Loon Mountain

One of the perks that Meghan gets through her job are invites to swanky resorts.  Last week was Wentworth-by-the-Sea, this week was a client inviting her to the Loon Mountain Ski Resort for a day of snow sports.

meghan's snow-encrusted hat

The sleds kick up lots of snow, much of which winds up on the back of your head

Meghan and I don’t ski, but they have more than skiing; our activity of choice was sledding.  This isn’t any ordinary sledding, though: they seem to have repurposed an old ski lift and trail.  The sleds are snow-tubes with rails and brakes.  You take a lift up to the top, ride down for as long as 30 seconds, and head back up.  There were few other sledders so we had zero waiting.

After a group lunch with the client and their other guests, the two of us decided to sight-see.  We climbed in the car and drove up into the mountains along the Kancamagus Highway.  Despite the clouds the views were beautiful.

kancamgus pass overlook

Looking out from a scenic overlook just below the Kancamagus Pass (3k’ elevation)

looking back at Meghan

The sun was starting to peek out to the east, but west was still solidly clouded over. There had been snow earlier in the day, but only in these higher elevations.

disappearing mountain tops

The low clouds meant we couldn’t see the mountain tops, as they faded into the clouds

Butter has a terrible, no-good, very bad day.

Butter did not have a good day today. She’s been licking her paws and scratching her face to the point she’s starting to lose fur. Sprayed her with some anti-itch spray, and that didn’t help much (but she did put herself in her crate for an hour).

sad pitt bull

She looks so miserable

Off to the vet we go. He looks her over and says yes, it’s allergies, benadryl what she needs, and by the way her anal glands are full.

So, poor Butter is itchy, has been sprayed with nasty stuff, went to the vet, had a finger up her rear to express her gland, and is due to take two pills later.

I said I should just trim her nails to make it complete, but Quinn says that would be too cruel. I think he’s right.

We’ll just let her sleep for now.

Raiser’s Edge, love, what were you thinking

TL;DR: In the SQL Configuration Manager, set the TCP port to a static one, if is trying to use Dynamic, and remove the Dynamic port. On the Server, go into the Advanced settings for the Firewall, and set Inbound rules for both the TCP and UDP ports, allowing them to connect. On the client, set Outbound rules in the Firewall manager for the same. Support Articles at bottom of post.

So, I do third party tech support for a couple of independent schools. Several of them use a program called Raiser’s Edge to keep track of charitable donations, and solicitations. This is all well and good, and the program certainly does the job, but sometimes it makes you want to down a liter of vodka and go home.

The set up: We had to replace a machine that was hosting a networked install of a Raiser’s Edge database. We didn’t realize it was networked until we got the call that they couldn’t access it from their laptop (crap).

The initial troubleshooting: First, we needed to uninstall RE from the laptop (the client computer). It would not go. Finally decided to reboot the machine to make sure RE was not running anywhere. Suddenly, the uninstall went like a breeze.

Now we needed to install RE from the network share on the server. We can’t connect. That took turning off all the firewalls on both machines to fix, but still, we could not get to the “Deploy” folder, that should have been the only available network share on the machine.

Turns out that the installer does not set that folder to be “Available” across the network. There was no documentation for that. Set it to “Available” and boom. I can see the network share.

Run the setup.

Install RE.

Try to run RE.

Start getting database errors. Native Error 17 – Can’t connect to the Database. Call Support and they say “Yeah, its probably the firewall.”

I was too irritated to tell them there was no firewall turned on, at first, but when I mentioned it, they said that it was possible an antivirus had blocked the ports needed. Go to this KB article and open the ports.

Yeah. Fine.

I go through the directions, figure out that SQL has a dynamic port, and follow the directions for that configuration. It doesn’t work. Fantastic.

Finally, Darling Husband o’Mine says, “Why don’t you specify the port it uses?”

So in the end, this is what worked:

  • In the SQL Configuration Manager, set the IPALL port to 1433
  • Stop and restart the SQL service/reboot the machine (I wound up rebooting, but YMMV).
  • On the Server, in Firewall Management, under Advanced Settings, set up Inbound Rules for the following:
    • TCP port 1433 open (or some open port)
    • UDP port 1434 open
  • On the Client, set up Outbound Rules for the following:
    • TCP port 1433 open (or whatever port you used on the server. THEY HAVE TO MATCH)
    • UDP port 1434 open
  • Install RE on the client machine from the Deploy share on the Server.
  • Test the connections.

If any of this makes no sense, here is the supporting documentation for all of it:

Good luck, and may the force be with you on this one.

Aspen How-to for Smart People

First: Find the email from the school. You can search your inbox for the name “Aspen Help”

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.32.34

In that email, there is a username and password. I never change mine, because I am a ditz and will forget it if I do.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.32.11

Awesome. Keys to the kingdom and all that.

The URL for aspen is: https://ma-wilmington.myfollett.com/aspen/home.do but you can get to it from any of the schools’ websites (http://wpsk12.com/wms/).

Let the insanity begin.

Log in with the credentials they gave you.

Now we’re in the insanity that is the home page. It is almost as useless as you think. In case they dump you on a weird page other than the Home page, just click the “Home” button.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.33.38

To do the Emergency Info thing, you need to scroll down the page to see the “Tasks” area. Its below the To Do section.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.38.18

Click on Initiate. Because this makes so much sense.

At this point a dialog pops up with this totally sensible window. First one we’ve seen, right? Guess how you kick it off. Go ahead. (I gave you an arrow to help.)

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.34.36

At this point, you’re in. There are several windows that need to be filled out. It won’t let you click Finish until they are complete, but it does tell you what still needs doing.

If you need to do more than one kiddo, you go back to the first dialog and click on the Search thingie to get the list of kids.

Hope this helps!

The downside to moving

A quick “downer” note to our adventures in the north.

I realized today that one thing I actually miss is running into people I know.  We were back in Mystic for a couple of hours today and we ran into three people who know us and we hadn’t planned to see while we were in town, while in a huge crowd of tourists.  I haven’t lived there for over a decade but there were some smiling faces.  I wonder who else I knew in that crowd and just happened to miss?

Here, in our new home, I go weeks without meeting a friend out and about – even at the local grocery store.  I feel out of step with the people around me, I haven’t found a common rhythm with my neighbors.  It’s probably common for people who move to a completely new area but it sucks all the same.

Canobie Lake

One of Beta’s friends invited us to join her (and her parents Nick and Valerie) at Canobie Lake Park over Labor Day weekend.  It’s a bit like Six Flags or Walt Disney Land, but smaller.  (WDL != WDW).

The rides are good, the lines were relatively short (not like the last time we went to WDW where the fast pass system was a must), and it’s only a 20 minutes away.  What a deal.

I got Alpha to ride with me on the “Corkscrew Coaster“, which flips you upside-down; she got me to ride on “Wipe Out” which left me dizzy (it spins — fast).  She rode it a couple of times by herself, too.

Megh rode on the Boston Tea Party a couple of times, once with each child, and was soaked.  Making her do that was my revenge for making me sit in front of the log flume.  The splash when the “boat” hits the water goes up and out probably fifty feet.

There was a carousel ride, some kids-only rides, lunch, and water slides in there too.  We did probably a third of the park by nightfall.  We ended the day out with the ferris wheel and a sky ride, and left as the dark was falling with some rain to boot.

Cape 2014 – Day 6

We started the day with swimming at Harding Beach. The water was decently warm today, the sun was bright, and the seaweed wasn’t overwhelming. Megh and I declined to repeat past mistakes and left after an hour. Tim and Kelly stayed a little longer.

After lunch, while Delta napped, Megh, Kelly, Beta, and I went back to Chatham to shop. Beta and I investigated the toy shops (again) and a book store; I’m not allowed to know everywhere Megh and Kelly went. We hit Buffy’s Ice Cream Shop on our way out.

Alpha child had started feeling poorly during the day – sore throat, swollen tonsils, slight fever. Megh took her to a clinic to rule out strep throat and everyone else headed to Nauset Beach.

The beach is notable for its fine sand and strong surf. We had a great time body surfing.

There was a seal that continually cruised the surf a few yards further offshore than the body surfers dared to go. No pictures, we were too busy playing in the surf to grab a camera. No sharks, either.

We turned a bunch of disparate leftovers into a fine feast for dinner. While eating on the deck a bunny paid us a visit.

After the kids went to bed we enjoyed Star Wars Episode II, MST3K style.

Cape 2014, Day 5 – Whale Watch!

We started the day with some mini-golf to kill time. I had forgotten how expensive mini-golf is on the Cape. The kids had fun, but Tim, Kelly, and Delta bailed part-way through to enforce a nap for Delta.

The whale watch was with the Dolphin Fleet out of Provincetown. We were scheduled to leave port at 2:30. Tim and Kelly, by leaving early, were sure to arrive the requisite one-hour early to find parking (even after picking up Joan at the house). They did, which was lucky for them because parking was difficult to find and they had to park a mile away.

Megh and I, by finishing our game of mini golf and stopping by the house and grocery store to pick up supplies and snacks, were guaranteed to be barely on time – and we were. We arrived about fifteen minutes early (traffic was snarled on Route 6, no surprise there, but it didn’t help us make up lost time) so I valiantly offered to drop off the family and wander the town for a few hours. They got out, and the parking lot next to the pier started letting cars in again. So by arriving late we parked right next door. Lucky for us.

The whale watch itself was great.

Highlight: a group of four whales repeatedly surfaced and sounded right by the boat.

Personal highlight: Alpha spent the majority of the cruise talking with a boy.

After returning to dry land, we struck out in search of victuals – it was 6:00 and the kids needed to eat. The Lobster Pot was recommended, but the wait was over an hour. The Governor Bradford was available, though. Unfortunately, in retrospect. The food tasted good, the food presentation was mediocre (to be generous – the kitchen did make an attempt, though they might have done better by skipping it), and the service was slow, slow, slow – we took over two hours to get out of there. At least we a) ate outside and b) there’s a little grassy area in back where the kids could play.

After dinner Tim and I took off to fetch the cars – first to ours, since it was close, and the I dropped Tim off at his and we jetted back.

While waiting, Kelly and Megh decided to go shopping. When Tim and I returned we had no idea where they had gone. If you know Provincetown then you know that navigating to the piers and trying to wait for someone can be… distressing. No place to park and falling darkness.

It took twenty-five minutes (not that I was counting…) but we got on our way home. Bed came soon after we got in the door.

Cape 2014, Day 4

Oh, the sunburns. No beach today (except Joan).

We wandered out after lunch (meatball grinders, yum!) to stroll downtown Chatham. Megh and Joan walked the length of it, while the kids and I were waylaid by a couple of toy stores and ice cream. We played at the park until the womenfolk returned. They came laden with items so I regret letting them loose without supervision.

After returning home we waited for Tim, Kelly, and Delta to arrive. We had a great dinner out on the back deck, and finished up with a visit to Schoolhouse Ice Cream.