On Being Efficient or Effective

"What's the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don't know and I don't care."

Is it better to be efficient or effective?

Let's start with some definitions (from Webster's):

1 : being or involving the immediate agent in producing an effect
2 : productive of desired effects; especially : productive without waste

1 a : producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect
1 b : impressive, striking
2 : ready for service or action
3 : actual
4 : being in effect : operative
5 : of a rate of interest equal to the rate of simple interest that yields the same amount when the interest is paid once at the end of the interest period as a quoted rate of interest does when calculated at compound interest over the same period

Update 2: Zimbra Web Client Doesn't Download Compressed Javascript

The FINAL, FINAL, FINAL solution. (No, we didn't switch to Exchange.)

I have several other articles on this site talking about Zimbra not working at a client's home network, but working fine at the office and other locations.

The problem was that the compressed javascript files would not download and the Advanced Web Client would not work. It stalled during download and hitting refresh multiple times MIGHT get it to almost work (the code for handling folders would almost never load). If we took the computer into the office, it worked fine. If we took it home, it worked fine. If we cleared the cache, we were back to having the problem.

Sometimes Firefox would work, but IE almost never would...

Outlook 2007 Distribution Lists Won't Work

I had a client report a problem using Outlook 2007 when trying to send email to a group list. The error was "An unexpected error has occurred" (what, as opposed to an expected error?) when email was sent and Outlook wouldn't expand the list when the + was clicked in the "To:" box.

The problem turned out to be pretty simple...

Reconciling "Make Mistakes!" with "Appropriate Level of Terror"

cognitive dissonance: psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.

If you've read my other segments "Make your mistakes faster" and "Have the Appropriate Level of Terror", you might be wondering how I could logically hold these two opposing views at the same time. Am I just suffering from cognitive dissonance or do I have a legitimate point?

The answer is pretty simple, if you dig into the meat of my arguments and look at the timing of each...

Have the Appropriate Level of Terror (ALOT)

"Put it up to eleven."
--This is Spinal Tap

If you want to be successful in IT, one of the most important attributes you can maintain is to have the Appropriate Level of Terror (the acronym is ALOT).

What I mean is that there are many things you will do in IT, such as software projects, server hardware upgrades, or management presentations, that demand you feel a high degree of terror.

How can terror be good? Well, it injects your body full of handy hormones and neurotransmitters like adrenaline that will heighten your senses, improve your reactions, and even help you see things you might not otherwise see. Terror will cause you to double and triple check your work. Terror will help you come up with alternative and fall back plans. Terror keeps you focused.

Terror in some people can cause them to freeze or stiffen. Don't be one of those "fainting goats" that topple over at the slightest sound--that's not what I'm talking about...

Dell Won't Boot

Strange Dell-ness!

I had worked on a client's Dell Vostro tower computer and everything was fine when I dropped it off. Later, when he tried to hook it back up and getting running, all it would do is power up, turn the fan on and off, power down, and repeat.

The thing that cleared everything was to unplug everything (sometimes a system will to boot from a camera drive or the SD card on a printer, so try unplugging those, first) including the power cord. Then press and hold the power button for a full 60 seconds.

Hook up the power cord and power the system up (don't hook up anything else!). Once you see the hard drive light flashing and it appears to be booting up, go ahead and hook up the monitor cable. If that looks good, go ahead and hook everything else and you should be fine.

Weird. This tip was provided to me by Dell tech support awhile ago, but I didn't document it. Since this is the second time it's happened, I thought I better put the tip where I could find it.

Zimbra Upgrade Complains About Hosts File

When upgrading Zimbra, one of the first things it does is check your hosts file for two entries. It needs a valid localhost entry (the mysql setup is sensitive about this) and it needs a valid host FQDN entry for the server itself.

It wants to see something like this:   mail.xxxxxxxxxxx.com mail      localhost.localdomain localhost

The upgrade script kept complaining that my hosts file was incorrect, but those two entries where there and they looked fine.

Here's the error (sic):

 ERROR: Installation can not proceeed.
  Please fix your /etc/hosts file


Nasty Malware

A client of mine was hit with a nasty bit of malware. This was either part of, or became evident from, getting hit by the "Antivirus 2010" scamware.

The reason we aren't sure is because it was only after the infection and everything looked clean that a fake "authentication security measure" form showed up whilst logging into ebay. After logging in, the user was prompted with a form asking for a lot of personal information and containing things like...

Windows Server 2008 Shutdown with a 0x500ff Reason Code

I had a client that had a new Windows Server 2008 R2 server shutdown spontaneously.

In reviewing the logs, I saw where the system went into shutdown, but I couldn't tell why. All I had to go on was a 0x500ff reason code.

Resources I found to help diagnosis this issue included:

Systems Shutting Down with 0x500ff:

Shutdown codes:

None of these were really helpful, though, because the problem was kind of my fault. You see, we had installed the server, but it wasn't in its final secured location. It was sitting in an empty office. An empty unlocked office.

When some kids came in to the facility to hang out and wanted to use a computer, they tried a few times to log in, couldn't, and powered the server down, since it wasn't "working".

Oops. Looks like I have to get the server physically secured sooner, rather than later.

Annoying Virtual CD Showing Up When Connecting a Western Digital My Passport/My Book External Drive?

If you've purchased an external drive lately, Western Digital has been "helpful" by taking up .5 gb of space on your drive with their software. I really dislike the software as it just doesn't back things up the way I want to do it. I have Carbonite for offline backup, I just want to be able to image my system so that I can, theoretically anyway, recover more quickly if I have a hard drive failure.

I don't want a snail's paced backup of the files WD thinks I want. I want an IMAGE!

So, I wanted to get rid of the fake CD that keeps showing up and using up one of my drive letters...

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