ActiveSync through USB to my Orange SPV M600

Now that I’m off the Business Analysis engagement, I’m in the process of getting my technical kit back up to scratch. With the option of avoiding GRPS for synchronisation, I’ve been trying to sync through USB to my desktop. Past experience with previous Microsoft Smart Phones means that I always synchronise straight to the Microsoft Exchange Server, whether or not I’m on some wireless network (WiFi or GRPS).

The new version synchronises Tasks too, which is great for todo lists and the Getting Things Done methods.

I’d had all sorts of hassle sychronising through USB, and worked through the various options of different USB ports, pulling out all of the other USB devices, opening desktop firewall ports and even trying the Beta version 2.5 of ActiveSync. The problem I appeared to have was that the device would appear to drop off the connection, even though it was still there and charging. Checking the web and knowledgebase seemed to suggest this was a usb / driver issue. I even borrowed a bluetooth dongle from a colleague to give it a go. It would sync once or twice, then drop off, then power up or otherwise. Up and down, with no apparent pattern. It even appeared that having usb, bluetooth and wifi on the M600 on at the same time would help USB, but then it stopped again.

I opened up the requisite ports in Windows Firewall, but it didn’t cure the intermittant stuff. I dug deep and found the problem – another firewall lurking in the desktop antivirus. I switched that one off, leaving windows firewall on, and it has been fine since. The device will still drop the connection from time to time, but this appears a deliberate when you do a soft switch off.

Bike Serviced this week

My first year of ownership of the R1100RS comes to an end, and I’ve got the old machine serviced again by George in Queensferry. Turned out my sticky brake caliper was nothing of the sort, and was actually a sticky brake lever pivot. The way to check? Spin the wheel and move the lever!

Unfortunately the allen bolt head has been mangled in a previous attempt, and the casting can be at risk if you give the bolt removal a good shot, so the miracle WD40 has done the job, and I have my instructions for where to spray a liberal supply to keep it unstuck.

Sixth, Seventh, Eighth Ride to Advanced

I’ve been a bit remiss in keeping these up to date, my last post spoke about the EDAM Miss Laidlaw trophy which was a break in the standard proceedings, as was today’s ride which was also connected to the Miss Laidlaw trophy.

There are two trophies on offer for the annual award, which are held for a year after the competition. As I mentioned when I posted about the original trophy day it starts with a test paper and slow riding work with cones. The trophies are split between full members (who have passed the IAM motorcycle test) and associates (who are working up to the IAM Motorcycle test), and as I learned in a phone call a couple of Fridays ago, I was one of the top associates in the first part. What then follows is an assessment of my road riding by one of the observers, and I guess then that the combined results come together to give a winner. The full members get the “priviledge” of a police rider taking them out for their assessed run!

So I was out for my ride at half ten this morning, with Simon who is the observer who got to take out the associates. We rode a loop which included a bit of town riding, dual carriageway, country and town again. We had speed limits of 30, 40, 60 and 70, traffic lights, roundabouts, and also a bit of aftermath of muck spreading on a road to Penicuik. One thing about bikes is that because you are outside under your helmet, you get the full effect of smells. Isn’t the countryside wonderful!

We stopped back at the Dreghorn Little Chef and ran through the ride, with my usual habits coming out, I can be a bit on the slow side and can sometimes lock on to the front instead of looking around to benefit more from the side view. I could observe the distance better and make use of what I see. All bits I need to work on, and a good steady ride apart from a bit of madness at the end where I went for it in front of a Volvo on the bypass. A bit too much haste there!

The sixth ride a couple of weeks ago was with another observer, Stuart. We did a bit of town work and some slow riding, which was quite interesting. The slow riding practice included a bit of stop / start routine, which is all to do with stopping and moving off safely. This involves covering brakes and checking all around, while generally avoiding toppling over. The slow riding included riding along while Stuart walked at different speeds, and then riding round in circles clockwise and anticlockwise in ever decreasing circles while trying to keep the bike upright instead of leaning. Another good week, with one or two pointers and lots of practice to go.

The seventh week involved Bob the Senior Observer and Dave the trainee observer, and catching up with the weekly Roadcraft and Highway Code questions which I should have been filling out. Part of Observing is having various local routes up your sleeve that include features that will test the candidates abilities to handle different situations, while keeping the run at a manageable length to stop and debrief a couple of times and keep the overall time within limits of just under two hours. Bob illustrated one of his nasty (ish) routes that challenge cornering ability, both with a twisty A road with lots of chevrons etc, and also a wee twisty B road which really tests you. Needless to say I found them quite a challenge and it gave me plenty to work on, I need to get smoother with my cornering and make the best use of observation to get the best out of my cornering. The run also showed up one or two inadequacies in my slow riding which tends to be used at junctions. I’d taken a long weekend to do some riding, so managed to get out about three or four days running to practice.

All in all I know I need to work on a number of areas, but you always do in motorcycling, and I don’t think I’m too bad for someone who has effectively been riding for just under a year. I’ve had a good few weeks and I’ve got stuff to work on during my commute to work.

Alistair Laing is an MCDBA

My pass of 70-215 went up on the prometric site on Thursday, but I’ve been watching the MCP Site to see when the pass would get through. Went up on the online transcript today, up there at the top is the “Legacy” cert for Microsoft Certified Database Administrator for SQL Server 2000. Yay 🙂

My 15th exam and I’ve been at this Malarky for over 10 years.

Hey Dude, where’s my contact lense

Out on the bike today, so contact lenses in. Came to remove them a little while ago and could only find the one in my right eye, it was in the middle as usual. Couldn’t see the one in my left eye. Thought that was a bit wierd.

My eye was a little uncomfortable, a bit like hayfever, but localised in one place. So I moved my eye around and felt on my closed eyelid, slid it along and out popped a folded up contact lense. Yuk.

At least all are now accounted for. I’m still getting used to the malarky of putting them in, in my box of right eye lenses I’ve got 6, and in my left eye box I’ve got 10. Something wierd about my right eye then.

Dobbin and the Knights of Cydonia

I’ve got my headphones on to drown out the background noise while I do my studying for 70-215 Administering old Windows Servers. I’m settling in to the excellent Muse Album Black Holes and Revelations, which has a track called “Knights of Cydonia“. At the beginning are some ever so slightly dodgy cavalry samples, and I’m sure if you listen carefully you can hear the pantomine horse Dobbin from Rentaghost. Good to see it still gets some work as a session horse.

Spam email, yuk rant

Spam is a blight, I have to delete spam posts from the feedback on this blog, and I have spam control software on my email client.

At the moment I’m getting hundreds of messages bouncing back to an email account on one of my domains because evidently someone out there has or is sending spam with a reply address which isn’t their own.

Now although I accept the logic of a screening function that challenges a particular email if detected as spam, and offers the sender the opportunity to take remedial action, I’m rather annoyed at the stupidity of some returns which effectively say “your email is spam, go away”. I’d like to say to such senders that the numbers of spammers who use their own email address on SPAM is next to nil these days, and at the moment I think such people arenot very far up the stupidity scale from spammers themselves.

Some advice for mail admins – just delete the things, then I don’t receive 500 copies of the original spam message that you got from some stranger to me, and you don’t clog your outbound SMTP queue or the relays handling them downstream. And yes, I know some may be useful because there is a human at the other end, but frankly I’d rather try a couple of times and sort it out with my existing contact by telephone rather than rely on an email.

That’s me done the Business Analysis Bit

Way back last year I posted a quick summary of the work situation. I’d gone from technical development consulting to being based on site in the IT department of a Scottish Bank. From an original 6 month stint, I ended up being asked to stay and finished up being on site with them yesterday. I’ve learned a whole lot about the workings of a Corporate Bank, a fascinating experience and given me lots to think about. I’ve also learned one or two things about Business Analysis, reinforced certain views I had and confirmed a few others.

The people there were great, and coming to an end there has been like changing jobs, which is a major event for me. I’m sure I’ll be glad I made the decision, at the moment I’m a bit overawed by the whole thing.

70-215 Progress to Windows 2000 Server exam next Thursday

My technique of booking the exam before I’m entirely comfortable has worked, the nerves are beginning to kick in and I’m getting a bit of tunnel vision which is building as I get nearer to the day. I’ve also got a daily entry in my diary saying how many days to go to the exam, so due to the all day event I’ve put in Outlook, my M600 buzzes at about midnight every evening to remind me I have, for instance, 6 days to go.

I’m at the stage when I use Transcender test software to poke holes in my knowledge, and then scour the resources for the proper answer. At the moment I’m needing to get a bit more of the variants of unattended installation into my head, and final tweaks to the different volume options available. There are a number of scenarios for multi-disk volumes when failure occurs in a disk, and how to get it back, or how to add it in.

I’m working away on basic IP routing too, which I suppose I should know after all these years doing web development. It helps me to realise what a simple view I had of such, and the headache that proper routing and subnetting has in just the basic config of IP networks. Although not really covered in any depth in this exam, the power of Active Directory is beginning to dawn on me, and again is leading to a bit of appreciation at the job Infrastructure engineers have doing the design work. Planning out the organisation to make the most powerful use of the Group Policies is an impressive feat of skill. Hat’s off to my colleagues who consult on such matters.

Working away at this exam has been a good eye opener, and I’m increasingly impressed at good old Windows 2000. Windows 2003 must be really good, and we have Longhorn on the horizon!