Saturday, March 17, 2007

Over the last few weeks I've been upgrading ROMWNET. My bandwidth requirements have been increasing pretty quick, last December my website served up 2.5GBs of data, last month it served up 3GBs. Already this month it has served up 4GBs and climbing.

Most of the traffic is coming from the various search engines and web crawlers out there. I am actually surprised at how many different search engines there are.

It was pretty apparent by the middle of last month that my network equipment was no longer capable of handling the load I needed it to handle anymore. Using my phone during certain times of the day was useless, I use Vonage and since my primary firewall/router was a Netgear FWAG114 which didn't support QOS packets queues, my phone would cut in and out if the search engines started to download a few pictures at the same time.

As good as the FWAG114 was, it would still crash if you were using BitTorrent and was downloading something with 2000 or 2500 seeders.

In this major overhaul I also wanted to reclaim my notebook which was my acting VM server since my media center machine had been out of commission since the move.

So after a couple of weekends of work and some new equipment I now have something better than I had before, with most of my requirements fulfilled.

I purchased three M300-LCD systems, used two of them as VM servers, and one as a pfSense 1.0.1 embedded firewall device.

Setting up pfSense turned out to be a non-trivial exercise with the M300-LCD since the gigabit Ethernet adapters have a newer PCI identifier then the version of FreeBSD that pfSense relies on knows how to deal with. I'll write another post about that experience.

----- Rom

Friday, January 12, 2007

Well I'm still unpacking from my move.

I'm sharing a house with my friend Candace, or rather I should say I'm living in a house in which I have a bedroom and an office and she has a pottery showcase area(living room) and studio(two bedrooms joined together). We share the bathrooms, living room and kitchen. She lives with her boyfriend.

Shortly after my stuff arrived I found out my media center was broken, which is a major bummer, we got it all put together and hooked up to the TV and it wouldn't boot. I'm in the process of trying to get the moving company to pay for sending it off for repairs.

My media center also used to be the host for a few virtual machines which hosted some of my basic network services, and the virtual machine software I'm using didn't support using a wireless network adapter. So I had been using a long ass network cable to connect it to my router in my previous house. When Candace saw that setup for the first time I got an evil look and said the word "No"  in a tone of voice where you knew it wasn't open for debate. I guess that was a little too much geek for her.

So I had to find a solution where I could host my virtual machines and not cost an arm and a leg and what I found was this beauty Mini-Box M300-LCD. So in the not to distant future I'll be picking one up so I can reclaim my notebook and use it for what it was designed for.

One of the things I really like about this mini computer is that Mini-Box released the technical specs for the LCD display, which means anybody can write some control software for it.

Well after playing around with their stock toolset I decided I needed to write my own. Their stock toolset requires you to be logged into the machine so a system tray applet can run before you can change any of the text on the display.

I'm launching the HID LCD Service Toolset for Windows project, HIDLCDTools for short. My goal is to have some software that runs as a service which you can use to control that LCD display. In my case I will want it to cycle threw the virtual machine software statistics and display useful information.

I'm really excited about doing this.

 

----- Rom

[Update: Candace felt the picture I had up here wasn't very flattering, so I removed it at her request.]

Monday, January 01, 2007
Monday, November 13, 2006

Akismet announced they fixed the issue my blog was having with their service.

So, thank you Akismet for fixing the issue. :-)

 

----- Rom

Well I installed a newer version of dasBlog which has better error handling when using the Akismet spam blocking service.

As of right now things seem to be working with them again, I sent them a network sniff of a failure last night.

I still haven't been able to reproduce or fix the Firefox 2.x problem. For now the solution seems to be use a different browser, I don't like the solution but it is the only one I have at present.

 

----- Rom

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I've had several people tell me comments were not working the last couple of days.

It turns out two problems were happening at the same time.

My ISP's DNS servers are freaking out about something and not fulfilling requests, and my blog could not successfully find Akismet to verify comments with.

OzzFan originally reported the problem but I had forgotten I was already logged into my blogging software and so it doesn't run my comments through the spam filter.

I have switched my machines over to using OpenDNS DNS Servers, Akismet is still giving me a problem though so I have it disabled for right now.

Sorry about the problems everybody, I wasn't intentionally blocking anybody from posting anything good or bad about me or BOINC.

----- Rom

Monday, November 06, 2006

In preparation for my move I've had to make a bunch of changes.

The only effect the outside world should notice is all my certificates have changed, long story short is I made my domain controller and certificate server have been converted to a virtual machine. My goal is to be able to take my whole network infrastructure with me on the plane. I should just be able to plug it in when I arrive and go.

It turned out to be a lot more work than I had anticipated. For some reason dcpromo croaked when I attempted to demote my original domain controller.

Apparently something was messed up and I had to use ntdsutil to forcibly remove the old domain controller and promote the new DC. What I didn't know about was the notion of a root domain controller, apparently their are a few settings that point directly to the root domain controller and are not exposed via and of the active directory management tools.

 

----- Rom

Reference Articles:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/332199
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/255504/

Monday, October 16, 2006

So I spent some time this weekend tweaking my blogs look and feel. Saturday afternoon I just got a burr up my butt and decided to do something about it.

I ran into an article that had some useful pointers:
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/weblogs.html

I took some of his advice and made the following changes:

  • Added a profile
  • Moved my contact info and email signing certificate to the header
  • Optimized the viewing space for 1024x768

I went so far as to include links to translate my postings to Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic.

I've contacted the Feedburner crew about fixing the link text for the actual links within the RSS feed itself. For some reason the encoding's get borked.

Hopefully the translations Google does for me won't offend anybody. :-)

Well catch ya all later...

----- Rom

Previous articles:
Blog Moved

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Are you more productive with multiple monitors?

I personally, am more productive with multiple monitors, I have 3 17" LCD displays. My roommates have three displays a piece.

Microsoft Research has been looking into this for awhile, and now a french researcher states roughly the same thing about larger monitors.

I'm not sure I would ever want to go back to a single monitor for a desktop rig again.

On my left display I have Outlook and my IM clients, my center display is for whatever I'm working on at the moment, and my right display is for my web browser and online books.

It is nice to be able to glance and see if there is an email I really need to deal with without having to change the focus of the application I'm working on.

----- Rom

References:

Robert Scoble
Toward Characterizing the Productivity Benefits of Very Large Displays
Could a 30-in. monitor help you do your job faster?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sorry about the erratic web server behavior today.

Most of my 24/7 computerized services all run off of one machine. The machine runs Windows XP Media Center 2005 and has Virtual Machines for my email and web services. Since it is my everything computer I normally don't pay attention with what I do with it, but today I started a video conversion job today which took 12 hours or more. A few hours ago I noticed that the web server started to reject people with a web server busy message.

The disk queue length grew large enough that all the services running on the machine started having problems.

In the future if I start another video encoding job I'll be sure to adjust the process priority such that I won't have to worry about it again.

----- Rom