More things I like :-)

 

I’ve sold my big Acer laptop and the cash has been put towards a new toy πŸ™‚

I’ve ordered a HP Mini-Note 2133 from E-Buyer (their UK pricing was considerably better than even HP themselves!). In order to keep it all shiny and protected I’ve also ordered and sleeve-case from Waterfield Designs and I have to say it was one of the best examples of customer service I’ve come across in years!

I placed my order, it’s simple as all things on the web these days are… and a few hours later I got an e-mail from Gary (the founder) asking for some more info about my address (apparently "British Isles" doesn’t count as a proper country in the States πŸ™‚ ) after a quick explanation that UK or Great Britain would suffice, it was all good. 

I’ve had a couple more messages back and forth with them since then, confirmation of exactly what was ordered and a dispatch confirmation. All in all I have to say, I am extremely impressed! I’ll post more once it arrives – but I have no doubt that I’ll  have nothing but positive things to say. πŸ™‚

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Things I like….

Top of the things I like has to be the 1-Click upgrade to WordPress 2.6.1 that I did a couple of days ago…. it’s such a doddle πŸ™‚Β  You click the “Upgrde Me” button and await an email telling you that it’s complete – the whole proces takes about 3 minutes and is utterly painless.

It copies your old install to a directory, and upgrades stuff as required – the only thing I needed to do afterwards were to click the upgrade button to do the required “stuff” (1) to the MySQL Database andΒ  to move my custom header image back into the appropriate directory in the live version…. all of 30 seconds work and none of the (slightly) painful download, unzip, upload, tweak, pray, tweak somemore, pray again process that was upgrading before I switched to Dreamhost.

I’m going to try and blog a bit more in the coming months…. honest! We’re going off travelling in a little over 2 months – so there should be photo’s and comments from around the world…. the tech focus might go for a while – but that’s hardly the end of the world when I average a post every 6 months at the moment πŸ™‚ We shall just have to see how dedicated I feel asΒ  travel.

I’m selling my “big” laptop (an Acer Aspire 9301AWSMi – see the details here and give me a shout if you’re interested) and hoping to by an HP 2133 Mini-Note to take with us for the trip….. I’m happy to hear any thoughts people have on “better” options – but cheap, light and decent build quality are of paramount importance. I’d also like to be able to run XP and have a copy of my music / photo’s (and maybe a couple of movies) with me – so I’ll need ~50Gb of storage for that….. hence an SSD netbook is probably not suitable…..

(1) This is a highly technical term that means I have absolutely NO idea what goes on in the background πŸ™‚

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I’ve moved…….

not that it should be all that obvious πŸ™‚

I’ve moved the blog to Dreamhost and so far so good….. it’s nice – a 1 click install of WordPress and a quick Import / Export of the old posts, change the header picture and here we are…..

So far I’m very happy, it’s all good and I get Google Apps / Mail for domains into the bargain…..

The hosting costs are pretty much identical to Crystaltech give or take $1 per month (and I get a lot more space and bandwidth for my cash) – but it’s on a Linux host rather than Windows – so all sorts of things should work better including posting from my phone πŸ™‚ a Nokia N95 8Gb which is very nice so far….

Anyway…. off for a bit more testing of phone posts etc and some plugins to install……

UPDATE – Some images seem to be a bit broken… I’m working on it πŸ™‚

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I know…..

It’s been too long – but I’ve been busy!

Work is hectic, I’ve booked a round the world trip (more info to come soon on that…), and there’s just generally been a lot going on …..

I’ve been playing with U3 and the Portable Apps suite in the last couple of weeks – and Portable Apps has won the battle – my Sandisk Cruzer Micro 8Gb U3 drive has been formatted and Portable Apps installed – it’s mostly the same applications – but it’s less “intrusive” πŸ™‚

My Home Server is a little more stable now – but I guess I’m going to have to save up and buy a “proper” one at some point (I like these), the mix and match approach doesn’t really seem to be conducive to a stable server and a happy backup database…. thankfully I’ve not had to try and restore any data recently!

Another bonus is that the “XBox360 as a Media Centre Extender” concept that I introduced to the house 6 months ago is finally gaining some traction, Becs is getting the hang of streaming DVD’s (converted to HD-WMV and stored on the Server) and I’m giving serious thought to getting an “Arcade” for the other TV in the Kitchen / Diner to allow us to stream to there as well…more for music admittedly, but with HDMI it’s as capable as my Elite for video πŸ™‚ I’m just waiting for a black version to appear now…..

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How to make a Home Server user VERY sad…

a.k.a How to lose a customer and evangelist with one move.

Now I’ve been very keen on Windows Home Server – it’s been the thing that’s made me “happy” most in computing terms – I got my RTM copy some time ago, and I’ve been more than happy up until about 3 minutes ago – I would have recommended it to anyone, and did to several friends. Now, however, I’m NOT HAPPY AT ALL.

We’ll start at the beginning, I have a couple of PC’s / laptops floating around the house, and they’re all running Vista. So far so good…. I got WHS and set it up to backup everything each night and had some other stuff synced to the shared folders using Foldershare all in all I was very happy. I had some issues with the 500Gb Disks I was using in external USB caddies for additional storage and had set them back for replacement a couple of times due to mechanical failures (read: load clunking noise and no data) but I thought I was past that. (I’ll do a rant about the disks another day when I’m not quite so upset)

I was getting an occasional error with one disk “disappearing” but a reboot of the caddy and the server seemed to resolve it each time. I wasn’t too concerned…..

Then the hard disk in my Primary PC started playing up – the odd funny noise, and the infrequent hang became more frequent…. so I ordered a replacement disk and loaded up my restore CD – all fine so far, I booted and it found everything and so I kicked off my restore. It failed part way through as the disappearing disk went walkies….. no problems – I had sufficient spare disk space to remove the disk from the storage pool and then do the restore.

Now at this point I think it’s prudent to mention that this PC was the one with the PST files for both my Outlook and my Wife’s primary mail account…. (approximately 4.5 years of mail for her and more like 6-7 for me) everything else was backed up elsewhere… just not these files as WHS had them covered….. can you see where this is heading yet?

SO I start the removal process and I’m informed that all I will lose is the duplication of a couple of folders – all my Data and Backups will be safe. Lovely, so get on with removing the disk please…..

24 hours later when the removal process finishes, I unplug the offending disk and reboot the server to ensure that all is as it should be. When I reboot, I check the server storage screen in the WHS console and this is what I saw:

Hopefully you can see that there’s a lack of BACKUPS in the pie chart….

I did some digging through the event logs and found this really helpful message:

Great….. so my data is gone and my wife is likely to send my balls the same way when she finds out…. Thanks for fuck-all Microsoft!

If there’s anyone from the WHS team that is reading this and has any ideas – I’m open to suggestions – please leave a comment….. or better still get in touch – slimboyfat (at) gmail (dot) com I’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, I’m going to leave my server switched off to ensure that nothing “bad” happens to the data still on there, and look at other backup solutions…..

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Home Server – lost in post?

Following my post yesterday, and my excitement at the availability of the RTM software it was only a matter of time before I was disappointed…… Novatech are now reporting that they are expecting stock on September 14th rather than yesterday πŸ™

On the plus side, the wonderful guys at SVP have got stock of their 500Gb PATA drives again (Β£52.30 + VAT) – so one was duly ordered first thing this morning and is en-route now. I suspect that it should arrive along with its’ SATA siblings tomorrow if all goes according to plan πŸ™‚  This will give me all the storage I need to rebuild my server… Just a USB2 PCI card to come. I’ll have 1 500Gb PATA drive internally, 2 500Gb SATA drives in external caddies attached via USB2.0 (hopefully), and still have 2 USB2.0 & 4 USB1.1 ports free for expansion – loadsa room!!

I’ve managed to source a PCI USB2.0 card in the UK, but it’s also out of stock until ~18th September – so it looks like the big rebuild is gonna have to wait a while πŸ™ There’s also the small matter of no guarantee that it’s supported by WHS – it’s got Windows 2003 Server drivers – so I’m hoping that it’ll be OK… otherwise I may be in the market for a new chassis to house all the kit…. more expense I could do without….

In the meantime, I have my CCNA exam a week on Monday – so the study has commenced πŸ™‚ and so far, so good….. subnetting actually seems to be making sense this time around – I’ve “understood” it before – well enough for MCSE at least – but I suspect that a better understanding is required for CCNA πŸ˜‰

Enough waffle for one day – I’ll post my impressions of the new hardware once it arrives – especially the drive caddies…. I’m hoping they’re better than some of the previous ones I’ve had.

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