Microsoft Volume License site practically useless at the moment.

Microsoft “upgraded” their licensing site and in the process managed to break the functionality that allows you to request access back to the licenses that you could see before the upgrade. After wasting an hour trying to obtain our licenses online and 2 hours on the phone to try and speak to someone I eventually twittered my frustration and got a message back from Microsoft_VLSC to say they were aware of the problem and offered some help.  I’m currently still without access to my agreements but at least I now know someone is aware of my issue and is looking into the situation.

A note on the front page of the licensing portal would have saved lots of people a lot of time and a lot of frustration (and also saved the poor twitterer from having to message everyone who was having a problem).

To make matters worse when we called up on Tuesday night to activate a Windows 2003 server we were told the product activation systems were also unavailable. Interestingly this happened on Patch Tuesday, after a zero day exploit and I know that Microsoft were hit internally by slammer when that was launched, so the conspiracy theorist in me wonders……. If it’s not a worm, you’d have thought that Microsoft would be able to cluster together a couple of servers so their product activation system would stay up and allow customers to obtain a key so they could access the servers after product activation had crippled the server that the customer had paid for.

iTunes 9 = empty smart playlists on portable devices

I upgraded Itunes to version 9 last week, synchronised my ipod nano, took it to the office and found no music in my “unheard podcasts” playlist. This is a playlist that consists of podcasts with a play count <1 and that are of type audio so it doesn’t try to sync the unwatched video podcasts.

It turns out that this seems to be a bug and all “smart” playlists can be blank on portable devices.  Thankfully it is easy to tell if you are affected – just create a smart playlist with content, sync it to your device and then look in itunes under the smart playlist for the device to see if it is empty.

There is an update to Itunes 9.01 – although this hasn’t fixed the issue – I see that they didn’t rename the playlists feature to “stupid playlists”. The other work around of turning of the liveupdate function in the playlist setting didn’t work for me either.

For those of you who are wondering why I even have this playlist, it’s so that I have all the unheard podcasts in one location so when driving it will automatically switch to the next podcast (or I can skip to the next one). If I use the podcast feature and get to the end of the podcasts from that particular author, I would have to switch to the next podcast manually – not something that is easy or legal to do whilst driving.

In another rant, why did they make the option to mark items as new/not new now watched/unwatched? I don’t know that many people who watch mp3’s and I think most people have far more mp3’s than they do video files.

Oh – and stop offering me the iphone configuration utility, safari4 and MobileMe. If I’ve unchecked it once that probably means I don’t want it – grrr.

HP 3052 software installation

This morning I spent 1.25 hours trying to install the drivers for this printer. The user doesn’t have admin rights so I had to use runas when installing the software, but the cd they had was so badly scratched it couldn’t be used. Instead the drivers had to be downloaded. Unfortunately the website has about 10 different drivers and it took two attempts before I could find the drivers that it was after – in this case it was the larger of the two downloads – the 40mb one instead of the nice quick 3mb file.
However after extracting the download, the installation program kept asking for the driver location and the requested driver files were not in the driver directory created when the software was extracted. Instead they were automagically installed in the windows\system32\drivers directory and also located in the root of the extracted software directory. So if you are going to install this software be warned!
I finished the conversation by telling the user that if he even thought about purchasing the same printer again I’d come over and break his legs – it’s not often you can get away with saying that 🙂

PLEASE do something about the tv ads!

I really wish the tv companies would increase their fees for advertising so that the politicians couldn’t afford to run their stupid mud slinging adverts which tell you absolutely nothing about what they will be able to do for the voter and that contradict each other. Some of the advert breaks are getting ridiculous with the number of political ads running one after each other. If the kids tv channels weren’t already running their christmas adverts I’d be watching the kids channels for the next week.
Politicians – grow up, stop slagging off the people you may well have to work with and get on with your job of improving the country and letting us know what you are going to be doing for the next few years.


Argggh – the state of Ohio has now come back and said they can’t find the fax that I sent to them containing my social security number, drivers licence and full address. This is very worrying as it makes you wonder just *who* has this information and what are they going to do with it. I really can’t be bothered to go through the whole i-filing process again (which seems very haphazard and not secure at all) so I’m going to paperfile my Ohio return. The only downside is that it takes longer to get a refund.

In other annoying news, Roadrunner have still not been able to send me a correct invoice for my service with them. Each month it has been wrong – so far they have lost two checks and started me on autopay despite the fact that I requested them to stop autopay until they could get their act together and bill me correctly. I am seriously considering switching to another supplier, but there isn’t really anyone else unless I drop from 5mb connection down to 150k and who in their right mind is going to do that?

A more incompetent service than Fifth Third bank!

I thought things couldn’t get much worse with the state of Banking but today I got a letter to my US address from Abbey saying that they can’t change the address to my US address! They need a notarised copy of my passport sent to them. The last time I spoke to them on the phone they only wanted a photocopy of the passport. I thought the easiest way around this would be to just close the account but it seems that despite having a valid login to my Abbey account, I don’t have any accounts attached to the account to make any payments from it. They don’t have 24 hour banking via phone, there is no email address to contact them and then they have the cheek to suggest that I might want to use their offshore banking facilities!

Fifth Third have been looking at their competitors ad’s too much.

You have probably seen the ads on tv for Capital One – where they are training the telephone guys to say NO all the time – well I think 53rd Bank have also been watching this too many times.
After not giving me a credit card and then sending a letter saying they want to do everything in their power, I arranged to get a secured credit card – apparently all I needed was a savings account with $300 in it….but they neglected to tell me that I’d only get a $300 limit on the card – not much use if I’m putting work expenses on it!
I come home, feeling annoyed that I wasted my trip to the bank (and they farted around before finally paying attention) and went to pay a bill online – you know, the service that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – unless its Friday night and you have a bill to pay and the service is temporarily unavailable….or if you need to speak to customer service about online banking, then they are only open during business hours…grrrrr. I really need to change banks, one that provides a credit card, free checking, no atm charges and a decent online service – know any?
In the meantime I think I’ll be fighting for a refund of my cheque charges and a closure of my account.


I knew it was going to be a naff day when I managed to knock the new toilet roll off the top of the cistern into the toilet this morning, thus wasting an entire roll of bog roll and the rest of the day didn’t improve much either.
I don’t think I managed to get any decent work done today. This morning I decided to try and do some more programming on the microsoft training course and got as far as the online labs only for the website to come back with an “error – please contact support” message. I then spent the next 2 hours chatting with support trying various things, none of which made any difference. The only thing that I did get working was the screencapture of this process using Microsofts media encoder. This tool is great for doing screencams to send to support people and for some reason I had been getting weird error messages saying that the input stream was invalid, but this morning it worked!
I’m still waiting to hear back from Microsoft on the reason the web page doesn’t work though.

So this afternoon I decided to do some more job hunting and started to apply for a job with verizon wireless as a techie. However, part of the way through they wanted to know the date that I received my mcp qualifications. Trying to access the Microsoft site I found that they had now integrated their logins with their passport scheme and so I didn’t have any username or passwords that worked (my combination was pre passport). On the phone to Microsoft Support and I realised that using the cordless phone (the only option down in the basement) disrupts the wifi signal and I can’t use the internet and be on the cordless at the same time. Eventually I get sent a new username and password for the website, based on my mcp id, so it was a good job I could still find my mcp card which had the details on it. However, by the time I had got all of this information the verizon site had timed out due to lack of use and I had to start again as a new user even though I had originally gone through the username/password signup on their site – it doesn’t actually save these details until you hit submit a resume.
So I finally managed to apply for the two jobs and I thought I’d take a self assessment test before doing the Microsoft desktop support qualification exam (which starts to bring my qualifications uptodate). The microsoft website shows the self assessment test as being available until the end of august yet when you click through to the measureup site it expired end of May. Not only that, but half way through this process I somehow managed to get the passport site to say click the *logouticon* to log in to the website. Anyway, if you ignore the date information and continue on to register when you finally get to start taking the test your 30 questions are generated and the next page says “error ‘80020009’
Exception occurred. /test/Display_Question.asp, line 526” I then got on the phone to Measureup and walked them through the problem and an email has been sent to the developer so hopefully by tomorrow morning I may be able to take the test.

When 1 hour becomes 20

I went to a 1 hour dry cleaners this afternoon at 2pm to get a suit drycleaned. However they were unable to accept it for 1 hour cleaning and the earliest I could get it back would be 10am tomorrow. If I had wanted 1 hour cleaning I needed to have had it dropped off by 1pm. What I can’t understand is the shop closes at 5 at the earliest so that still gave them 3 hours between arriving at the store and them closing for them to clean the suit and they were advertising 1 hour.