changing the default escape in the hyper-v console

(I am putting this here mainly so I can find it again.)

In order to change the default escape key combination in the hyper-v console, instructions are here.

Basically: “You can change the release key combination (CTRL + ALT + LEFT ARROW) by going to the Hyper-V Manager and selecting Hyper-V Server Settings… and then Release Key and selecting one of the options from the drop down (I usually change my release key combination to be CTRL + ALT + SHIFT as I find it easier to type).”

w7 plus the touch mouse pad

I use Dell laptops and always disable the touchpad because it doesn’t do anything but get in the way and sent my pointer 2 paragraphs up without my knowledge or consent. There is no built in way to do this, so I had to use the Synaptec drivers for vista to load the utility so I could disable it. (Yes, the vista versions load just fine.)

vista sound for htpc

I have spent quite a bit of time on my vista media center’s audio setup. (Too much time really.) One of the things I am doing that most folks do not is that I am processing the audio inside the computer and outputting the analog channels to amplifiers directly. For me this setup works great.. I don’t have a fancy receiver that’ll do the processing that I want all in one place, so what I did was buy several older receivers that do not support DD or any of the latest stuff (because they are very inexpensive now). So there’s one running the mains, another running the two center speakers, one for the rears, and of course I have my sub amp already. Long term my goal is to replace these older receivers with some nice amplifiers.

Anyway, there are a few gotchas that I have learned while doing this, and I will attempt to list (some of!) them here.

  • “Select Full Range Speakers” during Vista speaker setup

This one seems easy.. i have full range speakers in front and rear, so that seems like the thing to check.. unfortunately, this is not the case. If you read this blog entry carefully, you can see that what happens when you check this box is “In other systems, people who prefer full-range loudspeakers in some or all positions may not have—or want—a subwoofer. In such cases, material intended for the subwoofer in home theater systems may need to be mapped back into the main channels so that it is not lost. Such a scheme of bass management is referred to as "Reverse Bass Management", as shown in the following illustration.”.

If you read that carefully, you can see that selecting “full range” speakers sends the bass intended for the sub out to the speakers you check. In a home theater setup with a sub, this is not good.

  • If you have 64 bit vista installed, you will need 64 bit codecs. This one also seems rather obvious after you know it, but it can trip you up if you aren’t looking for it.
  • The best way to get the codecs that you need and will work is to use the  Vista codec pack by shark007. Of course, don’t forget that if you are running x64 to download the x64 components.
  • Understand that audio filters, presets, environmental effects, etc, can be stacked , meaning that if you enable, say “expand stereo” in the card’s driver settings, you don’t want to enable it in ffdshow, or it will try and do this twice. This is bad! Another one that will cause issues is the “bass management” setting. The best thing I have found to do is go to control panelsoundspeakers and check “disable enhancements”.
  • I have also had issues with “enhancements” being enabled, but none of them being used, and this can cause crackling and popping in the sound. As I said above, just disable them, save yourself the trouble.
  • If you have a motherboard with the “nvidia nforce 4” chipset (like my Asus A8NSLI Deluxe), you do not want a creative  soundblaster xfi card. There are known issues and it may or may not work, and you won’t know until you have problems.
  • I constantly have problems with the “creative audio control panel”, and if you download the drivers from creative, you can’t get ones without it. So what I have found is that if you get the driver, download, install, etc, then you can uninstall the control panel stuff, and that will leave the latest and greatest audio driver without all of the other crap they like to “give” you.

OK, that’s it for now.

hyper-v networking

(I hope to start making more of these type posts of weirdness I find, but this is a first.)

We were having what I thought were network issues at work, so I started a pingplotter on my XP vm on my hyper-v server at home. Based on the graphs below, things look pretty latent.

7.21.09.focalpoint.omnilink.com

If you run the same thing on a physical machine on the same network, the graphs look much better, and you can see that the network is not the problem.

7.22.09.focalpoint.omnilink.com

The takeaway here I guess is to be careful with this sortof thing. Right now I’m not sure if it is a hyper-v specific thing or if it’s just a vm in general.

Google: time to listen up

At my workplace, we have a number of Google search appliances. There are a number of issues and errors with Google’s design and marketing of their search appliances, which I will outline below.

Price

These devices are very expensive, and in most cases, they are so expensive (too much so) that we have only one, and thus no redundancy. This is a problem! I don’t remember, and can’t quote exact numbers, but when we first started buying these, it was  near $30k each , and that was for a non redundant server that would crawl 1 (yes, a single) site. I will admit that I believe the prices are cheaper now.

Support

Google’s support model doesn’t include the ability to call Google. All that you can do is go to the website and post a tech support incident and wait for a call-back.  Not being able to get someone on the phone immediately is a problem! This is the enterprise, this is a fortune 300 company, we don’t desire to wait some unknown amount of time for someone to call us back, it simply is not acceptable.

In addition to this, most of the time, all Google wants to do is SSH into the box, which requires 1 of 2 things.

1: An SSH connection from the outside world in.

Since these devices are internal only, they are unavailable to the outside world, and because of PCI Visa compliance, it is an act of God to get a firewall rule put into place to allow something like this, and as much of a problem to have it removed afterwards. When you are under fire and need to get support, having to fill out the necessary paperwork to get a firewall rule in place just isn’t acceptable, it takes too long.

2:  A modem and phone line.

 Modems are a little easier, but it is difficult to keep a modem somewhere, keep a phone line somewhere (but not attached) and then to have to go and manually connect one to to one of many pieces of hardware that could be anywhere in the 100,000 sq/foot datacenter. Well, this just sucks. It is difficult to do.

And lastly, everytime you have an issue that can’t be fixed over the phone (due to the hardware issues I mention below, this is often), then Google has to ship you a new, unconfigured device. That’s right, you are down, and have to wait on one of these devices to be packaged up, shipped, and received. Then you have to go through tons of red tape (thank you PCI compliance) to get the device into the datacenter and get the old one out. Once you have completed all of this mess, you get to start over and reconfigure the device from scratch! And of course, let’s not forget that after that, it has to crawl all of the content again, which can take from several hours to a day. The net/net is that if you have a hardware problem, you have an outage that lasts several days, again, this is not acceptable in the enterprise.

Hardware

When we first started buying these appliances several years ago, they were tiny 1U boxes with zero redundancy built into them. Due to the expensive price, it was cost prohibitive to use redundant appliances. So we are buying these very expensive appliances, and of course, they would fail occasionally. (I will get to what happens in a failure situation in the support section.)

After some time, Google saw the error if its ways, and started using redundant Dell hardware (they don’t tell you this, but aside from being YELLOW (lame), they look just like the other Dell hardware that we have a datacenter full of.  This was indeed a step in the right direction, but not far enough. Since they don’t admit that they are Dell hardware, when something fails, you can’t call Dell yourself or have them call Dell and just schedule the hardware replacement, you have to.. guess what? Get a device shipped to you! See above for how long this process takes.

Additionally, there were certain devices used which have known problems, and we had a 100% failure rate. What this means is that every single device of this type failed. Was Google proactive? Did they ship us a replacement device ahead of time? No! They waited on each one to fail, and we had the several day outage for each one. This is not acceptable in the enterprise.

Conclusion

The problem here is that google isn’t trying to apply it’s model in appropriately. They are making the mistake of banking off their name only, and not following up with the service and support to go along with the amount of money that the devices cost, and the expectation of the large customers that are buying their products. This is a common mistake, and has been the demise of many products and services over time. Google: WAKE UP. Listen to your customers, service and support what you sell, and stop trying to bank off your name only. This will not last.

My recommendation is to avoid purchasing any Google search appliances until they learn to listen to customers and respond appropriately.