Thursday, December 6, 2007

December Update

We have snow :( I don't mind the snow so much, it's the fact that the snow doesn't exist without it being far too cold out.

I cannot believe how much money we've spent this christmas on the kids. I got them a Wii, and of course the games to go along with it. That in itself exceeded last year's tab, and then there was the regular 'after turkey-day' sales that Shelby hit. Physically, it doesn't look like much, but there's a big invesment there. I'm just dying to play some Wii games though - I think that's going to be a blast.

I also, finally, upgraded to Dish-HD. I've had a plasma for 3 years now, and stupid me (I feel so old now) hooked up the DVD player wrong and wasn't even getting 480i on it. Almost 3 years and I was one of the idiots not doing it right.... Ugh. Anyways, I had a dvr and two tuners. Dish only allows you to lease 4 tuners total (the dvrs are two tuners). Ashley really wanted to watch TV in her bedroom, and that makes 5. So I told Dish I would buy a single receiver, and 'upgrade' to HD-DVR. They could then remove the other receiver, and wire the DVR to two rooms. Now I have 5, no problem. So after taking the afternoon off to wait for these schmucks, they finally show up at 5:10 (20 mins after I normally get home from work). When they're done, they try and leave with a tuner, AND my dvr. wtf? The order is all screwed up. For some reason they think I want to buy a single receiver, and lease a single DVR. Grrrr. So the next day they're supposed to fix it - why I have to wait, I have no idea. So I wait in the morning. They come at noon. Now, dish calls 15 minutes before the guy arrives. Lesson - when dish says 'between x and y', just do whatever the hell you want to do, because it's going to be closer to 'y' when they show up. And give them your cell to call. Then you have time to get home. I ended up taking a day and a half off.. Ugh. Lesson learned - but damn that HD is nice.

In November I migrated Newtek's imaging system off some proprietary windows-only activex web garbage. It's now running Gallery2. Yeah, I know, it's just photo album software. I honestly can't imagine how much more complicated imaging paperwork could be though. You create albums by customer, and sub-albums to sort from there. If you create one image per page (which is how I set it up), everything can be viewed in the browser. The TIFFs I imported at multi-page, so they have to be downloaded, but that's still not a big deal, especially locally. I just need to move the 'View in original format' link to the top of the page. I've had to make small adjustments to how we image new documents - due to the size of the gallery now, but it's actually worked out quite well.

Next I will be building an Asterisk PBX, and linking it to a Fujitsu 9600 and a straight PRI to provide 'unlimited' in house conferencing and IP Phone extensions w/ACD for after hours customer service. That should be a fun one. is moving along. I've been trying to figure out how to calculate bandwidth use per user for a while now - the old way just parsed logs and that was slow and error-prone. I'm not sure where it came from, but I suddenly realized all the data I needed was already available in the SMTP session. So I've forced SMTPAuth, which gives me the username, and use the databytes and recipient tarpitting counts to calculate total 'bandwidth' used. A few lines of mysql insert logic, and we have live stats. Local deliveries are already handled with a mailfilter, so it was trivial to throw in another mysql line to add the size of local deliveries to bandwidth used. yay! I can finally catch all the users who change their 'From' address to get around the bandwidth quota!
I also contacted my ISP, and I can go from a FracT1 to dualT1s and a larger IP block for $100/month. That should happen soon, and I think when the T is down, I'll upgrade the disk box to something faster with more room to grow. Hopefully retiring those old scsi drives will cut some of my power usage...

On a more somber note, Patty Seidens died from cancer on November 30th. She was 38. I grew up with Rory (her husband) and Jason Seidens. Their son Spencer plays with Michael, Emily, AND Nick when they're up here from Texas. My friend Jill is involved with Make a Wish, she suggested spring and summer camp... That may be a good thing.