Sep 142014
 

For at least 5 years (I honestly don’t recall when I put the box together…) there’s a been an Antec Mini P180 purring under my desk. This machine has been running various flavors & versions of Linux, mainly performing as KVM host.
This box contains 4 hard drives, and a Intel Q9400S CPU. (For those who don’t recall: the ‘S’ suffix means lower powered (65W TDP instead of 95W TDP).

For a while I’ve been considering replacing this unit. The replacement has to be equally quiet, good for at least 5 years to come, and easy expandable. And… dual CPU, if possible.
There are not many PC producers who build dual CPU workstations. There’s the Dell Precision Tower 7810, the HP Z820 and… Supermicro.

Supermicro SYS-7048A-T
Supermicro X10DAi
And Supermicro is where I ended up. I was first eyeballing the 7047A-T, but was then informed about the Supermicro 7048A-T which has just been released.

After some debating with myself I decided on the following specs:

 nameamountprod. nr.
CPUIntel® Xeon® Processor E5-2620 v32CM8064401831400
RAMSamsung 8GB DDR4 2133MHz 1Gx4 ECC/Reg 1,2V8M393A1G40DB0-CPB
StorageIntel SSD DC S3500 - 80GB 2.5" MLC SATA 6Gb/s 7.0mm2SSDSC2BB080G4
VideoSapphire Radeon HD 5450 1GB DDR3
PCI-Express 2.0, DVI-I, HDMI, VGA, Lite-Retail, w/ LP bracket
111166-02-20R

I’ll be slapping some of my existing hard drives in there, but I haven’t decided yet on how many or in what configuration so the final storage space is pending.
This new system will have 4x the amount of RAM of my previous system and it will be at least twice as fast (due to it being a 2 CPU system).

The order has been placed with the good people at Nextron, and they expect to ship it on September 19th.

The only thing I’m not 100% sure of yet is how quiet it is… All Supermicro says is: ‘Whisper Quiet Workstation’. Does anyone know how loud the Supermicro employees whisper? :cool:

[more to come]

Aug 052014
 

the Mighty Microthe Micro MillenniumA little while ago I came across this gem from the past: A book titled ‘The mighty micro: the impact of the computer revolution’, by Christopher Evans. In the US it was published as ‘the Micro Millennium’.
This book contains predictions about the (then) upcoming microcomputer revolution, which includes predictions for the future up to the year 2000.
Just one example: ‘Starting from the 1990’s the use of cash money will be quickly replaced by the use of credit cards, which will most likely contain a chip.’

From the front of the Micro Millennium:

This book is about the future.
Not some distant future which we can blissfully ignore, but one which is imminent. It will involve a transformation of world society at all levels, and while taking place slowly at first, will gather pace with sudden force. It’s a future which is largely molded by a single, startling development in technology. The piece of technology is, of course, the computer.

This book was later turned into a 6-part television series, which is luckily available via YouTube:

  1. The Coming of the Microprocessor
  2. Of Machines and Memory
  3. The Political Revolution
  4. The Introverted Society
  5. The Intelligent Machine
  6. All Our Tomorrows

(Unfortunately dr. Evans passed away before the broadcast of this series in 1979)

Check it out on YouTube, when you have some time to spare. :cool:

Jul 312014
 

A while ago I decided switch to Google’s Gmail as my primary email account. Since most of my emails arrive on another account/server, I was hoping to use the Mail Fetcher functionality of Gmail to collect these emails from that old account automatically into my Gmail account. Well, it’s not that simple…

Gmail Mail FetcherI went to Gmail -> Setttings -> Accounts and Import -> Check email from other accounts (using POP3). Here I filled in all the fields, and hit ‘Add Account’… which gave me the following error: Server returned error: “Connection refused”.
First I thought: ‘Incorrect password’, and tried again. Same error. Then I went to the pop3 service logs on the email server of my old account, to see what was actually happening.
Turns out Google doesn’t even try to connect to my server. No connection attempts whatsoever in my Dovecot logs, and I know for sure my firewall isn’t blocking any connections on port 110.

How to resolve this? I’m not sure… I tried with adding another POP3 account on a different server. Same problem. If only there was a way to get in touch with a human at Gmail… :cool:

For the time being I’ve set up forward on the old server, but some day I hope to be able to use Mail Fetcher instead…

Jul 042014
 

Posten Sporing app - screenshot
I just came across an interesting feature in the Posten Sporing app of Posten Norge AS.
This app does the following (translated from the product description on Google Play):

Record tracking makes it easy to monitor packages on their way to you with the Post Office.
When you register with your mobile number and email we find automatically packages on the way to you. To achieve this, we rely on that the sender has registered your mobile number or email. We therefore constantly check if there are packages on the way to you and alert you via push when there is a new package. We will notify you when you can get it at the post office or possibly when it will be delivered to your home.

All good and well, of course. It also let’s you enter a package tracking number manually. Handy of course, should you have a package coming your way that didn’t make it into the system automatically.

Posten Sporing - 12345But… here you can also enter some totally random number like… 12345

And then it suddenly gets interesting! I see a long list of packages, none of them mine (see screenshot, which I mutilated a bit on purpose). I can track their whereabouts, and it wouldn’t surprise me if I’d get a hentekode (pickup code) in the app when the package I selected makes it to the post office and is ready for pickup.

I wonder how long it will take before less honest people will start abusing this ‘feature’…

Their website on http://sporing.posten.no/ is even worse. There I can also search by phone number. This makes it very easy for anyone to track exactly where their neighbours, colleagues & family shop, and quite often it also gives a fair idea of what’s been purchased…
Continue reading »

Feb 282014
 

html_status_code_502_azureAzure wasn’t having one of its best days yesterday. The mess started around 07:30 local time, and lasted until almost 16:00. In other words, our sites were down for the full duration of the business day!

The following table contains the ‘explanations’ Microsoft shared with the public during the downtime:

time (UTC)seriousnessstatus
06:35AdvisoryAn alert for Web Sites in West Europe is being investigated. It has not been determined if this is customer impacting. More information will be provided as it is known.
08:15AdvisoryWe are experiencing an issue with Web Sites in the West Europe sub-region. A very small number of customers may see intermittent timeouts or slow response when attempting to access sites. We are actively investigating. Further updates will be published to keep you apprised of the situation.
08:15Partial Performance DegradationWe are experiencing an issue with Web Sites in the West Europe sub-region. A very small number of customers may see intermittent timeouts or slow response when attempting to access sites hosted in this sub-region. We are actively investigating. Further updates will be published to keep you apprised of the situation.
09:15Partial Performance DegradationEngineers are actively investigating the issue. A very small number of customers may still see intermittent slowdown or timeouts. Further updates will be published within 2 hours.
11:15Partial Service InterruptionEngineers are currently evaluating repair options. A subset of customers may experience interruption to web sites hosted in West Europe. Further updates will be published within 2 hours.
13:15Partial Service InterruptionEngineers are continuing to evaluate and implement mitigation options. A subset of customers may experience interruption to web sites hosted in West Europe. Further updates will be published within 3 hours.
14:53AdvisoryThe repair steps have been successfully executed and validated. Full Web Sites functionality has been restored in the West Europe sub-region.

  • No mention of the cause. If they’d told us what the problem was we could have made a guesstimate ourselves on the duration of the downtime, and temporarily moved sites elsewhere.
  • No mention of how many sites/customers were affected by this. ‘a subset’ & ‘a very small number’ are as vague as one can get

And if all of this wasn’t bad enough, around 18:00 excrement again came in touch with ventilation devices! And this time both the West Europe & North Europe regions were affected. In other words: all hosting Azure has in Europe.
Again little/no explanations were shared:

time (UTC)seriousnessstatus
16:50AdvisoryAn alert for Web Sites in West Europe is being investigated. It has not been determined if this is customer impacting. More information will be provided as it is known.
18:10Partial Performance DegradationSome customers may experience intermittent time out errors or slow response when accessing their web sites. Engineers are actively gathering monitoring and alerting details to troubleshoot Web Sites in the West Europe sub-region. Further updates will be published to keep you apprised of the situation.
19:07Partial Performance DegradationThe repair steps have been successfully executed and validated. Full Web Sites functionality has been restored in the North Europe sub-region.

This one lasted ‘only’ 2 hours. Resolved around 20:00.

This morning I did some Googling and came across even scarier rumours: While repairing whatever caused the downtime yesterday apparently Microsoft has restored old(er) versions of files, without informing the customers involved!
I can not confirm whether or not this actually happened, but fact is that several of our site-indexes were corrupt and needed rebuilding…

At the moment of writing, 24+ hours after the incidents, there is still no explanation whatsoever (believe me, I have Googled!) for what was the cause of this monster outage. And when I don’t know the cause, I wonder… What are the chances this will happen again, and when?

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