Quickbooks Enterprise is Unworkably Slow

We use Quickbooks Enterprise 17 for our company accounting, inventory, & packing slips.  Today, QBE17 stopped working in credits & invoices.  Just moving from one invoice to the next became a 10 minute ordeal.

This halted some production. Once we, later in the day, contacted support we found that this was an Intuit problem.  We stopped for a moment to grasp this.  We have a Quickbooks Enterprise Program that we host locally on our server with clients on our computers.  What would Intuit have to do with this?

We posited that some features we don’t use like invoice payments must be making remote, offsite queries and returning garbage data thereby halting our software.  We tried various firewall settings to no avail.  The solution which worked was to change the gateway IP of our local server. This breaks the internet connection of the server but maintains a local connection within our office.  Everything works again!

In summary, this single point of failure is a massive design flaw with a pointer to a web location that can bring the local software package down.  This should not be.

Recommendations to Intuit:

  1. Allow local server/desktop users to sever any internet based connection that breaks, slows, or alters our system. A single point of failure in an ENTERPRISE critical system such as this is a design flaw that needs fixing immediately. We need to get work done while you sort it out and we can connect later.  THIS IS WHY WE OWN THE LOCAL VERSION!
  2. Intuit, if you fail in the above you need to message us through the software or via email when such an event happens so that we aren’t burning hundreds or thousands of dollars because of your design flaw that you chose not to let us know was in failure.

Dropbox just cost me days of work

Dropbox chose, in 2014, to end their automatic camera upload feature.  They forced users to create personal accounts presumably due to mixing of images and loss of business account access with personal images.  I get that it was a problem for them and I believe the solution was to make camera uploads a non-default behavior rather than forcing all users to create a second account. I wrote about it here.

I managed to stay on their old app until 4/12/17, so my business account syncing still worked. I recently caved to their new design and I went through their process to create a new personal account to link to my business account and the process was awful.

So, what was the result?

  • I need a work based media upload feature for my BUSINESS account but can’t get it through Dropbox.
  • Now I have two accounts.  The personal “free” account is far too small as my upload account with a 2GB limit.  This necessitates me creating and paying for yet another account (Dropbox Plus) which is $100 a year extra just to manage my BUSINESS photos, a service I am already paying for with several licenses through my company…
  • This new camera upload specific account now doesn’t have my business size limit, permissions, business support, or the features I used and HAD.
  • Since I created this new account and set up my primary media device, my phone, it has been uploading continuously for hours.  Rather than picking up from 4/12/17 which is where my last upload automatically synced with my business account, the phone is uploading several thousand images and videos.  In talking to support there is no way to resolve this and I am stuck manually going through images I have already sorted within dropbox.  This will take perhaps a days worth of work from me.
  • Dropbox appears to hate media people based on this process.

In the end my workflow is broken, I am paying more, getting less, and Dropbox has no solution for this issue.  I am deeply disappointed in how this has worked for me and my company.  We do have Google Drive and there is a strong chance, we will be moving away from our more expensive Dropbox solution that is now costing us additional time, money, & frustration without need or apparent purpose.

Klean Kanteen – Kid Kanteen Stainless Steel Baby Bottle

A new household member in 2016 means I now talk to a lot of other parents about baby stuff.  As an engineer who has worked with and designed with plastics, I seek to limit my family’s exposure to the material.  Just remember when a product is BPA free, that means some other compound you’ve never heard of is being used for the same purpose.

The essence of the problem is that plastics leach plasticizers and material into their surroundings.  While most parents can’t avoid plastics entirely, I recommend limiting their use as much as possible.  Avoid microwaving or heating the plastic.  Avoid UV (Sun) exposure to the plastic.

This is what we use and we get a lot of questions about it and where we got them, so I wanted to post it up for other parents.  While the nipple is silicone, as long as you don’t heat the silicone & plastic rim, your exposure is limited.  These will last much longer than a traditional bottle, are durable, and heat up quickly in a pot.  If you choose another company’s product, just make sure the stainless is very high quality and does not have any lining.

Klean Kanteen Baby 9oz
9oz Size- http://amzn.to/2lhkGmB

Klean Kanteen Baby 9oz
5oz Size – http://amzn.to/2kUm4iN

You can also get both directly from www.kleankanteen.com/

 

Best Logitech Harmony Remote?

I’ve used a few programmable remotes over the years and helped friends and family set some up.  Maybe this is age showing or just my disinterest in always having something new but the Harmony 880 still works better for me than any of the newer offerings.

Unfortunately, my 880 finally failed after ~9 years of drops and abuse. I thought I was SOL and started looking at new ones until I ran across this on Amazon:

Logitech Harmony 880

While discontinued years ago, I guess the Chinese factory is keeping these strong.  I got one and sure enough it is just like the old one.  No mold variations, button issues, low quality, or screen changes like you might see on a knock-off product.  Worked just like my original genuine Logitech Harmony 880.

I had to load the software to program the new one. Through the Harmony website, I ended up with MyHarmony desktop software which is not the right package to use to program this remote.  Get the 7.x version of the older Logitech Harmony Remote Software.  You can transfer directly from your old ID/remote programming directly to the new one as a replacement.

Logitech Software Page.
Direct link for Windows.
Direct link for Mac.

Problem solved, and I didn’t end up with some product I didn’t like or that had poorer reviews & reliability!

This fastest way to have users mass uninstall your app

Screenshot_20151121-071047

xxx.xx mb junks found!
Recommend to clean

I got the message above recently on my phone.  A brief search shows the offending app is ES File Explorer.  It seems I and anyone seeing this message with the ability to use a search engine is now uninstalling ES File Explorer.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Nexus5/comments/3tpwji/sothis_totally_legit_looking_message_popped_up_on/

http://forums.androidcentral.com/android-6-0-marshmallow/611585-201-34-mb-junks-found-recommend-clean.html

Studio 9000 case design flaw

We have a Dell Studio XPS 9000 which we purchased with an Intel 980x processor back in 2010 for video processing. Over time we’ve added or changed items in this case. In August, we found that 2 of 3 drives in a Raid 0 were failing and one had failed entirely. Luckily the data was in constant churn and was being saved elsewhere as well. When we investigaged, we 55+degC temperatures on two of the drives. The addition of a simple fan and pulling the front cover away from the fan allowed the drives to cool to ~34degC.

The case front is a solid piece of plastic with no airflow. The hard drives are slated to be installed in a location that is poor at best. Unfortunately, airflow was given no consideration here.
XPS-9100

Add a Fan and pull front cover away for a massive thermal improvement.
2015-08-17 11.53.23

Crashplan resolution

Crashplan is a great package. This summer it broke & stopped backing up. It took me a lot of time and another employee a lot of time as we wanted to avoid installing java-common on our production server. This is what we were forced to do in the absence of support from Code42 for headless clients. Later, a Crashplan bug crashed a production server after attempting continuous upgrades and consuming all of the drive space. Both issues are outlined here: Crashplan just crashed my production server.

Today, I found the final resolution. It took hours of trying different solutions, scouring the web, etc. In the end it is simple. The 64bit java package that Code42 supplied did not work on my 64bit Ubuntu 12.04LTS machine. My other linux boxes worked because they were 32bit.

The recommended packages from Crashplan are:

  1. JRE_X64_DOWNLOAD_URL=http://download.code42.com/installs/proserver/jre/jre-7-linux-x64.tgz – DO NOT USE
  2. JRE_I586_DOWNLOAD_URL=http://download.code42.com/installs/proserver/jre/jre-7-linux-i586.tgz – USE THIS

Just dump the above in your crashplan directory and tar xvf it, it creates the jre folder with all the proper user & permissions information. Code42 clearly improved some documentation and their installation since the summer issues.

My Windows desktop Crashplan install upgraded from 3.x to 4.x and stopped working with remote clients as the authentication system changed. The BEST THING you can do is a full uninstall as outlined here:
http://support.code42.com/CrashPlan/4/Getting_Started/Uninstalling_The_Code42_CrashPlan_App

I was fighting for a long time to get connectivity back to my boxes through my local Crashplan app. Once I did the uninstall, it was again very easy to connect to remote stations. The very short version of what you need to do is:

  1. Close Crashplan
  2. Change the local ui.properties to port 4200
  3. Change the local .ui_info with the full text key from the remote station .ui_info file. Change the leading port to 4200 on the local file.
  4. Open Crashplan and you are good to go!

Resources:

  1. http://support.code42.com/CrashPlan/4/Troubleshooting/CrashPlan_App_Version_4.4.1_On_Linux_Does_Not_Back_Up
  2. https://support.code42.com/CrashPlan/4/Configuring/Using_CrashPlan_On_A_Headless_Computer
  3. https://community.netgear.com/t5/Backing-up-to-your-ReadyNAS/CrashPlan-Cheat-Sheet-and-Tweaks/td-p/936241

Crashplan just crashed my production server

I use a mix of Crashplan and Dropbox. They both have their uses and are great. Until recently that is. My headless linux boxes stopped backing up to Crashplan earlier this year. A local JVM instance wouldn’t run. The documentation for a headless client is poor if you run into any issues. I ended up installing the 12.04LTS java-common package a few months ago which is still v1.6.

Importantly, to do this you must change /usr/local/crashplan/install.vars
From JAVACOMMON=/usr/local/crashplan/jre/bin/java
To JAVACOMMON=/usr/bin/java

I will say that I didn’t install the java package on two other linux servers and they subsequently just worked themselves out. I think Code42 (Crashplan’s creator) was inundated with failures as they released some software which essentially broke their linux based backbone. Their newer software versions, at least after 4.4.1, seem to upgrade the native jre package properly and require little intervention. So, before you go down the road of manual jre installations, look into this first.

Backups started working again after the manual jre upgrade, some hassle, a lot of searching, finding logs, etc. It was a mess. Fast forward to today. Server went down around 1:30am. We look and find there is zero space left on the drive. Damn. We find that in our /usr/local/crashplan/upgrade directory there are effectively an unlimited number of time stamped update folders. Crashplan was creating a new folder every 30 minutes and then finding that v1.6 of the ubuntu java-common package was installed and then failing out of the process. This continued long enough to spool up to our entire drive size. Code42, you need a reasonability check here!

I resolved by uninstalling and finding all crashplan install files and locations. Once removed, I installed java using the guide here and the useful first comment for default install. http://linuxg.net/how-to-install-oracle-java-jdk-678-on-ubuntu-13-04-12-10-12-04/ . I went through the install process again. During the installation process java-common was updated with compliant java files as Crashplan does not work with the Oracle version apparently.

Then we are back up again. I’ve lost a huge time commitment fixing these issues brought about by Crashplan’s upgrade processed from 3.x to 4.x. Prior upgrades were seamless and required no intervention. I only noticed this problem when our backups stopped working and the subsequent failure when we had a production server go down.

The new version also required me to open some ports in the Ubuntu Firewall. ufw allow from xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx to any port 4242 is the command I used to open a port back to my office for backups to go back and forth between servers. I keep a local copy of crashplan data here on a file server for rapid restores if needed.

Windows 10 will not allow network access to our file server and how we fixed it

We have a new Windows 10 machine here, a Dell XPS13 we are setting up. When we get to adding a mapped drive for a network share, we are unable to access the share. It should open with everyone level access. All other workstations and laptops varying from XP, Ubuntu, Win7, Win8 Vista, etc have no trouble accessing this network share. We try the network name, try the ip. We try a variety of authenticated accounts on the computer. No combination of user/pass seems to work. We just get password incorrect messages. What the hell Windows 10?

We turned on the Guest account, which is off by default. That showed some resources across the network but did not resolve the issue with our file server.

We find the following article and follow the steps:
http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/windows-10-network-share-access.html

Windows 10 it seems changed the default behavior to access some network resources as a guest. This was not a full resolution.

Then we find the following article and follow the instructions:
http://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/1261994-fix-windows-10-accessing-network-drives-password-incorrect/

After this, we map the drive and go back to disable the guest account and put the registry entry back again.

The full resolution is to enter the following on the username / password prompt when you try to access a network resource in Windows 10:
ComputerName\Username
Password

For example, for a drive with everyone permission, it would be:
FileServerName\Guest
blank

Just another daily time burn to find a resolution for this weird issue. Credit to warwagon on neowin.net.

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Well, I tried to leave a review here:
https://www.nerdwallet.com/card-details/card-name/Capital-One-Spark-Cash#cardholder-reviews

They want to be able to pull vast amounts of social data if I post from google+, facebook, twitter, etc. WordPress and blogger functions simply don’t work. Even if they login, they just take you to your admin page… so here is my review:

3/5 stars

Poor Business Card Practices

We have an account with several cards for our business and a primary user. We had an employee go to another city for a trade show. The charges from that card were deemed fraud and shut down ALL OF OUR OTHER CARDS. This was unexpected and we had to deal with a lot of vendor phone calls that day as we straightened the situation out. There was no fraud and shutting down and entire business credit line for one card number is a poor practice.

In a separate incident, we had actual fraud on one card. We made sure Cap One locked only that one card. They went to re-issue it and for some reason also canceled another card on our account without any notification. When we started getting calls from vendors we called and found that Cap One had canceled the other card by mistake. They also re-issued the card in their standard process rather than the expedited process appropriate for a business our size. 4-6 day handling, then shipping. Issues like this in the past had a replacement card in our hand the NEXT DAY with our competing Amex cards. Cap One expedited the process but could provide no other resolution. Reinstating the old card would have been ideal and saved us time as it was valid, with no fraud, and was already entered into our vendors recurring billing systems.

Lastly, the rewards are poorly managed. We like to take the rewards and put them in a separate account. The only way they offer to do this is by check. We get checks at $200, so we receive several per month. Some have not arrived, we have to keep careful track of these checks mailed by first class mail and this adds unnecessary overhead. ACH or some form of transfer would be an obvious improvement.

We only stay because of the benefits compared to other cards in our purchasing practices. Their poor business handling practices make this hard though as Amex is worlds better at every level other than the rewards offered.