. What changes is wishful thinking that we could have made different choices or that our present could be different/ better. We are exactly where we have to be. Every one of us. It has all already happened. 

A cube is a cube to us because we can perceive three dimensions. If all we could perceive were two dimensions then it would be a square to us; and if all we could perceive were one dimension then it would be a line. But irrespective of what we can perceive the cube is always there. And it appears as a cube because three dimensions is all we can perceive. If we could perceive time too as a fourth dimension then the cube won’t appear like it does for us now. It would be something else altogether. And that object would be just as static as a cube does for us now. This structure will encapsulate the entirety of the choices the cube would have made in time – if it moved places for instance. That object is static. The cube’s journey is a tableau in that. From the cube’s point of view it made choices; but there really is nothing to choose. The 4D cube just exists and is there. 

Yeah I am taking gibberish I know. :o) Most of it doesn’t make concrete sense to me either. But I am fascinated by the alternate point of view that it’s all fixed/ pre-determined. That there really are no choices. That whatever is happening, happened, and will happen has all already happened. I am just a passenger going with the motions and making my choices. Sometimes I choose good, sometimes I screw up. Sometimes I am good. Sometimes (most times haha!) I am a screw up. But it has all already happened. 

Over and out!

Exchange DAG fails. Information Store service fails with error 2147221213.

Had an interesting issue at work today. When our Exchange servers (which are in a 2 node DAG) rebooted after patch weekend one of them had trouble starting the Information Store service. The System log had entries such as these (event ID 7024) –

The Microsoft Exchange Information Store service terminated with service-specific error %%-2147221213.

The Application log had entries such as these (event ID 5003) –

Unable to initialize the Information Store service because the clocks on the client and server are skewed. This may be caused by a time change either on the client or on the server, and may require a restart of that computer. Verify that your domain is correctly configured and  is currently online.

So it looked like time synchronization was an issue. Which is odd coz all our servers should be correctly syncing time from the Domain Controllers.

Our Exchange team fixed the issue by forcing a time sync from the DC –

I was curious as to why so went through the System logs in detail. What I saw a sequence of entries such as these –

Notice how time jumps ahead 13:21 when the OS starts to 13:27 suddenly, then jumps back to 13:22 when the Windows Time service starts and begins syncing time from my DC. It looked like this jump of 6 mins was confusing the Exchange services (understandably so). But why was this happening?

I checked the time configuration of the server –

Seems to be normal. It was set to pick time from the site DC via NTP (the first entry under TimeProviders) as well as from the ESXi host the VM is running on (the second entry – VM IC Time Provider). I didn’t think much of the second entry because I know all our VMs have the VMware Tools option to sync time from the host to VM unchecked (and I double checked it anyways).

Only one of the mailbox servers was having this jump though. The other mailbox server had a slight jump but not enough to cause any issues. While the problem server had a jump of 6 mins, the ok server had a jump of a few seconds.

I thought to check the ESXi hosts of both VMs anyways. Yes, they are not set to sync time from the host, but let’s double check the host times anyways. And bingo! turns out the ESXi hosts have NTP turned off and hence varying times. The host with the problem server was about 6 mins ahead in terms of time from the DC, while the host with the ok server was about a minute or less ahead – too coincidental to match the time jumps of the VMs!

So it looked like the Exchange servers were syncing time from the ESXi hosts even though I thought they were not supposed to. I read a bit more about this and realized my understanding of host-VM time sync was wrong (at least with VMware). When you tick/ untick the option to synchronize VM time with ESX host, all you are controlling is a periodic synchronization from host to VM. This does not control other scenarios where a VM could synchronize time with the host – such as when it moves to a different host via vMotion, has a snapshot taken, is restored from a snapshot, disk is shrinked, or (tada!) when the VMware Tools service is restarted (like when the VM is rebooted, as was the case here). Interesting.

So that explains what was happening here. When the problem server was rebooted it synced time with the ESXi host, which was 6 mins ahead of the domain time. This was before the Windows Time service kicked in. Once the Windows Time service started, it noticed the incorrect time and set it correct. This time jump confused Exchange – am thinking it didn’t confuse Exchange directly, rather one of the AD services running on the server most likely, and due to this the Information Store is unable to start.

The fix for this is to either disable VMs from synchronizing time from the ESXi host or setup NTP on all the ESXi hosts so they have the correct time going forward. I decided to go ahead with the latter.

Update: Found this and this blog post. They have more screenshots and a better explanation, so worth checking out. :)