Get a Dell Service Tag from the Command-Line

Hey, IT folks… how many times have you needed the service tag off a Dell computer but: a) the original image had been wiped, and the Dell Service Tag applet wasn’t re-installed; or b) you were remotely connected to a machine that didn’t have the applet for whatever reason; or c) there was a gigantic pile of papers, framed pictures, staplers, and other office paraphernalia that made moving the computer a big pain in the ass?

I used to use this trick on a regular basis a few years ago, but forgot about it until yesterday, when I needed the service tag off a Dell I was remotely connected to.

In Windows, open a command-prompt and type

wmic bios get serialnumber

In most flavors of Linux, you can type this at the command-line:

sudo dmidecode -s system-serial-number

Hope this helps!

The Optimal Amount of RAM

As an IT guy, I often have to deal with a group of folks I call “‘a little knowledge is dangerous’ users”. These folks usually know more than a typical user, but often don’t understand the complete picture. It’s common for them to have more than one anti-virus app on their system, or route their Internet connection through multiple firewalls “because security”. It’s common for these users to be set in their ways: they’ll jump through gigantic hoops to install WordPerfect 3.0 on their circa 2013 desktop because: a) they don’t like change; b) “I paid for this back in 1983, and don’t see any reason to pay again”; and\or c) they want to “stick it” to Bill Gates, even though Gates has little to do with Microsoft these days. They’re also the first to complain when the jiggery-pokery they did to install the ancient software – the registry edits, the hacked DLLs and Compatibility Mode tweaks – borks their system.

If you ask these folks to recommend a new computer, they’ll INSIST on one with 32GB of RAM for a long list of spurious reasons, like “you won’t need a pagefile!” or “you can make a RAM disk!” or, my personal favorite, “Windows memory management sucks” (because you, a real estate agent in Dallas, North Carolina, knows more about how memory works than Microsoft engineers. Sure.)

Well, the guys at TechSpot did a bunch of tests, and here are the results in black and white: for most people, in most circumstances, the optimal amount of RAM is 8GB. There are circumstances where 16GB is better, but they don’t come up often, not often enough to justify the expense of the additional 8GB of RAM. And, of course, virtualization is a different matter altogether: if you like running a bunch of virtual machines on your system, more RAM is absolutely better. But for most users, most of the time, 8GB is plenty. Click the link to find out why.