Sunday, November 27, 2011

No #Symantec, I don't want to find the original ISO file right now #fail

After a somewhat traumatic 24 hours recovering from an unexpected 15 hours power outage at the office (when of course, I wasn’t there). Stuff™ needed to be done.
One of these was catching up with why the Backup Exec 2010 R3 installation wasn’t patching on my last physical server (the one with the tape drive attached).
So I ran LiveUpdate and it just failed.  No meaningful reasons, just failed.
So I ran the update again, but this time checked out the Patch ID’s that were needed.  Then, headed over to Symantec’s site to download them.  Both were there, and took only a short time to download. 
So first the latest Hotfix. About halfway through up popped a dialog box requesting the location of a file to copy.  The bad news is that it didn’t state either the file name or the location.  It was just the usual location dropdown and a browse button (apologies for no screen shot – forgot to do it).  So I browsed around and nowt worked.  So eventually I left the dropdown blank, and then hit OK.
Off it went to try to do some work, and then – hallelujah – came back with an error message that “Symantec Backup Exec for Servers.msi” was not available.
This MSI is, of course, on the original DVD or ISO.  So off I went and grabbed that, and got the fix to work.  Then the service pack rolled just right in.
I understand that at times the some files might be missing or wanted, but, why Symantec – why the hell can you not tell me the file name or the fact that it’s on the original DVD?
And secondly, and much more importantly – what is the use of LiveUpdate if it cannot inform the user of files/DVD/ISO that is required so that this “Automatic Patching” can actually patch, automatically.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Waiting for the... Not worms but SAS band

To kick off the Freddie Mercury 20th Anniversary memorial gig

Clapham Grand.
Very Grand!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A walk through London... from 1 James to another

Recently I was to attend an event at the Royal Institution, a lecture by James Burke on Connections (see his former work - James Burke Connections) and was heading down to London on the train when I spotted a tweet from James May announcing a book signing that day.  Being almost the same age as him, I have found his TV programmes over the last few years really chiming with me.  So, knowing that my friend I was seeing that evening was a fan, I though a book as a present would be a smart move.

So I headed off to Leadenhall Market, bought the books, and joined the queue.  To be honest, this isn't the sort of thing I really do, but it fitted the mood.  But I decided that a sycophantic "I really like your work" conversatino was definitely not me, at the same time as realising that he would probably want to see and hear James Burke that evening.  So I asked James if, like me, he liked James Burke, an emphatic yes was the reply - so I told him about the lecture.  Much to James' annoyance he couldn't go that evening as there were book signing committments that evening, so I offered to take a signed book there instead for him.  Getting an extra copy, he made out a dedication and passed it to me - I then observed that this was a smart way to blag a free copy!  Grins, and then moved on.

Leaving the market I headed round the corner and found this example of old hidden amongst the new, something I like finding in London

Further on, have wondered back past Bank and the city, I entered Fleet Street, and stopped to admire (as always) the buildings that stood proud in the last century - proclaiming their owners and allegiances.  Never imagining that only a few decades later all that would gone and Fleet Street (named after a now lost underground river) would itself become just a shorthand term for the press, rather than its location

Another photographic thing I like is new reflecting old.  More clearly here: 

Further down Fleet Street, the Telegraph building - Peterborough Court 

As is often in old towns and cities, the ground floor fronts are all modern, horrible, glass "buy buy buy" places.  As Bill Bryson recommeds, look up 1 floor and admire the architecture.  Case in point below.

And yet another building prodly declaiming its publishing home. 

Towards the end of the street - the Royal Courts of Justice, reminiscent of Prague, and I'm sure somewhere there's a sign saying "Here be dragons"!

Diving south off Fleet Street into the Temple area (past Dan Brown fans photographing the Templar Church - damn) a wonderfully quiet and peaceful square can be found.

Just around the corner, just off the Embankment another quiet location, you can enter the gardens in the summer months.

Then, leaving the Temple area a building that, here in London, is just one of many, but would probably get a bit of a mention elsewhere, surmounted by a rather impressive wind vane 

Now entering Savoy Gardens, a memorial to Lady Henry Somerset to commemorate her work for the Temperance cause, with an interesting quote "I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink" non-alcoholic I guess.

Passing under a bridge, these silhouette of both the buildings, London Eye, and the photographers caught my eye

And then, round hte corner, the place I first heard proper surround sound in the 70's.  The IEEE building where a school trip permitted us to hear Atom Heart Mother in Quadrophonic sound.

What I hadn't know then - this was the location of the BBC from 1923 to 1932 as commemorated by this plaque

Further on, a tablet marking the location of the North Bank of the River Thames, before the Victoria Embankment was built in 1862.

Then, as night closed in, I passed Liberty's with it's Christmas decorations on show, but more interesting to me was the ship wind vane on top.  Second one of the day!

And then finally, after a great meal with my old school friend Ed, we made our way to the Royal Institution, and James Burke's incredible throught provoking lecture 1+1=3, curated by Aleks Krotoski
And, of course, to hand over the book!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ISIHAC - perfect radio fun.

A spiffing advert (well the iPlayer screen) for a brilliant radio show. The look on Graeme's face says it all

Compulsory listening here, I shall have to work out which series was my first.

Fao @vexentrix, cute cat's sister!

This one can be more stern, but is far more intelligent

Peekaboo! Cat in furry igloo

Friday, November 18, 2011

Another in a series of confident builders

Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Bath, on a recent trip.

Anyone know what this is? Charlotte Street, Bristol

It was throwing out a little heat, but I'm intrigued!

Not sure I'd want a Gaudi style haircut

But this is what this appears to be offering!

Spotted recently in Bristol.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We are not men.

We are not men, who have not been soldiers
We are not men, who have not faced men
We are not men, who have not been to war.
We are not men, who have not put on uniform
We are not men, who have not drilled.

We are not men, who have not been on stag
We are not men, who have not dug trenches
We are not men, who have not been there

We are not men, who have not blancoed belts
We are not men, who have not deployed
We are not men, who have not fought
We are not men, who have not volunteered

We are lucky.
We are free.
We are just boys.

Thanks to the men.
We can only wear poppies.
With pride.

*Thanks to Fish, for the inspiration tonight.

And finally, 5 random heroes; remembered.

And at the going down of the sun,

we will remember them.

Memorial to the sons and daughters of this city.

A tangle of Otters!

North American Otters (3 of), a slight bending of the Wildfowl And Wetlands Trust objectives I think, but a good addition.

I wonder if we could have some at Welney?


Bristol ships lost during the wars

With what optimism must Bristol Queen II and Bristol City II have been commissioned, built, launched and sailed? A World War over, a new world begun.

Then, within a short quarter of a century (or less, I don't know when they first sailed), they too were lost in the Second World War.

Today's the second day in November for remembering. The crew and families of these ships deserve remembrance.

Someone appears to have stolen Shrek's ears...

Anyone for croquet?

Flamingo going in for a respray

There are some more colourful ones around the corner!

Good instruction #ducks

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Device upgrade - how #Apple was a #Fail and #Microsoft was a #Success

So yesterday was a bad day with apple.  You can read more – see the links below.  But I think the title of the post says most of it.

Apple upgrade woes
3 hours on tech support phone call
7 hours+ to do upgrade
Upgrade incomplete
Data lost
Result: Misery

Microsoft Upgrade works a treat
0 hours on tech support
3 hours to upgrade
Upgrade complete
No data lost
Result: Happiness

Oh, PS I upgrade both of the family Satnav’s last night, Garmin’s upgrade tools worked a treat.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Oh, and if you independently download the IPSW for #iOS update, this may enable you to do a normal update

Instead of updating by running "update, and then searching for the downloaded file" option, you might want to play around with copying the downloaded IPSW file into the following location.

First, close iTunes (just in case!)

Second, find your Application Data location (this will normally be under c:\users or c:\documents and settings and then your user name. If your folders are redirected then speak to your network admin (although whether they want Apple Device Updates on the network is another matter!)
If you are not sure:
start a DOS Command prompt (start, CMD)
type "set APPDATA"
this will show you the path that you seek :-)

Inside that folder you will find "Apple Computers\iTunes\iPad Software Updates". This location appears to hold the downlaoded file, so if you have already downloaded the file, then copy/move it here.

I cannot prove the theory as the update is now over, but as the file names are the same, I would hope that when iTunes starts up, it will see the file and then proceed to offer the update instead of offering up the "downlaod and update" option - which at Corylus Towers (in deepest rural Fenland) takes a bloody long time!

With #Apple it doesn't "just work", in fact it can fail and they can't help you. Don't upgrade to iOS5 without reading this.

Leaving aside the links they send you to fixes that will probably fix things, but they won’t support…
The iOS upgrade process is fundamentatally flawed.  At the beginning it wants to backup your device – good idea.  However (as I have discovered) it makes some pretty weird decisions about how much disk space is required – in my case it claims 20GB is required, but in fact only used about 500MB.  What I didn’t know it would do is do the backup, not verify it, and then perform the upgrade anyway.  So despite knowing the backup was smaller than expected my iPad was being upgraded anyway…
Because of the situation I was in, I was on the phone to Apple support when the upgrade process was finally made to start – so the backup happened and then the upgrade took place under their guidance, and then I got my iPad back.  But it was somewhat stark – no applications at all.  And no documents of in application data either.  Then the automatic restore of the iPad post upgrade failed.
So I got back onto Apple support.  The long and short of it is:
  • Backups are hidden away in your application data folders on Windows machines.
  • Backups may demand 20GB, but then only consume a few MB, but even if they only need a few MB you need that 20GB free first.
  • The backup before an iOS upgrade may remove all previous backups so that you have no fall back to iOS 4.x
  • The backup before an iOS upgrade is necessary (and if you cannot do it – you get a warning that it is a risk), however it is not verified, may fail, and you’ll not be told that the backup is bad before the Upgrade continues anywa, overwriting your setup.
  • Whilst Apple completely control the environemtn (hardware, software, app admission) their Tech Support says that in-app data or settings may corrupt a backup and make recovery impossible. And that’s not their fault, or their problem to fix.  Apparantly it’s mine.
If you have any in application content on your apple device then you need to make sure you have alternative arrangements for its protection:
  • some (like iA Writer, PhatPad etc) backup into the cloud with DropBox
  • some (like Pages etc) can backup through the File Sharing in iTunes (although in my experience not all your documents are exposed and therefore available to backup under iOS 4.x)
  • some will have iCloud backup after you get to iOS 5
  • some have the means to email yourself settings or data (and I do this)
  • some apps will store your settings in the cloud at their own services (Echofon, Feeddler using Google Reader for instance…)
In the end I have to accept that my iPad is little more than a factory reset, and I have to start again.  Many of my apps have settings in the cloud, or docs in the cloud so I should be OK, any that are not – I probably won’t miss (as I had been anticipating this issue and had been creating content defensively).
So my fix is to force App sync from iTunes to the iPad, overwriting anything there, and potentially any app data.  Once that is done, I then have the horror of rebuilding all my app group icons so that instead of 10 or more screens, I have 2 sensibly organised windows of apps that I can easily find, with the occasional exception where I use search instead.
I’m not stupid enough to believe that a backup should never fail and that Apple should be entirely responsible for the security and protection of my device.  But I am clever enough to know that that when a backup is a required step in an upgrade then a) the backup should be verified, b) the user should be advised of backup or verification failure and c) the user should be allowed to make an informed decision to go ahead without such a backup.
So – you should regard an Apple device as something that even the Apple tools may not protect, and in their own words, do not rely on a courtesy tool and instead make alternative arrangements for backup of app content and settings.  In the main, look for apps that allow you to use tools like DropBox et al for content, and apps like Feeddler or Echofon that can synchronise settings around the devices.
Finally?  I reckon if this story had been a Microsoft story instead of an Apple story…  imagine:
  • Paid for Microsoft support
  • An upgrade to an OS that fails
  • Microsoft support talk you through using Microsoft supplied tools to backup the system and implement the upgrade
  • The upgrade fails and you cannot restore your computer
  • Microsoft say that the failure is no longer their responsibility and that you are on your own, and wish you good luck with it.
I think some of the media and Microsoft ecosystem might have something to say.

Where do iTunes backups go on a Windows PC with redirected folders? After 70 minutes with #apple support iTunes for Windows #fail again. #Mobius

Time for the iOS 5 update to hit the iPad and wanting to have the vanilla user experience I elected to wait until Apple’s servers and my middle of the rural blackout zone ISP connection to hold up long enough for iTunes to complete the download of the iOS update.
So, backup the pad, transfer the purchases, sync up and hit the magic Update button.
Despite having ½TB of free disk space the pre-upgrade backup would not proceed because there was insufficient disk space.
Turns out that despite Apple support's certainty that the backups should be on the C: drive, if you have redirected AppData and home folders (an entirely reasonable business decision), then iTunes insists on backups to the redirected folder.  Apple support then suggested that as iTunes and the device is more of a domestic device that this is sensible.
So then it turns out that iTunes does not have the capability to redirect the backups anywhere.  So they send me a link to a fudge.  Thus:
Dear P J,
Thank you for contacting Apple.
Your support Advisor, <name removed>, has a follow-up message for you:
Based on the details you provided, we think you might find the following information helpful:
We want to help you get the best service and support for your Apple product. Please visit our award-winning Support website to find product information, tutorials, troubleshooting steps, and much more.
One catch – this is not supported by Apple.  So should I take a backup, and redirect it this way, then Apple cannot help me sort things out.  How to turn an iPad into an expensive paperweight.
Not acceptable.
We discuss it further.
Apple Support suggest I do my backup to iCloud (assuming I have purchased enough capacity there).  I (not so gently) observe that he is suggested I upgrade to iOS 5 to do a backup to iCloud so that I can then upgrade to iOS 5.  I am now fully on the Apple Support Mobius Strip
So, where does the backup go? I ask.  Some scurrying around on their information systems and eventually we discover it is not the home drive as previously stated (I knew that because I’d already looked), but the redirect Application Data folder.  There I find the backups.
Eventually, after further discussion we come to the conclusion that after backup I can move the folders (<redirected appdata location>\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup) to my local disk.  This will save my server from having an extra 20GB or so to backup each night.
Apple support then went on to suggest that the obfuscated location is good for security and this is why the location of the backups cannot be changed within the iTunes interface.  A red rag to a bull, we discuss.  Apple support eventually come to the conclusion that password protection of the backup might be a better security approach.  But maybe I could make a suggestion at their website.  I do, the webpage does not exist…
When the page works, enchantingly the only OS I can report problems on is OSX.  It seems for feedback purposes, Windows does not exist to Apple.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thanks @lahoguefarm and @brays_cottage for gastronomic day

Had a great time shopping, browsing, and (of course) eating!

Good use of a Saturday. It's open tomorrow too, so go!