Archive

Archive for June, 2006

MailSaver Problems With GroupWise 7 Resolved (sort-of)

2006-06-30 1 comment

I have received several bug reports from various MailSaver users who have been beta-testing MailSaver 4. Some of the bug reports have to do with running it in GroupWise 7.0. Unfortunately I am not able to make MailSaver 4 work properly in GroupWise 7.0 without SP1. MailSaver DOES work properly in the Windows client for GroupWise 7 SP1. I am very sorry that there is a problem with the 7.0 client, but when your system gets updated to 7.0 SP1, MailSaver will work as expected.

Thanks to all the testers for some very good feedback. I will be finalizing version 4 of MailSaver in the next week and releasing it on Novell Forge.

Categories: MailSaver

Multipathing Havoc on Bladecenter and DS4300 SAN

2006-06-30 1 comment

I have been having fun and games with a DS4300 SAN controller hooked to an IBM Bladecenter. There are a bunch of blades configured with SLES9 and VMware Server, running virtual Windows 2003 servers in this environment. When I initally set everything up, it all seemed to work ok, but now that our programming team is working on our Deltek Vision implementation, they are hitting on one of the VMs that runs MS SQL server, and it has been falling over.

The symptoms seemed like anything CPU intensive would cause the VM to drop it’s network connections. That meant that every time they executed a query against the MS SQL server from the Deltek Vision report server, the SQL server would fall off the network. I thought maybe it was a VMware issue or a Linux kernel networking driver problem, but patching and replacing drivers didn’t help. Then I was doing some other work on one of the other blades that necessitated my going into the SAN configuration tool to allocate some storage, and I noticed that some of the SAN partitions were not being hosted on their preferred SAN controllers. In the SAN, each partition can prefer to be hosted on one of the two redundant controllers. When one of the controllers or the fibre path to one of the blades is unavailable, the partitions flip over to the other path and continue to work, after a small lag. I noticed that some of the blades were trying to communicate by default to some of the storage partitions on the wrong channel, and this was causing the partitions to thrash between one controller and the other. I spent yesterday trying to figure out how to configure each blade’s dual controller to prefer the same path as the SAN controller, and today I reconfigured most of the blades to do that, and now the thrashing has stopped.

I may do a detailed write-up about how to configure IBM DS4300 SAN storage for use with a redundant path to an IBM Bladeserver next week, to share how I got this darn thing working. The fix also fixes the problems with the Windows 2003 MS SQL server virtual machine, which was the whole point to begin with.

Categories: Storage and Backup

Drayton Valley Swim Meet

2006-06-26 Leave a comment

The kids swam in the Drayton Valley swim meet this weekend. They both swam the same events, the backstroke, the 50 free and the 100 IM. Mack won all three of his events and had two out of three best times. He had a great IM, and was ahead for the whole race. He could have been disqualified for some overly-long pulls in the breaststroke, but he kind-of got lucky with that, and we talked about it afterwards so hopefully he won’t do that again. He may be able to place or possibly even win an event at provincials this year.

Emily was second in the backstroke, first in 50 free with a best time, and to everyones’ suprise including her own, first in 100 IM. She had a breakthrough swim for her, in which her breaststroke really made a leap. Her typical IM before this weekend was to get way ahead after fly, increase her lead in back, watch everyone pass her in breast, and then try to catch up in free. Saturday, she was ahead after fly, back, and breast. She was so suprised she almost stopped thinking she was in the wrong race. She was excited to have won the IM, which she has been doggedly entering herself in every meet, and losing every time before Saturday. She now has the best time in the region in her age group in 50 free, 100 free, 50 back and 100 IM, and she’s the only 10 & Under girl to have competed in the 800 free.

Drayton Valley Neptunes did a great job running the meet, and although the pool deck was small for such a large event, it still went very well. It seems like a nice little town.

Categories: Personal

Emily made the summer club All Star Team

2006-06-23 Leave a comment

Subject: 2006 ASSA All-Star Coaching Staff Information

Hello ASSA All-Star Swimmers, Parents and Coaches:

On behalf of Swim Alberta and the ASSA All Star coaching staff I would like
to congratulate the swimmers on qualifying to represent the 2006 ASSA All
Star Team. The team will be comprised of 18 swimmers representing 14 clubs
from all 6 regions.

2006 ASSA All-Star Team:
names erased ….
Emily
names erased ….

Woo Emily! Congrats!

Categories: Personal

Quickfinder Enabled on our Intranet

2006-06-23 Leave a comment

We have an internal Intranet (who doesn’t) that has been around for several years. It has all our hr, engineering discipline and social information on it. It was searchable wth HT:Dig, for a long time, but once when I was patching the server that did the searching a couple of months ago, it blew up and I wasn’t able to get it working again.

Last year, we had started to back up all our production networks over the wire to a big disk-server in one of our centralized locations. That data was made web-accessible to our network administrators using Novell NetStorage, so that they could do restores. We also have a CTO who wants to be able to search an production data in any office. We put two and two together, and set up Novell Quickfinder to automatically index the current backup, and present the results as NetStorage URLs. This gave our users the ability to search and access project data, but because of the way our eDirectory environment is configured, they could only actually retrieve data from projects in their own offices.

This week, I converted over our old HT:Dig search to use the new Quickfinder server for searching instead, on our Intranet content. I also reconfigured Quicfinder to present the search results as plain old apache URLs on it’s backup copy of the data, so that when you do a search and click a result, you get yesterday’s backed-up version. What this allows is for us to grant access to any eDirectory users to the project data by only modifying stuff in one instance of eDirectory, in the location where the backup sits.

Users can now search all our production data plus our Intranet content from one handy search page. Quickfinder is nice and fast too. The only issue we have with it is that it doesn’t index Autocad drawings, but virtually no web-search tools to that anyways.

Categories: Other Work Stuff

Barracuda SPAM firewall enabled

2006-06-21 1 comment

I changed the MX records for our email to point to our new Barracuda SPAM firewall today at 2:40 this afternoon.

spam-stats-graph.png

Bye bye SPAM!

Categories: GroupWise

Which famous leader are you?

2006-06-20 Leave a comment

This poll determines which famous leader your personality resembles. Here’s my result.

That’s better than being George Bush, Saddam Hussein, or Bill Clinton (at least it seems better to me).

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff

I wish this were true

2006-06-15 Leave a comment

Microsoft’s new Punish Your Programmer feature. If they added this, we’d all be almost happy to encounter bugs in Windows.

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff

Viruses and Crap in Windows, what can I do?

2006-06-13 Leave a comment

I was recently talking to one of the other parents from my kids’ school, and a friend of Jenn’s. She mentioned that they had just discovered that a keylogger was installed on their home computer. If you don’t know what a keylogger is, click keylogger to see the wikipedia definition. It is basically a program that watches what you are typing on your computer and sends that information to a hacker somewhere.

The keylogger was likely installed via either some ActiveX component that was on a website they visited in Internet Explorer, or in a malicious attachment they received in Outlook Express. This happened despite the fact that they have enabled automatic Windows Update, and they have a virus protection tool offered by their ISP. The person I was talking to said that the family computer geek (her brother) had suggested that they switch from Windows to Linux in order to make their computer more secure. While this will work, transitioning to Linux is daunting for non-computer-savvy people. Also, some people have Windows apps they can’t do without, despite the growing quantity of excellent software for nearly any computing task available for Linux. What can people do then to protect themselves if they still must run Windows?

Here’s my four step program for getting rid of crap on your home Windows machines:

  1. Protect Windows: Make sure you have a good virus scanner that automatically updates every day. New viruses come out very quickly, sometimes on the same day that new security vulnerabilities are discovered in Windows. You must keep your scanning tools updated regularly. Also make sure you have Windows Update configured to automatically install updates on your computer right away. That will help seal up exploitable holes in your operating system.
  2. Get Rid of Internet Explorer: In many computer-users’ minds, Internet Explorer is synonymous with “the Internet”. That is a huge fallacy. Mozilla Firefox is a superior web browser to IE in every way. It is more standards-compliant, much more secure, and more feature-rich than Internet Explorer. It is also free and it is collaboratively developed in the open, so many many eyes have reviewed its code for security risks. It can be dropped in to your computer to replace Internet Explorer in a few minutes. Go download it now from the link above and stop using Internet Explorer forever. All the popups, browser hijacks, and a lot of the spyware, adware and trojans will be history.
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  3. Get Rid of Outlook Express: The same people who think Internet Explorer is “the Internet” also tend to think that Outlook Express is the only thing out there for email. That’s also very far from the truth. For email you have a couple of choices that are better than Outlook Express. If you are willing to change your email address, you can sign up for a free Google Gmail account. Your new email address would be something@gmail.com. Gmail has excellent spam and virus filtering, and you don’t have to do anything to set it up. You just use Firefox from the previous step to get your email by going to gmail.google.com. The other nice thing about that is that your email is available to you from any computer anywhere. If you want to keep your existing email address, you can still dump Outlook Express. Those nice Mozilla people have a powerful, free, fast, secure email program for you called Thunderbird. It is developed via the same open process as Firefox, and won’t secretly install trojans, viruses and other crap on your computer without your knowledge like Outlook Express does. It has junk mail filtering, and an anti-phishing feature to protect you from email scams. Go get it here, install it, import your Outlook Express settings automatically, and get rid of almost all the rest of the viruses, spyware and trojans you are subject to.
  4. Maintain Your System: Make sure your virus scanner stays up to date. Make sure you always apply the latest Windows Update patches. If you run other Microsoft applications like Office, make sure you keep it up to date too. You might also want to consider periodically running Adaware SE from Lavasoft, a free-for-personal-use adware and spyware remover, just to be safe.

If you follow these steps, you are off to a good start with safer computing, and you are also a little bit out from under the monopolistic boot-heel of Microsoft. If you have good success with Firefox and Thunderbird, you should know that there are tons of free and open-source applications out there for Windows that you can download and install for free. You can even comfortably replace any illegal copy of Microsoft Office you might be using at home with the free, excellent office suite OpenOffice.org office suite, which is just as powerful, and completely free. It is compatible with any Microsoft Office .doc or .xls or .ppt files you might have from work or friends, and it can output directly to Adobe Acrobat format without any other tools too.

If one day you get adventurous about your computing, you could try installing Linux. A good Linux for home desktops is Ubuntu. It’s not as easy as getting and using Firefox or Thunderbird, but it’s not that hard either. You back up all your stuff from your Windows computer, download an Ubuntu install CD file, burn it to CD, and reboot to install it. When you’re done, you’ll have a complete Linux system, that by the way also includes OpenOffice.org, Firefox, and Thunderbird right out of the box. It’s a one-stop shopping experience (minus the paying for it part).

Hope this helps some of you out there.

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff

Playing With Vista

2006-06-13 3 comments

I have been doing work today on the system I installed Windows Vista Beta 2 on. I have been doing various tasks, including setting up a replica of our backup server on a Solaris machine, and reading and replying to emails, and visiting various documentation and news websites. I’ve been working with Putty SSH client on Vista, which works OK, other than the mouse cursor disappears when you mouse-over the Putty window. I also tried to install the win32 GroupWise client, but it isn’t supported on Vista yet, and won’t ship until Vista is officially released. It installs but won’t run. Update: GroupWise also won’t uninstall. Firefox works. I’ve tried using IE, and it seems OK, but it just has a klunky feel to it compared to Firefox.

The other weird thing I’ve noticed is that some websites come up not found in Vista, both in Firefox and IE, even though I can get to them in another machine sitting right next to this one on the network. One that didn’t work was gnome.org. Maybe the Vista network stack is biased against Linux sites (just kidding, it’s probably just some last-minute bugs in the tcpip stack somewhere). Microsoft’s own vistagadgets.com site was one of the ones that wouldn’t work either.

I’ve tried the insta-search thingy (don’t know what it’s called). It searches the desktop files well, but it doesn’t seem to support web browser history. I haven’t played with the multimedia apps yet. I did install iTunes, Acrobat, and flash player, and all seem to work OK, but I can’t test them fully, because sound doesn’t work on this box. It’s a recent IBM ThinkCentre, and the sound worked fine in XP, and it works in SUSE Linux and Ubuntu no problem, so I’m guessing it’s just a driver issue. IBM / Lenovo hasn’t released Vista drivers for this box yet, but it is listed on Lenovo’s site as Vista supported, so presumably before Vista ships there will be a set of drivers for it.

Suprisingly (to me at least, after reading all the steep hardware requriements for Vista) the 3D user interface features work OK on this box. I wasn’t expecting them to. The 3D stuff in SUSE Linux worked fine too, but I was expecting that the on-board Intel graphics chipset wouldn’t support Vista’s Aeroglass interface. It runs fairly smoothly, but I miss the cube-flipping multiple desktops on Linux. There doesn’t seem to be a multiple desktop feature in Vista.

Windows Mail is Outlook renamed, but it does have some better security features enabled by default. Windows Photo gallery is like Picasa lite. Windows Media Centre is the same old same old. It still supports mp3, which is a good thing, but it defaults everything to be windows media formats to get everybody used to the evil idea of DRM in their lives. I’m an iPod user so for me iTunes is where it’s at. iPods aren’t supported in Windows Media Centre. The new IE7 is IE6 with tabs and some kind of third party anti-phishing thing thrown in. It’s good to see them copying some of the good ideas in Firefox. They even have an “extensions” capability, but I doubt there is anywhere near the wealth of useful extensions for it yet that Firefox already has. It’s too early for that. I prefer Firefox.

For some reasn the Start Menu / All Programs thing is an awful non-cascading entirely new and weird self-replacing menu thing. It is extremely klunky. I can’t explain it, you’d have to see it to understand. The run command is buried under Start Menu / All Programs / Accessories. Good thing you can go Winkey-R to get the run dialog box. Explorer is a lot like Gnome’s Nautilus, which is good if you are a Linux user. There is some kind of thing called Windows Collaboration which sounds interesting, that supposedly allows you to share desktops, documents and chat wth other Vista users but I only have the one box so I can’t test it out (read: don’t feel like setting up another Vista box).

I’ve seen enough. It’s still Windows, and for me it is still about the applications I need. As long as they run, the OS doesn’t matter. The built-in applications in Windows are still very light-weight, and there are better free alternatives out there for most stuff. For people who have to use Windows due to some application dependency, Vista might prove more secure and resilient to viruses, trojans, spyware and bot-ware, but for me, I’ll stick to SUSE Linux for now. I’ll give Vista another whirl when it ships next year or whenever.

trash-windows.PNG

To the trash with you!

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff
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