Tuesday Tech Troubles and Triumphs

Tim at The Inflatable Soapbox blind sided me this with this post and tag on Tuesday night.

I wasn’t able to reply on Tuesday as I was replacing a failing hard disc and reinstalling Windows XP on a laptop for a colleague at work. I’d forgotten how long it takes from plain XP, through Service Pack 2 and then downloading and installing the remaining 91 security patches. Still, after all that I was able to install Avast as a free Anti-Virus program and Open Office as a free office suite (much better than MS Works that was previously on the system).

On Wednesday at work, I got called to look at a printer with a paper jam. Usually a simple fix, in the worse case maybe a pair of tweezers to remove the last bit of torn paper. The printer was an old, but very serviceable LaserJet 4000, not very heavy use, so plenty of life left in it. Of course, no maintenance on it, its not worth it for a printer that’s getting on for 9-10 years, so if I didn’t fix it, we would replace it…it would be cheaper than getting it fixed. After 10 minutes at the printer location pulling scraps of paper out of it, I took it back to my desk. I ended up unscrewing just about every bit that would come off, before I could finally get the tweezers to the last bits of crinkled paper and pull it out. All in all, I removed a piece of paper about the size of my hand, but it was finally working again. Just time to get it back on the shop-floor and get the toner off my hands before going home.

One of my memorable tech troubles was a few years ago, I can’t remember if it was on a Tuesday or not. We were upgrading our local SMS server (used for software and patch distribution) from Windows Server 2000 to Windows Server 2003. On the face of it all the hardware was supported, so there shouldn’t be any issues. Any applicable updates had been deployed successfully to the client PCs in the morning, so the afternoon was an acceptable timeframe for the upgrade. The upgrade was run and completed successfully. Big sigh of relief when the logon screen came up. However, the network card didn’t detect on logon, so the server was shut down and restarted. Watching the message that no RAID array was found was not what I wanted to see. For those non-technical reading this, a RAID array is a collection of discs that your data is spread across to provide redundancy is case of a single disc failure, if it couldn’t find the RAID array it meant it couldn’t find any data on the server, in essence I had a box with some pretty lights, but not serving its purpose.

So, some urgent searching of the Dell site and Google uncovered the answer. I should have upgraded the firmware on the RAID controller before upgrading to Windows 2003. The firmware is the program that controls how the RAID controller works. On investigation, it was several versions older than that needed to work with Windows 2003, oops. Needless to say, the version that was currently installed wouldn’t upgrade directly to the version I needed in one go, so several updates and restarts later, all was working well again. No downtime as far as the use of the server went, but got the adrenalin going. The moral of this story, ‘if the instructions states there are prerequisites like firmware and driver updates, there is a reasonable chance they are not optional’. From it I learnt to carefully read and follow instructions when upgrading operating systems – especially on a server in a production environment.

So, a bit later than Tuesday, but there’s a triumph and a trouble that became a triumph.

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