Archive for Uncategorized

Questions and Answers

I’ve added a Questions and Answers section at http://itadmins.org/qa . Please feel free to post your IT related questions, whether you are looking for advice on a tough job or just have a tech topic you were always curious about. As always, please be courteous to your fellow users!

IRC is back online!

I registered #itadmins on freenode.net for discussions about tech realted items. It will serve it’s purpose very soon. Check back often!

FCC Versus Comcast (i.e. Take that, Comcast, Part 2)

I am amazed at the semantics as much as everyone else.  The FCC order blocking traffic shaping has been overturned.    Does this mark the end of Net Neutrallity? Maybe.  In a statement on Broadband.gov ,  Austin Schlick, General Councel for the FCC, is focused on moving forward with funding broadband in rural areas, while according to RadioInk Magazine, Commissioner Michael Copps may be considering classifying Internet access a telecom service.  This would add very aggressive regulations and possibly a Universal Access Fee, in my opinion.  I think this may be a way to fund the Broadband initiatives, but I have mixed feelings on it.  Comcast has stated that they will continue to cooperate with FCC initiatives, which is a plus for everyone.

PXE Environments

Setting up PXE options on your network can be an ideal choice if you depend on iso files and spend a lot of time testing operating systems.  I recently decided to do this on my home network to eliminate the clutter of burning a ton of CDs.  This was my logic:

Environmental Benefits

Is this a green solution? It can be if you take into consideration of adding smaller, low-power devices to your network instead of full-blown computers.   Two companies I can recommend for the clients are Diskless Workstations and devonIT.  The noise reduction factors switching to diskless clients can be amazing.  Another option that may have some green factor to it is using that older machine that is sitting in your basement or garage (we all have them) instead of throwing it away.  Keep an eye on power consumption if you choose to use older equipment, though.

Centralization Benefits

If you have several independent computers, problems quickly develop.  Files become scattered over every machine you touch.  Where was that brilliant resume you sent out last month that got such positive response?  These random files require an intensely complex backup routine and will be difficult to track.  The problem of having different versions of files also comes into play.  By keeping it all on one server, you are making things much simpler.

Time Benefits

You spend what seems like countless hours updating your systems with the same fixes over and over if you don’t “go thin”.  While it is commendable to treat each system with individual attention and know each system, do you really want to spend all your free time updating? This goes along the lines of centralization, but there is a time benefit when you have only one server to upgrade.

Cost Benefits

Thin Clients are much cheaper.  You can expect approximately 350-500 dollars per machine for decent hardware.  Configured correctly, the performance of these machines can rival high-end $1000+computers.  Touching back on the centralization, some cloud computing backup providers and backup application vendors charge you per computer.  It makes so much more sense to have one backup target.

These are the benefits that have made me come to the conclusion to create a PXE environment.  I will, of course, move slowly and make sure all the steps are done properly, but the advantages have out weighed other factors at this point.

Grappling for a Logo

I’ve been wrestling with a logo for itadmins.org for a long time.  I want something that reflects technology, but isn’t too cheesy.  These are a couple models I came up with, but I am still not completely satisfied with them.  If anyone can offer some insight, it would be much appreciated.

itadmins_logo

Logo 1: I want to avoid the whole Matrix clone thing, but the Matrix was cool...

itadmins_logo2

Logo 2: Trying to keep it simple with this one. We all know how we love our acronymns.

Documentation that always comes in handy

During the course of my ten year career as a technologist, I have come across several sites that help me with day to day problems, expand my knowledge beyond studies, and make the information overload seem a little more structured.  Rather than “become the best Googler” it’s sometimes better to be a little more selective in your reference materials.  This is a list of sites I have used hundreds of times in the past.

IANA Port Assignment Numbers

During a traffic audit, it becomes very critical to know exactly what you are looking at.  I often refer to this document.  A very important consideration to those new to the field:  IANA does not enforce these assignments.  They are only here to be the official registry.  Just because you see a specific port being used, doesn’t absolutley mean that port is carrying it’s assigned traffic.  Worms will often use well-known ports to disguise themselves.  Rule of thumb: always analyze the packets, don’t just assume based on the port.

Ubuntu Forums

The Ubuntu Forums are very valuable as a reference tool.  It always helps to read an entire thread before implementing things, due to the assistanceit provides being user-generated content.  It saved numerous reinstalls when I first started using Ubuntu.

Cisco Product Documentation

When I went searching for this site, I was guided to a link informing me that all documentation would be merged to the support site.  Clicking on that link, directed me to a redirect to the “New” support site. (kind of Monty Python-ish, I know).  Regardless of where it is and what it is called, Cisco has stellar documentation for IOS and all of their products online for brushing up on your skills.

Linux Forums

This is the place I go as a darkhorse search of last result for information about open source troubleshooting.  It’s not due to a lack of information or quality.  Linux Forums has been around for 10+ years and I remember using it intensly to learn about Red Hat and Mandrake Linux.  It is still a high traffic site and if I have a question regarding RPM-based distributions, I will still frequent it.  The usual warning about reading an entire thread applies here as well.  Become an expert, not just someone looking for a quick fix.

Debian Documentation

The name says it all with this one.  Debian has a strong library of resources to learn how to implement solutions and resolve problems in this distribution.

Internic Whois

This is the default place I look for domain owner information.  It is always handy to have access to this in a situation where your customers are using third party services that provide specialized solutions.

Do you have any suggestions for any other sites that help make your day as an IT Admin?  Please feel free to suggest your own favorites in the comments section.

A Coffee Table Book for Us

51OuKhecT3L._SL160_While on my routine stumble-around this morning, I located a coffee table book that is suitable for the technologist in all of us. Call me strange. I get excited about new technology and new ways of doing things, but I also enjoy learning how we got to this age of constant beeps, digitizing everything we used to touch, and having friends all over the world. Core Memory is a collection of very artistic photographs from the Computer History Museum by photographer Mark Richards and author John Alderman capturing computer history and presenting it in a very artful way. This one will definitely be on my coffee table next to my Irish history books and Chicago Architecture books.  Click here to check it out on Amazon.

Mark and John discussed this project in 2007 at Google. Here is the video from this event:

Reconfiguring The Time Zone via The Terminal in Jaunty

I recently ran into an issue which was driving me crazy while using the thumbdrive version of Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope.  Every time I rebooted, I was losing the time zone configuration.  I would launch the Gnome Adjust System Date & Time applet, click the Set System Time button and be golden until I rebooted again or interestingly enough let the power management put the computer to sleep, at which point it would return to Universal Time (GMT).

When I ran the tzconfig utility on the command-line I received this message:

WARNING: the tzconfig command is deprecated, please use:
dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

Not a problem.  I Ran the reconfigure script:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

Everything was perfect, even after reboot.

I know I am not using the thumbdrive edition as it was originally intended.  I am actually using it as a crutch while I figure out what cable I need to connect my Toshiba harddrive to the Acer.  The SSD finally gave out after prolonged reloads and I wanted enough space to have my entire audio collection on it.  I figure while I’m waiting for an answer to drop from the sky on that (hehe) I will try and hammer out some bugs on the thumbdrive edition of Ubuntu when using it for more than a demo environment.