Thursday, November 29, 2012

Latest First-Hand WMATA Fail: SMARTripoff cards!

OK, technically second-hand; this story comes to us courtesy of the lovely Caroline.

How's This for an Epic WMATA fail? 

I'll bullet it out for easy digestion:

  • The buses require you to pay either cash or a Smartrip card.
  • A discount is given when you use this card and a bigger one when you use the train/bus in combination. The expectation is that people don't have to use cash. WMATA is incentivizing customers to use the card.
  • Some cards it turns out, are new and apparently also incompatible with some existing card reader terminals.
  • WMATA either released these cards into the wild knowing this, or didn't bother to test.
  • WMATA has to update the terminals on buses individually to fix them.
  • WMATA has no idea which buses have the update yet and also somehow have no way to track them
  • WMATA says that in this situation, drivers are supposed to let people on for free. HOWEVER...
  • ...WMATA has not informed its drivers formally of this situation and does not know which ones know about it and which ones don't.
  • This a known issue to WMATA, and is known to affect all 20-digit cards beginning in 0167.
Let Me Count the Fails:
  1. Technology Fail: Who doesn't test card readers or firmware w/cards in the wild before they're released? How could this problem ever exist? 
  2. Asset Management Fail: I know that WMATA uses enterprise-class asset management software (IBM Maximo) because I was at a seminar with them. Given this, how is it possible that it is unknown which buses have the card readers with issues and which ones don't?
  3. Business Fail: WMATA bills SMARTrip as the easy solution and goes to great lengths to build confidence about how it works. And yet, despite putting $20 on her card this morning, Caroline was almost unable to board the bus she needs to get to work. WMATA also asked Caroline to call in to report the issue on each bus it happens on so they could track it. How is that a customer's responsibility?
  4. Communication Fail: WMATA didn't get out ahead of this one. They haven't even informed their drivers, let alone their customers, that this might be an issue. How is there not a sign on every Metro bus and a direct number to call when this sort of thing happens, given that this is a known issue?
  5. Customer Service Fail: While pleasant enough on the phone, the WMATA representative could not offer Caroline a solution. They asked her to call in and submit a support ticket with her bus number every time; however, they could not tell her what to do if a bus driver didn't let her on when her card didn't work despite her being a paying customer.
The moral of the story? If you take a bus in DC, never trust WMATA's own service offerings, or you may find yourself without a ride.

Did you have an experience similar to this? Sound off in the comments!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How To: Stop SQL Server Reporting Services from using Port 80 on your Server [Field Notes]


SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services) uses port 80 by default on any server it's installed on.

This is crazy annoying, because you may want to have web servers or other application servers that also use the default http port 80.

Running "netstat -ano" from the command line at this point usually shows you that port 80 is in use by PID 4 (the system process).

Fortunately, this isn't too hard to fix:

  • Log on to the server that hosts SSRS.
  • Go to Start --> Programs --> SQL Server 2008 R2 --> Configuration Tools --> Reporting Services Configuration Manager
  • Connect to the server in question (usually your local server)
  • Go to the "Web Service URL" section 
  • Change the TCP port to an open port other than port 80 (81 happened to work on my server) and hit "Apply"
  • Go to the "Report Manager URL" section
  • Click "Advanced"
  • Click the entry with a TCP port of 80 and then click the "Edit" button.
  • Change the "TCP Port" entry to the same thing you changed it to in the "Web Service URL" section previously and Click OK.
  • Click OK again.
At this point, running "netstat -ano" should not show an entry for port 80.

Quick Tip: Use rsync to recursively remove .svn folders from a directory [Field Notes]


I have a directory structure that contains Subversion metadata folders (folders named ".svn").

I would like to remove those folders but "svn export" won't work.


Rsync to the rescue. Let's say the folder containing .svn folder structures is named "problemfolder". Do the following:

  • In the same directory as the problem folder, create a "clean" folder to output the contents of problemfolder to eventually.
    • "mkdir problemfolder_clean"
  • Run rsync, excluding .svn folders and their contents, to copy the problem directory to the clean directory.
    • rsync -avr --exclude='.svn*' /path/to/problemfolder/ path/to/problemfolder_clean
At this point, the contents of "problemfolder" (minus the .svn folders) will be in the clean folder you created.