My Windows Home Server is driving me crazy

About a year ago after a catastrophic data loss from my wife’s computer (which I’ll admit was largely my fault for not having a recent backup) I bought a Windows Home Server.  I have the HP EX490 and when I first set it up, did everything it was advertised to do flawless.  The setup was simple, setting up backups of all of our computers (6 of them) just worked, I had a ton of storage where I could put photos and videos – life was good from a home IT perspective.

I am not exactly sure when but several months ago I realized I was no longer able to connect to my WHS using the Windows Home Server Connector client.  This was annoying but not a complete show stopper as I was able to login via Remote Desktop Connection and everything looks pretty good.  Backups were still running, I was still able to access the shared drives normally, etc.  Just the WHS Connector wasn’t working.

Earlier this week my wife was telling the “backup disaster” story to an acquaintance and I decided to check and make sure everything is a-ok.  Much to my chagrin, it isn’t a-ok.  About two weeks ago backups stopped running! My WHS can’t seem to see all of the clients even though they are all on the same sub-net.  Every computer on the backup list is greyed out like it is offline.

I am having a real hard time finding any information online to help me sort this out and it is driving me crazy.  As best I can tell the first problem started when I switched from Time-Warner Cable Internet to AT&T Uverse.  I am not sure why this would matter since all of the PCs are still behind a router but I can’t think of anything else.  I also installed the McAfee anti-virus that comes on the HP WHS – maybe that has something to do with it as I had not installed it originally when I set it up.

I am running out of ideas – I really don’t want to reinitialize the whole thing again as I have a lot of data on the shared drives that I’d have to “park” somewhere until it was set up again.

First impressions with a Verizon MiFi

Today I got a Verizon MiFi (Novaltel Wireless MiFi 2200) to replace the AT&T Broadband card which came with my Dell E4300.  For the last couple months I have really struggled with the AT&T card and I’ve finally given up.  I think this is a Dell issue more than an AT&T issue.  Dell’s software stinks, I’ve had nothing but problems with it when I ran XP and again now that I am running Windows 7.

Even though Verizon has flooded the airwaves with their “There’s a map for that” advertising campaign I’ve been happy with AT&T’s 3G coverage.  The places I go it has worked well.  I went back to using my Express Card but ever since I broke the antenna off, it hasn’t worked very well and getting a replacement from AT&T has been difficult.

I have been holding out using a Sony-Ericsson Z750i UMTS phone as a modem in hopes that AT&T would offer the GSM version of the MiFi (Novatel Wireless MiFi 2372) but last week our AT&T rep told me they have no plans to offer anytime soon.  Bummer – the GSM version is newer, faster, and has a few more features.  So I could continue to limp along with the Z750, keep fighting with my built in card and Dell’s crappy software or I could get a MiFi from Verizon.

The MiFi is really what I wanted so I decided to drop my AT&T broadband service and get one from Verizon.  It arrived today.  Set up was pretty simple and it seemed to work fine in the office but testing in the office isn’t a real test.  I used it for a while in the car this evening waiting for my daughter to finish basketball practice and it worked well.

I have a netbook now so having a solution which I can use with my laptop, netbook, iPhone, or iPod Touch is pretty appealing to me.  Now that I have it, I am sure that AT&T will announce the GSM version of it within the next month!

Test Driving an AT&T Tilt (HTC TyYN II)

For the past 4-5 days I have been playing with an AT&T 8925 Tilt (AT&T’s version of the HTC’s TyYN II).  I am a big fan of Windows Mobile phones, I have been using one for years and I love the way Windows Mobile simply syncs to Outlook.  My life is in Outlook so getting a phone to sync with Outlook is very important to me.  Windows Mobile does it very well.

There are two versions of Windows Mobile right now – Standard and Pro which are also known as the Touchscreen and non-Touchscreen versions.  This Tilt has WinMoPro 6 on it – I haven’t upgraded it to 6.1 because it isn’t mine, I need to return it.  It belongs to the AT&T rep who calls on my employer.  I had asked her if it was ok if I updated it to 6.1 and yesterday she sent me an e-mail telling me to go ahead so I will probably do that later today.

The Touchscreen version is much different than the non-Touchscreen version and I don’t think it is better.  Years ago I had an iPAQ and the Tilt feels much more like an PDA first, phone second where as devices running the non-Touchscreen version feel like phones first, PDAs second.  While it is much easier to work with the calendar and contacts, it is much harder to use as a phone.  In fact, it is clunky.  It would be nice to try the TouchFlo interface HTC is known for but it isn’t included on the AT&T version of the phone so no luck there.

I have actually sent my Pantech Duo in for repair after using this phone – the Pantech Duo runs WinMoStd (non-Touchscreen) and it just much easier to use.  AT&T’s WindowsMobile roadmap doesn’t seem to have much on it although a guy at the local store told me they were getting a new HTC device in November.

I could get an iPhone through work but after playing with a co-workers, I am not sold on it.  The iPhone has the same issue I have with the Tilt – I don’t like using the touchscreen.  On an I phone I probably hit the delete key once for every two letters I type.  If an iPhone had a slide out keyboard like the Tilt has, I’d be all over that.

I am taking the Tilt to Europe with me next week – using it for a few days while traveling will be a real test.  After that it goes back to our AT&T rep and hopefully my Pantech Duo will be back by then.  I am kicking myself for not sending it in earlier.  Not sure why it didn’t occur to me to look into a repair.  I was hoping new phones, in particular the Sony-Ericsson Xperia X1, would be out by now but there isn’t anything, at least from AT&T, on the near horizon I am excited about.