Archive for April 2010

Now that was a ‘good’ friday

April 30, 2010

Yesterday was not so good. Have done a lot of research for a particular client figuring out what he had and where it was and well, he apparently found a better offer. Ahhh well. And then today Kathy greeted me with a “We have finally made it.. our first bad debt”. A client had gone under. Well what can you say?

But the rest of the day? Client contacts Telstra “Well my technician has a complaint in at the Telecommunication’s Ombudsman . Telstra “Well lets not be hasty, let me see how we can help you” Woot. Technician between 8:00 and 11:00 Monday. Some work still to do for that client. And guess when I am going to be doing it?

Note that I have nothing against Telstra Techs. On the contrary.. unlike telstra management and anyone anywhere involved with a Telstra helpdesk these people are generally useful. At the worst they deserve to live. Telstra management on the other hand? Any hitchhiker fans out there? Remember what happened to the truly useless? The same fate awaits Telstra helldesk people, senior management, and people wot go broke owing us money.

Figured out the clients maileserver, added new users, invented weird and amusing passwords, set up a new desktop, migrated user files and mailboxes, lotsa mailboxes, did some cabling to standards, and some conducting, discovered that a friend I had set up with a job with that client is likely to work out . (BIG WOOOT) showed off my new macbook, got given a couple of shirts from the client…. nice shirts,,, his own label. Mental note to link to his web page with pics if its OK with him . And got to drive my lovely new car around. A great day. I is happy. I have a happy client. Woot.

Pics, I need pics. Where the hell is the digital?

We will respond to you within 48 hours

April 29, 2010

Even if its just an email headed Response.. Even if the email comes closer to 72 hours than 48. Even if its as much effin use as our helpdesk generally? Sheesh.. if PerfectNotes did this how happy would our customers be.

If you had not guessed this turned up in the inbox from Telstra today. They are their own worst enemy. God (or other Deity of choice) save us from large selfish monopolies.

48hr NotificationThank you for contacting Telstra.We aim to respond to your email
query within two business days, however due to a larger than expected demand for our
services wait times are currently exceeding two business days.We apologise for any
inconvenience and will get back to you with an answer to your query as soon as
possible.Yours sincerely,Telstra Customer Service

Telstra and going postal

April 28, 2010

It is so hard to deal with these people. Still chasing up that customers Fax line. I,ll swear its not in the cabinet.. but I am not going to triple test everything again. Telstra swear it is. Its not tagged. Its supposed to be tagged. I checked with BICSI and the regulatory Authority ACMA and yes that is exactly what they are supposed to do. I have a complaint in to Telstra by email because their helldesk is an impenetrable wall, and impossible to deal with. I have no doubt that is by design. I have a formal complaint in at ACMA and I shall be putting one in to the Telecommunications Ombudsman. So much time wasted. But so long as its not Telsta,s time the profit rolls in. And the country and everyone else can go hang.

Between that medieval witch Senator Censorship and the warm caring backbone monopoly that is Telstra the country is being held back a lot. We have stone age internet speeds and high costs compared to the rest of the world..and Telstra itself has PR managers that must have learned their trade in the Waffen SS in War 2. Its really really annoying. Telstra itself is too annoying. Lets break it up and sell of the bits. Maybe , just maybe that will larn em.

Note to late night bike commutors. If you have 24 thousand lumans of nuclear driven LED,s on your helmets, so that you may vaporise any wayward car that crosses your path.. please please please.. avoid looking at me on a bike path as I go the other way. I know not looking defeats the point of having all that light ( tho millions of car drivers seem to manage just that) but do not do it. My aging eyes cope less well with the shock than they used to and I can see nada afterwards. I can escalate my own light defense systems… replace them with similar technology and put them on my helmet you know but… MAD worked as a concept during the Cold War becoause no one actually pushed the button if you see the problem?

Helmet Lights

Well that was a scarey weekend.

April 27, 2010

Not an awful lot sorted on the work front. ABOC does a lot of secure plone sites.. the SSL stuff is complicated with a dozen different apache servers and a lot more than that virtual hosts happening. I think its sorted.. still waiting for Carl to get back to me on that. My customer with the Telstra issues rang earlier today and (sigh) they still have not come out and tagged the frame. Maybe the rules have changed and no one has told me . Or the telecomunications ombudsman for that matter. Emailing BICSI is on the list of jobs for the day now.

I found a friend from uni a job working for a client. Just trying to be nice. Only after did I consider how easily that could turn around and bite us. Maybe I ought to rethink looking out for people. It certainly sometimes seems a little one sided.

I fixed a phone for a client on the public holiday. Negotiated another job from him too. At a not very favorable rate. Ah well he is a mate and it is work

Much more happened on the non work front

This past Sunday was Anzac day. An early trip to the dawn service. At the local RSL this time. Rode the bikes down. MInd you even turning into the carpark of a quiet RSL at 5am some arrogant pratt in a 4wd just drove up and assumed we would get the hell out of his way. Sheesh. Depressing really. Mind you the same bloke was real friendly when he caught us while walking to the service. I don’t much trust people like that. If you are an arrogant pratt behind the wheel or when drunk.. that is who you are. The rest of the time you are better at hiding it is all

I and Sally went to DISC on the sunday night for secret ABOC training. I organized to pick Sally and her track bike from the train which was of course late. Getting there.. I had to borrow tires from Carl.. and then onto the track. First time on wood. It was TERRIFYING, And I have ridden on velodromes half my life. Had a slide in the first 10 metres on my borrowed tires and lost my confidence. Even found it surprisingly hard to take off in a fixie from a rail on the left side. And straight into paceline stuff. Talk about thrown in at the deep end. Still aint been up all the way to the rail but wow.. the confidence in the tires grew.. At one point I overtook Sally overtaking someone well over the blue line. What a rush.

Sally had a fall. The only one of the night I think. When she ducked down to dodge someone (a mutual friend ) coming down on her (which means in this context not what you non cyclists might think) and onto the painted concrete and down. Christened her new track bike. And was somewhat annoyed.

What a great night. Mondays training ride, the Mailing Room Ride (MRR) Alpine Tour of the Suburbs double that traditionally occurs on Anzac day holiday was by contrast almost boring. Managed to stay up the sharp end.. manage 3rd up the KOM on Belmore hill and a second up the Col du Burgandy. Not bad for an old sod. Sally came along too. She said sleeping hurt too much (after her fall ) and she might as well ride. Tougher than a $5 T bone steak that girl. She went on to do another 60 odd klicks with her husband Bryce after. Such a star. The ride started with about 20. About 8 went the distance. High attrition rate for some reason.

This week.. final testing for Plone shopping portals I hope. Some site migrations. Telstra (Urk) Some other stuff

I have a new car

April 23, 2010

Interesting week. Our development test site for our shopping portal is up. And no I cannot tell you exactly where.. except by individual request. We are using a copy of a client plone site for this.. thank you we really do appreciate it, and their permission was conditional on us not spreading it widely around. I guess they are sort of right in that we can possibly expect to break it a couple of times … but in fact the software runs. Anyway our test copy.. labeled test copy in many many places is in a secret hidden location running on a secret and hidden web server on a secret and hidden (and very odd) port.

We broke it during the week when an update to Kathy,s Aus_Post_Shipping module broke the thing. This is after all what a development site is for. So that we can see if changes actually do what they should. Be nice if MS occasionally tested updates before releasing them. I have had more than one MS release break things in a major major way without much evidence of testing. Anyway its sorted. You can put your web site up.. put stuff on it.. mark it to sell, sell it and send it off by Auspost… and all that stuff works. Working as we speak to run it over SSL which is er.. a security thing… much much safer on SSL. Its going to work with VISA Amex and PayPal for a start… and ship via OzPost. or you work the shipping out yourself. Not bad for a start. SSL running sometime tonight I expect.

So if you want a plone website come to us. I,ll update the PN website later.

During the week I had to go into town to do a course. Am a qualified fire marshal now.. go figure? Anyway. on the way back I was riding down Wellington Rd Collingwood. Got run into the curb by the fool in the RAV4 infront as without any indication at about 2 kph he veered into the very heavily trafficked bike lane.. rolled along oblivious to the thumps on his boot.. and eventually hooked down a side street. To find me propped in the parking spot he wanted a few hundred metres further on. He claimed to have not seen me. I believe him. Clearly on drugs. Clearly on mobile. And clearly stupid. Why oh why do we let em breed?

I picked up another car during the week also. A subie. Is nice. And so far shows no signs of sucking my brains out. Its not the machinery that makes people stupid. Its really a bit sad. Mind you driving to and from track tonight I saw some astonishing idiots A bloke pulled out from a parking stop in front of another.. propped oblivious to the near miss.. pottered off eventually to much blaring of horns and finally turned left without ever looking in any direction except straight ahead. Must be the rain. Maybe.

Telstra needs people with brains on helldesks.

April 21, 2010

Not just some 16 yo with a script in a dungeon somewhere.
telecoms frame

And PerfectNotes has a new rule. No more going to sites to hook up new phone services unless a telstra tech has actually been to the premises. And has reaffirmed an old rule.. never talk to Telstra helpdesk people if it can possibly be avoided. You will end up feeling like your brains have been sucked out the top of your skull

Let me explain.

Here at PerfectNotes we hold what is known as an open cabling licence which means we can screw with phone systems, cables, alarm systems and (ROTFL) lift cabling systems. Which means we can just for example legally hook up a fax in a customer site. And most likely you legally cannot.

So the way this is supposed to work is you request the service from Telsta.. they enable it at the exchange.. come out to the site.. identify the single pair of wires that enable this service and tag them. We come out.. and run the wire from the tag… (most likely over existing wires by a crossconnect) and away we go. But what Telstra likes to do is (maybe) enable it at the exchange and let us figure it out. Now its actually illegal (and big time illegal) for us to touch the teleco,s side of the distributional frame but….. Anyway.. client site. and it takes me a few hours to discover their main service, a discontinued service and its number.. and 3 pairs of wires with voltage but no actual service on the 20 pairs of wires that come into the building. And I recheck lots. Because Telstra have done this to me once before with this same customer. Nope.. their is NO pair of wires going into that panel with that service on it


So I ring the helldesk. And eventually talk to the lovely Angie with the Indian accent. Who is absolutely determined to read her script. Its not her fault.. what else is she to do? She might recognize a wire two out of three times but then again she might not. She insists on telling me to plug the fax into every phone outlet in the place. She wants to know how many devices are on the fax line (which makes sense.. phone systems have only so much voltage.. drop it enough and nothing works.. but you see the issue? We don’t actually have a fax line.. we have a pair of wires with that service coming into the building. Or as it turned out we don’t ) and she has no idea what the words ‘pair’ and ‘frame’ mean

Finally she tells me that if I wish I an call a licensed registered cabler to have a look.


Obviously I cannot charge the poor customer much for essentially managing to achieve nothing. Equally obviously its not a good way to spend a working day. Pah

Am definitely NOT a telstra fan.

Not so perfect wednesday.

April 14, 2010

Well after the highs of the weekend. Bleghhh. Lots of housekeeping. One site jumping up and down like a jumbuck. And no riding. Bike transporter one has decided its a 3 cylinder car. Which would be ok if it was…say a 3 cylinder car. Ahh…. will I be adding to the general waste of society if I track down another engine and put it in.. without finding out why this one is sick? PerfectNotes are really your all purpose geeks. Hell I just fixed a bicycle wheel for a customer. Well a non customer actually. If we make no money out of em.. I guess they are just friends. Sigh…

Well that is what going to happen. My brov has found me a lancer engine.. It was given to him so the price is right and its apparently healthy. (Yeah riiiighhht) So as soon as I check with Vic Roads to make sure that the engine actually belongs to the bloke what gave it to Ash (I mean it IS Thomastown) it solves that issue with a mornings work. And then one day when I am bored I,ll slee… I mean I,ll pull the old engine apart and find out what broke. I always like knowing why stuff dies. We need another car anyway so I have a Subie to look at on the weekend

Test site is up. Data.fs going up as we speak. One other customers site is going up and down like a yoyo but he has people working on it. Kathy on site today. That horrible data entry gone. Have a customer report to chase up.. a recalcitrant customer to email, and bits of development stuff to do today. All good. Just a bit down at the moment is all.

Oopses and not oopses

April 10, 2010

Yesterday I got everything I planned done except setting up the GetPaid test site on ABOC. This mornings job.

We realized at some point yesterday that some images on a client site had truly vanished.. it was not the minor connection hiccup we thought. Much worried testing followed because we had been working on that server and in fact probably no one else was and now these images were not there. It was a Plone site and Kathy eventually determined that a couple of folders containing images were missing. The images were (or rather were not) still in the file structure of the Plone site install but not in Data.fs which usually contains all of a Plone site site. Interesting. The folders were gone. Data recovery on a remote machine in the US is somewhat problematical. It seemed likely it was something we had done.. or a hell of a coincidence. Went back a couple of days in the logs and found nothing.. tho I will have another look today. Big Big problem. How to explain to the client. Luckily we had a backup and fixed it. But it all took a while. Stressful afternoon

Secret training session on Blackburn velo in the dark. Sally on her new bike.. me on the Alchemy and JAC on her.. er Kona?
A couple of pics of that are going up on the Team Splat page on FB.

So today the test site goes up

Backups matter

April 9, 2010

I spent yesterday morning doing backups for a client who has offshore servers, lots of them, and wants to rationalize down to two servers each backing up to the other. In my opinion a utterly sensible way to go.

Its sad however that the ludicrous cost of data transfer in Australia forces so many people to go to offshore hosting. Still while Australia has a communications minister who barely understands smoke signals things may not improve. Perhaps I am getting a bit political there.

Anyway step one is clearly to make sure we have a reasonably current copy of all of his data ,before we actually move each of his many sites That way if something goes wrong the data is OK. Its data that costs the real money. Its measured in sweat one way or another. Its why I find data recovery actually satisfying.

I have a grill in the kitchen. Huge cast iron thing that I cook on at least 4 times a week. Anyway its a present from a grateful customer for recovering his wife’s PHD thesis from a dead hard drive. Of course she should have had a backup.. but anyway.. that was satisfying.

Anyway in the afternoon I went into town to look at a bicycle with one of the girls on our race team and her husband. She bought it. And then I went out to Thomastown to talk to my brother who has a business out there. My brother is the ideal candidate for a CRM. He is sitting on a business that could easily be worth millions.. turns customers away every day cos he is so disorganized is running a 2 person workshop that could easily employ 10 and loses invoices like they don’t matter. Really upsets me. He is really really good at what he does. Absolutely the best in Melbourne. But what he does not do is run a business. He needs someone to run the business for him while he does what he does well which is run a workshop. He even knows this. Getting him to actually do it is the problem

Todays jobs. Finish these backups. Have a look at which site to move first. Update the documentation on those sites. Do a couple of changes to website… We have a privacy policy for data I wrote somewhere.. I,ll put that up. Get ABOC test site installed . Security updates on PNserver. Follow up on a couple of customers.

A perfect Sunday

April 8, 2010

Sunday was amazing. Our SallylTeam Splat! (that is how you type it by the way.. TeamSplat! ) rider Sally not only did brilliantly racing but she got third in B grade. A brilliant brilliant effort. Its her 3rd race meeting ever and she rode like a pro. Have a look. here
On this facebook page you will find a little photo essay by Sally’s partner Bryce. Says it all really. Utterly wonderful result. Brilliant The racing was in ludicrously windy and unfriendly conditions. I didn;t race, not having paid my license. The conditions were OK but barely. Luckily another brilliant days racing at BBN with no one binning it.

I have a occasional gig working for Monash in the city. Last night it got annoying and I ended up bringing some data entry (urghhh) stuff home to finish off. Hopefully I get paid for it. Still not finished. Not happy about that But on the PN front. Test website is up and happening. So far everything works. A little issue about content as we have yet to get the clients permission to actually use his content. Have been dummying up stuff but that is really not the best way to go. So I am still waiting to hear on that. Its up. Its exactly as it looks on our LAN. Not that it should not be. Kathys ozpost interface is obviously working. Just brilliant. Very very happy about that

What I should do is start porting our PN website to plone. We should do that. Plone is actually a better platform, even if we don;t need most of the extra.s Its only extra work after all. “Sigh’