August 31, 2005
I'm going to start this with a quote from Caddyshack:
It's easy to grin, when the wind's at your back,.
And you've got the whole world by the feet.
But the man who's worthwhile,
Is the man who can smile,
When his shorts are too tight in the seat
Under the right conditions, any band can sound good. But when you are in a rather messed up situation, and you still kick ass and create new fans? That's a band that kicks ass, and that's just what The Donnas did on 20 August, 2005 at the Missouri State Fair.
The concert was held in the racetrack, and it was literally a mudpit. I had huge clumps of the crap all over my shoes. The seats? Folding chairs, in the mud. But it gets better. It had been raining like hell for a couple days preceding the concert, and that day, it was humid as *hell*. About 90 degrees. But the worst was the sound. For the first 2-3 songs of the set, all you could hear was Maya's bass and a wee bit of Torry's drums. Brett was pushing herself over a mix muddier than the ground by sheer force of will, and Allison's flawless guitar work was almost completely buried. With many bad looks from Brett at the soundboard, it got somewhat better by the end of the show, but still, my housemate was about to give Maya a twenty if she kabonnged the yahoo running sound. (Note to the band: If you are in need of a sound jock and a half, email me, I got someone for you)
It was painful
I don't know who was running sound, and I don't want to say for a fact it was a deliberately crappy mix, but they got told to cut the set short, which blew, and miraculously, the sound mix was perfect for Hoobastank. I don't mean, a little better. I mean, perfect. Amazing how the two opening bands get it in the shorts, but the headline act has perfect sound.
It didn't matter. It was a fantastic show. Torry's drums were spot - on, and agressive as hell. I have a fondness for a drummer who can play well on a basic kit. John Bonham kicked everyone's ass with a basic garage band kit, and Torry was doing the same. Maya was playing bass like bass should be played, rock - friggin' steady, hard, and radiating attitude all over the stage. Kind of an Entwhistle vibe, only better looking. I really love her bass, it's sweet. Brett was singing really well, and managing to connect with the crowd, even though most of them were all 'Stank fans and the place was just starting to fill in. Allison was channeling Jimmy Page with a bit of Angus Young on the side. Watching her move around the stage was giving me flashbacks to Page circa 1973. Watch "The Song Remains The Same", the similarities are uncanny. Playing like a combination of Angus's brother Malcom and Page as well, only a lot cleaner than Page, who while brilliant, has never been the epitome of clean playing. This was my son's first concert, and he was quite psyched during "Fall Behind Me" to see Allison using the SG. "That's like my guitar!!".
No effects racks, no vocal effects, no wizardry. Just kick - ass rock and roll that climbed well past the obstacles they had to deal with. (On a side note, i do want to apologize for staying in my seat. I was trying to take in everything at once, so I'd remember it better. I know how much it can suck for a band when the audience seems to not be getting into it, and that was definitely not the case. But I really wanted to write as much of the show to long-term memory as possible, and get some decent shots with my rather crappy camphone.) We brought a friend of my housemate's, who had never heard anything by band, and afterwards was most effusive in her praise, and announced that she was now a Donnas fan. My housemate, who is one of those oft-terribly intimidating musical prodigies, (Perfect pitch, plays everything, was rattling off what freq's on the soundboard were wrong, and can adjust her singing pitch to match an improperly tuned instrument, and was saying she sucks because it took her more than a single night to teach herself the basics of "Voodoo Child") was really impressed by everything, and normally, it takes Prince or Queen to impress her. She said a few days later that if she had the cash, she'd have joined the Donnaholics just to get to the Desert Moon even, because she really wants to see them under better circumstances, and when they aren't cut short by some prat.
(On a side note, Hoobastank was just utterly unimpressive, and should have been opening for The Donnas. First, if you're using a shitpot of vocal effects, you're not punk. Period. Cut off that stupid mohawk. Secondly, when you're moving the mic back and forth so that it's going from halfway down your throat to a foot away from your face, and nothing changes in the sound of your voice at all? That makes it real obvious that you're at best, using backing tracks, and at worst, lip-synching like some Ashlee Simpson clone. The wrong band was headlining. Yes, yes, I'm sure I'll get all kinds of hate mail from 'Stankheads. Won't matter, and I don't care. The Donnas kicked ass, and was schooling them on what a live performance should be. 'Stank is just another wannabe band picking on the bones of movements gone past.)
The movie links are below. I really recommend turning the sound down, the mic on my phone SUCKS. Also, as the night wore on, the lighting gets worse, although it's a rather bizarre effect by the end of it.
And a few pics:
I'm really glad they made it to Missouri, although next time, I'm hoping for them to play a better arena for them, like Kemper. (Okay, my company has a luxury box at Kemper, and watching a concert with your own private crapper does.not.suck.)| Comments ()
August 23, 2005
The way to get things done when you need Microsoft support
I learned something today.
I learned that when you're having problems with a Microsoft product, you don't have to call support. You don't have to get a support contract. All those billions of dollars Microsoft spends on service and support infrastructures? Wasted. All those third party companies and consultants toiling to help you with any problems you have with Microsoft products? Useless. Yesterday's news. Through away all those email addresses and numbers. You don't need them.
All you need is Scoble. Robert Scoble, Microsoft blogger and cheerleader extrordinaire. You see, there's a young man, (I'm assuming) who was having problems with Virtual PC 7.0.2 on Mac OS X. He wasn't happy about it, so he blogged about it. Now, his post didn't have any real details, and it really seemed like more of a "god-damned Microsoft" kind of post. I've been in IT a loooooong time, that phrase, and others, are quite familiar to me.
So Scoble, upon realizing that there was a blogger unhappy with Microsoft, jumped into action, and personally talked to the VPC team at the Mac BU. Did some, (incorrect) name dropping along the way. It's Scoble, he does that. (the name dropping).
Some of the comments, including mine pointed out that instead of trying to direct connect Oleg to the dev team, he might have been better served in connecting him to the support team for VPC Mac, and letting Oleg and that team work together to find out if this is a known bug, (turns out it is), or perhaps a problem in his configuration.
Scoble's response, in its entirety:
Anyway, remember the Virtual PC for Macintosh problem that Oleg was having? Well, I got a nice note from a program manager on that team and passed it along to Oleg. Turns out the team is seeing some intermittent problems and is working with Apple on the fix and needs more information from Oleg. Some people jumped on me for doing that in the mudpit and said "send him to tech support." Sorry, I won't do that. When a customer is having pain you take care of the customer then and there. You worry about process later. I've sent one email in the past year to the Virtual PC/Macintosh team. This one, I sensed, was important to go directly to the team with.
Right, who here believes that the fact that Oleg was a customer with a problem was the sole reason for Scoble waving his mighty wand of influence to help him?
Anyone? Anyone? Watch out for the cricket, he's mean.
Right. Now, if you're familiar with Scoble, who here thought that the fact that Oleg was a blogger with a problem had everything to do with Scoble pulling strings like a crack-addled Geppetto? Yeah, it's a little larger crowd there...okay, Shawn, only raise one hand. Yeesh. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Oleg was able to get a good answer to his problem. Nothing sucks worse than a bug.
But what Scoble did wasn't just a favor. Read that one part again:
Some people jumped on me for doing that in the mudpit and said "send him to tech support." Sorry, I won't do that. When a customer is having pain you take care of the customer then and there. You worry about process later.
I bet everyone in Microsoft's support organization feels really proud right now. Proud to be though of as a "process" that is only to be avoided. Proud to be thought of, by one of their own as a barrier to customer support. Robert does that a lot by the way. Spout off first, apologize later. His infamous
It's better to be first than accurate statement not only got him pimp-slapped by other, bigger bloggers, but when he personally got nailed by that line of thought coming out of The Register, he was so hurt and shocked by it. The irony was indeed, delicious.
But it occurs to me...I'M a Microsoft Customer...just like Oleg. And many, if not all of everyone reading this are also Microsoft customers...just like Oleg. So, here's the deal. Let's play a game. It's called, "Show Robert the error of his ways yet again." I bet if all of you with support contracts were to cancel them in favor of using "The Scobelizer", well, he'd learn real fast that blind cheerleading and crusaderism without forethought is not always a good idea. His corporate masters finding out the Microsoft just lost a multimillion dollar support contract because he's a bit of a prat without a clue would accelerate this.
(No, I'm not daft. I know you can't REALLY do this, although if you can, it would be fun, and I'd love to be bcc'd on that email flurry.)
But, since he puts his cell number and his email right on his site, and he's obviously a better resource than all those dunsels in Microsoft support, I say, use him. Got a problem? Just Call Bob. Drop him an email too, after all, that's his job, making sure every Microsoft customer with a problem is personally hooked up with the product development team for their product...just like Oleg. Sitting in your server room about to go insane over a Windows issue? Don't waste time with support numbers. Just Call Bob.
That's the new MS support program. Just Call Bob.
If you can blog, even better. Just Blog Bob. (Note, JCB is more annoying, JBB makes him ping more. The reaction you want is up to you.)
So here's my MS issue. I want to know, in hard facts that I can bank on for the next year, what Microsoft is doing right NOW to make integration with other platforms easier. Not a list of third parties, but what Redmond's doing. If it's a Vista feature, I want details. Not from some poorly-done readme that may or may not cover a feature that will even make it to the final build, but from an actual human being. NDAs are no problem. I want to know when Active Directory will, out of the box, and without 2452345 layers of CALs, manage non-Windows platforms worth a crap. Not with some humpty-thousand dollar third party product. But Windows Server out of the box. I want to know when WiMP: Mac will be able to fully function with Windows Media 10. I want to know when we can expect to see Active Sync on non-Windows platforms. (no, Pocket PCs and Windows Mobile Phones don't count)
When will Microsoft's answer to non-Windows integration questions not be a variation of "Well, you can just use Windows".
I think every Microsoft customer out there should personally thank Scoble for his caring and dedication to ensuring that we, as customers, don't get abused by the uncaring drones in Microsoft Support. I know I'm sending out the email today to all I know, showing them the joys of this new wonderful Microsoft support resource, and I know both his cell provider, and his boss will appreciate his new, important duties.
And if, along the way, Robert learns that there are reasons for processes, well hey, I'm always in favor of learning, as we all should be. Happy Scobleing, you MS customers you!| Comments ()
August 9, 2005
Goodlink 4.0 and changing Exchange servers
So, like a lot of companies, mine uses Goodlink to allow our handhelds to talk to our Exchange Server without need Exchange 2003. It works really well, and the 100% Over-The-Air, (OTA) provisioning features rock. (Support for it: “Did you get the email from Goodlink? You did? Excellent. Do exactly what it says. No, that's all I'd do...sit in your office and do what the email says. That worked for you? Great.”
Recently, we migrated our Exchange server and changed its name, by a single character. Goodlink stops working. Good's solution?
A complete reinstall of the system on the server side, and all the phones needed to be hard-reset and get a new OTA install of the software.
That would be...painful.
So instead, we poked about and found another better way, detailed here so that it becomes another entry in the great Google database of IT fixes.
- Shutdown the Goodlink services
- search the registry for any occurences of the old Exchange server name
- Change them to the new name, (There were 3 or 4 entries, all in Goodlink branches of the registry.)
- Uninstall the Exchange 2000 System Manager and reinstall it from the Exchange CD, (I'm not sure if this step was necessary, but it worked for us. If you do this, reapply the appropriate Exchange service pack.)
- Perform the following procedure rom the Goodlink Quick Install Guide:
- In HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Exchange\ExAdmin add a new DWORD value and name it ShowSecurityPage
- Assign ShowSecurityPage a value of 1, and quit the Registry Editor
- Launch Exchange System Manager
- Right-click the Organization (Root) object and select Properties
- Choose the Security Tab
- Click the Add button, and add the GoodAdmin domain account
- Select the GoodAdmin domain account and grant the following permissions:
- Read Execute
- Read permissions
- List contents
- Read properties
- Read metabase properties
- Create named properties in the information store
- View information store status
- Administer information store
- Receive as
- Send as
August 7, 2005
A post from someone's mom, reprinted by request
A Mother's Reflections
The following is a very strong and moving letter written by the mother of a gay boy in Vermont...
"Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I've taken enough from you good people. I'm tired of your foolish rhetoric about the "homosexual agenda" and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.
My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay.
He never professed to be gay or had any association with anything gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called "fag" incessantly, starting when he was 6.
In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn't bear to continue living any longer, that he didn't want to be gay and that he couldn't face a life without dignity.
You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don't know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn't put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it's about time you started doing that.
At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join. The fact is that if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won't get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don't know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn.
If you want to tout your own morality, you'd best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part. It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it. For those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program, I'm puzzled. Are you saying that your own sexual orientation is nothing more than something you have chosen, that you could change it at will? If that's not the case, then why would you suggest that someone else can?
A popular theme in your letters is that Vermont has been infiltrated by outsiders. Both sides of my family have lived in Vermont for generations. I am heart and soul a Vermonter, so I'll thank you to stop saying that you are speaking for "true Vermonters."
You invoke the memory of the brave people who have fought on the battlefield for this great country, saying that they didn't give their lives so that the "homosexual agenda" could tear down the principles they died defending. My 83-year-old father fought in some of the most horrific battles of World War II, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.
He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all. That wasn't the measure of the man.
You religious folk just can't bear the thought that as my son emerges from the hell that was his childhood he might like to find a lifelong companion and have a measure of happiness. It offends your sensibilities that he should request the right to visit that companion in the hospital, to make medical decisions for him or to benefit from tax laws governing inheritance.
How dare he? you say. These outrageous requests would threaten the very existence of your family, would undermine the sanctity of marriage. You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin.
The deep-thinking author of a letter to the April 12 Valley News who lectures about homosexual sin and tells us about "those of us who have been blessed with the benefits of a religious upbringing" asks: "What ever happened to the idea of striving . . . to be better human beings than we are?"
Indeed, sir, what ever happened to that? "
Indeed, how does demonizing a group of people to the extent the Republican party has homosexuals lift us in any way? How does anyone claim to be Christian and encourage mindless hate and fear?
I wish I knew.| Comments ()