Sunday, September 14, 2008

Smart Boards, Shan's birthday, getting hacked, IKE, and who knows what else!


Howdy folks! It's been a few days since I last updated, and appreciate you coming around to see just what the heck I've been up to! Grab a seat, pop some popcorn, dump in the Milk Duds, and let's get going!


Thursday, September 11, started off like most days at work. Well, no, not really. The original plan was for the Early Childhood Coordinator and me to visit 4 of 6 sites to help the guys from Video Reality install new Smart Boards in the early childhood classrooms. We had a plan, see? Yeah, a real good one, too, see? Yeah, we would kill two birds with one stone, see? While the installers were working, Karen and I would set up new(er) computers for the kiddos to use. We would do about half the classrooms on Thursday and the rest on Friday. We were foiled, see? Framed, set up, bamboozled, derailed, see?


What actually happened was that Video Reality sent TWO installers in TWO trucks, so they could divide and conquer. That was great for them, but we only have ONE Co-op van to take the computers in... So, that all fell apart. Karen went with one guy (Rob) and I went with Shane. Each install takes about 45-60 minutes. The first place Shane and I went was not too bad... Oh, except the schools had no idea we were coming and the teachers had not been told how big the boards are (about 54 inches diagonal) or that we would come in and take over one of their walls. It was not a happy time for some of the teachers. The first install went okay, though we had to do some minor ... umm.. well, destruction is a strong word, but let's say... renovation.. to the room.

The next install went fine, though the teacher was not happy that she had just finished decorating the very wall we were going to have to install the Smart Board on. ouch! The glitch came next. See, while we were at the second site, the installer had a separate work order to hang a projector from the ceiling in a business lab. Normally, this takes about 30 minutes. While he was doing that, I was told that the school's network had gone haywire and that most of the folks could not get online, and those that could were receiving "IP conflict" errors. In English, it's like two people having the same phone number and the phones are ringing everywhere, but no one can answer because the phone system has no idea which phone is REALLY calling. On a data network, this type conflict is a HUGE headache. My job was to hunt down the problem.

I started in the server room, since that is where all the main connections come from. I had no problems in there. I worked my way out to various other places on campus - in closets, hallways, classrooms, trying to figure out where the problem was. After about an hour of troubleshooting, I had narrowed the problem down to the business lab - yes, where I had started out in the first place. At first, it seemed to be an errant printer. Sometimes, printers go 'wiggy' (technical term) and start broadcasting to the world. It's a lot like the printer yelling out, "Hey! I'm a printer! Anyone want to print something?? Hello!! Can you all hear me??" It generates a LOT of 'broadcast' traffic and bring a network to its knees.

I unplugged the hub where the printer was located and everything started working. Meanwhile, the installer is battling blown insulation from the 60's which he is convinced is asbestos (I wouldn't know, never saw the stuff). It is falling from the ceiling tiles into piles that look like (forgive me here) an exploded, very dirty poodle... While he is doing that, I' start looking at the printer and the hub, and the classroom teacher and I start tracing wires. We find one grey wire in particular that is plugged into the hub, and we trace it down, along the floor, up a partition, back toward the printer, and back...into.. the SAME hub! A network loop!

Have you ever heard really bad feedback at a concert or something, where the noise gets louder and louDER and loUDER and LOUDER!? Well, when you plug a network wire back into the network, you get the same effect. Only with data, it keeps going until it fills every possible bit of space. I unplugged the wire, plugged the hub back into the network, and life was good again. Evidently, someone had sen the 'loose, unplugged' end sitting there and decided it should be plugged in! Ooops!

So, my work is done. The installer, however, takes another 30 minutes or so to get through the mess he's battling to finish up his job. A 30-minute job takes nearly two hours. My Dad would be so proud!

The last install went without a hitch, and the teacher had actually already cleaned off the wall to get ready!


Friday, September 12 - Shan's birthday! At work, Karen and I got in the co-op van and headed out to the six sites we needed to hit in order to install the new(er) computers for the kiddos. We unload five computers and monitors at the first stop and start setting things up. One small problem. No power cords. Where are the power cords? Well, it seems that Karen had taken the van to one site on Thursday and dropped off the computers. She also accidentally dropped off the bag of power cords. So, I tell her that we will continue the installs and I will just come back on Monday to finish things up. It turns out Karen left the bag at Prescott, so the teacher just gave the bag to Shan... Happy Birthday, huh? The rest of the day was spent driving all over south Arkansas to drop off the computers...

I had ordered flowers and had them sent to Shan's school, and they are pretty! Prescott Flowers always does a nice job for me!

I had to run to Wal-Mart to grab a couple of 'last second' things for Shan's B-Day. Remember, this was Friday. The countdown to IKE's arrival had begun. People were going bananas. Gas was jumping while people were pumping it. I sat at a traffic light while I watched gas jump from $3.49 to $3.59 to $3.79... Crazy! And that wasn't even the worst of it. Stations were running out. The price was jumping to $5.00+ in some parts of the southern areas of the state. Stupid. The Attorney General got on the air and said price gouge checkers were en route around the state and stations would be fined heavily for gouging. No more warnings. If you were caught, you were busted.

Well, after I did my shopping, I headed down the interstate. I've been in bad storms before. But never have I been in one where the car in front of me literally disappeared. Tail lights...nothing...until the put their brakes on again. We all turned on flashers. Trucks were doing 45MPH, people were hydroplaning. It was nasty. After a very long trip, I was finally home.



Shan's Birthday - We had supper at Shan's Mom's house! It was VERY good and Shan opened her presents! She got nice clothes, TWO Mickey Mouse watches (they were different ones, but my mother and I will have to work on our communication.. LOL!), lotion, and more! The kids got her a heart-shaped locket that I had put their pictures in! Very nice! We hung out there for quite a while, talking and visiting, waiting for IKE to hit us.



IKE - The winds were blowing everything around, all over the place. It was getting dark, so it was hard to see, but you could hear it everywhere. The rain was blowing horizontally at times. The power kept going off and coming on. We finally lit candles at one point.



At some point, I had opened the door to look outside and hanging on to our glass storm door was a little frog. He was breathing VERY rapidly!


I remoted in to work and shut down all but one server. The one I couldn't shut down was the one I used to connect remotely. I am going to figure out how to shut that down remotely, There is a setting that is not enabled or something. I am also going to figure out how I can start those bad boys UP remotely, too. There is no reason why I shouldn't be able to have them come on again without having to drive to work to do it... I did not drive to work today. I can turn them on Monday, thank you.

We went to bed, and woke up to a mess. Limbs, leaves, debris all over the place. But we were all fine. Our prayers go out to those in Houston and the other areas that IKE ripped to shreds...


Getting hacked - At some point last weekend, I had set up our HP Media Vault for web-based photo sharing and file-sharing. At some point during the week, someone had hacked the server and locked me out. Or so they thought. I did a quick search online and reset the server to factory settings (which means it erased whatever hacks the people put in there) and I got things back in order. I also turned off the web sharing stuff for now. I'll play with that later.... The joys of technology...



My scratch-card tournament has made it down to the final two players in a championship match! It's been a lot of fun!!


Getting flashed - Oh, how could I forget to tell you about this?? Shan's brother and I were working on Shan's Dad's outdoor field camera. It's supposed to take pictures at your deer camp or whatever. Shan's Dad is using it to try and see if he still has wild hogs eating his deer corn. Okay, let me stop there a second to tell you that these wild hogs are not the guys from the movie. BUT, these things could serve as body doubles for several of them! These are HUGE! I'd say the biggest ones are roughly the size of a Yugo. Seriously. I have never seen a "pig" this big in my life! If it ran into your car, it would do serious damage. Even the 'babies' are the size of small-to-medium dogs. It's freaky, actually. But, I understand where the UofA gets it's mascot... Okay, so Casey and I are troubleshooting this outdoor camera. The big problem is that it does not flash in the dark. So, we take it out into the yard where it is now nice and dark. We push a few buttons, wait a minute or so, and nothing happens. We walk over to the camera, and BOOM!

have you ever been in bed, just sleeping away when suddenly someone turns on the light!? Yeah, you know how blinding that light is? Yeah, now magnify that about threefold. Ho-ly crap! I can't see a thing! Casey is laughing his butt off. He gets the unit, and once I regain sight, we try to figure out what triggered it. We set it up again. We wait. Nothing. I walk by. POW! Flashed again. Now, you would think after the third or fourth time, I would...oh, I don't know... QUIT LOOKING at the stupid thing! But, NOOOOO, every time, I am like the deer in the headlights...the moth to the flame... I just...can't...resist...POW!

After about an hour of this foolishness, we finally figure out that we've been telling Shan's Dad the wrong steps! We show him how to do it, and now it is in the field ready for action.... Or so I hope... I would just as soon ram my head against a wall as to be blinded by THAT thing again!


Two front teeth - Emily lost BOTH FRONT TEETH in the span of a week! Ain't she a cutie!?

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