family and home and infrastructure04 Aug 2013 08:21 am

This weekend, I got my wife an iMac desktop replacing her aging Windows Vista PC, which was getting long in the tooth and pokey.  This complete our migration from an all PC environment to a complete MAC world.

The process started when I replaced my laptop with a MacBook Pro.  I was typically going through a new PC laptop every 6 months.  I am hard on PC keyboards, since I learned to type on a TRS-80 which had a terrible keyboard bounce problem, so I learned to type by pressing the keys very hard.  So I would get a new Window PC laptop regularly.

Next I got my daughter a MacBook Pro when she graduated from 8th grade.  She was using one of my older PC laptops, but, wasn’t very happy with it, and asked for a Mac, so she got migrated.

My youngest son was not happy with his Windows PC. Even though he had anti-virus software on his PC, he continued to get viruses on his PC, so he asked if he could use my Macbook Air, which became his primary machine.  Even with Microsoft anti-virus installed, during his forays to Club Penguin he still managed to get virus and spyware regularly.  I have not gotten any viruses on my Mac’s as of yet which is a great plus.

My middle son asked for a MacBook Pro about in March before we went on vacation for spring break. Since he was graduating from 8th grade, his MacBook Pro became his graduation present.

So, all we had at the house was my Wife’s Vista PC, which was getting old and locking up.  During the time she was using it, I restored the machine to factory settings a few times because Windows gets pokey when things download and install from the Internet.

Before making the decision to migrate her to a iMac, I installed Windows 8 as a VM on my MacBook Pro using Parallel’s which lets you install VM’s including Windows, Limux, CentOS, etc.  I absolutely hate the Windows 8 interface.  The interface in my option has to be one of the most counter intuitive travesty’s ever created by a major software vendor. Its mind boggling how they could miss the mark so drastically.  I believe that the Windows 8 user interface was designed around their Surface tablet, but, clearly they should have had a refined user interface for PC’s versus the Surface.

I love the interface on my iPad.  Apple, with Steve Jobs as the design nazi really did an amazing job enforcing usability on all of their products.  I will be very interested to see how the interface changes with iOs 7.

So I picked up the iMac earlier in the week, unboxed it, and it literally took a few minutes to get the box configured and up and running including migrating all of my wife’s emails into Microsoft Office for the Mac.  I am still a big fan of Microsoft Office.

Conversely, I work every day with Windows 2008 servers.  While there is the issue of security vulnerabilities on Windows Servers, they still do a fine job every day supporting the IT security applications that I work with on a daily basis.  While I had the option to select the IT security software on Linux servers, running on Active Directory Domain connected servers has worked well for me over the last few years.

When my wife and daughter get back from east coast college visits this evening, she is going to be surprised to see the new ergonomic iMac sitting on her desk ready for her to start using it.

I also have a Sun workstation sitting headless in the Server room in the basement, which I have kept up and running whenever I wanted to geek out in a UNIX environment.  That is less of an issue now that I installed a VM of CentOS Linux on my Mac that I can use for the same purpose.

I think that my sentiments are very similar to others who are moving towards being dissatisfied with the Windows 8 operating system and look for alternatives.

infrastructure29 May 2013 06:33 am

I’ve had my Macbook for a few years now, and after upgrading the OS the mac has seemed to become a bit pokey. On occasion I get a spinning globe.

Since i had to take my sons macbook to the genius bar because of a tragic monitor accident I brought my mac in so they could run their proprietary diagnostic on my Macbook. It found no problems. I asked if they could upgrade the memory or replace the drive with an SSD and they said nope, they only do like kind replacements. I suppose that makes sense for Apple from an integration testing perspective. So I ordered some memory from Newegg. BUT, when I received it, I found that it was 1333 mhz memory, with the current memory being 1066 mhz. And strangely when I replaced the 2 2GB DIMMS with the 2 4GB DIMMS, they did not work. I thought that faster memory would work on a slower computer, but, that was not the case.

SO, I got an RMA for the faster memory and ordered the 8GB memory at 1066 mhz. Lets hope this works.

development and infrastructure29 Jan 2013 03:47 pm

I have been playing with an HP 1U server for the last few days, installing CentOS 6.3 on the server, and getting it ready to be staged in the Data Center as part of the Data Loss Prevention (DLP) system QA environment.

I always recommend that when setting up any type of computer system for a company you first build out a full sized QA environment. That way you can always test upgrades or troubleshoot problems in the QA environment without impacting your production system.

Its interesting that some companies don’t want to expend the extra cost of putting in a QA system, but, now a days I insist on having a full QA environment. Without having one, nothing good will come of it.

A best practice that I learned from the company I work at is very interesting. NOBODY goes into the data center during daytime business hours. And, after hours, the only people that can access the data center are people that work for the Data Center operations team. If you need access to the server, you can to use the Lights Out access program.

This best practice reminds me of a funny story for a company I was working for MANY years ago. My cube was outside of their main data center. One afternoon, there were two guys working on the electrical panel outside of the data center that had the main cut off switch for all power in the data center and the building. These two guys had a ladder, and took off the front door of the electrical panel, and for what seemed like a good idea at the time, they hung this door above the panel.

So there I was sitting in my cube, and all of a sudden, I hear a POP sound, there is PITCH BLACKNESS in the room, followed by a few clangs and all of the power goes out. My computer, the lights, everything in the building. And then, a few seconds later, emergency lighting goes on.

The panel they they perched above the main cutoff switch fell from its perch, and hit the breaker, causing all power to be cut to the data center. And because that switch was thrown, the transfer switch did not transfer power to the batteries and generator and all power in the data center to all of their computers was shut off, causing their mainframe to shut down hard, which disrupted the order entry system for all of their 375 locations around the country.

After a hard shutdown, it took them 45 minutes to bring the mainframe back up after they two electrical works debated for a few minutes about flipping the breaker back restoring power to the facility. So I can understand first hand why NOBODY goes into the data center during business hours, and after hours, only the data center operations team.

Which brings me to the part of the blog entry I wanted to blog about. Using HP Lights Out, from my desk, I can access my server as if I am sitting in front of it. I needed to do this today, because when setting up the network for the server, I must have fat fingered the default network route so I was unable to SSH into the server until I fixed the default route today.

I was telling my son yesterday that we are very fortunate today to have Google at our fingertips with manuals and instructions for virtually everything available, including how to restart your network in CentOS when you change your default route. In the old days, you had to memorize all of the useless trivia facts and esoteric UNIX commands instead of being able to look them up on the fly.

So, my CentOS server is now installed in the data center, and security patched using YUM, and is ready to have the DLP component installed on it later today and added to the DLP QA environment. Another fun day.

development and home and infrastructure28 Dec 2012 07:31 am

Time sure flies in the blogsphere as I noticed that I have not blogged about anything in about a year.  Not to say that the conversation is not occurring.  It occurs in real time through Facebook and Twitter, with thoughts or ideas that internet me getting a status on Facebook or a tweet on twitter and then, my friends and colleagues interactively discussing the topic with me.

My home office PC was having all sorts of strange problems ever since I had a power failure at my house that took out one phase of our three phase power.  Even though the computer was connected to a UPS and we have a whole house generator, the one phase being down did not cause the transfer switch to move us off grid power, and the brown out went right through my UPS, and my quad core PC started frying.  I replaced the power supply, and the video card, but, that computer was still completely screwed up.  The behavior is very strange.  At no particular interval, processes freeze on the computer. In the task manager, they are listed as “not responding”.  I reinstalled the operating system twice and it didn’t solve the issue.  So I decided to get the iMac 27.   This was one of the best computer decisions I have made in my professional career.  Its remarkable that a new computer can fill an lifetime IT guy with Glee.  After I made the decision about 6 months ago to get the new iMac, I decided to wait until Apple released the refreshed next generation iMac.  And that was also a fine decision.

The computer itself by its very design is far and beyond that of a typical Windows based PC.  While you can get these options for a Windows PC, by default you get a small wireless keyboard that has an excellent feel, a trackpad to use as a mouse and all of the technology built into the 27 inch display.

The setup process was a breeze, getting the machine on my home wireless network, and connected to the physical network.  The access point in my home office is older so its not using the latest and greatest wireless protocol so the speed is better on the wired network.  Unlike the new access point i installed downstairs near where the boys Xboxes are located.  THEY are enjoying 56MB connectivity from both of their Xboxes.

My home office computer really has only two major functions at this point.  One is using the Microsoft Office suite of software and the other quickbooks.  Microsoft Office 2011 for the MAC is great.,  And Quickbooks Mac is also an excellent release.

When I got my MacBook a few years back the genius at the Apple store recommended Parallels VM software for the mac.  It has worked out great, letting me run Windows XP so I could use Windows Media Player to watch the hundreds of movies and such I have collected over the years.  I also set up a Windows 8 VM to check it out, and I still think that the new Windows look and feel is strange.  They tip their hat to the surface tablet a bit too much for my taste for a desktop operating system.   This again smacks of Apple really understanding what a end user wants and needs to do with their computer.

And, I’m in the process of downloading the latest CentOS Linux operating systems which I’m going to slap into a new VM on my iMac.  I need to set up that operating system on a 1U server for the project I am working on at work.  I was using a shared Linux server for my QA environment for the project I am working on and was kindly asked to get off the machine since they needed it for something else.  When I requested a new Linux VM to the UNIX team, they told me that the request would cost me a charge back of $11,000 for the VM, but, if I wanted a physical 1U box, I could have that for free.   $11,000 versus free.  The free wins out.   Thats another reason why my vast experience in all aspects of IT pays off again, as I can install the operating system and stage the computer myself at my client instead of having to engage other people to help get the computer set up.

And having thew ability to throw down a Linux VM on this iMac is cool because I can test the install before going into the data center lab to put the OS on the 1U server.

So I am completely pleased with the new iMac. And will be continuing to copy over pictures and other media from my old quadcore to the 3TB hard disk on this iMac.  I was also going to look for a NAS for the house that has a RAID 1 hard disk that we can all use to back up our files at the house.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!  Hopefully it will not be another year before i blog again!

development and infrastructure04 Aug 2009 05:43 pm

A client I worked for a few years ago called me and asked if I had some availability to move PHP, GPG, and some web pages and PHP from a legacy Solaris 7 box running Netscape web server to a Solaris 10 server running Sun One Java Web server.

Of course, I say, since I like doing hands on technical work, and I always like to help out my clients.  They were interested in moving a bunch of web sites from legacy hardware in the data center to current technology to lower the TCO by spinning down the old boxes once the migration was complete.   Sounds like a good plan.

The best laid plans of mice and men begain when I went to a Sun Software repository web site and tried to find a compiled PHP library for Solaris 10 and Sun One web server.  Suprise Surprise much of the world has migrated away from Sun One web server to Apache since Apache is free and has better performance.  I’ve always been a Netscape Sun One guy, but, a developer that I respect did some performance benchmarks of Sun One webserver versus Apache and the differe in cycles were staggering.  You could support way more users on Apache then Sun One on the same class Solaris server.  That explains why much of the world has migrated to apache.

Back to my story.  No compiled library for PHP and Sun One and the NSAPI could be found, so it became software development 101 time.  I needed to build the PHP library from the source code.

Sounds simple.  Only I install the GCC package, and the compiler barfs about missing librarys.  Googling and noodling remind me that when installing solaris you could pick the base install.   Production server, database server, development server, etc.  And based on your selection, different libraries are installed on the server.

Not that GCC was being helpful.  It barfed up fur balls about missing libraries without much information.

After getting GCC going, PHP needed about a dozen other things installed before it would compile down to an executable.

The same trial and error process occured with the GPG library which provides encyption at no cost compared to the PGP solution.

Finally I got everything compiled and installed.  PHP for  NSAPI, GPG, the forms and all of the scripts and bingo, everything worked like clockwork.

It was really fun rolling up my sleeves and getting technical.  And I was happy to help out my client.

infrastructure18 Feb 2009 10:20 am

Project Managing the upgrade of DMZ Infrastructure that contains Internet facing web sites, and business critical company technology, I chaired an interesting discussion on the future vision for the DMZ infrastructure.   The tactical network guy, who did a great Cisco design, went with a robust high availability design based on Cisco technology that has been out for a quite some time with many other companies using the technology. Architecture and Engineering is moving down the path to recommend the latest release of Cisco Nexus technology.  While Cisco typically releases very robust hardware and software, are we comfortable implementing bleeding edge technology.  And, is the Cisco Nexus bleeding edge or cutting edge? My vote from the perspective of having been accountable for 5 Nine’s of available for many environments in the past, is NO, go with the older technology.  If the older version can support the needs of the business going forward for 5 years, why accept the risk associated with the implementation of cutting edge technology. Which would you recommend and why?