Update on Blossom

She’s not improving; she’s fading, and it is breaking my heart. She’ll have a few bites of the cod I am poaching for her in milk and a few chicken treats, but I can see that she’s getting weak and she’s so thin.

She’s not in pain, which I suppose is a good thing, but if she were the situation would be more clear-cut: I would have her put to sleep. I think I will have to do that this week anyway because she’s eating so little. Soon she won’t have the energy to purr and to chat to me. Her meow is still there, but it’s quieter. I keep hoping her appetite will revive and she’ll eat something a bit more substantial and so turn a corner, but it’s not going to happen.

Just as I think I’m getting used to the idea of her going it hits me again how very much I don’t want to lose her.

More on SBS and some link love

I’ve had the server up and running for a while now and it’s mostly great. However, I’m finding some random issues with emails occasionally being delayed, and emails from a couple of private mailing lists I’m subscribed to sometimes get held up or just don’t arrive, which I’d like to nail down.

On the latter, I was wondering if was to do with draconian spam filtering – I want to be able to see what’s being rejected rather than just trusting the spam filter. A quick Google took me back to a fantastic resource that I’ve used before: David Overton’s blogs. He’s employed by Microsoft and blogs on assorted Microsoft products, from Vista to enterprise software and includes some incredibly helpful walkthroughs of issues he’s solved.

Lo and behold, there was a walkthrough on how to change the spam filtering defaults and how to define a mailbox for quarantined email.

I’ve just set it up – I’ll keep you posted on how it works and whether it solves my niggle about emails from the lists not being delivered.

Blossom – an update

Took Blossom to the vet this morning and the vet gave her a good lookover and we talked about how she’d been recently. He thought he felt a mass around her stomach, so I left her with them for an x-ray and blood tests.

The flat felt very empty without her during the afternoon – even when she’s asleep I know she’s around. Which tells me that when she goes, I will definitely get another cat.

However, we’re not there yet, fortunately. The news isn’t great: she has a tumour in her liver/spleen area. The vet said they’d need to do a scan to work out whether it’s on her liver or her spleen, but I don’t think there’s much point in nailing that down as the vet and I agreed that what we should focus on is her quality of life. The good news is that it isn’t in her chest at all and the vet said he thought she’d withstand an operation, but he agreed with me that there’s not much point putting an 18-year-old cat through an operation. Clearly, if she were younger or if it would buy her another five years, I’d do it, but nothing is going to buy her another five years and I just don’t want to inflict the stress, pain and fear of an operation on her.

So she’s got some special food and has had some drugs that should spark off her appetite and certainly since she’s been home she’s been much more interested in food. Which is great – if she eats normally until the tumour starts making her life much more difficult, then we can have some good time together.

She was very wiped when she came home, though – she’d been given a very heavy-duty cocktail of valium and ketamine for the xray, and was pretty much out of it when I picked her up. When she got home she started coming to and has been staggering around a bit. The drugs have been wearing off all evening and she’s just (at 11.30) started purring, which is hugely reassuring, but I’m not surprised she’s trashed: I’ve seen humans on ketamine, and she’s a 3kg cat.

I don’t think she’s got much time left, but with care she should I hope have a good remainder of her life. When it starts going irreparably downhill, we’ll make the final trip to the vet, but I hope to have her with me for a bit longer.

Mad cat lady

Forgive me for a bit of self-indulgence, but I am worried about Blossom, my 18-year-old moggy. She’s not eating much and has lost a bit of weight. She’s turning up her nose at cat food and is showing only a passing interest in biscuits, though she has just cheered me up by having a few laps of milk and by scoffing a couple of bits of raw chicken.

She’s fine in herself: still perky, chatty and engaged, but when a cat is 18 and stops eating, you’ve got to worry. I’m due a day off on Wednesday and if she hasn’t regained a bit of appetite by then, it’s off to the vet. But I’m rather dreading that: while it’s possible that she’s just got a bit of a bug, it’s more likely that something’s really not right with her, and I just don’t want to hear it.

Spam, email, spam, email

I will blog about something other than this geekery, I promise! However, it’s occupying a lot of head- and real time at the moment, so bear with me.

I’ve run into a niggle. Yesterday morning – after I’d left home – I discovered that while email was arriving fine in my inbox and seemed to be leaving it, it wasn’t arriving at its destination. Some cursing followed, plus a bit of anguished tweeting. It was a bit of a hunch, but I wondered if it was connected to the planned outage overnight that my ISP, Be, had notified me of.

Note: I route (or at least, I did) my email through Be’s smartserver. This is to make sure that email is whitelisted as having come from a reputable, known source. I don’t have to send out via a smartserver but I risk being treated as spam: fair enough, I suppose. I did some digging around Be’s forums and discovered that there have been issues with its SMTP server in the past. One user frequently pointed users to another SMTP server that I could also use as a smartserver, so when I got home I changed the smartserver settings and bingo, email was going out again.

However, when I got up this morning, email was yet again not going out. *headdesk* I’ve disabled the smartserver and *touch wood* email is being sent again fine.

(ultrageeky alert here)
I’m wondering if it’s connected to an error reported in my overnight email from the server. I’ve tracked down the error on Microsoft’s exhaustively detailed Technet. However, as I’m discovering with Technet, it assumes a level of knowledge I don’t have as it points you to where the problem is and where you can fix it, but doesn’t walk you through the fix process. Correctly, I suppose, it assumes you sorta know what you’re doing; this stuff isn’t for amateurs.

If any experts are reading this, this is the critical error report:
“The application-specific permission settings do not grant Local Activation permission for the COM Server application with CLSID {61738644-F196-11D0-9953-00C04FD919C1} to the user NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE SID (S-1-5-20) from address LocalHost (Using LRPC). This security permission can be modified using the Component Services administrative tool.” It happened 22 times in the logging period, and it’s identified as event id 10016.

I also had one instance of event id 10010:
“The server {0B5A2C52-3EB9-470A-96E2-6C6D4570E40F} did not register with DCOM within the required timeout.”

I’m also wondering if it’s to do with the fact that I’ve let my router take back DHCP management. On that topic, I’ve finally got around to rebooting the router, which has of course fixed the network wrinkles. The Mac is behaving itself, it can see the NAS and the Airport Express is visible to the network again. Hurray.

Next on my list is spam filtering. For the time being I’m signed up to the trial for Microsoft Live OneCare, which is offered during the setup process. It provides firewall, AV, spam filtering etc, all of which is cool except for one thing: I can’t see a way to manage directly my spam filter. I need to be able to define what is and isn’t spam as I’m on a couple of private mailing lists that can generate a lot of email – sometimes 100+ totally legit mails a day. These were arriving in my inbox but they’re not now and I suspect they’ve been blacklisted. But I can’t check to see, nor can I therefore manually whitelist the address they come from.

So again, if any experts are reading this, two questions: first, is there a way to manage directly the spam filter? And if not, can you recommend a third-party solution that will give me the control over the settings I need?

Final piece of the Exchange jigsaw

Today’s achievement is that I am syncing my phone – a Palm Treo Pro running Windows Mobile 6.1 – to my Exchange server. This means that my phone and my email, contacts and calendar sync automagically, so that when a new email arrives, it’s also on my phone. If I want to add a contact, I can do it either via Outlook (or Entourage on a Mac) or via the Outlook Web Access client and again, it automagically appears on my phone. Equally, anything I do on my phone – reply to an email, enter a contact, add an appointment to my calendar – registers on the server and is reflected in Outlook, Entourage, OWA etc.

The reason I wasn’t able to do this over the weekend was because the process of getting a secure web server certificate was a little opaque, despite the wizard, in SBS. However, I had another go at the wizard this morning and it informed me – as it hadn’t done before – that I could buy the required certificate from my registrar, GoDaddy. Without it, my phone was refusing to sync, saying it couldn’t verify the kosherness of my server. You can tell web browsers to ignore that, but the phone said no.

Having realised that, it was a matter of minutes to buy the certificate, confirm my identity via an automated series of emails, download and install the certificate on the server. This is where the SBS 08 wizards really do make life easier: apparently it was a pain in the arse in SBS 03.

What this means is that browsers – both on computers and mobile – and any applications that interact with my server recognise that it is trusted and safe. I did ponder, mind you, just how “safe” this kind of “yup, this is me, this is my server, now trust me” automated process really is: if I can do this, so can anyone, including people with malign intentions. Still, the point here is that it was easy – once the wizard belatedly offered me the option to buy the certificate via my registrar. It hadn’t before and I was a bit puzzled.