Triage…

This weekend has certainly been interesting…

I was out on Saturday night because Leah somehow managed to get back into Ireland, so I caught up (somewhat) with her.

Sunday morning was eventful too. It seems around 4am (GMT), some Windows machine in Sago Networks started pumping out tons of NetBIOS traffic to IP subnet broadcast addresses. Why should I care about this? Well, it kept hitting icarus until /var filled up with firewall logs and all email destined for icarus started temporarily bouncing back to where it came from.

Once I noticed the problem on icarus, I made a short term solution for a few hours before having the time to do things properly, which included creating a new partition for /var/spool (I’ve started to really like using LVM for partitioning server hard disks). At least Castor was setup properly so that all email for icarus was queued, minimising the damage.

I’ve also made a slight change to my blog setup. Tom Raferty mailed me about my Mail.app gripes (or rant, if you will), since he wasn’t able to easily leave a comment. As of now, comments are freely accepted, but run through SpamAssassin, thanks to the wp-spamassassin plugin.

Second Exam…

Well, I’m finally free after my last exam yesterday. Everything went well, so I’m happy to consider myself a final year (eventually).

So, now that I have a lot more free time on my hands, I can get around to a lot of things that are on the long finger. Obviously, work on my fyp begins, as did my involvement in the Zoology Dept this morning. I eventually installed Mandrake 10.1 onto a high powered workstation, even if messing with SATA drivers, kernel recompiling and a few other tricks had to be employed.

I’m also free to start studying for the CCNA again. I also acquired a 2nd Cisco 2501 router for my Cisco hardware lab today, courtesy of Steph. Now all I need is one more 2501 (or some equivalent device capable of Ethernet and a few DTE/DCE serial links) and a Cisco switch. So far, I’ve been smart enough to not buy anything from eBay, but I may have to for a switch…

Podcasting Disappointment…

Hmmm, decided to see what all this fuss about podcasting is all about this afternoon. So I took a look at the selection on iTMS.

I downloaded the complete selection of Family Guy so called “Foxcasts” and left them on my iPod until I was commuting home this evening. I was expecting something like a few short soundbites from Family Guy, but I was wrong. Instead, I had some empolyee of Fox reading the scripts of 20 odd minute Family Guy episodes in 2 minutes or less…

If I do decide to play with Podcasts again, I’ll know not to touch “Foxcasts”…

Email on Mac OS X…

I use two email MUAs, Mutt (locally on my mail servers) for list email and a GUI one with IMAP over SSL for personal and work mail from clients. It’s important that my IMAP client does something in Mac OS X‘s dock to tell me when I have new mail.

After using Mail.app for the last few months, I’ve finally given up on it. Don’t get me wrong, it has some nice features, iSync and OS X Address Book support. Plus with a few enhancements, it can support GPG. But it’s flawed in a few other areas of importance to me. It doesn’t seem to support multiple idendities (important since I merged my personal and a work email address together), it’s quite buggy with IMAP (I can see messages in Mutt quicker than I can see them in Mail.app via IMAP) and doesn’t really let me do things like quickly change SMTP server, depending on where I am.

So, I’ve gone back to Thunderbird, which has a few of the features I need, like decent IMAP support and multiple identities. I also have GPG support by using Enigmail and quick SMTP server changing using the Buttons! extension. But Thunderbird lacks OS X integration. It can’t use the OS X Address Book or iSync, nor is it any good with a notification indicator in the Dock.

Maybe I’ll try some of the other OS X email clients, although I am quite tempted to just do something with Mutt and Postfix on OS X, combined with a Widget or even good, old biff to tell me when I have email I want to see quickly. It’s either that or some sort of LDAP based address book so I can share my OS X Address Book between Mail.app, Thunderbird and Mutt…

Speaking of Postifx, after making a slight goof when applying some of John’s Postfix Tips to Icarus last week, I’ve succumbed to yet another book buying spree on Amazon. This time, I’ve gotten The Book of Postfix and Postfix : The Definitive Guide to help make sure I’m more careful in future…

One Down, One to Go

Sat my first exam this afternoon. It went well, despite a few tough questions. Now that it’s over, I gave myself the evening off.

Unfortunately, I missed the ILUG Key Signing Party last night. :-/

At least I have been informed that there is an impromptu key signing at the SAGE-IE meeting tomorrow, so I probably haven’t missed out too badly. Plus, tomorrow’s talk by Martin is quite interesting, it’s all about VoIP and Asterisk*.

Last Friday, due to the increased DNS load on icarus, I followed through on my thought for a second server. Now, I have Castor as well, which is a UML box from Blacknight (I opted for Blacknight over ByteMark since I prefer the idea of an Irish based “box”, but I get free tech support in IRC… 🙂 )

I am finding the idea of virtual servers using UML and Xen very interesting. I’ve already decided to sit down and get Xen working to provide multiple build enviroments for my fyp. I may go even further than that and mess around with various distros under Xen/UML as well, just for fun.

Good Old Murphy

Well, after a few days away to study, life back in Dublin started to catch up with me, mainly in the form of clients needing my help.

So, after a significant catastrophe which was not repairable over the phone, I returned to Dublin this afternoon, so I can commence battle with the beast known as Eircom this week.

I’ve also learnt that my nameserver setup involving icarus, as well as 2 secondary servers servers on 2 different broadband links isn’t quite enough. The improbable scenario when both broadband links are down simultaneously occurred while I was away, prompting me to consider a dedicated secondary server, in the form of a UML, probably from Blacknight, particuarly since icarus is growing rapidly as a nameserver

At least icarus is doing so well, it’s actually generating me some money now. 🙂 Plus, having an Irish based “box” would be useful. I might even play with Asterisk* (now that I’ve subscribed to BlueFace) and nstx on the “server” as well.

Hmmm *strokey beard*

New Fangledy (Soft)Phone

I’ve heard lots of talk in recent months about VoIP. As most people know, they two main VoIP options nowadays are SIP and Skype.

I’ve played with Skype a little bit. I even bought a Skype USB Phone (my Dad wanted it), to test using SkypeOut while my parents were in Italy in June. After solving a slight hiccup connecting (it seems Italy has some unusual and badly [online] documented phone system where they usually drop the 0 before the area code, except for a few areas which keep the 0), I could call Italy quite easily. The quality was acceptable to good, but I suspect that could have been caused by my IBB link, which is known to twitch on occasions. My main thought about Skype though, is that it feels like a standard text based IM (of which I have too many accounts, 7 to be presice, although 3 of them are Jabber based – a jabber.org one, a newly active Google Talk one, and one of them doesn’t really count anyway) with voice calls stuck on as a very ugly after thought. I also not a fan of it’s P2P model, it reminds me too much of KaZaA

Now that the announced 076 PSTN prefix in Ireland is available, although in beta testing, I’ve decided to play with SIP, using Blue Face, who are quite reasonably priced, and offer tons of interesting features. If you happen to know me and have a SIP phone, try giving me a shout at 31313 at blueface.ie…

While it’s obvious Blue Face benefit people making and to some extend, receiving lots of international calls, I’m quite interested in their features such as instant redirection and the ability to use Asterisk* are quite intriguing to me. If I’m quite impressed with it, I may even consider investing in it more seriously, with a decent hardware SIP phone, obviously from eBay or somewhere…