Archives » July, 2003

July 31, 2003

Sick of MS Exchange yet? I am.

Just for fun, I decided to further my experiments with Exchange by cleaning up the biggest mailbox on the system, my boss’. I took a preliminary reading of the Folder Size. 544MB. Ye-ouch! Then I created a second mailbox, and proceeded to copy all of his messages into the new box. He had a couple dozen personal folders set up, I copied them. He had over a thousand contacts, I copied them. he had 500 Sent Items, I copied them. I recreated his mailbox exactly, with the exact same items. I checked the item counts on every folder to make sure they were identical. I went to the Exchange Administrator program to do a mailbox-wide count of items. 9,758. Identical. Then I looked at the Folder Size on the new mailbox. 377MB.

167 megabytes. In one mailbox, there was 167 megabytes of wasted space. That’s astounding. I guess at this point it doesn’t matter where it all came from. My money is still on that botched defrag. But now I am faced with the task of going through every mailbox and cleaning it up like this. And that doesn’t sound too thrilling. My Exchange database is sitting at 2.3GB right now. It’ll be interesting to see how far it shrinks once I’ve gotten rid of all this garbage.

My Love Letter to Exchange Server 5.5

I couldn’t pull myself away from the desk last night, I was trying to figure through this problem with the Exchange Server. There was all this wasted space coming from somewhere. What I finally did was take one of the affected mailboxes, and check the Folder Size. 46MB. I then created a new mailbox and copied all the items over to it. I copied the whole Inbox, all the Sent Items, Notes, Journal, Contacts, Calendar, everything. I copied it all and looked at the Folder Size of the new mailbox. 23MB.

That’s when my jaw hit the floor. Out of the entire mailbox, half of it was invisible cruft, wasted space. Half of it. I checked the individual folder sizes. The Sent Items had 131 items. Old mailbox, 2.3MB. New mailbox, 0.8MB. This is un-freaking-believable. What is all of this? I might have an idea. I remember that a few months ago I did an offline defragmentation of the Exchange database, and it got corrupted. I tried to restart Exchange after the defrag, and it wouldn’t. It kept throwing errors that, when I looked them up, turned out to be corruption errors. So I threw all the Exchange tools I had at it. I did a repair, I checked the integrity, I defragged it again. Finally I got the server to start, and something like half—or more—of everyone’s e-mails were missing. So I did a restore from the tape backup and called it good. I’ve done a couple more offline defragmentations since then, and they’ve gone without a hitch.

Could that have been it? During one of those repairs, did it mark a bunch of items as unrecoverable, but leave the data drifting loose in space? I guess that would explain all the extra weight in those folders, it’s the items that were lost during the corruption and recovery. But why is the data still taking up space? Why isn’t it swept away during the defrag? How does Exchange handle that sort of thing? And what are my options from this point? Am I to go through all 50 mailboxes, create new boxes, move the items over, and delete the old mailboxes? Do I need to set up a second Exchange Server, replicate everything over, delete everything from the old server, and then replicate back? None of these options sound particularly appealing, but neither does going on with an Exchange database that’s bloated by 200%.

Oh, the joys of being a network admin.

July 30, 2003

Freakin’ Exchange Hijinks

I’m alternating between laughing and crying, trying to deal with this Exchange 5.5 Server we have here at work. Maybe somebody else has seen this problem. In Outlook, you can see all the regular folders: Inbox, Journal, Drafts, Outbox, Sent Items, and so on. Some of them have a bunch of items, some have none. In Outlook, you can also bring up the properties and look at the Folder Size, which shows you how many total kilobytes all the items are taking up. If you delete all the items, that number drops to zero. Fair enough. This is the way the world is supposed to work.

That is not what’s happening with my server, though. On certain mailboxes, if I delete all the items out of a folder, and bring up the Folder Size listing, it still shows the folder having some weight. The Inbox has zero items, but a size of 2,600kb. Drafts has zero items, but a size of 8,800kb. This is not right. This is not supposed to be happening. This is like apples falling up. Where is this coming from? What kind of “hidden” items are taking up all this space? Why is this happening to me?

I need to go home and lie down.

8th time’s the charm

We got The Call last night. The Call we’ve gotten so many times before. The Call that always gets our hopes up, only to repeatedly see them dashed again. It’s gotten to where we don’t trust The Call anymore, and in fact we feel a sense of dread mixed in with the joy whenever it happens. We’d like nothing more than to never get The Call again, but we are constantly being put into the situation, and so we have to sit, anticipating The Call, hoping the phone will ring. Then, finally, it does ring, we rush over to the phone, answer it, and hear those bittersweet words.

“This is the Capitol Ford service department, and your car is ready.”

Our car has been having transmission problems. And not just the kind where you take it in for a few hours and they have to tighten a cable. This is the kind of problem where they replace the torque converter, and the problem comes back. They replace the transmission, because there are metal shavings in the fluid, and the problem comes back. They fiddle with the EGR valve, and it comes back. They adjust the solenoids, and it comes back. This is the kind of problem where you get to know the service guys at the Ford dealership very well, just because you’re in there every week. And they don’t keep the car for just a day. They keep it for a week. Or two weeks. Sometimes the warranty covers the repair, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes they’ll pay for a rental car, sometimes they won’t. But each time we get The Call, saying it’s ready, everything is fixed, the car is running fine, and we can come pick it up. And each time, within twenty-four hours, the problem comes back. It’s a really sad routine we’ve gotten into. And it shows no hint of stopping. I can imagine that one day we’ll be too weak to continue, and our grandson will have to pick up the legacy and take the car in for us.

So, last night we got The Call, and apparently everything is fixed. Well, we’ll just have to see about that.

July 29, 2003

Keep the Joint Locked Up

Bob Lewis has an article this week on (gasp!) good customer service experiences. It’s come to a pretty sorry state when good experiences are so rare that someone has to go out of their way to relate them. But he points out a few companies he’s run across that are doing it right.

A note on the link above: That link takes you to the main page for his Keep the Joint Running column, where the article should be up for the rest of the week. After that, the article will be locked behind a (free) registration firewall, and available at this link. I’m not sure why he locks away his content like that, especially for just a once-a-week e-mail newsletter. Sounds like bad customer service to me.

July 28, 2003

Offspring update

Another two weeks gone by, another ultrasound. We’re at 32 weeks now, and everybody is doing just fine. Viola was always so worried about getting pregnant, not only for her own health, but the baby’s too. Her family has a long history of miscarriages, and she figured that if she was even able to get pregnant, her first definitely wouldn’t go full term. Well, here we are, at 32 weeks, and everything is going textbook perfect.

She will have to have a Caesarean section, because of her cerebral palsy. She’s never had very much range of movement in her legs. In fact, if it wasn’t for the twelve surgeries she’s had in her life, she’d be in a wheelchair right now. But getting her legs into that position, something that most women don’t even think about, compared to all the other rigors of childbirth, would be an impossibilty for Viola. The physical strain would be something her body wouldn’t be able to handle, either. Her body is not strong. Childbirth might have proved too much for it.

So, a C-section it is. She’s relieved, because she did not want to go through childbirth. A C-section? That’s just a surgery. She can go through a surgery standing on her head! The biggest problem she’s having is getting around with the extra weight. Her ankles used to swell and hurt at her previous (and very slim) weight. Now that she’s put on twenty (hardly noticable) pounds, they are certainly not doing well under the load. And could you blame them? She has more scar tissue on her left ankle than most people get on their whole body, in their whole lifetime. It’s a wonder she’s not wheelchair bound now. But no. Her body may not be strong, but her will certainly makes up for it. And if her dignity demands that she carry this weight on her own two feet, it will be done. I think she’ll have this babymaking thing licked.

She does love floating in the pool, though. And just 8 more weeks to go!

Clean up XP

And since Windows XP is going to be with us for so long, we might as well learn how to make it run at its best. That’s what this article by Fred Langa does. It’s a 20-step checklist for what to do when you buy a new computer with XP pre-installed. He starts with simple things like making sure all the software works, and makes his way up to adjusting the swapfile and System Restore. He also recommends formatting the hard drive and reinstalling XP, I guess just to make sure that you’ll be able to do it if you ever have any problems. That step seems a little out of place in a beginner-to-intermediate article like this. Not only does it seem like overkill, it also seems like if you’re at that level of knowledge, you’ll already have your own process for making sure the computer runs at it best. I mean, I rarely buy a pre-built computer, sticking mostly with buying parts and building systems myself. But when I do buy pre-installed, formatting the hard drive isn’t exactly on my list of things to do.

Long way to Longhorn

You might need to clutch on to your Windows XP for a little bit longer. Bill Gates says in this little interview that the next version of Windows, Longhorn, is going to be a huge leap away from the Windows that we’ve known for the last eight years.

“It should drive a whole range of upgrades, but that could be sort of delayed,” Gates said. Because of differences with the previous versions of Windows, it could be a year or two after its release before computer users really pick up Longhorn, he said.

Asked if Microsoft would consider dropping some of the innovations it has planned so the product can come out sooner, Gates said no.

That means it’ll probably be 2005 before we see a final release of Longhorn on the shelves. Now, consider that people were supposed to move en masse to Windows XP as soon at it was released, but really ended up waiting a year or two. Then figure that MS is expecting people to put off the Longhorn upgrade for a couple of years, so the real wait will probably be even longer. Do a little math, and it’s looking like we won’t see mass adoption of Longhorn until 2008 or 2009. Get used to Windows XP. It’s going to be a long ride.

Of course, Red Hat 18 should be out by then, and who knows what they’ll have come up with since then. Look at the amount of progress in Linux desktops over the last five years. Now double that, or triple it, and you’ve got Linux in 2008. Stagnation in the Windows market might end up hurting MS as Linux keeps moving forward. We already know we’ll be stuck with IE6 for six more years. If another grassroot browser upgrade campaign does take off, Mozilla might have a chance to become more dominant as people stop making sites that work in only IE. Given enough time, and movement forwards in CSS2 and CSS3, people might actually start making sites that don’t work so well in IE. It’s already possible to do that now. Most advanced sites have to be dumbed down a little bit so IE doesn’t trip over them. A few years ago we were doing the same thing for Netscape 4. We finally gave up on that. In the same way that Netscape lost their lead by taking a few years off to rebuild the browser, Microsoft could be hurt by doing the same thing. And then by the time Longhorn does come out, with whatever kind of advanced browsing capabilities it’s supposed to have, it just might need to play a little game of catch-up in the web market.

Unless, of course, one of the “scary” things about Longhorn is that it tries to take web browsing in some new direction that will make Mozilla obsolete. But I can’t see that happening, or at least I can’t see it catching on with enough people to make it stick.

July 27, 2003

Back to the bathroom remodeling grind

Can’t get enough of installing drywall!

July 24, 2003

AOL Journals – Part Two

Part Two of my article/review of AOL Journals is now online. This is where we get down to the nitty-gritty and figure out how to actually use the thing. It covers suchs things as posting/editing entries, customizing the sidebars, and changing your options. There’s quite a few innovative things they did here, and quite a few things that seems like they were built by and for teenage girls. Standard fare for AOL, I guess. After a couple of days of using the service, my impression is the same as the bloggers who saw it earlier in the month. “This doesn’t suck!” That doesn’t mean people are going to be leaving Movable Type, though.