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Heart of America IT

I’ve been doing some work under my company’s name, Heart of America IT.  So if you see that, you know it’s me.  I also launched a basic landing page over at http://heartofamericait.com

 

john@hermeslandscaping.com

trying out a spam technique for a customer.

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Windows Home Server Connection Lost Troubleshooting

I’ve had a problem recently where clients would fail abruptly.  These were clients that had been backing up reliably for months so it seemed a little strange to me.  The error in my Event Viewer was:

 

Backup of volume C: to SERVER failed: Microsoft.HomeServer.Backup.Protocol.ProtocolException: Client / Server connection lost

 

The error points to a networking problem.  I researched it a bit and found recommendations to download the WHS Toolkit.  So I downloaded it and ran it.  It told me that my connector software didn’t match my server version.  So I deleted my connector software and re-installed it from the server.  I tried to run a backup again and it failed again at about 70%.  So I ran the troubleshooter again and it again told me that I had a version mismatch.

 

The interesting thing is that my home server was almost full.  I started the backup and it told me that it only had 139GB left in space.   Then it counted down as the backup continued until it told me that it only had 90GB of space left and then the backup failed again.  I checked the Event Viewer and the error was still the same, some sort of connection loss between the server and the client.  I ran the WHS Toolkit again and it again told me that I had a version mismatch between my client and server.

 

On a whim I purged 200GB of data from the server, ran the backup again.  It succeeded.  If you run into this problem and your home server is tight on space, I’d suggest offloading some data to an external drive or adding another drive and trying again.  The log output is misleading.  This is not a connection problem, you’re just out of space.

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Recurring problem with Synergy on Windows 7 and my workaround

I run a program called Synergy that allows me to use one keyboard and mouse on multiple computers at the same time.  It’s a handy feature for power users.  Unfortunately, I’ve found that just about any time I install or change any network settings on my Windows 7 box, which is the server for this program, it breaks the set up.  I’ve tried all sorts of things, re-installing, troubleshooting the route, turning up logging but I’ve had this happen two times now and the only solution I’ve found is to re-install the Synergy server program AS ADMINISTRATOR.  Then it magically works.  For what it’s worth, I am running version 1.4.4 64-bit.  Hope this helps you if you’re having the same problem.  Oh, and the latest change was that I installed OpenVPN.

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What’s in my Laptop Bag

Context is everything when you talk about what is working so well for me.  Because what works well for me and my work and life requirements may not fit your needs.

I work fairly flexible hours and while I do travel a little bit most of my time is spent working at home or at the office.  Also, the datacenters I support are not located in Kansas City.  I bring that up so that other geeks out there understand why I’m not toting around a bunch of tools that are uniquely suited to datacenter work.  I’m familiar with most of them, but since I can’t get them through flight security and don’t need them locally, I don’t pack them.

The Basics

  1. My corporate issued laptop w/ power brick
  2. Sprint Aircard
  3. 9′ cat5
  4. My CD Rescue Kit
  5. Toothbrush and toothpaste
  6. Phone Charger
  7. Legal Pad and Pen (I take notes better with hard copy)
  8. Spare Business Cards(around 25)
  9. O’Reilly RegEx Pocket Reference that Ironport gave me at training
  10. Spare charger for my bluetooth headset
  11. 8 tablets of benadryl and benadryl cream(I’m horribly allergic to poison ivy)
  12. Bug Repellent
  13. Kleenex
  14. Microfiber cloth
  15. Laptop lock
  16. Travel Mouse (tiny w/ retractable cable)

The Extraneous That I Still Find Useful

  1. My personal laptop w/ power brick
  2. wifi PCMCIA card(because my personal laptop is old and it’s not built in)
  3. Spare set of headphones
  4. Charge cable for my ipod
  5. DIY Altoids Survival Tin

There are a few things that others will wonder about.  Like where’s your Leatherman or Leatherman alternative?  Where’s your ipod?  And what about your phone?  Flashlight?  Earplugs?  Emergency Cash?  These items are usually in my cargo pockets or strapped to my belt.

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I’m Back!

I’m excited to announce that I will be regularly posting content again.  Recent changes in my Intellectual Property restrictions mean that I will soon be posting content more regularly and over the last years I’ve touched a whole lot of new technologies so it will be more varied than some of my older posts.  I’ll also be opening facebook and twitter accounts again.  I look forward to being able to chat with everyone again!  Oh, and by the way, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I’m not Catholic or Irish but who doesn’t love a holiday that’s full of cheer?  :)

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Graduated from KU and My Paper in the JCCC Writing Center

Boy, I’ve been really busy lately.  I finally completed all the coursework to complete my B.A. in Slavic Languages and Literature from The University of Kansas.  And while that’s very exciting, I’ve also unfortunately lost my grandfather recently.  He’s had heart problems for decades but they screwed up when they admitted him and he didn’t want to live on a ventilator so he has left this world of his own free will.  I will miss my papa, he was a good man and was instrumental in teaching me a love for knowledge and the environment.

As a part of me completing my coursework for my BA I took a class in Sociology on Marriage and Family taught by Professor Julia Spence, MA, at Johnson County Community College.  I was startled to find that I really enjoyed the class thoroughly and it taught me many things about how families in America work today that defy the images depicted on TV.  Frankly it made me feel better that maybe my family was a bit more normal than I had ever believed.  My final paper for the class was on how poverty is different in rural communities versus the urban images frequently used.  My professor enjoyed the paper sufficiently that she has placed it in the Johnson County Community College Writing Center so that future students can use it as a model for what is expected to receive an A grade.  I am very thankful for the recognition and am looking forward to working with her further on my future endeavors in Kansas City.

My small business is progressing as I’ve also recently attending some courses explaining the benefits of LLCs and informing me of the accounting requirements for a small business.  I plan on establishing my first LLC and making my second house habitable in the next few months.  So life is progressing, but not at the pace I expected.

I hope you are all doing well!  The snow is melting here in Kansas City and the flowers will be shortly blooming.  Everyone is smiling and just glad me made it through another winter in the Midwest!

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CVS notification emails

One of the guys at work wanted to get a notification when just one branch of his repository received a commit. I tried setting it up in the master.conf but never could get it to work for just one branch. Finally I googled around and found a nice explanation of how to do it with loginfo at this website.  The one minor issue I had was that the mail command on my cvs box did not include a -s flag, but I changed that over to mailx and we were up and running.

It goes without saying that you don’t want some propietary commit info to be sent in notification emails so if a developer requests this sort of set up ask a few questions about what data will be needed.  Also, add yourself to the notification list for a little while to see how the developers are using the tool.

Also, this is usually a beginner level issue, be sure that your box is configured to relay mail out.  A simple test message like below should get you an email in your inbox(check junk and spam filters).

Enter this as one line:

echo "test body" | mailx -s "test subject" blah@domain.com,distrolist@domain.com

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My Favorite Tree – Common Hackberry featured in TREE-News

Angela Schreffler asked me to write a short article for Heartland Tree Alliance last month about what my favorite tree was.  I thought about the decision for a while and ended up selecting the Common Hackberry.  It’s not the best tree in some situations, but it’s still my favorite.  You can read the write up over at Heartland Tree Alliance’s website.

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Unified Government Tree Board Appointment

I do some volunteer work with Heartland Tree Alliance on a regular basis.  I attended their Treekeepers course along with a friend of mine, Phil Williams, and since then we’ve pruned some trees, mulched some trees and educated the public about how HTA can help their city, the environment, etc.  It’s a fun way to get outdoors and actually do something to help with our hands.

Anyhow, the Unified Government has decided that they would like to set up a Tree Board and Angela Schreffler, the coordinator at HTA, recommended me to sit on the board.

The Tree Board meets monthly and works on the issues that trees present in Wyandotte County and Kansas City, KS.  So far we’ve been talking about trying to get the city certified as a Tree City USA by The Arbor Day Foundation, activities to run on Earth Day, codifying which trees should and shouldn’t be planted on public property and we’re also working on getting a tree inventory executed.  It’s a two year appointment that is renewable and so far it’s been a really enjoyable experience.  Frankly, I’m really proud that the local government has taken such a serious step to control climate change, alleviate the heat island effect of cities and just generally make Kansas City a great place to live when we have such challenging financial issues.

Treekeepers 2009 Schedule(PDF)

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Change in hosting

I’m still hosting with Dreamhost, however I’ve changed to having a Virtual Machine that is assigned just to me.  So I have guaranteed memory and CPU.  You shouldn’t see any difference and in fact the website seems to be running much faster to me.  However, should you experience any difficulties, please let me know so I can figure out what’s going on.

Thanks!

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