Well, that sucks!

NBC cancels The West Wing ๐Ÿ™

I really like the West Wing. Sure, the last few seasons haven’t been as good as the brilliant first 4, but I’ve still enjoyed them. Season 7 is pretty good so far, even though there has been a big spoiler in recent weeks… ๐Ÿ˜

Other than my thoughts on that news, I’ve nothing to report. I’m currently quite busy, messing with Perl CPAN modules which can talk XMLRPC, for a college assignment on Web Services. I also have a large amount of work to do on my fyp. ๐Ÿ˜ With some will power and determination, I should be able to just get down and start getting things done quickly…

Oh, and since I don’t expect to be posting again in the next few days, Happy 21st on Friday Nรณirรญn!

RRDTool is Our Friend…

I’ve been a fan of admin statistical graphing tools such as MRTG and Smokeping for quite a while. Last June, when I decided to get Icarus, I also discovered RRDTool based graphing tools Mailgraph (which graphs stats from Postfix/Sendmail logs), Bindgraph (which graphs BIND9 query statistics) and even Queuegraph (which graphs Postfix’s various queues).

I find these graphs invaluable for keeping an eye on my server. With their help, I know the rough no of emails sent and received and the daily trend patterns on each of my servers on a daily basis. I know the rough load on each of my DNS servers, which also doubles as an indicator for brute force SSH attacks (when there’s a sharp, consistant spike of A and PTR records, it’s always a brute force attack!). So far, I’m still playing with Queuegraph, mainly because it’s not packaged for Debian yet, (although there is an ITP to package it, except I’m the one who lodged the ITP…). I see I’m not the only one who’s a fan of graph based adminning, there’s a recent(ish) article on OnLamp about the advantages of Mailgraph

One tool I have yet to find is something to graph the contents of auth.log, so I can see at a glance when there’s a brute force attack, and whether it’s occurring over SSH, IMAP, SASL or even a misguided owner of a shell account doing something with /bin/su which is looking a little suspicous. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen anything like that yet. In fact, I could very well end up writing such a script, after June, when I’m done with the whole study lark…

Speaking of scripts, I’ve found good uses for 2 scripts written by phaxx in recent times. His mailchk script is very nice for Maildir loving, shell prompt using people such as myself. His other script (which isn’t publically available, yet) that I’ve been messing around with, is a Python script recognised by all RedBrick users. It reports a user’s disk usage quota in coloured ASCII Art. It required a few tweaks and some consultation from phaxx himself, but it did eventually port over to my LVM setup on Icarus nicely… ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, back to more proactive activities I go…

Techy Goodies…

After being out of college sick for the week, I eventually got around to collecting my unclaimed packages this afternoon.

One package was a fairly basic component, a hard disk case. Except, I learnt my lesson from bad experiences the last time. When buying a disk enclosure, there is only one brand – Icy Box. So, thanks to an eBay Store, who have shiny new USB Case.

But the main package I was waiting for contained items for my fyp, including a USB SmartCard Reader and 2 GPG SmartCards. After a few minutes skimming through the GPG SmartCard Howto, I now have a new subkey, which I believe will let me sign emails with the SmartCard PIN.

This is going to be interesting to use. I think I may even be able to use a SmartCard to store an SSH key… ๐Ÿ™‚

New Year, New Beginning…

Well, I’m back from Venice. The trip was fantastic. I loved the city, for many reasons including the lack of cars and how much fun it was to get lost… ๐Ÿ™‚ Photos are up in my Flickr gallery.

Now that I’m back, work that has been enevitable has to be done. With a lot of coursework, as well as the complete coding of the fyp still to be done, I’m taking many of the tips from Time Management For System Administrators, in an attempt to make myself more organised and productive

For a start, I’ve already begun acquiring hardware for testing my project, namely a SmartCard reading Keyboard (bought cheaply off eBay – it was only 99 pence sterling plus shipping), and I have a USB SmartCard Reader and a few GPG SmartCards en route. Hopefully, they’ll be very nice to demonstrate with. Also, to aid in atmosphere during the looming coding sessions, I took the plunge this afternoon and replaced my rather ill lava lamp with a Mathmos one. ๐Ÿ™‚

Otherwise, I’ve not much to report. Decided to upgrade to WordPress 2, which was exceptionally uneventful, given I made backups of my blog vhost and DB, then rsynced the changes over and refreshed the admin panel. Even my plugins from 1.5 still work… ๐Ÿ™‚