23rd of August 2002
Well the last few days has not been good for my computer systems.
This started when No2 wished to reinstall the operating system on the server, which was due to a driver problem. What this problem was exactly was that when a new device was first installed on this machine it worked fine, but when the server was later reset, then there were problems accessing the device in question.
The other problems involved here were that the reformatting the main partition caused a few applications to be deleted, the new network configuration had to be sorted out on many computers, then all workstations on this sever were reset with new users. This last one was not too bad when you can just paste in the old desktop, but CuteFTP does lose all the connection details in the process.
My own computer had problems following this update, when I noticed that the computer was crashing often. And a day later I took a good look at it and noticed that the CPU fan was not working.
Well that explained the reset problem, when 90+ degrees C is not helpful, but pushing the fan around only caused it to move slowly. So soon enough I got out a light in order to better see what was going on, where that was when I noticed that the fan on the north bridge was not working either.
Since that one desired not to move at all on its own, then along with the slow or sometimes no moving CPU fan, then it was time to get my computer out and take a look.
After playing with it for a long time, then the CPU fan continued to move slowly and the north bridge fan not at all. However, I did get the CPU fan working at the correct speed when I disconnected it from the CPU fan power connection and plugged it into the system fan power connection instead.
The following problem was that after returning my computer to where it should be, then it would not boot up and instead reported a disk read error. After lots of testing and more computer crashing, then I booted from the Win XP CD and went into the repair mode.
Since CHKDSK totally failed to fix the C drive, which makes a first, then this showed that something was badly wrong. Still since the other partitions on this hard disk was fine, then only the C partition had got nuked.
I suspect that the overheating of the north bridge had caused this fault. However, I did find that Win XP lacks any other useful disk utility in this DOS mode, such as FDISK and SCANDISK, where having all the disk utilities under Win XP is no help when you cannot boot to Win XP.
Later on was even more worrying, when now the BIOS was reporting that this hard disk could not be found, even if the second drive on that cable could. Thinking that I will soon have to spend out on a new hard disk, and maybe even a new motherboard, then I decided to call it a day and went to bed.
The next morning seemed a much better day, when the first test showed that my hard disk was now working again. And after checking the CPU fan was still working fine, but the north bridge fan was not working at all, even when I pushed it.
Well having decided that the C partition was hosed, then it was a job of reinstalling the operating system. Easier said than done, when the computer had a habit of crashing after several minutes of use.
Indeed when it came to reformatting that problem partition, then it reached 15% and got not further. I decided to leave it an hour, when the still operating caps lock key gave a clue that it had not crashed yet, but after that hour was up a computer reset during this process highlighted that all had not gone as planned.
Reinstalling the operating a system a second time soon lead to the reformatting stage, where again it got to 15% and did not move. There I began to suspect that my hard disk had suffered a hardware fault, even if a later checked showed no sign of bad sectors.
Thinking that the non-working north bridge fan was causing problems, then so did I decided to give it another spin. Oddly enough this time it was off like a flash and moving faster than ever seen before in the recent past. Also it was odd that my CPU temperature had now dropped to about 72 degrees C, which is certainly low for one of my CPUs, when they are often over heating.
Two fans working was now a positive sign, where returning later showed that the format was complete and the operating system wanted to be installed.
During all this time I had my brand new No3 worker to sort out, when suffering a 7 month delay updating my accounts soon highlighted that it was impossible for me to ever do this myself. Since my cousin was looking for some local work, then that is why I now have a No3 to add to my employee collection. Where right at this moment she is already well on the way through the October orders.
Well I expect I will charge FACT the cost of getting these accounts up-to-date, when estimates show that doing this very slowly myself would take another 7 months or no doubt even longer. And since C&E had just sent me VAT estimate for a crazy and high figure, then it highlighted the need to get these accounts sorted out ASAP.
The only problem here was figuring out what computer No3 could use to do this accounts task, when my own computer was broken, using the server is undesirable, No2's computer could not be used, and I would prefer to use my backup laptop computer myself.
I decided in the end to let her use my most expensive 2 Ghz laptop computer, which is why I got everything ready before she arrived this morning.
Only problem was that No2 had the idea to let her use his laptop instead, where all it needed was to connect his laptop computer to my laptop computer using the 100 base-T ethernet connection.
That worked well enough, but bridging the 100 base-T and 11 mbps wireless connections in order to allow this second laptop to access the server through my laptop proved a whole lot more difficult.
Since No2 looks after my network, then off he went to do that while I sorted out the required files. Unfortunately he broke my own laptop's connection to the server just before he left to do his second job.
That was at all not helpful, when now I had no real computer for No3 to use when she turned up. And so it was up to me to fix this problem, which proved to be difficult when No2 set up the network and I did not know half his settings.
Well the problem with the laptop was that all the services for that network connection had been turned off during this bridge event, where switching them back on soon had the TCP/IP and therefore Internet connection working again. Only problem was that the Microsoft Network service refused to be switched on, when if I switched it on and selected Ok to confirm this, then it only switches them back off again.
Deleting this service and putting it back on did not fix this problem and neither did reinstalling the wireless drivers, where after a couple of hours of trying to get it working, then so did I decide to use the power of the Internet. And sure enough other people have been seeing this same problem with wireless connections, where my later testing shows that they simply cannot be bridged, but how exactly these people fixed this problem was still unclear.
Well I decided to follow the best advice available, which was to delete all the available network connections. And sure enough after restarting the computer and Win XP had put all the devices back on, then the Microsoft Network service was now working again for my wireless link.
What had happened here was that the network system had become flawed, where turning off all the network connections caused the entire network functions to be deleted and then refreshed when the computer started back up again.
It took a while to restore all the correct network information, where fortunately I had noted down all the TCP/IP information before I had started. I had to get the wireless link working again with the correct settings as well, but after that was done it was working fine once again.
I did try bridging these two connections again just to be sure, where soon enough the wireless link was broken once again, which meant that I had to delete all the network connections a second time.
And so that put the second much cheaper laptop out of the picture, which is why No3 has been using my expensive laptop today. Since I now had no computer of my own, even if I do own the server, then I spent a lot of time today getting my own computer working once again.
Since you can read this, then so I did, when since both fans were working again, then it went just fine. Still I did have a large problem restoring the network connection, when unlike with the laptop I had no idea what this computer's settings were, where a couple of guesses did not help. And so I had to search from one side of the server to the other trying to find out what my allocated IP address was, where this took up another couple of hours. In the end I found it by searching through the help file, which means that I still have no idea where this user control is located in the menus.
Well trying to learn a lot about what No2 has been looking after in such a shot time was most difficult, but since I had the IP address, then so could I figure out the subnet mask, gateway address, DNS address and WINS address.
Since the network was now restored, even if No2 will later have to set it up to log-in to the domain on startup, then I only had a lot of programs to reinstall.
Fortunately all the important information was stored encrypted on the second drive, which means that all I did lose was the O/S, a few interesting pictures and whatever I had stored on my desktop at the time. Only a few things that I did not wish to lose, but then losing one of the other drives would have been a lot worse.
And so things are mostly back to normal, but there are some changes happening that I should explain.
No3 will be updating the accounts for the next few weeks, where she will then take over handing the e-mail from No2. Naturally this will require a lot of my guidance, but this will get my system back in fully working order.
This is because due to No2's second job, then he now has much less time to do mine. Since he was supposed to answer e-mail quickly, then that is currently not happening if he only answers e-mail in the evening, but I have also been noticing unacceptable delays in his replies.
And so since No2 no longer has time to do my work, then it is best to eventually allow No3 to take over this work. Well since No3 wishes full time work and No2 wishes less work, then things will eventually work out fine for everyone.
So No2 will stumble on with the e-mail for a few more weeks, where I will try to make sure that he always answers them within a couple of days, but after that then No3 will take over and will be doing a lot more work than No2 did. Since that will take on a lot of the work that I usually do, then that is most pleasing, when then I will have time to do other things, like my own e-mail and the Usenet.
Well the story is that the communication aspect has been working a bit badly recently, where due to these recently changes it should now be a lot better. And when No3 has processed many thousands of order forms, then my business will be back in fully working order. The first time I have been able to say that since early November, when that raid early that month caused large damage to my business.
It will even be good to see some address labels again, when only when my accounts are up-to-date can new orders be fed into it. I would have to do a stock take and get my accounts to match my stock level, not to mention a check of my accounts to see that it is all that it should be, but at least the end is now in sight.
That end of course will be when I take legal action against FACT to reclaim the damages that they caused, when my accounts naturally need to be up-to-date in order to find out how much they owe me.
12th of August 2002
In order to comply with my promise to one supplier last month that this month my price on this Magic Module CAM would match that of the rival supplier with the lowest price, then so has my price of this CAM now dropped by £18 to my new low price of just £94. Also in order to complete this price match promise, then so has my price on the additional Programming Interface dropped by £3 as well.
Although these prices are unmatched within the UK, then both of these items together does now match the lowest rival supplier's price of £109 for both. And so provided that I do not find an even lower price within the UK, then my promise to this supplier last month is now once again complete.
However, I did delay this price matching for several days, when it was also the intention of this supplier last month that suppliers should be able to make a fair amount of profit from these CAM sales. And so I did contact this supplier pointing out that one other (crazy) supplier's price was ruining his whole plan, when last month this supplier said that he would contact this second supplier pointing out the sound idea of profit.
Since that logic matter has not been resolved within the last few days, then that explains my sudden price change. Either this first supplier no longer cares about profit, which would be odd considering his strong thoughts on this subject last month, or this second supplier has no intention of playing ball and increasing his price.
I certainly did not believe that it would get this low this fast, but due to this price match promise and this one odd supplier, then a promise is a promise after all.
No doubt the situation over the next few days will get interesting, when once again I have the lowest end price in the UK and for most of Europe as well.
One other thing that has been going on recently is that I have been having problems with Blueyonder, who is my broadband Internet Service Provider.
This began when I upgraded my normal 512 kbps connection to the new faster 1 mbps (1024 kbps) connection, when all I pay is £10 more a month. That means that my normal £29.99 monthly charge goes up to the new price of £39.99, which results in a 100% increase in my bandwidth for 33% more cost.
Everything went fine until I got in the first bill for this new 1 mbps service, when I was surprised to see that they now wanted to change me £69.98 for the one month connection. Their error was of course to now charge me for both the 512 kbps and 1 mbps services at the same time, even if I had certainly swapped between the 512 kbps and 1 mbps service.
I thought that instead of pointing this out to them, then I would leave it to see if they notice. The answer to that is "no", when on Saturday I received one of their pay within the next 7 days or we will terminate your service letters.
Even that was highly unusual, when normally always before this letter I would receive the following month's bill, where this would show the non-payment of the previous month.
Now on Saturday I phoned them up and finally pointed out the error on this bill, where soon enough they corrected this amount, meaning that tomorrow I will be paying the correct £39.99 monthly charge.
That I thought would be the end of the matter, but on Sunday morning I saw that my Internet connection had gone down. Just a temporary service fault I thought, which would soon be corrected, but as of this Monday morning it was still down.
After checking their service status page, then no fault in my area was displayed, which meant that it was time to phone them again.
Now after getting through to their fault reporting department, then the problem was soon located. When apparently my account had been marked "Inactive", which basically meant that they had switched it off.
The fault reporting department said that I would have to phone the billing department, when only they could switch it back on again. And this technical person said that it must be due to not paying the bill within the 50 allowed days, which was strange when it was only 33 days since the bill was issued. In fact even this 7 days to pay letter still gives me until Friday, but of course they allow extra days beyond this to allow for receipt.
And so I phoned the billing department and explained all that had occurred for the third time, which soon had it sorted out. Or more correctly I was put on hold for like ten minutes while he sorted out this mess and switched my connection back on.
He did say that their was a fault in my area, but I do not believe that to be correct. After all their status page said nothing and sure enough my connection came back on-line as soon as I next checked on it.
This whole incident makes me believe that Blueyonder are up to something, when after all this is a company with huge debts.
So maybe it is that this double billing after this switch over was done on purpose, when I am sure there would be many people who do not understand that this charge was for exactly the same period.
Further signs for this reason is that this very obvious error was never spotted by them, where also in my whole history with them the following bill was never not received. And that to me indicates a cover up, when the second bill would have provided further information showing that this first bill was invalid.
I have no idea what this following disconnection event could be about, but it is obvious that pointing out this error to them caused it.
And so I can only conclude that maybe Blueyonder is using doubtful means in order to obtain extra funding, which is why I would be most interested to know if any other Blueyonder customer has seen similar signs switching to this 1 mbps service. After all if they had wanted extra funding, then the official and correct way would be to increase the monthly charge.
For some reason I feel that this matter is not over yet. And I guess that I will soon have to be pester them for Invoices, when after all these are needed for tax purposes, where the first bill is invalid and the second bill is just not here.
I would find it hard to believe that the 512 kbps to 1 mbps switch is so full of problems, but then this is Blueyonder and they have huge debts. Still as long as my Internet connection does not go down, then things are not yet that bad.
9th of August 2002
Well my cardman.com site came back on-line yesterday, when it was taken down without any warning for some reason that I am still not fully sure of.
The problem in the end was not due to bandwidth, as I had wrongly assumed, when it seems that my hosting provider took down my site due to a "spike". Where all I know about this was that it reached level 40, when the normal level is one.
I have yet to find out what exactly that level 40 spike involved, including the exact time that it happened, but my hosting provider was so concerned about this high resource use that they took down the site.
Fair enough, as long as they put it back up again once this event had passed, but that of course never happened.
Instead the first I heard about it was from their e-mail containing the quote "We can only offer two solutions at this time, upgrade to a dedicated server starting around $200 per month or move to a different provider". Since my site certainly does not need a dedicated server, then by their statement they was saying to move my site to another provider.
Naturally, the first thing I mentioned was that if we followed that route, then they would soon be owing me a refund for my already paid yearly hosting fee. However, since they never clearly said what happened, then so did I want answers.
Also I should mention at this point that this first e-mail blamed me for this then unknown "spike", even if I am sure that I was asleep at the time.
Well after I got them to actually look into this problem to see what happened, when it seemed that they only saw the spike and not what caused it, then the cause of this spike appears to be due to one of the NTL servers in the UK. No doubt a broadband connection, used by their DSL customers, but I am looking into asking NTL what happened.
Anyway, after pointing out that I am actually not responsible for all that happens on the Internet, then they agreed to put my site back on line as long as this problem NTL server was IP blocked. Naturally I agreed, but that also means that some NTL customers may not be able to currently access my cardman.com site at this time.
The best information I got was due to heavy resource usage of the buttons for my pages and the flags on my Welcome page. Kind of usual to have a spike involving these, but then neither was that clearly established.
And so my cardman.com site is now working again, where I would not expect any further problems from this.
The other good news is that after waiting about three months now, then my second type of new Scart leads have finally arrived. I did receive the first SPLOCK ones some time ago, but I decided not to put those ones on-line until the SLOCK ones turned up. After all I would have had to write the two sections the wrong way around and then swap over the text and modify it once the SLOCK ones turned up.
Well on the very bottom of my Cables (Audio/Video) page you can now read all about my new SLOCK and SPLOCK cables, where I would recommend doing so. After all since I greatly desired this new scart design when I first heard of it, then it could well be that you do as well.
5th of August 2002
Today happened to be one of those days, when some very good things was offset by some very bad things.
Starting with the bad news first, then late today my cardman.com site got suspended by this hosting provider. Where what with no advanced warning, then I am not sure what exactly happened. Well as I have a 10 Gb monthly bandwidth limit on this site, where the site only takes up like 15 Mb (out of 300 Mb), then as the average site visitor would only use 1 to 2 Mb of this bandwidth, then I cannot see how this occurred.
What I mean is that combined with my cardman.co.uk site, then I would have to have about 30,000 visitors a month. And I just do not see that this is in the realm of possible, even if my cardman.co.uk site was down for a long time a while ago.
And so this is a problem that I will have sorted out in a few days time, where these logs should provide the answer to what exactly happened. Still, until that problem is fixed then this site will be unavailable.
The other bad news is that price changes and competition could well result in less profit, but this is offset by the good news that since I have found better purchase prices myself, then so will things work out about the same in the end.
Counting up the good and bad points means that today was not a good day, but maybe it was was really a good day, when sometimes it requires a step back in order to take two steps forwards. And so maybe if my bandwidth has really got that extreme, which I happen to doubt, then maybe it is time for a third or even fourth site.
Lower prices are always welcome, where my new knowledge means that no rival could ever beat my prices in the future.
And so even if things have kind of burst into flames today, then I can only stand in this burning building and smile. After all in a few days time when this "fire" is put out, then I will be back better than ever.
If the unlikely has happened and my visitors has broke this site, then maybe it reserves a "Crashed and Burned" site award or something. So now my cardman.co.uk site will get a bandwidth battering, which will make up for its long break.
Please do not break this site as well within the next couple of days.
1st of August 2002
Since it is now the month of August, then my July special offer is no more, when my August special offer is now here.
Also as I promised one strongly insisting rival supplier last month, who was quite upset over my July special offer, then my price on this Magic Module CI CAM this month has been set to match the lowest rival supplier price in the UK. And since I provide low cost postage options, then I am sure that I still have the lowest end price in the UK and no doubt further.
Now although I have checked with many suppliers; it is possible that somewhere out there, currently unknown to me, is one supplier with a lower price. And so as I fully intend to match the lowest price in the UK on these items, then so could my price drop slightly with zero advanced notice.
Since it is still early days into August being about 02:30 here, then it is also possible that my price could increase further, when these other suppliers could yet have to decide on their August prices.
Well if it goes up or down, then you can have it at the price at the time of when you send your order to me, which will avoid countless price corrections.
I did wish to still have the lowest price in the UK by a noticeable margin this month, which would further complete my CAM implementation, but as being too competitive last month upset enough rival suppliers, then this month I decided to follow along and avoid a price war.
However, since I do certainly intend to have the lowest matching item prices in the UK, then I will certainly be keeping an eye on all other UK suppliers. And that will mean if you want this CAM, and no doubt other types soon, then here is the best place to get them.
Well I hope that you like my August special offer as much as you liked my July one.