Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yet another cold

I normally never get colds but latetly I'm getting every single cold that hits me it seems. I'm on my 3rd... or is it 4th? since September. I lost count.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My cat is a hacker

I have no clue WTF she did, but I turned around, she was on the laptop keyboard, and a command line window was up during the windows setup! I typed ipconfig out of curiosity to see if the system actually has an IP during setup, and apparently it does. I can't ping it though, so I'm guessing the TCP protocol is not running at this point.

I'm stumped, Must be some kind of secret key combination that can bring that up for windows developers to debug or something.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crappy night

So yesterday I'm working on that computer again, and find out that the media card reader took proceedance over drive C! So windows ended up being drive H! WTF? Reinstall.... but first I unplugged that thing for good. Meanwhile, I was doing laundry and the first load was done and I went downstairs to do the next load, and find this:

Yeah, sewer backup. That stinks. I blame those super cheap face clothes that produce a ridiculous amount of lint which ended up blocking the main sewer line.

After a couple hours I managed to unblock it and also sprayed benefect to kill the smell. My next goal I think is to bring my servers at least a couple feet above the ground to avoid damage if ever something like this happens and I am not around.

Oh and back to that computer. I finally managed to get it working today and the user is happy, and it's out of here! Now I can resume my normal life.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The computer from HELL

I often get people wanting me to fix their computers. For a while I was refusing as I find it just takes up too much time for nothing and is not worth it. I decided that since I need the money and now have a better setup in my own house, that I'd start again.

So a week ago I get this computer with Vista on it (ewww) and it's just acting strange and their net cuts off all the time etc.. so I decide to plug it in my external network and boot it up. After puking in my mouth a little while vista loads, I decide to try the internet. No go. In fact, I was not even getting an IP from the DHCP server. Since my cable installation is rather new I figured perhaps it's a cabling issue, so I start troubleshooting to make sure it's not my network. After about an hour of messing on the patch panel and routers I find out it's not since my main machine can talk fine to both routers. I also could not even see that PC's DHCP packets at all.

So I decide to try in an Ubuntu live CD for kicks. I get an IP no problem and can browse the net. After a few more hours have gone by I don't know what to do but figured what the hell, vista is on there, it has to be formatted anyway. So I image the drive (still unable to get an IP) to an external hard drive. For whatever reason this took like a while day.

I then mount the image on my PC to make sure I see all the files. WTF, can't even read "documents and settings". Bah, stupid vista and weird NTFS permissions. I try to take ownership of everything, but no go. Turns out Vista encrypts that folder on the fly. So if you have Vista and you can't boot your PC, say goodbye to your files!

So I decide to boot with Linux and do a full disk copy (at this point I did not figure the files were encrypted, thought it was just an NTFS thing). This took another day to do.

I did the mistake of starting the XP install before verifying the file copy. Then I realize, crap, still can't see "documents and settings". So I restore the image so I can just do the copy from the OS (this took a whole day to restore).

Guess what? Image wont boot!!! CRAP! After about an hour or so of troubleshooting turns out it was something silly. The bootable flag was not set and it was trying to boot off the HP recovery partition.

Finally I get it to boot - I have to admit I was actually kinda happy to see vista, ok, maybe not. Then I try to do the copy from within vista. (Eww). Each minute of using this OS makes me puke a little inside. So finally I got the files, and I'm ready to format.

I then load up my trusty Windows XP pro CD and start the install. I decide to leave the HP recovery partition just in case. So I install XP, load it up, start installing basics like Firefox, flash plugin, and restore the files and all that stuff. So far it's getting better. Then I start having network issues again! I figure it might be the nic, though it's weird that if I set a static IP it goes online right away, how can a layer 1 issue only be restricted to a certain protocol? But w/e, I try a USB nic anyway, it goes flawlessly. Then I say screw it and go buy another Nic for 50 bucks. Ironicly when I put it that nic then the old one works again. wtf? W/E it's not my PC, I just can't wait to get it done. Now everything is back up and running.

Then, I figure I may as well make an Acronis image of this and put it on the recovery partition. There's not enough space on it so I resize it with gparted. This is where things go to crap again.

Windows now would not boot. Somehow in this process Windows ended up INSIDE the extended partition. WTF? Why is there even an extended partition, there's only 2 partitions. No need for an extended partition. I then try to take an image anyway (thankfully must faster now that it's a XP install) and then wipe the whole partition table. I zero out a huge section of the drive (maybe I should have done the whole thing, but takes too long...) and then restore the XP image. STILL wont boot. I get the dreaded "NTLDR Missing" error this time.

So now I decide "Screw it" and reinstall Windows again from scratch, and that I will use a DBAN to totally wipe the drive first. So I load up DBAN and it "finishes" in like 1 second. Yeah, ok, impossible. There's some "non fatal error" about bad sectors.

So here I am running a full disk diagnostic utility... 1 week minus 1 hour later...

This 60 bucks is not worth the trouble I am going through!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weird bug I found in my basement

Mmmm, looks crunchy.

Appears to be an earwig. Would not want that thing in my ear... :o

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Not our first, but this one may possibly be permanent. Got about an inch maybe a bit more. A sure sign Christmas is around the corner!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I can has cheeseburger?

Yes you can, I can't eat all of this alone!

So me and a coworker decided it would be fun to order 16 cheeseburgers to see how many we can eat. 16 was a bit over the top but none went to waste, lets just say we had help!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Servers deployed!

I have deployed all my servers and they are now operational in my new house.

There are still a few things to test such as VPN connectivity but it should be ok.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Servers moved to new house!

Today I setup my parent's to be able to work "off the grid" as in, without needing the server. I have started to format them a new raid 1 NAS for pictures/backups, and installed a new router. Then I brought home all the rest of my equipment such as my two remaining servers - my main server, Borg, and my external dev server, extsrv (yeah very original name :P)

Cat sleeping while I work away on finalizing jacks etc. She is not liking the fact that I'm trying to save on heating costs!

Powered up borg on my PC support desk to ensure it is still operational (wont be able to see once I move it downstairs - no monitor keyboard or mouse!)

extsrv, my other server. Need to test that one as well.

UPS and networking equipment setup. I put a vapor barrier so I don't get too much moisture on the equipment.

Monday, October 5, 2009

More progress on the infrastructure

Today I started to pull some cat6 cable - 6 in total, 1 for a phone jack and the rest will be ethernet. All 6 will be terminated to a patch panel.

More pics here

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Basement almost ready to house infrastructure

Been removing all the moldy drywall, insulation and even the studs. I was originally going to keep the studs until I found out they used 2x2s instead of 2x4s!

I still need to vacuum and clean the floor as the dirt from the drywall and other work has embedded itself right in the cement. Once this is done I can then setup my servers down there along with the patch panel.

This is what the basement was like before. (there's other pictures in that gallery as well)

Here are some pictures of the work I've been doing in past 2 weeks or so:

This is when I initially started. At first I was doing it with an utility knife and just trying to knock pieces out with a hammer. Was not going that well as I was producing lot of small pieces and tons of dust which is harder to clean up.

Removed more drywall and removed the non load bearing pier that was against the brick. Was just there to make the corner uniform.

Then, I got the idea of cutting a jig saw blade so it's just the right size to cut through the drywall. I cut it so only the back paper would remain, so it was fairly easy to rip bigger pieces out. It was still hard because of the nails, but at least it was not screws! Normally screws are used so modern drywall would be much harder to remove I think.

The ceiling was the easiest as gravity did most of the work, and the force was concentrated evenly so less breaking of drywall.

Just started, and the pile was getting pretty big already.

Feels good to see that old wallpaper gone, even if it's the whole drywall with it! Probably going to leave it like this as this will be where most of the cable distribution will happen. The patch panel will also be installed there.

Added the main phone jack feed and the future cable TV feed. That plug currently goes nowhere.

Yay, my cabling came in! That was a week ago, and I still did not get around to installing any of it. :p

Continuing with the drywall... started to get some progress with my new method. Still not THAT easy, but at least I get fairly sized pieces that are easier to haul out. The insulation, vapor barrier and yes, even tar paper, adds more to the pile though.

Patch panel arrived! Should be able to install that soon.

With much more drywall removed the pile was getting pretty big!

This was last night, the walls are now down! Lots to haul out today, which is done thankfully...

A sign of relief as the wall looks in decent condition. There's only a few minor mortar cracks and holes from the nails (yes, they nailed the studs on the bricks!)

Just need to clean the floor and small debris now then it will be ready to paint, which will happen when I have more money.

More pictures can be found here, and more are always being added.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Finally got internet working in my new house! I "stole" (is mine) the wireless router from parents' house and set it up downstairs where the patch panel will be. Still waiting on my order of cat6.

At least I can catch up on my forums and stuff though! Still some work left on the basement destruction before it's dust free enough to bring servers in.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Moved in!

As of September 12 2009 I have moved into my new house. It has been a long 2-3 months as I work on getting the house ready with the help of family. The wait was well worth it, and it's awesome to officially being living on my own.

I unfortunatly have not received my shipment of cat6 cabling so I do not have internet at home nor access to my local servers so I can do regular day to day work. In fact, I am posting this using an unsecured wifi connection. When will people learn?

Plenty of pics of the before, durring, and soon, after can be found here:

I will see if this unsecured connection does ftps well so I can upload new pics, but I don't think it will so the most up to date pics may have to wait.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

iceteks network downtime

I was gone for a 1 week vacation and it looks like the host that host's most of iceteks network sites moved the server and the DNS had to be changed as I control it, but I was not around. The host gave me plenty of warnings but I was gone. Now I am back and switched the DNS but there appears to be another issue with the host. I am looking into possible ways to try to get the sites back up and running but right now it's mostly a waiting game.

Sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.

Moral of the story: should not leave for a whole week at a time without any computer access. I knew something bad was going to happen too, it's always like that.

EDIT: 10:36pm ET:

I have found the issue that was causing the sites not to work. Turns out that I had to replace all occurrences of application/x-httpd-php with application/x-httpd-php5 to stop the files from trying to download, causing passwords and other sensitive information to be visible, which forced me to put a "deny from all" until I found fix the issue.

To be on the safe side the passwords for mysql and other sensitive info has be changed, and once everything looks to be 100%, the information will be changed again.

Everything should be ok as of now but please report any issues to me.

Here are some pictures of the trip.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Raid 0 + medical data + disk failure = EPIC FAIL

I work as a contractor for the hospital, and some server we don't have control over or support failed. I was asked to go take a look at it despite the fact that it's an unknown and unsupported environment (family doctor office not part of actual Hospital infrastructure).

So I check it out, and it's an old dell power edge with internal IDE drives that are hooked to a raid card. This is basically just a normal desktop computer with a fancy case and a raid card. When it boots up it just beeps loudly, and I isolated the beep to be the raid card and not the motherboard, then managed to get it to POST so I checked the raid settings and sure enough a disk failed. So at first I figured no biggie, there must be an option to push the disk out of the raid 1 array and run it as a degraded array until a new drive is added to rebuild. Then I realize, it's not a raid 1, it's a raid 0!!! WTF?!?! Who the hell makes a raid 0 on a server containing medical records?

I go see the doctor about it and he says he has backups, now the IT manager drags me further into this and wants me to try to rebuild his environment from the backups.

Now imagine this: You're a contractor, someone brings you to their house that had a fire and tells you to build it the way it was. That's exactly what this IT manager is asking from me. Backups or not, if the one who setup that environment is not around and can't support it, then tough luck, not much can be done. There is zero documentation or anything on this server and I'm not aware of how it was setup. i can only make speculations based on the rest of the environment such as the fact that DHCP stopped working and DNS is set to that server's IP, or at least, what I assume is that server's IP. Small things like that can give me small clues, but that's it.

It's been about a week now and I'm still trying to get it to work from the backups. The backups appear to be somewhat corrupted or incomplete (may of tried to backup files that were in use such as the DBs) so the restore ain't working well. The IT manager is on my back more and more as time progresses and is extremely agitated that I can't get it to work. What do you expect me to do, pull a 100% working backup out of my ass? Not only that but he expects me to rebuild the environment like it was with all this (unknown to me) programs. Give me a break. Seriously this guy is a nut case and is very degrading. He can GFH.

I took two half days off as I had mold in my house to remove, but part of the reason I took those half days off was to limit the time I'm stuck with him pestering and attacking me.

Is it illegal to release poisonous spiders in his office? My new house has plenty to spare.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

More house progress

Still in the demolition stage, but finally getting to a point where we can start painting soon.

The kitchen tiles are also in. This is why I want to learn to do this stuff myself, it costed me 600 in labour + about 400 in materials. I will make sure to NEVER drop something on that floor. :o



Did quite a lot of work and here is some of it:

Mold in the ceiling. $$$

Have to move the electrical boxes which may be a task as it seems most of the kitchen is fed from that box. Debating on installing pot lights instead of two fixtures, but think I'll stick to track lights just to simplify things. Now would be a good time to put pot lights though, given the ceiling is open, and I will need to remove and replace the insulation.

Did lot of work in the crawlspace such as started adding more light sockets, and removed all the bricks. I still need to conquer the dungeon though, that is a sub crawlspace which has tons of spider webs and is overall nasty.

Almost done cleaning crawlspace of spider webs (still need to go through again to broom it better)

The dungeon

Heater in the dungeon.

This heater needs to be there to keep the foundation from freezing up and collapsing. Back then they only dug 6 feet for foundations, now they dig 8 feet which is below ground freezing level.

Light box. 4 total have been added, to make a total of 6 100w lights in there!

One light installed, 3 more to go.

All 4 are now installed as of today, just one remains to wire and the two others are wired but the center light box has so many wires and wire nuts that it is unsafe to close. I will look at it further tomorrow to figure what will be the safest way to deal with this box. May need a junction box. It almost looks like the previous owners used this box as a junction box for a completely unrelated circuit.

Bricks gone!

Stacked the bricks in the garage.

Removed the old dryer few days ago.

So got to clean up there. Looks quite nasty, there was about 3 dead spiders on the ground from all the raid I sprayed previously.

I'm also very anal when it comes to labeling at work. There is so much stuff that is not labeled properly or undocumented. Well, I'm the same way here. Labeled a few things such as the wire that goes to the heater and added a note that it needs 240v and 30a. I need to verify that it really needs 30a as it probably only needs 15. Also labeled the breakers that are off, and why they are off (so I don't go and turn them on at a bad time!)

Lastly, we even started to remove the wall for the washroom enlarging. This was also done yesterday, and started the week before.

None of the work posted was done in posted order. We just kind of jump around and get things done.

Right now what's left to do is

-Fix the mold problem by removing old insulation and cleaning or replacing that part of the vapor barrier, then move the light sockets, then re put the drywall.

- Clean the dungeon area so it can be safely walked in without having spider webs near by (spider webs creep me out, it's a phobia of mine). I kept a 10 foot curtain rod for this reason.

- Finish crawlspace electrical and also figure out what some mystery wire is for. There is also another mystery wire in the kitchen where a plug used to be. It's just hanging there, hope it's not live. :o

And tons more, but the above is priority at this point.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

House renovation progress

Happy Canada day eh!

Been a bit over a week since I got my house. Did lot of demolishing to prepare for the renovations.

Removed all baseboards (still a few left here and there), all kitchen cabinets, all screws and most curtain fixtures, and cleaned a lot of the walls. Kitchen was nasty.

All pictures can be found here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Got the key to my house

Got the key on the 26th and immediately started renovations (right now it's more like, demolition :P).

Started off by removing old dirty curtains/rods, then stuff in the wall such as nails/screws for pictures. Then I started on the baseboards. These are not your ordinary baseboards where the nail is about 1 inch long. They went and used very thick baseboards that are nailed right into the studs! Very interesting to remove while trying not to damage the drywall.

Also started to remove wallpaper in the office today. Quite the job. :o

Here's random pics:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

House pictures

I took some inside and outside pics of my house to show how it looks like before I do any kind of work on it. There are lot of freaky stuff that needs addressed asap and it's starting to look like a money pit, but one thing at a time, and I got about 16k to play with after I put the down payment, so think I'll be good!

Lets start with outside pics:

Right side of house walk way and hedges.

Old concrete deck. This has got to go. I never used a jack hammer before, and this is probably where I will learn.

Cable TV troubleshooting 101, and introduction to cement repair.

Now for some inside pictures:


Kitchen table:


No, seriously, I've never seen a spider this HUGE in this town. I killed it.

It gets even more creepy, this is under the garage:

I have a phobia of spider webs, think I'll shine some lights in that whole crawlspace and take those down with a long long stick! Then paint.

There is much more pics here.