December 2023


I am The Cyberwolfe and these are my ramblings. All original content is protected under a Creative Commons license - always ask first.
Creative Commons License

Archive for the 'Work' Category

Update – just to roll it down a smidge.

Posted in Geekery, Work on July 24th, 2007

The day after the previous post, I got a bit of a shocking email:

Someone at Symantec had seen my post, and then emailed me directly about it.

(stunned silence)

I have no delusions of grandeur here, I have seen my stats and I know that roughly 5 people ever read this blog – so I’m betting that someone in the PR dept over there must be tasked with Googling daily for bad press, and they must have showed it around the office, because I got more hits that day than I have in the past two months.

The thing is, the guy was genuinely trying to be helpful, and not once did he request that I take down the post, so I will give them an “E for Effort” in trying to resolve my issues. Of course, since I keep my professional life and my electronic alter-ego strictly separate, I had to reply in generalities, so I don’t expect to see any immediate change.

There is always hope for the next version, though.

Symantec sucks!

Posted in Geekery, Work on July 17th, 2007

Installed Backup Exec v11d for a client yetserday, after finally jumping through enough hoops to register the serial number so I could download the product. (That was a hell all on its own.)

Get everything installed, and try to run a LiveUpdate – keeps failing on the first file. I figure we just need to reboot the server one last time, so I do so and go home (it was already after 5).

Today, I run LiveUpdate again – fails on the second file. Info box says I have to restart LU – so I do. This time it sees that the 1st update downloaded, and goes straight to #2 and finishes. Fails on #3.

And again on #4

And again on #6 – with another LU restart in between each failure. Somehow, it managed to make it all the way to number 8 after this, so it starts installing the updates. Another window pops up, this time saying the BE services have stopped.


The box then brings up the BE “login to media server” box with a button for “Services”. Clicking this gets me a window with several buttons, one of which is “Start all services”. Clickety. Chug-chug-chug, click on OK. Then it makes me log back in to the media server, and of course it hasn’t saved the password. Once that goes through, it pops up 11 (ELEVEN!!) informational windows saying it restarted the various services and that I will need to reboot to finish the update.

It then goes through this same ridiculous process for EVERY FUCKING UPDATE IT INSTALLED.

And we paid how much for this barely functional piece of shit that can’t even re-start its own services or download an update without handholding?

Just shoot me.

It is high-time, apparently.

Posted in Geekery, Work on June 12th, 2007

Today’s project: retire a wheezing Netware server and replace it with a new SBS 2003 server, and toss in some new XP workstations so we can recycle the Win98 boxen.

Yep. That’s what I said, too.

Thankfully, they don’t have tons and tons of data, because it took most of the day (somewhere around 4+ hours) just to copy the data off of the old server to a workstation. Let me say that again: 4+ hours to copy over 4 gigs of data.

To contrast: when replacing the workstations, I yanked the 4GB hard drives out of the old boxen, hooked ’em up to the new XP box with an IDE-to-USB converter, and copied the drive wholesale in under ten minutes.

If only I could have done that with the Netware drives.

So as they sit right now, the new workstations are in place, the server is in place, but I haven’t configured DHCP or anything so nothing is talking yet. That will be first step tomorrow.

The really fun part is the Line-of-Business software. Installation is apparently pretty easy, but getting a hold of the vendor to find this out took all day. I started calling him at 9 this morning, and he didn’t get around to returning my call until after 6pm – which was 9pm for him, he being on the East coast. Now it’s three hours later, and I am still waiting for him to email me with the download link so I can get the updated installer and instructions.


How to solve a technical problem:

Posted in Geekery, Work on June 7th, 2007

Kill some Zombies!

Client emails us in a panic because his email server for their sub-company is down. He has no idea why, it was working fine the day before and he hasn’t been messing with it. I spend most of the day bashing away at it, can’t find the cause.

Serendipitously, Comcast finally comes through with the second feed and new IP address so we can move this project out from under the main business and onto a separate firewall. Mail is already dead, the users won’t know if we move stuff around so we go with it. I re-write all of the firewall rules in record time, (That CSSA course paid off!) and disable all the rules for this project in the main firewall. At the time, I notice something I think is a little odd, but move on. I make the changes to DNS at a quarter to five. Nothing to do now but wait and see.

Go home, scrounge some dinner, zone on some tv, splatter about 500 zombies and generally turn off. My subconscious percolates.

Just a few minutes ago, Bam! that oddness in the firewall comes back into focus and I realize one of the rules I had disabled in the main firewall was the killer. Check the mail server, and thar she blows! Email for all!

The question now is, was one of our guys mucking around in there, or was this a 1st Rule violation?

My money is on the fish.

No soup for you! Wait… email say you get soup.

Posted in Geekery, Work on May 12th, 2007

So, the CSSA class and exam last week was fun – if you like being a guinea pig. Okay, that sorta goes with being a Techie, so it really wasn’t that bad.

We were only the 4th group to go through the new course, so thankfully the instructor was one of the top Engineers from SonicWALL and had the knowledge necessary to make heads and tales out of the slide deck and course book. Whoever wrote it was not a native-born English speaker, and apparently did not know what to do with the grammar check in his office suite.

Nor was that person a CSSA, as they got a number of things just outright wrong.

The really fun bit though was good and bad. The class is normally taught using a TZ170 Wireless model firewall that you get to keep (one of the reasons the class costs $1300 is $400 worth of training hardware). This time, though, they gave out brand-new TZ180 Wireless units, which is pretty cool. The new hardware is a definite improvement over the 170 (about twice the throughput and memory as the 170), but it isn’t in full production yet. The hardware is just fine – it’s the firmware that is still in beta. The best bug we found is that if you enable the “block all” content filter, it blocks all webpages – including the login page to control the unit.


Still, even with all that going on, I thought it was a good course, but that probably has a lot to do with the instructor’s knowledge level. If you take the pre-req online courses and pay attention during the training, you should be able to pass the test – unlike me.

I missed one question too many. D’oh!!

My big problem with tests is that I read quickly, and comprehend just as fast. When taking a test, I have a habit of zooming through and usually doing pretty good. Old age, however, has apparently thrown a wrench into that because the last few tests I’ve taken I have done poorly the first time through. I’ve taken to forcing myself to take the test twice, essentially – go through it once as normal, then go back to the start and do it again to double-check my work.

I couldn’t do that this time, however, due to the nature of the test. The test code is written in such a way that once you submit your answer, there is no going back. I tried to slow down, but it just wasn’t enough. The instructor popped up a couple of times with either additional information or corrected information to a couple questions, but I had already submitted those answers and so ended up missing one too many to pass the exam. (I missed 9, but would only have missed 5 or 6 with the additional info / corrected questions.)

So, as I’m asking the instructor about setting up a re-test, he gets an email from the rest of the testing team saying they have to lower the passing grade requirements due to the problems with the course book and test questions. A passing grade is now 75%…and I had scored 76%.

Woohoo!! Saved by email!

The (brief) history of the Molly Guard

Posted in Geekery, Humor, Work on May 9th, 2007

Way back in the 80’s, IBM manufactured a large mainframe system called the 4341. This system, like many today, included an emergency power-off switch, which could be used to immediately stop power should the sprinklers go off (or some other power problem), saving the unit from destruction. This switch was quite large, very red, and a little too accessible – as proved by a programmer’s daughter (named Molly) who managed to hit the switch twice – in the same day.

A Molly Guard is now considered to be anything that covers up a Big Red Switch to prevent mishaps, but is most commonly a plexiglass cover that can be flipped up. These devices have been installed all over the world – usually after someone trips the BRS accidentally.

Such is the case with one of my former employers.

I had just transferred to a new department – we were connecting slot machines from all over the country into one central jackpot. While I was in the installation department, actually getting the games online, we worked very closely with the guys in the data center and were fairly regularly in and out of it’s lovely air-conditioned depths. (Hey, it was ‘Vegas in the summer, and sometimes the building AC got a little overloaded.)

The Big Red Switch was not right out in the open, but it wasn’t exactly hard to get to, either. Nor was it covered with a Molly Guard.

One day I was out in the field testing my latest batch of installed machines with one of the DC guys on the phone when I hear a sudden silence and then “oh shit.” Then, quite distinctly, I hear my supervisor Al say “uhm…ooops?” as every machine in three banks of games starts flashing “no link”.

Turns out Al had been in there just to BS and soak up some AC, when he got bored and started looking around, and there’s this Big Red button, just asking to be pressed… so he pressed it. (None of us were surprised that Al was the one to trip it, it was completely in character.)

We had maintenance in there inside of 20 minutes with a new plexi shield.

Install Exchange 2007 in only 60 steps!

Posted in Geekery, Work on April 3rd, 2007

Our company, being as IT-related as we are, has decided to migrate our Exchange 2003 system up to Exchange 2007 so we know what do to when our clients ask for it. Here’s how to do it:

1) Buy new server. You cannot upgrade an existing E2003 server.
2) Install OS of choice – in this case, Server 2003 Enterprise Edition 64-bit
3) Install all updates, antivirus, etc.
4) Print and read the 15-or-so pages from Technet describing the install process.
5) Read them again, damn thing is still updating.
End of Day 1
6) Join new server to domain.
7) Run dcpromo to convert to backup domain controller.
8) Watch dcpromo fail because you have to run adprep from the S2003 Ent-64 cd first.
9) Watch adprep fail because you have to run it on the Server 2003 domain controller.
10) Run adprep on the other DC…ok, it worked that time.
11) Run dcpromo on new server. Again, it worked this time.
12) Read the docs again, discuss with more experienced engineer – who doesn’t recognize any of the new terminology M$ is using either.
13) Curse M$ for the bastards they are.
14) Slot the Exchange 2007 DVD and run the installer.
15) Blow past the first three meaningless EULA screens and get to the actual install screen.
16) Steps 1-3 are to prep the server for Exchange. Step 1: install .Net 2.0. Click on Install, it bounces open IE to a download page. They had over 4Gigs worth of space on that DVD and they couldn’t include the .Net2 runtimes?
17) Download and install .Net
18) Step 2 is to install MMC – already done. Moving right along.
19) Step 3: Install PowerShell. Again, it bounces me to a download screen.
20) Download and install PowerShell.
21) Step 4: Install Exchange! Woohoo, here we go!
22) Watch installer launch the tester to see if you are ready for E2007. Watch tester throw big red X’s. Read and discover that I need to update .Net and install IIS because I forgot it. Read further about the pre-install Exchange Server Best Practice Analyzer that would have told me all of these things and possibly more – that was not mentioned in any of the docs I already read.
23) Update .Net
24) Install IIS.
25) Google search for the Analyzer and download. Double-click to install.
26) Watch as install fails: I need .Net 1.1?!!?
27) Download .Net 1.1
28) Curse M$ for the Bastards they are.
29) install .Net 1.1 – watch installer throw warning that the 64-bit version of the OS has a known issue with .Net 1.1 and I will have to type a really long command into a command shell after I install it. Save info to text file because you know that shit won’t be at the end of the install where it really should be.
End of Day 2. Read the rest of this entry »

WTF do you mean “Dear John”?

Posted in Work on March 16th, 2007

We got dumped today.

By E-Mail

One of our clients (the first one I signed up in fact) sent us an actual Dear John email to say they were canceling their contract at the end of the month. Completely out of the blue.

Yes, there had been a little friction lately, based around their backups. This friction comes from them not having a workable hardware setup and refusing to take my advice and spend $1000 for a freaking Terabyte of backup storage space. No, they want to keep using their 35GB Rev drive since they just bought it early last year.

Back when their IT staff was one guy, who was barely available. But that is another story.

This story has the CEO telling us that they will be going with another management solution. Now that I’ve thought about a couple of things, I get the feeling that the CEO is bringing his son in to replace us. So I’m feeling a little used today.

Well, good luck to Sonny Boy, because he gets two problems bang out of the gate: first, their backup still sucks, and the software they were using with our service goes away when we do. So does their off-site backup solution.

Second, their email database is running just shy of full and Daddy is the worst offender, with an inbox approaching a GB in size. I have tried convincing them to archive, but no such luck. That db is going to have to be expanded, which means it will have to be moved first, because the partition was cut too small to expand it.

And there’s the whole bit where they won’t take honest advice.

So, good luck to whoever – he’s gonna need it.

The IT House of Horrors

Posted in Humor, Work on March 12th, 2007

Coming Soon to a Town Near You!

Come inside and see the terrifying sights of a day in the life of an IT professional!

here and only here you will see such unbelievably horrible sights as this:

WinME ack


and this:

03-12-07 0856


and most terrifying of ALL!!!



Actually, that middle picture was the new home for a brand-new server I installed today – in the new rack just to the left of where I was taking that picture from. Someone certainly has their work cut out for them.

I also had one of those fun calls today – you know, the one where some dippy bitch decides to completely ignore your correct analysis (your internet is borked because $ISP is having problems – we use them too, and I am getting the same symptoms) just because one time in years gone by there was something wrong with her DNS settings and Bossman was able to fix it at the server.

You just want to reach through the phone and slap the fuck out of ’em. We can do some really impressive things with remote-control of computers these days. You know why? To keep our fishbelly-white asses out of irons due to clue-bat usage. Sure, it’s more efficient and all, but it also means I don’t have to resist the temptation to beat you with Otis (that aluminum clue-bat, for those not on TSC) like the starfish you are.

Hmm…slipping a little, aren’t I?

Posted in Geekery, Life, Work on March 5th, 2007

It’s kinda funny – I get annoyed when I go to read my favorite blogs and webcomics and discover that they haven’t updated…and I haven’t posted in forever. Time to remedy that a bit.

I feel I have now fully investigated every way in which you cannot resurrect a deleted email account. The short story is that if the computer has been nuked, and the server has deleted the account, the only way you are going to get that Exchange mailbox restored is to either spend money or time, take your pick. With a couple of software tools out there costing less than $1000, it will probably be cheaper to buy the software than it will be to build a virtual server and mount a backup of the database.

Luckily for me, I was able to log in to the original workstation, configure Outlook 2003 to launch in off-line mode, and then export the mailbox from the .ost. Un-luckily, I spent about ten hours of headache getting to that point by going at the problem the hard way. This comes from not having done it before and not having any training in the mysteries of Exchange 2003. Now, I know, and you can bet your sweet ass I won’t be walking that fucked-up road again. A bit of advice: if there is not a need, under NO circumstances will I ever delete a mailbox or profile for 30 days. And even then, I’ll wait another 30.

Cruising right along. Things are going pretty well for us here at Chez Wolfe, and I’m enjoying the peace. The Rat is working and being a good lad when he’s about, Pookie is dealing with her little bro well, and I still have The World’s Best Girlfriend. Now the “New and Improved” model, with wonderfully BLUE hair!

This is not some wimpy-ass Anime-style sky blue, either: this is deep, rich and vivid, and damn near glows in sunlight. This is definitely a WOW! color, and it looks great. A round of applause for Chop-Chop the Stylist for a job well done :)

I’ve got a little “New and Improved” going on around here as well. I managed to snag an appointment at an eye doctor last week, and then took Tolerant there Saturday to help me pick out my new specs. I have fairly simple requirements in specs – they should fit, and they should be lighter than what I have so they don’t hurt my nose by the end of the day. Tolerant came along to keep me from looking like an idiot.

The shop in question is Eyes! On Broadway and I’ll give them a little pimping because the doctor was not only thoroughly professional, he was even more of a perfectionist than I and extremely patient. They will be getting return business from me. The only bummer is that they don’t have their own lab on-site, so it will take about two weeks for them to build my new specs.

It’s hard for me to spend $375 on something and walk away from the store without it. Yeah, that’s a lot of scratch for something you don’t want scratched, but I got the transition tint and a frameless design that weighs about nuthin’. If I ever get tired of how much these ones weigh, I’ll have to either get contacts or surgery.

Considering how much time I had spent the other night in front of my CRT at home working on the aforementioned email problem and getting both stress and eyestrain headaches, I thought it would be a good idea to invest a little more in keeping my eyes from getting any worse by replacing the that large chunk of radiation.

So I dragged tWBGF with me down to Mecca and bought a flatscreen. A friggin’ HUGE flatscreen – 22″ wide format, DVI inputs, 5ms response time. And it’s bee-yoooo-tee-fulll, lemme tell ya. Two years ago, this would have cost about twice as much as it did, so I’m glad I waited until now to buy it.

I had also planned to build my Sweetie a new computer this year, but she worked hard to convince me that I shouldn’t spend that much money on something she doesn’t use that much – hers is old enough that nothing short of replacement will speed it up, but she doesn’t need all that much more power with her current usage habits. So, I’ll build me a mostly-all-new computer and rebuild the old parts into a new machine for her. After all, the motherboard is only a couple months old since I RMA’d the predecessor, and I haven’t stressed the rest of it out that much.

So, the new box will be AMD dual-core and faster, but otherwise basically the same. RAM and mobo will be replaced with the move to a socket AM2 proc, but I am staying with 2GB of memory. The DVD drive is being replaced due to it being elephantine: it won’t forget the last DVD you used until you reboot. I’m replacing the video card as well, since the move to the new display has made DarkStar One a little finicky. Just too much monitor for the card, it seems :)

I read a review from a Iraq who claims Newegg shipped his gear to him there in 7 days, so I should have mine by the end of the week. Looks like next Sunday will be spent worshiping technology :)