Monday, August 27th, 2012
One of my pet peeves is software such as Adobe’s various IE addins, that try to force upon me other browsers such as Chrome / Firefox. This mornings latest thing is that Adobe Flash Player has released an update. When I attempt to install the update, as you can see below they have decided that the default is that “Yes – I want Chrome and not only that, I must want Google Toolbar for IE”.
This type of thing is really not appropriate. For a starter, if I wanted Chrome, why would I ALSO want them to put in the Google Toolbar for IE? I use one browser only – Internet Explorer – like it or not that’s what I use. I do that because I KNOW that any patches for it will come down via my patch management systems (be it WSUS on SBS or my Kaseya system), and I’ll be patched. Why would I want to put in a third party browser that is not tied into that system for patch management? That would leave me exposed for potential backdoor security vulnerabilities which is not good practices.
Secondly, I worry about my Mum. Yup – my Mum and all the semi literate computer users out there like her. She would have no idea what this means and she’d do as instructed and install the things that she does not need. Not only that, changing her default browser to Chrome would really confuse the heck out of her and it would lead her to wonder what happened. Sorry Adobe – that’s just not right.
I wish that there was some way I could say “I’m happy with what I’ve got – just give me the updates for Flash Player that relate to IE and NEVER bother trying to force anything else onto me”… but there’s not. Maybe software vendors will get a clue and give us what we want, not what THEY think we need.
What pet peeves do you have?
Wednesday, July 4th, 2012
What scares me here, is that once you are “in the cloud” you are subject to the whims of the cloud owner and they may very well decide to change what they feel is acceptable. You will likely find out when you breach their policy and they restrict/remove service to you. Not cool. You don’t find the electricity company deciding to turn of the power to your home because you’ve decide to look at some naked women now do you? Why then should Cisco get to decide to do the same if that is something you chose to do? (Note I’m not advocating pornography here at all – just commenting on the potential things that can get you banned)
You need to be ever mindful of what you use Cloud Services for and the potential impact on your business/life should changes occur beyond your control. As always, I say assess the impact before deciding to go to the cloud. Make sure it’s the right thing for YOU to do for YOUR business. Don’t just be a lemming and follow everyone else.
Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Let me start by saying that StorageCraft ShadowProtect is not in the slightest way at fault for the story I’m about to relay. The customer who should know better is entirely at fault. Let this be a warning to users of ShadowProtect, that there are things you do not understand and you should not mess with at all.
We’ve got a client at Correct Solutions who has a number of servers in a datacentre (DC). This is an installation that we setup earlier this year and we’ve got ShadowProtect doing the backups of the virtual servers running on Hyper-V to a local location at the DC. We are using Continuous Incrementals because they are well suited to allow us to replicate the small incremental files offsite to a DR location that they have. Continuous Incrementals are cool technology because they take one base file and then smaller incrementals after that point. ImageManager is then used to roll up those small incrementals into consolidated daily, weekly and monthly images. It’s a cool system really and one I’ve used for a number of years in many client environments.
Back to this client, we have ImageManager at the DC that does the image consolidation and replication to the ShadowStream server at the remote DR location and it’s been working pretty well for a number of months. The files in the DC effectively are replicated to the remote DR site so that we can quickly bring things up should a major event happen. The client has their own IT Manager handling things on a day to day basis and so we’re called in to help when things are not working. Yesterday he called up – apparently the ShadowProtect backups are failing on the servers at the DC. We take a look at it and we find that it looks like a stack of files including the base images are missing from the DC location. We then check and find a similar (not the same) number of files are missing from the remote location. This is pretty strange as we only ever replicate the small incremental files from the DC to the DR location and if a file is deleted from the DC location it’s never automatically deleted from the DR location unless ImageManager tells it to be… in which case the files in the DC and DR locations would be identically deleted… which it was not. Ok – so that means someone or something else deleted the files… We did some further checking and could see that the client logged onto the DC servers AFTER the 9am backup and BEFORE the 10am backup… the 10am backup was the first one to fail. The client of course says he did not delete the files at all, but in passing mentions about cleaning old files… CLICK…. Yup – what he did was to look at the files in the backup folder. Below is a screenshot from one of my own servers that I’ve had using ShadowProtect since mid 2010.
You can see the file ending in SPF – it’s the first full backup of this volume – note it’s 168GB in size. The other SPI files are the incrementals or in this case the consolidated incrementals that are the rolled up incrementals for later backups. In order to restore any file from backup, you need the SPF and all the SPI files forward until today. Now – notice the time stamps on the files. The Base SPF file was created on 25th July 2010 – and has not been changed since then. The SPI files have been changed after that to incorporate the consolidation of the incrementals in accordance with the ImageManager plans that I configured. You see the –i109-cd-cm.spi file – it’s not been touched since 6th October 2010 – that’s again due to the consolidation and retention settings I’ve configured. This is all good and everything works fine.
Back to this customer… what I believe is that he saw that there were a heap of files not touched for some time and he deleted them all… ouch… that is how he broke ShadowProtect. To make it worse – he ALSO deleted them from the DR site. Naturally the client denies this entirely, but I’m pretty sure that this is what happened as ImageManager was NOT configured to delete things like the base files etc and I’ve used ImageManager enough to know it won’t mess up like that.
How do we fix it for this client? Well luckily the solution is simple… delete EVERYTHING and start again with new Base Images (SPF). Then allow those to replicate to the DR site and everything will be good. ImageManager needs to be enabled to replicate the base files, but this is a minor config change we can do. The faster way would be to grab a USB hard drive and copy the Base Images (over 300GB in this case) and then take that to the DR site to seed the DR server. We’re waiting on the clients decision for this.
Long story short – don’t mess with ShadowProtect SPF and SPI files unless you know EXACTLY what you are doing. This client has lost his entire backup history for the past 6 months as a result of what he did. ShadowProtect and ImageManager will handle things just fine for the most part if you leave them well enough alone. I hope this story can help others better understand WHY some files look like they’ve not been touched and better understand the relationship between the files.
Friday, August 12th, 2011
It used to be that if you were a car mechanic that had friends with problems with their cars asking you to “take a quick look” at their problems. It would only take a minute… but in the end you ended up spending more and more time on this “only take a minute” problem. In todays world however, it’s the IT Geek that gets this now. All too often I’ll be at a BBQ or similar gathering when people ask what I do, I tend to avoid telling them that I fix computer problems for a living. I do that because I don’t want the “can you take a quick look” scenario happening.
Long story short, people do not value the work that we do enough. They do not realise that it’s not a quick job and that our time has value.
What do you do in these situations? How do you handle them?
Check out this video below – it explains it a little more humorously than I can
Friday, July 8th, 2011
Have you ever had a call like that where the caller rings to say “I’m ringing to confirm our appointment for next Monday.” You’ve never heard of the person before, you’ve never spoken to the company and you really are not interested? Why do sales people think that this tactic will work? Are we so busy in todays world that enough people think they’ve made a mistake and go ahead and take the appointment just out of guilt?
I’m sorry – but this is just plain wrong. If you have enough time to call people like this and execute a “strategy” like this then you really are in need of serious help. Both at a business level and at a morals level.
Ok – my rant is over – surely there are better ways to get an appointment than to try to guilt someone into it?
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
This week has been an interesting week. Yesterday I walked out of a job interview we had with a potential staff member after 21 minutes. In 15 years, I’ve never done that before. I don’t know who was more surprised, Ryan, our CEO or David, our Service Manager – but the candidate certainly realised he made a mistake when I did. What did he do that was so bad?
It was at that point that I’d had enough – I walked out of the interview much to his surprise. Ryan and David persisted with him and his attitude changed and he then wanted to look at the questions again – and whilst we let him do that, he’d well and truly blown his chance.
Ok – so how about some tips on getting a job?
They are a few of my tips for the Interview process – it’s actually been over 15 years since I was on “the other side” of the desk so to speak as I’ve been running my own businesses for so long, so that gives you an idea of the things we employers are looking for. I hope this helps some of you
Saturday, May 28th, 2011
Wow.. what is the world coming too… now I have to pay $1995 USD to read a Gartner Report in which Microsoft supposedly announce that they will not continue on with ForeFront TMG aka ISA Server anymore… I would have thought that such an announcement would be made to their channel partners via a blog post or something, but no… I need to pay $1995 to see this critical piece of information. Where am I finding this out? From a fellow MVPs blog of course.
I’ve been a staunch Microsoft supporter for many years now, but the decisions and methods Microsoft are using to communicate product direction is just plain infuriating indeed. One wonders just how they continue to lead the market… oh wait… maybe they are not doing such a good job after all…
How can we partners plan our customers security infrastructures when we don’t get informed of such critical decisions as this? Do Microsoft leave us wide open and looking foolish as a result?
Microsoft / Mr Ballmer – please wake up… please involve your channel partners in your direction. Please don’t continue this solitary march to everything cloud in the belief it is the solution to the worlds problems… it’s not. You are not… and I worry that you will wake up too late to that realisation.
Friday, January 21st, 2011
I moved into a new home a few months back, and when I went to get power and gas connected, I called AGL first. I called them because the power companies queue was too long and so I figured I’d get the gas connected first. While talking to the very helpful AGL customer service rep, she asked me if I had organised the power yet – No – I had not – so she said “We can do that and give you a discount too”. I figured power was much of a muchness and thought – sure – why not – hook me up. I figured I’d get one bill from one company and it would all be great. I knew AGL didn’t do electricity themselves and knew it was coming from a third party company. It came time to move into the house and I found that power and gas were connected on the day in question – cool – very happy with that. That was 2 months ago. This morning I got a call from my alarm company – the power was off at home. Ok – I was in the area so I figured I’d drop by in an hour to check out what was up. When I got home, I found that power was off to my home only and none of the others in the complex… strange I thought.
I called the faults line for the electricity company and they told me that they had no record of power being connected to my address The helpful lady asked for more of my story, which I told her. She said she had a suspicion as to what was up and asked me to go to the meter box and get the meter number. Gave that to her and she said – oh that’s not your address… that’s such n such address – I said No… I’m standing right here – I am pretty sure I know where I am. She told me she could not help me further though and I had to go to the upstream biller – AGL to get things sorted. Grrrrr.
Called AGL – explain to them and they tell me that my address is wrong… Funny I say to them – I’m right here and the mail gets delivered right here, so HOW CAN IT BE WRONG! I relay the info to them that Integral Energy had told me and they go away for 5 minutes while I’m on hold. They come back and tell me that they “might” be able to get my power back on. They tell me that my address is wrong. GRRR – you can google my address and it shows me here… how can that be wrong? Anyway.. nothing more I can do so I head into the office. Oh they also tell me if it does not come on today, then it will not be on till Monday. No – nothing they can do about it because it’s Integrals fault. Hey – I’m the customer here – I don’t care that YOU messed up, it’s me that’s paying for it. I spoke to a supervisor and he told me that no – there’s no need for compensation, it was a simple mistake on their part, but hey… get over it. Well not exactly those words, but that’s the feeling I left with. He gave me the email address for complaints though which I intend to use.
I arrived home tonight not knowing if I will have power or not. Luckily – I do.
So if you decide to get your electricity through AGL or any other upstream provider, triple check things. I’ll be calling Integral next week to verify my address etc is correct in case I ever need to report a fault in future.
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
Microsoft decided not to offer any upgrade pricing for Office 2010. This to me reeks of arrogance. We often had clients that would like to purchase their Office licensing via OEM channels – as this gives them the ability to purchase office at the lowest possible price. Then later once a new version comes out, if the client deems the business value high enough they have been able to purchase an upgrade for the specific machines that they wish to upgrade to the latest version. However in their latest decision, Microsoft have basically said no more. No more upgrade. The only way people can get a cheap version of Office 2010 is if you’ve been subscribing to Software Assurance. That means you will have needed to buy into the Microsoft vision for future product development well before you see the product. It’s like insurance except you don’t know what you will get or how well it will work for your business until it’s there. Oh and if the product you get is not what you need or they change the product in some way that is not good for your business then too bad… you already paid your money.
Microsoft. Listen up. When you do things like this you really show that you are not listening to the needs of our clients. You give cause to things like GoogleApps thinking they will own the world. Unfortunately they are even worse than you. I would not trust or recommend GoogleApps to any of my clients, and that means right now the only REAL alternative is to pay full price for Office 2010. I don’t like it, but believe me – when there is another decent alternative… I’ll be moving to it. Keep on doing what you are doing and you will find that we’ve all jumped ship to other products. You’ve been told about this for many a year now, but it fails to sink in.
Monday, April 26th, 2010
Many websites are designed to allow for multiple languages. They often will detect where in the world you are and adjust the language settings to suit that aspect of it. I had not thought too much about it until now. I’ve been in Taipei, Taiwan for the last week and I’ve attempted to use some common sites to do various things. I’ve found that many of the sites all default to Chinese language and some of them do not make it easy for you to change it to your native language – in my case English. here’s what YouTube looks like from Taiwan. No where on the page, no matter what link I clicked on, could I change it to English – this made the site unusable to me which was a real pain in the rear.
I tried to hover over various links and then see what URL they linked to in the hope that I could change the language to English – but without luck. In the end I gave up and will post my videos once I get home tomorrow. I did like Trends method though. When I entered www.trendmicro.com into my URL bar in IE, it gave me the Taiwanese site by default, but it also listed the Country in the top right corner of the screen. I found that when I hovered over it, the site showed me in English a list of all sites in the world – therefore it allowed me to quickly change to the US or Australian English site.