Archive for the ‘Windows + ??? = Profit!!!’ Category

{happiness is a bright blue light…}

August 24, 2006

…shining on the front of my server.

I think this thing might actually be some sort of laser?

The reconstruction of my RAID array appears to have succeeded. The drive that had failed now has a green light, and the PERC BIOS utility says that it is “online” and in “optimal” condition. Furthermore, I was able to boot the OS, log in and receive this cheery sight:

I've never been more happy to see this stupid desktop

Since reconstruction restored the drive to functionality, I can only assume that the data on the disk became somehow corrupt or inconsistent, rather than an outright hardware failure. I think that can happen when parity data gets out of synch. So that all sounds pretty good. One the other hand, it is no longer part of the array, which has gone from being a 3-drive RAID 5 to a 2-drive RAID 0.

Oh well. We’ll survive one day without redundancy. I don’t have time to reconstruct the array again before my users get here and start logging on. For now, i’m just running various disk diagnostics and maintenence utilities on the logical drive made up of the two disks remaining in the array.

UPDATE: I need a tape drive with an autoloader. I’m over sitting here and waiting to change the tape every time I do a full backup.


{i hate moving parts}

August 23, 2006

Hey guys, there’s some orange light flashing on the front of my Dell PowerEdge server. Is that bad?

I think that means it's on fire!

Just kidding. Of course it’s bad!

At 5PM today, I brought our entire network down so I could replace the intermittently faulty UPS that powers my Big Momma file server where all my user’s profiles and documents live. We had already powered the new UPS and situated next to the old one, so it was a simple matter of unplugging the server from the old one and plugging it into the new one 12 inches away.

Unfortunately, when I powered up the server, the cheery, insanely bright blue light that normally shines from the front panel to assure me that all is well (hardware-wise) was gone. In its place, there is now an angry, flashing (and still insanely bright…really, like you can’t look straight into this thing….these LEDs are out of control) orange light. There was also a matching orange light flashing spastically on one of the three SCSI drives in this machine’s RAID 5 array.

I am Jack's total hatred of moving parts.

Feel my hate. And my allergies.
The system booted normally, and gave me a message to the effect that one of the drives has failed.

So. It’s two hours later. I’m sitting here staring at the PERC configuration utility as it attempts to reconstruct the array.

Now I'm at 19%! Only 2 hours later!

This is taking for fucking ever.

Can someone tell me why computers still have moving parts? With MOTORS?? In the freaking year 2006?!?

Res Publica's World Domination Headquarters

Also, just FYI, don’t buy anything from TrippLite. They shipped us a replacement UPS right away, but neglected to mention that we will have to pay the shipping costs to return the defective unit. I have a couple of problems with this. On principle, it seems unfair to make us pay for shipping to return a defective product. Also, I’m pretty sure it won’t be cheap to ship. If you’ve never worked with an uninterruptible power supply, it’s basically a steel box full of batteries. There’s some lights and wires and shit in there too, but the point is that it’s heavy, as one would expect a steel box full of batteries to be.

My assistant had a nice long phone-fight with a customer service supervisor at TrippLite this afternoon, wherein said supervisor told my assistant that he didn’t “give a fuck” if we think we should have to pay the shipping or not.

What’s wrong with people in this country? When did everyone become such a knob?

Anyway…I’m going to go back to staring at the screen. I’m up to 20%!

Windows Vista is constantly degrading me

March 23, 2006


Microsoft’s recent announcement of (yet another) delay in the retail roll-out of Windows Vista reminded me that I never wrote anything about my adventures with the Build 5308 beta (or I guess they’re “Community Technology Previews” now) version of Vista. I probably didn’t write about it because you don’t give damn, but whatever.

I am Jack’s total lack of surprise at the most recent delay. I expected 5308 to be more or less finished, but I had severe problems keeping it running (or to be more accurate, keeping applications running on top of it). My laptop eked by the hardware requirements, so I got to play around with the Aero Glass desktop theme. I will say this: It’s beautiful. Really beautiful.

And then I’ll say this: so what? It took 5 years and like a bazillion trillion gillion dollars in development to deliver…translucent edges on the windows?

Also, the much-hyped security improvements look like a train-wreck to me. The OS may in fact be much more secure – I didn’t do any security testing beyond learning that I couldn’t get any antivirus product in the universe to install and operate in a normal manner. What I mean by “train-wreck” is that it asks your permission 98 times before doing any single little task. I mean, when I double-click on an application’s icon, I pretty much figure that’s me giving that application permission to load and run. Vista apparently does not share this assumption. And maybe that’s a good thing, but tell me this: what’s your grandma going to do the first time she clicks on something and Vista pops back with “Running this DLL as an app requires your permission.” No, I’m not kidding. The pop-up message actually said “DLL”. I can’t wait to explain dynamic link libraries to everyone I know, and then watch them glaze over as they realize how sorry they are to have asked.

Another fun thing: the “Control Panel” now has like 74 icons on it. Which is kind of neat, in that the GUI’s will give users more control of their systems. On the other hand, it’s kind of horrible, in that the GUI’s will give users more control of their (soon to be unbootable) systems.

Drivers are a serious problem at this point, but I guess that’s not entirely an indictment of the OS. It is still a beta, after all. That said, I was most displeased with the seizure-inducing screen-flashes that accompanied log-on and log-off. Also, iTunes (which you may have heard of, since one or two people use it) is somehow incompatible with the “desktop compositing” that underlies the new transparency/3-D stuff. That means that when you fire up iTunes, the desktop is dropped from Aero Glass to just plain ol’ sucky poor-people’s Aero. I wouldn’t mind that at all if it were not accompanied by several of those god-awful screen flashes.

I finally got my soundcard to work, but (???) only through the onboard speakers. Vista thought my headphone jack was an audio-in port, so no speakers or headphones for me.

After several days, my biggest disappointment came in the realization of just how little is really new in Vista. There are enough changes “under the hood” that it would be unfair to call it Windows XP SP4 or anything like that, but still…one can’t help but think of all those spiffy things that WERE going to be in Vista, until they got postponed to Windows 2098 or whatever comes next. The de-WinFS-ing of Vista was pretty sad.

Anyway…beyond the UI, I wasn’t very impressed. I mean, if they fix all the problems with it before they release it, it will be pretty spiffy. I might personally upgrade at home. But recommend that my boss spend a fat wad of taxpayer cash for upgrades at the office? I don’t think so. Especially since Windows versions are generally more like a merlot than a Beaujolais Nouveau – they benefit from a few years of aging. To my mind, Windows XP is reaching the point of being a mature, reasonably secure and stable platform that is well-understood by developers and administrators alike. I also suspect that XP fully meets the computing needs of over 80% of Windows users, especially in the business markets. I don’t envision IT shops clamoring to be the first to migrate their organizations to Vista. Many are just now starting to move to XP, and there are still a lot of Windows 2000 desktops out there.

I’m much more interested in the enterprise-level technologies in the works at Microsoft. I think Workflow Foundation is an idea that could go a long way, but that’s another post (that you won’t be interested in either).

So, now that I’ve made a short story long, here’s the creamy climax: on Monday, I reinstalled Windows XP on my laptop. Here’s hoping Microsoft makes good use of the extra time they’ve bought themselves.

P.S. The Windows Vista SideBar can kiss my big white ass. And that’s all I’m saying about that.

Ephemera, Gastronomenonological and Technophallogocentrical.

March 12, 2006

Hello, Dear Reader! We’ve been busybusybusy here at the Presidential Palace over the past few weeks, and you may rest assured that what we’ve been busy with is of no real interest to anyone. I’ve been deploying SharePoint team websites for each workgroup in my agency (and learning how to develop, deploy and administer SharePoint solutions in the process). I also managed to get my greedy little claws on a beta copy of Windows Vista, which I promptly installed on my laptop. It’s definitely a beta, and therefore occasionally goes insane, but I will say that the new UI is slick. I know, who cares, but I spend most of my waking hours looking at Windows desktops, so a little sleek-n-sexxxy newness is nice every now and again. Also, I have to say that it seems to handle video and 3D graphics a hell of a lot better than XP Pro did running on the same laptop. “Search” is everywhere, and while I think that searches and indexed metadata are probably the future of managing your crap on your computer, for those of us who have been thinking in terms of directory hierarchies since Ye Olden Tymes of DOS, it’s a little disconcerting. Although I was able to install and use Visual Studio 2005 uneventfully, SQL Express doesn’t seem to like it here. Boo hoo, it’s a beta. But then I just open up a bunch of windows and use the 3D “flip” feature to scroll through them for a while like a chimpanzee watching the Oscars. I am easily amused.

P.S., if you are a strong partisan of the “Linux is Jesus, W1nD0w$ 5uXx0r5!~!!!” camp, please keep your opinions off of my blog. I personally have no strong feelings about this debate, but a) Microsoft technologies are my entire livelihood, and b) if I wanted to listen to the endless flood of bullshit that passes for the Windows v. Linux debate, I’d go read Slashdot instead of lamely pretending to have a blog.

Anyway, on to something that interests everyone! No, not that, the other thing! Food!

I finally got my square plates, and I heart them in a big way. Alas, I am not a billionaire heiress and spinster aunt like the infamous Twisty Faster, so mine came from Target rather than William Sonoma (we thought it would be fun to be able to buy some food to put on the plates before next month). I still love them. Everything looks like restaurant food when plated on these enormous rafts of white porcelain.

Today, the First Boyfriend was off at Fiesta Texas with one of his many sisters, her husband, and their exceedingly numerous offspring. I thought about going, in the same way that I occasionally think about suicide. Chalk it up to an occasional symptom of neuroses that are fairly well-managed with medication. Returning to my senses, I spent a relaxing day at home. I cleaned the apartment, shaved my “stubble” (which was approaching full-on “beard” status, causing even my employer, long accustomed to my slovenly and unfashionable ways, to enquire if I was “okay”), took out the trash (to the patio, where it will wait for the First Boyfriend to do his conjugal duty of taking it to the dumpster for my lazy ass), and just generally puttered around.

I also watered the plants. What plants, you ask? Why Dear Reader, those few tough and lucky plants that survived my gardening holocaust last spring! Suffice it to say that the ease with which one may coax seeds into sprouting gave me an entirely unwarranted sense of confidence in my ability to keep said sprouts alive and cause them to mature into plants that I could eat (which are the only kind of plants I’m interested in). Still, a few hardly souls survived. My rosemary is positively thriving, and will only get more vigorous as our balmy spring turns into the inferno that is summer in south Texas. My cilantro and chives both keep on keepin’ on. These three are my favorites, because the manage to live through my frequent failures to water my plants for three or four days at a time, and also because they grow back quickly after I hack away huge sections of their foliage to sacrifice in the flaming volcano of my eat-hole. Several basil plants have made it to adulthood, and while I cherish their sweet, tasty leaves (especially with tomato season coming up), they don’t handle my perpetual neglect as well. Their leaves sometimes actually die, so that after I give the plants their weekly watering, the chives and cilantro simply reinflate their parched cells, whereas the basil plants sustain actual damage. On the other hand, yummy, basil!

The rest of the plants are mostly pepper bushes. I hate them all. I planted seeds from a packet containing a mix of 6 different varieties of pepper. I assumed that I’d get at least one jalapeno bush out of the deal. Alas for me. All 16 or 20 of the plants that survived bear a red, longish pepper that while lacking the grassy sprightliness of jalapenos or the fruity savor of habaneros (both of which were in the mix), are infernally hot. Now, I like hot food, but I’m not talking about tongue-burning hot. I’m talking about the kind of heat where if you chop one of these, and then wash your hands, and then one hour later go to the little boys room, you’ll notice that your weewee burns where you touched it. This will happen to you precisely once, after which you will hate this pepper forever.

Then there are a few mystery-plants who trace their origins to a pack of seeds I bought at the gift shop of the San Antonio Botanical Gardens last spring. It was supposed to contain a mixture of medicinal herbs native to south Texas. Unfortunately, I lost the paper insert that identified each plant and explained its supposed medicinal benefits. They all look like weeds, and I hate them, but I can’t bring myself to kill them. Who knows when I might need to brew an infusion of one of them to cure gout or some third-word hippie bullshit like that?


Tonight, I cooked up a fairly tasty dinner for….myself. Here’s how it went down:

I took some boneless, skinless chicken breasts (non-free-range, non-organic, the kind they sell to poor people like me) and beat the shit out of them with a rolling pin until they were uniformly thin and flat.

While I was beating the chicken like a red-headed stepchild, I had some teeny tiny red potatoes parboiling. After the chicken was flat, I drained them taters and tossed them with some kosher salt, cracked black pepper, ancho chili powder, olive oil, and a finely chopped mixture of garlic and fresh rosemary. (I grew it myself!!) I stuck them in the oven and roasted them at 350 for a while.

Next, poured some flour on a plate and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then I put a big skillet on the stove and fired it up, tossing equal quantities of butter and olive oil (“EVOO”, to quote the loathsome Rachel Ray). When the butter was nice and foamy, I dredged the abused chicken breasts in the flour and flung them into the searing fat. When they were nicely browned, I took them out and set them on a warm plate. After draining all but about a tablespoon of fat from the pan, I tossed in 3 minced shallots (okay, 1/4 of an onion, but it would have been shallots if I wasn’t such a pov), two minced cloves of garlic, about a tablespoon of minced fresh rosemary (that I grew myself!!), a pinch of crushed red pepper, and a few grinds of black pepper, and then let that saute until it was nice and fragrant. What can I say, I’m a mincing queen. HA! I kill me! Actually, Troy’s the mincing queen, but that’s another story.

Then I added a cup of low-sodium chicken broth the pan to deglaze it, and let that boil down to about a quarter-cup. Incidentally, I commend low-sodium broth to everyone, not out of some random concern for health (health is for weaklings), but because “regular” canned broth is so ass-puckeringly salty that you won’t really be able to add any salt to whatever you’re making.

So when that had cooked down, I added about an eighth-cup of balsamic vinegar and a couple of pinches of sugar, and then again let the sauce reduce to a glossy syrup. I briefly returned the chicken breasts to the pan to coat with the sauce, and then served them (to myself) with the now-deliciously-crusty roasted potatoes. Delicious! It got inserted directly in my eat-hole.

After that, it was time for dessert. Did I mention the chocolate mousse? Oh, I didn’t? Well, that brings me to another of my more recent favorite things: a little magazine called “Everyday Food”. It’s hardly new, but since I had only seen it on the same grocery-store-checkout-stand literature rack where one sees loathsome little booklets bearing titles like “Qwik-n-EZ Low-Carb Weeknight Crock-Pot Suppers”, I hadn’t ever read it. Or touched it.

Then one day, my assistant (who is constantly nattering on and on about his domestic life, “my boyfriend this” and “my boyfriend that”, etc.) mentioned that (surprise!) his boyfriend often prepared dinner with recipes from the “Everyday Food” section of the Martha Stewart website. Intrigued, I check it out, and low and behold, “Everyday Food” (in both it’s print and online incarnations) is indeed an Omnimedia production. Which makes it evil…but a different class of evil from the little cook-booklets that instruct bourgeois housefraus in the fine art of satisfying their lazy husbands and fat, hyperactive children with concoctions of ground beef and velveeta. So I subscribed, and I heart it in a big way.

The chocolate mousse recipe is from “Everyday Food” and it’s a snap. A creamy, luscious, chocolatey snap that fairly shrieks “EAT ME!”, demanding an immediate transfer from the cozy white ramekins to the acid-seared iron precincts of my belly.

Final random thought: “The Simple Life” is the most loathsome thing to ever arrive in my home via coaxial cable, and since my internet access is provided by the cable company, that’s saying something. “The Runway Project” is a close second. I can only surmise that these so-called “reality television” programs are where my fellow Americans have learned to behave like such coarse, inconsiderate, ignorant, selfish, loud-mouthed turds in public and without any shame whatsoever.

Someone posted a fairly thoughtful (if needlessly sneering) comment on my post about the Mohammed cartoon controversy, and I’ve been working on a reply to it. I’ll probably post it eventually, but don’t hold your breath. In the mean time, I will note that if you have a problem with sarcasm, hyperbole, or saying that people are being fucking babies, then you probably need to get your own blog or go read Ezra Klein or something. Sarcasm, hyperbole, and calling people fucking babies (while acting like a bunch of fucking babies ourselves) are pretty much the raisons d’etre of The Republic of Dogs. Well, that, and waging The Long War against those choads over at 3Bulls. And also making fun of Daily Kos. And…oh, fuck it, see above re: “acting like fucking babies ourselves”.
Oh, and Wednesday is The Mass of the Ides of March, which is an official federal holiday here in the Republic (on account of it being my birthday). You can find my wish list by clicking here. Just FYI.