Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Uverse hell

Day one - Thursday

I got my uverse installed, install went okay, took about 5 hours to get it running. Once the tech left I switched from my Clear Wimax connection to the uverse. Looked good, then I got on the PTPP connection at work, and it started dropping me every 5-9 minutes. I called them and worked with support for 2 hours and tried lots of settings on the router. These included lowering the MTU and upping the timeout. Nothing fixed it at all, they were keeping my case open in case I wanted to call back. Then I was playing with it later on and lowered the timeout and it seemed to fix the issue. The router has a very small connection table which is a known issue, I think with the 1 day timeout there were lots of open connections which weren't being cleaned up.

Day two - Saturday

Turned on the TV to start setting up some of the DVR recordings, and the DVR wasn't working. I called ATT and the box was dead, we tried to do a factory reset and OS reload several times and the box was toast. They promptly sent out a tech a few hours later. He tried with 4 different boxes and was unable to get it working. He was there for about 3 hours, and he was out of ideas. It was 8:30PM on Saturday. He also reset my router since the TV connects to the router and uses the line that is shared.

Day Three – Sunday

I reset up the router with the same settings I had before, but I started once again to get PTPP issues and drops. I messed with it for a while and gave up again.

Day Four – Monday

I turned on the DVR, and what do you know, it started working perfectly, makes no sense to me. I called support once again on my VPN issues, I gave them my case number and they told me they don't work on VPN issues and regardless of my case and the tech I worked with I should go away. I spoke to the shift supervisor and she told me the same thing, but was nicer about it. I told them I would disconnect service if I wasn't able to use a simple VPN. They were happy to lose me as a customer, and transferred me to the disconnection line. When I got someone there, I asked them if I could have TV only, and they said I need to have internet as well. I told them I would work on it some more, and let them know if I wanted to disconnect.

We happen to have firewalls which give us SSL VPN as a free option, so one of my co-workers set it up, and it worked perfectly. No drops, and no issues. At least I have a fix for now, so I can work at home if needed.

I called customer service and got a credit for my outage time and a discounted rate for the next 6 months. All in all I've wasted about 20 hours on this mess, but glad its working now. The customer support has been good, aside from the lady who refused to help me.

Service impressions

The base 6down/512up is decent, but no better than the clear wimax service. The TV seems very good, and the DVR is better than others I have seen, but I still miss my Tivo HD XL. Nothing beats Tivo!

I wish I had my FIOS like I had back in Boston L

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Move - clear wimax - uverse

I haven't been posting becuase I just moved, and I'm also getting married in the next few weeks, but enough of the personal stuff. Lets get into some good tech talk :)

I have a verzion wireless card in my laptop which comes in handy when I don't have other ways to access the internet. Its a good connection, and usable for working as needed. The main issue is there is some lag/latency in the connection.

We have a clear Wimax device at work which is our backup internet connection if we lose the fiber link. I decided to borrow this connection during my move to deal with my lack of internet. All I have to say is that the connection quality and speed is amazing. The lag is almost non-existant, and the throughput is superb. I can even download a lot on it without an issue.

In my new location I can get ATT uverse, which is similar to the Verizon FIOS connection I had back in Boston. I loved FIOS, and was very sad when I had to move down to Atlanta and get on Comcast. I had a stuggle getting the FIOS installed, but eventually it worked and was rock solid for the duration of my service. It was also about $35 per month less than comcast.

Uverse costs as much as comcast, which is fine if the quality is there. I've had a small struggle so far getting uverse installed, but tomorrow is the big day when my place will be fully provisioned hopefully. I will post more on the quality of the connection and the TV capability compared to Comcast, Verizon (FIOS/Wireless), and Clear.

Another major difference is that on FIOS they ran standard cable from the Fiber demarcation point to the TV, so I used my Tivo HD XL box with cablecards, which was perfect! On Uverse they use a full IPTV device, which means my TIVO isn't going to work, but the picture quality and features should be better. The Uverse box also supports recording 4 channels at once, versus my TIvo's capability to record 2 channels at once. http://www.att.com/Common/totalhomedvr/

We'll see if it works well, more on that this weekend.

So I should be posting more, telling you all how it is to deal with vendors and technology we use in every day work and home life.

Leave comments, I like a good dialog!

Vmware ESXi upgrades from 3.0 to 4.0

I've been trying to move hosts over to 4.0 from 3.0, but i've run into countless issues on each migration. I'm trying to get a good method do this consistently, but its just not really possible from what I've been seeing.

When I do speak to support, they keep confusing esxi with esx, and ask me to do things that cannot be done on esxi. I've also been studying on if I should run esx or esxi. For the way we deploy and the lightweight nature of esxi it makes more sense, and I believe its the proper model. They still need to develop a proper CLI/SDK or some way to get into the boxes better in a controlled manner without using the "unsupported" login method that support always asks you to do. That method requires console access which we don't have on lots of our hosts.

So far we have 2 hosts upgraded, and quite a few to do somehow or other. I'll keep plugging away.

Vmware support is very good, and responsive, good company to deal with, and great technology. They just haven't figured out the upgrades.

Microsoft print spooler i hate you

I've been debugging crashes on the print spooler on a Windows 2008 x64 domain controller which is a print server. With all of the advances Microsoft has put into Vista and Windows 7 on the client side to help debug and diagnose issues such as the automated collection technology inside Performance and Reliability monitor you'd figure that they could figure out a way to isolate a fault down to a vendor driver. Thats not the case, I've had to jump through hoops for about 8 weeks to figure out what the causes of the crashes are. I think its partially related to running x64, and x64 drivers, but having mostly x86 clients printing. Its kind of a mess, but its been improving with patches and the countless dumps and other files I've been sending them.

Issues with Tridion

Updated on 7/24:

We use the tridion CMS, which is a high end CMS product, we have had a lot of trouble with the product in the past. (www.tridion.com) The content manager is a strange beast which uses a combination of vb, .net, and other technologies. Its always breaking, and is not reliable. We need to debug messed up stuff on it on a regular basis. We have the systems under change control, but it still seems to manage to break easily. The good news is that it spits out generated jsp pages, which seem very reliable running on Resin application servers.

The support is always excellent and responsive, which helps us deal with code issues that we have with development. In the last case they actually went out of their way to get our content database and replicate the issue pointing to our code. This is something that few vendors would do for a small customer as we are. It still doesn't make up for the strange design of the system. I am not sure if this is related to our implementation or a problem with the product itself.

Here is a snippet from my emails with support:

It is not supported to run other versions of .Net on the Content Management server - only the version listed in section 2.2.d of the "SDL Tridion R5 Product Prerequisites 5.3.pdf" (Microsoft .NET Framework version 2.0) document are supported. Please uninstall all versions of .Net Framework, reboot, and install the supported version.

Last time I checked Microsoft made .NET fully backwards compatible, and even keeps the frameworks in different folders:

For example on my machine:

Directory of C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework

04/22/2009 02:17 AM v1.0.3705
04/22/2009 02:17 AM v1.1.4322
06/29/2009 03:14 PM v2.0.50727
04/22/2009 05:01 AM v3.0
05/18/2009 02:58 PM v3.5
06/29/2009 11:08 AM VJSharp

Since my last post was a bit too harsh, and I didn't credit where I meant to credit I now have to meet with the Tridion folks on Monday... what did I get myself and my poor colleagues into. Oops...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sorry for lack of updates, lots of stuff

Have been in Geneva for the last 3 weeks now. Been busy over here getting things in order and making sure we are ready for a major product launch over here. I am also working on some staffing and support issues for here in Europe.

Our CEO was just on CNBC, and he did an awesome job, yay Mitch!

Upgraded our Vcenter servers up to Vsphere 4. The upgrade of the servers themselves went well, but I tried to do a hypervisor upgrade, which failed. I have a case open with Vmware on the upgrade. I'm also have some strange connectivity issue on one of my physical systems. The new product is very cool, the new alarming system is a much needed improvement. Overall very happy with it so far. I am looking forward to testing the performance with the new hypervisor.

Some cool stuff my team has done. Integrated all of our linux boxes with winbind to AD. Its much easier to admin them and control access now, very good stuff. We can give developers granular access to QA and Dev systems now.

We are also building a syslog infrastructure which is similar to the one I built in my previous company. Essentially its a syslog-ng frontend to splunk, where we can forward and log streams as needed. The cool thing is that my sharp engineers at work are figuring it out on their own and learning new stuff in the process. This is the kind of thing that makes doing infrastructure and systems cool.

Working with Microsoft on a spooler issue thats been annoying, printers are so fussy.

We closed a deal with HP to get a bunch of new software. My team will be working on implementing some new technologies to add onto our existing HP investments. We currently use HP Performance Center, HP Quality Center, and HP Quicktest Pro. We added more users into Performance Center. We also puchased HP Real User Monitor (RUM, which requires BAC... I thought I got away from BAC at my last gig). We also will be implementing HP Diagnostics for Java, which should be a very useful tool for us leading up to our new product release.

That should do it for now :)