Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Weekend of IT Support

While Mrs Elliott is down in SoCal visiting family -- her dad had a post pop out after what should have been a routine colonoscopy -- I've been busy.

  1. Yesterday afternoon, the phone system for Mrs Elliott's business went down. So thar I was, minding my own business at Brother Jon's on Galveston, watching the Ducks mash New Mexico and halfway through a savory pint of Boneyard Brewery's Bonafide Pale Ale when she called to say that the phone network company was sending out a field technician to troubleshoot the thing. I met the guy here and he had determined that the problem was not the network, but the hardware -- the PBX box. I called the vendor, who is in Springfield, and was surprised that she answered, it being a three-day weekend and all that. She suggested that the problem might be the power supply. I removed the cover (a wood box which has Mrs Elliott's collection of brooms, mops, Swifters, and every other damn floor-cleaning gadget that county fair pitchmen have sold her over the years hanging on its face with hooks), fetched a voltmeter up from the shop and found that the supply, which is meant to be delivering -55V and +5V, was delivering -55V and +1.5V.

    Well, there's your problem, as they say.

    Of course there are no replacement parts for this Samsung PBX system anywhere in Bend. The earliest we could get one through normal channels would be Wednesday, and Mrs Elliott can't have her phone system off the air on Tuesday without a lot of upset clients. So she is paying one of her employees to drive over to Springfield, today, this Sunday, to pick up a replacement power supply and bring it back. He's due around 7pm this evening. With luck, it will fix the problem.

  2. Her desktop computer, an aging Dell with numerous glitches, twitches, not a little spasticity, and a malevolent habit of freezing just before she presses "Save," finally tried her patience one time too many so we bought a reasonably powerful quad-core machine from Best Buy to replace it. A few days ago I installed her applications, anti-virus, and networked the thing, but had to wait until she was not using it for several hours to transfer her user files. With her out of town, this weekend was my chance. I transferred the databases, fonts [at least 15,000], Quickbooks company files, check-printing software [which is a nightmare in itself], email and browser profiles, and every other text document, Illustrator document, spreadsheet file which I reasonably thought she uses on a daily basis to the new machine. The old machine is now moved to a back corner on her desk where it will stay online for a few months until we are satisfied that everything she needs has been copied over.

    I still have to install the automated backup scripts on her new machine. The old machine, like everything else in her office, is a Windows XP box, but this one is running Windows 7 (a very nice operating system, btw) and W7 keeps things in different places than XP does, so I'll need to modify the scripts, which I wrote as DOS-level batch files, using XXCOPY as the engine. It will take some tinkering to get it right. These back up to a 1Tb network-accessible file server that lives in a closet.

    Not sure what to do with the old computer. It's flaky and underpowered by even minimal standards today.

  3. Upstairs, in the living room, I installed Netflix and Hulu on her old Wii game console so we can watch movies and TV shows on the big screen. This required getting a disk for Netflix, and downloading and installing server software from Hulu, but they are running. The picture quality isn't as good as Bend Broadband channels, but these services have large libraries of free programs. We are hopeful that there will be something to watch when we want something to watch. Can't find old episodes of The Three Stooges, Frazier or Leave It To Beaver, but I'm sure we'll find good stuff.

  4. AND, I finally moved my old computer out of the living room into a spare bedroom. I pretty much stopped using it when not in the office in favor of this little netbook with Ubuntu/Linux on it. The old machine needs to stay hooked up because the Hulu server software is running on it. I tried to install the software on this machine, but it appears that WINE (which tries run Windows software under Linux) is not skilled enough to run the Hulu server. In fact, it would not even install. Also, I use it for photo work (Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Qimage, for you photographers). The Linux world lags well behind Macs and Windows in the image-processing department.

    Having that computer out of the living room is bound to make her happy. 
Computer geekery. Make no mistake about it. I'm not proud of it, but Mrs Elliott thinks I'm real smart. 


  1. From everything I've read here .... you are !!##$$% brilliant!

  2. Of course. That's because I'm doing all the writing! Mrs Elliott would be happy to tell you what a nitwit I am.

  3. You sure like to do things the hard way.

    What does it mean to have a "post pop out" after a colonoscopy?

  4. I'm not a doctor nor am I allowed to play one on TV any more after that unfortunate misunderstanding in Calexico, but from what I heard, Mrs Elliott's father's colon was either nicked during the procedure or a bleeder polyp was removed, and some kind of post -- like a staple, maybe -- was used to pin the owie shut. After he got home he started to hemorrhage and lost a lot of blood. They went back in through the back door in the OR and found that the post had popped loose. Or something like that. He was in the hospital for a few days, received many transfusions, and began to run a fever. Mrs Elliott flew down to see him.

  5. Doesn't sound fun at all!

    -Malia Ward


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