Month: April 2007

Riverside Hospital tech

The family waiting room at Riverside hospital has a neat web based (I assume) application that shows you the list of patients in the hospital and their progress. When you checkin at the hospital, the accompanying person is given a piece of paper with a number on that relates to that person. They can then look up the patients status on the various monitors around the waiting room to see if they have checked in, awaiting surgery, in surgery, recovery or what room they are in. This makes it easier to keep up to date on someone’s status. They also tannoy announcements whenever a doctor has new news for the family. It’s a cool system but would be really good if this was available outside the hospital on a website so that a patient could let people know their number (and I guess they’d also need a passcode to prevent unauthorised disclosure) so people would know how soon to leave their home to come visit and what room they would be in.
They also have free wireless for internet access and a couple of phone jacks for the poor souls who have to use dialup to access the internet. Each room also has incoming telephone access (in comparison to the hospital in the UK which had premium rate dialin access for each bed which is a despicable practise and I think there is actually talk of dropping this charge) and you can even Send an electronic greeting card to patients.

Kristen in surgery.

For those of you who don’t know, Kristen is undergoing surgery at the moment for the removal of her thyroid. Before she went down for surgery she seemed pretty relaxed and was joking around like crazy – I’m not sure if they put something in her drip or whether it was the fact that she’d only had 3 hours sleep in the past 49.5 hours. For more updates, keep an eye on Kristen’s blog where I’ll post updates.

Outlook/office dialog boxes look funny.

For some reason, one of my (terminal) servers has started to show funky dialog boxes in office applications. Everything looks plain, like in vb3 days and the options dialog box in outlook is unusable as the dialog is too small for the content. Any ideas on what has caused this?
Wrong dialog box


Correct Dialog box – everything fits in the screen (although I snipped the bottom off)


Update – Mike – you are a genius. The funny thing is that I thought it was the fonts but at first glance it seemed ok. However, I compared the fonts in the appearance setting of the display applet in control panel and sure enough, the font settings were blank. A look at the Tahoma font in the font applet and it was 0 bytes – aha! Installed Tahoma again across the network and the fonts and dialog boxes are now back to normal. – Sir, I owe you a pint.

Zoomit updated

Zoomit has been updated, the tool that allows you to zoom into part of the screen, annotate the screen or have a break countdown timer displayed on the screen when doing presentations. I went to a presentation last week on Microsoft’s Forefront Technology software (which seems to have promise but doesn’t seem to be anywhere near capable as a replacement for Mcafee, Symantec etc due to the lack of functionality) which was in dire need of a zoom tool as the presenter even commented that he was having difficulty seeing the screenshots on his screen (so why on earth they were included in the powerpoint presentation I don’t know). At the end of the presentation I fired my laptop up, loaded zoomit and took it to the (Microsoft) presenter to show it to him and suggested he downloaded it and uses it in the future.
Update You can the presentation and virtual machines for Forefront by downloading the Microsoft Forefront and System Center Demonstration Toolkit. I intend to write up my thoughts from the meeting into a blog post later (as I have to provide feedback to the rest of the office anyway)

Sema4 drop down lists slow?

We had a customer who had a new installation of Sema4 (accounting and timesheets package) installed on a new pc and the performance of the software was abysmal in some cases. It was reported to me that if they opened the package and selected timesheets and then selected the employee drop down list, there would be a long wait for the dropdown box to appear and the program would appear to hang. I timed it and it took 7 minutes (for about 50 users) for the dropdown box to appear after it was clicked when the timesheet screen was first loaded.
The very strange solution is posted in the extended entry….

2 year anniversary

Yesterday was the second anniversary of moving to the States. The time has really flown by and so much has happened since our move. This now means that if we ever did go back to the UK then Kristen would have to go through the whole visa process again, which means the move is even more unlikely! I’ll write a longer post up later but right now we’re enjoying a secluded getaway in Hocking Hill’s. It’s unlikely we’ll go out from the cabin as the “road” up to the cabin has many potcaverns in them (too big to be called holes) and the car makes a funny noise every time we go over them. (I did manage to get 3 geocaches yesterday whilst Kristen was getting supplies though!)

WHS beta CTP released

Winows Home Server CTP was released a couple of days ago and I downloaded and installed it last night. It seems to have changed a fair amount. The backgrounds are a lot fancier and modern looking with gradiented colouring for most of the applications and backgrounds.
As far as the main server itself is concerned, the re-install went smoothly and the little bit of data (I’m not trusting my main data to the server just yet) remained on the disks, but the OS part of the server gets wiped out completely so the users needed to be reset back up and the backups of the client pc’s were wiped. This wasn’t that big a deal seeing as though the backup engine on the previous install had somehow got corrupted and wasn’t backing up the clients anyway!
Thankfully the reinstall seems to have fixed the backup issue – sort of – and the backup functionality has the appearance of working and the remote access is now back again.
I set up two of the pc’s to backup last night, but only one of them actually backed up. The first was my main desktop machine and that backed up successfully. The only issue is that the option to exclude folders fails to work properly as often the application comes back with a “home pc not responding” option when you expand a folder to select for exclusion so I ended up backing up more than I really wanted to.
For some reason it failed to backup the laptop pc and the console had a message saying that the transport service had failed (again) so I’m doing a manual backup now which seems to be working ok.
The remote access seems to have improved and the ability to automatically open the appropriate ports on the firewall via upnp is now part of the interface. I didn’t actually use this as I had already opened the ports for the first beta release and everything was set up as I liked it. They have also included the ability to have your own subdomain that points to your home server. Currently there is only one domain choice – but it looks like more will be on the way soon. The neat thing about this part of the application is there is no configuration needed at the client end. All you do is select the subdomain and the domain you want to use and that is it (assuming you already have a Windows Live ID – if not you are prompted to sign up for one). No need for the users to worry about ip address’s and whether they are going to need a static or dynamic option. I was surprised to see that they didn’t include support for out of the box, but I guess this is due to the fact that dyndns doesn’t need a Live ID and therefore it is out of Microsoft’s control somewhat. I was also expecting to see more domain options – there was talk about it being something like domain earlier on in the beta.
Another (cosmetic) option is the ability to change the “headline” and home page of the web interface for the server too but the headline is (sensibly) limited to letters, numbers and spaces – no dashes. This is probably to reduce the chance of user included html in the main page. There currently is no user interface to change the colours, graphics etc of the main page but that can be done in the raw html if you like to get your hands dirty (and your code overwritten with any new updates). I think there will be a few plugins released for this area of the system to include features such as your favourite flickr feed (or pictures from the photos shared folder) automatically to the front page of the server.
The server still fails to synchronise the time with but that seems to be common with a lot of windows servers – not just WHS but I really wish they’d accepted my bug request of allowing the user to select which time zone they are in – it still defaults to pacific time 🙁
The main console also includes status lines at the bottom that provide the backup status, whether the storage is balanced (data existing on more than one disk) and who the last person to remote access in was. I’m still awaiting the option to see event viewer on the console too – admittedly this is an advanced feature but Microsoft say they don’t really want people using rdp sessions and to tell them why you need to use rdp – but I guess you can also use eventvwr from a remote pc and just open up the logs remotely anyway.
Overall, this release seems to be more stable (a couple of my bugs have been marked as fixed) and feature filled.

Tiny emails printed in outlook with ie7

If you have outlook and try to print an email and the font is incredibly small, then you will need the hotfix from kb932538 referenced in the article on Sandy’s page. I would link to the Microsoft site but the knowledge base article is not published which explains why you can’t find any details on this problem when you search in technet (sigh).
I’ll be requesting this one for my customers on Monday morning as I have at least two desktops that are having this problem. The interim solution is to hit reply or forward and then print the email.
Update I installed this patch on a customer site this morning and it approximately doubles the size of the font so the printout is now just about readable – still nowhere near the size of the printout if I hit forward (or reply) and then hit print. I’m not sure how to go about sending feedback to Microsoft that this doesn’t solve the problem.