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I’ve been running Windows Home Server v1 on a repurposed Dell PowerEdge 400SC for about 2 years now and it’s been a great filer and backup server. When I found out that WHS 2011 was going to be 64-bit only, I tried out the beta on virtual machines to get a feel for if I would like it. Would it really be worth setting up a new server to run this new version? My answer was yes.

Even though I was comfortable on WHS v1, the 400SC was maxed out internally with three hard disks and two optical drives. Being a mini-tower, it was using more power than I needed to just do WHS functions. I had originally considered building a mini-ITX-based pedestal server, but when the base components added up to over $300 I checked on the HP ProLiant MicroServer, which I’d been following since its release. For about $320 I could get the server with the first GB of RAM and a 250GB HDD included. I decided to go that route, adding a 2GB DIMM, HP DVD/RW, and 1TB HDD. With the other two HDD bays I would install the two 1TB drives already deployed in my original WHS. The hardware arrived late this week and as of this writing I have decommissioned the old WHS and moved all the data and the HDDs to the new WHS 2011 server.

I decided not to try to use the MicroServer’s limited RAID. I’ve only got about 500GB of data (not including client computer backups) on the server right now, so I’ve spread that out between the first three disks, and I’m using the extra 1TB drive for server backups. Eventually I’ll add a USB or eSATA external disk for that function. I also plan on setting up Cloudberry Backup for WHS2011 to export my photos to Amazon S3. I’d been using a beta JungleDisk plugin for that on my old WHS. A review of Cloudberry Backup is coming.

In this day and age, I’m completely miffed that I can’t upload DV footage from my Canon Elura 100’s IEEE1394 (Firewire) port to my new computer. I moved the cheap TI-compatible Firewire card I had in Earthshine to FarCry and haven’t been able to get the camcorder detected in either Windows XP x64 (using WinDV) or Ubuntu 7.04 x64 (using Kino). I may try to load up 32-bit XP to see if that’ll do it, but that seems too much like giving up. I still need to check and see if a Firewire-capable external hard drive I have is recognized on FarCry before I completely blame the OSs. I’ll probably end up getting another Firewire card for what’ll end up being the new Ghostrider (ie. the old Earthshine with a spiffy new 32-bit Windows install) and trying to upload the DV there. We’ll see. This problem has vexed me (admittedly part-time) for a few weeks now and I had to publicly complain. 😉

Update:  I’m going to try this adapter since one of the reviewers said specifically that it worked with their camcorder under XP x64 using WinDV.

Had a whirlwind weekend between helping with Zachary, Ryan’s soccer game and birthday party, tinkering with “the beast” (now named “FarCry”), hanging with my parents, and going to the Middletown Fair as well as some “normal” weekend stuff.

Ryan’s soccer game Saturday morning was great.  They’ve got a core of 6 kids on the team that are playing together well; the last two weeks, they’ve really started playing like a team.  They have one more game this coming Saturday.  Can’t wait to see how they do in the Under-8 division next year, and I hope they get to continue to play together.

Mom and Dad came late Saturday morning to visit and watch Zachary as we took Ryan over to Fountainblu for his early birthday party.  I’d never been to this rink before and was impressed by its organization, cleanliness, and size.  I hadn’t been on my blades yet this year, and hadn’t skated indoors since leaving Buffalo.  I was in hog heaven.  I had fun whipping around the rink, and helping the little guys get the hang of their skates.  Being six and seven, they haven’t skated much yet.  Ryan really impressed me.  He went down a lot, but everytime I thought “he’s done” he was back out on the floor a few minutes later.  I think we’ll be back at Fountainblu, even if it’s just Ryan and myself.  Melissa did get out on her skates as well near the end, but she was great as the greeter and overall party runner.

I was pretty tired after the party; the skating was my first significant exercise in a while.  But it was all good; I made dinner and we had a restful evening talking with my parents and playing with Zachary.

Speaking of Zach, at a month old he’s really liking laying in front of the activity gym and observing the lights and songs for 15-20 minutes at a time.  I’ll have to get a pic of that soon.

I did find some pockets of time to get Win XP x64 installed on FarCry and get the drivers loaded.  The only “gotcha” was that I had to go out and grab Realtek’s drivers for the onboard audio.  MSI’s provided drivers (had to go online; the x64 OS wasn’t supported with the included CD media) weren’t installing.  Everything else loaded up great, and once I get the Audigy 4 and FireWire card from Earthshine inserted I should be able to finalize the hardware build and then install Ubuntu 7.04 x64.  Don’t know how often that’ll get used upstairs, but I have plenty of hard drive space to use to play with it.  I’ve also successfully tested its dual-boot-ability with Win XP and was impressed.

On Sunday my Dad wanted us to go for a bike ride but I woke up with a headache and was still feeling the skate a bit, so I declined.  Early in the afternoon we headed down to Hoffer Park in Middletown for our first Middletown Fair.  It was nice to go a craft show that we weren’t participating in as Manolas.   It wasn’t as crowded as I expected and the food was OK.  I noticed that the crowd skewed pretty old; I guess that reflects the average age of the borough’s population.  We don’t get down there much except to go to Alfred’s.

I was a big BeOS fan in the mid-to-late 90s and ran it on a hand-built dual P2-300 computer.  I don’t know how many CPUs it supported back then, but its architecture built around pervasive multi-threading (so as to take advantage of multiple CPU cores) hasn’t been completely forgotten in this multi-core world:

Ars Technica: Microsoft exec: Future versions of Windows to be “fundamentally redesigned”

Back in 1991 when ex-Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée was starting development of a new operating system called BeOS, its designers tried to make the entire operating system “pervasively multithreaded” in anticipation that multiple CPUs would be much more common in the future. This ensured that any one window that became unresponsive would not interfere with any other windows, although the forced multithreaded programming model increased the risk of programming errors such as race conditions and deadlocks.


Webcam on? Check.
Cut-out “Microsoft” logo taped onto screen back? Check.
Logitech Internet Chat Headset put on backwards? Check.
Toothy, goofy grin? Check.
All systems go!

Just another classic Steve Ballmer picture.

There’s some buzz going on around the beta launch of MSN Spaces today. I signed up to check it out. 10MB of space is a real non-starter for me. I’ll try some low-fi blogging on it just to see how easy it is to use and customize.

Update: Ross and I synched up on this. I posted a test entry on my test space.

From the Horse’s Mouth: Microsoft Details Windows Server Roadmap

This is where my bread is buttered; I have to say that I think Windows Server 2003 is one heck of a server OS. One thing that has smoothed the transition between Windows 2000 and 2003 for me at work is how reliable the in-place upgrade process has been. Being only a minor version upgrade, it works much better than the few in-place upgrades I did of NT4 to Windows 2000. So much cruft is kept from the older install in terms of registry settings that an upgraded server can sometimes be a handicapped one.

I hope WS2003 R2 brings another smooth transition. Of course, I and many others consider each Service Pack release to be a minor version upgrade. It should be interesting to see what R2 brings to the table that an SP wouldn’t. I expect Longhorn Server (due in 2007) to be a major transition.

Another fun aspect of all of this is figuring what hardware to run this stuff on. I’m anxious to bring in our first 4-way Opteron Server once the x86-64-compatible WS2003 version is released, even though it’s supposed to compare favorably to the Xeon even with the 32-bit version of the OS.

While I’m talking about work, I should share that we had our “Spring Fling” this afternoon; an afternoon of games, drinks, and ice cream with my co-workers. My team played volleyball together for the first time, and narrowly lost our first-round game. However, I played horseshoes for the first time in forever and my team won our first-round game and came within 4 points of winning our second-round one. Thanks to Mother Nature for only sprinkling us with a few stray drops; it is nice out there today.

Whoever said “politics make strange bedfellows” probably never would have predicted Scott McNealy and Bill Gates would shack up. Just goes to show that if you dangle a few billion dollars at a desperate company, they’ll probably say “uncle”. (Understatement of the year.)

Leave it to the Microsoft marketing department to screw things up. Two reasons (besides customer confusion) renaming Software Update Services (SUS) 2.0 to Windows Update Services (WUS) is a bad move:

  1. SUS 1.0 distributes patches to computers running the Windows 2000, XP, and 2003 OS’s. SUS/WUS 2.0 is supposed to support distributing to other MS applications like SQL Server, Exchange, and Office. Why make the name more specific to “Windows” (the operating system itself) at this point?
  2. SUS (pronounced “suss”) was a unique-enough name. WUS will probably make the Unix guys I work with call me names.

(Note for clarity: Among my many hats at work, I’m one of the SUS administrators.)

Every once in a while there’s product that Microsoft gets right. I’m really starting to use OneNote at work for meeting minutes and documenting procedures. It’s better than Notepad and Wordpad, lighter than Word, and has just enough organization in its interface to allow easy filing. It’s also stateless – no clicking “Save” to make sure stuff is safe. I’ve just started scratching the surface but it seems like the real deal.