The One in Which I Realized TV is Dying…

Posted by on Jul 18, 2012 in General | 1 comment

I am loyal.

To a fault.

Or, perhaps it is that I hate change.  Or moving.  Whatever.

In any case, I am a Dish Network subscriber.  I have been for over 10 years.  I like it.  With the exception of very extreme weather (or, you know, trees growing in the way), it has worked flawlessly.

However, on June 30, Dish dropped AMC.  I never noticed, as I never watch AMC.

Except for when I do.

So, imagine my surprise when I turned on my TV on Sunday night, fired up the DVR (what?  You watch it in real-time, with commercials?  What are you, a neanderthal?) and…nothing.  It is not showing up in my DVR list.

Ok.  No problem.  I will just make sure I didn’t delete it from my queue, and then setup one of the repeats to “tape”.

Wait….why can’t I find AMC?  Did they change channels?  Did I have a stroke?  Wait?  What is going on?  Where is everyone?  Oh.  My.  God.  It is The Rapture!  And, I’m left behind with all of the fun people!

<firing up the old browser>Ok; don’t panic.  Just look up online and see what is happening</close browser in a panic>.




After calming down (it is just a TV show, after all), I send an email to Dish Network support.  Below is the response I received, with the emphasis being mine:

Dear Valued DISH customer,
Thank you for your e-mail.   
The channels AMC Networks forces us to deliver — WE, IFC and AMC — do not give our customers the best content at the best value.  We have permanently removed them from the DISH line up as of June 30. 

 AMC Networks has further devalued its programming by making its handful of popular shows available to consumers via iTunes, Netflix and This means that AMC Networks wants us to pay many millions of dollars for content that is available to our subscribers the next day for just a couple of dollars.

 Among DISH viewers, movies on AMC are substantially more popular than its few original series. But customers have better choices than AMC as DISH offers Blockbuster @Home, dozens of movie channels from partners like HBO, Showtime, Starz, EPIX, HD Net, MGM HD, IndiePlex, RetroPlex, PixL and the latest new releases on DISH Cinema.

People don’t want to and shouldn’t have to watch their movies interrupted with commercials.  The movies shown on AMC are not commercial-free.  DISH is proud to offer customers alternative programming options that deliver great movies, un-interrupted.

DISH is providing more movie content to its customers. We will offer top quality, commercial-free HDNet Movies at channel 130 to replace AMC.  HDNet, soon to become AXS.TV, will be at channel 131 to replace IFC.  Style will replace WE at channel 128.  Additionally, we are providing all of our customers with a free preview of great independent films on IndiePlex and to dozens of top movies on Encore for the month of July. This will give our customers a taste of the thousands of movies on demand as part of Blockbuster @Home.

At DISH, we stand up for our customers every day to deliver more than just the best in entertainment.  We have remained in contact with AMC throughout this situation.  Should AMC choose to change their position, we remain open to a proposal that would resolve this issue.

Thank you for being a valued and loyal customer.

Ok.  Two points here:

  1. Every single channel, including the big 4 Network channels, offer their content in some form online.  If I want to watch something on my computer (legally), I can find a way to do it, through iTunes, Netflix, Boxee, Hulu, Amazon, Bob’s Big House of Streaming Video, etc.  I choose, however, to watch it on my TV when I can.  That is why I have one.
  2. The only reason I can imagine that movies are more popular than their series on AMC, is that the series are fewer and fill up less time in the day.  Plus, they deal with adult themes, which means you aren’t going to have them on at 2:00 in the afternoon.

So, that is it.  On July 18, 2012, I have called it.  Television is dead, and streaming is the answer.  You are welcome.

SQL Express and 2008 Server

Posted by on Jul 29, 2011 in General | 0 comments

SQL Express is a good product.  It provides a free database server for low-level applications.

However, by default, when installed on a 2008 server, it does not make the logged in administrator account a sysadmin.  You do have the option to do this during the install…unless you are installing a program, like LiveNote Admin, that includes a SQL 2005 Express install process.  You then end up with a SQL 2005 Express installation that you cannot adequately maintain.

Fortunately, you can add your administrator account to the database with sysadmin access using the SQL Server 2005 Surface Area Configuration tool, which should be under Start/All Programs/Microsoft SQL Server 2005/Configuration Tools.  When you open this, you will see a link that will let you add any account (domain or local) to the server as a sysadmin.

Updating Sharepoint 2010 Foundation to SP 1

Posted by on Jul 26, 2011 in General | 1 comment

Well, like most people, I updated Sharepoint Foundation to SP 1.  And, like most people, search immediately stopped working.

I had to do three things to get search back up and working again:

1)  Install SP 1 for Search Server Express

2)  Install the June Cumulative Update (CU), which is a hotfix that you have to request from Microsoft here.  This is odd, as it is recommended that you do this here.

3)  Update the Search DB to the new schema.  To do this:

  1. Open an Administrative command prompt.
  2. Change directory to C:Program FilesCommon FilesMicrosoft SharedWeb Server Extensions14BIN
  3. Run PSConfig.exe -cmd upgrade -inplace b2b -force -cmd applicationcontent -install -cmd installfeatures

I don’t know why the above command can’t be set to run automatically at the end of the installation.

SBS 2003 and the Case of the OWA 503 Error

Posted by on Nov 24, 2010 in General | 0 comments

So this was a weird one.

I was installing a law firm case management program for a client (no names, but rhymes with “Babacus”), and during the install a reboot was required.  At the time, everything seemed to be working correctly, and I continued on my merry way.  However, a couple of hours later, I got a call saying that Blackberries were not receiving emails, and that Outlook Web Access (OWA) was not available.  I tried to connect to OWA, and received this error after login:

503 Service Unavailable

I then looked at the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) services, and they were all down, as was Backup Exec.  The BES services, when trying to restart them, would give a “service-specific error code 5003”.  After searching for the Blackberry error code to no avail, as well as multiple other sites to try to fix the OWA and other errors, I resorted to calling MS Support.

Which was supposed to call me back within 2 hours.

Which called me back almost 5 hours after my initial call (and after two calls to them for an update).

After spending some quality time with the tech, we finally boiled it down to a set of .dll files in Drive:Program FilesCommon FilesSystemOle DB.  After trying to re-register the .dll files, one (oledb32.dll) would refuse to register with this error:

LoadLibrary(“oledb32.dll”) failed – The Specified procedure could not be found.

This included following KB 838176, which didn’t really apply, but was all about moving a clean copy of the .dll to both the target directory and the .dll cache.  No joy.  We even reinstalled Exchange SP2 on the machine.

What finally fixed it was re-installing Windows 2003 SP 2 on the machine.  After a reboot, all was sunshine and lollypops.  OWA, BES and BackupExec all started up and ran without complaint.


The Case *For* Facebook

Posted by on May 19, 2010 in General | 0 comments

Facebook has gotten a lot of heat lately.  Most of it is justified….their privacy settings are seemingly changed at a moments notice, and without any thought to what the average person would want to be set.  But, it does do one thing very well…bring old friends together.

An example; for 20 years I worked for a law firm in San Francisco.  It was a good sized firm, and a lot of people moved through the doors.  One of them left the firm in 1996.

Cut to 2009, and we have reconnected via Facebook.  She had since left the the practice that is law, and became a chef who works with kids.  Lo and behold, Child #1 was doing a badge for her girl scout troop, and she wanted to do something cooking related. I reached out to my FB friend, and she set up a class that all of the kids enjoyed.  Without Facebook, we would never have reconnected!

So, yes their security policies are laughable and arcane, but Facebook does serve a purpose.  Just don’t put anything on there you don’t want the world to see!

Plus…she has cooking camps!

Server Install Gotcha

Posted by on Mar 31, 2010 in General | 0 comments

I was installing a new domain install of SBS 2008…not a migration.  However, after the install process finished, the domain admin account that was added did not have the correct permissions, Exchange 2007 wasn’t installed, and the Active Directory schema was not extended correctly.  After multiple installs, I finally realized that a stand-alone server on the network had the same workgroup name as the domain name that I wanted to use.  And, while I clearly installed it with the intention that this was the first domain controller, the install process seemed to view the workgroup “controller” to be a domain controller, and since the domain admin account had a different password, it couldn’t authenticate to the “domain”.  Silly, and especially silly that it couldn’t come up with a simple little “Hey, dummy!  Change the workgroup that one standalone computer belongs to!”, or even “Hey, there appears to be another domain here with the same name!”


Server 2003 to SBS 2008 Migration

Posted by on Feb 8, 2010 in Tech Hints | 2 comments

Ok.  It isn’t really a migration; in reality, you are joining an SBS 2008 machine to an existing Server 2003 domain.  However, since you have to do similar tasks as you do for a migration, I’m calling it that.

In short, you are following the same instructions that are found in this Microsoft Technet posting.  In a nutshell:

  1. Prepare the domain computer, including (and especially) updates to SP 2, and confirming that you don’t have any AD errors happening
  2. Backup the system state on the source server at the very least
  3. Raise the functional AD level to Windows 2003
  4. Run the Migration Prep tool from the SBS media.  Note that you may need to run it more than once for it to update the Forest and Domain Schemas
  5. Prepare the answer file
  6. Install SBS on the new server with the answer file on a flash drive in the machine
  7. Prepare to wait, but check on the SBS machine often to make sure it hasn’t stalled on the AD migration process (it will tell you if it did)
  8. Robocopy.  Learn it, love it, and prepare a batch file to run copy scheme after copy scheme if you have multiple shared folders to move.
  9. The Migration tool in the SBS Console will not work.  However, you can do most of the items needed (especially the updating of Users and Groups to the new schema) via the Console screen under Users and Groups.  You will need to do this to show the Users and Groups in the SBS console

That is pretty much it.  The rest, especially decommissioning and older Exchange server is an exercise I leave to the reader.

Rethinking the Antivirus “Solution”

Posted by on Dec 4, 2009 in General | 2 comments

Here is the crux of the issue:

Antivirus software works.  Antivirus doesn’t work.

No matter what program you have, if you don’t have good, secure habits (and even that is not an absolute), you will get bitten.  And your Antivirus program will not stop it.  And you will have three options:

  1. Clean it yourself
  2. Pay someone to clean it up
  3. Backup the data and wipe the machine

In the past week alone, I’ve had three different calls from three different kids of users, using three different Antivirus “solutions”; all of whom got hijacked.

So, to recap:  You pay $35 (or $45 or $55) per year, and still have to give up your machine for a couple of hours while it gets cleaned up.  Oh, and you may have lost personal data in the meantime.

Even USA Today has figured this out.  Unfortunately there aren’t any good pie charts to go along with the article.

What is the answer?  I’m not sure.  I’m thinking of just running Microsoft Security Essentials (on the theory that it is free, and they know about malware, having created the worst programs in the history of mankind; badda-bing!), with the occasional manual scans by MalwareBytes.

Let’s be careful out there.

Netflix Instant Queue and PS3

Posted by on Nov 23, 2009 in General | 0 comments

Ok.  I will admit that I was a little…suspicious of Netflix being able to deliver content over the internet.  But, when they offered a free disk that would allow my PlayStation 3 to stream videos, I decided to give it a try.


I am amazed how well it works.  Within 5 minutes of starting up my PS3, I had started watching a movie, with almost no loss in quality.  If not for the fact that some options seemed to be missing (extras and subtitles for example), I would think that I was watching a DVD.

The best part?  I could stop a movie one night, and then resume it the next night at the same place without having to do anything special.  How cool is that?

The short answer?  Be sure to order this disk from Netflix if you have a PS3.  The quantity isn’t there yet, but I see it becoming a game changer. And, if you have kids, it is the best thing since sliced bread.

Now we just need to get them to put up The Wire and BSG!

Remote Web Workplace Stops Working with “The Client Could Not Connect” Error

Posted by on Nov 17, 2009 in Tech Fixes | 0 comments

Here is the symptom:

Remote web workplace suddenly stops working, and when you try to connect, you get the following error:

“Connectivity to the remote computer could not be established. Ensure that the remote computer is on and connected to the Windows Small Business Server network.”

However, the computer is on, and when logged in locally, all network services work.

Chances are, some service other than RWW has grabbed onto port 4125.  Here is how you can find out the offending service and then fix it.  This comes from Microsoft’s support site.

  1. Open up a command prompt.
  2. Run this command:  netstat -ano | find “:4125”
  3. You’ll see the following output:  TCP IP_Address:Port IP_Address:Port LISTENING Process_Identifier
  4. Open up the Task Manager
  5. Click View, Select Columns, PID (Process Identifier)
  6. Locate the service that was listed in #3
  7. Open up Services and restart that service.  You may need to look at the Service executable path to confirm you are restarting the correct one.
  8. RWW should grab port 4125 again.  I leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out how to get that service to stop grabbing the RWW port.

Good luck!