Archive for the ‘stuff that hurts’ Category

2012 had a 25% return rate

Friday, January 4th, 2013

I was just discussing with a colleague my return rate for last year. For whatever reason it was high. Crazy high.

I typically buy HP servers and switches and Lenovo desktops and laptops. Typical mid-range stuff for medium sized business. I’m looking at an easy 15-20% infant or near infant (within days) mortality rate.  Items just ship with bad drives or bad boards.  Stuff that’s easily QA’d.  That’s about 20% right there.  Then I have a good 5%  mortality rate within 6-8 months. If it survives 8 months its probably going to survive 3 years.  Just today I had to pull a little netgear 4 port switch because it was locking up. That thing lasted 7 months. Its not worth my time to do a RMA so I just used another one I had laying around.

Last week HP sent me a server with a bad RAID card. Any trivial testing would have determined this.

So what do I do now?

1. Everything has a burn in period, not just servers but laptops and desktops. Catching that near infant mortality rate is really important. So I run whatever equipment for a week 24/7 to catch this.  There’s nothing worse than spending hours on a config and then losing it because that item was on its last legs.  No, I don’t have a backup of the image of the computer I haven’t even finished.

2. All drives are suspect. I’ll run some extra diagnostics hoping to catch something, but frankly its almost impossible to tell if a disk is going to die tomorrow. Sometimes you luck out by seeing a lot of bad blocks suddenly or get some SMART data warnings, but usually you don’t.

3. I buy only Rev As. If that server or desktop model just came out, I’ll pass for a few months. By then there’s either a hardware rev A or a BIOS or some other critical update that didn’t ship when it was new.

4. I’ll ask around before I buy.  Other admins and even my CDW guy will tell me return rates, but returns via the vendor isn’t the same thing as warranty repairs and no one is sharing that information.

I have no idea what’s happening in the manufacturing world, but a 25% return rate is ridiculous. In my personal life, I’m closer to 40%, but that includes returning things I didn’t like for reasons that aren’t necessarily hardware faults, like an a wifi router for its poor range.  But its not all that. I think I’ve returned 1/3rd of the video cards I’ve bought because they’re DOA. I got two bad power supplies in a row recently while building myself a new rig. It ain’t pretty out there, no one seems to care, and the problem only seems to be getting worse.  Hopefully, 2013 will be better for QA and 2012 was an quality anomaly. HP you don’t really hate me, do you?


Rebooting Server 2008

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

I sometimes need to manually reboot win 2008 server.  Not a big deal but this damn prompt stops me every. single. time.

Hey Microsoft, didn’t you guys see me hit Restart a second ago? You’re making me hit cancel and go back to make sure I didn’t accidentally hit Shutdown instead of Restart. Really guys? Who signs off on this stuff? Oh right, you’re a software monopoly. You can do things like this without suffering consequences.

I’ll spare you guys my angry rant on the server 2008 backup utility. Microsoft knows it done bad.

10 Year Old Bug

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Really Microsoft, we’re still doing this?

I remember my start menu going blank back when I was working with Windows 2000. Come on guys, its almost 2012 and we’re still doing this?

This is also why I can’t take futuristic sci-fi seriously. I want to believe we’ll all be doing this soon, but I know we’ll have to deal with crap like 10 year old bugs too.


Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

This is why you shouldn’t buy Netgear switches. Ever. The guy I replaced fashioned himself something of a bargain hunter and I’ve been living with his mistakes for years. Half the reviews at Newegg are one star. So, the reviewers are people its failed for early on and those who are in store for a big surprise. Oh, not to mention 2 or 3 port failures per switch. Most of which happened in under a year.

This is what I saw last night when my network started going crazy at around 11pm.

That’s right, it has a negative 8 day uptime. This was right before its final boot.  Nothing like coming in at midnight to replace a failed switch, which somehow took out the network card in one of your file servers.  The only thing it could have done worse was catch on fire. Didn’t even last 3 years.  My backup switches are 8 year old 100mbps Cisco’s that are rock solid and will probably outlive me.

If you’re a newbie admin, do me a favor and SPEND THE MONEY. The future you and your replacement will thank you. Ain’t not bargains in IT, kids. You get what you pay for. Oh, if you ever buy a used server you might as well start thinking about switching careers right now.

The really sad part of this tale is that these things are about the same price (maybe $100 less) as  the 1810 series HP Procurve series, which tend to be rock-solid, except for the occasional firmware bug.

There, I fixed it.

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Really city of Chicago, this is how we’re fixing things now?  This is the new shining beacon of our city? How did we go from this and this to that?!

Man, those are the wires that carry my internet! You just can’t staple them back onto a different utility pole.  I know this whole Rube Goldberg-ish mess is going to go down in the middle of a Serious Business™ VPN session one day. Mark my words, Rahm!

Seriously, this is kinda pathetic. Its like we’re slowly entering a Fallout 3 type world. It happens in stages, people. This is stage 6 out of 100. Maybe step 8 or 9. At the very least, we’ll be hunting children and eating stray radioactive dogs in a post-apocalyptic hell that’ll make ‘The Road’ look like ‘Willy Wonka’ sooner than later.

HP Procrap 2510G

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Yay! New switch day. I picked up a few Procurve 2510G-48’s.  They’ve been sitting around for a while but I finally made time to install them.  I noticed they were on an older firmware so I upgraded them to  Y_11_16, the newest firmware available on HP’s site. Everything went fine, so I went back into the web manager and got this:

That’s right a live fucking crash bug posted on HP’s site. Gee, I can’t imagine why HP isn’t doing well financially. If you google 2501g and Y_11_16 you’ll see others with the exact same problem. Really HP? Really? A crash bug on an enterprise-level switch posted to your site with no update in over a year? Nice, guys. I kicked you out of my desktops/laptop arena and it looks like you’re asking to be kicked out of my server room as well.

Luckily, telnet still works. Yes, telnet. For some reason HP doesn’t enable SSH by default.  Its like the 1980’s in here!  So a short:

boot system flash secondary

and I’m back to running a firmware from 2009 that I will never attempt to upgrade. Thanks HP. If I was still in my return period, this junk would be going back. Bonus, note the dreaded blue LED on the left-hand side.

Outlook 2010 Ribbon

Monday, November 28th, 2011

After years of teaching my end users how to enable Out of Office and how to do archiving, Outlook 2010’s new ribbon moves everything yet again. Look, I don’t mind the transition to the ribbon, but why was Outlook excluded in 2007 and only recently “ribbonized?” Now we have to do basic ribbon training all over again. Thanks MS. Your inability to hit a deadline means more work for everyone else. Now all this stuff is helpfully put in the File > Info > Automatic Replies section. Err, progress?

Also, isn’t it a little hard to justify this icon nowaday? My email client shouldn’t be my dialer in the first place.

I miss you Steam

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Oh DICE, you’re like that old flame who keeps breaking my heart. I swear, I can’t figure out how to quit you! I see you guys released your big first patch to Battlefield 3. What a monumental day! So many fixed bugs! You guys must be pretty proud. I, of course, ran to my basement to fire up my frankenputer only to be assaulted with, five, yes FIVE GODDAMN WINDOWS AND POPUPS when I tried to update your software. I labeled them for you in case you thought I was kidding.

What the hell EA/DICE? How did we go from a BF2 era of just a binary that did everything to a Steam clone that’s still in Beta, a browser window, weird popups, promotional popups, terrible UI, and to top it off  – a  completely broken update process. I clicked on the ‘update game’ icon only to be thrown back into Origin which did nothing else but show me the BF3 icon.  Two Origin restarts later, it tells me the game isn’t installed and its trying to download it now. Come on guys, I just want to get back to shooting Ritalin addicted preteens and 30-something forever alones. Its the closest thing to punching people I don’t like in the face without repercussion and the psychological equivalent of two hours of primal scream therapy.

Thanks EA. At least you guys are openly telling me your software is shit by putting “Beta” in big letters everywhere.  DICE pretends its stuff is actually fully cooked. I feel like the third wheel in a very abusive relationship. Oh and to top it off, the bastards deleted my server preferences just to be dicks about the whole thing.

Microsoftr VistaT

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Oh System Center Essentials 2010, you promised me so much.  Centralized logging, automated software installs, updates, software inventories, etc. Its a shame you do none of these well, but its the laziness that really gets my goat. The laziness of this:

Microsoftr VistaT? Really? You fancy SCE engineers couldn’t render the trademark/register symbol so you just defaulted to a T and an R, then proudly looked at the misspelling of one of your flagship products and your COMPANY’S NAME and just said, “screw it, lets ship.”  Nice guys. Nice.  Why does a logging function even need such things like trademarks and registered symbols?

Actually, now that I think about it, I like the sound of “Vistat.” Its got the word “stat” in it, like quick and urgent but… oh right, we’re talking about VistaT here.  Happily, this is our only Vistat machine at work and soon it will have a fresh upgrade to Microsoftr Win7T. Ballmer, you should send me a free goddamn copy for this. Well, other than the one I got from “hosting” that Win7 party. Both my cats were very convinced of Windows 7’s robustness and value!

Oh Steve, one more thing, workstation is one word, not two.

Screw you Nook app!

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Why am I on my third attempt to finish Anathem on my Transformer using the Nook app? Is it the spartan prose? The lengthy didactic asides? The “100 pages until anything happens” Stephenson trope? Yeah, probably, but for the most part its because THE GODDAMN BRIGHTNESS SLIDER IS NEXT TO THE GODDAMN PAGE POSITION SLIDER.  Android has a hard time telling which one you pressed. You won’t notice until you’re suddenly 400 pages ahead and lost your place. Oh, the return to previous button doesn’t work and there’s no auto brightness feature.

Why Nook android app? Why are you so terrible? I won’t even mention that  if I read on a plane it loses my place next time it gets on the internet. Or how whenever I start it, it won’t open a book unless I close the app and re-open it. Kindle app, here I come. Once I finish Anathem of course, which won’t be for a while.  BTW SPOILER: Snape kills Orolo!!!!!*

*seriously though, is Anathem a rational and scientific alternative to Harry Potter? Is Stephenson uncorrupting our youth? Please say yes.