Technology


I am looking at new and old technology

The New

I downloaded the Windows 7 public beta and loaded it on my Thinkpad T61. I was not a fan of Vista (the little bit I used it), but I am finding that Windows 7 is better. I have had very little issues with it. The only problem I had was installing the Checkpoint VPN client. I sent in a trouble ticket and Microsoft came back with a fix for issues with .msi files. I was able to load and run my VPN client with out a problem. Now I am looking at encrypting the hard drive with the built in Bitlock Drive Encryption. Has anyone had any issues with it and if so what.

The Old

I switched over the Bilancio.org mail accounts to Gmail apps a while ago and started using the Gmail interface for my main mail client, but I am missing some of the features of Thunderbird. Since Gmail has support for imap why shouldn’t I use Thunderbird?

I also started to use the web mail client also because it integrated the calendar so well, but with the lightning and the Provider for Google Calendar plugins I can get the same integration.

What do you use with Gmail based e-mail and why?


IPcop VPN issues

The other day I brought the new checkpoint firewall for the new building and tried to get the VPN tunnels up between the satellite offices and failed. At the satellite offices we use IPCop as our firewalls.

I had set up the policies on the IPCop boxes and the corresponding ones on the Checkpoint firewall. When I went to bring up the tunnels I got nothing. There was no traffic going out the Checkpoint unit and I saw nothing on the IPCop boxes. I spent 3 hours on the phone with Checkpoint and got the box reconfigured and started getting errors on the IPCop boxes but still no tunnels. The Checkpoint tech was stumped as was I. I went so far as to blame the new T-1 provider of munging my packets so they would be accepted at the other offices.

So the error I was getting on the IPCop boxes was:

packet from X.X.X.X:500: initial Main Mode message received on X.X.X.X:500 but no connection has been authorized with policy=PSK

Now most of the information on the internet talks about this being a problem with the IPCop box getting a request from a box that it isn’t expecting. Well the policy was set up right on all the boxes. I even took out the checkpoint firewall and replaced it with an IPCop box..same error. So after spending all day and most of the night I headed home.

Around 3am I woke up and started thinking about the issue. In my mind I started going over the list of all the VPNs I had set up at the time and it came to me.

I got up and headed back to the new office. When I got there I made sure that the problem was still happening.

Now I had named the VPN policy on the IPCop boxes 1200Lenox. Well the problem is…you can’t start the name of the policy with a number. So the minute I changed the policy name to l1200lenox the tunnels came right up.

So for all of you who are getting the same error make sure the name of your policy starts with a letter and not a number.


How can the NJ area System Admins help keep LOPSA-NJ going?

Last night was the August meeting of LOPSA-NJ and before hand Brian Jones and I the Co-Founders of the group sat down to figure out how to increase the meeting attendance.

We both realize that something has to be done to make the group grow. Currently we have 149 subscribers to the lopsanj mailing list, but are only getting about 4 to 15 people showing up at the meetings.

Marketing came up as a way to get the word out about the group, but before we can market the group we have to get good viable consistent topics. This seems to be an issue with all groups I have been talking to in the area. Most of them just keep pushing on there members to come up with topics. Meeting attendance

The other topic that came up last night was we don’t seem to be getting any junior admins or even any Windows admins coming to the meetings. What would bring in those admins? I know more topics geared for Windows or the junior admin. So we are back to topics.

So I ask you the NJ System Administrators what interesting projects are you working on that you want to talk about to the group. What topics do you want to hear about? How do you feel about this group as a whole? Do you feel that this is just a waste of your time? How do you think we could make the meetings better so you would come to meetings?


A cool addon to FireFox

I was surfing around today and found a great add-on for Firefox if you use Gmail. It’s called Better Gmail. It adds some nice features to Gmail. It works for both Gmail and Google Apps for Domains Gmail as well. The one thing I like that it does is make your labels collapsible when you have labels that have sub labels. It has some other nice features that I haven’t had time to play with yet. The original article I came across about this was on Lifehacker.com.


New Backend Software

If you haven’t noticed and you really shouldn’t have. I changed from Movable Type blogging software to the WordPress blog software. The main reason I changed over was because of the plugin made for WordPress and the Gallery 2 software. It made it way easier to embed Gallery into WordPress then into Movable Type. I also like how much easier it is to do maintenance on the blog and there are way more plugins for WordPress then MT. So if you have any issues please let me know.

New TV Season

Well the new TV season is starting and my DVR is working overtime.  I have found a few new shows that would be interesting and will have to check out.  That’s the beauty of haveing a great piece of equipment like the DVR.  So much easier to use and watch then a VCR.

Other then the new TV season a lot has been going on.  We have hired a new person at work to help me out and to start working on documentation and other stuff.  I had a list of stuff for him to do and he seems to be doing a great job. 

Parents came back from Turkey last weekend after a 3 week trip of the country.  They seemed to have had a good time.  Dad heads to the Cleavland clinic at the end of October for a check up on his heart stuff.

Avery started High School this year and seems to be doing well in the new school.  She also started another year of dance and is taking Jazz and Hip Hop this year.  I am sure she will do great and be one of the best in both her classes. 🙂

Carolyn is doing great and is out looking for a job. 


Is this a forshadowing of what’s to come???

Yesterday I took the day off to wait for Verizon to come to my house to install my new FIOS connection. OF course, they gave me the normal “the tech will be there between 8a and 5 pm.'” So come 7:45 AM I moved the cars out of the driveway so he could work on the wall to put the equipment in and then I hung out. I played with the dog in the back yard, I sat and played with the dog in the house. I watched TV, I also sat in the back yard and read my book. The whole time watching for a Verizon truck to stop in front of the house. Around 4:30 I thought I was going to call Verizon and see if they were over booked and were just going to bump me to the next day. I got on the phone and navigated my way through the Auto attendant from hell and got a live person whos name was John. I told him I had an order number which he took and I explained I was wondering when or if the tech was going to show up today. Well he told me to hold and he would check to see what was going on. So I listened to some really bad music on hold for about 3-5 min and John came back on and told me that the tech had been to the house but no one was home. I told him he was wrong and that no one was rang or knoked on the door. He told me there should be a note on the door….so I went to the door with the phone to look and there was no note. I even looked on my neighbors door thinking that the guy might have been knocking on the wrong door..No note. John was all I’m sorry about this and that. I asked when the tech was supposedly at my house…John was unable to tell me that. He told me someone would call me back right away and get this situation cleared up…by this time I was ready to explode…I had just wasted a vacation day and never left my property and the tech never shows up. Well I got off the phone with John and decided to wait till I got the call back…which never came…

So fast forward a few hours.. I am on my way to take the dog out for a long walk and met up with my neighbor…he had come over to see how the install had gone…I gave him the story and he started to look worried..he told me that his install for FIOS is today. I also found out that he is getting the FIOS TV as well and I was told back when I ordered FIOS that the TV wasn’t ready for my neighborhood yet. So when I got back from taking the dog for an hour hike I called the FIOS number and told them my tail and was told to call the local business office…cool I did that and got the damn auto attendant again..and finally got a nice woman who tried to help me out but the earliest date she could reschedule me for was July 30th. That I informed her was not going to work…she told me then I was going to have to call customer service..so I asked to be transferred but was informed that their hours were 8 am to 6 pm. So I now wait till the clock strikes 8 and I am going to get this all straightened out.

So stay tuned for the next installment of the FIOS install tale…….


New toy and Geocaching and the 4th of july party….

Yesterday my new toy came that I bought as my birthday gift from my
wife and daughter. I got a Garmin GPSMAP 60. It’s a nice little unit.
So I went out to find my first cache last night and struck out on it so
I moved to another one and couldn’t find that one either. I went back
this morning when there were less people around so I could look like a
fool by myself..still couldn’t find it.

After playing with the GPSr a little bit at work this afternoon I
came home and got Karma and took him to the D&R canal path where
there were 4 caches hidden. I found 2 of the 3 I was looking for. I was
very proud of myself. I got to the 3rd one and hit a wall…couldn’t
figure out where the cache was hidden and the bugs were eating me and
Karma alive so we turned around and headed back to the car. We will go
back later in the week or wait till after the 4th of July. Karma loved
it, he was able to get off the trail and wander the woods with his
human. 🙂

So we are getting ready for the party we are having on the 3rd of
July. I want to have most of the back yard ready by the end of the
weekend and really just have to get the ice and do the food prep on
Tuesday. I still have to figure out the sound system since I really
ripped it apart during the winter. We have a good number of people
coming. The guy I buy my computer stuff from is coming from Arizona for
the party as well as the regular crowd.


Going to a PDA from a PAA

While I was at the LISA conference in Washington, DC my cell phone died. I had already gone through 2 of the same model and both died a very sad death. So when I got back home from the conference I hit the Verizon store and picked up a Palm Treo 700w smart phone, the w stands for Windows based. I have been using it in combination with my PAA to keep track of my appointments and contacts and todo lists. Well I have gotten tired of taking the PAA around with me all the time so I had decided to just take the 700w around with me. The one down side to this idea was that I had to install Microsoft Outlook to sync and keep my
stuff backed up. I hate Outlook and just refused to install it. Then my buddy Brian wrote a great article about Time Management for Sysadmins using Google Calendar to sync his calendar and keep things organized. He also added a few neat things to make working electronically work out right.

OggSync
First I had to find a program that would work with Windows Mobile 5 and sync to Google calendar. I found Oggsync and it works quite well except that the free version only syncs one
calendar. So I am thinking of paying 29.95 a year so I can sync all the calendar that I have made in Google Calendar. If you know of another Palm to Google Calendar sync program that will work with Windows Mobile 5 and is free and will sync multiple calendars then please let me know.

Remembering the Milk….
The second thing Brian mentions is a great little site called Remember the Milk (RTM). It’s a todo list site that you can integrate into your Google
Calendar. The neat thing about it is you can E-mail tasks to the todo list and it will add them to it. I love things like this, it makes life so easy. I haven’t had time to really play with this service yet so when I have tried it for a bit I will do a post on it.

Google Calendar
Now I am not a big fan of big corporations that have my data stored on there servers..thus why I have my own server that does Web hosting and Mail Delivery and other stuff where my personal info will be, but I decided to use Google Calendar because they do it so well. Sure there are some issues that I hope they will fix and or implement. I will list those in a later post. It didn’t take me long to set up the Calendar the way I wanted it and at the same time I set up Google Apps for my family again more on that in a later post. Once I got things set up on the Google end I was able to sync all my info from the Treo to Google in no time. I found out that it didn’t sync things that are tags by categories other then my name. I am hoping this will be resolved if I goto the pro version of OggSync.

I am going to work with this system for 6 months or the end of the summer, if I like it I will keep on going if not then I will go back to my PAA.

Listening to: Mountain Jam – The Allman Brothers Band


New look

As you can tell I have changed the look of the website. I had been thinking about it for a while so i had some free time yesterday and mad the change. I got the design idea from a template on the movable type template contest. I took it then made some tweaks. I am also going to be upgrading the gallery program in a few days/weeks. I have also been looking for the time to start back on the genealogy project and get the family tree up to date.

If you find any problems please let me know.