Collection Update July 2021

Teal is the best color; @ me bro

I wanted to provide a quick update on new additions to the collection. I went a little crazy with the handhelds and being able to make a profit on some of the things I have repaired. My goal is to really only use the money I get for repairing devices, that way if there is no money set aside, I do not dib into our own money! What could possibly go wrong with that!

On that note, I also purchased a Hakko FX888D soldering station and some other repair related tools to assist with this hobby. I am glad I spent the extra money to get a high quality soldering station, because this thing is amazing. I have a few things I need to pickup along the way, but that will come in time. Enough of the chatter, time for the pickups!

The pickups

Of all the pickups, I am super proud of the PS3 PHAT. I got it broken, with the “yellow light of death.” I was able to repair it, and fingers crossed the fix sticks. This particular model can play PS1, PS2, and PS3 games (physical!), so it is a huge win. I also found a super awesome source for the Pokémon HeartGold game, which if you are a collector yourself, know that the price for this game is stupid expensive. I only paid $25 for it, which compared to the going price of $120+, was a steal. I think things will slow down for some time as I continue to repair things and make some money to put back into the collection. Enjoy the terribly lit pictures!

*Not Included

So you didn’t know, eh?

Something new I was recently made aware of was that Reporting Services are no longer updated with SQL Server CUs as of SQL Server 2017. What this means is that you have to download the Reporting Services installation media SEPARATELY. That, my friends, is frustrating.

My colleague found this and shared it with me, which then prompted us to upgrade our Reporting servers to the most recent version we could. Our hope is that by updating the Reporting Service, we might be able to resolve an issue that has been plaguing us for a couple of weeks.

The Problem!

Currently, we have a production Reporting site that houses a decent amount of reports. Nothing too crazy, but enough. Supposedly after we updated to SQL Server 2017 CU23, we had users complaining about their reports not loading, and then not being able to open any report in general. Now, when I say “open a report”, I mean clicking into the folder that houses the report, and then clicking the report itself. The user does not even get to the screen where they can input their parameters; they just receive a loading screen that sits there indefinitely. We threw more RAM/CPU at the server, because it should have been provisioned higher in the first place, but that did not completely solve the issue. The work around required a full server reboot, not just a services reboot, which we found odd. 

Finally, after going down the rabit hole of why Reporting Services are now a standalone install, the report server was updated to SQL Server 2017 CU24 and updated to the latest Reporting Services version for 2017. We have not received any reports of issues, but I am not sold on us resolving the issue.

Did you look at the ReportServer Log?

Yes, we looked into the logs, and yes we looked into the executionlog view (executionlog3) for details of the reports. However, the reports never actually fail, since they never actually GET to even passing the parameters. Maybe you can sense some frustration in this post?

Anyways, hoping that resolved the issue but since it has been awhile since I posted something SQL related, I figured I would share this. Full disclosure, I did not find this info-my colleague did. So thanks to he/she who will not be named due to privacy reasons. However, thank you!

Why I Run

Recently, I started listening to a podcast called Big Ass Runner thanks to a perfectly place email ad from my favorite running apparel store (Path Projects). As someone who listens to an unhealthy amount of podcasts, this was one of the first running related podcasts that hooked me in. Between the various segments, fantastic guests who provide amazing FREE advice, and the occasional “guess the song” game, the show has one thing that really drew me in. It is a little segment they call “Why I Run.”

I Swear I Am Not Crying

The stories in this segment have been eye opening and inspirational, many of which I connect with as I am on my runs. Hearing the stories made me feel at home, and further solidified why I get out on the days where it is snowing in the morning, hot at lunch, and raining by dinner (Midwest weather). So, I wanted to talk about why I run and what it does for me. Hopefully, my story will encourage someone else to get out there to seek tranquility and self understanding.

Okay, Spill the Beans

I took up running after my daughter was born towards the end of 2019 as a way to do something for myself. I have some experience running, and I have really always enjoyed it. I did track for alittle but I was growing and it was extra painful for me to run. Little did I know I would find out later that I had developed scoliosis during my High School growth spurt. Apart from that, I ran here and there but never as serious as now.

With a new born, I mentally needed a break and needed to keep up with my physical health. With the time I had in-between naps and feedings, I would get out and go for a few miles. When I got back to work, a group of coworkers and I put together a run club (unofficially) and ran once a week all together. That went well for awhile, up until February of 2020, when the Pandemic started to surface.

Since I was keeping up with the running, it was easier to maintain the momentum while we were all home. Each run was getting easier, faster, and I started to really get that release I needed. Yet, I was not ready for how running would become of the things keeping me together until the beginning of this year.

Hitting Rock Bottom

Anxiety is a common thing, and I think most people play it off as something that happens for everyone. Which, is hard to argue as everyone has some form of anxiety throughout their day. For some, it is more than just the typical stress before speech or a first date. For others, anxiety is crippling and holds you in cloud of self doubt that can be detrimental to their mental wellbeing. I have dealt with anxiety for as long as I could remember and my family has history of individuals with crippling anxiety. While everyone handled theirs differently, I was simply not handling it well enough to keep it from impacting my life.

Overtime, I tried things to help and never found an activity or hobby that would take just even a little bit of the edge off, maybe stop me from having mood swings. Some substances helped, of course, to take the edge off but it always brought out a side of me that I was never proud of. These were all temporary fixes, and I needed something more permanent. I made it by until about mid January of 2021, when I found out my wife and I were expecting our second child. It was excellent news! Yet, I quickly began to fall into a deep hole that I only have been once In my life. I needed help, and it needed to come fast.

Something I have not mentioned yet in January, and into February, I was nursing some very painful shin splints that were making my runs too uncomfortable. I did not have that mental release, steadily, for multiple weeks. My mind needed that activity, and it was not getting it. I was just a ticking time bomb.

Back to the Grind

I got help. Found a fantastic therapist, talked to my doctor about being on anxiety/antidepressant, began meditating daily, and finally nursed my legs back to shape. Each run, my mind became clearer. I was, for the first time since I can remember, my self again. Sure, I had some hard days and nights, but I could get out on each of my runs and focus on just that…running. Each mile, each race, and each milestone I continue to hit shows me that I am stronger than I give myself credit for. Running is quite possibly the best thing I can do for myself, and I could not be more proud of how far I have come in just a short period of time. I owe a lot of my success to my fantastic support group , who have been there for me since day one, and have encouraged me to take the time to focus on myself to help become…well..myself.

Sir-slow moving traffic is on the right, not the left!

Retrobrite

Disclaimer

There are many reasons why you probably SHOULDN’T Retrobrite your yellowing retro devices. The harsh chemicals are not good for your skin, and CAN break down the plastic over time if you continue to reapply the Retrobrite over time. Also, while this does work on reducing (and sometimes removing completely) the yellowing of your retro device, the yellowing will come back. Unless you change the materials or find a way to break down the plastic on a molecular level and reconstruct with better materials, the plastic will continue to age and yellow.

What is Retrobrite?

I realized quickly when I began collecting that many of us are not the biggest fan of the look of aging retro consoles. Sometimes systems like the NES and SNES yellow severely, while others are lucky and stay minty fresh. More than likely, you will come into the hands of the less pretty ones. And if you are like me, you would love to see that original color come back to life. Enter Retrobrite.

While the original “formula” of Retrobrite is somewhere on the internet, you can read more details about where the idea came from here. I will link some videos you can watch on how you can attempt this with your own consoles. It is not perfect, but it works. And you will be shocked on where you could buy the materials you need.

My NES restoration

My first attempt at this was with my NES console and controllers. It turned out better than I thought, but it certainly has areas where it could have been much better. Here are some pictures:

So you want to try it out too?

Lucky for you, it is pretty easy as long as you have patience and the right materials. Also, it helps to set your expectations low-this is not a perfect science unfortunately. As you can see in my pictures, there are certainly some areas where the plastic did not completely transition to the original color, but it still looks better than yellow. Regardless, I suggest you check out the following people for various ways you can Retrobrite your old consoles. Please note, some of the materials you may need could be hard to find. The salon cream I ended up finding that is recommended by most people was over priced everywhere but actual beauty stores. So I strongly suggest you check the places it, you know, is actually supposed to be sold at.

The 8-Bit Guy is the place to go if you need plain and simple instructions (with multiple techniques might I add) on how to Retrobrite your consoles. There are also plenty of others on Youtube or just on various forums (reddit) that have instructions as well. But for me, I would put my money on The 8-Bit Guy.

What is next?

I have a few things that need to be repaired within my collection, so expect to see some posts (and maybe a repair video) coming in the future. Currently, I am on the hunt for a good soldering iron an materials to assist with the repairs. So stay tuned!

A New Challenger Approaches!

Collection Update

Recently, I was able to find a source that was assisting their father in selling his video game collection of 40 years. When they mentioned the size of the collection, I may have shed a tear or two. For privacy reasons, I will not disclose my source, but I will be buying from them multiple times in the future. So, why don’t we take a look at the goodies?

New Additions

What Is Next?

The SNES I acquired actually does not power on, so that is on the list to repair. Luckily, I have a few things I can do to narrow down the issue. My hunch is a bad fuse, which is an easy fix. However, I need to get my hands on a multimeter and a soldering iron. Plus, the Pokemon Special Edition Gameboy Color actually did not work originally. A battery had exploded, at one point, when it sat in the battery casing. So there was massive corrosion on the terminals and on the board. After a good cleaning, it worked like a charm. Only, the speaker was toast.

Despite the repairs that are needed, I was very please. Not pictured is another copy of Pokemon Blue I received and another Atomic Purple Gameboy Color. My goal is to probably resell/trade these in games to add to the collection. If you are interested, let me know!

Being Perfectly Human

Going to try something little different here in this blog, and really just keep myself true to focus on self care. I will post things I am doing for myself to read later, to reflect on, and to see how I grow as a person. As a perfectionist, simple tasks cause me to over think to extremes, which in turn produces anxiety. While everyone experiences anxiety and handles it their own way, I was able to hold it at bay for 20 years.

This year has been one of the hardest and life changing for me. I am changing for the better and focusing on positive aspects of life, always looking forward and not looking back. The person I am now is who I want to be.

Stardew Collector’s Edition

There should be no shock that I bought Fangamer’s Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition. I currently own the game on almost every platform, and have poured hundreds of hours into the game. It is, as you may know, one of my favorite games of all time. So, when Fangamer announced, with ConcernedApe, that they were releasing a collectors edition for the Switch…I knew I had to get it.

The Contents

Starting off, the Collector’s Edition is available for both the PC and the Nintendo Switch, appropriately priced at $72 (PC is $69). To most people, it may seem crazy to spend $72 dollars on a game that normally cost $15 (or less when on sale). However, this Collector’s Edition is not meant for the casual Stardew fan; it is for the crazy people like me who eat, sleep, and breath the game. Thankfully, Fangamer has made it possible to simply just purchase the physical edition of this game for both PC($29) and Switch($34).

So what does the $72 give you?

  1. Collector’s Box
  2. Wooden Standee
  3. Wooden Lapel Pin
  4. Junimo Comic
  5. Farm Deed
  6. Clean Cloth
  7. Physical Game and Case
  8. AN ACTUAL MANUAL!

How Is It?

After opening the Collector’s Box, which has killer artwork on it, you are presented with the physical copy of the game (which includes an actual manual, something you don’t see anymore with actual helpful information). But the exciting stuff is behind the insert holding the game.

The Farm Deed is printed on some high quality stationary/card stock that I almost do not want to touch to save its condition. The Wooden Lapel Pin, Junimo comic, and cleaning cloth all seem to be made of high quality material. The design and artwork on everything is nothing short of fine pixel art, but my favorite piece of this is the wooden standee.

It is made of high quality pine wood, and comes with a protective lay on both sides of every piece. When put together, it looks absolutely gorgeous. ConcernedApe has always done a fantastic job with Stardew Valley, and I love the collaborations he is partaking in, and hope he continues to be active with his community. I am so excited to happily place this on my shelf, along with all the contents that come with it.

There is a BOARD GAME?

Yes, there is! It was earlier this year, shortly after the 1.5 update released on consoles, that ConcernedApe dropped a bomb shell. The Stardew Valley Board Game was available for purchase through the game’s website. At the time, I was purchasing the Collectors Edition so I could not get both, which is a shame because the board game sold out like hot cakes. Luckily, ConcernedApe already announced a new printing was already underway and fans would be able to buy more in the future. You can check it out here, or simply google it to find so many raving reviews of how well put together the game is.

What is next?

I have some purchases lined up that I am excited to share with everyone, including some posts on some common repairs that can be done to older gaming consoles and handhelds. I should be posting these within the next few weeks. Until next time!

Collection Update

So I wanted to give everyone an update on where the collection is at this point. I really started collecting Nintendo consoles and games at the beginning of March, coincidently as COVID-19 was just starting to consume our lives. Little did I know it would also assist in the further ballooning of “retro” games and console prices. Luckily for me, I was able to snag all but the Wii U and SNES last year for the Nintendo consoles. 

The next focus will be on the handhelds next, but I really want to get an SNES before those prices get worse than they already are. Additionally, I am trying to snag as many of the Pokemon games that I can. That is going to also be a challenge as most of them are raising in price literally by the day.

Apart from that, I did recently purchase the Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition for the Nintendo Switch and I plan to do a post about that unboxing. Plus, I do want to show people how easy it is to retrobrite older consoles that have yellowed over the years. There are plenty of ideas in the hopper for the collection related posts, but those will ramp up as the garage sale season starts. With being fully vaccinated by end of April and working from home, I can take full advantage of the sales around me. 

happy pokemon GIF

If you know, or you yourself are looking to sell some of your older retro games, feel free to reach out to theretrodba@gmail.com!

Checking Who Be Active

After talking about Ola’s MaintenanceSolution for SQL Server, I wanted those new/accidental DBAs out there to make sure they add a very helpful (and wildly used) stored procedure to their toolbox.

sp_whoisactive

Created by Adam Machanic, sp_whoisactive provides the user with all the current active connections running at the time of execution. This can be very useful when trying to identify what may be inflicting pain on your SQL Server or, in some cases, help you figure out who keeps executing that pesky “select * From”. It is easy to use, and is well documented. You can read the documentation here or on Adam’s Github page. He has recently moved his updates to Github, so if you want the most up to date version of sp_whoisactive, go there.

As always, I do want to point out a useful parameter that pulls the sleeping spids out as well, so you can see the connections that are still open, but just waiting for the “next task.” This is an over generalization but the idea is that these could still impact your SQL Server’s performance, even if they are not active currently.

sp_whosisactive @@show_sleeping_spids = 2

We can see the session_id 54 is in a “sleeping” status. While it is not currently querying our database server, at any time, this user could execute a new query. Where this is helpful is sometimes identifying a user or even an application, with an open connection to the server that “recently” executed the query (details in the “sql_text” column of the results). We can see system data of the performance impact the query had, and in some aspect, what to expect next time they do it again. I am over generalizing here, and I am sure some of you are screaming at the screen that I am forgeting about X detail, Y context, etc. But, for those out there not “classically” trained in Database Administration, this is what they need. 

Last Bit

Finally, my last tip, just make sure to install the query on the same database (whether that is your master database or a user database created for your tools) as the rest of the stored procedures you use for the maintenance of your servers. Hopefully this quick post helped someone out there. Thanks again for reading.

http://whoisactive.com/

https://github.com/amachanic/sp_whoisactive/releases

So You Need A Maintenance Plan?


I mean it this time when I say this will be a quick one. For most DBAs, this information is already a part of your bread and butter. But for some accidental DBAs, this information may be useful.

One of the first things that was drilled into my brain was to ensure that we had a solid maintenance plan for our SQL Servers, complete with a consistent backup schedule and troubleshooting tools to assist when a problem arose. Luckily, the SQL Community has developed many free, open source tools that are widely used across many industries. Today, we are looking at one of the most importance tool of them all.

Ola Hallengren’s Maintenance Solution

https://ola.hallengren.com/

This is the first thing I deploy to my new servers after SQL Server has been installed. This sets up various jobs (backups, integrity checks, reindexing, etc) that you can easily schedule to your hearts content. The parameters are WELL documentated and the community can assist with anything you run into if you find an issue installing the plan. Out of the box, this is solid but the customization is endless. Below are the general parameters that you SHOULD look at when installing the plan, as your needs will be different than mine.

USE [master] -- Specify the database in which the objects will be created.

1) I use a separate database, like a “DBADMIN”, to store all my tools in rather than master. But if you use master, just keep it set to this.

DECLARE @CreateJobs nvarchar(max)          = 'Y'         -- Specify whether jobs should be created.

2) If this is your first install, leave this to ‘Y’. If you are updating your plan, due to an updated version pushed out by Ola, make sure to switch this to ‘N’.

DECLARE @BackupDirectory nvarchar(max)     = NULL        -- Specify the backup root directory. If no directory is specified, the default backup directory is used.

3) I strongly suggest backing up your databases to another server, and put the network path here. This will set the default backup path for your jobs. So change NULL to that path.

DECLARE @CleanupTime int                   = NULL        -- Time in hours, after which backup files are deleted. If no time is specified, then no backup files are deleted.

4) For me, 72 hours works here. But that does not mean the need of your client/your customer will be the same. Make sure to ask them! And if they don’t tell you, then maybe it is worth the effort to sit down with them to discover your RTO/RPO. (More on that in another post?)

DECLARE @OutputFileDirectory nvarchar(max) = NULL        -- Specify the output file directory. If no directory is specified, then the SQL Server error log directory is used.

5) Find a location on your server to output a seperate log of this plan. You want this, trust me. With the path, you can always take a look at the log to see why a job failed in an easier to read format 🙂

DECLARE @LogToTable nvarchar(max)          = 'Y'         -- Log commands to a table.

6) I always leave this as “Y” as there are times where I need to see what commands were passed (in case I screwed something up) in a previous job execution. The table will be created under whatever database you have installed the plan in. 

That Wasn’t So HARD!?

After that, go ahead and execute the plan and now you have a solid maintenance plan! Go ahead and adjust the schedules to your liking, and make sure to include your operator in those notifications if the job fails!