SATV now over fiber!

Yesterday, the Comcast techs finished their work.  Our three channels are now being broadcast over fiber.  It’s more like 2005-era technology instead of the very latest but we’re not complaining, it was the best we could get.  We have fiber links from City Hall, Salem High School, the School Committee room at the Collins, and Bowditch Middle School.  Our old coax net also went to the Hawthorne Hotel, Salem State College and several other places but we weren’t able to get Comcast to recable those.
Last summer, the city council held a hearing on the poor quality of the video feeds from the School Committee in particular.   The spring before, they had installed a "new" modulator at our facility.  "New" is in quotes for a reason.  The techs didn’t have a manual for the equipment and Sal asked me to find it online;  I’m always being asked to do that since I keep track of all our manuals on our Sharepoint site.
I found the manual on the Motorola site and learned that the equipment, new to us, was old to Motorola–it was end-of-lifed!  It could have caught fire tomorrow and Moto wouldn’t have fixed it.
The council, and us at SATV who were present, gave the Comcast business rep a prolonged ass-chewing.
A year later, we have our fiber.  I wish our WAN and phones were fiber, too, but that’s another day.
For now, my friend Leo Jodoin will be very happy!

[Cross posted to A Salem Blog.]


New Fiber Feed at SATV

While I’m busy with the server, the techs from Comcast are running fiber to our building.
For the past 30 years, Salem has had a coax-based cable TV network.  It shows.  We lose signal when it rains and the cable vault under the post office floods.  We broadcast our City Council and School Committee meetings live and in recent years we have had miserably poor video quality.
But this week, we are replacing our coax feed with fiber.  I thought the yellow cables were pull strings until I saw the connectors!
The techs say we’ll be on the air with the new feed by the end of this week.

The Migration Continues

I was too busy from Tuesday on to do an update or even a Twitter, but we got over the first hump of SBS migration;  all of the triple checks I did resulted in an installation that apparently worked right the first time.  Of course, setup reported "non-critical errors" but for once it was actually true (the last time I saw this in setup on my own server, it meant "Haha start over noob!".)   The error was due to the server not getting updates during installation;  the remedy is to run Microsoft Update on the server and get updates, which has been done.
The only thing I’ve found that threw me:  Our internal IP range has a large exclusion range;  we have quite a few static devices in our network.  Out of the box SBS 2008 has the exclusion 192.168.x.1 through 192.168.x.10 and 192.168.x.254 (where x is an octet value specific to your site;  by default it is 1 but we use a different value.)
Our exclusion is 192.168.x.1 through 192.168.x.50 and 192.168.x.240 through 192.168.x.254.  This seems like a big exclusion but still provides more than enough for for all our DHCP devices.
I have wanted our new server to be 192.168.x.21;  The SBS Connect to the Internet Wizard wouldn’t let me use that;  the address was already reserved.  I gave it another address I would have preferred not to use (I strongly feel that addresses .1 through .10 should be reserved for gateways and other network infrastructure devices, with .11 through .20 for servers.)
I can of course revisit that when migration is complete and the old server is off the network.
In the meantime, things move forward;  all our shared folders are moved and I am waiting for public folders to replicate between the old and the new server so I can move the mailboxes.

The migration begins

I came in at 6:45 this morning to start the migration process to go from SBS 2003 to SBS 2008.  Most ot the morning was spent reconfiguring the network;  we are, or were an ISA 2004 shop–we had to remove it and replace it with a firewall appliance, part of a device we already had but weren’t using for that purpose.
Top photo is my paperwork, growing by the second, and a stick drive I’m using for the process.  Middle photo is the old server on the left, and the new server on the right.  The UPS in the middle powers both machines.  Bottom photo is a screenshot of the sysprep tool that’s run on the old server.  (It finished succesfully.)
I’ve rerun the SBS Best Practices analyzer, and the EBS Migration Preparation tool each one last time and both of them say we’re good to go.  The network is running along nicely, and the new server has been running a memory test for 5 days without any problems.  I can’t put off installing SBS any further.  Time to go.

Pictures from This Week

A friend asked me for an unboxing photo of my Tightrope T-shirt.  Eyeroll.  But here you go.

But some good news:

The front panel of our Dell PE1900.  It took longer than I wanted to get to that point, as the machine was dead out of the box—it would not get out of the BIOS screen before shutting down.

The tech ended up changing virtually all the parts out, but it was likely the power supply gone bad.  Why Dell didn’t burn it in for a day I’ll never know.  I remember when the lead time for our first Dell server in late 2001 (PE1500, since deceased) was three weeks.  Our second Dell server (1800, presently in use) was delivered in two weeks.  The 1900 was delivered in less than a week.

It must have worked just long enough for the techs there to setup the PERC RAID for us, and then they shut it down.  Even if they’d run a memory test for just a few hours, they’d find the problem.  In several rare instances when I could start the server and run diagnostics, I never could keep it running for more than 45 minutes.

After the new power supply, the machine has been running diagnostics and memory tests with no problems.  I set up the DRAC (remote console) and am having it run a memory test over the weekend.  Tuesday, if all goes well, I’ll start the migration.

I bent to the relentless forces of social networking and have a Twitter page.  I’ll tweet every so often starting Tuesday if something interesting or scary happens with the process.

Coming Soon to SATV: SBS 2003 to SBS 2008 Migration

Coming soon to Salem Access Television:  Small Business Server 2008.  Our plan is to upgrade the server and replace the desktop machines later on.  Stay tuned.

Unexpected Gifts

I got this T-shirt at the office from a vendor apparently unsolicited.  All I can think of is that I’d been dealing with their tech support over a bad drive in our video server.  They agreed that I had a problem and the drive was indeed bad but they had a network outage and were short staffed when I opened my case.  It took almost two weeks but we did get our drive.   I put it in the array, rebuilt it and promptly forgot about it. 

When I got the package, I thought it was another hard drive that was shipped by mistake and I think, “no, vendors don’t send gifts with red bows!”  Shows how much I know.

A more explicable prize from a trade show I was at: