Archive for Mike

Lantronix Offering Solid Tutorials for Beginners

If you are new to the industry, terminology is key to your success. It helps you convey your problems to vendors and co-workers accurately and can increase your response time dramatically. Lantronix is currently offering some basic network tutorials that I highly recommend to anyone without a formal education in the IT industry:

http://www.lantronix.com/learning/networking.html

Do The Freak

I’d like to recommend an open source project for anyone interested in web-based project management. It’s called TaskFreak. What it can do for you is help you keep track of everything you’ve completed, need to do, and want to do. The developers have a great respect for the organizational style called GTD (Getting Things Done). All you need to do is input all your daily tasks, prioritize them, and then add notes as you work on them.

I currently use it at work, at home, and even for planning this website. One of the best features is the ability to generate very concise and well-formatted reports.

There are three versions available: Single User MySQL, Multi User MySQL, and Single User SQLite

I’ve been working feverishly on personal organization lately and TaskFreak! has been a powerhouse to reduce my stress levels.

Anyone can download it at: http://www.taskfreak.com/

Don’t Drink Your Vendor’s Instant Liquid Beverage

I had a specific beverage name in mind for the title of this entry, but I don’t think it’s fair to associate it with what I’m about to talk about.

Recently, a software vendor has told me that it is impossible to export records from their database (written in MS SQL, btw) and transfer them to another database elsewhere. It is completely obvious that they don’t want to do it for fear of messing something up. It is also obvious that they don’t have DBA’s anymore.
There has been one other thing about this vendor that has driven me nuts for a really long time. When I went to a training session in their office a couple years ago, they tried really hard to make me see things their way: Just lay down, don’t get involved in what our product should be able to do and we’ll feed your users a bunch of garbage about us being more than a vendor. Think of us more as a partner. I was invited to join user groups (for a fee) to help “ensure the features you want to see are included in the next version”.

I didn’t join. I just want their crappy software to work right out of the box. Maybe I’m old school, but that’s what I expect with all my vendors. If someone gives me poor service, I write them out of my plans, I don’t try to negotiate for better service. Some of these vendors have forgotten who the customer is.
Just a tip for all the other admins out there, the second you drink the Instant Liquid Beverage of a company like that, their hooks are in. The next feature you want will be another lump sum payment. Want more users? Here’s the upfront cost and here is the cost for annual support.

Here’s what I would like to see happen: Hear me out before you completely dismiss this idea. Microsoft needs to regulate vendors that sell bolt-ons (aka front ends) to their products.

When I worked in the wireless industry, this was common practice. It still is today. The carriers chose which vendors work with their cellular service and instill a certain level of quality into the customer experience by filtering out things that work and things that run like trash.

I want to be abundantly clear: this does not give Microsoft a monopoly nor would it be monopolistic for Microsoft to take complaints from third-party clients. In my case, if I don’t like the decisions Microsoft made, I could find a front end for MySQL, DB2, or even Oracle.

What a little more difficulty from Microsoft would do is make these little development places that are too lazy to write their own backend from messing up businesses by writing things that they can’t even figure out a couple years later.

I highly recommend that anyone who makes technology decisions make sure they are not seeing too much value in a specific vendor. At all costs, don’t drink if they offer it!

Feeling Feisty?

Okay, I promise that is the last time I use that pun. On a more serious note, I have successfully performed a dist-upgrade from Edgy to Feisty Beta. Three problems occurred in the process, but I was able to correct them. At least two of these were my own fault and involved proprietary packages I had installed: Nvidia and VMWare. The upgrade utility constantly complained that VMWare and slapd failed to configure properly, so I removed the packages. After removing them, my only issue was having to run my usual:

dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

Once I did this and switched back to the nv driver, gdm was happy again.

I cautiously issued the shutdown now -r command and it looks like a normal install of Feisty. Restricted manager poppped up as soon as I was at the desktop, and I am back in business.

Thunderbird Extension for vCard Files

I found a really handy extension for T-Bird today. This add-on gives you the ability to import and export V-Cards from Thunderbird. It’s called MoreColsForAddressBook. What you get after installation are three more items under the tools menu:

Action for Contacts
Action for List
Action for Address Book

The Action for Contacts menu is the one that gave me the functionality I desperately needed. I am now able to import VCFs from people that send them.

I haven’t experimented with the list and address book menus, but will when the functionality is needed.

MoreColsForAddressBook is available at https://nic-nac-project.de/~kaosmos/morecols-en.html.