Thursday, August 28, 2008

2008 McDonald's Kids Triathlon

Here's the video we took of Alex at the Kids Triathlon this past weekend. Be sure to click the link on the page to view in high quality.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What a day this has been

Triathlon Mosaic
Originally uploaded by oblik
Today is one of the days that will forever stand out in my memory.

Three years ago, we were "graduating" my son, Alex, from his physical and occupational therapy, just prior to entering Kindergarten, for some developmental issues he had centering around sensory integration dysfunction and the effects it had on his motor skills.

Today, we stood by and cheered as he completed the 2008 Kids Triathlon in Chicago. These two days could not be more stark in their contrast or uplifting in the pride that I felt for Alex today.

This picture is just a snapshot of our day. You can see more in this slideshow

Today was a good day

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The key to the cache

The key to the cache
Originally uploaded by oblik
This weekend I took the kids on a geocaching expedition to a local park. It is actually only about 1/4 mile from our house and we walk there with the kids often. I had no idea such a cache existed so close.

For those unfamiliar, geocaching is just the "sport" of finding hidden caches or objects marked online with their GPS coordinates. This seems quite popular by the number of caches in my area as well as their frequency of discovery.

This particular cache took us almost an hour of total time to get to, find, and return from. It was well hidden (rated 1.5 of 5 on a difficulty level). My GPS isn't the greatest so perhaps its accuracy hindered us a bit but it took some searching in the trees to eventually discover the location.

In this case, the clue had told us not to yank on the cache but to find the key (pictured above). The cache was actually attached to a wire held taut by this key. Once released, the cache was easy to dislodge. We wrote our names on the enclosed slip of paper and put it back for others to find.

I'm planning another expedition this weekend for a second local cache that appears to have a "travel bug" in it that is uniquely coded and can be recorded on the website as it travels around the world. I'm excited to find it and possibly put it into another cache 30 miles away close to my workplace.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

When backups aren't really backups

When is your backup not a backup? Apparently when you use BackupExec to back up data replicated using DFS-R.

My latest conundrum is that I have data that was replicated to a backup server using DFS-R, Microsoft's replication technology that comes as part of Windows Server 2003. DFS-R isn't the key component to this story, just that the data was part of a DFS tree and being replicated for backups. DFS is another Microsoft technology used to make mapping drives easier in an enterprise. In either case, these are fairly common things to find in a Windows shop.

Enter BackupExec. Since their 10d product (around hotfix 31) and continuing with their 11d and 12d disk backup products, any DFS data has to be backed up using a third Microsoft technology, Volume Shadow Services. This feature simply allows files and applications to be "snapshotted" or backed up while "hot", or during normal operations without impacting the live data. It is very useful. Well, we used it and backed up our data this way as it was required.

Only we had issues with the DFS replication and decided to transition to other methods to copy our file server local to the backup server. In that process we removed the DFS-R configuration, as expected, but now I need to restore some data from those previous backups only, I can't.


Apparently BackupExec requires that you restore shadow copied DFS data to the exact same replication group it originally came from.


So the scenario is that if you're using DFS and BackupExec you can never, ever...ever change your DFS replication groups because they are needed for restorations, even 2, 3, say 5 years down the line. And you know what their recommended fix is?

Restore your entire domain (user accounts, DFS configuration, email, whatever) back to before the change and then restore the data.


So the recommended recovery option for old DFSR data (let's say...a spreadsheet) is to restore my entire company domain back in time?


Needless to say, I'm opening a support ticket with Symantec but I'm not expecting much in the way of results. Meanwhile, I'm going to see if Arcserve can import my tape catalogs and restore my data to something less drastic than a previous version of my entire domain. If that fails, it looks like we're going to be building a time machine in a set of servers just to have them around to do restores.


BTW, the general recommendation in the community is either back up the files through the back door using a file share, avoiding the shadow copy service, or turn off DFS replication during the backup so BackupExec doesn't think it is DFS data anymore.


Update: After a somewhat heated discussion with Symantec on this issue, their senior technician had suggested we try running the restore with all DFS services turned off. I wasn't expecting much from this suggestion but sure enough, the restore was successful.

Now if only that had been mentioned in the technote. And the solution in the technote was the initial response from tech support and not until I complained excessively about this did they try to provide another workaround. Good thing I did, or else I still think I'd be left scratching my head over this "feature".

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

When good blogging goes bad...

The Senior Director of Marketing at Citrix for XenServer, Roger Klorese recently posted on his blog taking fire at competitor VMware for their hypervisor not running in 32MB of memory as claimed only VMware doesn't make that claim. The problem then shifts to how big a hole Roger can dig himself while casting a harsh light on his company.

read more | digg story

This is the kind of thing in this world of "Web 2.0" that really blows me away. Here you have someone who is supposed to be a face to the world for a software product. In one post, he manages to cast a shadow on the product he is in fact trying to market by not being able to let go of an argument. Instead of admitting a misunderstanding of the facts, he continues on for comment after comment trying to defend his position to the death.

The fact of the matter is, I don't know anyone technical who understands that VMware ESX 3i operates in 32MB of memory. The entire idea is ludicrous and then to attempt to discredit VMware for some claims that it hasn't made is even more so. It may not be the biggest feature of the product but it was noteworthy at the time that they removed a large chunk of the OS in order to make it installable in more places and remove potential security holes that existed in the products included in the Linux client.

Keep going Roger, you'll hit China soon.