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Archive for May, 2010

Baby SAN (Storage Area Network)

Monday, May 31st, 2010

This is my new baby SAN (Storage Area Network), it’s a MSA 1000 (Modular Storage Array) with Active/Active Dual Controllers, Dual SanSwitch 2/8 connected to a MSA30 external storage box. Currently filled with 18.2 and 36.4GB disks to test and configure before moving any data.

Hewlett Packard MSA1000

Hewlett Packard MSA1000 - bright orange LED lit - Volume rebuilding!

This will replace my aging RA4100’s which are FC-AL, connected to host VMware servers at 1 Gbit/s to provide shared storage. using Compaq/HP Smart Array 5300 with FC-AL modules. Although the MSA1000 is now discontinued, it’s a real Fibre Channel SAN, and can be connected to Fibre Channel HBAs at 2Gbit/s, so potentially faster than iSCSI or NFS even with jumbo frames over gigabit networking, until I get some 10Gbit/s LAN switches! No longer supported by HP or VMware for vSphere 4.0, but then again neither are my RA4100’s!

Three Compaq RA4100s FC-AL Storage Arrays

Three Compaq RA4100s FC-AL Storage Arrays

The manual states, “Migration from RA4100 to MSA1000, removed all the discs from the RA4100, re-insert in MSA1000 in correct order, it will recognise the array configuration, and mount the volume, it should then be ready to present this LUN to your servers” – sounds too easy to me!

it uses a slightly unusual variation of an RJ45 connection, which further research indicates is called an RJ45Z. A normal RJ45 cable doesn’t work, because the Rj45Z has a special notch on it!

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Sunday, May 30th, 2010

It feels like months since I last blogged, but I’ve just been rushed off my feet, It all started on 16 May 2010, when I lost remote access to a client site, that weekend, I was supposed to be completing an SQL database upgrade. It had to be postponed because I couldn’t contact the site remotely via two different technologies, I suspected that there had been a catastrophic failure.

I received a telephone call on the way to the site on Monday 17th at 8.30am, it was apparent that something was seriosuly wrong.

Five minutes on-site, I discovered that the whole site had been infected with the W32/Conficker.worm, the client was running Sophos Anti-virus, but what made it worse that many of the Windows XP Workstations were not patched with MS08-67, many servers and workstations were infected across the site, and because it was found that some workstations were connected to both networks, both networks were infected. (so if you are reading this, and you’ve not run Windows/Microsoft Update for a while, do it today! – Backup first, and usual disclaimer applies!)

I was just getting the infection under control on one network, when one of the Domain Controllers failed on the other network with a disk corruption fault, which took me a day to recover the server, but the Active Directory Database was corrupted beyond repair and recovery, the Vertias IDR didn’t work, and I had to forceably evict the failed domain controller from the network.

This is what the passenger footwell of my car lo0ked like after two weeks…..

junk food in passenger footwell

junk food in passenger footwell

nice wall paper!

nice wall paper!

Note to self: Must go on a detox!

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Cat fur in my network switch!

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Maybe this is the reason why I’ve discovered cat fur in my HP 1810-24 Gigabit network switch ports.

Angus sits on top of HP 1810G-24 network switch

Angus sits on top of HP 1810G-24 network switch, in between Snap Server 2200 and VIA ARTiGO 2000 2TB NAS

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Up close and personal with Marina

Monday, May 17th, 2010


My ticket has arrived to see Marina and the Diamonds at Leeds Metropolitan University Student Union on the 31 May 2010, Lindsey thinks I’m having a mid-life crisis, it’s been about 26 years since I last purchased a ticket to see a pop group that was charting for a mere tenner! Lindsey didn’t want to go! So billy no-mates is going on his own!

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Broadband Woes Update

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Another BT Openreach engineer visited again last Friday to investigate my Broadband fault further, the first engineer that visited the property with his “BT Hawk”, found no fault on the line with the tests he conducted, and was surprised how good the quality of the line was considering it’s 3609 metres from the local telephone exchange. The second engineer brought with him the Remote Unit to connect to the end of my telephone line at the exchange to conduct a “full telephone line quality check” He had some initial issues with the earth bonding in either my property or the exchange to conduct the tests.

The issue I’ve been experiencing since January 2009 is a decrease in Sync speeds not throughput, although if your sync speed is low, this will affect your throughput, this took some explaining to the engineer, because he seemed to be getting confused with throughput, and kept telling me that speed tests and throughput will vary, he eventually agreed that Sync speed should not change much.

Noise Margin fault in progress

Noise Margin fault in progress, high SNR, until router reset

frosty outside tonight, high SNR, router disconnects and connects

frosty outside tonight, high SNR, router disconnects and connects

I’ve now narrowed down the fault to cooling down or warming up which causes the fault, so with these recent frosty evenings/mornings the sync speed has been very low, it remains stable throughout the day, but evenings and mornings have been the worse.

When he completed the “full telephone line quality check” the telephone line FAILED, the engineer did state that if this was a new Broadband service, it’s likely that BT would not guarantee service, but I made sure he was aware that broadband has been at the property before 2009 with no issue.

Hooraah!!! a fault! Now they can fix it and make my broadband better!

A RED alarm was given for AC Longitudinal Balance of 50 db. The BT Openreach Engineer stated this should be above 60 db for the line. From what I understand this is a measure of how well the pair is balanced and rejects external interference. The BT engineer called someone, asking to remain on the fault that had been found, because the customer was complaining of line drops, and then he requested to talk to the Service Provider (I don’t think this was Eclipse, but BT Wholesale), the engineer wasn’t certain that low AC Longitudinal Balance would cause this issue, but when speaking to the Service Provider and they looked at the logs, they could see lots of disconnects on the line, and state the Line Quality was poor.

The engineer wasn’t very happy that he would have to go off and explore the 3609m line to find the fault. He left the property at approx 9am. I saw him later at the BT cabinet in the villiage 2 miles away at 12noon. Whilst he was out, I took some photographs of his test equipment.

Later that afternoon (approx 4pm) he returned, telling me it had been a nightmare fault, and there were no spares on the pole or in the cable to the village as they are already DACS-ing lines on the pole (DACS – (Digital Access Carrier System) – It is a technology which allows two ordinary phone lines to be squeezed down a single copper pair.  Normally each phone line requires its own copper pair all the way to the exchange) but luckily they had found a unused telephone line on the pole (spare!?), it had been unused since 2006, this is a rented property in the hamlet, which is currently vacant (next door but one).

So they shifted my line on the pole to this line and retested, and now the AC Longitudinal Balance is 66 db, and passes the line quality test. The engineer was still sceptical that this wasn’t the issue, and suspects the equipment in the exchange of wire from the house to the pole.

But the line is now fixed and I’m happy to report at present, I’ve not encountered any line drops, sync speed decreases, or SNR increases.

My Broadband Speed Test

Noise Margin approx 9db

Noise Margin approx 9db after fault fixed

On a final note, it’s been very difficult to get this fault fixed, when you’ve got an Internet Service Provider (in my case Eclipse), circuit maintained by BT Wholesale and the actual telephone wire maintained by BT Openreach, and before when it was LLU-ed Tiscali!. Four different vendors trying to get one single fault fixed on the service. So it wouldn’t have made any difference in this case switch to another ISP, which so many people had been stating to me, over the last 18 months, the fault would have been carried to the new service provider, and they probably wouldn’t have had the logs to raise it with BT to get the fault cleared on the physical line!

So patience and constant badgering is the key….

The software used to generate the graphs is the fabulous RouterStats by

and was it all worth it, when this is the speed from my house with 3G from mobile network 3! (it was 2+ before I saved the results!), somethings not right, when wireless gives you faster broadband speed than wires!

My Broadband Speed Test

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Monday, May 10th, 2010

adventureland_cover(before leaving for work this am, I thought I’d have five minutes on this classic!)

I think I’m in real trouble now. There’s a fellow here with a pitchfork and pointed tail. …Oh Hell!

Obvious exits: none

You lost *ALL* treasures.

The game is now over!

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Goodbye Purplecloud and Thanks for the Budget Hosting

Sunday, May 9th, 2010


Hosting on a Budget. Done well.

I’ve been with Purplecloud since 2004, but as I migrate my last and final website, it’s time to say Goodbye. No real complaints, Budget hosting done well, and cannot grumble for a tenner a year (10 GBP). I’ve just grown up!

Thanks to James, Alasdair and David.

(PS I just wished my broadband worked as well as their Budget Hosting!)

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NEWSFLASH! Goldfinch’s nest in garden Exclusive photographs and Webcam

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Since April 2009, I’ve had Goldfinches visiting my garden regularly feeding on the Nyjer seed, before April 2009, I’d never seen Goldfinches in my garden. This weekend Lindsey told me she had seen Goldfinches around the Magnolia tree and the telephone wire (maybe this is why broadband playing up!). On further examination, I discovered a nest in the Magnolia tree, and to may amazement a few minutes later visited regularly by a pair of Goldfinches.

Goldfinch birds nest in Magnolia tree

Goldfinch birds nest in Magnolia tree

Goldfinch on the nest

Goldfinch on the nest

So time to get some tek out to get some pictures for the web…. (some time passes and ….)

I’m still trying to get better photographs, but at present my Canon EOS 350D Digital SLR is connected to my Leica APO Televid 77mm Spotting Scope using a Leica Photo Adaptor, this seven element adaptor converts the Leica Televid into an 800mm telephoto lens, with a focal ratio f/10. It’s then used with a T2 Ring adaptor to connect to the body of the DSLR. (no autofocus, strictly manual mode, and the camera in Av mode). The DSLR is tethered to a Windows XP Professional virtual workstation using an active USB 2.0 cable using Canon EOS Utility to remotely control the camera and take the photographs every 30 seconds and upload them to the workstation. (I’m using a virtual workstation, because the Canon software doesn’t spport Vista 64-bit). A bunch of scripts and other tek is then used to upload them to the webserver.

If you look at the right hand side panel, you’ll see the images taken every thirty seconds, if you are lucky, you’ll see the goldfinches on the nest.

The magnolia tree (nest) is approximately 40-50 feet from the camera.

The only issue, is ther DSLR runs on batteries, because I’ve not got a DC coupler for it! I’m also looking for a 30mm – 42mm Step-up ring to connect the Firewire CAM which would be better, I’ll not where out the shutter!

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