Category Archives: Ballet

Hello DNS

Last night Telstra suffered a DNS server outage, the details of which I haven’t had a chance to look into.

This revealed a weakness in our hosting setup as both primary and secondary DNS entries are currently hosted with Telstra.
I’ll now change to a different secondary and tertiary dns host.

We’re also in the process of have fibre run between hosting and office in order to provide a diverse path, carrier and technology.

I’m really trying to eliminate as many single points of failure in the entire infrastructure but it’s amazing how many things you have to cover.

I’m aiming to one day get to the point where “failure is not an emergency”.

There is a 50″ TV in my server room!

Well, yes there was a 50″ rear projection TV in my server room.
It was the foyer TV and the bulk off it stuck in to the server room.

Two problems with this.
A) heat. The unit vented into the server room.
B) size. That space has now become valuable needed space.

The server room is approximately 2.4m wide and 5m long. The raised floor and positioning of the doorway makes it just possible to squeeze in a 4th rack for new equipment.
With 1m deep racks and needing 800mm clearance at the front, that leaves only 600mm which was the space the TV was taking.

Another day at the office

Well it’s November and I’m in Sydney again setting up at the Opera House.

My theory with the weather here is that it’s halfway between the great sunshine in Queensland and the unpredictable Melbourne. It’s staying true to that, with yet another trip of low 20’s and drizzle. (And it’s 30’s in Melbourne??)

Day 1 at the house was limited somewhat by only some of the roadcases being present due to a breakdown of the Melbourne / Sydney freight train.

I filled in my afternoon with a trip down the light rail line to Lilyfield and back to Star City. I hadn’t been into the casino (or any casino) for years so I thought I’d have a look. A sad state really; the people & the casino.
After putting $7 in a slot machine I decided I’d had enough excitement.

Time to eat dinner, then back to the hotel.

Day 4?

Well I think it’s day 4 of laptop rollout.

16 units imaged, configured and ready to start going to staff tomorrow.

Steps so far

1) Pxe boot & image
2) Install Altiris client off USB key
3) Post Image script & Driver install Job. (Altiris)
4) Software install jobs (Altiris)

There are a few other nagging bits and pieces I hope finish scripting.

The corner pile of laptop boxes disappeared but have been replaced with the stands and docks.

My cardboard Fort

Well, he new computers have finally arrived. My office now looks like a child’s cardboard fort creation.

IMG00023-20091023-1948 

This is only half of the boxes. There’s still the docking stations, notebooks stands and external monitors down in the loading dock.

I have managed to create a universal image to deploy to my machines. It’s not perfect, but will work.

Due to Windows 7’s relatively good native hardware support out of the box, so long as your platform stays the same (Intel or AMD) you can use the same image.
I use Altiris Deployment Server to do the actual imaging and then deployment, making use of PXE booting to a WinPE image.
It loads the Altiris client which I then assign the imaging task to. Completes in 5 minutes.

I do then have a USB key which I plug in and run batch script to delete the local user account used for initial image setup and also load the Altiris client (seems to have vanished after Sysprep).
From here on in, it’s all hands off. Every software application and Dell driver package is a scripted task.
I simply grab appropriate software that a staff member needs as well as drivers to suit the model of laptop and assign to be deployed to that unit. (along with joining the domain and naming the computer).

Well, this is all tested with our demo models. Let’s see how it goes in practice from Monday.

Windows 7 in the Enterprise

Laptops were due for replacement at work this year so that gave me a few choices when it came to OS.
Stick with Windows XP, take a chance with Vista or bite the bullet and go straight to 7. After playing with both Beta editions and RC editions I’ve  settled on the 7 option.

For most IT people, the idea of deploying a new operating system when it’s first released is probably never really considered as a good option.
After playing with 7 on my domain for a few months, I haven’t found any reason I shouldn’t be doing this. It appears stable, doesn’t appear to be causing any compatibility or interoperability issues and has a raft of benefits over Windows XP (well there is 6 or so years between them)

As I never had to deploy Vista, working with sysprep and unattended settings files in 7 is proving to be a little bit of a challenge.
Gone are the days of a simple and straight forward GUI to generate an unattended setup file.
Microsoft does have tools like the AIK and Deployment Toolkit but these still require a large amount of reading and research to understand how they work and how to use them.
Maybe there is a good 3rd party tool out there I haven’t found yet.

One strange thing that Microsoft appears to have done with 7, is removed the ability to copy a user profile over the default user profile.
You’d commonly do this after you had customized a user profile with icons / toolbar / program settings that you want every new user logon to receive when they first logon.
I did just find a setting in sysprep that may get around this.

Anyway, my challenge for today is to have an image completed ready for deployment on the 46 new laptops which are about to land in my office.

Yaari SPAM

I’ve recently been receiving a fair few emails from Yaari.com along the lines of:

[unamed person] wants you to join Yaari!

Is [unamed] your friend?

Yes, [unamed] is my friend! <link>
No, [unamed] isn’t my friend. <link>

Please respond or [unamed] may think you said no 🙁

Thanks,

The Yaari Team

A quick Google search shows a common theme. Yaari, while seeming to be an Indian social networking site, seeming to be a big SPAM network.
It seems that when you join, you give Yaari permission to look through any connected email accounts address books and send emails on your behalf.
Not particularly nice.

What is especially bad in this case is that the [unamed person] is from a webhosting company I obtained quotes from.
They have joined a social network which is now SPAMMING their clients or potential clients.

It also seems that my address was entered into [unamed person]s Gmail account.
Why would a work contact have been entered into a personal Gmail account?

Safely on the ground

A while ago, I looked up at the ceiling at work and found myself looking at a Canon webcam.

Finally, that camera is now sitting on my desk waiting for its power pack and then a new use.
I’ll have to get into the roof cavity to track or even just pull back the cables and power pack.
IMG00025-20090113-1850

Last week I also said goodbye to the grump old AS/400 machine sitting in the way in a storage area (former server room).
IMG00023-20090109-1349 The network was a token ring network which has chunky cables and connectors (and locking clips).

(I only realised this because I recognised the connectors from the pictures on Wikipedia.)

People feared to touch these cables when it was in operation for fear of bringing the entire network down.

IMG00024-20090109-1349

I should have taken a few more photos of the AS/400 as it was incredibly modular.

Ohayou gozaimasu from Tokyo

The Ballet’s international tour this year is to the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan theatre, Japan.

I arrived with the advanced party (mechs / stage management / Operations Manager) a few days ago and had the first day in the theatre today.

What do I do on tour? Glade you asked.
It’s my job to ensure all technologies are working when traveling. I liaise with the venues about Internet connectivity so staff can connect to the VPN back in Melbourne and get email and documents and also ensure any printer or photocopier that’s toured is available, preferably over a network.

In the case of Japan, as they rely solely on a 3G mobile phone network here, I had to hire in Blackberry units and phone units as our Australian ones were not going to work.
All the units came out of the UK, with the Blackberry units UK units and sims (O2 network) and the phones 3G Nokia units with Japanese sims.

So far, so good. All the mobiles and BBs are working and Internet and printer access at the venue is sorted.
I now should have plenty of free time to explore before I leave in a few days. Or should I say, explore even more…

Yesterday I had the day free to sight-see and that I did.
I covered Shibuya, Harajuku, the IT hubs that are Shinjuku and Akihabara along with a trip on the Yurikamome over the Rainbow Bridge to the man made island of Odaiba. (no wonder I have sore feet!)
Rainbow Bridge

I hung out with Astro Boy and that strange blue guy at the Tokyo Anime Center in Akihabara and of course went to NHK Studios to say hi to Domo-Kun. (amongst other things)

Strange blue guy. Domo-Kun