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Archive for August, 2006

I think this is sad

2006-08-31 Leave a comment

NetBSD project has stagnated to the point of irrelevance. For anyone who doesn’t know what NetBSD is, it is a free, open souce computer operating system resembling UNIX, that runs on more different platforms than any other operating sysetm in the world. As a person who makes use of BSD Unix on work computers and at home every day, the NetBSD project has made a big contribution to how I work. Even every-day Windows and Mac users owe a debt of thanks to NetBSD, because the TCP/IP subsystem (and probably other things) in Windows originated in OpenBSD, which was an offshoot of NetBSD, and the Mac OS is based on FreeBSD, which is a close sibling to NetBSD.

Hopefully there will be a change in leadership in the NetBSD project, so that it will get back on track.

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff

Evil Scott

2006-08-25 1 comment

I grew my whiskers out during our vacation a few weeks ago, and when I got back I shaved it all off except the hair at the bottom of my lower lip, in what’s commonly referred to as a Soul Patch. The first time Mark from work saw me wth it, he said “Hello Scott! I mean hello Evil Scott’.

You have to be a Star Trek geek to get it.

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Photo from Wikipedia

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff

Provincials and Summer-Club Over for 2006

2006-08-21 1 comment

The grand finale of the summer-club swimming season, the Provincials, were held in Calgary at Talisman Centre Saturday and Sunday, the 19th and 20th. The kids tried hard and had some best-times and some not-so-great swims, but they had fun and I’m very proud of them. Emily had two seventh-place finishes, in the 50 back and the very competitive 25 fly. Mack was closer to 12th-15th in his swims, but he had a good swim in the fly and just OK in the 25 and 50 free and 100 IM. In the IM in particular, which was his last swim, he looked very tired. The Provincials is one of only two meets during the summer club season in Alberta that runs for two days, so it’s tough on the little kids. Mack was disappointed in his performance, but I told him you can’t have your best meet every time, and you have to just learn and move forward. Besides, Provincials was the only meet of the whole season where he didn’t win an aggregate medal, so he’s got a heck of a lot to be proud of. He also had a blast swimming on the regional relays with his compatriots from the other clubs in our region. In particular he had a good time with Shay from Drayton Valley.

Emily didn’t finish in the medals in any of her individual events or her club relays, but during the regional relays, where she swam on teams with the other fastest girls in our region, they managed to just miss bronze in the medley relay by 1/100th of a second, and they got the bronze in the free relay in another close race. She got to stand on the podium, which was thrilling for her.

Emily was pretty much the fastest nine-year-old at the provincials this year, which means that next year she should be at the top in 9-and-10 girls. Likewise, Mack was either fastest or in the top three seven-year-olds in each of his swims, which bodes well for him next year when everybody faster than him has moved up to 9-and-10.

In any case, they finished the year loving swimming more than ever, which really is the point after all. Now we get a few weeks off, which will be nice, before water polo starts up.

Categories: Personal, Swimming

MailSaver Temporary Download Link

2006-08-15 16 comments

It seems that Novell Forge is slightly broken today, and users who are trying to download the latest version of MailSaver are having problems. I have posted the latest version of MailSaver, which is MailSaver 4.0 Beta 3, here for the time being, until I can get the problem sorted out with Novell Forge.

Sorry for the problems, and thanks for your interest in MailSaver.

Categories: MailSaver

Summer Club Region B Regionals

2006-08-15 Leave a comment

The kids swam in Regionals for Region B at Fountain Park Pool on the 12th and 13th. They both did pretty well, and qualified for all four of their events in Provincials. Emily got two firsts, in 25 fly and 50 free, and two seconds, in 100 free and 50 back. The 50 free was so close that she only out-touched her rival, Ann from Hinton, by 1/100th of a second. Ann suprised the other 9 and 10 girls by pulling her meet-of-the-year out of her hat, doing all best times and winning 100 free for the first time all season.

Mack had a good day the first day, but on the second day, before he swam any events, he got his big toe jammed under the entrance door at the pool, pulling the toe-nail almost all the way off. He took a lot of encouragment and several band-aids from the lifeguard, but he still swam his last two events. He even managed a best time in 100 IM, despite swimming a lot of it with one toe sticking up out of the water. He won the 25 fly and 25 free, and was second in the 50 free and 100 IM.

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Mack (right)

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Emily (center)

We’re headed to provincials in Calgary next weekend, where they face the tough competition of the southern regions. Any top-ten finishes would be tremendous swimming for them both, since they are both in the younger age of their two-year age-groups. Emily has the best chance to actually win a medal in her 100 free, where according to best times, she is seeded in the top four or five in the province.

I spent the weekend working the elecronic results system, which is very tiring, but at least I got to be the first to see the result times from the kids’ events. We had a lot of good feedback from other clubs in the region about the way the meet was run, so that feels pretty good, because the pool is our club’s home turf.

Categories: Personal, Swimming

Wow, whatever’s wrong with Windows this week must be bad

2006-08-14 1 comment

I blogged before about the US Department of Homeland Security warning about updating Windows. Today we got email from MacAfee, our virus software provider, saying we should update all our Windows machines because something really bad is about to happen:

“Folks,

I am sending this email to urge you to please patch your systems now with MS06-040. We have had numerous conversations with customers who have informed me that they have been receiving personal phone calls from Microsoft urging them to patch now – no testing or waiting – just patch NOW. It is not often that you get personal calls from Microsoft like this. This is very serious. If you have questions, please give Microsoft a call as there are more details to this that you may need to know.

From a McAfee standpoint, I have also attached the Threat Brief that I sent out on Tuesday. It will give you a breakdown of your current Mcafee solutions & what type of protection you can expect in the event there is an exploit for this vulnerability. Pay particular attention to Host IPS, which McAfee uses internally.

Please read the information below. This is just one of many articles that you will find on the net.:

“Windows Worm Warnings No Joke

The ‘big one’ is coming. A major worm attack may be just days away, say security experts. On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security called out a rare warning, and Microsoft acknowledged that the patch should be at the top of every computer user’s or administrator’s to-do list.

Respectfully,
Robert Embree
Corporate Account Manager
McAfee, Inc.”

I’m nervous about all those blissfully unaware home computer users with their un-patched home computers that haven’t seen a security fix since they were bought for Christmas three years ago. You know there are loads of those out there.

Categories: Windows Servers

IBM Blade Fixed, Solaris Installed

2006-08-11 Leave a comment

As I mentioned previously, I was trying with no success to install Sun Solaris 06/06 onto an IBM HS20 blade in our Bladecenter. I ended up figuring out that there was something physically wrong with the blade, and that it wasn’t me or the software. Stuart called IBM’s 1-800 number yesterday, and today a nice guy from IBM support showed up, and replaced the mainboard of the blade that was acting up.

I updated the BIOS on the blade, booted it from my hard-earned Solaris installation server, and installed Solaris without a hitch. It is nice to go through all that effort, and actually correctly diagnose the problem and get it to work.

I have now finished building two Solaris blades to manage all my massive storage with the supremely cool zfs, one for my disk-to-disk backup, and one for GroupWise. That’s another check mark on my to-do list.

Windows Patch of the Day for Windows Hack of the Day

2006-08-11 Leave a comment

I spent this morning patching Windows servers for the latest hack of the day. It was a serious enough security vulnerability that the US Department of Homeland Security actually issued a statement that users should patch immediately.

Now I definitely don’t want to help terrorists use compromised Windows machines to plot terrorist acts, so personally I avoid running Windows and Microsoft software wherever possible. To do otherwise is to support terrorism (this is semi-tongue-in-cheek for you literalists). Terrorism aside, using nothing but UNIX or Linux machines makes life much easier without viruses, spyware, malware, and phishing attacks.

In the event that we have to run a server-side application that needs Windows (which seems to be happening more and more lately) we try to keep the Windows servers contained and up-to-date. Today I was patching Windows machines, and noted with dismay that we actually have eight Windows servers now. Seven of them are virtual machines, and one runs on bare iron. They tend to multiply somehow. Anyways, I patched them all, and out of the eight, one of them crashed during the Windows Update process. It crashed trying to update Windows Media Player. Why Windows Media Player can even be installed on a SERVER box is a mystery to me, but it’s there, so it has to be updated. The crash was repeatable, so I had to do a custom update, and deselect that particular patch. I’m going to see if I can uninstall Windows Media Player from that server altogether so it doesn’t need the patches.

If Microsoft ever gets Windows more secure it sure will make life a lot easier. On the other hand, I’ll just continue to run more secure systems on my own machines, and avoid all that crap altogher.

Categories: Windows Servers

Struggling With Solaris and Bladecenter

2006-08-10 Leave a comment

I have recently come to appreciate that Sun Solaris is very cool. We have decided to use it as the OS for our large-volume data storage servers (backup and archived project data). I have previously installed Solaris on one of the blades in our IBM bladecenter. The blades are HS20 type 8843 blades, which are listed as supported on Sun’s support site.

Two days ago I started trying to install Solaris on another blade, which will be the one that manages all the storage. I started by trying to use the installation DVD in the Bladecenter’s DVD drive. If I have one complaint about the Bladecenter, it is that the DVD drive is dog-slow. I don’t know why, but it just crawls. Anyways, the DVD boots, starts loading the installation program, and then the blade crashes with a processor exception being logged to the Bladecenter management module. I tried various different installation modes with the same result. That took most of Tuesday. Wednesday, I started troubleshooting the blade itself. I checked the BIOS dates against the latest from IBM and determined that there were some BIOS updates to be done. I updated everything, and re-tried the install of Solaris, which again crashed. I then carefully went through each BIOS update again, and noticed that a small error message was coming up when the Broadcom ethernet chipset BIOS update ran, saying that the NVRAM had an invalid checksum. I ran the blade’s diagnostics program, and sure enough, the ethernet chipset is toast. I asked Stuart to send the logs and serial numbers to IBM for a warranty replacement. Hopefully that’s the problem that is preventing Solaris from installing.

IBM so far has been tremendous with support (we just started buying IBM server gear this year, having grown unimpressed with HP’s support over the past couple of years). Every warranty issue we’ve had so far has been dealt with swiftly and without any hassle. We’ll see what happens when we need to actually replace the blade.

SQL Server 2000 Eval !=> SQL Server 2005 Eval

2006-08-08 Leave a comment

We are preparing to deploy Deltek Vision, and in order to evaluate everything and decide on our server configuration, we built a Vision system on VMware GSX server in our lab, and used purchased licenses for Windows 2003 Server, but an evaluation license of SQL Server 2000, and installed Deltek Vision 3 on top of that. Friday past, we wanted to upgrade to Vision 4, and SQL Server 2005. Ed is discussing our SQL Server 2005 license with our vendor to determine the most economical license that meets our requirements for the future of this system. Microsoft licensing is so complicated, VARs actually make money off of license consulting.

Anyways, since the SQL Server 2005 license purchase is still a few days away, and we wanted to get this thing upgraded last Friday, I decided to see if it was possible to upgrade SQL 2000 Server Eval version to SQL 2005 Server Eval version. The SQL Server 2005 compatibility matrix said it was possible, so I downloaded SQL Server 2005 Eval, and Bart and I tried to install it. You get through the upgrade advisor, and a whole bunch of preparatory tasks during the installation probgram, and then when you are an hour into the upgrade, it decides to tell you you can’t upgrade from one Evaluation version to the other. I went back and checked the readme and the compatibility matrix, and they both say you can. Crud.

Anyways, we still got Deltek Vision upgraded to version 4, and when the SQL Server 2005 license that we purchased from Microsoft arrives in the next few days, we’ll try again.

Categories: Other Work Stuff
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