Google Photos Sucks

I used Dropbox camera upload for years for my small business and personal use. In 2014, they disallowed business users from this feature which was a major issue for me. I get why they did this and suggested they simply don’t enable this feature on by default while continuing to allow users to option it for their business. This was a frustrating policy change that I’ve written about before here & here.

I tried using an older version of their app until 2017 when compatibility broke and I was forced off Dropbox.

I moved to Google Photos which was good and bad. The phone integration and sharing with Android users is better. Organization is an absolute mess. You can’t create sub-albums, preventing good organization. When you want to sort to an album, you are forced to scroll through an unsorted list every time. Uploads from a PC are a garbage process. You can only reliably upload 5 images at a time or so through a browser even with a fast computer and fast connection.

If you use their “Backup & Sync” app, who knows where the files go? You can’t search by filename, it doesn’t sort by creation date or modified date. They just go into a black hole. If you have an album, you can’t delete files from the album. You are forced to find the origin image in your raw photos or archived list somehow (remember you can’t search with in any clear definitive way). So, organization is a proper clusterfuck.

Dropbox recently announced they made a mistake and are re-allowing camera upload for business users. I’ve already switched over in full.

The question now, since both systems suck, is which one to use? Laboriously migrate back to Dropbox? Try to work with Google’s organizational clusterfuck? It’s a wholesale mess either way now.

An unexpected household hit

My toddler is only about 17 months old but closer to the size of a 2.5 year old. So, he’s climbing everywhere he can without enough coordination to keep himself safe often.

I decided to get this Kids Kitchen Helper Kitchen Step Stool with Safety Rail so he could get up to the countertop, get his food, and “help.”  It was an unexpected success and he’s using it multiple times daily now with great success.  Most items like this come as cheap particle board and are poorly made where this was actually solid wood and reasonably well put together.

I did have to tighten some screws on the base that were pre-installed but beyond that, this stool far exceeded my expectations.

https://amzn.to/2Tfub70

The Great GoDaddy Fiasco of 2017

The Billing Fiasco

GoDaddy billed us on 8/22/17 for full price, $2,699.91, for 3 wildcard domains. I had spoken to a rep about this some weeks before and said we hadn’t made a decision, so didn’t want to renew yet.  We had 2 months left on our certs…

The SSL Certificate Revocation Fiasco

I called in to cancel this charge.  We planned to investigate, possibly change SSL cert structures due to a web domain expansion, and barter for better rates.  The rep at the time said the NEW certs had to be revoked in order to cancel the charges at 10:33AM. GoDaddy’s system requires that you barter heavily for reasonable rates.

I specifically asked to ensure this would not affect our present certs which had two months left (expiry of 10/21/17).  All seemed well, our refund was due.  I should have checked more thoroughly.

The SSL Explosion Fiasco

At 2:11PM a customer reports a bad cert. This means customers who were new to our website from 10:33AM to 2:11PM were greeted with a security error.  Since we recently moved to all HTTPS/SSL, our entire site(s) were down. Business halted. Everything was fucked. This lost us thousands of dollars, hurt our brand & image, and was an IT nightmare.

The GoDaddy Hostage Fiasco

In short, GoDaddy took a long time to tell us to fuck off, that this was our fault, and we had to order more services to fix it. That our old certs could not be restored. They held our services hostage, offering no resolution, and tried to milk us for more funds.

The – Character Fiasco

We now embarked on a quest to bring our websites up using a newer UCC/SAN SSL Certificate.  In so doing, we found that several domains did not work. Turns out, GoDaddy represents the domains on their webpage and in their documentation with a dash character of UTF-8 code hex 0xE28091 (integer 14844049) rather than the FAR more common (and accurate) hex 0x2D or 45 integer you’d find on your keyboard.  We hypothesize that some designer liked the thinner – afford by this crazy character set and that this is costing their support tens of thousands of dollars over the years.

The customer support rep was angry at us for this problem, though he stated that this happens with some regularity for YEARS. We try to explain the problem to him. His understanding and DGAF attitude seems this information and any potential technical resolution will stop with him.

The Solution Fiasco

We were finally able to get our sites up and clean up this mess around 6:15PM. We could have done this faster if we had stopped, gave up on GoDaddy and their support entirely, and just spooled this up on our own.  It probably would have taken us less than 2 hours after failure had we caught the issue and assumed that GoDaddy was an absolute wasteland of competence and/or assistance at every level. This downtime cost us thousands of dollars and completely burned our relationship with GoDaddy. 

The Resolution

We will be migrating our dozens of domains, SSL certs, and all products with GoDaddy.  We have spent tens of thousands of dollars with them over many years. This isn’t the first time we’ve been treated like garbage within their structure but it is the last time. Fuck GoDaddy. Never even think about using them.

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