Are you sure…

So, over 2 years ago I posted my last blog here.  in those 27+ months a lot has occurred and a lot of changes have taken place, some for them for the best.  I guess I need to summarise what has been going on since then.

I could run through a million reasons as to why I stopped blogging, mostly due to work commitments and my reluctance to sit and type a long spiel after I got home.  but that should all hopefully change for the better now as long as I keep “to the company line” in regards social media  🙂

I was involved in a lot of stuff in the past 2 years for work, most of it being upgrades and implementations of new technologies like:

  • Installing a virtualised Citrix Xenapp 5 farm to replace an aging and bug riddled Citrix PS4.0 farm with consultants.  our first dabbling with a proper vSphere 4.0 environment and ESX 4 hosts.
  • Upgrading all the 450 odd desktop computers from the old reliable Windows XP images, to a new fresh Windows 7 install using MDT2010 and some physical drive cloning hardware to assist with the remote offices.
  • Changing the companies old ID cards which were hand made, to new hard plastic MiFare encoded professionally printed IDs that were not embarrassing to show during meetings.
  • Rolled out a new Managed Print Service throughout the Organisation to make it a uniformed printer at every office which works, and controllable by the ID cards we had created.
  • Running round half the country to migrate the larger remote offices networks from some old MPLS networks at 256k up to a much improved 2Mb network
  • Implementation of a brand spanking new vSphere 4.1 virtualisation environment, based on Server 2008R2 to replace the old hardware, on some brand new shiney “bits of tin” which were Poweredge R710’s
  • Rolled out a brand new Secure Remote Access solution for the organisation which used RSA tokens and Bitlocker encryption.
  • and many more small projects involving VPNs, Blackberry handsets, training users on some stuff, internal blogs and forums, and the obligatory need to do my own job at the same time.
That’s only a small part of what I actually remember, it has been 2 years of constant motion so I am sure there are smaller things I have missed out but its been interesting in some ways.
But, it all had to come to an end one day…  So on a mild morning at the end of March I went for a job interview with another company in Belfast.  I had been interviewing for a few months previous and they had never came to much, so I didn’t hold out much hope and thought I would go through the motions anyway.  Come the end of April and I received a phone call from their HR Department making me an offer.

My last day of work with my previous company was officially the  25th of May 2012.  8 years and 8 months after I started with them as a lowly temporary employee, which lasted 2 years and 5 months before I got a chance to work full time for them.  We started as a tiny group who had to deal with only 9 servers, and 25 sites throughout Northern Ireland, and it grew in those years to being in excess of 50 physical servers, 46 physical sites and a Disaster Recovery site which saw more disasters than the main office ever did.

So where does that leave me now?  Hopefully being able to blog a bit more  :mrgreen:  and uploading new photos to the newly updated Gallery (which co-incidentally broke a LOT of pictures in very very old blog posts) using a little android app called Xotof   🙂
Lots of things coming up in the future as well, first thing being a trip to Boston in the US with work for a week… lets hope the hotel has decent wifi so I can upload photos and update this blog  😆
Holy crap, that is a wall of text!

What’s that burning smell…

Why do the problems always occur to the company’s major-important systems?

So today, We have fixed another problem with our (PITA) “Case Management System”

but for once, it wasn’t because of Oracle.

(I’m sure the picture to the left has already given you a clue where the fault lay)

So, rolling back a bit to January we moved the back-end of the case management system to an ISCSI SAN.  We used a managed Netgear switch due to Cisco’s own 2960G range being “in constraint” and taking 2+ months to be delivered.

This all ran fine until Wednesday night, when we finally received our two new Cisco Catalyst 2960G-24 switches for the ISCSI Lan.  In they went and reconfigured courtesy of the 3rd party company Novosco (I should really name-drop them here, because they were very helpful throughout :mrgreen: )

Thursday morning, our system was off-line for some unexplainable reason.  We got them involved where some re-jigging went on to get it back up and going on only one server. Our CMS is clustered for disaster situations 😆

Friday night, they were back in with us looking at the over-arching infrastructure… and the top cisco switch was factory reset to start reconfiguring it, only to discover that the unit had failed entirely.  Thats when the lightbulbs came on!

This morning in went the old Netgear switch which was brought back in, and the iscsi san came up first time.  The bottom cisco switch was tested and it came back all OK as well… We had received a faulty top switch 😥
What didn’t  help was that the top switch was the “master” switch of the pair, it explains why fallover and LACP was screwy and things didnt work.

So the faulty switch is on its way back to Novosco’s office with the engineer, and the system is up and operational now, ready for them to use it again on Monday morning using only one switch.

The only question now is, how long until something else breaks and takes down the CMS 🙄  It better not be the other bleeding cisco switch!

You cannot escape

le CrackBerry

le CrackBerry So, that’s another mini-project “started”

At 10am this morning, we started the initial setup of a Blackberry Enterprise solution in with us.  This you would normally think would be dead simple,  Throw in the box and configure it, then open a few ports in a firewall and away you go.

Well, our network is not that simple 😥  Its quite complicated to explain how it works but our connection goes via two other “sections” before it touches the Internet,  so giving us numerous firewalls  to configure to allow the Blackberry solution to even remotely talk externally. I only have authorisation to change 2 physical devices while the rest are managed by individuals in the other sections.

So by 2pm today, our BES solution was able to communicate with the great big world.. and from then the first 2 company Blackberry phones have been activated 😎 So two poor hapless souls here suffer the indignation of having to carry a phone capable of accessing their work emails anywhere and any time.

The good part is, that I am not one of them so far.  And its effectively a pilot to allow the company to “test” the devices.
(truthfully, its the way management are trying to sneak the solution in under the radar so its suddenly available to all who need it later, without having to jump through the many hoops of buying the kit, when its already installed under a pilot)
This should make for an interesting few months then, once I receive the remaining 18 handsets and issue them out to the respective “testers” so they can break them! 🙂

This message was not sent from a blackberry device

Whats that dripping sound?

Server Image

Server ImageHa! Just been informed that our Disaster Recovery site in Antrim is flooded.

So that’s a couple grands worth of equipment fried/dead/BER

What a way to start the weekend 😥

So I now have to finish my lunch (which I was having late today) and drive from Belfast, up to Antrim to “get on the ball” and make sure we don’t lose more kit.

Who says working in IT is boring? 😆

Grabbing Pills!

The Survivors in Left 4 Dead 2

The Survivors in Left 4 Dead 2

Right,  so after many many hours of Left 4 Dead 2 with a few friends on Steam we have came across some interesting facts.  This has been noted on our steam community servers which are running Sourcemod with the country code mod enabled.

  1. The French seem to be the biggest country with “RageQuitters”, but this could be attributed to two situations
    • They don’t communicate with the rest of the team, yes I know french is a language but nearly everyone else uses English or “Pigeon English” to communicate stuff.  being able to shout “CHARGER BEHIND” in voice comms does help stopping you getting raped by said charger
    • some of them only want to play as Infected who win the round, if the survivors make it to the safe room they quit very quickly.
  2. A well co-ordinated team who does well in versus, never gets past the 3rd level due to the ragequits. If a team is losing then there is less effort to actually “win”.
  3. There’s more Aggro going around in-game, especially directed towards the new players (or n00bs as people love to refer to them).  They of course don’t help themselves if they immediately join a versus game when they have never played single player before 🙄
  4. Team Versus is almost as bad as “public” games, if the teams loses a round they allquit. some stuff we’ve noted are:
    • There’s more interest in playing the first level of Dead Center, just for the charger Insta-kill points. (if they fail to kill anyone in their round, they quit)
    • They are quicker to aggro than public games, with accusations flying normally within the 2nd level (again, hard to ever complete a versus game during Team Versus because of this)
    • Some teams take it very very seriously, if they immediately ask if the server your playing has cevo settings you know they are competitive.  They are also the teams who use Ventrilo instead of L4D2’s in-built voice comms (some teams don’t like the seconds delay you get at times)
  5. There is no friendly “banter” between the teams, everythings  taken so severe.  I don’t know if this is because a lot of people seemed to have came across from CS:S more than the original L4D players. (this we’ve noticed more of these players popping up since Christmas time)

It is always funny when playing and you realise someone on the opposing side doesn’t have a microphone, you start to pick on them more because the team can’t exactly react to someones shouts when they have to open a text box and type in “HELP!” 😆

I guess one reason we notice the ragequits more often lately is that we normally play as a “team” together.  Tho most of the times across voice comms our conversations are less about the game and more about random stuff that’s going on, or my cackling 🙂

Again, most of whats noted here has been on our steam community servers (hosted at ) so you may find it completely different on other servers or with other communities.  Just remember tho if the person doesn’t speak in game either they don’t have a microphone, or they’re french!