Archives » July, 2006

July 18, 2006

Exchange Server Size Limits

Today at my work I ran into a puzzling problem. Our MS Exchange Server seemed to be running fine, but nobody could open Outlook. They were getting messages that the information store could not be contacted, and a connection with the server could not be established. But, with a quick look at the server, I could tell that the Exchange services were running like they normally should.

It took a dive into the event logs to find out what the problem was. What I found was that the Exchange database had reached 16GB. This is a hard-coded limit that’s been built into Exchange for years. When you get to 16GB, your server shuts down. This used to be really bad, because you couldn’t remount the information store to let you delete any messages, so you’d have to defrag or truncate it to get it below the limit. Then you could clean up the messages and get it back to the safety zone.

With Exchange 2003 you don’t have to do that. There is a registry option now that lets you temporarily add 1GB to the database size limit. This gives you the chance to remount the information store and delete a few messages. The fix, which can be found here, is as follows:

  1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit in the Open box, and then click OK.
  2. Locate and then click the following key in the registry: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSExchangeIS\<Exchange Server Name>\Private-<GUID>
  3. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
  4. Type Temporary DB Size Limit Extension, and then press ENTER.
  5. Double-click Temporary DB Size Limit Extension.
  6. Type 1 in the Value data box, click Decimal in the Base box, and then click OK.
  7. Quit Registry Editor.

After this you can get in and start cleaning out mailboxes.

But that doesn’t answer the big question: Why does Exchange have such an inanely small limit on the size of the database? How can an enterprise-level piece of software expect you to fall under such tight restrictions? And the answer, for once, is good news. Ever since last year, the limit has been raised. All you have to do is upgrade to Exchange Service Pack 2, and suddenly you can bump up the limit to 75GB.

But it doesn’t go up to 75GB right out of the box. Oh, no. To get the full 75GB you have to dig into the registry again.

  1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit in the Open box, and then click OK.
  2. Locate and then click the following key in the registry: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSExchangeIS\<Exchange Server Name>\Private-<GUID>
  3. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
  4. Type Database Size Limit in GB, and then press ENTER.
  5. Double-click Database Size Limit in GB.
  6. In the Value data box, type the new limit you want your database to have. It can be between 18 and 75.
  7. Click Decimal in the Base box, and then click OK.
  8. Quit Registry Editor.

Now, after all that is done you can restart your information store, and suddenly you have plenty of space to let your mailboxes grow. Keeping your users in check so you don’t get near the limit is another matter, though.

If you’re running Exchange Server, run out right now and check what your limits are, and what the size of your database is. You don’t want to find out you’ve hit the limit by getting a phone call, like I did!

Domino House

Japanese people with not enough to keep them busy:

July 16, 2006

Carson Valley Panorama

Here’s a panoramic photo I took of the Carson Valley from up on Kingsbury Grade. I’ve taken photos from this viewpoint before, but never with the new 9 megapixel camera. And I’ve never used AutoStitch to put them together like this.

You’re not going to see all the detail unless you open the full-size version, which clocks in at a whopping 10,418 pixels wide and 4.4 Megabytes! Click on it…if you dare.

July 14, 2006

Sick Sammy

Poor Sammy’s been sick the last couple of days. And not the usual, runny-nose-and-a-cough sick. That we’ve dealt with a hundred times by now. But this time it’s just a fever, a relentless fever that refuses to go away and has been haunting him for days now.

It started as a low-grade fever, 100, 101. When it’s only that high it’s something to keep an eye on, but nothing to worry about yet. And even though he had this fever he was still running around, playing, and acting like there was nothing different. Then last night we were up at Lake Tahoe visiting some friends that are in from out of town, and he was running around playing with their two boys like nothing was wrong. But all of a sudden he started to get really clingy, and low on energy, and hot. Like really hot, burning up. When we got home we checked his temperature, and it had gone up to 102. Definitely more of a concern, but we still chose not to worry and to ride it out.

Then at 3am this morning he woke up vomiting. We took his temperature: 104. Now we’re in panic territory. Anyone with a kid, or just a body of their own, knows that 104 is not a good temperature to have. But still there weren’t any other symptoms, except for the vomiting. And that could easily just be his body’s way of saying that it doesn’t like what’s happening. So we called the urgent care, they said to get a doctor’s advice before bringing him in. So we called the doctor’s office and had the poor doctor woken up to give us a call back. Fortunately the doctor seemed pretty calm and knew just what to say: give him plenty to drink and some ibuprofen. That’s the pediatrician’s version of “two aspirin and call me in the morning,” so it put us at ease a little bit. But there was a problem: Sam’s still crying and screaming, apparently not as reassured by the doctor’s words as we were. So we’re still looking at a long night. And, on top of that, we didn’t have any children’s ibuprofen in the house. The one concrete thing the doctor did say to do, and we can’t do it. So it was up to Viola to calm Sam down, and up to me to put on some pants and shoes and trek down to the one place you can always count on to buy medicine in the middle of the night: Wal*Mart.

Going to Wal*Mart in the middle of the night is always a singular experience. The only other customers you run into are parents looking for medicine just like you, or guys with bags under their eyes in the munchie aisle. Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll find some nocturnal recluses shopping for socks at 3am, but it’s not likely. The store isn’t empty, though. The night crew is always there, hard at work, and hard at the job of ignoring customers. The night crew does their work with tunnel vision; they stack their huge pallets everywhere so you can’t manuever a cart. They block what few aisles are free with their own bodies, crouching down, stocking shelves and barely acknowledging you as you squeeze by. If you’re really lucky they’ll be polishing the floor when you go, and the fumes from those propane motors they use can linger for hours. I still remember working the morning shift at Kmart eons ago, and coming in at 7am with the smell of propane wafting down the aisles.

So anyway I grabbed the ibuprofen, and few other items that were missing from our fridge, and dodged the night crew, and stepped outside. I glanced over at the horizon with bloodshot eyes, and saw that dawn was already starting to break over the mountains. There was no doubt now that the night was ruined. Drove the ten minutes back home, and got there to find that Sam had fallen back asleep on his own, and his fever had dropped a few points. There was no need for me to rush out after all.

All through the day, though, his fever stayed at around 102 or 103. So we finally broke down and made an appointment with the doctor. Some things you can only put off for so long. And wouldn’t you know it, but right before we were about to leave his fever subsided and his temperature dropped below 100. The doctor, luckily, didn’t look at us like we were crazy. She was not only understanding, she had a diagnosis for us right off the top of her head. Roseola. Turns out roseola is a pretty common ailment, caused by one of the herpes viruses, herpes virus 6. Just about every kid gets it, and it’s completely harmless. Of course, “completely harmless” means four days of high fever and screaming kids. And you can’t even be sure it really is roseola. It turns out it’s impossible to positively diagnose it while it’s going on. The only way to be sure it’s roseola is to see if a rash show up after the fever goes away. If it does, you can make the hindsight pronouncement of roseola.

And there’s no treatment for roseola either. Just let the body fight it off, which is what the fever’s there for. So we’re stuck with a sick little boy for another day or two, until his body can finally get rid of that virus. Of course if the fever doesn’t go away, then we’re dealing with something else, something that’s not roseola, and we’ll have to bring him back in. That’s always comforting to hear a doctor say. We’re used to it, though; we’ve been watching House, M.D. on DVD, so we know that the first diagnosis is always wrong. Second, too. Doctors never get it right until 45 minutes past the hour, and then it’s all smiles and smooth sailing.

Until the rash comes. Yuck.

July 13, 2006

An Evening at Tahoe

Rock
Rock

Tree
Tree

For Sale
For Sale

Road
Take the High Road

July 11, 2006

The Merci Train – Then and Now

The Merci Train

Talk about procrastinating, it’s been a month since I posted my last Then and Now article. So, finally, it’s time to correct that with a new entry. #23 – The Merci Train. The story of the little French boxcar that crossed an ocean and ended up in Carson City.

July 10, 2006

Firefox 2 Beta 1

Last month I was writing about Firefox 2.0, and the Alpha 3 release that I was playing around with. Well, over the weekend Bon Echo (the development name for Firefox 2.0) came out of Alpha and went into Beta. The Beta 1 can be downloaded from this FTP folder (or this direct link to the Windows installer).

This change from “Alpha” to “Beta” doesn’t mean much, just that you can download it and play around with it with less of a chance of it trashing your system. Sounds like there’s still not too many new features, beyond the spell check that I wrote about before. But that spell check alone is enough to make this a worthwhile upgrade.

The final version of Firefox 2 is scheduled to come out sometime this fall.

July 8, 2006

Infrequent Is Best

All this time I thought I was just a procrastinator. I’ve never really been able to post more than two or three times a week on this blog; sometimes I’ll go a whole week without writing anything, or more! And all this time I felt guilty about that, but now I find out that I’m a visionary, a trailblazer in the post-Web 2.0 landscape. Witness this post by Eric Kintz at MarketingProfs: Why Blog Post Frequency Does Not Matter Anymore. He makes the argument, and gives a list of ten reasons to back it up, that frequent posting can actually be a bad thing, or at least it isn’t necessarily something to strive for. Most of his reasons point to too many posts leading to too much clutter and turning off many readers. Like #9 – Frequent posting creates the equivalent of a blogging landfill, which deals with blogger burnout. And #4 – Frequent posting is actually starting to have a negative impact on loyalty, which deals with reader burnout. But I think the one I can get on board with the most is #6: Frequent posting drives poor content quality. I could post every day, but most of the time all I have in my head are half-formed thoughts and loose threads that don’t lead anywhere. Nobody wants to read about that. So I made a promise only to write when I have something to write about, and not to create artificial deadlines or quotas for myself. Some days I get inspired and write a whole bunch of stuff. Some weeks I got nothing, and I leave up a picture of my dog for six days. It’s just the way it is, and I’m not going to feel bad about it. In fact, after reading this article, I finally can start to feel good about not posting everyday.

Bring on Web 2.5, the Procrastinator’s Web!

July 7, 2006

The Carson Times

Reposted from AroundCarson.com:

The Reno Gazette Journal has always had a small presence in Carson City, with the publication of the “Carson/Douglas” section in their newspaper a couple of times a week. But a month or two ago they decided to get serious and start publishing a tabloid newspaper just with Carson City news, called the Carson Times.

Carson Times

Now instead of having to buy the RGJ, you can find this Carson Times, which usually runs around 30-40 pages, for free in newsstands all over town. It comes out every Friday, and is full of local news and stories. The RGJ has even opened a bureau here in Carson City that the paper is produced out of; it’s almost like Reno finally woke up and realized that Carson isn’t this little town of 4,000 people anymore.

On the one hand, this is really nice to see, and it means Carson is growing in importance. But on the other hand, it shows that the only thing newspaper people are thinking about is creating more newspapers. It’s another example where they have to produce paper; they have to get the news to you on paper. And it’s another example of where the Web seems like little more than an afterthought. There is a companion website, www.carsontimes.com, but instead of creating a whole new site for it, they just redirect you to the Carson section of rgj.com. And it’s a pretty grim website, nothing more than reprints of the stories that were in the paper. And there’s also a contest on there, a contest that expired on July 3rd.

This is the same hole the newspapers always fall into. They see their websites as nothing more than an electronic version of the paper. The newspaper is their baby; it’s what they spend all their time caressing and devote all their attention to, and they make sure the pages are laid out just right, and they cram every inch full of stories and ads and public announcements and calendar items. There are people who check to make sure it’s polished and ready to go out, and they spend thousands of dollars on paper and ink and delivery people just to make sure that their finished product ends up in the hands of the customer in a perfect little bundle.

Then what do we, the customers, do? We spend ten minutes reading it, and after that we toss it aside. We cut it up, we crumple it and throw it in a corner, we use it as kindling to start fires, we lay it down to protect the floor when we paint, we chuck it in the trash with the coffee grounds and spoiled milk. If they’re lucky, we recycle it so they can get it back and print on it again. But what we don’t do is save it. Unless it’s an article about our kids, or something like the front page from September 12, 2001 (who doesn’t have one of those tucked away?), we get rid of it and forget about it. It’s nothing to us; it’s less than nothing. It’s yesterday’s news, just another piece of paper cluttering up our lives, and we can’t wait to dispose of it.

Compare this to the Web, where an article online can live forever. It doesn’t turn yellow, it doesn’t get lost in the middle of a stack in the garage, it’s always there, just a click away, and always looking as fresh and new as the day it was published. Let’s say I wanted to show you the Nevada Appeal from 9/12/2001. I’d have to go into my house, I’d have to remember exactly where I put that paper, I’d have to dig through a pile and pull it out, then we’d have to be careful reading it because we don’t want to rip the pages, then we’d carefully put it back where it was before. So much work, so much time, and plus you’d have to come over to my house to see it. But what if I wanted to show you the article that was on the front page of that paper? Here it is. Took me about 45 seconds to find it on the website, takes you about half a second to click it. News on the web lives forever. News on the web can be valuable, and deep archives that go back for years can be a huge traffic generator for a newspaper, which leads to page views and advertising revenue.

News on the web is also much more immediate. A big problem with newspapers is that, by design, they’re full of yesterday’s news. You wake up in the morning, go out to the curb, and find out what happened yesterday. Not what will happen today, not what’s happening right now, but what happened yesterday. This paper is brand-new, and it’s already out of date. Might as well put yesterday’s date on it, not today’s. But a website can be updated in seconds. It can always have the latest news, the most up-to-date reports. Photos can be uploaded as soon as they’re loaded off the memory card. Stories can be posted as fast as the reporter can type. The website comes alive, and becomes a reflection of the world they way it is right now

Based on all this, it looks to me like electronic news on the web is much more valuable than news on paper, both to the company producing it and to the person reading it. So why, then, do so many newspaper websites suck? It seems like all they do is buy a prepackaged CMS, throw together some basic templates, and hire someone to copy and paste yesterday’s articles into the system. If you’re lucky you get comments, and if you’re really lucky you get a “Breaking News” section where things like fires and national disasters can be reported. But for the most part, a newspaper website is nothing more than an online version of yesterday’s news, that matches the paper version of yesterday’s news you’re already holding in your hand. How disappointing.

So what can be done? I’m not a newspaperman, by any means, or a “Journalist” with a capital J, but it seems to me like the whole system is backwards. Instead of the paper being the primary product, the final result that everyone is focused towards creating, the website should be the main product. The front page should be a blog, updated regularly throughout the day with the latest stuff. Stories should be pushed onto the website as soon as they’re finished. It should be a vibrant, living document, the result of an interactive newsroom that’s trying to communicate the way the world is right now. It’s called news; everything on it should be new. And then, since many people do enjoy that ten minutes they spend with the paper each morning, the newspaper can still go out the door every morning like usual. But instead of being the star of the show, like it is now, the newspaper would be a daily summary of what stories and topics were hot on the website yesterday. It would be a “catch-up” edition, for people who don’t read the website or who missed it for a day.

It seems to me the main product of a newsroom should be news. And that news should be delivered in whichever way makes the most sense. 20 years ago, collecting all the news from one day and printing it into a bundle of paper was probably the way that made the most sense. But today, in 2006, it no longer is. Delivering that news in real-time to the readers’ desktops makes the most sense. But the people in charge of the newspapers still see the paper itself as the main product, like they’re not able to separate the news, which is what they’re really creating, from the paper, which is just a way to get the news to people. The newspaper industry all over the country is having trouble because they haven’t realized this yet. Just the fact that it’s called “the newspaper industry” shows you what the problem is. They think that what people want is a newspaper; they’re only half right. What people want is the news; the paper part is an annoyance that is quickly becoming unnecessary. But these companies keep trying to cram it down our throats and toss it onto our driveways. And we the readers increasingly don’t want our news in paper form; we want it delivered other ways. Once the industry wakes up and realizes this, and goes through a shift in the way they do business, they’ll find that their problems will go away.

And the RGJ could start by building a real website for the Carson Times.

July 5, 2006

Find Next Autoindex Using PHP and MySQL

I’m putting on my programmer’s hat tonight to solve a mystery. I was searching Google tonight to try to find the way you would use PHP to grab the next AUTO_INCREMENT value out of a MySQL table. You know, if you’re getting ready to insert data into a table, and you want to know beforehand what the next autonumber is going to be on the ID field. I found the site that shows you how to do it.

<?
$tablename = "tablename";
$next_increment = 0;
$qShowStatus = "SHOW TABLE STATUS LIKE ’$tablename’";
$qShowStatusResult = mysql_query($qShowStatus) or die ( "Query failed: " . mysql_error() . "
" . $qShowStatus );

$row = mysql_fetch_assoc($qShowStatusResult);
$next_increment = $row[’Auto_increment’];

echo "next increment number: [$next_increment]";
?>

Just jotting this down here as a note so I can remember for next time.