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2014 Races, Goals and Objectives …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

This is going to be a little bit of a different year for me.  Historically I have just raced bikes with the odd running race thrown in.  This year I am going to be doing a few more running races as well as a couple of triathlons.  The triathlons are something new that I have never done before, and will be the biggest challenge training wise.  I also do not swim, so that is something I will have to learn this year.

The other change is that I am trying to get the family more involved in athletics in general.  If any of the kids get into any of the sports that I am into even better.

Planned Races:
1.       Courthouse O'Putnam 5K - Ran a 25:15
2.       Willi-Whammer Half Marathon
3.       The Battle at Burlingame 6 Hour MTB Race
4.       Whiteface 100k MTB Race
5.       28th Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon
6.       Carrabassett Backcountry Cycle Challenge
7.       Niantic Bay Triathlon
8.       Timberman IRONMAN 70.3
9.       Full Cyclocross Season

Season Goals:
1.       Stay healthy for the whole race season!
2.       Finish in the top 10 of a 100k MTB race.
3.       Top 50% in a Cat 3 ‘cross race.
4.       Have FUN!

Training Goals:
1.       Get my weight under control.  Ideally it would be between 185 and 190.
2.       Make better use of my training time to free up time to spend with the family.
3.       Improve my bike handling skills in all cycling disciplines.

2013 Racing Year Reviewed …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

My 2013 racing year can be summed up in one sentence.  It was over before it ever started.  

I had a good plan going into last year and I thought some achievable goals, but the week before my first bike race I broke a couple of ribs.  This wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time that it hurt enough to stop me from riding, training and sleeping.  While I was waiting for the ribs to heal, I decided to go see a doctor about a problem with my foot that had been bothering me off and on for about a year.  It ended up being a severe case of athlete’s foot.  He put me on oral Lamisil for 90 days.  One of the side effects, other than destroying your liver, can be fatigue.  For every hour I spent on the bike I would spend four crashed on the couch after.  It was the end of July by time I was off this stuff and another two weeks before it cleared out of my system and I could start training again. 

So what’s the first thing I did once I was training again?  Over train and end of with a pinched nerve in my neck/shoulder area that made it pretty much impossible to ride.  That took another six weeks to get straightened out.  At this point it was mid-October and the ‘cross season was in full swing and I was not even close to being in race shape.  At this point I called it a season without ever lining up for a bike race, and only one running race.

So long 2013, and I am not sad to see you go!

First Race of 2014

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Over the weekend I ran in the Courthouse O' Putnam 5k.  It was the second time I have run this and was hoping to lower my time a little.  Well I ended up 3 seconds slower than last year.  Overall I was still happy with my run.  My first and last miles were close time wise, while my second mile was almost 50 seconds slower.  The second mile is also where all the climbing is during this race.  At the end I felt that I may have held a little too much back and could have easily held the pace I was running for a second 5K.  My time was 25:15, which worked out to 8:08 minute miles.  This is well under what I need to reach my first big goal of the year, a sub two hour half marathon.

2013 Goals and Objectives …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Season goals:

  1. Podium in a 12 hour race.
  2. Top 10 in a 100k MTB race.
  3. Finish the Hampshire 100k in under 6 hours.  This will be kind of at the mercy of the weather.
  4. Get under 39:30 in the Scituate TT.  Current best is 40:40.
  5. Finish in the top 50% in a Cat 3 ‘cross race.

Training Objectives:

  1. Better use of time on the bike.
  2. Increase FTP/kg to 3+.  Currently 2.47.
  3. Improve bike handling for ‘cross.
  4. Get my race weight to under 185.

2012 Cycling Recap …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.
2012 BEvaER Cross

2012 BEvaER Cross

2012 was a good year on the bike.  I hit most of my goals for the year.  The goals that I accomplished were finishing the in top 50% in the Cat 4’s, upgrading to Cat 3 in Cyclocross and finish a Cat 3 race on the lead lap.  I also wanted to do and finish a 12 hour solo MTB race.

The two big goals that I missed were picking up an upgrade point as a Cat 4 in Cyclocross and finishing the Hampshire 100 in under 6:30.  I was on pace to easily finish the Hampshire 100 in under 6 hours until I folded the front wheel.

I ended up putting just over 5100 miles on the bike for the years, and a lot of those miles were with some really good friends.  Here is looking for many more miles in the years to come.

Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross Weekend …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Gary Gluck, in green, and Me at the start.

Going into this weekend I had a good recovery after three solid weeks of training.  It was probably the best I have felt going into a race weekend since I returned to racing last year.  Instead of the usual worries about what I hadn't done I spent the week working out some of the bugs in my bike position and getting my tires dialed in a little better.

Banging though the sand!

Saturday was going to be a hard race no matter how you looked at it.  It was a monster field, 150 riders, and there where way too many guys racing in this that had not business still being in the Cat. 4’s. I wanted to try something a little different for this race, so at the start I just plain went for it knowing full well that I was going to pay for it later in the race.  I was rewarded with a really good position after the first lap and surprisingly the cost wasn't as high as I thought it would be.  Yes, I did give up some positions later in the race, but my lap times after the first lap were 9:11, 9:13 and a final lap of 9:12.  Never expected my times to stay that consistent after the effort I put in at the start.   The one thing that I did notice that I need to work on was at the start of the second lap a teammate passed me and I was able to hang with him for the second lap.  On the third lap, every time we accelerated out of a corner a little gap would open and it got harder and harder to close it down until I finally snapped.  All of a sudden I was 19 seconds behind him.  Finished 54 out of 133.

Looking through the corner.

Sunday I knew was going to be a totally different day as soon as I started warming up.  My legs had no snap to them.  I could push a big gear, but had no cadence at all.  After the results from the day before, I decided to try the same thing and just go at the start.  They ended up being the best move of the day as there were at least three pileups right off the start.  I managed to stay clear of all the chaos and had a good position when things settled down.  Unfortunately my legs never came around, and although I kept a steady pace for the whole race I did give up positions slowly throughout the race.  I was in a group at the end of lap two and didn't hit the lap counter, but what I did get was my average speed for laps 2 and 3 was 12.9.  My average speed for the last lap was 13.2, so that still tells me that I was going as strong at the end as the beginning.  No complains there!  Finished 55 out of 132.

As for the course, it was great.  Adam Myerson and company put on a first class event and it is one that I am already looking forward to for next year.  The course was fast, dry and still challenging.  Both days had full fields in the Cat. 4’s, but the course was open enough that the racing fun.  Can you use fun to describe a ‘cross race?

Providence Cyclocross Festival ...

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Game Face

Saturday:
I went into this event without any real plan.  I had been sick all week and lost 10 pounds in the 9 days heading into the weekend.  I hopped onto the course to get in a quick pre-ride after the first race ended.  Then I took my pit wheels to the pit area.  At some point during this they called for staging and I never heard it.  By time I arrived at staging it was too late for my call-up, so they stuck me in the back.  If nothing else, it gave me a plan for the race.  Go hard until you can’t go any more, and then go harder.  It may not have been the most elegant plan, but I did learn something from it.  For the 40 minutes of the race I had an average heart rate of 182, which was higher than I thought I could maintain.  I ended up with a solid 60th out of 99 finishers.

Later in the day I found myself sitting with a bunch of great friends watching the pro race.  Holy shit those guys are fast.  In my race I am looking to go about 45 seconds a lap faster to finish near the front.  These guys were going 4 minutes a lap faster than me.  Watching them also showed me that you can really hammer through some of the corners that I was crawling through because I just didn’t feel like there was enough traction.  They seemed to trust that the bike was going to go where they pointed it.  Jeremy Powers held on to win over a determined looking Ryan Trebon.

Fly Over

Making the pass

Sunday:
I had a solid plan for the race today.  Make my call-up, start hard and suffer.  I dropped my wheels off in the pit area at the start of the race before mine and then started working on getting a good warmed up.  I made my call-up in the 5th row.  It was kind of neat being that close to the front without having to kill myself getting there.  Once the whistle sounded, I again tried to get by as many people as possible before the course narrowed.  I really worked on trying to trust my tires and drive through the corners during this race.  I have no idea where I was running position wise, but this was the first time that I could still see the leader at the end of the first lap in a race of this caliber   The next three laps where just a case of holding my position and gaining any that I could.  I had a much better sprint at the end and gained two spots in the final 100 meters to finish 34 out of 77 finishers.  It ended up being a GREAT race, and lets me know that what I worked on all summer should pay off.  This was far and away the best 'cross race that I have had.

It was great seeing the crew Saturday at the pro race and even better getting to line up with a couple of good friends and battling it out on the course.  This might be the best part of racing ‘cross.  I didn't see any pictures of the three of us together, but someone had a good one of John and Gary.

John and Gary

The Bike Rack ...

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

This is my work in progress bike rack for the motorcycle.  It is in its third version at this point.

Version 1 was mounted a little low and about killed me going through a corner.  In testing it worked good, but on the road it seems that the bike squats a little when cornering.  I stuck it going through a corner at about 45 mph.  Not a lot of fun.

Version 2 was mounted higher and seemed to work pretty good for a couple of weeks.  Then I noticed that the bike was leaning away from the motorcycle.

In version 3 we beefed up the mounting points and added a third mounting point on the back bracket.  This seems to have fixed everything.  Used it for a couple of months before removing it and having it painted.  The whole unit can be removed or installed in about 30 minutes.

Pats Peak 12 Hour Solo

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Race Start

I guess I’ll start with the course.  It was a brutal course that could have been SO much fun.  The course was 5.6 miles with 825+ feet of climbing per lap.  The climbs for the most part were technical and steep.  A fair amount of the single track on the climb was new, so it was a little soft.  They did seem to get a little better as the weekend wore on.  Once you got to the top of the climb there was a really fun section that could have been even more fun if you were not completely dead from climb.  The decent back to the start area was just technical enough to prevent you from ever getting a recovery and then right back into the climb.  This course could have been so much more enjoyable if I had only been racing 2-3 laps, not 12 hours.
Lap 1 – The race started with a 100 yard run to the bike.  Looking at the video that a friend recorded, it would seem that I was one of the last 3 or 4 people to get on my bike.  I didn’t want to bust my ass that quick into the race.  That was a big mistake, because the long climb turned into a long hike a bike in the woods.  The lap was fairly uneventful 52 minutes.
Lap 2 – At the start of the second lap I dropped in with a friend and rode with him for most of the lap.  Near the top of the climb I started to get some light cramps.  That was not a good sign, as I would be fighting them for the rest of the race.  On the decent I took a pretty good tumble when a cleat broke and I slid of the pedal.  Had to have the cleat replaced at the end of the lap.  Lap 2 was around 55 minutes.
Laps 3 – 6 – Really started to fight cramps during these laps.  They were just getting a little worst each lap, and I was taking longer and longer breaks between laps trying to get rid of cramps.
Lap 7 – I took a 2 hour break before this lap in an effort to deal with my cramping.  It didn’t work.  At the top of the climb I was hit with cramping so bad that I ended up laying on the ground still clipped into my pedals.  I had to wait for another rider to come by and ask for help getting my feet of the pedals.  After another 15 minutes of sitting there, I finally managed to get back to the start/finish area.
Lap 8 – This ended up being one of my better laps.  I was taking my time on the climb and was feeling pretty good, and wanted to keep it that way.  I was a little over ¾ of the way up the climb when my light started blinking that the battery was almost dead.  If I didn’t finish the lap, then I would be a DNF.  It was surprising how much you can ignore when you are worried about being stuck in the woods without light.

Lap Something

Tour of Battenkill Recap... 25 feet!

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Somehow I let myself get talked into racing in the Tour of Battenkill.  In hindsight it is kind of funny that I would let this be my first road race since the late 80’s.  The night before the race I got pretty much NO sleep.  It was partly nerves and partly one of the worst hotels I have ever stayed at.
The morning of the race I had a early breakfast while hoping that my race day stomach would calm down.  We lined up for our race about 9 minutes before our start time, and it was a good thing that I had a friend lined up next to my.  There were two quick runs to the restroom in that 9 minutes.  

The second the race started I calmed down completely and quickly fell into the flow of the race.  The first 10 miles was covered in a quick 24 minutes with two short punchy climbs.  I have never been a great climber, so my plan was to try and be at the front going into the climbs and give ground slowly to stay with the group.  My biggest concern was a 600 yard climb at 18 percent starting just before mile 12.  I hit the climb sitting 4th or 5th wheel which was perfect.  During the climb I was slowly giving up spots and before I knew it there was a gap between me and the group.  What I didn’t know was that the first two climbs had torn the group to shreds.  At the top of the climb the gap was about 25 feet between me and the last rider.  I spent the next five miles trying to close that slowly growing gap.  On the fourth climb starting at mile 18 someone was dropped from the group and I started working with them.  By the top of the climb at mile 20 we had become a chase group of 4, but were still losing ground.  There was another short steep dirt climb around mile 28 that ended any hope I had of getting back to the lead group.  I was dropped by the chase group and ended up doing a individual time trial for the last 34 miles.  In the end I was just over 30 minutes back from the winner, but only lost 5 minutes to the chase group by the end.

At the end I swore I would never do this race again.  By time I got home 4 hours later I decided I could be talked back into it.  The next morning I started looking at my training program to see what I needed to change to improve my performance next year.  Yeah, I’m hooked.

Some of the funny things that happen during the race was the guy that just before I caught him on Wrights Road, he got off his bike and tossed it into the woods and walked off.  There was another person bent over his bike, so cramped up he couldn’t move.  I felt pretty bad for him because I was fighting cramps myself.
Next year ...

2011 Cyclocross Season Review

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

For the most part my plan for this season was just to get back into the swing of racing.  Over the course of the season I just happened to learn quite a bit about myself in the process.  Some of the biggest surprises had to do with training.  Mainly things that I thought would work and things that actually did work.  The following is my race by race breakdown of the season and some quick thoughts on the race.

Providence Cross Fest Day 1 (77/89) 10/8/2011
Time Back: 0:09:20

Wow!  I completely forgot how fast cross races were.  Completely not ready for this.  I was the first or second to last person not lapped.

Providence Cross Fest Day 2 (62/67) 10/9/2011
Time Back: lap

This was very much a continued learning experience.  Was not ready for back to back days racing, and was so happy when the leader caught me.  It felt like the whole race was up hill in a wet spongy field.

Mansfield Hollow Cross (42/56) 10/15/2011
Time Back: lap

I had a pretty good start here, but again found my fitness lacking.  Felt pretty quick on the lower part of the course that was fairly hard, but I had nothing on the upper part of the course that was mostly open field.  Just watched people ride away from me there.  Started to see some of the areas that I needed to work on.

Cycle-Smart International Day 2 (110/135) 11/6/2011
Time Back: 0:07:03

This was the first race where I was happy with how my day went.  Started at the back, and was able to move forward for a change.  Crashed on the last lap and bend the derailleur hanger, but still finished strong.

Baystate Cyclocross Day 1 (38/57) 11/26/2011
Time Back: 0:05:29

Started in the last row and got tangled in a crash at the start.  It was lap two before I was finally able to start moving forward.  Hooked up with John Young on lap three and worked with him for the last couple of laps.  By far the best race of the season.

Baystate Cyclocross Day 2 (30/34) 11/27/2011
Time Back: 0:06:55

I was the last row at the start.  My legs never really came around.  Guess I still was not ready for the back to back race days.  Still a good day for the most part.

NBX GP of Cross Day 1 (82/111) 12/3/2011
Time Back: 0:07:26

Started near the back and moved up really good on the start.  Had a great ride going for the first two and a half laps until a pointless crash the tweaked my front wheel.  Had to ride to the pits with the front breaks released so that the wheel would turn.  During the wheel change we found that my skewers had been stolen from my pit wheels.  Quit counting at 25 places lost during the wheel change.   Had a monster lap after the wheel change.  Adrenalin can be a wonderful thing, but I popped on the last lap.  All in all a good race.

NBX GP of Cross Day 2 (64/106) 12/4/2011
Time Back: 0:05:24

Had a good start and was rode pretty good.  This was a rather uneventful race.  Faded a little at the end.  The only negative was that Bunny Boy got me at the line.  This was probably my best race of the year.

Expo Wheelmen SalvageCross (26/51) 12/10/2011
Time Back:  

FRONT ROW START!  Had a good start, unfortunately I felt awful.  I pretty much just tried to not give up spots two fast for the first couple of laps.  Felt really good for the last lap and a half, where I picked a couple spots back up.

DAS Cross 12/11/2011
Time Back: 

I was still a little tired from the day before, and it was very cold.  More or less had a good day.  I was riding much better at the end that early in the race.

New England Regional Championships Day 2 (37/61) 12/18/2011
Time Back: 0:04:58

This was the first race of the year were I started far enough forward to be called up.  It was the last row to get called up, but it was a call up!  It was VERY cold at the start, and I had not had time to pre ride the whole course, so I started easy for the first lap.  Turned it up on lap two and started moving forward.  Felt GREAT.  Crashed pretty hard on the third lap and that took a lot of the wind out of me.  Didn't start feeling good again until the last lap.  This was the first race that I actually wanted to go another couple of laps.  Great way to end the season.

Outlook 2007 Print Error

Added on by Ray Insalaco.
After installing the the monster group of patches this month we have lost the ability to print from Outlook 2007. It looks like KB2507618 was the culprit. After removing this patch we were able to print from Outlook again. This does not seem to have effected Outlook 2010.

Using 32-bit COM Call in 64-Bit Windows Application …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

This was a new problem for me since I rarely ever need to write software that calls a COM object that is running on a second machine.  I am working on a data collection system that will integrate with our ERP system and is accessing it through the API that they provide.  The ERP system that I am connecting to is a 32-bit application and it will NOT run on a 64-bit system.  There is still some legacy code that they need to get migrated, and they are working on a full 64-bit update.  In my Visual Studio 2008 project I have a reference to a dll file that exposes the API needed to access the business rules and import or export data.  If I compile the project and run it on a 64-bit system, to program runs fine until I make a call against the API.  I then get this error:

“System.DllNotFoundException: Unable to load DLL 'SERVICES': The specified module could not be found. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x8007007E)”

After digging around, I found this is because I am calling a COM object that in turn is calling a 32-bit object which is not supported.  It is the act of the COM object running in the WOW64 subsystem making a call to a 32-bit object that is causing the problem.  At lest for the application that I am working on now, I was able to tell Visual Studio that the target CPU was a x86 and then everything ran fine.  This setting can be found at Project > Properties > Compile > Advanced Compile Options

screen

Hope this helps …

Windows 7, Fully Functional …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Well at this point I have pretty much managed to get everything working on Windows 7 Professional, 64-bit.  The last piece of the puzzle was getting a working VPN connection.  Although I was not able to get my NetGear client to work, or their SSL connection to work, there is a VPN client called Shrew Soft VPN Client that works quite well with the router that we are using.  I have tested it with a FVS336G and a FVX538.  Now to take some time and get it working with my home network.

The other item that was outstanding on the get working list was the VI Client for vSphere 4.  When trying to connect to the server I was getting the message “Error parsing the server <server name> “clients.xml” file.”  There was a good workaround here.

After getting there last two items corrected, I have to say that I couldn’t be happier with the performance and stability of Windows 7.

Windows 7 Installation … (Updated)

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

I started the move to Windows 7 last night.  Just to make things interesting, I also moved to the 64 bit version.  The base installation was quick and painless.  I was installing on a Dell Latitude D630 with a nVidia video controller.

Windows 7 did a pretty good job of finding and configuring my hardware.  The only drivers that I needed were for the video controller and the finger reader.  Everything seems to be working good and the computer is running noticeable faster with a lower resource usage.

Here is a list of the software that I have had problems with:

  • Alcohol 52% – Alcohol 120% does work and they are working on a update for Alcohol 52%.  This is causing me more irritation than anything.  I have converted all my install CDs to ISO images and use Alcohol to mount them.  Update: There has been a Windows update that has corrected this problem.  See the note below.
  • Acronis True Image Echo Workstation 9.1 – I just get a message that this program will not run on Windows 7.  Nothing that I could find on the Acronis web site, but there is a new version out.  The explorer shell extension seems to be working for browsing previously created images.  I may get stuck purchasing the new version.  I use this for backup and recovery.   Update: Purchased Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Workstation and it supports Windows 7.
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition – This installs but would not run until Service Pack 1 was installed.

    Here is a list of the software that has installed without any problems:

    Note: There has been a Windows 7 update for x64 based systems that restores functionality to several programs. (KB974332)

    Product Activation Thoughts …

    Added on by Ray Insalaco.

    As I talked about in my last post, I moved to Windows 7 over the weekend.  As I was installing things, I had problems activating several applications.  Some of the companies were pretty easy to go fixed with a quick email, but some still have not been fixed.

    One application that I use is locked to a hardware key that is generated when it is first installed.  The key is transferred it the vendor, and if you reinstalled the application it compares the keys.  The funny thing is that the keys NEVER match, but a quick email to the vendor and they send a new key within a hour most times.

    Three companies allow five activations before they disable your software.   Two of the companies, Nero and Diskeeper, reset my account with a simple email.  Both companies took about two days, but the problem was fixed.  One company has basically said, too bad that is the terms of service.  I do not recall ever purchasing something that said you could not reinstall if needed on the same hardware.  That program was ScanSoft PDF Converter Pro, which has been purchased by Nuance.  I’m not sure if that has something to do with them not reactivating it or not.

    I have to say that this will make me think twice about continuing to purchase software from companies that require activation, because one day they may not be there and you will be out whatever application it was.  I know this was a large point of contention when we were getting ready to release our 911 dispatching software.  My partner wanted to lave the software call home to check and make sure that the users service contract was current.  If it was not, he wanted to shut the application down.  The problem was that were selling them a license to run the program, if they didn’t want a service contract they would not receive updates.  What he wanted was more of a SAS, software as a service, type plan.  I do believe in getting paid for commercial software, and have always used software keys to unlock applications that I have developed.  I have always tried to embed the department/dispatch centers name in the key, and used that name on any reports that are generated from the application.  It will not stop piracy, but it will look fun if every report that Town A files says Town B at the top of the report.

    I also feel to this day that I would be sitting in a prison somewhere if a dispatch center tried to dispatch apparatuses to a fire and the program would not let them, because there service contract was expired.  That idea never set right with me.

    Windows 7 Installation …

    Added on by Ray Insalaco.

    I started the move to Windows 7 last night.  Just to make things interesting, I also moved to the 64 bit version.  The base installation was quick and painless.  I was installing on a Dell Latitude D630 with a nVidia video controller.

    Windows 7 did a pretty good job of finding and configuring my hardware.  The only drivers that I needed were for the video controller and the finger reader.  Everything seems to be working good and the computer is running noticeable faster with a lower resource usage.

    Here is a list of the software that I have had problems with:

    • Alcohol 52% – Alcohol 120% does work and they are working on a update for Alcohol 52%.  This is causing me more irritation than anything.  I have converted all my install CDs to ISO images and use Alcohol to mount them.
    • Acronis True Image Echo Workstation 9.1 – I just get a message that this program will not run on Windows 7.  Nothing that I could find on the Acronis web site, but there is a new version out.  The explorer shell extension seems to be working for browsing previously created images.  I may get stuck purchasing the new version.  I use this for backup and recovery.   Update: Purchased Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Workstation and it supports Windows 7.
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition – This installs but would not run until Service Pack 1 was installed.

      Here is a list of the software that has installed without any problems:

      July Patch Cycle …

      Added on by Ray Insalaco.

      Windows Vista – 4
      Windows Server 2003 – 5
      Microsoft VirtualPC – 1
      Microsoft Office 2007 – 2
      Microsoft SQL Server 2008 – 1 (Service Pack 1, Just installed SQL 2008 last week on test server.  Update has been out since May.)

      New updates in WSUS - 19

      After a week of testing, we have not encountered any problems with the July updates and released them for installation.  I was also quite happy that I didn’t need to reboot the servers for a change.

      ERP Upgrade … (Updated)

      Added on by Ray Insalaco.

      We upgraded our ERP system about six weeks ago.  This was one of the worst upgrades that we have ever went through.  During the testing we didn’t uncover any real problems; however once we went live everything went to hell.  The upgrade was from Fourth Shift 7.4 running on MS SQL Server 2000 to Fourth Shift 7.5 running on MS SQL 2005.

      The first main part of the upgrade was the installation of MS SQL 2005.  This part went pretty quick and easy.  After uninstalling SQL 2000 and installing SQL 2005 sp2; we reattached all our databases and tested the applications that were attaching to them.  There were some problems with security setting not coming back correctly, but they were fixed without any trouble.  I really feel that SQL 2005 is a step back from SQL 2000.  In our sandbox we are using SQL 2008 which is much better than 2000 or 2005.  I can’t wait for our ERP system to start supporting SQL 2008.

      Next came the meat and potatoes of the upgrade, and that was Fourth Shift.  The installation was very easy and well documented.  It took about three hours from start to finish and we had a running system.  We upgraded a couple of workstations after to make sure that the client would also install and run.  We left the rest of the clients to be updated for the next day.  We only have twenty users on the system and them come in in the morning over a two hour period, so we can pretty much update the clients as the users are coming in.

      The first two days after the upgrade it seemed that everything was running good.  It took a couple of days to start seeing that some of the reports were not working correctly.  The sales reports were not updating correctly.  After digging around in the logs we couldn’t find anything.  There were no error and the process that updates the sales reports was reporting that it was finishing without any errors.  This is where SQL 2000 was much nicer.  There is no EASY was to look at the steps is a SSIS package.  It ended up being a problem with the upgrade problem.  The report update package was installed on the server and was running fine, except for the part were none of the steps for the package were installed.  We were issued a new licenses key file and had to reinstalled the upgrade over our current installation to get the reports working right.  This ended up taking a week to get resolved.

      Next came the first end of month.  None of our data extracts that used the general ledger would run.  It turns out that there was a problem with extracting GL data in the new version so they stopped supporting that feature of the program.  They just didn’t bother to include that little nugget in the upgrade documentation.  This works fine in a small databases, but once the extract gets over 750,000 records it quits working.  Our sandbox was only a subset of our full production database.  That may have to change going forward.  The really cool part of all this is that they have a service to convert your extracts to DTS packages that can be run directly form SQL Server.  The DTS packages run much faster then using the extract function within the ERP system.  The only problem with it is that they charge $3500 for the first extract and $200 for each additional extract.  We have 225 extracts that are used by the accounting department.  That works out to over $48,000 for them to fix something that they broke.  Not a bad racket if you can get it.  It took almost three weeks for us to recreate the primary extracts to DTS packages.  We still have a canned report that Fourth Shift generates that is not working.  We have had a open case on this item for six weeks now.  (Update) On July 14 we received a fix for one of the open issues.  It was eight weeks to fix a sorting problem in a report.

      Last night was the second end of month since the system went in.  Everything seems to have run fine so I guess we are getting all the kinks worked out.  The other thing that has happen during all of this is that our ERP vendor, was purchased by a second software company and a holding company.  That is usually not a good sign and may explain why we have had a outstanding action with them for six weeks on a report that they can reproduce the error on.

      2009 April Vacation

      Added on by Ray Insalaco.

      Although this is not in any way computer related, April was a great month.  I went to Harley-Davidson Primary Officer Training, POT, in April.  The event was held in Atlantic City this year.  Harley really knows how to put on a good event.  If you are a member of HOG and ever get the chance to attend POT jump on the chance.  The people you meet and the thing that you learn are well worth it.  It is kind of nice to know that any problems you are having in your local chapter is most likely being worked on in other chapters.

      Once that was over I rode south to my father house and spent a day there before going to visit my grandmother for a day.  I hooked out with my father again the next day and we rode over to Maggie Valley.  We then just had a good time tooling around the area and seeing the sights.  Even the ride home was fun.  I road to Blue Ridge Parkway for the first day, and only really wet day of the trip.  On the second day I started with the Skyline Parkway, scooted over to the Delaware Water Gap and then ride through the Poconos.   All in all. it was 12 days and 3500 miles of fun and sun.

      Pictures have been posted here.