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SethBlog - Seth Bokelman

Seth Bokelman's Weblog

Last Build Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2015 18:42:30 +0000


How do you find those fares?

Sat, 25 Jul 2015 18:38:08 +0000

Most of our friends and family know that we like to travel, and that we don't like spending a ton of money to do so.  The Boarding Area has a great blog post today that explains a little bit about jumping on "mistake fares", and I'd strongly suggest reading it if you're interested in scoring a ticket to an exotic location for less than you'll often pay to fly domestically.

It's important to note that if you're the kind of person who wants to visit a specific city on a specific weekend, or you need a week to "think about it" before booking an international trip, you might as well not even bother.  The keys to scoring these deals are to notice them when they happen (I follow some key Twitter accounts that tend to broadcast them, such as The Flight Deal, which is mentioned in the article) and booking them immediately, often within an hour or two of them being found.  Many of the airlines will let you cancel a fare for free within the first 24 hours, so book the trip first, then ask your boss for the time off!

Often these cheap fares tend to be for travel in the winter or shoulder seasons, but we've found that the lack of crowds often makes up for slightly cooler weather.

Here are a few examples of crazy cheap sales and/or mistake fares that we've flown, all were round trip:

Chicago to London for $221
London to Florence for $16
Chicago to Paris for $250
Chicago to Johannesburg, South Africa for $390
Chicago to Beijing for $528
Minneapolis to Copenhagen for $351

Other Twitter accounts to follow:

Fare Deal Alert

Steal This Trip

AirFare Watchdog (Consider signing up to receive a daily email from their site showing you the fares that are on sale from your home airport as well)

Rest in peace, Grandpa

Sat, 18 Jul 2015 18:00:00 +0000

My grandfather, Henry Hollis Bokelman, passed away last month following a couple years of poor health.  I lived with him and my grandmother for my last three years of high school, and it was difficult watching someone so robust slide into the infirmity of old age the last couple of years.

Here is his obituary:

Henry “Hank” Hollis Bokelman, 88 of Ventura, died Monday, June 8, 2015, at Oakwood Care Center in Clear Lake.

A funeral service will be 1:30 p.m. Thursday, June 11, 2015, at Ward-Van Slyke Colonial Chapel, 101 N. 4th St., Clear Lake, with Pastor Scott Kozisek officiating. Burial will be in Clear Lake Cemetery, with military honors provided by the Clear Lake Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4868. Visitation will be from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, 2015, at Ward-Van Slyke Colonial Chapel.

Hank was born June 18, 1926, the son of Hollis and Vida (Rosenau) Bokelman, in Ventura. He grew up and attended school in Ventura, graduating from Ventura High School. He was united in marriage to Irma Schultz on June 22, 1946 at the Little Brown Church in Nashua. He was a United States Army veteran, stationed at Camp Sykes in Kyongju, Korea. After serving his country, he returned home to Ventura, where he farmed all of his life.

Hank was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5515 in Garner. Besides spending time with his family, Hank enjoyed fishing and hunting. He took many trips to Montana to hunt elk, and a few years ago took a dream trip to Canada to catch the big ones.

Hank is survived by his wife, Irma Bokelman of Ventura; four children, Hank (Ann) Bokelman of Hanlontown, John Bokelman of Ventura, Ruth (James) Conn of Volin, S.D., and Jane (David) Easton of Cedar Falls; seven grandchildren, Seth (Holly) Bokelman, Jessica (Scott) Rosendaul, William Conn, Elizabeth (Mitch) Hessman, Ashley (Lee) Geisinger, Cole Easton, and Tess Easton; and five great-grandchildren, Lela Geisinger, Jax Geisinger, Ella Rosendaul, Ethan Rosendaul, and Dylan Rosendaul.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

NetBackup Hyper-V backups with Equallogic result in error 56

Thu, 22 May 2014 15:46:41 +0000

I've spent the better part of the last two days working with a co-worker who is a Hyper-V administrator trying to figure out why backing up VMs on his new Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V cluster were failing with error 156. We initially were using the default (auto) snapshot provider type, and that failed, showing a number of errors in the Hyper-V host's log relating to SNMP being unable to communicate with Physical Disks in the SAN. (image)

This clued us in that it must be attempting to use snapshots at the array level rather than in the operating system. Changing the option to "Software" worked some of the time but still resulted in occasional 156 errors, changing it to "System" failed completely. But we opted not to engage Microsoft on this, but rather to try to solve the hardware-based snapshots first.

Today, he contacted Equallogic support, and together properly configured the Equallogic's support for VSS. Notably, enabling VSS access, and setting access permissions from "Volume Only" to "Volumes and Snapshots". That cleared up the error below:


In addition, the Host Integration Toolkit was upgraded to 4.7. After that was done, setting the snapshot type back to "auto" was successful, and performance is quite good, with the 1Gbps Hyper-V host NIC acting as the bottleneck for the backups.

Watching in the Equallogic management console, you can clearly see the snapshots being created at the array level during backups now.

I thought I'd post this, as administering vSphere on Equallogic, I would not have expected the array to get itself involved in backup operations unless explicitly configured, but apparently it does for Hyper-V deployed against Equallogic, at least when using NetBackup with the snapshot provider type set to auto.

Reducing latency on Equallogic storage with VMware vSphere

Wed, 21 May 2014 13:54:07 +0000

I had an older Equallogic PS6000E SAN, configured for RAID 6 that was attached to a couple of vSphere hosts. Being comprised of a bunch of 1TB 7200 RPM SATA disks, it wasn't exactly built for performance and I would often see it top out on IOPS for long periods of time in SAN HQ. After a bit of shuffling in our other datacenter, I freed up a PS6000XV SAN (600GB 15,000 RPM disks, in RAID 10) and decided to add it to the same pool in order to utilize the auto-tiering capabilities and boost performance of the SATA SAN. My problems with IOPS were solved, but read latency remained stubbornly high. As I spent more time looking at the graphs, I realized that, strangely, the latency was highest when the IOPS were lowest, which is the opposite of what you'd expect. Shouldn't requests be answered faster when there is less work to do?

I did a bit of Googling, and decided to re-read the Best Practices for VMware guide for Dell's Equallogic storage. Buried inside there are two very helpful tips, that I don't remember being there years ago when I set up those SANs for the first time.

The important bits are found on pages 9-11. The section on Delayed ACK describes EXACTLY what I was seeing, so I disabled it, and Large Receive Offload (LRO) for good measure. Note that this will require a reboot of your hosts, but that's what we have vMotion for, right?

As you can see in the graphs below, the improvements in my read latency were pretty stunning and instant. If you are experiencing high latency during periods of relatively low IOPS with your Equallogic SANs, then definitely give this a try.



PowerShell script to create numerous DHCP scopes

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 17:02:34 +0000

Let's say you need to create a whole bunch of DHCP scopes in the Windows DHCP server, and you don't feel like spending hours using the wizard, or manually constructing all the netsh commands you need to do it from the command line. I had this very problem last week, so I hacked together this script to take a CSV file with all the details needed for the scopes, and output a .cmd file that I can simply run against my DHCP server to create them all. I've only included the DHCP options for router address, DNS servers, and DNS suffix, but you could certainly add more.

## SCRIPT.........: Create-Scope.ps1 
## AUTHOR.........: Seth H. Bokelman 
## EMAIL..........: 
## VERSION........: 1 
## DATE...........: 2012-04-030 
## REQUIREMENTS...: Powershell v2.0 
## DESCRIPTION....: Creates a CMD file to create numerous DHCP scopes 
## NOTES..........: Requires CSV file with these fields: SCOPE, MASK, NAME, DESC 
## CUSTOMIZE......: 
# IP address of DHCP server 
$DHCPServer = ""

#IP address of DNS servers 
$DNS1 = "" 
$DNS2 = ""

# Stores current date & time in a sortable format 
$date = Get-Date -format s

# Name of output batch file 
$outputfile = "C:DHCPscopes.cmd"

# Assumes a CSV with 8 columns listed above. 
$ips = import-csv "C:input.csv"

$ips | %{
add-content -Encoding ASCII -Path $outputfile -Value "netsh dhcp server $DHCPServer add scope $($_.SCOPE) $($_.MASK) `"$($_.NAME)`" `"$date - $($_.DESC)`""
add-content -Encoding ASCII -Path $outputfile -Value "netsh dhcp server $dhcpserver scope $($_.SCOPE) set optionvalue 3 IPADDRESS $($_.ROUTER)"
add-content -Encoding ASCII -Path $outputfile -Value "netsh dhcp server $dhcpserver scope $($_.SCOPE) set optionvalue 6 IPADDRESS $DNS1 $DNS2"
add-content -Encoding ASCII -Path $outputfile -Value "netsh dhcp server $dhcpserver scope $($_.SCOPE) set optionvalue 15 STRING `"$($_.DNSSUFFIX)`""
add-content -Encoding ASCII -Path $outputfile -Value "netsh dhcp server $dhcpserver scope $($_.SCOPE) add iprange $($_.STARTIP) $($_.ENDIP)"
add-content -Encoding ASCII -Path $outputfile -Value "netsh dhcp server $DHCPserver scope $($_.SCOPE) set state 1"
## END

Powershell script for creating DHCP reservation batch file

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 15:10:58 +0000

I've taken a handy script from Clint McGuire that creates batch files to aid in creating large groups of DHCP reservations and modified it a little bit to also insert the date in a sortable format at the start of the description field. Posting it here in case anyone else finds it useful:

## SCRIPT.........: Create-Reservation.ps1
## AUTHOR.........: originally: Clint McGuire, modified by Seth H. Bokelman
## EMAIL..........:
## VERSION........: 2
## DATE...........: 2012-04-020
## COPYRIGHT......: 2011, Clint McGuire
## LICENSE........:
## REQUIREMENTS...: Powershell v2.0
## DESCRIPTION....: Creates an CMD file to add reservations to DHCP.
## NOTES..........: Requires CSV file with 4 fields, IP, MAC, NAME and DESC
## CUSTOMIZE......:
# IP address of DHCP server
$DHCPServer = ""

# DHCP Scope you'd like reservations created for
$DHCPscope = ""

# Stores current date & time in a sortable format
$date = Get-Date -format s

# Name of output batch file 
$outputfile = "C:\DHCPreservations.cmd"

# Assumes a CSV with four columns, MAC, IP, NAME and DESC.
$ips = import-csv "C:\accesspoints.csv"

$ips | %{
add-content -Encoding ASCII -Path $outputfile -Value "netsh Dhcp Server $DHCPServer Scope $DHCPScope Add reservedip $($_.IP) $($_.MAC) `"$($_.NAME)`" `"$date - $($_.DESC)`" `"DHCP`""
## END

Wordpress 3.2

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 21:38:27 +0000

Wordpress 3.2 is out, upgrading this site to it turned out to be problematic, as I was still using MySQL version 4, and this new version requires 5! I use GoDaddy for my hosting, and found this excellent post detailing how to set up a new database and move the content over. I can report that it worked just fine...

My new PC, part III

Sat, 02 Jul 2011 20:33:26 +0000

Since at least a couple people reading this have expressed interest in building a similar machine, I'm going to continue explaining why I chose the parts I ddi for my new machine: Intel i5-2500K CPU I typically prefer to use AMD processors whenever possible in both my home machines and in the servers I buy at work, but with the dominance that Intel is currently displaying on the desktop, choosing anything other than a "Sandy Bridge" chip didn't seem to make a lot of sense. I've always thought that AMD chips represented a very good value, and I think that continues to be true, but I was looking to get as much performance as I could reasonably afford, and had the budget for Intel. Intel has broken their mainstream chips into the i3, i5, and i7 families. The i3 chips are aimed at budget and entry-level machines, the i5 at mainstream machines, and the i7 at performance & enthusiast computers. Intel has also made a few parts, such as the i5-2500K and the i7-2600K that are purely aimed at enthusiasts building their own machines. The K designator in the model number indicates chips with an unlocked clock multiplier, chips that are practically guaranteed to overclock, as that's the only reason to care about an unlocked multiplier… I've had a few people ask me why I didn't go with the i7-2600 instead of my i5-2500K. My reasoning was simple, the only real difference between the two is hyperthreading support on the i7. Since I don't have a lot of apps (especially games) that can use more than 4 CPU cores, I didn't really feel it was worth the price premium. Sure, the i7 is 100mhz faster than the i5, but, using the stock cooler that came with my CPU, I easily overclocked my chip to 4.3Ghz just by using the auto-overclocking feature of my motherboard. Antec Three Hundred Case I chose the Antec case because it had pretty good reviews from real users, was from a quality manufacturer, and had a mounting space for a 2.5" hard drive. I like that all the edges inside are rounded, so you don't slice your hand up while working in it, and I also like that there's a handy chamber for stashing any extra power supply cables you're stuck with, if you're using a non-modular power supply like I am. The two included case fans are very quiet when run at their low setting, but they don't interface with the motherboard to let it throttle them, you have to open the case and flip their switches to the speed you desire. All-in-all, it's a solid choice, and my Radeon 6870 card easily fit between the case and the 3.5" hard drive spaces, and there are room for many drives. There is not an external 3.5" slot, however, so if you're dead-set on having a floppy drive in your case, you'll want to either get an adapter or look elsewhere. Same for a card reader. ASUS LGA 1155 Intel Z68 Chipset Motherboard P8Z68-V PRO I really waffled on what motherboard to purchase. I had a few requirements in mind. I really wanted 4 DIMM slots so I could expand beyond the initial 8GB of memory I purchased if I ever saw a smoking deal and wanted to go to 16GB. I also wanted the full ATX formfactor, and not one of the smaller variants, because my case had room for it. Sandy Bridge has three different chipsets, and the Z68 chipset is the top-of-the-line one, that incorporates the best parts of each of the two lesser chipsets. I initially had picked out this Gigabyte board, but it went out of stock as I was going to order it, so I stepped up to the more expensive Asus motherboard, and I can't say I'm disappointed. I was able to use the one-click overclock button in the Asus software to overclock my CPU to 4.3Ghz, and installing the drivers off the included DVD was pretty painless, with a nice little menu app that let you know what you were installing. The onboard audio works well, and this motherboard, combined with the i5-2500K, actually provides pretty decent integrated v[...]

My new PC, part II

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 22:52:06 +0000

As I wrote yesterday, I’ve built a new gaming PC for home, and I promised to write some more today about why I chose certain components.  I’ll write about two of them today, and talk a little bit about power consumption. Antec 620W Neo Eco Power Supply The first component I bought was the power supply.  Power supplies aren’t very exciting components, and the main reason I picked this one is that I saw it on a special on Slickdeals.  I knew that I wanted a power supply with enough power that I could eventually run two video cards in my computer (ATI/AMD calls this Crossfire) and this power supply can do that.  Also, I wanted something relatively energy efficient, and since this one has the 80 Plus certification, I won’t be wasting a lot of power by using it.  Antec is generally a quality brand, and this is a quality (and heavy)  power supply, but it isn’t a “modular” power supply, where you only attach the cables to power the specific components needed in your build.  As a result, I have a couple extra cables in my case, and it makes for a bit of a mess when you’re wiring it all up.  If I was doing this over again, I’d wait a bit longer for a deal to pop up on a modular supply, as it would make the finished product look much tidier. HIS Radeon 6870 Video Card (H687F1G2M) I spent a lot of time agonizing over which video card to purchase.  There are a LOT of options for video cards, at many different price points, and typically the way I choose one is by finding the fastest card at the price point I’m willing to spend.  I read numerous benchmarks, and fortunately, AnandTech is currently using Civilization 5 as one of their benchmarking games.  I’ve been playing this game quite a bit lately, so it’s a very useful benchmark, and it was pretty clear that in the $150-ish price range, the NVidia GeForce 460 cards offered the most bang for the buck in Civ 5.  However, I’ve also been mining some Bitcoins lately with my hardware, and for Bitcoin mining, the Radeon cards are the only way to go.  They’re also sort of confusing to buy, as the performance doesn’t scale cleanly with price, due to the way that the mining software uses the processing power of the card.  After pouring over a lot of breakdowns of cost, mining performance, and energy consumption, I decided on a Radeon 6870 card as being something that would perform well in Bitcoin mining, in games, and still come in at a price I could live with.  It’s actually faster than the GeForce 460 I mentioned above in most games, except for Civilization 5, but honestly, if you’re not interested in Bitcoin mining, go for the 460, you can often find good deals on them listed on Slickdeals, and you can save at least $25 over the cost of the Radeon 6870, which ran me $165 after rebate.  If you want to stick with the Radeon family, the slightly-slower Radeon 6850 is also a good choice, it’s just not nearly as good at Bitcoin mining as its bigger brother.   Power Consumption So, how much power does this new rig of mine use?  Can I actually turn a profit on my Bitcoin mining?  I plugged in my trusty Kill-A-Watt tonight to find out, and here are the results, not counting the monitor:   State Power consumption (watts) Off 0 Booting 100-130 Idle/Login Screen 70 Mining Bitcoins 182 Civilization V 196 Sleep 1 So, I’m clearly not stressing my 620W power supply yet, but these numbers let us easily calculate what it’s costing me to mine Bitcoins.  Our power costs us about 7.8 cents per kw-hr, so when mining Bitcoins, I’m using about 34 cents worth of power per day versus leaving my computer turned off.  At my current rate, I can earn a Bitcoin about every 4 days, and they’re currently trading at over $15 ea[...]

My new PC

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 20:55:42 +0000

As the refurbished Dell PC I bought about four years ago was getting to be a bit slow, I decided that I wanted to build myself a new PC this summer. I don't game as much on my PC as I used to, but with my current favorite, Sid Meier's Civilization V, being dog slow on my Inspiron 531, and Diablo III being just around the corner, now seemed like a good time for an update. My last three PCs were built by companies, Dell, iBuyPower, and Dell again. My Dell boxes were rock solid, my iBuyPower box had some issues pop up after a couple years, but on the whole, they worked. I'd gotten out of the habit of building my own PCs, because I'd gotten fed up with compatibility problems, flaky parts, and unstable and loud machines. Fortunately, the parts available to the PC enthusiast market have come a long ways in the last decade, and building my new PC wasn't hard at all. In fact, it passed the POST on the first try, and everything has worked well, other than the optical drive I forgot to connect to the motherboard at first. Oops. So, here's what's inside my new PC: Intel Core i5-2500K Processor 3.3GHz 6 MB Cache Socket LGA1155 Antec Three Hundred Gaming Case ASUS LGA 1155 Intel Z68 Chipset Motherboard P8Z68-V PRO HIS Radeon 6870 Video Card (H687F1G2M) Seagate Momentus XT 500 GB Solid State Hybrid Drive ST95005620AS PNY Optima 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) PC3-10666 1333MHz DDR3 RAM Lite-On iHAP422 22x DVD±RW Drive with LightScribe Antec 620W Neo Eco Power Supply So that's the parts list. I'll write more tomorrow about why I chose some of those components, how it turned out, and what I'd do differently, as well as break down the cost of building a gaming rig like this.[...]

More house shopping

Mon, 20 Jun 2011 10:35:55 +0000

We looked at several more houses this weekend:

  • 122 Damascus - This house is mechanically excellent, everything is in great shape, but it doesn't really excite us, there's no place for a big screen TV, unless we either do it in the "formal" living room area, or finish the basement, which may or may not stay dry...

  • 1458 Laurel Circle - This house is huge, but very dated inside, lots of space, which we love, but that kitchen has to go, and it's already so far up our price list that adding a kitchen remodel on top of it would probably be financially unwise...
  • 3414 Tucson - This house is just 2 blocks from our current home, and we really like the neighborhood, but suffers from being the most expensive house on the street, as it's a newer house in an older neighborhood. While it is very nice inside, it's also rather pricey for the square footage, as it's smaller than we would like. The yard is very nice, though.
  • 1122 Parkway - This house is across the street from a really dumpy duplex, though it is in a very quiet dead-end road area. This house is huge, but needs a lot of finish work redone, as it's either ugly, or poorly implemented. Also, all that "wood" flooring in the photos is really laminate.
  • 2608 Abraham - This house is interesting. It's only a three bedroom, and we'd really like four, but there is at least office space in the basement, and a room that could maybe be converted to a fourth bedroom if we ever needed one. There's a hot tub, but it's really old looking, and the master bathroom is the only one on the main level, and also opens to the rest of the house, so you can't leave it messy. Also, it has a walk-in tub for old people, and I hope to be at least 40 years away from needing that...

  • Core Flow network blog

    Mon, 20 Jun 2011 08:16:21 +0000

    My boss, Aaron Howard, has started a new blog about networking, called Core Flow, which will focus on the implementation of the new Enterasys K-Series switch that will service students living in our residence halls starting this fall, as well as other networking, such as the Juniper/Trapeze wireless gear we use on campus.

    Feeding Google

    Fri, 01 Apr 2011 16:26:06 +0000

    My co-worker, Chris Conklin, has moved his weblog to WordPress, hosted in my account. This link is to help Google realize it soon...

    Resources for new Kindle owners

    Sat, 05 Feb 2011 20:39:52 +0000

    As I know a lot of people have received new Amazon Kindles lately for the holidays, and have probably fallen in love with them as much as I have over the last six months of owning one, I thought I'd compile a few tips about alternative ways of getting content on them. Certainly, you can buy your eBooks all from Amazon, though there can be advantages from getting them elsewhere too, especially if it saves you money!

    One of the ways you can save a few bucks is by using the excellent free software package called Calibre to load content you already own on your Kindle. Amazon has a nice service where they will convert PDF and Word documents, among other formats, and send them to your Kindle, but they charge by the megabyte for the data they're converting for you. If you use Calibre, and just plug your USB cable into your computer, you can upload eBooks and other content for free, and cut out the middle an. Calibre is available for both Mac and PC, and it's a great app!

    Another great source for eBooks is Baen, the science fiction publisher. If Sci-Fi isn't your cup of tea, then this probably won't interest you, but the Baen Free Library has an ever-changing collection of totally free and legal eBooks for you to download for your Kindle. They started this program at the urging of some of their authors, to help generate interest in paper sales of catalog titles, as well as in the hopes that if you read one book by the author for free and love it, you'll purchase subsequent books.

    Baen also sells many other eBooks via their WebScriptions site, including many titles that simply aren't available via Amazon for the Kindle, and they're usually at a much lower price. Another nice feature of the Baen books is that they don't use any DRM on their eBooks, so you'll always be able to read them, move them to another device, or loan them out to a friend.

    Friends are another excellent source of Kindle content, as many titles can now be lent to a friend via Amazon's web page. You just need to enter a valid email address to send the eBook code to, and then that Kindle owner can have the book installed on their Kindle. It's important to note, however, that not all Kindle books on Amazon can be lent, as it's up to the publisher to enable that feature. Also, a given book you own can only be lent once, and only for a period of two weeks! Make sure the person you're lending the book to will have time to read it, and REALLY wants the book, before you use up your one lending period on them.

    This idea has also been extended to the Kindle Lending Club online, where users can swap their "lends" with each other, giving you access to far more titles than you could get from your friends.

    I'm hopeful in the future that libraries will implement a way to check out eBooks on the Kindle too. They have the ability to do it for some other platforms, and while the DRM can be removed to let the content work on a Kindle, it's something you need a computer geek to set up.

    3G Data coverage maps of Iowa

    Thu, 03 Feb 2011 16:52:04 +0000

    As I’m in the market for a new cell phone and carrier, after being with Sprint (disclosure: I’m a Sprint shareholder) for 9.5 years, I did some comparison of the various 3G coverage maps of Iowa, and here they are.  You can click on the maps for larger versions of many of them: First up, iWireless.  Formerly known as Iowa Wireless, they’re the closest thing we have to T-Mobile here in Iowa.  Their 3G coverage is pretty weak, and is represented by the pink color on the map.  Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Des Moines, Ames, Council Bluffs, and Iowa City are covered, and really nowhere else..  Their service prices are good, but their phone selection tends to lag T-Mobile proper by quite a bit, and if you venture outside those cities, you’re going to be on Edge or even worse, GPRS a lot of the time… Next up is AT&T.  I have two maps for them, the first is their current map, the second is the coverage they plan to have on 3G by the end of March.  Cedar Falls & Waterloo went live on 3G sometime yesterday, so the map appears to be coming true.  On the first map, 3G is the dark blue.  On the second (future) map, current 3G is dark blue, future 3G is light blue, sorry it’s so tiny! Third is Sprint.  As I mentioned, they’re my current carrier, and cover most of the major metropolitan areas with 3G (the dark orange), though for some reason they continue to ignore Fort Dodge and Mason City, among others, as well as the I-35 corridor: Fourth is Verizon.  They cover most of the state with their 3G (red) coverage, though that salmon color shows they have some holes in the northwest & southwest corners.  I, personally, never go there, so it doesn’t really bother me, but I wish there was a little better coverage on US 63 north from Waterloo to Rochester, MN. Fifth, and best, in my opinion, is regional carrier US Cellular.  They cover almost all of the state with 3G as represented by the sickly green color, and when you’re not on their network, you’ll roam onto Verizon’s 3G network in most of the country.  For some reason, the bottom tier of Minnesota seems to be non-3G coverage in their maps, however. So what’s an Iowan to do?  Clearly if you’re a heavy smartphone user, and you travel outside major cities, CDMA is your only real option for technology, and the best choices are Verizon & US Cellular.  Sprint isn’t bad in Eastern Iowa, but really degrades elsewhere, and in rural areas.  The GSM carriers, iWireless and AT&T, are really only great in the major cities, over 100,000 people, but if you don’t spend any time out in little places like Ventura, Manson, or Hanlontown, Iowa, they’d be fine.  Unfortunately, I spend time in those places, and even some bigger ones, like Mason City and Fort Dodge, and I think I want 3G coverage in all of them for my next phone…[...]

    House Hunting

    Mon, 22 Nov 2010 10:45:50 +0000

    We looked at three open houses in Waterloo yesterday, as we’re thinking about upgrading from our little ranch to something a bit more spacious.

    The first house we looked at had a lot of character, though it was really showing its age in places.  The somewhat-finished area in the basement had a sagging ceiling that was somewhat alarming, and the floors all squeaked loudly.  The upstairs bathroom and the kitchen had been remodeled, though, as the women said “by a man” as they’re somewhat ugly and don’t fit the house at all, so would need to be redone if you had taste…  The lot was small, so not a lot of grass to mow, and while it’s on perhaps the nicest street in town, the houses around it are very close and not anything grand…

    The second house we looked at is actually on the same street, though farther down where it loses its boulevard status.  It’s friggin’ huge, a great sprawling ranch house.  The basement, though very dated, has a big bar in it, as well as a bedroom with egress window.  Upstairs there’s a nice four-season room, family room, and a huge living room.  It had a great entryway, and a very spacious kitchen as well.  You can tell this was a very very nice home when it was built in the 1950s, but a lot of the home still feels like that era, and not in a good way.  The brick work is very dated, including the triangle-styled cement block that probably was very cool back then, but just sticks out now…

    The third house we looked at was also a monster, lots of space inside, with extremely high amounts of storage space.  Every single bedroom has a walk-in closet, some of them big enough to park a car inside.   Out back, there is a HUGE newish shed/workshop with almost 800 square feet of space alone, though it’s not currently heated or insulated.  There’s a big addition on the back with a long family room and a fireplace at the end, but it felt like it was sort of done cheaply, and you felt kind of isolated from the rest of the house while you were there.  There was a first-floor laundry, which was nice, but a lot of bathrooms in need of TLC, and basically every floor surface in the house needed to be redone.  The wood at the entry way was spongy underfoot, and what looks like tile in the photos actually seems to be the peel ‘n stick squares, used throughout the first floor…

    We haven’t found anything we love yet, so the hunt continues!

    More amusing voicemail transcriptions

    Tue, 26 Oct 2010 13:25:49 +0000

    "On all three Supreme Court Justice is up for retention in addition. I'd like her to go to judge a and join our bus to work across the state at a location near you and finally join me on Thursday, October 28 on the steps of the Iowa Supreme Court building as we voice our opinion. Collectively that we're voting no against the judges were standing up for freedom and for traditional marriage. One man one wallet. Again this is Bob grandpa, file for freedom. It's paid for by pilot family policies that are actually much to hear this message. Again please press one now. If we can count on you to vote no on all three Supreme Court Justices. Please press two now. Thank you. This call was paid for by Iowa family policy Center in action. Reach you "

    How to install NetBackup 7.0 on Ubuntu 10.04

    Tue, 19 Oct 2010 09:13:41 +0000

    NetBackup 7 officially “supports” Ubuntu Linux 8.04, 9.04, and 10.04 for Linux clients, as seen in the Software Compatibility List but the installer doesn’t “work”. Specifically, the problem seems to be that PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is distributed in an RPM package along with the client.  The normal shell script that installs the client kicks an error when PBX fails to install: Installing PBX... ./installpbx: 1510: rpm: not found ERROR: Could not install VRTSpbx package Please see installation log for more details Installation log located here: /var/tmp/installpbx-1928-100810135211.log Installing PBX was unsuccessful. Aborting ... Opening the next log reveals more: [10-08-10-13:52:11] Extracting /var/tmp/VRTSpbx_1928/PBX.tar.gz into /var/tmp/VRTSpbx_1928 [10-08-10-13:52:11] Installing/Upgrading private branch exchange on Linux [10-08-10-13:52:11] Checking for the PBX process... [10-08-10-13:52:11] PBX process is not running. [10-08-10-13:52:11] rpm -U --nodeps --nopostun --nopreun /var/tmp/VRTSpbx_1928/VRTSpbx- ./installpbx: 1568: rpm: not found [10-08-10-13:52:11] ERROR: Could not install VRTSpbx package [10-08-10-13:52:11] Removing temporary directory [10-08-10-13:52:11] rm -rf /var/tmp/VRTSpbx_1928 [10-08-10-13:52:11] installpbx exiting with return code: 1 [10-08-10-13:52:11] Please see installation log for more details [10-08-10-13:52:11] Installation log located here: /var/tmp/installpbx-1928-100810135211.log As this isn’t Red Hat, rpm is not present on the system, nor would it work if it was… With the help of the folks at Symantec, here’s what will get around this problem and help you install the client.  Hopefully they’ll put this online in a tech note soon, but I’m guessing I’m not the only person who ran into this problem, so here are my notes.  I am not a Linux wizard, by any means, but here are the required steps to make this work.  This also requires you to install alien, a package that’ll let you install rpm packages on Ubuntu:   Get the giant 7.0 client tarball and copy it to your server.  I downloaded mine from FileConnect. gunzip NetBackup_7.0_CLIENTS_GA.tar.gz.gz tar xvf NetBackup_7.0_CLIENTS_GA.tar.gz cd NB_7.0_CLIENTS_GA/NBClients/anb/Clients/usr/openv/netbackup/client/Linux/RedHat2.6 sudo mkdir /tmp/pbx sudo cp PBX.tar.gz /tmp/pbx cd /tmp/pbx sudo gzip -dv PBX.tar.gz sudo tar xvf PBX.tar sudo apt-get install alien sudo alien -i --scripts VRTSpbx- (you will see lots of errors, you can ignore them) Then start PBX on the CLIENT: sudo /opt/VRTSpbx/bin/vxpbx_exchanged start sudo nano NB_7.0_CLIENTS_GA/NBClients/anb/Clients/usr/openv/netbackup/client/Linux/RedHat2.6/cp_to_client Comment out lines 1723 - 1732 by inserting a # at the start of the line (use Control-W in nano to search for PBX to help locate this):   1723 #       ${ECHO} "   1724 #Installing PBX..."   1725   1726 #       ${SOURCE_DIR}/installpbx -f PBX.tar.gz   1727 #       if [ $? -ne 0 ] ; then   1728                 ${ECHO} "   1729 #Installing PBX was unsuccessful.   1730 #Aborting ..."   1731 #               exit 1   1732 #       fi Hit Control-X to save and exit. Then execute the "install" script [...]

    Amusing voicemail transcription

    Wed, 08 Sep 2010 10:06:41 +0000

    Received this transcription from my Vonage voicemail. All you need to know is in the first six words. :)

    "Hi this is Ben lying candidate for United States Congress running against the liberal Democrat and incumbent Bruce Braley. I'm hosting a live telephone town hall. Right now. To talk about how you and that I can put our country back on the right track towards greater freedom and prosperity for Eastern Island. If you're listening to this message. Live right now and like to join this free call press one on your phone. Otherwise I'm sorry I missed you since we said Bruce Brody Washington. The national debt has exploded over $13 trillion in unemployment has more than doubled from 4.6% to 9.5% on November 2. Voters will need to decide whether we send the same politicians back to Washington in hopes for different results or whether it's time to send a message and put a check in balance on the Obama administration. Please "

    Upgraded to WordPress 3.0

    Thu, 17 Jun 2010 00:06:31 +0000

    WordPress 3.0 was just released, and I just upgraded this blog to it. You can learn more about the features here: (embed)