Blog Archives

Got the Jetta

Last night we took a drive past Lakeland to pickup my Jetta.  We had put down some money on the car on Saturday so the seller would hold it for me.  I then got money from the bank on Monday to pay the rest of the cost of the car.  After a quick trip to WalMart (another story in itself), we went to pickup the car. 

Its really nice and in great shape, but I am going to have a mechanic check it over on Thursday just in case.  I’ll post some pictures soon…

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Looking at a Jetta

I spent a lot of my weekend looking at potential cars to repalce my Miata with.  I literally probably looked at hundreds of cars, listings and dealer websites in this area.  I found two Jettas that I really liked which are at a dealer, and several that looked/sounded ok from the ad that were for sale privately.  I am going to look at the better priced Jetta on Monday and see if it is as nice as the pictures and ad say it is.  If it is, I am going to see if they will let me take it home overnight and have it looked at by a local mechanic, since its used.  Hopefully I’ll be taking it home tonight and straight to a shop to be checked out.  If everything is good, I may have found my car!  It is super nice in the ad, the pictures look great, and its the highest end model they made in that year, has all the safety features and leather with tinted windows… I can’t wait to check it out in person.

The voice of practicality

Its taken me a while to get here, but I have something to admit.  It saddens me to say this, and I can’t believe I’m actually thinking about this.  Its like the voice of reason or practicality has broken thorugh my mentality about owning a 2 seater sports car in a family of 5.  Yes, you got it, I am thinking of selling my Miata and getting a more “family” oriented car.  I am NOT selling my Miata because I don’t like it, or I think there is anything bad about owning one, even in my family situation.  I just think it would be much more practical and convenient to have a 4 door family car.  I am definately going to miss the fun “zoom zoom” my Miata brought into my life.  Liz and I will both miss driving it, going on dates together in it, and all the other fun things we experienced with it. 

A few people who know me, know that I’ve had over 15 different vehicles in the last 12 years.  So I have a bit of a record of not sticking with something for long.  I assure you its not one of those “get a different car” itches.  The plan right now is to get something more comfortable for the family, something we can all fit in and go on a short trip without having to take the van.  It will be more economical, more practical, and will simply fit our family circumstances better than owning a 2 seater convertible. 

One day, when the kids are older, I will definately get another Miata, its just too much fun not to.  And for the people who scorn the Miata or men who drive them, all I can say is you must have never driven one.  Or at least never ridden in one with a driver who can handle the abilities of the car.  As for me, I’m sadly parting with my Miata, but will one day be driving one again. 

**UPDATE**

I was talking to my wife about cars and options for replacing the Miata.  My youngest daughter Abby said “Why does he want to get rid of it…I like the Miata”.  It breaks the heart!

Sansa to IPOD conversion

I have been using an 8GB Sandisk Sansa for my mobile media needs…that is up until last night.  I traded a new graphics tablet I bought at a CompUSA closeout for a 4GB IPOD nano with video.  At first I was going to give it to Liz, but after tinkering with it for a while I decided to keep the IPOD and give her the Sansa.  There are several reasons for this..

1. She won’t use the IPOD to its fullest extent (I will)
2. The Sansa has more storage space so she can put more photos on it and use it for client demos for her photography clients
3. I already have accessories she would need such as the carry case with clip so that she can take it with her more easily.
4. I would use the video playback more than she would.

So it worked out great for us both, she got a device she can use to store her favorite music, use in her photography business and its easily portable and easy to use.  Plus the Sansa has a built in FM radio so she can listen out and about. 

So now I have to convert all my WMA files to mp3, since some of them were DRM protected, I have to obtain the non-DRM protected versions so that I can import them into my itunes library.  I use both Rhapsody and Itunes now, I think Rhapsody has a nicer interface, but itunes is definately easier to get podcasts and audiobooks, etc. 

Vista SP1 removes search from start menu

I find this highly annoying as a user who frequently has to search for files.  It seems Microsoft removed the search button from the start menu in Vista SP1.  In my case, I couldn’t even use the (windows key + F) to launch the search dialog.  I had to search around and found this registry hack which restores search to the context menu when you right-click on a folder, adding “search” as an option.  This is the only way I can currently access windows search.  Use the following information to restore the search contact menu item…

Open Regedit and navigate to
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTDirectoryshellfind

Rename the REG_SZ: ‘LegacyDisable’ value to something else like, say, ‘LegacyDisablex’

Exit registry editor and try right-clicking on a folder. You will see that “Search” appears again. You can now use this to access the windows search application. I still can’t get search back in my start menu just yet, but a little more google searching and I’m sure I’ll find a solution.

FIOS customers – better DNS solution

If you have Verizon FIOS, and haven’t already customized your router to use better DNS Servers, do yourself a favor and do so asap.  By default Verizon uses “DNS assistance” on their *.*.*.12 DNS servers.  Set your router to use custom DNS servers and change the ending .12 to a .14.  Alternatively, using any of the other official Verizon DNS Servers in the range of 4.2.2.1 through 4.2.2.5 is also a good bet. 

If you don’t customize your DNS, the Verizon DNS assistance configuration can potentially cause issues for Tech Savy users who do VPN, host monitoring, etc.  You are also helping Verizon make more money by being served ads on their DNS assistance page. 

I came across this help link on the Verizon website that will guide you through changing your router config to optomize your DNS settings…

Mobile Music

I have never been willing to spend a large sum of money to purchase a mobile MP3 player such as the IPOD or similar.  But this past week I found a great deal on TigerDirect for a Sandisk Sansa 8GB player.  My gracious wife made no objections to me getting it, so I happily placed the order.  It arrived on my doorstep on Saturday afternoon in the mail, and I began goign through the options and setup.  I can play video, music, photo slideshows, FM radio and even use it as a voice recorder.  It works with Rhapsody which has recently become my favorite online music source.  I like ITunes too, but I find I use it more for podcast subscriptions than music, only because I don’t have an IPOD so its not as useful for me.  I spent a few hours this weekend searching for and adding new music to my new player.  I know I am years behind and people have been doing this for quite a while, but having a mobile music player and being able to sync playlists and media and take them with me anywhere, is really cool! 

Goodlink 5 deployment issue

I have been working on deploying multiple Goodlink 5 messaging servers recently, and came across a problem with the user migration feature in Goodlink 5.  Normally if you have more than one Good messaging server, you have the option to “change good messaging server” when you right-click on a user account.  So in my deployment when I didn’t see this option enabled, I had to call Goodlink support.  What I found out made sense, but is definately irritating. 

I called Goodlink support before deploying Goodlink version 5 to ask about deployment options and get some advice on my project.  I asked about the user migration feature and using multiple GoodAdmin mailboxes, and was told that it should work fine.  Now here is where the issue comes in.  In my deployment scenario, I wanted to deploy multiple individual Goodlink 5 servers in various locations/offices around the world.  The limitation here is network bandwidth and latency, due to the fact that the offices getting these Goodlink 5 servers are spread across the globe on various speed networks, and some of the offices in Asia for example, have very high network latency and bandwidth is limited.  To help with this situation, I asked if it would be advisable to use multiple GoodAdmin mailboxes, one for each new Goodlink 5 server, that way, each location that got a Goodlink 5 server and had a local Exchange server, would get its own GoodAdmin mailbox homed on the local Exchange server.  This would increase performance, reduce the time it takes to re-connect all the mailboxes in the event of a reboot, and provided a better solution for my deployment project. 

When you use a single consolidated GoodAdmin mailbox, and you have more than one Goodlink server which is connected to the network on a low bandwidth link or one that has high latency, it is a good idea to have separate GoodAdmin mailboxes, to keep network traffic local to the office in question.  Its faster, more reliable, and if the central Exchange server that houses the consolidated GoodAdmin mailbox were to go down, all your Good Messaging servers would be rendered useless until the Exchange server is back online and the GoodAdmin mailbox is available again. 

So my scenario of using more than a single consolidated GoodAdmin mailbox was a good idea, still works well and does help with performance and all the other reasons I mentioned above.  The drawback is that in this configuration, from within the Good Messaging console, you only see the server you are connected to under the “Good messaging servers” folder.  This also means that the “change good messaging server” option is grayed out and unavailable.  The fact is that the GoodAdmin mailbox is what keeps track of how many servers you have, but they all have to be configured to use the same GoodAdmin mailbox in order for the server to “know” about the other Good Messaging servers you have in your network.  This basically means that the user migration option is not going to work for us. 

This is not a problem, its just an inconvenience.  And it would have been nice to have known this initially when I talked with Good support eariler.  Lately no matter what company I deal with, I usually end up getting conflicting information about their products and features based on who you talk to.  The first time I call and get info on something, I hear one thing, then when I am working on the deployment and have a question or problem and call back, I hear something completely different.  This is irritating and can cause some major problems for large projects. 

Phone number normalization in OCS 2007

I ran into this issue with OCS 2007 and thought it might come in handy for someone in the future.  Lets say you deploy OCS 2007 in your environment, and in AD you use the phone number field for the office ext, and you want to keep that format.  Lets also assume you are noticing that if you use this configuration you end up with warnings in communicator saying it cannot synchronize the addressbook.  When you check the event log on your OCS server you see errors and warnings about the addressbook server.  You won’t find a service for this component (at least I couldn’t find it), it appears to be built-in to the OCS server software.  You also find a list of invalid AD phone numbers in your C:Program FilesMicrosoft Office Communications Server 2007Web ComponentsAddress Book FilesFiles directory. 

So how can you keep your internal extensions in their current format and still communicator without having to see the annoying addressbook warning.  Its not simple, but the fix is not too complex to impliment.  Here is what to do.  This assumes that you use a format such as “x 5555” for your extensions in AD for the users in the phone number field. 

First, in the OCS 2007 console, right click on the forest, and go to properties, then select voice properties.  Next, click the “Add” button to setup a new default location profile.  Give it a name and a description.  Next, under “Normalization Rules” click the “Add” button.  Give this a name also and a description.  Under translation, enter “^(x|X|x |X )“ without the quotes in the “Phone pattern regular expression” box.  In the next box, enter “$`”  Thats a dollar sign, immediately followed by the key to the left of the number one key on the top number row of your keyboard.  To test this, enter an extension in the same format as you use in AD in the “sample dialed number:“ box.  If it works you should see the resulting number in the format you want in the bottom text box. 

Save you changes by clicking “ok” until you are back at the console screen.  Then you just need to issue some commands on the server to update the address list, which are listed below: (NOTE: CD To the directory of your abserver.exe location)

Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click OK. 

Type net start abserver, and then press ENTER.

Type abserver.exe –regenUR, and then press ENTER.

Type abserver.exe –syncNow, and then press ENTER.

Exit and re-start communciator on your PC/laptop and it should now load with no errors or warnings and you will now see your extensions listed.

Vista image resizer

I used to use the Windows XP powertoy “image resizer” which added a quick context menu resize ability to any image file. This was handy if I needed to quickly adjust or resize my images. Now in Vista, that ability is missing, and the powertoy from XP won’t work in Vista. So I found this Vista Image Resizer which is a free alternative. It also adds a context menu option to resize photos. And while it does work ok, I found it has a bug when resizing multiple images, if you leave the option set to resize the originals, it fails to do anything, but if you set it to make copies, then the copied images actually get resized.  This is only an issue if you have multiple photos selected and attempt to resize the originals.  Overall it’s a good replacement, and I recommend it as a replacement for the old XP powertoy.