After some help from Six Apart and some tweaking of my virtual directories I have upgraded the blog software to 3.2. As part of that upgrade I want to enable some of the new features. In the process some things may look funky and not work. Bear with me.
September 2005 Archives
Well this year apparently to go along with all the crime, law and hospital dramas it seems Sci-Fi shows have made a rebound. ABC has Invasion, CBS has Threshold and NBC has Surface. All three of these are alien based shows. FOX the past home of one of the longest running Sci-Fi shows the X-Files has no answer to these shows this year interestingly. One of the writers / producers of X-Files though is behind another Sci-Fi esque remake on ABC called Night Stalker. This fall should be interseting if you are a Sci-Fi fan. Hopefully not all of them crash and burn and ruin the possibility of future Sci-Fi shows.
I have watched the pilot episodes of the first three shows. Based on one episode I am giving Threshold the lead. The biggest thing it has going for it is the cast. It has Brent "Data" Spiner, Charles S. Dutton and Carla Gugino (not quite as hot as she was in Sin City). Second place would be surface, the first episode showed promise. Lastly is invasion, its pilot just didn't hit for me, may pick up though.
I watched the season premiere of Nip/Tuck and I found it interesting what they did with the commercial breaks. More than half the time was taken up by fall / holiday movie trailers. The trailers were the long form 2-3 minute type rather than the standard 30 second ones. I thought this was cool, I actually watched most of the trailers instead of using 30 sec skip through them all. It would be cool if some HD channels did this and showed HD trailers instead of commercials. People will watch what is on during the breaks if it is worth watching and they haven't seen it 100 times already.
Well today I joined the land of normalcy again. I had DirecTV installed. I called Tuesday night to schedule the install. It took 20 minutes or more to work through the details with the person on the phone. I told them I want 3 rooms and I wanted to get a HDTiVo. The DTV sales person seemed to understand and noted I would need a multiswitch. At the end he said he couldn't process the order for the HDTiVo and I had to call someone else. I decided I would just wait until I need it then. The appointment was set for 8 AM today.
As I figured the installer called while I was in shower. I called him back within 5 minutes so everything seemed cool. He showed up a 8 AM on the dot, which I was impressed by. He also was driving a van that was painted with DTV on it and looked very professional, as opposed to a Dodge Caravan with sticker on the side and ladder on roof. He came in and asked if I was pre-wired and I showed him. He allowed as I had made his job a bunch easier.
Then we went outside to look at the mounting location. He said it looked good and he would run 2 lines to house. I said you mean 4 right? He said nope 2, standard dish and 2x4 switch. At this point there was a problem. To get HD signals a Triple LNB dish is needed with 4 lines run to a 4x8 switch. He called his dispatcher or whatever and they said I would have to call DTV since it was "much more expensive." Both I and the installer knew that wasn't true. He pulled out the right dish and multi-switch and hooked me up.
He mounted the dish on the roof, ran the cables down the drain pipe and then through an existing hole in the wall. Very nicely done. We hooked up my labeled cables to the switch and then went up and tested. Signal levels were all around 94-96, very good. He called up DTV and activated the three boxes he brought. Everything was done in less than 90 minutes, could have been much worse.
While we were in basement he saw my old remote control cars. He told me had one too. Asked if I worked on them and I said I haven't in a while. As he was leaving he asked if I would fix his for him and honestly I said I wouldn't trust me working on it since it has been so long. He seemed to be cool with that answer.
After he left I called DTV to deactivate 2 of 3 boxes he activated and then add my SD TiVo and HD TiVo. Took a little while but seemed to work. DTV needs to get some better communication, but this was better than most installs I have heard about.
Backup, Backup, Backup
Ok computer storage devices fail, period end of thought. Before yours fail backup the stuff you care about. This can be anything from pictures to tax forms. I should know this by now since for almost 10 years I have been doing this for clients, somehow I keep thinking I am immune.
Some past stories.
Failed HD - Don't even remember the circumstances of this one. While in college my HD failed in my main desktop. I lost all my previously created documents. They are gone and will never come back. I had no backups.
Failed 1.3 GB SCSI drive - While living in Illinois I had a 1.3 GB SCSI drive that was progressively failing. It would work fine once started but would often not start properly on boot. I kept saying it will be fine as long as I don't power off machine. Well great until power went out. I hadn't copied any of the data off. I tried all sorts of fixes to get the data off. Finally I cracked the case and started the drive by using a power drill. I was able to copy the data off before the drive failed. In this case I was lucky, but I had warning and did nothing about it.
Failing 200 GB IDE drive - A few months ago the main storage drive in the hoyty.com server began having strange problems. It would work most of the time, but would occasionally have write errors. Knowing that a lot of my data and other people's only existed on this drive I actually did something about it. I ordered two new 250 GB SATA drives and a RAID-1 card. I copied all the data off to new array. This is not a perfect solution, in theory a fire could still destroy the data.
Failed 100 MB Zip Disk - I had been using a zip disk to store a few files just in case. It had things like 99-02 tax forms, my list of install codes and some excel files I put a lot of work into. I don't reboot my machine often so the fact that the drive had be flagged for chkdsk was not apparent. When I rebooted last Saturday windows ran CHKDSK on it. It was at this point I realized the disk was in bad shape. I tried CHKDSK a few times and nothing got better and possibly got worse. Then I purchased Spinrite 6 which I find out only works on HD. Then I bought Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery. It was able to scan the disk and found the original locations of the files. I told it to restore them. All except for two text files that were less than one sector big were useless. Basically I wasted many hours and lots of money and got nothing back. All because I used a crappy untested backup method.
Think about the data on your computers. Things like pictures, purchased download music, important documents. How much is preserving them worth to you. Enough to have a RAID array to store them on and make DVD or tape based backup. Can you reproduce them? Can you live without them? These are serious questions because computer storage fails. Nothing is foolproof but you can make yourself less vulnerable. Just ask how much is your data worth?
Well after many distractions such as work and illness I finished what I mentioned here. Today I spent another 4-5 hours pulling the wire down the wall in the living room and the cleaning up the run on the other end in basement. I then terminated, crimped and tested all six lines to make sure they were working. With this I am done with my planed upper floor data/satellite wiring. Tomorrow as a reward I will calling DirecTV to have them finally come out and install a dish. This way the contractor drone has to do nothing more than install dish and run wires to my distribution point. No make shift wiring around rooms since it is easier.
The only other thing remaining in upstairs wiring is to activate the one electrical circuit I have pulled. I may also pull another circuit, still debating that one. Hopefully I will get that done tomorrow as well. Once I do I can get rid of the extension cord running down my hallway. Yeah.
Many years ago a game called Railroad Tycoon game out. It was shortly followed by Rollercoaster Tycoon. Since then there have been many sequels to each. There have also been a tremendous number of similar tycoon like games letting you manage things such as zoos, hotels, lemonade stands and just about everything else.
Today though I read a review of Prision Tycoon? It looks just like the other tycoon games except instead of hearding animals you are herding inmates. Although it doesn't look like you get to do anything cool like in Face Off or No Escape. Even the makers of this game didn't think too highly of it since it came out with a $20 bargain bin / wal-mart friendly price.
Today I was reading last Sunday's Baltimore Sun and Washington Post (I get behind). There was a similar story in both that really bothered me. Let me just say I don't often if ever wish death on people and don't really even in this situation, but they did so I feel justified.
Apparently the week that Katrina and the flooding hit New Orleans there was to be a Gay/Lesbian festival or conference. The details weren't clear in the articles. Several religious groups are saying that Katrina was a message from god attempting to wipe out homosexuals. This is just unbelievable. In my mind talk like that is almost as bad as one religious group blowing up another since they don't agree with them.
I hope a house gets dropped on one of them by a tornado as a sign from god. Ignorant and insensitive people suck.
This week was the first week of school where I work. Usually the last week of August and first week of September are nuts for me. This year was different but not too much. I had hopes for this summer being easier since over 50% of our laptop/tablet fleet would be identical from a hardware/software platform. On top of that there were no major upgrades software wise. I litereally pulled down last year's image applied a year's worth of windows/office (now microsoft) updates and a few other updated software programs and I was done.
This gave me the hope that this summer I wouldn't be quite so freaked out. However I seemed to be more stressed and got less done for some reason. Part of it was outside of work, buying a new house. The other part was turnover inside of work. This summer we transitioned in a new laptop support person as well as a new technology teacher. Both have turned out better than I would have hoped, but there is still a learning curve.
I have high hopes for the year though. We don't have any major hardware issues looming. One big problem will hopefully be resolved in a month or so. The other we have a plan of action for. Both of these problems bother me usually more than others, since I take it personally when stuff doesn't work. Hard not to, it is my job afterall.
Karen just alerted me to the fact that it is past midnight, and thus it is my birthday. Tada.
At my work at school I have taken care of a great deal of the server related big problems. Things like why doesn't x run or why can't y connect. A lot of my time (when I get to do preventitive work on servers) is spent chasing down little problems. Tonights was why wouldn't our main file server properly register in DNS. This has been a problem in the back of my head for a while, it would pop up now and then when NetBIOS wouldn't work for some reason. It became a bigger issue for me becuase Vista (at least in its default config) doesn't do NetBIOS. This is great, but it meant I couldn't connect to our main file server since it wasn't registering in DNS.
Tonight as I sit here all out of whack sleep wise I decided to figure out why. It turns out that somehow the the default DNS domain didn't get set properly when I joined the AD domain. This meant the server was trying to regiset just server rather than server.site.org in DNS. This of course fails. I removed and rejoined the server to the domain and all is well now.
This problem has existed for over a year, but it was never big enough for me to sit and work on. This is where I am trying to get to at work. Finding the little stuff that may at some point be a big problem. A great deal of it is clearly marked as errors or warning in the Application or System log, just have to look and research. I just wonder how many of these little problems compound to be a hidden big problem.
Ok so gas prices have been going up fairly rapidly, especially in last week or so. Today was special though. When I left for work about 7 AM I saw premium gas prices ranging from 3.05 to 3.18. Right now Shell has .08 off on Thursdays so I was going to get gas on way home. I didn't leave work until about 11:30 PM though. As I was driving home the first price I saw was 3.79. Then shortly I saw 3.99. I was watching them as I went and they were as low as 3.25. I was hoping the Shell would still be open and a lower price. One was closed and had 3.37 up and another was closed and still had 3.09 up, I am sure both will change rapidly tomorrow. I finally found a BP open for 3.37 as well. I am just stunned by the .30-.80 rise in a single day, that is just amazing.