Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Swiss File Knife - the open source file tree processor

Swiss File Knife is a free multi function command line tool that belongs onto every usb stick. Download SFK from sourceforge. This package contains binaries, source and buildscripts for Windows and Linux. You may also download just the windows executable sfk.exe or the linux binary for Ubuntu or DSL. No installation, no registry entries, no DLL's - one exe handles all.

iPhone Catches Robbers in the Act

Application helps foil a burglary from more than 1,000 miles away.

And I Thought My Commute Was Bad. . . .

CBS - 9-Day Long Traffic Jam in China
A combination of construction and broken-down vehicles has caused an almost-unimaginable traffic jam in Northern China, which has lasted for well over a week. Katie Couric reports.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Experts Exchange KICKS ASS!

Earlier today I wrote a post about Microsoft Support sucking ASS.  Well, I just wanted to put in a plug for the community that is Experts Exchange.

I live on the web, and I don't think a day goes by that Experts Exchange isn't in the top 10 (if not #1) results of searches for almost anything technical.  For years I tried to view responses on Google cached pages, etc., or at least get tidbits of info from their site.  But I used to work for a company who was too cheap to pay for a membership there, so a couple years ago I joined Experts Exchange as a contributor.  I'd like to think I joined to give back to the community, which is partly true, especially since I've been a leech for so many years. But the truth is I joined so I could answer a few questions to earn some points so I could access the site and post some questions of my own.  I used to have more time to answer questions, but for the last year or so I have been so busy at work I just can't do that.

So, while troubleshooting a major problem with SQL server over the past few days I pulled out the company Am Ex and dropped $99 for a one year membership.  And, of course, I've found information there which has been helpful in my quest to recover from a major SQL issue.

Then today while working on this problem and not being able to find info I needed to view the progress of a SQL DB restore I actually went to Experts Exchange and searched there using the same terms I had used with Google: sql restore status.  Wouldn't you know it, the first result was someone answering the same question with a detailed T-SQL command to do what I needed!

So, thanks Experts Exchange, all contributors there, and a special thanks to udayakumarlm!

Microsoft Support SUCKS ASS!

Last Thursday (4 days ago) I had a SQL 2005 server go belly-up.  Since our DBA quit unexpectedly recently and I'm only a lowly network admin/engineer with a bit of SQL experience, and since we were faced with a critical issue threatening our business and the Internet as a whole; I dropped (well my company did) $249 to get the guru's at Microsoft to help me.  Although I opened the case at DEFCON 1 (the boys and girls in Redmond, India call it Severity 8) I was told I "should" receive a call back within two hours.

Strike one: MS telling me they would have to call me back.

2 hours?  When you are down and your whole world is crashing in on you 2 hours IS an eternity.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when my phone rang within about 5 minutes.

While I'm glad Microsoft and other multi-billion dollar companies can employ some of our friends from across the pond to save a buck or two so they can "keep the shareholders" happy (never mind the customers, which, by the way, should be first priority, not the f-ing shareholders!) it is extremely painful trying to understand some dude named Pranav, or Mohit, or Bhupinder.  While they may be knowledgeable the language barrier is just that a barrier.  Especially when you are working on a critical situation.

Strike two: Non-native english speakers.

When I did receive my call back the tech was helpful despite the language barrier.  We ran into some more problems on the server so I had to abort the call.  When I contacted the agent again a couple times later in the day he was very responsive and helpful - especially considering he had stayed after his quitting time.  I was starting to feel a little better.

I had to deal with issues with my servers for a few days & in between I had to contact MS support a few times.  The next tech was pretty good too - responsive and helpful.  However, the problems really got bad with their support yesterday after placing another call to their freaking queue and having to identify myself and go through the whole song-and-dance to get to the right queue.  In fact, that process should really be strike three.  Anyway, I was promised a call back within two hours.  I'm still waiting.  That was about 36 hours ago.

At noon today (8 hours ago) I did the same thing & they promised a call back within two hours.  Guess what?  I'm still waiting.  Just got off the phone with another recptioninst-type person who couldn't even raise the support supervisor so I could complain to them.

Strikes three, four, five and six!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

View The Status of a SQL Restore Job

The last few days I've been trying to recover from a pretty big SQL server failure.  After running into problems with Microsoft's support I have had to turn to the web for help here.  After all I'm a network guy & only dabble in SQL from time-to-time.  I'm posting this to mainly have as a reference for myself but if anyone finds it useful that's great too.  Also note, this is not from me but from others on the 'net.

Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio T-SQL commands to restore full and differential backups:

RESTORE DATABASE myDatabase FROM DISK = 'd:\backups\myDatabase_Diff.BAK' WITH RECOVERY
I was having trouble finding out how to view the progress of the restore.  I was using Google to search for sql restore status but not finding anything useful.  Since I had just paid for a year on Experts Exchange I went there and searched with the same terms, and wouldn't you know it, the first result was someone answering the same question with a detailed T-SQL command to do what I needed:
SELECT command,
CAST(((DATEDIFF(s,start_time,GetDate()))/3600) as varchar) + ' hour(s), '
+ CAST((DATEDIFF(s,start_time,GetDate())%3600)/60 as varchar) + 'min, '
+ CAST((DATEDIFF(s,start_time,GetDate())%60) as varchar) + ' sec' as running_time,
CAST((estimated_completion_time/3600000) as varchar) + ' hour(s), '
+ CAST((estimated_completion_time %3600000)/60000 as varchar) + 'min, '
+ CAST((estimated_completion_time %60000)/1000 as varchar) + ' sec' as est_time_to_go,
dateadd(second,estimated_completion_time/1000, getdate()) as est_completion_time
FROM sys.dm_exec_requests r
CROSS APPLY sys.dm_exec_sql_text(r.sql_handle) s

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

‘I Want Your Money’; New Film Skewers Obamanomics

A controversial look at big government spending and Obamanomics.

Obama on US Economy: Did I Do That?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Top 10 Biggest and Best Jumps Ever

From Travis Pastrana's double back flip on a motorcycle, to his jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, to the longest jump ever (31km), these are some amazing jumps.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

WTF Verizon? Droid X Punishment

I am in the process of switching from a BlackBerry (Bold) to a Droid X.  I was just told by Verizon customer service rep that I now have to pay $20 for only 2GB for Mobile Broadband Connect where I used to get 5GB for $15.
See How To Remove City ID (and other crapware like Blockbuster, Skype and VZ Navigator) From Droid X (and other Android phones) for detailed instructions.
Oh, and I keep getting told how cool it is that this new phone will act as a mobile hotspot.  That's fantastic, except, wait, won't I likely be using more bandwidth?

Where is the logic in that?

So basically for being a loyal Verizon customer, and for upgrading to a fancy new phone with great new features I have to pay $5/month more for 40% the bandwidth - a that's about a 3x price increase.  This is completely unacceptable.

In other words, I'll have to pay about $170 a month to get the 5GB of bandwidth I used to get for $15.  That's over 11 times as much, which is total BS Verizon!

At a minimum I want to have the same Mobile Broadband Connect with my new Droid X as I had with my BlackBerry.  Period.

================  UPDATE ================

Here is Verizon's response to me which is very lame (emphasis and commentary mine).  Basically it reiterates Verizon's marketing materials stressing how great it is to use the new Droid X as a mobile hotspot.  Again, what they are missing here is that I am now paying 33% more for 40% of the bandwidth.  Verizon: you need to fix this.

Oh, and after being promised by the nice support agent yesterday that I'd receive a call back from her supervisor who, conveniently enough, was in a meeting.  It's been over 24 hours and I'm still waiting for the call back. . .
Dear [Valued Verizon Customer Whom We Are SCREWING],

Thank you for contacting our Verizon Wireless website. We are happy to assist you with your concern regarding the 3G Mobile Hotspot feature of the Motorola DROID X.

We understand your concern and take great pride in having you as a customer. We understand that you have made an investment in Verizon Wireless and the DROID X and addressing your concern is our number one priority.

We understand that this is an inconvenience would like to thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback. Verizon Wireless takes great pride in the products and services that we offer our customers. Customer feedback, such as yours, enables Verizon Wireless to continually improve the products and services that we offer. We will ensure that your feedback is sent to the correct department to allow us to make future improvements and enhancements to the products and services that we offer. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause.

If you would like to receive e-mail updates regarding our products and services, please click on "Sign up for email updates" from the "Support" tab located at the top of our www.verizonwireless.com homepage.

The $15.00 Mobile Broadband Connect feature that you had with your BlackBerry provided the ability to use your BlackBerry as a tethered modem. With that being said, the DROID X does not currently support the tethering functionality. At this time, we are unable to state if or when this functionality will become available for the DROID X as no information has been given. Alternatively, as you have mentioned, the DROID X does offer the 3G Mobile Hotspot feature which, as you have mentioned is $20.00 per month and includes 2 Gigabytes (GB) of monthly data allowance. The 3G Mobile Hotspot application provides access for up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices including notebooks, netbooks, MP3 players, cameras, portable gaming systems, etc. If you connect multiple devices via the hotspot, it is possible that you may use more bandwidth. Additionally, you will be billed at $0.05 per Megabyte (MB) when the included 2GB has been exceeded.

For more information about our Mobile Broadband Connect service (including other supported devices and terms of service), please visit the link below:

Note: Please refer to the information located under "For Mobile Broadband Connect and 3G Mobile Hotspot-capable Smartphone Devices".


We hope you find this information helpful. Troubleshooting tips and helpful product information regarding your Motorola DROID X can be found at:


[Dear Verizon Customer Who We Really Don't Care About, But We'll Keep Saying We Do Just To Make You Feel Good], it has been a pleasure assisting you today and we hope that our quality of service rates as a "10" with you. Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please reply back to this email or call us at 1-800-922-0204 and we will happily address them for you. We appreciate your business and thank you for choosing Verizon Wireless.


Neil [I have yet to meet anyone from Verizon who has a surname.]

Verizon Wireless

Data Technical Support

If you have received this e-mail in error or are not the intended recipient, please notify us immediately by replying to this e-mail and deleting it and all copies and backups thereof. If you are the intended recipient and are a Verizon Wireless customer, this response is subject to the terms of your Customer Agreement
No, Verizon this information was not helpful and I'm still very displeased with this arrangement!