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The telephone issues have been resolved, so now I’m tied up doing some rehab work. Most of the work involves installing doors which is something I really don’t like to do, as I’m not all that good with a chisel.

It has finally stopped raining, so it looks like we will only record twice as much rain as normal for August, but the temperature has return to hot and humid.


1 hipparchia { 08.29.13 at 1:01 am }

i hate this hot and humid already.

2 Bryan { 08.29.13 at 10:01 am }

I’m working outside and even in the shade the sweat keeps dripping on the doors.

3 Kryten42 { 08.29.13 at 2:25 pm }

Good luck m8. Stay cool! Me, I’m trying to stay warm. ๐Ÿ™‚ And it only stopped raining for one day, yesterday (actually, it rained in the morning, then the sun made a miraculous appearance! We haven’t seen it for a couple weeks, at least). So I spent the day doing laundry! ๐Ÿ˜†

Speaking of phones… I lost my internet the past 4 days. Since this is the 3rd time in a year, I threatened major mayhem if they didn’t get it sorted once and for all! (and apparently, the other customers on this exchange have also had enough). I spent three days going everywhere in this area (in the rain) with a petition (over 460 sig’s so far, need 500 for it to be a legal force with some actual teeth) to forward to the Local Member (a useless fool, but we have to do it right), and the appropriate State/Fed authorities & watchdogs. We’ll see what happens. For now, they have put in a new line between this place & the exchange (which is about 250m away, so it wouldn’t have killed them to do that the first time) which should take care of the lousy line noise and signal. And they have given me a free upgrade to an unlimited acc’t (as a kind of peace offering I suppose). But I wouldn’t let them off the hook! I stated quite firmly that an unlimited acc’t is useless if I can’t use it! So… I guess I’ll see. *shrug* On the plus side, the new line seems to have made a significant difference (and I also suspect they have connected me to a *safer* part of the exchange with newer equipment. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I did mentioned to them I used to work in that Industry and know how it all works! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

4 Bryan { 08.29.13 at 10:42 pm }

I hate it when my provider says ‘We will adjust your bill for the outage.’ They act like I would be silly enough to pay for something I didn’t get. You have to keep hitting them with a two-by-four, in my case the Public Utilities Commission, to keep them marginally honest in their dealings.

A friend of mine use to joke that the only way to get telephone service in Italy was to inherit it when your parents died.

There is a good reason that cell phones are so popular, because landline service really sucks.

If the phone companies had modernized, they would still control the home phone market, the Internet market, and the cable market, but most of them decided to ‘cut costs’ and milk the system they had until people starting leaving in droves.

We both know that a ‘noisy line’ is almost always caused by a damaged shield, and the quickest way to ensure it is fixed is to run a new line.

It’s a PITA, but you have to go after them or they’ll let things slide.

I read that some areas of Australia have almost not had a winter this year because of really warm temperatures. If it is going to be below 10°C I would rather the temperature just drop and let the precipitation come down as snow, than cold rain. Somehow the chill is worse when you are wet; it cuts right through you.

Stay warm and dry, mate, and then go out and vote for the least offensive morons on your ballot.

5 Kryten42 { 09.02.13 at 8:29 pm }

Hey Bryan. ๐Ÿ™‚

then go out and vote for the least offensive morons on your ballot

Funny you put it that way, ‘รงause that’s pretty much how the discussion of the *contestants* is going here! ๐Ÿ˜†

One of the good things about living in a big central Vic town is that these kinds of towns have a history of having independents who were born and raised here and usually care about local interests (Bendigo is about 6,255 sq.km). Though, they also have a history of keeping the MP’s in for far too long and they get complacent or just think they can do no wrong and screw everyone. We had Brumby from ’83-’90 and got rid of him because he was more interested in looking after his m8’s in the end, and he wasn’t that bright. So of course, he moved into State politics, was elected Treasurer ’99-07, then Premier of Vic ’07-’10 and ended up almost single-handily destroying Vic! And we haven’t yet recovered from that debacle.

Anyway, this Election we have 13 candidates running! Two are indi’s (and one is an IBM management consultant! So forget him!) ๐Ÿ˜†

It will be tough, But Bendigo is known as a pretty safe and solid Labor seat. The current Labor candidate looks interesting. At least the BA’s are not in economics! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜† She has MA’s in Psychology & Politics (which are almost as bad as MBA’s!) However, on the plus side, she is a staunch Unionist and has been a member of Bendigo Trades Hall Council for some years.

Believe it or not… I actually like the Australian Sex Party’s policies! ๐Ÿ˜† And NO… they are not all about the 60’s “free love and sex”! In fact, it hardly get’s a mention. ๐Ÿ™‚ But They have some policies that are well stated, and that I agree with. Such as:

Church owned companies to pay tax
Same sex marriage
No data retention (by ISP’s)
National Anti-Discrimination laws
A National Secular Education System
National Abortion Laws … etc!

Anyway, if you are interested, you can see their policies here (btw, your filter apparently doesn’t like sex!) ๐Ÿ˜†

Australian Sex Party Federal Policies

They actually seem the sanest Party here right now! And curiously (not really), most of their candidates are Women. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I think they may need to *rebrand*! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜† The name doesn’t bother me… but many people are prudish (in public, and quite hypocritical to boot), a lot of people only ever read the *label’s* and not the contents. It’s why food companies get away with producing so much crap! *shrug*

So, I guess you can see which way I’m leaning. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am even thinking of helping out with the campaign, I am very good at messaging and brand awareness (Corporate Identity type work). ๐Ÿ™‚ Who knows… I may end up in Politics! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ˜†

In other news, I have been very busy (as you know) with my hosting and websites etc. It’s been something of a re-education for me (or perhaps it’s better to say that’s it’s been a big update). It’s been a combination of frustration and fascination! ๐Ÿ˜€ I think I have finally come to a final resolution with my Host Provider and they have just launched a new business for a different kind of host provisioning (which I can modestly say I had some hand in as a tester etc.)

I’ll post some details of what’s happening soon if anyone is interested. ๐Ÿ™‚

6 Kryten42 { 09.02.13 at 9:24 pm }

Oh, and just to prove that American Politicians aren’t the only ones who will do anything to suck up to Ortho Jews:

“Labor MP creates second how-to-vote card ‘to avoid upsetting Jewish voters'”

However, leader of the Jewish community in Melb are not impressed. ๐Ÿ˜€

Labor MP creates second how-to-vote card ‘to avoid upsetting Jewish voters’

Ahh yes…. Ignorance is bliss in most Politicians!

AND… Just to prove that Political Party loyalty can overrule any and all self-interests, we have:

Meanwhile, Kevin Ekendahl, the Liberal candidate, has given Family First and the DLP his first two preferences, despite the two parties being staunchly against marriage equality. Ekendahl is openly gay and has said he will champion the cause of same-sex marriage within the Liberal party.

Hmmm… no conflict of interest there, no… none at all! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ (What a two-faced moron! Which goes to proves he is a true ‘Liberal’)

BTW, for those wondering, An Aussie Liberal is akin to an American Republican (right wing). The Labor Party is akin to the Democrats (supposedly left wing). However, Labor is not yet quite so far right-of-center as the Dem’s seem to be. ๐Ÿ˜‰

However, I am proud of Aussies. ๐Ÿ™‚ The Q&A for the two PM candidates (Rudd & Abott) were great. ๐Ÿ™‚ Some of the Comments/Questions from *audience*:

“You and Tony Abbott seem like almost the same person” says young voter to Kevin Rudd. Audience reacts. Ouch.

“Mr Rudd: How about a “fair go” for universities & not cutting university funding. Unis are doing it tough enough as it is.”

“If we heard less about entitlements and more about contribution to country the future would be a lot brighter.”

“Access to affordable childcare is a major factor in determining a women’s ability to return to work. Not paid maternity leave.”

“Isn’t it interesting that those speaking up who do the caring – teachers, single parents & now a nurse – are all low paid women!”

“This is the most impressive Rudd has been in entire campaign: feisty, eloquent, surprisingly human. Won’t change the outcome though.”

However, Rudd did show some of his old fire when questions came from the fundi Christian Lobby came. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s being called his “Jed Bartlett” (West Wing) moment. ๐Ÿ˜€

“He just broke out his inner Jed Bartlett people. That’s all.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen, finally in a public forum a candidate for the leadership of the Nation has stood up to the Christian Lobby”

“Superannuation and marriage equality getting the PM fired up. Where was this guy three weeks ago?”

The particular Jed moment they are referring to, is this one (short vid on YouTube). I think ALL American’s (and Aussies) should watch this and learn from it (and it’s one of the very few TV Drama programs I would ever say this about)!

West Wing: Bashing Bible bashers

Extracted from the series West Wing, President Bartlet delivered a KO on an anti gay practitioner highlighting the ridiculous practice of selecting quotes from the Bible to shore up irrational prejudices.

This highlights more than anything why I cannot abide hypocrites! And there are millions of them! Perhaps even hundreds of millions! Though most are simply pig-ignorant and not very bright, and many choose to be that way. *shrug*

Ahhhh… Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a Politician that could be President or PM, actually existed? *sigh*

The stuff of dreams…

7 Bryan { 09.02.13 at 9:38 pm }

First off, I have no idea why ‘sex’ seemed to cause a problem, because it made it through in a couple of places. It may only latch onto it when it is capitalized.

Yes, labeling or branding is important when you have to deal with the public because few people will look any deeper. Bland is good for politics, as is short, for example, “equality and privacy” would cover multiple talking points that would be expanded if people went deeper. Marketing is the same, whether it’s a product or politician. In the end the product or politician has to work for the effort to be sustainable. Too many politicians turn out to be vaporware – nice packaging, but no content.

Apparently Zero forgot to say something about Labor Day, which won’t go down well with his union supporters. After he off-loaded the Syria decision to Congress he should have made an effort to get to a parade and make some sort of statement. This is really bad staff work. Making a statement on Saturday just doesn’t hack it because today is the holiday.

There’s no reason you can’t dual track with the politics and the IT work. There’s always space for new info here, so it can be passed on to people who may be looking for solutions.

8 hipparchia { 09.02.13 at 10:22 pm }

(or perhaps itโ€™s better to say thatโ€™s itโ€™s been a big update).


i’d be interested in hearing more bout your “update.”

as for the spam filter, maybe it didn’t “sex party.” then again, the only two people it seems to randomly hate on are you and me, so who knows what it’s up to.

9 hipparchia { 09.02.13 at 10:23 pm }

argh, typos. maybe I should look into using the edit function after all. ๐Ÿ˜‰

10 Kryten42 { 09.02.13 at 11:51 pm }

LOL h! ๐Ÿ˜€ I think I’m the King of typo’s around here! So don’t you sweat none. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

OK. I’ll post an update later, after I get a couple Pizza’s for dinner (Half price Tuesday! So I usually get two and save half of each for working through the night and tomorrow!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€ And there’s a 50% special on Coke Zero (is that named after Obama?) ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

Mmmmmm… Pizza and Coke! Made for each other (though, Pizza & Beer was much better). ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gonna go make coffee and enjoy the Sun (as I mentioned on my “Labor Day” comment)! ๐Ÿ˜‰


11 Kryten42 { 09.03.13 at 1:00 am }

*sigh* Speaking of being “king of typo’s”…

I cannot believe I wrote: “I think I have finally come to a final resolution”


For someone supposedly well versed in English and commands a respectable vocabulary, I have of late noticed my ability to commit common atrocities upon said language!

Just shoot me. *sigh*

12 hipparchia { 09.03.13 at 12:40 pm }

And thereโ€™s a 50% special on Coke Zero (is that named after Obama?) ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

i’m sure coke has gotten even worse-tasting in recent months. I may have to see if I can find someone who’s going to mexico to bring me back a case of the real-sugar kind.

13 Bryan { 09.03.13 at 9:47 pm }

Well the drink and the politician are pretty similar – lots of marketing, nice package, but no content.

Yes, Hipparchia, cane sugar makes all the difference. I found a lemon-lime soda [it has Mist in the name] that uses real sugar, and even I can stand to drink it. My Mother likes lemon-lime soda, so I buy it for her.

The Bible says whatever you want it to say if you select the right quotes. I’ll believe they are serious when they go on a kosher diet.

Sure, keep rubbing in the Jamaican coffee, Kryten ๐Ÿ˜‰

The only poll that counts is the election, but I get the feeling that people are looking for change, and that is always dangerous.

14 Kryten42 { 09.04.13 at 12:08 am }

Yeah, you are right about the Coke! And most other brands also. Always looking to save a few cents… *shrug* And you are probably right about Mexico hipparchia. Unfortunately for me, I’m diabetic so cane sugar is a big no-no. Try eBay… amazing what you can get on eBay! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Aldi here have been selling the AriZona Beverages brand iced tea’s here for a few month’s. ๐Ÿ˜€ I really like the Blueberry White Tea, and a couple others (they make sugar free). They just started a few of the other drinks from AriZona also. I like the Kiwi Strawberry juice drink. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh! If you want to know how the voting system here actually works, there was a nice overview here (though it doesn’t really explain how preferences & proportional voting work in detail. They are complex subjects.):

How does Australiaโ€™s voting system work?

/ What’s Happening with the Biz – Pt 1/

So… Part of the problem I’ve been having with setting up the three domain’s/sites is trying to maximize security, availability (up-time) and performance/scalability without having to pay a high cost. One of the problems was DNS, or more specifically, the Tier 1 & 2 Name Servers. They have been coming under increasing attack recently, and are really causing problems for anyone using them. I have been spending a lot of time with both OpenNIC & OpenDNS discussing this issue over the past few months. There is a good blog at OpenDNS about the issue:

High Profile Domains Under Siege

It appears that MelbourneIT was compromised (not at all surprised! There are good reasons why I’ve never used them since the privatized! They were once part of Melbourne University in the early days of the web. But with funding cut’s, they had to privatize it). Now the cost of that is being seen. And MelbourneIT are known to be a bunch or crooks and a’holes, excellent reasons to avoid them in any case! ๐Ÿ˜‰ *shrug*

One possible mitigation to the problem is to use several Name Servers in diverse locations for the domains. I am testing this with my adaptwww domain with OpenDNS. I am using 5 NS in: Singapore (Equinix), Hong Kong (HKIX), Germany (BCIX & ECIX), Palo Alto (PAIX), New York (NYIIX/Equinix). In theory, being spread around the globe should also help make people in the geographic region of an NS I use find my sites faster. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a nice theory… Testing will show if that’s so or not. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I chose OpenDNS as they appear to be the most pro-active. I also like their Umbrella Security system. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve used OpenDNS @ home (on my router & PC’s) & DNScrypt for awhile now. They are easy to use and I’ve not had any problems. ๐Ÿ™‚

OK. I’ll post more a little later. I actually have to get some work done! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜†

15 Kryten42 { 09.07.13 at 7:06 am }

You know guy’s, I am pretty jaded and with good reason. But now and then, someone really surprises me (in a very good way!) ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve said before that my hosting company, Prometeus, have been very good to me. Well, they continue to surprise me! I have to say in all sincerity, this is the best hosting company I have ever used, and I have used several! Some are deservedly dead and gone, others are (sadly) still in business (which shows that many people are clueless)!

They have a new IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) Cloud service, and a new company for it: iwStack

This is a new PAYGo (Pay as you go) type service. You basically buy credit’s (currently one iwStack credit = 1 EUR) and you pay for the services you need and use as you go. It’s billed hourly, and if any of the services are unused during that period (such as internet traffic out (in is free), storage space, CPU (vCPU), etc), then you don’t pay for it. It’s quite a good model. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, Salvatore (one of the owners or Prometeus) gave me an iwStack account with 30 credits to use to see if it will suit me before I cancel my current accounts and transfer them. I don’t know of many other providers that would be that generous, and Prometeus really are a small player compared to many!

Hello Paul,

I went ahead and added some credits and placed an order for the iwstack account. You can try it and if you like it we will add the remaining credit to your iwstack account ๐Ÿ™‚

Best regards
Salvatore Sciacco

Of my current three services, 2 are quarterly billed and one is annual. I have over 2 mths to go on the qtr acc’ts and about 8 mth’s on the annual. Sal will give me a refund on them and xfer the credits to my iwStack acc’t. ๐Ÿ™‚

And I didn’t even have to ask for any of it!!

Now THAT is customer service!! And damned rare IMHO!

I think I may have actually felt a tear in my eye! And that’s pretty damned rare too! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

And man, amd I looking forward to playing with this!! ๐Ÿ˜€

I have a vRouter with VPN, so I can now connect to my servers with a direct VPN tunnel from home. It will also be the primary firewall, and later can also be used for load balancing if needed. ๐Ÿ™‚

Essentially, I have:
vRouter (server configured as a virtual router with VPN, firewall and later for load balancing over x servers (running MySQL or PostgreSQL for example or even Apache); that’s 0.006 EUR / hr (about $6.30 / mth);
My primary server (called a Computing Instance’) will have 2 GB RAM & 4 CPU’s with 1.5 GB traffic out / hour for 0.012 EUR / hr (about $12.60 / mth);
50 GB primary SAN space (for ROOT & DATA) for about $5.50 / mth;
50 GB secondary NFS for ISO images, snapshot’s & local (cloud) continuous backup for about $2.60 / mth.

All up about $27 / mth. Damned cheap! And that’s only if I use it 24/7!

Amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m just *playing* with my new toy! I haven’t had much to do with CloudStack before this (but luckily I have used CentOS & KVM VM’s so that will be easy) but it looks very clean and easy to use. I guess I’ll see! ๐Ÿ˜€

16 Bryan { 09.07.13 at 2:45 pm }

Sounds like they are going for a referral account, which is a valuable marketing tool. Their next step should be encryption as a marketing tool. I see that as becoming very important to a lot of people as the Snowden papers keep coming out.

It looks like the only one you can trust with your privacy is yourself. It won’t stop your own government from demanding access, but it might keep other people and governments out of your business.

17 Kryten42 { 09.08.13 at 2:37 am }

Funny you mention encryption. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been following a thread on LET (LowEndTalk) about this. Maounique, one of the owners of Prometeus, has been pretty active in this discussion, the most I think I’ve seen him in any thread! ๐Ÿ˜€ And he makes sense. See what you think:

Encryption isn’t secure anymore?

It’s interesting to read what various people think about it. They come from all over, so it’s an interesting mix. ๐Ÿ™‚

Truth is Bryan, the only person one could ever trust with one’s privacy was always oneself! The only way to keep a secret, is to ensure nobody else (alive anyway) knows about it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I discovered just how true that is in the 80’s.

Oh, I should amend my comment above about iwStack. ๐Ÿ™‚ They don’t “bill by the hour”, it’s actually “by the hour of usage”. A small, but important, difference. ๐Ÿ˜‰

18 Bryan { 09.08.13 at 7:18 pm }

My host only bills for actual usage, which works out to less than $5/month, which is a good deal for a low traffic site like this.

Trusting your privacy to a corporation is brain=dead. They make their real money selling your information to advertisers, no matter what they claim in their privacy policy.

I keep telling people not to put personal information up on the Internet, but they think I’m paranoid. I keep explaining that you can’t be paranoid if there are people out to get you, you can only be cautious.

19 Kryten42 { 09.09.13 at 8:07 am }

You must be on a plan similar to one of these at Namecheap:

Web Hosting Service Plans

They host in the UK also, but I doubt that’s much of an alternative to the USA right now! ๐Ÿ˜‰ They also claim these plans are optimized for WordPress, whatever that means. LOL

Still, they have been pretty good so far with my domains, and helpful also. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have no plans to host with them, though I did consider for a short time hosting my blog with them. ๐Ÿ™‚

My hoster, Prometeus, have a low end hosting biz called IperWeb (as well as the cloud biz iwStack). IperWeb do VPS from around US$24/yr, or shared hosting from $1/mth. ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course, the only thing that matter is whether you are happy with your host and they look after you. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m still studying. Learning all the CloudStack terminology mostly, and what it actually means! ๐Ÿ™‚

20 Bryan { 09.09.13 at 10:23 pm }

Yep, learning the vocabulary is most of the battle which is why training as a linguist and having pattern matching skills are transferable from intel through law enforcement to computers, all variations on the basic themes.

Steve Bates discovered Nearly Free Speech, and I went with them based on that recommendation. They expect you to know what you are doing, and to understand the technical side if something goes wrong. They are quite open about any problems and keep people informed.

They will keep older versions of software around a lot longer than most hosts, to give you time to adjust before they cut it off. They aren’t shy about telling people that they are not the host for those who will burn a lot of resources, because it will get very expensive if you do.

All WordPress requires is pHp and mySQL, which are not exactly unique requirements on an Apache site.

21 Kryten42 { 09.10.13 at 7:54 am }

They sound like a pretty sane hosting provider. ๐Ÿ™‚ If all I needed was to host a basic WP site, I’d seriously consider them also. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, I’m having a kind of strange time getting to grips with iwStack (XEN/CloudStack)! On the surface, it looks so deceptively simple, that I have to think “But, how do I do *so-and-so*?” often! But it hides some really serious complexity in fact, but that complexity is easier to deal with than I’ve found on a base XEN VM with CentOS! ๐Ÿ˜€ I sometimes have to read the doc’s on some part of CS a couple times (like setting up a VPN with complex internal routing) because they way it’s done on CS is much simpler than I’m used to! ๐Ÿ˜€

Here’s part of the Intro that Prometeus sent me by way of example:

You can, in short:
Deploy instances whenever you need them, in a few seconds using templates or in minutes if installing from ISOs.

Use the advanced zone for complex internal routing, internal/external firewall, VPNs, all usable immediately, for highly secure isolated networks where both incoming and outgoing traffic is tightly controlled (SSL & SSH are always part of the images we provide, and we strongly encourage you include them in any images you make).

Grow/shrink your instance in a few clicks. Make templates of it, add disks, IPs, RAM, vCPUs, take snapshots and download them whenever you need it, use the API to control your VM with a script, even provision automatically, make your own virtual office, complete with firewall, gateway, mail/web servers, FTP, SMB, NFS, iSCSI, SQL servers, workstations (even windows), easy IPSec VPNs in a few clicks and copy/paste, test complex architectures without the need to invest in hardware and the hassle of installing on physical machines in the comfort of your own isolated VLAN with your own automated router, possibilities are limited mostly by your imagination!

All this at a very low hourly cost, if you need to save money, just delete what you don’t need, or everything, in a few clicks then start again when you are ready or when you need to, either manually or with a script to take advantage of the API. You can literally put up a complex infrastructure in minutes using the API and CloudMonkey scripts, even completely unattended. Make the script once and re-use it whenever you need.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, read on, I will detail most of these things and it will take exactly as long as you need to read and do a few clicks.

My biggest problem now is stopping myself from drooling over the possibilities and just sticking to *WHAT I NEED! DAMMIT!* ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜†

In the space of 10 min’s (seriously!) I installed two VM’s with CentOS 6.4 x64 (a base/minimal one for the server, and a full version with Gnome for the WS), One VM to offload MySQL, 5 disk set’s (one for each VM & MySQL, 1 for the internal network scripts, log’s etc, and one for local backups/snapshots) , and a VPN with F/W and secure internal routing (all IPv6) and the cirt’s.

Because Prometeus have always believed that backups are essential, they have made it as easy and cheap as possible so clients really have no excuse not to have backups! It costs 36cents per mth per 10GB! And it can be set and forget (as standard, it will take a snapshot of your VM, and when the disk is almost full, remove the oldest (but not the first one). ๐Ÿ™‚

Where was this in 2008 when I really needed it?! ๐Ÿ˜†

22 Bryan { 09.10.13 at 12:37 pm }

Every year things become ‘cheaper, better, faster’ as my Taiwanese importer in California would say every time he tried to substitute things for what I ordered.

Yes, it is the eternal problem for people who actually like IT, staying focused on what you need to do when you are presented with too many choices by a new product that makes you want to find out what you can do.

I wish you luck in avoiding the distractions of your new ‘toy’, because it is extremely tempting just to play it and put off working.

23 Badtux { 09.11.13 at 2:44 am }

Interesting that iwStack went with CloudStack and Xen, Kryten. Those are both owned by Citrix, and everybody knows that Citrix is where good technology goes to die :}. Most of the current hype is OpenStack and KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine). That said, I started attempting to deploy OpenStack Grizzly on our internal cloud and found that it takes far more than the 1 day that I allocated to the effort to set up an OpenStack cloud. I suspect that might be one reason they went with CloudStack :).

iwStack looks interesting but, alas, we must have our service providers be in the United States. For some reason our major government customers don’t like the notion of their data being sent out of country :). At present the only US-based provider that fits our requirements is Amazon, which provides the best bang for the buck for what we do. Which is annoying because Amazon’s API was set up for the internal use of Amazon for their own shopping application, not for use by us mere mortals, which makes things… annoying. Oh well, guess that’s why I get paid the big bucks, to deal with cr*p like that!

24 Kryten42 { 09.11.13 at 7:25 am }

Thanks Bryan. ๐Ÿ™‚ And yes, I understand about your importer! ๐Ÿ˜† Been there… ๐Ÿ˜‰

I hear you Badtux. I also voiced some concerns a few months ago when I first learned about iwStack. But they had some serious problems with OpenStack, especially support and support from Citrix has been surprisingly good!

Hmmm! Sorry, the virtualization they use is actually KVM! No idea why I said XEN! *shrug* Apologies.

This didn’t happen overnight, Premeteus spent over a year getting this ready. It’s why they bought the Hitachi HUS150 SAN (w/ Brocade 340 SAN fabric switches), HP ProLiant Gen8 Server Blades (in triple clusters w/ HP ProCurve 6600-48G-4XG switches) connected to Extreme Network Summit X480 10 Gb switches. And everything is redundant of course. It’s a surprisingly high-end setup for a low-cost hosting provider. ๐Ÿ™‚ The mix of suppliers was interesting, and they said that initially they hoped for a single vendor (HP) to simplify things. But for various reasons (especially SLA & support) they went with the above. ๐Ÿ™‚ They had some severe problems along the way, but it’s working well now. One example:

Due to bugs and inability of HostBill people to fix them timely even on paid support and with full access to the CS install, we will be selling the cloud only through the WHMCS billing panel, at least for now.

Sometimes, you really don’t get what you pay for!

25 Bryan { 09.11.13 at 10:10 am }

Because of outsourcing single-vendor doesn’t mean much anymore. The people who cut the deals with the contractors aren’t the people who have to make the damn thing work, which is why I always preferred to talk to the tech guys when I was looking for systems for my clients. Off the record the service guys will usually tell you what works best and keeps their bottom line looking good.

I always preferred no-drama systems to the fastest thing ever seen by man.

26 Badtux { 09.11.13 at 11:21 am }

I always preferred no-drama systems to the fastest thing ever seen by man.

My data servers are generic Supermicro 12-disk server boxes. My compute servers are HP Proliant servers chosen from our pile of gear because they have very low power usage for a server (they use roughly 2/3rds the power of an equivalent Supermicro 2-disk box) and will hold more memory than the equivalent Dell and Supermicro gear. They’re all running 2.4Ghz quad-core Westmere Xeon chips (two of’em in the compute servers, just one in the data servers) and connected together with 10Gig back end (data) network cards, the front end network is only 1Gig but since most of the work is done on virtual machines that are on the 10Gig fabric, the result is seriously fast. About to get another server box, it’s going to have a pair of 2.4Ghz quad-core Ivy Bridge Xeons in it. Most decidedly *not* the fastest thing ever seen by man, in fact almost the slowest Ivy Bridge Xeons you can get — but cheap, stable, and plenty fast for what we do. The biggest drama I have is when disk drives pop. I got a SMART alert on one yesterday, which then failed out of the RAID array, so I popped it out, popped new one in, saw where it got inserted by Linux, used mdadm to add it to the array, and there ya go, rebuilding away. Not exactly the stuff of drama. Of course, if I’d done like way too many of our customers and ignored the SMART alert, it could have escalated into drama, but I’m not that stupid!

10Gig Base T is now out and looks increasingly affordable. That’s going to be the Next Big Thing… the cards that I used in this particular setup were way too expensive, though all I paid for was transceivers (the cards were in a giant pile of gear that I sorted through over time). So it goes.

I will have to look into Cloudstack. I’m looking for something to make it easier to manage all these virtual machines. Openstack is at the moment looking like it would be a nightmare to implement, so I’m looking for something a bit simpler and more stable. Hmm….

27 Kryten42 { 09.11.13 at 2:06 pm }

I like no-drama systems too. If you find one today, tell us! (and getting lucky doesn’t count!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜†

The VPS Prometeus use are running on Supermicro (twin2 & twinfat’s). But for the new cloud service, it had to be able to scale from the low-end to Enterprise (they have some enterprise clients that want to migrate from traditional VPS to cloud-based). It also had to be able to quickly scale over time. Curiously, while they are paying a small fortune in hardware, all the software is open-source. The HUS 150 SAN (with 120 TB SAS HD’s) cost them 120k EUR last year. And 4 Brocade 340 SAN switches with all ports licensed + 3 yr onsite support w/ 4hr hardware replacement guarantee. Etc. It’s replacing an old Sun/Storagetek system. The HUS 150 is considered Hitachi’s top tier-2 mid-range Unified SAN.

One of the reasons they went with CloudStack they said was because it’s open-sourced under the Apache umbrella and they had very good dealings over months with the development teams. Didn’t get very far with the OpenStack crowd apparently. Prometeus are developing their own control panel for CloudStack, working with the Apache team. ๐Ÿ™‚

Apache CloudStack Wiki

Prometeus have some info on their implementation of CloudStack if you are interested, on their tech forum:

Prometeus – Tutorials and HowTo’s

I was reading on Ars Technica a hot discussion in tier-2 SAN’s with some interesting horror stories! Buyer Beware, indeed! ๐Ÿ˜€

I have significant reservations about the V7000.

I offer the following anecdotes regarding our two units that are less than a year old:

1) During a firmware update we experienced a condition where the unit stopped servicing I/O for approximately two minutes. This resulted in windows and Linux guests in our ESX clusters failing writes crashing/corrupting. IBM identified the cause of this and I believe it is fixed in their now current firmware, but it was present in their 6.2 and 6.3.01 code.

2) Under heavy write activity the controller deemed write cache to be ‘too busy’ AND DISABLED IT. The write cache disabled condition again led to conditions where some guests experienced write delays so long that they failed/crashed/corrupted. When this condition occurs, the controller maintains the disabled write cache state for at least one hour before considering re-enabling it. IBM identified the cause of this behavior and considers it to be functioning as designed. No fix is present, or ever planned.

3) IBM introduced a bug in the code in the middle of 2011 which causes a unit which has not been rebooted for 208 days to spontaneously reboot; that could be one or both of the controllers depending on how lucky you get. That bug had been identified and I believe it has been corrected in current code.

Allowing that #1 “could happen to anybody” I would say that #2 and #3 are not the sort of thing that one would expect of ‘mature code’ from a ‘world class vendor’.

Our two v7000 units will be leaving our data center just over one year into their five year contracts. #2 above was a deal breaker, when they told us that it was functioning as designed we concluded that it just wasn’t designed to meet our (relatively modest…) needs.

We’re actually in the process of returning a pair of Symantec 5220’s that we did a try and buy on.

The appliances couldn’t even do a backup to tape, when we got done struggling with deduped replication and were told to hold off for the next appliance software update we converted our SLP’s to be simple D2D2T jobs and we had problems with that. We took the jobs off the appliance and put them on our Windows based media server straight to tape without changing anything else and they worked just fine. Symantec support was worthless even with the regional VP of sales breathing down their neck so we finally said screw it, no need to wait for the next software update, if they can’t do a simple backup job how are we ever going to trust them to do something as complicated as deduped replication correctly. We’re currently evaluating what we’re going to use the money that we get returned on and I’m really not sure. Avamar seems out based on the 75GB/hour per node performance (<21MB/s, really that's lower than LTO2 performance). Datadomain with networker is a possibility but we're going to have to do an eval to see how it fits our environment. Finally I'm seriously considering moving to Commvault on 2U Windows boxes, I know it has it's issues with version upgrades, but no product in the backup space is anything approaching perfect.

And so on! ๐Ÿ˜†

I am sooooo glad I am out of that game!! HP & Apple were definitely the nails in the coffin of that career path for me.

28 Bryan { 09.11.13 at 10:37 pm }

You guys are in the IT equivalent of opera and you hope for ‘no drama’. You have more hope of a lack of melodrama, i.e. it will interesting ‘drama’.

The ‘functioning as designed’ is almost an IBM trademark going back to the 360 mainframes. When you have devastation throughout your computer center you really don’t want to hear that the beast was supposed to do that from the IBM support team.

More and more every year you get the feeling that no one is actually testing anything before it is shipped. Customers have become the testers. That is the only way of explaining why things you purchased because you were told they were designed for what you want to do, don’t actually do it, or do it so badly that they are drag on your throughput.

Prometheus are on to something with the open source community, because it is made up of people actually interested in what they are doing, and willing to try to make it work for you, including testing it before they give it to you. I don’t have a problem donating to several efforts because I have certainly paid a lot of money for no return from for-profit vendors.

Good luck, guys.

29 Badtux { 09.11.13 at 11:55 pm }

One problem is that cost-cutting corporations have cut actual engineering staffing to the bone because engineers are expensive, and instead outsource to “contracting firms” that put huge numbers of new college grads to work on your problem. The problem is that these outsourcing firms are useless. They can’t produce product in a timely manner. Then marketing says it has to be on the market on day X, and it hasn’t even been turned over to QA for testing before day X-30, meaning QA has to hustle to find even the most egregious bugs and the rest of the bug fixes will simply have to be streamed out as patches over the next six months as the customers (and QA) find them. That’s how development is done today. It’s ridiculous, but that’s how it’s done.

Regarding drama, one reason why I went with generic Linux server storage was because I understand the Linux block subsystem at an intimate level and understand how the various layers of RAID, LVM, iSCSI, and filesystem/NAS protocols work from the inside out. There is no drama with generic Linux storage servers, just annoyance at the idiocies that have crept in over the years such as no way to do replication in a transparent fashion (you have to take down a LVM share and layer a DRBD replication layer on top of it to make it happen, then point the filesystem or iSCSI target at the DRBD device rather than the LVM device). I would rather be annoyed than wake up one day to find out that the management volume on my iSCSI block store from XYZ Corp got corrupted and all my volumes are gone with no hope of retrieval. Just sayin’.

30 Bryan { 09.12.13 at 3:41 pm }

Yep, get a STEM degree so you’ll have a skill that will guarantee unemployment when you are really good at what you do because you want to get paid for your talent. The corporations will just carry on with the H1Bs and outsourcing because it increases ‘profits’ while the company circles the bowl of incompetence.

I totally agree – better the problems you know and understand than intermittent weirdness that destroys your credibility and your company. If you already know about the problems, you already know about the work-arounds. One day they’ll ‘fix it’ and there will be a fracture somewhere else in the code. For every fix there is a new and seemingly unrelated problem – if that isn’t a ‘law’ yet, it should be.

31 hipparchia { 09.13.13 at 12:17 am }

Yep, get a STEM degree so youโ€™ll have a skill that will guarantee unemployment when you are really good at what you do because you want to get paid for your talent.

i can vouch for this model. i have 1.5 “s” degrees (both heavily “m” based) and part of a “t”certificate, and if dean baker is right, i’m making less than minimum wage:


32 Bryan { 09.13.13 at 12:34 am }

No one wants to pay an American if they can get an H1B slave.

33 Kryten42 { 09.13.13 at 3:06 am }

It’s the same here. I’m doing this new biz because I can’t get a job because:
a) “I don’t have recent experience” (But since I’m one of the highest qualified engineers in Aus, they have to pay me what I’m worth by industry standards (by law) and that would be over $130k/year + package),
b) “They want someone younger, and with a car” (someone inexperienced enough to be cheap and stupid enough to be the free delivery guy),
c) “You’d have my job in 6 Mths” (No, 3 Months moron!)

And I agree with the above (re: using what you know). I changed over to this new cloud system because I trust Prometeus and they showed me how they tested over the past year, and I was quite content with what they have done. They didn’t launch it until they were as certain as they could be it will work (unlike many companies that would have launched it 6 mths ago and fixed stuff as the customers found the problems). But It’s just a platform. On top, I’ll be running all the s/w I know well. And as much as I hated working for HP, their server/network hardware & OS do work (and I know HP-UX intimately anyway, so may be able to help the guys out if they get a problem).

I was glad when Apple finally got out of the Enterprise game and killed the Xserve line in 2011. Should have happened much earlier IMHO! It really was crap! (and I have all the Apple server cirt’s, so I speak from experience). Sure, it had some nice features… but most were poorly implemented! NO hot-swap capability, no redundant PSU, poor power management… etc, etc! Much of the management s/w that was applauded by industry was half-assed, like the LOM (Lights Out Management). It was good, except that it was bound to a single IP and the primary Ethernet port! If that port died or the IP changed… SOL! And so on. I had to laugh when I came across a photo of Jobs (during the 2011 Live Blog Keynote) standing in the new huge Apple data center… Not a single bit of Apple hardware anywhere! It was all HP! ๐Ÿ˜†

Steve Jobs in Apple Data Center WWDC 2011

*sigh* Mind you… I wouldn’t mind having all that hardware! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

34 Bryan { 09.13.13 at 10:45 am }

I wouldn’t mind having the money for the annual electric bill for all that hardware, I’m not greedy. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The local school system has new computers still the boxes because they can’t afford to plug them in, not that they have the electrical system in their buildings to safely support any new equipment.

I heard ‘over qualified’ as an excuse, as if that was a contagious disease. Based on most of the people doing the interviews I don’t think there was any danger of infection.

You stay in your comfort zone to avoid surprises after a few years of nothing but surprises. You just hope to vendors who are willing to stay with what they know how to do well and not head off in ‘an exciting new direction’ when a new CEO takes over and decides to make changes.