Dumb Verizon

This happens about twice a year. I was sitting at my desk and a little popup appeared on the bottom right hand portion of my screen showing that my email was working in “off-line mode” A good indication that our T1 circut is down. tried pinging a router up in the corporate office, “request timed out”

Ran over to the local router, peeked around back, and an orange light on the AL (Alarm Indicator) The first call of action would be to notify corporate so they can get the repair guy on it. picked up the cell phone, no service… hum.. tried the land line, “your request can not be completed at this time”

A senerio we experience here in Weslaco, TX about twice a year. Someone with backhoe pulls up a batch of wires along the side of the road wondering “I wonder if they needed that” In an area surrounded by ATT, Verizion occupies about 4 towns in south texas, and none of them are neighbors. I’m not knocking Verizon. They are doing awesome things in big cities, like NY, they are delivering FIFO, fiber straight to your home with internet, tv, phone.. everything over fiber. Really cool stuff. But here in the valley, it just seams like they don’t care. These little CO’s are like the black-headed step children of the company. There is only one path in and out of verizon weslaco and it’s with that fiber optic line. everyone in the town uses that one circut. If your lucky, you can go out to the road, pick up a stray cell-tower in mercedes or alamo and get coverage their… but you’ll be roaming $$$.

Ironicly, i had a meeting with a seprate telco that serves this area that same day. We are working on switching over to them, and when we do- it will help to alleviate all these troubles. Also, Smartcom is a small business. I met with the Director of Operations and have his email and direct phone number. This is a guy that really knows his stuff and i’m confident- in the event of a problem, he’ll be able to help me out. Rather than calling some call-center, talking to Mohamad in broken English just to try and get to a tech support person.
Continue reading Dumb Verizon

i should be getting referral fees.

a few weeks ago, after admiring the kids nano’s and video ipods, and other do-hickeys, i started to consider getting my own.  But i didn’t want one just just play music.  I wanted one that would be functional.  so i started with my research.  i don’t know how people can impulse shop.  Just go out to a store, see something you like and get it.  I can’t.  I need to know what i’m looking for.  I need to know what the consumer reports are, the cost of ownership (ink cost, batteries, maintenance, hazardous waste disposal fees, etc) 

Some may say, "what about when you got your car?  you went for an oil change and you came home with a car"  well.. i had already been shopping for an SUV.  I just happen to find the right one while i was there.  and i didn’t come home with it… i came back the next day to get it. 

but anyway.  After looking at all of the mp3 players on the market, i finally gave in to my standing rule, no apple, no google.  and i came home with an itouch.  not only is this thing an mp3 player, but it has a built in wifi adapter letting you use apple’s safrai to browse, built in youtube browser, pop, imap, and webmail accessibility.  video playback, photo storage, and other cool things i haven’t played with yet. 

A few of the downsides are the need for itunes to sync, and the fact that i got the 8gig version.  I can use up gigs really quickly.  i just need to get out of the habbit of syncing my entire library.  i should probably clean up my library to.  i have a very eclectic musical taste.  shuffle would reveal pedro the lion, kendall payne, bob marley, cyndi lauper, chopin, petra, metalica (pre 2000), gershwin, la mafia, ladysmith black mambazo. 

anyway- back to the point.  i’ve already recommended this little device to several people.  Even my boss this morning got a recommendation from me on this toy.

and back to my two moral standards, no apple no google.  well..  iGoogle is now my homepage, my rss reader of choice, my calendar sync method, my ical generator, and even my preferred search engine.  i’ve sold out.  sorry.  i have to support my family somehow.  even if it means putting my morality on the line.

all i wanted was a driver

for a cisco wifi card.

that’s it.

no goverment secrets, no api’s, no source code.. just the stinking driver.

after 6 pages of required information, a username longer than 9 characters,  Please ensure that your password contains:

  • a minimum of 8 alphanumeric characters
  • both upper and lowercase characters (a-z, A-Z)
  • at least one numeral
  • have at least one symbol (!@#$%^&*)

i wasn’t able to use my normal username

or my normal passwords.  after about 20 minutes of trying to make it work i finally got to sign in.. and i forgot the username it made me use.  argh.

after all that work

for years i’ve been working on getting RDS in the valley.  As long as i’ve been working here i think actually.  No one else in the valley’s doing it.  I love going to san antonio or Houston or any other town that has rds.  After years of trying to get them to buy the equipment for me, of begging other stations to give me their old stuff, i finally got a station in Albany to give up their old stuff to me.  I also got the equipment to interface with our network from ebay, and after some code changes finally got our system to talk to this vintage equipment. 

So now, if you listen to any of our stations you probably have noticed that your radio receivers have come to life all of a sudden with RDS text.  Typically it’s only the station ID, but it’s also sending PTY Codes, which tell your radio what type of station it is.  So for KTEX, it’s telling your radio it’s a country station and automatically set’s your eq for a country sounding eq.  Also if your receiver supports RadioText, you can push your Info button and get the Artist and Title of what’s playing. 

Yesterday the bosses came up to me asking, "if i’m listening on an analog radio, not an hd, what’s on the display?" so they finally noticed.  And as planed, questions like "why doesn’t it scroll like other markets"?  So i got to pitch, "If we had the new equipment, that stuff supports PS_SCROLL.  Then today i got an email from a guy in corporate basically asking "Can i replace your FMB-10’s with the FMB-80?" 

uh.. gee let me think about that…

Elaine, website, visitor pack, and projector network.

We’ve had Elaine at church since Saturday.  Tonight is finally the last night.  Not that it’s been bad, but i’ve missed being at home.  On top of Elaine, we’ve had a projector problem that actually revealed three problems.  overheating caused by clogged filters.  but can’t change the filters because when sonnie installed these, they didn’t use the right mount plates so the ones they used blocked access to the filters.  so Randall made a new mount interface so i could use the proper plate.  The overheating took it’s toll on the projector so that needs to be sent in for repair.  While the 2nd projector was removed from the video chain, i noticed the the other projector was acting funny.  the sync isn’t in balance anymore and that’s revealed a problem with our video distribution equipment.  that stuff is over 11 years old.  so that’s getting replaced.  On top of all that, pastor is still bugging for the new visitor pack dvd.  I’ve been spending most of my free time (ha!) rebuilding the church website.  you can see the Release Candidate or ABGRACE RC1.0 here.  The official launch is Saturday.  It’s built on wordpress and the podcast is linked to the iTunes store.  Hopefully everything will be functional and ready by saturday.  I can’t afford to wait on this anymore, i need to finish that dvd and not to mention make a master of the elaine hollar series.  Oh well.. next week will be back to normal.

back among the living

wow.. what a week, or month. Of course, this is always the busy season for us. Stock show, spring break, Easter programs, traveling. it’s just never really easy.

as spring break approached, venues at SPI were getting ready to do their live broadcast from their locations. We use ISDN phone lines for these broadcast. When a new client has signed on and wants to do an ISDN broadcast, they usually call on me to go to their location before hand and make sure they got their act together. So we get out there and find the demark, sure enough there is an isdn line there, but it’s not going anywhere. great, this means we are going to have to get the line from the phone box outside to the sound booth inside. if it was one building it would be easy, but this was a bunch of outdoor buildings. So we first try and figure out how to run the wire. The booth already had a jack wired up to it but it was dead. We ended up finding the wiring closest, but most the the wiring was dead too. Normaly i could just put my tone generator on the jack, use the probe to hear the tone in the wiring close and vola, i’m done. except i left the tone generator in my car. we were in teh station vehicle. so i’m trying to improvise. ended up taking a XLR cable tester with a test tone on it, wiring it up to the end jack, and used the butt set to find the other end. Finally we got it al going. the wiring that is. The spid numbers were not labeled on the demark. It’s not like a phone that you just plug in and it works. You have to tell your equiptment how to talk to the network with the spid numbers.

it’s usually a 9 digit number with a binariy number at the end. We called the owner and he gave us two “spids” 956-772-xxxx-0101 and 956-772-yyyy-0101. We plug it into our equiptment and get “SPID error” call up ATT and the ISDN dept is closed. we go back the next day and come to find out that this is a wierd line. the spids are a harligen number, but their is a DN number of that 772, port isabel number. never seen that before but ok… we plug in tihe new spids, DIsco, we are up. i dial up the station, it took a long distance call but it worked. ok.. done.

they did the broadcast a few days later and they coudln’t dial them up. so they did the entire broadcast with LD charges. We went back one more time, pluged both the spids and the DN number, dialed the DN and we were cooking.

Then their was the stock show. That one wasn’t quite as bad. another isdn broadcast. but i’ve been doing this long enough that i made it as simple as possible for the jocks. that was pretty uneventfull. as for the stock show itself. i wasn’t impressed. it’s like someone to a show from 10 years ago and just kept replaying it over and over.

also been getting ready for patti’s two easter programs. Eye to Eye and Spetical. Eye to Eye is an outdoor Pasion Play. Speticaly is a serious comedy. Both are really good. So we’ve been getting all that stuff ready. Patti turned the backyard into a large staging area and had everyone over one day putting it all together.

Thursday i got out of work early and took simion with me to get what we needed from the store and to start loading the trailer. Had no idea how much stuff we had.. or could fit in there. We did come up with some really good ideas for when Patti finally decides to make this touring thing a regular part of the schedule.

We got out there and the wind was not behaving very well. And for the first time it was going to be hot. like 100’s hot. Spent that day setting things up.. it really didn’t take us long to do the tech stuff. Patti was having a hard time with her sets though. My stuff is pretty heavy and stayed put… but the props were taking a beating from the wind. At one point i was sitting on the backstage, behind a curtain and a prop from in front of the cutian fell over and landing on me. Ended up leaving a good size bruise.

Saturday we got an early start, pratice went ok. But we had to scale down ALOT to make it work. Didn’t get to use any DMX, half of the walls, none of the curtains.. the actual performance wasn’t bad. We’ve done much better but everyone seamed to enjoy it. The pastor from out there was happy…

Thank you John and Patti for all your enthusiasm and help. You sure are a blessing and are used by our Lord to proclaim His good news to all people. I know we can say with all its word MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

So i guess all in all it turned out ok. We loaded up that night, came home, unloaded and came back to church the next morning. The wind was still bad, so bad that the power kept flickering on and off all through service. I let the guys have the morning off, turned off the cameras and projectors.. and just let it ride. i woke up that morning though with a horrible headache and tummy ache. and it just kept getting worse and worse. if i was going to be able to pull off the program this evening i would need some rest. went home and patti ended up postponing the program. So i slept the rest of the day. woke up feeling much better. must have been the heat.. or exaustion.. or both.

the kids are on spring break this week, so they are bored i’m sure. hannah went to ATF this past weekend and seamed to have a good time.  i’m ready for a vacation now.   friday is our do nothing day.  saturday going back to the ranch for easter.  sunday it’s easter here.

i want

ok.. this is way cool.  i don’t ask for much.. but if you decide to do something for me for presidents day.. this is it.

That same waste paper from this morning, yea had all these presidents day sales.  i’m sure iin 1880 when it became a federal holiday they were not planning on having a car sale blowout and needed a holiday to celebrate the event.

ok there is seriously something wrong here

so i finally get the replacement drive from HP.  after dhl decided to bump my overnight shipment.  not nice.  so i get it.. stick it in the slot where the old one was.. and after the RAID rebuilds for about 4 hours, i get this email…

Event Description: Rebuild complete:

yeah! now i can get to backing up the first server that died.. but wait

Event Description: Logical device is degraded: controller 1, logical device 2 (“Secondary”) Event Type: Warning Event

wha? i just installed a new drive. what could be wrong?

Event Description: Failed drive: controller 1, port 2 Event Type: Error Event

ok now i’m ready to use 4 letter words.  i just installed a new drive in port 3, now the drive in port 2 is in a failed state!  This thing is just waiting until i replace all the drives in it.  Why not tell me that at first.  “This computer has been running to long without any expense.  You need to buy 4 new drives replace them all, and then i’ll be happy, but not until i make you do each one – one at a time.  that way i get the most pain and suffering out of you”

not a good week to be a HardDrive

on top of everything going on this week, this past weekend i got an email from one of our servers, let’s call her File Server #2.

The system has detected the following event:

SNMP Trap: 3036

System URL: http://CCRFS2MFE:2301/

Date time: 02/01/2008 05:08:12 PM

Computer: CCRFS2MFE

Source: Storage Agents

Type: Warning

Category: (4)


A ‘Physical Drive Status Change’ trap signifies that the agent has detected a change in the status of a drive array physical drive.


IDA Physical Drive Status ‘PREDICTIVE FAILURE’

Error Code 0

Drive Bay # 3

Bus # 1

Controller Slot # 1

So i get into the server and notice that FS2, Contoller1 Drive 3 has gone into PFA status.  PFA is means “preventive failure alert”.  A condidtion has occured that indicates that a failure is likely.

So i pull up the warrenty information and sure enough it’s out of warrenty so ordered up a replacment drive.  It came in today.  Before i removed the bad drive and installed the new one, i decided to back up the logicial drive to File Server #3.  All that FS3 does really is backup our music system.. so i removed that backup, and began replacing it with the backup of FS2.  While all that is going on i get another email,

This message was generated by the Adaptec Storage Manager Agent.

Please do not reply to this message.

Event Description: Logical device is degraded: controller 1, logical device 2 (“Secondary”) Event Type: Warning Event Source: CCRFS3MFE

Date: 02/07/2008

Time: 03:23:56 PM CST

What? two failures at once?  not really likely.  so i check it out.. sure enough FS3 decided to take a dump too.  So again i check the warrenty of this machine, sure enough. out of warrenty.  This time i call up HP on the super secret clear channel customer support number.  Gave them my password and talked to them.. they acknowled that the system was out of warrenty but they decided to send me a new HD anyway.  I’m greatfull that i’m getting that addressed.. now i just have to wait for that to get here, fix FS3, backup FS2 to FS3, fix FS2, and then on top of all that, FS1 needs to be restructured.

Looks like i’m going to be planning an all……. nighter repairing all these machines.

Haven’t seen so much trouble since the time one of the file servers at the bank decided to take a dump on the external harddrive rack.  I usually keep one hotspare in the array for just such an occasion.  One drive dies, the hotspare takes over.. but this time, two drives crashed at once.  thank God for RAID.

Busy Season

now that hunting season is over, it’s time for busy season.  Glory and Aspire is going to be in town shortly.  That’s going to only be 4 days i think.  but after the 4th time here, it’s 4 days to much if i have anything to say about it.  I will take it all back if they bring a different program, but if it’s the same one we’ve seen the past 4 times i’ll keep what i said.  I mean they got a good message but if pastor invested what he has in them, in patti’s group- we could do the same thing with much better results.  That’s just my opinion of course.

a couple of things i am looking forward to is the Easter program patti’s pulling off here at church.  It’s been a while since she’s done something so everyone’s looking forward to seeing what she’s got up her sleave.  She’s also finally going to do her outdoor passion play.  the same one that was pitched here but i think pastor said something about not wanting people to get dirty.  (do we see a pattern here?)

One of the law offices i do work for is in the middle of trial right now so they are scrambling to work around some technical problems they are having.  I just don’t have the time to be out there between 8:30 and 5 when they are there.  And it’s not something i can do remotely either. 

I’m trying to finish off this website for farm and ranch.  I want to have a complete skeleton built by Sunday when i have to go back out there to present this and start doing edits. 

Not to mention things at home, Kovu was sick yesterday.  Had 104 fever and congestion.  The vet gave him two shots and some oral medicine.  This morning he was eating and purring but it was scary there for a while.

February is birthday month.  Patti’s, Megan’s and Tori’s.  Not to mention ground pigs day.  Apparently this is some big deal.. i never quite figured out why. 

Oh and the youth are doing a valentines banquet again this year so we’re going to be involved in that.  I need to start designing set’s for the outdoor thing, the thing here