May
25
Filed Under (Geekspeak) by Justin on 2007-05-25

Earlier this year, I helped a co-worker’s daughter order a laptop. It’s nothing too fancy, a Dell Inspiron 6400, but it was just after Dell started selling PCs within Vista preloaded. This particular machine came with Vista Home Basic. We all know that Microsoft has spent years developing Vista, attempting to make it more secure and protect end-users from the nasty, back-alley internet we’ve all come to know and love.

My co-worker brought the machine in today for me to look at. Apparently, someone clicked on something in MySpace and the system is screwed. Vista is nice and all, I’m not saying it isn’t, but all the security “features” are making it impossible for me to repair anything. Looks like a system restore is in order.

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May
24
Filed Under (Geekspeak, Humor) by Justin on 2007-05-24

I actually saw this on Colbert a few weeks ago, but forgot to seek out the video and post it here. It’s just hilarious. Why is it so funny? Because true things are the funniest.

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May
19
Filed Under (Geekspeak, Work) by Justin on 2007-05-19

Tony has a post about anti-spam, specifically what the three worst cases for filitering spam.

The third worst thing: having spam get through to users. Of course, this is what we’re trying to fight, but having spam get through, although bad, isn’t the absolutely worse thing that can happen.

The second worst thing that can happen is blocking a good email. False positives are the challenge in anti-spam solutions. I would much rather have hundreds of spam messages get through than to block a single good message. But blocking a good message isn’t really the absolutely worst thing that can happen.

The worst thing: The absolutely worst thing that can happen in your anti-spam solution is to block a good email and not let anybody know about it!

I’ve been getting more and more complaints from my end-users at work in regards to junk in their inbox, and regardless of how they managed to subscribe themselves for it, it is still a problem. In my almost three years there, our policy has always been “Let the end-user be their own filter” rather than us filtering it on the server end of things. I’ve been pondering lately turning on our spam filtering service within Ipswitch, simply for logging purposes for a few weeks so I can gather some stats and not change a thing on the user end of things for now. After collecting data, I could make a judgment on whether or not something needed to be done. I probably don’t need to get too cozy with it though, as we’re planning to move our mail to a Linux box later in the year and that would just be another feature to have to implement.

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May
18
Filed Under (Geekspeak) by Justin on 2007-05-18

I’ve been messing around for two days now getting Vista Business installed on my work PC. So far, Adobe Reader 8.0 is the only application I’ve had real trouble with. Adobe’s installer is ignorant and will not work if you have User Account Control (UAC) disabled. UAC was causing me serious headaches with Synergy2 so I disabled it in a heartbeat, but the Adobe Reader 8 installer would always fail with an error about the Temp directory on the drive being full. I knew that was hogwash, so to Google I turned where I found this Adobe TechNote explaining that you had to turn UAC ON if you wanted to install Adobe Reader 8, and then you can turn it back off if you like. The other workaround was much simpler: right-click the installer and go to Properties, click the Compatibility tab, and check the “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” box and make sure Windows XP is selected.

I’ll post more thoughts on Vista at a later time. Hope this helps someone else.

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May
16
Filed Under (Geekspeak) by Justin on 2007-05-16

After months of waiting (for no reason might I add) I finally received my media and license keys for Office 2007 and Vista Business. Apparently, due to the timing of when we signed up, we fell into a gap where previous members were being sent their quarterly updates containing Vista/Office 2007 but new signups were still being sent the Fall ”06 Welcome Kit which contained XP and Office 2003. Go figure.

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May
16
Filed Under (Asterisk, Geekspeak, Work) by Justin on 2007-05-16

Well, in a few hours, it will have been a full seven days since my switchover to Asterisk and it’s all gone pretty smoothly. There were a few bumps here and there, mostly in regards to my failure to properly train end-users. It’s so hard for me as a techie to put myself in their shoes and think about their work flows and how they use certain pieces of hardware (and software for that matter) differently than I do as the IT department. We’ve also had some small echo issues with our Sangoma A101 and the PRI from US LEC/Paetec, with echo varying at times from “barely noticeable” to “hang up and call me back so I can hear you” at other times. I quickly learned something that I never ran across prior to troubleshooting the echo: echo training in Asterisk doesn’t work on T-1/PRI! The software echo cancel does work, but there’s no training, so it stays at a constant level all the time. Most all of our echo problems have been cured by setting “rxgain = -5” and “txgain = -10” in /etc/asterisk/zapata.conf. I’m still working on some key features that folks are wanting, such as BLF, but overall, everyone is REALLY happy and that makes me REALLY happy.

I mentioned last week that I was going to try switching to Outlook for my email while in the office. That was a flop. A big stinkin’ flop. I was miserable all day on Friday and was so frustrated when I got to work on Monday that I quickly moved back in to Thunderbird. I’m a creature of habit, and I could not make Outlook 2003 fit my work flow. It was definitely being counterproductive, and theres no room in my schedule lately for that.

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May
14
Filed Under (church, Geekspeak, Work) by Justin on 2007-05-14

Tony Dye,a church IT blogger whom I’ve discovered in recent weeks, continues to crank out content that is both interesting and relevant to both my day job and as a volunteer IT Manager/Tech Arts/Webmaster at Crestview.

Over the weekend, Tony posted about a Make It Right Fund at Microsoft which is a very intriguing idea from the customer service perspective. The MIRF caps out at around $40 million a year and “would give salespeople unlimited resources to solve customer problems.”

I would love to see some other big box companies, and even some online retailers implement something like this. Knowing upfront that your supplier/vendor has the resources available to make you happy, no matter what, would certainly be a reassuring factor and more than enough to encourage me to possibly spend my dollars with them instead of a company without such a guarantee. For example, USLEC, the telco I just signed a three-year term agreement with for T1/PRI service at work has an amazing customer service gurantee: “If, at any time, you are not satisified that the quality of USLEC’s network, service, or support is at least as good as your previous carrier(s)… you may terminate this agreement without penalty…”

It layman’s terms, it’s called “Putting your money where your mouth is” and it’s very reassuring to me as one-man IT department for a multi-million dollar company and as the “Chief Tech Guru” for my church.

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May
11
Filed Under (Geekspeak, Work) by Justin on 2007-05-11

I’m going to force myself to use Microsoft Outlook as my email client on my Windows box at work for at least the next week, maybe two. Since getting my Treo, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with having different versions of my address book scattered in so many places, on so many devices. Doing this will allow me to at least consolidate two of them and have my most recent contacts always at my hip. I’m not excited about it at all, but I figure it’s good to try things every once in a while.

It will also allow me to become a little more calendar-centric on my work PC. I’ve became fairly reliant on the Treo for keeping track of personal appointments and it’s been a real blessing since we’ve been so insanely busy lately. My Thunderbird mailbox files are being converted to .eml files right now for importing into Outlook Express, and then into Outlook 2003 (my Office 2007 and Vista stuff should be here any day!). I’ll be sure to log my thoughts here as the trial progresses.

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