Vacationing In Sweden

Since I’ve worked for a charter company for a while now we’ve gone abroad to Spain, Greece or Turkey for the past decade or so. But given the current situation that wasn’t possible so we looked at around at some place to go in Sweden together with some friends. And we ended up with Daftö Resort – a camping resort on the west coast of Sweden which we hardly ever go to. So we booked a cabin from Thursday to Sunday and packed the car for a 6 hour road trip and off we went!

We made a quick stop in Mariestad to eat lunch and were happily surprised by the local restaurant “Kingfisher”, that Google suggested. Then some ice cream and off we went again.

Me and the wife in StrömstadWhen we arrived and tried checking in they looked at me like I was the town idiot. Which of course I was because we had booked Friday -> Monday! So there we were, outside Strömstad on the west coast with nowhere to stay! 4 calls later we had 2 rooms booked at a local “spa resort” which was a pretty damn good hotel. But they clearly didn’t care for the covid restrictions like “no hanging around the bars” so I wasn’t too comfortable there.

After spending the night there we went into Strömstad to explore what this coastal city had to offer. And there were some nice vistas and atmosphere and we even started fishing for some crabs down in the harbor. Not to eat though, just for fun!

PoolThen back to Daftö resort and we were allowed to checking and get comfortable in our rather large 8 person cabin. Unfortunately they had some covid restrictions here that mostly applied to how many people could be in the pool area at any given time but we managed to get a spot to get some pool action but you can clearly see that people weren’t too concerned about covid here. Safe to say I wasn’t jumping in when it looked like this!

Another covid thing was that they had shut down their little ammusement park which was really sad for our kids. Even though we had told them it was closed so they didn’t mind much but we knew how much more fun they would have had with there. But I fully support them not having it open given the current situation.

Crazy golfWhat was open was their crazy golf course. And it was really, really good. Nice designs and themes, well maintained and if it wasn’t for the queuing I’d say it was perfect. I wait, we were at the front of the queue all the time! Unfortunately the restaurants at Daftö left a bit to be desired but I guess for a camping site it’s ok – we all got something to eat and it wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t up to our standards of “going out”.

MirrorWe also got some time bathing in the sea and just kicking back in the cabin enjoying a few beers and I have to say that cabin was awesome – it had everything we needed and more (didn’t expect wifi!). We also tried some more restaurants in Strömstad and I can recommend the tapas restaurant “Il Toro” – but stick to the tapas. Not only was the tapas really good but the waiter even made a movie reference based off my wifes T-shirt that even I didn’t get, so kudos for that!

Then on Sunday it was time to pack up the cars and go back home. 6 hour drive back then unpacking and settling in to try to enjoy the F1 race from Silverstone. Which is hard since the Mercs are 1 sec faster than anyone else.

So that sums up our vacation for this year. Which was fun but also sad we didn’t do it more because our son really had fun without a computer!

When It Rains It Pours

I’m unfortunately not talking about that episode of Star Trek DS9 – it’s life in general right now. Not only is there a global pandemic that is crippling society and tanking our company and already caused my wife to lose her grandmother and her job.. now we got cancer in the family as well.

So now I’m gonna be one of those people who say – FUCK CANCER! Fuck it hard!!! Statistically it’s kind of amazing my family has been spared this long and I always assumed it would hit me because… well, not only am I the most expendable of the lot (in my opinion), I also live my life the least healthiest with all the chemical stuff I put in my body not to mention the red meat and then some lack of physical activities on top of that and sitting in front of a computer all day long, I thought it was a given! This fear is why I’m going to our local doctor so much and why I’ve have had two MRI scans in the past year. Both came back negative. But our luck had to run out.

We’re thinking of you and hoping for the best and let me know if there’s anything I can do!

This Corona Thing

So how are you handling this Corona thing?

Back in January even I thought China would manage to contain it. Neither the previous outbreaks had any major impact on life as I knew it. Even in the middle of the SARS outbreak I flew to Singapore without much hesitation because I had a job to do. But when we saw them building a hospital in what can only be described as panic I realised this would get out of hand. And boy did it ever!

But it didn’t take long for our CDC (“Folkhälsomyndigheten”, or “FOHM” for short) to tell people to work from home if possible. Which I gladly did and I’ve been to the office maybe four times in as many months. And working from home definitely has its challenges that I’ll make a separate post about. But I was still hoping it’d blow over rather quickly so we could all go back to normal but “little did I know” right…

In the middle of March my wife’s grandmother fell victim to our society’s failure to protect the elderly and she passed away which was a big shock to everyone because she was quite the iron lady and we thought that after a week of not getting worse that she’d pull through but unfortunately not.

So we, as in our family unit of 3, started doing our best to minimize the exposure. Not seeing as many people, not going out on many trips or excursions and staying home as much as possible. But the cabin fever of being home this much, especially when working from home, is rather intense and I’m so thankful that FOHM hasn’t instituted a lockdown in Sweden!

But by early April everyone realised how bad this situation was and all companies that were effected by this were allowed to give their employees a paid furlough – working from 20, 40, 60 or even 80% while retaining most of the salary. I wasn’t effected by this as I’m apparently that vital to our IT ops but most of my colleagues went down to 40% or less. And it also effected my wife’s work since people aren’t going out for coffee that much and B2B sales got hurt by everyone working from home so she went from working 5 days per week to 2. Which meant that for 3 days she was home while I was working from home which made it even more interesting.

In early June we finally got tested for antibodies which was negative so as it turns out, we just had the normal flu back in February.

Unfortunately that wasn’t sustainable and eventually there had to be downsizing. I survived the first round of layoffs but my wife didn’t so she’s soon out of a job. That sucks, not only because she’s unemployed but because this was a job where she worked with a product she loves – coffee.

But so far we’re in good health. Well more or less anyway, we’re not suffering from Covid at least. But I know 6 people that have had it and 3 of them are still suffering from fatigue, shortness of breath and heart arrhythmia, scary stuff to say the least so I’d rather sit this one out.

So right now we’re still doing the best we can in little family unit, limiting our exposure, shopping as much online as possible and trying not to go out unless we have to.

The Big Tenant-to-Tenant Migration

As you may know, I worked for the Nordic part of the Thomas Cook Group. I was the O365 admin for a tenant with over 30,000 user accounts. And we ran the Azure AD Connect service for the entire group and had just moved to pass-through authentication with Seamless SSO. Although it was a royal pain sometimes to work in such a large company where even a minor change could take weeks to implement and get approval for from everywhere.

As you may also know, Thomas Cook Group filed for bankruptcy in October last year. And there was no advanced warning or anything about what was going to happen next. But for our part, we realised that we would (if the company survived) most likely be moving our Nordic business to a new O365 tenant so we began planning for that. Over the next few months a lot of stuff happened. The Nordic part of the group was sold off and started their own company NLTG and the old group was shutting down all parts of their business. Except the German part because they were backed by their government so they survived (more on that later).

When we got back after the Christmas break we were given a clear order to evacuate the tenant before end of February. Since we were a separate company and legal entity we were no longer entitled to share the old tenant which, even though it makes sense, pretty much lit a torch under our asses to get this done now. And we realised it wouldn’t be a pretty or a smooth operation, as I recall saying, “this is going to take a sledgehammer, not a scalpel!”. Fortunately I’m very used to sledgehammer my way to getting results. Yeap, thinking back to that SharePoint upgrade that was all over the place!

So there we were, less than 8 weeks to pull off a migration with 3,000 users, 5,500 mailboxes, 10TB of SharePoint data, 8TB of OneDrive data and 12TB of Exchange data. And this is how it went…

Identities : The building block of any good tenant is the identities. When we first planned for the migration our plan was to have a new on-prem AD that would be fed by.. well that’s irrelevant since there was no time for that. The only way forward was to use our existing on-prem AD. But the problem was that MSFT doesn’t support syncing your on-prem identities to two tenants. Why? I have no idea – I fully get how you wouldn’t want that in a production environment (since the UPN domain can only be valid in one tenant) but for a migration like this it would have solved a lot of headaches if we were allowed to do it like that. But nope, we really wanted to have Microsoft support for this. And we also had to retain our e-mail domains since we’re heavily dependant on the brand which is almost as Swedish as Ikea, at least in Sweden. So that presented us with the first big problem – pre-populating the new tenant with 3,000 user objects so we could start copying the data and when it was time to migrate and then play around with the UPN domains so the matching would work. But the first step was creating the 3,000 users as cloud only “onmicrosoft” accounts. This was done using powershell to export as much info on the users as possible (including “usagelocation” and “preferredlanguages” since we’re an org with offices from Thailand to Mexico!) and then powershell to recreate the users as closely as possible. Another step we had to take here was setting up a filter in Azure AD Connect that would only sync users to each tenant depending on the value of an extensionattribute. That way we could make sure no user was synced to both tenants at any time, although it did take alot of tinkering to get that logic working but fortunately Microsoft have documented how to do attribute filtering, so thanks for that.

Authentication: Remember how I said we’d just gone over to PTA for the old tenant? Well this little thing meant that as long as users were logging in to the old tenant (which we knew the Germany company would) we couldn’t use PTA for our users since it’s all based around a computer object in the AD forest with a Kerberos encryption key that’s tied to the tenant! So if we set up PTA for our new tenant that would change the key on the computer object and they wouldn’t be able to login anymore! So to solve this we did a “quick and dirty” setup of a temporary AD FS for our users to use based on domain. This was a surprisingly easy thing to do in Windows Server 2019 but it was an added “gotcha!” of this entire scenario!

SharePoint : The first problem with SharePoint was to determine which sites were relevant to keep and which weren’t. Our entire SharePoint was well over 20TB so we had to make sure to only copy over sites we knew were relevant to the Nordics business. But there’s no way of determining that without going through all the underlying permissions and groups to determine if “our” users are working on the site or not. It’s not like you can ask SharePoint to “give me all the sites that any user with the UPN domain @domain.se is working on”. Or maybe there is, I just didn’t have the knowledge to write that powershell at the time. Once that was done we used ShareGate to migrate all the SharePoint data. The biggest fear was that it wouldn’t be able to match the old identities with the new ones – which it did! I’m pretty sure it went by “DisplayName” to match them but we’re just very very thankful it did because that would have been a mess to sort out. The biggest issue I had with ShareGate was how unpredictable it was when it came to doing incremental copies, which was done through powershell. We split it up on 4 different servers with about 80 sites per server. Sometimes it could complete them all in 2 hours, sometimes it took 8 hours for one server, sometimes longer. During the weekend of the actual move it took well over 12 hours to complete which caused me a bit of unnecessary stress.

OneDrive : Since we already had a pretty nice “masterlist” of users that we would be migrating it was pretty easy to setup a CSV file to map “Old OneDrive -> New OneDrive” that we then used ShareGate to copy. That went pretty nicely although there were some instances of data not being copied over so we had to sort that our after the switch and people were missing a few files. Other than that the issue was the same as above – it was very unpredictable and I had to mess around with the queues on the weekend of the switch. We had one incident of a users OneDrive being almost empty but looking back at the old OneDrive is was empty too. So our theory there is that his OneDrive client must’ve been paused so we had to send that computer to the lab for data recovery – but that’s not ShareGates fault one bit!

Exchange : Oh joy! I was in charge of the Nordics business moving from on-prem to Online 3 years ago so I wasn’t looking forward to another move at all. After doing a quick check around for what tool to use (with our extremely limited budget – our company had gone bankrupt and we were still getting back on our feets!). It ended up being CodeTwo which was by far the cheapest alternative. But as the saying goes “you get what you paid for” and in this instance we paid for a software to move data from Mailbox A in Tenant X to Mailbox A in Tenant Y. And it did that job without much of an issue. There were still a lot of things to sort out around the move (like transport rules, conference rooms) but the big issue was just moving all the data. The biggest issue I had with that software was that they didn’t have a CSV import function when moving tenant->tenant! When moving on-prem -> tenant that wasn’t an issue, but tenant -> tenant, well the only way to enter a mailbox was to actually manually enter a mailbox! So we spent days entering 5,500 mailboxes and matching them with their new mailbox. A simply CSV import would’ve saved us days of work on this. My next issue with the software was when we were up to about 800 mailboxes per server on 7 servers, that really slowed the UI down. At the end it was so slow that when you started a queue for a incremental copy the UI would stop responding and you didn’t even know it was working until it was done and it just popped alive again.

Teams: Now Teams was the most interesting bit. Because Teams is based on so many technologies it was difficult to do a proper Teams migration. No matter how far we looked we just couldn’t find a tool that would migrate Teams with the channel/chats that also took the entire underlying SharePoint site! If you had other document libraries or data on the SharePoint site, then that was lost if you migrated the Team. But if you migrated the SharePoint site you will have lost the data in Teams that wasn’t in the default document library! So we made the choice of migrating the SharePoint sites since noone should have have posted anything business critical in a chat in a channel in Teams. Fortunately ShareGate comes with the ability to recreate O365 groups so all the groups got recreated and we only had to make the ones that were Teams into Teams manually, that was it. But it was a bit of a “unexpected behaviour” for ShareGate when it came to legacy sites (that were migrated from on-prem) that now had an O365 group, it simply wouldn’t recognise them as O365 groups or O365 Group sites and created them as legacy sites in the new tenant regardless. But that was easy enough to handle afterwards.

Licenses: This was another headache but fortunately not mine! Since our old license agreement with Microsoft was tied to our old company we couldn’t use that. And since our company was brand new we had no credit score anywhere so Microsoft couldn’t just hand us 3,000 licenses and hope we’d pay. After a lot of back and forth we managed to get the licenses in place well enough to start the migration and begin copying all that data. But there was still the matter of support contract with Microsoft. There was alot of options floating around to try different support alternatives but in the end we agreed on a premiere support deal with Microsoft. Even though the paperwork got sorted and we were told on Friday January 31st that everything was done and we now had premiere support with MSFT it turns out that like a lot of things in O365, sometimes it can take a day or two for the wheels to turn and you’ll see how critical this became for us.

Additional headache: One headache we had was that we’re not only running a normal business, we’re also running an airline. And the pilots must be able to check their e-mail for any notices and warnings from the aviation authorities before takeoff. This may include stuff like “this aircraft model isn’t flight worthy so don’t fly this aircraft model” and “Iran just shot down a civilian aircraft, avoid their airspace”. Things like that is absolutely critical for the pilots to check for, so saying “e-mail will be down for a day” is completely unacceptable from that perspective. And we were supposed to retain all the e-mail domains, and a domain can only exist in one tenant at a time. So we had to figure out a way to handle this and move their accounts and e-mail domain as quickly as possible to avoid any flight delays because their e-mails isn’t working. (spoiler – their email was down for 90 minutes)

The plan: So the best plan we came up with was to start an incremental copy of all the SharePoint/OneDrive data first thing on the morning of Saturday February 1st. Then at about 18:00 CET we’d set automatic forwarding on everyone’s mailbox in the old tenant that would forward every mail to their new mailbox with the “onmicrosoft” address. That way we were guaranteed no mail would go missing in case of bad timings. Then we did an incremental copy of all mailboxes. We had done this in plenty of tests and it would only take 2 hours so we planned to start with the first most important domain for our airline at 21:00 CET, then when that was done continue with the largest domain we had (with about 800 users) and work our way through our list of about 10 domains.
The switch consisted of alof of steps since we weren’t allowed to sync an on-prem object to two tenants.

  • The first step was to change the UPN domain of the users on-prem to newtenant.onmicrosoft.com and let that sync to the old tenant. Since that domain didn’t exist in the old tenant that resulted in the user being given a oldtenant.onmicrosoft.com UPN domain which was crucial since we knew we would end up having to restore users from recycle bin, which would be problematic if they still had their old UPN domain which no longer was in the tenant.
  • The second step was removing them from sync in the old Azure AD Connect sync and changing the extensionattribute so it would sync to the new tenant. This resulted in all users being put into the recycle bin in the old tenant, and in the new tenant it would match everyone properly as long as the UPN matched perfectly for on-prem and in the new tenant. They were then automatically converted to “synced from on-prem” users in Azure AD.
  • Thirdly we removed the domain from the old tenant and added it to the new tenant. Even though this is a straight forward process when you’ve made sure all objects for that domain are changed so the domains aren’t in use, I feared this step the most since I’ve previously had alot of issues removing a domain like this. Then ofcourse we’d have to tell that domain to be federated so it would use ADFS.
  • Lastly we would change the UPN of the user back to their original UPN on-prem and let that sync to the new tenant which now had the new domain and everything was set.
    When we did this with our test domains (of about 20 users each) this entire process took an hour so we felt pretty comfortable we’d be done at about 3-4 on Sunday morning and then we’d get some sleep before the users woke up to check their phones only to see the “error signing you in” and they’d start calling.

But… “no plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force“.

How it played out: I woke up early on Saturday (at about 5) to start incremental copy of all the SharePoint / OneDrive data. Unfortunately Sharegate was a bit unpredictable in it’s behaviour so I had to move sites around in the queues to make it before 18:00 but make it I did. Then I ran the powershell to set the automatic forwarding and started the incremental copy of the mail. The team (4 engineers, 1 external SME/contractor and the project manager) met up at the office at about 20:00 in the evening for pizza and a last “go-no go” check for everything. And at 21:00 I started with our airline domain And by 22:30 it was all done, every user had the proper UPN, licens, login everything was good to go. And that’s when it started – the operations team in our airline said they couldn’t access their emails in the Outlook app on their phones or computers. We had ofcourse verified that it worked through the O365 portal so we knew everything worked. After troubleshooting this for about an hour we decided to log a Severity A case with Microsoft (at 23:30) and one of us would work on this case and the rest continue working with the other domains. That work with the other domains came to a halt for one of our largest domains which wasn’t removed from the ole tenant. No user had it in their UPN, no recipient used the domain, nothing. But the domain never got deleted, it was stuck in “pending”. So another severity A case to Microsoft (at about 00:30) and we proceeded with the next domain. At about 02 in the morning that domain did eventually go away by itself and we thought everything was good when our airline operations team (who’s responsibility it is to keep the planes flying, so I have the utmost respect for them and their challenges!) wanted us to do a rollback and try again at a later date. We spent about an hour with them arguing than a rollback wouldn’t solve this issue and we didn’t have time to try again next week since we had to evacuate the old tenant. Another argument was that this is a client issue and the mails are accessible through the web and we can get Microsoft to solve the client issue after. Fortunately we were able to convince them to proceed but now we’re at 03 int he morning and I had been working for 22 hours straight and I had no energy left in me so I tried sleeping for a bit. After 2 hours I woke up to cheers because now the Outlook clients in our airlines started to work so the biggest issue we had was solved and we could keep on with the remaining few domains.
At about lunch on Sunday morning we were all done with all domains and users and started to do the clean up job of on-prem systems no one knew about that had a EWS configured to the old tenant that no longer worked etc and that continued for days.

So where was Microsoft in this? As I mentioned our premier support deal with them got activated on the day before the switch. But that hadn’t replicated to all systems and instances of those systems in Microsoft so there was a big challenge even to get them to accept a SevA case from us. But we had two cases that managed to register as SevA cases with them during this switch and they weren’t helping us with either of them. The first case was regarding Outlook clients no longer being able to connect. Many blogs on many sites on the Internet says “when moving to a new tenant this may take a few hours”. In our case we were already up to hours and when creating new users we were able to connect to them immediately, but not the ones that had been switched and we didn’t see a reason why. This started to resolve itself after about 6 hours. And it wasn’t thanks to Microsoft doing anything on their side because they called me at about 5:30 on the sunday morning to say “sorry but we still haven’t been able to find any engineer to work on this case”. The other case we had with them was regarding the domain that wasn’t getting deleted. The called back on that issue also after it was resolved to ask us to verify the domain name because according to what they were seeing the domain was no longer in the old tenant so they obviously hadn’t done anything on their end in that case either.

Lessons learned:

  • Powershell and CSV files rule! If we didn’t have the proper master files for data information this would have been alot more difficult.
  • Switching over 1,000 mailboxes from on tenant to another actually does take up to 6 hours for all of Exchange Online to know what hit it so the clients can connect again.
  • Azure AD Connect is very powerful and “smart” in how it matches users.
  • Information and user communication and support is vital for this! In our case we started informing right away it was coming and we had staffed up extra support on the monday to get our business up and running after this big switch and that was really needed.
  • You can get away with buying cheaper “off the shelf” products rather than more expensive products but expect to have to work around their flaws and shortcomings. Do you want to pay twice the amount for a more expensive solution or sacrifice a few days work for your staff for manual work?
  • Test-test-test and test again just to be sure.

I Finally Saw “Bohemian Rhapsody” – And This Is My Problem With It

I don’t consider myself a huge Queen or Freddie Mercury fan – I was unfortunately too young in the 80’s for that. But I do love their music! I don’t think there’s any other band that have more songs that I love than Queen, not even ABBA. And I love 80’s music in general. So when there was talks about a Freddie Mercury / Queen movie I loved the idea of it but I was always sceptical any actor would be able to do a good Freddie. And when Rami Malek, who is awesome in Mr. Robot, was cast I was even more sceptical. Then the movie came out with all kinds of great reviews. But it took me this long to actually take the time away from work and everything in life to go and see it.

And I liked it. I liked it a lot! I even liked Rami as Freddie, he obviously did a lot of research on the moves and Freddie’s style. And with the sunglasses it was actually a very good resemblance. And since I’m not that big a fan that I know all stories and band-moments it’s difficult to know how much of the movie is factually correct but since both Roger Taylor and Brian May were credited as producers (and yes I even spotted their cameos) I guess it can’t be too far off the truth. And I know they took a lot of liberties with the timeline so they could build up the Live Aid show as the movie’s crescendo and Freddie’s redemption, I’m all ok with that. I mean I love Braveheart even though it has more holes than Al Powell’s car at Christmas.

So what was my problem with it? Two words – “false” and “advertisement”.

In the press material for the movie and on the poster there is this image:

And that is indeed an iconic photograph of Freddie at Wembley. But it was taken at their concert in July 1986 – a concert I happen to think is one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen (even though I’ve only seen it on DVD), even including the concerts I’ve actually seen live this one takes the gold. But as I wrote – the movie’s crescendo and ending is the Live Aid concert in 1985, one year earlier. So this poster is for an event that happened after the movie’s ending and never appears in the film! That’s most definitely false advertisement.

But if you know me, if that is my only gripe with the movie, then it’s a pretty damn good movie 🙂

Too Old For Concerts !!

Me and the wife celebrated 10 years a few months back. And one of the things I had planned was going to see Ed Sheeran in Stockholm since she likes his music and the timing was pretty good. So I made sure to be there when tickets went up for sale last year and got two tickets and last Saturday was the day of the concert. And the result was … we’re too old for this!!

First of all, entry was at 6:30. I made jokes “the guy probably isn’t gonna go on until 9!”. I was wrong – he went up about 8:40 so off by 20 minutes. So spending 2 hours listening to pre-show / opening stuff is “as intended” I guess? And whoever organised the event should have planned a bit better and planned for the roof to be open for the event as it’s July!! The temperature was about 35 degrees in there by the end of the night. And after the concert there was a traffic mayhem to get out of there because they had blocked off most streets which congested everything. So instead of the usual 20 minutes from MoS -> home it took us about 1 1/2 hours.
“Well, what about the show itself”? .. well I’m not a big fan of his, even though I enjoy some of his songs and lyrics. I compared it to going to the movies to see a romantic comedy – It’s wouldn’t be my first choice, but I’ll do it with the wife and I’m bound to get at least some enjoyment out of it! But this show was really different than what I expected. The guy even tried rapping a few times! And no sign of Supermarket Flowers either.

But my biggest issue was the volume. I know, I know, concerts are loud. But this was way well beyond “loud”. I already have tinnitus on my right ear thanks to me underestimating the volume at a Röyksopp / Moby concert back in 2002. So I made sure to buy earplugs before the concert to try to make sure that didn’t happen again. And my ear is still ringing!! I honestly don’t get where the enjoyment is when the music is so loud it hurts my ears even with earplugs !? Yes, you want to feel the bass in your chest but I get that from my home cinema that never gave me a ringing in my ear! It just makes no sense!! Even in between songs when he was talking it was so loud I couldn’t hear what he was saying half the time. And this is completely accepted and expected today!? I really don’t get it!!!

The one good thing I can say is I was impressed that he handled the stage alone in front of 50 000 people superbly and his way of creating musical loops with his pedals was quite funny and unexpected. And I liked it!

SharePoint Upgrade From Hell

This is going to be a wall of text. And 99% of the people I know aren’t even interested. But I’m writing this on behalf of every other SharePoint admin out there who are unfortunate enough to discover just how easy SharePoint is to break!

Little background: I’ve been working with SharePoint since about 2005. Not that long for some but long enough to know that after a few years of use a SharePoint farm has a few quirks in it and it’s a good idea to upgrade it. And you never upgrade an existing farm, you always start with a new fresh one and import all data! Now one of my jobs (!) is managing a 30k user corporate SharePoint – a business critical solution since all documentation are in there. And not only that, our entire BI solution is in there as well, complete with “PowerPivot” and “Reporting Services for SharePoint”… No pressure!

So now it was time to upgrade it from SP2013/SQL2014 to SP2016/SQL2016, including all BI solutions. We’ve gone through a “dev” environment, a “test” environment and even a “preprod” environment and everything went surprisingly well. There was ofcourse the usual glitches getting the BI features to work (and the S2S cert trust that is required for Excel with data source connection files now that Excel service moved out of SP to OOS!). But anyway, the preprod farm was so great that the plan was to take it into production. Our BI team didn’t see a big problem doing that in an afternoon on a weekday, whereas for me the biggest problem was the 1.5TB of data that needed to be shuffled and upgraded. And “even the best laid plans”, you know. I also knew that one of the biggest issue was network infrastructure which for a global company is so complex that the best way forward was to swap IP addresses of the servers so we wouldn’t have to change DNS or static IP routes anywhere, we’d just solve it at the load balancer level. So I managed to get a whole Saturday from the business to have SharePoint offline, but no more. After all, all documentation is in there!

That Saturday was last Saturday April 14th. I got up at 4am to start shuffling the data. By 7 that was done and I started upgrading the database with the normal “mount-spcontentdatabase”. Here was my first mistake (in hindsight). I had already written a script to do this, but that’ll come later. By 10 everything was loaded, upgraded and I proceeded to change IP addresses around and change it in the load balancer, then go through my long list of checks that normal user SP functionality works while our BI team were updating all of their things.

After lunch we had a “go/no-go” meeting and everything looked good. I also noticed at this point I had a case to create a new SharePoint site for a project, something I actually hadn’t tested since that’s not a “normal user SP functionality”. And that’s when the shit hit the fan! What I had missed thanks to my scripting was that one of the content databases had failed to upgraded and was now corrupt and when I wanted to create a new site it did it in that database since it was the “least used” and hence the error. “No problem, plan a) I’ll just delete this database”, right? Nope, SharePoint wouldn’t have it because the database wasn’t attached since it was corrupt. Yet I could see the sites in that database listed with get-spsite?

Tried a few things but couldn’t recover so I decided plan b) remove the web app and create a new and re-import/re-mount this corrupt DB, all other DB’s were already upgraded successfully so not a big operation. Well, SharePoint wouldn’t have that either – it couldn’t dismount this database because it was corrupt so I couldn’t remove the webapp! I was completely stuck with a broken web app that I couldn’t remove because of a content database that wasn’t mounted?!

So plan C) rename that webapp with the corrupt database and give it a nonsense URL so I could create a new web app with the proper URL. That seemed to work but when I tried importing a new backup of this content DB it didn’t import any of the site collections! .. digging around I could see that the sites in the broken webapp, with the new nonsense URL, still had the original URL! It couldn’t update them because… there was no content DB attached to them! I dug around in SharePoint Manager (which was designed for 2013 I know) but it kept crashing when I clicked any of the sites in the broken webapp.

So there I was with a broken web app with a corrupt contentdb with sites occupying the URL I needed to create our proper web app. Came to the conclusion that the config db was pretty much fucked at this point at now we’re at 2pm. Best option available to me at this point was calling Microsoft premiere support case with a severity A case. I’m pretty sure if I had gone for that they would have looked at it, made the same determination as me and said “since this is a farm not yet in production, I’d say the best way forward is to recreate the farm”. During that time our BI would be in SharePoint 2016 but the “big” web app in 2013 on separate IP addresses! God knows how the network would handle that and getting the engineers in India to change firewall routes in less than a week wasn’t that likely. Because rebuilding a new farm in production would take at least a week, right?…


After clearing it with my supervisor that this was indeed the best way to solve it NOW! All other options led to some unknown hellhole – going back was always a possibility no matter what.

I got a green light and Red Bull at about 3pm …

 

  • SP Product Config Wizard to detach all server from the farm
  • delete all databases from SQL except all the (successfully) upgraded content DB’s
  • thank myself for having saved all of the “AutoSPInstaller” response files
  • create a dummy web app to upgrade the corrupt DB (no way I’m doing that in the proper web app again!)
  • eat the food my awesome wife brought me
  • recreate all webapps
  • restore all content DB at about 1.5TB
  • upgraded the service apps

Basically I had done at least a weeks work in 7 hours and all in production environment!

The “Done!” mail got out at 9pm! Now I’m not one to brag, but any SharePoint admin must be impressed by that! Hell, even Scotty would be proud! I spent a few hours on Sunday cleaning up the mess and sorting out the BI issues (since this was a new farm there were a lot of BI configuration that was lost) but by Sunday 6pm everything was fully operational and I promptly went to be and slept like a baby. And one of the first things to hit me on Monday morning was “why is Managed Metadata empty” because yeah, in my haste I forgot that little thing ?

How was your weekend?

It’s Been 10 Years!!

It’s been 10 years since me and my wife met. It’s been an unexpected ride that I’m incredibly happy I took a chance on!

Wind back the clock about 10 years and I was living very happily alone (but not lonely!) in my apartment in Visättra. My life was computer games (mostly WoW), movies, TV, F1 and my family in Nynäshamn. And the job at the lawfirm. Everything was great and I didn’t feel like I needed a girlfriend or live with some other person, I had way too many “special” habits to live with another person for long especially a girl. But I was still signed up to some dating sites and had the odd date or two. But then a mail dropped in through Parship from this chick who I just loved the way she wrote and expressed herself, she was funny, she was honest and open and the “straight to the point” kind of person I can really dig. So we set a date after work, hooked up and just walked around in Stockholm for a while, only stopping quickly to grab a coffee. Then I tried kissing her goodbye (DENIED!) and off she went. But I felt and knew this was something special so when I got home that night I ordered her flowers. Nice and romantic right? It was my way of saying “I don’t mind getting turned down for a kiss, I really dig you and I wanna meet again”. Little did I consider the fact that she works in “logistics”, which is a very male dominated area so when her male co-workers saw she got flowers the day after she’d been on a first date they jumped to conclusions! Anyway, a few days later she decided (without telling me!) to test how allergic I was to her cats by inviting me home to her place! Fortunately for me it wasn’t a big problem and after passing that test we went to see a terrible movie (“Jumper”) and made out a bit. And then we met a a few days a week but eventually I felt it was “do or die” and moved in with her after only 6 months. Yeah, I know, crazy but that’s how perfect this relationship felt. And 4 months after that we signed on for a house together. And 3 months after that we were pregnant. And the hits kept on coming!

It’s been a few lows here and there but as I see this has gone way better than I could have hoped for and I can just hope it keeps going that way because I’m having a blast!

Last weekend we had booked a room at the B&B at “Kastellet” at Vaxholm. That’s an old fortress on a very small island. It was used to fend off invaders in the archipelago but now it’s mostly a tourist site. But because of the extreme weather we had in Sweden last week there wasn’t anyone there during the weekend. At all! Not even the staff who had given us the code and put out the key for us for a room. So we had the entire place to ourselves! And it was absolutely amazing!!

So here’s hoping for another awesome 10,20, 30 or even 40 years!!

NASA. Again.

K mår bättre än bra

Yeah, I don’t know why but NASA has a special place in my heart. Maybe cause I’m a tech nerd, a scifi geek or just like to have my shit together, or maybe it’s some visionary part of me I don’t know I have but I just love it. In everything from fictional NASA in “Contact” to proper NASA in “From the Earth to the Moon” it’s an inspiration. That’s one of the reasons I made a point at going to Kennedy Space Centre when I was in Florida and one of the reasons that trip was an awesome success to me. And one of the reasons I didn’t have a problem opening up my wallet in the gift shop!

And yesterday I saw the movie/documentary “Mission Control” – about those 20-something engineers that made up the mission control team. I really recommend catching it on Netflix or renting it on bluray cause it’s awesome. One of the things that surprised me was the interview with one of the engineers who was there in the trench for a lot of the Apollo missions, even the moon landing, that said he regretted doing it because of the toll it took on his family! I mean, it’s one of the things I can only dream of doing so hearing that makes you wonder what really is important – making a mark in history or being with your family.

Another NASA “merchandise” I can recommend is the book “View From Above” by austronaut and “photographer in space” Terry Virts. You can get it from Amazon or something but it’s well worth it. Not only because of the awesome pictures that makes you feel tiny and insignificant but also because of the stories he has to tell.

Being a Gamer Sucks Right Now. Hard!

How can I make that statement this of all years, when the best Assasins Creed “in years” launched, best “Star Wars” game ever, sequal to “Shadow of Mordor”, a WWII “Call of Duty” and oh so many other great titles come out!? Well, bare with me…

You know I’ve always been a gamer, right? Ever since my dad dragged home the first “portable” computer in the 80’s and we were playing that terrible olympic Decathlon game, through the Commodore series (VIC20 -> C64 -> Amiga) all the way up till now, I’ve always played computer games. Never been much for consoles though but that’s a different story. And playing games have been pretty much the same for most of that time. But when “World of Warcraft” launched back in 2004 it was… a subscription!? $60 to buy the game plus $10 per month!? Well they pushed out content on content so I thought that was ok. Think I paid about $1300 for “World of Warcraft” all in all. That was for over 10 years of entertainment, pretty sweet deal if you ask me!

And being a Blizzard fanboy I’ve gone through their “Heroes of the Storm” and “Overwatch” too. One thing I never really liked about those games was the lootboxes. I didn’t mind it much, I even bought a HotS lootbox pack once, but I can’t say I liked it. But in Overwatch it was always just skins which made it more ok than in HotS when it was actual characters you needed. But I never actually bought HotS for $60 so still fine (I’ll give them a pass on the D3 AH because they took it down and said “our bad”). Then there’s been “gold edition” of games and DLC packs and stuff like that that ads value over time, but it’s always been optional.

But now it’s just getting a bit much. Like most other gamers out there I am so very frustrated at the new schemes coming out of Ubisoft, Activision and most of all EA. Ubisoft has had “cosmetic” items for purchase a while for both “Assasins Creed” and “Division” but nothing more than that. Now it’s changing and it’s affecting gameplay! The most recent and extreme example of this is Battlefront II. With their way of pushing lootboxes on consumers I absolutely won’t be paying $60 for that game! Maybe I’ll pick it up next year on Black Friday sale, I dunno, but paying $60 for game where I have to grind grind and grind to even play characters that should be there out of the box?! Or you can buy lootboxes for more money! Really!? And then EA releases Need for Speed with… “speedcards” that you can fast-progress by buying lootboxes! Another game I was absolutely planning to already be playing was the new Mordor game (“Shadow of War”). But oh no, they had to go ruin that game too with in game store to buy Orcs. Yeah, buy Orcs in a game for real money!

And they even have the balls to call it “microtransaction”, you know like the “micrtransaction” for a Android app that cost like $1? No, because here we’re talking about getting 20 lootboxes for $60 – as much as the f*cking game costs! And don’t come with any “but games have been $60 for ages now!” because yeah, they have, and have the profit of any publisher gone down because of that? No, they’ve made more and more money every year! Look at “Cuphead” that cost like $20 which is turning out to be one of the best games all year! No, games don’t have to cost $100 million to make! You don’t have the PR push it that bad if it’s good enough, you don’t have to have 1000 song in the music library like GTA!!

What makes this even worse is that in some of these cases you’re not even buying the thing you want – your paying FOR A CHANCE at the thing you want! You may get the Orc you want, but you may end up with nothing. You may get the power up for your Heavy stormtrooper, or you might get a silly emote! It’s gambling and feeding on addiction and it’s loathsome and everyone should be ashamed of it. I know I am and I’m not even buying or playing those games! The irony is that Battlefront 2 is made by DICE – a Swedish studio. And the government in Sweden are pretty strict when it comes to gambling. Pretty strict as in “only government run gambling is allowed!”. Yeah, someone should maybe look into this! (and not the ESRB, that’s like Donald Trump saying his son is a good person!)

The last game I bought was Assasins Creed Origin which came out a few weeks ago. And so far I haven’t run into much lootboxes or “pay to get this über gear” yet, if you don’t count the gold edition addons. But looking at the horizon, I have no idea what I’m actually willing to buy even though there are plenty of games I should love to buy and play but my moral compass really gets in the way.

Fortunately people are rising up and raging against the machine. Just youtube “lootboxes” and you’ll find tons of videos on the topic. Or you may have seen the news that EA’s reply on reddit regarding Battlefront 2 progression is the most “thumbs down” comment ever on reddit?

Microsoft Ignite Conference

Lobby of OCCC South

The whole reason I went to the US was to attend the Microsoft Ignite conference. It’s an annual conference Microsoft has where they reveal a lot of new stuff they are either launching or working on and have sessions and workshops. Our company sends 2-3 people to that conference but since the ticket, hotel and flight (not to mention the time from doing actual work) the cost goes up quite a lot for the company. This year I got to go for the first time as kind of reward for good working migrating to Exchange Online. My cloud-colleague Michael also got to go but unlike me he knew some Swedish consultants that were also going so we could hang with them when we’re not at the actual conference. After an initial scare it was going to be called off thanks to Hurrican Irma we were ready to go!

And it really was fortunate that we were the ones to go since sooooo many of the sessions and talk was about Office 365, Azure and the cloud! It was really hard to find sessions that talked about on premises stuff but I managed to go to a few! The event started officially on Monday morning with a vision keynote by Satya, the CEO of Microsoft and had a bit of this and that in it.

Trying to get the new about OneDrive

After that it was a technical keynote of the digital workplace and then it was just one “breakout” session after another. I think I attended a total of 20 sessions in total and almost got overloaded with information. I used my cellphone to take photos of some presentation slides to remember what that session was about and what we’d covered in what sessions!

Another great thing about these events is that you meet the people who are actually working on the other side – when I’m freaking out over the bad SharePoint Online admin center “well that guy right over there is the program manager of that, go talk to him”. Which I did. “Well you’ll glad to know we’re working on version 2, mail us and we’ll get you into the preview”. Done and done! And seeing some really pros at doing presentations, like Anne Michels who constantly made jokes on her expense (and sometimes even Mr. Michels).

And on Thursday evening Microsoft had “rented” the entire Universal Studios Orlando theme park for us! All you can eat, drink and ride all evening long! That was certainly an experience since we don’t have anything close to these theme parks in Sweden! We have plenty of amusement parks, but no theme parks, certainly not like this where you can walk into Jurassic Park and have a dinoburger!

Then friday was kind of winding down and collecting thoughts and writing reports on what I’ve learnt and then on Saturday the long trek back to Stockholm began. I checked in at the airport at about 2pm on Saturday and passed through customs in Stockholm at about 1pm on the Sunday.

But all in all it was an absolutely awesome experience and conference to attend for me. The downside was of course being away from my family for 8 days, that really felt long in the end. My and the wife have never been away from each other for that long since we moved in together 8 years ago!

Visiting Kennedy Space Center

KFC monument för JFK

I’ve always been a NASA-fanboy. I’m the guy that won’t ever say no to seeing Apollo 13 for the 500th time, or will sit through “From the Earth to the Moon” over and over again. And as a Trekker I’m loving the “exploration” theme and drive over there. The very human need for exploration and need to know what’s out there. So when I planned the trip, going to Kennedy Space Center was one of the musts. Fortunately my traveling companion Michael shared that need so along with a few fellow IT nerds we rented two cars and sat out to drive over there.

SpaceX byggnad & launchpad

We went on the “explorer tour” which gave us a trip around the cape and the launch sites of missions past but also the SpaceX stuff going on there now. We had a great tourguide Kurt who was totally right man for the job! Perfect amount of geekiness but also wanting to share that geekiness everywhere. He was amazing!

After that 2 hour ride we were dropped of a the Saturn station (or whatever it was called) which was just this huge museum for the Apollo program! I completely geeked out there, running around photographing every mission banner there was and every little thing! After a quick lunch we set off back to the Visitor center where they had a Atlantis museum which was an awesome 3-stage display climaxing in a reveal of the actual space shuttle Atlantis! Completely geeked out again! Like a kid in a candy store on Christmas!! Then it got really emotional! I still don’t know why I get all somber up and even tear up at it, but at the end of the exhibit was the Challenger and Columbia memorials.

We spent a total of 7 hours there and I could’ve stayed a while longer! Absolutely one of the best experiences of my life. My only regret is that my wife and son wasn’t there to share it or see me get that excited about it.

Then we went to what these IT nerds who have been here a few times before thought was the greatest steakhouse ever – Morton’s. To sum it up and as my wife could say – I could’ve done more for less. I mean, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t all that and it was a pretty pretentious restaurant. But at least the company was good.

All in all a really great day!!

Coming to America

If you’ve followed this blog long enough or have heard me ranting you may know I’m not that big of a fan of US of A. And not only because of their most recent choice of president although that hasn’t helped. But a few months ago my supervisor asked me if I wanted to go to Microsoft Ignite. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a huge convention that Microsoft holds once a year in USA. It’s their greatest week of the year when they release a lot of new stuff for our techies and declares their visions for the future.

At first I didn’t know if I even wanted to go since it would mean actually going to the US. The only time I’ve been here before was when I went to Guatemala and had to pass security when going from one international terminal to another so I’ve never actually sat foot on their soil. But much like 14 years ago when I was asked to work on the project for the state department my initial feeling was “I don’t want to leave my comfort zone”. But realizing that.. I had to accept! After making sure my wife was OK with it I signed up. Fortunately a colleague of mine is also attending so I won’t be alone. And he has a lot of friends in the consultancy business so we’ll be hanging out with them. And there’s always the big “Swedes only” party to go to.

Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida

Then hurricane season began and when I saw the footage on CNN from Orlando, where the convention is happening, it made me doubt they could pull it off, getting all stuff ready for a convention of this size in less than 2 weeks. Fortunately that wasn’t a problem and MS announced well in time that everything was good to go.

So on Saturday my wife dropped me off at Arlanda, we kissed good bye and I went off through security checkpoint to start my journey… and flight delayed!! Some part of the plane broke and they had to fly in a new one from Copenhagen (which I believe is airliner talk for “the crew wasn’t allowed to fly anymore because if union rules and we had to fly in a replacement crew). So about 3 hours later (plus one free beer!) we lifted of for Newark airport at New York. After passing through security, customs, security, passport check, customs, security and a tram between the terminals we arrived at the new gate with about 2 hours to spare. We were supposed to have a 6 hour wait, but 3 hours late departure plus all those lines meant we only got 2. And that was plenty because unfortunately Newark airport is something out of the 70’s. It really does need a fix up! Then we went for a bite to eat but when I went to the food court I got this familiar smell of deep fry oil from my days working at a fast food restaurant so my heart told my body I don’t want to eat here. So I didn’t. Fortunately my metabolism goes down, way down, on airplanes to it really wasn’t a problem!

The New York skyline, all the way from Newark

Then onto that airplane that was gonna take us to Orlando in Florida. And when we were supposed to lift off we hadn’t even left the gate yet. The captain announced they had to reboot the plane! I shit you not, it was a literal “have you tried turning it off and on again”-moment!! But it actually worked and off we went. Slept all the way!

After arriving something happened that has never happened in all my travels – my luggage was already waiting for me!! I think there was a mixup in Newark and the flew my baggage out on the flight 2 hours before ours, which goes totally against international regulations of not allowing a bag onto the plane without it’s owner! But I didn’t complain, we went out to grab a cab… and no! Not a cab in sight! Another first for all of my travels, an airport with no cabs! We only had to wait 15-20 minutes for one but they are usually lined up!

So, off to the hotel and sleep ahead of the new days travel to Kennedy Space Center. I’m hoping I’ll get to post about that soon, but I’m actually here to work so not sure when I’ll have the time for that!

Valerian

I’m a huge fan of Luc Besson. Big fan! “Léon” is one of my favorite movies of all time! “Fifth Element” is right up there too. “Metro” is a classic, Nikita, Taxi, Big Blue, Transporter, Taken, Jean D’Arc, so many damn great movies! But he’s also done a few that I wasn’t a big fan of but can’t blame him for that 🙂

So when I saw the first trailer for “Valerian” I got really stoked! I mean really stoked. Like so stoked that I can’t even talk myself out of it, which I usually do because I hate going out of the movies disappointed.

I was not disappointed. It was awesome! I would like to give it all 5 elements but there were two things that put me off. 1) The translation to Sweden was bad. Yeah I know, I can’t hold Luc Besson responsible for that but I do hold the movie company responsible! Not that I need Swedish subtitles – but if you’re going to do it do it right, because this was terrible. 2) Dane DeHaan that plays the lead character didn’t feel right for the role. The character was supposed to have been in the military and seen stuff, like Korben Dallas in Fifth Element. Instead he looks and even acts like he’s the one that makes the other guys say “was I that young when I joined”! But apart from that – awesome! And yeah, SF Filmstaden Scandinavia delivers in VIP again!

What I was mostly impressed with was the CG and the visuals! They were absolutely amazing! It even got to the point were I didn’t know if it’s computer generated or if it was makeup or what was going on, I love that! Music was awesome, although missing that kick ass diva song!

So here’s hoping for more and judging by the amount of source material that shouldn’t be too hard 🙂

Star Wars – Rogue One

I finally did it! I finally saw “Star Wars Rogue One”. Or “Star Wars Episode 3.9” as I’d call it! As a huge fan of the original triology I was definitely looking forward to seeing it but for one reason or another (one being my son’s refusal to see a movie he wasn’t allowed by the authorities to see!) it never happened when it was playing in the cinemas. And I certainly didn’t want to see a low quality “grabbed from the internet” version of the movie.

First off – spoiler warning! There are some spoilers below so don’t go there unless you’ve already seen the movie or don’t care about having it spoilt!

All in all – I was positively surprised at how good it was! I don’t know why but my expectations weren’t that great, probably because Episode VII was such a disappointment. But this one was really, really good.

And if you know me well enough you know one thing I love is continuity! Screwing up, or even ignoring continuity, can get me to dislike an otherwise good movie or TV show. Or in the case of Babylon 5 absolutely love a TV show that really isn’t that great once you remove the 5 story arc. And in this case most continuity I felt was acceptable, as expected there were tons of great references to Episode IV – one of the smaller ones being Bail Organa saying he’s going back to Alderaan and I spontaneously scream “don’t do it!!”. The other thing being the lengths they went to to have Tarkin and Leia in this movie when neither was actually in it! (there were ofcourse other characters that were “brought back” from the original triology, like Mon Mothma)

But another pitfall of trying to adhere to continuity is you can’t create characters or major plots without.. well, killing them before the end of the movie. And I’m sorry if this spoils it for the people that haven’t seen it but when they have a rebel meeting about wether to extract the Death Stars plan you can just go around the table and you know, based on who’s in Episode IV, who’s going to make it back alive! So in that way you kind of knew how the ending was going to be. And to my surprise they did the un-Hollywoodian (is that even a word!) thing and stuck with it!

And regarding Tarkin and Leia who were both computer generated faces superimposed on other actors.. I don’t know why the brain is so god damn good at it but you definitely saw that there some something “off” about their faces. Most notably Leia, even though it was just a few seconds and one line you saw that it wasn’t quite right. Great that they tried but it seems like an impossible task because the brain is just too good at face recognition for it to work.

Now – Darth Vader… well what can you say about Darth Vader… the problem with this movie is that the “original trilogy Darth Vader” was tall, imposing but not one for the front lines and certainly not a killing machine. That would have been more a Darth Vader from Episode 3.2 or something. But this movie ends a few days, maybe even hours, ahead of the first scene in Episode IV. But the original Darth Vader sent in his troops and never went in first himself, both the boarding in Episode IV and invasion of Hoth showed that. So ending it with a Darth Vader killing machine, even though it was cool as hell, didn’t really line up with the first scene of Episode IV. And it felt just .. misplaced somehow. But even though I’m a sucker for continuity I have to say that it was so damn cool that I’m gonna forgive that because sometimes rule of cool wins 🙂

Selling The Old Car or Beware of “vikoperdinbil.se”

So now that we have our new car we begin the task of selling off our old car. We’ve tried selling off old cars ourselves before and it’s never ended well. I expect too much professionalism for that when we’re talking about this much money and I’ve always ended up with the complete opposite so I didn’t want to go the private route. Even though it means getting less I wanted to sell it to a dealer who could do the work. After trying out different “what’s my car worth” sites I ended up trying out a company called “Vi Köper Din Bil” (“we buy your car”) with the website “vikoperdinbil.se”. I’m typing it there because my hopes are anyone googling it will see this and stay away!!

On their website you simply enter the model, make, year and mileage of your car and they will guestimate it’s worth. For our Seat Leon they guestimated about 112.000:- “plus any extra options” which we had plenty of on that car. That’s about half of what we paid for it three years later but sounded ok. I mean the “street value” of the car would be 130.000:- but they needed a cut of that so ofcourse I couldn’t get that. But based on that estimate I made an appointment to take my car in to get a proper go-through and evaluation. I took time off work, I cleaned the car, loaded her up with the summer tyres and coordinated with the wife to come pick me up afterwards. But at the station they went through it (and didn’t find anything wrong with it at all), sent everything off to their expert who came back with an offer. 90.000:-! That’s 22.000 less, or more accurately 22% less, than their gustimate which included the comment “plus any extra options”!

Their business strategy is pretty obvious – give customers an optimistic guestimations and then when they’ve take the time and make the effort of going into their station they can just slash 20% off that and some people will go for it. Or “lockpriser” as we say in swedish. Real estate agents are given warnings whenever they are caught using tactics like that but for cardealers this is totally acceptable?! Even going through their own “what our customers think of us” turns up a gem where a guy says that he was happy even though they slashed 20% off the initial guestimate! There are also plenty of reviews on Trustpilot against them for this tactic!

Naturually I said “get the fuck out of here!” and left on the spot. So beware of “vikoperdinbil.se” unless you’re ready to get an offer about 40.000:- less than the street value. How do I know that? Well my option B was to take it to the authorized Seat dealer in Täby. They gave us 110.000:- for it and put it up for sale for 130.000:- and in 3 days the ad was taken down!

Buying a new car – how hard can it be? Part III

[Previously on the blog – me and the wife wanted to buy a new car and ordered an Audi A5 for 492.000 SEK and it was delivered in late February but only after wondering if this was their first car delivery ever!]

Now that was 3 weeks ago. And in those three weeks unfortunately enough has happened to make me say “I won’t go back there again”.

Not only because of the reasons I’ve already listed (1) them telling us to go away from the business section in a rather rude manner, 2) the unprofessional way of handling the tyre situation 3) noone informed us of the deposit we had to make before we got there) but as it turns out they made even bigger mistakes – one huge mistake during the ordering process and two pretty big mistakes with the delivery.

When delivering an Audi, the representative is supposed to help you sign up to the myAudi account and tie your car to that account. Nope, didn’t happend! Fortunately I know my way around Internet and websites but it led me to the next big issue. They also failed to inform us that the little plastic badge on the set of keys we got was actually very, VERY valuable since it had a PIN to enable remote access of the car! Without this I couldn’t use the electronics I paid for and selling it would be pretty damn hard! Fortunately we hadn’t thrown that little plastic thing in the bin yet but at no point did we think it was something we needed to keep! But the major f*ck up was discovered when we were loading up the car with some kids and realised this model didn’t have 3 seatbelts in the back, only 2!!! I didn’t even know that was possible but apparently it’s an extra option for Audi that costs a mere 3.600 SEK! Had the original salesguy informed us about that we would absolutely have clicked it. But he didn’t so now we’re stuck with a car that only has 4 seatbelts! This was a dealbreaker when we started this (one of the reasons we didn’t go for a Mustang!) and we made sure to check that it did have it when we were in the showroom! I can only imagine the salesguy picked up on us only having one kid and in an attempt to keep the price below 500.000 didn’t click it but it leaves a very sour taste! Fortunately we have a cheap ass VW Polo that has 3 seatbelts in the back so if we ever need one extra seat we can use that. But still… And “we should have checked it ourselves”, yeah you could say that, but as I said in part I, it’s a freaking jungle!! Unless you work there knowing what’s included in the “2017 A5 Sportback Proline Sport Edition” from the go, it’s damn impossible! And when adding stuff BAM! you’re told that it’s not compatible with the current loadout! It’s rediculous! Sometimes I think those configurations should have a “these things are NOT included in your layout”-list, that would have spelt it out for us that it was an extra option.

So, expect a new one of these in 3 years when it’s time to buy a new car again. Maybe we’ll go for a Mustang that time around or maybe Tesla if they are affordable by then.

Read Part I here.

Read Part II here.

Buying a new car – how hard can it be? Part II

[Previously on the blog – me and the wife wanted to buy a new car and ordered an Audi A5 for 492.000:- and was told it would be delivered end of March]

And so we waited. And waited.

Eventually in mid February we got an e-mail from the insurance company telling us it was time to insure our Audi. ??.. so we called up the dealer in Järva, got put on hold and eventually told by the manager that “I’m gonna have to call you back”. And so he did. And yeah, the car had arrived and we were free to pick it up next week. At this point I’m wondering “how long has it been there and when were you going to tell us!?” but I was just too excited and grateful that it was already here to question that. After our dealing with Toyota I thought it’d be best if we gave them the week and come in on Friday afternoon. This gave them over 8 days to get the car ready. And then he assigned the delivery to another salesman which I thought was weird but as it turns out the salesman, Daniel, that I liked so much and ordered the car from was no longer working there for reasons noone wanted to get into. When I woke up on Tuesday, 3 days before the delivery, it was snowing. And I remembered we hadn’t ordered the winter tyres so it would be illegal for us to drive our new car home from the dealer without it! So I called them up and asked what they usually do in this situation when customers have ordered cars without winter tyres and it’s snowing. And he had no clue. His first response was just hoping it would get warmer and thaw so it wouldn’t be a problem. I couldn’t tell if it was a joke or serious but it was absolutely unprofessional! So I had to ask him if he could fix winter tyres for us which he ofcourse was willing to try to do but couldn’t make a promise he’d get them in time. Seriously, he had 3 days to find new wintertyres for a new car in Stockholm, how hard can that be, pick up the phone to Euromasters and have them send over a set with DHL!? Well, he couldn’t just call anyone to get any kind of tyres, he had to order Audi originals regardless if we wanted it or not! Then we didn’t hear anything from him and we were just left assuming it was sorted when we went in to pick up the car on Friday afternoon. And much to our delight and surprise he had sorted it. On the car was now brand new Audi original winter tyres! “Great, so can we get the car now” … “well not really because you still haven’t paid us the 130.000 that was due”. Huh? Well, as it turns out we were supposed to send in the money to them so they had it before we could pick up the car and noone had told us about this. He said it was the “other guy” that had missed informing us of that. Personally I think it should be on a check list when preparing to deliver a car to make sure the car is legal to drive on the day of delivery and that the payment was settled, but apparently this guy didn’t think that was on them, those were my problems to solve!

So I ended up using Swish, a Swedish “send money instantly to another phone number” system that is quite a common way to send money here – just not supposed to be used for transactions of this size!! Fortunately my bank allowed the transaction, otherwise I don’t know what they’d do but I was furious enough to leave there and then and have another look at the Cupra – just ask Toyota. So now that that was sorted we got a big, long debriefing on insurance options. After that he unveiled our new car. And it was glorious!! I knew the car was so hitech that we were in for long education of what everything did.. but nope, he wasn’t into that, “I could spend an hour talking about everything but you pretty much want to get on the road huh?”.. well that didn’t stop him from talking insurances for a very long time but ok so let’s get on the road.. nope, we had to take a detour to their servicecenter to pay for the tyres. Fortunately the guy there was an absolute professional and got that over with quickly in the kind of “getting it done!” method I love. After that we got an ok to go out on the road, finally!

To be continued tomorrow…

Read Part I here.

Read Part III here.

Buying a new car – how hard can it be? Part I

Me and the wife were in the market to buy a car. And my wife has expensive taste. And we had the cash to spend. Sounds like a dream for any car dealer, right? But you know after our dealings with Toyota last year that I didn’t think very highly of car dealers… and that was about to get even lower!

My wife have always wanted to buy a Mustang. But purchasing a new Mustang in Stockholm proved pretty impossible as the only dealer we were in contact with didn’t have any available for us to try as other customers had crashed them both and we didn’t want to order one blindly. Besides I got the feeling he wasn’t too eager to sell one to us anyway. So we checked out a secondhand dealer that had a great Mustang waiting to be bought. After sitting in it we both kinda realised this isn’t the kind of car you use driving back and forth to school or to Ikea. So that idea was put on hold.

The next idea was a Tesla. But in Sweden the start at about 750.000 SEK which is shitload of money but when you start adding on stuff it goes up to 7 digits quite fast. So no, not yet.

Then we went for a sport version of the car we have today, a Seat Leon Cupra. The only dealer we had even remotely close to us turned out to be amateurs! They only had one for customers to try out. And the owner was using it as his private car. And we had to book an appointment to testdrive it! Well we did but it turns out the boss’s wife or daughter had taken the car for high street shopping that afternoon and got stuck in traffic. Who knew there might be traffic jams when going from Stockholm city to Barkarby at 5pm!? And when we test drove it we found their candy stash, we found her wallet and some left over shopping. As I said, amateur hour. Unfortunately the car was an absolut beast and we were tempted to buy one had it not been for the dealer.

So then we raised the bar! As we’ve been happy with both our Volkswagens and our Seat we decided to test the upgrade in the family and go for an Audi! Now I wanted to use Möller Bil again since we were so pleased with how the Seat turned out and how professional they’ve been but no Möller retailer close to us sells Audi. So we went to the Audi retailer in Järva. First thing that happened was they didn’t respond to my e-mail requests. Usually not a big thing but car dealers are supposed to be more eager than this, but oh well. So we went to their showroom and were told that we weren’t welcomed because we were in the business section! Should have gone home right there and then to be honest because the only reason we were in the business area was poor signage from their end! But we didn’t go home, we went up a floor to the consumer section and met a really friendly and nice salesguy, Daniel. He tried to understand what we wanted and our criterias – the wife wanted a bit of luxury but I wanted to pay the least amount for it! We went there looking at an A4 but when the wife saw their latest A5 Sportback she was totally sold! And when I saw their virtual cockpit, so was I. We tested sitting in an A5 to get the feel for the interior, noting that there was indeed 3 seatbelts in the back (more why that was important later!) and then we testdrove an A4 with identical engine to get the feel for the cars power. We were both very, very pleased. So we sat down to go through the list of options for the car to try to come up with a good car that fit our needs and what that would cost us. He went through every option (or so we thought!) with us and based on what he knew of our needs made recommendations. Since every manufacturer has their own terms/language, options and editions it’s a real jungle to sort it out but he did a good job of explaining it. I really liked this guy! So he came up with a car for 492.000 SEK, almost half a million. Naturually we needed to have a talk about it but after two days we made the decision to go for it. We went back and talked with him again to place the order. No fuzz at all, we agreed we’d put down 130.000 which we’d get from selling our current car when we got the new car. It would take “about 5 months” to get the car. A bit long but it would be worth waiting for. Now, did we want winter tyres on this or not? That was an extra 20.000 SEK. I knew I could get tyres for about half that price, and 5 months from end of October would be and of March so no really need for it, so no thanks. And the order was placed and we were happy with it all.

And then we waited. And waited…

Read Part II here.

Read Part III here.

Sherlock, Arrival and Girl on the Train

I really like the BBC show “Sherlock”, you know the one with Benedict. Somehow I had completely missed the 4th “season” that came out in January! I type “season” in quotes since it’s just 3 episodes! I don’t know why I had no clue but by the time I found out it was available on Amazon so ordered it right away. So far only seen the first episode – really like it! They still have that special cinematography going on that I love! I can’t really decide if I want them to make more episodes or keep it to 3-4 every second year since that makes it kind of “special” when new episodes do come out? The other Sherlock show, “Elementary” with Jonny Lee Miller, is pretty damn good too but they make 25 episodes per year so they don’t feel so special!

Also saw “The Arrival” the other day. I missed it when it was on the big screen so had to make do with my TV at home. I expected a really good sci-fi movie about first contact with another species. Instead I got a really good sci-fi movie about .. well I can’t really tell you that but it’s a funny idea and a good twist! I really do love it when sci-fi movies are able to make the sci-fi take the backseat and the human heart & spirit in focus like this! Really well done! Can really recommend this one!

Also saw “The Girl on the Train”. That movie was sooooo very slow that it was hard to stay awake at times and it wasn’t that “different” than any other movie where guys are assholes. But the one great thing about this was Emily Blunt that was absolutely fantastic! Haven’t really seen her in anything that made me go “wow” before but in this role it was definitely “wow!”. So if you want to see good acting, see it. If not, don’t.