Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Putting the Citrix Receiver for Android to work

Installed a Citrix Access Gateway VPX earlier this month so… Migrating 120+ users to Great Plains 2010 R2 published from XenApp 6 using only my cell phone.

The Citrix Receiver for Android allows me to connect to the desktop of a XenApp server via the Access Gateway web interface.  Because the Motorola Atrix contains a full version of Firefox the Access Gateway works flawlessly, even over 128-bit SSL.  I tested this ICA connectivity form the phone alone.  Then the insane benefit of the Atrix Lapdock became apparent.  With a larger screen and keyboard I can administer these Citrix servers anywhere I can get and AT&T data connection.  Verizon has the same setup in the Droid Bionic.  The Bionic tethers to the Motorola Lapdock 100 as does the Atrix 2 as these phones don’t have a proprietary injection molded cradle like the original Atrix 4G.

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Is Dell quietly becoming cooler than Apple?

A few of my investment decisions have been influenced by things that I see my kids and their friends showing the most interest in.  Nintendo vs. Playstation, Nick or Cartoon Network, You Tube or Hulu…

Until recently I didn’t even realize Connor and his friends knew the difference between Dell and Apple.  Let me preface this by saying most of these kids have access to both.  At Connors school they are required to do portion of their homework on-line.  They have Apple computers in their labs at school. Now Connor wants his own computer in his room at his desk.  He specifically said he wanted a Dell.  “One of the ones you can change the case on”.  I asked if he’d rather have an Apple.  He said “um, no”.  Then he very specifically, and surprisingly, said he doesn’t like the browser.  I asked if he meant Safari and he said “ya”.  Then, to my complete surprise, he said “Apple’s are not as cool as Dell”.  One of the more shocking moments of my week as this was without my influence at all.  In fact, I’ve often represented Apple as the solution for kids because they’re a little easier to use and, until recently, harder to corrupt.

Apparently most of the kids in the Senior Academy, the high school at East Wake Academy, carry Dell’s.  Affordability probably factored in the older students purchasing decision but like it or not this type of presence does have an influence on they younger kids.  iPads?  Useless.  Try having an 8-year-old type a paragraph on a freakin’ iPad.  You might as well give them your phone to do it.  In fact, my Motorola Atrix has far more memory, processing capability and docking solutions than any iPad.  I could hook it to the lapdock and provide him a more suitable WORKING platform.  That’s the key here…work to be done.  Ever try actually working productively on a tablet for more than a few minutes?  You won’t do it twice.

Now to be fair Connor and his friends all praise iPods.  Yet they seem to have no interest in tablets.  Not sure what the difference is other than the size.  But they really want Dells.  I’ve heard them praise the name.  Something I never really expected.  When asked about a Macbook or a Dell I’ve even heard 13 and 14 year old girls answer Dell.  Where did this come from and what does it mean?  Are Macbooks going to be relegated to a pretentious, over 25 crowd who are more interested in looking hip than actual productivity? Note: writing email, sorting photos and music is not “productivity”.  Productivity is spending hours upon hours at a physical keyboard.  Most adults I know who use Macs exclusively have never written as much in one sitting as I wrote in this blog post.  Of course there are exceptions and I’m stereotyping but the real point of all this is the cool factor.

Could it be that Dell is gaining traction against Apple at their own game?  Could Dell actually become cooler than Apple?  Gasp!  Has it already happened and adults with their heads in the clouds just don’t realize it yet?  If so, Apple has a real problem because their sales are now solely based on product image.  Not performance or innovative technology but shiny aluminum cases housing flakey, and yes, unstable operating systems when compared to Windows 7.  The loss of Jobs, the emergence of Dells image and Windows 8 on the horizon all may mean trouble for the #1 titan of over priced, gotta have it garbage.

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Current Projects

  1. Installing a NetApp FAS2020 filer with an active-active controller configuration.
  2. Migrating recently acquired EDI accounts to Trimaco’s site ID and qualifier.
  3. Procuring a new Dell Latitude for more extensive Windows 7 testing.
  4. Spinning up LUNs on the new SAN to move SQL data on to for testing.
  5. A Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains 10 upgrade.
  6. Upgrading vSync too…
  7. Procuring a new PIX firewall to replace our legacy unit (the sh running config is extensive).
  8. Deploying two laptops to the field (hopefully the last XP units).
  9. Upgrading Label Matrix / Label View.
  10. Remodeling our bathrooms at home.
  11. Kitchen counters maybe?
  12. Nothing else because I can’t handle it in February or March.  I’m booked.
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The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is back on-line. Yay?

Everyone knows I fully support science but this ought to warrant some concern.  The same people who claim the Large Hadron Collider is a safe venture made this comment to NPR recently regarding what it may produce…

“Or maybe dark matter, which makes up much of the universe but hasn’t ever been directly detected. Some people even think that the LHC will discover extra dimensions of space. The truth is that nobody knows.”

Nobody knows what the thing is going to do but it’s perfectly safe? I know I feel better.

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Angry Health Reform People

Did Republicans forget that they lost an election in part because John McCain came across as an angry old man?  And remember the rowdy old people who stood up screaming about socialism at the McCain campaign rallies?  It seems the only thing that whines harder than my two year old is a Republican that isn’t getting it’s way.

Last night on ABC News 11 I listened to a  man, who didn’t get to scream and chant at representative Brad Miller about the health reform bills, tell an interviewer “I don’t want to have my family treated by the V.A.”.  What?

Are these people serious?  Are they really that dumb or are they trying to be sarcastic?  Based on this guys enunciation and dress code I was left with no alternative but to think he’s serious.  What’s going to happen when the very Latino’s these rednecks are trying to run out of the country start looking more intellectual than the very best the hard right can put forward?  Your “other brother Daryl” doesn’t count.

If you watch these town hall rants on health care you will see an clear demographic in attendance: middle aged and old white people who are clearly angry by their own admission.  They seem to be getting madder.  On a Democratic radar that sign means it’s working and this must be the right thing to do.  Nothing says success to a Democratic legislator like a madder than hell conservative.  Against their own best interests conservatives have cornered the market on disgruntled lately.

Instead of getting mad why don’t they come up with some valid counter points and arguments.  They only thing they have is “government sucks” and “lower taxes”.  Care to add any meaningful content to the conversation aside from “don’t change anything”?  One thing they have stated is that the cost of health care services are too high.  Very true.  And here’s why their only valid point is counter productive:

The very minute any legislator, Democrat or Republican, tries to regulate the prices of drugs and health care services through cost controls, the same conservatives using price as their argument will call for the government to stay out of the free market. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t so just be damned they say.

Even the VP of Economics for the conservative Heritage Foundation has noted that health reform must be enacted.  He’s “not sure” about a public option.  Paul Krugman tried to explain it to him:  Without a public option, including a mandate for all Americans to have coverage, a bill would only serve as a windfall for insurance companies.  The idea that a mandate will reduce indigent costs, thereby reducing provider costs resulting in health care savings is simply a dumb-ass pipe dream. The insurance companies will simply add the new revenue to their record profit reports for many years to come. Once again for the slow readers: The mandate is the reason the public option is absolutely necessary.

If you want to take the public option out you’ve got to take the mandate out.  I endorse taking the mandate out no matter what happens to the public option.  No one should be forced into an untested system.  Especially one that’s built on an already broken system.  Massachusetts did it under the guidance of Sir Ass Hat, Mitt Romney, and I wrote about it here on July 4th two years ago.  Now it’s contributing to their states bankruptcy.  Did costs go down?  Hell no.  I have no choice but to think that  the Mass. legislators were led by insurance companies into the law they passed.  The federal legislators should not make the same mistake.

Health insurance companies will lobby for the mandate without a public competitive option.  If they get their way America’s ultimate destitution will be forthcoming at a highly accelerated rate.

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I got kicked off Digg. What took so long?

It’s about damn time.  If you want to go to a site where Obama is considered Jesus because Ron Paul has already secured the role of God then Digg is your site.  If you praise homosexuality and won’t dare mention what it really is (two men, in bed, having sex) then Digg has an account for you.  If you think the Toyota Prius is the future of transportation and all trucks and SUV’s should be impounded and crushed then Digg will make you smile.  And if you think that Microsoft completely sucks at everything and should be shut down by the government to make room for Apple and Ubuntu then you will receive great honors from the “Digg Community”.  Ya, they even went so far as to recognize themselves as a commune.

But be warned: should you digress from the completely liberal opinions on the site you may be “reported as offensive”.  You see, there is no room for your own thought outside of the liberal confines of the Digg moderators.  Don’t tell the truth.  Just throw out some witty frat-boy banter to make the college kids giggle to see them reply “OMGROFLOL!!!”.  But don’t be too witty.  It will come off as disingenuous and you will be marked for a frat boy rebuttal.  Speak too much truth and you’ll definitely be labeled a “troll”.

So remember, there’s no such thing as an “illegal immigrant”, green is always good, conservatives are always wrong and enjoy yourself on Digg.  And don’t forget to bring your latest Playstation 3, Xbox or Wii game review.  I’m not sure if they’ll let you in without something that important.

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What’s going on with AT&T?

AT&T is offering a $250,000 reward to anyone who can help them find out who maliciously cut a fiber line in California last week disrupting service on a large segment of the Internet.  Today two lines were cut in Raleigh and Cary causing the entire NC Administrative Office of the Courts to go off-line and Magistrates in jails state wide could not determine how to set bail or look for outstanding warrants.

I’ve been in the center of an AT&T debacle for months.  Our company has been trying to turn up an AT&T MPLS wide area network between our corporate locations since November.  In the past I’ve coordinated wide area network deployments encompassing as many as 24 locations in under two weeks.  None of these networks were carried by AT&T or Bellsouth.  They can’t seem to get five locations done in under half a year. It’s making me look like an idiot for choosing them.  I just hope the network is more reliable than their service or I’m in trouble.

To put this new AT&T network in place we’re tearing down a multi-site VPN (virtual private network) that has been in place for 5 years.  It’s not the fastest in the world but rarely does a segment (location) go off-line.  If I turn our broadband network over to AT&T and they have these kinds of issues then we lose money.  That’s unacceptable. So far their technical communication through the process has been horrible.  The AT&T Techs want someone on site but can’t specify a time, the average turn around time for emails and phone calls to the Engineers is at best three days but most often two weeks or when I complain to AT&T executive account management.

I’m having buyers remorse for signing with these guys and they haven’t even finished turning on the service yet.  Come to think of it that’s part of the reason why I’m having buyers remorse.  Ma Bell is back, bigger and more unreliable than ever.

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Contxts SMS Cards

You can now text the word insight to 50500 from your mobile phone to receive my Contxts SMS business card.

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IT Jobs on Craigslist

A lot of companies and proprietors who post IT jobs on Craigslist are flat out cheap.  Cheap to the point of being ass-hat stupid.  I saw a few postings today that just made me laugh at the idiots who posted the positions.  I know the economy is bad but you still get what you pay for.  I would never hire or trust an “expert in MS Project” with “project management experience” that is only asking for $14.50 per hour.  That’s not smart hiring in a down economy, it’s ignorant wishful thinking that will most assuredly end in disaster.  Here some of the insulting wages I’ve seen posted for relatively technical, experienced positions:

Must have extensive knowledge of MS Project 2007; 14.50/Hr

I don’t care who takes the job, they’re not qualified.

15 hours a month basis for the general support regarding our phone line , cat5 lines , wireless cameras and POS maintenance…. If you are expecting hourly rate more than $15/hr, please do not respond.

So, you want someone to support all of your technology requirements in your two business locations for $225 a month?  Sounds like a bargain!  If you are someone who agrees to this position please do so with full recognition of the cheap ass owner you’re working for.   You will be used and abused accordingly.

We currently have positions available for Laser Printer and Copier Repair Technicians. We are a local company that specializes in sales and service of refurbished office equipment….. Compensation: 8 to 10/hr plus possible bonus

Not only do you get the opportunity to work with cranky, used copiers and printers from multiple manufacturers but you will do it at half the rate of technicians factory trained on specific models.  Again, what a bargain for the guy looking for frustrated slave labor.

This has got to be my favorite:

The ERP Configuration Support Analyst will have moderate to advanced understanding of computer principles and the ability to perform or supervise computer based tasks independently. They will generally have a thorough knowledge of CRM groups / Help Desk CSC and ERP client environment…. Experience with ERP implementation and ERP support an advantage…. Compensation: $10/hr.

Are they serious?  Really?  I quote again “thorough knowledge of CRM groups / Help Desk and ERP client environment”.   Here’s a hint: If someone even knows what these acronyms stand for they are worth more than this $10 per hour insult.  People at Arby’s get paid that much for taking an order.  In fact, in NC most people experienced with ERP deployments would make more on unemployment than this job pays.

These postings are an insult to the IT community and each of these employers deserve the failed employees they will end up hiring.  I understand the concept of getting the best bang for your buck but these ass clowns are trying to meet moderate to high technical criteria at janitor wages.  Get real.  The economy is struggling and I’m sure a few very overqualified people have sent in their resumes for these positions.  If you’re one of them thanks for running the market wages down.  Personally if I were in the unfortunate position of losing a technical job I would take the 60% unemployment and wait until the market rebounds.  Once there’s a recovery these jack asses will be forced to pay what skilled people are actually worth.

Oh and FYI: I’d watch out for most of these positions anyway because these fly-by-night cheapskates are obviously looking for something for nothing.  If they had any capital they would be searching for talent somewhere other than a site offering free job postings.  They may not have enough money to cover the first paycheck.

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Sirius Asshats

I’m on the phone canceling all of my service with Sirius satellite radio. My decision lies ENTIRELY with Sirius’s poor customer service. Not to mention the fact that they are trying to complicate and delay the return of $106 to me.

On January 2nd I ordered two Stratus 4 radios from them. One was to replace my aging original Sportster and one was to add a radio to the account for my Dad as a Christmas present. January 7th came and went with no radios and the hold on my account had been removed for the $106.72. So I called and canceled the order. Sirius confirms the cancellation is in their notes on the account.

I went to Best Buy and bought two Stratus 5 radios for a total of $143. Forward to January 13th. Today I look at my bank account and what do you know there’s a new hold for $106.72 from Sirius. Apparently they didn’t cancel the order. And as far as I can tell they’ve run my card again for a new hold.

So I made the dreaded call to sort it out. First you’ve got to verbally navigate through the highly annoying automated attendant. Any company that resorts to automated attendants for first line customer service stands a high chance of losing my business under the best of conditions.  As a life rule I don’t talk to computers.  Cus at them a lot but never talk.
Once I finally got a human on the phone she said “yes, I see where you canceled on the 7th. Let me let you talk to ‘Ecom’ about the billing and why the charges haven’t come off your account.”

So the guy from “Ecom” gets on the phone.  He said the order “couldn’t have been canceled”. I told him the previous customer service rep told me that it was. He replied, with attitude, “that person doesn’t work in Ecom and could not have canceled the order”.

So did the radios ship? “I can’t tell you at this time”. What about the charges for the radio, how do I get those back?  His response “there’s nothing I can do about it at this time sir”.

So here I was trying to buy additional radios and add service to my account so Sirius could have more revenue. Instead they screw up the order, the cancellation, charged me for the canceled order and can’t even tell me if the radios shipped. Send me to cancellations.

Now customer retention is on the case right? Problem is that if Sirius screws up bad, like they have, customer retention can’t do a damn thing despite their efforts. She tried contacting corporate customer relations and a lot more but couldn’t get an answer on what’s going on or what to do. So “cancel my service” I said.  “That’s why I was transferred to ‘cancellations’ in the first place.”

She responded, “Well, can I give you three months for free for the inconvenience?” And I asked “Can you tell me when I can expect my money back? Or how many more times you guys will keep putting holds on my card without shipping any product?” She could not.

Then she put me on hold again. She came back to inform me that “I’ve escalated your issue to my manager who will have someone from corporate customer relations contact you within 5 to 7 days.” 5 to 7 days??? “Are you for real?” Of course she was.

So I had no alternative, “Cancel the service.”  The battle presses on.

Bad customer service will cost revenue. This, along with other management reasons, is why Sirius closed at $0.13 a share today. They’re scheduled to be delisted from Nasdaq on April 20, 2009.

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