Monday, April 28, 2008

Apparently Nipple Ring wearers are terrorists

Dated though this may be, it really chaps my hide the general intolerance that is starting to become the norm in this country. According to SFGate The TSA now says that wearers of body jewelry (that passed the general metal detector) must submit themselves to visual inspection by a TSA agent for them to fly.

Maybe there will be an FBI titty visual inspection certificate, sort of like the frequent fly program. Flash the G-man your pierced bits (they promise not to keep pictures) and your free to go

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Priasoft Exchange Migration Software

Last week I completed my Exchange 5.5 to 2003 migration, and I am so glad that it is over. I used a software package from Priasoft that did the heavy lifting and fixed most if not all of the issues that I would have otherwise had to solve manually. The software moved my mail boxes so quickly that I didn't need to have a co-existence period with two Exchange Organizations, and we only had an 8 hour outage to complete the mailbox migration portion. They promised a public folder utility that never seemed to materialize, so I manually moved my public folders over (very lame). Manually moving the public folders appears to strip out some of the ownership, so only folder owners can edit items. Creating new items follows the permissions that are given in the default, but editing old items can only be done by folder owners so far as I can tell. Going forward that will be fairly minimal pain, but having a tool to fix permissions would have made the migration suite perfect.

The sales process was pretty smooth, and the engineer did a way better job selling the product than the salesman could have ever done. I ended up paying $30 per mailbox, but post sale the engineer mentioned someone being extended a quote for $15 per mailbox so you negotiating skill may be very useful here. The software is licensed per mailbox, which can be very painful if you have several thousand mailboxes, but not nearly as painful as doing it manually. Trust me, this tool is way better than Active Directory Connector and Exmerge. I nuked 30 mailboxes that didn't have didn't have accounts in the new AD Domain by accident. The ADC is a very blunt tool not for the faint of heart, and Exmerge is not fast, not direct and painfully manual.

On the whole I would recommend this tool to anyone stuck on Exchange 5.5 looking to go to a supported Exchange platform. When we get ready to move from 2003 to 2007, or even whatever comes after 2007, I will most likely look to Priasoft again to help make the process nearly pain free.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ugh, I really don't like you iLuv

With a name that inspires confidence in the brand, and speaks volumes about your corporate integrity how can you go wrong? iLuv is not that kind of a name, nor is it that kind of a brand.

I have been looking for a portable media player for my wife for a while now. I tried the Media Center Portables and pondered small portable dvd players, but I wanted to have both the ability to play synced content (purchased digital videos or video podcasts etc) as well as DVD's. The Media Center Portables were pretty cool in theory, but required so much horse power out of your Media Center PC as to render them sort of not very useful, coupled with you couldn't play DVD's on them made the ultimately dust collectors in my household. Even if you ripped your DVD's to WMV with settings specific to the MCP's screen the Media Center PC would reprocess them before loading them on the MCP. The portable DVD players where pretty nice, but you where limited to the number of dvd's you loaded into a case and/or felt like renting from the airport kiosks.

I hem and haw about Mac and their products being overpriced, but my wife wanted an iPod. Knowing that the Gen 5 had screens, I thought getting one with an accessory that played video from the iPod onto a bigger screen. 7-10 inches was the range she said was portable enough to take with her and large enough to not be a pain to watch. I saw several iPod video accessories and caved when the Gen 6 iPods ( iPod Classic worse than the old gen 5's ) came out and bought her one. I conspired with family and friends to get her car yoked up with the Universal Aux Input Retrofit that Toyota recently released for almost all of their cars. After looking around for quite a while I found a player that did both the iPod video out, and the DVD playing with an 8.4 inch screen. Right in the sweet spot, the iLuv i1155blk. Purchased this item in October of '07 and she has, for lack of better description, used the hell out of it. She scrapbooks with it, as her Scraping Corner doesn't have a TV. Sure she could have, and does use a laptop from time to time but the iLuv was a great size and didn't interfere with her "paste eating". This was all well and good until just recently it stopped reading disks. Not just some disks, basically every disk I put in gets the Disk Err message on screen after about 2 minutes of the iLuv whirring. Every now and again the thing will read a disk and start playing, but it will not finish a DVD and eventually will give the Disk Err.

This behavior lead me to look into support. I purchased the machine at Sharper Image mostly because I had hopped it wouldn't need to be shipped. Well la dee da Sharper Image didn't stock that item in the stores it only had demo units, since it was rather close to my wife's B-Day at the time and I wasn't sure how long it would take from Amazon or the like to get to me I bought it. Sharper image only warranties this item for 90 days after that you have to deal with the Manufacturer, which while annoying is standard practice. I went to the iLuv's site to get the customer service number ((866) 807-5946) and quickly found that it was pointless to try calling at least after noon PST, I will remember to try again after 3pm PST which I think is 8am Beijing time. If they are in the Asia market, sometime after 4 or 5 pm PST should put me in to their work day. Following the advice of their phone support I filed a "express support" ticket online with details of how my DVD player (with the specific iLuv part number referenced) was not reading disks. Below is the verbatim response I received (minus my name).

Dear xxxx xxxxxx,

This is in reference with your Request Ticket Number: IL00003017.

Dear Customer,

Please select your radio station.

Press and hold PROG/PRESET until PROG flashes on the display.

Use the search wheel to select the preset #



If you have any questions or comments please contact Express Customer Support at

Customer Support
jWIN Electronics Corp.
2 Harbor Park Drive
Port Washington, NY 11050

Please reply back to this email without changing the subject line if you have further clarifications.

iLuv Support Team

I responded without the least bit of sarcasm:


I am hopping someone with a Radio got instructions for dealing with a DVD player, because I wrote about a DVD player not reading disks, not anything to do with programing radio stations.

Hope this helps us get back on track for my issue.

Details as they emerge, but customer support sucks in general.

MS vs Yahoo et all

I am really amused every time I read another wrinkle in the Microsoft trying to buy Yahoo Saga. I am starting to think of Balmer as Biff from Back to the Future, and Yahoo as Marty's mother; the more Yahoo says "No" the harder Balmer presses to get in her panties. Fan-Freaking-Tastic, if/when this deal goes down it will be the bitterest pill Microsoft has ever swallowed. The best part is I don't believe Blamer's ego will let him step away from this; he committed the company he thinks of as his toy and regardless of the shareholder value his ham fisted approach is destroying I'm not sure he sees his own bumbling.

Deep inside I am hopping this is some skillful jockeying to get at a goal that doesn't make sense to me yet. I doubt Steve has the fineness to pull a "every buddy look right while I juke left" strategy off, but I can only hope that Gates would have stepped in by now if he wasn't. Until then I think the best analysis I have read of the whole mess so far was Engadget's Thomas Ricker

Make no mistake about it, this is corporate war and will likely end with Yahoo's best engineers working for Google.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

iPod Classic not as good as the original

I purchased an iPod Classic for my wife hopping to use it with some of the cool video accessories in the market, only to find out that Jobso decided to screw his customers by requiring new decoder chips to play video off of them. Decoder chips that can only be bought from Apple as far as I know, thereby ensuring that if you make an iPod accessory you had to register and pay tithe for the privilege of building iPod accessories. So that lovely iLuv 1155 I bought won't work with her new GD iPod. Lucky for me, I had a buddy that didn't use the video part of the iPod looking to get rid of a gen 5 30gb iPod on the cheap. I went from a 1 iPod household to a 2 iPod household because Jobs is a prick.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Working for cheap

So I haven't been up to much projectwise lately as I have been spending a lot of time doing the good son/grandson/son-in-law etc. lately. This weekend will be pretty much shot on installing cabinets for my father, rebuilding a pc for my aunt-in-law, and another pc for the Grandparents. I blame my mother-in law for the most of the work, as she got a new pc and wanted to gift her old one to her sister. My mom heard about that and asked me to cook up a computer for the grandparents. Apparently they got off the dial-up internet and the PII 350mhz is not cutting it for the internet age anymore. The good news is that they are the same motherboard so all I need to get one setup, patched up and ready so I can image it and go.

Oh well, between that and the xbox360 there is little project work being done. I have one project cooking to re-arrange my network project box and a shopping list for a new media center setup. With a HDTV, my wife is asking for HD content.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Exchange Migrations suck

I realize that the Exchange 5.5 Platform has been end of life for a while, but I cannot believe the lack of information, or how high the degree of difficulty is to migrate from the unsupported to supported. What really surprises me is that Microsoft is so disinterested in taking my money to help me move off of their old software onto their new software.

I paid a "Migration Specialist" to come in and consult and he had even less success than I did in playing with migration (he deleted all of my executive staffs email boxes by mistake). I am getting close to completed which is good, and I will be using the tool from Priasoft to migrate our mail boxes. The software that I demoed was fantastic, and it looks to be a great time saver. I will report back after the 20th on the success or failure of this little project.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Permanently decline Safari forced download


So for those keeping track recently Apple decided that the update utility was the ideal way to leverage itself some market share in the browser wars and tried to jam it down the throats of windows users. Apple stated to decline the update all you have to do is uncheck it, however unchecked updates continue to show up waiting for you to accidentally forget to decline that update and stealth its way on to your computer.

I for one don't want the piece of software that was the reason that the Mac was "the easiest [platform to hack] of the three" running on my machine for any reason. Here is all that it takes to permanently decline this update.

It appears I was wrong, this will not keep Safari out completely. Other Safari updates will nag in the future. The reasonable option for non-quicktime users is to delete the task in Scheduled Tasks. iTunes has the good sense to check for updates every time you run it so your covered there, Quicktime is another matter. I suggest trying the Quicktime Alternative or another media player (VLC maybe?) until Apple cleans up their act.

At the corporate level you can block the safari.msi; at the proxy block access to*.msi, or for us running (Sophos Antivirus), we will block the exe and/or path to executable and flag it malware.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Wines for Summer

If you are bored, and I am sure that I will be, here are some of the wines that I will be trying this summer. These go out to the girls Julie, Jenny, Vid. You know.

Miguel Torres Chile Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé
Vega Sindoa Rosé Navarra
Muga Roja
Château Morgues du Gres Fluer D’Eglantine Costieres de Nimes
Domine Tempier Rose
Comman Derie de Peyrassol
Domain de la Mordorée Côtes-Du-Rhône

Data Retention

It turns out because of certain portions of the organization I work for we are required to retain some records (payroll and accounting) for nearly 200 years which can cause real headaches when it is ignored for too long. In discussions with the Accounting manager I found out that some records (nearly 10 years of them are currently only available on one single desktop machine running windows 3.1.

Someone made the decision sometime ago that it wasn’t a priority to migrate this to a platform that was sustainable, and as such it is on a machine that no one is sure will power on. If something isn’t assigned a priority, then it is guaranteed to fall of the horizon of IT folks. My predecessor never mentioned the situation to me, I assume because he had dismissed it as unimportant. Thankfully I was assured that the data was safely backed up on a disk somewhere, but it doesn’t stop that I need to come up with some way to preserve that data in an accessible format for 200 years. So far I am thinking hello virtual machine.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Moving back to Windows from Mac

Infoworld has and article about why one Mac evangelist moved back to Windows for work. I am glad that one engineer sees the light. IT shouldn't have to work twice as hard for a tiny faction of rebels. This has been my experience everywhere I go that I am forced to support Mac hardware; Mac users refuse to acknowledge the work they require IT to sustain just for them to run their pet OS. At the end of the day my hourly rate may be a sunk cost, but it isn't free and until it is Mac costs most businesses more money than it saves.

Ocean 2, damn you Helio

I am a fan of new phones as much as the next guy, but I am less than thrilled that Helio appears to readying a new Helio Ocean. Seriously guys, I have a contract until 2009, and I am not sure if your company is going to last that long. Besides hemorrhaging cash, I have been trying to get into the developers program for over 2 months now. I have signed an NDA and still cannot get any thing vaguely resembling a response from the damn company. If you don't want anyone to like or have an interest in you this is a great way to make that happen. To be fair a good deal of the lag was on my end. Maybe half of it, but still the length of time required to get you some paperwork, (signed paperwork no less) should not be the major hindrance to getting some fing software developed.

Lets review, in downtown Seattle I get some God Damn fast internet. Seriously fast for a phone, so fast it is a little sick. My battery life is fing solid, I can stream 2 hrs of youtube and still go all day on my battery so el Jobso's inability to launch iPhone with 3g is more his own retarded infatuation with electronics too tiny for natural use (ala MBA, and the Nano, and someday the Pico). I bet at the cost of a Millimeter, and a li-poly battery the 3g iPhone would probably be the phone I own right now.