shavin’ yak

Seth Godin mentions “yak shaving”. The story is interesting, but the idea is that we spend a whole lot of our time, especially at the computer, doing things that are perceived prerequisites for doing the thing we really need to do.

He sums it up with the brilliant “Doing it well now is much better than doing it perfectly later.”

BTW: Evite lets you combine email addresses into one account.


your blog appears to be having relations with a canine

Ibm_pc-xt286_1Here’s the whole technical reason for the downtime.

An old Dell workstation (Dual P3 Xeon 550) functions as a VMWare GSX Server host. On that server lives four virtual servers: SQL Server, Web Server, Active Directory Server and Exchange Server. The hard-drive image files for the active directory server live on an IDE drive in an external firewire drive enclosure which has some bad sectors. 95% of the drive is fine, but the bad sectors currently hold some critical section of Windows that refuses to boot the AD server. I’ve had this same situation for the last year or so, but I’ve managed to get through it by clicking “continue” approximately 200 times until the error went away. But not this time. Exchange won’t start with the AD server down which is the real problem. If I had enough resources on the box I could keep the web sites up, but since I’m trying to fix this ASAP I need them free to rebuild everything.

I can’t copy off the virtual disk (.vmdk) files because Windows complains of CRC errors and refuses to continue. I can’t get chkdsk to run on the drive past 5% or so. I can’t use any of the boot-to disk checker tools because the drive is on a firewire interface and all the ones I’ve tried only work with IDE or SCSI. I can’t transplant the drive internally because it fails to be recognized by disk management when loaded into a new machine.

The VM machine won’t boot to safe mode. I can’t run a repair from the CD because it fails to even see the HD. Use easy recovery to recover the entire contents of c:\ and boot to the new one? nope, crashes.

I have a backup of the server, but it is old and I don’t think exchange will like being so out of sync. I tried restoring the backup to win2003, then realized the backup was for windows 2000. Restore from backup boots with “missing file errors” due to this page not being written well: — the “important, you must have DNS and SMTP Server installed on the new machine” is below the fold and I didn’t see it. Active Directory backups have a useful life of 60 days. A simple change the clock back to February 2003 fixed that problem.

I finally got the backup AD server up and running. I was all set to fire up Exchange and see what happened, but I decided, hey I haven’t a regular start of the old one in a while and a lot has happened since then, one last go…

What do ya know, it came up. I had accidentally left the virtual network card turned off. The box was up, but useless without network, so I had one final right click enable. Bingo. Up and running. Exchange came up fine, like nothing happened. I was then able to start the SQL Server and the IIS box. I still have those bad sectors, they haven’t gone anywhere, but I managed to trick it into booting.


golf in the third world

IMG_5527 (Small)

I managed to squeeze two days of golf into this India trip at the Delhi Golf Club.

The best part are the caddies. There were five for our threesome. Our host had two caddies, one to help him with his game + give him pointers and one to carry his bag; I had my Yankee cap wearing caddy; Kirk (next to me in pic) had his caddy, the muslim in his red winter sweater-vest; Plus the agi-walla (no idea on the spelling there), the fore-caddy, basically he goes down the hole and finds your ball in the woods.

Now I have not been playing good golf lately. I had a really nasty slice that I’m making slow progress eliminating. There were several occasions throughout the round where a ball that looked to be easily 10–15 yards into the woods miraculously appeared in the fringe rough when we arrived on the scene. Our host made a comment about occasional caddy finesse applied to errant balls.

I managed not to kill any wild peacocks which were running rampant or knock over a 500 year old ruin which were scattered around the course.  

The whole experience was great and I’m definitely going to think about going caddy instead of cart next time I head out on the links.


the taj

India 085Our host arranged two SUVs to take us to the Taj Mahal, a four hour drive from Delhi in the town of Agra. Other than the trip from the airport into Delhi, this was our first time to really see the country.

I have to say, the whole cows in the road, milling amongst the population never got old. I started counting cows on the trip and got to 217 before I figured out we had only been driving for ninety minutes. Other animals seen on this same trip:

  • 17 camels
  • countless goats, sheep
  • 4 elephants
  • 1 bear (who looked pretty pissed off to be on a leash and in India)
  • 1 monkey

After our late afternoon Taj tour, we were treated to a special full moon nighttime viewing from across the river in a private garden.

India 150_cropped

The light on the right is a guard aiming his flashlight at the building. This photo took a bunch of tries to get right — it was quite dark out.

We learned that the minarets are at 6 degree angles pointing away from the Taj. The thinking was that should something happen to one of them, they would fall away and not onto the Taj itself. That’s some really great planning for 1630.


my patented peanut butter technique


Growing up I was never a PB&J lover. I’d eat them at friend’s houses, but never made them part of my routine. Running out of breakfast ideas, I happened to grab one of the pre-made PB&J’s at the deli next to my office. PB&J rediscovered! I’ve been eating them often enough (always for breakfast only) that I decided to buy the stuffs and prepare them at home, you know cooking.


I only use the Smucker’s Natural Chunky. For anyone that’s tried the natural brands you know that when you open the jar there is a thick layer of oil on top. You have to stir it in or else you get impossible-to-eat dry peanut butter, but it can be messy and a pain to do. So I invented a simple system to make it easier. When you bring home the jar from the store, keep it upside down for 24 hours before opening. The oil will float up to the bottom of the jar; flip it over and stirring becomes easy.


Related jelly question: How come you can not find organic/fancy grape jelly? I’ve checked in multiple stores. You can get every other fruit, but not grape. Do they feel it is beneath them? Is there a powerful grape jelly lobby that enables only mass produced grape jelly into the marketplace?


social security catch 22

It is pretty clear Bush and fellow social security privatizers just want to do away with the whole program, not save it, but regardless it is fun to poke holes in the argument.

One of the best ones I’ve seen is this gem of an NYT Op-Ed from Paul Krugman.

The gist of the article is this: Bush & Co are arguing that the stock market will net better returns that the current government managed fund. Paul calculates that in order for the stock market to outperform today’s fund over the next 75 years, stocks will either be ridiculously overpriced (more than 100 P/E ratio) or the economy as a whole will grow enabling stocks to reap big returns. The catch 22 is if the economy grows that fast payroll taxes will swell and keep social security well in the black exactly as the system is today, no changes needed.

Pauls more eloquent version:

Which brings us to the privatizers’ Catch-22.

They can rescue their happy vision for stock returns by claiming that the Social Security actuaries are vastly underestimating future economic growth. But in that case, we don’t need to worry about Social Security’s future: if the economy grows fast enough to generate a rate of return that makes privatization work, it will also yield a bonanza of payroll tax revenue that will keep the current system sound for generations to come.


india rx

Doxy-A-capsule100MGMy allergies are absolutely killing me on this trip. I powered through my Allegra supply the first week, leaving me high and dry in the anti-histamine department. I couldn’t take it anymore and asked our driver to take me to a pharmacy. There is a distinct lack of big western type stores in India, even in Delhi, the capital, where we are. The driver took us to a local spot, the type of place he would go. Everything was behind the counter and you had to tell the guys what you wanted. Fortunately my needs were relatively easy to describe in basic English and didn’t require making a “fire in ass pointing maneuver” or anything embarrassing like that. I just described what I needed and this is what they picked out:

  • 12 tablets cetirizine hydrochloride aka Zyrtec
  • 6 Vicks cough drops
  • one month supply malaria pills, Doxyclycline
  • some unknown eczema cream
  • package cashew cookies

The bill was handwritten for 150 rupees or roughly $3.40 US. In India, you’re not gonna pay a lot for those drugs.