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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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!

Microsoft support and the BSOD

I was on a call to Microsoft support today for an issue with Communication server 2007.  During the initial steps of the support call when the technician was trying to setup the Easy Assist session, his computer started a memory dump with a BSOD.  He had to jump to another machine while rebooting the now inoperable computer.  He apologized politely, but it was no big thing for me, I actually got a kick out of it.  It also helped that the Guy (Hi Patrick), was a BSG fan and we chatted a little about the upcoming Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica

Upgraded to WordPress 2.5

After some reluctance to work on my blog again, I gave into the nag at the top of my admin screen and went ahead and upgraded to WordPress 2.5. I am happy to say I had no problems at all, and most of my plugins worked fine, I only had a problem activating one that had to do with comments, but its nothing important and I just left it disabled. Otherwise, my upgrade experience was good. I like the new admin interface and the new feature set. Go WordPress!!

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…

Black logon screen for Server 2003

This is the first time I’ve run across this issue, but what was happening is I’d see a black screen both through RDP and from the actual server console.  You could see a little bit of the windows logon box, but it was cut off where the username and password fields would be.  If you can fumble your way through the logon screen you’d be able to logon but everything was still black, the only color you’d see would be in the desktop icons.  This makes it virtually impossible to do anything on the server.  This situation does not cause a work stoppage, as all the background services ran fine, you just can’t logon and do anything. 

So I started searching around and ultimately ran across a MS KB article 906510.  I’ll paste in the information below, but the KB said it was an issue with the color scheme, and the registry values were all set to “0”.  At least that is whats listed as the cause of the black screen symptom, but it does not offer an explanation of what would cause the numbers to get set to “0” in the first place. 

To resolve this I had to do the following:  (NOTE: the drive mapping step was only needed for my solution as the server was not on the domain and not using internal DNS, so I could not authenticate on the domain).

1. Map a drive from another network machine to this server using local admin credentials.
2. Open regedit and connect remote registry to the server in question. (this will not work unless you map the drive first – see above note)
3. Use an export from a working server of the registry key noted in the MS KB and import that into the remote server.
4. Attempt logon through RDP or at the console, the color issue should be resolved. 

I wish I knew what caused this issue, but I can’t find much as to the actual cause.  I heard talk that maybe it was a disk space issue, but my server had 10GB of free space, so that wasn’t it.  Hope this information helps someone in the future.

Help and Support service missing in Server 2003

I ran into a situation in which the Help and Support service in server 2003 dissappeared.  I had no idea why, and for a long time left it alone.  I then did some digging and found a KB article from Microsoft describing how to re-install the service.  Follow these instructions (taken from MS KB article 937055):

To resolve this problem, reinstall the Help and Support service. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Click Start, click Run, type cmd in the Open box, and then click OK.
2. At the command prompt, locate the following folder:

%windir%PCHealthHelpCtrBinaries
3. At the command prompt, type the following commands, and then press ENTER after each command:

HelpSvc.exe /regserver /svchost netsvcs /RAInstall
HSCUpd.exe -i hscmui.cab
HSCUpd.exe -i hscsp_s3.cab

Note The following commands do not apply to some language versions of Windows Server 2003:

HSCUpd.exe -i hscmui.cab
HSCUpd.exe -i hscsp_s3.cab

The reason is that the Hscmui.cab compressed file is not included in some language versions of Windows Server 2003, such as the Japanese version of Windows Server 2003.

What no one ever tells you about cluster hardware redundancy

I was recently reminded about this, so I thought I’d post about it and share the knowledge.  I use mostly HP hardware, so in this setup, lets say we have two HP DL585 servers for use in a Windows cluster.  I also have dual fibre channel interfaces in each server.  Externally lets say we have two separate fibre channel switches.  For storage, its an MSA1500 external fibre channel SAN with over 1TB of RAID storage, partitioned for use in a cluster.  The MSA1500 has dual controllers and each controller has its own fibre chennel interface. 

To connect it all together, each server connects one of its two fibre channel interfaces to one physical SAN Switch.  The MSA1500 SAN controllers each get connected to a separate physical SAN switch.  The goal here is to optomize hardware redundancy and make this configuration as fault tolerant as possible.  But here is where the issue comes in. 

No one tells you that you need special software running on each node of the cluster to handle the hardware redundancy.  If you don’t have this software in place, what you will find is that Windows will see two SAN storage arrays.  One of them will be inaccessible since you can only have one physical connection active.  I had to call HP support and go through several explanations of what I was trying to accomplish with all the hardware redundance before I was told about the software I needed.  Its called MultiIO or “Multi Path IO”.  If you do a search on the HP support website, you will find HP MPIO Basic (there are two versions, basic is fine for most people).  Download this software and install on each node and amazingly you will find that things work much better.  From the documentation I saw, there is no indication of needing this software, but in this kind of highly resiliant configuration it is necessary to use MPIO to control the hardware redundancy. 

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.

So busy!

I am normally pretty busy, but lately its just been crazy!  Between some website development I’m doing in my spare time, my full time job and stuff going on with Liz and the kids; its rather hectic. 

We realized the other day that our washing machine was starting to leak, so we jumped on craigslist and found a nice newer set for a great price and the guy even offered to deliver.  They were dropped off yesterday, so after work I installed both a new washer and dryer and tested them out.  Then it was off to web work land for me, which I got carried away with and was up way too late!  I skipped my normal gym night in hopes of going tonight instead.  I don’t like to mess up my schedule, but this won’t be too bad, since Liz and the kinds will be busy on thursday night, so I can go thursday after work and it won’t be a big deal. 

With the web work I’m doing, I am finding all sorts of neat little tricks with flash and other cool tools.  I think I am going to integrate some flash stuff on my personal sites soon, once if things slow down for me.