Monday, November 30, 2009

Windows Home Server recovery

For a while there has been an update to MyMovies that I have been meaning to install.  On Saturday, I decided to do the upgrade.  The first thing that I did was uninstall the old Windows Home Server add-on.  The uninstallation appeared to go OK, and I was prompted to reboot the server.  Once I did, the server would not fully boot back up.  Since this is a HP MediaSmart ex475, and there is no video out, the only option is to recover the server.  Since server recovery consists of reinstalling the server software, I decided to to take this opportunity to upgrade the system drive to a 1TB drive that I had, but hadn't used.

Reinstalling the software went fine, but I was never able to get it to automatically recover the data from the other drives.  Supposedly, when you do a server recovery, the data will be automatically reconstructed from the drives.

Instead, the server partition is created, and all of the other drives are just mounted, but not added to the storage pool.  No data is lost here, but you just need to copy the data back to the storage pool.  This page describes the steps required to recover data. I am using GoodSync to do the copy, as it pretty much functions like rsync, but doesn't require cygwin.  The copying of the data will take a few more days.

Windows Home Server user account tips

Over the Thanksgiving break, I helped my grandmother with some things with her computer.  One of the problem is that on one of her new computers, her account name was spelled differently than it was on the Windows Home Server.  This causes her to be prompted for her username and password when she tries to mount the server.

Unfortunately, in Windows, you can change the display name for an account, but you cannot change the username.  In order to fix this, you need to create a new account with the right username, and then copy all of the files to the new home directory.

Since when you create a new account on windows, the control panel doesn't offer the ability to specify the username and display name.  I would recommend that when you create a new account, you create an account and specify the username.  Then after the account is created, change the name to the name you want displayed (This only changes the display name)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Smart AC

A while ago, I received a letter from PG&E mentioning their Smart AC program.  This program lets customers voluntarily let their air conditioning get throttled when there is a significant energy demand.

The box that is installed on the compressor, has a pager network radio receiver, and when it receives a signal from PG&E, it will throttle the AC back.  It looks like it does it's throttling by cycling the compressor on in 15 minute intervals, when the thermostat tries to turn the AC on.  During this time, since the thermostat thinks that the compressor is on, the fan will still be running to help with the cooling of the house.  Users also have the ability to opt out of the throttling in 24 hour periods.

In our case, I don't think that we will be affected, as we hardly have the AC on.  But, I figure that we can do our part, and if turning off our AC in 15 minute intervals, can prevent a black out, we can join the program.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Upgrade ext3 to ext4

I was interested in upgrading my laptop's hard drive to ext4 from ext3.  Ext4 offers some features over ext3, and I figured that since I upraded to Kubuntu 9.10, I might as well upgrade the file system.

This blog post describes the steps needed to upgrade from ext3, without formatting the hard drive.

Unfortunately, I didn't unmount it before running through the steps, and I didn't pay attention to the fsck warning.  My partition did get corrupt, and I decided to reformat and do a clean install.  (At least I am able to create an ext4 partition, and it is nice to do a clean install every once in a while.)

Luckily, I was able to restore all of my data, since I have been backing up my files on Linux with JungleDisk.  Also, I am able to restore my Windows VMWare image, since it is backed up to my Windows Home Server.

Skype video with Ubuntu 9.10

I had to reinstall Kubuntu, for a reason that I will write about later, so I needed to reinstall skype.  When I downloaded and tried  the 2.1 beta, I wasn't able to get video to work.

I was able to use the instructions on this page to get video working.  You need to launch skype with the following command line:
LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv41/ skype

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Netflix and Windows Media Center

For some reason, within the past couple of days Netflix streaming in our Vista Media Center stopped working.  The interesting thing is that playback worked from the browser and from PlayOn, both from that computer.  Nothing that I did solved the problem.  I was getting so frustrated that I wanted to just get a Roku HD, so I wouldn't have to deal with software configuration anymore.

As one last ditch effort, I wanted to upgrade to Windows 7 to see if would fix Netflix streaming.  If it didn't, I would go get a cheap Comcast DVR, and a Roku HD box for each TV.

The upgrade to Windows 7 went smoothly, and I am now able to stream Netflix content.  Also Windows 7 Media Center adds other Internet TV sources.  In addition to those things, the redone UI is very nice.

Disk Space on WHS System disk

I have been having some problems with my Windows Home Server.  The 20GB system disk has been filling up.  When this happens various programs get unstable (Can't connect to the console, Squeezebox Server crashes, ...)

I RDP'd into the server and then took a look for where the disk space was going.  I found that the log files from the DynDNS client were taking 8GB of space.  Once I deleted the log files, everything started working well again.  I will try to see if I can disable the logging the client.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Multiple accounts with Live Mesh

I am the tech support person for our family.  For my wife's grandmother, I installed a Windows Home Server in her house.  One of the features of the Windows Home server is that it is a proxy to allow you to RDP into the other computers on the network.  The problem is that this only works for the computers that have the RDP server enabled.  (i.e. Windows Vista Ultimate...)

Windows Live Mesh has a similar feature, but it doesn't have the requirement that the windows installations has its RDP server enabled.  Live Mesh's implementation requires that the Live Mesh client is installed on the computers that you want to access, and the computers that you want to do use to access them.  Once you have the software installed, you need to log into Microsoft's live server on each computer.  Then from any computer signed into a Live Mesh account, you can connect to any other computer also signed into that account.

The problem is that this doesn't really work well with multiple accounts.  For example, I have a Live Mesh account, and normally am logged into it when I log into my Windows account.  When I want to help out family, I need to log out of my account and then log into their account.  Ideally, Microsoft would add the ability for a Live account holder to be able to grant access to another Live account for a particular computer.