Blog Archives

Back to the old routine

The holidays are over, vacation is through, I stink at rhyming…..ummm…..

Seriously, back to the old routine now.  Plenty to do starting out this new year.  Some really neat projects on the horizon for this year, including continued testing and deployment of Office Communications Server 2007, clustered Exchange 2003/2007 servers, new Citrix deployment, and more. 

Advertisements

weekend update

Another busy weekend is now complete. Friday I had to work late from home to fix some server problems. Liz and I had been planning a date night all week to go out and spend time together, but since I had to work, we ended up going grocery shopping instead while her sister watched the kids. Not exactly what we had in mind, but its always nice to spend together. We didn’t leave until 9:30pm, and got back just before midnight. We went to the Citrus Park Wal-Mart and managed to grab a quick snack from Dariy Queen while we were out that way.

Saturday, Liz had a fund raising event to go to, so I stayed with the kids and her sister to clean the house and get ready for Sarah’s birthday party. I got the grass cut, the house work almost done and had things mostly ready for when Liz got home. That morning for breakfast I made Sarah belgian waffles (her request) and I picked up her own little personal (sarah) sized watermelon.

Her party was around 2, but we didn’t really get started until later. Liz and I cooked up a nice lunch/dinner, we had some grilled chicken salad corn on the cob, and of course cake and ice cream for dessert. Sarah got some nice gifts for her birthday including new polly pockets which she loves, and we got her some nurf guns which we all had a good time with while on vacation. We’ve already lost one of the darts. Its been raining a lot lately, so we didn’t get to do anything outside.

Sunday, Liz and I got some exterrior house work done. She got up on the play room roof and re-flashed some seams that are still leaking even after our last attempt. Then I got the front gutters cleaned out so that the water would stop destroying the landscaping in the front of the house. I need to get some mulch and re-do some areas. Liz also was kind enough to trim some of the bushes in the front yard for me, and did a nice job of shaping them up a little. Now we can see much better through our front window where we have our Bistro table. Its a beautiful view from that front window, we’ve even started eating breakfast there just the two of us, and make it a frequent reading spot at night before bed.

Again, I’m amazed that Sarah is now 7 years old. I was recently reminded by several sources how quickly time passes. First by Sarah turning 7, and second by my phone. It just happened to chime every 5 minutes for the last 1.5 days (long story) and each time it would chime, I was reminded that another 5 minutes had passed. It reminded me how valuable time is, and how sad it is that between work and sleep, I get to spend so little of it with my family.

Experts Exchange update

Sadly, my account with Experts Exchange has been downgraded to a free account 😦 I’ve been busy lately and took a vacation and did not maintain enough expert points each month so I am now only a free member. I have to answer a few questions to get my membership restored, which won’t be a big deal, but still a pain. Whats funny is the same day my account was downgraded, I received my Experts Exchange t-shirt. The shirt was free to commorate my achievements at EE as a Master level Exchange expert.

Vacation Summary

We are finally back from Vacation (actually got back on Tuesday evening). We had a nice relaxing time (mostly) and it was nice to see family and friends and places we haven’t seen in a few years. Now lets see if I can remember a few highlights…

My favorite part was playing badminton for over 6 hours straight. I think it was Saturday we had a family get togther and a cookout, after everyone ate, we started playing and it was a lot of fun. It was a little disappointing at how easy it was to beat Ray and Jeremy, I expected more competition than what I saw out there. Liz got some great shots of me playing, and they are available in the picture gallery.

We went blueberry picking (actually I took the kids to the field) and we picked over 13 pounds of blue berries. They were $1.50 a pound, so I spent almost $20, but boy were they good!!! I probably ate about 6 pounds by myself the first day we got them.

The kids played in a stream down a dirt road, and rode bikes through it. My kids loved it and enjoyed getting wet and muddy. At one point Abby had to go to the bathroom while we were all at the stream, so I carried her on my back all the way back to the house and helped her, and then we drove back to the stream in Uncle Jam’s car. I stuck Abby up through the sunroof so thats the first thing they’d see as we drove up. Then on the way back, I had Michael ride with me, I drove Jam’s car in reverse all the way back to the house with Michael in my lap, I had to hold the steering wheel tightly as Michael was trying to “steer” with me.

Overall our flights up and back were very good, no bumps or problems. When we got to the Tampa airport, our main bag was 3 pounds over weight. They made us take out 3 pounds. So Liz took her purse out and shoved some shoes in there to get through check-in. The girls were great on the flights, only bugged me a bit about pushing the seat’s recline button, they really wanted to push it bad, so I told them it was to push if you wanted to take a nap, then they weren’t really interested anymore. They watched a movie on my laptop on the way there.

We forgot Michael’s stroller on the way back, so Liz used the snug carrier thing that straps onto you, and carried Michael that way, which worked out good on the plane.

We rented a van from Budget on the way from Dover to Newark to visit my Aunt and Uncle. We got a nice Dodge Grand Caravan which was very comfortable. We had a nice visit with them as well and I ended up staying up really late talking “tech” with David.

Leaving Philly on Tuesday, our plane was delayed a little getting in, and had to wait in line for about 30 minutes before we could leave. So there was a little delay getting back home. Mike picked us up in their van and brought us home, which was nice.

While staying with my mom, we basically had no cell service, so it was a little disturbing to be so disconnected for the first day or two. After that I got used to it and it was actually nice not to be glued to my phone all day. I almost forgot how relaxing that is. I was joking around telling people that we have these nice GSM quad band world phones that will work in Austrailia, the UK and abroad, but we can’t even use them in Delaware! Cingular has good signal in the major areas, but service in the rural areas is really bad. Verizon by far is the better carrier in the north east. Now that Cingular is the new at&t, maybe that will improve over time.

Overall our trip was good, it was good to see old faces and places and catch up with people. We got lots of good pictures and had a relaxing time. However, it is still a difficult thing to travel with small kids, so I hope not to have to travel like that again for at least 5 years!!! 🙂

My year of Hell in 4 days

There is a Star Trek Voyager episode entitled “Year of Hell”. Its about a span of 365 days in the life of the crew where pretty much anything that could go wrong, goes go wrong and I think they barely survive (its been a while since I’ve seen it). Well, over the last 4 days, I’ve had my year of Hell starting from Friday night to yesterday around 6:30pm. I’ll summarize:

1. Friday night, I installed DST patches

a. DST patch caused a problem where my info stores would not
mount in Exchange 2003
b. The DST patches also broke the goodlink system for mobile e-mail
c. Turned out that MS had changed the way the permissions work in
Exchange and AD and we had to re-set the permissions on our
GoodAdmin account
c. Spent up until 11:30pm working on the DST patches and fixing the
goodlink account while on the phone with Good support

2. Saturday – all day

a. Checked the server from previous night to ensure everything is
still working
b. Found everything to still not be working.
c. Found some objects in Exchange 2003 were not
inherriting permissions correctly. Had to continue
resetting permissions for those items and testing.
d. Continued working with Good support and testing and finally got the
Goodlink mobile e-mail working
e. Had to follow a workaround by allowing inherritance on the
AdminSDHolder AD object and allowing time for replication
f. Spent the rest of the day testing the mobile e-mail system paranoid
that it would fail again.
g. Abby got sick Friday night, so I got maybe 2 hours of sleep Friday
night and Sat Morning

3. Sunday – all morning

a. Continued testing the mobile e-mail system, all tests were working
ok, external and internal.
b. I stayed home with Abby all day to take care of her, she was really
sick and had a very high fever.
c. Got my first almost full night of sleep, since Liz was kind enough to
stay in the living room with Abby

4. Monday – All DAY!!!

a. Started getting complaints that people couldn’t open some e-mail
messages in Outlook
b. Got some reports that people were missing e-mails, that the volume
of messages received over the weekend and morning were very low
c. To make it more frustrating, all the external tests and internal tests
I was doing were working fine
d. Checked the mail queues in Exchange 2003 and found hundreds of
queued messages, they were stuck in the MTA queue
e. Nothing I tried would release the messages
f. I called Microsoft and paid my $245 fee for support, and spent about
8 hours on the phone with 2 separate Microsoft engineers.
g. Once I got through to the escalation engineer, we got the issue fixed
within 3 hours or so.
h. Turned out that MS had made two code changes to alter the way
Exchange does recipient and sender address formatting or lookups.
i. The quick fix was to uninstall patch 930241. So I did, and that
restored functionality completely, for both symptoms.
j. I also worked with MS to run some store traces to try to
identify the issue.
k. After some minor permissions adjustments for two servers who were
still not inherriting permissions correctly, everything started to
work normally.
l. I did NOT have lunch this day, nor anything to drink. I was on the
phone all day!
m. At 6:35pm I finally left the office and went home and crashed!

So as you can see, thanks to Congress for screwing around with the Daylight saving configuration and thanks to Microsoft for making some code changes that had unexpected side effects, I ended up having a very bad few days indeed. I really didn’t get a weekend, no break, barely any sleep. Its going to take me a while to recover from that. I need a vacation! Sarah has off all next week for spring break, I’m thinking of asking for next Wednesday off to break up the work week and give myself a break.

Working on my Birthday

You know, I always have a problem pre-planning my vacation/personal days at work. Today is my birthday, and I didn’t take a day off. I never know if I should take that day off or not. My birthday is usually on a weekday, hardly ever is it on the weekend. I just feel bad if I use a vacation day just for my birthday, since there are more importhat things I could use it for at various times throughout the year for other events.

Surprise Weekend

This is going to be a rather long story. Its a tale of surprise and fun.

It all started on Thursday evening while I was at work. I was working on a server migration project involving Goodlink, when things took a turn for the worse. I was on the phone with Goodlink support almost all day. I was having a terrible time getting things to work properly, and ended up having to stay super late on Thursday, I didn’t leave the office until 11pm. I get in to work around 7:45am or so every weekday, so I was at work from 7:45am until 11m, which makes for a very long day! I finally got things stabalized with the help of Goodlink support and started on my way home. Once I got home, around 11:30pm, I walked in the door, hungry (since I hadn’t eaten anything) and tired (obviously), and so I sat down next to Liz who was sitting on the couch. I leaned over to give her a hello kiss, when I saw something out of the corner of my eye that startled me. It was my borhter Jeremy who’s hand was reaching up towards me in an attempt to surprise me! I jumped up off the couch in surprise and realized it was him. They were totally playing me and had even more surprised in store for me.

We talked for a bit and got a snack and a drink and finally went to bed around 12:30am. The next morning we got up around 8 or so, and I was still in bed when there was a ring at the doorbell. I had a suspicion as to who it might be, but Liz asked me to get the door, so I did and found my mom standing out on the porch. Turned out they had both flown in that Thursday morning and spent the day with Liz and the kids. I had to work late so it totally screwed up their surprise plans and they had to completely change around what they were going to do. So we got to spend the whole weekend (I took Friday off too) with my mom and Jeremy. Click more or the post title to read more about the weekend…
Read the rest of this entry

Details

Our old house sold rather quickly, it was listed, sold and closed within 30 days. Our buyer was a little wacky and we had to jump through all kinds of hoops to make him happy. The closing date snuck up on us big time and we had only a few days to make moving arrangements. Liz and I packed up as much as we could and we had some friends that were nice enough to come over and help us. We had some help loading large items onto a moving truck which we were fortunately able to get for free from our real estate agent’s company. It was a 15′ truck and took 2 full loads to get all of our things to the garage of the new house. Liz and I loaded the first truck load along with some help from friends with the large items on Saturday morning. We then took the load to the new garage and unloaded it with just Liz and myself. It took us about 1 hour or so to unload the first trip. Then we took the truck back to our house and started to load more. It was getting late and Liz’s dad had come down to help from Ocala, so we took a dinner break and ended up with Liz’s dad and myself stopping by Dairy Queen on the way back. We got all the rest of the stuff from our old house loaded onto the truck in a few hours. Leaving only some trash to put out for collection and some small items like mirrors and things we could get with the van. It was almost 10pm by this time so we decided to leave it at that for the night and I drove the full truck back to a baseball field parking lot next to some friend’s house whom we were staying with. The next afternoon, Liz went somewhere with the kids and I took the truck to the new house and unloaded it by myself. It only took me a little over an hour and a half to get the extremely packed truck unloaded. What can I say, I’m nothing if not efficient. Ha ha. That evening I took the truck back to the real estate agent’s office and got my precious Miata back. I enjoyed a nice pleasant ride back to where we were staying.

First our home sale was supposed to happen on a Friday and the closing on our new house on a Monday. However, there was some kind of delay last minute and we could not close on either until Wednesday. So Wednesday finally came, I took some vacation days off work for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday but also had Monday off for Columbus day. So I had 6 days to move and get settled in. We met at the title company at 3pm on Wednesday to close on both houses. The buyer of our house could not be there so he came earlier and signed paperwork. Which we were very happy about so we didn’t have to deal with him in person since he gave us such a time dealing through his real estate agent. Not to mention his agent had a horrible accent and was very hard to understand. They got to us in a short amount of time and we signed all the sale papers for our old house. We finished only after about 15 minutes or so, and then decided to move on and finish the signing of the papers on our new house. This way, when the seller got there all he had to do was sign a few papers and we’d be all set.

Bad thing was that the amount we got back at closing was not as much as we had thought due to higher taxes and expenses in closing. So we got back just short of the amount we wanted. We had planned to pay off two big debts but didn’t receive enough to pay off just one of them. We will be getting an escrow refund from our first mortgage which will help and we don’t have a mortgage payment until Dec 1st, so I’m hoping the extra bill I hadn’t counted on will not be too high of a payment. We should be able to pay a little on the second debt which will hopefully make it more managable. We still have some things we need to buy though, like a dishwasher, since it died just after we got the keys. I’d like to get a new refridgerator, but that will have to wait. We did get a new TV (woo hoo), couch set, and some other things, but the budget is going to be interesting now. We are going to have to take Sarah out of private school and send her to a very highly rated public school nearby. We just can’t afford her tuition anymore with the higher living expenses. This has been hard for Liz and I’m not happy about it either, but unless I get a major career boost (and I already do good) or Liz gets a good job, we just can’t afford to send our kids to private school. Its bad enough just paying tuition for one, I can’t immaging how we could send all our kids to private school. Sarah will likely start public school in early November.

Activating utilities at the new house was a little strange, we are just outside the city limits of Temple Terrace, but still are on their water/sewer system. Tampa Electric still services us which is good, but water and trash pickup were tricky. The county told me they didn’t service my address, the city said they didn’t service the address, Temple Terrace told us they did. So it was a bit confusing getting it all setup. But on the day we moved in we had power, water/sewer and trash pickup is covered in our property taxes. I missed trash pickup this morning, I guess they come way earlier than I am used to, so I’ll have to remember to put it out the night before the pickup day. I ordered Verizon FIOS for internet access to try it out and see how it works for me. Its cheaper than Road Runner and has faster upload speeds which is more important to me than a few MB faster download speeds. I am downloading any TV shows I want to watch now so we didn’t get cable again and I don’t want to pay for Satellite, which stinks in Florida anyway with all the rain in the summer. I connected my PC via DVI to the new TV – a Hitachi 57″ HDTV. I watched some things on it in HD and its amazing. I just need to get a good surround sound system and I’ll be set. But thats one more thing I can’t afford right now. I might be able to get a PCI video card with a DVI port on it, and just use my e-mail server as my multimedia machine. I’d also need to get a wireless keyboard and mouse, but thats not too expensive. I have yet to decide what I want to do about that yet.

We love our new house, its not brand new and it has some maintenance things that will need to be done, but its been cared for and is in good shape overall. Its in a very quiet neighborhood, peaceful and pleasant. Liz has already been rollerblading a few times and I took the kids in the back yard last night to assemble their swing set and it was so quiet and there was a nice cool breeze blowing with no one else around. I have some installation inadequicies so it took a little longer than I had wanted to get the swing set assembled 🙂 We still have lots of stuff in the new garage so only my Miata can fit in there at night right now. I would like to have both vehicles in the garage by next weekend. Its not that much left to move, but its a matter of time and energy to go through it all. We made good progress in the few days we have been there, the kitchen and living room look great, but the other rooms are a little bare right now.

So I’m back at work today after a long break and am right back into the mix of things again. I think I am becomming a supporter of capitol punnishment for spammers. :-)]]>

Last minute change of plans

I took vacation days for Thursday, Friday – Monday and Tuesday to close on our houses and get moved in to the new house. So on Thursday morning I was off of work, Liz and I went to New Tampa and picked up the moving truck. We had purchased several items online and needed to go pick them up, so we headed out to Brandon to pickup our new couch set. We got there and the people were really nice and we had no trouble loading the new set. We left there and tried to find a place to stop and get a money order, because I was a few hundred short of the cash I needed to pay for the next item. We found an Amscot where we were going to try to buy a money order, but we only had a check and credit cards with us. They would not let us buy a money order since they deal strictly with cash. So we went to Lakeland anyway to pickup my new TV!!! I bought a 57″ Hitachi Big Screen. I got a great deal on it, it came with a matching entertainment center too. So there were two guys there at the house we picked it up from who helped us load it onto the truck. It took a while and lots of effort, but we managed to get the TV and entertainment center out of the house and onto the truck. I skinned up a knuckle hauling that monster, since we had to pick it up to get over dips and when moving at angles. We secured the TV to the side of the truck and went on our merry way. We only made it a short distance when we heard loud bang from the back of the truck. We pulled over to find the bungie cords we used had come undone. We re-secured the TV this time with rope and more blankets to protect it from any further impacts. Eventually it settled down and we made it back to Tampa in one piece. But something else happened on our way back to Tampa…

As we were leaving and about to get back on I4 to go home, we were sitting at a traffic light on Florida about to turn onto Memorial to get back to I4. Suddenly lots of police kept zooming by us, probably 10-15 cars, we had no idea what was going on. We saw tons of cops, an ambulance, lots of unmarked cars, and just a lot of police activity. We finally made it onto Memorial and were going down the road when we saw lots of people standing on the sides of the road and more police activity. We made it by the police as they just were coming out to stop traffic. We went a little further and saw motorcycle cops driving up and down the road looking for something. We went on our way and didn’t think much more of it. When we got back to Tampa, we heard what happened. Some guy (they think a drug dealer) shot two police officers and a dog. The dog and one of the police officers died and the other office is in critical condition. Last night there was a $15,000 reward for the capture of this guy. This morning, it was up to $40,000. I just now (at the time of writing this post) heard that they found the guy (think he was hiding in the woods) and they shot and killed him. So we were right there in Lakeland when all this happened just moments after it took place.

So we made it back to Tampa and decided to stop by the new house and drop off our loot into the garage. We were told to call the sellers agent for the code to the keypad of the garage door so we could get inside and unload out things. We tried calling and got her voicemail. We called over and over and were about to give up and leave after being there for about 30 minutes. Liz’s mom had just arrived to pick us up so we could leave the truck there until we heard from the sellers agent, just then the phone rang and it was her with the garage code. So we opened the door and unloaded the TV and entertainment center with the couch we got. Then we took the truck back to our house and were going to start loading more onto the truck. Liz had to leave at 2:30 to pickup Sarah from school, so she ate something quickly and left. Liz’s mom also left around that time. That left me home alone to load the truck. I was going to get as much loaded as I could and take a load to the garage so that when help came later, all we had left to move would be last minute things and the larger items I need help with. Well, once Liz left I got ready to go outside and haul stuff into the truck. I took my keys out of my pockets, and put my cell phone on the desk. I didn’t want to have a lot of stuff on me while moving. So I went outside and closed the door behind me. I didn’t realize until a few minutes later that I had just locked myself out of the house with no keys, no phone and no way back inside until Liz got back. Now Liz had to go take Sarah straight to Amanda’s house so she could watch the kids while we moved stuff. She also had to feed michael before she came back. So Liz didn’t come rescue me from my own stupidity until around 4:20pm. We originally thought that Thursday would be our only moving day since we had to be out of there for closing the next morning. So I was in a rush to get stuff loaded and moved, and was rather distraught that I had lost almost 2 hours of my moving time by locking myself out of the house. So Liz got home, and started to pack up more last minute things and I started loading more stuff onto the truck. I had put some things that were on the back porch in the truck already. Around 4:30 we got a call from our realtor, who said there was a delay on the buyers side and they were looking at a Wednesday closing now. So we had to unload what I had loaded onto the truck already, and help Liz finish getting what she needed. I then took the truck back to New Tampa and dropped it off. Liz took some things to Amanda’s house and they got Pizza for dinner. I got back from New Tampa to Amanda’s house around 8pm. I ate and helped get the kids to bed and left around 9:30. I spent the night alone at our old house since we still had most of our things in there. I didn’t want to leave it all there alone.

I got up this morning and came to work a little early so I could eat breakfast in the break room, since they provide pastries and bagels and such every Friday morning. Liz originally left me some milk so I could have some cereal for breakfast, but forgot to leave me some cereal. So I was stuck at the house with no food. I had a bagel and creme cheese for breakfast along with a yummy cheese danish.

I then got a call this morning from our realtor again with a few updates. Apparently I was not told of two more repairs to our house the buyers wanted done. Now I have to patch one more crack in the garage floor (which is normal in FL for a new house) and replace the air filter in the return on our hallway. The buyer is going to do his walkthrough on Monday while the appraiser is there.

So now we have reserved the moving truck for Saturday and Sunday just in case. Hopefully on Saturday we can get all of our stuff moved out of the house into the garage of the new house. I am meeting my realtor to get the truck at 9am tomorrow morning. This should be a fun weekend! And its killing me, I have that nice 57″ TV sitting in the new garage and no way to play with it until Wednesday! 😦 Maybe I will take my DVD player and some cables with me tonight and hook it up just to see it play. I’m so impatient.]]>

Vacation – at least a short one!

Liz has one of her friends that will be visiting in early May.
Sarah graduates from K5 in mid-May.
My mom and brother (possibly both brothers) will be visiting in mid-May.
My Aunt and Uncle will be visiting in mid-May.

So I’m taking a few vacation days so I can be home while we have people visiting.
Now, what to do, what to do….maybe one of these?

1. Caladesi island
2. Clearwater Beach
3. Busch Gardens
4. Adventure Island
5. Lowery Park Zoo
6. Temple Terrace Rec Center

Hopefully we will find a way to have some fun and relax!!!]]>