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Now you see it…. Now You don’t

Last week our media director, the new user of the MacPro, called and said his files were gone off a directory on his windows machine.  We use a shared directory on the PC in the tech booth as a temporary landing place for the media files that are going to be transferred to the hard drive based playback unit that plays all video for our main stage events.

We use this ‘transfer’ folder to stage the files to ftp to the Ederol since the internal FTP server on the Ederol is quite flaky and it helps sit right right at the unit to do the transfer (Roland said it doesn’t get any better so we found a good work around).

So a week after the MacPro and the newly reformatted G5 were in production we noticed files just disappearing out of the transfer directory.  After closer inspection the files would copy over the network, then when the file is completely copied it deletes off the PC.  File transfers from a PC to this directory work fine.  So we decided maybe its a root permissions issue in the OS so we reformatted the PC… but the problem remains.

We have specifically narrowed it down to file transfer from two macs and it only fails if there are no files in this directory.  If there is a blank .txt file in this directory all is good, if the directory is empty the copy from the Mac fails.

Worst thing about this is if we call either Windows or Apple support its going to be a blame game I am sure…

Nothing more frustrating than identifying the problem and having no solutions…. What are your Thoughts?

$300 Laptops!!!

My new Zones rep Nathan made me aware of a great deal about a month ago that we have just taken advantage of and I want to pass on.  Sony has a trade-in program running until September 1st that they will give you $450.00 for each Dell laptop (or $300 for other brands) you trade them in for a new Sony Laptop.  We traded in one dell and two IBMS and paid less than $450 per laptop for each one after the rebate, which included extended battery and docking station.


If you would like our Zones contact’s info let me know but here are the Sony details about the trade-in program http://www.sony.tradeups.com/Customers/12/AllPromotions.aspx


Sony ships with tons of bloat-ware and we did have some issues putting our volume XP and Vista licensing on these devices because of Sony driver issues but the second tier support was great in getting these issues resolved…. I wouldn’t change your entire lineup to Sony laptops, but if you have some old boat anchors laying around that you want to trade in this a great cost effective option.  If you do purchase a Sony viao and have support issues let me know and we’ll give you that contact info too.

Humongo Whiteboard on the Cheap

Our team continues to try to find better ways to work thru projects and prioritize the day to day projects in addition to the long term projects.   Our latest tool is a really high tech tool… or not.  Its a 12ft x 5 ft white dry erase board.  We rearranged Jim and Jeremie’s office and had a great space to hang the board… but then the price of a board this big was fairly steep…. well over $400 and some around $900.

Several people mentioned using bathroom wall board, but after while it doesn’t look good and starts to bow and sag and not erase.

Our Student ministries found some static cling clear plastic that works as a dry erase surface, but when you remove that paint starts to peel of… so it wasn’t worth the premium ($150+).  So the search continued until we found RustOleum Dry Erase Paint.  Two cans of this stuff cover a 14×7 ft area and only cost $40 at home depot.

So we picked up two cans and our awesome campus services team got to work putting on the first coat.  And after the 4th coat we posted a note not to write on the board until after 2 days… Next the Campus service guys put up some low profile molding to make a frame around the writing surface to keep Jeremie’s crazy drawings off the wall. And finally, a great surface for department planning!


Apples just work?

Apple’s claim: “It just works…” but when it doesn’t the support is HORRIBLE!

Last week we decided to re-format a PowerPC G5 to replaced the current OS (10.3) with the the new Image we created and integrate this G5 into AD. 

When we tried to boot the G5 from the NetInstall service the big globe comes up, then the smaller globe, but then it goes to a window that reads: “You need to restart your computer. Hold down the Power button for several seconds or press the restart button. After the restart the same error displayed.  I checked the image server and all the services appeared to be working correctly so I contacted AppleCare Tech support. 

I have learned how to get thru to enterprise support on the AppleCare voice prompts by saying “OS X Server”.  After waiting on hold for about 15 minutes I was greeted by the technician and gave the appropriate information and then told him about my problem.  The tech instructed me to try booting from the CD to try installing the OS from the CD, which I did and the install prompts displayed.  So I asked the tech, so how do we fix the issue with the NetInstall Image not working, and following conversation was worth noting:

Todd: You need to install from the CD since there was an issue with the NetInstall. 

Me: I have used the NetInstall before and it worked well, what can we do to trouble shoot the NetInstall/NetBoot service so we can use our PowerPC image with applications and drivers already configured?

Todd: It isn’t an issue with Apple Server, but your image you created. Are you sure this is an image of a PowerPC?

ME: Yes its a PPC image. The image has worked on several other PPC installs, what is causing it to fail now?

Todd:  I don’t know, but since the installer works from the CD, it is an issue with your Image.

Me: I know its an issue with the Image, but what can we do to fix the problem.

Todd: Install from the CD.

Me: (Getting annoyed) But the Image has all the configuration for our machines, and the CD install doesn’t I really would like to have you help me get the Netboot Service working, can you not help troubleshoot the image service since…. well its is part of OSX server.

Todd: The Install from the CD works so you should use that, I don’t know what else to tell you what to try.

Me:  Is there anyone else that can assist me?

Todd: No, but here is my email address if you find any additional information that will help us solve the problem you can email me.

Me: That is ridiculous, and you aren’t able to assist me?

Todd: That is all I can help you with, thank you for calling apple care, I hope we can assist you in the future.

I got off the phone and began ‘googling’ the error message and found this discussion on the apple web site: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=7698665. After copying the images to another location, deleting the Share Point, copying the images back and restarting and reconfiguring the service all was well.

Then the best part is getting the support evaluation request from apple… Are you serious?  I was tempted to ask if they were using the Abbot and Costello”Who’s on First” sketch as a training tool.

Shame on you Apple Support….Yeah Apple Community forums!

Our SonicWall Lineup

Since our Sonicwall Line-up has changed and Darin Jacks asked after a post about our datacenter about a CDP, well this is one of those post that I started a while back and never finished… so here a list of our line-up.

Some might say its almost the whole SonicWall product line, and I guess they might be close but then they might also go an purchase a lot of Sonicwall gear too (you know who you are, Justin)…

2 – E-Class 5500
The E-Class does a great job load balancing between 2 cable modems and our T1 all while doing content filtering and unified threat management.  Once we receive the switch from our reseller, we will have these two units install in a HA Pair

1 – CDP 4440i (Disk to Disk Backup)
The  CDP has been rock solid for backup, except for recently having an issue keeping too many backups of exchange (but this is being resolved…. i would much rather have too many backups than no backups… Yikes that brings back awful memories of 2 years ago this week)

1 – SSL-VPN 2000
The SSL-VPN just works great.  Any remote access (OWA, RDP etc.) all comes thru this single location for our users… great way to simplify remote access training.

1 – Email Security 400
We have had ups and downs with this Spam appliance, but since we got it dialed in… only 1-2 spam messages hit our users inbox per week (avg.)

1 – 4060 Pro (Enhanced OS)
Offline and For Sale If you are wanting to buy at used Pro4060 leave a comment.

12 – SonicPoints for Public WiFi
We recently deployed all the WiFi radios and have almost 100% coverage over 170K sq.ft.

Mac and Microsoft RDP

With our recent push to better serve our mac users, I have used the Mac on my desk a little more…. I wish I could report that I use it a lot more but that’s just not true. 

I have been using Microsoft’s RDP client for the Mac and it has been working well.  RDP allows me to connect to a windows server while I am also remotely connected to our OSX Leopard server.  The one issue with Mac RDP was not being able to connect to the Windows Server Console… but alas you can.  If you enter the server name /console in the address bar it connects you to the console session of that Windows server.

Snapshot 2008-07-30 09-17-04

Just chalk it up to another fact that may be totally useless.

Rolling out a Monster Rig Revisited

After the recent post about our Monster Video Production Rig several asked about the budget for the project so I have compiled a rough list of the costs.

Final Cut Computer:


- Mac Pro including – ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB (Two dual-link DVI)
- 8GB (2X4GB) PC25300 ECC Third Party Ram, not buying it from apple saves a ton (A TON of cash).
- 2 – Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP
- Wacom INTUOS 3 6×11 Wide Format USB Pen Tablet PTZ631W
- Logic Keycaps
- Tannoy Reveal 5A – 5″ Biamplified Nearfield Monitors

Hardware Total: $7311


- Adobe CS3 Suite Production Premium (2 year updates)
- CHV Shine + Magic 3D
- Digital Heaven Plug-ins
- Final Cut Studio 2
- Flip4 Mac Studio
-Futurismo Backgrounds
- Mac Office 2008

- Natress Big Box of Tricks
- Noise Industries FXPro
- Snap Z Pro
- Volumetrix FX pack

Software Total: $2749

Total Cost: $10,232.73

Seeing your Media Director Smile and act almost giddy, Priceless

VMWorld 2008

Our Zones Account Executive, Nathan, tipped me off on this event… I don’t think we are planning to attend since the price is way too high, but if you were near Vegas this might be something to check out.
Virtualization Conference Labs, Sessions, Solution Exchange - VMware

IT = Part-time Detective


This past week I received a call from one of our staff members who reported that every key he pressed ANY key on his keyboard he heard a beep. He couldn’t type since everything displayed as strange characters and the problem didn’t go away after rebooting.

When arrived he showed me the symptoms he had described. I first thought that it had something to do with the laptop docking station, and removed the laptop from the dock… All was well.  So next we deleted the hardware profile and rebooted the laptop… and all was well.. for about 30 seconds and the problem started again.  None of the keys were stuck in the down position, but it appeared that the control key was stuck.  At the login page you could press alt-del and the login page displayed, if you pressed ctrl-alt-del the machine just beeped.

So for a few minutes I thought about the problem and suggested we get an external keyboard to see if that allowed us to use the laptop.  Quickly the user says “I have a keyboard right here under my desk, and its even wireless”.  On a hunch I suggested he press the ctrl key on the wireless keyboard while I press the alt-del keys on the laptop… sure enough the login prompt displayed.  The wireless keyboard had been left on and ‘connected’ to the laptop while under the desk.  Sometime during the day a small cardboard box fell over under the desk pressing the ctrl key.

Lesson learned: remove your batteries from your wireless keyboard when you aren’t using it!

{This Story was shared with the permission of G. Webb}

Erin & “J-Rock” Wedding

This past weekend our network administrator, Jeremie Kilgore got married to the wonderful gal who he affectionately calls “lady”.  See Erin’s user name on their wedding blog as shown below.

Our Wedding

While at the Wedding I snapped some photos to share.  Of course I emailed these to JK on his phone before they were even out of the church…  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a shot of them running thru the bubbles and email that to them before they got in the car… Sorry Bobbi.

So here are some photos of Jeremie & Erin’s Big day.

Jeremie Assessing the situation




Announcing Mr & Mrs Jeremie Kilgore


A Sweet Ride (What doe he do for a living??!)


Dave B and others waiting to “do the bubble thing”…you pull the top and toss whole container right?


Mel and Alex checking the car over.


Jeremie being a gent



Jeremie made the cake that Erin and he cut, and I am glad because the test cakes were tasty office treats!


This photo was placed on the tables at the reception, WOW I think I might have been too scared to hire JK if he still had hair like that…. Talk about a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with. Note to self… if you ever need a bodyguard, have Jeremie grow his hair long again….


Congrats Erin and Jeremie!!!!