Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tech Support -- A Love Story

A user at one of our clients called HP's printer tech support last week because a roller in her printer wasn't working.  The technician did some diagnostics and quickly determined the problem was her computer, and after a few "fixes" determined it had viruses and she needed to buy a product they sell.  The result was that she had a totally unusable computer-- and a printer whose paper feed roller still didn't work.

We had to re-image the computer to make it useful again, and HP still had to replace the printer's roller.

Tech support is definitely the worst part of the computer user's experience.  Most who answer the tech support line do their best; but support person and user lack of knowledge, conversation trees, and knowledge bases often exasperate people and can even lead to incorrect conclusions!  There's no easy answer to the problem, but it is a problem.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bank Security Fail

Banks don't get it.  I called my bank to ask about an error they made on my account, and to protect my identity they asked my name, address, and birthdate.  Those are all easily available on the Internet.  Very unimpressive security.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

VMware Fusion Rocks! Again!

I run Windows 7 64-bit on my Mac in VMware Fusion.  When installing Windows 7, I set hard drive to 60gb.  But I've recently been running short on space and was NOT looking forward to re-installing Windows 7 just because I needed a larger hard drive.

Figuring I had nothing to lose, I told Fusion to increase the Windows 7 hard drive to 100gb in its Settings.  It accepted the change, then took a little time to rebuild the hard drive.  When it was done, I started Windows 7, went to Computer Management, and told Windows 7 to expand the C drive to maximum.  Within moments I had a working-- perfectly!-- Windows 7 machine with a 100gb hard drive.  Sweet!

Once again, Fusion proved to me that it totally rocks!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our Daughter's Gone to College

I never understood what friends were going through when their kids went off to college-- until now.  It's a basketful of thoughts and feelings that, for me, add up to joy... but that doesn't mean it's without some sadness.

I'm very excited for her!  Our daughter is in place a great spiritually, psychologically, morally, physically... she's terrific!  I believe she's ready for the university experience and will do well.

I'm also scared for her.  There will be many who will try to hurt her while they pursue their selfish desires.  That includes her fellow students, professors, and others she'll be with.  You can believe that my prayers for her will not decrease during this phase of her life.

I also miss her, even though we said goodbye at her dorm just last night.  She brings me and my wife so much joy!  Her absence can definitely be felt, and it's underscored by us knowing she won't be home later today to share her day's adventures.

I know she'll continue to mature into the woman God has in mind for her to be, and will impact many around her positively and draw some closer to Christ.  That's all great stuff!  But I miss her...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"I Love It When A Plan Comes Together!"

That quote from The A-Team's Hannibal Smith sums up well our flirt with an IT disaster last week.  Here's what our lead engineer, Gary Messmer, wrote:
Monday one of our virtual hosts' RAID array disks entered "predictive failure".  Should be 'no worries', after all it's RAID 5 and you can lose a disk without losing the data-- or so the theory goes.

However, server performance got bad when the disk failed and all the services on the virtual servers on that host became extremely unresponsive.  Since we have multiple churches and ministries from around the country hosted in our rack, we needed to restore high performance quickly.

In the 'old days', without virtualization, restoring a server with a failing hard drive required physically replacing the drive-- making that server unusable while doing so.  Our replacement drive arrived the next day, and then we had to install it and let the RAID array rebuild, too much downtime (about 36 hours of 'really slow' processing time) for our liking-- and our clients!

Thanks to virtualization, it was just a matter of minutes.  We stopped the essential virtual servers, copied them to another host, and then restarted them.  Everyone was working again in minutes!  This even while we waited for the replacement drive to fully restore the affected host!

When disaster strikes, virtual guests (the servers running on a virtual host) can be quickly moved to another host in a matter of minutes-- it’s just like copying files.
Well said, Gary!  The benefits of virtualization are huge!  And the cost of the software that makes it possible is free for most churches and ministries.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

VMworld 2010

I got to attend VMworld in San Francisco last week, and it was great!  There were more than 17,000 of us geeks enjoying the free-floating electrons in the air.

One of my conclusions is that The Cloud is here, and it's going to take over.  Whether the best solution for you is a private cloud or a public cloud, that is the immediate future of computing.

I'm working on a brief article explaining exactly what that means and how it applies... keep your eyes open for it in the next week or two.