7 Minute Miles

2009 Grandma’s Confirmation Card

Posted Saturday, February 28th, 2009 10:36 pm GMT -5 in Marathons,Running at 10:36 PM

Received my official confirmation of entry card in the mail today for the 33rd Annual Grandma’s Marathon, which will be held Saturday, June 20, 2009. My number this time will be 3669.

Online registration is still open as of today, so grab your spot if you want to run this year.

Originally published by DK on February 28, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Pirates of the Caribbean Jersey

Posted Saturday, February 28th, 2009 09:34 pm GMT -5 in Family,Personal at 9:34 PM

My sister has joined my brother in Florida – both now work for the mouse on the Disney Plantation. Lynn is on a cooking internship, currently working as a pastry chef at the Contemporary Resort. I think that lasts through June or July.

Yesterday I got a package in the mail that contained an awesome birthday gift: a Pirates of the Caribbean hockey jersey. Thanks Lynn!

Originally published by DK on February 28, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Wild Lose to Kings in Shoot Out

Posted Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 12:28 am GMT -5 in Hockey at 12:28 AM

The Wild gave up a loser point and then the extra point to a Kings team they should have slapped all over the place. The first period was so boring, I might have left if my daughter wasn’t with me. I probably should have, as I got a nice little $25 present on my car from the St. Paul Police Department that was placed there around 9pm. More on that in a minute…

The second period at least had some scoring, including the beautiful short-handed goal by Miettinen off the pass from Koivu. I’m pretty sure the Kings goal was scored by Johnsson, which ended the Wild’s long penalty kill streak. No goals in the third, although the Wild had a few chances. I am so sick of single digit shot totals in a period – what is up with that? Both teams seemed tired in the OT and just seemed to stop skating. I’m starting to hate the shoot-out even more now (and not because the Wild lost the last two I’ve witnessed). It’s a skills test, yes, but lately hasn’t really showcased a lot of skill. And please, Coach, keep Burns on the bench during shoot-outs for the rest of the year.

Now on to the real thing that made me mad tonight. I drive a MINI Cooper that used to fit just about anywhere in downtown St. Paul. Then the city put up signs that said no parking from here to corner. I’m fine with that. At the corner of Smith and Chestnut where I parked at tonight, though, there was no sign. Plenty of room for a MINI to fit. The curb was covered with snow, so there weren’t any markings I could see.

At 21:06, an Officer Lee decided that I was violating statute 169.34.1.a.6 – “Prohibitions – stopping, parking within 20 feet of crosswalk.” $25 fee – just enough to really not make it worth my time to dispute. So word of warning Wild fans – don’t park within 20 feet of a crosswalk, even if there are no signs or visible markings. Grumble, grumble.

Wild are off now on their six game road trip, which starts Friday in Calgary – 8pm start on FS North (no HD).

Originally published by DK on February 25, 2009 at 12:28 am

iStat by Bjango

Posted Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 03:50 am GMT -5 in Technology,Work at 3:50 AM

During my oh so fun network adventures the past few weeks, I did run across one wonderful new tool. iStat is a $1.99 iPhone application (normally $2.99) by a company called Bjango that can be used to remotely monitor Mac servers (and regular computers).

Very easy to set up, iStat actually has two parts: the iPhone program and a Mac program called iStat Server that runs on the machines you want to monitor. It transmits data on port 5109, so you may need to make adjustments to your firewall in order to get the two programs to talk to each other. I set this up on several Xserves running Mac OS X Server 10.4.11 and 10.5.6, as well as two Mac minis that I use as servers running regular 10.5.6 (see screen shot on the left).

Once your firewall rules are correct, configuration on the phone side was easy – enter an IP address and enter the 5-digit passcode that the iStat Server displays. As you can see in the sample screen shot on the right (provided by Bjango), iStat gives you a nicely designed layout for each device that provides live updates for CPU usage, RAM allocation, open hard drive space on each volume, network traffic (in both directions) and, depending on the machine, internal temperatures. Device uptime and system load are also displayed.

The program also allows you to see information about your iPhone: memory usage (with an option to free memory), open storage space, IP addresses in use, uptime, load, your phone’s unique identifier and the wi-fi MAC address. The last two items also have buttons to email those bits of data to whatever address you want.

There are also options for ping and traceroute, but I haven’t had as much luck using those as the normal monitoring features. That is probably more of an AT&T issue than the program, though. When connected to a wi-fi network, it seems to work better. Bonjour is also supported, so it can see devices that are running the server software.

Since my network has been wonky, iStat was a nice discovery to allow me a chance to get out of the building, but still watch what was going on in the server room. The look and feel are perfect and it works as advertised (aside from the ping issues). A steal at $2 – this is an application I would have paid much more for – especially when you look at the price of tools like Intermapper.

Now if Apple would come out with iPhone editions of Server Admin and Workgroup Manager, I’d be all set…

Originally published by DK on February 22, 2009 at 3:50 am

2009 Get in Gear Postcard

Posted Thursday, February 19th, 2009 01:08 am GMT -5 in Running at 1:08 AM

From our mailbox.

One of the best races of the year – sign up by March 29 for a discounted entry fee.

Originally published by DK on February 19, 2009 at 1:08 am

Holidays Greetings from the Wild

Posted Thursday, February 19th, 2009 01:00 am GMT -5 in Hockey at 1:00 AM

OK, so now you know just how far behind on things I am. Here is a scan of the holiday card I received from the Wild for being on the warming house season ticket waiting list.

Happy (belated) holidays!

Originally published by DK on February 19, 2009 at 1:00 am

State of the State of Hockey

Posted Monday, February 16th, 2009 10:45 pm GMT -5 in Hockey at 10:45 PM

Thanks to my “real job” nightmare, I haven’t had much time to focus on this site or on hockey in general. It’s hard to miss the general state of despair of the Wild online community, though. Russo thinks the Wild are toast, Hockey Wilderness is totally pissed and threats of season ticket holder revolts are flying left and right.

Yes, the Ottawa game was a massive choke. Yes, the Wild are uber-inconsistent this season. Yes, the Wild can’t string three wins in a row to save their lives. Yes, the upcoming stretch of games against top-ranked teams will be challenging. And, yes, 14 out of 17 games on the road is a bitch.

But you know what? I’m not ready to stop watching or call for Risebrough’s head on a platter just yet. Our beloved GM’s statement that “there are only four or five good teams in the league and the rest of us are all the same” is pretty much dead on. The Wild could very well stink it up for the rest of the season, but they also have a very good chance at any of the lower half of the playoff seeds (assuming San Jose, Detroit, Calgary and Chicago are locks for #1-4).

There is plenty of time at the end of the season to call for blood, but right now I’m excited to see what this crop of players can do. Hell, I’ll even give Dougie the benefit of the doubt at the trade deadline. History has shown this time of year isn’t exactly a showcase of his negotiating skills, but Mr. Leipold won’t let mistakes go on forever, right? Maybe he can redeem himself with the Gabby and Backstrom situations after all…

It cracks me up when I read posts from places like Detroit that can always find something to complain about. As if 82 points isn’t good enough, eh?

This clever ruse about consecutive sell-outs needs to end, though. I’m 99.9% sure all of those seats aren’t sold every game. Any insider informants out there that care to spill the beans? Leave us a comment or drop me a line at dk@hockey.mn.

Originally published by DK on February 16, 2009 at 10:45 pm

The Joys of Computer Networking

Posted Monday, February 16th, 2009 09:36 pm GMT -5 in Technology,Work at 9:36 PM

It took me another two weeks, but I think the HSRA network is finally stable. As I mentioned in the previous post, this was perhaps the most frustrating and hardest-to-troubleshoot technology issue I’ve dealt with in all my years of doing this type of work.

Lots of red herrings and false starts during this nightmare – old switches in the server room, stray switches everywhere, loop-backs, cabling, copier network card, server network card, firewall, power surges, mice, squirrels, strange liquids dripping from the ceiling, people bringing in foreign network devices. I tried isolation techniques to pinpoint the problem, but it always seemed to come back after a few hours. It also didn’t help that everything would work at night, only to fail once students and staff came in during the day.

After one all-nighter and four days in a row of late-night re-wiring sessions, I finally decided last week to switch over as much gear to the wireless network as I could. It seemed to be more stable through all of this and I was getting desperate. I just added four new Airport Extreme base stations this year, so I knew it should be able to handle the load from 50 new iMacs. I removed all of the older eMacs from the floor, as they do not have wireless cards. Amazingly, the network stayed up all day.

I added an isolated switch to the firewall and started connecting essential wired devices: printers, network security cameras and a few primary workstations (that lacked wireless cards). The key measure to see if the network would stay up was the system log on the server – link errors would appear there when the network was about to lose it’s mind:

Didn’t realize we still had AppleTalk turned on – it was apparently being used for printer setup. Turned it off on the server (which made the server log errors go away) and started reconfiguring all of the clients as well. Bonjour-only printer setup from now on…

With a functioning wireless network (and limited wired components), we decided that the issue had to lie with the physical wiring on the main student floor. This area had been re-constructed over the summer, with walls being torn down and wires pulled out of the old connector boxes. I already had pulled all of the stray Linksys switches off the floor, so we spent one morning last week with a Fluke wire tester and checked all 35 active ports – all checked out fine. I also checked all of the patch panel cables in the server room – also fine.

With the cables cleared of guilt, we started adding back student iMacs one advisory at a time using the wired Ethernet ports. Links errors reappeared within two minutes. At first we though it was one computer out of the first five, but after further testing, they all would give a link error.

I remembered reading a forum post that talked about manual Ethernet settings and IPv6. I couldn’t find the exact post again, so I just started experimenting with the settings. Out of the box, a new iMac is set to have IPv6 turned on and Ethernet set to automatic. After turning off IPv6 and setting Ethernet to manually, 100baseTX, full-duplex, flow-control and 1500 MTU, we experienced no more link errors.

Eureka!

I tend to think that the IPv6 change wasn’t necessary, but I’m keeping it off at this point. I added two more new 24-port Linksys switches to the server room and converted all of the machines back to the wired network successfully. We will hopefully be moving to HP ProCurve gig switches soon, but at least we are solid now.

Students were also experiencing two other issues that I considered unrelated: network login rejection when the server was at high CPU-utilization and kernel panic crashes on logout. These were both known issues that I found mentioned on the Apple discussion forums. The former was a server bug that has since been addressed in this weekend’s security update and the latter is caused by duplicate fonts in a student’s network directory. I deleted all fonts from the student home directories on Friday, so we’ll see if that helps this week.

Today I finally got to install the new iLife ’09 and iWork ’09 updates school-wide using the awesome K-12 site license we purchased ($250 for each suite). Bravo to Apple for the great recession-friendly school pricing.

We’ll see how this week goes, but it seems good so far…

Originally published by DK on February 16, 2009 at 9:36 pm

HSRA Server Room Project

Posted Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009 11:19 pm GMT -5 in Technology,Work at 11:19 PM

The past few weeks at work have been the most stressful I’ve had in several years. The network gremlins have been out in full force: students can’t login to the server, printers drop off the network for no reason, users can’t access the internet, etc., etc.

Normal troubleshooting hasn’t unearthed any regular pattern or source of the trouble. I’ve slowly been replacing and/or eliminating individual items – firewall, switches, cabling, server settings. Lots of little things have turned up, but nothing that has completely eliminated the troubles. At this point, almost everything has been touched at one point or another and it seems like I’ve rebuilt the network from scratch.

While I was on vacation, I had a consultant come in and do some troubleshooting and benchmarking. It was a bit expensive, but I needed the backup and I thought another set of eyes may see something I didn’t.

One of the outside recommendations was to increase server capacity. We’ve added a lot of computers this year, but I had more computers in LA last year with the same basic setup. Still, we had a great stroke of luck in that a company in St. Cloud wanted to donate some older servers to a school. The picture shown here is our old rack enclosure with all of the donated gear added. The new machines aren’t online yet (needed to order software, a new power supply and an extra RAID card), but we’ll soon find out if that helps with our peak login issues.

Once the HSRA network and server infrastructure is stable again, I have about 10 web projects to work on, including several non-profit side projects. Speaking of side projects, I’m also trying to learn iPhone programming. More on that in a future post…

UPDATE: Just after I posted this story, I checked the main HSRA server from home and couldn’t see it. I drove in to troubleshoot, and five hours later, I think I found the source of all our trouble. I’ll post a full report tonight.

UPDATE 2: All was well until about 1PM yesterday, when all hell broke lose again. Back to the drawing board…

Originally published by DK on February 3, 2009 at 11:19 pm
 

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