IT Nerdiness

I’m going to start another blog. I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time but never really got around to doing it. I’m gonna start a boring IT nerdy blog with my own “experiences from the field” from work!
If you didn’t know I’m an IT pro working with SharePoint both in house but also in the cloud, as wel as alot of other “Office 365” things for an enterprise with some 25k users. And one thing that us IT pros do well is share information. I wouldn’t be able to solve half of the issues I’m faced with all the time if it wasn’t for other IT pros out there sharing their experiences and their tricks. And one of the things I think I can contribute with the most is Powershell script.

Nothing too advanced though, just basic powershell tips that other people in my line of work might find usefull so they don’t have to write them their selves. I’m sure some of these scripts can be approved upon, so please let me know if you have suggestions!

Enjoy!

Admitting When I’m Wrong

I’m one of those people who welcome being corrected when I’m wrong. Unfortunately I’m also offended when people try to correct me when I’m right, it’s not a good quality to have.

The most recent thing I’ve been wrong about is Pokemon Go. When it came here to Sweden in July I thought it was a fad, I didn’t take it seriously and I even made fun of people playing it, which I now regret. I still stick by that it’s dangerous though because if you get too much into it even when walking you can hurt yourself or even other people!

Because now my entire family is playing it! My son wanted a go at it and we couldn’t really stop him by saying it’s childish since… well, he’s 6! But after getting him started we realised we needed to learn it and so we started. And now, two weeks later we’re hooked and I like it. Not the game itself, it’s so rudimentary, it’s classic “get people hooked and then make them pay up for the next fix” and not even one little bit creative. But I like the effect it has on us as a family. We go out Pokemon hunting, sometimes just to the nearest city center, sometimes we go to some place that just has plenty of Pokestops. We spent four hours in “Rålambshovsparken” last Friday hunting Pokemons and Pokestops (and looked like complete idiots while doing it!). And we walk – alot! I shit you not if I say we must’ve walked 150 kilometers (that’s be about 94 miles) since we started two weeks ago. And as an added bonus when doing all that walking, except the calorie burn rate, is that we see places and stuff we never knew existed! As an example, we have a school that I pass twice every day to and from work but I’ve ever only seen the front of it. Now I know what the rest of the outside looks like since they placed a “pokemon gym” on the other side of it!

Star Citizen. Again.

So after a few rounds with customer service at Cloud Imperium Games I got the LA County “Department of Consumer and Business Affairs” involved and that’s when my refund request was finally accepted. So I got all my money for all digital purchases and pledges refunded and my accounts closed and within a week the money was safely in my bank account. End of story (until the game comes out, if ever) I thought.

Well it wasn’t. Because the response to my request from their legal counsel was… in lack of better words – horseshit!

The reasons I stated for requesting a refund was
– They changed their terms of service to free them of all accountability to actually deliver anything. That’s an indisputable fact. I was totally fine with my initial Kickstarter pledge going down the drain but that was a small portion of all the money I’ve pledged to the project so far. Chris, the man in charge, stated years ago that they were solid financially and would still be able to deliver a game if funding stopped. It didn’t yet they haven’t.
– The game is nowhere near being complete. The content that has been delivered so far is barely 10% of everything promised and it’s all buggy as hell as it’s still in alpha. That is also a fact. If you forecast based on that it’s gonna take them several years to deliver the rest and then do the polish to go from alpha to a launch-able game.
– They themselves set “estimated dates” for when features are launched and they are constantly missing them. That is also fact.
– They set November 2014 + a 18 months delay (that’d be May 2016) for launch or they would show their financials and explain “wtf happened!?”. It’s now August 2016 and they haven’t launched any part of the game nor taken any accountability for the failure. Those are also facts.

Those were my 4 main reasons. I never mentioned anything of all the other rumors (like their Austin office being shut down) or issues one may have with the project (like the fact that Chris the CEO is married to the marketing director/actor Sandi) that involves anything that isn’t fact or tangible.

So what did the legal counsel say? “Customer’s allegations […] are completely unfounded and based on internet gossip. Oh and he made the allegations to the wrong corporate entity!”. That is just so insulting! Everything I’ve said are facts that can easily be checked by anyone! If they didn’t think it was good enough reasons to give a refund that would have been one thing, but to say that I’m lying and quoting gossip, what the hell is that about!? That pisses me off so much that my initial thought was “crash and burn you assholes!”. But this is so much bigger than that, it’s a million people strong community, a game that is based on some of the most amazing games I’ve played, the most successful crowdfunding campaign ever, the biggest “up yours!” to major game publishers ever and so much of that good stuff that I can’t be so egotistic and want it to fail just because they insult me. But it really pissed me off and I wonder where the line for “slander” is! And also I hate whenever a company makes that stupid remark about “it’s the wrong company” – I ALWAYS go to the people that I actually paid. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game or whatever, I make the claim to the company that charged me!

“Star Citizen”… Never Ending Story

You know I’m a nostalgic, retro kind of person right? And I’m a gamer. So I fondly remember the days of “Wing Commander” I & II, the space fighting but most of all the story and the interaction with the crew. And I very fondly remember “Wing Commander III” with Mark Hamill and Tom Wilson and the rest of the cast. And I very very very fondly remember playing “Wing Commander IV” for days, weeks even months. I really wanted to see every possible way that could go, the “evil ending” and everything in between. I absolutely loved it – not for the space combat but for the story. The dialogue is cheesy and the plot quite simple by today’s standards but still, for a computer game it was awesome!!

So in 2012 when I heard that Chris Roberts is coming back with a “spiritual successor to Wing Commander” I got excited. It couldn’t be called “Wing Commander” since EA owned the rights to it so it was called “Star Citizen”. Or “Squadron 42”.. at first it was a mess what was what but that’s to be expected when a small group of people get together to try to do something great. But this time Chris didn’t want a big publisher telling him what to do. He didn’t want a publisher that demanded the game be released at this date, finished or not. He didn’t want a publisher to tell him to make the game so it can be ported to consoles. He wanted to do the game his way, released when it was ready and for PC only. So they started a crowdfunding campaign that got so much attention their initial web server couldn’t handle it and they had to take to Kickstarter for crowdfunding. I happy bought into it at “Colonel” level which then was $125. That’s quite a lot for a computer game I agree but I thought it was worth it considering how much joy his previous titles had given me. I’d gladly paid that for “Wing Commander IV” any day!
Back then they set the “estimated release” at November 2014 but I’m actually pretty sure that’s because Kickstarter forced them to set an “estimated delivery” date and the max they could set was “2 years from now”. So I actually never expected them to deliver that. As a matter of fact, their “Terms of Service” agreement was even altered in 2013 to give them a 12 (then 18) month delay window.

After the initial crowdfunding campaign they kept promising more and more stuff. Not only had the game gone from being the “spiritual successor of Wing Commander” (a single player game), it was blowing up to be a full MMORPG. And I was fine with that. At first. I was so fine that when they showed off the Retaliator bomber I loved it and dished out $225 for one. And the idea of being information smuggler sounded cool so I dished out money for that too. But then as they continued to get millions of dollars every month I kinda saw it getting out of hand. I fully realise I know very little of what it actually takes to deliver a game and I know it takes a lot of time to make a game. A delay can easily be a year. But when they were promising new features, new ships without actually releasing much I kinda saw the problems of this ever being released. If they take two-three months to get a ship to “flight ready” and they keep coming up with 7-8 new ships every year, how are they ever to get done? If they add new feature to the scope before releasing the basic ones promised during Kickstarter like trading, how are they ever gonna get done? This picture to the right pretty much sums up what I felt all throughout 2015. And during July of 2015 Derek Smart happened. He’s a game maker who has tried to pull off these grand space games for years and never really made it. Which means he knows some of the pitfalls of even trying. He started criticising the “Star Citizen” project – very vocally, bullyuishly, annoyingly, contrived, “deliberately wanting to turn everything into a bad thing” way. And he got very personal against Chris Roberts, his wife and his lawyer (that all co-founded the studio) in a way that was really uncool. But he always stopped right at the border of lying or making shit up. Yes, he twisted everything into a negative thing. And I was right there to point out the actual facts. But the problem of trying to argue with him was the fact that “CIG” (the studio making the game) never managed to prove him wrong. They never managed to shut him up by stepping up to the plate and deliver. Instead, they made his case stronger by coming up with more irrelevant features (plants anyone?), more subscriber flare, more ship-concept sales, more of everything except actual game content. An all this while constantly missing “estimated” release dates that they themselves estimated and set.

Then they went ahead and wrote a new Terms of Service that we have to accept. Which is fine, Blizzard does it all the time. But I actually read those things, it’s a result of working with lawyers for 8 years – I actually read before I sign. And in this Terms of Service they had removed any accountability what so ever, every chance of demanding a refund. It was basically a carté blanche for them to sail away with the $117+ million they had gotten from backers and as long as the company CIG was still “active” and stating the game was still being worked on (without ever actually delivering anything) then we had no rights at all as consumers. I really wasn’t OK with that. So I refused to accept the terms of service. That had the side effect of me not being able to login to the so called “game”.

And what they call “the game” (as it was the last time I checked) consist of
1) running around my hangar looking at the static non functioning ships that have gone from concept to “hangar ready”.
2) Fly around in a very gorgeous but limited space environment fighting against enemy ships without ever feeling like “I’m so into this battle”, it’s rather plain but a totally acceptable test bed for flight mechanics.
3) Run around one planetary landing zone. Think of Orgimmar in World of Warcraft. But about half the size if that. And never being able to go out the gates.
star_citizen_bug4) Run around a station, call the ships I “own” that are “flight ready”, getting on board, flying around trying to repair comm relays, exploring a small little station for clues about corporate evilness
.. and that’s it. And it’s all full of game breaking bugs as you can expect from alpha. But compared to what was promised even in Kickstarter, before they even had $20 million, this simply won’t do. There is no exploration, there is no trading, the space combat is mediocre at best, there are no systems to travel between (so no jump points with that mechanic), there is just this. And that’s at “estimated delivery + 18 months”. And there is nothing to indicate that is about to change, that there is a magic key that once implemented will unlock all the missing features and mechanics.

At the end of last year they came up with a trailer for the single player game “Squadron 42” that promised released in 2016. It was freaking amazing! The “admiral” speech was precisely the classic cliche dialogue I know from “Wing Commander IV” and the visuals, oh man… but there is nothing to make me believe that it will actually happen. The space combat right now is way to limited to be close to what has been promised. The cutscenes may be breathtaking but it all needs a space combat simulation to build on, or I might as well see “Wing Commander The Movie“.

I really do hope I’m wrong and that they do actually release “Squadron 42” this year, or maybe even next year. I really do wish that they actually release the game they’ve promised. But right now I don’t see anything that suggests they will.

So where does that leave me? Since I haven’t accepted the TOS I can’t login to the “game” that I’ve spent well over $600 on (not counting merchandise). I was fine waiting until 2020 to see the game develop into what was promised, I really was. But when I’m banned from the game for simply not accepting the most consumer-hostile terms of service I’ve ever been presented with, that becomes impossible. And since there is very little to support the idea that the game will be done anytime soon I find my only recourse is to demand a refund. Although I fully accept that backing a Kickstarter project can go either way and is a bit of a gamble, when they were successfully funded and kept bringing in millions it goes from a gamble to being a downright fraud. My first attempt was denied. But I’m not giving up. Even though I’m fortunate enough to be able to write these $600 off as a dream that didn’t happen, it doesn’t mean I have to accept it without a fight.

And this is not on Derek Smart – this is on CIG failing to deliver. Piling up the “to-do” list of ships and features to get into the game, wanting to release a perfect and fully featured product, delays and now not taking any responsibility for it in their TOS. And I’m not putting the project in jeopardy by requesting a refund. This is a $117+ million project, my ~$600 of that should be less than a fart in space. Think of this as a customer cancelling a preorder because the game changed too much since I made the preorder – which is exactly what I did with The Division & the new Deus Ex when those publishers changed things. Because no one can honestly say that what CIG are pushing today is what they tried to sell during Kickstarter!

To be continued – unfortunately.

Going To the Movies The Proper Way!

As you probably know I have a home cinema in a, almost, dedicated room for the purpose of showing movies on a big screen with good audio. But I still like going out to the movies. The contrasts between the two are ofcourse that going out is about going out, it’s an event, an occasion. And you’ll take the long queues in to the movie, the bad service, the cramped space, trying to carry popcorn & soda while getting the tickets ready, the people talking, the queuing to get out and all of those bad things. When watching a movie at home you don’t have to put up with that – but all of a sudden it’s not so special anymore.

But the new VIP theaters at Mall of Scandinavia in Stockholm puts a completely new spin to it all!! Firstly you’ll get to a restaurant so you can eat actually good, cooked food! Not the food courts of Heron or Kista. You can then order in all the snacks and drinks you want for the movie and it’ll be delivered in a nice basket – even have a beer if you want. Then you go into the movie theater without the queues since it only fits about 40 people! And “why does it only fit 40 people” you ask? – because of the amazing personal space you get! Not only do you get to sit in a comfy recliner chair, you also have more leg space than you’ll need plus a good 30cm of space either side to put your snacks and drinks! Forget about people talking, you’re so far away from each other you can’t really talk when the movie is playing! Then after the movie is done you just calmly leave and go back to the restaurant for some beverage or whatever you like. Yeah, it was expensive but you’ll have to go there alot to make up for all the $$$ that goes into building and maintaining a home cinema.

It’s almost all of the pro’s of watching a movie at home but actually “going out to the movies”! The other con’s against going to the movies (1 – the time to get there 2 – the fact you actually have to drive so one person has to be sober and 3 – the lack of a pause button for bathroom breaks) well I guess there’s really nothing to do against them is it? I mean, scheduling a 5 minute break in the movie for people to do their things might work, but the chances of the building one close enough to me so we can walk are slim to none.

So basically I think this is as far to perfect as a movie experience can get!!

Making Sense of Disney Infinity

A few years ago my wife’s nephew was playing Skylanders on his PS3 and all he wanted was Skylanders figures to “unlock” in the game so he could finish it. I bought him a 3 pack figure set once because I can’t say no to kids wanting video games.

Fast forward about 4 years and I saw the trailer for Disney Infinity. And so did my son and he basically said “I have got to get me one of those!!”. I remember it well, it was when we saw the “Minions” movie. And I explained to him that it was pretty expensive, €90 for the “big” PS4 version that they were advertising. So he started saving up money and we started giving him allowance on the premise that we won’t buy any more toys, he has to do that himself now. We had a little setback with Minecraft on the PS4 but now he finally had money to buy it so off we went.

2015-09-19 - Sams första spelköp 2We got to Webhallen, he got to hold the big box himself and we went back home for the unboxing.

I expected a rather quick “here’s the disc, here’s the base, here’s the figure, let’s go!”. But no! First I had to create a Disney account. Then it had a parent check, and then enter the codes from the cards in the box to tie them to the account (you know, so I can’t return it or sell it second hand if I’m not happy with it), and all that has to be done on a PC. I wonder how many parents give up at this stage? Because after that you have to login to that Disney account on your PS4 when booting up the game and then… it started in a weird demo kind of way with testing different characters from different Disney franchises when all we wanted was to play Star Wars!? Aha, the “play set” item has to be on the base too so it knows what game we’re playing? Ok, done, “Twilight of the Republic”, go!

Finally it booted up to the awesome Star Wars theme followed by.. “this character isn’t available in this play set”?! What? Oh, we tried playing as Luke Skywalker in a “Clone Wars”-era game, well if that doesn’t work why tha hell does he, Leia and Boba Fett come in the pack?! Oh, you have to unlock the characters in the playset by finding their “champion coin” in the game (or play set?), not cool at all but ok, YouTube helped me and my son to sort that out. Now let’s test “Rise Against the Empire” play set that we got in this PS4 exclusive collector edition. This is the original triology, Darth Vader era Star Wars I know and love. Aaaaaaand “this character isn’t available in this play set” when we had Anakin on the base? Because ofcourse the champion coins are unique for the play set and you have to unlock Anakin “champion coin” in this playset since he “belongs” in the other playset?! Googled around to find out I had to get to the top of a building to get the “coin” for Anakin?! But this means if you buy a “Rebels” era character like Ezra you have to fin his coins in both play sets?!

But ok, all characters unlock in all games… sorry I mean “play sets”.. and let’s roll. On Monday evening we’d finished both ga… sorry, “play sets”. There was two of them and me and my son had them beat in less than two days? And he did most of the playing and he’s 5! What tha hell, what to do after this? … wait for the next gam… sorry, “play set” with the characters from “Inside Out” which kinda requires that Sam sees the movie to understand.

Really Disney? I know you want to make money, I’m not naive but .. really? Not well played Disney, not well played at all. Or to quote the Roberts – “this is bullshit”. You have to make it THIS complicated only to suck as much money out of us as you can? You have gone and totally confused me with “play set”, “power coin” and I haven’t even started with the “power discs” yet and you charge €90 for 2 “play sets” I could’ve played through in less than 3 hours each had I wanted to? That’s really low, the Lego games are atleast challenging and goes on and on! Speaking of which, guess I have to buy the Batman Lego game now that this is already done.

So if you plan to buy Disney Infinity for your kids, get prepared and read up.

That Plane That Crashed Into The Alps

I am an avid fan of aviation. Always have been, always will be. I, like any other boy, wanted to be a pilot but never worked hard enough to get the grades to get into that and not doing military service (which was obligatory in Sweden at the time) kinda ruled that out. So I wanted the next best thing, an air traffic controller. I got as far as the trialouts at Arlanda (Sweden’s biggest airport) but for reasons unknown to me they decided “I didn’t have the proper predisposition for this job. This decision is final and cannot be appealed”. That was the end of that dream and I got into computers instead which worked out pretty nice for me.

But I’m still interested in aviation. And I try to see every episode of “Air Crash Investigation” that I can and do my best to follow it when something happens. The bad side is that it takes months, sometimes several years, from a crash until the investigation can conclude something. Like that Air France plane from Brazil that dropped into the ocean, took them 2 years to find them (good job on that by the way).

And about 3 weeks ago I saw the “Air Crash Investigation Special” on the 1 year anniversary since the disappearence of MH370. In it they through the Sherlockian (I love making up words) method of eliminating everything they know didn’t happen come to the conclusion that one of the pilots, most likely the captain, sent away the co-pilot, locked the door, disabled the transponer and the ACARS (which really only a well trained pilot would know how to do), dropped the air preassure so everyone but him would lose consciousness and then he navigated around radar stations before setting a course for the antarctic. They never had a clue why anyone would do it but that’s the only theory that is NOT disputed by the available data.

And exactly 2 weeks after that airs, a Germanwings plane crashes into the alps killing everyone. I’m not going to say that “I knew it must have been a deliberate thing by a pilot” because I really didn’t. I think it was clear right away it was “human error” because the rate that they were loosing altitude couldn’t have been missed by anyone and the fact that they didn’t turn back or radio anyone suggested that what happened wasn’t a technical glitch. Unlike the Greek plane where everyone lost consciousness when a service engineer had forgotten to reset a switch, this plane crashed right away whereas the Greek plane kept on going for hours. So it couldn’t have been a technical reason for it, it had to have been caused by the human factor which is the case in a surprisingly amount of crashes. But I really didn’t think it was deliberately crashed but very quickly it was clear that that’s what happened. And I have to say I am very surprised that this amount of information have been released this soon. As I said these usually take months or years, this one was a few days. The full investigation, with the proper recommendations to the airline industry and regulatory institutions, will ofcourse take a few months but it’s really rare to see it being cleared up this quickly. And I think that’s a good thing, if not for the world to feel safer flying again (or do we?) then for the victim’s families that already this soon have answers. I like that.

I also can’t help but to feel that this isn’t entirely unrelated to the post about corporate greed in the airline industry that I posted a while back. This was a pilot that had mental issues he delt with but from all official channels was cleared to work. But he always had this cloud of uncertainty hanging over him because of the situation in the airline industry – and remember, the Lufthansa pilots have just been on a strike about their situation so it’s got to be serious for them. Not that I’m justifying his actions but I just want to raise the point that that might have been a small contributing factor that shouldn’t be ignored. I’ve been fortunate enough never to have been unemployed in my entire life, although I’ve been close 3 times and all of those times I’ve been extremely stressed out over it. Once I almost got an ulcer because of it so I think everyone can relate to a persons worry about his employment, especially if you’ve worked hard enough to reach the pilot seat.

Another point here is that I don’t think this is just an issue in aviation. This could just as easily have been a train driver that deliberately drives his train into Paddington station at full speed in rush hour, imagine the death toll on that. And the accident in Spain a few years back when a train driver wanted to challenge how fast he could take a curve proves that there aren’t safeguards there either. Did the train industry decide all of a sudden that there should be two people in the driver seat for trains? No, but they have on planes.

But still – you’re more likely to die on the way to the airport than on the plane!

 

My Issue With Tidal

Yesterday there was a big event by some of today’s biggest artist to together really kick off the music service Tidal. It’s the newest and most likely candidate to challenge Spotify’s ownership of the digital music throne. I should like it. But here’s why I don’t – and keep in mind these are MY issues, they don’t apply to everyone!

– The artists keep saying that this service will reward the actual artists way more than the evil Spotify. And that sounds noble, right? Well that certainly goes against most research I’ve read that says Spotify is most certainly paying their share – it’s just not going to the artists. Reason for that is.. well, they aren’t the ones with the contract with Spotify, the labels are. (their own report can be found here and here is a report from Time.com)

– They say it’s good for consumers. And usually I’d agree, nothing like some good competetivness to bring out the best in people and companies. But this is different. With Spotify I have ONE music service where I store my music library. And I can access that music from any cellphone brand I want, from my TV, from any of my computers, from my Playstation, my Sonos and even my TV. If you add another service which has material the other one doesn’t it forces you to either choose or have both which will cost you €20 per month. How is that good for consumers? And the amount of time it will take for Tidal to be supported by say my Samsung TV, Sony Playstation or Sonos… it’s just not good for consumers – IMO – from that technical point of view. It’s the same with the “video on demand service” – I wouldn’t mind paying €50 for one service that had it all, but I don’t wanna pay €10 for 5 difference services!

– They say their music quality is better. I don’t know about you but 90% of my music listening is done from my cellphone on the move. And with those small earplugs I dare say noone will ever notice the difference between Spotify HQ audio (and most people don’t even sync their music in HQ mode in Spotify because of storage limits) and Tidal HQ audio. I hear the difference between 128k and 192k audio in MP3’s but above that it’s simply not noticable – for me! Sure there are audiophiles out there that can spend €500 on earphones and maybe they will notice, or I might notice when turning it up in my home cinema. But it certainly won’t be a big enough quality different to hear it!

– I trust Spotify more than I trust JayZ. JayZ with wife Beyonce have enough money to not give a shit for the rest of their lifes. If the Tidal service is bad, “so what”, that don’t matter shit for them, just a failed project. If Spotify is bad they’ll hear it and change because they can’t afford not to. I got pissed when Spotify introduced their “you have to have a Facebook account” but after tweaking it I really don’t mind. And I trust that Spotify will not make an exclusive deal with say Apple that the hottest music will only be available on the iPhone app first because Spotify can’t afford to piss Android, Windows and PC users!

So I’m left thinking this isn’t just a noble thing and JayZ’s gift to the world of music industry that it’s painted out to be. It looks to me more like it’s their way of trying to increase their revenue. Which is totally fine by me, I wouldn’t wanna work for free. But just don’t make it sound so noble and say it’s for us consumers.

I Finally Made It – MCSE !

Wind back the clock some 17-18 years when I was working as a computer guy at Min Dator spending my days building computers and installing them for our customers. I thought I was pretty darn good at what I did and good with computers. But then we merged with a consultant firm and getting to know those guys with high certification levels made me realise I didn’t know a helluvalot. And then we merged with Pulsen and I tried being a consultant but I could never compete with those guys. And it didn’t help when the boss referred to me as a “resource filler” – that kinda killed my ambition. Then I worked at the lawfirm and it was the most secure employment I could ask for and I had no need or reason to get certifications. But as I was doing my two rounds of trying to get a job before and after the Carema disaster one question kept coming up during interviews. “You’ve done a few courses, do you have the certifications?” – which I didn’t. I never heard anyone say that was bad or that was the reason I didn’t get a job but it showed me that employers actually do care about that.

So when I got the job here I said I didn’t only want to take the courses I wanted to take the certifications too – and my employer said ok to take that expense (granted, it’s only €100-€150 each but still a nice gesture). And after I had the first course, studied for the exam and made it with flying colours I realised how easy it was for me. So my boss and I sat a goal for me (which we use for bonus calculations) to become MCSE – Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert.

MCSE_SharePoint_Blk (Custom)Now 2 years and 7 exams later I did it! It doesn’t change my salary, it doesn’t help me with the ladies, it doesn’t do much at work or at home at all – but it’s a personal achievement that has been in the making for quite a while but I never got the thumb out of my ass to do. It’s also something of a growing up thing – which is totally lame thing to say 3 months shy of being 40. But it is for me! I don’t expect anyone to really understands what it means to me since I’m the only “me” there is – but just respect the fact that for me it’s AWESOME! AND EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!! (yeah, we just saw The Lego Movie)

New Photo Album Application

I’ve tried alot of photo albums addon for WordPress but not really liking any of them. So I decided to use a feature in my NAS for this because it works pretty damn good. One feature that I’m working on is the ability to geotag photos so you can map out where we’ve been and the photos from that place (in the top right corner, simply choose “Map”). Unfortunately this means going through every picture and you know me and how retro I can be when I go down that path!
photo_map
Anyway here is the address for it : http://photos.kristoffer.com/photo/
The login is “Gäst” and the password is the Swedish, short name of my employer.

Geek Complaints Because Size Does Matter

If you’ve ever bought a harddrive you know that what is said about it’s size on the package doesn’t equal what Windows says the drive is. What I am really starting to hate is that now that the drives are so damn big I’d say it’s a fraud selling a harddrive as 3TB when in fact it’s only 2.7TB.

The geeky explanation why this has happened is : When 1 kilobyte was established it was with binary math as 2^10 = 1024 bytes. But with the next step, megabyte, math says that 2^20 = 1048576 bytes. But the manufactureres didn’t like that so they decided that 1MB = 1000KB. And now that we are talking TERABYTES this math has gone so wrong that an average disk sold as 1TB disk will in fact only be 931 megabytes (or 0.9TB) in Windows and any other OS or application. That’s almost 7% gone because the manufacturers are saying one thing when math says another.

Why is this bothering me now? Because now I have 5x3TB harddrives in a RAID5 at home. RAID5 means that 1/[number of disks] of space is wasted for parity so I can retain the data if one drive fails. In this case that’s 1/5, that’s 3TB, is gone for that. So 5*3-3 = 12TB. So I should have 12 beautifull TB of space. But I only have 10.8TB. That’s 1.2TB gone – 11% because manufacturers are taking the piss out of math. And it’s really starting to piss me off now that we’re talking about drives in the TB class!

Do you know any other market where a retailer sells you something and you totally accept to only get 89% of what you paid for becuase of math?!

And now you might start to realise … I can do clickbait to! 🙂

So Very Close

Just a little personal congratulations to myself for having passed 6 Microsoft exams now, and I’m just one little exam away from being a Microsoft Certified Solutions Engineer. I don’t know why that makes me gigly, not likes it’s going to go down well with the ladies but for me it’s a big deal. And it’s not going to give me a payraise nor going to stop my ear from peeping. So it’s just to boost my ego. If all goes we’ll I’ll be on the advanced Sharepoint 2013 course in one month and write the last exam after that for that glorious title.

Yay for me.

Why Filesharing Won’t Go Away

I doubt you’ve read this article : http://torrentfreak.com/uk-users-need-27-services-to-get-most-popular-films-report-finds-141208/ . What it basically says is “if you want to watch the most popular movies the legal way online you have to have 27 subscriptions”. It doesn’t say how much they cost but in my case that is irrelevant. Or you can have one subscription to a good Torrent/Usenet site and get it that way.

It’s the same issue with having physical purchased Blurays versus digtal media files. With the digital media file you simply double click and the movie starts. With buying a physical purchased Bluray you insert the disc and sit through adverts, commercial, trailers, discailmers, copyright notices, sound checks and animated menus that fly back and forth and then the movie actually starts!

That’s why filesharing won’t go away – because it’s a way more convinient way of consuming media today! I’ve started using more of online webservices like Netflix & Viasat which are great but still some issues. They don’t have deals with all studios so they can’t have all the movies & TV series. And the TV shows don’t have the latest episodes shown in the states. So as long as the entertainment industry is set in their ways and don’t want us in Sweden to see the latest episodes/TV series, as long as they have their distribution strategies and insist on showing us trailers, disclaimers and stuff on our discs when all we want is to watch a movie then filesharing won’t go away. I’d gladly pay $50-$100 per month for a service where I could see -> everything <-. But I don't want to pay $10 per service per month and still not get the latest stuff. That's what I think...

Another Microsoft Course

This week I’m on another 5 day Microsoft course. It’s a rather exciting one too – “Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 R2 Services”. Ok that doesn’t sound exciting but for me it actually is since it’s things that I deal with everyday. From NLB to failover clustering – it’s all good fun and usefull stuff. Because I have to admit, sometimes these courses do tend to talk about stuff you’ll never encounter in the real world!

But I am a bit confused. When we were doing the lab for Branch Caching I get a sense of deja vu and realised I know this stuff already thanks to the certification for the course prior to this one! I got so confused I even had to check my MCP status to make sure I didn’t accidentally write the “wrong” exam but nope. It seems MS are a bit confused what’s in the different courses. But I’m not complaining, can never get enough repition on this.

But I do wish MS would make it easier for us and actually license the virtual machines we use…

Just When I Thought I Was Out …

warlords-of-draenor-1920x1200
… they relase a new expansion that is really, really good! I know, I should and I wanted to quit World of Warcraft a long time ago. It’s a huge time sink and no matter how hard I try I can’t even come close to the level I played at 6-7 years ago! But this expansion is actually really, really good!

They’ve decreased the amount of spells, dropped atleast 2 digits on all item attributes and they’ve made the game much harder to play! When I played as healer I have to work pretty hard to keep the gang alive! And when I’m doing it as DPS I actually have to work hard to keep up the DPS as warlock which used to be easy mode.

And the new content, the new dungeons with some of the encounters (like the one on the train) are pretty awesome! UBRS is back and better than before. The one thing I really don’t like is that we can’t fly in the new zone – and they really do utilize altitude as an obstacle in some zones which is pissing me off riding around for 10 minutes to try to find how to get up a cliff!

So nope, will be a while more before I hang up the wizards hat…

Husqvarna Automower 308

So we finally got ourselfes one of those robotic lawnmowers – a Husqvarna 308. There was a period in May that I had to mow twice a week so I gave up an ordered one.

This is how I mow the lawn nowadays with my Automower 308

This is how I mow the lawn nowadays with my Automower 308

This installation was anything but a breeze. Had to lay out a cable around the entire lawn as well as a “guide”-cable so it can find it’s way home again. And the cable and clamps that came along really wasn’t enough but fortunately I had already ordered extra everything since I assumed this would be needed. When that was all said and done I started it up and let it cut the grass I had saved up for a week. Big mistake! It took nearly two weeks for it to get the entire lawn cut when doing it that way! They recommend in the manual that you cut the grass before you start using it but I’m not big on following manuals.

Then I spent a few days of troubleshooting the lawn and everywhere that it got stuck. Had to change the wires a bit and fill up some holes and such but after that it’s been going like clock work all summer long. Surprisingly well as a matter of fact! Except that you still need to cut the edges of your lawn manually since this bounces of things (including the cable) and therefor doesn’t go all the way to the edge. And then I noticed that our grass looks more bent than cut and I checked the blades and they were completely worn down! They do recommend you to change them a few times but I didn’t think it’d be after only about 8 weeks!

Other than that the only issue I have is the surge protection that I bought for it (per Husqvarnas recommendation) that cuts the power a bit too easy, meaning the mower doesn’t start at all and it can be like that until I notice it’s off.

I do regret buying it a bit since the lawn hasn’t really improved at all. Yes, it’s been nice not having to cut the lawn every weekend this summer but I could have used the money more wisely than on this. But that’s the way it is.

“Plan B”

So Plan A didn’t work. Those people over at Owncube promised 30 TB (or “unlimited” in the promo e-mail), but when I finally got the backup-routines in place (which included RAR-ing everything first) and the backups actually went through (after getting alot of disconnects) it halted after 600 gigs saying “not enough diskspace”. But when checking the interface is still said unlimited. At that point I couldn’t be bothered with them anymore and decided to go with plan B. So now I have a double-drive USB case hooked up at work with enough storage to take backups of all my stuff at home. The only downside compared to the other alternative is that I will have to prioritize what to backup from home to here because the storage won’t be enough for both. At first. But when I’m not in savings mode anymore (i.e after the summer) I can buy new drives for it so that it’ll have more storage.

So now I can finally change my raid at home from 10 to 0, and go from “only” having 6 terabytes of storage to 12. As anyone with tech knowledge will tell you, raid 0 is suicide redundancy wise but if I have everything backuped up here at work I don’t see the problem. Plus – now the house can burn down and I won’t have lost my “Star Trek” collection!!

This is what happens when I take my work home with me!! Not quite the same with my wife though, her’s is cheaper but it stinks up the entire house with the small of burnt popcorn!

Taking Tech A Bit Too Far?

One of the things I am good at is finding and eliminating “single points of failure”. When I see a process or procedure I look at it and check for weakest link. Ever since my first job when my boss told me “if you’re hit by a buss on the way home, the company needs to live on” I’ve done a good job of making sure I’m not it. And when “ITIL” comes along there’s the Matrix organizations that’s all about spreading information, responsiblities and risk I felt it was totally natural and a given. And here at Thomas Cook we hate single points of failure in the IT organization and work to eliminate them constantly. Much like the lawfirm we have 2 datacenters to run from so we can lose an entire building and the IT would still work!

(now I’m going to go all computer tech on you!)

So … I took my job home again. When we got the annual bonus I bought stuff to have a 6×3 terabyte RAID 10 in my server for storing all the digital stuff I have. Everything from documents to images and the DVD/Bluray backups I have, they all need to be stored somewhere, but I’ve always felt like “if I lose this harddrive what will I do!?” – but with a RAID 10 I could easily lose one drive (actually 3 – if they are the “right” ones) and it wouldn’t affect anything… but the next level was “what if the house burns down to the ground”? In such a scenario I’m pretty sure I’ll have bigger issues to deal with than “oh no I lost all my Star Trek boxes and the digital backups of them!”, but I still wanted to make sure that’s not an added headache if it were to happen. One solution was to buy a 2 drive USB case and 2 4TB drives in a RAID0 and get a safety deposit box and once every 3 months take it home, back it all up and put it back again. That was actually looking like the most practical & cost efficient way of doing it…

Until OwnCube offered me a deal to store 30 TB of data as long as their company exists for a one time fee of €150! Done! So now I’m set to once every .. does 3 months sound enough?… zip everything I have to encrypted files and send it up to their datacenters for storage! Even though I only have a 100 mbit upstream connection which means this is gonna take over a week I can’t say I’m in much of a rush since it’s automated and running in the background.

So now the house can burn down and I’ll still have all my Star Trek episodes 🙂

I Hate (not) Flying

IMAG0042I hate flying. Well not the actual flying part, but all the stuff that goes with it. Everytime I go flying I’m reminded how we as a civilization needs to come up with a transport-system! The saying “time is money” would indicate that there is a helluvalot of money to be made from such a patent, right?

Ryan Air used to fly to Edinburgh directly but now in time for Christmas they’ve cancelled that line so we had to go with KLM instead with a stop in Amsterdam. When flying home we started from our hotell at 4 am on sunday morning. I arrived home at 1:45pm. That’s almost 10 hours. Out of that only 4 hours were spent in the air!! First it was the taxi to the airport, got there early because we needed to check in 2 bags as luggage, then security checkpoint then wait…. and wait. And off to Amsterdam and after we landed it was atleast 10 minutes to the actual terminal, then another checkpoint. Then wait. And more wait. And then the next flight and we got home. And waited for the luggage. And then going home from the airport is another 30 minutes (which for Arlanda is pretty decent since we live on the “right side of town”, for the others it’s atleast a full hour.

That is such a waste of time! Not that I’m too important for this, not at all. It’s just .. a waste of time. 10 years ago when I was travelling to our embassies around the world I didn’t mind as much, probably because I got paid even when sitting at a pub on the airport. But now that it’s my spare time, I kinda mind. In this modern age where hours are important and your life is so stressfull, having a transporter to instantly beam you over to where you’re going instantly might be worth it. “What about all those transport accidents in Star Trek” you ask? Well what about all those air crashes in real life!? But considering how many gazillion people that work in logistics would get laid off I guess that’d be bad for employment figures, not to mention the airlines 🙂

Internet Safety

Sometimes I really wonder how normal mortal humans manage their online safety?! I got a pretty good grip on IT security and have strong passwords on almost all the places I can and 2 step authentication (that is a double check that I’m who I say I am) on the ones that offer it. But there was one chink in the armor – my Twitter. Because Twitter don’t offer 2 step authentication with Telenor in Sweden I can’t activate it and pure lazyness from when I first set up that account led to me having a pretty week password there. “Week” as in 7 random characters & numberals. Yet that’s how someone got me yesterday. Managed to log into my Twitter and send bullshit links to the few followers I had, which are mostly friends of mine so pretty quickly I got a message saying “Hacked? Or do you really think I need diet-pills?”. Another chink in the armor is my Android phone. I’m pretty relaxed about installing stuff on my phone as long as it comes from the Play Store but it wouldn’t be hard for anyone to sneak something in there to hijack the phone. I knew there was one dubious app on the phone already so as a precaution I wiped the phone today and started from scratch. Really no point to restore it from backup, is there ?

But it lead me to wonder how mortal humans do it? Mortal humans who might not know what 2 step authentication is, let alone have it activated? Or people who can’t memorise random passwords?