Category Archives: misc

misc

No more UAE blackberry services from October 11

Gulfnews reported that the TRA, the UAE’s authority that regulates all telecommunication things, will be shutting down Blackberry services.

Reason being, It can’t be wiretapped is not in line with UAE telecommunications regulations. Which was figured out after it was active for 3.5 years. Maybe providers will come out with a “patch” again to enable these services?

I guess they’ll come to a agreement whereby BBM Messenger will be blocked, emails will be enabled again (since all HTTPS enabled webmail solutions are encrypted anyway) and web traffic will be forced through the country’s proxy servers.

misc

Drum n bass song, or “going wild with Reason”

Ages ago, I installed Reason and have been playing a bit with it. Few days ago was actually the first time I created something relatively complete. It contains a sample of Public Enemy’s “By The Time I Get To Arizona”.

You can download it here

Feel free to leave any comments for it.

misc

Blackberry 6 sneak peak?

Eh? I mean, seriously.

misc

RIM scaling problems? Or just chain IM’s?

I received from several BlackBerry IM contacts the following message:

Hello, greetings from RIM (Research In Motion) proprietors of BlackBerry. This message is to inform all of our users, that our servers have recently been really full, so we are asking for your help to fix this problem. We need our active users to re-send this message to everyone on your contact list inorder to confirm our active users that use BlackBerry Messenger, if you do not send this message to all your BlackBerry Messenger contacts then your account will remain inactive with the consequence of losing all your contacts.

We apologize for the inconvenience but this is the only way possible to resolve this problem. Sincerely Research in Motion. For more information visit:
www.blackberry.com/inactiveuser

Of course it doesn’t take much to realize that this is a chain-mail type of IM. The web page itself doesn’t exist. Wonder how many people forwarded it..

code misc sysadmin

nnscfgmaker.sh: a nagios/nsclient++ cfg maker

Dear all,

We are in the process of changing the monitoring system on part of our network from Zenoss to Nagios. This is not a Zenoss vs. Nagios debate, as both products are awesome and do the things they are designed for very well. We (Christian and myself) use a combination of Cacti for bandwith monitoring and Zenoss for server and device monitoring. Now, recently we decided to change the latter to Nagios. It is know for its “great deal of flexibility when integrating Nagios into their environment” (Galstad, 2005)

As Zenoss was configured using SNMP Informant to grab information about the MS Windows servers (available disk space, CPU load, etc) and Nagios uses NSClient++; one of the time consuming tasks was getting the client on the server (thank you domain 🙂 ) and configuring each and every server on the Nagios server. I guess there should be some sort of discovery tool for Nagios, but I couldn’t directly find one.

In order to tackle the copy-pasting for a few dozen config files, and to brush up my bash scripting again, I wrote the Nagios Nsclient++ cfg maker read more »

misc

Team collaboration, or competing?

When reading about social media strategies today, I stumbled across follow excerpt:

In most big companies, IT, digital, marketing and sales not only don’t work together, they compete with each other. Until they start collaborating as a team, you will not succeed in social media.

If you’d change the last two words from “social media” to “business”, the statement, sadly, remains the same.

My home country’s Coat of Arms states “Eendracht maakt macht” (roughly translates to Unity makes strength). Aside from also being Brooklyn’s motto, it should be on several company’s mindsets.

misc

Running lean IT environments

In the current economic slowdown, many face a semi burnout feeling as jobs seem less challenged and less changes seem to be happening in the short term.

Here are a few things that I believe will increase the team spirit in an IT environment.

1. Destroy boundaries
My team (systems and applications) and the network team work closely together. In the office, we physically sit in cubicles next to each other. While thinking about tearing the cubicles down for a while already, last week we did it. This increased the “bond” between the teams.
We now see each other, and have a more lively atmosphere. Small things just get done more quickly, and communication (and occasional jokes, of course) improved dramatically.

If you minimize boundaries and distance between people, they just seem to work better with each other, and your team spirit increases. Break down walls, have informal team-meetings, and invite all for lunch together.

2. Create small project teams, and give ownership
Both the network guys and myself came up with a few internal “projects”, under a cleanup program to increase security, visibility and control. When we both started in Nakheel, we inherited a scattered infrastructure and thus we’ll be consolidating and streamlining this to make our operational tasks easier. This big program will have a gazillion sub-tasks, each with its own project manager, or rather, owner. This makes people feel more in control, and have them being more passionate about it.

Let users “own” a certain project or program, and they’ll pour more time into it. Make “empowerment” a value amongst your people, rather than just a fancy word on your core value booklet.

3. Create (relevant) tasks on what people want to do
Turns out that few of the members of my team love to do development. With this, we will be creating (or call it “hacking together”) several systems to make our jobs easier. One of these will be revamping our monirong infrastructure. We might create modules for our current systems, and publish them to the community, or if this is too hard, create our own humble monitoring system, and publish it open source.

Check what employees want to do, build one’s career is equally or often more important than building the company. See what your team members want to, and align accordingly.

4. Conduct internal trainings
With IT budgets altered, as all company budgets, companies often don’t have the luxury of “sending their guys” on external trainings. We’re conducting internal trainings to each other, for two reasons; first obvious reason would be to learn new things, second is to start conversations between teams to understand what each one is doing, and see if there’s room for improvement. An extra pair of eyes is never bad.

5. Ask your users what they want, and deliver it without too much hassle
A typical IT setup is that many tools are bought, without the clear need for it. I usually give a car related analogy, so it’s like buying an turbocharged SUV when you just need to pickup weekly groceries. When a department grows, many layers are introduced, to maximize control and give everybody something to do. This often turns into time consuming processes whereby many projects fail. We try to ask what our users want, assess feasibility and deliver it. You’d be surprised how happy you could make them, working with an agile mindset, and putting your techies with the business.

Just a few things, how we try to run things at our ends. We don’t succeed all the time, since I come from a start-up environment (and God do I miss it), and we just have enterprise boundaries to deal with. But we’re trying, and slowly we’re getting there.

misc

CSS Background not showing in IE

I searched for a while, and could not find out why places.ae wasn’t showing it’s background in IE, but it was showing it in Firefox (didn’t check other browsers).

Apparently, I had a “mistake” in my CSS files, and IE seem to trap more on this than firefox. I had the following line:


#city{ background:url(http://img.places.ae/p2bg.jpg)repeat-x scroll left top; width:100%; height:208px;}

And the missing space aftedr the url() parameter, prevented IE from showing the background. Just a quick tip in case you run into the same problems.

misc

7days bashes on Linux, should stick to normal gossip

7days recently published an article about Valerie Singleton who created a PC for the elderly.

It was a well written, objective article until statements were made which wasn’t researched enough:

The computer runs on Linux – an operating system of such bewildering complexity to anyone outside its inner circle that trained IT experts have been known to weep in frustration at the process of installing a simple programme.

The reason? Linux has so many incarnations that software often has to be manually modified at the time of installation. That means coding. Yep, amateur programming. Scary, huh? Especially if you’re 82 and you’ve never used a computer before.

“Software” to be manually modified during installation is usually done when you set up services, such as dhcpd, sendmail and bind Let’s assume that a 82 year old will not install their own mailserver, or domain. From a Windows point of view, I doubt that many elderly will install a Windows Active Directory at home also. I would recommend Paddy Smith (the article author) not to mix up Interface and internal workings.

It’s like running a car, driving a car (the interface) is relatively easy, especially if it’s an automatic transmission. Start the car, put the transmission in “D” and push the right pedal. A car’s inner workings is a combination of electronics, air/fuel mixes, precise timed ignitions, and a lot more.

You don’t need a wrench to drive a car.
You don’t need to do coding to run an operating system.

I wish that topics highlighted in 7 Days’ articles were well researched before making statements.

In my eyes, Linux interfaces could be very easy for the young, or the elderly. On the EEE PC, Asus could get their Linux interface pretty right, I’m sure the “inner workings” were done by their IT geeks.
asuslinux

misc

Ban Ki Moon is now into 419 scams

un2009
It seems that the United Nations is reserving 500.000 USD and I’m one of the 10 lucky ones to receive it. 😉

It’s the all old 419 scams, all over again. Just wrapped into a JPG image, and using trusted names.

Some things will never change,