Monthly Archive: April 2005

Packrat Payoff

Via Eric, it turns out Intel was offering a $10,000 reward for an original issue of the magazine where Moore’s Law was first published. They found one.

The guy who had it reminds me of me, though I have become more aggressive about throwing things out. One exception is I still have the first issue and several years of subsequent issues of an old magazine called “In Business,” oriented to small and micro businesses. If I recall correctly, it started in the late seventies.

Still, it sounds like keeping the magazine in question would be almost like keeping copies of CRN (Computer Reseller News), a free trade journal published weekly. I tend to let those pile up, but after about a year they get thrown away, leaving all but the most recent couple months gone.

Hard Drive Quality

I’m curious whether anyone else has opinions or a body of experience indicating the quality over time of different hard drive brands.

I’ve had the worst experience with Seagates dying or becoming unusable. In fairness, a large part of the sample size was a case of 4.3 GB drives used for upgrading some Dell Pentiums for a client. Perhaps there was a particularly bad manufacturing run and in general they are fine. Still, I have seen other Seagates bite the dust, with no relation to the main group. As a result, I try to avoid Seagates.

Once upon a time, Western Digital had such a stellar reputation that I would pay a premium to buy WD rather than a different brand. We’re talking back in the days that culminated with my purchase of a 540 MB drive for the amazing price of just over $400. Eventually, though, I started to see Western Digitals fail. Not as freely as Seagates, but seemingly with increasing frequency. Renee’s computer has a WD drive that is on the verge of dying, which is what brought the topic to mind. These days I buy WD if I have no other option, but I try to make sure I buy…

Maxtor. I don’t believe I have ever seen a Maxtor fail, and I have nearly as many of them as I have Western Digitals. If any have died on me, it was so few as to not have impinged on my quality suspicion radar.

So I am quite sad that my parts supplier does not appear to be carrying Maxtor drives. That is enough to have me thinking about checking alternative sources.

Other brands? I had an early 7200x hard drive by IBM. Small sample size, so I don’t think I’d make much of it. It was always loud, like a jet taking off. Eventually it failed such that it would work, but only as a slave. Then later it failed completely.

I’ve encountered some Samsung drives, and so far, so good. In one case, overlay software was needed, and I found out that Samsung was, at least at the time, effectively Western Digital hardware under a different brand. The Western Digital overlay utility was what had to be used to make a Samsung drive above the supported size work. That drive is still going. A couple of 60 GB Samsung drives I bought last year are fine so far, but that’s not very long.

I miss my Maxtors. I’ll have to do something about that, or hope for the best from the current crop of Western Digitals.

Comment moderation is on to control spam, but I’d be interested in any other thoughts and experiences with drive brand quality and failure rates. I’ll approve legitimate comments as quickly as I am able.

How About “May Apple Linux”

Ian‘s Linux adventures continue, which is interesting in itself. However, this reminded me of an item I saw yesterday on Hearst having threatened the Mandrake Linux folks into changing to Mandriva.

Who the hell cares about an obsolete, obscure cartoon character that happens to share the dictionary word for a plant with a respected Linux variant? Ian had the right word for it: Ludicrous.

It reminds me of a friend’s experience owning, when once upon a time the Lucas people called him. He told them there was nothing to stop him from using the Dutch word for “father” and they never bothered him again.

Keystrokes, Part 1

Have you ever noticed how many keystroke combinations are common across multiple programs? There’s something to be said for Microsoft taking the lead in setting standards. Here are some I use. They are written in the form of key hyphen key (and so forth if more than two keys are involved). This means hold down the first key, press the second key, and let them both up.

For many people who do a lot of typing, stopping to grab the mouse is a speed bump. Others don’t care. I’m no typist, yet I find keystrokes convenient. Perhaps that’s because I started with DOS word processors, especially WordStar 5.0, that revolved around them.

This tip will be about these three and associated information:


Think of those three as a set: copy, paste, cut. They’re used in pairs, either copy then paste, or cut then paste. Why isn’t pasting Ctrl-P? Because that is traditionally the shortcut for printing, so something not mnemonic had to be used.

One of the services provided by Windows that back in DOS a program would have to do itself is the clipboard, which keeps getting fancier. Ctrl-C tags the selected item as being on the clipboard, meaning it is available to paste, but leaves the original intact.

Ctrl-X tags the selected item as being on the clipboard, but to be removed from the old location once it is pasted. If you press Ctrl-X and mean Ctrl-C, pressing Ctrl-C changes the status from cut to copy, no harm done.

Ctrl-V puts whatever is on the clipboard into the selected spot. These keystrokes work most places throughout Windows, and in many Windows programs, not just Microsoft programs such as Word, Excel, etc. There are some odd locations where you can copy or paste, but only by right-clicking the mouse and choosing from the popup menu.

The clipboard holds various formats. If you copy one format and the place you try to paste doesn’t take that format, it won’t work. For instance, if you copy a picture and try to paste into Windows Notepad, no dice.

If you press the Print Scrn (print screen) button on your keyboard, most of the time in Windows that serves to copy the entire image of the screen, which can then be pasted somewhere that supports graphics. You can test this by pressing Print Scrn and then pressing Ctrl-V in a new Word or Wordpad document.

If a dialog box is up, or a window of a specific program is up and at the forefront (known as having “focus”), you can copy that alone by using Alt-Print Scrn. Some windows are evasive and don’t allow it, but usually it work.

I only recently found out myself that if an error message is on the screen and has focus, pressing Ctrl-C should put the text of the error on the clipboard, where you can paste it into Word, Notepad, an e-mail, or whatever. That’s great for conveying information about a problem to make troubleshooting it easier.

Once something is copied to the clipboard, until it is replaced by something else, or explicitly cleared by a program, you can paste it repeatedly.

Formats from the clipboard can be flexible. That’s what the “paste special” menu option is about in some programs. I don’t use “paste special” a lot, and of course this is tangential to the topic of keystrokes, but it can make a big difference. I use it when pasting from an Access database to an Excel spreadsheet, choosing paste as text to make the data go into the respective columns and be usable.

While this set out to talk about keystrokes, you should be aware that Microsoft, especially starting with Windows 95, tried to provide and encourage others to provide multiple ways to do things. They called Windows 95 “explorable” in keeping with that concept. Thus for copy, cut, paste, and other commands, you may find them in keystrokes (aka shortcut keys), on the menu (Edit, Copy; Edit, Paste), on toolbar buttons, or in context menus, which are the menus that popup when you right-click (or, more correctly, inverse-click, since the mouse buttons can be switched if you are left handed). The idea is to be able to pick what’s comfortable and efficient for you.

Copying, cutting and pasting are no longer merely about text and pictures. The same keystrokes and even menu commands apply in Windows to files. For instance, if you save a Word document to your desktop, but didn’t want it there, you might click on it, press Ctrl-X, open the “My Documents” folder, and press Ctrl-V. What in word processing would be cut and paste is, for a file, a move command. Moving can be dangerous, especially across a network, so you might want to copy, then delete the original when you know it worked. I use these commands for files as much as for text and pictures, though for files I also use dragging and dropping a lot. Now there’s something that’s not nearly as “intuitive” as some would have you think. Most of this stuff isn’t intuitive at all; it’s learned, but that’s where common patterns help you extrapolate.

I’ll cover other keystrokes and related topics other days, and perhaps create a quicklist when I’m done. This was going to be that list, but with explanatory text. I got carried away with the details.

(The above was written as a tip for clients and their employees and cross-posted here.)

April 11 Carnival of the Capitalists

The April 11 edition of Carnival of the Capitalists is up at TJ’s Weblog, featuring a specially selected set of twenty links.

Here are the entries that were not included:

Fresh Politics
Blog Business World
The Unrepentant Individual
Political Calculations
Random Thoughts From A CTO
Steve Pavlina’s Blog
Spooky Action
Conservative Cat
BPWrap – A Different Point Of View
The Other Bloke’s Blog
Roth & Company Tax Update
Pro Wrestling Impact
The Skeptical Optimist
Crossroads Dispatches
Management Craft
Interested Participant
Mover Mike
Mad Anthony

Next week’s CotC will be hosted by Brian Gongol. For other future hosts and info, check out the Carnival of the Capitalists page.

Timeouts, OWA, RPC, Exchange 5.5, NT4 proxy,Win2k homed mailbox

I just sent the following e-mail to two mailing lists of former employees of a company I once worked at doing support, many of whom were supporting Exchange or NT. Figured it couldn’t hurt to cross-post it here as well.

Once upon a time, I couldn’t install NT4 on a new mail server, so I used Windows 2000 Server, setting up Exchange 5.5 on that.

I then started to follow directions for moving mailboxes, using test cases (a couple former employees and test accounts), which would ultimately have led to everything being moved and then changing which was the primary server for the site per available directions.

Trouble was, when I tested from Outlook 98 on an NT box, I got inability to resolve names and was at a loss. But duh, I never tried it from another machine, and when I got back to it, I found it was a problem with the NT box specifically. Weird.

So I did the ultimate test. I moved my mailbox, which was the largest (turns out it’s the second largest now).

Everything worked fine. I could connect. A copy of each e-mail still copied to this mail account.

Well, mostly. I started going long periods wondering what was up, sending myself tests, then getting them in bunches later. It looks like that is a result of RPC binding errors, don’t have the exact text from the event log on the proxy server/gateway with me, when the proxy server tries to talk to the new mail server.

Thoughts? (The next problem I mention may be related so hang on…)

What I gather based on an initial search is that it could be on account of network traffic, on account of past damage from a virus/worm (the proxy was never the same in subtle ways after it got Nimda way back when, and I have yet to reinstall the whole thing), or because it would be useful to go into raw mode – something I have never done or contemplated – and change a setting. None of what I saw offhand addressed the exact situation: Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 5.5, NT4 to Windows 2000. It seemed to be all about mixes of Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2000.

Bear in mind that I am no Exchange admin. I simply do that as part of doing everything and somehow muddle through. The answer could be something simple.

The other thing, which I was in no position to discover until I moved my account, is that OWA is broken now.

When trying to use OWA for an account homed on the Windows 2000 server, it times out with:

error ‘ASP 0113′
Script timed out

I believe that is tied to at least some of the RPC errors I am seeing in the NT4 proxy’s event log, though perhaps those are actually all being generated when transferring mail from the NT4 to 2000 machine. Heck, for all I know all I have to do on 2000 is something that makes IMC talk to it properly.

As for OWA, any thoughts on the cause, and might the sometime mail delays relate to the OWA timeouts?

One more data point… There have been more general problems with the proxy lately. It’s been slow, more than I think any increase in traffic through it should justify. It’s needed more regular rebooting to get internet mail flowing again. It has Sybari Antigen and Spam Manager (well, they’re homed on the primary, to-be-replaced mail server, but Spam Manager does its work on the proxy) on it, and Spam Manager sometimes seems to strangle things, or simply stops working (which I think I have resolved by not letting its logs get too full). The machine has complained it was running out of space on the D drive with as much as 1.8 GB of free space. It was also hosting 9 GB of documents, but the speed and reliability problem remained after I moved the docs elsewhere. Figured I’d mention this in case the problem owes more to whatever ails that particular server than to any communication issue or setting between or on the Exchange 5.5/NT4 gateway and Exchange 5.5/Windows 2000 servers.

Any thoughts? I mean, besides getting the client to upgrade everything.

What About .US?

You want something that makes absolutely no sense? An agency I never heard of has abruptly and without explanation has disallowed private registration of .US domains.

They have this authority how?

They did this unceremoniously why?

Let’s see… for government we have .GOV, so .US can’t be needed for that.

.COM, .NET and .ORG are worldwide and give no special indication you are someone from the United States.

So yeah, that leaves .US as an option for folks in the US who would like a domain that identifies them geographically. Great.