Graham’s Blog

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Months Have Past…

So…

Months have past and I have not posted a darn thing and there is so much to say. I hope to get to posting quickly and regularly after the start of the new year.

Thanks for being patient…

December 30, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Windows Vista and Office 2007

Here we go…. I went ahead and bit the bullet and am gradually switching our systems over to Windows Vista. I started slow with my laptop, then over the weekend to Amber’s laptop and now to my main system (don’t worry, I made it dual booting with both Vista and XP Pro, I have not gone all the way off of the deep end quite yet).

I have been forced in to learning all of the ins and outs of the operating system because I am going to have to support it, and I also have to have a couple users close by that I need to support and see what kind of troubles they run in to. I have also installed 6 new machines at a client’s office using Vista at their request so I can start learning the quirks of supporting this OS there as well. Fortunately, most of the work that this client does is interne and MS Office 2003 based so we don’t have any major application compatibilities to overcome there.

Thus far here is what I am finding in Vista…. More about Office 2007 below.
I am finding Windows Vista to be much less cumbersome than I originally thought it was from the betas that I looked at. There are a number of quirky things in the OS that are frustrating, yet easy to deal with.
First and formost is user account control, this is, to me, Microsoft’s way of trying to protect the users from themselves (see this funny Mac Ad and believe it or not, it is VERY accurate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfetbidVUYw. ) You can turn it off, but in order to not get annoying warnings, you have to turn off all of the windows security alerts. In my case, that is not a big deal, I turned off User Account Control and the security alerts, but for the average user, this is a dangerous proposition… I would hope to see a fix for this in the future, but I think this is a way for MS programmers to thumb their nose at everyone who grunts about MS Security.
Something else that I ran in to on my desktop system is an issue with multiple monitor support. With Windows XP, it was not particular about my video cards. I use 3 monitors, I had an ATI PCI Express dual output video card in my main slot and an Nvidia dual output card in a PCI slot. Vista does NOT like this.. XP was fine, but Vista would only allow one or the other to function. You have to have MATCHING manufacturer chipsets in your multiple video cards so off I went to pick up an Nvidia PCI-e card for my pc to match the cards and the multiple monitor support works fine now with up to 4 monitors avalible.
One thing that Apple has been saying is a drawback of Vista is all of the hardware upgrades that you have to do to make it work. This was not the case for me. I have only had one hardware compatibility issue (other than the video card thing which really does not count) so far on my 1 year old custom PC and that is with a cheap and old multi card reader so no biggie there. If you are trying to install a brand new upgraded operating system on a PC that is more than a couple years old and want it to perform at optimum capacity, you, in my eyes, are fooling youself. As cheap as systems are these days it makes more sense to upgrade your WHOLE machine than to just upgrade your current computer. Heck, for what you can buy a Vista Upgrade for, along with memory, video and any other stuff you need, you could have already bought a new machine. You can get a Vista machine from Dell witha 19″ monitor for $600 so why bother with upgrading?? You do not want to run Vista as an upgrade anyway, you need to do a clean install, upgrading only brings the problems that you HAD on your computer to your upgraded system.
From an application standpoint here are the issues that I have and how I will work around them…
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver MX – Some functions don’t work properly – Solution: It is time for me to upgrade
  • Adobe Acrobat 6 – Does not work properly in Vista – Solution: Adobe 7 and 8 work fine time to upgrade.

Those are the ONLY applications that I use that have issues. I really can’t complain if I am using software that is 3 versions old if it is not supported in a new OS. There are, however, a number of current applications that my clients use that are not supported in Vista, these are mostly smaller software companies who waited too long to develop for Vista…Shame on them for being so far behind. Shame on MS and Retailers for not making XP systems readily avalible, maybe these companies will learn in the future before the next OS release to be more prepared.

The long and the short of it…. So far, I really like the operating system, there are some really cool things, a neat new look and some fun tools. Is switching to Vista going to increase your productivity, probably not… but it will give you a new outlook on your computer, just like XP did when it came out with the new look in 2002. I look forward to some of the software companies getting on the stick and making the products that my clients use function in Vista.

Now…. On to Office 2007. I will only say a couple things at this point….
  • Cool new look
  • Tough to find formatting and tools menus but once you find them, easy to use
  • Lots of cool new productivity functions
  • BAD BAD – New file formats for .doc etc files that are not backwards compatible without a conversion tool. Need to save files that you will be emailing or sharing in old format so everyone with office 2003 back can read them.

Get your prices down Microsoft, your products, though good, are WAY too expensive when there are other MAC and Open source options for people to utilize out there.

April 2, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You’ll never look at flying the same way!

So… As I was “secretly” reading the news this evening, I came across this article. Never, did I think about what would happen if someone died on a flight I was on…. Now I know!!

(Taken from Fox News – 3/19/07) A British Airways passenger travelling first class has described how he woke up on a long-haul flight to find that cabin crew had placed a corpse in his row.
The body of a woman in her seventies, who died after the plane left Delhi for Heathrow, was carried by cabin staff from economy to first class, where there was more space. Her body was propped up in a seat, using pillows. The woman’s daughter accompanied the corpse, and spent the rest of the journey wailing in grief.
Paul Trinder, who awoke to see the body at the end of his row, last week described the journey as “deeply disturbing”, and complained that the airline dismissed his concerns by telling him to “get over it”.
“It was a complete mess — they seemed to have no proper plans in place to deal with the situation,” said Trinder, 54, a businessman from Brackley, Northamptonshire.

The woman died during a nine-hour flight on a Boeing 747. Trinder was catching up on sleep when he was woken by a commotion and opened his eyes to see staff manueuvering the body into a seat. “I didn’t have a clue what was going on. The stewards just plonked the body down without saying a thing. I remember looking at this frail, sparrow-like woman and thinking she was very ill,” said Trinder. “She kept slipping under the seatbelt and moving about with the motion of the plane. When I asked what was going on I was shocked to hear she was dead.”

The woman’s daughter and son-in-law arrived soon after and began grieving. Trinder said: “It was terrifying. I put my earplugs in but couldn’t get away from the fact that there was a woman wailing at the top of her voice just yards away. It was a really intense, primal sound. “I felt helpless. Grief is a very personal thing; it’s not as if there was anything I could do or say.”
Trinder, chief executive of Capital Safety, which makes products for the building industry, holds a BA gold card and travels more than 200,000 miles a year with the airline. He became particularly concerned about the state of the body. “When you have a decaying body on a plane at room temperature for more than five hours there are significant health and safety risks,” he said.
After the plane landed, those in first class remained on board for an hour before police and a coroner gave the all-clear. “The police even started interviewing me as a potential witness, although I had no idea what had happened to the woman. I just kept thinking to myself: ‘I’ve paid more than £3,000 for this’,” Trinder said.
When contacted by BA about the complaint, Trinder says he was told he would not be compensated and should “get over” the incident. BA said the dead woman was taken into first class because the rest of the plane was full.
A spokesman said: “When a customer passes away on board it is always difficult and we apologize for any distress caused.” He said there were about 10 deaths each year out of 36 million passengers.
Other carriers use different procedures. Singapore Airlines has introduced “corpse cupboards” on its Airbus 340-500 aircraft. Cabin crews use the locker if there is no empty row of seats to place a corpse.

March 19, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RAID – It’s not bug spray!

RAID (redundant array of independent disks; originally redundant array of inexpensive disks) is a way of storing the same data in different places (thus, redundantly) on multiple hard disks. By placing data on multiple disks, I/O (input/output) operations can overlap in a balanced way, improving performance. Since multiple disks increases the mean time between failures (MBTF), storing data redundantly also increases fault tolerance.

How can this be a lifesaver for someone like me? Since both drives act as one…They are both getting the same data written on both drives. Well after 3 server drive failures and a current upgrade that I am working on now, it makes the times that you have to do disaster recovery few and far between. In a RAID 1 array, which I use lots, if one drive fails, the server (or computer) keeps running withought skipping a beat just with one drive functioning, this gives you time to replace the failed drive with a new one and keep moving along. No need to replace the operating system etc. When you have to upgrade, it is usually as easy as imaging the old drive(s) on to the new one and off you go. (This is what I am doing now and I am in the hurry up and wait stage – waiting for Data to copy over.) Just thought I would share another day in the life of Graham with a boring Techie Post!
Have a great one!

March 19, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spring has Sprung!

Spring is sprung in Boise! Today has been a busy one…. Spraying Roundup on the weeds, Zamzows, Home Depot and lots of outside time. Even got a chance to walk the dogs!! (Oh… and I put in a couple hours of work today, which is a whole nother story… We are amazed at the beautiful weather.

Work… speaking of work, it was nice last night to have some friends over and have one of them tell me (after a client called at 9:30pm) that he has a whole new appreciation of what I do and how I do it. He recently went to work for one of our clients so he has a new look at what, exactly, it is that I do. The types of calls I get, and the running around town that I do to get things taken care of. This was something real nice to hear.
All in all, we can say that it has been a great weekend! We are really happy that the cold weather, for the most part, is starting to subside, lawns are going to start to green up and I may even have to break out the lawn mower in a week or so!

March 18, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment