Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Out of the mouths of babes...

My 73 year old mother in law sent me some Australian Computer humour which I thought worthy of sharing around - not so much for the humour but for the fact that she was thinking of me with a twinkle in her eye at the time:

Australian Computer Terminology

LOG ON:Adding wood to make the barbie hotter.
LOG OFF:Not adding any more wood to the barbie.
MONITOR:Keeping an eye on the barbie.
DOWNLOAD:Getting the firewood off the Ute.
HARD DRIVE:Making the trip back home without any cold tinnies.
KEYBOARD:Where you hang the Ute keys.
WINDOW:What you shut when the weather's cold.
SCREEN:What you shut in the mozzie season.
BYTE:What mozzies do.
MEGABYTE:What Townsville mozzies do.
CHIP:A bar snack.
MICROCHIP:What's left in the bag after you've eaten the chips.
MODEM:What you did to the lawns.
LAPTOP:Where the cat sleeps.
SOFTWARE:Plastic knives & forks you get at Red Rooster.
HARDWARE:Stainless steel knives & forks - from K-Mart.
MOUSE:The small rodent that eats the grain in the shed.
MAINFRAME:What holds the shed up.
WEB:What spiders make.
WEBSITE:Usually in the shed or under the verandah.
SEARCH ENGINE:What you do when the Ute won't go.
CURSOR:What you say when the Ute won't go.
YAHOO:What you say when the Ute does go.
UPGRADE:A steep hill.
SERVER:The person at the pub who brings out the counter lunch.
MAIL SERVER:The bloke at the pub who brings out the counter lunch.
USER:The neighbour who keeps borrowing things.
NETWORK:What you do when you need to repair the fishing net.
INTERNET:Where you want the fish to go.
NETSCAPE:What the fish do when they discover the hole in the net.
ONLINE:Where you hang the washing.
OFFLINE:Where the washing ends up when the pegs aren't strong enough.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Workstation Virtualisation

I'm a long-time software developer. I have a ThinkPad R52 from August 2005, the last of the IBM's. I'm in need of new hardware. Since upgrading from Ubuntu 7.10 I've been unable to properly virtualize anything (VMware went away). I want to keep running Ubuntu but am fed up with fixing hardware issues. A suggestion made to me was to buy a PowerBook Pro and virtualize my desktop.

The idea is to run a stock standard OS X PowerBook and then run my normal Ubuntu Desktop as a virtual machine. Since I'm also writing software and testing all manner of strange configurations, I can then also simply virtualize all the other things, such as Ubuntu Server installations, various pre-release versions of Ubuntu, specific client configurations, etc.

Most articles I read talk about running Windows on OS X, and I'm really not interested in that - other than to export my accounting data out of MYOB.

My personal experience of VirtualBox under Ubuntu is less than stellar. A virtual machine that crashes *ever* is not an example of a tool that I want to run in production. That's akin to a hardware failure and a cause for the return of said hardware.

I need to be able to run this workstation with an external monitor, have a full monitor view of my workstation, run other tools on the other monitor. There will be times that I expect to run my virtual machine across both monitors.

I expect that the OS X side of things takes care of wired and wireless networking, battery management, sound and bluetooth connectivity, but I don't want to run OS X applications, other than the virtualization tool of my choice. I might even launch terminal once or twice :)

Am I opening up a whole can of worms trying this, or are there people who have gone down this path and come out the other end with a better understanding of what is what?

I should note that there was an initial suggestion that I run Ubuntu natively on the PowerBook hardware, but then I'm back to where I started, dealing with crappy hardware issues, video drivers, wifi chip-sets, sleep and battery issues, screen resolution, dvd drives, etc.

I'm not interested in migrating to OS X, I have more than enough work just keeping abreast of what is happening within Ubuntu and Ubuntu-server.

While my CPU demands are not going to be significant - I don't compile much, I'm also not going to be running a high-volume web-server or a database. I cannot stand editors that take 30 seconds to load or many minutes to search for files, so there is an expectation that disk i/o is snappy and that I'm going to be able to stay with the same virtualisation tool for some time.

The actual tools I use on a daily basis are:
Thunderbird, Firefox, Eclipse, bzr, svn, cvs, mysql, apache, ssh, grep, find

Things I expect to work are:
sound, networking, dvd burner, external usb devices

Any comments, suggestions, recommended reading materials or hardware that I can trial this on?

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

IronPort integration - crap

Here's an email I sent to senderbase after banging my head on a brick wall for nearly two days with their closed-loop spam solution. You get on the list for some reason, but there's no way to get off. iiNet's solution to the problem is: "Wait and see." - as in, give it 24/48 hours from some nebulous start point, rinse and repeat.

As an IT administrator of a mail system I crashed into your solution yesterday morning at 7am. A local ISP has implemented IronPort hardware and uses as it's block list.

The ISP's response is: "That's not our problem."

Your site tells me that the reputation for my server is "poor", but doesn't indicate what caused that ranking, nor does it help me determine what to actually do about this.

The server in question sends out two email messages, once a week, to three addresses, namely, me - the administrator, and the owner of the server - using two of his own email addresses - one of which is operated by the ISP.

You've created a wonderful closed loop solution that does nothing for legitimate operators of mail services and makes it simple for the owner of the IronPort hardware to just drop problems caused by your implementation into the too hard basket.

I'm not impressed and as an IT consultant will not recommend your solution to any of my clients in SME/Gov.

I'm not going to hold my breath, but in case you're actually interested in resolving the issue, the ISP is iiNet in Australia, the trouble ticket number in their system is: 60416585

I'll not waste your time telling you about the various pieces of advice provided by iiNet, suffice to say that the problem is not because the email account is on a dynamic IP address because it's on an ADSL link. Or should the support technician have advised me that it was because of another BOFH reason, say: "BOFH excuse #246: It must have been the lightning storm we had (yesterday) (last week) (last month)"