MacLochlainns Weblog

Michael McLaughlin's Technical Blog

Site Admin

Archive for December, 2012

DSL Internet Light is off

with 5 comments

It was a surreal experience this weekend because CenturyLink took my DSL-based Internet offline. Calling their 24 hours support yielded 1st level support, who could do nothing but repeatedly ask me to re-enter my user ID and password. They wouldn’t listen to the simple fact that my Internet light was off, which means the problem is on CenturyLink’s part.

First level support said my DSL-Modem was broken. Naturally, it was the one they provided and charge me $5/month for. I explained that if the DSL light was green one moment and not lit another and the internal Intranet continued to work, it wasn’t the DSL-Modem/Router’s logic board. However, I even went and bought a new DSL-Modem to verify that it would have the same problem symtoms.

With the new modem, the same problem existed. When I contacted the support, the support person said, “Your new Actiontec DSL-model isn’t supported.” Then, they wanted me to call Actiontec. Immediately recognizing their attempt to dodge ownership and close the request (supporting their job metrics), I reconnected the DSL-Modem/Router and said,

“Your supported device is now reconnected and failing to connect to your server. The Internet light is not lit, which means it doesn’t fail or succeed to connect, it simply can’t get recognized to validate a connection on your server.”

Naturally, by this time it was the weekend. The support representative then said, I’d have to call back on Monday during normal business hours because nobody held privileges to reset the server. They said, “Ask for 3rd level support. That’s so interesting because CenturyLink boast 7×24 hour service while it appears that their support model is 5×8, 5×9, or 5×10 hour service.

When I finally got a support person online Monday to escalate to the next level, or beyond, this support person wouldn’t acknowledge that the issue required 3rd level support. They had only 2nd level support. Who knows what’s true at this point, eh? When they did escalate, 35 minutes later the service was reconnected without any action on my DSL-Modem/Router. The light went from unlit, to red, and then after less than a minute to green. This proved exactly what I tried to explain on Thursday last week, which yielded nothing. Unfortunately, I had to travel to Utah Thursday evening and couldn’t get back to the problem on my end until Saturday. Then, the support limits of CenturyLink kicked in and Internet couldn’t be restored until Monday.

CenturyLink has taught me they don’t care about customer service, and that they’re support model is broken. Unfortunately, there are few options in Rexburg, Idaho. It strikes me there needs to be a Federal law if there isn’t already one to mandate the support staffing hours of Internet providers. Next step, I should ask my Congressman if there is a law, and if there isn’t a law start a public driven initiative to create one. By the way, I waited 26 minutes for them to find a duty manager – apparently another broken process or staffing glitch. When he got online, I asked for an email stating what they had broken on their level. That manager represented that they don’t have access to email, like their 1st support analyst, and now I’m waiting for a manager at the next level. I wonder how many levels are required to find somebody with email? Apparently, nobody can send the email because of their security concerns. It makes me wonder if nobody can send an email to acknowledge their mistake. ;-)

Bottom-line, when the Internet light goes dark (unlit), escalate and don’t bother with 1st level support. It’s a waste of your time.

By the way, when I looked into a Cable connection it was the same price and it’s twice as fast. Yes, I’m switching now. So much for the ad copy of 99.9% up time, it doesn’t factor in their downtime windows when the Internet goes unlit. That happens for hours on the weekend several months a year, that appears to be their unpublished service window. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what their real customer up-time is?

The plus side, is that CableOne’s Internet is 6 times faster and the same cost (provided you have a dedicated phone line), as you can see in my speed comparisons using http://speedtest.net (also in my comment replying to CenturyLink below).

Service Download Upload
CenturyLink 5.69 Mbps 0.95 Mbps
CableOne 30.34 Mbps 1.60 Mbps

My only regret is that I didn’t change sooner. Thanks to CenturyLink’s classic example of aggravating customer support, non-transparent outages, and tirelessly trying to maintain image through a 1st level support team for helping me make the change.

Written by maclochlainn

December 17th, 2012 at 10:28 am

Mountain Lion Pre-MySQL

with 10 comments

While I try to contain everything about installing MySQL in a single post that I update from time-to-time, Mac OS X, Mountain Lion (10.8.x), requires some pre-steps. You must install XCode, and the Command Line Tools. This post provides the screen shots and step-by-step instructions.

Before you can do any of these steps, you must connect to the Apple Store and download XCode. Dependent on your internet speed this may take some time. Generally, it’s an hour or less.

  1. After installing XCode, click the Rocket Spaceship in the Mac Dock to launch a view of your Applications. Launch XCode by clicking on the hammer overlaying the blue background XCode icon shown below.

  1. After launching XCode, click the Install button on the lower right of the System Component Installation screen shown below.

  1. You’re prompted for your default user (actually a sudoer authorized user) password. Enter it in the dialog and click the OK button to continue.

  1. After entering the valid credentials and a couple minutes, you should see the System Component Installation screen shown below. Click the Start Using XCode button to continue.

  1. Inside XCode, click on the XCode menu option and select the Preferences menu option, as shown below.

  1. You should be on the General tab of XCode’s Preferences dialog. Click on the Downloads tab.

  1. You should see three choices (at the time of writing) in the Downloads tab. As shown, select the Command Line Tools item. It should take only a couple minutes to download. Click the Install button to continue.

  1. The Install button disappears and is replaced by an Installed label when the Command Line Tools are installed. You should see the following screen shot.

After completing these steps, return to the other post to install and configure MySQL. While it seems this exists already as content on Apple’s site, it seems some folks wanted me to add it with the step-by-step screen shots.

Written by maclochlainn

December 10th, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Mac,Mac OS X,MAMP,MySQL,Xcode

Tagged with , ,

Mac Disk Failure & Recovery

without comments

The first time I had a major failure on my Mac Pro, I lost a 1 TB Seagate drive and ten key virtual machines. It taught me to apply the principles from my production life to my private life. Swapping the fault-prone Seagate drives for Hitachi drives, I began the slow process of rebuilding those virtual environments.

My solution to minimize risk was two fold. First, I put the main 320 GB disk on a time machine backup. Second, I began weekly backups of my virtual machines to two external 2 TB disk drives. After all, I wanted to contain cost.

Paying more attention paid off this week, when I got the flashing drive folder error. It’s the equivalent on the Mac OS X to Microsoft’s Blue Screen of death. This error means the machine can’t find a healthy OS. The problem is that there a number of posts out there, and some aren’t as effective as they appear in solving the problem. More or less, when you see this screen you have two tests before getting a new disk and restoring the image from your time machine.

The first step requires you to reboot the machine that’s stuck looking for an operating system. You can do that by pushing the power button until a reset occurs while simultaneously holding down the Option and key. You’ll know it works if you don’t see the blinking file folder icon and you see a mouse arrow displayed in the screen. It should occur within 5 to no more than 10 seconds after you reboot.

Insert a valid Mac Operating System (OS) disk into the optical drive. It should launch the installation program within 30 to 60 seconds. Click the first proceed button and on the next screen launch the Disk Utility from the displayed menu. In the Disk Utility, click the First Aid tab. Look at the Total Capacity value in the bottom right of the screen. If it provides a numeric value, there’s a hope for your disk recovery. Click on the First Aid tab to try and recover the disk drive. If it provides a zero numeric value, there’s virtually no hope for your disk recovery.

Since the likelihood of recovering the disk at this point is low, buying a new disk is probably the best step. After you’ve ordered the replacement disk, you can boot your Mac in target mode. Target mode allows you to use another Mac and it’s operating system to run your disks (on a Mac Pro, there can be up to 4 disks).

Remove the CD copy of the operating system from the optical drive and push the power button to turn off your non-working Mac. Start the remote Mac and connect the two using a FireWire cable. After the new target machine has finished booting its copy of the OS, push the power button on the machine that can’t find the OS and hold down the T key. In the target machine, open the Finder and inspect which disks are found. If the base disk drive is excluded from the list, as it is in the screen capture on the right, your disk has failed.

At this point, you should definitely buy a new disk unless you’re covered by AppleCare. If the latter, log a ticket and let them fix it. It’s even possible they may be able to recover something from your failed disk. Although, it is unlikely your get any data back if the Mac OS X software can’t recognize the disk.

Your best bet is to recover the image from a time machine restoration. Hopefully, you had an active time machine image not too far before the failure. I did, and it fully recovered everything smoothly. The new disk arrived this morning, and I’m less than 30 minutes from a full recovery. Though that’s unimportant unless I tell you how.

Once you physically install the disk, you reboot the machine that’s stuck looking for an operating system. You push the power button while simultaneously holding down the Option key. Insert a valid Mac Operating System disk into the optical drive. It should launch the installation program within 30 to 60 seconds. Click the first proceed button and on the next screen launch the Disk Utility from the displayed menu. In the Disk Utility, click the Partition tab to partition the new disk. Then, choose to restore from a time machine in the installation program.

Bottom-line: I’m so happy that time machine works so well!!!

Written by maclochlainn

December 8th, 2012 at 6:07 pm