Keep in mind where you’ve been, and where you’re headed

Posted in Life and Philosophy on October 20th, 2007 by chris – Be the first to comment

The Shoe Event Horizon is now a firmly established and rather sad economic phenomenon which, in future times will be taught as part of the basic Middle School Life, the Universe, and Everything syllabus. …

TEACHER: Stand up! Harsh Economic Truths, Class 17. You are standing up?
T: Good. You are living in an exciting, go-ahead civilization. Where are you looking?
S: Up.
T: What do you see?
S: The open sky, the stars, an infinite horizon.
T: Correct… You are living in a stagnant, declining civilization. Where are you looking?
S: Down.
T: What do you see?
S: My shoes.
T: Correct. What do you do to cheer yourself up?
S: I buy a new pair.
T: Correct! Now, imagine everyone does the same thing… everyone buys new shoes, what happens?
S: More shoes.
T: And?
S: More shoe shops.
T: Correct… and in order to support all these extra shoe shops, what happens?
S: Everyone must keep buying shoes.
T: And how is that arranged?
S: Manufacturers dictate more and more different fashions of and make shoes so badly that they either hurt the feet or fall apart.
T: So that?
S: Everyone has to buy more shoes.
T: Until?
S: Until… everyone gets fed-up with lousy, rotten shoes.
T: And then what?
S: Massive capital investment by the manufacturers to try and make people buy the shoes.
T: Which means?
S: More shoe shops.
T: And then we reach what point?
S: The Shoe Event Horizon! The whole economy overbalances. Shoe shops outnumber every other kind of shop. It becomes economically impossible to build anything other than shoe shops.
T: Now, what’s the final stage?
S: Um… every shop in the world becomes a shoe shop.
T: Full of?
S: Shoes no one can wear.
T: Result?
S: Famine, collapse, and ruin. Any survivors eventually evolve into birds and never put their feet on the ground again.
T: Excellent! End of lesson.

Email Branching – It’s time to put an end to the madness

Posted in Computers on October 17th, 2007 by chris – Be the first to comment

One pet peeve of mine that has been increasing over time is when an email is sent with all the various information and someone in the list of people that received it decides to respond to the second or third latest to the chain, thus throwing the flow of the conversation out the window. I’m not sure if this is a common practice in a lot of companies, or maybe only specific types of people, but I would be curious for someone to comment on this and explain what they see. For example and generally what I’ve seen, let’s say an email went out involving four people for either a specification requirement, questions on a project, issue that came up, or anything. I’ll try and break this down so its easier to follow

  1. Initial email sent from chris to adam, stacey, jamal
  2. adam responds to chris, stacey, jamal
  3. chris responsds to adam, stacey, jamal
    1. stacey responds to only chris because she forgets to reply to all
    2. jamal responds to adam’s email from bullet 2, completely ignoring chris’ email from bullet 3
  4. chris responds to stacey’s email reincluding adam, and jamal. chris also answers the question from jamal since adam is a tool and will only forward it on to someone else anyhow
  5. chris finds out more info and responds to his own email still including adam, stacey, jamal — at this point we’re about back on track and the previous email is kept so nothing is missed
  6. jamal, as if he’s living in the past, sends another email replying to bullet 2, not the email he already sent to bullet 2, to adam, chris, stacey and now also includes jessica

More often than not, say 7/10 times, it goes further downhill from there. If an attachment becomes involved then it turns into a disaster, without fail. I can understand that people get a fair amount of email but this is senseless. I sometimes wonder if those people do it deliberately so if something gets screwed up they can blame it on some “miscommunication” in the email to cover their ass.

Much like source control I wish there was an option to require the server to not allow and email to send if there is a more recent version. This would probably be easier to accomplish if this was all on the same domain email server but I’m not here to work out the technical details at the time. If people followed a few basic rules to emailing conversations would take less time and be more meaningful. I think those include:

  1. Always respond to the latest email, even if you sent the previous one. Send a follow up response to that so the entire chain is kept in tact.
  2. Make sure to include everyone that should be on the email. But if you’re going to send a response that should be private then make sure you choose the right button. I’ve seen it happen.
  3. In the case of files, have a share on a type of file server with a version scheme in the name of the document. In this case if it does need to be emailed the version can be referenced instead of something abstract such as “from the email titled ‘newest doc’”. I’ve seen this happen too.

Am I asking too much? Is it out of line? Thought of a way to have people to follow rules? Let me know.

Installing a New Keyboard – Part 1

Posted in Computers on October 16th, 2007 by chris – 1 Comment

Couple months back I picked up a new Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 keyboard to replace my current one. I’ve used it at work for quite a while and thought it would be a good replacement. Being familiar with technology and having assembled a few computers over the years I didn’t give installing it a seconds thought. I figured “great, it gets in tomorrow so I’ll plug it in and start using it.” Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

First off I’m quite fond of my current keyboard (pic to come). I received it as a Christmas present from my brother in 2004. It’s a completely modified Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite with a Half-Life 2 theme, the game was released about a month and a half before hand. You maybe not be able to tell from the picture but each of the keys are the actual keys that came with the keyboard each being modified with the sides being cut off individually. The rust color is also a paint type mixture over the silver and yellow, and on top of them are numerous layers of a lacquer coating which I somehow managed to wear off in a few places. My reason for replacing it is because, quite simply, I wear the hell out of my computer gear. I couldn’t even guess how much I’ve typed on this during the past few years. In addition to the paint beginning to wear in a few places a few of the common letters such as the vowels, backspace, and space bar are jamming. This makes for a consensus stream of typing semi-frustrating at times. I suppose it could be related to cruising around a bumper-car track and suddenly getting it from the front. – a very abrupt stop. It’s not quite at the point of being retired but it is time for it to be moved to another spot where it won’t receive as much use. So, what’s all the fuss about installing the new one?

I’m running a Dell Latitude D620 with Windows XP SP2. The laptop actually came with Vista but since it’s used for a lot of development, and I’m not about to put up with the various Vista issues, and since I had an XP license I decided to format it and install XP. It has a couple usb ports on the back and the side, and since I prefer running dual screen I also have a docking station I connect it up with at home. I have a run of the mill Logitech usbmouse and the aforementioned keyboard is ps/2. For some reason I wasn’t able to get the mouse working in the docking station and since I needed to get some things done I just haven’t looked into it enough and plugged it into the side usb right into the laptop. Worked like a charm. I later purchase the new keyboard and go to install it…device not found. It sees I plugged in a usb type device, but it is unable to detect it as a keyboard. I manually add the device and repeat the process attempted at the assorted drivers. By this time I’ve also installed the Microsoft Keyboard software and driver. I’ve tried at countless combinations with reboots and different usb ports with all of the same result. The message that’s displayed after it attempts to detect the device is

The hardware was not installed because the wizard cannot find the necessary software.

Then checking the Device Manager there is a usb device that isn’t found. The device status reads:

This device is not configured correctly. (Code 1)

Which after searching for some time on google find it may have to do with an IRQ conflict. At this point I’m confused for a couple reasons:

  1. How is it a keyboard can cause such a conflict?
  2. Why do other usb devices (mouse, thumb drive, camera, ipod, phone) work just fine?

For those who may be wondering if the keyboard may be broken, it’s been tested on two desktops and another dell laptop. I also checked the driver it uses on the desktops and its the same general hid device driver which I tried on my laptop.

As a side issue with this, I think the problems I have with using the docking station’s usb ports are along the same lines. When it’s in the dock I see an additional unknown usb device with the device status showing:

This device is not configured correctly. (Code 28)

I haven’t looked into this as deeply but since I was focusing on the other. At this point after a friends suggestion I’ll probably end up backing up the laptop, with ghost or another utility, and install a clean build on it and see what happens. We suspect it may have to do with the various dell drivers that need to be installed since there is a EVDO modem and bluetooth in addition to the modem and network card. I’ll definitely post an update but if there are any thoughts or suggestions let me know.

Who moved my…website?

Posted in Computers on October 13th, 2007 by chris – Be the first to comment

Since I began thinking about starting a blog, about a week and a half ago, I’m finding more and more things related to them and RSS that I haven’t paid much attention too. What comes to mind at the moment are things like the feature’s I’ve seen in WordPress from the ease of adding a new post and category and it’s nice little additions such as the change notifications at the top and how something new is highlighted then faded out. RSS has come a long way too from the amount of feeds out there, advertisements in them, and the many readers out there to aggregate all of them for someone. On a quick side note I’m testing out one called GreatNews right now which is shaping up to be pretty nice, but more about that in another post.

For the past several years I’ve been spending time with technology and business but in a different realm. It has been focused much more on bringing them together with a business logic and backend kind of administration. I’ve also been involved with building, and in part creating, numerous websites and while I have the knowledge to programmatically built it I feel that I’m somewhat out of touch with some of the present day concepts around what comprises a useful traffic generating site. But it’s not to late to change my ways and get back up to speed, never too late to learn or change. I’m in fact encouraged that I am becoming more exposed to these and think they will be of good use both for my own blog and professionally. If you can’t tell from the title of this post I’m reminded of a book by Spencer Johnson, but instead of cheese I think it’s my website.

VMWare: Watch out for those snapshots

Posted in Computers on October 12th, 2007 by chris – 1 Comment

I consider myself to be fairly cautious when implementing a new server level application, especially so for the level in which ESX runs and how much depends on it to be stable. Something escaped my attention, or perhaps it wasn’t talked about much in the docs I read. Either way it’s too late now and I’m not about to dig through all of those pdf’s to see if I missed it.The ESX 3.0 server was setup just over a year ago and from my previous trials with ESX, and VMWare’s other virtualization products, snapshots have been fantastic and the ability to revert to them in various scenarios such as if a recent OS/Application patch went sour saved a lot of time for peoples. Unfortunately I forgot the saying “if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is”, and such is the case it turns out with the snapshot.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve noticed that the space in the datastore was decreasing at a more accelerated rate then usual. Peeking my curiosity I poke around and with a recent influx in data I contributed it to that, but I didn’t tally precise number to see if they balanced. Being a busy time and a lot to do I took it for what it was and moved on. A couple days later I wake up to one of the virtual machines no longer being accessible and checking the datastore again I see it dropped over 30gb’s during those couple days and reduced the free space down to 2mb. I’m surprised, confused, and aggravated that a machine went down. I’m sure many admin’s have experienced this at one point or another. By either browsing the to virtual machine’s folder in the service console or through browsing the datastore when you right click it by looking for files with the word “delta” in them will indicate if they are from a snapshot. I no longer have the exact error message that was displayed at that point but I was given the option to “Retry” or “Abort”. I clicked retry and then was faced with:

There is no more space for the redo log of ComputerName-000002.vmdk. You maybe be able to continue this session by freeing disk space on the relevant partition, and clicking Retry. Otherwise click Abort to terminate this session.

I proceed to run various commands in both the console and virtual client to work the problem. One of the threads in vmware communities that came up more than once in the searches is I’ve tried various suggestions in there and I think some additional ones as well. I first tried to remove the snapshot that was in the snapshot manager (this was by clicking delete and not delete all) and after several hours of processing it removed the snapshot from the gui but the vmdk files were certainly still there. After which I tried:

vmware-cmd <cfg> hassnapshot
hassnapshot() =

Yes, thats a blank. For whatever reason it wasn’t detecting that any snapshot exists even though there are numerous delta files in the virtual machines directory. I then proceeded to create a snapshot in the snapshot manager and then delete it, this time with delete all. Still no luck, they were all still there. I continued by removing the vm from the inventory (not from the drive! – be careful there, there’s a big difference) and re-added it. No dice. With the outlook becoming more gloomy I tried creating the snapshot in the service console with:

vmware-cmd <cfg> createsnapshot <name of snapshot>

and was returned with the error of

VMControl error -11: No such virtual machine

I checked the path then checked it again, it was correct. I searched around google for a while too and didn’t find anything helpful with the message. I was thinking that it may have been a somewhat generic message that could have meant several things.

In the end I have resorted to removing a vm that was recently built to clear up enough space to boot it, and thankfully it has not been configured yet so not much time gone there, and remove the data from the vm so it can be completely removed to be removed and a fresh vm built. This particular server was used as storage for the network and to hold backups so I am thankful there isn’t much configuration that needs to occur once it’s rebuilt. I thought as the data was transferring, all 75gb or so, that I would write this article up. There sure is a lesson learned here – regardless of how much you may trust a piece of software to work right, it can always turn on you. This goes for the mac users out there too.

On a side note, the <cfg> tag’s above is a common abbreviation used in VMWare’s documentation which corresponds to the full path and file name of the vmx file. For example, in this scenario mine is similar to:


Millions of bloggers can’t be wrong, or can they?

Posted in Life and Philosophy on October 9th, 2007 by chris – 2 Comments

I’ve changed my opinion about blogs gradually since when they first came around, to the point now of starting this blog, my first. Despite when first reading about them and how it was the new thing of the internet several years ago my initial thought was they had some positive sides but generally kind of silly. My impression at the time was that the people who could contribute helpful knowledge or insight would be lost in the flood of pop interest to the likes of entertainment weekly or what is comprised of myspace. However, I judged a bit too quick.

Over time I have found a lot of useful information on various blogs on various topics. I’m also glad to see in this case I was a bit wrong and there are good ones out there. Since they’re here to stay, at least for quite a while I now think, I figured I’d give it a shot and see how I like it.

I suppose it’s partly my way to give back to the internet after taking so much from it. I’ll most likely also keep various notes on here of things I’ve found, done, read, or find interesting for my own future reference. With this at least it will be useful to me if no one else, but if others can find something good on here then I would be happy to hear about it.

As to how much I’ll get into this or find it good in the end for me I’m not sure. I think I’ll keep it going for several months, let’s say till the end of the year, and review again on what I think about maintaining one.