Three Sides To Every Story

Someone (I believe it was the rock band “Extreme“) once said there are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.

This past Monday night’s Selectboard meeting seems to be an example of this. According to the meeting minutes,

“Chairman Fox said he wished to set in place a format by which Selectboard meetings would henceforth be conducted in the interests of minimizing disruptions, providing a better opportunity for members of the public to present thoughts to the Board without interruptions, and enabling Board members to more clearly focus on matters of business. To eliminate the need for use of the photocopier periodically through the meeting, he offered Chris Costanzo, as “Herald of Randolph” reporter, a packet of information relating to business on the evening’s agenda. Mr. Costanzo considered that the rules of procedure being set forth were an affront to his own participation at Selectboard meetings, expressed that he would no longer serve as reporter, and left at this time.”

Mister Costanzo’s account of the event is a bit different:

“At the beginning of the Monday night selectboard meeting, chairman Neal Fox announced he had a “headline” for The Herald. He said that he and the board thought I was too disruptive at selectboard meetings. He cited an instance several weeks back when another member of the public, on his own, started to make notes on the blackboard regarding some facts and figures that the selectboard was reading off, and I went up to help him. He also cited my frequent photocopying (during the selectboard meetings) of documents passed to the selectmen. And, he complained that I asked too many questions.”

Whose account is the truth? Not having been there, I can’t say. It’s probably a combination of both. I do think Chris can be a bit “intrusive” at times, in meetings, and I can see how this could slow down meetings, something that I’ve heard Mr. Fox complain about in the past about other people who attended meetings and asked questions. Does that mean he should be publicly humiliated at the opening of the meeting? Hardly. The solution is to pull him aside and discuss the matter privately.

Also, Chris is not the first person to say he was treated in a condescending manner by the chairman of the board. Complaints of this nature came out last year during election season and again in the weeks leading up to this year’s Town Meeting when Chairman Fox was re-elected.

Given that I was told by the chairman that the concerns I brought to the board are “bullsh–” I am inclined to side with Chris on this one, and to believe that the minutes may have been written to present Chairman Fox’s actions and comments in a favorable light.

What does this mean for Bethel? Well, for starters, coverage of the events in this town is going to suffer. Of this I have little doubt. Chris has done an excellent job doing so over the past several years.

Given our sudden lack of news coverage, if you have news you want to contribute, I highly encourage you to post it on the BethelVermont.com web site by clicking the “suggest news article” link at the top of every page.

DST 2007 – Because Y2K Just Wasn’t Enough Fun

As of this morning, we all “sprang forward” an hour, three weeks earlier than we used to, at the direction of Congress. To save energy, Daylight Saving Time was moved up, so we can all save more daylight! Hooray! Saving is good, we should save more.

Seriously though, I’ve had to make adjustments to many of my clients’ computer systems so that they would correctly adjust their own clocks for the new DST changes.

On some old (Fedora Core 2) Linux servers, the change was a manual process, since there are no more patches available for this distribution (i.e. it has reached its “end of life”). More up to date releases, like Fedora Core 4, and Ubuntu 6.06 and later, either had the necessary changes built in, or were just an update command away. Very handy.
On the Windows side of things, it’s a similar story. If you have a current, supported version of Windows, say, 2003 or XP, and you have been running your Automatic Updates, you’re all set. But if you’re running Windows 2000 or Windows NT… hmm… it’s a different story.

Microsoft has provided several methods for adjusting the time zone settings on Windows 2000, which has been in “Extended Support” for nearly two years, there are no automatic updates to make these changes. As Microsoft says on their Extended Support page for Win2k,

“Microsoft is not ending support for Windows 2000. During the Extended Support phase, Microsoft continues to provide security hot fixes and paid support but no longer provides complimentary support options, design change requests, and non-security hotfixes.”

This means you must apply said patches or edit the registry, by hand. Obviously, this is just one more way to gently prod the consumer into purchasing the latest version of Windows, but I won’t go into that right now.

Microsoft provides instructions on how to update your Windows 2000 server in this knowledgebase article, which lists several methods to adjust the time zones. For a single computer, the simplest method seemed to use their new TZEdit tool, so that’s what I did on the handful of Windows 2000 servers I maintain.

Just for kicks, I also ran this tool on the last remaining Windows NT 4.0 server that we still have in production at a client’s location. Note that NT 4.0 is no longer in Extended Support – it’s reached its End of Life. We joke about what this means, and often wonder if we call Microsoft and want to discuss NT 4, if they’ll admit it ever even existed, but I digress. My point is that there is no mention of NT 4 now anywhere with respect to DST. There are no tools from MS on how to adjust its settings, there are no instructions on how to do it. “It’s dead, Jim,” so if you’re running NT 4, you’re on your own.

I decided to try the TZEdit program on this NT 4 box. To my surprise, it ran and seemed to make the changes correctly! Great! I also ran it on all of the Win2k servers.

This morning, I logged on to all of the servers that we maintain to make sure everything looked right. All of the Windows 2003 servers came through without a hitch, and properly adjusted their clocks. The Linux servers did likewise. The NT 4 machine (which, you’ll recall, is completely unsupported) did as well! Great!

Then I looked at the Windows 2000 servers.

The first one still said it was 9:34 AM. My clock said it was 10:34AM. Uh oh. I looked at the second server. Same thing. I logged on to another client location. Same thing. Another client location. Same thing. Not… good.

Basically, the tool appears to not work on any of these machines. Granted, I used the same tool on all of the machines, so if I managed to somehow screw it up, I’d have theoretically replicated the mistake across all of the machines, but this utility is pretty straightforward to use, so what’s the issue? And why on earth did it work on Windows NT 4.0, and NOT on Windows 2000? That is what I want to know.

Furthermore, the Microsoft documentation on this has been terrible. At first, I thought it was just me, but thank goodness that the guys over at Casting From the Server Room had very similar results. Curiously, some of the scripts that worked for us did not work for them, and vice versa, but the sentiments expressed on the MS documenation are mine exactly.

On my own test Exchange server, which has a 200MB message store and a whopping 3 (count ‘em, 1,2,3) mailboxes on it, has been running the script to adjust calendar appointments for over two and a half hours now. Unfortunately, I’m apparently not alone, and will be in good company when I manually adjust all of our calendar appointments for each Exchange mailbox individually. Glorious.

Oh, and by the way, that patch for Exchange servers, which came down in Automatic Updates weeks ago? You’re not supposed to install it until AFTER you’ve run the calendar migration utility… “If you install the update that is mentioned in Knowledge Base article 926666 on the Exchange server before you update the mailboxes, recurring meetings that are created in Outlook Web Access are not updated by the Exchange tool. To resolve this problem, remove update 926666, run the Exchange tool, and then reinstall update 926666 on the Exchange server.” Thank you, Microsoft. That’s helpful. Almost as helpful as telling me this BEFORE I installed it, but not quite.

Feisty Migrates My Settings, Cleans Up Installer, Adds Compiz

So, I downloaded and installed Ubuntu Feisty Fawn Herd 5 this morning. I downloaded Herd 4, but never had a chance to actually install it. Given that I was having pretty good luck with Herd 3, other than the installer being a bit odd at times, I wasn’t in a hurry to drop it anyway.

The first thing I noticed is that the Herd 5 installer seems to work, even the partitioner. Note that under Herd 3 I was using the Alternate Install (text mode) disc, and with Herd 5 I’m using the main image (GNOME installer).

I had heard from Bryan and Chris at the Linux Action Show that Canonical had decided to include Compiz, but not enable it by default. Even though the installation of Beryl was pretty easy, it was still a manual process which involved changing my repositories, downloading packages, and editing configuration files. Given that I had successfully installed Beryl on Herd 3, I was curious to give Compiz a try, especially if it was installed by default (because, I admit, I am lazy).

It worked like a charm. Clicking System, Preferences, Desktop Effects, and clicking the button to “Enable Desktop Effects” was all I had to do. Very nice. I’m not sure I like the default Compiz settings, because the window snapping feature acted a bit funny when I tried to move windows. Once I realized what it was doing, it wasn’t a big deal, but by default, when I tried to drag Firefox to the top of the screen, it snapped back down about half an inch on my screen. I had to resize the window a bit to get it to stay where I wanted to.

Evolution now works! I fired it up, and connected to my Exchange server in under a minute. Amazing what happens when you can specify the server that you want to use…

As for migrating my stuff, I see that my documents made it over, so what was in the  “My Documents” folder under Windows is now in my “Documents” folder on Ubuntu. I see that Gaim recognizes my username on AIM, but I couldn’t figure out how to sign on to that account without deleting it and manually entering my username and password. It turns out, that this was actually a problem with Compiz. Gaim was working fine, but with the Desktop Effects enabled, all of the Gaim windows showed up empty, with no text wherever there should have been text. When this happened in another application, I decided to try disabling Compiz, which fixed the issue. I’m thinking I know why it’s not enabled by default.

Unfortunately I had not installed an email client on the Windows partition, so I couldn’t test its migration of my mail settings from Outlook or Thunderbird.

All in all, I’m seeing definite progress, and can’t wait until the real release next month.