Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Project Plan

I spent a lot of time today working on my Exchange 2003 project plan. I wish I had a real project manager to work with, there are just some of the things that I am not very good at that project managers I’ve worked with in the past did very well. One is the ability to take control of meetings and follow up relentlessly on tasks. Also, a good project manager tends to be able to solve various disputes between team members on everything from document wording to major design points. Anyway, I have about 350 tasks so far, and I’m no where near done.

It was also a meeting day, we met on requirements for Exchange 2003. I also had to call into the conference call for the integration of a recently acquired company; I’ll probably be working on that project tomorrow. I know I have at least one meeting on that tomorrow having to do with fax requirements integrated with e-mail. Late in the afternoon, there was a meeting to discuss moving a storage area network from one building in Baltimore to another building in Baltimore, its only about 7 blocks away. There are two Exchange servers attached to this SAN. These two Exchange servers happen to hold the majority of our Executives and other high profile users. What fun. Anyway, it was kind of an odd meeting, nobody could agree if it actually had to be done or not. We all agreed that since that small datacenter needs to be shut down anyway, it would be a good idea. But without a good requirement, we will not get that downtime approved, and since there is no date set for shutting down that datacenter, we don’t have a good justification for the large amount of downtime. It really isn’t up to us on the E-mail team, it all depends on how bad the IT management wants to get that SAN out of there.

Amy made chicken and dumplings tonight for dinner, it was good. I made sure to eat light for lunch today, I had a feeling that Amy was going to make another big meal that I like, it is a big mail kind of week.

Alex has watched “Finding Nemo” 10 times so far this week, at least it seems like it.

Crab Cakes

Amy made crab cakes last night for dinner on her new stove, actually, in the broiler. I was looking forward to having crab cakes for dinner but I wasn’t really thinking about that when I downed a big lunch provided during a meeting at work. I had a large helping of lasagna, four slices of buttered bread, and a pastry. When I got home, after picking up a pot roast for later in the week and the mayonnaise for the crab cakes, I wasn’t really hungry enough to eat very much. I made myself a plate anyway, and ate my salad. After eating about half the crab cake, I just couldn’t eat much more. It was a good crab cake, I just didn’t have the room for it.

I need to remember to take it easy on lunches this week. It is a week of big dinners on the menu. Amy is going to be using her new stove and oven a lot. I can tell she is happy with it, last night she was explaining all the new features. It sounds rather complicated if you ask me but then again, I’m not the one that does the majority of the cooking in the house. If Amy likes it, I’m happy too.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Weekend Swim with Fishes

This was an Andrew weekend. As usual, I picked him up at seven o’clock from his mother’s house. On the way home we stopped at the store and bought lettuce and tomato for sandwiches on Saturday. We also bought some baked lays and a two liter bottle of the new mountain dew pitch black.

Saturday, we went to the community pool for the day. Amy made a picnic lunch that included peanut butter sandwiches and goldfish for the kids, for us she made deli sandwiches with lettuce and tomato. We also had baked lays of course, and we all had some of Amy’s home made fudge for a snack. As for the swimming, Andrew loved it. It turned out not to be the family togetherness event that I thought it would be as Andy is to old for the little pool, and Alex wasn’t ready for the big pool yet. Fortunately, Alex decided he wanted to come over to the big pool with Andrew and me. Of course, Amy came too. We got to the pool around twelve thirty, and didn’t leave until about five. That is a day of swimming that Andrew has never seen, at least with me. Alex and Andrew had a lot of fun swimming.

After the pool on Saturday, we realized that the air conditioner in the house wasn’t really cooling things down very much. When I checked it out, it was all iced up so I decided to turn it off for the night and turn on fans. Our room got cool but the kids were still hot, and Andrew kept coming out of his room and eventually ended up sleeping next to me. In the morning, I noticed a large pool of water had formed in the bottom of the air handler unit, what fun, I snapped some pictures and e-mailed them to my mom so she could ask my stepfather what I should do. In short, we think it might be low on the cooling gas, or the internal fan might not be pushing the air properly, causing it to freeze up. I borrowed their shop vac and sucked out all the water. The air is back on, but it still doesn’t seem quite right.

We picked up the movie, “Finding Nemo” today and when we got home from dropping Andrew off, Amy, Alex and I watched it. Alex sat still throughout the whole movie, I was surprised, but he really seemed to enjoy it, so, that was good. I thought the movie was good myself. Well, off to brush my teeth before I go to bed, Amy gave me this huge chunk of fudge to eat, and I don’t want it to rot my teeth out tonight.

Friday, August 27, 2004

9/11 Toy - Pissed me off

This is just crazy:

From Fox News — Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center (search) were packed inside more than 14,000 bags of candy and sent to small groceries around the country before being recalled.

I know fox news can be a little out there, but this deserves the press.

Breaking News

BREAKING NEWS President Bush signs executive orders strengthening powers of CIA director and establishing a new national counterterrorism center. Details soon.

Sometimes I wonder if it is realy breaking news, or CNN just says it is so we will want to read about it while getting advertised to. I wonder if Bush asked his father, a former CIA director himself, about this one.

Running out of disk space

When managing an e-mail system one of the most uncalled for things to happen is for your system to run out of disk space. Well, that is what happened here yesterday after I left. One thing that is different from where I work now than what I have experience before, is that they allow some mail users to have no limit at all, making it hard to plan for the overall storage requirements. Even with that said, I still can’t find an excuse for it. While most of this infrastructure and procedures were developed well before I started working here, I still feel like a complete idiot. I don’t know why, but this really pisses me off. Alerts were sent out regarding disk space for some time before the incident, but nothing was done. When I asked about the procedure that should be followed to resolve such an event, I got a few different answers, and nothing in writing. If you ask me, the organization has deemed running out of disk space something that is perfectly ok, of course, that is not the case, when the disk space runs out, a couple of hundred users are suddenly left without e-mail functionality. We really need to change the way we operate, unfortunately, it seems that our leadership still hasn’t realized that. It will probably just be added to the Exchange 2003 project, fun.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Wedding Pictures

Amy has the wedding pictures up on her website.

This one is probably my favorite:

Alex wasn’t very interested in having his picture taken and Andrew, well, he never has photographed that well. Aaron however, really hammed it up for the camera. We only took a few pictures of the honeymoon. We never seemed to pull out the camera when there was something worth taking a picture of.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Wiggles

Amy and Alex are at the Wiggles concert. We got the tickets about two months ago and we couldn’t get three seats together so Amy and Alex got the two tickets. I dropped them off and went to work for a little while. Alex likes the wiggles, but not as much as he used to, I hope he enjoys himself.

Amy and I met with my, our, financial advisor today. It was her first time. We are looking at getting some term life policies. It is not easy to think about the money needed in an event one of us dies, but it has to be done. Needless to say, it is a lot. Thankfully, term life insurance is cheap enough for healthy people our age.

When it comes to work, I’ve been working hard on my two big projects, one is the Exchange 2003 upgrade project, I spent a good part of the day hammering out the project plan, or at least the planning phase. Also there is the migration of our newly acquired Louisville office, they are running Exchange 5.5 and will be migrated into our current Exchange 2000 environment in mid September. Hopefully I’ll have the server turned over to me today so I can install and configure Exchange and supporting applications.

Sunday, August 22, 2004


Amy and I are married now :). I’m looking forward to a happy rest of our lives together with three more children to add to the two we already have between us. We spent this weekend in Ocean City and it was great, I only wish it would have been for longer. We got in late on Friday night and didn’t have time to do anything in particular, but we too the time to walk down the boardwalk and get some Thrashers fries, then went back to the hotel and went to bed. We slept in late the next morning, once we were up and going, we played a round of miniature golf, then grabbed some funnel cake on the boardwalk for a snack. After the snack, Amy got her ears pierced for the first time; we got these little pearl starter earrings for her that matched the pearl necklace she was wearing. Dinner was something that I wanted to give to Amy for a long long time; crabs. We went to Watermans seafood restaurant in West Ocean City and ordered the all you can eat crab, shrimp, & corn on the cob special. Amy must have eaten about 18 crabs. She really likes crabs a lot, me, I like them, but I only ate 3 and about 12 claws from Amy’s crabs. I ate a lot of shrimp though, and hushpuppies. Dinner took 3 hours, during that time it started pouring down rain, but by the time we finished, it was pretty much done raining. We went back to the room for a while; about ten o’clock, we went out for some more Thrashers fries, they are so good. Went back to the room, went to bed, woke up, and checked out. It was such a short trip, we could have done so many more things, but there just isn’t the time. Alex will be back at six o’clock tonight and life will get back to a normal routine. Once we got home, we went out shopping for a new range for the kitchen, the one Amy has wanted for a long time. We also shot a few games of pool. Now it is just time to sit and wait for Alex, and do some laundry. Pictures will show up sometime soon on http://www.modernprincess.com.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Getting Married Today

Getting married today - going to the beach after.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

News Web Sites & Olympic Reporting

Ok, I understand that everyone wants to be the first to report a breaking story with all the details but two days in a row, my Olympic watching evenings were missing some of the thrill. I can thank the Baltimore Sun for that, the front page of their website headlined, “Phelps Wins Gold!”. I visit the Sun’s website often as I do other news sites like CNN. CNN does not indicate any results on its front page, if you want to know who won, you will have to click the link to the story. I think CNN reports the news responsibly, while the Sun is not. I want to watch the races, root for the USA, and hold my breath for the last few strokes or steps to see who wins it.

How about Paul Hamm on the USA men’s gymnastic team? One of the events that I didn’t see the results before it aired on NBC was the men’s individual all around gymnastics event. After he fell into the judge’s arms on the vault, I figured it was over for the US team and since it was late, I decided to just go to sleep. The next morning, I was reading up on the results from the day before and to my surprise, he won. His last two events must have been near perfect and some of the other competitors must have made some big mistakes.

My son, Andrew, loves to swim, and his favorite events are the swimming events. He is here with me tonight so that he can be in the wedding tomorrow, and he immediately gravitated toward the TV when the swimming was on. He would turn and sign, “swimming, swimming, swimming”. He gets so excited; you can really tell that he likes watching it.

Getting Married

I don’t want to post anything today because it will move the cute picture of Alex down on the page. But then again, if I never post anything new, why have the blog in the first place?

I’m getting married tomorrow; I’m looking forward to taking Amy as my wife. She has been stressed lately due to all the last minute things with the wedding. I have just been making it worse with all of my waiting until the last minute to do things or tell her things.

Our wedding is nothing fancy, a trip to the court house with family and a few close friends. We are going to be a bit over dressed for a court house wedding, but that is ok with me. After the wedding, we are not going to have a typical reception; we are simply going to the Olive Garden for a meal. There will be 18 people attending the wedding and reception, including Amy and I, I hope they all order cheap, this is going onto my discover card. I have gotten a few offers to help me out with the restaurant bill.

After the wedding we will be going to Ocean City for the weekend. The one thing I really want to do is to take Amy out for all you can eat crabs. Since we’ve been together I’ve known she’s like good ole Maryland steamed blue crabs, but I have yet to take her to a crab house to get some. I know there are a lot of places to do that in OC, most of them have a wait, but it is worth it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Alex and the Airplane

After dinner tonight I took Alex out for some fun. Amy wanted to work on cleaning up a bit and it is not an easy thing to do with Alex in the house uncleaning what was just cleaned. Our first stop was the Frederick Municipal Airport. One of Alex’s most favorite things are airplanes and helicopters. Both of which we saw at the airport today. Two different helicopters and several airplanes were taking off and landing.

After that we went to the mall to walk around and play in the play area. I bought him three matchbox cars from KB Toys, let throw a few coins in the fountain, and let him ride one of those little fifty cent mall rides. He had a lot of fun. We stopped at the ATM, the grocery store, and then went home. He was pretty ready for bed, but not before opening his cars, playing with them for a few minutes, lining them up on his dresser, and saying, “night night cars”.

Monday, August 16, 2004


I’ve been reading up on HDTV, something I never really paid attention to it until I got the new television. Now, I find that everything else I have is outdated. While DVD Players don’t specifically support HDTV standard, progressive scan, 480p makes a difference. My DVD Player is from 1999 and only supports 480i. The current DVD player also doesn’t play anything burned, not audio CDs, not video CDs, and not burned DVDs. Most of the new ones support all of that as well as mp3’s. That would be nice.

Digital cable & Satellite are the next thing on the HDTV list. None of them are good. Adelphia’s web site doesn’t say much about what HD programming they offer, I guess I’m going to have to call them. I checked out direct tv, but they only offer 4 standard HD channels, plus local channels for Washington DC area that I don’t really care about. There is a satellite network called Voom that offers a ton of HD channels, but no local channels. They tout the broadcast channels, but in Frederick MD, there isn’t much in the way of broadcast reception.

I just found out that most Xbox games support 480p and many support higher HDTV resolutions of 720p and 1080i. Along with the Play Station 2, some of the games also support widescreen 16x9 format. The lists I saw had a lot of sports games like football and racing supporting 16x9.

This is all good news, except for the fact that I have to buy a lot of new stuff. The TV has two component video inputs, limiting me to HDTV devices. If I wanted to run digital cable, Xbox, & a progressive scan DVD player, I’d be out of luck without buying a new home theatre receiver that supports component video switching. I’d also have to purchase some new cables and connectors that wont be cheap. That being said, I hope to perform these upgrades over time, probably starting with a new DVD player.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Kids, Dog, & More TV

This is the weekend where there are two kids in the house. Andrew is here and Alex is here. They can be quite a handful. Yesterday we stayed inside because the kept telling us on the weather that it was going to start raining soon and start raining heavy a little bit after that. The storm was well east of us, and although it did rain, it didn’t rain very much or very hard, nor was there any wind to speak of. On Friday night, I walked Brad’s dog with Andrew, and the last to mornings, Alex came with me to walk the dog. Last night I went by myself because there was a little drizzle.

It is the first weekend with the new TV in the house. The kids got to watch some of their shows in the morning. We caught some Olympic events in the afternoon. Andrew really liked watching the swimming and diving. Swimming is Andrew’s favorite thing in the world. After the kids went to bed, Amy and I watched Starsky and Hutch, the movie. It was pretty funny. We borrowed it from her brother and he bought the full screen version, so we still haven’t had the chance to see a wide screen DVD on the wide screen TV.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

First Photo, Brad's Dog, & Marriage License

I left work early today so that Amy and I could go down to the Frederick County Court House and get our marriage license. We spent a lot of time to gather all of our important documents like birth certificates, social security cards, etc, things that they told us we needed. Well, they didn’t ask for any of it. We are license number 10001, pretty cool number if you ask me.

After that, we finally got the TV stand built and everything set up in the basement.

We got the TV set up and started watching it after dinner and I almost forgot to walk Brad's dog. Good thing Amy saw the keys and reminded me. Lucky for me, the the dog held it until about 9.

Fire Drill

It has been a while since I’ve had a fire drill, but this company prides itself on safety, and fire drills are the norm. Today, I hear this strange noise, and I was trying to figure out what it was, and hear someone say fire alarm. Ok, must be a fire drill, because the building isn’t on fire as far as I can tell. On our way out, I notice that it is a slight drizzle, and a co-worker who used to live in Oregon said, this is like Oregon rain. Then, the sky’s opened up, and it started pouring down rain. What fun, we made for the nearest tree, it protected us a little but it didn’t seem like that much until the sounded the all clear and we headed for the door. Yes, it was really raining hard and heavy. To top it off, it is very cold in our office, so now, I’m wet, and cold. Fortunately that cold office temperature forced me to wear a jacket most of the time, and I had it on when I went outside. I must say, I fared a little better than some of my coworkers.

House and TV

Amy and I have been living in our house for one year now. In a way, it seems like longer, but in another way, it doesn’t seem so long. I moved in on August 11th, the day of settlement, slept on the floor, and Amy and Alex moved in the day after. During that week we moved a SUV load of stuff each day after I got off of work, and several on the weekend.

Last night I picked up the 47” TV that I have been looking at. Brad helped me pick it up from Costco, but it didn’t quite fit in his GMC Envoy, we had to take it out of the box. It is a good thing he had a knife, because that was pretty much required to get it out of the box. After I got it home, I ate some dinner, and then Amy and I went back out to Target to get a stand for the TV because it sits a little low. Not thinking that I was going to be getting a large stand for a large TV, we went in my car, and of course, the box for the stand was never going to fit in my car. I thought for a minute, and then called Richard, who offered to lend me his Rendezvous to pick it up with. While I was there, I conscripted Richard’s brother Dan to help me out.

Once everything was home, we went to work on getting the TV set up. Sounds easy, but first, our bedroom had to be re-configured because the 27” TV was moving from the family room to the bedroom. After re-arranging the furniture in the bedroom, I had to disconnect all of the other electronics connected to the small TV, and I carried the small TV stand and the 27” TV up to floors to the master bedroom. While I was doing that, Amy was working on building the new TV stand in the basement. By about 11:15, we decided that we were no where near done and left it at that and went to bed.

Thanks to Brad, Richard, & Dan for helping me get all of this stuff to my house. Of course, especially thanks to Amy for providing funding for the majority of the TV.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Air Plane, Helicopter, Boats, Fire Truck, Car, Bus, & Choo Choo Train

When I got home from work yesterday, Alex was timed out for disobeying and hitting Amy, and generally being bad. After his time out I went to his room to play with him a little. We played the game where I point to his wall decorations and say “What’s that?” and he says what it is. He can say all of them: Air Plane, Helicopter, Boat (there are two boats), Fire Truck, Car, Bus, & Choo Choo Train. In an attempt to keep us both busy I decided to play some Battlefield Vietnam with him on my lap. Of course, I would fly the air plane for him. I was flying against bots, when they are in helicopters they don’t seem to be to evasive, so, Alex got to see a lot of helicopters, and then see them get shot down. When I would get a hit, or get shot down myself, he would say, “Where did air plane go?” He enjoyed it for a while until dinner.

Monday, August 09, 2004

LAN Party and a TV

Saturday was the long anticipated LAN party at Richard’s house. It was a blast, all my practice in the F4 Phantom really paid off. I was doing a lot of flying on a map called operation flaming dart. Sgt Cueball and I had quite a few dog fights. It was crazy, if I found him behind me, I could not seem to shake him in a conventional turn, he could always turn inside me. I would have to break away and run, then come back. I also got a good score with dropping the napalm bombs. Speaking of napalm, napalm, the player and I had a good time in the attack helicopter. He would fly, since I suck at flying, I was the secondary gunner, we made a good team. Richard was my pilot a few times, but he crashed a little much! Sgt. Cueball and I had a personal ground war going on too at first, it seemed like he was killing me, and I was killing him. I’d really like to get Amy a computer that could run these games, she likes to play, but I have a hard time giving up my computer. The whole time I was practicing my Battlefield Vietnam skills, I didn’t include her. She ended up going out with a couple of her friends on Saturday instead.

Sunday I went looking at TV’s and some other things. I have wanted a big screen TV since we moved in to the new house, but never had the money for it. Amy has offered $700 toward a new TV and said I could spend $300 more. We found one at Costco that we like, it isn’t huge, only 47” but it is on sale for $899 this week. I think we are going to get it. But I wanted to look and see if there were better things to spend the money on, so we looked at some furniture and appliances also. I really want a nice dining room set, but I am not willing to go cheap on it. I figure when it is all said and done I will probably spend $2500 to $3500 on the dining room. A lot of the expense comes from wanting seating for eight and a china cabinet that matches. Hopefully I’ll be able to put my tax refund toward that next year. So, the TV is a better use of the money.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

NetApps Suck

I had my big meeting today with Microsoft and Network Appliance today. After they reviewed the design, the Network Appliance engineer informed me that there were two Windows 2003 features that I had designed that was not supported by NetApp storage devices. One was Windows 2003 mount points on a cluster server, the other was using 5 nodes in a cluster, NetApps only work with four. Those limitations basically made the entire system unscalable without deploying entirely new clusters. I need the mount points to get around the 26 drive letter limitation for physical disk devices. As for the number of cluster nodes, to solve a perceived performance problem, my supervisor wanted 14 active nodes. I was going to plan four 5 node clusters with 4 active nodes and one passive node. The plan now is to deploy four 4 node clusters with 3 active nodes and one passive node. That only gives us 12 mailbox servers. It is plenty, but I was hoping to be able to talk them down to just two clusters with 6 nodes, 4 active and 2 passive each with room to scale each cluster to two more nodes (windows 2003 supports 8 node clusters). Basically, NetApp forces us to build it as if we were using Windows 2000.

Why use NetApp, well, that is a corporate standard. It does do a few good things, snapshot backups, and snap mirror technology to replicate the data over the wan to another datacenter. Those are features we need, but it almost seems not worth it when it comes to the limitations involved. I would prefer to use EMC’s storage technology, it would meet all of those requirements.

Tomorrow, I go full throttle in design mode, keeping in mind my limiting storage back ends.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Taco Night

Amy made tacos for dinner. She doesn’t like tacos, but once in a while she makes them for me. Actually tonight she made me and Alex tacos and a chicken quesadilla for herself (yeah, I had to look up how to spell that word). It was good. She also made cookies today; I will be eating some of those later, with some milk if there is enough.

I started another project at work; well I started it last week, but just got around to writing the project plan today. I just have to integrate a small acquired company’s e-mail system into our corporate e-mail system. It could be easy, or it could be hard, it depends on the business requirements that I have yet to see.

Monday, August 02, 2004

New Boots & Dress Shoes

Got a pair of size 7 ½ dress shoes, those were for Alex to wear to the wedding and I got myself a pair of size 10 boots to replace the ones I didn’t like the ones I had. They were getting kind of old and when I broke the shoe lace on Saturday, I figured that was it and I’d get a new pair. It’s not like I didn’t need them.

Amy made crab soup for dinner, it was so good. I loved the taste but I’m such a light weight when it comes to spice, and she used a bit of old bay seasoning. I still liked it though, in fact I’m going to eat some leftovers right after I finish writing this. Of course, there will be a few pieces of toast on my menu too, so I can deal with the spice. Tomorrow we are having tacos, one of my favorites.

Timesheets that suck

Where I work, we have one of the worst time entry system I have ever seen. For one, it is an oracle java application that you have to run through your browser. I was entering my time, and had some overtime on Sunday that I had to enter, well, normally you just hit tab when you enter the time, but on Sunday’s overtime box, if you hit tab, you end up on the next row and you can’t get out of it, and you can’t save your timesheet without entering something. It’s a real pain. On top of that, printing takes about 7 different steps, you can’t just click print! If that wasn’t bad enough, my time for the week ending July 18th wasn’t completely filled in before my supervisor approved it, causing me a lot of problems because I still had to enter Friday’s time and Saturday’s overtime. Had to call the helpdesk who had me call someone who was on vacation, called the helpdesk back, and they gave me another number to call. After all of that, my time is finally entered and I’m off to fax them so I can get paid.