WordPress 3.0 upgrade complete. Apparently my hand-crafted theme still works, although I’m going to experiment a little with some of the new themes and maybe drop it…
We’ve been having summer temperatures in May, and my drive temperatures were edging up, so I shutdown the server, blowed all of the dust out, and powered it up again:
The discontinuity in the graph shows a nice 4-5 degree temperature drop, just by removing dust from the fans, case openings, and the surfaces of the drives themselves. Cool! I guess I have to do the same thing to the backup server now…
I have about 10 pages of links waiting to be dealt with (including blogging here). I spent most of January dealing with priority interrupts instead of anything on my TODO list. March is our fiscal year-end, so we’re scrambling to get stuff done before Wednesday.
That’s why it’s so quiet around here lately :)
Back in June I mentioned that I had a 4-month contract at UHN. Four months was up just over a week ago. My bosses decided to offer me a permanent position instead of extending my contract! So, I have a full-time job again! Woohoo!
So it appears that during rush hour google traffic isn’t any better than the service that comes with my Garmin GPS, which is to say it’s usually out of date. However, google reports traffic for more places than the GPS, and they report on weekends. I’ll have to keep checking both for now.
Google Maps has traffic data for Toronto! woohoo! It even appears in the map display on the iPhone!
Now I can see if it is any more accurate, or updates more often, than my (redacted) Garmin GPS unit…
Quotation of the Day for September 17, 2009
“Managers may truly believe that, without their unremitting efforts, all work would quickly grind to a halt. That is not my impression. While I encountered some cynics and plenty of people who had learned to budget their energy, I never met an actual slacker or, for that matter, a drug addict or thief. On the contrary, I was amazed and sometimes saddened by the pride people took in jobs that rewarded them so meagerly, either in wages or in recognition. Often, in fact, these people experienced management as an obstacle to getting the job done as it should be done. Waitresses chafed at managers’ stinginess toward the customers; housecleaners resented the time constraints that sometimes made them cut corners; retail workers wanted the floor to be beautiful, not cluttered with excess stock as management required. Left to themselves, they devised systems of cooperation and work sharing; when there was a crisis, they rose to it. In fact, it was often hard to see what the function of management was, other than to exact obeisance.”
- Barbara Ehrenreich, in Nickel and Dimed.
Submitted by: Chris Doherty
Aug. 25, 2009
(via the Quotation of the Day mailing list).
- I’ve been at UHN for a month now. It’s been a bit of work coming up to speed on the projects, but I’m being effective, which is what counts. Besides, it’s fun!
- The kids have both been away to, and returned from, two week camp excursions, and both want to go on longer trips next year! They grow up so fast…
- Twitter and Facebook have pretty much replaced this weblog for day-to-day stuff, unfortunately. I’m not happy about that; I prefer having my “stuff” under my own control. Alas, they make it too easy to use, especially now that a) I have an iPhone, and b) I’m behind a nanny-state web filter during the day.
- I haven’t even picked up a camera in about 3 months, which makes it difficult to justify shopping for one. I think I’ve convinced myself to buy more glass instead of another body, anyway.
- Did I mention I have an iPhone now?
That’s it; see you in another month or so :)
The last few months have been a bit of a roller coaster ride; the next few will prove to be one also (although very different; wooden vs. steel, maybe? anyway…)
The Monday after the Century Cruise (back in February) my boss called to inform me that HP was placing me in their Work Force Redeployment program, which gave me four weeks to find another job, after which I would be placed in the Work Force Reduction program. There were no other useful jobs in Toronto (not even over at EDS), and so at the end of March I became an ex-employee of HP.
It took all of April for me to process this change. Rock Band 2 helped quite a bit! In May I started attending seminars and clinics at Knightsbridge, to work on my networking skills, update my resume, and so on. In the middle of that process (and before I actually finished polishing the resume), I found out about a 1-year contract position working for Irving at the University Health Network. I actually started yesterday, but my contract wasn’t completely signed until today, and somewhere in the last couple of weeks it became a 4-month engagement with a promise of an extension, but that’s Ontario politics that you can read all about in the media, so I won’t repeat it here.
Still, I have an income again, and I’m getting out of the house (which is the more important of the two; working at home for the long term isn’t healthy for me). The projects I’m going to be working on sound very interesting, and the people here are wonderful!
My son had the fastest computer, with a PCI Express slot. I had the slightly slower computer, with an AGP slot. I needed to install a graphics card that would let me run two DVI-D displays, and the only AGP cards I could find were quite expensive, so I decided to swap computers. (The fast computer was originally supposed to replace the shared family computer, but I didn’t finish installing/upgrading it before my son took it over :).
To make matters more complicated, my desktop had IDE drives and his had SATA drives. A simple drive swap wasn’t going to work; his SATA motherboard only had one IDE connector, and it was already full with two CD/DVD drives. I was going to have to swap the OS images between the two harddrives. I had recently read about Clonezilla, and decided to try it. I started by testing cloning to a VirtualBox VM, to make sure I could use the image after cloning. VirtualBox lets me attach disk images as either IDE or SATA, which definitely helped my testing.
My capsule review is that Clonezilla works well and is very flexible, but way too complicated. Fortunately I’m a sophisticated Linux guy, so the complexity wasn’t a barrier, but I wouldn’t recommend it to my father-in-law, for example. I’m loving VirtualBox, btw; I run it on a server, so I can’t use the fancy GUI for configuration, but the command line is adequate and the ability to use remote desktop to access the console is excellent.
The other item that saved me was Changing a Motherboard or Moving a Hard Drive with XP Installed. There are three basic options described there: 1) use the Windows Upgrade procedure before swapping, 2) perform a Repair after the swap, and 3) fiddle with the disk controller drivers in the Device Manager before the swap. My Windows disks don’t have the Upgrade option, so that was out. I then tried the Repair option, but it took over 3 hours (after the 90 minutes of image copying); way too slow (and I would have needed to re-install SP3 and other patches later, too!).
Fortunately, option 3 worked perfectly for me. I’ve reproduced it here:
Before you swap out the current motherboard go to device manager and select the IDE ATA/ATAPI Controller and select your current storage controller. Right click, select update driver and select install from a list or specific location. Click don’t search I will choose the driver to install and select the standard dual channel IDE controller.
This will prevent the inaccessible boot device blue screen.
With this method, booting the first time with the new motherboard should be done in Safe mode. XP will install the drivers it needs and you can install the new motherboard drivers. I would suggest accessing the motherboard web site to get the latest drivers and bios updates rather than use the CD media included with the MB. The CD is usually a couple of revisions behind the latest updates.
Both images worked perfectly (and quickly!) after this tweak. I was able to boot both OS images on the new systems, install all of the appropriate drivers for the new hardware, clean up the device manager, and now everything is as good as new. We’ve been running with swapped hardware for a couple of weeks now with no apparent problems.
Alas, after all this, we discovered that the on-board graphics on my old desktop were too slow to run a couple of his games; because that machine was originally intended as a business class machine, it had crappy graphics (worse than our other 5+ year old desktop!). So I’ve had to buy a graphics card for him anyway, but I was still able to save. I found him an older AGP card (with DVI-I, VGA, and TV-out instead of Dual DVI-I).
The Kindness of Strangers
When I was growing up, children were commonly taught: “dont talk to strangers.” Strangers might be bad, we were told, so its prudent to steer clear of them.
As it turns out, this is profoundly bad advice. Most people are honest, kind, and generous, especially when someone asks them for help. If a small child is in trouble, the smartest thing he can do is find a nice-looking stranger and talk to him.
The advice in each of these paragraphs may seem to contradict each other, but they dont. The difference is that in the second instance, the child is choosing which stranger to talk to. Given that the overwhelming majority of people will help, the child is likely to get help if he chooses a random stranger. But if a stranger comes up to a child and talks to him or her, its not a random choice. Its more likely, although still unlikely, that the stranger is up to no good.
Charlotte has a Facebook account.
I’m still trying to decide if this is a sign of the Apocalypse or not…
February seems to have vanished completely, as my last post was on January 29th. Ah well, it’s a deformed month, with the missing three days bit; February don’t get no respect!
Oh ya, I went on a cruise with 16 other people; planning, packing, and executing ate my brain. Then I came back to news that most of you have heard by now, and now it’s March…
My employer uses payroll company A. My wife’s uses payroll company B.
Payroll company A sends me my pay stubs via epost.ca, Canada’s electronic bill presentation system. This is the same system that I use for all of my electronic billing, and the one that is linked to my online banking. In short, my pay stubs are in my normal document processing flow, just like they used to be in the paper mail world.
Payroll company B has their own separate website where I can view and download pay stubs. While the website generates PDFs, they look nothing like the paper versions (a strange choice, since now they have two output formats to maintain). The website has all the usual usability issues, that I won’t go into here.
Guess which company I’d prefer to do business with? :-)
Take a new computer and install Windows XP. Connect it to the Internet to download service packs and other patches. Before you have finished downloading and installing, your computer will have been hacked. There are so many automated probes running that you’re almost 100% sure to be infected by one of them. Researchers do this all the time with honeypots, to find out what payloads are currently in the wild.
I had installed a new Windows 2003 Server, had finished downloading and installing SP2, and was in the middle of downloading and installing the 51 patches released since, when IT Security hacked into the server and shut it down (disabling TCP/IP and the boot, of course)…
And what a way to come back to work it was!
Over the holidays, IT security used the Windows RPC flaw to “break in” to all of my Windows servers. The payload disabled TCP/IP in the registry, and modified the boot.ini to disable system startup. I spent today manually booting servers one by one and re-enabling TCP/IP, so that I could download and install the required patches. I am extremely glad that I have remote consoles on all of my servers, or I would have had to make the long trek out to Mississauga to fix everything!
The important servers are back up, but I probably have another day of this before everything’s back to normal. Ugh…
Christmas dinner was another success; Micki out-cooked herself once again!
Charlotte has recently become addicted to Food TV, and she and I have been watching Chef at Home. We decided to make a smoked salmon appetizer and a triple-chocolate dessert, along with our usual dinner rolls. It was a lot of work (especially the milk chocolate bowls!), and Charlotte carried the lion’s share, especially after I injured my hand. We pulled it off; granny was heard this morning proudly telling a friend about Charlotte’s dinner rolls and dark chocolate mousse dessert!
Merry Christmas, everyone!
We closed the door in the office this morning for a party, to keep the kids out:
(The line at the bottom is the drive in the PVR, which is in the family room :-).
One of my computers managed to get itself infected with that evil Trojan that keeps popping up the “Warning! Your Computer May Be Infected!” window, to convince you to download and install more nefariously evil software.
I’ve spent the last hour cleaning it with various utilities; they’re starting to report “0 infections” now.