Murphys Law

I finally got someone to look at my IBB connection at home yesterday. It seems I needed a new PoE injector. Once it was replaced, I had an upstream again…

… or maybe not! It seems not only the NIC on my router, but the PCI slot on my router’s motherboard, the NIC was in got zapped. Many combinations of a new NIC and machine later, I still had not got my network up and running again. So, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and do something I was considering doing.

I’m consolidating my 2 Debian routers and my FreeBSD file server into one. The reason I ended up with 2 Debian servers was that I couldn’t have 3 NICs in a single machine (1 for the internet upstream, 1 for my wired subnet and 1 for my wireless subnet), so I resorted to 2 machines and static routes between them. Since my FreeBSD server is a beast of an Alpha machine, it currently has 2 NICs and can easily take a 3rd (and a 4th, 5th and 6th, with a few PCI slots still free!!).

This change means I have to learn a bit more about Firewalling and routing in FreeBSD (it’s currently limited to adjusting existing setups), so I’ve armed myself with an offline snapshot of the good old FreeBSD Handbook reference and my trusty USB< -->Serial adaptor (so I can console into my Alpha from my PowerBook).

Hopefully, I should have something up and running this evening so things can go back to the way they were… Ideally, I’d be doing this router setup on a Soekris box, but I don’t forsee having enough time to play with one for a few months. :-/ When I do have the time, maybe I’ll change to using a Soekris as my router.

It’s kind of obvious that working with FreeBSD has started to rub off on me. Not only am I starting to use FreeBSD more and more over Linux, since I find it much more reliable, but I’ve even started looking for BSD swag. Just yesterday, Dave gave me the EuroBSDCon t-shirt he got for me 🙂

ISP Woes…

It seems quite popular to discuss Irish ISPs at the moment. My issue with IBB is a simple one. Last Thurs, the cable between my transmitter and my router got severed during some building work. I took a look on Friday to try and fix it myself (using my shiny, new structured Cat5e cabling I’ve been installing). Cable seems fine, power is getting to the transmitter, but there is no connectivity. So I need a tech to come on site and take a look.

I called IBB, an action I loathe doing. 3 phone calls later (4 if you count listeniing to their hold music for 10 minutes this morning), I eventually got a callback from someone with useful information. It seems they can come take a look early next week. Given that I have a business line package for the home office, I’m not overly impressed by this turnaround, I’ve had to work elsewhere instead of where I’m most comfortable.

I’m less than enthusiastic about IBB after all this. Sure, they gave me a a syncronous line, although with latency and packet loss issues (which I expected, it’s wireless after all!) and a CIDR IP block, but still don’t have control over it’s DNS. I’ve also noticed that they are charging €200 a year for an IP block, which is a new little edit from when I ordered my IP block (I paid €200 setup). At least I can argue that paying for IP numbers is against RIPE regulations. 🙂 The main con I have against them is their woeful tech support.

Given the recent news in the ISP market, namely the new offerings from Magnet, offering decent speeds and realistic download caps, I guess there is a price war coming. Good, I’ll wait til the dust settles, then do a little comparison shopping to see if I can get a better deal…

Analytics Test…

Yes yes, there’s lots of talk on blogs at the moment about Google Analytics, so why am I mentioning it too?

Well, I have come across Urchin (it’s name in a past life) before, it was installed locally on servers as a part of the Ensim versions I had the unfortunate experience dealing with. Documentation was appalling, it wasn’t easy to migrate between servers, yet managers love it’s pretty little pictures so it had to stay. 😡 I wasn’t aware that Google had purchased it, that’s definitely good news. 🙂

As a little test of Urchin with all it’s new Google added goodness, I’ve enabled it on this blog as a test. Integrating it with WordPress was painless, using the Google Analyticator. I initially tried to use the plugin Michele has mentioned, but it appears to be buggy when I tried installing it. Skimming through the comments on the plugin’s homepage pointed me to another plugin, whcih I had installed and running in less than 60 seconds.

Now to see how Urchin behaves, now that it too has drunk the Cool Aid…

Never Ending…

Last week was busy, but fun.

After being quite busy early on in the week working on a college assignment I arranged to present early, I went off to the exotic location that is Athlone on Wednesday, to attend the HEAnet Networking Conference. The conference was very good. Many techy talks on a wide range of subjects from online idendities and online legal liability to RIPE NCC Whois, IPv6 and Data Retention. I’m definitely considering going next year. If for no other reason to see what the HEAnet “ninja admins” will do next… 😉

Straight from the train back to Dublin, Ciara, Dave and I went to see Elizabethtown. It was ok. Plot has the potential to be very good, but is a bit of a let down. Great soundtrack though, but that’s to be expected of a Cameron Crowe film.

The rest of the weekend was mainly spent reinstalling Windows XP onto Ciara’s laptop ad nausiam in an attempt to get it to work. Eventually I gave up, suspecting the hard disk to be the culprit, but Ciara managed to get Windows reinstalled and actually installing programs today, which was further than I got. I kept having problems after theraputic reboots for newly installed drivers. 😡

Speaking of Ciara, she collected her piece of paper from TCD today. Congratulations to her. 🙂

Entrepreneur Howto for the Techy…

Over the last few weeks, I’ve begun setting up my own company. Since I began hosting email and websites for clients in August, I decided to do things properly. I figured I should give a brief overview of the process I’ve followed, as a rough guide to any other Techy in Ireland who may be considering doing something similar.

The first step was to set myself up with Revenue Commissioners as a sole trader for tax purposes (Yes yes, I could have registered to be a limited company, but I’m not dealing with a significant ammount of monet just yet. I’ll probably see if I can convert from a sole trader to a limited liability entidy if things really grow). I decided to declare my main business as consultancy, since I have a no of clients who get me to maintain their computer(s) (and in some cases networks) and treat hosting as a seperate division, trading under a different name.

I was also advised by my “business adviser” to register myself for access to ROS to simplify tax returns. Registration for ROS can take some time though, so I was told to submit my sole trader details to ROS as soon as I received them.

After taking some time to decide upon a name for the hosting division (I’m not too happy using conall.net in the FQDN of my servers which clients are hosted on, it’s supposed to be my personal domain), I moved onto the next step, setting up RBNs for my consulting and hosting divisions (or is that businesses? Hmmm) with the CRO. This wasn’t very dfficult (except I had to hand deliver the forms this afternoon, given the whole An Post mess at the moment – why can’t UPS orFexEx take over the postal system? It would be so much better 😉 )

The next step is setting up domain name(s) for my divisions. For my consulting, I’m trying to register the RBN “Conall” (it hasn’t processed just yet), which will allow me to satisfy the IEDR regulations for me to register conall.ie. For my hosting division, I’ve sucessfully registered “Asclepian Computing Solutions” as an RBN, so I intend to register asclepian.ie. I also purchased asclepian.com/net/org/co.uk at the weekend, to keep control of my business name in different TLDs which I’d expect to trade in (and I’ll probably use the .org to publish scripts and things I’m happy to distribute)

So, I’m almost completely setup. Domain name registrations are semi-complete, I can hold off on the IEDR domains until my cash flow issues resolve themselves, so long as I have the RBNs in place. I’ve contracted my brother to design a logo for the hosting, and I’ve even setup Request Tracker for a ticket queue. So, all that’s left on the To Do list are some websites (one for general consulting and hosting info, one as a hosting FAQ and something using mod_auth_pam to write a control panel system) and I’m officially an entrepreneur.

Ack! My Backgrounds…

Hmmm, after updating my PowerBook to OS X 10.4.3 during the week, I wondered how many improvements I would notice.

The main difference I’ve noticed is that my PowerBook seems to run a lot cooler than it has since I upgraded to OS X Tiger in April. That’s a definite plus, so I’m quite happy.

The other main change I’ve noticed, I’m not so happy with. It only dawned on my this afternoon as to what it was though. My desktop background setup no longer works.

I’ve a large selectong of 300+ widescreen wallpapers I’ve collected from various sources, including Digital Blasphemy and Plasma Design and I tell OS X to rotate my background randomly every 60 seconds, which results in a pleasent morphing transition from one picture to the next (it’s very nice with my translucent Terminal.app settings 😉 ). Now 10.4.3 won’t rotate them. :-/

I guess I’m going to have to raise a thread in the Apple Support Forums to see if this is happenning to anyone else and what could re-enable the feature…

Update: Hmmm, it seems an unanticipated kernel panic and resulting reboot this evening got my backgrounds rotating again. Hooray!