Thursday, June 25, 2009

Event Viewer Warning: Reading/Writing Windows.edb took an abnormally long time

Windows (1608) Windows: A request to read from the file "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows\Windows.edb" at offset 56401920 (0x00000000035ca000) for 16384 (0x00004000) bytes succeeded, but took an abnormally long time (13930 seconds) to be serviced by the OS. In addition, 0 other I/O requests to this file have also taken an abnormally long time to be serviced since the last message regarding this problem was posted 30928 seconds ago. This problem is likely due to faulty hardware. Please contact your hardware vendor for further assistance diagnosing the problem.

This error is not your hard drive; it is the windows indexer service attempting to read or write information as your computer goes to sleep and not completing that read or write until it wakes up. See this article for more info.

Take This Job and...

I knew I would get to this point. Maybe it's just a phase. I don't want to work.
I mean, I want to work, but not here, not doing what I'm doing. I'm content to let others take the calls and jump on the work.
I have been looking for another job for at least a year now, and haven't found one. My job search was mainly motivated out of a desire for more $$$; my current employer is pretty weak on the compensation, although it gets my family by.
But now, I have reached a point unforeseen, although I should have seen it coming. There have been a number of issues that I have with my current employer that have finally accrued to the point I am at now:
1. Poor compensation.
2. They never do performance reviews or raises. Never. But they showed no reluctance to implement a company-wide 10% reduction in pay due to the economy.
3. Medical insurance is through the roof expensive ($230 bi-weekly for Aetna Value Select HMO for myself and my wife)
4. The company runs a really tight ship fiscally, which is normally a good thing, except:
   a. We don't have enough developers, so our software lacks the robustness to successfully install and run the first time for many people. We also can't keep a lot of our courses updated because we are too busy making our top selling courses work better.
   b. We don't have enough QA staff even if development could write all that software at once.
   c. As part of the technical support staff, I have to support the half-baked software they release.
   d. We are moving to online-based video courses- but our only server is self-hosted in San Diego. We don't have the money to pay for a service which would colocate our video streams, which means some customers are screwed, especially internationally.
5. My department gets no input into the development of the software; if we are lucky, we get a secondhand QA role.

A big part of the problem is that this is a small company (about 50 employees). Before working here, I had decided I would not work for a publicly-traded company. Now I have to add to that that I will not work for a company of less than 100 employees again.
I and my coworkers have brought all these things up to management; it usually ends up being we don't have the $$$. Or they just don't do that. (?)

The reason I won't work for a publicly-traded corporation is because the demands of the shareholders force the company to think short-term. Now I know that really small companies are afflicted with the same malady, but for a different reason- they have to watch every dollar. I am not against being frugal, but you have to open your wallet sometimes and spend your money to improve your operations. Companies that stay small over the long term aren't making investments necessary to truly succeed. I am not saying you have to become big, but at least shoot for mid-size- get to a place where you have enough of a buffer not only to continue operations but also do more, to get you away from having to think short-term all the time.

Our company started as a simple video training outfit, selling VHS tapes and eventually, DVDs. Then they moved into making training software. Big difference! Software development is an entirely different beast than video production, and much higher cost. I don't think the company understood this, and they have paid the price ever since, trying to do software development without being willing to pay the price for top talent. And then overworking the talent they do have. When I first started working here, I thought the guy who writes our installers was incompetant. Now I know better- he is overworked so much that he merely seems incompetant. He has to handle installers, our contract courses, QA bug/fix cycles, escalations, and more. He is out sick quite a bit (I wonder why?). He deserves better.

Of course now, in June of 2009, nobody has any money. It will likely be another 3-4 years before my company can emerge out of batten-down-the-hatches mode. But I do hope they take that opportunity to really create a world-class operation.

So I guess I am de-motivated. Maybe next week I'll snap out of it. Or the week after that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fathers Day 2009

My wife made his video for me for my first Father's Day yesterday. I had to post it here... I guess I am just a proud daddy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another Tech Support Tip

I had someone today who was upset that our software doesn't work on his system, even though it -technically- meets the listed system requirements.
If your computer will not run our software due to an incompatibility that was undisclosed in the listed system requirements, that does not oblige us to pay for upgrades or a new computer.
Your exclusive remedy is a refund IF you are entitled to one under our return policy.

Please do not be like some of my customers and wait multiple months to try out the product you purchased. Usually after 30 days our hands are tied and there is little that can be done for you- even if something is missing from the packaging and it's our fault!

Tech Support Guidelines Update

As you may know, I work in technical support. I have previously written some posts targeting unhelpful practices by those calling in. You can do a search for "tech support" using the bar at the top of my blog.
I have an additional update.

Don't ask if your problem happens a lot.
Don't ask if everyone has to call in about this.

When you ask these questions you are implying we send out crappy software that we know a majority of our customers are going to have to call in about. These types of questions are drenched in sarcasm, so don't start down that road.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

.FINF and .RSRC directories in Windows

If you have .finf and/or .rsrc folders all over your Windows drive, it is being caused by Basilisk II, a Mac OS emulator. These folders are harmless and can be deleted, although it is suggested to not delete the .rsrc folders, as they resource fork info for Mac files stored in the same directory as the .rsrc folder.
More info is here.