Wireless mice and cordless phones

Learned something new this week about (modern) cordless phones – they can interfere with wireless mice.

Customer had a problem with their wireless mouse (mouse + dongle, rather than Bluetooth). Whenever they were using it on their desk, it would act wonky, especially if a YouTube video was running, or the computer was under similar load.

Customer tried replacing both the mouse and the mousepad (in case something was screwing with the laser) with no luck, and the mouse worked fine on my workbench. So, I went over to take a look and check for sources of wireless interference. There was nothing obvious (no microwaves in the office, wireless router was on the other side of the room, etc.), but the customer had two cordless phone base stations on the desk. I couldn’t think of anything else, so I tried unplugging them, and all of a sudden the mouse started behaving properly.

Both phones were DECT 6.0, so *in theory* should not have affected the wireless mouse. That being said, most people only keep one on their desk, so perhaps something about the two being right next to each other was causing the interference? If anybody has any, I’d love to hear some theories on the phenomenon.

A crash course in Python

Sometimes, you just need to figure out what you can do with the tools that you have available to you.

The situation: I have to check the status of a site that is on a server that I don’t control, and take various alert actions depending on specified parameters.

The tools that I have: a Linux server that I can reasonably assume to be up and available more often than the site that I’m checking on.

The fun part about this is that normally I would write a little PowerShell script, (or VBScript if I could not guarantee the presence of PowerShell) or a C# app and run it off of a Windows server. But, I don’t have a Windows server. So, that means looking for other options:

  1. Bash scripting – looked into this, unfortunately what I need to do is a little to complicated for Bash.
  2. Python scripting – much more powerful, and a reasonably familiar syntax. Yes! Lets do this!

So with the help of Google and Stack Overflow, I took a day and took a crash course in Python. I was able to set everything up to check the website, email if it met certain parameters, SMS me using Twilio if it met other parameters, and call me if there was a critical failure. All in all, not bad for what amounts to a quick and dirty script.

I’ve learned that I like working with Python, especially considering how many libraries are available for it, and will definitely consider using it for my next project. Especially if it’s something that needs to work cross-platform.

Moving on up

After spending a month trapped in certification limbo, I am happy to announce that I’ve officially finished my Windows Server 2008 certifications, giving me my MCSA: Windows Server 2008 and my MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008 certifications. This means that I just have to write two more exams to get to the Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 level, and then decide if I want to pursue an MCSE.




What was particularly fun about this set of exams was the time limit. I learned in early January that several exams that I needed to write were scheduled for retirement at the end of January. This meant that in order to get my credentials, I had to finish 5 exams in about 4 weeks. I did it by the skin of my teeth, with plenty of late nights and lots of studying.

I even learned something interesting about the Microsoft exam system. It seems that an exam’s retirement date is simply the last day that you can register to write it. You can still actually write it up to 8 weeks out (at least based on Prometric’s scheduling system), but there is no second shot if you fail. Going into this, I didn’t know that, so had to take a gamble that I would be able to write the last exam that I needed, the 70-643, which was scheduled to be retired on January 31. My options were to either write it in Kelowna on January 30, which in January is a dangerous drive from here, or to schedule it for February 4th and risk not being able to write it or get the credit.

I wasn’t willing to risk the Coquihalla in January, so I took the risk and wrote and passed the exam on February 4th. Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. It can take 7 to 10 days for Prometric to report the results to Microsoft and get the exam added to your transcript. So, I waited patiently, if anxiously, until February 20, and still had not received a response. Worried, I sent an email to the appropriate department, who, after checking into it, promised to fix the problem within 3-5 business days.

As of last night, everything has finally registered properly in the portal, so I can breathe a sigh of relief, proudly display my new credentials, and move onto the next challenge.