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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