Like I do every year, I bought TurboTax Premier Federal + E-File + State 2012 as a PC Download from Amazon.com back on Jan 18th, in part due to sale email from TurboTax. But, probably should've waited, because its cheaper now. Not sure why PC download is so similar in price to buying PC/Mac package. And, wasn't sure if I would still be on a PC.
In fact, I haven't had a physical Windows machine for almost 10 months now. Last year I did my taxes in a Windows XP VirtualBox VM on orac, since I had evolved to running Quicken in different XP VirtualBox VMs and using Dropbox to house my Quicken datafile. My first XP VM was on my laptop....and I spent part of Gallifrey One 2011 getting Quicken up and running in that VM and recovering my Quicken data. Where it seemed the best place to put the file was in my Dropbox. Have since adjusted things to make that work better to mostly cope with the locking issues between Quicken and Dropbox. I set up the one on orac which is where I did 'Windows' for about 9 months, and still use on occasion due to the lack of USB 2.0 support for VirtualBox on FreeBSD.
Though on zen, I have a Windows 7 VM (and still own another Windows 7 copy that I don't know where I'm going to put to use, just as I have a couple copies of XP still...been planning to put the 64-bit XP one into a VM on zen...but it hasn't happened yet.) Perhaps when I finally do get my Mac, I'll use some copies there.
Anyways...I would fire up TurboTax now and then, to see it get updates. Always thought it strange that after it said it was done that it would say that it was restarting TurboTax, but not. So, I never did more than see what updates it was getting.
But, I had intended to start my taxes last weekend...where DST began, though that turned out to be a bit of a weird weekend so I didn't get to it. I had actually intended the weekend before DST, but that also didn't pan out. But, seems tradition has been 2nd or 3rd weekend of March lately.... It is also for some reason the weekend that they always bring down HRIS for upgrades. As it happened this year, I did want to go on there and check something....
So, Friday night at 10pm I fired up TurboTax to see what updates, there were a lot. Been kind of unsettling lately...especially after the IRS Notice I got last year, which I dealt with using the services of Tax Resources...but it might have been a variation of a TurboTax bugs -- "Federal 2010: Customers with certain 1099-R retirement distribution codes" or "Federal 2010: Qualified Pension Conversion and Rollover" -- so I probably should've gotten TurboTax to take the heat for it.
Of course, TurboTax has had other issues in the past, and yet I stay with it year after year....
This was originally going to be a very long post, but I kept putting this off ... and now I just feel that something needs to be said.
The story starts with waking up on February 15th, to find zen was dead. It had self updated overnight, and now it was unbootable, and the start repair couldn't get me back. Apparently, the problem had started long ago with all the previous times where Windows 7 would lock up...usually under intense disk activity...and the afterwards, the intel matrix raid would require re-initialization of my 1.5TB RAID 1 array.
Apparently, it was slowly corrupting my drive....because trying to restore from WindowsImageBackup was also a failure. Since this happened the day before Gallifrey One, I had to wait until I got back to do some more serious attempts to recovery, during which I ordered a full copy of Windows 7 Professional, hoping that a repair install might be an option. It isn't because the repair option can only be invoked inside a running Windows 7 system .... in need of repair. Not by booting the disk. ARGH!
At least I should have the data in BackupPC to restore from.....though hopefully before the bit rot of its ext4 filesystem makes it go away. Plus I had hoped to get some configuration going where I could mount the RR62x RAID 5 array, and get at the Oops!Backup store.
So, the plan now was to wait until Ubuntu 12.04LTS to land and then maybe some configuration of running Windows 7 in VirtualBox and recovering into that, etc.
Earlier this month my Quicken 2012 Premier stopped being able to get updates from Discover, Target, Commerce Bank and my Credit Union. But, only on one computer. I run Quicken 2012 Premier in a VM (since I no longer have any native Windows hardware around), and I have my quicken data file in Dropbox so that I can keep my records up to date whether I'm at home or on the road.
This actually came about when zen died, I needed to get my records updated and keep them updated (and later be able to do my taxes...as things dragged out.)
So, I had reinstalled Quicken 2012 Premier into the Windows XP VM on my laptop, since zen died a couple days before I went to Gallifrey One...and I did the Quicken recovery while I was at Gallifrey one.
Later when I was home, I repeated the process into my Windows XP VM on orac. Orac became my main home computer while zen was out of commission. But, eventually I got zen going again, and it was time to set up a new Windows VM on there. Not being able to locate the other copy of my WXP SP3 OEM image (that I got just before they stopped selling them)... though later I found I have a Windows XP - 64-bit OEM CD. Wonder what was I thinking? Anyways...I had bought a Windows 7 Professional Full, during the attempt to revive zen as Windows 7 Professional. (I should finish that post someday...) And, I intend to rebuild old zen into the Windows 7 VM on new zen, but that's been dragging.... But, I did get Quicken 2012 Premier installed and moved to mainly working from there. Though I still have the option now to do Quicken updates when I travel (rather than try to keep notes on what I've spent, etc. and then forget or lose notes by the time I get home)
Which reminds me....I didn't update everything after last trip....hmmm, darn...I have less cash than I thought I did, hopefully it'll be enough to cover incidentals during my next trip....
Anyways the recent problem seemed timed with my return from LISA '12, the Sunday following...updates for 4 of my accounts stopped working. Though now it seems that KB2761465 released on December 11th (during LISA...so it had applied before I finally got around to using Quicken....I initially started it up to let Eye-Fi do its stuff....except I keep forgetting to unpack my digital cameras -- guess I can do that now. ) Though when I'll get to posting pictures online again...who knows. That part of zen rebuild hasn't happened yet, though I should work on getting the data replication working again at least....
But, the error with Quicken kept pointing to something wrong on my end, like check the time (nope...and NTP is using 4 servers...which in a poster session is the minimum in an unreliable environment for reliable time keeping. And, I do see that 1 of the 4 servers has gone away...) Or if I'm on XP, check if root certificate update is installed. Well, it works on XP....not on 7.
Kind of annoying having to go to XP on Orac to do One Step Updates....etc. So after a week, I decided that the problem wasn't going to fix itself and Quicken was still pointing to my connection as being the problem. But, 7 other accounts were updating fine....though it was also going much more slowly...
I had been seeing complaints about slowness recently online....though the hits for connection errors were old and/or unhelpful.
So, since the world didn't end today...I decided that it was time to investigate more in depth....
I eventually did notice in Windows Event Log, Schannel errors - Event ID 36888 that seemed to coincide with failed attempts. Which didn't yield much in helpful hits online...at first.
But, this seemed to indicate some kind of SSL connection problem with Quicken...so I compared the security settings of IE9 on Windows 7 and IE8 on Windows XP. There were some differences...like though more in that IE9 has more security options like TLS 1.1 and TLS 1.2 (though it had TLS 1.0 unchecked...so I checked TLS 1.0 ... its was checked on XP and it was the only TLS option. Both SSL 2.0 and 3.0 were checked on XP, but I didn't feel that was necessary...though I tried it at one point.) That didn't help.
But, eventually, I saw that the Event 36888, Schannel was giving a fatal alert 43...which I then found to mean TLS1_ALERT_UNSUPPORTED_CERT. So, I did a packet capture to see where it was connecting to and tried connecting there myself. Well, those sites worked...though I was trying them in Chromium on FreeBSD. And, they also worked in Chrome on Windows 7. But, finally when I tried in IE9, they didn't work. The troubleshooter was no help. But, it was in IE9 that I confirmed that I could get to sites that had the same issuer cert for an intuit/quicken domain. So, there was something specific to the sites.
Finally, I decided to connect to the problem site using openssl to see what its sending during the negotiation. Hmm, its doing TLSv1. Well, I turned on TLS 1.0, wonder if TLS 1.1/1.2 being on causes problems. During my search, I had read somewhere that TLS 1.2 enabled would prevent SSL 2.0 from happening...enabled or not. Wonder if it also prevents TLS 1.0?
Answer...YES....TLS1.2 is causing problems.
Unchecking it (so SSL 3.0, TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 are the only ones checked). Fixed all my connection problems. I did updates of the accounts individually first (my credit union, then Discover, then Target, though Target failed with a different error because I had tried disabling and the reconfiguring Discover and Target...and Quicken hadn't relearned all the extra security passwords needed yet.
Then, I tried updating all the accounts at once...at first it seemed that it was going to go slowly still. But, once it updated one of the problem accounts, it suddenly started them in bunches and in a blink it was done.
So, again this year, I bought TurboTax Premier 2011 as a download from Amazon.com. But, then on February 15th, my Windows 7 computer crashed. Or rather it auto updated and wouldn't boot. After a couple weeks of various attempts to fix it, I've written it off. Hopefully, my backups were good...and I'll eventually get around to rebuilding that.
In the meantime, I fired up my XP VM...installed Quicken Premier 2012 and recovered a backup of my Quicken data..and had been continuing to use that. So with likelihood of getting Windows 7 running in my home again anytime soon, being low. I reinstalled the recently purchased TurboTax Premier 2011 into the VM debated when I would make a start.
After the initial update, it noted that on or before March 8th, there would be another update. So I decided I would defer to then. I had intended to pop on to HRIS sometime before then to check something, but I didn't remember that I needed to do it until after I took the system down for planned weekend upgrades. As it was, there wasn't anything I needed from it anyways.
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I decided today is the day to close my Stamps.com account. It was triggered by something unrelated....
I had pretty much decided that it I was going to close my Stamps.com account around mid-year, but I kept thinking that I might need it still and then I kept forgetting to do it (before the automatically monthly charge around the 20th takes place.)
When I called, they noted that I had had my account since 1999....guess that's about right...also the year that I started NetFlix (another thing that I'm starting to wonder about.) For a while before than, I had been paying for a postage meter.... Stamps.com used to be a lot cheaper by the month than the rental of a postage meter, by quite a bit...though sometime ago the edge closed, but there were other advantages to having Stamps.com then. I also lived closer to a post office, and was active selling on half.com and ebay. Though proximity to a post office was important to being a seller....
But, when I upgraded my computer back in December....the end for Stamps.com came up. The Stamps.com-branded labelwriter that I could print single stamps on demand with wasn't supported beyond Windows XP. (wasted a sheet of NetStamps somewhere years ago....printed a whole sheet of first class postage, but only used one....figured I'd use it while computer was packed up for move, etc. But, don't know where it went to.) I may someday buy a new labelwriter (been thinking of a new label maker...though perhaps I'll just buy new labels for my current ones), but to keep my stamps.com account useful wasn't enough of a reason to do it now. But, I'm just about at the point where I'm going to pull the plug on the old computer (TARDIS)...and use the space for something else. Providing it doesn't end itself for me first. I've already replaced a drive in it since 'retiring' it. And, its making drives noises again...
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Back on Sunday, I also got around to switched the 2 1.5TB drives of my backup storage from the hardware RAID1 of the TR2UT-B, to the TR5M-BP. Was kind of surprised they both showed up as valid drives, Windows was smart enough to offline one due to duplicate signature and it seemed it would just work. Good to know perhaps.
Did find the something else missing in the Open Box TR5M-BP....screws. There should've been 20 screws for harddrives (4 for each of the 5 trays). But, there were only 12 screws. Not sure how that maps out. But....not really that worried.
Now, I'm not entirely sure why I'm doing RAID1, I had thought about switching it to spanned or RAID0...I suppose either way, I'm toast if one drive fails...but its just backup data. Though having the backup did save my tail once. JBOD could be an option for the kind of backup I'm doing now, though not sure how to implement it with the current backup software (Microsoft)....its already kind of bad in that it deletes the backup before making the new backup. There's room for two backups on the disk right now.
Though I've thought I would like to continue my search for a better Windows backup product (i.e. time machine like), instead of the current for disaster recovery and backupppc which exposures windows of 24 hours and greater (due to window constraints, and limits on simultaneous jobs...it can sometimes approach 72 hours since the last backup).
And, obviously I'm paranoid of my data, so lots of backups is good.
I deleted the partitions, initialized the drives in the rr622 web interface and turned them into a RAID1 set and redid my Windows Image Backup.
I didn't note what kind of throughput I had was getting with eSata & TR2UT's hardware RAID1...but the rr622/software RAID1 is slower. The Windows Image Backup took longer than it had been before.
But, I didn't feel like messing around with it just yet. First problem was the fan was kind of noisy compared to everything else. Though it wasn't really loud to be a problem, but there was a high pitched whine to it that made it annoying. I had gotten a new fan to have on hand to replace the fan in the other used TR5M-B, I got off of eBay.... (since I had to replace the one in the Rosewill clone a while back.) Haven't had to use it yet. Though I poked around on Amazon to see if there was perhaps a quieter fan to consider. Narrowed down to a couple of choices, and then decided to get both....because I decided that I'm also going to upgrade the case fan in Orac at some point.
Then I decided that would break the RAID1 and try spanning....well, it doesn't do that. So, I guess RAID0. Well, a new Windows Image Backup to the RAID0 went much faster than anything I've done before....so that might not be bad.
Then, I thought perhaps I'll give the Windows file backup product another shot now....
....I ran out of space in backuppc last night.
However, it was party due to a bug that hits me now and then. An rsync backup of a large ~7GB file on the remote system, was resulting in a file file on my backuppc server that was growing without bound. If there were only some way that backuppc would know that if a file of size 'x' on remote was resulting in a file of size 'y' (where 'y' >> 'x') that maybe something is going wrong.
Sure the built-in compression might result in some increase in size for already compressed or incompressible files, which is typically the case of large files coming from the remote....TEBE backup file.
But, it seems pretty obvious to me that at 300GB and growing...something has gone wrong.
Silly thing is that the particular remote is being backed up twice. And, rsync backup's exclude list keeps growing and growing to avoid the difficult large files and letting just the other (SMB) backup get it.
Originally, when I first set up Zen, the smbclient in ubuntu had stopped being able to talk to Windows 7 shares. I had set up work machine using rsync method, just to see what that was like in comparison to the more traditional of using SMB method for my Windows boxes. But, some Windows update changed how Windows 7 shares worked....and samba could no longer talk to it.
I tried fiddling with registry and package uninstall/installs, etc. Looking for tweaks to the smbclient source that I could compile my own version, there was a time (early on) where I was using my own compiled version of smbclient....but I didn't block updates, and the next update worked. Well, after some point in time, another update for smbclient appeared from ubuntu....and it could connect to Windows 7 shares again. So, I put Zen back in with SMB. The total backup size is so much larger than the rsync version. Because tar doesn't seem to have any of the trouble of rsync (normally I think rsync is better than tar though, but suspect its all about the perl re-implementation of rsync functionality in BackupPC that is the problem....I heard in 4.0 that they have abandoned this approach and will run rsync on the backuppc server.
Ya...I think that's what I'll do....
For a long time, I've been having problems with images not loading in emails in Thunderbird. I thought my old computer, TARDIS, didn't have the processing power to do the networking. Partly, because pointing it through my squid proxy seemed to help a bit. For a while anyways.
Well, when it came time to move to Zen....I just copied the profile into the new profile on Zen, and it worked...and images seemed to work. More or less. I figured it was profile rot, and that someday I should probably use some kind of import/export.
But, I continued to suffer...while occasionally searching on the issue. I remembered about deleting .msf files....kind of annoying because then have to go through all the folders and remark read messages read and having old spam come back to haunt me. But, I did it anyways...and just ignored some of those old folders. It didn't help.
As time went, things got worse and worse. So, I envisioned that I would do a backup, either using TEBE or MozBackup...and then a selective restore. Hadn't decided if I would keep all extensions and how much of prefs to keep, etc. Though weekends have a way of getting away from me...and I never seemed to find the moment to do it after have done a backup. Tried to make the move during the long weekend, but ran out of time. But, tried to give it a go this weekend.....but time just kept sliding by. Restoring everything from a MozBackup except Mail. Then, copied just Mail except for MSF files. No ImapMail.
Slowly went through all my folders getting MSFs back, and resync'ng my ImapMail....and then things stopped working again. I then wondered if there was some kind of hidden parameter relating to max connections. I knew about max connections per imap server....while looking through the settings I saw there was a higher level max.imap.max_cache_connections was set to the default 10. Wonder what that means, with each Imap Account being able to have a max of 5.
Well, I never used imap much until I moved here to Kansas...then I was using it more and more. Wonder how many imap accounts I have. Seems that until things start getting really bad....I was just under 10... now I have like 13. Let's jack that parameter up and see if it helps.
Alas, it only helped a little bit. Seems there's other things at play. I did stumble into Windows limits during the google search, but from the tools....I was typically hovering around 80-160 established connections. And, I didn't seem to be hitting the half-open limit, though I may want to look at that issue later.
But, I got all my IMAP folders accessed, headers were down, body downloading was going to have to just happen over time. I also looked up shortcuts, and found SHIFT-C to be the mark all read shortcut now. In the early days...back when thunderbird was also my Newsreader and I read netnews (AKA USENET), I was quite adept with shortcuts. But, a version change and the shortcuts I had grown accustom to changed. Probably just one or two, but enough to make me stop.
Anyways....now I was catching up old emails (I have a couple of big message trees of old emails that I had imported from a couple of PST files and Eudora....there just there for historical purposes, I don't want them showing up as unread again.) And, then I left thunderbird running over night to sync things up.
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When I had gotten Zen (HPE-450t), I couldn't resist and opened it up to see what it had inside, etc. And, one of the things I noted was that there were two available PCIe x1 slots.
Later during the initial setup, I found myself running out of physical USB 2.0 ports on the back. I did have a 7 port USB hub, but there's so many things out there that just don't like the extra layer of a hub. And, I had a lot of this things. While, I did later get a 24-port USB hub to help get everything connected to Zen. But, I felt that I needed to eventually get something in additional real USB 2.0 ports.
And, eventually I settled on wanting to get a StarTech 7 Port PCIe LP USB 2.0 Card (PEXUSB7LP). It actually only has 6 ports on the back, but it was the highest density PCIe x1 card I could find (there's an internal header, but its no use for me). I bought this back on Feb 3rd using Amazon Prime, of course.
Later as I was thinking of making my local backups go faster, I thought that I would grab one of the extra SATA RAID adapters (SIL3132 based)...that had come with the TR5M or its Rosewill clone...I didn't use either, because I had purchased on before I knew I was getting these enclosures for orac. And, the TR2UT that I had gotten initially didn't have a card....
Put that in Zen, and change how the TR2UT is connected to Zen now. Currently its using its built-in RAID1 ability and connected via USB2.0. I had tried both kinds of Windows 7 backups, but the file backups were taking longer than 24 hours to do the daily differentials...so I stopped doing that. But, the System Image Backup had saved me once before, so even though its a pain...I do that weekly...or try to.
I makes Zen pretty slow...the VSS really hurts things I guess, and it can take close to a day to run. Though it had been getting shorter, though for no reason that I know of. I used to start it at 11pm on Tuesdays, in the hope that it wouldn't impact me too badly come Wednesday night (I tend to be out the early part, so it would help). But, then it started taking less time. Perhaps there's been a Windows update to it. So, now I start it at 10am on Wednesday...usually well after I get my morning stuff done and off to work...and hope that in finishes before I return from my Wednesday evening activities....
Or come home to find out that it failed for some unknown reason and try again.
So anyways...on February 13th, I evidently bought a 2m eSATA cable from Amazon Prime for that project.
.... kind of, though more not.
Three weeks ago today, Zen locked up. And, when it came back...it wasn't all there. It was bad....stuff wouldn't run, missing or corrupt system dlls, etc. Well, I did buy Acronis True Image Home 2011 the weekend before, and I had got nonstop backups going for a few days...and it seemed to show that it had replaced the old backup settings (image back only). And, trying to go into "Backup and Restore" launched Acronis True Image Home....
Guess I will restore the system to a previous time earlier that day. Seems the last time was about 6 hours back (and there were other weird gaps) later I read that non-stop isn't really non-stop...it'll pause if the machine is 'too busy'. Problem is it thinks BOINC is the machine being 'too busy'....didn't figure this out until later.
But, I went for it. After doing the restore, it rebooted...and...poof, I have nothing. Well, it went into HP's recovery partition instead. And, the only option enabled there is to restore the system to factory. After some cursing, I figured I'd go ahead, reinstall Acronis True Image Home and try again with an earlier time. While, that was happening, I had gotten onto another computer to do some surfing to see if there was some alternative way to invoke the restore, having not used the create restore cd option yet.
I found that I could download an iso from acronis, that was the same as what the software would've created and boot with that. So, instead of completing the initial setup screens of the freshing restored to factory...I booted from that. And, then tried looking for an earlier restore time.
Well, that interface is pretty bad. The worst part is that it sorts non-stop backup times alphabetically....so 1:59 is followed by 10:00, and then 11 and 12, before 2:00 shows....and AM & PM, those are at the end of the string...so PM times are interleaved into the AM times. Well, I remembered what time I had restored to previously, so I had a starting time to search for and try to guess backwards to a suitable restore time. There was a huge gap, now it was a busy 'vacation' day. I had a doctor appoint in the morning and then an MRI in the afternoon. The first restore attempt had been to a time shortly after returning from the MRI. The next backup times were for a period after I had returned from the doctor appointment. Might be okay....I would probably lose one Quicken transaction, but I could easily put that back (entering that I had paid co-pay)...I had read emails then as well as after the MRI, but I didn't recall anything too important that I had to get back having come in since my morning email check.
So, off it went....oh the first restore attempt took hours and I had gone to bed hoping to find Zen back in the morning. Now the next day, I was running a bit late for work...but I got it going, with it reformatting and updating partition settings first and I hoped to come home from work and be up and running again.
Well, that's not what I found. I was back at the HP Recovery Partition screen. So, I rebooted from the Acronis recovery disk, and this time I hit the search for backups option to see if it might find anything else. I figured it was worth a shot, while I mulled over the idea of starting over from scratch....at least I had the stuff in backuppc (sort of). Well, it did find something else...it found some image backups...odd. I had played around the option in Acronis True Image Home, but thought I had opted to go with non-stop backups and a fresh start with the external drive.
But, it seemed to be valid images and it was from the night before the crash. So, I used that to restore. I only made one mistake, where I marked the C: drive as active instead of the hidden system partition. Booting a GParted Live CD, I switched things back and that got me going again. Now while I was in the GParted Live CD, I noticed that it saw two internal drives...instead of the Intel Matrix RaidVol. I suppose that means the Intel ICH8R Matrix Raid is actually another FakeRAID, and after some searching around I found it to be true.
Hmmm, wonder if I shouldn't have bothered ordering the system as RAID1 then? Years ago, I had built a PC using FakeRAID...and it was kind of a mess after the motherboard failed (around the time where lots of motherboard makers were having trouble with counterfeit capacitors.) Yet, I'm considering building a machine from scratch again....
Wonder if it being FakeRAID is why after crashes it messes up the RAID, and has to initialize again (was scary seeing that the first time)...and then verify and fix errors.... wonder if this is going to happen every time Windows 7 fails to shutdown safely?
Oh well, try the boot....and success its all working again. I then look at the backup drive to see what I had restored from. Well, before I setup Acronis True Image Home 2011, I had been using Microsoft's image backup option, and scheduled it to run every Tuesday night. And, it usually runs on through to Wednesday night. Though it did seem to not take as much time lately....guess Zen also getting hit by backuppc at night was slowing the image backup down. I had looked at blocking out that night in backuppc, And, at this particular time...there was no hit from backuppc, because I had taken I was in the process of building a new array (I plan to write about that later) I was between backups.
Guess I'll leave Microsoft's image backup going...since it worked. Though it has one annoying negative. It removes the previous backup before creating the new backup, and if something goes wrong...no backups.
Meanwhile, I couldn't get non-stop backup to go again...probably a mismatch in state or something?
I then dig through the non-stop backup and restore a few files that had changed since the image backup.
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