Thursday, November 29, 2007

D-Link switch failure

Well, I didn't mean for this type of entry to mark my return to this blog (it's been very busy this week because of the bad computer week of last week), but this is too weird.

Last week (when all the network storage was blowing up), I came into work and a few devices were not talking to the network (namely, a plotter and a computer, both of which share an ethernet wall jack to our network through a wireless access point/router). I tinkered with the router a bit and finally they came back online. I figured the router was going bad and made a note of it and disregarded our secretary telling me that one of our printers seemed 'slow', since it was on the other side of the office.

Well, two days ago I came in, and same problem! I reset the wireless router again like I had the last time, but this time to no avail. But when I realized that the printer that was reported 'slow' the week before was also totally out this time, I took a trip to our server room and looked at our network map. Turns out, the two jacks that the wifi router and printer use both ran through the same D-Link DSS-5+ 10/100 Fast Ethernet Switch. Taking a look at the switch, I noticed that all the connected ports' indicator lights were flashing very rapidly and constantly. I pulled those cables and ran them through another switch and *presto* everything started working again. I figured, "switch went bad"'s pretty basic-no IP address of its own, no configuration, not even a reset button. I tried just power-cycling it a few times (waiting varying times before powering it on again), but it stayed in the same behavior. Since it's a pretty cheap switch, I just ordered a replacement (upgrading to a nice gigabit switch...yay).

End of story, usually.

Here's the weird part - I went home last night and my computer was offline. I power-cycled the DSL modem, no change. Since my DSL modem had all the appropriate lights, I went downstairs and checked our was online! I went back up to my computer and checked the signal path - turns out I use the exact same D-Link switch to branch out to the ethernet connections after the DSL modem/wifi router. Explains why the Wii was still online - it goes right to my DSL modem wirelessly. Looking at the D-Link switch, I noticed all the active ports' lights were flashing just like the one at work had. So I bypassed that switch and plugged right into my DSL modem, and came right back online. Another weird thing was that I remembered that sometime last week it had been offline for about 10 minutes, but I tinkered with the DSL modem until it started working again - quite possibly the same kind of 'warning' outage that I'd had at work and thought I'd resolved with another device as well.

So here's the question: how do two identical devices which are otherwise not related or linked at all (and that have no timekeeping mechanism in them, upgradeable firmware or even reset buttons) fail within 24 hours of each other!!?

Anyone else have a D-Link DSS-5+ switch go out this week?


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bad week for computers...

Wow, has this been a bad week for computers! On Friday, my network at work started blowing up oddly - turns out that we had 17 kilobytes of free space left, after 8 months of me monitoring it at 4 Gb and seeing it fall only slowly. So I took emergency measures to increase the free space again so we can work until we get the new drives in place (hopefully today). Monday I came in and half of our devices in my branch were offline with no apparent cause. I had to wipe out and reconfigure one of our routers before it came back online.

Then today, I got a call from a guy in one of our other offices; it looks like his hard drive in his computer is fried. Completely and suddenly. Hopefully a computer shop will be able to recover his data at least; he's not on our server network, so many files only exist on his computer and whatever backups he's been doing.

Anyone else been having serious computer troubles this week?

Anyway, I'll be back after Thanksgiving somewhat, but I've been crazy busy lately - I guess that's what happens leading up to Christmas!

Happy turkey day, everyone! Give thanks.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Check Mii Out!

Another new channel for the Wii has finally been released (and it's been quite a while since this one was announced)! It's called "Check Mii Out", and it's basically a place to share the Mii's (avatars) you've created on the Mii channel. They have a section where you just share your Mii's for fun, then they've got another section where they'll hold contests you can enter with your Mii's.

The current contest is looking for a Mii that looks most like Mario (of Super Mario Brothers fame), without his hat. I guess you'll have to go into Mario64 and let that bird take your hat to make sure you get it right!

There are just some impressive Miis that have been submitted in the plaza however...Darth Vader, an endless variety of Michael Jacksons, Kermit and Miss Piggy...the list goes on! I really can't figure out how they got some of these characters from the (fairly basic) Mii creator options! This channel allows you to copy any Miis in the plaza right onto your Wii, then rename and/or edit them yourself...much more flexible than Miis you 'mail' to another Wii from the Mii channel directly (doing this causes a read-or-delete-only copy of the Mii to be sent to the other console - no renaming or editing is allowed). It'd be fun to get into a boxing match with Vader!

On a side note, WOW did this channel download fast! It's all due to our significantly upgraded Internet connection speed, but it downloaded faster than NES games used to! That's going to make downloading VC games so's faster to download them than to transfer them to/from an SD card now.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Xbox Family Timer

Microsoft announced this week the addition of a new feature to their gaming console; the Xbox 360 Family Timer. It allows you to use the parental controls to regulate when and for how long the console can be used (for instance, only between the hours of 2-6pm, and for no more than 90 minutes per day). I didn't realize that they didn't have this feature before...I guess I'd assumed since their operating system has that ability, they'd already ported it to the 360. But, since it wasn't included at first, then all I've got to say is...finally!

Now if only the Wii would do that,'s the one parental control feature that I've always felt was missing.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Super Mario Brothers World " -1"

I don't know how, but somehow I managed to not hear about SMB world -1 until last week! Of course, once I know it exists, you know I've got to get there! Well, last night I finally got took me three lives, but I managed to do it! Very cool...for one big glitch!

Now I wonder if there's any truth in the report (that hasn't been updated since 2003 or 2005, despite promises that more information would be forthcoming) that taking the correct route (Koopa Castle maze-style) and getting all the coins allows you to swim past the end pipe and continue on, eventually to an underwater castle and a green toad. I saw a video on YouTube that shows someone beating world -1 by hacking the ROM, and since the following worlds don't resemble what was reported to follow -1 in that first link, I'm betting that all those images are photoshopped, and the report false.

Oh stuff! Imagine me not knowing a basic SMB secret after all this time...

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Gmail IMAP e-mail access

So I'd heard about Google offering IMAP access a few weeks ago, but didn't think anything of it. Then I read Paul Thurott's review of the service, and learned how Gmail's labels work - rather than treating each e-mail as if it were kind of a file (like typical e-mail clients), it treats it more as a piece of information in a database.

What that means is (similar to the postings in this blog), each message can be in multiple categories, then you can go to a view that shows you all the messages that is listed in that category. Powerful, but up 'till now, only available through their web interface.

The power of the IMAP interface is that they've managed to let each label be a folder when viewed from your IMAP client. Make a new folder, and you'll discover that a new label with that name was created in GMail. Move a message to a folder, and you've applied that label to that message in GMail. But the cool part is that if I've labeled a message as both personal and tech-related, that e-mail will show up in both 'folders' in Outlook. And no worry about backing up your e-mails...they live on Google's servers (right now, up to 4.5 GB free, but always increasing), so even if your Hard Disk bit the big one, you can just point another client (presumably on your reloaded system on a new HDD) to your IMAP account, and everything's restored! Also, if I relabel or delete (or read) a message in outlook, that information is updated when I check my e-mail on my phone...IMAP is sync technology rather than 'checking for unread messages' technology like POP. It's very cool.

So now I'm in the process of moving my locally stored e-mails into my IMAP folders in outlook. I can even move messages from my local Sent Items folder into Google's Sent Mail folder and it appears in my gmail as if I'd sent it right from there!

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Which OS are you?

Nice bit o' humor here...

This was my result:
You are Palm OS. Punctual, straightforward and very useful.  Your mother wants you to do more with your life like your cousin Wince, but you're happy with who you are.
Edit: Here's Kyla's :)
You are Slackware Linux. You are the brightest among your peers, but are often mistaken as insane.  Your elegant solutions to problems often take a little longer, but require much less effort to complete.
...OK, I'll take least I wasn't Windows ME!

My guess for Kate? Windows XP, because everyone loves her! Or maybe Vista, because she's absolutely the latest and greatest! Or Ubuntu, being the most recommended choice for people planning a new change, but still a work in progress...?


Friday, November 2, 2007

Tales from the Microsoft Surface team

There's a new blog coming out of Microsoft now called Tales from the Microsoft Surface team. Microsoft Surface, if you haven't heard of it, is new technology that can best be described as a really, really big iPhone. But with tons more functionality. It looks like it's about the dimensions of those old pac-man tables you used to see in pizza joints, but the whole surface is fact, multi-touch sensitive; meaning that several people can be working on the same screen at once. The obvious uses are in displays, of course...I've heard speculation of map displays in airports and malls, casino applications, and informational displays in cell phone stores (place the phone you're interested in on the surface and it will detect it and tell you all about it).

Sounds interesting, but there's a lot of work they've yet to do before getting them really wide-spread. Eventually though, it might be interesting to hang one of these on your wall like a new TV and have Media Center and other Windows applications available, in a really big format, at the touch of the screen.

There's a great demo at skip the intro movie, then click on "The Magic". It really shows you what I'm talking about.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Jury Duty

Well, I've got jury duty today, and I'm pretty excited about it. I've been called twice before, but the first time was in the city we no longer lived in, and the second time was put off 'till today, since they were asking me to serve on Kate's due date.

So if I'm not dismissed today, this'll be my first time serving, and I'm interested to see how it goes. I don't have far to drive, it's not my brother's birthday, and I'm not taking a C.S. Lewis book, so it should be better than the Supertones let on, at least. ;)

Edit: Well, apparently the defendant showed up this morning and changed their plea to guilty, so I've been dismissed for two years. Oh well. I didn't even have any parking tickets to get forgiven for coming in! :-P