Admiring the Vista

I’m taking a couple of weeks off from the Saturday posts. Specifically, there wasn’t one yesterday because I was prodding around inside my old Dell PowerEdge SC1430 server and trying to get the RAM cooling fan working without any ear-piercing squeals. Dell used a proprietary 5 pin connector on this fan and the cheapest I found online was £25, which feels more than a little excessive and nobody around that price range had it in stock anyway. So I instead took matters into my own hands, which involved removing a wire guard, peeling the sticker off the hub and squirting generous quantities of lithium grease into the little hole. The machine has been running for nearly a day since said bodge was applied and appears happy, so apparently that’s a job well done and the next task is tidying some loose ends and cleaning some crap out of the other fans.

Whilst delving around in one of the local charity shops a few days ago I stumbled across… a boxed, beta release of Windows Vista! The case proclaims it to be part of the Customer Preview Program and it shipped with two DVDs for 32- and 64-bit installs. When booted there’s a watermark on the desktop saying it’s an evaluation copy of Windows Vista Beta 2, gives the build number 5384 and plays Windows XP sounds for events, all of which I know because… well, I installed the 32-bit version on a spare laptop for gits and shiggles.

Unsurprisingly so for something that’s both a beta and Vista it’s very flaky, but some of the problems were fairly extreme for something released to the public; closing the lid suspended the machine which was fair enough but it got stuck making a sound when resuming that only stopped when another played and, after one routine reboot, the login screen completely forgot how to keyboard. I didn’t install any drivers for the wireless network hardware but it couldn’t see the LAN either, so my “plan” to download Chrome and write this post on the Vista install itself fell by the wayside… oh, and it’s a timed beta that I got installed by setting the system clock to late 2006 because the manual said it’d expire at the start of June 2007.

Being curious and resetting the clock back to 2019 whilst writing this post got me a window on boot saying that “your activation period has expired and Windows is no longer working” that didn’t go away when the clock was pushed back again; that’s understandable sure, but it also seems to have completely broken the install since that screen wants to get online to validate any option I select and can’t due to a distinct lack of LAN connection. Instead it just sits there for a few minutes, throws up an “authentication failed” dialog, then rinses and repeats whilst trying to shut down gets it stuck on the “logging off” screen. Oops…

Far too easily distracted

I’ve been a little more “out there” than usual recently, so there haven’t been many posts and the short version of what happened is, basically, that things just got on top of me. It doesn’t help that there’s been something literally getting on my nerves for the last week either; the fan bearings in my web server’s PSU appear to be close to completely shot so it’s making one hell of a racket, something that isn’t particularly conducive to writing, coding or indeed trying to think! I don’t want to just shut down and swap parts in case something goes south in the process, so I’m in the process of putting together a “stunt server” that’ll step in and keep things ticking until something more permanent is sorted.

Things should start returning to “normal” this coming weekend, assuming I don’t get even more caught up in either Carmen Sandiego or High Score Girl – I suspect it’s just me who gets excited seeing footage of Viper Phase 1 in the latter’s opening titles – on Netflix than I have been the last couple of days.

Assorted outages

Regular visitors – all five of them since it’s apparently gone up – may have noticed that the server this website lives on has been having what I’ll charitably call a few “stability issues” of late… in fact it’s been less strong and stable than the current Tory government and that’s really saying something right now. Part of the problem has been metric bucketloads of automated brute force attacks on the admin account for at least one of my WordPress installs, hitting the login page so rapidly that Apache basically eats all of its available resources and crashes out. Since this hammering started the server had its RAM upgraded, configurations were tweaked, the login pages at least partially concealed, lots of passwords changed and Cloudflare set up to hopefully smooth out at least some of the incoming crap.

The attacks are still ongoing right now although less frequent than before, but the prolonged game of Whack A Mole with my anonymous nemesis – overselling things somewhat perhaps – means that the other outage today is, well me. I’ve not really had a decent night’s sleep for three days and forgot to eat at least once, so I’m taking this weekend off in part because I haven’t been playing any games but mostly because I need some rest. There are a couple of pluses at least; I’ve been putting off upgrading the server for ages because I loathe modifying hardware when it’s “working” so that’s done and, because the machine itself is sat in our front room, I’ve watched quite a bit of classic Doctor Who whilst on babysitting duties.

In other news, I seem to be cycling over to “demo mode” at the moment although there’s a good chance that’s just sleep deprivation or a lack of caffeine talking – more news on that one either way as it happens, as they say.