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Monday, March 19, 2012

There are times you just have to punt

I have run a very simple file, print, backup and SVN server at home for a number of years. It was built using old parts laying about the house. A few weeks back the fan on the video card and the chipset fan on the motherboard died. I had another old AGP video card so I slapped that in and it kept running until this past Thursday.

My wife needed data off the HD so I had here take the external USB drive I use for Monday / Wednesday / Friday backup cycle and had her plug it directly into her machine. Made me a bit nervous but she needed her files. I just asked her not to delete anything.

Thursday night I pieced together a new machine to be the server. I plugged in the original HD and went to work. This was my son's box and it had been acting flaky so I had some doubts. I got WinXP running again but when I tried to the the motherboard USB 2.0 drivers to work things went to hell quickly. Devices were not recognized and unplugging or plugging one in could cause a BSOD and reboot.

I spent way too many hours on this before I gave up. I hit the web to see what the cheapest Win7 based machine I could get at Microcenter happened to be. I was sick of WinXP on the server and all other machines in the house are running Win7. They had an open box eMachine for $215. I know, it is an eMachine but I have bought them in the past for family members on budgets and if you just run what it has as the base configuration they keep running. I have not had one fail yet. My big worry is their small power supplies.

This is a typical machine with AMD 2.8g processor, 2g of RAM, 500 mb HD, nVidia chipset and video card in a slim line case with plenty of USB 2.0 ports. Fired right up and I spent the next bunch of hours uninstalling crap, installing patches and restoring a previous backup from the external USB drive. The proper area of the drive is shared and the printer is shared so the rest of the family is happy. I have installed Apache and SVN but have not fully configured them yet. I was sick of computer stuff so I played some games and did work on a side Android project.

In the end of should have given up much earlier and just bought a new machine. Trying to get old suspect hardware running just to be cheap is not a good solution. We have proven over the years that the server is critical to running our house. I have plans to get more services running on the box - SVN, some flavor of SQL, etc. so it needs to be slightly on the mission critical side of things.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Win 7 Professional always freezes at 15% during patch installs

Various machines around the office - all Win7 64bit Professional - freeze during patch install shut down at 15% complete. We hit the reset button, tell it to boot normally when prompted and the patches install just fine. This has happened every time over the past year that we have installed patches. I don't have this issue at home where I am running Win7 64bit Ultimate and Home. Annoying but does not seem to be a show stopper.

I have completed my work on the JIDE update. There are some outstanding issues but others are fixing them while I get back hot and heavy on the MigCalendar scheduler replacement. I have some open Mac issues with Jidesoft. They don't appear to do much testing on the Mac which is a shame. You can basically use the main OS look and feel on the Mac but the other ones are useless. Colors that are not readable, tabs that are not clipped so they paint on other tabs etc.

I was doing various bits of editing of the code under IntelliJ 11 on the Mac and PC and ended up getting SVN all confused. I finally just extracted a fresh copy of the code and renamed the directory to get the Mac to play nice again. I was doing weird stuff like double editing files on my home PC and the Mac laptop then trying to revert on one and check in on the other. Classes were moved to new packages etc. which I am sure caused a great deal of grief. All fixed now, just some of the fun of being a multi-platform developer.

The MigCalendar conversion is going nicely. The new JIDE based grid is so much faster at everything you can hardly believe it is functional, it feels like something should be missing otherwise how can it be this fast? MigCalendar has a lot of wonky ways of doing things and used a lot of static collections to do it. Glad to be rid of it. I did a build yesterday with no MigCalendar references in it at all. I deleted a ton of code and old dialog boxes in the process. Plus the new scheduler is so much more flexible and configurable. The clients are going to be elated when we ship.

I plan on writing an email to the MigCalendar folks letting them know why we are discontinuing the use of their product. I figure developers rarely are notified as to why they have lost a sale so it seems only fair. We just found it to be to bulky, not flexible and the documentation to be poor to non-existent. I was never able to find any useful references on the web either an they only allow you to see their forums if you are paid up on your license. Not a way to run a successful business in our book.