Monthly Archives: February 2007

Microsoft Zune: Snot Rocket Edition

I had the misfortune of helping someone install this yesterday.  The install is painfully long, but I’ll save that for another post.  Anyway, the installer includes a slideshow of people listening to Zune’s and just hanging out.  One of those pictures is of a young girl laying on a young guy.  In that picture you can see clear up her nose.  And what’s up her nose?  Some hair and a big BOOGER.  See for yourself:

Snot Rocket Edition

InfoWorld: Smokers may be the weak IT security link

Oh boy.  Don’t let your boss see this. 

It may sound slightly far-fetched. But a penetration tester from NTA Monitor, a company based in Rochester, England, gained access to a professional services company outside London that way, said Roy Hills, technical director.

The company hired NTA to test if it was possible to get inside the premises without proper identification, Hills said. The penetration tester waited until the smokers finished their break, then slipped in through the unlocked door, which wasn’t the main one but publicly accessible.

http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/02/16/HNsmokersweaklink_1.html?source=NLC-TB&cgd=2007-02-16

Put down those butts and get back to work. 

Windows Installer Cleanup Utility

I found a MS tool the other day that saved me lots of time.  One of my users needed iTunes upgraded (there is a legitimate business need).  Something went wrong in the iTunes program and it would not uninstall.  The problem appeared to be with Quicktime.  I could not get iTunes uninstalled or reinstalled.  I found a posting on the internet that mentioned the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility from Microsoft.  Here is the Microsoft description:

SUMMARY

Microsoft has updated the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility. With the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility, you can remove a program’s Windows Installer configuration information. You may want to remove the Windows Installer configuration information for your program if you experience installation (Setup) problems. For example, you may have to remove a program’s Windows Installer configuration information if you have installation problems when you try to add (or remove) a component of your program that was not included when you first installed your program.

The Windows Installer CleanUp Utility does not perform the following functions:

Remove Windows Installer
Remove files of any programs that are installed by Windows Installer, such as Microsoft Office 2003

The Windows Installer CleanUp Utility does perform the following functions:

Provides a dialog box in which you can select one or more programs that were installed by Windows InstallerTo do this, select the programs that you want in the Installed Products list in the Windows Installer CleanUp dialog box. After you make this selection, the utility removes only the Windows Installer configuration information that is related to those programs.
Removes the files and registry settings that make up the Windows Installer configuration information for programs that you select

If you use this utility to remove the Windows Installer configuration information for your program and you plan to reinstall the program, you should reinstall the program in the same folder where you originally installed it. This prevents duplication of files on your hard disk or disks.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290301

This tool was extremely useful for me.

Apple Servers are Missing One Key Component (and maybe 2)

Apple likes to think they are at the cutting edge of the tech industry and they are in many ways.  One way in which Apple falls short is in extended warranty support for the Xserve.  The Xserve is Apples 1U rack-able server.  They make an accompanying product called the Xserve RAID.  The Xserve RAID is a box of disks.  My company has an Xserve and the RAID box.  It is going out of warranty and Apple does not sell an extended warranty plan.  Our only option is per incident support, and/or to purchase spare parts and keep them on hand.  Other than that, we are on our own.

Servers these days are capable of running for more than 3 years without replacement.  There is nothing wrong with our box.  Apple wants to break into the server room, but they don’t provide the support to do it.

The second thing that Apple is missing is the ability to run OS X virtually, but that’s a whole other story. 

Apple Xserve

Are all Apple employees paranoid or just the one I’m dealing with?

My current Apple sales rep is a guy named Ron from somewhere in CA.  I’ve brought up a couple of the consumer products just out of personal interest and friendly banter (iPhone, Apple TV, etc.).  Each time he said “did you hear that at Mac Rumors?”  Ummm, no.  I read it at apple.com.  Paranoia must be running wild in Cupertino.  I knew Apple was all wound up about the Mac Rumors thing, but damn.  BTW, Check out fellow WordPresser  Apple Recon.

The Visual Ops Handbook: Starting ITIL in 4 Practical Steps

I’m going to be talking about this a lot (hopefully) in the near future.  Basically, my IT department needs a major improvement in the change management and unplanned work area.  Things have gotten more chaotic and for no good reason.  I recently read an article (which I cannot find) from InfoWorld.  It talks about how ITIL could be useful in situations such as mine.  I decided to purchase a book that I think will give me a good foundation of what ITIL is in general and how to implement it.  The book is called The Visual Ops Handbook by Kevin Behr, Gene Kim, and George SpaffordIt’s available at your local Amazon.

MS Zune needs firewall port open to update.

Today I was tasked with testing a Microsoft Zune prior to installation for one of our users.  It’s the first time I have gotten intimate with one.  The Zune was a neat looking little brown device.  It has a nice size screen and the interface is ultra-simplistic.

 So I begin to test it.  I used the first spare machine I could find to test it.  I insert the CD and the Zune software tells me that there is a problem with the device “or Windows.”  I checked the machine and what do I find?  It’s an XP SP1 machine.  Then I get my hands on another machine that I knew had SP2.  The software begins to install.  It starts by downloading and installing updates.  That goes well (though quite slow).  Then it begins to download “firmware.”  The “Downloading firmware” message stays at 0% for several minutes before I cancelled the install and tried again.  I had the same problem when I tried again.

 I suspected it was some sort of weird networking issue, so I tried the install on a machine outside the firewall.  This works!  At that point I was pretty confident it was some sort of blocked port.  My coworker suggests installing a program called “Active Ports” to the machine and trying the install again.  When I did this, I saw that the Zune software was attempting to communicate over port 3074.  This is only during the firmware update.  It works properly when it updates it’s own software.  I looked up the port number and found out that it is the “XBOX Game Port.”

 Now why the hell would Microsoft do that?  Why does the firmware need to be transported using port 3074?  I can’t understand it.

Nothing more important to a techie than…FOOD

Many people believe that the most important thing to a technologist is technology. In my opinion, that’s incorrect. The most important thing to a techie working in NYC is food. And in NY we’ve got tons of it. From Europa to Street Meat, White Castle to Hallo Berlin, there’s lots to eat. Here’s a blog that feeds the need for food info. Midtown Lunch says that “if you’re looking for a quick Midtown lunch for under $10, the good places require a little more digging.”

Today ML features Ressie Mae’s Soul Chicken and Waffles. This looks too good to be true!

Ressie Mae Soul Chicken and Waffles

Windows Vista Ultimate Headache

Let me preface this by saying that I am primarily a Windows user.  I like Microsoft software in general.  I have made a living off of supporting Microsoft software for a long time.  I have no grudge with MS and I hope Vista is successful.  It needs to be.  That said, my head hurts when I think about upgrading to Vista HomePremiumBusinessUltimateSupersize Edition. 

 Yesterday I got my first call from an acquaintance that had a botched install.  He tried to install Vista Ultimate on a Dell XPS 400.  Something went wrong somewhere in the process and the machine would not boot past a Disk.sys error.  He spent an hour on the phone with Microsoft.  MS suggested that he had a dead hard drive.  Bewildered, he called me.  I tried to work through it with him, but he was in his car and couldn’t get in front of the machine.  There are many possible complications to the problem:

  • Inexperienced user
  • Upgrade version of the software
  • 1,000,000 possible driver/hardware/OS compatibility issues
  • USB Keyboard
  • Couple other things I forgot

He asked about calling the “Geek Squad.”  I thought that could work, though at $250 for a home visit it’s expensive.  I’m sure I’ll be hearing from him on Monday. 

 Vista has been out less than a week and I am already getting calls.  I’m trying to figure out if that’s a good thing.

 Update: There appears to be something to this Dell-Vista problem.  I see that people are finding my post with the search terms below.  If anyone has advice, please let me know.  Thanks!

disk.sys vista 1
dell xps disk.sys windows vista 1
vista disk,sys error 1

Beware the HDMI Cable scam.

I recently aqcuired an HDTV and PS3.  The PS3 doesn’t come with an HDMI cable, so I went searching the internets and Best Buy for the best cable.   Monster Cable seems to have the most hype.  There are a few other cable manufacturers as well.  I was about shell out $100+ for a cable until I read this…  “Maybe this will help people understand HDMI cables.”   A gentleman going by the name of RUSirius explains the makeup of and differences between HDMI cables.

 Not all HDMI cables are the same, but they do meet the requirements of the HDMI specification.  There is a company called Monoprice.com that is a cable wholesaler.  Monoprice sells individual cables over the internet.  I purchased an HDMI cable from Monoprice for $17 and am extremely impressed.  The cable is thick and sturdy.  The picture is impressive.  And the best part is that I saved at least $100.  Read the article above and don’t get sucked in by the Monster hype.

I know some people aren’t comfortable with a no name like Monoprice.  Apple also sells a cable for $20.

 Greetings to Digg.com!  I posted this because I knew it would help people and save them some money too.  The PS3 is expensive enough.  No need to get robbed on a cable too.  Have a great day!

 Update 2: I see that Opposable Thumbs picked up on my post.  I am not registered there, so I will comment here.  The HDMI Cable Scam is meant to take advantage of people like us who are into technology and gaming.  We don’t like inferior equipment or getting ripped off.  I’m glad you put that post together.  It’s important that people know what their choices are. 

Also, we are being very generous to Monster.  Their cables are easily over $100.  Especially when you get into the gold plated, nitrogen infused stuff.  You said it best.  If you see an $80 difference, then keep the Monster cable.  Otherwise, no reason to get ripped off.