Problems with slow Vista networking

Have you noticed some slowness with copying files in Vista? I used to have some major problems with this, and already having a slower network didn’t help. After some diffing and research, I found that a new ‘feature’, Remote Differential Compression, was to blame.

Remote Differential Compression allows much faster data coppies if all hardware along the way supports it. From what I read, it seems like this would be pretty similar to rsync, just copy over the bits that change.

Well, I was using Vista in a mostly Windows 2000 server environment, and this just didnt work. So to turn it off:

  • Click Start
  • Go to Control Panel
  • Click ‘Programs and Features’
  • On the left, you should see ‘Turn Windows features on or off’
  • When the box comes up, towards the top you should see ‘Remote Differential Compression’, uncheck this box.
  • Click OK
  • You may then need to reboot for changes to take affect.

No junk mail can sometimes be a BAD thing…

I may be an oddity, but I honestly don’t ever have to worry about spam. My gmail account works for EVERYTHING, and I honestly never have any issues with Spam in my Inbox, or good messages in my Spam filter. Maybe I dont have that many friends, or rely on email that much, but I find it hard for someone to ‘keep’ unread messages in their inbox.

At work this is usually the case to, Outlook does a pretty great job keeping my inbox clean (and then I do the rest of my work, hitting Zero Email Bounce almost every other day). I empty my Junkmail folder every other day, and everything is fine.

But when that Junk mail folder isnt filling up 10 messages every 30 minutes, something is wrong. When its empty for 2 hours, something is VERY wrong. We had a recent issue where I had to bounce our Exchange box (it had been up for 6 months no issues), and things worked great. But of course, this time after a restart, mail still was not flowing.

Once I got to looking into it (I had to run out of the office to reboot a machine at our datacenter), I noticed that I could send email out, but not in. But if i tried sending through gmail, comcast, or even the command line,  everything was marked as Spam. And not just moved to a spam folder, the machine was actually REJECTING EVERY MESSAGE CLAIMING THEY WERE A SPAM DOMAIN!

Reading through many posts online, people said to clear out your RBL lists. But our exchange server nor spam software had any of these set up! After digging a little further, a few people (years ago) posted into newsgroups that Symantec would sometimes lock up on these. Going through our config, I noticed a list of servers. Once I removed this, and applied the new setting, mail was flowing faster than ever before!

This morning a co-worker sent me an email on something he had received from a friend. It was an article on Slashdot (one of my old favorite sites, I dont even look at it much anymore) about a Long Dead ORDB returning False Positives for everything. AH HAH! So we were not the only ones seeing this problem. Luckily I had fixed our issue an hour and a half before this was posted. Things are running back to normal, and actually faster than usual now.

Two things that I really question though:

  • Was there ever any notification, or at least warning, that on 3/25/08 at 12 PM Eastern this ‘dead service’ would turn on again to tell people to stop using it?
  • Why would Symantec NOT warn their customers about this?!?! This server was on a list that we had been setup AFTER the ORDB had been offline! They have our email, I got an email today to renew our subscription!

This was really a wakeup call. Even though their system was dead, tons of servers will still requesting this service, and still taking up bandwidth. While having companies possibly loose email by flipping the switch like this, you learn that you should have much more complete control over your systems, and properly manage them in all aspects. If you dont know what that system is doing, find someone who does know, or learn it yourself. Thats going to be my job over the next few months as we start making quite a few changes!

Lastly, you also learn that sometimes the Internet isn’t as fast as it needs to be at times, and good old debuging and monitoring really makes you solve your own problems, learn stuff, and feel good about it.

Listening To: ‘Welcome Home’ by Coheed and Cambria

NewsGator products now free, why should I stick to Google Reader?

Note – I started this post last week. Since then, due to some other circumstances, I switched back to Google Reader. This posts outlines my experience over the last week, and why I went back!

Last week, the teams at NewsGator announced that instead of charging a few bucks for their news readers, everything was now freely available. Some of these readers, including NetNewsWire for the Mac and FeedDemon for the PC are really the top readers available. Other than my desire to always find free and/or open source ways of doing things on the computer, I would have easily paid the money to use either one of these applications.

I posted over a year ago my about my move to Google Reader. It was a move I was very happy with, and used MULTIPLE times a day, every day, over the last year. One of the main reasons that I went to an online reader was because I used multiple machines. I didn’t want to have to read posts in one place, and then re-read (or mark as read) the ones I had already seen. I even wanted to work on the source code of my preferred feed reader at the time (it was an open source C# reader) to allow it to read the sync’d information from NewsGator.

Right after I heard all the products were now free, I immediately downloaded NetNewsWire on the Mac and FeedDemon on the PC. Google Reader (like most all other readers) let me export my OLPC file to import into the other reader. I set up a News Gator account, and I was in RSS-syncing heaven.

I love Google products, and really, I would have never thought about switching. The only thing that made me even want to try was because of the speed. Google cache’s feeds, depending on their popularity. So if you have custom feeds, like your Facebook friends status updates, that only gets updated every few hours. Other more popular feeds, like Digg, get updated a few times every hour. For the most part this is great, but its really annoying when I do use particular websites, like Facebook, and the status updates are even up to 5 hours behind!

Ive enjoyed using NetNewsWire. It’s one of the perfect Mac programs, everything works the way its supposed to. The interface is really clean, the UI is very easy to use, and it has a feature that I didn’t even know was important to me – something called ‘River of News’. When I read my news, I prefer just to have a long list of items, rather than reading through each feed or each category individually. I quickly browse through my 200+ feeds, and open up those that strike my interest. If im on my cellphone, I would just start particular feeds and read them at home.

On the other hand, I really didnt like FeedDemon. It was slow. First of it all, it doesnt have this River of News flow, and that really slows down my reading. It was also very sluggish on my pretty speedy laptop, and was confusing to use at times. There were plenty of times I just wanted to give up this whole trial because of this application.

I never got to try out the Windows Mobile feed reader from News Gator. This is mainly due to me being really busy over the last week, but also because Debs and I switched cell phone providers last night. Therefore I can’t really review the program, which is ashame, because I did have high hopes for it. Now that I have a blackberry (more on that later), I notice they have a blackberry client. Looking at the screenshots, I dont think Im going to be very happy to use it, it looks closer to the Windows client than the Mac. Combined with my dislike for the Windows client, I’m not going to even waste my time installing this one on my blackberry unless I hear rave reviews on it.

Overall I was happy with this switch for a while. I have always liked NetNewsWire. I used NetNewsWire Lite at my old job to track most feeds as well as custom internal feeds we used at work. If there was a program like it that would sync on the PC, I would never touch Google Reader again. But with my complete dislike for the Windows client (slowness, hard to use, and it just took me too long to read my feeds), Im going to have to leave this mix of clients.

Time to go mark my 2000+ ‘unread items’ as read, and get back to how things were! I noticed I have a few more friends in my Google Talk list now sharing items, as well as hearing that Google Reader got some updates while I was gone!

For those considering the switch – either way – Lifehacker had a great post before I started my experiment about the pro’s and con’s of both! I suggest that you check it out!

Listening To: ‘When Your Gone’ by The Cranberries

.NET Framework Source Code Available!

Scott Guthrie, one of the interesting and bleeding edge Microsoft developer blogs announced today that the .NET Framework Library Source code was now available. This is a big deal, and something I really look forward to taking a look into.

While one of the main reasons for releasing this code was to help developers debug better, areas outside of this are already paying attention. Case in point, Mono. Mono is the software that allows developers to develop .NET apps for platforms like the Mac, Linux, Solaris, and other platforms. I have been toying around with Mono for a years now, just fooling around on the Mac and Linux to see what I could do. Over that time, the project has not only gained more and more popularity, it also has gained substantial backing, its currently sponsored by Novell.

Discussed around the internet a few months ago when Scott announced the plan to release this source code, people immediately talked the possibilities of this and Mono working together. But of course, this could never work. This new code is not actually open source, and neither is the license its released under! Right after Scott announced this, Mono posted on their site their stance on using any of this, which you can read here. Basically, none of this code could/will be used. What I am not sure about is using any Microsoft intellectual property/development methods/etc. to influence parts of the Mono Project. I would assume no, since in most cases, closed source (and even some open source) licenses protect this as well.

I personally would love to start working with this. They currently have released the code to some of the more common parts of the library, some stuff that I use every day. Its mostly for debuging code, but I also think it would be a GREAT learning tool. Pretty much all of my programing knowledge is self-taught, with some help from friends, teachers, and the internet along the way. But in all of those cases, other than from friends/other projects, you never really see ‘real code’. Everything you read in school is theory, and stuff you see online only explains a key point or two, not all 10 points you may be trying to cover together. Being able to see the actual code of the Libraries that we program against every day not only shows you methodology, but may even the way developers at Microsoft designed these tools.

Unfortunately, our team at work wont be going to VS2008 any time soon (though it would eliminate the need for me to use VS2003 and 2005 together). I have it installed on my home machine, but just have not had the chance to use it just yet! There’s a lot of things brewing around here, so time will tell!

Listening To: ‘The Sounds of Settling’ by Death Cab for Cutie

Errors with Windows Software Update Service on Windows 2000

Even though things have been VERY exciting/confusing/busy/slow at work, I have been able to start working on some more things around the office that really needed to get done. One of the things I have been wanting to do for a while is setup Windows Software Update Service. We have a rather slow internet connection at times (everybody just loves Pandora). Add in a lot of machines to manage, some that have not had updated applied for years. Whenever we have a new machine to update, it takes almost a week to actually get it fully ready for use with the amount of updates needed.

After talking to Nate a while back, he introduced me to Windows Software Update Service (WSUS for short).  This is a lot like the Software Update Server Apple ships on OS X Server, but a lot more robust. You can manage packages better, control groups better, and more, while Apple’s software only allows you to just stage updates. There are higher-end versions of the WSUS software that even let you manage remote installs of other software on machines in your domain.

I just started the setup today, wanting to use the latest and greatest WSUS 3.0. Not looking at the notes, you actually CAN’T run WSUS 3.0 on a Windows 2000 machine. But instead of telling you in the installer, it actually fails and says that ‘wsussetup.exe is not a valid win32 application’. Goggling around actually has most people saying to just re-download it, but save yourself the hassle if you are trying to re-purpose a machine, and just use WSUS 2.0.

Listening To: ‘Going Once’ by Ani DiFranco

Firmware update really helped my Motorola Q this time!

For almost a year now, I have been toting around a Motorola Q from Sprint. I got a great deal on it (was only $99), and only pay $30 a month for 500 minutes, unlimited text messages, and unlimited data connections. Ive been really happy, except for some of the crap I have had to go through with Sprint customer service on Deb’s phone.

Ever since September/October though, my phone has been acting up a whole lot on me. Some of the issues were

  • Not charging when phone was actually on the charger, or charging and then not updating Windows on the charge, until I power cycled the device.
  • Not accepting a connection to a PC. It would act like its charging, but would never actually connect.
  • ‘Beeps’ made when plugging the device in were a lot quieter than usual – about 25% normal volume.
  • Phone not picking up the call when I hit ‘Answer’, or dropping calls after only 1 ring.
  • TERRIBLE battery life.
  • Entire phone would be sluggish going to any menus, new apps, etc.
  • And much, much more, making me want to throw the darn thing away.

Well, I figured a firmware update would be worthwhile, and hopefully if anything reset the phone to some sort of default settings again.

The firmware upgrade went very smoothly, the first one where it has not failed for me (its actually VERY common for it to fail looking at forums online).  Once the device finally restarted, it was MUCH faster, and didn’t have any lag. Also, all the issues with plugging the device in worked flawlessly. I have not been able to tell anything else that changed though, other than them trying to push Microsoft Live in Pocket IE.

If you have been having problems with your Q, I really recommend running this update.  You have to have a PC (I actually still plug my Q into my old PC to sync, since there is nothing I really like available for the Mac yet).

I still want to write a program for this device, I just don’t know what yet.  Anyone have any ideas?

Listening To: ‘Space Dog’ by Tori Amos

Simple and cheap data recovery!

My middle step-brother, Mike, recently returned home from Iraq and is now on a month of leave before going back to his base, with the possibility of yet another deployment. Luckily he had an internet connection out there, and I was able to keep in touch with him here and there on Facebook, MySpace, and even AIM.

One day while out there he asked me if I could check out his laptop, because it was having problems booting. About two weeks later, I had his laptop and everything else back, directly from Iraq! I started the machine up, and sure enough it wouldn’t let anyone log in. After trying a few different things, I still could never get the machine to finish booting. Eventually I tried ‘chkdsk’, which failed at 50% checking the disk.

I assumed a failing hard drive, which proved to be the problem when starting to recover some of the data. But how should I go about getting this data back off? I don’t have any programs to help me with this or to help repair the drive. He has 30+ gigs of valuable documents, pictures, videos, and music.

In my previous work, I was a sysadmin, so some valuable knowledge sat in, and I got to work. I downloaded the newest version of Ubuntu. This should have NTFS read/write built into the LiveCD. Next, reformatted my iPod to Windows, and hooked everything up.

I booted the laptop the fist time hooked up to network, but for some reason, none of the LiveCD’s (Ubuntu and some others) would not recognize his network interface. So I rebooted, this time plugging in the iPod, and it mounted on the first try!

After many HOURS of copying data off, having to hit ‘skip’ to the ‘I/O failure’ prompts, I was able to recover 99% of all of his data, and now on the road to recovery with a brand new Hard Drive! I would recommend this method to anyone to save a few bucks and some time on what can usually be a very difficult process.

Listening To: ‘Secret Machines’ – Lightning Blue Eyes