Monday, December 21, 2009

MSDN & Microsoft Licensing - Clear and Present Danger

Recently, Microsoft decided to alter it's licensing portal and Woe-Be-To-The Administrator who must wade through it.

I have been trying, unsuccessfully, for the past 2 business days to 'talk' with anyone in the Volume licensing department to activate my MSDN subscription.  How Frustrating! 

I called on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 and was told that their licensing site was offline for maintenance/upgrades and the person on the phone could not help me because their backend server was offline.  The system was supposed to return to production on December 17, 2009, but I was advised to not call on the 17th... and wait until the 18th.

So I did as instructed - what did I get for my trouble?
Thank you for calling. Due to high call volume, we are unable to answer you call at this time. Please try again at another time.

I hope to break through the Call Center hell shortly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

AT&T Living in Fantasyland, de la Vega is acting like the King of Fools

This is adding fuel to the fire for current AT&T customers seeking to jump ship.  I am a long term Apple Fanatic and think the iPhone is a game altering communication device.  However my view on the technology, the serviceability and network the iPhone are tethered too, suck!

I have been an AT&T customer for about 9 or 10 years and truly think they were the bees-knees.  The roll-over minutes that I could pool and use were awesome (no other domestic carrier has those).  Their phone selection was always top notch. 

When the iPhone 2G came out, I was the first in line... OK - not the first...I was the 60th person in line and was an 'early adopter'.  I had no problems at all with my 2G.  Then about 17 months later, I dropped my phone from a height of 6 feet and cracked the screen (in the corner) and broke the vibrate function.  Time to upgrade.  I waffled for a bit trying other phones from AT&T and found that the iPhone 3G would be the best fit.  So I got that in December 08.   Our relationship started out good enough.  I got all my apps and tunes transferred over and it literally stepped right into the role of my 2G phone. 

But the honeymoon was drawing to a close as I started feeling the shortcomings of the service and the phone.  I experienced signal loss and data drops... occasionally a complete lack of network responsiveness from the phone (either the phone OS or the network) which required hard boots to restart.  The battery life of the 3G was (in my opinion) worse than that of the 2G.

Now comes today - to add fuel to this already burning conflagration.  AT&T announces (to paraphrase) that we are all idiots and as such we will be charged for our data usage now on our phones.  Ralph de la vega (in a MacWorld article) stated that "We need to educate the customer..." and that "We've got to get them to understand what represents a megabyte of data.  We're improving all our systems to let consumers get real-time information on their data usage." 

What does this mean?  AT&T is going to start charging us for data usage on our iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS phones to help 'Protect AT&T's Network'.  How shitty can you get?  Forget ever thinking about TETHERING your device now... If AT&T is going to CHARGE it's users on unlimited data plans, their is no way TETHERING is going to be a feasible option.

This is what I have been railing against for the past year.  AT&T appears to not have the capacity to handle the popularity of the iPhone device.  The iPhone is a truly game-changing personal data assistant - it is a computer.  The problem is that AT&T did not anticipate the popularity and wide-spread usage of such a device.  The 3G/3GS are causing other network disruptions on the AT&T network, and this is why they want to change our 'unlimited' data plans to something more crippling while still giving them a better bottom line.

NOTE TO APPLE:  Get off your butts and get with Verizon! 

I, for one, will not put up with the Gestapo like customer service of AT&T much longer.  You network has been horrible for me over the past year... and now you are blaming me for it.  Nice.

NOTE TO AT&T: I have a new Verizon phone... ready to activate and I think I will pull that trigger today.

What a sad day for Apple (who will lose customers over this) and AT&T (who deserves to lose customers over this).


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Parallels, Et Tu?

What is Bill bitching about today? 
  • Politics? NO
  • Economy? NO
  • Sports? NO
  • Technology? Maybe
I use a Mac - you know that.  I also have need to get into Windows occasionally which I have found very huge returns on my investment with Parallels.  Recently, my job has called for the usage of VMWare, both from a Workstation perspective and a ESX perspective, so I acquired the VMWare Fusion 1.x and have kept it up-to-date.  I am now up to 3.0 (released last week).

Now my gripe!

Why is it that the upgrade to VMWare Fusion 3.0 was 39.99 and the Parallels is 49.99 - that is it.  A bitch session over $10.00.

My existing Parallels works fine in Snow Leopard (NOTE TO DEVELOPER:  If you product works in one O.S., don't market that as selling point for next version of product).

Why should I spend $50.00 on an upgrade that will give me:
  • Aero enhancements
  • Windows 7 Compatibility
  • DirectX 9c shaders
Ah... who am I kidding - I will probably buy it just to buy it.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Slapconfig, MacOSX Leopard Server and Frustration!

For the past several years, I have been the admin of my children's school, which subscribes to the Apple model of one-to-one and employs X-Servers as their infrastructure model of choice.  While I think the Mac OS client is an awesome platform full of features and functions, I also find that the tapestry of technical prowess required to circumnavigate around an Open Directory implementation is known to a few key architects at Apple and no one else.  Open Directory has got to be one of the most fragile and complex beasts known to man - (note to Apple: Simplify it, make it work, then add features).

It goes beyond frustration that I have a brand new 10.5 server (patched to 10.5.8) as an Open Directory Master, but for the life of me, cannot create a replica on another system (also 10.5.8).

After much splunking and searching, I have determined that the error lies within the launchd process that is not being elevated enough to run the slapconfig utility properly.  Why?  Don't know.

I try to run the GUI application to promote a system to replica and I am greeted with an 1077 error (which relates to an incorrect Directory Administrator User and Password issue).  I have changed my diradmin user and password about 2 dozen times and nothing suffices.

The username/password combo I am employing works from Workgroup Manager just fine. 

So I dug a lot deeper and found that during the process, I get two SSHD error logs on my master server:       (0x10fa90.sshd[1237]) Could not setup Mach task special port 9: (os/kern) no access

Hmmm....  So I then, from the 'replica-to-be' run the command line version for creating the replica:

slapconfig -createreplica servername diradminname

and it asks me for my root password and I enter it - it works, then it gets to the part where it wants the Directory Admin password and then it part of the replica initiation process re-runs the slapconfig process with a -checkmaster and the parameters I just specified.... and it fails with a:

Error: Incorrect username or password. You must enter a directory administrator username and password. (errror=77)

But the combination I am using, does work.

Still working on it...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New iMac 21.5" and Apple Store Experience

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have been using a Macintosh computer since the late 80's.  I love it.  Just something great about the innovations and the revolutionary enhancements that Apple has made to the computer industry in general.  They, as most companies do, have their great poignant moments inter-mixed with their dark times.  The Scully era or the Amelio era. Pick which one and you are probably sitting on one side of the fence or the other as a Mac historian. 

This is not the reason for my posting today.  Today, I have replaced my Intel Core Duo 2.0 GHz iMac with the new iMac 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo system.  State of the art in Macintosh technology.  Why?  Several reasons, the biggest being that I had need for the more horsepower, RAM upgrades for my new Photoshop CS4 work. 

So I made the journey down to the local Apple Store and walked into what can only be described as a packed kiosk full of pre-pubescent windows shoppers and iPod toting persons.  I walked over the iMac display, looked at the new model and decided that it would fit fairly well on my desk.  My kids gravitated towards the iPods and iTouches and played with them.  I followed suit, shortly thereafter, and was greeted by an Apple representative, who could not have been more than 22 years of age?!

Apple Rep: Hi Sir, Can I help you with anything today?
Me: Why yes, I want to pick up your new 21" iMac
Apple Rep: Oh, you mean the 21.5" iMac

NOTE:  Never-ever correct the customer, especially on something so inane or bullshit-worthy as one half a fucking inch

Me: Yes, that is the one

We then talked about which model of the 21.5 inch iMac I wanted.  He retired to the back to search for one in his inventory and I meanwhile fumed at the audacity of the twenty-somethings technical ability.  He returned with my prize and I informed him that I would be seeking my educator discount as I am in the employ of a local school in Almaden Area (of which I will leave nameless here).  He said that this was great and informed me that he thought the benefit would be $50.00 and I informed him that I thought it was $100.00 (of which I already researched a dozen times over).

Ultimately, I won out and left with my new Aluminum prize lugged between me and my kids and quickly set it up at home, ripping out my old system (of which I will put up on Craigslist, to offset this purchase).

I type upon it now.  It is a smaller screen, as I was typing on a 27" Dell Monitor, but the colors are richer and clearer and it isn't so imposing upon my desk.  The Magic Mouse is also pretty cool - I will blog about that later!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

W00TSTOCK 2009! Come and Get Your Geek On!

I just signed up to attend the v1.0 geek fest called w00tstock! that will be held in San Francisco in October 2009!

In attendance will be Adam Savage (from MythBusters), Wil Wheaton (from "Stand By Me", "Star Trek:TNG" fame) who is a phenomenal writer, speaker and actor (just in Leverage on TNT) and Paul and Storm (music, comedy act).

Click on the IIMAGE above to be taken to Paul and Storm's page where you can get more information and purchase tickets!



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Friday, August 28, 2009

Snow Leopard - Best Upgrade 2009, by far!

As software upgrades go, Apple usually has some pretty good ones.  But I just got through running my iMac 2.0 GHz (2 GB RAM, 1 TB HD) through some tests and so far, so good.  The system seems to be a bit peppier and I am getting used to the very subtle visual enhancements to the system.  Most of my daily apps are working (Adium, Safari, iTunes, Mail, CORD) fine with no issues. 

I called in advance to my local Apple retailer and inquired if they would indeed have the software in the A.M. (10 AM to be exact) or if they expected delivery that day at some point.  I was overjoyed to hear that they would indeed have the software in store at 10 AM when the security gate rolled up.

Well, I did not disappoint them and was there promptly at 9:58 AM and was the 2nd of about 12 geeks that filed into the Apple Store to purchase our software gold from that lucky Apple Store Representative.  Anyway, I purchased the 49.99 Family Pack (good for 5 upgrades) and a single 29.99 pack for a friend at work (Hi Gayle) and raced up Highway 17 to my job in Scotts Valley where I plunked myself down, popped in my new Snow Leopard graced DVD into my new 13" MacBook Pro laptop and sped my way towards 64 bit nirvana.

1 1/2 hours later (and two reboots), the system returned with all my current apps and preferences and desktop settings intact.  All was good in Smallville. 

One gotcha, which got me was that part of the upgrade was the removal of the Mac Server 10.5 tools - apple doesn't see fit to 'check' if you have the 10.5 and simply install the 10.6 - why they hell would they do that?  So I had to go splunk the Apple Download site to find the 10.6 utilities and install, but I could not find them anywhere - they simply were not there.  So for the time being, I would have to use Remote Desktop to administer my server(s). 

But by Midnight when I checked again, the tools where there and I downloaded them and installed and I seem to be right where I was yesterday - with a happy, stable, robust Mac. 

Today... is going to be a good day.  When I uncover more items in S.L. 10.6, I will blog about them.


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Monday, August 24, 2009

Massive Dissapointment in Vista R2 (aka Windows 7)

So, I just finished installing the RTM (release to manufacturer) candidate of Windows 7.0 and I have to say... I am burning my ISO for Windows Media Center 2005 and prepping to return to XP.

Let's be real - Microsoft just cannot seem to get it right in my book.  It took me 2 hours to start the installation because the DVD was not being read on boot up?  In fact, it would get to the INSTALL WINDOWS button and it would go through loading some drivers and then it would complain that it could not find the DVD and I needed to load the driver.  TOO FRIGGIN' CRYPTIC, Microsoft!  How about the old error of "cannot load dll e:\windows\inf\driver\etc.etc.etc" instead of "Cannot load DVD drive, please put in driver diskette".  I had to Google that a few times and peruse some sites to find the answer - what was the answer?  Put the DVD in my 2nd drive and re-start - it worked that time (might be an indication of a failing primary DVD drive on my computer... but I am not thinking that is correct.

There are some cool things with Windows 7 and some things that are really bad.  The new themes and restyled aero interface are alright. But I found that I could no longer get into the CLASSIC control panel without some tweaks (no longer a link that said SWITCH TO CLASSIC MODE).  I also found the underpinnings for Vista to be more of a hindrance to the OS than a benefit - it still felt like VISTA - no doubt.

In several days, Mac OS X 10.6 comes out... and the thing I like about Apple Macintosh computers?  They just work.  It really is that simple - they just work!  I know for a fact that all my drivers that I have been using for my applications and my printers and peripherals will be working in Mac OS 10.6.  But I guess that is what you get when you monopolize the hardware for the software.  But we are not ranting against Apple, today.  It is Vista 7, or Vista R2 or Windows 7 - whatever the hell you want to call it.

I liked 95 - it was huge jump from Windows 3.1.  The next jump to 98 was more of an incremental.  It was the push to Windows 2000 became a huge jump again.  The XP stuff was a further refinement of 2000 with some additional functionality.  XP has just been solid - that is what you get with a baked operating system.  Good Stability. 

I don't know what the future holds for Apple and Snow Leopard, but 10 ways to 1, I am betting that Snow Leopard will further solidify Apple's stranglehold on Microsoft and lay further inroads into the Enterprise; while Vista R2 (aka Windows 7) will just create more and more angry converts.

So sad...

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Foundation Laid Today - 3 TB NAS

I started to lay the foundation today for a 3 TB, RAID 5 based NAS with iSCSI support expand the Teeple Network home server farm.

I just upgraded my server and found that my RAID 1, based 1 TB solution, while effective, is running out of disk space quickly. 

So, off to Newegg.COM to purchase a PCI 4SATA II controller and Amazon.COM to purchase 2 1 TB 7200 RPM disks (to supplement my existing 2, 1 TB disks) to eventually create a unified 3 TB, RAID 5 based system. 

Haven't decided if I will use OPENFILER distribution, ESX 4.0 or LINUX as the foundation yet.

I am leaning towards LINUX only because I can add a component here and there to make the system do 'other' functions.

I will keep you in the loop!


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Saturday, June 27, 2009

SPACE ACE: Now for the iPhone

It was the summer of 1984 and new video game company was making its mark with the release of two revolutionary games with a different type of graphical game play: Laser Discs.  For those too young to remember what the heck a LASER DISC was/is, just think of it as the grandfather of the modern day DVD disk - looks like a DVD disc but about the size of a vinyl record.

The name of that video game company?  Don Bluth Studios.  Yes, the very same Don Bluth Studios that made his beginning mark with Walt Disney company and then broke out solo with his own company and did some other full feature length projects like The Secret of NIMH (one of my favorites) and also went on to create An American Tail, The Land Before Time, All Dogs Go to Heaven, etc.

The name of the game?  Space Ace.  Space Ace is the story of Dexter (who can transform with an energy power-up to become Space Ace) who seeks to rescue the damsel, Kimberly, from the evil character, called Borf. 

What makes this game so cool?  Don Bluth Studios had this idea of immersing the patron into this story using cell animation artwork and decision trees.  You are presented with a video of a scene unfolding and while the scene is unfolding a decision has to be reached and your reaction time and decision decide on which way the story goes and how successful Ace is during the scene.  For instance - Ace could be running away from a group of angry aliens and the game presents you with Ace running through a hallway, and at the end of that hallway are two doors - one to the left and the other to the right.  During the scene, both doors will flash, signifying that a decision must be made - and if you choose the LEFT door the scene would progress further, but if you chose the RIGHT door and Ace took it, there might be another alien behind that door or that door might be locked or something and the scene would end, and you would lose one of your lives and have to replay the scene again, until you get it right.

What was so revolutionary about that?  The graphics.  Remember - we are in 1984 and games to this point are LED lines and simple 8 bit characterizations of entities - Defender, Pac Man, Donkey Kong, etc.  Simple game visualizations with more complex game mechanics.

Donkey Kong, 1981

Space Ace, 1984

Space Ace was starting a whole new revolution in game play. Needless to say, at age 10-12, I wasted many a quarters on Space Ace and Dragon's Lair (same game maker and cell animated artwork).  I used to ride my bike over to the local video arcade in San Jose - The Galactigan (I think was the name - but I cannot find any Internet reference to it) and plunk down many of my quarters on this game.  My mother would have a fit when she found out that my brother and I visited the local arcade.  She was constantly watching out for us to ensure we were staying away the 'drug-pushers' and low lifes found within' the confines of her stereotyped view of a video arcade.  Of course, Dungeons and Dragons was also viewed as the Devil's Game also - but I am a super fan of that type of game  play. 

Video Arcades aren't what they used to be, given the current state of games - I can see pretty good graphics and game play without ever having to leave my home.  The whole social aspect of and meaning behind a good romp at the local video arcade are lost to an entire generation of PSP, DS and Wii users (and X-Box, PS2/PS3 fans, too).

Now, the game is available for my iPhone - and for a measly $5.00.  How extraordinary is that? A quality stroll down the nostalgia video arcade of the 80's, sans the evil connotations associated with that journey.  Well - I certainly won't disappoint my nostalgia itch, for a mere $5.00.  It appears that I will indeed be plunking down another 20 or so quarters... on this game, once again.  Don't worry Mom - this time, we don't have to worry about drug dealers or nefarious evil doers, unless of course we are referring to Borf, when I kick his ass in the game!

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Monday, June 8, 2009

AT&T - Continually chipping away at my loyalty

Keynote address just completed at the Moscone Center and Apple introduced some cool new things.  I am a big believer in the iPhone and love the technology. 

Imagine my surprise when the iPhone 3GS was announced - OK - I wasn't that surprised - there was wide-spread speculation on the Internet about the release of a new iPhone.  But some of the features are pretty cool.

So - what the heck - let's upgrade.  Following the keynote, dashed off to a browser to the Apple Store and put an iPhone 3GS in my shopping cart.  Went to check my plan from AT&T  for upgrade options... and... AT&T returned with NO OPTIONS but full retail price.

Now, I understand all the underwriting and 2 year contracts and all that crap from AT&T, but I have been a loyal user of AT&T since 1998 - over 11 years - and I would have to pay:

  • $599.00 for the 16 GB version

  • $699.00 for the 32 GB version

Hey AT&T - go F'  yourselves.  I don't think so.  I just purchased my iPhone 3G in December - I will milk it for the next year... then maybe Apple will partner with Verizon or Sprint and the iPhone will be issued on their networks - I got no problem jumping this ship... You can either keep me at my 90/month for the next several years, or lose me and I will pay the $150.00 disconnect fee... 2 months worth...  no problem!

Listen to the people.


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

True Measure of Geeks - What does it take to be a Geek?

Most of you know that I am HUGE fan of Wil Wheaton, not only because of his early movies and television appearances (hello, people - Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation), but because he is almost the unofficial spokesperson for GEEKS everywhere.  Not one of the NEO-GEEKS who have recently embraced technologies like Twitter and Facebook who now think they are part of the mainstream group of geeks, but a tried-and-true geek from the old days.  Ostracized as children and teens by their peers only to find they were part of a sub-culture of people struggling against the Bolsheviks of teen-hood.

Wil recently partook in a video on being GEEKS that unfortunately took a turn for the worse from conception to development and the end product was less than what Wil expected. 

Anyway, here is the video.

Here is Wil's blog on the video.

Here is my response to Wil's blog:

Good article Wil,

I agree with you on all parts. I am 37, spent most of my childhood and teen life being ostracized for my culture, my personality, my likings. I was not a jock, nor one of the cool kids. At a point in life when being a GEEK or NERD was a counter-culture you were thrust into un-willingly but came to accept and embrace as your own as you found that it worked for you.

To embrace the other side and fit in with the Ken and Barbies of the world meant to conform and become part of the mainstream. This is not the definition of GEEK.

Before we had a real definition and embracing, we were mocked and bullied for our ideals. I, thankfully, stood at 6' 2" during high school and was a very tall GEEK who because of my stature, thankfully, had something going for me in the realm of intimidation which kept my harassment down to mostly verbal and very little physical.

Nonetheless, I seriously doubt the likes of Shaquille O. and most of those other 'stars' within the video had to endure such dissings growing up.

I also like what Wyldfire42 said about (and I paraphrase) not deciding or passing judgment on these individuals because then we create this exclusionary group.

But we should also maintain and protect our identity to a degree. We earned our badges of honor with harassment and humiliation. While the cool kids were invited to drinking parties and after football game events, I spent my Saturday nights, holed up at a friends house, planning adventures and campaigns or rolling characters and developing skills. We traded comic books and talked about super powers and some of us (this author not withstanding) played with G.I. Joe well into the 8th grade (sad, I know).

I think we should embrace those who want to join and become part of our culture and educate them on what it means to truly be a geek. They may or may not find this culture to their liking and the wave of neo-geeks will pass us by and we will be left with our culture again. Then again - maybe this is where everyone gravitates towards. *SIGH*

My two cents.
Bill Teeple
San Jose, CA

My Blog, My Two Cents.


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Monday, May 4, 2009

Blackberry Curve Outsells Apple iPhone - BFD!

In a news article spawned here: many agencies are following up with news stories that the Blackberry Curve has taken over as the top selling phone during the 1st quarter of 2009.  What does this mean?  Should I sell my APPLE STOCK?  Should I go and pick up that Windows Mobile Device and place my 7 iPods, 2 iPhones, Apple TV and my Apple computers on CRAIGSLIST?


It means nothing.  Blackberry has had a huge campaign where it is Buy One - Get One  Free.  My brother took advantage of this offer and bought himself and his wife a blackberry curve - what is it they do for a living, you might inquire?  Auto-Mechanic and Nurse, respectively.  WTF?  That is a lot of fire-power for my sibling and a good chunk of change per month.  But that is what the Cell Phone Industry is doing - marketing towards John Q. Public and their spouse.  

Not only did Blackberry (R.I.M. based) off a viral sell on their devices, but their devices can be found on all the major carriers networks - AT&T, Verizon, Spring, T-Mobile!  How many networks have the Apple iPhone - ONE! AT&T is the sole provider of the Apple iPhone.

So  - let's put this into perspective - Apple, limited to 1 phone offer (no, buy one, get one free), is limited to one provider and has been kicking R.I.M.'s ass until the 1st quarter of 2009.  Not really a great comparison of Apples to Apples (major pun intended).

I have tried all major carriers devices and keep navigating back towards the iPhone - simply the best phone on the market right now.  With iPhone OS 3.0 due in another 2 months... it will surely top the charts with all those 'extra' features that really should have been included in OS 1.0. 

Keep it going, Apple.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

My PS3 Has Died - Long Live the PS3!

After 1 year and 8 months of dependable service, my poor 60 GB PS3 has decided... it doesn't want to read discs anymore.  No DVD's, no PS2 games, no PS3 games and certainly no Blu-Ray discs.  I am SCREWED!

I paid 499.00 for the device back in 2007, from Best Buy, and fortunately for me, I purchased the 2 year extended warranty!  YEAH!  What the hell is the bad news?  Well, for those of you in the know, you understand my apprehension at taking Best Buy up on their offer of PRODUCT REPLACEMENT!!!  Why?  Because the only comprable unit on the market today is the 80 GB version of the PS3 which is a totally CRIPPLED system, in my opinion.

Sony fucked themselves by releasing the PS3 80 GB version.  Some Executive D-Bag sat at his desk and said... how can we remove key features and architecture from the PS3 and yet still call it an 'upgrade' and market it to everyone?  I know, let's add 20 GB's more hard disk space when we remove all those perks? PERKS?  What perks you might be asking?  Here is the list of the items I LOST when I went to the newer 80 GB PS3 system:

  • Lost 2 USB ports on the front of the unit (there are only 2 standard now)

  • Lost my 8-in-1 media card ports for flash memory reading

  • Lost my special onboard chip to play PS2 games (of which I have about a dozen)

  • BUT I GAINED 20 GB's of disk space!!!!

Sorry, SONY, but I hardly call this unit anything other than a supreme let down and disappointment.  Had it not been for the Blu-Ray, I would be an XBOX 360 user right now.  Next time you all decide to remove the IMPORTANT hardware - why don't you consult your user base.  What a bunch of shmucks!

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Monday, April 6, 2009

I.T. Nomadic Adventures

Well - I lasted 5 months at my current job working as the I.T. Manager for Proteus Biomedical in Redwood City, CA.  Why the change?  The commute demanded too much of my personal time and in order to bypass most of the commute, I ended up downshifting my hours starting at 7 AM and going until around 3:30/4:00 PM and then huffing it home.  A standard work day (including driving) became this 11 hour monster.  I am used to 8-9 hours.  By changing jobs, for more money no less, allows me to return to my normal working schedule, return to an environment I am fairly knowledgeable in and be able to work with some people I have worked with in the past.

Where am I going?  Virtual Instruments.  Check them out!

More to follow!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stay Away: IE 8

OK – with very little fanfare and even less enthusiasm from the populace at hand, Microsoft released IE 8.0.  I should say UNLEASHED, instead of RELEASED.  What a poor implementation of a browser.  It is almost as if with each subsequent release of the software, it gets a little poorer and a little harder to use.  We install it, because it is thrust upon us, and we start using it with its faults and we get ‘used’ to those faults, so when the next version comes out, we hope that it will be better and take the plunge, only to find the cycle has started over again.

I installed IE 8 on my laptop and my home system (both Vista, SP1) and found that my browsing experience has slowed to a crawl.

Not only that, bringing up ‘simple’ web pages now initiates this thing called COMPATIBILITY MODE – what the hell is that?! When I mean ‘simple’ web page, I mean MRTG based page – some text, and a couple of static graphics that auto-refresh.  No Java Script, nothing of the sort.

And if I wasn’t in COMPATIBILITY MODE, my images would break and all this shit would happen.  CRAPPY!

I uninstalled it – packed it away and went back to IE 7. 

To add ‘insult’ to injury – just try finding the UNINSTALL function for IE 8 on Vista – doesn’t exist – there is no UNINSTALL feature – you have to download a utility from Microsoft to uninstall IE 8.  Ummm, don’t look now, but I think that violates the Microsoft clause on software that is ‘designed for Windows XP’ where it says an application must have an entry in ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS. 


Do not install IE 8 – Wait for Firefox 4 or Safari 4 or whatever!


Friday, March 20, 2009

A Tribute to Battlestar Gallactica

Tonight ended a 4 season run of the definitive Sci-Fi series to grace television for the past 10-15 years.   From the onset of the series, it gripped and moved me, both from a nostalgic sense to it's contemporary take. 

The story of man vs. machine.  The utter brutality of surviving against overwhelming odds and the stories of the people, both good and bad playing out like some celestial orchestra or opera.  I am a huge Edward James Olmos fan and his Bill Adama is great.  Katee Sackhoff is not only hot and absolutely gorgeous, but she also has become the perfect STARBUCK - I didn't think a woman could be Starbuck, or Boomer. I was wrong - so wrong.

I am finishing up the final 2 hour series finale and I am sad.  Here it is, 7 minutes to the end.  Kudos to the writers for weaving such a tale over the past several years and bringing it all to a great ending.

What an ending - to finally cast off the chains of technology and luxury and find this perfect planet, unmolested and untouched by the greed and industrialization of man. 

I love the ending with the robots dancing to Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower".

Anyway - if any of the cast or crew of B.G. ever read this... Thanks!  Thank you for capturing my attention, weaving a great story and leaving me wanting more.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I am a geek, and I like it!

Hi.  My name is Bill... and I am a GEEK!

(Hi, Bill)

As of today, I have been a geek for 36 years, 353 days, 5 hours.  Well not quite that long, but I have been a uber-geek since about the 6th or 7th grade.  You remember me, right?  I was the guy in the glee club (it was termed choir, thankfully, to lessen the amount of beatings by the jocks). I was in the band? remember that too?  I played with G.I. Joe (Dutch, Snake-Eyes, Cobra Commander and Destro) and I even had the G.I. Joe Hovercraft (damn that was so cool).  I liked Star Wars, but was a huge fan (and still am) of anything Star Trek!

My best friend in Middle School was a guy named Greg Gierke - we played G.I. Joe together.  Unfortunately, I never really go into Dungeons and Dragons like some of my other friends.  I was introduced to it in the 6th grade and I fell in love right away.  Where else could I play a character in a fantastic world of fantasy, rolling dice for the outcome and enjoying good times with my friends.  I am still fascinated (to this day) with AD&D, Warhammer, and all sorts of board games.  I bought the first edition of World of Warcraft board game - still in it's cellophane wrapping, in my closet!  I am awaiting my son's further development to start to understand the wonderful world of RPG's.

But I took my love for gaming in the mid 80's and parlayed it into a love for computers and technology.  I am a super Apple Nut and have created for me a job that allows me to play with computers all day long and help companies develop into thriving I.T. organizations.  In less than 2 weeks, I turn 37.  I have three children, Andrew, Erica and Ryan.  I have a cat.  I have been happily married for 12 years and love my wife and her family very much.  But... I am still a kid inside. I know when I have responsibilities I need to take care of and I know when it is OK to have fun.

I like my life.  I like how I was raised.  I enjoy the many benefits of having such a blessed experience from God.  and... I am a geek!

I just ordered my AD&D 4E set of books (DM, Player's Handbook, vol. 2, Monster Manual and another book) and I may never play, or might not play for a few more years, but I enjoy having them, reading them and being swept away in the nostalgia of my early life.  Someday - I will play again and I hope that the experience is fun and memorable.

My son is too young to play, but someday - he will be just right and what adventures we shall have!


Monday, February 23, 2009

I.T. Quick Tip O-tha’ Day! – WSUS Move

Sometimes you just run out of disk space on your WSUS server and need to move your repository.  Run your Command Prompt (cmd.exe) application, change to the C:\Program Files\Update Services\Tools folder and run the following command:

wsusutil.exe movecontent <new drive and path> <logfile name>


wsusutil.exe movecontent d:\wsus_repository c:\movelogfile.txt


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Support DD-WRT Project - The Other White Meat!

It is really amazing how technologically dependent our lives have become.  Day in and day out, we are immersed within our digitally connected cocoons tapping out our thoughts, emotions, communiques with other cocoons, whether those other cocoons are friends, workers, enemies, or business acquaintances.

Most of us connect wirelessly and most of those, take the technology for granted.  It either came 'bundled' with their high speed ISP modem or people made the conscious decision and purchased their own modem.  If you fall into the second category of wireless modems/users, you should check out the following project: DD-WRT

What does DD-WRT do?  In a nutshell, the wireless modem you use has an operating system. It is a mini-computer that routes your traffic through it's wireless interface to your network.  It boots up when you plug it in, loads the OS and runs your packets.  Now what does DD-WRT do that is better than your 'stock' wireless modem's operating system? 

The question really becomes - what DOESN'T it do?  The DD-WRT is a replacement of your stock FIRMWARE on your modem and it allows for really cool network enhancements and features that you would find on 500-800 dollar modem, like VLAN tagging, dual SSID broadcasting, SSH shell access to the modem.

Anyway - very cool project, full of geekdom - works best with LINKSYS/CISCO based wireless routers and is very robust!

Give it a shot!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Moment of Silence – For My Mac

Today, my tried and true, ole reliable Macbook 2.0 GHz laptop decided it had had enough of my philandering with LINUX/VISTA on my other laptop and scrambled some of the 0’s and 1’s on my hard drive, thereby enabling the spinning gray boot of death.

Now – I give Apple high marks in a lot of what they do and what they create, but one area they do not get KUDOS in  is their filesystem maintenance.  When a Mac crashes – it CRASHES! and crashes hard.  The SMART drive function has no errors – so I am guessing that the hardware is fine – what we have here is a failure of the OS to communicate with the rest of the system.

In the old days of Mac OS 8 and 9 we were plagued with B-TREE errors and extent issues.  What a pain in the ass all that was.  Now we have similar errors again and it is like 10 years later.  Let’s get a grip here – even 2000 and XP came up with NTFS which is a great filesystem and I am not knocking HFS+, but there has to be better recoverability from the OS so we aren’t left with gaping wholes in the security of our data!

Anyway – I tried Drive Genius 2 on it and it failed miserably.

Tried my new Techtool Pro 5 boot DVD – it also failed, miserably (that was a waste of money…)

Now I am target booting my Macbook, connected to my iMac and attempting a repair on the volume with Techtool Pro 4.0.  I will let you know what comes of it.

What a sad, sad day!

Looks like I picked a bad day to stop sniffing glue!


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kudo's to Apple, removing DRM - but sucks for me!

Why, you might ask?  Well, I have been using iTunes and purchasing from that fine institution since about 2003.  I have approximately 2,701 total songs (242 individual, and 149 albums) that are eligible for upgrading. 

An UPGRADE of my iTunes + account to make all my previous purchases NON-DRM would run me $548.93 - Ummmh, not worth it.

I don't or haven't had any need to use my music in anything other than my:

  • 1 GB iPod Shuffle

  • 4 GB iPod Nano (2nd Gen)

  • 8 GB iPod Nano (3rd Gen)

  • 16 GB iPod Nano (4th Gen)

  • 40 GB iPod Photo

  • 60 GB iPod Video

  • 160 GB iPod Classic

  • 8 GB iPhone 3G

  • 40 GB Apple TV

Yes - I know I have enough shit to choke a horse, but I really only use the 160 GB Classic (10%), 4th Gen iPod Nano (60%), and the Apple TV for music enjoyment so... All my stuff is Apple and legal anyway!

I am glad they finally have gone NON-DRM, but I am not worried about my old stuff - What do I want to see?

Musical Repository that multiple collections can see and 'UPDATE' automatically!  My music is already stored on a server, but it isn't worth spending 500 dollars to upgrade... not yet...

BTW - my music collection is now at:

  • 20,185 items

  • would play for 58 days, 22 minutes and 41 seconds if I started it today

  • and amounts to 91.26 GB's of space on my server (not including movies)


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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lament of a Systems Administrator

WARNING! - Start Bitch Session - WARNING!

You have been warned. 

Here I sit on a cold and crisp Saturday Afternoon, cleaning virus/spyware issue from my mother's computer.  WHY?  Because even though Microsoft makes a really functional Operating system, they continuously find themselves at the heart of malicious attacks and badly written code.  Coupled with the end users ability to protect themselves, we find that the Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware industries are staples and highly lucrative, both for the virus writers and the virus defenders. 

I ask myself, how would the Macintosh be faring right now, if it had the market share for years and years instead of Microsoft.  Or, LINUX if it took the place of Microsoft a few years ago as the dominant OS.

But - I also need to mention that I do not need more things to fill up my already valuable time.  People should understand the distinction for their local I.T. dude that what I enjoy doing as a hobby in my free time, doesn't and isn't what I enjoy doing for a living.  Let me give you a for instance;  Cleaning viruses off of a computer from my mom (sorry mom, you are the example today) takes a lot of time and energy on my part.  9/10, the cleaning doesn't take on a PC and the system needs to be rebuilt.  That process will take a good 3-4 hours depending on the system.  That is a lot of time devoted to a cause that:

  1. pays no money

  2. is 100% preventable to begin with

  3. frustrates the hell out of me, because of the cleverness of most virus/spywares

I love computers, but my love of the computer comes with the awesome ability it has to enhance my life and to extend it in new and different ways.  I am sitting here typing this (on a MAC, no less) while I am connected to my mother's home, 100 miles away in Modesto, CA via a VNC session to help cleanse her system of any 'issues'!  That alone is pretty cool, but with that power comes a great responsibility. 

I love creating things on the computer - a web page, a helpdesk portal.  I love installing systems and ensuring they are ready to go - new LINUX system, testing out new technologies.  I don't love cleaning up after other tech people.  I don't love cleaning up preventable issues like viruses and spyware. I don't love dealing with people who believe a computer should be more intelligent than the operator running the device.

A few rules of thumb to live by:

  • Don't open an attachment that ends in .ZIP, .EXE, .CMD, .SCR, .PIF or .LNK - Chances are it is bad!

  • Quit sending crap to your friends - like that funny joke you got at work, or that inspirational story from Jenny in accounting - no one gives a crap and the act of sending something like this helps lessen the defensive mechanism we have when 'receiving' things from people we know.  the problem with this, is that the more stuff I get from my friends, the less likely I am to think that the one particular 'spyware' I get from them next week is real and not something to be trashed.

  • If you don't have a good Spyware/Anti-Virus application - turn off your computer - call HOPE or Goodwill and donate your computer - you don't deserve it.  My wife works for Symantec, so I won't tell you that the 2009 software (NIS and AntiVirus versions) are phenomenal and really lightweight.  Any major manufacturer will work, like NOD, McAfee, Symantec - stay away from the others

  • If you use a MAC - don't think you are immune - get your AV program installed and protect yourself - as the MAC gains more market share, so too will it become prone to some nasty viruses.

  • Be careful of the sites you go to and who is using your system when you are not around - The first one is common sense - don't go to a REDLIGHT district and you won't get any diseases - any site that tells you that you will need 'their' software to run is full of shit.  You need Quicktime, Flash and maybe Java -- those are the big three - and Silverlight for those few Microsoft Flash want-to-be sites.  The second is more difficult to manage, because you might not be around to stop people from doing malicious things with your computer.  But, a lot of the time, a virus on a system comes from a secondary user and not a primary user.

  • When it comes down to it - be safe in what you do.  Your computer is only as safe as you allow it to be.  You do something dumb and your computer will simply take your commands, your input and process it.  When your system becomes unusable or unstable because of your actions and you take it down to the local Geek Squad or  your local Tech and he wants to charge you 4-5 hours worth of work at 75-100/hour, don't bitch.  It is your fault!  And no - it isn't cheaper to buy a new computer and call it a day - we don't throw away our cars when we spend 2,500 on a new motor!

As Forest Gump has said:

Stupid is as Stupid does. 

And... as Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (a.k.a. Michael Conrad) used to say: 

Let's Be Careful Out There

Anyway - my blog, my two cents!

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