Technical News and Views from a hole in the ground: 2008
TimeLine 2008: page edited: Friday, October 16, 2009
Time Line Base

Separate page about the Fujitsu, eBay, GreatDeals00 charade
January 1st., 2008: Searching for 21" CRT monitors. Three are needed, and one is a replacement for the mis-coloured Hewlett Packard Ultra VGA 1600: long name for a faulty box. No real hurry, because I don't know when the Dell 650 Precision is to be removed from Computer Supply House. This is still the holiday season, and I need to spend on other people, not just on myself. What, selfishness is lacking, eh?

The problems with the local network domain seem to be at an end: only one computer has need of the ASR operation. That is the white box, Oxford, that won't accept floppies into its A: drive. I will have to determine what's wrong there. Firstly, however, I need to install casters on the primitive box that it and the ML570 stand upon, and with at least 250lb of books contained on the shelves. That will help me work with the computers, because the ML570 has serious weight. It's not easy turning it on its side to open the case but it's much easier to work with the constituent parts when it's in that position. With space constraints in this room demanding alleviation, then a movable "table" will certainly help, but the casters need to be heavy duty. I shall go down to Preston Hardware: their stock is excellent, and I can trust them for quality.

The ML570 G Server, now the sole DC in the network, is to have a new adapter. Having gained an U320 LSI adapter on eBay, which is in transit, I am trying, from the service manual pdf, to find out if the cables will need to be replaced to suit the requirements. There is little that is mentioned about the yellow and blue SCSI cables that attach to the drive cages. One thing that I must do is back up all of the drives installed in the cages, whether RAID arrays or JBODs. I don't know whether the adapter will import designations made under the currently installed Adaptec 3200s controller. That will be removed and kept as a spare until needed elsewhere: the network slowly grows, and RAID arrays are needed for reliable storage.

Thursday, January 3rd., 2008: I realised that the A: drive connector on Oxford was probably reversed. That was easily fixed after I took under an hour to put casters on the wooden support box and replace Uncle Tom Cobley. Moving the book/computer 'stand' is now easier than it was, although there is serious weight involved.

However, XP Pro on the white box, Oxford, gave me page file errors and refused to start. Windows almost started and immediately closed down to reboot without allowing one to capture the screen or have time to read it. Shutting down and swapping all of the memory sticks cured that, and now I am performing an ASR on Oxford whilst I write this. Microsoft requested a report on a major start up fault. What it offered as a reason was inapplicable, so I told them what had happened and how I fixed it. Why not? Some people refuse to advise Microsoft, but then wonder why they can't find a cure later.

Friday, January 4th., 2008: GreatDeals00 indeed. The last two zeros imply something. Yet another 147GB U320 drive is giving me problems. I have bought too many drives to be fooled by thinking that the failure rate of this vendor's goods is normal. Four of eighteen of this capacity have now failed. Given my experiences with other drives, of all types, whatever this dealer is selling are fake goods.

Here is the email I sent to GreatDeals00 today:
The first two paragraphs are taken from the advertisement on eBay for a typical sales pitch by the vendor:

Best Deals Anywhere welcomes you our ebay store. We offer low prices with great quality products everyday. All auctions start at .01 and we have new products coming in daily. We are one of Ebays top sellers so you can bid with confidence each and every time. We have served over 200,000 customers and counting.

If you have any questions, you are welcome to email our customer service at sales@greatdeals00.com. We pride ourselves on offering the best products and service possible.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here is my statement 

The above is taken from your ungrammatical blurb contained in an offer for a Fujitsu 147GB U320 drive selling today.

Yet another of the eighteen drives of this capacity that I have bought from your store has now failed. This makes five when one includes the replacement drive that never worked.

Your advertisement states that you are selling Fujitsu trade-marked drives. Small print states that they are refurbished.
You never mention that they contain a re-engineered BIOS that never allows Fujitsu to appear, and that the labels never state Fujitsu.

It is clear from the amount of goods sold by you that people are being scammed. That the feedback states how happy they are is ridiculous: they can have no idea what they are buying.

It is also clear that eBay profits from your sales, and are in collusion since their Rules for Listings include these two categories: keyword spamming and misleading titles. You are in clear violation of said rulings.

This email is being copied to several other interested parties. I will continue to pursue this matter until you admit your wrongdoing and provide me with replacements of the quality that your advertisements claim.

Sincerely,
Paul Dickins

End of email

I had, late last year, approached eBay: their statement that anything they do must be kept private, given that this vendor's drives constitute a significant proportion of all of the U320 drives sold within their structure, means that the money they make from him clouds their thinking. The problem is serious: I cannot afford to have drives fail like this, for any reason.

Here is the email sent to me by eBay after my complaint:

Subject: LP62825 Your recent email to eBays Trust and Safety Department (KMM277117862V53246L0KM) Received: Dec-18-07
From: eBay Customer Support Expires: Jan-17-08
 
Dear eBay member,
Thank you for your report.

We will thoroughly review the listings you have reported for violations
of eBay policy. We sincerely appreciate your efforts to report such
listings or posts to us.

Please keep in mind that account information is confidential. Therefore,
whatever action we may take will be between eBay and the seller. We will
not be able to keep you abreast of any developments
.(my emphasis) If we determine
that the listing does violate policy, we may choose to: 

- send the seller an informational alert;
- remove the listing or post; or
- suspend the seller.

Account suspensions are usually reserved for those sellers that
continuously disregard policy.

If you would like to review other Listing Policies, please visit:
http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/listing-ov.html

To report any other listing violation, please visit the link below:
http://pages.ebay.com/help/contact_us/_base/index_selection.html

We appreciate your concerns and we thank you for helping to keep eBay a
safe and reputable forum in which to conduct business.

Sincerely,
eBay Customer Support
_____________________________________________

Whether you're new to eBay or an experienced buyer and seller, the eBay
Security & Resolution Center can help you protect yourself on eBay and
online. For more information, please click the "Security Center" link at
the bottom of most eBay pages.
_____________________________________________

For our latest announcements, please check:
http://www2.ebay.com/aw/announce.shtml
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
End of email


I am not happy about this Star Council attitude for customers; where can one determine that eBay actually looks at one's complaints?

If one goes to the New York Times, please search for eBay problems in the blogs thereon. Illumination will appear.

Monday, January 7th., 2008: I thought that another of the Jas man's drives had quit. Luckily not, because I opened the Dell case and checked all of the connections. That cured the non-appearance of the drive under the LSI controller. There were some chkdsk errors when the drive was automatically checked on start up. These were cured, and although FireFox needed to be reinstalled, it found the previous settings and started without fault.

I need to contact the authorities in California regarding Great Deals (Best Deals Anywhere), but that will have to wait until I have time: father is unwell.

Tuesday, January 8th., 2008: I was woken in the night by the sound of an alarm. It was the ML570, and the source was the Adaptec 3200s adapter. On it was a Jas man 147GB U320 that had failed, and I was being told about it. Not another one: so, I arose and for a couple of hours worked at replacing the drive and starting on the build of a new array.

This afternoon, returning to the cell, I phoned Fujitsu USA, and spoke to a techie in hard drive support. He was interested enough in my tale of woe to give me his email address with the request to send him a report about my experiences with GreatDeals00, Best Deals Anywhere, ha! This I shall do tonight or tomorrow morning. Maybe this is the beginning of problems for eBay, too. They, in my mind, are in collusion.

Thursday, January 10th., 2008: Awoken at 06:00 hours by the Adaptec 3200s: yet another of the Jas man's U320 147GB drives has failed. This was probably why the array was taking such a long time to build. There was only 2% completed after two days, and when I checked visually last night the faulty drive that gave notice this morning had its drive action light on constantly. Should have reasoned why, shouldn't I?



One can see in the image above that Channel 1 has drive 1:04:0 missing. That's where the faulty drive had been. The new array build is already at 3%, which shows that it is working properly. Now I have to buy two more U320 147GB drives, one to fill the gap, and another as a spare. Rats!!

It would seem that I was correct, the array is at 38% built at noon. Should be complete by day's end. Then to search for replacements.

Tuesday, January 15th., 2008: Problem with FireFox on one XP Pro computer: no matter what, nothing when asked for is saved in options. Nothing however as bad as IE on W2003 Server boxes.

Saturday, January 19th., 2008: I had received a couple of drives, to replace others in Devon, an IBM Windows 2003 Server. Automated System Restore was used. The result? Of the drives that were not to be replaced all were totally scrambled, and also unreadable in any other computer that was used to check them. One drive on the chain, that was chosen by ASR to be where the OS would install itself, remained usable, but not a single one of the others. Two of the SCSI drives, of the three in the hot-swap cage, had to be changed to basic before they could be used: hence all data was lost. I was able to change them back to dynamic later. As well, ASR under Windows 2003 constantly tried to find the lost back up files. It would not allow me to make a clean install. I need the real Winternals tools in a hurry so I could cure this nonsense.

Given the situation with Windows 2003 Enterprise I decided to go with XP Pro SP2, and the machine is running much more quickly. One reason for that was because, having removed the IDE drives, I replaced the eServer 220 box's storage innards with all SCSI objects. All of the data and programmes had been lost, so that is going to be a long process to bring up to scratch. It's a good job that I have other computers that can take the workload in the meantime. One thing that I did like was that the machine joined the network very easily and I was able to import the users I wanted with no bother whatsoever. Neat that that happened, even if the cause of OS change was an ASR disaster.

Monday, January 21st., 2008: Several requests to re-write the pages referencing Fujitsu drives came in. I have, because others are suffering the same problems that arose within my systems, decided that it is only fair, simply because I was repaid, to ensure that facts are available for other complainants. Freedom of speech, methinks.

After having the snafu with ASR on Devon, one of the Win 2003 servers, which made the SCSI drives unreadable, I had installed an IDE CD drive whilst trying to fix the computer. That has been removed and replaced with another SCSI hard drive. The two CD-RW external SCSI drives will work with whatever I need to do with them. Now, that is fine because I created the six floppy boot disks that allows one to start the XP Pro SP2 setup without having an IDE CD drive. Given that the IBM BIOS on the eServer can't recognise a SCSI CD one is not allowed to install Windows Server 2003 or higher. There are no floppy options for Windows Server versions 2003 or 2008, which makes things difficult. I need to buy two more drives and that will finalise drive purchases for a while. Assuming no more of the U320 ModusLnk drives given problems. Once they have been running for a while, one can assume them to continue to do so. Sod's Law.

The usual problem with FrontPage arose because I had to download all of my sites to a different server for storage purposes, given that Devon had been the originating storage box. Once that had gone to the ASR hell, I had no option but to download to Rutland, the ML570. However, FrontPage believes that all of the files have had a change in authority, thence need replacing. That takes hours. There is no remedy.

Thursday, January 24th., 2008: Bits and pieces obtained today, to accommodate the drives that arrived. Two more U320 147GB (not from GreatDeals00) 15k items to go with the three U320 73GB 15k on the native LSI bus in the second Dell Precision 650 that is now silently sitting next to its twin. I shall purchase PC3200 SDRAM for it in February. There are also two 1.6" 73GB U160 10k monsters, and a spare, to go in a ProLiant 800 that I shall bring back from storage.

I went down there today for two objectives: the first was to photograph the Haier air conditioner so that the manufacturer is made aware that it is a physical entity without any labels. I spoke with the web based HomeDepot support personnel yesterday, and they managed to persuade Haier to give me a replacement. That will done when I email them scanned images of the photographs and send them, yet again, the documentation that I received via email in the first place. Plus the scanned delivery notice. That's all on the web page that I produced about this fubar.

What a joke, to have to go through all of this, simply because they cannot accept that faulty equipment leaves their factory. Heavy work, moving boxes filled with books around. I have also asked the manager at the storage site for a larger room. Mine is almost full, and, since I found another dead mouse in a trap laid there, it is important to take everything out to check for damage by tiny teeth.

The second objective was to see if the hot-swap drive cage would indeed fit into the ProLiant 800. Yes, indeed! That will result in a machine with spare slots to use for repairing drives. The two 73GB drives will fit just below the CD-RW and run XP Pro SP2. I have another six slotted cage, too, so that later on I might involve another ProLiant 800 in the repair scene. Using Gibson's, or another's, software takes a long time to complete its job.

One thing about these SCSI drives that I have discovered: some give errors depending on the adapter involved, and give no problems in other machines. That especially goes for one 73GB drive, U320 from GreatDeals00 that won't work with an Adaptec 29160n but will work with an Adaptec 3200s. Strange, what? Must be the drivers involved. The 3200s is more sophisticated given that it is a RAID card.

Finally today, I installed one of the two U320 LSI PCI adapters I bought recently into Leicester, the second Dell Precision. This will be one really nice machine when the RAM is installed, and everything is spinning along, pushing four LCD monitors, two above two. That's what I'm aiming for, 3300 x 2100 total resolution. Light in weight, low in power consumption compared with the two 21" CRT monsters that the first Dell Precision, Monmouth, propels. That means five LCDs are required, because one can be placed in Rutland, where the poor old CRT is removing yellow from the screen.

Monday, January 28th., 2008: Today was spent looking after father on a trip to the Civic. On the side, thought about problems with ASR on Rutland, the AD Windows 2003 Enterprise server. I think that I'll buy Acronis Migrate Easy 7.0, because that should allow me to copy the boot drive, which is an U320 73GB drive, to one that sits more easily alongside its U160 73GB neighbour on the Adaptec 29160n. That would free the U320 drive to fit into the spare slot on one of the arrays, that appeared when a Jas man U320 drive failed. It matters little to me whether its a 147 or a 73GB example. That can be changed at a later date. The idea is to have two of the 1.6" Seagate U160 drives together, which would allow both to run at expected speeds on a native bus. (But, see below.)

Tuesday, January 29th., 2008:  The reason why the ASR for Rutland failed: one drive fractionally less in size stops the process. Both drives are nominally 73GB in size.



The Juniper drive was to be cloned via ASR to another U160 drive with the .09GB difference in storage space. Note that both drives are on an Adaptec 29160N, which arrives first in the POST.

To try and make that irrelevant, I bought Acronis Migrate Easy. After installation, a reboot, and then starting the programme, this error message arrived:



Why can't one have dynamic drives? Every bloody one, almost, on every bloody computer on my network has dynamic drives. Nowhere on the Acronis sales pitch is there a mention of this very basic caveat. Why not? It's a complete waste of money and time. I have, of course, sent a highly rancid email to Acronis. I doubt whether it will be of any use, or that there will be a reply.

Wednesday, January 30th., 2008:  Well, well, another snafu now with Acronis True Image. It, too, will not work with dynamic drives on an XP Pro SP2+ computer. What is the use of a programme that will not work with commonly found hard drives? Does one have to spend a grand US on their server software to do this? On the Acronis website sales pages one discovers nothing mentioned about dynamic drives. On top of that, on the page for True Image Echo Enterprise Server, an extra cost of US$299 is needed to do a universal restore. This does not make me happy.

I have been thinking about opening a Support Ticket with Microsoft concerning the ASR option for Windows 2003 Enterprise server (or for XP as it happens). I want to replace a same-size hard drive. Just because the "new" drive is less than 1% smaller than the "old" one, ASR won't work, even if the originating "old" drive has less than 4GB in use, out of its nominal 68.4GB. Rubbish, what?

Note in the two images immediately above that the error message is identical. No mention of this in any of their advertising. Going to their search pages one discovers this: Dynamic storage support in Acronis True Image Server. The first sentence on the page states: "Dynamic disks are a central part of Windows storage management on the Server and XP Professional platforms (my emphasis), but the same features that make them so powerful make them difficult for conventional disk image software and backups to handle". So what, I say. If they are a basic part, being themselves dynamic, why can't software for normal operations become normal??? The dynamic drives I wish to alter are not on arrays, they are single drives. That they might in future become part of another arrangement is irrelevant. What I need is simple, good software to meet simple, ordinarily met problems.

Thursday, January 31st., 2008: An answer, a non-answer, from Acronis:

Hello Paul,
Thank you for using Acronis Migrate Easy 7.0
http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/migrateeasy/

Please note that Acronis Migrate Easy 7.0 copies one physical drive to another (all contents) whereas Dynamic disks are software-made disks. That is why they are not supported by the product.

Thank you.
Note that you can quickly find the answers to your questions in Acronis Support Knowledge Base at
http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/support/kb/ Best regards,
Vladimir Zakharov

Acronis, Inc.
23 3rd Avenue
Burlington, MA 01803 USA
http://www.acronis.com/

Acronis Customer Service Department
http://www.acronis.com/my/support/

As the two images above relate, I cannot use the programme. So, Boilerplate 101 here. I know damned well what dynamic drives are, but considering that the server products can handle it, at least they state they can under a New! heading, it would seem that there was a considerable demand by IT guys who needed that facility. Given how common dynamic drives are in the universe, I can understand that handling them is an important requirement.

On a related subject, I have opened a support ticket with Microsoft about ASR. There is a KB page at Microsoft (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314686) which states that differences in disk geometry of drives of nominal commensurate size can stop the operation. I talked to the support guys and remarked that this is a basic flaw in the programme. What, for instance, is wrong with the scenario that might arise should one only have a spare drive smaller than that currently installed and a crisis occurs. Perhaps a drive failure happens, and you need your AD machine back in a hurry. A new install of the OS and AD to follow is not a trivial operation. There are massive updates also implicated.

If one only has a smaller drive one is at an impasse, with current ASR programming status. I understand that there is to be a replacement for ASR in the works, but this is what is available right now (not true, it was something to do with WSUS, instead). It's a situation that is exacerbated by the fact that Windows XP Pro knows how much free space there is on every drive. Given that, it should be easy to determine if the system/boot drive would fit its used space onto a smaller replacement. Given that the drive I want to use is fractionally smaller than the one currently installed, I can't see why it shouldn't be possible, with a decent algorithm.

We'll know if there is a fix within a few days, I hope.

Friday, February 1st., 2008:  The Acronis guy sent this, totally inconsequential, reply:

Please note that the support of the Dynamic Disks is implemented in Acronis Corporate products only in Backup/Restore operations. It is not possible to clone the Dynamic Disks. Home products do not support Dynamic Disks at all.
Thank you.
Note that you can quickly find the answers to your questions in Acronis Support Knowledge Base at
http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/support/kb/

Best regards,
Vladimir Zakharov

ASR: after hours on the phone with Microsoft, New Delhi, India, we were unable to fix the ASR problem. So, today, I installed a 1.6" (half-height) U160 73GB drive in the place of the U320, which is now in the bottom cage of the ML570.

Following the drive reshuffle and after a new installation of XP Pro SP2, and after trying to restore the backup I had made two days ago, I am downloading updates, and have had to reboot after running dcpromo because that did not work from the restoration of the system state. So, less work than I had thought, but more work than I had wanted to do. At least the network is running now? Plus, now that the old boot drive, the one with all of the users, is now a part of one of the cages, the particular user files can be copied over and used on the replacement drive. I hope.

Now that Adaptec Storage Manager is reinstalled, it would seem that the computer is now working as I had hoped. One thing is that even with JRE installed, IE7 will not allow me to log in to register and reach my MS TechNet login page. FireFox does, and that was the browser that I used when working with the MS Techie in India, Sanjay. Nice guy, very helpful, in as much as his crew could do. Conclusively, ASR has this, to me, inexcusable failing, which was explained earlier.

Aaaargh! as they say. I have had problems with SID errors; with trust relationships. Active Directory is not working properly. The network partially works, in that every other computer on the network can connect with themselves and with the DC, Rutland, with the newly installed U160 drive. But Rutland can not connect with any member of the domain.

Forget this for a bunch of trouser snakes: I reinstalled/reshuffled/removed drives so that the 1" 73GB U320 (the good, working boot/system drive) was returned and I placed a 147GB U320 alongside it, both connected to the Adaptec 29160N. Both drives work and having restored the data to the 147GB drive, everything is seemingly back in good working order. Once more there is a gap in the ML570 lower cage. But, never mind, I can fill it later on. To conclude: if only ASR was dynamic, and total used space was the basic quantity expected on a replacement.

Wednesday, February 6th., 2008:  The FP extensions had to be reinstalled on this site today. Fixed by 20:00hrs, after a day of frustration. At least I was able to photograph and email, as well as upload, the Haier air conditioner replacement request. Then I was able to photograph my cell and upload the images to another page on this site. The snow here in Ottawa was sloppy, allied to the effects of salt on road corners, and possessing Sorel rubber boots was a bonus walking out and around. Father is surviving, and seems a little better that he was, so that I do hope that an operation is deemed acceptable for someone of his age. That would make it more likely that he would survive, until at least July when the family visit.

Sunday, February 10th., 2008: I had the money, so I bought and downloaded Ad-Aware. What a mistake. It will start and _never_ finish. Useless. It stalls on folders and one can leave it for hours and it will not complete its self-set tasks.

Monday, February 11th., 2008: Ad-aware fubar. Unresponsive programme that has been reported to MS. If I left this alone the clock would keep running, but nothing else happens.

eBay problem, again: One new thing is that I received a box full of old Compaq hot-sway caddies. The box was worn through from the inside, because the vendor had not wrapped the items. I have never received items unwrapped before. Shoddy idea of customer service: I was lucky to receive the purchased total. The vendor blames me for poor communications in not letting his company know before I posted feedback. Sod that. Here are the emails that passed between us. The first one was because he was trying to charge me $20 post and packing per item, all of which fitted into one small box. They eventually came all jumbled together, in a worn cardboard container.

Dear rns-auctions,
Hello,
Could you advise me what the shipping of these nine (9) items will be, preferably by USPS.
The attempt to pay maintained the unit cost of postage which is obviously far too high.
Please advise,
Paul Dickins

This following email is the response to the neutral feedback I entered, after which come the "you said, I said" items:

Dear transubstantial,
you should always contact a seller before leaving neutral or negative feedback !
its not my fault the shipper banged up the box, its hardly worth trying to make me look bad for that.
rns-auctions

Dear rns-auctions,
Hello,
I am not a fool: the damage was caused by the lack of wrap allowing the rubbing together of the items internally. That tore the package, and it was lucky for me that it did not split.
I have loads of experience with packaging, and I am not a person who does not think before replying.
Plus, mail cost? How much was that? Not that I don't know by looking at the outside.
Regards,
Paul

Dear transubstantial,
i think you miss the point that you should contact the seller and allow a time to react and resolve BEFORE you leave a public complaint in feedback, i guess my feedback for you will be a negative staating poor at communicating. BTW, i did send a follow up email aking if you were happy with the purchase and if there was any issues i could address. the item DID leave here in good condition and i donet see the need to wrap metal sleds. i ship a few hundred boxes a week, and have over 10,000 positive transactions so i think my shipping experience is good.

rns-auctions

Dear rns-auctions,
Hello,
I do not care if it's negative. I shall advertise your threat about negative feedback amongst my friends.
Note that you are obviously without certain experience because the grammatical errors in your communication are laughable.
Every seller in the past that has sent me caddies has always packaged them securely.
Goodbye and good luck.
Paul

Dear transubstantial,
grammer? are you serious? thats what you botherer to write back about.... yea its laughable. there are 150 million ebay useres. you and all of your friends account for 0.000000000000001 percent of that, im sure my business will suffer greatly and you can go away happy that you hurt someone for a mishanddled package.
rns-auctions

This is hilarious, isn't it? One believes that the seller has a moral obligation to help the buyer? Well, the customer is clearly not always correct, what?

Monday, February 18th., 2008: I managed to fix the QuickTime query lines that proliferated throughout FireFox, of whatever version, on one computer, the Dell Precision named Monmouth. There is a massive extant problem and I have heard from others that they have never been able to correct it.

However, I deleted the requisite profile and the FireFox folder from Monmouth, and then copied those from another computer, Oxford, the white box, which has the same version, but no problems apparent. They are both running Mozilla Firefox 3 Beta 2. They now both work properly, whereas one was giving me fits not being able to open most third-party pages.

Ad-aware 200x or whatever, and it is the latest version that I am paying for. It is, once more, unresponsive. The clock will run until the computer is recycled or otherwise disposed of. It will not complete. Note that I went to the Civic with Dad, and when I came back the programme was again just running the clock. Note the Scan time:
 
 

The last time it happened I was told that I should update it to the latest version because there was a virus on my machine. Not so. SpyBot runs fine and that has had hiccoughs at other times. One pays for what kind of protection?

Wednesday, February 20th., 2008: A reply from Lavasoft, the Ad-Aware people. Why should I bother? The reply included the request to update to the latest version, which I had already done. There was a statement that Ad-Aware could conflict with SpyBot. That is rot, since the programmes are not run at the same time, and don't conflict on any other machine. Note that the problem arises only on the machine that has the registered, annual fee paid version. Significant?

Saturday, March 29th., 2008:  Nothing much of late, except that, even though one of my 2003 Enterprise servers seems to be working, I cannot install any updates, plus the sharing seems all to cock. Probably, the best thing would be a complete reinstallation of the OS. Not trivial, and perhaps its better to also have an AD backup?

And, I have discovered a couple of basic errors: the main one being that the slow signup was caused by me having entered a false DNS server IP address for the LAN. Dumb as a Red Thatch, moi. Then, having fixed that, I was able to make Lancaster the backup DC, because now dcpromo could find the domain controller. That's for safety anyway, in case of failure on the main box, Rutland.

Also, having fixed an error with BITS, I am now able to download all of the necessary updates onto Lancaster. That makes me happier. Now to fix the reason why Event Viewer is missing from the Administrative Tools listing, although I can find it using Help.

Tuesday, April 2nd., 2008: I had yesterday received a Compaq cage for my ML570, that allows SCA drives in lieu of 68-pin for the two-seater in the bottom left front of the server. I could have installed it yesterday morning, but it was All Fools Day, wasn't it? In any case, I have never had such an easy job, and the server booted up cleanly, with the Adaptec 29160n accepting the signals from the Compaq ProLiant 4L2I at ID 15 on the chain. This means that any drive in the ML570 can now be removed by clicking on the caddy rather than opening the case. This box is really heavy! Nice to have something work so easily.

Periodically, one receives emails from Network Solutions asking one to update one's registration details. I changed one field to remove a non-existent fax number, but could not edit any other field. The arcane method that Network Solution uses is not user friendly, and they have now allocated a lock on editing any details of my account with them. Given that I pay for the service, that the servers actually in use at SoftCom have been stable for some years, this level of support from Network Solutions is utterly useless. I believe that I should be able to edit my details at any time, given that I, and no one else, am the owner of the domain names they hold: mattoid.com and mattoid.net.

Sunday, April 20th., 2008: I have worked out why I couldn't alter the Network Solution fields: there are two passwords, and one of them allows every field to be altered, and the other only allows one field. Huh?

Then arose another problem: a PnP KVM will not work with my Compaq servers, and I can't find out why, although the fact that I couldn't use floppies to install Windows 2003 Server, and SmartStart on my ancient ProLiant only allows those, then I can't use SmartStart in its proper fashion. Clear as mud? Don't worry, I can't figure it out either.

Late today, delayed write failing on F:\$Mft, and that I thought was odd. Rebooting removed the drive, and lots of data. Closing down, checking all of the connections, finding one on a hard drive that was maybe a hair's breadth loose and bang, it is back working. Just a small flaw, but the Dell Precision was acting like a laptop.

Saturday, May 10th., 2008: Nothing much of late, except that I am trying to tie the two DCs to a KVM, with little luck. Also, the email server at NCF is kaput. Two days now and no sending service. Not clever: where is the reserve machine? Before I checked their website I had thought it was an Outlook problem. Not so, and I'm glad of that, because it's been stable for a long time.

Saturday, May 17th., 2008: More than two days trying to start up the second Dell Precision 650 that I obtained from Computer Supply House, on O'Connor in Ottawa. The problem is/was somewhere in the LSI MPT SCSI BIOS, which for a considerable time would not complete. Finally, it will start but only in narrow configuration. I have posted on the Petri site to see if anyone has an answer. LSI support pages have no answer. Both computers have the bus set at Wide (16-bit) but each time Leicester, the second Precision, boots up each drive is queried and changed to narrow. Odd, but no cure, at this time.

Downloaded new firmware for the LSI adapters (one on board, and one on the PCI bus). This was purportedly successful: except for the "ERROR! Adapter Malfunctioning" that comes up. The LSI PCI adapter seemingly is gone away. After a few reboots, the LSI software completed, and then the system OS, XP Pro SP2, came up. It immediately required a found new hardware reboot.

Several firmware upgrade/cure attempts unsuccessful. Now what? New U320 Adaptec adapter? It is the PCI adapter, not the onboard port, that won't work. Equally, it is the onboard connector that will only run at narrow speeds (40MB).

Sunday, May 18th., 2008: LSI firmware downloaded and installed. Now both of the LSI U320 adapters work, but only at narrow speeds. I will have to try a different cable, and if that doesn't work, then I don't know what will.

Using the LSI CIMBrowser, I have discovered that the onboard chip has firmware revision 01.01.24.00, whereas the PCI adapter has version 01.03.52.00. I shall have to use a different cable, but that may provide an answer to the narrow rate problem.

Computers are strange, with software installed on one machine producing different results on another. The CIMBrowser, identical installations on the two Dell Precisions, shows two (three connectors) adapters on the troublesome machine, but only one on the properly working one. Even a reboot and a reinstall gave the same result. Never mind, I need to find a U320 terminating resistor and put it on a cable, to see if I can improve the situation.

Tuesday, May 20th., 2008: Here are a few images of two Dell computer device managers and an associated set of the LSI U320 adapters installed in each.
Note that each has an on-board chip and a PCI adapter of the same make. Note the variations.

Firstly, the "good" machine's Device Manager where one can see the Disk Drives, the Processors and the SCSI and RAID controllers:



Here is the LSI CIMBrowser with Monmouth showing only one adapter, and the image below that which shows the drive attached and its negotiated data rate and width:




One can see in the above images that the Compaq drive is on the PCI adapter, and the other drives are attached to the on-board connector. The latter does not appear in the LSI CIMBrowser application, as revealed in the image above.

Now come the images for Leicester. The Device Manager, then four other images. Note that the negotiated rate on the on-board chip is at 40MB/sec. Nothing, seemingly, that I can do about that. The PCI card runs at the proper U320 rate for the Maxtor 15k drive.

The cables in both machines and the SCA/68-pin adapters are all identical where used.








Note the LSI revisions. All three adapters, one of which is the on-board chip, differ.

Now, it worsens: I removed the Leicester PCI LSI U320 adapter, because I wanted to determine if I could update the firmware on the computer's on-board chip. The machine would not produce video, although other activity was apparent. The cable and PCI card were reinstalled, and now the problem remains with no video apparent. Ridiculous situation, there are no beeps coming out of the machine, so it presumably believes itself healthy. Now what? Replacement is preferable, methinks.

Wednesday, May 21st., 2008: Well, it was not any of the adapters: the problem is the aging of the on-board cable. Because it cools and warms and because it has a really hard fold in it, which those of you who have such a machine should be aware of, it has perished. I took the recalcitrant machine, Leicester, down to CSH, and we played around with it. Ultimately, we discovered that the cable was faulty by putting the shop's cable into the computer. Immediately, everything worked as it should. So, I await the arrival of the terminating resistor, and when I place it in the cable that I have, then everything should work properly. It means that I should also replace the cable on the "good" Dell fairly soon.

This is the second time that this model made by Dell has acted as if it were a laptop. I must, repeat must, _always_ check the damned cables before doing anything at all to do with physical problems that arise on my computers. We had, at CHS, Computer Supply House, changed the motherboard, checked the connectors, and pratted about uselessly. When Dave suggested using the on-board cable on the adapter, which has two connectors, the problem continued, and was, it appeared, worse. When we placed the round workshop SCSI multi-connector cable in the Dell, then the LSI BIOS awoke and told us everything worked as it should. Wonder of wonders.

Thursday, May 22nd., 2008: One should double check before closing the case: I checked the properly working Dell, Monmouth, today, to see what condition the on-board cable was in. It seemed fine, in a lot better condition than the faulty one in Leicester. When I replaced the connectors, I thought that they were properly fastened. This proved wrong, since one of them was not quite tight. This produced lots of errors with the computer. I had to shut down and go over every SCSI connection once more, and this did the trick. Only one LSI adapter is shown, nonetheless.

Saturday, May 24th., 2008: New terminating resistor for the cable attached to the on-board LSI on Leicester works as required. Only one of the LSI chips is needed, since the cable takes more than the number of drives in the machine. That means I have a spare LSI 53C1030 PCI-X card. I tried to use it in the ML570, but it is not compatible with the drive cage installed therein, which is U160 based. The machine kept starting up into MS 2003 R2 Ent and then rebooting: not too good. So, back to the Adaptec 29160n, and that works well enough. 

Tuesday, May 27th., 2008: A moderator, Sorinso, on the Petri Forums, mentioned that he uses Minicom KVM. I have been looking at their products on their site, and they have what is called Smart IP Access, which includes CAT5 IP cable connection. That means, I think, that I could use their equipment on my two Domain Controllers that currently cannot be used with ordinary KVM switches. Something to think about.

Wednesday, May 28th., 2008: I have been having perpetual synchronisation with off-line folder problems with Outlook. I have tried everything that I have found through various forums, including removing My Documents settings. Nothing has worked, so I have installed Thunderbird, which imported most of my settings and all of my email folders. I have been having problems setting up the securemail settings. If that is completed then I shall not be using Outlook any more.

Somewhere there is a flaw: I can access the MyHosting WebMail applet with the correct password. I can open Outlook and it will receive. I cannot make Thunderbird accept the password, even though opening Outlook and resetting the password worked therein.

 




The Account settings are almost identical to those in Outlook. The inability warning messages are shown above, too. Can't figure out the problem. I have set and reset the password in Thunderbird tens of times this evening.

With regard to KVM problems see this on the HP forums: ML570 G1 array config utility. It refers to the inability to have the ML570 BIOS seen by the KVM software, even those that use IP via CAT5 cable, such as items available from MiniCom.

Thursday, May 29th., 2008: The problem was simply that, unlike in Outlook, one does not check the Use secure authentication in Thunderbird allied to the port change. When I unchecked that in the relevant accounts, for which see the third image above, everything worked.

Friday, May 30th., 2008: I have installed/updated MS Office to 2007. Immediately after starting Outlook it asked me to install Instant Search. I decided not to, because I think that that may have been the culprit. We shall see. I had to hard reset the computer after returning from today's journeying. The clock had remained frozen at the time early this morning that Outlook 2003 had begun synchronising, and was still doing so and preventing any other action on the computer from executing. That at six in the evening. Hence I have been updating to Office 2007 on all, but one, of the relevant computers.

I am just writing on another page, and up comes a statement from the task bar that Outlook has completed a data check? What? It means that it thinks somewhere there is a problem in a .PST file. Scanpst.exe to the rescue?

Saturday, May 31st., 2008: Crossing my fingers slows my keyboard typing, but perhaps I need not. Outlook seems to be working properly again. There is a bar on the main page that irritates me: it wants me to install Instant Search. I don't think so: I would rather use the OS version, that I have returned to the Windows 2000 style. That was done to facilitate efficiency, because the latest style is all show, no knickers.

Sunday, June 1st., 2008: Outlook has remained operational, although when typing a message it often hangs. One has to wait before it becomes usable once more.

I shall have to obtain a round U320 cable for Monmouth, this double-headed box. I had trouble with the flat cable working itself loose under pressure and creating problems with one drive in particular. The cable is stressed because there is no straight run throughout, which means that its strength works against maintaining proper connections. The first two drives are 68-pin, and are followed by three SCA items. The connectors do not remain in line, and any knocks on the case, or other matters, will produce the results I had. When I had moved one of the drives to another slot, and given it the PCI-X LSI instead of the on-board chip, and put the other drive onto the on-board connector, everything started up as normal.

The latest Excel, version 2007, that I am now using instead of 2003, is a real dog. The warnings that persist, even after one has chosen to override them, and the replacement of files that one is using when using Save As, are totally frustrating. In Excel 2003 one could save the .xls file as .htm without bother. Now, one has to click further on in the mess and it replaces the file that was being saved. Then, when one opens that file, data warnings appear once more. It is not natural to use, is Excel 2007, and that is ridiculous.

It's late Sunday, and Outlook is locked again. What is it this time? Same or different? I have no clue. But it can't continue: I shall have to look for a different email programme, this is ridiculous. To have one's main workstation locked periodically in the past two or so weeks, when it never happened before implies that an update might have caused this, but how would I know which one? And, why would it affect both Outlook 2003 and 2007?

Wednesday, June 4th., 2008: Of late, Outlook has been working well, except that when it starts to check for emails I worry whether it will complete or stall. Paranoid, what?

I have had a few emails about Great Deals, run by that guy Jas. Failing drives, etc. The thing is, I thought that he had vanished, but his name is on lots of 73GB U320 drives for sale on eBay. I had thought that he wouldn't be back, but he probably thinks that he can continue to sell this ModusLnk/Fujitsu product with impunity.

Friday, June 6th., 2008: Spoke too soon: Outlook solidly locked the email computer again: cannot access it through the network either. Hard reboot required. Will have to think about a decent replacement for it, but not Thunderbird.

Monday, June 9th., 2008: The problem with Monmouth, the Dell Precision 650 that runs Outlook, may have been cured. It would seem that memory demands clash between Outlook and Firefox. The latter, of any version, has known memory leaks should one leave the programme running for noticeable lengths of time. Outlook has really heavy memory demands and it would seem that this could be the reason the computer eventually freezes. When that happens one cannot enter the three-fingered salute to determine how memory is being used: one cannot do anything. I have Firefox 3 RC2 running on other computers, and I hardly ever shut it down. It continues to work normally, but not on Monmouth alongside Outlook. QED.

Thursday, June 12th., 2008: Well, it's not Firefox with Outlook that seizes/locks Monmouth, it is Outlook alone on its usual send/receive signal, where it decides its had enough work for the day and goes on strike. Bloody thing. This after yesterday's monthly MS update, which was mainly security for XP. I do not at this time want to update to Vista and see what if anything would change. If this is a flaky computer, which I doubt however, it won't be improved with merely an OS change. But, Linux? No, thanks.

Tuesday, June 17th., 2008: Yesterday, I opened a support ticket with Microsoft: after having the techie in India control my computer for a while, we determined that I could under Tools, Trust Center open the Add-ins. This for the first time for me: it had stuck on this push button every other time I had tried: I thought that that indicated there were no such things active.
We cleared every check mark, shut down Outlook 2007 and re-opened it. Then we had to clear the 'Exchange views' in Add-ins again.
After checking the drivers for the NICs in the machine, we found that there was no recent driver for the 3Com NIC I use for Internet connections.
I, this afternoon, went and bought a new NIC. This was installed and I went through MS Updates, Custom whereupon it installed the latest Realtek driver.
So far, it looks as though Outlook has been cured: I shall run it for a few days without shutting it down to determine the truth of the matter.



The techie advised me that most of the problems with Outlook, because it is picky and dependent on graphics, arise because it needs a good NIC driver. This has, for his department, been the major cure for seizing problems/send and receive, etc.

Outlook 2007 has been working well now for about a day, and this implies that it is cured. The Add-ins block in Trust Center is shown above. Note nothing is enabled. The Apple Bonjour dll was renamed to prevent that from activating. And, as I say, so far so good.

Wednesday, June 18th., 2008: Unfortunately, having left Outlook and Firefox running overnight, the computer again seized when I tried to use the former this morning. Hard reboot once more. This does the computer no good.

Thursday, June 19th., 2008: Yes, still worried about Outlook 2007. However, it is still working after another day, which I believe is related to the fact that I did not have Firefox active. IE 7 was active, but that does not leak like Firefox does, it would seem. Will have Outlook constantly active and wait.

So, after being out and clicking on the Outlook icon on the running application bar, it opened and seemed to be working. Except that clicking on an email promptly made it hang. Eventually, after a couple of three-fingered salutes the machine came back to life. This is the first time that a stall has not required a hard reboot. Maybe I should copy the pst file over to another machine and make that the Outlook box to see what happens with it. Will decide about that in due course.

Saturday, June 21st., 2008: Another hard reboot day. Outlook opened when clicked, started to open the emails that had arrived overnight and then slowed down. Nothing on the task or application bar would open, neither would anything on the desktop. Mouse could be moved around but couldn't do anything. Three-fingered salute failed to complete. Button pressing time. Then, when the computer, Monmouth (one of the two Dell Precision 650 computers here) was up Outlook started fine, but did not seemingly require a pst check. This is strange, since every other hard reboot has resulted in Outlook checking the file for errors.

I have emailed the MS support team, and related to them that a Petri Outlook reference page has proved useful, but the problems with this important programme have not disappeared. I have also opened a forum posting on the XP pages on the Petri site. It's beneficial to have others helping, because I don't want to give up on this significant snafu.

Monday, June 23rd., 2008: This is strange, the programme is working, and has done for almost two days now. Also, other programmes, including Firefox, seem to be more responsive.

Firstly, one thing about MS updates is that one has to be an administrator; and the updates often turn that to debugger status. That occurred on my white box test machine during the previous update Tuesday (XP Pro SP3 like the Precision).

Given that had happened, I checked the permissions on the C drive on the Dell, and discovered that they were a set of letters and numbers, indicating another user. I have seen this many times before.

I removed those and set permissions for two administrator types. Checking the other drives on the Dell, I discovered that the C drive was the only one so affected. Very strange.

Immediately thereafter, Outlook 2007 ran quicker, and whilst slow on graphic download compared to Outlook 2003 and earlier, has not failed again.

Sometimes the simplest thing? Not that I am totally sure of it just yet.

Tuesday, June 24th., 2008: Additional information that means something is wrong in the Dell arena.

I copied over the .pst and entered all of the necessary information regarding email users, inboard and outboard settings and started the programme in my white box. This has an Athlon 64 dual-core nominal 2GHz, and 4GB Crucial RAM. Hard drives are a mix of ATA and SATA.

The programme has been running flawlessly, with its old NIC, the same model that I replaced in the Dell Precision, a 3Com. Graphics appear a little quicker, but, most important, after disabling only the Exchange add-ins, Outlook has not given me any problems whatsoever.

So, what was wrong? Possibly the Dell, a workstation, not just a cobbled together white box, should work better?

It is designed as a whole, with all of the necessary parts. I wonder whether it is the hyperthreading, but doubt it, because writing this using Firefox, on the Dell, has not stalled as it did when Outlook was running. There must be a conflict?

Well, on the white box, I have also been running both IE7 and Firefox 3 RC4, and nothing untoward has happened. On the Dell, I have been running my normal mix of Office programmes, and nothing has shown a glitch.

Presumably, I should have tried this before, but what I can conclude is that Outlook 2007 is picky, and one should go through the trouble of using other computers, if available, to doublecheck.

Thursday, July 3rd., 2008: First day in some time that the recalcitrant computer still works in the morning. I removed the U320 LSI PCI adapter yesterday, and also one hard drive, since the cable won't take five drives. Having checked the physical connections I restarted the machine and it has worked without fault for twenty-four hours. Really odd, and perhaps having two LSI U320 chips loaded caused problems. I hope it was that, and that the computer continues to run properly. Time will tell, indeed. I shall, eventually, return the Outlook PST file to the Dell, just to see if it will perform without seizing again. If that's the case, then I found the cause of all the recent freezing that caused so many hard reboots.

Friday, July 4th., 2008: Well, I don't think it was the LSI, because the same halting, stumbling performance kept on coming. But, having installed Acronis software, there were, in consequence, two services installed that came along. These I have disabled. Since then, nothing untoward has happened. It may be only a few hours, but I really think that this is a significant step. Firefox 3 RC 4 crashed on Leicester, the other Dell Precision, which is a change, and on the Telegraph newspaper site, which isn't. Peculiar, what?

Friday, August 1st., 2008: The only problems lately have been with the boot drive on Rutland. Trying to defragment each drive on the computer, the only problem arose when the programme informed me that there were file problems on the boot drive. This was repaired about a week ago and nothing seems wrong so far.

Sunday, August 3rd., 2008: Vista problem: I thought of upgrading my white box XP Pro SP2 machine. When I booted up on a restart, there was no option to upgrade. When I restarted the computer, and then tried to run the executable from there, the message arose that the setup.exe was not a valid Win32 application. No idea why that occurred, but given that it worked on the booting up method, then I think that I shall have to buy a new hard drive and install Vista Ultimate on that. That way, if it doesn't work properly, all I need to is reinstall the old drive. We'll see.

Monday, August 4th., 2008: TechNet Subscription sign in problems occur constantly using IE 7 or 8 on any computer on my network. If I use FireFox 2 or 3 nothing untoward happens.  The image below shows what normally comes up with IE.



The only caveat is that I must then have Microsoft File Transfer Manager installed, otherwise FireFox knows not what to do with what it sees as default.aspx. Given that the MFTM programme is easy to use, and can queue files, too, then it's a no-brainer to use FireFox every time.

I do not know what the cause of the IE problem is, because it started recently, and has no seeming relationship with Update Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 6th., 2008: The TechNet failure also transferred itself to FireFox. The cure is to sign out once at least, often twice, and then re-sign in to TechNet. Then one can open the listing in the Subscription box that one needs. Otherwise the page is unresponsive or never appears, showing the message in the image above.

However, there is a flaw with MFTM that persists in trying to load files in the list that one has previously downloaded, until the one that one has chosen appears. One has to cancel each of the incorrect file transfers that MFTM actually tells one is a faulty transfer. Huh? Below is a typical screen shot of the MFTM with cancelled items. Once cancelled then the proper transfer can take place, as is shown by the 100% indicator.



MFTM help files or a search on Microsoft fails to show an error like this.

Wednesday, August 13th., 2008: Problems, yesterday evening, trying to open http://mattoid.com using Web Expression. Came down to IIS problems on the hosting end, but took an age to have it corrected. An apparent read lock error.

Here are the emails sent and replied to regarding the problem. Note that the first reply has nothing at all to do with the error. Neither does it read grammatically or logically regarding the subject. The second reply cured the problem with regards to accessing the site.

On 2008-08-12, 20:08, Paul Dickins (paul@mattoid.com) wrote:
Name : Paul Dickins (Website Owner)
Email : paul@mattoid.com

Subject: Web Expression problem

Message:
Hello,
No access to http://mattoid.com using Web Expression from any computer. Any of my other sites are accessible using same programme.
Ping, tracert work from any computer on network. I can open site using any browser.

Can you determine problem?
Regards,
Paul Dickins


RE: [Case #: 305206] Support - Web Expression problem mattoid.com
Greetings,
Thank you for the email. Impression Web does not sue the HTTP protocol to connect to the server, you must use FTP. So try ftp.mattoid.com?

If you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our 24/7 support team at support@myhosting.com.
Thank you for choosing myhosting.com as your web hosting provider.
Regards,
Jim
Customer Support
http://myhosting.com
http://mail2web.com
http://softcom.biz
Keep up to date with news and announcements at http://blog.myhosting.com  and http://blog.mail2web.com

On 08/12/2008, 21:17, Paul Dickins (paul@mattoid.com) wrote:
Name : Paul Dickins (Website Owner)
Email : paul@mattoid.com

Subject: IIS error

Message:
Hello,
Further to my last email, Web Expression gives the message when trying to open http://mattoid.com that there is a server error:
Could not get a read lock for Microsoft Internet Information Server cached information.

My other sites are fine, and, as I mentioned, I can open my sites and ping and tracert, including mattoid.com.

Regards,
Paul

RE: [Case #: 305232] Support - IIS error mattoid.com
Greetings,
I have refreshed your site in the IIS server. I was able to connect using Microsoft Expression Web in testing.
If you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our 24/7 support team at support@myhosting.com.
Thank you for choosing myhosting.com as your web hosting provider.
Regards,
Peter M.
Customer Support
http://myhosting.com
http://mail2web.com
http://softcom.biz
Keep up to date with news and announcements at http://blog.myhosting.com  and http://blog.mail2web.com

Friday, August 15th., 2008: I have installed Windows Live OneCare for the third time on Leicester, the XP Pro Dell. Problems arose concerning the running of the programme in trial mode. Right now, as I write this, it is scanning the box, and has taken several hours to reach 75%. There is another problem. Firefox wouldn't open URLs. The OneCare Firewall (same thing as the Control Panel Windows Firewall applet) was on, caused by the OneCare using its base parameters. This meant that I had to turn the firewall off, because even though it was an allowed programme, nothing worked. Odd, and restarting FireFox had no effect.

Furthermore, even though the white box runs XP Pro, it wouldn't work with OneCare because it has the boot disc set as a dynamic drive. Note that all of the other drives in Leicester are dynamic, but that does not matter as long as the OS boot info rests on the (sole) basic drive. The boot and installation drives do not coincide on several of my computers.

Wednesday, August 27th., 2008: Well, this is the first time after three days that I have been able to access this site to edit or add anything. The crossed purposes statements passing between me and MyHosting Support were the cause.

Until early this morning I had not known that MS FrontPage Server Extensions has a 2GB limit for total site file size. The hosting limit for each of my three domains is 10GB, and that caused the confusion. Expression Web still uses six years old Microsoft FP Extensions, with the implicit limit. That only holds when using http://mattoid.com to access the site, because the extensions code demands that all the files are loaded. I wish that the techies that had previously handled my complaints had been more precise, or had even been aware of what the problem actually was. Absolutely frustrating to handle with such apparent ignorance, to be polite.

If, as I am now doing, one uses ftp://mattoid.com then there are no limitations. Except that themes are unavailable now, and that is spoiling things. One good thing is that my chat with the techie early this morning resulted in a free month for this site. Nice.

One other thing that I have discovered: don't open recent files, from the drop down File heading on the toolbar, that have http in front of them. They won't be alterable. The read lock error that arrives implies that the server extensions are screwed because your site is at the limit. My other two sites can still be used with http file access for editing/adding because they are relatively smaller than this one. On the other hand, since ftp is used the total size of the site denies use of FrontPage Server Extensions, all of the hit counters and similar functions that depend on the extensions do not work after saving the file under the ftp usage. Neither do themes, although one thinks one can by copying page details from another page: but that attempt fails. And try to find hit counters for Expression Web: seemingly impossible, because Microsoft has assumed that one's site will remain small. I will have to find another web designer programme.

In fact, these two small images show what is currently wrong: no background and no hit counter. The left hand image is from a browser. The right hand image is what is seen using Expression Web: the counter is there, the background blue grid is present, too. The email10.gif works.

 

Monday, September 1st., 2008: Well, well, deleting a large folder, after copying it to http://mattoid.ca has allowed me to open this site with Expression Web in a format that allows the server extensions to work. I have moved the BMW short films series over there (732MB): they are in the education section. Well, morally one should not have a high performance car, nicht wahr? Perhaps, but a vehicle is handy when one becomes old?

It would seem that having a set of files in excess of 1.7GB screws the Server Extensions 2002 code. That means that I shall have to redesign all of my sites and use a programme that will allow me to have dynamic objects that FP Server Extensions should have been able to handle. A list of components requiring FP 2002 Server Extensions can be found by following the link. One thing I must do is to find a background similar to that on this page. I find that the faint blue grid softens viewing. If pure white, then glare and harshness in general rules. My opinion of course, but that rules on my sites, what?

Tuesday, September 2nd., 2008: I downloaded the trial version of Microsoft Live OneCare AV software. Utterly useless. Cannot remove a simple virus that occasionally arises and is well-known. Will try Kaspersky 7.0 for a while, and see if that's any better. I came home to find Windows Live OneCare is still finding something that it has supposedly cleansed.

After installing Kaspersky, it has seemingly disinfected the particular files. But, seemingly is the correct word: it is doing the same damn thing that OneCare did. It's disinfected, but no it isn't. I had to delete a massive folder and now things have quietened down. Eventually I think that the machine is free of problems, except for the idiotic messages about 'learning' that Kaspersky continually shows for the same event.

Thursday, September 11th., 2008: Most of the day spent updating my back-up domain controller. There was a problem that crashed the system, so I removed two hard drives and replaced them with two double the size. The two separate drives, including the boot drive are now 73GB nominally each. The four drives on the Adaptec 3200s were made into a RAID-5 system. It took several tries at removing the array, reinstalling the driver, and other stuff before the RAID array was seen under Win2003Ent R2 SP2. Now, having made the respective main Office folders and extracted the SP1 Office files into the particular updates folders, I am in the process of installing Office 2007 Ultimate. Then I shall renew the Domain Controller relationship. Plus, all the other things necessary to make a machine more easily usable.

Sunday, September 14th., 2008: The Adaptec Storage Manager installed on Lancaster, the BDC, does not see the array, although it can read the situation in the I2O Adaptec boot programme. This is one of two weird items. The other is the inability to use the Start Menu. I cannot open anything after any period has elapsed after booting up. The menu is unusable after any time period. There is no ability to expand folders, there is a momentary flash and nothing appears. I have looked all over the web but nothing appropriate has been discovered.

Just discovered that nothing can be opened in Event Viewer. That's bloody useful, what? This is a clean install, so what can be wrong? Nothing useful discovered so far, except maybe it's time to retire this box and find a newer one that I can install 2008 Enterprise thereon.

I wonder whether it was worthwhile to pay for an update to Acronis backup/restore/clone software (the True Image stuff). The update won't update because it fails to recognise the valid older serial number. I am waiting for a response, but they don't seem to want to answer my emails begun on their support pages. Another idiocy is that searching on any subject on their support pages constantly fails, especially when I have to enter my again valid user name. What is happening with them? Faking every part of their business?

Sunday, September 21st., 2008: No reply of any worth from Acronis: I will be approaching the BBB tomorrow, and going elsewhere if that fails to produce a satisfactory result.

Tuesday, September 23rd., 2008: I tried BBB on the web: waste of time. There is no actual category available for this problem that I could discover. I shall use another approach to obtain redress from Acronis.

Thursday, September 25th., 2008: I had opened an incident with Microsoft concerning the Lancaster BDC box. Spent a couple of hours on it last night with a phone call from India. Today, an Active Directory guru phoned me from Delhi and we were able to run dcpromo twice to remove AD and then reinstall it. When it was removed, the machine could run everything.

When the guru ran the box, using RDP, from the PDC, Rutland, he could operate it as normal. As soon as he had closed the ticket, I discovered that the problems with opening programmes and using Event Viewer, etc., returned. Using any administrator account changed nothing. I ran dcpromo once more, to discover that, as a standalone server it works properly. For example, I reinstalled Adaptec Storage Manager Pro and it now it recognised the Adaptec adapter and the drives installed. That was impossible prior to this date, after I had installed the programme when I ran the clean installation of W2003Ent on the machine.

I could also, can also, open any programme in any normal fashion.

I would infer from this that there is a befuddlement in user rights somewhere, but I cannot discover it, because using administrator rights should enable one to install, open, uninstall any programme or service with impunity.

Today, Acronis sent me two emails advertising VM backup, cloning software which relate to the two accounts that I have with them. They have not, however, answered my emails or my phone complaint, with regard to the upgrade that seemingly is not allowable anyway from 9.1 to 11. What a ridiculous situation.

Friday, September 26th., 2008: A further chat with Acronis via the tool on their web page elicited the statement that I could download the latest update to True Image Workstation, still the 9.1 version, for no cost. That I have done: the blurb was about 11 Home, not Workstation. Mea culpa.

The problem with my ex-BDC has elicited the remark from the techie in Delhi, that they have never had such a problem before. Well now, that's interesting enough to make me want to upgrade at least one of the two main servers to 2008 Enterprise. Will have to think long and hard about it.

Saturday, September 27th., 2008: When Lancaster was acting as BDC, FireFox wanted to update itself to version 3.0.2. Now that it is not a BDC, I started up FireFox to discover that the update had failed and it needed to correct that. This is another odd thing about the working status of the BDC, similar to the experience for Adaptec Storage Manager Pro, which failed to discover the adapter and its drives. It would appear that there are some strange security factors, but I cannot determine the particular offenders, and given that I cannot open Event Viewer items when it's a BDC, how would I ever be able to fix things?

Tuesday, September 30th., 2008: Went off to the CAA office to put some money on my Visa card. Then down town to check the sales in the library basement, a coffee, the store and back home. Attempted to use IE8 beta to register for the one-day Ottawa Microsoft TechDay scheduled for late November. This was an early bird offer, and IE8 failed twice. Using FireFox 3.0.3 the application worked immediately. Therefore, I assume that IE8 has a flaw in using https pages. I have reported this to both the OWSUG boss and to the Lenos financial arm.

Further, on the old DC, Lancaster, FireFox has told me that 3.0.3 updates have failed twice even though it seemingly was successful prior to that. Odd computer behaviour, which further pressures me to retire it for a more modern machine: Oh, for an HP DL785 G5!! Or three, because I would like two of them for workstation use, because these beasts have eleven PIC-Express slots and can be allied with up to 512GB DDR registered DIMMs.

Thursday, October 2nd., 2008: After trying to register using IE beta 8, used FireFox 3.0.3 and was able to book attendance at Microsoft TechDays Ottawa, in November. That's good, because it is a local event and will result in some decent software being given to all those there. The included 6-month TechNet subscription provides a problem, however. According to what I have discovered, one cannot use it to prolong one's current subscription. That is a marketing mistake, although I understand that MS wants to increase the number of people in the subscription database. Doesn't help those like me, who have advertised to friends what the day out will provide.

What is wrong with Expression Web? I tried to upload four files. It fails with a message that web site cannot be found on Port 80. So, I try again and again. Then, I try the smallest file and it asks me if I want to overwrite the file. Yes, and boom, it's there. Close the folder, press View, Refresh, and all four files are there. How strange.

Tuesday, October 14th., 2008: Only just, it is nearly midnight, as the Harper minority government returns, after the waste of money yet again. What price stupidity at the top?

Point is, one drive on Rutland gave errors, and the ease of ntbackup and a spare drive enabled me to return to normal very quickly. Nice to have a few spare drives hanging around. The errors arose after a reboot following an ITunes update.

Thursday, October 16th., 2008: I can recommend Kaspersky antivirus software. After a few weeks usage, the computers are all running fine and Internet access gives no worries. The learning process for PC and Server machines works differently in each case, as does scanning, but I now feel that the software was beneficial. The server software is a full version 30 day appraisal, which I intend to make permanent. It is a lot cheaper than some other firms offerings.

Saturday, October 18th., 2008: One learns by doing, I find. I could not upload largish executables to this site using http. There was a constantly occurring Port 80 error. So, I thought to try opening the site as ftp, and, lo and behold, the upload worked first time. Now I know what to do. And I'm glad, because a drive that I bought came with a win32.parite virus, and infected my whole network. Therefore, I decided to replace all the executables on my web sites that were infected within my Win 2003 network.

Sunday, October 19th., 2008: I have emailed Kaspersky about the problem with a virus saved within the System Volume Information on several drives on an XP Pro machine. I had received a drive and installed it, and even though it was formatted, it had a virus that wasn't deleted. The virus transmitted itself through the network. I have used Kaspersky products, both PC and Server versions, to clean the drives: there is one odd problem remaining, that is shown in the image below.

Note that if one deletes the file it goes to backup. What is that? This is an executable file in a hidden RPxxx folder within the System Volume Information folder on the NTFS drives. There are no files of that name discoverable in a normal search: and that's because these executables are restore points for XP in each of the folders and they relate to particular dates. What's going on here?

So, how does Kaspersky remove this? I have been advised of several instances of this virus, during any and every day since installation of the software, in one of the RPxxx folders, announcing themselves through the pig squeal that Kaspersky uses. This is the result using the latest PC version 7.0.x of Kaspersky.

Using the Kaspersky Server version for Windows 2003 (the OS on my servers), the problem is absent, repeated scans give no affected files. I have now finished with deleting and replacing all of the executables that were/are on my web sites, conforming to the list I had made of the previously infected files.

Monday, October 20th., 2008: I updated the Kaspersky software on one PC to see how it works. If this version, 2009, works well, then I will update the other PCs as well. Early days.

I went on to the chat page at Kaspersky: no answer regarding where the back up goes. There was a request by the techie for me to run the programme with a deep scan. Well, one tries, but it won't work. It hangs every time on the F: drive's System Information File (hidden contents) and shows infection by the Parite again and again in different folders. See above for the 'Full Scan' box and its attendant 'Threats have been detected': click either to reveal details. It continually sticks on the 1% completed state.

An update: the scan is progressing, it says, except that nothing but the clock is running. Everything is stuck on 1%. After nearly 4 hours suddenly the scan moved to 2% and things are quickening.

Tuesday, October 21st., 2008: The Kaspersky PC version finished a full, deep scan at 08:00 this morning. I shall be interested to see whether the report that everything was disinfected or deleted is correct. With the previous version, that was not true, since it could not apparently remove the parite virus.

Given my experiences of late, I believe that my network is now clean of malware, viruses, trojans and the like, given that I have updated the PC version of Kaspersky's Internet Security. I have received an email from them offering the chance of having 3 years' protection for the price of two. If nothing untoward occurs, I shall probably take up the offer.

I came back at 15:00 hrs from seeing the doctor about my hip, and after visiting a couple of other places. No virus activity apparent from Kaspersky activity. I can now believe the network is finally clear of this pest.

Thursday, October 23rd., 2008: OWSUG meeting this evening: the ins and outs of Exchange 2007. Quite interesting, but I shall need a 64-bit server to play with this major Microsoft product.

Friday, October 31st., 2008: Apparently, this is a known problem, but I can not download anything from the TechNet site using Windows Server 2003. The file transfer manager gives errors. However, using XP Pro PCs there are no problems. So, it's a pest, but it is just a memento.

Wednesday, November 5th., 2008: I have had troubles with Firefox: hanging, especially on javacscript and flash pages. One thing that was necessary was to disable a line in about:config (you know what that is? Ensure that this is how it looks on the particular line: network.protocol-handler.external.javascript ; false which means that it's the Firefox javascript that is enabled, not anything else. It took me some time to discover this was important.

Sunday, December 14th., 2008: I have Web Expression 2 on DVD, but have not yet installed it: procrastination.

One thing about Outlook, the latest version with all updates: it is totally inconsistent. I try to stop all of the persistent casino emails. They are constantly altering the originating email account. However, Outlook does not always place them in junk mail by any stretch of the imagination. It happens that these particular emails can number in the hundreds on some days. That is ridiculous, and I wish they would cease, but Outlook is of no use.

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