ACS Report Issue

We run a change log report from ACS (Our Church Management System) that shows us any one that has made a change to a specific record and what that change was. This report is an integral part of our quality control and gets used often. We have been experiencing a growing problem where this report takes forever to run. After talking with ACS we found out that we need to clear the log from time to time so that it is not so huge. We did that and the reports ran fine, for a while. Now the problem is back and I just don't understand why.

The ACS server is a Dell 1850 with dual Xeon 2.8 Ghz, 1 GB Ram, SCSI 360. The processor barley moves and the RAM has at least 512 mb free at all times. The other thing that I don't understand is that the hard drive is doesn't have that many reads going on during this report. The GB NIC is only being used at 2%.

The Terminal Server that our staff uses for ACS also doesn't have much load. So where is the bottle neck? I'm open to ideas!


New/Used Test Server

For a while now I have been using desktop computers that we have pulled from production for test servers. Mainly because they are free. The problem has always been that they are not servers! They always seem to have slow processors or not enough RAM to do what I want.

So, I went Ebay shopping! I was able to get a Dell 1750 with a 3 Ghz Xeon processor and 4 GB of ram for just $560. Better yet, the seller is based in Grayslake so he has offered to deliver the server for free!

I haven't gotten it yet but I plan to set it up with VM Ware and attempt to virtualize a few legacy servers to start. I'll post more when I get it set up.


Late Night in the Server Room

I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets a little scared when updating IOS on Cisco routers. One bad turn could make a late night even later! This is especially true when it is a remote site. Tonight I upgrading the IOS on 3 of our 4 routers including our core router. I have had the newest IOS running on one router for a few weeks now with not problems so I decided it was time to take the plunge with them all. This release will give us some new features in the NetFlow area such as Top Talkers and Top Protocols that will help us manage our bandwidth better.

Oh, to make the night a little more nerve racking I am expanding the partitions on our main file server after adding 3 x 300 GB SCSI drives last week. I'll post how it goes when it's done. It takes a Looooooooong time!


Inferior Server

We have an old white box desktop computer (age unknown) that I was looking to virtualized on this last Friday. It is not a mission critical application so I thought that it would be ok to play with after hours on Friday. Well I couldn't get the VM to work yet and it was getting late so I decided to fire up the old machine and just go with that until I get VM working.

When I tried to power up the machine I just heard the noisy processor fan spin, two beeps, and then the computer powering down. I thought that It might be an issue with the ram (I took one DIM out) so I added a DIM. Same thing. I then remembered that the last time the fan went (1 ½ years ago) I set the BIOS to shut down so that it wouldn't damage the processor.

So, on Saturday I went out and got the same exact heat sink and fan that I got before and replaced the bad one. It worked! Now I have some more motivation to get this machine virtualized. The hard drives are also noisy (I thought they were SCSI but were ATA!) so yet another reason.

Moral of the story, don’t use a desktop for an always-on server.



We have been working for some time on creating a "Dashboard" that will show us how our church is doing. We got a pretty sweet one setup as a proof of concept but it started getting out of control when everyone wanted new view and data displayed. So now we are on phase 2 of the Dashboard project.

We started by using a MS Access backend and a Perl web front end. This was not very flexible and took a lot of time to generate a new view. We are now planning on using MS SQL Server 2005 with Reporting Services for the database and reports. Also, we are working with a consultant from Wisconsin that has a lot of experience in designing dashboards. They are guiding us though the murky waters of MS SharePoint and the new Performance Point 2007 software.

We had a con-call with the company today and it went well. I'll post more when we hear back from them.

Blog Updates

Wow! I fogot I even had this blog! I started several blogs a while ago when I was looking for the best option. I'm back to Blogger now and hope to keep this blog updated.

As a followup to the last post, I did get the email back up. :-)