Archive for July, 2004

Just when you think its almost over…

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

…They pull you back in.

Its Thursday, and that represents almos the end of the 3 weeks I have been covering for the Sysadmin at this place. I have been dealing with all kinds of software, mail and network problems, but nothing out of the ordinary.  That is.. until yesterday, when one of the infrastructure servers crapped out after a reboot. Defective harddisk..  typical.

Not being able to find any sort of backup for that thing, I had to get a lift to the location in question (as I have no car), pick up the server, then had to wait an hour before I could take it back with me.  I havn’t louched it, just went strait to configuring a replacement server. Now this is above and beyond what I was hired to actually do..  you dont expect the holiday replacement admin to start replacing servers.. but no one could work and I was up to a challenge.

Spent all of yesterday preparing the server (which in reality, is a HP Vectra P3 PC), and setting it up on location, and thankfully, all of its VPN and RAS stuff worked in one go.

However, because of a very choddy logon-script implementation, still no one could work. A couple of mappings simply weren’t created in login scipt, so I spent the rest of the day modifying these on the DC, aswell as in Novell (first time actually doing Novell), and by the end of the day actually got everything working again. The line of business apps could again run properly from the Terminal Server via the VPN server.

Only to walk in this morning to find that the VPN server itself stopped working at midnight, probably due to a power-supply failure.

This means that the entire organisation now cannot use their primairy applications as well as Lotus mail, that they also run of the terminal server..

*sigh*

I just hope that with a new PS, it will run again normally… I simply dont know enough about the infrastructure here to rebuild it. (and there are no backups of the installation either).

Nothing left to do now but wait for HP’s repair guy. And then try to patch up the mess that is left.

I’ve had it with arguing about Windows XP

Thursday, July 15th, 2004

(oke, I lied, this is another semi-technical post 😉

I am sick to death arguing about Windows XP with people.

There remain people that I know, that cannot seem to let go of the idea that Windows XP is crap.

Now of course, this is a touchy subject, as a person’s definition of crap varies wildly from person to person, and its largely determined by ones own personal expleriance with the crap product in question.

(Little disclaimer, I am also a great supporter of Windows 2000, after all, the difference between XP and W2K are relativly minor on the whole)

I, for one, do not think Windows XP is crap. The reasons I like Windows XP over all prevous versions are wide and diverse, and much of it has to do with the work that I do, systems administration, and thus the level at which I use the product.
And of course there is enough wrong with Windows XP too, there will never be a 100% stable OS, or 100% compatible-with-everything OS, and Windows XP certainly has its fair share of flaws.

(And just to get the security argument out of the way: Fully patched, Windows is as secure as most other OS-es out there, but the important thing to remember here, is that XP runs on 99% of all desktops, so what is a hacker or viruswriter gonna go for first, eh? On top of that, I think that MS has made some incredible strides in security when it comes to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003)

Of all the people that I know that have an aversion to Windows XP, not one seems to be able to constructivly argue their point or opinion. I have heard people spout of a lot of nonsence about Windows, or about compatiblitiy or security, without them actually knowing what the hell they are talking about. But once you actually go an drag up facts of the matter, pull out some whitepapers or technet articles, or enterprise-level news articles about ehat is acutally the case, then suddenly, these same people cant be bothered to listen or read. They are generally ignorent of What Windows XP can actually do and actually support, and their theories are usually based on hear-say and almost always based on a very superficial understanding of how software works.

Dont get me wrong, I have no trouble with someone sticking to Windows 98 because its less of a system load than Windows XP, but dont tell me its more secure, or more stable, and dont even start about administering Windows 9x desktops in the enterprise enviroment. And I am not even talking about the integrated features they are missing out on, but then again, these people often dont have a need for remote desktop, or group policy management. But you see, these people often dont know a thing about the realities of corperate administration, remote scripting, desktop enformcement, software inventorisation, and enterprise-level security requirements. The whole argument is pointless, because these people often dont live in the same world I do, they dont keep up with what is going on out there.

The upcoming service pack 2 for windows XP is a fine example of the same thing. Mention it to these kind of people, and they either dismiss it out of hand, or say they will switch of all of the features once they have installed it, entirely missing the whole point. Of course there people dont often run Windows update either.

Again, I really woun’t mind people critisizing XP if there arguments are good, but as long as they refuse to educate themselves, and acutally try to understand what is is they are talking about, I cannot discuss their isues with them on the same level. So for now.. I will give it up.

Comparing Blog sites

Thursday, July 15th, 2004

Switching back to English language posts for the international readership (you know who you are 😉

Getting into blogging has gotten me checking out various blogging tools and sites.
I have just made a test blog at blogger.com, and I have been checking out Livejournal with the help of Steven . Because I am now a devoute user of Sharpreader for rss, I am especially interested in the rss or ATOM features of a blogging tool.

I have noticed that .text supports things like backtrack, and as a part of this can also append post responces to the rss feed. This for me is the post interesting feature, because it allows me to view comments without leaving the newsreader. All me need now in Sharpreader is the ability to comment on  posts from within the reader, what about it Luke? 😉

Considdering the sheer amout of data and posts I can find online regarding blogging technologies, I imagine that I have yet to discover the rest of the iceberg when it comes to blogging software. Can anyone recommend anything better than .text? Not that I am really complaining, but I wouldn’t mind, say, a system tray tool to post with, instead of having to visit the site every time.

I promise my next post wont be so technical 😉

Update 26/07: This page is getting quite a few hits thanks to google. To be helpfull to people looking for good blog sites, I can merely tell you that in my own experiance so far,  that the combinations of Sharpreader, Blogjet, and any .Text based blogging service, like this one, delivers the best experience. But that is based on my own mediocre experience so far.

RSS is zo verschikkelijk cool!

Wednesday, July 14th, 2004

(Met dank aan Luke Hutteman voor het eropwijzen dat ik een url-n00b ben 😉

De afgelopen paar weken probeer ik iedereen te overtuigen om RSS eens uit te proberen.

Voor diegene hier die niet weten wat het is, Breurls.org heeft een mooie uitleg ervan.
Voor een iets meer technische uitleg, moet je hier wezen.

Zelf gebruik ik Sharpreader van Luke Hutteman om me feeds te lezen, en het gevolg is dat ik bijna geen websites meer bezoek voor me nieuws, behalve als ik ernaar wordt verwezen door een feed.

Ondertussen ziet mijn Sharpreader er zo uit:

Maar  ik mis dan ook echt niets meer aan nieuws! 😀

Daarnaast ben ik iedereen aan het overtuigen om een weblog in gebruik te namen. Oke, ik loop een beetje achter de boot aan wat dit betreft, zeker als je dit soort nieuws leest. Maar de blogs die ik volg, van mensen die ik ken, hebben mij ervan overtuigd dat het een ongeevenaarde vorm van communiceren is, zoals de meeste in deze community inmiddels wel zullen weten 😉

Ik ben blij dat ik dan ook RSS en Blogging gelijktijdig heb “ontdekt“, ik ben vna nature lui, en ik zou waarschijnlijk niet te moeite nemen om al die blogs handmatig te volgen. RSS is de oplossing voor de luie surfer!  😉

All your network are belong to us.

Friday, July 2nd, 2004

Since today I am officially in charge of the network of the customer that I have been at for the last 3 weeks. For the next 3 I will be administering the most ad-hoc network I have ever seen 😉

I wont bore you with the details, but its a w2k backend, spanning 8 locations over VPN/ADSL and direct routing over ISDN, 4 of those locations mantain their own Novell trees (very hard to remotely administer), mail is LotusR5/Domino, and the client base is mostly W95/98, plus novel client. Client admin is via VNC and serveradmin via PCAnywhere.

Even though the network is complex, the infrastructure spread out, and the userbase big for a single admin (200 peeps), its been remarkably calm in the last month, I hope it stays that way!

So far I have had 2 mails about some printing issues, but its Vriday, and I am too fed-up to start maing phone calls. This is the downside of this job, the admin is also the helpdesk..  sux0r.

The great thing about being left alone to administer all this, is being able to decide for yourself how you want to do things. First thing I did was set up 2 additional pc’s for monitoring and admin work, as my current laptop belongs in the stone age and is unworkable for anyting other than this weblog, and solitaire 😉 I hope my employers pc-prive project hurries up and gets my my 3Ghz laptop soon 😀

On the home front I installed XP Service Pack 2 RC2 on my mother and sisters pc. I am curious how they will cope with the extra messages and warnings it generates when surfing. My own experiance with the SP has been nothing but positive, but I am happy I am already playing with it. The ammount of stuff it can potentially break is a lot, and am looking forward to seeing ignorrent admins get into a panic once they casually install it on all their XP clients..and suddenly cant administer anything anymore 😉

Its still my intention to have their pc’s log onto my domain over VPN, but since the trouble with my router, I have been less than enthousiastic to mess with it and open up l2tp ports..   Perhaps this weekend I will give it a shot again.