Archive by Author | The Angry Technician

Dear Windows team

I know the Sound Recorder program  in Windows 7 isn’t something you probably spent much time on, but here’s a tip: flooding the Event log with 18 messages per second due to an invalid pointer exception you couldn’t be bothered to handle properly is not very helpful when I’m trying to troubleshoot.

Sound Recorder 0x80004003

Please learn to use exception handling properly, and while you’re at it, build in a counter check to make sure you aren’t writing 79,000 messages to the event log in a single session.

Love and kisses,
AngryTechnician

Top tip for your interview as a Teacher

Here’s a little piece of advice when going to your interview for a teaching position: if you’re going to bring digital resources with you (such as a PowerPoint to support your lesson), don’t bring them on a USB stick that also contains the following:

  • 50+ MP3s of clearly dubious provenance.
  • Fake antivirus malware (that attempts to autorun, naturally).
  • Folders named Sexy, Porn, and xxx

If you do, virus victim or not, I will end up dumping a list of these files to the Terminal when I plug your USB stick into my Ubuntu laptop to rescue the PowerPoint file you need, and I will have a bloody good laugh about it with some colleagues later.

Spot the difference: is your Griffin Survivor case a counterfeit?

Recently I had the misfortune of buying a Griffin Survivor case for an iPad mini that turned out to be a counterfeit product. The purchase was made from the Amazon UK marketplace, which is not normally known for particularly dodgy sellers, and the seller had a feedback rating in excess of 95%, which is normally a reasonable sign of trustworthiness. It’s entirely possible the seller themselves didn’t know they’d been had by their supplier, but I was suspicious from the moment I received the product.

Griffin themselves have blogged about this as their premium products are an ongoing target for counterfeiting. However, not all of their advice is useful: they suggest anyone with a big price difference from their own store is selling fakes, but I eventually got my hands on a real one (from Amazon proper, who were out of stock when I originally purchased) for less than half the price Griffin list on their UK store.

Now that I have the genuine item, here’s a quick spot the difference so you an get a better idea of whether yours is dodgy or not.

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Snapshot

0800: Arrive.

0805: Go to History department and return iPad that I found unsecured the previous evening during security audit. Fit new lockbox for iPad to inside of department store room.

0825: Move laptop trolley from secure storage to Library.

0836: Delete stuck print job from front office printer queue. Remind front office for the 18th time to please use the ticketing system, not just email.

1031: Accompany printer technician who arrives to repair hardware fault on managed printer. Stay with technician throughout repair since visitors cannot be around pupils unaccompanied without a safeguarding check.

1118: Repair completed, exactly 3 minutes after break finishes.

1119: Automatic alert that wireless AP in music department is offline.

1120: Phone call that computer in music department is not logging on correctly.

1122: Find music department comms cabinet without power because someone has plugged in an electric kettle after dropping it into a sinkful of water and tripped the RCDs for the entire floor.

1124: Maintenance attends to make safe and restore power, takes photo evidence of unsafe use of electrical equipment.

1135: Pupil hits 100% of storage quota. Delete copies of downloaded horror FPS and illegal MP3 downloads. Quota usage now 24%.

1140: Late break.

1210: Happen upon urgent parcels that arrived 2 hours ago without goods in telling me.

1220: Email from software supplier about .msi installer I enquired about. Tells me he will “get it done one day” as it’s “a bit tricky to write”. (Spoiler: it isn’t).

1230: Finish testing phantom power microphone for French oral exam recording.

1240: Phonecall from receptionist to ask if I would like to speak to the new account manager for one of our existing suppliers.  Ask them to put the call through. Am told there is no call; the rep has turned up unannounced in person at reception.

1245: Impromptu meeting with new account manager, who is forgiven on account of having brought chocolate.

1255: Lunch

1330: Run Windows Update on all non-Server Core servers. Schedule overnight restarts to complete installations.

1341: MIS consultant emails me about a UI bug I reported. Says that the new behaviour has in fact been the way the product has always worked. Clearly I have been imagining my own workflow for the last two years, and have subconsciously worked around the utterly counter-intuitive behaviour currently in the product.

1420: For the 5th time in 2 weeks, show someone which link on the school Intranet to click on to find the instructions guides I painstakingly write. (It’s in the same place I show to all staff at every INSET.)

1432: Teacher calls and asks why they have a message on their homepage that they have not completed their attendance register for yesterday afternoon. Explain that it is because they have not completed their attendance register for yesterday afternoon.

1450: Toner cartridge change in lower school IT lab. Find stack of confidential paperwork that a teacher printed to the wrong printer 3 days ago.

1515: Attend assembly hall after report that the projector remote needed new batteries. Remove existing batteries and reinsert them the right way around, and they work fine.

1537: Spot check on IT labs via AB Tutor. Find about 1/3 of the class mucking around on email and games instead of on their online languages exercises. Call IT lab to advise teacher.

1549: Email English department about the new software I know they bought recently that has mysteriously not turned up.

1555: Delivery from English department via pupil courier of aforementioned software.

1556: Email from English department asking whether the software will be ready for them to use tomorrow morning.

1610: Diagnose problem with InfoPath form that we use to track server maintenance. Turns out to be a stale cached version of the form being used on the client.

1630: Return laptop trolley to secure storage overnight.

1650: Tip-off from a pupil that another pupil is attempting to impersonate a member of staff online. Investigate and send evidence to SMT for tomorrow.

1704: Leave.

Office 2013 error: “Sorry, we are having some temporary server issues” – fix it by clearing a key in the registry

Update 27/02/14: Microsoft have released Service Pack 1 for Office 2013, and still does not contain a fix for the below issue.

Recently we began using Office 365 accounts with the Office 2013 desktop suite, and during a roll-out session for staff, almost everyone in the room got this error message when trying to load the sign-in screen for their Office 365 account for the first time:

Sorry, we are having some temporary server issues. Try again. Cancel.

“Sorry, we are having some temporary server issues.”

The error occurred even before asking for any login details, and a quick check of our Internet access logs revealed that Word wasn’t even attempting to contact a server. I hadn’t seen this during testing, and we couldn’t work past the error when we encountered it, so the roll-out session was a bust. To say I was irritated is somewhat of an understatement.

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Eat a balanced diet

A few years back, we took delivery of a batch of new mice for the computer labs. These Microsoft mice have 18 pages of English language instructions. 18 PAGES. For a mouse. I saved one at the time as a memento of this farce, and recently, I came across that forgotten relic at the bottom of a desk drawer.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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Another way to scan DVB channels: w_scan

This is part of my series of articles on converting digital broadcast TV to IPTV: click here for the other articles in the series.

In previous articles, I’ve given examples of scanning for DVB channels using the scan utility in Linux. However, when I tried doing a channel scan yesterday, it refused to work:

angry-admin@dvb:~$ sudo scan ~/uk-CrystalPalace -u
scanning /home/local-admin/uk-CrystalPalace
using '/dev/dvb/adapter0/frontend0' and '/dev/dvb/adapter0/demux0'
initial transponder 490000000 0 3 9 1 0 0 0
initial transponder 514000000 0 2 9 3 0 0 0
initial transponder 545833330 0 2 9 3 0 0 0
initial transponder 506000000 0 3 9 1 0 0 0
initial transponder 482000000 0 3 9 1 0 0 0
initial transponder 530000000 0 3 9 1 0 0 0
>>> tune to: 490000000:INVERSION_AUTO:BANDWIDTH_8_MHZ:FEC_3_4:FEC_AUTO:QAM_16:TRANSMISSION_MODE_2K:GUARD_INTERVAL_1_32:HIERARCHY_NONE
WARNING: >>> tuning failed!!!

I got a lot more tuning failed!!! messages after that, and no scan results. I’m not sure exactly what is causing this yet, but somebody else in the UK noticed this too, and suspects it began right after a very recent transmitter retune. Luckily, he also had a solution: use a different scanning tool.
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Dear iWork users

Stop sending your stupid Pages files to people via email.

Some of us use computers for actual work and not just dicking around, so we have Windows computers. Even those die-hard Mac users who actually do work on them tend to install OpenOffice or buy Office for Mac, rather than use iWork.

I’m tired of trying to convert your documents for you because our staff have no idea what to do with them, so either sort your Mac out with a proper office suite or BUY A REAL COMPUTER.

Love and kisses,
AngryTechnician

The Consumerised Future

For those of you wondering how school IT will work when the consumerisation of IT is complete, and us IT technicians are surplus to requirements, I got a glimpse of it today.

If you’re familiar with Edmodo, you will already be aware that even when the school has a domain setup for the site, pupils have to create their own accounts and join the school domain using a group code. This means that accounts generally get created in lessons with a class teacher, because the teachers manage their own groups and codes.

For proponents, this is the embodiment of consumerisation in action. The teacher does everything they need to (in the “Cloud”, no less) without any help from an administrator.

And for the most part, it works fine.

Then sometimes, you get an email from a teacher asking when a pupil’s Edmodo account is going to be created, because they’ve been having to email his assignments to him separately for the last four months.

Four months.

FOUR MONTHS.

Double-barrelled

I swear, when we get students who have two names that were already nigh unpronounceable to an English speaker, and the parents have combined them into a double-barrelled surname, they are just doing it to wind us up.

(And to make sure we have to make the ‘name’ box on all our MIS reports longer.)

On a related note, parents who give their children a first name that rhymes with their surname are sadists.