Monday, March 31, 2008

Play ball!

What could be better than this other than being there? Opening day, Chicago Cubs, and a Slingbox.

I have to give credit to the Chicago Cubs. They put a flag up at Wrigley Field in honor of those who died at the tragedy at NIU this winter. Very classy.
And you can't beat Wayne Messmer signing the national anthem. I got to hear him live last night at the Chicago Wolves game with my son and it is always a pleasure to hear him sing.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Time flies...

Olivia visits for Easter
Originally uploaded by oblik
I thought I would share this because I looked back through my archives and since I had taken such a hiatus from posting here, I had a picture of my niece, Natalie when she was born. Well, she's two now and this is her new sister, Olivia.

Friday, March 28, 2008

BackupExec, VSS, and Exchange (Oh My!)

It turns out that my problem yesterday with BackupExec is a strange interaction between BackupExec 11d, Volume Shadow Services, and Exchange backups.

What normally happens is BackupExec calls out to the Volume Shadow Services on a Windows system and tells it to snapshot anything related to what it is about to back up. This allows the applications to put themselves into a consistent state in preparation for a backup. This is critical for databases like Exchange. In my case, this activates services such as Exchange, the Event logs, System State (registry), and even SnapDrive for preparing the disks living on our NetApp filer for being backed up.

All this is fine and good, the backup proceeds as expected, but when it finishes, you can check the status of the VSS service using:

vssadmin list writers

from a command prompt and you end up seeing a bunch of services listed as

[5] Waiting for completion

This is not normal, but no errors were thrown at all from BackupExec. It ended nicely and reported that everything was fine. But, later in the evening, I have a second backup scheduled using SnapManager for Exchange from NetApp which provides quickly recoverable snapshots of our Exchange data stores. This software also leverages VSS to put Exchange in a consistent state but when it would try...

You guessed it, failure. The VSS writers would report back that they were busy and all hell would break loose.

Turns out the solution is stranger than the problem. If I run 3 backup jobs from BackupExec, each one backing up a different component: files, system state, and information stores, then this problem is gone. The VSS test after the backup shows:

[1] Stable

While not the most sensible solution, it was easy enough to create three selection lists and jobs.

The strangest part is that I can run all three separate jobs at the same time without a problem, but running the three pieces in the same job throws the errors.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Exchange 2007 and VSS fails with event 9840

Seems I'm running to a "known issue" between Exchange 2007 and Microsoft's volume shadow service which performs snapshot backups of Exchange. Sometimes we get an Event ID 9840 which says that the snapshot could not be peformed because an aborted backup was detected.

What bugs me is that this is simply listed as a known issue and the fix in Microsoft's knowledge base article is basically "Yeah, just restart your mail server". On a production system, this is a completely unacceptable solution to the problem.

I can only hope that this is something to be fixed in a later patch or service pack but the article doesn't even give any indication that a fix is forthcoming.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I need to rhyme like Dr. Seuss

So my son has been cast in our local Christian Youth Theater production of Seussical. As part of the program, we get to put a small 25 word congratulatory ad inside. I'm trying to come up with a witty paragraph that models the style of Dr. Seuss. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear about them

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Some things never stay the same

A small piece of me died yesterday. That glorious pizza I was longing for yesterday no longer exists. Apparently they have gutted their kitchen since the purchase of the next door restaurant years ago and it's no longer part of their menu. Even the Dekalb regional favorite, Beer Nuggets, were subpar. I have a better source in the town I live now, 40 miles away from the originals. It's a good thing I have Giordano's to get me through this difficult time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Taxes and freedom

Today we have our tax appointment. Nothing terribly exciting other than finding out how much of a refund we'll be getting. But, this year it happens to come right after Easter and Lent, during which I gave up pizza. Our accountant happens to be at our old college, Northern Illinois University, and there is a restaurant there, Molly's, that has the *best* Chicago style stuffed pizza. [They also happen to have maybe the worst MySpace page I've ever seen. How that site survives is beyond me.]

I wish everyday was tax day.

Friday, March 21, 2008

White Easter

I know that we're allowed to wear white at Easter, but this is ridiculous

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mugshot is dead to me

I'm a fickle bastard these days it seems. Mugshot looked great but updated like Yertle the Turtle. I found Profilactic. Good site, strange name. I put their badge here and they have a simple RSS feed I could integrate to Facebook. We'll see if this lasts.

Two unthinkable acts

I think I've left my longtime friend and instant messaging client, Trillian, behind now. I've used Trillian for many a year now because it combined all my instant messaging clients into one and group my many friends with many IM accounts into single contacts.

Now with my social networking experiment running, I've also done what I said I would never do...

registered for Facebook

[I'll give you a moment to compose yourself]

Facebook seems to have what I was looking for in being a kind of social clearing house. Combined with mugshot, I have built a good presence online. But the thing I learned very quickly with Facebook is that it's hard to keep up with all that is going on. I tried a couple desktop clients and added the RSS feeds into my other friend, Google Reader, but they didn't seem to really be what I wanted.

Enter Digsby. This little piece of software does all the IM features I've loved about Trillian and adds in the notifications from social networking like Twitter and Facebook. So far I really like it. It keeps me in touch with my contacts and networks and because it keeps its configuration on the server, will do something Trillian never could do

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Socializing my internets

Today I spent some time making my blog here into a kind of social spiderweb for my online activities. A while back I had signed up for Twitter for tracking the stock of the Nintendo Wii. After reading an article about some uses for microblogging, I started to see some value in these micromusings. So, that started a registration spree for me adding friends to Twitter, creating an account with Technorati to "public-ize" my home away from home, and set up various badges linking to my other online social services.

So, after spending years away, maybe I'll find I have something to say. I've often spent most of my online time socializing on Ticker Talk but found it consumed far too much of my productivity. Perhaps this miniaturized version of socializing will prove more manageable in an otherwise busy day.